Thursday, 27 January 2011


My daughter Amy, the blogger expert, and real foodie, was told that in order to make a blog effective, it needs to be concise.  Hmmm..looking at my previous blogs, concise is clearly not in my vocabulary!

Since I am so so busy in the kitchen this week getting ready for Sunday's market in Otley, this one will be very quick and to the point.

Basically, I have not stopped baking for a solid week and when I put this up as my status on Face Book, my friend Leslie asked me "if right about now I was half baked".  My reply, I am always half baked.  Just ask anyone who knows me, I am basically nuts, I take on way too much and make myself crazy, but I love every minute of it.

In the oven as I type, is my version of a delicious Golden Peanut Butter Bar.  A scrumptious concoction of creamy peanut butter, condensed milk and vanilla, sitting on a base of brown sugar, butter, nuts, flour and more, topped with the crumb topping along with peanut butter and dark chocolate chips.  Sounds and smells heavenly!

Also baking are Valentine's Day Mint Brownies with a pink fondant filling and pink sprinkles atop a deep dark chocolate ganache!

Yesterday, I made Chocolate Zucchini loaves which I split in half and filled with a decadent cream cheese frosting and put the same frosting on top.  A sprinkling of cocoa powder and icing sugar will go on right before I go.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie is done and looks mighty fine!  So good when it is slightly warmed with ice cream melting on the top!  What can be better on a cold winter day?!

My Heaven Sent Ultimate Chocolate Brownies are now cooling and I can only describe them as pure chocolate indulgence!  Over two pounds of chocolate goes into these bars of pure delight!  My customers go crazy for them!

Soon, the Cheesecake will be made, the Heart Shortbread cookies and possibly some more Rocky Road bars.  I had an order for a Carrot Cake and that is now completed and boxed.

So for now folks I will love you and leave you and get back to my very overworked ovens.  It's time to crack on and fully bake my yummies!

As always, many thanks for reading.

I remain your half baked blogger!

Lisa AKA The Yummy Yank

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Healthy Eating

I have to say it has been nice having a weekend off from the markets, there has been no need to be in the kitchen 24/7 and I can have some gallery time and some me time!  Plus I have had the extra luxury of a couple of extra hours of much needed sleep.  Heaven!
With the extra rest under my belt, I also had the opportunity to clear my head and start eating healthy again.  That was my goal for Monday and that is exactly what I did!  The health regime is on again and long may it continue.  I even persuaded my husband to start with me and to entice him, I used the words, 'Support me in my efforts.'  He agreed, so we are on this road to healthy living once again.  We both gained weight over the last couple of months and the Christmas holidays and aftermath with lots of entertaining were killers.  Now we have a reasonably quiet time ahead of us as far as entertaining, so it is much easier to have self control. 
What works best for me with only a little effort is a high protein, low fat diet.  No creams, oils, butters, basically anything I make as the Yummy Yank is off limits!  At least for a little while anyway.  For myself, I am kick-starting the health plan by eating pretty much all proteins, just for a few days, with the exception of some oat bran in the morning.  I eat this either as porridge, mixed with zero per cent greek yoghurt or I make an oat bran pancake, which is very delicious and filling, simple to make as well with only 3 ingredients needed.  When made as a pancake, it can substitute as bread or it is wonderful topped with the non-fat yoghurt or non-fat creme fraiche!  It's a real treat, plus it is very good for ensuring everything is working properly and it helps to reduce cholesterol. 
As for the protein days only, I eat basically any meats other than fatty ham or lamb.  All fish is a go, eggs, as much as you like unless you need to limit your intake, and all non-fat dairy products are fine as well, so cottage cheese, yoghurt, skim milk etc.  I find it very easy and it definitely works.
After a few days, I then add vegetables, as much as I want, but no blatant in your face carbohydrates, no potatoes, rice or pasta!  Salads are great, broccoli, courgettes, aubergine, cabbage, basically anything you want.  In the early stages, keep carrot intake to a minimum because they are very sweet so contain more carbs.  I really don't feel like I am missing anything other than fruit, but again, I add that later, once I am nearing my goal weight. 
Season your foods well to keep it interesting.  Onions are fine to use as are capers, pickles, mustards, spices and herbs.  For sweetness, I love Canderel Vanilla sweetener.  It is a low calorie sweetener, aspartame based, with spent ground vanilla beans and it is delicious in non-fat yoghurt or creme fraiche.  It makes a wonderful dessert or topping to the oat bran pancake. 
It's also simple to dine out with this way of eating.  Any restaurant is quite happy to just grill their meats and fish or prepare without sauces.  It hasn't been a problem anywhere!  Curry restaurants are perfect, they can grill any protein and add their wonderful spices on the side!
I drink a lot of water and a lot of caffeine free coffee and teas.  Diet sodas are absolutely fine to drink as they really satisfy a craving for something sweet.  I am drinking constantly. 
After I reach my goal weight, it is pretty simple to keep your weight off if you make a conscious effort.  If you add to your diet, slowly but surely, whole grain breads, carbs, fruit etc and then once a week have an all protein or mostly protein day, your weight will remain a constant.  It did for me until I went a little crazy with eating everything and anything!  Of course exercise is important in any way that works for you.  Being a couch potato never helps in the effort of losing weight.
There you have it.  I'll let you know my progress over the coming weeks.  So far it is a piece of cake and no I don't mean my New York Cheesecake!
Oat Bran Pancake recipe:
1 1/2 tablespoons of Oat Bran (I use Mornflake Oatbran Sprinkles)
1 1/2 tablespoons of non-fat creme fraiche or yoghurt
1 whole egg (you can use just the whites if you are watching your cholesterol)
Whisk the three ingredients together and pour batter into a very lightly oiled pan (just wiping a little oil in the pan with a paper towel, as little as possible). Heat the oiled pan gently over medium heat.  A small crepe pan or omelette pan works great!  Swirl the batter evenly over the pan and do that a couple of times to disperse the batter from the middle.  Wait to the underside is golden brown and then flip.  The edges will easily pull away from the pan.  You can make one thick pancake or divide the batter into two thinner pancakes. 
Simple, delicious and very healthy!! 
Thanks for reading and if anyone wants to join in this healthy living option, please update me with how you are doing!
Take good care and y'all have a nice day!
Lisa  AKA The Yummy Yank

Friday, 14 January 2011

Praise for Prashad

This blog is going to be a bit out of the ordinary for my writing.  It will be short and concise, which is different for a start.  More importantly though, it will be a review of sorts!  I won't make a habit of this, but this restaurant just impressed me so, I have to let all of you know about it!

Prashad was runner up in Gordon Ramsay's search for the best local restaurant and it is very clear why this little gem received such rave reviews.  It should have been the winner!

My husband and I went last night to Prashad, a unique, charming and utterly delicious vegetarian Indian restaurant in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

We were greeted in such a friendly manner and made to feel so welcome. Our drinks and poppadoms were brought out first. On the menu was Massala Lassi. I didn't know what it was, so a sample was brought out without hesitation for me to taste. It is a savoury lassi and it was so delicious and palette cleansing. The poppadoms were different than any other restaurant I have been to, rolled in a cone shape and lighter, they were outstanding. The pickles were clearly homemade and we both were getting every last bit up with our fingers.

We then went on to the mixed appetiser platter. There was Prashad's award winning Pethis on this platter, which is a deep fried spiced coconut ball encased in a fluffy potato. Amongst others, there was a spring roll, a samosa. and Kachori, balls deep fried in Rotli. I believe there was a selection of 8 starters.  Apologies if I cannot remember the names of everything, these were mostly new taste sensations to me and my husband.

For our main dishes, I had a Kaushy and Minal special. I had the Idli Sambar, which are rice flour dumplings steamed and served with spicy lentil soup along with coconut and yoghurt chutney. The flavours were sensational.  Spicy set off with the slight sweetness of grated coconut and the fluffiness of the dumplings were a perfect combination.

My husband had Zucchini and Channa Dhal, which is a lentil and zucchini curry, lightly spiced and steamed.  It was full of flavour and had a wonderful consistency to it.

To accompany our meals we had Rotli, thin round breads, Kichdi, a blend of basmati rice with lentils, and we ordered Khudi to go with it, which they say is an absolute must.  Khudi is a yoghurt soup made with chick pea powder and curry leaves.  It made the rice a savoury sort of rice pudding and it was delicious!

We had to get dessert because Kaushy had made Galub Jamon, which are small dough balls made up of mainly milk solids and an Indian milk and deep fried, served with a sweet sugar syrup made of rose water and cardamom.  Kaushy's were the lightest and fluffiest (and I have made these before) I have ever tasted and the syrup wasn't overly sweet.  They were served with ice cream and they were delicious.

I had Massala tea with dessert, a spiced Indian tea, not sweetened but with milk and my husband had coffee.

Prashad does not have an alcohol permit and the absence of alcohol does not matter at all.

Kaushy the owner/chef came out to speak to us for quite a long time.  She is lovely and cooks from the heart and with love.  A smile never leaves her face. Her daughter-in-law Minal also cooks in the kitchen and Kaushy raved about the chemistry they have together, something which is apparent in every dish.  It is so unusual to find two women cooking in an Indian restaurant. No doubt this is why the restaurant works so well!  Another example of two more powerful and passionate women in the food industry.  They love everything about what they do and are so proud of it as well.  It shows in every aspect of this restaurant.

Prashad is only a small restaurant seating about 40 people over two dining rooms, so I would recommend a reservation.

Our meal for two without gratuity, 2 bottles of water and two glasses of lassi was about £52 GBP.

This is an absolute not to miss restaurant!  Everything about it is wonderful and you feel like you have been welcomed into a friend's home for dinner! Loved it, loved it and cannot wait to go again!

Prashad is located at:
86 Horton Grange Road
West Yorkshire

Tel: 01274 575 893

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to try this restaurant!  Tell Kaushy I said hello!

Take good care and y'all have a nice day!

Lisa AKA The Yummy Yank

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

All in the Family

I love Ina Garten, I've been following Martha Stewart for years and she never ceases to amaze me, Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukins have been an inspiration to me since the 80's.  These very powerful, yet creative women have taught me so much beginning when I was in my 20's.  My daughters say I want to be them, well specifically Ina, but that's not the case. I want to be a combination of all of these ladies, along with my mother, father, aunts and even a neighbour Judy.  Every one of these amazing individuals helped in moulding the lover of food that I am today.  Ina is the new kid on the block.  I love her simplicity, her enthusiasm, her sincerity and yes, I even love her cheesiness!

Before celebrity chefs were at the forefront of television and media, my influences certainly came from my family.  I was surrounded by good cooks.  My mother was a wonderful cook.  She and I loved ALL foods, whereas my father and my sister didn't.  There were certain foods that she would make just for the two of us.  Lobster was a particular treat I remember very well.  Lobster tails to be specific.  Mommy was a fairly basic cook.  I don't remember anything extravagant, but I do remember deliciousness and abundance.  There was never a shortage of food in our house and there certainly isn't ever a shortage in mine.  My mother's standouts were her rump roast, lamb chops, Rockfish, soups, especially her crab soup and her matzo ball soup.

We always had our meals around the table, all together, unless of course my father was at work.  It was an important time of the day to discuss the day's events.  We even sat at the table for breakfast.  I always had breakfast and thinking back, it was healthy!  There was always juice or half of a grapefruit, a sliced orange, a banana, or melon, along with cereal, or my mother's wonderful eggy (boiled egg) in a bowl.  I suppose that is why I try to instill in my girls the importance of breakfast.  My family always sat around the table for meals too, it is so important and I fear it is a dying tradition.  My mother made eating a social event, one which was filled with such banter and fun.  My mother truly instilled in me the joy of everything food!  She was one of a kind!

Mom's sister Jeanette was also a very good cook.  Aunt Jeanette was like a second mother to me.  Our families were always together and did we have fun!  Aunt Jeanette's cooking was similar to my mother's in many ways, they both cooked traditionally, based on their parents Polish heritage.  They made a lot of traditional Jewish foods, several which were sweet and were mixed with savoury dishes.  Mommy's matzo balls (dumplings) were soft and fluffy and Aunt Jeanette's were hard, we used to call them cannon balls.  Her family loved them that way, we preferred my mother's version.  Aunt Jeanette used to make a dish called Tzimmes.  It is potatoes, both white and sweet, with carrots and meat, but she used to put prunes in it, which Jennie Grossinger, a cookbook author from the 1960's suggested in her recipe.  We used to always make fun of Aunt Jeanette for using Jennie Grossinger's cookbooks.  To our generation, she was an old fashioned cook, but to Aunt Jeanette, Jennie Grossinger was like Martha Stewart or Ina.  She inspired her.  We hated the prunes, they just didn't belong in the tzimmes, but they were a source of a lot of laughter.

Neither my mother nor my Aunt Jeanette were great bakers.  I remember Aunt Jeanette baking more than my mom.  Aunt Jeanette used a lot of pre-packaged mixes. I remember so vividly when Jello came out with the no cook cheesecake mix.  The family loved it and Aunt Jeanette used to make it frequently.  Both my sister Debbie and I love to bake.  When we were in school, home economics was a must and both of us certainly baked there and I think for me, the love of baking carried over.  I remember my sister's recipe for cream puffs from her high school days and her cinnamon rolls.  I still use that cream puff recipe to this day.  Debbie is a wonderful baker, but along with baking she is the most sensational decorator as well.  I love to bake and I can make exceptional cakes, but please don't ask me to decorate.  I don't even like writing on a cake. It's just not my thing, but it is Debbie's and she made her girls some of the most spectacular birthday cakes you have ever seen.  I think it comes down to patience and when it comes to intricate work, I don't have it and my talented sister does!

My father's sister Sylvie was a terrific cook and baker.  Again, she was a fairly traditional cook, but mmmm mmmm everything was delicious.  She used ingredients my mother didn't use.  I remember having rhubarb at her house and I had never had it anywhere else.  I didn't like it then, I do now. She made tzimmes as well, but she put a knaidel (dumpling) in hers.  Tzimmes is an acquired taste for some because of the sweet and savoury, but Aunt Sylvie's was the best!  The problem with the cooks in my family was that not a single one of them measured, so to get their recipes was a bit tricky.  My cousin Arlene watched her mom, my Aunt Sylvie, make certain recipes and made her measure on these particular occasions.  I was so excited to get her strudel and tzimmes recipes and I am so grateful that I did!  These are recipes that I truly treasure.  We don't make them as much anymore, as they are heavier and more time consuming, but they are still delicious and are a part of me!

My most treasured recipes are two of my father's.  He made certain things around holiday times which were the best anywhere in the entire world, hands down.  First was his gefilte fish or fish balls.  I used to watch my father take his mixture of fish, mix it with eggs, matzo meal and other ingredients, taste the raw batter as I would watch him and cringe as a little girl.  Then he would take this mixture, boil them in the stock he used from the fish bones, onions, carrots and seasoning and turn them into the most wonderful gefilte fish balls you ever tasted.  I watched every year and I have to say, I can replicate his recipe pretty much perfectly and I am so proud of that achievement.  Thank you Daddy for handing down this delectable treat!  Nobody made gefilte fish like my father and nobody ever will, but I have come pretty close!

The other speciality he made were potato latkes or potato pancakes. Again my father's were the best there were and again, from watching year after year, I have his recipe and I do think they are as just about as good because they are exactly the same.  My Uncle Norman would argue that point because to him nobody made potato latkes like my father, his brother, Yummy!  Daddy's latkes didn't have onions, they are just hand grated (and that is so important) potatoes, flour, eggs, salt and pepper, fried in deep oil.  They take a lot of salt and a lot of pepper.  They are big, deep, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  They are heaven!  Eat them with applesauce or soured cream and you have a meal in itself.  Gefilte fish was made at Passover and latkes at Chanukah and I still follow that tradition to this day.  They both take too long to make more than once a year, but when those holidays roll around, what a special treat it is to enjoy the traditions that my father passed down to me!  He was a legend!

My parents next door neighbour Judy was a wonderful cook.  Judy was the youngster in the neighbourhood, newly married with babies, creative and fun.  She was like another older sister to me.  Judy cooked differently to my family.  She was a more modern cook.  There was nothing she couldn't do.  She made appetizers, mains, desserts and each and every one of them were delicious.  Judy took a lot of shortcuts, something my family didn't do a lot of until she came around.  She doctored up cake mixes and made these outstanding recipes without all of the hassle.  She made the most incredible broccoli dish using frozen broccoli, canned stewed tomatoes and canned cheddar cheese soup.  She made a wonderful noodle pudding or kugel which wasn't as sweet as my mom's and my mother ended up making it all of the time.  She entertained frequently and nothing was ever a problem.  She used her time wisely in the kitchen and could still take part in her dinner parties without staying at the stove.  She was the first cook I know that simplified cooking, something every chef tries to do now.  Judy in my eyes was the start to this fashion of cooking!  Judy died far too young and I stayed close to her always. Before she died, she sent me some recipes of hers from the 70's that I wanted.  They taste as good 40 years later!  There will always be a part of Judy with me and my fondest memories with her and her family revolve around food.

Now I move on to my modern inspirations.  They inspire me as women and cooks, but mostly they inspire me because their recipes are doable, easy and delicious.  They can be made after a full day of work.  They are made for the modern person, whether a single professional or a family.  These recipes and ideas on food just work.  So if I take a little bit of Martha with a pinch of Ina, a dash of Julee and Sheila, add in some Bobby Flay, stir in some Nigella and Jamie, with heaps of parents, aunts, friends, and neighbours, you get me, The Yummy Yank!  Thank you to each and every one of these astounding people for helping me become the foodie that I am!  I have loved every minute of it!

A little piece of my father and me for you to enjoy!

Yummy's Gefilte Fish
For the stock:
5 onions peeled and sliced roughly
10 carrots peeled and sliced into thick slices
20 cups of water
5 tablespoons of salt
pepper to taste (we like our spicy)
Bones and heads from the fish ( I tend to use just the bones)

Bring the stock to a boil and then simmer gently for about an hour.

Take the heads and some of the bones out, leaving some bones on the bottom of the pot to prevent fish balls from sticking.  Continue simmering.

I use a mixture of Haddock and Cod in the UK.  In the US, I use Whitefish and Rockfish. Any combination of fish will work, I just prefer whiter fish. Ask your fishmonger to clean, fillet and mince the fish, combining the different kinds of fish together.

Use 1 egg per pound of fish and 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of fish.  I know it sounds like a lot, but follow this precisely.

For six pounds of fish use:

6 eggs
2 onions, peeled and very finely chopped or minced
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of matzo meal ( you can get this at most supermarkets)
6 teaspoons of salt
3 teaspoons of pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together and dampen your hands, then roll into fairly large balls, about the size of an orange.  You should get 3 to 4 balls per pound of mixture.  Drop the fish balls into the simmering stock mixture and continue to simmer for about 2 1/2 hours. Keep topping up the stock with more water to keep the fish balls covered. When cooled, remove the balls gently from the stock and allow to cool.  Stain the stock and pour some stock over the balls as it is delicious to dip either matzo, crackers, biscuits or bread into the juices.  Use some of the carrots from the stock for garnish, as they are delicious!
Reserve the stock for other fish based soups or stews.  Refrigerate the fish balls and serve cold with horseradish.

You can serve warm, but our family prefers it cold.  The stock freezes beautifully!

Some people say this is an acquired taste, I say it is YUMMY!  Enjoy!

Have a nice day y'all!

Lisa AKA The Yummy Yank

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Inspiration and Beans - Now There is a Combination!

My cookbook idea, was actually inspired by my daughter Amy, who also is writing a wonderful food blog.  She also was the inspiration behind my writing a blog.  I had been thinking about doing it for ages, but it wasn't until Amy started that I got myself into gear and started my own. You must take a look at Amy's blog Amy is a very talented professional writer and a foodie from the word go!  She is currently in PR but wants to get into food journalism and she deserves to break into that industry!  Follow her blog as I know you will enjoy it immensely!

Back to the subject at hand.  Quite a while back, Amy asked me to write down my recipes for her.  I was very touched by this and I then decided that I wanted to do this right.  I wanted to write a real cookbook, something tangible, not just type out my recipes and hand them to her.  I've been in touch with someone to help me, but I am just trying to decide the right time to make this happen.  I can't think of a better gift for my daughters to have and cherish and perhaps one day hand down to their children!  It may not have monetary value, but it will be the essence of their mother, something that truly defines who I am.

So today I am going to share a recipe of mine.  It's not for a dessert, it is for a side dish or main meal, whichever you prefer.  I made this dish to go along with Cuban Pork for a dinner party and I made so much of it, that I am still eating it a week later.  Yes, it does stay perfectly good for that long, but it also freezes beautifully. 

This is The Yummy Yank's version of Red Beans and Rice!  The Yummy Yank does American desserts, but so much more as well.  My family and friends enjoy this and I hope you do too!  Amy, this one is for you!

Red Beans And Rice

5 cans of red kidney beans drained (You can also use 1 pound of dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight and drained, but it adds a lot of extra work)

1 cooked smokey ham shank (you can get this from most supermarket deli counters) OR you can use 1 ham bone that has a fair amount of meat on it

2 1/2 quarts OR 5 pints of water

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (you can use less if you don't want it as spicy)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 onions peeled and chopped

1 green pepper, take the core and seeds out and chop

2 celery stalks chopped

1-2 garlic cloves peeled and minced or finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped

2-3 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme

1/2 tablespoon sea or kosher salt

1 pound sausage, smoked or spicy works best, sliced or cubed.  ( I used Chorizo, a spicy Spanish sausage)

Freshly cooked hot rice, any kind, but I prefer long grain white rice, in any quantities you want!   Cook according to package directions.  (Personally I like it to have more beans and sauce and not as much rice)

Drain your canned kidney beans and put them in a large saucepan or pot, a soup pot works best.  Add the water and ham shank or bone, pepper, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring it to a gentle boil.  Once boiled, partially cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the onions, pepper, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, thyme and salt and stir to mix thoroughly.  Simmer gently, partially covered for 1 hour.

Mix in the sausage and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours longer until the mixture is fairly thick. 

Take out the ham bone.  By this time any meat would have fallen off the bone.  If it hasn't, remove the meat and cut in into chunks.  Return the meat to the bean mixture if you had to remove it yourself and stir it well. 

When finished, mix it with hot rice and enjoy!

Serves 4-6 as a main dish.

**Please note, if you use dried kidney beans, after soaking, cover with water in a pot and bring to a boil.  Boil for 10 minutes and drain.  Then add the beans to the pan with the measured water and proceed with the recipe as it is stated!**

You  also can use a mixture of sausages, it is completely up to you.

There you have it, my version of Red Beans and Rice, a wonderfully delicious and hearty dish!

As always, thanks for reading and have a nice day y'all!

Lisa AKA The Yummy Yank

Monday, 10 January 2011

The Weekend Is Over And Now I Need A Rest

It was a very cold weekend here in Yorkshire, rainy, windy, then sunny, but still windy and COLD.  I braved the elements and set up shop at the farmers markets!

I am spoiled at the market on Saturday as it is inside the village hall with tables provided and even teas and coffees given to the stallholders by the very kind and hard working hall caretakers.  However, it was so ridiculously quiet.  Opening up at 9am, the first customer didn't walk into the market until a little after 10am.  All of the stallholders were just standing around doing nothing.  It's pretty soul destroying.  It picked up a little bit by 11, but still not sure it is really worthwhile to continue this market.  At noon the other stallholders and myself had a conversation with the organiser and gave him lots of suggestions for trying to reinvent this particular market.  For the first time he seemed to listen.

Suggestion one was to give new potential stallholders an incentive to take part.  Without stallholders, there is no market.  We suggested he give two free months and on the second month, if they are still interested in coming, they need to pay for the third month in advance.  Most markets charge their stallholders in advance.  This ensures them coming.  It makes sense!  He seemed open and keen to the idea.  The other suggestion was to have an incentive to get people to come and shop.  We thought maybe offer tea, coffee and a small bacon or sausage roll for 99 pence to get people through that door.  Maybe even tea and coffee for free with a cookie of mine thrown in for good measure.  It can't hurt giving a cookie, if they like it, perhaps they will buy more.  There is a method to my madness!  We don't want to create more work for the hall caretakers, so my husband will be in charge of the coffee and tea next month.  Bless his heart, I don't know what I would do without him.  Another suggestion was to have much better and clearer signage, placed in better positions.  I gave the organiser the name of the man who made my banners.  He does great work and is very reasonably priced.  And finally, pamphlets have to go through each and every door in the village.  Someone from the community actually said to the organiser that they didn't know there was a market here and it has been going on over 2 1/2 years.  That is nonsensical.  Finally we suggested to go look at the market that two of us do the following day in Burley and try and get some stallholders from there, being honest that the market is slow, but we are trying to revive it to its former glory.  Hopefully, this will all help and once again we can get my local village market thriving again. 

I have to admit, Saturday's market wasn't as bad as the previous month, but still really wasn't great at all.  Thankfully my regular customers were there to do their shop.  The best part of Saturday's market was when I got home, I received a text message from a couple I had never seen before.  They were a Spanish couple and they bought cheesecake from me.  The text said, " Best cheesecake ever :) We bought it this morning and we're loving it now!  Thanks (gracias!)"  There is no question that that text message made the Saturday market very worthwhile!  New customers loving my produce and letting me know from my contact details on the packaging.  That's the kind of feedback I love!

I did sell quite a few pecan pie bars and some other bars, so when I got home, I made more bars for Sunday's market.  More pecan pie bars and the ginger bars with white chocolate.  I also made the carrot cake with pumpkin cheesecake in the middle.  I decided to leave out the zucchini.  After those were baked, my husband, myself and our friend Pippa went to hear the local village band play in the village hall.  On Saturday morning and Saturday night, the hall was like my home away from home.   We got back and at midnight I cut my bars and frosted my cake.  Got to bed around 1am for an 8am set up the next morning.

Sunday morning was not very pleasant.  It was rainy and windy as I said.  Every stallholder still showed up at the market, despite the conditions.  That is the difference between the Burley market and my local market, stallholders just don't show up.  We set up the stall, erected the structure and put up the awning.  I couldn't really properly set out my desserts because they would have certainly got wet.  Luckily the rain did stop shortly before opening time at 10am and I could place out my samples and uncover the desserts.  The wind never let up.  It even blew over the stall next to me and so much of her product was ruined.  It was her own stall, not the ones the farmer provides.  Thank goodness nobody got hurt.  After that, she broke down the rest of her stall and went home.  My stall and all of the other stalls stayed intact.  I dressed for the occasion and looked like I weighed about 300 pounds when actually I am really quite small.  I don't really eat every single thing I bake despite the appearance.  I had on quite literally 6 layers on top and 5 on the bottom.  My toes and fingers were numb, but it was still great fun!

It was as I suspected, slower than usual, but there were still always people milling around and I sold quite a lot.  No, I didn't sell out, nor did anyone else, but I don't think we can complain considering the weather conditions.  The raffle in aid of Nepal disability still went on with every stallholder contributing to the prize of a beautiful hamper overflowing with fresh homegrown goodies.  Over £500 was raised.  There were even two actors from the local pantomime in costume (drag to be precise) walking around promoting the show. They were the ugly step-sisters.  I think you have to be British to understand what a pantomime is all about, but it is an annual tradition all over the country and such fun.  Even American actors come over to take part now.  Henry Winkler has been doing them, Mickey Rooney, and Pamela Anderson as well.  You have to see one to believe it, but if anyone outside of the UK is over here in December-January, you must try to see a pantomime.  You won't be disappointed, I promise you that!  There is just a buzz and enthusiasm at this market which makes it so nice!

Midway through the market, my local village hall caretakers came and went to speak to several stallholders to convince them to try and come to our second Saturday of the month market.  It seems like they were successful in getting a bread person who bakes fabulous organic sourdough breads, a mushroom person who has the most extraordinary wild mushrooms, looking at them is like looking at a piece of art, the ostrich meat person, the rapeseed oil person and hopefully the honey people.  We still need more, but this is a start.  Hopefully they won't let us down.  So the Sunday market also helped the Saturday market which is fantastic news!

This month there was a run on the pecan pie bars.  I sold out all bar one, no pun intended.  I even doubled up on these this month.  I let it be known that they are made with local honey and pointed out his stall two stalls away from me.  People loved them!  The supersize chocolate cake had a problem with the frosting cracking because of the cold.  It just hardened, so every time I cut a piece, I apologised that it wouldn't look as pretty as it should, but people didn't seem to mind.  It is a risk of being outside.  The Carrot/Pumpkin Cake Cheesecake was a huge hit.  It was such a nice flavour combination, very fresh tasting.  The other big hit were the Peanut Butter Brownies.  People loved them.  In fact, I received another text from another customer.  I have never received texts after a market before and I got two in one weekend.  It was an amazing feeling.  This text read, " Hey Yummy Yank. We (names were mentioned, but I am leaving them out) are currently devouring the last of today's brownies and have concluded that yours are frankly the most delicious we have ever tasted!"  How's that for praise?!

The organisers also are starting another market in the town of Ripon and asked me to take part. This will be the furthest one away for me, but I am very keen to do it.  The local council is very much behind this market happening.  They want to get a celebrity chef to open it and they plan on doing a lot of advertising.  The bonus for me is that it will be the day before the Otley market on the last Sunday of the month.  It is practical for me to do two markets in a row, so I will certainly give it a try.  It won't start until Easter time, so I have plenty of time!  Hopefully this will prove to be another successful market.  Ripon is a bustling town.

We got home on Sunday afternoon and after putting stuff away, cleaning etc, I had a much needed hot bath to thaw my fingers and toes.  We went for an early pub dinner and had a nice Sunday roast, went to visit a friend who isn't well and we were back home by 7 and in bed by 8.30.  My husband was asleep within seconds and I turned off the tv by 9!  I was exhausted and had a much needed 10 hour sleep.  I promised myself I would take today off and I pretty much have done just that!  I feel like I haven't stopped since early December!  I need a holiday from the holidays!

Now, I have a break from the markets until the last weekend in January.  I have an exhibition for my art business in a couple of weeks time, but don't have to really start baking for a little while.  I do want to try and pace myself, so I don't have to bake nonstop 24/7 for the lead up to the next market and hopefully things will go a little smoother than this last time.  Saying that however, it all worked out in the end and I had two reasonably successful markets with compliments that made everything very worthwhile!

Keep on reading folks and as always, y'all have a nice day!

Lisa AKA The Yummy Yank

Friday, 7 January 2011

Getting Ready For The Markets

Today is Friday and I should be just about finishing up for this weekend's farmer's markets, but for some reason I am far behind!  I am having to motivate myself to keep on baking as the snow has begun to come down hard over the last few hours and I hope the markets this weekend are not cancelled.  As far as I am aware, the markets are still a go!

Things weren't going as planned yesterday.  Since my local market isn't as busy as it used to be, I don't make big layer cakes for that particular market anymore.  I have turned my "Supersize Chocolate Cake" into a "Honey I Shrunk the Cake" loaf size cake.  In fact, I have turned all of my layer cakes into loaf cakes for this particular market.  It actually has proven to be a very good concept.  People like the idea of buying a whole, albeit small cake, plus they are easy to store and to transport to the Burley market on Sunday.  Anyway, for some reason, my mini chocolate cakes didn't like the idea of leaving their cozy home in the pans and 6 of them decided to stick and fall apart.  I was not a happy camper.  I had to make another recipe of chocolate cake and start again at 9pm last night.  Thankfully, this batch turned out ok.  I don't know what happened and I don't care to have a repeat performance!

The layers for all of my large cakes are now made for the Burley market on Sunday, now all I have to do is assemble them.  I am contemplating doing one more which I think sounds pretty interesting, but am still debating the idea with myself. 

Let me explain some of my cakes.  One day I will share some of my recipes, but if this cookbook happens, there wouldn't be a need to buy it if everything were on my blog! 

I have several staples that I sell at each market.  The must haves are the "Supersize Chocolate Cake" which is 4 layers and everyone thinks it grows every month.  It is deep, dark, intense chocolate with a wonderfully dark chocolate frosting!  The British people adore it and can't get enough.  It sells out every time.  My Carrot Cake is also a must.  I'm not a lover of carrot cake, but everyone who is thinks this one is one of the best.  It's always moist and the cream cheese frosting is generously piled high on all sides.  For me, the frosting is too sweet, but for most, it is not.  Again, always a sell out!  There has to be a New York Cheesecake, nothing fancy, just a plain, basic cheesecake.  This is a labour of love as it takes hours and hours and hours to make, but is certainly worth the time and effort.  It is a true New York baked cheesecake and everyone who tastes it swoons with ecstasy!  Only once did a customer say that it was too cheesy!  Not sure what that means, but after all, it is a cheesecake.  It made me laugh.  Everyone has their own opinions!

I've recently added to my staples a cake/cheesecake combination.  A customer had been on a trip to the states and visited a Cheesecake Factory Restaurant.  They adored everything about that chain of restaurants as I do as well.  Their food is equally delicious as their cheesecakes.  They have so many different kinds of cheesecakes and I like to try different ones every time I go, although I do have my favourites.  Anyway, they introduced a Red Velvet Cake with New York Cheesecake in the middle.  This customer asked me if I could replicate that cake for a party she was having.  I had been wanting to try the cake/cheesecake combo, but wasn't sure if I could pull it off.  I told her I would experiment and if it failed, we would go to plan B.  Thankfully, it didn't fail, it worked beautifully and my version of The Cheesecake Factory's  "Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake" is sublime!  It is now without a doubt my best seller!  Cheesecake Factory, eat your heart out!  The Yummy Yank has made her own version and it is indeed Yummy! I, of course do not use the same name as the Cheesecake Factory nor do I know or use their recipe.  This is my own creation and I am very proud of it.  For the market, I do two layers of Red Velvet Cake and one layer of Cheesecake.  I frost it with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting and it just works beautifully together.  If someone orders this cake, they get two layers of each cake, so it is a massive 4 layers high.

I then always have a guest cake each month.  This is why I am having a debate with myself as stated above.  I am thinking about a "Bountiful Harvest Cake."  Three layers of 3 different cakes with a taste from the garden, one being carrot cake, but a different recipe to my normal cake, one layer being a zucchini cake and in the middle a pumpkin cheesecake layer!  I am thinking that sounds pretty delicious and most likely will give it a go!

There is also a guest mini cake for this month.  I had an abundance of bananas and not liking things to go to waste, I decided to make a good old fashioned southern American recipe-a "Hummingbird Cake".  When I have done this cake before as a layer cake, it was a massive hit!  So fingers crossed, it will be again.

Now, as I am writing this blog, two recipes of bars are baking.  One is my "Butterscotch Caramel Dream Bars" and the other is another southern favourite, "Pecan Pie Bars."  You can never go wrong with either one of these.  The "Pecan Pie Bars" are loaded with a locally supplied Yorkshire Honey which one of the other market stallholders supplied for me.  He harvests all his own honey and it is simply wonderful.  This delicious honey helps to create a perfect pecan pie bar!  If you have a chance look up R Hirst in Bishopthorpe, York, Yorkshire, as he produces the finest honey for miles around!

I will also make some sort of brownie this month, probably "Peanut Butter Brownies" and most likely "Rocky Road" bars.  If I have the time, I will make "Ginger Blondies" as they are a wonderful bar which just feels right in winter.

So I haven't stopped this week!  Aside from yesterday's hiccup, all is going to plan today.  I am looking forward to getting some fresh air perhaps this evening and giving my oven a much needed break.  I can hear it yelling out from here that it needs a rest.  And frankly my dears, so do I!

Keep reading and if you are in Yorkshire, check out the Burley Market on Sunday.  It is fabulous!

Thanks everyone and Y'all have a nice day!!

Lisa AKA The Yummy Yank

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Yummy Yank-The meaning of the business

With this being my first blog, let me explain the meaning of the name The Yummy Yank.  It's really pretty simple and I thought a catchy name for my venture.

I am an American living in the UK, Yorkshire to be exact.  I have been here for 14 years now and a few years back began doing my local farmer's market, selling my homemade American desserts.  This is the self explanatory part of the business name.  I am a Yank by every definition and I sell Yummy desserts!

The other sentiment to my name is just that, sentimental.  My father's nickname was Yummy and his twin brother's nickname was Yankee.  I can't think of a better tribute to their memories than to have a business named after them, especially a business as delicious as this one!

When my village announced they were going to have a farmer's market, I thought what fun it would be to take part.  It was right up the road which would make it easy to get to and for the most part it would be people I already know.  It's really a win/win situation.  Nobody who knows me would be able to criticise my baking to my face, essentially everyone would have to be polite.  After all, I live in the village.

I started on market number 2 and it was bustling.  There were so many stall holders and I loved the camaraderie of it all.  I made cakes, cheesecakes, bars of all sorts, brownies, cookies, homemade granola, you name it.  I sold everything by the slice and bar.  Granola and cookies I had pre-bagged.  It was such a buzz!  People loved my desserts and bought them!  I actually made money and had a good time doing it. 

I always said that this would be my only farmer's market because I love to bake and I didn't want to lose the passion of my hobby that I find so relaxing.  So for 2 years, I stuck to my guns and this was in fact the only farmer's market I did.  It was enough, I baked for a week leading up to the market and was all ready for the second Saturday of every month.  Until the market got quieter and quieter.

It was either a matter of stopping and not wasting my time because so many stall holders stopped coming or take up an invitation I received to be part of another farmer's market on the second Sunday of every month, the day after the one I was already doing.  It sort of was a no brainer.

I started doing the Burley market several months ago and I am having a blast!  It is busy, has about 40 some vendors and people love, love, love my desserts.  It is outdoors, where my local one is indoors and I adore being in the freezing cold first thing in the morning.  We set up our stall supplied to us by a farmer from North Yorkshire at about 7am and put out my goods, ready for the onslaught of customers.  What better ego boost is there than people queuing up to buy something you made by hand and raving about it?  I nearly sold out and I got several orders as well.  It was amazing!

The organiser of this market also organises others and told me that he had never heard so many people rave about a seller on their first day as they did with my desserts.  Imagine the size of my head!!  He asked me to do another market on the last Sunday of the month in Otley, which has 50 some stalls and has a waiting list of a couple of years to take part!  And here I was asked to take part after just one time at Burley!  I was so honoured!  Of course I said YES!!!  I couldn't do October and I couldn't do November because it was American Thanksgiving and I always make Thanksgiving dinner over here, but I did take part in the Christmas market.  Other vendors told me I may not be as busy the first month as in subsequent months because customers have to get to know me and my products.  Fair enough really!  However, I was packed and had a wonderful day.  I nearly sold out!  So if my first Otley market was slower, I really look forward to this month and all of the ones to follow!  Even the sub zero temperatures and numb fingers didn't put a damper on the morning!  I was dressed to look like the Michelin Man, 5 layers at the top and 4 layers at the bottom and I was ready to rock and roll!

So there you have it, what started as just something fun to do once a month, has now turned into a business.  I bake constantly these days and I am still loving it!  I now want to take my business further and branch out.  Eventually there will be a cookbook in the oven and I now think I have a chance of people actually buying it.  I want to do more and more!  It's hard work, but it is so rewarding!  There is nothing better than watching faces light up when they come to my stall!  Imagine a child in a candy shop, that is what it is like when people visit The Yummy Yank and there is no better feeling than making someone smile!

Thanks for reading and I hope you follow my blog!  It will follow the adventures of The Yummy Yank hopefully one day becoming a household name!

Have a nice day Y'all!
Lisa AKA The Yummy Yank