Archive for the tag 'cooking'

Using up all the food you buy is a great way to live frugally, but it can be difficult. We are conditioned to think of cheap ingredients as basically disposable, and also to think of a lot of ingredients in one specific context. Taking some time to think about the types of items you waste out of habit and how they could be used will eventually help you to save money on food costs, while also giving you the opportunity to get creative and to find new favorite foods.

I say this with complete sincerity, but I actually do not cook. When I was a kid, I liked to bake, but I never really liked to cook; that was my sister. My first husband was a decent cook, and my second husband is a phenomenal one. I used to cook very occasionally, but after our daughter was born, even that petered out to almost never, with the exception of a recent interest in canning and candying. Now, our daughter is 11 years old, and my amazing cook of a husband has decided to do it professionally. His evening shifts mean this gal has to dust off whatever skills she put away more than a decade ago and figure out how to feed herself and her child something more interesting than sandwiches and boxed mac & cheese. I’ve been spoiled, and it’s been a pretty frightening adjustment for me. My friends and family have even joked that at this point it might be easier for Cory to teach Kit how to cook and let her feed us in the evenings.

I have to prove them wrong, of course. In an effort to ease myself into the whole cooking thing, I’ve gone back to my roots; baking. I just KNOW I can use that oven. If I mix stuff together and stick it in the oven, it will eventually be edible. Right?

CAM00236So, here’s the thing about hamburger and hot dog buns: We mostly think of them as having one job; making meat and cheese portable. Hamburger buns might be used for sandwiches and sloppy joes in addition to hamburgers, but most people don’t think of them outside of that genre of food, and hot dog buns, because of their shape, are even more specialized. Plus, buns are cheap; a dollar or two for a package of 8 buns. So if you buy a package of buns, the chances are that you won’t feel terribly guilty about throwing away the inevitable leftovers. But I’m here to tell you you shouldn’t! Stale hamburger and hot dog buns can be used for all the same things as other stale breads, and in a fit of laziness-inspired ingenuity, I discovered a really yummy one! I call them French Toast Muffins, and they go something like this:

4 stale hot dog or hamburger buns (The cheap, white-bread variety actually works best for this)
4 jumbo eggs (or just whatever eggs you have, but maybe increase to 5 if you use smaller eggs)
1/4 cup milk, or so (we use Vitamin D whole milk, but you could use half & half, cream, or 2%, I doubt it matters much)
Approx. 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Approx. 2 tbsp white or brown sugar
Approx. 1/4 tsp cinnamon, optional
Approx. 2 tbsp butter

*Do NOT preheat the oven!

I was making this up as I went. It’s basically a french toast, only I don’t actually know how to make french toast, only what goes in it. So I sort of mixed up my eggs at the same ratio of eggs to milk as I use for scrambled eggs. It seemed to work, so I don’t question it. Everything else is to taste, really. I prefer my french toast less sweet, especially since you can add sweet after. My daughter likes just a hint of cinnamon. So whatever works for you is good.

If your buns are really stale, you can use them as is. If they aren’t, I recommend drying them out a bit in low heat. Whip the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, sugar and cinnamon together. In an 8-slot brownie / mini-loaf pan, use butter to grease the bottom of each cup, leaving a bit of butter in the bottom to melt while baking. Tear your buns into pieces, putting 1/2 of a bun into each cup of your pan. Divide the egg mixture evenly between the cups. Use a fork or spoon to smoosh the bread pieces down into the egg mixture, making sure your bread is completely covered in egg in a nice, even layer. At this point, turn your oven to 350 degrees. Let your pan sit on the counter while the oven comes up to temp, so the bread can soak up all that yummy sweet egg. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a fork comes away clean from the middle of a loaf. (Baking time may vary depending on the type of muffin or loaf pan you use.)

Top them as you would french toast, although I thought they were great alone, too! These two were topped with homemade peach syrup. Leftovers should be refrigerated.

Zombie Eggs 1It seems that no matter how careful I am while hard-boiling, a few eggs always get cracked. Perhaps they had weak shells, or the boil got a little too rolling, but whatever the reason, every Easter I get a few eggs that are a little the worse for wear before they even get to the dye. My daughter and I have evolved a tradition for taking care of these woebegone things. After all the pretty eggs have been dunked and dipped and set to dry, we start getting a little crazy with the dye. Red and green dye are dripped directly into the cracks and allowed to run around the eggs and dry, and then the eggs are dunked into whatever colors we want for however long we feel like it, which usually results in some pretty evil-looking colors. (Although, Kit sometimes likes to do a “fresh dead” egg; one that doesn’t immediately look all that gruesome.)

Zombie Egg 2And when you remove the shell, you reveal another little surprise! The food coloring seeps through the cracks and stains the egg white. If you’re a kid, or a kid at heart, eating something that looks so gross is a lot of fun! I recommend a dash of salt and polish sausage with horseradish as complements.


Tuesday’s Child: Easter Meals 1937

I love old recipes. Things like molasses don’t get nearly enough credit these days. On that note, I came across an issue of Home Arts magazine from April of 1937 recently, and it was chock full of recipes for Easter. Below, you’ll find a selection of meal menus and recipes.

Four Easter Menus

Easter Breakfast Luncheon or Supper
  • Stewed Rhubarb
  • Broiled grapefruit*
  • Poached eggs hollandaise
    (found in another Tuesday’s Child)
  • Toast
  • Cafe’ au lait or with cream
  • Ham loaf with horseradish sauce*
  • Prune muffins
    (found in last week’s Tuesday’s Child)
  • Watercress and dandelion green salad
  • Fruited gelatin
  • Sponge cake
  • Tea or chocolate
Two Dinners
  • Broiled chicken
  • or Savory chicken casserole*
  • Potato balls with butter and parsley
  • Asparagus
  • Bread sticks
  • Chopped mixed salad
  • Parfait praline ice cream
    (found in last week’s Tuesday’s Child)
  • Almond orange cookies
  • Coffee
  • Leg of roast lamb
  • or Stuffed shoulder of lamb*
  • Mint jelly
  • Radishes
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Brown gravy
  • New buttered beets
  • Hot rolls
  • Asparagus salad
  • Almond ice cream
    (found in last week’s Tuesday’s Child)
  • Cup-cakes
  • Coffee

*Find these recipes below!

Broiled Grapefruit

“You may think this is taking trouble to spoil a grapefruit with its delicious cool tang, and I thought so too at first but am gradually being converted. There are several ways to do this. Always first you snip out the core with the useful kitchen scissors, run the thin curved knife around the edge and take out the dividing membranes (some merely separate the slices but the membranes are rather bitter and I like mine out). For Baked Grapefruit Hawaiian, dribble molasses between the sections and put a teaspoonful in the center, sprinkle with cinnamon and place under the broiler for five minutes. Another way is to sprinkle with white sugar, dot with butter and broil. For a luncheon or dessert service, a marshmallow may be put in the center one minute before removing from broiler. And at any time a sprinkling of sugar and two tablespoons of sherry wine or flavor is delicious. The pink grapefruit so treated makes a most satisfying dessert and is more refreshing to my mind than when offered to an empty stomach at the beginning of a meal. When so served they should be chilled.

Another sweetener for the grapefruit, cold or hot, is honey. Many like a little salt added before the sugar. As always, in salad dressings and cookery, salt and sugar complement each other and if balanced are used to bring out the flavor of food, not obscure it. They should never be obtrusive. A sprig of mint is a fine addition, and some use a cube of red jelly in the center when it is served for dessert. And by the way, sections of grapefruit sprinkled with salt, rolled in sugar and dotted with butter and broiled make an excellent fowl and meat accompaniment, just as we have always used broiled orange or pineapple with duck and ham.”

Ham Loaf for a Dozen

1 1/4 lbs ground ham
1/2 lbs fresh pork
1 1/4 lbs veal
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup cracker crumbs or dry cereal
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Basting Sauce

3/8 cup brown sugar
1/2 Tbls dry mustard
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup vinegar
1/4 tsp paprika

Mold into a loaf, surround with half a cup of water and bake covered in a moderate oven (375 degrees) for about an hour and forty-five minutes, basting every fifteen minutes with the sauce and drippings. Uncover for last fifteen minutes to brown.

This loaf is most unusual when basted as directed and the horseradish sauce with either raw or cooked apples is a perfect accompaniment for any cold meat or fowl.

Horseradish Sauce for Ham Loaf

3/8 cup brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp dry mustard
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup vinegar
1/4 tsp paprika

Mix and serve on top of each piece of ham loaf

Savory Chicken Casserole

1 four pound fowl
2 quarts water
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 medium onion, sliced
6 small white onions, diced
3 Tbsp butter
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup crumbs

Cut fowl in eight pieces. Place in kettle with the water, salt, pepper and sliced onion. Cover and simmer till tender. Fry the white onions in butter till lightly browned. Place the cooked chicken in a greased casserole or baking dish, cover with the fried onions. Add the beaten eggs to the chicken broth reduced to two and one-half cups and pour over the chicken. Sprinkle with crumbs and bake for thirty-five to forty minutes in a 375 degree oven (moderate). This will make about six servings.

“A new and savory way to slow-cook a fowl to tenderness is good news for any season.”

Veal Scaloppini

2 lbs veal steak or cutlet
4 Tbsp olive oil
3 1/2 cups veal broth or beef or chicken consomme’
3 Tbsp flour (browned)
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp lemon juice or
8 Tbsp sherry
1 Tbsp Worcestershire

Have veal cut thin in three-inch squares. Pound well. Brown slowly in olive oil. Add broth thickened with the browned flour (canned chicken broth or bouillon cubes, or a knuckle of veal may be used to make stock). Season to taste with pepper and salt and add Worcestershire. Simmer meat in broth, covered, until very tender. Sprinkle with lemon juice or add sherry and serve very hot. Serves about eight. (If sherry is used one Tbsp more flour may be needed.)

Stuffing for Breast of Veal or Lamb

1 cup whole-wheat cereal
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 to 1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup celery, minced
1 Tbsp minced onion
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup hot water

Combine raw cereal and bread crumbs. Add seasonings and mix in pan with melted butter until hot. Add hot water and mix well. Especially good for breast of veal and also fine to spread flank steak, roll up, tie and bake; to be served cold, cut through like a jelly roll.


Tuesday’s Child: Easter Baking 1937

Baking and desserts have changed some through the years, as people became more concerned with calories. Recipes from bygone days are often more rich and delicious, but should probably be enjoyed in moderation.

Molasses Parfait Praline

8 egg yolks
1 cup New Orleans molasses (Note: This is a light and sweet variety of molasses)
2 cups boiling milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Mix egg yolks and molasses and slowly stir in the boiling milk. Cook over hot water in a double-boiler, stirring with a wooden or enamel spoon slowly, and do not let boil. When the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the fire and let cool, continuing to stir. When cool, add the cream and chopped roasted nuts. Freeze. (Pack in equal parts ice and salt and let stand for four hours without stirring.) Serves six to eight.

“This rich parfait mixture using the “Easter eggs” generously is just right for a festive meal.”

Refrigerator Almond Ice Cream

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup finely shredded almonds
1 cup whipping cream

Blend condensed milk, water and extract and chill. Add the nuts and fold in the cream, whipped only to a custard-like texture, not stiff. Pour into freezing pan and place in freezing unit. When half-forzen, scrape mixture from bottom and sides of pan and beat quickly till smooth. Replace in freezing unit until frozen for serving. Six portions.

Delicious served in meringue shells or garnished with canned apricot halves, halved sweetened fresh strawberries, or cooked and chilled canned peaches, or any fresh fruit, especially peaches in season. You may also use this same base and flavor with coffee or one teaspoon orange and half teaspoon lemon extract if the almond flavor does not appeal.

Special Prune Muffins

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
4 Tbls melted butter
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
1 egg
4 level tsp baking powder
9 cooked prunes
1/4 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar, stir in the melted butter and lightly beaten egg. Sift flower before measuring, then add baking powder and salt and sift again. Add to first mixture alternately with milk. Do not beat any more than necessary to mix well. Cook the prunes without sugar, cut very fine and stir in last. Bake in greased tins in a moderately hot oven (400 degrees) for twenty to twenty-five minutes.

“Something exceptional in muffins is hard to find and for either the Easter breakfast or supper they will give the meal a flair.”

Lime Chiffon Pie

1 Tbsp gelatin
1/4 cup water
4 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup lime or lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
Baked pastry shell

Sprinkle gelatin on cold water. Beat egg yolks with half of the sugar. Add lime juice, salt and soaked gelatin and cook in top of double-boiler over hot water till slightly thickened. Chill. Fold in egg whites beaten until stiff and combined with the remaining half cup of sugar. Turn into baked pastry shell and chill till firm. Makes a nine-inch pie. Garnish with maraschino cherries around the rim, if desired.

I love old recipes. Things like molasses don’t get nearly enough credit these days. On that note, I came across an issue of Home Arts magazine from April of 1937 recently, and it was chock full of recipes for Easter. Below, you’ll find a selection of egg dishes, and in the weeks heading for Easter I’ll post additional recipes and meal ideas from this magazine.

“Easter breakfast eggs should be very special and the possibilities are endless. These two suggestions merely point the way. Eggs scrambled in a double-boiler, really creamed, with chopped chives are delicious; a poached egg on half toast, spread with potted chicken or ham is another touch. Hard cooked eggs, sliced and creamed are excellent. Just keep away from the eggs and bacon of winter, for variety and also for spring lightness.”

Poached Eggs Hollandaise

6 slices of half toast
6 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup white sauce
1/2 cup grated cheese (optional)

Fold the mayonnaise into the hot white sauce (two level Tbsp flour to one cup of milk, one Tbsp butter, a quarter teaspoon salt and an eighth tsp pepper). Place poached eggs on toast and pour sauce over whole. Serve at once.

Egg Fluff

Separate six eggs. Add a quarter tsp salt to whites and beat until stiff. Pile egg whites in a buttered, shallow baking dish. Drop the egg yolks onto the beaten whites, sprinkle with white pepper or paprika (and, if desired, with a little grated cheese) and bake in a slow oven (300 degrees) for eighteen minutes. Serve at once.

Part two in Exercises in Using Materials On Hand is Apples!

Everyone has, at some point, thrown out that last apple or two because the blush of youth departed before the apples were eaten. When we eat apples, we like them to be cold and crisp. Or at the very least, crisp. I don’t know anyone who prefers their apples over-ripe and slightly mushy. So we buy our bags or baskets or other containers full of apples, and we bake with them, or we eat them with cheese slices, or we send them to school with the kids, but before we quite manage to get through all of them, they’ve gone soft, and most of us probably throw the last one or two away. I know I’ve done so, myself, thinking, “Ew, it’s going bad.”

Now, the key there is “going”. The thing ain’t bad yet unless it stinks. If it’s still firm, but the flesh is just slightly soft, and there are no rotten bits, it’s still (im)perfectly good. It’s just not necessarily good raw eating. Now’s the time to cook it. Most pie recipes call for a LOT of apples. And they want tart apples, for the most part. Tarts and crisps call for fewer apples, but still the “cooking” apple varieties, like Granny Smith and Jonathan. (Although, since I like to eat the tart apples, I’m just as likely to have one or two of them hanging around as any other variety, so perhaps a crisp would do the trick!)

So if you have one Gala left over, a pie isn’t in the offing. But there IS something you can do with one single (or a couple of) sweet or semi-sweet apple, a little past it’s prime. Applesauce. This doesn’t have to be the massive canning spectacular you might think. Fresh applesauce keeps a couple of weeks in the fridge, and it’s also delicious served hot, straight from the stove, as a dessert or snack. A basic applesauce recipe uses apples and sugar. You can fancy it up however you want, including lemon juice, orange juice or other liquid, salt, spices (think apple pie spices for a traditional flavor).


How I made mine:

I had three Gala apples. I washed them, then cored them and cut them in chunks with the peels still on. I threw them in a pot over med heat. I added about a tablespoon of butter per apple, so 3 tbsp total. I let the butter melt and stirred it up well, then turned the heat down to 2 or so. I added my seasonings to taste, about 1/4 cup brown sugar, and a little bit of lemon juice, plus raisins, and let it cook down for about half an hour. (What seasoning did I use? Approximately a teaspoon each of salt, cinnamon and crushed black pepper, and pinches of ginger and nutmeg.) Once it was cooked through, nice and hot and quite thick, I mashed it with a potato masher and popped it into a leftovers container and into the fridge. (Yes, that means there are bits of apple peel hanging out in my applesauce. I happen to like it that way just fine, but if you don’t, consider either peeling the apples before you start or using a blender or food processor on them.)

Kit sampled it and declared “That is GREAT!” So she gets fresh, homemade applesauce in her lunch tomorrow. Yay mom!