Friday, November 28, 2014

Blueberry Boy-Bait actually works!

A while ago, I saw a recipe for something called Blueberry Boy Bait. Always willing to perform social experimentation, it was perfect.

Blueberry Boy Bait
 2 c flour
1½ sugar
⅔ c butter or margarine
2 eggs, separated
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c milk
1 c drained blueberries (fresh, canned, or frozen)*

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. (For this recipe, you'll want to grease the pan and dust it with flour even if you usually don't do both; the cake seems to really want to stick.)
Mix the sugar and flour together. Cut in the butter until it looks mealy. Set aside ¾ packed cups of this for crumb topping.
To the rest, add the baking powder and egg yolks. Then stir in the milk, a spoonful or so at a time, mixing each addition in thoroughly. If you add the milk all at once, you'll just end up with lumps of stuff swimming in milk that never quite mix together. As the mixture gets runny, you can add the milk more freely.
Beat the egg whites until stiff but not quite dry. Stir a spoonful or two in, then fold in the rest. Pour into the pan, tilting as needed to spread. Arrange the blueberries on top.
Bake 40-50 minutes. Serve cold with whipped cream as a dessert, or warm as a coffee cake.

*If using frozen, do not thaw. They'll make the cake go bluish-green, and also be messy to add.

Incidental note for those interested in the socio-culinary effects of industrialization: Rarely do I ever see a recipe call for butter in thirds of a cup. If it's not just a spoonful or two, it's in half or quarter cups, which is sticks and half-sticks. So we've subtly altered our recipe amounts to fit the way butter is packaged. Or it may well be the other way around- most of the really old recipes call for butter in quarters of a pound (which is the weight of one modern-day stick). Whichever came first, butter is rarely measured by the third.

Anyway, this recipe comes to us from the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off, where it placed second in the youth division. Apparently the girl that sent it in, one Remy Powell, named it for its singlehood-curing powers.
In a fit of absentmindedness, I melted the two thirds of butter the first time I made it. The cake came out fine anyway.

Proving that few things make even the most kitchen-averse people dust off the inside of their ovens quite so well as the prospect of boys, this recipe has been reposted and reposted over and over again. As you do when cooking, a lot of people altered it to fit. You can kind of track the changes. At some point, people got fed up with this beating and folding egg whites business. Later, the crumb topping got replaced with cinnamon sugar. However, it seems even the modern-day versions work. I tried the recipe on Cook's Country (found by way of Mid-Century Menu). Even though I found it a bit bland, it seemed to bespell my now-ex. I should have known we were through when it turned out he had the gluten problems.
Is that butter and sugar or heart attacks and diabetes?

Anyway, having melted the butter, I added the sugar and once it was mixed, the flour. Had they both gone in at once, there'd have been flour lumps and therefore no boys five minutes after they tasted it.
Not gonna lie, it already smelled good.

And then, we at A Book of Cookrye had a massive bowl of crumb topping, of which a little was saved as per instructions and... er... a teeny amount was tasted.

What does it say about me that so far my recipe book is more colorful than the cup of stuff from said recipe?

Anyway, this is where we at A Book of Cookrye get thankful people have left things downstairs in the kitchen. We had a rice cooker to hold the crumb topping and a little bowl to crack the egg whites into.

We also were about to use milk for this, but guess what was in the refrigerator with no name on it?
This is actual name-brand stuff and it had been there for some time.

As I've said before, unlabeled food is not just an established convention; the kitchen rules sign says "UNLABELED FOOD IS CONSIDERED FAIR GAME FOR EVERYBODY!!!" (their caps and triple exclamation points). So I figured why not? It might add a lovely taste to the cake.

I call this sneaking the liquid in. It's like the stiff dough in the bowl really doesn't want to become a batter. So you have to put in a tiny splash or so, which soaks into one or two lumps that then mix in with the rest when you stir. The rest of the dough doesn't realize any liquid has been added so it doesn't mind. Then you add a little more and get away with it (add too much at once and the lumps will hold fast together against the onslaught they're swimming in), and so on until...

And when it's gotten runny enough, you can dump in the rest of the milk because the lumps have given up.

At this point, I was really hoping that whatever boys this brought would offer to clean my dishes. I'd gotten out three bowls (well, two and a pot) for this.
I had nothing else to beat egg whites in.
Anyway, the batter tasted divoon. I promise that it really did go into the pan that thin, and it had nothing to do with generous taste-testing (one can't be sure enough).

Putting on all those blueberries (when they're this far out of season, I've found frozen ones are better than fresh) made it look like this might live up to its name.

Emptying the rice cooker of topping made it look even more so.

Around when this was due out of the oven, I simultaneously became unnerved and excited. Boys were indeed drifting kitchenward.
I think I know why.
And by the time it was cool enough to slice, it had demonstrated its power. The kitchen was literally crowded with people, very few of them female, who wanted a piece or seconds. Everyone, go ahead and make this, it really works (also, the almond milk is delicious in it). No, no, you can thank me later.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from A Book of Cookrye!

And if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving (or if your country has it on a different day), have a happy Thursday! And remember, even though you bought the foil pans with the plastic covers....

 ...they may have mispackaged them and you'll have to force two top halves to stay closed together.

The covers popped off so easily I should have taped all three.

Happy Thanksgiving, and don't forget duct tape!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving is this week!

I don't know about you, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. All of my relatives get together, and all you need to do is bring food. It's the last day before Christm-- er, The Holiday Shopping Season officially begins, although I saw displays going up in stores months ago. You'd think no one ever went to a store for any reason but to shop for Christm--- er, Holiday, the stores depend on it so. (Although if you're going to depend on Christmas, is it really so hard to name it rather than calling it The Holiday? And don't try to tell me they're being inclusive of other religions. They may have a token menorah and Kwanzaa candleholder buried in the back, but its all Santa Clauses plus some nativities to pretend they're being pious.)
Anyway, I thought I'd list the things I think would be good to bring for Thanksgiving for whosoever would like to get ideas. Plus, since they're from someone who's always broke, nothing here'll set you back all that much!

As for me, I'm about to make a lot of pies.
Anyway, for who might soever still seek recipes and ideas for this Thanksgiving (or might be planning Christmas already), here are some more ideas!

After all the gut-bombing cream sauces and butter, this'll be really nice to have on the table for everyone. It's light in calories without being punitively healthy. I'm probably going to make this a lot over the next month or so.

You promised to bring something and still have no idea what. Buy some egg noodles and some shredded cheese, and you've got yourself covered.
 I admit it's not what we usually have in my family, but that's because it is generally 5 or so Kraft boxes which are then put in a pan and briefly introduced into the oven.
This recipe is just two ingredients, and everyone will be so amazed because it's real cheese! 

Super easy, and you can pretend for a moment you're being healthy.

It's just as easy as the corn syrup version, and so much better! 

A dessert recipe from a Louisiana Junior League cookbook. You'd have a hard time coming up with something better.

You know, after all the heavy desserts on top of heavy foods, these light airy things may be just perfect. If you have a stand mixer, they're not much work. If you have a hand mixer, you'll burn off any calories you'd get eating them.

Lacks in presentation, but is really tasty. Rolls are going to seriously be on sale anyway. Throw this together before you get dressed to leave, and it'll be out of the oven about when you need to head out the door.

It's like making cookies, but you just put the dough into one pan instead of pulling batch after batch of cookies out of the oven. Also, I've made these a few times since and people always like them a lot. Plus, they have no butter so they'll be easy on people who just had a massive dinner.

Rich, dark, and delicious. Also a cinch. There's a reason someone wrote this one down in the back of a cookbook.

Short on ingredients, easy, tasty, and you get to add random colors to make them look snazzy!

Have you ever had blondies? If you haven't, they're like brownies but brown sugar-y and butterscotch-y. These are basically blondies in cookie form, meaning you can just set them on a plate and not have to worry about serving utensils. Also, since it's icebox cookie dough, you can mix it a couple of days ahead and bake it right before Thanksgiving so they're fresh!

Little individual honey pies? Awesomeness!

Everyone I know likes peanut butter cookies, yet these hardly ever show up at Thanksgiving. Why not be the one who brings them? (If you really feel like going all-out, make them on a waffle iron and then have them hot with ice cream on top!)

This is easy and everyone likes it. The rye-honey crust adds a really nice kick to it, but it's also really good with a plain crust.

Photo source: Caker Cooking
Chess Pie
The Pieathlon may have yielded me, to put it graciously, an unforgettable experience, but the one I submitted (which Brian of Caker Cooking made) was a delicious one which I've made every year. Do try it!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! If you don't celebrate it, or if you celebrate it on a different day (Hi, Canada!), then have a good Thursday!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mexican Cornbread, or How long have those vegetables been back there?

Today, we at A Book of Cookrye are pleased to announce that we have more fridge space! However, we didn't want to throw out any of the iffy vegetables. Therefore, especially since as Thanksgiving and Christmas come around with leftovers, we are quite pleased to present...

Mexican Cornbread
2 c cornmeal
1 c flour
1 tsp salt
Sugar to taste
1 can creamed corn
2 eggs
Milk (we used ¼ c + 2 tbsp)
3 tbsp oil or shortening
   Filling (adjust to whatever's lurking in your refrigerator):
About 1 lb. ground meat (we used half beef and half breakfast sausage)
¾ c shredded or finely cut cheese (we used half cheddar and half pepper jack)
1 or 2 bell peppers
1 onion
1 jalapeƱo
Chopped cilantro
Other vegetables that are good on tacos

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a skillet or 9x13 pan.
For the batter: Stir in all the solid ingredients. Add the eggs and corn and beat well. Add milk until until it's just thin enough to pour into a pan without too much spreading, then add the oil. Set aside.
Chop the vegetables. Cook them with the meat, or saute them with a little oil if your meat is already cooked. Remove from heat and stir ½ cup cheese and the cilantro. Add salt and seasonings to taste.
Pour half the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the filling on it, then spread the rest of the batter on top.
Take a table knife (or just use the spoon you mixed the batter with) to cut lines through the batter about ¾-1 inch apart. Then cut through perpendicular to the first lines. This is to mix it enough to hold together, but not so much that you lose the layers.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake until a knife in the center comes out with no liquid batter (ours took 45 minutes).

*You can use whatever recipe or cornbread mix you like (doubling the recipe if it makes a square pan's worth). I think this is a lot better if you add creamed corn to the batter and then add milk until it is the right thickness.

Is it really Mexican? Probably not. However, does it matter?
So... yellow...

I got the recipe (well, the basic idea anyway) from one of my aunts. If one day you crack open your refrigerator and find you have some leafy greens that are yellowing and wilting, bell peppers going kinda squishy, or anything else that's kinda soft and iffy looking but has yet to actually grow fur...

You can just dump them in this!
...along with the extra meat from taco night.
We ended up with twice as much meat stuff as would fit in the pan, so we froze half of it.

It's not like dividing it in half made for skimpy portions. Check out the meat-cornbread ratio here.

It was actually kind of tricky to spread it out over everything, but that just means this'll be really good.

So after mixing it...

cheesing the top...

and leaving it to bake, we can face the fact that we are very messy cooks.

But this is good enough that it doesn't matter. I don't care that it's only tenuously connected to actual Mexican food, that it's overwhelmingly yellow, or any of that. It leaves you sated.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Someone else made a Book of Cookrye recipe!

I know I said this in the last post, but I'm just so excited I want to announce it in its own entry proper. The pecan pie recipe we at A Book of Cookrye posted on the last day of pi month has been featured on Cook In/Dine Out for Thanksgiving! He made it look really pretty and wrote the recipe precisely as opposed to my "just eyeball it, you'll know when it looks right" directions.  I note with amusement that while nothing else in the recipe has changed, the amount of pecans has gone up each time: The original recipe used half a cup, I used three quarters, he used one cup.
In addition, he found an eleven-months-older older copy of the recipe the same recipe from the Dallas Morning News, credited to a Mrs. Matt Bradley. I just have to share what the lady herself said to introduce the recipe:
Tiaga, Grayson Co., Tex., Jan. 21.—(To The News.)—Knowing that The News is strictly for Texas and for Texas enterprises, and thinking that it might be of interest to many Texas kitchen queens, I herewith inclose you a copy of the recipe for making what I have decided to call in honor of the great Lone Star state, “The Texas Pecan Pie.”
Having never seen it in any paper or cook book I have read, and failing to find any one who had ever eaten it, I feel justified in claiming to be its originator and the right to christen it.
It is a most delicious pie—an instant favorite with all who have eaten it at my table. It is my desire that it may be added to the long list of delicacies Texas cooks are so greatly noted for preparing, and I want every lady to test its merits and I will be glad if they let me know of their success or failure in making it.
The Texas pecan pie—One cup sugar, one cup sweet milk, one-half cup pecan kernels chopped fine, three eggs, one tablespoonful flour. When cooked spread the well-beaten whites of two eggs on the top, brown and sprinkle a few of the chopped kernels over it. Above is for one pie. MRS. MATT BRADLEY.
I love the line "It might be of interest to many Texas kitchen queens"!
When I'm writing about cooking, I usually have no idea who might be reading this, so it's awesome when someone says they made something and liked it. It's even more so when someone writes and shares what they thought of it. This is one of my favorite recipes I've ever written up, so I'm really glad it's this one. Also, behold how much prettier it looks! I'm amazed.

Via Cook In/Dine Out

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hudson Sandwiches: Usually, you grind the meat before you cook it

Before we get to the fun of shoving questionable things through a meat grinder, we at A Book of Cookrye have some freaking exciting news! Cook In/Dine Out has featured our pecan pie recipe! I gotta admit, I was really excited about that. Someone else actually tried something I posted! Check it out here! He even came up with precise cooking temperatures rather than my "just eyeball the sucker" instructions, and based on the pictures it looks really delicious. Also, it seems every repost of the recipe starting from the original uses more pecans than the one before, which just goes to show pecans are delicious.

I don't know about you, but most of my beef comes from the discount section of the meat freezer. When your beef routinely has little brown-tinged spots on it, the idea of having it rare seems really daft. I tried slowly stewing a roast just until it was done, and... well... you know that scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation where they try to eat the turkey? Usually, when stuck with meat like that, I pulverize it, slather it with barbecue sauce, and call it done. However, today there was no good barbecue sauce. Since the meat was already really tough anyway, there was no harm in trying...
Oh, for the days when people said "add seasonings" and just meant salt and pepper.

Hudson Sandwiches
½ lb. leftover roast beef*
6 black olives
1 tsp capers
2 boiled eggs
Salt and pepper
Whole wheat bread

Grind together the meat, eggs, capers, and olives (a meat grinder or food processor will work). Mix in salt and pepper to taste.
Butter the bread if you're making these for later so it doesn't get soggy overnight. Spread the beef on. Put some lettuce on top before putting on the top bread slice.
This spread will cover a lot of sandwiches, but it refrigerates well. Or you can just cut the recipe if you don't want as much.

*Lacking a kitchen scale, I looked around and found some dieting website that said 1 cup of cooked, drained ground beef is about 4 ounces. Therefore, this recipe calls for about 2 cups ground meat.
Couldn't find capers, but I did find loose olives with lemon pieces floating in the liquid. It seemed a decent substitution.

A Book of Selected Recipes, Mrs. George Thurn, 1934

This comes to us from the same book as the absolutely delicious and wonderful slice-and-bake butterscotch cookies. Mrs. George Thurn makes some really good desserts, but is her sandwich table any good?
At any rate, with Thanksgiving coming up followed shortly by Christmas, it seems like a good time to bring out recipes that involve using up leftovers. In fact, all we had to do for this was pulverize a bunch of stuff in the refrigerator ...or so we thought. We had to boil eggs.
Waiting waiting waiting...

Fortunately, some friends were downstairs. We watched a lot of stupid videos. We repeated Beyonce blessing the children a lot.
This is the first time I'm voluntarily making something with olives since the "chicken" "pie" disaster which I may never recover from. Therefore, I bought loose olives because I don't want a jar of them staring at me from inside the fridge. Since I got them from the middle-Eastern store, each one held a surprise:

It's hard to tell, but that's an olive with the pit still in it. Being from the United States, and therefore used to food sold at Americans, I've never seen an unstoned olive before in my life. Removing the pit took only a few seconds (though it would have been longer had I wanted to keep the olives in one piece), but I couldn't get over having never seen one before.
I wasn't kidding when I said it was a big roast.

I was soon thinking about how much less work eating is in America than nearly anywhere else. One of the people in this article about immigrants' impressions of the US until they moved said that in American food, you never find bones, the fish is already filleted, and so on- like you're serving it to children. Just as I've never seen an unstoned olive before, I've rarely see meat served on the bone/ Even fried chicken usually comes in "tenders" these days.
All right, I'm done musing. Time to grind stuff!

I would like to say that for once the eggshell came off without so much as a nick on the egg, thank you very much.

I left out the 2 spoons of shortening because duh. What is it supposed to do? Besides, I did a lousy enough job trimming the meat before grinding it that if the gratuitous fat really was supposed to do something, its function was covered. Seriously, why would someone just spoon shortening into their sandwiches?
Anyway, we started with tough roast, and ended up with... this!
Such an improvement, isn't it?

There were still little fat globs in it, so we shoved it back through the grinder. We then had a handful of what looked like unnervingly darkened tuna salad and tasted oddly pungent.

Now at this point, we're supposed to do some snazzy buffet presentation thing involving shrimp, parsley sprigs, and lettuce leaves. However, we at A Book of Cookrye live too far from the coast to trust seafood and don't need to set out sandwich trays. We do, however, have a long day tomorrow.

And how does it taste? When I first bit into it, it set off recognition bells in my head. This is like the sandwiches old ladies bring to church potlucks. The more I think about how often I make recipes from the '30s to the '50s, the more I'm surprised this is the first time I've ever thought this tastes like something my grandparents would have at their parties.
That said, the lettuce and wheat bread went really well with the meat spread. It balanced out the olives' pungency. The filling made the lettuce taste slightly sweet by contrast, in an unexpectedly good way. Honestly, they're really good. Also, those people who said to butter the inside of the sandwich weren't lying when they said it keeps the bread from getting soggy.