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.

2015-09-01-15-22-22

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.

2015-09-01-11-58-18     imag1369_2

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

2015-09-01-11-58-28

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?

Standard
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.

2016-04-29-12-19-25

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?

Standard
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.

2015-08-10 18.46.09

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.

Standard