"providing you with recipes to help make you the best cook in the neighborhood"
A Cheerful Chorus
Miss Summer left one frosty eve
And Autumn walked right in;
Jack Frost took up his old abode,
With icicles on his chin.
The little birds began to sigh
And long for summertime.
They knew that soon they, too, must leave
And seek a warmer clime.
At first there was a meeting
Of thrushes, one and all;
They met in weeping willow's house,
Out near the garden wall.
They had a real song service;
It was sweet as sweet could be.
No other birdie chorus
Sounded lovelier to me.
So next they took a standing vote
On what day they should go
And fly down to the Southland,
Far from the ice and snow.
They talked and chatted quite a while
About which route they'd fly;
Each spoke his mind and had his say,
And then all voted "Aye."
And off they flew from every limb
With their chorus of "Goodbye";
And, bobbing up and down, they went
Across the clear blue sky.
Oh, how I miss those thrushes now!
I love them every one;
They're happy little chatters,
From dawn till set of sun.
But in the spring, I'll watch for them
To meet in my filbert tree,
And bring their happy greeting song,
Which they sing so cheerfully.
(Hazel Magee Squier)
Fall is finally here and it is time to stoke up those cook stoves and start baking again. I have a friend who was thrilled to get a brand new wood cook stove this past year. She is able to cook and bake on it using her skills from years gone by. For now, I'm sticking with my gas range. Soon the holidays will be upon us once again and I encourage you to try some new recipes to serve your guests. This month we will be focusing on bread recipes and a recipe for frosted pumpkin date walnut cookies.
When I was a young mom, I decided to invite the neighbors over and their two children to dine with my husband and I and our two children on our family dairy farm. I don't remember to this day what I served, but I can clearly remember what I didn't have. The neighbors always had a pot of coffee on all day long. I didn't drink coffee at the time and so when I was asked if I had any, the answer was no, sorry. They decided rather than running home to get their coffee that they would drink some milk. Did I have some chocolate syrup to put in it? Well, no. Sorry. Then I was asked for some black pepper. I didn't use black pepper at the time and had to admit that I didn't have any. Sorry. Have you ever had a meal go like that? I've had people complain that the salt and pepper shakers were too big and the meat was cut too thick, and it was just a little too soon to put the whipped cream on the chocolate pie. Sorry. So it was when I had a beautiful meal prepared and everyone at the table had loaded their plates with food, that one elderly gentleman said, "Do you know what I'd really like?" My heart stood still waiting for his answer. "What?" I asked. "I'd like a piece of bread," he said. My face broke out into a smile, and I was only too glad to get him a piece of bread to have with his meal, even though the bread was store bought. How I wish to this day I could have had some warm rolls or fresh made bread to give to him.
When you prepare your meals, don't just think of the main things like meat, potatoes, vegetables, and desserts. Find out what people like to eat and drink and if they are allergic to any particular foods, or just don't like certain things. Keep a 3x5-card index on who you had over for dinner, what you served, and what people liked or did not like. I had a meal that one friend could not eat because she was allergic to shell fish. Fortunately for me, and to her delight, I had some leftover spaghetti that she could have. One friend loves ketchup and puts it on everything, along with loads of pepper. If he has ketchup and pepper, he can eat anything I make, as long as it doesn't contain raisins. I didn't know that one of my guests was lactose intolerant, but soon found out after he drank some orange float drink containing powdered milk. I served something at that meal that I wasn't planning on - Imodium ID. I wrote down on a 3x5-card that Karen was allergic to shellfish and Howard was lactose intolerant. After cooking for my grandsons, I know that they will lavish me with their praises for serving a box of prepared macaroni and cheese, something they recognize, and will send up howls of protest if they have to eat my homemade version. Now let's get baking some of the delicious bread recipes provided. There is no better smell than the smell of freshly baked bread.
The Syrian Bread recipe was provided by Pat Dickson from one of her Syrian relatives. The relative forms the dough into 15-inch circles and then bakes them in the oven. This size was too large for me, so I rolled the balls of dough in 6-inch circles (like Pita bread) and then baked them under my broiler. It will bake in 3 minutes each side, then turn and bake the other side for 2 to 3 minutes. The recipe makes 24 pita-bread size breads. If you split them open, you can fill them, or toast in the oven. The toasted variety tastes like a good English muffin. Try this recipe when you have a couple of uninterrupted hours.
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, turning out onto a lightly-floured surface to knead until all of the flour is worked in. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, with a towel, or put in a plastic bag, and let rise until double (about 1 hour). Remove dough from bowl and separate into 24 portions. Form each portion into a round ball, place on lightly floured surface and cover with a cloth. Let rise 30 minutes. Turn oven on to broil. Take one ball at a time and pat out flat on lightly floured surface or flop it from one hand to another into a circle. When it is about 5- to 6-inches in diameter (or 15-inches for a large one), it is ready for the oven. While you are baking one batch of bread, you should be forming the next batch for baking. Place one large or two smaller ones at a time on a large ungreased cookie sheet and place under the broiler (5-inches away from the flame) for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn bread over and cook other side for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Continue baking rest of bread in this manner. Makes 24 Syrian Bread. When bread is cool, you may freeze it for later use.
I was talking to a bread baker the other day. She said she makes 60 loaves of Salt Rising Bread at a time to sell but that she has never tasted it. She said she can't get past its smell. When I worked in a restaurant, Salt Rising Bread was quite popular for toast. It was a "stinky bread" for sure, but people really liked it. I have been down in the Amish territory in Randolph a couple of times within the last couple of months and I asked one of the Amish girls if she would share her recipe for Salt Rising Bread. I made her recipe and I found it to be more moist than the typical dry Salt Rising Bread I have had in the past. A fermented starter needs to be prepared and kept in a warm place for 36 hours before making the bread.
According to Susan Ray Brown's web site at web.mountain.net/~petsonk/SRB05b.htm, "A common misconception about salt rising bread is that the name is derived from the presence of salt in the recipe. However, salt is not a necessary ingredient for salt rising bread; and, in fact, is not even used at all in some recipes. The name salt rising bread most likely comes from an early method used for maintaining the temperature of the starter (Rock salt was first heated and then placed around the container of starter, keeping it warm overnight)."
Amish Salt Rising Bread
Starter: In a quart glass jar place:
To Make Bread:
1) Scald 2 cups milk, add 1/4 cup butter, 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Cool to lukewarm.
2) In a large bowl, dissolve 1 packet (1/4-oz) dry yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water.
3) Add the liquid and corn meal from starter (it has a bad smell but is O.K.). If foam is on top, take that off. Discard potatoes. Blend all together from Steps 1), 2), and 3). Use a large spoon to gradually add in 9 cups of sifted bread flour. Turn dough out onto a floured surface (1 cup flour) and knead in another 1 cup of flour until smooth and elastic. Put in a large greased bowl. Cover with a dish towel and let rise until double (about 1 hour). Divide dough into 3 loaves and place in 3 greased regular-size bread pans. Cover with a dish towel and allow to raise in pans until slightly below brim. Bake in 375 degree oven about 25 to 30 minutes. (Bread is done when it is brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped on top of loaf). Let rest 10 minutes and remove bread from pans onto a wire rack to cool. Spread butter on top of bread for a soft crust.
Pat Dickson gave me a Chocolate Zucchini Bread recipe. This recipe is a quick bread with a wonderful chocolate flavor from unsweetened chocolate and chocolate chips. The zucchini keeps it moist. If you want some bread to give away, make it in three small aluminum bread tins, instead of two normal size bread pans.
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
3 large eggs
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, and vegetable oil. Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler and add to mixture along with the vanilla, flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in zucchini, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Divide into 2 greased regular-size bread pans and bake in 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let sit in pans for 10 minutes and then turn out on wire rack to cool.
Frosted Pumpkin Date Walnut Cookies
1/2 cup Crisco all-vegetable shortening
Mix together Crisco, sugar, and pumpkin in a large bowl. Then add flour,
baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir in dates and walnuts.
Drop by heaping teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 3 dozen cookies.
Keep sending in your favorite recipes and letters. I was surprised this past month getting a letter and recipes from Marcella Emerling. She is the only other Marcella I know.
Send your favorite family recipes to Marcella Stockin, 5200 Riceville Road, West Valley, New York 14171 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you. Providing you with recipes to help make you the best cook in the neighborhood. Visit http://www.cellascookbook.com and find out how you can order my cookbook.