Thursday, April 7, 2016

Cheesy Chowder and Butter Bread

Cheesy Chowder
I used the recipe, which I understand is actually Andrew's mom's recipe.
This one is one my son has been asking for since we read about it in the first book.  Ironically, he isn't much of a soup eater.  On top of that, while Nepal has tons of delicious food here, cheese is not a strength!  So, when I imagine a bowl of thick cream chowder with melted cheddar, it was hard for me to let go of that and just embrace the general "cow cheese," which is not great.  Because of that, I did also add a few processed cheese slices to the mix.  Not classy, but it helped it be a bit smoother and make for a more familiar cheese taste.
I also used chicken broth instead of water.

Butter Bread
I used this recipe, but I doubled the butter (both for in and on the bread) because, well, in this Midwestern American girl's mind, if you have something called BUTTER bread, I want to TASTE the butter!  :)
I did then only do 1/4 c water at the end and probably could have skipped it altogether.  It makes a very wet dough, so I kneaded it in the bowl and let it rise there.  It is a different texture than a sandwich bread this way (almost more like a biscuit), and it was falling apart (I might try to play around with that a bit), but we loved it!
One note:  This makes one very large loaf!  I couldn't see anywhere in the recipe where it said what SIZE of pan to use.  I used my larger loaf pan (9x5, I think), and it still filled it to nearly overflowing.
Edit:  When making it a second time, I used more like 3/8 c butter in the dough and just put some extra on top from what the recipe suggested, and it turned out really well.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Legos and Drawings from Wingfeather

(I should note that these drawings and Lego scenes might kind of be spoilers, so wait if you haven't yet read the books!)
When my son is enthusiastic about something, he often kicks into long stretches of drawing or building Legos related to it.  He asked me if there are any Wingfeather Lego sets, and when I told him there were not, he opted to make his own.  He was sure that Andrew Peterson needed to see these, and that these sets should definitely be manufactured!  :)

First, when we were doing book reports for our homeschool co-op, he made a promotional poster for the first book.  He doesn't always take a lot of risks and usually asks for a coloring page of a subject before he'll start drawing it.  We ended up printing out a couple of the illustrations from the Wingfeather Saga site (Pete on Nugget, the toothy cow, and the Fang).  Once he had those, he actually sat for a long stretch of time looking at the drawing in book 2 of Pete's tree house and drew it on his own.

One of the first things he wanted to make was giant Nugget.  Since he wanted it to be much bigger than the usual minifigures, he built it and tried to make a head.

Here is his drawing of Artham and the sea dragons fighting off Fangs on the Enremere.

These are the minifigures he put together.  From left to right:  Leeli, Durgan guildling, Janner, Bat Fang, Bat Fang, and Green Fang.

He spent quite a lot of time on this scene.  It is the Glipwood jail (with Janner) and the Black Carriage with a Green Fang driving.

Just a few things he's been creating as he gets engrossed in the stories.  He also is building Chimney Hill but doesn't want me to take a photo with it not finished. :)

Oh, and I'm adding his Gnag-Dragon that he just finished.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Appreciators of the Neat, Strange, and/or Yummy

If you know the reference from that title, then you are our people!  And, if not, JOIN US!  :)
We have been reading the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson and have been absolutely and completely captured by it!  My son and I have bonded so much over it, and we are just wrapping up the last book (don't write any spoilers!).
My son and I are "go big or go home" kind of people, so when we love something, we tend to submerge ourselves (and those around us) in it!  So, we'll post a few things here on the blog in case there are other crazy fans who just can't help themselves from pretending to live in Aerwiar for a time.
And, why not start with food?!
So, a few recipes for you to kick this off:

Henmeat Biscuit Pie (adapted from Alton Brown)
Janner says in The Monster in the Hollows that it is his favorite when he has come home from a very rough day.  His mother simply says, "I know."  Comfort food at its best.

8 T (1/2 c) butter
2 pounds henmeat, cut into pieces
1/2 c flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup cream
2 cups chicken broth
1 t salt
1/2 t ground sage
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

4 1/4 c flour, plus more for rolling out
3 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 t dried thyme
1/2 t ground sage
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/2 c grated cheese (We don't really have options here; it's just "cow cheese." But, I would go with cheddar, if given the option. I did find some "aged" cheese here that I used.)
170 g (3/4 cup) cold butter, cut into small pieces
(Alton has a trick that I have heard is really good, which is to freeze the butter and then grate it...but, really, I never remember to freeze it ahead of time, so I've never tried it.)
1 1/4 c buttermilk (I didn't have any, so I soured plain milk with about 1 T of vinegar.)

In a deep skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter and brown the chicken pieces in it.
Add the flour and mix it in, cooking for about a minute.
Slowly add the liquids (milk, cream, and broth).  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cooking for another 2-3 minutes until sauce thickens.  Season with the sage, salt, and pepper, and then set aside.

For the biscuits, combine all the dry ingredients and grated cheese.  Then cut in the butter (I just use a fork) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Pour in the buttermilk and stir to combine.  Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and start folding the dough over on itself, gently kneading for 30 seconds, or until the dough is soft and smooth. Press the dough into a 1/2-inch thick round. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out the biscuits, being sure to push the cutter straight down through the dough to the work surface. Make your cuts as close together as possible to limit waste. Gather together any remaining dough, pat out again, and cut out as many biscuits as you can. 

Pour the henmeat filling into a large (mine was 9x13) casserole dish and then lay the biscuits on top.  (I ended up with more biscuits than fit on top, using these quantities, so you could adjust the quantities for the biscuits, or we just baked the extra biscuits on a tray and enjoyed them.)  
Bake at 400 degrees F until the biscuits have risen and are starting to get golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Jellymuffins (adapted from Simply Delicious)
Mentioned in the first book, at least, when they go to the Dragon Day Festival
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 c plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup soured milk (mix about a teaspoon of vinegar into the milk and let set for a few minutes before using)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g butter, melted (2/3 cup)
12 tsp sweetberry preserves
for the coating3/4 cup granulated sugar

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin.
  2. Put the sugar, flour and baking powder in a bowl and mix to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the sour milk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients and melted butter into the dry ingredients and fold until mixed well.
  4. Place 2 tbsp of the mixture into each muffin hole. Add 1 tsp of the jam into the center of each and then cover with the rest of the batter.
  5. Place the muffins into the oven and allow to bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tin before removing and rolling in the granulated sugar.
  7. Serve warm.
My eager helper

And, just a little glimpse of what the "idea man" was actually doing while little brother and I did the cooking...

I guess we all have our roles!