Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Did you know that mushroom soup doesn't have to come from a can? Here's a simple recipe that you may want to try.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 cups milk (cashews, soy, or dairy)
2 Tablespoons unbleached white flour (or gluten free alternative)
1 1/2 teaspoons chicken-style seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dry parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1 4-oz. can mushrooms with liquid

Place milk and seasonings in blender. Blend until smooth. Add mushrooms and blend briefly until mushrooms are chopped. Pour into saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until thickened.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tofu Enchiladas with Mushroom Sauce

Tofu is a product that seasons beautifully. Although it is somewhat tasteless plain, it fancies up nicely with the addition of herbs and spices. Here it is used to create a Mexican enchilada dish. I think you'll like it!

Tofu Enchiladas

1 lb firm tofu, frozen, thawed, squeezed dry and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 4-oz. can mushrooms, chopped
1 can olives, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups grated cheddar cheese or soy cheese (optional)
Corn Tortillas

1 cup plain yogurt or low-fat sour cream or Tofutti vegan cream cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup or soup recipe below
Pinch garlic powder
1 small can chopped green chilies

In a large non-stick skillet, saute onions, tofu, soy sauce and cumin together in a small amount of oil until onions are transparent and tofu is browned. Add mushrooms and olives, and salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium bowl,  mix together all the ingredients for the sauce. Dilute with water to reach consistency for sauce.

Cover the bottom of a 9 X 13 inch sprayed casserole dish with a thin layer of sauce. Put tofu mix and cheese on tortilla and roll up. Place seam side down in casserole dish and repeat until filling is used up. Pour rest of sauce over the top of rolled tortillas. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes. May sprinkler cheese or olives on top.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 cups milk (cashews, soy, or dairy)
2 Tablespoons unbleached white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons chicken-style seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dry parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1 4-oz. can mushrooms with liquid

Place milk and seasonings in blender. Blend until smooth. Add mushrooms and blend briefly until mushrooms are chopped. Pour into saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until thickened.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sour Cream Mushroom Sauce

Yesterday I posted a recipe for Pecan Balls with Apricot Sauce. The recipe I'm sharing today is for Sour Cream Mushroom Sauce. It can be used to cover the Pecan Balls instead of the Apricot Sauce. It can also be used in potato or pasta dishes.

Sour Cream Mushroom Sauce
Serves 10

1 teaspoon oil
1 - 2 chopped green onions
1 crushed garlic clove
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2/3 cup sour cream (soy)
1/2 11 ounce can cream of mushroom soup

Saute onions in oil until they are transparent and soft. Add the garlic and continue to saute 1 minute more.

Add the soy sauce, sour cream, and mushroom soup. Heat through. Pour over nut balls (or food you'll be serving this with).

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Tea Ladies

The Tea Ladies

Pecan Balls with Apricot Sauce

This is a delicious savory recipe that creates a delightful main dish for a festive meal. The apricot sauce adds a bit of "sweet" to the dinner table for variety and your enjoyment.

Pecan Balls
Makes 10 servings

1 1/4 cups cracker crumbs
3/4 cup ground pecans or pecan meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1 finely chopped onion, small
1 1/2 tsp. sage
3/4 cup grated longhorn or mild cheddar cheese (soy)
2 pressed garlic cloves
3 Tablespoons minced parsley, fresh
4 eggs

Mix all ingredients. Form into walnut sized balls.

Pour apricot sauce over meatballs (recipe to follow). 

Bake in a covered casserole at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

The pecan balls may be made ahead and frozen. Freeze uncooked balls at least 2 - 3 hours on cookie sheet. When ready to bake, place in baking dish and bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees F. Then pour sauce over nut balls. Return to oven and bake covered at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Apricot Barbecue Sauce
10 servings

1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar or lemon juice
3/4 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup catsup
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons grated onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Dash hot pepper sauce
Handful of raisins

It is suggested that the raisins be cooked separately and added at the last minute or cooking time as they may sink to the bottom and stick, causing them to burn. Raisins may be omitted from recipe.

Mix all ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Pour over nut balls and bake.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Walla Walla Sweet Onion Ice Cream

I love unusual recipes. Like this one! Who'da thought that onions could make delicious ice cream? I dare you to try it.

Walla Walla Sweet Onion Ice Cream

1 cup milk
1 cup sugar

heat milk to where bubbles form on the edge of the pan. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Cool.

Add 4 pints whipping cream
2 cups finely shredded Walla Walla Sweet Onions
2 teaspoons vanilla

Chill in ice cream freezer. It is ready to serve in about 30 minutes.

Serve with shortbread or caramel topping.

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Slavic Sunday Morning: Friendly Village

By Aunt Cella
Origionally written 1969

It seemed the roar of Saturday night's revelry (noisy, drunken brawlers in the streets that expanded into our quaint hotel) only barely exceeded the roar of Sunday morning's market carts, and the latter took up just about where the former left off.  Those rubber-tire-less wagons came wheeling into town loaded with produce and people, with a rumbling calculated to wake the dead, hurrying to nab a prime spot on the market place on which to sell their home grown goods. Peeking out the grimy window, we nervously accessed the risks in this new invasion.  Wearily, we gave ourselves up to it, got dressed and hit the street with the marketers about 6 am, or just in time for a good frost bite. Enter here a gnarled little old lady-hen, who took me under her kindly wing and together we clucked about the booths, watching the market grow from an early dawn trickle to a rushing river by 9 a.m.  She introduced me to her sister-in-law, who was presiding over her large basin of juicy, homemade sauerkraut.  I also met lots of other farmer ladies dressed in long skirts, aprons, and head scarves.  Clothes seemed to come in two colors; dark and darker, and life in 2 speeds; slow, and as the English say, dead slow.  We finally found a man who was willing to take our picture together near the sauerkraut.  No easy task, since the men here knew nothing about cameras and simply backed off in panic when approached.  Mike, who exercises every day, come riots or wagons, even when traveling, left the market to me, and started south on a 20 mile jogging workout, headed for Sarajevo.This was to take him about 2 and a half hours, and after settling on route, time, and meeting place, I had spare time enough to kick up some excitement among the wagons.  Good grief, hadn't I had enough of that all through the long night? No trouble this time, actually, just lots of fun, as I helped myself to liberal servings of that local market.  Mike gobbled the unique cultural scene with his eyes, while jogging slowly south to the rendezvous spot.  Later as I started down the Sarajevo road to catch that runner, I also wolfed large and nearly indigestible portions of that same 19th century scenery.  My excitement had reached a fever pitch by the time I caught him and I think his had too.  "Sheep, oxen, wells, mosques, geese, drying  red paprika's, Turks, thatched roofs..........."  It all came tumbling out at once.  What a country, such villages, what farmyards, what rustic landscapes with old ladies minding the geese by a pond with staff in hand.  Having less than two years in these heady foreign climes, we were pop-eyed, excited and excitable "babes in toy land", or perhaps children in Mother Goose land. We couldn't have known it then, but much was yet to come.  In succeeding revisits, Yugoslavia unfolded its magnificent entirety to us, converting that early scepticism into a robust pro Yugoslavian friendship. She quietly wove her lovely silken web around us with snow-capped mountains, superb Adriatic coastline, green fields, blue lakes, Renaissance bell towers, fields of storks, forgotten mountain valleys sauntering along in the 17th century, and a warm and lovely people. Yep, we're captured and this Slavic Sunday was a startling, and implausible opening to a very long lasting love affair.

My Favorite Tea Story

by Aunt Cella, posted by permission
Originally written October, 1969

A true story

I left my heart in England this time.  And have left pieces of it in nearly every country we've visited.  But with England it went deep.  It's simply my kind of quaintness, countryside, people...and my language.  We were actually passing through England on our way to Ireland, having "done" England "last" summer, or so we thought.  But it's a big mistake.  One should not ignore present joys in the hopes of greater, later.  Neither is a country ever really "done" --- most of us just scratch the surface.  We were blessed for nine days with classically beautiful weather, a little nicety not often enjoyed in the British Isles.  Loved rugged Wales, but the southern counties of Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall stretching to the very tip of Land's End, are dearest to the heart of every Briton, and were sheer joy, joy, to us.  We loved the high hedges, the hidden "smuggler's cove" beaches, the cottage rambled with roses, old inns with low oaken beams, cozy fireplaces, hanging copperware and pewter, peaceful villages, and always decency, charm, refinement.  It's such a "civilized" country!  As travelers, we felt a graciousness here not encountered since leaving Japan.  One is never a customer, but a guest to be treated with grave respect.  I discovered early how enchanting their old homes and tea houses were, so having a passion for this sort of thing, devised a system for getting into at least three a day.  Morning beverage, lunch at noon, and afternoon tea, which is promptly at 4:00.  All England pivots on the "Tea at 4:00" schedule. . .even if the house is burning, you must not rush out without having tea first!  We had Devon shire clotted cream with fresh strawberries, rhubarb pudding, deep-dish English apple pie, high tea, low tea, cream tea, country tea, lunch in a 12th century manor house, and scones, scones, scones. We are talking of another trip.

The strangest tea I will ever have in my life occurred in Ireland, which, by the way, is green, friendly, progressive, and lots of fun.  In the wild, rugged, southern Killarney Lake country, Mike and I took an all day trek, making a complete circle, first by pony cart, then by horseback, and later by boat, which circled us back to the starting point again in the evening.  Not being so lucky weather-wise in Ireland (where are all those green shamrocks?), we had rain most of the six days we were there.  This memorable day was no exception, but we wanted to take this trip badly enough to do it in the pouring rain.  We had another lady and a foolhardy couple from California with us and a little sort-of-girl-guide.  We set off in high spirits, which sank lower and lower as we got colder and wetter.  Transferring from the pony-trap after an hour, we found the horses typical nags, and cantankerous to boot!  However, I felt somewhat smug and self-assured, since I was almost raised on a horse.  After two hours on horseback and getting into deep, wild mountains, we were stiff and frozen.  Our sack lunch became a mass of mush, vitamin pills in my purse ran red all over, our clothes were sodden, and our limbs were paralyzed with cold.  Our little-girl-guide reassured us by telling us we only had three hours left to go!  We saw an isolated house that offered tea, and gratefully groaned off our horses and dripped inside, running rivulets on her kitchen floor, and apologizing between chattering teeth.  We gulped hot tea with Irish soda bread, and stayed as long as we dared.  Again, we struggled aboard our plugs, who would not do anything they did not feel like doing.  

In the meantime, the country was frighteningly beautiful, with deep gullies, broad rocky valleys, and treeless craggy mountains --- what a fantastic trip in good weather!  After two more frozen hours, Mike and I approached the summit (we were ahead) and looked into desolate virgin territory beyond. My tendency was to go left, because it look like we might meet our boats there.  But my horse was going right whether I consented or not, and trusting the sure-direction instincts of a horse, Mike and I went right.  After a while, Mike wasn't so sure, so turned his horse back to the crossroads, but mine would not go.  I kept assuming the others would come (since my horse insisted this was the right road) but, hill after hill, I kept looking back.  No horses appeared, and soon the crossroad was far behind me.  Gradually I decided this must be the wrong way, and tried again to turn around.  I tried to go into the lane of an isolated house, I tried to stop. . .I tried everything, but that broken-down horse was impossible. When I tried to let the horse know who was in charge, he promptly backed me right down a bank into a ravine.  Then, for the first time I was frightened, because I knew that I could not handle that horse.  I began (in growing terror) to contemplate spending the night out in the wilds of Killarney and likely freezing to death.  I had no idea where we were headed, but it certainly wasn't toward human habitation. These were very bad moments.  Spying an inhabited old cottage, I decided to stop, even if I had to leap off the horse, but surprisingly she was willing and I lumbered off, hallowing to the occupants. . .

An old peasant lady appeared in black dress and stockings, and at the sight of another human being, I nearly broke down in weeping.  Struggling for control, I told her I must be lost (although I suspected that she already suspected that).  I told her the boats were leaving soon (there was only one a day), but this horse insisted on coming here.  She then dropped her little bombshell --- the horse belonged there and was merely coming home --- with an unwilling visitor!  She later admitted it was not the first time it had happened.  The horse and I had been on the trail for four solid, er, liquid hours!  She led me inside her home (which I was than anxious to see despite my distressing situation) to an open peat fireplace with an old black kettle hanging over it, and then began stripping off my soggy clothes.  I sat by the fire with this kindly soul bustling about, putting warm clothes on me, getting hot tea, trying to hurry with three huge dogs, and a red-haired Irish grand baby, and a flock of baby turkeys all under foot.  I couldn't believe my eyes and wanted to laugh and cry both, at this unreal situation.  I watched bemusedly while one little turkey jumped into the rim and then into a large pail sitting on the kitchen floor.  Hearing noise, the lady of the house rushed over to the pail in time to pull out a half-drowned little turk from what was obviously a pail of water. Calamities!  It was a wild scene.  She shoved them all under a basket and then proceeded to cut a homemade raisin loaf for my tea without benefit of hand washing of any sort between turkeys and bread.  I may have winced, but I wouldn't have refused her hospitality for anything.  It tasted delicious and was served on her best china.  She commented that I "seemed to fit in very nicely here in this country" probably because I was petting her dogs that were running in and out, and trying strenuously to see everything I could while just trying to appear as if I had grown up with peat fires and turkeys drowning themselves in the center of the kitchen floor!  When I told her I was from California she was very surprised and said she thought I was one of the local Irish girls from "up North".  I concluded that I must be fitting in very well indeed.  My Yankee twang was mistaken for an Irish brogue...!

Meantime she sent her daughter-in-law (who incidentally had worked two years at Schrafft's Restaurant in New York but got homesick and came back to marry a local boy) to the neighbor's house at the end of the road for a car.  No one was home, and now we were all in a frantic frenzy.  That boat was due to leave 30 minutes before.  I threatened to walk, and finally they consented, but insisted the daughter-in-law walk the 5 or 6 miles with me.  In a few minutes, we heard a car driving up behind us, and the much-sought neighbor materialized.  We roared over ruts and believe it or not, when we arrived, the boats were just leaving, having waited over 30 minutes for me.  Mike, who was beside himself, had just told them to go on without.  He was going to start after me, spend the night in the mountains, stay with a farmer, hire a car (no more horses!) or anything that was necessary.  An interesting postscript was that the California woman's horse also took her to its house in a different direction from me, and the farmer there had to bring her back in his car also.  Well, now that it's all over, I'm glad it happened.  How else could I have taken tea in front of an open peat fire with the turkeys and the dogs and the O'Donahue's of Killarney?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Walla Walla Sweet Onion Tarts

Spring is here! It's the time of daffodils, Easter eggs, lawns turning green, and planting gardens. It's a little early to plant very many things outside, but peas and Walla Walla Sweet Onion starts are hearty enough to withstand a bit of frost as the weeks go by. If you live in the valley, sets of onion starts can be found at any nursery and in most supermarket garden centers. It's possible to grow them "nearly" as sweet and delicious as the pros; the Italian sweet onion farmers who plant and bag Walla Walla Sweet Onions in abundance. Have you ever eaten an onion like an apple? If not, it's likely you've never tried a genuine Walla Walla Sweet.

I was going through one of my mother's recipe boxes a few days ago and found this delightful recipe. With spring here, it seems a perfect time to share! I hope you enjoy!

Walla Walla Sweet Onion Tart

1 cup butter
2 - 3 oz. packages cream cheese
2 cups all purpose flour, white

Combine ingredients and blend well. Then divide the doub into 48 equal balls. Press dough into 2" sections of ungreased, nonstick muffin tins. Work the dough up the sides of the tin to the rim. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Then cream together:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten lightly
2 cups Walla Walla Sweet Onions, diced
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream together butter and sugar. Add remaining ingredients. Fill tart shells to the rim. Bake from 30 - 40 minutes (check until golden brown). Cool completely before removing from muffin tin.

Serve as a "sweet" for afternoon tea. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Tea-Soaked Raisin Tea Brack

Ireland is known for their wonderful tea breads. Sometimes we call them tea cakes. Whatever the name, they are delicious and perfect to accompany a cup of tea. This recipe for tea-soaked raisin bread is called Irish Tea Brack. The Irish word 'breac' means speckled. So, you can just imagine what this delicious tea bread must look like! It's a simple and quick recipe, as long as you remember to start your raisins soaking the night before. Serve with butter and jam.

Tea-Soaked Raisin Tea Brack

1 1/2 cup raisins

1 cup brewed tea, strong and cooled
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg or 1 vegan egg substitute
Rolled oats

Brew one cup of tea. Pour over raisins in a bowl. Cover and place in refrigerator for 8 - 10 hours.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir together until well mixed. Then, create a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour in the egg, raisins, and tea. Stir until just combined. Then, pour into a loaf pan that has been buttered and dusted with flour. Sprinkle rolled oats on the top of the loaf. 

Place loaf in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees. Bake until the top is browned, about 1 1/2 hours. When done, cool slightly and remove from loaf pan and allow to complete cooling on a wire rack.