Chocolate Pixies…you can’t have just one!

We’ve had a couple of wet days in Unalaska, but that is good for the new growth that all of us are expecting.  We did scrape the old paint off the family graves on Saturday and were hoping for some good wood-drying weather so that we can apply paint to the fence boards and crosses, but that’s not happening right now.  We’ll just have to give it a few days.  In the meantime, between meetings, visiting, taking care of SP (yes, his mother is away for classes, AGAIN), cooking dinners, etc., I occasionally bake.  Or make candy.  I made chocolate pixies the other day.  I first found this recipe in a Land O’ Lakes cookbook.  I love cookbooks, and if I find one outstanding recipe in a cookbook, I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth!  These cookies are one of those cookies that are pretty simple to make.  But they are one of those cookies that are totally addictive.  You absolutely cannot eat just one. 

Chocolate Pixies

1   Half a stick of butter (1/4 cup)
4   (1-ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate
2   cups all-purpose flour
2   cups sugar
4   eggs
2   teaspoons baking powder
1/2   teaspoon salt
1/2   cup chopped pecans or walnuts
    Powdered sugar

Melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth (8 to 10 minutes).  Cool completely (30 minutes).

Combine melted chocolate mixture, 1 cup flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder and salt in large bowl.  Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.  Stir in the remaining flour and nuts.  Cover and refrigerate until the dough if firm and easy to manage.  About 1-2 hours.

Heat oven to 300°F.  Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls.  Roll in powdered sugar.  Place 2 inches apart onto greased cookie sheets.  Actually, I am all about parchment paper as it makes cleaning up much easier.  Bake each batch for 15 to 18 minutes, or until set.  

After taking a container over to mom and dad, mom told me that they ate two, and then to save themselves, they froze the rest!

The most simple blueberry recipe.

Ever feel like having something homemade, but are too tired to bake?  Well, this recipe is one of the easiest, fastest recipes I  have ever used.  It actually comes from my husband, who gets a wild hair occasionally, and decides he needs to bake something.  He always seems to be on the lookout for something unusual, but in this case, he found down-to-earth basic.  He got the recipe from a blogger named Jennifer Cisney, who got it from her mom, who got it from her mom.  It is actually called a pudding – I think because it is suggested that it is good warm, with milk poured over it, but it is definitely a coffee-type cake.   

Blueberry Pudding??

The original recipe gives no directions, so I have changed it a bit – not the amounts, or ingredients, but the order of ingredients, with some added directions.

Butter the size of an egg

1 Cup sugar

1 Egg

1/2 Cup milk

1 and 3/4 Cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 Pint Unalaska blueberries (of course, you can use any kind of blueberries)

Cream butter and sugar.  (I do this by hand – it only takes a couple of seconds.)  Add egg and incorporate well.  Add milk in about 4 increments.  In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder.  Add to wet ingredients and mix until all dry ingredients are incorporated.  Fold in blueberries.  Pour into 8×8 pan (spray with non-stick spray, or butter and flour your pan) and bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees F.  If you are using frozen blueberries, an additional 10 minutes should be added to the cook time.  (That is, if the blueberries are still frozen when you throw them in the batter!)  Test the center of the cake to see if it is done.

You can eat this right when it comes out of the oven, steaming.  Just be careful not to burn your tongue on the smoking blueberries.  It is great with coffee in the morning.  If you like a sweeter cake, you can add a struesel topping or simply sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar.  I like it just as it is – the perfect amount of sweet for our tart Unalaska blueberries.  Yummy!

Yes, Virginia, there are things to do in Unalaska!

I find that I never have enough time to do everything I want to do in a day, so when people comment that there is nothing to do in Unalaska, it makes me feel like bonking them on the head. For those of you who do not live in Unalaska, saying there is nothing to do in Unalaska is the number one pet peeve of people who live here and love it.  I have been contemplating a blog for a long time, and when my daughter Alena started her blog (http://therealunalaska.blogspot.com/) I thought, okay, maybe I have time for it, and if nothing else, it will drive my husband crazy with just one more thing added to my plate. So this blog will be a little bit of everything. Those of you just sitting around on the internet, get out there and do something! And for heaven’s sake, don’t wait around for the weather to change. For those of us who live in extreme conditions like the Aleutians, an area where the environment is one of the most dynamic and exhilarating on earth,  would never get anything done if we did that!  Ya gotta learn to love it.
My little house is a mess – having just completed two sets of holidays – the
 

Originally from Kashega village, Starosta Nick Lekanoff, Sr. is the keeper of this beautiful star.
Originally from Kashega village, Starosta Nick Lekanoff, Sr. is the keeper of this beautiful star.

regular Christmas and New Year and our holidays that we celebrate in the Russian Orthodox faith. My voice is still sounding kinda like a frog after three nights of starring. Starring is an old tradition in the Russian Orthodox Church. Starting on January 7, which is Christmas on the Julian calendar, parishioners, with homemade stars, go from house to house singing a prescribed group of carols. The songs that you hear are predominantly sung in Slavonic and Unangam tunuu, the liturgical language of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Aleut language, respectively. The carolers are reenacting the journey made by the three wise men, who, according to the Bible, followed the star of the east to Jesus when he was born. FYI, for next year, we welcome all to come.

I am a little peeved at myself for not outlining all the home improvement projects that I wanted to get done this winter, and now Unalaska Building Supply is shut down so I can’t even buy a gallon of paint. Caleb and I moved to a very small house this summer and painting the dark woodwork around the windows and ceiling edge would go a long way in making it look larger. As it is, we are totally in each other’s way all the time. So we have to do things to not drive each other crazy. While he was at work the other day, and before I went to work, I baked a batch of poppyseed bread. (Kristine – this is what I was going to bring to StoryCorps on Saturday, but it wasn’t done.) It is a recipe that I have used for years. I can’t even remember where I got it, and have made the bread so many times over the years that I don’t even need a recipe anymore. I am sure that it must have come from the can of poppyseed filling, or my 30 year old copy of Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  So several months ago, I wrote it down for my friend Zoya, and I guess this is a good place to post it so that my girls can have a copy. Maybe this will be Unalaska’s first food blog!   

Poppy Seed Bread
Makes 2 loaves

3 ¼ Cups flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
½ Teaspoon salt
2 ½ Teaspoons active dry yeast
½ Cup sour cream
¼ Cup water
½ Cup butter
2 eggs
1 can poppy seed filling or recipe below
Confectioner’s sugar (optional)
Combine 1 Cup flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl and stir until blended. Place sour cream, water and butter in small saucepan. Cook over low heat until very warm (0ver 115 degrees, but no hotter than 130). Add to dry ingredients gradually and beat with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Then mix at medium for 2 minutes. Beat in eggs and ½ cup flour. Beat another 2 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic – about 7 minutes. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.
Grease large baking sheet or cover with parchment paper.
Punch down dough and divide in half. Rollout 1 piece of dough onto lightly floured surface to 12 x 14 inch rectangle. Spread ½ of poppy seed filling over dough to within ½ inch of edges all the way around. Roll up dough starting from long side. Pinch seam to seal along the length and both ends. Place filled roll, seam side down on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover and set aside in warm area to rise until almost doubled in bulk, approx. 45 minutes. (If your room is drafty, your loaves may rise unevenly.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Dust top with confectioner’s sugar before serving, if desired.
Filling if not using canned filling:
1 Cup poppy seed, ground
1 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons shortening
¾ Cup milk
Cook up the filling ingredients about 7 minutes or until well dissolved.
 

I didn't quite get this one rolled tight enough.
I didn't quite get this one rolled tight enough.

 Remember:  Kids Night Out, Wednesday, 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm, United Methodist Church.

Call Channel 8 at 581-1888 to volunteer for thier annual fund raising auction.

Friday, January 23, 2009, Father Michael Oleksa will be the keynote speaker at a community celebration commemorating Martin Luther King.  Friday’s event is called Celebrating the Dream and will be held at the community center at 7:00 PM.  Come celebrate Unalaska’s great diversity!

On Saturday evening, the Aleutian Arts Council is holding its Annual Meeting.  The event will be held at the Grand Aleutian Hotel.  Food and live music will give you something to do. 

Volunteer for one of the many non-profits in town!