Grandma A’s Recipe Box: Spaghetti with Turkey-Tomato Sauce

Another heart-healthy one here – the note in the top corner says S F 1 gram. But there’s something odd about the way this recipe was written – I’m sure I’ve done the same thing a hundred times, but there’s an ingredient missing from the list, and some directions are repeated twice. (Heck, I’m sure I have dozens of recipe cards no one can even read, never mind interpret my shorthand.)

Here’s the recipe as written:

Spaghetti with Turkey-Tomato Sauce

1 medium onion
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. black pepper
1 TB. olive oil
35 oz tomatoes with liquid

Chop onion. Add turkey, garlic, oregano, pepper. Cook 5 min. ’til turkey begins to brown.

Add tomatoes + liquid, oregano, pepper. Simmer 20 minutes.

Cook spaghetti 10-12 min.

Put sauce over spaghetti.

No picture this week, my camera battery was dead, and I was hungry.

1. The missing ingredient was garlic; I added three smallish cloves of minced garlic. We like garlic.
2. If you notice, the oregano and pepper are added twice, which I don’t think is the original intent. The olive oil isn’t explicitly added at all (I sauteed the onions in olive oil first, then added the turkey).
3. The charm of that final instruction (“Put sauce over spaghetti”) makes me smile every time I see it. I can only picture some kind of Harry Potter scenario with the sauce hovering an inch above the spaghetti.
4. This was tasty, nothing extraordinary. I might add a pinch of red pepper flakes next time. I served it over vegetable-enriched spaghetti – we’ve been working our way through different kinds of pasta lately, and it was time to try this one. We’ve had brown rice pasta (which has been my favorite so far), corn pasta, quinoa pasta, Jerusalem artichoke pasta, etc.

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Update: Canadian Teapot

I had to do some research about this teapot, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Does the pottery studio still exist? What does it mean that I found a teapot from Hamilton at the Goodwill a mile from my house?

Turns out it’s a common enough vintage find; there are several of them on Etsy, they come up often at antique sales, etc. Not very common at a thrift store, but not unheard of, either.

Apparently the pottery studio no longer exists, although most of the existing teapots are probably from the 60s and 70s.

But there are three really neat pieces of information I discovered. First of all, the random scraps of paint on the sides of our homely brown teapot aren’t leftover from a child’s art project, they were most likely part of the original design. Many of these teapots had flowers painted on them: In fact, that’s probably exactly what ours looked like.

Second, the company apparently made an electric version. An electric clay teapot. Think about that for a minute, and then look at this:

Finally, the price for these teapots ranges from $8.00 to $80.00. Depending on what qualities and characteristics, I’ve no idea, but fascinating. We paid $0.95 for ours.

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Grandma A’s Recipe Box: Norm’s Chocolate Cookies

This week’s recipe card is delightfully spotted and stained. They’re called Norm’s Chocolate Cookies, and the corner is dates 1948. I believe this is Grandma A’s handwriting, and my best guess at the date means that they would have been married but not had children yet. (Correct me if I’m wrong, anyone.) I wonder where Grandpa A got the recipe? Is this something his mother made for him? Something he invented?

The recipe, as written:

Norm’s Chocolate Cookies

1/2 C Crisco (or other shortening) melted
1 C brown sugar (packed
Mix until smooth & sticky.
1 egg & pinch of salt [then there’s something unreadable here – whole?]
2 bars of unsweetened chocolate (melted)
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 C sifted flour
1/2 C milk
1 C (or less) of dates or nuts, or both (cut up)

Mix in order given, alternating part of flour and part of milk. While recipe doesn’t call for leavening, sometimes I use 1/2 t soda with the flour. Fold in the fruit, drop by spoonfuls on slightly greased tin in oven of (325-350F). Frost with powd. sugar-choc. frosting.

And here’s what they looked like (taken as the sun was setting):

Gratuitous close-up shot:

These were very interesting, not at all what I was expecting. I rarely bake with shortening, so I’m not as familiar about how it behaves as I am with butter. I was expecting these to spread thinly, and they didn’t spread or change at all. They look almost like chocolate meringues, but there’s no whipped egg white in the recipe.

They’re light, crispy, not too sweet. The milk confuses me a little bit – you would normally add a liquid like that to a cake mix, not a cookie batter. I might try them again and just leave out the milk, see what difference that makes.

Oh, and gratuitous shot of tonight’s sunset:

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Grandma A’s Recipe Box: Crusty Chicken Casserole

This week’s recipe (actually at this point, it’s last week’s, but who’s counting?) was an interesting challenge. The original recipe called for one of those ingredients that I try very hard not to use, partly because it’s simple enough to make myself rather than buy, and partly because I’d rather control what’s in our food than trust something that’s overly (and unnecessarily) processed. But because my goal was to stay true to Grandma A’s recipes if I could, I wanted to go ahead and make the recipe the way it was written. I even clipped a coupon for that specific ingredient, since I happened to come across it. I got to the grocery store and couldn’t even figure out where they kept this particular ingredient, since I’ve never bought it. I finally found the right area of the store — and they didn’t have any. So I went ahead and made the recipe the way my gut told me to, and you’ll see the results below.

The recipe, as written:

Crusty Chicken Casserole

2 cups (4 oz) thin noodles
1 envelope cream-of-mushroom soup
2 cups water
1 cup milk
1 cup cooked chicken or turkey chunks
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
2 tablespoons salad oil2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup packaged dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup snipped parsley

Make day ahead, ready for baking:
1. Cook noodles as package label directs; drain.
2. Meanwhile empty soup mix into large saucepan; gradually stir in water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and add milk, chicken, curry, salt, pepper, Tabasco and noodles. Stir all, then pour into 10″ by 6″ by 2″ baking dish.
3. Then, in hot salad oil, in medium skillet, saute garlic slices until golden; remove garlic. Stir in bread crumbs, then parsley; when blended sprinkle over chicken mixture. Cover with foil or saran; refrigerate.
About 40 minutes before serving:
Start heating oven to 375F. Uncover casserole; bake about 30 minutes or until heated throughout. Makes about 6 servings.

I didn’t take a photo of the final recipe, but let me assure you it was beige. It was late, I was exhausted, and there is no photo.

1. So obviously, the mystery ingredient that I didn’t really want to buy and then wasn’t even able to find: cream of mushroom soup mix. I haven’t used cream of anything soup in years, I would much rather just make a simple white sauce with whatever flavoring (chicken, celery, mushroom) is required. But when I went to look for powdered cream of mushroom soup mix, I couldn’t even find it. So I made a simple white sauce, added mushrooms, a little Worcestershire sauce, and the requested spices. I used about 2.5 cups of milk, since the original recipe called for 3 cups of liquid.
2. I also can’t imagine how 1/4 teaspoons of Tabasco does anyone any good, but maybe my spice tolerance has gotten so high that I don’t realize that a normal person could taste that small amount of Tabasco in three cups of liquid.
3. It was a very beige meal. Mushrooms, pasta, white sauce, bread crumbs. Very beige.  It was very much like a turkey tetrazzini kind of dish.
4. Overall, this was find – bland and mellow, but comforting – but if I made it again, I’d tweak all kinds of things. In fact, I’d tweak so many things it would be an entirely different dish.
5. The first ingredient is thin noodles – I used angel hair pasta, because I was trying to guess the age of the recipe and what might have been available then. But using cellophane noodles or rice stick noodles, and adding some water chestnuts, some soy sauce, and some other things could take this dish in an entirely different (and very eastern) direction.

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25 Recipes update

I’m changing my list for the 25 Recipes challenge. Why? Because I can.

Actually, I realized that there are several things that should have been on there, things I’ve always wanted to make, that just didn’t occur to me over the couple of days I was working on this list before Christmas. And that means there are a couple of things on the list that are really a stretch, things I was just grasping for, that I’ve never really wanted to make but probably would have enjoyed.

So here’s the updated list:

25 recipes challenge
1. mussels
2. eclairs
3. linguine with clam sauce
4. crackers
5. brioche
6. challah
7. beef wellington
8. roast duck
9.  soft boiled eggs
10. lobster (particularly terrifying)
11. ricotta
12. ice cream
13. omelets
14. pot roast
15. mayonnaise
16. tofu
17. caramel
18. lasagna (completely from scratch, including the noodles)
19. creme brulee
20. browned butter anything (i can’t brown butter without burning it)
21. chicken piccata done right
22. marshmallows
ADD: 23. sourdough bread
ADD: 24. tamales
ADD: 25. tortillas
7. cioppino
25. chestnut stuffing
18. blini with sour cream and caviar

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Grandma A’s Recipe Box: Tuna Bread Salad

This salad sounded light and refreshing, perfect for a weekend lunch. It would be absolutely phenomenal in the summer, with farmer’s market or garden tomatoes and good basil, but was really quite decent with what we had. This was the first time I’d bought tomatoes in the winter in a couple of years, and they were not as terrible as I remembered.

The recipe, as written:

Tuna Bread Salad

1. Two cups cubed French bread
2. Two 6-ounce cans solid white meat tuna drained
3. 1/4 small red onion slivered lengthwise
4. Two medium-sized ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
5. 1/2 cup coarsely torn fresh basil
6. 2 Tbs olive oil
7. 1 1/2 Tbs red wine vinegar
8. Salt & pepper to taste.
(turn over)
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Spread bread cubes on baking sheet and bake in oven until toasted, about 20 minutes.
3. Place tuna in bowl & pull apart with fork. Don’t mash
4. Add onion and other ingredients but don’t add bread cubs until the last minute or they’ll be soggy.

And here’s how it turned out:

It was lovely, very satisfying. This is definitely a keeper, and I can’t wait to make it again in the summer.

1. We used a Portugese bread, since we didn’t have any French bread in the house. Sourdough would also be fantastic (I would have used that, but I’m saving this week’s sourdough for something else).
2. We used one ten-ounce can of tuna, rather than two twelve-ounce cans, and that might have been a bit too much tuna. Next time I would use one regular sized can of tuna, and go from there.
3. This would also be great with tuna packed in olive oil, which is so much tastier, but defeats the light and healthy part of this a little bit. But at least it’s not tuna packed in butter. (Ew.)

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Grandma A’s Recipe Box: Cheese Puffs

Next up from Grandma A’s recipe box is a magazine clipping for cheese puffs. These sounded so delightfully vintage 50s cocktail party, I couldn’t resist. This is one of the many recipes cut out of a magazine, glued onto an index card, and covered with a loose plastic sleeve. What’s interesting is that I’ve never seen these plastic sleeves for sale anywhere – I wonder if you can still find them. They’re actually a brilliant idea – they’re closed on three sides, but loose enough that there’s no problem getting a recipe card back inside. Also, I strongly feel like I recognize the typeface and layout here, but I can’t think what magazine this might have come from. There are no other clues, and I can’t remove the glued clipping without destroying it. Does anyone else recognize it? An old Reader’s Digest, maybe?

Here’s the recipe:

As written:

Cheese Puffs

1/4 lb grated natural sharp American cheese (1 cup)
1/4 cup soft butter
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teasp salt
1/2 teasp paprika
24 stuffed olives

About 4 or 5 hr. ahead: Blend cheese with butter. Stir in flour, salt, paprika; mix well. Wrap 1 teaspoonful of this dough around each olive, covering it completely. Arrange on ungreased baking sheet. Refrigerate.

About 1/2 hr before serving: Bake puffs in 400F oven 10 to 15 min. Serve warm. Makes 24.

The finished puffs:

These smell amazing, by the way. The dogs were wandering around the kitchen with their noses in the air, trying to figure out a) why I was baking at 8pm and b) what that amazing buttery cheesy smell was.

Gratuitous close-up:


1. I used sharp cheddar, not “natural sharp American cheese.” I also used smoked paprika instead of regular paprika, and added about 1 T instead of 1/2 tsp.
2. I only had enough dough for 18 olives, not 24. I also patted the olives dry before wrapping the dough around them.
3. This is basically a shortcrust, a lot like making a savory shortbread, so it’s very forgiving and malleable. It was easy to pinch and smooth and shape around the olives, and actually very satisfying to do.

the verdict? These were even tastier than I expected. The sharp cheddar in the crust was perfect, the texture was flaky and tender, and the olives mellowed in the oven. These will definitely stay in our repertoire, absolutely worth making. I wonder what else we could use besides olives…

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