Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The First Country Wife Cookbook Story

When our children began to get out of little childhood, we began giving them even more responsibility.  When J was 12 years old his father hurt is back on a wood project so J took over Dad's part of the cow chores, learning to milk with the milking machine. I did the morning milking and he did the evening milking.  I had always done the morning milking since I could go to work a little later than Dad.

When the children began to get into their teens, it was obvious that they were old enough to use the stove, the oven, and the pantry to support their eating habits.  SO I decided to write up a simple cookbook of the easiest foods we ate.  I formatted it and printed out a copy for the kitchen which became tomato sauce spattered almost  immediately and tattered and torn.  Because it was not fancy at all, and because it was on the computer, I was able to print out a new copy at will.

Later on as new recipes came to be popular, I added those recipes and eventually had quite a few recipes.

The first recipes in the cookbook was:

In a large mixer bowl combine:

1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal, uncooked
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oleo or butter. (at some point we stopped using oleomargarine altogether and when we needed fat in a recipe, just used butter)
1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Combine well until all crumbs are about the same size and uniform in color. In 9 x 13 pan place sliced apples-about 10-15 apples cored and peeled. The apples should come up almost to the top of the pan. Now put the apple slices in a very large bowl and sprinkle over the apples 2/3 cup white sugar and 1 Tablespoon cinnamon. Mix all together with your hands until all the apples are well coated with the cinnamon/ sugar mixture. Feel free to lick your fingers after putting the apples in the 9 by 13 pan.  

Once the apples are coated and in the pan,  sprinkle the "crisp" on top of the apples as uniformly as possible.  Bake in 350 degree F. oven for 35-45 minutes.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Roasted Carrots

Carrots have always been one of my favorite foods.  I think the real reason is that the first time I was really aware of carrots as a young child was when Uncle Lewie was in the service and needed to improve his night vision so he was instructed to eat lots of carrots.  Ever since then I have had a love affair with carrots.

Most recently I have loved roasted carrots.

Roasted Carrots

Wash and cut into sticks a couple of pounds of carrots.  Dry them well and place in a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil...perhaps 2 to 3 Tablespoons but no more than 3 Tablespoons.  With your clean hands, lift and turn and mix well until every carrot stick is coated with the oil.  If there is oil in the bottom of the bowl you have used too much oil.  Use less next time.

Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of coarse Kosher salt and about the same amount of crushed black pepper.  Stir with a spoon this time unless you want to lick the salt and oil off your fingers!

Place in a large rimmed pan such as a half-sheet pan and spread out one layer thick.  It is somewhat important that each carrot touch the surface of the pan.  Tightly cover pan with aluminum foil. Let roast in a 400 degree F. oven for about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and remove the foil from pan.  Turn carrots over and return pan to oven to cook an additional 10-15 minutes.  Watch them closely after the 10 minutes.  You want them to brown but not burn.

These are delicious right out of the oven.  They are also great at room temperature.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Uncle E's Cannon

Long ago when I was a teenager, my brother E was also a teenager.  He was also very very creative!  In shop class in our high school he made a cannon.  Don't ask me how he did it or why the shop teacher allowed such a project, but he did do it.

One glorious summer day soon after he had made the cannon, the rest of us kids were lying on our backs on the lawn under the big maple tree up near the large rhubarb patch watching the gorgeous puffy white clouds floating by in the bright blue sky trying to identify their shapes...a camel there, that one was definitely the neighbor's nose.   From our spot on the cushy grass we could look out over the valley past the end of our  big white farm house.

E decided this would be the day to use the cannon for the first time.  I was totally oblivious to what he was doing (oblivion being one of my less attractive character traits developed from an early age....).  By the time he was set up and ready to go,  I had become aware. 

There he was, small cannon set up on that lush green grass and pointed toward the valley, and BOOM!!  Off went whatever he had used to prime the cannon.  What a fabulous success it seemed.  For a moment.  Almost immediately we realized that he had hit the telephone pole just past the house!  Yikes!  Being kids, it didn't seem like much of a problem until we went into the house to find we had no telephone service...

Kids will do the darnedest things.  Sometimes they are successful, but with unpleasant results. 

To my knowledge, the cannon was never fired again.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bedtime Story: Accident in the Jeep Station Wagon

When I was in the neighborhood of ten or eleven years old one day Great-Aunt Lottie and Great-Uncle Leonard came to visit.  I loved them dearly.  Aunt Lottie had the most wonderful tinkly laugh and glorious sparkling eyes.  Uncle Leonard was such a kind pleasant man.

It was a ravishingly lovely summer day so my brothers, sister, and I hopped into our Jeep station wagon with Mother, Aunt Lottie and Uncle Leonard.  There was not room for everyone inside so E, J, and I sat on the tailgate, with the lift gate in lifted position and off we left for a trip to Raspberry Hill, a little less than a mile from our home.

The road was narrow but pleasant with a wonderful canopy of hardwood trees overhead and a little brook running beside the road, though it was almost reduced to just a wet swath beside the road because it was summer.  As we were riding along, swinging our legs back and forth a few inches above the dirt road, all of a sudden Mother went over a bump.  With that bump, the accident happened!

The lift gate decided it had had enough in that up position and it smashed down on our heads.  Being the oldest, and tallest, but only barely, I felt it first but my brother and sister also were injured.  If you don't know head injuries, I can tell you that head wounds bleed a LOT! 

Mother stopped the Jeep to check on us.  For some reason she thought it would be a good idea for us to get off the tailgate and walk back home to the house, at this point, only about a quarter mile away.  Being obedient children, we headed up the pike for home.  There was nowhere that she could turn the Jeep around so she and Aunt Lottie, Uncle Leonard, L, and B, the baby, continued on to Raspberry Hill where she was able make the turn and head back home.

As the three of us kids walked toward home, we found that Daddy was in the barnyard,  scraping out the barn with the little Farmall Cub tractor.  I often wondered what his first thoughts were when he saw his three middle children walking towards the barnyard with blood streaming down our faces and onto our clothes.  I do know that he immediately got of the tractor and ran toward us. 

It turned out that when we were washed off and put into clean clothing that we really were fine.  My scalp lost a little bit of hair and there is a tiny bald spot there to this day.  My sister has a little bump to this day.  I do not remember what happened to E's head.

Moral of the story: be careful always.

Other morals:  you could choose many that would work!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Good Vegetarian Chili

Recently I received an email from America's Test Kitchen.  They had two vegetarian recipes that they insisted were really good.  Because we like chili in our house, I decided to try the recipe.

First thing this morning, before I was even dressed, I went to the cellar for some dry pinto beans to put soaking.  After picking them over and rinsing them well, I put them in a heavy 6-quart pot.  Maybe it is 8 quarts, good sized anyway.  From then on, the recipe changed due to what I had in the kitchen.  This post is what I actually did.

Put  one and one half pounds picked over, rinsed and drained pinto beans in a large pot.  Add 3 Tablespoons Kosher salt and 4 quarts water and bring to a boil.  When boiling, turn off heat, cover, and let sit for one hour.  After one hour of sitting, place pot in oven at 300 degrees F. and let cook for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and  drain through a large colander.  Wash and dry pot.

In food processor finely chop onions, to make at least 3 cups chopped onions.  I only had small onions so I removed skins from about 12 onions then chopped them in processor on pulse for 30-45 seconds.  Add one-quarter cup vegetable oil to the large pot and bring to a shimmer over medium heat.  Add the onions and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown.

In the meantime, in a small food processor or spice grinder place 1 cup of home-dried mushrooms (or 3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms if you have access to them) and 3-4 Tablespoons of italian seasoning (or just oregano if you want to be a little more "normal"), and process until very fine.  Add 3 Tablespoons ancho chili powder and 3 Tablespoons regular chili powder and pulse to combine again.  Add 1 Tablespoon cumin and pulseonce again.  Set aside.

When onions are lightly browned, add the seasoning mixture to the pot and stir for 1-2 minutes, until the seasonings smell nice, OR stop before that because you are nervous about burning them.  This is over medium heat...but still, there are always burning concerns...

In food processor pour in one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, 6-8 garlic cloves, 3 Tablespoons soy sauce (yes, soy sauce) and 2 Tablespoons pickled jalapenos.  Process for about 1 minute, until everything makes a lovely mush.

By this time the onions spice mixture is ready to be removed from the heat.  Add the tomato mixture and stir well.  Add in the well-drained cooked beans, and 7 cups water.  Stir very well until everything is combined.  Stirring pretty often, bring to a boil.  When boiling add 3/4 cups bulgar wheat and stir again.  Cover and put in oven at 300 degrees F. for two hours.

Remove from oven.  Remove lid and stir well.  Let sit 20-30 minutes.

Garnish with fun stuff like chopped avocados, sour cream, shredded cheese, lime wedges, diced fresh tomatoes, or whatever else appeals to you.   Or just dish it up and eat!  Plain is fine. 

Yummy!  Makes PLENTY so invite your family and friends to join you for a nice winter's supper.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Spicy Vegetable Bulgur

The original recipe from which I started is in The Book of Children's Food by Lorna Rhodes.

2-3 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
2 carrots, grated
2-3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 cups (relatively finely depending on the broccoli tolerance of the other projected consumers of the dish) chopped broccoli, including stems
2 cans (14.5-15 ounce) vegetable broth
1/2 cup dark raisins
2 Tablespoons chutney (but I used corn relish since I had that and DIDN'T have chutney of any kind)

In a large pan, heat half the coconut oil.  Add onions and cook until translucent, stirring off and on.  Add remaining coconut oil to melt, then stir in the bulgur and curry powder and cook over low heat, stirring, for one minute.  (Low heat is key here.  You do not want to burn ANY of this good stuff.)

Add the chopped vegetables and the broth and stir well.  Bring to a boil, then stir one last time, cover, and let cook for 20 minutes at a simmer on low heat.  Remove cover and taste to see if the bulgur has reached a pleasing texture of doneness.  If not, re-cover and let cook another 2-5 minutes.  Stir in the raisins and chutney or relish.  Serve immediately if you like hot food.  It is equally good as a room temperature dish.

This recipe is said to feed four people.  Those would be good-sized servings.  I ate some for breakfast (three 1 1/2 Tablespoon-scoops worth) and found it was not necessary to have a huge serving.

Spicy Vegetable Bulgar

By the way, the "spicy" is a bit of a misnomer.  At least it is not spicy as you might judge a pot of chili...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mashed Potato Salad...sort of like Masako's, but only sort of!

At a recent ladies' get-together vegetarian night, Masako brought some wonderful Japanese potato salad.  I loved it and wanted to make it some time.  Finally I did it!

Mashed Potato Salad the way I made it:

Start by scrubbing three or four Russet potatoes then microwave them in their skins for 6-10 minutes on high until they are mostly tender.  If there are a few little chunks that are more "tooth-resistant", that is ok, unless you have really picky eaters.

Let the potatoes cool enough to handle, then chop them up into the size you want and place in a large bowl.  Leave the skins on unless they annoy you...remembering that you DID scrub them really well first, right?!  As you chop them, they may more or less disintegrate...which is why I call this mashed potato salad.  Masako's salad was more or less mashed potatoes.

Finely dice 1/2 to 1 whole red onion and toss on top of potatoes, depending on your love of onions.

Harvest a big handful of chives from your herb bed.  Wash them, discarding any stems with blossoms on them, then snip them into the bowl with kitchen shears.

Finely dice one or two scrubbed celery stalks into the bowl.

If you want to add color, grate one large carrot into the bowl.

If you are really really lucky and have hardneck garlic growing in your garden, if it is the right season, harvest one or two garlic scapes.  Wash them and chop them finely and put in bowl.  Don't use the blossom part.

Dress with mayonnaise.  If you want to be fancy, you can add a little vinegar and sugar to the mayonnaise before putting it on the salad. Use the equal amounts of vinegar and sugar, i.e. 1 Tablespoon vinegar and 1 Tablespoon of sugar.  Be sure to stir the vinegar and sugar well to dissolve the sugar.

 Toss all the vegetables with the mayonnaise.  Taste.  Add salt and pepper as needed.  Depending on how spicy the garlic scapes are, you may not need much salt OR pepper!