Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pop's Honey Mustard Dressing

My dad never cooked until he had a stroke, spent time in rehab, and came home and showed off his new salad making skills. He had re-learned many skills by chopping. He also had a new salad dressing he wanted to make. No more bottled dressing for him.

This one is for you Pop. I know you're still making salad dressing for Mom, be it in heaven or where ever you both landed!

2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons mustard
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup olive oil

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mom's Zucchini Bread

My mom was not a good every day cook (she'd agree!), but she did have some great recipes in recipe box and boy, when she made these, we all were happy!

Here's one of my favorites: Zucchini Bread. Copied directly from the old, stained, index card from her at least 50 year old recipe file.

2 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon

Grease and flour pans.
Beat eggs, oil, sugar, zucchini, vanilla, together until creamy. Sift dry ingredients, add to creamed mixture. Bake at 325 1 hour.
Makes 2 loaves.

(Now, since I saw her make these many, many times, and I now have her pans, I know she used glass loaf pans. I also know that she never sifted the dry ingredients!)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Apple and Pumpkin Butters

In a previous life, long before online selling, I made jams and jellies and sold them to speciality food stores. My all time favorites that I still make are apple butter and apple pie jam. Apple butter takes hours of prep time and cooking. Apple pie jam is a breeze because you don’t have to peel, cut, simmer, rice, and simmer again. All you do is peel the apples, cut them up into small pieces, throw them in a pot with water, and simmer until they are soft but still have bits of pieces of apple left. Add sugar and simmer until it’s jelly-like. At this point, you have the option of safely canning or just throwing it in the fridge and eating it soon. My family eats it within a week, so there is never an issue with nasty growing things.

This week, I wanted to try something different – pumpkin butter. Seemed easy to me, and  since 15 oz cans of pureed pumpkin were on sale this week, I picked up a few.

First, a big, scary hitch while doing some recipe scanning– Home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash because the pumpkin is too thick and low in acid and nasty stuff may grow. Damn! There goes my plans to show off my new jam to the family. Then, I read further: “These pumpkin products must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.”  Well, that solves that problem since I just won’t make enough to store, just to eat now.

As usual, when cooking for myself and not to sell, I don’t follow a recipe. I found a few recipes for pumpkin butter and then adjusted to my tastes. I never use pectin so I knew I had to add natural pectin – apples. Just happened to have one sitting on the counter ready to go. I peeled it and boiled the peel and core in a little water, strained it and added it (and the cut up pieces of apple) to the pumpkin. Just a little more water, start with a cup of sugar and a pinch of cinnamon, and let the simmering begin.

Now, I have to admit right now that I like my butters sweet. I said I started with a cup of sugar, but I added more as the 30 or so minutes of simmering went along. The butters won’t appear think enough as they cook; it’s only after they cool down will they have that velvety, thick, spreadable consistency that makes a luscious butter.

Never happy to make something simple, I took out some of the pumpkin butter and mixed it in another pan with some frozen blueberries and apricot jam and let that simmer a bit. Wow!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


What is orienteering? Since becoming involved with the sport in 1992, I've heard this hundreds of times. And, as the publisher of the national magazine and Secretary of the Board of Directors of Orienteering USA, the governing body of the sport, I'm forever explaining what this crazy thing I do on weekends actually is.

Orienteering is the sport of navigation with map and compass. It's easy to learn, but always challenging. The object is to run, walk, ski, or mountain bike to a series of points shown on the map, choosing routes—both on and off trail—that will help you find all the points and get back to the finish in the shortest amount of time. The points on the course are marked with orange and white flags and punches, so you can prove you've been there. Each “control” marker is located on a distinct feature, such as a stream junction or the top of a knoll.

Orienteering is often called the “thinking sport” because it involves map reading and decision-making in addition to a great workout. Any kind of map may be used for orienteering (even a street map), but the best ones are detailed five-color topographic maps developed especially for the sport. O' maps show boulders, cliffs, ditches, and fences, in addition to elevation, vegetation, and trails.

Orienteering is a sport for everyone, regardless of age or experience. The competitive athlete can experience the exhilaration of moving through the woods at top speed, while the non-competitive orienteer can enjoy the forest at a more leisurely pace. Most events provide courses for all levels—from beginner to advanced—and the sport has been adapted for small children and people in wheelchairs.

Here's a map: