Ruthless Cooking (A Very Special Guest Post)

Today, we have a guest post from a bit of a surprising source, my mother.  Enjoy!

Rutheless Cooking:
 I have been invited to “guest blog” on my daughter’s account.  I am the aforementioned mother who “opened a can of Campbell’s soup when my daughter was sick”.  Hard to admit, but I’m not the queen of the kitchen.  Nevertheless, when pressed into service for my Jane Austen book club, I managed to come up with a good meal thanks to my friends.
We started with the cold avocado and cucumber soup with crabmeat that The Hungry Hippo posted.

Very yummy!  And surprisingly easy.
Next we feasted on a variety of vegetarian dishes (disclaimer: there is bacon in the Calico Beans).  I neglected to photograph the lovely presentation in serving dishes, but this will give you an idea of the meal.

Starting clockwise from the top:

Sweet Slaw, Calico Beans, New Potatoes w/ Peas and Mint, and (according to my daughter) the driest chicken ever!

All of these are wicked easy to prepare, and all can be made ahead of time and reheated before dinner.  Well, I guess, except for the chicken!
A few days before the book club meeting, I was out to dinner at Atlantic Fish Company and had a scrumptious corn pudding.  I tried to duplicate it via a recipe I found on the internet.  Mine was not quite as moist, but I’m sure with a little tinkering, you could make it exactly the way you want it.
Finally, the dessert came via a recipe I got 45 years ago (how did I get this old??) from my college roommate’s mother, Mrs. Rakosky.  Still easy, still delicious.  BTW, when I was looking for the cake mix and the pudding mix, I saw that they have cake mixes now with pudding included.  One step saved!

That is my new Jane Austen "action figure" watching over what's left of the dessert. She was a gift from a friend and came with her own quill pen, writing desk and a copy of Pride & Prejudice under her arm!

My daughter was very proud of me for doing all this cooking, and I only had to call her a few times along the way for advice!

Slaw Salad

Serves 8-10, leftovers are fine



1 package of ramen noodles (chicken flavored) (I used Oriental flavor)

either one head of cabbage or, easier, one or two bags of slaw salad

½ cup toasted almonds

3 tablespoons of sesame seeds


2 Tablespoons sugar

¼ cup cider vinegar  (could use champagne vinegar if you have it)

¼ cup vegetable oil (I used only 1/8 cup)

¼ sesame oil

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon pepper

chicken seasoning from ramen


Thinly slice cabbage and put into a large bowl.  Or just open the bags and drop the slaw in!

In a dry pan, lightly toast the almonds, making sure not to let them burn.  Or just throw in untoasted almonds.

Combine all of the dressing ingredients and mix well until sugar is dissolved.

Put ramen noodles in a plastic baggie and crumble them into small pieces.

Add the ramen, almonds and sesame seeds to the cabbage and mix well.

Pour the dressing and toss well.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This slaw can be made the day before.


Here is an easier, similar recipe.

1 bag slaw salad

1 cup toasted slivered almonds from Trader Joe’s

2 pkgs of Oriental (not chicken) Ramen Noodles


Mix first two ingredients in a bowl.  Put the noodles in a Ziploc bag and smash them up.  Do not add noodles until the very end.

In a separate bowl, mix the following:

1 scant cup canola oil

6 Tablespoons sugar

6 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 pkg of the Oriental seasoning from the noodles

When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the slaw and mix.  Add the noodles and give it a good toss.


Easy Corn Pudding


1 (15 oz.) can of creamed corn

1 (15.25 ounce) can of whole kernel corn

¼ lb. butter, softened

1 (8.5 ounce) package of corn bread mix (I used Jiffy corn muffin mix)

1 (8 ounce) container of sour cream (optional)

2 eggs

water from corn cans


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put butter in a 2 quart casserole dish, place in oven until melted.

2. Remove casserole dish and add creamed corn, kernel corn, corn muffin mix and sour cream.

3. Mix well, bake uncovered approximately 30 minutes.  (I needed to leave it in a lot longer to get the top to brown a little.)

Several of the comments after this recipe recommended adding two eggs (which I did).  They also said to use the water in the whole kernel corn can as well (which I also did).  I’m sure you can experiment with many aspects of this recipe.


Calico Beans (from Lady Gouda)


1/2 lb bacon, chopped

1 onion, diced


1/2 cup ketchup

3/4 cup brown sugar                                            

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon prepared mustard (Dijon works)


50 oz or so of canned beans (5 cans): I like to use any combo of black, kidney, butter beans, garbanzo, navy beans or white beans.


Set oven to 350 degrees. Fry up the chopped bacon over medium heat until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and put aside. Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix together the ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar and mustard. Toss together the beans, onions and bacon and pour the sauce over top. Mix thoroughly and pour into a 9 x 13 pan. Cook uncovered for 45-60 minutes. Enjoy!

Mrs. Rakosky’s Poppy Seed Cake via My Family’s Table author’s second cookbook, p. 14.  Or here.

2 thoughts on “Ruthless Cooking (A Very Special Guest Post)

  1. I was at the Jane Austen meeting at Ruthe’s home and can say first hand the food was quite good and the recipes are well worth trying. Despite not being the “queen of the kitchen”, Ruthe came through!

  2. Mum has definitely come a long way in the kitchen. And only three phone calls this time, to check ingredients/substitutions/etc. 🙂

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