Monday 28 October 2013

Soda Cracker Squares

There are times we hope no one will see us. We may be picking our nose at a red light. Or wearing those jogging pants with the questionable stains. For me, it’s after work. Why? Because I inhale so many soda crackers while waiting for dinner, it’s embarrassing. I’m paranoid someone’s going to put a hidden camera in my kitchen and put me on “World’s Scariest Videos.”

I wanted to call these Soder Cracker Squares because I suspect many elderly cakers pronounce it that way. Hang out in the mall food court on a Tuesday afternoon and chances are you’ll hear words like “zink” inside of “sink” or “warsh” instead of “wash” or “padaydas” instead of “potatoes.” As in, “Let me give myself a warsh in the kitchen zink before I peel the padaydas.” (Pray that you’re never, ever on the receiving end of that sentence.)

While these squares are a little on the sweet side, the soder crackers add a punch of saltiness that keeps you coming back for more. And that instant coffee gives you a much-needed kick (if the sugar don’t do the trick). Now excuse while I go get me a drink of soder pop.

1 small package chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup cold instant coffee
1 ½ cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
35-40 broken, salted soda crackers (See note)
Mix and press into a greased 8”x8” pan. Keep in fridge.

Icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon shortening
1 tablespoon butter
salt and cream

Note: 1 column

Source: 20th Anniversary Cookbook of the Mount Royal United Church, Saskatoon

Before you go!
My novel, Natural Order, has made it to the Top 40 books for CBC's Canada Reads 2014! If you can spare a moment, please consider swinging by the Canada Reads site and cast a vote for it before November 3. (Titles are in alphabetical order.) There's a porcupine meatball in it if you do.

Monday 21 October 2013

Shreddies Clusters

It’s a fact: my mom was addicted to Shreddies. There wasn’t a morning in the ‘80s or early ‘90s that you wouldn’t find her sitting at the kitchen table in her housecoat, scarfing down a bowl. One time, we ran out of Shreddies and she tore screaming out of the house. Eventually we found her huddled in a corner of the backyard, gnawing on a window screen (I guess it was a texture thing) so my dad sent her away to a cereal detox place.

I haven’t shown her these Shreddies Clusters for obvious reasons, but dang! Anyone could get addicted to these lil’ mountains o’ chocolate. You get the nutrients of Shreddies, the goodness of corn (syrup) and the salty crunch of nuts. They’re like a caker “super food.”

No doubt I’ll be seeing these gems on a bazaar table soon. That’s right! Bazaar-o-Rama is coming back! I try to shake off my loneliness by travelling around to church bazaars throughout November then post my highlights. Last year, I made friends with numerous senior women wearing eyeglass strings, purchased deformed knitted slippers and even ate a raisinless bran muffin. Who knows what high-jinks are in store for this year? Stay tuned.

1 package (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 cups Shreddies
½ cup chopped nuts

Melt chocolate chips, corn syrup and butter in small saucepan, stirring until smooth. Add Shreddies cereal and nuts, stirring until coated. Drop and shape into small clusters, a spoonful at a time, on aluminum foil. Refrigerate until set. Make 2 ½ to 3 dozen (1 ½”) clusters.

Source: Country Favourites Cookbook, Mitchell’s Corners Public School

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Franks-and-Beans Pasta Bake

Every now and then, I leave behind my coil-bound cookbooks from the ‘70s and ‘80s and venture into the world to seek out modern day caker recipes. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment. But they’re not that hard to find. I just look for words like “weekday” or “time-saver” or “1-2-3” in the title.

Recently, I picked up a copy of Woman’s World magazine because it's important to know what the heck is going on in a woman's world these days. Based on what I read, there's a lot of eating, dieting, hairdos, dieting, fall canning parties and dieting. Woman's World readers also seem to like exclamation marks! I counted 187 in one issue alone!

I came across the Franks-and-Beans Pasta Bake and thought I’d give it a whirl. I mean, do I need a reason to cook with barbeque sauce? It tasted pretty good. It was tangy and reminded me of summer. But my Eye-talian taste tester made me promise to never mix pasta with barbeque sauce again. I guess it crossed a line.

Anyways, at 544 calories, 21 grams of fat, 24 grams of sugar and 1,241 milligrammes of sodium per serving, all I can say is good luck with the diet!!!!!!!

8 ounces wagon wheel or rotelle pasta (see note 1)
1 ¼ cups barbeque sauce
¾ cup tomato juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
4 hot dogs, cut into 1/2” pieces
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, 4 ounces

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat 2-qt. baking dish with cooking spray. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, combine barbeque sauce, tomato juice, Worcestershire and mustard powder. In large, non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook stirring occasionally, until softened, 7-8 minutes. Add barbeque sauce mixture, beans and hot dogs; cook, stirring occasionally until heated through, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in pasta. Transfer to baking dish; sprinkle with cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. (See note 2)

Note 1: I couldn’t find wagon wheels, so I used pasta called “radiators.” What other pasta shapes are out there? Carburetors?

Note 2: Best eaten to Cher.

Source: Woman’s World, October 7 edition

Friday 11 October 2013

A Very Caker Thanksgiving!

This Monday, Canadian cakers across the land will put on their buckled black shoes, dust off their decorative corn centre pieces and gather round the Thanksgiving table. Sorry, Americans. You’ve still got a few weeks to go before the Peanuts special airs.

If you’re not sure what to make for Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve put together a menu of previously featured recipes that are sure to please every caker at your table. I didn’t include a turkey because, in my family, we could never afford one. Dad just went out and shot the biggest pigeon he could find.

From my caker house to yours, may your cornucopia be full of canned corn, Stove Top stuffing and Tums.

Cheese Cookies
Set up the TV tables, put on your “Kiss the Caker” apron and pass around these savory little ditties. Cakers like them because they have the word “cookie” in the name.

Green Bean Casserole
You can’t go wrong with this tried-and-true classic. Canned beans, cream of mushroom soup and deep fried onion things. The only thing you’ll regret is not making more. Well, that plus the gas.

Potato Casserole
This was my favourite dish of 2012. You have to cut up the potatoes which takes time, but that’s what aunts are for. I’m making this for my Thanksgiving dinner and since no aunts will be there, I’ll get my elderly mother to cut the potatoes. It’s important to make seniors feel needed. Watch for thumbs, though!

Isabel’s 5-Cup Salad/Dessert
Is it a dessert? A salad? Who cares? It's all going down the same hole. Besides, no caker Thanksgiving is complete without miniature marshmallows.

JELL-O Pineapple Rings
My mom made these all the time. If you don't like pineapple, just suck the JELL-O part off.

Pumpkin Dessert
There’s no better way to polish off a meal than with a big helping of pumpkin pah. But who's got time to buy a crust? This Pumpkin Dessert is a cinch. Serve with a cup of Folgers. Remember: it’s three parts Cool Whip to one part dessert.

Monday 7 October 2013

Barbara Mandrell's Pig Out Cake

It’s a fact: cakers love country. I’m talking hair piled high as a three-tier wedding cake, rhinestone-crusted polyester and pilgrimages to Branson, Missouri. In fact, many caker kids grew up dreaming that our Dolly Parton impersonations would one day make it all the way to The Tommy Hunter Show. Well, one of us did, anyway.

So naturally when I came across this recipe for Barbara Mandrell’s Pig Out Cake, I immediately put down my banjo, spit out the wheat sheaf and set to work. Not that there was a lot of work involved. Barbara’s a simple country gal, after all. And a helluva baker to boot. Her Pig Out Cake had me squealing in all the right ways.

I ate it while watching episodes of The Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters Show (now there’s a mouthful) and wondered three things: Was Barbara related to Donna Mills? Was Louise related to Katy Perry? And does Irlene ever regret not putting out an album of her greatest xylophone hits?

1 box yellow pudding cake mix (see note)
½ cup oil
4 eggs
2 cans mandarin oranges, drained (save the juice)
Add enough water to the mandarin orange liquid required for the cake mix, add oil and eggs. Mix well, fold in oranges. Bake in 9 x 13 inch pan at 325° for 35 minutes.

1-20 ounce can crushed pineapple with juice
1-4 ounce pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1-8 ounce Cool Whip
Mix and spread over cooled cake.

Note: I accidentally bought the non-pudding kind. Don't tell Barbara. I don't know if it made a difference.

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