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cooking from scratch

Cooking and eating are two (of many) pleasures in life for me, I learned how to cook from watching my mother who was a fantastic cook. She could take just a few basic ingredients and make a meal fit for a king. I remember pushing a kitchen chair up to the counter and standing on it so I could see and help my mother cook. My first dish that I made all by myself was scrambled eggs, standing on a kitchen chair to reach the stove top, of course my mom was right there, but she let me do everything myself, I was so proud of that plate scrambled eggs.

My mother cooked everything from scratch, we never had boxed or pre-prepared anything, I will admit that I was a bit jealous of my friends who ate TV dinners from foil trays, they ate macaroni and cheese from the blue box, and white bread from plastic bags, I thought we were just too poor for such luxuries. Little did I know how lucky we were to have a mom who was talented in the kitchen. Once I was older I discovered just how tasteless that institutional food really was and appreciated my mother’s skills all the more.

One thing I learned from my mom was how to cook without having a recipe to follow, I call it “cooking by the seat of my pants”, I know how to follow a recipe, but I also know how to tweak a recipe, how to make it even better, how to substitute ingredients and best of all, how to make up my own recipe for the things I want. A few benefits of cooking for yourself is it’s usually more frugal, another reason is you know what is going into your food, no mystery ingredients (or ones you can’t pronounce) and best of all, it’s often tastier.

The other day at the grocery store, I purchased a package of English muffins, there were only 6 in the package, they were tasty but rather expensive. We quickly ate them over a matter of 2 mornings. I decided I wanted to make some, I had made them before, I know there are 2 different methods, one is to make a dough, roll it out, cut out the rounds, allow them to rise and grill until cooked on both sides. The other is the batter method, where you make a thick but pourable dough, I already knew I preferred the batter method as that results in English muffins with the nooks and crannies.

I searched through many recipes online but couldn’t find one that I wanted to use, so I just made one up. It’s not difficult, I poured some milk into a pan, added some butter, sugar and salt, I warmed it up until the butter melted (but not too hot), removed from heat, added a packet of yeast, stirred, then began to add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well until it became a thick batter. I covered it and kept warm until it bubbled up nicely, then I cooked them on a griddle top using silicon egg rings to contain the batter as it cooked. Sorry, I don’t measure anything, I just add ingredients until it looks right :)

egg-a-muffins

Once cooked on each side, remove from the griddle, cool a bit (that’s hard when fingers keep reaching for the hot muffins), slice each one in half and toast on the grill top. Eat as you wish, you can eat them with butter and jam, or you can put whatever filling you want, my favorite right now is a fried egg, sausage, bacon and cheese, we call them egg-a-muffins (can’t call them anything with a Mc in the name, but you know what I’m talking about). I’ll try to work out a recipe with measurements below.

The egg rings made it easy to do, both for the muffins and for the eggs, I received them to review and they work just fine, you can find them here: Silicone Egg Rings by Ozetti.

Here is a rough estimate for the ingredients, I think it should be easy enough to follow

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 packet rapid rise yeast (regular yeast will also work)
approx 2 cups flour

Add milk, sugar, salt and butter to a pan and warm until the butter melts, remove from heat, do not allow it to get too hot, add yeast, mix well, then start adding all purpose flour in half cup increments, stirring well (I use a whisk) after each addition, you want it to be a thick but pourable batter, it may take more flour. Cover and allow the yeast to work, the warmer your kitchen, the quicker it will happen, it should bubble up and nearly double in size in about a half hour. Heat a flat grill, griddle or frying pan, use the silicon rings or you can use canning lid rings (be sure to oil them), I touched the butter to the pan inside each ring, then scoop the batter into each ring, don’t fill too full. Allow to cook on a low flame for about 5-8 minutes on each side. Once cooked, allow to cool a bit, then slice in half and toast before eating.

You can use water instead of milk, if you do that you can add powdered milk or even a bit of non dairy creamer, or just go with plain water.

This batter reminds me of the no knead artisanal breads that are all the rage, the dough is wet and when you mix it, it becomes “shaggy” looking as the yeast does its thing and the gluten is developed. Let me know if you try this and how it works out for you :)



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