Friday, December 29, 2017

Miscowaubik Potatoes

In 1903, the Miscowaubik Club was founded as a private club for the rich in Calumet.  Named for the Native American term for Red Metal, the Miscowaubik Club was established for "the encouragement of athletic exercise and the establishment and maintenance of places for reading rooms and social meetings."   I have visited it a few times as a guest, and enjoyed seeing Henry Ford's signature on the guest book, along with mine, which was added almost a hundred years later.   I love the stained glass in the billiard room, as well.  (see above picture).  Also, I have been informed that the urinals in the men's room in the basement are majestic marble affairs, complete with Roman columns.   Wonder if Henry used them during his visit with Firestone, Kingsford, et al?

Continuing on my quest to find the great recipes of the Upper Peninsula, I found this recipe for "Miscowaubik Potatoes" in several  of my U.P. cookbooks in  my collection.   These potatoes can still be found on the menu at the Miscowaubik Club today.   So I set out to try it....the original recipe called for boiling 12 potatoes in their jackets, peeling them and then grating them, but I think you could easily just use 3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed.  I made my version with 6 potatoes to make it "family size" instead of restaurant size.

Miscowaubik Potatoes
makes 4 servings

6 potatoes
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 small jar pimentos, chopped
1 large onions, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. paprika
1 T vegetable oil

Boil the potatoes in their jackets until tender. Cool potatoes and refrigerate for several hours or over night. Peel and grate the potatoes on the coarse side of the grater. Melt butter in a large frying pan. Add onions and cook until they are limp and translucent. Add grated potatoes, pimento, grated cheese and salt and pepper.  Add onions to the mixture and blend thoroughly. Press mixture onto a well-greased 8"x 8"  pan or small baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika. Dribble salad oil over the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 350ยบ for about 40 minutes.

They came out delicious!  Nice for a special occasion or for breakfast. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Keweenaw Style Spaghetti Sauce

Italian Hall Memorial Calumet

When I was a student at Michigan Tech, I became acquainted with the local foods, such as pasties, pannukakku  and pickled eggs.   Also, I discovered the unique style of spaghetti sauce served up there...slightly sweet and spiced differently than I had back home in the Detroit area.    In the Hancock, you can taste it at Gemignani's Restaurant, or in local grocery stores up there, you can find it on the shelves as Baroni's Spaghetti Sauce or Rudy's Spaghetti Sauce.   Consulting my collection of Upper Peninsula cookbooks, I found a common theme....the U.P. style favored warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc over garlic and long cooking times

a collector's item

Some Googling told me that carrots and celery and onion are also key ingredients.  So, I decided to give it a shot using some of the plethora of ground beef we have in our freezer.   We split a half steer with our neighbors this year, and with our empty nest, it will take us a long time to eat it all.   Most of the recipes I saw used half ground pork and half ground beef, which is also an option.

Keweenaw Style Spaghetti Sauce

2 T. olive oil
1 onion
2 carrots, peeled
2 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb.  ground beef (or 1/2 lb. ground beef and 1/2 lb. ground pork)
1 t. dried parsley
1 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. cloves
dash nutmeg
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
small can sliced mushrooms, undrained
Salt and pepper

In a Dutch oven heat olive oil.   In a food processor fitted with grating blade, grate onion, carrots and celery.   Add vegetables and garlic to pot and cook until soft.   Add ground meat and cook until brown.   Add spices and tomatoes and cook for 1-2 hours, adding water as needed.  Season with salt and pepper.    Sauce can be made in bulk and frozen.

Buon appetito

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Cowboy Caviar

As usual, Weight Watchers has tweaked their program again this year.    I'm a lifetime member so I picked up the latest program literature and found that they have reduced the total number of points you can have while allowing many high protein foods to the zero points list, like white meat chicken and turkey, fish, eggs, legumes, tofu, etc. along with the usual fruits and vegetables.     It reminded me of a recipe I once tasted called "Cowboy Caviar" which is loaded with a bunch of filling 0 point foods.    I adjusted the typical recipe to make it more WW friendly and more to my taste buds (less oil and sugar, more vinegar and chili powder.    Delicious and perfect for work lunch!  Since there is a lot of chopping involved, I like to use a food chopper to get all the vegetables uniformly small, one like this works well:

Cowboy Caviar

3 T olive oil
3 T  sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 T chili powder
1 t salt
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (11 ounce) can super sweet corn, drained
1 red onion, diced
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup chopped cilantro

In a canning jar, measure the olive oil, sugar, white wine vinegar, chili powder, and salt.  Shake to combine.  In a large bowl, add tomatoes, black-eyed peas, beans, corn, red onion, and bell peppers. Stir to combine.  Stir in cilantro.  Add dressing and stir until evenly distributed Cover and chill at least 1 hour or overnight to blend flavors. Serve chilled or at room  temperature.

Is your New Year's Resolution to try to eat more vegetables?  This recipe can help.  Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Corn Fritters

Last summer, I thought I'd like to try to make corn fritters.   I can remember thinking they were a lot of work for a weeknight dinner, and froze the leftovers individually on a cookie sheet, and then threw them in a bag.    I got them out the other night to have with some ham and they were FANTASTIC!  I forgot how good they were.   I heated them up on a cookie sheet in the oven for about 20 minutes on 350F.    I will make these every summer when the corn comes delicious.   I'll schedule making several batches on a weekend.    I found a recipe in America's Test Kitchen - modified to our taste.    Here is how I made them.   

4 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs (3 cups)
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup finely minced chives
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 t.  cayenne pepper 
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Process 1 1/2 cups corn kernels in food processor to uniformly coarse puree, 15 to 20 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl halfway through processing. Set aside.  Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups corn kernels and ⅛ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl.  Return skillet to medium heat, add corn puree, and cook, stirring frequently with heatproof spatula, until puree is consistency of thick oatmeal (puree clings to spatula rather than dripping off), about 5 minutes. Transfer puree to bowl with kernels and stir to combine. Rinse skillet and dry with paper towels.  Stir flour, 3 tablespoons chives, cornstarch, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper into corn mixture until well combined. Gently stir in egg until incorporated.  Line rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Heat remaining ½ cup oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Drop six 2-tablespoon portions batter into skillet. Press with spatula to flatten into 2 1/2- to 3-inch disks. Fry until deep golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer fritters to prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining batter.   After they cool, put them in the freezer on a cookie sheet, and then in a ziplock bag.   Take out as many as you need for  dinner. 

Great taste of summer in winter!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Mom's Tasty Flank Steak

This recipe, like so many of my favorite recipes, come from my dear friend Ann.    She was my neighbor many years ago here in Ann Arbor, and she moved to upsate NY but we still talk every day, sometimes more than once.    I don't get to see her as often as I would like.....but we  are still as close friends as ever!    Some of my favorite recipes from her include her fabulous cheese dumplings  and her mother's layered cranberry salad And let's not forget the great upstate  NY taste treat spiedies, which I would have never known about if she didn't move to Vestal, NY.      Every night, we talk about what we are making for dinner...  she is making a recipe in her Instapot that we both love,  Mississippi Roast.  Tonight, I am making her mother in law's flank steak recipe, as it is my son's favorite and he just returned home for Thanksgiving break.    It's a keeper of a recipe!  So very good.....

Mom's Tasty Flank Steak

1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. lemon juice - bottled is fine for this recipe
1 T. thyme
3 green onions, sliced

A big flank steak

Marinate the steak overnight in the refrigerator.     If you have a pressure cooker, this recipe works great in one.  Remove the flank steak, reserving marinade.  Heat some olive oil in the bottom of the cooker and brown the steak on both sides.   Add marinade, and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.   Allow to naturally cool to remove lid.    If you don't have a pressure cooker, preheat the broiler and put the steak and marinade in a 13X9 pan and broil until the steak is cooked, about 10 minutes on each side. 

Serve steak sliced on the diagonal with plenty of marinade on top of egg noodles.    Delicious!

Good friends make for good recipes......

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Detroit Style City Chicken

City Chicken is a Polish dish that we had at virtually every holiday meal when I was a kid.  I have made it several times as an adult, using recipes I found on the internet, but I'm pretty sure my mother and grandmother never used Italian seasoned breadcrumbs or, God forbid, panko.    My memory is saltine cracker crumbs.   Also, my mother seasoned all pork and chicken with was her recipe secret weapon, along with Lipton French Onion Soup mix.   Traditionally, city chicken is made with equal parts pork and veal, which was cheaper than chicken when thrifty Hamtramck ladies made it, but veal was expensive in the 1970s so my mother rarely used it.   So yesterday, as a request from a friend who was looking for a recipe for city chicken, I set out to make it like my mom would have made it.   I did skip the French Onion soup mix; instead I went for chicken stock.  My mom used French Onion Soup mix in virtually every recipe she made....from meatloaf to stuffed cabbage to chip dip when the ladies came over for a card party. 

Detroit Style City Chicken
Makes 8 sticks

3 lb pork loin, cut into 1 inch pieces (or equal parts pork and veal)
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. onion powder
1 1/2 t garlic powder
1 1/2 t sweet paprika
2 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 T milk
1 c. flour
1 c. saltine cracker crumbs (put 28 crackers in a ziplock bag and smash them with a rolling pin)
1 can chicken broth

Mix salt, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika in a large bowl.  Add meat and toss to coat thoroughly.   Thread meat onto 8 6 inch skewers.   Preheat oven to 325 F.   In a large Dutch oven, heat oil to 350 F.   While oil and oven is heating, bread meat.   Beat eggs and milk in a shallow bowl.   In a second bowl, pour flour, and a 3rd bowl, the cracker crumbs.  Dip meat sticks in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.

Once all meat is coated, brown in hot oil until golden.   Then place the skewers in a roasting pan like this

If you don't have one of these just like Babcia, you can use a 13x9 pan covered tightly with aluminum foil.  Pour half the can in chicken broth in the bottom, and bake in the oven for an hour.   Use the pan drippings mixed with a bit of flour and the remainder of your broth to make a pan gravy.    To quote Sharon Stachurski, Aux. President of the Polish Century Club in Sterling Heights, in her version of the recipe, "I usually plan on 1 for women and 2 for men…. I usually make a few extra just in case. Leftovers can be frozen for several months and reheated.   When making city chicken, I think it is better to make a large quantity and freeze some since they are so much work and mess to begin with…."  so maybe you want to make extra? Check out some other of their great Polish recipes here.

I think I will make this for Christmas.   Smaczne!  

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Delicious Glazed Nuts

It has been over 4 years since the original Selma Cafe closed.....quintessentially Ann Arbor, it was how I spent most ever Friday morning for 4 years...eating breakfast with strangers.   I made many friends at Selma, still eat breakfast on Fridays with a handful of special ones, and it was how I got the recipe for these spiced nuts.    One of the guest chefs (and often expediter) Dan Vernia was the chef for a while at an Ann Arbor restaurant called the Raven's Club, and I tasted these great nuts on a charcuterie plate he served me there once.   Sadly, it's no longer on the menu, and he no longer works there, but he gave me the recipe.

Pecan/Nut Coating

1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 t. Cholula hot sauce
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. cayenne
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1/4 t. thyme
1/3 c brown sugar
2 T. water
4 c. nuts

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Add all ingredients except nuts to a saute pan and heat until the sugar dissolved and mixture is bubbling and reduced until thick.   Add nuts and mix.   Pour nuts onto the cookie sheet and spread out evenly.   Bake for 5-10 minutes until lightly browned.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Corn Grits Corn Bread

There is winter in the air here this weekend.   It's been chilly...the last of the leaves are coming down, as is their custom, right before Halloween.   I enjoy my "empty test", but I really miss my cherubs this time of year.   When they were little, it was all costumes and candy.  When they were older, it was marching band and football and drama club.   Now, it's just my husband and I....but I still like to carve a pumpkin....

 My hubby went out to do some hunting, so I stayed in to make some chili and some cornbread.  I have some fantastic grits from Kentucky I got on a business trip and I wondered if they could be used in cornbread....the answer is they can!   This is how I did it...

Corn Grits Corn Bread

1/2 cup milk
1 Tablespoon vinegar
2 T butter
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup stone ground grits
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Optional: 3 T chopped peppers, hot or sweet

Mix milk and vinegar, set aside until thickened.  Place butter in  8 inch cast iron skillet in an oven set to 425F to preheat.  Mix all dry ingredients in a bow with a whisk, in another bowl, mix  egg, veg oil and milk mixture.  Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until combined.   Add peppers and stir.  Pour into hot skillet and bake for 15 minutes.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Apple Slab Pie

I asked my husband to bring home a small bag of apples from his friend at work who owns a small orchard near us called Frosty Apple Orchard.   He brought home a half bushel of Liberty apples!  I ended up making a traditional pie, and I canned some apple sauce, and I made a slab pie for him to take to work.  I hadn't cooked with Liberty apples before, but I liked the pink sauce it made.   The apple was tart, too, which I like for pie.

Slab pie was a thing a few years ago, with everyone from Martha Stewart to Cooks Illustrated to Food 52 writing about them, but since they are so big and there's just the 2 of us at home now, I didn't think I'd ever need to make one.   However, they are perfect for potlucks and feeding a crowd, so I thought I'd try my hand at one.    I had recently heard a podcast featuring Dorie Greenspan and she said that she always uses a food processor to make pie crust and rolls it between 2 sheets of parchment paper and chills it, so I wanted to give this method a try. Making a slab pie requires 1 1/2 the amount of crust than a round pie.....the crust to filling ratio is much higher than a typical pie.   If you are a "crust person", this is the pie for you!

Slab Pie Crust (food processor)

2 1/4 c. butter (very cold)
1/2 c shortening (very cold)
4.5 c.  flour
1.5 t. kosher salt
1.5 T sugar
3/4 c. cold water

Cut up butter and shortening into 1/2 inch cubes, and return to the fridge.  Put the flour. salt and sugar in the bowl of the food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse a couple times to mix it together.   Add the fat and pulse about 10 times, until the mixture is about pea sized.   Don't go too far!  With the machine running, pour the cold water in slowly until the dough starts to form a ball.

Cut out 4 pieces of parchment paper an inch bigger around the size of a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet.  Divide the dough into 16 balls and press it out with your fingers on to a piece of the the dough across the rectangle with 2 rows of 4 blobs.   Over with the other sheet and roll out dough to the edges of the paper.   Do the same with the remaining dough.  Put both sheets on the jelly roll pan and put in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

While the  dough is chilling, make the filling.

Slab Pie Filling

10 c. peeled and sliced apples
Juice of one lemon
3/4 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch
2 t. apple pie spice
1/4 t. kosher salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until apple slices are coated evenly.

To assemble pie.....

Remove dough from fridge and fit one crust in the jelly roll pan.  Fill with apple mixture, and then top with other crust and crimp.  Slice some vent holes in the top.  Brush with an egg wash made with one egg beaten with a tablespoon or so of water.

Bake in a 375 F oven for 40-45 minutes, or until crust is brown.

Many recipes for slab pie also include a glaze, which is optional. I'd like to try this one next time

Maple Glaze
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
enough milk or heavy cream to thin (a couple teaspoons)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Cowboy Candy

Last year, I came across a pickle I wanted to try called "Cowboy Candy".....a sweet hot jalapeno pickle.   I never got around to it last year, but this season, I noticed some new fb friends Libby and Liz that I met through the Michigan Tech Parents facebook group were both making some, so it inspired me to try my hand at it.   I found a farmer with lots of jalapenos, well priced, at the Ypsilanti Farmer's Market, so I picked up a bunch to add to what I was already growing in my patio garden.

I started googling around for recipes and noticed that most had a huge amount of sugar in them, so I decided to develop my own recipe with less.    I also didn't want to add too much seasoning to distract from the popular recipe included celery seed, which I thought would be too overpowering.   I did like the addition of turmeric; it gave the peppers great color

Cowboy Candy
makes about 6 half pints

3 pounds fresh firm, jalapeno peppers, washed
2 cups cider vinegar
4 cups white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon turmeric
12 cloves garlic, peeled

Wearing gloves, remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers.  Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. Set aside. In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading into clean, hot canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the upper rim of the jar. Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil.

Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new, two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.

If you have leftover syrup, you could can it in half-pint or pint jars, too. I used mine to marinate some pork chops.  Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

These pickles are great out of the jar and not very spicy.  The sugar tempers the bite.   They are great on sandwiches or served over cream cheese as an appetizer.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Canning at the Chelsea Fair

I have never entered anything in a canning contest at a fair, but I decided this year I would give it a try at the Chelsea Fair.    It is held each August in the next town over, Chelsea.  Here's how I did:

First place
Corn Relish (I was the only entrant!)

Second Place
Salsa #5 - very proud of this as there were 9 entries
Bruschetta in a Jar 
Pickled Cauliflower   from Linda Ziedrich's Joy of Pickling, one of my favorite canning books
Mustard Beans
Stewed Rhubarb

Third Place
Rhubarb Jam - this recipe without the Earl Grey tea

Fourth Place
Pickled Asparagus  from the University of Georgia's Center for Home Food Preservation.   One day I will visit that place in person!  I often find myself in Athens, GA for work.

I was surprised that pickled asparagus came in 4th, I thought it looked the best.   This type of canning contest is really a beauty contest, they don't taste the entrants.    When we used to have the Classic Michigan State Fair (RIP), they tasted them.    Probably a better way to do it!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Home Made Gnocchi

It's rare that an Italian restaurant is my first choice when dining out....mostly because Italian food is so easy to make at home.    That being said, I have never made my favorite pasta, gnocchi, at home from scratch.  Instead, I always end up buying that overpriced vacuum sealed product at the grocery store for $4.   My Italian friend Patty said she made hers from scratch, so I decided I'd give it a shot.

I googled around for some recipes, and I really liked the basic ones that included just 3 ingredients: potato, all purpose flour, and an egg.   I was curious about how to form the gnocchi with the ridges in it......but it was super easy!  Just roll it down the tines of a fork with your thumb smushing it down....
I quickly got my gnocchi formed and it was ready to cook in boiling salted water:

I'm at our lakehouse on the Keweenaw this week, so I made a pasta sauce from scratch with the great UP favorite Italian sausage cudighi, but any Italian sausage would be great.   This serves 4 people.

Cudighi Sauce

1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced small
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1 lb.  cudighi or Italian sausage
1 large can (29 oz) tomato sauce
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 T chopped fresh basil

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat and add onion and pepper, saute until soft.  Add sausage and brown until cooked through.   Add tomato products and simmer on low.

While the sauce is cooking, make the gnocchi.   Super easy!

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 c. all purpose flour
1 egg

Cook potatoes in salted water until soft.   Drain and mash in a medium mixing bowl.   Add flour and egg and stir until well combined.   Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth.    Divide into 6 pieces and roll out into 1/2 inch thick snakes, just like you did as a kid with Play Dough.   Cut each snake into 1/2 inch pieces.   Roll the pieces down a fork like shown in the video above.  At this point, you can freeze them on a baking sheet, or cook them in a large pot of boiling salted water, a half batch at a time.   Boil them until they float, and then strain them out of the water and put them in the sauce.    If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta water to it to thin it.  Plate gnocchi and garnish with basil.

It really didn't take much time at all to make this.....about an hour, start to finish.  And the texture is so much better than the plastic pouch gnocchi.  

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Copper Country Strawberry Festival Muffins

We are always glad to be in the Keweenaw for strawberry season.   There is something about the hard winters and late springs up here that make for really outstanding strawberries.   I have fond memories of strawberry shortcake and margaritas made with the local ones.   This year, I made 12 half pint jars of jam using my outdoor canning rig.

I still had lots of berries to use up, so I tried a variation of a recipe I once made for blueberry lemon ricotta pound cake.   I updated it to use whole wheat flour and strawberries, and I baked it in a muffin tin.   Fantastic!  And good for you, too.

Strawberry Lemon Whole Wheat Muffins
makes 1 dozen

¾ cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons lemon zest
4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
2 tablespoons packed confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl  until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Beat in ricotta, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and vanilla until just combined. Sprinkle flour on top, then evenly sprinkle baking powder and salt over the flour. Beat until almost combined. Add berries and gently fold into the batter. Transfer to the prepared muffin pans, filling cups to the top.  Bake the muffins until starting to brown around the edges and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about  25 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, remove from pan.   Clean the bowl, add confectioners' sugar and whisk in the remaining lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle the the glaze on the muffins.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lemonade Icebox Pie

I've been very busy this month of June, and I just realized I needed to make a pie for Liz, the highest bidder at my church's silent auction for my Pie of The Month.   I make a home made pie for 10 months each year, and deliver it to the winner's home.   Since I am out of town this weekend and next, I had to make a weeknight delivery.   I needed something quick and also I wanted something light and refreshing, so I turned to Southern cuisine.

I've never tried to make an icebox pie, which is a refrigerated (or frozen) creamy pie, but a recipe caught my eye for lemonade flavored one.   I was a little put off by the use of sweetened condensed milk, lemonade concentrate and Cool Whip as I don't usually use convenience foods ingredients, but I figured the southern belles knew what they were talking about, so I went with it!  I made my own graham cracker crust, at least, instead of the premade one called out in the original.


1 1/4 cups Keebler® Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted

In small bowl stir together crumbs and sugar. Add margarine or butter. Toss until combined.  In 9-inch pie plate evenly spread crumb mixture. Press onto bottom and sides of pie plate. Bake at 375°F for 6 to 8 minutes or until light brown. Cool

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup thawed lemonade concentrate
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
Lemon, for garnish

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and milk until smooth. Beat in lemonade concentrate. Fold in whipped topping . Pour into crust. Cover and refrigerate until set.  Garnish with lemon

This pie was delicious!  Perfect for a hot summer day....both rich tasting and light at the same time.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Pickled Shrimp

I spend a lot of my work time in the south these days, which has enhanced my appreciation of southern food.   I think I really got interested in it when I read the Lee brothers epic cookbook Southern Cuisine, and now wherever my business travel takes me, I am always wandering around bookstores looking at local cookbooks to add to my collection.    It was courtesy of the aforementioned Brothers Lee that I first heard of pickled shrimp, and I had it bookmarked in my brain to try for a while now.   The other day a recipe from Cook's Country popped up in my feed that I was inspired to try out, with my own adaptations.   I like my food a bit spicier than they do!

I liked the taste of the coriander seeds they suggested.   I didn't have any lemons or dill so I skipped it, and I reduced the oil and used a heavier hand with the hot pepper flakes.   Here's how I made it:

Pickled Shrimp

2 pounds extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
8 cups Ice
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 T red pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 T capers
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup thinly sliced red onion

Combine 4 cups cold water, shrimp, and 2 teaspoons salt in Dutch oven. Set pot over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until water registers 170 degrees and shrimp are just beginning to turn pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit until shrimp are completely pink and firm, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir ice into pot and let shrimp cool completely, about 5 minutes. Drain shrimp in colander. Combine vinegar, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, allspice, coriander seeds, and pepper flakes in large bowl and microwave until hot, about 2 minutes. Stir to dissolve sugar. Let cool completely. Whisk in oil, capers, mustard,  hot sauce, Worcestershire, and 1 teaspoon salt until combined. Stir onion, and shrimp into vinegar mixture until thoroughly combined. Push to submerge shrimp in marinade, then place small plate on top to keep submerged. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for at least 3 hours or up to 48 hours. To serve, remove shrimp from marinade using slotted spoon.

I really loved how this came out!  We ate it for supper with garlic bread, but it would make a great party appetizer/

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Upper Peninsula Books

Here's a list of books about the Upper Peninsula or set in the UP.   I haven't read all of these, but I compiled them from our MTU Parents facebook group suggestions
Gertie Johnson Mystery Book Series by Deb Baker is set in Escanaba...."laugh out loud funny"
Gathering Prey by John Sanford.  This book in the thriller series is set in the UP
The Sweater Letter by Dave Distal.  True crime book set in the UP.
The Worth Series by Mara Jacobs.  Romances set in the Keweenaw.  You'll immediately recognize the setting....The Ambassador is called the "Commodore" for example
Joseph Heywood Woods Cop series mysteries about a conservation officer Grady Service set in the UP.  Also Red Jacket, a historical thriller set in the Keweenaw
Wolf's Mouth by John Smolens a thrilling story of good versus evil: part Upper Peninsula woods adventure, part rags-to-riches tale, part love story.
Y is For Yooper by Scott Reddinger.   An ABC book for people of all ages
South of Superior by Ellen Airgood.  Heartwarming novel set in Grand Marais
The Way North:  Collected Upper Peninsula New Works edited by Ron Riekki. Poetry, fiction, and non-fiction from memorable, varied voices that are writing from and about Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Also check out Here: Women's Writing on the Upper Peninsula.
Anatomy of Murder  by Robert Traver.   This courtroom drama set near Marquette was made into a movie starring James Stewart.   Traver was the pen name of John D. Voelker, a Michigan Supreme Court Justice.  He wrote many books under that name, often about courtroom dramas, or fly fishing, or both! Check out Trout Madness
Many books by arguably Michigan's most famous author, Jim Harrison are set in the UP.   He lived near Grand Marais for many years before moving to Montana.   Check out his novella series Brown Dog
Death at the Lighthouse: A Grand Island Riddle by Loren Graham.  True crime story set in the UP.   Also check out his book A Face in the Rock: The Tale of the Grand Island Chippewa
MTU Grad Tom Maringer wrote A Superior State of Affairs, a futuristic state of affairs that is set in Houghton/Hancock area. 
Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton part of the Alex McNight series is a thriller set in the Keweenaw and features MTU students as characters.
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdich is a historical children's book set in the UP about life as a Native American
Snow Country by Kristin Neva.   A Christian romance set in Copper Island (aka the part of the Keweenaw north of the lift bridge)
Wall of Silver by Richard Kellogg.  Suspense treasure hunting story set in the Keweenaw
Sweet Girl by Travis Mulhauser is a novel set in the UP, one of Michigan's Notable books of 2017
Nevada Barr's Superior Death and Winter Study part of the Anna Pigeon series of mystery thrillers.
Nonfiction books about the Keweenaw's mining history by MTU professor Larry Lankton 
So Cold a Sky: Upper Peninsula Weather Stories by meteorologist Karl Bohnak, Check out the chapter on MTU alumni's favorite weather story about Thanksgiving Drive '85
My Brother's Mountain by John Timmerman,  Middle school level historical fiction novel about the C&H strike in Calumet 
Rock Down, Coal Up by Chuck Pomazai. History of the Quincy and Torch Lake railroad
Boom Copper by Angus Murdoch. Vintage classic book about Keweenaw Copper Mining
Mine Towns by MTU professor Alison Hoagland about the area's copper mining towns
Any of the books about the UP by local writer Lon Emerick
Is This an Agate? by Susan Robinson.   A must for Lake Superior rock hounds
Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Copper Harbor  coffee table books featuring beautiful photography by Steve Brimm
Yankee Yooper on the Keweenaw by Phillip J Howard Enjoy the adventures of a surgeon working and exploring the land around the lake, the Keweenaw, the Copper Country history, the Okibwa and Chippewa Indians, and more.

Michigan's Columbus by Steve Lehto.   Biography of Douglass Houghton

   Time By Moments Steals Away by Robert Root. 1848 jounral of Rugh Douglas, who lived on Isle Royale

   Diaries of an Isle Royale Fisherman by Elling Heglem Journal written about his live in the 1910s on Isle Royale.

   Naked in the Stream: Isle Royale Stories by Vic Foerster.  After thirty years worth of visits to Isle Royale National Park, Foerster records his experiences in this narrative. Funny and poignant, riveting and heart thumping, these true stories entertain and inform the reader

  The Wolves of Isle Royale: A Broken Balance by Rolf Peterson Fascinating first-hand account of the relationship that exists between the wolf and the moose on the island.

  A View from Wolf's Eye by Carolyn Peterson Her reflections of spending 30+ summers on the island. 

  Spaghetti on Mondays by Tom Flaminio (MTU grad), about their family of 10 kids growing up in Iron Mountain.

  Copper Country Journal: The Diary of Schoolmaster Henry Hobart, 1863-1864 Read about some of the people buried in the old hidden Cliff Mine cemetery and then walk out in the woods and find the specific grave. Really makes the history feel real.

  Local history booklets by Clarence Monette

  The Page One mystery series by Nancy Barr are set in the western UP

   Drummond Girls by Mardi Link, a notable Michigan author.   This memoir is about the exploits of her BFFs on the island.

    Dandelion Cottage by Carol Rankin.  First published in 1904 children's novel. She first wrote the story for her own children, based in Marquette

   Lake Superior Journal by Jim Marshall  Essays about the Big Lake

   Island Life: An Isle Royale Nature Guide by Ted Gostomski and Janet Marr

   Strangers and Sojourners: A History of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula by Arthur W. Thurner

   Lake Superior Profiles : People on the Big Lake by John Gagnon

Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway

Women of the Copper Country Maria Doria Russell historical fiction set in the copper mining era

Michigan vs. The Boys by Carrie S. Allen YA novel set in Houghton/Hancock

North to Iron Country by Janie Lynn Panagopoulos. children's adventure books

Nancy Barr Page One Series is written by a MTU Alum and Professor

Isle Royale by John Hamilton

The Sweater Letter by Lynn and Dave Distel

Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hull


Monday, May 08, 2017

Signs and Seasons

"Uh oh....Venus in Pisces....not a pretty sight!" sighed Margaret, one of my college friends who was consulting her astrological charts regarding my love life.  "What does that mean?" I asked.  "Venus in Pisces means you will forever be unlucky in love" she said, shaking her head.  "The best thing you can do is look for a Gemini or another Aquarius and see if that works", she proclaimed with a sad finality.   I wondered how I could have such a bad prognosis when we were supposedly living in the Age of Aquarius.....  and I am an Aquarius...isn't that supposed to be good?

Flash forward 30 years later, and I do think I was lucky in love, as I've been married to the same man for almost 25 years. Perhaps it worked out because he is another Aquarius, like Margaret suggested?  Otherwise, I haven't paid much attention to my astrology, but I was intrigued when the good people at Harper Collins asked me to review a new cookbook they sent to me, Signs and Seasons.

I had my family over for dinner yesterday, and consulted the book to determine what I should make.   The recipes are organized by star sign (seasonally) which is fine, but I wasn't sure if I was supposed to make Aquarian recipes because that's what I am, or Taurus recipes because we are in Taurus right now.   My daughter, currently pursuing a BFA, noted that the artwork is beautiful in this book.  Indeed, one of the authors, Amy Zerner is an award winning artist.  The recipes looked promising, they are written by John Okas, a personal chef in the Hamptons.  I saw a recipe for peas, but forgot to mark the page, and couldn't find it later.  I checked the index under "peas" and it wasn't there.   The book needs a better index.   I was trying to remember if  I was looking in the Taurus section, so I looked up "Taurus" in the index and there was nothing there! No listing at all for Taurus.  I looked in Aquarius....nothing there either.  I wondered if my confusion must be happening because Mercury is in retrograde.   Finally,  I started paging through the book and eventually found the recipe I was for "snap peas" .   And it was in Gemini, not in Taurus!  Oh well.

I didn't have any snap peas, but I made this recipe instead with green peas, and everyone loved it.  Here's how I did it:

Sesame Green Peas

3 T sesame oil
1 lb frozen peas
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T sesame seeds
2 T soy sauce

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and when hot, add peas, garlic and sesame seeds and stir fry until pease are hot, about 5 minutes.  Dress with soy sauce.

Since I'm not seriously into astrology, I don't think I can comment much on the writing.   The artwork in the book is lovely and the recipes look promising    I wish the book had a better index and food photography.    I think this book would make a great gift for a person that is really into their star sign.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Tart Lemon Cake with Fresh Lemon Frosting

I have been a part of a great online community on facebook called Michigan Tech Parents because my son is a student there.  Everyone is so supportive and I have made some new friends on the list.   Last weekend, the students came home for the summer, and parents were talking about the food they were planning on making.   One mom said she was making a lemon cake and I adore lemon, so I asked her for the recipe.   She kindly posted pictures of her handwritten recipe for me to try.  It was delicious.   I tweaked a few things, and here is how I did it:

Tart Lemon Cake

1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 c. granulated sugar
4 c. all purpose flour
1.5 t. baking soda
1 t. granulated salt
6 lemons
4 eggs
1 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.   In another bowl, mix together the flour, salt and soda with a fork.  Using a lemon zester (I love my Microplane) zest the lemons until you have 4 tablespoons. then juice the lemons.   I like to use a lemon squeezer for should have 1/2 cup.   If not, add water to make a half cup.   Divide the zest and juice in half and reserve the remaining for the frosting.     In a small bowl. whisk the eggs until the whites and yolks are well mixed, add 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 T. zest and the milk and mix well.  

Add half the dry mixture and half the liquid to the the mixer bowl with the creamed sugar and butter, and mix well.  Scrape down the sides and add remaining dry mixture and and lquid.   Mix until well incorporated.   The mixture will be thick.  

Grease and flour 2 9" cake pans.  Using a spatula, divide the batter into both pans and vigorously tap the pans on the counter until level.   Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack 15 minutes, then remove from pans and continue cooling on wire rack.

Fresh Lemon Frosting
(you will need to make 2 batches)

2/3 c. softened butter
9 c. powdered sugar
half of reserved lemon juice mixture
half of the reserved lemon zest
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 c. milk (approximately)

In a stand mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar.   Add lemon juice and zest and mix until creamy.  Add enough milk to make a softer icing for piping,   Make up second batch.  Frost using a Wilton 1M tip as described in my other blog post.   It really is pretty easy.....I'm not a great cake decorator but the big tip doesn't require much precision.

I really liked this recipe....I think next time I make it, I'll make it with the cream cheese frosting in my other post.   Thank you fellow MTU parent Cindy for the inspiration!  My family loved this cake.  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rhubarb Custard Pie

This is my second year of donating a "Pie of the Month" to my church's annual silent auction.   For this month,  I tried a new recipe for rhubarb custard pie.   I really enjoyed Beth Howard's book Making Piece: love, life and pie and her cookbook Ms. American Pie.   I've always fantasized about opening some kind of pie emporium like Linda Hundt and her Sweetie-Licious Pie Cafe in DeWitt.  But the fact is, when I retire, I really don't want to be responsible for anything.   Making a pie once a month is good enough for me.  

I'm usually a rhubarb strawberry in my rhubarb, thanks.   But Beth Howard's rhubarb custard pie sounded really good to me today, so I made 2 for us and one for the  Pie of the Month Club winner Liz.   Here's how I made it:

Rhubarb Custard Pie

For the crust:  one double crust Vodka Pie Crust recipe

For the filling

1.5 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
1 t cinnamon
3 eggs
5 cups (or thereabouts) fresh rhubarb, chopped in 1/4 inch slices

1 beaten egg, to brush on top of crust

Prepare the pie crust.  To make the filling, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon in a large bowl.   Beat eggs and mix with dry ingredients.  Add rhubarb and pour into crush.  Cover with top crust and brush with beaten egg.   Bake at 425F for 20 minutes and then turn down temp to 375 and bake for 30 minutes longer.   

Happy spring!  Enjoy!!!