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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Southern Collard Greens and Ham Hock

Traditionally wild greens or greens from small gardens were seasoned with smoked meat such as ham hocks, fatback or a ham bone. Sometimes greens and vegetables with different flavors were mixed. Pot likker, the highly seasoned liquid that remains after greens are cooked, is rich in vitamins and minerals. When greens were served, the leftover pot likker and cornbread were often served the next day.

In slave kitchens, meat was often scarce. In the song “Ham Bone”. . .
"Ham bone, ham bone, where you been?
Around the world and back again”

. . .refers to the practice of sharing a ham bone to season greens. The ham bone was shared with different slave families and then returned to the owner. Even today many African American cooks would not think of cooking greens without ham hocks or fatback, but smoked turkey parts can be substituted producing the same type of smokey flavor with less salt and fat.

This recipe is for the beginner that may have never cooked or even eaten collard greens. It is a basic southern soul food method of cooking collard greens.



Ingredients:
4 pounds collard greens
2 ham hocks
1 teaspoon sugar
1 hot pepper pod
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
water

Cookware and Utensils:
1 Dutch Oven
1 cutting board
1 sharp knife

Recipe Instructions:
As always the key to great cooking is to be prepared and use quality ingredients.

Selection of collard greens is very important. Go to your local grocery store or farmer's market and select 5 pounds of young leafy collard greens. You will select more than the recipe calls for because some leaves will be unusable and the large stems will be cut off and discarded. Also, remember that the greens shrink at least by half in the cooking process. So you need more than you think.

Start off by cooking your ham hocks. You can find ham hocks in most grocery stores near the ham section in the meat department. If you don't see them, ring for the meat dept and ask for them. Place ham hocks in a Dutch oven. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover meat and simmer until tender. This should take about 1 hour. Don't allow the water to cook out.

While the ham hocks are cooking, go ahead and prepare your greens for cooking. Rinse your greens several times under cold water to remove dirt or sand. Trim away any hard thick stem ends. After greens are clean and trimmed, stack several leaves on top of each other. Using a cutting board and knife, roll the leaves together and cut leaves into 1 inch thick strips.

When your ham hocks become tender go ahead and add more water, the collards, sugar, hot peppers and garlic powder to the Dutch oven. Add greens to the pot until the pot is full. Most likely all of the greens will not fit. Just allow the greens to cook down and continue adding until all of your greens fit in the Dutch oven. Cover greens and continue to simmer for about 1 hour, until greens are tender. Stir your greens often and keep sufficient water level so all the collards simmer. About halfway through cooking, add salt and pepper to taste.



Eggnog Cake

You've got to have some eggnog handy for this one at this time of year! Some of the famous Rimini Eggnog would make it even better! Illegal but better! LOL

1 (18.25 ounce) yellow cake mix
1 cup eggnog
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Glaze:
2 cups 10X sugar
2 tbsp eggnog

In a mixing bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Mix. Pour into a greased and floured 12-cup fluted tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack. Remove from pan; cool completely.

Combine sugar and eggnog. You may need to add more eggnog to get it to the consistency you want. Spoon over cake.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Daddy's Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

I've done a few Oatmeal Cookie Recipes, but this one is my Daddy's favorite! He had me make 3 dozen for his small office party, and he complained that he didn't even have one left to bring home :-)


1 1/2 c oatmeal
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c Craisins (dried cranberries)

6 T butter, softened
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl and stir.
Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and beat til combined. Add dry ingredients and stir.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until batter is firm.
Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop dough by rounded tsp onto cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake at 350 for 12-16 minutes or until edges are golden brown.



Eggnog Cake

You've got to have some eggnog handy for this one at this time of year!
Some of the famous Rimini Eggnog would make it even better! Illegal but better! LOL

1 (18.25 ounce) yellow cake mix
1 cup eggnog
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Glaze:
2 cups 10X sugar
2 tbsp eggnog

In a mixing bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Mix. Pour into a greased and floured 12-cup fluted tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack. Remove from pan; cool completely.

Combine sugar and eggnog. You may need to add more eggnog to get it to the consistency you want. Spoon over cake.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pumpkin Butter

Have any cans of pumpkin left over from the holiday? Here's an idea... It's great on pancakes, biscuits, muffins and even ice cream!

29oz can Pumpkin
1 1/2 cups Apple Juice
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1 1/2 t Cinnamon*
Pinch of Ground Cloves

Whisk ingredients together. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
*Add 2 t for more intense cinnamon flavor.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tip of the day... Powdered Buttermilk!

Have you ever bought buttermilk for a recipe and ended up throwing half of it away? I have! I buy buttermilk for about $2 or $3 for a small container. I use half and I throw the rest away. (After I find it in the back of the frig months later!) Here's a great money saver!!!

Saco Buttermilk Powder makes about 3.75 quarts of buttermilk and costs around $4! I found it at my local Piggly Wiggly grocery store for a little less than $4. When baking, you just mix the powder with your dry ingredients and add water where it calls for the buttermilk. I used it in my Mama's Red Velvet Cake and it worked perfectly!


Buttermilk Powder
4 tbsps powder = 1 cup buttermilk

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oatmeal Craisin Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks

I bought some craisins the other day thinking that my son would love them. He and my husband like raisins, and they both like sour flavors. I had them try them, (proud of myself for finding something different that I knew they'd love) and I asked them, "How do you like them???" Their response was... "Eh, not so much." Sooooo, I decided to put them in a traditional Oatmeal and Raisin cookie recipe... With a Twist.
See what you think.



2/3 cup margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 5-ounce package Dried Cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Using an electric mixer, beat margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Home-made Pie Crust and Lemon Custard Recipes

A lot of people are afraid to make their own pie crusts. A lot of people will say, "Why bother when you can buy all the different ready made ones in the store?" (I've even used that one!) BUT... if you follow these directions and use COLD ingredients, you'll taste the difference and want to make them when you have the time. For those times when you just do not have time... use the pre-made stuff, but try this one when you have time :-)



Pie Crust

2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 sticks *COLD butter, cubed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Pulse in a food processor until pea size.

Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup **ice cold water.

Pulse until dough forms when mashed together in your hand. Divide into 2 rounds and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 -2 hours.

* If the butter warms in your hands while cubing, sit it back in the frig until it is nice and cold.
** Fill a pitcher with ice and add water. Let sit until you are ready to make the dough to insure that the water is ice cold.

Lemon Custard

Whisk together in a medium size saucepan:
6 egg yolks
3/4 cups sugar

Add:
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.

Add:
zest of 1 1/4 lemons

Stir with a wooden spoon.

Add:
1 stick of butter, cubed

Stir until melted. Cool and cover with plastic so a skin doesn't form. Chill for about 30 minutes.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Tummy Trouble?

Photo from:
http://brooksvillegardenclub.us/sage5.jpg
Many of us complain about over eating during the holidays. Some of us even complain that we really didn't overindulge and still have that nagging heartburn or indigestion! I had that problem for years until I started listening to my Dad. He always complained about dressing (or stuffing) giving him heartburn/indigestion. I started investigating, and I couldn't figure out what the problem was... until I noticed that the pre-packaged mixes always have the pungent aroma of sage. My Dad always complained about sage being the culprit. We had homemade dressing and had the same result... heartburn! Come to find out, the homemade recipes called for poultry seasoning which is loaded with sage. Smell the poultry spice in your spice rack or smell the pre-packaged stuffing mix (if you use it). That strong herb smell is sage. I'm not knocking sage. It's a lovely herb to use. It's just not the most friendly to the tummy!

If you've had this trouble and never have been able to find out what the cause is, try this recipe for homemade dressing (or stuffing if you like) and see if it helps your tummy troubles.
P.S. It will not help the over indulgence problem however!




Cornbread Dressing

This is very basic. You can add or remove veggies or the eggs. You can also add 1 t poultry seasoning. I don't use it because sage causes a heartburn problem in my family, but you can add it if you like!

2 (16 ounce) pkgs Jiffy corn bread mix
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch celery, chopped
6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
2 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
2 cups turkey stock
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare cornbread according to directions on package. Cool and crumble.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Saute the onion and celery in 1/4 cup butter. In a large bowl, combine the crumbled corn bread, onion, garlic, celery and eggs. Gently stir. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and turkey broth 1 cup at a time until the cornbread becomes very moist but soupy. Place stuffing into a casserole dish. Bake for about 45 minutes or until stuffing sets.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sooooo Ready for the Christmas Season!

A Christmas Tree in Every Room!

When I was growing up, each year we had at least two Bar-B-Ques, one at Thanksgiving and one at Christmas. The Bar-B-Que at Thanksgiving was on Saturday and was for all the employees and business associates of Mama and Daddy. The one at Christmas was on Christmas Eve and was for family and friends. We had about a hundred people at each. We would spend all week getting the house ready and two days getting all the food ready. Mama would take some of the guys from the shop (Central) and put them to work at the house. One year, Al Miller (a young black guy that worked at Central) told Mama, “You’ve owned slaves before, Haven’t you?” It was always a busy and exciting time.

At one of the Christmas Bar-B-Ques, someone came out of the bathroom and I heard, “Oh my goodness, she even has a Christmas tree in the bathroom!” Mama had a Christmas tree in every room. The kitchen... living room... bathrooms... bedrooms... everywhere... We kids even had our own trees in our rooms. The trees ranged in size from 2 feet to 6 feet. Mama had a tree with seashell ornaments. One had dove ornaments. One had all homemade ornaments. One had all Victorian ornaments. One had all red and white ornaments. One had all Santa ornaments. She had a tree made of holly decorated with ornaments. She even decorated some of the houseplants!

Mama loved it. Holidays were another reason for parties, gifts and food with family and friends! Christmas was especially magical. Mama went all out. I remember one year Mama came home with Christmas sweatshirts. Mine read, ‘I Believe in Santa Claus.' Mama’s read, ‘I Want It All.' Charlie’s read, ‘Bah Humbug!’ Mama’s one requirement for Christmas morning presents was that you believe in Santa. Mama and I even had our picture taken with Santa.

One year when Charlie was about 6 years old, he came in and told Mama that there was no Santa Claus. She questioned him and then called everyone in the room. She said, “Listen up! Charlie has come in with the idea that there is no Santa Claus! That is not true! There is a Santa and anyone who does not believe in him...well, Santa won’t bring them presents. Is that clear? And I mean it! Clear?” Well, later Mama pulled us (except Charlie) aside and said that it didn’t matter who Santa Claus was or where the presents came from. It was the love and giving of the Christ-mas season. But the presents did come and as long as we said we believed we’d get presents. It didn’t matter if we were married or 50 years old, Santa would always come for us. What a concept! And she meant it. Jim and I got married (now my ex-husband) and she told him the same thing. That first Christmas, Santa brought Jim a recliner! The next year Jim told Mama at Christmas time, “I believe!”


Ice Box Fruit Cake

My Mama made this every Christmas! I can remember sneaking in the frig and cutting a sliver off. It is so rich all you need is a thin slice... so this 'cake' goes a long way!

1 (12 ounce) package vanilla wafers, crushed
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (4 ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved
2 cup chopped pecans

In a medium bowl, stir together the pecans, cherries, condensed milk and vanilla wafers. Dough will be very thick, you will need to use your hands.

Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and place dough inside. Refrigerate overnight or until the cake is set and all the milk is absorbed.


Colonial Hot Buttered Rum
This recipe is hundreds of years old... dating back before Colonial Times!

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 pinch salt
2 quarts hot water
3 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
2 cups rum

1 cup whipped cream
ground nutmeg to taste

Combine brown sugar, butter, salt and water in a 5 quarts slow cooker. Add cinnamon and cloves. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours. Stir in rum.

Ladle from slow cooker into mugs and top with whipped cream... dust with nutmeg.


Eggnog Cake
You've got to have some eggnog handy for this one at this time of year!
Some of the famous Rimini Eggnog would make it even better! Illegal but better! LOL

1 (18.25 ounce) yellow cake mix
1 cup eggnog
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Glaze:
2 cups 10X sugar
2 tbsp eggnog

In a mixing bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Mix. Pour into a greased and floured 12-cup fluted tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack. Remove from pan; cool completely.

Combine sugar and eggnog. You may need to add more eggnog to get it to the consistency you want. Spoon over cake.



Judy's Red Velvet Cake

There is no getting away from making this cake that Mama made famous in these parts. This is the most flavorful, moist and delicious cake I've ever made. I will say that to make this like Mama, you HAVE to follow the directions word for word... FOLD do not beat with a mixer at the end. It makes the cake dense and hard.


1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons cocoa
3 tablespoons red food coloring
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon soda
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs. Mix well. Mix cocoa and food coloring in a cup. Add to eggs and sugar. Add vanilla. Sift flour and salt. Add, alternating with buttermilk. Add soda and vinegar. Let foam and FOLD into mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Icing:

1/2 cup butter, room temp
8-ounces cream cheese, softened
1 box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whip together until creamy. Spread on cake. Garnish with chopped pecans if desired.