Alex’s Macaroni and Cheese

© Can Stock Photo / MSPhotographics

When I’m not in the kitchen I write romance novels under the pen name Marina Martindale. So far, each novel has included a scene where my characters enjoy a home cooked meal, and I include the recipe in the back of the book.

In my second novel, The Deception, leading man Alex has just been reunited with Carrie, his long-lost childhood friend. When he comes to her apartment to prepare dinner for her, he makes his mother’s macaroni and cheese; their favorite childhood dish.

They say art imitates life, and macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite childhood dishes too. Problem was, I had no family recipe, and, ding, ding, ding, I’d been buying the prepackaged mac and cheese dinners for years. I confess. It was a bad habit I picked up back when I was a starving college student, and the time had come to break it. So I compiled several different recipes, did some test runs and tweaks, and soon came up with a mac and cheese recipe that was absolutely delicious. No wonder Alex and Carrie loved it. You will too.

Gayle Martin

ALEX’S MACARONI & CHEESE

  • 2 cups macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 2 1/2  cups milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Mexican cheese blend
  • (or 2 1/2 cups cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350F and cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain. While pasta is cooking whisk milk and sour cream together in a medium-sized mixing bowl and add seasonings. Set aside. Chop two tablespoons of butter into small pieces. Chill in refrigerator until needed. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small mixing bowl. Add breadcrumbs, blend thoroughly and set aside.

Layer half of the cooked and drained macaroni, butter and cheese into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Top with the remaining macaroni, butter and cheese. Pour in the milk mixture and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Bake for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is crispy and brown.

If desired, ham or sausage may be added. Low-fat milk, sour cream and cheeses may also be used. Penne pasta may also be used instead of elbow macaroni.

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Eggless Chocolate Cake

© Can Stock Photo / NewIllustrations

Food was scarce back in Rosie’s day, and many common items on grocery shelves were hard to come by, even with rationing. Food companies had to come up with new recipes to make scarce ingredients go further, or even eliminate them completely. This delicious historic recipe, from the Rosie’s Riveting Recipes cookbook, omits eggs.

By the way, a rotary beater was another term for an eggbeater, although most of us today use whisks.

Gayle Martin

EGGLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE

2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup milk
1 3/4 cups sifted flour
3/4 teaspoon soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine chocolate and milk in top of double boiler and cook over rapidly boiling water 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Blend with rotary egg beater; cool.

Sift flour once, measure, add soda, salt, and sugar, and sift together three times. Cream shortening, add flour, vanilla, and chocolate mixture. Stir until all flour is dampened. Then beat vigorously 1 minute. Bake in two greased and lightly floured 8-inch layer pans in moderate oven (375 F) 20 minutes, or until done. Spread frosting between layers and on top of cake.

Cocoa Cake: Substitute 1/3 cup cocoa for chocolate. Sift it with the dry ingredients; add cold milk with vanilla.

From a free preview of the Rosie’s Riveting Recipes historic cookbook please click on the link below.

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Hungarian Goulash

From the Rosie’s Riveting Recipes cookbook

© Can Stock Photo / fanfo

This historic recipe is great for using up leftovers, and while it includes potatoes as an option, I personally wouldn’t consider it a real goulash without the potatoes, or a can of tomatoes for that matter. If you have any leftover vegetables in the refrigerator you can certainly toss them in as well. Some people like to use ground beef and add pasta instead of potatoes, but that would be more of an American Goulash.

Gayle Martin

Hungarian Goulash

2 lbs beef chuck, neck or flank meat
2 tablespoons butter, margarine or drippings
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup water
1/8 teaspoon caraway seed (if desired)
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic
paprika

Cut meat into 1-inch cubes. Let onion brown in butter, then add meat and let it brown lightly. Add caraway seed, marjoram, salt, chopped garlic and enough paprika to create a noticeable red color. Add 1 cup water, cover and simmer for 2  1/2 hours. Add more water if necessary. Whole potatoes may be added to the goulash 1/2 hour before done. Some goulash recipes call for the addition of tomatoes. Strained tomatoes may be substituted for water in this recipe. Makes 6 servings.

Note: Serve over noodles or your favorite pasta.

For more information about Rosie’s Riveting Recipes please click on the link below for a free preview on Amazon.

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Yes You Can Can

Historic U.S. Government Poster

Back in Rosie’s day home canning made food stretch further and helped save money. This is also true today. Whether it’s fresh fruit grown in your home garden or on sale at your local supermarket, home canning can be a lot of fun, as well as a nice family activity.

Home canning may seem mysterious or intimidating at first, but there really isn’t much to it. You’ll need to invest in a few basic supplies to get started; a canner, which is a large, oversized stockpot with a special rack inside, a jar lifter, and a set of mason jars, all of which can be found at Ace Hardware. You’ll also need some canning pectin, which is available at your local supermarket. From there you simply follow the recipes inside the pectin box. Here’s how I do it.

Start with the prep work

I begin by filling my canner with water, placing the rack inside, and turning the burner on medium-high. (If for some reason your canner does not have a rack, place a folded tea towel on the bottom of the canner before filling it.) The canner uses a lot of water, and it may take as long as forty-five minutes, perhaps longer, before it reaches the boiling point. You’ll need to fill your canner with enough water to cover the tops of your jars by at least one inch. Water gets heavy, so I use a pitcher to fill mine.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and wash your jars, caps and rings. Place the jars on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven. Drop the caps and rings in a saucepan filled with water. Heat the water until it begins to boil, and then turn the heat down to low.

Prepare the fruit

Prepare your fruit as directed by the recipes inside the pectin box. Do not deviate from the recipes. Once you’ve filled your jars, wipe away any excess that may have dripped on the top of the jar. Place a cap on the top and make sure the ring secure. Then, once the water in the canner has begun to boil, gently place the jar inside the canner with the jar lifter. Make sure your rack is on the bottom of the canner and never place a jar directly on the bottom of the canner. Cover and boil the cans for the time stated in the recipe.

And finally

Once you’ve finished cooking your jars carefully remove them from the canner using the jar lifter, and set them on a dish towel.  As your jars begin to cool you’ll hear popping sounds. This means the caps are sealing. To test the caps once they’ve cooled press your finger down on the center. If the cap doesn’t move it’s sealed. However, if the cap should move it means it didn’t seal properly. Sometimes this happens, and if it does simply place the jar in the refrigerator once it’s completely cooled and use the contents promptly.

DO NOT try to lift the canner until it has completely cooled. A full canner will be extremely heavy, so you may need to bail out some of the water with a pitcher before lifting.

And, finally, the rings and mason jars are reusable, so be sure to hang onto them once the jar is empty. The only thing that needs to be replaced are the caps.

Gayle Martin

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Grocery Shopping Lessons

I learned from my mother

© Can Stock Photo/
sadakko

People are funny. Not “ha-ha” funny. More like, bizarre, funny. Being an author, I have no choice but to be on social media, and for years I’ve seen all kinds of posts, comments and memes belittling those who choose to prepare for an unexpected emergency. They’re called, “preppers,” “conspiracy theorists” and “tin foil hat wearers.”

People are mean-spirited and judgemental. That is, until some unexpected emergency, such as coronavirus, comes along. Then guess who’s panicking and grabbing up all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer? The very same people who made fun of the preppers and their tin foil hats.

We’ve become spoiled

Too many people honestly believe that food somehow magically appears in the grocery store. It doesn’t. The grocery store is the end of a long chain which begins on the farm, and farming is a high risk business. Droughts, floods, freezes, and pests such as locusts, can destroy crops, which means less availability and higher prices. In a worst case scenario they can create a shortage. Other factors, such as labor disputes, can effect the food supply as well. We’ve also become spoiled. Very spoiled. Thanks to modern technology, American grocery shelves all always full. Even seasonal fruits and vegetables, once only available certain times of the year, are now available virtually year round, thanks to modern food distribution.

It’s happened before

There was a time, however, in recent history, when the American food supply was disrupted. It was during WWII, and the U.S. government had to come up with a plan to discourage hoarding and help prevent shortages. Their solution was rationing, and my article, Food Rationing During WWII, at the top of this blog, explains it in more detail.

My mother grew up during WWII. She said that even with rationing, grocery store shelves were often bare. This experience certainly impacted her, and as an adult, and one of the things she taught me was how to shop wisely. This included not buying the name brand if the lesser known brand was cheaper. She also taught me to stock up whenever something was a sale. If there was a special on canned corn, she bought a few extra cans and put them in the pantry for later. It didn’t make her a tin foil hat hoarder. She was simply stretching her dollar, and her advice holds true today. If you only need one can of corn, and it’s on sale, buy an extra can or two, even if you don’t need it right now. Same goes for canned peas or tuna fish. Stuff happens, and it’s always nice to have a little extra food and supplies on hand, just in case. Coronavirus will eventually end, but people lose their jobs everyday.

Gayle Martin

For more information about the Rosie’s Riveting Recipes cookbook, please click on the link below.

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Potato Soup

From the Rosie’s Riveting Recipes historic cookbook

There’s nothing quite like a bowl of hot soup on a cold winter day, and who doesn’t love potatoes?

This classic dish comes from the Rosie’s Riveting Recipes  cookbook, although many of you may have similar versions in your own family recipe boxes.

Gayle Martin

 

POTATO SOUP

  • 2 cups raw potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • pepper

Chop potatoes fine or grate them. Add potatoes, margarine, and onion to the milk. Cook the mixture over low heat until the potatoes are tender, stirring regularly. By that time the starch from the potatoes will have thickened the milk slightly. Add salt and pepper.

Modern Variation: To give this soup some extra zing try adding bacon, ham, or corn. Butter or olive oil may be used instead of margarine.

 

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How to Make Minestrone

© Can Stock Photo/ robynmac

Minestrone has always been one of my favorite soups, but when I did an online search for recipes I found so many variations it made my head spin. Suffice to say minestrone is one of those dishes intended for using up leftovers, and for that it works quite nicely. I can clean out my fridge and create a tasty dish at the same time. Best of all, it’s never the same twice.

As I created my own version of minestrone I noticed I used a few ingredients consistently. The rest was whatever I happened to have on hand, which is why I’m leaving plenty of leeway on my ingredients list.

Gayle Martin

MINESTRONE

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (optional)
  • 1 cup sliced celery (optional)
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 or 2 carrots, sliced (optional)
  • 1 small (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • Other leftover vegetables, such as corn, lima beans, chopped zucchini or cubed potatoes
  • 3/4 cup small pasta, such as stars, small shells, or mini farfalle
  • 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 package of spinach, fresh, frozen or canned

Heat oil and butter, if desired, in a stock pot and saute the onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrots or celery. Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add tomato sauce and broth or water. Stir well. Add any remaining vegetables, garbanzo beans, seasonings and pasta. Heat to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for twenty minutes. Add spinach and simmer for another minute or two. Serve with bread, rolls or corn muffins.

For more tasty recipes for using up leftovers please check out my historic cookbook, Rosie’s Riveting Recipes.

 

 

 

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Our Mother’s Recipes — Yellow Cornbread

© Can Stock Photo / zigzagmtart

There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh baked cornbread made from scratch. This recipe came from a friend’s mother’s recipe box, and no doubt lots of other mothers and grandmothers used the same, or a similar recipe. It’s the perfect side for homemade soups, such as Rosie’s Split Pea Soup, and Chili con Carne.

Gayle Martin

YELLOW CORNBREAD

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup soft shortening
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg

Sift dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl. Cut in shortening until well blended. Beat milk and egg together in a small mixing bowl and mix with dry ingredients until just blended. Pour into a well-greased 8 x 8 inch baking pan. Bake in a hot (400• F) oven for 25 minutes or until done.

For a sweeter cornbread sift 1/4 cup sugar with the dry ingredients, and cut shortening to 1/4 cup. This batter is also good for baking corn muffins or corn sticks.

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Split Pea Soup

From the Rosie’s Riveting Recipes historic cookbook

© Can Stock Photo/ Yasonya

There’s nothing like a bowl of hot soup on a cold winter’s day, and this recipe from Rosie’s Riveting Recipes is tasty and easy to make. Some dishes simply never go out of style, and this is one of them.

Gayle Martin

SPLIT PEA SOUP

  • 8 oz. cooked cubed ham (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 ham bone
  • 2 1/2 quarts ham stock
  • 1 1/2 cups split green peas
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour

Place ham bone, stock, peas, seasonings and onion in large pan. Simmer 2 hours. Melt butter, add flour and blend. Add a small amount of soup stock and stir until smooth, then stir into soup to thicken slightly. Let cubes of ham heat in soup before serving. Makes 4 generous servings.

Modern adaptation: Ham hocks may be used in place of the ham bone. To make a ham stock boil the ham hocks or ham bones in water for approximately one to two hours. Chicken stock can be added to the ham stock or even used as a substitute for the ham stock. Cornstarch can also be used as a thickener instead of flour.

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Fresh Fruit Cobbler

© Can Stock Photo / roxanabalint

The things you will find after your kitchen has been remodeled. This time it was scrap of paper with my mother’s fruit cobbler recipe, written in her own handwriting. I’m so happy to have found it as I thought this was one recipe that was gone for good. Her fruit cobblers were amazing, and she often served them with breakfast. They’re also super easy to make and fabulous for dessert too.

Mom usually made hers with peaches, but other fruits, such as blackberries, blueberries or raspberries, would also work.

Gayle Martin

FRESH FRUIT COBBLER

  • 4 to 6 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced, OR
  • 3 to 4 packages fresh raspberries, blueberries or blackberries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • pinch of cinnamon, if desired

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix fresh fruit, sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Add cinnamon, if desired. Pour into an 8 x 8-inch baking pan. Cut butter into small pieces and sprinkle on top.

Topping

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg

Mix all ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl. Drop by spoonful over the fruit mixture. Bake for 30 to 25 minutes or until the topping is brown.

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