Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Aunt Winnie's Famous Squash Casserole

I have been chomping at the bits for some of Aunt Winnie's Famous Squash Casserole. For years, we called it Aunt Winnie's Squash Casserole, but everyone who gets a delectable portion wants the recipe. Therefore, I have officially added "Famous" to the title this year. I have never seen this recipe anywhere else, but in her recipe collection, which I was lucky enough to inherit. This casserole is cheesy, buttery, filled with fresh yellow squash, and even  has a little kick.

My parents both grew up in Seminole County, Georgia. Aunt Winnie moved down the road to Colquitt, when she married. She was over forty when she married, but daddy always referred to her as an Old Maid. On the other hand, I always thought that she was absolutely beautiful, with perfume sprayers and big dusting powder puffs for after baths. She had shoes to match every outfit, and a play by number keyboard, which was the neatest thing.

After she married, she always hosted Thanksgiving dinner. My mother and her sister Aunt Nettie Doris would get up early and prepare their specialty dishes, but Aunt Winnie was always the star of the show.
Colquitt, is a very small town in Southwest Georgia, but has a quaint little shopping street.
It is also the home of the Mayhaw Festival and has several Mayhaw Jelly businesses. 
Several years ago, the historic Tarrer Inn was restored and is now a lovely bed and breakfast with a traditional southern dining room. It is definitely a place to visit if you are ever in the area. 

Aunt Winnie's Famous Squash Casserole

1 1/2 cup yellow squash, cooked and salted
1 cup diced or shredded cheese
1 cup crushed saltine crackers
2 Tablespoons minced parsley flakes
3 Tablespoons chopped red pimento
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup scalded milk
Red pepper, black pepper, and salt to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together in a buttered quart casserole.
Bake in a 350 degree oven 45 minutes to one hour.
It can be prepared the day before and baked on your special holiday. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

1960's French Onion Soup and the Clewiston Inn

When I was growing up in South Florida, Clewiston, to be exact, my daddy would often have trips and business dinners on weeknight evenings. Momma and I would often eat at the Clewiston Inn. Two items stand out in my mind after all of these years. I remember dining on deliciously salty French Onion Soup with a melted cheese toast in the bowl. My other favorite was a strawberry cream dessert. It consisted of whipping cream, fresh strawberries, and probably cream cheese and confectioner's sugar. It was served in a square with a dollop of whipped cream. My mother was an excellent cook and decided that she would prepare the French Onion soup at home. I don't know where she came up with the recipe, but I remember her version was even tastier than at the Inn. Of course, I found it hand written in the back of one of her cookbooks.

French Onion Soup

4 large onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3 10 1/2 ounce cans beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
Dash Pepper
Loaf of French Bread, cut into slices
Grated Fresh Parmesan Cheese

Cook onion in butter till lightly browned, about 20 minutes
Add broth and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to boiling. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
Simmer about 20 minutes. 
Sprinkle bread slices with cheese; place under broiler until cheese is melted and lightly browned
Pour soup in bowls and place toast slice on top.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Banana Coffee Bread - Make and Freeze for the Holidays

As we are approaching the week before Thanksgiving, menu planning and grocery shopping goes into full swing. If you are expecting a house full of company, especially with teenagers or college students, breakfast planning may become an issue. They do love to sleep late, but need a little bit of nourishment with their morning coffee, coca cola, or orange juice. I have been baking this banana coffee bread for well over forty years. I have tried many other versions of banana bread, but always return to this super moist and delicious easy to mix and bake recipe. It was one of my first baking endeavors as a new bride, and turned out perfectly, much to my surprise. I don't think that I have ever had a mishap with this recipe. I use self-rising flour and have switched the original recipe from shortening to vegetable oil. It is baked in a square pan and therefore, bakes up quickly and more evenly than in a loaf pan. If freezes wonderfully, and is perfect to make now for Thanksgiving or Christmas guests. When the children would bring guests home for Thanksgiving, I would always put a little basket of these banana squares in their rooms for late night snacks or noon breakfasts.

Banana Coffee Bread recipe is adapted from the 1970 Better Homes and Gardens recipe book - quick bread category

Banana Coffee Bread

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 to 1 cup mashed bananas
1 1/4 cups self rising flour
Mash the bananas really good; until they create juice, this helps add moisture to the quick bread.

Cream shortening with sugar. Add eggs, one at at time, beating well after each. Stir in bananas. Add flour to mixture. Mix well. Pour into greased 9x9x2 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

When freezing this bread, I let it cool completely in the pan. Then, I  run a knife around the edges. It releases well from the pan. I then wrap the bread in Saran Wrap and wrap again with aluminum foil. It makes an easy to store, compact package for the freezer. Remove wraps when ready to thaw.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Holiday Vanilla Wafer Fruit and Nut Roll

My grandmother always had an icebox fruit cake for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She had a mile high soaked in brandy and wrapped in cheesecloth fruit cake also. It was stored way in the back of the pantry in a dark cool spot. But my favorite was always the ice box fruit cake rolled in a log and perfect for nibbling by my cousin and myself. It was often made with graham crackers, but my Aunt Winnie would make it with vanilla wafers. Aunt Winnie didn't get married until she was over forty and always lived with my grandparents during my childhood years. She worked at the bank downtown and would always take me to the dime store shopping. We would always buy a paper doll book and a bag of the world's best popcorn. I remember that smell so vividly. I dearly loved my Aunt Winnie. She would let me use all of her bubble bath products and her big fluff of a bath powder mitt.

During our Thanksgiving and Christmas visits to South Georgia, we would get up early, have grits and eggs and then breakfast dessert. Breakfast dessert for my cousin and myself was this delicious Fruit and Nut log served with half milk and half coffee and lots of sugar. My parents always carried on with the breakfast dessert tradition for my children also. In later years, when my grandparents were gone and we visited my parents' home for the holidays, they would serve ice cream or a piece of cake to the kids after breakfast, and in the summer it was always fresh peaches with heavy whipping cream and lots of sugar. Breakfast dessert is definitely only a grandparent tradition. I never thought to say "no" to my parent's indulgences for the children. It was their right and privilege to spoil them.

I found this recipe written on an old yellowed piece of paper in her cookbook. I have tried to revise it a little.

Vanilla Wafer Ice Box Fruit Cake

1 box of vanilla wafers
2 cups chopped pecans
2 cups raisins or nowadays, I love craisins
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1 jar maraschino cherries - drained and chopped
1 14 oz  can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup confectioners sugar

In a bowl, combine all ingredients except confectioners sugar: mix well - remember that clean hands are the best mixing tool
Form mixture into 4 equal size logs
Place confectioners sugar in shallow dish and roll logs in sugar- coat completely
Wrap each log in plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight
Slice just before serving

The logs make great gifts and no cooking at all -