Archive for January, 2010

January Tomato Soup

Sunday, January 31st, 2010
My neighbor Jim enjoyed the January Tomato Soup.

My neighbor Jim enjoyed his January Tomato Soup.

National Soup Month is about to end—so here’s a quick soup recipe to warm your house and your body.
Like the Campbell company, I have always considered tomato soup one of the mainstays of an American larder.
The first known published recipe for tomato soup appeared in The Appledore Cook Book, an 1872 work by Maria Parloa (1843-1909).
An early supporter of home economics, Parloa lectured at the Boston Cooking School and ran versions of her own academy, Miss Parloa’s School of Cookery, in both Boston and New York.
She wrote regularly for the Ladies’ Home Journal. She also served as a spokeswoman for the Baker Chocolate Company and contributed to its recipe books.
The charming blog Maria Parloa describes Parloa’s teaching, which she called late in her life “a magnificent work for any young woman to take up.”
The Appledore Cook Book was Parloa’s first book and stemmed from her work as a pastry cook on the Appledore Island summer resort in Maine. Most sources I have found on the internet call her soup a “tomato chowder.”
I called the public library in Bethel, Connecticut, for more information. Parloa spent the last few years of her life in Bethel and left money to establish a library there. According to the library web site the town proudly houses copies of her works in its local-history collection.
I asked one of the reference librarians to read me the recipe for tomato chowder. I was told that Parloa’s creation was not in fact a “tomato chowder” but rather a “tomato soup.” (So much for research on the internet!) The librarian read it to me:
Tomato Soup
Peel and slice tomatoes enough to fill a two-quart basin; put them into the soup-kettle with six quarts of water and two pounds of beef; boil three hours; season with pepper, salt, and a spoonful of butter. Strain, and serve with toasted bread.
I may try this recipe in the summer when I have fresh tomatoes (although two quarts of tomatoes would be A LOT of tomatoes!). Meanwhile, I recently made a much quicker soup taking advantage of canned tomatoes.
Here is that simple recipe. It makes a versatile soup; if you have other veggies and/or herbs in the house, throw them in. Next time I’m trying a few carrots plus some cilantro for garnish.
Tinky's tomato soupeb
January Tomato Soup
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2 cups canned tomatoes
2 cups salsa (the ingredients and heat are your choice)
2 cups chicken stock and 2 cups water (or 4 cups vegetable stock)
a splash or two of cream, milk, and/or half and half (optional)
grated cheese (optional)
Combine the onion, pepper, celery, tomatoes, salsa, and stock (or water or whatever) in a Dutch oven.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover it, reduce the heat, and simmer for half an hour. Allow the soup to cool for a few minutes; then puree it in batches in a blender. Add a little cream and/or cheese at the table if you like. Serves 4 to 6.
(Courtesy of the blog "Maria Parloa")

(Courtesy of the blog "Maria Parloa")


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Jody’s Homely Oatmeal Cookies

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Jody's cookiesweb

Last month I announced the beginning of my monthly “Twelve Cookies of Christmas” series and asked for cookie submissions from readers.
Jody Cothey of Hawley, Massachusetts (my hometown!), sent in this month’s “Two Turtle Doves” recipe, which she calls Havrekaker (I have also seen it spelled “Havrekakor.”)
The recipe is Norwegian. Jody first found it in a small book from the 1940s called A Grandmother for Christmas. She has been making the cookies since she was about 13.
Jody describes these oatmeal clumps as “homely but yummy.” They are indeed yummy, and they’re homely in both senses of the world: they’re a little plain, and they speak of home.
Jody’s home is Tregellys Fiber Farm. It’s on the other side of town from the Casa Tinky and looks as though it’s in a different country.
The hills outside my door are small and cozy; the ones outside Jody and her husband Ed’s home are dramatic—more like the Andes or the Himalayas than our humble Berkshires.
The Cotheys raise exotic (mostly) fiber-producing animals and have an abiding interest in India, Nepal, and Tibet. Ed weaves lovely rugs and blankets from the fleece. The pair sell his handiwork as well as fair-trade international handicrafts in a shop called Tregellys World in nearby Shelburne Falls.
When Jody isn’t taking care of yaks, Icelandic sheep, or Bactrian camels she writes poetry under her maiden name, Pamela Stewart. Her new book of poems, Ghost Farm, is due out later this year from Pleasure Boat Studio.
I don’t know how she finds time to bake, but I’m glad she does. It helps that these cookies are very, very easy. They hold together beautifully.
Jody says, “This is a fairly stiff mixture so have a strong wooden spoon and an adequate bowl, especially if doubling the recipe.” Ed, who is a big fan of the cookies, adds that they freeze well. (We didn’t have any left over to freeze!)
A Bactrian Camel (Courtesy of Tregellys Fiber Farm)

A Bactrian Camel on a Hawley Hill (Courtesy of Tregellys Fiber Farm)

1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch salt
2 cups raw oatmeal
2 cups flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the oatmeal and flour; combine thoroughly.
Drop or scoop cookies of the desired size onto greased cookie sheets. Ideally, you will have about 2 dozen cookies, but if you want them bigger or smaller, go right ahead.
Just remember that bigger cookies will take a little longer to bake, and smaller ones may take a little less time. Jody says, “Mine are small…. usually cookie size is personal, like bra size.”
Bake the cookies until they are firm and begin to get brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. Makes about 24 cookies.

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I’m Honored

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Kreativ Blogger Award2

Bloggers love a little recognition. So I was thrilled yesterday to learn that Mattenylou of the charming blog On Larch Lane has given me the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thanks, Mattenylou!
This award is designed to share news of fun blogs. Each recipient is asked to post seven interesting things about herself (or himself, of course) and to pass the award on to seven other bloggers.
Mattenylou very sweetly wrote to me saying that if I didn’t have time to post seven things about myself she would understand. Naturally, I responded that for an egotist like me the problem would be finding ONLY seven things to write about!
Things about Tinky (they may be of interest only to me, but here they are!):
1. Let’s start with guilty pleasures: I read category fiction. This means I love mysteries and even the occasional romance novel. (I have also been known to TiVo “Ghost Whisperer” on television; I can’t figure out why, but it’s there in my queue every week.)
2. I have had crushes on a number of movie stars, including the following (not in order): Matthew Broderick, Fred Astaire, and Walter Pidgeon. Also Walter Cronkite (maybe there’s something about the name Walter?)
3. There are days on which I would kill for a truffle.
4. I talk to my pets constantly. I am certain that they talk back.
5. When I’m really frazzled I take a walk in the woods.
6. I love my friends and my family. I wish more of them played bridge with me, however; I haven’t played bridge in years! And it’s my favorite team sport.
7. I would love to be better organized. Also rich and famous, but better organized actually comes first!
Seven of My Favorite Blogs
These were really hard to narrow down. I read and enjoy a LOT of blogs.
1. Commonweeder, which muses year round on gardens and community.
2. Food & Think from the Smithsonian, which mixes science, food, culture, and fun.
3. Walking Off the Big Apple, the thinking woman’s (and man’s) guide to New York.
4. History Hoydens, in which historical-romance writers talk about their research and their writing with wit and passion.
5. Sugar Apple, which blends Southern American and island cuisines to maximize color and flavor.
6. How Does Your Garden Grow, which concentrates on local eating and doable recipes in my native New England.
7. Today at Mary’s Farm, in which journalist Edie Clark shares insightful essays on country life.
Please take a look at them—and, if you like, leave a comment to tell me about some of YOUR favorite blogs. I’m always looking for new reading material.
Before I go I have to post a recipe since National Oatmeal Month is almost over and I HAVEN’T POSTED A SINGLE AVENACEOUS RECIPE this January!
This recipe comes from Jody Cothey. I’ll tell you more about her in my next post, which will feature another of her favorite foods.
For now I’ll just let you know that she and her husband Edward own Tregellys Fiber Farm in my hometown of Hawley, Massachusetts. They have a longstanding interest in Tibetan and Nepalese people and culture.
The Cotheys learned to make this oatmeal dish from Nepalese friends and eat it frequently at this time of year. In Nepal it’s sweetened with honey, but in Massachusetts the Cotheys (and I!) tweak it with a little maple syrup.
If you like bananas and oatmeal, try this combination. It is surprisingly silky in taste and texture.
Nepalese Porridge
1 cup milk
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 pinch salt
2/3 banana, cut into small pieces
maple syrup to taste
In a small saucepan combine the milk, oats, salt, and banana pieces. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the porridge reaches the consistency you like (for me this is about five minutes).
Serve with maple syrup. Serves 1 to 2, depending on appetite.

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Life’s Better with Butter!

Monday, January 25th, 2010
(Courtesy of the New York Public Library)

(Courtesy of the New York Public Library)

I didn’t grow up eating Parker House rolls. Indeed, I’m not sure I even saw one until last week when, encouraged by Elizabeth at New England Bloggers, I attempted to make them. My attempt wasn’t perfect—my rolls ended up a little crowded in their pans!—but the end product WAS delicious.
Elizabeth suggested the rolls as a quintessentially New England food. They are certainly steeped in history. They’re also steeped in butter.
Now known as the Omni Parker House, the Parker House is the oldest continuously operating hotel in the United States. This Boston landmark was founded in 1855 by Harvey Parker, a restaurateur who wanted to expand into overnight trade.
The Parker House’s visitors were a who’s who of 19th and 20th century America. Its illustrious Saturday Club met on a weekend afternoon once a month at the hotel beginning in 1855.
Members of this intellectual society included novelist William Dean Howells, naturalist Henry David Thoreau, poet John Greenleaf Whittier, historian Francis Parkman, and other luminaries.
When in town English novelist Charles Dickens was a guest member; he performed his first American reading of A Christmas Carol to the group. In 1867 he wrote in a letter home
I dine today with Longfellow, Emerson, Holmes, and Agassiz. Longfellow was here yesterday. Perfectly white in hair and beard, but a remarkably handsome and notable-looking man.
Charles Dickens (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Charles Dickens (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Other notable guests included John Wilkes Booth, who came to Boston to watch his brother Edwin perform at the Boston Theater in April 1865 and was observed practicing with his pistol at a nearby shooting gallery; Boston mayor James Michael Curley, the inspiration for the novel The Last Hurrah; more Kennedys than you could fit into a chapel; Bill Clinton; and three of my favorite actresses–Judy Garland, Ann-Margret, and Sarah Bernhardt.
Rather bizarrely, the Parker House employed two noted revolutionaries in their youths, Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X.
All these people had to be fed, and the elegant Parker House was known for feeding them well. Its kitchen staff invented Boston cream pie, the official dessert of the state of Massachusetts despite the opinion of many that pudding of some sort would be a more appropriate choice.
The Parker House was an early proponent of lemon meringue pie. It was also the place in which the term “scrod” was coined.
And of course it was and is the home of Parker House rolls, invented early on in the hotel’s existence (the Parker House doesn’t seem to have an exact date) by a German baker named Ward who was employed there.
The Parker House roll’s signature is a fold in the middle which gives this small yeast bread its special texture.
In a quick search of cookbooks and the internet I found many recipes for Parker House rolls. They don’t all have as much butter as the formula below. It came from the Omni Parker House web site, however, so it reeks of authenticity as well as butter.
Of course, I changed it a tiny bit—but not much, I promise!
Would I could steal its echoes! You should find
Such store of vanished pleasures brought to mind:
Such feasts! The laughs of many a jocund hour
That shook the mortar from King George’s Tower.
Such guests! What famous names its record boasts,
Whose owners wander in the mob of ghosts!
Such stories! Every beam and plank is filled
With juicy wit the joyous talkers spilled………
Oliver Wendell Holmes, “At the Saturday Club” (1884)
You may visit Elizabeth’s blog, “Thoughts from an Evil Overlord,” to see a full list of posts in the New England Bloggers’ Anniversary Carnival.
Oliver Wendell Holmes (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Oliver Wendell Holmes (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Parker House Rolls
6 cups flour (approximately)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 packets yeast (regular “active dry,” not instant)
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter
1 egg
In a large bowl that will work with your electric mixer whisk together 2-1/2 cups flour, the sugar, the salt, and the yeast.
In a small saucepan heat the milk, the water, and 1 stick of the butter until the mixture is the temperature of hot tap water (120 to 130 degrees); your finger should be able to go into it, but it should feel hot. The butter may not be completely melted.
With the mixer at low speed, slowly pour the liquid into the flour mixture. Add the egg and increase the speed to medium. Beat the mixture for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go along. Beat in 3/4 to 1 cup more flour, enough to make a thick batter. Beat for another 2 minutes.
Turn off the mixer and use a wooden spoon to stir in enough additional flour to make a dough that you can grab as a ball—about 2-1/2 cups.
Move the dough to a floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes, adding flour a little at a time as needed. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a greased large bowl, turning the dough over so that all sides have touched the grease.
Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in bulk, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. (The Parker House recommends that you place it in a spot that is 80 to 85 degrees, which may be hard at this time of year; just do your best!) The dough is ready for the next step when two fingers pressed into it leave a dent.
Punch down the dough gently by pushing down the center with your fist; then push the edges of the dough into the center. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and knead it lightly to shape it into a smooth ball. Cover the ball with your bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Melt the remaining stick of butter and pour it into a large roasting pan (17-1/4 inches by 11-1/2 inches) or divide it between 2 smaller pans. Make sure the butter covers the entire bottom of the pan(s).
On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll out the dough until it is 1/2 inch thick. With a floured biscuit cutter cut the dough into circles.
The Parker House recommends 2-3/4-inch circles. My biscuit cutter was missing so I used a 2-inch jar top. I still didn’t have as many rolls as the Parker House says its bakers make; maybe my rolling skills were to blame!
Holding each dough circle by the edge, dip both sides in the butter; then fold each circle in half and place it in the pan. Knead the dough trimmings together and cut more rolls out of them.
Cover the pan(s) with a damp dish towel and let the rolls rise until they double again; this will take 40 minutes to an hour. Toward the end of the rising preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bake the rolls for 15 to 18 minutes, until they are brown on top. Remove them from the oven and move them to a rack to dry out a little until you are ready to serve them. If you don’t plan to serve the rolls right away, be sure to warm them again before serving.
Makes between 30 and 40 rolls, depending on your rolling and cutting skills. (The Parker House says 42; I got about 26.)
Parker House Rolls web

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Chowder Challenge

Friday, January 22nd, 2010
My neighbor Kathy contemplates the bacon atop her chowder.

My neighbor Kathy contemplates the bacon atop her chowder.

I was recently asked by Elizabeth, organizer of the New England Bloggers, to post a recipe or two that would speak particularly of New England.
Elizabeth is putting together a web-wide gathering of her bloggers to celebrate the first anniversary of this group. On Monday night we will somehow link our Yankee posts together.
I’m a little fuzzy on the technological aspects of this, but Elizabeth assures me that it will happen. (Note from Tinky later: IT HAS HAPPENED!  Visit Elizabeth’s Blog to see all the blog posts for this anniversary celebration.)
In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens has featured quite a few New England recipes, from Maple-Glazed Carrots to Strawberry Scones. I wanted to post something new for this event, however.
I asked Elizabeth what she would like me to write about. Her very first suggestion was Corn Chowder, a worthy addition to any collection of New England recipes.
Corn is perhaps the quintessential American—certainly the quintessential American—food. This native to our shores is versatile: it can be used in soups, breads, stews, and even desserts.
Chowder is ideal fare at this time of year. Somewhere between a soup and a stew, it blends warmth and comfort into its mixture of chunkiness and creaminess.
The recipe below isn’t cutting edge, but Corn Chowder isn’t supposed to be cutting edge. It’s supposed to be New England Comfort Food.
If you get a chance, leave a comment below describing YOUR favorite New England food!
New England Corn Chowder
Those who are lactose intolerant might try omitting the milk or cream. If you want to make the soup that way, puree a little more of it than I recommend below so that the mixture seems creamier. Or try using canned cream-style corn.
Those who love corn chowder but don’t eat pork should try the Chipotle Corn Chowder recipe I posted a while back.
5 thick pieces of bacon
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper (preferably not yellow; I used orange!), finely chopped
1 pound very tiny potatoes, cut into quarters
3 cups corn kernels (I used frozen kernels defrosted)
2 cups chicken stock plus 2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup milk and/or cream
In a Dutch oven brown the bacon pieces to release their fat. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon pieces. Drain and save them.
Quickly sauté the onion in the bacon fat, followed by the pepper. Add the potatoes to the pan, and toss them to coat them very lightly in any remaining bacon fat.
Add the corn, liquid, salt, and pepper. (Don’t salt too heavily; remember, the bacon fat is salty. You can always add more salt at the end if you need it.)
Bring the chowder to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 1/2 hour.
If you have time, allow the chowder to come to room temperature and then chill it. This way the fat will rise to the top and you can remove most of it. (The soup is quite filling without that additional fat.)
Puree about a third of the soup in a blender or food processor in order to make the consistency more uniform. The soup needs a few pieces of potato and some corn kernels to seem like chowder so don’t overdo the puree-fication.
Stir in the milk and/or cream and adjust the seasonings. Heat the chowder through but do not return it to the boil. Garnish with the reserved pieces of bacon. Serves 4 generously.

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