Orange Juice Cake – A Good Summer Treat

This has always been a favorite in my family. There is something about the sweet orange with the chewly raisins and crunchy walnut. It is easy to put together and travels well and always seems to get requests for the recipe.

Orange Juice Cake — From the recipe files of Barbara Barthelette

6 oz. can frozen orange concentrate, thawed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup light raisins (optional)
⅓ cup chopped walnuts

Grease and flour bottom of 13 x 9–inch pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine ½ cup of orange juice concentrate with remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Blend at lowest speed of mixer for 30 seconds. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.

Pour into pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Drizzle remaining orange juice over warm cake and sprinkle with topping.

Sugar-Nut Topping

⅓ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Surprise Cake

Surprise Cake . . . Have them enjoy it first and tell them later!

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
One can tomato soup
1 cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts
grated rind of one lemon and juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 11 3/4 x 7 ½ inch baking pan.
In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.
In a larger bowl, combine the sugar and butter, beating until blended. Beat in tomato soup until smooth. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and the dry ingredients. Spoon batter into pan, smoothing the top. Bake about 30 minutes until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pan. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Gluten-Free/Lactose-Free Crackers

Besides being gluten-intolerant, my husband is sensitive to lactose, too. He can have cheese and butter but needs to take pills to totally enjoy them. He also likes to have some snacks on hand when he braves the Los Angeles traffic coming home as his hunger pangs tell him that traffic is putting his evening meal way off schedule AGAIN!

Most cracker recipes have butter or wheat in them. It took me awhile to come up with something that would stay the onset of starvation on the long drive home but wouldn’t incite digestive problems. I finally came up with the following recipe which has protein, fiber, vitamins, no baking powder, and the right kinds of fat.

Homemade Crackers

3 1/2 cups of gluten-free flour blend (I like Pamela’s Gluten-Free Artisan Blend)
5 tablespoons nutritional yeast (My favorite is Bragg – in imparts a mild cheesy flavor)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Hemp Hearts*
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 eggs
3 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee*
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (or 2 water/2 lemon juice)

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Combine the coconut oil (or ghee) with the juice and the eggs and mix well.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and gently mix until a workable dough forms. The weather seems to play a huge part so, if necessary, add bits of water or juice along with teaspoons of ghee or coconut oil until the right consistency is reached.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To save time and mess, divide the dough into fourths. Roll out one fourth between two sheets of parchment paper until about an 1/8th inch thick. Using a small round cookie cutter, cut out the crackers and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet about a quarter of an inch apart. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes or until golden. Remove to a cooling rack, wait a few minutes, and try one!

Store in a tightly lidded container. I usually divide the cooled crackers into three or four containers: One for easy snacking and the other ones in the freezer to keep fresh.

*Ghee is merely the solids removed from butter. I make mine my putting two sticks of butter in a large, glass measuring cup and gently melting them in the microwave. Once the butter is completely melted, let set until it separates and then carefully pour off the clear part into a small container being careful to avoid getting any of the cloudy residue into it.

*Hemp Hearts are at Costco and they have the best price I have found. They have a mild, nutty flavor.

Bargain Baking . . . Sort Of!

In the pursuit for savings, we all know the less we frequent the grocery stores, the more we save! However, we often need that certain cake, cornbread or muffin mix. Now, not only are these boxed conveniences expensive when you are counting pennies, the temptations you pass in the aisles can put some items in your shopping cart you didn’t even know you needed.

I have found that premixing packages of baking mixes saves time in the long run and last-minute trips to the store. The concept is simple, you mix up the necessary dry ingredients for your recipe, seal it in a bag along with a stapled on note card with what you will need to finish it. Start simply. Make up one supply, try doing it a week later and see how it works into your schedule. You increase your supplies as you begin to include them into your family’s requirements.

A good, nutritious breakfast or lunch bread is easy to have on hand.


4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons salt (Can be reduced if you are watching salt intake)
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 cups rolled oats
4 cups raisins (or a mixture of your favorite dried fruit, coarsely chopped)
2 cups coarsely chopped nuts, your choice

Sift together the flour, salt and soda and divide into 4 strong plastic bags or air-tight containers. Add one cup of the oats, one cup of the fruit and ½ cup of the nuts to each container and shake well to mix. Store in refrigerator or freezer until needed.

Additional Ingredients required for baking one loaf:

½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Beat the sugar and egg until fluffy. Stir the lemon juice into the milk and set aside to sour. Add the soured milk to the sugar and egg and beat until smooth. Add the contents of one bag of your baking mix to the milk-sugar mixture and stir gently to combine. Stir in the oil. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake in 350 degree preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool, slice and serve.

The best part of having a homemade baking mix on hand is your ability to whip up another loaf of bread immediately since your first one is sure to disappear within seconds of leaving the pan.

Many of the recipes we make from scratch can be broken down in the same manner as the above bread mix. The trick is combining the dry ingredients ahead of time and attaching a note of what you will need when you want to bake. Think about the cake mixes I know many of us use. We bring home a box of flour, baking powder, spices and flavoring at a cost of over a dollar. And when we come home, we have to add our eggs, water and oil. We can drop the fancy box and the brand name and start using the house brand—our own!

Frugality is a handsome income. (Erasmus: Colloquia 16th century)

Food, Calories, & a Little Bit of Budget!

Cooking, kitchen, pots and pans . . . to many women these are distasteful words because they are usually the ones who have to make use of them. Face it, food preparation for our families is an ongoing, relentless chore many dread. My husband said his worst nightmare would be having to think of what to fix every day. Yes, we moms get to handle the food aspect of life many times over from purchasing to preparing to clean up. Two hours of food prep is usually eaten within the space of ten minutes!

Every day the news brings us more information on what we should eat and what is now on the bad list. The wonder edible of yesterday is today’s sure cause of death . . . if not worse! All we can do is the best we can. It does, however, take attitude as in a good attitude to bring healthy meals to our table each day.

If you start reading ingredient labels, it might shock you into investigating your grocery purchases more carefully. It is scary when you see how much fat and sugar is included in some packaged meal you thought was good for you and your family. You are also paying a lot for the convenience of a packaged meal or snack. Just to get an idea:

Kentucky Fried Chicken thigh 360 calories; 230 of fat
Made at home, baked chicken thigh 237 calories; 123 of fat
Of course, there are those who will continue in favor of convenience, not too worried about cost. A KFC thigh will cost you approximately $1.33 – for one piece of chicken! If you watch your sales, you can buy a five-pound chicken for 59 cents a pound or $2.95 for two thighs, two wings, two sections of white meat, two legs, and a back and innards for the soup pot. Cooking may not be our favorite past time but do we want heavenly credit for being good stewards of our family income?

Yes, cooking is an every day chore but you can brighten the process by looking at it as a challenge rather than a burden. Do you feel better dumping a bucket of chicken on the table or setting out platters of food you prepared yourself? You are what you eat and your children will surely reflect that. Part of our parental responsibility is keeping our children healthy and food is a constant influence on their bodily and mental future.

Dads don’t get off easily in the food department, either. My husband began dinner table rules when our children were little:

1. You can’t leave the table until the vegetables/salad are eaten.
2. If dad eats it, you will, at least, try it.
3. Never insult the cook’s (aka mom!) culinary offerings.

As the husband, you have to support your wife in her cooking efforts. Like the children, if you don’t like something, eat it anyway and be a good example!
It bothers me when I hear mothers complain that ‘my husband won’t eat this’ or ‘my children refuse to try that’. You might have a family meeting once a week to find out what people would like to eat and then work around that in your menu planning. If you children can read, encourage them to look up recipes. If they prefer certain meats, ask them to research interesting ways to fix it. If they don’t like some vegetables or fruits, challenge them to find a way to fix them that they would be willing to try. Make sure your husband knows he is an important part of the healthy eating process and should participate in the planning ideas and the eating! You might also remind him that as primary care giver from the kitchen ranks, you can wield that heavy frying pan any way you see fit!

Strawberry Fluff

Strawberries have made their annual appearance in the stores and in our gardens. Time to made use of the bounty and surprise our family with a cool yet tasty dessert.

Strawberry Fluff

1 package (10 ounces) frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
1 cup boiling water
1 package (3 ounces) strawberry flavored gelatin
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1/4 cup sour cream*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Drain strawberries, reserving syrup. Pour boiling water over gelatin in a bowl. Stir gelatin until it is dissolved. Add enough cold water to reserved syrup to measure one cup. Stir into dissolved gelatin. Chill until almost set.

In chilled bowl, beat cream, sour cream, and vanilla until stiff. Beat gelatin until it is foamy. Fold gelatin and strawberries into whipped cream. Pour into a one-quart mold or into individual molds. Chill until firm Garnish, if desired, with sweetened whipped cream.

*Sour cream is a great stabilizer for homemade whipped cream. It helps keep the whipped cream from breaking down and lasts in the refrigerator a couple of days. It also add a nice flavor to the whole dessert.

Hot Potato Soup

Even though the summer heat is sneaking into our weather pattern, I still enjoy a bowl of potato soup. It is a comfort food with a comfortable budget cost. Fresh garlic bread, although it adds to the carb cost for that day’s diet, is always a tasty addition. A simple salad can round out the meal.

Hot Potato Soup

1/4 cup bacon drippings
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups milk
4 cups peeled, finely diced new potatoes
1 cups grated Swiss cheese (Mild or sharp cheddar is a good alternative)
1 teaspoon powdered mustard
1 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a large kettle, heat bacon drippings. Saute onion and celery, until soft. Blend in flour over medium heat until golden brown. Stir in chicken broth and milk. Add potatoes, stirring until soup bubbles and thickens slightly. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in cheese one handful at a time until melted and smooth. Season with mustard, salt, and pepper. Serve with a sprinkle of crispy bacon pieces and finely chopped parsley.

(For an interesting taste treat, try using baked potatoes instead of raw ones. Just cut down the simmering time as the potatoes are already tender!)