The sun is coming up behind me as I write my 384th and last
Jenny’s Kitchen column. I’ve shared 1,152 recipes over eight
– and I still can’t get my column done before deadline.
The sun is coming up behind me as I write my 384th and last Jenny’s Kitchen column. I’ve shared 1,152 recipes over eight years – and I still can’t get my column done before deadline.
Our dog is at my feet. The cat is on the stairs. Everyone else is sleeping, so it’s quiet and the sun is rising behind me.
This is my favorite place and time to write – in the morning at the kitchen table. I feel comfortable here, and I think a lot of people feel the same way.
Why is it that kitchens are the center of so much? People try to have parties in dining rooms – but it’s the kitchens where people want to be.
And it’s not because only pleasant things happen in the kitchen. In our house, our kitchen table has often been the site of teenage meetings, those times when all parents have to have a sit-down with someone between the ages of 14 and 20 to discuss who-knows-what that happened who-knows-when. I’m sure you know exactly what I mean.
Regardless, this is where our daughters come when they want to hang out and talk while I’m cooking. It’s where we try to have a gathering about four times a week – family dinner time.
If you’ve read my column for more than about six months, you have read my regular sermons on the importance of family dinner.
To me, it’s one of the most sacred times. I go to church to be quiet, to contemplate, to free my mind from the everyday and think about blessings and good actions.
I go to the dinner table to contemplate, to free my mind from the everyday and hear about what’s going on with my family.
Though eating takes less than 15 minutes, there’s time to talk while we’re cooking, setting the table, and then sitting down together and giving thanks for all that we have. It’s a touchstone time.
I thank my husband, children and my extended family for putting up with my recipe testing and chronicling of all of our lives.
And I thank my many readers for eight years of your recipe contributions, tips in the grocery aisles and general good will toward this column.
Your letters, e-mails and comments truly were the engine behind the scenes. I hope you’ll continue to share with me.
Until we meet again, I wish for you good food, creative energy, steady work, a happy family and a cozy home to shelter all of these.
Through the eight years of the column, I have kept my own small blue binder, and when I find a recipe that is particularly lovely, it is first published in the column and then hand-copied into the “blue book.”
You’ll see there is a theme here: simple recipes, mostly served over my favorite food – mashed potatoes, lots of Tabasco. I don’t really like complicated.
I don’t really like too many ingredients, though there are exceptions. Anyway, here are 10 of my blue book recipes; I wish there was room for more. I hope you like them.
Grandmother’s Green Beans (for 60)
• This recipe was first published in 1996 and has been reprinted a few times since then. I no longer remember where I got it. It’s home food, no doubt about it. But its utter simplicity has a certain allure of its own.
10 pounds fresh green beans
6 cups water
10 oz. bacon, in 1-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
Step 1: Place all in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook 45 minutes.
Step 2: Remove lid and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes more.
The Dufner’s Favorite Meal
• This recipe comes from one of the most entertaining and practical cookbooks around: The Farmhouse Cookbook. It’s a snap to make and really tastes good, whether you bake it for 1, 2 or 3 hours. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. It’s a great recipe for a day when you really don’t know when everyone will arrive for dinner.
1 chicken, cut into pieces
2 T. butter
1 T. oil
Salt and pepper
2 T. Herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 T. paprika
Whole garlic cloves
Step 1: Heat oil and butter until hot. Brown chicken pieces, salting both sides.
Step 2: Put chicken in casserole pot, drizzle 1/3 of pan juices on top. Sprinkle generously with pepper and add, in this order: Herbes de Provence, bay leaves, onions, paprika and garlic cloves. The onions should smother the chicken.
Step 3: Bake at 350 degrees for 1, 2 or 3 hours; 2 is my favorite. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes. This is delicious and SO fragrant.
• Reader Terry Wolfe came up with this recipe years ago. It’s still one of my favorites plus it’s a family pleaser. The girls love to dunk bread in the gravy or pour it over rice.
1 whole chicken, cut up or 8 chicken breasts
1 can beer
2 T. soy sauce
2 cans cream of chicken (or trade 1 can for cream of mushroom)
Step 1: Salt and pepper chicken; roll in flour. Put chicken in dish. Pour soups, beer and soy sauce over chicken.
Step 2: Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Serve with rice and green salad.
Tabasco Pork Tenderloins
• These tenderloins never fail to please. They’re so quick on the barbeque – only 25 minutes at most. I like to serve with mashed potatoes and a salad. Perfect simple party food. This recipe first ran in 1997.
2/3 cup soy sauce
2 T. minced ginger
2 T. country-style mustard
2 crushed garlic cloves (or more)
4 good shakes Tabasco (or more)
1 ½ lbs. pork tenderloins
Step 1: Marinade tenderloins in zip-lock bags for 2 hours or overnight (this is best).
Step 2: Grill tenderloins over hot fire for 25 minutes, turning often. Let stand 5 minutes. Slice and serve.
Lou’s Lucky Lamb Marinade
• When I started writing this column, our wonderful department secretary was Louella Kendrick. Though Louella has moved on to apartment managing and volunteer work with the Chamber of Commerce, her recipe has stayed in the blue book.
1/2 cup salad oil
2 T. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 small bay leaf
2 tsp. chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, mashed
2 small onions, sliced thin
8 lamb chops
Step 1: Mix all ingredients together except chops. Fill two plastic zipper bags with half of marinade and half of chops. Marinate 8 hours to 1 day, flipping bags occasionally.
Step 2: Broil over hot fire for 7 minutes per side. If you want, grill the onions next to the chops on the barbeque – they’re a delicious garnish. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.
Crock Pot Corned
Beef and Cabbage
• Many people wouldn’t think of making corned beef and cabbage unless it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Why not? Think about it: it’s a meal in a pot; done when you get home; perfect for a plate or a bowl. And the next-day sandwiches aren’t bad, either. A funny thing: I once got a letter from the “Crock Pot” people. I had printed a Crock Pot recipe and they wanted me to put a “trademark mark” next to the name Crock Pot. And, if I didn’t want to do so, I needed to use the term “slow cooker” instead. I could contact their corporate attorney if I needed further clarification.
Seasoned beef brisket (corned beef)
1 head cabbage
Step 1: Put carrots in bottom of Crock Pot. Add brisket and top with halved potatoes. Add water to cover. Put sliced pieces of cabbage on top. Cover tightly.
Step 2: Cook for 8 hours on low in your Crock Pot.
Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
• Honestly, I never watch Oprah. I might if I were home at that time, but then if I did, my whole day would be put into a spin because I don’t usually watch TV until 10pm, and then I only like NYPD Blue, Law & Order or Seinfeld. Anyway, I digress. Oprah has a great potato recipe, and I’ve adapted it. Here’s my version.
5 lbs. red potatoes
2 ½ cups butter, cut into pieces
2 ½ cups cream horseradish sauce
1 small container sour cream
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
Fresh pepper and lots of it
Step 1: Leave skins on the potatoes; boil in water until tender. Mash together with all of these ingredients, adding pepper and garlic salt to taste.
MFK Fischer Cauliflower Casserole
• I found this recipe in a novel and figured out how to make it. The author described this dish with such passion that I couldn’t resist trying it. It’s simply wonderful. Even my daughters like it – and they never liked cauliflower before.
1 cup whipping cream
½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 ½ cups shredded Gruyere cheese
Step 1: Steam a whole cauliflower until tender; this doesn’t take very long, maybe 8-10 minutes (test often; it’s done when your fork sinks easily into cauliflower with just a little tension). Drain cauliflower and put into a casserole.
Step 2: Meanwhile, put cream into a small pan and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until reduced by half. Stir often; this will take about 5 minutes.
Step 3: Drizzle cream over cauliflower, sprinkle with pepper and cover evenly with cheese.
Step 4: Bake in 425 degree oven just until cheese is lightly browned, 4-6 minutes. Add salt to taste.
• This corn pudding could be eaten for dessert; it’s that good. Instead, make it for a family dinner. It’s a sure winner with young and old alike. Goes great with a juicy roast or lamb chops. First published in 1997.
1 12-oz. can whole kernel corn
2 17-oz. cans creamed corn
5 lightly beaten eggs
½ cup sugar
4 T. cornstarch
1 ½ tsp. seasoned salt
½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. instant minced onion
½ cup milk
½ cup melted butter
Step 1: Pour into 3-quart, greased casserole. Bake at 400 degrees for ½ hour. Stir once thoroughly. Bake for another ½ hour. Serve to acclaim.
Tabasco Sesame Noodles
• I’ve never met John Madden, but I’ve cooked with him plenty. Now, that would be fun – John Madden in my kitchen. Anyway, try his fabulous Tabasco sesame noodles. It’s hard to stop eating them once you start. They go great with the Tabasco tenderloins, by the way.
1 lb. spaghetti
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup orange juice
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup sesame oil
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 T. cider vinegar
1 T. Tabasco
1 tsp. salt
2 large green onions, sliced
1 medium cucumber, sliced
Step 1: Cook spaghetti; drain.
Step 2: In a large bowl, mix everything together except noodles, onions and cukes.
Step 3: Add spaghetti and onions to mixture; toss well.
Step 4: Serve warm or cold, garnished with cucumbers.
• OK, I lied … There are 11 recipes. I just have to include one fabulous, easy dessert. These have been served several times on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve, or at birthdays, or just for a dinner party “ta-da.” Enjoy.
3/4 cup whole milk
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
1 large egg
2 T. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
3 T. rum
Whipped cream (for the top)
Step 1: Heat milk slowly, just to boiling. Put all other ingredients into blender except rum and whipped cream.
Step 2: Slowly add hot milk and blend 30 seconds. Add rum and blend 1-2 more minutes.
Step 3: Pour into serving dishes; chill at least 2 hours. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Serves 4.
Christmas cookie donations
Don’t forget … cookie drop-off is Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 22 and 23, at the Cadei’s, 7761 Rosanna Street in Gilroy. Drop them off Wednesday from 6 to 9pm or Thursday 9am to noon.
We are hoping to have donations of 100 dozen cookies for the homeless men, women and families who stay at the Gilroy Armory. If we receive this much, we will be able to give out cookies when the homeless leave the shelter in the early morning on Christmas Day and on New Year’s Day. This could be a wonderful family project; I thank you in advance for your help.