Monday, September 28, 2009

Roasted Tomatoes

Well it's September 28 and lookit what came in from the garden today.

So far this summer (and now, fall) I have made tomato sauce,

marinara sauce,

tomato soup (both roasted and non).

I have dried tomatoes in the oven,

dried 'em in the dehydrator (and dried 'em and dried 'em),

and yes, even tried drying them on the dashboard of my car.
Not a capital idea.
And now? I am roasting.
Big time roasting.

It's smelling good and garlicky around here. When I'm done, these roasted tomatoes -- those that escape immediate ingestion, that is -- will go into the freezer to serve over pasta in the dead of winter when I have forgotten what it is to be drowning in a glut of tomatoes.
If you, too, would like to know about the glories of roasting tomatoes, check out this post from Notes from a Cottage Garden. The roasted tomatoes really do taste heavenly.
Please excuse me now. I have more roasting to do.

Lots and lots more roasting.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Great-great-grandma Hattie's Cake

I don't usually have much luck making layer cakes. My pans are slightly different sizes which makes stacking problematic, the batter usually rises in the middle making the construction even more precarious, I'm not patient enough to let the cakes cool so I can't get them out of the pan in one piece, the frosting usually melts (see character quality of impatience, above), etc., etc.

This cake, however, a white cake with a hint of lemon, topped with buttery cocoa-coffee frosting, turned out perfect.

What can I say?

The recipe is from 1916. It's one of the stash I inherited from my great-great-grandma Hattie.
If you zoom in on the picture, you'll see in the upper right hand corner the date, 6/17/16. How cool is that? A recipe that's almost 100 years old.

You'll also see it is actually another Mrs. Borwell recipe (see Mrs. Borwell's Fingers here). I figured if Mrs. Borwell could do the fingers, I could probably trust her to do a good cake, too.

You might also note there are no directions on this recipe, just a list of ingredients.

C'mon, Mrs. B., give a girl a little help, will ya?

I turned to one of my trusty regular cookbooks for advice on what exactly to do with all these ingredients.
I also made the executive decision to double the frosting quantities listed on the original card. It was a good call.
After all that effort, I've decided I have earned the right to re-dub this recipe: It is now Great-great-grandma Hattie's Cake.
Great-great-grandma Hattie's Slightly Lemony White Cake with Cocoa-Coffee Frosting
1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. lemon extract
4 egg whites (I'm not sure why you couldn't substitute 2 eggs for this; anyone know?)
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 c. milk
In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer for a couple of minutes, until blended. Add vanilla and lemon extracts and egg whites; beat until blended. In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry mixture to batter alternately with milk, a little of one then a little of the other, until all dry ingredients and milk have been used and mixture is well blended.
Grease and flour two 8 x 8-inch pans. Pour half of batter in each pan, and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
1/2 c. butter
3 c. powdered sugar
4 t. cocoa
4 T. coffee (I used decaf as I was serving in the evening)
2 t. vanilla
Using electric mixer, cream butter. Add about half the powdered sugar, blending well. Beat in cocoa, coffee, and vanilla. Gradually blend in rest of powdered sugar.
For best results, let cakes cool before taking them out of the pan and frosting.

An added side note: this plate is one that Hattie herself painted. Her initials are on the back, along with the date of 1893.
Anyone else have an Heirloom in Autumn post you want to share?


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tomatoes Tonnato

We had this dish tonight with fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes, smothered in a sauce made of tuna fish, capers, and anchovies, among other ingredients. My guess is that no child under the age of, say, 20, would eat it (at least no child I know). Kahuna and I, however, found it to be outstandingly delicious, especially with that lemon zest and slivered basil garnish. This is a keeper.
I got the recipe from an old issue of Parade Magazine, but I found the identical one here. While the recipe called for an entire cup of mayonnaise, I put in just 1/4 cup, and I thought the results were perfect.

As you can see, I still have a few more garden vegetables to use up. We have been eating like kings all summer.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Powdered Sugar "Finger" Cookies

The real name of this recipe is "Mrs. Borwell's Fingers." No offense to Mrs. Borwell, but that just sounded creepy. So I renamed these cookies, which are tasty little morsels that contain chopped walnuts and are rolled in powdered sugar while still warm.

I was inspired by this post at The Golden Needle blog. Golden Needle has been baking her way through the old recipes in her mother's recipe box. Isn't that the neatest idea?

My beautiful grandma Nana, who was an accomplished cook and indefatigable baker even into her 90s, gave me this stack of recipes a few years ago, before she passed away.

They belonged to her own beloved grandma (so that would be my great, great grandma), whose name was Hattie.
They just don't make names like Hattie anymore.
Apparently Nana was the family scribe, helping her mom organize recipes and taking down notes specific to their preparation. Many of the recipes are simply yellowed newspaper clippings, cut out and taped onto 3 x 5 cards with no personal notes added. I'm not as eager to try those as I am to try ones like "Mrs. Borwell's Fingers" -- creepy name aside -- recipes that have notes added in my grandma's own hand.
Though I've had these recipes for a few years now, this is the first one I've tried from this bunch. It was fun trying to decipher instructions like "blend over fire slowly" -- which I translated as "cook over low heat." The biggest puzzle was being told to take the batter and "spread in tins." Er, tins? What kind of tins? I decided an 8 x 8-inch greased baking pan would do nicely.
Which it did.

1/4 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1 t. vanilla
powdered sugar
In medium saucepan, melt butter. Add brown sugar and blend over low heat until well-mixed (a couple of minutes). Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes. Add egg and beat well. Mix in flour, baking powder, salt, nuts, and vanilla. Spread batter in greased 8 x 8-inch pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. While hot, cut into strips. Let cool for a couple minutes for easier handling. While still warm, roll in powdered sugar ("if so wish," instructs Nana. I wish).
Thank you for the inspiration to pull out these recipes, Golden Needle. Anyone else want to join in the fun of trying out some old family recipes? We could do an Heirloom in Autumn recipe challenge. Anyone?


Friday, September 11, 2009

Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin. One of my favorite cuts of meat. A little on the expensive side, but you can cut it into thin slices to make it go further. Fan it out on some lettuce for a really nice presentation.
Or not.
We had this delicious version for last night's dinner, courtesy of Pam over at For the Love of Cooking. Recipe here. Note the Dijon-maple syrup glaze in the white cup. I could drink Dijon-maple syrup glaze. In fact, I think I'll go drink some of the leftover Dijon-maple syrup glaze right now.
Sorry. Just had a little taste. I'm better now.
Go pay Pam and her tenderloin a visit. You won't be sorry.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Four-Ingredient Lamb and Pear Casserole

Just four ingredients to this delightful main dish.
Yes, four. Unless you count the salt. Then five.

This recipe comes from The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking, a 797-page book my grandma gave me years ago that's simply filled with color photographs. Don't you love to see pictures of what you're thinking about making?
The pears break down as they cook, and, combined with the ground ginger, make a lovely gingersnappish sauce.
The hardest part about this recipe is cutting the fat off the meat, so if you have a butcher who will cut the meat for you, I say go for it.

2 pounds stewing lamb, trimmed of excess fat and cut into pieces
2 t. ground ginger
6 medium-sized cooking pears, peeled, quartered, and cored (I'm sure canned pears would work fine)
2 T. white wine

Put meat into lightly greased large pan that has a tight-fitting lid. (I use the same one I cook spaghetti in.). Brown in its own fat. Sprinkle ginger over meat. Add pears and a little salt if desired. Add wine. (The book notes, "Juice from pears should provide sufficient liquid, but if it begins to dry, add a little more white wine.") Cover tightly and cook on low for 1 1/4 hours.

Note that I served this over baked potatoes. But it would be lovely on its own, or served with rice or noodles.

Also, my conscience demands that I tell you the official recipe calls for a package of frozen string beans to be added at the same time as the pears. But all residents of this castle would painstakingly pick out each green bean and oh-so-uncomplainingly nudge it to the side of their plate. So alas, no green beans here. If your castle dwellers are more amenable to green bits, feel free to add them.

Do you have any four-ingredient dishes you lunge for when prep time is limited?


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ann Kroeker's Belgian Salad and Crepes

Big excitement here at the castle. Today I have a GUEST POST-er!

It's Ann Kroeker, whose blog you'll find here. Ann has written the recently-published book, Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families, which is filled with encouragement for families to take life a bit slower in all kinds of ways: slow down so kids can be creative, slow down so your family can savor traditions, slow down long enough to enjoy God's creation.

One of my very favorite suggestions from the book was to take time to scribe; to write down a section or book of the Bible, word for word, allowing each and every word to really sink in. After reading about this, I've started transcribing in a journal the gospel of Mark. I can't wait to see what treasures unfold.

When I asked Ann if she had any recipes for readers who hope to slow down the pace of family life, here is what she shared:

My husband grew up in Belgium, where everyone in the country knows how to stop mid-morning and enjoy a leisurely coffee break. In fact, this might come as a shock, but vehicles in Belgium don’t come with standard cupholders. While Belgians might take a Thermos full of coffee to drink later on during their mid-morning break, they don’t seem to drink any en route. Maybe that’s because most cars have manual transmissions and require shifting with a hand that might otherwise be holding the mug. Or maybe Belgians would rather wait until they can sit down at home or a café and truly enjoy sipping it while nibbling a Speculoo cookie. I suppose we could argue that the caffeine from all that coffee negates their slow-down tendencies, but in general, Belgians seem to know how to hit the pause button. From what I can tell on my visits, Belgian families seem to eat together often, and their evening meals are eaten slowly, while sitting down and talking.

To celebrate their slower pace of life, I’d like to share two European recipes.

The last time we were visiting family in Belgium, I learned how to make a delicious salad using Belgian endives. That’s what they’re called at American supermarkets. The French word for them is “chicons.” This salad is an easy and delicious change of pace when it comes to a side dish/salad option. I fix it for adults, though, as kids aren’t sure about the taste of the endives, which is slightly bitter (though balanced with the sweetness from the mandarin oranges). Here’s the link (scroll to the very bottom for the recipe—but feel free to pause and admire the Belgian bread and beer pictures, if you like).
We also love crepes, which are a little bit more French than Belgian, but Belgians certainly make them. They are simple and inexpensive to prepare, yet make my family feel so loved. The kids literally jump up and down when I announce that crepes are on the menu and often request them for birthday breakfasts. Guests gobble them up. I wrote a crepe-making post years ago that includes the recipe, instructions, and helpful videos I plucked from YouTube to illustrate various stages of crepe-making. Here’s the link to“Crepes? Mais, Oui!” Much later, I recorded two simple videos of my own to illustrate how to “spin” the crepe batter on the skillet and how to roll a crepe on one’s plate before eating it.

I’d love to see more and more American families start slowing down enough to gather around tables for dinner. It’s easy to lose this tradition in the shuffle of frenzied schedules. When we’re always on the go, we lose the fellowship of this daily act of hospitality that we can offer to each other and extend to others as the Lord leads.
Maybe you don’t have time for dinner this week—if so, at the very least, try implementing an everyday slow-down solution from across the pond: Be a little Belgian today and brew a pot of coffee. Then sit down for a few minutes with a friend and talk. It’s a way to live not so fast in our high-speed world.

NOTE: For more thoughts about not-so-fast living, see Ann's posts here. And enjoy that coffee.

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