Daily Archives: February 23, 2014

Vera’s Apricot Chutney

This stuff is so good, you can eat it with a spoon. But don’t. Put it on grilled meat or chicken. Or wrap it up in a warm tortilla that’s been smeared with some cream cheese, and add turkey breast or ham slices. Eat the wrap over the sink, I am not kidding.
3 large sweet red bell peppers, diced
12 oz. dried apricots, diced
1 c. raisins
1 c. sugar
1 large onion, finely chopped
3/4 c. red wine vinegar (or use some cider vinegar)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp salt (I go lighter here – maybe a scant tsp.)
1/4 tsp ground ginger (experiment with grating some fresh ginger root – maybe a tsp?)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground mustard seed
Combine ingredients in a large heavy saucepan. I use a dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until thickened, stirring occasionally. Cover and refrigerate for up to a month, if you can manage to make it last that long. I’m thinking about processing this in half-pint jars to give away at Christmas…


Stir-Fried Corn, Peppers, and Vidala Onions

1 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 C. chopped Vidala onions (or other sweet onion)
5 C. Fresh or frozen corn
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. salt (optional)
Dash of sugar
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. Dijon mustard (or any brown prepared mustard)
2/3 c. Half & Half (or plain yogurt)
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped chives for garnish

In a skillet or wok over medium heat, melt butter with olive oil. Add onions and saute for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add corn, peppers, and sugar (+salt). Toss and cook (5-6 minutes – longer if you use frozen corn), stirring only occasionally so vegetables will “stick” a bit and brown nicely. Whisk together cayenne, mustard and Half&Half (or yogurt). Add to vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has almost completely been absorbed (about 3 minutes). Serve immediately. This is a nice accompaniment to grilled chicken, and only needs about 10 minutes to cook.

I remembered this dish after getting Allen Morrill’s recipe for Cheesy Corn. We adapted it from a newspaper clipping, and find it works just as well without salt, substituting yogurt for Half&Half to make it a little more heart-healthy. I added the chives for color, because they grow right by the back step, and I like chives. I can make this while Bruce is putting the finishing touches on the grilled chicken. With a nice salad, you have a beautiful summer meal. As my late father-in-law, Byron, used to say, “It’s all in the presentation!”


Aunt Ellen’s Sour Cream Apple Pie

9″ pie shell, unbaked (1-1/2 cups flour, 1 stick butter, 3-4 T. Chilled shortening, cut in until fine crumbs, gently mix in enough ice water to pull the dough together with your hands, divide into two lumps and roll each out on a well floured board. Makes two crusts plus some extra for “wedding cake”)

Sift together: 2 T flour, (1/8 tsp. salt), 3/4 c. sugar
Add: 1 egg, 1 c. sour cream, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Beat to a smooth batter.
Stir in: 2. c diced or sliced (peeled or not) apples
Pour into pie shell
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 350 for 30 minutes
Crumble together 1/3 c. sugar, 1/3 c. flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/4 c. chilled butter. Sprinkle over the pie, and bake for another 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Aunt Ellen was my mom’s older sister. We spent many happy wheat harvests on her farm near Spivey, Kansas. Aunt Ellen could never understand people who took their showers in the morning. In her mind, that meant they went to bed dirty, and farm dirt isn’t something you want to sleep in. Ellen kept chickens and milk cows, and made her own butter. She was always a no-nonsense kind of gal, so it’s probably a good thing that she married my uncle Rex, one of the goofiest guys on the planet. Rex reminded me a lot of the actor Ray Bolger – remember the scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz”? Rex and Ellen have both gone on to their eternal home with Jesus, and I cherish their memory, as I cherish this pie recipe. I hope you enjoy it.


Perfect Cocoa Brownies

1 stick of butter, melted
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 c. cocoa
1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8×8 pan. (If you double this recipe, which works well, use a 9×13 pan.) Mix together the melted butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla, mixing well with a spatula. Add the remaining ingredients, mixing well. It’s okay if the batter is a little lumpy. Spread batter into prepared pan, and bake for 20-25 minutes (more if you doubled it in the larger pan). If you mix these up as a children’s message in church, baking them during the sermon, final prayers, and closing hymn/song, they will be warm and finger-lickin’ good for coffee hour after worship. (Get another adult to take charge of the baking part.)