Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mama F's Strawberry Cake

As with everything in my life, this recipe has a back story. Did was my best friend from the time we were in eighth grade on. Every year she had a slumber birthday party. Every year her mother, Mama F, made this fabulous cake. When BabyGirl asked for a "pink strawberry cake" for her fourth birthday, I could think of nothing better than this cake. I emailed Mama F & begged for her recipe. She gladly sent it to me. Last year, I discovered Did did not even have her mother's recipe. I told her it's because her mother likes me more...but in reality, it's because Did never asked.

You should also know that Mama F was an English teacher & is a published author. If you read this recipe through, you'll see those facts clearly. So with no more ado and without further gilding the lily, I give you Mama F's Strawberry Cake exactly as it was sent to me.

This is out of the section of The James K. Polk Cookbook [the first one] from the recipes sent in by 1st ladies. I'll try to remember and italicize my editorial comments.

Strawberry Cake
1 package yellow or white cake mix
1 package (3 ounces) strawberry gelatin (Jello)
3/4 cup cooking oil (I use 1/2 c oil and 1/4 c water)
1 cup chopped nuts (I don't put these in because I don't want to)
4 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
1 package (10 ounces) frozen strawberries or 1 pint fresh strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar*
Mix all ingredients and beat well; pour into a greased angel food cake pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until done. (Mama F always baked the cake in two 9 inch round pans for a layer cake instead.)
Serve plain or with whipped cream.** Rosalynn Carter
OK, FarmWife, here's how the cake you ate deviates:
*In strawberry season, I freeze strawberries. Specifically, I slice them, mildly fill quart freezer bags with the slices, add 1/4 cup sugar, seal, and let them languish on the counter until they form a little juice- probably no more than 30 minutes. FOR THE CAKE, I thaw a quart of the berries and, with a slotted spoon, scoop out about 10 ounces of them to put in the batter. There will be juice and several slices left. Onward...
**After the two layers are cool, I "ice" the cake with a really big bowl of Cool Whip (or store brand sub) with the remaining strawberry juice and pulp stirred in. The two ingredients will at first vigorously resist being combined, but persevere; it will happen.
Of course, with this icing, the cake will have to be covered and refrigerated and, if your cake holder is like mine, will take up a huge space. I stick toothpicks in the tip and sides so the Saran Wrap doesn't stick to the icing. It's better/moister if it sits a day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lentil Fare for Kork

Okay, Kork, awhile ago you asked for recipes using beans or lentils. I use them all the time, but kept forgetting to post. So now I'm making time to post...a new recipe tried just tonight. So that means it still needs tweaking, yet it's good enough to enjoy as-is now. If you like Indian food, this is a wonderful, flavorful combination of Indian and Iranian food. I scoured the internet for chicken dhansak recipes (my favorite thing to get when we eat at Indian restaurants), finding variety after variety that differed greatly in both ingredients and method. This is the one I am going with until my dream cookbook arrives. It is actually a combination of three different recipes. I made it in the crock pot so that we'd have dinner ready when we got back from a medical appointment in Vancouver, mainly so my hungry self wouldn't beg my husband to take us out for dinner. End result? Who needs to go out when food at home can be this good?

My only must have a good variety of spices in your kitchen. If not, you'll need to build up slowly. I only had to buy a couple, since I've slowly been adding to my collection. I currently use mainly ground spices, but you can use whole ones if you have a mortar and pestle.

Here goes....

1 large yam or sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in small cubes
1 c. red split lentils
1 c. brown or green lentils
1/4 c. split peas
1 T. sunflower oil or any groundnut oil
1 red onion, chopped in small pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced fine
2 T. fresh ginger, minced fine (I buy fresh ginger on sale and store it in a freezer bag in our deep freeze so it's there whenever I need it without necessitating a trip to the grocery)
2 T. Tamarind paste (I had Tamarind preserves from Guadelupe and used that instead)
5-6 dried red chillies (DanPak has some basic red chillies you can easily find.)
1 tsp. Turmeric
2 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Coriander
1/4 tsp. Cloves (ground, or 2 whole cloves otherwise)
2 tsp. Garam Masala
1/2 tsp. Cardamom
1 Cinnamon stick, broken in 2 or 3 pieces
1 tsp. Demerara sugar (a dark brown sugar)
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
2 T. Malt Vinegar (I confess that I used another type since I didn't have that one in my pantry.)
1 small can diced tomatoes in liquid (maybe 1.5 c. size)
3 c. boiling chicken stock
2 T. Cilantro, chopped fresh
Naan Bread

1. In chicken stock, boil green/brown lentils and split peas for a few minutes. (do NOT add the red lentils to this!) Drain the lentils, reserving the stock.

2. Put sweet potato, chicken pieces, split peas and both types of lentils in crock pot and stir well.

3. Heat oil in separate pan and saute onion, garlic, and ginger for a 3 minutes over medium heat. Stir in dried chillies and dried spices and cook another minute.

4. Add sugar, tomatoes with their juices, vinegar, and chicken stock and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Then pour carefully over chicken mixture in crock pot.

5. Stir; cover; and cook on low 6-7 hours. At the 6 hour mark, check liquid level. You will most likely have a thick mixture and will want to add about 2 cups of water and cook a few minutes longer. You want to have a slightly soupy mixture for the Naan bread to having something to soak up. The reason you don't add the water at the beginning is because it is easier to achieve a desired consistency by adding more water than trying to deal with something that is too soupy from the beginning.

6. Ladle into a large serving bowl, taking care to scoop out cinnamon pieces (which will have uncurled into woody rectangles) and red chillies. Sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro on top. Serve over rice with Naan bread on the side. (We cheated and bought rice when we picked up hot Naan bread and Samosas at the local Indian cafe on the way home, but normally we'd use brown Basmati rice.)

*We found this not too spicy at all for our toddler. The flavors will intensify the following day and meld even more. This served two, plus leftovers for both of us to have lunch, and enough to freeze a dinner's worth when we have Indian night with friends in a couple of weeks. If you want to adjust the heat of the spice more, you could add green chillies, or 1/4-1/2 tsp. of hot chili powder.