March 07, 2009

A Pinch of This and a Dash of That Naomi Heninger was a good cook. That's what it says in a history written by her granddaughter. And I believe it. Especially when I read how hard she had to work to put on a good meal. These days, you can make a gourmet meal with all the fixings and hardly do any work, thanks to Costco and pre-made everything.... And if you throw away the box, everybody will think you made it yourself! But it wasn't that way for Naomi. Back in the early 1900's, everything was homemade. Naomi cooked on a coal stove and baked in a coal oven. When someone asked her for a recipe, she would say, "I put a dash of this and a pinch of that - a handful of flour - a cap of vanilla - a sprinkle of nutmeg." Vanilla was her favorite flavoring, and nutmeg her favorite spice. She was well-known for her yummy pies - no one could make them quite as good. She always made her pie crusts from lard that she rendered herself. Okay, wait a minute...what in the world is rendered lard? I looked it up online and the Homesick Texan has a great explanation of what it is and how to make it yourself. Basically, you take pig fat and cook all the bits of meat out of it, then strain it and save the fat to use in cooking. Hmmm...I just use Crisco out of a can. Anyway, Naomi's apple pies were the best. She used Asterkin apples if they were available, and if not, she used her own bottled apples. (Yes, every year she bottled hundreds of quarts of fruit.) For the pie, she sliced the apples thin, dotted them with butter, some sugar, and always nutmeg that she would grind herself. Grind herself? I just get it out of a bottle... When Naomi called one of the children to bring a cup of cold water from the pump (FROM THE PUMP!), they knew their daddy was hungry for pies . It took several pies to go around, and they could each have one piece - there were ten children after all. She made custard pies (always flavored with nutmeg, and a little lemon extract); mincemeat pies (made from scratch); and squash pies (prepared from a squash, not a can!) Naomi made a couple of delicious desserts that were everybody's favorite. One was called Lumpy Dick. Apparently, a lumpy dick is a simple boiled pudding. The Big Oven says that you take boiling water, add white flour and stir until it is the consistency of lumpy mush, add a pinch of salt, then serve warm or cold with milk and sugar. Another was Dead Pig Pudding. Really. When Naomi made suet pudding, she put it in muslin and tied each end in a double knot. It resembled a dead pig with its feet in the air. So it was called Dead Pig Pudding. And suet pudding? Well, suet is actually raw beef or mutton...

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