Archive for November, 2009

Sugar Cookies

One of the best things I learned in my mom’s kitchen was not a recipe for food, but a recipe for fun.

The kitchen was the hub of family life and in addition to cooking and eating, the kitchen was for hanging out, touching bases, and being together.

Being the youngest of four children, I was blessed to have many nieces and nephews around to enjoy and there was no greater time than Christmas to have fun in the kitchen!

One of my favorite activities to do with children is to decorate sugar cookies. Everyone has their own canvas to paint, you can paint more than one and then you can save the best and eat the rest, how great is that?

Our favorite sugar cookie recipe is adapted from the “Joy of Cooking”

Rich Roll Cookies

Cream together
1 cup butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Add and beat in
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine together and then add:
2 1/2 cup sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind (this really adds to the flavor of the cookies)

Chill dough 2 hours or more before rolling. Roll out on floured board cut out 1/8-1/4 inch thick shapes and bake at 350 on a greased cookie sheet about 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom. Do not overcook. Cool completely and then paint with frosting.

Sugar cookie frosting

Cream together
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup soft butter
Add and continue beating 1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3-4 tablespoons of milk (use enough milk to make a consistency that you can use a small children’s paint brush to easily paint the cookie, but not to thin that it will not harden or set up on the cookie).
Separate the frosting in small bowls and then add food coloring to each individual bowl. Give each child a sheet of waxed paper to set their cookies on before painting.


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Let the cooking begin!

Thanksgiving brings back a lot of memories. When my relatives set down to dinner they had no idea of the many hours, days, and weeks of preparation that went on in our kitchen preparing for the Thanksgiving meal. I recall my mother freezing the end slices (otherwise known as the heal) from loafs of bread for months prior to thanksgiving. They would later be mixed with homemade cornbread, butter, seasonings and turkey broth to make a delicious stuffing. Broths left over from soups and vegetable dishes would also be frozen and later mixed into the turkey broth to add extra flavor to the turkey gravy.

Women from my mom’s era learned to use every resource to make a tasty and plentiful meal.

In addition to my mom working a full time job, she cleaned the turkey, stuffed it, roasted it, made homemade pie crust for pumpkin, walnut, and other assorted pies. She baked a from scratch German chocolate cake and peeled two kinds of potatoes for creamy mashed and candied sweet potatoes. Then, there was Jello salad, cranberry salad, green bean casserole, along with dinner rolls and on and on and on.
In contrast, I will be hosting my husband’s family, the Williams’, at my home this Thanksgiving 2009. Yes, I work too, but I will go to Von’s and buy a pre-cleaned Butterball turkey with a thermometer. I will brine it for 24 hours and then roast it in my convection oven. I will make semi homemade mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and will trade the candied yams for oven roasted dill carrots, and the green bean casserole for roasted garlic green beans. I will make a homemade walnut pie and pour it into a pre-made Mrs. Smith’s frozen pie shell along with a from scratch Red Velvet Cake (hubby’s request). I will make fresh cranberry salad, and then I will toss a Dole ready to toss Caesar salad, and lastly, I’ll brown and serve dinner rolls. After all is eaten and done, I will pack the dishes away in my automatic dish washer and retire to the computer to update my Facebook.

Thankfully, my two dear sisters and sister-in-law, will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner at my parent’s home. My mom will be tucked away in bed, she may not know who is around her or what day it is, but she will be lovingly fed a delicious turkey dinner, and she will feel the love around her.

To my mom and mom’s everywhere, thank you for the many Thanksgiving meals and all the work and love that went into every bite. May we make you proud and carry on the traditions you taught us.

And finally, to my dear daughters Sarah and Christa and my beloved granddaughter, Kennedy, may you too keep the family traditions for years to come.

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This is not a traditional German Chocolate cake recipe. My mom got this recipe from her friend, Velma Carmack.

I loved it when my mom made this cake instead of the traditional recipe, I think it tastes a little lighter and is minus the coconut.

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups regular sifted flour
3/4 cup sweet Ghirardelli cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Dump all ingredients one by one into a large bowl and stir well or use an electric mixer on medium and blend until all ingredients are well mixed. Pour batter into 3 oiled and floured 8 inch cake pans. Bake at 350 for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool cakes completely.


In a small sauce pan combine 3 (very) heaping tablespoons of flour with 1 1/2 cups of cold water. Cook stirring continuously with a wire whisk until a thick paste forms. Cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream two cubes or 1 cup of real butter with 1 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Add in the cooled flour mixture and continue beating until smooth. Add one teaspoon of real vanilla extract and 1 1/2 cups of finely chopped walnuts.

Place one layer on plate and frost top and sides of cake. Repeat until all three layers are assembled. Chill and serve.

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The 1950’s was the decade following the food rations of WWII and the new trend in food was quick and easy, high fat, processed foods. My mom was a progressive 1950’s mom and she was all about margarine, tang, spam, and Velveeta pasteurized process cheese.

Seriously, I did not taste real cheddar cheese or real butter until I was in my late teens.

In spite of that, she was a great cook. Then as today, most every kid loved mac and cheese and I was no exception. My mom’s macaroni and cheese was divine. It started with seashell shaped macaroni saturated in Velveeta cheese which meant that every bite burst with creamy, yummy cheese.

Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups [8 oz.] seashell macaroni, uncooked;

3/4 pound [12 oz] Velveeta, cut up in cubes;

1/3 cup Milk

1/8 tsp. Pepper

Cook macaroni as package directs; drain well. Return to pan.

Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Cook on low heat until Velveeta is melted, stirring frequently. You can serve at this point or you can transfer to a well oiled glass dish and top with grated cheese (this is where I would add real cheddar and real shredded Parmesan cheese), sprinkle with paprika and bake at 350 until bubbly and slightly golden on top.

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