Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nana's Bean Soup (Family Recipe)

A cold day and a bowl of hot soup are a great match.  Digging into my Nana’s recipe box once again, I found this family favorite.  I vaguely remember her making this soup as we rarely visited Pennsylvania during the cold months – I always stayed a few weeks during the summer!  I do however remember Nana teaching my mom this recipe.  It was one of my parent’s favorites.  Funny that as a child I didn’t care for soup so much but as an adult I absolutely love it, and these family recipes are the best.  Even though I didn’t eat the soup as a child, the smells that fill the entire house bring back all those memories of family togetherness….


1 ½ lbs. dried Navy Beans (rinsed and soaked overnight)

1 small head of cabbage (finely chopped)

2 ham hocks or ham bone with some left over ham. (I usually use the latter)

3 medium potatoes (peeled and diced)

1 large onion, chopped

Water to cover ham bone or fill 2/3 pot

Salt and pepper to taste


1.    Place ham bone/hocks in large soup pot add the water, set on stove on high. 

2.    Add beans, onion, potatoes, cabbage and salt and pepper to taste. 

3.    Bring to a boil, then turn to simmer for 3-4 hours.

4.    Stir occasionally, add water if necessary.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nana's Raisin Bread

This is a family traditional recipe that just the smell of this bread baking stirs more memories than my mind can handle.  Great memories of sitting in the picture window of 34 Graystone Lane, Levittown, Pennsylvania with my Nana slicing raisin bread to eat with our hot tea.  There are also the memories of my mother’s kitchen with her Mother-In-Law supervising the kneading and baking process of the bread.  These two women were extreme influences of who I am today because of the love they showed me. (If it weren’t for that great love they’d killed me long ago!)  The Raisin Bread recipe was ALWAYS used at this time of the year – Christmas.  We didn’t leave milk and cookies for Santa when I was growing up.  We left him Raisin Bread and Egg Nog! 

The aroma of Raisin Bread baking in the house will cause a man to gnaw his arm off if it were keeping him from the bread.  This bread is an ALL DAY work of love, maybe which is why it tastes so wonderful!

The ingredients:

5lb bag all purpose flour

½ lb light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp salt

1 heaping tsp cinnamon

1 heaping tsp allspice

1 heaping tsp ground cloves

½ cup of molasses

½ cup of milk
2 Tbs instant coffee

3 packs dry yeast (rapid rise)

1 ½ lbs raisins

3 eggs

4 cups of potato water (water from boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes)

1 cup of Crisco shortening

The Directions:

1.     Soak raisins in a large bowl with hot tap water for 30 minutes then drain.

2.    In a small bowl put yeast 2 Tbs of sugar and 1 ½ cup of water (check yeast instructions for water temp - usually 120-130)

3.    In large bowl pour half of the flour, and other dry ingredients making a hole in the middle of the flour.

4.    Add 2 ½ cups water, eggs, shortening and yeast mixture to the hole and let stand until little bubbles start forming. (mine took about 20 minutes)

5.    Add flour and raisins a little at a time.  Knead until it won’t stick to fingers and forms into a ball which is springy to touch.

6.    Cover bowl and keep warm until doubles in size (about 2 ½ hours)

7.    Cut into separate loaf sizes, then roll into loaves and place into greased and floured pans.

8.    Cover and let rise to double in size again.

9.    Bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes.  Remove from pans and spread tops with Crisco or Margarine.

* Note - this batch did not turn out with quite the same texture as hers, (didn't rise enough) but it sure tastes like hers!
     ** After I made this batch I was putting the recipe back in my grandmother's recipe box.  I was looking through the box of recipes (slips of paper, index cards, magazine clippings, on is actually written on a grocery store recipt and another on a church bulletin!) and I found on a slip of note pad paper a list of ingredients and at the top was written RAISIN BREAD.  It only had the ingredients listed as is customary for my Nana.  She knew what to do with the ingredients once she had them!  You see the other recipe that I used was compiled from my mother and my aunt from trying to watch and make Nana's bread over the years.  The differences in the two recipes are: 1/2 cup of molasses, 1/2 cup of milk, POTATO water, 3 eggs instead of 2, and a cup of granulated sugar.  Using these requires having a little extra flour to use to make the kneading process, but that is probably why my Nana always had a huge tub of flour on her bread table...


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shrimp and Grits Casserole (Personal servings)

Crock pot grits for breakfast plus broiled shrimp for supper can add up to only one thing…


I took the leftover grits and put them in a bowl adding a bit of salt and pepper.   I sautéed some chopped green pepper and onions in a little olive oil.  Chopping the leftover shrimp and adding it with the sautéed vegetables, I mixed all of it with the bowl of grits.


Spray two ramekins with Pam and sprinkle some sliced green onion into the bottom of the ramekins. (this will be the top when it is finished!)  Pack the ramekins with the mixture - then refrigerate.

Next morning, I preheated the oven to 350.  I placed a ¼ cup of grated cheddar cheese on top and baked for 25 minutes. 

Enjoy!  I did!!