Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fruity Turkey Salad

I bet you have all the ingredients. Tastes so good. Chop up some celery, apples or grapes, walnuts and leftover turkey. Add a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise and some salt, pepper and Itailian seasoning. It is the seasoning that makes this addictive. I think it is the combination of poultry and thyme. Much tastier than that powdery old poultry seasoning. Make a sandwich or just eat with some crackers. Or add toasted pita bread like they do at First Watch cafe here in Tampa with their Fruity Chicken Salad. Enjoy.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Two Christmas Dinners

Classic Lenox Christmas china (photo by Lenox)

Darlene's Christmas Table before it was set.

Darlene and Rick from a couple of years ago.
We lucked out and went from no plans on Christmas Day to TWO dinner invitations. I had my camera but forgot that it was in the car so these pictures are from years past. Rick made oyster stew that was really good. Even Roger liked it. My mother used to make oyster stew for Christmas Eve dinner but this stew was full of herbs and it was great. The recipe came from Cooks.com. I will try to find it and post it. (Upon searching, I can't figure out which of 150 recipes Rick used. His had Half and Half and chives in it. It looked and tasted to me a little like the Knox vegetable soup mix that you make dip with. Anyway, I will have to ask him for the specific recipe.)

Darlene set the table with her beautiful crystal and her Lenox Christmas china. She made a perfect prime rib, roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts (Rick and I love them but Darlene and Roger HATE them.)

As luck would have it, our friends also invited Jaime, Aaron, Mia and Roger and me to dinner around 5:00. Roger was so tired he couldn't make it but I went and was treated to a beautiful rare roast beef dinner with Yorkshire pudding. Aaron is crazy for Yorkshire pudding and it was very good. Oh, and we had roast potatoes and (you guessed it) Brussels sprouts. Mia loved the special decorated ice cream dessert. I was not able to even try it.

I was sorry that I could not eat very much because it was a beautiful supper. We still have a couple more celebrations to go to before the end of the year. If you add in the Hannukah dinner I had at Irma and Mark's and the Christmas breakfast that Aaron and I made together, we have eaten quite well this Christmas Season.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Michigan Artist - 2010 White House Christmas

Picture of the dove is by James Lutke, the artist

This picture is from Marty Katz photos of the White House Christmas. I hope the photo police don't get me, but I wanted to show the beautiful natural peacocks on the tops of the trees in the East Room.
Simple Gifts is the theme Michelle Obama chose for the 2010 White House Christmas decorations. I saw a special on HGTV previewing the White House Christmas Tour and I was so taken with the beautiful birds made by James Lutke from Spring Lake, MI for the tree toppers. He made nine, but I have only been able to find close up photos of a few. The beautiful peacocks and a white dove for the military tree were some I found. The birds are made of all natural materials and I think they are very beautiful. Here is a link to a news story I found. This post is dedicated to Ruth at synch-ro-ni-zing.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Memories

Christmas Supper at a friend's house -- awesome!
I was inspired by reading Ellen's blog about what is important to her at Christmas. I find I have redefined my Christmas's over the years. I have very happy memories of Christmas as a child. We didn't have a big family, but my mother made sure we always had a good Christmas. There was a real tree with the big colored lights and tinsel icicles. Santa Claus brought presents on Christmas Eve and I could hardly sleep I was so excited. In fact, at some point during the long night I always had to make a trip to the kitchen for a drink of water. The living room would have been transformed by big mysterious packages piled around the tree and all over the room. One year I ran into a beautiful little dressing table with a ruffled skirt that my mother had carefully hidden at the neighbor's house so I would be surprised. That sight was so magical to me. I don't even remember particular gifts but instead the anticipation of all the beautifully wrapped boxes waiting to be opened. My mother would always give us hints that drove us crazy. And she made chocolate fudge with pecans. I remember the smell of simmering chocolate filling the house. One year I was sure I heard jingle bells on the roof.

I have had a lonely Christmas or two, a sad one when my son was a baby and we had no money and my mother was far away. I felt lost when my mother was in a nursing home and again after she died. I have had some beautiful experiences when I was into church as a teenager. I remember one Christmas Eve when I was gloriously in love with the boy next door and one Christmas Eve when I had my first taste of champagne. I have had many stressful Christmas's when my children were young and I worked full time. I attended a few fancy dress up Christmas parties -- not many.

Now I mostly enjoy decorating and socializing and doing things with the children. I have to confess since we have had to pare down the spending the last few years that I do miss the presents. Not what was in them so much but the excitement of seeing them piled around the tree on Christmas Eve. My brother used to arrive with arms full of professionally wrapped gifts. I have never seen such pretty presents. Now he gives the children gift cards. I have had more time than ever this year. Almost too much time to cook and clean and decorate. The only time I really listen to Christmas music now is in the car with my grandchildren. Mia's favorite is Little Drummer Boy. Jonah and Jill still favor Old Toy Trains by Roger Miller.

I think next year I would like to get back to church and I want to focus on doing something for others, maybe visit the nursing home where my mother stayed for the last year. Someday I would like to spend Christmas where it snows and where there are pine trees all aound.

I love entertaining on Christmas Eve, but I got over cooking on Christmas Day a long time ago. I do enjoy the times when Roger and I are invited to my sister-in-law's house on Christmas Day for a beautiful meal with her crystal and china and a perfectly cooked prime rib. We have also have some great Christmas dinners at Roger's sister, Mary's, house. Last year my friends had a nice English roast beef and Yorkshire pudding at their house on Christmas night. Aaron challenged Jonah and Jaime to each eat a Brussels sprout. That was funny. Jonah choked his down in one bite so Jaime had to eat one, too. Torture. (I love Brussels sprouts.)

I have been blessed with many wonderful Christmas memories. I wish that for us all. God bless us everyone!

Rollo Specials - Rollo Pretzel Turtle Candies

Jaime and "Rollo", Christmas Eve 2009

I wish I had a picture. I went to a great cookie baking party and to my daughter's Christmas party and both times, I did not have my camera. Anyway, my new favorite Christmas candy for several reasons. 1) Easy to make 2) Turtles are my favorite candy 3) Aaron's nickname from Jr. High was Rollo. He doesn't really like to be called that anymore, but he tolerates being honored with these little Rollo candies.

To assemble the candies, place little mini pretzel twists on a baking sheet. Top each with a chocolate/caramel rollo candy. Top that with a pecan half. Bake in the oven at 250 degrees for a few minutes. (Just soften candy. Do not melt completely.) YMMM!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Football Game at my Brother's House

Roger, me and Cory


Darlene with Sammy


Tree - They collect beautiful feather ornaments

Jackie O, Marilyn and Princess Di and a collection of crystal decanters

Dining Table

Roger by the fireplace
My brother and sister-in-law's house is always so beautiful at Christmas. Rick made clam chowder and had sandwiches and salad. We had a great time and the Bucs won a close one at the last minute. It was rainy and cold so the fire felt good.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Warm, sunny kitchen, cold weather, same decorations from Christmas past. Big pots of roast beef, soup and the grandkid favorite, chicken and yellow rice. Going to make Christmas cookies with the kids soon. I love Christmas!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Some Sober Holiday Thoughts

Well, it's done. We had about 20 people in my little house. I think they had fun and got enough to eat. I hope so. I can't get over a feeling of disappointment. I tried so hard this year to be organized. Everything was fine until people started arriving and then it was wild with so many people crowding into my little kitchen and trying to heat things in my little oven. I'm already thinking of how to improve the serving situation for Christmas. I am irritated with myself for feeling down about this. I should be filled with gratitude. My family is nearby and all is well with all of them. I am grateful. Maybe the fact that I came down with a full blown UTI the day after Thanksgiving has something to do with my mood.

I am also bummed out by some of the stories of people camping out to get bargains and then stealing them from each other, etc. As much as I would enjoy a new lap top or an ipad or a fancy new phone, I can't really think of anything I want badly enough to fight over it. I know that is easy to say with a full stomach and a roof over my head. I guess I would fight as hard as anyone if my life or my family's lives depended on it. That thing where the brides fight for all the dresses. I think having a tug of war over the dress would ruin it for me.

Anyway, if you want to see something cute that will make you laugh, check out this link to Attic 24 about the boy baking. So cute. Attic 24 is one of the first blogs I found when I started and I still like to check in and see what is going on.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Twin Babies

Picture is from last Christmas 2009.

Two 15 lb. turkeys. Tom and Jerry. One in the fridge and one in a sink of cold water. I am taking each of them out for a soak every now and then, hoping they thaw completely by Thanksgiving. One will be roasted in the oven, topped with bacon for my husband, and carved before the guests arrive. One will be roasted in the portable roaster. My brother is also bringing turkey (cajun fried turkey) and dressing (cajun dressing) and I look forward to trying it, but I want leftovers and lots of white meat for 18 - 20 people. With Winn Dixie's value card, each turkey was only $10 and change. I was only going to buy an extra frozen breast but just a little one cost almost as much as the whole turkey.

The most simple meal is planned. Lots of turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes topped with a layer of fat, toasty marshmallows, green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, homemade herb dressing and Mrs. Smith's pumpkin and apple pies.

Nothing fancy. Everything easy. But it will taste good and be shared with friends and family. YMMMM! Happy Thanksgiving. Got to go put the turkey baby back in the fridge.
Edited to add: My neighbor pointed out that I have 3 days to thaw the turkeys, not 2 like I thought. So no more cold water baths are necessary.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Time Travel - Magpie Tales

This picture is a prompt for Willow's writing blog called Magpie Tales. Click on the link to see other entries and to add your own.

The stars roll around the heavens, the earth turns as it circles the sun. The universe moves inevitably toward its destiny. Perhaps it will expand forever until it is cold and empty. Or it might crash back onto itself only to explode again in unimaginable violence. Perhaps there is an infinite number of parallel universes where each choice we make branches into a new reality. And still, time moves on. Einstein said that time and space are intertwined, that time slows down as you approach the speed of light. I have heard that our concept of time doesn't exist at all and is only the invention of man, that everything that will ever happen has already taken place. I am fascinated and awed by these ideas and by the idea of time travel. I remember reading in a comic book about Superman flying around the earth so fast that time turned backwards.

I also remember clearly when I first saw the movie "Back to the Future". It was 1991 because I was about to attend my 25 year high school reunion. I loved all the twists and turns that travelling back in time created. I remember near the end when the hero was leaving and the girl who was to be his mother said to herself, "Marty - that's a nice name." And so, he was named after himself. I remember taking a long walk after the movie thinking about time travel and my upcoming high school reunion. I wished I could know the future.

Well, I've done a little time traveling since then. Forward, which is the only way we know for sure that time can flow. It has been almost 20 years since I took that walk. I went through a painful divorce, I had to change my career, my children grew up, my mother died. I wonder what I might have done differently if I could have seen the future that day.

Well, I wish I would have made some different career choices, I wish I hadn't chosen to refinance my house. The main thing I wish is that I was kinder, more patient with my mother and my children, more accepting of other people and their choices - even if I didn't understand those choices. I would focus more on my own life and the options I had control over and less on trying to make other people change to meet my expectations. This sounds a lot like the Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Guess what? I had no idea where this post was going when I started!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Onion Soup Story

Picture from French Onion Soup Page, a blog by Ron Schnell who is a true onion soup connoisseur. This image from the Grizzley House - Banff, AB, Canada. Read about this and other great onion soups from everywhere on Ron's blog and find out about Ron himself. Onion soup is only one of his many interests.

My daughter groans when I tell this story because she has heard it too many times and is not a fan of onions anyway. But it is a vivid memory for me and one I think of whenever I have French onion soup.

I was working at a trade show in Washington, D.C. It was my first visit there and I was excited, but I was also sick. I had a runny nose, sore throat, tight chest, muscle aches and just wanted to go back to bed. I tried to tell my boss I was sick but he just said he didn't feel good either and did I want a cold pill? So I was stuck working on my feet all day with high heels and no time for lunch.

When I finally made it up to my room at 7:00 p.m. all I wanted was a drink, a hot meal and a hot bath but I couldn't find a room service menu. I called to the desk and asked for a menu. I waited. I called a second time with no results. Finally, I called the restaurant and asked if they had French onion soup and a double whiskey sour.

They delivered a big steaming crock of soup with a slab of crusty toast floating in the broth and covered with a thick layer of melted cheese and a very large, very strong, icy cold whiskey sour. The hot soup and jolt of alcohol brought beads of sweat to my forehead, tears to my eyes, and cut a scorching path down my sore throat and through the congestion in my chest all the way down to my empty stomach. I finished my supper, ran the hottest bath I could stand, took some medicine, and dived under the covers, alternately shaking with chills and burning up with fever for the rest of the night. I was still sick the next day but that is one of the BEST meals I ever had.

Reuben Sandwich

Corned beef, melty cheese, sauerkraut, spicy mustard on grilled marbled rye and pumpernickel. Maybe I should have taken the picture with a bite out of it. It was good. On my first trip to NYC I remember a basket of rolls of many different kinds including pumpernickel and rye. The best bread I ever ate.

Monday, November 15, 2010

First Holiday Cake

I made the Sock-It-To-Me cake I mentioned in an earlier post and took a chunk to my sister-in-law. I skipped the glaze and just put some powdered sugar snow on top. As I suspected, it made a very nice little gift and we had a very nice visit. It was delicious. I went to the Duncan Hines website at and found a wealth of easy, delicious cakes to make. I want to try the Applesauce Walnut cake next. Maybe for Thanksgiving?

I had Jonah and Mia for the weekend since Jaime and Aaron were out of town. Mia missed her mommy a lot. I made chicken and yellow rice for supper on Sunday since that is Jonah's favorite and he will always eat at least two big servings. Everyone is back home and off to school and work this morning.

I also made corned beef sandwiches for Cory and Roger and me for lunch one day. I still have leftovers for Roger and my supper tonight. I will take a picture then. We got some great rye and pumpernickel marble bread at the deli, sauerkraut, deli corned beef and provolone cheese. Roger and I like spicy brown mustard on the sandwiches but Cory went with Thousand Island dressing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lessons from BlogLand

Thoughts are swarming in my head. I am going to try sort out a few of them here.

I had an exchange with Ruth today at sync-ro-ni-zing that got me thinking about plagarism. It is amazing to me that at a rather advanced age and after a lifelong interest in writing and an aborted start at a journalism degree, I still had the idea that plagarism had to do with using other people's ideas (which is what education is all about) rather than giving them credit. How could I think that??? This is just an example of important things I have learned and clarified through the process of blogging.

I have known since the fourth grade that I have a talent for expressing myself. I observed that I got a positive response from my teachers and classmates when I read my writings aloud. I didn't actually figure out for years that part of that response came from the performance as well as the writing. I wish I had figured that out sooner.

My favorite teacher, Mr. Shaw, didn't have much use for me. Sure, I was the teacher's pet for plenty of English teachers, but he was the debate coach, drama teacher and also taught a 9th grade speech class where I got to know him. He mesmerized us on the stage in our classroom with challenging ideas, vague references to famous plays and little exercises in improvizational acting. He had a devoted following of students who were more self aware and confident than I. The debate squad. Oh, why didn't I join? And when I did try my hand at debate, why didn't I take it more seriously rather than just arguing the obvious points from the top of my head? I was ripe to get shot down by the first clever argument. I knew my point was good, but I couldn't figure out how to defend it. I had so much to learn from Mr. Shaw but I wasn't ready.
Even though I was nearsighted, I discovered I loved photography in college. That interest got side tracked by a "funny" photogaphy teacher who got fresh in the darkroom. I was too naive to protest but just avoided him and his class after that. I still got an "A". (Imagine that?) I excelled in a speech class at the same time, but didn't take it seriously.

Later, at Oklahoma University, I had an English professor who took an interest in me and my writing. He noted that I was a journalism major and challenged me in many ways. He actually wore jackets with patches at the elbow and I bet he smoked a pipe when he wasn't in class. I also took another speech class and photography class for fun about the same time. Unfortunately, my first true love broke my heart about that time and I dropped out, went to my mother's home in Florida, and got a job at the phone company.

So I always knew I wanted to write but about what??? I discovered that being a reporter for hard news was not for me. In fact, I ended up in the production end of the publishing business for many years.

I always admired writers whose whole lives lead to their materpieces. Books like "Little Women" and "Gone With the Wind" and "To Kill a Mockingbird." (At least I have high aspirations.) But I'm disappointed to discover that I have lead a rather prosaic life. Or maybe I just have a prosaic imagination. I also admire non-fiction writers such as Margaret Mead, Gail Sheehy, and Melody Beattie.

I am not a poet like Ruth and Willow in blog land. I don't have Willow's wonderful creativity. I thought maybe a cook book? But I can't compare with food writers like Beverly and Kary. I have an appreciation but no talent for plot like Brian. An appreciation but not the natural talent for design like Layla. But I have enjoyed participating in Willow's Magpie writing blog where many writers do their own take on a visual prompt.

In that exercise and in my experiences with Toastmasters and other outlets, I have found that I like to tell little stories. I like to relive moments in my life. Happy ones. Hopefully not too maudlin or saccarine. I like to find joy and inspiration in small things which parallel my own discoveries through the Twelve Step program where I learned to find peace and contentment even in the tragedies of life that affect us all.

I have been inspired in real life by my friend, Linda, who has published and marketed her own social skills program for many years now. Linda just dives in and learns whatever she needs to accomplish her goals. She is braver than I at trying new experiences (and she persisted to achieve a doctoral degree.) I also admire my friend, Sharon, who makes an art out of living. And my friend, Sylvia, who has a natural talent for happiness. And my many other friends who each have their own gift for life. And my husband who has taught me about steadfastness and love. And my children and grandchildren who inspire me every day.

That brings me to this blog. An opportunity to write, to post photographs, to document my life and to reach out to others in the universe and for them to reach back and touch me. I haven't read "Outliers" but I understand it advances the theory that those who achieve greatness have put at least 10,000 hours into whatever pursuit they have chosen. I have always heard the rule that writers should write regularly even if they don't see the end result at the time. So I guess all this blogging is not wasted. Who knows where it might lead? Thanks for helping me sort out my thoughts.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Lunch - Roast Beef Sandwiches

Picture from FoodNetwork.com

Yesterday as I was herding the little girls to the birthday party, I stopped long enough to put a frozen roast into a pot. I added a couple of inches of water and some onions in the bottom and set the oven at 325 degrees. It was nice to have supper ready when I got home. There was a brown crust on the bottom of the roast and the gravy was very rich and brown. I made more gravy with a packet of "Better Than Gravy" gravy mix and served the roast with coleslaw and some leftover mashed potatoes.

Today, Cory and Stephanie surprised us by riding their bikes over to our house. I was making lunch so they stayed a while. I chopped up the leftover roast and put it in the gravy. Then I sauteed some green peppers and onions. I put the meat and gravy and peppers and onions over some hamburger rolls and melted thin slices of pepper jack cheese over the top. It was kind of a combination of French Dip and Philly Steak. We all had cold drinks and big, warm plates of the stuff. It was fun. I never seem to get around to actually inviting them over for a big supper, but this was better. Spontaneous. So what did I feed Roger for supper later? Beans and franks and some warm rolls.

Birthday Cake

A cold day at the park and one of Jaime's birthday cakes. Mia wanted blue cake and pink icing. Below is the birthday cake Jaime made for me last year which is decorated with spiced almonds.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Aunt Esther's Farm - Magpie #39

Magpie Tales is a creative writing blog. Check it out here.


A few special summers at aunt Esther's Oklahoma farm. Real butter and cream for breakfast. The crowing of the rooster at daybreak. Waking in the little white bedroom up the steep stairs and looking down into the yard from the old wood-framed windows. A green Hoosier cabinet in the kitchen. A bathroom that used to be a porch. An unused formal parlor with carpet, a wood-trimmed velvet sofa and an old piano. A rose garden. Learning to sew. Searching through the hay bales in the old barn for eggs and trying to catch the wild kittens. My aunt cracking fresh eggs at the stove and tossing the shells over her shoulder into the sink. Eating fried chicken that had just been walking around a little while ago. Feeding a calf from a bucket with a large rubber nipple. Riding on a tractor. The sweet smell of cutting into a ripe, red watermelon right out of the field. Oh, and getting trapped in an outhouse by a mean rooster. (There was a ripe smell in that outhouse, too!) A few old photographs and some family stories. Some old phonograph records. I was a modern girl from the 60's. These are the only fragile connections I have to a simpler life style that is older than time. I treasure them now.

Sock It To Me Cake

Picture from http://themarthainitiative.blogspot.com

I was inspired by a visit to Panera Bread the other day. They have a coffee cake that has a snow top of powdered sugar and packaged to make a beautiful gift for the holidays. But it does cost $14.99 and it doesn't have any nuts in it. That made me think of this old recipe for a great moist bundt cake with streusel in the middle. It is made with a Duncan Hines butter cake mix and it would make a great present. Perhaps you could save enough by baking the cake to afford to present it in an inexpensive cake saver.

I found this recipe many places but in my search I found it in two great recipe blogs. One had the recipe below and the other had this beautiful picture. The recipe came from a blog called "Something's Burning." You can find it under Interesting Links on the right hand side of this blog. The other blog that had the MOST beautiful picture is listed on the right under Blogs I Follow. It is called The Martha Initiative. Here is the cake.

Sock It To Me Cake

1 pkg. yellow cake mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 pint (8 oz.) sour cream
1/2 cup white, granulated sugar
4 eggs
4 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix cake mix, oil, sour cream, white sugar. Add eggs one at at time and beat well. Meanwhile, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts together. Grease and flour a bundt pan or tube pan and pour a layer of cake mixture and a layer of brown sugar mixture alternately. Do not let brown sugar touch sides of pan on the top. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove to rack to finish cooling.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

Well, after many years I have finally gotten good at roasting pumpkin seeds. The trick seems to be like roasting everything else. Dry them off and toss them with olive oil and seasonings. They browned up and turned crispy in no time. Trouble is no one likes them except Jill. They are still more hull than seed. But I will probably do it again next year anyway.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sylvia's Spaghetti Sauce

Picture is from Photobucket.com

I went into my neighbor's house the other day and was overwhelmed by the aroma of Picadillo simmering on the stove. Picadillo is a spanish dish of ground meat, olives, tomatoes, capers, raisins, onions, peppers, garlic and spices. You can find Picadillo at any local Cuban or Spanish restaurant around here. They make a good version at the Cuban Sandwich Shop in Tampa, but not the same as homemade.

I didn't grow up with a Spanish or Italian mother or grandmother, but I imagine the feel and smell of that kitchen is what childhood memories are made of. My neighbor sent a sample home with me. She couldn't find the Picadillo recipe but she shared her spaghetti sauce recipe with me. I am going to share it with you.

I told her I would probably never make it since they make very good commercial spaghetti sauce now and she said, "Just doctor it up. That is what I do." I still want to buy all the groceries and have her make me a Spanish feast. Her black beans do not taste like any I have ever tasted and I have a feeling her spaghetti sauce is the same.

My husband is prejudiced against garlic or I would just pay Sylvia to cook for us all the time. It is wonderful to have a neighbor with such a rich heritage that she shares with me.

Sylvia's Spaghetti

2 lbs. Italian Sausage
2 lbs. Cube Pork
2 1/2 lbs Ground Meat (for meatballs)
2 Large Cans of Whole Tomato
2 Large Cans of Tomato Puree
2 Large Cans of Crushed Tomato
2 Large Yellow Onions
1 Green Pepper
1 Red Pepper (use about 3/4)
8 Garlic Cloves (one small head)
5 Bay leaves (small)
6 Fresh Basil leaves
Olive Oil
1 Cup Red Wine
4 Tbls. Brown Sugar
Salt (cover top of sauce)
Pepper (cover top of sauce)
Oregano (cover top of sauce)
1 Carrot (grated and peeled)
1 Zucchini (grated and peeled)

Cook the Italian Sausage directly into the pot that will cook all the sauce, approximately 15 minutes. Remove Italian Sausage leaving the drippings in the pot. Add the Cube Pork and cook approximately 15 minutes or until brown. Remove the Cube Pork leaving the drippings in the pot. Chop the Onions, Green Pepper, Garlic and Red Pepper. Add the chopped vegetables, shredded Carrot and the Olive Oil to the pot and simmer until the vegetables are clear. Open all cans and add one at a time, while stirring. Add Brown Sugar, Pepper, Salt and Oregano to taste (again measure by covering the top of the sauce). Add the Bay leaves and fresh Basil leaves. Continue stirring. Add Wine and grated Zucchini. Continue stirring and tasting to adjust spices as needed. After one hour of cooking, slowly add the Meatballs by pushing them into the sauce. After you have added the Meatballs, limit stirring or the Meatballs will breakdown. Continue cooking for another hour. Total cooking time should be only 2 hours on low to medium heat. Sauce should be bubbling and you should stir frequently. Do not cover or over cook (will turn watery if over cooked.)
2 1/2 lbs of Ground Meat
2 Eggs
1/3 cup of Evaporated Milk
Sprinkle of Romano or Parmesan Cheese
2 Garlic Cloves
1/3 Green Pepper
1 small Yellow Pepper
Bread Crumbs
Place the eggs, onion, green pepper and garlic, cheese and evaporated milk in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add the blended ingredients to the ground meat. Mix with hands and slowly add the breadcrumbs until firm in texture. Roll into small meatballs to add to the sauce.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nap - Magpie Tales #36

Magpie Tales is a writing blog hosted by Willow at Willow Manor. Click here to see the other entries.

A simple little luxury unheard of for many years of work from 9-5, pick up the children from daycare, start supper, a messy house, unwashed laundry . . .

The doors and windows are flung open to a few perfect days after a long steambath summer. Not for us a big, splashy Fall with crunchy leaves underfoot. But, if you watch for them, tiny oak leaves flutter down in the cool breeze like lazy yellow butterflies. The room is bathed in dappled sun light and silence. Time slows to a stop. Disconnected thoughts drift in and out. . . peace. . . sleep. An afternoon nap.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chocolate Cakes - Wedding, Bundt, Mud and Wacky

We have had lots of chocolate cake lately.
First there was chocolate wedding cake (Stephanie's favorite) and then a couple of chocolate birthday cakes for her October birthday.The picture above is chocolate bundt cake. Her stepmother made the first one up in Virginia and then I made one. I just used a moist chocolate cake mix but I put in only 2 eggs instead of 3 and I substituted strong coffee instead of water and baked it in a bundt pan. I made a simple glaze of butter, cocoa, confectioner's sugar and coffee but it was a little too thin so it just soaked right in. You can't see it but you can taste it.

The other cake I made was a version of Mississippi Mud Cake. It was also a little like Wacky Cake. I include both recipes here. Do you remember Wacky Cake? It was popular when I was a teenager because 1) it was wacky 2)it was cheap to make and 3) it tasted fantastic. I still make it sometimes because it is just enough for a square cake pan and it takes almost no ingredients to make.

Here are the somewhat modified recipes I used from a great cookbook called "A Collection of the VERY FINEST RECIPES ever assembled into one Cookbook". It was published in 1979 by Becker Publications, Inc. in Hayward, California. I think someone gave it to me. The cover is missing but it said something on the inside about the publishers being typesetters who created many, many cookbooks for various fundraisers. They picked out the best of these recipes and created this cookbook. Since I was a typesetter myself and worked on a couple of cookbooks, I was curious right away. Then I looked inside and found every old recipe I had ever tried to find. What I like best is that every recipe is someone's family favorite.

Mississippi Mud Cake

2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening (I used 2 sticks of margarine)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 Tsp. salt
2 Tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (I put this in the frosting rather than the cake)
1 large package of marshmallows (I left this out)

1 box of powdered sugar
1 stick of margarine, melted
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 cup evaporated milk (I just used regular milk)
1 Tsp. vanilla

Cake: Cream sugar and shortening. Beat in eggs by hand. Sift flour, cocoa and salt together. Add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla and nuts (or not). Pour into greased oblong cake pan and bake for 25 minutes at 300 degrees. Sprinkle cake with rows of marshmallows. Increase heat to 350 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes. (I left out the marshmallows and baked the whole thing at 325 for 25 minutes.

Frosting: Combine powdered sugar and cocoa. Add melted margarine, milk, vanilla, stir in nuts and pour over cake.

I never use a whole box of powdered sugar. I just use a lot more than I'm really comfortable with until the frosting is the right texture. This makes a wonderful fudgey glaze on top of the cake.

Wacky Cake

1 cup of sugar
3 Tbs. cocoa
1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tsp. baking soda
1 cup cold water
6 Tbs. cooking oil
1 Tbs. vinegar
1 Tsp. vanilla

Stir dry ingredients together into an 8" x 8" baking pan. Make 3 holes in dry ingredients. Put vinegar in one hole; oil in one hole, and vanilla in the last hole. Pour cold water over all and stir with a fork until moistened. Do not beat. Bake 25 - 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Leave in pan and frost.

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs. cocoa
2 Tbs. melted butter
2 Tbs. milk or evaporated milk
1 pinch salt

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Carrot Cake

A homemade carrot cake with cream cheese icing for my brother's birthday. The recipe is straight out of my husband's bachelor Betty Crocker cookbook. It was the most similar to my Aunt Nellie's recipe that I have lost. I don't really like pineapple or even raisins in my carrot cake. Just lots of nuts and carrots and frosting that is not too sweet or too thick. There is more frosting on this that I intended but it was good.

Carrot Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups shredded carrots

1/4 ground nutmeg

1 cup coarsely chopped nuts

Cream cheese frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar, oil and eggs in a bowl until blended. Stir in dry ingredients except carrots and nuts. Beat 1 minute. Stir in carrots and nuts. I baked this in a silicone bundt pan for 1 hour. In a rectangle pan, bake 40 - 45 minutes. In 2 round pans, 30 - 35 minutes. Top cool cake with frosting if desired, or just a dusting of powdered (confectioner's) sugar.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons of soft butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

!/2 box (or more) of powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk.

Mix softened cream cheese and butter with vanilla, powdered sugar and enough milk to make the consistency you want, from a thin, pour-on glaze to a thick, fluffy frosting.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


After my little roast chicken on Sunday, I wanted to include an actual recipe.

Have you ever heard of Talerine? I failed to find it several times on Google until I spelled it this way. I learned some interesting things. For instance, the name Talerine apparently comes from a wide Italian pasta called tagliarini.

I learned this recipe from my friend Carol when we were young single moms in Arkansas. We lived on this stuff but I always wondered why it had such a funny name. We made it in a skillet. Here is the recipe I use.

1 lb. ground beef, browned

1/2 cup diced onion

1 can corn

1 can tomato sauce

1 soup can of water to help cook the noodles

1/2 pkg. wide egg noodles

American cheese slices

Brown the ground beef with onion and drain. Add 1 can of tomato sauce, 1 soup can of water, 1 can of corn, and 1/2 the package of noodles. Cook until the noodles are tender. Top with American cheese slices and cook until they are melted.

Here is what I learned. There was a recipe in 1962 using Campbell's tomato soup. I imagine this is where most people learned about this recipe. Most recipes I found on the internet had green pepper, mushrooms, and black olives as well as the corn. They all used shredded cheddar cheese. All were baked in the oven. Here is the Campbell's soup version. Here is another one from Simply Recipes.
I think the black olives would be a good flavor addition. I love green pepper but I think it would change the taste that I remember too much. Shredded cheddar would be good, but the old slices of American cheese are kind of sentimental to me. What you MUST have for it to be Talerine is corn, cheese and, for me, tomato sauce. The Campbell's soup, crushed tomatoes, etc. in other recipes just don't produce the same flavor. I plan to make this stuff soon. It reminds me of many warm, satisfying suppers for a young, broke mom and a hungry little boy who loved it. (My husband loves it, too.) BTW, image is from the Campbell's soup website.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I roasted a chicken on Sunday. I saw them in the store at 59 cents per pound and thought, "What a bargain!" I saw myself expertly roasting two chickens each Sunday and doing wonderful things with the leftovers all week. Or I could cut out the backbone and spread it out on the grill or under the broiler or in a cast iron pan with a foil wrapped brick on top. Or I could perch it atop a can of beer and make beer can chicken.

Trouble is I didn't have any beer or one of those wire gadgets to hold the chicken over the can. I didn't even have any cooking twine and I had just used my only lemon. I did want to bind those legs together and tried to hold them with foil but that didn't work. So it roasted with it's legs splayed out with a big chunk of onion inside and carrots to act as a cooking rack. When this picture was taken, it wasn't done yet and had to go back into the oven for 20 more minutes. It tasted fine.

My confession is this. It was a lot of trouble to cook, not to mention trying to get all the meat off the pesky thing. It makes buying chicken quarters at $1.00 more a pound seem very attractive. Even those frozen chicken breasts or a store-bought rotisserie chicken. That reminds me of another confession. I am afraid of my gas grill. I'm even afraid for my husband. It is a beautiful grill but it is often hard to light and hard to regulate.

Here is another meal we had recently. Meatloaf. Very simple with lots of ketchup. The way my mother made it. It was good. I also recently made white chicken chili. It was good. I'm sorry to be on a blog with these simple meals. Can't even really call them recipes. But here they are ... those are my confessions.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Willow Ball

Excitement never ends. First a family wedding and now the third annual Willow Ball. I can hardly wait! Click on this link for more information about the Willow Ball. You are invited, too!

First I'm going to have a long soak in a bubble bath.

Then I will twist up my hair in a simple little knot and spray a discreet little spray of Chanel No. 5.

I had thought about this designer dress by Christian Siriano (from Project Runway) but then I decided ... no

So I decided on this simple little number that I found on frenchnovelty.com . I believe it is a copy of a Selena Gomez Oscar gown. (I hope Selena is not attending!)

Then I will slip on my shiny little Jimmy Choos ...

and my ruby earrings ...

and run out to meet my date - no, not Simon Baker. It is his alter ego, Patrick Jane, from the "Mentalist". Won't he make the most interesting observations about all the guests? I love his eyes. I think he deserves a little fun. He works so hard.

We are riding in his interesting little car, a Citroen DS21... He was going to borrow a sports car from a friend, but check out this video of what happened to the last car he borrowed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_Kf1rcBAGw

I'm so glad I picked the second dress. We would never have gotten all those pink ruffles into his car. See you at the ball!!!