Buying Chips and Bark

 When you go to the store to buy Almond Bark you have some choices as it comes in a chocolate flavor and a butterscotch flavor. It is popular used in recipes with pretzels, candy canes and popcorn. Here is a little information about it.
 Almond bark (also known as vanilla flavored candy coating) is a chocolate-like confection made with vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter and with coloring and flavors added. It can be bought in packages, blocks, or round discs where candy and baking supplies are sold.
White chocolate is made up of cocoa butter, milk solids and sugar. It can be used instead of almond bark but for very many recipes it would be quite costly.
 You can find real chocolate almond bark but most barks at your local store are flavored chocolate or butterscotch barks.
 Buying chips gives you more choices. There are many flavors. These include bittersweet, peanut butter, butterscotch, mint chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white and dark swirled chips.
  Chocolate chips or chocolate morsels are small chunks of sweetened chocolate, used as an ingredient in a number of desserts (notably chocolate chip cookies and muffins), in trail mix and less commonly in some breakfast foods such as pancakes. They are often manufactured as teardrop-shaped volumes with flat circular bases; another variety of chocolate chips have the shape of rectangular or square blocks
 Either of these will give you a great way to make that favorite dessert or cookies.
 Because most chocolate chips are designed to retain their shape when baking, they contain less cocoa butter than baking chocolate, and so can be more difficult to work with melted and will set up quicker. You can add a small amount of Crisco to melted chips to help them melt better.

 Check the label on the package of chips, most are Gluten Free and it is really not necessary to buy that bag of Gluten Free Chips I saw at the store at $5.99 a bag.

Peanut Butter Spritz

Here’s a glamorized peanut butter cookie for your holiday cookie tray.    Who doesn’t like peanut butter and chocolate?  If you don’t have a cookie press, don’t throw this recipe away – make plain peanut butter cookies just like Grandma’s.  This is probably the recipe she used, from the red 1963 Betty Crocker Cooky Book.   My brother-in-law, Don, says these are really, really good peanut butter cookies.
I purchased my cookie press, complete with the box and the original book, for $2 from the local church thrift shop.  They had a boxful of cookie presses to choose from.        
                           Peanut Butter Spritz
     ¼       Cup  Shortening -- (1 ½  ounces)
     ¼       Cup  Butter – softened (2 ounces)
     ½       Cup  Peanut Butter (5 ounces)
     ½       Cup  Sugar -- (3 ½  ounces)
     ½       Cup  Brown Sugar -- packed (4 ounces)
  1           Large  Egg
  1 ¼       Cups  Flour, All-purpose -- (6 ounces)
     ½       Teaspoon  Baking Powder
     ¾       Teaspoon  Baking Soda
     ½       Teaspoon  Salt
·         Mix shortening, butter, peanut butter, sugars and egg thoroughly.  Blend all dry ingredients; stir into shortening mixture.  Chill dough 1 hour. (I didn’t think it needed to be chilled before pressing)
·         Heat oven to 375°.  Using cookie press with a star plate; make 2 1/2" fingers.  Bake 8-10 minutes.
·         Cool.  If desired, dip one end in melted chocolate (1 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon shortening), then into 3/4 cup salted chopped peanuts.
** You can simply roll this dough into 1¼“ balls (I use a #60 scoop).  Place 3" apart on lightly greased baking sheet.  Flatten with a fork dipped in flour.  Bake 10-12 minutes.
Yield:  "6 Dozen" Spritz or 3 dozen plain peanut butter cookies.
2019 cost $ 1.53 per recipe (not including chocolate)

Sunday in Iowa...

Monroe County Barn
Monroe county's population is 7,845
It's county seat, Albia, has a population of 3,762

Holiday Leftovers...

Myrna gave me a copy of the 1946 Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book that I treasure; this is a version of this iconic cookbook our mother used.  It is notable because although it is a “red plaid” cookbook, it is surprisingly thin, with only 200 or so pages.  My own first copy of the cookbook is from 1968, and probably weighs twice as much. 
But what really interested me is that this 1940’s version is the only cookbook I’ve seen with an entire chapter devoted to “Leftovers”.   This is pretty relevant during the holidays, when we probably cook too much and have food left that we don’t know what to do with.  Today I’m going to give you some suggestions from our Mom’s cook book, in use during wartime rationing and when the Depression wasn’t such a distant memory.
·         For vegetable leftovers, they suggest pickling them (like beets or beans), or marinating vegetables for salads.   Many vegetables can be added to white sauce and served over rice, pasta or breads. Of course, there are always uses for vegetables in casseroles, stews and soups, and they suggest quiche, although they call it custard.
·         For fruits, there are gelatin salads, sauces for desserts, toppings for puddings and cereals, or in cobblers and crisps or the suggestion that applesauce could be used in cake.
·         For meats, they suggest the usual sandwiches, creamed, in gravy, over dressing, wrapped in biscuit dough and baked, meat pies, a la king, in salads, jellied, in casseroles, etc.
·         Biscuits and muffins could be split, toasted and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.  Bread could be used in Brown Betty, French toast, and bread pudding.  The bread could be cubed for croutons or stuffing, or crumbed for meatloaf or casserole topping.
·         Macaroni and rice can always be added to soups, salads or casseroles, and rice also makes good hot or cold rice pudding.
·         Cake can be cut in strips to line a mold or bowl, pour in Bavarian cream and chill until firm.  Cake can be cubed and folded into whipped cream with chopped holiday cherries and nuts.
·         Cheese makes sauces and can be added to casseroles and souffl├ęs.  Cube for salads.
·         Egg yolks can be used in Hollandaise sauce, cooked salad dressings and noodles.
·         Egg whites make white cakes, meringues, frostings and candy.
·         Sour milk can be used in pancakes, waffles, biscuits, ginger bread, corn bread, cake and cookies.
·         Sour cream is perfect in cake, cookies, gravies and meat dishes (think Stroganoff).
Most lunch meats freeze well too, even braunschweiger and pepperoni.  I wrap them in meal-size amounts in plastic wrap or cheap sandwich bags, and keep them in a larger freezer bag.
Some other ways to keep holiday sale items for later use...
Roasting Turkey for Canning
Home Canning Turkey
Turkey Stock to Can or Freeze
Home Canned Cranberry Sauce
Freezer Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Take an hour or so and go through your holiday leftovers.  Package them in useful sizes for the freezer or can them to use later, or put them on your menu to use quickly.   Make a list of what you put in the freezer to use that quickly too; I also keep them in a separate plastic box so I don't have to search for the leftovers I want to use

Happy Thanksgiving...

Thanksgiving blessings to you and your families    
From our homes to yours  

Myrna and Sue

Cooking with Cocoa...Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

This recipe was on the cover of "Bake Sale Favorites" – I had all the ingredients in the pantry – it was my birthday the day I first made this - we had to try it.  The frosting wasn’t quite enough for frosting the sides, center and top of a layer cake – it certainly could be frosted simply between the layers and on top.  Still plenty of frosting and less caloric too.  I decorated mine with a few chopped nuts.
This is one of the better homemade cake recipes I have tried – moist and chocolaty but not bitter.  It took me 15 minutes from preparing my pan to getting it in the oven.  The method was very simple – I heated my water in the microwave right in a measuring cup.  (Use a 2 cup measure so it doesn't boil over.)
Check your cake at least 5-10 minutes early.  If it has pulled away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean, it’s done.  Over baking makes a drier cake.
Deep Dark Chocolate Cake
  2             Cups  Sugar
  1 3/4      Cups  Flour, All-purpose
     3/4      Cup  Cocoa -- Hershey
  1 1/2      Teaspoons  Baking Powder
  1 1/2      Teaspoons  Baking Soda
  1             Teaspoon  Salt
  2             Large  Eggs
  1             Cup  Milk
     1/2      Cup  Salad Oil
  2             Teaspoons  Vanilla Extract
  1             Cup  Boiling Water
  6             Tablespoons  Butter
  2 2/3      Cups  Powdered Sugar
     1/2      Cup  Cocoa -- Hershey
     1/3      Cup  Milk
  1            Teaspoon  Vanilla Extract
Heat oven to 350°.  Grease and flour two 9" round baking pans.
In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water.  (Batter will be thin.)
Pour batter into prepared pans.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks.  Cool completely. 
For frosting, beat butter.  Blend in powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating well after each addition until smooth and of spreading consistency, blend in vanilla.  Add additional milk, if needed.
If desired, bake in a 13 x 9" pan for 35-40 minutes, cool completely in pan.
10 Servings

Sunday in Iowa...

St. Andrew's Lutheran Church 
on a country two-lane 
Between Kilduff and Sully, Iowa

More Fall Shopping and Restocking...

The Dutchman's Store in Cantril, Iowa
Takes up a whole block  

We just made our Fall shopping trip to Cantril, Iowa to The Dutchman’s, a Mennonite general store whose main customers are locals, Mennonites and Amish neighbors and tourists.  
This isn’t the only similar store in Iowa…Stringtown, north of Kalona and near Iowa City; and another similar store north of Chariton and close to our son and daughter-in-law are some we have visited.  We shop there for the good prices and fast turnover on things like flour that aren't as popular in our local stores.  The quality is invariably good.  
Things I purchased on this trip included “roll” butter (tastes like homemade), non-hydrogenated lard that must be refrigerated or frozen, and some nice pork tenderloins on sale (frozen) for $1.38 a pound!  
I restocked my pantry with whole wheat flour, bread flour and self-rising flour, a 1# bag of instant yeast (that I also freeze) and much cheaper than small packets or jars of yeast elsewhere, bulk bags of Panko bread crumbs, macaroni and noodles, Ultra gel (which I can’t get anywhere else except online), cheddar cheese powder, grits, oatmeal, 7 grain cook-type cereal, and some red lentils and split peas.
I also bought coconut, dates and dried apricots.  I didn’t need any seasonings, but they have shelves of bulk seasonings and herbs at excellent prices that are very fresh and good quality.
We enjoyed the trip through the rural countryside, checking out harvesting progress as we went South.

Clockwise, Top left:  Restocking shelves,  Garden plants in spring, Bagged snacks, Some of the dishes and glassware, Bulk candy   
The Dutchman’s takes up one side of a city block; and is usually very busy.  It opens at 8am so we try to get there close to that time…we never go on Saturdays as they are very busy, and of course, they are closed on Sunday and religious holidays.
Besides all the spices, basic grocery staples, baked goods, dried fruits and vegetables, everything for bread making, etc., and fresh produce they have refrigerators and a meat counter and freezers full of all kinds of meat, fish and poultry products and other frozen items.  Another newer addition to their market is “like home-canned” jams, jellies, pickles and the like at good prices.  Their ads encourage you to bake your own bread, that they have everything you need...true!  It's the only place I can buy some specialty baking items like fresh lard, clear jel, and the like.
They also sell shoes and boots, very basic clothing, have a whole section of fabric and supplies for quilters and sewers, another section with glassware, dishes, fancy clocks and other gifts, and items like kerosene lanterns and supplies and a section of Mennonite and Amish homeschooling books and cookbooks.
In the summer their front porch is full of flower and garden plants for sale.
They have everything home canners could want like bulk commercial canning lids; as well as anyone who processes their own meat;  including commercial-size slicers, grinders, sausage and jerky-making equipment and supplies, etc.
In their housewares section they sell everything from those canners to heavy duty mixers, commercial pans and stockpots, all kinds of baking and bread pans, cast iron cookware, Rada cutlery (my favorite), stoneware, like big crocks and mixing bowls, and all kinds of useful kitchen gadgets.
Most everyone has to stop at the bulk bins of candy before checking out.  It's a fun trip even my husband enjoys!