Sunday, August 19, 2012

Taste of Home Magazine - Then and Now

I picked up a vintage Taste of Home cookbook at the Dexter Daze Library Book Sale, and I am so glad.   I just love the old Taste of Home Magazine - when it was founded back in 1993, it was full of folksy witticisms like "My Moms Best Meal" and "Hail, Hail the Gang's All Here" for when you are looking for a recipe that would feed 100 people.  It was the kind of recipes Grandma used to make.   I'm not sure when the magazine changed to it's current format, which is very commercially oriented with tons of product placements,  but it has certainly lost its soul.  The closest thing you can get to it is a Penzey's Catalog, which tells the stories of it's recipe authors.  So whenever I can find an old TOH cookbook, I pick it up.  And this book is from it's inaugural year, 1993.  

Some of the recipes I have bookmarked for trying include:

Upside Down Apple Gingerbread - sounds delicious for fall
Sloppy Joes for 100 - between football and Boy Scouts, I know this is going to come in handy.
Southern Fried Baked Steak - something new to do with round steak
Spicy Rice Casserole - I've got lots of pork sausage in the freezer; I bought half a hog from the neighbor kid.
Cajun Corn Soup sounds like it would be a great pantry meal
Scotch Broth Soup - something I can make with all my soup bones.  I just bought a side of beef.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ann Arbor Old German Restaurant Potato Salad

Ann Arbor has been home to several German restaurants - most notably Metzgers, the Heidelberg and the Old German.   The only one that remains as it once was is the Heidelberg - the other two were victims of the sky high rent in downtown Ann Arbor.   Metzgers closed and reinvented itself in a strip mall halfway on the freeway between Ann Arbor and Dexter, and the Old German became Grizzly Peak Brewery.    However, many Ann Arbor townies fondly remember the Old German as their favorite. And a favorite dish from the Old German is the kartoffel salat, or potato salad.    A party store in town still makes it for sale in their cooler.  

I wrote a post a couple years back about the demise of the Ann Arbor News Food Section, and their wonderful "Kitchen Mailbox" feature. Readers could write in and ask for their favorite recipe from local restaurants.   I could never find a recipe for the Old German Potato Salad in the Ann Arbor News, but they often featured other recipes from the German restaurants.   A reader of my blog posted in the comments of my blog post about how much they wanted the Old German Potato Salad recipe.   So I went on a quest to find it.....and I finally did!

About 12 years ago, a waitress from the Old German self published a recipe book of restaurant favorites., and I finally laid my hands on a copy of it.   I found the recipe for the famous potato salad and there's really nothing to it - I improved upon it here because the one on the book is a little vague and made it a little tangier....the  vinegar to oil ratio was a bit too lackluster for my taste.

Old German Potato Salad

8 medium potatoes, unpeeled and whole
1/4 c sliced white onion (thinner is better - use a mandoline or food processor if you have one)
3 T. vegetable oil
1/4 c cider vinegar
3 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 can chicken broth

Cook potatoes whole until just tender.   After they have cooled enough to handle, peel and slice potatoes about 1/4 inch thick.  In another bowl, mix together remaining ingredients and pour over potato slices.  Let stand for 30 minutes until serving and stir gently - serve at room temperature.  Refrigerate any leftovers. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Corn Flan with Onions and Bacon

It's been a rough year for corn....I think it has rained twice the whole summer.   Driving past the farmer's fields, the field corn looks all withered and dry.  We had a drenching rain here for the past few days, however.  I hope it helped the farmers but I am afraid it might be too little, too late.  The sweet corn has been wonderful, however.    I found this recipe in one of my garage sale cookbook finds this summer - Celebrating the Midwestern Table by Abby Mandel.   Abby suggests serving this dish when whole ears may be too awkward to handle.  I think it makes a great breakfast dish.   I can make it the night before and bake it in the oven the next morning.  I think the cookbook author made this recipe a bit too complicated and dirties too many dishes, so I simplified it here.   Hope you like it!

Corn Flan with Onions and Bacon
printer friendly

2 slices bacon, diced
1 large sweet onion, minced
4 large ears of corn, kernels cut off
2 eggs
1/3 c milk
1/4 t nutmeg
salt and pepper

In a large cast iron frying pan,  fry bacon until crisp.  Remove from pan, and cook onion until soft.   Whisk eggs and milk and seasoning, stir in corn.  Pour into the frying pan with the onions, and top with bacon.   Bake in a 325 F oven for 40 minutes, or until egg is set.   The center should not jiggle if you shake it.  

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Ask Moms Kitchen: Best BBQ sauce for canning

A reader writes:

I have never canned anything that wasn't a tested recipe, but I have read that you can't can pumpkin puree because of the density, and on here you mentioned pH as one of your indicators on whether or not you could can your bbq sauce. Other than pH and density, what other factors are there in determining whether something is safe to can or not? The reason I ask is that you stated that the woodchick recipe had a pH of 3.8, so I'm wondering why you didn't just can it as is? on Can Jam Aliums: Barbecue Sauce

That is an excellent question!   For those that might not have read my original post, I was trying to come up with a  safe canning recipe for a favorite barbecue sauce we like.  I started out using a canning safe recipe that was similar and tweaked it to get to my recipe.  The original recipe of the sauce contained some ingredients I didn't want to use.  Why not just can it as it is?  As the reader noted, I had tested the pH of the original recipe and it was 3.8, which is well below what's needed to safely can something in a boiling water bath recipe.  The first issue with the original recipe is that it has butter in it.  The USDA doesn't recommend using butter in canning recipes because it can interfere with the sealing process of the jar lid.   Also, I was developing a recipe that I could use fresh tomatoes and costs less than a jar of BBQ sauce you can buy at the store - so I didn't want to use store bought tomato sauce, ketchup or chili sauce.  So when I created my recipe, I used the elements of those items in my ingredients.   For example, I used the things I'd use in a canning recipe for ketchup instead of the ketchup itself, like cloves, and I bumped up the sugar.  The original recipe has such a small amount of chili sauce that I didn't try to duplicate that, but I used hot chili powder instead of mild.  Also, I used real garlic instead of garlic powder.

When I developed that recipe, it was in the middle of winter, so I used canned tomato puree to test it.  I noticed that when I used fresh tomato puree in the summer, the end product came out more watery than the original when I canned it.  I think I probably didn't cook the tomato/onion mixture down long enough or the end product long enough.   I find coring and peeling tomatoes a tedious, labor intensive task, so this year, I plan on employing a technique I learned about in Linda Ziedrich's excellent book Joy of Pickling to make a thick tomato puree without a lot of boiling.   Today looks like it might be an excellent day for canning - the sky is overcast and I am hoping it will rain.  I might pick up some tomatoes at my friend Ann's farm stand on the way home from church to make this year's batch of BBQ sauce. 

Vintage Detroit - D.M. Ferry seed package
Woodchick Style Barbecue Sauce for Canning - 2012 Edition
Makes about 10 half pint jars

10 lb fresh Roma tomatoes (or any other good paste tomato)
5.5 c. finely chopped onions
6 c. white vinegar
3.5 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. dry mustard
1 T. black peppercorns, tied in a cloth bag
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T. paprika
1/2 c. maple syrup
3/4 c. honey
1 T. ground cloves
2 T. canning salt
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. hot chili powder
2 T. allspice

In a large kettle, drop tomatoes one by one, giving each a squeeze to release some of the seed and liquid. Boil tomatoes gently until they soften.   Our the contents of the kettle into a strainer set over a large bowl.   Let the tomatoes drain a bit.  (helpful hint - don't throw out the makes an excellent beverage or consomme).  Using a food mill, strain the tomatoes to form a puree.   You can use a Foley food mill, but I use my food strainer attachment on my beloved Kitchen Aid mixer for this task.

In a large stock pot, combine the tomato puree and onions and bring to a boil, boil gently for 30 minutes until onions soften, about 30 minutes.  Using a stick blender puree the mixture until smooth, and then return it to the pot and reduce heat and boil gently until mixture is reduced by half., about 45 minutes    Add remaining ingredients and increase heat to medium and boil gently, stir frequently until the mixture is thickened to the consistency of a thin store bought sauce, about an hour or so. Prepare the canner and lids, and then ladle hot sauce into jars, removing bubbles and leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Process for 35 minutes.