Sunday, July 14, 2013

Homemade Doughnut (holes)

Hey! Natalie and Amanda here.

We got kind of bored today, and we were craving a treat, so we decided to make doughnuts. Which later just became doughnut holes. This is where we got the recipe.It was really delicious and the doughnuts turned out wonderfully!

You will need:

  • .25 oz active,dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water 
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
If you choose to make your doughnuts with a glaze, here are the ingredients.
 (We just made ours with powdered sugar which we will explain later.)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp hot water or as needed
Step 1
Weigh/measure the yeast

Step 2
Add it to the warm water, and let stand for 5 minutes, or until it's kind of foamy. We put our mixture outside on the front porch.

Step 3
In a large bow, mix together all the dough ingredients, including the yeast/water mix. Mix at low speed. We had to use a pastry blender to mix all the shortening in.

Step 4
Beat in the remaining flour (3 cups) 1/2 cup at a time, or until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl and is smooth/elastic.

Step 5
Put the dough into a greased bowl, place it somewhere warm, and let it rise. The actual recipe says to let it double in size, but ours wasn't going to ever double, so we just let it sit for 20 minutes, which worked out great.

Step 6
Put the dough on a slightly floured surface and roll out until it is about 1/2 inch in thickness.

Step 7
Cut the shapes of your doughnuts out. The recipe then says to let them double in size again, but Natalie and I didn't do this, and ours turned out great!

Step 8
Heat up the oil in a fryer or heavy skillet up to 350 degrees. Once it's heated up, begin to cook the doughnuts. 

Step 9
Make sure to turn them over so they are evenly brown (we recommend using tongs to turn them). When they're done, use the tongs to take them out, and put them on a plate covered in paper towels. 

Step 10
When the doughnuts are no longer steaming hot, roll them/dust them in powdered sugar if you would like. That's what we did, and they were great! Though we also discovered they were delicious if you put a little bit of peanut butter and raspberry jam on them. Or honey. Or cinnamon sugar. Again, if you just want a simple glaze, the instructions are here.

(this is when we sprinkled the powdered sugar on, it didn't work out too well)

(we recommend rolling it, because the sugar ended up sticking better to the doughnut holes)

And thanks to Khrys Bosland for the cute font used in the previous image!


-Amanda and Natalie

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How to take pictures of sparkler images/words

Hey! Amanda here.

Since it's the summer season and many of you are lighting/watching fireworks, I figured it would be useful to write a post about how to take the long-exposure shots.

You will need:
  • A digital camera- one that has "bulb" mode
  • Sparklers
  • A tri-pod
  • People to help take the pictures
First off, set your camera to bulb mode, with the ISO set to 100.

Set up your tripod and make sure your camera is in focus- I know it's really tempting just to start taking pictures as soon as the sparklers are lit, but take a second and make sure it's focused, otherwise, the entire batch of pictures will be garbage quality.

Next, light a sparkler. When they start to draw or write, push down the shutter button and hold it down until they're done (it's helpful to have them say start and stop) or until the sparkler goes out. 

That's it! Here are some of the pictures we took with sparklers! Enjoy! Please comment down below with any questions you may have!

*This method (bulb mode) also works great for fireworks!

Dill Pickle Recipe -- a family favorite

I'll be the first to admit that I usually complain about canning season. That is, about everything except canning pickles. These are my favorite thing to can! Perhaps it's because I can do it in small batches, and it doesn't consume a whole day. Or perhaps it's because all the ingredients are fresh and home-grown.

I only use whole cucumbers for my pickles. I pick and store my baby cucumbers, up to a week, in plastic bags in the fridge -- UNWASHED -- until I have enough for a batch. (Washing them causes them not to store as well.) Also, if you're as addicted to canning pickles as I am, I suggest planting at least 3 hills of pickling cukes (we plant Pioneer Pickler). That way, when the cucumbers begin coming on, you can accumulate enough for a batch quickly. And, once you have canned enough pickles, you simple pull up the plants.

Happy pickling!

Dill Pickles

8 pounds cucumbers (I can whole cucumbers -- baby size. I think they stay crisper that way.)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. canning salt (I don't know what canning salt is. I just use regular iodized table salt.)
1 quart vinegar (4 c.)
1 quart water (4 c.)
3 Tablespoons mixed pickling spices (in a tea diffuser or tied up in cheesecloth)
fresh or dried heads of dill -- 1 per jar
cayenne pepper or pieces of hot pepper
whole garlic cloves, peeled -- one per pint jar
ground mustard, fine

Wash cucumbers well; drain. Combine sugar, salt, vinegar and water in a large saucepot. Add spice bag to mixture; simmer 15 minutes. 

In clean pint jars place: head of dill, 1 clove garlic, 1/4 tsp. ground mustard, 1/2 inch piece of hot pepper (no seeds) or 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper. Next, pack in clean, fresh cucumbers leaving 1/4-inch headspace.

Ladle hot liquid over cucumbers, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust 2-piece canning lids. (I like to soak my lids in just barely simmering water for 5 minutes before putting them on the jars.) 

Process pints and quarts 25 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Note: After canning the pickles, allow 6 weeks before eating them so they'll reach their full flavor.