Cousin Bill and Fried Mush

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My father’s favorite cousin was Bill, ten years his senior and completely opposite from my diminutive, quiet, handsome, intelligent father.  Bill was bawdy, boisterous, tall and husky with a loud, hearty laugh – a loveable rascal.
We have a picture ca 1920 of Bill in a nice suit, neat and clean-shaven…

Bill-Applegate

…but I remember him only in scruffy clothes with mud-caked brogans.  He was a blacksmith by trade and followed the county fair trotting circuit to shoe the horses.  Back in the 1960s, I took my three young children to the Owensville (Clermont County, Ohio) Fair and stopped in a trailer parked on the fairgrounds to visit Bill and his family.  Inside the small trailer, 4 or 5 little kids were seated at a table and Bill’s wife, Mary, was at the wood-burning stove frying mush in a big cast iron skillet.  She would slice the mush, throw it into the hot grease, flip it and then put it on one of the kids’ plates.  For the 15 or 20 minutes we were there, she never stopped flipping and serving slices of hot mush – there was always an empty plate and a hungry child yelling for more.  I’m also a lover of fried mush and so, in memory of Bill and his wife, here is how I make it.

CORN MEAL MUSH

  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Butter for frying

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.  Combine the remaining 1 cup of water with the corn meal and salt; slowly pour this mixture into the boiling water, stirring constantly.  Cook until thickened, stirring frequently.  Cover; continue cooking over low heat for 5 minutes.  Stir and pour into an oiled 9-inch loaf pan.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Invert mush loaf onto a flat surface….

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…and cut into twelve ½-inch slices.
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Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add about 2 teaspoons of butter.  Fry the mush slices on one side …
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…then turn and brown on the other side.
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Serve with butter and syrup, although I prefer it the way Mary fixed it – just fried golden brown without syrup.

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Makes 6 servings of 2 slices each

Mush will keep well in the refrigerator for about a week.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars

My breakfast normally consists of oatmeal mixed with brown sugar, raisins, nuts and flax seed plus a tablespoon or so of milk.  When I’m traveling, I like to eat hearty breakfasts in a restaurant, but still want the healthful benefits of my oatmeal breakfast.  Since I always get up around 6 AM and have to wait around for others to wake up and go to breakfast, I bring along snack bars that contain the nutritious ingredients I want plus a few goodies to make them taste really good with a morning cup of coffee.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BREAKFAST BARS

  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (Ghirardelli)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • 1-1/2 cup oats, quick cooking
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup flax seed
  • ¼ cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup raisins

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and milk in the microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring and checking each time

Stir in oats, vanilla, flax seed, peanuts and raisins

Press mixture into an 8 x 8 pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until cooled and firm.  Cut into 10 slices.  I like to wrap the slices individually in waxed paper and store them in a covered container in the refrigerator.


With my DietPower software, I did a comparison  of these Snack Bars (based on 10 servings) and my big bowl of enhanced oatmeal:

Oatmeal:  246 calories, 13.1 g fat, 31 g carbs, 8.7 g fiber, 9.4 g protein

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Breakfast Bars:  204 calories, 12.4 g fat, 20.0 g carbs, 3.0 g fiber, 6.1 g protein

Weight Watchers based on 10 servings:  6 points per bar

The breakfast bars are lower in calories, fat, and carbs, but also lower in fiber and protein.   I feel they are still a good substitute for traveling.  For hot weather traveling, keep the container of bars in a cooler.

Carrot Cake Muffins

This recipe is from a book I bought in 1982 to send to my daughter-in-law in St. Louis.  I copied a lot of the recipes before mailing and I’m just getting around to making this one.  It’s a very good muffin – moist and full of healthy things like carrots and pineapple.

CARROT CAKE MUFFINS

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Dash of mace
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained (juice reserved)
  • 1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice
  • 1/2  cup vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease or insert liners in 12 muffin cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and mace.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg lightly,  stir in the pineapple, juice, oil and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the pineapple mixture, stirring just to combine.

Stir in the carrots and raisins.

Spoon batter into prepared cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean.

Remove muffin tins to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes.  If using silicone liners, I like to remove them right away to cool on a rack.

Remove the muffins from the cups/liners and finish cooling on rack.

Makes 12 muffins.  These muffins freeze well.

Maple Walnut Muffins

This is how it looked outside today – two inches of snow on the ground and four to six more inches due by suppertime.

This is how it looked inside.

Yesterday,  my daughter had brought home these daffodils, bright with the promise of spring.

Meanwhile, we need something warm and comforting.  How about some Maple Walnut Muffins?

I copied this recipe from a muffin cookbook that I sent my daughter-in-law as a birthday gift in the early 1980s.  We have enjoyed this muffin ever since.  It has a good maple flavor and the crunch of toasted walnuts.

MAPLE WALNUT MUFFINS

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. maple extract/flavoring
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 Tblsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup toasted, coarsely chopped walnuts*

*To toast walnuts:  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 6-7 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Grease 12 muffins cups or use paper or silicone liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, maple syrup, buttermilk, vanilla and maple extracts and cooled melted margarine.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and salt.  Add to the egg mixture and stir just until blended.  Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Spoon batter into 12 prepared muffin cups.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes until a tester inserted in one of the muffins comes out clean.  Place muffin pan on rack and cool for 5 minutes…

…then remove the muffins from the cups/silicone liners and continue cooling on a wire rack.

Serve warm from the oven or wrap and store for 2-3 days.  These muffins also freeze well.  To warm stored or thawed muffins, place on a pan in a cold oven.  Turn heat to 350 degrees F and after 10 minutes or so when it has reached 350, turn off heat and remove from oven.  They will be just right to eat.

Apple and Pecan Pancakes with Brie

This is a breakfast or brunch dish to celebrate something – a birthday, an anniversary, the fact that it’s Saturday…..

I was watching Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives featuring a restaurant which included a breakfast plate like this on its menu.  My oldest daughter, who lives with me, began imagining how great it would be, so I picked up a package of brie on my next trip to the grocery.

I had everything else on hand and this is what I whipped up for our Saturday morning breakfast:

APPLE AND PECAN PANCAKES WITH BRIE

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tblsp. (1-1/2 tsp.) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tblsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium tart apple, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 Tblsp. chopped pecans
  • 1 Tblsp. butter
  • 6 slices of brie, about 1 inch square x 1/4 inch thick (like a pat of butter)

  • Syrup of choice

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a 2 cup measure, pour the milk and oil.

Add to the dry ingredients, mixing just until blended.  Stir in apples and pecans.

Preheat a skillet on medium-high heat, lightly grease with butter and place three rounded 1/4-cup measures of batter onto the skillet.  Allow to brown until bubbles form on top…

…then flip and allow to cook until brown on the other side.

Remove pancakes to a plate and place a slice of brie on each.  Complete with a generous drizzle of syrup.  My daughter likes maple syrup and I favor Lyle’s Golden Syrup.

Enjoy.

Cappuccino Chip Muffins and Spread


This recipe is from a book on muffins which I bought for my daughter-in-law in 1982.  I copied a lot of interesting recipes before I sent the book on to her and have just gotten around to baking this one.  I should have done it earlier – they’re really good.

CAPPUCCINO CHIP MUFFINS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips)

Preheat oven @ 375 degrees F

Grease or place paper cups or silicone liners in  a 12-cup muffin tin

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso coffee powder, salt and cinnamon.

In another bowl, whisk together milk, butter, egg and vanilla until blended.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; add milk mixture and stir just to combine.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups; bake approximately 20 minutes @ 375 degrees F or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean.

Remove muffin tin to wire rack.  Cool 5 minutes before removing muffins from cups.  If using silicone liners, remove the muffins in the liners to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from liners.  Continue cooling muffins on the rack.

These muffins freeze well.

They are delicious plain or extra-delicious served with an Espresso Spread:

ESPRESSO SPREAD

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tblsp. chocolate chips (Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips)
  • 1 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mixing can be done by hand, but a small food processor makes quick work of it.  Place the chocolate chips in the food processor and grind into small pieces.  Add sugar and espresso powder and process to blend.  Add cream cheese and vanilla and process until smooth

Remove spread to a small bowl.  Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate.  To serve, let stand 10 minutes at room temperature to soften.

Makes approximately 3/4 cup.

Oatmeal Prune Muffins

Almost 30 years ago, I bought a cookbook specializing in muffins to send to my daughter-in-law in St. Louis for her birthday.  Before it left my hands, I copied down a lot of the recipes to try some day.  I’m just now getting around to this one.

OATMEAL PRUNE MUFFINS

  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped, pitted dried prunes
  • 2/3 cup uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup Canola oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. grated orange peel*

*I always keep small containers of orange, lemon and lime peel in the freezer.  Just a few minutes of thawing time will give enough for the small amounts needed in cooking and it tastes like fresh grated peel.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease or line with paper or silicone 12 muffin cups.

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil; remove from heat.  Stir in prunes and oats; let stand 20 minutes.

While mixture is cooling, in a large bowl whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Stir oil, beaten eggs, vanilla and orange peel into prune mixture in saucepan.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; add prune mixture and stir just to combine.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups; bake @ 400 degrees F for  20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean.

Remove muffin tin to wire rack.  Cool 5 minutes before removing muffins from cups (I like to remove the silicone cups from the muffin pan right away).

Remove muffins from pan or silicone liners to rack to cool.

Makes 12 muffins

After muffins are cool, store in an airtight container like this 45-year-old Tupperware piece.

Muffins also freeze well.

These muffins are a  very good combination of tasty and healthy.

Oat Bran Sour Cream Muffins

I started out with a recipe from Joy the Baker, one of my favorite food bloggers, but made quite a few changes.  I switched out some of the high fat items and used oat bran rather than wheat bran.  Please note that this is not bran cereal, but oat bran such as we used to buy in health food stores and now is available in most groceries.  Joy said that her version improved after a couple of days and mine did, too.  Carefully packed on the kitchen counter, they will be delicious up to 5 days.  This is a nice breakfast muffin – not too sweet and full of healthy ingredients.

OAT BRAN SOUR CREAM MUFFINS

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup molasses*
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup oat bran (not cold bran cereal)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Grease/flour 12 muffin cups or insert paper or silicone liners.

In a medium bowl, place the oil, light brown sugar, egg and molasses.

*I used some pure natural cane molasses from Amish Country (Holmes County, Ohio) because I like its slight sorghum flavor.  Something like Grandma’s Molasses would also be good.

Whisk these ingredients until smooth.  Whisk in the baking soda and salt.  Stir in the oat bran and flour just until dry ingredients are absorbed.  Gently stir in the raisins and nuts.

Divide batter between 12 muffin cups.  Bake @ 400 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes – until tops are golden brown and a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove pan to rack to cool.  I like the silicone liners now that I’ve discovered letting the muffins cool in the liners for 5-10 minutes makes it easy to pop them out of the liners.

Allow muffins to cool completely on a wire rack.  Then store in a tightly covered container for up to 5 days.

Really tasty with a cup of morning coffee.

The next picture has nothing whatsoever to do with oat bran muffins, but I collect vintage linen and scottie items and had to share  this gift from my oldest daughter.  I love the ladies in the background enjoying their card game while poor hubby is coping with feeding the baby – a revolutionary idea back in the 1930-40s.

Fairground Food

The midway – Carthage Fair, 1932

When I was growing up in the 1930s-40s, the fairground was a fun place to go with the family in the summer and fairground food was cotton candy, fried fish sandwiches, taffy apples and ice cream candy.  When my father was growing up in the 1920s, a fairground was his home for much of the year.  My grandfather was a blacksmith and horseshoeing was his trade…

My grandfather and my father, ca 1914

He took his business on the road during the county fair season and his large family came along.

Grandma Lillian, Annie, Frank, a neighbor, my father – Johnny

My grandmother (the original Lillian) did the laundry in a washtub outside the barn…

…and cooked the family meals on whatever kind of stove she could rig up.   My father brought along the memories of fairground meals when he married my mother in 1932.

I still make these two dishes today at age 77.

FAIRGROUND PANCAKES

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tblsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add the oil and milk, mixing well.  Cook on a hot griddle until bubbles form on the surface.  Flip and continue cooking on the reverse side.  Serve hot with butter and syrup.

This makes six 4″ pancakes or as my father would have made them, two large griddle-sized flapjacks.

My father would have used bacon drippings or lard instead of oil and the milk would have been diluted evaporated milk.  He made syrup by mixing the right ratio of dark brown sugar and water (which I’ve never perfected) and boiling until of  syrup consistency.  And the meal would not have been complete for my father unless there were two sunny-side-up eggs on top of the pancakes, everything liberally sprinkled with black pepper.

My oldest daughter and I always have a pancake and egg breakfast, called our Fairground Breakfast, before we start out on a long trip.  It’s sure to hold us until lunchtime.

Another of my father’s fairground favorites was his chili.

FAIRGROUND CHILI

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large can of kidney beans
  • 1 medium can of tomato puree
  • Water to fill one kidney bean can and one puree can
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt
  • Grating of black pepper

In a large pot, brown the ground beef and onion until no pink shows in the meat and the onion is tender.  Add the kidney beans, puree and water from the two cans.  Simmer on the stove for at least one hour.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.   Serve hot – 4 servings.

My father liked his chili with lots of chili powder and saltine crackers.  He usually broke the crackers up in the chili.  One of the favorite aromas of my childhood was of beef and onions frying in preparation for chili.

I continued to take my children (and now my grandchildren) to county fairs.  Back in the 1960s, I took my three young children to the Owensville (Clermont County, Ohio) fair and stopped in a trailer parked on the fairgrounds to visit my father’s cousin and his very large family.  Bill was also a blacksmith and hauled his family around the fair circuit to make a living.  Inside the small trailer, 5 or 6 little kids were seated at a table and Bill’s wife, Mary, was at the stove frying mush in a big cast iron skillet.  She would slice the mush, throw it into the hot grease, flip it and then put it on one of the kids’ plates.  For the 15 or 20 minutes we were there, she never stopped flipping and serving slices of hot mush – there was always an empty plate and a hungry child yelling for more.  She invited us to have some, but we said no thanks and left her there to feed her kids.

So, when you hear the term, “Fairground Food”, it’s not always an expensive treat out on the midway – it could very well be somebody’s favorite meal.

Strawberry Pecan Kuchen

In the early 1990s, I studied German to help with my job and my most lasting benefit was being able to translate German recipes.  This is an adaptation of one of them.

STRAWBERRY PECAN KUCHEN

Strawberry topping:

  • 1-1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tblsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. water
  • 2 drops almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Kuchen

  • 3 Tblsp. canola oil
  • 3 Tblsp. sour cream
  • 3 Tblsp. milk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tblsp. chopped toasted pecans for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Spray or oil an 8″ baking pan

To make strawberry topping: In a medium saucepan, place strawberries, granulated sugar, cornstarch and water.  Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes until sauce is thickened and strawberries are soft.  Remove from heat – stir in almond extract and vanilla.   Set aside.

To make kuchen: In a medium bowl, place the oil, sour cream, milk, sugar, salt and baking powder.  Whisk until blended.  Stir in flour just until mixed well.  Batter will be thick – spread batter in prepared 8″ pan, using fingertips dampened with water to push the batter in place.

Spread the reserved strawberry mixture on top of the batter and sprinkle with pecans.

Bake @ 350 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes until cake is browned on edges and beginning to brown on top.

Serve warm.  Yield:  4-6 servings