Bloglet: Sammy and the Passing of Autumn

It was Thanksgiving yesterday. I had my big paper turkey up in the window and a big meal on the table. Today it is Indian Summer, and we are taking advantage of this brief bit of warm weather to do the last few outdoor jobs: painting, raking, and taking down summer fencing and putting winter fencing in its place. I repacked the old chicken coop with items that I don’t want freezing and thawing out in the weather.

Sam was out for a good portion of the day on his tie out, yearning to be free. We don’t let him run because we don’t want him to stray and become coyote chow or get in a fight with another cat and require costly vet visits, and then there are the speeding cars on the street in front of our house–cats and cars, it never ends well.

Our Samwise always seems to collapse on the way into the house and requires revival with a gentle belly rub. Poor little boy! Begonia

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Odds and Ends: Potato Chip Crumbs

I was helping in the kitchen at a church chili cook off/hot dog dinner and bingo family fun evening recently. The hot dogs were served with potato chips. At one point in the evening,  I brought out another full box of bagged chips to the serving line and took a boxful of mostly empty bags back to the kitchen. As I pulled the chip bags out of the box so I could break It down for recycling, I noticed that there was at least a handful of potato crumbs in the bottom of each bag.

It seemed a pity to waste them.

A cookie that my grandmother, Nanny, used to make when we were kids came back to mind. She used to make a cookie with crushed potato chips in them. These cookies sound weird, but it is just another flavor combination of salty/sweet. If you like kettle corn (another salty/sweet food), you will probably like this very simple cookie.

Potato Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups crushed potato chips
  1. Cream butter and sugar together and then add vanilla.
  2. Combine flour and butter mixture and then fold in potato chips.
  3. Form into balls (dough will be very short and crumbly) and bake at 350 F for 13-15 minutes. Baked cookies should be golden brown on the bottoms.

These cookies are very rich. My husband calls them gut bombs because they go down easy, but all of a sudden you feel very full! I just call them good. They remind me of being a kid. I hope enjoy them, too! Begonia

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Rediscovering Childhood Recipes

I was going through my mother’s recipe files for the first time since her death a number of years ago. They were in the same order in which she left them when her health failed after suffering a stroke.

Some of my older siblings had been wondering if the recipes for some of the meals they had eaten were in those files. So I looked for them when I made my first foray into the past. The following is one that I think matches one of their food memories:

Hamburger Chop Suey

  • 1 lb. hamburger
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 2 c celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 can mixed Chinese vegetables
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • Hot cooked rice

Cook hamburger and onion in skillet until hamburger loses its red color. Add salt, pepper, celery, and 1 1/2 c hot water. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add drained Chinese vegetables and heat. Blend cornstarch with 2 T of cold water, and stir into hot mixture. Cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Add soy sauce. Serve with hot cooked rice. 4 to 6 servings.

The younger half of the family ate Chicken Chop Suey, and it is what I fed my family (with some minor increases in vegetables and decreases in fat and sodium). It is probably one of the recipes my kids will be looking for among my many recipe card files when I am no longer on the planet.

Chicken Chop Suey

  • 4 oz. of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 t oil
  • 1 c celery, sliced
  • 1 c onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c green pepper, chopped
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 3 T lite soy sauce
  • 8 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 can bean sprouts, drained
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

Heat oil in a large skillet and add celery, onion, and green pepper. Saute until tender crisp. Combine cornstarch, soy sauce, and chicken broth and add to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Add chicken, bean sprouts, and water chestnuts and heat through. Serve with hot rice and crispy oriental noodles. Serves 5.

Memories are funny things. We all latch onto different details of a situation–retaining some and forgetting others. If the family was big enough, older children will have eaten different foods than their younger brothers and sisters, either because of lean financial times or there being less processed food available. You could almost divide the family into pre- and post-Hamburger Helper!

The kinds of foods we ate changed with location as well. When the younger half of the family moved to the country and planted the first garden, our diets changed with the influx of fresh vegetables. Most of the vegetables in my pre-back-to-the-land life came in metal cans (often dented and/or without labels and from the bargain cart at the back of the Green Street store–which is now a runway of O’Hare Airport). Once we started harvesting our first successful garden, we had plenty of green beans, kohlrabi, cabbage, tomatoes, green peppers, spinach, parsley, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, and potatoes–it was wonderful.

The 1970s also saw the introduction of things like roasted soy beans, granola, and tacos! Do any of you remember when tacos were considered exotic, foreign food? Do you remember when the only granola bars were Nature Valley–and then only the dry crumbly kind? Yeah, I’m old. Begonia


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