Tuesday, June 1, 2010

An Anniversary Memory

For our 29th Anniversary, Scott planned a wonderful mid-week celebration. He rented a town car, got a suite at the best motel in Salem, and took me out to a wonderful dinner at Morton’s. I had just gotten the cast off my right leg (On my birthday, he took me to the dump. Not once, but twice that day. Ever so the romantic. Anyway, I was collecting junk from around the yard and tripped. I re-injured my right Achilles tendon and had to wear a plastic cast for almost three months.)

I was so pampered those few days. The town car was as big as a Rose Festival float! The food at Morton’s was superb! There was a bouquet of candy and a chilled bottle of champagne waiting for us in our room. Some flowers too. Later, we sat in the spa tub in the room and watched ‘Mars Attacks!’ All in all, a great couple of days.

The dinner at Morton’s was memorable. We don’t drink much. So the wine list was lost on us. We did enjoy the couple at another table that made a fuss over the wine to have with appetizers, the right wine with dinner, and then wanted the perfect desert wine. We chuckled. The next day, at check-out, there was the same couple trying to navigate the lobby on their way out. We chuckled.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

I used to fix Chicken Enchiladas like I do Ground Beef Enchiladas. Then, I had some really great ones at a couple of potlucks. I really enjoyed the ones served by my friend, Patty, and another friend, Dave. Theirs were served in a white sauce (thick with cream cheese) and were very, very creamy. I took down their recipes and Debbie’s delicious recipe to come up with my own Chicken Enchiladas. Which are a little more to the light side.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Barbeque (Pulled) Pork Sandwiches with Coleslaw

I’m fixing BBQ Pork Sandwiches with Coleslaw tonight. I originally got the idea from Alton Brown of GOOD EATS . It has turned out to be one of our favorite leftover Pork Roast recipes. Quick and easy, it meets our requirements of grain, vegetable, and protein. It’s a little high in sodium and sugar; but we overcome that with lots of water to drink and a slice of Angel Food cake for dessert.

Besides all the family cooks, I have learned a lot from TV cooks and chefs. I really know few people who have not tuned into TV cooking shows.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Scalloped Potatoes

What to do with leftover ham? I have written several recipes for leftover ham, but our all-time favorite is Scalloped Potatoes.

We come from differing views on Scalloped Potatoes. Scott prefers them with Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup and huge chunks of cheese. My mom made them with Condensed Cream of Celery Soup. My friend Kathi made them with white sauce. I think we all agree that the packaged versions are good only in a pinch! Everyone agrees that bits of ham make them a good deal better!

In our quest to make Scalloped Potatoes a healthier dish: less sodium, less fat; we have tried the healthier choice of condensed soups. Not too bad, just use evaporated 2% or skim milk and the flavor improves.

My current choice is to make a white sauce and add celery, onion, and mushroom to improve the overall flavor.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Just How Sloppy is Joe?

There was a restaurant, on the corner of Center and 12th in Salem that served the best Sloppy Joes ever! And no, I never got to try them. Mom and her friends would go shopping and that is where they loved to have lunch. The check was served with chlorophyll pills to help disguise the garlic and spices on the ladies breath. She finally got Dad to try them on an evening out, once. Dad had eaten the original Sloppy Joes back during the war and did not like these posers.

Once Scott and & were married, as we tried to find common ground on our meals, we agreed we had both like the sloppy joes served at school. So I tried the spice packet and we were in love with the dish. I really don’t know why I didn’t just call Aunt Vi, she who had the school’s recipes. Seems, all you needed to do was ask a school cook and they would give out a sheaf of papers with all their recipes!

 I found a recipe in a magazine about 25 years ago and tried it. It was as close to what we had eaten at school as possible. I was telling Aunt Vi about it and she gave a disgusted laugh, she of the Extension Ladies Cooking, Needlework, Arts & Crafts Club. Then we both had a good laugh over how we never seem to remember to ask our family if they can help out with a problem!

Here is the way I now make Sloppy Joes:

Friday, April 30, 2010

Reminder, Mother's Day is Coming!

I have been reminding everyone that Mother’s Day is May 9th! Of course, it goes without saying that Moms who cook would enjoy a great Mother’s Day gift related to her kitchen. It could be a lovely breakfast in bed, brunch with the family, a picnic in the woods, or dinner at home around a family movie!

I always have loved a new cookbook or an old one at that! A new set of recipe cards or a few new wooden spoons have always been appreciated.

Whatever it is, check out some of my advertisers for their Mother’s Day Specials! I love to get magazines as a gift. Every month brings something new! I can share them with friends, donate to the library, or just toss them in the recycle bin when I have eked out every new bit of information.

A gift card to a kitchen store is a great gift. That way, Mom can pick out the specific pans and pots, plates and bowls, shiny new utensils, small appliances, towels and pot holders, her heart desires.

Today, I have been posting about my advertisers and how by entering their sites from my blogs, to make your purchases, you can help to support me and my blogging. Truthfully, I make a very small commission on every purchase you make by entering the shopping site from my blog. I thank you for your support.

Whatever you get for the mom in your life – just make sure to give it with all your love.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

All-American Stew

When I was cleaning out the fridge, I found a nice chunk of London Broil. I got this fabulous buy on London Broil a while back. So, I cut it into smaller pieces of about one pound each and froze them. This one was destined for a great cool spring stew. (This time of year reminds me of lamb stew; but Scott will not eat lamb or mutton. Not that I blame him. But sometimes I like lamb stew.)

I thought I would use the slow cooker for this. Scott loves foods cooked in a slow cooker. I prefer either stovetop or even oven cooked. Guess I was in a good mood because I was making food the way he likes.

Okay, about an hour before dinner, I checked on the stew. It was watery, the veggies weren’t cooking, and I was getting frustrated over the pets being little devils all day. So I just dumped it all into a Dutch oven and brought it to a boil and voila, stew!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ragout, a Great Way to Use Up Loads of Veggies!

We have been living on take-out and frozen dinner stuffs for the past few weeks. Either one or both of us have been too sick to really care about our meals. We just wanted something to eat so we could go back to bed and sleep. Now we are back to semi-normal (okay, it is never normal around here) so how about eating some good food!
My first job, now that I am feeling better, was to tackle cleaning the kitchen. Scott had helped by running the dishwasher every now and then. But the refrigerator was something out of this world. I had just done the shopping when we both got super sick.

So, there are all the lovely fresh veggies just hung out, chillin’; getting older, softer, losing vitamins. What to do?

Make a ragout!  A ragout is a well-seasoned stew in the French tradition.

Here is a ragout in the Susan tradition:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Smoked Salmon Dinner

Since our daughter Selene has moved her family to the High Desert, they have missed the Oregon Coast. Monday; she, Nate (her boyfriend), and their dog (Kukka) went to the coast for the day. I got to keep 17 month old Lennon!  They had lunch at a favorite restaurant and played on the beach for ten minutes, before the wind picked up and it started hailing. That’s when they hit the fishmongers.

We taught her well. They brought back some dry-smoked salmon. Scott and I had a discussion on how we were going to serve it. Usually, we just eat it as a snack. I have mixed it with mayo and dill pickles for a tasty sandwich. Of course, you can’t beat it with cream cheese on a bagel for breakfast, either.

 Here’s what we came up with:

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore

Way back when, I found a recipe for Chicken in Spaghetti Sauce. I fixed it, we ate it, Scott likes it once in a while, and I love it anytime. Later, I found the dish was called Chicken Cacciatore, Chicken in the Style of the Hunter. It is robust and flavorful. I like serving it for company dinners. Two cut up chickens in the sauce with spaghetti, garlic bread, and a salad will feed 8 to 10 people.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Contribution to the Easter Picnic

This Easter we are gathering at Debbie and Rob’s for dinner. (She with the three ovens, formal dining room, breakfast nook, European patio, and a ginormous flat screen!) We are having a picnic. Indoors if the weather is cool. I promised to bring my favorite baked beans. And I am also bringing the Best Bean Salad, Ever!

Back in the ‘70’s when marinated three bean salads became popular; you couldn’t get me to eat one on a bet. I tried many, many horrid salads before I just said, “No thank you.”
When pressed, I would mutter about being allergic to something in the dressing.

Then, when I was working at a call center, potlucks were a weekly occurrence. Lots of junk and a few, very few, tasty nutritious dishes. I saw the bean salad and passed it by. My friend and co-worker, Bridget, got a spoon and put some in my mouth; I was prepared to spit in the waste basket. Only, this tasted good; really, really good! I took a 3x5 card from my desk and wrote ‘Best Bean Salad, Ever!’ on it and handed it to Bridget. She magnanomously wrote out the recipe for me.

Here’s my take:

Homemade Chinese Five Spice Blend

Last night I fixed our favorite Hawaiian Pork Chops – also great as Hawaiian Chicken. But I was out of Chinese Five Spice. After searching the web, I came up with an easy blend that tastes great!

Chinese Five Spice

1 tsp ground anise
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground ginger

Mix together and store in an airtight container

If you use freshly opened ground spices this will keep for about a year. If you grind your own spices, just grind and use as needed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's Duggar Time!

Previously on 19 Kids and Counting, Anna Duggar prepared Chicken-etti for her in-laws. She said it was Josh’s favorite dish.  Jessa pointed out his waistline proves the statement!

 Now those of us over at Duggars Anonymous are notorious for our snark. Of course, we had to pick at the recipe for being too salty, having too much fat, and overall just not healthy. (Much like the Duggars favorite Tater Tot Casserole.)

 Scott and I like TTC on occasion. Rare occasion. Once a year occasion. And then, I try to make it a little healthier by using low sodium, low fat products.

 This week, I promised I would fix a healthier Chicken-etti on Tuesday. That’s my 2fer night. 19 Kids and Counting AND LOST! I just realized it’s a 3fer, add on Table for 12. Don’t talk to me, I’m watching teevee!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sweet & Salty

Sometimes you find a recipe in a magazine that just tickles your tummy. In the April 2010 issue of Country Living, I found just such a recipe. Trisha Yearwood shares some family photos along with some favorite family recipes. Like she writes about her mother, I love salty/sweet flavors. I gave her Sweet & Saltines recipe a try. YUM! Chewy toffee, chocolaty, and salty, just right flavor! I made a couple of changes for my taste and here is the result:

Yummy dessert or snack served on Mom's '60's platter

Sunday, March 21, 2010

French Dip ala Italiano

I bought a huge, five pound, London Broil last week. After cutting it into five pieces and freezing four of those; I had to come up with a meal for that chunk of meat. And, I could only use what was in the pantry. (My rule to make things more interesting.)
How about a French Dip, I thought. Great, but there was no beef broth to make up the au jus. (We don’t use bouillon cubes; they taste like salt licks to our low sodium taste buds.) Okay, I’ll make up the difference with some merlot; wine is always a good idea when cooking.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Morocaan Chicken

This came about when I was going to make Hawaiian Pork chops; but didn’t have any pineapple. I did have prunes and dried apricots so I searched for Moroccan spice blends. I found one at Recipe Zaar that I could use after a small change. I fixed this thinking Scott would eat it, but not like it. He has asked for it again, so it must be a winner!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Navy Bean Soup, Cornbread, Cinnamon Rolls

Back in high school we had a two week menu rotation. Prior to Vatican II we alternated fish sticks and grilled cheese on Fridays. Afterwards, it was hot dogs and pizza. Wednesdays, it was either chili with the best, fluffy cornbread or navy bean soup with huge, fluffy cinnamon rolls.

Being a bean lover, I was in hog heaven every Wednesday. It didn’t hurt that the cornbread came with honey butter or the cinnamon rolls were cinnamony and as big as a catcher’s mitt.
Family story time: We had our neighborhood ‘egg lady’ who came by every now and then. Mom always bought her farm fresh eggs. I loved that I could get double yolkers.
One day, three year old Debbie answered the door; the egg lady asked if Mom might like some navy bean. Debbie ran through the house to Mom and shouted, “Mom, Mom we got to get some ARMY beans!” After that, we always had army bean soup at home.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Stuffed Peppers and Meatloaf

Grandma Jo served the first stuffed peppers I ever ate. They were good, for having green peppers. I have never been a green pepper fan. When I discovered the colorful, thus ripe, sweet peppers; I immediately became a fan!
I remember Grandma serving Scott the filling, but no pepper. She explained her only brown-eyed grandson didn’t really care for green peppers. Aren’t grandmas the greatest?

 Stuffed peppers have a lot in common with meatloaf; in fact some people use the very same recipe for both. I have favorite recipes for each.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Recipes, Our Heritage

Nate requested I share Selene’s recipe for Cheesy Potato Soup when I wrote my Chowder Head post. I called Selene to get the full recipe; she was excited to see it published! She got the recipe from a friend’s older sister. It is rich and filling, Scott calls it ‘Heart Attack Potato Soup.’ While searching for another recipe, I found her original handwritten directions. I will save them with all our recipe boxes.

While I have pared down my recipe book collection, I did save all the handwritten recipes from my MIL and her mother. I have one of Great-Grandma Pearl’s cookbooks, with notes and recipes in her own hand. I also have a Watkins recipe book from the ‘30’s that my MIL Pat wrote in as a child. Then, there is Grandma Lee’s recipe box with recipes from her, her mom Pearl, and her daughter Pat.

Pot Roast

I love a good pot roast. Flavorful roast beef cooked with veggies until the meat falls apart and the potatoes and carrots are full of the beefy juices.

 Leftovers turned into a hash for dinner the next night and roast beef sandwiches for lunches. Yum!

 This past week, I found some boneless chuck on sale. The ad said ‘7 bone.’ But the meat cutters removed it. Damn. Love them bones! I forgot the freeze my last batch of $.99 ribs (I know, wasteful) and they went bad; really, really bad. I cooked up the roast, boneless, and we did pig out!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cornfield Beans & Succatash

Grandpa Bill and Grandma Jo grew a magnificent garden. They grew vegetables for themselves and two of their son's families. That was a total of 16 people! There was always enough for friends to come by and help themselves as well.

My favortite food they grew was Cornfield Beans. I think that seed has been saved, within the family, for at least 75 years! I grew several rows for years, until we lost our seed in a moldering mess when the shop sprung a leak and drowned most of what we had stored in there.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Round Steak Two Ways for Two

I found some cube steak at the Roth’s ‘Buy 5 for $20’ sale. I watch what I buy; sometimes it’s only a savings of less than $.50 per item. But on things like steak, ground beef, and cube steak; I buy the heaviest, thus most expensive, meats. That can mean about 50% off or more.
I love to use cube steak for Swiss Steak. Scott doesn’t like the texture and prefers round steak. Okay, cube steak is tenderized round steak. He prefers regular round steak for Swiss Steak.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sausage Noodles and Cabbage

Selene asked what we were having for dinner that night.  "Sausage noodles and cabbage." 
She and Nate began to whisper back and forth.  "Um, Mom, how do you make noodles out of sausage?"
"Roll it out really thin."
"We're having pizza."
"Oh, come on, it's egg noodles with sausage and cabbage."
"Yeah, we're having pizza.  Think Dad would like some?"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chowder Head

Yum, that’s the only sound I make while eating Mo’s Clam Chowder. An institution on the Oregon Coast for over 60 years, Mo’s has the best chowder ever! Okay, Scott prefers the Chowder Bowl in Depoe Bay and Dad loves the recipe Gracie uses at the Sea Hag in Depoe Bay; each to their own.

Now, I had never tasted Mo’s chowder until the mid ‘70’s when I made a batch for a party. I found a recipe in a magazine that said it was the same used in the restaurant. It started with 10# of potatoes, peeled; yep, I had a blister from that one.

What I Keep in My Pantry

I have taken a page from our Moman sisters:  Stock the pantry for times of need.  We have had a year's worth of staples on hand but now just have about a month's worth on hand.

Alright, just this once, I will give my secret on how to stock the pantry, even on a tight budget. SHOP THE SALES! On the front page of the store sales flyer will be a few 'Loss Leaders', products that are priced ridiculously low just to get you into the store. If you can, buy more than one of these loss leaders. Put the extra in the pantry or freezer. Also, SHOP SEASONALLY1  Holiday time means sales on baking staples. Stock up. Also a good time to get a couple extra turkeys or hams for the freezer. Summer means sugar will be on sale. Also it is a great time to pick up fresh food direct from the farmer, at the Farmer's Market, or grow your own. You can freeze, can, or dry veggies and fruits at home for later use.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Does Scott Have In Common With Homer Simpson?

When it comes to pork products, Scott has much in common with Homer Simpson. One day Scott ran to the store for coffee creamer and came home with two family size packages of pork chops. He forgot the creamer.

Pot Pies

I remember eating frozen pot pies a couple of times as a teen. In our house, they were seen with the same ilk as TV Dinners. As newlyweds, I asked Scott what his favorite foods were so I could fix them, He listed Tuna Noodle Casserole, Beef Pot Pies, Grandma Pearl’s Fried Chicken and Biscuits, Steak, and that was about it. The list of foods he didn’t like was miles long!

Well, pot pies went on sale and I bought a few and cooked them up. For our 20 year old palates, used to too much salt and fat, they weren’t bad. So I added them to our meals about once a month. While I loved the tuna and chicken, Scott was a beef kind of guy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Less Sugar Cookies

I cannot remember the last time I made cookies. Really, since Scott developed Type II Diabetes, I have almost stopped baking.

I used to bake once a week. I made our bread and then, while the oven was hot; I made cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, etc. Then I stopped baking bread because I could get it for $1 for two grocery bags full at the H2O. And with using Splenda, yech! The products don’t rise and the aftertaste was horrid.

We know that brown sugar or molasses is taken up by the bloodstream slower than white sugar, but it is still sugar. I finally decided to try Stevia. I bought some packets at the Safeway and we like it on cereal and in coffee. I tried it today in the cookies.  The cookies are fluffy and no aftertaste.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hunting and Gathering

I have my list, checked it twice, and now to find out if I can keep to my budget. There are some good buys on fish at the Safeway. Roth’s has their 5 meats for $19.99; which includes Mo’s Clam Chowder, yummy. So off I go. I am Susan, the mighty hunter/gatherer on her mission to stalk for the pantry.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Frugal vs. Cheap

I have been trying to write a post on frugality and buying quality foods. I have deleted more words than I ever kept. I would begin a sentence then go off on a tangent that would branch out into more tangents until all I had was a mishmash of words going nowhere.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hamburger Gravy over Mashed Potatoes

One of the best dishes our school cafeterias put out was Hamburger Gravy over Mashed Potatoes. They served it with sauerkraut. Hey, it was still the ‘50’s/’60’s and people are differently then.

We were allowed to eat one ‘hot lunch’ a week. Otherwise, Mom made us cold lunches. At first she sent milk in a thermos but we liked buying our milk. I guess it made us feel more independent. Or maybe we were embarrassed to be one of the few who brought milk from home. I remember milk was $.03 a day.
My favorite ‘hot lunch’ was HGoMP. When we tried to get Mom to make it at home, she never got it right. She always made . Sometimes she would crumble a hamburger patty into the gravy.
So I took over and got it right through trial and error.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chicken and Rice

How many recipes are there for Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo)?  At least one per cook in the world!

I make serveral versions.  Some are spicey, some are homey, some are light, and all are yummy!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Incredible Edible Egg

Growing up; the only egg dishes I knew were hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny-side up. Mom started by heating bacon grease in a cast iron skillet. She then cracked the eggs into the hot grease. If more than one yolk broke, she just scrambled them all together. Since I didn’t like scrambled eggs, you can taste the nasty white, she would fix me a sunny-side up. I would pull the white off and give it to anyone who wanted it. Then dip my toast into the runny yolk.
Yes, I was a picky eater. Mom and Dad put up with it because until I was 11, I was underweight. I had spent most of my youth as a sickly child. At 11 I discovered food tasted good. And that was the beginning of my life long weight problem.

Just before Scott and I got married, I started collecting cookbooks. Cheese omelets became an obsession with me. I wouldn’t eat one but I was bound and determined to make the best cheese omelet ever. I read over the techniques and practiced on poor Scott. I imagine I sent his cholesterol sky high during that time.

Our favorite restaurant, way back when, was at the Myrtle Point Hotel. It was a little Chinese place. The owners were very nice and could cook up a storm. On their suggestion, one night I tried Char Shu Chow Dun. It was a Chinese omelet and I loved it! Barbeque pork, onions, and lots of vegetables cooked with eggs. I was eating eggs.
I began to make quiche. Again, yum, I was eating eggs.
Now I know why, by adding other ingredients you don’t really taste the yucky white. No, I still don’t like egg white.

A few years ago I was watching ‘The Barefoot Contessa’ when Ina fixed a frittata. Oh, a quiche without the crust. I tried it. Easy peasy. The taste and texture were far superior to quiche. We alternate between quiche, omelet, and frittata. We eat sunny-side up with pancakes and waffles. Scott likes ‘poached’ (in little cups coated with butter and steamed) with toast. We eat hard cooked in salads and Scott likes them for snacks.

By the way, if you want to know how to make the perfect hard cooked egg; just check out Julia Child and Company

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Making Jarred Food Taste Better

I keep a few prepared foods in my pantry for those days I just feel lazy or consider it to be a ‘Bad Day in Black Rock.’ Things like soups, chili, alfredo sauce, ramen noodles, refried beans, etc. Mostly we just eat the prepared foods as they come out of the can.

But we treat alfredo sauce differently. Ever since I learned making a real alfredo sauce is a snap, I rarely keep the jarred stuff on hand. But somehow a jar showed up, so I decided to use it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

$.99 Ribs and No Barbeque Sauce in Sight

I found beef ribs for $.99 a pound! So a bought a couple of racks. We’ll cut one rack in half for two meals. The other rack will be put to other uses.

One of the things that I don’t like about modern meat counters is the lack of bone-in meats. The bone and marrow give a lot of flavor to meat. The Victorians enjoyed eating ‘marrow bones’ (the long leg bones of bovine) so much they had silver long handled ‘marrow spoons’ as part of their silver sets. (The spoons look similar to ‘ice tea; spoons.)
I find I miss the boney flavor in a roast beef or in swiss steak. Thus the reason I bought the ribs. They give off the boney/marrowy flavor to roasts, stewed or braised meats. I feel that the best beef stock comes from using bones along with the meat.
I cut the ribs into individual ribs and freeze them on a cookie sheet. When they are frozen, about four hours, I drop them into gallon zip bags so I can pull them out as needed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Split Pea Soup with Lentils

Way, way back in time there was a young couple just starting out. They dropped by to see the husband’s Great-Grandpa John, who, as usual was extremely happy to have visitors. After a wonderful visit, where GG John shared his hobby of going to funerals, any funeral; he wanted to share his bounty with the young couple.

He brought out a box of foodstuffs to help the young couple build their pantry. Government issued surplus foods, non perishables. They young couple were reticent to take the food. GG John assured them, “They give out the same amount to everyone. I’m an old man without much of an appetite. Please let me share this with you.”
So they did.

Wow! That box contained 1 lb butter, 5lbs of process American cheese, 5lbs of flour, 5 lbs of sugar, a large can of peanut butter, another can of bologna, a bag of lentils, and I can’t remember the rest! For the next six months GG John continued to present us with a box, once a month. That is until he had to be moved to the rest home.

And folks that was a portion of what the Surplus Foods Program handed out to individuals and families who qualified for help. We know it now as the Food Stamp Program or here in Oregon as the Oregon Trail Card. OTC looks like a credit card and is less obtrusive than Food Stamps. At least now lower income people have the choice of fresh fruit and veggies; along with fresh meat.

From that first box I made a delicious Lentil Soup. Scott didn’t like the texture of the lentils at all. But he did like the split peas that showed up in a later box. I liked the lentils and the split peas, so I came up with the compromise: 1/3 lentil and 2/3 split peas. It was a hit.  I just buy two bags of split peas and one of lentils.  I mix them together in a Tupperware storage container, cover and store.

Mac 'n Cheeses

I know what you are thinking, just what the  world needs, another recipe for macaroni and cheese.  Please bear with me.
Growing up I loved the school's mac 'n cheese.  The process american cheese melted over, under and through the elbow macaroni.  If only Mom could do that.  Nope.  Dad liked his with Tillamook cheddar.  Enough said.
Oh, I did try a couple of times.  I snuck in some Velveeta.  Dad noticed.  "Why don't you eat the macaroni and cheese at school and let Mom make the mac 'n cheese at home."  Oh, I never thought Mom added enough cheese.  There was always too much macaroni for my taste.

Friday, January 29, 2010

My Current Chili

My current chili came about one day when I was out of tomatoes. I had cooked a pot of pinto beans, browned up the ground meat, toasted the spices, and was reaching for tomatoes to deglaze the fry pan. No tomatoes in the pantry, freezer, or even dried tomatoes. I just had to make do. Well, the resulting chili was delicious without tomatoes.

I serve chili two ways. Either cornbread or corn chips as the side dish. I have always just used the recipe on the corn meal to make it. Corn and beans complement each other for a complete protein.

We like to make a full pot of chili. After dinner, I make three or four lunches for Scott by freezing the chili in individual serving containers. I freeze cornbread in a sandwich bag for each serving. Or he can buy corn chips at work. That leaves us with just enough leftover for a meal of chili burgers or dogs.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Uncle David's Favorite Chili Recipe

Our Uncle David was unique. He was Mom's younger (by six years) brother. He never married. He didn't hold a steady job until he went to work for Uncle Walt. He liked to play the horses and greyhounds. He had crush on both Julie London and Nancy Sinatra. He played their records over and over, much to my delight. When he was a teen, we played a game, he had 'foo foo dust' in his pockets, where he sprinkled me with pocket dust and I became a fairy.

When Uncle Dave arrived, he showered his nieces with kisses and hugs. We would wiggle and squirm to get away. Mom said we hurt his feelings when we did that. I felt bad about that, I truely never wanted to hurt him. Twenty years after his death, my cousin Nancy said, "I would give anything for one of Uncle David's hugs." I had to turn away or else break into great, grieving sobs.
Dave loved my chili.  He said it was better than Mom's, which was saying a lot.  I know what he liked about mine, I used ketchup in my chili.  Dave loved his ketchup.
We didn't see Uncle Dave for the year or so he was stationed in England.  When he came back, my younger sisters didn't remember him and would scream if he came near them.  It took a couple of months for them to realize he was the best uncle ever.  My apologies to Uncles Lawerence, Les, Ed, Roy, Walt, Harry, Jack, Ed, Jerry, and Bill.  I know you all know what I am talking about.


So, that is the way Peggy pronounces t(ah)co.  We have decided it was those '70's she lived in the midwest, those first years as a flight attendent.  She picked up that midwest twang.  Hey, come to think of it, she traveled to Iowa?, Ohio? when her birthday twin Rene, and her family came to visit ours back in the late '60's.  Peg went home with them and flew back a couple of weeks later.  Rene and Peggy were born in the same hospital on the same day.  Our moms were in adjacent beds.  We have pictures of their birthdays together until Rene's family moved when the girls were about five.  They are still friends.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rosemary Roast Chicken

One of Scott's favorite meals is Roast Chicken.  It was his Mom's Sunday Dinner.  By the time I had met Scott, Pat was fixing fried chicken for Sunday.  The whole family would wax poetic about Grandma Pearl's roast chicken.  (Grandma Pearl had passed before I met Scott.)  Anyway, it was about six or seven years ago that I learned how to roast chicken.  It is easier than frying chicken!

Scott was working for a company that oversaw the care of an autistic, developmentally delayed young man.  He was on the graveyard shift.  He did the house cleaning and took on the cooking.  He made meals and froze them for later use.  That way, the day workers didn't have to cook with the unpredictable behavior interrupting.

He had me search for recipes that were easy, nutritious, filling, and his ward could eat with a spoon.  Along the way I found a recipe for Rosemary Roast Beef.  Now, I have been growing rosemary next to the back door, to hide the ugly side of the porch, for 14 years.  But I hadn't used it in cooking.  So, I tried the recipe with a roast pork.  Ymmmmmm.  Scott was not impressed.  Next was chicken, "Okay," he said.  "Just not too often."

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I can honestly say we didn't eat much fresh fish growing up.  I remember the few times Dad caught trout and salmon.  We sat picking out the bones.  Mom and Dad hovering over us to make sure we didn't get any bones.  I loved that fish.
Most of the time our fish came from a can.  Tuna sandwiches.  Mom made them with Best Foods Sandwich Spread.  Her cousin Ruth used Best Foods Mayonaise.  I asked Mom to make the tuna with just mayo.  Seems the whole family preferred it.  At school we had Creamed Tuna Over Biscuits and Fish Sticks.  So my fish preparation skills were pretty slim when I married Scott.
Scott loves to fish.  He would live his life on the end of a pole, if he could.  He used to fish in rivers, wilderness lakes, the ocean; then he completely smashed his heels and ankles in an industrial accident.  He really doesn't like fishing off a dock.  Now I have to buy my fish.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How I Shop for Groceries

Yawn.  I know.  Shopping can be a boring neccessity.  Okay, I enjoy the 'Hunter Gatherer' of it all.  I also enjoy seeing my pantry stocked so I don't have to run to the store for something.  That wastes my time and my money as I don't always just get the one item.  There is too much marketing strategy for impluse buys in grocery stores and I do succumb to impulse buys.  Yes, bad, bad girl!
I only shop every other week.  That is how Scott is paid and that's the way I have been shopping for nearly 40 years.  By reducing the shopping trips, I do reduce the impulse buys and keep to my budget better.  If I run out of something: 
  1. I try to substitute.  Sometimes a disaster, sometimes a great result!
  2. Look for another recipe using pretty much the same ingredients
  3. Run to the store.  (This is a LAST resort)

Soups, Gravies, Stocks, Broths, Oh My!

Our dinner (Mom and Dad called it 'supper.'  "How old-fashioned," I thought in the first grade.) was meat, potatoes, gravy, a hot vegetable, and a fresh vegetable, 95% of the time.  The other 5% was chili, soup, stew, spaghetti or barbequed ribs (Mom's recipe from the green cookbook, I'll post that later.)   I remmeber standing at Mom's or Dad's elbow while they removed the meat from the frypan, added a little more Crisco to melt, stirred in the flour, let it brown, added lots of milk to make a pan gravy.  As a kid I didn't like pan gravy.  Sometime around puberty I found I loved pan gravy.  I have always loved a good roast gravy.  Mom made hers with cornstarch and so do I.
I guess here is a spot to explain how I grew up with plain cooking.  Dad doesn't like spices or herbs in his food.  (He got kicked out of a nursing home when he broke his hip, last Christmas, because he caused a mutiny over the food.  No lie.  They put basil in the tomato soup!)  He loves meat, potato, gravy, a veg, bread, and butter.  When we had spaghetti, we cooked him a hamburger patty and a boiled potato.  Mom served her barbeque short ribs with rice.  We cooked Dad a boiled potato.  The only casseroles we had were scalloped potatoes and mac & cheese.  At the same meal.  He has loosened up since he married Dorthy.  He still will not eat lamb, mutton, goose, or rabbit.  I'll tell you some of his goose and rabbit stories later.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What To Do When You're Out of Spaghetti Pasta

Since Scott's paydays have changed from the 15th and the last day of the month to every other Friday; it has made a hiccup in my grocery shopping.  I have always shopped twice a month, on payday.  In between, I run after fresh produce or milk.  It's just a 40 year old habit.  It's just that he was paid the 31st and I was expecting to shop again on the 15th.  But, no, he was paid again on the 8th, tiny amount, and then not until the 22nd.  I forgot about the change.
I am running out of some staples.  No problem.  Just substitute.  After all, one pasta is just another in a different shape, right?  Right.  Pasta is just flour and water, kneaded, and rolled thin or thick.  The shapes we buy at the market are all pressed through a die.  Okay, so I had 1/4 lb piccolini, 1/3 lb medium shells, and 1/2 lb macaroni.  With the sauce, it is still spaghetti.

Julia Child, Campbells Soup, and Me

One of the 10 cookbooks I kept in my purge was Julia Child and Company.  Julia and I spent many Saturday afternoons cooking our way through this book.  Well, Julia cooked on the show of the same name, while I soaked up every little morsel in information I could.
When I found the cookbook, I bought it.  I have been happily cooking from it since 1978.  Anyway, I remembered her recipe for Turkey Orloff.  A rich rice suebise combined with sliced turkey and mushroom duxelles, covered in a rich gratin.  Of course, when I reread the recipe, I realized I didn't have the time to do her recipe, considering the turkey was still a bit frozen and the only cheese in the house was Tillamook.  What to do?  Improvise!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Massachechetts Dinner in Oregon

I found the original recipes for this dinner in an 1880's cookbook nearly 40 years ago. It is one of our all time favorites.  I have been wanting to go on a picnic, but the weather is so lousey I thought I'd make an indoor picnic.  No bears.
Baked beans are so easy to make. I have been taking them to potlucks since I found this recipe and tweaked it to make it my own. I bake them overnight in a slow oven with the bedroom door closed. That's because they smell so appetizing we wake up in the middle of the night for a little snack before the beans are done. Hence, the closed door. Why cause anymore temptation?

We also love to eat Boston Brown Bread with the beans. By just using ham hocks or broth as seasoning in the beans, we get a full protein with the cornmeal in the bread. And it is a great way to use up the last little bit of a variety of flours before they go stale. The sweetness of the bread is just right for a ham sandwich, don't forget the mustard!

Mom's Potato Salad is my favorite in the whole world. My sisters, Peggy Ann and Debjo, have that real Mom taste in their salads. I limit the amount of eggs in mine due to a non-affinity to egg whites. Don't care for the texture at all.  I also limit the amount of mayonaise, subbing a bit of milk.
I learned much about cooking from my ex-sister-in-law, Marilyn. (She also taught me how to properly cast-on and off when knitting and how to embroider without knots.) She told me about ham hocks as a sensible solution when you want to flavor beans and split peas. In case you don't know about ham hocks: They are the end of the shank half of a ham. If you are looking at the walking pig, they are just above the ankle where the lower leg muscles attach to the bones. They generally don't have much meat, do have some fat, and do have full ham flavor. I keep them in the freezer as part of my stocked pantry. (More about that later.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mom's Crappy Homemade Pizza

Okay, that is Selene's name for the pizza recipe I have been using since 1966. My young self had no idea what pizza really was. You see, the pizza we got in school lunches back then, was nothing like pizza. The school cooks used pre-made square pizza crusts, (similar to the round ones you can buy at the market) tomato sauce, process american cheese, and either leftover sloppy joe mix or spaghetti sauce. Baked and served on the plastic trays.
In 1966 I had my first American style pizza, Hawaiian, cold. A group of friends met at Shakey's Pizza Parlor for my cousin Nancy's 16th birthday. My sister, Peggy Ann, and I had never been to a pizza parlor before. The party organizer ordered the pizza when she arrived. Everyone else was late due to 'cruisin' the gut'. It was a townie thing. Anyway, we ate one piece of 'pizza' and were hooked. Another night we tried pepperoni, it was all good.
So, one night I tried to make pizza for the family. It was a disaster. Mom's green cooking encyclopedia, the only cookbook she ever owned, had limited information on pizza. I remember there was a recipe for risen dough that I did not have time to prepare. So, I made biscuit dough from the box, rolled it out, put it on a cookie sheet. I used canned tomato sauce, Tillamook cheddar cheese, raw hamburger, and pepperoni sticks for topping. Well, the dough was not cooked through. The hamburger grease filled the cookie sheet. And the pepperoni sticks were as hard as rocks. We ran to the burger joint and brought dinner home.
Selene calls it MCHP because the crust is too thin,the toppings include ground beef and pineapple, and there is no pepperoni. I make other pizzas, but this was my first and Scott still likes it.

Welcome to Grandma's Kitchen! Let's Eat Ham!

I've always wanted to write a cookbook. After all, I was collecting cookbooks for nearly 40 years! So, I thought this would be a chance to share my favorite recipes and try out some new ones as well. Oh, all those cookbooks - I sold or donated all but 10 of my very favorite ones. I decided to lighten the load. My deocrating style went from cluttered to sleek and I like it so much better :).

Although there are just the two of us now, husband Scott and myself, I am used to cooking for up to six. Oh all right, I was a school cook, camp cook, and caterer. I find no problem in cooking for 100 by myself. Some of the recipes will be for 2 some for 6. I will try to remember to list servings. Just remember, unless otherwise stated, just increase or decrease for your personal situation.
One of our favorite meats is ham. I buy the butt cut because of my daughter, Selene. About 20 years ago we were doing the grocery shopping and she saw 'butt' on the ham. Well, you know the jokes. I changed from shank cut to butt cut that day. We like the texture, flavor, and ease of slicing.
Anyway, I found this one for $.99/lb with 30% off. So it became the basis for last nights' dinner: