Saturday, December 30, 2006

A New Year's Tradition

The taper candle on the right is older than my daughter. Now I know that is not a common age for a candle, but this one is the last bayberry candle that my grandmother gave me in 1972.

The votive candle on the left is going to be part of a very important ritual that we do every year on New Year's Eve.

My grandmother used to give me a bayberry candle to burn on New Year's Eve. You have to burn the candle continuously from when you light it on New Year's Eve at sunset until it burns itself out.

The candle came with the following poem:

A bayberry candle
When burned to the socket
Brings joy to the house
And gold to the pocket

We can't say we'ver ever gotten all that much "gold", but it is a fun tradition to continue. Now days its hard to get bayberry candles, but I maintain its worth the effort for this.

And of course there is the need for ham, greens, black eyed peas and grits for the New Year's Day dinner......

Happy New Year 'yall!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Doggie Biscuits

and just why should the humans in the house be the only ones that get goodies at Christmas?

We think that the dogs in the house should get a treat too!

This is a really simple recipe, fun to do and our dog (and our daughter's dog too) just loves them.

A single recipe makes 16 LARGE dog bone shaped biscuits (we have big dogs!), and its totally safe for small children too, being all "normal" pantry staples (no bone meal, etc.)

Why not bake up a batch for your dog?

Dog Biscuits

2 1/2 cups flour (I use a combination of whole wheat flour, white flour, corn meal and oatmeal -- as long as it totals this amount -- I've even ground up rice to make flour for these)
1/2 cup non-fat powdered milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
6 Tbls oleo (Crisco is better, peanut butter is better still!)
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1/2 to 2/3 cup water

Mix all the ingredients to form a stiff dough (start with 1/2 cup water, add whatever you need to make the dough come together)

Roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick and cut into desired size pieces (dog bone shaped cookie cutters are available, but if you don't have one, and cookie cutter that makes the right size for your dog will work)

Place biscuits on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Cool completely, store in a dry place.

NOTE: you can also add shredded carrots and parsley flakes to this and use a beef or chicken flavored broth instead of water for the liquid

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fallen Angels -- OR -- the perils of baking at over 6000 feet

Its sad but true.....its a fallen angel.....

Now I have to tell you that when it came out of the oven, it was standing tall and proud, way over the top of the pan ..... but alas, it was not to be

This little disaster was really quite funny too as we could watch it "roll" out of the pan like a ball of jello running downhill

It set off a chorus of "what did I do wrong?" to which I went down the whole check list of dos and don'ts for angel food cake:

grease free bowl -- check
grease free beaters -- check
grease free spatulas -- check
grease free pan -- check
oven at listed temperature -- check
using the high altitude instruction on the package -- check

This is the fifth time since we've lived here that I have tried to make an angel food cake. I've tried from scratch (that was a whole other disaster, best not described!); and from a box, and I have now concluded that at this altitude (as I said, over 6000 feet above sea level) that it just isn't going to happen......{sigh, whimper!}

I can report tho', that it tasted really good as we ate it anyway!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Oh Fudge!

My dad was always the fudge maker when I was a kid. Its one of the few things I remember him cooking.

I also remember that it ALWAYS got poured in a specific pan to cool.

A few years ago, he gave me the pan. I guess its one of the perks of being the oldest child, but I admit I accepted it with mixed feelings -- its not always easy feeling like the mantle of being the oldest generation is being passed to you.

Anyway, I don't always make my dad's recipe for the original fudge, but ever since I've had it, this is the pan the fudge gets poured into.

So, for today's recipe, I give you 3 different recipes for fudge, 2 of which came from my dad. You can try them all!

Gpa's Original Fudge

4 cups sugar
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
3 Tbls unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbls butter

In a heavy sauce pan, combine sugar, milk and cocoa powder.
Bring to a boil and cook to soft ball stage (234 degrees), stirring constantly
Add the butter to the pan and boil hard for 1 minute
Remove from heat, beat in vanilla and continue to beat until candy starts to set
Spread candy in pan and let cool
Cut into small squares and store in a dry place

NOTE: dad also did this as vanilla fudge (just leave out the cocoa), and peanut butter (add the peanut butter with the butter)

Gpa's Quick Fudge

2 packages (6 ounce each) chocolate chips (dad likes milk chocolate, I prefer dark)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
1 1/2 Tbls vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

In the top of a double boiler melt the chocolate chips.
When melted add the milk and blend completely.
Remove from heat, beat in vanilla
Fold in nuts and pour into pan, chill for 2 hoursl
When cool, cut into squares and store in a dry place

Marshmallow Fudge

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
12 ounces semi sweet chocolate (baking squares or chips)
7 ounces marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, butter and milk in a heavy pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly
Continue stirring and simmering until mixture reaches 234 degrees (soft ball stage)
Remove from heat, stir in chocolate and stir until melted
Add vanilla and marshmallow creme, mix until smooth
Pour into pan, cool
Cut into squares and store in a dry place

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I know, I've been remiss about posting here the past week. I've been busy getting ready for Christmas, etc., etc., and well, I just haven't gotten here!

Before I posted the recipe for the Cottage Cheese Cookies a bit ago, I made a call to my mother because I was confused.

Back when we were doing all this lovely baking, I remembered the Cottage Cheese Cookies, but I also remembered this recipe, which involves frosting, and I had the two combined in my mind....just shows you what time does to the brain!!

Anyway, it turned out that I didn't even have a copy of this recipe, so my mother obligingly copied it (and several others, to be discussed later) and mailed it to me. Yeah mom!

Anyway, this is a Swedish recipe that translates (loosely) to "Cream Wafers", and since it has egg yolks and heavy cream, you might as well go "whole hog" and use butter in them too!

Pariserwafier (Cream Wafers)

For the Wafers:
1 cup soft butter or oleo
1/3 cup cream (35% butterfat) -- don't skimp!
2 cups flour
granulated sugar for 'coating'

For the Filling:
1/4 cup soft butter or oleo
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
red and green food color

To make wafers:
Mix 1 cup butter, the cream and the flour until well blended.
Chill for 30 to 60 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out 1/3 of the dough 1/8 inch thick on floured board (keep the rest of the dough refridgerated as you work with each section).
Cut rounds of 1 1/2 inches (or smaller!)
Coat each round in granulated sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet, prick tops with a fork.
Bake for 7 to 9 minutes -- don't overbrown.
Cool and fill.

To make filling:
Beat together 1/4 cup butter, the sifted powdered sugar, the egg yolk and the vanilla until smooth.
Divide filling in half and color each half (one red, one green)
Place a small amount of filling on half of the wafers and top with the other half.

This recipe makes about 5 dozen 1 1/2 inch round "sandwich" cookies.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Mom's Fruit Cake

No, I didn't say mom IS a fruit cake! For the most part, I don't like fruit cake. There's just something wrong about eating the peel of the fruit to me (you know, candied orange peel and all that).

This fruit cake, however is full of wonderful stuff. Its really easy to make (once you get through papering the pans). In fact, the only down side to it is the cost of the ingredients. But just once in your life you should taste really good fruit cake, and this is it!

Note: Read through the entire recipe before beginning. This works best if the ingredients have be allowed to stand at room temperature for an hour before you start.

Added note:  this recipe makes a lot of fruit cake --- one large loaf and 5 small ones --- the adjustments to make half a recipe are included below in red

1 1/2 (3/4) pounds pitted dates
1 (1/2) pound candied pineapple
1 (1/2) pound whole candied cherries (some for garnish)
2 (1)cups sifted flour
2 (1) tsp baking powder
1/2 (1/4) tsp salt
4 (2) eggs (1 (1/2) cup egg substitute)
1 (1/2) cup sugar
2 (1) pounds pecan halves (some for garnish)
white corn syrup

Use two 9 inch by 5 inch by 3 inch loaf pans OR two 9 inch spring form pans OR one of each size OR four small loaf pans.

Grease pans well with butter or shortening, line bottoms and sides with brown paper (or parchment paper) cut to fit, then grease the paper.

Set oven to 275 degrees

Cut the dates and pineapple into coarse pieces.

In a large bowl (I use a BIG stainless steel one), mix dates, pineapple and cherries (reserve a few cherries for garnish).

Sift salt, baking powder and flour together. Sift flour mixture onto fruit mixture.

Using your hands, mix flour mixture into fruit to coat each piece of fruit with the flour.

Beat eggs until frothy. Gradually beat in the sugar until well mixed.

Add eggs to fruit mixture, mix well with large spoon (I use a wood one).

Add nuts (reserve a few for garnish) and mix until nuts are evenly distributed and coated with batter.

Pack mixture into pans, press it down firmly to make sure there are no empty spaces.

Decorate the tops with cherries and pecan halves.

Bake: loaf pan for 1 1/2 hours, springform for 1 1/4 hours, little loaves for 1 hour. Tops of cakes, where batter is visible should look dry but not be brown. If you aren't sure its done, give it a little more time, a little over baking will not hurt.

Remove from oven and let cool on rake for about 5 minutes. Turn out of pans and remove the paper.

Turn loaves right side up and brush with corn syrup to glaze. Cool completely.

To store, wrap loosely in foil and store airtight in a cool place. Stored this way, the cakes will last several weeks. If well wrapped and frozen they will keep indefinitely.

Have fun! Remember, fruit cake is a Christmas tradition, but you won't want to throw this one.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Cottage Cheese Sandwich Cookies

I can just see all of you know thinking, "cottage cheese? in cookies?"

Consider this idea -- cream cheese is sort of the same thing, only firmer and all in one block!

And so, keep an open mind and give these a try, I promise you'll be glad you did.

Cottage Cheese Sandwich Cookies

2 cup cottage cheese
3/4 cup oleo/butter (Crisco sticks)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup thick preserves (flavor of your choice)
powdered sugar for "dusting"

Put cottage cheese through a sieve.

Cream oleo and cheese together.

Mix flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture a little at a time, mixing thoroughly.

Roll dough out (use a lightly floured surface) to 1/4 inch thick.

Cut into 2 inch rounds. Place half of the rounds on an ungreased cookie sheet at least 1/2 inch apart. Put 1/2 tsp of preserves in the center of each cookie. Cover with additional cookie rounds and seal the edges with your fingers or a fork.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove to racks, sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm.

Makes 4 dozen.

NOTE: these are even prettier if the top rounds have a smaller opening cut in the center to let the preserves show through. If you do them this way there will probably be enough dough to make a few extras.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


These little gems are wonderful. There's only one really important thing to note before you start mixing.....there doesn't seem to be any sort of substitution for anything that is satisfactory, so just know these are the "high test" stuff, real butter, high fat cream cheese. But the are amazing on the tongue.

These are a 2 day do---mix up the dough the night before and do the baking the next day.


1 cup butter (2 sticks)
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups sifted flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbls cinnamon

Day one:
Cream butter, cream cheese and salt until smooth and light. Mix in flour.

Shape the dough into 14 balls. Cover and chill overnight.

Day two:
Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix nuts, sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball out into a 6 inch circle. Cut the circle into quarters.

Drop a teaspoon full of the nut mixture on each quarter circle. Pinch edges together and form into cresents on ungreased cookie sheets (parchment paper works great).

Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Gma's Stocking Cookies

Continuing on with some of my mom's classic Christmas cookie recipes.

I remember making these at the same time we made the Candy Cane ones, since the whole process was like playing with clay.

This is another of those recipes that doubles nicely.

Christmas Stockings

1 cup shortening
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp almond
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red or green food color (or both)
2 1/4 cups flour
candied cherries, quartered
1/4 cup nut pieces
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Cream shortening, sugar, vanilla and almond. If you are doing only one color socks, mix in food color here too.

Blend in flour and salt.

If you want 2 color socks, divide dough in half and mix each food color into half of the dough.

Chill the dough for 1 hour.

To make cookies: use 1 tbls of dough and pat out into a rectangle about 3 inches by 1 1/2 inches. Down the center of the dough place cherries or nuts or chocolate chips. Roll dough into log shape.

Place cookies on ungreased pan and shape into sock shape.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool on racks.

If desired, frost tops and toes with Easy Icing (see gingerbread post for recipe).

Makes about 3 dozen.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Gma's Candy Cane Cookies

When I was a kid, my mom used to go all out at Christmas. There was lots of baking and decorating.

This recipe was one of my favorites, and my daughter has always enjoyed it too. Its a lot of fun to do without being difficult, so as soon as your kids have a long enough attention span to work with you in the kitchen, this one is great.

The recipe makes about 4 dozen, and it doubles well.

Candy Cane Cookies

1 cup soft shortening (can't beat butter flavored Crisco sticks here!)
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 egg (or use egg substitute)
1 1/2 tsp almond
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red food color (or more if you want really red looking canes)

Candy sprinkle: 1/2 cup crushed peppermint stick candy (a good use for broken canes from the decorating!) mixed well with 1/2 cup sugar

Cream shortening, sugar, eggs, almond and vanilla until smooth.

Sift flour and salt together. Add to creamed ingredients and mix well.

Divide dough in half. Mix the red food color with half of the dough.

To make cookies:
Roll 1 tsp of each color dough into a strip (remember clay "snakes") about 4 inches long. Lay a strip of each color side by side, press together lightly and twist like a candy cane. On an ungreased cookie sheet (parchment paper is wonderful), shape twist like a cane. (Note: do these one at a time. If you try to roll all the strips first and then form, the dough dries out too much and breaks.)

Bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes or until lightly browned (don't over brown!).

Remove from pan and sprinkle with peppermint and sugar mixture while still warm.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Amma's Gingerbread Cookies

Today's recipe comes with a neat family story.

First off, who's Amma? When my daughter was a baby, this wonderful woman took care of her, and this is the name that my daughter gave her. Along the way, our two families sort of "adopted" each other, giving us more sisters/brothers/cousins and a lot of fun and love along the way.

And so, about the cookies. When Amma and her husband were raising their kids, there wasn't a lot of extra money for Christmas ornaments, so she made gingerbread cookies, decorated them with frosting and hung them on the tree. This was such a hit that she continued to do them every year and has added "family members" far and wide, not only by her children getting married and having their own families, but a lot of other "adopted" family too.

Each year we look forward to the box that arrives at our door step now that we live far away from Amma. We hang gingerbread cookies on our tree too! This year's box was extra special....Amma even included a cookie for our daughter's new fiance!

And so, here is the recipe for the cookies, and one for frosting to decorate them with. (Note: this recipe makes about 6 dozen 2 1/2 inch cookies, but it doubles quite well)

Amma's Gingerbread Cookies

1 cup molasses
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp soda
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ginger

Heat molasses to just boiling, remove from heat to mixing bowl.

Stir in shortening and soda and mix well.

Shift together the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger. Add gradually to molasses mixture and blend until it forms a stiff dough.

Chill for 30 minutes (not longer than this or its too hard to roll these out). Roll very thin -- about 1/16 of a inch thick. Cut out cookies into desired shapes.

Place on lightly greased (using cooking spray is easiest way) baking sheet.

Back at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, until set. DO NOT OVERBAKE (they will taste bitter if you do).

Cool on racks, decorate as desired.

Easy Icing

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp cream OR 3/4 tbsp water

Mix well, divide into seperate bowls for different colors and add food colors of choice.

To make piping bags to decorate with, put frostings in zip top sandwich bags and snip off a tiny corner to make an opening to squeeze the frosting through.

I'd love to see some pictures of your version!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Lori's Sugar Cookies

these are some of the best sugar cookies I have ever fact, they are so good I can eat about a dozen of them in one sitting, which is probably WAY too many!!

There's something special about sugar cookies and milk.....yummy, and they can be cut into shapes to fit any occasion during the year. Cookie cutters are something that have been handed down from generation to generation in our family (my daughter is eagerly awaiting her chance to use the ones that were my grandmother's!).

If you have a good mixer with a large bowl, this recipe can be doubled. To help you with this process, I have included those measurements along with the recipe.

Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup soft shortening (1 1/2 cup) (I prefer butter flavored Crisco sticks)
1 cup sugar (2 cups)
2 eggs (4 ) (using egg substitute works well here)
1/2 tsp vanilla (1 tsp)
2 1/2 cups sifted flour (5 cups)
1 tsp baking powder (2 tsp)
1 tsp salt (2 tsp)

Cream together shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, add to creamed mixture a little at a time and combine well.

Chill dough for at least 1 hour.

Roll out 1/8 inch thick and cut into desired shapes. Place on ungreased baking sheets. (I use a silpat or parchment paper).

Sprinkle with sugar or other cookie decorations if desired (leave off sugar if you are going to frost these).

Bake at 400 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes. Cool on racks (or like grandma did, on brown paper bags cut and laid out flat).

The nice thing about this dough too is that if you don't have a cookie cutter that is the shape you want to make, you can lay a paper outline on top of the dough and cut around it with the tip of a small knife to get whatever shap you want.

These are great with decorated with colored frostings (sort of like gingerbread men).

Friday, November 24, 2006

Nick's Cranberry Pear Pie

Believe it or not, this is a recipe!

Written on the back of an envelope with purple ink, it is basically a list of ingredients and the baking times and temperatures.

The day this recipe was being discussed on the radio, Nick was in traffic on the highway to work, which explains the odd writing surface, but it has come to be a holiday favorite.

So, just in case you can't decifer the photo (yeah, right!), here is the recipe:

Cranberry Pear Pie

1 recipe pie crust for 2 crust pie (we have very successfully used the premade pie dough that you just roll out and put in the pan)

1 cup sugar
3 heaping tablespoons instant tapioca
5 small or 3 medium Bosc pears
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup walnut pieces (optional, we usually leave these out)

Peel, core and slice the pears.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients and coat fruit with sugar and tapioca.

Spread fruit mixture evenly in pie crust, top with second crust and crimp.

Place in oven preheated to 425 degrees and bake for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additonal 20 minutes. (I usually put a piece of foil on the shelf below the shelf the pie is on just in case it bubbles over the crust)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The shopping list

As promised, I have compiled a list of the needed ingredients for an assortment of the Christmas baking projects. I may have missed an item or two, but this gives you a good start, and you may want to break up the shopping if you get paid more than once a month!

The following are items you may already have on hand:

baking soda
almond flavoring
cream of tarter
corn syrup (light)
red food color
green food color
canola oil
baking powder
ground cloves
ground ginger
ground allspice
rolled oats (NOT instant oatmeal)

Shopping list:

thick preserves in a flavor of your choice
1 box vanilla wafers
1 can sweetened condensed milk
crystallized ginger
2 dozen eggs
5 pounds granulated sugar
1 pound brown sugar (light or dark)
10 pounds all purpose flour
5 1/2 pounds shelled pecans
2 pounds dark chocolate chips (or milk chocolate if you don't like dark)
2 packages butter flavored Crisco stick shortening (NO transfat in this!!)
1 pound powdered sugar
1 pound butter (some recipes won't tolerate substituting the shortening)
8 ounces cream cheese
1 pound cottage cheese
12 ounces milk chocolate chips
10 ounces white chocolate chips
1 pound fruit flavored gum drops (NO black ones!)
1 pound whole candied cherries
1 pound shelled walnuts
1 pound candied pineapple
2 pounds dates

I promise, even the odd sounding ingredients (cottage cheese??) will be needed in the next few days worth of recipes!

Now go check out your cupboards and get ready to shop and bake.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mammy's Swedish Tea Cakes

Over the next week or two I'm going to try to get a lot of the family favorite Christmas cookie and candy recipes out here.

We used to do a lot of baking between Thanksgiving and Christmas to give away to friends and family. In fact, Thanksgiving Day was usually the day we would pull out the recipe tin and make the shopping list of the special ingredients that would be needed to get us through the "baking season". So, I will try to come up with that list for tomorrow's blog, but meantime, this recipe to get you started thinking about the project.

I remember my grandmother making these. She always call them Swedish Tea Cakes, but I've also heard them called Mexican Wedding Cakes, so you can take your choice of which ethnicity you want to use!

This is a really easy recipe, just requires a few ingredients, and a little time for the baking.

I've not found any real good way to make these "healthy", but since they are small, if you can exercise some self-control, you can still enjoy them!

Mammy's Swedish Tea Cakes

1 cup butter at room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar plus more for rolling cookies in
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¾ cups flour
1 cup ground pecans

Cream butter and sugar until smooth.

Add vanilla and mix well.

Add flour a little at a time and blend well.

Fold in nuts with a spatula.

Roll small balls of dough (about 1 tablespoon each) and place on parchment paper or silpat about 1 inch apart.

Bake at 275 degrees for 45 minutes (be careful not to let them brown very much).

As soon as they come out of the oven, roll them in powdered sugar.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


The holidays are coming which has set me thinking about the traditions that families create just by repeating something they like.

When I was a kid, there was a local grocery store that made a sweet roll that we only got rarely, and usually for some special occasion, like breakfast for a holiday morning.

Many years ago, when the store went out of business, my mom was given the recipe by the gal in the bakery.

The exact recipe follows with my suggestions for making it healthier.


2 sticks soft oleo (butter flavored Crisco has no transfat)
6 oz cream cheese (try the low fat kind)
2 cups flour
jam of your choice for centers

Cream together the oleo and cream cheese until well blended and smooth.

Add flour 1/2 cup at a time and blend well.

Cover dough and chill for 1 hour.

Roll dough out 1/4 inch thick and cut in rounds. In half of the rounds cut a circle out of the center (like a donut).

Place on ungreased baking sheet (use a silpat or parchment). Put donut shaped piece on top of each round. Put 1 teaspoon jam of choice in the center of each hole.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes until bottoms are lightly browned.

Cool on a rack.


Hope you enjoy these

Note added: I made a batch of these, and got 17 ... probably should have gotten 18, but my rolling was a bit uneven. I used my "low fat/cholesterol" ingredient suggestions as given.

For those interested in this information, here is the nutritional "label" for each one (arrived at by adding up the information for each ingredient and dividing by 17):
Calories 193, Fat 14 g, Cholesterol 7 mg, Carbs 16 g

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mammy's Spiced Tea

Spending 2 days at a recent craft show reminded me of a lovely beverage that my grandmother used to mix up for us.

Since I always enjoyed this stuff in the cold weather, I thought I'd share it.

While the recipe gives specific cup measurements, I clearly remember her just sort of dumping in the whole container if the measurement was close....

Mammy's Spiced Tea

1 1/2 cups instant tea powder
2 cups orange Tang
1 (3-ounce) package lemonade mix
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all ingredients until well blended. Store mix in an airtight container.

To make 1 cup of spiced tea: Place 2 teaspoons tea mix in a cup, add boiling water, stir and enjoy!


Monday, October 30, 2006

Gpa's Chili

This recipe is the creation of my dad, and has been variously "tinkered" with by him for years.

I kept asking for the recipe, and finally one day when he was putting it together, my mom sat in the kitchen and wrote it down as he went.

Just a few notes about the ingredients: Kuner's is a mountain region brand, and I'm guessing that any brand would do if this one isn't available. An institutional can is one of those great big ones that you can get at some of the grocery stories and at Walmart, at least in our area.

Dad uses a canning kettle to cook this in, and the only warning here is, don't turn up the heat too high or you'll burn the bottom, which is not all that tasty!

So here's the recipe:

Gpa’s Chili

1 pound ground pork
5 pounds hamburger
Kuner’s Chili Beans in chili sauce 6 pound 12 ounce can (institutional size)
Kuner’s Dark Red Kidney beans 6 pound 12 ounce can (institutional size)
46 ounce can tomato juice
2 medium mild onions, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbls salt
½ cup ketchup
3 tbls sugar
1 tbls chili powder

In 18 quart kettle, scramble cook ground pork until it begins to loose red color.

Add ground beef and onions. Cook until meat is done but not browned and onions are transparent.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Rinse cans with a little water and add to pot too.

Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer and cook for at least 2 hours.

This freezes really well, and reheats in a jiffy either in the microwave or on the stove.

Aside from just eating this yummy stuff with shredded cheese on top and some oyster crackers, we've also used it in these ways:

mixed with left over macaroni and cheese for chili mac
rolled in a tortilla for a quickie burrito
poured over tortilla chips, topped with cheese and heated for mealtime nachos

There are probably more ideas out there, how about sharing yours?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween meals

Now aren't these some cute cats!?

Halloween has never been a really big deal for us. We occasionally went all out for the effect of a costume (these pictures from a LOOOOOONNNNNG time ago are an example), but we never were into the "scare yourself silly" mode.

Dinner on those trick or treat evenings were always something pretty easy, so here are some suggestions:

Home made chili with crackers (in the near future I'll be putting up the recipe for gpa's chili which can be made ahead and just heated up on the big night)

Hamburgers and french fries (this was a favorite of our good friend June)

Toasted cheese sandwiches

Of course on halloween there is no need for desert, there will be plenty of candy later.

Here are some safety tips for the occasion too:

* face painting is WAY safer than masks, and a lot of fun to do
* be careful of overly long costumes or costumes with trailing pieces, they require more care when walking
* always trick or treat with a buddy
* carry a flash light for safely getting down uneven sidewalks and across streets
* if there is something about a house that feels too creepy, just walk on by
* always let mom and dad check out the candy before you eat it

The best costume I remember from when I was a kid was the year my dad made us up into hobos....we wore jeans and jackets, but he somehow knew how to make the coolest beard stubble on us girls that I've ever seen.....he rubbed cold cream on our faces then pressed used coffee grounds into it.....WAY COOL DAD!!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Gma’s Banana Nut Bread and Cream Cheese Topping

Perhaps this should be titled “When life gives you over ripe bananas, make banana bread”!

We participate in a food program called Shares, and this month’s package included bananas. Now I should clarify how we eat bananas at our house. We buy bananas in a quantity that we can eat in one day, and we like them to still be green at the stem end, so when we get a batch that looks like these, there’s only one thing to do…..

Turn them into banana bread! The batch of bananas shown was enough for a double recipe, or two loaves.

My mom used to make this when I was a kid, and I’ve yet to find a recipe that I like any better. She used to serve it for desert with the cream cheese topping – yummy! I think this would even make a good breakfast.

As always, the “healthy” alternatives are in parenthesis in the ingredient list.

Banana Nut Bread

1 cup sugar (or ½ cup sugar and ½ cup Splenda)
2 tbls shortening (canola oil works well)
1 egg (or ¼ cup egg substitute)
¾ cup milk
1 cup mashed bananas (they are ready when you can cut off the stem and squeeze the banana out like toothpaste)
3 cups flour
3 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¾ cup nuts, chopped (we used walnuts, these are not required)

Mix sugar, shortening and egg thoroughly. Stir in the milk and bananas until smooth.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together and add to batter a little at a time, stirring well each time.

Fold in nuts.

Pour into greased 9x5x3 (loaf) pan and let stand for 20 minutes before baking (it will rise).

Bake at 350 degrees for 70 minutes. Turn out of pan onto rack for cooling.

Serve with cream cheese topping (recipe follows).

Cream Cheese Topping (also called “Hard Sauce”)

6 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
5 tbls cream (or milk)
½ tsp almond extract

Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until fluffy.

Add sugar gradually, beating after each addition.

Add milk and almond and beat until smooth.

Cover and chill thoroughly.

Serve over sliced banana bread (or any other sweet bread).

I’ve never really known why mom called the topping Hard Sauce, since it’s so easy to make. Maybe just hard to keep us kids out of!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Mom's Waffles

Well, it seems that while we're on the subject of breakfast, that waffles are a logical next recipe.

I like waffles, but don't bring me any of those things that come out of the freezer at the grocery store and go into the toaster, and I don't want any limp weak sister variety either!

So the most important thing about getting good waffles is getting a good waffle iron, and to me that means one that is HEAVY and gets really HOT!

I've owned several waffle irons over the years, and the best one was the used one my mother gave me. Unfortunately, these things don't last forever, and I've had a couple of mediocre ones since. The latest one is pretty good.

This waffle recipe has been developed by years of taste testing in our family kitchen. This was always a weekend breakfast because during the week (when my husband and I had to be at work by 7:30 am) there just wasn't time. Besides, waffles deserve the luxury of the extra time.

I have given here the full size recipe which makes 5 full sized waffles. Because for us that would mean at least one left over, and the dog really doesn't need them, I have included in parentheses the measurements for a half batch. I have also included the alternate "healthy" ingredients, but you just can not do these without real eggs.

Mom's Waffles

3 (2) eggs, separated
1 1/2 (3/4) cup milk (2% works fine)
1 (1/2) tsp vanilla
3 (1 1/2) tsp sugar (1 tsp of Splenda)
4 (2) tbls melted butter (canola oil works great)
1 3/4 (7/8) cup flour
2 (1) tsp baking powder
1/2 (1/4) tsp salt

Plug in the waffle iron to preheat.

In one dish (I use a 4 cup glass measuring cup), mix flour, baking powder and salt to combine.

In a second dish, whisk together milk, vanilla, sugar, butter and the egg yolks.

Beat egg whites to firm peaks (I use a hand mixer).

Using the mixer, beat the liquid ingredients into the dry ones until well combined. Use a spatula to fold the egg whites into the batter.

I spray the waffle iron with a non-stick cooking spray before I cook the first one, and usually that one gets fed to the dog because I didn't let the iron get hot enough or it sticks. Its just part of the waffle tradition!

We eat these at breakfast and use real maple syrup (it costs more, but we use less because it actually tastes like something!).

I remember as a child eating waffles for dinner with creamed tuna or chipped beef over them. If you want to have a go at that, leave out the sugar and the vanilla.

Enjoy the crunch!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Nick’s Healthy Oatmeal Muffins

Since we seem to have begun with breakfast foods, I thought I’d share the recipe that my husband has developed for some really tasty oatmeal muffins.

We have some very interesting food challenges at our house, trying to cook to cut sugar and cholesterol, so this recipe has been variously “tweaked” to make it much healthier than the original was.

The result is a really great tasting breakfast treat that you can eat without guilt! Just to give you all the possibilities, I have included the “straight” recipe and the “healthy” alternatives.

Healthy Oatmeal Muffins

1 egg or ¼ cup egg substitute
½ cup brown sugar or date sugar
1 cup rolled oats (NOT instant)
1 cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup vegetable oil or ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup dried fruit (blueberries, cranberries, raisins)
½ cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare 12 muffin cups by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.

Beat egg, buttermilk and vanilla, add sugar and oats and let stand to soak.

Combine flour, soda, salt, baking powder and cinnamon to mix well. Add dry ingredients to oatmeal mixture and stir to moisten.

Fold in fruit and nuts.

Spoon batter into muffin tin, bake 12 to 14 minutes (depending on your oven this may take as long as 20 minutes).

Our favorite combination is dried blueberries and pecans, so we'd love to hear what your favorite combo is!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Pappy's Puff Pancakes

Hattie’s Kitchen is an imaginary place inside this house.

The basis of this drawing was a photograph which my mother took in the late 1940s. She was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri, and the photo was of the last house they lived in there.

The influences of my family’s southern cooking and having lived in California, Utah and Colorado has had an impact on what are favorite recipes at our house, but this imagined safe place was the beginning of the cookbook.

As I write this, it is Sunday morning, and I’m thinking about the Sunday’s of my childhood.

I spent a lot of weekends with my maternal grandparents. For some reason that I can’t even remember, we called them Mammy and Pappy. They were the source of a lot of my learning about the skills that are being lost today.

This skillet belonged to them, and came to me after my grandmother had a stroke and they went to live with my aunt in Tennessee.

Sunday morning, while Mammy got my sister and me ready for church, Pappy made breakfast. It is the only meal I remember him ever cooking, so having his recipe for this signature meal is pretty amazing. That this copy is actually in his handwriting is an even more special treasure.

Pappy’s Puff Pancakes

2 cups self-rising flour – spooned into cup
1 slightly heaping teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ to 1 2/3 cups milk
2 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon bacon drippings

Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in bowl.
Mix the milk, egg yolks and bacon drippings, add to dry ingredients and mix
Beat egg whites fairly stiffly and mix into the batter
Grease skillet with bacon drippings and bake pancakes on medium heat

Now I know these are probably not “heart healthy”, but I do remember the Sunday ritual, and I’m convinced that even today having these once in a while wouldn’t hurt you too much.

I can remember the sound of the rotary egg beater as the egg whites were whipped, and the delightful crunch of the outside browned edge of these wonderful tasting breakfast treats.

I’m sure they wouldn’t taste the same with any other kind of oil added, so be brave and fry some bacon ahead of time to use those drippings. After all, you won’t need to add any butter to them once they are cooked. Since no one else has “The Skillet” you’ll need to make do with your own heavy pan--try to stay away from Teflon though, the texture won’t be the same.

So I’m hoping someone will give these a try and let me know what you think!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Welcome to Hattie's Kitchen!

Just when it seemed I had enough projects going on, this one has returned, and just won't leave me alone, so I'm going to try it in this format for now at least.

The idea for Hattie's Kitchen has been floating around for several years at our house, and now that my daughter will be getting married soon, I have a little extra "boost" to get it going.

I have acquired over the years a lot of recipes from family members, and the original idea was to put them together in a notebook or something similar to keep them organized. After thinking about that for a while, I felt that there should be something more to it than just the recipes. After all, I'm sure that some of them will be very similar to recipes that are available from other sources, but what is important about these is the story behind each one: who did each come from? how did it come to be a favorite?

So each recipe will be accompanied by a bit of a story about where it came from and when it was added to the recipe box.

You as readers are invited to try these out and give me some feedback. If you have any favorite recipes that you have stories to go with, I invite you to share them as well.

So now its time to tie on our aprons and head to the kitchen, please join me!