Thursday, July 29, 2010

Grandma's cookbook.

I acquired one of my grandmother's cookbooks not too long ago.  I don't know if she had a lot or if she used it a lot.  It is rather worn but that could be from storage etc.  I imagine my grandmother as cooking by experience mostly.  I did not know her well, I have only two memories of her.  She died when I was around 9.  I do not know how my mother got it (paternal grandmother) but she did somehow and I picked it out of the box of goodies she was offering along with a pair of gaudy costume earrings my daughter wanted, a cloth napkin, and a nicnak souvenir plate from USSR that perhaps one of my uncles picked up while on duty somewhere?   Anyways, This is Meals, Tested, Tasted, and Approved (Favorite Recipes and Menus From Our Kitchens to Yours) by Good Housekeeping,  copyright 1930, fifth edition 1932. 

The thing that is great about this cookbook is it actually has not very many recipes but is filled with helpful guides on everything from weight management to feeding infants and children, quick meals (which incorporates the paragraph "The last half-hour before serving.." seeing as how my quick meals take only 30 min. I am exhausted) and how to conduct formal and informal breakfast, luncheon, and dinner or "The Etiquette of Service"  This is my favorite part.

You will have to click on the images to be able to fully see and read.

I have put in images of the Informal Dinner.  This is what is considered a family meal or perhaps a guest or two.  Having parents who grew up during this time period, I am relatively sure that neither of their households consisted of meals like this.  My grandmother ran a farm kitchen.  No maid here. For sure.  Growing up we, as far as I was concerned, fully set the table for dinner.  Plate, spoon (big for dad), knife, fork, glass and often a napkin.  Sometimes there was a centerpiece, but for the most part that just got in the way and didn't leave space for the food.  Now my kids put a plate and a fork on the table. Period.  If they want a drink, they get up and get one.  If they need a napkin, they get up and get one, unless I have the foresight to think that what we are eating is potentially messier than normal or uses hands then I will sometimes grab a few paper towels and rip them into smaller pieces.  Frugality is the rule.  I also serve straight out of the pot.  Hot pads abound on my table.  The less dishes to wash of course.  Now if I happen to have (almost never) a fancier dinner with guests, this might get cleaned up a little.  Also I worked for catering for several years, even as a supervisor.  I set Tens of Thousands of tables.  Really.  We did banquets as large as 2000 for a ton of college students to as small as two big wigs.  I served Ambassadors and Queens and Prophets all the way to farmers and kids.  I Could set a table nice, if I Wanted to.

Look at that list of items needed just to set the table!!!!  and there are detailed instructions on how to serve set the napkins, right down to removing covers from serving dishes etc.  Everything!  Versus, of course, the Formal Dinner.    And what to do with the maid.  Take a glance at the previous section just above the title about the maids and their outfits from the formal section.

Really This is so precious.  I couldn't even begin to imagine living this way.  It's all Hollywood glamour and middle class image you see in the old movies but I doubt most of America lived that way.  Hello! 1932 depression!  Can you imagine all this during the great dust bowl where daily things were coated with a thick layer of dust?  One account I read of they would set the table with the plates upside down to keep as much dust off as they could before eating then quickly turning them over to put food on them and still getting 'salt and pepper' on it.

Still it's good to be reminded of all that properness and whatnot.  If I were to do this now, there is no way I could do the laundry and clean the house.  I would be spending half the day just setting the table.

I hope to try some of the recipes soon.  One of my favorite titles?  Main dish - Bacon and Bananas.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cinnamon Maple Almonds

One of my favorite thing when I worked at the County building was when the freedom festival would set up on the lawn outside.  Every break and lunch I would be outside wandering the booths and smelling the wonderful food.  I would allow myself to buy a bag of those irresistible cinnamon roasted almonds.  MMMM.    I have a sugared nut recipe I use quite often, but it's best on pecans and not really the same, although very yummy and addicting in its own right.    I finally found the secret to those wonderful almonds.  Maple and vanilla.  The cinnamon of course was a given.  I'm not sure how I can across it all, I probably was searching and put a few recipes together from the internet.  For a while I was making these all the time,  I ate a ton of nuts!  But then I let it go and forgot how I mixed the glaze.  When I started wanting them again I had to start all over, except knowing that it had maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla.  I couldn't remember if it had sugar or not. My memory is really fading as I get older.  Some things I remember very well though.  I finally found a recipe that looked close.  It had the sugar in it.  When I put the nuts on the pan I could immediately tell that this was not the recipe but I already had about 3 cups of nuts mixed in and so I still baked them.  They ended up almost burnt tasting and very greasy but good enough to keep around and snack on.  I cooked them less than it said to, so oh well.

It seemed to me that I never actually baked them, and again I wasn't really remembering sugar added.  I do remember adding Mapeline, but I don't remember if that was just to enhance my cheap syrup.  I know I didn't use real maple syrup. 

So I tried again.  I don't know why I can't remember what I used to do.  I blame it all on hormones.  This time I left out the sugar and cut way back on the butter.  It still wasn't what I wanted but it was a lot better.  I did end up roasting them but only for about 15 min.  I also started with raw almonds.  I would like them more roasted next time.  I will have to continue my quest.  When I get more time.

Here is what I ended up doing.

1⁄4 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 dashes salt
2 cups almonds.

Combine all ingredients except nuts in pot and bring to boil.  Boil 1 minute.  Add nuts and coat.  Pour in pan and bake at 300 for about 15 minutes. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Adventures in Camp Cooking part 3 - Pork roast & peach cobbler.

Day 3, Another beautiful morning.  Really I can't say enough good about the nice mornings.  Although we still have to deal with the wreckage and wetness of the previous day.  I had planned on making breakfast in bags, or rather having the kids make their own just to show them some camp cooking skills.  But since the carnage of the night before we really just wanted to eat breakfast and get things going.  So, out with the cereal bowls and I ended up cooking the bacon in the pan on the stove.  I learned to make these breakfast bags from my sister when I was about 8.  She was a camp councillor at Oakcrest and YW for a few years.  She and Dian Thomas taught me everything I know.  For a quick version of the Breakfast in a bag go here.  I usually add a piece of bread with a hole in the middle to go over the yolk and get the egg on both sides for what we always called a sunshine sandwich.

After breakfast we hauled all the sleeping bags and pads out to dry.  There was still hail piles on the ground all over where there was vegetation but it was melted on just dirt areas.  It took until noon to dry the tents, waiting for the sun to totally reach them. 

After this we started up the fire so we could slow roast the pork all day.  Only problem is, It's been a while since I used a dutch oven and I forgot how much heat to put on it.  Since we couldn't dig a pit I thought we could use a little more coals but Dad thought we needed even more.  He thought since it was sitting out all day the heat would dissipate more quickly.  I put a dry rub on the pork and put it in the pot.  We piled the coals around it.

Our friends arrived fairly early and we all took a trip to the beach.  Dave took the kids out in the boat and Sean and I stayed on the beach.  He doesn't care for boats too much.  Not too far away one of the oars broke.  This is sad because my husband made this boat and oars by hand.  Not an easy thing.  But he didn't seem too upset by it, he said he just used 2x4's  for the oars, but they looked nice.   He had a tiny motor for such emergencies.  He learned this after getting stuck on Utah Lake with the sail boat when a storm came up.  That lake is nasty in a storm.   

I headed back to camp early to get lunch started.  I decided to check on the roast.  Good thing.  The sugar in the rub and the juices from the meat had completely burned into a big black sucker all over the bottom and the roasts were black!  Ugh.  Dutch oven lesson re-learned.  However, I knew it could be saved, I knocked off what sucker I could and wrapped the meat in foil to wait until later. 

After this we had lunch, PB sandwiches.  We put the tents back together and guess what?  Just in time for it to rain again.  This time was not so bad though.  We went back into the tent for more card games.  It stopped and I went out to deal with the pork.  I cut off the outside and the inside was super tender and tasty!  I put it in a pan for later.  I decided since we didn't do the cobbler the night before than I would do it now.  I figured it would still be warm for dessert if I did it first.  I had put ingredients into bags so I had to do was add eggs and mush it in the baggie.  Since I was using bottled peaches I left out some sugar thinking they would already be too sweet, but I like my cobbler on the less sweet side anyway, usually getting some sweetness from the ice cream.  But there would be no ice cream tonight.

Then the neighbor and I put together the rest of our dinners while D took all the kids fishing.   I put potatoes in foil and started the fire up again.  Two hours later the fishers were back and the potatoes were perfect!  The cobbler was also perfect, but, sadly I opened the lid just as the wind picked up and they got nicely salt and peppered from the blowing ashes.  Seriously it was perfect looking until then.  It could have been sweeter.

For dinner I added a bit of water to the pork and simmered for a bit.  It turned out great

We ended with more smores and some late card games.  I had promised my son we could play one of his favorites but by the time we started it was freezing!!! so we huddled around the lantern on the table trying to hurry the game and stay warm.  Another cold night on the hard ground.  But by now I was more tired and slept better.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Adventures in Camp Cooking part 2

Note: I posted this once and half of it disappeared so this version isn't nearly as glamorous.

Day two.  Beautiful morning.  It was actually warmer to get out of the tent than to stay in.  The sun warmed up quickly.   Because of the new camp chef I was able to easily boil some water for those that wanted hot chocolate to help the warming up.  Before it was always a hassle to start the fire first and by the time it got nice then you needed to start breakfast and by then you didn't care about hot chocolate.  But everyone loved it this time.  Breakfast was scrambled eggs and hash browns and OJ and/or milk.  It was so nice to not cook over the fire and singe all the hairs off my knuckles or burn one side of the pan.

After breakfast we went on a hike.  This is where the day gets interesting.  Half way up the trail age6 trips and from there on its whine and pout.  We tried lots of things to get him happy again but he was set against it.  age 13 of course can't stand to walk with the rest of us and always takes off ahead but usually stays within sight since that is what he was supposed to be doing.  He waits for us at varying intervals.  Finally 6 can't resist the lure of the great walking stick find that 10 and I have been playing up for him.  He resumes contented.

We reach a harder, rock slide area and 13 is no where to be found.  Dad yells for him and gets no answer.  He decides we should wait there and takes off.  This is where I am thankful that he is a trail runner.  We wait and he comes back having run for about 10-15 min without sight of 13. Surely with him running he would have caught up to 13 by now.  Horses pass us and they say they will look out.  Now we start to worry.  there are steep drop-offs and, luckily we didn't know at the time, but at this same spot the next day our friend who came up to meet us saw a bear while he was doing his trail running.  We decide that I will take the kids back down (I was disappointed in not reaching our designated end.)  They cry and 6 keeps saying he doesn't think he will ever see 13 again.  It's hard to believe that with all the hurt and teasing he still loves his brother.  Dad will start running up the trail again and if a designated time comes and I don't see him, we will contact the ranger.  It's already been almost an hour.  I try and keep the younger ones entertained on the way back, telling myself that 13 is not as stupid as he acts sometimes.   The horses come back down and didn't see him. We stop and find 'Perfect pine cone Land'  and almost at the end, stop to play in the small waterfall stream area.  Brrrr, but it feels so good.   Just as we get back to camp and wash up, Dad and 13 come right behind us.   Yeah.  all is well.........

We have Pita pockets filled with a combination of your choice, ham, cheddar, provolone, lettuce, cucumber, celery, carrots.   I pick the last 5 ingredients minus the carrots and it is sooo good!  Sorry, no pictures.   Just after we clean up it starts raining.  We wait under the mess tent.  Remember I said this turned out to be a blessing.  Until it slowed enough to grab the fun bag out of the car and dash to the tent.  13 took time for himself in the other tent reading.  We spend the next hour in the tent playing cards and having the occasional cookie.  Age 10 falls in love with the new card game, which I've actually had for years.   The rain stops and Dad and I can't keep our eyes open anymore.  I send 10 and 6 out to play with a badminton set while we try to nap.  It doesn't really work so well for me.  After 30min. I get out to survey the scene and soak up some sun.  We all go out on the boat for a little fishing,  It doesn't last too long.  We feel a drop or two and head in.

Age 13 starts a fire for dinner.  He insists on using his magnesium fire starter.  And he actually gets it to work after about 20 minutes.  One more item forgotten.  The Hamburger Grill for the fire.  Oh well, WE HAVE THE WONDERFUL CAMP CHEF!  The fire gets very big anyway, because we have peach cobbler planned.  We decide to move the stove in under the mess tent because it's raining again.  13 heads back into his tent and the younger ones move into the mess tent with us.  For hamburgers I pre-made patties with onion and the D required Worcestershire, s/p.  It starts hailing.  Hard.  It's cold and the kids are getting wet.  So I throw on another pot of water to make them some hot chocolate.  The ground is flooding and Dad starts digging trenches with his walking stick that we had all gotten earlier.  I put on the burgers on the stove and put the kids under the table, the only dry spot anywhere.  D keeps digging trenches and bailing out water with a paper cup.  The tent across the way collapses.  I can't believe that our canopy with the bent poles is still standing.  I told you it was a blessing.  For now it's the only thing between us and the hail.  Once in a while we bang the snow off the roof. It's really building up out there. And it is really cold. Who knows how much water has gotten under our tents.  I bring the kids out to eat their burgers.  They are too cold to really want to eat much though.  D stops long enough to eat.  These burgers really turned out good.  I don't know why but they cooked perfectly, better than I have done them at home.  Luckily our camera was out of danger in the car.  Finally it stops hailing.  Remember, it's been hailing long enough to cook the hamburgers, then eat them.  the rain slows down and we call 13 out to eat and help dig around the tents.  I send the younger two in to put on long sweats.  I build the fire up again but now all thought of cobbler is gone.  It's cold and everything is wet.  We clean up dinner and spend the rest of the night huddling around the fire and trying to dry off.  I was reminded of the second time D and I met.  Our little group of neighbors huddled around the campfire in the cold rain with snow near by up near Mirror Lake trying to keep warm while I make cupcakes in the fire. Somehow our tents and bags are not too wet.   About 10:00 the stars come out and we turn in. 

To be continued.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Adventures in Camp Cooking part 1 - Pizza

Last week we went camping.  Two of the dinners I was requested by my husband what they should be.  Fine by me.  For the third meal, which was actually on our fist night I thought Pizza sounded fun.   Generally I have done all the cooking over the fire.  This year we purchased a Camp Chef and It turned out to be a great blessing.  Besides dinners I had some great breakfasts planned too.

The first afternoon we arrived it was mild and cloudy.  We set up camp and my husband decided to set up the canopy/screen tent over the picnic table.  Another Blessing.  I didn't think it would stand because the first time we ever used it, the wind was strong enough to bend two of the poles.  The next time we tried, same story.  So this time he put it up with basically 4 bent poles.  I don't know how it stayed up, but it did. 

I had planned on cooking the pizza over the fire but hubby talked me out of it, probably to try out the new stove.  I fell in love with it.  I didn't want the dough to stick to our other pan since we had forgotten to bring oil (one of several forgotten things) so I worked off 1 pan, it took a long time to get them all done, but no one complained. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fried Plantains

It has been a long time since I've had fried plantains and I have been thinking about them recently.  So, when I saw some nice looking plantains at the store the other day I snatched some up. (its hard to find nice looking ones, I ususally only see old bruised looking ones.)

My husband had only heard that they were nasty.  I can only assume whoever told him this must have tried to eat them like a banana.  Even my kids ate a few.  Some liked them dipped in ketchup and I am sure other sauces would be good also.  They are a bit like a potato fry with a slight banana taste.

This is the way I learned when years ago some roommates and neighbors fried some up:

First slice 1/4ish thick slices and fry (they do turn a bit yellow) on each side until slighty golden and softened.  Place on paper towel and smash them flatter.  Then return to the pan and fry again until crisp.  Serve warm and with sauce of choice. 
Frying in pan

Smashed on paper towel
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