Monday, October 25, 2010

Gingersnaps!

Did you smell something?

If you did, it was probably our house. We were clean, as clean as 5 kids and a wringer washer permit. Oh, lets not forget the in-door pets, and the outdoor pets that came inside, on the quiet, so ssshhh!. Things like frogs and snails, left in brown lunch bags. Then there were those polliwogs caught in the creek, so cute swimming around in a bowl on the dresser. At the time, who knew that, after they grew into really cute, tiny frogs, they would almost always escape. There were miniature dust bunnies, hopping everywhere in the house. Mom was not crazy with happiness over that one!

And we ate stinky food. I think my folks were the original foodies. California foodies to be exact, where any and all food could be found, and enjoyed pretty much year round. Of course the term “foodie” had not been coined as yet. We ate so many different kinds of food, rich meat and sausage, tangy cheese, some with blue veins, pickled everything, even food that was "ripe". That is what my Mom said, but to me it was just stinky!  Most people think that other folks like, Alice Waters and James Beard were the original foodies. But no, they were just famous. My folks were the first. Want to guess how I know? Stinky food. Yep, if you eat stinky food, you have got to be a foodie.

Mom could always be found in the kitchen. It almost seemed like she lived there. Her day started there and ended there. But I knew she didn't sleep there, because I did the dishes. She could grow weary from cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week, for our large family. But when Dad brought something home from the city, it was time for a treat. She truly loved to cook up something, just for him. Which city you ask? The one and only, San Francisco, I still love it there.

One time Dad brought home canned turtle meat, Mom made a turtle soup with Sauterne wine. Dad savored every last bite and drop. How about us kids? Are you kidding, we were very OK with not eating turtle soup. As it so happened there was a small glass bowl in the living room. In that bowl was a pet turtle, a rock, some pulled up weeds, oh and a dead fly, if we were quick enough! Eat turtle soup? I don’t think so!

My Dad was a commercial refrigeration repairman, and one of the best. Dad was known for his ability to fix a commercial unit and get things back on track. Done fast, done right. He had a good reputation and his clients had become business friends as well.

Many times when the job was complete, Dad would be handed a wrapped bundle and the grateful owner would say  “here Ken, take this home to the wife and kids”. He would always wait until he got home to see what was in there. He would usually hand the package to Mom, so he could wash up. Then as he poured himself a beer, Mom would have the bundle open and be busy showing off the contents.

Sometimes it would be fresh cooked and chilled crab. When those packages came home, no matter what Mom had cooked for dinner, we ate crab instead. She would take fresh bread, spread on some soft butter, add shredded lettuce, a sprinkle of salt, then the crab. Delicious chilled crab sandwiches. I know the crab would of kept nicely and could of been eaten the next day, but Mom loved those crab sandwiches.

Another time the package might contain a dry cured sausage. Or a bottle of wine. If you were to ask us kids, our favorite was that large box of chocolates that usually came home close to the Holidays. Ah yes, five sets of grubby hands digging for the best piece. You can see it now, can’t you! If we didn’t behave, and there was always one that didn’t, Mom would put that box up, and funny the next day, more were always gone!

On the days that Dad worked in a delicatessen, he would purchase his beloved Limburger cheese. He would come home, take out his pocketknife and cut open the foil wrapper. Then wait for us to gather and start in with the “eeewww, that stinks” talk. Five grubby kids, happy to see Dad and talk some cheese!

One day, a kraut cutter came home. Dad was going to make kraut. Soon after, we found a couple of crocks at the second hand store. With cabbage and salt, we were in business. Since the kitchen was too warm for fermenting, the crocks were set to work in the living room. Yes, among the many pieces of furniture, a big 1960's console TV, five kids and their assorted pets, you would find sauerkraut in one corner, and pickles in another.  

Welcome to, Home Stinky Home, where the kids and the animals roam!

There was never a food or cuisine that went under the radar at our house. We ate just about everything. The sharper the flavor, the better. Especially for my dad. He never left the house without his pocket knife. Sometimes I think he carried that knife so he was always ready to cut open something to eat. That pocketknife cut into a lot of different foods through the years. Of course it also cut some toenails. But as a kid, I just knew Dad had 2 knives, one for toenails and another one for cutting our apples at the park…………………..

My Dad would have liked these Ginger Snaps. A spicy and delicious flavored cookie, containing something a little different. Bacon fat.  Don’t be alarmed; your cookies will not taste anything like a pork chop! 

Ginger Snaps
adapted from: Granny Miller
a two part recipe, make dough and chill, then shape and bake 
375 degree oven

4 1/2 c flour
1 T baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 c ground ginger (powdered)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons pepper 

Combine in a large bowl, stir well to mix completely, set aside.

1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
1c butter
1/2 c strained bacon drippings
1/2 c molasses

2 eggs

additional sugar for dipping

In large mixer bowl, beat sugars, fats and molasses until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until creamy.




Mix in dry ingredients, making sure no streaks of wet or dry ingredients remain.


Chill for 2 hours, you may leave in the bowl or place on a piece of waxed paper, wrapping well.


Tonight I am going to use a trick to hurry this chilling process along:

Place a sheet of wax paper on a baking tray, scoop dough onto
paper. Place another sheet of wax paper over top and gently
smash and flatten dough to about one inch in thickness. Place
baking tray in freezer for about 30-45 minutes.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

When ready to bake, break off pieces of dough, roll into balls, dip tops of balls in sugar.

This method is good for cookies that are rolled into balls, 
you simply score the dough, roll into balls and dip the tops in sugar.


Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.



Bake 8 - 10 minutes for chewy cookies, 10 - 13 minutes for crispy cookies. Cool on rakes or towels, or my favorite, brown paper.

Yum!
Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies. 

These are delicious. I think for another time I will up the ginger, flatten before baking, when cool sandwich with a tangy lemon butter cream. Ginger Lemon Cremes.

As always, thanks for stopping to visit. I love having company come to call! 

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lets make more mustard

 Left to Right:
Tomato garlic with beer, Lemon Dill with Vermouth, Maple Orange with Sherry


Keep in mind I really have no expertise with what I am doing, except having fun. That is the great thing about cooking, it is always a creative process and after wards, you have food! Each jar of finished mustard is thick. I will most likely be adding additional liquid as the aging process continues.

Tomato Garlic and Beer Mustard

1 12oz bottle light beer, like a India Pale Ale
12 T whole mustard seeds, I used equal amount of light and dark mustard seeds

Pour beer over mustard seed,cover and just let them party overnight. (save any beer left in the bottle)

The next day,

Place seeds and remaining beer into food processor, then add:

1/2 c dried oil packed tomatoes, drain well
2 T sugar
1/4 t dried garlic powder
1 t salt
2 T dry mustard powder

3 T water

Process until mostly smooth. Add the water, and continue to process until the desired consistency is achieved, keep in mind this is a course style mustard. There will be whole seeds long after the dried tomatoes have disappeared in the processing.


Return to jar and let "mingle" a day or two on the counter. Refrigerate for aging.

Oh look another quart of mustard!

I learned something interesting while making this batch, the white seeds require more liquid than the brown.

Lemon Dill and Vermouth Mustard
6T white mustard seeds
2/3 c vermouth
Pour vermouth over seeds, let them get to know each other overnight.

Place seeds and any remaining vermouth into processor, then add:

1 T dry mustard
2 T sugar
1/4 t salt
juice of 1/2 lemon, strained
1/4 c vermouth

1/4 c water


Process, this takes a while, the mixture is smaller in volume. Add 1/4 c water, continue to process.

When desired consistency is achieved, add:

1 T dry dill weed

Pulse 2 or 3 times to mix dill weed into mustard. 


Return to jar for aging. 



Maple Orange Sherry Mustard

2/3 c sherry wine
2/3 c water
12 T mixed mustard seeds

Pour water and sherry over mustard seeds, allow full political conversation throughout the night.

Place seeds and remaining wine/water mixture into processor, then add:

2 T dry mustard powder
3/4 t salt
1 T cider vinegar
1/2 t orange oil

Process until combined and the mixture begins to stall against the blades, then add:

1/3 c real maple syrup


Process until desired consistency is achieved. Return to jar for aging. 











Three jars of mustard, too "hot" to taste. These will sit out at room temperature for at least 24 hours to  temper the heat. Then they will be refrigerated for 14 days before any final adjustments will be made regarding flavor and consistency.

As always, thanks for stopping by. 

This post is being shared with:
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Dr Laura's Tasty Tuesday @ whoislaura




Saturday, October 23, 2010

Old fashion bean soup, cook a pot of beans weekly

One of the reasons I was so interested in being a part of Cookbook Sundays, is this.....

But this shot does not show everything. I was not able to get the whole shelf in the photo! There is a couple of other important items on the shelf, but they are small. Like photos of my kids in high school, and now a little book of photos of my granddaughter. Oh and that bottle of instant chlorine remover, but we no longer have a fish, I guess that could go. Although I don't think that would make enough room for another cookbook.

Even with all those, I continue to pick up unusual cookbooks when I am out thrifting, like the cookbook that only has prune recipes, or the one on Onions. Sometimes I will find a companion book to one that I already own. Other times I will find a good deal on a book I already have, knowing my daughter would enjoy having it. I am always interested in these older theme books, like this one from Southern Living,

Southern Living Inflation Cookbook, Good Food for Hard Times (Published in 1973)

Not a pretty soup, but delicious, filling and frugal.
Old Fashioned Bean Soup
adapted from Southern Living 

2 c red beans

3 qt water (I am using 2 qt water and 1 qt chicken bone broth)
meaty ham bone or hock
1 c chopped onion
2 cloves garlic minced
1 bay leaf

1 c mashed potatoes* OR 1 large potato grated if you are out of leftover mashed potatoes!
1-2 c sliced celery
1-2 c sliced carrots
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 c cream or evaporated milk

Soak beans overnight in water to cover, plus 2 inches. Drain beans, place in a large kettle, add onion, garlic and bay leaf. Add 2 quarts cold water and the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 2 hours. 


Add grated potato, celery  and carrots. Add salt and pepper to taste, starting with 1 1/2 t salt. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. 

I am not usually one to call names, however, so far this is one ugly soup! Let's take another look in one hour, when we finish up with adding the milk.

Remove ham hock, if desire mash some of the bean mixture with a potato masher. Remove meat from the hock bone, dice and return to soup kettle.

Stir in milk and serve.

Still not pretty! But by golly this is a very tasty soup.

Makes about 4 qts of soup. Garnish with smoked paprika if desire.

Recipe rating:
It's OK. Tasty/good.

As always, thanks for stopping by. I do love having visitors!

An update of random thoughts:   Next time (and there will probably be a next time, this is a good yet very basic recipe) I would use white beans, 2 potatoes, 2 bay leaves as well as increase the celery and carrots to 3 c each. I would add new, 1 t thyme leaves - crushed, and 1 c frozen or fresh corn.

This post is shared with:

Cookbook Sundays @ Brenda's Canadian Kitchen

Tuesday Night Supper Club @ fudge ripple

Pennywise Platter Thursday @ Nourishing Gourmet

Homemade Mustard, 3 flavors to enjoy


I love mustard, and I especially love flavored mustard. I have made mustard before, and it was interesting to say the least. It also turned out delicious. After the first batch, I made sure to pick up more mustard seeds while at Penzy's.

Mustard seeds must soak before crushing.

I have decided upon the three flavors that I will want to try.



Beer, dried tomato and garlic, decided to double this batch flavor.



Vermouth, lemon and dill ( I would of doubled, but not enough yellow seeds), I need to get back to Penzy's!



Sherry, Maple and orange, another double batch.

Today the soaking, tomorrow the crushing and flavor add ins. This must be a prep day, I also have the sourdough starter activating on the counter for bread baking, and red beans soaking for tomorrows recipe.

As always thanks for dropping by, I appreciate your visits!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

One Pan, pork chops and scalloped potatoes

Just like Mom made.....

There are some dishes from your childhood that never leave your " I would sure like some of that tonight", favorite foods request list. This is one of those. True and real home cooking. Home cooking is usually a process that used what was available. That process repeated time after time, becomes a recipe. I am sure I watched Mom make this many many times. It was an easy supper, one she could fix and forget, for about an hour, anyway!

Scalloped potatoes and pork chops - a freestyle tutorial.
375 degree oven or you could use your crock pot ( I will nest time!)

4 pork chops
6 potatoes
1 large onion
garlic salt
thyme
1/4 c flour
black pepper
2 can evaporated milk
Parmesan cheese (yep the green shaker stuff)

Brown chops.





Place in a large 11X15 pan, sprinkle with garlic salt and crushed thyme.


Slice 3 of the potatoes, dice 1/2 of the onion.


Cover the chops with the onion, then sliced potatoes.

Season with more garlic salt, crush thyme. Sprinkle with the 1/4 c flour.



Slice and dice remaining vegetables.

Season the top with more garlic salt, thyme and fresh ground pepper.



Pour milk over top, cover with foil, sealing well. Bake for 1 hour.


Remove foil, cover top of potatoes with Parmesan cheese. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, return pan to oven and continue baking for 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Note: there will be some milk in the bottom of the pan, but this is normal. When the chops and most of the potatoes are gone, everything from the bottom of the pan is delicious stirred into any cream soup. 
Serves 4 - 6

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always thanks,
for stopping by. I love having visitors.

This post is being shared with:

Friday Potluck @ EKat's Kitchen
Ultimate Recipe Swap @ life as mom

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Apple Butter, in the crockpot!

I do not have my own apple tree, but granddaughter has one in her backyard. It was planted on her fifth birthday. At this time however, too immature to produce many apples.

Not enough for apple butter, that's for sure. Maybe in a few years, I can teach my granddaughter how to make apple butter from the apples on her apple tree. Until then.....

I love apple butter, it has many uses, besides being spread on hot toast.

Stir a couple of spoonful into pan drippings for a different way to de-glazed and make a quick and delicious pan sauce.

Mix it with cream cheese for a tasty dip.

Use it as a filling between cake layers.

Use it in place of some of the shortening/fat in a recipe.

There is more, and I am sure you get the idea.

But until I have a tree to work with............

I use to live in Yakima and I am familiar with Snokist. This company processes many of the Yakima grown apples. When I noticed these large cans at Costco, I knew my apple butter was only a crock pot away.


Start this in the evening and right after breakfast, you are ready to process the finished jars.

Crock Pot Apple Butter
adapted from Sage Trifle

1 # 10 can of water pack applesauce
2 c sugar
2 T cinnamon
1/8 t cloves
1/4 t allspice

Mix all ingredients in a large crock pot. Cover with a towel or screen, cook on low all night.











Place a small plate in the freezer, to use the next morning.

In the morning, this will have reduced down about 1/3 in volume. Place a small spoonful on the plate and let cool. If thick enough, turn off crock pot and prepare jars and a boiling water bath. If not let cook another hour or two, then prepare jars and water bath.

Jar up the butter, lid and cap, per manufacturers instructions. Process 12 minutes in a boiling water bath.

These jars are from the first batch, what is in the crock pot right now, 
will not be ready to jar up for about 12 - 15 hours.

Yield about 5 pints and hopefully some for now.

As always, thanks for stopping by.
I appreciate your time, and your visit!

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