Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Bake a Cake without an Oven!

I still have not seen the repairman to fix my oven, but I am up for any challenge!  Well I have taken my first “AG”venture – to the small town of Medora, Indiana for the National Maple Syrup Festival.  I was asked to participate in the Judging of their Sweet Victory Challenge for the adult dessert competition.  It was about a two hour drive from Indianapolis to Medora and it was a nice sun shiny Saturday as we traveled through the curves & hills of Southern Indiana.  I arrived early and caught a shuttle to Burton’s Maplewood Farms.  Once there we walked the Maple Sugar Trail and along the trail they had set up a demonstration on making maple sugar.  We learned that early settlers were not interested in making sap from the maple tree into syrup – since they did not have refrigeration; they had no means to store syrup.  Instead, they boiled the sap down even further, to make maple sugar.  This staple could then be stored for long periods of time.  Maple sugar was used as a sweetener and could easily be converted back to syrup.
We made our way over to the Sugar House where sap that had been collected from the maple trees was boiled down to maple syrup.  Here we were able to taste some of the syrups that Burton’s Maplewood Farms was making.  We tried the “early harvest” syrup that was light in color with a lightly sweet maple flavor.  Then they gave us a sample of the “late harvest” syrup – it was much darker in color and very rich in maple flavor.  However my favorites were their syrups that Burton’s have aged in oak barrels.  They are aging syrup in Rum, Bourbon and Brandy barrels – these are amazing infused maple syrups, a must try in my book.

After our visit to the farm, it was back in town to judge the adult dessert flight.  We had three desserts to judge on appearance, use of products (the Maple Syrup & King Arthur Flour) and of course taste.  It was a great experience and gave me the inspiration for a cake I am sharing with you.  I wanted to give you a dessert with Maple Syrup and I still have no oven!  So I packed up my supplies and headed to my Sister-in-Law’s to bake this cake.  Enjoy!

Lazy Daisy Oatmeal Cake – Maple version.  Taken from the book, “Home on the Farm, If Chickens Could Talk” written by Lorene McCormick Burkhart.

·         1 ¼ cups boiling water
·         1 cup oats (quick or old fashioned)
·         ½ cup butter, softened
·         1 cup granulated sugar
·         ½ cup shredded coconut
·         1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
·         1 teaspoon vanilla
·         2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
·         2 eggs
·         1 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
·         1 teaspoon baking soda
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
·         ¼ teaspoon nutmeg 
·         ¼ cup butter, melted
·         ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
·         3 tablespoons half& half
·         1 ½ tablespoons of pure maple syrup
·         ¾ cup shredded coconut

For cake, pour boiling water over oats; cover and let stand for 20 minutes.  In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy; gradually add sugars - beat until fluffy.  Now blend in the vanilla, maple syrup and eggs.  Add oats mixture and coconut, mix well.  In another bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and blend into the creamed mixture – mix well.  Pour batter into greased and floured 9-inch square pan and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees 40-50 minutes. Do not remove cake from pan.  For the frosting, combine all ingredients.  Spread evenly over cake.  Broil until frosting becomes bubbly.  Cake can be served warm or cold.

It's me in the middle - 3rd from the left.

I hope you all enjoy this cake – the frosting is to die for!  Next year you really need to check out the National Maple syrup Festival, it is an enjoyable and educational event for the whole family.  You may even want to try your hand at entering the Sweet Victory Challenge – if so I will be there to Judge!

Don’t forget to “AG Me On! – I am still looking for challenges or places for a new “AG”venture.  Until next time – Keep your Foodie Fluids Flowing, and AG Me On!


Monday, March 12, 2012

How to make the Peyton Manning Burger!

What a month - I am thinking of changing the name to my blog to “Cooking with an Oven!”  It has been over 30 days since my oven went “ka-put!”  I have realized in these past 30 days or so, how much cooking I do using my oven.  Dinner planning has been a challenge in itself.  I have been trying to eat better, but it’s hard to bake fish with no oven!  So, I have defaulted to frying my fish on the stovetop (Don’t tell my Doctor!)  I have found myself frying too much on the stovetop and using the microwave.  I just need a repairman that will come out to fix the oven on MY TIME.  Hopefully my oven can be fixed, because if not comes the questions: “Do I change my appliance colors?”, followed by “Black or Stainless Steel?” And you know if I replace the stove, the refrigerator is going to have a meltdown, and I will have to replace it, too, Murphy’s Law!  I guess that is what happens when all of your appliances are the same age – over 10 years old!

Now that I have that off my chest, this month I am bringing to you two delicious recipes that feature Indiana Maple Syrup.  As a new blogger, I was honored to be asked to participate as a Judge in the National Maple Syrup Festival Sweet Victory Challenge in Medora, Indiana.  Knowing that I was going to be part of this festival, I decided to come up with my own clever recipe spin – and that is what I am sharing with you’ all – my maple syrup infused hamburger, The Peyton Manning Burger!

Wow, this recipe is one to keep in my Playbook – a guaranteed Touch Down for sure!  And you will be scoring extra points when you serve this burger to your family and friends.

Manning Mayo:
½ Cup Mayonnaise
½ Cup crumbled Bleu Cheese
1 Tablespoon Real Maple Syrup

For Burgers:
1 pound of Maple cured or infused Bacon
1 ½ pounds of Ground Round, Ground Chuck or Ground Beef
½ Cup of Chunky Applesauce
1 teaspoon of your favorite Steak or Grilling Seasoning
2 Tablespoons of Real Maple Syrup
½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Pepper
1 sliced Red Onion
Leaf Lettuce
Hamburger Buns

You will need to make the Manning Mayo first – In a bowl mix all the ingredients, cover and place in the refrigerator until needed.

Next – In a large pan, fry your bacon until done – set onto a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.  Drain bacon grease from pan, reserving one Tablespoon for frying your burger (unless you plan to grill them outdoors).  While your bacon is frying, you can combine in a large bowl the ground meat, applesauce, maple syrup and the seasonings.  Mix thoroughly, but don’t over work the meat.  Divide into six patties and fry to your liking.

Place the leaf lettuce and a slice or two of the red onion on the bottom of your hamburger bun s and add the burgers.  Now top with the maple-cured bacon and add a generous dollop of the Manning Mayo and complete with the bun top.  Pass complete, 1st and GOAL!

In developing this recipe, I have learned – by mistake- a few things.  Cinnamon & beef don’t go together, and if you cook bacon with maple syrup and brown sugar, you get a salty candy treat.  I hope you enjoy this Burger as much as the  Indianapolis-area and beyond have enjoyed Peyton and all he has done for the Colts, the City and many charities… you will be missed, Peyton!

Until next time – Keep your Foodie Fluids Flowing, and AG Me On!