Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lemon Squares

I recently got in touch with a friend from college, and it turns out we were both raised on, and are still using, the SAME Betty Crocker's Cooky Book recipe book (1963) for all the cookies that really count! Well, most of them anyway!

She asked me which of the lemon bar cookies I liked and I flashed back to my shy high school years! My sister and I went to a High School youth group from church. One February they decided to have a baking contest. The girls would bake something sweet and the guys would judge whose was the best. Probably wouldn't fly in this generation of PC, but it flew fine way back then!

I made these lemon squares. Dusted them carefully with powdered sugar, and glued red hearts to the end of toothpicks and stuck a toothpick in each piece. Of course, this was all done with fear and trembling, as everything in High School seemed to be.

Well, imagine my delight and surprise when I WON! So, these are very very SPECIAL Lemon Squares to me! Dear to my heart!! Oh, and Ryu, my non-dessert guy, LOVES them too!

Lemon Squares - page 13!

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter/margarine
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 (mod.). Blend flour, butter and powdered sugar thoroughly. Press evenly in square pan 8X8X2". Bake 20 min. Beat rest of ingredients together. Pour over crust and bake 20-25 min. more. Do not overbake! (The filling puffs during baking but flattens when cooled.) Makes 16 squares.

Peanut Butter Bread

As I mentioned on my other blog, I was flipping through an Amish cookbook and came across Peanut Butter Bread. Well! That sounded strange enough to me to give it a try. I looked on the internet to find a recipe that I could easily share with you all if I liked it, and was SHOCKED to find all the recipes for Peanut Butter Bread! Seriously! I had NEVER heard of it before. Then I heard from Abigail at Mamatouille - her cooking blog, and before reading my post she had been planning to try this "interesting recipe".... Peanut Bread.

I made the bread, and, truly, if it weren't for the raves from the peanut butter lovers around me and those who want to try the bread, I probably wouldn't post the recipe. With each bite I kept wanting chocolate spread or peanut butter cookies. Needless to say, I forgot to add a handful of chocolate chips like planned!

I choose the recipe from Jif Peanut Butter. I figured if it had to do with peanut butter, a recipe from a peanut butter company should be good. And, while My Mother never bought it, as a child the ads ALWAYS said "Choosy mothers choose Jif!"

So, here it is. If you try it, please let me know. It is supposed to be nice with chocolate spread, cream cheese, jam, etc. Straight butter did not do the trick, in my book!

Peanut Butter Bread

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pour On Chocolate Frosting

My Mom used to use this recipe for frosting every time she made a chocolate sheet cake. She always took it to church potluck dinners and everyone always asked her for her recipe. "It's an old secret family recipe," she lied - AT CHURCH!

Yep! This recipe is from that old "fall apart cookbook" that I have written about a couple of times! (Favorite Recipes of the Great Northwest copyright 1964. It was submitted by Mrs. Barbara Clark, Pres. Oakridge-Westfir Jaycee-Ettes from Oakridge, OR.)

So, the secret started with my Mom! Today is my Mom's birthday, so I made a chocolate sheet cake and this wonderful frosting. Jun sang "Frosty the Snowman" when she heard the word "frosting!"

Mom said I could share this wonderful "secret" yet PUBLISHED recipe with you all. It is easy and yummy!

Pour On Chocolate Frosting

1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. cocoa (powder)
dash of salt
1 cup hot water
3 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients. Add water. Stir until well blended. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Pour over a warm cake. (Like 15 minutes out of the oven.) Spread it with a spoon. Shiny and YUMMY!

But, remember, this is a SECRET recipe!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Candied Ginger

I am such a "get your ginger out of a tube" woman when it comes to savory cooking. I can't be bothered to peel and grate the fresh ones. However, when I make my Ginger Cookies, I must use the real stuff. Here in Japan, they seem to sell fresh ginger in packages much bigger than I need. I heard you could freeze it, but, I don't think it would be good in cookies after that. So, it sits in my fridge. Then it gets thrown away.

A few weeks ago I caught a cold, and for some reason the ginger sitting in my fridge came to mind. I searched the web over and thought I found true love. Actually, it was a recipe for candied ginger and ginger syrup. Syrup for pancakes, tea, yogurt...well, you get the picture. It sounded so healthy.

So, when I woke up from sleeping on the sofa - again - to protect the family from cold germs, I headed for the kitchen. Someone said to peel the ginger by scraping it with the side of a spoon. I had never heard of this, but it worked so wonderfully! Then, I was supposed to slice the ginger into 1/8 inch pieces. Right. NOT! I have a slicer that slices 1.5 mm, so used that and was done slicing in a second. I only had 1/2 cup of ginger, so halved the recipe...or so I thought.

Candied Ginger

1/2 cup sliced ginger (1.5 mm)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Put it all in a small saucepan, and simmer for 30 minutes. Fish out the ginger using tongs or chopsticks, or... whatever, and place the slices on a fine mesh rack. My cookie rack was really not fine enough. The ginger kept falling through. But, anyway, let it sit and dry on the rack for 30 minutes. Then roll each piece(s) (they tend to stick together) in white sugar, and put them back on the rack. Then, let them sit overnight to kind of dry and harden. Store in an airtight container. I put mine in the fridge. This ginger is very very hot!!! Not for the kiddos!

Comments that I got from my Japanese friends about this ginger:

  • Is ginger in the US hot too? Uhhhh, I don't recall ever buying fresh ginger in the US. I grew up thinking ginger came out of a bottle that you shook and made cookies with.
  • The heat of the ginger root depends upon the part of the root you get. Who knew?
  • What do you do with it once it is made. Ummmm. I have no idea.
I had no idea, but my dear friend, Abigail, whom I sent a sample to, posted two recipes using it! You GO, Abigail! Ryu and I just use it as dessert. HOT!

Abigail made Ginger-ed Coffee, and used it in a Dressing for a Fruit Salad.

But, the story doesn't end here. I wondered why I only had 1 Tbsp. of syrup, after all the other reader's comments. The next day I was coming out of my cold fog and while I was cleaning the kitchen, I came across the recipe I had used...or not used, as the case turned out. The original recipe called for the following:

1 cup ginger
3 cups water
3 cups sugar

Yep, that would give you some syrup, I think. And, might take some of the hottness away from the ginger? Or not. Anyway, if you want syrup, up the amount of water and sugar, I say!!! LOL!

Actually, I did use that one lonely Tablespoon of syrup to make a wonderful drink. I grated a wedge of fresh apple and added hot water. Hot and YUMMY! My husband, Ryu, said that Japanese make a drink with grated ginger and grated daikon (long white radish). Sounds yukky to me, but...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Creamy Baked Beans

In the 1960's my Mom found a recipe on the back of an evaporated milk can for Creamy Baked Beans - or something like that. She always made it for picnics and parties. They are sooo yummy, creamy and mild. No other baked beans really do it for me.

Well, we moved a ton of times and the 1960's are long past, and the recipe only apparently exists, lodged in our food memories. No sign of it on the web, anywhere!

So, this evening we attempted to recreate the recipe. And it was good!

Creamy Baked Beans

1 14.5 oz. can of pork 'n beans
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tbs. prepared mustard (any that you put on your hot dogs will do!)
1/4 cup cream or evaporated milk

Pour it in a casserole dish and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Stir well before serving. It has a lighter color than traditional baked beans, and a light creamy flavor. Of course you can double/triple the recipe if you want. Just bake it for an hour or so.

I sauteed 1/4 of an onion till it was soft and stirred it in before baking. You could also add cooked hamburger or whatever floats your boat and it would be yummy too!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lemon Crinkles

This recipe is in my Mom's Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, copy write 1963. The book was given to her by my Grandma Mary. Nearly every page has grease stains, leftover flour, smudges! It is a delicious and much loved and used book. As a kid, I loved to look through book at all the pictures of the cookies. My sister found used copies for each of us kids for Christmas one year. It is Jun's favorite cookbook too. We like to read cookbooks together!

This recipe wasn't on Betty Crocker's web site, so I will put it here for you all to try!


From Mrs. ALfred T. Neilsen of Council Bluffs, Iowa, who prefers simple and easy recipes that leave her time for her hobby of making hats. (My mom asked if she burnt a batch of cookies if she was called "The Mad Hatter." We rolled our eyes for her!)

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
about 1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind (My mom used 1/2 tsp. lemon extract instead.)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ginger (dried powder stuff)
granulated sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees (mod.). Mix shortening, sugar, and egg thoroughly; blend in lemon rind. Blend dry ingredients; stir into sugar mixture. Roll in 1" balls (2.5 cm); dip tops in granulated sugar (I rolled them in it.) Bake on ungreased baking sheet 10-12 min. Makes about 3 doz. cookies.