Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mid-Week Musings - Trees of Heaven and Heavenly Spice Mixes

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...City kids, particularly those now on Social Security rolls, will remember this tree. It was a fixture on city lots and, like Jack's bean stalk, it grew heavenward despite rooting in ground so barren that its death knell should have sounded. For reasons that defy logic or taxonomy, the tree, whose odor is much like that of cat urine, was dubbed, the Tree of Heaven. I came across one on my walk this morning and it triggered this reverie. Back in the day, preteen boys and girls tended to run in packs, and bikes and skates and baseball were all unisex endeavors. So, too, were the feudal war games that involved swords and whips and forever endeared the Tree of Heaven to the lords and ladies of the court. Weapons were made by stripping leaves from its branches and taking after opponents with a vengeance that Tarzan and Wonder Woman would envy. It was all in good fun and truly child's play for a generation who would retire with bits of gravel still embedded in their knees. We skated without helmets or shin guards, and scabby knees and elbows were as much apart of our childhood as school shoes. The occasional welt from an errant "whip" was disguised whenever possible, because moms, even in those days of laissez-faire parenting, frowned on certain of our activities. We were generally left to our own devices. Homework had to be done and school clothes put away, but once that was accomplished, we were on our own until dark or dinner, whichever came first. Dinner back then was considerably different than it is today. FDA guidelines specified 3 vegetables be served for optimum health, and, God bless those moms of yesteryear, that is what we got. Of course, the vegetables came from cans and our repetitious meals made those that are served today look like food for the gods. I could tell you what day of the week it was by what appeared on my mother's dinner table. There usually was a dessert and certain spice mixes were kept to help keep pantry inventory and cost low. Pie spices, apple and pumpkin, both were popular. While I don't regularly use them, I keep those spice mixes on hand for busy days when the goal is done rather than do. The holiday season will soon be here and I thought some of you might like to make your own pie spices this year. Their aroma certainly beats that of the Tree of Heaven. These are the recipes I use.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

4 teaspoons cinnamon or 3 teaspoons cinnamon + 1 teaspoon mace
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves


Stir all ingredients together in a bowl and store in an airtight container. Adjust spices to personal taste.

Apple Pie Spice Mix...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons allspice
1 teaspoons nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


Mix all the spices together, and store in an airtight container.

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                                                    Older Posts

                   One Year Ago Today:                                                 Two Years Ago Today:
             Onion Bacon and Spinach Tart                               Baked Shells with Cauliflower and Cheese

              Three Years Ago Today:                                                    Four Years Ago Today: 
               Spiced Corn on the Cob                                              White Chocolate and Lime Cookies


From the Kitchen said...

Oh my! I was right there with you--especially the errant "whelp" on legs. Mother kept a "switch" and as long as we kept to the rules (much like yours), we were spared. Those were the days, my friend!


Tim G said...

Pumpkin Pie Spice - you have cinnamon listed twice: 3 teaspoons plus 4 teaspoons. Is this correct??

Mary Bergfeld said...

Thanks Tim. I've made the correction.

Susan Lindquist said...

What a good idea it is, Mary to make some of these spice mixes ahead of the baking crunch! I like the addition of mace to the pumpkin pie spice mix !

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