Chunk-o-Cheese Bread

 

I don’t remember a time when mom didn’t make chunk-o-cheese bread. It’s great not only for the chunks of cheese, but the almost sweet, savory flavor of molasses, and wonderful density. Chunk o Cheese Bread crop

This recipe has been used a time or two. With thanks to the Advertisers, here is my version of the recipe:

Chunk-o-Cheese Bread

1.75 c water
0.5 c corn meal
2 t salt
0.5 c molasses
2 T butter
2.25 t dry yeast or 1 packet dry yeast or 1 cake fresh yeast
0.5 c warm water
4 – 4.5 c flour
1 lb cheese cut into 0.25″ to 0.5″ cubes
butter to grease the pan

Cook water, corn meal, and salt in a pan until boiling. This mixture should stiffen a little. Remove from heat and add molasses and butter. Allow to cool until slightly warm.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the yeast in water and then stir in the corn meal mixture. Do not overheat the yeast, which will kill it. Add flour bit by bit until a stiff dough forms. Sprinkle the tabletop with flour and knead the dough there until it is smooth.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and allow to rise until double in size. The time to rise will depend on the strength of the yeast and temperature, about 1 – 1.5 hours.

Grease two 9″ round pans or equivalent area sheet pans. Work the cubed cheese into the dough. Divide the dough and shape into two round loaves. Place on greased pans and cover with dish towels. Let rise until double in size, about 1 hour. Bake at 350 F until deep brown, about 45 – 55 minutes.

Free advice

Mom’s advice is not to use aluminum foil because it can stick to the bread, which does not taste delicious. Greasing the pan with butter is adequate. Try to bury all of the cheese chunks in the dough. Oozing cheese sticks to even a well greased pan. Getting all of the cheese into the dough will not be easy, but well worth it.

Grandma Elma’s advice is to scrape the butter off the wrapper before using the wrapper to grease the pan or throw it out. I try to scrape every measuring cup and bowl clean as I mix because what isn’t used ends up down the drain or in the compost.

Adding too much flour to the bread can make it tough. Keep the table dusted with flour while starting to knead the dough. Cover your hands with butter or oil to prevent the dough from sticking to them. When the dough inevitably sticks to the table or hands, rub flour on it to release it and then reincorporate it into the dough. Think good thoughts.

A warm, but not hot, location such as a warm radiator or the stove top when it is being used for other cooking or baking is ideal. If your home is very cool, a heating pad can be used under the bowl or pan to warm the bread.

My advice is to use sharp cheese because it makes such a nice contrast to the slightly sweet dough. There is (almost) never a good reason to use American cheese as the original recipe indicates.

Cut this bread in generous slabs and butter accordingly. This is a nice sturdy bread, which makes it great for picnics and carrying in your day pack (at the top).

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Cowboy beans

1 pound ground beef
1 c chopped onion
1 c chopped green pepper
3/4 c ketchup
3/4 c barbecue sauce
6 T packed brown sugar
3 T molasses
3 T prepared mustard
1.5 t salt
1.5 t pepper
2 (16 oz) cans pork and beans
2 (16 oz) cans kidney beans, drained
1 (16 oz) can butter beans, drained
1 (16 oz) can pinto beans

Brown the ground beef. Add onions and green pepper and cook until tender. Place in slow cooker.

Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Cook on high for 1 hour, reduce to low and cook 2-4 hours.

I could add 30 oz of more beans and still have a favorable meat-to-bean ratio, however my slow cooker does not hold that much.

Rhubarb sauce

My friend BFW inspired me to make and can rhubarb sauce for the first time. Here are some quick notes:

I used a recipe from the University of Minnesota Extension found here https://www.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/preserving/fruits/canning-rhubarb/

The only ingredients are rhubarb and sugar!

We combined 14 quarts of chopped rhubarb with 7 cups of sugar to make 15 canned pints and one scant quart of sauce for immediate use.

Both Mom and George lead me in the canning process. Mom helped out with the harvesting and washing. I’m pretty good at chopping, provided I have a good knife.

I haven’t opened any of the canned sauce, but it appears to be a success thus far.

Orange spice cake

Sunflower in ice 20 Feb 2018

Sunflower in ice 20 Feb 2018

I made a cake! Mostly. Until just now I didn’t realized that I made the cake twice without the “soak.” That indicates that I should try again!

Cake

3 c cake flour
0.5 c almond flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
0.5 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
0.5 t cardamom
0.5 t allspice
0.25 t ground cloves
0.125 t ground nutmeg
1.5 c sugar
1 stick softened unsalted butter
0.5 c applesauce
3 large eggs
1 c milk
1 T vinegar or lemon juice
2 t vanilla
1 t orange extract

Preheat over to 325 F. Combine flour, almond flour, and all dry ingredients except the sugar in a bowl. Mix well. In a separate bowl combine sugar and butter until smooth-ish. Add remaining wet ingredients and mix well. Incorporate dry ingredients into wet, without over mixing. Pour in three greased 8-inch round pans.  Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Soak

1/2 c orange marmalade
4 T rum or orange juice

Warm the marmalade enough to melt. Add rum. Brush the soak on the cake.

Frosting

12 oz skyr (Icelandic cultured dairy product)
1 c powdered sugar
1 pt whipping cream

Whip the skyr and powdered sugar until well mixed. Add the whipping cream and beat to soft peaks. Frost the cake.

In all honesty, I didn’t make the frosting either. However, that was a choice rather than an outright omission. This recipe was adapted from The Sons of Norway Viking December 2017 issue. They called it Festive Orange Spice Cake. I’m guessing that the soak and frosting make it festive!

Mushroom soup

1/4 c butter
1/4 c flour
2 c chicken broth
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 to 2 bay leaves
2/3 c finely chopped celery
1/4 c finely chopped onion
3 T cooking oil
4 to 5 c sliced fresh mushrooms (about 1 pound)
2/3 half-and-half or milk

Melt butter in a 2 qt saucepan. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in broth. Add salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally. In another saucepan, saute the celery and onion in oil until tender. Add mushrooms, cook until tender. Add this to broth mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes, siring occasionally. Add cream and heat through. Discard bay leaves. Serves 4.

February is a great time for mushroom soup! I clipped this recipe from a magazine in the 1990’s. Attributed to Elsie Cathrea of Elmira, Ontario.

Oatmeal spice cake

Roll the presses! I made food! This recipe is made from a combination of two different cakes recipes.

1 c rolled oats
1.25 c boiling water
0.25 c butter
0.5 c white sugar*
0.5 c packed brown sugar*
2 eggs
3 T plain or vanilla yogurt
1.5 c flour
0.5 t nutmeg
0.5 t cinnamon
0.5 t allspice
0.25 t ground cloves
1 t baking soda
0.5 t salt

In a small bowl, stir oats into boiling water. Set aside to soak.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray oil on the bottom and sides of an 8×8 inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, cream together the white sugar, brown sugar and butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs and yogurt. Combine flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, baking soda, and, salt. Add these dry ingredients to the egg mixture stir just until moistened. Mix in the soaked oats. Pour into the prepared pan, and spread evenly.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

* The recipe that I began with called for 1 cup of each type of sugar. This was too sweet. One-half cup of each produces a good cake. Adding three-quarters white sugar will make the cake sweeter and may improve the cake structure (it is a little dense).

The spices are good in this cake. I may try it again with 50% more nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.

I recently tried this Cauliflower Rice Stuffing and found it to be good and not as different from other dressings as I would have guessed. The mushrooms tie everything together and I would likely skip this recipe if I didn’t like mushrooms. Two heads of cauliflower is a lot of cauliflower, but there were a reasonable amount of leftovers when I made it for just George and myself. I would make this recipe again, perhaps with the additions of grated carrot and dried cranberries.

Pat’s Thanksgiving dressing (almost)

Four generations of my family gather for Thanksgiving annually. (The group is big enough to warrant the rental of a local church hall. This provides a little room to move around and two sinks for dish washing.) This year I joined another limb on my family tree to celebrate with. It also was good company and food, including the dressing, but it wasn’t Aunt Patty’s dressing. Today I’m making Pat’s dressing to make up for not having it on Thanksgiving weekend.

Slow cooker with stains that indicate use

Slow cooker with stains that indicate use

1 c butter

2 c chopped onion

2 c chopped celery

1/4 c parsley sprigs

16 oz sliced mushrooms

12-13 c slightly dry bread cubes

1 t poultry seasoning

1.5 t salt

1.5 t sage

1 t dried thyme

0.5 t pepper

0.5 t marjoram (optional)

2.5 – 3.5 c chicken or turkey stock

2 well beaten eggs

Melt butter in a skillet. Saute onion, celery, parsley, and mushrooms. Pour over bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add seasonings and toss well. Pour in enough broth to moisten. Add eggs and mix well. Pack lightly into slow cooker. Cover and set to high for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for 4-8 hours.

My changes: I used butter rather than the oleo called for at the time it was written. Since I love mushrooms, I used sliced fresh ones rather than two eight-once cans of mushrooms, drained. The amount of liquid from the sauteed mushrooms reduced the stock required by one cup. Here’s the original recipe, as saved by my mom.

I use a 3 quart slow cooker. I’ve tried using whole wheat bread in this recipe and have found that it has a bitter flavor that I don’t care for.

Pat's dressing recipe

I must be in a cooking mood, because I’m also making spicy lentil and sweet potato stew. Either that, or I’m avoiding cleaning. The stew looks a little funky because I’m using purple carrots. They are fresh though, probably the only ones I’ve dug from the garden on December 6.