Book Club · New Favorite

Poisonwood Bible and African Themed Potluck

Poisonwood Bible (1998) was our recent Book Club read. I remember trying to read this great book in the late ’90s but work, teenagers and life interrupted  my reading experience.  I was delighted when our Book Club added the book to our 2014 list. While the book is long, the time flew by as I read this marvelous book by Barbara Kingsolver.

The book was originally suggested to me by my sister-in-law, Betty, when they were living in Malawi, Africa on a medical and education mission. During their time in Africa, Betty wrote many emails to family and friends capturing the many wonderful and tragic moments there.  Poinsonwood Bible brought back a flood of memories from her stories.

Our book club always begins the evening with a potluck dinner with a theme from the book, so African recipes it is! Betty was kind enough to mail me her cookbook, The Malawi Cookbook:

Malawi Cookbook
Malawi Cookbook

The cookbook was originally published in 1972 by the Malawi Ministry of Health to raise money for children’s vaccinations and the Save the Children fund.  Malnutrition is one of the leading causes of morbidity in young children in developing countries.

The recipes are fascinating and I will keep a few for my future cooking experiences, although I doubt I will ever serve Bee Larvae, Flying Ants, Grasshoppers, Crickets and Locusts.  Instead, I decided to use the eggplant recipe that Betty shared directly with me. I love eggplant, made any which way, so this was a perfect choice. As Betty shared, Mashed Eggplant is served everywhere during harvest season.

Other wonderful dishes shared at our dinner were Ingera (sponge bread), Chicken and Peanut Stew (recipe to appear in Friday’s post), Fried Plantains, and an array of Ethiopian dishes from a local restaurant.

I took several wonderful pictures of the Eggplant and Peanut Spread, to later discover I didn’t have my memory card in my camera. My apologies but let me assure you the dish was a big hit, even for those that confess to not liking Eggplant. Serve this spread with wedges of pita bread or, for those eating gluten-free, a gluten free cracker.

The only change I would make the next time I make it, would be to roast the eggplant in the oven to decrease the amount of fat in the dish.

Eggplant

MASHED EGGPLANT & PEANUT SPREAD

2 pounds eggplant, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter (in Malawi, they would use local made groundnut butter)
salt and red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Prepare the eggplant in the usual way of slicing, salting, weighing down the eggplant during the two hours you are extracting the liquid and bitterness.  
  • Pat dry, then fry eggplant slices for about five minutes in the olive oil, turning once.  
  • Mix and pour remaining ingredients over the fried slices, mash with fork, then serve with pita wedges.  (I admit to having used a food processor which made the finished product a bit smoother).

 

 

 

Family · Family Favorites

Fresh Peach Cobbler…summertime favorite

Fresh peaches are a summer treat!  I have fond memories, as a kid, of biting into a fresh peach and have the juice run down my arms and all over my face. I was a sticky mess, but loving that peach!

English: juicy peach half

Colorado peaches are some of the best and I’m lucky enough to live in the great state that produces them. To date, I’ve not seen Colorado peaches at the market but Costco has had wonderful peaches this summer. What better dessert to serve visiting family topped with vanilla ice cream! The recipe is from my tried and true Farm Journal Country Cookbook, 1972 a gift from the folks at Farm Journal many years ago when I worked in Agri-Marketing for an ad agency in St. Joe, MO. The cookbook has seen a lot of love and even though it’s spine is broken, it continues to support my love of good home-cooking!

IMG_0041

Our Book Club potluck was coming up, featuring the book Proof of Heaven a Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander, M.D.  Our potluck theme was ‘what would you have for your last meal?’  I tripled the recipe so I could have enough Cobbler for the Book Club and for visiting family.  It was hit with both groups. It’s delicious (even if I do say so myself) and a wonderful summer treat.

FRESH PEACH COBBLER

Peach Mixture:

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 to 1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup water
4 cups sweetened sliced peeled peaches
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • Mix cornstarch, brown sugar, and water.  Add peaches and cook until mixture is thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Add butter and lemon juice.  Pour into a greased 8″ round or square baking dish.

Batter Topping:

1/2 cup sifted flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 egg, slightly beaten

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and egg.  Beat until butter is smooth.

Drop spoonfuls of Batter Topping over hot peach mixture.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon white sugar.

Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) 40 to 50 minutes.  Serve warm, in bowls, with vanilla ice cream.

 

Adapted from Farm Journal Country Cookbook

Family Favorites · Uncategorized

Food Themed Bridal Shower … Cheesy Apple Spread is recipe number 1!

It seems my world truly revolves around food, as it does for my daughters!  Our oldest daughter, Megan, was married last year; we asked bridal shower guests to share a favorite recipe to insert in a cookbook.  This year daughter, Sarah, is also engaged and we did the same for her shower.  I  photocopied hand-written recipes of Grandmothers, Great-Grandmothers, and other family members no longer with us.  We also asked each guest to write a note the bride inside the cookbook.

As favors, we gave each guest a copy of three of Megan’s favorite dip/spread recipes which we also served at her shower.

Megan’s recipe favors at bridal shower

The dips shared were Cheesy Apple Spread (today’s post), Hot Wing Dip, and Peach Salsa.   They are all family favorites.  The Cheesy Apple Spread recipe has been in my recipe box for at least 30 years.  Younger daughter, Sarah, loves this dip as well and prepared the dip for the shower.  Cheesy Apple Spread is truly an oldie but still a goodie!

Apple Dip

CHEESY APPLE SPREAD

8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped apple

Ingredients for Apple Dip
  • Blend together the cream cheese and mayonnaise.  Add shredded cheese and chopped apple.  Chill until ready to serve with Ritz or other favorite crackers.
Family Favorites · New Traditions

Cinnamon Bread Pudding … sweet comfort!

It’s spring and I seem to be in a cake mode…wonder what’s up with that?  After finally cleaning my freezer, I decided to make something with the cherished Cinnamon Bread from the Butterhorn Bakery in Frisco.  What to make….hmmmm….bread pudding?

Serving of Bread Pudding

I don’t recall making bread pudding, but I’ve indulged in several fabulous samples through the years.  This is one recipe where I don’t have a family favorite.  Next best choice…my handy, dandy Farm Journal Country Cookbook.

This cherished cookbook was a gift from one of our client’s at Farm Journal in Kansas City in 1976.  It’s my ‘go-to’ book for a traditional midwest recipe.  No surprise, I found a bread pudding recipe and decided to go for it!

Cinnamon Bread Pudding fresh from the oven

Not to brag, but…it was a slice of heaven.  I instantly knew that if I kept it in the house, I would devour the whole pan.  Neighbors Maribeth and Gary were the recipients of half a pan.  After sampling a piece (or two…), the rest will go to family tomorrow.  The bread pudding was wonderful by itself, but a light vanilla or butterscotch sauce would be great on top.

CINNAMON BREAD PUDDING

2  and 2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups (1″ square) day-old cinnamon bread cubes
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Scald milk; add butter and cool.
Scald milk, add butter and cool
  • Add 3 egg yolks and 1 egg white to 1/2 cup sugar; beat to mix well.  Add cooled milk, teaspoon vanilla and salt.

  • Place bread cubes in buttered 1.5 quart casserole.  Pour egg-milk mixture over bread.  Sprinkle nutmeg on top.
Pouring milk mixture over cinnamon bread
  • Set casserole in another, larger casserole containing at least 2″ of warm water.
  • Bake for 45-60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from oven.
  • Serve warm or cool, both are delicious!

Adapted from Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook, 1972.

My Roots

Cooking from the heart

Once upon a time, a little girl named Cathy sat in her Mother’s kitchen in rural Iowa, watching her Mother make amazing dinners every night with items from the garden or raised on their farm.  The smell of baking bread, when walking through the door after school, is forever engrained in my memory.  My Mother would tell stories about the food she was preparing and memories of her childhood and my Grandmother’s cooking.

I come from a long line of great cooks who cooked from the heart.  A pinch of this. A pinch of that.  My Mother was one of six children raised in a 5 room home.  Grandma Susie cooked all of her meals over a wood cookstove with all water coming from a water pump.  Just think what she could do with today’s conveniences.

Recipes and sharing of recipes is truly a gift for our families.  It brings us together to create memories and traditions.  Even in the hustle bustle of career and family commitments, this is a tradition I hold dear.

After several years, I compiled a cookbook for my family and close friends including my favorite recipes and short memories of many dishes.  Little did I know that my daughters would cherish these comments. The picture below is the cover of my cookbook and captures daughters Megan and Sarah helping to make a cake when they were little girls.  They loved to be a part of the process, especially when it came to a dessert and licking the bowl.

In addition, I started a family Christmas newsletter several years ago that always included a special recipe.  Friends and family have commented each year about how much they look forward to the newsletter and have adopted recipes shared as some of their favorites.

After retiring last year from a corporate sales leadership position, my daughters encouraged me to take my stories and recipes to the web.  I hope that you will join me on this journey and become an active part of this website and discussion.  What stories can you recall from wonderful aromas and occasions in your family?  What stories and traditions is your family weaving?