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Oatmeal Cake just like Mom used to make

Oatmeal cake with broiled topping is truly a walk down memory lane. My Mother didn’t make this cake often, but when she did, it was a treat.

This time I decided to bake the cake in two 9×9″ pans and freeze one for later…or so I thought. While the cakes and topping were cooling and while I was trying to settle grandson, Evan, into his afternoon nap, the dogs decided to sample one of the cakes. I was so unhappy, I didn’t take the time to snap one of those naughty dog photos!

Luckily one cake remained and it was delicious! The cake is moist and the crunch topping is so yummy.  Top with a dallop of whipped cream.

Thanks, Mom for a great recipe.  And to the dogs…I’ll choose to say nothing.

OATMEAL CAKE

1 cup quick oatmeal
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups flour plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 9×13″ (or two 9×9″) cake pans.
  • Mix together oatmeal and boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes and cool.
  • Mix flour, brown sugar, white sugar, shortening, eggs, salt, cinnamon and soda. Add cooled oatmeal.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes. Prepare topping while the cake is baking.

TOPPING:
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup coconut

  • Bring all ingredients to a boil. Spread topping over cake while cake and topping are hot.

  • Put cake and topping under broiler and let topping brown.

Serve warm with whipped cream.

Family · Family Favorites · Home · My Roots

Good Old Fashioned Apple Pie and a Great Book

Recently our book club read and reviewed ‘Tallgrass’ by Sandra Dallas, a historical novel that addresses the life and times of the small Colorado town and the controversial internment camp that divided the townspeople.  It was an great book and spurred an excellent discussion.  We all agreed that Sandra Dallas, who lives in Colorado and has family ties to Iowa, has an excellent voice for her characters.

Our book club always begins our gathering with a wonderful potluck typically with a theme associated with book. This evening we enjoyed sushi, edemame salad, fried rice, salads, fruit and much more. After brainstorming with my book club buddies, I decided to make an Old Fashioned Apple Pie in honor of Mary Stroud, a key character in the book.

My favorite Apple Pie is, again, from one my all-time favorite cookbooks. I must confess that I don’t make my own pie crust.  I think the Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts are excellent and I’d rather spend time on the good part…the filling!

As I was making this pie and cutting the vents for the top crust, I couldn’t help but think of my Mother and the hundreds, if not thousands, of pies that she baked over the years. I carry on her vent design, simple but effective.

The pie is excellent on its own but always wonderful topped with vanilla bean ice cream, too!

OLD FASHIONED APPLE PIE

Pastry for 2 crust pie
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons flour
dash salt
6 cups thinly sliced, pared tart cooking apples
2 tablespoons butter

  • On lightly floured surface, roll out half of pastry into an 11 inch circle. Use to line 9 inch pie plate, trim. Refrigerate, with rest of pastry until ready to use.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • In small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, flour and salt, mixing well. Add to apples in large bowl, tossing lightly to combine.
  • Turn into pastry-lined pie plate, mounding high in center; dot with butter.

 

  • Roll out remaining pastry into an 11 inch circle. Make several slits near center for steam vents; adjust over filling; trim.

  • Fold edge of top crust under bottom crust; press together with fingertips. Crimp edge decoratively.
  • Bake 45-50 minutes, or until apples are tender and crust is golden-brown.
  • Cool partially on wire rack; serve warm.
  • Optional:  Top with vanilla bean ice cream.

Recipe from:  McCall’s Cook Book, 1963

Family Favorites · My Roots

Old Fashioned Potato Salad…just like Mom used to make

Potato Salad was a must-have side dish for every picnic and barbecue.  My Mother made THE BEST potato salad ever and I can replicate it pretty well. There are no measurements, just a ‘pinch of this and a pinch of that’ type of preparation. When my Mother made it, she used onions from the garden and eggs from our farm.

My Potato Salad is pretty darn good, but you can never top what Mom could do!

POTATO SALAD

SALAD:
Boiled, peeled and cubed potatoes
Boiled, peeled and chopped eggs
chopped green onions (or sweet white onion)
celery seed (or chopped celery)

DRESSING:
mayonnaise
milk
prepared mustard
sugar
salt

  • Mix together potatoes, eggs, onions (and celery if desired).  Sprinkle with celery seed.
  • In separate bowl, mix mayonnaise with enough milk to thin to consistency of salad dressing. Add sugar and salt to taste.
  • Refrigerate for several hours before serving. The flavor is best the next day.
Family Favorites · My Roots · Vegetarian

Cucumbers and Onions–Mom’s Style

My Mother was an avid gardener growing lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, squash, green beans, peas, sweet corn, peppers, raspberries, strawberries, etc.  The rich top soil of Iowa made for  a prolific harvest each year. She would can and freeze vegetables and fruit for the family to enjoy all winter. Our farmhouse basement ‘fruit room’ was a treasure trove of pickles, canned tomatoes, relish, vegetables, soups, etc.

 

One of my favorite summer side dishes was my Mother’s cucumbers and onions. The recipe is simple, not written down, but made from memories in that Iowa farm kitchen.

CUCUMBERS AND ONIONS–Mom’s Style

Peel and thinly slice cucumbers and sweet onion.  Soak in cold, salted water for 30-45 minutes.  Drain.  In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise, dash of milk, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over cucumbers and onions and serve immediately.

Family Favorites · My Roots · Vegan · Vegetarian

Springtime memories of Mom….gathering and cooking Morel Mushrooms

Mother's 1968 Morel Mushroom Bounty
Mother’s 1968 Morel Mushroom Bounty

Our Iowa farm was near a large wooded area known as Ferguson’s Timber. This timber was my Mother’s favorite place to hunt those fabulous, spring Morel Mushrooms. She would go to the timber every day she could to hunt and gather the mushrooms to cook, freeze and share with friends and family. My Mother had a keen eye for Morels and taught my sister, brother and I that Morels look like a sponge and are easy to distinguish from other mushrooms; however, she was quick to show us the poisonous ‘false morel’.

1968: I display 2 large morels (love the skinny body and clothes choice!)

Morels are found throughout the Midwest and in parts of eastern Europe. My ancestors, in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) would have gathered these mushrooms in the old country and were probably thrilled to learn that they also grew in their new home, Iowa.

There were two primary recipes my Mother served for these small gifts from heaven:

  • Fried Morels:   After washing and trimming the mushrooms, Mother would cut the mushrooms in half, dredge in flour and brown them in butter, adding salt and pepper.  The result was a wonderful browned, crispy, savory Morel.
  • Scrambled Eggs with Morels:  After washing and trimming the mushrooms, Mother would brown the chopped mushrooms in butter until soft then pour beaten eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper, over the mushrooms and cook until hard.   The mushrooms add an earthy, wonderful flavor to ordinary scrambled eggs.

Unfortunately, Colorado is not a natural source for Morels and I have been craving Morels since my Mother became ill in the mid-1990s.  She  would lovingly gather and freeze Morels to cook when I would come home to visit. I was delighted to find dried Morels in our local Savory Spice Shop, www.savoryspiceshop.com.

Dried Morels from Savory Spice Shop
Close up of dried Morels
Reconstituting dried Morels

I have saved these earthy morsels for my spring craving.  Mother’s Day is approaching and it’s time to honor my Mother and this spring family ritual. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

The following recipe is adapted my Mother’s recipe using olive oil instead of butter and adding a pinch of Herbs de Provence.  More Morels, please!

SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH MOREL MUSHROOMS

Scrambled Eggs with Morels

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2-1 ounce dried Morels, reconstitute per directions (or 1-2 cups fresh Morels), chopped
4 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon water
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of Herbs de Provence

  • Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan.  Add chopped morels and brown for 5 minutes or until cooked through/soft.
Saute Morels
  • Whisk eggs with 1 teaspoon water.  Add salt, pepper and herbs.  Add eggs to mushrooms and cook until eggs are to your liking.