Recipe Keeping – sometimes this is a pain (PITA)

How do you keep recipes? Just wondering. No pictures today, but just wondering what other people think. If you would be so inclined to respond.

I tend to print recipes (and write all over them) and keep them in several binders, then I also have a drive with folders and some are on Evernote and some on my old blog. Some I just know by heart and need nothing to make them – there are many of those. I just spent two evenings last week sorting through recipes (new and old) and along the way, I edited – looked at each recipe and think “Will I ever really make this?” Lots ended up in the recycle bin which makes me feel bad and I need to edit earlier in the process – like before printing in particular. And killing more trees. Ugh.

I wish I could develop a system that truly works for me, but using cookbooks, family recipes that I know by heart, a few magazines, recipe “ideas” (with no step by step instructions), and things found on the recipe sites I trust, and of course, other blogs. How are you supposed to keep it all straight?

My first blog and this one were a way to keep up with things, but sometimes it gets a bit out of hand. I wander around with a stack of recipes I want to try – just printed, pulled from binders, etc. Trying to make them fit into the right time of year makes it even more difficult. Ugh. I’m supposing this is a complete first world problem, but I’d like to have a set of things to pass down to the Boy and his future wife (hope I like her) and their kids. Otherwise, why are we here? You get my genetics by default, but I’d love for you to know the recipes that come from different people in our family.

Such as my spinster (yep, they used the word) Aunt Rhodie’s chow chow recipe. She was really my great aunt, my grandmother’s sister and was partially deaf (seems mostly like when she wanted to be – that’s what my grandma always said) and never married but lived with my grandmother and grandfather, but she could totally rock the chow chow.  Now the recipe makes gallons so I’ll have to down size it to make it manageable, but is it worth the effort? I believe it is. Especially when you put it on some black-eyed peas – my favorite way to eat it. Otherwise black-eyed peas – kind of meh. Interesting the only reason I have the recipe is because my mom asked for it. This was my father’s aunt, but my mom appreciated it – probably because it could get me to eat black-eyed peas if for no other reason. I don’t remember my mom ever making it. Can’t blame her. Why do that when Aunt Rhodie would do it for us? Just get a few jars from the basement of the house – which also held the washing machine – clothes were dried on the line.

So to me, family recipes are important. I honor my mom by wanting to make things that she appreciated. I honor my great-aunt Rhodie by loving (and hopefully next summer), making her recipe. And I hope one day, I will teach the Boy how to make home made mac and cheese (he’s never had the boxed stuff – thank you very much), baked beans, sloppy joes, chili, squash pickles, and maybe even hot pepper jelly – and I could just go on and on … family recipes. I still have so much to do and I hope above hope to have plenty of time to do it.

Pre – Thanksgiving Prep Week

For me planning is the ultimate part of putting Thanksgiving together. List-making is a close second, but maybe that’s just me (I know I am a list maker) although it is a close run between list-making and grocery shopping. That said, here are the other things I would like  to get accomplished in the week before Thanksgiving.

Making two pans of cornbread for … wait for it …. cornbread dressing.
Make cranberry relish. It’s better made earlier. Yep.
Toast a pan of bread until dry. For cornbread dressing. My Mom’s instructions.
Roast some sweet potatoes. For Sunday Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potato Biscuits. I’ve been boiling them, but will roast them this year.
Spinach Dip because the Boy loves it, and secretly, so do I. With Hawaiian Sweet Bread.
Trying a new carrot cake this year and will make the layers ahead.
Pecan pie made a day or two ahead.

Won’t tell you how many of these things I’ve already done.  – Cranberry – yep – sweet  potatoes – yep – bread – yep. Cornbread will be tomorrow, I think. Do have to go grocery shopping again. Seems always to be the case.

So I’m left with the day of making corn pudding, Sunday sweet potatoes, cornbread dressing, sweet potato biscuits, the Boy’s request for Upside Down Butterscotch Apple Sour Cream Cake. Hoping we are eating at about 3:00pm or so, because I’m not getting up early. Just not going to happen.

Oh, and then there is the venison. But that’s an entirely different post.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Boy gave me a Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook for my birthday this year, along with a bunch of Ghirardelli squares, which I take in small doses since I am not a huge chocolate person. That said, the recipes are really good and Ghirardelli is my go-to chocolate for cookies and anything else chocolate. The Boy marked a bunch of recipes in the book that he wants. I think this one is interesting since the chips can be a wide variety of chocolate: milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, or bittersweet chocolate.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook

I have never really like milk chocolate in cookies – kind of meh. It just does not work for me.  I am a semi-sweet or bittersweet kind of chocolate girl. If I am a chocolate girl at all. Can you call yourself a girl when you are in your 40s? I can, because I still feel pretty much 26.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

2 cups Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips*

1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, beat butter with both sugars at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color, about 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing on low until incorporated.
Gradually blend the flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by tablespoonful onto parchment lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown. Transfer the cookies to wire rack to cool.
Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
* milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate – your choice.
These got a little thin, but that works if you like that kind of cookie. I think it was all the butter – seems a bit much. They were a hit with the Boy, and at the office, so that makes me feel better about them. I just think this is not my kind of chocolate chip cookies. Very glad the Boy really enjoyed it. Love this cookbook – even if I do not love chocolate. I will make anything he likes. Guess that is being a mom.

Grape Salad – not really a salad, but a dessert thing

This is purportedly a southern dish, but honestly I’ve never heard of such a thing. Curiosity got the better of me though and I had to try it. But not with a full blown 4 pounds of grapes that the recipe calls for. Wasn’t going to take a risk and ruin a bunch of grapes that way.

This should tell you how much of a skeptic I am – very very skeptical. I had seen the recipe somewhere in the internet, but really thought it was some strange thing that I would never do or like – like a jello salad. Had even considered it a joke of sorts. I mean who does this? Then I saw in one of Trisha Yearwood’s cookbooks, Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood (page 200), which has many recipes that are so very similar to many of my own extended family recipes. So I thought I’d give it a shot.

So here is a very pared down version –  no wasting of grapes involved – to at least get an idea if this thing even works or not. Verdict below.D&D_0242

1/2 pound grapes – pick your color, washed and dried very well
1 Tbs cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs sour cream
1 1/2 tsp sugar
Pinch of table salt
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Wash grapes and dry completely on paper towels. In a bowl big enough to hold your grapes, mix together cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and pinch of salt. Add your grapes, and mix well. Pour the grapes into a shallow pan and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, sprinkle with pecans.

Notes: Salt was not in the original recipe, but I thought it was necessary. The actual recipe also calls for adding brown sugar before serving. That just seemed like overkill to me.

I’m still not sure about this recipe, but it is kind of tasty for breakfast. Everyone at work that tried it, liked it, but  none of the true southerns had heard of it either.  Just saying.

I don’t think this picture does it justice, but I may have over done it with the cream cheese. I just can’t help myself when it comes to cream cheese. Or any kind of cheese. I mean what is wrong with any kind of extra cheese?  Nothing I can think of … and local pecans – so sweet and tasty. Thank you Renfroe’s.


Food: the pulse of my southern culture and my community

I buy more cookbooks than I use which makes me feel bad that I don’t give each of them their due – Not enough time in the day – not enough days in a week – seasons go by so fast. I have great intentions, make lists (surprise!), read and consider things to make, but too often I get side-tracked by another cookbook I already have, or by some random thing that I’m obsessed with making at that moment. Friggin inter web. Or something the Boy wants – don’t mind that at all.

Being from south of the Mason-Dixon, born of two North Carolinians in Florida (which isn’t, if you are from NE Florida, part of the South really – too many transplants), raised on what could best be described as country food, Southern food, soul food, and poor people food, but wickedly good food, is an amazing heritage to have and one that is strangely unique.

There are so many things that I remember and want to share with my family. There is also so much that I have yet to learn and didn’t learn before my mom died. That is the heart of this problem.

My father’s family was from North Carolina via Georgia and my mom is also from a very small town North Carolina town – town is kind of stretch when my uncle was mayor and there is only one stop light. Her first husband was from rural North Florida which I think influenced her NC cooking because my mom spent lots of time with her lovely in-laws, who I was blessed to know, but briefly.

So my cooking influences are plain and simple and Southern. There is so much history in the south of iconic Southern recipes – some simplified, but those aren’t the ones I am really interested in. I’d like the ones that my two lovely short grandmothers worked with – you know, the ones without the inclusion of processed foods that seem some times so ubiquitous now in “southern” food.*

I think there are so many Southern recipes that have moved around the south and you see slight variations from all your family and friends (and their families). Sausage balls, creamed beef on toast, collards and cornbread, tomato gravy over rice, country fried steaks, real mac n cheese, sweet potato casserole with lots of pecans – this could just go on forever.  Not to mention boiled peanuts  – can’t wait for fall for the biggest and best green peanuts from Jay, Fl. Totally forgot about hoe cakes – damn.

Now if I could only find a recipe for pork ‘n bean salad with celery and onions.** Guess I need to start looking at church cookbooks.

This feels like an odd kind of manifesto. Maybe it is.

*Think bisquick and condensed soups, especially condensed soups – ugh.

**I do want this recipe, but somehow I have the strange feeling it won’t measure up to my memory of it. I do think memories work that way and maybe it’s best to leave things alone. Who is to say?