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Have you heard of Spry?

I'm not asking if you are spry.

picture of Spry cookbooks

Spry was a brand of shortening that is no longer sold, but I do remember my mom using it when I was a child. I'm pretty sure that one of these little booklets was hers and I purchased the other one at an estate sale. I love to find these old recipe booklets.

I got an idea from one of these booklets to make this pan spread years and years ago. It is something that I keep on hand and that we use all the time. Pan spread is the fore-runner of pan spray that most of us use in some form or another today. Pan spread is used to grease and flour baking pans all in one step.

picture of pan spread

To make pan spread all you have to do is mix together equal amounts of vegetable oil, solid shortening (such as Crisco), and flour. I generally use 1/2 cup of each. I mix it up in my mixer to get it nice and smooth, but you could use a wire whisk if you desire. I usually mix up a batch right before I bake a cake or something and then just scrape out the bowl and reuse it to mix the cake. I store the pan spread in this little Tupperware container in the refrigerator where it waits all ready for the next time I need it. It works great for any baked product that you would normally grease and flour the pan before adding the batter. I use the commercial sprays for other things when the pan just needs greasing.

Don't you just love the little label that DH made me with his label maker?

By the way, did you know that shortening got its name because it "shortens" gluten strands in baking and helps tenderize cakes and quick breads?

This is one of my favorite kitchen tips. You can find more tips like this on Tuesdays over at Tammy's Recipes.


A Look at Another Book

Not much cooking went on around our house this weekend since Rob and I were at our churches' annual deacons' retreat up at the Wilds Christian Camp in Rosman, NC. We did eat very well while we were up there, however. The Staff did their very best to see that no one languished from hunger.

At the retreat we had two general sessions and two sessions geared toward the ladies to encourage us in our role as wife of a deacon. The meetings were excellent and I think we all came away encouraged to do more to meet the needs of others in our church.

Since I don't have a new recipe to share, I thought I would do a post about another one of my new books, Mice on Main. It's the little skinny book on the top of the stack that I forgot to turn so you could read the spine. (Bear with me - I'm new to this!) Here's a picture of the book:

picture of Mice on Main book

This one is a children's book that I got from my son Mark and his wife Katie. I had mentioned this fall that I would have to get the book sometime to have on hand for when our grandson, Drew, is a bit older. So, thanks to them I am all set. Here's a picture of Mark and Katie from this Christmas:

picture of Mark and Katie

The book tells about the nine bronze mice which inhabit Main Street here in Greenville. Here is a picture of all nine of them:

picture of nine mice on Main

The city has written out directions that are available in many locations so that you can have a scavenger hunt up and down Main Street trying to find them. It's a fun activity and I would encourage any of you to try it sometime.

I will close with a quotation from our retreat:

The crown of the home is Godliness.
The beauty of the home is order.
The glory of the home is hospitality.
The blessing of the home is contentment.


A is for Apron

I love aprons. I have made many aprons over the years, both to wear myself and to give as gifts to other apron-wearing friends. For the last few years this has become my favorite apron pattern:

picture of pattern

Here is one of my current favorites made from this pattern:

picture of blue apron

Knowing my love for aprons, DD Nora (pictured here with her dog, Paisley)

picture of Nora and Paisley

got me this book and fabric for Christmas:

picture of apron book and fabric

The book contains a section on vintage aprons, basic construction techniques, making aprons from other items such as dishtowels and skirts, and patterns for 25 different aprons. It is chock full of apron ideas. The patterns are included in the book in miniature form and you have to enlarge them 400 percent. Megan and Nora have each chosen a design and fabric that they like, so I will keep you posted on any finished aprons in the coming months. I've got my fabric washed and ironed and now I need to go to a copy store and get my pattern enlarged.

How about you - do you wear aprons and do you have a favorite style or pattern?

Edited to add: Attempting to use another pattern in this book I ran into great difficulties with the pattern. I decided to check at Amazon to see the customer reviews and find if others had run into similar problems. I was amazed/dismayed at all the bad reviews! Most people feel like the book has great pictures and ideas for the aprons, but many of the patterns do not go together well and the fabric requirements that are listed are not accurate. I can give an illustration of that: for the apron I was trying to make the pattern listed 1/4 of a yard for the waistband and ties. It then proceeded to tell me to cut a piece 7" wide by 70" long. As you can see, something is missing here. So, as many of the people who commented on the Amazon site wrote I would recommend that you get this book from the library and use it for inspiration and then buy a commercial pattern if you actually want to make an apron.


Something new for lunch today

We had a few new items on the menu for lunch today.

I had made an appetizer for New Year's Eve and had more of the ingredients on hand so I made another batch for today. They are called Broiled Stuffed Pepper Wedges and I found the recipe at Tammy's Recipes.

Here they are before broiling:

picture of raw peppers

Here they are ready to eat:

picture of peppers ready to eat

The next new recipe was from this book that I got from my friend, Marge, for Christmas.

picture of cookbook

It is basically a stir fry of asparagus, snow peas, frozen peas, and green onions with a sauce. The sauce was OK, but the next time I plan to just season the vegetables with soy sauce and sesame oil after a quick stir fry. I thought the combination was really pretty and tasted good.

Here's a picture of the finished stir-fry:

picture of stir-fry

The final new recipe was from this book that I got for Christmas from my friend, Sandy.

picture of cookbook

Sandy knows that Rob and I both have read a number of the Cat Who... mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun. The beauty of this particular recipe was that it used up the half can of leftover jellied cranberry sauce that I had in the refrigerator left from my DSIL's recent visit. You just make a box of jello with one cup of boiling water, 1 cup of sour cream and one cup of the cranberry sauce, let it thicken slightly and pour into a baked pie shell. I did have to run the mixture through the blender because the cranberry sauce wouldn't blend in with a whisk.

picture of slice of pie

We had all these new dishes with an old family favorite - Pizza Rolls. I will have to post that recipe on another day.


I am an applesauce snob

Don't get me wrong - if you invite me over for dinner I will gladly eat whatever applesauce you place before me, but if it's up to me I will not buy the canned or jarred stuff from the grocery store.

Why is it that the texture of commercially prepared applesauce is so different from homemade applesauce? Can anybody out there in the webosphere tell me? I have a hunch that they just grind up raw apples, add sugar and citric acid and put it in the cans. To me it tastes mealy rather than smooth like homemade.

It is possible to get really good commercially canned applesauce - they have it in France. It's called compote de pommes and it's delicious.

Every fall we make several trips up to the Hendersonville, NC area to purchase apples. We go most often to Lyda Farms. We eat a lot of them raw and I use some for some of our favorite apple dishes such as apple pie, apple dumplings, etc. After a while the apples start to shrivel up a bit and then it's time to make applesauce.

Today I used up the last of the fall apples and made a batch of applesauce and some apple butter. One tool that we purchased many years ago makes making applesauce a lot easier - the Victorio Strainer.

Here's the process:

Wash the apples and remove any leaves.

picture of apples

Cut the apples in quarters and remove any bad spots.

picture of apples

Place in cooking pots with a small amount of water and cook until they are very tender - the cut surfaces will look fluffy.

picture of apples

Assemble the Victorio Strainer.

picture of strainer

Place the cooked apples in the hopper and crank the handle.

The applesauce comes out of one side and the peels, cores, and stems come out the other!

picture of strainer

Sweeten to taste, place in jars, and process in a hot water bath.

Here are the finished jars. This should keep the doctor away for some time.

picture of sauce