Steak and Cake

Somehow over the past 10 or so years our Thanksgiving meal became the pre-Thanksgiving feast for family to gather around. This is the result of blending families and the kids growing up and becoming adults. And when the son-in-law entered the family his birthday needed to be celebrated and then the grandchild was born all around the Thanksgiving holiday. So we don’t cook a turkey until Christmas because everyone will go to families with turkey feasts the next day.

So it is steak and cake…and pumpkin pie!

This year we bought a top butt uncut for $4.59 a pound. Hubby cuts it into the steaks for the Family Feast with plenty of meat to spare. This was a family time so I forgot to take a picture of the cooked steaks. And there were no leftovers!

The cake will be a rainbow sprinkle cake made from scratch. I do not yet have a “go to” plain cake recipe. The first year I bought the cake mix and pre-made frosting. My step daughters and hubby came home and caught me making a cake from a box!!! Horror of horrors! They thought they were in the wrong kitchen or possibly aliens had taken over my body! I did this for a couple of years so they got used to it and son-in-law got the birthday cake he requested. So this year it is made from scratch. I found a nice yellow cake recipe that I had made for our Easter meal this past spring. I figure I can just add rainbow sprinkles. Homemade cakes tend to be denser than cake-mix cakes, at least the way I make them. This particular cake is dense and moist. I am pleased that it came out so well because I had my granddaughter helping measure and add the ingredients. She is almost two so the exact amount of baking soda and salt are questionable.

What to do to frost the cake? The son-in-law announced that he too is lactose intolerant or sensitive. So no cream cheese or dairy, except butter, will be required. I do not like to make marshmallow frosting because I do not do it well. So I get out a standard Buttercream frosting recipe from my 1950 Rumford Cookbook. This is a book that my grandmother used. There are notations in her handwriting and a draft of Grandpa King’s obituary on lined writing paper as well. I substitute soymilk in the ingredient list.

Butter Cream Frosting: Cream 6 Tab butter until very soft; gradually add 3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar; mix in 2 teas vanilla extract;  add 5 Tab cream or evaporated milk; beat until very light and fluffy and of good spreading consistency.

Thanksgiving2015 018Buttercream is very sweet but seems to mellow some after being placed on the cake and left to sit for a few hours. Decorations are courtesy of the granddaughter.

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And there is pie! A few years ago my son and I made two pies to determine if the Cook’s Illustrated magazine “improved” pumpkin pie was truly an improved pie. The crusts were store bought refrigerated crusts that you unroll. We used the Pillsbury brand crust for the “improved” pie and the store brand one for the other. The standard pie recipe that I had used was from my Betty Crockers’ Cookbook (1978). This is a basic cookbook found in ordinary kitchens all over America, nothing fancy or special about it. For Cook’s we ground fresh spices and it has sour cream added. It came out looking smoother and the aroma was better than Betty’s .

We had blind taste testing after the meal. Betty Crocker won hands down for best tasting! The lesson here is that those basic standard recipes can often be the best. I suppose that is why they become the standards and the basics.

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I had posted the Steak and Cake feast menu and recipes in sleeve protectors and hung it on the kitchen cabinet. I figured folks could take a look and help out with things.

Son cooked the Brussels sprouts. These were wonderful! And to think the recipe came from the local grocery store coupon flyer. Basically skillet roast the sprouts with bacon, onion, garlic, and whole cranberries.

I made the sour dough rolls and these were nice and light and buttery.Thank you KAF!

Daughter made the green salad. Stepdaughters worked on the mashed potatoes and the baked sweet potatoes. And the sauteed mushrooms.

Hubby and son-in-law supervised the grilling of the steaks.

All in all it was hectic and fun and crowded and I would not have it any other way.


Soup for the Soup Kitchen


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Intermixed among my Mom’s recipe clippings are hints and sayings that she also must have found important. Here is one I remember.

My church is serving dinner at the local soup kitchen today. I have made a batch of soup. Local churches and other organizations take turns serving a Sunday evening dinner and providing all the necessary items. This is love in action. People are served food because they show up and are hungry. No vetting necessary.

This church organizes the meal to be served. Another church I used to attend made it more of a potluck. Either way, it feels good to do this. And instead of thinking that is a bad thing to do something like this because it feels good, the end result is that people get fed. People feel cared for.

The ladies put together “soup kits” for those of us who chose to cook.

The cook supplied the ground beef and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. I am thankful that my children, all of them, will be home altogether for our Wednesday evening Family Feast of Steak and Cake. (I just came up with that name this year.) I have a lot more that I can be thankful for: a job, a wonderful loving husband, the faith instilled in me by my parents, a car, a home, supportive friends and family, a beautiful granddaughter, and much more. And I have a fridge full of food and plenty to eat.

Thank God for dirty dishes, they have a tale to tell.

While other folks go hungry, we’re eating very well.

With health, and hope, and happiness, we shouldn’t want to fuss.

For by this stack of evidence, God’s very good to us!

Santa’s Whiskers

Interesting name for a cookie. Will they look like Santa with a beard? I don’t think so.

Here are the ingredients from my Mom’s recipe clipping:

1 Cup butter; 1 Cup sugar; 2 Tab. milk; 1 tsp vanilla; ½ Cup chopped pecans; 2 ½ Cups flour; ¾ Cup chopped red and green candied cherries; ¾ Cup flaked coconut

First of all I am not adding the pecans. Second I am using red and green M&Ms instead of the candied cherries. Not sure how those will slice but we’ll see. And I am going to use coconut oil instead of butter. So these are an experiment. I should actually internet research the coconut oil in baking before proceeding. So hold on and I’ll be back!

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the ingredients

I’m back! So I am going to make these in a drop cookie style rolled in coconut instead of rolling them in logs and then slicing them. Coconut oil apparently makes a softer chewier cookie than butter based on its melting point. These should spread out faster so I will still chill the dough before baking.

I have been deliberately listening to Christmas music. Yea, yea, I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. I used to get all my cards in the mail the day after Thanksgiving. Then a few years ago I found I have to work really hard at finding the Christmas spirit. So I am just going to revel in the fun, joyful, inspiring music, both classical and contemporary. Hah! Or should that be, Ho! These songs are fun, and don’t forget Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song. I don’t know much about Kwanzaa but celebrating joy and the trials and triumphs of our shared humanity can’t do any harm, can it? And if we follow old Ebenezer: “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.

So I’m making Christmas cookies. For these cookies it is very important to measure out the exact amount of M&Ms that is needed for the recipe. This is exactly 3/4 cup. This is absolutely necessary so that you know how many you can snack on while mixing up the dough. Yes, indeed!santaswhiskers 002

I was thinking this was a Vegan recipe except it calls for two tablespoons of milk. I don’t have non-dairy milk in the house. I am not sure how non-dairy milks like almond and soy work as a substitute in baking but for this small amount it shouldn’t have a large effect, I would think.

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shape the dough into balls and roll in coconut

the dough is crumbly so I add one more tablespoon of milk (I don’t remember if I added both tablespoons in the first place!)

I baked these at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. They did not look like they were getting done. I flattened them slightly with the spatula and baked them for another 3 minutes.

“Too sweet” were the first words out of hubby’s mouth after taking a bite. They are sweet and tasty. Maybe that is good so a couple with cold milk will suffice.

Happy Christmas planning. Advent is coming. Don’t forget St. Nicholas Day is coming up. December 6th. Put your shoes out and those good little girls and boys will find candy and a toy in the morning, and the rest of us…maybe we’ll get a coal shaped piece of candy!!

Joy to the World!


Rob Roy Cookies

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The German Chocolate Cake (Cake Envy) was a big hit at my house and at work where I brought half the cake so I wouldn’t overindulge. But now it is back to cookies. I don’t know if I will accomplish a dozen types by Christmas.

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I found this recipe in my mother’s recipe file box. I went through the cookie index card section and picked out several to make for this year’s Christmas cookies. This is an oatmeal cookie with raisins and nuts. What makes this a different cookie? My mom cut this from a recipe years and years ago and the clipping says it is the best. My preliminary research through multiple oatmeal cookie recipes shows that this recipe adds ground cloves in addition to the cinnamon, whereas most oatmeal cookies just use cinnamon. The other difference is that this recipe adds the oats, raisins and nuts before adding the flour. There is also a bit of buttermilk not found in most cookies.

This is not quite the “daddy holiday oatmeal cookie” that hubby wants but it may have to do. The cookie he dreamed up had M&Ms in addition to Craisins and nuts in an oatmeal cookie. I just may make Santa’s Whiskers with red and green M&Ms instead of candies cherries! No one in my household will know the difference since I’ve never made those cookies before!

November miscellaneous 017I gather the ingredients and because I never leave well enough alone I add the remaining half bag of butterscotch chips I find in my baking pantry. I have always liked butterscotch chips in oatmeal cookies. I just haven’t made oatmeal cookies for a while.The recipe calls for 1 Cup homogenized Spry shortening. I will be using butter. Then there is 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cloves, and 1 1/2 Cup brown sugar. This is all creamed together and then the 2 eggs are added.

November miscellaneous 019November miscellaneous 018Now add 1 1/2 Cups oats, 1 Cup chopped nuts, and 1 Cup raisins. Here’s where I added the butterscotch chips. Mix all that up together and then add half of the 1 3/4 Cup flour that has been sifted/whisked with 3/4 tsp baking soda. Add the 1/4 Cup buttermilk, and then the rest of the flour.

November miscellaneous 025Drop by teaspoon on to baking sheet. Here you see them bunched together because these are for freezing to bake later. November miscellaneous 026

The recipe clipping states to bake at 375 for 15 minutes. If you flatten them they are crispy and if not, they are chewy. I bake some  and feed them to hubby. He says they are better cooled rather than right out of the oven. He decides milk and cookies will be his supper! RR 004

Cake Envy

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My sister made the cakes pictured above. She also made a cowboy hat cake for a grandchild’s birthday but I could not find the picture.  She has a house full of people who can help her eat these cakes. I want to make cakes, fancy cakes, but I don’t want to eat the whole cake! And I would!

Someone at work brought in a Rachael Ray cooking magazine and I naturally looked through it. cake envy and rob roy 003And there was a picture and recipe for a German Chocolate Cake. I love German Chocolate Cake. I have it for my birthday each year. But it is a fussy cake to make so I usually have someone pick one up at a bakery for my day. But here was this cake and I was having a day off on Wednesday and I have one of those ½ year birthdays coming up this week so I made a cake.

A lot of people think this cake has its origins in Germany. It does not. It is made with a blend of chocolate with sugar already added developed by Samuel German in 1852. Recipes using this chocolate abound. It is all American and has the classic caramel pecan coconut frosting between its layers. Apparently the original recipe was published in a newspaper or magazine in the 1920s and it has been a classic American cake ever since.

In looking up the history of this cake I find that the recipe gets tweaked as in the number of eggs, whipping the egg whites separately or not, using cake flour, and even messing around with the type of chocolate used. The recipe from the magazine that I am using doesn’t call for German Sweet Chocolate but for semi-sweet and cocoa powder. But all the same, it is chocolate cake.

cake envy and rob roy 002Mise en place (I think I even pronounce this properly now).Preheat oven to 350 F.

1 ¾ Cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ Cup cocoa powder. Whisk dry ingredients together. Melt 4 ounces semisweet chocolate with ½ cup water. Separate 4 eggs.

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Cream 2 sticks (1 Cup) butter in the mixer until pale. Add 2 cups sugar and beat until fluffy and light. This takes 3-4 minutes. Add egg yolks one at a time. cake envy and rob roy 006(This is a fussy part.) Now beat in the melted chocolate and 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla. Then add the flour mixture alternately with 1 Cup buttermilk. (This is how my Mom always mixed her Best Ever Chocolate Cake recipe, so this is not really fussy.) Mix that up all together until nicely blended. Good job.

cake envy and rob roy 014Fussy part coming up here. In clean dry bowl whip the egg whites for about 4 minutes until firm peaks form. Fold this into the chocolate batter.

Now we are set to bake. During all these minutes of whipping I have prepared the pans. These are 9 inch pans sprayed with cooking spray, lined with parchment, and sprayed again with cooking spray.cake envy and rob roy 013 cake envy and rob roy 015

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Now wash the dishes.

frosting 004 frosting 005 frosting 006Make the frosting: 4 large egg yolks, 12 ounce can of evaporated milk, 2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 ¼ Cups sugar, 1 ½ sticks butter, 14 ounce pkg of flaked coconut, 1 ½ cups chopped pecans. Whisk egg yolks and milk. Add the rest and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until golden and thickened. This will take about 12-14 minutes. Add nuts and coconut, remove to a bowl, let cool stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. Frost cake.

I don’t know why I think of seven minute frosting as too fussy; here I’ve stood over the stove for twice that long stirring and stirring and stirring! While doing all this stirring, I think that I could have used the cold coffee from this morning to melt with the chocolate instead of water. I also wonder if I should have used my 8 inch pans. The recipe said the cakes may flatten some and they absolutely did. I’m also wondering what to do with leftover frosting because this sure looks like a lot, turns out I use it all after all.

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The next cake I bake will be a rainbow sprinkles with white frosting. I am making this from scratch this year instead of from the box. This will be one of the desserts for our Thanksgiving Eve Steak and Cake Family Feast. It is the favorite of my son-in-law and we celebrate his birthday then.

Let us eat cake! Then it will be back to cookies!

Building a Home

I wore myself out this weekend so leftovers go into the crock pot for Monday’s dinner. It will be chicken soup. I have put in here a frozen bit of cooked chicken, frozen stew vegetables from a previous meal, chicken or turkey broth (not sure which this is) and a can of white beans. This will blend nicely all day and I can make quick rolls, popovers, or might I even try for biscuits?!

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If you ever have the opportunity to work on a Habitat for Humanity house building project, please do. This is what I did this past Saturday. The weather held, not too warm, not too cold, and not rainy even though the clouds and wind moved in a bit. I signed up with my church to do this. I have always believed in this cause and admire former President Jimmy Carter immensely for his involvement.

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I do not tell you all this for my own aggrandizement. I have plenty of selfish reasons to be involved and this is only my second time. First of all I do not want to think of myself as old and unable. Second, if a man can do these tasks, so can I. I admit that is a personal untruth. I do not have the upper body strength that some construction work requires but I love power tools! And that can make a big difference in strength. Thirdly, it is “refreshing” to do physical work after spending all my working days using my brain instead of brawn. And it builds a home for a family that will never know my part in this. Anonymous giving. Except now I have told all of you. Oops!

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Now it is off to work to use my brain! Have a fabulous Monday!

This is childhood!

Greetings! I have been thinking about cookies. When I started thinking about cookies there were 10 weekends before Christmas. I think “one batch of cookies per weekend”. That would be plenty of cookies and a nice variety, actually a large variety, but not quite a dozen different types. I begin a list of cookie recipes: “daddy holiday oatmeal”, cappuccino flats, gingerbread?, spritz?, hmmmmm?

I go through my handy dandy KAF 200th Anniversary Cookbook and see what might be in there. I do this because I have too many cookbooks and this concentrates my mind in one place. The problem is I don’t find a great deal in there that interests me. In fact there were maybe three.

cookies1 011So I made a half recipe of the molasses cookies. These did not turn out how I expected them to. I was thinking along the lines of a sugar covered crinkle cookie but these were cake-like. Would be good to make a filling and make a sandwich cookie. So I eat a few and freeze the rest. The dough was soft and batter-like which surprised me. I had bought a Christmas cookie pan/sheet, not quite sure. I thought this pan might be useful for this cookie batter. So here they are. Interesting little muffin type cookie cakes. These actually tasted better the next day. So we ate a few and froze the rest.

Now I have this one set of cookies in two shapes in the freezer. And I found some more cookie dough rolled in a log. I think this may be “daddy oatmeal holiday cookie” but I am not sure. I have a lot of potential for cookies now. For dessert I had also just made a pumpkin custard which looks more like a pumpkin mousse. (That will be another story.)

You may be wondering at this point how is the title of this blog essay relevant. Hold your horses; I’m getting there!

At work I make a brash statement that I will bake something for the group. Chocolate is the preference. Thinking that hubby will be working late this gives me opportunity to bake something instead of fixing supper. All day I am trying to think of something besides chocolate cake to make. And I do have recipe for a very nice double chocolate cookie but I used the last of my molasses the other day. No-Bake Cookies come to mind. They are chocolate. I have the ingredients. Now I have to find the proper recipe. This cookie is known by several names. Some people call them haystacks, boiled cookies, and such. There are different recipes that change the amounts of the ingredients.

pumpkin custard and no bake cookies 013My sister recalls the combination of ingredients that Mom used. She published it in one of those recipe collection booklets that organizations assemble for fund raisers. I also have Mom’s original typed version.

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While looking for these I flip through the large index file box that holds a lot of Mom’s recipe clippings. It occurs to me that I could just bake through the cookie section of this. It’s an idea. Would I do it? A lot of these call for shortenings like Spry and Crisco. I would have to substitute butter. Hmmmmm?

I gather the ingredients for the No-Bake Cookies. Basically it is 1/2 cup of everything except the vanilla, sugar, and oatmeal.

pumpkin custard and no bake cookies 015Mix 2 Cups sugar, 1/2 Cup butter, 1/2 Cup Cocoa, and 1/2 Cup milk in a large saucepan. Bring to boil, boil one minute, stirring constantly.

pumpkin custard and no bake cookies 026Remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients: 1/2 Cup peanut butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 Cups oats. Drop on waxed or parchment paper. And like my Mom’s typewritten instructions “cool and eat”.

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While I am stirring in the remaining ingredients the aroma is chocolatey and peanutey and smells just like my childhood. I did not expect such a vivid olfactory memory. But there it was, and I savored it. Thank you Mom!

PS: I just noticed how my Mom’s calls for 2 teas peanut butter and my sister writes it for 1/2 Cup. What’s this about? Very interesting.