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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Chile Con Carne

When Mom’s kids start getting married, the natural thing to do was to collect family recipes.  I’m sure that chili was something Mom hadn’t really been familiar with until then. It definitely wasn’t out of the German culture or the meat and potatoes farm culture either. Here are two chili recipes: one probably came from the Drover’s Telegram and the other was from the Strunk family and Betty copied it into the cookbook for Mom.

Chile Con Carne
This recipe comes from the test kitchens of the United States Department of Agriculture.

4 tablespoons bacon drippings
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 pound ground beef
4 cups cooked kidney or pinto beans
2/3 cup minced green pepper
4 to 5 cups cooked or canned tomatoes
2 bah leaves, crushed
4 teaspoons sugar
About 2 tablespoons chili powder
Salt and pepper

Brown onion and garlic in drippings.  Add meat and cook slowly a few minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add remaining ingredients.  Season.  Simmer until meat is tender and flavors are blended, about 1 hour.

(Vera Strunk)

2 pkg. hamburger
2 cans tomatoes
3 onions – sliced
1 can Red Kidney Beans (18₵)
4 Bay Leaves
2 Tbsp. Chili powder
1 tsp. Black pepper
1/2 tsp. Caraway seed
Salt to taste
(Add tallow if hamburger is quite lean)

Mix above ingredients and cook ’til done.  Serve with crackers.

There were tabs in Mom’s cookbook but by now the original text on them has faded.  Looks like Betty hand wrote “Chili” in pencil so we could find this recipe easier… if anyone using the book would do such a sensible thing.  Doesn’t everyone just page through their favorite cookbook until they find the recipe they’re looking for?  

What words do you think these tabs originally had on them?


Chicken Salad

Yum!  I just had chicken salad for lunch.  This article is more like a discussion about it.  This lady was making a lot of chicken salad in her batches.  Also, I find it interesting that the dressing is called just “boiled dressing”.  Probably you wouldn’t actually buy mayonnaise if you were a thrifty person, and possibly “Miracle Whip” wasn’t on the market yet.

Then another subject that was brought up not too long ago was chicken salad, I believe.  It you really want to make a little chicken go a long way, as for a church supper or some occasion when chicken is scarce or high, you can add a good many ingredients and still call it chicken salad.

For Instance:  Boil a six pound chicken till tender, cut the meat into small pieces,

Measure and use an equal amount each of diced boiled potatoes and celery
6  hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 large onion, cut fine
3 cupfuls of sweet pickles, cut fine, and
4 pimentos cut fine.

Fold some whipped cream into your favorite boiled salad dressing and mix with the chicken mixture.  This is all the better if it is kept in the refrigerator a couple of hours before serving.  Used this way, one six-ounce fowl will make 36 servings.

But if you are not aiming to make the chicken go as far as all that, I like to use with the meat from a six pound chicken:

2 cups of cooked peas
2 cups diced celery, and
1 cup nut meats

I like a boiled dressing with chicken salad, and prefer to make my own, and then mix it with some whipped cream.  You can grind the chicken through a coarse plate, but I prefer just to cut it up pretty small.

I make the dressing of

2 eggs or 4 egg yolks beaten with
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
6 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of liquor from cooking the chicken, and
1 tablespoonful flour,

Cooked together till done.

And then sometimes I just mix the chicken meat with celery, half as much celery as meat, that is, if I take 2 cups diced celery and 1 cup nut chopped celery, and season with salt and mix with the salad dressing.  (I think there’s a typo here, don’t you?  I think they mean 2 cups diced chicken to 1 cup chopped celery)

Once I made some very pretty salads for an afternoon party by using this sort of chicken salad and cranberry sauce.  I sliced the sauce and made sort of a sandwich, one slice under and one slice over the chicken salad.  at that time I just used the sauce plain but I thought afterward that you could cut it into hearts for Valentine’s day or into turkey shapes for Thanksgiving, or just use a scalloped cooky cutter for the fun of it.

Here’s how I make chicken salad.  We baked a whole chicken earlier in the week and ate the legs, thighs and wings mostly.  It was a good size chicken, but probably not 6 pounds.  We had all the white meat left over.  I cut that up into cubes.  I added about 1/2 cup chopped celery and 3/4 cup of grapes. I had about a half cup of English Walnuts begging to be used, so I added them to the salad. I put in about 1/4 cup mayonnaise and half a container (3 oz. maybe) of plain Greek yogurt.  I sprinkled salt, pepper and sugar over it the way I do for tuna salad and potato salad generally. Mixed it all up and chilled.  As I said in the beginning….Yum!

Jiffy Spaghetti

Now, you have to understand that Mom didn’t like tomato-y things.  But she must have tried to like it.  There are several spaghetti recipes in the cookbook.  Well maybe she thought this one might work because the meat called for in it is ham…..but, I’m wondering if a 12-ounce can of table-ready meat is really Spam…….?

Jiffy Spaghetti
(Household Recipe)

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 cups cubed ham or table-ready meat (12-ounce can)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 14 cups condensed tomato soup (10 1/2 ounce can)
3/4 cup water
4 ounces long spaghetti
Grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter or margarine in skillet.  Add onion, green pepper and garlic and brown lightly.  Add meat and brown.  Sir in brown sugar, vinegar and mustard.  Add tomato soup and water, mixing well.l  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.  While meat mixture simmers, cook spaghetti in boiling salted water until tender (about 12 minutes).  Drain and rinse.  Arrange spaghetti on hot platter or chop plate and top with meat sauce.  Sprinkle generously with Parmesan Cheese.

German Handwriting

I saw a newspaper article today written by a local writer about schools questioning the usefulness of cursive writing. With the availability of computers today, does it make any sense to teach cursive writing?  The advantage of cursive writing, in the past, was that it was much faster than printing and was more useful when trying to record anything.  Well, I grew up with a mother whose handwriting was in the German tradition and I had a hard time reading it.  When I went away to college Mom wrote me letters, usually the front and back of a tablet page, but it was difficult to read it.  Usually I got the drift of what she meant from context, but German handwriting is “pointy”, not round like American handwriting.  I don’t think my Dad ever ventured much further than writing his signature, although I’m sure he was able to read the American newspaper and such.  My Mom was an avid reader, so she had many books around.  Dad, not so much.  

Well, here is an exercise for anyone out there to help me with.  The cookbook has a section that is devoted to making a good Torte.  Undoubtedly those were from my Uncle Aloys, the baker.  The scans attached to this blogpost appear before that Torte section.  I’m tempted to think that these are menus of some sort, but I am willing to consider anyone else’s opinions about what they say.  If you have an idea, please post what you think as a comment.

























Streussel Coffee Cake

I don’t remember Mom making coffee cake.  Probably the first time I had it was in Home Ec class in high school.  I guess an appropriate time to have coffee cake would have been about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  More often than not, Mom and Dad stopped to have coffee and maybe some boughten sugar cookies.  I enjoyed joining them, although my coffee had more sugar and milk in it than coffee.

Coffee Cake

Dear Hope: Struessel  Coffee Cake

Three-quarter cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or oleo
1 1/2 cups flour
1 egg, well beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift dry ingredients together, cut in shortening, until like corn meal.  Add milk and eggs.  Pour one-half the batter in pan, cover with one-half of filling, then the rest of the batter, finish with the other half of filling on top.

Streussel filling

One-half cup brown sugar
1/2 cup nuts
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon.

Mix all together and use as directed.—Just Ester, Iowa


Anything “new” is intriquing……what’s it all about?  Can I get one?  Can I do it?  Ooooooooo…….That was my Mom!  She wasn’t really one to treasure something antique.  I think she viewed it as “used”, so therefore anything “new” was better.  I sure got that from her.  Luckily I married someone who is that way too.  So, here we have a “new” way to make a cake.  I remember Mom often making a 12-egg angel food cake and chiffon cakes, too, for that matter…..but maybe that was about using up the eggs.  

I wasn’t quite sure about the length of time to bake the cake, but after Googling “Harry Baker” and “Orange Chiffon Cake”, I settled on 35 minutes.  Personally I like the recipe that said “or golden brown”.

From Maine to California, from Texas to North Dakota, housewives are talking excitedly about the “first really new cake in 100 years” __the Orange Chiffon cake.  A whopping $5,000 was paid to its creator, Harry Baker of Los Angeles, Calif., by General Mills  just for the privilege of letting their food specialist, Betty Crocker, watchh him mix a batter.  Since 1927, Baker has been baking cakes for Hollywood’s elite, but jealously guarded the secret ingredient of his cake by destroying empty cans.  The “surprise” ingredient was cooking salad oil — which is a liquid fat.  The cake itself, new in taste, new in texture, is an elegant cross between a feather light angel food and a rich butter cake — and is as good as its Betty Crocker advertisements promise.  And to heap still more praise, it’s “beginner-easy” to make.  This is how it’s done:

To serve 16 to 20 persons, use a 10-inch tube pan, 4 inches deep.l  Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. (slow, moderate). Sift an ample amount of cake flour onto a square of paper.

Step 1:  Measure in level measurements and sift together into mixing bowl–

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (spoon lightly into cup, don’t pack)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons double-action baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Make a well and add in order–

1/2 cup cooking salad oil
5 unbeaten egg yolks (medium-sized)
grated rind of 2 oranges (about 2 tablespoons)
juice of 2 medium-sized oranges plus water to make 3/4 cup.  Beat with spoon until smooth.

Step 2:  Measure into large mixing bowl__

1 cup egg whites (7 or 8 eggs)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Whip until whites form very stiff peaks.  They should be much stiffer than for angel food or meringue.

Step 3:  Pour egg yolk mixture gradually over whipped egg whites — gently folding with rubber scraper just until blended.  Do not stir.  Pour into ungreased 10-inch tube pan immediately.  Bake 35 minutes in slow moderate oven — 325 degrees F.  Immediately turn pan upside down, placing tube part over neck of funnel or bottle.  Let hand, free of table, until cold.  Loosen from sides and tube with spatula.  Turn pan over and hit sharply on table to loosen.

For 8 to 10 servings, use a 8 or 9-inch square cake, and bake in a moderate  (350 degrees F.) oven.  The smaller orange chiffon cake is made the same way — just halve all the ingredients.

Aunt Aggie’s White Cake

My sister-in-law, Kathy, made the best white cake. Kathy is married to my oldest brother Ralph, who is 16 years older than I am.  Kathy and her siblings lost both parents at a young age.  She and a couple of them came to live in Blaine, out in the country with an older couple, Romie and Agnes Pendergast,  who were somewhat disabled.  I guess kids were seen as good company and help. This recipe comes from “Aunt Aggie” and it is written in Kathy’s handwriting.  This cake was the one her kids always requested for birthdays and special occasions.

I can’t help thinking that because the instructions say “beat hard”, there probably wasn’t any electric mixer or maybe not even an egg beater involved.  I believe that when Kathy and Ralph came back to the farm after his service in Korea, they lived on the “Pendergast Place”, the home where she lived with Aunt Aggie.  Did they even have electricity?  I don’t think so!  I can’t say that I’ve ever made this recipe.  Guess I’ll need to put that on my “to do” list!

Aunt Aggie’s White Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (or 1 stick oleo)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup cold water
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar.  Add flour and water alternately.  Then beat hard.

Add stiffly beaten egg whites in which salt and baking powder have been added.  Add vanilla and bake at 350⁰ for 30 minutes.


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