Great Depression Recipes: Blueberry Muffins


It’s blueberry season and you got a little over zealous at the local U-pick.  Yeah, it happens to the best of us.

Try this delicious recipes from the USDA 80 years ago.

or click here for an older article about reduced fat  blueberry muffins with reduced sugar option

Blueberry Muffins:

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder  ( AKA: 1 Tablespoon +1 teaspoon)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 Tablespoons of melted butter or vegetable oil or whatever kind of fat

1 cup of blueberries or huckleberries, washed, stemmed and dried.

Procedure:

1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2. In another bowl combine all the wet ingredients.

Bluberries or huckleberries count as a wet ingredient.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

4. Mix until just blended.

Over blending muffin batter can really make for a tough muffin or blueberry hockey puck.

Julia Child once said that all muffin batter should be folded 20 times.  No more.  No less.

What that means is:

Scape your spatula all the way around the bowl. At the end of each stoke you “fold the outer bater into the middle.  Use one hand to move the spatula one way as you rotate the bowl in the opposite direction.  Once you get the knack of it, this will just become habbit.

5. Pour the batter into well greased muffin tins.

Never fill the muffin cup more than 2/3 full or you’ll turn your oven into one giant blueberry mess.

6. Bake in a medium fast oven ( about 400 degrees Fahrenheit ) for about 30 minutes.

The muffins are done when you can insert a toothpick and it pulls out of the muffin clean, not gooey.

You might also try canning your abundance:

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial for any berry jam

Blubarb Jam — simply delicious Blueberry Rhubarb Jam

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

Neighborly Advice Vol. 5: Neighboorhood Gone Wild With Free Food


A. Onion Grass  B. Mint  C. Violets  D. Dandelion

A. Onion Grass B. Mint C. Violets D. Dandelion

With beginner articles on Mason Bees; Mushrooms; Crystallized Edible Flowers and Fruits; Dandelion Bread, Soup, Salad, Casserole and Wine; Violet Jelly; Sugared Violets; Stuffed Wild Grape Leaves; Outdoorsy Kid Activities, you could say we’ve gone a little wild this week. Join your neighbors for a new adventure!

Congratulations to Jen Neff, the only one to get all 4 correct in the You’re Eating WHAT From Your Lawn Quiz.

After we harvest some wild goodies, let’s head into the kitchen to make a feast from our foraged finds.  Don’t be afraid.  Open your palate to something new.  We’re all adults here.  If we are brave enough to step out of our comfort zone, then we open ourselves to a whole new world of learning, adventure and … well, free gourmet food.

In The Kitchen/ Into The Wild

Surfer Sam inspired the creative juices for this weeks edition with the following comprehensive article.

Everything Mushrooms — varieties, recipes, etc.

Langdon Cook’s new book, Fat of the Land: Adventures of A 21st Century Forager sounds like my kind of adventure. From his blog we have…

Dandy Muffins and Bread

Here are more dandelion recipes from all over…

Dandelion Fritters

Dandelion Pesto

Dandelion Soup or Dandelion Salad w/ Eggs or Italian Dandelion Casserole or Dandelion Wine

And just look at all the fun we can have with violets.

Violet Jelly

Sugared Violets

Crystallized Edible Flowers and Fruits

I am particularly eager to try the two recipes that follow as I have never tried either.

Stuffed Wild Grape Leaves

Simple Delicious Fiddlehead Fern Recipe

Waiting to be mounted to get morning sun, afternoon shade, one of my semi-homemade mason bee homes.  Attracting more pollinators means more garden goodies!

Waiting to be mounted to get morning sun, afternoon shade, one of my semi-homemade mason bee homes. Attracting more pollinators means more garden goodies!

In The Backyard Barnyard

How to Build a Mason ( Orchard ) Bee House

Beneficial Bugs: Mason Bees

Attracting Pollinators

Mason Bees

Shaw, age 6, explains how to make candied violets.

Shaw, age 6, explains how to make candied violets.

Up In The Tree House

Make Your Own Printable Birthday Cards

Candied Violets — So Easy A Child Could Do It

Sorry for the quickie edition

In case you missed the past editions, here are the links:

Neighborly Advice Vol 1pizza dough, making jam, using a pressure cooker, learning to knit, rescuing lost stitches, adding goats to your backyard

Neighborly Advice Vol 2 — kool-aid dye, spinning wool, kids’ activities, natural egg dyes, keeping chickens, line drying clothes, making applesauce, finding your sanity, pickling eggs, frugal groceries, growing peas, tomatoes and even worms

Neighborly Advice Vol 3 — grocery budgets, foraging free food, starting a garden, seed tape, hemming pants, chickens, turkeys, fruit trees, goat cheese, fermentation, kid’s activities and my favorite book sale

Neighborly Advice Vol 4 — making marshmallows, starting a garden, planting potatoes, herbs and onions, charming row markers, slow-roasted tomatoes, foraging free food, kids’ activity to-do list, 100 ways to cook eggs, tabletop gardening, and even starting an aquarium

Candied Violets — So Easy A Child Can Do It


Well, happy Friday, everyone!  My son has a project for you.

This time each year my lawn is full of violets.

Shaw, age 6, making his candied violets.

Shaw, age 6, explaining how to make candied violets.

Here’s a nice beginner cooking project that brings Spring to the kitchen. Shaw will show you how to make candied violets and how he adds them to his favorite dessert, ice cream.

Let’s begin:

1. Pick a nice sized bunch of violets from a chemical-free lawn.

2. Gently rinse them in a colander and allow to drain.

3. With the help of an adult, separate two egg whites.

4. Beat the egg whites with a wire whisk, until just frothy.

5. By holding the stem, dip each flower in the frothy egg whites. Make sure the flower is completely covered with egg white.

6. Lay the eggy flower in a little bowl of sugar. Spoon sugar from around the violet to cover it.

7. Gently shake the excess sugar from the flower.

8. Dry on a sheet of waxed paper.

French Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Violets and pictorial instructions, of course.

French Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Violets and pictorial instructions, of course.

Now, decorate your cup cakes or add them to your ice cream. Surprise your friends by showing them how to eat a little bit of Spring.

What ways can you think of to add violets to your food?

This week’s “Neighborly Advice” will include more advanced violet recipes for more formal use.

Join us for the fun. Let’s get picking!

You’re Eating WHAT from the Lawn?! — A Quick Quiz


What are these four food found in my front lawn?

What are these 4 foods found in my front lawn?

Here’s the deal. Name as many as you can and offer at least one use for each.

Serious and silly answers are welcome.

As this will launch a series of adventures, if you have an actual recipe using any of the above as a main ingredient, please e-mail it to kitewrite@gmail.com. That way you can get credit and be a featured recipe in the neighborhood.

Go ahead, guess! I double dog dare you.

(Neighbor Nancy reties her apron and heads out to pick a zillion of “C” for an upcoming recipe.)

Note: 5/8/09 — Oh, I am very entertained!  Get your guesses in.  Answers will be in this Saturday morning edition of “Neighborly Advice.”   Tomorrow’s theme is “Neighborhood Gone Wild”

BTW, forgive the picture, it will not stop raining here.  Lighting is terrible.

Hint — the stem on “B” is square.

Great Depression Recipes: Rhubarb Tapioca


Keep rhubarb pieces petite since tapioca is little, too.

Keep rhubarb pieces petite since tapioca is little, too.

Join me as I head back to the rhubarb patch and we shall make some goodies.

As I have gotten a lot of requests for more of this kind of thing, here is another Great Depression recipe courtesy of the USDA circa the 1930s.

And remember, if this doesn’t suit your taste, check the Cooking/Baking Basics or Waiting-For-Payday Categories at the right for other ideas. Or try the “search” bar above the little calendar.

Rhubarb Tapioca

hm … probably the two most mysterious foods in one recipe, which, of course, means we have to try it.

Ingredients:

4 cups Rhubarb, cut into little pieces

2 cups Water, hot

1/2 cup quick-cooking Tapioca ( Isn’t it all quick cooking these days, 80 years later? Who knows? Check the box.)

1 + 1/2 cups Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Salt

Procedure:

1. In the top of a double boiler, over steam, stir the rhubarb, water and tapioca for about 15 minutes. No double boiler? Click here to make do.

2. Stir in the sugar and salt.

3. Cook for about 5 more minutes, until the tapioca is clear and the rhubarb is tender.

4. Chill thoroughly and serve it plain, with whipped cream or, perhaps garnished with a strawberry slice or two.

More rhubarb  harvest, storage and recipes to come.

Now here is the big question:

I never buy tapioca, but I always seem to have it. Why is that?

Does this happen to anyone else?

Great Depression Recipes: Rhubarb Crunch


Freshly tugged from the garden, rhubarb awaits chopping.

Freshly tugged from the garden, rhubarb awaits chopping.

(Neighbor Nancy wipes the tiniest glisten of drool from the corner of her mouth as she shares this recipe. While the aroma of a fresh batch of Rhubarb Crunch fills her little home, she digs in the freezer for vanilla ice cream.)

Ah, rhubarb crunch time. It means that spring is officially here. It means that I must make sure the strawberries are doing well. For all too soon, the last of the rhubarb will be mixed with the first of the strawberries to make batches of Strawberry Rhubarb jam for Christmas presents.

From my earliest childhood memories, Spring covered dish Suppers always required a batch of Rhubarb Crunch.

I have had it covered in cream, drizzled with vanilla sauce. Hot. Cold. Scraped from the final bits of the pan. But, hot out of the oven with a single scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream … (sigh) … heavenly.

So from the depths of the family recipe box…(oh my, is this a crusty well-loved recipe card?! ) … here we go.

Rhubarb Crunch

Ingredients:

Crunch bottom and topping:

1+1/4 cup Flour

1 cup rolled Oats, quick or regular

1+1/4 cup Brown Sugar

10 Tablespoons Butter, melted

Fruit Mixture:

4 heaping cups Rhubarb, diced

1 cup Sugar

2 Tablespoons Cornstarch

1 cup Water

1 teaspoon Vanilla

Procedure:

In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and melted butter.

Press about half of this mixture into the bottom of a 9″x 13″pan. Set the rest aside.

Cover with all the diced rhubarb. Set aside

In a small sauce pan, combine the white sugar and cornstarch.

Over medium low heat, stir in the water. Heat and stir, until it boils and becomes clear and smooth.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the entire mixture over the rhubarb in the pan.

Cover with the remaining oat mixture. This, of course is the “crunch” part.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit ( a medium oven ) for 1 hour.

Serve it warm or cold.

Top it with cream, vanilla sauce or ice cream.

Warning: Beware of the Rhubarb Crunch phenomenon. Do not tell jokes while eating this dessert, because as you laugh,it will feel like your jaw will blow off. The more you laugh the more it hurts. No one knows why and it happens every time.

So, with what are you going to top your batch?

Sour Dough Starter Tutorial


Thanks to Rhonda, a dear reader, for the great tutorial that follows. Her sour dough has been alive for years.

With bread prices on the rise (tacky pun fully intended. If a writer doesn’t intend a pun, they should use a dad-blasted thesarus. Sorry. Pet-peeve.)

Oh dear, where was I?

Ah yes, expensive bread. Making your own is a great alternative. However, yeast prices are no picnic either. So, sour dough it is. Once you get it going, your set. And there are ever so many thing you can do with it.

I do love expert advice.

Here it is, pasted directly from the e-mail

Hi Nancy,

Well, I finally found a few spare minutes to start this sourdough “recipe” (if you can call it that).

First of all, let me stress how important it is to use organic ingredients at least to start your starter to help your starter get a good start in life. Water needs to be non-chlorinated, and the fruit you use should be organic. Just bear with me. I use Bob’s Red Mill, but I live in the Pacific Northwest and his mill is local (less than 40 miles from my house). Grinding your own is good, too, if you have your own mill (the fresher the better). For water, please use filtered water or good tasting well water with no chlorination. Alternatively, you can buy good spring water from the grocery, or if your tap water tastes good, just set some out overnight (lightly covered with a kitchen towel to keep the bugs and dust out, the chlorine will dissipate over 24 hours). Don’t use metal with your sourdough, just a plain old wooden spoon will do just great.

So, you will need:

3 organic apples for juicing or a bunch of organic grapes
5 pounds organic wheat flour (either whole wheat or all-purpose)
2 pounds organic rye flour (rye is a traditional flour for starters… it just seems to really jump start your starter)

That’s it for ingredients. I will walk you through day-by-day… (all are estimates, depending on the “growing” conditions in your kitchen – I have a relatively cool house, 60 degrees during the day and about 68 in the evenings, you definitely do NOT have to keep your house at 85 degrees. )

DAY 1: Juice three fresh organic apples (or a bunch of organic grapes to equal about 1 cup juice), strain and place liquid in a partly covered jar or jug. (I use a quart canning jar with plastic wrap placed over the top, poke about 7-10 holes in the plastic with a toothpick).

DAYS 2-7: When the juice is obviously bubbly and fermented, pour it into a glass or ceramic (not metal), add 1 cup flour wheat flour (all-purpose or whole wheat, or a mixture of both) and ½ cup rye flour and leave, covered with plastic wrap poke with holes or in a loosely tied plastic bag.

DAYS 4-10: Add another 1 cup flour and ½ cup rye flour and ¾ cup water, mix well and leave on your counter. At the end of day 10 (or before 10 days), there should be visible bubbles in the mixture, but if not, no worries, your starter is just taking its time and developing some lovely flavors for you. Don’t stress out over this, it is NOT brain surgery or rocket science, think of it as a garden, some seeds just take longer to germinate is all.

DAY 11: Add another 1 cup of flour (again, white or wheat), ½ cup rye flour and ¾ cup water. Stir and leave on the counter, loosely covered.

DAY 12: Discard half the mixture and add another 1 cup of wheat flour, ½ cup rye flour and ¾ cup flour, stir and leave on the counter as before.

DAY 13 AND BEYOND: Repeat the above every day until your starter is alive and jumping. You will know this because the starter will rise up the sides of the bowl in between feedings and will start to smell sharp and cidery (before you stir it down it might smell like alcohol – this is just fine, it is a by-product of the yeasts and bacteria “breathing”). If you feel the need to get the starter going more quickly, feed it twice a day. I know this seem a little wasteful, but you will only be throwing it away (put it on your compost pile) for only a few days. When it doubles in the container in less than 24 hours we are ready to make some bread, cake, waffles, pancakes, biscuits, et cetera.

The starter as it gets mature, after it sits for a day or two will usually develop a layer of liquid on the top. It will range in color from clear to gray to black. Any of these colors are just fine, this is called “hooch” and is normal. If, though, you see a pink or red color on the top of your starter, just throw it out and start over again. Usually if you keep your starter fed and happy you will not have off colors or smells.

Seems like a lot of work, but it is more like a pet, you have to feed it, water it, and clean up after it, but the end result is beautiful, yummy baked goods, and no more reliance on the grocery store for that expensive dried yeast.

Nancy, next week I will walk you through your first loaf of bread and give you some ideas as to how to use up those discards. I will also teach you how keep your sourdough happy and how to store it in the refrigerator. I use my starter three to four times a week, so I don’t usually keep it in the fridge, but when I go on vacation, I cold sore it, either in a really cold root cellar or in the refrigerator.

Hope this is helpful, if you have ANY questions, don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail.

Sorry, no pictures; that is a little out of my comfort zone. 🙂

Gotta go, my sourdough is calling me, she’s hungry and ready to help me make some lovely waffles for tomorrow morning.

Ronda

Well, I don’t know about you, but I fully intend to hold her to the further sour dough lessons.

Feel free to ship question to me and I will bundle them and forward them to our new beloved expert.

Thanks Ronda!

Who wants to go with me to her house for waffles? I have a gallon of maple syrup from this years harvest to bribe our way in the front door.

Neighbor Nancy’s Mysterious Labotomy


(Neighbor Nancy stares blankly at the screen with just the slightest hint of drool at the edge of her parted lips)

Nothing.

I have total writer’s block.  Ferocious, evil, mind-numbing writer’s block.

If you have a question, concern, hint, tip, kick in the seat of the pants for me, please fire away.

Questions on homesteading,budgeting, getting-by, frugality, baking, cooking,gardening, backyard livestock, a particular vegetable, fruit,critter, whatever.   I am soooooo stuck.

E-mail it. Meebo it. Skywrite it.

Somebody pass me a sticky bun and a topic, please.

(Neighbor Nancy covers her head with her apron and slumps into a quality pout.)

Neighborly Advice: Vol. 1–How to Begin


With beginner articles on pizza dough, making jam, using a pressure cooker, learning to knit, rescuing lost stitches, adding goats to your backyard, we heartily welcome you. Are you ready to learn a new skill?

Climb over the fence and join your neighbors for a new adventure!

Climb over the fence and join your neighbors for a new adventure!

I grabbed a few smarty pants neighbors. Each one has expertise in a specific skill that they want to teach you. Every Friday we will try to take you further on your adventure. Whether you are afraid of death by pressure cooker or that you will poke your eye out, trying to learn to knit, we have a smart neighbor to whisper their secrets to you.

Grab a cup of coffee and a warm muffin from the basket and come meet my friends. There’s a load of reading to get you on your way.

Let’s begin our adventure.

Not interested in the following adventure? Skip down the page to choose from many others.

Tons of folks have been visiting me with questions about baking their first loaf of bread. Others have offered their condolences for the untimely death of my Oregon Trail Sour Dough Starter. Thanks for the support, by the way.

In my neck of the woods, many families enjoy pizza on Friday nights. What if you could make better pizza yourself for less. Kaela, who mostly writes about using local food has joined us with two wonderful tutorials.

Quicker Whole Grain Pizza Dough for the beginner

12 Grain Pizza Dough for the more advanced baker

Here’s what she asked me to pass on:

The 12-grain is likely not for beginners; it can be a difficult dough to work with, as the sharp grains can cut the gluten, making it difficult to achieve a good rise, and it is therefore not as elastic and easy to shape as a regular pizza dough. So maybe the quicker pizza dough is for people who have never made pizza dough, and the 12-grain is ‘advanced.’

She refers to local flour she uses and offers us some additional advice about the flour found in our neck of the wood.

Working with the Wild Hive flours has taken some experimentation, as it seems to be more hyrdrated (and less capable of taking in water) than most supermarket brands. So, the basic idea if you are following my recipes, but not using Wild Hive flour, is to know that you may need more water in your recipe, and to pay attention to the pictures and descriptions of how the dough should look and feel. This is true of any baker using any flour really; flour changes day to day, with the weather, temp & humidity in your kitchen, age of the flour, etc., so you always have to adjust; but in general, when trying out new recipes with Wild Hive flour, I start out with about 25% less water than called for in the recipe, and proceed from there.

So, you would like to make your own jam from the baskets of goodies you’ve picked? Visit Joel for a very comprehensive jamming lesson that will ease your where-do-I-begin worries. Dana, a designer by trade, has beautifully photographed the process.

How to Make Your Own Jam — Step-by-Step Case Study (Step 0)

Why haven’t they written a book? Dunno. Maybe they will if we offer them some encouragement.

On we move to visit two silly goats, Doris and Jilly, who are masters of the art of pressure cooking. The will help take away your deathly fear of pressure cooker explosions as they offer their advice on how to get started.

Pressure Cooking Explained

I don’t know about you, but I need to get out of the kitchen for a while. Melissa is sitting in the back porch swing with her knitting. If we take her a warm Philadelphia Sticky Bun, she will certainly chat with us about teaching yourself to knit.

One Project at a Time — or How I Learned to Knit in 8 Easy Years.

Another neighbor offers a pictorial lesson in rescuing dropped stitches in your knitting.

Search and Rescue at Selects Wool and Flax

Let’s head off the back porch to visit the backyard livestock. Fias Co Farm has all the the information you need if you are thinking about adding goats to your backyard.

Getting Your Goat

Well, that’s it for the first edition. In a lousy economy, you need to develop your skill. What will you try?

Next Friday will be our next edition. I hope you drop by.

Join us at the back fence next week for more learning-a-new-skill challenges

Join us at the back fence next week for more learning-a-new-skill challenges

If you are a blogger who writes informative articles about something you think everyone should know how to do, please let me know. Leave a comment, e-mail me.

Or even use the IM at the right if it says that I’m “available.”

(Neighbor Nancy reties her apron and flies out the back door to stir her compost pile, allowing the screen door to bang loudly.)

Note: here are some following editions:

Neighborly Advice Vol 2 — kool-aid dye, spinning wool, kids’ activities, natural egg dyes, keeping chickens, line drying clothes, making applesauce, finding your sanity, pickling eggs, frugal groceries, growing peas, tomatoes and even worms

Neighborly Advice Vol 3 — grocery budgets, foraging free food, starting a garden, seed tape, hemming pants, chickens, turkeys, fruit trees, goat cheese, fermentation, kid’s activities and my favorite book sale

Neighborly Advice Vol 4 — making marshmallows, starting a garden, planting potatoes, herbs and onions, charming row markers, slow-roasted tomatoes, foraging free food, kids’ activity to-do list, 100 ways to cook eggs, tabletop gardening, and even starting an aquarium

Sour Dough Challenge: Batch 1 R.I.P.


I missed it! I actually missed it.

The recipe said wait 48 hrs. So when it was bubbly and foamy last night, I should have used it. But it said to wait so I did.

It stopped bubbling and went flat.

I stirred it. Waited. Nothing.

Fed it with more flour and sugar. Waited. Nothing.

I have killed my sour dough starter.

No Oregon Sour Dough Starter for me.

Tomorrow, I begin again.

Rest in peace, stinky dough starter. You were fun while you bubbled.

Well, at least I’m learning. New kitchen adventures can be so scary sometimes.

How has yours been doing?

Did you miss it? Bake with it? Refrigerate it for another day?