Inspired by Frugal Queen, but also out of necessity, I've been cooking out of the pantry and freezer. We have been hemorrhaging money like there was no tomorrow for the last two weeks and we are flat out of money. As I blogged in my prior post, we had to purchase tires for my son. We also had to pay for a car loan, out-of-pocket medical bills, unexpected auto repair, and some other things. We are down to our last pennies practically (and we still have to keep money aside for gas), so I've been forced to get creative.
Yesterday, I made chili with two cups of pinto beans cooked in the pressure cooker for about an hour, then drained and cooked some more with seasonings for another 20 minutes or so. After the beans were nearly cooked, I put everything in an enamelled cast iron pot to finish cooking. My pressure cooker is aluminum, and it would have reacted with the pureed tomatoes I added (food safety is important). When it was all done, I defrosted a pound of ground beef which I then browned in a skillet before adding to the chili. My house full of men would have had a strike if I did not serve meat. . .
Today, I am roasting a 12 pound turkey I purchased back before Thanksgiving when turkeys go on sale. This 12-pounder cost me around $4.00 back then and will give me enough meat for approximately three meals in addition to the bones that will be cooked to make stock for soup. I will be serving the meat with some frozen corn and rice.
While the turkey was roasting in the oven, I decided not to waste the heat and make a rustic cake for desert as well. . . This was a recipe I had made a few times called Swedish Visiting Cake. The recipe calls for sliced almonds, but I didn't have any in my pantry. I had a half used bag of fresh frozen cranberries in the freezer, so I decided to use that instead. I changed the original recipe to suit my lazy ways; the recipe called for melted butter but I didn't see the point of dirtying up a pot just to do that. However, I don't see or taste any difference, so I keep doing it my way. . .
To make the cake, cream 1 stick (8 tablespoons) of softened butter in a mixer until fluffy. Add 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and mix until incorporated. Then add 2 large eggs, one at a time until well combined. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. When everything is well incorporated, add 1 cup all-purpose flour. After the flour is mixed in, add about 3/4 cup frozen cranberries until just combined so as not to break up the berries. This makes a very stiff batter that is almost dough-like. You must scrape it into an oiled 9 inch cake pan or cast iron skillet and smooth it on top the best you can. Any unevenness seems to fix itself in the oven though as the butter initially melts. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden and a bit crisp on the outside. The inside will remain slightly moist, but a toothpick inserted should more or less come out clean with the slightest hint of batter sticking to it.
Since the cake does not call for baking soda or baking powder, it will not rise as a traditional cake but is more like a cross between a coffee cake and cookie. In my opinion, you should not skip adding the almond extract, as that is what gives the cake its most delectable aroma. If you want to make this according to the original recipe, then skip the cranberries and sprinkle about a 1/4 cup sliced almonds on top of the cake along with a sprinkling of sugar before placing in the oven. The cake is wonderful either warm or cooled. I never have any leftovers. . . And here it is out of the oven with the half eaten turkey:
Tomorrow, probably turkey vegetable soup made from the turkey stock. When the going gets tough, the tough need to get creative. . .