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My Grandma passed away at the age of 94. She was a wonderful cook and I was lucky enough to inherit her recipes. Many date back to the 1940s and 50s. Grandma prepared them in a charming country kitchen with no running water and most of her produce came from her garden, not from the grocery store. These are made-from-scratch recipes. I wish I had spent more time with her in the kitchen and . . . I wish I had spent more time with her for so many other reasons.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tomato Soup

August always finds me with an abundance of tomatoes, so why not make tomato soup?  I love a great bowl of tomato soup with an ooey gooey grilled cheese sandwich.

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 cup carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 jars of canned crushed tomatoes or 2 cans (28 oz) of crushed tomatoes
3 1/2 cup vegetable broth (see yesterday's recipe)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4 drops hot pepper sauce

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Saute onion and garlic until onion is tender.

Add carrot and celery; cook 7 - 9 minutes until tender, stirring frequently.  Stir in tomatoes, broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme, pepper and hot pepper sauce.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

There is nothing better than homemade!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vegetable Stock

Vegetable Stock was a staple in Grandma's cooking.  She was a believer of adding flavor to her cooking in any way possible.  Nothing from her garden went to waste.  Her vegetable stock was made from 8 cups of water with onion, garlic, celery, carrot, cabbage, potato and tomato pieces thrown in for flavor.  She would add a Bay Leaf and allow this to boil for at least 30 minutes.  Once the stock cooled, she would strain it through cheese cloth to remove veggie bits.

The stock would be frozen in 4 cup batches to be used in recipes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Peach Bars

This is a perfect dessert to help you use up the abundance of summer peaches you have.

5 cups peeled and sliced peaches
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup butter (melted)

In a large mixing bowl, lightly toss peaches with brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon and arrange in an 11 x 7 baking dish.

To prepare topping:  In a mixing bowl, sift the first five topping ingredients together; add egg and mix with a fork until mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle over peach mixture, drizzle melted butter evenly over topping.  Bake at 375 degrees for 55 minutes or until peaches are soft and topping is golden brown.  Cut in squares and serve warm or cool.

Grandma's Clam Chowder

1/2 stick butter
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced leeks
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup flour
8 cups milk
2 cups clams in juice
2 cups diced potatoes
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 tsp dried Thyme
1 cup heavy cream

In a soup pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, leeks and garlic.  Saute for 3 minutes, mixing often.  Remove from heat and add flour, mixing well.

Add milk and whisk vigorously.

Drain clams and add juice to soup.  Slowly bring to a boil, mixing often.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  Add potatoes and seasonings, simmer 10 minutes.

Add clams and simmer 5 - 8 minutes.  Finish with heavy cream.  Serve.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Karan's AARP Create The Good Event Update

Today was a great day for our "AARP Create the Good" event. Loomis Bros. Equipment Company was officially our first donor. What a great start they've given us! Thanks also to Dale and Elaine Loomis for a personal donation. Food for Less called to tell me they have a donation waiting, and Russell's Cafe & Bakery in Fenton has offered pastries to provide to our volunteers on Saturday, September 10th. I will meet with Mary at Feed My People tomorrow to discuss the logistics of the event. I'm really feeling enthusiastic about the amount of fresh produce we'll be able to provide to the hungry families in our community. Please spread the word to your friends and family who may be interested in participating in this worthwhile event with a donation of time or money.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Garden Macaroni (Pasta) Salad

1 lb Macaroni (I use bow tie pasta)
1 Tbsp salt
2 cups broccoli (cut into bite size pieces)
1 red onion (sliced really thin)
2 cups cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
1 cup of your favorite Italian salad dressing
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (grated)

Bring a 4 quart saucepan of water plus the salt to a boil.  Add macaroni and cook for 6 minutes.  Add broccoli and cook for three more minutes.

Drain well.  Place in a large serving bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients except the cheese.  Mix well.

Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.  Sprinkle with cheese just before serving.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Grandma's Chocolate Syrup

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt

Combine cocoa, sugar, and salt in a saucepan.  Add water and mix until smooth.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Allow it to boil for one minute.  Do not let this boil over.  Remove from heat.  When mixture cools add the vanilla.

Great served over ice cream.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Volunteer Your Time for my AARP Create the Good House Party

I'm reaching out to all of my blog friends to ask you to participate in my AARP Create the Good House Party. A couple of months ago I submitted an idea for a "party" to be held the weekend of September 11th.  This "party" isn't really a party, it's a community event.  It's my plan to contact local businesses to solicit donations to purchase fresh produce.  We'll then work with a local food pantry to distribute the produce to families who are in need of food.  The food pantries are a good source of boxed and canned food, but the produce is certainly not fresh.  I'll do the leg work to solicit donations, but I'm asking you to offer your time on Saturday, September 10th beginning at 1:00 pm to help distribute the food - and possibly some other items.  (I had an offer of blankets tonight.  Most donations will not be turned down.)

Please contact me via e-mail if you're able to donate your time, money or items for this event, or if you have a suggestion of who I might contact to request a donation.  I'm hoping for an event that will bring welcome relief to those in need, and a sense of satisfaction to those who participate.  AARP has committed to providing a goody package for the event to help make it a success.  Won't you help too?  It's a great way to give back and make our country a better place.  Let's help make the USA a country that makes sure her citizens don't go hungry.

Contact me at keplen@charter.net.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Double Orange Carrots

4 cups water
10 medium carrots (peeled and sliced diagonally)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup orange juice
4 Tbsp butter

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil.  Add carrots and cook until just tender.  Drain, set aside and cover to keep warm.  

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger and orange juice.  Stir constantly until mixture thickens.  Raise heat and boil 1 minute longer.  Stir in butter; pour over hot carrots, toss thoroughly and serve.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Raspberry Lemonade

Looking for a great picnic beverage idea?  Or, just an old-fashioned way to serve a refreshing beverage at your next outdoor gathering?  Give this Raspberry Lemonade a try and serve it in Mason jars.

For every three servings, combine the following::

1 (8 oz) container of fresh raspberries
6 - 8 lemons
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar

Squeeze lemons into a large bowl, extracting as much juice as you can.  Add the water and sugar and whisk to help the sugar dissolve.  Taste and adjust sugar to your preference.

Put the raspberries in a food processor or blender and pulse until pureed.  Press through a fine-mesh sieve and into the bowl or pitcher.  Stir to combine, then pour the mixture over ice in three Mason jars.  Seal with lids and pack in your picnic basket.  Store leftovers in a pitcher in the fridge.