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Do you ever have company staying with you – and you know you aren’t going to get much sleep? And you know that you’re going to want to have a great breakfast in the morning, but you won’t want to get up early or have to think too hard to put it together? I have found a recipe that delights guests and requires no thinking or effort the morning of. I’m calling it Berry Creamy French Toast. It was inspired by a Victoria, BC cookbook called “Fabulous Fairholme Breakfasts & Brunches” by Sylvia Main.

My husband Dave and I have been spending most of our time on Salt Spring Island filling up one of Mom and Dad’s B&B rooms – and we had a couple of friends over for the weekend! We wanted to treat them to a B&B special breakfast but the morning was going to be a bit hectic and likely, sleep deprived. So, Friday night, while I was waiting for them to arrive, I threw this together. It took me about 15 minutes … and I think that it was a big hit! We’ve got the empty dishes to prove it.

Berry Creamy French Toast served with Fruit Compote and Turkey Sausage

Berry Creamy French Toast served with Fruit Compote and Turkey Sausage

**Please note – this recipe needs to be prepared the night before**

What You Need:berry-french-toast-breakfast-ingredients

  • Half a loaf of Italian Bread cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups of mixed frozen raspberries, blackberries and blueberries (run them under warm water to remove any ice from them and then drain them so they are as dry as possible)
  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese cut into cubes
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup
  • Berry Compote (see recipe below)

What You Do:

  1. Grease 6 inch ramekins (or large muffin tins).
  2. Line the bottom of each with cubes of bread.

    Line the bottom with bread cubes

    Line the bottom with bread cubes

  3. Spread a layer of fruit on top of the bread.
  4. Cover the fruit with cubes of cream cheese.

    Add layers of cream cheese and fruit

    Add layers of cream cheese and fruit

  5. Cover the cream cheese with another layer of bread.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and syrup.
  7. Pour the mixture over the bread in each dish.

    Pouring the egg mixture over the layers in the dish

    Pouring the egg mixture over the layers in the dish

  8. Place in fridge overnight and uncovered.
  9. IN THE MORNING: Bake at 350oF for 50 – 60 minutes, or until they become puffy and golden.
  10. Remove from the oven, and serve with berry compote on the side. We also served it with a turkey sausage.

BERRY COMPOTE:

In a large saucepan bring 2 cups of frozen berries, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of lime juice and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup to a boil. Turn the heat down and then stir every 30 seconds or so until the sauce starts to thicken.

Breakfast was a success - the proof is in the empty dishes!

Breakfast was a success - the proof is in the empty dishes!

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Cranberry Walnut Sticky Buns

Preparation Time: 40 minutes
+ 1 hour of standing time
Baking Time: 35  minutes
Servings: 36 buns

What you need:

DOUGH

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2/3 Cup warm water (hot to the touch)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 5-6 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm milk (hot to the touch)
  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 Cup softened butter
  • 2 eggs

GOOEY GOODNESS

  • 1 Cup softened butter
  • 4 Cups brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 Cup dried cranberries
  • 1 Cup chopped walnuts

Extra cinnamon and sugar as desired

What you do:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve 2 teaspoons of sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle yeast into water mixture. Do not stir.
  2. Set aside for 10 minutes, and then stir well.
  3. Add warm milk, sugar, salt, butter and eggs to yeast/water mixture.
  4. Add 3 cups of flour. Using an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, beat      vigorously until dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Gradually add the remaining flour until dough is soft.
  6. Roll dough into a ball and place on a floured surface.

    Giant Ball of Sticky Bun Dough Ready to be Rolled

    Giant Ball of Sticky Bun Dough

  7. Knead for 5-10 minutes, adding small amounts of flour if necessary until dough is no longer sticky.
  8. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and then a towel. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  9. Punch down and roll out dough into long rectangle.
  10. Grease pan or pans (4 8×8″ pans would work well if you wish to freeze some).
  11. Brush the flattened dough with softened butter.
  12. In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of brown sugar with the cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over each dough shape, then sprinkle cranberries and chopped walnuts top.cran-walnut-sticky-buns
  13. Roll up into long tube shape and seal edge of roll by pinching dough together with fingers.
  14. Using a sharp knife, slice each dough shape into 1 1/2 to 2 inch slices.Place about 3 rows of 3 in the bottom of each pan. You may fill 3 or 4 pans depending on how thick the slices are.
  15. Cover pan with a dry, clean cloth and let rise at room temperature until double the size. (Usually 1 hour).

    Cranberry Walnut Sticky Buns Ready for the Oven

    Cranberry Walnut Sticky Buns Ready for the Oven

  16. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place buns in preheated oven and bake for 30-35  minutes.
  17. Cool in the pan for 15 – 20 minutes before icing them or just serve warm with butter!

Cream cheese topping optional

  • One 8oz  package of cream cheese softened
  • 4 cups of icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Teaspoon of milk
  1. In a small bowl blend cheese and lemon juice until smooth.
  2. Slowly add icing sugar to the cream cheese mixture. Add a few drops of milk and continue to blend until desired spreadable consistency is reached.
  3. Spread cheese mixture on warm buns, remove from the pan and serve.
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Tomato Juice Does NOT work to remove skunk spray from pet fur

Tomato Juice Does NOT work to remove skunk spray from pet fur

This week we’re going to do something a little different – we’re going to feature a few cool kitchen tips and ASK YOU FOR YOURS (because we KNOW you’ve got some good ones!). And, we’ve got a little walk down memory lane courtesy of my Grandma Muriel. She wrote me to tell me about her memories of her Grandmother making bread.

We’ll feature our favourite kitchen tips next week in our Breakfast with the Broads newsletter.

  • Skunk Spray Removal: Tomato juice does NOT work. I don’t know who started that false rumour but all it does is make your dog smell like stinky tomatoes. The only thing that removes the greasy and awful spray from pet fur is this concoction: One Cup White Vinegar, 1/2 Cup Baking Soda, 2 Tablespoons Dish Soap or Pet Shampoo, and 1 litre of water. Don’t mix together until you’re ready to use it – it bubbles and expands rapidly once mixed together!
  • Fire Extinguisher: <Source Ultimate Money Blog>Baking soda can be thrown on stove fires to extinguish the flames. The carbon dioxide generated when the powder burns starves the fire of oxygen.
  • Corn Sweetner: <Source: http://www.bearhaus.com/kithints.html> When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corns natural sweetness.
  • Shell Pecans Easier: <Source: http://www.bearhaus.com/kithints.html> Pecans are easy to shell if they are first soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes or so. Or microwave 2 cups of pecans or Brazil nuts in 1 cup of water for 5 to 6 minutes on HIGH.
  • Best Burn Relief: Have pure lavender oil on hand to drop on any burn. The worst oven burns will be healed within days! Plus, it provides a cooling feeling.
  • Kneading Bread: See story below.

Cooking Bread the Old Fashioned Way on the Farms of Saskatchewan

– Written by Muriel Avery (my Grandmother about her Grandmother)

Grandma says the bread needs to squeak

Grandma says the bread needs to squeak

Grandmother went through quite a routine when she was making bread, especially during the cold winter months, -40 degrees celcius or worse. Her house was heated by wood stoves in each of the three rooms on the ground floor, because there was no cement basement, just a cellar under the kitchen part of the house and therefore, no furnace.

They didn’t build cement basements out on the farms when that house was built in the 1890’s. The kitchen was quite a good size with a fairly large oven, cupboards and the kitchen table.

The pan she used was shaped just for making bread. It was shiny tin, a fairly large, round pan rather shallow for its diameter, so that you could do all the preparation in the one pan. The flour she would have used in 1930 was very white and consisted of the starchy part of the grain only (the endosperm), to produce a very white slice of bread when it was cut. The yeast was, as I remember, a dried cake about an inch square and about one quarter of and inch thick. Before you could begin the bread making process, you had to soak the yeast to soften it. When that was done you could proceed.

In that pan she would have mixed in warm water (or potato water), sugar, salt the softened yeast. The flour was added by handfuls, probably right out of the flour sack, until the mixture was of the desired consistency. The dough was formed into a ball, kneaded a few times, patted into a round ball, then coated with a thin layer of butter to keep it from drying out while it was rising, and the lid put on the pan.

Next came the wrapping process. The first wrapping was one or two blankets or more depending on the outside temperature, which determined the temperature of the house. The final wrap was a red and white cow hide, tanned and wool lined. Then it was set on the kitchen table to keep warm for the night.

The stove would have been stoked with wood for the night and then again by my Grandfather who was always up at 5.30 AM. The next morning the dough was kneaded until it ‘squeaked’.

It was formed into loaves and put, one or two at a time, into a baking pan. These may have been set for a short time on top of the warming oven, which, in the old stoves, was well above the cooking surface of the stove, then later set on the table to finish rising. They were then baked (which killed off the yeast) and were ready to be eaten. Yeast has to be kept warm because it is a living organism and will die if it is frozen or if cold will not grow to raise the dough.

Depending on the time of year, the making of bread could be an almost daily part of keeping house

Have you got a story or a great tip – please share it with us in the comments!

Just a few pictures from last week…

View from Anne's Oceanfront Hideaway on a Rainy Day

View from Anne's Oceanfront Hideaway on a Rainy Day

Even on a rainy day – the view from Anne’s Oceanfront Hideaway is very beautiful!

Lambs are everywhere on Salt Spring Island right now

Lambs are everywhere on Salt Spring Island right now

Running back to the barn for breakfast ... or maybe they were just running away from the dogs!

Running back to the barn for breakfast ... or maybe they were just running away from the dogs!

Bram and Chewy are curious about the lambs

Bram and Chewy are curious about the lambs

And the day ended with a beautiful sunset.

And the day ended with a beautiful sunset - this is a view from the Gary Oak Room at Anne's Oceanfront Hideaway

And the day ended with a beautiful sunset - this is a view from the Gary Oak Room at Anne's Oceanfront Hideaway

Sugar Free Orange Walnut Muffins

Sugar Free Orange Walnut Muffins

ingredients for sugar free muffinsWhat you need:

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375oF.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and walnuts together.
  3. Sugar Free Muffin BatterIn a smaller bowl mix together the eggs, orange juice, and oil.
  4. Add the liquid to the dry mixture and stir about 20 to 30 times with a wooden spoon. Basically you just want all of the dry mixture to be moist.
  5. Add in blueberries and stir a couple of times.
  6. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins. Fill about 3/4 of the cup with batter. I used 24 mini muffin tins (it will also make 12 medium-large sized muffins).
  7. Bake in the over for about 15 minutes (or 20 – 22 minutes for 12 large muffins).
  8. The tops of the muffins will be spring back when touched if they are done.
  9. Flip onto a cooling rack and cool for a minute or two before serving.
Bram was standing by in case his services were needed

Bram was standing by in case his services were needed

Good thing Bram was there because he was definitely needed - when I took the muffins out of the oven I lost my grip and they tumbled to the floor

Good thing Bram was there because he was definitely needed - when I took the muffins out of the oven I lost my grip and they tumbled to the floor

The ones that didn't hit the floor...

The ones that didn't hit the floor...

Overall – these muffins didn’t go that well. They had good texture and tasted o.k., but they were bland. My Mom suggested that I adjust the recipe to use apple juice instead of orange juice to make it a bit sweeter but then I will have to rename them!! 🙂

What do you think would make these muffins a bit tastier without adding sugar or Splenda? I would love to know!! Just be careful not to drop them on the floor like I did!!

Every afternoon we set out coffee and tea with cookies or squares for our guests to enjoy. Most guests take their treats onto the deck and watch the sun set over the ocean, or they sneak a plate of treats up to their room to enjoy in private.

When we have celiacs stay with us, the afternoon treats can be challenging. There really aren’t many baked goods that people who can’t eat wheat can enjoy – that still taste really good for those of us that can eat flour. But, these simple little four ingredient cookies are a delightful choice! Everyone in our house devoured the sample batch! And, I’m almost embarrassed to tell you that they are the easiest cookies I have ever made!

Give them a try, and let me know what you think!

Have a great week,
Anne

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

What you need:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup peanut butter at room temperature*
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
No Flour in these cookies

No Flour in these cookies

What you do:

1. Preheat oven to 350oF
2. In a large bowl mix all ingredients together with a spoon.
3. Drop by teaspoonful on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. (Optional) Press 3-4 chocolate chips into each cookie.
5. Bake for 11 minutes.  Leave on baking sheet to cool thoroughly.

*We used regular peanut butter and the cookies were very sweet. If you wanted to have cookies that aren’t as sweet I think that natural peanut butter would be best

CARB FREE OPTION:

One of our Breakfast with the Broads weekly recipe readers told us that he uses this exact recipe (with natural peanut butter), but substitutes one cup of Splenda in for the sugar for a diabetic friendly cookie!

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