Christmas Cookies of Yesteryear – 1969 (Danish Sugar Cookies)

November 23, 2020 Leave a comment

This is the second cookie of this series. I’ve had versions of this cookie and may have even had this exact recipe. If you skip an ingredient and a step you get a standard cookie for decorating. It is not very unique to me and actually shows that this cookies goes back more than 40 years. In fact, this cookie is far older than the 1969 book it came out of.

When it comes to decorating cookies the sugar cookie is often loved by children and appears to be hated by mothers who make it. I guess it is like Easter eggs. The decorating is more fun than the actual work to make them and the clean up. This was a featured cookie in our family until this year. Due to circumstances, no one really wants to make them, though I am guessing my sons will have second thoughts. It was always fun to see how the kids would decorate the cookies. My niece was very neat and talented in decorating but my oldest son was the idea guy. He would develop new ways to decorate in which my niece would copy. Hers were lovely. My oldest also had a knack for doing strange decorations such as the reindeer shaped cookie with an arrow wound. Yes, it even had red blood. My youngest really wasn’t interested in the decorating but joined in just to have something to do with his cousin and sibling.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 C AP flour, sifted
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 C firm butter
  • 1/2 C vegetable shortening (Crisco is one option)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Granulated sugar for rolling

DIRECTIONS

Sift dry ingredients into bowl; cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in egg and vanilla; dough is fairly soft. Shape in 1 inch balls; roll in granulated sugar and place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Flatten to 1/2 inch thickness with bottom of glass dipped in granulated sugar. Bake at 350°F (177°C) about 12 minutes or until delicately browned. Makes 5 1/2 dozen cookies

NOTES: Yes, these cookies are not what you decorate but you could decorate if you skip the granulated sugar for rolling and roll out the dough and use cookie cutters.

The use of shortening is definitely something I remember as a kid and still use today for various recipes. Shortening provides a different texture than does butter. You also get a difference in appearance between the two. So a cookie using shortening should have a crumbly texture and not spread out like butter would in a cookie.

Christmas Cookies of Yesteryear – 1967 (Pinwheel)

November 21, 2020 Leave a comment

Our family has a tradition of cookies we make each year. These cookies are the mainstay and are expected by my sons. When you have two lads you know that over 50 dozen cookies really do not last long. In fact, my wife made more than that. We had about 12 varieties we made with the standard Christmas sugar cookie being the smallest batch we make. The cookie baking morphed when my wife and her family would get together the two days after Thanksgiving to bake cookies. A few were dropped but would appear later as my sons DEMANDED them while a few others were introduced but have been dropped due to family tragedy.

When I look at the list of some of the cookies we bake or my wife bakes as I am busy doing other things there are a few that go back further. Chocolate chip, naturally, is an old one as are the peanut butter blossoms and molasses. The raisin filled cookie never made it into our repertoire of cookies though my wife liked them. In fact, it was very popular with raisin cookie lovers. Sadly for them the recipe is lost.

Thinking about Christmas I stumbled upon a batch of yearly Christmas cookie books. I am not going to make many of these but why not re-introduce some? In fact, I imagine many of these cookies are still made today. So, let’s start with a 1967 cookie book with the Pinwheel cookie.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 C butter
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 C AP flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 Tbs milk
  • 1 square unsweetened chocolate, melted

DIRECTIONS

Cream butter; add sugar gradually. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Blend in sifted dry ingredients and milk. Divide dough in half. Mix chocolate into one half of dough. Chill dough until easy to handle. Roll white dough 1/8 inch thick on floured counter. Roll chocolate dough 1/8 inch thick on floured counter. Place white dough on top of chocolate dough. Roll as for jelly roll; wrap in waxed paper; chill over night. Cut into 1/8 inch slices; place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375°F (190°C) about 8 minutes. Makes about 8 dozen.

NOTES: This is similar to a pinwheel cookie that I’ve eaten but instead of mixing the chocolate with the dough, the chocolate is melted and is spread onto the dough and then rolled like a jelly roll.

If you ever make them let me know how they work out and taste. As I do not each cookies as much as I did, this likely will never be made by my wife or me.

Enjoy.

Vanilla Malt Milkshake

November 16, 2020 Leave a comment

I grew up on McDonald’s milkshakes as that was the only fast food restaurant in the area I lived and no other place really sold milkshakes. Their milkshakes were a rarity for me. The Baskin Robbins and Dairy Queen were not worth milkshakes as you could get different ice cream and hot fudge. McDonald’s always tasted fake. As I got older, I had the opportunity to try other milkshakes and they were okay, but it wasn’t until Chick-fil-A moved near me, about 45 minutes away, did I find a milkshake I actually enjoyed. Yes, I am a vanilla person. All other flavors are okay, but there is one flavor I will take over vanilla – a vanilla malt shake.

The first one I ever had was at Cedar Point many years ago when my wife and I visited. She got one and I tried it and liked it. there is an ongoing argument where she states she never had malted shakes before while I argue that she had to have had them as she told me to try one as she enjoyed them. To back me up, she worked at an ice cream parlor as a teenager and could make different milkshakes. I believe the syrup was what she would have used. As for me, when I make my own malted shakes I use a simpler ingredient.

Yes, I use Carnation Malted Milk. It works perfectly for home milkshake making. I love mine very malty, so it is always the last to be made. And no, I really do not care for cherries on top. Most of the time I won’t use whipped cream either. I’ll keep adding the powder until and taste to see when I am satisfied with my shake. One secret I do use that I don’t tell my wife is if we have heavy whipping cream, well, I use it. You get the best milkshake then.

Our family process of making milkshakes includes these ingredients: milk, ice cream, vanilla extract, Carnation Malted Milk for my wife and me. I always make my sons’ shakes first as they do not enjoy malted milkshakes. Next is my wife and me. I’ll add enough for her and pour hers out before adding more and mixing it some more. The difficulty in writing down a recipe is that each person has a different milkshake requirement. With my sons, one likes his thin while the other a little thicker. My wife and I even have different milkshake profiles. Four different styles of milkshakes for us.

If you want a malted milkshake just buy Carnation Malted Milk or Ovaltine. As I do not drink milkshakes very often anymore, the powder does clump up but that is never an issue. It is easy to break up and will dissolve.

Christmas 2020 Meal Update

November 14, 2020 Leave a comment

The biggest area of concern for me has been the side dishes. My wife has put in a request for garlic mashed potatoes, so that is one dish down. I was hoping for two more and may have just found them.

Normally, by the end of October I know my menu, but this year is very different. As we have a new guest, provided they have quarantined themselves for two weeks, I need to adjust my menu items. Prime rib is always perfect and my wife won’t complain if she doesn’t have to cook on Christmas Day. She would prefer a turkey but I don’t do turkeys. We all have our weakness or in my case something that doesn’t interest me. Drinks are always easy, though I like to experiment with new types.

As the main course, the prime rib with au jus is the mainstay. I am not allowed to deviate from this by order of my sons. This will include the roast, spices, and two bottles of Malbec. The worst part of this is cooking the rib properly and burning it at the same time. Main course – done.

Drinks will be the wine, scotch, eggnog, soda, water, and maybe coffee. Scotch is the new thing this year, and it is more of a taste test thing for us as there will be four of us that will drink it. I have the Glencairn glass to pretend we know what we are doing.

Appetizers are a little up in the air, but a charcuterie board is one element we are considering. A spinach and artichoke dip will be made again this year. There is a place that sells goat cheese near where we will be having this meal, so I want to see if I can somehow sample some of their cheese and find some that doesn’t have the funky taste to it. Not everyone likes that.

The dessert will be a cheesecake as ordered by my wife. I will create a blueberry topping and if I have frozen strawberries that, too, will be part of my topping. I may default to some Christmas cookies. The dessert will be simpler this year.

I believe my side dishes are finished. As stated, garlic mashed potatoes are one side. A mixed vegetable sabzi and roasted broccoli with garlic and lemons are the the final selections of my sides. I need to try out the sabzi before I finalize it as I am not sure how it will go with my meal.

This is going to be a huge undertaking as I am transporting just about all of my cooking equipment and food. The kitchen isn’t mine, but I will run it like mine. I better get a third bottle of Malbec, I guess. The goal is to do two rib roasts which will take the entire oven. the roasted broccoli will go into the lower oven which is nice. Everything else should be able to be done on the stove top. I’ll also have to find out what refrigeration space I have. I’ll need a lot of it. I can hope it will be in the 20s while I’m there, so I can store some foods outside or in enclosed areas that will remained cold.

Finally, this requires everyone to be healthy and pay attention to their surrounding before getting together. Another factor to consider is if there is another lockdown where we have shortages of items. That will change everything. It is November and the holiday season has begun. I love this type of stress unlike the one I get paid for.

Chocolate No-Bake Cookie With Coconut

November 14, 2020 Leave a comment

I developed a new recipe with no-bakes, but I know that if I do an internet search someone will have beaten me to the punch. Surely, I’m not the only “inventor” of this cookie. Actually, I developed multiple version of this. I’m not going to do a search as I want my genius to stand for a day. It can come crashing to Earth tomorrow.

No-bakes are not my style of cookie, though my wife enjoys them. When she made the original a few days ago I decided to make it more palatable for me and I added nuts and then coconut. They work! Adding coconut made these taste like the chocolate coconut haystacks you find at a candy store. There is so much you can do with no-bakes. Generally, dessert style foods are always the best to evolve with meats coming in second. Vegetables and fruit are too finite.

INGREDIENTS

  • Put in a pan
    • 2 C sugar
    • 1/4 C cocoa
    • 1/2 C milk
    • 1/4 lbm butter (1 stick)
  • Add afterward
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 C peanut butter
    • 3 C quick oats
    • 1 C shredded coconut

DIRECITONS

Place the first four ingredients in a sauce pan under medium heat. Heat and stir occasionally until it boils. Allow to boil for one minute and remove from the heat.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Either spoon onto wax paper or pour into a brownie dish or pie plate.

NOTES: As an alternative, you can add nuts or combine the nuts with the coconut. You may have to adjust your amounts. I went with 1 cup this time but will add more in the future.

As I stated, the version I had before tasted like coconut haystacks. It doesn’t have the same texture but was similar to me. If I am going to eat no-bakes then I won’t mind having coconut included.

An update. I couldn’t wait a day to find other versions of this. My genius has crashed. Goes to show that nearly all recipes are unknowingly repeated from time to time.

Philly Cheesesteak

November 10, 2020 Leave a comment

It has been years since I was in Philly and had one of the original cheesesteaks. Upon reflection, I can’t say whether or not the cheesesteak was any good. Since then cheesesteaks have come and gone with me. None of the cheesesteaks are the “original” version, but that never mattered to me as I enjoy what is usually included. A month ago we had some cheesesteaks at an outdoor cookout and we decided to try this with an indoor griddle, the Cuisinart Griddler.

The cheesesteak for today was to make the original, but there are always a few twists to be had. This one is no different. My wife enjoys having onions with hers. As this was her idea, I went along with it.

The following recipe isn’t precise. You make what you want to make and can save the excess. This one is done in general terms. All the vegetables are optional and if you really don’t want to try Cheez Whiz then another cheese will do.

INGREDIENTS

  • Thinly sliced beef or chipsteak (I do not recommend Steak-umms)
  • Cheez Whiz (Yes, the fake cheese in a jar that uses the whey)
  • Onions, chopped and grilled to your liking (optional)
  • Steak buns
  • Vegetables of your choosing and grilled to your liking (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Chop or slice the onions and any vegetable to your desire. Put a little oil on the griddle or just place the beef onto the griddle and grill them. As the beef near the completion of cooking add the onions and veggies to the griddle and cook these down. You may begin to toast your bun at this point. When everything is done cooking, apply the Cheez Whiz to the bun or apply it on the meat.

NOTES:

How you construct this sandwich is up to you. You can preheat the Cheez Whiz in a pan and spoon it onto the sandwich if you want. What I personally do is cook the meat and vegetables and place them to the side for everyone to make their own. If you want the cheese spread to melt you can broil the sandwich for a short time in the oven. I’ve done it different ways and it depends on my mood and where I am making these and how fast I want them.

Death of a Cookbook?

November 10, 2020 Leave a comment

I have a bookshelf full of cookbooks many going back to the 70s or earlier. I have a Sunbeam cookbook from the 60s. They are interesting but the 60s and 70s appear to be a period of quick and cheap meals where store bought items are used instead of scratch. I am talking about stuffing, mashed potatoes, Bisquick items that you buy in the store instead of making on your own. These items then are inserted into recipes such as casseroles which I recall as the rage of the 70s. If my mind is faulty just know that I was a wee little lad.

What is interesting is that I still encounter the cooks of the 70s where the casseroles is the main dish with Stove Top stuffing. They lack taste. No, they taste artificial. In fact, I have become rather good at pointing out the 70s meal. I guess you do if you have eaten enough of it, though growing up my mother really didn’t use the instant foods, though Bisquick was a common ingredient for our pancakes. Other households used those time savers in exchange for flavor.

Now to the cookbook that has some of these ingredients in the recipe and has produce meal failures every time we have used it. This isn’t to say that all of the recipes are a failure but all of the ones we made have been disliked by all. My wife mentioned something about trashing it. It will likely be relegated to the never will be considered again group.

I might as well as add one recipe that I found intriguing but have never made. It has one ingredient that I have not had since I was about 12. I do fondly remember the ingredient and the commercials for Nestle’s Quik. I loved it and my grandmother always had it for me. At home, it was a rarity.

HOT FUDGE SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 C Nestle’s Quik chocolate
  • 1/4 C milk
  • 1/4 C corn syrup
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Nuts, optional

DIRECTIONS

Combine first 3 ingredients and bring to full boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in butter, vanilla, and nuts. Serve warm or cold over ice cream or cake. Makes 1 cup.

NOTES: As I’ve stated, I have never made this but believe it would taste just like the drink. If you do try this let me know.

Hot Fudge Sauce or Hot Chocolate Sauce

November 9, 2020 Leave a comment

I have been a Hershey’s Hot Fudge Sauce person nearly my entire life. I happen to like it. Over the summer, there was a discussion about hot fudge sauce where one person said they were a connoisseur of hot fudge sauce and thus a little bit of a snob. They didn’t like Hershey’s. That is fine with me. His wife made some of her homemade sauce for a gathering and we had sundaes. I immediately noted the peanut butter flavor which invalidates it as a hot fudge sauce and well, Hershey’s is better. This hasn’t stopped us from trying different homemade versions.

You gotta have nuts with a sundae

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 Tbs cornstarch
  • 3 Tbs cocoa
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 C milk

DIRECTIONS

Blend ingredients well and cook until thickened. Serve warm over ice cream.

NOTES:

My first impression was the light color of the hot fudge followed by the thinness. In fact, it was slightly thicker than Hershey’s chocolate syrup. My initial reaction to the taste was hot chocolate. It tasted like hot chocolate. When you look at the ingredients you see hot chocolate. No, this is one I don’t care for.

Chili Velveeta Shells & Cheese

October 30, 2020 Leave a comment

One food that I was never fond of is macaroni and cheese. In college, I tolerate the cheap versions simply due to the fact I needed food. I lived on cheap cans of tuna and mac & cheese before I ran out of money and ended up eating microwaved potatoes and hot sauce. Yes, that would be my staple for the last week or two of school. Being a starving student is also the reason why I enjoy Jewish Passover foods my friends would give me. Upon graduating, I vowed I wouldn’t touch macaroni and cheese. I have endured this stuff for the sake of my sons but have avoided it whenever it was brought to a picnic, cookout, or some family gathering or scouting event. There is only one single instance where I enjoyed mac & cheese and that was when my wife made it during our early years of marriage. She doesn’t remember how she made it and I avoid mac & cheese.

My son’s version of mac n cheese

Today I experience Velveeta Shells & Cheese prepared by my son. He has been raving about his version and today I asked to try a little. This is his definition of a little. I was thinking more of a spoonful. How does it taste?

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (12 oz) Velveeta Shells & Cheese
  • 1 – 2 Tbs Taco or chili seasoning (I make my own but I guess you can use the packet)

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the shell and cheese according to the directions. As you stir the Velveeta cheese add the taco seasoning and mix it together.

It is as simple as that. As for the taste, I was surprised. It goes well with macaroni and cheese. If you enjoy macaroni and cheese as well as chili or Mexican then you should enjoy this. There should be caution using the taco seasoning with different types of cheeses if you make your own macaroni and cheese. My assumption is that some cheeses to not go well with taco seasoning.

If this style of food is for you then give it a try. For me, I still do not care for macaroni and cheese. My son loves his version and even eats it with Doritos Sweet Spicy Chili flavored chips. Goodness, I’ve tried to break him of the processed foods habit.

Christmas Elsewhere

October 30, 2020 Leave a comment

This year’s Christmas dinner has been changed in terms of location and what I can serve. My original design was making a meal at our house and the menu was all about completed. Due to less about what has happened this year and more about what has happened within the family, a change needed to be made and my wife made the decision. My job is now to redo the menu and find what I need in order to make the meal. I love this type of challenge. I just hate shipping my equipment.

The bonus this year is that I will have two ovens to use. The lower oven will be excellent for any side item I want to make, so that provides me with an opportunity to make sides that I never could make without compromising my rib roast. The larger oven will be working with two rib roasts, one to ruin for those that like it charred and one to do properly. Now I have to find a few side dishes.

When it comes to dessert and preparation this means I either do it at home or travel earlier to the new location and make the dessert and prepare the meat. That element must be discussed before a decision is made. Also, we need to be aware of the virus and isolation. I can stay safely at home and not be exposed, but again, that is not my decision. My wife gets that decision.

When it comes to making desserts I have to take in account what a few people like. Normally, I make two desserts that appeases everyone but this year it is three. I am leaning towards a cheesecake. I can make this in advance and freeze it. As for a topping, it is easy to whip up a strawberry and blueberry topping. My second dessert selection is more difficult, though I could do a simple cake like the microwave cake that I made or even ask my wife to make a pie for me. I may be relying on her support. I still need to ponder on this.

When it comes to drinks I am going with my eggnog. The Christmas bishop is still too much for the few drinkers we have, so I may have wine from my au jus that I make, Scotch, maybe beer, eggnog and sodas that will be there. I’m not concerned about the drinks.

In terms of appetizers, the salmon idea is right out as this is part of the limitations I was given. That was going to be my main theme for appetizers this year. The appetizers will be an entire new idea and I am thinking of using goat cheese provided by the local cheesemonger. That will require some salami and crackers.

Normally, I do not allow myself to be limited to what I will make, but the food limitations was requested by my wife and for good reason. What makes this more difficult is the pandemic we are experiencing. Everything can change at the last minute. I fear that some ingredients will become difficult to find as people panic with the increase of infections. Some people believe they require cases of seldom used items. This really is no different than the single day snowstorms we get and everyone buys all of the milk and bread as if they will be snowed in for months. It never fails that when we get these snowstorms it is when our standard grocery shopping day is, thus we are battling the panicking people. My biggest fear is not being able to get two rib roasts. I think I should have bought the brisket that was on sale the other day as a backup. We could have brisket for Christmas if needed.

I need to write out every ingredient like I always do and have to write out every cooking item I need to take with me. I have learned that the knives, cutting boards, pans, and whatever else you can think of are not sufficient for what I do. There will be knife sharpening beforehand and a lot to pack. Packing this material is something I am not looking forward to.