Who can find a worthy woman? For her price is far above rubies.......She looks well to the ways of her household. Proverbs 31:10-27
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Make It Yourself...Handgeschabt Spätzle

Spätzle are soft, batter-type noodles, very easy to make.  There is no rolling and drying involved.  I make hand scraped spätzle, which are literally scraped off a cutting board or flat plate into the boiling water.  You can also use a spätzle maker, if you wish.  This, however, is an easy method I learned from our grandmother.   About 50¢ worth of ingredients for 4 servings, and you can prepare them in less than 20 minutes.     The nutmeg is authentic and makes them perfect!   Delicious with roasts with gravy.          
Handgeschabt Spätzle
  1             cup  flour, all-purpose
     2/3      teaspoon  salt
  2             dashes  ground nutmeg
  2             large  eggs -- lightly beaten
  2             tablespoons  milk -- or more if needed

  1. Heat a large pot of water, covered, until boiling.
  2. Combine the flour, nutmeg and salt in a mixing bowl.  Combine the egg and milk and add to the flour mixture.  Beat for several minutes until the batter is smooth and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  (You can't beat it too much.) Let rest 10 minutes and beat again.  The dough should be a lot thicker than pancake batter but not as much as bread dough, don’t add more milk or flour to adjust the thickness until the dough has rested, by then, it usually is just right.
  3. Scrape the batter onto a spätzle board or a flat plate that has been sprayed with non-stick spray or moistened with water.  Smooth the batter across the board to an even thickness.  Cut the noodles off in about 1/8-1/4" widths into the boiling water.  (You can dip your scraper in the water occasionally).  Stir the pot so the noodles don't stick to the bottom.  They will rise to the top.  Cook only enough noodles to cover surface of water. Do not over crowd. Cook an additional 3-5 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon. Repeat until all dough is cooked. Drain well and set aside.
  4. Melt butter in a medium sized sauté pan. Sauté the spätzle until heated through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and serve immediately, or hold hot for service.
4 Servings
Tools Needed:  Large pot for water, lightweight cutting board, about 9x12” or a flat dinner plate, a long metal spatula or large dinner knife, bowl and mixing spoon for batter, small bowl and whisk for beating egg, colander for draining.

Per Serving: 156 Calories; 3g Fat (18.3% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 107mg Cholesterol; 395mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1/2 Fat.

Chicken and Rice Soup

Myrna found a good cookbook, called   "Cooking from the Cupboard" at the local book sale and bought it for me.  It wasn’t quite what I expected, the author isn’t into self-sufficiency, or even a necessarily economical cook, she just wants quick, very good meals without takeout, thawing, or much fuss either.  She has a syndicated column, “Cook It Light” with 30 million readers each week.  I figured any gal who thinks an assortment of wines to cook with is essential in her pantry can’t do too much wrong.
Here’s one of the recipes I tried this week…Unlike the author, I used my own home-canned chicken and broth.   Any chicken soup depends on the quality of the broth, and I used some where I had roasted the chicken bones and vegetables before cooking and canning the broth. 
We liked the fact that I didn’t have to thaw anything, and I always have these ingredients in MY pantry.  We had a delicious lunch with a half sandwich on homemade bread and a salad with homemade salad dressing.    We enjoyed fruit for dessert.          

                          Chicken and Rice Soup
4             ounces  Canned Mushrooms
  28           Ounces  Chicken Broth
  9 3/4      ounces  Canned Chicken -- undrained
     1/2      cup  Rice -- uncooked
     1/4      teaspoon  Celery Seeds
  2             tablespoons  Sherry -- or Madeira wine
In a large saucepan, bring the broth and liquid from the chicken and mushrooms to a boil over medium heat.  Add the rice and celery seeds; cover and cook 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes.
Break the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the saucepan.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 more minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the wine.
4 Servings (about a cup each)

Per Serving: 225 Calories; 7g Fat (28.8% calories from fat); 21g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 43mg Cholesterol; 1142mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fat.

Toasted Ravioli

Here’s a really easy appetizer or snack…and because I’m always looking for ways to use egg whites from making cooked salad dressing, I now have one more recipe to use.  I had some spinach and some plain cheese ravioli; I think the cheese ones toasted up better.   We actually used some of these as our light lunch with a nice tossed salad and fruit for dessert.  Delicious.               
                             Toasted Ravioli
  9          Ounces  Refrigerated Cheese Ravioli
     ½      Cup  Dry Bread Crumbs
     ¼      Cup  Grated Parmesan Cheese
  1          Teaspoon  Dried Basil
  1          Teaspoon  Dried Oregano
     ¼      Teaspoon  Black Pepper
  2          Large  Egg Whites
              Prepared Spaghetti Sauce or Salsa
Cook ravioli according to package directions.  Rinse under cold running water until cool; drain well.
Preheat oven to 375°.  Combine bread crumbs, cheese, basil, oregano and pepper in medium bowl.
Beat egg whites lightly in shallow dish.  Add ravioli; toss lightly to coat.  Transfer, a few at a time, to bread crumb mixture; toss to coat evenly.
Arrange in single layer on greased or parchment lined baking sheet.  Spray tops of ravioli with baking spray or olive oil.
Bake 12-14 minutes until crisp.  Serve with pasta sauce or salsa.

  "Incredibly easy Vegetarian"

Sunday in Iowa...

We like this checkerboard water tower, built last year or so, just north of Fremont, Iowa
population 741

Family Favorites...Beef with Mushrooms and Pea Pods

Another delicious stir fry – one of our favorite meals.  This one doesn’t use purchased sauces for flavor – it has plenty from the beef.  I like my big “everyday” pan for dishes like this one.  Start cooking your rice first.  I had a few pea pods, water chestnuts and mushrooms left – they were delicious stir fried with some fresh broccoli for a side dish the next day. 
When you buy sherry, go to the liquor shelves – don’t buy “cooking sherry” which is salty and briny tasting.  A $5-$10 bottle of sherry adds a lot of flavor to many chicken, seafood and beef dishes and keeps for a long time.
Beef with Mushrooms and Pea Pods
     ¼     Cup  Vegetable Oil
  1         Pound  Beef Sirloin -- 2 x 1/2 x 1/4" strips
  8         Ounces  Fresh Mushroom -- quartered
  1         Medium  Onion -- cut in 8 wedges
  2        Tablespoons  Cornstarch
  2        Tablespoons  Water
     ¾     Cup  Water or good beef broth
     ¼     Cup  Sherry -- or water
     ¾     Teaspoon  Beef Base (Try "Better than Bouillon" for gluten-free)
  8         Ounces  Water Chestnuts -- sliced, drained
  6         Ounces  Pea Pods -- fresh or frozen
     ½     Teaspoon  Salt
     ¼     Teaspoon  Pepper
     ¼     Teaspoon  Ginger
             Cooked Rice
In 10 inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat (1-2 minutes).  Stir in sirloin strips.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned (6-8 minutes).  Remove meat; set aside.
In same skillet heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat (1-2 minutes).  Stir in mushrooms and onion.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until tender (3-4 minutes).
In small bowl, stir together cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water.  Add 3/4 cup water, sherry and beef base to mushrooms and onion; stir in cornstarch mixture.  Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil (4-6 minutes); boil 1 minute.
Add remaining ingredients except rice.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until pea pods are crisply tender (3-5 minutes).
Serve over rice.
6 Servings
  "Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Heritage Meals & Menus"
Per Serving: 288 Calories; 20g Fat (65.2% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 48mg Cholesterol; 221mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 2 Lean Meats; 1 Vegetable; 2 1/2 Fat.

Seeded Crackers

 I seem to be making crackers this year. Another recipe I tried was from Fine Cooking for Seed Crackers. I find their recipes to be accurate as to ingredients and timing and with a little different twist to them. These were very good and the addition of Caraway seeds really made them. Easy to do, really not a lot more work than making rolled cookies. The directions look more difficult than they really are, follow them and you will have great crisp seeded crackers much more cheaply than the store bought ones, and fresh and crunchy.
Three Seed Crackers
Yield about 3 ½ dozen crackers          
1 TBS sesame seeds
2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp fennel or caraway seeds
¾ tsp kosher salt
6 ¾ oz. (1 ½ cups) all purpose flour
2 oz. (scant ½ cup) whole wheat flour
1 tsp table salt
3 TBS olive or vegetable oil
½ cup water
 Dough may be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen up to a month, thaw 2 hours at room temperature. 
Position rack in lowest third of oven and heat to 450°F. 
Make topping: In a small bowl, stir the seeds together. Fill another small bowl with water and set aside along with a pastry brush and kosher salt.
Make Dough: In large bowl, whisk the two flours and table salt together. Add the oil and ½ cup water to the flour; stir until it collects into a soft crumbly ball of dough. Using your hands press the dough against sides of the bowl to gather all the stray flour.
 Set the dough on a lightly floured board and portion it into thirds. Set two squares aside and cover with a clean towel. Roll remaining dough into a rectangle about 1/16 thick, 7 or 8 inches wide by 14 to 15 inches long. Sprinkle flour under dough while rolling to keep it from sticking. Brush dough lightly with water, sprinkle ⅓ of the seed mix evenly over dough. Cut into rectangles about 2 x 4 inches. Transfer to an unlined baking sheet. Bake until nicely browned about 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. 
Repeat with remaining 2 portions of dough. 
 Store cooled crackers in a zip top bag for up to one week.
*The thinner the dough the snappier the crackers
*Don’t worry about trimming outer edges of the dough rectangle, rustic looks good.

Make It Yourself...Homemade Lard Noodles with Chicken

Click on photo to enlarge
We never went to my in-laws for dinner that we didn’t have homemade noodles, either with chicken or beef, served on mashed potatoes.  I have also eaten it frequently at gatherings of different kinds, and our kids had it in school.  It’s apparently an Iowa thing. 
If you like these thick, chewy but light noodles in gravy, here’s the recipe that’s our favorite.  My sister-in-law, Bonnie, says her mother made noodles with baking powder too, and they are lighter.   They are far superior to purchased frozen homemade-style noodles, and a lot cheaper too.
The recipe looks complicated, but it’s easy, and really only takes some waiting time while the noodles dry.  Much easier than making pie crust, for instance, certainly more forgiving.  They are actually easy to make by hand; I give both methods, in a mixer or by hand.  The day I took these photos, I made them by hand for lunch right after breakfast so they would dry some before cooking.         
I use home canned chicken and broth, many of our acquaintances use purchased canned chicken, but it’s more salty.  Or use easy poached chicken.  
They must be served with homemade mashed potatoes – it isn’t the same without them!  I usually cook a quarter pound of potatoes per serving or 2-2 ½ pounds for this recipe.

Homemade Noodles with Chicken

  3         large  Eggs
  1         tablespoon  Water
  1         tablespoon Milk
     ½     teaspoon  Salt
  1         tablespoon  Lard -- melted and cooled
  9         ounces  Flour, All-purpose -- 2-2 1/4 cups
  1         teaspoon  Baking Powder -- scant
                        Chicken Mixture
  2        quarts Chicken Broth
  1/3    cup Flour, All-purpose
  1 ½-2 cups  Cooked Chicken – large dice
  1         teaspoon  Parsley -- and or thyme
  1. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, water and milk.  With an electric mixer, beat well on medium speed for 1 minute.  Add the salt and lard; beat well.
  2. Combine the flour and baking powder.  Add gradually to the egg mixture, beating on low speed.  Add up to 1/4 cup more flour if needed, to make a stiff dough.
  3. Knead with a dough hook or by hand until it forms a ball.  Let the dough rest, covered, 10-20 minutes.
  4. On a floured board, roll out the dough as thinly as possible.  Roll up and slice into 1/4" slices.  Shake out noodles on lightly floured board.  Save the flour for your soup.  Let the noodles dry 2 hours.
  5. To make soup, place the broth in a stockpot and bring to a boil.   Whisk in the flour to thicken.  Add the chicken and noodles, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 30-35 minutes until noodles are tender and broth is thickened.  Stir in the herbs and serve immediately.

To mix by hand:
  1. Combine eggs, water and milk, add the salt and lard, beat well.  (A whisk or hand beater works well.)
  2. Combine the flour and baking powder.  Add gradually to the egg mixture to make a stiff dough. 
  3.  Knead by hand on a well-floured board until it forms a firm ball that is slightly tacky but doesn't stick to your hands. Cut it in half; any air holes should be small.  If they are over 1/8", continue to knead. The ball will be stiff, don’t worry, and let dough rest, covered, 10-20 minutes.
  4. Continue with recipe on step 4 above.

To freeze extra uncooked noodles:
I lay the noodles out on a cookie sheet on parchment paper or waxed paper and freeze them flat.  Then transfer to a freezer bag or container.  Cook the noodles from frozen, adding 5-10 minutes.
"1 Pound of noodles"
6-8 Servings

Cost:  The noodles cost me about 63¢ for 1 pound of dough when eggs were $1.50 a dozen.  Compare to frozen noodles for cost; the same day, Reames Frozen noodles cost $3.85 a pound.

Graham Crackers

 After seeing some recipes on the internet for Graham
Crackers, I thought I might try some. The cheese crackers I had made were very good, so this would be another attempt at crackers.
  Most of the recipes I was looking at did not call for graham flour which I felt was strange so instead I went to my cookbooks to look for a recipe. The Fannie Farmer Baking cookbook had a recipe with illustrations that looked easy to follow. However, I did not have much luck turning the large piece of dough they were saying to use, so I cut the crackers in a two square section and that worked well. They were good tasting and crisp. Turning them over during baking I think is the key to having crisp crackers. I do think they needed some molasses added instead of so much honey so will try that the next time I make them. Save and bake the scraps of dough and you can crush them for graham cracker crumbs. 
  As the rest said, you can buy these at the store but they were fun to make and not much harder than making rolled cookies.
 Graham Crackers
4 tablespoons (½ stick or ¼ cup) butter softened
1 egg well beaten
6 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons water 
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups graham flour
¾ cup all purpose flour
 Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine the butter, egg, and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy. Stir in the honey and blend. Dissolve the baking soda in the water and add to the butter mixture and blend thoroughly. 
 Add the salt, graham flour and all purpose flour to the mixture and blend well. The dough should hold together and be manageable. If it is too tacky add a little graham flour.
 Divide the dough into three sections and dust a surface with graham flour and roll the dough to about ⅛ inch thick. Keep the sections you are not working with covered with wax paper, or plastic wrap. With a knife, score the dough without cutting through into 2 ½ inch squares. Prick each square a few times with the tines of a fork. Cut into two square pieces and using a spatula, place sections on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake on the first side for 8 minutes, then turn the crackers over and bake for another 6 to 7 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Cinnamon Graham Crackers: Sub 4 tablespoons sugar for the honey and add 1 teaspoon cinnamon