Grandma Sue’s Sweet and Sour Sauce

My mom used this sauce on country style pork ribs. Her recipe specifies not to buy the shoulder cut because it’s tough. She browned the ribs in an electric skillet (my husband’s mom also loved to use an electric skillet. It must have been a 1960s thing) and then cooked them the rest of the way with the sauce on.

There were times when every window in our house was open in a, mostly, futile effort to rid us of acrid smoke when the ribs weren’t quite fully cooked but the sauce was already burning. Whether this was a consequence of a too-hot electric skillet, inattention, or a logistical planning mishap, I disenjoyed it so much that I fully cook my pork separately and add the sauce on later. It works for ribs, as a dipping sauce, or on shredded pork (leftover from a roast) served over rice. No burning or smoke involved!

My mom’s original recipe includes most of one side of an index card of cautions and caveats about evaporation, adding water, frequent checking, the variability of cook times, and methods for determining whether the pork was fully cooked (she never used a meat thermometer–who needs such fancy things?). ¬†That was my mom. She flew by the seat of her pants, even when she was cooking ribs. I loved her so. ūüôā Scans of her original recipe are below.

Grandma Sue's Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Servings: n/a
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp sugar
  • 5 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp chopped garlic
  • pepper (white or black) to taste

Preparation:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and reduce sauce to desired consistency.
  3. Serve as a dipping sauce, or brush onto pork ribs 5 to 15 minutes before they finish cooking, or combine with pre-cooked shredded pork in a large skillet and brown-up over medium to high heat.
  4. Enjoy!

Sandee’s (Authentic 1970s Hippy) Granola

My parents owned a fabric store called the “Polyester Palace” in Redlands, California during the early 1970s, back when making your own clothes was still considered groovy and I was just a wee nipper. The gas crunch and spiraling cost of synthetic fabric production, among other factors, led to the demise of it and a sister store in Yucca Valley (how I hated the drive out to that hell-hole of a desert every day!). One of their customers, Sandee, and my mom discovered their mutual love of health foods and raw vegetable juices, so Sandee graciously shared her homemade granola recipe with my mom. Its sugar content was a wonderful change from my steady diet of raw veg juice, Ruskets, and whatever unsweetened cereal mom found in the Loma Linda SDA stores. I ate this stuff like ice cream because, well, there was no ice cream in our house.

I have been looking for this recipe for years and my daughter recently located it, tucked away in one of my mom’s metal tins. It ain’t like today’s convenient panoply of granola offerings that you can pick up at your local grocery store. It has a groovy, early 1970s, earthy aesthetic, but it sure brings back childhood memories for me.

Sandee's Granola

  • Servings: 8 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of rolled oats
  • 2 cups chopped nuts
  • 1 cup weat flour
  • 1/2 cup mixed flours (soy, rye, wheat germ, Brewer’s yeast, etc.)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup oil (I would guess at that time whatever passed for “vegetable” oil)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup water

Preparation:

  1. Combine dry ingredients.
  2. Add oil slowly mixing well.
  3. Add water [mixing thoroughly].
  4. Sprinkle mixture onto greased cookie sheet [or parchment paper].
  5. Bake 4 hours at 200′ or until golden brown.
  6. Serve dry as a quick snack or with milk or applesauce for a breakfast cereal.
  7. [Cool completely and then store in container or zippy bag until use].
  8. Enjoy!

Aunt Carol’s Lefsa

Norwegian lefse is probably one of those food items that has many variations and whichever one you grew up eating is the “right” recipe. Other recipes just don’t taste quite like you expect. My Aunt Carol toiled for days to make her holiday feasts and her lefse was the centerpiece that knit every other item together. This is her recipe, cut down for everyday use.

Aunt Carol's Lefsa

  • Servings: 8 servings
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of mashed potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 3 tsp heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup flour
  • salt to taste

Preparation:

  1. Combine all ingredients. Go easy on the salt. Knead to form a ball.
  2. Heat griddle to 400′ or cast iron skillet to medium-high heat (about 8 on electric stoves).
  3. Grab a ping pong ball sized ball of dough.
  4. Using a floured pastry cloth and roller cover, roll out dough ball to 1/8″ thick round.
  5. Cook on griddle until lightly browned spots appear.
  6. Place each cooked lefse on a barely damp cloth and cover with a barely damp cloth.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

 

Grandma Sue’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Grandma Sue's Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

  • Servings: 6 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 20 oz can pineapple rings
  • maraschino cherries
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 325′.
  2. Place 1/2 cup of butter in medium sized cast iron skillet, dutch oven, or glass baking dish and place in oven until melted. Remove from oven.
  3. Add 3/4 cup brown sugar to melted butter and mix.
  4. Arrange pineapple slices in a single layer on top of butter and sugar mixture.
  5. Place maraschino cherries into holes of pineapple rings.
  6. Beat 2 eggs in a mixing bowl.
  7. Mix in 6 Tbsp pineapple juice.
  8. Mix in 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  9. Mix in 2/3 cup sugar.
  10. Mix in 1 cup flour and thoroughly combine all ingredients in batter.
  11. Spoon batter into pan with pineapple rings and spread to cover fruit.
  12. Place pan into 325′ oven and bake about 45 minutes.
  13. Remove from oven.
  14. Let cool for 3 to 5 minutes, then invert over a large sheet of parchment paper placed atop a cutting board.
  15. Enjoy!

Betty Crocker Bake-It-Easy 2 BC-1692 bread machine instruction manual and recipes

Here is the instruction manual for the Betty Crocker Bake-It-Easy 2 BC-1692 in pdf format.

Betty Crocker Bake-It-Easy 2 BC-1692 bread machine instruction manual 

And here is a scan of the Betty Crocker Bake-It-Easy 2 recipe book in pdf format:

Betty_Crocker_Bake-It-Easy_2_recipes

I inherited my mom’s bread machine, but misplaced the instruction manual. I spent a few hours trying to locate a copy online to no avail. While searching I noticed that other people were also looking for the manual. My daughter located the manual and the recipe booklet in one of my mom’s tin boxes, so I decided to scan the manual in for posterity.

I read in a comment elsewhere that General Mills was the manufacturer of this bread machine and might still have a few old copies of the manual they might be willing to send out. You may want to try contacting them by phone if you want the original manual.

If anyone wants the accompanying recipe booklet scanned in as well please let me know here in a comment.

Happy bread making! ūüôā

Snappy ginger cookies

Snappy ginger cookies

  • Servings: 10 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 3 Tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon white (or black) pepper
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons cardamom
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups flour

Preparation:

  1. Add all ingredients except flour into a large bowl and combine until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Add in the flour one cup at a time and thoroughly mix.
  3. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Using a butter or cookie scoop or melon baller (easiest and cleanest) or spoon (messy) drop cookies onto parchment paper at least one inch apart.
  5. ¬†Bake at 350′ for 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are browned and no longer gooey in the middle.
  6. Serve.
  7. Cookies may be kept in refrigerator for a week or so, but should be allowed to return to room temperature before eating.

Actual bananas custard

When my husband was an toddler¬†his pediatrician forbade¬†his mother from feeding him any more¬†bananas, due to unexpected¬†weight gain. I guess he really never lost his taste for¬†bananas. And, really, has never looked happier than I saw him tonight dipping my “Too-damned-many-bananas banana bread” into this banana custard. Oh sure, maybe when a kid or two were born and possibly our wedding (I don’t honestly know about that¬†personally because I was on the verge of passing out with terror the whole time, but I’ve seen photos), he may have looked happier. He described the experience as “bananatopia.” I think that says it all. Anyway, so far, our general practitioner hasn’t pulled me aside and insisted I deprive him of bananas.

Actual bananas custard

  • Servings: 8 servings
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients:

  • 6¬†ripe bananas
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground vanilla bean (or vanilla paste¬†or¬†extract)
  • 3¬†eggs

Preparation:

  1. Peel 6 ripe bananas and liquefy in a mixer or food processor.
  2. Add in 2 cups of milk and combine.
  3. Strain resulting mixture through a medium or fine strainer into a pitcher or large bowl.
  4. Discard remaining banana pulp in strainer.
  5. Return banana and milk mixture to mixer or processor.
  6. Add in 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons vanilla and thoroughly combine.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 whole eggs and set aside.
  8. Place banana mixture into a medium or large saucepan.
  9. Constantly, or at least frequently,¬†stir over medium heat (6.5 on my electric, ceramic top stove)¬†until mixture reaches at least 170′, or boils. Use a cooking thermometer to check temperature.
  10. Reduce heat to low.
  11. Spoon about a cup of the hot banana mixture into the bowl of eggs and combine. Now pour the egg and milk mixture into the saucepan. Tempering the eggs with the heated banana and milk mixture keeps the eggs from instantly cooking into appalling egg blobs or streaks when they hit the hot custard. Adding eggs now, rather than at step #6, probably prevents the eggs going grainy or lumpy, but you could live carelessly.
  12. Cook over low heat, stirring often, possibly constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the custard begins to thicken. Do not cook above 180′. Over 185′ the custard may curdle.
  13. Pour into individual serving cups or large bowl.
  14. Serve warm or chilled.

Notes: This recipe was adapted from a number of sources; however, the two most influential recipes were “Jen’s Favorite Cookies” Banana Pudding recipe and “Epicurious'” Creme Anglais recipe. ¬†“Crafty Baking’s” Custard Problems and Solutions was invaluable for determining that, no, I really did not want to mix cornstarch and eggs in a banana custard. You could use 5 or 6¬†egg yolks instead of the 3 whole eggs. I didn’t because a) I wanted a more jelly-like custard, ¬†b) I am incredibly lazy, c) I am shockingly cheap¬†tight¬†thrifty¬†economical, and d) if I tried to store egg whites in my fridge there is a 100% likelihood that they would spill everywhere even if I put them in a hermetically sealed jar, inside a locked pirate trunk, and I swallowed the key.

Too-damned-many-bananas banana bread

IMG_20151028_185953Since I have come to grips with the fact that Allrecipes may, in fact, never publish my recipe submission and because my husband has access to an ongoing supply of very ripe, inexpensive bananas I present here a recipe that uses 5 bananas per each 9″ x 5″ bread loaf. Though not as visually pleasing as drier breads I think this is made up for by the flavor and texture. And toasting helps, of course.

The flavor and mouth-feel reminds me of a banana pudding, but it maintains its cohesion as a bread and is pretty marvelous toasted with butter. How this recipe worked, I don’t know, but it does. I read a lot of recipes trying to find one that used 5 or 6 bananas per loaf that wasn’t a soggy mess and most, maybe all, seemed to have a lot of ingredients and/or a whole lot of steps. I just couldn’t see going through all that for a loaf or two of banana bread. I’m really stuck on the concept that¬†simplest and most efficient approach is also the most elegant and durable, in life and in cooking.

Too-damned-many-bananas banana bread

  • Servings: 2 9
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 10 very ripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground vanilla bean (or substitute vanilla paste, or, in a pinch, extract)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350′.
  2. Grease two 9″ by 5″ bread loaf pans. I use a canola oil spray.
  3. Line a sturdy baking sheet with tin foil or parchment.
  4. Peel and dice bananas into mixer bowl.
  5. Starting mixer on low speed, blend bananas until smooth.
  6. Add baking soda, salt, and vanilla to bowl and combine.
  7. Add eggs and blend until thoroughly combined.
  8. Add sugar and combine.
  9. Add nuts now if you intend to use them.
  10. Add 1 cup of flour at a time, mixing until thoroughly combined.
  11. Pour equal amounts of batter into each loaf pan.
  12. Place loaf pans on baking sheet.
  13. Bake in oven at 350′ for about 70 minutes, or until loaves are set firm, browned, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. I get a perfect loaf at exactly 75 minutes in my current¬†oven. You may need to tent your loaves with tin foil to prevent them from getting too dark, depending upon your oven.
  14. Cool about 15 minutes.
  15. Invert loaf pan to remove banana bread.
  16. Slice and serve warm with a light topping of butter.

Notes:

I like to use ground vanilla beans because they don’t add any fluid to a recipe and they provide a distinct and beautiful flavor during longer baking processes. ¬†Many recipes use butter, oil, or various dairy products to create a moist loaf. The bananas have so much moisture that the trick here is to not compound that¬†problem by adding in more. My family puts enough butter on the finished product that I am afraid to add any more to the batter.

You can also substitute fresh sliced or diced apples in this recipe (about 4 cups), with some ginger and cardamom or cinnamon, and a cup of pecans and the recipe still works just fine. I found this out when our apple tree finally had a bumper crop and I was willing to try almost anything to not waste them. Cider and applesauce are easier, but apple-pecan bread is a real treat.

 

Quick buttery curry chickeny pasta in the microwave

I’ve only made this quick, delicious treat a couple of times¬†and¬†the optimal cook time for the pasta is¬†yet to be determined. I would guess it is between 12 and 15 minutes, depending on the microwave.

Quick buttery curry chickeny pasta in the microwave

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh yellow or white onion
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons chicken broth base powder
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pre-cooked chicken (or other protein source¬†of choice)
  • 1 cup orzo pasta (these are the small, almond-shaped pastas used¬†in Rice-a-roni)
  • 2 cups water
  • Optionally, add peas or carrot slices

Preparation:

  1. Place 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped onion and 3 Tablespoons butter in microwave safe bowl
  2. Microwave onions on high for 1 minute. Stir and cook 1 or more additional minutes, as desired, in 1 minute increments.
  3. Remove bowl from microwave onto heat-safe surface.
  4. If using a glass bowl please let it cool down before adding cold water. The change in temperature can cause the glass to shatter in a spectacular and dangerous manner.
  5. Stir in 4 teaspoons chicken broth powder, 2 teaspoons curry powder, 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pre-cooked chicken, and 1 cup orzo pasta.
  6. Stir in 2 cups of water. (Make sure glass bowls have cooled before adding!)
  7. Place a plate over the top of your bowl.
  8. Microwave on high for about 12 minutes and check. Microwave ovens vary in how quickly they cook food. Better safe than sorry. If you added more chicken, the corn and/ or peas then cooking time will be longer, up to about 22 minutes.
  9. Using hot pads, remove bowl from microwave, remove plate, stir, and check pasta for done-ness. The water should be absorbed, the pasta plump, and you should be able to easily cut an orzo piece in half with a fork or spoon. Stir.
  10. Cook additional minutes, as needed, up to about 22 minutes total cook time, or until water is all absorbed and orzo is plump and tender.
  11. Using hot pads, remove bowl from microwave and allow to sit, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes.
  12. Eat it up; yum!

Notes:

Normally I don’t suggest any particular brand of any product, but here I make an exception. After many years of trying different curry powders and powdered chicken broth bases I happened across two that I like immensely: Sun Brand Madras curry powder, by Merwanjee Poonjiajee & Sons Private Ltd, which I initially found at Safeway but my husband now buys it for me in bulk online,¬†and Orrington Farms Chicken Broth Base and Seasoning, which I found at our local Walmart.

The Sun Brand curry powder has a pleasant, gentle yet complex, warm combo of spices that blend and compliment each other, without one or two dominating the others and that is amenable to a variety of dishes. Their use of ginger is¬†ginger and the fenugreek is discernible, but not overpowering. ¬†A favorite curry powder is a highly subjective and personal matter, but if you haven’t tried the Sun Madras it is worth a try. It eclipsed my previous favorite by several magnitudes of enjoyment. As to the Orrington Farms chicken broth, I haven’t tried their other products, but the chicken plainly tastes like the broth I get when I cook chicken and isn’t hiding behind a bunch of salt or filler. It’s the first and only powdered chicken broth I’ve ever tried that I would willingly eat by itself as a cup of soup. I receive no product, compensation, or consideration for these product endorsements, but I’d be totally willing to do so. ūüôā

Desiccated Banana Bread

Desiccated Banana Bread

  • Difficulty: moderate
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banana bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (extract, paste, or ground beans)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2¬†cups sugar (brown or white sugar)
  • 1 cup very soft butter
  • 3 cups flour

Preparation:

  1. Peel 4 bananas and place whole into microwavable bowl. Loosely cover bowl with glass or china plate.
  2. To release the liquid from the bananas you will microwave bananas for a total of 5 minutes on the highest setting. Microwave in 1 minute increments, checking that the liquid is not boiling over the top of the bowl. Use oven mitts to remove from microwave. Let bananas cool before proceeding.
  3. Separate banana pieces from banana liquids (between 1/4 and 1/2 cup). You will not be using the liquids for this recipe.
  4. Mash bananas with fork and separate larger pieces.
  5. Using a mixer, place bananas in bowl and blend on low speed.
  6. Add in 4 eggs and combine.
  7. Add in 2 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar, 1 tsp. salt, and 2 tsp. vanilla and combine.
  8. Add in 1 cup sour cream and combine.
  9. Add in 2 cups sugar and combine.
  10. Add in 1 cup softened butter and combine.
  11. Add in 3 cups of flour, one cup at a time, and combine thoroughly.
  12. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 1 to 2 minutes.
  13. Preheat oven to 350′.
  14. Grease two  9 inch by 5 inch bread loaf pans.
  15. Pour and scrape equal amounts of batter into each loaf pan.
  16. Line a cookie tray with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  17. Place loaf pans on lined cookie tray (prevents oven spills if batter overflows loaf pans).
  18. Bake in oven at 350′ for 60 minutes.¬†Check loaf for doneness (see #20).
  19. Cover with foil or paper if needed to prevent top of loaf getting too dark and bake¬†15 more minutes at 350′. Check for doneness (see #20).
  20. Bake additional time, as needed, until bread loaf is firm and a toothpick inserted into the middle of loaf comes out clean, indicating loaf is done baking.
  21. Cool 15 minutes before removing bread from loaf pan.
  22. Cool loaf completely, about 1 hour, before storing in plastic bag or wrap to prevent trapped excess humidity from causing mold.
  23. Store in refrigerator for longest shelf life.

You may want to use your leftover banana juice for adult beverages, drink it plain, or allow adventurous pets to enjoy that banana-ey goodness.

Notes:

This recipe is a hybrid of traditional banana bread recipes and the microwave method innovated by Andrea Geary in her article titled, “Ultimate Banana Bread,” which appeared in the “Cook’s Illustrated” magazine, “All-Time Best Bread Recipes.” Dec. 2014.

Reducing the amount of fluid from the bananas intensifies the banana flavor, reduces overall cooking time, and creates a firmer, more cohesive loaf.

I use vanilla paste because my sweet husband bought me a giant container of the stuff, but pure vanilla extract or dry, ground vanilla beans will also work just fine because of the butter content and baking time.

I write my recipes with the ingredients listed in the order in which they are used and with detailed instructions that my kids can follow and check off, item-by-item, as they proceed through a recipe. The experienced cook may find them unnecessarily specific.