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Homemade Brownies

Homemade Brownies

These brownies from Cooks Illustrated were pretty darn good! A little more work than a box mix, but I had everything on hand.
You have to make a sling in the pan in order to remove the baked brownie and let it cool. The brownie is very gooey and not cakey at all.
I made the sling out of Parchment Paper. The instructions say to use foil. I don’t agree with using foil……

Brownie Preparpation

I used a combination of Penzy’s cocoa and Trader Joe’s Bittersweet Chocolate coins. Also, farm eggs make all the difference.
Instead of a whisk, I used a vintage egg beater I recently got from Dan’s grandma’s kitchen. It works like it is brand new. She took good care of her kitchen tools.

Brownie Mixing
I baked it in my 13X9 Pyrex Pan. It makes a LOT of Chewy Brownies!

Brownie Batter Pour

The recipe for these Chewy Brownies is here at Cooks Illustrated. It is a subscription website, so I don’t know how to post the recipe!

Swedish Meatballs

I’m the family chef….cook…..food maker. My sweet husband is good at bringing home the bacon and catching mice.
The teamwork works very well…..even when one is out of town.

Except the out of town person is USUALLY my husband! This time, it is ME who will be gone!

They’ll either have to cook their own food or go out….or eat cereal. To help out, I made some meatballs for them to heat up for a quick lunch or dinner. I’m SURE they’ll add a fruit, vegetable and bread to their plates. Just like I always do for them. 😉

This recipe for Swedish Meatballs is from Cooks Illustrated and I don’t change very much. I make the sauce different, using stock or broth instead of cream for the liquid.

MeatballsNoone should see Legislation or Meatballs being made!

Beef Stock

Beef Stock is another staple I like to have in my freezer pantry. I adapted a Cooks Illustrated recipe by adding more vegetables (they just use an onion) and using whatever meat I wanted. The important thing is to use meat that has BONES. Some recipes suggest roasting the vegetables and bones in the oven. I want to try that method. Today, I browned everything in my enameled cast iron stock pot and it worked very well. Here’s what I did!



I used a few different types of beef from Hy-Vee. I like their Amana brand. For this recipe, I used a large shank, beef short ribs, and some cut up beef roast. I browned it in batches in some vegetable oil until BROWNED but not done. Then I removed the beef to a plate. Next up was browning the cut-up vegetables.


Next we deglaze the pan with a liquid. I USUALLY use Apple Cider and I love that touch of sweet in my stocks and broths. This time, I followed the recipe and used 1/2 cup of Red Wine. I changed the rest of the liquid a bit because I ALWAYS add some Better Than Bouillon in place of some of the water. In this case, I added 2 cups of Beef Bouillon. Add the meat back into the pan and cover with water and simmer all afternoon.Image

I also added a 1/2 bag of greens. It was an experiment and it worked. I used frozen greens but I might try spinach next time.



Just let it bubble and spurtle and gurgle on your cooktop. Add more water if you want. When the meat falls apart, you are getting near done. Taste it. Does it need more salt? It might. Ina Garten says the difference between dishwater and good stock is salt. She’s right.When done, remove the meat and bones and veggies and throw out. I think they’ve done their job and don’t have anything more to give in terms of taste or nutrition. You may think different. Strain the stock a few times. I let my stocks cool OUTSIDE at least overnight during the cold season and the fat separates from the stock quickly and easily. The next day, must take the fat off and throw away.Image

See how thick and jelled it is? THAT, my friend, is a GOOD stock. Heat it up and taste it. Or freeze it already jelled. I like to freeze it is small portions (like a cup or two) but also in my large Weck Jars that are almost 3 cups.


I love making and using stock. You can even see the difference in color with these different jars. The Beef Stock is dark and thick. The Chicken Stock is golden. The Vegetable is almost an olive color. You KNOW these jars of goodness are nutritious!

Vegetable Stock

This afternoon I made a counter full of Vegetables into a delicious Stock.


I made an adaptation of a Cooks Illustrated recipe but using what I had and what I could find. Depending on what is in season and what is in the freezer, stock is a pretty easy thing to make! And if you make this, your soups, gravies, rice dishes or casseroles will taste OH So Much Better! Plus, homeade stock is more nutritious. It Just Is.

This recipe is available here but this is how I made it…….

Remember the BIG HUGE POT my brother got me for my birthday? Well, it was the PERFECT pot to make this huge recipe. I put a couple of Onions, 2 big organic Carrots, 2 ribs of Celery (from my freezer), a whole lot of Garlic (maybe 12 cloves) and about 9 Shallots in the pot with some California Olive Ranch oil and I let them saute until they got some color.


Add 2 cups of water but I kicked it up a notch and added BetterThanBouillon Vegetable Base. (1-2 teaspoons in 2 cups of water then microwave 3-4 minutes until boiling). I use a filtered water pitcher because the water tubes in my 12 year old GE Refrigerator have rotted and I no longer get filtered water from the fridge.


After it had simmered for 30 minutes or so, I added a nob of ginger, 1 Turnip, Bunch of Parsley stems, 1 teaspoon of Peppercorns, 2 teaspoons Salt, and 2 Bay Leaves along with about 8 cups of filtered water. That came up to a boil and I turned down the burner and let it simmer, partially covered, for about 45 minutes to an hour.


Next come a few less traditional ingredients! A Bag of Spinach. A Head of Cauliflower. A Lemon. 6 sprigs of Thyme. Some Green Onions and some One Farm Tomatoes from the freezer. I cooked this until the Cauliflower was soft and the spinach had cooked down….maybe 20 minutes.

Now it is time to strain the Vegetables from the Liquid. Be sure it is cool enough for you to handle and use Large Enough bowls and strainer. And be careful.


I put the stock in a few freezer bags for extended saving and in a Weck Jar to use later this week. Make this Vegetable Stock this weekend. It is Delicious, Nutritious, and Fun to Make!


Pumpkin Pie for my Boy

He loves Pumpkin Pie…that Boy of Mine.
So while he mowed and helped outside I was inside making his favorite pie.

I used MY favorite recipe from Cooks Illustrated….The Best Pumpkin Pie.
The technique for this pie is so different, but it is very delicious.

Baked Pumpkins
The shell is blind baked and the custard is cooked on the stove.

blind baked
It also uses Cream and Milk instead of canned milk.

I like that better.

FInished Pie

Beef and Barley Soup

I own 759 cookbooks, and CooksIllustrated.com is about the only place I get recipes.
Today I purchased a Piece-O-Beast from Costco and I cut it apart to make several dishes…..including Beef and Barley Soup.

I browned the Chuck chunks and veggies in my Lodge Cast Iron pot but cooked the soup all day in my OLD Crockpot.
It is 25 years old and works great. It gets really hot. Really. Hot. And it probably unsafe.
But I like it!

I made my own beef broth from some soup bones I got at the store and trimmings from the Hunk-O-Chuck.

I followed the recipe pretty much. You can find it here.
Next time, I’ll add some flour to the meat when I brown it so the liquid will thicken as it cooks.
I might try making it in the oven, too see how that turns out.

Not many pictures this time.