By Darla Cabe
With the holidays quickly approaching, country folks are getting excited about special family times to share and traditional family foods.
Nothing beats the memories that good, old-fashioned holiday meals invoke as we gather around the table to offer thanks for the harvest and all our blessings. And nothing is better than sharing foods that are just like Grandma used to make.
Maybe at your house it’s Mom’s gravy or Grandma’s sweet potato pie that the next generation loves so much they try to reproduce. Whatever your family heirloom recipes are, here are some cooks who are getting it right and making Mom and Grandma proud.
Cassie Coleman of rural Bellefontaine has tried for years to recreate her Grandma Fern’s Thanksgiving stuffing.
“But it just isn’t the same,” Cassie admits. “I’ve even tried to make it while she was on the other end of the phone to tell me her tips and secrets. I think there must be some ‘grandma love’ slipped in, because I’ve never been able to get it as good as hers.”
Coleman’s family would probably disagree. They love just about everything she makes.
“My mom and grandmothers taught me to cook,” Coleman said. “I spent a lot of time with my grandmothers while I was growing up and they taught me so much.”
Coleman’s mom also made sure that her daughter knew how to bake bread and create good meals before leaving Mudlake, Idaho, where Cassie and her husband, Layne, grew up.
“We left our families 2,000 miles away. It was hard, but we were young and excited for an adventure,” she said. “Our plan was to stay in Ohio for about three years.”
Twenty-one years and four children later, the Coleman family is still here.
“We love our life in Ohio,” Coleman said. “We love the openness of country life and the ability to have farm animals and alfalfa fields.”
In addition to cooking and baking for her family, Coleman enjoys canning, freezing and drying the foods that her husband grows in their gardens. She also enjoys quilting, playing the piano and reading. She has been a full-time mom and homemaker for many years, but just recently decided it was time to try something new, so she substitutes in the lunchroom of her kid’s school.
“It has been fun to meet new people, make new friends and I get a kick out of all those kids who come through the line,” she said.
Coleman knows that she was blessed by the examples of her grandmothers and mother. She was blessed by all they taught her and now she carries on the legacy of nurturing her family with good food and good memories.
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups water
3/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons paprika
1-2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup water
1 bag egg noodles, cooked as directed (or meat sauce can be put over mashed potatoes)
In a large pot, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain off fat. Add the water, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, sugar, salt, mustard and garlic powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat.
In a small bowl, combine flour and cold water until smooth; stir into meat mixture. Return to a simmer; cook and stir till thickened. Gently mix in cooked noodles and let heat through, or spoon over hot, mashed potatoes.
CAST IRON ROASTED CHICKEN
1 (4-pound) chicken
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoons any other herbs you may like – rosemary or paprika are good options
1 teaspoons vegetable oil
Butterfly the chicken: With the backbone facing up, cut along the sides of the backbone with heavy-duty kitchen scissors. Discard the backbone or freeze it to use to make stock with another time. Turn the chicken over and press down on the breast, firmly, to flatten. Fold the wing tips back under the wing.
Mix the salt, pepper, and herbs and sprinkle evenly over the chicken, concentrating a little extra on the breasts and thighs. You can proceed to cook at this point, or you can put the chicken on a rack over a baking sheet and refrigerate for 4-24 hours.
Heat the oven to 400 F. Heat a 10-inch cast iron pan over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes or so. Then add the vegetable oil, moving pan to coat the bottom. Place the chicken in the pan skin side down and let sear for 5 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and brown. Carefully flip the chicken over. The skin should come right off of pan, but if it doesn’t use a metal spatula to gently scrape it loose.
Put the pan in the oven. Roast the chicken for about 40 minutes or until the breast meat is 165 F.
Take the chicken out of the oven and, with a metal spatula, place chicken on carving board, covering with foil to keep warm. Carve the chicken after about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, skim off any fat from the juices. You can use the juices as is, poured over the sliced chicken, or you can use the drippings to make a white gravy to go over mashed potatoes.
YUMMY DINNER ROLLS
1 1/2 cup milk, scalded
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 packages yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoons salt
7 1/2 cups flour (approximately)
Scald milk and pour into big bowl or mixer bowl. Add in butter and sugar. Let butter start to melt. When the butter is nearly melted, add eggs, yeast, warm water and salt. Stir till sugar is dissolved. Start adding in flour, one scoop at a time. If you’re doing this by hand, at some point you’ll need to turn the dough out onto a floured surface. When you can’t add in any more flour, or the sides of your mixer bowl have cleaned themselves off, start to knead for 6-10 minutes. Form dough into a tight ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to cover the dough in oil to help prevent drying out. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about a hour.
Preheat oven 400 F.
Punch down dough. On a floured counter top, form into any shape of roll you’d like. (I also use this recipe for cinnamon rolls and other sweet rolls.)
Place rolls on sprayed or parchment-covered cookie sheets, not touching. Cover with a towel and let rise again, about 15-30 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. After they have risen, bake at 400 F, for 10 minutes. Brush melted butter on top of the rolls after they come out of the oven. Cool dinner rolls on a cooling rack.
• A package of yeast measures 2 1/4 t. if using bulk yeast.
One of Teresa Knouff’s favorite things about where she lives is that her kids can simply cross the nearby field and visit their great-grandpa. That’s how important family is to her and she wants to be close to them.
Teresa, her husband Craig, and their children, Ethan and Ava, live in Houston on property that was once owned by Craig Knouff’s grandfather.
“It is wonderful to have property that someone in your family took care of and now you get to have it for your own,” Teresa Knouff said. “And even though there might be more space between us and our neighbors, we are close to them.”
Staying close to family and neighbors means more than just living near them.
“The way I see it, food is a vehicle for spending time with friends and family. A very large portion of my life was built, molded and guided through the time I spent sitting with my family around our kitchen table eating dinner together every night and on Sundays at breakfast after church,” Teresa Knouff said.
Teresa Knouff was taught how to cook by her “wonderful, beautiful talented and ever-so-amazing” mom who always said that a messy cook was a good cook. “The kitchen can be quite a mess once I am through with whatever I am concocting, so as I see it, I am just following Mom’s lead.”
Teresa Knouff, who is a sixth-grade math teacher, loves art. She is a painter and sculptor and also loves to take pictures. She loves to visit art museums and galleries. She also likes to read, cook, run and watch college football, but “most of all, I love to spend time with my family” she said, and that means gathering around the table sharing time, memories and good food.
OLD FASHION CREAM PIE
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 pie crusts
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place pie crust into 2 pie pans. Mix the flour and sugar together. Mix in the sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Stir in the heavy whipping cream using small amounts so keep the mixture remains smooth and does not contain clumps. Stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture equally into the 2 pie crusts slowly so that air bubbles do not form. Bake for 40 minutes at 400 F. Reduce heat and bake for 1 hour at 350 F. Let cool. Refrigerate after cooled.
GRANDMA’S VINEGAR SLAW
1 bag of pre-shredded cabbage or 16 ounces of freshly shredded cabbage
1/2 pound of bacon, chopped into small pieces, fried, and set aside
3 tablespoons bacon grease
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all fresh ingredients, salt, and pepper into a bowl. Keep 3 tablespoons of hot bacon grease in the frying pan and carefully pour the 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar into the grease. Stir. Let the grease and vinegar boil for approximately 2-3 minutes. Pour the dressing mixture onto the slaw. Stir. Let set in the refrigerator for 1 hour or more. Before serving, stir in or top the slaw with the bacon pieces so that they are crunchy.
TERESA’S OWN TOMATO AND BASIL SALAD WITH FETA
2 packs grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil (more or less if desired)
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
4 tablespoons (about 1 lemon) fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons basil olive oil or regular olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients. Let set for 1 hour or more in the refrigerator before serving.