4th of July Goodies

In celebration of the 4th of July, we always had family cookouts when we were growing up. Along with fireworks my uncle set off in the field beside our house. When fireworks were legal, of course, way back long ago!

I can still remember the Roman candles he’d set off, making sure we kids were well out of their range, and carefully aiming them away from anything that could catch on fire. (In case you’re wondering, my mother’s house was just outside the town limits, so we didn’t have to worry about any restrictions.) We also had strings of regular firecrackers, cherry bombs, and colorful sparklers that we loved to swirl and make designs with in the air, long before it became fashionable to use them for weddings! And of course, there were those round snappers we threw on the sidewalk so they’d make a sharp “bang”, leaving a tiny trail of smoke.

Oh, the fun we had…..!! And none of us got hurt, thank goodness! Would we do this for our kids now?! Heck, no!

But first of all we’d eat our dinner of charcoaled burgers and hot dogs, with my mom and my aunts contributing homemade potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw and of course potato chips and baked beans, with an occasional plate of freshly deviled eggs! What a treat it was, especially combined with Mom’s homemade iced tea punch that I’ve forgotten (sadly) how to make. Although I think it included grape juice…maybe I’ll attempt it if none of my fellow Eastern Shore friends have a similar recipe they can share.

Anyway, nothing could compare with those burgers cooked on that old charcoal grill. It was a great taste treat, with just the tiniest hint of a bit too much lighter fluid thrown on the charcoal briquettes, which somehow always added to the taste to the meat.

Dessert was usually fresh homemade ice cream, the kind you could get a massive brain freeze from if you ate it too quickly. And we usually did! With plenty of strawberries thrown over that pile of frozen vanilla goodness!

119601For years my mom used an old wooden ice cream freezer to make her homemade ice cream. I’m not sure, but it must have belonged to her mother at one time, because even back then, its once bright green paint was almost gone. The inside can had a wooden paddle inside, and we used to argue over who would get the chance to lick that paddle once the ice cream was finally frozen! We’d fill the bucket with rock salt and ice, and turn the handle, only stopping when it would barely turn any more, which meant it was finally ready! There have been many times I’ve wished for that old ice cream maker, because even using her recipe, the ice cream just doesn’t taste the same in the newer, modern appliances.

There’s just something to be said about some of those old vintage products!

Yes, those were the days, as the saying goes! And sometimes I long for those days, to just be able to re-live a few of the good times, to see if they really were as good as we remember them!

So in celebration of this year’s 4th of July, I’m sharing our family recipe for homemade ice cream. Just remember, it may not taste the same if it’s not made in that old wooden ice cream maker, but since most of us don’t have one any more, let’s just see if we can bring back a little of the old time memories, and calories, just for old times’ sake!

Mom’s Homemade Ice Cream
15 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. thin cream
1 c. cold water
1 tbl vanilla
Dash of salt

Mix ingredients together. Fill inner metal container about 2/3 full of ice cream mixture and place paddle in the middle; cover tightly so rock salt (ice cream salt) won’t leak inside.

Pack alternate layers of ice and rock salt around the metal container until the bucket is almost full. As ice melts, replace if necessary, adding any necessary salt to the mixture. Turn the handle and crank away. (It’s a good idea to have a helper or two lined up in case you get tired!)

When handle will barely turn any more, it’s ready! Remove the handle, carefully remove the cover on the inside can, and place paddle in a bowl to be enjoyed by the kids! Place ice cream in freezer until ready to serve.

Note: This makes a wonderful vanilla, however, if you wish, you can add crushed fruit of your choice, but we usually ate it with the fruit generously spooned over it.

Enjoy!

Happy July 4th!

BBQ – Chicken Eastern Shore Style

Summer is finally here! Thank GOODNESS!!! It’s been ages, at least.

Which means backyard pool parties, trips to the beach, grilling out as much as possible, lazy evenings on the porch, and lots of family, friends, and fun!

When I was growing up we had lots of family cookouts every summer. Of course we used charcoal grills, since the propane ones weren’t around yet, and I have to say that for burgers and hot dogs, and steak, charcoal far surpasses the gas grills in flavor!

But barbecued chicken is great on either grill type…especially with this recipe!

Growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I seriously never had any other kind of barbecued chicken except with this recipe. My mom or one of my aunts would make up a huge batch of it, and one of my uncles would tend the grill out back, constantly turning the pieces and basting continually until they were blackened and done! Sitting down to eat this culinary delight with homemade potato salad, macaroni salad, and fresh tomatoes was a treat beyond compare! Followed by fresh homemade ice cream, of course!

Oh, the wonderful memories….

When I first met my husband and took him to the Shore for a family cookout, I told him we were having barbecued chicken. He was anticipating the kind he grew up with in Kansas City, with their traditional red sauce, and what a surprise he had! But Ben, who could honestly eat chicken every day, actually liked it, even though he continually says, “it’s not barbecued!”

Yes it is. And every summer the highways all over the Eastern Shore are filled with BBQ Chicken fundraiser meals to go, made with this same style of sauce. It’s a tradition, and I have to say, those roadside meals are out of this world!

So here it is….there are slight ingredient measurement variations in each Shore family’s recipe, but they all taste pretty much the same. So kick off your summer grilling and enjoy a new treat! Or, if you’re from my area, see how your recipe varies from mine and throw some chicken on the grill.

Happy Eating!

1 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
3/4 c vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp pepper
3 tbl salt
1/2 tbl poultry seasoning

Mix all ingredients and either shake well, or blend with an egg beater. If not being used immediately, refrigerate til ready to grill. (Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated, but use within two days.)

Place chicken pieces on grill and baste continually with sauce, turning every 5-7 minutes, basting as they’re turned.

Enjoy!

Baby Shower Treats

You read a few weeks ago about my being a frustrated baker. Well this frustrated baker was busy again last week “baking” up goodies for our daughter’s baby shower. As well as actually concocting a few edible goodies as well.

My basic philosophy on doing special parties is, if you’re going to do it, make it special, and make it memorable. Pinterest is certainly one of my favorite inspirations, and I scoured through many, many different ideas before deciding on what to finally do…..

Since our Saturday blogs are usually about food, I’m not going to dwell on the decorating aspects. But I do have to say this “frustrated baker” had a great time creating edible as well as non-edible culinary delights! With a little help from a few friends with the actual REAL cakes!

In planning the shower, one of the first things I needed to decide on was how to make the food fit with the theme. And since the mom-to-be’s theme was “beach princess” it gave me a bit of a challenge to come up with the right names for the food. After all, you can’t just call them sandwiches and chips!

So the chicken salad croissants became “crabby croissants” with the addition of some handmade crab eyes. Gummy worms, one of the mom’s cravings, became gummy eels. Dipped pretzel sticks became pretzel fishing rods. Colored chocolate drops became sea pearls. And chips and dip…well, “take a dip” signs were very appropriate! Along with a bowl of goldfish crackers. The steamed shrimp, well that didn’t need a label! Homemade sand dollar cookies were also one of the desserts.

 

We were also blessed with two very special and delicious cakes! The beach princess cupcake dress was complete with a beachy mermaid crown, starfish tiara, and burlap shell and pearl sash, all of which will be utilized in Baby Rachel’s first photo shoot. The two-tiered beach cake made by one of the mom-to-be’s friends featured real painted shells, and a very special beachy hair bow, all of which we were careful to tell her NOT to eat!

 

But the two main non dessert items that this frustrated baker contributed were a fabulous (if I do say so myself!) four-tier diaper cake, as well as an array of diaper and onesie cupcakes.

I will share the “recipe” for my diaper cake below, but please, if you’re going to attempt one, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time. It took me a few attempts to master the art. Feel free to email me if you have questions.

Recipe for Ashley’s Diaper Cake

90-100 newborn diapers
Paper towel roll (empty)
Curling ribbon
Decorative hat pins with colored heads
Decorative 1-1 ½” wide grosgrain ribbon
1 cake-shaped bank (from Target)
6-8 pacifiers in colors to match shower theme
Decorative baby socks, floral headbands, assorted ribbon flowers or silk flowers
String of decorative pearls (from craft store – I got mine from Hobby Lobby)
Paper crinkles
Clear plastic plate to “serve” cake on

I arranged the diapers in the bottom three tiers of a set of four tiered cake pans. Place ov2012-04-17_23-19-09_206erlapping diapers, 40 in bottom pan, 30 in next, and 20 in the next one. If you think you need a few more, add those as well. Tie tightly together with the curling ribbon so that when you “dump” them out, they won’t fall apart. As you take them out, place them on the cake plate with the paper towel roll in the middle to hold them together. You should easily stack three layers around one roll. For this particular cake I added a second roll, cut it the proper height, and stuck it in the other one. Be sure to use double sided tape on the bottom of the cake plate to attach the layers or it’ll slide off!

The floral bank was the top layer on this one, and I was able to stick it on the paper towel roll because of the hole in the bottom for the money. For the bank topper I’d found a princess tiara crown on a headband, and stuck the band part through the money slot on top. But you can be creative and find something equally as great.

Now that it’s assembled, decorate as desired. Use the grosgrain ribbon to wrap around the layers to hide the curling ribbon. Pin it together in the back of the cake with the colored pins.

Decorate with the pacifiers, socks, headbands, silk flowers, etc. Place the paper crinkles as “icing” between layers and around the base of the cake. Drape the decorative pearls in each layer, stuffing a bit of them between the layers to hold them in place.

Be creative! It’s fun! And if you need more help, there are lots of videos on line to assist you. And if you do make one, please let us see it!

Here are just a few more decorations! (Sorry, couldn’t resist! Remember, it’s our first grandchild!)

Homemade Hot Cross Buns

There are a number of special food delights associated with Easter. Certainly chocolate bunnies, Cadbury crème eggs (be still my heart!), those sugary marshmallow peeps, jelly beans, and the chocolate covered Easter eggs we discussed last week are some of the first to come to mind.

You can also find a lot of cute Easter treats to make for kids on Pinterest*, one of my addictions, such as rice krispie “nests” filled with jelly beans or peeps, creatively decorated coconut cakes made in the shape of bunnies or even decorated with more peeps….you get the idea!

But one particular item I’ve always enjoyed at Easter is the Hot Cross Buns. My mother would buy them every year, as soon as they were in the grocery store, which was usually about a month before Easter Sunday. And as soon as Easter was over, once the stock was sold out, you couldn’t find them again until next year.

5ecf625ec1bf91acb4247c48f2cfb15fIt’s funny how my mother, who was a wonderful cook, never tried to make them herself. Most likely it would’ve been fairly easy, especially using her special cinnamon bun recipe.

Next year I’m most likely going to be trying all kinds of those creative treats I mentioned before, because we’ll have our granddaughter next Easter, since that’s what grandmothers are supposed to do. But for right now, I’m going to try this recipe that I found years ago and just filed away in my “things to make sometime when I have the desire” recipe box. It sounds good, and it also sounds fairly easy. And I like both! And don’t be put off by how long the directions seem to be. They are very similar to how we make my mother’s cinnamon buns, and those are easy!

Homemade Hot Cross Buns

1 pkg active dry yeast
3/4 c warm milk, divided
3 1/4 – 3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/4 c butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 c dried fruit (combination of currants, and chopped candied citrus peel – and yes, I’d add a bit extra!)
2 tsp grated orange zest

In bowl, mix together 1/4 c of warmed milk and 1 tsp of sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the milk and let set 5-10 minutes, til foamy.

In large bowl vigorously whisk together 3 c flour, salt, spices, and 1/4 c sugar.

Make a well in the flour mixture and add yeast mixture, softened butter, eggs, and remainder of milk. Mix ingredients until well blended (will be “shaggy” and sticky). Add fruit and orange zest.

Slowly sprinkle in remaining flour, 1 tbl at a time, kneading after each addition, until mixture is no longer completely sticking to your hands. Form dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap for 2 hours, or until doubled in size. (Be sure to put in a warm spot in your kitchen)

When ready, take dough, and roll into a log shape and cut into two halves, leaving one half in bowl until ready to use. Cut dough you are using into 8 pieces. Take dough and form into mounds, placing them 1 1/2” apart on baking sheet. Cover mounds again with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

orange-hot-cross-buns-su-xPreheat oven to 400. Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tbl milk. Score tops of buns in cross pattern with a knife (deeply cut so that the cuts will stay visible after baking). Brush egg mixture on top of dough. Bake on middle rack in over 10-12 minutes til lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool in pan for a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

When buns are totally cooled whisk together 1 tsp milk and 3-4 tbl powdered sugar, adding sugar until you get a thick consistency. Place in plastic bag and snip off corner to make pastry bag. Pipe lines across the top of each bun to make a cross.

*If you want to visit my personal Pinterest board to see the Easter goodies I’m talking about, here’s the link: https://www.pinterest.com/bdnewell/easter-ideas

Chocolate Easter Eggs

I admit I absolutely love those chocolate covered eggs sold this time of year. When I was little I couldn’t wait to get in my Easter basket, grab the big chocolate coconut egg, and take a huge bite out of it! And were they ever delicious!

They still are. And I still have to have one every year!

However, it’s become quite popular now for people (not me yet) to make their own chocolate covered Easter eggs. A lot of organizations sell them as fundraisers. The hair salon where my mother used to go sold them every year, and I’m sure they still do.

One thing I’ve never tried to do, though, is make my own. But I thought just for the fun of it, I’d try to see how complicated they are to make. So I paged through all of my mom’s old church cookbooks as well as recipes she’d cut out of the local newspapers, and came up with a couple of recipes!

easter egg2I doubt I’ll have time to try them this year, but next year, since we’ll have an almost year old granddaughter at Easter, well, I’m sure there will be lots of new things made that I’ve never tried before!

I’ve not made candy before. And I confess I haven’t tried this recipe, but it sure sounds easy enough. Maybe next year I’ll attempt it. But if you try it, or have other similar recipes you’ve tried, let me know. I’m always interested in new ideas!

Chocolate Easter Eggs

½ c butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla or 1 tsp almond extract (I’d probably try coconut extract as well)
2 ¼ lb fine confectioner’s sugar
1 ½ lb semisweet baking chocolate, melted

Decorative icing, sprinkles, or cake decorator candy flowers

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Gradually beat in milk and extract. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar until well blended. (Note: I’d probably try to add some finely shredded coconut in this mixture, because my favorites are the coconut cream eggs.)

Knead with hands until mixture is soft and easy to shape. Form into egg shapes. (This is where I would say a bit of skill and ingenuity comes in. Probably mine wouldn’t look as close to an egg shape as I’d like, but we shall see…)

Place eggs onto tray or cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Cover and chill for 4 hours or until firm.

Place each egg on a fork and dip into melted chocolate, letting excess drip off. Place back on tray, cover, and let stand until firm. Refrigerate for best results.

easter eggsWhile still most, you can decorate with colored sprinkles, or add the candy flowers. I would wait an hour or so to add the decorative icing, but remember, I haven’t tried these yet, so it’s a matter of trying it out to see which works the best.

I would probably display or serve these in decorative cupcake cups, especially the ones that are shaped as flowers. You might even want to put them in an Easter basket if they turn our really nice!

Happy candy making!

Homemade salt water taffy

I love salt water taffy! Especially when I can go to Ocean City and get it at Dolle’s! Best ever! I’d love to try making it sometime, but for now, I’ll just look at the pictures, read the directions, and be glad that someone else can do it! And if someone wants to make it for me, I’ll be happy to accept it!

Little House Bliss

Homemade Salt Water TaffyThere are a couple of foods that I always associate with trips to New England and the beach.  The first is Campbell’s classic chicken noodle soup (not sure why?), and the other is salt water taffy.  I love the big boxes of mixed flavor salt water taffy, but it never seems to last long enough ( really, is there such a thing as lasting long enough when it comes to salt water taffy?)  Turns out, it’s not that hard to make, and now I can have salt water taffy any time I want, not just every few years on vacation.  And I know that I could probably buy it at Walmart, but it’s just not the same.  Somehow making it at home doesn’t wreck the nostalgia factor like I know buying taffy from a big-box store would.

This is a great recipe to make if you have a husband or other…

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Back in Grandmom’s Kitchen

Grandmom’s kitchen was always a special place to be. I can still remember what it looked like, although I doubt it was really as big as it is in my mind. After all, the last time I was in it I was only eleven years old. There were actually had two separate “rooms” to her kitchen; one where she actually did most of her work, and the other being a huge pantry, complete with sink, electric stove, and numerous cabinets full of all kinds of cookware as well as the typical baking and similar goodies. Canned goods and vegetables were stored in her “root cellar” which you could only access from outside the house (and as a kid, I didn’t venture down there; it was dark and musty-smelling, and just looked scary!). That pantry was also where my mom and my aunts would help out with the family meals while Grandmom worked in the main kitchen.

But what I remember most about Grandmom’s kitchen is the big old woodstove she had against the middle of her back wall in the main kitchen area. The pantry room had been added on many years after the original house was built, but Grandmom’s original kitchen was the heart of her home. And that old woodstove was the heart of her kitchen. I cannot even imagine how many meals she cooked on that stove.

And the stories that old stove could’ve told…..

wood stoveWhen my mom and her four brothers and sisters were growing up my grandfather was working his farm every day, and had several hired hands helping him. In those days, the farmer’s wife cooked and served lunch for everyone. My grandmother was no exception, and although I don’t really know how many men Granddaddy had working for him, I’m sure that on most days there were at least four or five extra mouths at that lunch table, so that woodstove got a workout!

I can’t even begin to imagine how many huge kettles of jams and jellies were made on top of that stove. How many “messes” of turnip greens were cooked up. Plus I’m sure there were lots of cast iron skillets full of cornbread baked in that oven. And, since they were a farming family who raised hogs and chickens along with corn, potatoes, and soy beans, this memory wouldn’t be complete without mentioning how my grandmother used to fry up the pigs’ ears and pigs’ tails for my youngest aunt when she was a little girl. To me it sounds awful, but my aunt said they were delicious! I’ll just take her word for it.

woodstoveI cannot imagine the skill it took to prepare a meal on a woodstove. There was virtually no way to control the amount of heat, either on the top burners or in the oven. How in the world my grandmother managed to bake pies, cakes, and cookies without burning them up or ending up with a glop of under-baked dough, I have no idea. But I’m sure that’s why a lot of her handwritten recipes that I still have don’t have an oven temperature on them, or a cooking time! She just knew what to do. How she was able to fry chicken and pork chops and have them turn out juicy and golden brown, I cannot say. (I can’t get them to turn out well on a modern gas stove!) Roasting a turkey or a chicken in an oven where you can’t control the heat? I have no idea how she did it, but she did!

And this made me start thinking even further. How in the world do you actually manage to cook a meal on a wood stove? You can’t just turn on a burner and cook some vegetables or scramble some eggs. The fire has to be started, stoked, and established. Depending on what you wish to cook, you have to somehow adjust the heat accordingly. Not an easy thing to do, since it’s very difficult to control a constant temperature. Wood needs to be added continually or the fire will go out. It’s a matter of trial and error guesswork, in all honesty.

Grandmom didn’t use that stove very much by the time my cousins and I were growing up, since she had her other one, and the woodstove was quite a bit of work to keep operating. But we always begged her to make us toast in it when we came to visit. That stove made the very best toast I’ve ever had! There was just something so special about the flavor of sliced bread toasted in that oven and then slathered with real butter; I can’t describe it. I’ve tried to duplicate it many times, but you just can’t re-create the flavor that came from that wood fire.

Unfortunately Grandmom’s woodstove was sold along with the house and farm after my grandfather died and my grandmother came to live with my mother and me. I hadn’t thought about this in years, but now I’d really like to know where it went. Not that any of us in the family would have used it as a stove, but wouldn’t it have made a wonderful conversation piece in someone’s family room?

Oh, the memories…..

Learning to Cook

Since many of my friends have teased me about the Saturday recipe blogs, although many of you seem to enjoy them quite a bit, I thought I’d take the time to explain some of the history behind this. (Plus, I couldn’t decide what recipe to post today, so it’s a perfect time for this story!)

Back when I was growing up as a teenager in the 60’s, we had a class called Home Economics. We started taking it in seventh grade, and believe it or not, since I have a reputation among my friends for trying NOT to cook more than trying TO cook, I was actually one of the student assistants for the seventh and eighth graders during both my junior and senior years.

A good reason for that is probably because I used to sew quite well (probably still can if I really tried, but I gave it up years ago), having been taught by my mother who had won a few local awards for her abilities as a seamstress.

cookie makingBut part of Home Ec, as we all called it, involved cooking, which I’d never really had a lot of interest in. I remember my mother introducing me to rolling out biscuit and cookie dough when I was really small. I actually remember being in our pantry and standing on a stool my father had made so I would be tall enough to reach the counter and help cut out the pieces of dough with cookie cutters my mother let me use. I think there’s a picture somewhere, but I haven’t been able to find it.

And yes, I did eat some of the raw dough, just like I’ve always told my own daughter not to do when she helps me. The difference is, I learned early on that not listening to my mother wasn’t the smartest thing I could ever do!

I don’t remember what those first cookies I made looked like, or even tasted like, but I can assume that my mother told me they were the prettiest ones she’d ever seen…the best she’d ever had. After all, that’s what most mothers do! I’m also fairly certain they were NOT the best she’d ever had! And probably not very pretty, either.

Several years later I got some kind of baking set for either Christmas or my birthday. It came complete with little mixing bowls and individual cake mix and icing mixes. This was before those Easy-Bake ovens, because I remember my mom helping put the little bowls in her oven and waiting expectantly for my cakes to cook. I also remember how delicious that chocolate cake mix was after all the ingredients were added, and how sick I got after eating almost a whole package of it.

hot chocolateThat was basically my cooking experience until I found myself in my first Home Ec class. I thought I would do great until I discovered the first unit was cooking…good grief, no! I had no idea what to do! We had to make hot chocolate. From scratch. Using a recipe. No instant packages! Fortunately we were in teams. Unfortunately my teammates knew about as much of what to do as I did. We put the ingredients together, cooked it, and somehow managed to burn the milk, and it tasted awful. In fact, I think most of us in that class had the same “success”.

There were two other dishes we had to prepare. One being corn chowder. How many of you have ever had corn chowder? I hadn’t. But I have to say it was actually fairly decent after we made it. These days I’d add some potatoes and a bunch of clams and some macaroni and tomato, and turn it into clam chowder. Now THAT would be good! The other dish? Good old fashioned green bean casserole…who doesn’t know how to make that? Well, I didn’t at the time, but I excelled in that one! And I actually still make it quite a bit.

And how funny is it that I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker Award when I was a senior! I don’t remember what I had to do, but I can guarantee it was probably from taking a written test, and possibly submitting some of the clothes I’d made. Not for my cooking abilities! And yes, my husband still shakes his head over that one.

2016-02-18 20.34.39Now for the truth….while I like to tell people I don’t cook unless I’m forced to, I actually do cook. Not every night, and nothing near as elaborate as I used to “back in the day” when I had more time. I do fix huge holiday dinners, and love to make cookies and key lime pie! I also have a rather extensive recipe collection, and sometimes even use some of them.

And yes, most of the recipes I’m using on the blog are from our family cookbooks! I have to put them to use for something!

Dreaming of Chocolate

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Yes, I know I already wrote some thoughts on the day, but still, Valentine’s Day traditionally means, among other things, CHOCOLATE!

Flowers are beautiful and smell wonderful. Diamonds are always the right color and sparkle. And wine and champagne, well, they’re celebratory as well.

But chocolate. Chocolate talks to you. It loves you. It really, really loves you. And let’s face it, there are really very, very few of you who don’t like chocolate. I’m sure there are a few scattered here and there, but basically, chocolate cures just about anything. Or so it seems.

You say you had a bad day? Eat some chocolate. You’re feeling a bit down? Eat a piece of chocolate. A bad hair day? Chocolate helps. Chocolate understands.

You get the picture, right?

And I’m not talking white chocolate. That’s good, in its place. But for now, I’m talking the true milk chocolate, or my personal favorite, dark chocolate.

So for chocolate lovers everywhere, for Valentine’s Day, or for National Chocolate Day, whenever that may be, here are two of my family’s special chocolate recipes to try.

Mom’s Chocolate Fudge Deluxe

3 c sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 c milk
1/2 c light karo syrup
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 c butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 c walnuts (optional, especially for me!)

Mix first 6 ingredients. Cook until it reaches a soft ball stage. Remove from heat and pour into large mixing bowl. Stir in vanilla. Cool for 25 minutes. Beat until thickened; stir in nuts, if desired. Spread in 8×8’ buttered pan; cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!
chocolate fudge
Aunt Mary’s Hot Fudge Sauce (just right for a special hot fudge sundae)

1 large can evaporated milk
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Mix ingredients and cook in double boiler until thickened, stirring constantly. Cool somewhat and pour over ice cream. Serve immediately!ice+cream+sundae

Remember, there’s always room for chocolate. And on holidays or other special occasions, there’s no calories in it!

Super Wings…Eastern Shore Style

Growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, no one really bought chicken wings to fix for anything special. They were sold in packages in the local grocery store, but the only people who bought them, bought them to make chicken soup or chicken stew. Or, like we did, to use for crab bait.

Back when I was growing up, chicken wings, and chicken backs and necks, were mainly used for crabbing. We’d buy them on sale and keep them frozen until we needed them. Then we’d thaw them out, safety-pin them on a weighted string line, and toss them off the pier into the Bay. We’d end the day with three or four dozen crabs, and have a great dinner! If there were any leftover wings, we’d re-freeze them, and use them the next time. After all, the crabs didn’t care whether the wings had been re-frozen several times or not. They didn’t have to worry about getting a stomach ache, because they were going to end up in someone else’s stomach!

But more on the joys of crabbing another time. This post is about making chicken wings for your Super Bowl party. Eastern Shore style wings. Made with what else, that extremely popular favorite seasoning for Maryland steamed crabs, Old Bay®! (Which our son-in-law puts on almost everything, but that’s another post for another Saturday!)

Chicken wings have become extremely popular for casual dinners and parties, since my younger days of using them as crab bait (and we still do when we have the opportunity to go crabbing). There are tons of variations. The traditional Buffalo (spicy) style, honey glazed, barbecue, teriyaki…you name it, there’s a recipe for it.
grilled wings
So in honor of Super Bowl 50, why not try one of these two Old Bay® chicken wing recipes? I can’t promise they’ll be the hit of our own Super Bowl party, but I guess it depends on which team our guests are cheering for! Of course, there’s no Maryland team in the big game this year…but I’ve already picked my winner!

Grilled Chicken Wings with Old Bay®

3 lb chicken wings (separate drumettes and wing tips)
3/4 c flour
2 tbl Old Bay® seasoning
1/4 c butter, melted
1/4 c hot sauce

Mix flour and Old Bay® in large re-sealable freezer bag. Wash chicken wings and pat dry; add wings, several at a time. Shake to coat well. Remove to platter. Repeat until all pieces are well coated.

Grill over medium high heat 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked through and skin is crisp, turning often. (If you’re like us, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bit chilly outside. The grill is always ready!)

To serve, mix butter and hot sauce in large bowl. Add cooked wings; toss to coat. And enjoy with your favorite libation!

Beer Baked Chicken Wings with Old Bay®

2 lb chicken wings (separate drumettes and wing tips)
3/4 c Old Bay®
1/2 c vinegar
1/2 c beer (brand of your choice)
1/2 c vegetable oil
Non-stick coating spray

Wash chicken wings and pat dry; place in re-sealable freezer bag. Stir together vinegar, beer, vegetable oil, and Old Bay®; pour into freezer bag over wings, shaking well so wings are covered. Put the bag on a big dish and refrigerate at least two hours; preferably overnight, turning a few times to coat well.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray two aluminum foil lined cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray. Remove wings from bag and spread on cookie sheets in single layer.

Bake 40 minutes or until crisp and browned.

Serve with ranch dressing, bleu cheese dressing, or other dressing of your choice.

And may your team WIN!

Chicken and Dumplings Time

Last Friday night we were sitting around the table as the freezing rain (not snow, thank goodness!) pounded on the skylights and the wind howled an ugly melody none of us wanted to hear. We had guests coming for dinner the next evening, and I had no idea what to fix. All of a sudden, it hit me. What more appropriate warm comfort meal than good ol’ Eastern Shore chicken and dumplings! Definitely one of Ben’s favorites, and something neither of our friends had enjoyed before.

So chicken and dumplings it was! Except I had no chicken. No problem, just go buy one the next morning, right? That got a bit tricky, however, because when Ben went to the store for me, the first three grocery stores he went to were totally out of chicken. Seems the upcoming predicted snow storm produced a run on chicken. Who knew? Fortunately the butcher at the last store he visited said they didn’t have any whole chickens left in the meat department, but the deli department did. I guess the butcher felt bad for him when she saw the look of disappointment on his face as he explained how his wife had offered to fix chicken and dumplings for him, and he HAD to find a chicken! Of course, the deli department manager said they couldn’t sell the uncooked chickens because they weren’t cooked! Yes, that’s what he wanted them for…to cook! After some convincing by the butcher, the deli manager packed up two uncooked chickens for Ben, and he happily brought home his two prized birds!
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Ben grew up in the Midwest where they had chicken and dumplings as well, but the ones he’d always had were biscuits cooked on top of a pot of chicken. Not at all what we make on the Eastern Shore. When he first looked at my mother’s chicken and dumplings and saw this concoction of flat white squares of shiny dough, he wasn’t quite sure what he was supposed to do with them. He didn’t want to insult my mother, but, well he’d made up his mind that he probably wouldn’t like them.

Surprise! They instantly became his favorite meal!

There were many Sunday afternoon family dinners when I was growing up that featured chicken and dumplings. LOTS of dumplings. My uncles would always argue good naturedly over who got the last bit of them, and there were never any left. And even better, when my grandmother would bake one of the chickens from her henhouse, sometime eggs would be inside; just the yolk, no shell. Now THAT was some good eating! And reserved for us kids only!

I’ve fixed this for years, and introduced lots of friends to the joy of chicken and dumplings. Our daughter loves them, too, and they’re actually one of the first things I taught her how to fix. As a kid she liked rolling out the dough and cutting it into squares to drop in the chicken stock.

If you’re counting calories, or carbs, this dish isn’t one you can eat too often. If you need gluten free, well, I don’t know which gluten free flour to recommend, or even if it would work with gluten free flour. That’s up to you to try, but be sure to let me know if you’re successful.
dumplings
Chicken and Dumplings – Eastern Shore style

1 oven roaster or whole frying chicken (if the chickens are small, depending on number of guests, you may need two)

Bake chicken in covered roasting pan with a little water at 325 degrees until done, usually 30 minutes per pound. You can season it with salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, whatever you want. When chicken is done, remove to serving plate, cover to keep warm. Do NOT drain the juices from the pan, because that’s what you will cook the dumplings in, on top of the stove. I put the pan on the stove, lengthwise, over two burners, and bring the juice to a slow boil. You’ll probably need to add extra water to it so you’ll have enough for the dumplings.

About 20 minutes before the chicken is done, start preparing the dumplings. How many you make depends on how many people you are serving. My rule is normally 1 cup of flour mixture per person.
1 c. all purpose flour
1 tbl shortening (I use Crisco)
1 tsp flour
Water to make the dough

That’s it. Combine the ingredients, using a pastry cutter for the shortening. Add water slowly and mix enough in until the dough is a consistency to roll out. Roll out on a floured surface until it’s about ¼” thick (if you’re like me and using several cups of flour, you’ll do this several times, rather than using one big hunk of dough; trust me, it’s easier).

Cut into 2”-3“ squares and drop the dumplings into the chicken juices. Since you’re making them in advance before the pan is ready, just stack them on a plate and cover until you’re ready to cook them. Cook 20 minutes. Scoop up into a bowl and serve immediately. With the chicken, of course!

And don’t fight over who gets the last helping!

Snow Cream…A Special Treat

When I was a child/teenager growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, snow happened a bit more frequently than it usually does now (except for the past couple of years when they’ve gotten slammed!). Schools would be closed for up to a week because we got so much, the road crews couldn’t keep up with it all, especially on all the back roads in the area.

One year it snowed so much, my mother’s white car was literally impossible to see. She had parked it at the end of our long driveway, thinking she wouldn’t be able to get it out if we had a lot of snow. We did. And one of our neighbors had to dig the car out for her, but only after a couple of days when the roads were clear enough to drive on.

My friends who still live there still talk about how one of our friend’s fathers hooked all of our sleds up to his tractor one evening and pulled us around the field for at least an hour, had us warm up by a roaring bonfire (complete with roasting marshmallows on wire coat hangers!), and then his wife had us all inside for hot chocolate. I think most of us were sophomores in high school then, and of course, we were all invincible! I can’t remember how many of us there were, but it was a blast! Now…he’d probably be arrested for child endangerment…if our parents even let us go!

Yes, those were the days….we all had sleds, and would go to a hill in town and sled down for hours. We got chilled to the bone, our clothes got soaked…but who cared! We threw snowballs at each other, and at some of the adults unlucky enough to be in our way. And no one got mad at us. We were young and having fun.

So in honor of the snowstorm, it’s only fair that this weekend’s recipe is snow cream. Which of course, you can only make when you have clean fresh snow. So those of you in Florida or California, you’re probably out of luck on this one! I haven’t been able to find any substitutions for snow!

Basic Snow Creamsnow cream sprinkles
1 c milk
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Whisk ingredients together and add 8 cups of CLEAN snow. (Note: Be sure to pour the SNOW into the mixture; not the other way around!) Mix together; re-freeze, covered, if necessary, and serve. (You might also add colored sprinkles or colored sugar on top, or even mini chocolate chips)

NOW…that’s not all. While I was researching, I came across several variations of this basic recipe that sound extra yummy. So….how about these:

 

Chocolate Peppermint Snow Creamchocolate snow cream
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
¼ c unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp peppermint extract

Mix together and add 8 cups of CLEAN snow. Cover, and re-freeze an hour or so til it’s the right consistency.

 
Amaretto Caramel Snow Cream
snow cream1 c white chocolate chips
½ c thick caramel sauce
1/3 c milk
½ tsp salt

Mix together in microwave for 30 seconds; stir and repeat until smooth. LET COOL (or you’ll have caramel water!) I’d put it in the freezer and check it often til it’s chilled.

Add 8 cups of CLEAN snow. And the best part, ¼ c amaretto. Resist temptation to try immediately; cover and freeze to desired consistency.
 

Cake Batter Snow Cream
snow-ice-cream-0131/2 c sweetened condensed milk
¼ c yellow cake mix
3 tbsp cake flavored vodka (the recipes just keep getting better…)
2 tbl milk
1 tsp vanilla

Combine above ingredients and add 8 cups of CLEAN snow. Take a taste if you must, then cover and freeze to desired consistency.

Now….after finding all of these goodies, I can only say one thing…

BRING ON THE SNOW AND LET’S MAKE SOME SNOW CREAM!