Category Archives: Cooking

Baby Shower Treats

One of the moms in Basketball Girl’s class is expecting twins in a few weeks. Here’s what I made for the baby shower:

Oh, to be eating for three!

For those of you who would like a super-easy, always-a-winner potluck recipe, here’s my foolproof brownie recipe (adapted from the old Joy of Cooking recipe):

Best Brownies Ever

5 squares unsweetened baker’s chocolate

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350.  Melt the chocolate, butter, and salt together over low heat.  While the butter mixture is melting, beat the sugar, eggs, and vanilla together until creamy and smooth.  Add the flour and beat until just blended.  After the chocolate mixture is completely melted, cool for 5 minutes, then add to the sugar/flour mixture. Beat on low speed until the chocolate is well blended in.  Pour into a 13 x 9 pan or spoon into a greased mini-muffin pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 (even if you’re making the muffins). The mini-muffin version is crustier and liked even by my husband, who isn’t a big brownie fan.

I love this recipe because it takes only about 10 minutes to assemble the ingredients, but tastes so much better than a brownie mix.

My Family Heirloom

One of my prize possessions is the recipe box that contains this card.  This is my great-grandmother’s cinnamon bread recipe, hand-written by my mother, who died more than ten years ago. I make the cinnamon bread every year at Christmas and Easter. There are other cards in the box in my grandmother’s handwriting, and lots of old recipes that came from who knows where.

I didn’t find my mother easy to get along with, but one place we were always at home together was in the kitchen.

Best Rum Cake Recipe Ever

Ingredients:

1 or 2 quarts rum

1 cup butter

1 tsp. sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup dried fruit

½ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. soda

Lemon juice

Brown sugar

Nuts

Preparation Instructions:

Before you start, sample the rum to check for quality. Good, isn’t it? Now proceed:

Select a large mixing bowl, measuring cup, etc. Check the rum again: it must be just right. To make doubly sure it’s the desired quality, pour one level cup into a glass and drink as fast as you can. Repeat. With an electric mixer, beat 1 cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 teaspoon thugar and beat again. Meanwhile, try another cup of rum, opening second quart if necessary. Add 1 arge leggs, 2 cups fried druit and beat until high. If druit sticks in beaters, pry loose with a drewscriver. Sample rum, checking for tonscisticity. Next, sift 3 cups pepper, or maybe salt. It really doesn’t matter. Sample rum. Sift ½ pint lemon juice. Fold in chopped butter and strained nuts. Add 1 babblespoon of brown thugar, or whatever color comes to hand, and wix mell.

Cooking / Baking Instructions:

Grease coven and set pake can at 350 gredees ‘F. Pour whole mess into coven. Check rum again, then go to bed.

Posted in honor of my aunt Susan, who first shared this recipe with me, and who died of leukemia in November. She was a good cook and had a great sense of humor.

Apple Pizza

One of my favorite cooking techniques is called the Refrigerator Survey. I open the refrigerator and stare inside until my eyes focus on something. Hey, what’s that in the back corner? Some Trader Joe’s pizza dough I had forgotten all about? And is that a bag of lonely apples in the fruit drawer? Throw in some butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, and voila! Apple pizza. I just had a little difficulty getting the dough to roll out into a conventional shape.

Gingerbread Homeless Hut II

This year’s gingerbread house solved some, but by no means all, of the engineering issues we encountered with last year’s gingerbread house.  We learned to bake the pieces for hours and hours until they are stiff as bricks, which solved the problem of having the walls slowly fold up and collapse in the middle.  But we still haven’t managed the trick of making our frosting/mortar strong enough so the walls will bear the weight of the roof and chimney.  Hence the design of this year’s house, which has a flat roof, a handy ramp made from the extra shingles, and odd pieces of chimney lying around randomly as if the house has been hit by a small tornado. One thing hasn’t changed:  it really tastes good!

These are Not Christmas Cookies

In our household, we have a strict rule against celebrating seasonal holidays before their time. Otherwise, Basketball Girl’s enthusiasm for decorating would lead us to celebrate Halloween starting in August, Christmas the day after Halloween, and Easter in January.  So no Christmas decorations or music are allowed around here until December 1. That’s why these cookies have nothing at all to do with Christmas. They’re Thanksgiving cookies.  Or even post-Halloween cookies, since we haven’t removed the Halloween tablecloth from the kitchen table yet.

What to Give the Man Who Has Everything

Homemade applesauce, here in a preliminary stage.  I canned a few jars for my father’s 79th birthday.

Applesauce is surprisingly easy to make.  Ingredients list: apples.  Cooking method: add a little water to peeled and cored apples, cook on low heat in a covered pan until fairly soft, then use a blender on a stick to blend everything smooth.  Elapsed time: about half an hour. If the apples are very sour, add some maple syrup.  Some people like applesauce with cinnamon.  In that case, just add a half teaspoon of cinnamon or so.  That’s all there is to it.

Hey, These Would be Really Great with Some Haggis!

These are some elderly beets I found petrifying in the refrigerator the other day and pressed into service for dinner, to my family’s great disgust. The worst moment of my day comes every afternoon around three o’clock, when I realize that I have allowed yet another day to go buy without going to the grocery store or figuring out what to have for dinner. If there’s a genetic advantage to being the kind of person who’s incapable of organizing anything more than a few minutes ahead of time, I’d really like to know what it is.

The Tasting of the Haggis

A few months ago, I inherited two cans of authentic Scottish haggis from a colleague. Just in case the word “haggis” isn’t enough to tell you just how special this event was, let me review the ingredients list: lamb lungs, beef suet, and oatmeal. My husband and I have been bragging that we’d taste that haggis one of these days, but somehow, when we looked at that can, we never quite managed to live up to our bravado.

Last weekend, though, our cupboard was really bare. Basketball Girl suggested that maybe we should eat the haggis. Long pause. “Why not!” my husband said bravely, and armed himself with the can opener. For anyone who’s thinking about taking the plunge (method works for Spam as well), here’s a step-by-step guide to making a delicious haggis meal.

  1. Slide that baby out of the can. Don’t worry, it’s supposed to look like badly decayed dog food. Yum!

Mmm, smells delicious too!

2.  Warm it up in a frying pan. Don’t worry too much if it starts to smoke and burn to a crisp. That just adds depth to the blend of lung, fat, and oatmeal flavors.

3.  Add a few condiments — barbecue sauce, a pat of brie cheese, whatever. It’s really hard to improve on the native haggis flavor.

4. Enjoy! There’s nothing quite like a plate of good old haggis to get your day off to the right start.

End of the Affair

Farewell, Gingerbread Homeless Hut.  It was great while it lasted–really, we liked you a lot–but now that we’ve eaten you up, we don’t have much more use for you.

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