dVerse Poetics: Recipe Poems

Today, Mish is our prompt giver for the Poetics section of our Pub. She is asking us, in spirit of the Season, to give us recipe poems – but not just recipe for food, recipes for solitude, disaster, happiness, peace, war, well being, love, etc. The recipe is my Grandmother’s recipe for old fashioned tea cakes and in the pic, is also her original enameled wooden rolling pin she used when baking over 90 years ago. My mother came to live with my husband and I about two months ago. She has Alzheimer’s and is in frail health, but she remembers these cookies!

Recipe for Memories

She looks puzzled.
Why didn’t anyone tell me I had a child?
Why didn’t mama tell me I had a child?
I sigh deeply and explain,
that when she lived in Tennessee I called
her twice daily –
That she and papa raised me.
That she never mistreated me or left me,
that I always had the best she and papa could afford.
She will nod and sometimes request to be taken to bed.
When she awakens and joins me again in the kitchen,
I mix together softened butter, eggs, vanilla, flour.
I shape and cut and put into the oven.
She sniffs the air.
I remember Mama baking these when I was a child.
I remember her rollingpin with the green handles.
Why didn’t Mama tell me I had a child?

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

Holidays are coming: Old fashioned cheese wafers

public domain clip art

public domain clip art

I got, as we say in these parts, a hankerin’ for these. Cheese wafers? Never had them? Well, I think you have met your new favorite snack addiction. Buttery, savory, cheesey, crunchy…perfect served with champagne, cocktails, beer, whatever punch, as an accompaniment to soups and salads, to munch on while sitting and watching the glow of the fireplace and relaxing. I love these things. It is one of those things you try to hide from yourself but, dang it, you remember and haul them out and finish up the tin of them. My Grandma Ninny made steady batches of these from Thanksgiving through Lent. She kept them stored in cake tins. I always keep mine stored in wide mouth, tightly latching glass cannisters.

Some people cut into strips, make without the pecans, make without the pecans but press a pecan half into the top for a festive garnish. it doesn’t matter – it’s all good. A few of these tucked into a spiffy mug or bowl or put on a plate and covered in plastic wrap with a bow on top just drawls, Howdy! Happy Holidays to a neighbor or hostess, coworker, teacher, bus driver, whatever. I like it best to keep for myself, to be perfectly honest. And here in the South, cheese wafers or cheese straws are ubiquitous and show up every where for every occasion. Even in this day and age, every Southern woman has at least two recipes for these. And in this day and age, so do many Southern men.

About the cheese: You can use pre=grated bagged cheese. I don’t recommend it. That stuff is dry and doesn’t have the same flavor or texture as freshly grated cheese. I like to use a good brand of extra sharp cheddar cheese. I hope you try these and enjoy them. I think you will be surprised at how good they are and I think, you will also be surprised at how much you like them.

Cheese Wafers
2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter cut into slices
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese – 8 oz. block
2 cups flour
several dashes of hot sauce
Optional: 1 cup crushed Rice Krispies or finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put into a large bowl, the sliced butter. Add on top, the grated cheese. Let sit and soften then mix butter and cheese with hands until blended completely. Add flour and hot sauce (and optional Rice Krispies or chopped pecans) and continue to mix with hands until dough is formed. Roll mixed dough into balls about the size of large marbles and place on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten balls with a fork. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until just lightly brown around edges. Cool and remove from baking sheet. Store in airtight container. Can be frozen in airtight container for later use. Great served with cocktails, champagne or to accompany soups and salads. Makes 5 dozen.
NOTE: on waxed paper, press out dough and cut into strips using one of those fancy fluted pie crust trimmers, if you absolutely must have cheese straws instead of cheese wafers.

public domain clip art

public domain clip art

Holiday Sweet Potato (no, not yam) Recipes

photo from NC Sweet Potato Commission

photo from NC Sweet Potato Commission

Okey dokey. Let’s clear this up before we go any further: What is called “yam” in the US is not a yam – it is a sweet potato. Sweet potatoes and yams are not even related or even part of the same family. Yes, both are tubers, yes, both are sweet, both are flowering vines. But…

YAM: grown in Africa, Asia and the Carbbean. It has a thicker skin and some of those pups can grow to be seven feet in length! Yams are starchier, drier, paler interior, darker exterior, must be cooked to be eaten safely, firmer textured, lower in beta carotene and Vitamin C. The yam is part of the lily family.

Sweet Potato: Grown in the Southern US, has tapered ends, flesh can range from white to deep orange, moister, thin skinned, and is a member of the morning glory family. There is a purple variety grown in Okinawa, however. What is called “yam” in the US is actually – Sweet Potato!!! So, no more candied yams, baked yams, fried yams. Unless of course you have been to a specialty grocery and specifically bought a yam imported from the Caribbean, Asia, or Africa.

The Recipes: Cornwallis Yams, er, Sweet Potatoes. I don’t think General Cornwallis ever had this dish or a yam and haven’t a clue as to why this ridiculous name was given to this recipe. But, it is one delicious and rich casserole. It could be considered dessert but it is a side dish typically served during the Holidays. Both of these are standard recipes and came from handwritten recipe cards from my Grandma Ninny’s recipe box and have been part of our family celebrations since Ninny was a baby.  Sweet Potato Pie is a Southern Classic. You folk can have all the pumpkin pie you want, most of us in the South will take Sweet Potato Pie, thank y’all very much.

I did a Christmas post a couple of seasons ago about sweet potato pie, family, and honoring those who have passed before. Here is the link:  kanzensakura.com/2012/12/24/the-smell-of-home a true Christmas-story   I am link challenged and it probably won’t work but the name of the post is The Smell of Home – a True Christmas Story.  You can also search under sweet potato.  I hope y’all enjoy.

Cornwallis Sweet Potato Casserole
6 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon
ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup grated coconut, plus some for garnish (I use the frozen, unsweetened grated rather than the sweetened coconut in a bag or can)
1 1/2 cups milk
½ c. chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:
Boil sweet potatoes until softened. Peel and mash. Season with cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter.  Beat eggs and add to cooled potatoes. Combine with remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch or 3-quart casserole. Bake in a 350 oven until light brown, about 1 hour. Top with a sprinkle of coconut.

Sweet Potato Pie
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves or mace
2 tbs. orange juice
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1 – 2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (12-ounce) package frozen deep-dish piecrusts, thawed
Garnishes: whipped cream, grated nutmeg

Directions
Cook sweet potato in boiling water to cover 30 minutes or until tender; drain .Beat sweet potato and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, orange juice, peel, and spices, beating well. Pour mixture evenly into each piecrust. Bake at 350° on lower oven rack for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Garnish, if desired.

 

Wordless Wednesday: Fried Chicken in 90 year old iron skillet

copyright Kanzensakura

copyright Kanzensakura

Easy peasy Chicken Casserole

Okey dokey – if you are a food snob or vegetarian, move long, nothing to see here. If you do like easy meals, this is for you. I think this is probably THE chicken casserole for all Southern potlucks, church dinners, food to take to a family in time of bereavement, Sunday dinner, company dinner, family dinner. And…if it is good enough to make a daily appearance on the buffet at the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle, Georgia, it’s good enough for me.

Don’t let the canned soups put you off. You can certainly use the low sodium, reduced fat versions of them, or if you just have lots of time, your own sauce, and please, feel free to use fat free/reduced fat sour cream and heart smart kind of margarine. Although to be honest, I’d rather eat some forthright butter than artificial margarine with all the unpronounceable ingredients – but that is just me.  You can also reduce the amount of butter by up to one-half.

You can use leftover chicken, turkey, a rotisserie chicken from the grocer or of course, your own poached chicken breasts, skin and bones removed. I buy chicken breasts on sale, boil, de-skin, de-done and seal up in 2 cup portions so I always have chicken on hand for casseroles, salads, and chicken salad. You can also use broth made from boullion or what I really love and always keep on hand, is a chicken or turkey base – the kind that is a paste and comes in a jar and can found at your local grocery store.

Additional seasonings can be added: sautéed onion, celery, chopped parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, sprinkle of ground cayenne pepper. You can also put in a layer (at the bottom) vegetables: blanched asparagus, thawed frozen or blanched broccoli, thawed mixed veggies. This casserole is your canvas – use your own palate of flavors and ingredients to make it unique. Whole cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be used for a nice company presentation. But folks seem to like it best in its simple, original downhome glory.

This week I will be having this for dinner along with Waldorf salad, and pumpkin bread for dessert. It’s getting cool down here below the Mason-Dixon and time for warm comfort food. Oh my goodness, I can smell this cooking now.  Y’all enjoy.


Chicken Casserole
1 (10-3/4 ounce) can of cream of chicken soup
1 (10-3/4 ounce) can of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chicken broth
4 cups of chopped or shredded, cooked chicken
1-1/2 sleeves of “buttery” crackers or Ritz, if you have to have a name brand
1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, melted

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the soups, sour cream and chicken broth. Add other seasonings as desired, taste and adjust; set aside. Place chicken into the bottom of the prepared casserole dish and cover with the soup mixture. In a separate small bowl, crumble the crackersand mix with melted butter; spread on top of the casserole. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees F for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until casserole is bubbly and cracker topping has browned. Remove and let rest 5 minutes before serving. Can be served as is, or spooned over cooked rice or noodles.   A light sprinkle of cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese the last few minutes is a good addition.

Yummy Nuttin’ of a Sweet Treat Recipe

This really is a nothing kind of recipe, something I would read and flip past. Yeah, sometimes I am a food snob. Really I am! I had this at a friend’s house and she very kindly wrote down for me.  Thank you Minou.

You can use the last of the summer peaches or the very first of the new crop of apples. I used peaches because they are so precious, I want to  see if I can’t just wring every bit of wonderfulness out of them I can before they disappear into that place socks go in the dryer.

So…not as elaborate as my own recipe, but very good and on a busy night, this makes a wonderful end to a thrown together grilled cheese and tomato soup kind of supper. Apple/Peach Dumplings. So easy my SamCat could fix it if he wasn’t so busy being a cat.

Here’s the recipe. Y’all think of me when you serve and folks go…dang! That’s good!  <grin>

Super Easy Apple/Peach Dumplings

2 Granny Smith apples or similar size peaches, peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
8 canned buttermilk biscuits or I prefer, canned “crescent” rolls
3 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Peel, core and slice the apples/peaches vertically into 8 slices each.. Squeeze the lemon into a bowl of water and add the apple/peach to keep from turning brown. In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup water, 3/4 cup of the sugar, the butter and vanilla. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil over medium heat. Separate each biscuit into 2 layers. For the “crescents”, separate into triangles, put the fruit slice in the center and seal roll around it and place sealed end down.  Wrap a biscuit layer around a slice of apple or peach, stretching the biscuit slightly to overlap, and seal on the bottom. Place the wrapped slices, sealed-side down, in a 9- by 12- by 2-inch casserole dish. Pour the hot sugar mixture over the apple/peaches slices. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle the mixture over the tops of the wrapped apples/peaches. Bake until golden brown, 35 minutes. Top wth vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. NOTE: if you can find mace, use in the place of nutmeg. It is the ground hull around the nutmeg and has a wonderful old fashioned, mellow aroma and flavor. I frequently use instead of nutmeg.  And a tiny splash of good bourbon doesn’t hurt any either, added to the sugar water.

public domain images

public domain images

Thoroughly Yummy Thursday – two eggplant recipes

Two very different recipes for eggplant are offered for you.  It is high summer and things like squash, tomatoes, beans, eggplant are coming in fast and furious.

For the Japanese sautéed eggplant – 茄子 Nasu, you can use regular eggplant.  Japanese eggplant I think has a less acidic taste and it just the right size to slice into “coins” dust with seasoned flour and fry or for stir frying.  I was given this recipe from an engineer from Osaka. It is tasty and a bit exotic and takes simple eggplant to another level.  Good side dish with chicken or pork or on its own.

For the homey and spicy Creole Eggplant recipe, regular eggplant is used.  You can use the Japanese eggplant but it will be skinnier and baking times adjusted.  This recipe utilizes fresh summer tomatoes and is an excellent vegetarian meal.  Leave off the cheese for vegan.  When I was doing a stint in Nawlins as a chef, one of the kitchen workers invited us all to his aunt’s home for Sunday Supper.  This was one of the dishes served. This is not one of those highly seasoned, luxurious recipes. It is earthy, basic and excellent with a good French bread slathered with butter, a glass of Southern style sweet tea, and a slice of buttermilk pie. (HINT) I do not always cook in the eggplant shell but add foil to the baking dish so I can remove the casserole, allow to cool, and then wrapping well and freezing. While eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers are cheap; this is a good use of end of summer bounty.

Eggplant #1
茄子 Nasu
5 Japanese eggplants (long and thin cut shortwise into “coins” about ½ inch thick or: 1 medium
regular eggplant diced into similar size pieces.)
1 – 3   cloves minced garlic – to taste
1   quarter sized slice fresh ginger (I use a fresh ginger that is grated and sold in a tube
produce section – about ¾ tsp. This way I always have fresh ginger on hand)
¼ c.    soy sauce or low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp.  mirin, more if you want it sweeter
2 tsp. sake
1 tsp.  sesame oil

Combine Soy sauce, mirin, minced garlic and ginger in a bowl. Slice the eggplant thinly. Toss eggplant into hot pan with small amount of vegetable oil and add the sauce mixture. Saute’ at a medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add a little water if necessary to keep the eggplant moist if needed. Garnish with finely cut green onion and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice or udon, or not!

eggplant - Japanese

Eggplant #2
Matant Livia’s Baked Eggplant
Eggplant – depends on size and how many you want to feed (One medium can serve 4 regular folk or two hungry ones)
The Creole Holy Trinity – onion, bell pepper, celery, chopped finely
Fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 c. Grated parmesan cheese
Few dashes of Tobasco
1/2 tsp of fresh lemon juice
1 – 3 Chopped tomatoes Depending on size and taste preference. I use at least two. (fresh summer tomatoes are
always best for everything!)
1 – 3 tsp Worcestershire sauce (Lee and Perron’s as they say)
Cooking spray

OPTIONAL: Seasoned or unseasoned bread crumbs are good tossed with a bit of butter/margarine and the parmesan cheese, sprinkled on top for last 15 minutes to get all toasty

Take an eggplant, wash well and pierce skin with fork all over. Cut the eggplant in half and spray with cooking spray. Place both halves, cut side down on a cooking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake at 350 until tender. Amount of time varies with size of the eggplant.

Remove from oven and carefully scoop out cooked eggplant and coarsely mash. Add to this the Holy Trinity, parsley, peeled and chopped tomato(s), parmesan cheese, some shakes of Worcestershire sauce, Tobasco, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Let sit a few minutes and taste. Adjust seasonings to taste. Pile back into eggplant shells (or into a sprayed baking dish) and bake until warm and steamy. Add some grated parmesan cheese over top. NOT: Start with smaller amount of seasonings and add more to taste. Creole cooking frequently is “add this, some of that, splash of that.”  Use your taste buds.

creole eggplant

 

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