My Cookbook Addiction

I confess! I’m addicted to books! But I have read all the books I own and continue to use them all as reference and/or for teaching.

My addiction carries over into cookbooks, and I doubt if there is even one of these books that hasn’t been used for at least one recipe. Like many cooks, I use recipes mostly for guidance to come up with my own variation. My cooking has never been an exact science.

The shelves of cookbooks shown above were in my kitchen/dining area when I lived in Ocean View, and I had another shelf of cookbooks in another bookcase, because there wasn’t room for them all here. I’ve even been known to borrow cookbooks from the library to read!

When I moved onto my boat from a large house in the late 70s, I gave a book box of cookbooks to each of my four children. This is what I have left!

I know I could probably find the same recipes online, but there is something deeply soul-satisfying about sitting down and reading through an old book of recipes that my mother, or grandmother used. Tucked into each book are other recipes given to me by friends, or that I have cut out of a magazine.

Yes, I think you can say I’m addicted!

Now, you may think that with all these recipes at my disposal, I’d be cooking delicious dishes every day. The fact is, I usually have only myself to cook for and if I ate the way I’d like to cook, I’d be as wide as the channel between here and Maui!

So this week, instead of sharing a recipe with you, I thought I’d tell you about my favorite books on these shelves, and even tell you about some of the recipes in them that I love.

Probably the oldest book I have is a little booklet from the Metropolitan Insurance Company; I think I inherited it from my great-grandmother. Several of my books date back to the 30s, and many of what I have date to the 50s, when I was a young woman. My first Christmas as a married woman in 1955, I received the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, a three-ring binder that is barely holding together.

I also love my specialty books, like Mme. Bégué’s Recipes of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery, from 1953. You wouldn’t believe how many pages are spattered with oil and tomato paste! One recipe from that book is “Shrimp Creole” and someday I’ll post that because I make it often.

I have quite a few Mexican cookbooks, but my favorite is Elena’s Secrets of Mexican Cooking by Elena Zelayeta, blind, but she kept on cooking. Her “Caserola De Pollo Y Elote” (Chicken and Corn Casserole) is full of green chiles and wonderful!

Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook is another tattered book on my shelves, also full of messy pages! And Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook probably has most of the comfort foods I make.

The Rodale Cookbook published by the Rodale Press is where I go for breads and other wholesome foods. I have several other of the Rodale books and they are all great.

As I peruse the books, it’s fun to see how many phases and stages of eating I’ve gone through. You will find vegetarian/vegan books, low-fat books, low-carb books, and all sorts of specialized diet books, all of which I still read and sometimes use. Then there are the regional books that show where I’ve lived – Guam, Alaska, Arizona, California, Down East, Deep South, the Orient.

Even though I still buy new cookbooks, I still go back to my old “tried-and-true” standards when I want to make something special for friends. Maybe someday I’ll stop reading my cookbooks like novels (which is what I do!) and actually use them for more cooking.

Now I’m anxious to go find a new recipe to try for you!

A hui hou!

Lilikoi Butter

 

First, you need to know that “lilikoi” is our Hawai`ian word for passionfruit, the fruit of the Passion Flower vine. Read the Wikipedia religious explanation of the word “passion.” But I’m passionate about the passionfruit (groan), which I know mostly as lilikoi.

In January, I wrote about trying to grown my own, but I haven’t had much luck so far. In that post, I also included a recipe for lilikoi butter, but I’ve refined it a bit. Also, this is for the benefit of those readers who are new to “Lava to Lilikoi.”

A friend in Na`alehu gave me a huge box of lilikoi fresh from the vine. I love to simply scoop out the insides with a spoon and eat, seeds and all. But this time, there were way too many to simply sit and eat myself sick. So I asked around for some recipes. My masseuse (Velvet) gave me this recipe.

The process I use for juicing is to cut them in half, scoop out the insides, and let that drain in a colander for about 24 hours to get rid of the seeds. My house smelled like lilikoi for days after I finished juicing them.

Lilikoi Butter

4 eggs
4 cups sugar (I used a little less and mixed it with Splenda)
1 pound unsalted butter
1 ¾ cup lilikoi juice

Mix juice, sugar, butter in a large pan. Heat until butter is melted. Beat the eggs together in a separate bowl and temper by drizzling a little of the hot liquid into the beaten eggs so they don’t scramble on you. Keep stirring and when the egg mixture is about the same temperature as the hot liquid, pour it into the pan with the juice, butter and sugar.

Bring to a rolling boil, then down to a slow rolling simmer for about half an hour. This will thicken as it cooks.

I don’t know how to improve on this simple recipe other than to use it whenever you can, over whatever you can find. I like it over ice cream, on toasted English muffins or scones, over plain cheesecake, or just right out of the jar with a spoon!

I made a double batch with all the lilikoi I had, and ended up with twelve jars. They look like jewels on my shelf!

I first published this in September 2009 and have had many requests for it since. If you are interested in seeing later posts I did on Lilikoi Butter, look for them under “Categories” on the left-hand side of this post.

A hui hou!

Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding

 

When I was pastoring at a church in Arizona, someone always brought several dozen doughnuts from the local bakery to serve with coffee during a fellowship hour. If some were left over, I took them home and let them get stale for a couple days.

Then I would break them up into bits of about an inch to make this bread pudding – regular doughnuts, cake doughnuts, jelly-filled doughnuts, cinnamon twists, and the like. What a delicious and unusual bread pudding!

So I recently got hungry for some old-fashioned bread pudding and dug out my old recipe. This time I used whole wheat bread and dark raisins. The photo above is fresh out of the oven. In the next photo, it is topped with vanilla bean ice cream and dribbled with caramel syrup. Too delicious for words!

 


Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding
1 heaping quart of dry bread – use any kind of bread or leftover pastries [see comments above]
½ cup seedless raisins – or maybe even some dried cranberries or dried blueberries
2 cups milk (I use non-fat, but you don’t have to. Some even add coconut milk.)
2 beaten eggs
½ cup brown sugar (or less if you use sugary pastries)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine bread and raisins (or other dried fruit) in a buttered 1 ½ quart casserole. Add milk to eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Beat with a whisk until well mixed. Pour over bread and dried fruit. Bake at 350 F for about an hour.

You can add almost anything fruity or nutty to this, like flaked coconut or chopped macadamia nuts. I like it warm with ice cream or cold applesauce. Bread pudding is a popular dish here in Hawaii. I guess it’s a comfort food for a lot of people!

A hui hou!

Irish Soda Bread from an Irish Grandmother

 

I have been using various recipes for Irish Soda Bread for many years. Over a decade ago, my daughter in Idaho sent me a recipe that came from the Irish grandmother of one of her former co-workers. It surpasses anything that I’d ever made before and I pass it along to you in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day next week.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups unbleached flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup cold butter
½ cup raisins (she adds a bit more)
¼ cup caraway and fennel seeds mixed (she adds a bit more of this, too)
1 ½ cups buttermilk

Measure and combine dry ingredients.

Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or in a food processor).

Stir in desired amount of raisins and caraway/fennel. Stir in buttermilk.

Turn dough onto floured board and knead a few minutes, adding flour until dough is not too sticky.

Form into a ball and place in greased and floured round baking pan. Cut a deep cross on top.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, brush top with simple syrup made of sugar, water, nutmeg and continue baking a few more minutes.

Let cool 15-20 minutes before removing from pan.

Add a big pot of corned beef, cabbage, carrots, onions, and peppercorns so you’ll think you are back in old Ireland.

A hui hou!

Altamont Pudding

 

As a preacher’s kid (we were called PKs), I grew up eating quite a variety of foods made by church members. Several years before my father died, he and my mother decided to put together some of the recipes they’d gathered over the years. He typed them up on an old Underwood typewriter and Mother (Jane) made some rough sketches to go with it. The picture above is the cover of one of their efforts. The cover is spotted with grease and the edges are well worn, as you can see.

Usually there were no names for the dishes people brought to potluck suppers, so our family started calling them by the name of the person who made it, or sometimes for the town where we ate it.

Such is the case for this recipe. I never knew it by any name other than “Altamont Pudding.” When I asked my grandmother where that name originated, she said it was a dish one particular woman always brought to share when my grandfather was a pastor at Altamont, Illinois. It came down through my mother, and on down to me simply as “Altamont Pudding.” I may have even given it to my oldest daughter when she got married.

I’m using my mother’s words with almost no editing. Just before she wrote out the recipe, she had been talking about a meal of clam fritters with a cucumber salad.

Altamont Pudding
 

Makes a gooey good hot dessert with this meal (see note above), or it’s a happy thought to take to a sick neighbor, or to serve at church dinners, made in larger quantities.

Part I. Melt in a big square pan 2 tablespoons butter, 1 c. brown sugar, 3 c. boiling water, 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Part II. Make a batter of ½ c. white sugar, 1 teaspoon allspice, ½ c. milk, 1 c. flour, 3 level teaspoons double acting baking powder and ½ c raisins.

Pour the batter of Part II into the Part I and bake 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes or until done, or until batter rises to top and cooks through.

When served, spoon it upside down into sauce dishes; it has its own “dip” on the bottom. Make a double recipe to keep for in-between meal eating. Jane’s old standby for instant company.

Roasted Pig’s Head

In my freezer, the head of the pig I got from Masazo’s Piggery in Na`alehu remained, mostly because I wasn’t sure how to prepare it. Every recipe I found online talked about half a head of a smallish pig. This was a whole head from a 400 pound pig, probably weighing between 16 and 20 pounds.

The eyeballs, ears and snout were a bit intimidating! Fortunately, I had the help of a physician who (sort of) knew what we were seeing. We didn’t cook up the head as a whole, but cut off jowls, tongue, and ears to roast separately from the rest of the head.

Please understand that neither of us knew what in the world we were doing, so we took bits from various online recipes. We sprayed the head with canola spray, then rubbed in a mixture of 5-spice powder and ground up sea salt. Garlic cloves were tucked into all cavities, and a cut onion stuffed in the mouth.

We started off with 1 ½ hours in a 375 degree F., oven, basting periodically with a honey-water mix. Then we turned the oven down to 325 degrees F. for another 3 ½ hours.

I won’t gross you out with some of the other pictures I took during this process, but the end result wasn’t really too bad. We sliced meat off the cheeks and served with fresh local corn on the cob. The meat was super rich, and I thought it a bit chewy.

I froze some of the other meaty sections to make Pozole later, a Mexican pork and hominy stew that is traditionally made with meat from a pig’s head and served at Christmas time.

The whole ordeal was quite an experience, although I’m glad there was only one head on the pig. I’m not sure I would want to bother with another one!

A hui hou!

Oktoberfest in Hawai`i

When I was in high school, my father was the first English speaking pastor of a church that had once been considered a “German church.” Everyone spoke German, I learned Christmas carols in German, and the food was always German. No wonder I had trouble in gaining weight!

Every Thursday, the women met to quilt and served sauerkraut, spare ribs, and mashed potatoes. They always saved a plateful for me to eat as soon as I got back from school. Then I would sit down and quilt with them, trying to imitate their tiny stitches.

On October 1 of this year, I had the pleasure of attending an Oktoberfest at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church here on the Big Island. Instead of spare ribs, we were served a long Bratwurst; instead of mashed potatoes, we received a big boiled potato, but we did receive a big helping of sauerkraut and a bottle of non-alcoholic beer (St. Pauli N.A.). Apple strudel finished off the meal.

There was a wonderful 7-piece polka band, complete with several accordions, a string bass, trombone, clarinet, piano and drum.

The Fraulein servers were authentic. . . .

. . . and the dancing was exuberant.

You never forget how to dance a polka! But when I asked a friend to dance with me, she said she didn’t know how. I easily taught her, however, and we took off in a whirl.

We were taught several German songs. One was “Hock Soll er Leben,” or “Hail to the Host,” which we sang several times during the evening, each time raising our beer bottles to the host.

This Musik Meister led us in song, and also played one of the accordions.

Another tongue-twister song was “Oh Du Schöne Schnitzelbank,” a song we were told was never sung in Germany, but was local only in America.

I brought home a plate of leftovers from the church kitchen and relished the meal again later.

A hui hou!

Gazpacho with Crumbled Feta Cheese

I learned about Gazpacho when I first moved to California in 1960. It was a huge fad at that time, and I was knocked over by it! It’s been called everything, including “liquid salad,” but whatever you call it, it’s simply delicious!

This may seem like a summer-only dish to many of the mainlanders, but in California, and especially here in Hawai`i, we can eat it year-round.

The beauty of a healthy serving of Gazpacho is that you can put almost any kind of raw veggie into it. Take your pick from:

fresh tomatoes (about 2-3 pounds cut into quarters, skin and all)
cucumber
carrots
onion
bell peppers (I used a combination of orange, red, yellow baby bells)
garlic
hot pepper (maybe a Jalepeño)

Zap it up in a blender or food processor until thick and chunky.

Store it in the fridge until it’s good and cold.

Ladle it into a bowl, top with crumbled feta and sprigs of cilantro.

To go with this, I like to serve a good loaf of crunchy rustic bread fresh from the oven, and maybe a big hunk of sharp cheese.

Dig in!

Sourdough Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I have loved cooking with sourdough ever since I lived in Alaska in the early 60s. The problem is that the starter keeps growing, just like Topsy! I give it away, I use it as often as possible, but I still end up with more than I can use. I’m open for any sourdough recipes you may have, so please send them to me!

This recipe starts out with 1/2 cup of starter, and since I had extra without having to prepare it the night before, this was a good recipe to use today.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together:
1/2 cup starter
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup sugar

NOTE: I used real sugar in this first mixture because I believe it is necessary to help the starter to “work.” Cover and let this mixture stand for 2 hours in a warm spot. I put mine in a sunny kitchen window.

In a separate bowl, cream together:
1 cup butter (I used Smart Balance 65% buttery)
1 cup sugar (I used Splenda)

When well mixed, add 1 tablespoon molasses (I used blackstrap). Then add one egg and continue to mix thoroughly.

Add:
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries or dried blueberries)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Into this, mix the starter mixture.

The batter will not be as stiff as most of us are accustomed to when we make plain oatmeal cookies. Using a teaspoon, drop the batter onto greased baking sheet about two inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 12 minutes. Depending on your oven, it may take a couple minutes longer, but mine came out at 12 minutes. I got 4 dozen in this batch.

A hui hou!

Spicy Fig Orange Jam

Figs are a delicious but fragile fruit. Once you have acquired them, you need to do something with those you don’t eat. Overeating of figs could produce some gastric distress, if you aren’t careful. That gives you as good a reason as any to make jam out of the majority of your fig supply.

Cut 5 cups of fresh figs (about 2 pounds) into quarters, removing stems. Add 1 cup water and 1/4 cup lemon juice. (Note: even white figs will turn dark as you cook them, so feel free to use any kind of fig.)

Grate 1 tablespoon of fresh orange rind. Chop the fruit of two oranges (all pith, seeds and membranes removed) to make 1 cup, including juice.

In a large pot, combine the grated orange rind, the orange fruit and juice, lemon juice, figs. Let this sit overnight. One of the tricks of making marmalade is to let the fruit marinate overnight in a bit of water. Personally, I think this makes a richer flavor in any of your jams or marmalades. Figs benefit from this, as well.

The second day, add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter to lessen the foaming. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring often. Skim off any foam.

The third day, add 3 cups of sugar and bring back to a boil. It changes color to a dark brown. Because it’s a fragile fruit, rather than boil it too long (long enough to get it to the setting point), you can add 1 packet of pectin to hasten the gelling process.

Ladle into sterilized jars, add sterilized lids and rings. Tighten the rings and turn jars upside down for 15 minutes. Once you turn them right side up again, this is when the lids usually pop, indicating a good seal.

Adapted from 250 Home Preserving Favorites by Yvonne Tremblay.

‘ono loa