Friday, May 31, 2013

Flashback Friday: A Taste of Great-Grandma's Recipes

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

I'm super excited about the recipes Alvina shared with me during my visit to her farm.  The stained and tattered old notepad belonged to her mother, my great-grandmother.  Contained on these now yellowed and brittle pages are her best recipes.  I can hardly wait to go through them all.  In fact, I'm so excited I've just got to share a few of them with you now.  Here's a taste of what one might find in Great-Grandma Caroline's kitchen.

Her notepad contains handwritten recipes for everything from pies... pickles... perpetual yeast (sourdough)...

She even wrote down ingredients for cement wash and spray for the hen house.

Spots and splatters are indications of a well-used recipe.

Some pages are half missing, but most are quite readable.

What stories they must tell.  Who is the Mrs. Thompson behind Mrs. Thompson's Raised Doughnuts?

What about Ruth or Mrs. Alton, whose brown sugar cookies appear on several pages?  Are Mama's White Cookies my great-great grandmother's?  How I would love to sit down at the kitchen table and hear the stories behind each recipe.

We'll dig more into each recipe in the coming weeks. Thanks for listening as I share my excitement! 

Food for Thought: "We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be." -May Sarton

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Random Recipe Wednesday: 2-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

Just chocolate and water.  That's it.  No heavy cream.  No butter.  No sugar.  That can't really work, can it?  Normally when melting chocolate you should avoid water at all costs.  Just a little water and the whole thing will seize up, turning to a grainy, lumpy mass.  Needless to say the idea of purposely adding water to my chocolate to create mousse was quite intriguing.

After a little digging I learned the method originally comes from HervĂ© This, the father of molecular gastronomy.  There's no need for me to reinvent the wheel here.  A quick Google search will link you to multiple blog posts (like this one) featuring this simple mousse.  I'm just popping in to tell you I finally tried it, and it worked.  You should try it too.  Because clearly, since we're making mousse with water instead of heavy cream and butter, we can call it healthy and justify eating one silky spoonful after another.  

In short, you melt chocolate and water then whip it over an ice bath until the desired consistency is reached.  Or you might whip it over a bag of frozen vegetables if you're out of ice.  Just saying.  Depending on your chocolate to water ratio and the amount of whipping effort you put in, you can end up with thinner pudding-like consistency or a thicker scoopable consistency.  If you're not pleased with the final outcome simply remelt and re-whip, though you can't really go wrong with rich, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate.  As you can see mine turned out more like a firm truffle the first time, perfect for scooping but not as mousse-like as I intended.  I melted it back down, added a few tablespoons of water and then whipped it for a slightly shorter time.  After that it pretty much went straight from bowl to mouth quicker than two clicks of a camera. End of story.  

There was some sort of weird magnetic attraction between my finger and my tongue throughout this process.  It sort of interfered with my ability to give you specific measurements. Accounting for this variable, which you too will likely encounter, I'd say start with 5 ounces of 72% dark chocolate and 1/2 cup water.  Sample and adjust accordingly.  That is, assuming you have any left to adjust. 

Food for Thought: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." -Leonardo da Vinci

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: Rhubarb

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

I made two strawberry-rhubarb pies this weekend for my brother's birthday.  It reminded me of the Rhubarb Festival my mom and I went to last year at this time.  I've been looking forward all year to going again, but some family commitments will prevent me from going this weekend.  If you're free this Saturday and in the area be sure to check out the Rhubarb Festival (more info here).

For those of you who can't make it you can check out my posts from last year.  I had so much to tell you it took 3 posts to get it all out.

This post is about the festival itself.

Then I told you all about the pie-making contest I was in.

And we can't forget the wooden spoon shop.

It was pretty much a perfect day loaded with fun memories.  I can hardly believe it's been a whole year since then.  I'll have to get some more rhubarb and pretend I'm there next Saturday.  If your schedule allows, I highly recommend it.

Food for Thought: "The quieter you become, the more you can hear." -Ram Dass

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mindful Monday: A Trip to Alvina's

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

Last week I visited my great-aunt, Alvina, and she showed me all around her farm.  She reminisced about all her years there and told stories of longstanding traditions.  Of course I couldn't help but take a few pictures as we wandered around outside.

I was eager to see how asparagus grows and she kindly saved some for me to cut.

She taught me all about growing asparagus and even let me use her special asparagus knife, marked with yellow tape in case she drops it.

Alvina advises storing the spears in water until ready to use.  I happened to use a blue glass (Alvina has a collection of blues dishes as well) and decided it looked more like a bouquet than a vegetable.

The flowers I grew up calling Johnny Jump-Ups were scattered all over the woods.

A cluster of uncurling ferns lined one edge of the house.  The sunlight streaming through the leaves captured my attention.

I'll tell you more about this during our Flashback Friday's but she also shared her mother's (my great grandmother's) handwritten recipe notepad with me.  I was able to photograph every page and am quite eager to look over the recipes.  Most were for food, but this one give instructions on making soap from lye, rainwater, borax and grease.  I'm so thankful we can still read the writing on most pages. What a treasure!

Food for Thought: "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." -Lamentations 3:24

Friday, May 24, 2013

Flashback Friday: Muffin Ring

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

The instant I flipped this muffin ring out of the pan I thought, "wow, that looks like it's straight out of a 70's cookbook."  And then I remembered it was.  Don't ask me why I thought it would look any different.  The ring mold is a big factor, but the cherry halves and pecans really seal the deal.  Only a lime gelatin mold would scream 70's with more gusto.

I found this recipe in the same cookbook I told you about last week. The title Butterscotch Muffin Ring caught my attention.  What, a ring of muffins?  So it's like muffin monkey bread?  Or a giant doughnut?  Yeah, no.  Coffee cake would be a better description, although it's not cake and doesn't contain coffee.  But you can eat a slice with coffee if you want.  And since we're calling it a muffin ring, it's perfectly acceptable for breakfast.  Have I lost you yet?  Because my train of thought is jumping quite rapidly.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: Completely Random

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

1. Do you remember the Lite-Brite toy?  You know, where the colored pegs were stuck into a black grid and then lit from behind.  For some reason I was thinking about that the other day.  Those were kinda neat.

2. Whenever I make popcorn my fingers smell like popcorn until the next day.  Right now my fingers smell like burnt popcorn.  Sometimes burnt popcorn smells like coffee.  Not this time.

3. Wouldn't it be weird if raindrops "fell" in the opposite direction, from ground to sky?

4. The seedless watermelon I cut up earlier had very large white particles extremely similar in shape, size and texture to the black seeds found in a seeded watermelon.  I have never seen such large non-seeds in a seedless watermelon.  All the sweet, juicy goodness of the melon more than made up for it.

5. You can throw your pants in the dryer to take out the wrinkles.  If you go to the store during the de-wrinkling process and then forget to take your pants back out until 3 hours later, your pants will be wrinkled again.  But in different places.

6.  De-wrinkled. I'll have to add that to my word list.  Or maybe de-wrinklified.

Food for Thought: "Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life." -Donald Miller

Random Recipe Wednesday: Kindergarten Cookbook Recipes

I stumbled upon a cookbook my class made in kindergarten (or maybe 1st grade).  Our Mother's Day Cookbook was made up of recipes from a kid's perspective.  As you'll see below, some of them are quite funny while others aren't too far from an actual working recipe.  The pages are now falling apart and several are missing, but my mom has still saved it all these years.  

My friend Alissa and I decorated the cover. I'm guessing that's me at the oven, which appears to be complete with an off/on switch.  

The recipe I contributed was for my mom's favorite cookies.  The real recipe is a crackled chocolate mint cookie rolled in powdered sugar.  Rolling in "white powder," a.k.a. powdered sugar, was the favorite part of the process.  My brother and I would be covered in powdered sugar and sprinkle it on each other like fairy dust.  I'll show you the pictures sometime along with the real recipe.  Apparently my mom always made these and gave them to other people since I specified that in the directions.  Sharing cookies is a hard lesson to learn. 

My friend Alissa also had a cookie recipe.  Hers baked for 10 hours.  When you're waiting for the first cookie it does seem like 10 hours.  Unless, of course, you've already eaten 10 cookies worth of dough. Which I never do. 

Cake also takes a good 9 hours in the oven, a super hot oven to be exact. 

If  you don't want to bake it that long then try this version.  All you have to do is mix and put in the refrigerator until tomorrow. 

Cupcakes, on the other hand, bake in only 10 minutes. But you must have "cupcake things." 

Cooking is less specific than baking.  Just put a little bit of sauce on your steak and grill until everything else is done. 

Hey, look....there's the powdered sugar I needed in my cookies. This kid used it in his meatballs.  Once the spaghetti is wiggly be sure to put it on your plate and then eat it.  

I sure hope snack time wasn't based on our recipes. 

Food for Thought: "Children see magic because they look for it." -Christopher Moore

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mindful Monday: Weekend and Thanks

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

The weekend was filled with celebrating my grandma's 80th birthday.  Her older sister drove up form Ohio to visit.  Saturday was the official party and they spent Sunday at our house.  There's a lot to learn from older generations.  I bet you didn't know you can get a free colonoscopy if you make it to 100 years. Motivation at it's finest, eh?

But let's not get into anymore exciting details from the weekend.  We'll just go with another thankful list.

growing up close to my grandma and other relatives
celebration of life
new growth
flowering trees
bright green of newly opened leaves on trees
a warm breeze
the fragrance of spring in the air
challenges that help you grow
mistakes that point you in the right direction
chances to learn
the patter of rain on the windows
fresh air
sinks with garbage disposals
differences that balance each other out
opportunity for growth

Food for Thought: The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. -Proverbs 20:5

Friday, May 17, 2013

Flashback Friday: Grandma's Molasses Cookies

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

Yesterday marked my grandma's 80th birthday.  We are celebrating this weekend with dinner out at her favorite restaurant followed by an open house at her assisted living complex.  My mom and I baked up 3 of her favorite types of cookies for the party.  For the sugar cookies I went with our traditional family favorite.  Her next request was a plain oatmeal cookie, no raisins.  (I kind of spilled some chocolate chips in a few batches though.)  In search of a tried and true oatmeal base I tested out 4 different recipes.  I haven't decided yet if I'll hash out the results here or just give you the winner.  Today we'll just munch on molasses cookies.

Many grandmas bake cookie for their grandchildren.  Since I love to bake so much it was often I who baked the cookies for my grandma.  Her third birthday cookie is the molasses cookie recipe she always asked me to bring her.  She would send me home with a jar of molasses from her basement shelves and I would return with a plate of cookies.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Random Recipe Wednesday: Savory Orange Hummus

I made this hummus, oh I don't know...a month ago (?) but am just now getting around to sharing it with you.  Don't worry, it's actually long gone; I wouldn't feed you month-old hummus. Sometimes I won't even share my hummus.  This way I can share it with you without really having to share it.  I know.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mindful Monday: Mother's Day Flowers

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

Words can't express how amazing my mom is.  Her selfless examples of unconditional love never cease to amaze me.  I'm truly blessed to have her for a mom and a friend.

Yesterday we went on a walk and found some wildflowers.  My mom happened to have her point and shoot with so we took a few pictures.  The Dutchman's Breeches were a favorite of her mother, making them a perfect find for Mother's Day.  See how they look like little pairs of pants hung out to dry?

The ferns were just starting to uncurl.

We saw several other varieties of white flowers along with plenty of green leaves poking up.  

I love you mom!

Food for Thought: "I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life." -Abraham Lincoln 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Flashback Friday: Tidbits From an Old Cookbook

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

Last week I paged through one of my grandma's old church cookbooks, hoping to find recipes she'd written on.  Along with your typical church cookbook recipes were quotes and recipes for life, kind of like my "Food for Thought" at the end of each post.  This one made me smile.

Measure: 3 c. flour into large bowl; answer telephone; take large bowl off small son's head; sweep up flour.
Measure: 3 c. flour into large bowl. Measure 1/4 c. shortening; answer door bell; wash shortening from son's hands and face.
Add: 1/4 c. shortening to flour.  Mix well; rock crying baby for 10 minutes.
Answer: telephone.  Put son in tub and scrub well.  Scrape flour and shortening mixture from floor, add enough tears to relieve tension.
Open: 1 can of beans and serve with remaining strength.

As I paged through the book looking for family recipes I couldn't help but notice the names of the other contributors.  Names come and go just like fashion trends.  Here are some of ones that stood out to me.

I'm not sure why I found that so interesting, maybe because I never look at the names in cookbooks. Though I didn't find any recipes submitted by my grandma I did find a few from other family members.  Now if I can just find some time (this weekend?) to make them before my name is associated with an old lady cookbook.

Food for Thought: "Life is fragile- handle it with prayer." -anonymous quote from above cookbook

Thursday's Thoughts: Always Time

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

Even when I feel stretched for time there is always time to be thankful.  With that in mind, here's a quick list of what I'm grateful for right now.

chirping birds outside the window
open windows (hello spring!)
walking inside just before a downpour starts
plenty of tasks to stay busy with
the health and resources to complete those tasks
stillness of the morning (on the rare occasion I'm up that early)
color in the sky
when the sun turns dew drops on grass blades into a rainbow of diamonds
blooming spring flowers
evening walks
longer daylight hours
emails with far away friends
the hum of crickets at night
can openers
dish soap
pleasant conversation
a family game and pizza night
handwritten recipes
magazines to page through
fresh green beans
a good night's sleep

Food for Thought: " 'After all,' Anne had said to Marilla once, 'I believe that the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.' " -L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday's Twist: Twisted Cinnamon Bread

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

Triple twist cinnamon rolls.  Okay, the triple aspect is debatable, but it started with a T.  This twisted ring is one of those concepts I've been wanting to try for a long time but didn't use a recipe for.  Step by step pictures would have been nice, but that sounded messy.  Basically you make cinnamon rolls, but slice the log in half lengthwise and then twist the two ropes together into a ring.  Say what?  Just check out these pictures over at Just Love Cookin for an idea of how to slice and twist your dough.

I didn't get the ends tucked in quite right, which means I had better try this again soon.  You know, to practice.  Practice makes perfect, but imperfect pieces call for slicing off a sample to hide the evidence.

I made an orange flavored dough then spread the inside with orange marmalade (remember these?) and sprinkled it with a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and probably a few other things I didn't keep track of.  Oh, I think I threw in some cardamom.  Sorry, sometimes you just have to freestyle it and see how it turns out.

Food for Thought: "A healthful hunger for a great idea is the beauty and blessedness of life." -Jean Ingelow

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mindful Monday: Watch

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over you in your journey through this vast wilderness. -Deuteronomy 2:7

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. -Deuteronomy 4:9

You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit. -Job 10:12

You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. -Psalm 59:9-10

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. -Psalm 63:6

He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber. -Psalm 121:3

The Lord watches over you- the Lord is your shade at your right hand. -Psalm 121:5

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the doors of my lips. -Psalm 141:3

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. -Matthew 7:15

Therefore, keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. -Matthew 24:42

'Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. ' -Matthew 26:41

Then he said to them "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." -Luke 12:15

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Preserve them, because if you do, you will save both yourselves and your hearers. -1 Timothy 4:16

Still hungry? Check out similar posts on these words: patiencepeacehopetrustfreeself-controljoywaittruthlovewisdommindgentlegracereceive

Food for Thought: Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.-Colossians 4:2

Friday, May 3, 2013

Flashback Friday: Peanut Bars

Flashback Friday: Revisiting a recipe from long ago

We're going to color outside the lines on this one, it may be the start of a new theme.  There are lots of tried and true favorites I associate with certain friends and family members. These gooey bars aren't old-fashioned nor are they a tradition from my childhood.  They do, however, come from a family member and loyal supporter of this blog.  Oh, and they're deliciously addicting.

My Aunt Sue shared this recipe with me several years back and I've made it countless times since.  She is by far the best hostess I've come across.  Her hospitality is exceptional in all areas, and she makes everything look so effortless.  If only that could be passed on in recipe format.  Perhaps some of her talent will infuse into me if I make another pan of these bars.  Because this batch is, ummm, already long gone.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts: Small Talk Followed by a Real Thought

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

1. I missed you yesterday!  It felt, I don't know....out of place, different, odd to not write a post or check in here.

2. Also, what's with this weather?  Crazy.  The neighbor kids were outside in their swimsuits over the weekend and now a full-blown snow day.   Snow, lots of snow.  In May.

3. Wait, what?  It's MAY already?

4. Did you make May Day baskets as a kid?  The idea was to fill a small basket (...or paper cup with a pipe cleaner handle) with spring flowers (hmmm, it was usually treats) and leave it on your neighbor's doorstep.  Then you ring the door bell and run away as fast as you can without getting caught.  I have one odd snapshot in my memory of delivering May Day baskets.  Just after we rang the doorbell and started to run my shoe came untied.  Except it was un-Velcroed not untied, because I was wearing Little Mermaid shoes with Velcro straps.  I had to stop in the middle of the cul-de-sac to fix my shoe.  That's all I remember.  No idea why those particular shoes are the only part I remember.

5. Okay, we've wasted enough time here.  Check out the idea below that I found on Ann Voskamp's site.  You pick just 1 of the 10 things to do before you turn on your computer (or tap on your phone, tv, etc).  Make your own list if you like, just pause for something meaningful before you get sucked into distractions that eat up your time.  Speaking of eating, I couldn't help but notice Ann's dessert analogy after the printable version, "Life is dessert-- too brief to hurry. You don't wolf it down."  Click on the links (in blue) for the rest of her post and thoughts on distractions.

Food for Thought: "It occurs to me it is not so much the aim of the devil to lure me with evil as it is to preoccupy me with the meaningless." -Donald Miller