Saturday, July 2, 2011

Grandma Webb's pie crust

When I was a little girl my great grandma & grandpa Webb lived in the yellow farm house at what is now 6998 Spearsville Road. Back then it had a Rural Route number, the yard had a fence around it and there was a huge stump in the side yard where we used to have tea parties. Grandma Webb always seemed tiny and birdlike to me even when I was little myself. When I picture her in my mind I see her with damp hair in a hot kitchen baking or sitting on the porch shelling peas. I learned a lot from her from "helping". She always let me roll out any leftover scraps to make cinnamon pinwheels. That's what I served at my tea parties on the stump in the yard.

This is her pie crust recipe:

Grandma Webb's pie crust:
Put 6 cups chilled flour, 3 Tablespoons of sugar and 2 Tablespoons of salt in a large bowl.
Cut in 2 cups chilled lard. (Use a pastry cutter or if you want to do it like she did use 2 knives. Keep cutting the lard smaller and smaller until no piece is bigger than a pea.)
Beat  1 large egg. Add egg to mixture tossing with fork.
Add ice water a little at a time until the dough can be gathered into a ball. Do not over handle.
Roll out on a floured surface.

This is still my favorite pie crust recipe for fruit pies or for meat pies. I especially love it when I make chicken pot pie in my biggest iron skillet. When I have bits of dough left over I still re-roll them, sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon, cut them into pinwheels and bake  them up for a treat... even if the grand kids aren't around to have a tea party. :^)

I can't recall how many pie crusts this basic recipe made. I do remember my grandma Dorothy and great grandma Webb would make a lot of pie crust. They would get out all of their many pie pans. Each pan got a bottom crust, a layer of waxed paper and a top crust and another layer of waxed paper. When all of the pans were filled they were nested together in a stack wrapped neatly in plastic wrap and tucked away in the freezer for future use. The farm wife's version of convenience food.

Fannie Farmer

Fannie Farmer that mythical homemaker created by the Boston Cooking school in 1896. She was the inspiration for most of my mother's memorable meals and my introduction to the joys of cooking. I recently ordered a used copy of it for my cookbook collection because my mother won't let go of hers until her fingers are cold and gray. Can't blame her. It holds some of my best memories... I mean recipes. Sometimes those get pretty mixed up for me.

My new-to-me copy is just about as well used as my mother's copy so I wonder who held it and leafed through it's pages over the years looking for just the perfect recipe to impress their in laws or feed their growing family. It's fun to guess what the favorite recipes were for it's original owner by looking at the wear and stains on the pages.

I'm glad to have this old friend back in a place of honor on my bookshelf. In fact I'm thinking of ordering a copy of the original printing from 1896. We are moving so far from modern convenience foods it would be nice to have a cookbook from the time when my great grandmother was feeding her family from the bounty of the farm. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ode to a cake and some really awesome icecream

When there was a special family occasion - such as the big family birthday party for the five family members who were special enough to be born in June- my mom made Orange Celebration Cake and Orange Ice cream.
This is the cake and ice cream dreams are made of.
There were layers of velvety yellow cake with creamy orange custard in between. Mom put chocolate icing all around the outside and then to top it all off -a glistening pool of yummy orange custard on top. And if that wasn't enough orange for you, she made orange ice cream. Not just ice cream, but homemade orange custard ice cream with a heavy emphasis on the cream. The cream she used was sweet and thick and came from Bossie, our family cow. It was the creamiest most orangey ice cream imaginable. The recipe called for orange juice but Mom used orange juice concentrate so it was extra orangey.

Making the ice cream was a family effort. We used a hand cranked ice cream maker. We kids would take turns cranking until we either ran out of steam or drifted off to do something else more interesting like play tag or kick ball in the yard. As I remember my dad and grandpa got stuck with most of the cranking. When it was ready, we kids argued over who got the sweet, drippy, paddle. I'm drooling just thinking about it!

I will admit I'm not much of a chocolate eater, so I picked off the icing and gave it to one of my chocoholic siblings. Which may be why I never wrote down mom's chocolate icing recipe. I was all about the orange custard and cake with a pile of orange ice cream. Mmmmmmm! I've never found cake and ice cream that could rival it. ... and believe me I've tried.

For quite a few years we all thought Mom had lost the recipe for the Orange Celebration cake and the orange ice cream. I found them again recently written out longhand in the do-it-yourself cookbook that I've had since Junior High.  Here they are:
Cook, Eat, Celebrate, Love and Be Happy!

Orange Celebration Cake
1/3c butter
1/3 c shortening
1 1/2 c sugar
1 tsp grated orange peel
3 eggs
2 1/2 c sifted flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp orange juice concentrate
Cream butter, shortening, sugar, orange peel until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beat well after each one. Add sifted dry ingredients altenating with orange jice. Turn batter into 2 greased and paper lined 9 inch layer pans. Bake at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Orange filling:
Combine 2/3 c sugar and 3 Tbspn flour in sauce pan. Add 1 cup orang juice made from 1/2 cup orange juice concentrate and 1/2 water. Add 2 egg yolks. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture boils. Cook one minute. Stir in 2 Tbspns butter. Cool.

Orange Custard Ice cream

2 c sugar
1 c water
Boil together for 5 minutes.
Add 2 cups orange juice (As I remember mom used extra strong orange juice made from concentrate: 2 part concentrate to 1 part water)
Scald 1/2 pint raw thin cream
Add 2 egg yolks
Cook and stir over hot water or very low heat until thick. Cool. Add the first mixture.
Fold in:
1/2 pint heavy cream beaten stiff
Put it in the icecreem freezer and crank crank crank!

Makes about 2 quarts.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Who knew?

You can whip Milnot just like cream into stiff peaks? Well you can.

We had asked Brian's mom for some of her "secret" family recipes. Brian had been talking about his mom's no-bake cheese cake since we started dating. She gave it to us a while back and we finally got around to shopping for the ingredients that we don't usually have on hand - Milnot and lemon jello.

Now remember Brian's momma is of the generation that bought the whole  "fast food for better living" that was promoted in the 60's and 70's. Less time in the kitchen you know and more time to do  other things. 

We try to avoid processed food as much as possible. So no Milnot hanging around the kitchen at our place. 

Once we had the Milnot and the jello I didn't have any excuse for not making the cheesecake so I got started:
8 oz of cream cheese softened was mixed with 1 cup of sugar (I started wondering if you could cut down the sugar or use honey instead... best not to experiment the first time you try something new.) Added the teaspoon of vanilla to this mixture and set it aside.
1 cup of boiling water added to the jello to dissolve and that lemony mix was put in the fridge to cool.
Crushed the graham crackers and added butter (I refuse to use margarine. You gotta draw the line somewhere.) Pressed the crumb mix into my favorite pie plate. It seemed like an awful lot of crust. Brian wasn't around to ask and I didn't have Mom Jordan's phone number handy so I pressed on.

Then I took on the Milnot. I had chilled it in the fridge overnight. I poured it into a mixing bowl and attacked it with the beaters. Call me a skeptic, but I just couldn't believe you could make whipped Milnot.
It didn't take more than a couple of minutes and I had stiff peaks. Really? who knew?

Then the jello got mixed into the cream cheese mixture. At this point the directions weren't very clear to me, so I folded the cream cheese mixture into the whipped Milnot.  OK up to this point I had been fighting the urge to taste it. It looked and smelled really good. I gave in and scooped up a dollop on my finger. Pretty good stuff! Sort of tasted like those yogurt "Whips" from the store.

So then I poured it  into the waiting pie plate. OOPS! there was way too much to fit in the pie. So I put the extra in some bowls.

Of course when Brian got home he informed me that his mom made it in a 9 X 13 cake pan not a pie plate. Oh and that I forgot to put a little sprinkle of graham crumbs on the top to make it pretty.

I'll do better next time.

Brian said it tasted just like mom's even if it was in the wrong pan and minus sprinkles. He loves graham cracker crust so he was happy it was extra thick. I don't really like graham cracker crust so I enjoyed the bowls of  "extra" filling.

It is amazingly good once you get your mind past the fact it has Milnot and Jello in it. I'm going to try making it with raw heavy cream, natural unflavored gelatin, honey and lemon juice the next time.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Grandpa Webb's barn

I did these drawings of  Great Grandpa Webb's barn when I was 12 or 13. I loved this old barn. It was dim and smelled of hay and manure. Dust motes danced in the sunlight from the open door in the hay mow. Swallows nested high in the eves. The beams were heavy and wide enough to walk along without fear of falling- but only if the grownups weren't watching.
My grandpas, my Dad and my brothers stacked sweet smelling hay in the loft every summer when I was little.Later I drove the tractor while they picked up hay in the fields and I pushed the bales from the wagon onto the hay conveyor. Much later, I stacked hay in this old barn myself and milked my cow in the cool shade of it's lean to.
My drawings don't show the garage that was added on the North side. Just the barn. I never did feel like that after thought of a garage really went with the rest of the building. Not so very long ago, they tore the poor old barn down and put up a big yellow pole building. A combination garage workshop and tacked on the back a milking stall for my mom's cow.
It's just not the same. No swallows. No hay mow. No beams like massive wooden muscles holding everything together. No smell of hay and warm wood.
I miss that old barn. They just don't make them like that any more.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cookie Sheet Chocolate Fudge Cake

Mixe together: 2 cups sugar, 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon baking soda

Heat 1 cup water, 3 tablespoons cocoa and 2 sticks margarine.
Pour over sugar-flour mixture while hot. Beat well.
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup buttermilk and 2 beaten eggs.
Mix well, batter will be very thin.

Bake at 400 degrees in a cookier sheet/ sheet cake pan for 20 minutes.


Boil together 1 stick of margarine, 3 tablespoons cocoa and 6 tablespoons buttermilk about one minute. Add 1 box powdered sugar and 1 cup nuts. Mix and spread on hot cake.

Pecan Pie

This is Brian's mom's recipe.  Brian always says she wasn't much of a cook, but she can make sweets!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup margarine (melted)
3 eggs lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup pecan halves
9 inch unbaked pie shell

Stir sugar, corn syrup, salt and vanilla into margarine.
Blend in eggs and stire in pecans.
Pour into pie shell
Bake at 350 degrees or until done.