Another in the sometime series from “Annie Cooper’s Recipe Scrapbook.” The foods are all mentioned in my still-in-heavy-rewrite novel. Claire holds a tender spot in her heart for this recipe and for one particular member of the family it came from. Enjoy!
Butternut Squash with Apples
from the kitchen of Claire Jordan
Auntie Claire isn’t much of a cook and I was surprised when Mom told me this favorite fall recipe was hers. When I asked Auntie Claire about its origin, she got a faraway look in her eyes and said it came from the mother of an old college friend. Somehow I got the feeling that there was more to the story.
About 1 ½ pounds butternut squash, peeled and chopped. About 5 cups. Many produce departments now carry peeled and chopped squash.
4 medium tart apples, chopped.
½ cup dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, or combination
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 ½ tsp. grated fresh ginger or 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. salt (or more to taste)
1/8 tsp. black (or more to taste)
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter or margarine
Directions: In a slow-cooker combine all ingredients and stir. Cover and cook on low setting for 3-4 hours or on high for 1 ½ hours.
from the kitchen of Fran McCormack and Libby McCormack Cooper
I’m not sure where the original came from, but Mom called it “Oatmeal Cake.” My girls call it “Camping Cake” since we always took it camping. Mom made it in an aluminum pan with a sliding lid, like the one pictured below, so even on camping trips it stayed wonderfully moist and un-squashed. No small feat. It is definitely not figure-friendly, but it does contain oatmeal, so perhaps Mom thought it qualified as healthy for that reason alone. Note: If you leave the knife in the pan, the cake seems to disappear by inches, not whole slices. Just sayin’.
I hope the directions are clear and accurate enough. I can’t remember where the original came from, but I’ve adapted it and made it so often, I don’t even follow a recipe any longer. This is essentially bread pudding and many recipes I’ve seen call for half & half, but seriously, this recipe doesn’t need it. So if you’re watching your weight (like me, usually) here is a pretty painless place to cut back on fat. Whole grain bread and Eggbeaters can make this not only tasty but also a pretty healthy dish. And of course, you can use other fruit, alone or in any combination you fancy.
Why novel? Because the cornmeal is mixed in, not made into cornbread batter and spread on top. Well, that and the fact that this food memory comes from one of the characters in my novel.
From the kitchen of Libby McCormack Cooper
While this wasn’t necessarily my favorite thing when I was growing, it now definitely qualifies as comfort food. I’ve adapted it a bit here–using Rotele tomatoes makes up for other seasoning–but it’s still pretty much as my mom made it. We like it topped with a little sour cream and served on a bed of shredded lettuce. Mom served it with a wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with a dollop of mayo that she called a “salad.” Times and food tastes have changed.
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 small yellow or white onion, chopped
1 large can of diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 regular can of Rotele tomatoes with the added chilies, with liquid
1 regular can of corn, with liquid
1 regular can of whole or sliced large black olives, drained
yellow cornmeal (approximately ¾ to 1 cup)
1 cup or more shredded cheddar
Brown the meat with onion. Drain.
Add the contents of all the cans. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Start sprinkling corn meal in the while stirring. Just add in small amounts until the mixture thickens and the boil bubbles make a very distinctive pfff sound. There is no exact measurement for this. Sorry. As soon as it pfffs, remove from heat.
Grease or spray a 9×13 baking pan. Scoop the mixture in and smooth it. Or if you are using an ovenproof skillet, you can save washing up an extra pan.
Sprinkle top generously with cheese.
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. It does not have to bake long because it is already hot.
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, another scrapbook page from Annie.
Scones from the kitchen of Libby McCormack Cooper
These are so easy to make, especially if you have a stand mixer. I made them every year for St. Patrick’s Day at school. With only half a stick of butter for a big batch, they are pretty low in fat, if you worry about such things. And people tell me they have magical healing qualities so are the perfect gift to take to an ailing friend.
4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp. butter
1 cup raisins
1 3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk soured with 2 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice)
Preheat oven to 400.
Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Add raisins. Add milk and egg. Mix until dough forms.
Knead 2-3 minutes on floured board. Divide dough in half. Pat each half into a flat circle, about 12 inches across.
Cut each circle into 12-16 wedges. This is the shape my grandmother made her scones. At this point you can sprinkle them with course sugar, such as Demerara, if you like.
Bake 10 minutes on lightly greased or sprayed cookie sheet. As soon as they are cool, place them in a zippered plastic bag. Serve with marmalade, raspberry jam or lemon curd.
Variations: Raisins can be replaced with currents, dried cranberries, or other fruit. The cranberries work especially well if you substitute a little orange juice for some of the liquid and add a bit of grated orange peel. I’ve also added nuts or chocolate chips from time to time.
Another page from Annie Cooper’s Recipe Scrapbook. You might begin to see why Libby struggles with her weight.
Fluffy White Icing From the kitchens of Fran McCormack & Libby McCormack Cooper I’m not sure where my mom got this unusual frosting recipe, but it was always a hit, especially when piled high on chocolate cake. Unlike regular buttercream, it stays soft and fluffy instead of developing a crust. And since I don’t keep Crisco around (does anyone?), I just use more butter.
3 heaping Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
¼ cup Crisco (I substitute more butter here, another half stick)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Bring flour and milk to soft boil in saucepan and cook until thickened. Cool completely. Transfer to mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients. Beat until fluffy.
A second helping from Annie Cooper’s Recipe Scrapbook.Soft Ginger Cookies From the kitchen of Libby McCormack Cooper
My mom adapted this recipe from my Grandmother McCormack’s original that made crispy gingersnaps. My mom preferred softer, chewier cookies. So do I. These were always the first cookies she made once the weather cooled off in the fall. They make the house smell wonderful. As long as you’re in the mess, you might as make a double batch and put half in the freezer.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
Preheat oven to 350.
Measure flour, ginger, cinnamon, soda, and salt into a medium bowl.
Cream butter until soft, gradually adding sugar, creaming until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg and molasses. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture a bit at a time to prevent flour from flying everywhere. Blend well.
Form rounded tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Or do what I do, use that little cookie scoop that’s just the right size. Roll balls in granulated or fancier Demerara sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake in 350 oven for 12-15 minutes or until tops are slightly rounded, crackly and lightly browned.
Remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely on wire rack or waxed paper. Store in airtight container.
This is the first installment of what I hope will be a regular feature here under the category “Annie Cooper’s Recipe Scrapbook.” Second and third helpings will be available in coming weeks. I’ve wanted to include recipes in my book for some time because I love how Laura Kalpakian included them in her wonderful novel, American Cookery. However, I haven’t been able to do so as elegantly as she did. Yet. For now, consider this an archive (and maybe a teaser) for my book.
Annie, the twenty-something daughter of one of my main characters creates a scrapbook of her family’s favorite recipes as a gift for her mother, Libby McCormack Cooper. Libby’s best friend is Claire Jordan, whose mother contributed this yummy recipe. Each recipe will be accompanied by a few cook’s notes from one of the characters.
Dutch Babies From the kitchen of Sylvia Jordan This big puffy pancake was Claire’s favorite Sunday breakfast. She thought it was magic the way it puffed up in the oven, but was always a little sad when it deflated. It’s the same basic recipe as for Yorkshire Pudding or Popovers. I think the original came from Betty Crocker, but I adapted it for the high altitude of Carson City, Nevada by adding more eggs. For breakfast, serve it with syrup, jam, fresh berries or applesauce. A dollop of whipped cream or yogurt doesn’t hurt.
¼ cup vegetable oil or butter (or combination)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
4 eggs (2 at lower elevation)
Preheat oven temperature to 450°F (425°F for a glass pan.) Place oil and/or butter in 9-inch square pan or cast iron skillet. Put pan in oven and heat until hot. Meanwhile, beat flour, milk, salt and the eggs with wire whisk just until smooth. Pour batter into hot pan of oil. Bake 18 to 23 minutes or puffy and golden brown. Cut into squares or wedges.