Friday, January 30, 2009

I have started another painting! It is a vineyard, but will be very different than the last one. ARTichokes has scheduled Friday evenings for open painting and live jazz. It's a wonderful way to spend the evening! Either Becky Pashia or Kristin Goering will be there, always ready and willing to answer questions or give you hints on solving problems with your work. Check out their web page and class schedule:

Back to the Kitchen

After the heavy duty cooking and baking for the Christmas holiday, I try to stay out of the kitchen during January. As I look at the date here on my computer, I realize my vacation is over. It is time to preheat the oven!

Being the Grandmother of 6, cookies come to mind....who am I kidding, cookies are always on my mind...not for the grandchildren, for me! If they show up, I will share!

My Grandmother Ogg used to make a wonderful soft raisin cookie for us. I've never found a recipe for them and she obviously never wrote it down. My Mom has told me how Grandmother had a typical flour bin as most farm wives did in the 20s and 30s. In that bin she had not only a huge cloth flour sack full of freshly ground flour from the mill there in Richmond, but also tucked inside was a beat up old pie pan for scooping out the flour. Mom says grandmother knew just how much flour to put in that pie pan, depending on if she was baking biscuits or cookies or pie dough. She doesn't remember seeing any written recipes, measuring cups or spoons.
When I was a child in the 40s, I remember going to that same farm and staying with my Aunt and Uncle. Outside, running along a sidewalk parallel to the farmhouse, there was the garage (more like a small barn) then the hired hand's little house, then the smoke house, the chicken coop and fenced in chicken yard, then the huge vegetable garden. We would make the little trip along that sidewalk, collecting smoked meats, fresh eggs, and every vegetable you could imagine. If we were having fried chicken, they were doomed. My Aunt could grab two chickens by the necks, one in each hand, and with a quick snap, it was over and dinner was on the way. In the middle of the yard, not far from the back door, there was this mound of dirt covered with a grass and had a door. That was the root cellar. down a few steps and it was cool and dark, and as I remember it, with shelves heavy with Ball canning jars, full of green beans, beets, and tomatoes. They were greatly appreciated during the winter months.

Breakfast tasted so good on the farm! The eggs were amazing, their shells were every color, their yolks deep golden yellow and you weren't afraid to eat them! The bacon and hams were smoky and had all that wonderful fat running through them. Yes, I know, it isn't good for you, but it tasted so much better than today. And the bacon grease and lard were used for cooking and baking! My Grandmother's biscuits were little clouds of heaven that we smeared with freshly churned butter and piled on smoky ham from one of the not so recently deceased pigs. And there was homemade jellies and jams from the berries in the garden!

A note about those biscuits....she would melt about a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of bacon grease in the baking pan and as she cut the biscuits, she would rub the biscuit around in the melted fat, then turn it upside down and snuggle it up against the other biscuits. OMG!

My Mom tells a story about "sausage making days" that I can truly picture. Mom was the youngest of 5. Her two older brothers worked with my Granddad preparing the butchered hogs, making sure there were plenty of "scraps" for sausage. My Grandmother sat at the sewing machine several days before the big day, making muslin sacks, actually tube shaped, for stuffing the sausage mixture into. Mom's 2 older sisters were old enough to be of help with the stuffing, however I understand they tried to hide to avoid this particular day.
There they were, all the necessary parts of "sausage day". The pork was ground by hand in an old hand cranked grinder, the spices and herbs were added, many hands (up to their elbows!) were needed to mix the ingredients, then the stuffing began. I'm not sure of the actual process, b after stuffing, but I do know those long, fat tubes of sausage were hung in the smoke house along with the hams and pork bellies.
Of course, all the pork fat was rendered in a big black pot over an open fire out in the yard. That lard would end up as delicious pie crusts and light as a feather biscuits.

By the time I was old enough to spend time at the farm without my parents, they were buying or trading corn for many of the foods. There was still an old horse, Nellie, chickens, and kittens everywhere. They would buy a pig and a calf in the spring, feed them until autumn, then they would butcher. Most of the meat went into the freezer out on the screened porch that ran along the back of the house. The old smoke house was still there, but was "retired" by then. But as you walked by, you could still smell that smoke.

Oh Darn! I've done it again!

Okay, I got way off the subject of cookies! Pork and biscuits do that to me! favorite cookie of all times is baked by Mrs. Frosch, Inge's mother.

Every Christmas she sends a huge box of her homemade Lebkuchen, a traditional German spice cookie. If it weren't against the law, I would wait in the bushes and pop the old UPS guy on the head and make off with the package! They are THAT GOOD!

My 2nd favorite cookie,and it is a very close second, would be my Mom's Sugar Cookies. She always blushes when I call them hers, she got the recipe years ago from someone, and you can find the recipe in many cookbooks. Whoever came up with the recipe...Good Job!


1 pound honey

1 pound sugar

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1 heaping teaspoon ground cloves

1 dash ground ginger

1 rounded tablespoon baking soda

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup milk

3 large eggs

2 1/2 pounds flour

1/2 pound ground walnuts

cocoa for color (adjusting to your liking)

for glaze:

Powdered Sugar

Warm water

Cream the butter, sugar, honey and then add the eggs. Sift all of the dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk and the ground nuts to the creamed mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly flour a work area, then roll out the dough. Cut with 1 1/2 to 2 inch cookie cutters, traditionally they use round and star shaped cutters.

Bake on greased cookie sheets for 15 to 20 minutes. When cool enough to remove from cookie sheets, glaze with mixture of powdered sugar and warm water.

These cookies can be kept for months in a cool place if stored in a metal can along with a whole apple............and if you hide them from me!

Mom's Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup powdered sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the oil and the powdered sugar, then the eggs.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and nutmeg. Add to creamed mixture.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the cookies to 1/4 " thick with a glass, bottom dampened then dipped in sugar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.

Hope you enjoy them!

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