Almost every morning early around 6:30 am Jimmy comes by on his bike carrying this mornings fresh-from-the-oven rolls. 10 cents apiece for a great start to your morning.
Then some afternoons he comes by, today it was around 3:30 pm, with that same basket filled this time with sweet treats. These are 15 cents.
Some of today’s choices were chocolate sweet rolls, a lovely sandwich cookie with a dulce de leche filling, a corn type muffin, a filled sweet roll with what I think is guayaba (guava) filling. We have our favorites but honestly any one of them will pacify the sweet tooth in all of us.
I really miss grape jelly and jam. But I found a very easy recipe for a jam that is fresh with a great taste.
2 lbs. fresh dark purple grapes
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice or orange juice
1/2 teaspoon butter (the butter will stop foam from forming on your jam)
Wash and drain the grapes. Mash them a bit with your hands or a potato masher. Add sugar, lemon juice and butter. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes stirring often. Drain using a fine mesh strainer and using a pestle or back of a large spoon squeeze all the juice out of the seeds and skin. Discard seeds and pour the juice back into the saucepan to cook for another 20-25 minutes. Take a small dish and place in the freezer. After 20 minutes of cooking take a small amount of the jam and place on the frozen dish, if it spreads out you need to cook longer. If it sets up you can jar immediately. Make sure your jars and lids have been serialized. This recipe should make two – eight ounce jars, refrigerate.
It would not seem like Christmas without just a few of our favorites – cookies and a Christmas tree. So last Monday I made all the batters for several types of cookies and Tuesday it was marathon baking.
On Monday I did sneak in a few batches of the bar cookies and baked the Black Bottom Cookie Bar and Triple Layer Cookie Bar.
I also made something I have never tried before. These are made with vanilla cookies on the bottom, covered in caramel, baked and then topped with chocolate chips sprinkled with chopped nuts. Fast and easy and the kids will love them. All chocolaty and sweet.
Then I made Crane House Pumpkin Breads.
Here are some of the batters chilling in the refrigerator. These are the Cherry Nut Cookies in the foreground and the Italian Cookies in the background.
I really love this – it’s the best of all the cookies that I make – first it is wonderful with a cup of coffee and they can last a good while in a tightly closed container plus if you put some of the batter in the freeze a month later you can have fresh cookies.
Italian Anise Cookie
1 1/2 C Margarine
1 C regular sugar
3/4 bottle of Anise 1/2 oz. *see note below
8 T Baking Powder
6 C Flour
Dip fingers in oil and roll dough into meat ball sized balls.
Bake ungreased cookie sheet 12-15 minutes 375 – 400 f
1/2 bag confectionery sugar
add a bit of hot water, start with 1 tablespoon
1/2 bottle of anise flavoring 1/4 oz. or to taste
add food color as desired
Right after the cookies are baked dip just the tops in glaze – let cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
This year I am making a batch with almond flavoring in both the batter and the glaze. I don’t think kids like the anise flavoring so I am trying something a bit different.
* I have not found anise flavoring on the store shelves here so I have taken star anise and add them to vodka – let stand for a week and strain though a coffee filter or cheese cloth. This is a good substitute for store-bought anise flavoring.
Let’s put on a pot of coffee and get this party started!
The holidays are upon us sooner than I would like to admit. And with that, decisions need to be made about what cookies I will be baking and who will be getting “cookie care packages”. Each year I have a very hard time making up my mind about the cookie recipes, number of batches and finally how to pack and who to give them to. I love the baking part but totally dislike trying to find the right container to pack them in. I think I found some great containers this year with the biggest cookie recipients being the children’s Christmas party. This party is being given to our neighborhood children and will be held on Saturday, December 26th.
I love bar cookies, they are quick easy and one tray takes the place of standing in the kitchen for hours. The standard size oven here is much smaller that a standard oven in the states so bar cookies make my job faster.
This picture is a few years old but it has most of the standards that I make each year. I have all the ingredients so Monday and Tuesday will be cookie days. Wish me luck!
Another item not easily found here is Anise Extract. A dear friend from Florida, Joe, brought me three bottles a few years ago when he visited but the long-term answer is not bringing it from the states but to make it yourself.
To that end, my son-in-law, Isaac gave me this recipe. Clean and serialized a jar then fill with vodka and a few star anise pods. Let the pods sit in the vodka until the anise flavor is infused, this took several weeks but will last indefinitely.
I have read where it is better to keep in a dark bottle and not a clear one as it protects the potency of the extract. It actually worked and I will be trying it with my first batch of Italian Anise Cookies. Thanks Isaac!
What great neighbors we have. This afternoon our neighbor Paola brought us a huge bowl of viche. This batch was made with lobster, shrimp, choclo (corn), small plantain balls and the most wonderful broth made with peanuts. Of course she did provide rice as well. It is out of this world and Paola is one of the best cooks I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
We eat like royalty here. Between the kindness of our neighbors like Paola and the bounty we can buy right at our door we are blessed.
We have a new fruta and verdura vendor who has started to come by on Friday mornings. Today he had strawberries, black and red grapes, granny smith apples as well as gala apples and pears, passion fruit, mora, naranjilla just to name a few. He had corn, peas, small and large lima beans as well as fresh fava beans, carrots, red onions, green onions, cauliflower, broccoli, two types of potatoes, iceberg lettuce and cilantro. Next week I will take a photo of his truck and him and his wife.