Butterscotch Sourcream Cake Recipe

 



I love this sour cream pudding cake recipe! Its made with any plain cake mix and is always dense, moist and delicious! The cake flavour can be changed by changing the pudding flavour and the liquid used. I often make a fresh orange cake, using vanilla pudding, white cake mix and fresh orange juice, instead of water, in the cake and frosting. Its a favourite around here, but this time I wanted to do something different. I used butterscotch pudding for cake and frosting (recipe to follow below) and topped it with store bought caramel from a squirt bottle. 

Baking a sour cream cake until perfectly cooked can be tricky. A tube or bundt pan is a must, since the sour cream makes it hard to bake evenly. I bake it at 350 F, in a greased and floured tube pan for exactly 55 minutes and its perfect. If your oven bakes hotter, which most electric ovens do over time, you might want to bake it just a few degrees cooler. 

NOTE:  I have found that baking a cake to the perfect "doneness" is essential. It will be dry if baked 3 minutes too long and will fall if its the least bit underdone. A properly calibrated oven is a necessity for really moist, perfectly cooked cakes. (My husband hand calibrates all our ovens. He's gotten pretty good at it over the years. It's apparently easy. He's a baker, so its his "thing".)

Sour Cream Cake Recipe: 
1 standard cake mix (2 layer)
1 box instant pudding
1 cup liquid
1/3 cup oil
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream 

Directions: Combine all ingredients and mix with electric mixer very, very well. Try to mix a full 3 minutes, scraping down the sides. Pour evenly into a greased and floured tube pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 55 minutes. (See NOTE above re oven temperature.)

Frosting Recipe with pudding: 
(We love this frosting! Its not so sweet and its always light and fluffy)

1 box instant pudding
1 package Dream Whip (or generic equivalent)
3/4 cups milk or liquid (Any juice can be used for flavour or half juice/half milk)

Directions: Blend all together in a large bowl with mixer. Beat until thick and fluffy. It will seem thin at first but will thicken up after a minute or two of beating. Just like the instant pudding and Dream Whip both take a few minutes to "set" after making, so does the frosting. If its too thick, add just a little more milk until its the proper consistency. It can also  depend on the size of instant pudding you use. If using an Xlarge box of pudding and an Xlarge envelope of Dream Whip, use 1 cup of milk. 
Keep cake refrigerated. I usually freeze 2/3 of the cake, in pieces, since we won't eat it all before it starts to mold and there is not usually room in the fridge for the whole cake. It freezes very well and is just like fresh when thawed. (Don't thaw in the microwave.) We often eat it frozen!







Crocheting for Those in Need

 


I have been crocheting all of my life. Now I do it to relax and stay awake in the evenings and because it is so relaxing. I am always looking for odd skeins or balls of yarn at thrift stores, just so I will have something to crochet, even if it doesn't actually go anywhere. When I have used up all my yarn scraps, I pull things apart and make something different with the yarn, just to crochet.

This morning, after some prayer about using my gifts/talents for the Lord's work and to help people, I have decided to crochet hats and scarves for the needy up north. There are communities in the far north that don't have access to clothing and food stores, and what they have is exceedingly expensive that far north. 

I am looking forward to giving, and am hoping to pick up yarn to work with! 
This is what I have ready to go at the moment, mostly hats.









Biscuits Trials


I have several recipes for biscuits, also called "scones", that I have used and perfected over the years. Three main ones stand out. They are the sour cream, the sourdough and the buttermilk biscuits. All three get rave reviews. All three are light, flaky and delicious! Recipes for all three biscuits and the sourdough starter are below.

I have decided to bake all three and see which one we like the best. The sour cream biscuits are the most expensive to make and I don't always have sour cream for them, the buttermilk biscuits are a LOT of work and I don't always have buttermilk. I'm thinking I might stick with the sourdough biscuits for most of my baking. 

To this end, I have made some sourdough starter. It will be kept in the fridge and fed after use. I might also use it for bread and other sourdough baking. For most of my adult life, I have kept sourdough in the fridge and made mostly sourdough biscuits. I quit doing that about 10 years ago and started making the sour cream biscuits instead. We love the sour cream biscuits and they are delicious, but I don't always have sour cream and its expensive. 

*A note about sour cream and buttermilk. I make my own buttermilk. Since I use cultured buttermilk from the store as starter, its exactly the same. It makes at room temperature, easy! Read my earlier post about making your own buttermilk. Sour cream is made with the same bacteria in cream, rather than milk, so I have looked into making sour cream myself, as well.  After checking out the price of full fat cream, I found that buying sour cream is cheaper than making it from cream at home. Go figure...so...I just buy it, but it is still expensive. 

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You can find the sourdough starter recipe and the sourdough biscuit recipe, in my post "Sourdough"  The sour cream and buttermilk biscuit recipes are below.

Another thing to NOTE from my current experience with biscuits: I prefer using a glass pan. If using a glass pan, turn the heat down 25 degrees, i.e. from 375 to 350. In a glass pan, the bottom of the biscuits are no darker than the top. 



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SOUR CREAM BISCUITS

Ingredients: 

2 cups flour - 2 teaspoon baking powder - 1/3 cup sugar - 1/4 teaspoon salt - 1/4 cream of tarter (optional) - 1/2 cup shortening/lard - 1/2 cup sour cream - 1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425F. Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut in lard with pastry blender until well mixed. Mix all other ingredients together in a separate bowl. Pour into the dry mix and gently fold together just until well blended. Turn out onto a floured surface. Gently shape into a rectangle with floured hands. Cut into squares with a floured knife. Place onto a lightly greased pan or use parchment paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 425F for 15 minutes. 

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BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup butter - 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour - 1 1/4 teaspoon salt - 3 3/4 teaspoon baking powder - 1 cup cold buttermilk

Directions:

Freeze butter and grate using largest holes. Add dry ingredients together, mix and add grated butter and blend. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 475F. Add buttermilk. Stir 15 times. Turn out on a floured surface. Roll out into a 1/4" thick rectangle. Fold in half and roll out again into a 1/4" rectangle. Repeat the fold and roll directions three more times. Cut ending rectangle into squares with a knife. Place biscuits onto an ungreased pan or use parchment paper. Bake at 475F or 15 minutes. 



Starting and Using Sourdough

We like sourdough biscuits, so I keep sourdough in my fridge all the time. I also plan to make sourdough bread, but that has been my plan for a couple of decades and I haven't gotten to it yet...but I'm determined to get to it this month...or maybe next month... 

Sourdough is not really "sour", it a fermentation of regular bread yeast in flour and water with a little sugar to feed the yeast. This wet and growing yeast is kept in the fridge and added to anything that needs rising or flavour. I like to add it to pancakes, even ones made from a mix in a box. (I often make them from scratch and they are fabulous, especially  with sourdough added!)


After using the sourdough, it has to be fed and left to sit out overnight until bubbly again. It is then kept in the refrigerator, as before. 

The metal lid on my jar, in the above photo, has a rubber coating inside and a seal. I would not recommend keeping it in anything with metal in contact with the sourdough. Its quite acidic. 

Sourdough can be frozen for about three months and still be good for drinking. It can be kept longer for cooking but will start to separate after the three months. 

I freeze it in ice cube trays and then put the cubes in a labelled freezer bag. I do this with a lot of things. 




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SOURDOUGH STARTER RECIPE

Ingredients: 

1 cup milk - 1 cup hot water - 1 tablespoon sugar - 2.5 cups flour all-purpose - 2 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast

Directions: 

Mix the milk, hot water and sugar together in a large bowl. When it is cool enough, (around 90-100 degrees F) add the yeast and flour. Stir well and let it sit until bubbly. Make sure the bowl is big enough, as it will rise a lot when it starts to ferment. Cover lightly with a towel and let sit 24 hours. Put into a container that is big enough to hold it when it rises and has a lid. Once it has risen and bubbled, keep refrigerated. Feed after using and let sit out until bubbly. 

To feed after using: Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar. Stir well and let sit until bubbly. NOTE: This is strictly for biscuits. If you want to make sourdough bread, put a little starter in another jar and feed with just equal amounts of flour and water only. No sugar and water instead of milk, unless milk bread is your goal. I keep two sourdough jars, one for each item, and well labelled. 

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SOURDOUGH BISCUITS


Ingredients:

½ teaspoon salt - 1 cup flour all purpose - 2 teaspoons baking powder - ¼ teaspoon soda - 1/3 cup shortening - 1 cup sourdough

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 275F. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender. Stir in the sourdough. Gently squeeze together until fairly well mixed with floured hands. Turn out onto a floured surface and gently shape into a rectangle with hands. Cut into squares with a knife that is dipped regularly into flour. This dough is sticky inside. Place on pan with parchment paper or lightly greased pan. These are best if made small and kept tall and can be reshaped after cutting and placing on pan. They will spread slightly. If possible, let rise some before baking. 

Bake in a preheated oven at 375F for 15-20 mins. 




Tortiere !

 


Tortiere! Its a favourite dish at our house.  Its the traditional French Canadian Christmas Eve fare but is  good anytime, especially on a cold winter's night. It's a meat pie, spiced with nutmeg and onion and its delicious! We make ours with pork, which is the usual recipe in Quebec, from which this dish comes. We prefer the juicy tenderness of pork, but I have made it with medium ground beef before.  

Here is our recipe. I got it from my mother in law and its the best I have ever eaten, much like most of the other food she makes.

Tortiere:
Ingredients:  Top and bottom pastry for one pie
2 lbs of ground pork or a pork/beef blend
1/2 a large sweet onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of mace
Tablespoon of beef bouillon


Directions: Mix all together in a pot on the stove and cook until the onion is tender. The meat should be fully cooked but tender. Add 1.5 tablespoons of cornstarch. Pour into a pie crust, put top crust on and bake at 350F until the pastry is nicely brown, about an hour. Let sit for about 20 mins until cool enough to cut and eat. May also be thickened with potato flakes instead of corn starch. Serve hot with vegetables and potatoes. 










Making Bone Broth and Dumplings

I have recently begun to make "bone broth" in my small pressure cooker. Bone broth is what you get when you cook for an extended time, the bones and connective tissue of meaty joints. Its the joints that are important and contain the collagen and silica. Cooking joints and bones in the pressure cooker significantly reduces the time. An hour under pressure is the same as just boiling for an entire day, but if you don't use a pressure cooker, you can gain the same thing by cooking the joints for a couple of days.

What you get from this is collagen, silica, gelatin, high protein, anti-inflammatory amino acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, B vitamins and a lot more.

Bone broth does not contain a lot of minerals, but if you add vegetables when you make the broth, they will add minerals. Save your onion skins, carrot and celery tops. These scraps, usually thrown away, will add a lot of flavour and minerals to your broth. Add any other vegetables and herbs to the pot with the bones, at the start, then strain the broth at the end of the cooking period. I like to add some carrots, onion, celery and garlic for flavour, a lot of spinach and parsley, also some bay leaves, thyme and oregano. If I had nettles in mid-winter, I would add those too. These all go into the pressure cooker with the bones and joints to cook for an hour under pressure. Other things I have considered adding to the pressure cooker, but have not done so yet, are dried plantain and calendula. it all gets strained out. If I want a few vegetables in my soup, I add them after, with the noodles.

If I'm not ready to use this immediately, it gets strained and put into the freezer. I usually freeze things like this in ice cube trays, then put into freezer bags for use in small amounts, as needed. 

I occasionally use this as a base for chicken noodle soup (pictured below), if made with chicken or turkey. I usually make stew with moose/beef joints. Bone broth can also be sipped by itself in a cup for a nourishing lunch or snack. 

I use wide, flat egg noodles in my soup. We like their texture a lot better than regular pasta noodles. I have used chopped spaghetti noodles, and they are good too, but we prefer the egg noodles and I think they freeze better. 


I recently made bone broth from a turkey. They are cheap just before Christmas! I deboned the whole turkey and used the carcass to make three pressure cookers full of bone broth. I made a lot of chicken noodle soup for the freezer from 2/3 of the total broth amount. I used the rest to make chicken stew for dinner tonight. I didn't have to add much in the way of vegetables, knowing what had gone into the broth. I did add potatoes, carrots and broccoli. 

For the first time in many years, I made dumplings, the easy way. I bought a can of Pillsbury Country Biscuits, the kind that comes in a spiral cardboard can. (No, they are no paying me anything for putting this in my blog.) I cut the raw biscuits into quarters and dropped them into the boiling stew, put on the lid, turned the heat down, and cooked for about 16-17 minutes. They were delicious and perfectly cooked, light, fluffy and delicious! 

I know I could not have made better dumplings from scratch! Using canned biscuits for dumplings is something my mother used to do and took a lot of criticism for, but now I see why. So easy, fluffy, tender and very, very good! I will never again make dumplings from scratch! 






Hostas - A Delicious Vegetable!


I have learned something new this year. Hostas are indeed edible and delicious! They are eaten regularly in Japan and other parts of the world. I have read that they taste just like asparagus, only better, with a very slight green onion flavour added in. 

These would be delicious in an omelet or a salad. They can be cooked gently, like you would asparagus, and eaten as a vegetable. The small leaf shoots and the flowers and stems are edible, cooked or raw. The flowers are sweeter with a flowery taste added in, similar to daylilies, also edible. 
I can't wait for my hostas to send up tender shoots to try! 

Nutritional Value

Hostas are rich in vitamin C. They can also 
boost resistance to disease, as they have polysaccharides that can increase the number of lymphocytes in the human body.

All hosta species are edible but H. montana and H. sieboldii are most popularly used for vegetables. H plantaginea is grown for its sweet flowers. 


More nutritional content (testing one leaf from 12 different varieties of hostas):

potassium (K) content ranged from 2.85 to 4.05%;
phosphorous content from 0.13 to 0.34%;
Calcium from 0.02 to 1.15%;
Magnesium from 540.00 to 794.12 ppm;
Manganese 26.93 to 133.77 ppm;
Zink 115.39 to 334.52 ppm;
Copper 1.78 to 5.95 ppm
Iron 26.43 to 251.95 ppm.






Growing Strawberries From Seed



This past December, I saved seed from some large, delicious strawberries from the grocery store. I dried the seeds and stashed them away with my other "odd" seeds. I freely admit it, I'm a seed-aholic. I must save all seeds! This does result in a rather large container of odd seeds for every occasion. The strawberry seeds are very tiny! 

A few days ago I saw a post on the Facebook "Grow Food  Not Lawns" group about successfully germinating strawberry seeds. It reminded me that I have strawberry seed and I could do this too! 

After a little research, here is the information I found re starting strawberries from seed: 

- Better germination rates are attained if the seed is refrigerated for about 4 weeks first. 
- They need to be in some small amount of light to germinate, after refrigeration or right away if not refrigerating first. 


I started some of my seed between damp paper towels and put them in a drawer in the refrigerator, out of the way in hubby's "butter" drawer at the bottom. I thought it would be the only place in the fridge where we wouldn't be tripping over them all the time. I'm not sure I will leave them there for 4 weeks. I might bring some out at 2 weeks and see how it goes. 

I also sprinkled some on a shallow tray of soil mixed with vermiculite, moistened first with very warm water. I pressed the seeds down on the soil. I did not cover them with soil, as they need the soft light to germinate, and put a clear lid on the container. 

The articles I read said that some germination is attained with the soil method, without cold first, its just that better germination is attained with the cold, so I have done both. 

We'll see how it goes!