Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 17th- White Cake with Velvet Chocolate Frosting

Sorry Gram, I got a little behind in blogging daily. Truth is, I spend all day at work online and like to unplug when I go home, so I'm trying to play catch-up. But I hear in Heaven you have no concept of time, so I'm sure you won't mind if I blog into July :)

For Father's Day weekend, I joined forces with my sister Cara to make a one of Grandma's cakes! This white cake recipe is simple but delicious. White cake is one of the most easily adulterated cakes out there (lots just buy cake mixes) so when you get a good homemade version, it can be heavenly!

2/3 cup shortening (use oil for a lighter cake)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups sifter flour (for cake flour, substitute 2 Tblsp. cornstarch for flour in each cup.)
3 1/2 tsp baking powder

Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat thoroughly. Add milk to the bowl. Add dry ingredients and vanilla and mix on slow speed to blend. Turn to medium speed and beat till thoroughly mixed. Pour into 13 X 9 inch greased pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Recipe perfected for 5,000 feet, adjust for your altitude.

My cute niece helped us cook...

Cara's little family.

Here's the batter! Yum!

Velvet Chocolate Frosting:

6 oz your fav. chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sourcream
1 tsp. vanialla
dash of salt
powdered sugar

Melt chocolate and butter over hot (not boiling) water. Remove from heat. Add sour cream, vanilla, and salt and blend in. While beating, add enough powered sugar to make a spreading consistency.

Chocolate chips melted in butter my sister made from her neighbor's cow's milk.

Chocolate frosting

Cara's daughter... the drama queen herself!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 16: Stuffed Pork chops

My cousin Pam Hepworth is at it again, cooking grandma's stuffed porkchops! Enjoy!

4 double-thick chops. Cut a pocket in the fat side.
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1/4 c/. butter
6 slices bread, crumbled
1/3 c. chopped green pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp sage
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1/3 cup water

Saute veggies in butter, combine with crumbs and seasonings. Fill each pork chop with 1/4 c stuffing. Add 1/3 c. more water to rest of stuffing and bake in buttered, covered casserole dish. Bake chops, after browning in a skillet, in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Fasten edges of chops with chopsticks.

CHEF OF THE DAY: Pam Skoy Hepworth

I love pork chops and I love stuffing-- so of course this is a favorite recipe of mine. I haven't made it in years, so I jumped at the chance to make this dish again. It was much easier than I remembered--most likely because I actually took the time to sharpen my knife before slicing into the chops (I'll spare you the horror story of my prior attempts to make the pork pockets with an embarrasingly dull dud of a knife no doubt inherited from my mom before it could be donated to the DI). However, the entire process did take me longer than I recalled. For me the time-takers came in the form of shredding quite a bit of bread (unless your bread is already dry and crumbly), making my own poultry seasoning because I couldn't find the nearly full container I have somewhere in the house, AND the hour of baking after everything is combined, stuffed and browned.

My advice would be to tackle this recipe when you have plenty of time to enjoy the process, or take the recipe in parts and make the stuffing the night before (minus the broth--you can add that just before stuffing the pork).

Green Bean and Mushroom Medley

This combination of vegetables is not only easy peasy to make, but really makes your ordinary, dull can of green beans stand up and act fancy. I didn't have waterchestnuts and didn't use bacon to garnish the top of the beans (since I was serving it with the pork chops), but the dish was yum, even without those items.

My food storage is over-laden with canned green beans, so I chose to use canned over fresh beans. Later this summer, when green beans are in season, I'll make this again with fresh beans, which will, of course, make it even better.

Stuffed pork chops, green bean mushroom medley and some extra stuffing. You could add gravy, but why???

Green beans and mushrooms cook up first; then add the green onions and waterchestnuts to the pan a few minutes before serving. So easy.

A side view (less scary view) of the finished stuffed pork chops.

Cutting the pocket into the chop was actually easier than I thought it would be. Of course I sharpened my knife first.......

Smart phones are so handy in the kitchen when you need to look up the recipe for poultry seasoning.

My bread was pretty fresh and squishy, so I toasted it in the oven until it was slightly browned, hoping to save the stuffing from becoming a dense mass of bread and veggies and maybe adding a toasty flavor dimension to it all. It worked!

Stuffed and browned chops, ready to go in the oven, looking very much like scary, wide-mouthed sea monster grins in mid-chew.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 10- Scalloped Asparagus

Loved this recipe of Grams! Fresh ingredients; simple recipe. Try it!

One large bunch of asparagus- steamed
3 hard-boiled eggs
sourdough bread (crumbed up into pieces)

White Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1/4 flour
2 cups milk
1/2 tps. salt
(my addition) 1/4 cup riesling

1 1/2 cups of cheese (I used drunken goat cheese, but grandma recommends cheddar cheese)

Steam asparagus, make cream sauce.

Layer asparagus, slices of eggs, cream sauce and grate cheese. Create another layer. Cover with torn-up pieces of bread (use good bread... like sourdough) and then drizzled on 1/4 cup melted butter over top and cook!

Cook at 350 till the bread crumbs are brown... about 12 minutes.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Day 8- Diving into Gram's Chicken Divan - 12 minutes to a delicious dish for hungry, mungry bikers!

My cousin Pam Skoy Hepworth (cutest new newlywed in the Skoy gang) and her husband Kent document their adventures with Grandma's Chicken Divan after a killer bike ride one evening in Salt Lake City.

1-2 and 1/2 lb. chicken
2 c. water
1 tsp. salt

1 bunch broccoli
2 T. butter

3 T. flour
2 c. chicken broth (from the above; add milk to make 2 c. if you have less than 2 c. after cooking the chicken (you will))

salt and pepper

2 T. sherry
Parmesan cheese

Simmer chicken in water and salt until cooked through. Remove meat. Save broth for sauce.

Cook broccoli until tender crisp. Drain and layer in a shallow, buttered baking dish. Slice chicken and lay on top of broccoli.

Melt butter, stir in flour and add broth. Cook and stir sauce until thickened. Add salt, pepper and sherry. Cover chicken and broccoli with sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and bake in 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.


Hungry riders – We didn’t take time to make a side dish, we just heaped all that divan on our plates and devoured it! Delicious and perfect for a recovery meal! (Note the cool helmet hairdo--so stylish!)

Jenie's cousin, Pam, here. Last evening my husband Kent and I took a killer ride on our road bikes and before we even finished the ride we both had a huge hunger fit,closely followed by some serious fatigue, both of which can only be satiated by lots and lots of food.

When we finally made it home we immediately headed for the refrigerator and sadly, not much was ready and waiting to be consumed. We had some chicken, so I thought I'd cook that up quick-like. But there was my Grandma's cookbook on the counter, and although I hadn’t planned to cook from her cookbook that night and had already selected several other dishes to cook this month for Jenie's "3o Days of June", I thought maybe I could find something easy that included chicken for a quick supper for two hungry mungry bikers.

I was right! What I found was Chicken Divan. I quickly scanned the recipe and I had the main ingredients: chicken and broccoli. PLUS, the cook time in the oven was only 12 minutes. We could wait 12 minutes! Sold! I yelled to Kent, "grab the camera!" We were going to accomplish two things at once: feeding our hungry selves, and adding to Jenie’s blog.

Admittedly, if we hadn't been trying to photograph the process of this recipe, it would have come together quicker, but it was still quick and easy overall.

Special thanks to Kent, the brilliant food photographer — even in his distracted state of hunger he made it all look Yum!

I guess this post and this meal probably don’t constitute real slow food, but in memory of Grandma and because of Jen’s June campaign, the two chicken breasts in my fridge didn’t end up on the grill (i.e. charred and dry, because sadly, that’s how I grill), instead they turned into something wonderful, flavorful and memorable. A good reminder that slowing down really does make everything better—especially food!

Broccoli - The best part of cooking broccoli is watching it turn this beautiful shade of green. Pretty!

Chicken slices – We only had two chicken breasts, so that’s what went into this dish. There was plenty, even for two famished bikers.

Butter the dish – Note the special buttering placemat. Thanks for making everything look better than reality Babe!

Arranging –

Melting butter - And now for the white sauce. Melt your butter and enjoy the aroma while you’re at it.

Roux – Add the flour.

White sauce – Add broth, salt, pepper and sherry. (Or, as in our case, some white wine because apparently all the sherry in the house is gone, gone, gone.) The wine—and I’m sure the sherry—add a nice flavor to the white sauce and I’m pretty sure I’ll be adding it to all my white sauces from now on. Thanks for the tip Gram!

Divan with sauce -

Add cheese – I didn’t read the recipe very closely, so I didn’t realize we needed Parmesan until about this point. We didn’t have any Parmesan cheese, but fortunately it is my creed that everything is better with cheese, so while we didn’t have Parmesan in the cheese drawer (yes, we have a drawer in the refrigerator dedicated to cheeses of all kinds), we had another lovely hard cheese called Dejong something or other, which is a pungent and flavorful Dutch cheese, and it worked really well too.

Voila – And 12 minutes later here is the finished product. Beautiful!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Day 5- Oatmeal Coconut Cookies (with Oregon Fireweed Honey)

My grandmother was a bit of a health nut. Her cookbook features several recipes using whole wheat flour and I recall my Dad's tales of all the crazy things she tried to feed him in the name of good health, including hiding egg shells in his food. In this vein, I thought I'd tweak granny's recipe just a bit to make it healthier. I added nuts, replaced 1 cup of sugar with fireweed honey and added dried fruit to these cookies. The combo worked wonderfully!

3/4 c. butter
2 cups brown sugar (I used 1 cup of br sugar and 1 cup of honey- if you use honey, add 1/4 more flour)
2 eggs, well-beaten
2 cups oatmeal
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup coconut
2 cups flour
1 tsp.
1 tsp. soda

(Optional: 1/2 cup of sliced almonds or other nuts... or add dried prunes, date or dried cherries!)

Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and beat well. Mix soda and baking powder into flour and add. Shape into balls and dip into sugar. Palce, sugar-side up, on a cookie sheet- press down with fork.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.

I love this recipe especially using 1 cup of honey to replace one of the cups of brown sugar and dried fruit. I love how these cookies fluff up in the over and get crispy and sugary on the edges. For softer cookies, cook them 12 minutes and for browner crispier cookies, cook for more like 14 min.

I used Oregon fireweed honey.

Coconut again... (My grandmother put coconut in about everything conceivable. It was probably her way of bringing something tropical to snowy Idaho!)

Italian prunes... from the PDX Farmer's Market!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Day 4- Gathering ingredients at the Portland Farmer's Market and Making Music
See tomorrow's post of dried fruit oatmeal/coconut cookies!

Today I bought delicious, dried plums (which tasted nothing like store-bought prunes) at the Portland Farmer's market to use in a cookie recipe tomorrow!

While at the market, I ate a chunk of Fraga Farm's mozzarella cheese, fresh blackberry fruit roll-ups, Italian prunes, a sandwich made with roasted duck, chevre, carmelized onions, pickled beets and dijon mustard (YUM!)

I gobbled up some cookies from Two Tarts Bakery...(hilarious name BTW:)

Snacked on salty SEA BEANS harvested along the central coast of Oregon.

And tapped my foot along with an old-fashioned jug/washboard, banjo picking band. Speaking of which, check out my forthcoming video of one banjo player paying homage to my last boyfriend in a creative on-the-spot composition...

And I sat in the park to rest and get some rare Oregon sunshine~!