Rss

Archives for : September1956

Zucchini, Squash and Corn Casserole

1.5 lbs. yellow squash cut into 1/4″ thick slices

1.5 lbs. zucchini cut into 1/4″ thick slices

2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. butter

2 cups of diced onion

2 cups of corn kernels

6 oz. grated cheddar cheese

1/2 cp. sour cream

1/2 cp. mayo

2 large eggs, beaten

2 tsps. black pepper

1 tsp salt

1.5 cups breadcrumbs

1 cup of grated parmesan cheese

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Into a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add yellow squash, zucchini and enough water to cover vegetables.  Boil for 5 minutes, drain and gently dry.

Melt 2 Tbsps. butter in a skillet over medium heat and sauté onion for 10 minutes.

Stir together squash, onion, corn, cheddar cheese, sour cream, mayo, eggs, pepper and salt. Spoon into a greased 13×9 casserole dish.

Melt 2 Tbsps. butter and stir in bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle bread crumbs on top of casserole.  Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown.  Let stand 15 minutes prior to serving.

Another Casserole Please

I could not decide on the theme for the card party scheduled for my house.  Being the hostess is a serious responsibility.  Mags had done a great job with her special party to introduce Chloe to the group.  It was fall, and that usually makes it easy to plan a theme.  Little did I know how helpful Steve would be in considering what to choose.  Steve is not really picky but definitely has his likes and dislikes.  I never serve anything with fruits that he doesn’t recognize and the vegetables need to be off the same list his mother served.  It was a short list, which didn’t really help.  This time of year there were still lots of good end of summer vegetables at the market, so I pulled his mother’s Squash Casserole recipe out of the recipe box to use up the zucchini and squash I had in the icebox.  The corn would be easy to find and serving it off the cob would be a nice change from the summertime.  The great thing about a casserole is the fact that it can be put together earlier in the day and popped into the oven at the last minute.  That left me time to sit and contemplate life.  That’s what I was calling my new journaling time. I prepared the ingredients and placed them all together following the recipe perfectly.  I had made it many times without the corn, but it was a nice addition and Steve always liked it.

My contemplation time was still my own secret and from time to time I read back through my writings and didn’t recognize words that I had written just a couple of months ago. I’m not sure if that is normal, but I didn’t let it bother me.  I could have been sleep-deprived when writing some of those notes.  I realized that I needed to purchase a new composition book for my journaling since I was nearing the end of my current one. That is a lot of writing for me.  Sometimes I would think of a topic that I wanted to write about early in the day and by the time I could find time to actually write it down, it had disappeared or changed completely.  I had heard about real writers getting “writer’s block” but figured that I would never be a real writer because that never happened to me.  I always had a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head ready for the page by the time I actually sat down to write.  Part of the problem was that I didn’t want anyone else to know what I was doing and laugh at me.  I also liked having at least one secret just about myself.  I must remember to stop at the stationary store and look for a new journal.  Maybe one a little thicker next time.  My life was starting to be like a casserole; pieces of it were put together to enjoy later. That thought gave me my theme.  Casseroles.  Everyone liked them, everyone understood them.

After dinner, Steve thanked me for making the casserole.  It is always nice to know that my cooking is appreciated.  Children will eat or not eat based on their short list of things they like.  Adults are supposed to be more open to new foods, eat things because they are good for them or be polite and try a few bites.  Luckily, everyone enjoyed the casserole.  A success in many ways.

Maude’s Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 18-24 button mushrooms, scrubbed clean, stems separated from the caps, stems finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, minced, about 2 Tbsp
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp sherry
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1 Preheat oven to 375°F

2 Make filling: Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the chopped mushroom stems and the onion for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and sprinkle with salt. Stir well and sauté 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat and add the parsley, thyme and breadcrumbs. Pour in the sherry.

3 Stuff mushroom caps: Toss the mushroom caps with olive oil. Fill each mushroom with the stuffing, and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over each mushroom.

I Thought It was the Wine

Don’t ask me how these things happened, they just did.  Chloe heard a shortened description of our card parties as I described them at our dinner party.  The guys both had smirks on their faces as I explained the importance of the parties to bond with the other mothers in the neighborhood.  I glossed over the alcohol intake that helped us not stress about who actually won the games, and mentioned how the creativity of our menus resulted in better meals for our families.  Chloe clapped her hands in delight and spoke rapidly in French, then started to cry. I had no idea what she was saying, but Francis’ face lit up also.  After the mini-celebration ended, Francis told Steve and me how grateful he was that we had asked her to join the group.  Francis reached across the table and gently held Chloe’s hand as she wiped away tiny tears.  After she composed herself, Chloe told us herself how grateful she was to be included also.  Francis went on to say that they had never felt at home in the states until recently.  Having a proper home gave them great hope that they could finally put the hard times behind them.  Being away from home must have been difficult for Chloe, and Francis seemed to understand the sacrifices they had to make to create a new life with Marie Claire.  They wanted Marie Claire to have a better world.  We all sat quietly for a couple of minutes.  Steve proposed a toast to having a better life for our children and we all clinked our wine glasses.

Mags was the hostess for the first card party that Chloe attended while the girls were at school.  Marie Claire had been enrolled at the same school as Daisy and the two youngsters held hands as they walked to the bus stop on the corner.  It was good to have the girls busy for the day so that we could both enjoy ourselves. I brought a big batch of my Stuffed Mushrooms as an appetizer.  Mags had made room in the oven for them so we could enjoy them piping hot.  Thoughtfully, Mags served French wine instead of a cocktail. Long story short, we never played cards that afternoon.  We ate delicious food, drank many glasses of wine, asked Chloe a lot of questions and enjoyed life.  It seemed fitting for such a beautiful fall day.  As we were leaving to walk across the street to return home, Chloe linked her arm in mine, leaned toward me and thanked me.  I surprised her by answering in some French that Francis had taught me and called her “mon ami.”

Cinnamon Apple Cake

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup softened butter (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups peeled and grated apples
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a specialty cake pan.
  2. Sift cinnamon, flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs, butter, oil, vanilla and granulated sugar until smooth.
  4. Stir in flour mixture until well combined.
  5. Stir in apples gently until combined.
  6. In a separate small bowl, stir 4 teaspoons cinnamon and 4 tablespoons brown sugar together and set aside.
  7. Pour half of the cake batter into the prepared specialty pan. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the cake batter and swirl through with a knife. Repeat with the remaining cake batter and brown sugar mixture.
  8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes. Top will be golden brown.
  9. Allow to cool completely before turning out.

Baking Duo

Zettie Louise had requested Junior work at her house on Saturday.  I guessed that yardwork might be involved since the leaves had started to fall early this year.  Stevie dressed in a pair of dungarees and older sneakers with his favorite baseball cap firmly planted on his head. A couple of hours after he went to Zettie Louise’s, I left with Daisy to pick up some groceries.  I noticed that the leaves on Zettie Louise’s lawn were untouched.  When I returned from shopping, Steve was working in the garage and helped me carry in the bags.  Steve said that Junior was still at Zettie Louise’s, so Daisy and I went inside to spend some girl-time baking.

The kitchen warmed up quickly, so I cracked the window over the sink to let in some cool air.  Daisy was wearing her new little baker apron and standing on the step stool next to the sink with me.  I planned on making an cinnamon apple cake.  We could have it for dessert tonight and tomorrow.  I wanted to use a recipe borrowed from my aunt.  I remember that she used to serve it at the wake after everyone’s funeral, so it must be a keeper. The cake was light and sweet and didn’t need a frosting because it had a swirl of cinnamon and brown sugar through it.  Daisy could help by practicing her apple slicing. I cut off a small portion of one of the apples for her to use.  I kept a special little knife for her and her skills were getting better every time she practiced. I cleaned and peeled the apples and entertained Daisy by making long curvy peelings.  We were going to save the peelings to put in the backyard to feed the neighborhood squirrels.  I liked this recipe because the apples were actually grated on my box grater and distributed in the batter. When the batter was together, Daisy lovingly scooped the grated apples into the cake.  The house smelled delicious as it baked and Daisy washed the dishes diligently using lots of water.  I want her to be a good cook.

With my recent change of view about cooking, I wanted to try and pass on some better feelings about cooking for a family.  Eventually, Daisy went outside to the garage to “work” with daddy as I started preparing dinner.  I heard some conversation in the garage and went out to check on who was visiting.  Zettie Louise and Junior were holding  a plate of cookies and offering them to Steve and Daisy.  As usual, Zettie Louise surprised me by doing something unusual and enlightening.  When Junior saw me, he proudly turned his plate toward me to show me the cookies he baked with Zettie Louise.  They were golden brown and delicious looking; I tasted one and found it yummy.  As Zettie Louise started to leave, I thanked her for baking with Junior.  She opened my eyes to another possibility that I had not even thought about.  Zettie Louise smiled and thanked me for letting Junior spend the day with her.  She was very comfortable with Junior and he seemed to appreciate her.  Her actions were changing his view of the world too and showing him new possibilities. So many changes for all of us.  Just when I thought I knew my world, it widened a little more.  And it was good.

Life is a Process

In order to get to know Chloe and Francis better, I decided to have a dinner party.  Chloe agreed that Marie Claire could stay overnight and I would feed the kids earlier, which would give Chloe time to get ready for dinner also.  While I fed the three children, Steve changed for dinner.  I knew that he would watch them while I finished getting myself ready.

It may have been a little bold having Chloe over to eat but she didn’t seem so snobbish about what she ate so far.  Mags had asked me the other day about inviting her to the card parties, since we were getting ready to start up again.  I thought it was a good idea even if Chloe didn’t play cards right away.  She would liven up the group with some new stories while we learned more about her.  I planned on running the thought by Chloe at dinner.

Since there was a hint of a chill in the air, I thought that I would try to make French Onion Soup.  The recipe had a handful of ingredients, but it took a long time, hours, in fact.  Not that much had to be done but a little stirring from time to time to soften and cook those onions.  And those onions wouldn’t cut themselves.  I was definitely suffering for my craft.  While the onions were starting to cook, Chloe knocked at the back door to ask a question about whether Steve would be wearing a tie at dinner.  Francis was unsure of the dress code for dinner parties since they hadn’t been to many recently.  It was at that point that I realized that Chloe felt at home in my kitchen.  She peeked into the Dutch oven on the stove and gently moved the onions around.  I was stunned when she commented on the beauty of the onions.  Chloe regarded cooking as an art and I had always thought of it as another task.  She gently murmured to herself about “the process, the process.”  She had a genuinely delighted look on her face as she leaned over, capturing the smell of the onions by drawing the air towards her with her hand.

A few minutes after Chloe left, I took the lid off the pot and tried to mimic her gesture.  I needed to slow down a little and take a mental note or two.  Cooking should be satisfying for the cook and the diners.  This thought could change my whole outlook on meal preparation.  I felt a little silly all alone in my kitchen but I leaned my head toward the onions and repeated my new mantra – the process, the process – as a small smile of satisfaction crossed my lips.

Cherry Pineapple Dump Cake

Dump Cake Ingredients

  • 1 can (21 Oz.) Cherry Pie Filling
  • 1 can (15 Oz.) Crushed Pineapple
  • 1 box (about 18 Oz.) Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • Whipped Cream topping

Preparation

Dump cherry pie filling and crushed pineapple into baking dish. Stir together.

Sprinkle cake mix over the top of the fruit. Slice margarine and butter and distribute over the surface of the cake mix.

Bake this concoction at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Top with whipped cream.

 

Dump the Whole Box

Although my heart and head wanted to create something from my newfound French cookbook, lack of time recently forced me into an easier choice for dessert.  I try to bake at least one cake a week since it can last for a couple of nights for dessert.  Summertime usually meant a quick bowl of ice cream at night, but the fall requires something a little more substantial.  I liked baking cakes and had a few that were easy and reliable.  Everyone has a different favorite, so at least one family member was happy with the choice each time.  The range was endless – chocolate, vanilla, carrot, marble, etc.  Sometimes I even make a cake from the new box mixes.  In fact, I talked a modified box cake recipe away from Judy Anne last week.  Judy Anne, being the good southern girl she is, would not want everyone to know that she used a box cake. But I don’t see any shame in using some convenience foods.  We have busy lives and the new developments in food are a sign of progress.

Emmy Wade and Daisy were playing dolls in the next room and Judy Anne and I were enjoying a cup of coffee in the kitchen.  Judy Anne was talking about how much they enjoyed their backyard pool this summer.  I picked up Judy Anne’s recipe box and perused  it while she talked. I have discussed my interest in having a backyard pool often enough to be boring by now, so I half-listened while I flipped through the box. I stumbled upon a recipe just called Dump Cake.  Not an appealing name for sure, but the few ingredients listed drew my attention.  Five real ingredients and a quick whipped topping. One of the ingredients was a box of cake mix.  Wow, this was not Judy Anne at all.  I was trying to think back to when she might have served this at a card party and remembered a couple of times that a semi-nondescript, but delicious, cake made its way to the buffet table.

When Judy Anne was done with the highlights of a backyard pool, I held up the card, turned it toward her and asked her about it.  She snatched it from my hand and tried to hide it in her apron pocket.  I protested and asked to see it so I could write down the recipe.  A very reluctant Judy Anne finally handed over the card and I took an empty index card from the back of the box to copy the recipe.  Judy Anne didn’t need to be embarrassed about the recipe.  Good housewives are efficient with time and this would be a great time-saver for me.  Of course, Judy Anne made me swear that I wouldn’t tell her husband, Stubs, about the cake.  That was easy, since Stubs and I have never had a conversation about baking and I didn’t expect any future ones either.

The cake was as easy as its name.  No real measuring, so no real mess.  I made sure to place the box and cans in the bottom of the trash can and no one was the wiser.  The cake was moist and delicious and the kids and Steve all liked it.  My only real embarrassment came the next day when Chloe came over to borrow some onions for a soup she was making.  Mags and I were sitting at the kitchenette enjoying the cake with some coffee. Chloe saw the cake and asked to try it.  I had already told Mags about the recipe since I don’t keep anything secret from her.  I tried so hard to let Chloe know how not-special the cake was, but she insisted.  I cut a small slice and handed it to her.  Chloe closed her eyes and tasted it as if she was expecting something ultra delicious.  She said something in French that I didn’t recognize and I thought that I probably ruined my reputation with her as a baker.  When Chloe opened her eyes, she pronounced the cake a great success and told me that I must share the recipe.  Mags looked at me and I looked at her and burst into nervous giggles.  Chloe looked at both of us strangely and rightly so, since we  were surprised that Chloe didn’t recognize my deceptive baking choice.  After I let Chloe in on the recipe, we all had a good laugh together.  Chloe said that she was used to making alternative choices in baking since there were so few good ingredients available during the war.  I hadn’t thought about that before; rationing had affected all of us differently.  Chloe still wanted a copy of the recipe for her “American” recipe box she was making.  I swore her to silence about the recipe since Judy Anne would never want everyone on the block to know about her shortcut. Chloe promised that she would create a new name for the recipe in order to hide it better.  That might work, the name certainly needed help.

School Supplies for Everyone

When the school year starts, it has a natural rhythm.  For the children, I always purchase new school and play shoes, new school clothes and school supplies.  The newness makes the process exciting, like an adventure.  For children, each school year brings its own ups and downs with recess worries, homework dread, friendship stress and the business of going to school as practice for a future career.  For me, I get overwhelmed with  making sure I buy the right clothes and supplies without picking up a trend that might be over by Halloween.  I mostly stick with the tried and true classics.  Personally, plaids and corduroy will always signal fall to me.

We managed to get through the trip to the shoe store and Junior insisted on polishing his shoes even before wearing them.  I encourage the children to wear their new footwear around the house for a couple of hours every day before school starts to eliminate the need to treat blisters during the first week of school.  Daisy likes to tap around the kitchen anyway, so it’s fun with a purpose.  I still follow that shopping trip to a treat at Meisel’s for ice cream.  It takes the sting off of it for all of us.  Junior wasn’t happy again with any of the new pants that I purchased and I gave up asking him what he would pick out.  That question has no answer that works for school clothing.  Daisy is always satisfied with a few new jumpers and I found anklets this year with little embroidered flowers on them.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of embroidering her socks myself; they were adorable.  The school supplies gave the children a chance to choose in terms of pencil holders, school bags and lunch pails.  This usually took the longest but I didn’t rush them; these were long-term decisions.

With my new perspective in cooking, I thought I would try and pack better lunches also.  Most lunches are so boring that I could pack them in my sleep.  Junior still had this thing going with peanut butter and jelly but now included strawberry jelly as a second choice after grape.  I am going to try and include more cut up veggies, like carrots and celery, in their boxes. The same ranch dressing that I used on salads all summer makes a great dip for little veggies so I bought some small containers to pack a little to help increase the chances that the vegetables wouldn’t get traded. I can see Daisy enjoying the dip as long as she can talk with her pals while eating.  She is the type to share.

The only surprise occurred when Steve asked the children what they were looking forward to in school this year.  There was a moment of silence as they paused to actually think about their answers.  I had no idea what they would say either.  Sadly, it’s not a question I ever thought about asking before.  As they spoke, my mind moved forward to how to integrate this kind of question more into the dinner conversation.  The children were having experiences away from us every day.  Up to this point, I knew what happened every minute of every day of their life.  Now, most days, a teacher would know more about their days than me.  Something was ending for me and I felt that gulph getting wider each year.  I wonder how I could fill that void; what kind of supplies do I need?