Saturday, January 21, 2017

How I learned to cook.

Did your mom cook like this too? Here is a recipe made today the way I learned to cook. Spoken by expert cooks of old. A little of this and a little of that. Season to taste! 

I love soup. Here's a hearty stove top homemade soup. Mother made soup often and never had a cookbook on the counter to follow the recipe. It was all in her head.
 Make this hearty soup in less than thirty minutes. True! 


One 32oz. carton chicken broth. Chop a large handful of celery maybe a cup or so. 1/2 of a medium onion sliced in hearty size pieces One handful of carrot chunks, about a cup, not grated, this is meant to be hearty looking. Cook a bit. Maybe ten minutes.Pull chicken meat from a left over Kroger rotisserie chicken.Add. What ever you get is fine. Keep large chunks to look hearty. Cover broth mixture and if you do or don't want cover with one layer of Amish noodles. No need to stir. Cover and simmer a while. Say 15minutes. 

Buttered bread is real good with this.And a slice of Salt Rising bread toasted is a  favorite! 

So Here's the thing...I cooked this up with such speed. Remembering how I learned, "a little of this and a little of that, taste. More salt. You did too? This soup was better than any canned product out there. Ready in less than thirty minutes. And, here's the big benefit, it puts steam in to your home's  dry winter air. Enjoy! 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Peach Dump Cake

Last week I mentioned cooking with my cast-iron cookware and mentioned   a dump cake prepared by the campfire using my cast iron pot better know as a Dutch oven.   What a popular subject. I had a request for my recipe so I dug around to find it.   I was pretty sure I remembered the ingredients, only three but wanted to be sure.   

Now, please don’t stop reading because you don’t do “campfire cooking.” I never did before when I first learned of this cake. But good news is, I have another way for you to make this Dump Cake recipe right in your kitchen and it requires no fire I assure you!

I remember being gifted this original recipe with an introduction to this yummy dish from Missy Goldsberry,  mom to  one of our riding students at our farm, Cherry Ridge, a long time back; seven or eight years ago.   When she heard me talking about my learning to cook over the campfire, not just hamburgers and hotdogs, but I was sautéing vegetables and baking potatoes and doing breakfast too, though my biscuits were a bit hard on the bottom, she shared this recipe with me.  She went on to encourage me to try her family’s dump cake that she had just made for a gathering we had down by the creek. It was tasty.    I was intrigued.  So,  I did try it the next weekend. In those days, we didn’t actually go away to camp. At the time, we had a camper set up along the creek side with a nice campfire ring. We were usually grubbing a fencerow or something exciting like that pretending we were away camping! We’d go back to the camper for our meals where I was learning campfire cooking. At night, after watching the stars for a while and hearing the coyotes in the distance, we’d often times ( most always)  just head back to our comfy bed only a mile away—camping at its finest.

When I made it myself in the cast iron as Missy instructed,  I impressed myself in not scorching it by cooking it on all sides, by rotating it ½ way through. My gosh it is so moist and “gooey” just how I like cakes. I learned recently, too, that you could easily do this in a crockpot. Yep!  A bit less fuss than the campfire so this might be how you’ll enjoy my recipe. If you add a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream, serve it in a lovely dish you’ll think your eating in a fancy restaurant.  Pull out a pint size canning jar or a coffee cup to serve it in and you’ll think your camping!  It a 2017 winter’s delight! Try it. Let me know if you do and send me pictures. I like hearing from you.

1 Large Can of Peaches in Syrup
1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
1 Stick of Butter

Spray or grease crock-pot. Layer ingredients—peaches, cake mix and slice butter up and cover the top.  DO NOT STIR.  Cover with lid.  Cook on high for 2 hours.
If you like to multi task, this way is for you. Do a load of laundry, cook supper; go to the store, its called multi-tasking! Ha!

So Here's the thing...Crockpots are a wonderful addition to any kitchen and for making this dump cake. If you choose to do a little campfire cooking, you might want to line your pan with foil for easy clean up. Then nestle your Dutch oven up close to the fire for about an hour. Turning occasionally to cook evenly. 

It is delicious warm with ice cream, whip topping or as my late father would have liked, with  heavy cream drizzled over the top.  And, if you don’t like peaches that much, use apples. Would it be good with pineapple? Hmmn, I might be trying that next. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

My Cast Iron Cooking

I just love cast iron cookware. 

On January 1st, I don’t know what you were doing but I know what I was doing. Every new year,  I feel a sense of new found vigor. I can put the past year to bed. In my journal, I write my life’s history--the good the bad and sometimes the ugly. It’s nothing new under the sun, diaries or journals.   You know the pioneers and the early settlers kept journals, for each generation to learn from.  Farmers keep journals too,  so to speak. Maybe some only write one-word journals—good year, bad year break-even year. Or for those gardeners it might be a bit wordier—corn did well, beans did lousy, plant more peas. My journaling is of course a bit more personal.
 Books, journals, famous authors, coffee and tea breaks, oh my!  Add a  lovely new scarf  to  this Modern Country Woman's wardrobe, more cast-iron cooking,  here's to a great 2017.  

This year, day one, I wrote already in my journal the following: “Such a busy "day one" of my 2017 life.”  It was a good beginning I reflected at the end of the day.  I always feel excited to start a new year. There is a sense of freshness to it; like a spring breeze. Like that feeling when test-driving a new car and you’re trading in  that old clunker or slightly worn out one.     My first day’s activities was sparked when my daughter Christi reminded me that I had totally forgotten to gift her some of my cast iron cook ware we had discussed before Christmas. 

I admit, am a collector and I do own many pieces of cast iron, too many most would say.  I started sorting through my cast iron to settle on what to gift her.  Skillets of all sizes, some soup pots too.  A corn stick and a divided one for corn bread, a stew pot or maybe some call it a Dutch oven.  I baked a dump cake in it one time placing it next to the campfire, not on the fire. It was a peach dump cake and  delicious. I wonder if I still have that recipe?   Tons of memories surfaced form that one sentence. 

Some use a shortening cutter but us old fashioned gals use
our hands. Clean hands  and rings removed!
The best cast iron memory  was of mother stirring the rue in her skillet in the farmhouse kitchen of my youth right  after the sausage was cooked and removed. Popping the biscuits in the oven  at the same moment.    Perhaps you too can see your mother or grandmother moving the meat round and round in her skillet. I realized one day much farther into the future it was because the center cooks much faster than the pans edge. My center sausage was crispy indeed! Are you wondering what is the rue?  It is the thickening made with flour sprinkled then stirred into  the sausage drippings, the beginning of gravy making; the thickening.  You have to do it just right or you will have “lumpy” gravy I was schooled.  Been there done that, lumpy grave I've had a few times. Hopefully, not today. 
This is my favorite (only) rolling pin I use.
Got it over 40 years ago in an auction box.

I read using a deep dished pan helps biscuits to
rise more. Maybe it did. 

 With these wonderful farmhouse memories surfacing I blurted out to my husband,   “We’re going to have sausage gravy and homemade biscuits this New Year’s day.” 

I mixed the new found biscuit recipe, promising to be fluffy (using an egg, cream of tartar and no buttermilk) using my  hand.   No electric appliance needed.  

Lightly golden brown.  Note the number on the handle. 

The gravy came out tasty—no lumps! The biscuits fluffy as I had hoped for. 
Lastly, a family ritual to complete the meal as if a dessert, I placed a pat of butter on the plate, then drizzled (local clover) honey over it then smashed it with the fork like I had watched Daddy do, time and time again, creating an old fashioned whipped, honey butter. Parting a warm biscuit I smeared a gob of my concoction over it, quickly eating it before it runs down my fingers. “Oh my gosh! This is delightful, if I do say so myself.” A nod of approval was cast my way. 

Tasty, No lump, thickening  gravy just the way I remember in the farmhouse of my youth.

Needless to say the high carb breakfast gave me the energy to clean out the refrigerator and tackle the Tupperware bin. Now there's a thought. True motivational energy. 
Let's eat. Oh well, the eggs came out over medium. Shoot.  
 Gosh it felt good to dump an armful of mismatched and rarely used plastics in the outside trashcan. Liberating! A stiff breezed blew my hair back. I breathed deep as I headed back inside my farmhouse on the hill.  Maybe cast iron cooking is going to be my new 2017. 

So here's the thing...Take Joy! Read between the lines. Be spontaneous, isn't that the  moments found in childhood.  Playing "in the moment." Don't be so old. Just be happy, happy, happy. Happy New Year to you.


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