On Facebook, Friendship and Food

Facebook is one of those things with which people have a love/hate relationship.  I happen to love it most days.  It keeps me young, for one thing.  Having friends from all age groups helps one see things from another perspective, and I have made many connections with others who have become close friends, even though we have never met face to face.   In general, I find it to be a great thing!

One of those facebook friends knows I enjoy cooking and reading.  She decided to indulge both my favorite things and gifted me this lovely book, Texas, The Beautiful Cookbook, and it really is beautiful!

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This incredible book is full of information, the most beautiful pictures and some fun recipes, all to give me the feel of life in Texas.  I have never been to that part of the country, so I was thrilled to turn each page!

And of course, what does one do when one gets a new cookbook?  You frantically look through the house to see if you have ingredients to make anything right then and there!

I had some fresh cantaloupe, cut up for snacking, which, of course, I never snack on, preferring something rather more unhealthy and fun, so I used the fruit to make a recipe called Aquas Frescas.  It’s nice because it’s just whatever fruit you have in a blender with lime juice and a touch of sugar.  WOW!  So delicious!  I brought it to a friends house for a party and I recommended that one could add a bit of sparkling wine to it, just to be a bit more festive!

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I’ll be scanning this lovely coffee table book for weeks, and adding to my knowledge of lovely Texas as I do and as always,

Let me feed you!

Cooking like a First Lady, circa 1965?

This is one of my vintage cookbooks and I recently thought I’d look a few things up.

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It’s from 1965 and the first thing I wanted to see is what the President’s wife contributed to the book.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a recipe for one of my favorite things to eat, Popovers!  Now I don’t know why, but hardly anyone ever makes them anymore.  If you’ve ever read Little Women, you’d know that the girls take their precious breakfast popovers to the poor family and Amy is upset by the loss!  Also, when I was a youngster, my father used to take us to a lovely restaurant, called The Proud Popover.da4d031395c932ff4cdebe4c2d5e3ae6

This restaurant was a colonial in theme, with big pewter mugs and plates and gigantic popovers.  I was addicted to those things.  I’d drench them in butter and honey.  Wonderful.    Our family wanted to make them at home, but as my mother had passed away, and we kids were not the best cooks yet, my dad found a mix that he’d buy and they were as close as possible to heaven for a couple of 70’s era kids.

Well, now I make these from scratch, because really, what could be easier and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson’s recipe is practically the same as anyone you might find online.  (I don’t like that tradition of the ladies going by their husband’s names as if her only identity is through the husband, but that’s for another blogger to write about.).

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I don’t use melted shortening, however, I use canola oil , but everything else is the same!  Also, she tells us you can use a regular muffin tin, but to get that true popover height, you need a good iron popover pan.  I found mine at…you guessed it!  Resale!

You have to eat them right out of the oven.  The crispy outside and the almost empty middles, make a perfect vehicle for adding veggies or casseroles if desired, but I prefer them as I did when a child, with butter and honey.  Here.  Have one.

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Let me feed you.

 

 

Not ashamed to be old-fashioned

This post is a bit about your humble writer.  Since I’m trying to have this blog sound like we’re just two people chatting over the fence, you should get to know me a bit better!  I’m an old-fashioned gal.  I like to bake from scratch,  listen to old-time radio, (my favorite is Jack Benny!), I always have an open door, hot food and a sympathetic ear for anyone who needs a friend.  I’ll admit, when younger, I always admired the Mother of the Bride’s dress rather than the actual bride and now that my girls are entering a marriageable age, I pin matronly, yet glittering dresses that I will lovingly shop for someday!  In general, I think I was born an old woman!

I’ve never been afraid to get older.  Of course, no one likes the aches and pains that come with age, but somehow, I just always connect better to older ideas.  Maybe because I was raised by my auntie after my mother died, maybe because I was never a pretty young woman, but for whatever reason, in my head, I always see myself as the mothers from the old movies, like Andy Hardy and Public Enemy. 

I do wear an apron in my kitchen, vintage ones I pick up when I can find them.  I am a bit plump.  However, I have hair the color of ripe plums and I swear like a sailor, so I guess there, the resemblance stops!

Today, it is a cloudy, humid day.  Blueberries were 1 dollar a pint so I picked some up for a nice, comforting cobbler.   With the Those Were The Days show playing on the radio, I’m perfectly at ease.

I hope you will come over.  The coffee pot is always on and the timer just went off, so the cobbler is hot.

Let me feed you.

 

Don’t say you can’t cook

I have always liked to cook.  However, that does not mean I don’t have SO many failures under my belt.  (Ask my kids about the cream puffs).  I hear from some friends who see my posts and say “Oh, I wish I could cook.”  I tell them, “But you CAN!”.  It seems to me that sometimes a person will see a recipe online and regardless of experience, will try some of the most difficult things and then when they don’t get the results they expected, they just give up and say they can’t cook.

I’m about to tell you that you can.

It’s not the difficulty of cooking that makes you quit, it’s the lack of experience and we ALL have to start somewhere.  I’m just your ordinary housewife.  There are a lot of blogs run by professional chefs or dieticians, and I LOVE those, but sometimes you want to hear straight talk by someone cooking for a family, who does not have professional equipment or a large food budget.   Gordon Ramsey would holler at me on a nightly basis, sometimes, he might end up surprised, but in actuality, it’s only my hubby and kids I need to please!   An all-time family pleaser is always some kind of pasta.  As I said previously, my pasta machine was found at resale and would you believe it, but that I was shopping at the local Italian market and they had a gnocchi attachment for half price!

So dinner tonight was Homemade Gnocchi in a Fresh Tomato Marinara.

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I am not including the recipes here because you can find them anywhere online or in a cookbook, but let me just say that even if you don’t think you can cook, you can impress your whole family by making your tomato sauce from the superabundant and inexpensive tomatoes in your grocery or your garden!   It does not take a long time or tons of experience and it’s SO CHEAP!  Just think how proud you’ll be to be able to say to your family.

Let me feed you.

Apparently I’m “cool”.

My teenaged son just called me cool.  If any of you have teenagers, you understand what high praise that is.  You are probably wondering what I did to deserve it.  Did I buy him booze?  Nope.  Let a girl stay in his room?  Nope.

I made jello.

Actually, I made one of the recipes from an old 1930’s era pamphlet from Royal Jello.

Back when the kids were very young, I made jello more frequently, because it’s inexpensive and “there’s always room for jello!”, but honestly, it’s empty calories that could be used for something better. (like wine.)

However, when thinking over what sort of things I could make from my old booklets, I kept coming back to a gelatin dish of some sort.  Nothing too strange, though I’ve had the experience of diving into a delicious looking dessert, only to find myself munching on raw, shredded carrots.  That was NOT an experience I wanted my family to share.

It was a pretty big deal when gelatin powders came out.  Up until then, it was a tough thing to make.  Long hours over a hot stove, boiling animal bones meant that mainly the wealthy, with servants, had the ability to serve it.  It was quite elegant to be able to present your guests with a pretty aspic or jelled treat.

In the years following the commercial success of Jell-O, these, once rare dishes were everywhere.  Even when I was growing up in the 70’s, it was not a party unless you had a jello dessert and I still make a 7-layer jello for special occasions!

So here’s my lovely Royal Cherry Monticello.

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Not as pretty as pictured, through only my own fault,  I was rushed for time and incorporated the whipped cream before the gelatin was sufficiently thickened.  I actually had to make a thrift store run this morning to get the mold.  What modern woman has a bunch of random molds?  Well, actually, I do now…

So, long story short, how do you get a teenaged boy to call you “cool”?

Make jello, or come on over here.  I have LOTS.

Let me feed you!

 

 

 

Gluten-Free Buckwheat Pancakes

Buckwheat is an awesome flour.  However, so many recipes for my favorite breakfast include wheat flour.  I’m not gluten-free, by any means, but it’s nice to have options to offer friends who need to be, due to health issues or just preference.

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I recently discovered Cassava flour.  Now, you should know.  If there is a flour that I haven’t yet worked with, I’m buying it.  I currently have 11 different types of flour in my house.  I use them all for different things.  I hope to give examples of recipes for you in later posts.

Back to Cassava, it is a tuberous root, that must be cooked otherwise it is poisonous.  (I guess you should not eat raw cookie dough with this product!).  It’s very processed, however, in order to make the flour and really does not have a lot of nutrients, other than a higher fiber content.  However, the plus side is that it is gluten-free!  I’ve had friends request my buckwheat pancake recipe, but I’ve had to tell them that it also contains wheat flour.  So, in honor of my gluten-free pals, here’s my adjusted recipe, now gluten-free!

    Gluten-free buckwheat pancakes

   Brush griddle with oil.  Heat until nicely hot.   

Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.  Pour scant 1/4 cup of batter onto hot griddle, turning them when bubbles appear on their surface.  

Serve with whatever toppings you like.  I’m a gal who just like butter and nothing else, but you do you.

Extra pancakes can be frozen or kept in the refrigerator.

Unlike Amaranth, Cassava flour is very similar in texture to white flour and imparts no flavor, so I think one could use it in many recipes in order to convert them to gluten-free.  Buckwheat flour has a stronger taste and my family does not care for it, but I think it’s heavenly.  Of course, I’m right.

So that’s one more group of people that I can confidently tell,

Let me feed you!

 

 

 

The way Grandma used to cook

Do you collect something?  Most people do.  Seashells, beanie babies, shoes, maybe?  I collect old cookbooks and cooking pamphlets.  I have hundreds of these little booklets and it is just so fun to page through them.  It’s even educational!  Like a little walk through history.

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Here are a few of my books.  You can pick these up very inexpensively at used book sales, antique stores or garage sales.  Most of them will not set you back more than a few dollars.

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I just love the Settlement cookbooks subtitle, “Way to a Man’s heart.”  This cookbook is not the original from 1901, but rather a much-loved 1928 edition.   To tell the truth, I prefer the loved copies best.  It’s delightful to read another housewives notes and clippings.  My copy has a handwritten recipe for Tuna Surprise (yeah, no thanks), and a handful of articles from the local newspaper, including one entitled, “Old-Fashioned Roast Cookery is Unpatriotic” from a 1942 Chicago newspaper!  These little articles are valuable to me!  As you can see, sometimes the backs are more interesting than the front!  Wouldn’t you love to “Dine and Dance” at Chateau D’Jean?     36836416_10212678631906808_1469070512507322368_n

My oldest book is the White House Cookbook, which I inherited from my Aunt.  It was her Mother-in-law’s book and started me on my quest for more like it!  The book is EXTREMELY fragile and rarely removed from its safe haven.  It’s been well-used in its many years of existence.  I actually had an American Family cookbook from the same year, but it was even more fragile, so I donated it to the local historical society here in town.

So my idea, what with all these lovely books, is to make a few recipes from some of them and show you how they turned out!  I’m looking them over and in the next few days should have some interesting ideas.

My husband is terrified.  He’d much rather YOU would

let me feed you!

Trying Amaranth

Do you have a list of foods to try?  You should!  Life is so interesting when you experience new flavors.  My list consists of a few new things, one of which was Amaranth.  Amaranth is not actually a grain, it’s a seed.  It’s an ancient one too, popular with the Aztecs.  Amaranth has many nutritional benefits, it’s actually gluten-free and protein-rich, not to mention high in fiber.  Most Americans do not get even close to the recommended fiber in their diets. 

You can use this flour by replacing 1/4 of your regular flour in recipes.  I found this recipe on the Whole Foods website. I made this Amaranth Banana Bread and it turned out great.

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However, if I’m going to be honest and of course, I am, the flavor is well, different.  Not bad, really, but it takes a bit of getting used to.  It’s described on sites as mild, sweet, nutty, and malt like .

I guess I’d agree about the malt-like, but I’d also add it’s a bit grassy tasting.  Like I said, not bad, sort of reminiscent of green tea. My husband, who is a fan of banana bread is not willing to try this one!!  However, I’m definitely going to try amaranth in more recipes.  The benefits of experimenting with different flours are many, so why not add some to your diet too?

Come on over and try my grassy, nutty banana bread!!  Tell me what you think and let me feed you!

Confessions of a Cheapskate

The Age of the Shopping Mall is over.  Long live resale!  Guys, I will be totally upfront and honest with you here.  I was your stereotypical 80’s teen. Me young I had big hair and no one spent more time in the local mall than I did, but you know…somewhere along the way, I realized that the latest new thing did not bring me much pleasure.  Worse than that, it brought me bills!   The problem was, I LIKE lots of cooking utensils and I like lots of clothes (usually because I go UP and down in weight, due to the fact that I enjoy my own cooking!), so how does one get her shopping and cooking fix satisfied without killing your wallet?

The Resale Store.

Most of us have one in our neck of the woods.  Be it a Goodwill or a church-run organization, these are gold mines, filled with treasure.  Now in full disclosure, I volunteer at one of these, Community Threads so, of course, I’m going to be hyped about them.   However, the reason I decided to volunteer in the first place was that I was a customer first!

The resale shopper does so much good for her community.  First and foremost, many of these give jobs and money to worthy causes. Next, you will be able to save your self so much money, if you tell yourself that the next time you need something, you will check the thrift stores first, before buying new.  I found my beloved pasta maker  in its box, brand new for 20 dollars, saving me 40 dollars if I had bought it new!

Lastly, I will tell you right now that I love the abundance that we have in America, don’t ever doubt me, but working resale and seeing the vast amounts of things that are donated on a daily basis, makes me think twice about buying new.  I am stunned at how many things are purchased and then discarded.  I hate the waste with a passion.  It’s also a bit sad that grandma’s vintage linens are so unloved and unwanted that they end up at our store for 50 cents a piece.   Those linens?  I bought them, washed and ironed them and as you see, they are beautiful.36671347_10212655711013800_8358090556554870784_n

Do the whole world, including your bank account a HUGE favor, kill the mall, buy used, my darlings.  Then come on over and show me all your neat finds and we can chat over a slice of banana bread and some coffee.  As always,

Let me feed you.

Cooking Vegan for the first time

Cooking new ways and using new ingredients is the best way of understanding people and cultures.  Though we are not a vegan family, I am intrigued by the lifestyle and food options.  So, naturally, when my daughter invited a few friends for an Independence Day celebration and one happened to be vegan, it gave me the opportunity to try something different.

These tacos are made with Tempeh, which is a fermented soybean product, sort of in a pressed cake-type thing.  I’ll admit it does not look very appetizing, but I’m game to try most things, so why not?  Besides, every year I have a list of foods to try and this was number one!36580986_10212644190325790_1342196345359826944_n

I used a recipe from Thug Kitchen.   Breakfast Tempeh and Potato Taco Bar.  The link will take you to the recipe, which is copyrighted, and I respect other people’s creations too much to steal them.  However, here is what the filling looked like going into the oven. 36640267_10212655711653816_2212548511294029824_n

See?  All nice and soaking in that spicy liquid, which is vegetable broth, (easy to make from scratch and freeze for when needed), and spices!  The broth cooks into the tempeh and softens the potatoes so nicely.  I made this slight in advance and put in the slow cooker so our guests could help themselves.  Here is the finished taco! 36753588_10212655711453811_1613652739621912576_n

Not only did our lovely vegan friend eat about 4 of them, but our other guests, who tried them out of curiosity originally, kept coming back for more!  These really were simply fabulous!

So what did I learn from this?  Tempeh, despite its appearance, is really versatile and I can’t wait to try it in other things.  Wouldn’t you think this old broad would know not to judge appearances?

The Thug Kitchen books are delightfully fun.  However, I should add a caveat.  If you are a bit sensitive, be warned, there is lots of bad language in them.  As for myself, I swear like a sailor, so I find the books quite amusing!   It’s up to you, however.  Don’t let a few cuss words having you leaving a valuable vegan resource behind!

Now I can say, confidently, to my vegan friends, Let me feed you!