Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Farmer Boy "Apples 'n' Onions"

If  you've ever read Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, "Farmer Boy", then you probably remember that a dish of "Apples 'n' Onions" was pretty important to Almanzo.  I've posted this recipe so that you can find out, first hand, why it was so important to him!  *Note: This is not the original recipe, which his mother made for him! (I know that, because I made the recipe up to suit myself!)

  • 3 Cups of tart apples, (any variety you'd like - I use Granny Smith & Fuji)
  • 3 Cups of onions, (any variety you'd like - I use yellow, sweet or white)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of bacon drippings
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter
  • ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, (just a pinch of each)
Directions: Peel and core the apples.  Make very thin slices of them (1/8 inch or less - what I'd call "Paper thin").  Peel and slice the onions similarly.  Over medium heat, in a large fry pan, heat the bacon drippings and butter.  *Note: don't use an iron skillet - because the vinegar might interact and give you a bad taste.
Add the onions, vinegar and sugar. Cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent burning and sticking, till the onions caramelize and turn golden brown.  Add the apples and spices.  Cover the pan again, stirring and simmering again, till the apples become limp.

That's it!  Pretty simple, isn't it?
I served this up here with sausage and a slice of multi-grain bread, but you can serve it any way you see fit.  It goes good, as a side dish, with many foods; especially pork.  I'll bet Almanzo would have been happy to eat it all by itself!

Once you've tried this, you'll see why, "Almanzo said that what he liked most in the world was fried apples 'n' onions." (Laura Ingalls Wilder - from "Farmer Boy")

If you like this recipe, please let us all know, by leaving a comment here. Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"National Pasta Month" continues!

This is a follow-up to my recipe for making fresh pasta.

Add color to you meal in a special way with this idea!
Farmer Boy Multi-Color Pasta
 If you make your own pasta, following my previous posting for that, or otherwise - this suggestion is for making your pasta into different colors!  (Shown here are some noodles I made.) 

All you need to do is add the natural coloring from some vegetables.  As you prepare you pasta dough, adding the egg to the flour, just add the veggies.  To make the green color, just add this to the egg: about 2 Tablespoons of cooked spinach, (chopped or processed in a blender), for the orange color: 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste, for a deep red color: 2 Tablespoons of processed beets.  This would be a great project - to experiement with different veggies to make all sorts of colors!  I guess you could be really creative and make a rainbow of colors for a meal! 

"Those who stop dreaming never accomplish anything." Laura Ingalls Wilder

If you come up with some other colors, I hope you'll leave a comment here to let us all know about them!  Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Recipe for overgrown Zucchini

Still celebrating "National Dessert Month"!  Since it comes at the end of the harvest season, and most folks have those extra large, overgrown Zucchinis and don't know what to do with them - this recipe takes care of that!
Farmer Boy Zucchini Cobbler
Ingredients: (filling)
  • 8 Cups of Zucchini, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2/3 Cup of lemon juice
  • 1 Cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 4 Cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 Cups of sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cups of cold butter, diced
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Directions: After preparing the Zucchini, cook in a saucepan, over medium heat, along with the lemon juice, till it is tender (15 - 20 minutes).  Stir in the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Simmer another couple minutes.  Remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and sugar.  Cut in the butter.  Stir 1/2 cup of the mixture into the zucchini mixture. 
Press half of the rest of the crust mixture into a greased baking pan (11 X 13 inches).  Spread the zucchini mixture over this and then sprinkle the remaining crust mixture over the top.  Lightly sprinkle the cinnamon over the entire top.
Bake at 375 degrees F. for 35 minutes, till golden and bubbly.
Just for fun, when you serve this, don't tell anyone what it is - they will guess it to be some sort of fruit cobbler.  Once they have eaten and enjoyed it, you may wish to tell them and they will be quite surprised!  I think everyone will be pleased!

When you make this, please leave a comment here to let us all know how it went.  Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Monday, October 22, 2012

Recipe for "National Nut Day"

Well, here I am again, this time combining "National Dessert Month": along with this special day!  I just couldn't resist passing along this great and simple dessert!

This is one I made up a while back, but it gets pulled out every now and then, because it's just a favorite of so many folks.
Farmer Boy Chocolate Walnut Cream Pie
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups of sugar
  • 1/3 Cup of corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 Cups of whole milk
  • 2 oz. melted semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Cups of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 pre-made pie crust
Directions: (I used a store bought Oreo Crust & brushed the inside with egg white, then baked it at 375 degrees F. for 5 minutes. You could make your own, by crushing the cookie part of the Oreos and mixing it with butter, like a graham cracker crust.  Or you may wish to use a conventional flour crust. Either one works great!)
In a large saucepan, cream together the sugar and eggs.  Stir in the corn starch, salt, milk, chocoate and vanilla.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, till it thickens. (Bubbles should break and craters remain.)
Stir in the walnuts (reserve some for topping).  Pour into pie crust.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
You may wish to serve this with whipped cream topping or you could do a meringue topping.

Hope you'll make this and then leave a comment here.  Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Farmer Boy Recipe for "National Dessert Day"

You may wish to use this recipe to continue your celebration of "National Dessert Month", or "National Dessert Day", or for "National Nothing Special Day"!   :)
Now, I've tried all varieties of Coconut Cream Pies - from "Pudding Mix Pies" to those made from "Scratch" and those topped with a ready-made topping, to those topped with meringue.  This recipe is my, "Made from scratch" version.  If you like those others, go for it!  If you are counting calories or sugar grams, this probably won't be for you!  But if you want to jump into a pie with both feet, and come up licking your chops, then maybe this is for you!
Farmer Boy Coconut Cream Pie
  • 8 Tablespoons of sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Cups whole milk
  • 1 Cup heavy cream
  • 3 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
  • 1 Cup flaked coconut
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 pre-baked pie shell (9 inch)
Directions: In a heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar, milk, cream, flour and egg yolks.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla and nutmeg, then the coconut.  Continue stirring, till the mixture is thick - probably another 5 minutes or so.  *Note: it should be slightly thicker than pudding.  Remove from heat to cool slightly.  Then pour it into the pre-baked pie shell. (You may use a store bought pie shell if you'd like.  But, I make mine from scratch ahead of time!)
Go on to make the meringue.  Using an electric mixer and the whisk beater, beat the egg whites with 4 Tablespoons of sugar, till stiff, with peaks.  Spread this over the pie, up to the edges.  Sprinkle coconut on top and place in a 425 degree F. oven to bake for about 10 to 14 minutes. (The meningue should begin to brown on the peaks and the coconut should begin to get a light brown color also.) *Note: if you have a browning element in your oven, you can bake at 375 degrees F. and then use the browning element to finish it up.
I like to chill my pie completely before serving, but warm is OK too!

Just one more hint: Try using 1/2 cup of toasted coconut, combined with the flaked, when making the filling.  And, for an even richer pie: substitute some of the milk with coconut milk!

"Just a little thread of gold, running through a fabric, brightens the whole garment, so women's work at home, while only the doing of little things, is like the golden gleam of sunlight that runs through and brightens all the fabric of civilization."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

I hope you'll try this pie and then let us all know, by leaving a comment here. Thanks.
The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Friday, October 12, 2012

Farmer Boy Recipe - Fresh Pasta

What better way to celebrate "National Pasta Month", than to make fresh pasta?
Like so many, I have spent years buying dried pasta at the grocery store.  I never knew how much better fresh pasta was, till I finally decided to make it for myself!

I have coupled the process of making pasta along with a spaghetti sauce recipe that I got from an Italian lady years ago.  But, let me first say this: there are probably as many recipes out there for "Authentic Italian Sauce" as there are villages in Italy and maybe those even vary according to the traditions of each family!  This recipe is one that Maria gave me.  She came from northern Italy.  I watched her make it and have tried to duplicate everything. But there is still some variance between hers and mine.  She made a very large pot of sauce, because she was taught that way by her mother, who came from a large family.  Her mother learned it from her mother and so on down in their ancestry.  So I have adopted the basic recipe to fit my needs, not having a large family to cook for - if you, on the other hand, have a large family to cook for, then you'll need to adjust the amounts of ingredients to fit your needs.  And, as I've said, this is only one cook's interpretation of authentic Italian sauce.

First the instructions for making fresh pasta: *Note: If you like making bread from scratch, you'll like this too!  It is more of an art than a science!
  • Using flour (Whole Wheat, or other - I use Semolina Flour), make a mound (maybe about a cup) on a clean large bread board or hard surface, like a counter top
  • Make a well in the center of the flour
  • Add an egg (or eggs, depending on how much flour you are using) in the well
  • Gently loosen the yolk, but don't beat vigorously
  • Using a fork or your hands. gradually bring the flour into the egg from all sides
  • Using your floured hands, begin to mix and knead the mixture
  • As you knead, - you'll be looking to create a dough that is smooth, not too sticky (This may take about 10 minutes)
  • Once your dough is smooth, use a rolling pin and roll it out (you may need to divide the dough into smaller portions to do this)
  • At this point, the dough needs to be cut into the desired pasta - you can do this with a pasta cutting machine or with a pizza or pastry wheel or even a sharp kitchen knife - then it can be used immediately or dried
Fresh pasta cooks in about half the time, or less, than dried pasta (you'll have to experiment with that).
Also, if you use wheat flour it is lower in glycemic index, higher in fiber and protein.
For spaghetti noodles: you'll want to cook them in boiling water, "al dente" (this is Italian - it is translated as "to the tooth" and means to cook the noodles so that they are not too hard and not too mushy, just cookable).
Now the sauce recipe:

Farmer Boy Spaghetti Sauce
*Note: this is the basic recipe & can be used for a variety of dishes
Ingredients: *Note: the amounts of each will vary, according to the total amount of sauce needed (this recipe reflects my personal usage, for 6 to 8 servings over spaghetti noodles or Ravioli)
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium sized green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion, minced or finely chopped
  • 1 rib of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large can of tomato puree
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon of chopped basil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of chopped, dried oregeno
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seed
  • 1/8 teaspoon of mint extract
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional: 2 links of Italian sausage, without the casing (mild or hot flavor)
Directions: Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.   Drop in the peppers, onions, and celery to sweat. (if you are using the meat, brown it at the same time)
Add all the rest of the ingredients, cover and simmer for at least 1/2 hour. (If you like a little kick to your sauce, you can add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper seeds.)
"We eat too much! Everyone says so! But we keep right on eating." Laura Ingalls Wilder

"Some people eat to live, others live to eat!" The Old Man in the Bib Overalls
You are welcome to tweak this recipe to suit your own tastes.  If you make this recipe, please let us all know, by leaving a comment here.  Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Apple Walnut Bread

Still celebrating "National Dessert Month"!  Maybe I'll make it my own, "National Dessert Year" next year!  This is a recipe that I've developed and made for some 40 years. Gosh, am I that old already?  Seems like only yesterday.  Anyway, When I had an orchard on my farm, I used what I grew there, Golden Delicious Apples.  Now that I don't have the orchard, I am using an apple that is a little more firm and tart, Granny Smith.  But if you don't like either one of those apples, use what you like!
Farmer Boy Apple Walnut Bread
  • 2 1/2 Cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons of cooking oil
  • 3/4 Cup of whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 Cup of walnuts, chopped
  • 1/3 Cup of raisins
  • 1/3 Cup of unsweeted, shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 Cups of apples, chopped (peel if you prefer)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Stir in the milk, oil and egg, followed by the nuts and fruits.  When completely mixed, pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake for about an hour (till probe comes out clean).  Remove promptly from the pan to cool.
Preparation for making this recipe goes fairly quick - you don't have to be real exact in the chopping or size of everything, it just always comes out, no matter what you do! That's probably why I love making it!
The coconut keeps it moist and the raisins just seem to compliment the apples and nuts.  I like to use both regular and golden raisins.  Sometimes I add about a Tablespoon of apple cider or raisin juice along with the milk.  And when it strikes me, I may use more cinnamon.  Sometimes I even glaze the loaf with cinnamon, butter and powdered sugar. Whatever adjustments you wish to make to this recipe, is up to you!  But you can't go wrong with this basic recipe.
It is fun making this in the Fall of the year, when apples are abundant and it's nice to have the oven on!  And then the whole house smells like apples and cinnamon!

If you make this, please let us all know, by leaving a comment here. Thanks.  The Old Man in the Bib Overalls

"Those who stop dreaming never accomplish anything." Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October is "National Dessert Month"!

Been waiting all year for this one!  What a good excuse to make some extra desserts!  If you've had a bad summer, maybe this will help ease the pain.
This recipe is one of those old-timey ones, that has its roots in the Pioneer Days.  It was something that was made easily out on the trail, where most of the ingredients were brought along.  It was a recipe used by many on cattle roundups, served out of their Chuck Wagon.

The origin of the name is associated with the dogs or puppies who helped round up the cattle or protect the camp or prairie home.

The basis for this particular recipe comes from 90+ year old, Freda, who is Almanzo Wilder's cousin.  She spent many years in her youth involved in the family Sheep Camp, trailing sheep from one state to another.
Farmer Boy Spotted Pup
  • 3/4 Cup of uncooked white rice (You can use pre-cooked if you have it on hand)
  • 2 Cups of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter
  • 3 Cups of milk
  • 1/2 Cup of cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 - 3/4 Cup of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3/4 Cup of raisins
Directions: Cook the rice in a 2 or 2 1/2 quart pan of salted water with the butter, by placing the rice in a pan of water, bringing it to a boil.  Cover the pan and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, till all the water is absorbed.  Add the milk and cream.  Simmer for 10 minutes with cover on the pan. *Be careful to not let it boil over.
In a bowl, stir together the eggs, sugar and cinnamon.  Add some of the rice into this mixture and then add the whole mixture into the cooking rice.  Simmer, covered, for another 5 to 10 minutes.   Stir in the raisins and flavorings.  Cover and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, to soften the raisins.
This may be served warm or cold, topped with milk or not.  If you like, you could add chopped nuts too.
* Please note: This recipe has nothing to do with the stew that Freda told me about, which she was once served by a Native American relative.  They told her, "Dig deep, get dog!"

* Also note: No dogs were harmed in the making of this recipe. :)
If you make this, please let us all know, by leaving a comment here. Thanks. The Old Man in the Bib Overalls