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Stories and Stovies


Queen of Hearts

This is for Alys who came from Wonderland

The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts,
All on a summer’s day;
The Knave of Hearts
He stole the tarts,
And took them clean away.

The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the knave full sore;
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he’d steal no more.

John and I selected Alys’s names, just as we did all the children, before she was born. "Alys" to remember the Welsh people and my grandfather who went down in his submarine just a week before the end of World War I, and "Novene" for the woman who was so kind to me and was my American mother. The first words I said to this little baby when she was born when her Daddy was so ill were, "Welcome to Wonderland, darling Alys."

Charlotte's Pie Crust

If all the world were apple pie,
And all the seas were drink,
And all the trees were bread and cheese,
What would we do for drink?

2 cups sifted flour 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter 1/3 cup shortening
about 6 tablespoons cold water

Sift flour and salt together and cut in your butter and shortening with a cutter until your shortening is cut into about pea size pieces - this does a better job than 2 knives slashing at each other or using a fork - but you might have to use those if, like at my house, you can't find your cutter - because it's been used for playdough fun, or because it got broken the last time you enthusiastically made pie crust.

Make sure your water is nice and ice cold, that will help the pie crust keep its shape when you roll it and when you try to make a pastry ball of it. Add this water about a tablespoon at a time. Make a well in the middle of your blended flour mixture, sprinkle your water a little at a time into it, and toss your flour sifting into that well.

When that's done, divide your dough in half and roll out onto a floured board or what is really good, and that's the pastry mat Tupperware makes. But, just a little thought here before we go on - I like my pastry really cold when I roll it, so I will put those two little balls of pastry into some grease paper and put them in the refrigerator to get even colder while I prepare the pie filling - and it's usually apple, by the way.

So, now that you have your pastry in the fridge, let's go back to our pastry story -- I have a horrible time making shapes, (you should see my square tortillas!), and this pastry mat is a great guide.

When you have one circle rolled, roll it carefully over your rolling pin and line your pie pan. Put in your filling, and then roll your covering pastry. Place that on top of your filling and press edges together with fork or roll them under the bottom pastry and pinch with your fingers to close up your pie.

The fun part is making a hole in the middle of your top pie crust to let steam escape. I usually use the handle of the fork I plan to use to make the "chicken feet" pattern pies have to have, and children have to decorate.

A little clue here, if you dot your top pie crust with butter and sprinkle some sugar over it you'll get a nice brown shell - tasty too. And if you're using a piecrust from the grocery store and trying to pass it off as made by you, this butter and sugar trick will help you carry off that little gambit.

Some more hints: I usually add a half measure of the entire recipe and get three or four pie crusts out of it, or else enough pastry for the kids (right up to the teenagers) to play with and even make some little turnovers. It's still not too hard to mix up and blend and divide into four little rolls.

Try not to handle your piecrusts too much. That makes them a little tough and chewy and not the crispy way we like them.

Puff Paste

You know, I'm really not a dud at cooking and baking. When I was growing up and going to Harris Academy in Dundee, Scotland I had to take Domestic Science for three years. I was really a pest in that class - I remember taking toad in the hole to my math class after cooking class and eating the "toads" and throwing the "holes" at my teacher. Didn't like her anyway.

But, to what I'm saying, I did let myself learn some things in that course, and enjoying puff pastry was one of them. (By the way, the "toads" are sausages, and the "holes" are batter - this is a British supper dish that, thank goodness, my Granny never made -- the English did it a lot, though).

The Culinary Arts book has a great puff pastry recipe --

1-cup butter 2 cups sifted, preferably cake, flour
1/2-cup ice water

Make sure you have unsalted butter. Soften 2/3rds of the butter.

Cut the remaining butter into the flour with your pastry blender; add ice water using only enough to hold the ingredients together.

Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured board (this is always important in pastry making because too much flour will make your pastry tough). Spread 2/3rd of the dough with 1/4 of the softened butter; fold unbuttered 1/3 over center 1/3 and fold the remaining 1/3 over to cover first 1/3, buttered side down, making 3 layers of dough with butter between each layer - just like when you're kneading bread. (Now you see why geometry is an important class in school - it's an essential cooking skill!)

Turn your dough 1/4 of the way around on the board and roll to about 1/4 inch thickness. Spread with butter. Repeat your folding and chill thoroughly. Repeat this rolling, spreading and folding and chilling two more times. Then roll, shape and bake in your puff paste recipes.

My granny used to make her own puff paste like this, and this recipe comes out tasting just like my grannie's. I made bridies once (which are meat filled turnovers) using this puff paste recipe and John and Johnny really loved them.

Charlotte's Granny's Custard Squares

I loved these on a Sunday afternoon. When I was a little girl my Granny would send me to the little corner grocery shop to buy two packets of their pre-made puff paste. While I was gone, she would make some Birds Custard, but she would cook it up a little thicker than she usually did. When I came back with the puff paste, she would roll out the bottom, and put it in a square casserole pan, and then she would spread the cooled and firmed custard on that. She would then roll the other pastry packet out and just place it on the top of the custard. She'd bake it in a hot oven for about 15 - 30 minutes I think. She'd let it cool a little, just enough to be able to slice the puff pastry and we'd eat them warm with milk.

Oh, those were good.

Charlotte's Apple Crisp

My Granny used to make rhubarb crisp a lot. Rhubarb’s is expensive in this country – not like in Dundee, going down to the bottom of the garden and picking a stalk where I swear it just grew wild. So, I make apple crisp instead. Stephanie loves this!

Prepare your apples like you would for apple pie. Layer them in a large baking pan. Then take equal parts (about 1 cup to 1/2 cup of each of the flours) of quick cooking oatmeal, wheat flour and white flour and mix them together. Cut in about a stick of butter and a cup of brown sugar and a cup of white sugar with a pastry blender. Stir in about a teaspoon of cinnamon. Add more butter if it seems a little dry. Spread over the filling and dot with butter if necessary. Bake for about 45 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Serve with ice cream or custard.

By the way, this also freezes up well and makes a great breakfast on a cold morning if taken from freezer to microwave. Hope you enjoy it.

You know, speaking of going down to the bottom of the garden, one of Xoch and Nan’s favorite stories, or confessions, that I gave them about my childhood is how I used to love to find worms and drop them through the letter box at 7 Hill Street – my Granny wasn’t too fond of that pastime though. Here’s a worm song we used to sing, but I can only remember part of it:

There’s a worm at the bottom of the garden,
And his name is wiggley woo.

We used to sing this using different accents – going from toff, to English, and eventually to the one we liked the most, broad Dundee, rolling r’s and belting it out like Ethel Merman!

Apple Pie from the Culinary Arts Book

Ok, folks, this is the supreme Apple Pie recipe, absolutely nothing can top it anywhere, anyhow. Prepare to be culinarily delighted --

6 Granny Smith Apples
1/2-cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon cinnamon
1-tablespoon cornstarch
Your pastry of choice, plain is best
1-tablespoon butter

Pare and slice apples. Prepare your dry ingredients beforehand by sifting them together and then dropping your apples into this mixture.

You will have a kitchen full of helpers who will be mixing and stirring and eating the apples as quickly as you get them in the mix. That is why you might want to start off with 9 large Granny Smith apples.

Why do we use Granny Smith, you ask? Because that's what my Granny used in her apple pies and we will maintain that habit. (It's along the lines of why we only have Macintoshes as table apples - because my Granny was a McIntosh and we have to support the family!)

Back to the pie: Line your pie pan with the pastry, spread your apples. Dot with butter to make nice and juicy and then put your top crust on the shell. Bake in a very hot oven of 450 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce to 350 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes.

Don't forget to sprinkle that top layer with more butter and sugar, and remember to make your hole in the top crust so steam can escape and have the kids make "chicken feet" on the top crust.

If you don't want to have to clean your oven, put your pie pan on a cookie sheet to catch the spills and this way, rather than cleaning an oven, you can enjoy your share of this great pie with ice cream or, like I did as a girl in Scotland, with a thick layer of Birds Eye pouring custard. Yummy!

Speaking of ice cream, my mother didn't tell me much about my father, but she did tell me once that when they were in America, before I was born, he ate a lot of ice cream and that he especially liked "pie a la mode."

Other Pies & Memories Charlotte Made

I made chocolate pie once, straight from scratch with chocolate and the pudding recipe from the back of the cornstarch packet. John loved it. (By the way, using cornstarch as a filling is healthier than using flour and you only have to use half as much - this little family baking secret is your reward for reading this entire family cookbook -- look for more). (Another little note, cornstarch is known as "cornflour" in Scotland).

I also made lemon meringue pie totally from ingredients once. I used real lemons, which I squeezed, and the famous cornstarch. This is so much tarter than the lemon pudding mix and we really loved it. So, to give "homemade" pies a little extra oomph, I started after that to just squeeze a little extra lemon juice into filling made from mixes.

I made a cheesecake once from Philadelphia cream cheese and if I can find that recipe we'll both know all the other stuff. As I watched this thing bake I thought it was going to blow up. I look back on these accomplishments with pride. Maybe someday I'll make them again - at least one more time - just to show the kids (who will be old people, all grown up, and probably grandparents themselves some day in my lifetime, but I'll still think of them as my "kids.")

The happiest memories I have are of being with my children: Germany with Johnny and Tina and John; Paradise with John and the five Blehs; and now that I seem to have found myself in Phoenix with my two bonus babies, Xochitl and Adriana, my four grown girls and their children and staying close to Johnny in Florida. When we lived in Paradise, California, we lived in one of the oldest houses in town.

The Mack home as it stood on Clark Road for many years

This was "the old Dr. Mack house." Dr. Mack was one of the Paradise pioneers, he had lots of land and orchards, and he tried to start an olive industry up there in the Sierra Nevadas. On the property we rented there were apple trees, pears, and persimmons.

That was the zenith of my domestication. I canned everything that didn't move. I made cookies out of the persimmons. And I canned a year's worth of apple pie filling that was just delicious in the apple pie and apple crisp recipes I just gave you.

Our dog, Stephie's Bonnie Bobbie, a beautiful, wonderful, pedigreed Skye terrier that we got for almost nothing in Virginia Beach, VA, had a great time there. She and I would often go for walks in the olive orchard and she would chase so many rabbits there.

But things change. The olive orchard is now gone, but the little shopping mall in its place is known as "Olive Square." Dr. Mack's house is gone from Clark Road, but some great people there rescued it from being demolished and have restored it as a historical private home. I talked with the people who bought the old house to restore and shared some happy memories of our family in the house.

A short time later the Paradise Post ran a story about the house being restored and included these comments: "Former tenants call from as far away as Arizona to spin yarns about their time in the Mack House. Once a call came from a woman who thought the place had been torn down. Her young husband had died there many years ago, and her mother learned about the move through the newspaper article (the mother was Novene Ward). The woman shared memories of the place, but she said none of these were of historical value. Perhaps that’s why the Mack house is so significant. It’s a symbol of steadfastness and security rather than conflict and turmoil." Isn’t that a nice comment?

Now, I'm really on a reminiscing binge -- the new Library and the old Masonic Lodge still stand across the street from where we lived there on Clark Road. Tina's memory of Paradise is how she loved that Library. She tells of how she would go there every day after school and one of the Library ladies saw there so much she thought she went there because she had nobody to look after her after school.

Now, the city where Tina lives is planning to build a new library not to far from her home. She tells her daughter, Edie, how exciting that will be and has promised her little girl "No crabby lady will try to chase you away from the library."


Charlotte's Lazy Graham Crust Chocolate Pie

This is another little lazy short cut pudding type pie I made up once when I was a dedicated housewife and had nothing to do but dream up kitchen delights:

Take enough regular graham crackers to line a square-baking pan.

Prepare some cooked chocolate pudding according to either scratch or package directions. While it is hot, pour over the graham crackers. Put graham crackers on top, and layer again with hot pudding. Let cool. Top with fresh whipped cream, maybe some chocolate shavings, chopped walnuts, etc. This makes another great contribution to a church supper.

Nut Tree

I had a little nut tree
Nothing would it bear,
But a silver nutmeg
And a golden pear.

The King of Spain’s daughter
Came to visit me,
And all was because of
My little nut tree.

I skipped over water;
And danced over sea.
And all the birds in the air
Couldn’t catch me.

1/3 cup long grain uncooked rice 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2-teaspoon salt 6 cups whole milk
1-cup seedless black raisins
(which I can put in because none of my children like to eat rice pudding like I do)
1-teaspoon vanilla Pitcher of light or heavy cream
Nutmeg to garnish and add flavor

Wash the rice thoroughly in cold water, drain, and sprinkle over the bottom of a well-buttered 2 qt baking dish. Add the sugar, salt and pour the milk over all. Bake for an hour at 250-275 degrees, stirring with a fork every 20 minutes. Continue baking another 2 hours, stirring occasionally. An hour before the pudding will be done, add the raisins. Let the brown film form on top - because I like it, that's why. Add vanilla before stirring for the last time. Serve hot with cream. Yummy, this is my most favorite way of making rice pudding - and it's also great heated up or cold for breakfast.

Charlotte's Granny's Trifle

This is another of my Scottish comfort foods that my children leave me alone to eat.

Simply make up some Birds custard from the info on the box - go get some at your better supermarket or your British import shop. Now, go make up that custard, make it thick so it'll stand up. Oh, did I not tell you to make up your favorite Jello and let that stand a little to firm up.

Now, let's start again. Line a nice see through glass bowl with ladyfingers.

(My Granny would send me to Kidd's the bakers for about half a dozen Paris Buns - these were just little sponge cakes with big dollops of sugar on top - really tasty.)

So, either line your bowl with ladyfingers or put a layer of sponge cake crumbs in the bottom. Now pour in your custard while it's still a wee bit warm and let it cool. Then add your jello. (I hope you added some canned fruit to give it a little more excitement.)

Let it firm up. Then just top with cream.

We never whipped our cream - my mother and Granny would buy Devonshire cream that was so good and thick and creamy just the way it came out of the jar or can. I've seen it in the import shops in Phoenix, but I don't buy it because it's not refrigerated - another evidence of how I've become Americanized.

Ooops, here I go again - another memory jogged by unpreserved food: I remember going shopping with my mother and into the butcher shops. The shops were always clean and smelt good with the sides of beef, the ducks and geese, the sausages and "mealie puddings" (made from oatmeal) hanging from the hook waiting to be cut and trimmed, and the clean sawdust on the floor that the apprentice would be constantly sweeping out to keep the floors clean and fresh.

I didn't think then of botulism, salmonella, or dirty straw being swept into the dustbin. That was the butcher's and that was the way it was.

I remember how my mother and Granny thought it was crazy when the sanitation laws came into effect, during my young lifetime, making it an offense not to wash hands or cover cuts with Band-Aids. That was the demise of sides of beef, turkeys, geese, and all manner of good things hanging from the butcher's ceilings.)

Back to the trifle: my Granny would sometimes put a layer of applesauce or raspberry jam between the custard and the Jell-O.

You might have some other fillings that your family likes.

If this is a trifle for grown ups or non-Mormons, you might want to soak your ladyfingers in a little tot of sherry.

Bread and Butter Pudding – from the Lion House Book

My mother's life long favorite pudding was bread and butter. I like this recipe because the custard is similar to my sweet macaroni recipe, which can also be considered as among the strange things my mother and I like to eat. I always felt that this was a treat specially created for us by my Granny.

6 slices white bread
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4-cup raisins
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4-cup sugar
1/2-teaspoon nutmeg (I remember my Granny sending me to the grocery shop to actually buy a nutmeg for this and then helping her grate it - oh, this is one of my favorite kitchen smells)
1-teaspoon vanilla
Dash salt (salt in recipes is a flavor enhancer)

Cut the crusts from the bread and butter each slice on one side. Place three slices, butter side up, in bottom of 1:1/2 quart buttered casserole. Sprinkle with raisins. Repeat with second three slices of bread.

Beat eggs slightly and add milk, sugar, nutmeg, vanilla, and salt.

Pour over bread in casserole. Definitely sprinkle top with extra nutmeg. Let stand half an hour. Bake in 350 oven for 30 minutes or until custard is firm.

Serve with whipped cream. It's also really good as a hot base for hot apple crisp - layer a serving bowl with bread and butter pudding, put some hot apple crisp on top, and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Charlotte's Granny's Sweet Macaroni

Just make extra macaroni when you are making the one and only macaroni and cheese recipe, or save some from the amount you have made. Make the custard recipe from the Bread and Butter pudding and pour over the pre-cooked macaroni and proceed as for Bread and Butter pudding.



When we lived in Germany, my friend Ingrid Evers, who became Tante Ingrid to Johnny and Tina, used to sing to them "Bake, bake, kuchen, der backer hat gerufen" – I wish I could remember the rest of the words in German, but here’s the English version:

Pat a cake, Pat a cake, Baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Roll it, and roll it, and mark it with a B
And put it in the oven for Baby and me.

Pound Cake – learned from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook

(At holiday time, you can add candied fruits and peel to this, garnish with almonds and call it Dundee Cake!)

Butter and flour a loaf pan. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Cream until light and fluffy 7/8-cup butter or margarine. Add a few grains salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla Beat in gradually 1:1/2 cups cake flour.

Separate 5 eggs. Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Beat in 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Beat the yolks until thick and lemon colored. Add gradually 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Add to the butter mixture and beat well. Fold in the egg whites. Sift over the batter 1-teaspoon baking powder. Beat thoroughly. Pour into the pan and bake about 1 hour.

Novene Ward's Thirty Minute Cake that
John Bleh and Adriana Juarez just love

This is copied from the recipe that Adriana copied: Sift together 2 cups sugar and 2 cups of flour into mixer. Heat together 2 cubes butter, 5 heaping teaspoons cocoa and 1 cup of water. Bring to boil and pour over flour and sugar. Mix.

Add baking soda, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of buttermilk, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Pour into 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Icing - 1 cup of sugar, 1:1/2-cup cream, 3 tablespoons of butter.

Put in heavy pan and bring to boil. Cook for one minute. Mix together in a separate bowl 1/2 cup marshmallows and 2/3 cup chocolate chips then pour boiling mixture when all melted. Add two handfuls of chopped walnuts - best ones are in Novene's back yard, which John Bleh used to crack and eat and crack and eat.

Charlotte's Daughters' Birthday Doll Cake

When we lived in Germany, one of the Navy wives there taught a cake decorating class. We would get together once a week in her apartment in Panker, which was the country mansion of one of the Princes of Hesse-Darmstadt. The Prince had converted his Schloss into apartments for the Navy families who wanted to live in a group there. (I never wanted to live there, even though the apartments were lovely and he had peacocks roaming the beautiful grounds - but I did like to visit our friends then go home to our little apartment in the little town of Lutjenburg where we lived above the shoe store and I had this fond imagining of the Grimm's fairy tale of the cobbler mending the shoes with the help of the brownies - remember that story?

Anyhow, back to cake decorating: we didn't bake our cakes for these classes - which John thought was ridiculous, because we brought home beautiful pieces of decorated foam. We would take Tupperware containers of decorator frosting, Wilton tips, wax paper for bags, and other stuff and go over and have little parties for about 6 weeks.

The only thing I was ever good at was making the doll cake, which I made for Tina's and later for Steph and Elisabeth's first birthdays. So here goes:

Take any kind of cake mix and prepare according to directions but bake the whole mix in a greased round bowl in a 350-degree oven (about an hour) until it meets the done test with a long cake tester into the middle. Turn out on a rack and let cool.

When the cake is cool, scoop out the middle - the kids would eat this part - and stick a bare naked Barbie doll in the middle.

Sometimes, you can get bust and head cake toppings, which just fit on top of the cake.

Then ice with a decorator base. Use your favorite tips (I would stick with the little star tip) and decorates with ruffles and flounces as your skill permits - mine didn't extend too far. I made roses, and when they were dry I'd put them on the cake, too. When you come up to the doll, decorate her with icing too. I would even put a frosting flower in her hair.

This is so easy, Tina helped me with the ones I did for her sisters. The part their father, John, liked was serving the cake and seeing those Barbie legs appear!

By the way, we used as our "text book" in this class Wilton's Pictorial Encyclopedia of Modern Cake Decorating. For a number of years when I had to become a working woman and lost the art of being a mom, this book was part of the children's favorite picture book library. I rescued it a few years ago and restored it to my recipe book collection - complete with crayon marks, scissor cuts, and all.

By the way, our first Christmas there in Lutjenburg John took our little, cheap, Christmas lights and our electricity converter and decorated Ingrid Evers' (she was my landlady's daughter and my best friend during those wonderful years) shoe store windows American style. People came from all over town and the surrounding villages to see Ingrid's store - the only one lit with electricity as opposed to candles. (She said business was tremendous as a result). The following year other stores had electric light displays. This happy Christmas/ Weihnachten with Ingrid and her family is one of my best memories.

German's Chocolate Cake from the Lion House Cookbook

1 pkg (4 oz) German's sweet chocolate
1/2 cup boiling water 3/4-cup butter or margarine
1:1/2 cups sugar 4 eggs
1-teaspoon vanilla 2:1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1-teaspoon baking soda 1-teaspoon salt
1-cup buttermilk Coconut Pecan Frosting

Melt chocolate in 1/2 cup boiling water. Cool. Cream butter. Gradually add sugar; continue creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. (If you like, you can try my trick for extra lightness by separating whites from yolks, beating separately, then folding together before adding to the creamed mixture.) Blend in vanilla and melted chocolate.

Sift flour with soda and salt. (If you don't have cake flour, did you know that you could substitute the same amount of regular sifted flour, but minus 2 tablespoons for each cup?) Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to chocolate mixture, beating after each addition until smooth. (Since we are not buttermilk drinkers, I usually kept a box of Bakers {I think this is the brand} dried buttermilk and mixed up my own as I needed it for this cake or pancakes recipes).

Pour into three 9" layer pans that have been greased. (I cheated and made this cake in a large square cake pan).

Bake at 375 for 35 to 40 minutes or until cake tests as done - you know, the toothpick or thumb imprint or pulling away from the sides of the pan tricks. Cool before spreading with frosting.

Coconut Pecan Frosting

3 egg yolks 1-cup sugar
1-cup evaporated milk 1/2-cup butter or margarine
1-teaspoon vanilla 1:1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine egg yolks, sugar, milk, butter and vanilla. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Add coconut and pecans. Beat until thick enough to spread.

Makes 3 cups, enough to cover the top of your 9 x 13 x 2 cake.

Charlotte's White House Intern (Because It's So Easy) Carrot Cake

1-cup sugar 1/2-cup oil
2 beaten eggs 1:1/2 cups grated carrots
1 cup unsifted flour
1/2-teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda
1-teaspoon cinnamon
(Optional) 1/4 cup nuts, raisins, coconut

Combine sugar and oil. Add eggs. Mix well. Add grated carrots. Slowly stir in sifted dry ingredients. Add nuts and raisins.

Pour batter into lightly greased and floured 9x9 inch square cake pan. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes, or until it tests done. Frost when cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4-cup margarine
2:1/2 cups powdered sugar
Hot water, if needed.

Cream the cream cheese, margarine, and sugar. Add hot water, 1 tsp at a time, until you reach spreading consistency. Mix well.

Utah Scots Whiskey Cake

When we lived in Salt Lake City, I was a member of the Utah Caledonian Society – Scott Matheson was the Governor of Utah then, I believe, and I had a few nice conversations with him, which were probably totally forgettable to the Governor, because his grandfather came from Dundee.

Anyhow, the ladies in the Society put together a fund raising cookbook about 1985, I think. The poor soul who contributed this recipe wrote in Irish whiskey of all things, so I have no compunction in changing this ingredient to the real stuff from Scotland’s whiskey trail. (But the poem that follows is about a celtic cousin, an Irishman begorrah!)

2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp good Scots whiskey
(but maybe we should leave it Irish whiskey, because who ever heard of putting good Scottish usquebah in a CAKE! Cutty Sark and the de’il she danced for would birl in their graves!)
1:1/2 cups raisins
cup butter
cup sugar
3 eggs
2:1/2 cups cake flour
pinch of salt
tsp baking powder

Combine lemon juice and whiskey (that does it, use IRISH whiskey for this cake!) with the raisins and soak overnight in a covered bowl to draw the flavor of the whiskey and lemon juice into the fruit.

Melt butter in microwave and combine with the sugar.

Add the eggs one at a time; add a teaspoon of the flour, beating well after adding each egg and another teaspoon of the flour.

Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together and fold into the egg mixture. Then fold in the whiskey and raisin mixture.

Pour into greased, wax paper lined 7" cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Test for doneness and cool completely before serving.

Slainte! Cheers! Up yer kilt!


This is a poem I learned once to practice dialect. The humour is good and typical of the Celtic ability to laugh at yourself as well as the foibles of others – no wonder Burns wrote so well "Oh, would some pow’r the giftie gi’e us, to see oorsels as ithers see us." Scots do a good job of that.

Auch, a charmin’ young colleen
Was Kitty O’Toole,
The lily of swate Tipperary,
Wid a voice like a thrush
And wid cheeks like a rose
An’a a figure as neat as a fairy.

I saw her one night,
Sure she looked like a quane,
In the glory of swate one and twenty.
As she sat wi’ Mcginty’s big arm round her waist,
Auch but I envied McGinty.

An’ soon after than,
In the swate summer time,
The boys and the girls were invited
By Mickey O’Toole o’ the cabin beyant,
To see Kate and McGinty united.

An’ when in the church they were made into wan,
An’ the priest gave them blessings in plenty,
An’ Kitty looked swater than ever before,
Auch, but I envied McGinty.

But the time it did pass, and McGinty he died.
Sure my heart was all broke up with pity,
To see her so mournful, lonely and said,
That I went and got married to Kitty.

And now when I look where McGinty is laid
Wid a stone o’er his head, cauld and flinty,
As he lies there so peaceful, quiet and still,
Auch, but I envy McGinty.


Brownies, learned from the Fannie Merritt Farmer book

I'm happy to see that this Boston Cooking School Cookbook is now reprinted and available at Barnes and Nobles, where I like to go, look around, and smell the bookbinding!

It was either Tina or Stephanie who decided this was the book with the brownie recipe and then also decided that the easiest way to find that recipe (page 429) was to take some brownie mix and smear it at the top of the page - it's still there!

Butter a shallow pan 9 x 9 inches. Set the oven at 325 degrees.

In a microwave, melt 2 oz unsweetened chocolate and 1/4 cup butter or margarine.

Stir in 1-cup sugar, 2 unbeaten eggs, 1/8-teaspoon salt, 1/2-cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup walnut meats, and 1-teaspoon vanilla.

Spread in the pan. Bake until dry on top and almost firm to the touch (30 to 35 minutes). Turn upside down on a cake cooler and cut in squares. Makes about 16.

Chocolate Chip Cookies, from the Culinary Arts book

(This is the best recipe I've ever used for chocolate chips - but double it if you're the cook and ever hope to eat any!)

1:1/8-cup flour
1/4-teaspoon soda
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/4-cup brown sugar
1/2-cup sugar
1 beaten egg
1-teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (which the kids never let me put in)
1:1/2 cup chocolate chips

Sift flour, soda and salt together. Cream shortening and brown and granulated sugars together. Add egg and vanilla. Beat thoroughly. Add sifted dry ingredients.

Fold in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop from teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) about 10 minutes.

Makes about 50 medium sized cookies.

Chocolate Chip Kisses

(This is the cookie we bring out every holiday and I felt so good that I was the one who shared this with John's mother - who is one of the world's finest homemakers, along with Novene Ward - and his family.)

2 egg whites
(again, if you want any cookies left over after you take them out of the oven, double this recipe!)
1/8-teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8-teaspoon salt (this measurement is sometimes know as "a pinch")
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4-cup chocolate chips (if you use too may your cookies will bake up gooey)
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped walnut meats
1/2-teaspoon vanilla

Beat eggs whites until foamy, then add salt and cream of tarter (this helps egg whites stiffen up - kind of like a kitchen Viagra) and continue beating until eggs are stiff but not dry. (Maybe the allusion to Viagra is an unfortunate one?) Add sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.

Fold in chocolate chips, nuts and vanilla. Drop from teaspoon onto ungreased Teflon cookie sheet (or else your meringue will stick horribly - before we had Teflon baking sheets I had to rescue brown grocery bags, open them up and lay them on a regular cookie sheet and this is what I would bake these cookies on.)

Bake in slow oven (300 degrees) 25 minutes. Let cool a little then remove from the cookie sheet. Makes about 18 small cookies.

(For weddings, you can forget the nuts and add coconut if your kids will let you! Or for other occasions you can add color to the meringue for holidays like Christmas or Easter, etc. You can also flavor the meringue with peppermint and it's fun to eat.)

Curly Locks

This was my favorite nursery rhyme for Tina because of her curly hair when she was a baby:

Curly Locks, Curly Locks,
Wilt thou by mine?
Thou shalt not wash dishes
Nor yet feed the swine.
But sit on a cushion
And sew a fine seam,
And feast upon strawberries,
Sugar and cream.

Now, that’s the life every young bride used to dream of!

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