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.