Posts Tagged: recipe

Grandma Henning’s Potato Salad

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Norma Esther Schmidt Henning’s
Magical Potato Salad

Photos & text by Aryn Henning Nichols • Illustrations by Lauren Bonney
Originally published in the Summer 2016 Inspire(d)

GrandmaHenningGrandma Henning was one of the hardest-working women I’ve ever known. She and her husband, Irvin, raised six kids – 20 years spanning between all of them – on a farm in Ludlow Township outside of Waukon, Iowa.

The big white farmhouse was where grandma grew up – her parents bought the property in the early 1900s. It had five bedrooms, a food cellar, apple orchard, and big garden filled with potatoes, onions, asparagus, and other vegetables. There were cows, hogs, and chickens – my dad and his brothers and sisters grew up eating their own eggs and drinking their own milk.

“We didn’t buy much at the grocery store,” my dad, Ron Henning, says. “Back then, most of the farms were that way – a little bit of everything.”

PotatoSalad_IllustrationsBut it was mainly a dairy farm. There was a great big kitchen – it had a couch on one side next to a rocking chair, and a great, big, well-worn wooden table that would seat at least eight. The chairs were a mis-matched mixture of metal and different shades of wood.

“It was kind of an all purpose room,” my dad says.

“Did grandma like to cook?” I ask. “Ha, well.. I don’t know…” Dad says. “She liked to cook certain things. She really liked making bread – it was sort of therapeutic. Once a week she had one of these big metal bread pans and she would knead up the bread and make eight to 10 loaves and some sort of sweet rolls.”

“Eight to 10 loaves of bread a week?!” I ask.

“Yeah, we’d eat one loaf of bread at breakfast alone. We’d cut it up and put it on the grill – we didn’t toast it – and eat it with eggs and fresh milk. For dinner, everybody’s favorite meal was mashed potatoes, some sort of meat, and some sort of vegetable. We rarely had dessert.”

All of that was before my time, of course. When I knew Grandma Norma, she was living in an apartment above my dad’s auto shop in downtown Waukon. I’d go to work with dad (in lieu of daycare), and when I got too annoying for his crew, I’d be sent up to Grandma’s. I’d ask her about all her plants – she had a ton. She’d tell me the names of each, one-by-one, and then she’d fix me something for lunch. It was always simple, served up on her round, flowered cloth-covered table in her eat-in kitchen.

After, we’d go back on the patio to check on flowers out there, or for a quick walk around town. Walking was Grandma’s only mode of transportation, besides rides from friends and family; she never wanted to learn how to drive. Finally, she’d send me back down to my dad – usually because she needed to get going for a volunteer shift at the Senior Site in Waukon, or with the ladies groups at Zalmona Church.

For church events and at Henning family reunions, Grandma would often bring potato salad. I remember the first time I tasted her recipe. I raved (like I do), “Oh my goodness, Grandma! This is the most amazing potato salad I’ve ever had! What magical ingredients are in this?”

My introduction to this potato salad happened to coincide with my college efforts at becoming a cook, and Betty Crocker had been tutoring me in the potato salad genre that summer.

Grandma scoffed a bit, just like my dad does these days, their German heritage shining through, “Auck. It’s nothing special.”

“No seriously, Grandma! What’s in this? Is it a secret? Is it illegal?!” At this point, she’s either starting to get a little miffed or totally embarrassed at my gushing.

“Well, there’s potatoes, you know. And eggs. And salad dressing. I put a little evaporated milk in there too,” Grandma says.

“Evaporated milk?! That’s it! I must get this recipe,” I exclaim.

I asked grandma about it a few times after that, but we both always forgot to follow through on it. Grandma Henning eventually moved into an assisted living apartment, but still walked and volunteered quite a bit. The reunions became less frequent, though, and by the time she passed away in 2008, I had never gotten the recipe.

So when we decided to write about generational recipes for this Inspire(d), I immediately thought of that magical potato salad. And I pestered my dad, aunts, and uncles to get the details for me. There were calls to family friends made, and some digging through recipe files, but eventually, we found it! You can imagine my excitement! It was one of those “as many potatoes as you can fit in your pan” sort of recipes, so I’ve nailed it down a bit more for you here. I truly can’t wait to bring this to family reunions for years to come! Enjoy!

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Aryn Henning Nichols loves cooking and telling stories. How lovely to do it all at once!

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PRINT RECIPE HERE
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Norma Henning’s Potato Salad

(Says Aunt Kim: “This was probably her take on the Schmidt family recipe. She made it from memory and didn’t have it written down.”)

Boil 6-7 medium red potatoes in well-salted water, drain and allow to cool
Boil 3-4 eggs and cool

Cut up potatoes and boiled eggs (smaller pieces are my preference)

Mix 1/2 cup mayo (or salad dressing) with 1/4 cup evaporated milk
Add 1 tbls plain yellow mustard
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp white vinegar
Finely chop 1 medium onion and 2 stalks celery

Mix all together and enjoy.

Tip: Really salt the boiling water well – you can add salt to the finished potato salad, but I find adding extra salt makes the potato salad runnier the next day.

Read more Roots of Food: Family Recipes and Stories here!

Easy Maple Granola Recipe!

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Easy Maple Granola Recipe & images by Benji Nichols, Inspire(d) Media 2016

There are few things that smell more heavenly than granola baking in your oven. We had the fun experience of having a surplus of real maple syrup in the pantry, which acted as the catalyst for developing this recipe. Whether you’re snacking away, packing on the go, or topping your favorite yogurt or ice cream snack – this is an easy, fun, relatively healthy granola recipe that you can tweak to the liking of your friends and family.

Don’t be afraid to add or subtract ingredients (like the shredded coconut – or types of nuts) to suit your granola tastes. The wheat germ acts as a nice intermediary and binder, but isn’t necessary if you can’t find it in the store or have eaters with wheat sensitivity (we buy it in bulk at our local Coop). This recipe easily doubles, but you will need to either use 2 baking sheets, or adjust the baking time. If you start to smell an overly ‘toasted’ smell in the final half of baking, pull the granola right away. Overall, this recipe is incredibly giving – and forgiving! Don’t forget to share…

Easy Maple Granola Recipe:

Dry Ingredients:

2 Cups rolled oats
1/2 Cup Pecans or walnuts
1/4 Cup Almonds
1/3 Cup Wheat Germ
1 Tablespoon Pepitas (dried pumpkin seeds)
1 Tablespoon shredded coconut (optional)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/3 Cup (real) maple syrup
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil (melted but not hot)
1 egg white (optional)

Add Later:

1/2 Cup Dried Cranberry (chopped)

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Directions:

Mix all dry ingredients together, set aside.

Combine all wet ingredients. The egg white is optional and acts as a binder that will allow the granola to have more clusters in final form. If you choose to add the egg white, make sure that the coconut oil is not too warm (to avoid cooking the egg white).

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until dry ingredients are evenly coated. Spread out onto either lightly oiled, parchment, or (our favorite) silicone sheet (Silpat) covered baking sheet.

Bake 325 degrees for 30 minutes, stir/turn the granola with spatula, bake an additional 20 minutes and let cool. Granola will not get crisp until it cools.

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Once granola is mostly cooled (or as long as you can stand it) add the chopped cranberries and gently stir to mix evenly. Once fully cooled, store in an airtight container  – if you really want to go over the top, throw a few chocolate chips in once cool. Lasts easily up to 2 weeks (Yeah, right! It’ll be gone long before then!!!)

Enjoy!

 

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Mississippi Mirth: Chicken Noodle Soup

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A Chicken in Every Pot
…Or the magical powers of chicken noodle soup
By Jim McCaffrey • Originally published in the Winter 2012-13 Inspire(d)

Which came first the chicken or the egg?

Honestly? Who cares. Both are delightful ingredients for a winter/cold/flu season staple: chicken (egg) noodle soup!

Chicken noodle is not just any soup. It’s a soup that is cherished by many cultures throughout the world. Many different versions abound. Today ours is made from scratch with handmade egg noodles. Oh yeah baby, not your mama’s Campbell’s Soup, that’s for sure.

So lets get started. Broth is the key ingredient. You can use canned or boxed chicken broth. NOT!! (Well, maybe in a pinch, I guess. NOT!!!) Using a homemade broth in soups is just so far superior to the store-bought versions. There are a couple of ways I make my own broth (and you can too!). At the restaurant, we bake a lot of chicken. And, consequently, we have a lot of pan juices that we save. Think of it as liquid gold. We let the juices cool, and skim off any fat that might rise. The juices are then poured into plastic containers with tight lids. These we date using freezer tape and store in our freezer for future use. We pull out as needed, oldest first. Since we are constantly using the juices for soups and gravies, we don’t have to worry about shelf life, but if you’re not breaking out the big pots as often as us, a year is the max to store and I personally would toss after six months. When ready to use, thaw your stock-base out in the refrigerator the previous day. This base is naturally concentrated, so all you have to do is add water and seasonings (salt, pepper, herbs to taste) to fill out your soup. This works well if you have leftover chicken that you’d like to toss into a soup.

Another great way to make broth is to take a whole plucked and thawed chicken, remove the liver and any excess fat, and put it, along with about three to four inches of water, in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook for about an hour. Usually, when the chicken floats, you are good to go. To make sure, use tongs and grab a leg. If it becomes detached, chicken is ready to go. If not, simmer a few minutes longer. Remove the chicken and let broth cool. Skim off the fat and it’s time to make soup, with your chicken AND stock ready to go.

Congratulations! You have just passed Chicken Broth 101!

Noodles

Let’s move on to handmade egg noodles. Every good egg noodle has a story behind it. Mine goes like this: I was living in Iowa City in the early 1970s. Every few weeks I would come back to Decorah for the weekend. I have some great friends, Steve Olson (Ole) and Juanita Riveria (Goochie). They were living up by Burr Oak, it was winter, and I arrived at the door. “Come on in.” I walked into the kitchen and here was Goochie covered with flour, rolling out dough that almost completely covered the four by six-foot wooden kitchen table. “What’s going on, Goochie?” I queried. “Well, Barb Winter gave me a couple of chickens and I’m going to make chicken noodle soup. But first I have to make noodles and you can help.” I reply, “Ok, I’m in, but I’ve never done this before.” Fortunately, for Goochies sake, I am a quick learner and soon we were slicing the dough into long noodles and draping them onto any available space to dry. Backs of chairs, hung over counters, off of the table, etc. Man, noodle art at its finest. It would have made Andy Warhol proud. Thanks for the lesson, Goochie! If you have never had fresh-made egg noodles you are in for one of life’s great treats. I guarantee it is bliss.

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After all that noodling, it’s time to really sweat. Veggies that is. Like your mother always said, eat your vegetables! I like to sauté the veggies that I put in my soups. When they start to get soft, they also start to lose their water. I find this accentuates the vegetable flavors. The unami of soup flavor. Add it all to the pot. Yummy, to say the least. Of course we still have to have seasoning. The key word here is fresh. Just remember fresh is best when it comes to herbs. In almost all of my soups I like to use fresh thyme. It is extremely versatile. Then I crank it up with additional herbs. My mom was a big fan of sage. Although she primarily used dried herbs, she always said sage should be a big part of poultry dishes. And I always listened to my mom. You should too. Your mom, I mean, not mine. So into the chicken soup the fresh sage goes.

Now that your chicken soup is seasoned, put it to use for another season: the giving season. It’s all about sharing with your loved ones and friends, and a great way to start off this year is to divvy up a steaming hot bowl of chicken soup for everyone. Pass around some crusty bread and pour a crispy white wine. Enjoy the camaraderie and spread the love. This also works for the cold/flu season as you share the healing powers of chicken soup. It’s truly a magical winter concoction.

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Jim McCaffrey is a chef, author, and co-owner with his family of McCaffrey’s Dolce Vita restaurant and Twin Springs Bakery just outside Decorah. He is author of a humorous cookbook titled “Midwest Cornfusion.” He has been in the food industry in one way or another for 40 years.

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PRINT RECIPES HERE
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Chicken Noodle Soup

1 3 1/2 -4 lb. whole chicken
Water
1/3 cup olive oil
6 stalks celery, chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Homemade egg noodles (recipe to follow)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
1 Tbl fresh sage, minced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Remove liver and excess fat from chicken. Place in a large pot and cover with water by 3-4 inches. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about an hour. Meanwhile, pour olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté celery and carrots over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add onions and garlic and sauté 3 minutes more. When chicken is thoroughly cooked (see column directions) pull from broth and let cool. Let broth cool somewhat and skim broth off. When chicken is sufficiently cooled remove skin. Remove meat from bones and dice. Bring broth back to a simmer. Add sautéed vegetables and noodles. Add lemon juice and spices, adjusting as needed. Soup is good to go when noodles are nice and chewy.

Homemade Noodles

1 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
Water

Make a mound of flour on your work surface. Make a well in the center. Whisk eggs and salt. Place in well. Slowly, by hand, mix flour and egg mixture until eggs are incorporated. If the mixture is to dry, add water a little at a time until you have a pliable ball of dough. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Divide in half. Roll out each half as thin as possible. Take a sharp paring knife and cut into strips, however wide you want your noodles to be. Hang off of counters and chair backs to dry, about an hour.

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PRINT RECIPES HERE
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