July 2013 - Buttered Side Up

Lunch/Supper Idea: Bacon, Avocado and Tomato Sandwich

BAT (Bacon, Avocado and Tomato) Sandwich | Buttered Side Up
No sandwich speaks of late summer to me more than a BLT. It became a tradition at my family's house to have corn on the cob (fresh from Mom's garden) and BLT's near the end of summer (that's when the corn ripens in northern Minnesota). It's the perfect combo. We would eat them night after night and never get sick of them. 

This year I didn't plant a garden at all. It's just too difficult for me to take care of a baby and attempt to weed a garden. And so I probably won't be enjoying much buttery corn on the cob. But that doesn't stop me from making an awesome BLT.

BAT (Bacon, Avocado and Tomato) Sandwich | Buttered Side Up

Since the lettuce in our fridge was looking rather limp, I decided to use an avocado for the greenery on this sandwich. It was delicious. If I had some nice, crispy lettuce I would definitely add it as well.

Here's a breakdown of my BAT:

  • Slice of bread (this recipe), toasted
  • Butter
  • Sour cream
  • Mustard
  • Bacon
  • Avocado
  • Tomato (with salt and fresh ground pepper)

What's YOUR favorite summer meal/dessert?

Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread

Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread | Buttered Side Up
Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread | Buttered Side Up
Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread | Buttered Side Up
Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread | Buttered Side Up

Since I don't own a stand mixer (we're working on that), I often avoid making bread that requires kneading. Instead, I opt for a no-knead bread, which is quite good, but sometimes you just need a slice of perfectly-formed sandwich bread.
And so I coax Reuben into kneading it for me. After 10+ minutes of working the dough, he's convinced we should buy a stand mixer. ;)

This loaf is very yummy - a little bit sweet, slightly sour. It's very versatile - it works with savory or sweet toppings. My favorite is toasted and spread with butter, peanut butter, honey and bananas.

Quick tip: I like to make a double batch and freeze one loaf. If you're a smaller family, it's easiest to slice the whole loaf before freezing. That way you can defrost a single slice if needed.

By the way, I love the idea of avocado spread on toast, but I can't seem to make it work for me. How do you like to fix it?

Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread
Adapted from She Runs She Eats | makes 1 large loaf | PRINTABLE PAGE


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar, maple syrup or honey, divided
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt


1) In a small saucepan, gently heat the water and buttermilk to 110 degrees F (43 degrees C). Place the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar in a small bowl; pour the heated buttermilk mixture into the bowl and let proof for 5 minutes.

2) In a large bowl, combine the flours, oats, remaining sugar and salt. Add the yeast mixture, remaining buttermilk mixture and butter and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. 

3) Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes. Add flour as necessary. Return to mixing bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours, depending on how warm your house is.

4) Form risen dough into loaves, buns or whatever shape you wish. Place in greased pans (if making a loaf use a 9x5-inch pan) and let rise until nearly doubled, about 1-2 more hours.

5) During the last 15 minutes of rising, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake risen bread until nicely browned and load sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing (I never can wait that long).

Grandma's Cooking School: Banana Cream Pie

This was originally posted on February 10, 2010 on Cooking for Seven. Because these lessons were such an important part of my life, I will be re-posting them here.

{Grandma’s Cooking School is my chronicles of the informal cooking lessons that my Grandma graciously decided to give us girls. Enjoy!}
Grandma's Cooking School: Banana Cream Pie
This summer, Grandma decided that it was time to give us girls some cooking lessons. We planned to begin this fall, but everything got a bit crazy. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that we were able to take our first course: Banana Cream Pie!

Grandma's Cooking School: Banana Cream Pie
Grandma is such a patient, joyful teacher. She doesn’t have to do everything to make sure we do it right. She encourages us to be involved in every step.

Grandma's Cooking School: Banana Cream Pie
It seems she has magical hands. From years of experience, she knows little secrets to success. Like adding a little water to your pan before you pour in the milk to keep it from scalding.

Grandma's Cooking School: Banana Cream Pie
This pie is so delicious. I won’t lie and say it’s easy, because it isn’t – especially if you decide to make French Custard for the filling and meringue for the topping. But it is worth it.

Erica Cooking
By the way, I didn’t JUST take photos. I got involved, too! Here’s the proof.
I would give you the recipe, but I didn’t ask Grandma for permission to publish her secret recipes across the Internet. So I’ll leave you with this from her very old Betty Crocker cookbook.
**Next time on Grandma’s Cooking School: Chocolate Crepes!**
Full Recipe

Sparkling Strawberry Jasmine Green Tea

Sparkling Strawberry Jasmine Green Tea

001Sparkling Strawberry Jasmine Green Tea

Sparkling Strawberry Jasmine Green Tea

Sparkling Strawberry Jasmine Green Tea

So. Our house flooded.

     At six thirty in the morning we heard Grandpa calling from upstairs (we live in the basement apartment of Reuben's grandparents' house). At first we thought one of them had fallen down, but it soon became apparent what the real problem was. 
      As I stepped out of our bedroom, I was sloshing through over half an inch of water. Grandma's washing machine valve had busted in the middle of the night, spraying water everywhere and raining down into the basement. Luckily we don't keep much on the floor so nothing was ruined. My camera had managed to be directly under a drip, but it was unharmed; and the water stopped JUST before it got to my computer desk.
     Now we're all dry again and thankful it wasn't any worse.

But about this iced tea.

     I can't say that I'm much of a flavored drink person. Generally speaking, give me water or milk and I am perfectly content. But on these hot summer days, it's fun to keep hydrated with something tasty.
     Pop (or Soda, if you must) is generally not an option: I don't care for the high-fructose-corn-syrup-laden stuff, except for the occasional root beer float. You can blame my conscientious dad for that. He always made us order water at restaurants and very rarely brought sugary drinks into the house.
     And so I've been enjoying trying out new drink recipes. This recipe caught my eye because the flavor combination was different than anything I had ever tried. I was worried that Reuben wouldn't care for it and I'd be drinking the whole pitcher myself. When he heard that I was putting an entire pint of strawberries into tea he freaked out a little. But he thought it was yummy and even asked if there was any left the next day. 
     While I was pouring the boiling water over the tea bags, my (glass!) tea kettle slipped out of my hands, spilling water everywhere. For some reason it didn't break when it hit our tile floor. Reuben grabbed a towel and started wiping up the mess, but I said, "Wait! It looks cool," and proceeded to take photos. 

Recipe Notes:

     The original recipe didn't specify Jasmine green tea, but it sounded kind of lovely to me so I went for it. The flavor is a little different, so if you prefer a more "normal" iced tea you could use regular green tea (or even black tea, if that's your thing).
     Of course I used a natural sweetener. You could always use white sugar if you prefer. And I followed my instincts and decreased the sugar by 1/4 cup. I might go down to 1/2 cup next time.
     And I decided to fill the gap of the spilled water with some sparkling water - that really made this drink, in my opinion.

Sparkling Strawberry Jasmine Green Iced Tea
adapted from Sprinkled With Flour | makes approximately 6 servings | PRINTABLE PAGE

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1/2-3/4 cups sweetener of choice (I used evaporated cane juice)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 5 green tea bags (Jasmine scented or regular)
  • 2 1/2 cups sparkling water
  • Ice cubes, for serving


1) Place the tea bags in a heat-proof bowl. Place 2 1/2 cups of water in a tea kettle and bring to a boil. Pour over the tea bags and allow to steep for 2-3 minutes. Remove bags and discard.
2) Meanwhile, place the strawberries in a blender and puree until completely smooth. Place in a small saucepan with the sweetener and heat over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves.
3) Pour the strawberry puree into a heat-proof pitcher along with the tea and stir. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely.
4) Just before serving, pour the sparkling water into the iced tea. Taste and adjust the amount of water if needed. Serve over ice cubes.

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