This blog post is a tribute to cookbook author, Holly Berkowitz Clegg, who passed away last week. Holly raised her family in Baton Rouge and lived here for many years. Her message began as a healthy approach to southern cooking with easy meals in a series of “Trim & Terrific” cookbooks. Over the years her accomplishments include authoring 17 cookbooks selling over 1.5 million copies, appearing in national media and writing a bi-weekly food column for our local newspaper, the Advocate. I am making a blackberry variation of a recipe from one of her cookbooks, “Strawberry Custard Brûlée.” It is light and tasty. It exemplifies her goal to make things low-fat and easy. I like it — you will too. Continue reading
I think everyone appreciates a homemade gift during the holiday season. It is special and shows you have put some thought into the gift. Consider “Southern Fig Preserves Cake.” The cake is unique, definitely has a Louisiana or Southern charm and is a moist, crunchy and delicious cake. A friend suggested the recipe and she even took photographs and shared her experience “writing a blog post.” I made the recipe, too, here is my mini-loaf.
Plums are an economical, plentiful and healthy fruit in the late summer. But what do you cook with them? I become intrigued with a cookbook which dedicated an entire chapter to plum recipes–providing lots of ideas. My kind of cookbook. Here is “Malinda’s Plum and Apple Chutney”. The recipe includes plums, apples, onions and Indian spices. Wow, it was delicious.
At our house, we eat pancakes for breakfast and sometimes for supper. We always fixed pancakes when my kids had friends visit for a sleepover. Buttermilk pancakes are my favorite and sometimes I add blueberries or nuts. It’s quick and easy when you don’t feel like eating large meal. This week I’m fixing whole wheat buttermilk pancakes in the rain!
In the 1970’s, granola was launched commercially by major cereal manufacturers and it quickly became part of the health food craze. Granola is a very tasty and versatile breakfast cereal and we always had some around. Recently, I decided to revisit this healthy cereal and found a recipe in the cookbook, “More-With-Less,” which dates from the 1970’s era. Continue reading
Back in the 1980’s, I was given a copy of the “More-with-Less Cookbook”. As I read the cookbook’s preface, a light-bulb flashed. It was my introduction to eating responsibly to conserve our planet’s limited food resources. And years later, the message is still relevant. The recipes are good ones, too. I became curious to learn if other folks use the cookbook and discovered that this well-traveled cookbook is the “go to” recipe book for many families. A good cookbook never hides on the shelf. Continue reading
Here’s a way to include vegetables in meals. This marinated bean salad recipe is from a vintage cookbook. It is delicious; we can’t stop eating it. The idea of making this classic salad began when I opened the CSA (Community Supported Agricultural) box I’d just purchased. On the top were wax beans and green beans.
Weekly Mystery Box
I enrolled in my employeer’s CSA program. Every Monday I pick up a box filled with fresh vegetables and produce from a local farmer. It’s a mystery basket–you don’t know what is included each week. It’s fun to figure out recipes to make with the vegetables (before they spoil). Sort of like pretending to be a contestant on a television chef cooking show like “Chopped” but without the pressure. Here’s a box from last fall.
Marinated Three Bean Salad
This week’s box included fresh green beans, waxed beans and an onion. I immediately thought of the classic Three Bean Salad. This salad usually contains one can each of wax beans, green beans and red kidney beans. It also includes onions, bell pepper and everything is marinated in a sweet and sour vinegarette. Why not use the fresh beans which I will blanched to tender crispness? The fresh beans will make even more flavor and nutrition.
Vintage Cookbook: “Our Swiss Pantry” – from Berne, Indiana
I searched through several cookbooks to find a recipe and hit the jackpot in one vintage cookbook, “Our Swiss Pantry.” It was compiled by the women’s group of the First Mennonite Church in Berne, Indiana, to support their missionary work. This is a cookbook where the church women contributed their recipes — these complications are often the best sources for recipes because everyone turns in their favorite recipes. And these recipes are old ones, from Swiss settlers, they go back a long time.
Berne, Indiana: Mennonite and Amish Settlements
Berne, Indiana, was named after Berne, Switzerland. A group of Swiss Mennonites heard of the lush farmland of Indiana and settled there in the mid 1800’s. Their settlement thrived and now boasts one of the largest Mennonite congregations in the country in that branch of Mennonites. There are different fractions of this religious group and the Berne congregation is a progressive one adopting modern dress, transportation and ideas. They retain their protestant values, their work ethic, sincerity, honesty.
Amish from Alsace-Lorraine and Switzerland also settled in the area. They have maintained their old world methods, dress, horse and buggys and language which is a German-Swiss dialect and different from other Amish groups. These Amish retain their very closed community. Traveling back to Berne, Indiana, is like stepping back into time when you pass an Amish farm house.
How did I get a cookbook from Berne, Indiana?
The cookbook dates back to my college years when I went to school in Indiana. My roommate was from Berne, Indiana, and I’d go there on holidays and weekends. Undoubtedly, I got the cookbook on one of these visits in the early 1970’s.
I asked a friend here in Baton Rouge who grew up in Berne if she was related to the recipe author as they have the same last name, “Sprunger.” Just a distant relative, but my friend had the cookbook on her shelf, too, for all those years. She remembers when the church ladies were putting the book together! Never throw a good cookbook away!
What Is Community Supported Agriculture?
Community Supported Agriculture is a program designed to support local farmers and agriculture. It varies from community to community. In our community, a local farmer — Luckett farms — has partnered with my employer — Baton Rouge General Medical Center — to provide the program. In the spring you pay a fee which the farmer uses to purchase seed and other supplies to raise and harvest his vegetable crop.
Then each week the farmer brings his harvest in a box to the employer where you pick it up and enjoy the foods in the box each week for eight weeks. The foods in the box vary from week to week depending on what is ready for harvest. This week we were treated to yellow and zucchini squash, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, green and wax beans, a cantalope, basil and lettuce, beets. It’s alot of food for two people, so I’m splitting my box with another employee.
The recipe has a slight twist
This recipe has a slight twist. In addition to the usual green, waxed beans and red kidney beans, it also contains garbanzo beans. Great! A little more crunch, fiber and nutrition. I added a jalapeno pepper and pimento for flavor and color. The recipe also includes onions and bell peppers. I blanched the green and wax beans in a microwave in a little water. They could also be steamed until tender crisp. The cans of red kidney beans and garbanzo beans just need to be rinsed off under running water.
Sweet and Sour Marinade
The dressing is a sweet and sour vinaigrette. I used unfiltered apple cider vinegar which really adds to the flavor. The sugar and vinegar are boiled to dissolve the sugar. Then the salt and oil are added. These are added to the vegetables and everything is chilled. Delicious! Here are the dressing marinade ingredients.
This makes a large recipe: 1/2 gallon. Nevertheless, we managed to eat it all!
Bean Salad adapted from Eileen Sprunger in Our Swiss Pantry, p.99
- 1 (16 oz) can green beans (or 8 oz fresh green beans – 2 cups snapped or cut into pieces)
- 1 (16 oz) can wax beans (or 8 oz fresh wax beans – 2 cups snapped or cut into pieces)
- 1 (16 oz) can kidney beans
- 1 (16 oz) can garbanzo beans
- 2 small white or yellow onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, finely diced
- 1/4 cup canned diced pimento pepper, drained
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup cooking oil
- 1 tsp salt
Method and Steps
- Drain and rinse all cans of beans. Set aside. If using fresh green and wax beans, wash and drain the beans, cut off the ends and “snap” or cut into 1″ lengths. Place green beans in microwavable bowl and add 1/2 cup water. Cover loosely with wax or parchment paper. Blanch for about 6 to 8 minutes until tender crisp. Repeat with wax beans. Alternately, place both the beans in a small pot, add 1/2 cup water and bring to boil on stove. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until tender crisp. Drain the beans, add ice to chill. Set aside.
- In another small pot, add sugar and apple cider vinegar. Stirring frequently, bring to boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat as soon as sugar dissolves. Cool.
- Add oil and salt to cooled sugar/vinegar and stir to combine.
- Drain all beans, add green and wax beans, drained kidney beans and garbanzo beans to large bowl. Add chopped onion, diced bell pepper, minced jalapeno and drained pimento. Stir to combine.
- Pour dressing over beans salad and stir to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate.
Are you looking for a sweet potato recipe for Thanksgiving? I recommend Ruth’s Chris Special Sweet Potato Casserole. It is a traditional Louisiana recipe with a praline topping and a filling made with fresh baked sweet potatoes. The rich, creamy filling includes a special ingredient. It is served in Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurants around the world.
The recipe is from Ruth Fertel. She is the original owner of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, an upscale restaurant in New Orleans which is now a world-wide chain. That is an interesting story itself. Continue reading