Monday, 14 April 2014

Marg's Cuban Lunch

Along with its elegance and refinement, caker cooking is often considered one of the world’s most mysterious cuisines. There are so many unanswered questions. For example, who discovered that soda crackers taste like Skor Bars? Or that Ritz crackers taste like apples? Or that a marshmallow and a Pilsbury crescent roll were good representations of Christ's resurrection?

Sometimes, the mystery rests not in the ingredients, but in the name. I had no idea what a “Cuban Lunch” was, let alone Marg’s connection to it. So I called my friends at Dateline NBC to do a little investigative work. Turns out Cuban Lunch used to be the name of a chocolate bar. As to Marg, Stone Philips told me that her identity remains shrouded in mystery. The people in Outlook, Saskatchewan were tight-lipped. Who is this Marg? And why do I picture her smoking cigars?

Anyways, these are perfect when you’re faced with that that sweet-or-salty dilemma. That’s because they have potato chips and chocolate. Be warned though: butterscotch chips are a little potent. I had an Italian complaining for three days that the house smelled of maple.

1 package butterscotch chips
1 package peanut butter chips
1 package chocolate chips
1 ½ cups crushed ripple potato chips
1 ½ cups nuts

Melt all of the packages of chips together on low heat. Add in the potato chips and nuts. Spoon into small paper cups and cool.


Source: With Hearts That Care and Hands That Serve, Outlook, Saskatchewan

Monday, 7 April 2014

Seven Layer Casserole

Isn’t the world full of stupid kitchen gadgets? There’s the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler, the Rotato, those knives that can cut through a tin can and still slice a tomato. (I, for one, have never enjoyed sliced tin can. Too high in iron.)

Luckily, the rich tapestry of caker cuisine only requires a single kitchen gadget: the can opener. Having said that, sometimes cakers need a little extra help. Take this Seven Layer Casserole, for example. One of those mandolin thingies would’ve made slicing the potatoes and orange sticks (I think they’re called carrots) a whole lot easier. And less dangerous. I’m still not sure what happened to my fingernail.

I don’t know if there’s a specific reason the ingredients go in the order that they do. Personally, I would’ve put the meat on the bottom because after two hours of it sitting on the top, I could’ve used it as a pumice stone. Anyways, it tasted pretty good. In spite of the bright colours.

In a casserole dish put
Layer of carrots, sliced thin
Layer of potatoes, sliced thin
Layer of onions, sliced thin
¼ cup uncooked Minute Rice
Tin of peas, juice as well

Put layer of sausage or hamburger over sliced vegetables. Take tin of tomato soup diluted with water and pour over and cook with cover on for one hour. (See note) Remove cover to brown. Bake slowly for another hour or until done.

Note: The recipe didn’t give a oven temperature, so I cooked it at 325°.

Source: Mixed Blessings, Salem United Church

P.S. Take a good look at this cookbook cover. It looks like something, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one who sees something other than hands.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Clothespin Wishing Well

Today, I’m trading in my apron for a smock. It’s Caker Craft time!

For most of us, spring means one thing: dusting off our Thighmasters and getting back into shape. But it’s also a time for foiled-wrapped eggs, gaucho pants and the enchantment of a moss-covered wishing well in the middle of a dewy meadow.

Here’s a wishing well guaranteed to give you hours of enjoyment. Alls you need are wooden clothespins, a baby food jar, glue and some moss. If you can’t find moss, just scrape some green stuff off old cheese.

Use your wishing well to store change or to house your sea-monkeys. If you’re feeling really creative, paint it with Liquid Paper. Make sure you put a clothespin on your nose before you do. Otherwise, you might start having hallucinations of naked Druids dancing around a Maypole. I’m speaking from experience.

Instructions:

Separate clothes pins. Be careful the metal piece doesn’t coming flying off. This craft is fun, but it’s not worth losing an eye over.

Next, eat a jar of baby food, but not the kind with beef and vegetables. Trust me, it’s disgusting. Clean out the jar unless you want your wishing well to smell like a real wishing well.




Glue the separated clothespins around the jar. Make sure to get the flat edges level so your well isn’t all wobbly.








Glue two sticks on either side to act as your roof posts.









Glue together four sticks. Do it again. Then attach the sides of your roof to the posts.








Now, make a wish and cue the Terence Trent D’Arby.

Monday, 31 March 2014

B.B.Q. Chicken Popcorn

As a caker, I’ve had a vested interest in the evolution of popcorn. First, there was oil and a pot. Then there was Jiffy Pop. Then the air popper came along. Then Orville Redenbacher showed up with those microwavable bags, stinking up work offices everywhere.

I can’t remember where I found The Popcorn Lover's Handbook, but every recipe involves popcorn, including St. Patrick’s Day popcorn and Popcorn Fondue. I opted for the B.B.Q. Chicken popcorn because I figured it was healthier than eating a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

As to how this tastes, well, you have to be a certain kind of person to enjoy this. First, you have to be the sort of person who believes B.B.Q. chicken-flavoured popcorn has a rightful place in this world. And secondly, you have to be the sort of person who thinks that B.B.Q. seasoning tastes like something barbequed and that chicken soup mix tastes like chicken. If you’re that sort of person, by all means, pop away. For the rest of you, stick with golden topping.

6 quarts of popped popcorn (see note)
1 ½ teaspoons B.B.Q. flavour
1 ½ teaspoons chicken soup mix

Divide popcorn into two equal batches and place each batch into a separate shaker bag. Sprinkle B.B.Q. flavour over first batch, close the bag tightly, shake and rotate bag until the popcorn is coated. Sprinkle chicken soup mix over second batch, close the bag tightly, shake and rotate bag until popcorn is coated. Pour contents of two shaker bags into a 8-quart pot and mix well with a wooden spoon. Salt to taste. Cool popcorn and place in storage containers.

Note: I used a ½ cup unpopped kernels, which yielded four quarts. So I reduced the flavouring to a teaspoon of each.

Source: The Popcorn Lover’s Handbook: Regular, Savory and Candied

Monday, 24 March 2014

Deluxe Rice Krispies Cake

As far as I’m concerned, cakers toss the word “cake” around too loosely. Too many times, I see something referred to as a “cake” when it should be called “squares.” See Suzanne’s Peanut Candy Bar Cake and Magic Cake as examples.

Fellow cakers, let’s review: squares are flat, usually topped with shredded coconut or maraschino cherries, and are square. That’s why they’re called squares. Cakes, on the other hand, can be round or square. They’re not flat (unless you’ve done something wrong) and, if it’s your birthday, they have foil-wrapped coins inside. Sometimes, people forget to tell you about the coins. Which is why I spent my ninth birthday getting fitted for dentures.

All this is to say that Deluxe Rice Krispies Cake isn’t a cake. It’s squares. Wait. They’re squares. Something like that, anyway. And these are the Ricardo Montalban Chrysler Cordoba of Rice Krispies Squares. You get not one but two layers of Rice Krispies Squares with gooey melted caramel and more marshmallows sandwiched between. It’s like one of those double down things!

Warning: I put these in the freezer in an effort to stop myself from eating them all. Now, that soft spot beneath my tongue is all scratched from gnawing on them. I may need surgery.

Base and top: (See note 1)
½ cup butter
40 large marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups Rice Krispies
Filling:
½ cup butter
4 boxes toffee bars or 2 cups caramels (see note 2)
1 can condensed milk
1 bag miniature marshmallows

For base and top, melt butter and marshmallow in a large pot. Add vanilla and Rice Krispies. Mix well and press into cookie sheet. For filling, melt butter, toffee bars and condensed milk. Spread over base. Sprinkle toffee layer with miniature marshmallows. Allow to cool slightly. Repeat recipe for base and top to make the topping. Pat down on top of toffee layer. Allow to cool completely. Cut in squares.

Note 1: Remember to double up on the base and top ingredients.
Note 2: I used soft Werther’s candies.

Source: The Best of Enbridge

Monday, 17 March 2014

Pepsi Cake

When I was a caker kid, nothing was more exciting than watching people take the Pepsi Challenge. On second thought, Battle of the Network Stars was better (on account of the short shorts), but the Pepsi Challenge came pretty close. It was all so dramatic. I mean, these decisions were going to affect people for the rest of their lives.

Sadly, my family was too poor to buy Coke or Pepsi. Instead, we were forced to drink RC Cola. Sometimes, when times were really hard, mom would give me brown well water with Alka Seltzer.

Adding Pepsi to a cake may seem strange, but this is caker cuisine we’re talking about. While on the sweet side (that could be due to the pop, sugar and icing sugar), Pepsi Cake is damp, damp, damp. It reminded me of Texas Brownies, because the frosting goes on when the cake is still hot, so all the sugar seeps its way down. And yes, you can taste the Pepsi.

Like the recipe says, you can also use Coke. But stick with calling it Pepsi Cake. Inviting people over for Coke Cake could lead to trouble.

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks oleo (See note 1)
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup Pepsi or Coke
2 eggs
½ cup buttermilk (See note 2)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups miniature marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour and sugar in bowl. Heat oleo, cocoa and Pepsi to boiling; pour into flour and sugar. Mix well. Dissolve soda in buttermilk and stir into batter with eggs, vanilla and marshmallows. Blend well. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes. Batter is thin and marshmallows will float.

Frosting:
1 stick oleo
2 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons Pepsi or Coke
1 box powdered sugar (See note 3)
1 cup nuts (optional)

Combine oleo, cocoa and Pepsi in saucepan. Heat to boiling, pour over sugar and beat until smooth. Add chopped nuts and spread on warm cake.

Note 1: Oleo is an old-fashioned name for margarine.
Note 2: Don’t buy buttermilk. Just add a ½ tablespoon of vinegar to a ½ cup of milk and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
Note 3: I don't know how much is in a box since icing sugar comes in a bag. I ended up using about 5 cups.

Source: National Mfg. Co. 1901-2001 Centennial Cookbook

Monday, 10 March 2014

Velveeta Down-Home Macaroni & Cheese

The Loch Ness Monster. The Egyptian pyramids. The popularity of the Kardashians. Our world is full of mysteries.

I’ve said it before, but one of the mysteries that keeps me up at night is the price of Velveeta. It's eight dollars! Why does processed cheese cost more than real cheese? Isn’t the whole point of processed food is that it’s cheaper than real food? I mean, do you know how many games of skee ball I could play with eight dollars?

When my aunt sent me the cookbook, Velveeta Crowd-Pleasing Recipes, I thought two things: she must consider me her rich nephew and that I know enough people to qualify as a "crowd." Rather than tell her the truth, I asked Mother for an advance on my inheritance, bought some Velveeta and made the Down-Home Macaroni & Cheese. It was rich and delicious. Key word: rich.

Thanks, Auntie Gayle! The crowd loved it. I’m going sailing on my yacht now.

¼ cup butter or margarine, divided
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
½ pound Velveeta Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product, cut into ½-inch cubes (See note)
2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked, drained
½ cup Kraft Shredded Cheddar Cheese
¼ cup crushed Ritz Crackers

Preheat oven to 350°. Melt 3 tbsp of the butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Add flour; mix well. Cook 2 min., stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring until well blended. Cook on medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Add Velveeta; cook until melted, stirring frequently. Add macaroni; mix lightly.

Spoon into lightly greased 2-qt. casserole dish; sprinkle with shredded cheese. Melt remaining 1 tbsp butter; toss with cracker crumbs. Sprinkle over casserole.

Bake 20 min. or until heated through. Makes 5 servings, 1 cup each.

Note: A half pound is a half brick. Or four bucks worth.

Source: Velveeta Crowd-Pleasing Recipes