Monday, December 31, 2007

When the Sun's Comin' Up, Got Cakes on the Griddle...

2008 is going to be a good year, or at least one filled with new classic recipes. My family and friends were kind to me this Christmas, giving me many classic cookbooks and you are going to be introduced to a lot of new ones in the coming days and weeks. But we'll start with a classic recipe for griddle cakes from a truly classic cookbook, Three Meals a Day: Cooking, Table, Toilet, Health. As the title suggests, this book is more than just recipes. If you're like my husband you'll ask the whole car ride home, "TOILET?! What does that have to do with cooking? TOILET!?" But you're not like my husband, so I trust you'll just enjoy this recipe and look forward to reading excerpts from it in the future.

This copy of Three Meals was given to me by a friend (she's my husband's boss, too, so shouldn't we be the ones giving her super cool gifts?). She collects classic Spanish and French primers and travel books, but for some reason picked this book up years ago. She wrote a very kind note about the book and how she never quite understood why she bought it. I'm glad she held onto it, because it is an amazing gift an an amazing book.

I always thought griddle cakes were the same thing as pancakes, but these definitely aren't the pancakes I know. The recipe says they are light and fluffy but, well, they aren't. They are rather heavy, but they do puff up quite a bit. You can see from the list of ingredients that there aren't any eggs or sweetener, and the only fat is from the buttermilk, but the corn meal provides a certain amount of sweetness and different texture. I just put a little maple syrup on mine, as you can see in the picture above, but my husband topped his with peanut butter and apple butter and a little syrup, he was shocked, shocked I tell you, that after eating six (!!) of these that he felt full most of the day. The cakes are large enough that you can cut them in half and toast them like an English muffin. Yum.

Griddle Cakes
Adapted from Three Meals a Day: Cooking, Table, Toilet, Health, sometime in the 1890's. I cut the recipe in half and it made about 12 good size cakes. The batter is really, really thick, so you can add more water and they will be more pancake like, bubbling up when they are done on one side. The thick batter can be scooped onto the griddle using an ice cream scoop and cooked at a lower temperature for a little longer. I used half whole wheat flour, and half white flour and the balance seemed about right; all white flour would probably make a lighter cake.

1 quart of buttermilk
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs baking soda
1 cup corn meal
5 cups flour

Beat all ingredients together, until most of the lumps are gone. Preheat a griddle over medium heat. Pour about 1/2 cup of batter onto the griddle and cook on one side for a couple minutes. After flipping the cake, press down slightly with the spatula. Cook until done.

Just So My Mom Can Say, "I Told You So"

You'll notice some changes to this site, most noticeably the ads on the side of the page and a button indicating that this blog is a Foodbuzz featured publisher. What does this mean?

First, it means my mom can say "I told you so," because from the beginning she was convinced that this blog was more than just me writing to my friends and family. When I was contacted by Foodbuzz a couple months ago about entering into an all official-like relationship I kept it quiet for awhile trying to figure out what it meant for me and this blog.

Basically, it means I have a chance to really give this thing a try, finding more readers for Classic Cookery. Foodbuzz has no editorial say and they don't care how much I post, which I was worried about because during finals or other hectic times I go underground and "cooking" means pouring soy milk on a bowl of cereal.

The ad thing we are still working out. This is a food site, not a political one, so I will keep my opinions to myself but I will say I want ads to reflect to the extent possible my choices as a consumer. I am trying to be realistic about this, knowing there won't be ads for my CSA or local farmer's market or anything; on the other hand, I can't in good conscience have ads from any businesses I boycott or am opposed to for other reasons. This may take some adjustment and renegotiating, so bear with me. The people at Foodbuzz have been great to work with and I'm looking forward to working with them.

Check out this and other food blogs, restaurant reviews and other food stuff at Foodbuzz.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Oh no! I Have to Bring Something!

My Christmas gift to you is this trio of super easy, super fast sweets to mix up and take with you to every home you visit this holiday season. If you throw the gingerbread in the oven, make the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars, take the gingerbread out of the oven and make the Coconut Drop cookies you can have all three of these treats done in about 2 hours.
Most of the ingredients are probably floating around your cupboard already. A couple weeks ago, my husband was startled to come home and find on the counter a big jar of creamy hydrogenated sweetened peanut butter because I read that our usual natural peanut butter shouldn't be used in cookies. But now I have a big jar of creamy hydrogenated sweetened peanut butter begging to be used, and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars use a full cup of it. I see more of these in our future.

Quick Gingerbread
Adapted from Kitchen Tested Recipes: By the Home Economists of the Famous Sunbeam Mixmaster The King of Food Mixers, 1933. As you can see in the picture I added a glaze to mine. The glaze is a little melted butter, a little water, a smidge of lemon extract, and a lot of confectioner's sugar. I glazed the gingerbread while warm so some of it melted into it.

1/2 c molasses
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c flour
1 egg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c butter filled to 1 c with boiling water

Heat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into a greased 8" x 8" baking pan. Bake 30 minutes.

Coconut Drops
Adapted from Festive Foods: Wisconsin Gas Company, 1971. I did not have cans of coconut so I used about 12 oz of sweetened coconut in a bag and it worked just fine. I dipped the bottoms in melted dark chocolate. These would be really good with added craisins or pecans.

4 cans (3 1/2 oz each) coconut
1 can (15 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 325. Mix coconut and condensed milk. Drop about a tablespoonful at a time on a greased baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Adapted from Festive Foods: Wisconsin Gas Company, 1971. I didn't have rice cereal or corn flakes on hand so I substituted 3 cups of another cereal (a high fiber one, so treat eaters beware!).

1/2 c light corn syrup
1/4 c brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups rice cereal
1 cup corn flake cereal, slightly crushed
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine syrup, sugar and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, extract, cereal and chocolate bits. Press into buttered 9" x 9" pan. Chill about one hour. Cut into small squares.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Most Used Recipe: Baked Brown Rice

If you come here only to read classic recipes and can't bear the thought of a new recipe, avert your eyes.

For those of you still with me, I am going to share my most used recipe: oven baked brown rice. Many people have sung the glories of rice cookers to me and I'm sure they are very nice and do their job very well. But I have a galley kitchen in a condo and really don't have the space to have any one-hit wonders kitchen appliances (yes, I know I have an apple peeler-corer-slicer but that belongs to my husband and it's teeny).

I found this recipe in the Cook's Illustrated The Best Light Recipe Cookbook and really can't believe we used to eat the mushy brown rice I used to cook in a pot on the stove. We have brown rice once a week or more so I often double the recipe and reheat it as necessary. In the summer, I don't like heating up the kitchen for this long so I sometimes use the Pampered Chef rice cooker in the microwave but it's got nothing on this recipe. Follow the directions exactly and you will have a pan full of perfectly cooked individual grains of brown rice.

The picture above is of our dinner last night a simple stir fry made with Brussels sprouts, tofu, and red peppers. My friends will tell you I wear a lot of brown, I am boring like that, but a picture of brown rice is even more boring so you get this festive picture that has little to do with the recipe below.

Oven-Baked Brown Rice
Adapted from The Best Light Recipe. This is one recipe I follow exactly (except I use a stone baking pan, not a glass one). Normally, brown rice calls for a 2:1 ratio of water to rice but not here. Trust me...just trust the Cook's Illustrated people.

1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 1/3 cups water
1 Tbs olive oil

Heat the oven to 375. Spread the rice in an 8" square glass dish. Bring the water and oil to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in a little salt. Pour the water over the rice. Cover the baking dish with a double layer of foil. Bake about one hour.

Remove the dish from the oven and uncover (there will be a lot of steam). Fluff the rice with a fork, cover with a clean dish towel and let stand for five minutes. Uncover and let stand for five more minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ode to Soy Nog

Soy to The World*

Soy to the world, Silk nog is here!
Now pour yourself a cup;
Let every fridge be stocked with nog,
Add some bourbon and drink up,
Add some bourbon and drink up,
Add some bourbon, add bourbon, and drink up!

Soy nog's healthy, no cholesterol,
Better than the real stuff!
A fifth the fat, half the calories
Drink it, it will make you buff,
Drink it, it will make you buff,
Drink it, oh drink it, it will make you buff!

*No chickens or cows were harmed in making this song, but three poor little cats had to hear me sing it to make sure it worked to the tune. It doesn't. Suggestions for improvement are welcome.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Butterless Kitchen

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's most of us find ourselves making and sampling (or scarfing) mounds of fatty foods. Given the current array of butter and cream cheese coming to room temperature on my counter right now in anticipation of hours of baking, Classic Cook's home is no exception. Thus, a newer book in my collection, "Gourmet Cookery for a Low-Fat Diet" offers a brief contrast to this seasons eatings. This book from 1961 shares dire warnings about the dangers of fat and gives us confidence to "[g]o into [our] butterless kitchen without despair, for now it can be done."

And, oh, the joy these authors have for fat free cooking! We will become the "Columbus of the kitchen, a Magellan of the markets" using this book that is destined to "become a kind of classic, a pioneer, a Dan'l Boone of what to eat and how to eat it." Oh my. That's a lot from one cookbook.

Here's something many people can get behind: the importance of alcohol. They dismiss the "Puritans" among us who don't drink alcohol because the authors "do like enlightenment, and heed to the dictum of science which says that alcohol is the purest food known." Well there we have it. It's scientific! I'm enlightened! Now bring on the bourbon!

But first, a recipe. My potato repertoire is pretty limited: oven baked potatoes or mashed potatoes. This recipe for Casserole Potatoes really isn't outstanding, it's just, well, potatoes in milk. The beauty of it how easy it is to modify, making it a good basic recipe to have. Get rid of the caraway seeds and add garlic or a little cumin or thyme. Add a little cheese and butter (ignore the fat free crowd!).

And remember, "ignore the dull, dreary rules, regulations and restrictions of the diet books and still feel confident entering the Kingdom of King Pausole."

Casserole Potatoes
Adapted from Gourmet Cookery for a Low-Fat Diet, 1961. Modify, modify, modify this recipe. I think more than anything it gives you the confidence that you don't need a recipe to make potatoes.

White potatoes
Caraway seeds
Skim milk

Preheat oven to 375. Slice some raw potatoes into a lightly buttered casserole. Cut them thin. Scatter some caraway seeds and salt in between the layers and pour in skim milk to a depth of about one inch. Cover, place in 375 oven for 30 minutes. Stir potatoes. Recover and place in oven for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Recipes Listed by Cook Book

A periodically updated list of my cook books and the recipes that come from each one.

250 Ways to Serve Vegetables

Mashed Turnips

Better Homes and Gardens: Recipes from Famous Places

Pumpkin Muffins

The Bisquick Cookbook, 1964

Apple Slump

Boston Cooking School Cook Book

Book Review
Chocolate Cake
Cranberry Sauce
Curried Green Tomatoes
Eggless Chocolate Cake
Fifty Basic Recipes
Mashed Potato Baskets
Orange Frosting
Peach Muffins
Rhubarb Filling
Sauteed Mushrooms and Green Beans
Scalloped Sweet Potatoes and Apples
Snow Cake
Southern Corn Pudding

Festive Foods: Wisconsin Gas Company

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Coconut Drops

Gourmet Cookery for a Low-Fat Diet, 1961

Casserole Potatoes

Just How: A Key to the Cook-Books

Tapioca Pudding

Kitchen Tested Recipes

Baking Powder Biscuits
Party Cookies
Quick Gingerbread

Purity Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Canadian Cooking

Tangy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Putting Food By, 1974

Sun-Cooked Strawberry Jam

Rumford Complete Cookbook

Flaky Pastry
Oatmeal Crisps

Slenderella Cook Book
Book Review
Cucumber Salad
Onion Soup
Whole Wheat Bread

Three Meals a Day: Cooking, Table, Toilet, Health

Floor Wax
Frugal Graham Flour Muffins
Griddle Cakes

Weight Watchers Cook Book
Mushroom Puree

Recipe cards, new cook books and other miscellaneous recipes

Brown Sugar Cookies
Sweet Potato Pecan Burgers
Oven-Baked Brown Rice

Veganizing Classic Recipes

Most people who know me know I make a lot of vegan recipes. One vegan friend jokingly (at least I hope it was a joke) that I only get invited to parties because I bring good vegan baked goods. Alas, there are very few vegan recipes on this site and I decided not to tag the ones that are. Many of them can easily be veganized so I like to think of most of them as potentially vegan. Some substitutions are pretty easy--margarine for butter--and some are trickier. Check out my favorite site on the topic at the Post Punk Kitchen.

Friday, December 7, 2007


I have not given up on cooking or caught a train to Clarksville or spontaneously combusted or [insert event here]. It is simply the end of the semester crunch time and I am living on oatmeal and take-out. Surely you understand.

I will be back soon.

From my home to yours, you will find a very special message here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Last Minute Visitor Cookies

A few weeks ago I was surprised to find a heavy envelope in the mail from my great aunt. She wrote to say she and my great uncle don't have a computer so my Dad had sent her a print out of an entry I had written about her mother, my great-grandmother. In the envelope there were some of my great-grandmother's hand written recipe cards, and my great aunt also wrote her memories of each of the recipes.

The one I'm sharing today is for Brown Sugar Cookies. My aunt wrote that they were "light little things" and that her "father enjoyed them with his coffee." They come together very quickly and use basic ingredients that most people have on hand.

They are also a great "last minute visitor cookie" because they are what is often referred to as an icebox cookie. That is, you make the dough and put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. The recipe said it makes three rolls, but I made four and they are good sized cookies. Though I can't say for sure, I think these will be fine baked from the freezer. I have two in my freezer now so I should know soon enough.

A little digression here...I made some icebox cookies years ago and had a roll of them waiting in the freezer for visitors. My parents unexpectedly dropped by when I wasn't home. My boyfriend baked the cookies and, no doubt, impressed them even though I had done all the hard work. I still married him.

Now, if you have a special classic recipe to share with me, you might just get a delivery like the one my aunt and uncle are about to get. (I also added some cashew brittle that I made this morning if you're wondering what else is in that tin.)

Brown Sugar Cookies

Adapted from a recipe card from my great-grandmother. You may be able to see from the card that the recipe is devoid of certain directions like how to bake them, so I made those parts up. She also suggested adding a "little more" butter which I did not do, but I'm sure that would make them even better. I used pecans but any nut you like would probably work here. Feel free to improvise; I think Grandma Reardon would like that.

1/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 cup nuts
2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour

Mix together the boiling water and baking soda. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, cream the sugars and butter. Mix in the eggs. Add the nuts and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the flour. Stir in the water and baking soda mixture.

Divide the dough into four equal portions. Roll about 1 1/2" thick. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for an hour or more.

Preheat the oven to 350. Slice and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes, until light brown. Baking time may be longer depending on how cold the dough is.

Does Anyone Have a Recipe for These?

A very special recipe is coming soon, but for now, I hope you enjoy this...