Recipes Feed

My Grandmother's Recipes

Over Christmas, we couldn't lay hands on some of my grandmother's recipes, and so the cauliflower I made for Christmas dinner didn't turn out quite right. So that this never happens again, I though I'd share them with y'all (as she would have said). These were copied down from the index cards in her recipe box.

Happy New Year. Enjoy.

Recipes of Frances S. Cramer (6/17/06 to 9/7/99)

SCALLOPED ASPARAGUS  (hand-written recipe in Frances Cramer’s recipe book.)

1 can of asparagus    1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup of milk    1/2 cup melted butter
1 tbsp. Flour    1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt

Make white sauce of butter, flour, and milk.  Pour off liquid from can and add asparagus to white sauce.  Cover bottom of baking dish with creamed asparagus.  Combine crumbs and melted butter and layer this over asparagus, alternating layers of asparagus and crumbs.  Finally, place grated cheese on top and bake until cheese melts and browns slightly.

SPAGHETTI WITH TEXAS-STYLE SAUCE  (hand-written recipe in Frances Cramer’s recipe book.)

1 box of Skinner’s spaghetti    1 can of stewed tomatoes
3 medium-size onions    8 strips of bacon
1 tbsp. Gebhart’s Chili Powder    1 clove of garlic
1/2 lb. grated American Cheese

Chop bacon into fine pieces and fry until quite crisp.  Put in finely chopped onions and garlic and fry until quite brown.  Drain off half the juice from the tomatoes, then add them and remaining juice to the sauce.  Add chili powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Boil the spaghetti in salted water until soft.  Butter a large platter and spread half of the spaghetti evenly on it.  Cover this with half of the sauce and half of the grated cheese.  Repeat with layers of the remaining spaghetti, sauce, and cheese.  Place platter in a warm oven and melt the cheese, then serve.

CAULIFLOWER IN SOUR SAUCE  (typed recipe in Frances Cramer’s recipe file.)

3 tbsp. of melted butter    3 tbsp. of flour (level)
1 1/2 cups water    1 egg – well beaten
3 tbsp. vinegar (or lemon juice)    1/2 tsp. salt

Boil cauliflower until tender, in salted water.  Melt butter and add flour and salt.  Beat mix until creamy, then gradually add water until well mixed.  Gradually add beaten egg, beating constantly with a wire whip so that egg will not curdle, until creamy and thickened.  Stir in vinegar.  Drain cauliflower and place in a serving dish.  Pour sauce over cauliflower and serve.

STEAK AND MUSHROOMS  (typed recipe in Frances Cramer’s recipe file.)

1 cup of mushrooms    3 tbsp. of butter
1 cup of milk    2 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt    1/2 tsp. paprika
1 lb. of sirloin or round steak

Simmer mushrooms in butter for 7 minutes.  Cover and cook slowly.  Add flour and cook until browned.  Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until sauce thickens.  While sauce is cooking, broil steak until done, place on a platter, trim off and discard the fat, then cut into bite-size pieces.  Pour sauce over the steak and serve.
HONEYMOON NOODLES (FOR TWO)  (from memory, no written recipe found)
(This was the first dish Frances learned how to cook as a new bride.)

1/2 of a medium onion    2  tbsp. of butter
4 oz. egg noodles

Peel and finely chop onion, then sauté in butter until brown.  Boil noodles in salted water until done.  Place noodles in a serving bowl.  Pour onions and butter sauce over noodles and serve as a side dish with steak and mushrooms.

SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN (typed recipe in Frances Cramer’s recipe file.)

1 fryer, cut up    1/2  tsp. of paprika
1/2 cup flour    1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt    1 cup of salad oil

Mix ingredients (except oil).  Heat the oil in a medium pot.  Coat chicken pieces with flour mixture.  Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.  Reduce hear, cover pot, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove cover for last 5 minutes.  Make cream gravy with 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water.

CALUMET SUGAR COOKIES  (Page 22, Calumet Cook Book, 1932.)

2 1/2 cups sifted flour    1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Calumet Baking Powder    2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg    Grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup butter or other shortening    1 tablespoon of rich milk or cream

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and nutmeg, and sift together twice.  Cream butter thoroughly, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, lemon rind, and cream, and beat well.  Add flour, a small amount at a time.  Beat after each addition until smooth.  Roll into thin sheet on slightly floured board.  Cut with floured cookie cutter and dredge with sugar.  Bake in hot oven (425° F) for 7 minutes.  Makes 2 1/2 dozen 3 inch cookies.  These may be cut in fancy shapes.

BANANA-NUT BREAD  (typed recipe in Frances Cramer’s recipe file.)

2 cups of sifted flour    1/4 cup of buttermilk
11/2 tsp. Calumet baking powder    2 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon    1 1/2 cups of ripe banana pieces
1/2 tsp. baking soda    1/2 cup of soft Crisco shortening
1/2 tsp. salt    2/3 cup of sugar
1/8  tsp. cardamom    1 cup of pecans

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease a 9”x5”x3” pan.  Mix and sift flour, baking powder, salt soda, cinnamon and cardamom.  Cream the shortening, add sugar and eggs.  Gradually add flour mixture and buttermilk.  Blend together, add nuts, and place in pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 1 to 1 ¼ hours.

DATE LOAF  (hand-written recipe in Frances Cramer’s recipe book.)

2 cups of sugar    1 pinch of salt
1 cup of milk    3/4 box of dates
1 cup of pecans

Dissolve sugar in milk.  Then boil until it forms a soft ball in cold water.  Add stoned and chopped dates.  Allow dates to dissolve while continuing to heat until mixture will from a firm ball in cold water.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Beat until creamy, add nuts, and roll into a cylinder in a damp cloth.  Allow to cool and harden, then remove cloth and slice the cylinder into circular sections.

PEACH COBBLER  (typed recipe in Frances Cramer’s recipe file.)

1 stick of oleo (or butter)    1 cup of sifted flour
1 cup of sugar    2 tsp. of Calumet baking powder
1/2 tsp. of salt    1/2 cup of milk
2 cups of peaches

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Slowly add milk while stirring.  Melt the oleo in a casserole and pour over mix.  Place peaches on top of batter.  Do not stir.  Batter will rise and cover fruit.  Bake in a pre-heated 350° F oven for 40 minutes.

GOLD FRUIT CAKE  (typed recipe in Frances Cramer’s recipe file.)

3 1/2 cups of sifted flour    1 1/2 cup of butter
2 cups sugar    1/2 tsp. salt
6 eggs, separated    2 cups of raisins (or chopped dates)
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar    1 cup of dried apricots
1 cup of milk    1/2 cup of orange peel
1 tsp brandy extract    1 cup of chopped walnuts
(or 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup of brandy)    1 tsp. vanilla

Beat butter until creamy.  Add sugar, beating until smooth.  Beat egg yolks and add.  Combine milk, brandy, and vanilla.  Mix flour and salt.  Alternately add milk mix and flour mix to butter mix.  Fold in fruit and nuts.  Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff.  Fold whites into batter gently.  Pour mixture intotwo buttered and floured six-cup molds.  Bake at 275° F for 2 1/2 hours.  Cool and unmold.

OBSTKUCHEN - TEIG  (typed recipe in Frances Cramer’s recipe file.)

1/4 cups of margarine (or butter)    1 egg
1 tbsp. water    1 package teig mix (from Continental Store)

Mix ingredients together.  Butter pan.  Pour mixture in pan and spread evenly.  Bake at 400° F for 20 minutes.  Mix glaze according to package.  Add picked and washed berries to glaze.  Stir together lightly.  Place berries on cake one at a time.  Pour remaining glaze over berries and place in refrigerator for several hours.  Top with whipped cream before serving.

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE  (typed recipe in Frances Cramer’s recipe file.)
(This recipe won a 1925 cooking contest)

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour    2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt    1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. of butter
1 cup of granulated sugar    2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup of milk    1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup packed brown sugar    1 can (20 oz.) sliced pineapple in syrup
Maraschinos cherries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Beat 1/2 cup of butter with granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well.  Combine milk and vanilla.  Stir dry ingredients into egg yolk mixture, alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat egg whites until dry and fold into batter.  Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in 10” iron skillet, brushing the sides.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and add the drained pineapple.  Pour batter on top and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.  Loosen edges of cake from pan, invert, and drop the cake onto a plate.  Garnish with cherries.

Live Cooking #1

OK: It's in the oven now. This is what I did: I bought some really nice looking chicken breast at the Farmer's Market direct from the farmer. I marinated it for an hour in fresh lime juice and agave nectar (agave is a cactus used to make tequila; but this is just a thick syrup that looks like honey). The resulting marinade is reminiscent of Maragaritas. But I hadn't decided what to do yet when I set it to marinate.

We have some cashews, and they go well with chicken. So what to do? One of my siblings bought a really large jar of mango chutney when they came to visit in August, so I have mango chutney in quantity.

This is what I did: I spread the chutney on one side of the chicken and sprinkled it with cashews and then folded it over. Then I put it in a castiron baking dish, sprinkled the top with coconut, and put the lid on. It is baking at 350 now. I'll let you know how it turns out.

In another baking dish in the oven along with the chicken is acron squash: cut in half with th insides scooped out; baked with butter, pomegranate juice, honey, and a cardamon seed filling the hole in each half.

SO HERE'S HOW THINGS TURNED OUT: Predictably, the chicken was delicious (and very popular with the kids). Next time, I'll use small metal skewers to secure the folded chicken because, of course, it unfolded as it cooked. The squash was also very good and went great with the chicken.

All of this was upstaged by the brussel sprouts made with my famous sprout sauce (made with butter, lemon, caraway seeds, celery seeds, and crumbs).

Cooking with Bugs

According to the BBC, young cicadas taste like canned asperagus. And if you are into that sort of thing, because we are expecting a large hatching of 17-year cicadas in the Northeast, this summer will be a time of good eating:

It makes things easier for people who like to eat them - young cicadas are said to taste like canned asparagus.

But curious diners should take advantage of the glut as the next monster swarm is due in 2021.

Gee. It never would have occurred to me to wonder how they would taste. Seventeen years ago, when the last cicada swarm occurred, I was living in Brooklyn. No one mentioned eating them. I guess I missed out.

For those at a loss as to how to cook them, the Washington Post (back on April 16th) offered a few helpful suggestions: one easy way to serve cicada is apparently sauted with butter and parsley.

To harvet your prey, the WP suggests the following method:

There they will molt, taking about an hour to squeeze out of their dust-colored skins. Once they have broken free, it is your moment to strike: Pluck the creamy white adults off the trees. Gather as many as you desire for the culinary adventures ahead. Admire their red eyes and furled wings.

Do hurry. The exoskeletons of the newly molted adults will turn black within about 12 hours and harden over the next couple days. Once that happens, the cicadas remain eminently edible but they lose their soft-shell cachet. They're also easier to apprehend in their just-molted stage. 

And here's a more elaborate thought:

At Fahrenheit, a restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Georgetown, cicadas almost made the menu this year. "The soft-shelled cicada, it's done just like a soft-shelled crab," says executive chef Frank Belosic, describing how freshly molted cicadas should be rolled in flour, pan-fried in olive oil, and finished with a sauce of white wine, butter and shallots. Served as an appetizer, the dish would have cost diners $10 or so.

But for those truly interested, Amazon offers a number of coockbooks on cooking with bugs: Eat-A-Bug Cookbook by David George Gordon, Creepy Crawly Cuisine: The Gourmet Guide to Edible Insects by Julieta Ramos-Elorduy, photographs by Peter Menzel, and Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects by Peter Menzel & Faith D'Aluisio. There is also a YA novel on this subject, Beetles, Lightly Toasted by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

I haven't yet decided to bring up this subject with my children, though Elizabeth may discover the delights of cicada on her own.

UPDATE: Check out the Washington Post's Cicadacam! Don't they look yummy?

Leftover Roast Beef?

So I have about a third of a leftover roast in the fridge (grass-fed, freerange, of course), and I've got a bad headache so I am not as inspired cooking-wise as usual. What do I do?

Easy. Go to Search for leftover roast beef under Books, and their search engine comes up with an abundance of suggestions for what to do with leftover roast beef.

I am perfectly aware that the cookbook writers might take exception to this violation of their book contract, literary rights, etc. But they can always pull their books from Amazon's prgram if they want (like I did). And hey, I might even like their cooking. Though, more likely, I would get the gist of what's being suggested in multiple cookbooks and make up my own recipe.

Peter's After-School Drink

Here is the recipe for Peter's afternoon "milk shake" that he usually drinks when he comes home from school, which is actually a banana-blueberry yogurt smoothie. I need to write it down anyway for Annie & Geoff, who will be caring for Peter while we're away in Australia, so I thought I'd share it.

3 peeled bananas
1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
1/4 cup of other frozen fruit (papaya, raspberry, or mixed fruit)
3/4 cup pomegranate or blueberry juice
1/2 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons aloe juice or gel (optional)
1 teaspoon liquid calcium (optional)
2 teaspoons acidophilous liquid (optional)

Blend on a high setting until smooth. He drinks a couple of child-sized cups of it through a straw. I drink the rest.

November Tabouli

David has gone off to Philcon. The kids and I have stayed home -- if we went, we'd never get the Christmas tree up at the rate things get done around here. I have a longer, deeper post cooking in the back of my head, but this has been a supernaturally busy day. I've had to be extremely organized, and even so I for got to put the dirty diapers out for the diaper service. I gave an hour-long presentation on fossils to Peter's first grade class. First I passed around, trilobites, fossil coral and bones, a fossil fish, a couple of amber necklaces with inclusions, and some stone tools. Then I let them make their own fossils with shells and Playdoh. Then I gave them a set of plastic T-rex bones, declared them paleantologists, and told them to assemble the creature. It was a big hit, but I was horribly late with the cat to the vet, but she got her shots anyway. Then off to grocery shopping and Christmas shopping, all before I picked up Elizabeth at noon. And the whirl isn't over: in a half hour, we're off to the Cub Scouts Pack Meeting.

MEANWHILE, here's a recipe of mine from November of 2001 I've been meaning to drop into my blog:

November Tabouli

This is an extremely nutritious tabouli high in omega-3 fatty acids (from the flax), iodine and other vitamins and minerals (from the alaria), fiber (from the whole grains), iron (from both the amaranth which is very high iron and also the bulger wheat), and niacin (bulger wheat). Also, the bulger wheat/amaranth combo is supposed to have the amino acids to make a complete protein, in the manner of beans and rice. This is what I seem to want to eat in vast quantities right now, a bowl every 2 hours or so.
6 cups of water
1/4 cup flax seed (Arrowhead Mills)
1/4 cup whole grain amaranth (Arrowhead Mills)
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups bulgur wheat (Arrowhead Mills)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup lemon juice (may require less if using fresh lemons; four large lemons seem to do it)
4 large ripe organic salad tomatoes or an equivalent quantity of organic sundried tomatoes chopped into small chunks (sundried chunks should be very small)
bunch of dried Alaria (Maine Coast Sea Vegetables), soaked quantity: about 1/2 a cup
fresh herbs, if available: parsley, basil, rosemary or mint

Soak alaria in a bowl of water and put to side. In a large pot, bring water, flax seed, amaranth, garlic, olive oil, sea salt, and bay leaves to a boil. Add bulger wheat. Turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Put tabouli in a salad bowl. Add chopped tomatoes. Chop alaria and stir into mixture. Chop herbs and add. Let stand for 1/2 hour or more. Enjoy room temperature or chilled.

Blizzard Ostrich

There's no time like a blizzard to cook ostrich! Here's what we had for dinner:

Blizzard Ostrich

1 lb. ground ostrich
1/3 cup nonfat yogurt
1 small finely chopped onion
1/4 cup white raisins
1 tablespoon almond oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon corriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon cillantro

(The seasoning measurements are approximate. Some cardamon would probably have worked well, too.)

Blend ingredients together and form into hamburger-sized patties. I then let them sit for an hour since I wasn't ready to cook them and also to let the seasonings soak in and the raisins soften. (One might consider soaking the raisins in white wine beforehand. That would also do the trick.)

Gently saute (I used almond oil) until medium rare.

It was really good. Peter liked it, though picked the onions out of his. Elizabeth kept asking for more. David and I loved it.

Cocoa Bison

Who would have thought? Cocoa is an antioxidant!

So, other than hot chocolate and mole sauce, what can we do with this information?

Well, I just happened to have bison patties in my freezer, and I had a thought, which turned out to be a very good thought:


2 bison patties, thawed
2 tablespoons Avocado oil (olive oil would probably do fine)
1 tablespoon cocoa (powder)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
lemon juice

1. Mix the cocoa and cumin in a bowl.
2. Dredge the bison patties in the cocoa-cumin mixture.
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan on fairly low heat. (Bison cooks very fast and is dry if overcooked, so be cautious.)
4. Gently saute the bison patties, putting about half a teaspoon of lemon juice on each patty per side.
5. When cooked to your taste (I had mine rare), remove the patties from the pan and stir the pan drippings into a gravy.
6. Serve, pouring gravy over them if desired.

This experiment turned out great. Both Peter and Elizabeth wanted seconds. Somewhat to my surprise, I had to part with some of mine to satisfy the child demand.