Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thumbprint Cookies - Sonja Heine Cookies

So it is really cold here in Illinois this morning, so I started the baking. I mixed up a bunch of cookies yesterday, and today I'm going to keep the house warm by baking.

Starting with the smallest batch. This makes only about two dozen.
From Leone Potter

1/2 C butter (recipe says shortening)
1/4 C. Brown Sugar (firmly packed)
1 egg yolk
1/2 t vanilla
1 C sifted flour
1/4 t salt
1 egg white
3/4 C finely chopped pecans
Tart red jelly

Mix butter thoroughly with brown sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla.
Sift flour with salt & stir into butter mixture.
Preheat oven to moderate heat (375°)
Beat egg white slightly.
Roll dough between palms of hands into 1" balls.
Dip balls into egg whites and roll in pecans.
Place 1" apart on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and quickly press gently on top of each cookie.
Return to oven and bake 10 more minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack.
Before serving, place a bit of red jelly in the thumbprint.

Now, all we have to do is figure out why these are named after a skater?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Cookies - so many memories

Okay - now I'm thinking cookies. I bought four pounds of butter today. What can I say? It's a start.

The cookies all have memories attached.

Gingersnaps - made with butter. The recipe says: might as well double. This is my brother's favorite.

Shortbread - Grandma T's recipe. A Cream of Tartar cookie. Rolled out with Grandma D's rolling pin, these are crisp and delicious, often encrusted with impossible colors of frosting. We have a little Scottie dog cookie cutter (Roosevelt era) that is excellent, and makes a nice sized cookie especially when frosted with blue icing.

Rugelach - a recipe my neighbor brought to us. Sour cherry. Worth all the work.

Sugar cookies - Mrs. Juel's recipe, clearly doubled makes millions of cookies. Another Cream of Tartar recipe. There is a certain taste to them that is irresistible and I love them when they are slightly over baked.

Thumb prints (Sonja Heine cookies is what Grandma D always called them) Basically shortbread balls rolled in pecans, pressed as they come out of the oven. Serve with a blob of tart jelly - red currant, plum. Why are these named for a skater?

Krumkaka - my beloved aunt Ann used to labor over these crispy tubes that we filled with whipped cream and strawberries. I'm going to make these this year.

Date Filled - Little pillows of cinnamon dough, plump with cooked dates. Mom loves these. They are an acquired taste in my opinion.

Meringues - Filled with pecans and chocolate chips. Grandma D had Celiac's and couldn't eat gluten - but she LOVED sweets. Meringues went in the heated oven at night, oven was turned off, and they dried out over night.

Divinity - white, sweet, time consuming.

Penuche Fudge - Brown sugar fudge. Paradise.

Peanut Brittle - made in a cast iron skillet and poured onto the granite counter top. Remember to add a pinch of salt. I especially like watching the candy foam when you add the baking soda.

So, the question now remains: where do we start to bake?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Planning the Cookie Baking!

Every year we get together with the neighbors to bake cookies - This is the recipe from my grandmother, Frances Potter Tabor - Shortbread

1 lb of butter
1 C Brown Sugar

4 C flour
1/2 t soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

Mix well. Chill until it is firm enough to handle.

Roll out to 1/8" or thinner if you prefer. It will handle some additional flour for the board and the pin without getting hard to work or changing the flavor/texture

Cut into shapes - sprinkle with colored sugar or add cinnamon candies or currants as decoration. We do this sparingly as we like to frost them, too.

Bake at 350° until the edges begin to brown. Time will vary depending on thickness and size of cookies. I like the flavor of the cookie when it gets a bit "too" brown, but not everyone does, so watch them.

Cool and frost with way too much colored icing.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Starting to think about Thanksgiving

Preliminary thoughts of delicious foods are running through my head. Last night Lewis brought over a carrot and daikon salad dressed with celery seed, lemon juice, olive oil, and a Japanese condiment made of Umeboshi Plums. It was excellent and I will add that to the table for Thanksgiving.

What else...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Apple Picking in Indiana

Last Sunday we loaded up the family and drove to our favorite orchards in Laport County Indiana - Michigan City area. It was a lovely day, and although we had a smaller time window than our usual lazy day, we didn't feel time pinched.

We go each year with our neighbors Melissa and Lew and their girls. This year we added Melissa's brother Collins and his family. Traffic was easy and that set the tone for the day.

We started at Radkes. They have had their orchard in the family for over 100 years, and they have a tractor pulled wagon and apple pullers made out of 2 liter soda bottles and PVC pipe. They have lots of younger trees and all the trees were heavy with fruit. We picked mostly golden delicious, golden russets and musta apples at Radkes, because as much as we love the honey candy and the pumpkins, we are really waiting for our favorite fruit farm to open at noon.

Pavolka's Fruit Farm is the grail orchard for us. Owned by Dorothy Pavolka, it's been in the family for over 80 years. They have some younger trees planted, but they also have older varieties that we love. Melissa and I each picked 20# of Wolf River apples for baking. Three apples will fill a towering pie and collapse during baking into a cinnamony mush - I'm not a fan of the crunchy apple pie. We filled bags with our favorite eating apples, but not before enjoying a picnic under the trees.

One hundred pound of apples heavier, we headed home. This week I have been inspired by apples to make and apple pie and apple sauce (2 times). The first batch of apple sauce made me want to make latkes (for how else do you bring two diverse cultures together but through the fried potato?).

Microwave applesauce -
Fill a microwave safe bowl with peeled and sliced apples. We have one of those crank apple peelers that cut the apples into spirals. This uniform thickness makes it easy. I use a white porcelain souffle dish.
Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap.
Put in the microwave on high for three (3) minutes.
Uncover and stir. The apples should be getting mushy.
Put back in the microwave for 3 more minutes.
Take it out and mash the slices with a fork or a pastry knife (my all purpose mashing tool for avocados, bananas, and applesauce.)
Let it cool a little (it's going to be HOT!) and then check and see if it is sweetenough for you. If it is, you can add cinnamon if you would like. If not, add a bit of sugar to taste.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Year - Rosh Hashanah 2008

This is a confusing and emotional new year, with Sam's mom not doing well physically and considering an inpatient physical therapy program that will help (possibly) get her back on her and feet and Sam's dad in Cardiac care at Wyle Cornell hospital in NYC with a 6cm aortic aneurysm.

Liz went to SD to see how Mom is doing post cataract surgery (I guess, quite well with renewed vision like she hasn't had since elementary school) so she is on the road today.

Sam and I shopped this morning, and it was a zoo both at the Marketplace on Oakton and the Jewel on Howard (the one with the big Kosher section that puts the Jew in Jewel). I scored a 4+ lb brisket and the making of a serious kugel. I also pulled out every stale bit of cereal we had in the house and tossed it all together to make a salty, peppery cereal mix.

So, I'm using last year's kugel recipe. We shall see if lightning strikes twice!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cooking for Mom

Just wanted to keep a list of all the major comfort/never foods (read that as Beef)that Mom had me make while I was here:

Beef stroganoff - froze three large containers. Just add sour cream.
Chicken soup base - three or four large containers of Chicken soup starter. Just add noodles, pearl onions, and peas for Ann Tabor stew, or make dumplings, or just eat.
Meat loaf - made three small loaves (or is that meats-loaf)
Beef brisket a la Rhoda Staub - Heinz Chili Sauce and onion. - 2 containers
Beef soup - three LARGE containers - just add potatoes
Ground beef with onion- browned and ready for spagetti or what have you - 5 one-plus pound bags.
Lemon and Garlic chicken - two containers with three thighs and one with six.
Twice baked potatos - a dozen; the triple by-pass special with butter, sour cream & cheddar cheese.

Still to mix up: Eleanor Klein's Bran muffins (that live in the fridge until you are ready to bake them) and molten chocolate cakes that do the same (wait for you).

It's good that Mom's issues are pulmonary and not cardiac!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

California Eating

We have returned from Northern California, the Loire Valley of the United States, and we have eaten some amazing things. I thought that I should make a quick list of the area specific foods that we enjoyed:

Drakes Bay Oysters - medium ones were the size of bread plates. We bought five dozen of them at the estuary. Some we ate raw and most Al grilled (lightly). They steam slightly in their shell and only need a squeeze of lemon or a dollop of salza. Salty and delcious. Who knew? I've always hated cooked oysters!

Cowgirl Creamery cheese - Mt. Tam - a triple creme semi soft cheese was AMAZING! Red Hawk, a brine washed triple creme - is amazing but stinky. Once past your nose, you are good to go. Al said he once left it in the refrigerator for a couple weeks and it was even stinkier! You go, Al!

Marin French Cheese Co Brie - Yum. Made in Petluma. Available nationally I think.

Audelssa Estate Winery - only got a tour and a tasting, but Eric's 2005 & 2007 Cabernet blends are amazing. Broke down and bought some. They will arrive in October.

Pamela poured a '61 (you read that right, almost as old as I am) Mouton Rothschild. Pamela says that wines that old have a short window to drink once they are open. So we drank it. Tom made beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, cauliflower with herbs de Provence, and a heirloom tomato salad. Yum again.

The peaches were amazing, like candy. Can hardly wait for Michigan peaches!

Illinois produce is, however, as delicious as the stuff we found. Really.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Why I plant a garden - So Much Depends Upon a Red Wheelbarrow

I guess this is my Garden Manifesto.

We always had a garden up until my freshman year in high school when my family moved to the house at the corner of 16th and 7th where they wasn't space. After we moved, for a while, my mother rented a "community garden" plot at the edge of town, but South Dakota being what it is we needed to carry water to the garden, but the yield was not equivalent to the the effort required.

Those first gardens were amazing. I can picture two. One at the big pink house in Hoven where we had dahlias the size of salad plates and fresh peas that were so sweet you would eat them right there in the garden. My friend lived next door and she had rhubarb that was enormous! We sat under the bushes with mayonnaise jar lids full of sugar, dipping the sour ends of the stalks into the sugar, crunching down on their juicy tartness, and sucking the sweetness in.

At the white house on 9th Avenue where we first lived in Brookings, we had a garden the size of a full lot. After we moved the owners actually put an apartment building where the garden had been - that's how big it was. Peonies, daisies, hosta, hollyhocks, and vegetables! Grandma and Mom planted the vegetables in rows and let the flowers tend to themselves. Rows of beans and tomatoes are what I remember. One year we planted some blue corn that my friend Joan (now a federal judge) and her father gave me along with some potatoes that they had left after planting. At the far end of the garden we had five hill/rows of strawberries. Beyond the berries was a 50 gallon oil drum used for burning refuse and beyond that, the alley.
It was a chore to weed the garden, but we had the space so we hoed and weeded, set the sprinkler, and harvested. All the produce typically came in at once, and we would freeze beans and corn and can tomatoes for the winter. Mom had (until last year) an International Harvester chest freezer that she bought third hand in 1956. We would fill it with produce - double bags for holiday meals and the skinny beans (what Grandma called "company beans") all in a bag. Other produce came from friends - chokecherries, sweet corn, and tomatoes from the Wheelers especially. If we could get green apples they were peeled and frozen as well.

What else do you do with your summer and that space in the yard? I don't know. I plant a garden.

So, why now?
I plant a garden because:

It is magical when the children and their friends head out with a large bowl or basket and return with it overflowing with sugar snap peas and strawberries. We wash the peas (I use no pesticides or chemical fertilizer but the city sprays for mosquitoes) and they go on the table, green and crisp. The strawberries have not made it past the sink before being popped into hungry mouths. Shortly thereafter, the peas are gone as well.

It is a real pleasure to eat food that we have grown. The peppery arugula, with a bit of good olive oil and salt, is amazing. Add a bit of feta, and it's perfect.

It is important that my children know that food does not come from the store. We can not grow all our own food, but we can grow some and we can meet the farmers at the market on Saturdays and Wednesdays and know who grows more of the food we eat.

We live more sustainably because we garden. Because we garden, we have a compost pile that receives not only garden and yard clippings but all the vegetable waste from our table (cores, peels, stems and spoilage).

I like having fruit trees. They are my offerings to the squirrel and raccoon gods, and once in a while they let us have some, too. Peaches and pears mostly. The apples they seem to keep for themselves.

I can get away by myself. It's funny how I can work in the garden for an hour and nobody bothers me. Especially when it is wet or cold and muddy. Planting peas around St Patrick's day is usually a solo proposition.

I get to have tools that would make Buffy the Vampire Slayer proud. Wooden stakes and a pair of Japanese shears that look positively medieval.

We get to share. We ALWAYS plant too many tomato plants. The cucumbers go MAD. We plant the basil forest.

My daughters are learning the lessons that I learned. We grow our own food. It tastes better. We know which wild plants (aka weeds) we can eat and which ones will hurt us. It's fun.

Monday, May 5, 2008

First Outdoor Eating 2008

It has been chilly.
Bonus - keeps the insect life at low ebb.
Deficit - not enough time just sitting out enjoying the weather.

Saturday we got cold and stayed that way. I was able to put on full body armor and attack the creeping raspberries, but still haven't finished planting.
Sunday was beautiful. Hannah & Sophia went biking and canoeing with our neighbors Lew and Cynthia, and they generally had a fine day in the sun. When they got home we celebrated the first really nice day with a pot-luck gathering. Sam had a taste for barbecue sauce - so on the grill went:
1 fresh onion
1 chicken, cut and marinaded in orange juice, onions, & Garlic
new potatoes wrapped in a foil pouch

We added cheesey polenta with roasted garlic (should have been cheese grits, but out of grits - so polenta are grits-like) and some weird broccoli thing that Sam bought.
Lew and Cyn and Ellie added an enormous salad filled with ripe avocado slices.

We ate it all up. Can't say if it was SO delicious or if hunger,as they say, makes the best sauce, but we were all happy.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Long time gone - but it's spring again!

We have celebrated another delicious Easter festival. This year we hosted a brunch because Liz, Mom, and Abby were heading down to Florida to see Sissy and the kids. Other guests included the Lancasters and the Racine Tabors. So brunch, an ethos shift:

The menu featured -
Bagels from New York Bagel and Bialy in Skokie with cream cheese
Smoked Salmon
"Puffy Pancake" - a Dutch Baby pancake baked in a cast iron skillet and served with lemon slices and powdered sugar. I made three, five-egg pancakes.
Three pounds of bacon
Fruit salad
Deviled eggs (Liz makes these better than I do).
"Monkey bread" - caramel rolls made in a bundt/tube pan
Bloody Marys (yum)

Brunch hypotheses and corollaries:
No matter how much bacon you have, there is never enough.
Canadian bacon is not an adequate substitute.
Bloody Marys are required and are as delicious without the vodka.
It's the horseradish.
Spicy olives on skewers add a little something.
Puffy pancake is easy and delicious.
Wow factor unusually high.
Liz has a way with Rhodes bread.
There are never too many deviled eggs.
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So What Are We? Chewish? by Kate Tabor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.