Saturday, August 28, 2010

28 August 1956 “Brownies, and Chocolate and Chickens…Oh My!”

I have mentioned this before and shall, most likely, do so again in the future: Why use box or prepared when it is easier and cheaper to make your own?
I think often we modern women (well when I was a modern woman I did) think, ‘Oh, it’s just easier to use prepared’. However, every day I try another pre-packaged item home-made, I am always more pleased with myself and the product quality.
Cake mixes are fairly easy to make ahead, in fact I have blogged about it before. There are some good dry mixes from my vintage books and even modern versions such as THIS which you can store in the icebox or freezer and is easy to ‘whip up’ as it has the butter already in (hence icebox/freezer storage needed).
chocbrownie I just made some homemade brownies yesterday and they are quite easy. I did not use any homemade make ahead mix, for it is so simple to whip these up.chocbrownieupclose
Yummy Brownies
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan or round pan (I used an 8” single layer cake pan to make fun cake slice servings.)
    2. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.
    3. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes. I always ‘undercook’ brownies, because as with all foods, they continue to cook when you remove them from the oven.

Again, on the ‘homemade’ track, I often will be in my kitchen using something store bought and will think, “Hmmm, can I make this?” Which has happened with everything from Catsup to Mayonnaise. So, when I wanted some chocolate syrup the other day I thought, “Why buy it?” First of all, most syrups are corn syrup not sugar. They also have odd preservatives and a higher quality would be more expensive. Yet, if you use a good quality unsweetened powdered baking chocolate, then you have the base for homemade chocolate syrup.
I don’t know about you, but my basic pantry supplies always contain powdered unsweetened baking chocolate. It is the base for many wonderful foods and again, the more we reduce our foods to their basic ingredient components, the less we really need to buy and the better quality and healthier our food will be.
chocsyrup1I came up with this very basic chocolate syrup recipe which can easily be stored in your fridge for a month or more (maybe longer, I don’t know as I make small batches and then when I need some last minute, it is so easy to whip up, why have gallons of the stuff sitting around?)
The recipe is basically one part unsweetened chocolate powder to two parts sugar and water and vanilla or any essence to taste. You can use almond or coconut extracts. Because you boil it you can infuse it with any flavor, put some fresh picked culinary variety Lavender in there if you like.  So as an example of the recipe:
chocsyrup2 Chocolate Syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened powdered baking cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
flavoring to taste.
Boil, stirring constantly, until thickened ( about 2 minutes)
cool and decant.
I keep mine in little mason jars. But here is another opportunity to make use of some darling containers or saved jars and print up some of your own labels or little stickers.
Now you wouldn’t think such a simple thing could taste so good. Or else you would just think of the taste of a cheap plastic bottled syrup, it’s good, but you might not think it amazing. Well, last night when we had our friend over, I served the above brownies with a scoop of ice-cream and my chocolate sauce. She thought it was so good and I noticed, as we sat and gabbed over our coffee, that she kept dipping her finger into the leftover sauce on her plate, apologizing but she couldn’t help it. To borrow from a not so tasty fried chicken chain, ‘it’s finger lickin good’.
Now, an odd jump from homemade food to chickens, but I thought I would share some photos of how big my gals (and guys) have got. I still need to share the making of my chicken house and that entire building project I did. But, for now, here they are. I have started free ranging them in my yard. They have a covered chicken run that they can access from their house, but during the day I live the door to from the run to the yard open.
Buttons, my favorite hen, is so tame that she will sit on my lap whenever given the chance. She is the first out and the first to come running when I shout ‘chick chick chick’. I keep my kitchen door open, so my dogs can come and go as they please, and this morning I found Buttons the hen walking about bold as brass in the kitchen. When she saw me and I admonished, “Buttons, what are you doing in here” she just looked at me, clucked and casually strolled out, as if to say, “I will go now, but I will be back”.
It’s funny to think they have gone from thiseggsinincubator to thiseggpippingto thesechicks1  and now here they are and still not full grown.chickens2
I hope everyone enjoys their Saturday, I am lucky that mine is warm and sunny. I shall get a bike ride in this afternoon. Until tomorrow, Happy Homemaking.
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