24 July 2011

Family recipe Monday: small and light

It's really not the right time of year to think about heat in the kitchen. Or anywhere else. The stellar pioneer girls among us are sterilizing the canning equipment and getting ready to put up the fresh fruit and vegetables that are finally starting to show up after a cold, wet spring. The less-than-stellar pioneer girls among us are thinking that fresh peaches beat peach cobbler any old day right now, and can be improved only if they are in ice cream. Yeah, July is heating up and we are staring down the barrel of August, and trying to make enough iced tea to survive to September. We'll think about canning tomorrow, once we get off our fainting couch.   

Here are a few older cookie recipes, good for baking quickly and cooling thoroughly before eating. 

Melt in the mouth cookies 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Cut in 
1 stick butter or margarine

2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons vanilla

Drop by scant teaspoons (onto baking sheet). Bake at 400* F. Then hide.
--The Hess Family, who presumably hid the cookies, not themselves

Molasses cookies

1 cup molasses
1 teaspoon (baking) soda in 1/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup melted Spry (or oil)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon (baking) soda
Approximately 2 1/2 cups flour or until enough.

Cook in 375* F oven for 7-8 minutes.
--Louise Hastings

Note: you are not going to find Spry any more, except in Cyprus, apparently. Too bad: it was a classic advertising campaign. Use the shortening of your choice. Mix everything in the order given. These can be either rolled and cut or dropped, depending on your preference.

Oatmeal cookies

Mix together
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups oats

Cut in 1 cup shortening or butter until well blended.

Stir in
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1/3 cup milk (sweet or sour)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar

Chill. Roll 1/8" thick. Cut out. Place (on) unreleased sheet. Bake 375* F 10-12 minutes. When cool, put together with jelly or jam.
--Dolly Hess

Those would go well with a nice sorbet, right? Happy Monday.

Aunt Jenny needs something stronger than milk, I think. 

Fall River

Coot and young...cootlets? 

We took a day off to lead a birding trip to Whitney Preserve in Fall River County. The summer is finally catching up to the hot and dry conditions of the rest of the country, but the mornings are still cool. Since we have not explored much in the southern part of this county, it also turned into an architecture photography session. Here are a few of the day's best sights. Enjoy. Stay cool.

Abandoned hotel near Hot Springs

Small cabin, large solar panel, and loggerhead shrike, Ardmore

Shed, Ardmore

Barn in the distance near Edgemont

Cabin near Hot Springs

Damselfly, Whitney Preserve

Dragonfly, posing wonderfully, Whitney Preserve

Cedar waxwing watching birders, Whitney Preserve

Swallow, Chatauqua Park, Hot Springs

Ancient cottonwood, Whitney Preserve

Mule deer and fawn

Mallard and ducklings

Moon and trees

I believe they mean what they say

Red dragonfly, Whitney Preserve

Old sign, Edgemont

Alien landscape

Turkey vultures rising

Yellow-breasted chat, posing nicely after a bath

17 July 2011

"Even when it stands vacant the past is never empty".--Ivan Doig

On a contemplative Sunday, baking bread and trying to plan a Northern Plains museum's future even as it looks deeply into the past, I am drawn inexorably to the words of Ivan Doig. Enjoy. 

"Men and women are hard ore, we do not go to slag in a mere few seasons of forge." 

"The spaces between stars are where the work of the universe is done."

"Even when it stands vacant the past is never empty".

"I am a writer, not a transcriber." 

"Childhood is the one story that stands by itself in every soul."

"There is more time than there is expanse of the world and so any voyage at last will end." 

"Life is mostly freehand." 

11 July 2011

You saw this, you thought of me...and now I can't sleep

Lassie and a very dead blue-green mammoth

I can depend on a couple of observances every year:

1. My friend David will send me something on Sept. 7 marking Buddy Holly's birthday, in honor of our shared birthplace of Lubbock. This is usually something touching, fresh and funny.

2. My friends John and Julianne will show up in South Dakota in July with a bag of birthday presents that will reduce everyone in the vicinity to utter speechlessness. This is usually something never seen before by mortal man. This year did not disappoint.

If any of you have any idea what the following is supposed to be, please advise. I will say that the cricket infestation in the building seems to have vanished since the...er...globular chihuahua-faced deer thing with deer angels on its shoulders came in. I still think I should have opened this underwater.

And these....are a pair. A matched pair. Someone committed this at least twice. With feathers. I have no other words.

In contrast, this is sort of OK, in the sense that it's something you might have bought for your grandmother in 1967 after a family trip to South Dakota. Because you just realized that you didn't have anything for her and you have 50 cents left...and Grandmother likes anything ceramic. Right?

Poor Grandmother.

But the Lassie book is a real prize. In the course of 249 pages, she and Ranger Corey find a frozen mammoth, fight off wolverines, fight off wolves, set government-Native American relations back 300 years and...no, I won't give away the ending. Maybe I'll post a few chapters over the summer.

Happy Monday. As John always says, I have the friends I deserve.

04 July 2011

Family recipe Monday: farm eggs

Farm eggs

The crops may not be doing well this summer (whether you are in the parched areas or the drowned ones), but the chickens seems to be fat and happy. Everyone not actually within the city limits (where chicken-keeping is banned) seems to have a dozen eggs to hand over in return for, oh, just about anything. Three wet summers and a couple of grasshopper explosions up here seem to have given the hens everything they need to produce thick-shelled eggs with neon orange yolks, often double. It's painful to have to go back to store eggs in the winter.  

Here are a couple of ideas for breaking eggs and making something even better than omelets. Not that there is anything wrong with the deceptively simple, perfect omelet...
2 T olive oil
2/3 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped green pepper
½ cup chopped unpared zucchini
½ cup diced skinned, seeded tomato
1 cup unpeeled diced (½") eggplant
5 large eggs
1/3 cup light cream
½ tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper
½ cup diced (½")bread
4 oz grated cheddar cheese
8-oz pkg. cream cheese, diced (½”)

In a 10" skillet, heat the oil. Add all the vegetables and cook without browning, stirring often, until eggplant is tender (~15 minutes). Beat eggs, cream, salt and pepper until blended. Add vegetables, bread and cheddar cheese. Fold in cream cheese. Pour into a well-greased 9” pie plate. Bake in a preheated 350o F oven until a knife inserted in center comes out clean (about 30-35 minutes) Cool for 10 minutes and cut into wedges.

Oven pancakes

Preheat oven to 475o. In a 9"x9" glass dish, place 3 T butter; melt in oven. Do NOT brown.

Remove from oven. Pour in well-mixed batter of

3 eggs
¾ cup flour, ¾ cup milk
Juice of 1 lemon (optional)
½ tsp vanilla (optional)

Bake 10-12 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve with powdered sugar and lemon juice (traditional), berries, jam, syrup, toasted almonds or macadamias and butter.

Serves 3. If making for 4 or more, add 1 egg, ¼ cup flour and ¼ cup milk for each person, 1 extra tsp for each, and larger pan.
--Pat Monaco

Happy Monday, happy Fourth.