Valentine Family & Friends Cookbook Available in Paperback or Downloadable PDF
Grandma Valentine raised 8 children, 4 girls and then 4 boys. I don't know when the picture above was taken but it shows Dad with all four of his sisters and his brother Tom. The inset is Uncle Bill who died a few years earlier. His other brother, Uncle Burr, died in World War II. From left to right they are Uncle Tom (Richard Thomas, Aunt Viola, Aunt Helen, Aunt Bonnie, Aunt Tress, Dad. I always thought it was interesting that Grandma's four sons had the same names as Eleanor of Aquitaine's sons --- William, Henry, Richard and John. All she was missing was Geoffrey...
Grandma Valentine’s Applesauce Fruit Cake
By itself this is a delicious, moist cake but it is also the base for the most wonderful fruitcakes. My mother never liked fruitcake until she tasted the fruitcakes that Grandma Valentine made from this recipe. It is best to make them in September and then soak a teatowel in rum and brandy, wrap the cake in it and place in a sealed tin. Check now and then to re-moisten the towel if needed. By Christmas you will have a treasure.
Combine: ½ cup margarine, 1 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg, 1 cup apple sauce, 1 ½ cup flour, 1/4 tstp salt, 1 tsp each baking soda and cinnamon, ½ tsp ground cloves. Stir well and pour into loaf pan. Bake at 350̊ for an hour.
Fruitcake: Add ½ cup each of raisins, walnuts or pecans, sliced candied cherries, and candied fruit. Add ½ tsp grated orange peel.
mother was an outstanding breadmaker. She learned from Grandma Valentine
(below, right) but there were great breadmakers on both sides of the family.
Here are more recipes:
Meisel's Rye Bread
Meisel's rye bread was long considered the very best rye bread in St. Marys. Their store was a little white building on South St. Marys Street. There was a bell that jingles when you came in the door and a whole counter full of the most amazing penny candy. I used Meisel's as the model for Darling's Store in Each Angel Burns. There were two ladies who worked in Meisel's. They wore white aprons over flowered dresses, hairnets and big, clunky black shoes. I used to love to go there for a loaf of bread and some penny candy. When the store closed Miss Rose Ebrel was getting on in years and she gave the recipe for their rye bread to my mother because she said she didn't know who else to give it to. My mother was thrilled until a local ladies guild put out a cookbook and there was the recipe in the book. Apparently Miss Rose gave the recipe to everyone. Here it is:
Melt 1/2 tsp sugar in 1/4 cup warm water. Crumble in 1/2 cale yeast and set aside to work.
Mix together 2 1/2 cups rye four, 7 1/2 cups white flour, 2 1/2 tblsp salt, and 2 1/2 tblsp caraway seeds. Knead in 1 1/2 tblsp lard. Add 1 quart warm water. Knead in the yeast once it has begun to proof (bubble). Knead until the dough comes away from the bowl clean. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to raise.
When the bread is double in size, knead down and divide into four sections. Shape into long loaves and slit across the top three times on the diagonal. Bake at 350° until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Rub tops with shortening.
Dad was interested in photography for quite a few years and he loved to
take photos and have them made into slides. After he died I asked if I
could have the slides and I have been going through them and scanning some
for this blog. I came across the one below right and thought it was perfect
for this entry. It was taken out at Uncle Gus’s camp at one of the many,
many picnics we had there over the years. That’s Mom when she was probably
in her late thirties and that’s a big jar of pickled eggs that she has
just placed on the table. She made pickled eggs all the time and I still
make them. They are wonderful and a good, protein-rich snack.
Boil a dozen eggs (or more if you have a jar that can hold them). Peel them and pack in a large glass jar. In a saucepan mix:
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 large onion sliced
1 cup of juice from a can of red beets
2-3 cloves (optional)
Simmer until the sugar is melted and the onions are just slightly tender. Pour over the eggs and add the beets if there is room. Store at least 48 hours before serving. You can keep them unrefrigerated for a couple days but refrigerate for longer storage — if they last that long.
Aunt Tressie (below, right) was Dad’s older sister. She and Uncle John lived in Emporium and we often went to their house to watch parades. This recipe was sent to me by Mary, their daughter. They are little egg dumplings. In The Old mermaid’s Tale Clair talks about making “Spatzel”, this is pretty much the same thing.
With a fork mix together:
1 ½ generous cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 whole eggs
When well blended, drop the dough from a fork into boiling chicken soup. If you like you can add grated carrots to the soup about 10 minutes before the dumplings.
being relatively cheap and quite hearty, are a mainstay of Pennsylvania
Dutch cooking. Here are a collection of assorted potato recipes from the
Gram’s Potato Pancakes
In St. Marys a popular summer event is Potato Pancake Dinners. The big one, held at the Sportsmen’s Club every year, includes mountains of potatoes shredded and fried up. Long tables are set up and bowls of stewed tomatoes, creamed corn, and cottage cheese are served along with maple syrup, apple sauce and pickles to accompany the pancakes. Frosty pitchers of Straub’s beer make the rounds. A good time is generally had by all. The picture below right was taken in Bavaria --- have no idea what year --- but the woman on the far right is Maria Eckert who was Gram's grandmother on her mother's side. As a girl she danced with a group of other traditional dancers.
Grate 1 large potato per person to be served. Mix with:
½ cup flour
½ tsp salt
Heat oil in a heavy frying pan and when it is very hot drop the mixture in by the spoonful. Flatten out. When crispy on one side, flip and fry until golden.
is a family that loves relishes. There are so many recipes it amazes me.
The first one is from Aunt Bonnie (below left). She is Dad’s older sister
and was married to Uncle Custy(below right). Uncle Custy, whose real name
was Constantine, was Italian and a great mushroom-hunter. He would take
us out in the woods and he knew all the mushrooms. We would come back with
a bushel basket full of delicious mushrooms. Our favorite was a type that
grew in big clumps on long, slender stems with caps that came down over
the stem. Mom would wash them and fry them up in butter with garlic and
serve them on toast. They were incredible --- so much more flavor than
commercial mushrooms! Their daughter Jean has many recipes in the cookbook
but we’ll add those later.
Aunt Bonnie’s Chili Sauce
Scald and peel 25 large, red tomatoes. Chop them fine and add:
6 medium chopped onions
3 chopped green peppers
3 cups vinegar
1 ½ cups sugar
1 1/3 tblsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp each ginger, cloves and allspice.
Simmer until very thick. Ladle into sterile jars and process 5 minutes.
Mom and Gram made really wonderful salads. Following is a selection of
some of their best salads. Probably my very favorite is Dandelion Salad
which Gram made abundantly in the Spring. I can remember her sitting out
in the yard with a screwdriver and a bucket pulling up dandelions when
they were still young and tender. She always liked to get a few with the
little buds before they blossomed. Mom said Dandelion Salad was a spring
tonic. I’ve actually made it with spinach when dandelions were in short
supply. It is also good with tender greens or romaine lettuce.
Gram’s Dandelion Salad
Thoroughly wash a large bowl full of dandelion greens (or other greens). Keep the buttons (buds). Drain well. Boil 2 medium potatoes and hardcook 2 eggs.
Slice a large sweet onion and separate the rings. Cool the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Peel and slice the eggs. Toss them with the greens. Add 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt.
Over medium heat fry 3-4 slices of bacon cut into small pieces. When bacon is crisp remove it to a paper towel then add to the salad. Pour off all but 2 tbsps bacon grease. Place the pan with the grease back on the burner and turn up heat. When it is sizzling carefully add ½ cup cider vinegar and let it sizzle and sputter. Pour hot from the pan over the greens. Toss again and serve.
Gram and Great Aunt Mary (at left in 1976) made these and they were wonderful,
old-world treats. I don't make them anymore but sometimes I think about
it. I'd hate for these recipes to be lost.
When Gram made this it was always something of an event. Her brother George would come by and bring hot rye bread from Meisel's Bakery. We would sit on her front porch on the big swing and the glider and eat the soltz with rye bread, mustard, sliced onions and cold beer. It is a sort of pickled meat that is really delicious. Those old German's used up everything so soltz was a way of using up the meat scraps left on bones. Later people added extra meat --- Jim Auman (who is married to Aunt Mary's daughter Snooky) added chopped up turkey to his. Gram used to say that the only part of a pig you couldn't use was the squeek.
Place 5-6 lbs. of meaty bones in a large kettle, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Simmer 2-3 hours until the meat is falling off the bones. Remove meat and strain the broth well. Measure it and add an equal amount of cider vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste (best if you use a fair amount of pepper). Let the meat cool a bit and remove it from the bones discarding all the fine bones and gristle. Grind the meat and add extra if you like. Add an onion. Place it back in the broth. Simmer for 5 minutes in the vinegar broth until the onion is cooked.
Ladle into loaf pans. In some Pennsylvania Dutch communities they make an arrangement of carrots and pickles to look like flowers in the bottoms of the pans "chust for nice", as they say. Cool the soltz and it will gel. Refrigerate until very cold then slice and serve with mustard and rye bread. Have a beer.
Parlez-Moi Blog Post about Soltz
it’s that time of the year, when people are starting to can, I thought
it would be a good time to add a few of our family’s favorite pickles and
Grandma Valentine’s Sandwich Spread
Grandma Valentine (at right with Grandpa and Dad's two oldest sisters, Aunt Viola and Aunt Bonnie) lived in a big house on Chestnut Street. It had a porch that wrapped around it with a porch swing. There were several apple trees, a beautiful crab apple tree, orange blossom bushes and a hedge of currant bushes along the back alley. I remember crawling under those currant bushes on summer afternoons and eating the currants still hot and juicy from the sun. Grandma had a huge vegetable garden and there were hollyhocks and peony bushes along the side of the house. Inside there was a pantry and she hung dried herbs in bunches inside the stairwell. I still remember opening the door to the stairs and the fragrance of herbs coming out. She had a canary that sat in the sunshine and sang all day. Her house was a good place in which to be a child.
Combine and let stand overnight:
2 qts. Ground green tomatoes
1 pt. ground onions
2 each of red, yellow and green peppers, ground
½ cup salt
Next day drain the excess liquid and place in a heavy pot. Add:
1 pt. white vinegar
2 ½ cups sugar
Bring to a boil and let simmer 20 minutes making sure it doesn’t burn. Chill thoroughly then add 9 oz yellow mustard and 1 pint salad dressing. Stir well and seal in jars.
Old Mermaid’s Tale, Clair and Baptiste often have dinner at
a restaurant behind the Customs House where he works, at a little restaurant
called the Hofbrau House. They order pork with sauerkraut and dumplings
and a lovely, crisp, white wine. Sauerkraut is a treasured part of my life.
I have often thought that if our family had a coat of arms, it would have a barrel of sauerkraut on it. Some of the best times I can remember growing up was when we made huge barrels of homemade sauerkraut at the end of the summer when the cabbages were huge and fresh from the garden.