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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.

Lumchumps

This cookie recipe has a long history. I believe the original  German recipe would be called  pfefferneuse. Of course, Americans changed the name to peppernuts. I first tasted them at Mrs. Carlson’s house. Some of you have met her and might remember her: she is the homeliest, most beautiful old lady I’ve ever met. Always has a huge smile, and never has a bad word to say about anybody. Probably about 90 years old now and for all I know, still bakes these cookies. Where did I get this recipe? I am really not sure. But I do remember one of the girls in my 7th grade home ec class baked them and contributed a recipe to our class cookbook. I liked them, but the cookie never really caught on in the Rhodes family – we were spritz people. And gingersnaps.

But years later, something brought this back to my memory and I tried them out on my own kids. It might have been during the infamous 30-days-of-cookies Christmas. Well, they disappeared pretty quickly, maybe because they are tiny little cookies that you can eat by the handful. They are made by rolling the dough into a long strand, and then cutting off small pieces. When David was just tiny, he observed the process and apparently decided to make a batch of his own with his play dough. There he was in his little red overalls, rolling out the dough into long logs  on the floor and cutting little pieces. I was in the kitchen with him and asked, “David, what are you making?” He didn’t pause or look up but replied, “Makin’ lumchumps.” Lumchumps? I still don’t know where he might have gotten that name  from “pepper nuts.” But lumchumps they became and still are.

I really miss you kids at Christmastime: no one to bake cookies for!!

LUMCHUMPS/Peppernuts/pffeferneussen

  • 2 cups sugar (you can use part brown if you’d like)
  • 2 cups honey
  • 2 cups corn syrup (you can use molasses, if you’d like)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cups sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons soda
  • 2-4 drops anise oil (they are really better with anise oil, but it’s hard to find. I usually sub in 1 teaspoon of anise extract. I’ve heard of people crushing anise seeds – about 3/4 teaspoons.)
  • 10 cups of flour. Yes, 10.

Mix the sugar, honey, syrup in a sauce pan. (a big one.) Add the butter. Heat and stir until the butter has melted. Sift and add the dry ingredients (I have to admit: the only time that I sift flour is when I make a cake) alternately with the sour cream. Roll up your sleeves and stir with a sturdy wooden spoon. Cover and chill overnight. Roll into long sticks – about 1/2″ in diameter – and cut pieces off. You can then roll these pieces into small balls, but seriously? They are going to round out as they bake anyway. I just put them on the cookie sheet, ungreased, about an inch apart. Bake at 300 degrees for …….oh, I don’ t know…..just don’t let them get too brown. Let me know how long that takes and I will amend the recipe. Makes a lot. A lot…….

 

Rice Pancakes, or using up the leftovers.

This will be brief! When raising and feeding a family of ten, we stretched the protein with sauce and rice — a lot! Well, if you study food combinations, you learn that rice combines with several things to make a high-quality protein.  Latin America lives on rice and beans, and so can we! This meant, however, that we often would have leftover rice. And we used up our leftovers!! Often, we would use the leftover rice the next morning in these pancakes, here at my son Amos’s request.

Rice Pancakes

  • 1 cup milk (I usually economized by using reconstituted dry milk in our cooking.)
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour (I like to use half whole wheat flour, but if I am using brown rice, I let that be the whole grain)

Mix the milk, rice and salt in a large bowl.  Beat the egg yolks and add them, then stir in the butter and flour.  Beat the egg whites until stiff, and gently fold them in.  Drop by large spoonfuls onto a moderately hot greased griddle.  Turn with a spatula when the cakes are  full of bubbles.  Of course, I often would have to double this, and sometimes would cook extra rice just so that we could eat these the next day.  From an old copy of Fanny Farmer’s Cookbbook.

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are not health food; they are best when made with lots of butter and sugar! You can try to redeem them  with whole wheat flour, but ……Also, they are not nearly as good the next day.  Fresh and hot  is the way they should be eaten! Of course, that means you have to get up early.  Here are two time-saving recipes.  One is the standard recipe, speeded-up. I got it from a Tupperware lady, and the trick is using a large tupperware bowl with lid so that you can raise the dough in a sink of hot water.  It really is fast! The other one is an overnight dough that rises in the refrigerator. You still have to get up a little early, but you don’t have to read the recipe in your sleep! This recipe always came in handy at Christmastime.  And one memorable night when Silas and his friend, Shawn, stayed up all night making cinnamon rolls.  Which reminds me of the time the boys decided to make funnel cakes………

Quick-Rise Cinnamon rolls

In a large Tupperware bowl (or other bowl with a lid), measure:  10 cups of flour

On another bowl, mix:

  • 3 pkgs (or 3 tablespoons) dry yeast
  • 3 3/4 cup of warm water
  • 6 tablespoons of sugar
  • 5 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 eggs

Make a well in the flour, and pour on the liquid.  Don’t Stir. Seal with the lid, and put it in a sink of HOT water.  (you don’t want the water to come up past the top, obviously, but it will probably float.) Let it “rise” for 30 minutes. Remove, and add 1/3 cup oil.  Stir, seal, and put back in the sink of HOT water. Let rise for another 20-30 minutes.  This dough is very soft, so flour the counter generously.  Divide the dough in thirds, and roll each third into a rectangle. Generously spread with real butter (sometimes I put pats of butter all over the dough) and sprinkle liberally with sugar (you can mix brown and white) and cinnamon.  Remember, this isn’t health food. Roll it up and cut into slices.  Use a serrated knife, or it’s easy to use dental floss (unflavored): just slip the floss under the roll, bring the ends up around it, crisscross and cut through the dough. Put the dough into a greased long cake pan.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Frost with powdered sugar glaze.  Sometimes, I would melt a stick of butter in the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle that with brown sugar. In that case, I would lighten up a little on the sugar and butter in the roll.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Mix:

  • 2 tablespoons dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Add

  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (yes)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • about 7 cups of flour

Add flour to make a soft dough, but don’t overdo it.  Knead about 8 minutes.  Let rise about 1 hour.  Divide the dough into halves, and roll into a rectangle. Spread liberally with butter, and sprinkle generously with sugar and cinnamon.  Roll up and slice, using a serrated knife.  Place in a greased cake pan. Let rise overnight in the refrigerator. Take them out of the fridge about 2 hours before you want to eat them.  After they have risen about an hour and a quarter, you can bake them at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Frost with powdered sugar frosting.

Chili con Carne

One of my favorite meals as a child growing up in southern Kansas was chili, crackers and apple pie for dessert.  In our small towns, churches and clubs were always having chili dinners for fund-raisers.  Huge pots of chili, baskets of crackers, and small bottles of vinegar on the table.  Yes, we added a dash of vinegar to our chili.  Usually, there would be carrot and celery sticks on the side. Always served on those heavy white china dishes — no paper or styrofoam! One particular fundraiser stands out in my mind.  It was in the early 1960’s and I was an unlikely member of Young Republicans—I was in 7th grade, so it must have been 64.  (Note: I am now a registered Independent — sorry, hon!) Robert Dole was just a young man running for Congress and had come to Winfield to meet the folks at our chili dinner.  I was cleaning up the tables as the crowd was getting ready for the after-dinner speechifying, and just as the man from Russel was being introduced ——  I dropped a big stack of dishes! Everyone in the hall knew who had caused the commotion, and these were people who knew my parents.  (sigh)   I later grew up and found out that people growing up in western Kansas, mostly of the Mennonite tradition, ate cinnamon rolls with their chili.  I thought that was a great idea.

Ironically, even though chili was one of my favorite things, my mom’s chili just wasn’t my favorite.  I love you, Mom, but you were a great seamstress! Here is the recipe I usually use now.

Chili

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds cubed beef chuck roast (you could use 1 # of beef and 1 # of pork)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1large Anaheim chili, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 18 oz of beer —1 1/2 cans?
  • 5 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder — get a good brand
  • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed oregano
  • 1 large — 16 oz? — can diced tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 large bay leaves: THESE ARE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL! imho
  • 2 or 3 cans of dark red kidney beans, or pinto beans, or black beans, or all three (drain them)
  • about 1/4 cup of masa harina, if you like it thick

Note: Aaron, you had asked for a slow cooker recipe.  Brown the meat first, then put everything in the pot and set it for 6-7 hours.
In a large pot, brown the meat in the olive oil.  Do this in batches so that the meat will brown and not stew.  (Frankly, I think you could leave out the meat and just make vegetarian chili with beans and skip this whole browning thing.  And then you could just put everything in the crock pot and have fewer dishes to wash. But if you want to eat a dead animal — whatever.) Remove the meat with a slotted spoon to a plate or something, while you saute the onions and peppers.  (Saute: Cook them at a low to medium heat, so that they tenderize but don’t necessarily brown.) Add the garlic and cook some more — add more olive oil if you need to. Add the tomatoes, spices, and the meat, and the beer.  Cover and cook it for about 2 hours at a simmer, til the meat is really tender.  If you like, you can add a handful of masa harina to thicken it up.

Serve this with — you guessed it — carrots and celery sticks, sour cream and cheese for a garnish.  Try the vinegar, it really gives it a nice tang.  (I quit doing this when I moved north to Lawrence; seems everyone there thought it was strange.) Cornbread, corn chips, tortillas or just plain saltines are good accompaniments. Apple pie makes the best dessert.

Breakfast: Pancakes and Waffles

I think I mentioned in another post that breakfast is my favorite meal, although it was not very fancy on school days.  On Saturdays, the kids got to eat in their pajamas, and we always served pancakes.  When they were younger, we sat at the table and ate together, but as they grew older, they somehow got into the habit of eating in front of the TV while watching Bugs Bunny and  Animaniacs.  (I don’t remember anyone giving permission for that!)  We  had waffles for a change every so often. When Dad worked the evening shift, the kids and I would sometimes have waffles for supper. Waffle irons can often be found in thrift stores, a sad testament to the lost practice of eating breakfast together. The one that I use is the same Sunbeam baker that my mom used.  It must be 50 years old now — still cooks great, although the handle has fallen off and you have to be really careful when you open it!

So here I am posting a recipe for pancake mix, and two waffle recipes. I made the pancake mix in big batches; it really made the job quick, and traveled well when we went camping.  I always use half whole wheat flour.

Pancake Mix

(makes  4 lbs: get a large Rubbermaid container)

  • 12 cups flour ( I use half  whole wheat)
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 3/4 cup (yes) baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 cups dry milk powder

Mix all this together well and keep in an airtight container.

To use:

Mix in a bowl:

  • 2 eggs (see note)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 1/2 cup mix

Stir only until combined (there will still be a few lumps). Fry on a hot griddle. (Test your griddle’s temp by tossing a few drops of water on it.  When they dance, you’re hot. ) Pancakes are ready to turn when the bubbles on the surface pop and when the edges look dry. This will serve 3-4.

I learned a trick from an older woman re: buttering the pancakes.  It seems cold butter was always too hard to spread on pancakes, so I started keeping mine on the counter at room temp.  We didn’t have to worry about it going rancid, since we used it up so fast.  In fact, we used it up too fast.  This lady told me that she always put a pat of butter on top after she flipped them.  That way, the butter was perfectly softened and easy to spread when it was served.  It was sensible: we used less butter and the kids didn’t tear up their pancakes. Win-win.

Note:  The recipe I have calls for only 1 egg.  But my husband taught me that adding one extra egg always makes them less likely to stick.  Of course, if you are watching your cholesterol, you might not want to try that, but I always add an extra egg.

“Oh Boy” Waffles — straight from the 1941 edition of the red plaid covered Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  Thanks.

  • 2 1/2 cups flour (again, I use half whole wheat)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 1/4 cups milk (again, again, I use reconstituted dry milk)
  • 3/4 cup oil (I use less, like about 1/2 cup)

First, lightly grease the waffle iron and heat it up.  I like to use a baking spray.  Stir the dry ingredients together.  In a small bowl, stir together the milk, oil and egg yolks.  (Do this by hand) With a mixer, beat the eggwhites in yet another small bowl until they are stiff.  Actually, to save dishes, I combine the dry ingredients with the wet, and then I rinse out the small bowl and use it for the whites.  You have to put the whites somewhere, but that can be just a small dish.  You’re going to have to wash 3 dishes one way or the other.  Fold the whites into the batter.  REMEMBER TO STIR PANCAKE AND WAFFLE BATTER BY HAND AND NEVER OVERMIX.  Your waffle iron should be hot now, so spoon on the batter.  It rises and spreads, so you don’t have to completely cover the grid.  Close the lid.  Watch for the steam  — when it stops or lets up, the waffle is done.  Enjoy!

Of course, the nice thing about waffles and pancakes is their versatility.  You can add fruit such as chopped apples, mashed bananas or blueberries.  Dried blueberries and cranberries are great, and when I was little, my favorite add-in was raisins.  Nuts are good, and chocolate chips.  The 1941 BHG cookbook recommends adding 1/2  cup of crushed cornflakes! You can serve any kind of fruit on top of either pancakes or waffles, and I remember some memorable summer-time suppers of waffles, strawberries and whipped cream.  Nowadays, I like waffles and pancakes with peanut butter, banana and honey.

One Dish Meals: First in a Series . Macaroni and Cheese

One of my sons has suggested a “one pot” theme.  Good idea, especially if the dish is such that you can do like the cavepeople did and all stick your spoons in the same pot!  No dishes! I like it.  To my way of thinking, soup makes a great one pot meal, especially if you have got (or have made!) some really good bread.  Anyway, watch this spot; there will be more to come.  But for the first one pot meal, let’s make it macaroni and cheese.  Technically, I use 2 pots, one for the mac and one for the sauce, but there is a way to make it in one pot.  Here it is.  Don’t forget  to serve with applesauce.

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 bag of macaroni – usually about a pound.  And I like to use whole wheat mac, the spirals.
  • 4 tablespoons butter.  and it’s better if your butter is not margarine.
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk (or alternatively, 2/3 cup dry milk powder mixed with 2 cups water. or add the powder with the flour and then stir in the water.)
  • 0ne pound (or more) of cheddar cheese, shredded — or you can  use a mixture of Monterey Jack, cheddar, etc.  Sometimes I also use some cream cheese.  And, while some would say that Velveeta is not real cheese, it sure does melt nicely. Use the big box.
  • salt and pepper
  • additional seasoning: I like to use either Worcestershire sauce or Lawry’s seasoned salt.  Some chopped green onions are also good.

First, you need a big pot in which to boil your water and cook your macaroni.  I assume you can follow the directions on the bag.  When it is cooked, drain it and return to the stove (but turn the burner way down.  In fact, turn it off for a while.  The mac is pretty hot.) Now, stir in the butter and let it melt, and then add the flour.  Now the milk (or the milk powder and water). Now, with the heat on low, start stirring in the cheese til its melted.  If you choose to add the additional seasonings, go ahead.  Remember, the more cheese the better.  That’s it; you can eat it out of the pot, or if you are from southern Kansas, pour it into a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 til brown on top.  (buttered bread crumbs always make a good casserole topping.)

Like my Mom said, “Feed ’em macaroni and cheese!”

A Word about Powdered Milk

I don’t suppose anyone likes to drink powdered milk, but it is handy to have around.  If you bake or cook any recipe that calls for milk, the difference won’t be noticeable if you substitute reconstituted dry milk. It’s cheaper, and it keeps for a long time. And then you can save the real milk for drinking and eating cereal.

Banana Bread

We don’t let things go to waste in our house.  Brown, slimy bananas make great banana bread! Overripe bananas can easily be mashed with a little lemon juice and frozen  until you are ready to bake.  I have tried several recipes; one had grape-nuts instead of nuts. This one is my favorite.  We had one daughter who didn’t like nuts, so I usually made two loaves, one with and one without.  Chocolate chips are not bad either!

BANANA BREAD

  • 3 really ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups flour (of course, I use half whole wheat)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cups of nuts (walnuts or pecans) (black walnuts are really good) (you can use more if you’d like)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips if you like

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a loaf pan.  Mix the bananas and eggs.  Add the flour, sugar, salt, and soda.  Add the nuts; don’t overmix.  Put the batter in the pan and bake for 1 hour (or so).  (Quick breads will be done when the shrink from the sides of the pan and a toothpick poked in it comes out clean.) Let it cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then remove.  It slices better when it is cool if you can wait, and it is great with peanut butter and a glass of milk for breakfast!

Speaking of Refrigerator Magnets

I used to have a collection of refrigerator magnets.  They were really cute: a tiny box of popcorn and a diet coke; a little iron skillet with fried eggs, you get the picture.  Most of the cute ones are gone now.  The girls fed some of them to their dolls, and one of my boys liked to play with little tiny things. I still have  magnets, but now they are more verbal than tactile.  One of my favorites says, “You’ll eat it and like it.” My other favorite is one that I made myself, from an article I cut out of a Good Housekeeping magazine, March, 2003. I was reminded of how true it is when I visited my children this weekend.  I hope I won’t get sued if I share it with you. (author unknown)

“Cooking is an aesthetic adventure, a tangible accomplishment no matter how frustrating the test of the day might be.  But, above all, cooking is a universal language of love, a source of comfort and solace that is instantly understood by anyone who sits down at your table.  I cannot protect my children, who are now 14 and 11,from life’s hurts and disappointments.  But when they get home at night, I can remind them, with my deeds as well as my words, that they are cherished no matter what.

When you have small children, you often feel as though you’ll be overwhelmed forever. But then one day you turn around, and they’re taller than you are, competent, and dauntingly self-sufficient.

“I find myself hovering over my children, asking if they need anything, and they just brush  me off,” a friend of mine, the father of three teenagers, said plaintively the other day.  “They have their own lives now.”

True. But you can always make them dinner.

Breakfast: A category of its own

I’m sure you have heard it said: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don’t skip it.” I’ve come to appreciate another old saying: “Eat breakfast like a king, luncheon like a duke, and supper like a pauper.” I don’t always wake up very hungry, so I take this to mean qualilty, if not quantity.  But breakfast is really my favorite meal; it seems to be the only meal that can be enjoyed in either quiet solitude, or a happy crowd of family members and friends.  When the children were little, breakfast on school days was  either hot oatmeal or homemade granola (at least I like to remember it that way!).  No Cap’n Crunch at our house. One of the kids spent the night at a friend’s house and made sure to tell me that “their mom lets them eat Cap’n Crunch”.  (We did eat raisin bran and Life cereal.) On Saturdays, we would have pancakes, and on Sundays, I’d make muffins — they were kind of like hand-held pancakes and we had to get out the door quickly! Early in my marriage, I learned to make Dutch pancakes, and they became a favorite. As the kids got older, we ate breakfast together less and less. (No one ever tells you when it will be the last time you fix pancakes for someone.)  I am pleased to observe, however, that , for the most part, they still eat a healthful breakfast.  One son eats oatmeal on the way to work, another eats granola for snacks, and my daughter Kelsey makes great Dutch pancakes.