Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope you all have a 2011 full of blessings, good health and many special moments:) I wanted to share a few quotations to start off the New Year.

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things. ~John Burroughs

Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down. ~Charles F. Kettering

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want. ~Margaret Young

People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do. ~Lewis Cass

If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere. ~Frank A. Clark

Dreams are illustrations... from the book your soul is writing about you. ~Marsha Norman

Thank you for reading my ramblings:)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Eve Recipes

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day. ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

I hope everyone had a special Christmas celebration. This year we spent a quiet Christmas with our three kids at home. It was nice because for the first time in years my husband had Christmas Eve and Christmas off from the hospital. This week is chaotic as we visit my family and his family for our holiday celebrations, then come home to have a quiet New Year's Eve.

I thought I would share some nice recipes from an old book I've had in my collection for years, entitled The Wine Cook Book by Cora, Rose and Bob Brown, published in 1960. It's a quirky little cookbook that I love because a lot of the recipes use herbs. The following recipes would work wonderfully for New Years Eve.

Mussels in White Wine

2 quarts mussels
1 onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
parsley, chopped
1 cup wine
1 tsp. butter

Wash mussels in water several times; make sure the shells are clean. Put them in a deep pot, sprinkle with parsley, onion and garlic chopped together, add butter, salt, pepper and wine. Cook for 15 minutes over a brisk fire, keeping closely covered. When mussels are open, dish out into soup plates, serving the liquor in cups into which each mussel is dipped before eating.

Shrimps a' la Marinera

18 large shrimps
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 bay leaf, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. minced parsley
1 cup dry white wine

Thoroughly wash and shell the shrimps. Slowly fry the onion in olive oil, add garlic, bay leaf and parsley; add pepper and shrimps and fry for 3 minutes. Then add wine and a little salt. Cook gently for 20 minutes. The sauce may be thickened with a teaspoon of cornstarch, melted in a little water if desired.

Oysters in Champagne

3 dozen oysters
1/3 cup toasted bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp. minced parsley
salt and pepper
1 pint champagne

Drain oysters well. Melt butter in a wide saucepan, lay in the oysters, baste with the butter, sprinkle with toasted crumbs, salt, pepper and parsley. Pour in the champagne and heat slowly until the oysters plump and edge crinkle. Do not boil. Serve on hot toasted bread, or in hot soup plates.

Champagne Punch

4 cups sugar
juice of 12 lemons
1 pineapple, in cubes
3 quarts ice water
1 quart strawberries or raspberries
1 quart white wine
1 quart champagne

Dissolve 3 cups sugar in lemon juice. Dredge pineapple cubes with 1 cup sugar and allow to stand. Pour ice water into punch bowl, stir in sugar and lemon, then the berries, slightly crushed, and the sugared pineapple. Stir in wine and champagne and serve cold.

What dish is served traditionally on New Years? We have recipes!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Dinner: Salads & Side Dishes

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Whether you have turkey, ham or beef, every dinner needs a good salad and side dishes. It's easy to load up on the starches. Who doesn't love potatoes and rolls? Try to add one or two dishes that are a little healthier. You don't have to sacrifice taste, and you don't have to use cream soups. I have a few dishes to pick from today.

Cranberry Waldorf Salad

3 apples, cored and chopped
3/4 cup celery
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/3 cup mayonnaise, regular or light
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Combine the apples, celery, cranberries and nuts in a large bowl. In a small bowl
combine the mayonnaise and spices. Fold into the apple mixture. Cover and chill
until serving time. Makes 6 servings.

Ginger Fruit Salad

2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
2 apples, cored and chopped
2 peaches, sliced
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

In a large bowl toss the fruit. Combine the yogurt and ginger, then
fold into the fruit. Serves 8.

Mediterranean Style Corn

5 tsp. olive oil
1 clove peeled, minced garlic
4 cups frozen corn, cooked in microwave and drained
1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried, crushed thyme
Ground black pepper
Salt to taste

Combine the oil and garlic in a large skillet and heat over low heat just enough
to heat the two together until they start to sizzle. Do not brown garlic. Add
the corn and stir to heat through, about 2-3 minutes. Add the thyme, pepper
and salt to taste. Serve warm.

Notes: You can use this same recipe but substitute in whole green beans, or peas-- it's really good with all three.

Spinach Salad

1 (5 ounce) bag baby spinach
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup roughly slivered almonds
Dressing: Italian or other vinaigrette

In a large bowl combine the ingredients. Serve with a couple kinds of dressings.

Notes: this would also be good served with a bag of mixed greens instead of spinach.

Pear and Pecan Salad

1 (10 ounce) bag mixed salad greens
1 ripe firm pear, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup Italian-style salad dressing

Toss the ingredients in a bowl, and serve with the dressing on the side.

Do you need more side dish recipes? Try these:


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Entertaining: Breakfast & Brunch

Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved. ~Augusta E. Rundel

Today I wanted to share recipes that are perfect for a holiday breakfast or brunch. I will admit that I don't often get to vary breakfast for my husband and kids because they LOVE pancakes, waffles and French Toast. Casseroles or anything too "different" have them making faces before they even try it. Actually, waffles are a newer favorite since they boldly bought me a waffle maker last spring. I love that every family has their favorite breakfast dishes and favorites.

Apple Waffles

2 cups pancake mix
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup finely diced apples

Beat the milk, eggs, pancake mix and melted butter until smooth. Stir in the apples. Bake in a waffle maker until steam stops. Serve with butter and syrup.

Orange Muffins

1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 orange, zest
Juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

This recipe makes 18 muffins-- I use a muffin tin with 12 cups, and one with 6 cups. Spray the tins with pan spray or grease. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together, add eggs and beat well. Add the baking soda to the buttermilk. Sift the flour and salt together. Add the buttermilk and the flour to the first mixture, alternating each one until combined. Using a zester or a grater-- add the zest (skin) of the orange to the batter. Save the orange to juice for the glaze. Pour the batter into the tins, dividing evenly. Bake in a 400 degree F. oven for 15 minutes. Remove and brush the glaze on while they are warm. Glaze: combine the orange juice, sugar and cinnamon together to make the glaze. If it's not thin enough you can use a little water to thin.

Apple Cheese Bread

2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup melted butter, warm not hot
1/2 cup finely chopped or grated apple
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup milk

Grease or spray a 9x5 loaf pan. In a large bowl combine the sugar, baking powder, salt, flour, cinnamon and nuts. In another bowl combine the eggs, butter, apple, cheese and milk. Add to the dry ingredients. Pour into the loaf pan. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cinnamon Ginger Pancakes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 tbsp. vegetable oil

In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt and spices. In another bowl beat together the eggs, buttermilk, and oil. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just
moistened. Don't over beat. On a hot griddle that has been coated with pan spray pour 1/4 cup batter. When the top is bubbly flip the pancake over and cook until lightly browned. Butter the pancakes as you remove them to a platter. Serve with maple syrup. Makes 16 pancakes.

Notes: Diced apples are very good added to this recipe.

Do you need more brunch recipes? Try these:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Entertaining: Christmas Cookies

Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts. ~Janice Maeditere

Today I wanted to share cookie recipes from some of my older cookbooks. The first two are from The Christmas Cookie Book by Virgina Pasley. My husband's grandmother gave me this book years ago. It was published in 1949.

Nut Kisses

6 egg whites
1 pound confectioners' sugar
pinch of salt
1 pound nuts, finely grated or ground
(almonds, pecans or walnuts)

Beat egg whites until stiff, add sugar gradually, beating all the while, salt, then grated nuts. Drop from teaspoon on tins lined with letter paper (parchment) and bake in a slow oven for about 15 minutes. (300 degree F.)

Garnish with a piece of whatever type of nut you used for the cookies.

Cinnamon Almond Stars

4 egg whites
1 pound granulated sugar
1 pound (3 cups) ground almonds
1 tsp. cinnamon

Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar gradually beating all the while and continue beating for 10 minutes. Stir in almonds and cinnamon and let mixture stand for several hours. Roll out on a board sprinkled with confectioners' sugar or flour to about a half-inch thickness and cut with a star shaped cutter. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet or one lined with paper in a moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for about 15 minutes.

This next recipe is from The Good Housekeeping Cook Book, published in 1944.

Chocolate Coconut Kisses

3 egg whites
1 1/2 sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tbsp. sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp. vanilla extract
7 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. Gradually beat in the sugar and flour, which have been sifted together. Fold in coconut, vanilla, and chocolate, mixing thoroughly. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned and firm. Allow cookies to cool before removing with a spatula. Makes about 4 dozen.

I love gingersnaps and this recipe is a simple basic one from the Modern Priscilla Cook Book, published in 1924.

Ginger Snaps

1 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 egg, beaten

Beat all the ingredients together, using enough flour to make a soft (not stiff) dough. Roll thin, cut, and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for 12 minutes. Makes 40.

Looking for more holiday cookie recipes? Try these:


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Entertaining: More Appetizers

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ~Washington Irving

I always have good intentions of posting more often during the holidays but things never seem to settle down. Since I have a lot of last minute recipes and ideas I'll be posting today and the next three days. A mini-marathon of holiday blogs:) Today I'm starting with more appetizer recipes. I can seriously never have too many appetizer or snack ideas. Between my teens, our family get gatherings and friends dropping by I always need quick finger food.

Rueben Appetizers

1 cup diced cooked corned beef, roast beef or chipped beef
8 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
8 ounces (1 cup) sauerkraut
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
Loaf Party Rye Bread

Combine the beef, cream cheese, mayonnaise, sauerkraut and garlic powder. Set up the pieces of bread, and spread each one with the cheese/beef mixture. Sprinkle with the Swiss cheese on top of each appetizer and broil until bubbly. Serve warm.

Notes: You can also add a pickle to this appetizer, or serve pickles on the side near it.

Pepperoni Bread

1 loaf frozen bread dough
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 package sliced pepperoni (small pack)
2 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Lightly rub the frozen loaf with oil, place it in a bowl or on a cookie sheet with a clean tea towel over it. Allow the dough to thaw and double in size. Roll out the dough. In a small bowl beat the eggs, Parmesan and oregano. Spread about 2/3 of this mixture on the dough. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and place the pepperoni evenly on the bread dough. Roll up the dough with the cheese/pepperoni etc. inside. Seal the edge by pinching with your fingers then brush the rest of the egg mixture over the bread on the outside. Place the rolled bread on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Brush with butter after removing from the oven.
Slice and place on a platter to serve.

Notes: I like adding a little garlic powder to the butter before brushing.

Jalapeno Poppers

12 whole Jalapeno peppers
12 cubes Colby Jack cheese (or Cheddar)
1 cup Bisquick
1 egg
1/2 cup beer

Cut the tops off of the peppers with a very sharp knife and clean out the seeds. Stuff with the cheese cubes. Set aside. Mix the Bisquick, egg and beer. Dip in each pepper to coat it and deep fry in grease for 2-4 minutes. Drain on paper towel before serving.

Herb Deviled Eggs

12 hard boiled eggs
6 tbsp. Parmesan Cheese
4 tbsp. Mayonnaise
1 tsp. dried basil, crushed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Peel the eggs, then cut in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks, and set the whites aside. Mash the yolks with a fork, in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the cheese, mayonnaise, basil, garlic and pepper until smooth. Spoon or use a pastry bag (or plastic bag with the corner tip cut off) the yolk mixture into the egg white halves. For garnish you can sprinkle with paprika, or a few snipped chives. Serve on a platter after they've been chilled.

By the way, do you need tips on caring for your poinsettia?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Entertaining: Chicken Wings

Last time I wrote about saving money on holiday entertaining and today I have some recipes for chicken wings or drumsticks you can make yourself. They are very expensive when buying from restaurants or the deli.

You can take off the pointy part of the wing at the joint with a very sharp knife before cooking or leave it as is. Either way is fine, and depends on your preference.

Grilled Chicken Wings

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. spicy mustard
2 Tbsp. lite or regular soy sauce
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb. chicken wings
3/4 cup BBQ Sauce (no for marinade)

Combine the first four ingredients; pour over the chicken in a shallow dish. Turn the chicken over a couple of times to evenly coat both sides of the wing. Refrigerate the wings for at least 30 minutes to marinate. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and discard the marinade. Grill the chicken for 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Brush lightly with the barbecue sauce. Grill 5 minutes longer or until chicken is done, turning and brushing frequently with remaining sauce.

Slow Roasted Chicken Wings

5 pounds frozen chicken wings
10 oz. soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. ground ginger

In a blender, combine soy sauce, sugar, honey, cayenne pepper, garlic and ginger. In a 9x13 baking pan lined with foil, pour the blended mixture over the chicken wings. Place on center oven rack and bake at 250°F for 2 1/2 hours, turning and basting every 30 minutes. Bake until chicken is tender.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Wings

16 chicken wings or legs
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper

6 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons orange juice, any type
1 cup white sugar
1 cup white vinegar

Season the flour with salt and pepper. (for an extra spicy chicken, add cayenne pepper). Dip the chicken in egg, then the flour. Fry the chicken in a large skillet using oil, until crispy, about 15 minutes. Drain and place in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, water, sugar and vinegar. Mix together and pour over the fried chicken. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked through and juices run clear.

Spicy Wings and Drumsticks

1/2 cup Mexican-style hot sauce (such as Valentina)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar, or more to taste
4 chicken thighs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a small baking dish. Mix the hot sauce, paprika, ground cayenne pepper, and brown sugar in a bowl, and stir until the mixture is well combined. Place the chicken thighs in the baking dish, and coat them with a layer of sauce. Cover the dish with foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake until the chicken has cooked through, and the sauce has thickened and started to brown, about 20 more minutes.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Entertaining: Saving Money on Food

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~Burton Hillis

I've been chatting with several people, like myself, that are on a tight budget for Christmas this year. I was looking over a couple of the inserts in our Sunday paper from local grocery stores with the expensive "holiday food" available. I truly do understand wanting to buy special food items for the holidays, but when you think about cutting corners, it's a good place to start. Presentation of your food can make it special, even if it's not the most expensive.

1. Boneless Beef Tenderloin: this can be $12.99 a pound or more. Why not substitute a pork loin which can be as low at $2.00 a pound. It can be served with the same sides, and spices or rubs, and roasted in the same way.

2. Seafood: Jumbo scallops or shrimp are easily $10.00 a pound. For half the price you can buy the medium size, and use them in the same way. The taste is the same, and the only difference would be in the length of time you cook them.

3. Spiral or Honey type hams: These type of hams can run $4.00 a pound and up. Watch sales for a "butt" cut of ham. They are very lean, and meaty, but sometimes they can be as low as .99 cents a pound. Glaze it yourself if you wish, or roast it plain, but I've used this cut of ham for years and it's delicious.

4. Wings: Buffalo, Asian, BBQ etc. are around $4.99 a pound. Make them yourself and a fraction of the cost. I'll share some recipes this week or next week.

5. Pre-made Cheese balls: Run $5.00 a ball and up. Cheese balls are SO easy to make. We have a lot of dips and spread recipes on OFL that are inexpensive and just as tasty. Anything that is premade is more costly, so consider making your own.

6. Breads: All types of quick breads, muffins and cupcakes are available in the stores, but for a fraction of the cost you can make your own. Below is the recipe I'm using to make breads for my husband to take to work, and as gifts for friends and teachers.

Poppyseed Bread

1 box cake mix *see below
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup poppy seeds
Optional: 1 tsp. juice or extract *see below

Basic instructions:
Beat together all the ingredients in a large bowl on slow to start, then on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Pour into 2 regular size bread pans that have been sprayed with pan spray, or you can coat in a very light coating of margarine or butter. Bake for 50 minutes in a 350 degree F. oven .

Notes: I am using several cakes flavors this Christmas. Banana, pineapple, orange, and lemon cake mixes. You can add a tsp. of lemon, orange or pineapple juice if you wish or a tsp. of an extract like vanilla for extra flavor.

Presentation: I use Christmas themed trays, and cut the bread ahead of time. (I don't include the ends of the bread because the kids and I eat them to taste test.). I place a row of one flavor, then a row of another, etc. on the tray. When it's filled (don't squash the pieces together) I cover with foil or plastic wrap. I also send a knife and butter with the tray.

As gifts: To give as a gift, I wrap the bread in colored plastic wrap, and tie a bow with a name tag around the bread. Another nice presentation is to place the wrapped bread in a gift bag, then add a box of holiday tea to the bag as well.

I wrote an article for OFL last month sharing ideas for making your own party platters.
Click here for the article: Do-it-Yourself Holiday Entertaining


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm, as always, grateful that you let me share my thoughts and ideas with you each week. Thank you for reading:)

~Brenda Jean

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving: Are You a Gravy Snob?

Friday I went over tips for stuffing your turkey, which is a tradition for almost everyone who serves turkey. My mom makes the best gravy, and we always have mash potatoes, gravy, and dressing when we go over there for the holidays. My husband's family tends to go more for dumplings along with mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing and whatever side dishes people bring that year. When I have Thanksgiving dinner just for us and our three kids I tend to go with the potatoes and gravy, and if I do makes dumplings, I use the leftover turkey and gravy the next day for dinner to make them.

So, I wonder, do you make your own gravy? I'm kind of a gravy snob, and I'll admit it. I love homemade gravy and really don't like anything using an envelope, can or jar that is premade. I know many, many people that do, and that's okay. I'm going to share how I make mine, plus give you a recipe from a vintage cookbook. Let's do the cookbook first. I did shorten the instruction somewhat because they were very long.

The Good Housekeeping Cook Book
1944 by J.J. Little and Ives Company
Basic Gravy Recipe

3 tbsp. drippings from chicken or turkey
3 tbsp. flour
2 cups cold water or stock

Remove the poultry to a platter when it's finished roasting. Pour the fat and drippings into a bowl, but don't scrape the pan bottom. Measure 3 tbsp. of the fat back into the pan it was roasted in. Stir in the flour, place the heat on low, and cook until it forms a paste. Stir in the cold water or stock very slowly, stirring constantly. Allow the mixture to boil gently until it thickens, then season with the salt and pepper. Serve hot. This makes about 2 cups. For more gravy than 2 cups add 2 tbsp. fat and 2 tbsp. flour to each cup of cold water or stock.

My Gravy Recipe

You'll need:
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
Chicken or turkey broth, 2 15 ounce cans

I season my turkey very simply with salt, pepper and a dusting of garlic powder. I pour in about 2 cups of water into the bottom of the roaster, put on the lid, and roast according to the weight instructions. The last half hour I take the lid off, and add another cup or two of water if it's dried out. I remove the turkey to a platter and sit the roaster on the front burner on medium heat. I add the two cans of broth to the pan, and more water. I can't give instructions on the amount of water- I add enough to make enough gravy, but not so much that it waters it down.

In a cup I put about 2 tbsp. of cornstarch and I add about a 1/2 cup cold water. I mix it up well with a fork. By this time the broth in the roaster should be boiling. I slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the pan while it's boiling, and mix it in really well with a whisk as I'm pouring it in. I simmer it and IF it's not thick enough I had the same amount of cornstarch again, using the same method.

I taste to see if it's seasoned well enough, if it needs a little salt, I'll add it, but usually it's fine.

Notes: I know this is not an exact recipe. It's what I've done for years and I've never had lumpy gravy. My gravy isn't thin, but it's not really thick either. I like using the cornstarch SO much better than the flour because if you don't have a lot of stock or drippings it can end up with a flour taste to it. This happens more with ham or beef gravy I've found.

What type of gravy do you prefer?

I have a menu on OFL for an alternative to turkey here:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving: Stuffing Your Turkey

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. ~E.P. Powell

There are so many traditions and variations on stuffing for turkey. My mom loves to experiment and changes a few ingredients each year. I know some cooks love taking shortcuts and using stuffing from a box. I say whatever your family loves best is what you should do. They are the ones that matter:) Before I share a few vintage stuffing tips and recipes, I want to make sure we all know the most recent safety on cooking a turkey with stuff. This is from the USDA:

If you choose to stuff your turkey, the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time; however, keep wet and dry ingredients separate. Chill all of the wet ingredients (butter/margarine, cooked celery and onions, broth, etc.). Mix wet and dry ingredients just before filling the turkey cavities. Fill the cavities loosely. Cook the turkey immediately. Use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.

REMINDER: Remove the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing. Cook separately.

The stuff recipe below is from the Home Comfort Cook Book published in St. Louis, Missouri in 1948. I love the simple, fresh ingredients that are used and how easy they are to put together. My notes are at the end of the recipe and variations.

Poultry Stuffing

4 cups bread
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tbsp. minced onion
2 tbsp. chicken or other fat
1/3 cup hot water or giblet stock
giblets, if desired

Break bread into small pieces and measure, packing down firmly. The bread should be stale but not dry. Add other ingredients, blending together with fork. Last add giblets which have been stewed in salt water, drained and chopped in small pieces. Sufficient for large chicken or small turkey. Use 2 cups bread for 3 pound chicken; 4 cups for 12 pound turkey.

Dressing Variations

Celery: Add 1/2 cup sliced celery to dressing, cooked until almost tender. Use celery water in dressing. Or cook celery with giblets.

Apple: Add 1 cup or more chopped apples to dressing.

Oyster: Add 1 cup drained oysters to dressing and moisten with oyster liquid plus milk.

Potato: Use all of half mashed potatoes instead of bread. One cup sausage meat may be included.

Rice: Use 3 cups cooked rice and 1 cup bread crumbs; 1/2 cup celery and 1/4 cup sliced green pepper.

Chestnut: Shell and skin 1 pound of chestnuts, cook until soft and put through potato ricer or sieve. Measure 2 cups pulp , add to 2 cups bread crumbs and proceed with recipe.

Cornbread: Use part or all cornbread in place of bread in Poultry Stuffing.

My Notes: I love adding apples and cornbread to my stuffing. I am not a fan of giblets, though I know many, many people are. I'm sure most of you know this, but chestnuts are not "water chestnuts".

The chestnuts referred to here are from the American or Chinese Chestnut tree, and the nut meat is frozen to keep it fresh, unless you have access to a grower and can buy them whole.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Economic Recipes from 1938

Today I have recipes to share from The Watkins Cook Book, published in 1938. I'm taking recipes from the section entitled Economy Recipes. I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for cost cutting tips and recipes using inexpensive ingredients. These are simple recipes that are easy for beginner cooks or those who have been cooking for years. I've also put my own tips in the notes after each recipe.

Potato Soup

2 cups mashed or leftover potatoes
3 tbsp. butter
4 cups milk
celery salt
onion powder

Cook potatoes and milk in a double boiler to just boiling. Beat with a rotary beater, add seasonings and butter. Serve very hot. Sprinkle with paprika right before serving.

Notes: use seasoning salt and ground black pepper to taste instead of the celery salt and onion powder. It's easier to keep on hand.

Swiss Steak

2 inch thick round steak
2 tbsp. bacon fat
2 medium sliced onions
4 medium diced carrots
1 can tomato soup
3 or 4 potatoes
celery salt
onion powder

Season the steak with salt and pepper. Sprinkle flour on the steak and pound it with a meat mallet to tenderize. Melt the fat and sear the meat on both sides, place in a roaster, pour can of tomato soup over meat, simmer one hour. Cover meat with the sliced onions, potatoes and carrots. Cover. Cook another hour on simmer. Remove meat and vegetables, add a little flour, make gravy. Serve with salad.

Notes: 2 inches is a really thick steak. If you get steak that is closer to an inch you obviously won't cook it as long. You can use vegetable oil instead of bacon fat if you wish.

Cornflake Pudding

2 cups cornflakes
2 cups milk
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
dash salt
1/3 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Place cornflakes in buttered baking dish. Blend all ingredients and pour over flakes. Bake in 350 degrees F. oven until mixture sets.

One Egg Cake

1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp. shortening
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour sifted
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
dash salt
1 tsp. vanilla

To creamed shortening add sugar and beaten egg. Alternately add milk and flour sifted with salt and baking powder. Add vanilla. Bake in square greased tin in moderate oven for about 30 minutes. Frost as desired.

Notes: a moderate oven is usually 350 degrees F. and an 8x8 baking pan will work for this recipe.

On OFL we have some great cakes that are easy to make and have been around for a very long time: Crazy Cake Recipes

~Brenda Jean

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Autumn Dinner Recipes

Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable, the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street or road by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese. Both are warnings of chill days ahead, fireside and topcoat weather. ~Hal Borland

Regular reader and contributor Liz told me about a fabulous Octoberfest dinner she gave for friends and family. I asked for her Sauerbraten recipe a few years ago since she said it was such a success (read below)!

Of everything, I think the gravy for the sauerbraten was the biggest surprise hit. They were about to just eat it like a side dish instead of just over the meat! ~Liz

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2005, Food Network
4-6 Servings
2 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, additional seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
12 juniper berries (natural food stores may have this in bulk)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 (3 ½ to 4 lb.) bottom round roast beef
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
18 dark old-fashioned gingersnaps, crushed fine
1/2 cup seedless raisins, optional

In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the water, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, onion, carrot, salt, pepper, bay leaves, cloves, juniper and mustard seeds. Cover and bring this to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Pat the roast dry and rub with vegetable oil and salt on all sides. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat, add the meat and brown on all sides, approx. 2-3 minutes per side.

When the marinade has cooled to a point where you can stick your finger in it and not be burned, place the meat in a non-reactive vessel and pour over the marinade (I used a very large hefty zip lock bag & placed it in a large dish). Place into the refrigerator for 3 days. If the meat is not completely submerged in the liquid, turn it over once a day. After 3 days of marinating, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Add the sugar to the meat and marinade, put it in a roasting pan, cover and place on the middle rack of the oven and cook until tender, approx. 4 hours. (Don't leave it in the plastic bag!)

Remove the meat from the vessel and keep warm. Strain the liquid to remove the solids. Return the liquid to the pan and place over medium high heat. Whisk in the gingersnaps and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps (I found if the cookies were crushed super fine enough, there were no lumps). Add the raisins if desired (I didn't). Slice the meat and serve with the sauce (gravy).

Super Deep Dish Baked Apples
From Comstock/Wilderness

30 oz. can Comstock/Wilderness® More Fruit Apple Pie Filling
1 1/4 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped (divided)
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 tsp. ground cinnamon (divided)
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cold butter (cut into pieces)

Preheat oven to 425°F. In medium bowl combine fruit filling, raisins, 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 cup nuts; divide and spoon into 4 individual ovenproof serving bowls. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, butter and 1 tsp. cinnamon. With a pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until a crumbly mixture is formed, stir in 3/4 cups walnuts. Divide and top each of the 4 bowls of filling with crumbly mixture. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until pie filling is bubbly and topping is crispy. Serve with ice cream if desired. Makes 4-6 servings

Squash with Apples and Dried Cranberries

1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 Jonathan or Macintosh apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
2 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. unsalted butter, melted

Place squash in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover saucepan and steam 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from steamer basket and set aside. Combine the apples, cranberries and sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook 12 minutes, stirring frequently until juice has evaporated. Add apple mixture to squash. Cook 4 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Stir in melted butter and salt to taste and toss.

Need a new turkey dressing this holiday season?


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Snacks For Teens

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion. ~Henry David Thoreau

We are having a Halloween party for our teens this weekend so I've been thinking about snack and appetizer recipes that I can make for the crowd. We are asking everyone to come dressed as zombies, and we have decorations I've either saved over the years or I bought after Halloween last year.

I don't go all out for themed food because their friends are 15 through 18 years old, and mostly boys. They do love the decorations but inhale the food too quickly to appreciate anything cute. I do have Halloween and fall themed serving platters and bowls that I use each year. I'm making two pans of brownies, and putting out a large bowl of Halloween candy. I will probably serve tortilla chips, nacho cheese and the fixings. I also love dips and I might serve one or two of the following recipes for those that want something besides nachos.

Crab Dip

2 packages cream cheese (8 ounce each)
2 cans crab meat (6-8 ounces)
2 tablespoons horseradish
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped green onion or chives

Combine all ingredients with a large wooden spoon until mixed well. Cover and chill until just before serving time.

Dried Beef Dip

3 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each)
4 ounce jar dried beef
1/2 of a large sweet onion, minced

Shred the dried beef, and soak in warm water for 5 minutes to soften. Drain and add to the cream cheese and minced onion. This can also be put into a food processor to blend more completely. Scrape out into a serving dish and serve with bagel pieces, or pretzels.

Clam Dip

8 ounce block of cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 10 1/2 ounce can of minced clams, drained
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried basil
dash or two of cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Soften cream cheese at room temperature. Blend with sour cream. Add the clams, onion, spices and lemon juice. Mix together well until smooth. Chill til serving. Makes 2 cups. Serve with vegetables to dip, pretzels or crackers.

I have an article on OFL featuring Halloween entertaining ideas from 1905. Click Here.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

1920 Luncheon Tips: No Pots & Pans

Today I have tips from the September 1920 issue of The Ladies Home Journal. I've had it in my vintage magazine collection for probably over ten years now. Back then it was mostly fiction, but there were sewing and entertaining tips as well. One article gives tips on throwing a luncheon without having to use pots and pans.

The first dish is an oyster relish using a lemons.

Cut the lemons into halves crosswise and remove the pulp. Half bury these cups in small paper cases (they look like muffin or cupcake papers) and fill them with with small oysters and a few bits of lemon pulp. At the last moment (before serving) pour over a dressing made of grated horseradish, vinegar, salt and paprika . Cover the top with whipped cream. Garnish with parsley.

I think you could use a prepared horseradish and add the paprika to it for the same type of flavoring.

The next dish suggested is a salmon soufflé served "very hot".

Mix one cupful of finely shredded canned salmon with one cupful of bechamel sauce (most cookbooks have this recipe or you can Google it.) and a cupful of bread crumbs; add to it two well-beaten eggs, a pinch of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Turn into paper cases; bake about 25 minutes.

I'm guessing the oven should be set at 325 degrees F., and I would put the paper cases on a baking sheet. The salmon should be picked free of the bones and any larger pieces of skin.

Next, the article suggests serving "Manhattan case muffins" instead of bread.

Sieve two cupfuls of flour, two and a half teaspoonfuls of flour, two and a half teaspoonfuls of baking powder, a half teaspoonful of salt into a bowl. Rub in two tablespoonfuls of butter lightly; add a quarter cup of sugar, one and a quarter cups of milk, two well beaten eggs and a cupful of cold boiled rice. Put into paper cases; bake in hot oven.

A hot oven is usually considered 400 degrees F. and I would guess 15-20 minutes for baking time.

The article suggests a method for preparing potatoes that I love because they serve a whole potato stuffed vertically of all things, instead of on it's side like we commonly do now.

Wash and bake large potatoes in their skins; when cooked cut off the tops, take out the insides and pass them through a sieve. Add two tablespoonfuls of grated cheese, two tablespoonfuls of warm butter, a little pepper and a pinch of salt and mix all together. Fill the skins with this, using a potato ricer, then sprinkle over a little grated cheese, also a few little pieces of butter. Serve in paper cases.

In addition to these dishes the article recommends serving chicken, lemon meringue pie, tea and coffee.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Handy Household Tips from 1915

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

Today I have some neat tips from the October 1915 edition of the Modern Priscilla magazine. I've had this copy for many years, and love to get it out each fall.

A Crocheting Help: When crocheting I always have a safety pin handy. When work is left unfinished, put the pin in the loop, close the pin, and many dropped or unraveled stitches are saved.

Making Over Worn Nightgowns: When a nightgown becomes worn at the neck and sleeves, cut the top off under the arms, sew on a band of beading, buy one yard of muslin, cut out neck and sleeves in one piece, sew under arm seams and join to the beading. The neck may be cut round or square and the result is a nightgown which will wear some time.

Pockets for Kitchen Aprons: A good point to remember when making new kitchen aprons is to place the pocket on the left side. It will not catch on the gas range, the food-chopper handle, or the chicken house door. Again, the housewife almost invariably stands with her right side nearest her work and for his reason the pocket is nearly always the first torn spot on the apron.

Old Glove Fingers: Cut the forefingers and thumbs from old gloves. Keep them in a box by the kitchen sink. When you have vegetables to pare, slip them on these two fingers of the right hand. They protect them from the black stains so apt to disfigure the hands after this task.


To Prevent Flour Lumping: A spoonful of flour added to a fruit filling for pie, or any other wet mixture, will not become lumpy if mixed with the same amount of sugar before adding. The same is true of cornstarch in making desserts or gravies.

Quick Way to Prepare Coconut: To prepare fresh coconut for any use, in place of using the grater in the old way, just put the coconut through the meat chopper. It comes out light and fluffy and can be done in a few seconds ; and best of all, you have no bruised and bleeding fingers from using the grater.

On OFL I wrote an article on preventing bugs from wintering indoors this winter. Read it here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Old Fashioned Cookie Recipes

I love baking cookies, but hate having to buy special ingredients. I only keep basic ingredients on hand, and like to keep things simple. Yes, I'm a spur of the moment baker, except at the holidays. These recipes were in a booklet my dad gave me this summer. It was printed by the Detroit Free Press in the 1950's and titled The Detroit Free Press Women's Department Service Bureau. The cookie recipes are basic and simple, which I love. I did change some of the text because the publication has typos and awkward wording.

Rolled Oatmeal Cookies

1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup thin cream
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oatmeal (rolled fine)
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Beat egg until light. Add sugar, cream and milk to egg. Add oatmeal and flour, baking powder and salt mixed and sifted together. Chill, roll out on a lightly floured board, cut with a floured cookie cutter and bake on a greased cookie sheet in a moderate oven at 350 degrees F.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies

1 1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs

Cream butter, add sugar and well beaten eggs. Mix well. Add flour and baking powder sifted together. Mix to a dough. Shape in rolls, wrap in waxed paper and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake or for at least 12 hours. Slice thin and bake on a greased and floured cookie sheet in a 375 degrees F. oven.

Delicious Drop Cookies

2/3 cup shortening
1/2 white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour milk
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Cream the shortening with the sugars. Add the eggs, unbeaten, and then the sour milk. Sift the flour with the soda and spices in another bowl. Add to the first mixture. It may be necessary to add a bit more flour to make the batter the correct consistency. Drop on a greased baking sheet and bake in a hot oven (400 degrees F.) for 8-10 minutes.

Butter Cream Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 1/4 cup cake or pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Cream butter and add the sugar gradually. Add egg yolks and mix. Add the flour and baking powder sifted together. Mix thoroughly. Shape with a cookie press or mold into slightly flattened balls and dip tops in unbeaten egg white, then in granulated sugar. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 15 minutes. Makes 4 dozen.

Notes: With simple recipes like these it's easy to make changes in the spices, and change the flavor of the cookies.

On OFL I have an article with spicy cookie recipes for Fall treats.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Old Fashioned Fall Apple Recipes

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

I love autumn as many of you know, and apples are one of my favorite things this time of year, especially when they are fresh from an orchard. I finished an article for OFL last week with old fashioned apple recipes, and afterwards I found another one of my old cookbooks that had a few neat recipes. As I said, I love visiting orchards, but sometimes they aren't the most inexpensive place to buy apples, especially if they're geared more towards tourists. I picked up a bag of fresh Gala apples at the local grocery store for .59 cents a pound this week.

The following recipes are from 1933 edition of Magic Chef Cooking published by the American Stove Company in St. Louis, Missouri.

Scalloped Apples
Temperature 400 degrees F.; Time, 30 minutes

6 medium apples
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup butter

Pare, core and slice the apples. Place in a buttered casserole and add the cinnamon, salt, lemon juice and water. Work the sugar, flour and butter together until crumb like in consistency. Spread this over the apples and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. 6 servings.

Apple Dumplings
Temperature, 425 degrees F.; Time, 35-40 minutes

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup fat
4 1/2 tbsp. water
6 apples
6 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. butter

For Syrup:
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter

Make a paste of the flour, salt, fat and water according to the directions for Plain Pastry (below). Roll out and cut into 6 inch squares. Place a pared and cored apple on each square. Add 1 tbsp. of sugar, 1/8 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp. butter to each apple. Fold the dough around the apples. Prick with a fork and place in a baking dish. Heat the water, sugar and butter together until the sugar and butter are melted. Then pour this syrup around the dumplings. Bake at 425 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. 6 servings.

Plain Pastry

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup fat
4-5 tablespoons ice water

Sift the salt with the flour which has been sifted once before measuring. The fat should be worked into this, care being taken not to soften it more than necessary. Use a fork or two knives to cut it in. When the fat has been worked until it is of uniform size, add the the cold water, slowly, until the mixture becomes a stiff dough which will hold together in one ball.

Note: Use shortening for the fat in both recipes.

Apple Tarts
Temperature, 400 degrees; Time, 35 minutes

3 cups apples
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 pint cream

Mix the sliced apples with the sugar, salt, flour and cinnamon. Put into small pastry lined tart tins. Pour in enough cream to almost cover. Strips of pastry may be put across the top, if desired, or the tarts can be baked with no covering. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

Plain Tart Pastry

1 cup pastry flour
1/3 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter
3 tbsp. ice water

Measure the flour after sifting once. Sift again with the salt. Cut in the butter and add enough ice water to make a stiff dough. The dough may be baked over small pans made expressly for the purpose, or muffin pans may be used. Makes 6 tart shells.

You can read my new article with more old fashioned apple recipes here.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Homemaking Tips from 1933

I was cleaning my bedroom earlier tonight, and was distracted by my bookshelves. Yes, it happens often:) I pulled out my copy of Foods and Home Making by Carlotta C. Greer, published in 1933. I thumbed through it to find a few tidbits I could share with you. I love the tip on how to be seated and how to sit properly in a chair. I have two teenagers that would have trouble keeping their feet on the floor!

Butter Spreaders: Individual knives are used for spreading butter on bread or crackers. Butter spreaders may be used for placing cream cheese or marmalade on bread. Do not spread these foods on bread. A butter spreader placed on a bread and butter plate parallel with the edge of the table is easily grasped with the right hand.

Eating Crackers with Soup: It is good manners to break up crackers and drop them in soup. Crackers should be eaten somewhat as bread. Break off a bit at a time and eat the small piece without dipping it in the soup.

Crisp Crackers: If crackers are allowed to stand exposed to the air, they absorb moisture and lose their crispness. They become crisp again when heated. Place crackers on a pie pan or baking sheet. Bake them in a hot oven-400 degrees F-for 8 to 10 minutes.

Cake Failures

-Cracked Crust: too much moisture or sugar or baking powder

-Dry: too much flour or too slow of an oven

-Tough: too little fat

-Heavy: too little baking powder or falling during baking or after removing from oven. Falling of cakes may be due to-

1.Too much fat or sugar or baking powder
2.Too little flour
3.Jarring during baking

How and where shall we be seated at the table? Custom makes some things correct. It has been customary to stand behind the chair in which we are going to sit at the table. Stand until the hostess starts to sit down. Then, unless it is inconvenient, move to the left of your chair and be seated. Rise from the left of the left of the chair, also. Sit straight in your chair with your feet resting on the floor-not on the rungs of the chair. If this position if not comfortable, you may cross your feet, but not your knees.

On OFL we have an article on one family's tradition of "sewing day".


Monday, September 27, 2010

October Garden Tips

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

We are almost to October believe it or not. Autumn officially arrived last week, though in California I hear it feels like the middle of summer with the heat wave they are going through right now. Here in Michigan we are back to cool mornings and nights down into the 40's already. It's time to start preparing for cold weather while the days are cool and sunny.

Once the frost starts damaging annuals, or they simply aren't looking nice any longer, pull up the plants and put them in the compost pile IF they are healthy and without mildew or other disease. There are some exceptions: if you want the plant to reseed where you have it now, then leave on the seed heads and allow them to dry and scatter. I do this with morning glories, calendula and nasturtiums. Some annuals have seeds that birds enjoy and those can be left too.

Do clean up any plants, leaves, fruit, vegetables or debris that looks diseased. Do not compost, but bag it up and dispose or burn if you are allowed to do so where you live. Some diseases and pests can survive the winter if left on the ground throughout the winter.

If you have small ponds or water features with plants, you can trim the leaves off once they turn yellow. It's better to remove fallen tree leaves from the water as they gather there instead of waiting until spring. These can be composted also.

Reminder: I know I've nagged about this, but remember to pull up your nonhardy bulbs once the foliage has died back or after a light frost. This includes: tuberous begonias, caladiums, cannas, dahlias, gladioli, and tuberoses. Gently wipe away the dirt with a rag and store them in peat, sawdust or even shredded newspaper in a dry cool area that doesn't get colder than about 60 degrees throughout the winter.

Lastly, clean your tools before winter after you've finished your fall chores. Wash them with soapy, hot water and dry off with a rag. Sharpen any that need it and rub wood handles with mineral oil before putting them away.

Enjoy these lovely fall days. ~Brenda

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Muffins or Gems? What is the Difference?

I've always wondered what the difference was between a muffin and a gem. Gem recipes are always lumped in with the muffin recipes, and are made in muffin tins. So, what IS the difference? It's a little like Jello became synonymous with gelatin, though it was a brand name. The Gem Company made and sold kitchen equipment, including muffin tins. They were such a popular company that people started calling muffins cooked in their tins "gems". I looked through my cookbooks and found some recipes for gems to share.

Apple Gems
Modern Priscilla Cook Book, 1924

1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
5 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. molasses
1 cup milk
4 sour apples

Sift dry ingredients, add molasses and milk and beat until smooth. Peel and chop apples, adding them to batter. Put into muffin-tins and bake in a moderately hot oven. Time in oven, 25 minutes. Temperature, 375 degree F. Servings 12.

Raspberry Bran Gems
Good Housekeeping's Book of Menus,
Recipes & Household Discoveries 1926

1 cupful graham flour
1 cupful whole-wheat flour
1 cupful bran
1 teaspoonful soda
2 teaspoonfuls baking-powder
1 tablespoonful sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoonfuls cooking oil
1 teaspoonful salt
2 cupfuls sour milk or buttermilk
1/2 cupful raspberry jam

Mix all the dry ingredients together; add the oil, the egg well beaten, the sour milk, and the jam. Beat together thoroughly and pour into well-greased gem pans. Bake twenty-five minutes in a 400 degree F. oven.

Notes: You can sour milk by taking away a tsp. of milk and adding a tsp. of vinegar to the remaining milk. Let it sit a minute, stir and use. If you have non-stick coated muffin pans then just spray with cooking spray instead of greasing or buttering the pan.

Date Gems
Rumford Complete Cook Book 1934

1 cup chopped dates
2 cups flour
1/2 level teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 level teaspoons Rumford Baking Powder

Stone (pit) the dates and chop coarsely. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut the shortening into the flour, then mix in the dates and form to a stiff batter with the beaten egg and milk. Bake in hot, well-greased gem pans in a moderate oven about twenty minutes.

Note: Moderate usually means 350 degrees F.

On OFL we have muffin recipes that will be great to bake this fall.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Spread Your Own Party" from 1934

Anyone who's followed this blog for awhile or my writing on Old Fashioned Living knows I love finding articles or books with references to old fashioned parties and celebrations. Though I love all of our modern technology and being able to chat with all of you online, we've kind of lost some of the simple ways to entertain along the way. I was looking through my cookbooks this weekend and found an idea for a canape party. I think this would be wonderful for a baby or bridal shower. It's from the Practical Recipes for the Housewife, published by the Detroit Times in 1934.

Let canapes run riot in your after-bridge refreshment menus-indeed, they have to the extent that hostesses are now having "spread your own" parties. By that we mean they simply provide the canape spreads, the crackers, and let the guests help themselves. Unsalted crackers are favored for the canape spread-toasted if you wish, or some prefer Melba Toast, which it is possible to buy if you do not wish to go to the trouble of making it.

Celery, olives, marinated in salad oil, and perhaps salted nuts will add sufficient variety to satisfy anyone's appetite. However, if a more elaborate menu is desired, one creamed hot dish with tiny biscuits, followed by a simple dessert may be included.

They suggested using some of these canape spreads that serve 6-8 persons.

Roquefort and Cream Cheese Spread
Mash one four ounce package Roquefort cheese with one three ounce package cream cheese, one tablespoon minced onions and one-quarter cup top milk or cream.

Cottage Cheese and Green Pepper Spread
Combine one-half pound fresh cottage cheese with two tablespoons minced green pepper, one tablespoon minced onion, a dash of cayenne and one tablespoon garlic flavored French dressing. (Allow one cut clove of garlic to stand in French dressing for several hours or longer.)

Lobster Spread
Combine one six-ounce can of lobster, minced, one tablespoon lemon juice, one and a half tablespoon mayonnaise and one tablespoon garlic flavored French dressing (above).

Minced Ham and Egg Spread
Combine one-eighth pound minced cooked ham (two-thirds cup) with three shelled hard-cooked eggs, minced, two tablespoons minced onion, one and a half teaspoon prepared mustard, one teaspoon bottled condiment sauce and two tablespoons mayonnaise. (Kitchen Bouquet is considered a condiment sauce.)

Pineapple and Chicken Spread
Combine one-quarter cup canned crushed pineapple with one-half cup chopped chicken and two tablespoons mayonnaise.

Crabmeat Spread
Mix one six and a half ounce can of crabmeat, minced with one-half cup chopped celery, one-quarter cup minced pimento, one quarter cup garlic flavored mayonnaise, one-eighth teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon paprika.

On OFL we have some tea sandwich recipes for parties.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Warm and Hearty Fall Soups

The days and nights are starting to cool off here in Michigan finally. I always think of baking and fixing soup when it cools off. They both make the house smell wonderful, and warm the body. Today I have a few soup recipes to try out this fall.

Potato Bacon Cheese Soup

6 to 8 large baking potatoes
2 cups whole or 2% milk
4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup butter or margarine
8-12 strips bacon, cooked, drained
1 cup sour cream, light or regular
8 oz. (1 cup) Mexican Blend cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Bake or microwave potatoes until tender. Cool until you can handle, then peel. Mash or dice the potatoes for the soup. In a large pan, melt the butter, then mix in the flour by stirring it in to the melted butter. Cook this mixture on a medium heat for 1 minute, then slowly whisk in the milk and broth until everything is dissolved and mixed smooth. Add the salt and pepper, potatoes, cooked and cheese. Crumble the bacon and mix in. Cook the soup until the cheese has melted and all is heated through. At the last minute, stir in the sour cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Barley and Split Pea Soup

2 cups split peas
6 cups water
2 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth (4 cups)
1/3 cup minced sweet onion
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried, crushed thyme
1/2 cup barley
6 cups water
1 cup carrots, diced
2 cups diced cooked ham

Drizzle a tiny bit of oil in a soup pot, and saute the onion til softened. Rinse the split peas. Place in a soup pot with the onions, adding 6 cups of water, chicken broth, seasonings, and garlic. Boil for 2-3 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for about 1 to 1/2 hours or until peas are tender.

Meanwhile, combine the barley with 6 cups of water in a saucepan. Boil one minute, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 1-1/2 hours or until most of the water has been absorbed. (You can also buy quick cooking barley and cook according to directions.)Drain the barley using a colander and add to the split peas. Stir in chopped carrots and the ham. Simmer 15 to 30 minutes longer until the carrots are tender, stirring occasionally. Makes 6 servings.

Beefy Mushroom Potato Soup

1 lb. ground chuck
7-10 potatoes (peeled and cubed)
2 cans low sodium cream of mushroom soup
2 cans beef broth
1 16 oz. light sour cream
1 cup very thinly sliced and halved sweet onion

Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until tender. In a soup pot brown beef and onions. Drain fat. Add the cream of mushroom soup with the beef broth and heat to boiling. Reduce the heat to low and add the sour cream. Drain the potatoes and add to the soup pan as well. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

On OFL we have more hearty soup recipes here.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Garden Tips for September

A late summer garden has a tranquility found no other time of the year. ~William Longgood

It's just about time to plant spring bulbs. Remember, if the bulb is a smaller type of bloom such as crocus, snowdrops or any miniature variety of daffodil, tulip etc. you'll want to plant them in groups, fairly close together to really get the most from them.

Walk around your property and make decisions on if and where you want any new flower, vegetable or herb beds. Work up the area, remove rocks, and add any organic material now, so it has fall and winter to start working in the soil. You will appreciate this SO much in the spring when you have a fertile area for planting.

Don't forget to rake up crabapples that have fallen. They can be used for apple butter, cider, and jelly. If all else fails, compost them.

If you have tomato plants, start watching the weather forecast for early frost warnings. Cover the plants with a sheet or plastic on the nights it may frost. Once we start getting heavy frost, pull up the plants and hang them in the basement to finish ripening or use the green tomatoes in recipes like we have on OFL.

September and October are perfect in cold climates for planting evergreens such as pine, spruce, hemlock or yew. Watch for deals at nurseries, and plant as soon as you purchase them. Don't go deeper than an inch or two lower than they were planted in the container. Water heavily, and give them a mulch of chopped leaves. If deer are a problem for you in the winter, be sure to surround the new evergreens with chicken wire or other fencing for the winter.

On OFL we have recipes for using green tomatoes in recipes here.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Family Menu: A Patio Supper from 1969

I was trying to decide on a menu to share that could be used for Labor Day, and happened to run across my beat up copy of a Pillsbury magazine from 1969. This menu is for use when "the temperature soars and cooking's out of the question". The notes, if I have any, are after each recipe.

Walking Sandwich

12 slices rye bread, buttered
6 slices Swiss cheese
12 thin slices cooked corned beef, chilled
Summer Slaw dressing(below)

For each sandwich, fill between slices of rye with Swiss cheese, 2 slices corned beef, and Summer Slaw dressing. Makes 6 servings.

Summer Slaw

1 tablespoon mustard
1/2 salad dressing
3 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1/4 tsp. caraway seed
3 cups finely shredded cabbage

Stir mustard into salad dressing. Add cream and vinegar. Toss onion and caraway seed with chilled cabbage; add only enough of the dressing to moisten, then toss. Pass the remaining dressing with the sandwich in the above recipe.

Notes: I like using the cabbage mix with carrots included.

Saucy Baked Beans

6 slices bacon, cut in one inch pieces
3 1-pound cans (6 cups) baked beans in sauce
1 8 ounce can seasoned tomato sauce
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
4 drops hot pepper sauce

Cook the bacon until almost crisp; drain. Combine the bacon and beans; add tomato sauce, onion, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, salt and pepper sauce. Baked beans, uncovered, in 2-quart casserole at 300 degrees F. for 3-5 hours. 6 servings.

Notes: This could easily be made in the crock pot on high.

Ginger Peachy

4 cups sliced fresh peaches
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. honey
dash salt
2 tbsp. finely chopped candied ginger
vanilla ice cream

Combine peaches, juice, honey, ginger and salt; mix gently. Cover; chill thoroughly. To serve, spoon over vanilla ice cream. Makes 5-6 servings.

On OFL we have another menu for Labor Day here:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Natural Cleaning Tips

Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest; Home-keeping hearts are happiest. ~Henry W. Longfellow

I haven't shared cleaning tips in awhile, so I thought I'd go over a few of them today. I really try to avoid toxic chemicals whenever possible, both in the house and garden. Sure, I have more weeds than some gardeners, and I learn things by trial and error, but I think it's worth it.

Homemade Scouring Powder: Use equal amounts of borax, baking powder and dry table salt on a damp sponge. Scrub and rinse. Use this on surfaces that don't have special coatings or ones that tend to scratch.

Freshen the Garbage Disposal: Grind up a lemon or an orange after using it for juice or recipes.

Mildew Remover: Combine 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup borax in warm water. Mix this right before using. Use this paste with a brush to remove mildew on showers and other surfaces.

Easy Copper Cleaner: Make a paste of white vinegar and salt. Apply to copper surfaces with a rag, then rub clean.

Non Toxic Drain Opener: Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 1 cup vinegar and and a few cups of boiling water. Pour immediately down the drain. Continue to run hot water from the faucet until the sink is draining better.

Stain Remover: 1/4 cup borax mixed with 2 cups cold water. Use a sponge to apply the borax mixture to stains made by blood, coffee, mildew, urine, mud or chocolate. Allow the mixture to dry, then scrub the spot with a brush or rag. You can also soak fabric in the same mixture before throwing it in the washer.

Odors: A simple bowl of baking soda left in a small area such as a car trunk, a closet, a suitcase etc. will help remove smells. Another simple thing to try with musty refrigerators, freezers or trunks is to stuff them with crumpled newspaper and close the door. I have done this, and it does help remove the smell. It does take a few days to a week though.

Carpet Freshener: Combine baking soda with a few drops of essential oil. Once it's mixed well, and dry, sprinkle this on your carpet, allow it to sit for a half hour to an hour, then vacuum. If you haven't done this before, do try a small area first to test. I've never had a problem, but it's better to be safe then sorry.

On OFL we have a great article on stain removal at


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Catching Up With Readers

The summer has been so busy that I missed a few comments and questions along the way. I thought today I would catch up with readers:)

I live in northern Ohio, Huron and we are finally cooling off a little bit today. We have had some rain and everything is perking up. The sky has the fall look to it today. The prairie grass in the back is starting to bloom. The Indian Grass is starting to look beautiful and the Little Blue Stem on the front hill is starting to look beautiful too, it has not turned its bronze color yet but it is near. My ornamental grasses are starting to bloom too. I do love this time of year. But there is something nice about every season. ~Marlene

I agree with Marlene, my grasses are looking pretty too. One of my favorite things this year though were the gladiolas that I forgot to dig up last year. They came back beautifully despite my forgetfulness. I think we had enough snow that they had good insulation and I had planted them deep enough that they weren't killed off by the cold. Volunteer blooms are always the loveliest:) This is one of the gladiolas below in front of my Maiden Grass.

Salmon Burgers ~ My mom used to make these when we were kids. I asked her for the recipe and attempted to make it myself, but picking out the bones took forever! When you say to "pick out the bones," do you mean just the larger bones or every single bone there? ~topiaryrose

I should have put a note in about the bones. Sorry about that! I only pick out the round hard bones that are the vertebrae of the fish. The others are so tiny and soft that they just mix in with the salmon and the breadcrumbs. I've also read that those teeny bones add to the nutrients of the recipe.

As a retired teacher, I thank you for raising, caring children. They will be successful adults you can continue to be proud of NOW, what is a 'Johnny-Jump-Up? ~Elizabeth

You are welcome Elizabeth. I hope they grow up to teach their children about the nature around them just like I did. Below is a picture of a Johnny-Jump-Up:

The proper name is Viola cornuta (Violaceae). It looks like a cross between a pansy and a violet, and the petals are always a mixture of purple and yellow. It's much tinier than a pansy, about half the size.

Thanks everyone! Remember, you can email me with questions and comments, and even if I don't respond immediately, I will when time allows.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Summer Recipes

The time will come when winter will ask you what you were doing all summer. ~Henry Clay

I'm still in denial about the summer coming to an end. Although it's so dry and hot here that I feel like fall is a very long way off. That might be part of the problem. I was cleaning over the weekend and ran across some of my clipped recipes from at least ten years ago. I sorted through them, and found some good end of summer meal ideas. As I mentioned before, I'm really trying not to use the oven until things cool off, but I have the grill and stovetop, which is what I've been using.

Pork Chop Marinade

1 cup Italian dressing
1/2 cup salsa or tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic pepper (or garlic powder)
4 fairly thick pork chops *see note

Combine the ingredients (except the chops) into a small bowl to mix. Place the pork into a plastic or ceramic dish, and pour over the marinade. Turn to coat them on both sides. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or more (over night is fine). Remove the chops from the marinade and grill until they are no longer pink, turning often. If you want to baste the chops while grilling, hold out some of marinade when you make it, and put it in a small container, NOT on the pork with the remainder of the marinade.

Note: You can use any type of chops-- boneless pork works really well, and you can use the same amount of marinade with more of those since they are thin.

Sausage, Cabbage and Potato Skillet

1 small head of cabbage, cut up into smaller pieces
4 large potatoes, cut into chunks
1 pound Polish sausage, Brats or Italian sausage, cut into thick slices
1 cup chicken broth or water
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
Optional: ground black pepper

In a large skillet or pan, mix the broth and the mustard. Add the cabbage and potatoes, bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Add the sausage, cover again, and cook until the sausage is done.

Note: I like using the sausage that is made at the store, so it's not cooked. This recipe can use leftover grilled sausage, or you can cook it on the stove in a little water while the cabbage and potatoes are cooking. If you use smoked sausage then you just slice and add to the pan without cooking ahead.

Sauteed Mushrooms

These are so easy to fix on the stove while burgers or steak are cooking. Serve them at the table to top the burgers, or they can be eaten with steak.

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. minced fresh garlic or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. spicy steak sauce

Melt the butter, add the mushrooms and other ingredients. Cook for about 2 minutes, then reduce the heat as low as you can, and simmer the mushrooms for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Spicy Shrimp Marinade

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced fine
1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder

Combine the ingredients and add shrimp of any size that has been cleaned, peeled and deveined. Let the shrimp marinate for about 15-30 minutes. The shrimp can be cooked in a large skillet for a couple of minutes on each side until they are no longer pink, or they can be grilled. We use a grill pan, stirring them while they cook. They only take a few minutes to cook. Sprinkle them with fresh lemon juice and serve warm.

I always serve salad, fresh tomatoes, and baked potatoes or bread with the grilled meat. We also eat a lot of fruit instead of dessert, except when we splurge on ice cream as we did tonight. My husband and daughter picked up "Death by Chocolate" ice cream:)