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September 2010

Jim and Francie's mom sure can cook!

Here's what to serve at a swell teen's bash! Young people like food, and plenty of it! So what's on the menu here? Pickle pops, meat-topped meat dogs, ice cream sundae cones, hot cider, and cool cookie platters.


Let's take a closer look.


Things were different back when, weren't they?

Those sandwiches are chili dogs topped with canned tamales and cheese. Minus the dog. I confess that in my current mood, that sounds completely delicious, even with the cheese, which is not something I ordinarily go around sticking on things. Better sense and taste usually prevails, but if I had that in front of me right now, I'd eat it.

I'm—really hungry as I type this.

That keen pumpkin is a tureen which contains the hot cider. I'm certain all the teens were just wild for it.

One thing that isn't quite as silly as it looks is the ice cream cones. These recipes often tell people to put them together, dip and garnish them, then freeze them solid ahead of time. So at the moment of serving they'd be okay. I'm less comfortable with the lemon slice-topped hot cider.

The book, Jiffy Cooking (BHG 1967,) also suggests Party Potato Chips, which are potato chips baked for a few minutes with shredded cheese and spice, and Zippy Almonds, which are seasoned similarly to Chex Party Mix.

Anyway, mostly I just wanted to make fun of the pickle pops. Truthfully, in the recipe book, they are called Pickle-sicles. Terrific idea!

As an addendum, I want to dispel any idea that these kids were going to be smoking pot and listening to Cream in the basement. In 1967, that was mostly going on with a somewhat older crowd. Took a few years for that stuff to trickle down. The kids at this party were still into Bandstand and Bosco.

Stuffed Squash: A concept

These pix are not good. Maybe tomorrow I'll fuss with some of them. Maybe not. I just really need my tripod back. It's been ages.

I wanted to make stuffed acorn squashes because I never cooked them that way before, and also I picked 5 of them from my garden a few days ago. But none of the recipes I found satisfied me, so I worked out a process to try and wrote it out. I'm taking pictures and at the end you can see how it worked for me. I added little notes in for anyone thinking of trying it as I was writing out my plan. I am using 4 squashes split in half, so my amounts will be sort of large. Also, making more than I think I need, to adjust as I go.

I made these with sausage, but they're easily meatless.

For bread crumbs, using store-bought cubed cornbread stuffing, crushed up a bit, unseasoned. "Panko" would work, or just rough homemade bread crumbs that no one used to call Panko.

Making a sort of stuffing, sauteeing bits of leeks, celery, apple, then mushroom, stirring in cornbread, adding broth to moisten, maybe some pepper. taking sausage out of casings, scrambling, adding a splash of sweet vermouth at end + burning off. (could be broth or apple juice, instead.) stir sausage into stuffing.


Split squashes vertically, clean out, also cut off a bit to sit flat. poke flesh with a fork. put on pan, then add stuffing. might do to add a bit of liquid over top halfway through cooking. 350º for about an hour.

Using honeycrisp apples; most varieties would be okay as long as they aren't too soft. mushrooms, celery, onions or leeks, all personal choice, just like with Thanksgiving stuffing. more mushrooms, apples, and pecans or walnuts could be used in place of sausage.

This is Italian sausage but most any other kind would work, adjust seasonings accordingly, of course.

4 acorn squash, split vertically, seeds removed
1 1/2 lbs Italian sausage, removed from casings (or about 4 additional cups stuffing ingredients, could add nuts)
2 cups chopped apple
1 1/3 cup slightly crushed cornbread stuffing
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions because I forgot I pulled leeks! but I think those would be really nice.
1/2 cup chopped porcini mushrooms (use whichever, I don't care)
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tbs sweet vermouth
1 tbs butter, 1/2 tbs olive oil for saute

I set the stuffing aside and cooked the sausage in the pan I used for it, then stirred the stuffing into it. I used a cup of stuffing for each squash half, then there was about a cup left over, so I distributed it among them all. About halfway through cooking, I spooned some chicken broth over each squash. When they were done, I let them cool for a few minutes, then added a spoonful of cream to each one.You could sprinkle a bit of grated cheese on top; I rarely do that.


You may not be able to tell from the picture? But they were totally moist and delicious.

new(ish) weekly food prep

I often cook a lot on Sunday, especially in colder weather, but not always in a focused way. I'm going to start doing that every week, though sometimes it will be on Monday. And I'll record the results here, sometime during the week. :-)

On Monday I roasted a chicken and also made chicken stock. The chickens were 99 cents a pound, each weighed about 5 pounds. After the stock was finished, I put it in the refrigerator to cool. The fat rises to the top and if you keep it on there, acts as a preservative, allowing the stock to stay fresh for a few extra days. Underneath, the long-slow simmer with all those bones has created a sort of gelatinous liquid that's just lovely to put in many things. 



I always give the carrots to the old dog, and a bit of the thigh meat to the cat.

In the refrigerator, the fat becomes firm and can be easily removed when you're ready for the broth. On Wednesday, I used some of the stock to make the stuffed squashes detailed in the post above this one.

Those are Meyer lemons in there. I squeezed them over the top and inside, then stuffed the inside with a chunk of butter and a wedge of onion.

The next night we were eating the roast chicken but the young dog got it and ate most of it. This was odd, because he has never been particularly rude about our food.

I also cooked big chunks of pork shoulder. I'd gotten 15 pounds at $1.79 a pound. 5 pounds went into the crockpot with a bit of vinegar, some juice, garlic powder, which I rarely use, and a little onion and pepper. I set it on low and let it cook all afternoon and evening.


I roasted another few pounds in chunks in the oven, along with the chicken. That night, I shredded it and cooked it with canned baked beans; first cooking some onions, adding the meat and letting it crisp a bit, then stirring in the beans to simmer for about 20 minutes. That was delicious, but I wanted to eat late. By the time I got back to it, the kids had eaten it all. 


A third chunk went into the freezer for another crockpot day. Tonight I let everyone take some of the crockpot meat and make whatever they liked with it. Theron made me his specialty sandwich with some of it, and that was very good. Basically, he invented the Cuban sandwich, only without pickles. Plus, the meat is so tender and juicy and tasty, it's fantastic.

For tomorrow, there's still chicken broth left, some of the boiled chicken, and a good portion of the pork. But I also have a butternut squash from the garden, and leeks, so I might freeze some of the other stuff, and make either a pasta sauce or soup with the squash. 

That's more meat than we normally have in a week, but we will have some left for the weekend, and also  next week's food prep will be different, of course.

Besides all that meat, I also skinned some tomatoes, free from the garden, mushed and drained them, then froze and thawed them to drain still more liquid. Even though they are twice-frozen, they will taste good in pizza or spaghetti sauce.


To remove the skins, you just stick the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute, then when they're cool enough to touch, the skins squoosh right off.


And while all that draining was going on, I made myself a very nice cup of tea. I rarely drink black (or green or white) tea, but when I do, I like to make it special. 


Sometimes I buy loose tea; there are some neat places to get that around here, but since I mostly drink herbal blends, it's not usually worth the expense.

update on updates

Planning to transfer some food posts on my other blog to this one. as well, it's getting cooler out and I plan to bake a lot of cookies this season! biscotti! amaretti! and so forth. And soup, chili, slow-simmered stuff...more crazy cookbook photos; I have a folder of them ready to go. it's gonna be good.

Heading out of town, back in a few days with some crazy and cool tastes.

Let's take it nice and easy

x-posted to other side of this blog. a singular occurrence from now on.

I've been so excited to share this! You know I love the glory of garnish. How about in a delicious shake?


Surprise! It's soup. You've drunk soup from a mug, right? Tomato, or something brothy, perhaps. Did you ever drink it through a straw? Maybe when you were small and very ill your mother gave it to you that way.

I bet you're glad, thinking back, that there were no little ragged bits of chicken or mushroom in it. Also, Mama made it just hot enough to soothe, not too hot for the tongue.

Of course, people (other than me) do enjoy cold potato or beet or melon soup in summer. I'm not sure they shake it with cold milk until frothy and serve it up like ice cream, but I guess there's no rule which says they can't. Only, if you sat down for supper or a snack, and your mom or partner brought you a delicious-looking glass sweetly decorated with some attractive mint leaves, I bet your mouth would get all stirred up in excitement for a smoothie, perhaps pineapple-coconut? She'd smile as you took a big gulp, and as you realized you were tasting salty cream of chicken soup instead, I'd like to be watching in the background, ready to snap a photo of the moment to follow. I'd post it here to share.

Vox Review: Top 5 cannoli-and-coffee posts

Here are my top 5 favorite cannoli-and-coffee posts I did while at Vox. I have until the end of the month to fix internal links, but they work for now.

  • Weekend recipe: Gelato This is pretty long. Gives you an idea of my monkey-in-a-rail-yard thought process...