"providing you with recipes to help make you the best cook in the neighborhood"

 Cella's News

January 2009



The Flour Sack

In that long-ago time when things were saved,

When roads were graveled and barrels were staved,

When worn-out clothing was used as rags,

And there were no plastic wrap or bags,

And the well and the pump were way out back,

A versatile item was the flour sack.

Pillsbury's Best, Mother's and Gold Medal, too

Stamped their names proudly in purple and blue.

The string sewn on top was pulled and kept;

The flour was emptied and spills were swept.

The bag was folded and stored in a sack,

That durable, practical flour sack.

The sack could be filled with feathers and down

For a pillow, or t'would make a nice sleeping gown.

It could carry a book and be a school bag

Or become a mail sack slung over a nag.

It made a very convenient pack,

That adaptable, cotton flour sack.

Bleached and sewn, it was dutifully worn

As bibs, diapers, or kerchief adorned.

It was made into skirts, bloused and slips

And Mom braided rugs from one hundred strips,

She made ruffled curtains for the house or shack,

From that humble but treasured flour sack!

As a strainer for milk or apple juice,

To wave men in, it was a very good use.

As a sling for a sprained wrist or a break,

To help Mother roll up a jelly cake.

As a window shade or to stuff a crack,

We used a sturdy, common flour sack!

As dish towels, embroidered or not,

They covered up dough, helped pass pans so hot;

Tied up dishes for neighbors in need,

And for men out in the field to seed.

They dried dishes from pan, not rack,

That absorbent, handy flour sack!

We polished and cleaned stove and table,

Scoured and scrubbed from cellar to gable.

We dusted the bureau and oak bed post,

Made costumes for October (a scary ghost)

And a parachute for a cat named Jack,

From that lowly, useful old flour sack!

So now, my friends, when they ask you,

As curious youngsters often do,

"Before plastic wrap, Elmer's glue

And paper towels, what did you do?"

Tell them loudly and with pride don't lack,

"Grandmother had that wonderful flour sack!"

(Colleen B. Hubert)

There is a drawing taped to the door of my office that I find quite fitting for this time of year.  It is a picture of a huge snow drift.  The words at the bottom say, "OK, Who's Tired of Snow."  And sticking up out of the snow can be seen only the wrists and mittens of unknown souls that are buried.  As I was driving out of the local shopping center this weekend in the freezing cold, I saw a young ski-clad lassie with her sunglasses on delightfully falling down in a monstrous snow bank at the end of the parking lot.  I presume it was her parents that had taken leave of their warm car to video tape the scene.  The beauty of the snow I enjoy as long as it stays off the road.  The cold wearies me.  But, the garden catalogs are pouring into my mailbox and giving me hope that we will some day part from this deep freeze.  I'm also reminded of the scripture in Genesis 8:22 that says, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."  I so much enjoy staying at home with my pantry stocked up trying recipes to share with you.  We've got some good ones.

Don't despair if you see long recipes in the column this time.  Most of the ingredients you will have on hand, and once you try the recipes, you'll see how easy they were to do.  Start with the dessert recipes.  If you're suffering from a cold, whip up a batch of the Garlic Chicken Soup.  Per the Internet, I understand this recipe has been around for over 10 years.  It was invented by a Dr. Ziment, a cold-and-cough expert.  The crushed red pepper flakes contain capsaicin and act as a decongestant.  The garlic, "loads the soup with enough phytochemicals to give it infection-fighting powers."  "Pulmonary specialists had found that it actually helps clear the airways and reduces inflammation."  This soup is good medicine for head colds.  And how much soup did the doctor  recommend?  One cup, three times a day.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake
(Dawn Samborski)

1 (1 lb. 5-oz.) can apple pie filling
1 graham cracker crust
8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping

Spread half of the apple pie filling in crust.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time; mix until just combined.  Gently spread over filling in crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, or until center is almost set.  Cool for one hour.  Refrigerate for at least three hours.  When ready to serve, place rest of apple pie filling slices on top of pie and drizzle with caramel ice cream topping.  Store in refrigerator.

Moist Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Joyce Turner)

Note:  There's pudding in the mix.  For chocolate chocolate chip cookies, use chocolate flavor instant pudding.

2 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, softened, but not melted
1/4 cup white granulated sugar (optional)
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box (4-serving size) Jell-O® instant vanilla pudding and pie filling
2 large eggs
12-oz. package chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi-sweet)
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

In a small mixing bowl, combine flour with baking soda.  In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, white and brown sugars, vanilla, and pudding mix.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  Beat in eggs.  Gradually add flour mixture, then stir in chips and nuts.  Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls about 2-inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Garlic Chicken Soup
(Lea Baird/Vickie Reffner)

Note:  Vickie's husband Rich jokingly calls this brownish garlic-laden soup "Toxic Waste Soup."  Make up a batch of this soup when you have homemade chicken broth and freeze the soup for cold season.

2 quarts chicken broth
2 garlic heads, about 30 peeled cloves
1/4 cup fresh minced parsley, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/4 cup fresh minced cilantro, or 2 teaspoons dried
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
2 teaspoons fresh mint leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 cups sliced carrots

Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.  Strain through a colander.  Discard bay leaf and puree solids in batches in food processor.  Return broth and puree to pot, stir, and reheat.

Chinese Fried Rice
(Derby Chef Internet Recipe)

Note:  This recipe is quick to make once all the ingredients are prepared as directed and in small bowls, lined up in the order they will be used in cooking.  The prep work can be done hours ahead of time.  Try it once when you are alone and you will see how quickly this dish cooks up.  If you don't have ham, use 6 slices of bacon and all of the grease.

Assemble the following ingredients in their own bowl:
3 slices diced bacon
1 cup onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 cup diced ham
1 egg, whisked with fork
3 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup peas (frozen or fresh)
1/4 cup carrots, diced
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

Seasoning Mix:  Mix together in a single bowl:
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder

In a large wok or saucepan, fry bacon until crisp over hot heat, stirring constantly.  Move bacon to side of pan. Do not drain grease.  You will now be adding single ingredients, one at a time to the center of the pan, stir frying them for about 30 seconds and then moving them to the outside of the pan.  Do in the following order:  onions, celery, ham, and egg.  Add cooked rice to pan and stir into cooked ingredients.  Stir in Seasoning Mix, then peas, and carrots.  Stir in soy sauce and heat through.  Recipe is ready to serve.

Kung Pao (POW) Chicken
(Internet Video Recipe)

Note:  I had to guess at the amount used in the sauce ingredients as no recipe was provided with the video.  This recipe was plenty hot for me.  Cut back on the chili oil or the chili peppers if you need to.  Prepare all ingredients ahead of time before cooking as this recipe goes fast once started.  If you are using dried chili peppers, soak them for 20 minutes ahead of time.  Read the recipe ahead of time and line up ingredients on a table in the order they are used.  For hotter dish, don't seed the peppers.

Oil:  2 cups cooking oil
Peanuts:  1/3 to 1/2 cup raw peanuts (or dry roasted)
Meat:  1 pound skinless chicken breast diced in 5/8" triangles

Marinade for Chicken:  (mix ingredients together in bowl along with chicken - let sit for 30 minutes before cooking)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice wine
2 teaspoons light soy sauce

Other Ingredients:  (place each in individual bowl)
4 small red chili peppers, cut in thirds (try 3 or less at first)
1/8 cup bamboo shoots, 1/4-inch diced
1/2 cup snow peas (string removed, cut into thirds)
1/2 cup carrots, 1/8-inch julienne cut
1/8 cup. 1/8-inch julienne cut ginger root, peeled
4 green onions, diagonally cut in 1 1/2-inch slices, tip to tip

Seasoning Sauce:   (mix together in one bowl)
1 tablespoons black vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili oil (try 1/2 teaspoon at first)
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Heat 2 cups oil in a wok or large saucepan to 375 degrees.  The oil is hot enough when a thin slice of green onion or carrot floats immediately to the top, sizzles, and spins around.  Add peanuts, stirring constantly so the peanuts do not rest on the bottom of the pan and burn, until lightly browned (about 1 minute or less).  Remove peanuts to a paper towel to drain.  Heat oil again to 375 degrees and add marinated chicken.  Cook just until cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Use two kitchen utensils to keep chicken separated at all times, stirring constantly.  Remove chicken to a bowl and set aside; do not drain on paper towels.  Remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil.  Heat oil and stir fry red chili peppers until they are dark brown, stirring often.  You will now be adding ingredients in the following order, stirring after each addition for about 30 seconds each:  bamboo shoots, snow peas, carrots, ginger root, and green onions.  Add the seasoning sauce, let bubble across the pan, and then stir in the cooked chicken, mixing well.  Heat through.  Stir in cooked peanuts.

General Tso's Chicken
(Kai Video Internet Recipe)

Note:  This is a mild version of General Tao's Chicken, coated with sesame seeds.  Make sure that all food preparations are done ahead of time for ease in cooking this dish as it cooks quickly.

Oil: 3 cups canola oil

Chicken Preparation:
1 pound skinless chicken breast, 3/4-inch cubes
1 large egg
flour to coat

(Mix chicken and egg together and coat chicken pieces individually in flour.  Shake off excess flour and place coated chicken chunks in a single layer on plates until needed.)

Onion, Garlic, Ginger Mix (Place together in bowl)
2 green onions, cut in 3-inch julienne strips (tip to tip)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 slices ginger, 1/8" julienne strips

Seasoning Sauce (Mix all ingredients together in bowl)
1/4 cup chicken broth/stock
3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

Sesame Seeds: 1 tablespoon

In a wok or large frying pan, heat oil to 375 degrees.  Fry chicken pieces in batches, separating the cooking chicken as it fries.  Remove cooked chicken to a plate and keep warm while you fry up the rest of the chicken.  Remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pan.  Heat oil and stir fry onion, garlic, and ginger mix for one minute.  Add seasoning sauce mix and let bubble across pan.  Add in cooked chicken and stir.  Turn off heat and stir in sesame seeds.  Serve hot with rice, if desired.

Pico de gallo (Salsa) for Fish Tacos
(Greg Johnson - Arizona)

Note:  Greg says to let this sit overnight in the refrigerator for best flavor, but I prefer eating it fresh made, letting it sit for a short while outside of the refrigerator - Cella.  Serve with Nachos or Tortilla chips, or on excellent Fish Tacos (recipe follows).  For Ceviché, add to the Salsa, 1/4 pound of chopped Mahi Mahi tuna (raw), 20 or so bay shrimp (tiny) and/or 1/4 pound small raw scallops, 1/4 pound of crab (Greg says the lime juice cooks the raw ingredients if kept overnight).

5 big, juicy steak tomatoes, diced (or 4 cups diced Roma tomatoes with skin - Cella)
3/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup finely diced fresh cilantro
1 small Jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
juice from 1 lime
sea salt and pepper, as desired

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, Jalapeños, lime, salt and pepper to taste.

Incredible Fish Sauce for Catfish Tacos
(Greg Johnson - Arizona)

Note:  Just drizzle on fish; enough for 4 tacos.

1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon grey poupon mustard
1/4 teaspoon Wasabi paste (Indian Horseradish)

In a small bowl, combine until smooth the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and Wasabi paste.  Use to drizzle on fish for the catfish tacos recipe below.  

Catfish Tacos
(Greg Johnson - Arizona)

Note:  If using fresh caught catfish, cut out dark bloodline from back of catfish.  Soak fresh caught or store-bought fish in sea-salt water overnight.  Cut fish into 1/2 inch x 4-inch pieces.  Drain and pat dry.  To make assembling these tacos easier, make sure you have all your topping ingredients made ahead of time and in bowls lined up for assembly and everyone ready to eat.

fish, as desired (1 fish makes 2 tacos)
salt and black pepper
crushed red pepper flakes (not cayenne)
Box of fish and chips seasoning mix or beer batter mix for frying

6-inch flour or corn tortillas, 1 for each taco
Incredible Fish Sauce (recipe above)
Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
Pico de Gallo (Salsa - recipe above)
shredded cabbage, about 1/4 cup per fish
1 lime

To prep fish for cooking, season both sides of fish with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a small amount of crushed red pepper flakes (not cayenne).  Coat with your favorite fish and chips or beer batter mix and fry according to package directions, approximately 4 to 5 minutes at 350 degrees in deep fryer.  Drain on paper towels and keep warm.  In a dry skillet, warm tacos one at a time to make pliable.  To assemble tacos, place fried fish in center of warm taco, drizzle with incredible fish sauce, Pico de gallo (salsa), and shredded cabbage.  Squeeze lime juice on top of cabbage.  Eat immediately.  Excellent. 

Send your favorite family recipes to Marcella Stockin, 5200 Riceville Road, West Valley, New York 14171 or e-mail me at marcellastockin@yahoo.com.  Providing you with recipes to help make you the best cook in the neighborhood.  Visit my website at cellascookbook.com for more recipes and archived newsletters.