I’ve been told that my grandmother Ida’s “Watermelon Preserves” were the best anywhere around. This summer I decided to see for myself and make a batch. However, I had quite a surprise when I read the recipe — the preserves are made with only the white part of the rind — not the watermelon pulp. Now, do you know of anyone who eats watermelon rind? Apparently my ancesters did. Grandma Ida’s recipe consists of three ingredients — the white part of the rind, sugar and a little lemon juice. When cooked down on the stove, the sugar thickens into a thick syrup and the small chunks of rind flavor the preserves. Hey, this is really candied watermelon rind! No wonder everyone liked “Ida’s Watermelon Preserves.” This novel recipe turned out to be a very, very sweet summer treat.Continue reading
My husband loves “Mustard Seed Pickles” which his mother canned and preserved when he was growing up. The pickles were loaded with mustard seeds. As a boy, he would reach into the refrigerator for a pickle and lick the mustard seeds off with his tongue. Now his mother is 96-years-old. She still managed to locate the handwritten recipe. Unfortunately, I couldn’t decipher her instructions. Although I’ve tried countless times, I just can’t seem to make his mother’s mustard pickle recipe likes he remembers. Instead, I’m using a similar recipe from my own mother for “Dill Pickle Spears.” And this recipe is great; I have made it countless times! Today my daughter and I had a “pickling party” preparing the traditional dill pickles which are heat processed so they can be preserved and stored at room temperature for months. We also made a refrigerator version for folks who are a little sceptical of home canning. Both recipes make small batches of pickles — it is easier for a home cook to handle.Continue reading
Last fall, I cooked a delicious recipe of “Pork Loin Roast with Potatoes, Apples & Sauerkraut” in my crock pot. This was in honor of Oktoberfest, that great beer-drinking festival which is celebrated every autumn in Munich, Germany. Although Octoberfest has long since passed, my slow cooked pork roast with all the fixings makes for a satisfying winter meal. Every now and then, I’ll get out my crock pot. It is the perfect way to cook a large roast which needs moist heat and time to cook and tenderize it. And I love sauerkraut and potatoes; we usually have a jar of sauerkraut in the refrigerator — just because. This is such an easy recipe; simply add the ingredients to the crock pot, turn the setting to high, and leave it alone. In three hours, supper is ready. In the meantime, I became curious about German heritage in New Orleans after a friend shared the story of her great-grandfather. He was a German immigrant to the city in the late 1800’s and became the beer master at the Weckerling Brewing (now the site of the World War II museum). After researching the subject little further, I discovered that New Orleans was quite a German beer-brewing and beer drinking city at one time. I’ve shared my eclectic “discoveries” on that subject at the end of my blog post. It is for the folks who like history in addition to cooking!Continue reading
Today I’m making world-famous Natchitoches meat pies. What? Louisiana cuisine extends beyond New Orleans and the Cajun country. Every now and then you can find a culinary gem tucked in the other regions of Louisiana. The tiny city of Natchitoches, with 15,000 residents, is found in the north-central part of the state. They like to brag about their meat pies — of course they are “world-famous.” These little empanadas are stuffed with a spicy meat and vegetable seasoning filling in a pie shell-type crust. Typically the pies are fried, however, they can also be baked, as shown in this photo. I decided to try my hand at making these meat pies, embellishing the recipe just a bit by adding a few additional ingredients. This makes these meat pies extra special in the flavor category, in my opinion.Continue reading
I love cheesecakes. It is one of my favorite desserts. There are so many variations to the cheesecake theme that I don’t have to worry about running out of ideas for blog posts. My cheesecake recipe this week makes a delightful little dessert which is incredibly easy to mix up. Plus, it is rather unique — as there is no sugar in the bottom layer. At first I thought I was reading a misprint of the ingredients. But, I followed the instructions exactly and everybody loved the resulting cheesecake. Sometimes “sweet” isn’t always the best thing. I added a blueberry swirl topping and sauce made with fresh blueberries from this year’s crop. I hope you will try making this recipe, too, and I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.
A number of years ago, I asked my mother and her first cousins to recount favorite recipes and stories of growing up on Iowa farms during the 1930’s. This generation was quickly aging and I thought that it would be wise to capture their memories for a family reunion book. I love family history. The way of a living on a family farm during the 1920’s to 1930’s — for example, with a wood-burning kitchen stove — is just a memory now. Only one generation ago — my how times have changed! My second cousin, whose grandmother moved to California in about 1910, submitted her grandmother’s recipe for “Persimmon Pudding” for the reunion book.Continue reading