Lowery’s Fudge Cake(s) – a recipe with a story


     If you want a good read with LOTS of laughter, pick up a copy of Being Dead Is No Excuse, The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. A friend sent me a copy for my birthday several years ago. I couldn’t put it down and I laughed so much that tears were streaming down my face. Since then I’ve used it as a program for a literary group, serving recipes that are included with the text. Plus, it has been the subject for a couple of our past cooking classes. The recipes are delicious, the text is delightful . . . so don’t be put off by the title.
     Lowery’s Fudge Cakes are wonderful and, of course, they have a story. Below I’ve included the header that appears with the recipe. In addition the authors add other tidbits at the end of the recipe . . . but you’ll just have to obtain a copy of the book in order to view all their secrets. 
     The book is chock full of southern recipes, from several versions of stuffed eggs and Reincarnation Shrimp Dip to The Methodist Ladies’ artery-clogging Lasagna Florentine. And the Fried Walnuts really are “to die for.”

Lowery’s Fudge Cake(s)   Make 18 really large square or 24 medium squares
No Greenville native of a certain age will ever forget the pleasure of biting into a piece of Lowey’s fudge cake. It was sold exclusively at the old Lowery’s Motel. We still remember how it was cut into squares and neatly wrapped in wax paper. After the Lowery ladies died and the motel became but a fond memory, custody of the fudge-cake recipe was passed to another lady in the church. It still arrives for the reception in perfect square, wrapped in the traditional wax paper, though now the ladies of the Pastoral Care Committee unwrap it and arrange it on a silver tray. It never lasts long.

Lowery’s Fudge Cake(s)
2 sticks butter
4 squares semisweet chocolate (I used 1 ⅓ cups of semisweet chocolate chips)
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together.
  3. Add the sugar. Stir until melted. Cool slightly.

    Mixture is cooling on a marble slab.
  4. With a wooden spoon, mix in the eggs, one at a time.
  5. Fold in flour and salt.
  6. Add vanilla and chopped pecans.
  7. Pour the mixture into a buttered 9 x 11-inch pan.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes. Start testing at 30 or 35 minutes. To be a purist, your straw for testing should come straight from the broom.

Being Dead Is No Excuse, The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays is available 
Recipe without photos . . .
Lowery’s Fudge Cake(s)
2 sticks butter
4 squares semisweet chocolate (I used 1 ⅓ cups of semisweet chocolate chips)
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together.
  3. Add the sugar. Stir until melted. Cool slightly.
  4. With a wooden spoon, mix in the eggs, one at a time.
  5. Fold in flour and salt.
  6. Add vanilla and chopped pecans.
  7. Pour the mixture into a buttered 9 x 11-inch pan.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes. Start testing at 30 or 35 minutes. To be a purist, your straw for testing should come straight from the broom.

Old-Fashioned Applesauce – from tree to sauce

With an abundance of apples, our neighbors invited us over to pick. Shortly after arriving home, I cut up a bunch for applesauce. Normally I peel the apples but decided I’d experiment and run the cooked, unpeeled apples through our NutraBullet. After several whirls in the bullet, I ended up with smooth applesauce – after the first try, the skins were still evident but with a little more processing, I had the texture I was looking for.

Old-Fashioned Applesauce
Apples (such as Greenings, Jonathans or Winesaps . . .  or whatever your neighbor has on the tree)
Water
Brown sugar
Ground Cinnamon
Apple Cider, optional – if more liquid is needed during processing
 Wash, core and chop apples into chunks. (Peel, too, if you prefer).
  1. Place apples in saucepan and add water about ½” deep in pan; cover and simmer about 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Sweeten to taste with sugar. (I prefer brown sugar, about 2 to 3 tablespoons per 4 medium apples – I also opt for not too sweet applesauce so increase if you wish.) Add cinnamon – about ½ teaspoon per 4 apples.
    Cooked apples that have been sweetened with brown sugar.
  3. Cool and then process in batches in NutraBullet, making sure to add enough cooking liquid or apple cider to allow the apples to move in the machine. If apples were peeled, a food processor could also be used for this step.

  4. Refrigerate.

To create an Applesauce Parfait . . . sprinkle Cinnamon Oat Crunch Topping over applesauce and top with yogurt  (my favorite is Greek Gods® Honey Vanilla Yogurt).

Also check out our Rosy Applesauce recipe—made with red hots!

Recipe without photos . . .
Old-Fashioned Applesauce
Apples (such as Greenings, Jonathans or Winesaps . . .  or whatever your neighbor has on the tree)
Water
Brown sugar
Ground Cinnamon
Apple Cider, optional – if more liquid is needed during processing
  1. Wash, core and chop apples into chunks. (Peel, too, if you prefer).
  2. Place apples in saucepan and add water about ½” deep in pan; cover and simmer about 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Sweeten to taste with sugar. (I prefer brown sugar, about 2 to 3 tablespoons per 4 medium apples – I also opt for not too sweet applesauce so increase if you wish.)  Add cinnamon – about ½ teaspoon per 4 apples.
  4. Cool and then process in batches in NutraBullet, making sure to add enough cooking liquid or apple cider to allow the apples to move in the machine. If apples were peeled, a food processor could also be used for this step.
  5. Refrigerate.

Cinnamon-Oat Crunch Topping adds texture, flavor & nutrition


Try this on top of yogurt, ice cream, pudding, fruit or fruit salad for added crunch, flavor and nutrition. Sprinkle it over desserts where you would normally use nuts.



Cinnamon-Oat Crunch Topping
1 ½ cups oats (old-fashioned or quick)
2 to 3 tablespoons  brown sugar
¼ cup coconut oil or melted butter
½ to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  1. Combine all ingredients; mix well.

  2. Spread out, in a thin layer, on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake in preheated 350° oven for about 10 minutes, until light golden brown. Watch carefully and stir at least once during the baking time.
  4. Let cool and then store in a tightly covered container.                                                       
    I sprinkled Cinnamon-Oat Crunch over homemade applesauce and topped it with Greek Gods® Honey Vanilla Greek Yogurt (it is really good) for a quick dessert.

Recipe without photos . . .
Cinnamon-Oat Crunch
1 ½ cups oats (old-fashioned or quick)
2 to 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
¼ cup coconut oil or melted butter
½ to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  1. Combine all ingredients; mix well.
  2. Spread out, in a thin layer, on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake in preheated 350° oven for about 10 minutes, until light golden brown. Watch carefully and stir at least once during the baking time.
  4. Let cool and then sotre in a tightly covered container.

Brendan French’s Pan-seared Crappie featured in fall 2014 KANSAS! Magazine


     My subscription copy of KANSAS! Magazine arrived yesterday. The fall issue explores frontier life in Kansas and my cooking-based article about Brendan French is titled, “From Wild Boar to Squirrel Stew,” pages 61-63. Yes, Brendan hunts, processes, cooks and eats both wild boar and squirrel, but his featured recipe is fish!
     Brendan is a fun-loving guy and I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing him and sampling his dish. I even took some photos (included to the left and below) but they do not compare to Jason Dailey’s professional photographs included with the story. Thanks to him and the editing skills of the staff, they made my story look really good. And, of course, it helped that I had amazing subject matter, too.
            When working with Katy Ibsen, Managing Editor of the magazine, she suggested I also interview a restaurant chef about current offerings. Just happens that a young man from Abilene works at 715, a bistro in downtown Lawrence. Barry and I both worked with Harrison Soelter at The Kirby House Restaurant so it was fun to see him in action at 715, and his quote “rabbit and trout are hot sellers at this ‘meatcentric’ bistro,” was a great addition to the sidebar “Then and Now,” comparing an 1871 Drovers Cottage menu to a restaurant's offering in 2014.
 
            The magazine is full of interesting stories and fantastic photography. For a sample copy, click on fall 2013, KANSAS! Magazine.
Brendan cooking on his patio.
Brendan French’s Pan-seared Crappie with Mushrooms & Asparagus
Brendan usually cooks up a blend of long grain and wild rice to accompany this dish.

6 crappie
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt (anything without iodine)
Pepper (green, white, or black)
½ cup of butter
20 sprigs asparagus
8 morel or crimini mushrooms
3 lemons (2 for deglazing and 1 for plating)
1 bunch chives, finely chopped

1)  Scale crappie, then fillet and remove rib bones. Leaving the skin on helps keep the delicate fillet in one piece.
2)  Heat olive oil, sauté shallots and garlic, before adding fish flesh side down. Briefly let the fish cook, approximately 2 minutes before flipping and finishing fish skin side down. Salt and pepper. Remove fish.
3)  In same pan, start to melt butter and begin cooking asparagus. When asparagus starts to shine and pick up a bright green color, turn up heat, and throw in morel mushrooms; sauté quickly and deglaze with 2 of the squeezed lemons.
4)  Plating Instructions: 3 crappie fillets per plate, top with asparagus, and then mushrooms. Garnish with chives and lemon slice.
Serves 4.
YES I did get to sample Brendan's delicious dish!
There was not room in the article to include this information but thought it might be interesting (at least to some) to include it with this post . . .
FROM SURVIVAL TO SPORT (based on documents at the Kansas Historical Society, archives, and online @ http://www.kshs.org)

  •    700s and before — Native Indians use bows and arrows to fish and hunt small and large game, including mountain sheep in the northwestern part of Kansas. Hunting is necessary for survival and every part of the animal is utilized, even horns are hollowed out for spoons, and sinew becomes thread.
  •  1854 — Sarah Cummings, a young girl traveling across Kansas in a covered wagon, records the procedure for preparing buffalo jerky. Another 1880s recipe explains how to create pemmican by pounding dried buffalo, elk, deer or antelope to a pulp and then adding boiled tallow to create another protein-rich survival food.
  •  Late 1860s-1870s — Railroads organize hunting excursions across Kansas attracting sportsmen from all sections of the globe.
  •     1872 — Hutchinson News prints an item about a local hunter who fired into a large flock of wild turkeys and with a single rifle shot killed 11 birds.  
  •      1874 — British sportsman, William Weston, writes to a London magazine that a friend of his near St. George, shot 84 grouse, 933 quail and 59 rabbits during a three month period.
  •  1905 — The pheasant, a game bird of Asian origin, is introduced to the state.
  •  1909 — Lewis Lindsay Dyche becomes the fish and game warden of Kansas. He eventually lobbies for regulations that help protect endangered species and sets hunting seasons for most mammals and game birds. His efforts will help pave the way for many of the conservancy programs that have improved the sustainability of today’s wildlife. The Dyche Museum of Natural History, on KU’s campus, is named in his honor.
  •      1938 – Junction City Union reports, “Last week a fishing company that operates in the Kansas river south of this city, caught a catfish weighing 131 ½ pounds …”

And, here's a photo of Harrison Soelter with a fish dish he prepared for my dining pleasure at 715 in Lawrence, Ks. His quote about the menu at this restaurant is included in the article.

Preserving memories — Green Tomato Relish

   
      I can’t take credit for this recipe, and won’t be trying it this season due to the fact we’ve had a dismal tomato crop. Janet Gfeller provided this recipe plus a jar of her delicious relish when I interview her for my monthly cooking column (Abilene Reflector-Chronicle on August 26, 2014).
     Her article begins with this paragraph — Jars of home canned green tomato relish remind Janet Gfeller of her childhood. “My grandma typically made it at the end of the growing season and then we used it in chicken salad or tuna salad, on hamburgers, hot dogs, just about anything.” She also says, “It's a recipe that is labor intensive.” Normally Janet looks for uncomplicated recipes that don’t require too much time in the kitchen. “If I was looking at this recipe for the first time, I’d probably be put off by the number of ingredients and all the steps but since I know it tastes so good and it is my grandma’s recipe, I am willing to make the effort,” she admits. 
      I, too, will make the effort when, and if, we have a productive tomato crop in the future!

Green Tomato Relish
Relish
1 gallon ground green tomatoes (10 quart bucketful)
6 cups ground cabbage (2 medium heads)
1 pint ground onions (4 large)
1 pint ground green and red sweet peppers  (2 of each)
1 cup table salt
  1. Mix all of the ground vegetables together, pour salt over them and mix. 
  2. Put mixture into a large container, such as a crock, and weight it down. Let it set overnight at room temperature. 
  3. Next morning, squeeze dry. 
Pickling Solution  (Janet puts the whole cloves & cinnamon sticks in a spice bag)
6 cups cider vinegar
4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons celery seeds
4 sticks cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
  1. Add ingredients to a very large pot, mix and bring to a boil; boil hard for 10 minutes. Add the squeezed relish to the pot and bring to a boil. Add prepared relish to sterilized jars and seal when hot.
  2. For safety purpose, USDA guidelines recommend processing pint jars in a boiling-water bath canner for 5 minutes at 0-1,000 ft. altitude.
Recipe without photos . . .
Green Tomato Relish
Relish
1 gallon ground green tomatoes (10 quart bucketful)
6 cups ground cabbage (2 medium heads)
1 pint ground onions (4 large)
1 pint ground green and red sweet peppers  (2 of each)
1 cup table salt
  1. Mix all of the ground vegetables together, pour salt over them and mix. 
  2. Put mixture into a large container, such as a crock, and weight it down. Let it set overnight at room temperature. 
  3. Next morning, squeeze dry.
Pickling Solution  (Janet puts the whole cloves & cinnamon sticks in a spice bag)
6 cups cider vinegar
4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons celery seeds
4 sticks cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
  1. Add ingredients to a very large pot, mix and bring to a boil; boil hard for 10 minutes. Add the squeezed relish to the pot and bring to a boil. Add prepared relish to sterilized jars and seal when hot.
  2. For safety purpose, USDA guidelines recommend processing pint jars in a boiling-water bath canner for 5 minutes at 0-1,000 ft. altitude.

Lemon Blossoms -- my version of Paula Deen's recipe

   
 I saw Paula Deen make these on her cooking show and immediately downloaded the recipe. However, I prefer to make my own cake mixes so that’s what I always use when recreating her recipe . . . but I have yet to come up with a homemade lemon pudding mix so I do rely on the commercial product for that particular ingredient.
     These little lemon cakes literally bloom in your mouth – they are light, yummy and a nice addition to any sweet tray.

Lemon Blossoms    Makes 4 to 5  dozen mini cakes
1 (18 ½ -oz. pkg. yellow cake mix ( I use homemade cake mix)
1 (3 ½ -oz.) pkg. instant lemon pudding mix
4 large eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

Glaze:
4 cups powdered sugar
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice (juice of 1 large lemon)
1 lemon, zested
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use canola)
3 tablespoons water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.  Spray miniature muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil and blend well with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour a scant tablespoon of batter into each muffin tin (should be about half full when mixture settles.
    Note -- the batter is quite thick!
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Let cool slightly and then turn out onto a tea towel (run a kitchen-type knife around the edges if needed).
    Note -- the cakes sink slightly in the center. Fill in the depression with extra lemon glaze.
  6. To make the glaze — sift the sugar into a mixing bowl.
  7. Add the lemon juice, zest, oil, and 3 tablespoons water. Mix until smooth.
  8. With fingers, dip the cupcakes into the glaze while they're still warm, covering as much of the cake as possible, or spoon the glaze over the warm cupcakes, turning them to completely coat.
  9. Place on wire racks with waxed paper underneath to catch any drips.
    Fill in the slight depression with extra glaze.
  10. Let the glaze set thoroughly, about 1 hour, before storing in containers with tight-fitting lids.
    Lemon Blossoms make a nice addition to any sweet buffet. Here they are pictured with individual Fudge Cakes (watch for this upcoming recipe post.)
Recipe without photos . . .
Lemon Blossoms    Makes 4 to 5  dozen mini cakes
1 (18 ½ -oz. pkg. yellow cake mix ( I use homemade cake mix)
1 (3 ½ -oz.) pkg. instant lemon pudding mix
4 large eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

Glaze:
4 cups powdered sugar
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice (juice of 1 large lemon)
1 lemon, zested
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use canola)
3 tablespoons water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.  Spray miniature muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil and blend well with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour a scant tablespoon of batter into each muffin tin (should be about half full when mixture settles.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Let cool slightly and then turn out onto a tea towel (run a kitchen-type knife around the edges if needed).
  6. To make the glaze — sift the sugar into a mixing bowl.
  7. Add the lemon juice, zest, oil, and 3 tablespoons water. Mix until smooth.
  8. With fingers, dip the cupcakes into the glaze while they're still warm, covering as much of the cake as possible, or spoon the glaze over the warm cupcakes, turning them to completely coat.
  9. Place on wire racks with waxed paper underneath to catch any drips.
  10. Let the glaze set thoroughly, about 1 hour, before storing in containers with tight-fitting lids.