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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Not-a-Food Recipe: Dirty Copper Flour Polish

More fun with non-edible recipes!  After my adventures with K-Dough (which still makes me giggle), I wanted to see what other cool things I could do with flour in a non-baking capacity and this one is pretty handy.

I try not to use a lot of harsh chemicals at home because me and the homefries are crazy enough as it is without adding something new to the mix.  I have a couple of really nice vintage kitchen collectables that have gone dull over the years but with this concoction made from easy-to-have-on-hand ingredients, well now they are shiny and almost newish again.

Disclaimer: depending on the age and/or condition of your copper, you may not get an as-good-as-brand-new shine, and I found mine had a bit of streaking once done, but overall for a quick shine, it gets the gunge off pretty easily.  Best bet is to test run on an inconspicuous section of your item and see if it suits your needs.

Dirty Copper Flour Polish

Mix together the following in equal parts:

white vinegar

Rub a thin layer of the mixture on the item you want to shine up.

here's what we started with
Let it sit for a minute and then using a soft cloth or soft paper towel, wipe off the polish.

makes a noticeable improvement
You may have to repeat the process once or twice to get resistant spots done.

you can really see the difference



You can adjust your mix to match the size of the object(s) you're trying to shine up.  To do all three pieces shown in the photo, I mixed up five measured teaspoons of each ingredient.

I found many different combos of this formula online, some use water, some don't, so feel free to experiment and find what works best for you.

I ran each piece quickly under cool water and then toweled them dry to remove any residual polish.  I am pretty happy with the end result.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Almond Cornmeal Sponge Cake with Honeyed Almond Topping

I'm a genius.  Yes, every now and then my modesty kicks in, but not today.  Here's a little concoction I came up with to make use of the almond flour I bought this weekend.  This cake is SO moist, it's ridiculous.  Works both as a coffee cake or dessert. Either way you want to slice it up, it's a winner.

Almond Cornmeal Sponge Cake with Honeyed Almond Topping

sponge cake
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tsp. almond extract
1-1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup white cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

honeyed almond topping
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp. water

Cream butter and sugar until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next.  Mix in the milk and almond extract.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and blend together until well mixed.  The batter will be grainy and not smooth.

Prepare a 9x13" pan (grease sides and line with parchment paper).  Pour batter and spread evenly in pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit for a minute.  Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and then flip out onto a lined cookie sheet and allow to cool.

While the cake is cooking, toast the sliced almonds.  I did mine on the stovetop with a dry (unprepared) skillet.

Takes about 8-10 minutes over medium heat.  Stir constantly to keep from burning.  When they start to brown, remove skillet from heat and transfer toasted almonds to a small bowl.

Toss the almonds with the cinnamon while they are still warm.

Stir in the honey and water and set aside until ready to use.


Almond flour is very moist and crumby.  Unless you are using it as the base for a crust, for which it is perfectly suited, almond flour needs a baking companion in the form of a more powdery flour to handle moisture absorption. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.

Also found out that almond flour is VERY expensive (I paid $17 for a one-pound bag).  So even though I believe every day can be considered a special occasion, I would not use this for everyday baking but recommend saving it for a super duper fancy occasion (like having a hard day and you deserve a treat). 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Not-a-Food Recipe: Homemade Play Dough

Since everyone already knows you can use flour for baking, I thought it would be fun to dough something else instead. Hee hee hee.  So here you go, a little something that you and the kids (kids of any size, mind you) can make at home for hours of creative fun.

Homemade Play Dough (aka "K-Dough")
requires stovetop cooking
NOT for eating, but shouldn't kill you if you do

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup warm water
1 tsp. veggie oil
food coloring for tinting

In a saucepan, mix together flour, salt and cream of tartar, breaking up any large lumps that form.
Slowly whisk in warm water and oil.
Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly as it thickens and starts to come together. 
Remove from pan and turn out on a rolling mat.  Let it sit a minute or two to cool off a bit then knead until smooth.

I cut mine in half to make two colors.  I added a couple of drops of food color and kneaded it in until the color was evenly spread. (3 drops blue = light blue, 2 drops red = pink, 2 drops yellow = yellow, 3 drops green = bright green)
Remember, it’s going to be hot so even if the outside feels cool-ish, the inside may still be hot.  Let it completely cool to room temp before you let the kiddoes play with it.

Store it in an airtight container.  Should be good for up to 3 months.

I made two batches to get four colors.  I used empty frosting containers for storage.

Making this would be a fun activity to do with kids, basic intro to (non-edible) cooking and a great way to get them started on the color wheel (blue + yellow = green, yellow + red = orange, red + blue = purple).

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Raspberry Lemonade Rice Flour Muffins

First, apologies for the typo in the flour list on Wednesday's post: "Almond flour – suitable for folks who need a gluten-free diet or Celiac disease."  Almond flour is NOT for those who need Celiac disease, but rather those who HAVE the disease and NEED a gluten-free diet.  Have got to cut back on late night posting.

Since we're talking gluten-free, my first new flour venture will be with stone ground White Rice Flour which is just that.  For the didyaknows about rice flour, check out the Notes section below, but for now, check this out.  Tasty delicious muffins.

Raspberry Lemonade Rice Flour Muffins

2 cups white rice flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Simply Lemonade with Raspberry
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tbsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. almonds, chopped (optional)
3/4 cup raspberries + 1 tsp. sugar, fork mashed

In a bowl, mix together rice flour, eggs, lemonade, sugar, oil, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest until smooth.  If you decide to go there, add in the almonds.
Pour mixture into a lightly greased muffin tin.

Place a dollop of the sugared raspberry mash on each one and with a fork or spoon, do a quick swirl to incorporate it into the muffin.
Bake at 425 degrees for 18 minutes or until muffin springs back to the touch.

Remove muffins from pan and cool on rack.  Then enjoy!


Another variation, try using plain lemonade and adding in dried blueberries.

So I used paper baking cups, but I would recommend NOT doing that because the muffins stick to the paper and then you have to gnaw it off which is not pretty.  Just grease the tin and use a knife to loosen them from the pan, best way to ensure a whole muffin.


Rice flour is made from white or brown rice. The rice husk (or paddy) is removed then the raw rice is ground to a powder (flour). It's used a lot in Asian cuisine for making rice noodles or desserts (like Japanese mochi).

Because it's gluten-free, makes a good substitute for wheat flour.  Can be used, like cornstarch, as a thickening agent and is supposed to especially effective when used in recipes for foods that get refrigerated or frozen because it helps inhibit liquid separation.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Wonderful World of Flour

Over lunch the other day, my friend August was telling me about a recipe that she makes using acorn flour, a flour that she and her mom make from scratch.  Acorn flour?  I had never heard of such a thing before or at least never seen it available in stores, but it did get me thinking about flour.

With so many rampant allergies these days and gluten intolerances, I had noticed that stores seem to carry a much wider variety of flours that I ever remembered on the shelves when I was growing up.

Of course this got my brain churning and wondering what the what was with flour.  I started to do a little looking into it and started having flashbacks to when I was prepping for my post about curry.  There is a LOT more going on in the world of flour than I realized or would want to cram into a single post, so I was thinking that over the next couple of weeks I want to try out some of these flours that I've not used before and see what fun stuff I can come up with to share with you.

Just to get you all prepped for the fun floury times ahead, here's a skimming the surface look at flour.


Flour, at its simplest, is defined as a powder made by grinding cereal grains, seeds, or roots.

Evidence has been found indicating that since around 6,000 BC, seeds were crushed between millstones to make flour.

Throughout history, grinding flour has been achieved with hand power (mortar and pestle), with animal power (horse mill), by water (water mill), wind (wind mill) and electricity (grinders).

The Romans were the first to grind seeds using cone mills.

Starting in the 1930-40s, flours were enriched with iron, niacin, thiamine and riboflavin.

Wheat flours are most common in Europe, North America, Middle East, Indian and North Africa while corn flour (aka maize flour) is more widely used in Mesoamerican cuisine and through the Americas.  Rye flour is common in much of central Europe and rice flour is more often found used in Asian cuisine.

Types of Flour Preparation

*Unbleached flour – natural state and has not been bleached so is not “white”
*Refined flour – has had the wheat germ and bran removed
*Bleached flour – refined flour with a whitening agent added
*Plain flour – does not have a leavening agent in it
*Bread flour – high in gluten protein
*All-purpose flour – lower in gluten protein
*Self-rising flour – some leavening agents (like baking powder) are contained which help produce a lighter, softer baked product
*Enriched flour – some of the nutrients which are lost during the process of making flour are added back in

Types of Flour Sources

*Acorn flour – made from ground nuts, can be used as a substitute for wheat flour, used primarily in Native American and Korean cuisine
*Almond flour – suitable for folks who need a gluten-free diet or Coeliac disease
*Bean flour – sometimes made from fava beans, is gluten-free, high in nutrition, but rumored to have a strong aftertaste
*Brown rice flour – what edible rice paper is made from, used most often in Southeast Asian cuisine
*Buckwheat flour – used in US for pancakes and in Japan for soba noodles
*Chickpea flour – used often in Indian cuisine
*Coconut flour – highest fiber content of any flour
*Corn flour – sometimes called corn meal, which is similar but coarser, and is used for making tortillas and tamales in Mexican cooking
*Rice flour – a substitute for those who have gluten problems, contains no gluten
*Rye flour – used primarily in northern European cooking, the base for sourdough, pumpernickel bread uses rye flour which makes it dark and tangy in taste
*Sorghum flour – from grinding whole grains of the sorghum plant
*Tapioca flour – from the root of the cassava plant, used as a starch there are some flours out there and I, for one, can't wait to start exploring some of these other types.  Not that I don't love my old reliable, but it seems like there's a whole new world to explore.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Johnnycakes with Black Bean-Turkey Sausage Chili

Since I brought back a bag of Geechie Boy cornmeal, I thought I would try to find something to do with it other than make cornbread (too obvious).  What resulted was...interesting.

I'd always heard the term "johnnycakes" but was never 100% sure what one was so I did a little research.  Basically they are cornmeal pancakes without the sweet taste. They are also sometimes called "journey cakes" and historically they were a quick and easy grain made by frying up corn gruel in a skillet, made them easy to eat and travel with.

You don't want to eat them by themselves, that's for sure, so tonight I have included one of my what's-in-the-cupboard-chili recipes for you to try with it.


1-1/2 cups white cornmeal
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup milk
cooking spray (or bacon drippings if you've got them)

Mix together the cornmeal and salt and set aside.

After you boil some water, measure out a cup and pour into the cornmeal and salt.  Mix in your milk until texture is consistent.  Will be thickish like pancake batter.

Pour 1/3 cup batter into a hot skillet prepared with cooking spray (or bacon drippings if you've got them).

Cook until brown on one side and flippable.  Then flip over and continue cooking until both sides are browned.

Serve up while hot.

K2's Black Bean-Turkey Sausage Chili

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, NOT drained
1 (15 oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 (10 oz.) can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 (10 oz.) can sweet corn, drained
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 cups Jimmy Dean's Turkey Sausage Crumbles
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1/3 cup sliced green olives (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Put all the ingredients in a deep dish skillet and cook for at least 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, over medium heat.

Garnish with shredded cheddar and/or sour cream and a johnnycake or two.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Check It Out (WILC): Geechie Boy Market & Mill

Every Christmas the Guinea Pigs gift me with a year's subscription to Southern Living, which I love.  Not only does it have fabulous write-ups and recipes, it's a great source for finding those little Southern gems that you might not know about otherwise.

Over the past couple of years I've started a Charleston file where I tuck away articles and features on places I'd like to venture too and they have always been on the money.  So a while back SL did a feature on Geechie Boy Market & Mill in Edisto, SC which is just 30 minutes outside of Charleston proper.

Their specialty (as you may have guessed from Sunday's post) is milled corn -- grits and cornmeal.  So on my last trip my friend Jennifer and I ventured out and we were not disappointed.

FYI, you can order their product online.

The drive out is Southernly scenic and relaxing.  And you can't miss the little red clapboard shop with the huge red climb-at-your-own-risk (it actually says that) chair out front.  We timed our visit just right, hit a slow moment that gave us a chance to chat with Betsy, who with her husband Greg Johnsman, owns the shop.

They carry jams, jellies, hot sauces, fresh-made pasta, gifts and other treats made by local artisans, included fresh honey from the bees they have onsite.  But they are best known for their milled-on-premise grits and cornmeal. You can get both white and yellow grits (I got yellow) and white and yellow cornmeal (I got white).

We found out that they are only open three days a week -- Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- because they spend two days milling and packaging their product and then two days cleaning all the corn dust from the shop.

Greg uses a 1945 mill that has been upgraded and revamped a bit to make it user-friendly.  We weren't able to meet him that day, but were told by the missus that he loves everything about milling and will talk your ear off about it if you let him, but we found Betsy to be just as well-versed in the ins and outs of milling too.

It was a fun little place to visit, good things to buy in the shop, and some serious learnin' to be got on too, y'all!

Fun Facts I Learned at Geechie Boy

* To get a nice all-around crisp, when you pop your cornbread out of the iron pan or skillet, put it back into the skillet upside down and leave it for a few minutes to finish the edges.

* Moonshiners prefer to use white cornmeal for their mash because it's sweeter than yellow cornmeal.

* The old saying "keep your nose to the grindstone" comes from when millers would check to make sure their grinding stones weren't overheating by putting their nose to the stone to smell for burning.


Want to send a shout out to Betsy Johnsman for taking the time to chat with us and for sharing her mom's super yumtastic shrimp and grits recipe!  Make sure to check out their website linked above.

And a shout out to my pal Jennifer for being the best SC chauffer an out-of-town girl could have. :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Why I Love Charleston: Geechie Boy Grits and Shrimp Gravy

So I'm doing this a little backwards.  I was going to introduce you to the fabulous world of the Geechie Boy Mill & Market first and then stun you with a delicious recipe, but weekend plans got in the way and so I'm going to stun you first.

Was at the beach this weekend with my friends Deb and Scott who stepped up to the plate (literally) to be my guinea pigs.  I've never done grits before, but Betsy Johnsman at Geechie Boy gave me both her mother's recipe (available at the shop) and some helpful hints to smooth the way for my first venture.  Add in some super fresh coastal shrimp and we have a winner.

Geechie Boy's Shrimp and Grits
based on Boone Jenkins' recipe

3 cups water
1 cup Geechie Boy stone-ground grits
1-1/2 cups half and half
salt and pepper to taste

shrimp gravy
1 tbsp. butter
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup white wine

Bring water to a boil over high heat.  Slowly add grits, stir lightly then cover and reduce heat.

As grits thicken, add half and half, about 1/4 cup at a time, making sure to stir it in fully each time.

Continue to cook all told for about an hour, adding half and half and stirring occasionally throughout the process.

For the shrimp gravy, melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add tomatoes and onions and cook until they begin to caramelize.

Toss in shrimp.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the shrimp, tomato, and onion until the shrimp turns pink.

Splash in white wine and continue to cook until the shrimp are done and wine is reduced.

Plate grits and cover with a generous serving of shrimp gravy.


I have been informed that real GOOD grits take at the very least 45 minutes and up to 2 hours to be done right.

If you're wondering why my grits are yellow, it's because I bought yellow grits.  Geechie Boy had both yellow and white available.  I went with yellow grits and white cornmeal, just to shake things up a bit.

Because we bought very fresh still in the shell shrimp, we bought almost 1-1/2 lbs. so that by the time we de-shelled it we'd have just over 1 lb. We also cut our large shrimp into smaller bite-sized pieces to allow for more shrimp per bite in the gravy.

When I say "we" prepped the shrimp I really mean "thank you Scott for handling the shrimp so that I didn't have to worry about shrimp-stinky hands while I cooked." :)