Baking again.

In my old place, I didn't do a lot of baking. To be honest, my kitchen was depressing. I tried keeping it clean as best I could with a houseful of 6 people and no dishwasher, but the only window in the kitchen was a tiny thing over the sink with a shade tree looming over it. There was no counter space left after having the microwave and coffee pot out, so all prep work was done at the kitchen table, which is OK, but wasn't always ideal.

My new kitchen is much brighter and completely open to the living room/dining room. Since we decided to create a dining area out of part of the huge living room rather than blocking traffic flow through the kitchen, it's not there for me to use as a counter top. I kind of see this as a blessing. It allows me to treat it as more of a real dining table and keep a tablecloth on it and we can have the table set for dinner without the prep work getting in the way. It's great for homework too.

The above photo is blurry I'm afraid, and it's actually a bit different now. We have turned the table sideways so it runs parallel with the kitchen counter. Now that the counter is more accessible from the dining area and living room, I set up a beverage center on the counter to the left of the sink. As you can see, by not putting the huge kitchen table in the eat-in-kitchen area, it freed up room there to put the antique buffet that was handed down in my husband's family. I have my collection of colorful glassware and serving dishes displayed on the buffet.

But the point of this blog was my baking. Now, I don't have any photos of my actually making anything, though I hope to start doing that in the future. Since moving, I have started baking a lot more than I did before. I've started small. I still have no real counter space. I'm planning to get a kitchen island to give myself a lot more room to roll out dough for cookies and biscuits etc. So, far, I have made cornbread from a recipe I found in the cookbook my mother got on her wedding day. It turned out perfectly and I'll even eat it. You see, I grew up with my Mom's white cornbread, and I am ashamed to say I didn't like it at all. Oh I'd crumble it in my soup beans, but I didn't like it on it's own. I also never got into the tradition of putting cornbread in a glass and filling it with milk and eating it with a spoon. My Mom and Dad both did this and then later, my stepfather as well. I almost feel less Southern for not doing these things. But I digress, the point is, I have made cornbread from a recipe in an antique cookbook, and I like it! I've baked it twice now, once to go with my chili and once to go with a big pot of soupbeans. It makes me happy.

I have also made an apple kuchen from a recipe given me by a friend in PA. I love that you pour a whole pint of heavy cream over the top and then bake a second time. It's truly decadent. My oldest daughter doesn't like it. I'm afraid her palate is worse than mine was. Mine has grown as I have matured, and I hope hers will too. I have also made my home made brownies and Pig Eaten Cake (AKA Better Than Sex Cake), both of which I will make separate posts for some day complete with recipe and photos. I've recently changed to Hershey's Special Dark cocoa that's a blend of Dutch cocoa, and it makes the batter almost blue, it's so dark. The brownies come out almost black and very rich.

I can't wait to go looking for a new kitchen island. I've got a picture of it in my mind actually. I don't need anything fancy. I'm thinking a bartop height table in a dark color wood to match the other wood furniture, and maybe even a couple of stools that could fit underneath it, so my 6 yr old can climb up and help me bake stuff. It could also serve as a breakfast table. This one on the right is exactly what I have in mind, but I wish it were a walnut stain instead of oak. Our kitchen cabinets are an oak finish, and I hate it. I prefer darker woods like walnut and mahogany.

So when I get my island, I have promised myself I am going to really get into baking more. One thing I really want to try and get good at is Grandmother Bread from Chickens in the Road Blog. It's a great recipe and I did try it once, but it wasn't "perfect". I'm anxious to try again. But the other great thing about the recipe is that it is the base for so many of Suzanne's recipes on her blog, from dinner rolls to cinnamon rolls and many other yummy treats.

So, I hope you'll check back and see my posts for my own recipes as well as my attempts at making things from several of the blogs I read. I think it'll be fun!