Category Archives: Recipes

Grandma Alma’s Apple Pie

Last weekend we went apple picking at Robinette’s Orchard, and last night we went to Alan’s longest-standing and dearest friend’s home for a dinner party. Alan and Larry grew up across the street from each other, and they both loved Alan’s mother’s apple pies…which were famed throughout their little village. Early into our marriage, I asked my mother-in-law to teach me how to make apple pies. “Sure!” she responded cheerily. However, when I went to watch, I quickly realized that she did everything by look and didn’t measure anything. I practiced quite a bit, and Alan’s older brother was my best critic. “More sugar!” he’d announce.  “More butter!” Eventually, I got the hang of it, but Alma’s pies were magical. It was a sad day for us after she died and we found one last apple pie in the freezer, which we all shared in sober grief mingled with joy (because Alan and I knew she was with Jesus in heaven). From then on, I had to become the family pie lady, and I do still love to make pies, although I’m never quite sure they live up to her immortal gold standard!  To the best of my ability to measure it out, here’s her recipe, now passed on for posterity:

Grandma Alma’s Apple Pie

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Prepare the pastry for two pie crusts:

                                       2 Crusts for 1 Ten-inch Pie:
2 and 1/2 cups flour
2 sticks (1/4 pound each, or half a pound altogether) butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup very cold (refrigerated) water (more if needed)
Mix in blender until a soft ball forms (but then stop immediately, even if a few crumbs are left; it’s really important not to over-process the mixture). Set in refrigerator while making the filling so that it’s cold when you roll it out.

Apple Pie Filling:

6 large pie apples peeled, cored, and sliced (These are Macintosh, which was Alma’s favorite, although now there are a number of great pie apple varieties.)1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamonMix together until all the apple chunks are well coated.Divide the dough in half, and roll out one half between sheets of plastic wrap.
Peel off the top wrap, place dough in pie plate, and peel off second wrap. (Save plastic for top crust.) Fill the pie with the apple mixture. Don’t worry if it’s really high; be glad!  🙂 Slice up another stick of butter into thin pieces and dot the entire top of the pie.Repeat rolling out the dough with the second half and place over the top.  Seal the edges. If you’ve rolled it out thin enough, you’ll have enough to flute the edges. I didn’t this time. 😦  Sprinkle the top with a light coating of sugar and cinnamon, then bake for 20 minutes at 425°F. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake another 40 minutes. Cool on a rack and serve with vanilla ice cream, preferably while still warm! By the way, I am thankful for every day that I can enjoy such a wonderful feast as we shared last night, but there is a better feast coming in heaven, and as aging mortals, it becomes clearer to me every day that we need to be living with a profound appreciation for life and the gift of eternal life, which is offered to us in Christ. As a youth, I didn’t quite understand this verse: “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). Now I think I understand. We will all die, so it is better to allow ourselves to mourn over the death of loved ones and turn in faith to God for salvation, then to simply enjoy a feast today with no thought of preparing for the next life.

Meringues: Fun and Fancy

While I was helping out with Michael’s family when their new baby was born this summer, my two oldest grand daughters were really interested in cooking with me, and in particular, they’d tried to make meringues but couldn’t get them to turn out right. They were either burned or gooey. So, we worked together and made some that turned out just lovely! After leaving their home, Alan and I went for a three-week cruise, and meringues were part of many dessert options (like this one, called “Mixed Berries Pavlova”), so I decided they are popular with everybody these days and worth writing up.  I think the secret to success is more sugar than you’d think (to help them keep their shape) and a longer, lower baking temperature than is often prescribed to help them keep from browning or burning (or at least a lower temperature than was prescribed in the kids’ cookbook).

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Meringues

Preparations:
1.  Preheat oven to 275°F
2. Grease large baking sheet with shortening and sprinkle with sifted flour or line with parchment paper
3.  Cut small opening into bottom edge of a gallon zip lock bag and insert a fluted cake-decorating tip.  Ingredients:
1. In a large mixing bowl, add:
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2. Beat until soft peaks form
3. Then, slowly add
2.75 cups granulated white sugar, beating until stiff peaks form Shaping:
You can spoon out the meringues, but I think they’re a lot prettier fluted. To flute them, carefully fill the zip lock bag with the mixture and seal. Then, shape the meringues into little 1.5″ rounds with peaks on top Baking:
The trick with baking is to cook them slowly at a low heat so that they harden but don’t turn brown. This is best achieved by popping them straight into an oven preheated to 275°F. and baking them for 2 hours, then shutting off the heat, leaving them to continue drying in the oven overnight. It would be good to check them after an hour and a half, just to make sure they aren’t browning. In the morning, carefully scrape them off the cookie sheet and store them in an airtight container. Humidity or any type of moisture can make them sticky, just like cotton candy.

How sweet are thy words unto my taste!
yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
” (Psalm 119:103).

 

 

Non-alcoholic Black Cherries Jubilee

One of our all-time favorite desserts is cherries jubilee, which is usually served at some point on any cruise. The traditional recipe calls for alcohol, and the dish is served flaming table side. However, if you don’t mind missing out on the fire power, you can make a luscious dessert that’s alcohol free like this:

Mouth-watering Cherries Jubilee
(serves 4)

1. Pit 2 cups black cherries and set aside  2. Stir together in a cooking pan until completely mixed and fine:
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup sugar  3. Add:
1 cup grape juice (or cherry juice plus 1/4 cup more sugar)
2 tablespoons butter (optional, but it sure tastes great!)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Sprinkle of salt  4. Cook on medium heat, stirring often, until the sauce thickens and starts to bubble. Immediately add the cherries and continue stirring for another 2-3 minutes until the cherries are heated (but not cooked).  5. This can be made ahead, and actually tastes better if it’s had an hour or so for all the ingredients to blend. If you make it ahead, leave it in the pan with the lid on, but be sure to heat it up again before serving.  6. Serve by spooning a couple of tablespoons into the bottom of your dish,  add a scoop of ice cream,  and then top with more of your cherry compote.  Top with whipping cream and serve immediately, because it will melt fast!

He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God:
many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord
” (Psalm 40:3).

German Apfelstrudel (aka: Some of the World’s Best Apple Strudel!)

As a child, Alan’s favorite dessert was apple pie, and even now if there’s apple pie or apple strudel available, one of us usually tries some. We’ve had apple strudel so many times we imagine we’re connoisseurs, but in all the world, we’ve never tasted apple strudel anywhere that we think is as good as our daughter-in-law Gerlinde’s (who’s from Germany and very practiced at this specialty).  Today, I’m going to do a show and tell (with two dozen photos), explaining just how to make some the world’s best apple strudel!  🙂

Authentic German Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel)
(I’d say it could serve 12-24, but the 8 of us polished it all off in a day!)

50 g butter
200 g all purpose flour
1 pinch of salt
75 ml lukewarm water

Strudel dough:

Melt butter in a pot. Put flour in a bowl. Mix butter, salt, lukewarm water with a mixer. Boil water in a small pot, pout out the boiling water and dry it out completely. Then put the dough in the hot pot, close the pot with a lid and let stand for 30 minutes.

Filling:
About 1 kilograms apples (any that are good for pies, like MacIntosh or Honeycrisp)
90 grams butter
100 grams sugar
Generous sprinkling of cinnamon (about 1 teaspoon per strudel ±)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F
Prepare baking tray by lining it with parchment paper

Filling:(this will make two strudel)

Peel the apples and cut into small pieces. Melt butter.

Divide the dough in two pieces. Prepare to roll out the dough on a thin dish towel that has a pattern. (Gerlinde told me you know it’s done when you can see the pattern through the dish towel…can you see the butterfly?) Sprinkle flour on the dish cloth to prevent the dough from sticking to it. Roll out each peace of dough into a rectangular shape.                                  Spread the liquid butter on the dough.  Then add the apples on top of the butter.
Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top of the apples.        Close up the dough, using water to make the dough stick to the sides.    Use the dish cloth to transfer the strudel to the baking tray with the dough seam facing down on the tray.                                             After you’ve made both of the strudels,                   brush them with a mixture of one egg and a little milk. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until the strudel is golden brown and you think the apples are soft.  After the strudel is baked, take out of oven and let cool, or serve warm.  You can sprinkle powdered sugar on top of it. (We served it with ice cream and whipping cream, although it’s also superb by itself.)  Enjoy!  🙂

How sweet are thy words unto my taste!
yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
” (Psalm 119:103).

Savory Sides: Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is low in calories and high in health benefits. When we had our German feast, Gerlinde’s sous chef (Jonathan) actually made the red cabbage, so she didn’t give me the recipe for that. However, I’ve been making red cabbage as a side for the past 40+ years, and it doesn’t really have to be part of an ethnic dinner, so I decided to tell you what I do (which is probably close to what Jonathan did anyway).

Sweet and Sour German(ish) Cabbage
(serves 6-8)

1. Chop 6 0z.bacon into small chunks and saute in a frying pan for 5 minutes, until beginning to brown. (This is purely optional, but I like it.)2. Add and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until starting to caramelize:
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large apple (peeled, cored, and finely shredded or chopped)2. Add 1 red cabbage (with core removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces)
Fry on medium heat another 5 minutes, until cabbage is starting to look done. Make sure to use a spatula to keep scraping the bottom of the pan so nothing  burns.  3. Add:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (or wine vinegar; whichever you have on hand)
1/4 cup brown sugar (or can go 1/2 cup if you like it sweeter; taste-test it)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt (test near the end; you may want even a little more)
Pepper to taste (a few sprinkles)

4. Simmer in a covered pan for 10-15 minutes, until cabbage is tender. Turn the heat off and keep covered, but turn the heat back on for just a minute or two right before serving so that it’s hot. Red cabbage actually improves with age and can last a week in the refrigerator if you have leftovers. It also freezes well. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Cold German Potato Salad

If you’ve been cooking for a long time, particularly if you have (or have had) small children in your home, I’ll bet you make some of your favorite recipes “by heart,” without really referring to a recipe or using measuring tools. This has certainly been true for me, and this is true for Gerlinde, who explained how to make potato salad while she and Amélie were making the rouladen for our German feast. So, I’m going to pass along to you this recipe just as Gerlinde explained it, and if you feel a little insecure about making something without measuring, know that most dishes are wonderfully resilient and can taste great with quite a margin on amounts. One of my goals in writing up these recipes is to get my blogging buddies motivated to experiment, innovate, and appreciate the joy of cooking. No matter who you are or where you go, everybody loves delicious food!

Gerlinde’s Cold German Potato Salad
(Makes 10-12 servings)
1. “I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a recipe for the potato salad that I usually make. But…what you can do is just peel some potatoes, boil them, and cut them into slices. Usually potatoes that are firm and not floury are the best for the salad.” We peeled a dozen medium-sized potatoes. Gerlinde says the salad is best if the potatoes are boiled whole (not sliced) and then cut later. This keeps them a little firmer. The potatoes are done when a fork can be inserted, but don’t overcook them, as you don’t want the potatoes to get mushy or fall apart too much. I’d say bring the pot of water to a full, rolling boil before adding the potatoes, and then boil them for about 20-25 minutes. Drain off the water and let them cool enough to handle them, but cut them into slices while they’re still warm.2. Boil some water (about 1.25 cups) and add some chicken or beef broth (or vegetable broth – whatever you have) to the water. (Probably no more than 2 cups fluid altogether. If you use 2 bouillon cubes, then 2 cups water, but if you use broth, then reduce accordingly.)
3. Add about 4 tablespoons of oil and 4 tablespoons of vinegar to the broth. (“Here again it  depends on the amount of the potatoes you have. Basic rule is that I use the same amount of vinegar and oil; last time with the amount of potatoes at your house I might have used 1/2 cup of oil and vinegar.”) Add salt and pepper into the broth to taste.
3. Cut an onion into small, fine chunks and add to the potatoes. If you have it you can add fresh chives chopped finely too. Or you can use spring onions (green onions) instead of the regular onions. 4. “Pour the hot broth (that is now mixed with vinegar and oil and salt and pepper) over the potatoes, mix well, add more salt or pepper if needed and let stand in the fridge… before you serve the salad taste again and add salt and pepper according to your gusto..I usually have to add salt at this point. Also, if the potato salad seems as if it has too much liquid from the broth you added, don’t worry. The potatoes will all soak it up. That’s why you leave it in the fridge for some time.”I’m not a big fan of potatoes, but Gerlinde’s potato salad is so good it’s almost addictive. It’s hard for us to resist eating it while it’s still warm, and it’s hard to wait long enough to let it soak up all the liquid, but it’s really worth the wait, and I’d say that—if possible—it’s even more delicious the next day!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3…as well as many blessings here on earth, such as nourishing, delicious food).

A Few of My Favorite German Dishes: Tantalizing Rouladen

We have been so blessed to have our son Jonathan and his family living a couple thousand miles closer to us than they have for the past seven years.           They now live in the Chicago area, which makes visiting so much easier!  This means we get to see them a lot more often, and not long ago Gerlinde sponsored an amazing German dinner! As a special gift, she let me choose exactly whatever I wanted, and I asked for four of my favorite German dishes that she makes so much better than what I’ve tasted anywhere else:                          Rouladen, German potato salad, and red cabbage                                             with apple strudel for desert.  I asked her if she’d share her recipes with us. She said some are family favorites, but she also (humbly) pointed out that most recipes are available on the internet. HOWEVER, I really the way she makes them, so she said she’d be willing to share.  During the Saturdays in August, I’m going to pass along to you four wonderful German recipes as demonstrated by Chef Gerlinde, her sous chef (Jon), her protégé, and her apprentice (Amélie).  I served as photographer so didn’t do anything but capture the magic and enjoy the fruit of all their labors! I hope you’ll enjoy this foray into authentic German cuisine as much as we did.   🙂

Golden Brown Rouladen
(serves 6+)

1. Fry until fully cooked:
12 oz. sliced bacon (chopped into small, bit-sized pieces), with
2 chopped onions; set aside to cool; drain off excess fat.
2. Buy (or pound and roll out) 1.5 pounds of thin-sliced flank steak (Or, order from your butcher; we apparently didn’t have any available, so Gerlinde and Amélie pounded and rolled them out by hand.)
3.  Add your favorite mustard (spread as thick as you like), a thick slice of your favorite pickle (we used German pickles) placed at one end,and a heaping tablespoon of fried bacon and onions. Add salt and pepper to taste,  then make the flank steak into a roll, starting with the pickle end. 4. Carefully tie up each roll with heavy thread, string, or toothpicks so they’re completely sealed (to keep the filling from coming out). This is an intensive, labor-of-love and process, but the result is superb!6. Fry the rouladen in oil until they’re crispy brown  and the steak is fully cooked. Take out of the pan for a few minutes.7. Add to the pan:
2.5 cups water
1 beef bouillon cube, stirring and scraping gently to help dissolve the bouillon cube and ensure nothing is sticking in the bottom of the pan.
8. Add the rolls back into the broth and simmer for an hour with the top on, or use a pressure cooker or instant pot if you prefer (which takes less time; Gerlinde used our pressure cooker). When they’ve simmered long enough, remove them onto a platter. Gerlinde wrapped her arm in a dish towel to keep the steam from burning her…a very clever trick, I thought! 9. Remove the strings by cutting with scissors and unwrapping. 10. Serve up your tantalizing rouladen and accept the compliments… they will have been well earned!!  🙂
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens” (Proverbs 31:15. I know this verse is speaking of the “virtuous woman,” but that makes it all the more applicable to my dear daughter-in-law, because she is such a virtuous woman!)