Sunday in Iowa...

 The detail of the marble  stairs to the rotunda
in the Mahaska County Courthouse, Iowa  
As I sat waiting in the rotunda of this beautiful old courthouse, I wanted to share the workmanship of the stair railings, and these portraits of Lincoln and Washington hang across from each other in the rotunda.  Notice a glimpse of the American flag in the mirror under Washington's portrait.  In this rural county, America and the 4th of July are alive and well.

The present 3 story brick courthouse was built in the Romanesque Revival style on part of the Oskaloosa public park. It was built at a cost of $132,000 and was dedicated in 1886.  It has been carefully maintained over the years.  The original frame courthouse was built in 1844-1846.

Happy 4th!

Remembering the 4th of July 
the way it used to be...   
Small Iowa towns around here, including Pella and Sully, have had parades on the fourth with everything from "a lawn chair marching drill team" where they clack their folding lawn chairs to the beat, to huge new combines and decorated semi trucks and trailers and kids on patriotically decorated bicycles.  

Cake Flour... Whipped-cream Vanilla Cupcakes

 Like Myrna, I have had a hard time finding a homemade white cake that tastes as good as many cake mixes.  Cake mix manufacturers use emulsifiers and other ingredients that aren’t available to the home cook to make their cakes light.  This recipe from "The Fannie Farmer Baking Book" makes a cake that I think is comparable to a good cake mix – light and with a very good flavor and fine texture.  It sounds rich until you realize that the cream is the only fat in the recipe and that there are no egg yolks either.  They are only around 100 calories each.
 It sounds like more work than it actually is – it goes together very quickly and bakes in 15 minutes.  Don’t overbake.  I use paper baking cups for these. (The one tablespoon of vanilla is correct!).
 Whipped-cream Vanilla Cupcakes
  2        Cups  Cake Flour
  1        Cup  Sugar
  1        Tablespoon  Baking Powder
     ½   Teaspoon  Salt
  3        Large  Egg Whites -- about 1/2 cup
  1        Cup  Heavy Cream
     ½   Cup  Water
  1        Tablespoon  Vanilla Extract                      
1.      Preheat the oven to 350°.  Grease the muffin pans, line them with fluted paper baking cups or spray them with non-stick coating.
2.      Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and sift them together onto a large piece of waxed paper.  Set aside.
3.      In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff but moist, and stand in peaks that droop just slightly when the beater is lifted.
4.      Proceed immediately to the cream; pour it into another mixing bowl and beat until it forms stiff peaks.  Fold the whipped cream and beaten egg whites together jut until blended.  Stir the water and vanilla together and add to the egg-white-cream mixture, stirring just to blend.
5.      Sprinkle on the flour mixture gradually, 1/3 at a time, and turn on the mixer on LOW speed just until no drifts of unblended flour remain.  Repeat with the remaining 2 portions for flour mixture, scraping around the edges with a rubber spatula.
6.      Spoon the batter lightly into the prepared pans, filling each cup half full.
7.      Bake about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool a moment, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
Frost with your favorite frosting.  These freeze beautifully.
24 Cupcakes

Per Serving: 103 Calories; 4g Fat (32.6% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 14mg Cholesterol; 116mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

Small Recipes...Creamy Green Bean Casserole

The day I planned to prepare this dish was a busy one, and I didn’t know if I wanted to bother with making a sauce on the stovetop and then wait while it baked.  I did want to use the sour cream left from making a sour cream cake though, so I read through the recipe again and realized I didn’t have to make the sauce separately!  So we enjoyed this with ham steak and fruit for dessert.  Double this and bake in a 1 1/2 quart casserole for 6 servings.
            Creamy Green Bean Casserole
  1         can  cut green beans – drained (14 ½ oz)
     ½     cup  sour cream
  1         tablespoon  flour, all-purpose
     ¼     teaspoon  salt
  2        tablespoons  milk
  1         tablespoon  grated onion
  2        tablespoons  dry bread crumbs (or Panko)
  1         tablespoon  butter -- melted
Preheat oven to 350°.
Drain beans.  Mix sour cream, flour, and salt; stir in milk, onion and beans.
Pour into 3 cup casserole.  Combine bread crumbs and butter.  Sprinkle over beans.
Bake, uncovered about 30 minutes or until bread crumbs are brown.
3 Servings
 “Betty Crocker’s Old Fashioned Cookbook 1990”

Sunday in Iowa...

A cool oasis on a hot summer day. 
Wapsipinicon State Park, 
located south of Anamosa, Iowa. The 394-acre park is along the sandstone and limestone bluffs of the Wapsipinicon River. 

Saturday thoughts...Food Waste

 Using and not wasting food is one thing both of us try to do. We learned at an early age that you didn’t toss away good food but ate it as leftovers or used it in a different way in a different meal.  Now day’s, with Stores having some problems stocking and finances tight it is even more important. 
 This is often a problem when you are cooking for just one. I find that I have problems with making myself believe 1 ounce of pasta is enough for one person but using left over pasta is not a problem.
 Potatoes are one of my favorites and getting smaller sized baking potatoes right now is a problem. A peeled, raw potato doesn’t keep well so I bake a larger one and make two meals from it. Half of the potato to eat for a meal and the other half I put in a plastic zip lock bag and later in the week it gets sliced and fried in butter for a second meal. Often if I am fixing potatoes that have to be cooked I will add an extra potato to have one on hand for salad or just to reheat. Makes for an easy supper and saves me the time to bake or boil one.
 I am sure many of our readers have ways to use up leftovers (planned or not) this is just one way I can help my budget and I will eat a better meal if I can just pull something from the fridge that is already half fixed. Check your fridge and shelves to see what you can make.

Cake Flour...Orange Buttermilk Cupcakes

I found this recipe online from Taste of Home 2009. As I had buttermilk and a orange to use up, I decided to try it. Everyone thought they were good, stayed moist, the texture is good and they are fairly simple to make. A good way to use up that last orange lingering in your refrigerator. If you don't have any buttermilk sour some milk. 

12 to 16 Servings Prep: 20 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 egg
1 egg white
2 tablespoons plus 2-1/2 teaspoons orange juice, divided
1-1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, sugar and orange
peel. Beat in the egg, egg white and 2 tablespoons orange juice.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger;
gradually add to the butter mixture alternately with buttermilk,
beating well after each addition. Start and end with flour.
Coat muffin cups with cooking spray or use paper liners; fill
three-fourths full with batter. 
Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes
or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to0 cool.
In a small bowl combine confectioners' sugar and remaining orange
juice. Frost cupcakes. 

Small Batch Cooking...Serves One Cookbook Review

Look at before buying
 I hate to give any book a bad review, but the cookbook Serves One is one I wasted money on. Even used it was not worth what I spent on it and not at all what I thought I was buying. Cooking for one is what I wanted as I have many other cookbooks and there are very few recipes that are listed for one serving. 
 The vast majority are for three to four servings and then the recipes are not what I would fix anyway. I haven't figured out why you would include that size recipe in a cookbook for one.
 Maybe if you live in New York or another large city you might like this but many of the ingredients are either not available here in the MidWest or, if they are they, are costly and I hate to buy something I am only going to use once and end up throwing the rest away.  Sue's comment was "Nothing in here I would make...mostly because I couldn't find the ingredients".
 The forward is scanty and there are very few tips on buying or stocking a pantry for one as there is in the others I have looked at and bought. This just all round is, I feel, a waste of time and money. At the very least try to look at a copy before you purchase it.