Tag Archives: Birthdays

Happy Birthday, Pappa!

June 18th was Father’s Day in 1933.

It was also the day my father was born, which made a certain amount of sense when I was little  –  why wouldn’t fathers be born on Father’s Day?  (My mother was christened that same day in Italy, which is the start of the connections between the two of them…..)

And he  LOVED Chinese food.

chinese-take-outLike blue eyes and curly hair (what was left of it) this was such a fundamental part of who he was and what he did,  that I never asked, nor do I remember anyone else ever once asking,

“Chinese food? What is about Chinese food, Bill? Why Chinese food? How does an Irish boy learn about Chinese food”

Good questions…wish I’d thought of them sooner. Not only was  Chinese food the treat of treats, it brought him into the kitchen after he retired.

He had a wok.

Serious Wok action. This was the attitude, if not the reality.

Serious Wok action. This was the attitude, if not the reality of the ancestral home cooktop.

For a very long time, perhaps as far back as the ’70’s, a paperback copy of  “The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking” by Madame Grace Zia Chu has been kicking around .Chinese Cooking larger

Several recipes have markers….but the basic of the basics is Fried Rice.

HAM FRIED RICE

2 Tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon sugar

2 eggs

4 tablespoons peanut or corn oil, divided

¼ cup scallions cut into ¼ inch pieces

4 cups cold boiled rice

½ cup diced cooked ham

  1. Mix the soy sauce with the sugar. Set aside.
  2. Beat the eggs and scramble them slightly in 1 Tablespoon of the oil. Set aside.
  3. In a heavy frying pan or a wok heat 3 tablespoons of oil over high heat.
  4. Add scallions and stir a few times
  5. Add rice and stir quickly so that rice won’t stick to the pan and will be well coated with the oil
  6. Add the soy sauce/sugar mix, stir well.
  7. Add the ham and the slightly scrambled egg, mixing and breaking the eggs into little pieces in the rice.
  8. Serve hot.

NOTES: The rice needs to be THOROUGHLY cold or all you’ll get is a sticky mess. Madame Chu’s note and my experience. Brown rice may be used for a more hippie version, just be sure that the rice is cooked thoroughly.

Cooked chicken or beef may be substituted for the ham.

The original recipe does not call for a wok, but I think they’re a little more common now, so if you got one, go ahead and use it.

The original calls for ¼ teaspoon MSG, which I stopped using years, make that decades, ago. If that departure from the recipe makes it Irish/Chinese fusion, so be it. Call the Food Police. Guilty as charged.

Serves 4.

Grace Zia Chu. The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking. Pocket Books, March 1969. p.51.

Fried_rice

Save

Leave a comment

Filed under Birthday, Books, Irish, Perception ways, The 1970's

Birthday Casserole

Because a certain someone has a BIRTHDAY TODAY …and one of his ulterior motives to help me with the technical aspects of a blog was to have access to his favorite recipes….another of Grandma B’s recipes.

Mrs. Granatowicz’s Casserole

(Mrs. G was a LEIGH, NEBR- neighbor-)

A JACOB Favorite

1 ½ lbs. hamburger

1 C chopped celery

1 C chopped onion

2 Tb Oil or Butter

1 sm can mushrooms chopped

1 can cream of mushroom Soup undiluted

1 can cream of Chicken Soup undiluted

1 can Chinese Noodles

  1. brown onions & celery in butter
  2. mix soups together Add the above to soups.
  3. brown hamburger , then add #1 & 2

You can add ½ can bean sprouts or/& water chestnuts. I usually DO NOT. Also, you can leave out the can of mushrooms – I usually use these.

  1. Place in casserole
  2. Top w/ Chinese Noodles.
  3. BAKE 350° for 25 to 30 MIN – until heated through. I have a friend who uses Chicken in place of hamburger.

From Jeanette Burrey, I didn’t date the year she gave me the box, but this was in the box….

Back in the day, Chinese noodles meant one thing - THESE things. Now, there's quite a variety of noodles called Chinese

Back in the day, Chinese noodles meant one thing – THESE things. Now, there’s quite a variety of noodles called Chinese, but these are the one I’m talking about today

The beauty of this casserole is that it is also a last minute Express Lane Special. I usually have celery and onions on hand, it’s the hamburger and the soups – the crema – and the noodles that I need to grab and go. One short list, 10 items or fewer.and a quick mix up and pop in the oven once home. A salad and a bowl of fruit….even better if it’s pineapple chunks you eat with toothpicks or a mango, cut up hedgehog style – OK, 2 more things to pick up.

Open can, pour into a bowl, stick some toothpick in the hunks, happy child at the end of a meal

Open can, pour into a bowl, stick some toothpick in the hunks, happy child at the end of a meal

cut in half, discard pit (or try to root it - I got a little shoot growing out once, but then the cats played wit it one night...)and then cut slices one and and across but not through the skin - pop up and serve...with extra napkins  - mangoes are JUICY

cut in half, discard pit (or try to root it – I got a little shoot growing out once, but then the cats played wit it one night…)and then cut slices one and and across but not through the skin – pop up and serve…with extra napkins – mangoes are JUICY

Jacob and me

Happy Birthday!

Leave a comment

Filed under 1990's, Birthday, Recipe

bits and pieces

 apl-bite Finished reading The Book Lover’s Cookbook booklovers CBapl-biteI’ve long thought about cookbooks and recipe files to go with different books….part of the

you are what you eat – especially if you’re fiction

thinking.

apl-biteErle  Stanley Gardner and Perry Mason…steak, Scotch and baked potatoes

ESG DA cooks

This might be a good place to start, even if no actual goose is involved.

Earl Stanley Gardnerbooks

There are over 80 volumes in the series, so it could take a while, reading them, collecting the references, looking up appropriate period recipes, testing them…..

apl-biteTotally random bit : Erle Stanley Gardner was born in Malden Massachusetts in 1889.

And he really was a lawyer, in California.

Erle is an odd ball enough spelling of his name to keep him as a crossword puzzle clue for generations.

apl-biteLaura ‘Half-Pint’ Ingalls Wilder from the Little House on the Prairie is mentioned .She already has a cookbook of her own.LittleHouseCookbook apl-biteAlmond macaroons – the Italian ones, made of almonds, (not French one O macaron  or the coconut ones, which are good) ….are a very good thing.

Almond-Macaroon

Easy Almond Macaroons by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on January 13, 2013

Almond macaroons are also known as  ‘squishy cookies’ (at least in my family) Here’s a link to a recipe or find a good Italian baker. apl-bite

Family party which include my mother and her cousins discussing the best sfogliatella…..

Sfogliatelle_pic

Sfoglitella – flaky pastry from southern Italy

Evidently the best  these days is  in San Diego or Naples….again, a treat you buy and don’t make at home. There are a number of videos on YouTube, but once you start calling them ‘Lobster Tails’ you’re already too far from the source to be taken too seriously. And none of them are being done by home cooks or Nonnas.

apl-biteWhat do Italians talk about when they sit at the table with food?

Other food.

Food we have had, food we remember, food we would like to make or eat or improve. Who made it, who else was there, who ate with us. Before there were foodies, there were Italians.

apl-biteI’ve also been watching Bluebloods. Almost every episode has at least one scene of the whole family, all four generations, seated around a totally enormous table.

Everyone gathered. Everyone talking. But this is an Irish family, not an Italian one.

Bluebloods, the Regan clan gathered round the dinner table

Bluebloods, the Regan clan gathered round the dinner table

What do the Irish talk about around the table? Politics. Work.

Not so much food, except to pass the dish or clear off at the end of the meal.Also pretty true.

And last but not least, a piece of Birthday Cake, for the family June birthdays.

cake_slice

A piece of cake

Leave a comment

Filed under Birthday, Books, Irish, Italian

Dark and Handsome

happy birthday candles

Someone has a birthday….OK, we ALL have birthdays, whether we acknowledge them or not , but SOMEONE has a birthday today….and birthdays need cake.

Some people have particular cakes that they share for birthdays. Some people have favorites that are extra special for special occasions, but if you say, “BIRTHDAY CAKE” the only constant will be the candles. And even that isn’t always the same.

800px-Blue_candles_on_birthday_cake

Make a wish!

Birthday cake is made special by the occasion of the birthday.  But sometimes the “This Day in History” makes you want the day to go by quickly….

On January 30th

in 1649

Charles I of England was executed

charles1_execution in 1948 – Mahatma Gandhi assassinated in New Delhi
in 1968 – The Viet Cong launched begin the Tet Offensive.
in 1969 The Beatles make their last public performance. (BTW -it was so NOT Yoko’s fault) and then in 1972 – Bloody Sunday  – you get the sad and sorry picture.

So this is a day the needs cake, birthday or no birthday.

One of the cookbooks I first bought when I went out on my own (and I’m pretty sure I got this at Woolworths, no less) was

Manners Quick and easy

RuthAnn Manners and William Manners The Quick and Easy Vegetarian Cookbook .

40s-old_woolworthsPlymouth MA

Woolworth’s in downtown Plymouth a few year before I went shopping there

Woolworth’s photo from http://www.jabezcorner.com/phs63/pictures.html 

 Much of it was indeed quick and easy and also good, which wasn’t always, or even often, the case in the late 70’s and early 80’s vegetarian cookbooks. That goes for quick and easy, but especially GOOD. There was a whole lot of far too undercooked brown rice in the ’60’s and ’70’s.

Their chocolate pound cake was what my not-crazy-about-frosting brother had as his birthday cake for several years. It’s also a good anytime cake. Ice cream or whipped cream are referred to as lily-gilders by the Manners, and they’re right – it doesn’t need heavy dairy products to be good, but it can make the day much better.

They call their chocolate pound cake Dark and Handsome…..what more could a girl ask for?

Dark and Handsome

A chocolate pound cake

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°
  2. Grease a* 8 ½ x 4 ½ x2 ½ inch loaf pan.
  3. 3.   Then in a Pyrex measuring** cup melt 1- 1 oz square unsweetened chocolate with 1 Tablespoon butter (I now use the microwave…)
  4. Sift together 1 cup AP flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
  5. Crack 1 egg into the now not so terribly hot chocolaty melt and stir it in.
  6. Add milk (approximately ¾ cup) so that the chocolate/butter/egg milk equals one cup.
  7. Add the wets to the drys and mix thoroughly – no streaks.
  8. Scrape into the greased pan.
  9. Bake about 40-45 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool on a rack and remove from the pan.  Serves 8. OR
  11. Eat directly from the pan with a spoon while still warm. Serves one (on a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which will then be made significantly better.)

*Spellcheck wants to make this a an an and I disagree.

**or melt it in a whatever/however  and scrape it into a 1 cup measure to continue OR just mix in 3/4 cup of milk with the butter, chocolate and beaten egg and call it a day.

bakers-squares-375

Walter Baker’s – local chocolate – Pa Flynn worked there – not designer or artisanal, but the one I reach for.

Leave a comment

Filed under Birthday, Holiday, The 1980's