Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind as to what sort of weather we are supposed to have! The mornings are relatively cold with the temperature in the 30s and 40s and by lunchtime we have almost summertime temperatures. This morning, (Saturday), my thermometer shows 30ºF and on TV they are showing San Antonio at 34º. Of course, on this nice cold morning, the stock shows are beginning in our area and the kids are showing animals this morning and judging later today. I think I’ll stay inside this morning, thank you!
My week was a combination of busy and not quite so busy. After a weekend of company, finishing up Christmas with my family and a friend spending the afternoon on Sunday, Friday was the day of our Annual Awards Banquet for our Hospital Auxiliary and the work that goes into it. The weather was great and very cooperative and we had a total of about 45 members and guests. As awards chairman, it is my job to get this together. A lot of things are done ahead of time, but there is a certain amount that is done on that day. Luckily, I had a great team that tended to the decorating of the tables and things of that type. The meal is catered by a restaurant from a neighboring town and we always have great food. They clean up behind themselves and then members take care of everything else. Lots of hands make short work of leaving the hall the way we found it!
The only really big glitch that occurred was when I got to the hospital to check about my speaker of the day, only to find out that she was ill and unable to be with us! Talk about cold water in your face at 9:15 the morning of the banquet! Luckily, since the hospital is always totally involved in this, they already had the director of her department lined up to take her place. It all goes back to the old adage…the best laid plans of mice and men, etc.
This banquet is something that the hospital does for its Pink Lady volunteers each year; we do the planning, purchase gift cards for the MC, the speaker, the minister where we have the banquet and the CEO. Also gift cards are purchased to use as door prizes, and the hospital picks up the tab. Our CEO attends, as do other staff members who are also Auxiliary members. Our CEO (or in some years, someone to represent her) installs our officers and announces who receives the plaque of “Pink Lady of the Year”, and this year received a check from us for 15K toward the purchase of a new 3D digital mammography machine! All the money we make in our gift shop, from drawings, bake sales, etc., benefits the hospital. It is unusual for us to be able to donate this amount, but we had a good year and were able to do this as a one-time donation, rather than several smaller donations over a period of time.
Always remember to use nested measuring cups for dry ingredients and a glass or plastic cup with a pouring spout for liquid ingredients. The recipes for dry ingredients are frequently given in teaspoons and tablespoons as well as cup measurements. Liquid ingredients are frequently given in ounces.
The word “cup” is most generally abbreviated to “C”, in most recipes. Tablespoon is designated as TBS or Tbs., or Tbsp., and teaspoon is generally designated as tsp. Also older cookbooks will use a capital letter at the beginning of the abbreviation for tablespoon. If, like me, you have ever gotten old cookbooks, as in belonging to your grandmother or older, you will have noticed that the measurement for a cup of something called for “1 teacup” of whatever it was. Now, that made for an interesting recipe to try to use in modern times. As far as I could tell, the cups used to serve tea at a ladies gathering and what was used for breakfast coffee were two different sizes. In fact, I have a cup that belonged to my grandmother, made of some type of china that was intended for everyday usage and was in many homes, and it definitely holds more than eight ounces of liquid and more than a standard 1-cup dry measuring cup! The tablespoon in these old recipes is most likely what we use as a soup spoon and a teaspoon is what we use to eat pudding or some type of dessert.
Also, if you will notice in your silverware drawer, or a set of silverware in the store, (stainless…whatever), there are usually no less than three and perhaps in more expensive sets, four different sized spoons. The largest is a ‘serving spoon’, usually put into vegetables to serve them, next size smaller is a ‘soup spoon’, that is served with soup, (my mom used this size with oatmeal or cereal), and the smallest is a ‘teaspoon’ that you use for pudding or gelatin or some type of dessert. And, let’s not forget the other spoon that may be in a set. It is the long-handled ‘iced tea spoon’!
In dry measure: 3 teaspoons =1 tablespoon; 2 tablespoons=1/8 cup; 4 tablespoons=1/4 cup; 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon=1/3 cup; 10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons =2/3 cup; 8 tablespoons=1/2 cup; 12 tablespoons=3/4 cup and last but not least, 16 tablespoons=1 cup.
Liquid measurements: 2-oz=1/4 cup; 4-oz.=1/2 cup; 6-oz=3/4 cup and 8-oz=1 cup. ½ cup plus 2 tbs.=5/8 cup; ¾ cup plus 2 tbs.=7/8 cup; 2 cups=1 pint; 2 pints=1 quart; 4 quarts=1 gallon. 2 cups liquid is equal to 1 pound.
One pound of granulated sugar is 2 ¼ cups. A pound of brown sugar (which is usually measured “firmly packed” is 2 ¼ cups. 4 cups sifted flour is 1 pound. 4 ¾ cups sifted cake flour is 1 pound. 2 1/3 cups solid shortening is approximately 1 pound. 4 sticks of butter or margarine is 1 pound or 2 cups. (Margarines labeled “easy spread” or anything that will not meet these measurements.)
Here are some substitutions that can be used in emergencies, i.e. when you open a box or bag and discover less ingredients than you need for your recipe.
1 package active dry yeast – 1 cake compressed yeast, 1 package quick action dry yeast or 2-¼ teaspoons bread yeast is equivalent to 1 package active dry yeast. (Many of us keep only jars of the yeast we use in bread machines, then we come across something we want to make that calls for a package of yeast, as things like Angel biscuits do).
1 cup sifted all purpose flour – 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. cake flour; 1 cup self-rising flour – 1 cup all purpose flour plus1 teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon baking powder – ¼ tsp. baking soda plus ½ tsp. cream of tartar. 1 square chocolate (1-ounce) – 3 or 4 tbsp. cocoa plus ½ tbsp. shortening, butter or solid margarine. 1 tablespoon cornstarch – 2 tbsp. flour( for thickening gravies or stews only); ¾ cup cracker crumbs – 1 cup bread crumbs; 1/8 tsp. garlic powder – 1 small clove fresh garlic; 1 tsp. dried herbs – 1 tbsp. fresh herbs; 1 cup milk, sour, (or buttermilk) – 1 cup whole milk plus 1 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar. (Measure lemon juice or vinegar into 1-cup measure, and add milk to 1-cup line). Allow to stand for 5 minutes, stir and use. (I have used this many times, especially in the recipes for chocolate sheet cake and red velvet cake and it works very well. It really works best with whole milk rather than reduced fat milk). 1 cup whole milk – ½ cup evaporated milk plus ½ cup water.
2 cups sifted flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup solid shortening
¾ cup milk
Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender, fork or two knives until texture of coarse meal, (my daughter says no one knows what coarse meal looks like, it should look like coarse sawdust). Add milk and stir until mixed and dough is soft. Turn out onto floured board and knead about 10 or 12 times. Pat out into circle, cut with biscuit cutter, place on cookie sheet and bake at 450ºF until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Here’s a super easy cake to make with your new knowledge of how to measure! It is always a favorite and I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like it.
Chocolate Sheet Cake
1 stick butter or margarine
1/2 cup shortening
4 to 5 Tbs. Hershey’s cocoa
1 cup water
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ to 1 tsp. salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk**,
into which you stir 1 tsp vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon*
1 teaspoon baking soda
Place butter or margarine, shortening, cocoa and water into a pot and bring to a boil, remove from heat.
Measure flour and sugar into bowl*.
Add boiled mixture to flour and sugar. (You can just use a spoon for this)
Add the eggs and stir just until incorporated.
Stir vanilla and cinnamon into buttermilk or sour milk, add the soda last as it will foam up. Pour into 9×13 pan and bake at 400ºF for 25 to 30 minutes.
About 5 minutes before the cake is ready to come out of the oven, make the following frosting:
Bring to boil:
1 stick margarine
5 Tbs. cocoa
6 to 7 Tbs. milk
Remove from heat and stir in one box sifted powdered sugar. Pour and spread on hot cake.
*I add the cinnamon to the flour/sugar mixture.
**You can make soured milk by placing 2 to 3 Tbs. vinegar or lemon juice in the measuring cup and then adding milk to the one-cup level. Stir and allow to stand until ready to use and stir before using.
In the past, I’ve talked about soup and given you recipes. The following vegetable soup is one a cousin and I used to make when we spent the day together, she took half home with her and I kept the other half and we both had our supper made.
On a Budget Vegetable Soup
9 bouillon cubes or equivalent amount of bouillon granules or soup base
7 or 8 cups water
1 small onion, chopped
1 or 2 ribs celery, chopped
1 package frozen mixed vegetables for soup or 1 large can mixed vegetables or 2 small cans
1 can tomato sauce (if you like cooked tomatoes, use a can of diced tomatoes and leave out the tomato sauce) This is a good time to use any left-over vegetables from your fridge!
Noodles, macaroni or rice*
Bring water and bouillon to a boil, stirring to be sure the bouillon or granules is thoroughly dissolved. Add onions and celery, cook until nearly done*, add the mixed vegetables and noodles or macaroni and cook until everything is done. Serve hot with the above biscuits or some cornbread. *If you use rice, add it with the celery and onions as it takes longer to cook than the noodles or macaroni does.
3 or 4 large russet potatoes
1 chopped onion
1 rib celery, diced
2 to 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup milk or half and half
Salt and pepper to your taste
Shredded cheese (optional)
Peel potatoes and cut into small pieces, place in pot and barely cover with water, cover and cook until tender. While the potatoes are cooking, sauté onions and celery in butter or margarine until limp. Set aside. Use your potato masher and break up the potatoes without mashing them completely. Add the onions, celery and milk; simmer gently until as thick as you want. Stir in 1-cup cheese if desired. Garnish with parsley and additional cheese if desired.