Friday, January 16, 2009

News Flash!!

It may be freezing or worse outside but it is warm in my heart! I talked to my Mom today and she gave me some great news. Recipes ahead! After I visited my parents in December my Mom e-mailed my Dad's cousin. Mom asked for favorite family recipes from the Collins side of the family. Mom received an email that some recipes are on the way. Our cousin copied the recipes so they will be coming in the handwriting of those who loved them and created many happy memories with them. Is this foodie genealogy? Well, I cannot wait to receive them. Of course I will share them here. I'm also thinking of making them for my dear family at our wonderful four generation vacation in August.

When Mom was talking to me about the recipes, we started reminiscing about my Grandma's cooking. She remembers many family dishes she loved. She raved about Grandma's rum pie with chocolate shavings and cream pies with mile high meringue. Imagine recipes shared and lovingly passed down from generation to generation. I cannot wait.

In the mean time, I am exploring my new cookbooks and making some of the dishes. I love salad. Endless permutations and combinations of color, flavor and texture. I adore lettuces with fruit, nuts and cheese. My family loves orange, onion and avocado salad. The Winds Cafe had a salad that was called Put Another Log On the Fire. It's lettuces, bacon, apple, chunks of cheddar and pecans. I would make a dressing with apple cider vinegar to carry the apple flavor through to the dressing. Dressing is the finishing touch and the ingredient that pulls it all together.

I make a lot of home made dressing. I love it that I choose what goes in or stays out. No chemicals, no strange UFO extras I cannot pronounce. It doesn't need a product to extend shelf-life or something unnatural to enhance the "natural" flavors. We make it several times a week. It's easy to create. Just use a simple ratio and a screw top jar. For a very basic vinaigrette here goes.

1 part acid to 3 parts oil. Shake well and adjust by adding a little more acid or oil to your taste. If you are using a juice as the acid you may need more. If you are using a strong acid like a vinegar try 1 part vinegar to 4 parts oil initially. Apple cider vinegar and some balsamics are pretty bold. If you want a more subtle oil flavor choose canola. Olive oil adds a wonderful depth of flavor but the flavor can be pronounced. Nut oils are also good but don't substitute the nut oil for all of the oil. It's your taste. Then add a little salt and pepper. Use white pepper if you don't want flecks of pepper in a light dressing. If you want to make the dressing a bit creamier you can use can add 1/2 tsp. of Dijon mustard for each cup of dressing and shake hard and long. The mustard emulsifies the dressing and stabilizes it. Try country mustard with seeds or a wine mustard. If the dressing seems a bit tart I add a little honey - a tsp. Of course consider the addition of garlic and herbs. Be sure to let it sit for at least an hour before you serve it so those flavors can merge.

I made a very nice dressing last Saturday. We were having a pizza party at our dear friends and I brought salad. I used 1/3 C white balsamic vinegar to a cup of olive oil. I added a little salt and pepper and 1/4 tsp. minced garlic. I thought "hmmm, I need to boost the Italian factor with a little something." I went to the fridge and found a jar of pesto. I added a generous Tablespoon to the the dressing and shook like crazy. It was very good. It was the top of a salad that was Boston lettuce, red leaf romaine, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, toasted pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Very nice. Soon I'll post Phoenix Hotel Dressing. My maternal grandparents got the recipe on their travels. It is a great variation on a french dressing.

Note to family: You know who you are. Sign up as authors and submit those recipes. I will hunt you down. People will get tired of mine alone.


  1. genealogy!!! My grandmother Hughes was a wonderful cook. She did not do anything fancy...just good plain food. There are meals I rememeber in great detail and wish I could make them the way she did. Her mother was a cook....did it all by instinct. She ran a variety of boarding houses and then was a cook on a river boat that traveled up and down the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers. My Dad said that when Grandma VanGilder was in town, he could smell the aroma of her baking as he came home from school. I was able to get some cake recipes from my UK Hughes family and the gingerbread. Apparently the true measure of a English cook is her gingerbread.

  2. I love that! What are the meals you remember? Is it possible to look at the old English recipes and think about how that would be done? It just tickles me that the sauerkraut recipe I posted is very much like choucroute garnie. Changed and rearranged but similar at the core. I expect to see the gingerbread recipe on the Flipside.

  3. This could be a very fun collaboration.

  4. Enjoyed your most recent Newsletter. The Phoenix recipe for salad dressing came from the Phoenix Hotel in Findlay, Ohio. I had forgotten about that one. It is a takeoff on French salad dressing that is very good. Kind of in the era of Cottage potatoes and Tomato pudding. When some one wanted one of Grandma O's recipe, I am told she might one leave ingredient out so whoever made it's dish wouldn't be quite as good as hers. Only for your FYI. It's snowing again!!! Love, Mom