French-Toasted Sandwiches

It's called The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook and my copy is a first edition from 1959, which means that it is full of tips on juggling a job, the market, and having dinner on the table for my family. It offers me solutions for nearly any occasion that could arise in your standard 50's-era family - any day of the week, most any time of day. It's one of my favorite cookbooks for general cooking, as much entertainment as information and my copy is a little battered, but in otherwise fantastic condition.

This leads us to one of the projects I would like to undertake here at kitchenry. I want to make at least one of these recipes a week, from all different sections, including things that are new or not in my normal circles. Thus: Fifties House Wife Fun! Because sometimes I like to th
ink that I'd have been a great housewife, basking in the glow of my kitchen and meals, flirting with the neighbor's wife over the azaleas. I'd have an apron.

I would be adorable in that apron.

Now, the cookbook assures me that this sandwich is perfect for lunches and suppers and is still hearty enough for Dad! (really. this is what is says.) The original recipe has it as a chicken salad sandwich, though it also offers variations for tuna fish and ham & cheese. Now, I love chicken salad and, in general, chicken. I also enjoy a good tuna fish from time to time. But these were not things that I had in my kitchen and, anyway, I was hungry.

A few substitutions later and voila! I, too, can enjoy french toasted sandwiches.

French-Toasted Turkey-and-Cheese Sandwiches

- a few thinly sliced onion slices
- thinly sliced cheese - I used both pepper jack and some mozzarella
- turkey slices (oh, lunch meat. nom.)
- mayo
- bread

- butter
- a beaten egg

- a few tablespoons milk
- dash of salt
- sprinkle of sugar

- dash of seasonings (mine were a little cayenne and a hint of dill)

For the sandwich, spread your mayo on the bread and layer the onion, cheese, and turkey as you like. If you want to add other things, I suggest that you go for it.

Mix the egg, sugar, milk, salt, and seasoning together in a dish.

You don't want to put that lotion in there. Just saying.

Dip each sandwich unto the egg mixture, coating each side completely. Saute the sandwich in the butter until the sandwich is heated and both sides are brown.

Soaking up the goodness.

It suggests that your serve the original chicken version with cranberry sauce or pickled watermelon. It also suggests the ham version would go well with soup. I served mine with sesame chips, which I am addicted to.

I found this sandwich to be quite delicious and look forward to trying the chicken variation, which is...

- one cup finely chopped, cooked chicken (or a tin of chicken)
- 1/2 cup minced celery
- 1/3 cup chopped sweet pickle (though, really, not the biggest pickle fan...)
- salt, pepper
- 1/4 cup mayo

Combine and mix well, seasoning to taste.

Honestly, for my first real trip into turning this cookbook into something other than reading, I would say this is wildly successful. Nom, nom, nom.



The state tree of Ohio, the mascot of Ohio State University, and an utterly delicious (though quite sweet) peanut butter and chocolate dessert-treat.

"Oh, it's like a Reece's Cup," is the inevitable response by the unknowing masses and it takes actual restraint to not shriek in horror - as it is, I still flinch. Because while, yes, the two main ingredients are the same - a buckeye is not at all like a peanut butter cup.

Well, okay, there are similarities. But as anyone from Ohio can tell you, they are not the same. And I spent a summer making them by the dozen to introduce this delicious treat to my friends and co-workers. The picture is the only photo I have from my frantic, extended buckeye sessions.

Now, these are the best buckeyes I have ever had and not just because they are a recipe adapted from one my mother gave me (and no idea where hers came from).

Beth's Delicious Buckeyes

- one cup creamy peanut butter
- six tablespoons softened butter
- two - three cups of powdered sugar
- three tablespoons of cooled coffee
- dipping chocolate

Stir the butter and peanut butter together until well blended, then gradually add powdered sugar. Mix well, until the mixture can hold a ball. Add coffee, mix until creamy (bit still holds a ball shape when rolled in between your palms).
Clearly, now you roll the mixture into balls - about the size of a malted milk ball, though really it is entirely up to you. Place on waxed paper (or foil), then chill in the fridge.

Use a toothpick to dip the chilled peanut butter balls into the melted chocolate, you should leave a small circle at the top undipped, much as in the buckeye nut. Place in fridge for about fifteen minutes and, once the chocolate is hardened, put yourself in a wonderful sugar coma.

* Depending on how creamy you actually like the mixture to be, decrease the amount of powdered sugar. You could also add a flavoring, if you wanted, to the mixture or infuse the chocolate if you wanted to try something new(er).

My First Wok, My Latest Stir-fry.

The wok you see in the picture is the first wok I ever purchased. I was a junior in college and had my very own studio apartment, complete with a separate, real-sized kitchen. The majority of my kitchen supplies came from a previous roommate (he had far too many pots and pans, thus I got the battered ones) and a run to Ikea for things like knives and silverware and dishes. It wasn't until several months later that I decided I wanted a wok and I bundled myself up and went down the street to the local Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Once there, I agonized over which one I wanted, did I want a steamer, was a bamboo spatula really a good idea, did I plan on frying things... My first real kitchen purchase, not done because I needed the item, persay, but because I wanted it.

I made a selection. Sort of a My First Wok kit, but I think I actually giggled when I paid for it and hustled it back to my studio.

I loved that wok.

I didn't just stir-fry my food with it. I used it as if all the skillets and pots I had previous used had suddenly vanished, as if I didn't have a perfectly good microwave - I'd reheat my leftover Thai food, I made soup, and I vividly remember using my new wok to make a grilled cheese sandwich. At the time, I swore it was the best grilled cheese I had ever had, but that was really just the novelty.

Also, I really enjoyed saying "wok wok wok" under my breath whenever I used it.

Inventive (or strangeness, but who is to say which?) aside, I did use that wok to work on stir-frying meals for myself and, later, others. This was not the first time I set about to cook something, this was not the first time I fell for my kitchen, but this did really kick-start a passion in me to work on my cooking skills. Like many poor college students, sometimes my "gourmet cuisine" was actually a packet of ramen noodles with added
peas and a quickly scrambled egg. And, really, there is nothing wrong with that fast (delicious) lunch.

I love stir-fry, love having crisp veg and tender chicken, love figuring out sauces and flavors and how easy it feels to accomplish a pretty healthy meal. I ditched (read: gave to a friend) m
y wok when I moved across the country, but didn't reclaim it when I returned to Chicago. I had gotten over the joy of a wok and just started using pans, but about a week ago I moved in with a friend of mine.

She has a wonderfully sized kitchen - better than my last two apartments. She has a wok. She (now, we, I suppose) also happen to live very close to Thai Nam and a host of other amazing places and restaurants. So, when I decided that I wanted to cook a stir-fry, I scoped out some produce places nearby and gathered chicken and the veg that I wanted and then dropped by Thai Nam to pick up noodles. Then, enjoying some white wine, I put together this dish.

Tipsy Chicken and Wide Rice Noodles

- rice flake noodles
- extra virgin sesame oil
- grapeseed oil
- soy sauce

- white wine
- boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into chunks)
- half a large onion (roughly chopped)
- mushrooms (sliced)
- red bell pepper (sliced) (you can also add any other color peppers as well)
- snow peas (although, I forgot them, so I used regular frozen)
- celery (sliced thin)

- garlic (however many cloves you want, sliced thin or diced)
- basil
- water chestnuts or bamboo shoots (or both or none)

First off, boil some water and pour it over the noodles in a large bowl. Follow the directions on the
packet (for however many noodles you want), but I tend to let them soak around seven minutes. I generally forget that I've got them waiting for me, but when they are done they will be white, opaque, and, well, it's cooked noodles. Sticky to touch, but still cooked noodles. You'll drain them, then ignore them.

Now, add your cooking oil (I used grapeseed, but peanut or canola are also fine) to the wok. Add garlic, basil, and onion. Stir for a few minutes, then add chicken. Season a little, stirring plenty, and pour in a small amount of wine (a few tablespoons, though you can more if you prefer. you could leave the whole thing out if you wanted.). As the wine cooks off, you should add some soy sauce and sesame oil, then cook chicken through. Add veg and cook until most are quite tender - the celery and water chestnuts will still be crisp. Drizzle some honey onto the mixture and keep stirring. You'll likely want a little more seasoning and soy sauce/sesame oil.

Add in the now-cooked and drained noodles. Continue to stir-fry until the noodles are heated and seaso
ned. You may need to add more oil at any point during this process, as you do not want anything sticking to the pan. When everything is cooked and seasoned to your satisfaction, simply remove from heat and serve still warm.

There are a lot of variations on this dish and I know there are things I wanted to have done differently (some changes I already made to this recipe), but I threw this together just a few nights ago and was pretty pleased with it. And, anyway, I haven't had the time to perfect it like my Mango-Chicken Stir-fry.