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(Note: This post was originally published in February 2013 in the Okanagan Sunday, Kamloops This Week and Prairie Post. The time and date of the reading mentioned has come and gone. But! You can join author Astrid Blodgett on Tuesday evening, October 8 instead. You can contact the Peachland Library or Astrid, via her blog, for further information.)

 

In my grandmother’s kitchen, there were many plastic bags.

Although I never knew her to buy a loaf of bread, somehow the bread bags of other families made their way to her.

She used and reused them, washed and hung them to dry from clothespins suspended on a string over the kitchen sink.

When they’d dripped dry, she stored her own bread in them. White bread, soft as down pillows, the dough for which rose daily in an enameled bowl, covered and set on the kitchen table.

february10.foodpic.darcie     Meanwhile, Grandma would do her other baking. Cookies and doughnuts and buns and roll kuchen.

As many of these goodies as might have been for her and Grandpa, many more were for visitors who dropped by, usually unannounced. Or they were sent home with children and grandchildren.

With the homemade bread in bread bags, the twist ties long ago stripped of their red or green paper ribbons, the cream cookies were packed in one of dozens of kept ice cream buckets.

Salvaged grocery ware, after all, were Grandma’s Mennonite “Tupperware.” A thrifty measure that predated our modern “Reduce/Reuse/Recycle” movement. And one that, some twenty-plus years later, has lately served me well.

While writing and rehearsing the talk and reading I would deliver at the book launch for Mennonites Don’t Dance more than two years ago, I wanted, also, to do something special, and sweet, for readers who have followed this column for so many years.

Arriving at the downtown library an hour ahead of the event, Chefhusband and I brought in ice cream buckets stuffed with pink-frosted cream cookies, the same as my grandmother used to bake. We put on the library’s conference-sized coffee urns. And when the reading was over, we invited the sixty or so people who’d come to listen, to join us for a Mennonite treat.

On tour in Alberta a few weeks later, my mom, sister and niece did the baking, while an aunt and uncle provided the Mennonite “Tupperware” I brought to the library in Lethbridge.

Across Canada, libraries (and independent book stores) have been very good to me: The Ontario Library Association nominated Mennonites Don’t Dance for their annual Evergreen Award, while local librarians have made me feel at home among their stacks.

In the end, the honours went, last week, to Linwood Barclay who wrote The Accident (Doubleday Canada).

Today, however, I’m getting ready for another reading, at another library. This time in Peachland, on Tuesday February 12th at 7pm. A bit of a drive, but all are welcome. And there will be cream cookies, made from my grandmother’s recipe, with a twist, and carried in Mennonite “Tupperware” from my own collection.

“Your aunt says she  needs those back,” my mom said to me when she delivered the cream cookies for Lethbridge.

I’m sorry to say that when I returned them, it was minus one.

 

Mennonite “Whoopie Pies”

2 large eggs

1 cup whipping cream

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

pinch salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1tsp baking soda

 

Filling:

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sifted icing sugar

2 tsp cocoa powder

3 cups marshmallow “Fluff”* (store bought or homemade)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk together remaining ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet, one cup at a time, mixing to form a soft dough. Divide into two parts. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate to chill.

Preheat oven to 350F. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/2-inch. Cut cookies using a medium round cutter. Place 1-inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes (cookies should remain white, but be set in the centre). Cool completely.

Meanwhile, for filling, cream together butter, icing sugar and cocoa until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add Fluff* and vanilla. Mix until combined.

Spread undersides of cookies with filling and press together into sandwich cookies.

*Marshmallow Fluff

3 egg whites

2 cups light corn syrup

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups icing sugar

1 Tbs pure vanilla extract

 

Using the whisk attachment of an electric beater, beat egg, syrup and salt on high speed for 10 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla and beat on low to combine.

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(recipe courtesy of Susan Toy of Bequia, author of  Island in the Clouds)
3 pounds chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium white potatoes, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

DSC_0019_2

In a large pot over medium-high, heat oil. Add onions and potatoes; cook five minutes. Add garlic, curry powder, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper. Add water and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, sear chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Add to curry mixture, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender. Remove lid and reduce liquid. Season to taste.

for the roti:
4 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoon butter, melted
1 1/2 cups water
canola oil for brushing and frying

Whisk together flour and baking soda in a large bowl. Add butter and combine. Add water, and mix until ingredients come together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead to make a softly elastic but not sticky dough. Cut into 12 pieces. Roll each piece of dough thinly (dinner plate sized). Brush surface with oil, sprinkle lightly with a pinch of flour. Fold in half, then quarter, roll up into a ball. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Roll out each piece thinly again. Brush one side with oil. Place on a hot griddle. Brush other side. Turn over. Place on a paper towel-lined tray and repeat with remaining roti. Serve hot stuffed with Chicken Curry and hot pepper sauce.

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Breakfast:

Brioche Sticky Buns

March 1, 2012 by darcie friesen hossack | Edit

 
4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm milk
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 pound butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in milk. Set aside in a warm place, 10 minutes, until creamy.
In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer, whisk together flour and sugar. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add yeast mixture and eggs to flour. Mix on low until liquids are completely incorporated; 3 minutes.
With mixer on high, add butter, several pieces at a time. When all the butter is added, knead for 8 minutes. Transfer dough to a very large, buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Roll out to 15×20-inches.
Filling:
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tbs cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar
Spread sour cream over surface of dough, leaving a boarder of 1/2-inch. Combine cinnamon and brown sugar. Sprinkle over sour cream. Roll up lengthwise.
Sticky:
1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar
1/2 pound butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1/4 cup golden corn syrup
Cream together butter and sugar. Add syrups and beat until well combined. Spread mixture into the bottom and sides of two 8x11x2-inch glass baking dishes. Cut roll into 12 equal slices. Arrange into pans.
Bake, with a cookie sheet below to catch drips, at 350F for 40-45 minutes, until deep golden. Serve warm.

Second Breakfast:

Prairie Berry Clafoutis

December 1, 2010 by darcie friesen hossack | Edit

I have a new favourite recipe and this is it!
by Amy Jo Ehman, author of Prairie Feast, a writer’s journey home for dinner
2 tbs butter
2 cups mixed Saskatchewan berries, fresh or frozen
(raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, sour cherries and, of course, saskatoons)
1 tbsp flour
3 eggs
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
Heat the oven to 350F. In the oven, melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or large pie plate. Do not brown. Meanwhile, toss the berries with 1 tbsp of flour. In a blender or food processor, mix the eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla and salt. With the blades running, gradually add the cup of flour and blend well. Pour the batter into the pan. Scatter the berries overtop. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the centre is set. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with icing sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup.
Cook’s note: Clafoutis is a French custard cake, much like a thick crepe, and makes a perfect brunch or dessert.

Elevensies:

BLT Bread Salad

4 slices bacon, crumbled

3 slices day-old bread, cubed

(or equivalent artisan bread, cubed or sliced into thin fingers, as shown)

2 medium tomatoes

2 cups salad greens

2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

DRESSING:

2 Tbs light mayonnaise

1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

dash hot sauce

3 Tbs milk

flaked kosher salt/freshly ground pepper

Fry bacon until crisp, then remove with tongs to a paper towel. Add sliced garlic to bacon fat and distribute evenly around pan. Add bread and fry until golden on one side. Flip and fry on other (or all) side. Remove from pan.

Roughly chop the tomatoes. Place in a large salad bowl and squeeze lightly to release some of the juices.

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over tomatoes and stir. Adjust seasoning. Just before serving, toss in bread.

Arrange salad greens on two large plates. Top with the tomato/bread mixture. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Luncheon:

Baked Potato Soup
flesh from 4 large baked potatoes
4 Tbs butter
2 medium leeks, finely sliced, (white and light green parts only)
5-6 cups chicken stock
2 cups grated cheddar
6 green onions, finely sliced, (white and light green parts only)
5 strips bacon, cooked crisp, drained, chopped
flaked kosher salt/freshly ground pepper
sour cream
Scoop flesh from well-baked potatoes.
Melt butter in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks; sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add potatoes and 5 cups stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmering for 10 minutes
Puree using an immersion blender. Thin with additional stock if needed.
Bring back to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheddar, green onions, bacon and sour cream.

Afternoon Tea:

London Fog for one

3/4 cup hot water
2 Earl Grey tea bags
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tbs vanilla syrup
Steep both tea bags in water for very strong tea. Meanwhile, froth milk with the steam attachment of an espresso machine (or heat and use a latte whip). Remove tea bags from tea. Add vanilla syrup and steamed milk, reserving froth for the top. Serve immediately, with crumb cake (next recipe).

Susanne Klassen’s Crumb cake recipe!

(contributed by Elsie K. Neufeld)

2 cups brown sugar
3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup margarine (or butter, I suppose), softened.

Mix the above and reserve 3/4 -1 cup for “crumbs.”

Add 2 tsp BAKING SODA to 1 1/2 cups sour milk (or buttermilk). Whisk with a fork.
Pour into the dry mixture. Then beat 2 eggs and add. Turn on mixer. Beat until your intuition tells you to stop.

Pour into a 9×13 inch pan. Top with reserved crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 or so minutes.

Bakers’ notes: I wanted to keep Elsie’s mom’s recipe worded just the way it was. I used a different method, so include these few notes:

Whisk together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 3/4 cup crumbs. Whisk baking soda into remaining crumbs.

Whisk together buttermilk and eggs. Add to crumb mixture and bring together with a fork, until the consistency of muffin batter.

Pour into a buttered pan. Top with reserved crumbs. Bake until a tester comes out clean.

Dinner:

Chefhusband’s Ultimate Fried Egg Sandwich

March 30, 2012 by darcie friesen hossack | Edit

 

(makes 2)

4 slices artisan bread

4 fresh eggs

8 slices bacon, cooked, drippings reserved

1 tomato, sliced

4 slices sharp cheddar

2 tbs mayonnaise

herb salad

kosher salt, fresh ground pepper

butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Place a pan over med-high heat.

For each sandwich, butter one side of two slices of bread. Spread insides with mayo and place tomato slices on one side, cheese on the other. Season tomato with salt and pepper. Place bread, buttered side down, in skillet. After 30 seconds, transfer to oven to melt cheese.

Meanwhile, heat 2-3 tsp bacon drippings in a small pan. Crack in 2 eggs and fry over-easy, leaving the yolks runny.

Remove pan from oven. Transfer bread to a cutting board. Add eggs, bacon and a few greens. Assemble and slice in half. Serve immediately.

 

Supper:

This is an old Mennonite recipe. Though I didn’t learn it from my Grandma Friesen, it still reminds me of her kitchen in Schoenfeld, Saskatchewan.
 
2 cups milk
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbs active dry yeast
1 tbs granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
4-5 cups flour
12 oz Farmers sausage (about 1 1/2 large)
Grease an 11 by 11 by 3-inch baking pan.
In a  small pot, scald milk by warming it over med-high heat until barely simmering. Allow to cool until it is warm but no longer hot (baby bottle temperature).
Meanwhile, proof yeast in water with sugar.
In a large bowl, beat eggs well. Stir in milk and yeast mixture.
Whisk salt into flour and add, one cup at a time into the wet mixture (whisking at first, then changing to a wooden spoon), until mixture is thick and slightly elastic. (It should be like a very heavy muffin batter, but not so thick or overworked that it becomes a dough).
Chop sausage into bite-sized pieces. Fold into batter.
Scrape batter into prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until nearly doubled.
Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

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For the Dashi (Japanese Sea Stock):
12 cups cold water
2 oz package kombu (dried kelp)
2 cup dried bonito flakes
In a large pot over high heat, bring water and kombu just to a boil. Remove from heat and remove kombu (save for other use or discard ). Sprinkle bonito flakes over liquid and stir until it sinks; let stand 3 minutes. Strain broth into a large bowl through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Discard bonito.
For the soup:
1/4 cup dried wakame (dried, cut seaweed)
1/2 cup shiro miso (white fermented soybean paste)
12 cups dashi
1 pound firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallion greens
Reconstitute wakame by covering with warm water and letting stand 15 minutes. Drain. Discard water.
Stir together miso and 1 cup dashi until smooth. Return remaining dashi to pot. Reheat, then gently stir in tofu and wakame. Simmer for about a minute. Remove from heat. Stir in miso mixture and serve, garnished with scallions.

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1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 cups plus 1/2 cup whipping cream cream
2 tbs granulated sugar
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 packet powdered gelatin
1 1/2 tbs cold water
fruit compote to serve
 
Spread almonds on a baking sheet and place in a 350F oven until lightly toasted. Roughly chop.
In a medium pot, heat 1 cup of the whipping cream together with the toasted almonds until the cream simmers. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Pour cream mixture through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Discard almonds. Gently rewarm cream. Add vanilla extract.
Lightly oil four custard cups with a canola oil.
Sprinkle gelatin powder over cold water. Allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes. Add gelatin to warm cream mixture. Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.
Divide mixture among custard cups, and chill at least 2 hours or until firm. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cup to unmold. Serve with fruit compote, such as blueberries or rhubarb.

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3 medium red potatoes, small dice (2 cups)
1 large yellow onion, small dice
1 1/2 pounds extra-lean ground beef
2-3 tbs canola oil
2 tbs curry powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbs mild curry paste
1/3 cup white vinegar
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
In a very large skillet over high heat, heat oil and brown beef. Add onions and potatoes. Cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes (moisture will reduce and you’ll hear the sound of frying), lifting lid to stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Reduce temperature to medium. Add spices and curry paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook a few minutes more to develop flavours, then add vinegar, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen cooked-on bits.
Adjust seasonings.
Serve with Indian flatbread or cooked Basmati rice.

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1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup brewed soy sauce
1/4 cup finely sliced green onions (white part only)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs minced ginger root
2 tbs sambal oelek (hot chilli paste)
fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds ribeye or New York steak, trimmed, very thinly sliced
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbs canola oil
sesame seeds
In a large glass or ceramic bowl, combine marinade ingredients: sugar, mirin, sesame oil, soy sauce, green onions, garlic, ginger, sambal and pepper (several turns of the pepper mill).
Add beef and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Drain marinade and reserve. Mix thoroughly with cornstarch. Set aside.
Heat a wok over high heat. Add canola oil, and when hot, add beef. Stir-fry until browned. Transfer to a dish.
Add reserved marinade-cornstarch mixture to the wok and cook, stirring, for about a minute, until bubbling. Return beef to wok and toss until coated.
Garnish with sliced green onions (green part only) and toasted sesame seeds.

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