Monday, April 27, 2009

Try Tempting Teasers from the Food Bloggers

Try some of these tempting teasers from the group of writers called the Food Bloggers:

Ironstone - Dinnerware with Memories Mary Emma, at Country Kitchen, relates the memories connected with the ironstone platters her mother used for serving family meals. You, too, can write down your family memories associated with dinnerware past and present.

Looks like Playing with Polymer Clay to Eileen Eileen challenges you to watch this great YouTube video by “fondant artist”, Robin Hassett, and tell her if it doesn’t look like playing with clay to you. Food can be art too!

Real Food Fast! Once you've tried risotto, it's hard to go back to plain rice!

Reuben Casserole A new twist on an old favorite.
What's your favorite?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ironstone - Dinnerware with Memories

“Here are the old white dinner platters Mother served roasts, stews, apple dumplings and roast chicken on,” I remarked, when I discovered them in a pantry closet. I was sorting belongings in the home where I’d spent my childhood.

My mom had developed Alzheimer’s, so we found it necessary to move her to our home 275 miles away. Finding these three large oval white ironstone platters, two chipped and well used, the other, a rectangular one with narrow brown border in better condition, brought back memories of foods served on them and the occasions Mother used them.

Ironstone has always interested me because I thought Mother’s large platters and a few other items she had were attractive. These were heavy and durable, and just right for serving a large family. There were seven or eight of us at meals, unless friends or relatives stopped by to add to the crowd.

History of Ironstone

This type of dinnerware, opaque earthenware, first was produced in the early 1800s. It originally substituted for costly Chinese porcelain and bone china. Ironstone, a utilitarian ware, was very durable and not easily chipped.

Much ironstone was undecorated and designed in angular and octagonal shapes popular between 1840 and 1860. Potters began making American ironstone in quantity in the 1860s.

Usually ironstone carried the name of the maker and often had the word Ironstone, Opaque china, Stone china, or Granite imprinted on the back. There is nothing on Mother’s platters. Therefore, hers must have been very ordinary ironstone.

I don’t know where Mother acquired them. Were they wedding gifts? Or were they platters Grandma once used and handed on.?

Foods Served on Mother’s Ironstone

However, I recall some of the meals Mother served on these ironstone platters. These included pot roast, beef stew, chicken and dumplings, roast chicken, apple dumplings, baked ham and other foods.

Mother cooked these meals in the oven of the wood stove or on top. Some, such as stew, simmered in the black iron pot.

As I recall these meals, I also picture in my mind, our family sitting around the kitchen table…Father, Mother, four children, the hired man, and after World War II, my uncle who boarded with us. If a friend stopped by at meal time, there always was room for an extra plate.


Brown 1 pound ground beef and ½ to 1 diced onion. Add 1 can cream of mushroom soup (low salt and low fat if you’re watching these items in your diet). Simmer at least 10 minutes. Just before serving, stir in ¾ cup sour cream and heat until warm.

Place steamed rice on the ironstone platter, which has been warmed. Then pour the stroganoff over this. You also can use noodles or mashed potatoes.

©2006 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma Allen researches and writes about foods and food history from her home in New Hampshire, USA or while traveling.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring Ideas from The Food Bloggers

20 Last Minute Spring and Easter Party Treat Ideas Check these out, they're not just for Easter several will work for a Spring celebration.

Nighttime Noshing: Success of Sorts Jean hasn't lost any more of those ugly extra pounds, but she has some major good news to share from the "battle of the bulge" battlefront.

Real Food Fast! What's in season now?

The Joys of Keeping a "Mom's" Journal Mary Emma, here at Country Kitchen, tells of her enjoyment when journaling about her experiences as a mom.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Joys of Keeping a "Mom's" Journal

“Keeping a journal about our children is one of the best gifts we can give them,” one mother remarked. She said she was trying to preserve her family’s experiences.

Many of us have good intentions of keeping a journal about the joys and challenges of raising our children. With the first child, we often begin a baby book, then with more children, or as the years go by, we do less and less.

The same happens with a journal. I began writing about our daughter in detail, then found that life became busier, and my writing often tapered off. I got caught up in a quiltmaking business, writing assignments, helping my husband with his business, caring for ailing parents.

However, I did squeeze in some writing time…jottings in notebooks, letters to my mom (which she thankfully saved), and incidents related in my newspaper columns or travel articles. As I look back, I’m so glad I did find time to write something down.

Scrapbooking Journal

Along with jotting memories in a journal, you can incorporate this into a scrapbook with photos of memorable times and experiences. You also can add sketches to your journal and scrapbook pages.

One way I’m trying to keep a record of yearly memories is by building a scrapbook around the annual Christmas letters I write to friends and family. Some people add photos to these letters (so much easier in these days of digital cameras and computers).

This Christmas letter gives a recap of the year gone by and you can add to it as you have time. I also like to keep the letters and photos sent to me by family members and include them in the scrapbook.

Adding Recipes

You may want to incorporate recipes of favorite foods into your journal. I often collect recipes as I travel.

NAVAJO TACOS – On a business trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we were introduced to this dish. Instead of using traditional tacos, friends prepared “fry bread,” then added taco ingredients of ground beef and beans, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, diced onions and green pepper, and shredded cheese.

Mix together 2 cups flour, ½ cup instant dry milk, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon baking powder. Cut in 2 tablespoons shortening until coarse crumbs appear. Then stir in ¼ cup water and mix until the dough forms a ball.

Put the dough on a floured board and knead 2 to 3 minutes. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each portion into a ball and pat out until it’s about 6-inches round. Cover with plastic as you wait to fry.

Heat salad oil to 375 degrees F. in a pan at least 9-inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. Oil should be about ¾ inch deep. Cook each round of dough in this, turning once, until puffy and browned. Place cooked dough on paper towel lined cookie sheets and keep warm in 200 degree F. oven until ready to serve. (You can make these ahead, chill in air tight package, then heat on baking sheet at 375 degrees F. about 5 minutes.)

©2005 Mary Emma Allen

Friday, April 03, 2009

Help for Your Cooking Blog Just a Book Away

Do you want to write a cooking blog? However, you feel you need more guidance in doing this. Or you may want to enhance the blog you already have.

Check out Susan Gunelius's Google Blogger for Dummies. Here you'll find helpful instructions for setting up your Blogger blog, as well for enhancing blogs you already have. Learn about monetizing your blogs, too.

Read more about Google Blogger for Dummies in my review at Blisstree.

Since blogging is the wave of the present and future, you'll join in the excitement by establishing a blog of your own...with Susan's assistance.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Growing Your Victory Garden

I recently read that the term "victory" garden (used during World War II) is so outdated. Instead, we need to refer to our gardens this year as "recession" gardens as we try to recession proof our food budgets by growing foods.

I still like to use the term "victory." We are going to be victorious. Our gardens will help our budgets and aid us on the way to victory.

If we continue to program our minds with "recession, recession, recession," we have no chance of getting out of the present economic downturn. So by continually referring to our gardens as "recession" ones, we'll only dig ourselves deeper into a hole.

So grow yourself a garden to victory!