28 December 2009


Photo copyright MyrtleArt Photography

Needing bread to go with dinner a few weeks ago and lacking a car to go to the store, I began searching Grandma's recipes. I hadn't made a new recipe in a while and just happened to find this one. Written in my Grandma's script on a loose-leaf lined paper reminiscent of grade school, folded and stained with greasy spots from butter was this simple list of ingredients and some directions. Bread. I've made this several times since and it makes a good, hearty white bread that is as excellent toasted as it is for sopping up homemade spaghetti sauce or soup.

1 yeast cake red star (dissolve in 1/4 cup lukewarm water)
2 eggs
7 cups of flour
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons shortening (I used butter)

Photo copyright MyrtleArt Photography


  1. Pour boiling water over sugar, salt and shortening (let cool until lukewarm)
  2. Add yeast, beaten eggs and 4 cups of flour. Beat thoroughly.
  3. Add remaining 3 cups of flour, knead until flour is all worked in.
  4. Then place in greased bowl, cover, let raise until doubled.
  5. Divide into 3 loaves, knead each loaf.
  6. Put in greased loaf pan, let raise.
  7. Bake for 3/4 hour at 350 degrees.

Photo copyright MyrtleArt Photography

12 October 2009

Golden Carrot Cookies

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

While planning snacks for a road trip to visit my parents in DC, I suddenly remembered my mother making these cookies for many road trips, long and short, throughout my childhood. They're also a great fall cookie as the earthiness of the carrots and the sweetness of the frosting remind me of Halloween!

Golden Carrot Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup grated carrots
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

  1. Mix butter, shortening, sugar, eggs and carrots
  2. Sift flour with baking powder and salt and blend into first mixture
  3. Drop by teaspoon about 2" apart on lightly greased sheet
  4. Bake in 400 degree oven 8-10 minutes or until no print remains when touched.
  5. Cool and frost if desired.
My mother always used a cream cheese frosting on these with great success. In the absence of a frosting recipe on my Grandma's recipe card, I used a recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book - you can use whatever you are comfortable with for these. Also, I used all butter instead of half butter, half shortening. This makes for a flatter cookie but the flavor is the same. If kept for a while, the cookies should be refrigerated due to the cream cheese frosting but I doubt they will last that long!
Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

11 September 2009

Joyce Snyder's Strawberry Cake

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

Strawberry cake is my Mother's birthday cake. From childhood, my Grandmother would faithfully bake Strawberry Cake on September 3rd for my Mother. Even when she was in college at Marygrove in Detroit, an hour's drive from Jackson, my Grandmother would make sure that her eldest daughter had this cake to celebrate. As luck would have it, a visit by my parents to Detroit this year coincided with my Mother's birthday - of course I had to make Strawberry Cake and it was a great success. I was concerned that a dish so entrenched in memory and nostalgia would be hard to duplicate but judging from the clean baking dish at the end of the night, I needn't have worried!

Joyce Snyder's Strawberry Cake
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
2/3 cup frozen or fresh strawberries (mostly berries)
1 - 3 oz box strawberry jello
2/3 cup oil
1 deluxe white cake mix

  1. Beat all ingredients together
  2. Follow baking directions on cake mix
Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

1/4 lb butter (or margarine)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 to 2 lb 4X sugar
juice and leftover berries

  1. Mix together to spreading consistency
  2. Frost when cake is completely cool
Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

I've found that fresh strawberries are indeed the best way to go but you can use frozen in a pinch. I mashed the strawberries with a fork before adding to the cake as it's easier to have smaller pieces rather than whole berries in the mix! Also, note that 4X sugar is confectioner's sugar and the amount needed will vary based on your desired frosting consistency.

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

04 September 2009

Sugar Cookies

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I recently made these for a friend/co-worker's birthday and within 20 minutes flat there were only crumbs! Don't ignore the impact a simple sugar cookie, when made well, can have on a crowd. The other thing I love about these is their chameleon-like quality - they're insanely easy to dress up or down depending on the event.

Sugar Cookies
2/3 cup shortening or butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
4 teaspoons milk
1 1/2 cup sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

  1. Thoroughly cream together shortening/butter, sugar, and vanilla
  2. Add egg and beat until fluffy
  3. Stir in milk
  4. Sift dry ingredients together
  5. Stir dry mixture into wet and blend well.
  6. Drop on greased cookie sheet
  7. Bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes
  8. Remove from pan and cool
Notes: Although the recipe calls for shortening only, I used butter with positive results. If you are going to add sprinkles or other accouterments to the cookies, add before cooking to ensure they will stick to the cookies!

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

02 August 2009

Lemon Squares

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As my mother loves the color yellow and anything lemon, we had this delish dessert often growing up. The fact that it only takes approx 45 minutes to make and bake means that it is often my plan B when a dessert is needed in quick order for a dinner party or potluck.

Lemon Squares
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter (or margarine) softened
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix flour, butter and confectioner's sugar
  3. Press into ungreased square pan (8x8x2)
  4. Build up 1/2" edge
  5. Bake 20 minutes
  6. Beat remaining ingredients about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy
  7. Pour over hot crust
  8. Bake about 25 minutes longer or just until no imprint remains when touched lightly in center
  9. Cut into Squares


I have always sprinkled powdered sugar on the top of the cooled squares just before cutting and serving.

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

20 April 2009

Ozark Mountain Apple Cake

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As a child this apple treat seemed impossibly exotic - a cake named for a distant sounding mountain range? My imagination would run wild and for a short period of time I thought that if you lived in the Ozark Mountains you must eat cake every day!

The recipe comes courtesy of Mrs. L. Collins (in Jackson Cit Pat).
Note: Non-locals know the "Cit Pat" as the Jackson, Michigan daily newspaper, the Citizen Patriot. Until I was in grade school, I thought everyone called it the "Cit Pat."

Ozark Mountain Apple Cake
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups peeled and sliced fresh apples
2 teaspoons vanilla

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

  • Cream together butter and sugar
  • Add eggs and beat
  • Sift dry ingredients together.
  • Stir in dry ingredients alternately with apples and vanilla.
  • Pour batter into greased 9"x13" loaf pan.
  • Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes
  • Frost, if desired, with Butter Frosting
My mother always used a bundt pan rather than a loaf pan. Also, I always remembered dusting the top of the cake with powdered sugar, rather than frosting. Either way, the intent is to look like snow on top of the mountains. If you're feeling especially creative you can insert fresh flowers or other decor in the middle of the bundt, as I did here with tulips.

21 February 2009

Oatmeal Cookies

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

Visiting Detroit's Eastern Market this morning (in the middle of a snow storm no less), I came across a vendor selling Michigan grown, organic rolled oats. Later, as my husband was emptying the bag into a canister, he asked if Grandma had a recipe for oatmeal cookies. Of course she did and these delectable treats are the result!

Note: Grandma's recipe is for plain oatmeal cookies. I like to think that she would do as I did and add in whatever sweet morsels were in the cupboard that day. We used chocolate chips and dried Traverse City Cherries for a truly Michigan cookie.

Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups oats, uncooked
chocolate chips to taste
dried cherries to taste

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Melt butter
  3. Add sugars, water, vanilla and egg, beating until creamy.
  4. Add flour (sifted), salt and baking soda. Blend well.
  5. Stir in oats and any additional ingredients.
  6. Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

24 January 2009

The Bride Makes Shrimp Curry | First Attempt

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

The story goes that my mother once made this curry recipe and was so tired by the end, she served the dish and went straight to bed! While I don't think the recipe itself is difficult, I too was emotionally drained by the time it was placed on the table. I had built this meal up so much in my head all week that when we finally tasted it, I was disappointed that it didn't turn out the way I expected. Looking back with a clear head though, I see my mistakes and will make a second attempt at shrimp curry.

The recipe is torn from McCalls and is, I believe, circa 1968 give or take. I loved the illustrations on the page so much that I just had to make this the next recipe in the project!

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

Curry Sauce

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped pared apple

1 clove garlic, crushed

2-3 tablespoons curry powder

¼ cup unsifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 cans (10 ½ oz size) condensed chicken broth, undiluted (do NOT skimp on this step!)

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons grated lime peel


2 pounds raw shrimp, shelled and deveined (18-20 per pound)

1 tablespoon salt

1 small onion, peeled and sliced

½ lemon, sliced

5 whole black peppers

¼ cup chopped chutney (I used sliced mango chutney)


  1. Make Curry Sauce: In hot butter in large skillet, saut̩ chopped onion, chopped apple, garlic, and curry powder until the onion is tender Рwill take about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat; blend in flour, 1 teaspoon salt, the ground ginger, cardamom and pepper
  3. Gradually stir in chicken broth, lime juice and grated lime peel
  4. Bring to boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer sauce, uncovered 20 minutes, stirring it occasionally.

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography
  1. Meanwhile, cook Shrimp: Rinse shrimp under cold running water.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon salt, the sliced onion, sliced lemon and whole black peppers; bring to boiling. Add the cleaned shrimp.
  3. Return to boiling; reduce heat, and simmer shrimp, uncovered, 5-10 minutes, or just until they are tender when tested with a fork.
  4. Drain shrimp, discarding cooking liquid. Add shrimp to curry sauce; stir in chopped chutney. Heat gently just to boiling.
  5. Serve the Shrimp Curry hot, with Curry Accompaniments and Fluffy White Rice below.

Makes 6 servings.

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

Curry Accompaniments


Pickled watermelon rind

Chopped green pepper

Chopped green onion

Diced avocado

Cucumber slices

Diced tomato

Salted nuts; peanuts

Sliced banana; raisins

Pineapple chunks

Shredded coconut

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

Fluffy White Rice*

1 ½ cups raw regular white rice

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 ½ tablespoons butter
  1. In heavy, medium saucepan, with tight-fitting cover, combine 3 cups cold water with the rice, salt, and butter. Bring rice mixture to boiling, uncovered.
  2. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, 12-14 minutes, or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.
  3. Fluff up rice with a fork.

Makes 6 servings.

*I have a hard time with rice so feel free to substitute your preferred rice method for this recipe!

18 January 2009

For Buttermilk

On a tiny scrap of paper, is the reason my pancakes turn out fantastic. The reason I've never needed to buy a quart of buttermilk for a recipe that calls for a cup. This is quite possibly the best cooking tip/trick that I know - passed down from my Grandmother to my Mother to me...

For Buttermilk
add 2 tablespoons of lime, vinegar, lemon or grapefruit juice to 7/8 cup of milk.

My Notes: I've adjusted this tip in my everyday cooking to make measuring a bit easier. I use 2 tablespoons to 1 cup of milk with no problems. I've found that lemon is a fairly easy acid to use as most people have a bottle of lemon juice in their fridge. Vinegar has the advantage of offering different flavor options to enhance your dish. Case in point: For apple pancakes/waffles in the fall, I use Apple Cider Vinegar to give my buttermilk that extra kick.

02 January 2009

Creme de Menthe Squares

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography

It is fitting that the first recipe in this project is one with a great story. My best friend and I decided to make these bars one day when we were about 12 years old. Not only did we pull a recipe out of my mother's box that contained alcohol, but the cap to the bottle of Creme de Menthe was stuck tight. The resulting search for an adult to open the bottle has long been a legend in both families!

My grandmother's version of the recipe was handwritten on a Michigan Bell notepad and dated "Summer of '82."

Creme de Menthe Squares

1 1/4 cups butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup green Creme de Menthe
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Bottom Layer:
In a saucepan combine 1/2 cup butter with the cocoa, heat and stir until well blended. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, egg, and vanilla. Stir in graham cracker crumbs and mix well. Press into bottom of un-greased 9x13 pan.
Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography
Middle Layer:
Melt another 1/2 cup of butter and mix with Creme de Menthe. With mixer on a low speed, add 3 cups of powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Spread over bottom layer and chill for 1 hour.

Image copyright MyrtleArt Photography
Top Layer:
Combine remaining 1/4 cup butter and semi-sweet chocolate chips in saucepan. Stir until melted and spread over mint layer.

Chill entire pan for 1-2 hours prior to cutting. Cut into squares or diagonals and serve.