Thursday, March 22, 2012

Popcorn for Breakfast

Popcorn for breakfast! Why not? It's a grain. It's like, like, grits, but with high self-esteem.
-James Patterson, The Angel Experiment

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More on Buttermilk

Try diluting ranch or blue cheese dressing with buttermilk or plain yogurt. It's delicious. We like to dip chopped raw broccoli and chopped bell peppers in it on picnics.

Monday, March 19, 2012


I love buttermilk. Recently I bought some and used it to make buttermilk scones and then I used it in place of milk when making coleslaw. It is so good I might start culturing my own.

The acidity of buttermilk also explains its long refrigerator shelf life. Acid is a natural preservative because it inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria. This is true for yogurt, sourdough bread, pickles and sauerkraut too.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Nothing to Fear

I am so saddened that nearly everyone I know is afraid of food. I bake nearly every day and I love to share food. There is nothing to fear except joy! I am not fat. I am quite fit, too. I walk or ride my bike everywhere. I agree with the runners who say "listen to your body." If I want chocolate I eat it. If I want apple pie or scones I make them and eat them and share them. I love vegetables, cheese, meat, everything is good! I love to listen to my body and fulfill its wishes.

I used to be afraid of food, mostly because I got stomach aches all the time as a child and didn't know why. We were a family of hypochondriacs, and I learned to be afraid of my body. I was sure I wouldn't live to be 16. It has been a long haul for me. But I have overcome the fears of food and the body. I wish I could convince people to rejoice in their cravings and satisfy them. Put your love of life into creating, sharing, and eating good food! The effort and the sharing is part of the reward.

Many of the women I know don't trust themselves to have good food or leftovers in the house. They fear they will not stop eating. I think of a friend who thought being self-employed meant I would just sit home and read all day. Maybe you need to do that for a spell, but you will get down to work. What's wrong with that? Maybe when you bake your first pumpkin pie you'll eat more than usual, but not forever. The act of making a pie will energize you. Maybe it will inspire you to take a long walk. You will adjust to having good pies in your home. You will learn to trust yourself, but it will take time, like raising a child or a puppy. If you can't listen to and trust yourself, how can you trust anything in life? Isn't that what we are here to do? What do we want to pass along to our children, fear, or a love of life?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hot Italian

Jamie Sullivan makes his own Italian hot sausages and I am simmering half a dozen of them with three cans of tomato puree, celery, a chopped eggplant, chopped olives, my home grown dried basil, dried bay leaves, fresh garlic, and a splash of red wine. The pot will simmer all day making the house smell divine.

Jamie's Corned Beef

My beloved butcher Jamie Sullivan corns his own beef in beet dyed brine. We are simmering it now in spices and a whole onion as he instructs. The house smells like Christmas.

Friday, March 16, 2012



Dog Toy

I just made a dog toy. I took an empty plastic water bottle and sewed it inside a an old denim pant leg. Hours of fun for Lily. She loves the crinkle sound!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi Day

Today is Pi day and Table Talk Pie (of Worcester) donated 150 pies to Spirit of Knowledge Charter High School. Table Talk Pies donated 16,000 pies to schools in Worcester and surrounding towns in Massachusetts.

Larry Shaw created Pi Day in 1988. The holiday was celebrated at the San Francisco Exploratorium, where Shaw worked as a physicist,with staff and public marching around one of its circular spaces, then consuming fruit pies. The Exploratorium continues to hold Pi Day celebrations.

Donna's Polenta Cake

My photographer friend Donna Ruzzano lives in Cypress. She grew up on Federal Hill ~ The Little Italy of Providence. She worked for years at her parents Italian restaurant. She sent me this today.
Olive Oil and Polenta Cake

3 large or 4 small eggs
1 cup granulated sugar (I don't like it so sweet so I used 1.2 cup of natural sugar)
Freshly grated zest of 1 medium orange
Freshly grated zest of 1 medium lemon
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour)
¾ cup instant polenta
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil (I felt too much oil so I only used 1.2 cup it worked out ok)
Confectioner’s sugar for garnish

(I also used 1.4 cup of amaretto liqueur I also think vanilla bean could be nice)

Preheat the oven to 350º and position a rack in the center of the oven. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter.

Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, and with the whisk attachment, beat them on medium speed until they are tripled in volume, fluffy and pale yellow in color.

While the eggs are beating, in a medium bowl combine the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt.

Alternate adding the dry ingredients to the egg mixture with the olive oil; begin with 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then add half the oil, followed by another 1/3 of dry ingredients, beating only until each addition is incorporated. Stop the mixer and briefly scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the remaining olive oil, followed by the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes. Rotate the cake 180º halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. The cake is done when it springs back lightly when touched and pulls away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake on a rack, in the pan, for 12 to 15 minutes, then carefully remove the sides of the pan and allow the cake to cool completely.

Before serving, dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I am not about getting bored. I am all about joy. Did I say exercise is about burning calories? That’s a boring way to look at it. Exercise, at its best, is about celebrating the body, at its best. Exercise is an act of joy.
-Lisa McKenzie

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rumford's Baking Powder Biscuits

From the back of a can of Rumford Baking Powder.
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (more if whole wheat flour is used)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or shortening
2⁄3; cup milk (more as needed)
PREHEAT oven to 450 degrees.
Combine flour baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
Cut in shortening until mixture resemble coarse meal.(use food processoer if desired)
Add milk to make a soft dough.
Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead for 12 turns (30 seconds)
Roll out to 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thickness.
Use a cookie cutter to cut out into rounds. I used a 3-inch diameter canning jar
Place on baking stone
Bake approximately 12-15 minutes or until light golden.

At the last minute I rolled in some more sugar and milk and flour and made scones.

Tetley Tea Scones

These are made with brewed tea! They are delicious and a gorgeous color.

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 cup milk
10 Tetley Original Blend Tea bags
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup water
4 tablespoons sugar
Warm honey or preserves
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. With pastry blender or fingers, cut or rub in butter until mixture is size of small peas; set aside. In small saucepan, bring milk to a boil. Add 6 tea bags, cover and brew 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and cool. Beat in egg. Gradually add tea mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Make tea glaze by boiling 1 cup water and brewing 4 tea bags for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and stir in 4 tablespoons sugar. Let cool. Turn dough onto floured cookie sheet and pat into 16" circle. With blunt edge of knife, score top of dough into 16 pie shaped wedges. Brush with tea glaze and bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Serve with warm honey or preserves, if desired. Makes 16 scones.

Earl Grey Cookies

These are made using the ground up tea leaves in the cookie!

Penelope's Buttermilk Scones

I visited a painter friend who made these yesterday and I am already chasing down the recipe. She used currants in place of zest and large sugar grains for the topping. They were terrific.
BUTTERMILK SCONES by Marion Cunningham

For the Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk

For the Topping

1 tablespoon grated orange or lemon zest
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons jam or jelly (optional)
4 tablespoons diced plump dried fruits, such as currants, raisins, apricots, or figs (optional)

Makes 12 triangular or 24 rolled scones

Position racks to divide oven into thirds and preheat to 425°F. Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together with a fork. Add butter pieces and work it into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Pour in 1 cup buttermilk and the zest, and mix until ingredients are just moistened. If dough looks dry, add another tablespoon buttermilk. Gather dough into a ball, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead briefly. Cut dough in half.

To Make Triangular-Shaped Scones, roll one piece of dough into a 1/2-inch-thick circle that is 7 inches across. Brush the dough with half of the melted butter, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar, and cut the circle into 6 triangles. Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

To Make Rolled Scones, roll one piece of dough into a 12 inch long and 1/2 inch thick strip. Spread with half of the melted butter and dust with half of the sugar. Either spread the roll with jam or sprinkle it with dried fruits; leave a narrow border on a long edge bare. Roll the strip up from a long side like a jelly roll; pinch seam closed and turn seam side down. Cut the roll in half and cut each piece into six 1-inch-wide roll-ups. Place cut side down on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving a little space between each. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake scones 10 minutes or until both tops and bottoms are golden. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Without Bread

Without bread everyone is an orphan.

-Italian Proverb

Whole Wheat Pizzelle Recipe

3 extra large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn oil
2 pinches of Kosher salt
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon vanilla (experiment with anise, almond, lemon and orange extracts). You can also add grated lemon and orange zest.

Mix eggs with whisk, add sugar slowly, and oil, and keep whisking. Grease the pizzelle iron. When iron is hot use a heaping teaspoon to measure for each large pizzelle. They cook for 30 seconds each. I use a kitchen timer.
Just like with waffles, your first few pizzelles will be funky but delicious then they will come out fine. They will be a pale cafe au lait color but get slightly darker as they cool. I use a spatula to get them out. Let them cool to crisp. Store in a tin lined with paper towels.

This makes a bunch! They are delicious with tea and coffee.

Next I will try cocoa pizzelles as vanilla ice cream sandwiches.

When I made these with Ms Roberts first grade class at Harris Elementary, we shaped the pizzelles over paper cones to cool and then kids ate them filled them with vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Made my first batch of pizzelles!! So wonderful! They are delicious and beautiful, like snow flakes! My pal Jean gave me her pizzelle iron and a wooden cone for shaping them into ice cream cones. I am bringing the set up to the Harris School this week for activity day in Ms. Roberts first grade class. I can't wait.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Brookfield Orchards Apple Dumplings

Cortland apples are a good choice for this recipe according to the people at Brookfield Orchards. These dumplings also freeze well, they say. The recipe is simple: a formula for one dumping.

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Peel and core an apple and place it in the center of a square of puff pastry. Mix a tablespoon of sugar with cinnamon and nutmeg to taste, and pour the mixture into the center hole of the apple. Wrap the pastry around the apple, and place it in a baking pan. Bake for one hour or until the apple is cooked and crust is brown. Serve warm plain or with cheese, ice cream or whipped cream.

Yield: 1 serving

―Brookfield Orchards, Brookfield MA 1990

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mouse Pillows

I'm using dumpling skins to make little mouse pillows of spinach feta ravioli and pumpkin ravioli.

Junk Mail

I've come up with a plan to prevent junk mail form migrating to my couch and taking over my living room as it has for nearly two decades. Junk mail is a bad house mate. I have placed the paper recycle bin next to the in - box of our mail slot. I hope it works. Day one - so far so good!

Darling Dumplinks

Lately after my walk I have been ravenous and have been steaming up a quick batch of Chinese dumplings to eat for lunch with spicy dipping sauce. I discovered that if I steam them for 5-6 minutes instead of 3-4 minutes they come out of the steamer in tact.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Two Pumpkin Pies

Two pumpkin pies baking. Two orange circles in my oven on a March Full Moon.

Macaroni Crackers

Recently I boiled a pound of Anna's whole wheat rotini. The oven was still hot from having baked bread so I put the cooked rotini in a Pyrex bowl to keep warm while I prepared the sauce. meanwhile the macaroni in the oven became boingy and crisp. I decided next time I will do this on purpose and make 'macaroni crackers' for a snack on the go. You can also add your favorite sweet or savory seasonings with a bloop of olive oil and toss before baking. Enjoy a wholesome snack.

You can also bake sheets of home made rolled herbed pasta as crackers. Lemon rind and dried thyme are a favorite spice combo.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Summery Beverage

Cold Goya ginger beer, cold leftover black tea, cold white wine, all combined with ice.

Peter, Peter

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had another and didn't love her;
Peter learned to read and spell,
And then he loved her very well.

-Nursery Rhyme

Ice Picnic

I made my first pumpkin pie last night before bed. We cooled it in the cold kitchen in front of the tiny antique fan so we could each have a slice before bed. It was delicious this morning cold, with hot coffee. The flavors landed as we slept.

I think pie is my new best friend. I am in love with the single press in pie crust - perfect for an intimidated beginner and I have a thing for triangles. When we first bought our house one cupboard was accidentally left full of glassware. Inside it was amongst the kitcheny things was a Tupperware triangular one-slice pie container. We have used it to carry raisins and almonds and sunflower seeds on car trips. Now I will use it for what it was built for. I'll have an ice picnic on the Pothier Monument.

Ice picnic pie, with pooch?

Maybe I'll fill my next pie with live frogs or song birds.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Sing a song of six-pence, a pocket full of rye
Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie
When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing.
Now wasn’t that a tasty dish to set before the king!
-Nursery Rhyme

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

I just made pumpkin pie for the first time and it came out great! I put it in front of the tiny fan so it would cool off fast so we could eat it. I am so excited. I think pie is my new friend.

This is a delicious whole wheat crust and the pie is light like Indian Pudding and not too sweet. This is an adaption of the Libby's Pumpkin pie label recipe and the One Pie brand label recipe. I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin ice-cream pumpkin

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup of dark molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (half if using regular salt)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (I used freshly finely grated frozen ginger root)
2 large eggs
1 small can of pure pumpkin (15 oz.)
1 can of evaporated milk (12 fl. oz.)
1 home made nine inch unbaked whole wheat pie shell (4-cup volume)

Directions for making the pie:
Mix sugar, dark molasses, cinnamon, salt, ginger and eggs in large bowl. Whisk in pumpkin puree and evaporated milk. Pour into unbaked pie shell.
Bake pie in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 more minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Some bakers use sweetened condensed milk so I tried it but I discovered that it is cloyingly sweet and drowns out the pumpkin taste compared to a pie made with evaporated milk and 3/4 cup sugar. The evaporated milk pumpkin pie is much more like Indian Pudding and tastes like a food!

Pie Crust
1 cup of whole wheat flour
4-8 Tablespoons corn oil (can half with Crisco).
3 tablespoons sugar (the sugar is the glue, holding the crust together)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt (less if using regular salt or white flour)
(sometimes I add molasses to make brown sugar)

Mix flour and oil with fingers so it is pebbly then add a little bit more so it becomes like Play-Doh consistency. Press into pie pan with fingers. Prick dough with fork and make pressed fork pattern on edge. It is very sticky and hard to handle but hang in there, it will be delicious.

Apple Pie Baked in a Paper Bag


David Lebovitz

from Living the Sweet Life in Paris

Q: How do you stay in shape?

A: I don’t eat junk or highly-processed foods (except M & M’s, but those don’t count…do they?) For the most part, I eat a well-balanced diet and don’t deprive myself of anything. I consume a wide variety of things: real butter, wine, bread, meat, vegetables, fresh fruit, cheese, chocolate, ice cream, and once in a while, a pain au chocolat, but do so in moderate amounts. I avoid stupid fad diets and don’t obsess about what I eat. I do yoga and walk and ride a bike a lot. I believe you can eat whatever you want as long as you walk (or bike) there, and do the same going home.
-David Lebovitz

The smell of the normal laundry detergent was so strong and fragrant that I couldn’t sleep in the same room with my freshly-laundered clothes.
-David Lebovitz

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Steamed Chinese Dumplings

These are so simple and fun to make. We chopped small bunch of scallions with dark greens included, about four chopped mushrooms, grated one large carrot, chopped a few cloves of fresh garlic, chopped two ribs of celery, added two tablespoons of sesame oil, a few splashes of soy sauce, salt, chili garlic sauce, and mixed it all well with clean hands. Then we taste tested for spice balance, then added 1 pound ground lean raw pork and mixed it with my hands (you could also use 1 pound of firm tofu crumbled). We microwaved a teaspoon of the raw filling for 25 seconds to cook our pork sample and adjust the seasonings. Then we folded a teaspoon of the raw stuffing into each dumpling skin and glued them shut with water. We steamed 6 to 8 dumplings at a time for 5-6 minutes. Enjoy with warm dipping sauce~ rooster sauce and soy sauce combined. A few rounds add up to a dozen per person and makes a nice meal.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Biscuits from a 1936 Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book.

There are times when old is new in our search for flavors. English Christmas biscuits remain a classic of Pennsylvania Dutch bakeries.

The dough is mixed on Christmas Eve and ready for a quick baking on the big day. Sour cream creates a luscious biscuit awaiting sausage gravy or simply bread and apple butter. This one is from a 1936 Pennsylvania Dutch cooking book.

For schmierkase biscuits, top with cottage cheese and a dollop of berry jam.


1 pound butter
1 pound sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup raisins
1 teaspoon soda
Flour (see below)
Mix the butter and sugar to cream. Add the raisins. Stir in eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Dissolve the soda in the sour cream and fold into the mixture.

Sift in one cup of flour, adding more until the dough is stiff enough to handle. Chill over night in a food plastic bag, allowing room to rise. In the morning, roll out thin (1/4 inch) on floured board and cut with cookie cutter.

Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cool slightly on a rack and serve warm. Serves 4.


Bran Muffin Cake

Adapted from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book.
I like to bake this as a cake cut into squares rather than muffins because the moisture is retained.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a Pyrex square pan or medium cast iron skillet.
Mix wet and dry ingredients separately then combine and pour into greased pan. Bake for 53 to 45 minutes - until a skewer comes out clean. These are great breakfast or afternoon tea.

2 1/2 cups bran
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt - a pinch more if using Kosher salt
2 eggs
3/4 to 1 cup of leftover brewed tea or milk
1/3 cup veg oil
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup honey or sugar
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Cannelle et Vanille

My pal Sahsa Kaplan caterer extroidinaire of Portland Oregon turned me on to this blog Cannelle et Vanille. Aron Goyoaga is the author and photographer, and chef.
Have a peek here.