Category Archives: Recipe

Sweet and Sour German Cabbage Grandma Would Love

My grandmother loved sweet and sour dishes. I’ve never been able to pull off a duplicate of her really delicious sweet and sour dandelion greens. Despite her almost all British Isles background, in northern Ohio where she lived, Germans immigrants have influenced the foods we ate for centuries, like this German cabbage.

My German cookbook does have a slew (or slaw?) of German cabbage recipes,among them this recipe for sweet and sour cabbage.  Not very photogenic, but you don’t want to waste time taking pictures when you could be eating, now do you?

German cabbage with raisins

German cabbage,  sweet and sour cabbage with raisins

I found this recipe because I bought a pretty little Savoy cabbage at the Farmer’s Market.  Savoy is the one with the ruffled leaves that curl out away from the main ball of the cabbage like an Elizabethan collar. It has a milder flavor, so is an easier sale with non-cabbage people.

The recipe is from the German cookbook that I keep on my Kindle. You can see a bit about The German Cookbook by Mimi Sheraton on my Cookbooks Page.  I just prop the Kindle up on the counter as I would a recipe card. Very handy.

So I spotted a recipe for Savoy cabbage in brown sauce that looked pretty good, but a few pages farther on, I saw an adaptation of that recipe that made a sweet and sour German cabbage dish.  I followed the recipe except for swapping vinegar for the called-for lemon juice.  Lemon would be delicious, but somehow I can’t picture German–or northern Ohio cooks having a lot of lemons around in the winter time when they were using up their cabbage. Likewise with the called-for white raisins. I used currants.

My husband turned up his nose when he heard I was making German cabbage for dinner, but lo and behold, he took one bite and pronounced it good!  Hope yours will be as successful.

German Sweet and Sour Cabbage

Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Allergy Wheat
Dietary Vegan
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Region German
From book The German Cookbook by Mimi Sheraton
A favorite flavor for German recipes--sweet and sour--with a favorite German vegetable--cabbage.

Ingredients

  • 1 head of savoy cabbage
  • salt
  • 1 onion (minced)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (Cooking liquid from the cabbage--see directions)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 pinch cloves
  • 1/2 cup currants (Or use raisins. Original recipe calls for white(golden) raisins.)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions

1. Cut cabbage in quarters, and remove tough outer leaves, hard core and any tough stems.
2. Bring to boil 4 cups water with a little salt, add cabbage and any loose leaves, reduce to fast simmer and cook for ten minutes.
3. Remove cabbage from pot and drain, reserving liquid.
4. Chop by hand or in food processor and drain again. Set aside
5. Melt butter in two-quart pan. Add onion and saute, stirring until onion turns brown.
6. Sprinkle in flour and continue stiring and sauteing until flour becomes a rich brown. Keep the heat low so it will not burn.
7. Stir in the two cups of cooking liquid from the cabbage and stir with whisk to keep it smooth as it thickens slightly.
8. Add vinegar, brown sugar, and cloves and simmer five minutes, stirring frequently.
9. Add cabbage back to pan, stir in raisins or currants and stir to combine with sauce and continue cooking slowly for ten more minutes. Taste and add more sugar or vinegar or salt or pepper if you wish.
10. Serve with sausage or a salty ham. Roasted potatoes would make a good side dish and applesauce or cooked apples are also good as a side with cabbage.

Note

As usual, I eliminated the onion in this recipe and thought that it was plenty tasty.
The sauce will not be thick, but smooth and satiny
Although I used the milder Savoy cabbage, the sauce will match up with any variety of cabbage.
I used the time when the cabbage was cooking to measure each ingredient for the sauce into small dishes, so everything was ready. Once you start cooking the sauce, you need to pay attention to it, so it does not clump or stick to the bottom of the pan.

 

Disclaimer: The book cover illustration is linked to Amazon for your convenience. You need to know that I am an Amazon affiliate, which means if you use my links and buy something, I get a few pennies to help support this site. Thanks.

Oatmeal Pie: Oats, Coconut, Maple Syrup

Oatmeal Pie

Oatmeal Pie piece with whipped cream

I’m an advocate for pie for breakfast at all times, but who could find fault with eating oatmeal with maple syrup in the form of pie?

Frugal and tasty, “Oatmeal Pie” demonstrates the make-do attitude of our ancestors in aprons.  As I frequently do, I turned to the Sonnenberg Mennonite Church Centennial cookbook for some vintage takes on this poor man’s pecan pie. After also consulting some web sites, I was prepared to try a variation on the Mennonite cookbook recipe that most appealed to me.

Mennonite

Sonnenberg Mennonite Church Centennial Cook Book

Please understand right at the outset, that although it is called “oatmeal” pie, the pie does not contain a gooey mixture of cooked oats–oatmeal.  Instead, the base for the pie contains either quick-cooking or old fashioned oatmeal–UNCOOKED. Also, although the name “Amish” is attached, other people probably made the pie also.  The history is elusive.

The original Amish oatmeal pie relies on dark corn syrup (Karo©), as do most pecan pie recipes.  However, I was thinking how delicious maple syrup is on oatmeal, and had decided to make a swap.  An experienced baker friend recommended that I include a couple of spoonfuls of the dark corn syrup to balance out the mysterious chemistry and characteristics of corn syrup.  However, by the time I got her advice, I had baked the pie. The good news is, the pie turned out fine.

Whether its a dessert or breakfast–try this old fashioned pie recipe.  Of course, I recommend my Perfect Pie Crust recipe, but if you are in a hurry, you can use a pre-made crust.

Oatmeal Pie with Maple Syrup

Serves 8-10
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 20 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Old fashioned Oatmeal Pie makes a frugal substitute for pecan pie. It forms a chewy nutty crust on top.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cups coconut (flaked)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 pie shell (unbaked)

Directions

1. Line pie plate with pie dough and put in refrigerator while you make the filling. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugars. Add spices and syrup and blend well.
3. Beat in eggs, one at a time. and mix until well blended.
4. Stir in milk.
5. Add oatmeal and coconut and stir in well. [ I thought the filling was too thin, and added two tablespoons of rice flour to thicken. This will depend on the texture of your maple syrup. (Use corn starch or flour if you do not have rice flour.)]
6. Pour filling into pie shell and bake at 350 degrees about one hour.

Note

You can use Karo syrup or molasses in your oatmeal pie instead of maple syrup for a slightly different flavor.

Some recipes for oatmeal pie call for addition of nuts, which to me seems to defeat the purpose of substituting oats for pecans, but do your own thing.

As mentioned in the article, an expert in baking suggested it would be better to include a couple spoonsful of Karo syrup when substituting maple syrup to avoid the sugar crystalizing. However, my version did not have any crystalizing. Again, use your own judgment.

Butter Chicken: American Colonial Curry

Close your eyes and imagine an American Colonial meal.  I imagine that you’re seeing roasts, overcooked vegetables, pastries both sweet and savory. But I’ll bet you didn’t think to put a curry dish like butter chicken on your Puritan grandmother’s table.  I certainly didn’t, until I received some spices from Pereg to try. I started looking into what spices the 17th and 18th century American colonists might have been using.

Our grandmothers in that period would not have been using these particular spices, however, with the possible exception of Sumac. (I’ll explain below)

Pereg Spices

Some of the Pereg spices sent to me for testing.

How Do We Know What Seasonings Colonists Used?

Spices in Colonial America

Common Spices used in 18th century America

I remembered reading in the book A Thousand Years Over A Hot Stove a list of recommended foods for the early settlers to take with them on the Atlantic passage.  Higginson’s book, New England Plantation published in 1630 included packing hints for survival in the new world. Under spices, Francis Higginson recommended housewives should take Sugar, Pepper, Cloves, Mace, Cinnamon, Nutmegs and Fruit. (Not sure about that one? Dried fruit, probably.)

In my own family, I have read two wills that shed light on products that housewives considered essential.

Rudolph Manbeck, an ancestor of my husband, wrote a bill in 1794 that sets aside certain property for his wife, including

  • half bushel of salt
  • 1/4 lb. pepper
  • 1/4 lb. allspice
  • 1/3 lb. ginger
  • 4 gall(on) vinegar

In the inventory of Asahel Platt’s property (he died intestate in 1833) I learned that he must have been a merchant. So what seasonings did he carry in his store? The long inventory includes these items:

  • 34 lb. pepper
  • 3 lb. spice ( unspecified)
  • 7 lb. ginger
  • 2 lb. Salt Peter (sic) [used for curing meat]
  • 5/16 lb. nut megs
  • 1/2 lb. cloves
  • 22 lb. raisins
  • 1 barrel of salt

Home Grown Herbs and Sumac Berries

Of course these lists focus on those seasonings that need to be imported. Additionally, plenty of herbs were growing just outside the kitchen door.

A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove reminds us that the spices and herbs are used as much for curing as for cooking.  The author lists thistle, borage, peppermint, licorice, rosemary, lavender, sage, anise, fennel, cloves, elder, garlic and ginger and some of the multi-purpose spices and herbs.

Of the seasonings sent to me by Pereg, I thought Sumac might be the most likely to have been used by our Puritan ancestors.  After all indigenous people used the red-berried sumac, and our grandmothers learned to use many American Indian foods. If you think of Sumac as poison, don’t worry–that only applies to the white-berried sumac plant. The red berry grows on another plant and is entirely edible.

However, I can find no direct reference to that cross over from American Indians to colonists. Too bad, because although I have never used sumac before I have become a fan. It has such a beautiful color and a nice tangy lemon, almost sweet and sour taste.

Butter Chicken meal

Butter chicken with eggplant and salad. Note sprinkle of Sumac on the butter chicken and on the eggplant.

Butter Chicken: Colonial Curry

I perked up when I read about the popularity of curried foods in America, even in the mid-17th century. If I want to use sumac in colonial food, curry provides a great opportunity. English housewives had discovered curry early in that century, and anything popular in England  carried over into American habits.  The most popular cookbook in the late 18th century in American would have been The Art of Cooking Made Plain and Simple by Hannah Glasse.

The clever Ms. Glasse recreated tastes of dishes made with seasonings not yet available in either England or America.  Which brings us to her Butter Chicken, a curry dish popular in the 17th and 18th century.  Although her version had much simpler seasonings than the “original” Indian dish, as spices became more available, we see an expansion of seasonings in later recipes.  Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife, calls for eight spices (ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin seeds, ginger, nutmeg, mace, cayenne) instead of the three in Glasse’s recipe (ginger turmeric, pepper).

You will notice a lack of curry powder in both–colonial housewives had to be creative rather than use pre-mixed seasonings like curry powder.

I was a bit surprised that turmeric would have been used by the 18th century housewives, but there it is in Glasses’s 1774 book as she makes India pickle and butter chicken.

Check out  Silkroad Gourmet  for a nice comparison of these two recipes that were published fifty years apart. There you will find the entire recipe as originally published in each of the books.

I started with Hannah Glasse’s curry recipe for Butter Chicken, but spiced it up just a bit. My use of spices in the recipe as written below still could use some pepping up, I think. Let me know what spices you will use in Butter Chicken.

Colonial Butter Chicken

Serves 3-4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 35 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Allergy Milk
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Region Asian

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2lb chicken breast (cut in one inch chunks)
  • 1/4lb butter ((one stick))
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 1/2-2 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cups orange juice ([or use lemon juice])
  • 1/2 cup half and half

Directions

1. Melt the butter in a skillet, brown chicken slightly. Be careful not to overcook--just get rid of all pink.
2. Remove chicken from pan and add onion to saute until soft.
3. Add spices and garlic and stir about one minute.
4. Put chicken back in pan and pour broth over--just about covering.
5. Turn heat down and simmer about 20 minutes.
6. Add cream and juice, stir well until warm, then remove chicken again.
7. Bring liquid to a boil and reduce until you get desired thickness.
8. Stir chicken in briefly to warm, then spoon over rice. Sprinkle with sumac powder.
P.S.  Pereg Gourmet sent me several spices plus dried Lemon Verbena so that I could try them out and share them with you.  This gift is welcome, but does not affect my opinion.  I had not heard of Pereg, even though they have been around since the early twentieth century, but I am glad to learn about them.  Their spice jars are much bigger than the usual ones on my shelf and the prices seem very reasonable.

Perez big spice jars

Comparing the size of most spice jars on my shelf with the standard size of a Pereg spice jar.

This size difference is a mixed blessing.  Since the price for the large Pereg jar is the same or less than the normal size, they are a bargain. However, I don’t generally use up a jar of spice before it is a year old–the time period in which most should be replaced.  And secondly, storage becomes a problem because the large jars do not fit on my standard spice shelves, and hog space in a drawer.

On the plus side for Pereg, they have an amazing variety of mixes ready to go for many kinds of cuisine.  If you feel like experimenting and don’t want to invest in ten different herbs and spices they’ve got you covered.  They carry a lot of spices that I have not seen routinely on my grocer’s shelf–like the Sumac and in the very top picture the fenugreek seeds.  If you shop their website, you may be inspired to try some very different kinds of cuisine.