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Raven's Own Recipes

by John Raven, Ph.B.

I thought we would start the New Year off with some recipes you can't find anywhere else but here. I have never been real big on following recipes for all my cooking. I like to try new things and alter existing dishes to fit my needs.

I know we are supposed to eat our vegetables every day so we can grow up to be big and strong like Popeye. All the politically correct menus call for vegetables, either raw or steamed. There is nothing wrong with that. It's just that I've never met a steamed vegetable I liked.

Raven's vegetable medley
This has been adapted from my pot roast recipe.

You will need:

  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 head cabbage, chopped
  • 1 cup of diced carrots
  • 1 large potato, cubed
  • 1 medium summer squash, sliced
  • 1 can tomatoes, diced or crushed
  • 1 teaspoon beef granules or two beef flavor cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a medium-size pot or Dutch oven with tight fitting lid sauté the onion and bell pepper in a little shortening or oil of your choice until the vegetables are tender. Add the can of tomatoes. Add the beef flavoring. [Do not add any salt as the beef flavoring and the tomatoes contain a lot of salt.]

Stir everything real good. Add the cabbage, carrots, potatoes and squash. [You can use other vegetables but I would avoid peas, lima beans and corn.]

When the pot comes to a simmer, cut the heat down a tad and cover. You want a slow simmer. Check it a couple of times to get it right. Stir a couple of times when you are checking. In about an hour all the vegetables should be tender. Overcooking this mix a bit does not harm the quality. Just make sure you don't scorch it. If it gets too dry, you have too much heat; cut the heat down and add a bit of water.

This is an excellent side dish for grilled meats and sausages. If you want to serve it with chicken, use chicken flavoring instead of the beef. [This is a good dish for you slow cookers, too. However, you need to sauté the onion and pepper before you start.]

Two-and-One Bread
I am a big bread fan. We old Germans eat a lot of bread. I was full grown before I knew any bread other than store bought white, the occasional homemade light bread or cornbread.

As my inventory of recipes grew so did my liking for a varied bread menu. Recently I was searching for a bread to accompany my beans and stews. Cornbread is the usual fare here, but it tended to be a bit crumbly for my tastes, so I started playing around with the ingredients and came up with a version of camp bread that is a wee bit different and is very sturdy for all your sopping and push board needs.

Here's what you will need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached is best)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Work in the olive oil. Add enough warm water to make a thick dough. Place dough on an ungreased baking sheet and flatten to one-inch thickness.

Bake in preheated 425°F oven about 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown and loaf sounds hollow when thumped. Cool on a wire rack.

Crisp topping for fruit
This topping goes with any fruit that can be made into a pie. I for one think making piecrust is a lot more work than it is worth. The store-bought piecrust is near cardboard in texture and taste. So what is a mother to do?

In my case I obtain a can of pie filling and go from there. The topping is very simple.

The regular recipe calls for:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 stick of butter (half cup), melted butter
  • A sprinkle of salt
Put the butter on to melt. Don't scorch it; take your time. [If you start the butter before you start measuring the rest of the ingredients, it will be melted about the right time.]

Mix the first three ingredients well, and add the sprinkle of salt. Work in the melted butter until everything is coated. [If there are any lumps in the brown sugar, break them up or they will scorch in the cooking process.]

Put your fruit in a baking dish or pan. [If using fresh fruit do it just like you were making a pie. Canned filling, just dump it in.] Sprinkle on the topping evenly. You want just enough to cover all the topping.

Bake in preheated 375°F oven until topping is brown and filling bubbling. It will probably take 15 or 20 minutes.

Raven's version
I was not real happy with the rolled oats in the original recipe so I substituted a cup of chopped pecans for the oats.

I am partial to Lucky Leaf pineapple pie filling. Their cherry pie filling works very well also. I think any of the canned fruit fillings would work, but I doubt that using a pudding type filling would be successful.

The above recipe makes enough topping for two bakings. You can divide the topping before you add the butter and save half for next time. Put it in a zip bag and keep in cool, dry place. Add half the measure of butter when you prepare half the topping. But you knew that.

Coming up next month
Next month we are going to work on developing a "Texas Cooking" Texas-style barbecue sauce. For a good while I have not expended the time or effort to make a good Texas-style barbecue sauce. I am not happy with the bottled sauces even though there seems to be ten thousand different ones to choose from.

So stock up on ketchup; we use a lot of it. And don't forget the Lea & Perrins either.

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