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October 2014

Cook with the Best in the Northwest

The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen,
by Teri Edwards and Serena Thompson

Reviewed by Mary Rose

Cook with the Best in the Northwest archive

 

The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen is a kind of all-purpose kitchen book, which includes tasty, easy-to-make recipes, along with instructions for making things like covers for your collection of old cookbooks and interesting suggestions, such as using a metal toy refrigerator to store spice jars. You see, the Farm Chicks, Teri Edwards and Serena Thompson, are best known for their annual Farm Chicks Antiques Show at the Spokane County Fairgrounds, Wash., and they know all about collecting and repurposing old stuff.

 


The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen, by Teri Edwards and Serena Thompson

 

Teri is in fact now retired, but Serena carries on the tradition. You can enjoy The Farm Chicks website, where Serena writes a blog, shares recipes, and provides updates on the June antiques show.

I received this book as a birthday present in 2010, a year after the book was published, and since then I have enjoyed leafing through the pages, admiring the colorful photos, considering trying some of the craft projects (unfortunately I'm not crafty, so I just look), and reading the stories of how Teri and Serena came to love cooking and collecting antiques. Teri grew up in a large family in the Yakima Valley of Washington State, while Serena was raised in California by hippie parents, who eschewed electricity for part of her childhood. It was, Serena writes, a blissful and adventure-filled way to grow up.

The recipes in The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen cookbook are well tested and seem to turn out right each time. But of course this assumes you are able to follow directions.

Case in point, I always have trouble frying things, so my Sour Cream and Onion Zucchini Cakes weren't picture perfect, but they were delicious and helped with using up the 6-pound zucchini someone left anonymously on my doorstep in August.

I was entirely successful with the Apple Puff Pancake, which you might know as a Dutch baby or German pancake, only this version is topped with lots of juicy Washington apples. Drizzle some maple syrup on this and you have breakfast heaven. Easy to make, too!

 


Apple Puff Pancake

 

Another treat that turned out well were the Lemon Tea Cookies. These are shortbread icebox cookies topped with fluffy frosting. Who can resist? I like icebox cookies because once you get them in the refrigerator or freezer, they stay ready to slice whenever you're ready for them—bake them all at once, or slice off only one or two at a time.

 


Lemon Tea Cookies

 

There are more than baked goods in this book, however. Try Brown Sugar Bacon Bites, 'Mater Sandwiches, Enchilada Soup, and Asian Quinoa Salad. Not to mention Sweet Onion Tartlets, salty-sweet bite-size appetizers that you'll find difficult to resist.

 


Sweet Onion Tartlets

 

There's one recipe I have made time and time again: Cinnamon Rolls. I've baked all sorts of cinnamon rolls in my lifetime; I'm always willing to try a new recipe. I do love cinnamon rolls! But in my opinion, the Farm Chicks seem to have perfected the recipe. These always turn out exactly right: lightly substantial—you don't want a doughy roll nor light-as-air tasteless fluff—and filled with the right touch of sweet cinnamon.

The rolls are meant to be topped with a cream cheese frosting, and that recipe is included, but I have never made it. I happily eat these rolls plain.

 


Farm Chicks Cinnamon Rolls

 

If you like to cook good plain food that you can serve to anyone and if you enjoy brightening up your kitchen with—or giving as gifts—items such as stenciled aprons, a message board made from an old TV tray, or embellished towels, you will find this book just right.

 

Cinnamon Rolls
Used by permission of Serena Thompson.

Makes 12 rolls.

1 cup milk
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
2 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Icing (recipe follows)

Make the dough: Heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave until it is warm, not hot (105 F to 115 F). Add it to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit until dissolved—approximately 3 minutes. Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave. Whisk the granulated sugar, eggs, and melted butter into the milk mixture. Stir in the flour and salt with a wooden spoon, mixing until the ingredients are well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean damp kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Proof the dough: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 minutes. Lightly oil another large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl; turn to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in volume—30 to 40 minutes.

Make the filling and Cream Cheese Icing: While the dough is resting, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl for the filling and set aside. Prepare the Cream Cheese Icing and set it aside.

Form the rolls: Butter a jelly-roll pan. Once the dough has risen, punch it down; then transfer it to a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 15- by 20-inch rectangle. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup butter evenly over the dough using a spatula and sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Starting at one long side, roll up the dough jelly-roll style, forming a log. Pinch the seam and ends to seal. Use a serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into 12 equal sections. Arrange the rolls about 1 inch apart, spiral side up, in the prepared pan. Cover with parchment paper and a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size—about 1 hour. After 45 minutes, heat oven to 375 F.

Bake the rolls: Once the rolls have risen, uncover them and bake until light golden brown—12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately invert onto a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn the rolls right side up. Serve with Cream Cheese Icing and serve warm.

 

Cream Cheese Icing

Beat 4 tablespoons softened butter with 2 tablespoons softened cream cheese in a medium-size bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Beat in 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.

 

Mary Rose lives high in the mountains of Montana. She enjoys traveling to farmers markets in summer and making snowballs during the long winter. She is happy to find many locally produced foods, including lentils, cheese, and stroopwafels.

 

Cook with the Best in the Northwest copyright 2014.
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