A Day In The Life


Horn of the Moon Cookbook
October 18, 2007, 6:32 pm
Filed under: Food, Travel

Although I am not a vegetarian, one of my favorite and most used cookbooks is “The Horn of the Moon Cookbook” written by Ginny Callan.  The book is full of the delicious offerings Callan served at her Horn of the Moon Cafe in Montpelier, Vermont.  I always meant to eat at the Horn of the Moon when vacationing in Vermont, but I never did.  Callan sold the Horn of the Moon Cafe  in 1990, however she is still writing cookbooks.

I don’t know about you, but I can make a meal out of a potato.  I am constantly experimenting with new toppings for baked potatoes.  I also try many different ingredients for potato casseroles, mashed potatoes and stuffed potatoes.  However, one of my very favorite recipes for baked stuffed potatoes is not an original.   It is found on page 176 in the “Horn of the Moon Cookbook”. 

Baked Stuffed Potatoes

4 medium to large baking potatoes
1 cup chopped broccoli, stems and florets
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup sliced and slightly chopped mushrooms
6 scallions, chopped
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Paprika

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake potatoes on cookie sheet until tender when pierced with a fork (approximately 1 to 1 1/4 hours).

In a 10-inch fry pan saute’ the broccoli in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. When it just begins to get tender, add mushrooms and saute’ until lightly done. Drain if needed.

Cut the top off each potato so that the insides can easily be scooped out, cutting off just the skin layer. While holding potato with pot holder, carefully scoop out insides and put into medium-sized bowl. Mash with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees. Add scallions, sauteed vegetables, sour cream, cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper to mashed potatoes and mix well. Fill potato shells with this mixture. Sprinkle top of each potato with paprika. Yes, they will be overflowing with filling and delicious. Bake 15 minutes more and serve.

This is just one of many yummy and easy-to-prepare recipes from the “Horn of the Moon Cookbook”.  The book contains an array of recipes including breakfast dishes, soups, salads, simple meals, main courses, and desserts.  There are some really good vegetarian Mexican recipes and some excellent crepes.  The Avocado Cheese Crepes are yummy!  The desserts section includes pies, cakes, brownies, strudels, crisps and cookies. 

Advertisements


Mmmmm…Mmmmm Good
September 23, 2007, 6:39 pm
Filed under: Food

I love to cook so there was no way I could narrow our Fun Monday assignment to just one favorite recipe.  In fact, I had a hard time choosing only two recipes.  My choices are a pasta dish that is a personal favorite and a dessert that I am constantly requested to bring to church and school potlucks and family dinners.  Sorry there are no pictures, but….all together now…..I don’t have a digital camera!! 

Spaghetti Carbonara

One 16-oz. package spaghetti
Eight slices of bacon
One pound pork sausage or one pound sweet Italian sausage
Three cloves garlic, minced
Three Tablespoons minced parsley
Three tomatoes, peeled and chopped or one 16-oz. can tomatoes, drained
Two eggs, slightly beaten
Three-fourths cup grated Parmesan cheese
One-half cup cream
Pepper, ground nutmeg and basil to taste

Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Crumble and set aside. Drain fat from skillet.
Add sausage, garlic, and parsley to skillet and cook until sausage is done. (If using Italian sausage links, break the links into bite-size pieces before cooking.)
Stir tomatoes and reserved bacon crumbles into sausage mixture.
Mix sausage mixture with spaghetti.
Quickly scramble eggs then mix eggs, cream and remaining ingredients to spaghetti mixture. Toss lightly.

I serve this dish with a tossed garden salad and warm, crusty Italian bread.  

Lemon Lush

Three-fourths cup butter, softened
One and one-half cups flour
One-half cup pecans, chopped
Eight ounce package of cream cheese
Two 8-ounce containers of whipped topping
One cup powdered sugar
Three 3-oz. packages instant lemon pudding
Four and one-half cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together butter, flour and pecans. Spread this mixture on bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan.
Bake for exactly 10 minutes. (It won’t be very brown, but that’s a good thing.)
Allow crust to cool.
Cream together cream cheese, powdered sugar and one container of the whipped topping. Spread this mixture over the cooled crust.
Mix the lemon pudding and the milk. Pour this mixture on top of the cream cheese layer.
After the pudding sets, spread the other container of whipped topping on top of the lemon layer.

I sprinkle another half cup of chopped pecans on top of the finished dessert.  

Check out The Food Snob for more recipes!!!



Why Mine Is Better
September 2, 2007, 6:30 pm
Filed under: Food

On a recent post about my Granny W.’s delicious cooking,  Karmyn left this comment: “My daughter informed me tonight that ‘Daddy and Grandma make better rice than you.'”  This comment reminded me of my nieces who practically from the time they’ve been able to put together a coherent sentence have said my macaroni and cheese is superior to either their Mom’s or their Grandma’s macaroni and cheese.  My nieces absolutely love my mac ‘n cheese.  They request it for every meal they eat at my house. 

I’m not sure why my nieces love my macaroni and cheese so much.  I can guarantee you that my mom, my sister and I all begin cooking our mac ‘n cheese in the same manner.  We open a box.

mac_and_cheesekraftbox.jpg

My mom used to be very active in Girl Scouts.   At one point, she held an administrative position with the area council.   My sister was in junior high school at the time.  I was living and working in Virginia.  My  brother was in college.  So when my mom went on a Girl Scout leadership junket to Portland, Oregon, my sister and Dad were left to their own devices in Arkansas.  One night my sister decided to make macaroni and cheese for supper.  She read the directions carefully, opened the box and began to put together the meal.  She only made one minor error.  She forgot to drain the pasta before adding the milk, butter and cheese packet.  Needless to say, she ended up with a watery macaroni and cheese soup-type dish.  My sister was embarrassed with her cooking results, but Dad ate a large helping and even asked for seconds.  

I know my sister’s macaroni and cheese has improved.  As an adult and mother, she can put together a macaroni and cheese dinner with ease.  So can our mom.  So what is it that makes my nieces think my mac ‘n cheese tastes better? 

mac_cheese_110206_300.jpg

The only difference in my macaroni and cheese that I am aware of is that I use skim milk.  Because skim milk is not as rich and tasty as regular milk, I add extra butter.  I do not use any type of extra seasonings, not even salt.  These differences might be the entire reason my nieces think my mac ‘n cheese is better.  On the other hand, it might just be because I am their aunt.  They don’t get to eat at my house as much as they do at home or at Grandma’s house.  

Another factor might also enter into play.  When I cook for my nieces, I usually set the table with care using linen placemats and napkins, a full complement of utensils whether we need them or not, and I serve their milk or juice in wine goblets.  I have candles burning brightly in the center of the table and sometimes a bouquet of fresh flowers add to the dining atmosphere.  My nieces think all these acoutrements are quite fancy.  They absolutely love drinking from the wine goblets.  For my part, I have all this ‘stuff’ so I might as well use it, especially if, as I suspect, it makes my macaroni and cheese taste the best.



The Most Important Ingredient
August 23, 2007, 8:17 pm
Filed under: Food, Life in the South

My Granny W. was a great cook.  I remember so many meals eaten around her big kitchen table.  We used to gather there on Sunday after church for the noon meal and, of course, holidays were always celebrated with feasts fit for kings.  Unfortunately, Granny didn’t write many of her recipes down primarily because she was always changing her ingredients.  She often changed things in an effort to improve the taste, but she also simply cooked with what she had on hand substituting a new seasoning for something she didn’t have in her pantry at the time.  And Granny just wasn’t keen on sharing her culinary secrets.  She enjoyed her status as the supreme cook in the family and she loved listening to people trying to figure out what exactly she had added to this food or that to make it taste so good. 

Nowadays when the family gets together for a meal, it is usually served at my mom’s house.  All the family members generally pitch in and bring several dishes making a giant smorgasbord for sampling.  When Granny was alive, she did all the cooking.  She actually turned down offers for help with the meal.  Mom remembers when Granny did all her cooking with a wood stove.  Can you imagine?!!  I can’t remember the wood stove, but I do remember Granny making her own butter and straining the cream from the top of the warm milk that Grandpa brought in fresh from the cow.  I can also remember the absolute perfect taste of that freshly churned butter smeared on bread still warm from the oven.  It was like eating a little piece of heaven. 

I learned to love cooking by watching Granny W. at work in the kitchen.  I have a cousin who also ‘studied’ at Granny’s side.  My cousin and I spend a lot of time trying to replicate Granny’s specialties.  In our separate kitchens, we add a pinch of this and stop adding a cup of that trying to find that perfect blend of ingredients based solely on our memories of Granny’s delicious dishes.  We bring our finished products to the family gatherings and wait expectantly as our kin folks dig in and devour the food we’ve prepared.  “That tastes just like Granny’s…..” is the phrase that is magic to our ears.  My cousin has perfected Granny’s coleslaw recipe and I can whip out a pumpkin pie that puts everyone right back in Granny’s kitchen.  The one recipe that still eludes us is Granny’s banana cake.  Try as we might, neither of us can figure out exactly what Granny did to make her banana cake one of the most requested desserts in the county.  

One of the last meals Granny cooked for me was turnip greens and cornbread.  That’s so Southern it’s almost a cliche’, but just thinking about Granny’s greens and cornbread makes my mouth water.  The turnip greens were always fresh from the garden and she cooked them with pork fatback and a generous helping of sugar.  I can’t even begin to tell you what all she put in her cornbread, but she baked it in an iron skillet and I believe that had a lot to do with how good it tasted. 

Granny gave me her one cookbook several years before she died.  The copyright date in it is 1938.  The book is one of my most treasured possessions and it does contain many of the recipes that she used, but the thing is, Granny used those written recipes as a starting point from which she added, subtracted or substituted at will.  Often times I’ve carefully measured and stirred following recipes from the cookbook, only to create something that doesn’t taste like Granny’s cooking at all.  Through all my trial and error, I’ve discovered something very important and I’m sure my cousin who loves to cook would agree with me.  The most important ingredient in Granny’s cooking was love and there simply isn’t a substitute for that.



Sugar and Spice
August 12, 2007, 8:33 pm
Filed under: Family, Food

I am truly fond of a piece of pumpkin pie with the perfect dollop of whipped cream.

pumpkin_pie.jpg

And, oh my, peaches, peaches, peaches……I like them fresh, in a cobbler, in a pie, in a cake, peach ice cream….I truly do like peaches!

peaches.jpg

But my favorite treat….the absolute best one of all, is being with my nieces and watching them grow from babies, to little girls, to the young ladies they are today.

meandgirls.jpg

After all, sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of!

Visit Give It A Try  for more treats!!



Ratatouille
August 1, 2007, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Food

200px-ratatouilleposter2.jpg 

I returned this afternoon from another music workshop, this time in Hot Springs.  My friend and fellow music teacher, Susan, and I were looking forward to seeing Hairspray last night after all our meetings were concluded.  Unfortunately, the movie was sold out so we made a quick decision to see Ratatouille instead.  We loved it!  Just a cute story about a little rat who has finer culinary tastes than the rest of his garbage loving clan.  For those of you who can’t quite stomach the thought of a rat in the kitchen, let me assure you that Remy always washed his little rat hands before cooking. 

I’m not a gourmet cook by any means, but I have actually made a ratatouille.    I love vegetables and basically, that is what ratatouille is….a vegetable stew.  I served it with grilled Italian sausages and a crusty loaf of bread.  Delish! 

Ratatouille

2 cups olive oil
4 small eggplants, about 4 pounds in all, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pounds white onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
7 medium-size zucchini, washed, trimmed, quartered length-wise and cut into 2-inch strips
2 medium-size sweet red peppers, stemmed, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 medium-size green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 cans ( 16 ounces each) Italian peeled plum tomatoes, drained
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Line a large roasting pan with foil and pour in 1 cup of the olive oil. Add the eggplant, sprinkle it with the salt, and toss well. Cover pan tightly with foil and bake for 35-minutes, until eggplant is done but not mushy. Uncover and set aside.
3. In a large skillet or in 2 smaller skillets, heat remaining oil. Saute’ onions, zucchini, red and green peppers and garlic over medium heat until wilted and lightly colored, about 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, dill, basil, oregano and black pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add eggplant mixture and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning. Serve hot or at room temperature.
12 portions

This recipe is from The Silver Palate Cookbook.