Tuesday, March 28, 2017

From a Clear Lake Kitchen--Signs of Spring and National Book Week Fun

The daffodils are bravely sticking up their heads.

It has been interesting around the lake these past three weeks.  After what sure looked to be ice-out overnight on March 6, we had a spell of cold weather and the lake re-iced-in, if that's a word. Anyhow according to one of the dock installers, there was a new layer of ice at least three-inches thick over the entire lake.  That's gone now. Open water, quacking ducks, honking geese, and the smell of spring in the snow-melting damp soil.

And this is National Book Week. To celebrate you are supposed to reach out and pick up the first book at hand, open it to page 56, and copy the fifth line into your Facebook status without revealing the name of the book.

Here goes: "the Times described two speakeasies, bootleg activity at a pharmacy, and rum-running."


There is a recipe to go with it.

The Prohibition Sour -- was featured in 1920s soda fountains 
and said to be a "Drink favored by Men!"

Prohibition was the law of the land from 1920 to 1933. Its enactment brought about a lot of changes to American society, some of them good. Soda fountains sprang up all over in the place of neighborhood corner saloons. This easy to make drink is tart and refreshing. Just the thing to pick us up when we come in from doing all the spring yard clean-up. 

By the drink

1 ounce lemon syrup (see recipe below)
1/2 ounce orange syrup
freshly squeezed juice of one lime
crushed ice
carbonated water, 6 ounces approximately
Put the syrups and line juice into a 12-ounce glass. Add a scoop of crushed ice. Fill with carbonated water, stir, and garnish with a slice of lime. 

By the pitcher -- enough concentrate for 12 8-ounce drinks
will keep in the refrigerator for two or three days or in the freezer for weeks. 
1 1/2 cups lemon syrup
3/4 cup orange syrup

To make flavored syrups

Begin by making simple syrup: 
1 cup water
1 cup white granulated sugar

Put the water in a medium pot. Gradually add the sugar, stirring gently. Warm over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Do not even bring to a simmer. Just heat it enough to encourage the sugar to dissolve. Simple syrup keeps for days in the refrigerator

To make the flavored syrups, use frozen concentrated juices and add 1 tablespoon to a 1/4 cup of simple syrup.  Or 1/4 cup of concentrate to 1 cup of simple syrup. 

But Wait.. you say!  Tell.. tell the name of the book. Nope, my lips are sealed.. but if you look to the right, I bet you can figure it out. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

From a Clear Lake Kitchen -- Early ICE-OUT after a very short winter and getting the jump on St. Pat's

Waves lapping against some of the remaining "burgy-bits" 
on Clear Lake March 7, 2017 ice-out.

By North Iowa standards this past winter 2016-17 was fairly mild and short. Only one brutally cold night -- 25 below overnight will get your attention -- with some days in the high 50s and low 60s mixed in.  And just three months between ice-in on December 8, 2016 and the overnight ice-out. I wasn't looking out the window at midnight to know if it was clear then. But at dawn it was obvious that yesterday's 71 degree high followed by heavy rain during the evening thunderstorm had made their impact!  The geese are very happy to have a wet place to land! 

So with a spring lake sparkling before our eyes, it's time to turn our attention to traditional seasonal meals. Irish Soda Bread fits the bill. Easy to make from ingredients readily at hand, there's nothing like homemade bread. 

Now the weather predictors are suggesting snow and cold again for the weekend. And it is a bit too soon to see what St. Patrick Day will bring. But whether you'll serve a warm and hearty Irish Stew, tasty Corned Beef and Cabbage, or a hot-weather light chicken salad, this easily made loaf is the perfect go-along. 

The craggy surface of traditional Irish Soda Bread 
is perfect for dunking in gravy or spreading with butter and jam. 

Rae's Irish Soda Bread

1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the vinegar in a glass measuring cup and add milk to make one cup. Set aside for a couple of minutes until it sours. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt if using, and cream of tartar. Pour in about 3/4 cup of the soured milk and mix quickly with a fork. Then begin to knead gently to form a rough, slightly damp dough. You may need to add a bit more milk, a tablespoon at a time. DO NOT OVER KNEAD. This is a roughly textured dough. If you over knead the dough will be tough. Form the dough into a circle about 6-inches in diameter. Flatten to about an inch and a half thick. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. With a serrated knife make an "x" cut almost halfway through the dough. Bake until the bread is browned and sounds hollow when you tap it. Cool before slicing.  

Copyright 2017, Rae Katherine Eighmey. All rights reserved.