Lemon Sponge Cake

A nice & light Lemon Sponge Cake from one of my Grandmother’s handwritten recipes. This one really couldn’t be any quicker or any easier.  Here we go:

Ingredients and Preparation:

  • 1 package Duncan Hines “Lemon Supreme” Cake Mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 package Jello Instant Lemon Pudding Mix
  • 4 eggs

Disregard directions on the cake mix box. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat well with electric mixer. Pour mixture into well greased tube pan.

Bake 55 minutes at 350°. Let cool. Remove from pan to finish cooling.

posted by Mountain Republic                                        recipe by Ruth Hagen

Over 60 Different Uses For Baking Soda

Our Grandmothers had literally hundreds of different ways to use baking soda in and around the home. Here are just a few of it’s many uses:


1. To make your own baking powder, stir and sift together 2 parts of Cream of Tartar to 1 part baking soda and 1 part cornstarch.

2. Be sure to keep an extra box of baking soda by your stove in case of grease or electrical fire. Scatter the powder by the handful to safely put it out.

3. Keep a container of baking soda in your garage as well as in your car to put out a fire. It won’t damage anything it touches.

4. Baking soda will also put out fires in clothing, fuel, wood, upholstery and rugs.

5. Clean vegetables and fruit with baking soda. Sprinkle in water, soak and rise the produce.

6. Wash garbage cans with baking soda.

7. Soak and wash diapers with baking soda.

8. Oil and grease — stained clothing washes out better with baking soda added to the washing water.

9. Clean your fridge and freezer with dry baking soda sprinkled on a damp cloth. rinse with clear water.

10. Deodorize your fridge and freezer by putting in an open container of baking soda to absorb odors. Stir and turn over the baking soda from time to time. Replace every 2 months.

11. Soda absorbs kitty litter odors. Cover the bottom of the kitty box with 1 part baking soda; then add a layer of three parts kitty litter on top.

12. Always add 1/2-cup baking soda to your washing machine load.

13. Clean combs and brushes in a baking soda solution.

14. Wash food and drink containers with baking soda and water.

15. Wash marble-topped furniture with a solution of 3-tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. Let stand awhile, then rinse.

16. Clean Formica counter tops with baking soda on a damp sponge.

17. Wash out thermos bottles and cooling containers with baking soda and water to get rid of stale smells.

18. To remove stubborn stains from marble, Formica or plastic surfaces, scour with a paste of baking soda and water.

19. Wash glass or stainless steel coffee pots (but not aluminum) in a baking soda solution ( 3-tablespoons soda to 1 quart water).

20. Run your coffee maker through its cycle with a baking soda solution. Rinse.

21. Give baby bottles a good cleaning with baking soda and hot water.

22. Sprinkle baking soda on barbecue grills, let soak, then rinse off.

23. Sprinkle baking soda on greasy garage floor. Let stand, scrub and rinse.

24. Polish silverware with dry baking soda on a damp cloth. Rub, rinse and dry.

25. For silver pieces without raised patterns or cemented-on handles: place the silver on aluminum foil in an enamel pot. Add boiling water and 4 tablespoons baking soda. Let stand, rinse and dry.

26. Reduce odor build-up in your dishwasher by sprinkling some baking soda on the bottom.

27. Run your dishwasher through its cycle with baking soda in it instead of soap to give it a good cleaning.

28. To remove burned-on food from a pan: let the pan soak in baking soda and water for 10 minutes before washing. Or scrub the pot with dry soda and a moist scouring pad.

29. For a badly-burned pan with a thick layer of burned-on food: pour a thick layer of baking soda directly onto the bottom of the pan, then sprinkle on just enough water so as to moisten the baking soda. Leave the pot overnight, then scrub it clean next day.

30. Rub stainless steel and chrome with a moist cloth and dry baking soda to shine it up. Rinse and dry. On stainless steel, scrub in the direction of the grain.

31. Clean plastic, porcelain and glass with dry soda on a damp cloth. Rinse and dry.

32. Remove that bad smell from ashtrays with baking soda and water.

33. Sprinkle a bit of dry baking soda in your ashtrays to prevent smoldering and reduce odor.

34. Clean your bathroom with dry baking soda on a moist sponge — sink, tub, tiles, shower stall, etc.

35. Keep your drains clean and free-flowing by putting 4 tablespoons of soda in them each week. Flush the soda down with hot water.

36. Soak your shower curtains in water and baking soda to clean them.

37. To remove strong odors from your hands, wet your hands and rub them hard with baking soda, then rinse.

38. Sprinkle baking soda on your wet toothbrush and brush your teeth and dentures with it.

39. Sprinkle baking soda in tennis shoes, socks, boots and slippers to eliminate odor.

40. Add 1/2-cup or more of baking soda to your bath water to soften your skin.

41. Putting 2-tablespoons of baking soda in your baby’s bath water will help relieve diaper rash irritations.

42. Apply baking soda directly to insect bites, rashes and poison ivy to relieve discomfort. Make a paste with water.

43. Take a baking soda bath to relieve general skin irritations such as measles and chicken pox.

44. Take 1/2-teaspoon of baking soda in one-half glass of water to relieve acid indigestion or heartburn.

45. Gargle with 1/2-teaspoon baking soda in one-half glass of water. Freshens and cleans your mouth.

46. Used as a mouthwash, baking soda will also relieve canker sore pain.

47. To relieve sunburn: use a paste of baking soda and water.

48. Bug bites: use a poultice of baking soda and vinegar.

49. Bee sting: use a poultice of baking soda and water.

50. Windburn: moisten some baking soda and apply directly.

51. Make “Play Clay” with baking soda. Combine 1 1/4 cups water, 2 cups soda, 1 cup cornstarch.

52. Use baking soda as an underarm deodorant.

53. If your baby spits up on his shirt after feeding, moisten a cloth, dip it in baking soda and dab at the dribbled shirt. The odor will go away.

54. When scalding a chicken, add 1-teaspoon of baking soda to the boiling water. The feathers will come off easier and flesh will be clean and white.

55. Repel rain from windshield. Put gobs of baking soda on a dampened cloth and wipe windows inside and out.

56. Add baking soda to water to soak dried beans to make them more digestible. (This old “trick” used to reduce flatulence, also removes important B1 vitamins)

57. Add baking soda to water to remove the “gamey” taste from wild game.

58. Use baking soda to sweeten sour dishcloths.

59. Use baking soda dry with a small brush to rub canvas handbags clean.

60. To remove acid buildup from automobile battery terminals, mix a small amount of baking soda with water. Pour on terminals & let stand until buildup is dissolved. Rinse with clean water. Repeat if necessary.

61. Use to remove melted plastic bread wrapper from toaster. Dampen cloth and make a mild abrasive with baking soda.

62. To eliminate dog odors or just freshen up the air, sprinkle baking soda on your carpet where your dog lies and vacuum up. Leave the soda on the carpet for half an hour. It also eliminates odor in your vacuum after it has been vacuumed up. A great way to freshen up your home air during the winter when everything is closed up.

Got a great use for baking soda? Add it in our “Comments” section.

Learn more at: Arm & Hammer

posted by Mountain Republic

Enhanced Carrot Cake in an Enhanced Turn of the Century Kitchen

Just park your "brolly" and come into the most interesting kitchen in, well, the United States and Texas.

A delightful family bought a large old turn of the penultimate century home in my village.  The wife, a Canadian transplant and I have cooking and art and music and home restoration and even Canada in common.  She has painted and sanded and worked her way through each room of this manse to bring a new life to an historic home.  Her kitchen is the heart of the “plant” and that is where she embellishes recipes daily.  She is a mother to three but all are in college except one.  She is, therefore, cooking for 3 and often me.

Catherine went out and found period cupboards and hutches to put in the kitchen.  She had the granite kitchen island installed with her sink across from her range/oven.  The brick pillar is what remains of a chimney for an old pot-belly stove.

Harry James is the family’s Beagle mix.  Make no mistake.  He is the king of this castle.  He stays close to the cook because it’s warm and fulfilling in the kitchen.

Large windows overlook the gardens in back of the house.  The pantry can be seen at the far end of the room.Harry James has his own chair at his own large window.

Below, a picture of an interesting lamp Catherine picked up at a garage sale.  She has an eye for prints and old things of all periods and she pulls them all together in vignettes that are fresh and imaginative and completely her own.

Behold, the better carrot cake - a lot like a better mousetrap! It really grabs you if you love fruit cakes.

Catherine loves to tweak recipes and to generally add more of the healthy ingredients to them.  With the carrot cake she baked this week, she added extra nuts (walnuts AND pecans), cran-raisins (in addition to raisins called for by the recipe), extra carrots and, in her one slip from the healthy pathway, she used coconut oil instead of vegetable.  What a moist, sweet cake.  We enjoyed it without frosting.

Just take your favorite carrot cake recipe and tweak it a la Catherine. Bravery in the culinary field of battle should be recognized.  Catherine, this is in honor of  your successful cooking campaigns over many years.  You get a SamHenry heart of appreciation ♥

Homemade Thin Crust Pizza

I adopted my recipe for pizza crust from the 1956 edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. I prefer the “thin crust” this recipe calls for over the thicker crusts many folks love. I use Betty’s recipe for the dough, but I’ll top the pizza with whatever I want.

I’ve made pizzas from this recipe quite a few times now & we had enjoyed them so much, that my wife suggested that we do a “pizza night” each week. I don’t know if we’ll do it every week, as it does take several hours from start to finish. Save this recipe for another day if you want to be eating pizza in half an hour.

But if you do have the time, it’s well worth the effort. And if you’ve got kids, I know they’ll like helping build their own “pie”. The beauty of this recipe is you can top it any way you like it!!

DOUGH PREPARATION:

Dissolve 1/2 TSP. active dry yeast in 3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP. warm water (110° – 115°)

Blend in 3 – 3 1/4 cups sifted flour to make a stiff dough.

Knead on a lightly floured surface. Place in greased bowl. Turn to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (about 85°) until doubled in size (about 2 hrs.)

Divide into two parts. Roll each part until it’s about 12″ in diameter (1/8″ thick). You can roll the edge of the crust to make a stand up ridge if you like. (There’s no reason you couldn’t divide the dough again and make four individual pizzas.)

So it doesn’t stick, sprinkle a little corn meal on your pizza pan, pizza stone or baking sheet before you put the crust on it. (Don’t have a round pan? Roll the pizza dough into two 14″ x 10″ rectangles instead.) Now comes the fun part….

ADDING THE TOPPINGS:

Here’s where you get to be creative! You can add what ever toppings you like! There’s virtually no limit to the different combinations you can come up with.

Start off by adding a favorite sauce. You can use regular tomato sauce and add some Italian herbs or purchase a pre-made pizza sauce. Sometimes, I like using BBQ sauce in place of the tomato sauce. Ranch dressing is also an option or experiment with some different kinds of sauces. Sometimes I’ll use a very light coating of olive oil on the crust instead of a sauce.*

* When applying the sauce or oil, keep it about 1 inch away from the edge of crust so it doesn’t burn. Also, try to completely cover the sauce with your toppings. This helps keep the sauce from burning near the edge of the pizza.

Here's Pizza#1 after it finished baking. Pizza #2 didn't come out quite as round!
See below for what the pizzas were topped with.

Now it’s time to add your favorite toppings. Just to give you an idea of what kind of combos are possible, here’s what I loaded on my two pizzas last night:

PIZZA #1:

I brushed the crust with a very light layer of olive oil. Then I added chopped turkey breast, chopped mushrooms, chopped broccoli, Monterey Jack cheese, Mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese,  oregano, basil & rosemary. Topped it off with chopped green onions when it came out of the oven.

PIZZA #2:

I brushed the crust with a nice thick layer of my favorite BBQ sauce. Then I added cooked hamburger meat, chopped onions, chopped garlic, sliced olives, extra sharp cheddar cheese & oregano.

BAKING:

Bake at 425° for about 18 -20 minutes or so. Watch closely, as edge of crust will burn quickly. Pizzas cooked on a “stone” tend to be done a little sooner. Edge of crust will be crunchy.

Bake only one pizza at a time. I usually prepare the second pizza while the first one is in the oven. Makes about 6 -8 servings. Hope you enjoy!

posted by Mountain Republic

Banana Walnut Bread

I do most of my baking during the cooler months of the year & quick breads are one of my favorites things to bake.

Quick breads are made with quick acting leavening like baking powder, soda, sour milk or steam, instead of the slower rising yeast.

Many different kinds of breads, muffins, biscuits and corn breads fall into the “quick breads” category, including pancakes, waffles, dumplings & doughnuts.

Today’s “quick & easy recipe” is for Banana Walnut Bread. Ready? Here we go:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 3-1/2 TSP. baking powder
  • 1 TSP. salt (Kosher if you have it)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 TBSP. shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 overly ripe mashed bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

PREPARATION:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Cream the sugar & shortening together.
  • Stir in the egg, milk & mashed bananas. Mix well.
  • Sift together & stir in the flour, baking powder & salt.
  • Add the chopped nuts to the mixture & stir.
  • Pour into a well greased 9″ x 5″ x 3″ loaf pan.
  • Dust the top with cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
  • Let it stand for 20 minutes or so before baking.
  • Bake for about 70 minutes or until golden brown.
  • When done, a toothpick inserted in center will come out clean.
  • Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove loaf & finish cooling on a wire rack. The loaf will have a “crack” on the top. This is normal.

Here’s a look at the finished product

The loaf will be easier to slice when allowed to fully cool, but who can wait that long?

posted by Mountain Republic

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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

Pecan Butter Cookies

These pecan butter cookies are easy to make & even easier to eat! Enjoy!

PECAN BUTTER COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Sift together the flour and salt. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add flour and mix until blended. Add pecans and stir to distribute evenly. Chill if necessary to handle dough easily. Shape into one inch balls and place a few inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a slow oven (325 degrees) for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack. Cookies, while still warm, may be rolled in confectioner’s sugar or a mixture of granulated sugar and cinnamon. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

posted by Mountain Republic                                                    recipe by Amy Chenevert