Wednesday, September 03, 2014

La Luna Cooks Mrs. Yoder: A Beginning

Over the weekend, the wife and I were at a bed & breakfast near Amish country and picked up a new cookbook, to add to the bajillion others clamoring for shelf space in our home. It's a small press publication out of Holmes County, Ohio, and we bought it along with such items as butter flavoring and cheese popcorn seasoning and alphabet pasta and cupcake polka dots and locally made salami. As we looked through it in our B&B room, I idly said that it'd be fun to cook right through it, as with Julie & Julia. Jeannene thought the idea was brilliant and we decided to do it---maybe even blog about it. So here I am before you, vowing to cook right through Cooking with the Horse & Buggy People: a Collection of Over 600 Favorite Amish Recipes from the Heart of Holmes County.

Immediately after I decided to do this, though, I realized there was a significant problem. 331 bread (many of them sweet breads), cake, cookie, pie, and other dessert recipes before we even get to salads (the majority of which involve Jell-o or Cool Whip or both). Hmm. Well. So, I instead decided to cook through the book by making the first thing in the "Breads" section on day 1, the first thing in the "Cakes" section on day 2, and so forth. There is also the problem of the entire canning section, when I am not at all a canner. I plan to skip that section altogether, punking out in a way that Julie would never have allowed herself to do. I am also skipping the "Home Remedies & Preparing Wild Game" section because I am not at all committed enough to do fried frog legs (although I have eaten them), roasted rabbit (because Thumper), or roasted grouse (because, where the heck does one obtain grouse when one is not a hunter?). I might brave the roasted goose, if I get to feeling particularly ambitious.

I have also looked at a number of the recipes in the sections I am doing and have decided I am probably not going to be pressure cooking, although friends assure me that while old-fashioned pressure cookers=scary, new-fangled ones="hot damn"! Then, there comes the incessant calling for "oleo." Very few of these recipes call for actual butter. And I am not going to be incorporating margarine into my cooking. Therefore, I will be subbing butter when I see "oleo." There will be some other substitutions along the way, I am sure, although I will go along with Velveeta. In fact, the bread recipe I am due to make today calls for a tablespoon of lecithin. Well, since the only other recipe I see calling for lecithin, also a bread recipe, says it's optional, I don't want to buy it. After doing a bit of research, I have discovered that egg yolk can be subbed, so that's how I'm going to try it. I have to say, I am rather surprised by how very many processed foods are in the cookbook. I kind of assumed it would be a great deal more from scratchy than it is.

Still other recipes have the problem of being, um, a little vague. Here is a recipe, from the "Cookies" section, for "Patties":
2 eggs
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1 c. flour (or more)
Stir eggs well with fork and add sugar. Add flour and milk alternately. A smooth batter is important.

That's the entire recipe. Yup. All of it. Oh, Mrs. Barkman, what on earth do I do next with your patties? My guess would be that I drop the batter on cookie sheets & bake them. We'll see what happens when I get to those. Most of the others don't have any cooking times or guidelines for what it should look like/feel like when done. I will do my best with those. I am not a baker.

So, this week's recipes are:
Today-Wheat oatmeal bread (I am afraid of bread-making. I suspect that by the end of this project, I will not be. I plan to channel my mother, who loves making bread, as I learn.)
Tomorrow-Hickory Nut Cake (If I can't find hickory nuts, I have learned that pecans are a sort of hickory nut. Too bad I don't live closer to my ma, whose home is called Hickory Hill due to all the hickories there. Walking around their yard, you have to be careful not to twist an ankle on all the nuts!)
Friday-Oatmeal chip cookies

I am giving myself weekends off. I suspect I will need them! We will also likely be giving away a decent portion of the food, since there are only two of us. I am certain friends, neighbors, kids, & co-workers won't mind having some bread or pie turn up.


Cousin Lenore said...

What a fun and challenging project! The recipe for "Patties" looks an awful lot like pancakes to me. I think I would put them in a skillet instead of baking them, but that's me.
Lecithin and egg yolk are both emulsifiers, so that should be a good substitution.
As you try making bread, you may find the dough less sticky and easier to handle if you chill it. Chilling slows down the rise and a slow rise allows more flavor development.
Your cookbook description reminds me of the church cookbooks in my own collection; the recipe contributors assume a certain level of skill and leave out details they think all cooks share. Good luck!

Daria de la Luna said...

I thought it looked not-cookie-ish (I seldom make pancakes, but now that I look with your comment in mind, it does look like that), but it's under the cookie section. Odd. Maybe I will try the skillet.

Thanks for the bread-making tips! I need them, for sure.