October 31, 2010

Linus....Forever the Optimist!

The Maine House celebrates Halloween....we are finally ready for our little ghosts, goblins and witches....and a few Bob the in particular!

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain , pronounced "sah-win".

The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter.

 The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.
The festival would frequently involve bonfires. It is believed that the fires attracted insects to the area which attracted bats to the area. These are additional attributes of the history of Halloween. Masks and consumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.

Part of the history of Halloween  is Halloween costumes. The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages, and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of "souling," when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy.

It does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the earliest known uses in print of the term "trick or treat" appearing in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939. Thus, although a quarter million Scots-Irish immigrated to America between 1717 and 1770, the Irish Potato Famine brought almost a million immigrants in 1845–1849, and British and Irish immigration to America peaked in the 1880s, ritualized begging on Halloween was virtually unknown in America until generations later.

Trick-or-treating spread from the western United States eastward, stalled by sugar rationing that began in April 1942 during World War II and did not end until June 1947.

Early national attention to trick-or-treating was given in October 1947 issues of the children's magazines Jack and Jill and Children's Activities, and by Halloween episodes of the network radio programs The Baby Snooks Show in 1946 and The Jack Benny Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1948. The custom had become firmly established in popular culture by 1952, when Walt Disney portrayed it in the cartoon Trick or Treat, Ozzie and Harriet were besieged by trick-or-treaters on an episode of their television show, and UNICEF first conducted a national campaign for children to raise funds for the charity while trick-or-treating.
A traditional Scottish form of divining one's future spouse is to carve an apple in one long strip, then toss the peel over one's shoulder. The peel is believed to land in the shape of the first letter of the future spouse's name. Unmarried women were told that if they sat in a darkened room and gazed into a mirror on Halloween night, the face of their future husband would appear in the mirror. However, if they were destined to die before marriage, a skull would appear!

After the evening of trick or treating, we are serving our little treaters the most delicious ....

Estelle's Chicken Stew with Biscuit Topping
6 split chicken breasts, with bone and skin
3 Tablesspoons Olive Oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups diced carrots (4 carrots), blanched for 2 minutes
1 10-ounce package frozen peas (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

For the biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley. Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter.

Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.

"Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere.
 He's gotta pick this one. He's got to.
 I don't see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one.
 You can look around and there's not a sign of hypocrisy.
 Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see."
Linus Van Pelt

October 30, 2010

It's a Walk in the Park!

The beauty of our autumn color is quickly fading.....oh but what a glorious season it has been! It was somewhat surprising to toodle around the past few days and notice that the trees are now somewhat baring the branches to welcome, yet brace themselves for cold winter months ahead. The crows are perched on their twigs, cawing into the cool October air. All of those magnificent colors of ambers and crimsons are now blanketing the lawns. I love to hear the crunches of the leaves as we walk along ...but don't forget to look down and take in the various shapes and colors that are beneath you....such wonderment!

The Maine House is walking....oh yes, and eating! We are celebrating the last day of October by taking a walk in the park.....join us as we pack our picnic and head off with tartan blankets, hot cups of apple cider and flavorful, hearty sandwiches and pasta!
Oh my.....and dessert will make you smile...and....continue walking.......

On these brisk autumn afternoons, we relish the notion of spending the entire day outside. It's a time for brilliant foliage and rambling nature walks — the crunch of leaves underfoot, a canopy of vibrant oranges and reds overhead.

We have both young and old joining in our walk in the park.....we planned the afternoon to accommodate both ages! Keep these tips in mind when planning your autumn afternoon of a visit to a walking trail or park!
Alternate between active and restful endeavors so that no one becomes overtired. Choose a nature walk that is agreeable to guests with all levels of energy — you want everyone to be able to participate; therein lies the fun. Pack lots of layers in autumn; the temperature tends to flip-flop, so bring blankets and extra clothing for everyone.

Go to a location where you can vary the activities — hiking, apple picking, crafts — enough to please the whole crowd, no matter their ages.

Think about dressing up cups of cider with lady apple slices and whole spices. For a festive and easy snack, package little bags of roasted pumpkin seeds for each of your guests. We did just this after carving our pumpkins into jack o' lanterns earlier this week. 

Preserve real leaves in a journal as a craft for the kids. Send the children out to search for specimens, then press them between the pages. After you get home, the kids can count how many oak, maple, and birch leaves they've found, and research the ones they don't know.

It will be a treasured family memory of your October day.......

Estelle's Bow Tie Pasta with Sausage and Sweet Red Peppers
8 ounces dried bow tie pasta
3/4 pound fresh spicy Italian sausage links
2 medium sweet peppers, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup vegetable broth or beef broth
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup snipped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

 Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return pasta to pan. Meanwhile, cut sausages into 1-inch pieces. Cook sausage and sweet pepper in a large skillet over medium-high heat until sausage is brown. Drain off fat.  Add broth and black pepper to skillet. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Toss pasta with sausage mixture

Estelle's Perfect Autumn Sandwich
1 loaf focaccia bread
olive oil
salt and pepper, & Italian Seasonings
8 Tbsp. butter, room temperature

4 Tbsp. mayonnaise
6 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 lb.smoked turkey, sliced
1/4 lb.honey ham, sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 lb. provolone cheese, sliced
1 small tomato, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh spinach, shredded

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.Season bread by brushing top of loaf with olive oil and sprinkling with salt and other seasonings. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes in a 300 degree oven. Remove and cool.

Estelle's Gooey Chocolate Caramel Dream Dessert
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (about 38 wafers)
30 vanilla caramels
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
2 cups chopped pecans
1/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1/4 cup whipping cream

 In a medium mixing bowl, stir together chocolate wafer crumbs and melted butter. Press onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes.

Cool slightly on a wire rack.
 In a heavy medium saucepan, melt caramels in caramel ice cream topping over low heat, stirring often. Stir in the first 1/4 cup whipping cream. Remove from heat; stir in nuts. Spread over crust. Cool; cover and chill for 1 hour.
 For topping: In a heavy small saucepan, melt chocolate. Remove from heat; stir in remaining whipping cream. Drizzle or spread over caramel-pecan mixture. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Makes 12 servings.

“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things...
I play with leaves.
 I skip down the street and run against the wind.”
Leo F. Buscaglia quotes (American guru, tireless advocate of the power of love, 1924-1998)

October 29, 2010

Autumn Days of Wine Tasting!

The Maine House is hosting an Autumn Wine Tasting gathering this evening. Estelle's has selected two wines for tonight's event, a Gewurztraminer and a Cabernet Sauvignon. We did a little research on these selections and perhaps this will inspire you to host a small gathering of your own.

Thick and rich wine, which can age, Gewurztraminer is better with sauerkraut, sausages and the Alsatian cheese Munster, curry seasoned dishes, chinese and mexican cooking and other spiced dishes. Smoked salmon is a very good match with this wine. A Gewurztraminer can even be served as a dessert wine.The wine is delicious, fruity and with strong aromas, a very perfumed and flowery bouquet. Gewurztraminer is sweeter than Riesling, which is a dry wine. Gewurztraminer originally comes from the village of Tramin in Italy, and some Italian Gewurztraminer is still produced. The most popular Gewurztraminers, however, come from the Alsace region of France. The main aroma from Gewurztraminer is one of fresh lychee fruit. This scent is very noticeable and pleasant to most people. The grape exhibits other spice as well – the name derives from the German word Gewurz, which means 'spiced'.

Cabernet Sauvignon  is a medium- to full-bodied red wine so choose foods of similar weight. Fish and poultry aren’t your best choices. The flavors of the food will be overwhelmed by the wine. Choose instead, savory foods and those with a higher fat content to stand up to this red wine.
Appetizers: Gouda, Parmesan, Gorgonzola or blue cheese, grapes, peaches or other non-citrus fruit, nuts and smoked meats.
Aromas you may notice are black cherries, raspberry, red bell pepper, cocoa, licorice and tobacco.
Flavors you may notice are blackberries, black currant, plum and raspberries. These will be complemented with flavors of smoke, oak, cocoa, cloves, licorice or coffee.

Sit down and relax with guests over this autumn-inspired drink. Combining apple-cranberry juice, plums, and a fruity white wine, this cocktail not only looks beautiful but it delivers a taste of fall.

Estelle's Autumn Punch
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1/2 of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 64-ounce bottle apple-cranberry juice
4 medium purple and/or green plums, pitted and sliced
1 750-ml bottle Gewurztraminer, or other fruity white wine
Ice cubes

Place cloves and vanilla bean in center of a double-thick 6-inch square of 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth. Bring corners of cloth together; tie closed with clean string. Pour apple-cranberry juice into a large container or pitcher. Add plums and spice bag. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.

Estelle's Bruschetta Gorgonzola Cheese Tastes
36 slices (1/2-inch thick) baguette bread, about 1 loaf
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces Gorgonzola, sliced
3 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Arrange the sliced baguette on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.
Arrange the cheese on the toasts and bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.
Drizzle the toasts with honey. Place on a serving platter and serve immediately.

"Age appears to be best in four things -
 old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust,
 and old authors to read." L. Bacon

October 28, 2010

Tis' Near Halloween......

It's almost time....for little witches, ghosts and goblins to be out n' about on Halloween night....the excitement of dressing in their chosen little costume for the evening and strolling the neighborhood, taking in all the decorations & lights ... seeing how full their pumpkins will be at the end of the night with all of those delectable chocolate bars and packages of candy corn. Halloween was magical when I was a small child. My neighborhood was Briarwood which consisted of three streets...long streets with towering pine trees and ranch homes built in the 1950's.

We actually went to each house believe it or not. Perhaps things were a bit tamer during that era. We were bunny rabbits, ballerinas, gypsies, cowboys and cowgirls....specifically Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, black cats dressed in our black dance leotards and tights with little black masks. Miss Helen made her famous popcorn balls every year, along with her spiced tea. The nurse who lived at the end of our street, Hartsdale, made autumn punch and always invited her little trick or treaters in to sit and have a cup of punch as we told her about our costumes. Then off we continued to fill our pumpkins and wave to each other as we walked from house to house. The jack o' lanterns were glowing from windows and was a kinder, gentler way of life and I would love to think it least it does as The Maine House! I am a lucky girl to have these as my Halloween memories!

The colonists cultivated the first white pumpkins, and christened them with descriptive names to include Green Ghost and Big Moon. 

Apple Caramel Cupcakes
1 package spice or carrot cake mix
2 cups chopped, peeled tart apples
20 caramels
3 tablespoons of milk
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
12 Popsicle sticks

Prepare cake batter according to package directions; fold in apples.
Fill cupcake pan 3/4 full with batter. Bake at 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.
In a saucepan, cook the caramels and milk over low heat until smooth. Spread over cupcakes. Sprinkle with toasted pecans. Insert Popsicle sticks in the center of each cupcake to resemble caramel apples.

Banana Nut Cupcakes
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large ripe bananas               
  1 cup chopped pecans
          1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the eggs and oil and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened; do not beat. Stir in the banana, pecans, and vanilla. Divide the batter among the cupcake holders and bake for 23 to 28 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake layers in the pans for 10 minutes, and then place them out onto a rack to cool completely. While the cake cools, make the frosting.

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter (1 stick),  room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a bowl, blend together the cream cheese and butter. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Stir in the pecans, or reserve them to sprinkle over the cupcakes. Fill and frost the cupcakes when they are completely cooled.

When witches go riding, and black cats are seen...the moon laughs and whispers, 'tis near Halloween. -19th century Halloween postcard

October 27, 2010

Getting Better with Age!

Traditions play a huge part in our family at The Maine House! Miss Helen always produced a most marvelous rum cake every Christmas holiday. It was one of the most beautiful and most flavorful cakes she ever made and to think it was rather easy to prepare. The rum cake has also been a tradition in Old English cooking and we thought we would find out a little more on how this delectable dessert came to be in our dinner discussions last Sunday evening!

Rum Cake is a moist and tasty cake that truly gets better with age. It is often referred to as blackcake. It keeps, freezes and mails well because the rum acts as a preservative. Rum cake has a long history and has been enjoyed for hundreds of years.

Caribbean.....What today is called the Caribbean Rum Cake was first bought to the Caribbean Islands by English settlers in the mid-17th century. Its recipe was altered by Africans who were brought to the islands during the slave trade.

English Pudding...The original recipe was similar to English pudding, which is actually a thick cake. The standard method of steaming was changed to baking and the ingredients also changed, most noticeably by the addition of rum.

Charles Austen......"Our own particular little brother" ....Jane Austen to Cassandra....January 21, 1799
Charles John Austen CB (1779 – 7 October 1852) was an officer in the Royal Navy. He served during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and beyond, eventually rising to the rank of rear-admiral.

As a Naval man, Charles Austen would have been quite familiar with the Rum rations offered at sea, and with his many years in Bermuda and the Caribbean, would, no doubt have been familiar with rum cake, as well. Just as rum was adapted from available resources, so rum cake is a variation on classic Christmas, or Plum Pudding recipes-- instead of boiling it for hours in a pudding cloth, however, cooks in the tropics took to baking the ingredients in a cake tin-- saving a lot of labor and heat in the kitchen!

"So romantic is the history of rum that it has long since been adopted as the drink of the working class man throughout the world. This might be due to its association with the “fighting man” and the strength of victorious sailors fighting for the New World; or perhaps, the defeat of Napoleon’s fleet by Admiral Nelson’s rum drinking crew at the crucial battle of Trafalgar; or maybe down to the swashbuckling, freedom-tales of Caribbean pirates handed down through the centuries. Whichever, it is clear that rum has had a checkered history undeniably linked to the riskier business of the day.

One of the main challenges of sixteenth century sea voyages was providing their crews with a liquid supply to last long journeys. Navy captains turned to the most readily available sources of liquid in the day – water and beer, with no real discrimination made between the two. Water contained in casks was the quicker of the two to spoil by algae, but beer also soured when stored for too long. Royal Navy sailors took to drinking their rations of beer first and water second, sweetening the spoiling water with beer or wine to make it more palatable. The longer the voyage, the larger the cargo of liquid required, and the larger the problems of storage and spoilage would be.
As seafaring vessels entered the Caribbean regions captains took advantage of a cheaper and more readily available source of liquid sold by local sugar cane plantations called “kil devil” – a foul tasting by-product of sugar cane processing which later became known as rum. Rum quickly replaced the beer rations and became an official ration on British navy ships from 1655 onwards. Reportedly these rum rations were causing such a “rumbullion” (drunkenness and discipline problems) amongst the seamen that in 1740 Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon issued an order to dilute rum rations with sugar and lime juice (possibly why the mixture was reputed to fight off the sailors ‘lurgy’ or scurvy). Due to his nickname – the ‘old grog’ – this new mixture attained the new name of ‘grog’.
Dilution ratio’s varied aboard different ships and over time but the tradition continued until ‘black tot day’ on July 30, 1970 when the last “up spirits” rum measure was served aboard Royal Navy ships forever."

Estelle's Best Rum Cake
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
1 18-1/2 ounce yellow cake mix
1 1-3/4 ounce  instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup  dark rum
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark rum

Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts on bottom of pan. Combine all cake ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes on high with electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool in pan. Invert on serving plate. Prick top with fork. Drizzle glaze over top of cake. Use brush or spoon to put extra dripping back on cake.
Glaze: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.

The only way that I could figure they could improve upon Coca-Cola,
 one of life's most delightful elixirs, which studies prove will heal the sick and occasionally raise the dead,
 is to put rum or bourbon in it.” Lewis Grizzard

October 26, 2010

It's Hot and Spicy...... Chocolate Indulgence!

The Maine House continues to honor Old English Cooking this week. With the New England weather becoming rather cold and blustery, it's the perfect time to invent new delicious ways to create the most delicious hot cocoa recipes.

Could there be anything more comforting on a cold October evening than curling up in front of the fire with "Miss Kitty", a good book and your favorite mug of hot cocoa? Ahhhh...sheer bliss!

Sanditon, by Jane Austen, 1817.....In Sanditon, Austen explored her interest in the verbal construction of a society by means of a town – and a set of families – that is still in the process of being formed. Austen began work on the novel in January 1817 and abandoned it on March 18, 1817. The manuscript for Sanditon was originally titled "The Brothers," likely after the Parker brothers in the story. After her death, her family renamed it "Sanditon." The original manuscript includes only the first eleven chapters of the story.

He took his own cocoa from the tray, which seemed provided with almost as many teapots as there were persons in company --
Miss Parker drinking one sort of herb tea and Miss Diana another -- and turning completely to the fire, sat coddling and cooking it to his own satisfaction and toasting some slices of bread, brought up ready-prepared in the toast rack; and till it was all done, she heard nothing of his voice but the murmuring of a few broken sentences of self-approbation and success. When his toils were over, however, he moved back his chair into as gallant a line as ever, and proved that he had not been working only for himself by his earnest invitation to her to take both cocoa and toast. She was already helped to tea -- which surprised him, so totally self-engrossed had he been. "l thought I should have been in time," said he, "but cocoa takes a great deal of boiling." "l am much obliged to you," replied Charlotte. "But I prefer tea." "Then l will help myself," said he. "A large dish of rather weak cocoa every evening agrees with me better than anything." lt struck her, however, as he poured out this rather weak cocoa, that it came forth in a very fine, dark-coloured stream; and at the same moment, his sisters both crying out, "Oh, Arthur, you get your cocoa stronger and stronger every evening," with Arthur's somewhat conscious reply of "Tis rather stronger than it should be tonight"

Indulge in this chocolaty cold-weather treat to give your brain a boost on family game night: hot cocoa. Yes, research shows that enjoying a couple of cups may help boost blood flow in your brain by about 10 percent. All the better for clearing up brain fog and reducing your risk of dementia, too.

Go with the Flow
Think of your blood vessels as nutrient superhighways, delivering oxygen and other critical supplies to your muscles and organs -- including your brain. And blood vessels work best when they're wide and relaxed, allowing oxygen and nutrients to go where they need to go. That's where chocolate comes in. Flavonols found in chocolate increase blood flow by helping your blood vessels relax. (Here's another quick way to boost blood flow by about 20 percent.)

Brain Boost
Scientists think flavonol-rich cocoas help blood vessels relax by lifting levels of nitric oxide, a compound that makes blood vessels dilate. Blood-vessel-friendly flavonols are also found in tea and red wine. In the recent study, older adults consumed a couple of servings of cocoa every day for 2 weeks to get the 10 percent boost in blood flow to the brain.

Spiced Hot Chocolate
2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 strip lemon peel
1 3" cinnamon stick
pinch of ground cloves
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1tsp vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat the first 5 ingredients to boiling, reduce heat simmer 3 min. Remove from heat whisk in cocoa and vanilla until foamy.Strain into warmed cups. Top with whipped cream.
When using real milk in your hot cocoa, never overheat. Overheating milk destroys the flavor and texture. Milk temperature should never exceed 170-degrees.

•Add freshly grated cinnamon to the bottom of the cup before pouring in cocoa mixture and water. Stir thoroughly and garnish with whipped cream or a cinnamon stick.
•Add a drop of vanilla to the water as it's heating. Garnish with whipping cream.
•Add a dash of nutmeg to the powdered cocoa before adding water.
•Stirring your cocoa with a candy cane will create a festive and delicious peppermint drink.

"Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time.”

October 25, 2010

Old English Cooking...Historical Pie in your Eye!

The Maine House hosted a small gathering last evening for a local Historical Society. Our  dinner conversation was to be about Old English Cooking.

 I happened to recall that my dear, darling Grandmother used to make the most delicious cream and apple pie. Well, it just so happened that this pie Miss Grace made, was actually based on some intriguing history and was originally called Baked Apple Pudding from the Old English Cooking days!

In 1660 Robert May published The Accomplisht Cook, which became the most important cookbook of it's time. Robert was a professional chef who had trained in Paris. Catering to the aristocracy, he introduced many new recipes at a time when English cuisine was just beginning to borrow from the French.

One of his recipes, A Made Dish of Butter and Eggs, was gradually modified (the original called for 24 egg yolks!) into Marlborough Pie (or Marlborough Pudding) taken to the new world by the pilgrims, this recipe soon became a Thanksgiving favorite which remains to this day.

 Martha Lloyd, Jane Austen's Sister in-law , kept a similar recipe in her Household Book. Taken from Martha Lloyd's Household Book............

Take a dozen of pippens, pulp them through your cullender, take six eggs, sugar enough to make sweet, the rind of two lemons grated, a 1/4 of a lb of butter (melted with flour or water). Squeeze the juice of the two lemons, let the apples be cold before the ingredients are put together. Make a puff paste in the bottom of the dish, half an hour bakes it.

Second only to Cassandra, Martha Lloyd (1765-1843) seems to have been Jane Austen's dearest friend. Not much is known of them though it is supposed that Mrs. Lloyd, daughter of the Royal Governor of South Carolina, the Hon. Charles Craven, met her future husband in Newbury, when she and her sister lived there with an aunt, who took them in after they had fled from a mother who, by some accounts treated them badly and by others was insane. Regardless of the situation, both sisters married obscure country parsons. The Lloyds settled down and had four children. Martha, the oldest daughter, was born in 1765 and her sister Mary in 1771. A few years later, a smallpox epidemic took the life of their brother and left the two older sisters scarred for life, though the youngest, Eliza, seems to have escaped relatively unharmed.
It is clear from Jane Austen's correspondence that her friend Martha was privy to her great secret-- her writing. Her role as Jane Austen's friend and confidant cannot be undervalued and her contribution to what we know of Jane Austen's life is significant.  Not only letters written by Jane to Martha are on file, but her collection of recipes used at Chawton were later were compiled into The Jane Austen Household Book and more lately, The Jane Austen Cookbook. Martha Lloyd died in 1843.

Marlborough Pudding Pie
Juice and Peel of 1 Lemon
2 large fresh apples
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of sherry
One Pastry Pie Crust

Grate lemon peel and squeeze lemon juice into large bowl. Grate apples and toss them with lemon juice to coat the apples. Pour sugar over fruit and toss well. Stir butter, sherry and egg mixture into sweetened fruit. Line a deep 8-inch pie plate with pastry. Spoon fruit mixture into pie plate. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 45 minutes more. Test doneness by inserting knife into the center and pie is done if knife is clean. Cool before serving.

Grandmother Grace's Apple Cream Pie
4 apples (Cortland, McIntosh, or Granny Smith), peeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cinnamon
One Pastry Pie Crust

 Using a box grater or other hand-held grater set in a bowl, grate the apples down to the core. Sprinkle the grated mixture with lemon juice.
 In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the apples and sugar and cook, stirring often, until the sugar melts and boils. Reduce the heat slightly and let the mixture bubble steadily for 8 to 10 minutes or until the apples are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and let cool for at least 10 minutes.
 In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the cream, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir in the apples until well mixed. Pour the custard into the pie shell.
 Transfer to the 350 degree oven and bake the pie for 35 minutes or until the custard is set and a little puffy but not browned. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

"I am glad the new cook begins so well.
 Good Apple Pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness."
Jane to Cassandra.... October 17th, 1815

October 23, 2010

The Tiny Punkin' Wunkin'!

The Maine House had  house guests last  month. One guest was a tiny two year old! He delighted the entire house everyday and we enjoyed many great adventures with this little guy. This is one of his favorite "Mommie and Me" books.....
The Maine House honors him today...for bringing smiles and laughter to our family!

you're my little love bug my cuddly kangaroo, my funny bunny sweet as honey all of this is true.

you're my punkin wunkin, my peaches and my pie. my bread and butter peanut butter, the apple of my eye.

you're my wiggly worm, my busy little bee, my silly goose my moosie moose my monkey up a tree.

you're my ice cream sandwich, my watermelon gum, my soda pop my lollipop my yummy yummy yum!

you're my lovey dovey, my stinker winker bear, my silly willy picadilly alligator stare.

you're my bowl of cherries my toast with berry jam, my snickerdoodle chicken noodle what a little ham!

you're my tootsie wootsie, my squishy wishy cheeks, my tickle toes button nose, giggles squeals and squeaks.

you're everything that's wonderful you're all of the above. but most of all what you are is god's sweetest gift of love.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake
1 package German chocolate cake mix

1 15- ounce can of pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans-optional

 Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 13- by 9-inch pan with vegetable oil spray. Set the pan aside.
 Place the cake mix, pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter will be thick and should look well combined. Fold in the cinnamon chips until well distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, moothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven. Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes.

 Cinnamon-Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
8 T, butter, softened
1/2 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
 Place the cream cheese and the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and 3 3/4 cups of the confectioners' sugar. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the ingredients are moistened, 30 seconds. Add more sugar if the frosting seems too thin. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 2 minutes more.Spread the frosting over the cake in the pan with smooth, clean strokes. Sprinkle the pecans over the top.(optional)

I'll Love you Forever, I'll Like you for Always, As Long as I'm Living, My Grandbaby You'll Be!