Garden Medley

Some days I feel surrounded by family.  This fall marks five years since two of my dad’s siblings passed away, within a couple weeks of each other.  I’ve found myself looking to be connected to members of my family, immediate and extended, over the past few weeks.  While having people over and cooking for them, sharing food, I am reminded of family gatherings, where we would often all come together.  We don’t gather as often in the years since my grandparents have passed away, cousins have gotten married, and the number of family members has increased significantly as younger and younger kids have been added.

In this quest for family, I pulled out a cookbook that our family put together in 1995 and was looking to add something to the Grilled Honey Lime Chicken Sandwiches when the director of residence life and his family.  I found this recipe that was submitted to the Anderson Hand-Me-Downs cookbook by my Aunt Kathy.  She was an amazing woman, and she loved all of her nieces and nephews a bunch.

In one of those stories/things of note that  sticks with me as a truth, but could have been a one-off experience, Kathy brought deviled eggs to the only Easter celebration I remember celebrating at my grandparents’ house before my grandfather passed away.  That holiday is the only memory I have of my grandfather that isn’t a story about his stoicism and matter-of-factness passed down from other relatives.  Therefore, in my mind, Kathy always used to bring deviled eggs for Easter.  She doesn’t have a recipe for these eggs in our family cookbook, but I do think of her every time I make or eat deviled eggs.

This salad is even better than I remember those eggs being.  And, better yet, throughout the week I kept adding more vegetables to it until the dressing was gone.  Anything that was fresh in the garden was added and the salad made for a delicious, and slightly sweet, accompaniment to the other items I was eating throughout the week.Garden Medley.jpg

Continue reading

Summer Pasta Salad with Herbs

My love for recipe books has been well-documented through this blog and as I start today’s post where I “cook the book,” I want to note that this recipe is not coming from some celebrity or must-have recipe book.  Instead, it’s coming from my favorite genre of cookbook, the church cookbook.

For years, as I have driven to Fort Collins to work on my doctoral studies, I have stopped in Kearney, Nebraska as a halfway point, where I have walked around a Target, gassed up the vehicle, or grabbed a quick bite to eat at the grocery  store.  Each and every time I make the drive, I see the sign for the Cookbook outlet.  Two years ago, I tried to stop at the outlet, but it was Memorial Day and they were closed.  This year, I decided I needed to stop and see what the cookbook outlet had in store for me.  And it was marvelous.

The cookbook outlet is at Morris Press, a small publishing company that specializes in family and church cookbooks and the outlet features overrun or extra cookbooks that they have.  These cookbooks are sorted in a number of ways, including by state.  I picked up a few cookbooks from states I had and hadn’t been to.

Well, over the weekend I was invited to a small Memorial Day party and I decided to spend a few minutes looking through a cookbook entitled After the Harvest: A Collection of Favorite Recipes.  It is from the First United Methodist Church in Columbus, Mississippi.  The first thing I noticed when paging through the book was the number of recipes that involved fish and shellfish that we don’t have access to in the midwest.  Then I started looking for something I could bring to the upcoming party and the Summer Pasta Salad with Herbs submitted by Karen Williams looked like it was a must.  Having recently planted my garden, I was excited about using some of the herbs.

Summer Pasta Salad with Herbs

Continue reading

Cabbage Patch Stew

After making Cabbage Salad for Christmas, we had half a head of cabbage leftover.  We were debating different items we could make to use the rest of the cabbage and my mom mentioned a cabbage stew she had with some friends a few weeks earlier.  Ready for some “not-so-goopy” food before my sister and her family arrived and we started all over again with eating fancy cooked foods.  So, on December 27, we found ourselves making Cabbage Patch Stew.

Cabbage Patch Stew

Continue reading

Spinach Tortellini Soup

onionsSo, last time I posted, it was about the turkey stock we made from the turkey we made last month. A couple days after we made it, I used the stock to make a soup which had become quite famous at my last workplace. I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about this before, but one of the most amazing women I ever met used to make Spinach Tortellini Soup every time someone on the floor had a birthday. I would make Garlic Bubble Bread to accompany it and we would feast in the break room over the lunch hour. There were never any leftovers, partially because the soup is addicting, and partially because once someone heard that is what we were eating, everyone would come in.

Spinach Tortellini Soup.jpg

Continue reading

Good Ketchup

Over the last several weeks, we kept getting tomatoes from our CSA.  I am not a big fan of tomatoes as they are, so instead, I have been freezing and saving for an ideal time to make ketchup.  And, one Sunday, while I was working on some other things around the house, I spent a few hours making ketchup.  It ended up tasting pretty decent.  I might make a few tweaks, and I think using yellow tomatoes made a big difference in making the tomatoes taste delicious.  I used the recipe from Canning for a New Generation, a great book for some inventive canning recipes.  The recipe is titled, “Good Ketchup” and I did not have any issues with this.  I’ve included my slight modifications in parantheses.

Good Ketchup

Makes about 4 Half-Pint Jars

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

7 pound tomatoes, chopped

½ c cider vinegar

½ c packed brown sugar or honey, or ½ c agave nectar (I used honey)

2 tsp pure kosher salt

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp ground allspice

¼ tsp ground cayenne

In a wide preserving pan (kettle), heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and soft but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are very soft, about 30 minutes.  Pass the mixture through a strainer or a food mill fitted with the disk with the smallest holes to remove the seeds or puree the mixture in a blender in batches and then push it through a sieve (I used an immersion blender).

Rinse out the kettle and return the puree to the pan.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently to prevent the solids from sticking at the bottom, until thick; this could take as long as 2 hours, depending on your patience and your need for thickness. (I used the full two hours.)  Taste, and add more vinegar or sugar as nece3ssary.

Ladle the hot ketchup into the jars, leaving ¼ inch head space at the top.  Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid and ring on each jar.  Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch.  Bring to a boil, and boil for 20 minutes to process.  Remove the jars to a folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours.  After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each; if it can be pushed down, it hasn’t sealed, and the jar should be refrigerated immediately.  Label the sealed jars and store.

Festive Salad

It’s August, which means it is tomato season.  Besides zucchinis, tomatoes are coming out our ears here in Iowa.  It seems like every day there is a new option for some recipe involving tomatoes to be used.  One of these days when I have the right amount of them, I’m going to try making ketchup.  For now, however, I am sharing a recipe known as Festive Salad.  It’s one of the strange recipes which I would not imagine would taste delicious, but it actually is a great little salad.  I would encourage you to try it, if you have the ingredients on hand.  This sweet mixture of grapes and tomatoes, without added sugar, is a delicious way to use up the summer vegetables which arrive and get your veggies in!  I’m not sure where the original recipe came from.  I know I got it from my mom, and I think it was a Weight Watchers recipe once upon a time…

festive salad

Continue reading