Tag Archives: heritage recipe

Apple Pie Flavored Applesauce in Herloom Glass Bowl

Apples are such a mainstay of American cooking, that I have written about several ways to prepare them, but I have not talked about the simplest thing to do with a surplus of apples–make homemade applesauce. My grandmother (Vera Stout Anderson) cooked apples frequently. So it is only fitting that I follow the #52 Ancestors theme of the week, and serve the applesauce in Grandma’s pressed glass bowl.

Grandma had an old apple tree on the back of her Killbuck Ohio property and the apples were tiny but tasty, so although I don’t recall seeing her pick them, I suspect that some of those delicious stewed apples she made came from that tree. (I tinkered with that recipe, too, adding molasses instead of sugar.)

A Basket of Apples

I found a way to give my applesauce a little twist in flavor that makes it taste just like apple pie. Yum! Warning: This is a recipe where you have to trust your taste buds. Every variety of apple has a different amount of sugar, and even within varieties the sugar level will vary from month to month, so there is no way to get it properly seasoned except to taste, add, taste again. Only four ingredients here, with one more optional.

Apple Pie Applesauce

To make one quart plus a bit:

Wash, core, and cut in quarters or eighths about ten to twelve apples. (No need to peel).

Put them in a large saucepan and add water up to about half the height of the apples. If you cover them with water, you’ll just have to boil it away later, losing valuable nutrients.

Heat to a simmer, and simmer until you can easily puncture through the skin with a fork.

Let cool slightly and put in blender, or better yet, use a blender wand to mash them fine. (Poor Grandma, she had to use a potato masher.)

applesauce

A new twist on a vintage recipe served in an heirloom bowl.

Taste for sweetness and add a little sugar if you think it needs it.  Go slowly. You won’t need much sugar, if you want to keep the apple taste.  I added NO sugar to the batch I made with Liberty apples.

Sprinkle some nutmeg over. Taste. Again, this amount needs to be increased very slowly, with lots of tasting to be sure you don’t overdo it.

Finally, the secret ingredient that makes it taste like apple pie–add 1/2 teaspoon or so of vanilla extract.

Should fill a quart jar with maybe some left over.  Chill.

If you want it to taste even more like apple pie, heat the applesauce and add a pat of butter and serve it warm. (I’m making me hungry).

Grandma’s Glass Bowl

Heirloom glass bowl

Side view of Grandma’s glass bowl with scalloped edge

This is definitely not the fanciest antique that I have in my collection, but I love it because I remember it always being used on my Grandma Vera’s table.  It no doubt belonged to her mother, and so I speculate it dates from the late 1800’s. I tried doing a Google Image Search to find out something about this bowl, and while that has worked for other of the artifacts I inherited, I failed to find anything.

Heirloom Glass Bowl

Top down view of grandma’s glass blowl showing the distinctive leaf/petal pattern.

I would welcome any information anyone might have on this type of bowl. There is no hallmark on the bottom.

Heirloom glass bowl

Upside-down view of Grandma Vera’s Glass Bowl

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

potatoesPotatoes. Such a plentiful and cheap food for my Irish and British ancestors, and the early settlers in America.  But they can get boring (apologies to my sister who never met a potato she didn’t like). So our ancestors in aprons found a variety of ways to cook them.

A dish of Scalloped Potatoes, like Welsh Rarebit is a old-fashioned comfort food.

But before I get to today’s recipe for Scalloped Potatoes, I want to tell you about my experience at stoop labor–digging potatoes.

When I was attending Killbuck High School in Ohio, the class always wanted to raise money with various projects. Other than buying something to leave as a gift for the school when we graduated, I don’t know what the money was for.  But I do know of one smart farmer up near Wooster who figured out how to take advantage of the high school slave labor market.

The potato farmer contacted schools and offered to pay some paltry amount to a class if they came and dug potatoes in his fields during potato harvesting time. Our class bit.  It was quite a lark–particularly for the townies. The kids who came from farms may have been thinking we were downright crazy. On the other hand, they probably didn’t go along because they were doing actual work on their own farms.

We piled into a school bus (rules for outings were more lenient in the 50s) and were delivered at the potato field.  The furrows had already been dug up mechanically, so all we had to do was pick up the potatoes and put them in a sack and carry them back to where they were being weighed.  What was a lot of fun with a lot of joking and flirting and competition, got old really fast as dirt caked our arms and legs and muscles screamed from all that hauling.

In retrospect, that day in the potato field might have had something to do with the inordinately high percentage of students from our tiny school who wound up going to college. Anything but potato picking to make a living!

Meanwhile, although that experience might have had something to do with my disdain for eating potatoes, there was one dish my grandma Vera Anderson, and my mother, Harriette Kaser made that I loved for its creamy goodness.

scalloped potatoes prep

scalloped potatoes ready for the oven with flour sprinkled over the slices.

I have tried to find out why scalloped potatoes are called “scalloped”.  Among the various theories, the most likely is that “escalloped” refers to meat sliced very thin.  The secret of success with scalloped potatoes is thin slicing–the term probably moved over to potatoes.  I would have thought that might be a Norman word imported into England, but Google sources say it comes from the Old English word “collops,” referring to shredded meat. Whatever.

Basically, scalloped potatoes require only potatoes, salt and pepper, butter and milk or cream. I learned the hard way that adding flour helps make the sauce into sauce instead of just a bowl of milk.  From the beginnings you can add cheese (for au gratin–or “cheesy scalloped potatoes”) or meat, or different seasonings.

The technique varies, too.  Cook the potatoes first before layering and baking. Cook the sliced potatoes in the sauce before baking. Cook covered. Cook uncovered.  Here’s a heritage recipe that worked well for me (and other than the fact that I don’t recall my mother using flour, seems to parallel the family recipe).

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes

The Rector Cook Book 1928

The Rector Cook Book 1928

From The Rector Cookbook by George Rector (1928)
Wash and peel the required number of potatoes and slice in 1/8 inch thickness.  Butter a baking dish and cover bottom with a layer of sliced potatoes.  Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and flour and dot with several small pieces of butter.  Continue layers of potatoes and seasonings until required quantity is used up.  Then pour milk over all and bake in a moderate oven 50 minutes.  Serve from baking dish in which they were cooked.

Oh, wait….you want details? Okay, here’s the recipe as I made it. (Except you have to decide for yourself how much salt and pepper to use.) The pyrex dish in the basket with a wooden base (pictured below) was a practical wedding present given to Ken and me and is still in use in my kitchen.

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

Serves 8
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
From book The Rector Cook Book (1928)

Ingredients

  • 6 baking potatoes (sliced thin)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter (Cut in small bits)
  • 1 1/4 cup Half and Half (Can use milk)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

1. Butter a Pyrex baking dish. 10" round as I used takes longer to bake than a flat dish.
2. Make a layer of sliced potatoes. Scatter flour lightly and salt and pepper to taste. Dot with pieces of butter.
3. Repeat layers until you use all potatoes.
4. Pour Half and Half over potatoes. You need to have the cream/milk come to the top layer of potatoes.
5. Cover with glass lid or aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Test with fork to see if potatoes are beginning to get soft.
6. When potatoes are no longer crisp, but are not yet mushy, uncover and turn up heat to 400 degrees until potatoes begin to brown on top. (At this point I added three strips of cooked bacon, broken into small pieces.)
7. if you w ant Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes, add grated cheese of your choice in the last step.

Christmas Cookies: Rhema’s raisin bars

Christmas Cookies: Raisin Bars

Put on your aprons, because we’re going to be cooking up some traditional cookie recipes this month.

 

I found the hand-written recipe headed “Raisin Bars” in my mother’s recipe box, and it looks like her handwriting, so I assumed it was her recipe for Christmas cookies. It had some tell-tale spots on it, so I knew it had actually been used–always a good sign.  But when I looked more closely, I saw that the card was printed with “From the recipe file of Rhema.” So here’s a cookie recipe from Aunt Rhema Anderson Fair.

Christmas Cookies: Raisin Bars

Aunt Rhema Fair’s Raisin Bar Recipe

As I made the Christmas cookies, I could see Aunt Rhema in a frilly pinafore apron, standing in her high heeled shoes in the kitchen, with her hair perfectly in place, as she efficiently mixed and stirred.  And although I had never made them before, I can testify that these spicy Christmas cookies are nothing short of addictive. Bet you can’t eat just one!

Fair Family 1954

Frank, Rhema, Earl and Dick Fair Christmas 1954

My mental picture of Aunt Rhema in the kitchen is very unlike me in my day-old sweatshirt and sweatpants and tennies, and who knows what my hair looked like! Thank goodness, in my case, the cook’s picture doesn’t go along with the baked goods. But I surely wish I had a picture of Aunt Rhema in her apron!

Rhema’s Raisin Bars

Serves 40-50
Cook time 30 minutes
Allergy Milk
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick butter ((1/4 pound))
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or mace
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk or fruit juice

Directions

cookies
1. Put raisins and water in pan and bring to a boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add 1 stick [1/4 pound] butter until melted. [Note: I put raisins and water in microwave in a glass cup for one minute on high, then added butter, sliced into pieces and cooked one more minute.]
cookie
2. When butter is melted, let mixture cool. and then add 1 tsp [baking] soda.
3. Sift together dry ingredients [ except powedered sugar.]
4. Pour cooled raisin mixture over flour mixture and add 1 tsp. vanilla and stir well.
5. Pour into large flat pan (greased) 12 x 15. smooth out even and bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
glaze
6. While cookies bake, mix together 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespooons fruit juice or milk, spread over hot cookies for glaze.

Note

The instructions "smooth out even" was not as easy as it sounds. I was wondering if Aunt Rhema was mistaken about the size of pan and I should have used a 9 x 12. While you could use the smaller size pan for a thicker cookie, these cookies raise enough to make a respectable bar. However, it is challenging to get the dough spread over the pan. I wet the back of a large spoon I was using a few times as I was spreading and that worked well.