Pots de Creme

Chocolate pots de creme in an espresso cup
I thought these teeny espresso cups were the prefect size for this rich dessert.

My mother always talked about the “Meissen ware” that she hoped she would inherit from her parents. One Christmas, she got boxes full of dishes, much to her delight. They never got unwrapped and then time and things happened and they made their way to me. It’s not actually Meissen ware, it’s Minton, and quite a bit of it was broken. I was just finally getting around to unpacking it (we moved to our “forever home” a bit more than a year ago) and was reminded of how elegant they are. It only seemed appropriate to make a fancy dessert.

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Cheese Dish

Cheese dish on a plate with asparagus
It certainly doesn’t look controversial, does it?

This is possibly the most controversial dish in my father’s family. It was an invention of the days when meat wasn’t to be eaten on Fridays. It seems a little strange to serve rice and cheese as a main dish, but it’s quite similar to macaroni and cheese in that regard. So how is it controversial? I think people either loved it or hated it. Continue reading “Cheese Dish”

Stuffed French Toast Strata

A casserole dish with baked stuffed french toast strata
Golden brown, crunchy, buttery, sweet. So good.

I’m almost positive that my mom got this recipe from the proprietors of a B&B we stayed in in Seward, AK. We stayed there as part of a trip to catch some salmon during a visit to my Aunt Kathy who lived near Anchorage at the time. I remember eating something like this for breakfast and my mom asking for the recipe, but I certainly wouldn’t swear on anything that this was it. While we’re on the subject, does anybody else find B&Bs awkward? That was the only time I’ve stayed in one and I felt like they thought I was family…but in a weird way. Like they would eventually realize we weren’t. Would make for a great movie script, but not such a great real experience.

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Barbecue Pork Chops

A pan of cooked barbecue pork chops.
You can see from the rings on the pan now much the sauce reduced. The crater in the front and center chop was from a little over-zealous basting.

This was a dish that was a true favorite of one of my uncles. He says:

I also loved Barbeque pork chops. On our birthdays, Mother would often ask us what we might want to eat for the meal. I very clearly remember Mother asking me one year on my birthday, when I was about 12 or so, what I might want to have for the family birthday meal. I immediately replied, barbeque pork chops.¬† I was quite disappointed when Mother said that it was too hot to have them. I was so surprised to hear that. It had not occurred to me that with the temperature in the 90’s that day, July 12, that working in a hot kitchen cooking meat, in a house without air conditioning, might be a difficult thing.

Today wasn’t too hot to be in the kitchen. It’s spring in Minnesota (or “second winter”) and there are still piles of snow on the ground and the highs are barely above freezing. Having the oven on a long time for a low and slow cook time was just perfect.

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Chocolate Revel Bars

 

Close up of the bars shows the melty chocolate.
Crunchy topping and ooey-gooey chocolate. Good when cooled, but ah-may-zing when still warm.

When I mentioned that I was going to be making “chocolate revel bars,” just about everybody I told got a quizzical look on their face and asked “what’s that?” I wasn’t sure if that meant that this was an original recipe to the family or not. Turns out not. Google turns up several places with the exact recipe you’ll find below. Now let’s all pretend we don’t know that and continue on.

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Lola’s Famous Beans

A bowl of the beans showing the pork that was cooked in it.
See those big chunks of pork in those beans? So satisfying and good.

My mom’s mom’s mom (my great grandmother), Lola, was born in 1882 and was apparently a rather good cook. It’s difficult to imagine how she got most tasks done that seem simple to me today. The whole landscape of cooking was different. Different ideals of health, ¬†different availability of foods, different tools. So I’m fairly confident, despite what the recipe I have says, that the original method for her famous baked beans didn’t involve a slow cooker. It’s far more likely that they were put in a low oven all day. Continue reading “Lola’s Famous Beans”

Rhubarb Pie

A rhubarb pie with a slice removed
Can you tell what the secret is by looking at this? Come back after you’ve read the whole post and look again.

My grandma made the best rhubarb pie. The best. It was tart and absolutely full of wonderful rhubarb flavor. No strawberry to get in the way of tasting just pure rhubarb. Or at least I thought it was pure rhubarb. It wasn’t until very recently that I was informed that grandma added something else to her rhubarb pie. Most people are surprised when they hear what it is. Continue reading “Rhubarb Pie”

Stuffed Hamburgers

Stuffed hamburgers
These don’t have a surprise middle–the whole burger is stuffed with flavor!

Grandma’s “stuffed hamburgers” were remembered fondly by more than one of my aunts and uncles. The recipe reads more like a very basic meatloaf mixture shaped into patties and fried in oil on the stovetop. More than one person mentioned how they were the best hamburgers. The handwritten recipe mentions MSG. I didn’t include it. Not because I’m opposed to MSG in principle, it’s just not something we keep on our spice shelves anymore and they were quite tasty without it. Continue reading “Stuffed Hamburgers”

Corn Mazatlan

Corn mazatlan
Creamy corn with peppers–A favorite of grandfather.

Ages ago, my grandfather (mom’s dad) sent mom a letter in the mail. He’d type them up on this old typewriter. One of those typewriters with character. His handwriting was a little shaky, so the time it took to hunt and peck and correct mistakes was still worth it. In this letter was a newspaper clipping of a recipe for “corn mazatlan” noting that he thought it looked like it would taste good. We had the dish almost every time he came over after that.

After several of meals with a side dish that didn’t always exactly “go” with the rest of the meal (something unlike my mom’s style of entertaining), I asked why she made it since it seemed as if he had only made a suggestion that it might be good and hadn’t specifically requested it. She told me that the effort he had put into that quiet suggestion was his way of strongly requesting it and he had repeatedly eaten enough to demonstrate that he really enjoyed it. It was her way of showing a bit of love through food. Continue reading “Corn Mazatlan”

Baked Chili

Baked chili
A recipe such as this yearns for a retro casserole dish.

“Baked chili” was a hugely popular dish in my dad’s house growing up. Many here in Minnesota would also know this dish as “goulash” (even though it bears no resemblance to Hungarian goulash). My uncle Mark remembers requesting this for his birthday meal with regularity. There is a bit of disagreement on whether or not the dish contained corn. The most likely explanation is that the recipe lent itself to variation and sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t. There were also differing memories on the type of pasta used. While the recipe calls for linguine, all of the memories were for small pasta such as elbow macaroni or ready cut spaghetti. Continue reading “Baked Chili”