Corn and Ham Soup

Myrna likes a cream soup that’s not thick and “gloppy”, and she needs one that’s gluten-free.  This recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, "Practical Produce", fills the bill!  I had cream on hand, and the rest of the ingredients too…home canned chicken broth, and good diced ham from those not-so-pretty slices near the end of a ham, and green peppers and onion, already chopped, all in the freezer, along with corn – I didn’t even thaw them before cooking.
I served it with some focaccia I also had in the freezer, warmed 15 seconds in the microwave, and in the time it took my husband to make a nice salad, using homemade salad dressing that lasts several days, we had a homemade lunch! 

Corn and Ham Soup
  6             cups  Chicken Broth
  2             cups  Corn
  1             cup  Ham -- diced
     1/3      cup  Onion -- chopped
     1/3      cup  Green Pepper -- chopped
  1             cup  Cream
Combine all but cream.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes.  Stir in cream and heat through.
6-8 Servings

In the Kitchen...Sheet Pans

Sheet pan recipes are so popular, whole books and specialty magazines have been devoted to them.  We agree…when I searched “sheet pan” on our blog I came up with more than 200 entries!
A half sheet with a rack is a real workhorse – for baking, roasting, cooling cookies, frosting (the pan catches the drips) – I have 3 of these sets, each with a plastic cover, and work them hard.  I like the Nordic Ware sheet pans, I can buy just the pans inexpensively at Sam’s Club, and I have purchased extra covers at The Dutchman’s in Cantril, Iowa.  Amazon sells a variety of the Nordic Ware sheet pans and lids HERE.
I use these pans for baking, raising buns and other yeast loaves with the covers, roasting vegetables and meats for stock-making, and spreading out items I want to freeze in a loose pack, like rice, so I can pack them after they are frozen hard.
I also have 3 Nordic Ware quarter sheet pans that are 13x9”; a perfect size for my large toaster oven, and often for whatever else I want to bake or roast.  They hold half a recipe from a large half sheet pan, and I can also buy the plastic covers for them.
I like racks that fit inside my sheet pans, and have 2 for my half sheet pans and 2 for my quarter sheet pans.  They can be used as racks in the pans, for roasting and for drip racks for frosting, and also to cool the contents of the sheet pans or to place the pans on to cool.  I found these racks fit my Nordic Ware half sheet pans and these racks fit my quarter sheet pans. 
My Doughmakers 10x15” jelly roll pan came with a cover – great for bar cookies and jelly rolls, as well as toting assorted cookies to parties, pot lucks and picnics.  I no longer see the covers, but if you find a 10x 15” jelly roll pan with a cover, that’s what I would buy now.  I usually only use this pan for bar cookies and jelly roll recipes that specifically call for this size pan.
Here are some of our favorite recipes that use sheet pans.

Jelly Roll Pans

Do You Remember?

Myrna's Birthday - Myrna 3rd from right, Sue far right

Do you remember...?
Do you remember when birthday parties were just a few close friends?
When Moms simply served hot dogs, baked beans, potato chips (a treat), and cake and ice cream??
When presents were maybe a book or inexpensive toy?
When no one dreamed of going to a restaurant or mall for a party...nobody hired clowns, balloon playgrounds, or had "princess parties"......
Everyone's birthday party was similar?  No one tried to "top" anyone else?

Family Favorites...Old Fashioned Tomato Soup

Here’s some comfort food for those of us who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s…tomato soup – we always had it with grilled cheese sandwiches at our mother’s table.  This recipe, from the "Taste of Home Soups” soft cover cook book 2014, is so simple and good it’s amazing! 
I used home-canned whole tomatoes I cut up a little, and the flavor was great.  You don’t have to puree, and with no other thickening, it’s gluten-free as well. The goodness of the tomatoes shines through with the very simple seasoning.  I used a little less milk the second time I made this so it tasted more of the tomatoes, and we really enjoyed it with a small salad and grilled cheese sandwiches, of course.
Old Fashioned Tomato Soup
  14 ½    ounces  Diced Tomato -- undrained
     ½       teaspoon  Baking Soda
     ¼       teaspoon  Garlic Salt
              Salt and Pepper -- to taste
  1          Quart  Milk   
  2          tablespoons  Butter
              Fresh Parsley -- minced
In a large saucepan, bring tomatoes to a boil.  Add baking soda, garlic salt, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat; add the milk and butter.  Heat through, but do not boil.
1 pint of home canned or freshly stewed tomatoes with liquid can be substituted for the purchased canned tomatoes.
6 Servings
Yield:  "1 ½ quarts"

Per Serving: 148 Calories; 9g Fat (56.0% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 32mg Cholesterol; 315mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Egg Roll Rice Noodle Bowl

 For a simple, easy gluten free meal try this recipe for Cabbage Egg Roll noodle bowl. It is by Courtney Stultz, Kansas, and with just a few small changes to suit our family, I had dinner ready and on the table in no time.
 Bettie is not a fan of stir fries and really likes that neon pink Sweet & Sour sauce so I wasn’t sure if she would like this but she did and said we should have it again. I will just because I really liked it and it is Gluten Free (if you use GF soy sauce), necessary when you are a Celiac.
 I used the ground ginger called for even though I had fresh ginger and it worked very well. I always have cooked mushrooms in the freezer so added them and used coleslaw mix as my cabbage and carrots. It does need the turmeric as turmeric has a flavor that you find in Chinese 5 spice blends. I used dried garlic soaked in some of the water from the rice noodles and brown rice noodles instead of white though either will work. Also toasted some Sesame Seeds while the pork was browning and this made a nice crunch addition. If like me you can’t have the egg roll wrappers this is a good substitute and just good even if you can have them.
Egg Roll Noodle Bowl  
TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
YIELD: 2 servings
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil  (I didn’t use any oil and it worked great)
1/4 pound ground pork
1/4 cup mushrooms
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2  garlic clove, minced (dry works fine)
1/2  teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8  teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 cups shredded cabbage (about 1/2 small head)
1 large carrot, shredded (about 1 cup)
2 ounces rice noodles
3 green onions, thinly sliced
Additional soy sauce, optional
In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook and crumble pork until browned, 4-6 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, garlic mushrooms and seasonings. Add cabbage and carrots; 
Or coleslaw mix, cook 4-6 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
 Meanwhile, cook rice noodles according to package directions; drain and immediately* add to pork mixture, tossing to combine. Sprinkle with green onions. If desired, serve with additional soy sauce. Yield: 2 servings.
*Most rice noodles will stand in cold water and just add and stir until warm. 

In the Kitchen...Fry Pans, Woks and Electric Fry Pans

Fry Pans…Myrna and I have had many of all kinds over the years.  We have whittled down our collections…I have an 8” and 10” Griswold cast iron pan, an 8” ceramic non-stick pan, an 8” All-Clad tri-ply frying pan and a Calphalon 10” stir-fry pan or wok.
Myrna has some Calphalon select that she purchased in a set of pans…discarding many of her old, beat- pans.  She and I have both had Calphalon everyday pans…I don’t have mine anymore because I seldom cook that quantity of food now.   She likes their non-stick and light-weight properties.
I have to confess, I seldom use the All-clad pan…it’s hard to clean up unless I cook meat and deglaze it with wine.  I don’t guess I’d recommend it even though it’s often considered the Rolls Royce of pans.  Another pan I have had and passed on was a Staub supposedly non-stick enameled cast iron pan…it did stick…for everything!  Both the All-Clad and Staub were a colossal  waste of a good bit of money.
I occasionally use the non-stick pan, also mostly for eggs or to put my egg poacher insert into, and this inexpensive one I bought at Costco has held up well. 
My husband LOVES his Berndes crepe pan for cooking eggs…it’s HIS pan and I leave it alone!  The flat bottom gives plenty of room, and the low sides makes turning eggs easy.  It’s a cast pan under the non-stick finish, and works especially well on a glass cook-top, as the bottom is really flat.
But I LOVE my Griswold cast iron pans and use them for most everything.
When I need a larger pan or want to stir-fry, I use my Calphalon stir-fry pan…it’s perfect!
We have both had a variety of electric frying pans, some very expensive stainless steel ones, and I can tell you, we both have found the relatively inexpensive Presto electric frying pans are still the best…they heat evenly, clean easily, are lightweight and are cheap enough to replace when they get too beat up.  That’s Myrna’s in the photos.