Once You Get a hold of Yeast…Make Fool-Proof Soft Pretzels.

I’ve made these soft pretzels with developmentally delayed Pre-K classes for years and have never had an instance when they didn’t turn out well.  The only prep needed are clean hands, a sheet of waxed paper for each student, and an oven. ( I used a toaster oven in the classroom and they turned out great.)

SOFT PRETZELS: 1 pk. yeast,  4 C. flour ( I use 1 C. whole wheat, 3 C. regular),  1 1/2 C. warm water,  1 T. sugar,   1 T. salt,   1 egg beaten for glaze,  poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt, Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

1. Mix yeast, water, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

2. Stir in flour. Knead until smooth. Here comes the fun part. Give each child a glob of dough to roll and shape into the first letter of his/her name.  This will ensure that each child gets his own pretzel when it comes out of the oven.  Once they are shaped and placed on a cookie sheet, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice.

3. Bake at 425 degrees for 15- 18 minutes, or until lightly browned. They may look crazy, but they will taste great. Guaranteed! The texture is like a bagel and it’s hard to eat just one.

Enjoy, and let me know how it goes. I’d love to see the results.

Cooking With Kids 101.

Since we’re all indoors and the kids are virtual students, one skill you can teach them now that you have some time is cooking. Cooking is a life skill and something important we can share with our children. From my experience as a parent and teacher, kids love to mix, stir, beat eggs, chop, slice, and dice vegetables and bake muffins and cookies. Children are also more likely to eat foods they’ve helped make.

So, roll up your sleeves and get started with some of these kid-friendly sites filled with recipes and tips for every taste.  Make some cooking memories!

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/15-fun-and-healthy-recipes-for-parents-cook-with-their-kids.html

https://www.parents.com/recipes/cooking/with-kids/

https://www.justonecookbook.com/easy-recipes-to-cook-with-kids/

easy recipes for kids to make

https://www.parents.com/recipes/cooking/with-kids/21-ways-to-make-cooking-with-kids-more-fun/

 

National Pancake Day…Make Pancakes For Supper!

Tomorrow (March 12) is National Pancake Day, so why not celebrate this iconic food by serving it up for dinner? Give the kids a thrill from the ordinary dinner time menu and make pancakes for supper. There are many recipes out there, and Aunt Jemima makes a mix that passes the YUM test.

In my new book WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY, 11 year-old Jack takes his 4 year-old sister Katy fishing for the first time. When they catch a one-eyed fish,  Jack tells Katy it’s a magic fish that grants wishes. Read the poems to find out what this has to do with PANCAKES:

FRED
After lunch I’m ready to leave.
No fish today, let’s go, I say.

Maybe the fish don’t like worms.
Maybe they’re veterinarians, Katy says.
She means vegetarians because
she hands me a grape and says
put it on the hook, Jack, please?
Can you sit without making a sound,
quiet as a stone?
She puts a finger to her lips, Shhhhh.
I hook the grape, toss the line,
hand the rod to Katy.
Before I settle onto the grass,
the line gives a tug.
Too heavy for me, I can’t do it, Jack.
I grab the rod and pull a fish out,
a fish with one eye.
It’s Fred, I tell her.
Katy strokes Fred’s tail with a pinkie.
A special fish, I say.
Like magic special?
Katy’s two eyes as wide as Fred’s one.
Don’t know, I say.
Katy frowns, so I say,
make a wish, quick before Fred goes back.
Pancakes for supper! she wishes,
kissing Fred on the tail.
Pancakes, I agree. As I slip
Fred into the water, he seems to
wink his eye before he swims away.

TRUE
It’s true, it’s true,
Katy sings when we sit down to eat
towers of pancakes, stacked on plates,
waiting for butter and syrup.
What’s true? Mom asks.
Fred
Is
Magic.
Katy says each word
licking syrup off a spoon,
eyes closed like she is having the
best
day
ever.

As I tell them about the one-eyed
fish and Katy’s wish, can they hear
my heart banging? Do they see
the zinging jolts of electricity
running through me?
Gran smiles and says,
I woke up wondering what to cook
for supper today, and right after lunch
a little voice in my head
told me to make pancakes.
Isn’t that funny?
Funny, says Pops.
Funny, agrees Mom.

There’s something
funny
strange
weird
that makes me wonder,
did Fred the one-eyed fish
grant Katy’s wish?
And if he did,
do I
can I
why shouldn’t I
make a wish?
The only wish worth wishing.
First I need to find out
how this wishing thing works.

 

pancakes on a griddle

You don’t have to wish for pancakes. Here’s one of my favorite scratch recipes:

MULTIGRAIN PANCAKES

1/4 c FLOUR        1/4 c WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR       1/4 c OATS

1 T BROWN SUGAR        1 T WHEAT GERM              1 tsp BAKING POWDER

1 EGG, beaten               1/2 c + 2 T MILK            2 T VEGETABLE OIL

Combine dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until moist. Pour onto greased griddle. Serve with your favorite toppings.

Happy Pancake Day!  Everyone loves pancakes, right?

squirrel pancake

 

 

 

You Choose Nachos

I don’t know about you, but this time of year, when skies are more grey than any other color, I tend to want to eat comfort food. Each of us has his own favorites, and one of mine is NACHOS.

But I’m way beyond the chips and cheese version. I add whatever I have handy and this recent version was a winner.

nachos

If you’d like to replicate the recipe, here it is:  black beans, chopped black olives, avocado chunks, tomatoes, chopped kale, shredded Asiago and cheddar cheeses.

You can add whatever you like to make a snack into a meal.  Very satisfying, and filled with vitamins, so even a comfort food snack can be good for you.  Just don’t overdo the cheese.

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.

file000626385317

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.

header internal image

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/

file0001058261455

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?