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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Entries in recipe (5)


    COG Food for Thought: The Day Herman Came to Visit

    COG108 Food

    Mom had a reputation as a very good cook, but she also had a strange fondness for bizarre and offbeat recipes. Actually, more like weird recipes that tasted good. She was the first Mom I knew to wink and serve the fad dessert, "Better Than Sex Cake." I was too young to know if that was true, but the cake was delicious.

    I especially remember a cooking fever for all things made with a fermented starter. Regular sourdough starter was too tame, and Mom soon graduated to something called the Herman Cake. This was a sweet dough mixture that bubbled and burped in a glass jar, growing gray and slimey as it grew in power. The recipes were clipped from newspaper columns and carefully copied to little decorated index cards to be traded with other church ladies.

    Herman Cake was one of those miracle foods that could expand Biblically to feed multitudes of starving people. The only problem was that after the meal, Herman didn't know when to go home. He continued to hang around in the refrigerator, demanding attention every few days. If neglected, his open face started to form a dry crust, and the bulk of his body started to separate into a watery sludge and a grainy brine. Opening the Frigidaire door to grab a glass of milk became a game. Don't look, don't look. Pretend Herman isn't there begging for milk, sugar, flour, stirring.

    Herman's greatest virtue was his downfall. The sweet sourdough base could be used to make almost any kind of bread or cake -- pancakes, waffles, rolls, bread, apple coffee cake, cookies, even Devil's Food Cake and Upside-Down Cake. All you needed was Herman, and ten days. Never mind that everything tasted uniquely, well, like Herman.

    Herman was a demanding guest with strict dietary regulations. On the day Herman arrived, he needed to be fed 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup sugar. Five days later, he had to be fed again. Finally, on the tenth day, one cup of the mixture was removed for baking, and the remainder reserved to grow. It was an endless cycle. After two or three rounds of feeding, baking, feeding, Mom would remove the extra cup of batter and pass it on with a recipe and a smile, "Here's Herman. What fun." But, at home, in the Frigidaire, Herman lurked behind the pickles and milk, a reminder of parental responsibility, "Don't forget to feed Herman." "Oops, how many days has it been since we fed Herman?"

    Mom's original recipe for Herman Cake is a typed version with handwritten reminders.

    6/22 Tues. Feed Herman
    Thur  Feed
    6/26 Sat 5th Day! Feed

    Typically, Mom seems to have added an interim feeding every-other day. She never could stand to see anyone hungry. Or maybe, she just wanted to speed things along and have more wonderful Herman starter to share with her friends.

    Eventually, Herman outgrew his welcome, and moved on to other refrigerators. I thought he was a relic of the past until almost twenty years later when I was married and the mother of two always-hungry sons. I wondered, What ever happened to Herman? Mom still had the recipe, but the directions only covered care and feeding, not how to create the spark of life that was Herman.

    Twenty years must be some kind of life-cycle for food fads and recipes. Suddenly, in 1982 Herman was splashed across the newspaper food section, "Sweet Herman's Fans Growing and Growing." Herman was back with not only one original starter recipe, but three versions: one to create a five-day starter and two for ten-day mixes. It was Herman Heaven.

    Excited to recreate this memory from my childhood, I dutifully stirred together flour, sugar, milk, and yeast. As promised, and as remembered, the soft mass came to life, bubbling, burping, and and growing. We ate Herman pancakes, Herman Cake, Herman bread. And then, one day, Herman was pushed to the back of the sleek double door fridge and lost behind the orange juice and olives. By the time an unpleasant and unnatural odor led to the discovery of his jar, it was too late for Herman. May he Rest In Peace.

    HermanCake001 web





    Feeling Adventurous? Mom's Recipe for Fish Eye Salad

    If you looking for the recipe for Fish Eye Salad, look no further. It's here! My blogging platform offers nicely organized statistics and search engine queries to show what kinds of web searches bring folks here, but this one was truly a surprise, especially since I'd forgotten all about Mom's promise to share this dish.

    Sweet fruit salads have always been a hallmark of our family gatherings, so I shouldn't have been surprised when Mom came up with a variation on the theme. Instead of the usual jello with cottage cheese and fruit, however, Mom contributed Fish Eye Salad, made with teeny-mini pasta, whipped topping, and pineapple. Some people have mistaken the pasta for tapioca, but the little round pasta holds the sauce and adds a certain substance to the dish.

    Mom must have known the recipe by heart because I couldn't find it with her other favorites. Fortunately, my sister had a copy, and even adds that it is really a good summer salad for a buffet. Maybe it will be a new favorite at  your house too!

    Suzanne's Fish Eye Salad

    1-1/3 cup "Acini di pepe" pasta – uncooked
    20 oz. pineapple tidbits – drain saving 1/4 cup of the juice
    1-3/4 cup milk
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 sm pkg instant vanilla pudding
    8 oz. can crushed pineapple – drained
    22 oz. mandarin oranges – drained
    2 cup cool whip
    3 cup mini marshmellows
    1/2 cup flaked coconut

    Cook pasta 11 minutes.  Rinse with cold water & drain.
    Beat together milk, sugar, pudding and jthe reserved 1/4 cup of pineapple juice for 2 minutes.
    Add & mix all remaining ingredients together.
    Cover & refrigerate at least 5 hours



    Looking for a Frog-Eye Salad Recipe?

    Someone out in the Blogosphere found The Family Curator this week while searching for "frog eye salad with minute tapioca", but the only reference I can find is in a comment posted to this article, originally published in July 2009. The comment was from my Mom, Suzanne Freeman, because she thought her recipe for Cherry Delight needed a few more instructions. 

    Mom would not want anyone to miss one of her prize recipes, so I will try to find her copy of the famous Frog Eye Salad. It's just another example of strange and mysterious search phrases, but where-ever you are... come back soon.

    Writing a Family Cookbook is a Recipe for Memories

    My copy of our family cookbook is falling apart. The back cover is loose, several pages are torn from the binding, and food stains mark our favorites throughout. It is my only copy, all others having been given away to new brides and family and friends in the past twelve years. As I told my sister this week, maybe it’s time for a new edition.

    Volume One of Food We Like was a simple publication. Photocopied on one side of a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper and cut down to 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, our biggest challenge was figuring out the page order. Deanna and I punched three holes in the side margin and tied the 42 pages together with green ribbon. People liked it.

    After eight years, our food tastes had changed and we thought we needed an update. Color copies were out of our budget, but we used black and white images from our childhood and our motherhood to illustrate over 140 of our favorite family recipes. We creatively named it, Food We Like, Volume Two Among the favorites were memorable recipes for Gin Fizz inexplicably made with vodka, Layered Bean Dip, Maynard’s Swedish Meatballs, Toad In the Hole, Boys Favorite Coffee Cake, Dan’s Garlic Soup, and Kip’s Grilled Steelhead Trout, plus desserts like our real Red Velvet Cake, Harvey Wallbanger Cake, and Cherry Cobbler.

    We included recipes contributed from every branch of our combined family trees and from many friends with a list of names and relationships, a “Who’s Who in The Cookbook.” We included a Table of Contents and carefully detailed Index. Surprisingly, we were not contacted by a publisher for reprint rights.

    The memories of writing the cookbooks are as special as the recipes. My sister and I decided to collaborate on the project, but it wasn’t until we were halfway through it that she admitted her husband, Kip, did most of the cooking at their house. I didn’t know that! Times change, however, and I think she has taken over that task. Maybe it’s time for Volume Three. Thank goodness we don’t have to choose a new title, Food We Like seems to have done the job quite well.

    Here is an old favorite from our mom, Suzanne. I seem to remember a delicious dessert. Maybe we can coax her into making it to serve at the next SCGS Jamboree!

    Cherry Delight

    Suzanne remembers… the last time I made this was in the early ‘60’s. We were invited to spend the weekend with friends in Big Bear. On the way up the mountain, an unexpected storm struck and the snow was so heavy that chains were required. Of course we were not prepared, not could we find any chains available for rent. I remember holding this dessert on my lap the whole way up and back since we couldn’t make it up the mountain. Needless to say we had Cherry Delight all week for dessert at home and I was so disappointed that we couldn’t make it up to visit our friends, that I haven’t made it since!

    2 cans red sour cherries
    1 can crushed pineapple
    1-1/2 cups sugar
    1/2 cup minute tapioca

    Drain cherries. Heat cherries and crushed pineapple with juice. Add sugar and tapioca to fruit and continue to cook; stir until medium thick. Set aside to cool.

    Crumble -
    1 cup butter
    2 cups flour
    1 cup oatmeal
    1 cup brown sugar
    1/2 tsp. baking soda
    1 cup bran flake cereal
    1 tsp. vanilla
    dash salt

    Mix crumble ingredients well. Put half crumble mixture in bottom of ungreased pan (size not stated). Add fruit misture, then top with remaining crumble. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.


    A Gift for You to Give Your Friends and Family, Merry Christmas Minestrone Soup Mix

    After years of cookie exchanges, jamfests, and baking extravaganzas, my friend Terry Jaurequi and I found a simple and delicious handmade gift for our friends and work colleagues. We get together to assemble an enormous batch of minestrone soup mix, which we then package for holiday delivery.

    Some years we have added a quick bread mix, or yummy crackers. Other times, we give the mix in a basket or tote bag with a  nice bottle of wine. We have found that our friends like the soup so well they start asking about it right after Thanksgiving.

    Since it is a little difficult to squeeze dried beans through the internet, here is a holiday gift to my genea-blogging friends -- the mix recipe and PDF package tag with cooking instructions ready for holiday gift-giving. Print the tag, assemble the mixes, and you are ready to go. It could be the ultimate re-gift! Stir up a batch of Merry Christmas Minestrone to cook while you make these gifts for your own friends, and enjoy. Bon Appetit!

    What You Need:

    • assorted dried beans, lentils, peas, etc. (1 1/2 cup per mix)
    • macaroni (1/2 cup per mix)
    • 2 sizes cellophane bags for packaging – small sucker size for macaroni, larger for mix
    • Merry Christmas Minestrone PDF cooking instructions to print and add to each mix

    A note on selecting beans – We try to use a nice variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Nine pounds of beans will yield about 14 packages of mix. We like to use black beans, red kidney beans, small white beans, pink beans, green and yellow split peas, lentils, garbanzos, baby limas, pinto. We buy at least 1 pound bags.

    To Assemble:

    Find a huge pot. I use my canning kettle so there is plenty of room to mix things up. Dump in all the beans, peas, and legumes. Mix well using your hands.

    Use a glass 2-cup measuring cup to measure out about 1 1/2 cup of bean mixture and pour into the larger cello bag. A canning funnel is helpful for filling the bags. It’s also a good idea to set the bags in a roasting pan or some other container that will help them to stand upright.

    Pour 1/2 cup of macaroni to each of the smaller bags and fold the top over tightly. Staple closed if you like. Add the small bag of macaroni on top of the bean mixture in each bag.

    Fold the cooking instructions so that the name shows on the front with the recipe on the back and staple to the top of the bag. Add a ribbon or bow if you like; or place the bag inside a tote bag with colored tissue.

    Here is the recipe for each mix that is printed on the PDF, ready to cut and fold for your mixes.

    Merry Christmas Minestrone

    Cooking Instructions

    In addition to this mix, you will need

    7 cups water

    1 large can (28oz) ready-cut tomatoes, undrained

    1 small onion, chopped

    2 tsp. Italian seasoning

    4 cups assorted fresh vegetables, sliced

    1 can (8oz) tomato sauce

    1-2 cups water

    1 lb. cooked ground beef, Italian Sausage or chicken (optional)

    Put water in large pot and add bean portion of soup mix. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 1 to 1 ½ hours.

    Add canned tomatoes (undrained), onion, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil. Add vegetables, tomato sauce, additional water, and macaroni. Lower heat and cook until macaroni and vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add meat if desired, and heat through.

    Makes 6 to 8 hearty servings.


    A Holiday Tradition: Fire in the Kitchen!

    What is it about food and fire? Yes, fire gives us heat for succulent roasts and warm, fragrant bread. But it can do so much more. In our quest for deliciously unique sweet treat, our family's holiday meals often culminate with a Flaming Dessert.

    This tradition began over a decade ago when Crème Brulee was all the rage. Sure it's yummy, not too difficult to make, and (bonus) can be prepared ahead of time. We wanted drama, however, and decided to put the kids in charge of the presentation. They felt too old to give us a Christmas pageant, but the thought of using a blowtorch was acceptable.

    The formal Christmas Eve dinner was delicious, I am sure, although no one recalls the prime rib or Yorkshire pudding. What they all remember is the moment when 14-year-old Christian and 16-year-old Heather entered the dining room bearing a tray of custard desserts. Heather was dressed for the occasion in her dad's firefighting gear and thoughtfully carried a fire extinguisher. Christian pulled out his own dad's tool of the trade, a full-size construction blow torch.

    In less time than Santa could round up his reindeer, Christian ever so carefully, carmelized all 15 crème brulee desserts. Heather stood at the ready, but never needed to unlock her gear. The dessert was passed around, and received a round of applause. Success! Now, what about next year?


    Crème Brulee

    Serves 5

    2 cups whipping cream
    5 egg yolks
    ½ cup sugar
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
    Fresh raspberries and mint for garnish

    Combine first 4 ingredients, stirring with a wire whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Pour evenly into 5 (5x1-inch) round baking dishes; place dishes in a large roasting pan or a 15 x 11 x 1-inch jellyroll pan. Add hot water to a depth of ½-inch.

    Bake at 275 for 45 to 50 minutes or until almost set. Cool custards in water in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cover and chill at least eight hours.

    Sprinkle about 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar evenly over each custard; place custards on clean metal pan.

    Carmelize sugar with propane blow torch. Let stand a few minutes until sugar hardens. Garnish with fresh raspberries and sprigs of mint.

    Don't try this at home! The Family Curator accepts no responsibility for the actions described in this posting, and reminds the reader that fire is indeed very dangerous [see forthcoming post on "The Day Dede's Dress Caught Fire."]


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