Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

The Joy of Peeling Spuds

As soon as I viewed the famous “potato peeling video,” I was ready to peel me some potatoes. Happily, my opportunity to peel boiled pots appeared a few days later in the form of making potato salad for the church bar-b-que. All Sunday School members who contributed potato salad used the same recipe for the sake of consistency.

Implementing the peeling trick, and trying out a new potato salad recipe was fun, especially since the potato salad turned out so good that I wanted to eat the whole bowl myself. And I needn’t have worried about the poppy seeds—they might just be the “secret” ingredient. The recipe is from a 1950s Austin Heritage cookbook.


4 medium potatoes
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 large white onion, chopped
2 stalks celery,chopped
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup sour cream

Steam or boil potatoes in peelings until tender. Peel and slice thinly. Sprinkle with vinegar while still warm. Let cool or refrigerate over night. Add other ingredients in order and toss lightly. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Serves 8.


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Cranberry Happening

A blizzard flurry of big, fat snow flakes was the perfect accompaniment to fresh, out-of-the oven cranberry nut bread. Now it’s all a lovely memory. Here’s the recipe so that you can create your own memories.

This recipe is of the pass-along type: from Aunt Margaret’s dear friend, Ann, to Grandmother Rachel to Aunt Margaret to me to you and . . . I barely grabbed the picture before it all disappeared.


2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
Juice of one orange with enough water to make 1 cup liquid
Grated rind of one orange (about two tablespoons)
2 tablespoons shortening, melted
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups coarsely chopped cranberries

Sift first 5 ingredients together into a large bowl. Add liquid and beaten egg. Blend well. Add chopped pecans and cranberries.

Bake in a greased loaf pan at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool in pan about 15 minutes before removing from pan. Wrap in foil or plastic wrap for 24 hours before cutting and serving.

Obviously, the bread was consumed straight from the oven. I’m sure that it would have been even better 24 hours later.

I reduced the sugar to 3/4 cup, and replaced 1 tablespoon of flour with 1 tablespoon of wheat germ.

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All the talk of eating squirrels, squab, possums, rabbits, and soft-shell turtles in a previous post reminded me that I’m thankful that those animals are not part of my diet. Here are some other food and food-related items for which I am thankful.

1. standard measurements in recipes—Although I get a kick out of reading old recipes, I’m thankful that I don’t have to estimate the amounts for ingredients, e.g., “butter size of walnut,” or “one tea cup of flour”

2. seedless raisins—Older cookie recipes called for “stoned raisins,” which are raisins with seeds removed. Seeing as how a raisin was a grape in it’s former life, I’m thankful that the tedious work of picking out two to four seeds from each raisin is not one of my prep chores.

3. cream of tartar—An acidic powder (a by product of winemaking) combined with baking soda, makes Snickerdoodles rise just right.

4. pastry blenders—When I first started making pie dough, I would “cut shortening into flour using two table knives until the particles were the size of small peas.” As soon as I discovered the efficient pastry blender, I ditched the knives.

5.cast iron skillets—They make the best cornbread with a crispy crust.

6.farmer’s markets—Locally grown vegetables taste better.

7.tabouli and hummus—My tastebuds would be happy if I ate these every day.

8.refrigeration—I’ve been thankful for electric refrigerators ever since Grandmother told me how Dad would go to town to get a block of ice for their “ice box.”

9.electric stoves—Although I sometimes like to do things the old-fashioned way, I’m thankful that I don’t have to deal with the fluctuating temperature of a wood stove.

10. frozen peas—Hannah refused to eat cooked peas as a toddler, but she loved them straight from the freezer. I’m thankful that I wasn’t coaxing her to eat peas prepared with the following recipe for Christmas dinner.

To Keep Green Peas Till Christmas

Take young peas, shell them, put them in a colander to drain. Then lay a cloth four or five times double on a table, then spread them on. Dry them very well, and have your bottles ready. Fill them, cover them with mutton suet fat when it is a little soft. Fill the necks almost to the top, cork them, tie a bladder and a leather over them and set them in a dry cool place.

From The First American Cookbook: American Cookery, 1796″ by Amelia Simmons.

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Bouncing Berries

Fresh Cranberry-Apricot Sauce
October means fresh cranberries are ushered into the produce section at the grocery store. Bags of Ocean Spray cranberries mean it’s time to make a batch of “Fresh Cranberry-Apricot Sauce.” Canned cranberry sauce was satisfactory, until I met up with a recipe that results in something delightful to eat before Thanksgiving and after Christmas, or for however long your stash of frozen, fresh cranberries lasts.

Good cranberries bounce. Rotten ones just sit where they are dropped. In order for cranberries to make it to the grocery store, they have to bounce over four-inch barriers multiple times. Those that can’t clear the hurdle are rejected. Cranberries are one of only three fruits considered to be native to America, and Cranberry Jello is the only flavor made with real fruit instead of artificial flavoring.

According to my penciled notes in my cookbook, I made the following recipe for the first time, Thanksgiving, 1991. Another note written by Hannah says, “Thanksgiving 2005 all by Hannah ‘cept chopping apricots.” I remember that she had fun listening to the distinctive popping of the cranberry skins splitting as they heated.

The sauce is also good on ice cream or stirred into plain yogurt, and it’s a nice contribution to a church pot luck. Just take the recipe along because someone will surely ask for it.


1 (12-ounce) package of fresh cranberries
8 ounces dried apricots, chopped
1 1/4 cups sugar*
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven; cook over medium heat, stirring contantly, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve sauce warm or cold with poultry or pork. Yield: 4 cups.

Mrs.Thomas Byrd
Nashville, Tennessee.

From Southern Living 1987 Annual Recipes, p. 243
*If anybody makes it using sugar substitute, I would like to know the measurements.

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Washing Fluid 001

Washing Fluid.

Two Table spoonful of coal oil, one table spoonful of Babbit’s Potash, two table spoonful of Salsoda, four gallons of water.

Directions for use—to the water add the last named ingredient with sufficient soap to lather; stir well, then add the other ingredient; stir & mix well, soak the clothes, rub soap on all the solid soiled spots, boil well stir while boiling take out in warm water & rinse well. G. W. Young.

I wonder if Grandpa George was the clothes washer for the family, or perhaps his job was to concoct the washing fluid. “Babbit’s Potash” is lye. Salsoda, or washing soda, was a common cleanser. I read that taxidermists immerse animal skulls in a solution of salsoda and boiling water to break down the meaty tissue and degrease the bones.

Between the lye, the salsoda, and the boiling water, I suppose the clothes got really clean. The whole process sounds like a lot of work.

I am the keeper of Grandma’s Bookcase and this is what I found.

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Ninnekah Summer

The summer of 1967 that Boyd and I spent in Ninnekah, Oklahoma, with Grandmother and Granddad was an educational one. Every evening we accompanied Granddad to feed the hogs. The only pig that I was familiar with before meeting Granddad’s pigs was the literary pig, Wilbur, in Charlotte’s Web. I loved Wilbur but I did not feel loving toward the live hogs. I was a little afraid of them. Unlike Wilbur, they were huge, gulped slop in an unmannerly way, and grunted ominously. Granddad cautioned me when my curiosity led me to observe them too closely. He was obviously fond and proud of his pigs because he was generous with their food and water, and was fluent in pig language. It was fun to hear Granddad holler “soo-ee, soo-ee, soo-ee!” as we approached their trough with heavy buckets of slop.

While Granddad taught us how to care for pigs that would one day become bacon and ham, Grandmother educated us about how to turn a live chicken into a fried chicken dinner. Boyd and I were the suprised, and yet interested, witnesses to the chicken losing its head, as described here. Grandmother wasted no time in hauling the bloody bird to the kitchen. We followed to see what would happen next.

Grandmother hung the chicken up by its feet to drain the blood. A little while later, she dunked it in a pot of boiling water. At that point, the nasty smell of scalded feathers prompted Boyd to skedaddle outdoors.

The scalded chicken was given to me to pluck. I was pleased that the large feathers came out by the handful. I informed Grandmother when I was finished with the task but she pointed out that the smaller pinfeathers needed to be pulled out too. Plucking pinfeathers was tedious work, and there seemed to be an endless supply of them. After what seemed a very long time, I turned the chicken over to Grandmother. I had lost interest in chicken of any kind, and went in search of Boyd. Mom told me that the next step that I missed would have been holding the chicken over a flame to singe off the fine hairs.

My interest in chicken revived by the time Grandmother called us to supper. Piled high on a platter, in all its hot, crispy glory, was the chicken. I don’t recall everything on the table but I remember a large bowl of mashed potatoes, a plate of sliced tomatoes from the garden, and a pitcher of sweet tea.

I remember that first bit of chicken. I also remember the second bite, and the third, because each mouthful held a fair amount of crisply fried pinfeathers. Half-heartedly, I finished the first piece, and selected another only to be disappointed by more pinfeathers. For the second time that day I had lost interest in chicken.

I watched Grandmother eat her chicken without giving a hint that she was eating pinfeathers. One of my aunts casually asked who helped with the chicken, and Grandmother merely nodded in my direction. No other comments were made.

For the remainder of the evening I pondered chicken—headless, bloody, scalded—and all the work required to bring a piece of fried chicken to the table. Later I learned that the trick to plucking pinfeathers is to work fast before the skin tightens up, making them almost impossible to remove. I am sure that Grandmother was aware that my plodding, laborious plucking would yield less than satisfactory results, and yet she allowed me to help anyway.

That summer Grandmother made all my back-to-school dresses, eight or ten of them. I had never started school with so many new dresses. Yes, I learned a lot during the summer that I spent in Ninnekah. I learned that Grandmother and Granddad loved me.

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Snack : )

During my last trip to the grocery store, I discovered Brown Sugar Cinnamon Ritz. While I am not a big Ritz cracker fan, I am always willing to try something new. Yummmm . . . these delicate crackers with a sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon make me happy.

Although a serving of five crackers has only two grams of sugar, they contain zero fiber. Oh, well, they taste too good to be healthy.

snack 012

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