Curried Cream of Corn Soup

Another entry from my dead mom’s recipe box.recipe on aged newspaper glued to index card

I have found a digitized version of this curried cream of corn soup in the Christian Science Monitor archives from 1985. I would have been a year old.

Vegetables: they aren’t what they used to be. They’ve gotten a lot bigger, or at least that’s the impression I got from making this recipe.

I only had large onions. Those come standard in the grocery stores now. It’s difficult to find a medium onion. In a sense, the standard large onions now are the medium ones and a huge onion would be a large onion. I figured 1 medium onion was about 3/4 of a large one, so chopped 3/4 of an onion and stored the rest in a plastic bag. It was far more than 1/2 cup. I used 1/2 cup of the chopped onions, reopened the plastic bag, and added the remaining chopped onion.

The biggest surprise came with the corn. Today’s large ears of corn must be mammoth compared to the large ears of corn of 1985. This is how great a pile of corn kernels 6 large ears of corn makes today.pile of corn kernels taller than the rim of the pot I missed the clarification in the recipe where it says that 6 large ears of corn should only add up to 3 cups of kernels. I put all the kernels in the pot. It was too many kernels. The curried cream of corn soup was just mushy corn. I tripled the cream and the curry powder and it became passably flavorful. Eric had the idea to sprinkle chile powder on top, elotes-style. Nice!

The other change was that I used homemade veggie stock instead of chicken broth.

the soup in a green bowl with chile powder on top
I need to work on my lighting and staging.

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Easy and Very Easy Pastry Crusts

very full recipe box

It’s another entry from my dead mom’s recipe book. This note card has a separate recipe for pastry crust on each side. The card is water damaged, but my will do my best to decipher my mother’s blurred handwriting. Pretty straightforward stuff.
Easy pie crust recipe on index card

Pastry Crust (Easy)

  • 2c unbleached flour
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 3/4c butter
  • lemon juice
  • 3T cold water

Mix flour, salt, sugar
Cut in butter
Sprinkle w lemon juice + iced water
Chill before rolling

very easy pie crust recipe on index cardPastry Crust (very easy)

  • 2c flour
  • 2/3 c butter
  • salt (pinch)
  • 1T sugar

mix flour, sugar, salt
cut in butter
work in ball
press into buttered pie dish

bake 10 min 450, fill, finish baking

I’m trying to make every recipe in the box that is vegetarian. These pie crusts don’t have lard, so they qualify. I selected the “very easy” pie crust because I was feeling overwhelmed with life and didn’t want to put a lot of thought into the project. The only embellishment was using a jar of pastry flour I happened to have. Also, I chilled the ball of dough for half an hour-ish because I forgot to preheat the oven and hadn’t yet begun to peel and chop apples to make the filling. I don’t bake very much. I was impressed to discover I owned those pastry blender tools.

Last December, my artist and writer friend Tessa Hulls lost her friend Chelsea Faith Dolan in the Oakland Ghost Ship Fire. On Facebook, Tessa said, “In honor of Chelsea, I’m going to reply to every commenter on this post by saying something that I remember/value about you. Tell your friends you love them, dammit!”

For me she said, “I will always remember that you were the first person who ever taught me how to make a pie crust! I remember us being in [the college dorm], and thinking that your ability to make a pie crust without measure was some serious next level shit. Pie was, oddly enough, the snowball that led to me becoming a professional chef, which is in many ways the lynchpin of how my weird seasonal life word—so thank you for inadvertently setting me on the course to my future, and thank you for your condolences.”

I taught her how to make a pie crust? I did make a few pies while I was in college. I think they were usually the press-in-pan crusts like my mother’s “very easy” pie crust. My pies were ugly. As long as the pie tasted good, I didn’t care very much about the presentation. I didn’t think it mattered until I took my ugly pie to Thanksgiving and sat it down next to a beautiful apple pie decorated with pastry leaves. I tried a slice of the pretty pie. It was so boring and bland I didn’t finish the slice. Nobody ate my pie. My pie tasted amazing. I’m very good at making pie filling.

Tessa’s pies are worth pictures and I’m absolutely sure they taste just as good. Comparing myself to Tessa will never do anything good for me. I don’t know if there is anything Tessa is bad at.

Last year, I promised Tessa I would make a pie for my family that holiday season in honor of her friend Chelsea. I didn’t. I don’t remember the last time I made a pie, and when I did, I’m pretty sure I used a store-bought crust because I don’t have any confidence in my ability to roll out dough.

So I made this pie in memory of two dead people, Chelsea Faith Dolan and my first mother.

I burned it. I baked it for fewer than 45 minutes and still burned it. Not just the topping. The crust was also burned.

But the pie tasted amazing. My roommate raved about it. The crust was similar to shortbread, and while that’s not appropriate for a pastry crust, it’s enjoyable. I’m still very good at fillings.

Russian Hot Pot

This appears to be one of the newest recipes from my dead mom’s recipe box. The paper is still white. The printing is still dark. Since my mother died in April of 1991, it can’t be any more recent than that. It’s Russian Hot Pot! This recipe has already been digitized in a blog called No Whey, Mama so I don’t have to type it out. This blogger says her mother probably clipped the recipe out of Woman’s Day, so I assume my mother did, too.
Magazine clipping for Russian Hot Pot
Two things intrigue me about this recipe.

  1.  The specification of using a Dutch oven. Not so common these days. My mother’s close friend, Gini tells me my mother had a heavy orange ceramic one.
  2. “Free time while dinner cooks: 30 min.” It assumes that the cook needs clues for managing his or her time. That cook is probably assumed to be a busy mother who needs to know whether she has enough time to perform another household or care-taking task before the family’s dinner burns.

Perplexing Country Pizza

very full recipe box

My dead mom’s recipe box is very full. She must have been collecting recipes before my sister and I were born. (I was born in 1984.) I don’t know if there’s any organization to it. None of the tabs are labeled.

This entry is for “Country Pizza.” How is this a pizza? There’s no yeast. The dough doesn’t rise. This is a lard/butter pastry pie crust with pizza-like toppings as a filling. I haven’t found a online version of this recipe that seems faithful enough, so I’m typing it out.

country pizza ingredientscountry pizza recipe directions

Crust:
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 tablespoons lard
2 eggs, slightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water

Filling:
1 cup diced hard salami (4 ounces)
3 cups ricotta (1-1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup diced smoked cheese (6 ounces)
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground pepper

CRUST Put flour in bowl; sprinkle in salt; cut in butter and lard; with fork, stir in egg mixture, just enough to moisten. Form dough in ball. Cover and refrigerate at least 1/2 hour.
FILLING Mix salami with cheeses; stir in eggs, parsley and pepper. On floured surface, roll out 2/3 dough into a 13-inch square 1/8 inch or less thick; line bottom and sides of 8- or 9-inch square baking pan. Roll out remaining dough to make top crust. Fill pastry-lined pan with filling; cover with remaining pastry; pinch edges and prick all over with fork. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven 50 minutes or until top is golden and puffed. Makes 6 generous servings. Per serving: 732 cal, 35 g pro, 43 g car, 48 g fat, 375 mg chol with butter, 351 mg chol with margarine

I don’t recall my mother making this recipe, but I think kid me would have liked it.

Ham n’ Spinach Puff Pancake

It’s another recipe from my dead mom’s recipe box. This one is for a “Ham n’ Spinach Puff Pancake.” It’s clipped from a Land O Lakes butter box. The recipe calls for frozen spinach, but otherwise doesn’t seem too bad. I remember when I was a very young child that getting fresh vegetables out of season was unusual. That changed sometime during elementary school. Here’s a post at The Whole Bag of Chips from a food blogger who says the dish reminds her of her mother. I guess both our moms bought Land O Lakes Butter. Maybe it would remind me of my mother, except my mother died when I was so young.

Doubt it. This recipe seems a bit more involved than my mother’s usual style of cooking.
the recipe printed on one side of a Land O Lakes butter boxone side of a Land O Lakes box

Upon reading this entry, my family friend, Gini, says, “I don’t think she ever made the Ham n’ Spinach Puff Pancakes. I confess, she and I did use Bisquick mix and I think she even tried some of the pancakes that came in waxed boxes like milk came and still comes in.”

I have a lot of fond memories of Bisquick pancakes. I think the first thing I learned how to cook was Bisquick pancakes.

My Dead Mom’s Recipe Box

My first mother, Irene, my biological mother, died in 1991 a month before I turned seven. The last time I went back to my childhood home, my sister and I sorted through photographs and finally threw away her disintegrating old purse. I brought her recipe box back with me to Portland and will be digitizing it. I don’t remember her being a remarkable cook. I remember some mediocre meatloaf, boxed mac and cheese, tuna melts, and not much else.

The first recipe is a magazine clipping for “Bacon, Mushroom, & Pea Sauce.” A Google search found a digital copy at Cooks.com, but the origin is unclear. The recipe involves frozen peas and cooking everything in the microwave. Oof. Can’t imagine that’s a good texture. But I can see how that would be attractive to a mother of two young girls working full-time.
ingredientsrecipe directions

Upon reading this post, a long-time family friend, Gini, says, “As I recall from the many dinners we shared, Irene was a pretty good cook. I don’t think she ever used that Bacon, mushroom and pea sauce. Perhaps she got it from your grandmother. I do know Irene made one of the most memorable meals I ever tasted: A beautifully prepared catfish in a delicious white cream sauce. The fish totally tasted like pond bottom, indescribably inedible. We laughed about it for years.”