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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Whiteout, Part II and Butterscotch Pudding

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Ever feel like you’re caught between a dream and the best version of bedrock reality, with one foot on solid ground and the other part of you–well, floating off in never-never land somewhere?

Butterscotch pudding, especially the homemade, still warm version, can make you feel like that. There’s something earthy and comfortable and reassuring about the mix of brown sugar and butter flavors, a sense of the substantial and solid. But then there’s the delicate smoothness of the pudding, and the slightly ethereal quality of the creamy and subtle blend of flavors–and suddenly all that bedrock earthiness evaporates in your mouth and on your tongue. Then you get to the bottom of the bowl and you almost doubt if you ate anything, yet somehow you feel warm and relaxed and cared for–on solid ground. That’s homemade butterscotch pudding for you.

In the second half of “Whiteout,” Zach and Becca find themselves in that tension between dream and reality. Both the blizzard and their intense love straddle the line between powerful reality and fleeting dream, and they’re never quite sure which it is, or what the duality means for their lives. But, like butterscotch pudding, they sure do enjoy the experience!

butterscotch pudding

Butterscotch Pudding

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1 3/4 cup milk*

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

optional: 1/2 teaspoon scotch or whiskey

*Use dairy milk only. Soy, almond, or other milk varieties will not set up properly. You can also use a combination of milk and cream for a thicker, creamier pudding.

Add the brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt to a medium saucepan. Add the milk to this mixture, and whisk ingredients together until the dry ingredients are dissolved.

Place the saucepan over medium heat on the stove. Stir this mixture constantly until it begins to simmer, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the saucepan as you stir. Allow the mixture to simmer for about a minute, stirring constantly, then remove the pudding from the heat. Once the pudding is off of the heat, add the vanilla, butter, and scotch or whiskey (if using). Stir ingredients together until the butter is melted.

Pour the pudding into two cups. Cover the cups with plastic wrap, laying the plastic wrap directly on the pudding if you don’t want the pudding to develop a skin. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until chilled.

water bath

{Expediting the cooling process with an ice bath}

If you want to speed up the chilling process, put the saucepan with the pudding into an ice bath (take a  large bowl and fill the bottom with cold water and ice and set the saucepan into the water, ensuring the water does not go into the saucepan). Stir the pudding while it is in the ice bath for about 5 minutes, or until it is cool enough to touch. Pour the pudding into cups and refrigerate for about an hour, or until the pudding is fully set. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

butterscotch pudding with topping

{Topped mine with a dollop of chilled hot fudge-delicious!}

{Adapted from Dessert for Two}

To download all of Whiteout (for free!) click on the cover.

To hear or view Part II, click on the links below the cover.

Enjoy!

Whiteout cover

Whiteout, Part II, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Whiteout, Part II, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Whiteout, Part I and Vanilla Cupcakes

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Ever been in a whiteout? Most people think of whiteouts as blizzard conditions so severe that you can’t see more than a few feet in front of you (and some of us were in exactly those conditions just this past January).

But there are other kinds of whiteouts–times in our lives when a feeling or event or experience totally overwhelms us and immerses us in that moment, unable to see beyond what’s in front of us. This post explores different kinds of whiteouts.

Whether the scrumptious cake of our vanilla cupcake or its delicate and delicious white frosting, whether the blizzard Zach and Becca wander into in the story or the transcendent love they discover while out there, there are plenty of rich and overwhelming experiences here. Take a minute (or an hour or longer) to immerse yourself in some or all of these “whiteouts.”

Put aside all your other cares and concerns, and be swallowed by these treats. You’ll be glad you did!

cupcake

Vanilla Cupcakes

1 egg white

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 Tablespoons milk

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place two cupcake liners in a muffin pan.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white and granulated sugar. Add the melted butter, vanilla, and milk. Stir until ingredients are combined. Add the flour and baking powder, slowly stirring until the flour is just combined.

unbaked cupcakes

Divide the batter between the two muffin cups. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes before frosting. Makes two cupcakes.

cupcake1

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3 teaspoons milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

3/4-1 cup powdered sugar

To make the frosting, add the butter, milk, vanilla, and salt to a bowl. Mix ingredients together with an electric mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add as much powdered sugar as you want until you get the consistency and flavor that you desire. (I used about 3/4 cup.) Frost the cooled cupcakes. Cover any leftover frosting and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. Enough to frost 2-4 cupcakes.

cupcake2

{Cupcakes adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction}

And now for “Whiteout,” our new story:

To download the entire story (for free!) click on the cover.

To hear or view Part I, click on the links below the cover.

Enjoy!

Whiteout cover

Whiteout, Part I, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Whiteout, Part I, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Wyoming, Part II and Lemon Bars

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There’s something about the scent of lemons!!!

Come on–you’ve got to admit it: there’s probably no better, fresher, cleaner, more stimulating and refreshing scent in the whole world than that of lemons! And in this post, you’re going to get that scent in so many different forms you’ll think you’ve died and gone to Heaven. First, there will be the delicate yet pungent odor as you grate a little zest from the outer rind of the lemon. Then there will be the somewhat stronger smell when you slice that lemon in half. Then the odor will all but overpower you as you either squeeze the juice into a strainer or, if you’re really lucky (and well-equipped in your kitchen), use an electric or hand-operated juicer. My, my–can’t you already smell that juice in the air and in the container and on your knife and hands!

Now let’s mix it in the filling, take the edge of the strong odor by diluting it with sugar and butter and flour and eggs–still smells great, just not quite so strong. Then pour the filling on the baked crust and pop it in the oven and wait for the lemon smell to fill the whole kitchen, the whole house! Then take the bars out of the oven–aren’t you dying with anticipation?–and let them cool just long enough so that they don’t burn your mouth then taste the delicious, delectable smell of lemon in you mouth and on your tongue. Just about perfect. No, not just about perfect–it is perfect!

And just when you think you’ve had all the lemon scent you could possibly manage in one night or day, click on the audio or text version of Wyoming, Part II below and get still another version of the scent of lemon, this one mixed with the delicate fragrance of sage–as in sagebrush. Got you just a touch curious now, don’t we? Admit it–just a touch curious?

That’s O.K. Lemon scent will do that to people. Just ask Zach and Allison!

lemon bars

Lemon Bars

For the crust:

6 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the filling:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon lemon zest

3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, about 1 medium lemon

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make sure you have a 9x5x3 inch bread loaf pan. If the pan is metal, line it with aluminum foil; if your loaf pan is glass, you do not need to line it with foil. Spray the glass pan or aluminum foil with cooking spray.

Prepare the crust by combining the cold butter, flour, and sugar. Use two knives, a pastry cutter, or your hands to mix ingredients together until you achieve a texture of coarse meal (butter should be the size of peas). Press this mixture into the bottom of your loaf pan. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the edges just begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

prebaked crust

{crust before baking}

baked crust

{crust after baking}

While the crust is cooling, prepare the filling. To prepare the filling, start by juicing the lemon. First, roll the lemon on the counter–this helps get the most juice out of the fruit. Next, cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a cup. Be sure to remove any seeds before measuring the three tablespoons you need for the filling. Next, add the sugar, lemon zest (be sure not to get any of the white rind), lemon juice, and egg to a mixing bowl. Beat these ingredients together for about a minute, or until the mixture is frothy.

frothy batter

{this is what frothy looks like!}

Add the baking powder and flour and mix until no lumps remain. Pour this mixture on top of the baked crust. Return the lemon bars to the oven and bake for another 20-22 minutes, or until the filling is set. Remove the bars from the oven and let cool completely before cutting them. Dust cut lemon bars with powdered sugar, if desired. Recipe makes 6 bars.

lemon bars

{adapted from Dessert For Two}

To download all of Wyoming (for free!) click on the cover.

To hear or view Part II, click on the links below the cover.

Enjoy!

Wyoming_cover

Wyoming, Part II, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Wyoming, Part II, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Wyoming, Part I and XXL Triple Chocolate Cookie

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Welcome to our very first Reading and Recipes post! We have been brainstorming, discussing, revising, and discussing some more about this blog and our very first post. We feel that this decadent XXL Triple Chocolate Cookie pairs perfectly with part one of the short story titled “Wyoming”. Or, rather, this delicious cookie perfectly contradicts the beginning of this story. This recipe has comfort written all over it, which, I’m sure, Zach and Allison (the two main characters you will meet in “Wyoming”) would have loved. The two newlyweds start to face struggles, both internally and externally, and could have used a big dose of comfort. Below you will find the recipe and instructions for making this cookie. Go ahead and mix up the cookie dough and put it in the oven. Once that’s done baking and has cooled, scroll to the bottom of this post and choose either the audio or read-only text version of Wyoming, Part I; then sit back, relax, and enjoy your freshly baked cookie and the beginning of Zach and Allison’s adventures of newlywed life!

  

XXL Triple Chocolate Cookie

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons egg substitute (or crack one egg, beat it, and use 2 Tbsp)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

2 Tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips (or your favorite candy)

2 Tablespoons dark chocolate chips (or your favorite candy)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick mat. Set aside.

Add the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar to a mixing bowl. Mix with a fork until ingredients are combined. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and combine all of the ingredients. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and slowly stir ingredients together. Fold in both kinds of chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into one large ball and place on cookie sheet. Dot the top of the cookie dough with a few more chocolate chips. Bake the cookie for 14-16 minutes. Do not over bake! The cookie will appear soft and undercooked, but I promise it’s done. Remove cookie from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes before eating.

{adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction}

And for some delicious reading to accompany your cookie, we bring you Wyoming, Part I:

To download the entire story (for free!) click on the cover.

To hear or view Part I, click on the links below the cover.

Enjoy!

Wyoming_cover

Wyoming, Part I, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Wyoming, Part I, text  © Jeffrey Anderson