Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Toasted Coconut Marshmallow Sqiuares

 ... take one, not two ...
Today I shopped at the Coop and passed, well, I didn’t pass it, I put it in my cart – “Toasted Coconut Marshmallow Squares”.  They were  on   displayed on the top rack of those circular displays at the side of one of the main isles.

There they were ... looking just like the ones my mother used to make when I was a child. I have no memory of these tasty treats being around for more than a day. They were always fresh, and how far could they have gone with ten of us in the house. In fact, I think Wyora used to hold back the older ones to make them wait until the squares were fully set and she had dredge the still white sides of them with that final touch of cocoanut.

Enjoy reading the recipe. I am not suggesting anyone has the time to try to make it, since it takes more than 15 minutes, the generally allotted in our lives to make a full meal for five or more people.

I looked through the Johnson Family Manna From Heaven cookbook for the recipe and didn’t find it.

Thank you, Epicurious.com for giving it up to me. As well, I do remember Aunt Elmoyne Johnson saying that she always made these for Jack – they were his favorite treat. I also remember that she did layer them between piece of wax paper so that they didn’t run into one another as they sat in the container. In our house, that would have been a waste of a piece of wax paper.

Toasted-Cocoanut Marshmallow Squares


• 2 cups unsweetened dried coconut
• 3 (1/4-ounces) envelopes unflavored gelatin
• 1 cup water, divided
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 cup light corn syrup
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

• Equipment: a 9-inch square metal baking pan; a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment; a candy thermometer


Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Toast coconut in a shallow baking pan in oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 7 to 10 minutes.

Oil 9-inch baking pan, then sprinkle bottom with 1/2 cup toasted coconut.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water in bowl of mixer and let soften while making syrup.

Heat sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup water in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium heat, without stirring, washing any sugar crystals down side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Put thermometer into syrup and continue boiling, without stirring, until it registers 240°F (soft-ball stage). Remove from heat and let stand until bubbles dissipate.

With mixer at low speed, pour hot syrup into gelatin in a thin stream down side of bowl. Increase speed to high and beat until very thick, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and coconut extracts and beat 1 minute more.

Spoon marshmallow over toasted coconut in baking pan and press evenly with dampened fingertips to smooth top (it will be very sticky), then evenly sprinkle top with 1/2 cup toasted coconut.

Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, about 2 hours.

Run a sharp knife around edge of marshmallow and invert onto a cutting board. Cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips, then cut each strip into 3/4-inch squares.

Put remaining toasted coconut in a small bowl and dredge marshmallows in it to coat completely.

Cook's notes: • Marshmallow squares keep, layered between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container, in a dry place at cool room temperature 1 month. • To avoid stickiness, try to make marshmallows on a dry day.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Toasted-Coconut-Marshmallow-Squares-240939#ixzz15plCduHJ

Monday, 21 October 2013

Learning to Make Pies

I made Kelvin a pie after I was married, one of my first creative acts of cooking. We had invited over a friend to share the pie, Neil Stanford from Claresholm. A few minutes after I served the pie Kelvin asked, “Would you mind if we had a knife as well as a fork to help us eat this?”

This put me in a state of mind where when the Stake Relief Society came to our ward and asked the young married women, “What would you like us to teach you?”, mine was one of the voices that called out, “How to make pie crust.”

I can only remember two of the women’s names who came to teach us that day: Melba McMullen and Faye Pitcher. They were models of the highest kind -- women who could go home from chocolate dipping all morning, challenge each other as they went out the doors of the church to their cars in the parking lot, as to whom could sew up the best dress for the dance at night, and then both of them arrive wearing something new.

So ... teaching young women to make pie crust? A cake walk for them. They instructed us all to bring as many pie pans as we had, some pie filling, and a pound of lard. They told us to meet them Saturday morning in the church kitchen. They came armed with ten kilogram bags of flour.

We rubbed lard into dough, rolled out the pastry and I can remember Cavell Rollins saying that every pie maker has her signature on the top of the pie, so you can tell whose pie is whose when you take them to church functions. Then she showed us how to cut out piece of the upper pie crust dough so that it looked like three cherries were hanging from a string, or how to add three leaves artfully glued on the top

We all practised a pie signature – perhaps the number of vents that are cut into the top of a pie – maybe differentiated by the length or number of them, or cutting a vine design on top of the pie. I used the one my mother had always used:  3 cuts to let out the steam, made when the dough was folded in half -- thus, 6 cuts on the top of the pie.

The lesson on pie making was a success for no one ever asked me for a knife again when I served pie.

The art of rubbing the lard or Crisco into the flower, and the “best” recipe for the crust was permanently driven home when I watched my Aunt Erva make pies.

As a bit of history, she had been divorced. He kept the farm. She got the house in town. She had cooked on the farm for the work crews. Now, to have cash, she made pies and buns and a local cafe became the talk of Shelby, Montana when people tasted those home made products of Erva's.

Erva also made a mean fruit salad – drained fruit cocktail, pineapple and bananas that she would fold into real whipped cream. “That is too expensive, Erva, to serve us,” I heard my mother say when our family of 10 visited her in Shelby one weekend. “You be quiet, Wyora,” Erva said, and then she passed that bowl of fruit cocktail around the table again. From then on, I knew our family were royalty and would have fruit salad at Aunt Erva’s house.

 But I digress.

Yes.  Those grande dames, Melba, Faye, Cavell and Erva.  They could make pies.

Here is my pie recipe. Pick some apples off a tree. Steal them if possible, for that will make them taste better. Now why did I say steal some.  The truth is, one should take all of the apples off of the Birney Road apple tree and share them around with everyone else who wants some. An empirical experiment demonstrated that  there were enough apples left at our house from that tree, apples cored  to make 22 pies. We must have frozen some of the pies.  That is a lot to eat at one time.

Peel, core, slice, and toss with some cinnamon, a tad of flour and perhaps some nutmeg.  Add a dab of butter on top.

There must be exact proportions somewhere.

We will figure those out when we make pies out at the lake this summer.  Someone will have a good apple pie recipe.


Saturday, 19 October 2013

Brewing Beer

... old storage space taken over by beer ...
I don't really understand the importance of making ones own beer.

 But I notice an extra dose of happiness in the process that I don't find when people are doing dishes there, or mopping the floor.

... instructions on bottles ...
Men are singing, then humming,  washing bottles, pulling out well loved cooking pots, and making sure that they have all of the necessary ingredients.

I don't think I can get them to post recipes.  But I can describe the moments of taking down the hop vines and pulling off the fruit -- getting ready for beer.

... instructions on doors of back closet ...

Imagine how I laughed when I saw that my back cupboard door has an important sign on it.

Photochemical reactions make bad beer.

I asked Richard if the oversized pot at the back door was his. He said it was and that he wants that pot and bill be carrying it home.

He also said that he noticed the beer didn't get back to his place.

... all in the name of good science ...
"That is because Harry wants to keep it in the back closet where he can watch it every day and see how it turns."

OK.  That made Richard laugh.

Does this post count for sharing important recipes, even though there isn't a recipe here?


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Persian Cuisine - hamburger, eggplant and flatbread

...flat bread and sweet pepper ...
After a long day of chores I came into my house and the aroma of foreign cuisine was so delicious that I thought, please, please, don’t let those Persian boarders leave until I can cook like they can. 

I didn’t think anything more about it until a few hours later when a plate full of food from upstairs appeared at my desk down stairs. 

There was only one plate.  

... the leftovers ... not much ... the container is small ...
I didn’t realize that I didn’t share it with Kelvin. 

Later I went up to offer a little help with the dishes, since I was still in the afterglow of a meal I couldn’t have bought anywhere else.

“How did you make this, Poira?”

“Oh, I don’t have a recipe.  I just am cooking like my mom did.  A bit of this.  A handful of that.  I will tell you what I did.  If you put it up on your family food blog, then I will be able to go back and replicate it myself.”

... sweet peppers come in a small container ... sometimes ...
I grabbed a pencil and paper and began to write:

  • 800 grams hamburger
  • 3 or 4 bay leaves
  • 400 grams mixed chili beans out of a can to make things easy
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 100 grams sweet peppers (small).  These are sweeter than the larger bell peppers.
  • 2 hot peppers fresh (not Thai, not jalapeno, but small with a long shape.)
  • 1 can tomato paste


  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Add ½ cup lemon juice at the end.

1.      Fry white onion, green onions, hot peppers, meat.  Then add sweet peppers at the end as well as tomato paste and ½ glass of water.
2.      Simmer 25 minutes
3.      Cut egg plant into thin ¼ inch pieces.  Broil while chili is cooking.  Take the chili off when all of the water evaporates.  Watch the eggplant as it broils – about 5 minutes for it.  Spread some oil on the pan before you broil the eggplant.
4.      To serve, ideally you should put a bit of chili on top of the eggplant.  If you have too much chili as we did tonight, oh well, just spread it liberally over the eggplant.

Serve on any flat bread.  

With any good luck, there will be a recipe coming about how to make good flatbread.  If those two engineers (Pouria and Amir) can do it, then I think it is within my ability too.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

2 bunches of broccoli, cut up into bite size pieces
3/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 lb. bacon (about 6 strips), cut and cooked
3/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup mayonnaise
1 T. vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. parsley (add more if fresh is used)

1. Steam broccoli in microwave for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes
2. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix
3. Combine other (dry) ingredients in a large bowl
4. Pour dressing over dry ingredients and mix

Add mandarin orange slices if desired

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Hoisin Noodles

Wyona's Hoisin Noodles

Chinese Vermicelli Noodles (very thin, and get the chinese kind)

3/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1 T Honey or sugar
2 T Ketchup


Chicken, beef, or pork.

Bell peppers (green, red, and/or yellow)
Carrots (par-boiled)
Bok choy (Shred leaves by cutting really thin. Cut out middle of stalks and throw away)

Olive oil (or sesame oil, depending on the flavour you like)


Combine the sauce ingredients to make the mixed hoisin sauce.

Salt and pepper the meat. Combine the meat and some of the mixed hoisin sauce.

In a pan, bake sauced meat at 325C, turning over half-way through. You could BBQ the meat instead, your choice.

Once the meat is done cooking, continue with the rest of the cooking.

Fill a pot with very hot tap water, as hot as you can get it. Put the noodles in the pot and just leave it in the sink. The hot water will have them cooked by the time you are done stir frying.

Once the meat is cooked, take it out and slice it in strips.

Choose your veggies. Cut them into strips.

Mince ginger and garlic.

In a wok, stir fry olive oil, minced garlic and minced ginger. Add onions and stir fry for until onions are translucent. Add the harder veggies, like the bok choy stalks, carrots, green peppers, and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the rest of the veggies and the meat. Stir fry for 3 minutes. Add mixed hoisin sauce to taste. Add cooked and drained chinese vermicelli noodles, and mix it all up. Add more mixed hoisin sauce of required.

The trick to stir frying is having all your ingredients chopped and ready to add to the wok before you start stir frying. There is no time to chop, slice or mince while that wok is hot and cooking everything.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Orange Whole Wheat Bread

1 orange
1 cup water
hot water
1 c. powdered milk
2 eggs
2 TB salt
2 TB dry yeast
11-12 c. whole wheat flour
1 cup honey

page 12 ... Orange Bread
Step 1: Cut 1 orange in half and remove seeds.  Put in blender with 1 cup water and 1 c honey and blend thoroughly.  (Do not peel the orange.)  Finish filling the blender with the ot water to the 1 liter mark.  Pour into your mixing bowl.

Step 2: Combine powdered milk with 1 cup whole wheat flour before adding to moist ingredients.  Add eggs, powdered milk, salt dry yeast and 7 c. whole wheat flour and blend thoroughly.  Add 4 to 5 more c. whole what flour and knead 10 minutes. 

Step 3: Form into 4 well greased loaf pans.  Let rise until doubled in bulk.

Step 4: Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.  This recipe makes wonderful light rolls.  You may desire to make some of the dough into rolls and the rest into loaves.

Orange Bread Glaze
1 c. powdered sugar
Juice from 1 orange
Make a glaze of powdered sugar and the juice from one orange.  While the bread or rolls are piping hot, pour the glaze over them.  This is an outstanding bread.

TIP: Grease the pans with a hard shortening for best results.

Notes from Arta:
This is another good recipe.  Though we haven't talked about ordinary brown bread yet, this is just a variation on it.  I have a muffin recipe that I use for Orange Muffins from the Jean Pare's books that uses this same method: grind an orange so finely that the zest permeates the whole muffin. 

When I make this recipe, I don't add the powdered milk or the eggs unless I want to make it into buns.  Ad yes, the glaze is delicious, but I don't need those calories anymore, so I don't do that when I am just making the bread for my family.  But I wouldn't look down on anyone who puts it on their bread.  For sure, it would show that the cook cares.


Tips about Yeast

In an email, Marcia asked me if she should quit keeping her yeast in the fridge. She doesn't make bread very often so she keeps it in there. It still foams when she begins to hydrate the yeast at the beginning by mixing it with water and sugar.  She wonders if it is a mistake to  keep it cold. 

The short answer is you can keep it cool in the fridge.  That is no mistake.

I got the long answer by going out to google and asking "Why do people keep their yeast in the fridge?", even discovering a scientific explanation about the membrane around yeast and how hydration happens and where best it happens.  I don't think any of us need to know all of this about yeast.

Here is my practical advice.  I buy my yeast in the large can at Costco.  I never keep it in the fridge, but in a quart jar on my shelves. I probably do that because it keeps well for me there and my fridge space is more valuable kitchen real estate for me than my cupboards.  I might have to buy that large tin about 3 times a year.   Like you, Mary keeps her yeast in the fridge.  The instruction say keep in a cool place.  It is fine in the freezer.  It is fine in the fridge.  It is probably fine, as mine is, on my shelves as I am  making bread on a routine basis, only buying it when I run out and don't have time to make it.

Compressed Yeast
I am not suggesting a person should use this.
My mother could no longer find yeast cakes easily
and had to switch to what was easily available.
Wyora made bread all of the time with yeast cakes, now known as compressed yeast or fresh yeast.  It was like a pound of butter, but brown and crumbly and she would break a piece of it off and put it in water to start her bread.  I had forgotten about that until I was out doing that google search about yeast.  And I was reminded there, as well, that bread machines use a yeast that is broken into finer particles and is put into the bread machine last, and will dissolved in the mixture as the machine begins working.

I think the bottom line is ... you were asking if keeping the yeast cold will inhibit the rising of your dough.  Once the yeast gets bubbling / foaming -- it has long forgotten whether it was kept frozen or cold or on the shelf.  It is working for you and will make your bread rise.


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Easy Peasy Fruit Dips

Two fast dips:

Fruit Dip: Mix cool whip and yogurt (my favourite is strawberry yogurt). Good for any fruit.

Apple Dip: Mix brown sugar with softened cream cheese. Slice apples, dip, and your kids will eat 2 apples each (and have tummy aches to prove it).