Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 2, 2009

Grandma's Kitchen: Damp woods, cozy kitchen

By EDNA SHAFFER

Turning the calendar leaf over to November is met with differing degrees of enthusiasm by the man of the house than it is by his wife.

From the minute the first trees start to show a splash of color, the Michigan men start counting the days until deer season. For them it's the biggest event of the year.

As the wives look ahead they see Thanksgiving, Christmas, shopping, cleaning, cooking and company looming with considerably less excitement than their husbands.

I must say I've been there and done that, so I know the feeling, but really now, wouldn't you rather do what we do, than get up before daylight and go to the woods and sit on a frozen stump all day? So pass the sticky notes and let's get at it.

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The winds of change are blowing, not just in Washington and on Wall Street, but in our beloved little towns and communities. The recession has hit our area like a tornado. Our friends and neighbors have suffered great losses and our villages seem to have lost some of their vitality.

About two years ago the Sail Inn in Benzonia closed. I loved taking my husband there -- the wait staff was so nice, the food delicious and their chairs had wheels! That was such a help because Howard was disabled. I could get him up to the table so he was comfortable.

Now the building is torn down and is being replaced by a grocery store that I'm unhappy about. I fear it will affect Shop N Save almost next door there. They have served our community faithfully for a long time and I'm sure they've had a struggle like all small-town businesses. I hope all of their old customers will be loyal.

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About two Sundays ago we went to the Brookside Inn's last brunch. They have suffered bankruptcy too. I felt like I was at a wake, and I guess in a sense it was. Their loss, like the Sail Inn, is a loss for all of us as well as the summer people.

My heart aches for the owners who spent their years there and suddenly it is gone. How do you pick up the pieces of your life and go on? I hope they and all the workers will find a way to move forward, and I hope we will all do as much business locally as we possibly can.

I'm sure many of you are having the same experience where you live.

I just learned that Harry and Laura Clark, owners of the Cherry Bowl Gifts and Goodies, have hired Denise Bair, who was the baker for years at Brookside Inn. She made the world's best sticky buns as well as sweet rolls, apple dumplings and pies, so I guess you could say, "It's an ill wind that blows nobody good." She's baking right around the corner from my house! Cherry Bowl Gifts and Goodies is on U.S. 31 right beside the drive-in. They serve lunch and deli items and I see by their sign they will be having a Sunday brunch. You can even order your Thanksgiving pies; call 325-3333 and beat the rush.

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I'm so thankful for the bumper apple crop this year. There's nothing more beautiful than baskets stacked high with colorful apples. I tried my first Crispens for pie this year and they were great. I wonder how far our crop of 26 million bushels of apples would reach if laid end-to-end. Any mathematicians out there? Send me your answer and I'll print it next month.

A big salute to all the wonderful growers who shared with the food pantries. May you be rewarded next year with the right-size crop.

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I'm sure by now you have given some thought to your Thanksgiving food. Ours is still in the planning stages; we're always more concerned with who will be on the chairs than what will be on the table. I hope you will be with family too. That's much to be thankful for.

Before he had family, my brother Paul liked to spend the holidays with our family. He was not much for rich foods and would always ask me to keep a pot of soup handy for "tapering off." I still like to do that. Daughter Vicki gave me this recipe for kale soup; it's meatless but chock full of nutritious vegetables and it warms up well. Throw a handful of cheesy croutons on top when you serve it piping hot.

Hearty Kale Soup

2 T. olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

6 medium potatoes, scrubbed or peeled, cut in half-inch cubes

8 c. chicken broth (or 8 c. water and 8 bouillon cubes)

Salt and pepper to taste (broth or bouillon can be very salty)

1 bay leaf

1 lb. kale leaves, washed and torn into pieces

Saute garlic and onions in olive oil until onion is tender.

In a large pot combine the potatoes, broth, bay leaf and the sauteed onion and garlic. Cook until the potatoes are tender.

Add the kale leaves and cook 10 minutes more. Remove the bay leaf, taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Makes 12 one-cup servings.

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My son-in-law is celebrating a birthday today but we celebrated early.

I always ask what he wants for a birthday cake, and this year he decided on Boston Cream Pie. This turned into a calamity before I really got started on it. The recipe was written for lots of whipped egg whites and the mixer died when I turned it on. So I discovered a cake mix that does a good job and I worked the kinks out and made it easier for you. It really is a good cake.

Molly made a great Italian dinner for Ray. I had forgotten how good Folgarelli's Italian sausage is. Wow! I plan to have it sometime over the holidays. Molly cooked hers in the oven with peppers.

I hope you will try the cake, it's easy as 1-2-3 to make .

Boston Cream Pie

1 yellow cake mix, your choice

Cream filling

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1&1/2 c. milk

6 large egg yolks

1&1/2 t. vanilla

Tiny pinch salt

Chocolate glaze

1/2 c. granulated sugar

3 T. light corn syrup

2 T. water

4 ozs. (4 squares) semi-sweet chocolate, broken

Bake cake in two 9-inch pans following directions on box. Let cool.

For filling: In a medium saucepan mix together sugar and flour. Gradually whisk in milk, then egg yolks and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 minute or until thick. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cool.

For glaze: In a saucepan bring sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil over low heat. Stir constantly until sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat.

Add chocolate and let stand for one minute before stirring, then whisk until smooth.

To assemble: Place one layer of cake on cake plate. Stir the cooled custard and spread over entire layer, using all of the filling. Place second layer on top of the filling. Make sure your glaze is hot and whisked smooth. Pour the glaze over entire top layer and allow to drip down the sides. Allow to set, then cover and keep refrigerated. (It must stay refrigerated because of the custard.) Makes 10 servings.

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Parting Shot:

He who thanks but with the lips,
Thanks but in part.
The full, the true Thanksgiving
Comes from the heart.
-- J.A. Shedd

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Edna Shaffer is a local mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who writes about cooking from the perspective of an older adult. She can be reached at coachngrandma@charter.net. For more Grandma's Kitchen columns by Edna Shaffer, log on to record-eagle.com/ednashaffer.