Friday, April 1, 2011

Savory Vegetables

I have been meaning to post about this recipe for awhile. It doesn't have a name per say but I'll just call it Savory Veggies. At the top of the paper the recipe was written on it said "Holly and Nathan" who is my sister and brother in law. I called her to ask her about it...thinking that she gave my grandma Pauline the recipe...and she didn't know what I was talking about. I mentioned something about savory and it triggered something. Apparently one night she and her husband went over for dinner and she made this recipe and since they liked it she mentioned them on the recipe. Funny!

I also found this recipe on the back of a Lipton Recipe Secrets "Savory Herb with Garlic" package. But with my grandmothers glowing report of this recipe which was "Good taste, good for you , fast and easy! A winner!" I had to try it.

Pretty straight forward just cut up various veggies ( zucchini, yellow squash, red, green or yellow peppers, carrots, onions, or mushrooms) mix with 2 tbsp olive oil and the envelope of dry mix then put them in a 9x13 pan and in a preheated (450 degrees) oven for 20 minutes.

When I made the recipe I put red potatoes, red peppers and carrots in it. I should have paid attention to the fact that potatoes weren't mentioned in the list of possible veggies because my "savory veggies" took a lot longer than 20 minutes. I was afraid that the peppers would be a sloppy mess by the end but they faired pretty well. It was a really good recipe. We really liked it. Minus my three year old who wouldn't try it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Grandma's Soft Molasses Cookies

Ok so this is totally cheating. I haven't actually made these cookies least solo. But in light of my grandma passing and some requests from my family I know I need to post about this particular recipe but I just don't have time to make them with the chaos of Christmas. Maybe in January or maybe when my children are bigger.

I come from a line of strong and sassy but absolutely wonderful women who are fiercely loyal to their families. There is lore in my family of a woman who sent her husband off to the back forty in the morning to work and when he returned that night he found that his wife had given birth to a baby, cleaned the entire house and had dinner on the table waiting for him. Another story about an ancestor who would knit in her sleep and only wake up if she dropped a stitch.( My mom tells me these are actual stories about my Great great great grandmother Eliza Jane Ayerst- Wow!) But fantastical stories aside I have amazing grandmothers dating beyond my own grandmothers. One of those women was my great great Grandmother Francis Pearl Perry Attwood, who was very much the matriarch of my family in so many ways.

My mother remembered her from when she was young and told me stories about her. She told me that she remembered listening to her watch wrestling and telling one or the other to "Get that dirty curr!" She also told me with fondness about the soft molasses cookies that she always made. My mom had looked and looked for the recipe but never found anything. I asked her about it again when I was back home for Christmas two years ago. She said she'd had no luck. Being a child of the information age I went immediately to the internet and found a recipe on a recipe website that was in the submitters family for 175 years. Having never had them I had no way of knowing if it was the right recipe. But we decided to try them and see so I printed it out and we got to work. We made it on a day that my grandmother was visiting the house and my mom kept going into the other room where she was sitting to ask her questions. Eventually she came out to help us. She talked about how she remembered that my great great grandmother put boiled raisins on them ( something that my mom remembered too) and then suggested that they might be good with walnuts or pecans in them.

It was a surreal moment when we were all baking together, my mom and grandma sharing memories of these beloved and well remembered cookies, and I realized that these cookies were "Grandma's cookies" to every last one of us. VERY cool moment. They tasted them when we were done and they said they thought it was the recipe but really couldn't be completely sure. We served them at the family Christmas Eve party and my grandma's aunt Byrdie was there and after tasteing them said "These taste like my mother's cookies" It was then we were satisfied that we'd gotten it right. Although she also mentioned how horribly dry they were so maybe we didn't have them perfect.

Five generations of happy Soft Molasses Cookie eaters.

When I inherited my grandmother's cookbooks I found Soft Molasses cookie recipes on 3x5 cards all over in the cookbook and unlike the peanut brittle recipe they were all different recipes. In other cookbooks I inherited from her the soft molasses cookie recipes were marked. It was obvious that she had been searching for that recipe and perhaps trying to recreate it herself for years without definitive success.

I'm going to write the recipe we found on the internet because that is the one we made and had the approval of my great grand aunt. Anyone wanting to try the others that my grandmother found can contact me for better copies.


Soft molasses cookies

1 cup shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups dark molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
9 cups all purpose flour

Cream shortening and sugar. Add molasses slowly, stirring constantly. Mix spices with cream of tartar and add to mixture.

Mix baking soda and buttermilk. Add alternately with the flour to the sugar and spices mixture. You may not need the whole 9 cups of flour but you should end up with a fairly stiff dough. Chill dough overnight

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Roll dough out to at least 1/4 inch (thick the thicker the better), using as little flour as possible. Keep dough refrigerated when not rolling and cutting. Cut into cookies and brush with beaten egg. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees. Alternately you can form the dough into golf ball size round, roll in white sugar, place on a cookie sheet and then flatten slightly.


The trickiest thing we found was getting the right thickness. We cut them into 3 inch circles and put plump boiled raisins on the top before putting them in the oven ( because this is how my great great grandma did it). All you do to plump raisins is to put a bunch in water and simmer until they are plumped. It takes longer than you might think. I don't remember brushing them with egg either but that may be because we put the raisins on them. The recipe also said this recipe is good for making gingerbread men. Something to try next time perhaps because my son loves making men out of sugar cookies.

I'll need to make this recipe periodically throughout my sons lives so that they will have memories of these cookies that were lovingly made in abundance by their Great great great grandmother and then they too will have a connection to her. Boys connect well through their stomachs I've found.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Buttery Peanut Brittle

My dear Grandma Pauline Violet Streeter is being eulogized today. She passed on Monday the 29th. I'm unable to go to the funeral so I wanted to honor her with making one of her recipes today. And it's only fitting that it's a recipe I remember her making at Christmastime.

This is the only recipe I actually called to get from my Grandma. When I inherited her cookbooks this particular recipe was written and rewritten on multiple 3x5 cards and on small pieces of paper and written around the printed recipe in the actual cookbook.
And to be honest I'm glad I had every last one of them. When I called her for this recipe I wrote it down when I was talking to her and it is blatantly obvious as well. It isn't very coherent because she was giving me little tips about this and that as she told me the recipe. All GOOD information but makes the recipe itself a little difficult to understand and follow. The year I called for it I tried cooked fudge and ended up with a permanent fixture to my pan which made me a little leery about trying anything that required a thermometer and I never made the peanut brittle. I've since made hard candy with a thermometer and it turned out great so that gave me the courage to try this.

I also made the last meal I remember eating with her for dinner tonight. I can post that recipe if anyone is interested but I won't unless there is interest. I also remember eating blueberry pancakes with her but blueberries cost a fortune here in the desert so I wasn't planning that for dinner. Then one of my friends brought by some frozen blueberries tonight. Small blessings. I'll make blueberry pancakes later on this week.

SOOOO...Peanut Brittle

You start with a heavy pan ideally with straight sides. In it you mix 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of light corn syrup ( or corn sugar if you prefer ) and a 1/2 cup of water and mix it all together over medium to high heat.

When the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a complete boil put the butter in ( 1 cup ).

Yeah this is not low calorie. It is called BUTTERY Peanut brittle you know...

Meanwhile I put two buttered cookie sheets in the freezer. My grandma also suggested using a marble slab because it stays so cool. Someday I'd like to try that, just don't have a marble slab.

Let it boil for awhile but when the temp gets up to 230 degrees F you'll need to watch it and stir it more often.

When the temperature gets to 280 degrees you add 2 cups peanuts.

If you are using raw peanuts you should add a teaspoon of salt to the mixture. My grandma suggested warming the peanuts up in the microwave before putting them in so that they wouldn't cool the candy. I didn't do this because my microwave has hot spots but I would recommend trying it because it dropped the temperature 20 degrees when I put them in.

I used spanish peanuts and that's what my grandma put in the recipe and I don't know if that's important but it doesn't surprise me in the least that she specified spanish peanuts and anyone in my family would know why.

My grandma always kept spanish peanuts in a beautiful blue candy dish in her cupboard. Everyone in the family always admired that blue dish. I was astonished one Christmas to open a package from my grandma and find the coveted blue candy dish.
It is one of my most treasured possessions. It was fun to have spanish peanuts in it once again.

So after you put the peanuts in the candy it's constant stirring time. When the temp gets up to 305 degrees remove the pan from heat and add a teaspoon of soda and "stir like crazy" and then pour onto your chilled cookie sheets.

Then with forks stretch thin by gently pulling the edges up and out and as it cools. As soon as you can you'll want to break it up and take it off the pan as you might get a permanent fixture to your cookie sheet if you don't.

I don't know if I'd butter the pans again. It was a valuable in getting the candy off the cookie sheets but it seemed to make it really greasy and not in a good way. It made my hands so slick. It didn't seem to have a long lasting affect though. I also wonder if this recipe might be better with real butter rather than margarine that I used.

"May the restless dead find sleep and may the light of our remembering lead them to an everlasting peace"

My cousin had this on her facebook status. I really liked it and thought it was appropriate for this post. May Grandma ever know how much we love her, miss her and think about her.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Peach Pit Jelly

Ok so TECHNICALLY this isn't a grandma's recipe. But if they'd known about it I have no doubt they'd have done it. It is the ultimate in waste not want not recipe. My grandmothers were from the waste not want not generation, and we in our "let's throw it away and get a new one" society could learn a lot from paying attention. Even I, who consider myself pretty frugal, have learned a lot even by looking at their cookbooks. For example if pages were falling out of your cookbook what would you do? Perhaps bag the cookbook and get your recipes online right. Perhaps you'd toss it and get a new one but would you EVER think to put the hole punch reinforcing stickers on the pages? I know I wouldn't have.

A friend and I did our canning together this year because she has a peach tree and wanted to learn how to can and I had a canner and wanted someone to entertain my boys while I canned. She has two boys that are very entertaining.

When she got here she mentioned the peach pit recipe that called for a bushel of peach pits and peels. We decided to try it out with her half bushel and mine. We didn't do them all at the same time so we put them in the freezer until we had all we needed and found the time to do it.

You're suppose to put the pits and peels in a pot with water to cover them plus two inches. Her peaches were suppose to be freestone but ended up being cling so there was a lot of juices from the fruit on the pits to make the jelly ( I ended up being able to make two batches ) and I didn't need to add any water.

Then you were to boil them for 30-45 minutes and strain out 3 1/2 cups of the juices into another pan and add a box of pectin.

What was interesting to me was the difference in color as the ingredients were added.

Before the pectin was added

After the pectin ( and then bring to a full boil before adding the sugar )

After the 4 1/2 cups of sugar are added.

After adding the sugar boil for two minutes ( stirring constantly) then pour it into your jam jars. After that I processed them in a steam canner for 20 minutes ( ten minutes with ten minutes to account for altitude) then set them out to cool. Look at these beauties!

At first I thought they hadn't set up and it had succumb to the Grandma's cookbooks curse, but I'm happy to report they are all little jelly jewels!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Grandma Nellie's Hot Fudge topping

I think I need to rename this blog "Epic failures trying to recreate Grandma's recipes" The saddest thing is that I'd actually made this recipe many times in my life but it's been a long time since the last time. I've also had two children in the loose brain cells, I swear.

It didn't matter what time of the day or night that you went to my Grandma Nellie's house...She would inevitably offer you a hot fudge sundae. She said that she couldn't sleep at night unless she had one. When she was young she would have to drink a cup of coffee every night to help her go to sleep. Things just worked opposite on my Grandmother. She was as skinny as a whip because she was always moving; running, dancing, working, playing with grandchildren and great grandchildren.

My cousin was here this last week and I thought we'd make the hot fudge to eat right before we went to bed and see just how many Grandma Nellie genes we had. It was heavenly... that which worked. As it turned out she didn't have the recipe so I had the pleasure of giving it to her so that the tradition may continue. I have to say that I slept like a dream that night. But that may also have something to do that my 7 month old slept 8 hours straight then 4 more after a midnight snack. But I may try having a hot fudge sundae before I go to sleep more often. :)

Here is the recipe in her handwriting.

She'd taped it to something which distorted the writing so I'll type it out as well, just as she wrote it.

Choc Fudge Topping

1 pk 12 oz real choc chips
1 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 tblspoon margerine or butter ( ha! We both spell margarine wrong)
1 tpoon vanilla

In dbl boiler ( on top) put 1 pk choc chips and 1 tblspoon margerine ( water in bottom pan ). Melt chip under med heat stirring all the time til smooth and melted- Remove immediately and add sweetened milk and vanilla. Mix well till all is smooth. Milk or cream may be added if it's too thick for your taste. I sometimes use a hand mixer if I didn't get it as smooth as I like it. Enjoy!

The last little thing is a trademark Grandma Nellie thing. She ALWAYS added a little exclamation of excitement in every recipe she wrote down or submitted to any ward cookbook. I have to say that I find myself doing the same.

So back to my experience making this recipe. Learn from my mistakes...

I started with the double boiler

I swear I remember her doing this for a double boiler. I know for SURE this is the way she'd warm up her hot fudge topping. But I also failed to notice that it said to heat it at medium heat and I also failed to notice that it said on the chocolate chip package that you were not suppose to let the water boil.

Adding the butter...the damage had already been done. The chocolate had seized and it was solid at the bottom.

Little man must have known

So here's what I learned about messing up this recipe



And here is me and my cousin reliving our childhoods together.

Miserable picture of me...just miserable but it was good none the less.

We miss you Grandma! We think of you every day!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pauline's favorite by Barb Koops Armstrong

This is the only title I have for this recipe. I was intrigued by the fact that it was a favorite of course but also that it was created ( or given her by) her brother's wife. This is something that I've always loved about my grandma. That she always writes out the entire name when she writes on the backs of pictures (and apparently on recipes). Surely she knew who Barb was but she is always thinking family history and wanting to write the full name so that anyone coming afterwards ( like me) would know exactly who it was and would have a chance to connect the dots to the family. She was always getting on us to write on pictures and I totally see why. Especially after having a newborn and loosing my everliving mind.

It has been a slow spring this year in the west and as this feels like a summer recipe I just couldn't bring myself to make it when it was snowing outside ( yes it snowed the 24th of May here) but the warm is finally coming so I decided to try.

Like most people my grandmother loves summer, especially sun dresses. She used to have a pool in her large back yard and I remember going to her house to take advantage of it during the sticky summers of Michigan. This recipe reminds me of what one might serve at a garden party or more likely for my grandmother a large summer family gathering. For some of you who are more culinary this recipe may be a familiar or perhaps even common recipe but I've never made one like it and thought it was fun to make.

The recipe was pretty general and didn't specify any flavors of ingredients so I just did what sounded good and worked well for my family and invite you to do the same. If there's one thing I've learned while flipping through my grandmothers cookbooks is that she loves to make recipes her own.

It called for juice from canned fruit so I started with pineapple juice amended with water to make 2 cups and heated it to boiling
Then I combined it with the dry Jello mix ( I used strawberry- because that's what I had)

After stirring it well I added sherbet (raspberry) but I think I should have broken it up a bit before I put it in-it would have made much less of a splash (literally).

This is probably the size I should have had it when I put it in. Next time I'll definitely slice or chunk it up first before putting it in.

The recipe called for canned fruit (from the juices you used earlier) but my husbands tongue is sensitive to pineapple and citrus fruits so instead of pineapple I used frozen strawberries

In hindsight I wish I'd used fresh strawberries...they ended up a bit mushy.

Then after that cool whip

And chill in the refrigerator... for longer than you might think.

When I found this recipe I figured it was the type of thing you would put in a jello mold. But after it was in the fridge for awhile and hadn't set up I began to wonder if this was a drink recipe. As it turned out it was somewhere in between, but I don't think it was suppose to be. The recipe called for 8 oz. of jello but the largest I could find was 6 oz. I don't know if the packages used to be larger then but obviously the proportions were off.

Something fun I noticed was that it was more red at the bottom so I wonder if when done right if there is a layer type effect. Something I probably would have seen if I'd kept it in the glass bowl I started making it in. I don't know that we've seen the end of this recipe.

Hubby's take : "I think we should rename it strawberry soup. Good, a little tart, hurt my tongue." ( that was my fault- I slipped in a few pineapple bits )

Little man's take: " I don't want the special treat. It's yucky!" ( everything is "yucky" if he doesn't want it...he's three)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Connecting through cooking

Cooking is a common daily experience that all ( ok most) women share so after inheriting some of my grandmothers cookbooks I thought a way to become more familiar with them and feel more connected to them I would go through their cookbooks and recreate the recipes that they made and made notes on. With a newborn and a nearly three year old I will have my hands full and posts may not be frequent but I invite you to join me on my journey to familiarity with my family through food.