Thursdays Are For Cooking

| October 29, 2020

Winter is just around the corner. I have to have a new furnace installed because mine finally could not do its job. Too old, in mechanical years, probably 150, but installed in 1998, so. yes, furnaces and all that other stuff that we take for granted eventually peters out to nothing and stands idle. Can it be recycled? Probably not, but the HVAC company told me that they’ve been getting frantic calls, phones ringing off the hook, since this past Saturday, so I don’t feel quite so left out of this pending disaster. I did buy a small ceramic heater a long time ago for this room where I do my “stuff”, because it’s the chilliest room in the house, right on the northwest corner which gets the brunt of winter winds.

And yes, that’s my kitty inspecting the ceramic heater that I use to bump up the room temps in my workspace.  Right now, she’s in love with that little heater and is snuggled under her blankets, purring away.  If you want to know how well it works, it kept my kitchen at 64F very nicely.

Monday’s the big day for the new HVAC installation, and the forecast is for 60s on Monday, 40s for today. The irony is about a square mile in size. At least my house is well-insulated.  And then I found that my sister miles away is having her own furnace issues in addition to scheduling her classes, lectures and labs, because everything is on “social distancing” and everyone is scared to pieces right now.

The rather old cardinal in the photo was around for three years every winter, and then one winter, he stopped showing up. Always looked at me like he knew me. I miss him, but I know that life goes on, no matter how much the ecohippies keep screaming that we’re all doomed! doomed, I tellya!, and can’t see past that. Life does go on, and they can’t stop it, no matter what.

Since I’m reminiscing, I’m posting my Grandma W’s recipe for chopped apple cake. It is easy to fix, has simple ingredients, and doesn’t come out of a box. It’s good when it’s warm right out of the oven, but you’re supposed to let it cool before you cut it, which is a good idea. If you want it warmed up, cut a sliced and give it a few seconds in the microwave. Too much micro-ing and it will just dry out. Keep it chilled in the fridge and put some waxed paper or plastic wrap over the place where you cut the slices out. It can be frozen if cut into large chunks; just wrap it in foil or it will dry out, and let it thaw in the warm air of your kitchen. It’s good served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

I miss both of my Grandmas, a lot. Grandma R would always let me help her make donuts in her kitchen, and Grandma W always had a really good homemade dessert on the table. None of that boxed stuff: they were better cooks than that.

Chopped Apple Cake – Grandma W’s recipe

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups water

1 cup shortening (butter is best)

1 cup seedless raisins

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups chopped apples (peeled or not, your choice)

Cook above ingredients together for about 20 minutes on medium heat (do not boil)

Let this cool, while you sift the following dry ingredients together.

Then add the sifted mixture to the mixing bowl, and mix thoroughly:

3 ½ cups flour (whole wheat flour works, if you want to use that)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup English walnuts, chopped (chopped pecans are fine if you can’t get walnuts, and I’ve made this with hickory nuts, too.)

Bake in a greased loaf pan lined with waxed paper for about 1 hour**.

Oven temperature should be 325F to 350F, basically what my Grandma W referred to as a slow oven. She started out cooking on a cast iron woodfired stove, and I would love to have been able to join her back then to learn how to do that.

Allow the cake to cool completely.  Test doneness with a wooden skewer. If nothing sticks to it, the cake is done.  It requires no icing.

**My mother used to bake this in an angel cake pan, the kind with the standing tube in the center. Just be sure to grease the pan and line it with waxed paper.  I’ve done it both ways, loaf pan and angel cake pan, and both work.

Bon Appetit!

Category: Cooking

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Funny, my kitties were doing the space heater inspection, too!

Here’s my mom’s easy Wassail recipe (seems fitting)
►A bottle of Apple Cider
►Small can of Pineapple juice
►a couple of hard sticks of cinnamon
►an orange cut into slices with whole cloves stuck into the slices
►A squirt of honey

Mix it all together and let it all mingle over a low heat for as long as you want you kitchen to smell awesome.
Rum is a nice touch, too.

5th/77th FA

Am I the only one that can smell that cake baking from here? Yeah, didn’t think so. Good luck with that “Allow the cake to cool completely” thing. That prolly ain’t gonna happen. Mama AND both GrandMothers made a very similar cake, usually in the tube pan, and with a substitution of other fruit bits for the raisins. She also made a fruit cocktail cake that I still miss. That recipe card disappeared from her file box and we have yet to find a duplicate of that.

You know, if that damned old Chinesecommunist Virus Infecting Disease of 2019 had not of reared its ugly head and played hell with my 3 year in the planning road trip, part of the plan was to swing thru the Land of Lincoln and bring you to the Sunny South…y’all. No matter what the temp is outside, that 7 tonnes of Trane HVAC outside de house, keeps me at a very balmy 69 degrees F inside. I figure showing pictures of my cast iron cookware and the gas cook stove woulda closed the deal. Plus Miss Punkin Squawky Pants and Smokey would have fit right in and we could be cracking pecans and Black Walnuts as we speak.

Speaking of cast iron cookware, my expertise in that field has led me to be thinking about a consultant gig in the LEO Field. I think I could hire on with Slaw and Order SVU (Southern Vittles Unit) I coulda helped on this case:


True to form, Squawker has found the coziest spot in the house and claimed it as her own. If it happens to be under foot and in the way, so much the better.