Dreaming about cookies!

I recently acquired these two cookie books…

And all I’ve been able to do is dream about cookies.

I’ve been making more cookies lately (just the standards which I love so much) and I Love, Love, Love what Betty says in her Picture Cook Book about them:

I don’t have a proper old-fashioned cookie jar but I do like having cookies in an air-tight container on my kitchen counter (as I do now).

So I couldn’t help myself when I learned about Betty’s vintage cooky book.  I was drawn to it immediately and searched for one online; a used one, of course.

This Betty Crocker Cooky Book is from 1963 (First Edition First Printing) and it looks like new.  I don’t know if the price sticker on the front is from 1963 though.  The cover with all of the cookies just draws you to this book and there are many recipes inside.

This Woman’s Day Cookie Cook Book is from 1963, Third Printing.

It only cost 75 cents back when it was sold in ’63 which is such a bargain by today’s standards.

I’m guessing that many housewives in the 1960’s were very busy baking cookies once they retained one or both of these publications.  I can only imagine how magical Christmas must have been back in that time with so many cookies coming out of mom’s oven.  They can really make a home so warm and inviting especially when the smells are floating through the house as they are baking.  Ah…such great memories!!

What cookies do you enjoy making and keeping in your home?  Do you have a proper old-fashioned cookie jar full of cookies all of the time?  Please share some of your cookie memories with me.

Chocolate chip are my most-favorite cookies and I love using milk chocolate and dark chocolate chips versus the semi-sweet; and I must use butter in the recipe!  I’ve been addicted to the Nestle brand of chips because the chocolate content is better than Hershey’s (in my opinion the taste is so much better) and European chocolate is the best over anything because their number one ingredient is almost always chocolate (cocoa) versus sugar.  Do you look at the ingredients listed on your chocolate chips?  When you see sugar listed first you will find that the taste is just not as good as those which have the cocoa ingredients first.

(On a side-note, I love European chocolate over the American chocolate.  If you haven’t tried any European chocolate you’re missing out on something very extraordinary in taste and quality.  It seems like sugar has become the number one ingredient in all chocolate made in America anymore and the cocoa content is minimal.)

So many cookies…

so little time…

The Order of Patrons of Husbandry a/k/a The Grange

You may have heard of The Grange.  You may even be a member or your family was active in their local Grange many years ago.  It doesn’t seem to be an active organization where I live anymore but they still do exist.

As a youth I had heard of the Grange but wasn’t really aware of all that they did in our country’s history and more importantly I didn’t know that they were such an important organization for the many rural families of our country.  I think that they were such an important agricultural type organization where the rural farm families could gather at their local building to support one another, find others with the same interests as their own as well as share food and fellowship with one another.  I seem to remember reading that many rural families during World War 2 would gather there to home-can foods together and share equipment.  That must have been such a fun and wonderful time; don’t you think?

What really peaked my interest in knowing about them is this recipe book.

This book had been my Grandmother’s.

It is evident as I look through that all recipes are from Grange members.

It lost its covers and some pages are missing as well.  As you can see my brother was hired by my Grandmother to make a new cover for it. 🙂

As I was on my journey to bake through all of the Pumpkin Pie recipes in my possession to find the one which I fell in love with first, my Grandmother’s, I had looked at the ones in this book.  You can read all about my Pumpkin Pie adventures in this post: Eating Our Way Through Autumn; One Pumpkin Pie at a Time.

But as I was reading all of the members’ organization names and county names I began to realize that this particular cookbook wasn’t from the Pennsylvania Grange.  So I began my journey through the world wide web to determine where it could be from.  Lo and behold, somewhere I found a photo of a page of recipes in a Grange cookbook which was being sold on the internet (possibly Amazon) and I compared that page to my book.  Fortunately the page on the internet was in existence in my Grange cookbook.  I finally found the one which my Grandmother used so much and it is the one titled Ohio State Grange Cook Book which is from 1970 (with red spiral bound plastic).

As you can see in the top photo there are a lot of stains and I believe the book became wet somewhere along the way because of the big stains on the top of most of the pages.  Pies were something which my Grandmother often made; she was a great baker and loved to bake all of the time.  The photo above has the Pumpkin Pie recipes on the right page.  I made one of them but I still can’t seem to find the right mixture of ingredients for the pie which she always made unless I’m not remembering the taste correctly.

But onto the cookbooks again…

After determining which Grange this book is from I began to wonder why she had this particular one since we live in Pennsylvania (although Ohio is our neighbor) and, of course, how did she get an Ohio Grange Book??  From what I recall, her one brother (my Great-Uncle) would visit family in Ohio.  I don’t remember if they were my Grandmother’s family too or if they were my Great-Uncle’s wife’s family in Ohio.  But I have seen photos of him visiting a cemetery of family members in Ohio.  So I guess it’s possible that the Grange cookbook found its way from their through that route.  I just don’t know.  I was just so happy to finally learn which Grange this book had come from.  And apparently it was well-loved by my Grandmother.

About two summers ago I had been at a flea market and came across a woman who was selling her late mother-in-law’s things.  They were going to move into the home but there was just so much stuff.  She was telling me information since I was interested in her cookbooks which she was selling.  I bought 3 of them.  Two were vintage Better Homes and Garden cookbooks which I discussed in the post about my collection and one of them was this Grange cookbook.

After reading through this amazing collection of vintage recipes I was so excited to have found such a treasure for what I seem to remember to be only 25 or 75 cents!!!  This book contains so many rare and old recipes which you are not going to find in too many other places.

There is a section containing recipes from various noted individuals in Washington, D.C. of the time (1976) including…..

There are various recipes in the book which claim to have been served to President George Washington in the White House too!
There is even a section titled Special Diabetic Recipes.  I find that unusual for a cookbook published in 1976 and yet so fascinating, especially for a Grange cookbook.  Those Grange members were sure concerned for their members’ health and well being and made sure to include those types of recipes in their Bicentennial Cookbook.  The only recipe which we’ve made so far was the Pennsylvania Dutch Mustard recipe which it says is over 100 years old.  It was a disaster and my husband and I proclaim to never eat any others then French’s!  It smelled horrible and the taste was horrific!  Needless to say it was dumped out.  At least we can say we tried; can’t we?!

But due to these two Grange cookbooks I  began to look at other various used Pennsylvania (PA) Grange cookbooks on the internet; Amazon mostly.  That’s where I tend to visit for used cookbooks, by the way.

I started reading reviews about what appears to be the most-loved of all PA Grange cookbooks.  The one originally published in 1972.  You can buy reprints of this book but I seem to remember to have read some reviews somewhere that stated some recipes are missing from the reprints.  That is one of the main reasons I don’t like buying a reprint.  Too often they are missing items/recipes from the original publication.  So off I began my search for a used one on Amazon for a descent price.  I received an Amazon gift card last year from someone who told me to ‘treat myself’ so I decided to use it towards the purchase of two PA used State Grange Cookbooks.

Here is the 1972 book which claims to be the best loved version of all of the ones which the PA Grange has sold.

And this one is from 1950 even though there is no date on the inside.

I am satisfied with my PA Grange collection of cookbooks.  But most importantly, I have finally determined which one my Grandmother loved the most.

Now if I only could go back in time and watch her make the best Pumpkin Pie ever (and get the recipe)!!!!!

I hope that when I get to Heaven she’ll have one waiting for me as well as a big bowl of her delicious Rivel Soup!

Chaotic Cooking-Through Challenge : Creamy Parmesan Salad Dressing

I decided to make another salad dressing because we are busy eating salads right now since lettuce is fresh in our garden.

My second recipe is a variation of a Creamy Italian Dressing by changing it up a bit to become a Creamy Parmesan Dressing.

Here are the ingredients which I used in my recipe.

I was unable to find the recipe that I used on the BHG website to provide a link for you.  But if you search online you can find various recipes.

I made notations in my book and plan to make this again since we like this one.  It tastes much like one from that famous company who sells their Buttermilk dressings.

🙂

Italian Sausage Vegetable Soup

On a recent cool, damp and rain-all-day Saturday I threw together my Italian Sausage Vegetable Soup to simmer all day in the crockpot and I made a wonderful bread to go along with it as well as a salad.  I posted my recipe once before but wanted to share it with you again as well as give you a few photos.

Italian Sausage Vegetable Soup

Take approximately 1 pound of Italian Sausage and boil in water until it is cooked (you may want to put a few knife holes in each piece so that it will cook better).  Then take the sausage out of the water and either slice it up or take it out of the casing so that it is like ground beef pieces (or buy Italian Sausage already out of the casing) and place into a frying pan which has olive oil (or your oil of choice) heated in it and fry for a little while (until pieces are the way you like or some have browned, your choice).  When almost finished frying, add in some minced garlic and diced onion (again, your choices).  When the garlic and onion have heated for about 2-3 minutes, transfer everything to your crock pot.

To this meat mixture, add two 15-oz cans of beans/peas (I used one can of Northern Beans and one can of Black Eyed Peas; you could use whatever you like or have on hand), a quart of home-canned tomatoes (or a comparable size that you buy in the stores), carrots (as much as you want), roughly 2-3 cups of beef broth (or other broth you have or like), pinch of salt and pepper or other seasonings you prefer.  Put on high for an hour or two and then low for 6 hours.  Add in 1/4-1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning and some frozen or fresh chopped sweet peppers, frozen or fresh sliced zucchini and squash (I have frozen zucchini and squash from my garden last year).  Keep on low until ready to eat (roughly two more hours).  If you want you could add spinach or kale at some point in the recipe (I added kale near the end).

To go with the soup, I made a Cheddar Herb Bread using white sharp cheddar cheese (use a good quality cheese if you are able to) as well as dried rosemary (store bought) and my own dried parsley versus the cilantro that is mentioned as an option in the recipe; I make mine in an 8″ x 8″ square dish.  I saw this recipe once in a Better Homes & Gardens magazine and am glad I gave it a try; it is a quick and easy bread to mix together.  Here is the link to that recipe on their website: Cheddar Herb Bread.  It is a fantastic bread!  It reminds me of a rosemary bread that we received at a well-known Italian restaurant along with some dipping oils and it smells so good in the kitchen when baking. I reheated my piece in the microwave at supper time and put on some butter; yummy!

Enjoy!

My Vintage Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, Copyright 1950

I love used vintage cookbooks from the early to mid 20th century and I’m happy with my small but ever-growing collection.  When I search online for vintage cookbooks I always narrow my results to ‘used’ books because I want a book with character.

I decided to treat myself and leave work early one day last week to go to a used-book sale at a library in the city where I work (“early bird gets the worm,” as they say).  They have two sales a year and I was there for one before but this time I was concentrating on looking through all of the cookbooks for anything vintage.  So many of the books looked rather new and appeared as if they weren’t even opened or used and only $2.00 for most books.  I found several Better Homes & Gardens cookbooks and Betty Crocker ones too.  Most were newer and not the vintage ones I enjoy but I did find a reprint of the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book.  On the inside it states that it is a reprint of the 1950 book and I believe the reprint date was 1988 or somewhere around that time and that it includes all of the original content/recipes from the book.  I chuckled to myself as I flipped through it and recognized the pages from my original book which is the First Edition (Sixth Printing).  Also, this one had a soft cover and copies of the front and back cover of the original one and it just wasn’t the same for me (many pages seemed distorted as it was “reprinted”).

Here is my original book which I bought last year through Amazon and has the character I’m looking for in a vintage book.  It is in very good condition for its age too.  I’m not going to get into too much detail about this book in relation to the recipes and content exclusive to this cookbook because Marianne over at Happily Mrs has chosen to cook-through this book for my challenge and she will most likely be sharing much with you as she blogs about her food.  I bet you will want to buy one for yourself too! 🙂

These older cookbooks are more then just a collection of recipes.  They give us a glimpse into the home life of housewives during the time period they were written and are so valuable in that regard.  The newer cookbooks today just don’t compare to these older ones, in my opinion.  Everything which I’ve made from this book so far has been really good and a “keeper.”  I love all of the photos and how-tos included.  I’ve been successful with my white yeast breads using the recipe and photo instructions in here.

I want to share the character of my book with you which makes it so much more special.  I am thinking of myself as a safe-keeper of these older books until I pass on into the next life.  Hopefully the next person will care for these books in the same manner that I do.  They are getting more rare and difficult to find in such good condition.  But the antique business has picked up in recent years in the United States and throughout the world more people are beginning to appreciate the value of these vintage items and prices are going through-the-roof for such things.

At one time it lived here although I don’t remember if the seller who sent it to me was from this place.

As I turn the page with the above sticker I am greeted by such a wonderful dedication page.

I’m sure Hilma so enjoyed cooking with this book.  It probably brought a smile to her face every time she saw this from her friend, Sarah Fiske.

This book has a section on ‘making work easy’ with short cuts.  I wrote about this once before at this link: Unique Discovery.

This book is truly a treasure and has so much it in that I want to make as well.  If I could go back to the 1950’s and have a cookbook club I would certainly use this book and have a monthly dinner party to enjoy all of the foods. 🙂  I’ve been wondering though how much this book cost when it was published and sold in the 1950’s.  Does anyone know?  I’m very happy that I purchased this book as ‘used’ versus a reprint.  I would like to read it as a novel but I keep getting distracted or side-tracked with something in the book or something else all together.  As I type this post I am sitting here listening to Old Fashioned (Vintage) Christmas music and enjoying my trek through the mid 20th century.  If you find one of these used treasures somewhere along your travels in life just hang onto it.  There is a lot inside that you will enjoy!

Chaotic Cooking-Through Challenge : Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

I’m so happy I began this Challenge and chose this cookbook.

As it is now Springtime and we are enjoying more fresh salads I am excited to begin making homemade salad dressings.  They are not something which I’ve typically made unless a special dressing was needed for a homemade salad and I certainly overlooked the simplicity and ease in putting these together.

My first recipe which I’ve made is a Vinaigrette Onion Salad Dressing.

This Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook’s many recipes has variations written to “change-up” the basic recipe and I chose to add fresh spring onion (Thanks, Dad!) to mine to turn the basic Vinaigrette dressing recipe into an Onion Vinaigrette.

Here are the ingredients which I used in my recipe.  Not much to making it and I have everything in my home without having to purchase anything extra.

Because the recipes which I will be making are not my own but BHG’s and I don’t want to have any copyright violations I will provide a link in my blog post to the recipe on the BHG website, if available.  I will provide the tweaks and variations which I did to their recipe here in my blog posts.

This Basic Vinaigrette recipe is at the following link: Basic Vinaigrette

I used olive oil, dried oregano and freshly ground black pepper for the seasonings but I did not use the mustard they suggested.

The various dressing recipes in the book mention that they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks so I only made half the recipe.  We really enjoyed it though and there is still some left.

I made sure to mark the book with the date and my instructions on ingredients/substitutions which I used.

This one’s definitely a “keeper” and I will make it again!

What all are you enjoying at your table?

Organizing all those loose “keeper” recipes

I have several tags on WordPress.com which I frequently search through for new blogs and posts.  I’m always looking for others who have the same interests as myself and who I can connect with.  I found a post titled: How do you keep your recipes? and left a comment for Marianne regarding my method of organizing all of my loose recipes.  I read other posts she had written and I now am following her blog and she is participating in my cook-through challenge.  Inspired by my comment to that particular post on the Happily Mrs blog I want to share with all of you the method I currently use (and have used for several years) on organizing all of those recipes which my husband calls “it’s a keeper.”

In an earlier post I mentioned that I’ve kept loose recipes for years and mostly in a drawer.  I sorted through and have really scaled down what I’m keeping to make and then when I cook through all of the loose recipes we decide whether to keep or discard them.  Most times those recipes are given the thumbs up and happy face of my husband and he will say “it’s a keeper.”  Translation: “don’t discard that and make sure it’s not lost; we’re eating that again.”  That’s always a good feeling when your family really loves the food placed on the table for their nourishment.  I had begun scrapbooking several years ago but I don’t do that anymore.  I have so much scrapbooking supplies and don’t know what to do with it all.  I then went on to papercrafts and mostly made, and continue to at times, homemade cards of all types.  I have so much stationery and cards and don’t know what to do with them either, but that’s another story.  Anyway, back to the scrapbooking supplies.  When shopping with a friend and getting supplies several years ago I came across some sheets regarding recipes, kitchens, etc. and here is one of them:

I thought this was perfect for the font of a 3-ring binder which would then house my recipe collection which I would scrapbook for myself.  Don’t you think it’s perfect?  It’s got that vintage look and I absolutely love that!!

So off I was to begin scrappin’ my loose recipes which had to never get lost.  I had already bought sheet protectors to fit into a 3-ring binder; had the scrapbook paper and old-school type 12×12″ paper cutter (which by the way is so worth the price since I use it for a lot!!) and just needed a binder.

I organize the binder much like a recipe book is organized.  I have all of the same types of recipes together in the binder.  I don’t use any type of tabs to find a section quicker because I do know where recipes are located in it from all of the years of use.  Within the last year I had to begin a new binder and have moved the ‘main course’ recipes into that one while everything else is staying in the one above.  I’m sure that will change as I acquire new recipes which must be kept.  If the page of the recipe is a full sheet I typically just insert it into a sheet protector; if it is smaller I then attach it to a scrapbook sheet of paper which I cut to 8 1/2 x 11″ to fit into the sheet protector.

I have kept special recipes from family members in here as well so that they don’t get lost and I can look at their handwritten recipes as I wish.  Here is sample of one which my late Mother had given to me at my wedding shower.  It is in her handwriting and I found the most perfect scrapbook paper to attach it to.  You may notice on the side that I have inserted a label which says ‘2010.’  That was the last year which she was able to home-can food and I saved that from one of her jars as a memento as well.

My Mother in law gave me several of her family recipes and I have them together (since they are Autumn dishes) on a cool Autumn sheet with a few brads which I attached (can’t you tell that I love Autumn and everything about it?!  Even my scrapbooking supplies can tell you that!).  🙂

Sometimes I attach things using an adhesive when the complete recipes is on the front but if I must flip over the recipe card or sheet I will use photo corners so that I can do that without harm to the recipe (as above).

As I had looked through all of my Grandmother’s loose recipes I came across vintage things which she had and I don’t want to lose them either.

When I make a recipe for the first time I often will write the date and comments, including smiley face if appropriate, so that I know for the future.  I do this in my recipe books as well as including my notations concerning substitutions/additions/deletions of ingredients (see below).  I tried this recipe only last Thanksgiving for something different and others enjoyed it so I will make this again.

 For me this method is working really well.  My husband can even go to one of these binders to find a recipe if I’m not home and he will have no problems locating it.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my method of organizing the “keepers” and may even decide to try it out for yourself.

Happy Organizing!!

🙂

The Chaotic Cooking-Through Challenge: Month One

As we begin this challenge I want to say Thank You to everyone who will be joining in this food adventure.  I look forward to making more recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks which I have used for over 20 years and will share my experiences with you as I cook-through my book.  I’m sure all of us will find good recipes to add to our cooking/baking rotation.

So grab your recipe book and let’s getting cooking!!!

For Month One the category is:

Salads/Salad Dressings

I challenge you to look through your book for recipes which fall into the above category and make as many as you want too.

I encourage you to have fun, take photos, share your food with others and link your blog posts back to this post on my site so that we all can see what you are making and enjoying.  I know that you will find satisfaction in various ways by choosing your own ingredients and creating healthy dishes in your own kitchen.  A good home-cooked meal is always a great centerpiece at any gathering and shows your feelings towards others. 🙂

(To read more detailed information concerning the cook-through challenge please go to this link: Chaotic Cooking-Through Challenge)

Happy Cooking!!

🙂

Buried under loose recipes and food magazines!

Before I was even married I was collecting recipes.  I would cut out from magazines, copy from books and ask for cookbooks as gifts.  Before too long I had hundreds of them.  I was keeping them together in various ways and cooking some of them.  A few years ago I came to the decision to finally sift through the scattered hundreds and determine which to keep.  At that point I knew that we certainly wouldn’t even make half of them, for various reasons, so I took them all, most had claimed a kitchen drawer, and went through each one.  I filled a garbage bag for recycling of the ones which I didn’t want to continue to house and kept those that had a greater chance of an appearance on my kitchen table.  Out of that experience I am more choosy of recipes and books.  Thankfully the library system has many magazines and cookbooks which I borrow.  It saves me lots of money.  Just this week I pulled out a pile of loose recipes and booklets again and have begun the same process.  When they are just loose in a drawer it is highly unlikely that I will make them unless they are sorted in some way – there’s a reason for a table of contents in a cookbook!! 🙂  When it comes to looking for a new recipe to try I often don’t have time to sort through such a huge pile.  It becomes such a big task so I’ve narrowed down once again to only a handful and will make a better effort at beginning to cook-through them.  As I began this task this week I thought of a new cooking challenge for getting through these loose recipes.  So we will see how well received my cook-through challenge is in the next 12 months.  If it is a hit I may try some new type of cooking challenge after this one ends.

I have always loved print magazines and have had various subscriptions through the years.  For many of them I had been unable to give them up for recycling or pass onto others so they accumulated into quite a collection in my cookbook cupboard until a year ago.  I made a decision to go through all of the food magazines which I had in the cupboard.  I had about 4 years worth of Food Network magazine, some old Kraft magazines which they don’t print anymore, a few years of Allrecipes.com magazine and some other various booklets which I bought.  I’m also holding onto several years of Taste of Home and Cooking for Two magazines from when they began those magazines but I have them in a box.  Maybe I can sell those one day.  I have finally come to the realization that Food Network recipes are just not realistic to us and our lifestyle.  The recipes are exotic (to my terms anyway) and use rare and expensive ingredients which we just don’t eat.  At this point in my life I know what our tastes are and the things which we do/don’t or can/can’t eat.  I know that is the reason which keeps me going back to the vintage/older recipe books because their recipes were based on the typical rural households and the ingredients which are commonplace in them.  As for Allrecipes.com magazine I have kept a few issues which have lots of yummy recipes that I want to try and for other things I can visit their website.  The magazine only showcases recipes from the site so I’m not missing much by no longer subscribing to them.  I  coerced asked a friend to take the Food Network and Allrecipes.com magazines (I hope she’s enjoying them and found recipes that she will make)! :OP

I still enjoy looking through a print magazine versus internet though.  There’s something comfy about curling up on the sofa with a good magazine and turning each page to a new surprise.  I get super excited each year when I begin to see the Autumn, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Winter magazines displayed on the shelves in the stores.  They have always been my favorites.  Maybe for the reason that I enjoy that time of the year best; from October through New Year’s is my favorite.  Even when I had subscriptions to various food and home magazines those were my favorite issues and I seemed to keep them longer than all of the others (here are a few that I just haven’t been able to dispose of in some way).

If I find a good magazine with so many great recipes which I want to try I just can’t rip it apart or cut it up so I just keep the whole thing.  I have found many comfort food recipes in those issues.

I do know that once September arrives my eyes will once again peruse the magazine shelves.  Those colorful, wonderfully descriptive and yummy covers are really what draw me in to them; don’t they get you too?   I finally realized that this past November when I purchased the Food Network magazine.  I had ended my subscription over a year ago and had bought the issue from the newsstand but didn’t find much appealing inside once I got it home.  I’m done buying those.  (They sure know how to lure a cook into buying their magazine!)

Tell me…do you prefer printed magazines over the internet?  If so, are you buried under them too?  How about loose recipes?  Or have you restrained yourself from that dilemma?

Saturday night suppers at home are the absolute Best!!

I absolutely love staying home on Saturday night and cooking supper.

I can make anything I choose to with any ingredients which I desire, eat at the exact time I want to and I don’t have to wait in line for a seat at the table.

It is the best!!  This weekend was no exception.

I’m going to share my recipe for the fabulous (and healthy!!) meal which we ate.

It is a casserole using spaghetti squash, veggies and ground meat.  You can make this meatless if you choose but I always love adding ground venison.

I’ve very blessed to have a Father and Husband who love to hunt.  There is always some type of wild game in my freezer and venison is something which we really enjoy.

This is really a simple and rather quick dish to get together.  The flavor is AMAZING!!!  You will love it, I guarantee it!

To prepare spaghetti squash

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds.  (I kept some and want to try getting some plants to start for my garden this year)

Place the squash on a baking sheet, cut sides down, and bake for roughly 40 minutes (depending on the size of your squash it won’t take all of that time).  When the squash “flesh” is soft, remove from the oven and take off the baking sheet to allow it to cool.  When cool enough for you to handle shred the “flesh” by removing it from the skins with a fork and place into a bowl.

Turn your oven temp back to 350 degrees in preparation for baking the casserole.

While the spaghetti squash is baking in oven

While my squash is baking/softening the “flesh” in the oven I begin the rest of the casserole.

Take the ground meat of your choice (approx 1 pound) and brown in a bit of oil (I use olive oil) in a pan (I also sprinkle some granulated garlic or season-salt over my meat as it is browning in the pan).  Since venison is very lean meat I don’t have to worry about fat.  If you use ground beef/pork you will most likely have to drain off some fat when it is completely browned.  If you don’t want to use meat than just skip to the next step.

After the meat is browned add the following to the pan

( You can use whatever you want to here in the recipe; I will share with you what I use. I don’t measure these ingredients; I just use whatever I want to or use up whatever is in the fridge. )

1 can garbanzo beans

sliced black olives

1 clove garlic

cut up onion

1 pint home-canned Roma tomatoes (or you could use fresh if you want to)

chopped sweet peppers

sliced fresh mushrooms

After the meat and veggies are cooked in the pan for a while and some of the moisture has evaporated away just add all of this to the bowl with the squash.

Before mixing all together in the bowl add the following flavorings or use what you want or have in your kitchen

1/4 tsp Italian seasoning

some salt and freshly ground pepper

shredded colby-jack (or cheddar or other sharp flavor) cheese

I then mix everything together really well and place into a greased casserole dish and bake in the oven.

Bake it uncovered for approx 30 minutes or until it is the way you like it.  You can always add more cheese over the top and anything else you have on hand.

I really enjoy just using up what I have on-hand in my kitchen when I make casseroles like this.  You never know what flavors and ingredients will taste like together unless you try.

Enjoy!!

I’m going to cook this book

It’s become a tough decision for me.

I have so many vintage cookbooks as well as newer ones which I want to cook-through so deciding on a book for this challenge has become difficult.

But I have decided to cook-through my Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book which I acquired in the mid 1990’s.  You can read all about my love affair and collection of these cookbooks at this link: My BHG Collection

It is a book which I turn to again and again and have written all over the various recipes which I’ve already made with many notes on them concerning what I did to make them scrumptious in my kitchen.  I have begun looking through it and realized that there are still so many more recipes which I haven’t made but want to try so that is the reason I’ve chosen this book filled with over 1300 recipes.

I also have loose recipes inserted throughout and this poor thing is falling apart due to 20+ years of use but it is well loved and I do look to it for guidance on so many things while in the kitchen as well as for the tried-and-true standby recipes which I’ve made for years and which we enjoy so much.

The top cover has come away from the spine so my hubby taped it for me to at least keep it together

Most of the book is away from the spine but I keep it intact now with a rubberband!

I hope you all are looking through your books to choose the one which you will use for my fun challenge.

The first recipe category big-reveal will be posted on May 1, 2017.  Tell you friends and family; the more the merrier!

And a big THANK YOU for joining me on this fun challenge adventure!

🙂

The Chaotic Cooking-Through Challenge

I have been thinking of doing a ‘cook-through’ of one of my cookbooks.  Have you done this or been thinking of this challenge for yourself?

Recently I read some posts from a girl who is completing a challenge with a friend by cooking-through a popular cookbook.  It really sounds like a lot of fun but due to my personal circumstances it is a difficult thing for me to do with a friend.  So I was thinking of a virtual cooking-through challenge which I could do with friends from around the globe through my blog.  Many cookbook clubs or ‘cooking-through’ challenges rely on everyone cooking from the same book.  I have a bit of a twist in mind for this one.

I think that many of us have treasured cookbooks in our kitchens with so many wonderful recipes and we want to make everything in that one particular book.  It may be one handed through many generations of your family; given to you as a wedding or housewarming gift; a spur-of-the-moment purchase/gift for yourself of a cookbook from one of your favorite famous chefs; a cookbook which is geared towards including children and all family members to work together in the kitchen or maybe you want to immerse yourself into a new cuisine which has been tempting your taste buds of late.  Whatever the book, I believe that many home cooks have at least one which they treasure the most.  I have several in my vintage collection, including some previously owned by my family members who have passed on, which are always luring my eyes to their pages and wonderful old-fashioned simple, yet delicious, recipes.  My biggest issue at times is which book I would start with for a ‘cooking-through’ challenge!  🙂

Here are my ideas on this challenge which anyone can participate in.

First and foremost in this challenge – YOU choose the cook book which you would like to cook-through.  You don’t need to purchase a particular book (unless you want to) for my challenge.  I have faith that many of you who enjoy cooking may already own a book which is the first one you thought of when reading this post.  I want this to be a supportive atmosphere where we all can cook-through the book we want to (no matter the age of the printing of it or author or type of food) and yet share our experiences online via our blogs.   I know that sometimes just a little bit of encouragement and support from others is all we need to undertake and complete a challenge in our life (even if it may seem like a minor challenge to others).

On the first day of each month, for 12 months (hopefully beginning May 1, 2017), I will provide a blog post which gives a recipe category for that month.  I then challenge each of the participants who are following along to look through their book for recipes which could be included in that particular category and choose the ones to make in their own kitchen as time in their life will allow (because lets face it – we all have lives to live outside of the kitchen and away from our blogs; but we still must eat!).  You can make as many as you want to or are able to.  As you make those recipes you can blog about them on your site (photos optional but encouraged) and place a comment (with your post’s link) on, or ping back to, my monthly post on that category so others can find your posts.  If for any reason you and your family do not eat those types of foods you may also blog about the reasons why you do not partake.  There again, that is optional.

We can all support each other and give tips on recipes via blog posts and comments and discover new recipes to add to our collections.

As for the definition of ‘cooking-through’;  I let that up to you!   Each of us gets to define that for ourselves.  You may want to cook every single recipe between the covers while someone else will want to only cook a percentage of the recipes included in their book.  Or maybe you only want to cook some more recipes from a particular book with no thought to setting a goal for the amount that you will make out of that book.

You may decide to set some personal challenges for yourself.  Maybe involve the kids or just do this with your spouse or a friend.  You may want to follow the recipes exactly as written with no deviations or you may take some liberties in spices or alternative ingredients to fit into your dietary restrictions or possible food allergies.

Maybe you even want to challenge yourself to cook-through two books at once!

I let those things up to you because this should be a fun challenge for us all.

The only thing which unites us all for this challenge is that we will be cooking from the same recipe category in a particular month.

If you think you would be interested in doing this challenge please leave a comment below; or better yet, create a blog post which introduces the book you have chosen with a link to this blog post on my site.

No matter what you decide, happy cooking/baking in your little kitchen!!

Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book, First Edition from 1942

I love seeking out vintage cookbooks from the early and mid 20th century.

Last Spring while browsing through a book-corner in a farmer’s market building I found a 1942 edition (the first edition of this book) of the Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book.  I don’t recall ever seeing this cookbook before but was immediately captured by its vintage beauty and history and I knew that I had to add it to my growing collection.

The price written on the inside was a nice surprise as well!

For the age of this book it is in near perfect like-new condition with a few pages (beginning at page 653) which are away from the binding but are still included with the book.  Those pages are in the Frozen Desserts section of the book.

There were no other recipe clippings in amongst the pages, which I love to find, and I haven’t noticed any writing in the book either.   I so enjoy finding those types of things when I purchase a previously-owned vintage cookbook; it adds character to the history of that book and gives an insight into the cook who owned it before.

Recently I’ve looked on the internet to find that this book is being sold by some at prices upwards of $50.00 and so I am happy at what I consider to be a ‘steal’ of a buy.

There is so much history in these types of books.  For example, this book includes a Wartime Postscript in the front of the book which many people mention when discussing this particular cookbook.

And in the final paragraph of the ‘Foreword’ of the book you will see that there is mention of ‘our world at war.’

This is a nice bonus for me because I enjoy learning so much about the 1930’s and 1940’s War World 2 period and of the home front life as well.

I love all of the additional information which can be found in these older cookbooks apart from the hundreds of recipes included.  In fact, this book has about 2600 recipes in all as mentioned in the Introduction of the book.

Even today where would you find such a large volume of recipes with so many extras included (and a few photos to boot!)?!  It is a bit heavy to carry around but that isn’t something that I would do with this book anyway.

I don’t know if any of my family members had owned this book but I do know that the best recipes which I have ever used, and continue to use today, are those which were passed onto me from the ‘Greatest Generation’ and they are the ones which evoke the best memories which I hold so dearly to my heart.

If you have owned this book or learned to cook/bake through one of these, no matter the edition, I’d love to hear stories from you!   I also know that Woman’s Home Companion was a magazine for Women during those early years and I’ve read that some cookbooks like this one were given to Women when Encyclopedias were purchased.  I would love to know more regarding other ways that these were “sold” to American Cooks.  If you know of any stories please share.  You can read more about the magazine at Wikipedia.

Please leave comments below and thank you in advance!

A Chili Weekend (inside and out!)

This is the BIG weekend so many sports fans are waiting for.

The Super Bowl parties with lots of food!!!

My team didn’t make it (but oh so close!), so I’m rooting for the Falcons on Sunday.

I started my Super Bowl weekend party early today by making a crock pot full of yummy hearty chili!

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(Yes, that is steam rising off and not a photo trick!)

It is very, very good!  So yummy and just the right amount of flavor with not much kick (just the way we like it).

I will share this recipe with you so you have something to make for your weekend party or just for whenever the mood for chili strikes you.

Ingredients & Directions

1 1/2 pounds of ground meat (combination of whatever you enjoy; venison, pork, beef)

Cook the ground meat in a pan and place into your crock pot

To this add the following:

1 pepper, chopped

1/2 onion, diced

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 pint tomato sauce (or comparable size)

1 pint diced tomatoes, including the juices, (or comparable size)

1 small can tomato paste

1-2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Please note that you may tweak the spices to your liking and add/detract anything you enjoy in your version of chili.

And, as always….

Enjoy!

Homemade Apple-Cranberry Crumb Pie

After finishing off the Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie I just had to bake another pie.

Because a House just isn’t a Home unless there are some homemade baked goods in its kitchen, especially during the Holiday Season! 🙂

I took a recipe for an Apple-Cranberry Crumb Pie and tweaked it up a bit.

It is very yummy!  Not too sweet and not too tart; just perfect.

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As always, I made my own homemade crust so the following instructions will be for the pie itself.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Ingredients for the Topping

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

5 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into smaller pieces

Ingredients for the Filling

3/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tbsp cinnamon (or whatever amount you prefer; add nutmeg if you like it too)

3 medium to large size baking apples (I used Winesap)

1 12-oz bag fresh cranberries

Directions

Prepare topping by combining all ingredients, except butter, in a small bowl.  Mix well.  Add butter and use a pastry blender to combine into the mixture until there are small pea-size pieces.  Hold aside until filling is in the crust.

Prepare filling by whisking/sifting together the sugars, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Cut up the apples into small chunks/slices and put into a large bowl with the cleaned fresh cranberries.  Add the sugar/flour/cinnamon mixture and mix together well.  Place this into the prepared pie crust and then sprinkle the topping over all.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees and then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees for approx 40-50 minutes or until apples are tender and everything is bubbly.

Enjoy!

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My Favorite Filling (You call it Stuffing)

Here in PA Dutch Country, many people say ‘Filling’ rather then ‘Stuffing’ for that wonderful, tasty, scrumptious side next to the turkey.

Some people actually put it in the turkey but I don’t do that.  I prefer to make my Filling in a dish by itself.  My favorite is the Old-Fashioned type and recently we began adding mushrooms to it.  We absolutely love it!

You may desire to try something different this Thanksgiving so I will share my homemade recipe for Mushroom Filling.  It is not difficult to make and most people will have the simple ingredients in their kitchen at this moment.  It is definitely very tasty!

The ingredients listed will fill an 8″x 8″ dish (double or triple it to feed a crowd; I often do).

Ingredients

1 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 tsp of parsley (crushed) (or other herb you enjoy)

8 cups bread cubes (dried if you prefer)-Please note: I always take 16 slices of white bread and cube it up.  If I let it on the counter for a little while, uncovered, it will dry out a bit but I don’t worry about it if the bread isn’t dried and I never buy bread cubes to make this.

1/2 cup to 1 cup chicken broth, turkey broth or water (your preference)-I always use broth

Roughly 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (or use more if you really love them!)

Directions

In a saucepan cook celery and onion in butter til tender but not brown.

Saute your sliced mushrooms in a separate pan to remove the excess water in them and brown them a bit.

Add the mushrooms to the cooked celery and onion.

Stir in your parsley (or other herb) and add salt and pepper to your preference if you want to add it now.  I often just add fresh ground pepper and leave the salt out.  Your guests/family can add salt, at the table, if they want it and if you use gravy you probably won’t need any additional salt.

Add the celery, onion, mushroom mixture to the bread cubes in a large bowl and then begin gradually adding your broth and tossing everything together in the bowl.  You want everything to be moist but not extremely moist or it will need to bake longer in the oven.  If you use fresh bread, you won’t need to add as much broth to your Filling.

Place into a buttered 8″x 8″ pan and bake it uncovered in the oven with your other food.

A rough estimation on times and temps are as follows:

325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes

375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes

I just add it to the oven and keep an eye on it until it is as browned as I like it.  My turkey is typically done, out of the oven and “resting” before my Filling and that’s okay too.

If you have any questions, just ask.  This is a basic Old-Fashioned Filling recipe and you can tweak it as you like.  Add in anything you enjoy and see what you create!

Your Family will Thank You!!

(I recently baked a roaster-chicken for supper with this Filling, sweet potatoes, gravy and jellied cranberries on the side.  It was a mini-Thanksgiving meal and I often make this recipe throughout the year and definitely at the holidays.)

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Eating our way through Autumn; One Pumpkin Pie at a time.

I have always enjoyed Autumn here in Pennsylvania.

It is a beautiful time of year with colorful leaves, crisp cool air, sweatshirts to wear and festivals all around.

I also love getting back to making comfort foods and baking more in my kitchen.

For the last few years I’ve been baking through many different Pumpkin Pie recipes in my search to find the perfect one:

The first Pumpkin Pie I fell in love with.

My Grandmother’s.

I do have many of her recipes including the few cookbooks which she owned but like many of her generation, The Greatest Generation, the recipes to daily eating were kept hidden well in their memory and not written down.  I have tried many of the Pumpkin Pie recipes among her collection but I can’t seem to find the exact one which she made.  She may have used one of the written recipes which I’ve found but tweaked it a bit by adding or omitting something which I can’t seem to figure out.  I even asked my Aunt (my Grandmother’s daughter-in-law) if she had my Grandmother’s recipe.  She doesn’t but she did share the one which she has always made and it is very good as well.

One thing is certain.

My husband isn’t debating with me over all of the taste-testing which he’s been enduring through my many attempts at finding the ‘one!’ 😉

I recently purchased a blue used cookbook titled The Victory Binding of the American Woman’s Cookbook Wartime Edition.

It is a book full of recipes which use common household items found during the War time.  Nothing fancy is needed and there is a lot to be found within the covers among the nearly 1000 pages.

I have found a Pumpkin Pie recipe in there which has gotten me to the closest I think I can get to my Grandmother’s pie.  It seemed to have the appearance, taste and consistency of her Pumpkin Pie; from what I can remember anyway.

To usher in the Season and to share with you, here is the one from that book and I hope you will enjoy it this Holiday Season.

Happy Autumn!!

Ingredients

1/8 tsp salt

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 2/3 cups milk

1 1/2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin

1 Pie Crust

Directions

Sift dry ingredients together and stir into eggs.  Add milk and pumpkin.  Line pie pan with crust and pour in filling.  Bake in preheated oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes; reduce to 325 degrees and bake 35 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.   Cool.

Variation

Use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp ginger instead of pumpkin pie spice

Vintage Appliance Cookbooks

When I received my Grandmother’s cookbooks and recipes I found she had held onto several cookbooks/leaflets which were given when she purchased an appliance.  I remember them from when I was a child and would look through her cookbooks.  I didn’t realize at that time how rare and priceless they are.  Now I do.

Anytime I cruise through vintage items for sale I will look through these types of cookbooks for the unique ones which catch my eye or call to me through nostalgia.

 My husband is an International Harvester Collector so looking for anything which was made by IHC is something which we do all the time.

Here is an example of one of the cookbooks which they gave when you purchased their freezers.

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Did you know that?!  They made freezers as well as many other items in addition to their well-known tractors.  Quite a history behind that company alone.  It is part of our country’s history and so interesting to learn about.

GE appliances are part of my history and my family has owned many GE items; especially stoves.  My Grandmother had this among her collection:

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It is a little worn but still a keeper.

And who hasn’t heard about Kenmore?   Sears’ appliances were/are found in many homes and Kenmore has been a name that has been around for many years.

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These two are unique to me though:

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What do you have hiding among your vintage cookbooks?

1965 Cookie Cookbook

I purchased a vintage cookie cookbook in 2015 while cruising through a consignment shop.  The book was marked at $10.00 but I happened to be there when all cookbooks in that particular stall were 50% off and I decided to purchase it.  It has been a cool find!

The book is from 1965.  And just viewing the cover pulls you in and yet takes you back in time.

1965 cookie cookbook

As I sat down to stroll through the pages I came across many unique features and entries among them.

I love purchasing used vintage cookbooks because they tell a unique story.  There are almost always written notes among the pages and sometimes clipped recipes are used for page markers.  On the inside on the first printed page are someone’s notes marking her favorites so she would know exactly where to turn for these constant-makes.

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This page also tells me who published the book as well as indicating that it was from 1965 (MCMLXV).

I also found that the First Ladies of the time period had submitted their favorites.  This includes the First Lady of the White House at that time: Ms. Lyndon B. Johnson.

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I think that it is so cool that so many Women in Washington shared cookie recipes from their own kitchens which they made for their own families.

I had also found a recipe in the book from a woman who shares the same name as my one sister-in-law and the last name is quite unique.  I have given a copy of that page to my sister-in-law and my husband’s family found it so cool as well (and we know that it isn’t my sister-in-law who submitted that recipe since she wasn’t born until 1970 anyway!).

There were some other unique recipes which I didn’t know about until I found them in these pages.

Here is one of them:

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If there is anyone reading this who remembers these cookies or a story about them, I’d love to hear it.

And as this particular recipe shows you, there were notes as well on other recipes to tell you a little history about it.  I think that is a cool feature too.

There truly are over 500 cookie recipes in this little ‘gem’ which I’ve found and I’ve tried a few.  I think that once the weather gets cooler I will venture into a few more to add to my repertoire.

Happy Baking!

Weekend Breakfast – Crustless Quiche

When I make a pie I always make a homemade pie crust for it.  When I’m in the mood to make homemade quiche I prefer to make it crustless.

Here is my version of a crustless quiche which I enjoy making on the weekend (when I have extra time to make a yummy breakfast).  I always use fresh veggies for this and begin making it approximately 1 1/2 hours before I want to eat it.  This would be great for brunch or supper too!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients

fresh veggies-mushrooms, sweet peppers, zucchini

meat-crumbled sausage of choice

1 1/3 cups milk

6 eggs

shredded cheese of choice-I enjoy colby-jack cheese

salt and pepper-use as desired (or use another type of seasoning you enjoy)

Directions

saute the meat with the veggies in a pan to brown the meat and reduce the water from the veggies

whisk the eggs and add milk, cheese and seasonings of choice and whisk all together

Place the meat and veggies mixture in the bottom of a 9-10″ deep pie plate or other dish

Pour the liquid mixture over

Bake 45-60 minutes or until it is ‘set’ in the middle and browned to your liking

Enjoy!

(Here are few photos from my breakfast this morning)

🙂

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