Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare

pasties_001.jpgBe careful when you do a Google search for pasties. I was searching for the edible kind, the Cornish kind-- pastry stuffed with meat and vegetables. But, ummmm, you know, the other kind came up. Google misunderstood. It did try, though. Google asked: Did you mean to search for: all about pastry?

I had just returned to my office after a visit with Mark and Peggy Schultz, owners of a pasty (PASS-tee) shop in Turtle River, Minnesota, not far from where I live. After spending time in the Turtle River Pasties kitchen, watching Mark create very chubby pasties, all-butter pastry turnovers stuffed with beef and root vegetables, I was anxious to use the tips he shared with me to make my own batch.

I first learned of pasties over 20 years ago when I was in Ely for a state Legion baseball tournament. They were part of the line-up at the concession stand. A pasty is a little bit like a filled dumpling, but it's baked, not boiled. It's a little bit like a pie with a flaky crust, but it's eaten out of hand, not with a fork. It's a little bit like a sandwich filled with meat and vegetables, but there's no bread involved.

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chex-mix-cha-cha.jpgChex Mix. It’s one of the simple things of life.

It seems to me Chex Mix has been around forever. I remember my mom mixing up a batch or two each year at Christmas time, following the directions on the box. I also clearly remember all the Wheat Chex remaining at the bottom of the bowl. No one seemed to care for those dark pieces, yet the Wheat Chex always went into the mix.

About 10 years ago, I got gutsy and broke my mother’s Chex Mix mold. I left out the Wheat Chex. I stirred in some Cheerios instead. I changed the seasoning ingredients. Nothing left in the bottom of the bowl any more. After making it at Christmas time and for Super Bowl games for a few years, I forgot all about that mix my family gobbled up each time I made it.

A couple of weeks before Christmas I was staying with my son and daughter-in-law in Fargo for a weekend. I noticed my daughter-in-law had a recipe on the counter for Chex Mix Cha Cha. She had gotten the recipe from me. I’m not sure how I could have totally forgotten about it. I copied it, feeling very uncertain about where I would look for it in my own recipe collection.

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tomsoupIt's easy to get so caught up in the idea of eating seasonally that we forget that there are certain things that aren't necessarily seasonal, for example vegetables grown in hothouses or greenhouses like Belgian endive, cucumbers and mushrooms, also preserved produce--jams, pickles, chutney, frozen and canned foods. Which brings me to canned tomatoes, which are a great choice for recipes since fresh tomatoes are in season for a fairly short period of time.

While I wouldn't use a canned tomato on a sandwich, they are a must for most tomato based sauces. Lately I've come to appreciate canned fire roasted tomatoes for their lovely smoky flavor. They are great in stew or chili and a sneaky shortcut when making this zippy soup. A nice option in this shoulder season when somedays still feel like Winter, it's something you can make from pantry staples--a few aromatics, cans of tomatoes and broth. Having tried many brands of fire roasted tomatoes, I like Hunt's best and while I prefer homemade, Swanson's is the only canned chicken broth I use.

Another little trick in this soup is the addition of cream cheese. I don't typically keep heavy cream on hand so I am always looking for other ingredients to add creaminess to recipes. In this case a tiny bit of cream cheese adds a lot of richness. But in all honesty this soup is really wonderful even without it.

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WilsonCharlotteIn 1919, after the end of World War I, Woodrow Wilson declared the first Armistice Day.

His mother, Jesse Woodrow Wilson, 1826-1888, wrote a handwritten recipe book. Among the recipes was one labeled - "Woodrow's favorite - Charlotte Russe" see below...

"Put in a kettle one ounce of gelatin, one quart of water, one-half pint of milk, one pound of sugar, yolks of four eggs and four spoons of sugar. When these ingredients are well mixed pour them upon yolks, and scald them -- stirring all the while; then strain it through a sieve ane pour it while hot on the four whites which must be beaten to a froth. Stir it constantly -- when it is cold, add a syllabub prepared as follows: One-half pint of cream, the remainder of the sugar, churn it, then lay it upon a sieve so that all the milk may drain out. Stir constantly until cold."

fetadipWow, I was exhausted yesterday.  Somehow the kid's first day at school wore me out.  I'm not sure how that happened since all I did was sit around and wait for them to come home while I talked a bunch of jibber-jabber on Facebook

By mid-afternoon I was tired.  Doing nothing can suck the life out of you.  I decided I only had enough energy to make dip for dinner.  So I whipped up this Feta Pepper Dip.

However, as the dinner hour quickly approached, the responsibility of being a mother and a wife extinguished my extreme lack of motivation.  I am happy to report chicken and salad made it to the table along with this awesome dip.

Here's whatI love about it...the salty feta, with the slight heat of the pepperoncini and the tang of the lemon zest make a tasty little treat. The end all is to it up with barbecue chips.  The barbecue chips are really a must here, the sweetness of them adding another layer of flavor.

But I'm also thinking this would be some kind of heaven slathered on a grilled lamb burger.  That just might be lunch for us today.

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