2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you for reading Kitchen Keepers!  I feel like you are right here in my kitchen with me when you comment or tell me you are want to try one of the recipes.  I promise there will be more Kitchen Keepers in 2013!


Gingerbread House, Now and Then


Gingerbread House Cake, 2012


Gingerbread House, 1973

Almost 40 years ago, in this picture our sons Benjamin, Jeremy, and Sean admire one of the first gingerbread houses I ever made.  They did help!  We didn’t know that many years later, Sean’s 10 year old daughter would be baking and I would be helping her!

Skye and I enjoyed making a wonderful gingerbread house cake this year.  A simple dusting of “snow” was all the decoration needed and this cake is definitely a joy to eat. Nordic Ware has a collection of these pans, which range from this size down so you could make a whole gingerbread village!  We used the gingerbread recipe that came on the Nordic Ware cake pan label, but any 9 cup bundt cake recipe will work.  Next time we will use a recipe that includes dark brown sugar and/or dark molasses so the cake will be a darker color.  This recipe from the February 2000 issue of Gourmet Magazine uses both, as well as dark beer.  I seldom post a recipe I haven’t tried, but maybe this is one we can try out together.  Let me know what you think.  If you don’t have the house cake pan, use a traditional bundt pan.

Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread Cake
by Claudia Fleming
Gramercy Tavern, New York, NY
1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Special equipment:
a 10-inch (10- to 12-cup) bundt pan

unsweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream.

Gingerbread is better if made a day ahead. It will keep 3 days, covered, at room temperature.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/printerfriendly/Gramercy-Tavern-Gingerbread-103087#ixzz2GGlYyRam

Meyer Lemon Muffins

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It has been hard to squeeze in baking Christmas cookies when I have this huge basket of Meyer lemons in my kitchen.  I have frozen some of the lemons whole, to be used later for zesting and juicing, also some of the juice.  I made Lemon Curd which I hope my neighbors are going to enjoy for their Christmas treat. (I have previously posted this recipe here.)  I used leftover paper cupcake liners to dress up the lids.


My all-time favorite way of using these lemons has to be making muffins by this recipe, because they are so yummy, but also because it uses several whole lemons, not just zest or a few spoons of juice.  Yes, you use the whole lemons, unpeeled!  I first found this recipe in the Houston Chronicle years ago.  I believe it was originally printed in the LA times.  It makes two dozen regular sized muffins, a great accompaniment to a soup or salad meal, good for breakfast, and a very tempting snack.  They are not too sweet, have only about 150 calories each, and pop with lemon flavor.

Meyer Lemon Muffins 

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar, and
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (to mix with cinnamon)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 or 4 Meyer lemons, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon ( regular cinnamon is fine)  Ceylon cinnamon can be found at Penzey’s Spice stores.

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F Combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, the baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cut two lemons into 1-inch pieces (include the thin peel, but not the white pith!). Put them in a blender and pulse until the lemon is finely chopped. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the milk, butter and chopped lemon. Stir.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the lemon mixture. Stir just until all ingredients are moistened.
  4. Spoon the batter into well-buttered cups of muffin pans, filling each half full.
  5. Combine the remaining 2 T. sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle about 1/4 t. over each muffin. I like to keep a shaker jar of cinnamon sugar in my pantry.   Cut the remaining lemons into  paper-thin slices; cut each slice in half. Top each muffin with half a slice of lemon.
  6. Bake about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Run a small spatula or knife around each of the muffins to loosen, remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm. Makes 18 muffins.


Christmas Making and Baking


Many of the things I am making and baking in my kitchen just a little over a week before Christmas will include Meyer lemons.  Our little tree’s branches,  bent over to the ground with fruit, seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as we harvested lemon after lemon, a few at a time for weeks, until freezing temperatures last week led us to finish the job.  The basket here is what remains after we have given away several bags, so I have pulled out my list of 101 things to do with a Meyer lemon list and  we are happily enjoying these golden, juicy jewels before we freeze the rest of them whole.

I have posted previous recipes using the Meyers, but this morning I made an untried one:  Meyer Lemon and Cranberry Scones.  I cut the scones with my grandmother’s old tin biscuit cutter, which made the whole process feel like I was including her in our Christmas baking.  The recipe will surely make the keepers file, so this is what I share today.  More to come, most certainly!


   Meyer Lemon and Cranberry Scones                            Yield: Makes 16

2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (from about 3 lemons; preferably Meyer)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons additional if using fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries or dried cherries
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup half and half

Preheat oven to 400°F. and line a large baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

Remove the zest from lemons.  Reserve lemons for another use.

In a food processor pulse flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal and transfer to a large bowl. If no food processor is available, simply cut in the butter and dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or by passing two knives across each other until the mixture is the right appearance.  Add the dried cranberries.

In another small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

On a well-floured surface with floured hands pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter) and with a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a glass dipped in flour cut out  rounds, bunching scraps as necessary. Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until  golden. Scones keep 1 day or frozen 1 week.

When I began my first blog, Mappings for this Morning, I wrote about many of the recipes that have been part of our Christmas kitchen.  I include a link to that post.  Is there a recipe there you would like to see on Kitchen Keepers?  Let me know in a comment!


Italian Soup with Sprouted Beans


Our family loves bean soups – black beans, lentils, red beans, white beans with ham.  A product available in health food stores and Costco combines 3 different beans:  green lentils, mung beans, and adzuki beans.  These have been sprouted and then dehydrated, making them even more nutritious and easy to prepare.  The cooking time is significantly reduced.  This recipe combines them with fresh vegetables and herbs for Italian style soup, hearty and delicious. Add some crusty Foccacia bread made with herbs and olives.  This is a tasty and healthy supper to add to holiday times around the table that feature richer foods.

Italian Soup with Sprouted Beans

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, chopped

2 stalks celery, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 small ancho peppers, diced (optional)

One 14-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes

3 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded

1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 cup TruRoots Sprouted Bean Trio

¼ cup minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, and peppers, and saute. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook, stirring as you add chicken or vegetable broth, basil, oregano, and bay leaves, bringing to a boil. Add sprouted beans. Reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste before serving.
Makes 8 servings