Thinking Ahead in 2010


New Year’s Resolutions can be tricky things. If we take them too seriously—try to turn our lives around completely—they can be dangerously difficult to maintain.
Instead of making impossible resolutions this January, therefore, I’m using the turn of the year for reflection and planning. Naturally, In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens is coming in for its share of both activities.
This weekend I looked over many of my posts from the past year or so in an effort to figure out where the blog goes from here. I have selected several types of post that have turned out to be very popular with readers, with me, or with both.
Here they are, in alphabetical order:
Characters I Have Known such as Florette Zuelke and Sylvia Hubbell;
Comfort Food like Faith’s Tunafish & Noodles or Irish Stew;
Contributions from Friends & Readers, such as Erin’s Pizza or Mike’s Louisiana Red Beans & Rice;
Historical Figures, Events, and Places, including Susan B. Anthony and George Washington’s Gristmill;
Holidays, from Mardi Gras to Oatmeal Month (I know oatmeal month isn’t technically a holiday, but we did celebrate it last year!);
Local and Seasonal Foods, from Rhubarb to Squash;
Songs and Music, including such popular standards as “September Song” and “Moon River”;
TV and Film Figures and Foods, featuring people like Vivian Vance and Harriet Nelson.
In the next year I hope to touch on each of these categories at least once a month (which probably means I’ll get to them once every other month; I AM a procrastinator!).
I’ll also be continuing my monthly Twelve Cookies of Christmas series.
And naturally I’ll frequently have to resort to posting a recipe for What We Just Ate.
Some people might argue that each of my categories could spark its own blog. It’s always been both a weakness and a strength of mine that I have many, many passions.
This scattered interest makes it hard for me to focus at times. I think it makes me a more interesting person, cook, and writer, however.
As the year goes by I hope regular readers—and even irregular readers—will help me build up the different categories. Please let me know which of them you favor.
And of course please tell me what I have left out that you’d like to read about.
Two of the categories—Contributions from Readers & Friends and The Twelve Cookies of Christmas—will depend on you in large part for contributions. The name of this blog is In OUR Grandmothers’ Kitchens, after all. Please consider submitting a recipe (with background information) to me in the next few months.
I hope together we’ll have a delicious new year!
Paula Rice, the Supreme Leader of the Meat Counter at Avery's, slices dried beef.
Paula Rice, the Senior Slicer at the Meat Counter at Avery’s, slices dried beef.

Frizzled Beef

Since I’ve spent so much time mulling over the past year recently today’s recipe naturally falls into the What We Just Ate category (although it’s also highly eligible for Comfort Food!).
My mother and I invited friends to supper Saturday night. What with snow falling outside and lots of work to do, we didn’t have much opportunity to shop or cook that day.
So we ended up with Frizzled Beef (a.k.a. chipped beef, a.k.a. S.O.S. or Same Old … um … Stuff).
Our local general store, Avery’s, stocks lovely dried beef at this time of year. The nice folks behind the meat counter will slice as much or as little as one likes.
The beef saves for weeks so it’s a great fallback food on snowy days. And it cooks up in minutes.
The recipe I used for the beef came from Gam, our neighborhood matriarch, as did Saturday’s oyster recipe. (I used to stay at her house a lot at this time of year so I guess I’m thinking of her!)
If you want to vary it, you may sauté a little onion and/or celery in butter in your frying pan before you add more butter and the dried beef.
You may also throw cooked peas and/or a pinch of thyme into the final product.
Frizzled beef may be eaten over biscuits, puff pastry, cornbread, or a baked potato. My mother and I had just baked some fresh oatmeal bread the other evening so we served it on toast. A salad and brownies completed our supper.
The guests didn’t complain about the simplicity of the meal. It was warm and tasty. And it was enhanced by candlelight and conversation. (Don’t forget those important ingredients when you serve it yourself.)
1/2 pound dried beef
a pat of butter the size of an egg
flour as needed
1 egg yolk beaten into 1 cup milk (plus a little more if needed) and 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
freshly ground pepper to taste
If you are averse to a lot of salt, rinse the beef carefully and pat it dry. Dried beef is heavily cured (that’s why it lasts so long) so it can be very salty.
Melt the butter in a medium frying pan. When it is hot, add the beef and toss it around to coat it in the butter.
Dust the warm beef with flour and toss it around for a minute or two. Pour in the egg mixture. Bring the mixture just to the boil, adding a bit more milk if it looks very thick; then dish it up.
Serves 4.

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12 Responses to “Thinking Ahead in 2010”

  1. Grad says:

    Tinky, I love all your posts, so it doesn’t matter to me what you write about. I particularly like the stories of your neighbors and friends, and the way you pepper those stories with good recipes (that really work, but the way). We are lucky, I guess, in that we have oysters aplenty down here, and oyster roasts are a very popular way of entertaining. I used to make scalloped oysters as a young bride. I should dig out that old recipe and dust it off. Glad to hear your performance went well! One day you should post a video!

  2. Grad says:

    Well, of course I meant (“by the way”) but I also wanted to say I love the picture your general store – frizzled beef with hardware in the background! My kind of place.

  3. tinkyweisblat says:

    It is truly a wonderful store, Grad! Space is limited so everything is kind of compressed, but it does have just about anything a person needs–and one can special order much more. You’re lucky with all of those oysters! I’m thinking of doing scalloped oysters NEXT New Year (unless you’d like to contribute); I love them, but I have a pretty fattening week going here without indulging in them….

  4. Susan says:

    Looking forward to 2010, Tinky!

  5. Happy New Year Tinky!

    I look forward to your blog, although I haven’t gotten around to trying many of the recipes.

    I did get some fresh cranberries to try your cranberry bread for our post-holiday staff party on Friday.

  6. Betsy Kovacs says:

    “ALL this is great, but my favorite postings are about your relatives and friends–and especially the piece on your wonderful father, Abe Weisblat!

  7. Peter says:

    I’m taking a break from voting … how can I possibly keep track of some 347 aliases? But I have pondered recent postings about In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens plans for the upcoming year. Certainly the Twelve Cookies of Christmas is a splendid idea, and the regular array of recipes is fine, too. But what would be especially useful – it is the first step for any cook or baker – is a notion of what to cook or bake. Is there any chance that you might ask your readers to submit foolproof, surefire menus. Not recipes (fine if the include them, however) but menus? I’d really like to have an arsenal of reliable menus: it’s an asset when shopping and a boon when suddenly confronted with guests and little time to contemplate what to serve. Recently, although it’s been part of most cookbooks for some time, I’ve discovered that wonderful section at the back of the cookbook, usually wedged between “Know Your Measurements” (for tailoring purposes?) and “Know Your Ingredients” entitled “Menus.” I’ve occasionally appropriated a “Menu for a Spring Luncheon” and employed it for an autumn dinner: the matching of occasion and courses isn’t what I adhere to. What is important is getting some ideas for how to augment the usually feeble notion I’ve begun with, such as “I’m thinking leg of lamb – and… what else?” One of the pleasures of reading menus is finding one that is blissfully simple. For instance, a menu that has one grilling something, augmenting it with a baked potato and simple salad and then suggesting ice cream for dessert may not represent the pinnacle of culinary effort, but in a pinch it can be a life saver. That it has the imprimatur of the cookbook author does give one confidence. That is to say, if Joy of Cooking or Nigel Slater tell me a simple dessert of berries and creme fraiche is sufficient, I feel as if I’ve done my best – no need to frantically make brioche to use in an elaborate brioche bread pudding recipe. So I appeal to your readers to submit their favorite, old and reliable menus. Armed with the framework or battle plan for a meal, sudden and last minute meals are far less stressful.

    I think the value of menus is helpful both for company and for everyday meals. My mother remarked, at the time that she and my father moved to a retirement community, that she relished going to one of the various dining rooms each evening not because she was relieved of cooking duties (or cleaning duties, for that matter) but that she was liberated, after more than fifty years, of having to coming up with an idea of what to have for dinner. Ideas?

  8. Eric says:

    Now you’ve got me thinking. This looks like something my mom used to make that she called “chipped beef”. Does that name mean anything to you? I say look likes, because I never watched her make it so have no idea of what went into it. It was warm and salty and wonderful.

  9. tinkyweisblat says:

    Absolutely it’s chipped beef; I’m not sure where the word “frizzled” came from, but it’s fun.

    You don’t have to use the egg yolk if you don’t want to. And of course if you like salt (I do) you don’t have to rinse the chipped beef.

    Mmm…….. now I want more!

  10. tinkyweisblat says:

    I promise to work on menus in 2010; thanks for the suggestion, Peter!

  11. Eric says:

    OK, now that I read it closer, I see the “chipped beef” reference. Darn these glasses….

  12. vicky says:

    I love this and so do my kidos… my mom made it for me and my sibs.. mmmmmmm

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