Saturday, June 12, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
- 1 package active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
- ¾ cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
- ½ cup butter or margarine softened
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 4 ½ - 5 cups flour
- 2 ½ cups chopped walnuts
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 1 egg
- 2 tsps. Cinnamon
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a bowl. Stir in milk, margarine, eggs, sugar, salt and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make it easy to handle.
Turn on floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until elasticky. Put into greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place til it doubles (1 to 1 ½ hours). Punch dough down and divide it in half.
On floured surface, roll into a rectangle (15 x 12) put half the filling in each rectangle. Roll up the longways. Pinch the ends of the dough. Curve it into a snail-shape. Cover and let it double (1 to 1 ½ hours).
Bake at 350 for 35-45 mins.
My mom makes Christmas Morning Bread each Christmas Eve. While we sleep, it rises, and then in the morning she bakes it. We eat it in the living room while opening stockings. I called my mom to ask her the recipe and I learned 2 interesting things about it:
1. It’s called Yugoslavian Coffee Cake! I swear I thought it was called Christmas Morning Bread.
2. One year while I was growing up my mom didn’t make it – she probably thought, “We’re very busy this year and I’ll just skip it”, thinking it wouldn’t matter much to anyone. She told me that my dad, brother and I were outraged when there was no bread on Christmas morning. It didn’t feel like Christmas without Christmas Morning Bread. She was laughing when she told me this.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Daniel was the cook. I was the watcher. Daniel would cook and I would watch.
Daniel was the cook and he liked to bake too and he cooked two things on Saturday mornings before cartoons - pancakes or waffles. Those were the choices. Panckakes were cooked on the griddle topped with butter and syrup Vermont maple syrup kept in the fridge so it had to be heated in the microwave before you put it on the pancake.
Footnote: mom didn’t know how to work a microwave when we first got it and put hamburgers in there to cook but for too long, for the length you would in the oven; she cooked them for 10 minutes in the microwave, and well, that’s too long.
So that was pancakes. Waffles were different, heart shaped waffle iron, syrup and butter on top. We reminded ourselves that this is how they made the first Nike shoes.
Daniel was just learning how to read these sorts of things; measurements and cups when he started cooking on saturday morning so that mom and dad didn’t have to get up so early for cartoons, and so mom drew all the bowls and cups and spoons on the recipe so he’d know which was which. This was sacred – an index card kept in a wooden box of index cards with old family recipes, wisdom passed down and all that. Later, though, mom said she didn’t have any recipes from her mom and the box of index cards were just a few things she had collected over the years, nothing special she said. Nothing special.
The recipe: First you mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, in big red bowl. The white bowl was smaller and that’s where you mixed the wet ingredients, and then together with a whisk. The batter dripped off the whisk and was bitter to the taste. Seemed like it would taste like cookie batter but didn’t.
And I never learned how to cook these various things that he went on to cook; the famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, key-lime pie, the chocolate cake, the scones, the chocolate tort, biscotti.
I was the watcher. Daniel would cook and I would watch.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
My mother made good olive salad also, but she often stared with bottled olive salad and added chopped black olives from a can. She added mashed anchovies which really punched up the flavor. She also added whole thinly sliced lemons which were very edible having marinated in the olive oil. mmm.
So I have altered the recipe to fit my tastes. I have kept the anchovies and lemons, use good black olives and I have added artichoke hearts. Obviously this is a work in progress for each generation. I remember both of them when I eat it.
3 Generation Olive Salad
1 anchovy filet
2 cups, coarsely chopped black olives (the better the olives, the better the salad) This does not mean what is sold in a can as chopped black olives, it means black olives that you have chopped.
3 cups, coarsely chopped cured green olives with pimento
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced raw carrot
1 very very thinly sliced lemon, including any juice that can be saved
Boiled quartered baby artichokes, about 10 artichokes, fresh is best – This is about 2 packs of frozen, boiled and cooled. Canned can be substituted in a pinch, but the taste is inferior
1 cup finely diced raw cauliflower (optional)
4 minced garlic cloves
¼ cup capers, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped, or 6 tablespoons dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Mash the anchovy with a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the bottom of the bowl you are using. Mash until it totally dissolves into the oil. Add all ingredients except olive oil and oregano. Mix the ingredients. Add enough olive oil to just barely cover the mixture. Use a fruity olive oil. Stir well so that the mixture is even, without clumps of like ingredients. After an hour taste the mixture. If it needs more acidity add a bit more lemon juice to taste. Because of the olives and anchovy this mixture will probably not need additional salt, but add it if you like.
This recipe is very forgiving and flexible.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
As a teenager, my mother wanted to know how to make Nanny’s biscuits, so she asked for the recipe. Nanny didn’t have a recipe. She didn’t use recipes. She grabbed fistfuls of flour, spoonfuls of Crisco, heaping piles of collard greens, and never measured or timed a thing.
So my mother decided that she would write a recipe for Nanny’s biscuits. My mom was either in high school, or just out of high school, and she was on her annual summer vacation visit to Nanny’s kitchen in Paris, Tennessee. My mother followed Nanny around the kitchen one day while she made biscuits. Nanny would grab a handful of flour. My mother would stop her, hold out a measuring cup, and ask her to drop the handful of flour into the cup. Of course, it was never an exact ½ cup or 2/3 cup, but some nebulous measurement in between. Nevertheless, my mom would write down the measurement as best she could, wave Nanny on, and Nanny continued cooking. My mom continued this way with the buttermilk and bacon grease. She watched her work the ingredients into a dough, and wrote down Nanny’s descriptions. “You want to incorporate the flour into the buttermilk and grease until all the four is moist, but not too wet, not too sticky.” My mom watched her create a well in the flour with her knuckles; pinch the dough into ‘golf-ball sized pieces’; pat the balls with her knuckles into little disks; and so on. My mother followed Nanny, measuring, timing, transcribing every action.
She went home with the recipe. She bought the right ingredients. She followed her directions. To this day, they have never tasted the same.