Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Grandpa Grandma Dad

Grandma Dora, Grandpa and my Dad in the yard on their farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Grandpa was quite a bit older than my Grandma Dora, about ten years her senior. He had probably decided he was going to be a bachelor for life before he met and fell in love with Grandma. They had grown up so differently. She, an only child, raised in town, not having to worry about where the next meal would come from. Grandpa, one of the five children, who had to be “farmed out” to family and friends to be raised after his mother died because his father couldn’t do it on his own. Their backgrounds didn’t matter though. What they had, was faithful love for each other, with God at the center of their relationship. What a wonderful example they set.

They chose the difficult life of dairy farming and while they didn’t have much, they did what they could to make holidays special. Purchasing a few things as they could, but making many things homemade. I’m sure Grandma Dora made this recipe for Chocolate Peanut Clusters for Grandpa for Valentine’s Day. I can picture her candies in a simple metal tin with a red, cloth ribbon around it.

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Chocolate Peanut Clusters

  • 1 – 3 oz package chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine first four ingredients in heavy pan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.  Lower heat and cook slowly for three minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and quickly stir in peanuts and vanilla.  Beat until candy thickens and begins to lose its gloss.  Drop from teaspoon onto waxed paper, forming into clusters.

Candy1I began by combining the pudding mix, sugar and butter into my saucepan.

Candy2Then I added the evaporated milk.

Candy3I whisked everything together on a medium heat and brought it to a boil.  Then lowered the heat and continued to stir it for three minutes.

Candy4After the timer went off, I pulled it off of the heat and added the vanilla and salted peanuts.

Candy5It was looking delicious!  I stirred it until it started to thicken.

Candy7I dropped it by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper (I sprayed it with cooking spray, just incase.) that I had spread out before I began.

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I let them cool on the wax paper for a couple of hours.  As they cooled, they harded and I was able to peel them off of the waxed paper.

Chocolate Peanut Clusters are an easy homemade candy to make.  It tastes like fudge!  I hope you’ll enjoy making them for your loved ones, as much as I know Grandma Dora enjoyed making them for my Grandpa.

Happy Cooking and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wendy

Butterscotch Cookies

Grandpa and Grandpa Wichterman and Kado

My grandparents and their dog on a walk.

My dad told me a story about a summer day when he was about 7 or 8 years old.  He wanted his mom to go for a walk with him over to the 80 acres of land they owned (this land was separate from their farm – down the road, so he couldn’t go there by himself).  She was swamped with kitchen and garden work that day (as she often was).  He kept begging her to go for a walk and she kept resisting as she knew she had so much to get done.  But finally, she agreed to go.  They walked for about an hour down the lane and past the pond.  They picked flowers and spent the time together.  My dad still remembers this as an example of how kind and caring his mom was.  She gave him the gift of her time when it cost her to give it.

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I found this recipe for butterscotch cookies in Grandma Dora’s recipe box.  It appears to have been cut out from a newspaper.  My grandma also sacrificed her time by making all kinds of sweets for her family when she had other work to get done.  My dad and uncle probably ate many of these along with the other treats their mom continually made them.

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Butterscotch Cookies

  • 4 cups sifted enriched flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Sift together flour, soda, cream of tartar and salt.  Cream together butter or margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla extract.  Beat well.  Add flour mixture to creamed mixture.  Add nuts and mix well.  Shape into rolls and wrap in wax paper or press into cookie molds.  Chill until very firm.  Slice thin and bake on ungreased baking sheets in moderately hot oven (400 degrees F) 8 to 10 minutes.  Yield:  about 6 dozen 2-inch cookies.

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These cookies were pretty simple to make.  First, I stirred the flour, soda, cream of tartar and salt together with a whisk.

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Then I creamed the butter and sugar together.

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Next, I add the eggs and vanilla.

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The flour mixture was put in next and then the nuts (I used walnuts).

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I took the dough and made it into a roll (I made half a recipe, so I only made one roll.  If you make the whole recipe, you would probably want to make two rolls.).

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I then wrapped it in wax paper and refrigerated it for a couple of hours.

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I cut them, and put them on ungreased baking sheets.

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I baked them in a 400 degree oven.  The recipe said to bake them for 8-10 minutes.  I found that 6-7 minutes was long enough.

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These cookies turned out delicate, crisp and delicious!  Everyone who ate them raved about them!  I was very happy with how they turned out!  I hope you give them a try!

Happy Baking!  Amy

White Nut Bread

On Sunday afternoons, after church, we often go over to my parent’s house for lunch.  I always try to bring something to share, to help with the meal.  I found a recipe in my Grandma Dora’s recipe box for White Nut Bread.  I decided to make it because it seemed like a simple, easy recipe and something we could all enjoy with lunch.  When we got to my parent’s house on Sunday, I set the bread on the kitchen counter and began to help get the meal going and on the table.  As my dad looked at the loaf of bread I had set down, he said, “I remember that my mom used to make a nut and raisin bread that kind of looked like that.  She made it a lot and I always liked it.”  He didn’t know that I had actually found and made her recipe.  I said, “This IS your mom’s recipe!  I got it from her recipe box!  This is her recipe for White Nut Bread!”  I was so pleased that what I had made looked like and reminded him of Grandma Dora’s!  He said it was really good and tasted the way he remembered it!

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White Nut Bread

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup nuts (or more as desired)

Mix together all dry ingredients.  Add nut meats and raisins.  Mix in milk and the beaten egg.  Put batter into a greased loaf pan.  Let rise 1/2 hour.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

NB - Dry IngredientsI began by mixing together the dry ingredients.

NB - Nuts and Raisins

Then, after chopping up the nuts (I used walnuts) I added them to the dry ingredients with the raisins.  I actually used a full cup of chopped walnuts.

NB - Wet Ingredients AddedOnce the nuts and raisins were mixed in, I added and blended in the milk and beaten egg.

NB - In loaf panI poured the batter, which was very thick, into a greased loaf pan.  I covered it and let it rise for 30 minutes before putting it into my preheated oven.

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I baked the White Nut bread for about 50 minutes.  It was a beautiful golden brown loaf.  This recipe has very little sugar in it, only a half cup, so because I didn’t think the bread itself would be very sweet, I decided to add some frosting!!

NB - Frosted1I made a thick glaze of powdered sugar and milk and put it on the loaf while it was still slightly warm.

NB - Frosted and Sliced

Nothing makes a loaf of bread better than thick frosting!

NB - Frosted and Sliced3The bread had a nice, chewy outside and a delicious, soft inside!  The sweet raisins and frosting were a nice compliment to the nutty flavor of the walnuts.

NB - Fosted and Sliced2My family really enjoyed the White Nut Bread along with our Sunday lunch.  I was glad I had made it and that it turned out to be such a delicious recipe, one that reminded my dad of his childhood!

Happy Baking!

Wendy

Biscuits

My parents have a cherry table stored in their basement.  It belonged to my Grandpa and Grandma Dora.  It’s a beautiful, solid table, with lots of carved wood and intricate patterns. It has numerous leaves that fit into it, making it enormous in length.  I’ve always admired it and said that someday I hoped it would be mine.  My dad has told stories that during harvest time he can remember that cherry table, with all of the leaves in it, stretched out in their house with a large group of farm hands eating around it.  Farmers in the area would go together, farm to farm, helping neighbors bring in their crops, living by the adage, “Many hands make light work.”  When they would come to my grandparents farm, Grandma Dora, her mother Edith and the wives of the men in the fields would spend hours cooking and baking, trying their best to fill the men up with a hearty meal before sending them back out to the fields.

Grandpa on Hay Wagon

Grandpa on his hay wagon that was used during harvest time.

I found Grandma Dora’s recipe for homemade biscuits in her recipe box.  I’m sure she included them with the filling meals for the farm hands.  I had never made biscuits from scratch before.  Normally when I see a recipe that requires a rolling pin, I usually lose interest pretty fast.  But I had a recipe in my own recipe box for Creamed Chicken Over Biscuits that I had never made, but always intended to, so this was my chance.  I would whip this up for dinner!

Biscuit RecipeBiscuits

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • About 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 Tablespoons lard (or shortening)

Combine all dry ingredients in mixing bowl.  Add buttermilk and shortening.  Mix until soft dough is formed.  On a floured surface, knead a few times and roll out until dough is about 1/2 inch in thickness.  Cut with a floured biscuit cutter.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Biscuits dry ingI added all of the dry ingredients into my mixing bowl.

Biscuitswet combinedNext, I added the buttermilk and shortening.  (If you don’t have buttermilk and would like to make your own, we explain how in the recipe for Mrs. Magary’s Spice Cake.)

Biscuits DoughUsing the dough hook attachment on my Kitchenaid (though just a regular mixer attachment would be fine), I mixed the ingredients until a soft dough formed.

Biscuits Dough BallAfter flouring the counter, I kneaded the dough a few times until it felt like a good consistency for rolling out.

Biscuits Rolled OutI rolled out the dough until it was about 1/2 inch thick.  If you’d like a thicker biscuit, than don’t roll it quite as thin.

Biscuits CutSince I don’t have a biscuit cutter, I floured the mouth of a glass jar and used that to cut the dough.  I then placed them on an ungreased baking sheet and popped them into my preheated oven.

Biscuits BakedI baked them for about 12 minutes and pulled them out as they were starting to brown and open around the middles.

Biscuits Piled2They were beautiful!  Soft and flakey, splitting in the middle.  They even smelled delicious!

Biscuits Piled3I couldn’t wait to try them with dinner.  I covered them to keep them warm and made the Creamed Chicken, which is basically like the inside of chicken pot pie.

Biscuits ServedThe biscuits were delicious!  They were cut open and covered with heaping ladles of steaming Creamed Chicken.  It was a warm, hearty meal, one that reminded me of something that Grandma Dora must have prepared for the farm hands all those years ago.

Happy Baking!

Wendy

Aunt Dorothy’s Butter Cream Frosting

We went to Shipshewana this week.  I hadn’t been there in many years and I thought it would be fun to check out the shops and the Amish stores.  The Amish life is appealing to me for two reasons.  I like the simplicity and the sense of community the people share.

This frosting recipe has the name “Dorothy” written in the corner.  Dorothy was my father’s aunt, his dad’s sister.  She was one of the children that got split up when their mother died that I wrote about when I made Edna’s Butterscotch Cake.  I remember going to visit her home one time when we were on a family vacation.  She could have been Amish with her old fashioned clothes and furniture.  She and her husband owned a store that was connected to the side of their home.  The store itself was very anitiquated.  I remember it as similar to a “modern day” antique store.  Everything was very simple there.  I can imagine how she might have put together this simple “from scratch” frosting in her unadorned kitchen.

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Dorothy’s Butter Cream Frosting

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar (granulated) or 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook milk and flour until very thick.  Cool.  Add to creamed sugar and shortening.  Beat until very fluffy and add 1 teaspoon vanilla.

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I combined the milk and flour in a pan and began to cook them over medium heat.

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I have never made frosting this way, so I was curious to see what would happen.  In a short time, the milk and flour got very thick, like the recipe said it would.

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While the milk and flour mixture was cooling, I creamed the sugar and shortening together (I decided to use half shortening and half butter.).  I used the powdered sugar, but I am curious to know how the granulated sugar would turn out since the recipe says you can use either one.

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I then added the milk and flour mixture into the creamed sugar and shortening mixture and beat until it was very fluffy.  I then added a teaspoon of vanilla.

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The frosting turned out very fluffy and spread easily on the cake.  It is different than other frosting.  My brother-in-law described it as similar to the filling in a twinkie.  My sister-in-law thought it reminded her of a frosting that has cool whip in it.  I thought it was similar to doughnut filling.

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I hope you have a chance to give Aunt Dorothy’s Butter Cream Frosting and the cake recipe a try.  I think you will find it a simple delight.

Happy Baking!

Amy

Cake

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Every year at Christmas, we make a birthday cake for Baby Jesus.  I thought it would be fun to find a recipe from Grandma Dora’s recipe box to use for the cake this year.  We have already tried several cakes from the recipe box (brown sugar loaf cake, brown sugar cake, Edna’s butterscotch cake, koffee kuchen, Mrs. Magary’s spice cake, Mrs. Tucker’s short cake and date and nut cake).  When I came across this recipe, it was simply titled “cake.”

Grandma Binger and Dad

Grandma Dora’s mother, Edith, with my Dad.

I noticed that this recipe was copied in the box on two different recipe cards.  As we continue to look through the boxes, we are beginning to wonder if one of them originally belonged to Grandma Dora’s mother, Edith and the other one was Grandma Dora’s own.  Since I found this recipe twice I wonder if both Grandma Dora and Great Grandma Edith had it in their boxes.  So, it must be a good one!  The recipe is very simple to put together – really not much more work than a box cake mix.  I like that about it.

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Cake

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, unbeaten

Sift dry ingredients together.  Add shortening and 3/4 cup of the milk.  Beat 2 minutes, then add rest of the milk, vanilla and eggs.  Beat 2 minutes.

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I mixed the dry ingredients together.  I then added the shortening and 3/4 cups of milk.  I beat these together for two minutes.

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I then added the rest of the milk, the vanilla and the eggs.  I beat this for 2 more minutes and I had cake batter!

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I poured the cake batter into a 9×13 pan, but you could also use two round pans or even make cupcakes.

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There were no baking instructions on the recipe.  I decided to bake it at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.  It turned out very nice and golden.

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I was pleased with the way this cake turned out.  It was simple to make and free of all of the preservatives you would find in a “box cake mix.”  I used another recipe, Dorothy’s Butter Cream Frosting to frost the cake.  I will share that with you in my next post.

Happy Baking!

Amy

Baked Macaroni and Cheese – A Bonus Recipe

Do you have a “go-to” meal?  Whenever we come home and it’s already dinner time or I need to go grocery shopping, but haven’t had time, I always find myself whipping up Baked Macaroni and Cheese.  I was having one of “those” days so I decided it was time to fallback on my old “go-to” recipe.

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Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni (about 1 3/4 cups), cooked and drained

In a saucepan, combine the first 4 ingredients, stir in milk.  Add butter while stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil and whisk for one minute.  Stir in 1 3/4 cups cheese until melted.  Add noodles.  Pour into greased casserole dish.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Mac1I started by whisking together the corn starch, salt, dry mustard and pepper.

Mac2Then I added the milk and butter and whisked continually until it began to thicken.  Once it came to a boil, I whisked it for one minute.

Mac4I added the cheese and whisked it until it was melted.

Mac5I strained the cooked noodles.  (I like to pick fun noodles.  I hate boring elbows!)

Mac7Next, I added the cheese mixture to the noodles and mixed well.

Mac8I poured the cheese mixture into my greased 9 x 13 (I had doubled the recipe.) and sprinkled on the remaining cheese.  I popped it into the oven at 375 degrees and baked it for 25 minutes until it was bubbling and beginning to brown.

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I served it up with green beans and zucchini bread.  It was delicious!  It’s an easy and filling, made from scratch meal that my whole family loves!

Happy Baking!

Wendy