Tag Archives: Baking

Gluten-Free Banana Bread


Gluten Free bananna BreadThis recipe is from our Mennonite church cookbook, a two-volume set my mother-in-law was the driving force behind getting together years ago, and one my late sister-in-law contributed. Today is the anniversary of Catarina’s death last April, so this is in memory of a strong, beloved Christian woman. I’ve adapted the recipe for gluten-free and the bread turns out great. It’s a favorite in this household. No one can tell it’s gluten-free.

Gluten free bananna bread on sunporch1 Cup Sugar (I used half a cup), 1/2 Cup Shortening (I use organic coconut oil or light olive oil for baking), 2 Eggs, slightly beaten (I use good-sized eggs)

3 mashed bananas

1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking soda (be certain it’s gluten-free), 1/2 tsp. baking powder (Rumford is gluten-free)

1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Jules, and it’s super, but you can try another brand. You may need more or less flour depending on how large your bananas and eggs are)

*3/4 cup chopped nuts (Optional, and no)

Cream together the sugar and shortening (or coconut oil, etc.). Add eggs and mashed bananas. Combine dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture. Blend well. Bake in greased bread pan at 350 for about 50 minutes, but check at 35 because it may take less time depending on your mixture. This is a moist bread and freezes well.

After learning I have a form of Interstitial Cystitis this winter (on top of severe gluten intolerance), and adopting the IC diet, I found bananas are a trigger food for me, but I can tolerate this bread. Catarina was extremely health conscious and would approve my adaptations of her recipe.

*Images by daughter Elise

More On My Valley Roots & Old Time Mennonite Molasses Cookies


This delicious recipe is from the Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter.  My husband gave me this cookbook eons ago and it’s stained from many uses over the years and is a family favorite.  I noted that Amazon is selling this book new for $599.99 which boggles the mind.  They do, however, have other options that run as low as $6.99.  That’s probably what mine is worth.

Also of interest, my hubby is related to the author on his mama’s side.  When I married him, I married into the Mennonite community and church.  We attend a New Order Mennonite Church, but he’s related to all sorts of ‘Orders’ including Old Order Mennonites who drive horse and buggies (similar to the Amish).  Many of our neighbors are ‘Old Orders’ and it’s common to see buggies pass our farm at most any time of the week, but particularly on Sunday morning when a stream of horses pulling buggies briskly trot past us on their way to church.  The Old Order Churches have hitching rails out front.  Very quaint.

Needless to say, I am rather unusual in this conservative area being a historical romance author, but people are quite tolerant and do not shun me.   Bear in mind that I wasn’t raised in this community but came from the English/Scots-Irish Presbyterians who settled nearby Augusta County several hundred years ago.  We always referred to ourselves as the ‘Scotch Irish’ but have since been told this isn’t the politically correct term.  I remember my grandmother saying she was ‘too Scotch’ for this or that, meaning too cheap, and so on.

My husband is of German/Swiss descent.  His ancestors settled in nearby Rockingham County about the same time mine did in Augusta.  For generations, the German Mennonites and Scots-Irish Presbyterians did not mix. Both groups were clannish and regarded the other as highly suspect.  Even though we’re all Christians, Mennonites thought Presbyterians were practically heathen, and Presbyterians frowned on their pacifistic neighbors.  Relations between these very different people have improved over time.  I doubt many marriages were made between them before ours, but we’ve been happily wed for many years.  However, my husband is what they call a militant Mennonite and not a true pacifist.   I’ve probably been a bad influence, though I suspect it’s his nature.    🙂

One of my favorite cookies is this old time molasses variety.

1 cup shortening, 4 cups flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 cup dark molasses, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1/4 cup hot water, 1 1/4 tsp. soda

Sift flour and salt together and cut in shortening as for pastry. In another bowl, combine molasses and sugar. Add egg and beat well.  Dissolve soda in hot water and add to molasses mixture.  Combine crumb and molasses mixtures and stir until well blended. Chill dough for several hours in refrigerator.  Turn out on a lightly floured board.  Roll to 1/4 inch thickness.  Place 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 until a deep rich brown. After baking these cookies will be cracked on top.  Makes 4 dozen cookies.

*Old Order Mennonites and Amish do not like to have their pictures taken so the only photos we have are shot from a distance or angled so that you do not clearly see their faces.   The long line of wash is from an Old Order farm near us.  These pics are by my mom and husband and taken where we live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

*Please note, I included a recipe for soft ginger cookies from the Mennonite Cookbook in the comments to this post.

Old Time Mennonite Apple Dumplings


Autumn is the season of apples, all kinds, colors, sweet, tangy, mild, or full of flavor, and it’s the perfect time of year to make apple dumplings.  This is an old recipe from The Mennonite Community Cookbook.

6 Medium Sized Baking Apples, 2 cups of flour, 2 1/2 tsps. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2/3 cup shortening,  1/2 cup milk.

Sauce:  2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups water, 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon or nutmeg

Pare and core apples.  Leave whole. To make pastry sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in shortening until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle milk over mixture and press together lightly, working dough only enough to hold together. Roll dough as for pastry and cut into six squares and place an apple on each. Fill cavity in apple with sugar and cinnamon. Pat dough around apple to cover completely. Fasten edges together securely on top of apple.  Place dumplings 1 inch apart in a greased baking pan.

Pour the sauce over them made as follows:  Combine brown sugar, water and spices in stove top pan.  Cook for five minutes.  Remove from heat and add butter.

Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Baste occasionally during baking. Serve hot with rich milk or cream.  Savor.

Old Time Mennonite Pumpkin Pie Recipe


I found this recipe eons ago in the Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter.   This vintage collection is fun to read simply for the colorful descriptions of rural life, back in the day,  and the quaint illustrations.  It’s also a treasure of old-fashioned recipes and useful ‘how tos.’  The by gone age this book hearkens back to is reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder, though some Old Order Mennonites and Amish still live that way.  Maybe back-to-earth homesteaders do as well, although I suspect many of them have computers.  As  for the rest of us, the Mennonite Community Cookbook is entertaining and has many excellent recipes.  However, they weren’t created for the modern time conscious cook.  This is the ‘make it from scratch’ book.

Regarding  pumpkins, my youngest daughter Elise is an avid fan  so every May/June we set out our cherished seedlings and every July/August we fight a mostly losing battle to keep them alive.  But there was a time when every insect in the world didn’t attack our vines and we had enough pumpkins to make our own pie filling.  Wow, what a feeling.  Maybe someday.  Next summer we shall triumph in the garden!  We say that every year.  And we actually believe it.  Hope truly does spring eternal for gardeners.  Either that or we’re incredibly gullible.  I think the wonders of spring lure us to giddy heights.

Onto the recipe.  It assumes you, of course, grew your own pumpkins, but you can substitute canned.  If you do want to grow your own, seed catalogues specify which varieties are best.  These are the medium/small kinds with names like ‘Small sugar,’ not the ones grown for size.  The larger pumpkins produce a watery filling and are grown only for show.   Elise and I are ever in search of good organic methods to thwart vine borers and other pumpkin pests so if you have any tried and true suggestions, please share them.  We found planting radishes in the pumpkin hills and letting these go to seed seemed to help deter insects, as did planting pumpkins in random places where we’ve never grown them before, such as in with the native clematis vine taking over the backyard that we call ‘the beast.’  ‘The Beast cradled our last surviving pumpkin and hid the orange globe from evil doers.

Pumpkin Pie:

1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups scalded milk

3 eggs, separated

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tab. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

1 tsp cloves

Pastry for one 9 inch pie crust.

****

Cook pumpkin and rub through a sieve.

Add beaten egg yolks, sugar, salt, cornstarch, and mix well.

Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.

Pour mixture into unbaked crust.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and continue baking for 30 minutes.

*I reduced the milk by 1/2 cup.

*I use good sized eggs

*Elise and her prize pumpkin saved by The Beast.

*Three of the best pumpkins for pie making are heirloom varieties: Small Sugar, Connecticut Field and the Cinderella Pumpkin (Rouge Vif D`etampes). This last one is the most beautiful deep orange ribbed pumpkin pictured above.  The smaller ones in the pic are small sugar.

Southern Spicy Gingerbread


gingerbread

We got hit by cold, lashing winds and rain here in the valley this week. The sun is struggling to emerge from behind a veil of gray clouds and the air still nippy this morning.  Which puts me in the mood for comfort food.  With the holidays fast approaching,  gingerbread comes to mind.  This recipe is from an old fashioned cookbook called Charleston Receipts that my mom bought eons ago on a family outing to Charleston.  I love  old Southern recipes, probably because I’m from the South, although I make some modifications to reduce the fat.

Southern Spicy Gingerbread:

2 eggs

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup dark molasses

3/4 cup shortening or 1/2 cup butter (I have used 1/2 cup oil)

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup boiling water

2 tsps baking soda

2 tsps ginger

1 1/2 tsps cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp baking powder

Add beaten egg to sugar, molasses and melted shortening (or butter, or oil) and beat well.

Add dry ingredients which have been mixed, then the boiling water.  Stir well and pour into shallow

greased pan, (sheet cake size or a smaller depending on how tall you want the gingerbread).

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Serve with lemon sauce or whipped cream.  We use the canned lemon pie filling.

I often make this for my husband’s birthday, but was remiss this year so I owe him one. 🙂

While I’m on the subject of food, I am one of the authors with a recipe in the cookbook put together by The Wild Rose Press.  For a FREE download of the cookbook, go to The Wild Rose Press and look at the upper right hand corner of the home page.  They’re also offering a spiral bound version for sale at:

http://www.thewildrosepress.com/

It’s entitled: 2009 Garden Gourmet