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Baker. Cook. Gardener. Animal Lover.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vermont Maple Cake

John LOVES the world series.Even though his Dodgers are out. It's kind of sad. I really do feel sorry for him.But what can you do? His family all loves the world series too. And Thurday night we were invited out to his mom and dad's house for pizza and the game. (They don't like to cook..it was take-out.) That's fine by me.Everyone has there own thing- makes- the- world go 'round and all that. So I said I would bring a dessert. I wanted something old fashion and homey. Nothing fancy. So I scoured my cookbooks looking for just the right thing. I've already made them a couple of apple pies so I was kinda burnt out in that department.I'm sure they are too. But I wanted something that gave me the feeling that I was going to see the game at someone's house up in Vermont. With a stiff cold wind blowing, pumpkins glowing from the porch, woodsmoke wafting in the air, leaves tumbling down the road....you get the idea.

Vermont Maple Cake. That was it. From my beloved John Hadamuscin's Special Occasion Cookbook. There were about 4 different books that he wrote. All out of print. I love them so much. One of these days I will do a post and highlight the books for you.In the book it is actually called Buckeye Maple Cake.But I'm not getting a "happy" off of that. So I switched it from Buckeye to Vermont. There you go. That's better. At least it is for me. It's a big cake and it is square. The book said the reason it is square is for "easy transportation to a picnic". That got my attention. Then I got to thinking about it and wondered what's the difference between transporting a round cake or a square cake? Don't ask, I guess.

So I made the cake, loaded it up and took it out to the house. There was no woodsmoke, no pumpkins on porches, no dancing leaves,it wasn't even cold. But we had a good time anyway. It's California....what did I expect?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting Close

I feel like I'm getting a cold so this will be short,but I couldn't NOT say something as we are so close to Halloween and all.

I am in one of those Gooseberry Patch moods....I am downing Vitamin C and drinking juice and water like to crazy to try an knock this thing out before Halloween....haven't been sick all year..and here we are at the doorstep of the greatest day of the year...geezzz.

So I got up and being that the weather FINALLY changed I felt like making chili. Nothing fancy..nothing with 25 ingredients..just plain old fashion Halloween on the horizon chili.

Smells good. I'll make cornbread later as we get closer to supper. Last night we watched The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. We're 53. Oh well.

So tonight it's chili and cornbread. I just hope the cold fall winds stay..at least till Halloween. Please.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Feeling Cozy

Got into the recipe box and was looking for something that I could make ahead and just put into the oven and not be rushing around making dinner last minute. So I got into Red Plaid and pulled the Meatball Recipe. These aren't the pasta and meatball kind of meatballs. These are the cooking in Campbell's Onion Soup kind of meatballs. This recipe is from my aunt Rose who lives in Santa Cruz. As kids we called her Gog or Goggy. I still don't know what that means or where it came from. She is from Genoa, Italy. Maybe the name came with her all the way from there. I have mentioned her and my uncle Emillio before. We call him Mill. They live on acres and acres in Santa Cruz and are a hard working family in the produce business. If you are up in the bay area and are in a market, mostly likely the twist tie around the carrots will say Maggiolo. That's their last name.

The meatball recipe is hers. And it never fails to please. It is Fall Comfort Food.I usually serve it with white rice tossed in butter and salt.

Recipe of Rose Maggiolo

1 pound ground beef
2 slices bread
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teasppon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 can Campbell's Onion Soup

Remove the crust from the bread, break bread up into small pieces. Add ground beef. Add salt and pepper and baking powder. Add milk and let set a few minutes. Shape into 12 balls, roll in flour and place in casserole. ( I love to use my cast iron skillet )Add onion soup and 1 can water. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 to 50 minutes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Red Plaid Recipe Box ...Recipe 1.

We're getting close to Halloween and it got me to thinking about Holiday Cooking. So I got out my mom's red plaid recipe box. I think I have mentioned it before. It's one of those"if the house was on fire what would you grab" kinda things. I treasure it. So as I was going through the box...I am thinking...all these recipes look so good..and what I really liked about them was that each recipe seemed to have a history behind it and told a story. Who's recipe was it? Where did it come from? A relative? A neighbor? An old friend? I love old recipe boxes . Each one so different...each one someone's own private treasure box.

Alot of the recipes were from Bessie. The lady that introduced me to "The Treasury Of Great recipes" by Mary and Vincent Price. My other "house is burning" grab. Bessie came every afternoon when my little brother was a baby and got supper started. Alot of the recipes are from relatives too. Since we are getting into the Holidays and winter, I thought it would be fun to work my way through the box and share the recipes with you...my friends.

The other day I wanted to make a lasagna. Not one of those all day make your own pasta affairs... I just wanted something simple and easy. So I tried the recipe for spaghetti sauce from the recipe file of Enide Allison. What a way to start. I don't know Enide.I have never heard of her. Ever. She must have been a real person..her recipe card has her name engraved right next to the little pot bellied stove.She must have taken her cooking pretty seriously to have her name engraved on the card.

So I made the the spaghetti sauce. And it was good. I just layered it with lasagna pasta and cheese. That was it. Simple.

from the recipe file of --- Enide Allison

1 onion, diced
1 large can whole peeled tomatoes (I'm on a San Marzano kick)
1 teaspoon oregano
Chopped italian flat leaf parsely (I used about 1/2 cup)
Salt and pepper

Saute the onion in olive oil till soft
Add tomatoes
Add oregano and parsley
Salt and pepper to taste. (to be perfectly honest, I just add salt, it's just a personal thing I have going on)
Simmer for about 40 to 50 minutes

Layer in a casserole dish lasagna and cheese with the sauce

Baker 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes till bubbly and hot

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Door To Gopher Glen In October

I looked North yesterday afternoon and saw the sky turning a dark blue black color. The sun was gone. And I was cold. It has been in the 90's here the past few days, so every morning we get up, put on our shorts and t - shirts, slip into our flip flops and head out the door. So yesterday was no different. I just figured we were in Indian Summer around here...even though, secretly I don't like it. Everyone else seems to like it. So I just smile and say, "Oh, yes, we are so lucky." So as the temperature sank and my mood rose, I knew a trip to See Canyon was the goal of the day. John and I got Buddy and loaded up in the car. We made our way through See Canyon, watching the yellow leaves of the apple trees swirl in the cold October sun. The air was damp and smelled of apples and leaves.

When we got to Gophen Glen .... we were greeted with rain. As the rain began we ran inside to check the board for the "Apples of the Day." Heavenscent, Turley Winesap and Limbertwig were the ones we got. We got back into the car the conversation turned to one of my favorite topics...Thanksgiving Pie. Should we make pumpkin or pecan or apple. Definelty apple..if for nothing else than an excuse to go to Gopher Glen on Thanksgiving Eve.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Some Things Never Change

I'm REALLY lucky. We have an old bakery that is about a 20 minute drive from the house. It is called Carlock's and it is just up Los Osos Valley Road. And the best part is ...in the Fall you drive right past Mary's Pumpkin Patch.I wanted to see if Mary survived the BIG STORM. And as I had feared, she had not. She was closed. It was sad to see. But it looked like she might have dodged a bullet. It didn't look as bad as I thought it would. I'm sure she is back up and running by now. I'll be stopping by soon to check. But on my way to my doomed fishing expediton I made a side stop to Carlocks. It is the kind of bakery that is frozen in time. If you stepped inside you would not know it was 2009. Old men sit at the tables in the back drinking coffee, eating donuts and reading the newspaper. The tables are formica and the chairs are aluminum. Crumbs are on the floor and the place smells of burnt coffee and cinnamon. You don't see anyone on a laptop, no one is sipping an espresso or a latte. No one has a tatoo or pink hair. It is just old fashion. Down home. Farmy. Comforting. It makes you happy. I really like going there on any given holiday. And they do it right. No, it's not like the pastry shops you see in San Francisco or Los Angeles.Not like the ones that have french tarts. There are no pear tart tartin. No pumpkin creme brulee.No panforte with candied quince. Nothing is garnished with a rose petal or mint.There are no croissants. Nope. Not here.It's donuts.

When I was a little girl and we lived in Los Gatos there was "The Cream Puff". I think I told you about it. It's not there anymore. When I was in high school here in San Luis Obispo there was "Delight". It too. Gone. What has happened to all the old fashion bakeries. Now it is either Vons or Safeway..or those real fancy ones. I guess when you get right down to it...they really do have to be old in order to be good and have the charm. Even these new bakeries like "Magnolia" and "Sprinkles" that go for the old fashion feel..well, they just are lacking because they aren't old. There is something about time standing still in these places. And the desserts that are offered are stuck back in time too. And therein lies the charm. Halloween at Carlocks ...what can I say. I love it. Did you see those cakes and cookies? I can feel my heart race when I enter the door..the little bell rings and the ladies run to the counter to help you. They assemble the bakery boxes, line them with waxed paper and load your goodies. And tie it with a string. I miss those days. I wish all my boxes were tied with string .

Great Pumpkin Contest - Mission Plaza

I went to the Great Pumpkin Contest in San Luis Obispo at the farmers market yesterday. The pumpkins were so large they took my breath away. I have grown pumpkins all my life... I've never had anything that even came close to these though.I took pictures so you could see them, but to be honest...they really are more spectacular in person.

Halloween Witch

I have to give credit where credit is due. My new header is a plate that was given to me as a gift for my birthday from my dear friend, Julie Whitmore.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two Time Loser

I'm going to keep this short cause I'd rather forget it. I went to Morro Bay. That part was good. Made it to the fish market. But after that it was all downhill. They didn't have any Dover Sole or Petrale Sole, which is what I really wanted. So I got some calamari. The baby clams looked good, the sign said they were from Washington. The guy even said they were good. So I got calamari and clams. Both were losers. I made the worst dinner. The clams were weird. They tasted sweet. Almost like candy. We were both like, Huh? Has anybody ever had clams like that? And I don't even want to talk about the calamari. I have made this recipe before and it was always good. I pounded it out. Sauteed it in olive oil and butter. Added some lemon, parsley and capers. I mean, really, what could go wrong? It's simple. It was bad. I cut it up and put it out for a stray cat or racoon. Figured if we couldn't eat it...at least some wild creature would have a nice supper. Came downstairs this morning. 3 hungry stray cats staring at me. And a bowl full of calamari.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Take Me To Fisherman's Wharf

Well, we got hit hard by the Big Storm yesterday. It was windy and it poured. But we made it through...and it was cozy last night. We built a fire but my dinner plans had to be scraped because John was late...Highway One was slow going...so we veered off into Macaroni and Cheese territory. And not homemade either. I keep alot of food in my pantry that I call "emergency food", "storm food", "sick day food" and as a friend of mine calls "Do-Go-Mar day".. translation....Don't go to the market.And last night I was into the pantry. Found a box of macaroni and cheese...you know the one, the blue box..the one we've all had at one time or another...so that was it...

The storm looks like it's letting up so now I am pretending I am in San Francisco at the Wharf. I got out my old Fisherman's Wharf cookbook...The vintage date on this one is 1971. I have had it since before we were married. We've been married 29 years.
I never left the house yesterday so today I think I'll venture out. Feel like seafood. Maybe Petrale or Dover sole. But I don't know if it is in season..or maybe it can't be caught with the seas so stormy. I'll go see. I am going to go to either Old Port Seafood in Avila at the end of the pier or go to Morro Bay.If they don't have sole, I'll be happy with scallops or baby clams. I'll let ya know what I get.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Waiting And Watching

Out here in on the Central Coast of Califoria we are waiting for our first BIG STORM of the season. And we are ready. It has been one long hot dry summer. We need some rain. So in anticipation of the big event, I decided to make my Julia Child French Onion Soup. I go back and forth between Julia Child's and Vincent Price's recipe. And back and forth on the beef stock or chicken stock thing too. I can never decide which I like better. Truth be told, I like them both the same. Cause when you get right down to it...for me anyway, it is all about the cheese..Went to Scolaris this morning praying they would have Gruyere cheese. It is a small neighborhood market and I was worried that anything beyond swiss and cheddar might be out of their reach. But I got lucky. I scored. They had some gruyere. It is really the only one that will do here. And I needed the vermouth too. I have used white wine before, but I don't know if it's in my head or what, I just like it better with the vermouth. Maybe it makes me feel like I am really doing it Julia's way. And at the very end...right before you serve it..it has got to have a wave of cognac. It's got to. I was watching PBS on Saturday...they had on those vintage shows of Jacques and Julia from like the 70's. And it made me remember how much I love her. So tonight when that big storm slams in from the Pacific...we will be all cozy inside with our bowls of soup and to go with it...grilled prosciutto and cheese sandwhiches. A cozy autumn night, by the fire.Soup and grilled cheese night. Julia-style.And YES..that is scotch tape holding that beloved book together.....

To Get You In The Mood