Butter Cream Frosting


  • 1 small can (8 oz.) of chilled evaporated milk
  • 1 cup shortening  (you can substitute in 1/2 cup butter or a full cup butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Cream shortening and sugar together
  2. add evaporated milk until the sugar is dissolved
  3. add vanilla extract
  4. mix about 1 minute more
  5. Put frosting into the fridge until you are ready to put it on cake or cup cakes.

Notes, hints, and substitutions:

  • This is good on any cake or cake-like breads. For example, it goes just as well on banana, carrot, zucchini breads as it would on a chocolate cake.
  • You need to chill the evaporated milk first, otherwise this recipe does not work. Chill it for at least a few hours in the fridge.
  • You can substitute the shortening with butter except in very hot, humid weather. In which case, I use 1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter.  Grandma Bednarski used shortening only (no butter) in hot sticky weather; she preferred Crisco brand.

Dan’s note: Shortening refers to Crisco. Please note that Crisco is a partially hydrogenated, trans-fat. Recently, a lot of health news has been made about how bad partially hydrogenated fats are for you. Essentially, those fats are more likely than others to clog arteries. But whoever said butter cream frosting was health food. As this recipe provides, the alternative is butter (not exactly diet food either).

Chocolate Cake


  • 1 3/4 cup flour,
  • 2 cup sugar,
  • 1/2 cup oil,
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder,
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda,
  • 1 teaspoon salt,
  • 1 cup coffee,
  • 2 eggs,
  • 1 cup sour milk,
  • 3/4 cup cocoa,
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla.


  1. Put everything in a large bowl and beat for two minutes.
  2. Bake in a 350 degree oven, for 35 to 40 minutes.

Notes, hints, and substitutions:

  1. I have made this for 30 years. My friend Jane gave it to me.
  2. This is a very moist cake.
  3. You can use any regular cooking oil such as canola oil or olive oil
  4. Use pre-made or instant coffee. WARNING: Do NOT do what Danny did and use coffee grounds (what a surprise!).
  5. You can sour milk by adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice.

Nana’s Ice Box Dessert


  • 1/2 lb. graham cracker
  • 1/2 lb. dates
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 lb. marshmallows
  • 2/3 cup cream


  1. Roll the crackers. (I assume, she means use a rolling pin to crush the graham crackers.)
  2. Mix all ingredients, except 1/4 cup of crushed/rolled graham crackers.
  3. Shape into a roll, then roll the roll over the 1/4 cup graham crackers that you saved.
  4. Place in refrigerator for 12 hours.
  5. Slice
  6. Serve with whipped cream (optional)

btw: posted for my mom and aunts (the nana referenced is their nana).

Nana’s Pie Crust


  • 1/2 cup shortening *see note below
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder


Mix ingredients and moisten with ice water. Use a tablespoon at a time until dough holds together. Don’t work the dough too much, or it will be tough.

Notes, hints, and substitutions:

  • To double, use 14 tablespoons of water.
  • Shortening probably refers to Crisco; however, note that Crisco is a partially hydrogenated, trans-fat. Recently, a lot of health news has been made about how bad partially hydrogenated fats are for you. Essentially, those fats are more likely than others to clog arteries. But whoever said pie was health food. The alternative is butter (not exactly diet food either).

Tomato Ginger Stew

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes


  • 4 or 5 large, fresh tomatoes. The sweeter, more ripe, and softer, the better.
  • Thumbsize piece of young ginger.
  • 2 eggs
  • small chunk of rock sugar
  • About two tablespoons of cooking oil. I use canola or olive oil.

I use a wok when preparing this dish. If you don’t have one, try this in a pot you’d prepare marinara sauce in.


  1. Cut the ginger into thick cross sections. Crush a little with the back of your knife to bring out some more flavor.
  2. Put the tomatoes into boiling water for about two minutes or until the skin breaks on one of them. You might find it easier to do two or three batches.
  3. Immediately after you pull the tomatoes out of the boiling water, rinse them in cold tap water. This will stop the boiling.
  4. Peel the skin from the tomatoes, then quarter them. Put them in a bowl.


  1. Season the wok using the ginger. To do this, put the oil in the wok and turn the heat on high. When you see small bubbles in the oil, add the ginger. Stir the ginger around every 10 seconds or so for about two or three minutes.
  2. Pour in the tomatoes and any juices collected in the bowl. Mix them around a little bit in the wok to disperse the ginger. Stir every 30 seconds, or so. After about three minutes, if the tomatoes haven’t broken down and the mixture isn’t too liquidy, add 1/2 cup of water. Stir some more.
  3. Turn down to medium heat once the liquid starts to boil. The goal is to keep it at a high simmer but to not boil.
  4. Add in the sugar after you turn down the heat. Stir.
  5. Cook 5 minutes, then turn heat down to low, cover and cook for five more minutes.
  6. Remove to heat resistant bowl.
  7. Rinse wok (no need to clean it, yet) then reheat it.
  8. Start to scramble the egg on medium. Pour in the tomato stew when the egg is half done. By half done, I mean it is half solid and half runny. Stir the mixture some more.

Tomato Ginger Stew
Notes, hints, and substitutions:

  1. You can substitute the young ginger with regular ginger which is generally more pungent with a stronger flavor. If you do use regular ginger, use a smaller piece. I will use 1/3 less regular ginger. Prepare the same way. You can also shred the ginger if you like.
  2. When seasoning the wok, you can also throw in some garlic.
  3. I’ve never used regular sugar but that would probably work, particularly if you use the brown molasses type sugar.
  4. You can skip the fried egg step altogether by adding the egg in step 6 before covering or by frying the egg completely in another pan. I’ve done it each way.
  5. Like most stews, this tastes better the next day. The ginger has more time to share its flavor.