This Father's Day:Tell him you love him with home cooking

 

Last updated 6/12/2008 at Noon



My father taught me many things. Among them is that he liked to eat and appreciated every morsel of food that anyone ever prepared for him.

Not that he couldn’t cook. I believe he could do any thing he set his mind to do. However, given his druthers, he’d be on the appreciation rather than the preparation side of life.

Daddy was a farmer and an engineer for the Santa Fe railroad. He had to eat in restaurants a lot. I think anything close to home cooking was fine with him. And, he seldom criticized any one’s efforts. Even if it was a “flop,” he’d have an encouraging word.

Vinegar pie? “Why not?” I thought, so I made it from a cookbook that was probably written for the food rationing time during World War II. It was billed as a “Mock Lemon Pie.”

Now, truth be told, a very small taste wasn’t bad. That’s what I thought when I licked the spoon that still had a bit of the pie filling on it. So, I filled the pie shell and awaited dessert time for all to exclaim of its heavenly (and cheap) merits. Wrong! It was horrid.


I can still remember it today. My father was quite kind. He said if a person was really hungry for dessert, they might like it.

So this is a bit of a love letter to my memory of my father and his family as we honor all fathers this Sunday.

Later this month there’s a family reunion I’ll be attending in Marceline, MO. I hope and pray those doing the cooking will make some of the old favorites. Meantime, here are some recipes my father would have eaten time and time again at Aunt Mildred’s home, something fixed by our cousin Patsy, my sister Carol or…even me.


Aunt Mildred was my father’s sister. I never heard a harsh word between them. People who knew them even longer than I said they just never fussed or fought. Daddy had a bit of a sweet tooth, so I’m sure Aunt Mildred would have these around the house when Daddy might drop in, as his turnaround town on the railroad was the family’s hometown and Mildred lived there her entire life.

½ cup sifted flour

2/3 cup sugar

½ tsp. salt

1/3 cup shortening

1 egg, unbeaten

2 (1-oz.) sq. unsweetened chocolate, melted

2 tsp. corn syrup

1 tsp. vanilla

2 ½ cups shelled peanuts

Stir flour, sugar and salt into bowl. Add shortening, egg, chocolate, corn syrup and vanilla; mix well. Add nuts. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls 1 inch apart on greased cookie. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 8 minutes. Cool cookies before removing to wire rack; they’re very tender when hot. Makes 3 dozen clusters.


My fascination with pie baking might have been because my father loved pie. This light and luscious lemon pie is a bit time consuming…and worth every effort and every calorie. It was also an unlikely winner of a recipe contest many years ago. Unlikely, I thought, because I dreamed it up the night before the contest!

22 graham cracker sq., crushed

¼ cup sugar

½ cup butter, melted

1 tbsp. lemon rind

1 tbsp. sugar

Filling:

2 cups sugar

7 tbsp. cornstarch

2 2/3 cup cold water

7 egg yolks

½ cup fresh lemon juice

Grated rind of 2 lemons

2 tbsp butter

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium to large saucepan. Mix well so there are no lumps. Stir in water. Blend egg yolks with fork. Blend into cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Blend in lemon juice, lemon rind and butter. Empty into bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.


When mixture is no longer warm to the touch, fold in whipped cream. Turn mixture into prepared pie crust and refrigerate overnight. (There may be about l cup extra filling. Refrigerate and serve as pudding.)

Our family was a DIY (Do It Yourself) kind of group. If you wanted a skirt, you made it. If you wanted strawberries, you grew them, and if you wanted bread, you baked it. Even today I recall my first loaves of bread at home after learning the basics of bread baking in my high school home economics class. They were really pathetic. But Daddy raved. I’ve loved making bread ever since. This recipe is one from Aunt Mildred, who told everyone, “You can do it.” She was the best encourager and nurturer in the whole family and a good baker, too.


3 ½ to 4 cups flour

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour

2 pkg. yeast

1 tbsp. salt

1 cup milk

1 cup water

½ cup honey

3 tbsp. shortening

1 egg

In large bowl, combine l cup white flour, all the whole wheat flour, yeast and salt. Mix well. In a saucepan heat milk, water, honey and shortening until warm. Shortening does not need to melt. Add to flour mixture; add egg. Blend at how speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed. By hand, gradually stir in remaining flour and make a firm dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl. Cover and let rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour; punch down. Divide into 2 parts. Shape into 2 loaves. Let rise until double in bulk, about 30 minutes. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. These can be made into rolls, too.

Here’s a simple supper soup that a young cook could prepare with adult supervision.

½ lb. ground beef

2 ½ cups cold water

1 can tomatoes, cut up

¾ cup sliced carrots

¾ cups sliced mushrooms

½ cup quick cooking barley (uncooked)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. dried oregano leaves

Salt and pepper

½ lb. Velveeta cheese, diced

Brown meat in a large saucepan; drain. Stir in water, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, barley, garlic and oregano. Bring to a boil and simmer until barley is tender. Season to taste. Add cheese; stir until cheese melts.

Patsy was the eldest granddaughter and with that came privileges and responsibilities. She had to set the standards for the younger ones. That she did and more. Though it was never said aloud, I believe Patsy was one of my dad’s favorite relatives. And, like her mom, she is a good cook. I love eating at Patsy’s house. You would, too. Here’s her recipe for Italian-style green beans.

2 cloves garlic

¼ cup olive oil

½ tsp. oregano

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

¼ tsp. sugar

1 cup diced tomato

¼ cup minced parsley

2 cups fresh green beans or 2 cans whole green beans

Sauté garlic in oil until golden. Remove garlic and add tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar. Simmer 15 minutes until blended and thick. Stir in parsley. While tomatoes are cooking, heat green beans and drain. Pour tomatoes over green beans and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

My sister Carol probably cooks as much or more than anyone I know. She is always trying something new, entertaining this group or another and more social than most. She loved to have Daddy come by for dinner and I’m sure he liked this combination of corn and oysters.

2 (10-oz.) cans condensed oyster stew

1 lb. can cream corn

1 lb. can whole kernel corn, drained

1 ¼ cups cracker crumbs

1 egg, slightly beaten

½ cup salt

1 or 2 cans oysters

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 tbsp. pimento strips

2 tbsp. melted butter

½ cup cracker crumbs

Combine oyster stew, oysters, corn, 1 ¼ cups cracker crumbs, egg, salt, pepper and pimento. Pour into greased 2 quart casserole dish. Combine butter and ½ cup cracker crumbs. Sprinkle around edge of corn mixture. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour or until knife comes out clean. Makes about 8 servings.

 

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