Food |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 6:13 PM

Mama’s recipe box
Mama’s recipe box

Kay and Ann at Maxon-Dixon Knitting are hosting the Grandma Mable Memorial Recipe Box Show & Tell Contest over on their blog. (Head over there for the whole story.)

The cool result of this contest will be a virtual recipe box, full of wonderful things to cook (and eat) from everyone who enters.

Now… one is supposed to post a picture of one’s recipe box. But my recipe box is just a black metal box made to hold index cards that I picked up at some long-ago-forgotten office supply place back in the mid-1970’s. Boring. So I dug a little further into my cupboard.

This is Mama’s recipe box.

Mama was an adequate, if rather uninspired, cook. Meat and potatoes, a green veggie and a yellow veggie. On Fridays the meat was fish, on Sundays roast beef. Mama had a cupboard full of herbs and spices. Each had been purchased for a single recipe that called for it, and then never used again. The family joke was that Bro and I learned to cook because… somebody had to.

So it’s no surprise that this box is not completely full of recipes. At least 1/3 of the cards are resolutely blank.

I have no idea how old Mama’s recipe box is. Inked into the inside of the lid is her maiden name. That dates it to pre-1941. The sticker on the front says Gold Medal Kitchen Tested Recipes. It’s safe to say that most were not tested in Mama’s kitchen. The card on the inside is signed by Betty Crocker.

kitchen tested recipes
kitchen tested recipes

This recipe comes from my Godmother, a wonderful woman who was an extremely good cook and passed several recipes along to both Mama and I. It’s a great way to use up all that extra zucchini in the summer, as even the extra-large ones will be OK.

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated zucchini

Mix all ingredients together.
Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.
Bake at 350-F for one hour.

Grandma’s recipes
Grandma’s recipes

While we’re showing old things from family history, this binder belonged to Grandma (Mama’s mom).

It’s a leather three-ring binder, but very few pages are actually on the binder rings. For the most part, the individual pages and recipes and clippings are just stuck willy-nilly in with no regard for type of recipe. I have no idea how she found anything in it. The gold elastic Christmas present cord is used to hold the whole thing together.

I pulled a couple of items out randomly. The ubiquitous Betty Crocker makes another appearance with a Chocolate Chiffon Cake Recipe and my Great Aunt Bess’ (Grandma’s sister) recipe for pickle relish has been hand written on a brittle and yellowing piece of note paper from Garrett Truck Lines (no idea why).

One of my favorite items from Grandma’s binder is a little booklet entitled Make It Right With Lard, published by the National Livestock and Meat Board. The picture on the front has the word Lard spelled via holes cut in a pie crust. It contains some nifty tips for cooking with the perfect fat, and recipes for everything from biscuits to ginger snaps. Maybe it’s just me, but I cannot imagine ginger snaps made with lard.

I have no idea how old the binder is. The leather is dry and cracking in places. Many of the pages are starting to crumble. Grandma passed in 1980 at the age of 97. She was a wonderful cook and collected recipes her whole life. The binder could have been acquired at any time.

Isn’t it funny how things just skip generations? Grandma and all of my Great Aunts cooked and baked and sewed and knitted and crocheted and quilted and tatted and embroidered. But neither Mama nor her sister, my aunt G., were cooks. Neither could sew beyond the basics. Neither was into any sort of handcrafting. They had many other wonderful qualities and talents. But not those.

Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 5:06 PM

Ah… knitting. It is such a quandary, gentle reader. Do I continue knitting away on Wings Of A Raven Dream? Do I get my rear in gear and finish Lenore? Do I throw my long-standing sock-monogamy to the wind and cast on the new Blue Moon Rockin’ Sock Club pattern (it is very, very cool!) even though Lenore is still on the needles? Do I knit that hat I’ve been meaning to knit for over a year that is becoming more and more clear in my alleged brain, and thus get one more non-sock FO before the end of the year? Do I finish one of the UFOs? Do I throw caution to the wind and cast on something like a sweater?

A riddle inside a mystery wrapped in an enigma, I tell you. Stay tuned.

Since I can’t decide what to knit, I thought this iPod meme from Knitting In The Shadows was fun. According to the rules, if you are reading this you must consider yourself tagged. You will now be treated to a glimpse into the actual well of lameness that is my music library.

The iPod Meme

If your life were a soundtrack, what would the music be?

Here’s how it works:
1. open your music library (iTunes, winamp, media player, iPod)
2. put it on shuffle
3. press play
4. for every section, type the song that’s playing
5. next section — press the next button
6. don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool

Opening Credits:

My Uncle Used To Love Me But She Died – Roger Miller (I’m sure this has deep meaning… somewhere)

waking up:

Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen

first day at school:

Changes In LatitudesJimmy Buffett (I was not fond of school)

falling in love:

Uptown Girl – The Wind In The Willows (obscure music trivia – Debbie Harry before she was Blond / not the same as the Billy Joel song)

breaking up:

Who Do You Think You Are – Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods (and every day sees another scar)


Jim Dandy To The RescueBlack Oak Arkansas (long, long ago I gave some cigarettes to and bought a cup of coffee for Jim “Dandy” Mangrum, BOA’s lead singer. I imagine he thought he was going to get lucky, but that was not to be. I was a good girl. That night. Sexy guy, though. I doubt he reads knitting blogs, but hi Jim from the Idaho Falls girl.)

life’s okay:

Another Saturday NightCat Stevens (ain’t that the truth)

mental breakdown:

Tell Me Something GoodRufus featuring Chaka Khan


Why Can’t We Be FriendsWar (road rage?)


Werewolves Of LondonWarren Zevon (I saw a werewolf drinkin’ a Pina Colada at Trader Vic’s. His hair was perfect.)

getting back together:

For Pete’s Sake – The Monkees (no comments from the peanut gallery!)


String Of PearlsJimmie’s Chicken Shack (I start to sing and cry and then it makes me laugh man)

birth of child:

Wooly BullySam The Sham And The Pharoahs

final battle:

Dixie Chicken – Little Feat (I have no idea what to make of this one.)

death scene:

Loves Me Like A RockPaul Simon

end credits:

Not Fade AwayThe Rolling Stones

Disclaimer: The links on the song titles go to MP3s where I could find them. The links on the artists go to CDs. It’s all Amazon. Buy something and I get a couple of pennies.

Food |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 6:39 PM

carrot pudding
carrot pudding

The carrot pudding turned out… OK. Here’s a picture of the finished product. I apologize for the partially-eaten pic. You can see that the hard sauce has done its melty thing and all. I had taken a couple of bites when I suddenly realized… oh, $@%#, I forgot to take a picture. So I grabbed the camera and snapped a few and then went back to eating.

It really tastes pretty good.

There are no shots of it lovingly unmolded and resting on some lovely serving dish because it was never actually unmolded.

True confessions time: When it had steamed for the requisite 4 hours, I lifted the mold from the pan and popped the lid off, only to find…

carrot soup.

My old family recipe includes a cup of apple. I used an extra-large Jonagold that was just the right size to produce the right amount of apple when grated. I grated the carrot, so I grated the apple. I missed the tiny print in Mama’s handwriting that said apple, ground. But reading that after the fact sort of brought back memories of Mama sending the apple through her meat grinder — she had an old hand grinder. I have one, too. And the grinding sort of, well… smooshed all the apple juice out of the pulp.

That may have been a good thing to do. Because grating does not have the same effect.

So I stood their in my kitchen and looked at the carrot pudding soup, and wondered what the heck to do. #1 Son was due any minute. Dinner was ready. Eeek! Finally, in desperation, I drained the excess liquid from the pudding mold, added 1 cup of flour or so to soak up what was left, and popped the pudding back in the pan to steam for another couple of hours. It tasted pretty good, but unmolding would have produced a mound of… something… not a lovely pudding.

Note to self: Next year smoosh the juice out. And the carrots could have been grated much, much smaller. Much. Just saying.

#1 Son & his scarf
#1 Son & his scarf

#1 Son loved the veggie stew and the couscous. I think he had 3 helpings. It may have been four. He liked the touch of having a little goat cheese to sprinkle over the stew. I have no goat cheese left now.

I had picked up a loaf of bring-home-and-finish-the-baking bread — an olive Pugliese. #1 Son said, This is awesome bread!. I had two slices. There was none left at the end of the meal, so I guess he did like it quite a bit.

In other words, he, being still a teenager for a few more months at least, still eats like a teenager.

So desert, even though we waited a bit after the meal, was met with some feeling of detachment. But he liked the carrot pudding.

I did not confess the carrot pudding story to #1 Son. We’ll let that be our little secret, eh?

I sent him home with 1/2 of the leftover stew and couscous and an extra loaf of bread. He wandered the house for awhile looking for anything not-nailed-down that could accompany him home.

#1 Son, wandering around kitchen and poking into cupboards:Can I have this French press?
Mom, sitting in her chair and knitting:NO
#1 Son: You never let me take anything and you’re such a packrat.
Mom: NO
#1 Son: How about this Melitta drip coffee pot?
Mom: [sigh] OK
#1 Son: What do you use this for?
Mom: Put it back where you found it.

This picture was snapped just before he escaped with the goods left for the evening. You can see he is in a rather pensive, I suppose you have to take my picture… but I’m not going to smile mood. He would not pull the scarf out of his coat so I could get a decent shot of it, because this is the way they’re worn.

So… OK!

P.S. The snow is all gone. It was sure fun while it lasted, though!

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 2:03 PM
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Christmas snow!
Christmas snow!

The pudding is steaming in the oven. The stew is simmering on the stove. #1 Son will be here soon. And it is snowing.

Snowing! On Christmas! Look! There’s proof!

Where I grew up, it was a strange Christmas that didn’t have snow falling — on the actual day, you know. There was usually already a fair bit on the ground.

Here in Portland… not so much. It’s pretty much the opposite. If we’re lucky the sun shines. If not, it rains. But snow? This is a new and wondrous thing!

May your days be merry and bright.

And may all your Chriskwanzakahfestivusolstices be white.

Food |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 6:36 PM


[ed. 12/25/2007 8:21 am] Thanks to everyone who left a suggestion for how to cook the carrot pudding. Yesterday I tried just one more gourmet kitchen shop, and they had pudding molds! Stay tuned. Film, as they say, at 11 (or so).

Since I became single again, Christmas traditions at Chez PI have been rather spotty. For the first several years, #1 Son spent Christmas with the sperm donor. #1 Son and I would have our Christmas on the day before. We did the tree and decorations and presents and such, but I didn’t usually cook what would be considered a traditional Christmas dinner, although I did cook a prime rib for New Year’s (I have an awesome butcher whose specially seasoned prime rib is simply amazing).

On Christmas – the actual day – my personal tradition was to clean my oven and go to a movie. Lest you feel sorry for me, I actually enjoyed every minute and looked forward to it as a break from the normal holiday madness.

Then came a year when #1 Son would be with me for Christmas from now on. Anything you’d like to do? I asked him. He suggested travel. I asked where. He suggested Las Vegas. And thus a new holiday tradition was born. We spent several Christmases in Vegas, had a wonderful time every year, and it was great.

This year there is no travel. #1 Son just came back from a 1-week tour of California and is leaving for 5 weeks on New Years Eve. He needs to work to earn a bit of spending money before he goes. I have time off, but don’t feel like going anyplace, what with his impending departure and all.

So I am cooking dinner, and that is a bit of a quandary.

I know what to cook for a traditional Christmas dinner. We were a Turkey at Christmas family. Or, I could pick up one of those awesome prime ribs.

But #1 Son is vegetarian.

I scratched my head and pondered for awhile over that one. I didn’t really want to fix all the trimmings and not the main dish. Eventually I settled on what I like to call a kitchen sink veggie stew, which contains all the veggies that looked good in the store the day I go shopping: Carrots, beans, corn, cabbage, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, summer squash, winter squash, tomatoes, celery, etc. It always tastes good. And, being a stew, has the added advantage of being serving-time neutral. I can start it in the morning, and no matter what time we eat it will be OK. I could serve it with a raisin/nut couscous (5 minutes) and a good crusty bread.

But I did want something traditional. In my family, carrot pudding was the traditional Christmas dessert. It’s a steamed pudding, like plum pudding or spotted dick. I have the recipe that was passed down through the women in my family for well over 100 years. There have been few changes over the years. I do use margarine rather than suet (thus making it vegetarian safe), but that’s about it. It is, as I said, cooked by putting the batter in a mold, placing the mold in a large pan with water, and steaming in the oven for 4 hours or so. Grandma and Mama both used a coffee can for the mold, which worked quite well.

The coffee I drink does not come in cans. In fact, I’m not sure if any coffee comes in cans any more.

No problem, I thought. I’ll just pop over to the gourmet kitchen shop and pick up a real pudding mold, and won’t that be traditional and oh-so-cool!

At the first gourmet kitchen shop, I wandered around for awhile and didn’t find the pudding molds, so I stepped up to the counter.

Nice, teenage Christmas kitchen shop worker: May I help you find something?

Me: I hope so. I’m looking for a pudding mold.

NtCksw: Like a jello mold?

Me: No. A mold for steamed puddings. Do you know what that is?

NtCksw: I’m sure I’ve had one at some time. Could you just remind me?

Me: It’s a cake-type pudding that’s cooked by steaming in the oven in a mold. My mother used coffee cans.

NtCksw: We have asparagus steamers. Would that work?

Me: Thanks anyway.

At the second gourmet kitchen shop, I wandered around for awhile until a nice older woman who worked there asked if she could help me.

Me: I hope so. I’m looking for a pudding mold.

NOksw: I haven’t seen one of those for ages.

Me: Do you have anything that might work? My mother used coffee cans.

NOksw: We have asparagus steamers. Would that work?

At the third gourmet kitchen shop, I wandered around for awhile until a nice man who worked there asked if he could help me.

Me (having already cased the store pretty thoroughly): I doubt it, but thanks anyway.

After that, I did what I probably should have done in the first place. I came home and let my fingers do the virtual walking through the internet. I found a local gourmet kitchen shop whose online site showed a pudding mold. They weren’t sure if they had pudding molds actually in stock or not, but promised to look and call me back. They have not called.

So what do I do now? If I can’t find a pudding mold on Christmas Eve, how am I going to cook the darn thing? Do you think, gentle reader, that if I pour it into loaf pans for the steaming, it will cook correctly?

Knitting by Judy @ 2:59 PM


Inspired by the end-of-the-year spate of what’s coming in the next 20 years articles in tech magazines and such, I started musing on the future of knitting.

Just think how far our gentle art has come in the last 20 years. When I first started knitting (OK, that was way more than 20 years ago), my choices in knitting needles were metal straights, metal circulars with stiff rubber cables and metal DPNs. My choices of yarn (I did live in a small town) were scratchy, stiff wool or Red Heart. Now I can choose from needles (all types) made of everything from lovely, exotic (but sustainable) hardwoods to bamboo to chrome-plated nickel to brass. Cables are soft and have no memory. Yarn… the softest wool imaginable, silk, bamboo, angora, mohair, yak, camel, cotton, kelp, chitin… who’da thunk it way back when?

And in 20 years? A day of knitting might go like this…

I stop by Tangle on a yarn mission. Alice and Kaye, I say, I’m really interested in trying that new yarn made from that stuff the Japanese are mining on the moon. Do you have that yet?

Oh, the Rowan Moon Mist, Kaye says. That stuff is so yummy!

Alice says, We don’t have it yet. But I can order it for you. What color are you looking for?

Alice pops up a color chart on the display that covers the wall above the counter. The display has been calibrated to be absolutely true to color. I pick out a soft green, confident that there will be no color surprises when it arrives. I touch the green sample and say, I’d like this colorway.

Alice selects the pre-wound option and touches the order button and I pass over my credit card.

I’ll pick it up. I have to go back to the back anyway. Kaye offers.

I sit down to see what my fellow knit-buds are working on. C, as always, is whipping out a gorgeous fair-isle sweater. It’s for my first great grandchild she explains.

Curious George is working on her Advent calendar. My kids never noticed that I used the same mitten over and over. But I think the grandkids might.

M is trying to decide what to knit for her daughter.

B is crafting a few of her cute little fruit and veggie hats.

Nurse Knitter and E are both working on socks. I’m going to really get these done! E exclaims.

In other words, not much has changed here over the intervening years.

Kaye returns from fetching my order from the back room, where Rowan has delivered it to the transporter module, already wound in center-pull balls as Alice specified.

I pull my Knit Picks PrimoTech Symphony needle set from my knitting bag. The green Moon Mist is slated for a scarf for #1 Son. Being vegetarian, he really appreciates the new non-organic fibers. I dial my intended gauge into the PrimoTech calculator, and it selects needle tips for me. As I knit, sensors in the Symphony needles will constantly check my gauge and subtly shift in size to make sure my gauge stays consistent with the requirements. The more I knit with my set, the more consistent it will keep my knitting as it learns my style.

And of course the tiny little jet engines in the cable joins really keep those needles flying!

All right… maybe that last was a little over the top.

What do you see coming in the next 20 years?

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