Saturday, October 30, 2010

Satan's Walnut Cake

While flipping through the pages of Grandma's cookbook, I found this irresistible tidbit.
Now, I don't mean irresistible in the sense that ooo-wee...that sure looks good!  More like...hey, it's the day before Halloween, and who could resist trying this one out! 

So, I got up this morning, assembled all the ingredients and went for it, staying as close to the original "flavor" of the recipe as I could, both in taste and spirit.

Now, I won't rewrite this recipe, because frankly (and sorry, Gram), I don't think it's worth making again.
I need to be honest.  It was far too dense for my tastes and really, pretty bland.  I was hoping for something really amazing...if not a little unusual, but nope..nada, nuh-uh.

(Update--May 2011...After watching Episode 12 of Cook's Country [Season 2, Historical Cakes, on PBS], I discovered that a Satan Cake is related to the Red Velvet Cake!  Makes sense, both have cocoa in them, but not enough for that rich chocolate flavor we all crave....and obviously, Satan's Cakes don't have the enormous amount of red food coloring!  Hum?!  Cook's Country has a nice Red Velvet Cake recipe along with others.  You will be required to register for access though, recipes are then free.)

What I am going to recommend to you today, as compensation, are the 2 books that helped me through this recipe.
When I found I didn't have cake flour on hand, and my hubby was monopolizing the computer, I remembered I had this reference book in my cookbook library, "Substituting Ingredients, An A to Z Kitchen Reference, by Becky Sue Epstein and Hilary Dole Klein".  Sure enough, it had the information I needed and I was able to make the necessary adjustments to the recipe.
The next book I used for finding a Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting recipe was "The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook".  I'm posting an Amazon link that includes a photo for this book.  It is my all-time favorite cookbook.  I received it as a wedding gift 25 years ago from a friend who was a professional chef, and he had high praise for it's contents! I have used this book so much, that I actually wore the first one out, and had to buy another.  In fact, I'm thinking about buying one or two more, just to stash away for the future!!  It is my 'go-to' bible.  I can't say enough good things about it.

So having disrespected my grandma's recipe in favor of others', I think I'll sign off.  The guilt is just too much.

But before I is a glimpse of how the cake turned out...
It has a definite 1940's look to it, don't you think?

Yes, those are Pecans and not Walnuts.  Maybe this cake was properly named, it seemed to torment me at every turn...and did not fulfill the promises whispered so sweetly in my ear...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Green Bean Stew

After another sleepless night last night, I thought a batch of comfort food would be just the ticket to soothe me into Lullaby Land tonight.  Hubby had recently put in a request for a test run on one of Grandma's recipes, so I picked up the notebook and started skimming through it's pages.
And since it's getting late here, I'm determined to keep it as short and sweet as possible (was that an audible sigh of relief I heard?).

So here is Grandma's original recipe:
Here is my rewrite:
Green Bean Stew

1 T. bacon grease
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 c. green beans, cut into 1" lengths
2 c. potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
6 c. hot water
1-12 oz. can evaporated milk (optional)

1 lb. hamburger
1 egg
1/4 t. pepper
1 t. salt
1 c. flour

Melt the bacon grease in a 4 quart sauce pan or pot.  Add garlic and onion, sauteing until translucent.

Add green beans, potatoes and hot water, bring to a boil.

 Make meatballs, mixing hamburger, egg, salt, pepper and flour.  Shape into tiny (slightly <1") balls and drop into boiling stew.  

Cook until beans are tender, seasoning well with salt and pepper.  If desired, you may add a 12oz can of evaporated milk right before serving for a more creamy soup.
Without evaporated milk

With evaporated milk
My Notes:
1.  Don't be afraid of the bacon grease, it really does add "something" in the background flavor.
2.  Make sure you season the stew with salt and pepper, it's a little bland otherwise.
3.  My hubby LOVED the meatballs.  I'd never "constructed" any quite this way before.  They held together wonderfully while cooking and had a very different texture from other meatballs we've had.
4.  I was able to make about 80 meatballs!
5.  Maybe adding a pinch of an herb would be good in thyme or...???
6.  I preferred the evaporated milk..made it a little richer.
7.  I served this tonight with Triscuits, goat cheese and cut up red peppers...and was very satisfied.

As you've probably guessed by now, I'm a down home cook.  Nothin' fancy here.  I like bacon (and it's flavorful grease), cream, half & half and butter.  My cholesterol is 151 and my blood pressure is 110/70.  I'm allowed.
Anything I post can always be adjusted to your liking, it won't hurt my feelings.  In fact, I'd love to hear about the alterations you've made!!

Time for me to pick a few things up around here and then do some major crashing on the sofa...
And then.....z-z-z-z-z-z-z   Good-night everybody!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Baked Pork, Saurkraut and Potatoes

It's been quite a stretch since I've posted anything.  Well, anything of substance...
I needed an escape and found my way here tonight.

With the mild weather of Fall in full swing, it seemed like a good time to post one of my grandmother's recipes.  It is a particular favorite in our family and thankfully so, since it only takes minutes to throw together!

It is one of the recipes found in my grandma's personal cookbook...

...which she typed and assembled during WWII, using the office typewriter in her spare time.  There were two volumes, of which I have copied the entire contents, making one.  I understand from my mom that Grandma used to tear pages out, to use or lend, and many never found their way back, so the book is not complete. You will find that many of the recipes in her book will have a very German flavor to them.  Grandma was a first generation American, the only child of  German immigrants and it showed in her food stylizations!  I can still remember walking over to visit her and being offered Liverwurst Sandwiches...often.  While it wasn't my cup of tea,  I will still buy a roll of liverwurst to munch on just to get the food memory associated with the taste.

So let's make some memories of our own...

***My notes:  This is my grandmother's original here is my rewrite....

Baked Pork, Sauerkraut and Potatoes

Pork ---> (whatever you have or like, anything will work in any favorite...boneless country-style ribs)
2-3 (15 oz) cans Bavarian Style Sauerkraut---> (I use the Libby's caraway packed variety)
Potatoes, cut up into chunks--->  (however many you have on hand or like....sometimes I don't use any at all!!)

Place the pork in the bottom of a dutch oven

Layer the potatoes on top

Place the sauerkraut, juice and all, over the potatoes and pork.  Make sure the sauerkraut covers the potatoes nicely.  This will keep them from drying out!

Now cover and place in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  (I lean toward the 2 hours mark)

Remove from oven, lift lid and smell the goodness...

You've just made the perfect Fall meal and the hardest thing you had to do was peel and cut a few potatoes!

On a side note...this recipe has already made some memories in my household.  Two years ago, when the remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through (still a Category 1), everyone lost power, some for upwards of 2 weeks!  We were one of the first households (at 3 days in the dark) to get our power back and the first thing I did was fix two huge pots of this meal and invite many of our still-in-the-dark friends over for something hardy.

Thank you for taking the time to type a treasure on your old Underwood, Grandma.  I miss you.