Author Archives: Juliebee

Tomato Jam

Guy Clarke wrote a song that we love to sing every summer: “Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes, nothing in the world like home grown tomatoes. There’s only two things that money can’t buy, and that’s true love and home grown tomatoes!” So true! The best things about this season are baseball, homemade ice cream and home grown tomatoes. Big fat juicy ones! Tiny little jewel-like ones. We love them. This Saturday morning, I picked about a pound of the cherry tomatoes, variety of Chocolate Sprinkles. I made the jam to have with whole wheat cheese waffles topped with ricotta.

There were older folks in our home town who thought that they should be considered a fruit and ate them with cream and sugar. Apparently they like them that way back east, also. When we lived in Maine, we got a fruit juice and cracker snack every morning. I chose tomato juice, which I had always had with salt in it. One sip of my juice that morning, and I was shocked to find that sugar had been added!

My mom planted them almost every summer when we were younger, and I would eat them til my mouth was raw. I remember one summer the harvest was so abundant that mom sent my sister and I around the neighborhood with a basket of tomatoes to sell. Dad continued to plant them (Teri may have planted them on his behalf) and he usually had a few to pick on the plants behind the garage before I left town. We had a joke. I would leave one on the fence post for him to find. He would always pretend to be amazed at how it got there! After we cleaned out the house and I drove away for the last time, I found a tomato to leave on the fence post.

Mom made tomato preserves a few times when I was little. This recipe is similar to what I remember.

TOMATO JAM

28 – 32 0z can tomatoes (note: I used fresh Chocolate Sprinkles cherry tomatoes)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil (note: I used about 2 Tablespoons dried)
chopped onion — again, I used about 2 tablespoons dried.
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar……Guess what? I didn’t have any so I used lemon juice, about a tablespoon.
salt and pepper.

Put it all in a pot and bring to a boil. season with salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium, and mash the tomatoes with a potato masher. Cook until thick, about 20 minutes.

I think this would be good with red pepper flakes instead of basil (just a dash!) or with mint. The jam I think that I remember mom making …..I think it had cinnamon and cloves ….if I were doing that, I might add some chunks oflemon with the juice. I will definitely make it again.

Country Captain (chicken)

This fall, we welcomed Kedar Singh into our family when he married our daughter, Faith. Kedar and his brother (who also lives here) are from southern India, home of one of my favorite cuisines! I’m sure that the “Indian” food I’ve enjoyed is merely an Americanized imitation of his mother’s cooking. I hope to learn more about preparation and serving of Indian dishes, but until then, I will use the best curry powder I can find!

A few weeks ago, we invited Faith and Kedar and Vamsi over to our house for dinner. We served a dish of Country Captain, a curry flavored stew of tomatoes and chicken, served with rice. Apparently the stew got its name from the British sea captains and military officers who lived in colonial India. During the meal, I mentioned this and learned how poorly modern Indians think of the British and the whole colonial experience! (something like the early American colonists.) But they liked the stew.

(Note: I first saw this recipe in the Family Circle Cookbook, Volume 1.)

Country Captain

(Makes 8 servings – more or less)

4 # chicken: I usually use all white meat, but you could use a couple of whole chickens
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 T curry powder
1 can (1 pound) chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup raisins
hot cooked rice

Dredge chicken with flour. (Actually, I usually skip this.) Season with salt and pepper. Brown pieces (don’t crowd the meat!) in oil in Dutch oven. Remove chicken, keep warm. Add onion, pepper, garlic, and curry powder. Salute until soft. Add tomatoes and chicken, cover and simmer 1 hour. Serve with rice.

Hello! Welcome to my kitchen!

My mom was a great seamstress.  She sewed all the time and all my clothes. Cooking? Not so good; at least I didn’t think so.  I was very happy to let her do all the sewing while I learned to cook with the help of our trusty red plaid Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Even better were the many country church cookbooks, some mimeographed and hand stapled. The first thing I remember cooking was what we called goulash: macaroni, hamburger and tomato sauce.  (My kids started calling it “disaster meal” when we helped at a tornado drill and found that this was the recipe for mass-produced meals at the disaster shelter.) Of course. my brother, sister and I made cookies — a lot.  Steve and I still laugh about the Ranger cookies. (Don’t eat too much of that dough.) And I found that cooking was a fun way to spend time with my friends.  (especially Ruth) I learned a lot along the way; I found that cooking could be simple or or elegant, but the best advice I ever got was from a woman who was helping me cook for a dinner theater.  She said, “Always use the best ingredients you can find.” So I never use cheap shortening, or margarine, and I try to find the freshest vegetables I can, although frozen is okay.  And when there have been times that we had to feed the family on a shoestring, I learned that quality really counts.  I mean, if your meals are short on cost, they must be the best they can be.  I eventually learned to sew, although never as well as mom, and no one leaves my table hungry.

Hot Chocolate: Efficiency or Luxury

On cold winter mornings, my children often breakfasted on cinnamon toast and hot cocoa.  (It was whole wheat toast.) I figured it was probably more nutritious than Count Chocula, and almost as easy, since we used a homemade mix.

We always called it cocoa in the Mauk house, although when I was little we called it hot chocolate.  I discovered the difference when I read about Thomas Jefferson’s favorite recipe for chocolate; apparently, he was something of a gourmet. Or maybe, like me, he just like good food to be the best it can be.  Anyway, after I saw his recipe (source? I don’t remember.), I found that the recipe in my mom’s old Better Homes and Gardens Coookbook (1941) was almost the same.  It’s a little time-consuming and expensive, but if you want to serve and enjoy a luxurious cup of real chocolate, this is it.  ( And if you’re like me and concerned about healthy eating habits, just use a smaller cup.  And sip slowly.)

When we were raising eight kids, however, we used the mix recipe. It uses cocoa, and the milk and sugar are already there — just add hot water. It makes a very good cocoa for kids who aren’t picky.  My dad used to say, “You can have a thing fast, cheap, or good, but you can’t have all three at the same time.”

First, the Hot Chocolate:

Grate:  3 1-oz. squares of unsweetened chocolate into a pan.Add 1/2 c. water and cook over low heat until thick, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 teaspn. salt and 3/4 c. sugar. Continue to cook and stir for 4 minutes.  Let cool for a little bit. Whip 1/2 c. heavy cream, and fold it into the chocolate.  (You might notice that this is close to the method for making truffles. )Store this in a jar in the refrigerator.  When you want a cup of hot chocolate, place 1 heaping Tablespoon into each cup and fill with hot milk; stir. I think this would probably make 8 cups if you keep your spoon out of it in between servings.

And now, the Hot Cocoa Mix:

We made a big batch.

Mix:

  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. cocoa
  • 6 c. dry milk
  • 1/2 teaspn. salt
  • 1 2/3 c. powdered coffee creamer

Stir it all up and store in a jar.  Use 1/3 c. for each serving and add hot water.

You know how to make cinnamon toast, don’t you? just butter the bread, sprinkle on sugar and cinnamon, and broil til bubbly.

Gingersnap Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s still winter up here in Omaha; so last week Faith baked a batch of our favorite gingersnaps: soft, chewy cookies with lumps of chocolate. What could be better for a cold, windy afternoon? The recipe that I use is typed on a little card with a note from my mom at the bottom:”  Good luck, Julie.  Love, Mom.” They have been my favorite for years, although mom’s recipe didn’t have the chocolate chips.  We figured adding them would be the only way to improve these cookies.

3/4 c. shortening

1 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. molasses

1 egg

2 1/4 c. flour

2 teasp. soda

1/2  teasp. salt

1 teasp. ginger

1 teasp. cinnamon

1/2 teasp. cloves (ground)

1 c. chocolate chips

Oven temp: 350.  Grease the cookie sheets.

Cream shortening, sugar, molasses and egg.  Stir in dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips.  Roll into small balls and dip the tops in white sugar.  Bake on a greased cookie sheet for about 8 minutes.  Should make about 4 dozen depending on size of cookies and whether you can keep your fingers out of the dough.

Faith used a little honey in the last batch, because she thought that they looked too dry.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

First, get a loaf of white bread; we’re going old school. Pull out a couple of slices, but NOT THE HEEL!  Grape jelly is preferred, but strawberry is okay — it’s just a little too healthy for our purposes today.  Make sure that you use creamy peanut butter, it’s easier to spread.  And MAKE SURE that you spread from edge to edge — VERY IMPORTANT! No bread must show through! on the other piece of bread, spread some margarine — Mom always said that would keep us from choking.  The margarine should be spread thick enough to show teeth marks when you bite it. Slap it together and there you are! (you can cut it into triangles –“houses”, or rectangles, but when you cut it, the flavor runs out.)Raisins can be sprinkled on top of the p.b. but skip the jelly.   Find a book and enjoy with your nutritious snack!

I do not eat peanut butter this way anymore, but this might explain why I am still trying to lose 10 lbs. of baby fat.