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Posts Tagged ‘country cooking’

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It was the night before Christmas Eve and friends came over bearing the gift of life – homemade bread!

Flashback:

Our jolly friend who answers his phone with a hearty “Ho Ho Ho,” loves to bake.  In fact, according to his jolly wife, he went on a Baking Binge this holiday.

And he did.

I know this because they gave us two kinds of scones and some fancy little cheesecakes featuring raspberry tops.  Oh heavenly bliss!  They were delicious.  And all this was made by himself, Pete.

So good was Pete at baking delectable offerings that he became slightly conceited.   “I remember this special bread I had once at a wonderful Virginia Bed and Breakfast,” he said.  “It was the best bread I ever ate and I talked the chef into giving me the recipe.  If I can find all the exotic ingredients, I will make that specialty bread. I am determined to do this!”

And he did.

And it was the eve before Christmas Eve (is it called Christmas Eve-Eve?) and as I said, our friends arrived on this magical night bearing another gift – Pete’s magnificent experiment/obsession– homemade bread!

Can you guess which bread in the picture is Pete’s offering of the staff of life?

Flash Forward:

Hints

  • The bumpy loaf bread in the lower screen area is pumpkin bread made by Dor from the recipe of a favorite blogger, Cindy Knoke!  It is fabulously delicious.  Thanks Cindy!  I saved the recipe from one of your blog posts way back when!
  • The long lovely loaf at the top is a homemade gift from my friend, Peg.  It’s an almond bread I dream about all year.
  • Now look closely to the right of these two perfectly beautiful loaves.  You see those tiny brown things?

There was a lot of laughter this Christmas Eve-Eve over a loaf of bread that would not rise.  Nevertheless, I am supposed to taste it tomorrow morning.  “It might be o.k. with butter,” said Pete,  maybe a whole lot of butter.”

“Oh, and  I was going to cut the bottoms off, but you might want to do that too.”

Now I wonder if there will be dental bills involved as a result of experimentally chewing a rock hard little loaf!   Maybe coffee dunking would help.

I do admire Pete for trying however.  I would advise him to keep trying and trying again since “practice makes perfect,” but that could be self defeating if I have to taste all his future attempts.  Uh!  No, not unless I can find him a taster who never gets indigestion.

But Thank You Pete!  You did your best.

And even if your miniature loaves are just a tad inferior,

your real gift to us this Christmas Eve-Eve

is the gift of laughter,

and that my friend is the happiest gift of all.

Pete's Slow Rising Bread

Pete’s Slow Rising Bread

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Mandarin-Salad-Recipe-Pic

Here is a spectacular salad that always gets rave reviews!  I hope you like it as much as I do.

The basic recipe works for approximately six people.  Amounts are pretty much guesswork based on your own preferences, but follow the erratic instructions below for instant success!

Ingredients:

Fresh Romaine Lettuce and Spinach (You decide how much)

Can of Dill Green Beans OR Jar of Three Bean Salad (drained)

Slivered Almonds or Sunflower Seeds (for crunch)

One onion sliced in rounds

One can of Mandarin Oranges, drained

Some fresh dill (if you have it)

Ranch dressing

 

Combine the Romaine Lettuce and Spinach in a large bowl.

Gently mix in the Dill Green Beans or the jar of Three Bean Salad.

Sprinkle in the almonds or sunflower seeds – enough just to add some crunch.

Then on top of the salad arrange the sliced onion rounds and the

Mandarin Oranges.

Add some dill and good sized dollops of Ranch dressing here and there.

Serve in a pretty salad bowl and mix at the table.

 

P.S.  If you want to make it a more hearty salad, add chicken pieces!

I’ve seen this salad with a combination of mandarin oranges and strawberries too.

Optional:  Add celery chunks, walnuts, feta cheese, or serve with just spinach or just romaine.

It’s like the proverbial “little black dress.”  You can dress it up or down.

Happy Summer!

 

 

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Baked Fruit

Baked Fruit

My Dad used to proclaim, “This will stick to your ribs and put hair on your chest!” He called on those old sayings when he made something in the kitchen that was particularly hardy.

And I believed him about the hair thing until I discovered I grew up to be a girl.

Even so, when the weather turns icy and the birds puff up their feathers and look forlorn, I crave hardy stick-to-your-ribs stuff usually beginning with pork and accompanied by apples and cinnamon.

This is not a recipe for pork but for a complementary side dish.  It works for just about any hearty winter meal and may also be a perfectly fine dessert, makes a great leftover, and is ridiculously easy to prepare.  It is also guaranteed to impress the most discriminating guest.

Don’t you love the mouth watering scent of baking cinnamon?  Well, this combination of fruits and spices will sell your house if it is up for sale and tastes as good as it smells.  And it’s another Homeplace Recipe that’s easy-does-it, has very few ingredients, and takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. I make it over and over again because everybody loves it, especially in winter.

COUNTRY SPICED FRUIT

A HOMEPLACE RECIPE

1 – 16 oz. can apple pie filling

1 – 16 oz. can chunk pineapple (in own juice)

1 – 16 oz. can tart cherries

1 large can (or 2 – 16 oz. cans) sliced peaches 

Drain all but pie filling. 

Place all fruit in a baking dish with 1 tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp nutmeg. 

Sprinkle ½ cup of brown sugar on top.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Enjoy!

 

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Garden Salad - Wikipedia

Garden Salad – Wikipedia

Daily Prompt:  Those Dishes Won’t Do Themselves (Unfortunately)

What’s the household task you most dislike doing? 

Why do you think that is – is it the task itself, or something more?

I am an “I hate to cook-er.”  That means that in spite of being mysteriously regarded as a gourmet cook,  I definitely hate the whole roasting, toasting, broiling, baking experience.

Maybe I have been cooking too long.

But the task I hate the most about it all is making salads!

There are no shortcuts to making salads are there?   And we have one every night – every single night of our lives (except when we eat out of course).

What is it about making salads for decades that is so daunting?

It’s all the cutting up of the same old same old ingredients – you know – lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, ad infinitum.

Sometimes I just slice cucumbers and tomatoes but Bill treats them like a salad anyway and has that look like he thinks something may be missing – namely, lettuce peppers, onions and the ad infinitum stuff.

Tonight I made a huge salad with everything in it so we can have it again tomorrow.  Hurrah!  Nothing to cut up!

But tomorrow I will have cooked for three days in a row.

On the third day the meals from our kitchen deteriorate into not-so-tasty-less-than-delicious-repasts. (Not on purpose, honest!)

But on the third day when burnt things appear along with less than perfect salads, Bill “gets it” – the cue.

It’s time to go out!

Saturday we will be dining with friends at a local restaurant where someone else will be doing the cutting up.

Maybe I will try a Honeymoon Salad next at home.

Have you ever heard of a Honeymoon Salad?

It’s “Lettuce (Let Us) Alone!”

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Cooking together

Cooking together (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a lovely place just outside town offering delightful views and opportunities to explore a tree-shaded farm setting.  The owners are a charming couple who encourage folks to stay and enjoy fabulous luncheons prepared and served right on the premises.

The cost for lunching in that bucolic setting is only about $15 per person.   Who could resist?  So, one unforgettable summer my friend and I signed up for lunch.   “Let’s get away,” we said, “to enjoy the countryside and discover new tastes and textures in a meal prepared by the experts.”  Yes, I know this post is about summer and we are in winter now and the snow flakes are falling across my blog.  Can’t help it.  I’m in the mood to tell this exciting story!

And the menu was enticing.

FrittataRoasted Vegetable Frittata

Classic Homemade Dinner Rolls

Mediterranean Salad

peach-tartFrench Peach Tart

LET’S TAKE A COOKING CLASS TOO!

Yes, we signed up for lunch, but then we read the brochure a little further and discovered we might also attend a cooking class.  The class would occur an  hour or so prior to the luncheon.  “What fun!” we said.  “Let’s sign up for that too! We might learn something.”  The cost was just an additional $30 each.

It was a warm summer day and off we went to a country adventure in haute cuisine.  I had never attended a cooking class before but having seen a few like Julia Child on television, I expected we would be watching an expert chef ‘s fascinating demonstration.

THE GATHERING OF THE CHEFS

Upon arrival, we joined eight other would-be chefs in a very small kitchen.  Each of us was awarded an apron and given the freedom to choose knives from a stack on the table.   Even then, I was still blissfully ignorant of the real intent.  Next we were provided a recipe sheet to share and follow.   If anything in the recipes called for vegetables, we were told we could fetch them from the garden!

And then?

And then the leader of the class promptly left.

WHAAAT?

Yes, all of us eager cooks awaiting a demonstration were left to our own devices!  And you don’t need too many devices for peeling and chopping things (which is what was required in the recipes).

“X&%*x##!!!!!!   I can do this in my own kitchen,” I thought.  “Why am I peeling and chopping here too?”  My friend seemed to be enjoying herself though, chatting on with the neighboring laborers.

“Am I seeing things?” I asked myself.  “Is she thinking this chopping and peeling session is actually fun?

“O.K. – Relax.  Breathe. Follow her lead.  Enjoy.  Help is bound to come.”

About that time, the handle fell off my knife so I had to search through drawers and around people to find another.  Nothing else being available, I continued chopping with a handle-less knife.

YOU HAVE YOUR ORDERS!

And help did not come until all the chopping was over.  Then someone in charge assigned us to posts.

“You fry these – stand here.

Two people frying please!

You over there with the broken knife – beat the eggs and have ’em ready here.

You begin peeling the peaches.

And you are in charge of the rolls.”

And so, the cooking class droned on.  There was no air-conditioning so the small kitchen grew unbearably hot and I had to go outside to breathe.   I went in and out with my broken knife and wounded ego.  The eggs were beaten and ready though.  I do obey orders.

But finally, everything was cooked.  I was surprised that it all looked and smelled wonderful too.

SIGH – LUNCHEON IS SERVED!

O.K. – I’m ready for lunch!

Not yet?!!

Now what?

And you won’t believe this!

Us Reluctant Chefs were now THE WAIT STAFF!  We were expected to SERVE the eleven folks sitting blissfully under shady trees.  They were the Lucky Eleven who had only ordered lunch!   Mind you, they paid $15 each, whereas my friend and I paid $45 each for the privilege of:

– Working in a hot kitchen (which we could do at home)

– Harvesting the vegetables in the hot sun (which we could do at home or enlist husbands)

– Chopping and peeling things (which we could do at home)

–  Frying vegetables (which we could do at home)

– Serving ungrateful diners (which we could do at home)

– Finally sitting down to taste our own cooking (which we could do at home)

And by the time we did sit down to eat, our portions were cold!  Delicious I might add – but cold.

And after lunch I seem to recall we had to clear all the dishes too!  I could be wrong on this, but I’m sure I was blinded at the time by barely repressed rage.

I complained and babbled all the way home.  My friend, on the other hand, just snickered.  “I had a lovely time,” she said , “and I didn’t mind all that cooking and serving at all”.

DID I LEARN ANYTHING IN THE COOKING CLASS?

Well, I learned never to sign up for the cooking class again – only the luncheon!  It’s a far better buy!

I did also learn about SILPATS.  Ever hear of those rubbery sheets made in France?  They are fairly expensive (about $25 each), but wonderful if you are baking sticky things.  Nothing adheres to them and you can line cookie sheets and avoid a mess!  Then wash ‘em off and store for next time.

I suppose that might be worth $45 for lunch and the class, plus $25 for a Silpat.    What do you think?

silpat

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“Recipes are like rumors.  You never quite know where they originated”.  Believe it or not, that’s my own wise quote.

I acquired this special, healthy, kid-loving recipe for Fruit Pizza from my country friend, Donna, who is not even really from the country.  Like me, she is a transplant.  Well, at least I met her here in rural Virginia and who knows,  she may have received the recipe from a real, honest-to-goodness local.

DONNA’S CRESCENT ROLL FRUIT PIZZA

DESIGNED FOR KIDS OR YOUNG-AT-HEART GROWNUPS

(Get the kids to help)

2 Packages of Crescent Rolls. Press into a 15 x 11” pan or cookie sheet.

Bake in 350 degree oven until done.  Package will give approximate time.

Spread with cream cheese and begin to add the fruit in a pattern or design.

Place and press strawberries around the edge, then blueberries, peaches, mandarin oranges, watermelon, etc.

Create pizza slices!

Thanks Donna!  This is healthy cooking and a great family project!


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Ready to Eat “Go Away Stew”

Make this stew and you can go away for 5 hours and come home to tantalizing aromas from the kitchen and happy people around the dining room table.

Once assembled, you can go away.  That’s why I named it The Go Away Stew.  Brilliant huh?

In addition, Go Away Stew is a stew that’s different.

Yes, it’s a stew that’s different.

I am trying to explain this is a stew that’s different but for once, words fail me.  You will just have to try it.  You’ll like it.

GO AWAY STEW – A HOME PLACE COUNTRY RECIPE

Getting Ready

Spray roasting pan with a coating of oil to prevent sticking (not absolutely necessary).

Have available the following ingredients:

2 ½ pounds of stew meat

2 Cups peeled chunked potatoes

2 Cups chopped carrots

2 Cups chopped celery

2 Cups chopped onions

Parsley + 2 tsp salt + pepper + 1 tsp sugar

4 Cups V-8 juice (32 ounces)

5 TBs Tapioca

Now layer all the above ingredients.

Add V8 Last Step

Cover tightly with foil.

Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 hours.  And go away!

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It’s no secret that I dislike cooking.  I can fool some of the people some of the time however – especially if I have a recipe that has been tested and deemed superb.

If a recipe is a) above all, EASY, and b) consistently delicious and c) generates rave reviews, it makes it to my Gold Star Book.   Now here’s one with two stars!  I  personally intensely dislike meat loaf.  I have disliked it all my long life, that is until a country woman shared her intensely delicious, savory version. I am now a convert and no other recipe will ever suffice.

BARBECUED MEAT LOAF EXTRAORDINAIRE

A HOME PLACE COUNTRY RECIPE

1 ½ pounds ground beef

1 cup bread crumbs

1 onion, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 ½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce, divided

½ cup water

3 tablespoons vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Combine the first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl; add ½ can tomato sauce, mixing well.  Place mixture in a 10-x6-x2-inch baking dish, and shape into a loaf.  Combine remaining tomato sauce and remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and pour over loaf.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes or until done, basting often.  Yield: 8 servings.

Sometimes I add a few drops of hot sauce to the sauce for extra zip.

O.K., I know you have your own favorite version of meat loaf and it’s undoubtedly grand, but do try this recipe too.  And let me know what you think.  If you are as hooked as I am, I ask only one thing (well, two things) – name it Dor’s Meatloaf Extraordinaire and give it a gold star!

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Tis the season for succulent peaches and since we just came back with a few bushels, I’ve been cookin’ in my country kitchen.  There are two absolute favorite recipes for peach concoctions that make me a heroine in the family.  They are easy, and produce proud results.  We had some peach pound cake for dessert this evening and Bill actually said, “You’re a good cook!”  First time he ever said THAT!  It’s all in the recipes of course and my grim concentration and determination.

PEACH POUND CAKE

  • 1 Cup Butter,
  • 2 Cups Sugar,
  •  6 Eggs,
  • 1 tsp Almond Extract,
  •  1 tsp Vanilla,
  • 3 Cups Flour,
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda,
  • 1/4 tsp Salt,
  • 1/2 Cup Sour Cream,
  • 3 Cups Diced Peaches (fresh or thawed & drained if frozen),
  • Confectionery Sugar.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 10″ fluted tube pan. Cream butter and sugar in large bowl.  When light and fluffy, add eggs (one at a time), beating each time.  Stir in almond and vanilla extracts.  In separate bowl, combine flour, soda and salt.  Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream to creamed butter mixture.  Fold in peaches.  Don’t over stir.  Spoon into pan.  Bake 55 to 65 minutes until a knife in center comes out clean.  Cool 15 minutes before inverting onto plate.  Dust with Confectionery Sugar.

PEACH COBBLER

  • 1 stick of butter,
  • 1 cup sugar
  •  1 cup flour,
  • 3 tsp baking powder,
  • pinch of salt,
  • 1 cup milk,
  • 4 cups sliced peaches,
  • cinnamon

Melt  stick of butter in a 2 Quart baking dish. In separate bowl, combine  flour with baking powder and  pinch of salt.  Add  sugar and milk and mix together.  Pour batter on top of melted butter in baking dish; do not stir!  Pour 4 cups sliced peaches on top.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or at 350 degrees for one hour.

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My friend just sent me a video on how to shuck corn like a pro, or like I know what I’m doing.  This method also cooks corn BEFORE you shuck it!  One ear takes 4 minutes.  Sound impossible?  I’ve tried this and guess what?  It WORKS! No muss, no fuss, and easy-does-it!

Check out this video:   shuckcorn

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