Category Archives: Recipe

Chocolate Swirl Bars–A Slice of my Life

Most kids love to cook. Once when I was a Cub Scout den mother, I asked the boys whether they would rather do a science experiment or cook something–cooking won by a landslide.  This recipe for Chocolate Swirl Bars meets the kid-friendly test.  The measurements allow you to work a bit on math if you want.  Relatively few ingredients means it is easy to mix up.  And best of all, they LOVE the action of swirling the chocolate into the peanut butter dough.

chocolate swirl bar

Bar cookies with peanut butter and chocolate chips.

Note: If you’re making chocolate swirl bars with grandchildren or a group of kids, be sure to check for peanut allergies before you start. Unfortunately, one of my grandsons and one of my great-grandsons would be unable to eat these.

I know they are popular with kids, because my youngest son started making them when he was in eighth grade.  He liked making the chocolate swirl bars, and turned it into a business.  We discussed the cost of the ingredients, which he had to figure out and then return to me from his earnings.

The inspiration for starting a business could have come from Junior Achievement–a school program that helped kids in high school start their own business.  His older son had quite a company going, supervising a group of kids who made macrame’ plant hangers back when macrame’ was all the rage.

At the time, my husband also acted as an advisor for a J.A. group at another high school.  I still have a spatter guard for a skillet and a hamburger press, both made by teens, as reminders of those projects.

But COOKIES! A much better business, in my humble opinion.

My son baked a batch and took small samples of the cookies door to door in our neighborhood, fed them to the neighbors and took orders for a dozen cookies.  I don’t know how long before his interest flagged, but it may very well have been the beginning of a lasting talent in salesmanship.

Whether you cook them yourself, or find some kids to do the baking, you’ll find that the only problem with these chocolate swirl bars is waiting until they are cool enough to come out of the pan. The smell is heavenly. The taste likewise. Can you eat just one?

Other kid-friendly cookie recipes:

Peanut butter cookies

Pumpkin Cookies

Rhema’s Raisin Bars

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Swirl Cookies

Serves 24
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Allergy Egg, Peanuts, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Easy to make Peanut Butter- Chocolate Chip Swirl Bars look great and taste as good as they look.


  • 1/2 cup Peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar (tightly packed)
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10-12 oz chocolate chips


1. Beat well the first four ingredients.
2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in separate bowl, then beat into the peanut butter mixture.
4. Spread into greased 9" x 13" pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top, as evenly as possible.
5. Bake 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven, and draw knife through batter to make marbled effect with chocolate.
6. Return to oven and bake for 30-40 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven, until brown on edges, and almost solid in center. (Will continue to firm up out of oven.)
7. Cool on wire rack for ten minutes, then cut in squares. Put cookies on a cooling rack until completely cool. Freeze or store in airtight container.


You can use either semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips and either smooth or crunchy peanut butter in these delicious cookies.  Kids love to make them and get creative with the marbleing.

Picalilli from Grandma’s Garden

Way back at the end of 2015, I made some picalilli.  Somehow in the rush of Thanksgiving and Christmas that year, I did not share the recipe with you.  I apologize.  Of all the things that Grandma Vera Anderson preserved, I most yearn to have the recipe for picalilli. Alas, she probably just threw together whatever vegetables, in whatever amount she harvested, and no recipe remains.

And what is picalilli? It’s origin seems to be India via England. The inclusion of turmeric provides a big clue to Indian origina, as turmeric is a must in Indian cooking.  I have included some links to more information down below, including the puzzle of  the difference between picalilli and chow-chow.

Although I do not have Grandma’s recipe for picalilli, I think I came up with a pretty fair approximation, after scouring old cookbooks and the Internet. Just keep in mind, this is a pickle made at the end of the growing season, so she might well have included other “leftovers” from her garden.

Picallili vegetables

Chopped vegetables for picallili. Cabbage, bell peppers, green tomatoes.

Cabbage,green tomatoes, red bell peppers, green bell peppers ( which Grandma called “mangoes” in a 1943 letter), sugar and spices. Recipes call for onions, which I can’t eat. I thought the picalilli was fine without them, but feel free to add them if that is important to you.

This recipe comes from the Ball canning site.  I highly recommend this site if you are a novice at preserving and canning, as I am.  The Ball people have been providing the jars and lids and advice for generations, so you can find answers to your questions about what to do if you don’t have a canning kettle, how long you can keep things preserved for refrigerator rather than canned under pressure, and how to prepare your jars and lids.

A note on Ball canning jars.  Mason jars, invented in 1858 by John Mason, are the style of jar that Ball manufactured in Buffalo, New York, starting in 1884. Do you own some old Ball jars? Learn all about dating Ball jars at this website.

I deviated from the recipe by leaving out the onions, substituting ground giner for grated ginger root, and and I did not boil the filled cans for long shelf storage.  Instead, I sterilized the jars and kept the product in the refrigerator for not over two months.

If you do not have half pint glass canning jars, you will need six or seven of them.  Do not reuse the two-part canning lids.  You can find the lids and jars in most grocery stores, and in Walmart.

Another thing you may not have on hand is cheesecloth–needed to make a spice bag. That also should be available at your grocery store.

Picallili spice bag

Picallili spice bag

Pickling spices are available in the spice section of your grocery store. (That’s the pickling spices in the blue-lidded container.  The other round beads are the mustard seed. If you’re lucky, you’ll have access to a store that sells spices and herbs from bins, so you can get the small amount you need–only 1/4 cup.

Picallili spices

Dried spices for picallili

Everything else in the recipe should be easy to find.

Picallilli seasonings

Picallilli seasonings

Everyone who tried the picalilli on my Thanksgiving table–even the picky eaters–loved it.

By the way, Grandma also made something she called chow-chow, and I have no idea what was in it or how it was different.  I vaguely relate it to pickled corn, but I am not sure about that. Anyhow, here is more information about the varous pickles and chow-chow. Notice how close the Philadelphia Pickle is to my recollection of Grandma’s Picalilli. And a second article from the same site, has several Chow Chow recipes that sound suspiciously like Picalilli.


Prep time 13 hours
Cook time 1 hour, 25 minutes
Total time 14 hours, 25 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Website Ball Preserving
The origins of picalilli are mysterious, but Grandma Vera Anderson made it from the last of the vegetables in her garden.


  • 5 cups cabbage (finely chopped (About 1 1/2 medium heads))
  • 4 cups green tomatoes (unpeeled, cored and chopped (about 8 medium))
  • 1 1/2 cup onion (chopped (about 2 medium))
  • 1 cup red bell pepper (stem and seeds removed (1 large))
  • 1 cup green bell pepper (stem and seeds removed (1 large))
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 cup pickling spice
  • 4 tablespoons ginger root (coarsely chopped (or 1/2 tsp. ground ginger))
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric


1. Combine cabbage, green tomatoes, onions (opt.), red and green peppers and salt in large glass or stainless steel bowl. Cover (a towel is fine) and let stand in a cool place for twelve hours or overnight.
2. When the mixture has sat for twelve hours, transfer to a colander in the sink and drain. Rinse with cool water and drain thoroughly. Using your hands, squeeze out excess liquid. Set aside.
3. Heat jars in simmering water (not boiling), or in 250 degree oven until ready for use. Wash lids in warm sopay water and set lids and bands aside. (Or run through dishwasher with heated dry cycle.)
4. Prepare a spice bag by putting pickling spices, mustard seed and ginger in a square of cheesecloth. Tie two opposite corners tightly, then gather up and tie the other two opposite corners ro make the spice bag.
5. In a large stainless steel pot, combine the vegetable mixture with the vinegar, water, sugar, turmeric and the spice bag. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Uncover and boil for 5 minutes, stirring frquently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently for one hour, until thickened to the consistency of a thin commercial relish--about 20 minutes.
6. Discard spice bag.
7. Ladle hot relish into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot relish. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is "fingertip tight." (In other words as tight as you can fasten with just your fingers).
8. If you are preserving the picallili for long-term shelf storage, process jars in boiling water to cover for ten minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
9. If you are storing in the refrigerator rather than processing for shelf storage, let the jars cool for one hour, then store in refrigerator.


Onions are optional. In fact all the vegetables are interchangeable in picalilli.  Tumeric gives the pickle a distinctive yellow hue, and a hint at its Indian origins.

Have you eaten or made picalilli or chow-chow?  What were the ingredients? I’d love to know if they differ in various parts of the country.

Waffles: An Invitation to Dinner

When I mentioned on line that I followed my mother’s tradition of making a main course of apple dumplings  (with or without a side dish of cold cuts and cheese slices), friends on social media wanted to come to my house for dinner.  So how would you like an Invitation to dinner with a main course of waffles?

waffles for dinner

Waffles for dinner with knockwurst and syrup

After talking about Waffle Iron Cookies, it occurred to me that I have never talked about making waffles–a mainstay on most of my grandmother’s tables and mine.  If you think of waffles only as a breakfast food, you’re missing a base for an easy meal that is good any time and highly flexible.

A Bit of History

The history of waffles on the Mental Floss website reveals some things you might not have known and some tools you may never have seen. From Belgian waffles to frozen Eggos, waffles kept growing in popularity. Thomas Jefferson, a real conoisseur of good food, brought not one but four waffle irons home from Holland. And if you’re daring, follow the link from the waffle history article to a book that includes a description of a “wafle-frolic” in Colonial New York state.

Mental Floss tells us that the first waffle mix was marketed in 1889, and the first electric waffle iron was marketed by General Electric in 1918. By the 1950s and 60s when my mother bought this little waffle iron, waffles were taken for granted.

Toastmaster Waffle Iron

Toastmaster Waffle Iron

Make Your Own Waffles

Although there are simple one-egg recipes that do not call for separating the eggs and beating the egg whites, I have tried many waffle recipes and am convinced that separated eggs make a big difference in light and crispy waffles.  I also like to use buttermilk, but for those who don’t like buttermilk (here’s looking at my sister, Paula) I have included two recipes here–one with plain milk.

The plain milk recipe comes from an interesting little cookbook I picked up second hand. I love hand written recipes. I also love notes found in old books. So this book brings the best of both those quirky loves. It is called Handwritten Recipes: A Bookseller’s Collection of Curous and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages. The title says it all.  He reproduces the handwritten recipes and transcribes them with a few notes.  He also shows us what book the handwritten and forgotten recipe was stuck inside.

Waffle Iron and Recipe Book

Waffle iron and recipe book.

Just as some old recipe books start with things like “First catch a rabbit,”  the first step in a waffle recipe might need to be


This is mine, a mid-century Toastmaster brand 8″ round waffle iron inherited from my mother. It has a chrome finish, a non-stick interior and bakelite handles and dial.

waffle iron and recipe

Waffle iron open and recipe

Although I have never greased it before use, waffles never stick and the non-stick finish has not peeled or cracked.

The Waffle Recipes and a Helpful Hint

The anonymous person who wrote the recipe in the “Handwritten Recipes” book, included on her recipe note, instructions on keeping the waffle iron clean. and a “formula.”


2 tablespoons baking soda

1 teaspoon water

Brush iron grids. Do not do this often. Never wash grid after cooking as it sticks.

These two recipes–with plain milk or with buttermilk–use basically the same ingredients. However, please note the difference in amounts of baking powder and the addition of baking soda in the buttermilk recipe. When baking with buttermilk, it is necessary to substitute baking soda for at least part of the baking powder.

Why did Mrs. Anonymous call her waffles “Universal Waffles?” Probably because it is the recipe that came with her waffle maker, a Universal brand.

Universal Waffles

Serves 4
From book Handwritten Recipes by Michael Popek
A hand written recipe found by the author of Handwritten Recipes in a 1940-era cookbook, makes a waffle that is hard to improve on.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter (Melted)


1. Preheat waffle iron.
2. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into mixing bowl
3. Beat yolks of eggs well into milk [beat in melted butter]. Add a little at a time [to dry ingredients] stirring until perfectly smooth.
4. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.


This recipe comes from a book called Handwritten Recipes: A Bookseller's Collection of Curioius and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages.

Although the recipe's author says it feeds four, the book's author questions that, and I tend to agree.  As a side dish with a lot of other things on the table, maybe.  In my small round waffle iron, this recipe made five 7-inch waffles.

The person who wrote the recipe suggested adding the butter into the batter after adding the milk and egg.  I have changed it to adding melted butter into the milk and egg mixture because I think the butter blends better that way. [brackets in the instructions indicate my additions to the written recipe.]

The handwritten recipe card also contains a valuable hint on cleaning the waffle iron.

Do not clean with soap and water.  Instead, just brush off the crumbs.  Every few uses, you may clean with a paste made of 2 tablespoons baking powder and one teaspoon of water, which is rubbed on and brushed off.

My favorite buttermilk waffle recipe is adapted from Joy of Cooking.

Buttermilk Waffles

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Meal type Breakfast, Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • 6 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1 3/4 cup buttermilk


1. Heat oven to 250, if you are going to keep waffles warm before serving. Heat waffle iron. Melt butter.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl
3. Separate eggs, and put egg yolks in small bowl
4. Whisk buttermilk into eggs
5. Slowly pour melted butter into buttermilk/egg mixture.
6. Add the liquid ingredients to flour mixture and stir as short a time as possible--just until dry ingredients are blended in.
7. In separate, clean bowl, beat egg whites until firm but not dry and fold into the other ingredients.
8. Spoon batter (which will be thick) into hot waffle iron, not filling to edges. When you close lid, it will smooth out to full layer. Follow manufacturer directions for length of cooking time. (The 7" round waffle iron I use takes 5-6 minutes per waffle.)
9. You can keep waffles on a rack in a 250 degree oven until all are baked. If you have leftovers, see notes below.


If you have never made waffles before, you need to learn how much batter to put in the waffle iron.  It probably takes less than you think it will need, so go easy with the first one until you figure it out.  Your waffle iron may come with instructions about amount of batter to use, and how long to bake the waffle.

You can add many ingredients to waffles to make the sweet or savory.  I like to add grated cheese or grated apples or blueberries.

Serve with butter to melt into the hot waffles, and syrup or applesauce to fill up the indentations.

Bacon or sausage or eggs go well with waffles.

This has been my response to the challenge of the week from 52 Ancestors  “Invitation to Dinner.”