Mincemeat Enjoys a Storied Past, by Marilyn Ostermiller.

“Would you like a mincemeat cookie?”

When I offer holiday guests a platter of fresh baked mincemeat cookies, I’ve come to expect one of two responses, happy or sorta queasy.

It’s understandable. Minced meat and cookies aren’t a famous pairing, like peanut butter and jelly, or cheese and crackers.

 

Mincemeat can be traced back to Medieval Times in Europe. Back then, it was a way to preserve food without refrigeration. Finely chopped lamb was mixed with dried fruits, sugar and vinegar to keep it from spoiling.

 

A tradition evolved that tied mincemeat pie to Christmas. The pie crust was rectangular, like the manger in Bethlehem. It was filled with mincemeat and a small replica of baby Jesus rested on the filling. A sprinkling of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg symbolized the gifts of the Magi. 

 

Over the years, the meat — finely chopped beef became popular — gradually began to be supplanted with preserved fruits, and sweeteners.

Crosse & Blackwell Rum & Brady Mincemeat Filling & Topping ~ 1 count ~ 29 oz jar

Today’s mincemeat is made mostly from preserved fruits. The brand I prefer doesn’t have a trace of meat or suet. Instead, it’s made with apples, raisins, and orange peel, mixed with corn syrup, vinegar, cornstarch, spices and salt. Some other brands still include beef and suet. Some are spiked with brandy or rum.

While I take the shortcut of prepared mincemeat, two of the cookbooks that will guide more adventurous cooks through the steps to make theirs from scratch include:

  • The Forgotten Arts: Making Old-Fashioned Pickles, Relishes, Chutneys, Sauces and Catsups, Mincemeats, Beverages and Syrups (Yesterday’s Skills Adapted to keywords=Mincemeat+recipes&qid=1571846370&s=books&sr=1-1
  • Preserve & Pickle Recipes (Preserve & Pickle Recipes : With these Fruit Cheeses, Curds, Mincemeat, Conserves, Chutneys And Relishes Book 2) Written by Ana Bridge.

Like pumpkin pie and fruit cake, mincemeat pies, tarts and cookies have their season. It begins at Thanksgiving and ends at Christmas, although leftovers are fair game until New Year’s Eve.

My family favors this recipe:

mincemeat

Mincemeat Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

3 cups unsifted flour

1tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/3 cups mincemeat (I use Crosse & Blackwell brand)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar in a mixer. Add eggs, one at a time. Whisk together dry ingredients. Add gradually to the creamed mixture. Stir in mincemeat. Drop tablespoon-sized rounds of batter on a greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Makes 6 dozen.

Marilyn Ostermiller      Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist, who enjoys baking for family and friends.

 

 

What Did The White Pumpkin Say to the Orange Pumpkin?

It’s pumpkin time again…that once a year phenomenon that turns ordinary people into a frenzy of decorating for autumn. Pumpkins spring up everywhere and in everything we eat. Pumpkin latte, muffins, soup, pies, cakes, cookies, pancakes, even beer. So, in honor of the season here are a few fun facts about this popular fruit.   Pumpkins

All facts are taken from the websites listed below:

http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/food/pumpkins.html

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a22544/facts-about-pumpkins/

 

  • Pumpkins are usually orange but can sometimes be yellow, white, green or red.

  • The name pumpkin comes from the Greek word ‘pepon’, meaning ‘large melon’.

  • The word “pumpkin” showed up for the first time in the fairy tale Cinderella.

  • Scientifically speaking, pumpkins are a fruit (they contain seeds) but when it comes to cooking, they are often referred to as vegetables.

  • Pumpkins are grown on every continent except Antarctica.

  • They vary in weight but an average sized pumpkin might weigh around 13 pounds (6 kilograms).

  • Giant pumpkins can be grown for competitions, with some weighing over 1000 pounds! (450 kilograms). In 2010, the world record was 1810 pounds! That’s huge!!

  • Pumpkin plants feature both male and female flowers, with bees typically being involved in pollination (the transfer of pollen).

  • Over 1 billion pounds (450 million kgs) of pumpkin are produced in the US every year.

  • 80% of the U.S.’s pumpkin crop is available during October.

  • Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, and Omega-3 fats.
  • Pumpkin pie is a sweet dessert that originates in North America and is traditionally eaten during harvest time and holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  • Every single part of a pumpkin is edible.

    Yep, you can eat the skin, leaves, flowers, pulp, seeds, and even the stem!

  • Pumpkins are popular decorations during Halloween. A carved pumpkin illuminated by candles is known as a ‘jack-o-lantern’. The tradition is believed to have come from Ireland, where they used to carve faces into turnips, beet and other root vegetables as part of the Gaelic festival of Samhain.

  • The largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 3,699 pounds.

People taste 13 October 2007, the bigges

So…what did the white pumpkin say to the orange pumpkin?

ans: I’m looking a little pale, think I should eat some carrots?

Hey, if you’ve got a better PUMPKIN JOKE, bring it on!

 

Celebrate National Macaroni and Cheese Day With Phil, Jim, and Harry.

Did you know that Sunday, July 14th is NATIONAL MACARONI AND CHEESE DAY? I think it’s fitting to have a special day for such an iconic food. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love some form of this dish? Many of us grew up with that orange-staple-in-a-box and survived college eating it. Just about every restaurant has some kind of mac & cheese on its menu. And, I’m sure we all have our favorites.

To celebrate the day, I am giving away a copy of the delightful PB by Robin Newman titled NO PEACOCKS, where peacocks Phil, Jim, and Harry set out to sample the local school’s world famous mac & cheese.

No Peacocks!: A Feathered Tale of Three Mischievous Foodies

To enter for a chance to win, please share what you think is the best macaroni and cheese ingredient ever. The one special thing you add to your recipe that elevates it to new heights. I will put your name in my hat and draw one random entry for the give-away.

Enjoy the day, and may all your macaroni and cheese be DELICIOUS!

2016

Memorial Day Activities

Since Memorial Day Weekend is the official start of summer, that usually means more time outdoors and lots of outdoor eating. If you’re going to a picnic this weekend, here are a few simple games, activities and food ideas to help win the day.                      patriotic-dove

MAKE PATRIOTIC NECKLACES using red, white, and blue straws cut into one inch sections. String them onto a piece of yarn and everyone looks ready for a parade or backyard barbeque.

Try frozen STRAWBERRY POPS to cool off after a fun day in the sun. Wash and remove the stems from a quart of strawberries. Toss them in a blender and add a splash of orange or grape juice.  Puree until smooth. Pour into small paper cups. Place a popsicle stick in each one and freeze until firm. Peel away the paper and they’re ready to eat.

At the next family reunion, have the kids dress up in red, white, and blue and have a backyard parade. You can decorate wagons and bikes, and play some peppy marching band music to add to the festivities. Adults can join in and everyone can “perform” by doing whatever they’re good at: acrobatics, card tricks, puppet show, singing, dancing, telling corny jokes.  Getting everyone – young and old – involved adds to the fun.

While you are celebrating, remember those brave and selfless men and women in uniform who gave their lives  to keep our country free.

Happy Memorial Day.

Let’s Scream For FREE…Ice Cream!

On TUESDAY, MAY 14, 2019, Haagen-Dazs will be giving out FREE ice cream cones between the hours of 4 and 8PM across the US.  You can have your favorite flavor or try one of their new options such as Irish Cream Brownie, or Bourbon Vanilla Bean Truffle.

Visit: http://www.haagendazs.us/locator  to find the shop nearest you.

ice cream

Sandwiches That Stood the Test of Time, by Marilyn Ostermiller.

Here’s another post in my ongoing series about the various aspects and methods of conducting historical research when we write. This one, from my friend and frequent contributor to this blog, MARILYN OSTERMILLER, has a wonderfully unique twist: it’s about sandwiches of yesteryear.

“The greatest thing since sliced bread” is a saying that doesn’t make much sense these days, when sliced bread is in every supermarket. But, in the 1920s it marked a turning point in the average kitchen when a machine was invented that could slice and wrap bread. It meant children could safely make their own sandwiches. There was no longer any concern they would cut themselves trying to slice a whole loaf of bread with a sharp knife for the newly popular peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

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Another classic sandwich introduced in1920s is The Hot Brown, a toasted, open-face turkey sandwich with bacon, tomato and a delicate cheesy cream sauce. In the 1920s, the Brown Hotel  in Louisville, Ky. often drew crowds of more than 1,000 people, who kicked up their heels dancing until dawn, then wandered into the restaurant for something to eat. The chef set out to create something new to tickle their taste buds.

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Here’s the recipe https://www.brownhotel.com/dining/hot-brown

It remains popular: The Food Network’s show, Throwdown featured the Hot Brown as a food challenge for Bobby Flay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJben7ZTHh8

The Philadelphia Cheese Steak, made its debut in the 1930s. The way the story goes, an Italian hot dog vendor in South Philly got tired of grilling hot dogs every day, so he cooked up some chopped meat, put it on  an Italian roll, dressed it with onions. In the 1940s, melted cheese was added to change it up.  https://www.patskingofsteaks.com/

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If you want to make it yourself, here’s how: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/philly-steak-sandwiches-recipe-1941027

Lobster Rolls also can be traced to that era. A Milford, Ct. restaurant named Perry’s served the first documented lobster roll in 1929. Despite this, Maine also claims bragging rights to the origin of the  lobster roll.

lobster roll sandwich

New England’s eateries still sell lots of lobster rolls, but their recipes are different. Order one in Maine, and you’re likely to get chunks of lobster meat soaked in melted butter served in a hot dog bun. However, in some parts of New England, lobster rolls are served cold, the chunks of lobster mixed with celery, lemon and mayonnaise. https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/massachusetts/articles/a-brief-history-of-the-lobster-roll/

These classic sandwiches are vastly different, but each has a loyal following passed down from generation to generation.

Next: This is the first of a two-part discussion on Classic Foods. The next installment will feature home made treats. Marilyn Ostermiller

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who delights in cooking, baking and sharing recipes.

Darlene here: I don’t know about you, but a Lobster Roll sure would taste good right about now. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SANDWICH FROM CHILDHOOD?

Almost Spring Banana Muffins.

After the dog days of winter, I am anxious to get outside and participate in the rebirth that is SPRING. Despite the calendar saying it is officially spring on 3-21, we all know it usually comes of its own accord. There are signs already, here in NJ.

spring

But, we all know March is a month where anything can happen. So, while you and your kids await the days when we can go outside with just a jacket on, why not gather them together for an easy baking session? Instead of throwing out those over-ripe bananas, make up a batch of BANANA MUFFINS or BANANA BREAD.Just mash three bananas with a fork as shown below:

muff 1

The follow my well-worn and foolproof recipe. I used chopped walnuts, but you can try almonds also. You can even throw in some mini chocolate morsels.

muff2

The recipe makes 2 loaves or 18 muffins. Serve them up with your favorite beverage and the wait for spring will be a delicious one.

muff3