Friday, November 12, 2010

Baking up a storm!

I have been going a little crazy with baking lately. This week alone I made chocolate chip cookies, peppernuts, multigrain buns and lemon bars. Fortunately, most of the cookies, peppernuts and buns made it into the freezer before I could sample too many of them. The lemon bars are for dessert for supper tomorrow.

We are making a practice turkey so we will know exactly how to make our Christmas turkey perfect (we are hosting my family, all 16 of them, again this Christmas). I must admit that I spend a bit of time each day reading recipes from the website Tastespotting. On occasion I will bookmark a recipe and come back to it if we are looking to try something new. In one of my sessions, I came across the concept of brining a turkey. I did some more research into it and decided I wanted to try it because I had read that it makes the turkey juicy and tender and delicious. I was informed by a client at work that they sell a brining kit at Costco, so last time we were out there I picked one up. The kit included a bag of sea salt with seasonings in it, a gigantic brining bag (for a turkey up to 24lbs!) and a spice rub to put on the bird before you roast it. Today I brined the turkey for eight hours. I just rinsed it and put it back in the roaster in the garage to await the oven tomorrow afternoon. With the turkey we are having some of my fresh home made buns and an Asian cabbage salad. We decided we didn't need to do a big turkey dinner for just the three of us, so that is the menu we settled on.

I decided I wanted to have something for dessert, since we had invited a friend to join us for supper. When I stopped today to pick up some bean sprouts for the salad (that I forgot to buy the other night) I saw some fresh lemons and felt inspired to make something lemony. I have to confess that I am not a lover of lemons. I would say in most instances I prefer lemon as more of a savory flavor than a sweet one. The exception of course is lemon meringue pie...yum!

I only bought two lemons because I didn't have any specific recipes in mind. When I came home I thought about the frozen tart shells I have, and thought about making lemon curd to go in them, but I didn't have nearly enough lemons or eggs, so I scratched that. After probably spending a good hour sorting through lemon recipes on Tastespotting, I narrowed it down to blueberry lemon crumb bars (which I would probably make with saskatoon berries since I still have some in the freezer from the summer) and lemon bars. I decided to go withe the lemon bars. After they were baked and cooled I decided we should probably taste them to make sure they weren't gross before feeding them to our guest tomorrow. I was pleasantly surprised. They don't look quite as pretty as the ones that are on the website, however they taste like a thin layer of lemon pie filling on top of a nice firm, crispy/flaky shortbread crust.

I have been amazed by a few recipes that we have made that call for lemon zest. It is chock full of delicious lemon flavor. I think it tastes even better and more pleasant in recipes than even the fresh lemon juice does. On the other hand I have tried making muffins with orange zest and I don't care for the taste of it. Not sure if I have ever done lime zest, but I think I would like that too. Mmm, I bet those lemon bars would be awesome as lime bars. Oooh, I will have to keep that in mind for next time!

I have really been enjoying baking, but I have to say I need to get back to working out regularly or these extra calories are going to start sticking to places I don't want them!!

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