Monday, March 6, 2017

Growing Pineapple?

Do you grow pineapple?  Me either!  Not outside in our Zone 5.  

Since I'm in the gardening mood but we're not into gardening warm weather, I thought I'd take a little pineapple trip into my recipe book.

My mother was at the beginning of the commercially canned food era in the Midwest farming scene.  Previously, we pretty much ate what we grew.  Occasionally, we would see a beautiful orange around Christmas, but typically not much in the way of tropical fruit made it to our table.

When commercial canning arrived at our local groceries, pineapple became a huge favorite.  It was used with pork, salads, desserts, jellies and snacks.  Every farm woman had cans of sliced, cubed and crushed pineapple ready for every meal.  

My first 4-H salad project was a leaf of lettuce, a pineapple slice, a ice cream scoop of cottage cheese (we made our own) and topped with a maraschino cherry.  Yes, I was a culinary whiz kid!

One favorite was pineapple upside down cake.  An easy replacement for the pie we had every single day of our lives.  On birthdays, we were always treated to homemade angel food cake iced in a combo of whipped cream (we had our own cream) with bits of pineapple or fruit cocktail.  Heaven on a cake plate!

Following is the pineapple salad considered our "company food"; always on the table for Easter Sunday's family feast.  I still like it although the rest of my family look at it as if I'm trying to poison them.  Today it's not that special treat we had when we were given something rare and exceptional.  

Pineapple-Cheddar Cheese Salad

1 - Egg
1/2 Cup - Sugar
2 Tablespoons - Flour
1 Cup - Pineapple juice (drained from a can of pineapple tidbits.  Add water to equal one cup if needed.)
Dash - Salt

1 Cup - Pineapple Tidbits - drained and liquid reserved for above
1 Cup - Cheddar cheese (Dice into small pieces)

Cook first 5 ingredients over low heat until thickened.  Stir to keep from burning.  Cool completely, then gently stir in remaining ingredients, blending well.  Keep covered until served.

(If you stir in the cheese before the mixture is cooled, it will melt and then it doesn't have that contrast of flavors in your mouth.  Even if you serve it warm, make sure it's cool enough to keep the cheese from melting.  Having a contrast in flavors is also why I dice the cheese instead of using grated.)

Served warm - it's considered a side.  Served cold - it's a salad.  Can be made the day before if kept refrigerated and covered.

It's good with baked ham and that's probably why we always had it for Easter dinner.  It's bright and cheery with just enough tang.   

Serves 8.

To make it into a dessert (served cold) add when cooled:

1 Cup - Chopped pecans
1 Cup - Miniature Marshmallows

With the dessert additions, it must be used the same day as the pecans will get soft and the marshmallows will start to melt.

Pineapple is still a favorite of cooks - plain and gourmet - because of it's nutrients, flavor and now availability.  

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