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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mandarin Orange Cake

This is one of the fastest cakes you'll ever put together.  I haven't forgotten the butter in the ingredients because there's none in this cake except in the topping.  Strangely enough, although it is called a Mandarin Orange Cake, there is very little orange flavour in it.  I suppose you could add grated orange peel but I like it just as it is.  Use it as a snack cake or dress it up for company and serve it warm with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Call Them Raisin Buns But You May Know Them As Scones

I've had this tea bun recipe since I started teaching away back in 1976 and I've made it hundreds of times since then.  I've changed it a little over the years but it's basically the same recipe.  The home economics teacher passed it on to me after I told her they were the best I'd ever had.  I do believe this was one of the recipes she had used with her class and that's probably where I was eating them.  These tea buns are actually scones and not buns or biscuits.  Scones usually contain eggs, sugar and milk while biscuits are not usually as sweet and may not contain any sugar at all.  And biscuits don't have as much liquid and often don't contain eggs.  As well, scones are more cake-like than a biscuit because of the extra liquid.  But where I live they are referred to as tea buns or raisin buns and are eaten any time of the day, usually with a cup of tea or glass of milk. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Good Old Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese must be my all-time favourite food. It has been for many years.  I could eat it every day, but once or twice a month is probably a healthier choice.   I'm not talking about that blue-boxed stuff with the packet of neon orange powder that so many kids like, but real Macaroni and Cheese made with elbow noodles, and layers of cheesy goodness, all bubbling and baked together with chewy, crisp edges and corners.  When I was a kid I once asked Mom why she didn't make the boxed stuff and she promptly and matter-of-factly replied, "Because it isn't real food."  That settled the matter for me.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Special K Roast

Special K Roast is one of those recipes that everyone makes just a little bit differently than anyone else.  I have at least three different recipes for the same roast and if I hunted through my books and papers I'd probably come up with another three or four.  The ingredients that remain the same are Special K cereal, cottage cheese, onions, eggs and nuts and even those are not "written in stone".   I've made this using Rice Krispies and even corn flakes, walnuts, pecans, almonds and one time I even used peanuts.   Some recipes have copious amounts of butter and onion soup mix, which I find makes the roast much too salty and greasy, but someone likes it that way or else the recipe wouldn't be around.  The seasonings range from George Washington Broth to seasoning salt to dissolved bouillon cubes to dry onion soup mix--almost anything with a salt base will do.  Some recipes call for soy sauce and others don't. And don't forget the low-fat versions using egg whites or even tofu.  The variations seem to be limitless.  But, whatever way it's made, everyone seems to like this vegetarian version of a meat loaf. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Perogy Casserole

The first time I tasted perogies was at my friend, Cheryl's house.  Our family was invited to their home for dinner and homemade perogies were on the menu.  I knew I'd love them before I even tasted them because they were filled with potatoes and cheddar cheese, fried in butter and served with onions and sour cream.  Oh, my, what's not to like?  Don, on the other hand, referred to them as "those slimy things" and never really warmed up to them for many a meal.  He likes them now and actually eats them without any undue stress.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Baker's Frosting

As today is Valentine's Day and I have a few cupcakes in the freezer that need frosting, I thought I'd share another icing recipe.  Some people call icing, "frosting" and vice versa.  Whatever you call the stuff it should be nice and creamy and, of course, sweet but, not too sweet.  That's a difficult thing to achieve as the main ingredient in icing/frosting is sugar.  I've had this recipe in my box for years and I've made it now and then over the years and I've always been pleased with how it turns out and it actually doesn't taste as sweet as many icings as the base of this recipe is a cooked milk and flour paste.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mrs. Elliott's Fluffy Whipped Frosting

Mrs. Elliott was my landlady the first two years I lived in town.  She and her husband were very kind to me while I was waiting for my teaching certification to be approved so I could get paid.  School started in September and it wasn't until the end November that I received a full paycheque, which thankfully included all the back pay that was due.  During that very lean time the Elliotts were patiently waiting for the rent due on the apartment.  Not many people would do that.  The rent was $200 but I could only afford to pay them fifty dollars each month because I was only receiving a small advance on my salary.  I guess they breathed a little easier once I paid them the back rent and assured them there would be no more interruptions in the payment schedule.  I know I was really happy to get a full cheque each payday.

The apartment was very convenient for me because it was next door to the school and was furnished with the essentials of a stove, refrigerator, table and chairs, living room sofa and a bed.   I wasn't long stocking the cupboards when the "big money" arrived and was soon baking and cooking up a storm for my new boyfriend, Don and for anyone else who happened to be visiting.

Mrs. Elliot must have smelled the aroma of my cooking achievements (and failures) wafting through the floorboards to the upstairs area of the house because one day she met me as I was coming through the door of the basement entrance with a recipe for a wonderful cake she'd eaten the night before at some party or church activity.  It wasn't actually the cake but the frosting that had been put on an ice cream angel food cake that had been served at the party.  She explained how the angel food cake had been layered with ice cream or some kind of custard and then frosted all over with this fluffy meringue frosting.  She encouraged me to try it and I must say it did sound like a  lovely company-type dessert to make. 

The recipe in Mrs. Elliott's handwriting except for my scrawl on the bottom.

The recipe languished in my recipe box until just a short time ago.  Many times I would take it out, read it and think, "I'll make that one day."  Well, "one day" came and I was very pleased with this soft, billowy, not too sweet icing.  It's really a boiled or a type of 7-minute frosting with the exception of no granulated sugar in the recipe.  Oh, there's sugar but it's in the form of corn syrup.  (Now don't get too bent out of shape.  Corn syrup is not the same as high fructose corn syrup.  You know about families.  There's the good cousins and the bad cousins. You can't even buy high fructose corn syrup in most supermarkets.) 

As Mrs. Elliott didn't give too many instructions on making this icing I took the liberty of adding to them.  I don't serve raw eggs in desserts (or in any recipe) and I don't think this recipe was meant to use the eggs raw so I used the method of heating the eggs and sweetener to 160 degrees F/71 degrees C, which kills any harmful bacteria.  Most of the time I just use pasteurized eggs whites which are even safer if you don't have a thermometer and they also eliminate the need to find something to do with the egg yolks.  

I've doubled the amounts so you can have enough to not only frost but fill a cake as well.  If you only want to cover a cake and use a different filling, use half the ingredients as in the original recipe.

Fluffy Whipped Frosting
2 egg whites
Dash of salt
1 cup white corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the egg whites, salt and corn syrup in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water.  Stir constantly until the thermometer reaches 160 degrees (or until the sugar is completely dissolved if using pasteurized eggs).  Transfer the hot egg white mixture to the bowl of your beater and beat until soft peaks form.  Add the vanilla and beat until medium firm peaks are formed.  Don't beat this too stiff because it will be too hard to spread.   This is enough to frost and fill two or three 8- or 9-inch layers.  

White corn syrup is clear with no colour to it.  If you can't find the clear corn syrup, use the regular stuff.  Using only the corn syrup and no sugar gives you a frosting that isn't quite as sweet as some, which is very nice as cakes are so sweet.  

I like to use liquid egg whites for this recipe.  Several brands are available and anything in a carton has been pasteurized.  You can find them in the supermarket by the carton eggs or in the dairy section.

If you don't have a double boiler, have no fear as you can improvise with a heat proof glass or stainless steel bowl set on a small saucepan of simmering water.

Once the egg whites and corn syrup are set over the hot water, stir constantly so the egg whites will not curdle.  Corn syrup or sugar will prevent the eggs from curdling only if they are stirred.

Bring the mixture to 160 degrees F/71 degrees C to destroy harmful bacteria.  This temperature is important if you are using raw egg whites.

Whip the eggs to a medium firm peak.  
Now you have a soft, billowy frosting reminiscent of marshmallow fluff.

Melt in your mouth good!
 I think Mrs. Elliott would have been pleased with the results of this recipe.

Fabulous Fudge Cake

This is a wonderfully moist chocolate cake.  I've had the recipe for years and years.  Here's the story behind the cake.  It's a long story.  Feel free to skip to the end.

When I was a poor, struggling student, (so many years ago, before a computer could fit in a living room, not to mention a lap! ), I worked at the school to pay my tuition and board.  My main employment was at the school's bakery and cafeteria where my shifts were divided between the bakery and serving my fellow students three meals a day.  I enjoyed my work, particularly the bakery work, as I considered myself an accomplished home baker in my own standing.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Quick Fudgy Cookies--No Bake

When I was teaching I had the privilege to teach both of my sons.  When David, my oldest, was in grade 2 or 3 we were doing an activity sheet for language arts or math (can't remember which) and this little recipe was on the sheet.  The instructions suggested the children take the sheet home and make the cookies with their parents.  So we did.  David was proud to have made the cookies all by himself (with my help with the hot stuff) and we enjoyed them very much. 

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Upside-Down Pizza Casserole

I remember the first time I tasted pizza. (It certainly wasn't anything my mother ever made for us as children as most Newfoundlanders probably had never seen one, let alone tasted one.)  We were at Uncle Alex and Aunt Joan's for Saturday night supper.  While Aunt Joan was making homemade fries (so good), Uncle Alex brought from the cupboard an almost square box with a pizza mix inside.  He assured us it was all the rage on the mainland and we were in for a real treat that night.  (We revered his word as a well-education, well-travelled man of the world. And, he was our uncle.) He proceeded to make up the pizza, sprinkling it with the little package of dry cheese, popped it in the oven and had it baked by the time the fries were ready.  I was quite eager to taste this new and exotic food.  I felt as if I would become ten times wiser than any of my school friends because I would enlighten and free them from their ignorance of international cuisine. . . . . .

Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk biscuits make a nice change from Baking Powder Biscuits although the method for making them is exactly the same.  

Friday, February 07, 2014

Blueberry Cheesecake Dessert

Last night I was chatting with my friend, Violet and telling her I was making this Blueberry Cheesecake Dessert for Sabbath dinner.  This is such a quick and simple dessert I don't know why I don't make it more often. She hadn't made it in years either and decided she'd have this made for her dessert as well this weekend.  Most of the ladies at church had this recipe at one time, but I haven't seen it at a potluck in years. Violet was probably the one who gave me this recipe originally, so I guess it's time to resurrect this old, but really good recipe for an unbaked cheesecake.   It was once a popular item on the potluck circuit. Maybe, all of us old fogies got tired of making it and it just never got passed down to the younger women.  Well, that will be rectified right now!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder is one of those comfort foods I can eat at any time.  If you like milk or cream based soups this is the soup for you.  

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Carrot Nuggets

I made these carrot patties the year I cooked for Junior Camp.  I felt duty-bound to get as many vegetables into those kids as I could and thought I'd try to disguise a few of them in a fritter like pattie.  I made them small and called them "Carrot Nuggets" and served them with a Ranch Dressing for a dipping sauce.  Because I was offering the kids a new food I was somewhat hesitant about making too many nuggets as left-overs can be hard to dispose of when there is a set menu for the week.  I had nothing to fear.  All the nuggets were eaten and one of the counselors came to the kitchen to tell me the kids loved them.  (But, I'm sure there were some kids who could spot a carrot a mile away and wouldn't touch them.)