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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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baking

Americans have been enjoying this springtime cake since the early 1900s when many cakes were made in cast iron skillets. (The skillet could be put in a wood burning stove oven without harming it.) Continue reading

Carrot Cake – Flash Fiction

“Girl, you dare put a piece of carrot cake in front of me that’s got bugs in it?”

“Grams, you know those raisins aren’t bugs.”

“Well they look just like the weevils that got in our flour when I was a girl and I ain’t eatin’ that.

“Grams, you taught me to make that cake, pick the raisins out and try it.”

After a tentative taste Grams old face wrinkles. “This ain’t my recipe it’s got hooch in it.”

“It’s not hooch, it’s Jamaican Rum I soaked the fruit in.”

“I guess them bugs are good and dead then.”
**

March 16, 2018, prompt from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or unusual. Why is there cake? How does it feature in the story. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by March 20, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published March 21). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Yum-Yum

I used to work at The Olive Garden restaurant. We could sneak soup or bread sticks when we were hungry, but we could get suspended for eating the Andes chocolate mint candies that were given when the check was presented at each table. Over such a little thing as that? Yes, because when there are fifteen-plus empoyees on duty and we all eat our fill, the big box that should last all evening, disappears in about an hour. The candies are so good, and a refreshing minty taste remains when one is allowed to slowly melt in your mouth. Continue reading “Yum-Yum”

Reminds Me of Home

The blond brownie is a golden color with a mild molasses flavor achieved by using brown sugar instead of cocoa for flavoring. I find it interesting that the recipes I looked at and have made myself, all add some sort of chocolate to the blond brownie, usually in the form of chips. Now why not just make a chocolate brownie? Who knows? Humans are funny that way. Continue reading “Reminds Me of Home”

According to the National Day of Calendar many people receive fruitcakes as gifts sometime during the holiday season. Some people eat the holiday bread. Others may re-gift them. There are those who sneakily throw them away and others who will do so openly. But on the third day of January, another type of fruitcake, ahem, person comes out of the woodwork.  These are the characters who have hoarded them, stored them and hid them so they can celebrate National Fruitcake Toss Day. The idea being, see how far you can throw one of the hard disks. Continue reading

My Mom Did It

As a youngster our family birthday tradition was we got to pick the menu for that day and Mom would make a scratch two-layer cake and decorate it with the frosting color of our choice. My dinner was baked ham with pineapple and clove, mashed potatoes and peas. My cake was a Chocolate Town Special (recipe used to be on the Hershey’s bitter cocoa can)  with white frosting and piped sky blue pink designs. Before frosting the cake Mom would wash a dime and push it, standing up, into the bottom layer. The four of us girls, Mom, her friend Doris and maybe a couple of extras would be on hand when the cake was cut. Who ever got the dime was supposed to have good luck all year. I don’t remember opening presents, but I have fond memories of those cakes. Continue reading “My Mom Did It”

Cakes, Cookies and Pies, Oh My!

It’s National Gingerbread Day. In June? My sentiment exactly. Where is the picture of a hard brown man-shaped cookie that should represent this day. There is a lot more to ginger than just a ginger cookie at Christmas time.

It is said ginger has been used to calm an upset stomach since the late 900’s. No, that’s not a misprint, I do mean 900A.D. It has been used to flavor breads, cakes, pies, and our most memorable Christmas cookie for a very long time. Now it is even used to flavor beer. What will they add it to next? Shampoo, maybe?

When I was in grade school there was usually a box of Nabisco Gingersnaps in the cupboard. I can envision the yellow box now and smell the aroma as if an open box were right in front of me. A cup of warm milk to dip the cookies in after playing out in the snow was a traditional winter treat. I would dip the cookie, suck off the goo, then swirl the ginger flavor in my mouth finally swallowing it slowly so the warm mush could coat my throat to make the flavor last longer.

These days there is always a bottle of ground ginger in my spice cupboard. I use it in my baking and even in a couple of stew recipes. It’s great to sprinkle some on a nice piece of white fish or chicken breast for a different zesty flavor. I also like candied ginger. I chew it a long time so it adds a hot zing of freshness to my mouth.

We are only six months away from Christmas (groan) when the hard brown man-shape cookies make their appearance once again. I suggest you don’t put much frosting on the ones you make, or choose to purchase so you can really taste the ginger. Oh, and don’t forget to get extra milk to go with them.

My First Choice

It’s National Macaroon Day. Whenever there are holiday cookie trays in my reach, my first choice is the coconut macaroon. I never have liked those really dry, tasteless little coolies with lots of frosting. In the Jewish section of big grocery stores there are cans of Manischewitz macaroons. I have to resist buying more than one can, because I eat them all. What a treat! A moist morsel of coconut already prepared for me.

Macaroons are very easy to make. The National Day of Calendar gave two recipes; one made with egg whites and the other with condensed milk. I can’t tell you which one is better, but the fact one had you dip the cookies in melted chocolate got my attention. Chocolate at any time is a good thing.

In the novel I wrote, that is still just a pile of paper on my desk, I have my main character, Millie, making macaroons. It’s a cookie you can make as soon as you think about it because there is no waiting for the ingredients to warm to room temperature. They bake quickly and disappear even more quickly.

I think I need to stop writing and go put coconut and condensed milk on my shopping list. The next time my grandchildren are here would be a good time to serve macaroons, that way I won’t eat all but the two my husband enjoys.

Add Some Nuts

Today is National Walnut Day. I would guess, though I didn’t look it up, that walnuts are one of the most consumed nuts alongside the almond. Walnuts make a great addition to cookies, cakes, breads, and all by themselves are a protein filled healthy snack. What would trail mix be without them.

One of my family’s treats at Christmas time when I was little, was a full dish of assorted  nuts in the shell. We had two crackers and four meat picks. The four of us girls would eat the filberts first, then the almonds, then the walnuts. We would see if we could crack the walnut-shell open in order to get a complete half. Somehow they tasted better if they weren’t broken. How innocent the mind of a young person is to believe that. (I miss those days.)

Also at Christmas time, we gave home-made Mrs. Clause Fudge and date nut bread to the milkman, the paper boy, the post office employees, the Charlie Chip man, our teachers, and friends. Both of these contained walnuts. There wasn’t the concern then about nut allergies that there is now. To this day when I make date nut bread, I give half of it away so I don’t eat all of it because there is nothing better hot or cold, with lots of butter on it, especially if the dates are left in bite size chunks. Now my mouth is watering.

I don’t know too many cookies that aren’t better with a handful of chopped walnuts  thrown in the dough. And let’s not forget maple walnut ice cream; another one of my favorites. Can you tell I like food. It’s rough being one of those people who lives to eat and likes everything, well most everything.

Whatever your plans for the day, may I suggest you take a resealable sandwich bag full of walnuts with you. They are a much more healthy snack than that sugar filled coffee you pay five dollars for.

Best Smell Ever

It’s National Chocolate Chip Day. In my opinion, chocolate chip cookies baking is one of the top smells on this earth. I learned to bake at a very young age and have been doing it ever since. To my surprise, the National Day of Calendar informed me that the Nestle Toll House cookie recipe has only been around since 1939. I know that’s a long time, but I would have guessed it was older than that. At least I’ve had the benefit of it for my whole lifetime.

There are many ways to eat chocolate chip cookies; warm out of the oven with permission (when the chocolate is still gooey warm), snuck out of the cookie tin (just before a meal of course), dipped in milk, in small savory bites. I could go on. Probably the best way is to be able to share the event with another person so you can tell one another if they have chocolate on their face.

These days you can buy chips in lots of different flavors, made by different companies. I suggest you buy good ones, you know the ones that cost more. There’s nothing worse than biting into a chocolate chip cookie and the chip has no flavor because it wasn’t made by Nestle or Ghiradelli.

I have a friend that bakes up a storm whenever we are invited for a meal. I rarely eat her goodies because they are tasteless and usually very dry. I feel if you are going to spend your time baking from scratch, use the best ingredients available, and don’t substitute low-fat this and low calorie that, because the flavor goes out the window. But then again, she’s thinner than I am, so maybe her thought process has something over mine.

Chocolate chips can be used in all sorts of other ways than just cookies. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. And it probably isn’t necessary to have a day to celebrate them because they are almost a staple in anyone’s cupboard that knows their way around the kitchen. Just for fun, celebrate the day by making some fresh chocolate chip cookies for dessert. If you are afraid you might eat too many, give some away. I can already smell them baking!

Caramel and Nuts

It’s National Sticky Bun Day. I looked at the calendar last night to see what today’s subject was and woke up this morning thinking of a sticky bun. One of my favorites in any situation.

What makes a perfect sticky bun? The bun itself must be soft, easy to pull apart and be rolled with cinnamon between the layers. The topping should be a drippy, sugary, caramel goo, with so many nut pieces (I prefer pecans) you can barely see the bun. Now if you can have this, and have it warm, you have a bit of heaven. Too finalize the enjoyment, a good  cup of hot coffee as an accompaniment would be my choice. Oh, and if the topping is the right amount of drippy, a moist towelette to clean the hands when done eating, would be a good idea.

Any sticky bus is good, but some are better than others. I have had some that were a week old (I like to stretch and savor my package from the bakery) that were still wonderful. On the other hand, I have had some right from the bakery, that were hard, the goo was crystalized, and the nuts almost mushy. At least the flavor was there. I can’t imagine who picked the above picture, there aren’t any nuts!

If you follow my posts, you know I generally bake my goodies from scratch, but in the case of a good sticky bun, with a yeasty flavor, I don’t take the time. Some parts of me are lazy and want to be waited on. I’m already dressed, most often I write in my pj’s, I think I will leave you now and go to Leo’s bakery for the best sticky bun in my locale. Enjoy your day.

 

Pastry; Which is Your Favorite?

There are many different types of pastry, most of which would fall into one of the following categories:

  • Shortcrust pastry – simplest and most common.
  • Sweetcrust pastry – similar to the shortcrust but sweeter.
  • Flaky pastry – simple pastry that expands when cooked.
  • Puff pastry – has many layers that cause it to puff when baked.
  • Choux pastry – very light pastry that is often filled with cream or other fillings.
  • Phyllo pastry – paper-thin pastry dough that is used in many layers.

I didn’t know there were so many types of pastry so I included the above from the National Day of Calendar.

I think we all know the first two types of pastry are your typical pie shell pastries. When making a pie, once you put the crust in the pan, trim the edges even. Those trimmings can be rolled flat, slathered with room temperature butter, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and baked all by themselves. A nice treat when you have to wait for the pie until after dinner.

Flaky pastry would be a biscuit or croissant. You can actually peel away layers.  While the biscuit is still warm, carefully separate the layers, butter and consume with a satisfied sigh.  Yum.

Puff pastry is used to make turnovers, among other things. You can actually see the layers of dough when you cut into it. Cherry turnovers are my favorite.

Choux pastry is used when making an éclair, or cream puff. Don’t forget the chocolate frosting.  My mouth is now watering…..

Phyllo pastry is used when making Baklava or appetizers such as fresh creamed mushrooms. Years ago I had an older lady friend that taught me how to make Baklava. The secret to working with the Phyllo and not having it tear, is to thaw it slowly.  I miss my friend Leta, and being able to eat Baklava without worrying about calories.

If you aren’t the baking type I’m sure you have a favorite place to go to get your pastry fix. Remember, the fresher it is, the better it will be!

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