Friday, December 31, 2010

We Can Do It!

I was saddened to learn that the woman who inspired this famous World War II poster died yesterday at the age of 86. Her name was Geraldine Hoff Doyle. She was 17 when a United Press Photographer took a picture of her working at a Michigan metal factory in 1942.

Artist J. Howard Miller, who had been commissioned by the government to create a series of motivational posters for factory workers, saw the photo and created this poster. While the face in the poster is Geraldine's, her daughter says she did not have those muscular arms. According to her daughter, Geraldine was 5'10" tall and very slender.

Over time, the poster has become an icon of women's empowerment. "We CAN do it" and we do. During World War II, women further demonstrated their rightful place in the American workforce. They contributed to this nation's infrastructure and help shape the course of American history. They served their country at a time of great need and demonstrated to the nation that they were and are equal to the task.

As for Geraldine, she didn't last very long at the factory, taking a job instead at a soda fountain because she was worried factory work would keep her from playing the cello. As fate would have it, her future husband walked up to that soda fountain. Geraldine was married to Leo Doyle, a dentist, for 66 years. They had six children, 18 grandchildren, and 25 great-grandchildren. She didn't recognize herself in this poster until 1984, when she saw it in Modern Maturity magazine.

Read more about Geraldine here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cookie Time At Grandma's! - Day 5

Every year at Christmas, my grandmother made Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls. She'd divide them up and then send them home with various family members. It was a ritual we all looked forward to, and dearly missed after she passed in 1998.

A few days ago, a package arrived in the mail from daughter Dannielle. Opening the box, there were several little bags of peanut butter balls! Believe me, they taste EXACTLY like the ones my grandmother used to make. Then it dawned on me that she had taught Dannielle how to cook.

I don't know the exact recipe that Grandmother and Dannielle used, but I found a fun recipe in Christmas Cookie Jar by Gooseberry Patch that I think you will enjoy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

1/2 cup butter
18 ounce jar creamy peanut butter
16 ounce package powdered sugar
3-1/2 cup crispy rice cereal
18 ounce package milk chocolate bar, chopped

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Blend in peanut butter. Stir in powdered sugar and cereal. Form into one-inch balls and place on wax paper. Melt chocolate on top of double boiler. Dip balls in chocolate to coat. Arrange on baking sheets to cool and set.

Makes about 5 dozen.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cookie Time At Grandma's! - Day 4

Our extended family doesn't get together as often as we should, yet we always find time to celebrate Christmas together either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We each bring a dish to share. Dad and sister Dannielle can be found in the kitchen baking up delicious Christmas treats.

In years past, we've toyed with the idea of making a gingerbread house. Some years we've made the pieces by hand. Other years, frankly, we "cheated" and bought a kit at the local grocery store. What we've basically decided is that making gingerbread cookies is the safest way to go. They're just as fun to decorate, and there are no catastrophic roof cave-ins to contend with. The recipe we use for Gingerbread cookies was given to me by my friend Mary Ross. It's exactly like the one my grandmother used to make:

Mary's Gingerbread Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup light and dark molasses
2-1/4 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cream butter and sugar. Blend in butter and molasses. Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Chill dough for two hours. Roll out 1/3 inch thick on lightly floured board.

Cut out shapes using a six inch cookie cutter. Draw dress details with toothpick and decorate with currants, red hots, or the candies of your choice. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F. Makes approximately 15.

Alternatively, the dough may be rolled thin (1/4") and cut with standard sized cookie cutters. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees F. Makes 5 dozen.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cookie Time At Grandma's! - Day 3

Unforgettable is one of my favorite little cookbooks. Combining American history with favorite recipes from the decades of the 20th Century, this book is packed with interesting information and mouth-watering recipes. It details how cocktail parties emerged for the first time during Prohibition. Meatloaf, chili and casseroles helped stretch food budgets in the 1930s, and food using vegetables from Victory Gardens sprung up in the 1940s.

Tucked in and among the recipes for Eggs Benedict, Meatless Meatloaf and Tuna Noodle Casserole, Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow topping, Zucchini Bread and Quiche Lorraine, there is only one cookie recipe. Toll House Cookies are definitely a cookie you'll want to include in your holiday baking.

According to the book, Ruth Wakefield of Whitman, Massachusetts created the recipe in 1933. She thought she could save time by adding in bits of semi-sweet chocolate to her cookie batter but they didn't melt as she had hoped. She named them after the Toll House Inn she and her husband owned. The Nestle Corporation, which began selling chocolate chips in 1939, purchased the rights to the Toll House name. The rest, as they say, is history.

Did you know that chocolate chip cookies account for more than half of all the cookies baked in the United States? I know I've sure baked a lot of them. Haven't you?

Toll House Cookies

2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine,
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 package (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine flour, soda and salt. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture, mixing just until combined. By hand, stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees F for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookie Time At Grandma's! - Day 2

Does your family or friends have the tradition of swapping cookies at the holidays? The way it works is that each person bakes enough cookies to share a dozen or so with other participants. You bake the cookies; then get together to swap them out for others. That way, you have a bigger selection of cookies for holiday get-togethers.

Today's recipe is from The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook. By the folks at Good Housekeeping, this little book has contains 60 large-batch recipes to bake and share with others. Recipes include Lemon Cranberry Shortbread, Raspberry Linzer Thumbprints, Chocolate Crinkles and Coconut Macaroons, just to name a few. Like our other featured cookbooks, it is available at Grandma's Attic.

The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook is a small hard cover book with inside spiral bind for ease of page turning. As an added bonus, it also includes tips for hosting a swap and festive blank cards for sharing recipes.

Classic Sugar Cookies

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups butter (4 sticks), softened
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt until blended. In separate large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low; beat in eggs and vanilla until mixed, then beat in flour mixture just until blended, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.

Divide dough in half, then divided each half into 4 equal pieces; flatten each into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough until slightly less than 1/4 inch thick; keep remaining dough refrigerated. With floured 3- to 4-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; reserve trimmings. Place cookies 1 inch apart, on two ungreased large cookie sheets.

Bake until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. With wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cookie Time at Grandma's!

This is the time of year when the smell of freshly baked cookies wafts out of the kitchen straight into our hearts. It's cookie time at Grandma's!

If you like baking cookies, you will love the recipes we'll share from now until December 25th, each one from a different book available at Grandma's Attic. Today's cookie recipe comes from Christmas Cookies by Gooseberry Patch. This fun book contains cookie after cookie after cookie. There are quick-to-fix recipes like the one below that start with store-bought mixes, and others that you make from scratch. Recipes for candy and mixes are also included.

Since I couldn't decide which recipe I wanted to use, I had Melissa close her eyes, and randomly open up the book. Super Simple Snickerdoodles is the recipe that she landed on. Outlined below, it sounds totally yummy!. To order the book, just click on this Christmas Cookies link.

Super Simple Snickerdoodles

18-1/2 ounce package Yellow Cake Mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
Garnish: cinnamon-sugar

Combine cake mix, eggs, oil and cinnamon in a large bowl; mix well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Let cool for two minutes on baking sheets; transfer to wire racks to finishing cooling.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.