Thursday, September 29, 2011

Theatric Treats


The historic Hennipin Theatre Trust in Minneapolis celebrates the 90th anniversary of two of the city's cultural gems. The Orpheum and State Theatres opened in 1921. The staff asked if I would research and recreate some treats, I found these wonderful cupcakes and a tasty tea biscuit.

The Trust Open House is Saturday October 1, 2011 at both venues from 4-6 in the afternoon. There will be historical photos, books and programs, a treasure hunt at both theatres and live music and vaudeville acts. All fun and all Free! Theaters are located at 910 Hennipin Avenue and 805 Hennipin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, Minnsota. The Trust's website has more information and fabulous pictures of these amazing theatres -- a vision of the Roaring Twenties. http://www.hennepintheatretrust.org/front

These cupcakes won't be served at the event -- so you'll have to make your own Taste of the Twenties. They are light and easy to make. No doubt you'll roar with delight.


1921 Chocolate Cup Cakes
Makes 12-14 regular-sized cup cakes

1/4 cup butter
2 1-ounce squares unsweetened baking chocolate
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners or grease and flour. Melt the butter and chocolate together and set aside. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder into a medium mixing bowl. Stir the egg and vanilla into the milk. Pour these liquid ingredients along with the butter and chocolate mixture into the dry and stir until blended with a spoon or spatula. Fill cupcake cups about 2/3 full and bake until firm in the center, 20 -25 minutes.

1921 Coffee Raisin Cup Cakes
Makes 12-14 regular-sized cup cakes

1 cup raisins
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup butter
2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup strong coffee
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners or grease and flour. Chop the raisins roughly into quarters and mix with the tablespoon of flour. Set aside. Melt the butter and set aside. Sift flour, sugar, and baking powder into a medium mixing bowl. Stir the egg and vanilla into the milk and coffee. Pour these liquid ingredients into the dry, including the raisins, and stir until blended with a spoon or spatula. Fill cupcake cups about 2/3 full and bake until firm in the center, 20 -25 minutes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cucumber Ketchup

In today's New York Times Julia Moskin writes how chefs in New York and other cities have discovered the diversity of ketchups our 19th-century cooks made with abandon. As I read through early American cookbooks it almost seems as though the attitude was "when it stops growing, pickle it or make it into ketchup." I have many favorite recipes including Strawberry Pickles Cucumber Vinegar, Tomato "Figs" and this one for Cucumber Ketchup adapted from 1875 Prairie Farmer magazine.

You can find another delicious recipe from the Little House on the Prairie era here in the blog
The date on the post is January 16, 2011 and here's a bitly (http://bit.ly/1AF9kho)

It is easy to make and keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Great on ham or chicken sandwiches and it adds a fresh "bite" along side salmon or even lamb or pork.

Cucumber Ketchup
3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and grated
1 small to medium onion, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups white vinegar

Combine the cucumber and onion with the salt in a cheesecloth-lined colander and let stand over a deep bowl for one hour. Then pour off the drained juices and gently squeeze the vegetable mixture. IF you wish to reduce the salt content of the finished ketchup, you may rinse the vegetables in water and squeeze it dry.

Mix the vegetables iwth the pepper and vinegar in a heavy stockpot. Cook gently until the mixture is hot and has turned somewhat pale or yellow, about 10 minutes. Be sure the onions and cucumbers are fully cooked and tender. Cool and then carefully process in a food processor or blender until smooth. (Our great-great-great grandmothers would have forced them through a sieve) Return to the stockpot and simmer until thick, stirring to prevent sticking and burning as it reduces and thickens. Pour into clean jars and store in the refrigerator, Or you may process in sterilized jars according to USDA rules.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Quick Low Salt Pickles



A man walked into the Market at Oakwood. . .

This is the classic "bit of everything you need" stop on the south shore of Clear Lake, Iowa. Craig, Sharron, John, and I were discussing the merits of the newly installed roller hot dog machine and, importantly the kinds of toppings we loved on our dogs. The gentleman, who had come in for a five-pound bag of ice, said, "You must have a good heart to be able to eat dill pickles. Too much sodium for me."

I don't have heart trouble, but I am salt sensitive and try to avoid it. Sweet pickles are ok, But there is something about a sharp and tangy dill that sets off a sandwich or a dog. These quickly made cucumber slices come pretty darn close.

I hope you enjoy them "ice man."

Quick Cucumber Pickle
(serves 7 to 8)

1 large cucumber (or use 2 cucumbers and leave out onions)
2 medium onions
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional !

Other seasonings you may add by sprinkling on the cucumbers before adding the boiling liquid include: dill weed or seeds, celery seeds, or a dash of cayenne pepper.
Seasonings to add to the sugar before adding the vinegar and heating include: non-sodium pickling spices and/or dry mustard

Select a cucumber that has not been coated with wax and scrub it well. Slice cucumber and onion as thinly as possible and put into a heatproof bowl. Combine the sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan. Stir to dissolve sugar as you bring it to a boil over medium heat. Pour the boiling mixture over the cucumber and onions. Add salt if desired. Let stand until room temperature, stirring from time to time. Cover and put in refrigerator. Keeps for several days

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cooking for a Cool Summer


Suddenly it's summer in Minnesota.

After months of winter, we've skipped spring. The thermometer has jumped to 90 degrees, finding many of us unprepared. Snow shovels still stand by the back door -- just in case. Spring clothes are still at the back of the closet. And the window air conditioners are still in the basement.

Appetites change with the season just as suddenly. It is time for lighter fare and for dishes that don't require a lot of cooking Back before we had air conditioning, I would take advantage of still cool mornings to make some dinner dishes. I'd do most of the day's cooking before nine. With the back door open to the sounds of the awakening birds I could bake and simmer while Mother Nature took care of keeping the kitchen cool. I also used to plan our meals around cold or room temperature dishes. I kind of miss those days.

These days I'm making those cold dishes even lighter by cutting back on the fat and adding more vegetables. These two recipes are delicious takes on summer classics Deviled Eggs and a Cream Cheese Dip that can also be used as a sandwich spread or the binder for Chicken Salad.

Light Deviled Eggs
Cook 4 eggs to hard boiled stage. Cool and peel
For 4 eggs ( 8 halves)
Cool, slice in half, and discard half the yolks.
Grate a carrot on the fine side of a box grater.
Press grated shredded carrot in a couple of layers of paper toweling to wring out excess carrot juices.
Mash remaining yolks with a fork.
Stir in 2 tablespoons non-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard, any kind you prefer
1/8 teaspoon dill weed
And then the grated carrot.
Stuff this mixture into egg whites
Cover lightly and chill before serving.

Light Cream Cheese Dip
1 8-ounce container fat-free Philadelphia cream cheese
2 ounces dried cranberries
2 ounces chopped pecans
2 tablespoons minced green pepper
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cranberry sauce, jelly or whole berry

Combine all ingredients and store covered in the refrigerator. Use as a dip for apples or whole wheat flat breads. Use as a sandwich spread or mix a bit with equal parts cold chicken and pasta for a tasty salad

Friday, February 18, 2011

Season to Taste


Has the American taste for salt increased over the years? From my point of view, after spending years looking at and working with 19th and early 20th century recipes, the answer is a resounding Yes! For example, many of the old biscuit recipes I've come to enjoy don't call for salt. The sodium in the baking soda or "saleratus" is enough for satisfaction. Directions for using home or commercially canned vegetables in the 19-teens call for draining off the salty canning liquid and rinsing them. A good many of the sharp, savory or sweet sauces a good homemaker stored in her pantry were light on salt, yet filled with flavor. I'll discuss them in a following commentary.

Then there are the recipes for ham.

A good many of them call for soaking the smokehouse-hung hams overnight, the scrubbing them to remove the layers of salt, cayenne pepper and mold. Then boiling them and finally roasting. This recipe perfect for today's ordinary cooked hams, not the cotton-bagged Smithfield salt-cured versions. Slow simmering exchanges some of the salt with the flavor of the delightful wine and vegetable infused broth. This process works wonders with the cheapest ham, Canadian bacon and even Turkey ham. Folks will say it is, "the best ham" they've ever eaten. I'll store leftovers in the refrigerator for a day or two in some of the broth.

Wonderful 1867 Ham

3- to 5-pound ham
2 bay leaves
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 whole cloves
4 cloves garlic
small bunch parsley
small bunch fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried leaves
1/2 bottle white wine

This can be cooked in a a slow cooking "crock pot", a covered heavy roasting pan in a 325 degree F. oven, or on top of the stove, Score the rind of the ham and put it in the slow cooker or large pot with a lid. Add remaining ingredients and enough water to cover the meat. Simmer until the meat is tender 3 to 5 hours, or longer in the slow cooker on low.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Easy Recipes Celebrating "Little House" Foods



These Sour Milk Soda Biscuits and the Cucumber Ketchup below are easy to make and bring the flavors of the mid-nineteenth century prairie into today's kitchens.  A bite or two of these amazing biscuits are a lesson in how life was different for the Laura, Mary and their parents. I've written about cooking in this pioneer era in two books -- see more about them below the recipe section. 

My great-great grandparents pioneered on the Ohio Pennsylvania line, chopping farmsteads from forest. Every fall they packed up barrels of potatoes and apples, home-cured ham, and made jars of  jams to go in the cellar next to the spring harvested maple syrup.  

Meals could be tasty and abundant all winter and early spring with all those ingredients and foods set aside. Yet, homemakers had to consider carefully the what they could make without some key ingredients we all take for granted. Eggs are a prime example. 

I've written about the natural fluctuations in egg supply before -- eggs a-plenty in the late spring, non-existent in the winter. As one of the people I quote in Food Will Win the War put it: "in fall and winter hens take their annual vacation. Don't blame them." And in my work with material from Prairie Farmer magazine in the 19th century, I ran across my share of "egg-less" recipes. To be sure farmers and grocery wholesalers did try to find ways to "keep" eggs from spring surplus to supply winter shortage. Prairie Farmer and other agricultural magazines suggested coating the eggs with wax or putting them down in barrels of lime-water stored in the root cellar. Huge cold-storage facilities kept eggs well-chilled near urban areas, but the quality was lacking. 

This egg-less biscuit recipe from the 19th century uses another ingredient common in from my grandparent's  and probably the Ingall's pioneering kitchen. Sour Milk. If you don't have any handy, follow the directions to add the vinegar to sour your own.

Soda Biscuits
2 teaspoons vinegar
3/4 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine vinegar with milk and set aside to sour about 5 minutes. Stir flour, sugar and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Work in the butter with a fork until it no longer visible. Stir in about 2/3 cup of the soured milk. Add more if necessary to make a dough than you can knead until it is smooth. Roll out on a lightly floured surface. Cut with a one-inch biscuit cutter, flouring the cutter before making each biscuit. Place on lightly greased sheets and bake until browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen biscuits

Cucumber Ketchup

Prairie settlers took full advantage of everything from the garden. As late summer and chill early autumn days signaled the end of fresh-from-the-garden vegetables, it was time to pickle everything that could be put to good use livening up meals of cured meats and savory, sturdy beans. 

This Cucumber Ketchup recipe is adapted from Prairie Farmer magazine -- one that Charles and Caroline Ingalls would have read for crop advice, national news, and homemaking information--including tasty dishes that took advantage of farm bounty.  

Trendy restaurants are beginning to make ketchups from ingredients other than tomatoes. Our grandmothers, and even great-great-great grandmothers had the secret. "when it stops growing, pickle it or make it into ketchup or jam.  I have many favorite recipes from the Little House era including Strawberry Pickles, Cucumber Vinegar, Tomato Figs and this easy one adapted from an 1875 issue of the magazine--when Laura would have been eight years old and ready to help in the kitchen.

It is easy to make and keeps will in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Great on ham or chicken sandwiches and adds a fresh "bite" alongside salmon or even lamb or pork.  

Combine the cucumber and onion with the salt in a cheesecloth-lined colander and let stand over a deep bowl for one hour, or a bit longer. Then pour off the drained juices and gently squeeze the vegetable mixture to remove more excess water. If you wish to reduce the salt content of the finished ketchup, you may rinse the vegetables in water and squeeze the mixture dry. 

Mix the vegetables with pepper and vinegar in a heavy stockpot. Cook gently, over low heat, until the mixture is hot and has turned somewhat pale or yellow, about 10 minutes of simmering. Cool and then carefully process in a food processor with blender until smooth. (Our great-great-great grandmothers would have used a food mill or forced the mixture through a sieve.) Return the mixture to the stockpot and simmer until thick, stirring to prevent sticking and burning as it reduces or thickens. Pour into clean jars and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Or you may process in sterilized jars according to USDA rules. 

Cucumber Ketchup 
3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and grated
1 small to medium onion, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups white vinegar

Combine the cucumber and onion with the salt in a cheesecloth-lined colander and let stand over a deep bowl for one hour, or a bit longer. Then pour off the drained juices and gently squeeze the vegetable mixture to remove more excess water. If you wish to reduce the salt content of the finished ketchup, you may rinse the vegetables in water and squeeze the mixture dry. 

Mix the vegetables with pepper and vinegar in a heavy stockpot. Cook gently, over low heat, until the mixture is hot and has turned somewhat pale or yellow, about 10 minutes of simmering. Cool and then carefully process in a food processor with blender until smooth. (Our great-great-great grandmothers would have used a food mill or forced the mixture through a sieve.) Return the mixture to the stockpot and simmer until thick, stirring to prevent sticking and burning as it reduces or thickens. Pour into clean jars and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Or you may process in sterilized jars according to USDA rules. 



Read more about foods and the times on the Midwestern Prairie in the years 1895 to 1939 in this book filled with easy-to-make recipes. Order from Minnesota Historical Society Press paste in this link
(http://shop.mnhs.org/moreinfo.cfm?Product_ID=1159ยบ
or from Amazon.com
Prairie Kitchen cooking, stories and poems.
More than 100 great recipes from 1841 to 1900
Order from Minnesota Historical Society Press -- paste in this link
(http://shop.mnhs.org/moreinfo.cfm?Product_ID=1159)
or from Amazon.com


Copyright 2015 Rae Katherine Eighmey. All rights reserved. 



Sunday, January 2, 2011

My New Favorite Ingredient


Hershey's Cinnamon Chips!

I first purchased these by mistake. I thought I was picking up a bag of milk chocolate chips, but somehow my hand strayed into the stack-o-chip bags next to it. Like any cook with a mystery ingredient, I began by tasting them. Pretty darn good right out of the sack. My recipe for chocolate chip cookies includes the standard semi-sweet with some milk chocolate chips mixed in. I added the cinnamon ones, very nice. They are good in oatmeal cookies, or just oatmeal, too. They melt down nicely for a fancy coating like white chocolate on whatever you coat with white chocolate. I'm still thinking of other ways to use these delightfully spicy chips, but it is with Snickerdoodles that the Hershey Cinnamon Chips come into full glory -- making this classic recipe from the 1950s even better.

Snickerdoodles with Hershey Cinnamon Chips

1 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1 cup Hershey's Cinnamon Chips -- or more to taste

Additional for coating before baking
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking powder, and salt. Mix until dough is smooth. Stir in chips. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or put dough in plastic bag and chill for at least 2 hours. (You can put dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes if you are impatient. Or keep it in the fridge for a week, if you are not.) When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make the coating mixture by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a cereal bowl. Break off pieces of dough and form into balls about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Roll in the cinnamon sugar and place on lightly greased cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Enlist the kids to help. Bake until cookies just begin to turn brown and are firm in the center -- about 8 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Note: cookies puff up and then sink as they bake. Recipe makes about 8 dozen cookies 1 inch in diameter.