Grandmother’s Bread

By way of my sister’s recipe box, comes this memory.

Scald all together and set aside to cool:

  • 2 c. milk
  • 2/3 c. shortening*
  • 5 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp salt

Add 2 cups water to above mixture.

  • 1 cake yeast**
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 13-14 c. flour (approx, depending on flour)

Crumble yeast into water to soften. Sift flour into large bowl; shape a hole in the middle and gradually add milk mixture and yeast, beating constantly to keep mixture smooth. Mix until a medium stiff dough is formed. Knead on a floured board until smooth. Place in a greased bowl and brush with melted shortening.

Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch down and let rise again, then shape into 3 or 4 loaves (depending on size of pans). Place in greased bread pans; let rise again until double in bulk on top of pan. Bake in hot oven (425) for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to moderately hot oven (375) and bake 25-30 minutes longer. Large loaves take a little longer. Remove from pans and brush crusts with butter. Put on a rack or cloth to cool.

* shortening, known in some circles as lard and in others as Crisco.

** fresh yeast = compressed yeast = active fresh yeast = cake yeast = baker’s compressed yeast = wet yeast Equivalents: 2-ounce cake = 3 X 0.6-ounce cakes Notes: This form of yeast usually comes in 0.6-ounce or 2-ounce foil-wrapped cakes. It works faster and longer than active dry yeast, but it’s very perishable and loses potency a few weeks after it’s packed. It’s popular among commercial bakers, who can keep ahead of the expiration dates, but home bakers usually prefer dry yeast. To use, soften the cake in a liquid that’s 70° – 80° F. Store fresh yeast in the refrigerator, well wrapped, or in the freezer, where it will keep for up to four months. If you freeze it, defrost it for a day in the refrigerator before using. Substitutes: active dry yeast (Substitute one package or 2 1/4 teaspoons for each .6-ounce cake of compressed yeast) OR instant yeast (Substitute one package or 2 1/4 teaspoons for each cake of compressed yeast) OR bread machine yeast (Substitute 2 1/4 teaspoons for each cake of compressed yeast) [I’m still deciphering this paragraph.]

Grenadine

Many cocktails call for grenadine, which, it seems, is much more than Red No. 40 and high-fructose corn syrup. It’s pomegranates! Who knew? (The FDA seems not to care.)

But more importantly, can we make it at home?

Once one finds Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s recipe for grenadine, one can.

Morgenthaler’s Grenadine

  • 2 c. fresh pomegranate juice or POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate
  • 2 c. unbleached sugar
  • 2 oz. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp. orange blossom water

Heat juice slightly, just enough to allow other ingredients to dissolve easily. Stir in remaining ingredients, allow to cool, and bottle. Yields two cups.

But I’m missing a couple of ingredients.

Luckily, around the time I was looking for pomegranate molasses, I saw Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode on the pomegranate, and he covered the topic.

Pomegranate Molasses

  • 2 c. pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 TBsp. lemon juice

Dissolve sugar in pomegranate juice and lemon juice over medium heat. Once the sugar dissolves, simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by 3/4, or the consistency of a thick syrup. Remove from heat and cool. Yields four to six ounces.

I called a number of ethnic groceries in Dutchess County searching for orange blossom water, with no luck. Another recipe online used vanilla, so I substituted that. Thus we end up with

Grenadine

  • 2 c. pomegranate juice
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 oz. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Dissolve the sugar in the pomegranate juice over low heat. Add molasses and vanilla; stir to combine. DO NOT BOIL. Remove from heat and bottle. Yields two cups.

Things to do with Vermouth

I have a rather large bottle of Cinzano Extra Dry Vermouth in my refrigerator. One might ask why I have such a large bottle. That’s easily explained: it was the smallest vermouth sold at the store I visited the day I purchased vermouth. Why am I looking for small bottles of vermouth? Mainly because I use it slowly, and I do wish to avoid spoilage. The Cinzano has a much stronger flavor than the Noilly Prat vermouth I normally use, and so is being consumed even more slowly.

How else, other than a martini, would one use that extra liter of vermouth?

A friend from work recommended using it in potato soup. That’s a thought: cook with it. Does anyone have some recipe suggestions?

Buffalo Trace Bourbon Marinade

  • 1/4 c. Buffalo Trace Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Combine the ingredients, then let your meat soak in it for several hours before grilling, turning every now and again to ensure that the meat is covered. I just put the flank steak for tonight and the marinade in a Ziplock freezer bag. They’ll sit in the refrigerator for the next eight hours.

Grandmother’s Creamed Tomatoes

From my younger sister, Grandmother Cox’s recipe for Creamed Tomatoes

  • 1 pint whole tomatoes
  • pinch of baking soda
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3 Tbsp butter

Empty tomatoes into saucepan and crush them. Add pinch of baking soda (prevents milk from curdling) and stir. Put over medium heat. While tomatoes are heating, whisk together in a bowl, flour and milk (or shake in a jar). Add milk mixture to warm tomatoes. Heat until starting to bubble. Stir in butter, salt and pepper. Serve over buttered toast.

These measurements are estimates. My Grandmother didn’t measure and neither do I. In her words when she taught me how to make these, “Sometimes you get them too thick and you have to add milk and sometimes they’re too thin and you have to add flour.”

A Pinch of Mustard

On the shelf is a bottle of mustard. Or, to be more precise, “You Could Win $25,000 see back for details French’s since 1904 Made with Real Honey Honey Mustard.” Mustard is the smallest word on the label. Let’s check what’s in this, shall we? The ingredients, listed in order of quantity, are “distilled vinegar, water, high fructose corn syrup, #1 grade mustard seed, sugar, corn syrup, carrot oleoresin (color), honey, spices and garlic powder.”

Not much honey in that “honey” mustard.

So what we’ve got here is honey- and mustard-flavored corn syrup in a vinegar solution. Compare that to French’s yellow mustard,

Distilled Vinegar, Water, No.1 Grade Mustard Seed, Salt, Turmeric, Paprika, Spice, Natural Flavors and Garlic Powder.

or to another Reckitt-Benkiser product: Colman’s mustard.

Water, Mustard Flour, Sugar, Salt, Wheat Flour, Turmeric, Citric Acid.

or a competitor, Plochman’s,

White Distilled Vinegar and Water, #1 Grade Mustard Seed, Salt, Turmeric, Onion Powder, Spices, Natural Flavoring

though none of these are honey mustard. What does Kraft‘s Grey Poupon Savory Honey Mustard contain?

MUSTARD SEED, WATER, APPLE CIDER VINEGAR, VINEGAR, BROWN SUGAR, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, HONEY, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF SALT, FRUIT PECTIN, CITRIC ACID, SPICE, TURMERIC, SUGAR, CARAMEL COLOR, PAPRIKA.

That’s better.

Instead, try this recipe from Alton Brown, which consists of honey, mustard, and vinegar.

What is it about honey in the mind of product development that says it means sickly sweet?

Steamed Artichokes

Look for artichokes that are hard through, with the petals tight together. It’s OK if the petals have begun to open, but you do not want the base of the artichoke to be soft.

Cut 1″ off the top of the artichoke. This removes the sharp points.

Trim the stalk to within 1″ of the base of the artichoke.

Peel the outer layer from the stalk.

Rinse under cold water, spreading the petals so that the water can run into the flower.

Place base-down in a pot. If necessary, use a coffee cup in the center to keep the artichokes from flopping over.

Add sufficient water to cover the stem.

Add peppercorns to the water.

Cover the tops of the flowers with chopped garlic.

Drizzle olive oil over all.

Cover.

Bring water to a boil, then simmer until the petals pull freely from the artichoke and are to taste, approximately 45 mins. to an hour.

— Concetta Visioni Clorofilla.

I Spent My Last $10 on Birth Control, and Beer

The bagel shop is raising prices. The pizza place is raising prices. And a six-pack of my favorite beer has just passed $10 at the grocer.

What, you may ask, am I doing buying beer at the grocer’s? It’s convenient, but that’s beside the point. The point is that commodity prices are going up. The market is perturbed and passing the costs on to me. I might have to start drinking less!