Monday, December 1, 2014

Frankfurter-Cheese Bake reinvented, Women's Day November 1952

When I proposed making hotdog casserole my dear Hubby let out a sigh ending with a weak ok.  Kind of like a forlorn little boy whose mother asks him to sit down and eat his dinner of liver and onions.   But when I offered to change it up and add his homemade chili that was packed away in the freezer I could see in his eyes that he was hooked.

After thinking about it a bit this recipe became Chili-Dog Casserole.  Hubby and I were thrilled.  We both crave a good chili dog every so often.   The kids all had their reasons not to like it though.  One doesn't like hotdogs, one doesn't like casseroles, and the other joined her siblings in solidarity but did say she liked the cheese.  So why did I bother to make a dinner that has two strikes against it?  First I thought it sounded interesting.  Totally screams "LET'S GET CREATIVE!" in the logic-be-damned way 1950's food just does.  And second, we were really tired of holiday food.  If there's the perfect antithesis of a wholesome Thanksgiving dinner it's got to include hot dogs, right??

Here's the original recipe:

Here's our version:

6 Hotdogs, chopped
1 Medium onion, chopped
A little olive oil
8 Slices white bread
1C Shredded cheddar cheese
1.5 C Leftover chili or canned chili

Preheat oven to 350.
Sauté the onions in a little olive oil over a medium heat until transparent.  Add the hotdogs and stir occasionally until slightly browned.  Spray a square 8X8 inch pan with cooking spray.  Cut the bread slices in half.  Layer 4 slices of bread on the bottom of the pan.  Top with the hotdog mixture, then 1/2 of the cheese, and then 1/2 of the chili.  Place the rest of the bread on top of the chili and press down slightly.  Top with the remaining chili and cheese.

Bake for about 30 minutes until heated thru and the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Here it is just out of the oven.  Yummmm.

And here it is plated up.  We had some fruit with it.

This is the type of dish you'll either love or hate.  (I'm thinking if you've read this far you are in the "love" camp.  Thanks for staying with me, peeps.)  I honestly I wouldn't bother trying to make it healthy using tofu dogs, wheat bread, and low fat cheese.  The beauty of this recipe is you get the taste of a greasy hot dog joint without the expense or having to eat standing up.  Plus it's a great way to use up homemade chili.  I will make it again for me and the Hubster.  Maybe a romantic dinner with candles?  Ha ha.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!!

My Thanksgiving table 2013.

Is everyone busy planning, shopping and cleaning!?!  Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday with some of my favorite foods but it sure takes a lot of work, doesn't it?  This year I'm not hosting and I have to say I'm both relieved and a little sad.

I was reading my November 1951 Women's Day and found an article about how to make Thanksgiving easier on the cook.  It details the expected tips like shopping early, but only if you have a freezer.  What a nice reminder of the commonplace conveniences we have and to be thankful for them. Sometimes in the rush of a Costco run it's easy to forget that a few generations ago the problem of where to put all the food would seem absurd.  (And those 36 rolls of toilet paper?  That would be a crazy luxury in 1933!  But here in 2014 it's a great deal.)

I thought my readers would get a kick out of this article too.  Click on the pics to enlarge.  The drawings are darling!

I must include the adorable magazine cover.  You know how I love puppies.  Just look at those eyes!!

Wishing for you and your family much to be thankful and a delicious holiday.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Meal Planning!

Clearly I talk was too much because when I made my meal planning video I thought it was a quick one and it was over 5 minutes!  So off to You Tube I went with my little editor/technology consultant (aka Very Dear son!) in tow to help me post it.

Here you go!!

Let me know if and how you meal plan in the comments below or under the video.  I'm always looking for inspiration and love learning from friends, cyber and in real life.

Have a great weekend!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Weekend Estate Sale Finds

It was a bonanza weekend of estate sales!  Surprising with winter on its way and Thanksgiving around the corner.  I went to three sales.  One was a total bust, one was an interesting house despite a serious lack of anything vintage, and one was a goldmine of vintage kitchen items and furniture.  

The house itself was about 100 years old and tiny.  It had an enclosed front porch and the bathroom off the kitchen had a pink toilet.  (I want to live in a world where a pink toilet is an option, don't you?!?)  I loved all the hidden storage nooks and layers of shelf paper in the kitchen cabinets.  So sweet- like someone really thought of the function of the house and took care of it.  The owners had put hooks in the backsplash so all of the cooking utensils were easily accessible and didn't get damaged being shoved into drawers.  There is something to be said about a kitchen being functional and not just pretty.  

The owner of the estate sale company said the home had been sold to a developer who is going to tear it down and build new.  I know the home would cost a lot to get it up to modern standards but I can't help thinking about the family who lived there.  (Apparently the home had been in one family's possession for 100 years!)  When the home was built the whole area was different.  Most of the homes on the street weren't built until the '50s and the current park behind the house was farmland.  I can just imagine children cutting thru the farm on their dash home from school and coming into the kitchen thru the back door.  Everything has to change though.  The poor back door was in such bad shape someone had nailed pieces of wood to cover the wear.  

I found lots of goodies!  The two glass measuring cups caught my attention because they were in such great condition but were clearly an older style.  The smaller is marked to 3/4 a cup but fill it to the top and it's a full cup.  I suppose we're spoiled by having that extra room in our measuring cups.  Ha ha.  Perhaps it was for dry measurements because there isn't a pouring lip.  The larger is marked "Fire King" and "made in the USA", which I love to see.  It's a 2 quart and is taller than the short and squatty 2 quart Pyrex I got for my wedding so it fits in my cabinet better.  (I'm good at justifying my purchase, aren't I?)  I also got an enamel pitcher/measuring cup.  It measures in ounces and grams.  I thought a gram was a measurement of weight so this is a bit confusing.  I'll have to do some research.  There are metal marks on the inside like it was used for making pancake batter or whisking eggs.

I also bought some tiny loaf pans for the tiny loaves of bread I'm going to make for my not so tiny children.  Although two of them have toddler sized appetites so I guess they're a need, not a want.  ;)

See the egg slicer on the right?  That thing must be 60 years old and it's in better condition than the one I bought two years ago to replace the one I bought 18 months prior.  I promise my kids haven't used the new egg slicers to do anything out of the ordinary, like paint rocks.  Those cheap things just broke with normal use.  I think the new vintage find may last until my grandchildren's weddings.  Seriously.  I also bought this thing to cut french fries from potatoes.  I usually use a knife but the french fry cutter was only $1 and I wanted to give it a try.

So what's with the Bisquick cookbook?  No I don't use Bisqucik but found a recipe on line for homemade Bisquick mix and thought I why not.  If I were a '40s/'50s housewife I'd probably love Bisquick.  The ingredients were much more wholesome back then.  I read somewhere it was just flour, salt, and baking soda.  Now it has too many chemicals I can't pronounce.  Of course if I were a housewife of that time I wouldn't have to worry about food killing me, unless it had spoiled.  Anyway, the red circus bowl was just so cute.  I've seen them on Ebay for a pretty penny but this one isn't marked so I don't really know what it's worth.  I'm not planning to sell it anyway.

This may be the last estate sale hurrah for the season.  Honestly I thought it was already over.  The sales are excellent in the summer and early fall and that's usually it around here.  I got so lucky!

Have a great week!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No Recipe recipe: Throw A Chicken in the oven!

Real food shouldn't be that complicated, right?  But sometimes it just is.   Jobs, kids, housework, errands, and life in general can get in the way.  Not to mention our culture's elevated expectations of a home cooked dinner.  (Thanks, restaurants.)

When I read my vintage magazines and cookbooks I always notice how simple the meals sound.  Yes, there are some organ meats on occasion and Jello makes an appearance in both sweet and savory forms, but most recipes are for busy families who want a nutritious meal.  (Isn't that what we want today too?)  Real food was a given.  That's all there was until about the 50's.  I also note how little detail was given in the instructions.  The reader is assumed to have some basic cooking knowledge, even those written for the new bride.  Tracie McMillan elaborates on this point in her book, The American Way  of Eating.  See my review here.  Better yet pick up a copy and read it for yourself!  (I don't personally know Tracie- just really loved her book.)

So what does a quasi-foodie mom make for dinner on soccer/rehearsal night (Both my daughters are into theater.  Two different shows at two different locations with two different schedules.  My car is three years old and has almost 50K miles!) when there's also a Target run on the agenda?  She throws a chicken in the oven!

Check out the video on You Tube!

The details:

1 Whole chicken with the organ sack removed from the body cavity
3-4T Olive oil
A mixture of herbs:  Garlic, Savory, Rosemary, Thyme (Others that are good are Sage, Parsley, Oregano, Basil, or Paprika.  Any combination is good, assuming you like the herb.)
Salt and Pepper
An onion if you have it
A lemon if you have it
1/2C White wine if you have it

Preheat the oven to either 350 or 300.  See note below*.

Mix all of the herbs, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Coat chicken with olive oil.  Rub the entire bird with the herb mixture.  Pour the wine over the chicken.  Squeeze the lemon over the chicken.  Put a few onion and squeezed lemon quarters in the cavity.  Sprinkle the herb mixture in there too.

Add any veggies you want.  (Potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, Brussels spouts are good.  See my Vegetable post for more details.)    Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with the herb mixture if you have any left or just use salt and pepper.

Cover the chicken with tin foil.  Cook for 1 hour at 350.  Uncover and cook for another 20 minutes to brown the top.  You can speed up the browning by raising the temp to 425.

That's it!  YUMMMMMM.

That note* about the oven temp.  If you are making this ahead or aren't going to be home (and feel comfortable leaving the oven on a low temp) set the oven to 300.  You'll need to cook the chicken for at least 90 minutes.  If you are concerned use a meat thermometer to check for doneness when you get home.  If I remember correctly the temp in the thigh should be 165.  (I think my meat thermometer is buried in the backyard of my old house.  Long story.  There were lots of neighborhood kids over one snow day and it's been missing ever since.)  Your meat thermometer will have the correct temps for many kinds of meat marked on the dial.

Total prep time can be five minutes, once you make this a few times.  Tonight I made it while my son got his snack and found his uniform.  (It was all ready for him!)  My oldest daughter came home 10 minutes before me and raised the oven temp and took off the foil so it was really ready to hit the table within minutes of walking in the door.  Nice!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A few pics of a new house on the market. It's SWANK-Y!!

Hi!  Some of you really liked the vintage kitchen post I did a few weeks ago so when I saw this local real estate listing I knew I had to share the pics!  The home was a custom built mid century modern home.  While this isn't my favorite vintage home style I loved this home's spacious rooms and abundance of natural light.  It was built in 1957.  

So let the swankiness begin!

This is the basement kitchen.  Yep these partiers had what appears to be a full kitchen.  And it's even  fuller than with a built in Rat Pack bar.

 A close up of the Rat Pack bar.

Here is the main kitchen.  Looks like it may have been painted white in the 80's.  Notice the sliding cabinet door on the bottom right.  Also the shuttered upper cabinets.  Really nice size kitchen for the age of the home.  I also love the back door.  Kitchens should always have a back door in my opinion.  Good for kids, dogs, and trash.

This home also had pretty cool bathrooms.  Love the toilet paper nook under the window.  (At least that's what I assume it's for.  Maybe feminine supplies in a cute box.  Any ideas?)  I love how there are closed shelves in front of the sinks in addition to the medicine cabinets.  My bathroom, while beautiful, has very little storage.  The family who did the remodel must have been minimalists.

Another bathroom.  The tile was replaced but the cabinet is similar to the other bathroom.  The sink, counter, and tub may be a very light blue.  Maybe the black tile isn't so bad in person…

Here's another picture of the basement.

I love this green sofa.  The peach walls not so much.

I hope you like!  :)


Friday, October 3, 2014

Chesapeake Crabcakes, American Home September 1954

I'm back with a recipe post!  (Finally.)

I found this recipe for Chesapeake Crabcakes in the September 1954 issue of American Home.  It's mostly a decorating magazine but there's always a page or two of recipes formatted in an index card style so they can be cut to fit the reader's recipe box.  Luckily neither Mrs. Katz nor her daughter Mrs. Cohn were scissor happy.

I've always loved crab cakes but I've only eaten them in restaurants.  I've made salmon patties which are sort of similar.  But crab cakes bring to mind elegance and white tablecloths.  Salmon patties are all about a hungry daddy who can't find any leftovers in the fridge after mother has gone to bed.  

Here's the recipe.

Click to enlarge.

The only thing I added was a shake of garlic powder.  The serving size is small.  I made 6 crab cakes using a double recipe.

Here's what they looked like.

I really liked them as did hubby and son.  The girls considered them in the pan and passed, which I expected.  These had a nice homemade quality- not like a gourmet restaurant; like an upgraded version of my daddy's salmon patty recipe.  It was easy to prepare on a busy night and paired with a salad was a nice meal.  I plan on adding fresh garlic when I make them again.  

Let me know if you try it.   :)


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bonus post! Classic cars

Hey there.  Our club had a classic car show today.  I missed it due to a soccer game but stopped by just before it was over.  I took some pictures but unfortunately don't have much info as to the makes/models.  Here you go!

My favorite, and one of the few from the '50s.  It was parked in front of the paddle courts and not with the others on the street.  Not sure why.  The club has been around since the 1890's so I bet in the '50s this car and similar models were actually in the parking lot as simple transportation- not part of a car show.  I can just imagine elegant housewives driving over to the club for bridge...

Not sure what this is.  Anyone know?

Wish I could have gotten a pic of this orange one from the front.  Very cool.

 I spoke with the owner of this '61 Mercedes.  He and his wife actually drive it every weekend during the summer.  He likes to enjoy his car, not just look at it.  I agree!

I hope everyone is having a happy Sunday.  As you can see it's beautiful weather here.  I wish I could go out and enjoy it more but I've got a lot of laundry.  Travel soccer will do that to a mom.  ;)


Friday, September 26, 2014

Hey there, Rosemary!! Thanks for my shiny, happy hair!

Once again I'm going off topic but it's food related so it's cool, right?

I'm sure by now many of you blog lovers have heard of natural hair cleaning options like "no 'poo",  conditioner only, or ditching everything all together and just using water.

So what does all this have to do with this Rosemary chick?  Well after 3 years of no 'pooing followed by my ultimately luxurious L'Occitane leave in conditioner the company reformulated their wonderful product into a hair oil.  My hair was not happy and neither was I.  Just no 'pooing was fine but I was afraid I was killing my hair (There's some no 'poo controversy out there.  Google and learn.) and it didn't look as shiny.   Boo hoo.

Enter Rosemary tea.  Not sure how I found it but someone blogged about using herbs for healthy hair.  All you do is make a tea with the dried leaves and pour it on your hair after washing and conditioning.  No rinsing.  And ta dah…healthy shiny hair!

My Tervis tumbler keeps my hair tea warm while I get my baking soda and vinegar ready.

Here's the recipe:

1C Water
2-3T Dried rosemary

Heat rosemary in water until boiling.  Simmer for a few minutes.  Take it off the heat.  The longer the tea sits with the rosemary the stronger and darker it will be.  When it's at the desired strength strain, reserving the liquid into a plastic cup or other container with a spout top.  Let the tea cool until it's a comfortable temperature.  Wash and condition your hair as usual, ring out your hair, and pour the tea over your hair.  Don't rinse.  Style as usual being careful of light colored clothing if your hair is long.

Other tips:

*I've done this on the stove top and in the microwave.  The microwave is easier but be sure to cover your (glass) container so the rosemary doesn't float out when boiling.

*The darker the tea is the more staining you may have.  Beware if you have light colored towels.  My hair color isn't effected much (I have very dark brown hair.) except the grey is less noticeable.  Those with lighter hair may want to make their tea less strong.  Unfortunately the staining isn't enough to forgo coloring my hair but it makes the color more varied and natural looking.

*If your hair tea gets too cold it can be reheated in a microwavable container.

*You may like to make a big batch to keep in the fridge.  Just multiply the amounts keeping the proportions the same.  Just reheat before you hop in the shower.

*Using this much rosemary gets pricey.  Buy it in bulk if you can.  But try it first by using what's in your spice cabinet.  Then go out and buy the highest quality you can afford.

*You may be wondering if your hair will smell like rosemary.  Yes, when it's wet; no when it's dry.  Personally I love the results enough to not mind smelling like a chicken roasting in the oven.

Using the rosemary tea in combination with the no 'poo method allows me to get away with washing my hair once a week versus every day when I was using conventional hair products.  Seriously.  I went to a girls night out over the summer after a busy week and crazy day with the kids.  No time to wash my hair but I put it up with hot rollers.  The results were excellent.  I got compliments from many of the ladies, including some who are regulars at the beauty shop.  Boo ya, my friend Rosemary!!

I promise to get back to recipe posts.  Just not much cooking going on.  Tonight hubby and son are going to the annual lobster boil at our club (Remember my 10 year old foodie??) and us girls are having girls night at home.  Not sure what's for dinner but it will probably include popcorn.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vintage kitchens

 I wanted to share some pictures of vintage kitchens I found in local real estate listings.  Sometimes when I'm at an estate sale I can picture a fictional lady of the house fixing breakfast for her family or cleaning up after dinner.  (Weird?  Well I call it imagination.  HAAAAA!)  I also notice the kitchen's layout and storage.  It's not usually not ideal by today's standards but somehow it worked.  A lot of vintage kitchens have double ovens, even if space was tight.  The ovens aren't huge European models- just basic Sears models or another solid old American made brand- but they were clearly a necessity in the age before the microwave.  I know some people don't use microwaves due to safety concerns but at least today it's an option.  I can't imagine having what we call "leftover buffet" without being to heat up food in the micro.  That's one of the reasons I love leftover buffet night- less cooking time and no pots to wash.

Onto the kitchens!  Here's a double oven.  See how narrow it is?  Probably 36 inches.  I love how there's room between the burners so the pots aren't crowded.  The little cabinet to the right is typical of what I see in vintage kitchens around here.  In my old house the kitchen was redone a few times before we bought it but I could tell from other homes on my street (with less updated kitchens) that mine probably had this type of cabinet.  Much more functional than what was build to replace it.

This kitchen seems to have the original cabinets in which the fronts have been painted blue as an accent.  I love the natural light from the big window and the back door.  A back door coming right into the kitchen looks convenient for taking out the trash or bringing in groceries but in reality it would mean snowy boots, backpacks, coats, and doggy paw prints strewn in front of the sink for me.  Ha ha.

This is my favorite!  There was an estate sale at this one and I'm so bummed I missed it.  I think we were all sick that weekend.  The whole house was beautiful in the real estate listing photos.  It needs updating but the character shines thru the old decorating.  It's a landmark home so the integrity will be kept but I bet we can say bye bye to the kitchen.  The stove looks awesome.  Much larger than the typical vintage range.

This is the same kitchen from a different angle.  See the doorway in the back?  Looks like it's the old service porch that was enclosed and now houses the refrigerator.  Not the most convenient but quaint nonetheless.  It may serve as a mudroom too.  (I say keep the paw prints and kid accouterments contained if you can.)   Love the long counter in the back and the cute floral wallpaper.  You may have to click on the image to really see the details.

 This kitchen has been updated a bit but the cabinets seem to be original.  The open lines in the wood in front of the sink show that these are old wood cabinets.  Does anyone know if the open lines are decorative or functional?  I think they're to circulate air under the sink if you have dish towels hanging to dry inside but they may just be the style.  The range is obviously newer but it appears to be free standing, another very vintage kitchen trait.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures.  I'll be back to posting recipes soon.  Between school and soccer season I've been just making basic dinners- nothing exciting to post.  But I'll be back!


Edited to add- I found another kitchen.  Well just a picture of the stove in an estate sale listing.  Pretty cool!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bonus Post: Homemade Helper

With soccer season beginning tonight and the first day of school looming ahead I thought I'd share some quick make ahead recipes that embody all of the wholesome real ingredients you're used to here at Ode To Mrs. Katz Cohn.

I've never been a fan of Hamburger Helper as my foodie-vegetarian mother never made it at home.  I'd tasted them at friend's homes but never made them myself as an adult.  Boxed meals are everything I've grown to despise about processed food.  They're made in a factory, use chemicals and artificial ingredients, contain too many calories and salt, and taste unsatisfying.  So why explore homemade versions?  In reading The Way America Eats by Tracie McMillan (see my review here) I learned why these meals are popular and that it takes about the same amount of time to make them from scratch.  (The biggest reason- not having to decide what to make for dinner.  Count me in!)  So while Tracie didn't include a recipe I was intrigued.  Off Googling I went and found Suzanne McMinn's blog, Chickens in the Road.  There are many recipes out there but Suzanne's has different flavors of Homemade Helper and she created each one herself.  I couldn't wait to try them!

First I made the Salisbury and then tonight I made the Lasagna.  Neither are the best meals I've ever made nor are they meals I'd make for a special occasion but for their intended purpose, making a nutritious meal from scratch in about 20 minutes, they were perfect.

Take a look at Suzanne's original post.  Poke around her site too.  There are tons of recipes she's created and most are made from real whole foods.  I already bookmarked half a dozen to try!

Since I enjoyed the first two I thought I'd prepare more as ready-to-make mixes to have in the pantry.  It took about 10 minutes.  

Yes, I still have holiday zip bags.  Ha ha!
First measure out the spices and mix them in a little container, labeling the tops.  Then measure out the pasta and put it in the big zip bag.  Write the fresh ingredients required on the bag so you know in a glance if you have everything else.  Slip the instructions into the bag and that's it!

What's nice about making Helper meals yourself is that you can adjust the amount of salt, sugar, and seasonings to suit your taste and dietary requirements.  Use gluten free pasta if you need.  (And pure cornstarch.)  Strict about organics?  Use all organic ingredients.   Want to make use of that bargain pasta that was on sale and you bought way too much?  Well here you go!  (Er, uh... I have no idea how it happened.  Really.  You should see my basement!)  Sneak in more veggies if you want.  Mushrooms or onions sound good in a few of these dishes but experiment when you have time.  (See Suzanne's original post linked above regarding fresh veggies.)  The recipes can be doubled or tripled if you have hungry teens or a larger family.  Each recipe made enough for 4 servings for us but I can see myself doubling them as my son grows up.  He's already eating more than his older sisters.

Everyone in the family gave these meals a solid B.   Pretty good since I feel like I didn't put forth much of an effort.  What more could a mom want?  (An easy A!  But in the kitchen an easy A is hard to get. LOL)

Here's to a terrific school year!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Corn Bread, A Modern Kitchen Guide cookbook, 1940

I finally found a wining recipe!  Hubby and I love cornbread, especially with his homemade chili recipe.  The chili recipe is a super duper secret that hubby won't share.  I've asked.  It's the same chili his mother used to make.  He's been making it since before we met so I really have no claim.  Ha ha.

First I'd like to share this with you this cookbook, covered with adorable oilcloth by Mrs. Cohen.  I found it at the estate sale at her home.  The whole bookshelf to the left of the fireplace in the living room was filled with oilcloth covered cookbooks.  There were all different prints and colors, blending together making it feel like a piece of art.  I wanted to buy them all.  I should have at least taken a pic.

Here's the recipe:

I made this recipe without any changes but it needs some "updating" in terminology.  "Sweet milk" is just regular milk.  I noticed in vintage cookbooks this term is often used to differentiate whole milk from lower fat varieties or buttermilk.  To be a true vintage cook you could try to find milk with the cream on the top and use that, shaking it first.  I once got it from our CSA.  Freaked hubby out when he poured it onto his cereal.  Thought it was curdled.  I ran into the kitchen just in time to save it from going down the drain.

Another change I made was in mixing the dry ingredients before adding them to the wet.  The recipe doesn't explicitly say to do this but I think it's assumed that the cook has some basic kitchen knowledge.

Here is is typed up and easy to read.

1C Flour
1C Corn meal (The recipe called for white corn meal but I only had yellow.)
 4t Baking powder
1/2t Salt
1/2C Sugar
3T Melted butter
2 Eggs
1C Whole Milk

Preheat the oven to 400.

Mix the flour, corn meal, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  In a larger bowl beat the eggs and mix in the sugar and milk.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix well and then mix in the butter.

Pour into a greased 8 or 9 inch square pan (the recipe doesn't say the size but I made a dozen and a half muffins which is about the same as one vintage square pan.) or 18 muffin cups lined with papers.  Bake for 25 minutes or until brown and springy to the touch.

From this to...


Everyone loved these, even my daughter who said "Mom, I don't know if I like corn bread."  (She ate 3 so apparently she does.)   My son said they were better than dad's chili, something I'm glad hubby didn't hear.  My oldest daughter was at work during dinner and came home hungry.  Her eyes lit up when she found the cornbread.  So all in all I'd say we have a winner!!

I hope everyone is having a great August and savoring the last weeks of summer.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Book review, a few kitchen failures, and other reasons I've been AWOL!

Hey there, dear readers.  I can't believe it's been over two weeks since my last post.  I've tried a few recipes that haven't turned out so there hasn't been much post.  I hope everyone has had better luck in their kitchen!

We've been busy as a family the past two weeks too.  Hubby and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary in July!!  We had a very nice dinner out to celebrate.  My oldest was in a musical at our local outdoor theater, my youngest was taking a reading class, and my middle is continuing her drum lessons.  Plus all of their other classes.  And the dog.  He's discovered the joys of the dog beach and we've been taking him quite a bit.  He's not so fond of the bath he gets afterwards though.

I've been reading this fascinating book, The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan.  Tracie is a reporter who has written for the New York Times and O Magazine.  She uses her skills and experience to go undercover to learn how our food supply works as a day laborer and as a minimum wage worker.  First in the fields in California, then at Walmart in Michigan, then at Applebee's in New York.  What's even more impressive is that she chooses to live authentically on the wages she earns in each job.  Parts of the book are a bit heavy on statistics but it's necessary to truly understand how and why we Americans eat what we do.  Tracie certainly did her research.  Her narrative is very enjoyable to read too.  Here's the cover:

Has anyone read this book?  If so let me know what you think in the comments!

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer.  I can't believe school starts soon- 3 weeks!  :(  I'll be back with a recipe when I can find a great one.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Blue Ribbon Tamale Pie, Family Circle July 1949

This recipe, submitted by Mrs. Robert Estey of Alhambra, California,  took top prize in the Family Circle "Recipes Using Ground Meat" Contest.  (Hubby thought this was the best recipe contest ever.  He loves his meat!)  I'm sure back in 1949 this dish was considered to be a bit exotic, even in California.  I have to say, despite it's 18 ingredients and many steps,  this one's a keeper.  

Here's a pic of Mrs. Estey's Tamale Pie made in the Family Circle test kitchen.  

Here's my rendition made in my somewhat messy and untested kitchen.  

Like I said this recipe has 18 ingredients!!!  But they're all easy to find and the only thing I had to buy was the soup, corn meal, and the red pepper.  Here it is all laid out:

The big stainless steel canister in the back is flour and the small bowl in front is olives.

I took a picture of the recipe in the magazine but it's easier to read if I re-write it.  Mrs. Estey has it "Joy of Cooking" style where the ingredients are listed along with the directions.  I prefer a list of ingredients then the directions.

2 Slices bacon cut in half
1 Onion, chopped (I used 3/4 as mine was very large)
2 Cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb Ground beef
1.5 C Tomato soup (The original recipe called for condensed but I just couldn't buy over processed chemical ladened Campbells.  The organic version, even though it wasn't condensed, worked well.)
2t Chili powder
1/2t Salt
1/4t Paprika
Black or green olives (about 15)
5 Green or red pepper rings
1 and 1/2 C Corn, either canned and drained, frozen, or fresh
1C Flour
1C Cornmeal
1T Sugar
3t Baking powder
1t Salt
1 Egg
1C Milk
2T Shortening, melted

Step 1
Cook bacon in a 10 inch oven proof skillet.  Remove bacon and drain on a paper towel.  

Step 2
Saute onions and garlic in bacon grease until fragrant.  Remove from pan.

Step 3
Cook ground beef until no longer pink.  Drain fat if there's a lot.  

Step 4
Mix Chili powder, salt, and paprika in a small bowl.  Mix into ground beef.  Add onions and garlic back in.  Add tomato soup.  Mix well.  Then remove the mixture from the skillet.  I kid you not!

Step 5
Preheat your oven to 350.

Step 6
Arrange the bacon, pepper rings, and olives as shown in the pictures above.  Pour the corn over it.  Then spread the meat mixture on top.  

Step 7
Make the cornbread topping.  Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.  Measure out the milk and add the egg and melted shortening in a liquid measuring cup.  Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix.  Don't over mix.  Just combine.  

Step 8
Carefully spread the cornbread batter on top of the meat mixture.  Put the skillet into the oven for about 35 minutes or until the cornbread is lightly browned.  

Step 9
Remove the skillet from the oven and using hot mitts cover tightly with foil.  Wait about 10 minutes.  Remove the foil.  Place a large serving platter on top of the skillet.  Using hot mitts pick up the skillet and platter (like you're holding a big hamburger) and flip it over.  Slowly lift off the skillet.  Marvel in your accomplishment.  

Step 10 (OPTIONAL)
Make a sauce using 1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce and 4 olives, sliced.  Pour around the pie.  I skipped this step.  The meat was moist enough and the troops were ready to eat!

This dish, having 18 ingredients (20 if you make the sauce.), has something for everyone.  My girls liked the beef and corn mixture but not the cornbread.  My son liked it all but said my regular cornbread recipe, which I copied off an old dish towel, was better.  Hubby, minus the red pepper, and I liked it all.  He even had seconds!  When I make it again I may try making my cornbread separately and serving it on the side.  Maybe I'll chop the bacon and peppers and mix them and the olives into the meat mixture to make it more of a casserole.  I bet then I could freeze the leftovers.

Does this sound like something you and your family would enjoy?  Let me know what you think!


Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!!

I hope everyone here in America is having a nice holiday.  We just got back from taking my son and his friend to the parade, after a sleepless sleepover.  My girls are still in bed.  Seeing all the little ones in their red, white, and blue sunsuits and rompers made me a bit nostalgic for the good old days when my kids wore coordinated 4th of July outfits and were enthralled by the whole thing.  We brought the pooch with us and his leash and collar are a bit patriotic year round with white stars on a red background and navy on the underside of the leash so that's something.

Last night we had some friends over for an impromptu dinner and to watch the fireworks at the beach.  I didn't plan any vintage recipes so I have nothing to share but our menu is one of our summer favorites:  grilled chicken, corn on the cob, brats for the hubbies, hot dogs for the kids, crab dip (Luckily my dear foodie son had a craving for it and we made it on Tuesday.), cheese and crackers, and watermelon for dessert.  Not bad for throwing it together in an hour!  I really should share the marinade for the chicken.  It's so easy and you probably have everything in your kitchen right now.  When make it again I'll do a post for ya'!

Here are some beautiful patriotic/summer magazine covers from my collection.

 I hope everyone has a fun, safe holiday with good weather!  Oh and the best part of the 4th- it's officially watermelon season!!  Woo hoo!