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…

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!

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!

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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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!

Saturday’s Sweet Surprise – Mary’s Granola

I found a Granola recipe recently and tweaked it to my liking and have made several batches of this.  I love eating it over Greek yogurt and sometimes just as is.  I hope you will enjoy it too!

Ingredients:

2 cups oats (not quick cooking)

1/2-3/4 cup toasted/salted sunflower seeds

1 1/2 cups slivered almonds – or other nut(s) of choice (I add a bit more sometimes)

1/3 cup honey (add more if you like)

maple syrup (I just pour in as much as I like)

2 Tbsp canola oil (or oil of your choice)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla (I use pure vanilla)

1 cup dried cranberries or raisins or other fruit of choice

Directions:

Combine the oats, sunflower seeds and almonds in a large mixing bowl

Stir together in a small sauce-pot the following: honey, maple syrup, oil, cinnamon, salt and vanilla and bring to a slight bowl over medium heat.  Stir constantly as you are heating these ingredients.  Then pour over the dry ingredients and stir to coat.

Put aluminum foil (sprayed with some type of oil, such as Pam) onto a baking sheet (11″ x 17″  or larger)

Spread the granola mixture out evenly on the baking sheet and place in a preheated oven.

I start the oven around 375 degrees and just keep an eye on it for approximately 20 minutes.  Adjust the temperature as you see fit and bake for the length of time which you desire; depending on how dark/toasted/browned you want the granola.  You may want to stir the granola about half way through the baking time.

After you remove it from the oven, let it cool and put into an airtight container and mix in your fruit as you desire.

Enjoy!

Saturday’s Soup : Italian Sausage Vegetable Soup

It has been a cool, damp and rainy week here in the Mid Atlantic.  Perfect weather to have a hot steamy bowl of goodness!  I have been going through various magazines to cut out recipes to try and found a couple versions of an Italian Sausage Vegetable Soup.  I had everything in my house to make it and was eager to try it.  Yesterday I got the opportunity to make it and it was so very good!  I made it for my hubby, Father and myself and there isn’t much left (I always give my Father leftovers to take along home)!  It filled up my 4 quart slow cooker and I will make it again.  I decided to combine versions of the recipes’ various ingredients and created my own recipe for this soup.  And things could be swapped out and changed to suit the taste buds, budget or the ingredients in my kitchen at any time.  It may be a “soupy Saturday” where you live and you may want to make some for yourself too. 🙂

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 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 peppers, 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 didn’t have any this time but will try once I have some from my garden.

That is the rough outline of what I did to make the soup.  As I’ve stated several times, use up what you have in your kitchen or what you like.  You will have a delicious and warming soup!

To go with the soup, I also tried a new recipe from Better Homes and Garden magazine for Cheddar Herb Bread using white sharp cheddar cheese (I had some in my freezer) as well as dried rosemary (store bought) and my own dried parsley.  That was a fantastic bread!  I’m keeping that recipe too.  It smelled so good in the kitchen when it was baking and I reheated my piece in the microwave at supper time and put on some butter; yummy!

Enjoy!

Saturday’s Sweet Surprise – Orange Coffeecake

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I made this coffeecake last weekend and it is quite delicious!  

Perfect size for a small family too.

I reduced the temp to 375 and kept an eye on it; I was afraid that 400 was too hot.

Note: most vintage baking recipes will list shortening as an ingredient – use unsalted butter

In my kitchen Natural Salt is used for canning, cooking and baking.

Saturday’s Sweet Surprise : My Mother’s Italian Sugar Cookies

My Mother wasn’t a huge baker but one thing she often made were her Italian Sugar Cookies and it didn’t have to be Christmas either! 🙂  I even recall that when I had to do a cooking/baking demonstration in Home Economics class in high school I chose to make these Sugar Cookies and I still enjoy making them as an adult.  Often, though, I make them at Christmas but I always remember that these are my Mom’s.

Italian Sugar Cookies

Bake in 400 degree oven for approx. 10 minutes

Ingredients to make cookies

3/4 cup softened butter (I prefer unsalted)

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 1/4 cups flour

Cinnamon Sugar for coating rolled cookies

1/2 cup white sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon mixed together in a dish/bowl

Directions

Cream together softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

Sift together baking powder and flour and add to the creamed mixture.  Blend well.

Shape dough into small balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Put on baking sheet and into preheated oven.

Enjoy!

Saturday’s Sweet Surprise : Banana Muffins

There always seems to be bananas on the kitchen counter which are really ripe and no one wants to eat.  And the key to baking something with bananas is to have overly ripe bananas with brown spots or even using ones which practically have black peels (which I’ve done.  I’d rather ‘use them up’ versus throwing them out.); they give the best flavor and results in baking. Recently, I added dried cranberries to the muffin batter and haven’t turned back.  We love them.  Enjoy!

Banana Muffins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3-4 bananas (remember, overly ripe are the best for baking!)

3/4 cup sugar (white or raw sugar, whichever you prefer)

1 egg

1/3 cup butter, melted (please use butter!  i prefer unsalted but use what you have.)

Easy Peasy Directions (mixing everything by hand)!

Sift the baking powder, baking soda and flour together in one bowl; set aside

In a larger mixing-type bowl, mash the bananas (I use a potato masher) and then add the egg, sugar and melted butter and blend all together

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir well together

Here’s the fun part: add in whatever else you want to jazz up the muffins.  We love dried cranberries, but raisins or some type of nut would be great too.  Use your imagination!

For baking, I put baking cups into my cupcake tins versus greasing muffin/cupcake cups.  Do what you like.

Fill the cups about 2/3 full (or more if you want bigger muffins :D)

Bake approx. 20 minutes or until done

My BHG Collection

I do not remember cooking or baking much as a child.  My mother cooked for us and a baked item was a rare treat.  My grandmother, on the other hand, loved to bake a lot and we benefited from the goodies which came out of her kitchen.

As I got older and began dating the man whom I would eventually marry, my interest in cooking and baking took root inside me and became a hobby which I still enjoy today.  I began collecting recipes, books and magazines from everywhere and received cookbooks as gifts too.

In 1996, I was to be a bridesmaid in my (then) best friend’s wedding.  I decided to purchase kitchen goodies and a cookbook for her bridal shower gifts.  ‘What a great idea for a young bride and her husband to begin their journey in life together,’ I thought.  Also because I enjoy being in the kitchen and it is a necessity to eat, I wanted to give her those gifts.  I purchased a soft-cover Better Homes & Gardens cookbook which was updated for the 1990’s and the current edition for purchase.  I then just innocently began to look through that book and all the scrumptious recipes; a book which I didn’t own.  Yet.  At some point before that bridal shower, I decided to keep that cookbook and I didn’t give it to her.  That is a decision which I have never regretted.

So began my journey and love affair with the world of Better Homes & Gardens cookbooks, magazines and recipes.  A love which has endured all those years and still exists today.  That Better Homes & Gardens cookbook became my most favorite cookbook and it has shown its use.  It is falling apart but still my favorite.

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Even the pricing sticker is still there!

It became my first BHG cookbook but certainly not the last.  I eventually inherited my grandmother’s vintage cookbooks and recipe card boxes and among all of that stuff was this special spiral bound BHG book.

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I love the added bonus of information on the inside of the covers!

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20160331_201319Funky kitchen, don’t ya think?!

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More very important information which we can always use.

I have to admit my love affair with BHG is rather strong.  I have subscribed to their magazine for many years and have added more vintage editions of their cookbook to my ever-growing collection.

For Christmas one year, my husband gave me this very unique and rare edition.  I absolutely love it.  It has the Wartime Cooking Supplement which I’ve never seen before.  All of these new additions to my kitchen are pre-owned which gives them even more special character traits which I love.

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I must be very careful with this one especially, because the pages are spiral-bound but tear away easily.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much moving of the book and they tear away from their spine; but otherwise it is in great condition!

And recently at a flea market I purchased these older versions “for a song,” practically.  The woman who was selling them said they belonged to her recently deceased mother-in-law who was quite old when she died.  They were planning to move into her home but needed to start purging and selling things.  The one book cost $.50 and when I asked about the other, she said $.75 since it was bigger. 🙂  I wasn’t going to argue with those prices.

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This is for the one book but I can’t find a date in the other one; the pages must be missing.

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It looks like the reviews are ‘Super’ & ‘Terrific’ on this particular cake!  What do you think?! 🙂

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I just saw this recipe for the first time and they sound scrumptious!

I have compared editions and various recipes and it is cool to see the various changes through the years in the recipes; some have stayed while others just disappear.  It must be due to Homemakers’ requests and how families are eating through the decades.

I have borrowed newer BHG cookbooks from the local library but I don’t really care for any of them.  I love the older vintage ones with all that extra bonus stuff that’s included inside on the covers and the notes which previous owners include in their editions.  I will stay with my vintage collection of cookbooks and keep cooking and baking the way my mother and grandmother did.  Their food was the bomb!!

(By the way, the book holder which I used for these photos is a homemade cookbook stand which my hubby made for me!  I absolutely love it and it is rather large and very useful on the kitchen counter)!  🙂