Grandma Newell’s White Cake with Lemon Filling

Left, Bruce Frank and Linda Emmerton pose on their wedding day in 1970 with the lovely wedding cake that was custom-made by her maternal grandmother, Minda Newell.  Right, the cake has a lemon filling and white frosting.

“This recipe is from a book my maternal grandmother used to make my wedding cake in 1970,” Linda Emmerton Frank said. “My grandma Newell took classes to make it for me. I remember Grandma working on it in her apartment behind our house. I would go upstairs and watch her as she decorated it. It is a sweet memory. She set up the cake in the reception area too. She was a special lady. It was beautiful.”

I met Linda when I was doing research on the history of a ranch that my family owns. The property used to be owned by her great-uncle Orville Colburn, whose family moved from Maine to California in the 1860s, and his wife, Lillian Emmerton Colburn.

This white cake recipe was very easy to make from scratch and tastes absolutely delicious.  

Grandma Newell’s White Cake with Lemon Filling

Servings: 12

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups cake flour

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup shortening

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup milk

½ teaspoon lemon extract

5 egg whites

½ cup sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

Combine, cake flour, salt, shortening, baking powder and sugar; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Combine milk and lemon extract; add to flour mixture and beat 1 more minute. In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites and ½ cup sugar; then add to flour mixture and beat 1 minute. Pour batter into two 8-inch round layer pans and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, make lemon filling as follows:

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 eggs

1 cup water

Juice of 2 large lemons

Grated rind of 1 lemon

¼ stick butter

Mix the sugar and cornstarch. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a rotary beater and add water, lemon juice and lemon rind. Combine with sugar mixture. Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler. Add the sugar mixture and stir. Place the pan over boiling water and stir constantly until the mixture becomes thick and smooth. Remove from heat and cool.

Spread the filling on top of the first cake layer. Gently set the second cake layer on top.

Frost the layer cake with white frosting. Here’s an easy recipe:

2 egg whites

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ½ teaspoons light corn syrup

Dash of salt

1/3 cup cold water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, salt and water in the top of a double boiler. Beat for 1 minute with a rotary or electric beater. Place the pan over boiling water and beat constantly until the frosting forms peaks, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the boiling water. Add vanilla and beat until the frosting is of a spreading consistency, about 2 minutes. Chill frosting in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Frost the tops and sides of the layer cake.

Garnish the cake with fresh flowers and serve.

Game Day Loaded Potatoes

Here’s a delicious Game Day appetizer! For this year’s Super Bowl, I can’t say who I’m rooting for because I have family members in both Kansas City and Tampa Bay. As the home chief (oops! I mean, chef) I’ll just keep my mouth shut and cook; except, of course, when I’m eating tailgate-party food during the big game!

Game Day Loaded Potatoes

Ingredients:

Vegetable oil

6 medium potatoes, washed and dried

6 slices of bacon, cut into pieces (one slice bacon per potato)

1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup diced onion

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon red pepper sauce

Dash of dried parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rub vegetable oil on potatoes. Pierce potatoes with a fork and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 45-55 minutes until soft.

While potatoes are baking, cook bacon in a skillet; remove from pan and place on paper-towel-lined plate.

Mix together in a medium bowl: cheese, sour cream, bacon, onion, Dijon mustard and red pepper sauce.

When the potatoes are baked, remove from oven and slice lengthwise on top. Scoop out potato flesh, leaving about a quarter-inch in the skins, and add to cheese mixture. Stir together and then stuff the mixture into the potato skins, creating mounds.

Bake in oven until cheese melts, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley, and serve. This recipe serves 6, and can easily be doubled, tripled, etc., depending on the size of your crowd.

Tip: Serve this along with party sliders and breaded mozzarella cheese sticks–feel free to check out my recipes.

Rancher’s Slow-Cooker Soup

Here’s an sausage soup recipe that’s perfect for cold winter weather as well as a busy lifestyle. After you put together the soup ingredients, you can slow-cook it for a few hours and then enjoy a delicious meal. This recipe calls for pinto beans, but you can substitute other types of beans that you have on hand. After you transfer the soup into serving bowls, you can garnish it with cheese, sour cream, sliced avocados and/or cilantro. Whether you live on a ranch or in the city, this slow-cooker soup is easy-to-make comfort food.

Rancher’s Slow-Cooker Soup

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh sausage

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups water

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed and soaked overnight

1 bell pepper or 3 stalks of celery

1 can Rotel tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

To garnish: shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados, cilantro, etc.

Directions:

1. In a large pan, cook sausage over medium heat; remove from pan and set aside.

2. Add onion to pan and sauté until it’s soft, 5 minutes or so.

3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute or so.

4. Transfer cooked meat and sautéed vegetables to crock pot. Add the water, chicken broth, beans, bell pepper or celery, Rotel tomatoes, salt and pepper. Slow-cook on high 8-10 hours.

5. Transfer the soup to serving bowls and garnish as desired.

TIP: Serve along with a green salad and cornbread, butter and honey.

Butternut Squash Soup

This is a classic, easy-to-prepare soup that tastes delicious and warms you up on a cool, autumn day.

Ingredients:

1 medium to large butternut squash, cut in half and seeded

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons ginger

6 cups chicken broth, divided

1 teaspoon salt

A few sprigs of chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place cut side of butternut squash down on a baking dish with half-inch of water. Bake about one hour until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork. Let it cool, then scoop out the pulp and set aside.

Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and ginger, stir and cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the squash along with 4 cups of chicken broth, bring to a boil then simmer, stirring often for about 10 minutes. Puree with a handheld blender. Add the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock and salt. Heat it through for about 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley.

Tip: Serve with warm, crusty bread and butter.

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Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread is a delicious and festive way to enjoy the fall season. This recipe makes two tasty loaves–enough to share with someone special!

Ingredients:

2 2/3 cups sugar

2/3 cup butter

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

2/3 cup water

4 eggs

3 1/3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon baking powder

2/3 cup chopped nuts

2/3 cup raisins

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two loaf pans, 9 x 5 x 3 inches.

Mix sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl. Add pumpkin, water and eggs. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder. Add nuts and raisins.

Pour into pans and bake 70 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool pans on a wire rack about 10 minutes, then gently loosen the loaves from the pan with a sharp knife or spatula. Remove from pans and let cool before slicing.

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Homemade Beef Stew

Beef stew is comfort food at its finest. The ordinary ingredients meld together into a satisfying, savory meal. The types of vegetables and herbs can be altered, resulting in endless variations of this classic recipe. The following recipe serves 4; if you’re expecting more people, the ingredients can be doubled, tripled, etc. so everyone can enjoy a bit of good ole, down-home cooking.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1/2 cup flour

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 onion, peeled and diced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced

1 cup celery, sliced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 cup red or white wine

4 cups beef broth

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried herbs (oregano, thyme, savory, etc.)

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced

A few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper, as needed

Directions:

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Combine flour and pepper in a small bowl. Dredge the meat in the flour/pepper mixture. Sear a little meat at a time in the hot oil, turning the pieces until meat is browned on all sides; remove meat from pot. Add more oil as needed between each batch of meat.

In the same pot, sauté the onions, garlic, carrots and celery on medium-high heat. Remove vegetables from pot.

Deglaze the pot with red wine vinegar and wine, scraping bottom of pot with a spatula. Add beef broth, bay leaves and herbs. Add the meat and the vegetables to the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour-and-a-half, stirring often, until the meat is fork-tender. Add the potatoes; cover and simmer about 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Add parsley and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Ladle into bowls and serve. Tip: Serve with warm, crusty bread and butter.

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Apple Hand Pies

Apple hand pies—also known as apple turnovers—are individual serving sizes of traditional apple pie, an all-American favorite. This old family recipe is easy to follow and quite versatile, as any type of pie filling will work. Hand pies make a delicious dessert and are easy to serve to a crowd. And for those who like to eat pie for breakfast, including those who are trying to get out the door, they are a very convenient to-go item!

Number of servings: 4

Ingredients:

Crust:

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup butter

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

Filling:

2 large apples, peeled, cored and diced

2 tablespoons butter

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon water

Topping:

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For the crust, place the flour in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form. Add sugar and baking powder. Whisk egg and milk in a small bowl and stir; add to the flour mixture.

For the filling, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in apples; sprinkle with salt, sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon; add water. Cook and stir apple mixture until apples are softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer apple filling to a plate and set aside to cool.

Form the dough into four balls; place one dough ball on a floured surface and roll into a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Spoon about 1/3 cup of apple filling into center of circle. Fold over dough and press the edges together with a lightly-floured fork. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Place hand pies on an ungreased baking sheet (or line baking sheet with parchment paper).

For the topping, whisk egg with milk; brush top of each hand pie with egg mixture, sprinkle with about ¼ tablespoon sugar and cut three small vent holes on top of each pie crust.

Bake in the preheated oven until hand pies are golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

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Grandma’s Rollie-Up Crepes

This old family recipe was submitted by William A. “Bill” Chapman of the Clarence Scott Ranch, a ranch in western Yolo County, California that was originally homesteaded by Bill’s great-grandfather George Washington Scott (1829-1912) in 1850. Bill’s paternal grandmother, Louise Carin Gross Chapman (1882-1948), enjoyed making her famous rollie-up crepes and usually doubled the recipe for her large family. Louise was born to German parents in the seaport city of Odessa, Ukraine, and her family immigrated to South Dakota in 1886 and then to Oregon in 1888. Louise became a nurse and eventually moved to St. Helena, California to work at the Seventh-day Adventist Hospital. That’s where she met George Mandred Chapman, a young widower from nearby Winters, California, who needed help taking care of his infant daughter. Louise became the resident nanny and soon she and George were married.  Five children were born from that union; Bill’s father, George Walker Chapman III, was the eldest of those children. Grandma Louise’s family recipe was passed down to Bill’s father, who carried on the tradition, cooking 12-inch crepes on his large griddle. Bill has many happy memories of returning from church and eating rollie-up crepes for breakfast with his family. These delicious crepes use basic ingredients and are easy to make–enjoy!

Grandma’s Rollie-Up Crepes

1 Cup Milk

1 Cup Flour

1 Cup Water

1 Egg

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon (optional)

Combine all ingredients. Cook on a light-weight, buttered griddle with a handle. Place a ladle of batter on the medium-heated griddle. Lift and rotate the griddle to allow the batter to spread into a thin crepe covering a majority of the griddle area. Cook until light brown–edges will brown–then flip (turn crepe over) with a broad spatula; cook the underside to a light brown (allow the moisture bubbles to cook off, i.e., steam). Remove from the griddle and place on a serving plate. When served, add butter, jelly, jam, honey, etc.

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Pan-Fried Fish

Our family friend Wesley went fishing in Bodega Bay, California and caught this ling cod in the Pacific Ocean. I fried it up in a cast-iron skillet, using a recipe that my mother always used whenever our family caught fish during our frequent camping-and-fishing trips. I grew up in a boating family and we enjoyed catching fish and cooking them in a cast-iron skillet on our propane camp stove. We had a red fiberglass boat named the Red Snapper. We would launch our boat and go fishing (and water-skiing!) in various lakes throughout Northern California. My dad taught my sister Ann and me how to clean the fish, and my mom (a native of Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, The Musky Capital of the World) showed us how to cook it. It’s a simple recipe that tastes delicious. This is down-home cooking–even when you’re away from home!

Ingredients:

Fish filets, 1 pound

Cornmeal, 1 2/3 cups

Flour, 1/3 cup

A dash of seasoning salt

2 Eggs, beaten (optional)

Water

Oil (I used rice bran oil for this batch of fish, but any vegetable oil will do)

Mix flour, cornmeal and seasoning salt together in one bowl. In another bowl, mix eggs with water. Heat oil in a skillet. Dip each fish filet in the egg/water mixture (or just plain water), then dredge both sides of the filet in the cornmeal/flour/seasoning salt mixture. Place in skillet and cook until golden brown on each side; the fish should be opaque (not translucent like when it’s raw) when you nudge it with a spatula. Remove each filet from pan; place on paper-towel-covered platter that will absorb excess oil.

Serve with tartar sauce (made by mixing together mayonnaise and pickle relish in a small bowl). Fried fish tastes great with sides of rice and steamed vegetables, crusty French bread and your favorite beverage.