Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fantasy Fudge/Granny's Fudge

premarriage betty

The world changed for the better on November 12, 1926.  Theodore and Sophie Satherlie, along with their children LeRoy, Eleanor, and Ken welcomed Betty Corinne Satherlie to their family.  Years later, Sophie would call Betty’s arrival “a special gift from God.”  All who knew Betty share that sentiment.  

While Betty was growing up, she shared a room with her sister Eleanor in their house in Minneapolis. Raised during the Depression, she remembered playing simple games like hide-and-seek, kicking a can down the alley, bouncing balls off of the garage roof, and tending to her dolls. She spent her summers at Salvation Army camps where she loved campfires, but didn’t love the 7 a.m. flag raisings. During high school, she was the editor of her school paper and maintained Honor Roll status. On football game days at South High School, she would say “hello” to her teachers in the hallway, walk into the classroom, and then climb out the window into her dad’s ’38 Chevy filled with her friends. They would then drive to the game, honking all the way down the street. 


Betty met Cliff Franzen when she was twelve years old and married him a decade later. He taught her to play cornet in The Salvation Army band, and she had a crush on him for many years.  When Betty was sixteen years old, she kept a diary that detailed the highs and lows of her teenage life. On January 8th, she wrote:  “I tried my best squeeze-on-the-sofa technique on Cliff, but Tunney had to be between us. Phooey, that Franzen man must be immune.” On an off day she wrote,  “Tonight I felt so low I could have walked under a snake.” In reference to “Cliffy,” she alternated between adoration and frustration: “I wish that guy would get up some spunk and come around.” He did eventually come around, and the two wed in 1949. 


The couple raised their children Doug, Debra, Diane, and Denise, and Betty filled their childhoods with Great Adventures. Betty thought the Waltz was a glamorous dance, so she taught it to Doug in their living room. They did not have any music, so Betty sang the tune. After a bath, she would wave at Debbie and Diane and say, “Goodbye girls, I am going down the drain!” One early morning, Betty woke Denise up, telling her they were going on a great adventure. As the sun rose over Lake Hiawatha, Betty and Denise crawled on the beach, pretending to be alligators. 


Betty found professional success in her thirty-four year career with Northwestern Bell Telephone Company/U.S. West as a supervisor in the employment and business offices, but did not rest after her retirement: she had six grandchildren to play with! She sledded down hills with her grandchildren into her late 70’s, played Old Maid and Barbies with them for hours, and took them to the park near her house so often that the grandchildren affectionately renamed it “Granny’s Park.”  She laughed so loud and hard watching funny movies with her grandchildren that they’d end up on the floor of her family room or the theater. 


One of Betty’s many well-developed talents was scraping and eating warm fudge out of a pan and sharing boxes of Junior Mints. She loved bedtime and being in her jammies, when she could be “snug as a bug in a rug.” Betty could spend hours watching cardinals, blue jays, and sparrows outside her window. Anyone who met her immediately knew how much she loved to sing: she sang even more than she talked, and almost as much as she breathed.  Her favorite song was “Jesus Loves Me.” She found and brought delight to almost all situations, and always said her greatest accomplishment in life was her children.  

The last two decades of Betty’s life were shared with her dear friend, Bob. Together they spent time with family, mastered oil painting, and went on adventures around Minnesota and the world. They volunteered at Augustana, attended Bible study, and sang constantly. God blessed them with this relationship after they both lost their spouses. 


During the last year, Betty and her sister Eleanor were roommates again. They filled the Clarebridge Memory Facility with music, as Eleanor played piano and Betty sang. They were in separate rooms until Betty kept sneaking out of her room at night to join Eleanor, and they often slept face-to-face. Within a few weeks, the girls were moved in together. 

Today, her children call her blessed.  They say no finer woman has ever graced this earth.  Betty brought to this world grace and joy; she was a tower of strength in adversity, and a woman who never said an unkind word about anyone.  Betty lived her life as instructed by God, with great faith, hope, and love.  The greatest of her gifts was love.

betty and lauren

Fantasy Fudge: The Recipe on the Marshmallow Creme Container 


3 c sugar
1 5 oz. can evaporated milk
¾ c unsalted butter
1 package (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1 7 oz. jar Marshmallow Creme 
1 tsp vanilla 


Turn on Glenn Miller's Moonlight Cocktail. Line a 9x13 pan with foil. 

Boil sugar, butter, and milk, stirring frequently. When it reaches a rolling boil, stir constantly until the mixture reads 234 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. (Be very careful!) 

Add chocolate and marshmallow creme and stir to melt. Add vanilla and mix. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Scrape a wooden spoon on the sides of the pan and enjoy the hot fudge, the way my Granny loved it best. After the fudge is cool, cut into small squares. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits


I found this recipe when I was a senior in college and lived in a studio apartment where my kitchen was my bedroom was my living room was my office. In that apartment, I made these biscuits with a wooden spoon and a bowl. This is the first time I’ve made them with a stand mixer, so I can attest that you’ll be fine without one. I own biscuit cutters, but they are in a storage box in the basement so I used a beer glass instead. You could also use a coffee mug, or cut them with a knife. Almost anything goes! (Yeah, college!) 


I have absolutely no childhood memories of hot biscuits or a kitchen dusted with White Lily flour.  (I remember tubes of crescent rolls, which are culturally-relevant memories in their own right.) Biscuits do not comfort me with thoughts of home, but rather fall alongside other foods I’ve adopted as my own in the mishmash palate of things I have made and shared. These things, in particular, I made in college with my boyfriend who lived two hours away. We baked biscuits or orange sweet rolls on Saturday nights and watched the entire James Bond series over the course of a year in that tiny studio, pausing the scenes while we took baking pans out of the oven or dried dishes. This is how you assign meaning to food you did not grow up with: something is good and you share it.  There’s the context you were missing. 


Before this cheddar version, I had only tried making one biscuit recipe: a cracked-pepper green onion interpretation that tasted like baked potatoes. The combination of butter, salt, and cheddar tugs at my heart a lot more. These biscuits are very forgiving and taste excellent alongside soup. They freeze so well that you can almost replicate the fresh-baked experience by grabbing two or four out of the freezer and microwaving them for a few seconds (a desperate snack). Eat them fast if you do this, though. There’s no time to lose, there’s no one home to see you do it!


Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits
Almost entirely from Ina Garten


2 c all-purpose flour, plus a handful to coat the cheese, and another handful to flour your workspace
1 tbsp baking powder
¾ tsp kosher salt (the original recipe calls for 1 ½ tsp, but I found this to be overkill–remember that the tops are also sprinkled with salt)
1 ½ sticks very cold (stick in the freezer while you prep and measure your ingredients) unsalted butter
½ c cold buttermilk
1 egg
1 c grated extra-sharp Cheddar (buy it in a block so you can avoid the anti-caking agents coating the cheese in the pre-shredded kind) 
Another egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water (this is your egg wash)
Salt for topping (a crunchy sea salt works great!) 


Heat oven to 425. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add the butter (and quickly, because it’s going to melt), which I do by grating the sticks with a cheese grater into the mixing bowl while the mixer is running on low. 

Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl and beat together. Add this mixture to the flour/butter combo and mix until moistened. 

Toss the shredded cheddar in a pinch of flour and add the cheese to the dough (mixer or arms on low). Mix until barely combined–you do not want to overwork your dough or the biscuits will be hard. 

Flour a counter or a big wooden cutting board, dump the dough out of the bowl, and knead the dough a few times (I think 3 turns is enough).  Roll out the dough so it is about ½ to ¾ inch thick. Dip your round cutter into flour and cut out biscuits. Move the cut biscuits to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can also turn the leftover scraps of dough into biscuits, though they won’t be as uniform as the first batch. 

Brush egg wash lightly over biscuits and top with a small sprinkle of salt. A silicone brush is a perfect tool for this, but a folded-up paper towel also works. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until starting to brown. Eat while warm. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Raspberry Blackberry Frozen Greek Yogurt


When I was living in Russia, I took an overnight train to Moscow and had to miss dinner. I had been there for three months and only missed dinner once before, when a few of us had tired of home cooking and we saw a Pizza Hut on the way home from school. I called the women I lived with (И. and З.) on my cell phone and triumphantly explained, “I will not be home today. I do not eat at home. We are eating in a restaurant!” (Imagine the entire dialog in Russian, their sentences significantly better crafted than mine.)

I heard a long pause and И. asked “Is it someone’s birthday?”


“In the future, you will only go to restaurants for birthday parties! We do not eat in restaurants just because we want to.”

For weeks after, they reminded me of Pizza Hut when I sat down at the table. In mock surprise, И. would look at me when I entered the kitchen and say, “You’re here! There are no restaurant parties for you tonight?” З. was a kinder woman and did not endeavor to make me feel bad, but seemed to interpret my one night off from her cooking as a judgment on all her food. She was sorry there was no pizza, and I was sorry I had ever made that call.


I told them I was going to miss dinner the night I left for Moscow, and after attempting to convince me to take a later train, И. conceded: “At least it’s not for a restaurant!” И. and З. sent me to Moscow with a plastic bag filled with my missed dinner: an egg sandwich, three hard boiled eggs, four pieces of bread, six apples, three oranges, five cookies, nine grapes (И. chased me down the stairs as I was leaving with a bowl of grapes and instructed me to take some “in case I got hungry”), a bag of crackers, an entire package of butter tea biscuits, four lemon hard candies, and two giant bars of expired chocolate.


On the train, I opened those butter tea biscuits, and they must have been in that tiny kitchen soaking up the air for years because they tasted just like it. Cooked onions, dusty, and stale. That pizza had tasted like nothing familiar, and with a bite of an old biscuit, I found that I really did miss dinner.


I found this lovely cookbook on sale and knew it would be coming home with me when I read this instructive list that echoed the elaborate trappings of an И. and З. picnic bag: “If you go down to the woods today…take a frying pan, a wooden spoon, some gingerbread, oat-cake batter, cheese, ham, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic oil, and potatoes with you.” I like the idea of being adequately prepared for a journey, the forethought that comes in collecting good food from home to bring with you somewhere new. It would be more appropriate for me to have chosen the oat cakes with ham and gruyère from the cookbook, but it has been so hot and this recipe sounded delicious. For a recipe so simple, there are all these words:

Raspberry Blackberry Frozen Greek Yogurt
Adapted from Alice’s Cookbook
Note: The original recipe in Alice’s Cookbook is called “The Easiest Frozen Yogurt with a Blackberry Swirl.” She warns that if you over-mix the berries into the yogurt base, you will have a “purplish yogurt instead of a swirl.” This sounded awesome to me, so I embraced the full union of berries and yogurt and also added raspberries.
For the berry syrup:
1 vanilla bean
2 cups berries (I used 1 cup blackberries and 1 cup raspberries), plus more for serving
½ c sugar

For the yogurt base:
¾ c sugar
3 c plain full-fat Greek yogurt
Vanilla seeds scraped from bean

Berry syrup:
I would recommend making the berry syrup at least two hours before the yogurt, lest you find yourself with yogurt in the ice cream maker and still-hot syrup (I thought I would…test…this possibility for you. Nothing bad happens! It just, obviously, melts the frozen yogurt and the whole thing will take longer to freeze).

Slice the vanilla bean down the center and scrape out seeds, reserving for the yogurt base. Measure berries and sugar into a heavy saucepan, add vanilla bean, and heat over medium until the berries start to fall apart. Use the back of a wooden spoon to smash the berries against the pan sides; you want the berries to be almost fully broken down. When the berries form a thick syrup (after about 10 minutes), you’re done.

Put the berry syrup in the refrigerator to cool it down and watch a few old episodes of the X-Files.

Yogurt base:
Beat together the yogurt, sugar, and vanilla seeds until combined. That’s it!

The union:
Do you have an ice cream maker? If not, you can try to make one by putting a gallon bag of yogurt base inside a larger plastic bag filled with ice and rock salt. My instructions will assume the former.

Pour yogurt base into ice cream maker and turn on. Go check on your berry syrup; if the syrup is completely cooled, take out the vanilla bean. If you do not want seeds in your yogurt, you can strain the syrup through some cheesecloth.

Once the yogurt base has thickened and partially frozen (about 15 minutes), pour in the berry syrup “to taste” (I had a fourth cup left before I decided “That’s enough of that!” and saved the rest*). Continue churning until the yogurt has reached the consistency of soft serve. There is a point when it just won’t get any colder in an ice cream machine, so scoop yourself a preview cup of the soft yogurt and put the rest in a large container in the freezer to firm for a few hours (or overnight). It gets very firm in the freezer, so let the frozen yogurt sit at room temperature for a few minutes before you scoop and serve.
*Do you have extra berry syrup? Put it on waffles or pancakes; swirl it into non-frozen yogurt; put it on top of the frozen yogurt you just made; drizzle it over pound cake; freeze it into ice cubes and put them into summer cocktails; mix it into balsamic vinegar and olive oil to make a great fruity dressing; eat it by the spoonful. All of those are endorsed options.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shame on me.


If you are ever three posts into your blog and start to do distracting things like graduate and apply for jobs and move back home, then at least end it cleanly. No one likes to drag things out. Put up a “I’ll be back soon!” post—maybe if you do, you will be back soon. I wouldn’t recommend abandoning your blog in the state I left mine. That’s a gross cheese picture, I know. (Class project!) I wish I had made and posted some brioche, maybe some caramels, or even a bowl of cereal before entering blog stasis.

My “About Me” is now inaccurate; I graduated last June. I will update it when I figure out the best way to talk About Me now. Instead of a student-housing kitchen, I have the pleasures and complications of using my parents’ kitchen. My own dishes and pans remain in the closet under the stairs in our basement, but I claimed one shelf in the kitchen as mine and filled it with my bread-making tools: a bench scraper, a kitchen scale, a thermometer, a small jar of razors, and a kilogram of grey French sea salt.

In November, I (I dwelled on this verb choice for a long time since my contribution was mostly inactive) encouraged a small bowl of flour and water to cultivate natural yeast and am the proud feeder/mother of a bread starter/baby. If you think you can keep a gerbil alive, then you have the competence to maintain a bread baby. When things get too hectic, you can store it in the refrigerator for a few days. That’s where mine is now, but mostly because I am lazy, not hectic (a bread baby is a forgiving pet). I will show you the bread, I promise.

Also, have you ever ignored the intended use of an electrical appliance and made the best coffee of your life? I’ll show you that too. A few promises at a time as we ease back into this. You won’t have to wait until September 2012.


(A man's hand holding a man's coffee.)