brown sugar

Apple Crisp

by Nancy on December 13, 2011

in Desserts,Fruit

Fruit crisp is an easy dessert to make but one that I only make when I have fresh fruit. I use any firm fruit that I happen to have available – apples, pears, peaches, or cherries. I usually use apples though so I call it apple crisp. If my fruit is tree ripe and sweet, I don’t add any sugar to the fruit, just a little tapioca to thicken any juice that cooks out. I particularly like this topping because it has oatmeal in it for both the texture and the flavor. I pile the fruit high in the baking dish as it will shrink about half after baking.

Apple Crisp


  • 6 cups peeled and sliced apples
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  1. Toss apples with tapioca and place in 1 1/2 or 2 quart glass or ceramic baking dish.
  2. Mix sugar, flour, oatmeal and cinnamon in bowl.
  3. Cut room temperature butter or margarine into mixture with pastry cutter or fork until crumbly, like pie crust if you make pies.
  4. Pour mixture over apples.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees until apples bubble up around crust, about 45 minutes.


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Butterscotch Pudding

by Nancy on May 31, 2011

in Desserts,Snacks

Butterscotch Pudding differs from my basic Vanilla Pudding by just substituting brown sugar for white sugar.

Butterscotch Pudding

  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. In heavy bottomed 1 1/2 quart saucepan, mix cornstarch, sugar and salt thoroughly.
  2. Add 1/2 cup milk and stir to make a paste.
  3. Add remainder of milk and stir.
  4. Place on medium high heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly especially as the mixture nears the boiling point. Use a spatula so that you scrape the bottom as you stir. The mixture will thicken on the bottom of the pan first and will be lumpy if not stirred well.
  5. Remove from heat when first bubbles from boiling appear.
  6. Stir in vanilla and pour into custard cups or dessert bowls.


Mild Midwest Chili

by Nancy on December 28, 2010

in Main Dish,Soups

Winter holidays were full of family parties and at New Year’s we had two! On New Year’s Eve my parents went square dancing but us kids, my grandparents and my uncles and aunt went up the (gravel) road a whole 1/2 mile for a evening at my Great Aunt Irene’s house. We watched football, played Tripoly and card games, ate all kinds of great tasting, bad for you snacks and welcomed in the New Year watching the Times Square Ball drop on TV with Guy Lombardo singing Auld Lang Syne.

On New Year’s Day, well later the same day, we gathered at my grandparents house for more football, preferably with the Green Bay Packers playing and winning. After huge Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts (and being out late the night before) my grandmother made a couple of simple soups for our meal, chili and oyster stew. Oyster stew was a favorite of my grandfather and I think New Year’s was the only time my grandmother made it because she had to special order the oysters. Oysters were not a common food in the Midwest.

Chili on the other hand was a meal we had frequently. Both my mother and grandmother canned tomatoes in the summer and this was a dish that used them that everyone liked. They mostly canned tomato juice (passing cooked tomatoes through a colander got rid of the seeds and the skins easily) so chili was really a tomato juice based soup. Midwesterners don’t tend to like much heat in their food and the chili was mild. If I remember correctly, my mother used about 1 tsp. of Shillings chili powder mix in 3 quarts of chili. This wasn’t powdered chili, this was a mixture of spices like cinnamon, cloves, and a mild chili powder.

I only grow tomatoes for fresh use in my urban garden so I modified my mom’s recipe to use store-bought canned tomatoes. I make my chili chunkier, more like a stew, by using diced tomatoes instead of tomato juice as a base and leaving the other vegetables chunky. I vary the type of beans that I use. My mother used kidney beans but I sometimes use pinto beans or black beans instead. You could even use garbanzo beans to add a cheesy flavor.  I’ve spiced it up a bit by increasing the amount of sweet spices (cinnamon and cloves) but keep the hotness down by adding only a small amount of hot chili powder. I did grow up in the midwest after all.

Mild Midwest Chili

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3  14 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1  14 ounce can kidney, pinto or black beans
  • 1 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. whole mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes or powdered chili (optional)
  1. Brown ground beef in 4 quart pan.
  2. Add celery, onion and pepper and saute with beef.
  3. Add tomatoes and beans including liquid in cans.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes.


Pecan Pie

by Carrie on November 2, 2010

in Desserts,Pies

Pecan pie is my favorite part of Thanksgiving. Without pecan pie it’s not Thanksgiving. Unfortunately I’m about the only family member who feels that way so for the last couple years I’ve been the one making the pecan pie.

This is a recipe from my aunt Ann Winegarden and she has it credited to a woman named Elizabeth Hartman.

Pecan Pie

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup (light works fine too)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  1. Mix together and beat one minute. I use the wisk beater on the Kitchenaid and it turns a nice light caramel color and froths up.
  2. Pour into an unbaked pie crust. (Use your favorite crust or if you don’t have a favorite try my pie crust.)
  3. Bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes. Check at 40 minutes and cover with foil is the crust is getting too brown.



by Nancy on September 18, 2010

in Breads,Breakfasts,Desserts

Streusel Kuchen

Kuchen is one of my all time favorite foods. It’s like a pan-sized cinnamon roll with the filling on top. It was a specialty of my Grandma Brink. I didn’t start collecting old family recipes until several years after she passed away and I was sure the recipe was lost forever. Then one day my mother asked me if I would like an old church cookbook from my grandmother’s home town that she didn’t want anymore. In it was a recipe for kuchen that had been submitted by Grandma Brink’s best friend! I’m sure they traded the recipe.

But the story has another twist. During the time my kuchen recipe was “lost”, I kept an eye out for other kuchen recipes. I found one I liked in a cookbook called “Amana Colony Recipes”, another of those church cookbooks. This one was based on recipes used in the communal kitchens of the Amana Villages (Iowa). When I compared the two recipes the only difference was that my grandmother’s recipe included an egg. The Amana recipe also had a second version with fruit topping.

I make two versions of kuchen – streusel kuchen most of time but fruit kuchen when the apples on our tree are ripe. The dough is the same for each, only the topping changes.

And one last thing. The original recipes called for 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of water. That milk would have been whole milk. Since I only have lowfat milk in the house, I use all milk.


  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T or 1 package dry yeast
  • 6 T shortening (butter or margarine)
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  1. Place shortening and milk in glass container. I just add the shortening to the measuring cup that I measure the milk in. Microwave milk and shortening for 2 minutes. This heats up the milk so the yeast will grow faster and softens/melts the shortening so it disperses as the dough is kneaded. You should be able to hold your finger in the milk indefinitely or it is too hot and will kill the yeast. Let it cool if it is too hot.
  2. Pour milk and shortening into mixing bowl and add sugar, salt and yeast.
  3. Wait 5 minutes. You should see froth or bubbles forming in the milk. The yeast is starting to grow. If the yeast is not growing, wait 5 more minutes. If it is still not growing, the milk was probably too hot and killed the yeast. If so, add another tablespoon or package of yeast and wait until it starts to grow. This is called proofing the yeast. You are proofing or proving that the yeast will grow.
  4. Add egg and 5 cups of flour. Mix.
  5. If you are using a machine to knead the dough, add more flour until the dough forms a mass around the dough hook and does not stick to the sides of the bowl. If kneading by hand, pour on floured counter and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky, is smooth and begins to “pop back” as you knead it.
  6. Divide dough in half. Place each half in a greased 9″ square pan. Press it out to the edges of the pan with floured fingers.
  7. Add one of the two toppings below.
  8. Let rise until tripled, about 1 hour depending on the temperature of your kitchen. If you are in a hurry or your kitchen is cold, heat oven to lowest temperature possible. Turn oven off, place kuchen in oven and let rise there (remove from oven before heating oven to baking temperature).
  9. Bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes.

Streusel Topping

  • 1/4 cup shortening (at room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  1. Place sugar, flour and cinnamon in bowl and mix together.
  2. Add shortening. Cut into dry mixture with pastry blender or fork.
  3. Sprinkle evenly over kuchen.

Apple Kuchen

Fruit Topping

  • 2 small apples
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnanom
  1. Peel, core and slice apples.
  2. Arrange on top of kuchen.
  3. Sprinkle sugar then cinnamon over apples.

Other fresh or dried fruits can be used such as sliced peaches, dried apricots, sliced rhubarb or pitted cherries.