Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lazarus, come out of your tomb!

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I don't know how, but I managed to live through yet another semester and school year. I still have final grades to compute, but things have screeched to a near-halt, or at least to a much more humane pace. Of course, the close of finals week wasn't the end of it. No, indeed. The farmers' market opened this weekend, and I made the perhaps foolhardy decision to be a full-season vendor this year and the even crazier decision to be ready to sell things this Saturday morning. Suffice to say, I had 3-4 hours of sleep a night for about two weeks, and Friday night in particular, I went to bed at 5am and was back up at 7am to finish packaging baked goods and start loading the car. Compared to last year's offerings, my table was pretty bare this first week out. I decided fairly early on that I wasn't going to be able to make any pies; they are just too labor intensive, and plus, I need all day Friday to bake them, and I was at graduation until almost 8pm. Still, I had quite a few people stop by my stall, and exclaim how disappointed they were that there was no pie. In fact, my friend, June, dispatched her poor husband, Tom, down to the market to acquire a cherry pie that I had led her to believe might be there. :-( Oh, how I do hate to let people down! But I count it a miracle that I was there at all and with at least some things to vend.

I took ten pound cake loaves, half vanilla and half chocolate. I also made two loaves of the world's best banana nut bread, two cranberry-orange loaves (recipe follows), two almond poppyseed cakes with lemon glaze (recipe also below), four batches of shortbread including two kinds--maple (recipe below) and Turtle/caramel-chocolate-pecan, and just for fun, a few packages of Anna's crazy Frito and pretzel toffee stuff. Oh, and I also took four dozen of my hen's eggs and lots of jams--both sweet and savory--leftover from last season. I am pleased to say that most everything sold, despite it being just the first weekend, and a very BRISK one at that! I am off this week, so I will have more to offer next week, including pies. :-)

Cranberry-Orange-Walnut Bread
(adapted from
John Kerry's Massachusetts Cranberry Bread)

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
few drops fiori di Sicilia, optional
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (though pecans would be yummy, too!)

Grease and flour a loaf pan. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs with an electric mixer. Stir in the orange juice, vanilla, and fiori di Sicilia. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together and blend into the batter, reserving a few tablespoons. Toss the cranberries and chopped walnuts with the remainder of the flour mixture, then fold into the batter. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Test with a toothpick.

Poppy Seed Cake

1 box yellow cake mix

1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 small pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
4 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 cup hot water

Mix all the ingredients with a mixer, adding the hot water very slowly. Continue to mix for ten minutes. Bake in a greased and floured bundt pan (or two large loaf pans) at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes (or less for two loaves). Drizzle warm cake with the following glaze (whisk ingredients together until smooth):

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon almond extract

Maple Shortbread
(Source: Gourmet, November 1999)

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F and put a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom in freezer to chill. Blend butter, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons maple sugar, and vanilla in a food processor just until smooth, about 30 seconds. Sift flour, cornstarch, and salt over butter mixture and pulse just until clumps form (about 8 pulses). Press evenly into chilled pan, then sprinkle evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons maple sugar. Prick all over with a fork and freeze 5 minutes.

Bake in middle of oven until edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes and, while still warm, cut into 8 wedges. Cool completely before removing from pan.

*I doubled this and baked it in a 13 x 9-inch pan. Then I cut it into eight rectangles then 16 triangles, and drizzled the pieces with a simple maple glaze (powdered sugar, maple syrup and milk).

I have a funny epilogue to share before I wrap this up. So I got home from the farmers' market late Saturday afternoon. Cyd stayed in town to spend the night at a friend's house. I was just as bone-weary as I have ever been, but I unloaded the car, let the dogs out, grabbed something to eat, and checked my e-mail. My friend, Rosanne, was online and we chatted for awhile. But she kept admonishing me, in her motherly way, to sign off and go take a much-needed nap! So that's just what I did. I took my doggies upstairs with me and crashed. Not long after I lay down, the stupid old basset hound jumped off the bed and began click-click-clicking on the wood floor, indicating that she had to go potty. I was very annoyed, because the clock revealed that I had been asleep for less than two hours. But I needed to go to the bathroom, too, plus it was very cold in the room (the window was wide open) which was making me uncomfortable, so I decided to just get up. I let the dogs out and proceeded to make myself a hamburger, because I was really hungry. This seemed odd, as I ate right before I took my nap, but I chalked my appetite up to PMS. ;-)

When I went to check my e-mail again, my friend, Lynn, was online, and she wished me a Happy Mother's Day (from the dogs). I laughed and told her she was a day early, but thanks anyway. In the meantime, I couldn't figure out why the cable box was showing morning programming, and why there was a preponderence of church-y shows on. Then I looked down at the clock on the laptop, and it also said 8:30AM!! No wonder it was still so light out at 8:30. No wonder my neighbor was home though he works nights. No wonder I was so hungry. In short, like some sort of alcoholic or an MPD like Sybil, I had blacked out for almost 14 hours, losing an entire day! I can't believe that I passed out and never moved a muscle all night. And I really can't believe that the dogs let me sleep that long. And most of all, I can't believe that it took me a full two hours after getting up to realize that it was the next day, as I sat there eating my "dinner" of a burger and fries at 8:30 in the morning! Isn't that just the dumbest thing you've ever heard? And what's worse, by 10:30am, I conked out on the couch and didn't budge for an additional four hours! Hmm...think I was a little bit tired? ;-) And now, I get to do the baking all over again to be ready for next week's market. Ugh! But this time, I will pace myself so that I get more than 3-4 hours of sleep a night! And on that note, to bed. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ...

1 comment:

Randi said...

thats an amazing story. I'm more impressed that your dogs let you sleep that long. Mine are up at 5am( with Robin, not me) to potty. I need to see some pics of your baked goods. I'm in Florida and thus wont be doing much cooking/baking so I need to live vicariously through you. I contemplated the famers market thing, but with me working Saturdays for the caterer, I didnt want to get up so early on Sunday.