Joyeux Noel from the Jerkins

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

[our Christmas card. inspired by this, drawn by talented Sister.]

Baking @ Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

[is anyone else sad about how twitter has commandeered the @ symbol?]

[butterscotch pie, for our Sunday school class Christmas party]

It's no secret I love to bake; and I just love how Christmas provides ample excuse to get busy in the kitchen and try new things.

(My photos are going to be spotty at best.)

First up: Whole-Wheat Beer Bread

[adding the beer]

[batter topped with some kosher salt before baking, to give it some crunch on the topping]

[sorry it's blurry, but you can tell it's nice]

I first heard of beer bread from my brother-in-law's girlfriend. She sent me a recipe even simpler than this one: 3 cups self-rising flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 12 oz can/bottle of beer. The whole yeast-in-the-beer-makes-the-bread-rise thing fascinates me.

And oooo-weee, three ingredients, and you get a loaf of bread? Awesome.

I wanted to try to see how a whole wheat version would work out. This particular whole-wheat recipe calls for brown sugar, so it's not as sweet as the white flour version. both=yummmmmm

Whole Wheat Beer Bread
[from here]

1.5 c all-purpose flour
1.5 c whole wheat flour
4.5 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 teaspoons salt
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1 12 oz can/bottle of beer (PBR works well)

Stir dry ingredients together, then add the beer slowly. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for about 38 minutes. Remove and brush with butter. Bake another 15 minutes and remove/brush with butter again. Serve.

Next up: Jerkins family fave, Thumbprint Cookies

and Jonny's artsy pictures (i obvi didnt take these):

If you want this recipe, email me and I'll send it to you. This cookie won me my first ever Cookie Exchange.

Next up: Pebbernodder (Danish Christmas Cookies)

read about them on wikipedia here, if you want

Earlier this year, I really got interested in cardamom. I wanted to know what it's used for since it seems so exotic and specialized, and I'd never used it. One of the items I came across in my research were these little Danish Christmas cookies.

They just looked so adorable and tiny.

The recipe I used is here via allrecipes, and uses cinnamon and cardamom as the spices. Some versions (apparently) have black pepper, nuts, anise, nutmeg, etc. There are plenty on allrecipes to look at if you want to compare.

I liked the simplicity of this particular recipe. Delicious with coffee. Not super-sweet, though.

Also, Waishauna and I made some good ole-fashioned frosted sugar cookies (no photos uploaded yet) and I'm attempting cinnamon rolls again. (Trying to vindicate myself after last year's disaster.) Thanks, Mrs Michelle! I'll let you know how it goes.

Dining table + stockings:

Only a few more days until the BIG DAY! Merry Christmas!

Christmas Came Early!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I got home was dark and cold and I was tired and hungry. Poor poor me.

But what was that waiting for me on the kitchen counter? An unexpected package addressed to Leslie Jerkins!

And what was inside?

[The Pioneer Woman Cooks, here]

From my precious and dear friend Katie. I jumped up and down.

Then I jumped up and down a little more when I saw this:

Katie got to see Pioneer Woman at Book People in Austin for a book signing a few weeks ago. And she had this delightful surprise up her sleeve for me this whole time!

I did not go to sleep last night until I had looked at every page of this book---saw every photo, read every vingette. It's a fun cookbook that I can't wait to use.

[Katie's in the middle, with Jenn on the right]

Thank you, Katie. You are so dear to me. Merry Christmas!

[p.s. check out Katie's blog, eating as i go. she's starting up a cooking blog of her own!]

i'm getting some funny looks...?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Now, I know these are not everyone's cup of tea...

[from modcloth]

but I just love 'em. Wearing them today with these:

[beautiful Frye knockoffs from Target]

Btw, the Frye boots themselves:

look how similar! insanity. Sister first brought these to my attention.

plus this skirt:

[from BR this fall]

and brown turtleneck... something along these lines:

+ black cardigan [no photo]

[I've really been overdoing the brown/black combo recently but it's too much fun.]

This outfit is either totally stupid or genius. not sure which.

"garden gams leggings"=too much?

(first saw these leggings on What I Wore, blog link on my sidebar. She's so adorable, I wish her full blog posts/photos showed up in Reader. the end.)

it just tickles my fancy...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sorry if I was all over the place yesterday with that butter stuff.

I did get a few questions about the butter, which I'd like to address:

1. Does all of this butter need to be refrigerated? yes.

2. Do you use unsalted or salted butter? I always use unsalted butter for everything. Alexis Stewart has mentioned repeatedly on her radio show to only use unsalted butter for baking. And then I heard Martha Stewart on her radio show say that she uses unsalted butter for everything. She said that salted butter was produced when refrigeration wasn't as widespread, and today's recipes don't compensate for the salt already in butter.

3. Where did you get your 4 oz Ball jars? I got mine at Superlo here in Memphis. Had to go to two locations. Darby says she got hers from Wal-Mart, but I generally avoid Wal-Marts in metropolitan areas.

Okay, onto a few things that will keep this from becoming a baking-only blog. This will be random as well...consider yourself warned.

A) This American Life.

Where the heck have I been? I've been listening to the weekly podcasts for the past two months and have enjoyed every single one. It's crazy...I'll be driving somewhere, listening along, and get to my destination and not be able to get out of the car. Once when I really needed to go inside somewhere, I unplugged my iphone and listened to it walking through the parking lot, holding it to my ear. Nerd alert.

If you haven't listened to this wonderful radio show yet, you should definitely give it a shot. I stream it through the NPR app on the iphone, but obviously you can get it through itunes as well, or listen through their website. Each week, they present 3-4 stories on different themes, complete with interviews and emotion-evoking mood music. I have been known to laugh out loud, but also have teared up on occasion, not going to lie.

Supremely enjoyable overall, that's for sure. (Also it makes me feel like a real adult listening to a radio program regularly.) [image here]

B) I compiled a list of phrases for you that have recently caught my attention. Drake and Zeke, the local radio show I listen to in the mornings, have been reading "lists" of the past decade. One they read recently was "most annoying office phrases" --this got me thinking about turns of phrase that have recently been either delightful or totally annoying.
1. Phrases that tickle my fancy:
a. "pretty as the morning" --heard on Lonesome Dove
b. "isn't that just a pot of beans?" --Jonathan's grandmother said to me on the phone
c. "oh piffle" --a classic Jonathan's grandmother phrase

2. Phrases that have been grating on my last nerve but have maybe been guilty of saying at one time or another before I could stop myself:
a. "compare apples to apples"
b. "thinking outside of the box" --that is so a not outside-the-box thing to say
c. "cheat sheet"

[full list D&Z were referring to here or maybe here]

Are there any particular phrases that you abhor or love? Any podcasts that you wouldn't miss if your life depended on it? Please share!

Here's a Christmas-y photo for you, lest you think I forgot the spirit!

Santa night-light by our back door. I like 'eem.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Settle in...I went a little nuts.

So it seems like the entire blogosphere has been abuzz with posting about Darby's Cinnamon Honey Butter.

As previously mentioned, I already had these grand plans of making pumpkin butter, which she mentioned/made earlier in the fall.

On Sunday, it was finally time.

Started off with one of the big cans of canned pumpkin in my big pot:

then some good ole fresh nutmeg...

[the brain!]

Cloves, cinnamon, white sugar, some other stuff...

You let it simmer on the stove for a while.

Then put it in your 4 oz clear Ball jars that you had to drive all over the city to try to find [since, as I already stated, everyone and their mom has been making Darby's cinnamon honey butter].

Yeah, I filled 'em up too much. And these pictures are blurry and crappy. Sorry. Ah well.

Pumpkin Butter
[from here]

1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (+ a little extra if you're me)

Then I thought, why stop there? Since everyone's raving about this cinnamon honey butter, I'll give it a go myself...

Seriously ... how can butter and powdered sugar start go wrong?

And honey too?

It can't. Cinnamon:

Anything with four ingredients that is tasty=my friend.


Cinnamon Honey Butter
[from here]

1 cup butter, softeneed
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Whip it good.

Then, last night I became a complete freak. I mean, why stop at two specialty butters? Why not make TWO more kinds (while baking cookies and bread)? Why not be completely ADD and make multiple types of butter instead of just multiple batches of the same kind?

Yeah. Ha.

First up, was a zany combination of the two above.

Pumpkin Honey Butter.

And I kinda went crazy and played with the recipe myself. That always makes you feel powerful in the kitchen, right?

Had some leftover pumpkin puree I had frozen from pie week Day 3.

It's about 3 tablespoons of this with two sticks of butter/powdered sugar... and pumpkin pie spice + honey

Again, filled them a little too much. Should probably have been 6 jars instead of 4 1/2 (we kept the half-jar).

Pumpkin Honey Butter

2 sticks butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 T pumpkin
1/2 teaspooon pumpkin pie spice

this may be my fave.

Next up?

Strawberry Butter.

Not as seasonal, but three ingredients. Can't beat that.

Found this adorable jar of strawberry jam at Fresh Market when I was there getting us a frozen pizza for dinner (something's gotta give when you're going butter-crazy... plus their brand's frozen pizzas are maybe $3.25 and yummy).

[you like my cheesy gingerbread house candle thingy that's in focus behind this?]

Whip up 2 sticks of butter, and add 4 tablespoons of this jam and maybe 1/3 cup powdered sugar (I just dumped it in, so I'm not really sure how much powdered sugar it was. Just add until you like the fluffy texture.)

Whew. And delish. You get butter and jam on your biscuit in one go.

Strawberry Butter

2 sticks butter, softened
1/3-ish cup powdered sugar
4 T strawberry jam

Whip it. Jar it. Refrigerate.

Btw, I used the new I Can't Believe It's Not Butter sticks for the strawberry butter, just to see. From the little schmear I had, it tasted normal/yummy/all of that good stuff. Their new marketing campaign worked on me, apparently.

Had visions of making orange butter too, but had to stop for the evening. Jonny and I have been watching Lonesome Dove installments on DVD. Festive, huh? No, but it's so good...

Boxes of butters with their sticker labels I made before heading to the fridge:

with its (slightly fraying) ribbon, ready to go:

I'll be back with a separate post on the week's baking...I made some bread to go along with these butters, as well as some other stuff. It's all delicious on English muffins, toast, etc. Maybe English muffins will be my next endeavor...hmm. Don't want to overdo it too much in one post.

Um, too late, Leslie...


pinecone garland

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This is indeed "easy as pie," as Kathleen on Twig & Thistle said it was (how fitting for me...pie!).

[T&T original post here]

You start with a bag of pinecones. I got my bag at Michael's for $2.50 and they're cinnamon-scented. Can't beat that. Also while at Michael's, I got a spool of grey ribbon for about $1.50ish. Then, procured a package of hooks & eyes from Home Depot. These were maybe $3 or so and I obviously have a ton leftover for more crafty stuff.

This is the extent of items purchased for this project.

These suckers need to have a little mmmmph...hence the 5/8" ones.

Then, I measured my ribbon over the window and cut it how long I wanted my garland to be. From there, you can just lay down your pinecones on top of the ribbon and space them how you want them/how many you want.

Here's where the "elbow grease" comes in.

Some of the pinecones have natural little "holes" in the top already. With some of them, it's nearly impossible to get any sort of something screwed in. I did have to select my pinecones depending on their naturally-occurring crevices in the top.

(sorry these are fuzzy photos)

Anyway, you can see how I found a natural little indention in the top of the pinecone and just really used my brute strength to screw it in. Husband helped me with this part too... But I'm pretty sure you could use hot glue or super glue if you ran into too many problems getting the hooks screwed into the pinecones.

After this, you space out your pinecones-that-now-have-hooks on the ribbon again, and then you hole-punch spaces for the hooks to hang on.

And that's it.

Seriously, not much to it.

Does anyone else think LED lights look weird?

I'm not 100% happy with this little window set-up, but I'm trying to compensate for not having a mantle in our cozy townhome.

Wanted these kind of lights...

...but according to the box, they could've caught the curtains on fire.

Merry Christmas and merry pinecone garland-making!

peppermint palmiers

Monday, December 14, 2009

"palmiers" ...

...pronounced palm-ee-ays

I first saw this recipe in the Better Homes & Gardens special holiday baking issue while waiting in line at Home Depot, of all places.

How could I resist that photo?

As previously mentioned, our Sunday school class wives have a cookie exchange/swap/contest every Christmas.

I've also previously mentioned that I'm not an uber-uber chocolate lover, so dainty/pink/frosting-y photos like this just call my name. [I also love (most) all things mint/peppermint.]

There were 23 participants in this year's Cookie Exchange. With four cookies/bag + plate for tasting...quick math: it's over 100 cookies!

The only palmiers I'd made before were the ones here, made from puff pastry sheets, sugar, and a little kosher salt only. Never had I gone beyond this simple idea and made my own dough...though I did already grasp the general concept of rolling/folding/slicing them to get that swirly center.

[my peppermint palmier close-up, with powdered sugar/milk glaze]

After my test batch, and some expert taste opinions [thanks Gregg], I decided to add the glaze to the cookies for a little extra sweetness.

Also, I used peppermint schnapps instead of white creme de menthe, because it was $10 cheaper at my liquor store. So who knows if that made much of a difference? Any opinions on this?

Find the full recipe here. You can't just whip these up real quick--there's some freezing times involved after each step, some rolling out, etc.

But once you get these rolled up with the filling inside, they are super easy to slice and bake (basically).

...and they're pretty darn melt-in-your-mouth yummy.

I tried to package them like "peppermints" ---

with the recipe folded up inside...

[fully knowing I wouldn't win the Best Packaging prize. Look at Martha's cute boxes she printed...

and the winner: Carrie's adorable Starbucks cups

...for her chocolate espresso cookies!]

Yep. We go all out. 'Tis not for the faint of heart.


up this week: our tree (finally!) decorated, pinecone garland, some cooking from the weekend, and pumpkin butter!

Happy Monday!
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