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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Coconut Macaroons

Here's an easy cookie for the holidays using condensed milk. You could actually make these macaroons with just two ingredients but a little salt and vanilla really enhances their taste.  The flour is optional if, when baking your macaroons, they flatten out.  I suppose humidity in the air might affect the mixture in some way.  (That last statement is in no way a scientific fact--just a guess.)  The flour will bind the ingredients together so you keep that characteristic mound.  Try baking a test cookie before adding flour. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

Pooh  always liked a little something at eleven o'clock in the morning, and he was very glad to see Rabbit getting  out the  plates and mugs; and when Rabbit said, "Honey or condensed milk with your bread?" he was so excited that he said,  "Both," and then, so as not to seem greedy, he added, "But don't bother about  the  bread,  please." ~A. A. Milne
There's nothing better than fresh bread and butter with a thick layer of condensed milk spread on top.  I'm afraid poor old Rabbit would have had to buy lots of condensed milk if I had been there with Pooh.  But he'd probably have to take out a mortgage on his rabbit hole to satisfy the demands that Pooh and I would put on his larder.

Condensed milk is not an inexpensive ingredient in cookies and desserts.  Unless you are lucky enough to buy a good supply when you find a sale, the cans can run close to or even over $4.  I refuse to pay this amount and usually make my own.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Yellow Butter Cake

I'm always trying to find the perfect butter cake.  One that's moist and fluffy and just feels and tastes right in the mouth.  I hate a dry cake and I suppose everyone does, too.  I've had a recipe for a 2-Egg Butter Cake in my box for years but it's not that perfect blend of everything that's right with cake.  After some research I changed the recipe some and this is what I came up with.  I don't know if it's a perfect cake but it's a better cake. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lemon Squares

My friend, Patricia introduced me to these lovely lemon squares many years ago.  She would make these in a tiny kitchen in her very small basement apartment she shared with her husband.  I could have eaten the whole pan but I asked her for the recipe instead.  She made them using a packaged lemon pie filling mix as do most people.  I've been making homemade filling lately and I'll share that recipe as well.

These are not the lemon squares you'll find on the Food Network but you do find them at Newfoundland homes and parties.  The coconut shortbread base and crumb topping are perfect with the luscious lemon filling.  Mmmmm. . . lemon and coconut.  That's tropical enough to make you forget about winter. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tofu Noodle Soup

When I looked out the window yesterday morning I knew it was a soup kind of day.  The storm had started the night before and we awoke to a miserable day with snow mixed with rain and high winds.  We were fortunate, I guess, as my brother-in-law who lives only 5 kilometres farther down the bay spent half the morning plowing and scooping his driveway.  Schools were closed, the RCMP were advising drivers to stay off the roads, the neighbour's roof shingles were flying all over the road (the house on the right) but the birds were flapping about as happily as could be.  The little black specks on the snow and in the tree on the left side of the picture are our neighbourhood Starlings.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Whole Wheat Bread

I've been making bread since I've been married and I made it for years using a large bowl, kneading by hand and using traditional active dry yeast.  Then I discovered instant rise yeast and my bread baking time was almost cut in half.  I love it and regardless of what the experts say about regular yeast imparting a better flavour to the bread, I'm all for progress.  I still give the bread a rise after mixing it but the time is so much shorter than before.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mrs. Spracklin's Carrot Rolls

Mrs. Spracklin was my father's cousin.  We lived next door to each other and I guess, as a child, I saw her nearly every day of my life. I never called her anything other than "Mrs. Spracklin" which irritated my father.  He would always tell me to call her "Aunt Beth" because she was my cousin.  ("Aunt" being a term of respect towards an elder female cousin.)  I could never bring myself to call her "Aunt" and it wasn't because she wasn't a nice lady.  To me she was a tall imposing woman who knew what she was about and the "Mrs." title just seemed appropriate to my young mind.  

Mrs. Spracklin was a wonderful cook and I loved going next door to taste anything she happened to be cooking or baking at that time.  Every day she made a large dinner for her family and her dining room table was usually graced by her husband, two sons, two daughters-in-law, several grandchildren, and usually a couple of hired men who worked for the family's businesses.  I don't know if she ever sat down with them as she was always busy dishing up the meal. If my memory is correct Mrs. Spracklin started every dinner with soup, then continued with a main course and ended with a dessert.  No one ever went away from her table hungry.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Vegetable Stew

I always liked stew.  Even as a child stew was a favourite meal.  I guess it was partly because I loved gravy, vegetables and meat.  I've since become vegetarian but still crave the comfort of a bowl of beef stew.  And so I make stew.  Sometimes I sauté mushrooms to take the place of the meat in stew but more recently I've found this very nice and tasty fake beef, a Blue Menu product by President's Choice (Loblaws).  Don has requested stew for dinner so I thought you'd like to see how I make stew.  I'm serving the stew with biscuits.  You can get the recipe here

Making stew is more a process than a recipe and the type and amounts of vegetables are interchangeable.   I tend more towards root vegetables as I like the traditional beef stew style. So here goes. . .

Baking Powder Biscuits

When I was a little girl my mother would make these biscuits by the pan-full.  I couldn't wait for them to come out of the oven so I could slather on the butter and jam and eat to my heart's content.  Mom would make them with the smallest cutter and the little golden biscuits just begged to be eaten in excess, which I gladly obliged.  

These biscuits are equally at home with jam and butter as they are with a slice of cheese or a smear of peanut butter.  But I think they are best right from the oven with butter melting over the soft ragged insides of the biscuit.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Graham Coconut Squares or Snack Cake

Here's a quick and easy square or snack cake for the festive platter. I made two batches this morning because I'm freezing them for Christmas.  If you use the packaged graham wafer crumbs they don't take much more than the time it takes to melt the butter and beat the egg. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Linda's Chocolate Coconut Snowballs

In Newfoundland Chocolate Coconut Snowballs are as synonymous with Christmas as Santa Claus.  We just call them Snowballs and they can be found in every grocery store, bakery and most convenience stores in the province.  But, of course, homemade is best.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Orange Ambrosia Shortbread Cookies

A powdery sprinkle of snow this morning reminds me Christmas is just around the corner. It's time to start baking those wonderful goodies associated with the season.  I'm going to start off with shortbread but not just any ordinary shortbread--Orange Ambrosia Shortbread.  Ambrosia was once thought to be food for the gods. Now, doesn't that sound grand. But it's not the name that make these so good it's the taste and smell.   

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Bernice's Easy Brownies

These brownies harken back to my childhood, although I didn't think I was a child at that time.  I was an employed teenager, babysitting 3 adorable little kids for the summer. Their mom, Bernice was re-entering the job market and asked me if I'd be interested babysitting for the summer.  Oh, was I ever interested!  The money wasn't too bad--I think it was something like $20 a week, just enough to make me an independent working woman.  The four of us, Greg, Jackie, Jennifer and I, spend a lovely summer together playing outside, reading, traipsing off to the library or park, making crafts and listening to the songs of Gilbert and Sullivan on the dining room stereo.  Even today if I hear "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General" or "Three Little Maids From School Are We" I immediately think of that year with the Morgans.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Tomato Stew with Cheese Dumplings

I'm rather partial to canned tomatoes and as a child I'd often eat them cold from the can but on a chilly fall or winter day I'll give up the cold tomatoes and trade them in for this stew.   The tender cheesy dumplings almost melt into the tomato broth and give extra substance to the dish.

The recipe looks long and involved but it really isn't.  When I was working, getting something on the table quickly was often the order of the day.  I guess this is how the recipe came about.  The stew is  quick to make (faster than ordering pizza) and cheap as well.  Depending on how fast you can open a couple of cans and chop onions and mushrooms, it can be ready in 30 or 40 minutes.  The cheese can be totally eliminated if you prefer not to have that, but I really like cheese and it compliments the tomatoes perfectly.  The recipe makes 4 servings but if you'd like to stretch it out to serve 6 just add an extra can of tomatoes. 

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Orange Jelly Dessert

My family has always been partial to jelly type salads and desserts and I've been happy to make them but since the boys have grown up and have families of their own I seldom make these dishes anymore.  But the other day I was thinking I'd like something jiggly for dessert but didn't want to make up a sugary Jell-o (not that I'm opposed to sugar in desserts!!!).  I was thinking more about something fruity but not a baked dessert.  I knew I had a recipe for a homemade orange gelatin dessert that I'd never made before.  So no time like the present to try it out.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Maggie's Mushroom Roast

It's a dreary, cold, rainy day and I wanted something warm and comforting for dinner.  So I made a delicious tomato soup and grilled (real) cheese sandwiches.  Then my thoughts turned to the next day and what I would have for Sabbath Dinner.  I was rifling through the recipe box and came across this Mushroom Roast.  I haven't had it in a long time but I've always liked it. Funny thing, just the other day my friend Violet asked me if I ever made this roast anymore.