Tag Archives: Helen

Following is an excerpt from Lucie's Kitchen, a collection of stories and recipes from Lucie Olmstead's life coming out soon.

Clyde was home on leave from the Navy. He wasn't sure when he would be home again, so he and Helen planned their wedding on a Friday, August 12, 1955. Her sister Alice's wedding was the next day, but that was OK. Helen's wedding was a happy party, a casual gathering of friends and family glad to see the young couple get their start. Nothing extravagant.

Helen and Clyde would go on to live and raise four children in their hometown, together for close to 60 years-- and counting.

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Newlyweds Helen & Clyde Jenkins (center), with matron of honor Sally McDermid and best man, friend of Clyde.

When asked for a favorite recipe from Aunt Helen's daughter Tricia, this main dish was her pick. But like Edna's Scalloped Corn and Lucie's pies, Helen's Beef Tips and Noodles weren't tied to a hard and fast recipe. "Oh, I just use some leftover roast beef, add some gravy, and boil some noodles." reported Helen. "Homemade noodles though." she added. That's the key: her kids loved this dish, but the noodles are essential. "They're just egg and flour," Helen said "but the kids ate those first."

That's the truth, isn't it? Sometimes the most practical, uncomplicated things are what we crave the most.

Beef Tips and Noodles

by Helen Jenkins

Ingredients
Cooked roast beef
Gravy
Noodles

Cut the roast beef into chunks and brown over medium heat in a heavy skillet. Make gravy separately and add to the pan. Stir in cooked noodles.

Noodles

by Lucie Olmstead

Ingredients
1 egg
salt
1 T cream, milk, or water (or 1 tsp butter)
Flour

Mix the egg, salt, and cream together in a bowl. Add enough flour to form a soft ball.

Roll on a well-floured area to the desired thickness. From one end, roll the sheet up into a log. Cut the rolled dough into 1" wide sliced, then uncurl each noodle. Allow to dry for 1-2 hours. Drop noodles one at a time into boiling water or soup (after everything else in the soup is cooked). Cook in boiling water for 5-7 minutes.

“Mother could make a Banana Cream Pie from one banana. I don't know how she did it, but I can remember.”

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My aunts Edna and Helen each tell this tale, recalling the thin slices that Lucie stretched into a shared memory over 60 years ago. Even though food was often scarce, Lucie could still create something delicious from that one banana, the rest of the ingredients ubiquitous to a farm wife with a cow and chickens in the back yard

The legend has inscribed itself onto my own memory, even though Lucie left twenty years before I was born.

And none of her pie recipes are written down.

“Well no, because that’s something she just knew” is my aunts’ answer to this.  In Lucie’s kitchen, pie was more than a recitation of ingredients; it was a gathering of experience: how to handle a crust just right, how much thickener to add, how to cook it through without burning the edges.

You don’t need to write down what you make by heart.

For a while I was disappointed that Lucie left no written record of one of her hallmarks. But then I realized the most important ingredients had been handed to me:

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So in honor of Lucie I made a Banana Cream Pie this morning, with pieces of recipes from different authors, and with just one banana. My pie skills aren’t legendary, but I can pass down what I know.

Banana Cream Pie

Pie Crust
from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ pound cold butter
3 to 5 Tbsp ice water, as needed

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl, then cut in the butter, using your fingers or two knives, until it resembles coarse meal. [I use the pastry paddle on my mixer]. Lightly stir in the water a tablespoon at a time until you can bring the dough together in a ball. If crumbs remain on the bottom, add a few drops of water so that you can pull them together as well. Shape the dough into a disk and roll it out into a circle ⅛ inch thick. If the dough is so warm that it's sticky, refrigerate it for 15 minutes, then roll it out.

Becky's notes: Line a 9-inch pie pan with the dough and crimp edges. Prick the bottom several times with a fork. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes. Cool at room temperature.

Filling
from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know

Ingredients:

4 large egg yolks
⅔ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp. salt
3 cups milk
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sweetened whipped cream

Beat egg yolks with fork in small bowl. Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in 2-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Immediately stir at least half of the hot mixture gradually into egg yolks; stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap onto filling in saucepan. Refrigerate until room temperature.

Slice 2 bananas [or one, in a pinch] into pie shell. Pour filling over bananas. Press plastic wrap onto filling. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until set.

Remove plastic wrap. Top pie with sweetened whipped cream. Garnish with banana slices if desired. Immediately refrigerate any remaining pie after serving.

 

See more about my pie life here. Coming soon: Sue's first pumpkin pie.

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  A spicy sweet dilly flavor fills my kitchen this week, letting visitors know that pickles are afoot in this house.

pickles

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 Lucie’s collection includes 15 recipes for pickles. Fifteen. It’s like the Bubba Gump version of pickles. Dill pickles, split pickles, sweet pickles. . . .

Because I am a recovering perfectionist I didn't try to tackle all of them this year.  I stuck with my staple recipes (dill and relish) and branched out with a couple of new ones. In summation:

Nine Day Pickles: This was the most intimidating recipe but turned out to be the most fun. First there was the floating of the egg. Then each day after that was just a little bit of work that I multi-tasked while making breakfast or washing dishes. No big deal. The result was a strong sweet pickle that will go well with meat or, if you’re fancy, on a charcuterie board.  And by the way, an ounce of celery seed is a LOT.

Pickle Relish: This sweet relish is my main bribing tool for a select group of sausage-loving friends. I know that it sounds weird because relish isn’t one of those things that you dream about, but this is some serious stuff. Sorry folks, no recipe at this time. You must be in my inner circle.

Lazy Wife Pickles: These were weird. Yes, they were easy to make, but the recipe calls for a cup (a full cup!) of ground mustard. It never fully dissolved. The powder just hung suspended in the liquid; I am guessing it should really be mustard seed instead. Next time.

'Pickle Roundup
Dill Pickles: Ah, the dill pickle. I used to buy seasoning kits but simple is best: salt, dill, maybe a clove a garlic, and diluted vinegar. And Aunt Helen’s tip to boil the packed jars in a water bath just until the cucumbers change color, about 7 minutes, guarantees a crisp crunch. But don’t sue me for that because it doesn’t follow the safety rules of Cook Your Food Until It Is Entirely Mushy, Tasteless, and Sterile. It’s just an idea you might try if you’re dangerous. Like me after this week.

Aunt Helen's Dill Pickles

1 pt. cider vinegar
1 cup canning salt
2 1/4 qt. water
2 stalks dill

Bring vinegar, salt, and water to a boil. Pour over pickles that are packed in a jar with dill. Seal with hot lids. Process in water bath just until they turn lighter.