Mushroom soup

1/4 c butter
1/4 c flour
2 c chicken broth
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 to 2 bay leaves
2/3 c finely chopped celery
1/4 c finely chopped onion
3 T cooking oil
4 to 5 c sliced fresh mushrooms (about 1 pound)
2/3 half-and-half or milk

Melt butter in a 2 qt saucepan. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in broth. Add salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally. In another saucepan, saute the celery and onion in oil until tender. Add mushrooms, cook until tender. Add this to broth mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes, siring occasionally. Add cream and heat through. Discard bay leaves. Serves 4.

February is a great time for mushroom soup! I clipped this recipe from a magazine in the 1990’s. Attributed to Elsie Cathrea of Elmira, Ontario.

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Oatmeal spice cake

Roll the presses! I made food! This recipe is made from a combination of two different cakes recipes.

1 c rolled oats
1.25 c boiling water
0.25 c butter
0.5 c white sugar*
0.5 c packed brown sugar*
2 eggs
3 T plain or vanilla yogurt
1.5 c flour
0.5 t nutmeg
0.5 t cinnamon
0.5 t allspice
0.25 t ground cloves
1 t baking soda
0.5 t salt

In a small bowl, stir oats into boiling water. Set aside to soak.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray oil on the bottom and sides of an 8×8 inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, cream together the white sugar, brown sugar and butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs and yogurt. Combine flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, baking soda, and, salt. Add these dry ingredients to the egg mixture stir just until moistened. Mix in the soaked oats. Pour into the prepared pan, and spread evenly.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

* The recipe that I began with called for 1 cup of each type of sugar. This was too sweet. One-half cup of each produces a good cake. Adding three-quarters white sugar will make the cake sweeter and may improve the cake structure (it is a little dense).

The spices are good in this cake. I may try it again with 50% more nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.

I recently tried this Cauliflower Rice Stuffing and found it to be good and not as different from other dressings as I would have guessed. The mushrooms tie everything together and I would likely skip this recipe if I didn’t like mushrooms. Two heads of cauliflower is a lot of cauliflower, but there were a reasonable amount of leftovers when I made it for just George and myself. I would make this recipe again, perhaps with the additions of grated carrot and dried cranberries.

Pat’s Thanksgiving dressing (almost)

Four generations of my family gather for Thanksgiving annually. (The group is big enough to warrant the rental of a local church hall. This provides a little room to move around and two sinks for dish washing.) This year I joined another limb on my family tree to celebrate with. It also was good company and food, including the dressing, but it wasn’t Aunt Patty’s dressing. Today I’m making Pat’s dressing to make up for not having it on Thanksgiving weekend.

Slow cooker with stains that indicate use

Slow cooker with stains that indicate use

1 c butter

2 c chopped onion

2 c chopped celery

1/4 c parsley sprigs

16 oz sliced mushrooms

12-13 c slightly dry bread cubes

1 t poultry seasoning

1.5 t salt

1.5 t sage

1 t dried thyme

0.5 t pepper

0.5 t marjoram (optional)

2.5 – 3.5 c chicken or turkey stock

2 well beaten eggs

Melt butter in a skillet. Saute onion, celery, parsley, and mushrooms. Pour over bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add seasonings and toss well. Pour in enough broth to moisten. Add eggs and mix well. Pack lightly into slow cooker. Cover and set to high for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for 4-8 hours.

My changes: I used butter rather than the oleo called for at the time it was written. Since I love mushrooms, I used sliced fresh ones rather than two eight-once cans of mushrooms, drained. The amount of liquid from the sauteed mushrooms reduced the stock required by one cup. Here’s the original recipe, as saved by my mom.

I use a 3 quart slow cooker. I’ve tried using whole wheat bread in this recipe and have found that it has a bitter flavor that I don’t care for.

Pat's dressing recipe

I must be in a cooking mood, because I’m also making spicy lentil and sweet potato stew. Either that, or I’m avoiding cleaning. The stew looks a little funky because I’m using purple carrots. They are fresh though, probably the only ones I’ve dug from the garden on December 6.

Inspired Vegetarian Chili

Steamy Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 2 c sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 c finely chopped onion
  • 1 c chopped carrot
  • 3/4 c chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 c chopped celery
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 t medium hot chili powder (I used Penzeys Spices)
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 1/8 t salt
  • 3/4 t ground black pepper
  • 3/4 t dried basil
  • 3/4 t dried oregano
  • 2 quarts tomato juice, no seeds or skins
  • 3 c cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (about 26.5 oz canned)
  • hot pepper sauce to taste

Optional, advanced ingredients: Evenly diced sweet potato, parsnip, rutabaga, potato, and/or salsify.

  1. Heat olive oil in the large pot that that you’re going to add all the ingredients to. Add mushrooms, onion, carrot, green bell pepper, celery, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, basil, and oregano. Stir and cook until the onion begins to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a simmering boil until the carrots are the consistency you’d like.
  3. In a separate pot, steam the optional root vegetables to your desired consistency.
  4. Add the black beans and root vegetables to the chili. Re-heat to a boil and serve.

Some cooks get their inspiration from flavors, texture, color, or culture. My primary inspiration is ingredient volume. My vegetarian chili (and all other chili, for that matter) is extremely variable due to random harvesting, dumping, and jumbling of whatever is on hand. The first attempt at this vegetarian chili started with a recipe, highly rated from the reliable resource of the internet. Immediately and purposefully, I mangled the recipe to suit my tomato format, which is wonderfully canned in quart jars, without seeds or skins, by my dearly beloved George. Why add tomato paste and water, when you can just add tomatoes? I love fresh ingredients too. They never come in neat sizes. Perhaps the perfectly medium-sized bell pepper is 3/4 of a cup, but certainly not one from the store or my garden. The carrots came from the garden and were very fresh. In fact they needed to be dug, topped, scrubbed, diced, and then cut into tiny pieces by my favorite chopper. Yes, a real chef would never use one of these things. If you eat my food, you want me to use one. My hand chopping of hard vegetables flings them all over, mostly onto the floor. You don’t want to eat off my floor. Another thing about the carrots, they are wonderful and fresh, but by the time I’m done preparing them, I’m cranky. We did have some beautiful carrots out of the garden. But now we’re down to the ones that weren’t properly thinned and the carrots are pinky-sized, at best. Prepping homemade baby carrots isn’t my idea of fun. Following this stream of consciousness, this will be my second winter that I plan to glue carrot seeds onto a long strip of toilet paper, at the proper spacing. By time time glue and toilet paper season had rolled around last year it was long past the baby carrot harvest and gluing carrot seeds to toilet paper seemed ridiculous. May my current conviction lead to greater follow through this year! Jumping ahead to the conclusion of the first batch of chili: I followed my adaptation of the recipe and left lots of containers of leftovers in the refrigerator (3 T diced bell pepper, the extra carrots, etc.). No root vegetables were added. In the end I found the chili too spicy without enough depth of flavor (the internet recipe called for 1 T chili powder and 3/4 t hot pepper sauce).

The next three batches found me only measuring what was easy (quarts of tomatoes, spices) and just chopping and dumping the rest. I think the final batch was the best. Certainly not repeatable since I didn’t really measure, however I did use about two quarts of diced root vegetables in addition to the other ingredients. As far as spiciness, it isn’t too spicy, but I figure the eater can add that with hot pepper sauce.

Pretty kale that has nothing to do with chili October 16, 2014

Pretty kale that has nothing to do with chili
October 16, 2014

Grandma’s chicken in corn bread

I’m cleaning up some papers (picture a laundry basket with paper of all types piled in it, odd items (like a bike lock) interspersed throughout, and lots of dust and dog hair). This recipe for Grandma Elma’s chicken in corn bread surfaced. The dish was common in my childhood, especially for special events like the Fourth of July picnic on the farm. The chicken in cut into pieces, with skin and bone left in place, and baked. About half way through the baking, a corn meal batter is poured over the chicken. This recipe calls for the dish to be prepared in a 2 quart casserole, but I remember it in a 9″ x  13″  aluminum cake pan.

3 lb chicken, cut into pieces
1/4 c four
2 T oleo

Coat chicken with 1/4 c flour. Place 2 T oleo and chicken in 2 quart casserole and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

2 T oleo
1 c chopped celery
1 c chopped onion
1 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper

Sauté 2 T oleo, celery, and onion. Blend in 1 T flour, salt, and pepper. Place around chicken.

1/2 c flour
1/2 c corn meal
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t sage
1/4 t thyme
1/8 t pepper
1 T oleo
3 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 c milk

Combine dry ingredients. Blend in oleo, eggs, and milk.  Spoon this topping over chicken.

2 T chicken soup base
1.5 c water

Dissolve soup base in water. Pour over topping. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

Enjoy this rich and savory dish under the shade trees while the sun shines above. Pair with watermelon and volleyball on the lawn.

Yes you can…

…have too much candy. Although the 2.25 cups of corn syrup and 2 cups of sugar should have tipped me off, Martha’s delicate picture of nougat threw me off.

Nougat

Especially when the candy isn’t cooked quite as long as it should be. It isn’t ready to share with anyone who isn’t leaning over the pan with a spoon. Now that we have both overdosed on nougat, it has been wrestled into the freezer. Ask for some when you stop by. We have had enough!