Enjoy the tastes of long ago by whipping up one or more of these tasty Hoosier recipes.
Cooking On The Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
The annual re-enactment of Indiana’s only Civil War battle (Battle of Corydon, July 9, 1863) was a good time for me to visit Corydon, located just west of Louisville, Kentucky. This is farm country, known for growing popcorn. Wineries are springing up in the area thanks to a growing number of vineyards, and some planters are adding apple and berry essences to their wines.
Don’t miss Corydon’s traditional town square, home of Butt Drugs. The business has become the object of so many jokes that the owners decided to quit fighting it and sell T-shirts that capitalize on their name. Have an old-fashioned cone at Emery’s Ice Cream, tour the original courthouse, and check out the antiques shops.
I asked local folks about old-time recipes that date back to early days along the Ohio River. Pioneers poured into the area to plant fields of corn, beans, and tobacco, and to raise hogs. Housewives tilled gardens filled with herbs, rhubarb, tomatoes, and cabbage. Children spent summers collecting blackberries, wild strawberries, elderberries, morel mushrooms, and wild persimmons.
They’re all still favorites on southern Indiana tables. These easy, tasty recipes will bring “back home again in Indiana” nostalgia to your next motorhome trip. For more information about Corydon, call (888) 738-2137 or visit http://www.thisisindiana.org/.
Southern Indiana Blackberry Cobbler
Local cooks have different versions of this recipe, but they all use generous amounts of juicy, flavorful, local blackberries.
4 cups blackberries, rinsed and picked over
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ stick butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Drain the blackberries well and toss in a bowl or bag with the cornstarch and the cup of sugar. Place the berries in a greased baking pan and dot with the 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake for 15 minutes. In the same bowl, whisk the flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, the 1/2-stick of melted butter, an egg, and milk. Drizzle the batter over the hot berries and bake for another 15 minutes or until the berries are bubbly and the topping is golden. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, whipped topping, or cream.
Ohio River Pork Cake
Salt pork serves as both salt and “shortening” in this dense, flavorful cake. Serve it with whipped topping, vanilla sauce, or whipped cream.
1 cup very finely chopped salt pork
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie or apple pie spice
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup molasses
1 cup sugar
1 cup raisins
Put the salt pork in a large bowl and add the boiling water. Let the pork stand until it cools. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan. Shake the spices and flour together in a resealable bag to mix. Stir the baking soda into the molasses and add this to the pork, along with the flour mixture, sugar, and raisins. Mix until everything is evenly moistened and dump into the greased pan. The batter will be lumpy. Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool and serve in slices. Each cake makes 12 to 16 portions. Refrigerate the leftovers.
Janet’s note: Use light molasses or, for an even milder taste, substitute corn syrup or pancake syrup.
Grandma Ambrosia’s Oatmeal Pie
This recipe, given to me by Debi Frederick, is a favorite at Frederick’s Café on the square in Corydon. It is related to pecan pie (but much more affordable), and forms a sweet, custard-like center, with oats and coconut adding chewy texture.
1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup quick oats (not instant, not old-fashioned)
½ cup coconut
1 unbaked pie shell
In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar and add the remaining ingredients. Put the filling in a pie shell and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
Margaret Schad’s Bruschetta
Mike Schad, a toolmaker, and his wife, Margaret, a registered nurse, realized a lifelong dream when they left the city and took up country life on 5.5 acres west of Corydon. Now married 36 years, they are happy winemakers, farmers specializing in heirloom varieties, and small-batch bakers of outstanding specialty breads. Stop by Scout Mountain Farms any day of the week, noon to 6:00 p.m., to stock up on wines by the case, plants, heirloom seeds, and foods they have in the pantry.
Margaret’s bruschetta looks pretty standard until you taste it. Heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers have flavor that can’t be found in vegetables from factory farms. Here is my version of her recipe. Use yellow and red tomatoes if possible.
3 cups mixed heirloom tomatoes, finely chopped and drained
1 sweet onion, finely diced
1 ½ cups heirloom cucumbers, peeled and finely chopped
Oil and vinegar dressing to taste
1 baguette, thinly sliced and toasted
Mix the tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, and dressing and chill while the flavors blend. Serve with a draining spoon so each person can make one at a time, placing a dollop of bruschetta atop a slice of baguette.
Use vegetables fresh from the farmer if you can find them, or used canned or frozen vegetables to save time.
1 quart fresh green beans
2 cups lima beans, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 large onion, diced
2 15-ounce cans whole-kernel corn, drained
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon celery seed
½ stick butter, cut up
Freshly ground pepper, salt to taste
Trim the green beans, cut into bite-size pieces, and put into a pot with a small amount of water. Add the lima beans and onion and bring the water to a boil. When the vegetables are tender, add the corn and sugar to heat through. Add the celery seed and butter and stir until the butter melts. Season to taste.
Janet’s note: If you use fresh Indiana sweet corn, it takes about six ears to equal two cans. Cut the kernels off the cob and cook them with the beans. The result is a sweeter, more creamy succotash. For even creamier succotash, use one can whole-kernel corn and one can cream-style corn.
Indiana Morsels & Salmon
2 servings salmon fillets
8 ounces morel mushrooms
1 small shallot, finely diced
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup white wine or white grape juice
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
While the salmon cooks according to your favorite method, fry the mushrooms and shallots in melted butter. When the morels turn toasty brown, stir in the wine and tarragon and cook over high heat until the sauce is reduced. Pour the mushroom sauce over the salmon and garnish with a lemon wedge. This recipe makes two servings.
Indiana Persimmon Pudding
If you’re lucky, you may stumble upon wild, ripe persimmons in the woods. Don’t think about eating them unless they are soft to the touch. It’s quicker and easier to buy large Japanese persimmons at the market. Again, they should be squishy ripe. This is a great recipe for a cool day when it feels good to run the oven.
2 cups finely mashed ripe persimmons
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 cups flour
1 ½ quarts milk (6 cups)
Set the oven for 350 degrees. Whisk the persimmon pulp with the eggs, gradually adding the sugar. Add the baking soda to the flour and add alternately with the milk until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter into a greased casserole or pan and dot with bits of butter. Bake for two hours, stirring every 20 minutes. The pudding will be dense, heavy, moist, and walnut brown. Serve it warm with light cream.
Janet’s note: Don’t be tempted to add cinnamon, vanilla, or other flavorings. Persimmons have a unique flavor, both fruity and nutty, so let it shine through.
Indiana Dilly Bread
In earlier times, the first taste of silky-fine dill in springtime was like a tonic after a winter of eating only root vegetables. This bread is easy enough to make in the RV galley.
Use an electric mixer if you have one. Hand mixing makes a coarser loaf, but it’s still delicious. It can be baked in a casserole, a loaf pan, or any pan. Just keep in mind that it doubles in size.
1 packet yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup cottage cheese at room temperature
2 cups flour (plus more as needed)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup fresh dill, very finely chopped
Set the oven for 350 degrees and grease the pan(s). In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Let this stand for five minutes, then stir in the sugar, the cottage cheese, and the egg. Starting with 2 cups flour, add the flour and the baking soda to make a thick dough. Sprinkle the top lightly with flour; cover with a clean dish towel; and put in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.
Stir down the dough, adding the dill, and put it into the greased pan(s). Let the dough rise for 30 minutes and bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees or until the bread is golden brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped. Run the end of a stick of butter over the top of the hot loaf. Tear into chunks to serve warm with more butter. To serve in slices, cool it outside the pan and wrap the loaf to slice it the next day.