About This Project

My Aunt Carol (Giampa) was a life long cook and the holder of my family's culinary traditions. When she passed, her recipe collection came to me. Having learned many of my cooking skills from her and forging traditions of my own, I am honored and challenged to explore the many recipes of her mother and aunts that never made it into my repertoire. Many of these recipes are desserts. This project is an attempt to both memorialize Aunt Carol (or Jumpy as she was known to most others) and explore/test/review these old family recipes. Join me?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Neighbors Good and Creepy

Side tracked! I never reported on the Good Neighbor Loaf! (As growing season starts to emerge we're likely to have fewer posts in general, but I aim to keep moving through the pile, acres of weeds or not! HA.)

This was another quick bread I guess: mix it all up, bake, slice. Loaf. Says so right in the name. I chose it while Glynnis was here, since she's a good neighbor. We were intrigued by the Brazil nuts. I promised to bring some by when I made it.

Nothing extraordinary about the recipe or method, I felt pretty confident. Found the Brazil nuts in the Wegman's bulk section, which was nice. Lots of orange, very zesty! But... meh! The nuts and the orange were weird together. It wasn't anything special... I imagine it was a good loaf to have tucked away in waxed paper if your neighbor came by and you'd like to have something to offer. It kept well, which was good since it hung around for a while, even after sharing it.

I took the biggest hunk to Glynnis. It was on the way to church though, fairly early for a Sunday morning, and I didn't want to disturb. I was going to leave it by the door but couldn't find an adequate surface for it. (For the very best baked goods karma, always have a small table outside your door.) Then the cat said hey, let me in! and pointed at the door, forcing me to notice that I could. So I nudged the door open a little bit more, took 2 steps inside the house and left LOAF on her table. I don't have her number, so I couldn't even just text her to say yo, that was the Good Neighbor loaf, not some creepy neighbor loaf. We didn't hear from her either so I assume all is well. Then again, I also left loaf at Darcey's and didn't get any special calls to say how good it was, so maybe it was the loaf.

No one will ever know if the Harvey Wallbanger cake keeps well. It's a party animal. The yellow bundtiness is so suave. You're excited, aren't you, thinking about this cake right now. The Good Neighbor is just a nice slice of loaf to share unobtrusively with a friend. It's not flashy but something you can always appreciate having around.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Good Neighbor Loaf

At first I thought this would be that sweet bread you have to leave on your counter for a week squishing the mother dough and then splitting and giving part of it to you friends? Isn't that called a neighbor loaf? friendship bread? No? I'm making it all up? Ok!

In any case, another quick bread/loaf. The Brazil nuts are intriguing. The instructions say to wrap in waxed paper and store... no eating, just storing! In the kitchen remodeling I've put my sifter someplace very smart and can't find it, so I've been using a small sieve. Works fine and now I'm not sure I need a sifter anymore.

I feel like I should recognize the handwriting on this card... I sorta want to think of my grandfather's, but I'm sure it's not his. Handwriting of a certain era always looks similar, so maybe it was one of his sisters? The name at the top, Anna, could be who wrote it, or who the recipe was for, I don't know. My mother's name is Anna but I think her mom's name was just Ann? Now I'm not sure about that. In any case, Anna, this loaf is for you!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Harvey, the reflection

When we first realized how much the bottle of Galliano was going to cost, Mander and I tried to think of other options. I thought of Craigslist and then thought better of it. The local food preservation/canning dork club was a better chance, at least we all know other, sorta. But Mander’s idea is the one that caught fire and became the official plan B, right behind just asking to order a smaller bottle, which is what we ended up doing. Which is almost a shame because the image of us madly searching for a bar with Galliano at all and then trying to discretely squirrel pee-yellow liquor into a Tupperware in my purse makes me cackle with glee. Ahh, to be young and silly.

I’m actually much more likely to do this the older I get.

Speaking of young and silly, I mentioned Harvey to my friend Ina, who told me a funny story about her daughter, when Caryn was about 5 and on a cross country trip with her other mom. Caryn and Carol had enough time before flights to grab a drink in the lounge. Ina reminds me that this was back when you could take kids into a bar!

They’re looking at the drink menu and Caryn complains that there’s no Harvey Wallbanger on it. I’m sure Carol was at least a little taken aback and asked why and Caryn said she just wanted one. So they got a Coke and a Wallbanger and split them and made the rest of their trip just fine. Hahah! No kids in bars indeed, they’ll drink up your Wallbanger!

We don’t go out to bars or lounges often and not with the kids so far, but I never know what to order if I don’t just want a glass of wine. Eric and Darcey are the friends most likely to hear me complain about this, since it’s usually with them we go out, so I brought the Galliano over to their place to give it the ole taste test. I’m not going to put it in a cake if it’s gross!

Floating a shot of Galliano on top is what takes a Screwdriver to a Harvey Wallbanger. The cocktail wants a maraschino cherry too, but I didn’t have any, so we skipped it. I made up for that by buying the big jar when I made the cake. Instead we just perched a half orange slice on the lip of our tall boys and boy did that look festive! I, for one, felt tres elegante and would get one in a lounge if I could. Now we know!

After tasting the cocktail and agreeing that expensive liquor may indeed be added to a boxed cake mix, I made the cake. This time I was super perfectionnoyed about greasing the pan, the Bundt Pan. Greased it, floured it, followed the batter recipe and everything. I almost forgot it was baking and was upstairs where I can’t hear the timer go off, but all was saved just in time and the cake came out of the pan beautifully! Success! The glaze on the other hand. Whoops. I forgot to MELT the butter before adding the sugar, instead trying to cream confectioner’s sugar and soft butter. Did not work! MELT the butter!

Because it was so good I had to get rid of it. I sent some to Eric and Darcey, who along with their son shouting praise in the background, EACH contacted me about how much they loved it. I felt bad only sending them 1 big fat slice for sharing and sending about 3 times that to work with Mander. Hey! They’re on a diet challenge right now, I thought I was being kind! Work was a good place for it though now we have hints about trying to recreate the cakes of her manager’s grandmother.

Our friend and neighbor Glynis stopped by last night and I was telling her about the blog. Mander whipped out the phone picture she had of Harvey and Glynis made involuntary yummy noises just looking at it. I said, it’s so sunny and 70s, doesn’t it just make you HAPPY? She agreed and then told us about her grandmother’s pineapple upsidedown cake. While she was here we chose the next recipe: The Good Neighbor Loaf.

Mmm, loaf!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Harvey, the review

This cake is astounding. It's no secret, it's out there on the internet, and it's the epitome of easy-bake style. I love this cake. A box of cake mix and a box of pudding will never do you wrong. Add some liquor and the bright and sunny 60s palette with the bundt pan and the cherries: glorious.
I had to make myself give it away, sending half to work with Mander and taking about a quarter to friends. Everyone who's tried it LOVES it. I wonder if it's the liquor!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Applesauce Cake

Ah well, another recipe another lesson learned.

The recipe called for a "tube pan" and not having my aunt to call and ask what the hell that is and arriving at no general consensus among those I DID ask, I used a loaf pan and a half round (half a tube?) When I pulled them out of the oven they looked good but I think I rushed getting them out of the pans. The loaf just completely fell apart. Then I did a stupid thing and tried to even the bottom of the half round since it was all funky. Should have waited for it to cool if I was going to do that... I think they both should have cooled completely in their pans before trying to tip them out. Whoops. So that one came out all funky and flopped about a bit before I just folded it in half (now a full round!) and stuck it in the freezer. I think when I'm ready to deal with it I'll put a whipped frosted in between for a sort of pumpkin roll/whoopie pie action. The "loaf" we ate up in handfuls.

The cake itself was super tasty, very moist and easy to press into cakeballs for consumption. I imagine if it had been allowed to cool it would have sliced up with no trouble. It was tasty enough I would try it again and find out.

As much as I hate too-specific instructions in general recipes, the lack of specifics for baking is maddening. And funny. :D

Next up: Harvey and the cake he'll make! I have the Galliano and I have tasted the cocktail, now we will have cake. Dude help me, I think this one wants a bundt pan. Shortening and flour for decent removal? Any other suggestions to avoid pile o crumbs?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Grandmother's Applesauce Cake

This is the original but my aunt's polished copy was the same and this has so much character how could I resist? The note on Aunt Carol's copy said "Margaret's grandmother, 1886." Margaret was a friend of my aunt's whom she loved very much. I think they were each other's adopted mother and daughter.