I interrupt the usual menu items

With a link to this nifty poem: A Visit from Aunt Fatty

A sample:

Imagine a pill that, for just three percent,
Does all of the things that the pill-makers meant.
Everyone else? They’ve just wasted their money.
But now let’s pretend the pill also tastes funny,
Gives you bad breath, makes you cranky and tired,
And, oh yes, three hours a day are required
To swallow it. Tell me, do you think you’d try it?
‘Cause, honey, that’s just what you get with a diet.

Words of wisdom, folks.


Hot Chocolate Mix

This seems to be a way of making a creamier version of hot chocolate without having milk on hand. All the NC folks who clean the grocery stores out of milk at the slightest hint of snow could look into it. I’m just sayin’.

8 qt. package dry milk
1 lb Quick
6 oz Cremora (A 70’s powdered creamer)
3/4 cup powdered sugar

To do:
There’s nothing on the recipe card for this. I imagine that you add a tablespoon or so to a mug of hot water

Champagne Wedding Punch

This card had the following note: For Valli’s wedding
Was this for my sister’s wedding? My parents’? I have no idea. Mom didn’t drink and frowned upon alcoholic beverages in general, but clearly she made an exception for weddings.

I have no idea how this tastes.

2 bottles champagne
1 bottle Rhine wine
6 oz can lemonade concentrate
6 cups chilled, unsweetened pineapple juice
1 small bottle maraschino cherries
orange slices for garnish

To do:
Mix lemonade, pineapple juice, Rhine wine. Just before serving add cherries, orange slices, and champagne.

Coffee for 60

This seems to be a recipe for making coffee without a coffee maker—a whole lot of coffee. Given the difference between my coffee and Mom’s I’d probably up the amount of coffee below by 50% or so. This wasn’t attributed to anyone on the card. Mom liked coffee and entertaining. Grandpa Venner sold coffee at one point in his varying career. (Want a sure income, even during a depression? Sell coffee to a Finnish immigrant community.) So I’ll just go with “family recipe” for this one.

1 lb. coffee (ground)
2.5 gal water
Gauze bag

To do:
Heat water to boiling. Put coffee in gauze bag. Put bag in coffee and reduce heat to simmer. Remove bag after 10-12 minutes. Keep hot, but don’t boil.

The Chili of Infinite Variety

This is a recipe that Mom made regularly. It’s a great way to use up bits and dabs of things. It freezes well and is great for lunch if your office has a fridge and a microwave.

1 quart tomatoes [If you get them from the store, make sure you don’t get ones with extra spices unless that’s something you want. I think basil is the one thing this recipe doesn’t need, myself.]
1 lb ground beef
1 8–10 oz can Bush’s chili hot beans. Get the level of heat that suits you—they have 3 or so.
1 small onion, yellow or white, chopped
1/4 tsp cumin
chili powder to taste
2 TBS olive oil

To do:
Heat oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add onion and stir until translucent. Add ground beef. Brown the beef, stirring occasionally. Pour off the extra fat, if you’re so inclined. Add the spices, the beans and the tomatoes. Stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1.5–2 hours.

The infinite variety bit:
Vegetarians can substitute one 8 oz can of black beans or a burger substitute of some kind. Morningstar Farms used to make a good faux ground beef. If you have left over beef from tacos or burritos you can use it (adjust spices accordingly). You can add a few splashes of red wine along with the spices. You can use ground turkey, but then I’d definitely add some red wine. If you like garlic it goes well in this. If you have some left over cooked carrots you can chop them fine and add them. Likewise, corn. Got a quarter of a jar of salsa you want to clear out of the fridge? Toss it on in. You can top with sour cream, scallions, spiced croutons, or shredded cheese. You can put this on hot dogs (although I’d cook it down a bit, and stir it well to break down the larger bits of tomato). I guess if you’re from Cincinnati you can put this on spaghetti. [I’ve never tried this, but my Ohio friends swear by the Cincinnati three-way.] According to Mom, Grandma Maisie used to put this on rice, which means that the recipe—or some permutation thereof—was probably her’s.

Cranberry Betties

Mom started making these when I was around 12. They’ve been a family staple ever since.

3 cups sifted flour [Note: I use self-rising flour, leave out the baking soda and cut the salt down to a scant teaspoon.]
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts (usually pecans)
5 cups uncooked quick rolled oats
3 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
2 cups shortening, melted [Note: I use melted butter. The bars tend to be nicely chewy regardless, and I like the flavor. Plus I’m way more likely to have butter on hand than shortening.]
2 16 oz cans cranberry sauce, with whole berries [You could spend the time making a gourmet sauce at home if you like. But as one of the nice things about this recipe is a 10 minute prep. time, that seems like overkill.]

Equipment: 1 good size baking pan (I use the one that I usually use for lasagna, but I’ve never measured it), greased.

To do:
Pre-heat oven to 350. Mix all the dry ingredients. Add the melted shortening and stir. Press half the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Spread the cranberry sauce on top of the mixture. Sprinkle the remaining mixture on top of the sauce and press lightly. Bake for 60 minutes, checking after 45 or so for doneness. (Mom’s recipe says 25-35 minutes, but that’s never worked for me. Maybe it’s the butter? Edit: if you use a longer, shallower pan such as a cookie sheet, 25-35 min is about right.) Cool, cut into pieces (I usually go for 1″X 2″), serve. This keeps in a sealed container for several days.

French Onion Soup

This is something I came up with in my vegetarian days.

2-3 large sweet onions (Vidalia are good)
1 stick butter
2 cups red wine (I like Australian shirazes, myself)
4 cups of veggie broth or beef broth for the non-vegetarians (I use store bought, either way)
1 small loaf sourdough bread, sliced thickly
a few shakes of thyme
salt and pepper to taste
a cup or three of shredded mozzarella cheese

1 large soup pot with lid
As many small ceramic dishes as you have diners. The dishes need to be able to go under the broiler.

To do:
Slice the onion into fine strips. I’m a big fan of the food processor for this step. Melt half the butter in the soup pan and heat until bubbling. Add the onion (beware of splatters). Stir, cover, and cook until there’s a bunch of lovely brown (but not burned) stuff on the bottom of the pot. It takes practice to time this just right, but stirring a little too much won’t hurt anything. Deglaze with the wine, scraping the brown stuff up into the resultant soup. Add the broth. Add the thyme and any salt and pepper you like. (Note: the broth will add salt, as will the butter, so don’t go crazy here. Remember, it’ll cook down and condense the flavors.) Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for an hour or three. Toast slices of bread (one per diner) and butter them, adding more thyme if you like. Ladle soup into the ceramic containers, leaving an inch or so at the top. Top with the toast and cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese goes all brown and bubbly. Let cool enough for safety and eat.

Strawberry Cheese Ring

By Brenda White [I do remember Mrs. White. She was one of Mom’s friends from Alpena, MI. Nice lady. However, I don’t remember Mom ever making the recipe, and given the combo of garlic salt and strawberry preserves, I’m ok with that. Actually, if you substituted guacamole for the strawberries, it might be pretty good. Hmmmm. Anyone want to try that and get back to me?]

2 8-ounce packages sharp cheddar cheese
1 small onion, peeled and cut in half
1 cup pecans
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Dash of red pepper
strawberry preserves

To do:
Position shredding disc in food processor. Shred cheese. Shred onion (with cheese). Set aside.
Put knife blade in food processor. Chop pecans. Add mayo and seasonings and pulse a few times to blend. Stir mayo mixture into cheese and onion, mixing well. Shape into a ring on a serving platter. Chill several hours. Fill center of ring with strawberry preserves. Serve with crackers. Makes 3 & 1/4 cups.

Pink Shrimp Dip

I don’t remember Mom ever making this one. It looks pretty good, in a Midwestern, cream-cheese = par-TAY kind of way.

9 oz or 2 cans finely cut/chopped shrimp [And the shrimp should probably be cooked, given the prep. below.]
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup salad dressing
3 TBS Chili sauce
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp onion juice

To do:
Blend cheese with salad dressing and seasonings. Mix in shrimp. Chill. Makes 2 cups. Note: may be done in a blender or with a mixer. Serve with ruffled chips or crackers.

Baked Chipped Beef

by Donna Gillard [I don’t know who this is.]
Note: I have no memory of Mom ever making this. Given that it’s chipped beef and green peppers, I can only say, “Thanks, Mom!”

16 oz cream cheese, softened
5 oz chipped beef, cut
4 TBS chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped pecans
4 TBS mild [Mild what? No idea.]
4 TBS minced onion
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup sour cream

Oven: 300 F

To do:
Mix together and bake 20-30 minutes. Serve in chafing dish with melba rounds or other crackers to dip.