Tag Archives: food

Yellow Melon from Brazil is Delicious and More Widely Available

Trying to wean yourself from sweets to fruit that is good for you goes better when you allow yourself a special fruit.  This week I discovered a Yellow Melon from Brazil.  The packaging was enticing.  It was in a net closed on either end  with a  material handle affixed for easy transport.

These almost white meat melons have been available in the US since about 2008.  The company that grows and distributes them has been cleared for fruit flies.

With an oval shape but with a size approximating that of a cantaloupe, these will produce 2 ample dishes of melon balls.  The taste is mild and sweet. The texture is smoother than that of a honeydew.  Treat yourself.

Here is a website that will allow you to keep up with produce world-wide:

http://www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=30695

Traditional Lamb Cake Recipe from Griswold Vintage Mold Insert

Now that Easter is not really so far off as we would imagine, if you remember lamb cakes from your childhood or are fortunate to have someone or a bakery make one now, you are very fortunate but you can easily learn to prepare one  yourself.  All you will need is a lamb cake mold  of your choice – new or used or antique.One famous mold is the Griswold 866 (no longer manufactured).  Ebay is a good source for the vintage Griswold mold manufactured by an Erie, PA company that is now defunct.  There is one for sale today for $149 or best offer and another at auction starting at $55.  You need to shop around.  Go to this page to learn more about the Griswold  molds and to know the ones from their line that are best.

NOTE:  You do not have to use the Griswold mold or any other cast iron mold.  Heavy aluminum is OK and good success is being experienced by people using the  lighter aluminum molds.  That gives you a range of prices and sources for molds.

Here are photos of my Griswold mold that I bought on eBay a few years ago, still in its original box.

The mold comes in two parts. The two parts are NOT attached

The back piece below has vent holes (see the one in the head).

There was an insert that came with this mold that had the recipe for the lamb cake.  These inserts, (like the one below) are sold on eBay but the internet has several sources for just the recipe.

Here is the classic recipe that came with the mold in an insert like the one pictured above in the purple frame.  This is from a wonderful site found here. It includes the recipe for the icing.  I can confirm as a former librarian that the text at this site and in my insert are identical.

The key to a successful lamb cake is a carefully seasoned mold.

Cast-iron baking molds must be seasoned before being used for the first time, and re-seasoned as necessary. This helps seal the pores of the metal to prevent sticking. Here is a larger picture of a well-seasoned cast-iron lamb mold.

  1. To season a brand-new cast-iron mold or pan, heat oven to 300 degrees. Thoroughly wash the cast-iron in hot, soapy water. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Apply a liberal coat of solid vegetable shortening to every nook and cranny. Place on a baking sheet, open side up, and heat 1 hour. Cool, pour off any remaining shortening, and wipe clean with a paper towel. DO NOT WASH!
  2. Before pouring in batter, using a pastry brush, apply solid vegetable shortening to every crevice and then flour. Tap out any excess flour. The mold is now ready to be filled. After unmolding the finished product, don’t wash, just wipe the interior with a paper towel and the exterior with a damp cloth.
  3. On subsequent uses of the mold, even though it has been seasoned, before pouring in the batter, the mold must re-greased and heated for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and pour off any accumulated shortening, cool, and re-grease and flour before pouring in the batter. See the instructions for Easter Lamb Cake recipe.
  4. To reseason a mold or pan that is starting to stick, repeat step 1.
  5. To reseason a rusty, old cast-iron mold, heat the oven to 275 degrees. Clean the pan very well, making sure to scrub off any dried/baked on food. Dry it thoroughly and coat liberally with solid vegetable shortening. Bake the pan in the oven for at least 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and pour out the excess shortening. Then put the pan back in the oven for at least 2 more hours. Repeat this process at least twice, more if the pan was really rusty.
  6. DON’T DO THIS:
    • Don’t stack cast-iron molds or pans on top of each other. They will get scratched and lose their stick-free properties.
    • To avoid condensation and, therefore, rust, don’t store cast-iron molds or pans with their lids on.

Even if you never make or eat one of these cakes, the history of holiday baking molds is fascinating.

How To Shell Brazil Nuts

I always remember having a big bowl full of mixed nuts on our table during the holidays, the nut cracker & pick at the ready. I also remember having a hard time getting all the meat out of those tough shelled Brazil nuts.

While looking through my Grandmother’s recipe box this morning, I found this little tip she had jotted down on how to easily shell Brazil nuts.

How to shell Brazil nuts

  • Place the nuts in a pan and cover with cold water.
  • Bring to a boil and boil 3 minutes.
  • Drain.
  • Cover with cold water and let stand 1 minute.
  • Drain and crack.

posted by Mountain Republic

Eccles Cakes also Known as Coventry Godcakes and etc.

Traditions at Christmas in England  -

My maternal Great Grandmother was from Coventry, England in the Midlands.  Like any other region, they had their specialties.  Eccles cakes are a speciality from this region.  This recipe has been taken from a remarkable cookbook described under the tab “Browse Books.”

Good Things in England
Florence White
Jonathan Cape, 1932 (current edition published by Persephone Books

From the cookbook:

Eccles cakes, Banbury cakes, Coventry Godcakes, Hawkshead cake and Chorley cakes all belong to the same class. They consist of pastry, short or puff as the case may be, round in the case of Eccles and Chorley, which are much about the same size, and in the case of the Hawkshead cake which is as large as a plate; but at Coventry taking the form of an isosceles triangle, and at Banbury made in the oval shape of a rather wide shuttle.

Each and all are filled with a special mixture partaking of the character of the mincemeat we put in pies at Christmas time.

Here is a recipe for Eccles cakes. These have been made for the Eccles “wakes” from time immemorial. A pretty story is told about these cakes. It is said Mrs Raffald gave her own recipe as a wedding present to a servant girl who had served her well and was going to live at Eccles, and that the girl made and sold the cake so successfully that she made a fortune.

Bradburn’s, Eccles, today is advertised as “The only Old Original Eccles Cake Shop. Never removed. On the site of these Premises Eccles Cakes were first made. Rebuilt 1835.” [They are at any rate about the best I have tasted, and those sold at the old cottage opposite Eccles Cross where William Deacon's Bank now stands were made and baked at Bradburn's. The cottage had no ovens].

Recipe: Lancashire, 1904

Some short pastry
For the filling:
¼lb currants
1oz finely chopped peel
½ teaspoonful allspice and nutmeg
2oz sugar
1oz butter

Time: to heat and cool mixture about 20 to 30 minutes; to bake cakes 10 to 15 minutes in a hot oven.

1. Put all the ingredients for the mixture into a pan and heat for a few minutes, then turn into a basin to cool.

2. Roll out short pastry (this is nicest if made of lard) to about ¼ inch thickness.

3. Cut into rounds.

4. Place a good tablespoon of the mixture on each round.

5. Gather up the edges, turn over and press with rolling-pin into flat cake; make a hole in the centre of the top crust.

6. Place on baking sheet 10 to 15 minutes in a hot oven.

7. Sprinkle with castor sugar when cakes are cooked.

• These extracts are taken from Good Things in England by Florence White (Persephone, £10)

Best Recipe for Crepes – Laura Seacord Cookbook, Canada

I am one fortunate lady. I grew up in a suburb of Rochester, NY. Rochester was the  home of Fanny Farmer Candies.  In my typical middle-class  neighborhood filled with kids, among our neighbors was a Canadian family. They were there because the father was president of Fanny Farmer Candies.

Vintage Fanny Farmer Large Butter Cream Easter Egg Box

Later the family would return to Canada where our neighbor became head of Laura Secord.  Fanny Farmer is pretty well reduced in size to a few stores throughout the US and  has had many owners over the years. But for  you who always loved Fanny Farmer – including those large butter cream Easter Eggs – the dream lives.  Laura Secord has them. They are boxed differently but they are still there!  Some stores will mail to the US, others will not. It is their corporate policy not to do so.  Check their website for store locations and you may find one near you.

One of the projects our neighbor had was coming out with the first Canadian cook book the Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book (1966) and I have a copy (1973). It periodically comes back into print but is available from used and rare book dealers.  I was foraging for a recipe that would come close to the crepes a Dutch woman used to make for me when I picked up the Laura Secord Cook Book.  I tried a recipe I found there and was in heaven. Look in the index under “pancakes” because “crepe” means pancake – not the fluffy American but their wafer-thin French cousins.  You cannot surpass the consistency of a crepe.

Laura Secord French Pancakes (crepes)

Preheat heavy 6″ fry pan and brush with melted butter (I use olive oil because it doesn’t smoke).

Sift or blend together:

1 Cup all-purpose flour.
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat together with a rotary beater

3 eggs
2 cups milk

Cover and chill for one hour.

Pour batter onto preheated pan using about 2 tablespoons batter for each pancake (cook singly).  Tip the pan to coat with a thin layer. Turn when brown to brown other side.

Roll up and serve hot with butter, maple syrup or molasses (the old Canadian way).

Mom Jones’ Cookies

I remember my Mom made these cookies often when I was a kid.  This recipe was from my Grandmother & dated April 1955. I don’t know who Mom Jones’ was or where the recipe originally came from, but I do know these cookies sure are good!

This is definitely one of my favorite cookie recipes and it makes a good, large batch. I’ve baked these cookies for soldiers that I support in Afghanistan several times. The troops have always liked them, since I’ve heard the hard ones make fine projectiles to use on the Taliban!

I’ve made these many times for our family gatherings as well & they always seem to disappear fast. I remember my Mom used coconut more often than raisins, but I like them both ways. If you’re so inclined, you can add both raisins & coconut or cut the fruit out all together. The raisins tend to caramelize a bit in the oven and with the brown sugar, the cookies have a nice chewy texture.

So they don’t get too hard, I only like to bake them about 10 minutes or so. Let them “set” on the cookie sheet for two minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.

This recipe can easily be cut in half. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup shredded coconut or raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups quick oatmeal

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream shortening & sugars together. Mix well.

Beat in eggs.

Add flour, sifted together with baking powder, baking soda & salt.

Blend in oatmeal, nuts, vanilla & raisins or coconut. Dough will be very stiff.

Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 8 – 9 dozen cookies, depending on size.

posted by Mountain Republic                            recipe from Amy Chenevert

Fresh Blackberry Cobbler

Where I live in the mountains of California, blackberries are like an invasive weed. Many folks spend a good portion of time each year trying to eradicate the persistent plant from their property, fighting a good battle, but eventually losing the war.

All that’s mostly forgotten around this time of year, when the blackberries are ready to harvest. Head out into the forest & you’ll find a healthy patch of blackberries growing alongside just about any dirt road or near any damp, shady spot like a creek. Berry patches cover the entrances to many old mines around here.

We like to go hiking along old logging roads. Blackberries grow abundantly along the edges of these now seldom used roads. On our return trip, we’ll pick a gallon of berries to take home. Once home, we wash & drain the berries well. What we don’t use for that night’s cobbler, we will freeze and use later.

The following is my Grandmother’s recipe for Fresh Blackberry Cobbler:

Ingredients & directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a saucepan, add:

  • 3 cup fresh or fresh frozen blackberries (washed & drained)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup water

Bring to a boil for about a minute or until it starts to thicken a bit, stirring constantly. Pour the hot berry mixture into a 1 – 1/2 quart baking dish. Top with bits of butter. Dust with cinnamon is desired.

Measure & sift together:

  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 – 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Add to flour mixture:

  • 3 tbsp. soft shortening

(Mix in shortening with a pastry knife or fork until the mixture has the appearance & consistency  of “meal”)

Add to flour mixture & stir until mixed:

  • 1/2 cup milk

Drop spoonfuls of the topping mixture on top of the hot berries until covered.

Bake until golden brown, about 25 – 30 minutes. Serve warm, with cream if desired.

posted by Mountain Republic                                                    recipe by Amy Chenevert

In Praise of Pressure Cooking

Pressure cookers have been used for centuries around the world and are coming back into use. Many use pressure cookers for canning but my grandparents used them for cooking.  A chuck roast made in a pressure cooker just melts in your mouth.  Sear/brown the meat in butter or olive oil in the bottom of the cooker, add onion, bay leaf and carrot, put on the lid and turn up the heat. Why a pressure cooker?

Unlike other gadgets which rise in popularity due to changing technology, pressure cookers and pressure cooker recipes are becoming highly pertinent in the 21st century due to the changing times. That’s because the features that originally made pressure cookers one of the handiest cooking tools are more important now than ever. pressure cookers save energy, save time and open the doors to thousands of healthy, flavorful pressure cooker recipes that retain the nutritious vitamins and minerals in their all-natural ingredients. [Pressure Cooker Recipes]

What is a pressure cooker? How does it work?  There is an excellent Wikipedia article on that here.

Here is an assemblage  of models available at Macy’s and Amazon.com. They start at Amazon at $25.00.

Presto 02160 Pressure Cooker, Stainless Steel Electric 

Fagor "Elite" Pressure Cooker, 6 Qt.  

Reg. $90.00
Sale $69.99
AVAILABLE IN-STORE
Fagor "Elite" Pressure Cooker Set  

Reg. $150.00
Sale $119.99
AVAILABLE IN-STORE
Fagor Commercial Stainless Steel 4-Piece Multi Steamer/Cooker Set, 8 Qt.  

$69.99
The following is from Wikipedia:

Pressure cookers are generally made from aluminium or stainless steel. The former may be stamped and buffed or anodized, but this metal is unsuitable for the dishwasher. Higher quality stainless steel pressure cookers are made with heavy, three-ply, or copper-clad bottom (heat spreader) for uniform heating, since stainless steel has lower thermal conductivity. Most modern units are dishwasher safe, although some manufacturers may recommend washing by hand.

A gasket or sealing ring forms a gas-tight seal which does not allow air or steam to escape between the pot and the lid; normally, the only way the steam can escape is through a regulator on the lid when the pressure has built up. In case the regulator is blocked, a safety valve is provided as a backup escape route for steam. The simplest safety valve is a loose-fitting rubber plug in the lid, held in place by steam pressure. If the pressure exceeds design limits, the plug pops out of its seat.

To seal the gasket, some pressure cookers have a lid lock with flanges, similar to a bayonet-style lens mount, that works by placing the lid on the pot and twisting it about 30° to lock it in place. Contemporary designs of this style of cooker also have a pressure-activated interlock mechanism that prevents the lid from being removed while the cooker is pressurized.[

Safety features

Pressure cookers have a reputation as a dangerous method of cooking with the risk of explosion. Early pressure cookers equipped with only a primary safety valve were at risk of explosion if poorly maintained, allowing food residues to contaminate the release valve. Modern pressure cookers typically have two or three independent safety valves, as well as some additional safety features, such as an interlock to prevent opening the lid while internal pressure exceeds atmospheric pressure. However there is still a risk of explosion, especially if cookers are not thoroughly and regularly maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

The primary safety valve or regulator usually takes the form of a weighted stopper, commonly called “the rocker,” or “vent weight”. This weighted stopper is lifted by the steam pressure, allowing excess pressure to be relieved. There is a backup pressure release mechanism that may employ any of several different techniques to release pressure quickly if the primary pressure release mechanism fails (for example, if food jams the steam discharge path). One such method is in the form of a hole in the lid blocked by a plug of low melting point alloy; another is a rubber grommet with a metal insert at the center. At a sufficiently high pressure, the grommet will distort and the insert will blow out of its mounting hole, relieving the pressure. If the pressure gets still higher, the grommet itself will blow out. A common safety feature is the design of the gasket, which expands and releases excess pressure downward between the lid and the pot.

 

Holiday Cranberry Relish Recipe

Ever since I was a little kid (and that was a while back), we had always eaten canned cranberries with our holiday meals. I remember always looking forward to eating that jello-like substance with my annual turkey dinner.

But over the years, my taste for that cranberry gel seems to have diminished. And lately, my wife & I have enjoyed cooking several birds throughout the year. We cook (or sometimes smoke) the bird, have a nice meal & then freeze the rest for turkey sandwiches.

Can-berry in it's not so natural state.

A few years ago, I ran across this recipe for homemade Holiday Cranberry Relish. It’s supposed to be from a chef in San Francisco and it is absolutely delicious! It makes me want to cook more turkey so I can make more of this relish! It’s so good, I find myself eating it all by itself! And it’s really easy to make. This relish is now a regular part our holiday meals. If you enjoy this recipe, you may want to freeze a bag or two of cranberries for use later in the year.

Holiday Cranberry Relish in it's natural state. Just a bit more appealing.

Cranberry Relish:

  • 2 cups washed raw cranberries
  • 2 skinned and cored tart apples
  • 1 large, whole (peel ON) seedless orange, cut into sections
  • 1 to 2 cups granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you want your relish to be)

This recipe calls for the use of an old fashioned hand turn grinder. If you don’t have a grinder, you can use a food processor instead.

Make sure to cut the orange and apples into small chunks before chopping. Use short pulses when using the food processor or your relish will turn out mushy. After chopping the orange, apples & cranberries, pick out any oversize chunks for re-chopping.

Add sugar to taste. I like my relish a little tart, so I use about one and a half cups of sugar. After adding the sugar, make sure to let the relish stand at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour to let the sugar dissolve.

This relish keeps in the fridge for about a week and also freezes well. It’s really great on turkey sandwiches!!

Source: Cranberry Relish Recipe

posted by Mountain Republic