Edible Antics

Touring Wisconsin Food

Tag: cookbooks

Favorite Recipes of 2010

As 2010 comes to an end, everyone seems to be reminiscing about their yearly favorites: favorite news stories, favorite YouTube videos,  and here at Edible Antics we’re thinking about our favorite recipes! Narrowing them down to 10 favorites wasn’t easy, but I hope you like the tasty results of the first half of our favorite recipes list.

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Foods Human Grasshoppers Can Cook And Eat During A Wisconsin Winter Blizzard

Last weekend as I waited for Kay to get her coat I chatted with her husband, Dan, who was busy prepping and testing his snow-blower.“That’s pretty wise,” I acknowledged. “Yep, winter is coming, no doubt we’ll all be blowing snow soon.” Dan was scurrying like the proverbial ant, getting his garage and vehicles set for winter. He waved, “Have a good time!” as Kay and I frolicked off to enjoy a holiday bazaar. This grasshopper knew I should be checking on my own snow-blower, but well, there was always tomorrow.

Tomorrow hit Wisconsin on Tuesday afternoon. The record-breaking blizzard blew in and dumped roughly a foot and a half of snow on us in 12 hours. On Wednesday, schools and businesses closed, even the University of Wisconsin – Madison closed. The Wisconsin state government offices closed. We were down for the count until we all dug or blew our way out.

And while digging, I mentally composed this post. And since there was so much snow, you might notice that this post is a bit longer than the others. Now let me say that I was fortunate in one sense; I had just enough gas in the snow-blower to clear a minimal swath down the driveway for the car to exit the garage. But at the base of the drive loomed a blockade of hip-high snow. Thanks to the snow plows, we would not be driving anywhere until all this snow moved five feet over. As I shoveled, I considered what I would feed us. We had some left-overs by the grace of luck rather than pre-meditated industry. But after that? What would we eat? This is when I realized that few foods specified in a recipe are written in stone. Substitutions are always acceptable, perhaps not flavorful, but none-the-less, acceptable. If you want to read about the tasty substitutions, read the introduction to the cookbook, Mom’s Updated Quick Meals Recipe Box: 250 family favorites in thirty minutes or less, written by nutritionist and chef, Donna L. Weihofen, R.D. If, for a lark, you want to read what I consider acceptable substitutions during a Wisconsin blizzard, click on “continue reading…”

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Thanksgiving – Thanks for the Recipes, Thanks for the Fun! Here Are Some Great Wisconsin Cookbooks In Return

Thanks for one year of food fun! Yes, Edible Antics is a year old. Who knew I'd be cooking in public? Some people shouldn't; I'm one of them. But I get paid to do it, and as you know, anyone can have blog.

So instead of telling you the latest story of what I've burned  or what questionably-edible concoction I've forced on my family, I want to thank the food bloggers and cookbook writers who've definitely improved my cooking over this past year.

First, the food bloggers. Google shows 52,600,000 food blogs in the blogosphere. Can't say I've been to all of them. And most of the ones I've visited I don't leave comments on. It's not that I'm not thankful for the delicious recipes and professional-styled food pics I see, it's just that I have nothing especially interesting to say that other commenters haven't already written. But just so I don't appear a rude voyeur, to all of you 52,599,000 other food bloggers out there: "WOW! YOUR FOOD LOOKS YUMMY! THANKS FOR THE RECIPE!"

But a special thanks goes to the food bloggers who go to the extra trouble to hold recipe round-ups. I enjoy participating in them. They get me thinking about food as art rather than quick, family fuel. Sharing a cooking theme with others is a lot more fun than cooking alone. So thank you. Listed in alphabetical order are the bloggers whose round-ups I've enjoyed:

Adventures in Gluttony

Art You Eat

Coffee and Vanilla

Food Blogga

Lucullian Delights – An Italian Experience

Ruth's Kitchen Experiment

Sweet and Simple Bakes Recipes

Wild Yeast

Winos and Foodies And a special thanks to Barbara who has used her Winos and Foodies blog to bring encouragement and financial support to people suffering from cancer. Barbara is again fighting her own cancer battle.She's losing the strength to cook and write. Her appetite is fading. But the joy of life bubbling in her blog posts and pictures is always alive in the perennial blogosphere. Barbara's enthusiasm for the good life has drawn reader after reader to her site. And now they write back, offering support. At my last look, 72 people have commented on her most recent post, wishing her well.

And that's the incredible thing about blogs. We write them alone; we read them alone. But we do it because we are not alone. We help each other cook; we help each other laugh; we help each other hang in there.

It's sort of a speeded-up version of what traditional cookbooks have always done. The cookbooks I've enjoyed most are those in which the author tells stories about cooking food. The stories bring alive the special people who created the recipes, and the loved ones with whom they shared it at family celebrations.

Here are some of my favorites in no particular order:


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What to Do When Everyone at a Sit-down Family Dinner Won’t Sit Down: -Transforming Left-over Roast Chicken into Chicken Salad

Far too often, I menu plan, shop, and prepare a meal to find out at the last minute that someone in the family won’t be at the table. Outside commitments, busy work schedules, and even the “I’m not hungry, I had a late lunch'” are the primary saboteurs to our sit-down, family dinners. OK, so tomorrow we have left-overs, no biggie, right?

Unfortunately, wrong. You see, I’d already planned for left-overs. My cooking strategy has been to cook new dinners on nights #1 and #2, and then serve their left-overs on night #3. But if we have left-over left-overs, we then have night #4’s dinner and, inevitably, disgruntled eaters. What to do?

I’ve started being a bit more creative. More frequently, I’m cooking plain ham or chicken which will return in the future either disguised in a sauce or infiltrating a casserole. (I have to be careful with casseroles, however. If too many disparate foods touch each other I get the “Ewwww!” response from my scrutinizing children.)

So here’s my latest left-over re-creation: chicken salad. Tuesday night’s (and Thursday night’s) left-over roast chicken is now Friday’s chicken salad. But I am heartened to say, it is not any old chicken salad. I made it according to the Chicken Almond Salad recipe from The Ovens of Brittany Cookbook written by Madison chef, Terese Allen.

(Notice in the picture the left-over deviled eggsWaste not, want not.)

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Cooking 19th-Century Recipes on a Wood-stove!- Fun to Try at Old World Wisconsin, but Thanks for the Gas!

I like my stove. It’s a gas stove. I turn a dial and flames appear as high or as low as I like. The burners are exceptionally easy to clean. Inside the oven, the temperature will be whatever I set it. Heat can flow from the top or bottom elements, whichever I choose. I can pop raw food in, walk away, forget it, and later a timer will beep to alert me that the cooking is complete.  Plus, to clean my oven, I need only to pull a lever and press a button. Three hours later, the food that had spilled in the oven is history. How fortunate I am to cook in the 21st century.

Twenty years ago a few of my friends lived in remote cabins high up in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Their stoves were wood-burning. We all admired Alyssa’s mastery of her wood-stove. She could  manipulate a fire to be whatever heat she wanted, in which ever part of the stove she wanted. She could simultaneously bake bread in the oven, cook a pot of stew on the stove-top, and warm other foods in the warming compartments above. Alyssa enjoyed her wood-stove immensely. Some of my other friends weren’t so skilled. Their fires took a long time to light, and they could only prepare a few dishes with any reliability. As a result, these friends either ate cold food or at our house.

Wood-stoves are obviously slow to “turn on”, sooty and difficult to clean. I try to imagine how much earlier I would have to rise in the morning if I had to prepare my family’s breakfast on one. We’d probably eat a lot of cold food too, and my kids would regularly munch granola bars on the school bus.

Typically today, when we think of cooking over a fire, we picture a man relaxing next to his grill. What a modern image, especially considering that for centuries women manned the fire beneath the food. Yet still, contemplation of cooking on a wood-stove is tinged with nostalgia, false notions that life was simpler, and, for some, a heavy dose of curiosity.

For the curious, Old World Wisconsin in Waukesha County is offering wood-stove cooking workshops on April 12 and April 26. In a 19th-century setting, participants will learn the basics of wood-stove cooking as they prepare three historic recipes. Old World Wisconsin’s workshops are a fun, hands-on way to glimpse the everyday lives of our great-great grandparents. In May, the beautiful grounds and historic homes of Old World Wisconsin open for general touring and become a fun destination for families curious about 19th-century Wisconsin life.

19th-century cooking is on my mind today because I’ve been reading A Literary Feast: Recipes and Writings by American Women Authors from History. The historic recipes in this cookbook were culled from the novels, essays, and cookbooks comprising the William B. Cairns Collection of American Women Writers (1650-1920) which can be found in the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Memorial Library, Department of Special Collections. Peppered among the recipes are excerpts from these American women authors’ works which supply a historical backdrop for each dish.

Yesterday I tried making one of the recipes. For the first time I attempted lemon rice pudding. The recipe came from Mary Ronald’s 1896 cookbook entitled The Century Cook Book. It sounded easy to make, and it was. But boy was it time-consuming, – a lot of stirring, and I even had an electric mixer! But it was delicious! I topped the lemon rice pudding with a lemon meringue, and the flavors were light, sweet, and tart. My family decided it was a “real company dish!” 

Keep reading to see pictures and the recipe.

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