Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kids' Favorites and Winter

This weekend, I started a new endeavor: to do a modified "once-a-week cooking" regime. It was also the last weekend of winter break *and* moderately cold. I'm teaching three sections this semester of more-or-less the same course, and I'm making very few changes, so I had very little prep work to do. The kids aren't involved in any activities right now. Therefore, the weekend was slow and restful. In fact, I spent a late morning both Saturday and Sunday sleeping in and reading in bed.

Since I desperately love winter cooking and cooking comfort foods, and since I do so well cooking big, I've planned to double everything that I cook for the next few weeks, while it is cold and before the semester and Spring soccer heat up. So, this was a perfect weekend for me to prepare several of Mom's recipes, including two of my kids' favorites and one of my favorites.

Since it was Sunday and we'd all be home for dinner, I decided to double up for Sunday dinner, with two recipes from Grandma: Burger Bean Cups and Coffee Cake. All families have those staple comfort foods. The differ from family to family and region to region and decade to decade, but we all have them. In my family, one of those staple comfort foods for me growing up was Burger Bean Cups. It was one recipe I'd request when I'd know I was in college and going home for the weekend. My kids liked it as well. I've made it for years, and my mom would make it frequently when we'd visit. It's very much a 1970s classic, including both green beans and cream of mushroom soup. Who knows where she got this recipe. There's no provenance indicated on the recipe card, but she did go to the effort of typing the card on an unlined, unadorned recipe card.

Burger Bean Cups

1 can cr. of Mushroom soup
1 lb. gr. beef
1/3 c. fine dry bread crumbs
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
dash pepper
1 pkg. (9 oz.) frozen cut gr. beans (cooked and drained)

1/4 tsp. dried dill leaves

Thoroughly mix 1/4 c. soup, beef, bread crumbs, onion, egg, salt, and
pepper. Divide into 4 mounds on waxed paper. Flatten each into
5-inch circle. Turn up edge of meat to form a 1/2-inch rim; remove from
paper. Place in shallow baking dish. Combine remaining soup, beans
and dill. Spoon into burger cups. Bake at 350 for 30 min.
Makes 4 burger cups.

Now, obviously, a mere four bean cups won't do me much good. There are five people in my immediate family, and Brendan was eating with us. Plus, when do my boys ever eat just one of something they like? So, I more than tripled this recipe and made 8 bean cups and froze the extra seasoned meat and beans separately (not made into cups).

Also, there's no need to add the salt. Really.

Whenever Mom came to visit, whenever we'd visit her, and pretty much whenever she went anywhere, we could count on her bringing her Coffee Cake. In fact, she had a special "Coffee Cake" pan and anyone who knew her well, knows exactly what pan I speak of: silver 9"x11" baking pan with a sliding lid. Oh, yes, she also made other baked goods in it--rice krispie treats and chocolate chip squares mostly. She may have made non-desserts in it, but I can't think of any.

This recipe card indicates that she got the recipe from her sister-in-law, my Aunt Dee; however, buried deep in the recipe box is a very similar recipe in my grandmother's hand, my mom's mom, and Dee's mother-in-law. So, maybe Dee got it from Grandma Maute. It's not a highly unique recipe. It could have come from anywhere, but from now on, we all know it as Grandma Hubbell's Coffee Cake.

Coffee Cake

2 c. brown sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 c. shortening
tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. soda

Mix sugar, flour, shortening, cinn and salt together keeping out 3/4 c.
crumbs to use on top of cake. (I use pastry blender for mixing crumblie

Bake 350 for 30 min.

This is one recipe I didn't double this weekend, being stupid. I just assumed that there would be leftovers for the next night or for breakfast. That's always how it worked at Mom's house. Silly me. Brendan, Nathan, Aidan, and Tynan went to town on it, even fighting over the crumbs.

There were no leftovers within minutes of my cutting the cake.

What is January without beef stew? I wouldn't know, since I've never experienced one. With snow in the forecast, I decided this would be a good week for some beef stew. Ideally, this recipe is best when it's baked in the oven, but it was more convenient to use the crock pot, plus I didn't have an oven proof pot large enough to double the recipe. Doubled, it just fits into my large crock pot.

Mom got this recipe when we lived in Coshocton, Ohio, Susie Tileston.

Susie's Stew

1 1/2 lbs stew meat, salt, pepper (here, Mom added in at a later date, 1/2
tsp basil)

carrots, potatoes, celery, onion <--on top of meat V-8 (2 c?) or
1 tomato sauce 8 oz, 1 tbs. bouillon

3 or 4 Tbs. tapioca

mix liquid and tapioca and pour over.

Bake 3 1/2 hrs at 325

This turns out fine in the crock pot on low and doubles well. At a later date, Mom copied a similar recipe on the back. I'm sure it's fine as well, although I've not made it, nor do I doubt that I ever will. Why would I? Susie's Stew is awesome.

2 lbs stew meat cut in 1 1/2" pieces
2 med onions-cut
3 stalks celery-cut
4 med carrots-cut
1 c tomato juice
1/3 c tapioca
1 tbs sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp basil
(2 med potatoes)

cover and cook 300 --2 1/2 hrs then add potatoes, cover and cook 1 hr until

Finally, I had a couple of cans of chicken due to expire soon. Who knows why I had them in the cupboard since I don't like canned chicken. Maybe I got some wild idea that canned chicken would be good in my lunch? They were on sale? Who knows. Anyway, seeing as I missed my opportunity to use that chicken to pay off library fines during "Food for Fines" and couldn't stand to see it go to waste, I decided I had to figure out a way to use it up. Because one of my children really, really likes rice-based, creamy, baked casseroles, and since no one else in the family really dislikes them *and* they make such good left-overs, which means Brendan will finish them off, I decided to look for some "chicken and rice" kind of thing.

As it turns out, there was such a recipe in the recipe box. It's not one I ever remember Mom making, although I'm sure that there are many meals I've forgotten. The recipe card doesn't look well worn like so many others, but two things drew my attention: The name of the recipe and the provenance.

It's a typical 1970's casserole. Nothing special, but the name "Golden Chicken and Rice" just made me feel warm and sunny. Also, in the late 1960s and early 1970s we lived in Coshocton, Ohio. Both my brother and I remember those years as good years, and I think my mom did, too. She made some good friends there, including Susie. But her closest friend, I think, was an elderly woman, Nina Haus. Nina, a widow, had immigrated with her husband to the United States from Romania, before Communist take over. Nina loved children, gardening, cooking, and hand crafts. She became a motherly figure for my mom, whose mother died while we lived in Coshocton. This recipe is recorded as one of Nina's. Again, it's not unique by any means, there are hundreds if not thousands of similar recipes. But, it was Nina's. And that was important to Mom.

Golden Chicken Soup

1/4 c. onion
1/4 c. gr. pepper
2 tbs. oleo
(Dawn's note: don't you love saying the word "oleo?" Does anyone use that word
any more?)
1 can cr. chicken soup
1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp hot pepper
2 cans boned chicken (5 oz each)
3 c. cooked rice (1 c. rice to 3
c. water) (Dawn's note: I used brown rice because that's all I use for anything
any more)
1 can onion rings (Dawn's note: I forgot to get the canned onion
rings, so I popped into Big Lots and picked up a small bag of off-brand fungyun
type onion rings from the Aisle of Lost Chips)

Saute onions and peppers
in oleo (there's that fun word again!). Add remaining ingredients and bake 10
min. at 450.

OK, so, I decided that the onion rings were to be a topping. It just seemed a little too gross to mix them into the the wet mess. As Brendan said when he saw the chicken, soup, rice, milk, etc. (all but the onion rings) sitting in a bowl, "This looks like cat puke, but I bet it will make good leftovers. I mixed all but the onion rings together, put it in a casserole dish, topped it with crushed onion rings, and popped it in the oven a few days later. I don't know if fresh and warm 10 minutes at 450 would be enough to heat it through, but it certainly wasn't enough time to warm it through cold from the refrigerator. In the future, I'll probably do the more typical "heat at 350 until heated through). Aidan and Brendan liked it. Everyone else ate it without complaint. Brendan finished off the leftovers a couple of days later.

1 comment:

  1. please keep this up. you are really really helping me out with this combination of healthy vegetable-filled recipes and old grandma casserole things. Meets everyone's needs here.