Sunday, January 30, 2011

What is "Oleo"?

The recipe in my last post refers to the ingredient "oleo".  Grams used this term frequently.  I came to learn that she meant margarine as opposed to butter, but it made me giggle even then as no one else I knew used it.  I decided to use the trusty Internet to learn more about this baking terminology.  Here is what I found:
  • From Wikipedia - Oleo is a term used for oils. It is commonly used to refer a variety of things including: margarine...
  • From The Free Dictionary by Farlex -  a spread made chiefly from vegetable oils and used as a substitute for butter; margarine

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pecan Tassies

Another holiday baking favorite from my family - Pecan Tassies.  My Mom made these every year (along with about 10 other kinds of cookies!) and I did not realize that the recipe originated with Gram.  (I should add a disclaimer here that just because these recipes are handwritten in no way guarantees they are original ideas.)  The recipe does not yield a large number of cookies so you may choose to double the recipe.  I would suggest only doubling the dough because there should be plenty of filling for 2x the number of cups (don't ask me why that's just how it works out).

1 stick oleo (margarine) or butter
3 oz. package cream cheese
1 c. flour
Cream ingredients together and make it 24 balls. Press into tassie cups (mini-muffin tin). Cut one pecan into the dough of the bottom of each cup.
For the filling:
2 eggs unbeaten
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
Whisk it all together until well mixed. Fill each cup of dough wit the mixture and place a pecan on top. Bake for 25-30 min. at 350.

Note: My Mom used to use chopped pecans. She whisked them right into the mixture and eliminated the need to add the pecans to the bottom of the cups or the top of the cups. This also seems to allow for more of the mixture to fit into the cups.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Baking with Grace: Old Photos

OK, so these aren't literally old photos of my grandmother, Grace Dry, baking, but they are old photos of "Grams" so you can see what she looked like.

There's my sister, Amy, enjoying cake with Grandma looking on.  Check out the sweet 70's scene - the fruity wallpaper and dark paneling that offset my Mom's round oak table and chairs - painted red!   (In later years, my Mom had that table refinished and brought back to its original wood grain color.  We used it as a dining room and kitchen table until I was well into college and beyond.)  By the way, the cabinets in my Mom's kitchen were red, too!  Also notice the coffee mugs.  I had forgotten about those until now.  They have the alphabet written on them in some old style font.  I'll have to Google those bad boys to see if they still exist.

Here's Grandma again - this time, opening a Christmas gift (obviously) while my first cousin, Judd, and I look on.  Amy and I are wearing matching long, red dresses.  I am curious about the apparent obsession of mothers to dress their daughters alike even when they are not twins.  I suppose it makes for easier shopping, but what about asserting our individuality.  Clearly we had no say in what we wore particularly when it came to special events.  What about boys - do mothers dress them alike? Hmmm.  In any case, observe the floral couch, TV tray, burning cigarette and standard holiday tray of mixed nuts.  So cool.

Pistachio Cake: 8 Guests or 2 Pigs!

I had forgotten about this easy and delicious dessert recipe until I made it during the holidays. The taste of it brought back memories of eating it as a child.  I'm pretty sure I gorged myself on this one until I felt sick.  You only have to bake the crust.  The rest involves layering the ingredients over a cooled crust.

1 stk Betty Crocker pie crust mix*
1 stk margarine (melted)
1 c. flour
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts
mix and spread on bottom of 9x13 pan. bake at 350 for 20 min.
1 8oz. cream cheese (softened)
1 c. confectionary sugar
1 c. cool whip
Beat together and spread over cooled crust.
Beat 2 boxes instant pistachio flavored pudding mix with 3 c. milk. spread on top of cheese filling. top with remaining cool whip. garnish with walnuts or pistachios.

*One point of difficulty (perhaps you can help?) is the very first line: "1 stk (stick?) Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix. It appears to say "stick".  Since I had no idea what this meant I bought the Betty Crocker pie crust mix and used half the bag.  The problem is the volume of crust for the pistachio cake was not enough to accomodate a 9 x13 pan.  I used an 8x8 pan, the crust tasted fine as did the resulting pistachio cake.  Granted, the layers were a bit thicker than they should be, but it still tasted excellent.  I would suggest using a full bag of the pie crust mix and see if it then fits into a 9x13 pan.

My strange post title is in reference to my grandmother's estimate (bottom right corner of recipe) of the number of people this dessert will feed - 8 guests or 2 pigs.  I can hear her laughing now! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pineapple Sour Cream Pie: Very, Very Good!

Notice in the upper right corner my grandmother writes, "very very good".  Having actually tested this one during the holidays, I couldn't agree more so I figured this was the recipe to get us started.   For the baked pie shell I used Betty Crocker's pie crust mix, using half the package per the directions to create a single crust pie.  Because I didn't have an 8" pie plate (had only 9") I should have used the entire package to ensure I had enough dough for a complete and hearty crust.  Regardless, the recipe worked and I am curious to know if you find it as delicious as I did.  I believe that the filling could be used as a stand alone for dipping fruit, pound cake, etc.  The recipe is typed below for easy reference.                                

1 pkg (5 1/2 oz.) Jello pudding & pie filling - vanilla instant
1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple with juice
2 c. sour cream
1 T. sugar
1 baked 8" pie shell

Mix all ingredients together in a narrow bottom bowl, beat slowly with electric beater 1 minute.  Pour into baked pie shell.  Chill 4 hours.  Overnight is best.  Garnish with prepared whipped topping, pineapple or cherries.

Credit for this one goes to my Grandmother's good friend, Arline Schultz (1987)


I have in my possession a collection of mostly faded, handwritten in classic Palmer style cursive, baking recipes from my paternal grandmother, Grace Dry - God rest her soul.  For some time I have been well intentioned to create a cookbook.  However, realizing that recipes need to be tested - especially given the difficulty in reading some of Gram's quick handwriting coupled with the fact that some directions are missing such as which size pan to use or baking time - I was deterred.  It occurred to me that perhaps a community of fellow cookie and cake lovers could help in this regard and provide feedback on the recipes and their outcomes.  Is anyone out there game?

I should mention that in creating a cookbook it would not be for profit.  I would distribute to family and friends to be sure, but I would like to see it sold in a fundraising capacity with proceeds going to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF).  My sister, Amy, has a mitochondrial disease thus my desire to raise money for research in this area.

My goal will be to post a recipe a week...stay tuned!