I spent a lot of time over the winter searching the Internet for new recipes to try. It’s not been an easy task, because there are some mole hills (and a few mountains!) in my way. With the inflation rate that’s occurred in the past months, I’m not willing to buy a specific spice or product I don’t use just in order to make a recipe that sounds interesting. Plus, my bestie is lactose intolerant, so anything with cheese or dairy isn’t something I can share with her. Her hubby has a gluten free and low sodium diet, so anything with either of those ingredients aren’t something he should have. And her adult son, while I wouldn’t call him a picky eater, has specific foods he likes and wants and is often unwilling to try something new. Fortunately, I discovered that my neighbor next door loves to bake but simply does not cook, so I’ve been using her as a guinea pig for some things I am trying for the first time.
I’ve closed the “test kitchen” for new recipes for the time being, unless I find something that is season appropriate for spring and summer. I haven’t been able to add a bunch of new recipes to my repertoire because of the reasons cited. While the few I did try didn’t result in any failures, there were also a few that became ‘one and done’ recipes simply because the finished product wasn’t something I could see myself enjoying on a regular basis.
Well, that’s not 100% accurate. I did experience a failure, two failures if you count the fact that I tried to make the same thing twice using two different recipes and both failed. I attempted, with two different recipes, to make suet for the suet feeders in the yard of Mr. and Mrs. Elderly next door. The birds always seem to migrate first to the suet if there is some. However, neither of the recipes would stay into a solid enough block, tending to become a bit sticky as soon as they were room temperature. So, I guess I’ll have to grab a tuppence and go find the bird lady out in Mary Poppins’ land. By the way, just for trivia’s sake, a tuppence is also known as twopence or, in American money, two pennies. (You’re welcome!)
On the other hand, I found a recipe that I liked so much that, once I tweaked it a little bit, I’ve made again already (and ate it for dinner four days in a row!)! I’m going to give you my tweaked version since I consider it to be better.
Potato and Corn Chowder
8 ounces bacon, fried and chopped or crumbled
3 cups chicken stock
2 cans (14.5 oz.) creamed corn
1 can of white or yellow corn, drained
2-3 lbs. waxy yellow (or white) potatoes, cut into about 1 inch pieces
1 bunch chopped green onions or 1 tablespoon dried chives
Pepper to taste
In a large pot over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel. Discard all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pot.
Add the chicken stock, creamed corn, drained canned corn, potatoes and green onions/chives to the pot. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium low and continue to simmer until the potatoes are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Add crumbled bacon.
Continue to simmer on low until broth reaches your desired consistency.
(The recipe suggested the option of topping with sour cream and/or shredded cheese, but I like it just plain.)
And then, in a social media group I belong to, someone provided a recipe for a candy that I remember around the winter holidays in my childhood. I knew I’d likely only make it once and give most of it away, since every ingredient (except the butter) was pretty much pure sugar. I simply wanted to see if the recipe was as easy as it sounded.
2 tablespoons of butter
2 bags of mini marshmallows
2-1/2 cups of white chocolate chips
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 cups (approx. 19-20 ounces) of Dots candies (or gumdrops) cut in half
Begin melting white chocolate chips in a double boiler (or in the microwave in 30-second increments). When melted about 2/3rds of the way, add butter and marshmallows. Continue melting and stirring until everything is combined and creamy. Remove from heat source. Add vanilla and stir. Add in candies and stir to mix thoroughly. (Mixture will be quite thick.)
Spoon mixture into a parchment paper lined 9×13 pan. Smooth out as much as possible.
Chill in refrigerator over night. Remove from refrigerator, pull parchment paper and candy out of the pan, and place on cutting surface. Cut into bite-sized pieces with sharp knife. (If mixture gets too soft to cut sharply, return to fridge for 15-20 minutes to let it harden up again.)
Wrap each piece of candy into cut squares of waxed paper or candy papers to keep them from sticking together. Candies can be stored in the freezer.
Makes about 100 1×1-1/2 inch candies.
Now, this next recipe I’m going to share is one I’ll never make again, since it makes 5 quarts and must be kept frozen. I honestly thought I didn’t have the recipe anymore, since it’s been at least 20 years since I’ve had it. But when I saw the recipe card with the name of it at the top, I could feel myself genuinely smile, because it brought back some very good memories. This recipe was made by my mom (and I have no idea where she got it) but it was something she made for weekends at Moyer’s Mountain Retreat (they had a permanent camp site there) and it was a delight when it was really hot and sticky in the summer. It also went down really easily, and we learned to leave some time between servings to avoid a reaction to its ingredients.
2 tea bags steeped in 2 cups of boiling water
12 ounce can of frozen lemonade, thawed
12 ounce can of frozen orange juice, thawed
7 cups of water
3 cups of any brand of whiskey (almost a fifth so go ahead and add the whole bottle!)
Let tea bags steep in boiled water while mixing all of the other ingredients in a 5-quart plastic container (that has a lid). After 5 minutes of steeping, add steeped tea to mixture, stir again. Place lid on top and put in the freezer for 24 hours. To serve, spoon mixture into drinking vessel and, if desired, add a splash of any kind of lemon/lime soda.
Because of the alcohol, the mixture will not totally freeze, but make a ‘slush’ which is easy to spoon into your drinking vessel. Serve with a straw or a spoon so every drop can be enjoyed. And drink slowly! Not only is there a potential for a brain freeze, but the alcohol is tasteless in the mix and can put the drinker on his/her butt if imbibed too quickly! (And yes, I know this from first-hand experience!)
And I want to share with you what I had to research and learned as a result. Unless they are not available, I buy medium size eggs. I seldom cook breakfast (an occasional ‘breakfast for dinner’) and most of the recipes I make don’t include eggs, so I always end up having to hard-boil some eggs from the dozen before their expiration date. Well, recently, I had a recipe that called for one large egg. It was to bake something and I wasn’t sure how to make it work since I only had medium eggs. So here is what I learned:
- one large egg = any other sized egg will work
- two large eggs = three small, two medium, two extra-large, or two jumbo eggs
- three large eggs = four small, three medium, three extra-large, or two jumbo eggs
- four large eggs = five small, five medium, four extra-large, or three jumbo eggs
- five large eggs = seven small, six medium, five extra-large, or five jumbo eggs
What is interesting to me is that egg “size” is not determined by visual appearance of the egg but by the total weight of a dozen eggs. Think about that for a moment. In a package of a dozen eggs, the given size is determined by the weight of all 12 eggs equaling a certain total. Here’s how that breaks down:
- Jumbo: 30 oz. (about 2.5 oz. per egg)
- Extra-large: 27 oz. (about 2.25 oz. per egg)
- Large: 24 oz. (about 2 oz. per egg)
- Medium: 21 oz. (about 1.75 oz. per egg)
- Small: 18 oz. (about 1.5 oz. per egg)
So, if you really want to ensure that you’re using the correct amount of egg for a finicky recipe, like a custard, the only way to do so is to get a scale so that you can weigh each egg. For example, if the recipe calls for 3 large eggs, you need to weigh your eggs to equal 6 ounces. (I wonder how often one can get exactly 6 oz. worth of eggs?)
I don’t know what effect all of that has on the eggs, but it sure scrambles my brain!!! And at the current price of eggs, none of us wants to waste a single drop of them!
My final few sentences relate to French fries and salt. I recently saw a video from a man who claimed to have been a manager of a McDonald’s franchise for 23 years (Yes, I think that’s incredible, too!). Now that he has retired, he makes an occasional short video about tips and tricks he learned from the franchise over the years. McDonald’s, whom most of us will agree have the best French fries of the fast-food establishment, uses popcorn salt to season the fries when they are dumped into the hold basket fresh from the fryer! Popcorn salt is much more finely ground and sticks better than regular table salt. Who knew? Now I’m sure there are places that sell popcorn salt (my store didn’t have it with the spices or with the popcorn items) but popcorn salt is regular salt simply ground into an almost dust consistency and can be created using a food processor if you have one. And now you know!