Posted on April 26, 2016
Onto another one of Gram’s cook books. This time, it was one she happened to have a few of her own recipes in. I’m fairly certain that it somehow was connected to The Shriners. Both my grandfather (an actual Shriner, who also dressed up as a clown for many of their parades) and grams were involved in the Shrine. I mean, she still has ticket stubs to the ‘ladies luncheon’ she attended as a book marker… leave it to grams to keep something from 1986 haha.
Delving through the treasure trove of cookbooks grandma left me is pretty fun. It’s like a treasure hunt every weekend… looking for a new recipe that’s sucks me in. This one is no exception.
Now, for those that know me, they know I’m a HUGE cook. I’m always cooking and I’ve tried to recreate, remake, and frankly…. all around experiment with just about any food I come across. This recipe is a first for me. Seriously…. something I have never eaten or seen a recipe for. This is like a combo of a strata… cheese bread… and appetizer. It’s definitely unique and delicious. The recipe is called Spinach Cheese Squares and it’s from Mrs. John Carter.
Now just to be honest, I messed up and mistakingly only got one package of spinach to make this. In reality, I think that it is better with the one package. But feel free to use two packages. I also snuck in some garlic and onion powder to give it a little more flavor (and garlic makes everything better… duh) and I’m telling you… this is really good. You could also totally add in some chopped onions or sautéed mushrooms if you’re feeling crazy. I think either would be a winner. In reality, I don’t even know what I’d classify this as. It could be an appetizer, but you could also serve it as a side. Heck, if you’re not too hungry, it could be the main course. So without further ado, I give you…. drum rolllll… Spinach Cheese Squares.
Spinach Cheese Squares:
First, make sure to pull out spinach to thaw. Preheat oven to 350°. In a 9×13 pan, melt butter in oven and remove. In a bowl, beat eggs, add flour, milk, salt, baking powder, and optional garlic/onion powder. Mix well. Drain spinach well. I find the easiest way to do this is with a dish cloth. Place spinach in the center, roll cloth around the spinach and squeeze until most of the liquid has been removed. Slowly add cheese and spinach, and make sure they are blending well. Pour mixture into buttered pan, spread evenly. Bake in oven at 350° for 35 minutes. Remove and cool 10 minutes to set. Cut into bite sized squares and enjoy! The hubs and I both agreed this was better warm. This also keeps in the fridge quite well and is easy to reheat. You’ll thank me later. This seems to be a good ‘veggie hiding’ recipe for kids too!
*For more info on the health benefits of spinach check out Helen’s article here!
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Posted on March 20, 2016
This is certainly a VERY old school (80+ years) family favorite that I’m about to share with you this chilly Sunday. It’s so old that the recipe is in both grams and great grams cookbook as well as a recipe card. I guess gram’s REALLY didn’t want us to forget this one lol. She certainly had it memorized.
Now if you know anything about the large Pizor-Yoder (and now Bailey clan), our family… aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings all get together every Christmas (and really as often as we can) and pretty much cook, play cards, laugh, and have an all around good time. You’ll certainly see some fun blog posts around that time (definitely including some mojito recipes… yummm). Our family ALWAYS make this custard recipe whenever we’re together. It’s actually my great-grams ‘cornstarch recipe’ and is known by just about everyone. Anyone who ever tries it wants a copy of the recipe. I even remember making this for my sister’s host family in Scotland, so it’s been shared in multiple countries too! It’s a truly amazing dessert and is comprised of fresh, simple ingredients.
In the summer, we’d go pick fresh berries off our neighbor’s bushes or get peaches at the farmer’s market and serve them over this custard. When the custard’s still hot everything kind of melds together in a truly magical way. We always had the ongoing tapioca vs. no tapioca argument in my family, as we were always 50/50 split on the matter. Grams and mom also used this as a pie base or custard base, which is fairly easy to do. Here’s some tricks of the Pizor-Yoder custard trade:
It’s seriously one of the best base recipes that can also beautifully stand on it’s own or be whipped up into any manner of desserts. I have so many memories of gram’s stirring this on the stovetop for all the grandkids. This has always been a staple in our households, and hopefully it can become one in yours now too!
**Also, as a side note, the hubs and I are taking a little hiatus the next two weekends. I’ll be doing a little post on New Orleans next weekend but then we’ll be out of the country so a fun island post to follow soon! However, gram’s recipes will be postponed for our little break! Check back soon!
Old Fashioned Cornstarch Custard:
Now, we always double this recipe (cause the family can never get enough of this) but this will make roughly 3 cups of custard by itself so plan accordingly!
Mix together cornstarch and sugar until combined well. Slowly add milk and mix well to ensure no clumping (with cornstarch). Separate eggs, add yolks and salt. Stir everything until combined well and place on stove at medium high heat. Continuously stir mixture to avoid scorching until mixture thickens. Once it thickens, add butter and vanilla. Remove from heat and still until well combined. My family can never wait for this to cool and pretty much eat it as soon as it doesn’t burn our mouths but feel free to cool and serve cold as well or make a pie! Enjoy!
Funny moment is always when Gizmo comes in and looks at us making food sitting on the floor. I’m pretty sure he thinks we’re nuts. Captured a little moment of that today.
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Posted on March 6, 2016
Man… I have had a craving for something like this recipe for a long time. Plus, I picked up these AWESOME bowls at Costco this weekend and I couldn’t wait to get them home to photograph. It looks like I had someone make them for me. But between you and I, this will be our little secret as to where they were purchased from. I’m thinking an ice cream recipe will have to be in the making for next week. And yes, solely because of these dishes. Don’t judge. I’ve photographed things before based around an entire found object. I have this lovely old used “made in Vermont stamped” cutting board I found at Roots Farmer’s Market. It has all these wonderful knife marks and wear and tear. Props are a very important part of the business and finding little beauties like these just make my day 🙂
As many of you know, gram’s was literally involved in EVERYTHING. From volunteer work, to bakeoffs, to fundraisers, she was there. Even from a young age, this was true. A few of the books that I inherited from her were various cookbooks that she had worked with, her mother worked with, they were in, or they’d helped to get published. This was one from her mother’s young days growing up in Vandergrift, PA. Her church put together this fantastic cookbook. It’s from 1923 and the front has a little handwritten “Barclay” in it (my gram’s maiden name). Now the recipe I’m doing today isn’t gram’s or my great gram’s (it comes from Mrs. W. W. Poorman, thank you!), howwwever, it was from a book that the family helped get published to raise money for her church, so I think it counts. Plus, this book is a treasure trove of old school recipes. There is one in it for squirrel. Seriously. I’m not lying. Freaking squirrel. And no, I’m never going to go out and butcher a squirrel for this blog, but that was a surprise.
Anyone who knows me, knows I have a soft spot for what I consider “PA Dutch Recipes,” if the last name Yoder didn’t give you a clue lol. I’m pretty sure the love for PA Dutch food runs through my veins. You wait till New Year’s, and there will definitely be pork, kielbasa, and sauerkraut recipes up on here.
There is a farmer’s stand about 3 miles from my house where Mennonite ladies lay out their fares of assorted homemade pies, breads, and jams. Lemon sponge pie is always among their wares. It’s where I was first introduced to this sweet treat and man, I LOVE lemon sponge pie. With the whipped peaks of egg whites and lemon zest, it’s like springy freshness all in one delicious pastry. Whenever I go pick up some veggies from our farmer’s stand, I always save a little room for one of those sponge pies. When I came across not one, BUT TWO lemon sponge pie recipes, I was ecstatic! Now these recipes do take a bit to figure out, as there aren’t a ton of instructions AND there is a lot of old terminology that I have to google just to know how to prepare them exactly. Here’s a little old school baking knowledge I’m about to throw down.
This recipe calls for ‘sweet milk.’ Any guesses? This is what used to be the common name for ‘whole milk’ or ‘regular milk’ to distinguish it from buttermilk. For baking, all it says is to ‘bake in a slow oven.’ This references the cooking temperature. Cooking in a ‘slow oven’ is anything in the range of 150–160°C (300–325°F). Who knew? Now alas, this didn’t actually have a cooking time, so it took a lot of toothpicks to figure out just exactly how long to bake this bad boy.
Also, props to my husband who is starting to get into this. He’s learning how to cook and getting baked goods and pies out of it lol. Talk about a win freaking win. Today’s lesson was whipping egg whites to stiff peaks. His hand modeling is getting better too! Now he’s learning how to bake and in the process, getting more comfortable in the kitchen. It always makes me happy when I can help someone enjoy baking. Without further ado, I give you this weeks recipe. One of my favorites, Lemon Sponge Pie.
Lemon Sponge Pie
Preheat oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and butter. Add in flour, milk and yolks. Mix well. Zest and juice lemon, add to mixture. Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Slowly fold egg whites into mixture. Once smooth, pour carefully into pie crust. Place in oven for a 1/2 hour at 325°F. After 1/2 hour turn oven down to 300°F and cook for 1.5-2 hours (or until top has browned and toothpick comes out cleanly). Now this is important, there shouldn’t be a lot of ‘jiggle’ left with the pie. A little is okay but the first time I attempted to take this pie out of the oven the top almost rolled right off. Be careful and don’t take it out before it’s ready. This is definitely a slow cooker and oven times may vary based on pie dish used and how well oven cooks. Let cool completely. Cut and serve. Best kept in fridge. Enjoy! Until next week. – Alysha
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