Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Watching for Santa Over Tea and Cookies

Christmas Eve

The grandkids excitedly anticipated the wonders of Christmas and informed us they could watch Santa's progress by satellite. Simply check into the Norad site and follow on the map as Santa made his way across the world to the United States.

So while I enjoyed a cup of tea with cookies, we watched Santa's progress. This also is a fascinating way for youngsters to learn geography and facts about different countries.

They finally gave up and went to bed as Santa headed toward South America. He has a few hours yet to reach our country.

Have you ever watched Santa via satellite? What will they think of next!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Cookies, Tea and Conversation

After Bible Study tonight at church, we had cookies and conversation...a time to exchange Christmas greetings and enjoy friendship. Several of the ladies contributed homemade cookies of various types:

Cranberry Nut Jumbles
Coconut Drops
Krispy Rice Bars
Sugar Cookies with a dab of jam in the center
Frosted Sugar Cookies
Chocolate Tarts with Whipped Cream
Chocolate Drop Cookies with cherry in the center

(I know there were more, but I can't recall them all right now.)

What types of cookies do you bake for holiday gatherings?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Visit Quilting and Patchwork for a Giveaway


If you're a quilter or simply like giveaways, why not stop over at Quilting and Patchwork and participate in the Giveaway of a Mini Quilt Book.? It's in progress over there.

Perhaps you're not a quilter yourself, but know of someone who would enjoy this book by Patricia Mainardi if you won it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Record Your Christmas Traditions & Recipes

Christmas Traditions

Most families have holiday traditions handed down through the generations. Many of these come to us from our parents and grandparents. Then we often combine them for our children, plus add customs of our own.

These are treasured memories to record for yourself and for future generations. Often you’re the only one who remembers the stories told to you by relatives.

*Begin a Christmas Journal in which you record the various memories.

*Look for pictures of Christmas past and photos of relatives who attended these festivities.

*Place these photos on CDs and make copies for family members. These make nice gifts.

*Start a scrapbook of holiday stories and photos.

Consider Your Parents’ Traditions

When considering my parents’ traditions, I remember they grew up celebrating Christmas differently. So we had a medley of customs, resulting in an expanded holiday for us children.

Mother’s family opened their gifts on Christmas Eve, then had their big dinner Christmas Day with relatives often visiting. Father’s family had their gifts on Christmas morning.

So they compromised. Mother let us open one gift the night before Christmas, and we enjoyed the remainder the next morning…after Father and the hired man milked the cows and ate breakfast. (That was such a long wait.)

We always let our daughter open one gift on Christmas Eve, and she’s carried out that tradition with her children. What traditions have you carried on or combined?

Christmas Foods

We generally had roast chicken for Christmas dinner because we raised chickens on our dairy farm and sold eggs commercially. Turkey was a special treat.

Nowadays we often have roast beef for our Christmas dinners. To accompany this, our daughter makes YORKSHIRE PUDDING, a dish her children enjoy, which she learned about when in England as an exchange student.

Actually she has adapted a POPOVER recipe and makes individual servings, baking them in a muffin tin instead of with the meat drippings.

Beat 2 eggs slightly. Then add remaining ingredients (1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup milk, ½ teaspoon salt) and beat until just smooth, making sure you don’t overbeat.

Fill a well-greased six-cup popover pan, six small custard cups, or stoneware muffin pan about ½ full. Bake in preheated 450 degree F. oven for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. and bake about 20 minutes more until they’re a golden brown. Remove from cups immediately and serve.

(Beth doubles the recipe, making 12 popovers. You also can spoon gravy or meat drippings over them individually, if you like them this way.)

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma enjoys researching family food customs and holiday traditions. Visit her at: and )

Friday, December 12, 2008

Enjoy These Offerings from The Food Bloggers

Food Bloggers

Here are some offerings and ideas from The Food Bloggers. Enjoy!

BlogTalkRadio's In the Kitchen BlogTalkRadio's "In the Kitchen" features the Women's Day food editors offering their tips and ideas for making the best dishes possible. This week they discussed budget friendly holiday cooking tips.

Busy Family Meals Jenna Pepper shares her expertise on how to get kids to try new foods!

Collecting Tea Pots and Tea Cups Mary Emma, at Tea Time Notes, chats about collecting tea cups and those she obtained from boxes of soap detergent many years ago.

Cooking Gadgets Giftybox is the unique way to give cooking classes or winery tours to those on your gift at a special discount for our readers!

Power Food Follow-Up Following up on last week's Power Foods blog, Jean decided to share a few tasty recipes that “fit the (power) bill”.

Spiced Carmelized Pecans A perfect treat for your holiday parties.

Win Sauce...and a Microwave from Bertolli This week an week steaks. Cookerati has a giveaway a week in December.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Tea Cups & Tea Pots

I’ve seen a festive tea pot with holiday design at the local thrift shop where my daughter and I often stop for unique as well as useful items. If it’s there the next time we visit, I think it was meant for me to acquire.

I also look for interesting tea cups for serving tea on various occasions or simply to use myself. Today I found (at our local recycling facility…formerly called “the dump”…a Golden Wheat tea cup and saucer.

This brought back memories because that was the first set of dishes Jim and I owned. Where did they come from? Boxes of soap detergent. There was a promotion for Golden Wheat in the detergent my mother-in-law purchased (to wash laundry for a family of 10) She collected this dishware for us and accumulated a set of 4. The only other item I have left after 48 years is a soup bowl.

Do you have any special tea cups in your collection?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tea Parties - How About One With JK Rowling?

Tea Party

To celebrate the release of her latest book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, famed author JK Rowling invited approximately 200 school children to enjoy tea with her. What an exciting experience!

Read more about this at my One Book Two Book blog. This book is a spin-off of sorts from the latest Harry Potter book, Deathly Hallows.

I wonder what they had for tea and refreshments. Possibly something with a Scottish influence since this was to take place in Edinburgh.

I can imagine the excitement of the children who have been selected to attend the tea. (I think they had to submit an essay or something similar.) I think back on my afternoon of tea with children's author, Tasha Tudor. Even though I was a young adult, I was thrilled to have this opportunity to visit her and chat beside her country fireplace about books and writing.

Do You Like Giveaways? Try These for the Tots in Your Life

One Book Two Book Giveaways

If you like giveaways, you'll find a series of them at a blog I co-write with Marcie Pickelsimer, One Book Two Book, running from Dec. 2-7.

Check out the rules and leave comments at the following links. You can enter any or all of the giveaways. These will make great Christmas gifts for youngsters, too.

Book Swim Giveaway
Readeez DVD Giveaway
Baby Can Read Giveaway
Wii Pop Star Guitar Giveaway
Fly Me To The Moon Giveaway
Giveaway - Celebrity Arthur Book from Speakaboos
Giveaway - Countdown to Bedtime Soundbooks
Giiveaway - ECO Baby Organic Playdough
Baby Potential Teacher Onesie Giveaway
Natural Pod Giveaway
RideMakerz Giveaway
Happy Green Bee Giveaway
Mead Writing Fundamentals Giveaway


Friday, November 28, 2008

Fun for a Snowy Day

When the snow flutters down, lightly and softly this morning in New Hampshire, it's time for another cup of tea. What flavor shall I choose?

Perhaps a cup of Chai spice black tea. This should keep me going at my writing and business bookkeeping. Also, the aroma is so nice. My grandson comes into the room, "Nanny, what smells so spicy and good?"

What tea would you choose for a snowy day? What shall I have with it? I'll toast one of the rolls left from yesterday's Thanksgiving dinner and cover lightly with natural fruit spread (no sugar added).

Also, you might like to read about our first snowfall of winter, which occurred earlier in the week. ng-inspiration/

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from Mary Emma's Country Kitchen

Happy Thanksgiving

We've been busy this morning getting the turkey ready. Yes, we're having the traditional turkey. My hubby selected it so has been monitoring the preparations. After I made the stuffing ("like Mother used to make!"), I left the rest to him. The engineer in him cooks to precision.

My daughter has been preparing her special recipes to add to our menu. She made her daughter's request of "glop" for breakfast...a combination of bread cubes, eggs, sausage, cheese, and milk. Some of us like that, while others have something else. (We live in a multi-generational home with six family members, a dog, guinea pig, and rabbit.)

Perhaps you'd like to see my Thankful Poem, a project on my Quilting and Patchwork blog.

How about writing your own Thankful Poem this weekend? Or any time of year?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Herbs & Spices for Your Holiday Cooking

We often take more time to experiment with recipes and try new ones throughout the holiday season. This may mean using herbs and spices we haven’t tried before or discovering new ways to use familiar ones.

Utilizing herbs and spices often enables you to cut down on the salt and sugar in a recipe if you have dietary considerations in those areas. These condiments give an intriguing flavor (when used in proper, not excessive, amounts) so you don’t need your food so salty or sweet to taste good.

Herbs vs. Spices

Whether a flavoring is obtained from the leafy or another part of a plant generally determines whether it’s labeled an herb or spice. With some plants you can use both parts; others you utilize one or the other.

Herbs are more likely to come from the leaves, and you use them both fresh and dried.
Some of the herbs you may have heard about or have used include: thyme, tarragon, mint, parsley, oregano, chives, sage, rosemary, coriander, marjoram, and basil. Do you have some favorites?

We generally obtain spices from the bark, roots, seeds, fruit, or stems of the plants. Sometimes you use them dried and ground; other times whole. For instance, you can purchase cinnamon in a ground form and as a bark stick.

Those you may have used are: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, paprika, anise, cumin, mustard seed, and ginger.

History of Herbs and Spices

Throughout the ages, cooks, witch doctors, medical specialists, and folklorists have found various uses for herbs and spices besides flavoring foods.

Some have medicinal properties; others have been used in religious ceremonies. You will find some were believed to be love potions. Others were considered a sign of wealth, especially during the Middle Ages. Traders of those times, too, considered spices very valuable.

Trading routes to the Orient, over land and sea, were prominent in those days to bring spices from the Far East. Marco Polo sought spices and the spice routes during his travels.

Uses of Herbs and Spices

My mother-in-law used herbs and spices so well and produced intriguing flavors with her foods. What was her secret?

“Never use so much people can tell what it is,” Mum once told me. “Leave them asking what you put into that recipe to make it taste so good.”

Some people overwhelm you with flavors in their cooking that you can’t taste the food. Now, all of this will depend on individual taste. Some people do like the flavor of particular herbs and spices so will add more of these to their cooking. To those who like milder flavors, they’ll want to be intrigued, not overwhelmed.

APPLESAUCE COOKIES are a nice harvest and holiday dish using spices. Mix together ½ cup shortening, 1 egg, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup applesauce into which you’ve stirred 1 teaspoon baking soda.

Sift together 2 cups flour, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Stir into the applesauce mixture. Add 1 cup rasisins or chocolate chips. Drop onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees F. or until done.

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mystery Tea Time Parties, a Fascinating Concept

What fun! Tea Time Mystery Parties!

Have you ever thought of holding a mystery tea, complete with mock murder mystery, clues and solutions? I'd never thought of it either until I learned about the "murder mystery teas in a kit" that Maxine Holmgren organizes at Maxine Mystery Tea Parties. In fact, she's made a business of this, providing mystery scripts she's written, along with recipes, invitations, and other items for the complete tea party.

There's also an interesting article, Tea, scones and a murder mystery, by Hope Pierson that gives some details about Maxine and her parties, which now have become popular beyond her home area of Sun City, AZ.

This is an intriguing idea that puts a very different spin on tea parties.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Check Out the News at Tea Time Notes

News at Tea Time Notes

Continue to check out Tea Time Notes for updates on tea, tea parties, tea time accessories, recipes and more.

You won't want to miss my story about Tea Time with Tasha Tudor. This visit for tea with one of my favorite children's authors is most of those special memories in time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrances of Veterans Day

Veterans Day meant a great deal in my childhood. Two of my uncles served in the World Wars. My husband is a veteran, too, so for several years I was a military wife.

I've written about this day at several of my blogs and have included a post of Alicia Sparks:

One Book Two Book: Remembering Our Veterans on Veterans Day.

Alzheimer's Notes:Veterans Day Memories in Alzheimer's World

Quilting and Patchwork: Patriotic Quilts for Veterans Day

Alicia Sparks' Mental Health Notes: Help Veterans Obtain Mental Health Resouces

Do you have associations, past and present, with Veterans Day?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Vegan Cookie Recipes Galore

Vegan Cookies for the Planet

The 20 Most Delicious Vegan Cookie Recipes Ever features recipes for the vegan lover who wants to "Eat a Cookie! Save a Planet!"

Developed by vegan Kirsten Nissen, this ebook offers you cookies made from organic ingredients for many occasions and tastes.

Check out what Kirsten has to say (link above) about these recipes and why she developed them.

Do you have vegan cookie and other recipes to share?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Country Kitchen's Squash Recipes


As mentioned, you can prepare squash in a great variety of ways…soup, casseroles, desserts, and breads.

MASHED SQUASH - Simply cooked (boiled or baked), scooped out and mashed, served with butter and a dash of cinnamon, makes an easy to prepare vegetable dish.

SQUASH PIE – Substitute cooked, mashed winter squash for the pumpkin in a recipe. It’s tasty. I usually can’t tell the difference, but some people claim they can.

BAKED ACORN SQUASH with APPLE FILLING - Wash 2 acorn squash, cut into halves lengthwise; scoop out the seeds and fiber. Place in a baking pan with the cut side down. Add ½ inch boiling water. Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 20 minutes.

Using 3 tart apples, peel, core and dice them. Mix with ¼ cup melted butter and ½ cup maple syrup or honey.

Take squash from oven, and turn cut side up. Brush with melted butter. Fill squash with apple mixture. Cover the pan with foil, and then continue baking at 400 degrees F. for 30 minutes, or until the apples and squash are tender.

ACORN SQUASH VARIATION – Many people serve the squash plain. Turn them right side up and sprinkle with cinnamon, possibly a little sugar, and a dab of butter. Finish baking until tender. You also can substitute maple syrup or honey for the sugar.

MORE VARIATIONS - Some cooks make bread stuffing, like that used for turkey, chicken or pork and fill the squash with it instead of apples. You also can add cranberries to the apples (recipe above) or to the bread stuffing. In the South, cooks might use cornbread stuffing.

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

Squash - A Bounty of Fall

Wonders of Squash

Winter squash, in its many shapes and varieties, makes a hit in the fall. This hard tough covered vegetable will save into the winter when stored in a dark, dry place.

Generally, in our homes today, the storage consists of a basement or pantry. Years ago, a root cellar held stored food – winter vegetables, squash, cabbage, etc. This was a dug out portion of ground, often containing a framed door, possibly framing inside – a sort of cave.

Storage in the root cellar kept fruit and vegetables from freezing and provided food throughout the winter. If the house had a cellar and it was cold enough, food often was stored there.

Squash Appeal

Squash appealed in days ago because it kept well through the winter (if stored properly) and could be prepared in a variety of ways, thus adding variation to the menu, in days when there weren’t so many different foods as today.

This vegetable comes in many types. Among them are: Hubbard, acorn (the traditional dark green), white acorn, gold acorn, table ace, butternut, bush, sugar loaf, buttercup, sugar, and turban.

Decorative Ideas for Squash

In addition to providing food for fall and winter, squash with hard shells provide decorative accents, both indoors and out.

*Place near your doorway, around a display of dried corn stalks, perhaps with pumpkins and gourds, too.
*Arrange squash and winter vegetables in a bowl on a sideboard, dining or kitchen table.
*Simply arrayed throughout the house wherever a colorful accent is needed, they look nice.
*Also displayed in a crock or basket in a front hallway they add color..
*Place in gift baskets with other fall fruit and vegetables.

(c)2008 Mary Emma Allen

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pumpkin Pies & More

Pumpkin pie has been associated with autumn menus since the 17th century. It's believed the the early settlers made the first pies by scooping out the seeds from the center of the pumpkin and then filling it with milk, seasonings, maple syrup or molasses. Then they baked the pumpkin until tender.

Poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote about pumpkin pies. Mention of pumpkin pie, pudding, and other dishes is found in other writings and diaries.

Many Varieties of Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pies come in many varieties today. Some cooks like to use the fresh pumpkins, cutting them up, cooking and mashing them for a pie filling. Others use canned pumpkin. When I was a child, we generally used the pumpkins we grew in garden and field.

You also can mix pumpkin with other ingredients for pie variations.

  • This includes stirring a package of mincemeat into your pie recipe.
  • Or you can create a chiffon pumpkin pie by making a gelatin custard mixture and stirring cooked pumpkin into it. Then turn into baked pie shell and top with whipped cream or whipped topping.
  • Add vanilla ice cream to the pumpkin pie.

FROZEN PUMPKIN PIE is one variation.

Stir 1 pint vanilla ice cream to soften. Spread in a baked 9-inch pie shell. Freeze ice cream in shell until firm.

Mix together 1 cup canned or fresh cooked pumpkin, 3/4 cup sugar (1/2 cup if you don't want it so sweet), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. (Spice amounts may vary depending on individual taste.) Fold in 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows and 1 cup heavy cream, whipped (or use whipped topping).

Spoon onto ice cream layer. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired. Freeze until firm.

When serving, take from freezer and let stand in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes. Top with more whipped topping, if desired.

(c)2008 Mary Emma Allen

Pumpkin Time of Year

These orange globes of autumn dot the fields and garden. They're stacked in piles around farm stands. They cover fields. My husband and I drove by a church yard colored orange by the multitudes of pumpkins for a fund raising sale.

My nieces used to raise and sell pumpkins at a stand in front of their home. The contrasts between the orange of pumpkins, dried cornstalks, and colorful leaves on the trees present a perfect country autumn picture.

Children carve or paint laughing and scary faces on pumpkins to display for Halloween. That was a high point of my childhood and for my daughter and grandchildren, too.

It's also time for pumpkin recipes. What are some of your favorites?

(c)2008 Mary Emma Allen

Friday, September 19, 2008

Traveling, Meeting Authors & Finding New Food Ideas

My love of traveling translates into discovering new places (or revisiting old ones), meeting new people (or seeing friends again), learning about new foods and collecting recipes. On a recent trip to Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I experienced all of these.

I met in person for the first time, two authors I’d been corresponding with via an Internet group and e-mail. Janet Elaine Smith and Billie Williams live side-by-side on a street they call Authors’ Row, in a small town in northeastern Wisconsin. Their homes were right on Jim’s and my route to Iron Mountain, Michigan, on the Wisconsin/Michigan border.

Inspiration for Novel

Having tea with Janet and Billie and chatting with them, inspired me to get going again on my Civil War era novel for youngsters, Papa Goes to War ( ). Janet has written one for youngsters, My Dear Phebe, based on letters from this period connected with her family.

My novel, still in draft form, centers around ancestors (my grandmother’s uncles) who fought in this war. In researching more about them and their lives, I discovered the Mandy of my novel, whose mother had died. Her father felt he needed to fight for the Union. So his new wife took care of the children. In my story, Mandy experiences the turmoil of a father away, a new stepmother, and a world (the world she knew) at war.

Foods of the Area

As I began thinking again of getting back to work on this novel, we traveled further north to Iron Mountain, where we had business meetings. However, while there, friends introduced us to new recipes.

Food in this area is influenced by the Scandinavians who settled here to work in the lumber camps. Lumbering still is a big part of the economy of the region.

Baking on the Grill

Since our friends’ oven wasn’t working, they were doing much of their baking on the grill. I was amazed at how much can be cooked this way.

She purchased pizza that needed baking. It turned out delicious on the grill. Her son made chocolate chip oatmeal cookie bars and baked them on the grill, too. Another tasty treat.

Potatoes in Foil – Combine thinly sliced potatoes, cut-up green beans fresh from the garden, and diced onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dot with butter. You can add sliced or julienne carrots. Wrap mixture in foil and cook over the grill until done. (This dish also could be baked in an oven, preferably in a dish but covered with foil.)

KRUPSUA, a recipe with Norwegian origins, is a family favorite they wanted to make for us for supper. Wisk briskly together in a medium bowl – 3 eggs, 2 cups milk, 1 cup flour, ½ cup sugar. Slice ½ stick butter into cast iron skillet . (Our friend used an 8-9-inch one. You also can use a round cake pan.)

Put pan in oven preheated to 400 degrees F. (She used her toaster oven.) Remove pan when butter is melted. Pour the krupsua batter into it. Put back into oven and bake 20 minutes until set in the middle. (It will rise something like a soufflé.)

Slice into wedges and serve warm or cold. We enjoyed it with mashed strawberries and whipped topping, although you can eat it without. Delicious!

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma Allen enjoys traveling, collecting new recipes, and meeting with friends. Visit her new travel blog, .)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Glove Boxes & Tea Parties


“Those were glove boxes,” the gentleman remarked when I showed him two wooden boxes (about 5 x9x2-inches) connected by a 24-inch piece of wood.

They had set on the dresser in the guest room of the farmhouse where I grew up. I’d always thought they had been used for storing jewelry and handkerchiefs.

Apparently ladies stored their several pairs of gloves in these boxes. Probably the ladies also placed hankies here, too, as my aunt did when she visited and used the guest room.

Why Mention Glove Boxes?

Why am I writing about gloves boxes in Country Kitchen? This reminded me of Victorian tea parties when ladies and young girls wore gloves and hats if they visited someone’s home. When I was a girl, we weren’t considered well-dressed for church and formal occasions unless we wore gloves and hats.

No, I’m not of the Victorian tea party era, but I grew up with a tea tradition in my family. It was a sign of hospitality to offer a cup of tea. Even after Mother lived in the nursing home with Alzheimer’s, she enjoyed the tea parties when my grandchildren (her great grands) and I visited her.

So…when the gentleman, who was looking at some of my other old furniture, noticed the glove boxes and told me about their use, I was reminded of tea parties and tea time traditions.

Tea Parties Popular Topic

I’ve also discovered that tea and tea parties and accompanying recipes are popular topics here at Country Kitchen. One lady remarked that reading my column was like sitting down and chatting with me over a cup of tea. I hope I make you feel welcome and that you enjoy our weekly “chats” on the many and diverse topics I discover to share with you.

Tea party foods are varied. There are traditional English teas. Then Americanized versions. My grandmother and aunt might have freshly baked bread with churned butter and homemade jelly. Auntie usually had cookies, too.

At the nursing home, Mother enjoyed muffins we picked up at a fast food restaurant. The grandchildren liked them or cookies we might bring with us.

CRAZY QUILT BREAD might be a fun recipe to try for serving with tea. Mix together ½ cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 ¼ cups milk, 3 cups biscuit mix; beat quickly for 30 seconds. Batter should be somewhat lumpy.

Stir in ½ cup mixed candied fruit and ½ cup chopped nuts. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45-50 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. There probably will be a crack on the top. Cool before slicing.

(Variation; You may want to bake it in a 9-inch square pan at same temperature but for less time.)

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her NH home or during her travels. Visit her latest blog The “Green” Vagabond Traveler (

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


As I glanced through a quilting magazine, I saw an introduction to the book, Victory Garden Quilts, by Eleanor Burns. This term brought back memories.

Even the fabrics were reminiscent of those we used in making clothing and other items in that era. These were fabrics like those used when I learned to sew, my grandmother pieced quilts by hand, and Auntie sewed aprons and hand towels.

Also, the term "victory garden" took me back to childhood during World War II, when these gardens were popular and patriotic. (See my post Victory Gardens Popular Once Again.)

(c)2008 Mary Emma Allen


In the days of my childhood, during World War II, Victory Gardens were the height of popularity and patriotism. Now Americans’ thinking has come full circle, and I see and hear the term “victory garden” frequently.

Victory gardens, where Americans raised their own fruit and vegetables, often the first time for many, were popular during those war years. Some also planted flowers for cheer in an uncertain world of black-outs and food shortages and rationing.

Our Victory Garden

Although I grew up on a farm where we had a garden anyway, my mom planted one with flowers she called our Victory garden. She painted a large tub red and blue with large white V’s on either side. This, filled with geraniums, she positioned in the center of the plot.

You found Victory Gardens in city and country. They were planted in any space one could utilize, if you didn’t have a traditional garden plot. You might see vegetables in window boxes, front yard, back yard, or side yard.

Victory Gardens Today

Today, with gas and food, not rationed, but definitely at higher prices, more people have been thinking about raising and preserving their own food this summer. The term of 65 years ago came to someone’s mind, so they’re referred to as Victory Gardens again, as people, who have never done so or rarely, begin planting gardens.

Some of these may be no more than herbs, tomato plants and pepper plants in window boxes or tubs. Others may spade up a small plot in their yard. Others might be community garden, whereby residents pay a small fee for a plot to plant in larger acreage.
Do you have Victory Garden memories? .

World War II Foods

The recipes of the war years often had to be altered to reflect the scarsity of butter, eggs, milk and other items. That’s when margarine or oleo came into use (the type we had to mix with yellow coloring so it didn’t look like lard).

ONE EGG CAKE – Although we had plenty of eggs on our farm (we raised chickens and sold eggs as well as the milk from dairy cows), many people didn’t. So recipes using fewer eggs or no eggs were devised. Also, less sugar and shortening often were called for.

Cream 2/3 cup sugar and ¼ cup shortening; add 1 egg and mix well. Sift dry ingredients (1 ½ cups flour,1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking powder). Add these to shortening mixture alternately with ½ cup milk and ½ teaspoon vanilla added. Beat well.

Bake in 8-inch square or round pan at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes until tests done. Frost with desired icing.

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma Allen writes memories, cooking columns, and stories from her NH home. She also teaches memory writing workshops. Visit or )

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Cook's Secrets Revealed

I blew up the eggs and the odor lingered throughout the house all day no matter how much deodorizer I sprayed. I couldn’t hide this cooking error! My family calls this the trials of living with a writer.

I put six eggs on to boil and sat down at the computer to write. I forgot to set the timer, so the next I was aware…the odor of sulphur enveloped the kitchen and wafted toward the office where I was working.

So…don’t think I’m the perfect cook. My family will tell you otherwise. When I’m busy with a writing project, my husband knows he may need to cook our meal if he wants it to perfection.

(Does he think I do this on purpose so he will cook the meals? Incidentally he’s a great chef.)

Another Cooking Secret

Let your children cook when they express a desire to mess with ingredients in a mixing bowl. It’s worth the patience to have them “help” when they’re young. They may do much of the cooking for you when they’re older.

I was a news reporter when my daughter was a teen, so my schedule often was erratic as I covered stories throughout the area. Beth often called me after school and discussed the supper menu. It was great to come home and find the meal ready. Since then she has become a very good cook.

What fun when a family cooks together and shares the meal preparation tasks. Each may develop their specialty and add it to the menu.

Desire for Simpler Meals

I find, as I grow older, I have less desire to cook complicated and time consuming recipes. Perhaps it’s because I like eating simpler foods. Do our tastes change from one stage of life to another.

I think back to some of the foods we prepared on the farm when I was growing up. And I recall how my mother-in-law talked more about the foods of her youth as she advanced in years.

This, too, is a way we can carry on the family food heritage by preparing some of these for our family and copying them down in cookbooks.

PRETZEL SALAD is a dish Beth makes that I enjoy. Although it’s called a salad, you actually can use it as a dessert. You make it in layers.

1st layer – Mix together 2 cups crushed unsalted pretzels, 4 tablespoons , ¾ cup melted butter or margarine. Spread in a 9 x 13-inch pan at 400 degrees F. for 6 minutes. Cool.

2nd layer – Mix together 8 oz. cream cheese, ½ cup sugar, and 8 oz. whipped topping. Spread over cooled crust. (You can use lower fat cream cheese and lite whipped topping, and you can cut back the sugar somewhat if you’d like it less sweet.)

3rd layer – Dissolve 6 oz. package strawberry gelatin in 2 cups boiling water. Stir in 10-oz. package frozen strawberries. Chill until almost congealed. Spread on top of cheese mixture. Continue chilling until set. Cut into squares.

This Pretzel Crust makes a nice base for other desserts or jelled salads.

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

(I write from my multigenerational home in NH. Visit my other blogs at , ,,, http://)

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Food Bloggers Offer Favorite Food Ideas & Recipes

The Food Bloggers compile some of their favorite posts into weekly offerings. This week, I'm sharing the ideas with readers here at Country Kitchen.

At Busy Family Meals Cyndi is polling your summertime eating preferences...come vote, and let your voice be heard!

HG, You Go Girl! Jean reviews Hungry Girl's new recipe book. It blasted onto the NY Times Best Sellers List as #2!

Healthy Eating - Sometimes Challenging for the Home Business Owner Mary Emma Allen, at Home Biz Notes, shares ideas on how the time pressed home business owner , or anyone, can eat better.

Publish Your Own Cookbook Eileen tells you how easy it is to publish your own cookbook of family or club recipes. Start gathering up everyone's favorites now!

Enjoy! Share with us some of your favorite recipes.

(c)2008 Mary Emma Allen