Freaking Out Squares

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Grandma Gloria's Home Cookin'

We wrap up the summer with some PA Dutch recipes belonging to my grandmother, Gloria, whom you may recall as the one who was always after me about my diet and posture, for all the good it did. PA Dutch food has never been a favorite of mine, I have to confess. The quintessential PA Dutch recipe is a stew of sorts called chicken pot pie. No, it's not chicken pie--that's a whole 'nother thing, which the rest of the world knows as chicken pie, the thing with the crust and the succotash and the gravy. Chicken pot pie is not a pie at all but a kind of stew, as I said, comprised of chicken broth, egg noodles, corn, and celery. Thrilling. But PA Dutch cuisine is nothing if not plain--heavy on the starch, with little to no spices to glam things up. I like my salt and grease and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. See why I had to leave home?

This first recipe is heavy on the grease, and it also covers your RDA of vegetables too! (Snark.) You don't want to eat too many vegetables because, as James Lileks points out, vegetables are for Communists, and if you eat too many of them, you'll spend the rest of your life in Esalen flying kites and communing with flowers.

Hot Bacon Dressing

Ingredients:
4 slices bacon, diced
2 tbs. chopped onion
2 tbs. vinegar
1 to 2 tbs. sugar
3 cups coarsely shredded cabbage or other torn greens

Instructions:
Cook bacon in skillet until crisp. Drain excess fat. Add onion, vinegar, and sugar to bacon. Heat through. Pour over cabbage, toss and serve at once. Makes 1/4 cup dressing.

This next recipe is a staple of all good PA Dutch women. It's the only dessert I never could stand, but it is very PA Dutch.

Shoo-Fly Pie (Fine sense of irony!)

Ingredients and Instructions:
Make a liquid of:
1 cup old-fashioned molasses
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp. (rounded) baking soda

Make crumbs of:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
Pat of butter the size of a large walnut

Line a 9" pie pan with pastry. Fill pastry with alternate layers of liquid and crumbs--liquid first, then crumbs. Bake at 450 until crust begins to brown, then finish in oven at 350 until firm--about 1/2 hour.

Don't have a pastry recipe? Use this one, or do the storebought thing.

Pie Shell

Ingredients:
4 cups flour
1 3/4 cups Crisco
1 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 cup cold water
1 tbs. vinegar

Instructions:
Mix ingredients together. Roll dough flat. Line pie pan and bake according to shoo-fly pie recipe. If a pie made entirely of molasses is too much for you, as it is for me, I reckon you can just use canned pumpkin or cherries.

*** *** *** *** ***

Happy chowing, kids! Make sure you get back to your regular broiled fish and steamed broccoli schedule tomorrow. As for me, I'll be hitting the road for PA Dutch country tomorrow afternoon, but I'll send dispatches.

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