I like to make food that is:
a. from scratch
b. reasonably simple
c. solid and filling
d. reasonably affordable
e. tasty, but I don't shoot for exquisite
I tend to make the kinds of recipes your grandma could have made blindfolded.
You won't find me adding Mediterranean figs or Dead Sea Salt or che guevara cheese*.
I've also learned: Don't explain and apologize for the lumpy mashed potatoes or the almost-burned buns.
Sunday was Easter which calls for a big dinner, but we had only two children at home which makes it feel a bit silly to make ham and mashed potatoes and gravy and corn and dinner rolls and carrot cake. So we invited eight other people. Frances brought a tossed salad. I had two big hams in the oven all morning, and the mashed potatoes in a Crock Pot.
Everything was yummy if I say so myself.
Here's my go-to dinner roll/butterhorn recipe. Some people don't like all the fiddly steps at different times but I like that part of it. Less overwhelming the day of.
The night before:
Dissolve 1 T. yeast
and 1 T. sugar
in 1 cup warm water
Cream together: 3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 t. salt
1/2 cup sugar
Add yeast mixture.
Add 4 1/2 cups white flour
[Or 2 cups whole wheat/ 2 1/2 cups white]
Set in the fridge overnight.
The morning of:
Divide dough in two.
Roll each chunk into a circle on the counter.
Brush with melted butter if you have time.
Cut each circle like a pizza, into 16 wedges.
Roll up each wedge, starting with the wide end.
Set on a greased cookie sheet.
Go to church. And Sunday school.
Visit a while afterwards.
Come home from church.
Bake the buns at 350 for 15 minutes.
Variation for when the youth group comes over: when you roll out and cut the dough, lay 3 slices of pepperoni and 1/2 a mozzarella cheese stick on each wedge. Roll up. Bake. Serve with little cups of marinara sauce.
One of our Sunday guests was Jenny's cousin and sidekick Allison, who spent the afternoon and night here in honor of Jenny's birthday on Monday.
Since the school kids bring a treat on their birthdays, Jenny and Alli decided to make monster cookies on Sunday evening to take to school Monday.
|Allison and Jenny: available to clean or babysit for you, but maybe not to bake cookies.|
"How much flour??"
"There's no flour in this recipe!"
The first pan of monster cookies oozed like a mud flow all over the pan. They added flour. The second pan was almost as bad.
They gave up. "I think the peanut butter was weird," Jenny announced confidently and a bit accusingly, because I had told them which jar to use--this slightly-old "natural" [aka "weird"] stuff.
The mixing bowl went into the fridge for me to bake up later. We bought ice cream bars to take to school.
I finally baked the cookies today. The dough was incredibly sticky and heavy, like a science experiment illustrating a liquid with high viscosity. Like corn syrup.
This evening I asked Jenny, "How much corn syrup did you and Allison put into the cookie dough?"
She said, "I don't know. Whatever the recipe said. A cup and a half I think."
The recipe called for one and a half teaspoons.
Mix: 1 cup/2 sticks butter
2 1/3 c. brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
Add: 2 1/2 cups Jif-quality peanut butter
1 1/2 t. vanilla
Add 1 1/2 t. (!) light corn syrup
4 t. baking soda
Stir in: 9 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup M & Ms
Bake 12 minutes at 350.
On Tuesday it was my turn to supply a hot lunch at school. Each mom is responsible for doing this once a year, which doesn't sound like so much until you realize it means singlehandedly feeding 50 people. The other option is to partner with another mom and do it twice, but when we're signing up at the beginning of the year, it always sounds easier to do it once and get it over with.
So I fried up 16 pounds of hamburger to make sloppy joes, and made a big vish of potato salad, and 49 whoopie pies, and I bought potato chips at Costco and also way too many fresh veggies as it turned out, and I also made 4 gallons of iced tea, and set out pickles and sliced cheese.
"Are you going to get some other moms to help you make whoopie pies?" asked Jenny mysteriously, the day before. I said, "Huh??"
I finally figured out she was referring to my comparison of matching the top and bottom cookies to matchmaking eligible young men and women in my life, and how I've threatened to get together with other moms to facilitate this among our young-adult children.
I made two different batches of whoopie pie filling and I can't decide which one tastes most like the filling Ought to Taste. Batch A used butter, powdered sugar, marshmallow creme, and vanilla.
Batch B used milk cooked with corn starch then cooled down and whipped with shortening, butter, and granulated sugar. I think there's also an Option C out there, a recipe that involves egg whites.
My question for you, my reader experts: which one is the most authentic?
Here's the recipe for the first batch of cookies:
Mix 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups sugar
Add 1 T. vanilla
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
6 cups flour
4 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. salt
Scoop onto greased baking sheets.
Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.
Pair up the cookies and put filling in between.
1 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups marshmallow creme
2 t. vanilla
There were enough leftovers from the school lunch to provide supper for a widower who lives near school and also a pregnant friend's little family and also us.
Today was our monthly Girls for God Club meeting. 15 girls came. The plan was to go tour the local pregnancy center and deliver the blankets and hats we made last month, then go back to church and make individual pizzas and fruit cobblers for our dinner.
We got back to church and it was locked up since I had forgotten to tell Paul to leave it unlocked when he went home after school.
Thankfully one of the moms came by to take her daughter to softball practice and she had a key.
So we went inside to start on the food. The electricity was off, not a good situation with 14 hungry girls and a big bowl of rising pizza dough.
So we assembled the pizzas and took them home to bake.
Mix: 3 T. yeast
2 cups warm water
6 T. sugar
Let it sit for a few minutes, then add:
3 cups milk
6 T. oil
1 1/2 T. salt
12 cups flour
Mix well and knead if you're ambitious.
Let it rise.
Spread into pans.
Top with pizza sauce, then grated cheese, then toppings.
Bake at 375 until the bottom is browned and the cheese is melted and the dough isn't gooey in the middle.
This is a big batch but it wasn't quite enough for all the girls to make a Wild Plum pie tin of pizza.
Meanwhile, Paul picked up sandwiches at Subway for him and Ben and Jenny, because sometimes Mennonite moms are so busy making food for everyone else that they neglect their nearest and dearest.
*yes, I made that up.
Quote of the Day:
"Do you think Jenny could feed our kitty for a few days? . . . Oh, and the kitty's name is DD. It stood for Dew Drop, because she was really little when we got her, and had this little dew drop shape on her nose. Then we took her in to get her fixed and found out she's actually a boy. So now DD stands for Daring Dude."
--a beloved neighbor