Are you a Fritter Fanatic?

Sweet, savory, salty they are always simple. They are a summer staple around our house.  While the corn fritter is the common choice in summer , most any vegetable can be added with ease.  For a simple dessert use any fresh- picked fruit into the slightly sweetened  batter.

The key to a great fritter is the batter. As always,  I will give you a  from-scratch recipe.  For those of you with a need for ease, I can recommend a great box mix to doctor. As always I love Krusteaz, it is my brand of choice.  I use the Sweet Pancake mix and add 1 tablespoon of vanilla to enhance the taste.  From Scratch Batter ….1 cup All Purpose Flour, 2 teaspoon baking powder, 4 Tablespoon Salted Butter, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup milk, (if using fruit) add 2 teaspoon Vanilla 

I normally follow the recipe of adding 2 cups of vegetable or fruit  to my batter. I always cut my fruit into 1/4 inch cubes for easier distribution in the batter.  I always use fresh of whatever vegetable or fruit.  FRYING FROZEN PRODUCT IS VERY DANGEROUS!  Yes, I just yelled at you!  Like your Mom.

Frying is the next step.  You will use a deep fryer meant for this exercise or a 4 quart stock pot for this.  Be sure to never fill your vegetable oil more than half the stock pot.  Hot oil is dangerous and this is not a joke.  You will heat the oil until it is 375 degrees, if you do not have a thermometer, I have a cheat.  You will drop a small soup spoon full of the batter and make sure it floats.  This will assure you of the oil readiness.  I normally do 1/4 cup of batter per fritter.  While frying  I roll the fritter to assure the color is the same all over entire fritter.  Once a Golden Brown is achieved I remove the fritter with a slotted spoon and set to dry on rack or plate covered in a thick layer of paper towel.

Fruit Fritters always get a dusting of the powder sugar.  Vegetable fritter are great served hot.  All that is left is to eat and enjoy.

Anyone Can Cook, now you can FRY UP A FRITTER!

Herbs, more than a garnish!

Here in Central Pennsylvania we have been having the backyard gardeners dream weather. Hot and sticky with a watering from Mother Nature most evenings. This means great yield on leafy greens, beans, beets, and most of all herbs. Many herbs are loving this weather. When I look across my small raised garden on my back porch , I beam with pride! Then comes the sobering thought. What am I going to do with them ?

So I will give you my proven winning methods of cutting for regrowth, hanging to dry and preserving herbs for all season use. As a bit of a Kitchen Witch, I use herbs for more then cooking. You need to start by knowing how to harvest. The best time is early morning , or late evening. My Grandma always said you never water or cut your plants when the sun is above your head. You NEVER EVER, cut closer then 6 inches from the ground on any herb. You want to allow a great base for the plant to continue to grow. Always water and feed them once you do a cutting, as a simple thank you for your harvest. Once you have harvested all you desire , let’s hang.

I sometimes use a lovely branch or piece of vine from my yard to hang them from on the wall. If you don’t have that in your home a simple hook or nail will do. You will want to bundle or secure the base of the cutting with twine, rope or a rubber band. Hang them upside down in an area that has great air flow, no direct sunlight and they will not be bumped. I allow mine to hang for days, weeks, even months. I love having the decoration and knowing I will be able to use them at some point.

You can also go strait into fresh use and freezing. I make herb butter, herbed oil cubes(freezer), and lots of infused vinegars. With fresh herbs in your garden, being a gourmet chef becomes mush easier and cheaper. You are only limited by your resourcefulness and imagination. Flavored cooking salts have become very popular they are super simple.

PROVENCE Coarse Sea Salt 2 Cups Coarse Pink Sea Salt, 1/2 cup finely chopped basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme MIX it all together and store in decorative mason jar, or salt pot.

Now that we have had Herb 101, you will not let this plant gold go to waste. Anyone Can Cook, and you can use herbs like a Pro!

What’s up Short Stack? Pancakes for your littles!

Summer is here. I know making breakfast for my littles is and always be one of my favorite things about being a MOM! My youngest child has many Knick names. Short stack is by far one of my fondest. Because she is just so small and adorable. Just like a small stack of silver dollar pancakes.

Pancakes have so many recipes, so many shortcuts and so many wonderful variations. Do you like them crispy? Do you like them fluffy? Do you hate making them from scratch? Do you only make them from scratch? So many questions, so may different ways to top them. Yet we all agree, WE LOVE THEM!

Lets talk mixes. After all I am an advocate of ease! When you have kiddo cooks, this is the way to go. I only use a COMPLETE MIX! All the cooking skills are able to be practiced, and little to no mess. I am a huge fan of the KRISTEAZ Brand. I find they are not only, COMPLETE, but Tasty. They are cost friendly as well.

Toppings are endless. It is summer and berries are at the peak. Any child would never turn away breakfast with a sweet side of whipped cream and berry. We want them to eat and they want something sweet.

So, if you want to be Super Mom or Super Dad you can always make from scratch. The Recipe is easy. You will need 2 Eggs, 1/4 cup oil, 1 stick melted Butter, 1 3/4 cup Milk, 2 cups Flour, 1 tsp salt, 2 TBSP Baking Powder, 3 TBSP Sugar. Combine all Ingredients and DO NOT OVER MIX. LET IT SIT FOR 5 Minutes to rise. Heat pan and rub with Stick of Butter. Pour Pancakes in desired size. I like to use a small 1/4 cup measuring cup to make uniform pancakes.

ANYONE CAN COOK, now you have a great Staple for Breakfast.

Caponata , on Everything!

One of my favorite things about Summer is fresh produce. I love nothing better than a fresh market basket to bring home and cook up. My tendency is to go Italian. I love tomatoes, herbs and olive oil.

Eggplant is the purple nemace from my childhood. Now I find I can make it in so many tasty and unique ways. It seems to grow so well here in the Central Pennsylvania soil. So, as the PA Dutch say, WASTE NOT WANT NOT! Gather it when it is on sale and plentiful. So lets make this tasty “salad”.

I start by warming a LARGE frying pan with a thin layer of olive oil and minced garlic. When I am making any dish starting this way , the more garlic the better. I often can use up to 7 cloves. Once you have the Garlic Oil ready, you are ready to add your onions. My preference for this dish is always RED onion. They are colorful, sweet and hold their integrity in the dish. If I have a red , orange or green pepper I add it to the dish as well. Both the onion and the pepper need to be in a rough chop. Finally comes the star of the show. Leaving the skin on , chop the eggplant into one inch cubes. Eggplant will get watery if you add salt, hold that until the end. After adding the eggplant to the pan, drizzle with more olive oil , stir it all together and cover the pan. I watch the pan stirring in 3 minute increments. Once you have all the ingredients in and cooked, herb time has arrived. Your ingredients should not be mushy, FORK TENDER! I always use fresh, because I have them. Parsley, Oregano, Basil and now salt to taste. This can be served warm alone, an amazing pasta addition, meat topper or I have even had it with eggs. As you can tell I love my Vegetables.

ANYONE CAN COOK, now you can make Eggplant!

Mulberry Madness, A Sweet Reminder Summer is HERE!

I have a lovely yard, filled with fruit trees. One holds the sweet-tart berry that signals Summer is here. Growing up I remember playing in the garden hose and being covered in a light purple stain all over my face from eating them strait from the tree. Mulberries, you either love them or hate them. They are a bit tart if you don’t wait for the dark purple to emerge. With a little patience and the proper dosage or rain and sun, they are dark purple perfect!

Pancakes, muffins, cakes, pies or simply fresh they are the perfect summer fruit. I tend to make them with my pancakes, and jelly. Simple and most of the time, Free. They are the perfect gypsy ingredient.

Mulberry Jam Ingredients 3 cups smashed berries ( leave stems, not an issue) , 2 cups Sugar , 1/2 cup Lemon Juice, 3 T of Sugar Pectin( I use BALL)

Prepare jars, and lids. Combine mulberries, lemon juice, and butter in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Whisk in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly. Add entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Remove lid and let stand in canner for additional 5 minutes. Remove jars, cool, and store. This will yield 4 pint jars.

When you are adding these berries to anything be sure to lightly rinse and toss gently in a colander. THEY ARE FRAGILE, you will discover that when picking them!

Anyone Can Cook, Go Find a MULBERRY tree. Start Summer Right!

Baking with your kids, Can be FUN!

I know the last thing a Mom or Dad wants to do is bake with their kids. Time is the only thing we can not buy with Money these days. The memories that you will make in the 3 months of Summer, will last a lifetime. When I make a cake, bake a cookie, or roll a pie crust it triggers a fond memory. I realize the EXTREME amount of Love my Mom, Aunt, or Grandma had for me.

Baking does not have to be hard and you do not have to do it from scratch. Box mixes are a great opportunity to allow your kids to practice math, creative thinking and time management. One of my favorite things about a plan box mix is, you are only limited by your imagination.

My favorite HOTROD Box Cake creation is my Pineapple Coconut Cream Cake. It starts with a Humble Yellow Mix, that is as far as normal goes here! I replace the oil with Crushed pineapple (same measurement as oil), Coconut Cream Milk ( for water), and eggs as usual. I add to the mix 1 cup Toasted Coconut flake and 1/4 cup brown sugar. This goes in the oven at a 20 degree lower temp and 10 minutes longer. Low and Slow to avoid burning. This one is Super Simple to make, my daughters can make this with ease. When this comes out of the oven, topping is not needed. My kids use Cool whip to garnish!

Cookies can come from a Pre made box, a recipe from a package, or your favorite Pinterest Recipe. What you need to remind yourself is…… This does not have to be perfect. Allow your children to measure, pour and mix. Your end goal is an edible product and a great sense of accomplishment because they helped. Then they will have a joy for cooking and baking paired with a memory of LOVE!

ANYONE CAN COOK, and you can bake with your kids and Have Fun!

Grow Your Food, Then you will know where it has BEEN!

When you grow your own herbs and vegetables you are 100% sure where your food has been. So many articles and social media scare us with all the things BIG BUSINESS is doing to our food. If you are one of those individuals this is a panic button for, Grow your own Food! You can do it!

All greenhouse and BIG BOX stores have a fresh plant section. If a patio planter is all you have space for, GO FOR IT! Stop making excuses , grab some potting soil and plants. I always advise you start small with a couple peppers, tomatoes, squash. You only need a small land plot to grow lettuce and it is super simple. When planting herbs, start with pre-grown small container plants. Keep in mind, herbs last from year so f you plant them, that is where they will re-emerge! I have huge success with Miracle Gro Product, and Burpee seed. Locally I can not say enough about Family owned green houses. I am a supporter of Bonnie Belle herbs! What you put in your soil is as important as how you care for your plants.

Simple Sauces and Salads are easy to achieve and with a little practice you can master this. Anyone Can Cook, and know how to grow their own food!