Friday, October 10, 2008

Halloween Recipes for One and All

A grandmother pretends she doesn't
know who you are on Halloween.
~Erma Bombeck

The entire family can help make these Halloween snacks. Let the little ones help form the popcorn balls in the last recipe!

Autumn Popcorn Mix

10 cups popped popcorn (plain)
1 cup dry-roasted salted peanuts
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons cider
2 tablespoons margarine
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place popcorn and peanuts in a 13x9x2 baking pan. In a pan, stir together the honey, cider, margarine, and cinnamon until well mixed. Bring to boil over medium heat. Drizzle the honey mixture over the popcorn and nut mixture. Toss until well mixed in the pan. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring 2-3 times during baking. When finished, spread the mixture onto a large sheet of foil or a buttered cookie pan. Cool. Store in a covered container.

Caramel Popcorn Clusters

10 cups popped popcorn
2 cups almonds
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray or lightly grease with margarine. Mix the popcorn and almonds in a large bowl. Combine brown sugar, margarine and corn syrup in a medium pan. Over low heat, stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in the vanilla, almond extract and baking soda. Pour this over the popcorn and almonds, quickly stirring to coat. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet, spreading evenly. Bake for 1 hour. Cool and break into pieces and store in airtight container. Notes: You can use another kind of nut besides almonds if you wish. Almond extract would also work for flavoring.

Mini Popcorn Balls

10 cups popped corn
1 (1-lb.) bag miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup margarine
1 cup toffee pieces or mini M&Ms
1 cup butterscotch chips
Orange food coloring

Place popcorn, candy and butterscotch chips in large bowl; set aside. Heat the butter in a large pan until just melted, then add the marshmallows and cook over low heat, stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in several drops of food coloring and stir. Pour over popcorn and candy, tossing to coat evenly. Cool 5 minutes. Butter hands and form into 2 or 3-inch balls. Notes: Use your imagination on the candy. Use anything that strikes your fancy!

Enjoy your weekend! ~Brenda

Thursday, October 9, 2008

"Wow, I Never Knew That!"

Oh, it must be October
The leaves of red bright gold and brown,
To Mother Earth come tumbling down,
The breezy nights the ghostly sights,
The eerie spooky far off sounds
Are signs that it's October.
The pumpkins yellow, big and round
Are carried by costumed clumsy clowns
It's Halloween - let's celebrate.
~Pearl N. Sorrels

I love older cookbooks and magazines for these types of tips. Some are ones we just need to be reminded of, and others make us think "Wow, that's neat!".

Spiced Lemonade: Add a small cheesecloth bag or a tea ball with cinnamon and cloves to the lemonade. Stir till it flavors the lemonade and remove.

Boiling over pasta? Grease the inside of the pan you will be cooking macaroni or pasta in--but just the top three to four inches around the top and inside. This will keep it from boiling over!

Double Duty: Use a wire corn popper for roasting hot dogs or marshmallows over a fire. You can roast more at a time this way.

Better Flavor: When making cherry desserts from canned cherry pie filling add a few drops of almond extract to the filling to give it a fresher taste.

Soggy Pies? Sprinkle a teaspoon of fine tapioca over the lower crust before adding fruit.

Salty Soup? Peel and slice a raw potato into the soup. Boil five minutes and remove the potato. Serve the soup.

Buggy Vegetables? If you have trouble removing the tiny insects from vegetable such as broccoli, add a little vinegar to cold water and rinse with this first.

Cauliflower Odor: Some people, including my son, hate the smell of cooking cauliflower. Try cooking in half water and half milk instead of just water. The liquid can be used in soups if you wish.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tips on Cleaning Glass Stovetops

Then summer fades and passes and October
comes. We'll smell smoke then, and feel an
unexpected sharpness, a thrill of nervousness,
swift elation, a sense of sadness and departure.
~Thomas Wolfe

Today I have tips on cleaning glass stove tops. I gave my initial response to one of our readers, and as usual, other subscribers sent in their personal experiences. I've linked to products where they were mentioned and I could find a website. My readers are the best!

I have glass stove and every time I cook and something spills over onto the stove top it leave a brown stain. I am unable to get my glass stove clean. Could you please help me with this problem. ~June

I don't have a glass stove top but did some research. One cleaner mentioned again and again is Weiman Glass Cook Top Cleaner, but another method it to mix OxyClean with water to make a paste. Spread the paste on the stains, allow
it to sit for a little bit, then wash off with a soft cloth. If the stains are very dark, let it sit longer, wash and repeat. Always use cleaners on a COOL stove top. For everyday cleaning mix 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water in a spray bottle. Spray on and wipe off. This is also good to remove residue some cleaners may leave.

I have a glass-top stove and use baking soda for cleaning. Mix soda with water to make a thin paste, apply to stain, let sit for a few minutes, and wipe with a damp cloth. Works every time! This is also great for oven stains. ~Janice

I find Weiman Glass Cook Top Cleanerto be the best cleaner for my glass stove top. For light cleaning in between I use Weiman Quick Range Cleaner Wipes. The wipes are for very light cleaning only. This is the only cleaning I do for my glass top range and my top is beautiful, without any stains. My stove is at least two years old and is used daily. ~Nita

When I bought my stove with the glass top the salesman recommended using a razor blade that fits in a little flat handle like the one you scrape paint from windows, works great and does not scratch the surface. ~Thea

I too have a glass top stove, the manual recommended that I use a product called CERAMA BRYTE. Cerama Bryte is a glass-ceramic cooktop cleaner, it is recommended for GE, Whirlpool, Maytag, Hotpoint, Amana, Frigidaire, JennAir, Viking and Kenmore stoves. It quickly removes stains and cooked on messes, personally I love the stuff! I have had my glass top stove for one year this Christmas. I still have over half of the bottle of Cerama Bryte that I purchased the same day that I bought the stove. I use it to clean my stove top once a day, sometimes twice. It does a beautiful job and it doesn't scratch, plus it takes no elbow grease.

I purchased a 794g (28 oz.) bottle of the cleaner for $7.97,at my local Walmart store. when I first bought it I thought that it was a lot of money to spend...figuring that I would have to use one or two bottles a month. What a pleasant shocker, it's coming up on one year and it appears that one bottle will last a person 18 months to two years. I cook three times a day on my stove top so it does get a good work out! I checked the back of the bottle and they have a web site: ~Jayne

If the person with the glass topped stove will go and buy Bar Keepers Friend friend at the grocery store, It will keep her glass top stove looking like new. Just sprinkle it on and take a damp cloth and rub the spots, it will come clean, It may take some rubbing as I don't know how spotted her stove is. After rubbing spots off just take a clean dry cloth to remove any residue. ~winkerbean in Ohio

I have a glass top stove, and I can tell you that Amway makes an excellent cleaner called LOC Soft Cleanser that works on stoves, counters, appliances, tubs, etc. If you have some really bad brown spots, lightly rub the cleanser into the spot and leave overnight (or until very dry). The next morning, wet a soft scrubber (like an O'Cedar or other sponge with the light scrubber on the back), and scrub off the cleanser. Works like a charm! ~Mary T.

I was so impressed with the suggestions on cleaning stoves. Someone said a soda paste was great for cleaning ovens. I got right off of my computer and tried it on my oven racks. It works great. I had no intention of cleaning my oven that day but thanks to the suggestion I got it done. ~Betty from Indiana

We also have an article on OFL with tips on speed cleaning your home! Read it here:

~Enjoy today. ~Brenda

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Common Sense in the 1800's

Crispy air and azure skies, High above, a white cloud flies, Bright as newly fallen snow. Oh the joy to those who know October! ~Joseph Pullman Porter

Today I'm sharing tips from "Common Sense in the Household: A Manual of Practical Housewifery" by Marion Harland, which was printed in 1871 and reprinted by Oxmoor House in 1985.

TEA: The bane of tea in many households is unboiled water. It can never extract the flavor as it should, although it steeps for hours. The kettle should not only steam, but bubble and puff in a hard boil before you add water from it to the tea leaves. Boiling after the tea is made injures the flavor, either by deadening or making it rank and "herby".

Milk tea for children: 1 pint fresh milk and the same of boiling water. Sweeten to taste.

Milk Toast: Toast 1/2 inch thick bread. Dip each slice, as it comes from the toaster, in boiling water; butter, salt lightly,and lay in a deep covered dish. Have ready in a saucepan enough boiling milk to cover all well. When your slices are packed salt this very lightly; melt in it a bit of butter and pour over them. Cover closely sand let it stand five minutes before using it. It is excellent when made of Graham bread. This is a good dish for a family tea as well as for invalids.

SUNDRIES: This recipe is included for Cologne Water. I'm going to guess the alcohol is something like we use now for linen waters and that type of thing, which is 80% vodka. You can also substitute Everclear for the alcohol. A drachm or dram as you'll see it written, is a unit of apothecary weight equal to an eighth of an ounce or 75 drops.

Cologne Water No. 1

1 drachm oil of lavender
1 drachm oil of bergamot
2 drachm oil of lemon
2 drachm oil of rosemary
50 drops tincture of musk
8 drops oil of cinnamon
8 drops oil of cloves
1 pint alcohol

Cologne Water No. 2

60 drops oil of lavender
60 drops oil of bergamot
60 drops oil of lemon
60 drops orange-flower water
1 pint alcohol

Cork and shake well.

We have an entire section dedicated to tea time on OFL:

I hope your day is stress free. ~Brenda

Monday, October 6, 2008

Kale: A Dutch Tradition

The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools. ~Henry Beston

The first time I tasted kale was about twenty years ago when a co-worker brought it in for us to try. She was Dutch and the dish was a combination of kale and potatoes traditionally made in her family.

Kale is usually harvested by removing the outer leaves, and then the plant will produce more leaves. The mature leaves are the most tender, so those are on the outside. You can also allow the plants to stay out in the garden for a light frost then harvest the entire plant. You should be able to harvest some plants through early winter. Pick the kale and store at about 32 degrees F. It will keep for about 2-3 weeks.

One of my reader's shared with me their Dutch traditions of harvesting and eating kale:

The Dutch eat kale by the truckload this time of year in a traditional one pot boiled dinner called Boerenkool (Farmer's Cabbage). I have a little experience with curly kale to share. I would much rather buy it all clean and chopped from the green grocers, but when I have to prepare it for my Dear Dutch Family from scratch (his parents grow it in their garden), I find it much like spinach preparation in several ways. Washing the leaves is important because there is always grit somewhere. Because the leaves are so big they cannot be soaked in saltwater bath in a kitchen sink like spinach, each leaf has to be separately rinsed off ( which is tedious), then the central hard vein and stem of each leaf is trimmed out (also tedious). Remove any unhappy looking bits from the leaf as well. WHAT IS LEFT ARE THE TENDER PARTS.

Then the preparation goes like a train. Stack the leaves together and cut crosswise into thin ribbons. For a family of four, you will need a small mountain: start with about a kilo of leaves. You cook it much like spinach. using a bit of water and simmering until tender. I use a huge Dutch oven and the kale fills it half full, by the time it is cooked though it cooks way down. Traditionally vegetables were boiled to death in the Netherlands, but I think 30 minutes simmer is about right.

Boerenkool is not just kale. First you brown off a block of fat bacon about the size of a bar of Ivory soap in the pot, set the bacon aside, dump the prepped kale into the pot. Top with however many peeled and cubed boiling potatoes your family will eat, and a link or two of smoked sausage (rookworst): drop the bacon back on top. Add water. Simmer until the potatoes are ready to eat. Remove the meat from the pot, drain excess water. With a potato masher, mash the kale and potatoes together into a mass the consistency of slightly wet mashed potatoes. Spread the thick layer of "moes" (potato and kale) onto a platter. Slice the bacon and the worst, and arrange on top. Serve with mustard.

This is true autumn and winter family food even today on Dutch tables. It reminds me of the Irish boiled dinner my mother makes--- so butter and vinegar are not uncommon addition at the table at our house. Sometimes I sneak chopped onion and some carrots in the pot as well, but that is not traditional. Carrot, onion and potato mash is called "hutspot" and it is an entirely different traditional dish, but yummy! ~Eet Smakelijk! Jana