CROCK POT VEGETABLE-BEEF SOUP

The slow cooker was invented & patented over 75 years ago by Irving Naxon. He wanted to cook cholent, a traditional bean stew eaten by Jews on the Sabbath. Since they were forbidden from cooking on the Sabbath, they would bring pots of the stew to a nearby bakery the day before, & the stew would cook slowly in the residual heat from the ovens. The “Naxon Beanery” invention was to make life easier for the Jewish housewife.

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In the early 1970’s, Naxon sold his design to Rival Manufacturing, who marketed it as a Crock Pot. It was marketed toward working mothers who could put the food in the pot in the morning & come home to a warm, home-cooked meal.

With the increased use of a microwave in the 80’s, sales for slow cookers died down a little, but in the past 15 years sales have doubled. There are a few explanations for this. It is thought that more men cook, & they especially like to use a slow cooker when tailgating. Another idea is that it saves money, because inexpensive cuts of meat are easily cooked to tenderness. Nostalgia might also play a role in it’s popularity. Classic design appliances are now prized for their old-fashioned look & appeal. It is estimated that over 80% of households in the United States own a slow cooker.

I acquired my first Crock-pot in the early 70’s, not too long after I was married. I am thinking that it might have been a Christmas gift, but not really sure. Mine had the green exterior, with a glass lid, & the crock was not removable. (Making clean-up a little awkward sometimes.) It came with a recipe book, & I started trying them out. The only recipe from this book that I still use is the one for Vegetable-Beef Soup. Since my first Crock Pot only held 2 1/2 quarts, I could only make a single recipe. My present one holds twice that much, so I can make more soup. This is a favorite, & it is great to have some left-over. Besides that, this soup always tastes better on the second day! It cooks for 24 hours, so I put everything except the frozen vegetables in the cooker the evening before. I use beef shanks, as I found these to give the hardiest broth. In the morning I remove the beef, & add the vegetables. After the beef has cooled a little, I remove any fat & return it to the soup. By the time of your evening meal the soup will be ready. ENJOY!

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Grandma Krotzer’s Caramel Corn

For some reason this is the time of year that I think about caramel corn. Not sure why, but it seems like a fall thing. Typically caramel popcorn is made with a sugar or molasses syrup that has been heated until it browns & becomes thick. It is then mixed with the popcorn & cooled. Some varieties contain nuts, such a peanuts, pecans, almonds, or cashews. Half Nuts Popcorn, locally made in Wrightsville, has added some different & unusual flavors. Stop by their store at 450 S. Front Street, & you might be able to find tutti-frutti, caramel apple, banana, blueberry, bubble gum, cherry, cinnamon, grape, green apple, hot caramel, lemon, orange, party cake, and peanut butter and jelly. You can also get the caramel drizzled with chocolate, with or without peanuts. Fisher’s Popcorn from the DelMarva Area boasts a few other unique flavors, Old Bay Seasoned Caramel Corn, Pumpkin Spice Caramel, & Caramel Dusted with White Cheddar.

The combination of caramel and corn dates back at least as far as the 1890’s. At the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Cracker Jack was introduced. Two German brothers, immigrated to the United States and opened a popcorn store in Chicago. They experimented with different flavors and toppings. Their new concoction, a mixture of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses, quickly became a hit. Someone who sampled the product exclaimed “That’s a crackerjack!”, which at the time meant “of great quality”. The name stuck and in 1896 the brothers registered Cracker Jack and began mass producing it.

My mother-in-law, Ina Krotzer, was known for her caramel corn. My daughter, Aubri Krotzer Sweeney, recently started to make this, & it has become a huge hit with her family & neighborhood. When I was looking for recipes for my blog she suggested that I share this one. I hope you try it, let me know how it turns out!

GRANDMA KROTZER’S CARAMEL CORN

4 quarts popped corn

I cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup dark Karo

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

Bring all to a boil stirring constantly. Cook 5 minutes. Pour over popcorn in large shallow pan. Put in oven at 250 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Store in a covered container.

WACKY CAKE

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This recipe for Wacky Cake that I am sharing with you is another that was sent to me by Laura Manifold. Once I saw it, I recognized it as a long forgotten recipe that my mother & I made way back in the ‘50s. Laura’s version is made a little differently than the one that I remember, but most of the ingredients are the same. Laura’s recipe calls for melted butter instead of oil, so you could try it either way. I am thinking that someone adapted this along the way because the butter probably tastes better.

Wacky Cake is a spongy, cocoa based cake, & one of the reasons that it is called “wacky” is that it is made without eggs, butter, or milk. One source said that it was created during World War II & another said the depression era. I am not sure who is correct, but eggs, butter, & milk were scarce during both of those times so it could have been either one. It is also known as “Crazy Cake,” “Mixed-up Cake,” “Mix in the pan,” or “Three Hole Cake.”

I loved this recipe as a child because I could actually make it pretty much by myself. All of the dry ingredients are mixed together in the cake pan. You make 3 depressions in the pan, pour oil into one, vinegar in the second, & vanilla in the third. Pour water over the whole thing & mix well with a fork.

I haven’t made this in ages, & am thinking it would be fun to do with the grandkids!

Wacky Cake

3 c. flour

2 c. sugar

6 T. Cocoa (heaping)

1tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. vinegar apple cider

2 tsp. vanilla

8 T. butter (melted) or 8 T. vegetable oil

2 C.Cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Sift flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa together into an 8×8 inch ungreased cake pan. Make three depressions. Pour oil into one well, vinegar into second, and vanilla into third well. Pour water over all, and stir well with fork.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Frost with your favorite icing.

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