Saturday, February 07, 2015

Laura Ingalls Wilder style Maple Syrup Snow Candy



Today is the 148th anniversary of Laura Ingalls Wilder's birth.  When I was a young girl, I read all of the Little House books so often, the covers fell off.   I can still quote from them by chapter and verse like a good Baptist quoting the Bible.  I can still remember their hog butchering party where Laura burnt her tongue on the sizzling swine tail and she and Mary played with the pig's bladder blown up like a balloon.   One of my fondest memories is that of the maple sugaring off in the Big Woods, where Ma had the girls gather up pan fulls of snow to make maple candy.  To celebrate Laura's birthday as well as the warmish day we are having here today, I decided to give it a shot myself.

First, I filled a cake pan with some snow and packed it down....


I left it on the grill to stay cold while I heated a half cup of maple syrup (the real deal) to the "soft ball stage" i.e. 235 F...


Then, I stirred it quickly to get the bubbles out and poured it on the snow...


It was delicious - like a soft taffy.  The teenagers loved it too...I wish I would have tried making it when they were younger.   It has to be ate right away or it will dissolve in the melted snow.   Happy Birthday Laura!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chicken Mushroom Pot Pie

I've been traveling often for work, which means I can't cook dinner for my family.    So, I've been trying to come up with things I can make ahead.   I had read that pot pie was good to make ahead and freeze, so I gave it a shot.   I didn't freeze this batch as the guys will bake them for their supper tonight, and save the little ones for lunches later this week while I am gone.




I cooked the filling first, and then topped it with my Old Reliable Pie Crust: I halved the recipe and made it with half shortening and half butter because that's what I had.   Here's how I made the filling:

Chicken Mushroom Pot Pie filling

2 T butter
1 med onion, diced
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 lb chicken breast or chicken tenders, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 t. dried thyme
1 can low sodium chicken broth
2 t. flour
1 c. frozen peas
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg, well beaten

In a dutch oven, melt the butter and add the onions and mushrooms, and saute until soft.   Add chicken carrots celery and thyme and broth and cook on medium until carrots are soft and chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.   Add flour to a measuring cup and enough water to make a slurry, add to chicken mixture and cook on high until thickened.   Taste and adjust seasonings.   Add frozen peas and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, make the crust.    Ladle chicken into oven safe bowls, top with pie crust.  Poke holes in the top.   Brush with beaten egg.   Wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze.

To cook, preheat oven to 350F .  Unwrap pot pies and place on a baking sheet.   Bake for 1 hour, or until; crust is browned and filling is bubbling.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015 Pierogi Festival

Diane, Cindy, Vera, Ellen and Jen


We decided to get together today to make some pierogi....I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, but we had a blast....all together it took about 2 hours, plus some wine drinking time at the end to let the pierogi chill outside.    Here's how we did it:\....we made about 8 batches which yielded about 200 pierogi total

For each batch
Pierogi dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup potato water*

To make the dough, add the dry goods to the bowl of a food processor, then add the egg and the sour cream and give it a couple pulses.  Then, with the processor running, slowly add enough potato water to form a ball....about 1/2 to 3/4 cup.  If it's too sticky, add some flour until you have a smooth ball.

Filling for 8 batches....cheese and potato and onion & kraut and onion and bacon

The filling base:
1 lb bacon, diced
2 lb onion, diced

Brown bacon in a large dutch oven until lightly browned.   Pour half into a large skillet.   In the skillet, saute onions until soft.

For the kraut filling:

In the dutch oven, add

2 (32 oz) bags sauerkraut, drained
about  1/4 of the sauteed onions

Cook for about 30 minutes.


For the potato/cheese/onion filling

10 large potatoes, diced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
remaining sauteed onions
salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until soft...drain, but save the potato water* to make the dough.  Mash potatoes with a potato masher.  Let cool.   Add cheese, onions, and salt and pepper to taste.


To make pierogi:

Roll out dough as thin as possible, and cut out with a 3 inch diameter round cutter.   Fill with a spoonful of kraut filling -OR- a 1 inch ball of potato filling.   Pinch in a half moon.   If it is cold out, put the pierogi out on the back deck to freeze and then bag them by the dozen in your freezer.   If not, freeze separately on a cookie sheet and do the same.

To cook....boil a pot of water and add frozen pierogi.   Boil until they float, drain.   Brown pierogi in bacon fat or butter with sauteed onions.   Serve with sour cream.


I noticed that the frozen pierogi at Meijer cost over $5 for 8 (about 62 cents each)  ....it cost us $40 to make about 200 of them (about 20 cents each).   I think ours are better....we definitely had more fun making them.