Archive for the ‘cooking’ tag
Grandma always made the best Christmas cookies. Almond cookies and brazil nut cookies, cut out into different shapes and sprinkled with colored sugar.
She hasn’t made those cookies in years, and I missed them.
Then it occurred to me – that I had the recipes (actually, it is great-grandma’s recipe) for those cookies, and if I wanted to have them again so badly, then I could just go ahead and make them myself.
I even had some of her old (very old) cookie cutters that I could use.
Honestly, the hardest part about making the cookies was the ingredients. It was easy enough to find the blanched almonds, but it was tricky finding the brazil nuts. Especially since the most common way of getting brazil nuts around here is in the shell, as part of a mixed nuts arrangement. And I wanted just brazil nuts, and I wanted them shelled. (Since I really didn’t want to spend a lot of time with a nutcracker in order to make these cookies.) I ended up having to go to a health food store for them.
Then of course I had to grind the nuts up into a fine (well, as fine as I could make it) powder to mix in with the flour and the rest of the ingredients… but once that was all done, the rest of it went pretty smoothly.
And the cookies turned out great. They were just as delicious as I remembered.
The best cake ever is the Sunshine Cake that my Grandma made for just about every special occasion. (It is actually great-grandma’s recipe.)
One of the best things that Grandma ever did was to put together three little booklets of all of the favorite family recipes for all of the grandchildren. I make those recipes all of the time.
Yesterday I made (on request) the Sunshine Cake to take as my contribution to a Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws.
Without further ado, the recipe:
- 10, 11, or 12 (I use 14) eggs (In great-grandma’s day, no one worried about cholesterol)
- 1 tsp cream or tarter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1.5 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla flavoring
- 1 cup cake flour
Preheat the oven to 350.
The prep work on this cake takes the most time. Separate all of the eggs, putting the whites and yolks into separate bowls. Make sure that the whites are in a very large, high sided mixing bowl so they don’t splatter all over the place when you beat them. Sift 1 cup of sugar twice. Sift the cake flour and 1/2 cup of the sugar 3 times. Beat the egg yolks until thick and creamy.
Wait until the oven is completely pre-heated before starting the beat the whites… once you start that, everything goes very quickly.
Beat the egg whites until frothy. Beat in the cream of tarter and salt. Contimue to beat the egg whites until they are glossy and fine grained and will stand up in a sharp point when you pull out the beater. (With an electric mixer, this doesn’t take very long. I can’t imagine how long it must have taken to beat it to that point by hand. I asked Grandma about it once, and her reply was “that’s what children are for”. My Dad can remember endlessly beating the eggs for this cake when he was little.) Gradually beat in the cup of sugar that you sifted twice, along with the vanilla. Gently fold in the egg yolks. (Gently! Don’t mix! You want to preserve all of that air that you just whipped into those whites!) Gently fold in the flour and sugar mixture.
Pour into a two-piece un-greased ring pan. (It needs to be un-greased so that the batter can stick to the sides and not fall, but this makes it really difficult to get out of the pan afterwards.)
Bake for an hour. Resist the urge to open the oven to peek during that time, no matter how good it smells (and it smells good!) or the cake might fall.
Invert the pan to cool. I usually slide the ring over the neck of a wine bottle for this.
Cut the cake out of the pan once it is completely cold. This is the hardest part, and I never manage to get the cake out without mangling it at least a little bit. One of these days I will try cutting some parchement paper to shape, lining the ring pan with it, and see if the cake will still bake like that, and if the paper lining makes it any easier to get the cake out of the pan in one piece and looking nice.
When Grandma made the cake, it always looked beautiful, like she just gently slid it out of the pan. I don’t know how she did it…. other than about 60+ years of practice. I am nowhere near there yet.
Sift confectioners sugar over the cake before serving it.
Confectioners sugar hides a lot of flaws.
Since this is the last “summer hours” day off that I have, and since John and I are going up to Cleveland to visit my folks (and far-flung relatives who are making a rare visit) I am baking my Grandma’s Sunshine Cake for the occasion. I call it the cholesterol death cake since it contains a full dozen eggs and just enough cake flour (1 cup) and other ingredients to bind it all together. Basically, it is only a half-step away from being a souffle, and once it is in the oven there is a strict “no peeking” rule until it is done and ready to take out, as it could fall if you are not careful. This rule is very hard to follow sometimes, since the cake smells wonderful while it is in the oven. It tastes pretty darn wonderful once it is out of the over as well.
Major food holidays are always interesting here at Casa VanRoekel. Since we live fairly far from our families (4 hours drive, 5.5 hours drive, and 5 hours on a plane, respectively) we spend a decent amount of those holidays at home.
I don’t like to skimp on holiday food, so we often end up with a ridiculous amount of food for just two people.
- Hash browns (Hand grated by me. Hand grating a potato sucks.)
- Eggs over easy
It was all delicious.
And the of course there was also paska, and kolache, and jelly beans, and chocolate eggs, and the chocolate rabbit that I got for John that had foot-long ears (because he mentioned that biting the ears off a chocolate rabbit was one of the best things about Easter), and rice krispie treats that we made with melted peeps.
Two days later, and I am still full.