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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.

Helen-Clyde-wedding-party
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.

 

When I think of Aunt Edna, she’s laughing. She spins off a one-liner, claps her hands one time and does a little kick while everyone busts out in laughter. Usually she will tap the person next to her and whisper a few more observations loud enough for everyone to hear, and the party goes on.

The number one recipe requested by my cousins for our family cookbook project is by far my Aunt Edna’s Scalloped Corn. The dish brings grown men to tears.

Scalloped Corn

And by far, this has been the toughest one to pin down, because when you make a thing for 60-plus years, the word “recipe” doesn’t apply.

When you know something well, you cease to measure ingredients.

I wanted to make sure I was making the Scalloped Corn just right, so I made an appointment to learn from the master. She gave me more than a recipe:

When you watch a person, you get a feel for what they are aiming at. Edna very plainly wants everyone to know that they are loved. Praise and I-love-you’s and hugs spill over from her heart to yours, and you walk away wanting to come back for more.

Maybe that’s the secret ingredient that makes everyone beg for this dish.

Tracing the Lineage of a Recipe: Edna was given this recipe by her mother Lucie, who we are pretty sure received it from her mother Chloe Hamilton. Edna remembers her cousin John (Lucie’s sister Mary’s son, if you follow) bringing Scalloped Corn to a family function “and it tasted exactly like mine.”  Chloe must have been the common thread. Edna’s granddaughter Bethany makes it now, adding a little brown sugar to her version. Five generations of a family recipe.

Edna’s Scalloped Corn

3 8-oz. cans creamed corn
½ cup sugar
½ cup milk
3 eggs
1 ½ sleeves of saltine crackers, crushed
2 Tbsp butter

Mix the corn, sugar, milk, and eggs. Reserve ½ cup of the cracker crumbs, and add the rest to the mixture. Pour into an oven-safe dish. Sprinkle the crackers on top and dot with butter. Bake at 350° for  45-60 minutes, until mixture is solid and golden brown on top.

3 Comments

 

Piccalilli piccalilli piccalilli: say it out loud. That's the reason I picked this recipe. 

Picalilli relish condiment canning recipe vegetables cabbage tomatoes preserved food garden
Picalilli: this relish pairs perfectly with meat.

This is a meat condiment with a tangy mustard flavor. I tried it with some leftover chicken and WOW it knocked my socks off. And last night I snuck it onto the table next to my husband's pork loin, and got a pretty good response from friends. Kate from England used to eat it as a kid, and her Mum called it Mustard Pickle.

I call it delicious.

Like salsa, Piccalilli recipes vary widely and are often centered around peppers and cabbage. Versions using green tomatoes like this recipe hail from the South and go by the name Chow Chow—another great name! Kate from England remembers pearled onions and cauliflower.

The moral of the story: all the vegetables that are about to frost, plus cabbage and mustard.

Imagine cooking in the 1940's, when you had a slew of kids and no refrigeration and not a lot time. My aunts tell of "harvesting" a chicken for dinner— not the plastic wrapped convenience of a grocery store we enjoy today. Forget about luxurious obsessions over sauces or 3-step cooking processes on a typical day; all of your time was spent plucking and gutting the bird.

Roasting or boiling was plenty.

Plus, in the dead of winter fresh vegetables were scarce at the grocery. You were probably tired of the stored onions and root vegetables in the cellar.

So you crack open a jar of the Piccalilli that you put up back in September right before the first frost killed your tomatoes and peppers, and voila!

Fast food, 1940’s style:

Ingredients
½ peck firm green tomatoes
6 cups chopped cabbage
6 cups chopped green bell peppers
4 cups chopped sweet red peppers
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped white onions
1 cup salt
1 cup white sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
6 cups vinegar
1/3 cup white mustard seed
2 Tbl cinnamon
1 Tbl celery seed
1 Tbl black pepper
1 Tbl yellow mustard seed
¼ tsp paprika

Wash and remove blossom ends from tomatoes. Finely chop and mix all vegetables. Add salt and let stand overnight or 6-8 hours. Drain well by pouring into a colander.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Boil 3 minutes. Lower heat to a slow boil, uncovered, until thick (about 30 minutes). Process in pint jars.

Yields 10 pts.

NOTES:

Salt: This recipe did not say to rinse the salt off after soaking. I have seen recipes do it either way. In this case I left the salt on.

Mustard: From my research I think that the recipe’s “white” seeds are Brassica alba, the most common mustard seed on store shelves. The "yellow” seems to be brown, the type used in Dijon mustard. If you can find it, by all means try it, but don't let that stop you from trying this out.