Family Recipes

This chapter is a collection of my family recipes.  Each family member is noted for certain goodies that they have brought to past get togethers.  I’m sharing my favorites.
Betty’s Banana Bread
Betty says her secret is to make sure the bananas are very ripe (black) and to double the amount of bananas that the recipe calls for to make a moister  sweeter bread.  I use all my over ripe bananas and do not double the recipe.
1/3 shortening or butter (I prefer butter)
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cup (Use up all of your ripe bananas)
1/2 cup walnuts (can also use pecan if you like them better or no nuts at all)
Mash bananas and cream in shortening and sugar; add eggs.  Blend dry ingredients.  Add the nuts.   Bake at 350 degrees 40 to 45 minutes in 9 x 5 loaf pans. 
Secret from Betty is the riper the banana the better (she likes them black).  She also uses more bananas than the recipe calls for to make it very moist (original recipe calls for 1 cup of bananas).  My secret is to cut up small pieces of banana when the dough is done and add chunks of banana.  It gives you bites of banana to bite into.
Variations:  I have modified Betty’s recipe in the past by using soy flour so Saylor can eat it.  I have also used butter and oil to replace the shortening.  Use what you prefer.  Use the same amount.  You can also use same amount of Equal if you want a substitute for sugar.
I have also put this in muffin tins and small bread pans and cook for a shorter period of time for small mouthful muffins and loaves that I give away.  It works well.
Charmayne’s Pumpkin Bars
1 cup flour
1/2 cup quick rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 can (1 lb) pumpkin (2 cups)
1 (13 1/2 oz) can of evaporated milk
2 eggs
3/4 sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 brown sugar
2 tsp. butter
Combine flour, oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cut butter.  Press on 13 X 9 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, salt and spices.  Beat well.  Pour onto baked crust.  Bake @ 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Combine the nuts and brown sugar and 2 Tbs of butter.  Sprinkle over pumpkin.  Return to the oven and bake another 15 to 20 minutes.  Serves 12. 
Snow Ice Cream
As a child, I remember making snow ice cream and later I made it for my children and foster children.  We had sundae parties on cold winter days and the kids would help make the ice cream and make their own sundaes with chocolate syrup, nuts, sprinkles, bananas, or what ever we had in the house.  If it is snowing hard or you know it is going to snow set out a big bowl to catch the snow in to make it easier on you.
1 can condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
Big bowl of fresh snow
Add snow to the milk and vanilla slowly tasting as you go until you get flavor and texture you desire.  You will need a very large bowl. You can add chocolate or strawberry syrup to make flavored ice cream.  You can add frozen fruit, nuts or candy also.   Get creative.   It is a very nice memory for me.
Mom’s Popcorn Balls
Another wonderful childhood memory was helping make popcorn balls.  This is my mother’s recipe
1 cup sugar
1 tbs. vinegar
1 cup white Karo syrup
Large bowl of popped popcorn  (I now use 4 bags of microwave popcorn, but mom would never do that)
Pop the pop corn and salt to taste .  Mix sugar, vinegar and syrup and boil mixture until syrup forms a hard ball in cold water  (Test is take a drop of the hot mixture and put in tablespoon of cold water.  If it turns to a hard ball the mixture is done)   Pour hot mixture over the pop corn.  Make sure you have a bowl of cold  ice water next to the hot mixture.  Place your hands in the water and them take handful of popcorn mixture and form a ball.  You will want to let cool just a bit.  Do not press too hard put hard enough to keep balls together.  Put your hands in the cold water each time you form a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap after balls have cooled.  Makes over 12 small balls. 
Morel Mushrooms
It is almost time for these gifts from God.  Some people are finding them now, but it is very early.  Usually in early May when we have had the rain and warm days, the Morel mushrooms begin to spring up.  Do you have memories of searching for these illusive little wonders?  We used to go to the farm each year and go on long walks in search of them.  It takes a very special eye and a lot of patience, but it is all worth it.  I remember once walking for a long time and sitting down to rest on a log and found myself sitting in the middle of a big patch of them.  They say look near a fallen elm tree and gooseberry bushes.  In this case, it worked that day in that I was sitting on a fallen elm and there were gooseberry bushes all around.

If you are lucky enough to find them they are very dirty so they need to be cleaned.  Cut them in half and soak them in salt water.  Wash carefully by hand and then drain very well.  You can freeze them once they are clean if you are lucky enough to get more than just a meal of them.  Store them in a baggie in the refrigerator once you have cleaned them.
Drain the mushrooms well because they have soaked up a lot of water.  To fry them you very lightly coat them in flour (I like to put them in a large baggie to coat them) and fry them slowly on medium heat in butter until they are golden  brown on both sides.  If you do not have enough for a meal, you can always add other store bought mushrooms to them. They actually flavor the other mushrooms.  I  have done this to serve to a large group of people.  I like them very plain, but you can add a little garlic powder and pepper to the mushroom medley.  Be careful with salting since you have already soaked the Morels in salt water. 
My Blintzes
Batter:
2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (approximate0
2 eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups milk 
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus additional butter for frying
Yields 12 Blintzes
Filling:
1 pound dry cottage cheese (well drained) or Ricotta cheese (I prefer Ricotta)
1 tablespoon sugar (sweeten to your taste)
dash of salt
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. sour cream
Topping:

Whipped cream or sour cream
Strawberries or other favorite fruit
Blintzes are like crepes, but are from Russia.  You can top with strawberries, raspberries or rhubarb. 
To make the filling,  combine the cheese,  sour cream, sugar, salt, vanilla  and cinnamon and stir with a fork until smooth.
To make the batter, in the blender add eggs and milk and the salt. Blend until mixed very well.  Add the flour slowly and beat until  free of lumps. Stir in the butter. I use a blender and batter should be runny. Works best if you let rest for awhile.
Starting at the center of a heated skillet or crepe pan greased with butter or nonstick spray, pour in the batter in a thin stream, tilting  pan to spread the batter evenly like a crepe. Cook over low medium heat until the pancake is smooth and firm on top and the bottom is lightly browned. Turn out  bottom side up, and spread evenly with 1 tablespoon of the filling. While each successive pancake is in the skillet, the preceding blintz can be filled and rolled up. When all the blintzes are done, add more butter to the skillet and brown the blintzes lightly on both sides until firm.  Serve with favorite fruit and whipped cream or sour cream. 
These can also be made savory if you wish to omit the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.  You can add well drained cooked spinach or mashed potatoes and top with sour cream and bacon.  Let your imagination go.  I of course always go with the sweet. 

My Éclairs
Pastry:
1 cup water
1 stick margarine or butter
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
4 eggs
Filling:
3 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. all purpose flour
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
Icing:
2 (1oz) squares chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 cup whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat water and butter to boiling point.  Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is smooth and forms a ball.  Remove from heat and let cool.
Let cool a little or eggs will scramble.  Beat in 4 eggs, one at a time.  Drop dough from teaspoon to form small éclairs onto greased cookie sheet.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until light brown.  Set aside to cool.  Prepare filling by combining  milk, sugar, salt and flour; cook slowly until thickens.  Add 3 beaten eggs and continue to cook until mixture is even thicker.  Temper eggs first by adding a bit of the hot mixture to the beaten eggs before adding all of the eggs into the hot mixture (do no want scrambled eggs).  Remove from heat, cool and add vanilla.
With a serrated knife, slice pastry puffs lengthwise, but not all the way though.  Pipe custard mixture into the center of the puff with a large baggie with a hole cut in one end.  Melt chocolate for icing, add sugar and cream.  Cook over medium heat until soft ball stage.  Let cool and beat until smooth.  Ice tops of the éclairs.  
My Home Made Chicken Broth

whole chicken (fresh or frozen)
2 carrots
1 onion
2 stalks of celery
Pinch of salt and pepper
(You can add fresh thyme and a bay leaf if you like)
In large stock pot add chicken, cut up carrots in large chucks, cut onion in half, and cut up celery into large chucks.  Fill pot with water until covering all of the chicken and veggies.  Boil until the chicken is tender. 
You can use this broth for chicken soup, or chicken and noodle or freeze it for a later date.  Strain the broth and put into freezer bags and freeze it or canning jars to store in refrigerator if you are going to use in a couple of days.  Skim off the chicken fat before using.  Toss the veggies away and pull the chicken off the bones.  You can freeze chicken until you need it or make soup right away with it.  Variation:  Just want white meat.  Replace chicken with 4 breasts. Want more seasoning in broth, you can add thyme and a bay leaf to stock pot.  I keep it simple.
Chicken Noodle Soup
1/2 of a pulled chicken
Chicken broth (If you don’t want to make the broth you can used the canned, 1 large can)
2 grated carrots (I use the smallest grate on the grater)
1 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper
Add chicken to the well seasoned broth and grate 2 whole carrots into it.  Add salt, pepper and onion powder to taste.  You may also add thyme if you like.  Kids really like this soup and don’t  know they are getting carrot vitamins.  When broth is boiling add noodles.  If you don’t  have time to make homemade, Kluski egg noodles work great.  They are very thin like my mom’s.
Egg Noodles
4 large eggs
2 cups flour with extra flour for rolling out the dough
1 tsp. salt
Beat eggs well and add salt.  Slowly add flour until it is no longer sticky.  If too sticky add a little more flour.  I use my hands at end to kneed until it is right for rolling. Keep flouring your hands as you kneed it.  Cut dough into 4 pieces.  Flour dough, board, and rolling pin very well and roll out to about 1/8 inch.  Cut into pieces about 4 inches wide.  Stack pieces on top of each other and cut into thin strips.  My mother’s are so good because she cuts them very thin and one at a time (with love).  Mine are very rustic because they are all different in size. You can freeze these if you make a large quantity.  If you are going to the trouble of making these, I would recommend you make a double batch so you can freeze 1/2 for a later date.  You can use for a noodle casserole.  
As you are cutting the noodles, make sure they are well floured so they do not stick together and let them dry a little.  Since these are fresh noodles they do not take long to cook.  Do not over cook them.  Never add noodles to a pot of water unless it is boiling.  Test the noodles after 5 minutes.  Cooking time will depend on how thick they are.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Make sure the soup is well seasoned.   We like to serve over mashed potatoes.  Remember practice makes perfect so practice, practice, practice.
Quarter dough.  Rolling pin was my mothers and I treasure it.

Roll out and cut into pieces and pile on top of each other allowing you to cut  several noodles at a time.
Let dry before boiling.  
Hope you enjoy these family standards.  It is typical Iowa home cooking filled with love. I’ll share more loved recipes tomorrow.  
Since this is Easter may I wish you a blessed Easter and may God bless you and you and yours.   

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