(post by Virginia Allain) Last year in the spring, I took cuttings from some sweet potatoes that sprouted in my pantry. Covering them with a little soil in my patio pots enabled them to start growing. Before long they sent out nice vines that trailed nicely down the sides of the pots.
Sweet potato vine on the patio
Now and then, I trimmed them back so they wouldn’t get too jungle-like. It reminded me of childhood times when Mom showed us how a carrot top or sweet potato cutting would put out roots if you placed it in some water.
That fall, I turned up the soil in some of the planters to put in fresh plants. To my surprise, my trowel struck something large and solid. Digging around the object, I turned up a large sweet potato. I checked all the pots where I’d put the cuttings and ended up with about 5 meals worth of the tubers.
I boil the sweet potatoes, then remove the skin, and mash them. Then I add cinnamon, nutmeg, milk, and brown sugar before baking it in a casserole dish.
I don’t usually grow vegetables in my containers on the patio, but since it was so easy to raise some sweet potatoes, I planted more this year. My crop wasn’t quite as big, but it took only a minimal amount of effort and it was free.
Have you tried planting anything from your kitchen scraps?
Instructions for Gail & Clyde Martin’s Candied Nut Clusters
Things You’ll Need:
medium size cooking pan
chocolate or vanilla flavored almond bark
small to medium sized nuts
Clean and sort the nuts. My husband used different strainers with different size grids, large and medium. The large grid let everything go through except for the largest pieces. Those worked great in the sugared nut recipe.
After that, he had lots of smaller sizes of nutmeats. Really just bits and pieces. So he shook them up in a strainer with a smaller size grid. The smaller grid lets the tiny pieces of shell and other debris fall through. Clyde dumps them into a white baking pan and searches for more shells that slipped through. Some tiny pieces of the shell stick to the nutmeat and can be removed with tweezers. Shaking in the strainers seem to bring out the oil in the nutmeats, making them shiny and tastier.
With the medium size nut meats, we make candied nut clusters. For this process, you need the following: medium size cooking pan, chocolate or vanilla flavored Almond Bark; aluminum foil, and lots of small to medium size nuts.
Break or cut the almond bark into chunks easier melting in the pan. Place it on a very low heat.
When melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the nutmeats. Keep stirring as you add them until all are coated.
Drop the mixture by teaspoon onto the foil. Let the clusters cool until the almond bark hardens.
My comment was, “You never could tell how my mom’s baking would turn out. With six kids underfoot, she was a distracted cook. We ate the results, good or bad. My favorite part was the leftover pie crust. She would cut it into strips, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, bake them, and we got to eat those while the pie cooked.” We already shared here how to make cinnamon pie crust strips.
The pie above reminds me of Mom’s. She would flute the edges like that. The few times that I made my own pie crusts, I made my edges that way too. You just put 2 fingers on the edge to hold the crust in place. Then with your other hand, use 1 finger to indent the edge between the 2 fingers. Continue on around the whole pie.
Mom used Crisco to make her pie crusts. Further back, our grandmother’s used lard, I’m sure, to get the flaky crusts that tasted so good.
Grandmother’s Legacy – A Collection of Butler County Recipes From the 1920’s and 30’s
If you like recipes from your grandmother’s day, then this is just the book for you. Many cooks throughout Butler County, Kansas, contributed their old family recipes for this compilation. It was published in 2001 but it’s hard to get your hands on a copy these days.
Cookbooks from Gail Lee Martin’s collection
It includes several of my own grandmothers’ recipes (Ruth McGhee and Cora Martin) and some of my mother’s (Gail Lee Martin).
Look for hearty fare like dumplings, old-time bread starter, and some recipes from the Great Depression era like mock chicken pie. There are sweets to try such as bread pudding with lemon sauce or make a vinegar pie. I’m certainly tempted to make the coconut orange delight cake sometime for a special occasion.
I remember my mom, Gail Lee Martin, reaching for the big stew pot when a heavy snowfall was predicted in Kansas. She didn’t have to worry about running out of food since our freezer was filled with a side of beef and our own chicken and rabbit meat. The cellar contained jar after jar of home canned vegetables like green beans, corn, and carrots.
Making a big pot of beef stew loaded with all kinds of vegetables was a practical response to adverse weather. I found myself doing the same when snow was predicted in Maryland where I lived for 15 years. Now, I’m retired and live in Central Florida so a big pot of beef stew doesn’t seem to be the appropriate response to a hurricane bearing down on your home.
Instead, I dredged out the family recipe for no bake cookies. Not having the right ingredients on hand, I improvised. The results were interesting and satisfied my need to reduce stress by keeping busy in the kitchen.
The resulting cookies were more blonde than the usual chocolate ones. I may not have cooked the sugar, milk, and butter the right amount of time, as they turned out a little sticky. Still, I’ve ended up with some snacks and for a short time distracted myself from Hurricane Irma.
I love to browse vintage newspapers and you never know what you’ll find. Here’s a heritage recipe found in the Perrysburg Journal, an Ohio newspaper.
April 15, 1915 Chronicles of America – Library of Congress collection
The Turnip Pie recipe has these instructions:
Put 2 cups of mashed cooked turnips into a basin, add 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 3 well-beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons of molasses, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon powdered ginger, 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon and 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt. Mix and bake in one crust like a pumpkin pie.
Now, who is brave enough to try this? Please, return and tell me if your family liked it. Maybe I’ll get up my nerve, though I’m not a very adventurous cook.
It sounds like something that Gail and Clyde Martin might try out. After all, they did make turnip slaw and turnip kraut to can. They liked to introduce new uses for vegetables to their customers at the weekly farmer’s market. They would even prepare samples for people to try.
They also liked to surprise people with foods. Gail made cucumber rings that fooled the taste buds and the eye into thinking they were cinnamon apple rings. Her sweet potato pie easily passed as a pumpkin pie. That makes me think that they might have found this recipe for turnip pie intriguing.
This vintage recipe was passed down from my husband’s ancestor, Mary Black of Blackjack, Kansas. It’s amazing what you can turn into jelly. Here’s how to make corn cob jelly the old-fashioned way.
What You Need:
12 red, clean corn cobs 3 pints of water
3 1/2 cups of sugar Package of Sure-Jell
Wax to seal the top of the jar Jelly Jars
Remove the corn from the cob. (photo courtesy of Pixabay)
To get corn cobs, you remove the dried corn from the cob. Boil the twelve red, clean corn cobs in three pints of water for half an hour. Mary Black would have boiled these on an old cast-iron stove, but you can use a regular stove.
Strain the juice (and throw away the corn cobs). It makes 3 1/2 cups of corn cob juice.
Use Domino or any sugar. Add the 3 1/2 cups of sugar to the juice made from the corn cobs.
Follow the directions on the Sure-Jell package. She would put wax on top to seal the jelly. If you’re going to use it fairly soon, you can keep it in your refrigerator.
This recipe is from Mary Black, (of Black Jack, Kansas) granddaughter of the earliest doctor there, Moses O’Neil. Dr. O’Neil’s wife, Eleanor (called Ellen) O’Neil was a sister to our great-grandmother, Elizabeth Jane (Rosebaugh) Kennedy. (wife of David Greacen Kennedy, my husband’s great grandfather).