Sunday, November 30, 2008

Honey Butter

My Dad recently asked my Mom if I remembered EVERYTHING from my childhood. Well, I sure remember a lot. I remember observing, watching, and pondering more than talking. However, my memory may be hazy there!

In my memory of my childhood, we often ate soup. Good old Campbell's soup. And we always had Saltine crackers with our soup. The crackers came in a long wax paperish sleeve. For dessert, on those evenings, my Dad would dump some butter/margarine into his soup bowl, pour a bunch of honey over the top, and mix it all in well. Then, he would butter crackers for each of us and feed them to us as fast as we could eat them - finishing off the "sleeve" of crackers. The honey butter always had a faint hint of soup in it, making it "Dad's Honey Butter!" My Dad was not a cook in those days. This, ice-cream sodas, and root-beer floats are the only things I remember my Dad making when I was a kid. So, it is a very special memory!

Well, the other day I introduced Jun to honey. She was wary at first, but, hearing it was like SUGAR, gave it a try, and was quickly converted. However, honey is sticky and drips and makes a mess. Mama doesn't like messes much. So, after a day or two of sticky, I remembered HONEY BUTTER! I mixed up a batch, and I'm not sure which of us likes it more. Yummm! No crackers yet, but it goes great on hot biscuits or toast! Oh, and it makes me LONG for cornbread!

Recipe? Not really. Just mix some butter/margarine till it is soft, add in as much honey as you like and mix it up. It keeps in the fridge just fine, so make as much as you want! (Remember kids under one should not have honey! :))

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Apple Salad a la Grandma Esther

My memories of Grandma Esther's cooking will stay with me forever. When we were growing up and stayed over while Mom and Dad were off hunting deer, we got to have Lucky Charms cold cereal! With the shaped marshmallows in it! Never at home. Grandma Esther also opened an entire 1/2 gallon box shaped carton of ice-cream and used a knife to cut pieces for us - like a cake. Then she closed it back up and put the box back in the freezer. Anyway, she was full of surprises when it came to cooking - but that is for another post.

Her Apple Salad has become a holiday tradition in our home - if I am home to make it, that is! So easy and yummy. And, I must admit that as I have never seen her recipe, this is my interpretation of it!

Apple Salad a la Grandma Esther

  • apples! I like to use a green one, a yellow one, and a red one. One or two of each. I might peel half of them and not the other half. I like the color in the salad. Slice the apples into 8 wedges (or so), and then cut across the wedges so you get nice triangular shapes.
  • raisins! I throw in a handful or two of raisins. However, at Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might use dried cranberries or cherries.
  • walnuts! Well, Jun is allergic to walnuts, so...I am so sad. However, I bet you could use pecans or ???
  • celery! I am not a big celery eater. My Japanese student HATES celery - except in this salad. Cut it as big or little as you like. The crunch is a must in this salad!
  • marshmallows! My Grandma Esther put miniature marshmallows in this salad! See! She was a very cool Grandma! I don't put them in because I am a mature, health conscious, boring person with no access to marshmallows. All the above are true! Again, a handful or two will make any kid happy to eat this salad!
  • dressing! I make it differently every time. Basically start with something like mayonnaise, drained yogurt, miracle whip - whatever your family/friends like. You will not need as much as you think, so be careful! Add some sugar, especially if you skip those marshmallows!, and I like a big dash of cinnamon and a tiny dash of nutmeg. Mix and pour over the salad and stir well.
If you make this a little early in the day, the raisins will soak up extra moisture and plump up nicely. Be sure to refrigerate it. So easy, colorful, and yummy. My Hubby even likes it!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Virtual Thanksgiving Dinner 2008

This is my menu for Thanksgiving! Too bad I won't have a chance to make it or EAT it this year. Oh well, most of these yummy items are great for Christmas, so I get another chance this year!

Makes me hungry just reading it! Mmmmm. Looks like I need to get a few more recipes on this blog, huh! Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Scones a la Reiko-chan

Back in my single days, and I was living in a freezing apartment in Japan, a young Japanese woman, who was studying and living in the US at that time, came to stay with me for a couple of days. Her name is Reiko. For breakfast, she made me scones from a recipe she had learned from someone in the States. Unfortunately, my baking powder was past its raising age, and the scones came out quite...dense. However, I have kept and made this recipe Sooooo many times.

I got it out again this morning and made them with cinnamon chips. So yummy! Ryu was eating his silently. I kept oohing and ahhing over the scones and asking him what he thought. Finally he said, "Kim, when I am eating quietly, it means it is just too good for words." Well, there you have it!

1/2 cup butter (I used cake/stick margarine)
1 3/4 cup flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
4-6 Tbsp. milk (I used a combo of yogurt and water)
1/2 cup raisins **
1 egg, beaten (to brush on top of the scones)

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Combine the milk and egg, and stir in so the dough leaves the side of the bowl. Turn it out on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly 10 times. Roll or pat to a 1/2" thick circle. Cut into 6 wedges. Put on ungreased baking sheet, brush with egg, back at 450 F for 10-12 min.

Now, the way I did it! HAHAAHA! First, a friend who owns a cake shop makes scones (different recipe) and makes them into little balls. So, I tried it with this recipe, and it works wonderfully. I suspect it doesn't take the scones so long to bake, and you have more individual servings. This morning I ended up with 11 scone balls.

**I use raisins when I want. I have also used:

  • cinnamon chips
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips and crushed sea salt almonds!
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips and pecans (upped br. sugar to 1/3 cup.)
  • orange marmalade (no milk or raisins. Add 1/2 cup orange marmalade)

Friday, November 14, 2008


I found a recipe for peach and pear chutney in a holiday recipe book. I have never eaten, seen, or made chutney before. And, I didn't have most of the ingredients, but the idea stuck in my head. So, I looked to see what I DID have and made the following chutney. It is SOOOO spicy and delicious!

Peach and Pear Chutney

1 can peaches - drained and diced
1 can pears - drained and diced
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. pickles spice (see note below) put in a cheesecloth or tea holder.
2 Tbsp. finely chopped raw ginger (at the request of Ryu. I diced it, and it was a bit too big, I guess.)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup reserved syrup/juice from peaches/pears.

Place all in a sauce pan and cook over low for 1-1 1/2 hours or so, until liquid is nearly gone, all fruits are soft, and yummy! I put a lid on it till the fruit was soft, then took the lid off and simmered it till the liquid was reduced.

This chutney is QUITE spicy, and wonderful with curry. I want to try it with cream cheese on crackers too.

**Pickles Spice. I used a pickle spice mix that contains: bay leaf, chili pepper, cinnamon and cloves.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Graham Crackers

When I got back from my trip to the US this summer and realized that all the "black syrup" I had from Okinawa (from students) was, in reality, a form of molasses, I wanted to make a quick whole wheat bread using said "molasses". So, I went to the expensive food store to see if they had whole wheat flour. They did, was too expensive for the condition of my wallet that day - so, I bought graham flour instead.

Well, I never made the bread and have been trying to get rid of 1/2 kilo of graham flour, a couple of tablespoons at a time in pancakes, etc. Then, Trisha posted about making whole-wheat crackers with her little ones. Actually, rolling dough out and cutting it out and baking it! I was humbled and inspired to try the honey graham cracker recipe I found and printed off months ago.

Sunday afternoon is my favorite time for baking, so, while Daddy took a much needed nap, Jun and I made graham crackers. Half way through the process, I began to doubt myself. When it got time to roll out the dough, I began to curse myself. When Jun cut our chosen shape out of the MIDDLE of the 1/8 inch thick dough, well, I didn't do anything bad, except, well, kind of scream plaintively. Then, when trying to remove said 1/8 inch thick pieces of dough to the baking pan...well, it wasn't pretty. I did, however, enjoy stabbing the pieces of dough countless times with the tines of a fork. Not sure what that says about me.

I was absolutely shocked at the outcome! They taste like graham crackers! They actually look like the shape they were supposed to look like before they got all ripped up and smudged back together before baking! Wow!

Oh, you need the recipe! Here it is!

Honey Graham Crackers

I made 1/2 batch to try things out. I also substituted "cake margarine" for the butter and shortening, because that is what I have. "Cake margarine" is margarine in bars. I am also clueless as to what graham flour in the States might be like - assuming this recipe is from the States. But, I think mine is really really rough, so it didn't soak up much of the liquid, leaving a very sticky dough. To which I added more flour when I was rolling it out to the dreaded 1/8 inch. With a rolling pin, I might add, proudly. Oh, and I used my pastry blender/knife thingy to cut in the margarine! Just wanted to mention those two wonderful tools I had to wash the dust off before using! LOL! So, anyway, next time I will adjust the ration of graham flour to regular flour - increasing the wheat flour, and decreasing the graham flour a bit. Oh, and the recipe didn't call for salt, but I put 1/4 tsp. in for 1/2 batch.

And, I have lots of graham flour left, so, I guess I will be making these again! Sure beats graham flour in pancakes!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Diamond Rule

The Diamond Rule - or "Why I Love to Cook - Part I).

So, if I am not really doing much yummy cooking lately, I can at least bend your ear as to why I do so love to cook, right?

My Mom started becoming her family's dinner chef while she was in high school - when her Mom went back to work. By the time I reached late elementary-early jr. high school age, she had been cooking dinners non-stop for about 17 years, I figure. So, she was quite happy to be replaced in the kitchen as much as possible.

I, on the other hand, loved to watch Mom cook. I also hated to peel potatoes, but that is another story. I remember HAVING to taste that bouillon cube. It MUST be chocolate. But it wasn't. I remember shoving chairs around the kitchen to SEE! I remember standing behind the ancient huge white electric stove and watching her make blackberry jelly. We agree that that may not have been the safest place for the kids, but, it made a wonderful memory.

I also hated to wash dishes or clean the kitchen. That I had done since I was able to reach the kitchen sink while standing on a chair.

Thus, the Diamond Rule. If you cook, you don't clean! Pure heaven! Mom had two other kids to send to clean the kitchen, so I was allowed to cook many a meal and then be FREE to return to my book, or whatever.

I know many parents don't let their kids cook if they don't clean up. We never ever had that conversation. And, I love to cook to this day. I was always surprised that my older sister and younger brother never took more advantage of that Diamond Rule!

I intend to keep the Diamond Rule going for Jun, though, with both of us standing at the sink in water up to our elbows, we have some nice conversations, and I hope we will continue to do so for a long long time - even after she does start cooking ALONE!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Eggplant - Hot & Sour

Sachiko also taught me this recipe. Ryu, who hates vinegar, loves this. Go figure!

Eggplant - Hot & Sour

3 Japanese eggplants (trim the tops off them. Then make 2 2-inch-deep cuts - like an "X" in the top of them. Wrap each of them in wrap and pop them in the microwave for 4 minutes. When they are done, CAREFULLY unwrap and, using the cuts as a start, pull the eggplants into four long strips.) NOTE: I actually use this method of cooking eggplants for other dishes that I don't want to use oil to cook them in.

1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
a little rayu (very hot red oil with a sesame base) The link has a recipe for rayu, if you can't find it in your super. EVERY Japanese supermarket has it, I'm sure.

Mix the sauce up and then stir in the eggplant so each piece is coated well. Put in the fridge and serve chilled. Yummy and easy!

NOTE: I haven't used this sauce on other steamed veggies, but, it just might be delicious!