Monday, January 31, 2011


I was surfing around the web and found a new artisan bakery In Chicago where my oldest Son lives.  It is called The Hoosier Mama Pie Company and is definitely a place Tom and I will want to check out.  The bakery looks like a fun place.  They make 10 different pies every day.  We love pie.  Their web site is fun to look at and on it they had baking tips for pie. I liked the tips so much that I am sharing them with you.

For blind baking, I have always used a fork to pierce the whole crust before baking.  However, I liked the idea of putting beans in a coffee filter.  I have never used the bean idea as I didn't want to deal with the beans, but the coffee filter would make that easy.

I really like the idea of "crust dust" and I will certainly try that trick the next time I make a fruit pie.

Baking Tips from the Hoosier Mama Pie Company.

Best tool for coring pears? Well, we used to use melon ballers which worked 'just okay' and had a tendency to break. One night after our last melon baller broke at the beginning of processing a box of pears, we rummaged through our tool boxes and found a tomato corer (which looks like a toothy melon baller) and found it to be the perfect tool for the job. Just slice the pears in half and scoop out the seeds & core with ease.

Blind Baking Pie Shells - "Blind baking" is the term for prebaking a pie shell prior to adding the filling. The trick is to weigh down the crust to avoid air bubbles from forming. Nothing works better for blind baking a pie shell than a large coffee filter (basket style) filled with dried beans. The filter fits perfectly into a 9" pie shell and the beans can be re-used many times.

Avoiding soggy bottom fruit pies - Along with starting out with a good hot oven to set the crust we dust the bottom of the crust with a 50/50 mixture of flour & sugar. Around the pie kitchen it is referred to as "crust dust" and is always included in any fresh fruit pies.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


When you see my dear, dear friend Nelda's name on a recipe you know it is the very best.  She is always seeking the best recipe in a category and always seems to find it.

I thought Lemon Squares would be a great dessert for either a Green Bay Packer party or a Pittsburgh Steeler party as the yellow color could be for either team as they both have yellow/gold in their colors.

I like lots of powdered sugar.  You can use less.  Whatever, enjoy!!

What makes these squares so wonderful, beside the glorious taste, is that they are extremely easy to make and freeze beautifully.  Don't let all the butter and sugar keep you from trying this recipe.  These squares are meant to be shared which means you can share the calorie load too.

You will love these squares of lemony goodness.  Enjoy!!

Nelda thought adding some lemon zest to this already wonderful recipe would make it even more fantastic. I added a teaspoon in the crust and one in the filling. The results were delightful. These squares freeze very well.

1 c butter
2 c flour
½ c powdered sugar
¼ t salt
2 t lemon zest, finely grated, divided, optional
4 eggs
6 T lemon juice
2 c sugar
4 T flour
1 t baking powder
½ t salt

Ingredients:  Flour, sugar, powdered sugar, salt, baking powder, eggs, butter and lemons.

Mix together 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, if desired, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Melt the butter in a 9x13-inch or 10x14-inch pan (I use a 9x13-inch pan). Blend into the melted butter, the flour, powdered sugar, lemon zest and salt. Press the resulting mixture down firmly in the pan to form a crust. Bake in preheated 350° oven or 325° for a glass pan for 20 minutes. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest; set aside. Sift together the 2 cups sugar, 4 tablespoon flour, teaspoon of baking powder and the ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix into egg mixture. Pour on top of baked crust while crust is still hot. Bake an additional 25 minutes at 350° or 325° for a glass pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm. Let cool. Cut into squares.

Grate lemon peel.

Juice lemons.

Put flour, salt, and powdered sugar in a bowl.

Add lemon rind, if desired.  Mix well together.

In another bowl, put sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.

Mix well together.

Put butter in baking pan of choice.

Melt butter in pan.

Add half the flour mixture and mix well together.

Mix in rest of flour.

Pat down flour/butter mixture to make a crust. Bake in preheated 325° oven for 20 minutes.

Put eggs in a bowl. 

Add lemon juice and lemon rind. 

Beat together.

Add sugar mixture.

Mix well together. 

Baked crust piping hot from the oven.

Pour egg/lemon mixture over warm crust.

Bake for another 25 minutes in 350° oven.

Put powdered sugar in a sieve.

Sprinkle powdered sugar over warm baked lemon squares.

These are so good.

Lucious lemony little squares of joy.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!!!!!!


Saturday, January 29, 2011


I learned this technique from a dear friend of Tom's cousin named Bill.  Bill lives in Wisconsin and actually has access to Packer tickets.  According to Wilipedia, the Packers have sold out every home game since 1960.  The Packers have the longest waiting lists for season tickets than any other profession sport.  There are more names on the waiting list than there are seats in Lambeau Field.  The estimated wait to get season tickets is between 30 to 100 years.  Many people who have season tickets leave them to family in their Wills.  Others put their new born child on the waiting list as soon as the child is born.  Wisconsin loves their Packers.

Brat, beer, onions and pretzel bun.  Mustard and the green plate make Packer colors.  For a awesome sauce for the brats, try Matthew's Secret Sauce  at http://michigancottagecook.blogspot.com/2011/01/kielbasapolish-sausage-how-to-cook.html

Bill showed us how he cooks bratwurst on one of his trips to visit the cousin's cottage.  It is a wonderful way to cook the brats at a tailgate or at home before the party starts as Bill's method keeps the brats warm so you can cook the brats ahead of time and concentrate on other parts of the meal.


Grilled brats
White onions, quartered and sliced
Hot dog or brat buns, I picked up pretzel buns

Ingredients:  Brats, these are pre-cooked kind, white onion, beer and buns.

Grill the brats.  I broiled them because our grill outside is under a very large pile of snow.  Slice the onions.  Put the onions in a saucepan and cover with beer.  Cook the onions and beer together for a couple of minutes.  Add grilled brats to onion/beer mixture.  Put saucepan on a warm place on the grill or turn the burner to simmer.  Cover pan and let the brats, beer and onions set until ready to serve.  To serve, put brat in a bun and add some of the onions from the beer mixture, if desired.

I put the brats on aluminum foil on the broiler pan and broiled on each side 3 to 4 minutes on high.

Quarter the white onion.

Then slice the onion.

Put onion slices in a saucepan.

Cover with beer plus enough to cover brats.  I was only cooking four brats.

Onions cooking in beer.  I can't get a picture as it steams up the camera.

Brats are grilled (broiled).

Put cooked brats in beer and onions.

Turn the heat to simmer, cover, and let the brats set until serving time.

Slice the bun down the top.

I like to remove the some of the inside of the bun to make room for the brat.

Put a brat in the bun.

Top with onions that have cooked in beer, if desired.

Add some mustard or Matthew's Secret Sauce.  Enjoy!!!!

I am a German Shepherd and I approve of brats, beer, and pretzel buns.  Where is mine, Mom??

Friday, January 28, 2011


The last time the Steelers went to the Super Bowl, I was looking for Pittsburgh food and came across Isaly's Barbecue Sauce which is combined with Isaly's shaved ham to make ham barbecue sandwiches.  Isaly is a famous Ohio and Western Pennsylvania brand.  Their ham barbecue sandwiches are a favorite treat at Steelers' tailgate parties. 

http://www.isalys.com/  This is a fun web site.

Isaly’s Chipped Chopped Ham Barbecue Sandwich
This is the sandwich recipe from their web site.

1 lb. Isaly’s Original Chipped Chopped Ham
1 jar Isaly’s Original or Spicy Flavor Barbecue Sauce

Heat up the ham in a skillet.  Mix it with Isaly’s Original or Spicy Flavor Barbecue Sauce.  Pile it on your favorite buns or Kaiser rolls and you’ve got yourself an instant family picnic to enjoy indoors or outdoors.  Serves four.

My Daughter and Family brought me back, from Pittsburgh, a jar of the original flavor sauce.  It is very mild, like a sweet ketchup, only not as thick.  So if you can't get Isaly's sauce and you are rooting for the Steelers, use a very mild barbecue sauce that is sweet and finely shaved ham to make a tailgate favorite--Isaly's Ham Barbecue Sandwich.


Thursday, January 27, 2011


I can hardly wait to get my hands on Wade Rouse's new book, It’s All Relative: A Memoir of Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays and 50 Boxes of Wine comes out February 1st.  He is scheduled to speak and sign books at the Grand Rapids Main Library on February 2nd at 7:00pm, and the Grand Haven Loutit Library on February 3rd at 7:00pm.  Weather permitting, we will be at both events.  Humor is healing and Wade is hilarious.  If you are anywhere close to either city I would recommend you make an effort to get his events.

A year ago I read Wade's book, At Least In The City Someone Would Hear Me Scream.  I laughed so hard at one point I almost fell off the couch.  Wade's books are filled with deep insights into life cloaked in roll-on-the floor humor.  It was after reading At Least In The City........ that I realized if I wanted to do something with all the material I had collected on food and cooking for the last sixty-some years, I had better get going.

Two months after reading Wade's book I started this blog.  My husband and I have had so much fun with the blog and we owe it all to Wade.  Without his inspriation, I would still be waiting for something to happen to make my dreams come true.  From Wade, I learned I have to make my dreams come true!!! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


One of the cardinal rules of doing research is to write everything down.  Everything!  I can't tell you how many times I or a co-worker would have a great experiment go really well in the pilot plant and think to ourselves, "I'll never forget how I did that one.  Wrong!  The next morning you go to work and start to write up your report and think, "how did I do that again, did I use 1 part garlic or 2?  Then you think, "Why didn't I write it down?"  Because I thought I'd never forget.

I have spent the last two days trying to recreate a recipe for soft bread sticks that I originally came up with sixteen years ago.  I have 3 pounds of bread sticks now, and I still haven't gotten the recipe correct.  I did write a couple of ingredients down, but not the directions.  It was so easy, I wouldn't forget.   To top off my frustration, my bread machine gave up the ghost. 

I have had my bread machine since 1992.  It traveled in the backseat of my little red car with The Katrinka and I, from Michigan to Great Falls, Montana.  From there we went on to Seattle, Washington a couple of times before heading back to Michigan.  That bread machine had a lot of miles on it.  It also produced loaves and loaves of wonderful bread and dinner rolls for every family occasion.  The bread sticks it made were loved by all. 

I will recreate the recipe as soon as I go to the store to get more flour.

Good-bye old friend.  I will miss you.  Thank you for a job well done.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


My Dad at John Ball Park.  He has his light meter for his camera around his neck and in the pocket of his shirt.  Taking pictures in his day was much different than our point and shot cameras are now.

I was standing in line at the store while reading a magazine.  The article I was looking at said that the newest "in" thing was going to be breakfast sandwiches made by chefs.  Reading about breakfast sandwiches brought back the memory of my Dad's favorite morning sandwich from the little diner that was across the street from his dry cleaning plant. 

So simple, so good.  Enjoy!!!

This 1950's diner breakfast sandwich is so simple and very good just the way it use to be.  However, with all the new products now available it can be dressed up many different ways to fit your individual taste.


Sizzler steaks
Kaiser rolls or other good hamburger-type roll
American cheese slices

Ingredients:  Sizzler steaks, eggs, cheese, and good-quality hamburger-type buns.

Cheeses to dress up a simple sandwich:  Gouda, Chipotle Cheddar, Cheddar, Swiss or cheese of your choice.  It is amazing the cheeses that are now available pre-sliced.

This is the seasoning that my family likes on eggs.  It is also great on pork chops or just about anything.  Do not used on cooked food.  I think it needs to be cooked on the food for best flavor.

In a frying pan, fry the sizzler steaks.  Put the cook steaks in another pan on a very low burner.  Put buns over the steaks.  Add a couple of drops of water to the pan, cover and let the buns steam while the eggs cook.  In the pan the steaks were fried in, put eggs.  Season well.  Cook to desired doneness.  Place cheese slices on eggs and let the cheese melt.  Place the steak on a bun and top with cheese covered egg.  Place bun top on the cheese.  Serve.

Sizzler steaks.

Fry in a frying pan.

Cut buns in half.

Fry steak on both sides.

Put cooked steak in another pan.  Turn the burner under this pan on low.  Put in a couple drops of water. 

Place bun halves on steak to steam.

Cover pan.

Season eggs and cook to desired doneness.

Put cheese slices over eggs to melt.  I need my Dad's light meter.

Steamed buns and steaks ready to make sandwiches.

Put steak on bottom of bun.

Top with cheese topped egg.

Place top on top of cheese.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!!!