Miss Ginsu: About/Bio

 

Day 1: Welcome Cocoa

This post marks Day 1 of Miss Ginsu's 2008 Advent Calendar. To find other days and other projects, use the calendar page to navigate.

One of the things I enjoy most about winter is that feeling of warmth and comfort that comes after being outdoors in the dank chill.

There's nothing like skating, or sledding or shoveling the walk (or simply bearing up to the driving the winter wind), and then finding yourself indoors — safe and cozy.

It's the "fresh, dry socks and a cup of hot cocoa" feeling.

Hot Chocolate

Maybe you can't always offer up a pair of dry socks to wayward travelers, but it's nice to be able to welcome winter visitors (or maybe just yourself) with a quick cup of homemade cocoa.

Make some of your own mix now, and you'll be ready for those moments of cocoa comfort.

The mix makes a nice gift as well. Just put it in a jar and add a ribbon with a cute tag with the basic how-to.
Hot Cocoa Mix (Makes 8 servings)
3/4 cup good quality cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

1. In a mixing bowl, blend cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt.
2. Store mixture in a lidded jar or another airtight container.

To prepare the hot cocoa:

1. Whisk together 2 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa mix (for each serving) with 1/4 cup hot water (for each serving) until smooth and blended.
2. Blend in 3/4 cup whole milk (for each serving) heat the cocoa until it steams.
3. Serve hot one-cup portions in mugs.

For an extra-nice cuppa, I like to add in a 1/4 tsp (for each serving) of vanilla extract and maybe a dollop of cream, whipped cream or marshmallows, but all that's just lovely excess...

This mix is also delightful served with a cinnamon stick, a peppermint stick or a shot of peppermint schnapps, as you like it.

Holiday Cheer!
Miss Ginsu

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12.01.2008

Shrove Thursday

In honor of miserably cold weather, the glories of a homespun breakfast and the last few days of Pancake Month, I got up a little early to make pancakes for myself today. Blueberry-Banana Wholegrain Pancakes, to be precise.

"Miss G," I thought, "You've had a tough week at work, and you need comfort food that makes your Thursday just a little more awesome." It's a simple demonstration of good self-care.

Donuts can be tasty, but they tend to make me crash out with sugar shakes... and that's not exactly setting myself up for success. The hot bowl of steel-cut oatmeal or my very own homemade granola are delicious — and very satisfying — ways to wake up, but that's what I eat pretty much every day.



A small stack of pancakes, on the other hand... now that sounded pretty great. Regardless of what happened for the rest of Thursday, I could rely on the gift of pancakes to make the day a little more special.

I find that aside from the feelings of warm bliss they produce, pancakes are a nice treat because most of the measuring can be done in advance. Like many people I know, I operate on about a quarter of my normal brain as I bump around the kitchen in the morning.

Easy DIY Pancake Mix

8 cups flour of your choice
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Sift the ingredients together. Store in an airtight container for up to three months, or keep it the mix in the freezer for even longer.

To make a batter, measure out 1 cup mix and blend with 1 egg, 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute 3/4 cup plain yogurt and 1/4 cup water or milk) and 3 Tbsp melted butter.

Thin it out with a little more milk or some water if it seems too thick.

You can use all-purpose flour or a mix of flours. J really enjoys a flavorful buckwheat pancake, so a half-and-half mix of whole-grain flour and buckwheat flour works well for those.

To make a whole-grain mix, try whole-grain pastry flour, which has a finer texture. Oat flour blends are nice, too. Feel free to add in some wheat germ if you're a fan.
Blueberry-Banana Pancakes (with Cinnamon!)

1 cup buttermilk (or substitute 3/4 cup plain yogurt + 1/4 cup milk or water)
1 egg
1 cup Easy Pancake Mix
3 Tbsp butter, melted

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ripe banana, well-mashed
1/2 cup blueberries

Additional butter, for cooking

1. Heat the oven to 250°F and place a cookie sheet on the top rack.

2. Whisk together the yogurt/buttermilk, milk and egg until smooth.

3. Blend in the pancake mix until the lumps are worked out. Add a little more milk or water if it seems too thick.

4. Stir in the melted butter, cinnamon and mashed banana and blueberries.

5. Heat skillet or griddle over medium heat.

6. Melt a teaspoon of butter on the pan, creating an oiled surface.

7. Using a 1/4 cup to measure the batter, pour disks onto the hot griddle. When bubbles begin to form in the center of the cooking pancake, carefully flip it and cook other side.

Keep finished pancakes warm in the oven until you're ready to serve 'em.


Got extras? Don't pitch 'em! Wrap well and freeze. You can revive pancakes in a warm oven or toaster oven some desperate morning in the future. (I'd avoid using the microwave, however... it makes breads so rubbery.)

Wishing happy breakfasts to all!

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2.28.2008