Tasting the past: Ruth Ann’s cherry crunch

Close-up of cherry crumble

Ruth Ann’s Cherry crunch.

I’ve been trying to get back into the blogging routine after a long hiatus. A Tasting the Past post seemed fitting to rekindle the habit. Ruth Ann’s cherry crunch comes to you courtesy of a hand written recipe from the wooden box.

The recipe itself is quite simple: it’s a cherry crumble. Also, it calls for store bought cherry pie filling. But we’re in Ontario and in the middle of summer where fresh produce is abundant. Foodland Ontario’s – a program part of the province’s ministry of Agriculture and Food – slogan boasts “Good things grow in Ontario”…  In other words, it would wrong to not make our own cherry filling.

We had several sour cherries left over from the week before. We also had about half a pint of currants that were kicking around in the fridge that would ultimately be put to good use. continue reading

Tasting the Past – Flora’s Chocolate Molasses Cookies

Voilà! Flora's molasses chocolate cookies.

Voilà! Flora’s molasses chocolate cookies.

Searching the battered blue notebook for a dessert last to bring over at friends proved to be quite intriguing. Flipping through the pages, I stumbled upon four variations of a molasses cookie. I opted for the one that contained chocolate.

This would prove to be quite the kitchen experiment: only the ingredients were listed. There was no method… none whatsoever. I would have to wing it, conduct a bit of research, tweak the recipe if need be. continue reading

Tasting the Past: Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie on a blue platter.

Brutalism meets baking: Boston Cream Pie

I’ll be honest, it has taken some time to get into gear and actually start cooking for the blog again. However, as soon as I stumbled upon the Boston cream pie recipe in larger notebook, I knew, that’s this was the recipe I wanted to try to get the ball rolling. I’ve tasted some from the bakery or restaurant and had the odd doughnut by the same name, but I’ve never baked a Boston Cream Pie. I was quite excited. continue reading

A new year: rediscovering the joy of blogging

Ham and a sliced fig

Holiday ham: fig and balsamic glazed ham

Hi!

It has been so long. Feels a little strange to be posting – especially after such a long hiatus (4 months!). A new year means new beginnings. Time to start fresh and rekindle with the joy of blogging again.

At the beginning of last year, I had a semi decent run for a couple of months. Then, things obviously slowed down quite a bit. Procrastination may have got the better of me. Can’t blame anyone but myself for that. continue reading

Tasting the Past: Suella’s Brownies

Brownies on a plate topped with raspberries

A piece of Suella’s brownies topped with raspberries.

After spending most of the summer out and about or prepping dinner by grilling away on the barbecue, this lazy Labour Day afternoon proved to be the right moment to revisit the wooden box of culinary treasures. It has been weeks since I had taken a peek at it. A handful of recipes had been singled out previously, but none seemed right for the day.

I stumbled upon a folded piece of paper with a brownie recipe with the inscriptions “Suella”, and “Very good” on the top right of the page. There seems to be another two words on the sheet of paper, but I can’t seem to make them out.

An old wooden recipe box with a recipe

Revisiting the wooden box for a Tasting the Past post.

Another interesting detail about this recipe is that I finally may have found some information about the potential original owner of the box. The recipe was written on Circle B Equip. Co. stationary. Even the address of the company was listed: Buffalo Prairie, Illinois. A quick search on Google shows that this community is located about four hours West of Chicago. Finally, a clue as to where this recipe box may have come from. I’ll have to continue sifting through the box for more clues.

Back to the recipe… After thoroughly following the list of ingredients and instructions, I was a little unsure of the outcome. This was based on a little mishap that occurred while trying to remove the brownies from my Pyrex dish. Pieces of the brownies had broken off. I had thought that the texture of the brownies was perhaps more apparent to a chocolate cake. Luckily, upon tasting, the texture felt right. Worried for nothing!

The recipe called for some icing. It was the right time to put my mother’s tried and tested quick icing recipe to work. It simply calls for icing sugar, butter, water and liquor. I simply added a bit of cocoa and voilà!

Brownies

 Ingredients

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • ¼ cup of cocoa
  • 1 cup of melted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. of vanilla
  • 1 ½ cup of flour
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • ½ tsp. of baking powder

Method

  • Preheat oven at 375 °F
  • Mix sugar an cocoa together. Stir in melted butter, add eggs and vanilla.
  • Mix well and add dry ingredients.
  • Stir in nuts.
  • Bake at 375 °F for about 25 minutes
  • Top off with favourite icing.

Quick chocolate icing

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • 2/3 cup of cocoa
  • 2 tbs of water
  • 2 tbs of liquor (or orange juice)
  • 2 tbs of melted butter

Method

  • Mix all of the ingredients until smooth.
  • Serve with fruit or a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream
a bowl of brownie batter and eggs

Labour Day labour of love: brownies.

Tasting the Past – Myrtle A.’s Date Bread

Myrtle A.'s Date Bread.

Myrtle A.’s Date Bread.

Fresh out of the wooden box… another dessert. I went for this recipe this week based on simplicity. Also, I had all of the ingredients in the pantry and in the fridge. In other words, it’s a simple recipe to prepare on a weekday.

Two things in this recipe took me by surprise. First, all the prep for the bread is done in a single bowl. Dry and wet ingredients are often mixed separately before being combined. In this case, after hydrating the chopped dates, everything was thrown into the bowl. Second, the bread is cooked in two phases. The date bread is initially set to bake at 325°F for 40 minutes. The heat is then turned down to 275°F for an hour and 20 minutes. continue reading

Tasting the Past – Rhubarb Preserve Jelly

The finished product: Opal's Rhubarb Preserve Jelly.

The finished product: Opal’s Rhubarb Preserve Jelly.

There is a bit of nostalgia attached to rhubarb. It might seem weird, but it takes me back to my childhood. I’ll always remember munching on sticks of rhubarb from my parents’ backyard while dipping them in a small bowl of sugar to offset the tartness.

I was quite excited when I stumbled upon this recipe in the wooden box. According to the writing on the card, this recipe is from Opal. I don’t know much about this Opal woman, but she seemed to have quite the sweet tooth. A copious amount of sugar is required for this jelly. No matter how you look at it, four cups is a lot of sugar! continue reading