Monday, December 24, 2007

Pesto Sauce

30 large basil leaves
1 clove garlic
4-5 grains rock salt
2-3 Tablespoons pine nuts
1/2-2/3 c. olive oil.
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Blend basil, garlic, and rock salt in food processor. Add pine nuts and olive oil, combine until it's a medium-textured sauce. Add parmesan cheese. Add more of each ingredient to taste. Serve over pasta, chicken, or anything else. Yum.

Pecan Balls

1 c. butter
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 1/2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped pecans
powdered sugar (for rolling)

Cream butter. Add sugar, flour, and salt (it will be hard to mix). Add the remaining ingredients and press into a big ball. Chill 1 hour. Pinch off dough and roll into 1-inch balls. Bake at 400F for 10-14 minutes. Roll in powdered sugar. Roll again in sugar when cool.

Popcorn Balls

1/2 c. margarine (I think real butter would work)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. mini marshmallows
2 quarts popcorn (popped)
2 c. mini marshmallows
mixed nuts (optional)

Melt butter and sugar. Stir in 1 cup of mini marshmallows. Add popcorn, other marshmallows, and nuts. Shape into balls.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Recipe request

I'm looking for a yummy popcorn recipe- the kind that makes the gooey, buttery, sticky kind of popcorn that you could make balls with or just eat. That stuff is SO good.

ye olde Christmas Candy

When I made Christmas candy last year, I wrote a post about why it's important to me. You should read it here, if you want. My mother made it every Christmas season during my childhood and now we make it together!!

Tuesday was the only day we could get together - and I'll tell you, my house STILL smells good and it's Thursday morning! We worked in tandem this time, finishing in record time. Well, we would've been done in record time if on the final batches we hadn't had a small sugar snafu.

The legacy of hard tack comes from my father's mother, and I have taken the liberty of scanning in her recipe, which my mom owns. I love to look at her handwriting. She passed away when I was in 6th grade. If you decide you want to make it (which, really, you should try sometime), here is what we do in addition to/different from this recipe:

First, make sure you buy flavored OILS and not extracts. I've found them at the Dutch County Market and my mom buys them here online. Usually they are tiny bottles measured in DRAMS. Each batch uses ONE DRAM. I think the bottles you get from online are 2 drams, so we just pour in half. Just be sure to look. Typically, here are the flavors and colors we make and stir together when all the batches have been cooled in their jars:
anise - purple
peppermint - yellow
wintergreen - blue
cinnamon - red
spearmint - green
While it's getting ready to boil, make sure you stir it a lot or the sugar will burn on the bottom of the pan. Once it hits about 260 degrees, it starts heating up REALLY fast. Faster than you'd think. So watch it close. Right at 285 degree pull out the candy thermometer, (I usually slide it into a different pot), take the pot off the heat, pour in the oil , put in 12 drops of food coloring and stir and stir. Keep the pot AWAY from your face while you stir, the oil is some STRONG stuff. Seriously. I tend to walk around my house to spread the smell :)

Don't put the powdered sugar on the parchment. Put the powdered sugar in a mason jar and put the parchment on a granite baking slab that you've gotten really cold somehow. We put it outside when it's freezing, or put bags of frozen vegetables on it when it's a warm winter : ) The cold slab helps the candy to cool WAY faster. As you break apart the candy and put it in the jar, every few minutes shake up the jar to coat the candy with the sugar - that's so the pieces don't stick together.

I did a little photo essay on Tuesday:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Vast Number of Recipes

I have a lot of family recipes I want to post, but I don't want to clutter up Telestial Kitchen with a lot of recipes that might have limited appeal. So I am planning on starting up a recipe blog as kind of an annex to my personal blog. If any of you are interested, you can link to it via my blog at Since I am off school for about the next month, it is my goal to post at least one recipe a day.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

For Lisa: Biscuits Supreme

This is my favorite biscuit recipe (although I'm sure there are other greats), and Lisa asked me for it ages ago. It's from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, and you can also find it on their website. But for your convenience I'm putting it right here, along with a few additional tips not found in the recipe.

3 c. all-purpose flour
4 t. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
3/4 t. cream of tartar
3/4 c. butter or margarine, or 1/2 c. butter and 1/4 c. shortening
1 1/4 c. buttermilk or 1 c. milk (1 c. milk + 1 T. vinegar = 1 c. buttermilk. Mix them several minutes before you add to the recipe so it has time to do what it's supposed to do. Don't try it with powdered milk. Actually, try it. It's kind of interesting what happens. Just make sure you have some regular milk handy so you can actually make the recipe.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (I suppose you could use 2 knives instead of the pastry blender, but they're so much harder to work with. I recommend the pastry blender.) Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add buttermilk all at once. Using a fork, stir just until moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing dough for 4 to 6 strokes or just until dough holds together. Pat or lightly roll dough until 3/4 inch thick. Cut the dough with a floured 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter. (Tip: Don't twist the cutter. It breaks the dough and lets out all the nice air bubbles that make your biscuits light and fluffy. Just press down firmly. Also, cut out as many biscuits as you can from a single rolling of dough because the dough gets tougher with each rolling.)

Place biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a 450 degree F. oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Remove biscuits from baking sheet and serve immediately.

Microwave Caramel Corn

In the spirit of the holidays, I thought I'd add another treat to those already shared. This caramel corn is good anytime, but for some reason my family only made it around Christmas. It's pretty simple.

5 c. popped corn (Note: 1/2 c. unpopped = 12 c. popped)
2 T. dark or light corn syrup
4 T. butter (or margarine--even lite margarine works)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 t. vanilla
1/4 t. baking soda

Place popped corn in a paper grocery bag. In a glass bowl or measuring cup, microwave syrup, butter, and brown sugar for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir. Microwave for 1 minute more. Stir. Add vanilla and baking soda. Stir. Mixture should get foamy. Pour syrup over popped corn in bag. Close bag and shake. Place bag in microwave for 1 minute*. Shake again and microwave 1 minute* more. Spread on cookie sheet (no need to grease) and allow to cool.

*When I made this before I got married these times worked great. Then I used our new microwave and the popcorn got overcooked. Now I do 30 seconds/30 seconds, give or take. You might want to just play with it, but if you have a new-ish microwave, it's probably more powerful than the ones used when this recipe was written (which was a LONG time ago). Generally, the longer you cook it the darker and crunchier the caramel corn will be. Shorter times result in lighter, chewier caramel corn. It depends on how you like it.

Another note: Like I said, this was written a long time ago. I recently read that it's not good to cook things (namely turkeys) in paper bags because of chemicals used in production. I've never had a problem with this recipe (so far all of my children have turned out fine), but if any of you know that there is a problem with microwaving food in paper bags, let me know. And let me know if you know of any alternatives because even if it's not unhealthy, paper bags in the microwave are bulky and hard to work with.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Janet Nelson's Persimmon Cookies

I double this and it can make about 80 cookies! They have a yummy, cake-like consistency.

1/2 c butter
1 c sugar (I use less)
1 egg
1 c of pulp (make sure the persimmon is ripe/soft and just scoop it out - takes 1 - 2 big ones)
1 c nuts (I use more - walnuts or pecans)
1 c raisins (instead I like to use dried cranberries- and more than 1 cup)
2 c flour (I use white whole wheat from Trader Joe's)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (I use less)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp each - cinnamon
ground cloves
often I add orange peel
Add the baking soda to the persimmon pulp and set aside for at least 5 minutes
Cream the butter, sugar, egg
Add the pulp and mix
Gently stir in the flour mixture (with spices etc)
Add the nuts and cranraisins (or whatever you're using)
Drop by teaspoonfuls (it spreads) on greased cookie sheet
Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.

A Mere Curiosity

This is random. But I'm curious about blog members' responses to this question: What are the ingredients that you can't live without? I'm referring to those ingredients that you use in nearly all your recipes, so important to your kitchen functioning that, if they ceased to exist, your family would starve and your shelves would be bare?

(For example, my crucial ingredients are rice, tofu, canned tomatoes (fire-roasted or basil and oregano), soy sauce, whole wheat pasta, black beans, canned corn, olive oil, adobo (Goya brand), and brownie mix.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

REVIEW: Toffee Troubles

I am so impressed at how EASY this toffee recipe was. However, a few things didn't work out quite right... help please?

When it was "the color of Peanut Butter", I poured it out only to find the "toffee" was swimming in melted butter in the pan. It was mostly hard after leaving it in the fridge for 2 hours, (still kind of chewy-hard, not rock hard) but once I left it on the counter overnight, it was gooey-ish and the chocolate was melted. It does taste right though. But it is kind of grainy. Did I not heat it long enough? Did I use cheap sugar? Will baking chocolate not melt as much as choc. chips?

I promise I used real butter this time.

Please help. I want to make a million batches of this for everyone we know, but I want to figure out what I did wrong first...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

REQUEST: Persimmon Recipes

I gave out a bunch of persimmons at church a few weeks ago on behalf of someone with a productive tree. I gave them to people who had no idea how to use a persimmon, and promised I would send them recipes. I have no recipes.
Could you please ask around for something to do with Hachiya (cooking) persimmons?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fudge Recipe for dummies

1 Cube Margarine
1 Cup Evaporated Milk
3 Cups Sugar
• Put all the ingredients in a heavy LARGE saucepan.
• Cook at medium high heat until butter is melted.
• When it starts boiling set the timer for seven minutes (this may differ for you, but this the first time you need to check for soft ball stage) Use a glass bowl, fill it with cold water, take a spoonful of the mixture and drop it in the water. If it forms a soft ball when you roll it between your fingers, pop it in your mouth and be on your way… if not, set the time for one more minute and test again. Repeat procedure until soft ball can be formed. If you do it too long though it will completely ruin it… careful!
1 pint of marshmallow crème
1 bag of milk chocolate chips (you can use semi-sweet too, but I think it is too bitter tasting)
nuts (yuk) if you want.
• Stir until all the chocolate is melted
• SPRAY WITH NONSTICK SPRAY and put in a regular 11 X 13 cake pan.
• Cover and put in fridge

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Microwave Peanut Brittle

This is Katie's recipe.

1 cup raw peanuts
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a microwave bowl cook 8 minutes on high, stirring 2-3 times during. (Watch carefully. I burned this once and it was a pain to clean up.)

add 1 Tablespoon butter

Cook 3 minutes on high

add 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda

Put into buttered pan right after adding soda. Do not spread with a spoon.

Disclaimer: I've only made this twice with two different microwaves. The second time was when I burned it (I haven't been brave enough to try it again). Microwaves cook differently so watch it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Flour Tortillas

These tortillas are pretty easy and sooooo good. Plus they freeze well, so I encourage making a large batch and then saving for later.

Also, as a quick note... if you're going to make them more than once, I HIGHLY recommend a tortilla press. You can get them dirt cheap at your local Latino market ($5-$10) and are worth every penny. Rolling them out by hand is at least 3 times more work. I have a 8 inch metal one that I looooooooove. The perk of metal is that you don't have to use a piece of wax paper when you roll them out like you do on a wood press. Ok, enough about that.

5 c. flour (or, if using whole wheat, 4 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup white flour)
1/2 c. olive oil (you can also use lard or shortening... but I like to pretend I'm being healthy, despite my plans to top them with piles of cheese)
2 t. salt
1.5 c. boiling water

Mix the flour, olive oil and salt together with a fork, or ideally, a pastry blender. Make a well and pour in the boiling water. Mix together with a fork and then as it begins to become one large ball, knead by hand until it is moist, but does not stick to your hands. Add flour or boiling water as needed to get to this consistency.
Form 1-2 inch balls and set on a plate. Cover with a towel and set aside for 15-20 minutes, up to an hour. I have no idea why this step is important, but it makes a big difference.
Roll (or press) out until very thin. I usually press the tortillas twice, once on each side, to make them as even as possible.
Heat a griddle or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Place the tortillas on, and flip over when they start to bubble and have light brown spots. Remove and place in a stack on a plate or in a cloth napkin, or allow to cool slightly and then refrigerate or freeze.