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October 2012

For the ladies who lunch

Besides the enchantment the authors of Good Housekeeping Menus For A Whole Year Of Dinners have with meat-filled meat, they also have an overarching fondness for combining other types of ingredients one never before thought to combine. 


Did you quickly realize those are chunks of crab meat mixed into the rice and pineapple? Olives, too, of course, and a creamy bottle dressing. French, back before (American) French dressing turned into a bright red syrupy affair. How you can tell this is for supper and not brunch is that there is no coconut in it. I feel certain that if it were to be eaten earlier in the day, or perhaps for a party, coconut would have been introduced as a special flavor sensation. 

The "Cream of Mongole" soup is fascinating. I can't decide if awful or not, to combine pea soup with tomato soup. I applaud the addition of sherry, no question there. It's actually a thing, though; the GH people didn't make it up. (More on recipes they adapted from "tradition," later.)

This meal, as you see, was to be served with buttered broccoli and French bread, and a jelly roll for dessert. Not certain if the colon would be refreshed or merely confused, but it's definitely a menu for every woman over the age of 55 back in 1971. My grandma would have been nuts for this stuff. 

Little garnish, little glory, big surprise

One of my favorite blog pasttimes in the, er, past, was to share photos and recipes from my old cookbook collection. You can see some of them at the previous incarnation of this page, linked in the top post. They're from many years ago, and got dragged from blog to blog for awhile. 

While researching for NaNoWriMo this weekend, I was perusing a book which is always mentioned in my stories, Good Housekeeping Menus For A Whole Year Of Dinners, from 1971, and rediscovered this gem to share with you. There are no olive eyeballs or carrot curls gracing the dish, but it's pretty weird just the same.  Rollupsphoto

Let's discuss this. Don't cheat and click on the thumbnail first! You can tell that's ham, right? It has a sort of ham color and texture, and there are cloves in it if you weren't sure. It's surounded by fruits, clearly some of which are grapes. So what might be inside these ham rolls? What goes with ham and fruit? Well, more fruit, perhaps. Maybe a kind of potato or something mildly saucy or cheesy, knowing it's 1971. I'll reveal more and tell you that the other fruits in the dish are canned apricots, peaches, and pineapple. The fresh grapes are "optional."

Maybe there's a type of spicy bread stuffing in the ham? That goes well with fruit. 


You could say it's a spicy bread stuffing. The kind called meatloaf. Made with ground beef. 

Inside of ham. 

I think what happened is that someone thought of the name Ham-burger Roll-ups first, as a sweet pun, and then invented the recipe to go with it. The ham is the bun! Get it? 

Me, either. 

Still harvesting!

Recently, I received two pie pumpkins in my produce delivery. Pie pumpkins are small and dark and easier to cut into than decorative ones. And much easier to prepare than you might think. 

I use my slow cooker. I cut the pumpkins into eight equal pieces, then scoop out the guts, put them in the slow cooker with about an inch of water, and cook them on high for about 3 hours until they are fork-tender. You can do it on low for longer. If you leave, make sure you have a tight seal and a timer, because you wouldn't want all the water to evaporate so that they start to burn. 

This can be done in an oven as well, but in that case, I would cover the pumpkins so the tops don't start to dry out. 

Each pie pumpkin will yield about two cups of mush, enough for a pie. Or other recipes. Since they have a high water content, you might like to let a bit of the liquid drain out before using it by putting it in a fine mesh strainer for half an hour, over a bowl or container. Your pie will be a little less dense than with canned pumpkin (which is still a very healthful thing; buy it all year round and put it in soup as a thickener or feed it to your baby) but I like the taste a little better. 

If you freeze it to use later, make sure you squinch out all the air so that water doesn't form on top.

Here are the tomatoes I posted recently; mostly ripened now, and only a couple that have not survived well. I have at least one more group outside I can pick and ripen indoors, but I'm running out of things to do with them!


Some I will just puree and freeze; others I'll simmer slowly with peppers, and then also freeze, for winter chili. 


Roasting all the things and making tomato soup

is what I do these days, pretty much. If there's even a possibility it can be roasted, I will roast it. I got a roasting book from the library to add to my roasting knowledge. If I like it, I'll tell you about it. 

By the way, the "recipe" on this page is near the bottom in bold italicized type. A brief template to use however you like.

Last week I roasted the one eggplant that grew in my garden, with some tomatoes and peppers I grew, and onion and garlic I didn't grow. (I added the onion after I took this photo.)


They were just drizzled with olive oil, a little pepper, and a few specks of salt. 

Here they are roasted:


And all I did then was put it all in the food processor and puree it into an insanely delicious dip for bread or crostini. Which we ate on the deck a couple nights later, when it was still warm.


Another time recently, I roasted delicata squash, yams, garlic and onions, mushed it up, heated it in chicken broth, and then processed batches of that for a very delicious and simple soup. Today I did the same thing for tomato soup.

The tomatoes on these pans were all picked green and allowed to ripen on the dining room table over the past two weeks. I roasted soft peppers at the same time, so I can preserve them for later, but they weren't added to the soup. The onions and garlic were, though. 20121008_145734

I used beef broth I made a few weeks ago and froze, but followed the same pattern as for the squash and yam soup. That's because the boys won't eat it unless it is pureed fine enough to give to a six month-old. So, heating it before processing it seems to do the trick. 

It was the finest beef broth I've ever made. I hope to make more next weekend.  20121008_165321

If it were just for me, I'd have added the seasoning (Kirkland Rustic Tuscan Seasoning; use about 2 teaspoons of whatever you like for a quart of broth and 4-6 cups of roasted vegetables,) warmed it, and eaten it this way with croutons and a little cheese. But...these other people here are tiresome about such things. Bring to a boil, simmer for 20-30 minutes, then process in batches in the food processor or blender. Taste for adjustments. Use whatever stock you like, but make it a rich one.

After I pureed it, I decided it wanted a pinch of sugar and a couple dashes of salt. This is highly dependent on your stock and tomatoes. The late season tomatoes want a little extra help. 20121008_175119

For a nice finish, swirl a bit of heavy cream into it. I ran out of cream this morning, sadly, so I added a sprinkle of very aged Gouda with my croutons. :-) 20121008_180151

Summer days, drifting away...


What am I going to do with all this Swiss Chard? No one eats it but me!

12 - 1 (1)

These tomatoes (sorry it's unclear) were all picked green two weeks ago, and sat on this table ripening. 


A few are left in this bowl, but I cut up most of them to roast for soup today, along with a few peppers that were growing soft. I will talk about roast vegetable recipes on the cooking page, today or tomorrow.




Here are more tomatoes I picked last night in advance of the first frost. They will mostly all ripen here over the next couple of weeks.


And I picked the last of the leeks. There was too much clay where they grew; even though they'll have a new location next year, that area needs more amending before I grow something else there.