Black Walnut Cake

Dad didn't like a lot of cake.  About the only one he did like was a black walnut cake.  Unless you have tasted black walnuts I wouldn't suggest you try this unless you are a food adventurer!!  We like it as we were raised on it but black walnuts have a strong and distinctive flavor.  Nothing else tastes like them.

My sister Linda was asking me about if I had a recipe for this and I think I remembered this as the correct one.  It calls for lemon zest and almond flavoring and Mom just used vanilla instead.  I remember this specifically.  Anyway our family has a get together planned and I thought I would make it up in Dad's memory.

This is not a tall cake and it is an old recipe and made the old way.  It is a dense and flavorful cake by today's box cake standards.

1/2 C. soft butter
1 C. sifted sugar
2 C. cake flour
3 t. baking powder
3 egg whites
2/3 C. milk
1/2 t.almond* (we used vanilla)
Grated rind of lemon*  (we omitted this)
1/4 C. chopped black walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and butter and flour 2,  9" round cake pans. 

Cream the butter and add the sugar, continue to beat.  Sift flour once, measure then add the baking powder and sift 3 times.   Add alternately to the butter and sugar mixture with the milk.  Beat thoroughly until smooth.  Add flavoring.  Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are light but not dry.  Fold very carefully the beaten egg whites into the batter.  Add the walnuts chopped fine and fold in quickly.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Cool 10 minutes and remove layers from pans.  Cool completely before frosting. 

4 C. powdered sugar
3 T. soft butter
2 t. vanilla
1/4 C. heavy cream

Beat all ingredients well and add additional cream a drop at a time until the desired consistency is achieved.  Frost the cake and store under a cake dome.   Yield 12 slices.

This recipe was adapted from the 1947 version of the Settlement Cookbook by Mrs. Simon Kander.

Apple Salad (Waldorf Updated)

Mother and Grandma both made the classic Waldorf salad and we enjoyed it especially around the holiday's as I recall.  I make is just because I like it and kick it up a notch with a few additions.

Apple Salad ingredients:

2 washed, cored, and diced red skinned apples (leave on the peels of all the fruits)
1 washed, cored, and diced green skinned apple
1 large washed, cored, and diced pear
1 1/2 C. washed, stemmed, and halved red seedless grapes
1 1/2 C. washed, stemmed, and halved green seedless grapes
1 orange peeled, sliced 1/4" thick, seeded,  then halve the slices
1 C. sliced celery 1/4" thick
1 C. small cheddar cheese cubes
1/2 C. pecan or walnut pieces
1/2 lemon juiced
1/2 C. mayonnaise
2 T. honey

Squeeze the lemon juice into the bottom of a large bowl and toss in the prepared apples and pears.  Stirring well to coat all of the fruit in the juice.  Add all of the rest of the ingredients and stir together well.  Cover and chill until serving time.  Stir well again and serve in pretty glasses or lettuce cups.

Yield 8-10 servings.


Old Fashioned Persimmon Pudding, My Grandma's Recipe.

Persimmons grow on Persimmon trees in southern Indiana, at least the one's I know the best.  There are others from other places and I will admit to buying the large Asian variety at the grocery in a fit of desperation.  These are the genuine Indiana variety as my oldest son found them frozen at a farmer's market and bought them for me.  If you find them you must taste them.  You will know if they are ripe as they will be sweet and delicious or they will pucker your mouth worse than any lemon would ever dream of!!  Some varieties are not ready until after a freeze others ripen a bit earlier.  I will NEVER forget my introduction to them.  My Grandpa Burress had several tractors but Dad took us kids a ride on the little Ford tractor down the lane from the barn to the mouth of the "little woods" (yes there was a big woods).  And there stood a tall tree with golden salmon colored fruit the size of an English walnut.  We stood on the tall rear wheel covers to reach them and I popped a not so ripe yet one into my mouth.  I was maybe 7-8 years old and that would have made it about 1955.  BOY!!! What a pucker I got and Dad just fell out laughing as did my brother Gary!!!

This is my Grandma's recipe as written out from My Mother for me when I was first married.  If you obtain persimmons you must first run them through a food mill  to remove the cap, skins, and seeds.  Then you retain the pulp for a fresh pudding or label and freeze for use later.  The recipe goes like this:

1 C. persimmon pulp
1 C. sugar
1/2 T. soft butter
1 C. sour milk
1 C. flour
1 egg
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. ground ginger
The recipe also calls for 1/2 t. lemon extract but no body in my family ever used it so I will call it optional.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and butter a 9" x 13" glass baking dish.  Set aside.

Cream butter into sugar, add beaten egg, and persimmon pulp.  Measure dry ingredients and dissolve soda in the sour milk.  Then add these alternately to the first mixture.  Add flavoring and pour into the prepared pan.   Bake 45 minutes.


1 C. sugar
1 T. flour
1 C. water
1 T. butter

Mix the flour and sugar together well in the pan with a slotted spoon or whisk.  Add the water and butter and heat to a boil while stirring.  Pour the cooled sauce over the pudding.  Serve the pudding in dessert dishes and top with sweetened whipped cream.  Yield 6-8 servings.


Baking a Box Cake at 7:00 AM Christmas Eve Morning and more!

The girls were here yesterday to bake cookies and made an easy treat I saw on Paula Dean, Hidden Mint Cookies.  The recipe is to slice store bought sugar cookies and press a chocolate mint cookie between two slices of the dough, press the edges together and brush with beaten egg.  Paula then tells you to sprinkle with nuts but my granddaughter's preferred to use Swedish sugar and bake on parchment about 10 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven.  Their Dad, our son Mike loves mint cookies so these are sure to be a hit with him.

They then went on too Ella's White Sugar Cookies posted on 4/11/11 and frosted them with the recipe given on 12/10/11 under Sugar Cookies because this frosting hardens and is great to hold onto the sprinkles!!

I forgot to have them make Turtle Candy but they ran out of time anyway and their Dad was here to pick them up!!

I just baked a box cake as some do not like the persimmon pudding I have planned and white cake with chocolate frosting in really a universal go to here and I am taking all of the short cuts I can as I know our son Chris and the twins are on the road and I want to be ready for them!!  ( I got their little potty chairs from out of the bottom of the closet!!) Tomorrow our son Joel and his wife will be here and all of our sons and their families will warm my heart as I see my children gather around the tree once more.

I am about half way finished with a persimmon pudding and hope to get it posted yet today,  if not I will as soon as I can as it is a terrific traditional "Burress/Neukam" family tradition. 


Chocolate Truffles Flavored with Triple Sec

I have a ton of recipes for fudge and truffles but had never made truffles so last night I started with a conglomeration of about a half dozen recipes and this is what I have come up with.  And,  they are good!!

It goes like this for my ingredients:

8 Oz. bittersweet chocolate ( I used Ghiradelli,)
8 Oz. semisweet chocolate ( I used Ghiradelli.)
1 C. heavy cream
1 T. brewed coffee
1 or 2  T. Triple Sec (optional, orange flavored liqueur)
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 C. powdered sugar
1/2 C. cocoa

Line the surface of a cutting board with a double thickness of waxed paper for easier clean up.  Then chop the chocolate with a sharp knife. (I used my chefs knife.)   Place the chocolates in a glass heat-proof mixing bowl. 

Heat the cream in a small pan until it just boils then turn off the heat.  Strain the cream into the chocolate through a fine sieve.  Stir the cream and chocolate together until the chocolate is completely melted.  Depending on the temperature of the kitchen this may work perfectly.  If it does not you may heat the bowl IN NO MORE THAN 10-15 SECOND intervals in the microwave oven.  Stirring well after each span in the microwave.  Be very cautious as if it becomes too hot it may seize up.   Add the flavorings and continue to stir until perfectly blended together.

Let set in a cool room (I used my dinning room as the kitchen gets hot with the range on.) for at least an hour or two.  My truffles were still too soft so I let them sit overnight and they were perfect.  This is a judgement call based on your environment.  Some recipes recommend you refrigerate for 30 minutes then form into candies.  Again you have a bit of wiggle room here. 

The bottom line is you will need to be able to roll the mixtures by teaspoons of batter in the palm of your hand to form small balls.  The warmth of the palms of your hand will soften even stiff batter.  Lastly roll the formed candies in powdered sugar, cocoa powder, or a mixture of both.  I used a mixture of both.

Yield 1 pound truffles.  These will keep for weeks in the refrigerator but are best served at room temperature.


Chipped Beef Chip Dip

One of our sons" texted "me last night asking me to make this dip.  It has always been a favorite and we, my sisters and I have made it for years.  The original recipe came from an A&P Deli in Broadripple and they told me how to make it.  I was probably about 25 years old at that time!! Whoa!! It has been around a while for sure.


16 oz. sour cream
8oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese at room temperature
Sliced thinly the green tops of 1 bunch of green onions
2 packaged of Budding Chipped Beef diced
1/2 t. onion salt

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate overnight.  Serve with assorted chips or crackers.

Yield 3 cups dip.


Christmas Brittle and Tiger Butter Two New Candies at My House!!

Christmas Brittle
I have become a big fan of a blog called The Iowa Housewife posted by two wonderful sisters Sue and Myrna, in fact it has become one of my favorite sources of inspiration and source of new recipes.  These two gals have collected a library of cookbooks spanning a lifetime of good food and family.  Stop in and visit them!!  I am sure you too will be inspired.

Both of these recipes have come from them.  Back when they were posted I made a mental note to try these two "sweets" for our Christmas this year.  They were easy to make and turned out beautifully.  The Christmas brittle is to die for.  The salty nuts and the caramel coating mmmmm.   It will not be around long I would venture to say.  The Tiger Butter is luscious.  I've never enjoyed licking a spoon more!!  It should be broken into smaller pieces as it is rich.

Here is the recipe for the Christmas Brittle:

8 C. Crispix cereal
1 C. walnuts
1 C. pecans
1 C. slivered almonds
1 C. salted peanuts
1 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. white syrup
1 C. butter
1/2 t. soda
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tarter

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and butter a half sheet pan.  Set the pan aside.

Boil the brown sugar, syrup, and butter 4 or 5 minutes.  Add salt, cream of tarter, and soda and stir altogether.  Pour over the cereal and nuts and mix.  Pour into a large sheet pan (I used a half sheet pan lined with heavy duty foil and buttered well.)  and bake in a preheated 300 degree F. oven for 15 minutes.  Cool completely and break up.  Store in an airtight container.  Posted by Myrna.

Tiger Butter
Tiger Butter:

1 lb. Almond Bark baking bar
12 oz. ( 1 1/2 C.) peanut butter
12 oz. Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 T. shortening (NOTE: There can be NO substitutions.  Not butter, margarine, or oil.)

Prepare a glass bowl over simmering water to melt the chocolate chips.  Line a half sheet pan with a silpat mat or parchment paper.  Chop the almond bark into small uniform pieces and put them into a microwave proof bowl.  Add the peanut butter.  Microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir.  Then again microwave for 15 seconds and stir.  Mix well each time.  I microwaved one more time for 15 seconds and stirred until smooth. 

Do not overheat or the mixture will seize up!

Spread out evenly over the prepared pan.  Melt the chocolate chips over the simmering water adding the shortening to reach the desired consistency.  Spread in lines over the bark mixture then drag a two pronged meat fork through the lines first left to right then right to left to form the tiger markings.  Chill then break or cut into small pieces.  Posted by Sue.

I am just delighted with both of these treats and look forward to the smiles on my families faces when they try these new Christmas treats.  Thanks again to the Iowa Housewife.

Final Preperations before Christmas. (And I've lost 3 more pounds!)

Christmas candies, fruit, and nuts are tucked all around the house and ready for the family to enjoy!!
Winter begins tomorrow and it is gray and bleak outside.  The Christmas decorations light up my home and there is a warmth as I snuggle down in a soft chair and gaze at the lighted tree.  I thanked Brian especially because he let me get a real tree this year and he so hates the mess when it comes time to drag it outside. 

This Frazier Fir stands clothed in old, old collected and made ornaments.
I stepped on the scale this week and am happy to report the loss of another 3 pounds since Thanksgiving. I was thrilled as I have not seriously stayed on the diet since then.  I have tried to follow the rules that are the easiest for me.  Drinking no calories is a  "no brainier"  for me.  I can stay away from white bread and eat a very limited amount of rye bread when I crave it.  Really limiting potatoes and pasta is doable but I have had a bit,  but nothing like the every day carb routine.  So mostly it is salads, veggies and meat with a little fresh fruit thrown in occasionally white Brian has ice cream or candy.  It is not too bad.  I may get back on the program after the first of the year.  We will see what 2012 brings!!

Santa's lights are twinkling!!
Yesterday I finished the wrapping and shopping except for a quick trip to the butcher Friday to pick up the roast I have ordered.  I was tickled to death to see a strip roast advertised in our local flyer for $2.00 a pound more than I am purchasing the one we will enjoy for Christmas dinner!!

The bedrooms are ready, decorations are shinning, and I will start making cookies and candies today after the laundry and vacuuming of the downstairs is done. 

This large tray of candles adds warmth to our evening with the soft glow  it brings.
I send out Christmas Greetings to one and all and pray for peace and good will for everyone. 


Mike's Angel Food Cake

Well it is 10 of 8 and I just finished the second birthday cake for tomorrow.   This is a recipe I have already posted on Dec. 20, 2010 and the post is titled, "12 Eggs do an Angel Food Cake Make".  I made a quick chocolate butter cream frosting using the following ingredients.

Chocolate butter cream frosting:

3 T. butter
1 square bitter chocolate
3-4 T. heavy cream
1 t. vanilla
4 C. powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Melt the butter and chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted and smooth.  Mix the sugar and vanilla and cream all together with the melted butter, chocolate, and salt adding additional cream until you reach the desired consistancy and ice the cake.

Oyster Stew

These oysters are done because the edges have curled.
Brian's Grandma Ruby Cosby of Washington, Indiana (may she rest in peace) always had all of the family to their house on Christmas Eve for oyster stew.  I do not know how she made hers.  I only know how my family has always made it.  (Dad LOVED it and so we all had it several times a season.)  Brian asked for it today before I went to the grocery so I am making tonight for us for supper.  It seems a nice supper for the Christmas Season.  If one like oysters it is a sure fire hit.

Here is how I make it:

1 pint of fresh oysters with liquor
1/4 c. butter
2 C. milk
1/2 C. cream
Freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan and add the oysters with their liquor.

Saute just until the edges of the oysters curl then add the milk, cream, salt, and pepper to taste.  Heat just to steaming hot. Do not boil.  Pour into warm mugs and serve with crisp saltine crackers.  Yield 2 servings.

Gourmet Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

This makes a large showy cake, 7-8" tall by 10' across serving 12-18 people.
There have been several occasions where I have made different recipes for carrot cake but this one my friends is the end all!!  I made it the first time 7 years ago for Brian's 60th birthday surprise birthday party.  In fact, I made 6 different cakes for that party, one for each decade of his life.  It was cool.  We had the cakes across the front on a large banquet and Brian blew out 10 candles.  Each of our 3 sons blew out a cake with 10 candles and Brian's brother Bart and his Aunt Virginia each blew out a cake with 10 candles.  All at the same time sixty candles blown out across 6 cakes by family members.  Brian says it was the most fun he's ever had!!

Well back to the carrot cake.  It is Joel's favorite.  It goes like this.

1 pound of freshly grated carrots
3 1/2 C. flour ( King Arthur All Purpose)
2 C. sugar
1 1/4 C. vegetable oil (Canola)
1 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple
7 ounces of shredded coconut
1 c. chopped pecans
3/4 C. raisins
5 eggs
4 t. Vietnamese cinnamon
4 t. Tahitian vanilla
3 1/2 t. soda
1 t. salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all of the ingredients in the order listed in a very large mixing bowl.  Use a stand mixer if possible.  Mix using the paddle attachment of the electric mixer for about 5 minutes.  Pour into 3 nine inch pans that have been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and lightly floured.  Bake for 40-50 minutes until a pick inserted into the center of the layers comes out clean when removed.   Cool in the pans for 1 hour,  then remove to a baking sheet lined with a double layer of waxed paper.  When cold frost with cream cheese frosting.


12 ounces of softened cream cheese
3/4 C. margarine softened
6 C. powdered sugar
1 1/2 t. Tahitian Vanilla

Beat the cream cheese and margarine together in a mixing bowl until very well blended.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.  Spread between the layers and over the cake until smooth.  Yield 12-16 servings.

This is adapted from the original recipe of Chef Doug Rennie C.E.C. when he was the head chef at the Victoria National Golf Club.  He is a wonderful person and a great Chef!!

My method of putting together large cakes like this one is to use 3 long skewers forming a small triangle in the center of the cake.

Cut them off about 1/8" higher than the top of the cake and frost over them.

The cake will remain secure and the layers will not slide.  When you cut the cake the bamboo skewers are exposed and easily removed. This is also a wonderful "White Christmas" Dessert and worthy of any festivities you may plan.


My Christmas Prayer

Beloved, let us love one another:  for love is of God;  and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not  knoweth not God;  for God is love.   I John 4:7-8 JKV

Holy Father in Heaven we come before You this Christmas season with thanks in our hearts and praise on our lips for Your love of us that You gave Your Son to live and die for us that we might be saved in Jesus Holy name and washed of our sins. 

Help us to dedicate ourselves to love and renew our determination to love others as you first loved us.  We pray that our hearts and the hearts of mankind might be softened with a deeper understanding of the meaning of truly loving

We pray that you would be with every family no matter where or under what circumstances and be with them and Bless them.  We ask you to heal the sick and comfort the suffering and to feed those that hunger.  Dear Father please look into our hearts and know the needs and grant them in a way that we mere men and women cannot.  For you are the light of this world and a lamp unto our feet.

Father we thank You again for the birth of Your Son Jesus Christ this Christmas and all of the Blessings you have bestowed upon us.  Be with us and grant us Your guidance and protection.  Bless this country and heal our planet as we seek to mend ourselves and others through love.  In Jesus name we pray, not my will but Thine be done.  Amen.



Old time Gingersnaps.
"A pungent gingersnap.......crispy on the edges but soft in the center."  This is the original description given in my Betty Crocker Cookbook.   This sounded very appealing to me and it turned out to be a spot on description.  I look forward to making my adaptation of them each winter,  I associate them with the cold winter weather. AND YOU KNOW HOW I LOVE THE HOUSE TO SMELL ALL WONDERFUL WITH GOOD THINGS BAKING!!! These certainly do the trick on all fronts.


3/4 C. coconut oil or other shortening
1 C. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 C. molasses
2 1/4 C. flour
2 t. soda
1 t. Vietnamese cinnamon
1 t. Ginger
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. salt
granulated sugar for rolling cookies

Mix together the shortening, brown sugar, egg, and molasses.  Blend in the remaining ingredients except the granulated sugar.  Place in a bowl or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Shape the dough by teaspoonfuls into uniform sized balls and roll them in the sugar before placing them on parchment or silicone mats to bake.

If using just a cookie sheet, grease lightly.  Place the balls up to 3" apart on the baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes or until just set.  Remove from the baking sheet and cool before storing in an airtight container.

Yield 3 dozen cookies.

Christmas Menu 2011 and Double Birthday Dinner Menu.

This year we opted for a REAL tree, a Frasier Fir, so the house smells wonderful!!
Yesterday I planned two menus.  The easier of the two was for Christmas.  Several years ago I switched Christmas Dinner to a more reasonable for me in the kitchen meal.  I wanted to spend more time with my family and less over the meal.  At that point I started having all of the traditional dishes for Thanksgiving including both ham and turkey so everyone gets the long anticipated favorite holiday memories revisited.

At Christmas time we have beef.  We have had roasted fillet,  tenderloin made into bacon wrapped steaks and grilled , standing rib roast, and my favorite New York strip roast.  This year I have ordered form our butcher the New York strip roast.  It is my pick for a couple of reasons.  First it is delicious.  You season with ample amounts of cracked black pepper and coarse salt and roast it at 325 degrees F. for about 20 minutes per pound for medium.  It has less waste than prime rib and it is more economical.  In fact,  the price generally goes down on this cut at Christmas as more folks opt for the more traditional prime rib or tenderloin.  I like to make our own traditions and this one is a big win!!

Here is the CHRISTMAS Dinner Menu:

New York Strip Roast and
Roast Breast of Chicken
Tossed Green Salad
Twice Baked Potatoes
Hot Yeast Rolls


Persimmon Pudding with Whipped Cream
Christmas Cookie Assortment
Rum Cake

Since we plan to eat at noon there wouldn't be the necessity for a lot of munchies.

This Sunday we are celebrating both Joel's birthday and Michael's birthday.  Both have December birthdays.  We are smoking baby back ribs and chickens as it is forecast to be a sunny and warm weekend.

Here is the BIRTHDAY menu:

Smoked baby back ribs and chickens
Cole slaw

Baked sweet potatoes and white potatoes
Roasted carrots

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, Joel's favorite
Angel food cake from scratch, Mikes favorite
Ice Cream

Meanwhile I will be shopping and trying to figure out my new iPhone!!!  Molly ate Brian's phone while I was away in Indianapolis so we are learning new phones.  Quite a task for us "electronically challenged"!!!


Orange Bow Knot Rolls (Yeast Rolls Softly Perfumed and Flavored with Orange!!)

Orange Bow Knots
My husband's Aunt Virginia McCausland made these rolls the first time I ever tasted them.  It was love at first bite.  My recipe comes from her with a few adaptations of my own.  It is one of many she shared with me.

Now I make them on holidays sometimes and remember her.  She was full of life and had a twinkle that touched everyone.  She is in a senior living center now and I hope her days are happy.


5-5 1/2 C. all purpose flour
2 1/2 t. instant yeast
1 1/4 C. milk
1/2 C. butter
1/2 C. sugar
1 t. kosher salt
2 eggs
2 T. grated orange peel
1/4 C. orange juice
2 T. Buttery Sweet Roll Flavor (optional, can be ordered through King Arthur Flour Co.)

Combine in a large mixing bowl 2 1/2 C. flour and the yeast.  Set aside.  Heat the milk, butter, sugar, and salt until just warm (115-120 degrees F) stirring until the butter is almost melted.   If the temperature goes above 120 degrees you will need to cool it because it will kill the yeast!

Add the warm milk mixture  and the Buttery Sweet Roll flavor to the flour mixture.  Add the eggs, orange peel, and orange juice and beat with the mixer for about 1/2 of a minute.  Scrape the sides of the bowl well and beat at high speed for three minutes. 

Stir in by hand 2 1/2 to 3 additional cups of the flour mixing to form a soft dough.  Knead by machine 6 minutes or by hand 8 minutes.

Shape into a soft ball and slip it into a large buttered bowl, turning once to coat both sides.  Cover and let raise in a warm place for about 2 hours until doubled in bulk.

Punch down, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Shape into bow knots by rolling dough into a 19x10" rectangle.  Cut strips 10" long and 3/4" wide.  Roll each strip lightly into a pencil like strand.

Loosely tie into a knot and place on a buttered baking sheet.  Cover and let rise until almost double, about 45 minutes.  Bake in a hot 400m degree F. preheated oven for about 12 minutes.

I under bake these rolls (about 8-9 minutes), cool, and package them to freeze.  Then I finish baking when needed and serve hot with butter.  They can also be frosted and served as a sweet roll.  I like them as they are served with Christmas dinner adorned only with pure sweet butter.

Double bagged and ready for my freezer.
Orange Icing:  Blend 1 C. sifted confectioners sugar, 1 t. grated orange peel, and 2 T. orange juice.  Stir altogether and frost cooled rolls.  Terrific for a brunch or breakfast anytime of the year.  Yield 1 1/2 dozen large rolls.


Penny Pincher Tips

I started this posting a few weeks ago and because there are so many folks in unforeseen strife these days plus Christmas is upon us I thought I would share some of the ideas I have used over the years to be frugal and not waste things. 

My best friend has always said I could make a dime go further than anyone she has ever known.  I doubt I am all that good at it but I have tried to use what things I have been given usefully.

It seems to me there is always a big slump in available monies and in peoples spirits between the Christmas holidays and tax time.  There are unfortunately many times I can remember big layoffs in the dead of winter.

As we head into that cold and gray season I hope my few ideas may be helpful to some of you and at least be food for thought.

 #1.  Keep leftover vegetables in the freezer for vegetable soups.  Example leftover corn on the cob from summer. cut off and freeze.  Left over peas, corn, soup beans, rice, green beans, tomatoes, cooked cabbage, carrots or turnips, just freeze.  I use a 1 quart freezer container and just keep adding until it is full than I start another one.  Potatoes do not freeze well and turn mealy. Use them promptly and don't try to freeze them.

#2.  Keep extra cooked roast or Swiss steak and gravy and freeze for vegetable beef or barley soups.

#3.  Freeze extra stocks for use later.  It is good to vary the size of container as some recipes will ask for 1/2 cup and others might ask for a quart or more.

#4.  Collect recipes to use up things that do not freeze well.  Example mashed potatoes.  Use for potato cakes, potato rolls, Shepard's pie, or donuts, potato salad, etc.

#5. Stick to basics.  You do not help yourself when you clip coupons and buy things you would not have purchased in the first place.

#6. Eat at home 5-6 nights a week, take a lunch if you are not at home, and do not use processed foods.  It is always better to make real food and it is less expensive.

#7. Reuse plastic bags.  I use plastic vegetable bags to line the pulp section of my juice extractor and the bathroom waste basket.  I use the plastic grocery sacks to recycle paper and plastic in and it all goes together in the recycle bin.

#8.  Donate what you don't need or don't use.  There is a "karmic" value to getting rid of things in a useful manner.

#9.  Sew if you know how to.  If you don't know how consider learning.  You can do a lot of good with the ability if you use it.  I save old wool sweaters for felting, old woven fabric for quilting, and velvets for comforters.  There is a world of "re purposing " ideas out there to explore.

#10.  Don't go shopping unless you have a specific list and the money to pay for it.  Do not buy if you don't have the cash.  Comparison shop.

#11. Save butter wrappers in the freezer to butter cake pans and cookie sheets and casseroles with.

#12.  Purchase several whole chickens and either cut them up yourself or have the butcher package for you.  You will save a lot of money this way.  I recently bought 6 whole chickens for about $30.  and had it packaged as follows:  1 package of backs and wing tips to use for stock.  2 packages of skinned and deboned thighs for stir frying.  1 package of 12 wings separated into 24 drummets for hot wings.
4 packages of 3 half chicken breasts.  3 packages of 4 drumsticks.  This makes at least 11 meals averaging $2.72 and that is not bad.  If you have a local butcher check for savings on "package" deals.

#13. Purchase large cuts of meat like chuck roast or pork butts and cut into smaller portions for recipes and freeze.  You are generally charged extra to cube meat for stew over  what you would pay for a whole roast and cube it yourself.

#14.  Grow your own fresh herbs and vegetables if possible.  Container gardening works if you are short of garden space.  Save your seeds from one year to the next if you are fortunate enough to have seeds that are not hybrid.  Freeze, can, and dehydrate any surplus you grow and take advantage of Farmers Markets to buy fresh produce and put up for the coming months.

#15.  Trade or barter services or goods from friends or neighbors.

#16.  When using egg yolks for a recipe freeze the whites.  Eggs freeze very well and this is a great way to "save up" for a homemade Angel Food cake.   When you have a few egg yolks to use make up a batch of homemade noodles and freeze them to cook at a later date. 

#17.  Cheese and lunch meats freeze well so if it is on sale stock up and freeze until needed.

#18.  Flour freezes well as does corn meal, and coffee.  Stock up when on sale and freeze until needed.

IF you have more hints I would love to hear them please post as comments.  I look forward to learning some new tips!!


Pizza Pockets

I used to be a Nursing Home Administrator and one of my patients families gave me their authentic Italian family cookbook titled, Mama D's Homestyle Italian Cookbook by Giovanna D'Agostino in 1972.

This recipe is my adaptation of a pizza recipe she gave.

The crust:

2 1/2 t. instant yeast
Warm water
4 C. flour
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. sugar
1/2 C. olive oil

Dissolve the yeast in 1 C. warm water.  (Be certain the water is no more than 115 degrees F.)   Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the oil.  Add  the yeast mixture and mix thoroughly.   Knead the dough until it is soft and pliable, adding more water or flour to make it smooth.  Continue kneading well until all of the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.

To test, press your fingers into the dough.  When the indentation pops back the dough is ready.  Place the bowl in a warm place and cover.  Let the dough rise until double,  about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.   Make the sauce or use one of your liking.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Punch down the dough and divide into 2 pieces.  Roll out to about 1/8" thickness on a parchment paper or form on a floured surface and slide onto a pizza stone.

Spread half of the circle,  leaving a 1/2" empty edge all around,  with sauce and desired toppings.  I use cooked and seasoned ground beef, pepperoni slices, and mozzarella cheese.   Using a teacup of water and my forefinger I wet the empty edge and fold the empty circle over the toppings.  To seal I twist the edges up and over itself applying enough pressure to seal.  Using a sharp knife point I prick a few holes across the top for steam to escape. 

Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and serve hot with your favorite green salad for a great lunch or supper.  Yield 2 large pizza pockets.

Basic Tomato Sauce:

1-29 Oz. can of plum tomato puree
1 large onion diced
1/4  C. olive oil
2 T. tomato paste
salt, sugar, pepper, oregano, minced garlic, and sweet basil to taste

Saute onion in oil and add the remaining ingredients, simmer for at least 15 minutes.


Sugar Cookies to Cut Out and Decorate for Christmas.

Our Grandson's decorating skills on display!!
This is a favorite recipe of mine as it is easy dough to work with and I love things that smell wonderful.  The hint of nutmeg in the cookie dough paired with the scent and flavor of vanilla in the frosting make a really nice cookie.

You are seeing concentration at work!!
My little 3 year old grandson's especially liked the job of helping cut out and apply the sprinkles, as did my sons when they were little, so it is a well tested, tried,  and true family project.  This frosting recipe firms up when left out to dry and that makes it nice as they stay pretty if the overlap a bit on a decorative platter.....not that they will be around long!!!!

Depending on the size of the cookie cutters you use you will yield 2 or 3 dozen cookies.

Sugar Cookies:

2 C. all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 C. butter at room temperature
3/4 C. sugar
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 egg
1 T. milk

Measure the dry ingredients and set them aside.  I just use a piece of waxed paper.   Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and add the egg, and milk blending well.

Gradually add the flour and mix until it forms a stiff dough.   Knead a time or two and form a smooth ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill the dough at least for 15 minutes.

Roll on a floured board to between 1/8" and 1/4"  thick and cut with floured cookie cutters.  Bake on an un-greased baking sheet at 375 degrees F. for 10 to 12 minutes.  The cookies should be puffed up but not brown.  You may see just barely trace of brown at the very edge.  Do not over bake.  Let cool a few minutes before removing from the pans.  Cool completely before applying the cookie frosting.


1 C. powdered sugar
1 T. soft butter
1/2 T. vanilla
1 T. heavy cream

Mix all ingredients together well. Add additional heavy cream a drop at a time until you achieve the desired consistency.  You may add a drop or two of food color if desired.

Decorate the wet cookies with sprinkles and set them out to dry completely before storing.  Have fun with these, I certainly have!!


I've been Gone!!!

Just home from a trip north and will have to really get busy with cooking, cleaning, decorating,  and Christmas Shopping.  Thought I would just say hello and thank you all for coming back to visit here.  I so appreciate you all and have missed our time. 

I got to visit my little grandsons north of Indianapolis.  We had a great time and  I will share our old family Christmas cookie recipe with you.  I made several batches of them and the twins put on the sprinkles.  The boys are 3 and all about sprinkles!!

Must unpack and get busy.  More will follow very soon.