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Musings from the shed.

Rob Elshire

Recipe: Molasses Spice Cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks / 170g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup molasses

Takes . Serves 30 cookies.

1 Whisk together flour, baking soda, spices: Preheat oven to 190°C. Vigorously whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice in a bowl and set aside.

2 Prepare butter, sugar, and wet ingredients: Use an electric mixer and beat the butter for 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with mixer set at medium speed. Add egg, vanilla extract, and molasses. Beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

3 Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients: Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.

4 Make dough balls: Working with 2 Tbsp of dough each time, roll dough into 1 3/4 inch balls. Place on silpat mat on cookie sheets, spacing them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.

5 Bake: Bake at 190°C until the outer edges of the cookies begin to set and centers are soft and puffy, about 11 to 13 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks .

Do not overcook! The centers of the cookies should be somewhat soft and spongy when you take them out of the oven, otherwise they will end up hard and dry.

I make them a bit smaller than recommended. These are pretty filling and just one small one is enough.

Rob Elshire

Recipe: Baked Lebanese Lamb Meatballs


  • 1 kg ground lamb
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 tbsp mint chopped
  • 2 medium onion chopped
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp black pepper ground
  • 2 tsp salt

Takes . Serves Six servings.

Preheat oven to 200 C degrees.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, using your hands or a wooden spoon. Form the meat into round meatballs ~1/4 cup each.

Place them on a roasting pan lined with baking paper.

Bake them for about 45 minutes to an hour.

These are really easy to make and very tastey. In the picture they were served with a cole slaw and a quinoa salad with olive and pine nuts.

Rob Elshire

Recipe: Second Visit Bickies


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, (softened)
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 ounces dark chocolate bar coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

Takes . Serves 24.

Preheat oven to 180C / 350F

Beat 1st 3 ingredients until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until blended. Sift flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and soda together. Add to butter mixture. Beat until blended. Stir in chocolate and walnuts.

Drop generous 1 tablespoon scoops onto silicon baking mat 2 inches apart.

Bake until golden brown (~18 minutes). Cool on rack for 5 minutes.

Cook's Notes

These are called Second Visit Bickies because I made this version the second time Robyn visited me in Slaterville Springs. She liked them so much that she kept coming back!

They are now a regular feature in the bicky making cycle.

Just recently, we came across a photo of me (and Merlin) making these bickies on that second visit. Legend!

Bicky Baker

Rob Elshire

Recipe: Roast Brocolli (June 2016)


  • 1 small or 1/2 large head brocolli
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive Oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • Jane's (or my Jane's like) seasoned salt
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon juice (fresh)

Takes . Serves 2.

Robyn made this one up!

  • Preheat small oven to 220C with tall rack.
  • Cut brocolli into florets, spread out on oven tray (1 small or 1/2 large head).
  • Mix with olive oil, garlic, and light sprinkle of seasoned salt.
  • Roast 10 minutes
  • Sprinkle with parmesan, Roast 3-4 minute.
  • Squeeze on fresh lemon juice.

Rob Elshire

Recipe: Steak and Onion Pie


  • (Filling)
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 lb (500g) round steak, cut in small pieces
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups diced raw potatoes
  • (Egg Crust)
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten

Takes . Serves 4-6.

This comes from the Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook (1965).


  • Fry onions slowly in melted shortening, until yellow; remove from fat
  • Roll meat in mixture of flour, spices, and seasonings. (Or shake all together in paper bag.) Brown in hot fat.
  • Add water; cover and simmer until meat is tender, about 45 mintues.
  • Add potatoes and cook 10 minutes longer. Pour into 8" greased casserole. Place cooked onions on top and cover with Egg Crust.

Egg Crust:

  • Mix flour and salt. Add half of shortening and cut in until fine as meal. Add remaining shortening and cut until particles are size of large peas.
  • Add egg, mixing thoroughly into a dough. Roll out slightly larger than top of casserole. Make dime-size openings for steam to escape and fit do over top of casserole; fold under pastry edge and flute.
  • Bake in very hot oven (450F/230C.) 30 minutes. Makes 4-6 servings

Rob Elshire

Recipe: Double Good Blueberry Pie


  • Baked 9" pie shell
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 cups blueberries (I use flash frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh)

Takes . Serves Eight.

This comes from the Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook (1965).

  • Combine sugar, cornstarch and ssalt in saucepan. Add water and 2 cups blueberries; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened and clear. (Mixture will be quite thick.)
  • Remove from heat and stir in butter and lemon juice. Cool.
  • Place remaining 2 cups raw (can be still frozen) blueberries in pie shell. Top with cooked berry mixture. Chill.

Rob Elshire

Recipe: Open-Face Pear Pie (Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook)


  • Unbaked 9 inch pastry shell
  • 4 medium size hard bosch pears
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Takes . Serves 8.

Peal, halve and core pears. Place pears cut side down in pie shell with narrow ends toward center.

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in flour, eggs, vanilla and salt. Pour over pears. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Bake in moderate oven (180C) for 45 minutes or until filling is set and slightly browned. Cool on cakerack 1 hour or longer before cutting.

This is Robyn's favorite dessert pie. The recipe is slightly modified from the original to use nutmeg instead of mace. YUM.

Rob Elshire

Recipe: Black Bean Soup


  • 1 pound dried black beans (about 2 cups), rinsed, soaked in 4 quarts of water overnight or 6 hours, drained
  • 1 pound smoked ham shank or hock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped fine (2 cups)
  • 1 medium kumara, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups, chopped)
  • 1 carrot, chopped fine (1/2 cup)
  • celery rib, chopped fine (1/2 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cups chicken stock (add 2 teaspoons of salt if using unsalted stock)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons lime juice (can substitute lemon juice)
  • Salt
  • Garnishes (not optional):
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado, peeled and chopped

Takes . Serves 12.

1 Cook the beans with the ham hock/shank: Place beans and ham shank or hock in a 4-quart, thick-bottomed pot. Add 5 cups water, bay leaves, salt and baking soda. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and let cook 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, until beans are tender. Remove bay leaves.

2 Remove ham shank, cut up ham meat: Remove ham shank or hock from the pot. Cut ham meat away from the bone and cut into small, bite-sized pieces, set aside.

3 Cook onions, celery, carrot, kumara, add spices: While the beans are cooking, heat olive oil in a large 6- to 8-quart thick-bottomed pot on medium high until the oil is hot, but not smoking.

Add the onions, celery, carrot, kumara, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and softened, 10 to 15 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium, add the cumin, chili powder, and garlic, cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

4 Add beans, liquid, molasses, bell pepper to onion mixture: Once the beans are tender, add the beans, their cooking liquid, chicken stock, molasses, and bell pepper to the pot with the onion mixture.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes.

5 Purée a third of the soup: Using an immersion blender, purée about a third of the soup. Or remove about 3 cups of the soup to a blender and purée it, return it to the soup.

6 Serve: Return the reserved ham pieces to the soup to serve. Add 3 tablespoons of lime juice. Adjust seasonings. If on the sweet side, add a bit more lime juice. Add more salt to taste.

Serve with garnishes.

Note that the soup may continue to thicken. If you would like it thinner, just add some water to desired consistency.


I've been making this one for years now. It is hearty, tastey and just awesome in winter. Every year, I make a double batch and freeze portions in quart containers. This meal was accompanied by Robyn's whole meal sourdough bread. Yum!

Originally found here:

Rob Elshire

Recipe: Cinnamon Rolls


  • 1/2 C warm milk
  • 1/4 C white sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 1/8 C melted butter
  • 1/2 ts salt
  • 1 large eggs at room temp (important)
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 T cinnamon
  • 1/8 C softened butter

Serves Nine servings.

Grease a square baking dish.

In a small bowl, stir together the milk, yeast, and sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes, until the yeast is foamy.

Dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, salt, and eggs. Stir in the yeast mixture until combined. Add flour a cup at a time. The mixture will be sticky. Use your hands to roughly knead the mixture, then turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead 4-5 minutes until smooth, sprinkle with more flour if needed, and form into a ball.

Brush a large bowl with oil and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about an hour. In the microwave is a good place.

Preheat oven 200C

Punch down dough and roll out on a floured surface into a 20x7-inch rectangle. Spread butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar to within 1/4 inch of the edges.

Starting at one of the shortest 14 inch end, roll tightly into a log, then slice into 9 rolls. Place the rolls into the greased baking dish cut-side up, cover, and let rise for 1 hour. Place in oven and bake 10-15 minutes.

Rob Elshire

Recipe: Slow-Roast Gochujang Chicken


  • 1 3½–4-lb. whole chicken
  • 1 Tbsp. sea salt, plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 Tbsp. gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 1 ½" piece fresh ginger
  • 1½ lb. baby Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1½" in diameter)
  • 2 limes
  • 2 tsp. honey

Takes . Serves 8-10 servings.

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 150°C. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place on a small rimmed baking sheet. Season 1 3½–4-lb. whole chicken all over with 1 Tbsp. sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper, making sure to season the inside cavity.

Whisk 5 Tbsp. gochujang and ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil in a medium bowl until combined. Finely grate 3 garlic cloves (from one of the heads of garlic) into gochujang oil. Peel 1 ½" piece fresh ginger (a spoon can get the job done), then grate into gochujang oil; whisk to combine.

Cut what’s left of the head of garlic in half crosswise. Repeat with second head of garlic. Stuff 2 garlic halves inside cavity of chicken. Tie legs together with kitchen twine.

Using a pastry brush, brush half of gochujang oil over chicken.

Toss 1½ lb. baby Yukon Gold potatoes and remaining 2 garlic halves and 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in remaining gochujang oil until well coated. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss again to combine.

Arrange potatoes in a roasting pan, scooting them toward edges of pan to make space for chicken. Place garlic halves (cut sides down) in center of roasting pan. Place chicken over garlic—as it roasts, it will infuse the fat (and thus, the potatoes) with flavor. If any potatoes have shimmied their way under the chicken, use tongs to arrange them around it (they won’t cook at the same rate if they’re under the chicken).

Roast chicken and potatoes, turning potatoes once or twice to coat in juices and oil that accumulate in pan, until potatoes are very tender when pressed with the back of a spoon, and chicken skin is deep reddish-golden brown in color, 2½–3 hours. When you wiggle the legs of the chicken, they should feel loose in the joints, meaning the meat is fall-apart tender. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 10–15 minutes.

Meanwhile, use the back of a large spoon or a potato masher to gently smash potatoes in roasting pan, exposing some of their flesh to juices underneath so they can soak them up.

Finish the potatoes: Cut 2 limes in half. Cut 1 half into wedges and set aside. Stir 2 tsp. honey and juice of remaining lime half into potatoes. Taste potatoes and season with more salt if needed.

NOTES: Could have used either a smaller chicken or more potatoes. Cut down on the gochujan a bit as the potatoes were too spicy. Otherwise -- YUM!