It’s rare for me to indulge in something as silly as composing a list of my favorite retro foods but the heavens opened up Sunday afternoon so what else was a girl to do!
It all started with an eggplant stew that I served Saturday night for supper. I sauteed a whole diced up eggplant in a copious amount – I’m not really sure what copious means but I love the way it rolls off my tongue – of extra virgin olive oil, added the last of my sun-gold cherry tomatoes, some red bell pepper and fresh basil. It was gorgeous but too much so today I decided to use the leftovers and make an eggplant Shepard’s pie. I’m always looking for new recipes for my vegetarian buddies. While I was putting it together, I started to reminisce about the food that my grandmothers and mom prepared for me when I was a little girl. The thought of walking into Nanny Ekstrom’s kitchen to the smell of her potato scallop and homemade chow makes me teary. Nanny Chase’s hamburger stew is the stuff of legends at least in my family! Now mind you both my grandmothers were jello and ‘Cool Whip” fans and I’m sure that as a kid I dove into anything they served me but happily I’ve completely blocked those memories.
For fun, I’ve compiled a list of my top ten favorite childhood foods which given my age makes them retro! From number ten to my favorite I give you:
10. Hambuger, Tomato and Macaroni – officially called ‘Slumgullion” but in our house, we called it “hamburger, tomato and macaroni. 9. Baked Beans – my mom’s were so thick you could stand a spoon up in them! 8. Boiled Dinner – Mom made her’s with pork spare ribs and cabbage which created a sort of ‘corned beef and cabbage’ kind of meal without all of the salt. 7. Meatloaf – a Campbell’s tomato soup on the top variety. 6. Chilli – made with whatever was in the fridge and dried herbs that easily could have been from the 1940’s. 5. Rice Pudding – made with minute rice, eggs, sugar. milk and a little canned milk poured over the top to form a skum. I know – but we loved it! 4. Macaroni and Cheese – other wise known as Kraft Dinner! 3. Goulash – basically any mixture that was soupy with beef in it. 2. Shepard’s Pie – I loved gravy so whenever Mom had some left over this was supper. 1. Potato Scallop with Green Tomato Chow – Hands down this is my favorite food memory. Often times, I ate it in the living room in front of the television on Saturday night sitting at a TV table watching the Lawrence Welk Show. I didn’t really like Mr. Welk’s show but I loved eating in the living room on my own little table at my grandmother’s house.
All of the links are a funny look at how things have changed. Imagine the list my kids will put together thirty years from now. I realized while I was making my list that it’s not the food that I miss, it’s the people. During normal, mundane, ordinary meals from my childhood I shared food with people I loved. Funny how food can make me so nostalgic. Ah well, just silly thoughts on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
My celebration of our apple season continues with a chunky apple and walnut cake from The Silver Palate Cook Book. Maybe someday this cake will make it on my future grandchildren’s favorite food lists!
Chunky Apple Walnut Cake – adapted from The Silver Palate Cook Book
Preheat oven 325*F
Butter and flour a 10” tube pan
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 cups Macintosh apples, peeled and chunked
1 tablespoon Spiced Rum
In the bowl of your stand mixer using the beater bar, beat oil and sugar until thick – about 3 minutes
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
Sift together flour, spices, baking soda and salt.
Add to egg mixture and blend well.
Add nuts, apples and Spiced Rum and blend well.
Pour batter into tube pan and place in preheated oven.
Bake cake 1-1/2 hours – use the toothpick test to make sure it’s cooked
Remove from oven to a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, remove the cake from the tube pan and allow cake to cool completely.
¼ cup butter, cut in pieces
½ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk or cream
1 cup icing/confectioners’ sugar
In a sauce pan over medium heat, place butter, brown sugar, cream and salt.
Bring to a full, rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and leave to cool for 7 minutes.
Beat in icing sugar until smooth.
Immediately pour the glaze over the cake.
THE LOVE: Make sure that your cake is completely cooled or the glaze will run off. Spoon the glaze over the cake to ensure that you cover as much of the cake as possible.
one year ago: Greece
two years ago: spicy pickled beets
Thanks for reading.