Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Delicious Weekend

Last weekend in response to Chris’s usual question “What do you want to do this weekend?”  I replied, “Let’s make Spiced Sugar Pumpkin Donuts, (a recipe from ‘The Red Spoon’, a cooking blog that I follow), as in, let’s make them together.”  Bless my sweet husband that he was up for the challenge!  I don’t think we have cooked together before, as Chris’s experience lies in areas other than kitchen arts (although he is an excellent dish washer!), but he caught on quickly.  We mixed up the dough, he combining the dry ingredients, I, the wet ingredients, and then we stuck the dough in the refrigerator, intending to fry the donuts up after the recommended amount of refrigeration time.  After 3 hours had gone by we decided we were feeling a little too lazy, so we waited until the next day to finish the process.

When we went to roll out the dough, it was tasty, but super sticky, like, impossible to work with sticky.  I don’t know if that was due to the humidity or the recipe, or both.  Anyway, I probably worked in another cup of flour before the dough was useable.  When I finally rolled the dough out I came to the realization that we don’t have a donut cutter.  I improvised by making the big circles using the rim of a glass…

 But it was Chris who was ingenious enough to figure out a cutter for the donut holes…

 He was quick to point out this was a clear benefit of his soda addiction, and I didn’t argue!

Chris had his first experience (in his memory, anyway) of rolling out dough and cutting it.  He did so well that maybe I will put him in charge of making Christmas cookies this year!

The donuts and donut holes were soon ready to fry…

We started heating the lard.  Yes, you read right, lard.  I have never fried anything in lard before, but the recipe indicated that lard was easier to work with than oil, and it’s a whole lot cheaper than canola oil, and well, we will probably only make donuts once a year at the most, so I think (hope) our arteries can take it!

Chris manned the frying pan while I eased the dough in the bubbling fat.  Okay, eventually I eased the dough in after the first few splashes that sent both Chris and I jumping to dodge the splatters of hot grease.  I told you I was new to frying things!

Look at this guy!  It does my heart good to see a man in an apron…especially one with flowers!

After the donuts came out of the frying pan and drained on a double layer of paper towel I dipped them in a mixture of sugar and spices.

Here’s the finished product, and let me say, they were sooo yummy, lard and all! 

 The happy cooks after a successful endeavor in the kitchen…

We enjoyed donuts and apple juice and shared some of the yumminess with our friends.

Just a little peak into our weekend-hope your upcoming weekend is fun and relaxing!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My First Post on the MAF Blog

Hi Everyone-

Just thought I would post a link to my first post on the MAF blog.  The theme of the MAF blog for this quarter is "Grace & Gratitude", so I thought a condensed version of my "One Year Ago" post was appropriate.  Feel free to check it out at:

More later!

Monday, October 3, 2011


So it’s fall now, (um, yeah, not really here, but I like to pretend), and that means it’s time to cook with pumpkin…well at least it does for me.  Surprisingly, we can actually get pumpkins here, which is great!  Notice I said pumpkins though, not cans of pumpkin puree, which is what I have always used in the States when making pumpkin treats.  Here in Tarakan I have learned the joys, (hmmm, joy is a strong word), of making pumpkin puree from an actual pumpkin, and since this is something that I do on a fairly regular basis, I decided to document it because it is just a small answer to the ever-present question of ‘So, Sarah, what do you do in Indonesia?’…

Here’s the pumpkin – Chris was actually given this pumpkin in one of the villages he flew into.  I think it is kind of fun because it’s whitish.  The pumpkins we typically get from the market here are sort of a dusty orange.

First I cut the pumpkin in half, which is always the scariest part for me.  The pumpkin skin and flesh are so tough I’m constantly afraid I’ll cut myself while wrestling with the pumpkin.    

Then I scoop out the seeds and all the stringy stuff-this part is reminiscent of pumpkin carving at Halloween!  I haven’t dried and cooked up the seeds from the pumpkins here yet; maybe I will try that soon.  I love roasted pumpkin seeds-yum!  Sometimes at this point I cut some of the raw pumpkin and put it in the fridge to use for stew, risotto, or even to sauté as a side dish.

I put the pumpkin halves face down in a couple of oven-proof pans and add a little water to the bottom of each pan to help the pumpkin steam as well as roast.

Then I pop the pans into the preheated oven at 300 degrees and let them roast for about one hour.  The pumpkin halves are done when a knife goes easily through them, or in the case of this pumpkin, the skin splits and it starts falling apart in the pan.

Next step, I let the pumpkin cool until it can be handled without burning myself, no, that’s actually a lie.  That’s what should be done, but I am notoriously impatient in matters of cooking, and so I regularly burn myself during this step, and indeed in many other kitchen tasks.  Honestly, My arms and hands are a veritable storybook of cooking mishaps-I really must change my ways one of these days.  Anyway, when the pumpkin is cool (or still pretty hot), I scoop the flesh out and put it in the food processor to puree.  Hint for anyone who might try this at home, vent your food processor (my processor has a small handle on the lid that pops out to vent it), or the steam can make the lid burst off and the contents explode all over the kitchen.  I may or may not have learned this the hard way.  Just saying. 

Once the pumpkin is nicely pureed, I dump it onto a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, cover it and let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours.  I usually let the pumpkin strain overnight.  I have used it unstrained before, but it is really watery and that sometimes messes up the recipe I am trying to use the pumpkin in.

The next day I take the strainer off the bowl-look at all the liquid that drained out!

Then I put the strained pumpkin in a container and save it in the fridge or freezer for later, or I use it to make something yummy…like pumpkin scones, which I made the other day and ate with a mock pumpkin spice latte made with homemade pumpkin spice syrup.

Just another little taste (ha-ha) of one of the things that keeps me busy over here.

Happy autumn!