Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lying To Children

First they tell us not to spank the kids. Then, we couldn't yell at them for fear of damaging their precious self-esteem-now they want us to stop lying to them.

Apparently, at least according to some researchers in Canada, I'm damaging the parent-child bond with the kiddo by telling him Swedes eat cat sandwiches, etc. What's more, I can't take a think-tank seriously if it is the Journal of Moral Education. That's Onion territory right there.

There's a long-standing tradition of lying to children in my family, and I'm sure my mother would somersault in the grave if I neglected my story-telling duties simply because some psychologist-types think it is a bad idea.

When I was a child, my mother told me that the little old man with the unidentifiable Eastern European accent who owned the five and dime-was a Nazi. She could have left it there, but mummy wasn't given to half-assed storytelling, so she made sure I knew he was a guard at a death camp and he particularly delighted in tossing kids in the ovens. That was Mr. Nazi's favourite sort of day. I always wondered why he sold toys if he hated children so much, but be assured I never so much as looked at the toys. I never asked my mother to buy anything, and I pretty much stood there frozen, half hidden behind her skirt trying to escape the notice of the old Nazi.

I was in my forties by the time it dawned on me one evening that he wasn't a Nazi, and given the neighbourhood it was in, was probably Jewish. Far from being upset that my mother would have lied to me, I roared with laughter, four decades after the fact. Well done, mother. Well done!

Every child should have the opportunity to laugh at their parent's lies years later. I mean, my sister could have waited until our mother was actually buried before spilling the beans that the dog I had when I was ten didn't really run away. I swear, it was like she was holding it in for fifteen years and just had. to. get. it. out. So she did-while we were selecting a casket. Which actually, was kind of awesome.

If you don't lie to your children, how do you get them to stop climbing on furniture and being reckless? I don't know how you do, but I tell him if he hurts his noggin, he has to move to Kansas. So my kid believes that Kansas was set up as a colony for simpletons and dullards with traumatic brain injuries-what's the harm in that? A stern look and quick inquiry of , "Do you want to move to Kansas?" is all it takes to keep him playing safely.

So my child believes the grocery store manager used to be a circus geek, and instead of doing his show on the road, he now sits in back of the meat department biting the heads off live chickens. You never do see chickens for sale with their heads on-do you? You know, circus life is hard work once you hit middle age, and the grocery gig has health benefits.

How was I to keep my kid from pulling boxes out of order at the video store without telling him the owner was a space alien who keeps his giant robot Gort in back to deal with unruly kids? Danny doesn't completely believe this anymore, but I offered him a dollar and a new Matchbox car to run in there yelling "Klatu, Klatu Gort!" but he refuses to do it, so I have to think he still buys it-a little.

If the boy grows up to be middle aged, and still believes drinking water from the bathroom tap will cause him to grow a tail, and that his papa eats the mice he finds in the traps, well then I promise to tell him the truth. If he's forty and still believes that when he lived in my belly he had a rocking chair, a meerschaum pipe, and a book that we could see on the ultrasound-I will finally fess-up. I will, I swear.

Anyone have some fantastic whoppers they were told, or have told that they care to share?

Vegetarian (Meatless) Runza-Like Pastry

Cook the filling
Stick it in the dough

Bake it up all golden.

If you're not from this part of the Midwest, let me give you a crash course in Runzas. They are a cabbage and ground beef filling baked in a very fluffy dough pastry. People really seem to love them, in a somewhat fanatical fashion.

I hate to brag, but what I baked tonight (says my family) is a million times better than any Runza you can buy in a fast-food joint, meatless or not. Danny was somewhat skeptical, but after a couple bites he demolished that pastry down to the remaining crumbs.

The recipe makes a dozen. Using the fake-meat, it is probably best to re-heat them on a baking sheet in the oven rather than microwaving. I don't think they would be very nice cold. Fake-meat has limitations. I do think it could be made with seasoned black beans that have been mushed-up a bit if you really hate the texturised soy stuff. I'm not wild about it myself, but it worked really well for these.

You Will Need:

For the dough:

4 1/2 cups AP flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons granulated yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs

Soften the yeast in the warm water and let proof. In a pan, scald the milk, vegetable shortening and butter. Cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl, combine 1 3/4 cup of the flour with the salt and sugar. Add the cooled milk mixture, the yeast and the eggs. With an electric mixer, beat three minutes on high until blended. By hand (a wooden spoon works well) mix in the remaining flour (You may need more or less) until you have a stiff, but workable dough. Knead well. Place in a buttered bowl and cover. Let rise 1 hour. Make the filling while you wait.

For The Filling:

1 tube Gimme Lean Ground Beef Substitute
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups chopped cabbage
Salt and pepper to taste (the meat substitute is salty, so go easy)

Brown the onions in the oil and butter. Add the meat substitute and break-up well with a spatula. Cook a few minutes until browned. Add the cabbage and cook well until quite soft. Adjust seasonings and remove from heat. Cool slightly before filling pastry.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet (two if they are small)

Divide dough into 12 even pieces. Roll each out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Place a few tablespoons of filling in the centre. Fold and pinch closed. Pierce with a knife to vent and place on baking sheet. Repeat until all are done. Bake 20-30 minutes or until nicely browned and golden. Serve hot.

Mushroom Barley Soup

I let mine cook for a full six hours. You can do this in less time, but you sacrifice the thickening from the barley giving off starch.

You Will Need:

2 quarts rich vegetable broth
1 cup pearl barley, well rinsed and drained
2 bay leaves
8 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 lb. mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas) chopped
A few diced red potatoes

Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid left about an inch ajar for steam to escape. Cook several hours until thick.

Apple Kuchen

Danny selected the recipe (he had to pick a yeast risen one, didn't he?) for this kuchen. It is from the Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, 1966 Vol. A You can see a quicker apple kuchen recipe HERE.

You Will Need:

2 1/4 teaspoons granulated (not instant) yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour (or more-I needed more)
5 large cooking apples
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons raisins

Sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water in a small bowl and let proof. In a saucepan, scald the milk, butter, sugar and salt, stirring until butter is melted and sugar has disolved. Cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl, combine milk mixture, yeast, eggs, and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. beat well. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 40 minutes. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can to make a workable dough. Knead lightly until smooth. Place in a buttered bowl and chill 30 minutes.

Roll out chilled dough and fit into a 9x13 pan that has been generously greased. peel, core and quarter the apples into eighths. Press into the dough. Brush apples and dough with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Scatter with raisins. Cover and let rise until dough springs back when pressed with fingers (about 40 minute).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 30-40 minutes or until golden and apples are soft. Cool before serving.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Injun Summer

The Chicago Tribune used to run this every year in the paper-no idea if they still do. I always enjoyed hearing my mother read it, and tomorrow I will read it to Danny.

Weather permitting, I think we need to go get a few pumpkins tomorrow.

The site that had the Injun Summer link also has Classic Comics scanned-in. How completely fantastic is that? I can remember teachers handing out reading assignments with the warning that we had better read the book-not the comic.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Prune Plum Galette

I made two small galettes rather than a single large one (less chance of a breaking mishap) and both turned out beautifully. The recipe came from Cream Puffs In Venice. I used much more sugar (about 1/4 cup) grated stem ginger, and grated lemon zest. I don't think anything this gorgeous has ever emerged from my kitchen.

If you can still get hold of prune plums where you live, do so-and bake this galette. I still can't get over the fact I baked this.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Said Mr. Eat The Blog

I was trying to remember a recipe that had blood oranges in a recipe with something odd like liquorice when Mr. Eat The Blog asked:

"An odd combination like buttermilk and Kools? Some things just don't go together."

More Fun With Old Cookbooks

I admit to a few giggles at "Fudge Filled Spanish Bun", but the recipe that caught my eye tonight is Fruit Cake Baked In Candied Grapefruit Shells.

I send out fruitcakes every year, and I might consider doing these. I like the idea of the candied grapefruit shells, and it would be an excuse to send out much smaller cakes than the usual three pound monsters. Has anyone actually tried this? I'd love to hear from you. It sounds rather fussy, and the whole steaming, then baking bit has me confused, but it might be worth trying with a very plain recipe first-rather than waste expensive candied fruit.

I'll post the recipe-let me know if you try it.

From The Betty Furness Westinghouse Cookbook, 1954

To Prepare The Grapefruit Shells:

Select perfect grapefruits free from blemishes. Wash and cut slice from the top of each. Remove inside of fruit with a teaspoon being careful not to break the shell. Cover shells with cold, salted water(1 teaspoon salt to each quart water) and bring to a boil. Cook five minutes. Drain, cover again with fresh water and boil five minutes. Repeat process about three more times until bitter flavor is gone and peel is tender, but not tender enough to break apart. Invert shells and drain on a wire rack for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

8 cups water
8 cups sugar
2 cups corn syrup
1 tablespoon glycerin

There must be enough syrup to cover and float the fruit. Cook to about 250 degrees or until it "gives a jelly test" (I imagine she means it sheets from a spoon). Let shells stand in syrup overnight or longer. Reheat and cook ten minutes longer. Cool in syrup until ready to use. Drain before filling with cake mixture. Fill shells about 3/4 full.

To Cook the cakes in shells:

Steam about 1 1/2 hours. This may be done on top of the range, in the oven or in the roaster. After steaming is completed, bake at 300 degrees F. for 1/2 hour or until center of cake is done. Cool. Store in covered container. If it seems dry, place a fresh orange in the container (personally, I'd douse it in brandy, but you know me...). If stored properly it will keep for a year. Serve by slicing through peel crosswise or lengthwise.

Fresh Apple Sorbet

Don't let the awful photo mislead you-this is wonderful sorbet. The colour is the loveliest pink, and the flavour is delicate, yet unmistakably apple. It does not taste like frozen apple juice.

You Will Need:

2 quarts cut-up apples. You need not peel or core, but cut off the blossom and stem ends.
2 cups water
Confectioner's sugar to taste

In a large pot, bring the apples to a simmer and cover. Let cook until fruit is soft. Strain through a jelly bag into a bowl (or layers of cheesecloth in a sieve) and chill.
Remove a small amount of juice (about 1/4 cup) and mix in confectioner's sugar until smooth. Then, add back to the juice. Process in an ice cream maker, or freeze in a metal or glass tray, breaking up with a food processor before serving.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Well, I guess I Won't Be Trying Those

Oh, just go read it.

Sweet Potato Rolls

These are the classic sweet potato rolls from Beard On Bread. I've made these successfully with squash (the frozen stuff in a block, at that) and it works just as well with loaves as with rolls. The only change I made was to use bread flour. This will make the rolls more substantial, which might not be what you're aiming for. If you want feather-light rolls, use AP flour instead (I should also note that squash will produce a lighter bread than sweet potatoes, at least in my experience).

You Will Need:

4 1/2 teaspoons granulated (not instant) yeast (yes, that is quite a bit)
4 tablespoons granulated sugar divided into 3 and 1
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons melted and cooled butter
1 tablespoon salt
3 eggs (2 for the bread and 1 for the wash)
3-4 cups flour (bread or AP)
1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons cream (for the wash)

Combine yeast with 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the warm water and proof 5 minutes. Add to a large bowl along with remaining sugar, butter and salt. Add the eggs and mix well. Add 3 cups of the flour and mix well. Add the potatoes. You want the dough to be soft, but not sticky and Beard suggests being careful of over-kneading it. Personally, I've never found that to be a problem, but he suggests no more than a few minutes of kneading. Add only as much extra flour as is needed to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface.

Place dough in a buttered bowl and let rise until doubled-about 1 hour.

Punch down and let rest a few minutes. Divide into 24 balls and shape into rolls. Place on a buttered baking sheet and let rise again until almost doubled-about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Before baking brush with a wash of 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons cream. Bake 20 minutes or until rolls sound hollow on the bottom. Cool on rack.

German Apple Cake

I made my own brown sugar for this by mixing full-flavoured molasses into cane sugar because I wanted a stronger flavour. If you haven't tried doing this before, add the molasses slowly until you get the strength you are comfortable with. We really like strong molasses, so over-doing it would take considerable effort. I used butter instead of the shortening called for in the recipe and I used coconut instead of chopped nuts for the topping.

The recipe comes from Amish and Mennonite Kitchens, by Pellman and Good

You Will Need:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups raw apples peeled and diced


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 pan

Beat the butter until it is smooth. Add the sugars and beat until light. beat in the eggs. Mix the flour and cinnamon together and mix the baking soda into the buttermilk. Add the ingredients alternating until well combined. Fold in the chopped apples.

Pour into pan and sprinkle with topping. Bake 45-50 minutes or until it tests done. It gets quite dark, so don't be fooled into thinking it is burnt-test it with a toothpick.

Cool in pan.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vegetarian Chili

I made a frighteningly large batch of chili today. Mr. Eat The Blog is working insane hours and I thought it would be easy enough to nuke a bowl in the microwave whenever he gets home. Believe me, I'm not complaining-I know how lucky we are that he has so much work to do.

Lately, I've been cooking in quantity so I can cook once every few days. I am so incredibly fortunate my family will eat leftovers. Actually, those two would eat beans and rice every day for the rest of their lives if I let them. I do get odd requests now and then, like Danny asking if I would make him an apricot soufflé for breakfast and then pouting because I said no. Maybe I shouldn't have laughed quite as hard as I did, but it was awfully funny. Yeah, I'll just go whip up an apricot soufflés while you watch Curious George.

What I did with today's batch was combine white beans I soaked and cooked with black beans from a tin. This solved the problem of the white beans absorbing colour in boiling together. I also used Danny's orange bell pepper he grew in the garden, along with a few store-bought red ones. Carrots, onions, celery and garlic and tomatoes rounded out the vegetables. For spices I combined cumin, coriander, chili powder, cocoa powder, black pepper, thyme, and epazote. I am not going to give amounts as a recipe because how much you use will depend on what you have and how much you need. Have three carrots instead of four? No problem. Want extra peppers? Go for it. You get the idea.

In a very large pot, cook the onions, carrots, celery and peppers in a bit of oil until softened. Add the spices and beans and mix well. Add crushed tomatoes in juice. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then cover leaving room for steam to escape and reduce to a very low simmer. Cook the living daylights out of it for several hours, stirring and adding more water if needed.

I served it with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and cornbread.

Five Spice Apple Chips

These sure did make the house smell nice. While they crisped nicely on the cooling rack, I waited too long to get them into an airtight container, and they ended up losing a bit of crunch. Danny didn't seem to mind.

I can't seem to deal with the camera tonight. You know what apple chips look like. This used up two apples-I still have three bags left to deal with. I think there's some apple juice in my canning future, since it is so easy. Yeah, that's what I'm going to do.

The recipe may be found at the lovely blog of A Crafty Lass.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Concord Grape Mini Pies

I used the last of the Concord grapes to make mini-pies. As I've made them before, you can find the recipe HERE. The one thing I've learned since that post is that Concords don't work well in a food mill. The seeds still break off into tiny shards and you end up with grit in your puree. Better to either squeeze the seeds out by hand, or push it through a sieve with a wooden spoon. Yes, it is more work, but I really find it worth the bother to avoid the grittiness.

So what do you think of my improvised covered cake plate? The picture is pretty bad, but it is a large Pyrex glass bowl inverted on a plate. Genius, I know. And my parents said I was a waste of an education!

Spiced Pear Jam

This recipe used up the last of the pears. I really wanted to make pear butter, but the idea of standing and stirring for that long was simply too much. Instead, I made a pectin-based jam flavoured with allspice, cloves and cinnamon. I knew the recipe would work because I've used it before with peaches, and I have little patience these days for cooking adventures. I scraped 8 half pints from the recipe.

You Will Need:

1 quart finely chopped, peeled cored pears
7 1/2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice (you need bottled juice to be assured of the correct acidity)
1 pouch liquid pectin
In a spice bag (or cheesecloth tied with string) place 1 cinnamon stick, half a teaspoon whole allspice and a teaspoon of whole cloves.

Combine fruit, sugar and lemon in a large pot and bring slowly to a boil stirring constantly until sugar dissolves (or you will have caramel. I like caramel pears, but I don't like sugar burnt to the bottom of my good pot. Just stir, and take my word for it).

Add the spice bag and bring slowly to a boil. When you have reached the boil, add the pectin quickly and for the love of god, keep stirring or that sucker will boil over. Return it to a rolling boil. You want to boil it hard for one minute, but do not take your eyes off it for a second. I don't think Mr. Eat The Blog will come over and clean your sticky stove.

Ladle into sterilised hot jars and fill leaving 1/4 inch headspace. I like to run a small spatula around the inside of jam even though it isn't necessary. Wipe the threads clean with a damp cloth, cover with a heated lid and pop that baby into the canner. Repeat until they are all sitting there simmering away like happy little old age pensioners in a Miami beach hot tub. You'll need to imagine the bathing caps.

Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. Turn off the heat, remove the lid and let cool in canner five minutes longer. Remove carefully to towels on a hard surface. Let cool 12-24 hours before checking seals.

Watching Movies With a Four Year Old

I've been stuck at home more than I'd like of late. I don't really feel well enough to be driving around, and even if I did there would be the worry of feeling weak before driving home. I'm keeping Danny occupied with a varied film study curriculum. You wouldn't imagine there are that many opportunities for expanding your child's education watching say, The Mummy, but in fact, there are. At the very least, Danny now understands that real archaeologists don't sit about in the Egyptian summer heat in ties and sport coats examining perfectly gleaming objects plucked from the tombs only moments before. Then, we talked about how the British Museum led the expeditions and stole all the antiquities from Egypt while Britain was a colonial occupier. Yeah, I'm a real joy to watch a movie with. There's always one like me, isn't there?

I've been trying to stick with what I would consider classics. I realise this would probably be open to debate.

I had to laugh at Danny's reaction to Old Yeller. He enjoyed it, but I really expected him to get choked-up when the dog had to be shot, as I could remember being really upset the first time I saw it. Danny just sort of shrugged and said:

"They had to do it, the dog could have infected the livestock."

Yep, that's pretty much it. I didn't grow up on a farm with livestock, and Danny has. Amazing how matter-of-fact children can be.

Danny was less impressed with The Wolfman, which is sort of understandable. If I found it slow, there's little wonder a four year old did. Creature from The Black Lagoon, was enjoyed (and watched a few times now) as was Night of the Living Dead. We took a break from monster movies to watch The Day the Earth Stood Still, and today we settled in after lunch to view one of my very favourite movies, War of the Worlds. I had Mr. Eat The Blog rent the original, though honestly I thought the remake was pretty good. I wanted to hate it, but viewing it twice now, I have to admit it worked.

I wish we lived in a place where it would get screened occasionally so Danny could have the experience of watching it on something larger than a 12 inch television screen. It still looked great, but I just know the Martians would have been so much more impressive in a theater.

Every time I watch War of the Worlds it strikes me how well the lighting worked-like they hired Thomas Hart Benton and Edward Hoper as colour consultants. The whole film looks like it was inspired by their paintings. Anyone know if that was the goal? Google isn't much help with this theory.

Not surprisingly, Danny loved the movie. I mean, how could you not? As the movie ended I was afforded one of those wonderful glimpses parents sometimes get of how their child will be as an adult. Danny sat there quietly for a good two minutes after the movie ended, just sort of processing it all in his head, before he finally stretched and went in the living room to play, still absorbed in thought. In a modern school setting, this would surely get him scolded-children are expected to quickly transition from one activity to another snapping their attention here and there as though surfing the radio dial. Sometimes, you just aren't ready to put away your scissors and construction paper to have story time. I'm so relieved to know my child is capable of being absorbed in thought. Maybe keeping him away from television for the first three years was worth it.

Now I need to find a copy of Little Shop of Horrors (the local video store doesn't have it-I know, WTF?! How can you not have Little Shop of Horrors?) because Hy-Vee is selling Venus fly traps and I'm exactly the sort of mother that would do that.

Seymour...feed me.....feeeeeed meeeeee.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Concord Grape Jelly and Pear Chutney

The jelly was a two-day process because the juice needs to sit for 24 hours so any crystals will fall out. Cooking it only takes a couple minutes, so it was no big deal to finish it tonight while the boys ate dinner. Then, I sent them out on errands. I don't like people in my kitchen when I'm canning.

Last night, I made the pear chutney-oh goodness, what a sticky mess I had to clean up. It took two hours of sitting and stirring for it to thicken, but in the end twenty pounds of pears gave me a whopping four and a half pints of chutney. Yeah, that's what I think too. We haven't tried it yet, but it darn well had better be good for all that effort. I stood next to the stove a book in one hand, and a spoon in the other, so at least the evening wasn't a complete loss. I'll post the recipe once I know if it tastes like ass or not. Awwww geez, I really just typed that, didn't I? Sometimes, I think I ought to make better use of the backspace key, but then I think better of it and do a little "I gotta be me" thing and end up posting it anyway. Yeah, I don't like pear chutney that tastes like ass. I gotta be me.

I have enough small pears left to preserve in brandy, and about three grocery bags left of apples. I'm inclined to make a large batch of applesauce and freeze it to use later on for baking fruitcakes. I could can it, but since the stuff freezes so well, and I have the space, I hardly see the point. I suppose I'd better leave enough for a strudel or I'll never hear the end of it. I just don't get the strudel thing. I like it, but I can't grasp why people are so fanatical about it.

The Concord ("kon-kerd" if you're actually from Concord, Mass.) grape jelly recipe is HERE.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Starter Food Porn-and chocolate chip cookies!

They do seem to be having fun, don't they?
Oh look, they spelled cookie cups by replacing the letter "c" with a "k". Isn't that klever?
I can't decide if this makes me want to throw-up, or orgasm.

Danny wanted me to bake this for him. I told him perhaps for his Birthday to which he replied:
"You could be dead by then. You should bake it today-just in case."
These are just too adorable, no?I think I actually tried making these as a child and it was a disaster. I probably had to use some freaky egg substitute too.
Funny, I have this strong, sudden urge to shout vile things at foreigners-that almost never happens to me. Fine, fine, here goes:
"Canadians don't know how to brew beer!"
Yeah, that'll show 'em. USA! USA!

I spent hours looking at this book as child, though I knew it was an exercise in futility-mummy wasn't letting me anywhere near the kitchen , and even if she had there wasn't any sugar or real butter to be found. My copy disappeared years ago, so I was more than happy to shell out a couple bucks for a used one. I put it away figuring Danny might enjoy it some day.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that my four year old son is enthralled by this cookbook. I told him when he could read the recipes, we'd try making them. Danny sat down and read the recipe for chocolate chip cookies to me, with accurate measurements (he recognises fractions even if he doesn't completely understand them) and even went as far as telling me to "Omit the nuts mama, because I'm allergic."

O.K. then, I guess we're baking chocolate chip cookies.

The recipe varies only slightly from toll house cookies in the use of part vegetable shortening. I didn't try any, but Danny insists they are better, and I have no reason to doubt it-after all, he made them and read the recipe himself.

You Will Need:

1/3 cup softened vegetable shortening
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package semi-sweet chocolate pieces (we used half white chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool. We got 3 dozen average sized cookies.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Every year I vary it just a bit, here's this year's.

You Will Need:

2 sweet potatoes, diced
6 carrots, chopped
1 cup prunes
Zest of an orange
Juice of an orange
1 tablespoon chopped stem ginger
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup water
Salt to taste

Stick it in a 350 degree oven in a dish with a cover. Bake about an hour or until carrots and potatoes are tender.

Apricot Kugel With Homemade Noodles

I only make this once a year because it is kind of a pain. It is still Danny's favourite, or at least that's what he claims. You can use any broad noodles for this.

For the noodles:

3 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold water
1 cup semolina flour
1-2 cups AP flour

Beat eggs until light. Add water and salt and mix well. Add the semolina and mix well. Work in remaining AP flour until dough is quite stiff. Wrap in clingfilm and let rest 30 minutes before rolling out and cutting. Let dry on a rack for an hour before using.

For the Kugel:

1 1/2 cups broad noodles, cooked and drained
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup full fat (4%) cottage cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup raisins
8 canned apricots, diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine everything and pour into a well-greased casserole. Bake about 1 hour or until top is nicely browned and is no longer wet looking. Serve hot or cold.

Spiced Apples, Apple Chutney, and Maple Apple Jam

Recipes to follow tomorrow when I'm rested.

So, what did you do this weekend?

Apple Raisin Pies

What could be better than two apple pies made with local, unsprayed apples? Not much.

The recipe is simple:

2 crust pie crusts
6-7 cups sliced apples
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
cream and sugar for brushing

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line pie plate and fill with apples and raisins. Mix the sugar, cinnamon, flour and salt together. Stir in the water. Spread mixture over the fruit. Dot with butter, cover with top crust and brush with heavy cream. Sprinkle with sugar. Vent, and bake about 1 hour or until done. Be sure to use a pan beneath to catch the drips as this is a very moist pie.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shanah Tovah

Matzo ball soup
Honey cake

Have a happy and a healthy new year.

I Know Nice People

...and they have apple and pear trees.

I'm still pretty weak, but Mr. Eat The Blog has been saying he wanted to learn how to do basic time like the present, eh? I can sit in the kitchen and do what I do best-supervise. He'll work, I'll supervise. That's really the key to a good marriage, now that I think of it. OK, my marriage anyway...

Chutney, spiced apple rings, brandied pears, maple apple jam...I can't wait.

Mr. Eat The Blog ate a couple of the Red Delicious and noted that he lived in Washington state for years, and never had a good red delicious. I hope he doesn't eat them all before they get to the canner. He wants to send some to his mother so she can try a good red delicious.

Anyway, we really are thankful for all the fruit-thanks, Cheryl.

Chickpea Salad With Tomatoes

Good served warm or at room temperature-even better second day.

You Will Need:

4 cups cooked chickpeas, skins removed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 large tomatoes, skins and seeds removed, chopped
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice

In a large pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onions and garlic over medium heat for a few minutes until the onions soften. Add the spices, chickpeas and tomatoes. Mix well and cook a few more minutes until flavours combine. Remove from heat and sprinkle with lemon juice. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be served over rice as a main dish.


Obviously, you can be neater about rolling and spreading toppings-I don't work neat. I work generous-as in cramming as much chocolate, raisins and jam into these little sweets as possible. I heated and strained a jar of my precious blood orange marmalade for these and it was fantastic. The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan, so you know it will work without a hitch. I love her, I really do. The recipe may be found HERE.


Danny's pepper (his name is "Peppy") was finally ready for picking. He's awfully proud of having grown it from a tiny seed in a peat pot way back in March. Of all the pepper plants, this was the only one that bore fruit. Strange, I know. I'd like to chop Peppy up and cook him in chutney, but I might have a difficult time convincing Danny that Peppy would be happy with some onions and raisins.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Monsters vs. Prime Ministers

Danny is really into monsters at the moment. He's also learning Canadian history. I shouldn't have been too shocked when he asked:

" Stephen Harper vs. Godzilla?"
"Well, what about Stephen Harper vs. King Kong?"
"King Kong."
(Getting frustrated) "Well what about Stephen Harper, Sir John A. and Pierre Trudeau vs. Godzilla?"
"I don't think Mr. Harper would accept their help."
"He would if he were fighting the Hydra. You'd need a few guys for that. Did you know the heads keep growing back?"
"You don't say."
"They do. He'd need help with the Hydra, for sure. Mama? How do you spell Cthulhu?"
"I don't think Harper could handle Cthulhu."

Kind of predictably, I found myself making cardboard templates of various Canadian prime ministers and monsters. Those of you who have been around the blog for a while know what happens when I start making cardboard templates. We all remember the Noam Chomsky cookies, correct? Yeah, that was fun.

As a sort of amusing aside:

I tried using for a decent picture of Trudeau and the first image that came up had him shaking hands with Mao. Another had him with Castro, and yet another was John and Yoko. That's kind of funny because at the time I remember being kind of disgusted that he wasn't radical enough, but I guess Google is proving my memory wrong. I'll bet I have the only kid in Saunders County Nebraska playing with cardboard cut-outs of Canadian prime ministers battling least, I hope I have the only kid in Saunders County Nebraska playing prime ministers vs. monsters.

You watch yourself against that Cthulhu now Mr. Harper...

Why Can't He Just Pick A Simple Costume?

Oh no, not our boy. He wants to be the Creature From the Black Lagoon. I tried talking him into being the kid from the Red Balloon because then I could get by with a turtleneck sweater and a balloon, but no...the kid wants me to sew. Cripes, I'll be sewing scales on a sweat suit for weeks. I still don't know what to do for the mask-maybe more scales on a balaclava? Geez. Last year he went as a combine, complete with corn head and lights-do you have any idea how hard that was to make?

*hanging head in defeated pose*

"Get mama her sewing basket..."

Anyway, if I'm around here less than usual, you know why...because I'm sewing hundreds of freaking scales on a sweat suit for twenty minutes of trick-or-treating.

I still have no idea how I'll make the webbed hands.

Conversations With Mr. Eat The Blog

We see so little of each other lately, that in the rare instances we are together the conversations are even stranger than usual.

Two Saturdays ago, driving in car:

"There's a sequel to the Cars movie being made. That ought to be fun to endure."
"It isn't that I hated the Cars movie, it just would have been a million times better if Wim Wenders had directed it."

Last Saturday:

"Why are children's flap books so stupid? "Bugs are little, just like me", what's that supposed to teach a child?"
"Yeah, someone should do a Kenneth Rexroth flapbook of 100 More Poems From The Chinese. "Bugs are little like a million grains of rice..."

I really ought to carry a tape recorder along on our rides together.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Meatless Shepherd's Pie

Leftovers always taste better in pie crust.

You'd never know that spinach was two days old.
Makw a cheddar pie crust...
Fill it with leftovers and top with roasted tomatoes...
...and some mashed potatoes, of course. Bake it and you have a no-waste dinner, which is great when you just sunk $700.00 dollars into a fifteen year old car with 200,000 miles on it.

Shepherd's pie is a bit of an exaggeration as it contains no mutton and as we know, chickpeas ain't exactly traditional British fare. Still, it is topped with mashed potatoes and has a layer of tomatoes, so there you are.

I did not think the cheddar crust was anything special. Not horrible, but not wonderful either. I think you could find a better recipe for one, so I'll leave the crust to your own devising.

This is really more of a way to use up odds and ends in the fridge than a true recipe. I had potatoes, cooked spinach, and roasted tomatoes. You might have mushrooms and red peppers, or celery or...well, you get the idea.

My mother used to mix strong mustard into her "second day" mashed potatoes and I liked that quite a bit as a child, but I didn't think Danny would go for it. If I were making this with lamb, I think that would be a fantastic addition.

You Will Need:

1 single pie crust, pressed into a pan and chilled
1 tin chickpeas, skins removed
1 block frozen spinach, cooked, drained and squeezed dry
4-5 carrots, finely diced
2 onions, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
4-5 large tomatoes, roasted with olive oil, garlic, rosemary and thyme, skins removed and drained of liquid
4-5 cups fluffy mashed potatoes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large pan, cook the carrots, onions and garlic in a bit of oil until softened. Add the chickpeas, cumin and any salt and pepper you think it needs. Add the spinach and cook until spinach is broken-up throughout. Remove from heat.

Fill the pie crust with the chickpea filling, then layer on the tomatoes and then top with mashed potatoes. I sprinkled mine with paprika for colour, but obviously you don't need to do that. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. and cook about 45 minutes longer or until done.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fun 50's Cookbook

Look what I got at the library sale (among other treasures)

I just love old cookbooks. Let's take a look inside...
...awww, how cute. Wait until the family finds out she's turned little Tommy into meatballs.
Oh. That's really elegant. I have a sister-in-law that I always prepare some sort of gelatin abomination for when she visits (she likes them)...Oh Anne, guess what I'm making for Thanksgiving? can make themselves sandwiches and beers as long as I arrange everything on a platter? Woo hoo! I'm off to play bridge with "the girls." I know Mr. Eat The Blog will be excited with American cheese and beer. I would be.
Except of course when you weren't expecting Dad home for lunch and he finds you in bed with the milkman. I don't think a meat loaf sandwich and lemon pudding will be much help a general rule.

Oh ha, ha, ha.
So they gave you a blender for Christmas. I got a steam cleaner for the carpets, but blenders are nice.
Yeah, he grew up to murder his parents.
Nine year old boys love this shit.

"Tommy had his appendix out.. and I'm cooking it in a pie with some sheep's kidneys for dinner!'

More photos later.