Wee Cook Wednesday: Kimberly’s Fudge

Today the kids and I stirred up a batch of fudge to replenish the goodie tree that has been rather depleted with holiday gift-giving and get-togethers.

The recipe was given to me by my friend Kimberly, who died as a missionary in China, in an automobile accident. She left behind several children, and a husband who at the time of her death was in Germany on business. It took several days for him to return home to his children. Several years have passed, and I still find it shocking to think that she was taken so soon.

I knew Kimberly while we were students at Bethany College of Missions. Kimberly was Mennonite, and a natural beauty in every sense of the word. Soft-spoken and kind, she exuded a kind of innocent feminine charm that left most of the young men in the campus swooning in her wake … and yet, she spent most of her time with her girlfriends.  At least until a German student stole her heart; they made a wonderful couple. I felt privileged to have known them both, even for a short time.

Whenever I make this recipe, it reminds me of my friend. And of the sweetness of homespun nostalgia. Which is why I keep making the candy, every year, with my kids. AndI tell them of a young mother who completed the work God had for her by doing her daily household tasks for her family well, and with her whole heart.

Lord, help me to do the same.

Kimberly’s Fudge

2-1/2 C chocolate chips
1 pint marshmallow cream
1 C butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon (my addition)
2 C nuts (I like chopped almonds)
4-1/2 C sugar
1 can evaporated milk

Combine first six ingredients in large bowl, set aside. Combine sugar and milk in dutch oven, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, for five minutes. Pour over the mixture in the bowl and beat with a mixer 10-12 minutes, until the mixture thickens and loses its gloss. Pour into buttered tins and chill to set.  Makes 1-1/2 pounds (enough for an 8×12 cake pan or two round cake pans).


Wee Cook Wednesdays: Friendship Cake

Have you ever made sourdough starter? I’m trying an experiment this week, to add a finishing touch to the baskets I do for various friends and family members. My mother used to make this starter — it requires a 10 day babysitting commitment, a true investment in time and effort that is the mark of most truly great Christmas gifts.

To make your sourdough starter (make this 3-10 days before you want to make the actual cake), in a small bowl combine 1 package active dry yeast and 1/2 C warm water. Stir to dissolve. Then, in a non-metallic bowl using a non-metallic spoon, combine 2-1/2 C warm water, 2 C all-purpose flour, and 2 Tbls sugar. Stir to combine well, and add yeast mixture. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap or cheesecloth and let stand in a warm place for 3 days, stirring 2-3 times daily. 

For your own baking:  After three days, place in refrigerator, stirring daily. Use within 11 days. Always bring starter to room temperature before using in cake recipe by allowing to set in a warm place for an hour before using. Stir well, then measure out the amount needed for recipe.

To share starter:  On Day 10 divide starter as follows:  2-3 C for recipe (below). Divide remaining starter into 1C portions and place in plastic or glass containers, cover with plastic wrap (don’t let starter touch metal lids). Keep one cup for yourself and give the rest to friends along with the “Nurturing Your Starter” directions:

Nurturing Your Starter:  Starter should have a sweet, yeasty smell. If you notice signs of spoiling, toss and start over. Do not add milk, cream, or eggs to starter or it may produce harmful bacteria.

*  Day 1 (starter received):  Stir mixture with spoon, let it sit on a counter loosely covered with plastic wrap or wax paper for one day. Do not refrigerate or place in metal container.

*  Days 2-4:  Refrigerate, stir the mixture each day, keep loosely covered.

*  Day 5:  Transfer starter to larger glass or ceramic jar or bowl. Add “starter food”:  1 C water, 1 C flour, 1 C sugar. Stir to mix, cover loosely, return batter to refrigerator. (Container should not be more than 1/2 full.)

*  Days 6 -9: Stir once a day and keep refrigerated, loosely covered.

*  Day 10:  Transfer to larger non-metallic container and add more starter food (1C water, 1C flour, 1C sugar). Allow starter to sit at room temperature for an hour. Remove 1C for each of 3 friends, use 3C for the following recipe.

Friendship Cake

1 C sugar
2 C flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 C vegetable oil
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
3 C starter
2 C chopped nuts or fruit (raisins, cherries, chopped apple, crushed pineapple, dates, pecans, almonds, etc.)
1 egg plus 2 egg whites

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, set aside. In another bowl mix starter, egg, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add flour mixture, fruit and nuts. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan or 9×11 loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes. Cool and dust with powdered sugar.

Wee Cook Wednesdays: Cocoa-Peanut Butter Gems!

pbgemsToday as my Sweetie set out for a hike with Boy and Dog (you know them as Chris and Maddy), the last thing he said to me was: “Say, do you have any peanut butter in the house? I’d love some of those peanut-butter cookies!”

Awww… well, sure!  “How about if I try something new and add a few chocolate chips …?”  His eyes lit up like Christmas. (Karen Edmisten suggested that I use peanut butter M&Ms instead, which I would have had I had any.)  But my version turned out pretty well, so I thought I’d share it with all y’all. (I’m still recovering from my Texas Adventure.)


Heidi’s Cocoa-Peanut Butter Gems

1/2 C butter or margerine
1/2 C peanut butter
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
dash allspice
1 C chocolate chips (more or less)
1/2 C honey-roasted peanuts (optional)

Beat together butters, sugars, egg, and vanilla. In another bowl, stir together dry ingredients and add gradually to butter mixture. Stir in peanuts and chips. Chill about an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 and roll chilled dough in 1 inch balls between your palms. Set about 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes, until browned and set. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to counter to finish cooling. Makes about 4 dozen.

Kids really enjoying making these!

Wee Cook Wednesdays: School’s Out … Favorite Kid-Friendly Recipes!

cakeI’d like to toss this weeks’ column out to my readers … What is your favorite recipe to make with your kids when you have an afternoon to bake or cook something nice for dinner, and they all want to play “Rachel Ray”?

Chris’ favorite is “Bird-in-a-Nest.”  Poke a hole in the bread, break an egg into the hole, and grill on both sides.

Sarah likes to make “Comfort Cookies.”  We made a batch last night (at Sarah’s insistence) to take to a neighbor lady whose dad had passed away. It tickles me pink to see those little empathy buds blossom into full flower!

My favorite recent cooking memory was the creation of my goddaughter’s First Holy Communion ice cream cake. Of course, Pokemon cake was right up there …

Gingerbread house, anyone?  (That’s more for Christmas break, of course …)

What do you like to make?

Wee Cook Wednesday: Best-Ever Brownies

This recipe seemed particularly apt today … Those of us (myself among them) who are feeling down about last night, well the chocolate will boost that endorphin level! 

And Governor Palin, if you’re reading this, know that this is one mother who still thinks you’re extraordinary, and if I had to do it all again I’d STILL vote for you!  I have a hard time finding the right words — it’s just too sad — so I’ll turn you to this lovely tribe I found, courtesy of Sarah Reinhard, by Carter Clews at GetLiberty.com.

This morning at “Aussie Coffee Shop,” Therese also offers some consoling perspective … as well as the notice that she is gathering information about “Type 1 diabetes” in children. Please drop me a note or comment if you have found any particularly useful resources. Thanks!

As the weather turns, some cards are released from the big black recipe box and seem to take up permanent residence on my window sill for the season. This is one of them. The recipes are rich and cakey … and because the shortening is melted, it only takes a minute to whip up! Which is a good thing … that 9×13 pan is empty in no time.

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Wee Cook Wednesday: Chicken Divan (“Chicken Stuff”)

When I was in junior high, I was into what could best be called “experimental cooking.”  I eschewed cookbooks, preferring to mix and match whatever was in the cupboard to put dinner together. One of my concoctions (the precise ingredient list I’ll spare you here) involved pork chops, curry, apple sauce, and brown rice. Dad took one bite, then turned to me and said, “Someday, my dear, your husband is going to have to thank me for this … Thanks to you, I have a cast iron stomach!”

Eventually — when my father’s caustic commentary finally got through to me — I turned to my mom’s recipe file, and learned to cook some of the tried-and-true dishes that my family loves so much. Kids enjoy helping me with this: pulling apart the chicken, arranging the meat and broccoli in the dish, stirring the sauce, sprinkling the cheese. Add rice and corn bread, and you’ve got a winner!

Chicken Stuff

1 large head of broccoli, trimmed and cut into “trees”
3 chicken breasts, cooked and meat pulled off bones
1 large can cream of chicken soup (or 2 small ones)
1 c mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin (optional)
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 C Italian bread crumbs
1 Tbls margarine, melted

Steam broccoli for 3 minutes, cool. Arrange in bottom of greased 9×13 pan. Put chicken bits on top of broccoli. Combine soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and spices; pour over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese. Combine bread crumbs and margarine in small bowl, sprinkle over cheese. Bake 350 for 30 minutes. Serve over white rice. (You may substitute 2-10 oz packages of broccoli cuts for the fresh broccoli spears, and chicken thighs, deboned, for the chicken breasts.)