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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