Food Post; pizza, soup, and pretty dishes

Forgive the unoriginal title.

I made white pizza for supper. (Vegetarian recipe, but could add some crumbles of bacon. This recipe is really versatile.)

You should definitely try it! There are multiple steps, but it is still quite simple and oh-so-tasty!

I served it with leftover corn-poblano-potato soup, (vegan recipe) and fresh strawberries we bought from a friend in 4-H.

This blue dish was a gift to me as a young teenager. I know this makes me sound old-fashioned and, well, just old, but when we were young, we always had planning for marriage and family in our forefront. Many gifts I received were given with the idea that one day I would use them in a home of my own. This is one of them. I still treasure this gift, but more so, the friend who gave it to me. I think of her every time I use it.

Here’s what it looks like empty.

May your memories be warm, your dishes filled with goodness, and your friendships sweet.

New Food-Only Blog

For those who just want my recipes, follow me at The Cultured Country Cook! 

I will continue to post “reflections and recollections” here. 

Potpourri; food tricks, sin, and working together

I haven’t posted much about food recently, but among my kitchen concoctions this past week were delicious tuna cakes with a chipotle lime sauce. The following evening I made poor man’s Steak, crazy ranch potatoes, pistachio bundt cake, and coffee pudding for some friends, but made enough for our dinner, too. 

Today for our Cyzick/Sych reunion, I made periogis with sour cream, sautĂ©ed onions, and crispy bacon crumbles. Pepperoni rolls, double chocolate bundt cake and caramel pudding. 


The tricks? I bought a bag of frozen periogis at Costco and added the toppings. For the pepperoni rolls, I bought a bag of frozen Rhodes rolls, thawed them on a tray, tore them in half, flattened each piece into a small disc, laid a few slices of pepperoni into each one, rolled them and baked them. The recipe for the “shortcut” bundt cakes are at the bottom of this post. Both puddings were made completely from scratch and required much more attention. These shortcuts still make for delicious “heritage” food without as work. And those are just my contributions. There will be even more deliciousness at the reunion!

I’ve been experiencing increasing intense pain in my left side for two months. Initially I figured it had to do with carrying a twenty-six pound toddler on my left hip all the time. This past week though, the pain became unbearable and spread into my back making it hard to function, so I finally went to the doctor. Turns out, I had a severe infection! After a second dose of antibiotics I’m feeling significantly better.

Although the pain was excruciating, I truly didn’t know just how bad I felt until I started to feel significantly better. Sin can be that way too. One wrong choice here or there, unacknowledged, unrepented of, and justified by any number of reasons, will eventually take us to a place where we must address our pain and issues in order to function in a healthy way. When we repent and ask God for forgiveness, he who is rich in mercy, unfailing in love, and slow to anger, will always hear our cries and respond with heart-healing and soul-reawakening. Once we receive the beautiful gift of forgiveness and healing, only then do we start to glimpse how truly lost and pain-filled we were before. 

This morning, our children were playing “tug-of-war” clean up. They were holding on to opposite ends of the dog leash, pulling each other this way and that and seeing how much they could accomplish by pulling each other in opposite directions. As one might imagine, they accomplished little to nothing. Life is often that way. We are all running in our own directions trying to pull others with us instead of trying to find ways to work together. May we all do our part to work together and be the positive change we want to see in this world. 

As promised, here’s the simple bundt cake recipe. 

Fabulous Bundt Cake

1 cake mix, any flavor

1 (3.4 oz) package instant pudding, any flavor

1/2 cup oil

1 cup hot water

4 eggs

Method: Mix all ingredients together until well blended, then beat hard for two minutes. Pour into greased bundt cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. 

As suggested in the recipe, we LOVE using a yellow cake mix with pistachio pudding for the cake and serving it with homemade coffee pudding.


The cake I made for the reunion was a chocolate cake mix with chocolate pudding. This recipe is so simple, I actually let our 5-year-old daughter make it this morning. 

Let me know if you try any of these tricks or recipes and how you liked them. Have a great weekend. 

Just for fun, Ozark Carp

You probably won’t hear much from me in this forum over the next couple of weeks. I am working hard to complete my book, “By Way of Sorrow, a story of life, death, adoption, and hope.” (Much more on that soon.)

But I was planning my menu for the next week and saw this recipe, long forgotten, in the back of “Pantry Gems II,” a favorite cookbook of mine. 

Read instructions carefully and completely before trying it for yourself. Enjoy. 🙂

Best ever doughnut recipe with secret ingredient 

We had an unfortunate failure of a snow here overnight. What was forecasted as 4-8 inches in our area barely squeaked out 2 in our yard. As is tradition here for snow days, and sunny days, and cloudy days, and just about any combination of days you can imagine, I turned it into a baking day. On my Facebook post I wrote, “When weather disappoints or delights, just bake.”

My mom uses the best homemade doughnut recipe ever. We have made them frequently for Sadie Rose fundraisers, often making as many as 1,000 at a time. When you mix, roll, fry, glaze all by hand, that takes a tremendous amount of team work! 

For the first time ever, I made one batch all by myself. 134 doughnuts, to be exact! I mixed, rolled, fried, glazed, every blessed one. But the real delight was delivering them to unsuspecting neighbors, surprising the maintenance guys who had been out in their snow plows all night, stopping the mail truck in the street, and running some out to the UPS delivery man who looked a little worried when I yelled, “Wait up! I’ve got something for you,” and our 100-pound Anatolian/Chocolate lab mix was at the door barking like he was going to eat the poor guy. He was happy it was doughnuts I handed him, instead of unleashing a barking dog. 


Here’s the big scary boy. 😁

Our 8-year-old son learned the same lesson I did when I was about his age. Too many of mom’s homemade doughnuts on an empty stomach doesn’t sit well. đŸ€ąđŸ˜·

Several people asked me for the recipe so I will include it here. Several things first though, usually I encourage people to try new things in their baking endeavors, but honestly, I’ve been baking since I was a little girl and this was one of the hardest things I’ve done on my own. Try to get at least one other adult to help with the process. Also, if you are not familiar with yeast dough, this is not a recipe to start with. 

Something else to consider; there is absolutely no redeeming value to the nutrition quality of the pastries. Not one. If you are a clean-eating purist these are not for you. For having them only once or twice a year, I don’t worry too much about it, but these certainly wouldn’t be on the healthy incentives poster. 

This recipe is not original to my mom, but she is well-known in our small community for turning out the best doughnuts around. She made these for Country Village Bakeshop for a number of years. The mashed potatoes are the secret key ingredient and the spices and flavorings all marry with them to make the most moist, spongy, dreamy, delights you could ever imagine. Many have asked our family if we would start a doughnut shop, but we’ve never felt that to be our calling. 

All that being said. Here’s the recipe in one of my Mennonite family cookbooks. I’d love to know if you try these and how they turn out for you! 


In this book, they are titled “Doughnuts  II” and submitted by Janet Showalter. I will list the ingredients in steps so be sure to read and prepare well before starting the recipe. I will add pictures of the steps at the bottom of this post. This recipe will make anywhere from 120-135 doughnuts so cutting it in half or even fourths is a good idea if you don’t have plans to share. 🙂 Also, I personally don’t think they keep well. These are absolutely at their very best the day they are made. 

Doughnuts

5 Tablespoons dry yeast (not instant)

1&1/2 cup warm water

1 Tablespoon sugar

Step 1: Mix these three ingredients together  in a very large mixing bowl. The yeast will rise quickly while you prepare the following steps and you can use the same bowl you will combine the rest of the ingredients in. 

Instant mashed potatoes

2 cups crisco

6 eggs

Step 2: Prepare instant mashed potatoes by using 3 cups water. Heat in microwave or on stove until hot. Add 2 cups instant potato flakes. Stir until well blended. Add the crisco and stir until melted and well blended. Add the eggs and stir well. 
2 cups sugar

3 cups water (yes, this is additional from the yeast water above)

4&1/2 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons nutmeg

1 Tablespoon lemon flavoring

1&1/2 Tablespoon vanilla flavoring

Step 3: Combine the yeast mixture from step one and the mashed potato mixture from step 2. Be sure your mixing bowl is very large! Add the sugar, additional water, nutmeg, and flavorings and stir well. 

21 cups flour

Step 4: Add half of the flour and beat with a hand mixer as long as possible or mix well with hands. Continue to add flour and knead well until dough is smooth and elastic. 

Step 5: Cover and let rise for 1&1/2 hours. 

Step 6: At this point, pour a gallon of canola oil into a very deep electric skillet and turn on high to heat oil for frying. 

Step 7: Punch down dough and tear off a manageably-sized piece to roll out. Roll dough about 3/8 inch thick. 

Step 8: I’m making this it’s own step because it is so vital! Once you’ve rolled the dough, pick up the edges and let it relax back into place. Otherwise your doughnuts will be stretched out and oddly shaped. 

Step 9: Cut out the doughnuts and let rise for 1/2 hour. 

Pay close attention to how you arrange the cut doughnuts on your surface to rise again. You will want to start frying the first ones you cut and move through to the last so they al have adequate time to rise. 

Step 10: Make glaze by placing 2 pounds of confectioners sugar in a bowl. It is best to have a bowl that a wooden spoon can rest across the top. Add just enough water to the sugar to melt and make into a semi-thick glaze. Add your choice of flavoring, lemon, vanilla, or maple. Then add 2-3 Tablespoons corn syrup. Stir well and set aside until time to glaze. (I had to make this twice today for one batch of doughnuts so be sure to have 4 pounds of confectioners sugar on hand!) 

Step 11: Test one doughnut in the grease first, to make sure it is the right temperature. If not hot enough, the doughnut will soak up too much grease. If too hot, the outsides will brown before the inside is done. Each skillet is different, but I had mine between high and sear the whole time to maintain the right temp. 

Also! When you place the doughnut in the grease, drop it in the skillet with the puffy side down. The side that was against the table while rising should be up to start the frying process. This will allow the other side to puff up too. 

Step 12: Fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping with a narrow fork. 

Step 13:  Place fried doughnuts in a metal colander. 

Step 14: Immediately take doughnuts one at a time from the colander and drop into glaze. Cover well all over and place on the handle of the wooden spoon across the glazing bowl. Repeat with as many doughnuts as fits on the handle and leave until the glaze stops dripping. Place onto a cookie sheet. 

Repeat the frying and glazing until finished. 

Enjoy! 

Ingredients gathered and ready. 


Dough rising well above the top of the bowl.


I gave the kids each a piece of dough to play with. 


All rolled out. 



Don’t fill the skillet too full so the doughnuts have room to puff out in the skillet. 




Wow. This feels huge. Sharing this is as personal as some of the most intimate and tender details of my heart; a piece of my childhood. 

Of self care days, cherry cake and the “dangers”of teaching your children to bake

Looking forward to this day has gotten me through two weeks of non-stop busy. My days have been full speed from early morning until late evening with appointments and phone conversations; some expected and some unexpected and unplanned, but necessary. This self-care day where I am home with nothing on the agenda except time with family, catch-up cleaning, and cathartic baking and writing gave me an anticipated point of rest.

I felt somewhat guilty for turning down multiple community events happening today with people and causes important to us. I wanted to go, to support, to help, but by the time this morning arrived it was clear I was totally depleted and taking a day to recharge had to be top priority. 

I’ve been teaching our 5- year-old daughter to cook. The “danger” of that is she wants to make so many treats. The good part is she is learning life skills and it is a great bonding time for us. She has actually created a few recipes totally on her own like Monday when she made “Monkey salad” with sliced banana, kiwi, and grapes, and marinated in fresh-squeezed orange juice. That was the first time I let her use a cutting knife to cut the banana without me holding the handle with her. She chose all the ingredients and was super proud of her accomplishments. I was proud of her too, and the fruit salad was delicious! Tuesday she baked a dessert with flour, buttermilk, honey, dried cranberries and chocolate chips. It tasted very much like a scone. Again, she and I were both proud of her creativity. 

I can’t tell you the last time I watched TV on a Saturday morning, but this morning the girl climbed in my lap and we watched “The Great British Baking Show.” We caught the part where they were baking “Mary’s cherry cake.” Our daughter loves cherries and immediately decided this was our baking project for the day. 

I had to run to the store for maraschino cherries and self-rising flour, but I had everything else. We made a deal that we had to clean several rooms before we baked the cake. 

We took breaks to appreciate classic music like The Oak Ridge Boys, Elvira. 

During our lunch break, the children made their own pizzas with pitas, sauce, and cheese.   

We had an afternoon rest time, too. At one point I had “ambient nature sounds” that sounded like rain on the speaker. The boy came in asking if it was “frying” sounds. I’m sure he was hoping for bacon. 


We eventually got around to baking the cake. I’m a basic country American cook. I use measuring cups, Tablespoons, teaspoons, occasional liquid ounces, and a dry spaghetti noodle to test for doneness. 

The Britain recipe was in grams and dry ounces and I failed math. My Betty Crocker and local Esther Shank cookbooks failed to offer solutions to my dilemma. 

After repeated conversion attempts online, I decided if the recipe called for 6 ounces of sugar, I would measure out 6 ounces. (The online sites always gave me conversions for liquid ounces.) If anyone has a better method for conversion, please please post it in the comments here. 

The cake, however, came together very nicely. 


It was a little crumbly, but so delightful that our son kept thanking Great Britain as he promptly (and quite improperly) inhaled two pieces of cake with a glass of milk. 

Try as I might, I cannot get the link to copy into this post, so I’ve copied and pasted the recipe here. I always want to give proper credit when I can, so you can also find the recipe by typing “British baking show Mary’s cherry cake” into your web browser. That’s long, but it’s how I found it. 

Cherry Cake 

Ingredients

200g (7oz) red glace cherries

225g (8oz) self-raising flour

175g (6oz) softened unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

175g (6oz) caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

50g (1Ÿoz) ground almonds

3 large eggs

For the decoration:

175g (6oz) icing sugar

1 lemon, juice only

15g (Âœoz) flaked almonds, toasted

5 red glace cherries (quartered)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 23cm/9in bundt tin or savarin mould with butter.

Cut the cherries into quarters. Set aside five of the quartered cherries for the decoration later. Put the rest of the quartered cherries in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper and toss in two tablespoons of the flour.

Measure all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl and beat well for two minutes to mix thoroughly. Lightly fold in the cherries. Turn into the prepared tin.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until well risen, golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out and cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar together with the lemon juice to a thick paste. Drizzle over the cooled cake using the back of a spoon, sprinkle over the toasted almonds and reserved cherries.

Here is a link to the recipe on Pinterest. 

Hopefully the link works if you want to see the original recipe. 

I need to move along now. I have six baskets of laundry to fold and put away. I’m so thankful for this day at home and will continue enjoying these seemingly small ordinary moments as holy time, paying attention to God’s presence in and through it all. 

Have a great weekend, everyone. 

Favorite Buttermilk Pancakes or Plant-based Pancakes… with a twist 

I’m a little late for Valentine’s Day planning. Most of you probably have your dinner planned. I had a nice menu prepared in my head, but ran out of time in my day. So I turned to our family’s favorite “busy day” supper; pancakes. 

Only we wanted red heart pancakes. Did you know purĂ©ed beets turn Pancakes a beautiful red and the children (and adults) will never guess they’re eating vegetables! 

Without further ado, here’s my all-time favorite pancake recipe with buttermilk and vegan options. 

Pancakes

1 cup flour (I often use whole wheat)

2 Tablespoons sugar (can use Sucanat, raw sugar, or maple syrup)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons oil (this is where I use puréed beets)

1 cup buttermilk (can use plant milk)

1 egg (or one tablespoon flax meal with 2 Tablespoons water. 

Add a little extra purĂ©ed beets if you want them brighter. 

Method: Mix and pour batter on griddle. Turn once. 

Topping options are endless! Strawberries, chocolate chips, whipped cream or coconut cream, nuts, sprinkles, etc.




Enjoy.