Breads, Uncategorized

Banana Bread

LaVerne and I baked this Banana Tea Bread recipe from the good old Good Housekeeping Cookbook on one of the last days at her house when we were spending lots of time looking and cooking through her recipes. I couldn’t find the one she had shared with us years before, but she chose this as the one to use.

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The recipe she gave my husband when he left home is still my favorite banana bread ever, and when I compared them after I got home, I found that they are identical.

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I’m posting this with many thanks to my friend Selena for her donation to my Walk to End Alzheimer’s this past fall.

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Mom’s Banana Bread

Ingredients:

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup soft shortening

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, unbeaten

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 or 3)

Nuts (optional)

Instructions:

Start heating oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9”x 5” loaf pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Cream shortening with sugar. Then add eggs and continue to beat until very light and fluffy – about 4 minutes altogether.

Blend in flour mixture at low speed alternately with bananas just until smooth; turn into pan.

Bake one hour or until done. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove and cool on rack.

Notes:

There are many variations included in this cookbook recipe which we’ve never tried.

We peel and freeze ripe bananas. When it’s time to thaw them for bread, they’re already halfway there. It always takes one more banana than I think to make up the 1 cup of mashed fruit.

A toothpick inserted into the center of quick bread comes out clean when it is cooked through.

Both the cookbook and Mom’s recipe say to cool overnight before slicing, but we all know that will never happen.

Traditionally, the Steins put pecans into this banana bread (1/4-1/2 cups chopped) when nuts are desired.

Do you have a favorite quick bread recipe?

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Desserts, Uncategorized

Granny’s Ginger Cakes (familiarly known as Granny Cakes)

Ask any member of the Stein family what recipe they remember best about Christmas holiday gatherings and chances are they’ll say, “Granny Cakes.”2015-08-25-12-13-21

The boys’ Grandma Marie made these, but LaVerne always attested that the recipe actually originated with her, and her own grandchildren certainly associate their existence with Grandma LaVerne. The real story may be lost to the mists of time unless the Stein brothers remember the truth…

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This dough was used to make gingerbread people at Christmas when our kids were small, customized for each visiting grandchild. The dough was most often rolled out and sliced into odd-shaped slabs, though. LaVerne always got a twinkle in her eye after they’d been around a couple of days because, as she said, “They’re better when they have a chance to get a little bit tough. Especially with a hot cup of coffee.” That’s still my favorite way to eat them.

Granny’s Ginger Cakes (also known as Granny Cakes)

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 cups flour (+3/4 if needed to roll easier)

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add molasses, ginger, cinnamon and salt to creamed mixture and blend well. Stir soda into buttermilk and stir into molasses mixture (mixture will appear curdled). Gradually add flour and beat until smooth after each addition. Chill dough several hours or overnight. Working with a small amount at a time, pat dough out on floured surface with floured hands to a thickness of half-inch. With sharp floured knife cut into pieces about 3 in. square. Bake on greased baking sheet 375°F for 15 minutes. Do not overbake!

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Notes:

Take your time with this dough. Chill it plenty and work with small portions, or rolling out can be a horrible sticky mess. I use lightly floured parchment paper to help me now.

We have used both fresh and powdered buttermilk with success in this recipe.

In addition to making wonderful fat gingerbread men, this is lovely dough for Valentine’s hearts or birthday dinosaurs or what have you, but it puffs up a fair amount in the baking, so simple shapes are best.

 

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Side Dishes, Uncategorized

Scalloped Potatoes

Brother Stuart sent a note recently to tell me he had come looking for Mom’s Scalloped Potato recipe. I’m a little slow, but here it is, Stuart and Valerie, with many thanks for your generous donation to my recent Walk to End Alzheimers .

This is one of the last recipes we cooked together while Mom was still in her home, and I was able to photograph it and everything, but fell behind on  posting new recipes during that transitional time.

 

When we made the recipe out of Mom’s favorite Good Housekeeping Cookbook,we were fairly certain this was the standard recipe the boys grew up with. The photos and the recipe at the end of this post are what we made at that time.

HOWEVER, I just found this version sent as an email to our daughter from LaVerne, dated 2004.

Scalloped Potatoes

“Dear Kendra, Here is the recipe you wanted. It’s something I had to work out for myself over the years as I was never satisfied with cook book recipes. And you may want to fiddle with the proportions to suit your family or for larger servings. For the three of us I used:

3 medium sized baking potatoes, peeled and sliced thin.

Half a medium onion, sliced thin

About half to 3/4 pound of ham bits or slices (or whatever you put aside from the last ham you served)

Mix well one can mushroom soup with 3/4 can milk and several splotches Tabasco. Warm this in the microwave for faster cooking.

In a buttered pan (I used 7 x 11 inch porcelain) and in single layers arrange:

Potatoes

Cracker or bread crumbs

Onions

Ham

A little of the sauce, saving most to top casserole.

Repeat for at least three layers then put one final layer of potatoes on top. Pour remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with a thin layer of crumbs.

Bake at 400 deg until potatoes feel fork tender. Test after 30 minutes but plan on 45.

The crumb layer is the secret ingredient that separates the potatoes enough to cook nicely through without turning grey and unappetizing.

Other than that, you can’t go wrong. For a bit of color, it is sometimes nice to add a little grated carrot. Have fun. Bon Appetit, Grandma LaVerne.”

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From Good Housekeeping (photos are of this recipe)

4 cups thinly sliced, pared potatoes

2/3 cup minced onions

2 Tbsp flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 Tbsp butter or margarine

1-1/2 cups scalded milk

Paprika

Start heating oven to 375 F. Arrange layer of potatoes in greased 2-quart casserole. Cover with some of onions. Sprinkle with some of combined flour, salt and pepper. Dot with some of butter. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with butter. Pour milk over all; sprinkle with paprika.

Bake, covered, 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer, or until tender. Makes 4 servings.

With ham: Arrange 2 cups ham strips between layers of potatoes.

All right, Brothers Stein, what do YOU remember best?

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Side Dishes, Uncategorized

Five Bean Barbecue Bake

The Stein family traditionally turns to this dish for those big family gatherings in summer, but we recently made it on a cold drizzly October weekend and it’s really good comfort food.

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I’m not even sure I met cousin Barb at the gathering with which I most closely associate my introduction to this dish, but I’m posting this as a thank you for her generous donation to my recent Walk to End Alzheimer’s event.

I was newly married into the Stein family when a reunion was hosted at the folks’ Washougal house on a 4th of July weekend. As always, we were there and pitching in. It rained buckets the day of the gathering and instead of overflowing onto the deck and into the yard, we set up rows of tables in the garage and Mike grilled burger after burger with the grill tucked under the eaves.

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We doubled this recipe at least: ten cans of beans (well, not really – we always used Mike’s own home canned green beans, so one of these was a quart jar) and all the other ingredients went into LaVerne’s vast cooking pot, so huge that James carved her this spoon for cooking in it.

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Five Bean Barbecue Bake

Drain one can each:
Green beans, Yellow beans, Kidney beans, Lima beans (baby limas are best).
Open but don’t drain one can pork and beans.
Brown then dice six slices bacon, and sauté one chopped onion in the drippings. Drain off fat.

Combine above ingredients and add 1/2 cup ketchup , 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 – 1/2 cups brown sugar, and 1/4 pound diced cheddar cheese. Place in casserole, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake 350°F for one hour.

Notes

Because of the richness of this dish, it really is a side and not a main offering. Our advice is to save it for that crowd. It was a really big commitment for just the two of us.

We found that if you pack the brown sugar as usual for measuring, it can make the beans very sweet.

When this dish was created, canned baby limas were a thing. For quite some time they were not available and we doubled the green beans. Now they are available frozen, but yellow wax beans are very tough to find. Substitute your favorite beans if you can’t find the ones suggested here.

Do not use shredded cheese. The cheddar gets chewy and wonderful in the cubes, and is an important aspect of this dish.

I remember feeling that I must really be a true part of the Stein family that weekend, cooking a favorite recipe for an army of folks, sharing laughter and good food in spite of the miserable weather.

Cousin Barb, do you remember this long-ago party?

 

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Desserts, Uncategorized

Nestle Toll House Cookies (Stein Style)

Especially toward the end of her time with us, LaVerne would begin to worry about what to serve as soon as she knew folks were coming to visit, but she could relax as soon as I told her we’d either bake these cookies before a visit, or pull some out of the freezer. Many batches of cookies have passed through Stein ovens, but this is probably the recipe that has been baked most.

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Many thanks to Barbara for supporting my fundraising effort in The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. You can support my walk here.

Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened. The Stein family recipe replaces with shortening, as in the original Nestlé recipe
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
One 12 oz. package Nestlé Toll House semi sweet chocolate morsels (2 cups)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in chocolate morsels and nuts. Drop by spoonfuls onto on greased cookie sheets. Bake: at 375°F 9 to 11 minutes. Makes: about five dozen 2 1/4 inch cookies.
Pan cookie variation: prepared though as directed. Spread into greased 15.5 x 10.5 by 1 inch baking pan. Bake: at 375°F. 20 to 25 minutes. Cool; cut into 35 2 inch squares.

Notes

I put a note about shortening into the actual recipe above because the Steins are so opinionated about that difference, and we wouldn’t want you to get your butter ready in vain.

Our recipe card is simply the recipe from a bag of chocolate chips taped to an index card and family lore says that there is a very old card made the same way showing the shortening as an ingredient, but I am unable to provide photo evidence.

The Steins use pecans when they feel like using nuts as there is walnut allergy in the family.

What is your favorite cookie?

PS I hope this isn’t a repeat post! My records show that I have recorded the recipe but had not yet shared it with you. My apologies if I have – but you know, it’s always good to make a good cookie time and time again.

Do you have a  favorite cookie?

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Side Dishes, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Onion Roasted Potatoes (AKA Case-Hardened Potatoes)

My apologies for not having a photo of the finished recipe. We photographed as we cooked and ate through these recipes the past year, but toward the end of our time at Mom’s house, it was not an organized effort to match photo to recipe we were capturing, as we were taking more care of the mother than the project.

Many thanks to Trudi for your support for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This one’s for you!

If you, too, would like to support my fundraising efforts for the Walk on October 1, you can donate to my page here.

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Onion Roasted Potatoes “AKA Case Hardened Potatoes”

Preheat oven to 450°F

Ingredients
One envelope onion soup mix
Half cup olive or vegetable oil
Quarter cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon marjoram leaves and 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
Quarter teaspoon pepper
2 pounds all-purpose potatoes, cut into quarters

Steps

Blend ingredients (except potatoes) in a roasting pan.
Add potatoes, turn to coat thoroughly.
Bake, stirring occasionally, 35 minutes.
Garnish with fresh parsley.
Makes about eight servings.
Notes: Original recipe says 60 minutes. This is crossed out, replaced with 35, as you can see in the photograph of LaVerne’s copy in her recipe journal, seen above.

Notes

This recipe also works quite well in a cast iron skillet. It is one of those recipes that makes everyone in each family generation smile, I think, whenever we mention it. There was a time when LaVerne bought Lipton’s onion soup mix by the case. We make our own blend with bouillon granules, garlic powder, ground black pepper and dehydrated onion now.

What is a recipe that makes you smile?

 

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Side Dishes, Uncategorized

Fresno Potato Casserole- and Some News About Mom

Below is a post I started some months ago – maybe it’s even a year now.  Much has changed in the year since I cooked with LaVerne in her own kitchen. A year ago this month, we moved her into our home. Three months ago, we moved her into a memory care facility. She has settled well there, enjoying her routine and her friends and activities. She feels safe and loved and cared for. We could not ask for better! When we visit, our beloved Mother is still in there, but it is only her essence that remains, and we lose more parts of her with each visit.  

The original intent of this blog was to cook through the traditional Stein family recipes we’ve all loved from Mom’s kitchen over the years. Here is the last post I was writing as things began to spiral farther down the path we have been following. I couldn’t bear to post it then without some editorial comment, but I couldn’t bear to share the immensity of what we were going through.  Dementia and Alzheimer’s one of those diseases, are terrible robbers of loved ones. These diseases burden caregivers and bank accounts. They steal years and moments from all those connected with a loved one suffering from a disease of the brain resulting in memory loss. Inspired by my friend Kevan, whose wife is nearing the end of her journey down this cruel road, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and work to raise funds for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s (our walk is October 1st this year).  As a thank you to each person who donates, I have promised to post a new recipe or poem here on the blog – to share our story and to spread the word. Here is my fundraising page.  If you donate, I’ll add a post for you, too. Here’s last year’s recipe, as thank you to Kevan.

LaVerne is now becoming less and less able to function in the kitchen on her own, and re-visiting her recipes with her is real joy for both of us, so that is what we’re doing.

Finding and recreating these beloved recipes is so gratifying, but it’s also had another delightful result. As we poke through Mom’s favorite cookbooks, sift through recipe boxes, and wander together through our memories, we are finding new recipes in old books. Sometimes they look so good we just have to try them.

The first of these deviations was Chocolate Zucchini Cake, which is getting rave reviews from all over. This time, it’s a creamy, flavorful potato recipe, again from Sunset’s Favorite Recipes II Cookbook. Fresno Potato Casserole caught LaVerne’s eye one evening as we were deciding what to make for dinner, and we just kept going back to it. It was clear that we had to make it when we found all the ingredients in the larder.Here is a rare photo of my mother-in-law LaVerne in action. It’s not been common for anyone to catch her at work in the kitchen, though she’s spent about sixty years in charge of one.

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You’ll have to take my word for it that the dish itself was lovely. We were too busy enjoying making and eating it to capture any pictures except this one of LaVerne slicing the potatoes.

Fresno Potato Casserole

2-1/2 to 3 pounds thin-skinned potatoes

4 strips bacon, crisply cooked, drained and crumbled

4 green onions, thinly sliced (including tops)

1/2 cup milk

1/2 pint (1 cup) sour cream

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

3/4 cup seasoned croutons, purchased or homemade (page 25), slightly crushed

3 T butter or margarine, melted

Pour water into a 3-qt pan to a depth of 1 inch. Add potatoes, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until tender when pierce (about 25 minutes). Drain well, peel and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Arrange half the slices in a greased shallow 2-quart casserole or baking dish. Top with half the bacon and half the onions. In a small bowl, combine milk and sour cream; spread half the milk mixture over onions, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup of cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Repeat layers. Sprinkle croutons on top and drizzle with butter.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until heated through. Makes 6 servings.

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