What’s in that dish?
June 30, 2007
Once upon a time when he was a University of Michigan dental student, Jonathan Kolon learned to bake Mule Cookies from a vegan chef named Jeff in his Michigan commune.
Kolon surmises the dessert is as old as the 40-year-old Ann Arbor cooperative itself, and when he prepares the cookies for Park City friends, he still uses the same bowl and spoon as he did a decade ago items he inherited when the commune disbanded.
He recites the recipe by heart and by cups: one cup of oats, one cup of soy milk, one cup of carob chips, about a cup of honey, etc. As he mixes and measures the ingredients, he enjoys the memories of dinners with his old roommates and Jeff, who he remembers as "a funny cat," and a fellow cyclist. Along with living together, they also worked together at a local bicycle shop.
Kolon recalls Jeff would pack the cookies into 80 pounds of camping gear for overnight bike tours.
"Making the cookies is cool," he says. "It fires me up and brings me back."
These days Kolon is no longer vegan or living in a commune. He practices dentistry and runs his own bike shop in Silver Creek.
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Like most potluck dishes, shared with friends more than once and tweaked over time, the Mule Cookies have become Kolon’s. He’s changed it to reflect his new lifestyle, switching from carob chips to milk chocolate chips and from wheat to white flour.
His friends often ask him for the cookie recipe, he says, but he hasn’t written it down. Though he often thinks of posting it on his Web site, he hasn’t yet.
Fellow Park City resident Val Chin has kept her cherished potluck recipe for potato salad memorized as well.
For 30 years she has used rough measurements and taste to make 12 pounds of the salad for an annual Fourth of July party in Park Meadows. It’s a recipe that’s evolved over 80 years in her family, she says — a combination of her mother’s and her aunt’s version.
"The salad’s decadent — it’s lots of bacon. It’s basically a heart attack in a bowl," she confesses. "You can only really serve it once or twice a year then you have to make up for it the rest of the year, through exercise and eating healthy."
But "Val’s Potato Salad" and its bowl (only used for the salad, she says) have practically become "infamous" with long-time Parkites in her cul-de-sac. By the end of the mega Independence Day block party, while others might offer the leaner alternative, Chin returns home with a clean bowl. "Mine is always gone," she beams.
Kyle Witt, who has been Chin’s neighbor on and off since his childhood, plans to return to the party next week. If he can find the recipe, he says he would like to bring the coleslaw he remembers another old neighbor, Bob Powers, used to make before he retired and moved to Arizona.
"He was a Delta pilot and lived on that cul-de-sac as long as I can remember," Witt recalls. "And every year for our Fourth of July party, he’d always make this garlic coleslaw, and I was never coleslaw fan before it. But as soon as I tried it, I was just in awe of it and always wanted it and looked forward to it every year," Witt says.
Only recently Witt learned Powers passed away, but he says the memories of Powers and his dish lives on. He and his friends still reminisce about it.
Marianne Cone, a Park City councilwoman, also knows something about being identified with a recipe or two. She has two go-to dishes for potlucks she adapted from magazines: spinach cheese squares and fruit crumble.
Cone often changes the ingredients using blueberries for the crumble this time, for example, instead of apples but, usually friends recognize the recipe as Cone’s.
"The spinach squares are dead easy and people equate me with that one and you can adapt it any way you want," she said. "But even when I change it, people still ask, ‘is that the same recipe, only with salmon?’ It is."
To post or read other recipes, visit: http://parkrecordfoodiesblog.blogspot.com
Vegan (and non-vegan)
2 cups of oats, steel cut rolled oats (or regular)
1 cup soy milk (or skim milk)
1 cup carob chips (or milk chocolate chips)
1 cup peanuts
¾ cup of honey
1 cup whole wheat pastry four (or regular white flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir until mixed. Pour mixture into a greased 12-inch-by-12-inch pan. Bake in oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes.
Recipe: courtesy of Jonathan Kolon
Val’s Potato Salad
10 pounds of red potatoes, pealed, boiled al dente and cubed
12 large hardboiled eggs sliced
1 pound bacon fried and crumbled (save bacon grease)
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ quart sized jar of mayonnaise (Best Foods brand preferred)
Beaumonde (a spice) to taste
White vinegar to taste
Sugar to taste
2 bunches of green onion, chopped
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Yields approximately 12 pounds.
Recipe: courtesy of Val Chin
Marianne’s Spinach Cheese Squares
2 ounces butter
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 pound cheddar cheese, grated
1 large bag chopped, frozen spinach
Thaw spinach and squeeze out liquid. Melt butter in a nine-by-13-inch pan in preheated 350-degree oven. Beat eggs in bowl. Add flour, milk salt and baking powder. Add cheese and spinach, mixing well. Spread evenly into pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool 30 minutes before serving. Cut into squares. To warm, reheat for 30 seconds in microwave. Squares freeze well.
Recipe: courtesy of Marianne Cone
Marianne’s Fruit Crumble
2 cups fruit (blueberries, plums or mixtures)
1 lemon, juiced
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
5 tablespoons butter/canola oil mixture, melted
1 egg white
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup flour
¾ cup oats
½ cup walnuts, chopped
Put fruit in nine-inch square baking pan. Add sugar, lemon and cornstarch in a large bowl and stir gently and then beat in butter/oil mixture and sugar until smooth. Add egg white and vanilla to large bowl and beat until blended and stir in flour, oats and walnuts. Crumble mixture evenly over fruit. Bake at 350 degrees in the oven for 45-60 minutes until top is rich browned and fruit is bubbly.
Recipe: Courtesy of Marianne Cone.