Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rosie the Riveter

Yesterday, I was proud to be a part of 778 women who dressed up like Rosie the Riveter to set a work world record as part of an effort to save the Ypsilanti bomber plant.  
Me and my friends Ellen and Laurie

While I was there, I saw the Norman Rockwell picture of Rosie the Riveter and I fell in love with it....

It was a play on Michaelangelo's Isaiah, and it depicted a very strong woman eating her bologna sandwich for lunch and resting her feet on Mein Kampf.   I read that food was a big part of the real life Rosies, many of which were at the event.   And why not?  Several years ago, I visited a shock absorber plant for work in the middle of Nebraska, and the plant employed many farmer's wives.   They put together a cookbook for their 35th anniversary of the plant, and many of the ladies had crock pots bubbling away at their work stations, making lunch to share.   They gave me a copy of their cookbook, which has plenty of hearty down home recipes in it, including copper penny carrots, which is a carrot salad dressed with a local favorite salad dressing that is simply called "Dorothy Lynch".   When you go to a restaurant in Nebraska and order a salad, they will ask you what kind of dressing you want ....they have the usual suspects like Italian, Ranch, etc., but they also have "Dorothy Lynch".    I had to try it and it is delicious!  It's like French dressing with a kick. I understand there really was a Dorothy Lynch. In the late 1940s, Dorothy and her husband ran the restaurant at the local Legion Club in St. Paul, Nebraska. s the Legion Club members were introduced to this delicious recipe, the legend of Dorothy Lynch began to grow and the dressing fast became a "must-have" favorite. Stories of local people bringing their own bottle or jug to town to have it filled with "that delicious Dorothy Lynch salad dressing" were quite common. It's now made commercially, but I've never seen it for sale here in Michigan.  

Don't be put off by the fact that it's got canned tomato soup in it, it is really good.

Dorothy Lynch Dressing

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix tomato soup, vegetable oil, sugar, vinegar, dry mustard, salt, celery seeds, black pepper, and garlic powder in a large jar with a lid and shake...serve immediately or refrigerate overnight for best flavor.  To make the carrot salad:

Copper Penny Salad

2 lbs carrots, peeled, cooked whole and cooled, then sliced thin into coins
1 small green pepper diced
2 medium sized onions, sliced thin

Mix vegetables together, and dress with Dorothy Lynch dressing.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Seed starting update....

Munstead lavender

I started this lavender on March 16; it's only been a couple weeks and it has germinated. It is  supposed to take 15-20 days, but I had some that had germinated as early as last weekend.

tithonia on the left , salpiglossis on the right
The Mexican sunflowers (thithonia) are really going strong...sure hope I didn't start them too early.  They are supposed to germinate in 7-21 days.   The Painted Glass (Salpiglossis) aren't doing anything yet.  They are supposed to germinate in 10-15 days.   I started these last weekend.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seed starting update

a lavender labyrinth
I was surprised to find that some of my lavender seeds have germinated already. They are supposed to take 21 days!   I had started them last weekend and I am giving them 18 hours of light, and I have a warming mat under them.   I sprayed them with mist but think they were getting a little dry, so I actually used the watering can a little, too.

Today, I started some Mexican Sunflowers and some Salpiglossis a.k.a. Painted Tongue.  I think the Fedco Seeds were not a good value for the money.   I got very few in each pack and they were kind of spendy.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

And so it begins

I started 2 types of lavender seeds....I definitely got more seed for my money from Johnny's than I did from Fedco.   Lavender is supposed to take a long time to germinate.    I have some echinacea seeds and some tithonia I will start in the coming weeks.   Two of my 3 shelves in my grow light stands will be devoted to flowers this year.   The last one for tomatoes.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Triple Ginger Cookies

It's a lovely sunny day today...39 degrees and I've got spring fever.   I've bought my seed starting supplies, and after this very long winter, my mind is all about gardening.   I can't wait to plant moonflower and Mexican sunflower again, and I've got 3 kinds of blight resistant tomatoes recommended by Mother Earth News.  But the fact is that it's going to be below zero again on Monday....spring fever notwithstanding.

I know this time of year, we want to think of spring foods - I saw asparagus for sale at the supermarket.   But for a moment, consider ginger cookies.  Yes, I know they sound like Christmas cookies, but ginger cookies will warm you up right now.   These cookies, which I first heard about on The Splendid Table, are wonderful.    I made them last fall in the shape of footballs and piped some stitching on them for a tailgate party,  but they are great just the way they are.

Triple Ginger Cookies
makes about 30 cookies

3/4 c butter
1 c packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 c molasses
2 1/4 c flour
2 t ground ginger
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 T minced fresh ginger root
1/2 c chopped crystallized ginger

In a mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and brown sugar together. Beat in the egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ground ginger, baking soda and salt. Stir into the molasses mixture. Add the fresh and crystallized gingers. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Shape the dough into 1" balls and place about 2" apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and cool on wire racks. These cookies freeze well.

These cookies will sooth your winter weary soul!  They would be outstanding also made into a tropical ice cream sandwich with a scoop of coconut ice cream.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

Which ones have you read of Amazon's list 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime?

Here's the ones I have read:

To Kill a Mockingbird - I read it first in 7th grade and again several times as an adult.  If you haven't read it again, do it now.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl - I read it in 5th or 6th grade, need to reread it again
1984 -  I think 11th grade.  It's scary how much of this became true.
Charlotte's Web - I've read it more times than I can count.  My favorite childhood book; neither of my kids were interested in reading it.
Gone with the Wind - Just as good as the movie
Animal Farm - read it either before or after 1984....4 legs good, 2 legs bad!
The Catcher in the Rye - freshman year of college...I read every depressing coming of age book in existence.   This is the top of the heap.
The Help - Really?  Hardly a classic.  I read this for book club.  It's okay, but it didn't rock my world, except for I still want to make a caramel cake.
The Grapes of Wrath - like many people, I was forced to read it in high school, but was glad I did.
Hamlet - doesn't everyone have to read this in high school?   I went on a major Shakespeare binge after reading it and also took Shakespeare in college.
Of Mice and Men - another forced read in high school, I thought it was great and I finally got the Bugs Bunny cartoon based on the characters.
The Secret Garden - Loved, loved, loved this book as a girl!
Romeo and Juliet - see other comments about W.S.
The Handmaid's Tale - another depressing book about the future....I read it when I was a senior in high school, pretty much coincidentally with.....Brave New World
Wuthering Heights - too bad high school kids don't read this one any more like I had to...It's creepy!
Macbeth - considering my Shakespeare fetish, you would think I'd have loved the movie "Shakespeare in Love".  I did not.
The Fault in Our Stars - a modern book, destined to be a classic.  I loved it.
In Cold Blood - I couldn't put it down when I read it.   Fascinating!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - my 2nd favorite book as a kid, next to Charlotte's Web.  Pure genius.
The Scarlet Letter - I forced read in high school, now kids don't read it.  How will they catch the reference when people say "the scarlet letter"?
Water for Elephants - a ladies book club favorite; it's better than "The Help"
The Raven - glad a poem made the list
The Time Traveler's Wife - I don't really like fantasy books, this one included
The Odyssey - high school again! I haven't read it since but have seen "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" a million times
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - well written and very interesting
The Glass Castle: A Memoir - Excellent book!  Surprised to see it here.
Beloved - a book club read....I highly recommend it.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Orange Kiss Me Cake

The winter weather is wearing everyone down.   I tried this cake after reading about it in Cook's Country's just what this winter needs.   The scouts in my troop said that it tastes just like Fruit Loops....and it does!  It's delicious.

Orange Kiss Me Cake

2 large navel oranges
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup golden raisins
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 by 9-inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Grate 1/2 teaspoon zest from 1 orange into small bowl. Remove three 2-inch strips zest from same orange with vegetable peeler; set aside. Halve zested orange and squeeze juice into liquid measuring cup. Discard spent halves. Halve and squeeze second orange into same measuring cup, removing any seeds. Set aside spent second orange halves for cake batter.

Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda together in bowl. Pulse 1 cup sugar and walnuts in food processor until walnuts are coarsely ground, about 10 pulses. Transfer 1/3 cup walnut mixture to bowl with grated zest, add cinnamon, and stir to combine; set aside.

Add raisins and reserved spent orange halves to remaining walnut mixture in food processor and process until paste forms, about 30 seconds. Add butter and process until combined, about 10 seconds. Add milk and eggs and process until combined, about 10 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture and pulse until just combined, about 5 pulses.  Pour batter into prepared dish and smooth top with rubber spatula. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating dish halfway through baking.

Meanwhile, combine reserved orange zest strips, orange juice, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in small saucepan. Bring to strong simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and cook until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, 8 to 12 minutes; discard zest strips.

Immediately after removing cake from oven, drizzle with orange syrup, spreading evenly with rubber spatula. Let cake sit for 5 minutes to absorb syrup, then sprinkle with walnut-zest mixture. Let cake cool completely in dish on wire rack.

Kilwin's Style Fudge

One of the great things about Ann Arbor is that it caters to tourists.   And because we are in Michigan, of course we have to have a fudge shop.   Originally part of the Mackinac Island experience, most tourist attractions in our state feature a fudge shop.  I am glad we have a Kilwin's Chocolate Shop here in A2 - they make great fudge and also they are the only place around that sells my favorite old fashioned candy of all time, sea foam.

When I get a hankering for fudge, I make it at home.  If you have a candy thermometer (a must for this recipe) it's simple to make and much less expensive ($2/lb vs $17/lb storebought).  And the aroma is of fudge making is an added side benefit.   I made a batch last night and the teenagers were lured away from their video games like the Pied Piper.   "What are you making, Mom???"  Fudge doesn't take a lot of work, but it does take patience.   However, it's great to make when it is cold outside - I put the pot on the back step to let it cool down and it only took about 20 minutes instead of the usual hour.

Kilwin's Style Old Time Fudge
Makes about 1 lb

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
Half bar of Ghirardelli 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate
1 T. light corn syrup
2 T. butter
1 t. vanilla

Line a loaf pan with foil and butter the foil.   Butter the sides of a large saucepan - it helps keep the fudge from crystallizing on the edges which makes for gritty fudge.  Combine milk, sugar, chocolate and corn syrup (another trick to help prevent crystallization is adding corn syrup).   Cook and stir over medium high heat to boiling.  Insert the candy thermometer and cook and stir using a wooden spoon over medium low heat until it reaches 234 F - it will take about 20 minutes.  Remove the saucepan from the heat, remove the wooden spoon, and add the butter and vanilla.  DON'T STIR IT IN.  Stirring might start crystals forming.  Cool, without stirring, until the temperature is 110 F.   This will take almost an hour or so.

Remove the thermometer and using the wooden spoon, beat the fudge until it begins to thicken.  At this point, a 1/2 cup nuts could be added.   I think roasted black walnuts would be heavenly.   Or marshmallows, like the Wellesley girls.   Continue beating until the fudge gets very thick and loses it's gloss....about 10 minutes.  Spread the fudge in the foil lined pan while it is still warm.  Allow to cool and eat.

Speaking of candy making, I recently received a review copy of an outstanding candy making cookbook, The Sweet Book of Candy Making by Elizabeth LaBau and I am totally loving this book.  It demystifies making candy at home and also is among the first modern day candy making books I've seen.  My cookbook collection's candy is section is made up of entirely books published in the 1950s.   I can't wait to try out some of the recipes in this book - I'll be sure to write about them here.   It's time we all started making candy at home again!