Monday, August 30, 2010

Courgette Au Garlique

So, let's pretend that this is a proper French title for this side dish. I know you'll all cut me some slack when you realize that I haven't taken French since high school, too many decades ago for me to admit, and have never actually spoken the language. But, really, this is a way to help you all with your zucchini glut, and give you a different, fancy name to offer your family, so they'll be excited before they get to the table and realize it's the same old veggie.

Courgette Au Garlique

2 to 3 zucchini, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
4 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
20 turns fresh ground pepper

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the garlic, and saute a minute or 2, until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients, and cook until the zucchini is tender.

It makes an excellent side dish for a bland meal such as turk
ey and rice. And the vivid colors certainly help!
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good Weekend

I hope everyone else had fun, too!

Here are some important tourist tips I would never have guessed:
- Niagara Falls is open 24 hours per day, all year.
- They do not shut the falls off at night.

Amazing the questions people ask, isn't it?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thorsday Cookies

Dan and Cass bought Thor a box of "diet" cookies.

No matter; he loved them anyway!

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dump Cake

I'm dedicating this post to all of you out there who "can't" or "don't" bake.

Take this cake to your next pot luck, or bring it to the Labor Day picnic. It's easy. Plus, it's fun to say: "Would you like some Dump Cake?"

Heck, I'm even giving you pictorial directions here!


1 can blueberry pie filling
1 quart strawberries, sliced
1 box white cake mix

1 stick (1/4 lb or 8 tbsp) butter, melted

Dump the blueberry pie filling in the bottom of a 13"x9" cake pan. Spread it around.
Sprinkle most of the sliced strawberries on top of the pie filling.
Sprinkle the cake mix on top of the strawberries.
Pour the melted butter over the cake mix.
Bake at 350F for about 40 to 45 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream and the last of the sliced strawberries on each piece. My kids didn't let it sit long enough to get an actual picture of it "as served".

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Garden Tuesday: Apples

Ryan found this tree at the edge of our forest. It's a sweet crab apple!

The fruit is about 1.5" diameter. They are a lot bigger than regular crab apples, as you can see from this one on my back terrace (the same tree whose flowers I showed you in April).

Do you think they're called crab apples because you're crabby if that's all you can find to eat?

We've had a lot of rain here in the past 3 days - about 4". The rain too
k a lot of apples off the apple tree in my courtyard.
Of course, plenty remain. However, don't let this picture fool you. I used a huge amount of zoom to take this picture, because these apples are a good 20 feet off the ground. I think even Jeff will have trouble reaching them!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chicken Sandwich

I rarely write about sandwiches or lunch. They seem so simple: just slap some stuff in bread and you're ready to eat! This one is for Doggy Bloggy of Chez What, who's holding a "Battle Sandwich" competition. I don't compare to him in presentation or unusual ingredients, but I must step up and offer a sandwich to this friend.


2 slices Chive Bread
extra sharp cheddar cheese
roast chicken
Dijon mustard
mozzarella cheese

Spread a small amount of mustard on one slice of bread. On this, layer, in this order, mozzarella, chunks of roast chicken, cheddar cheese, and the top slice of bread. Cook in the George Foreman or similar grill until it reaches the desired toastiness. Served with a side of dill pickle chips, this was a great lunch.

On Friday, Pam commented that I didn't list "No Black Lines!" as one of my food rules. It's true; the only grill I own is the George Foreman, and I only use that for sandwiches. However, feel free to cook your sandwich until the lines are black, if that's what thrills you!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Eggplant? Really?

People laugh at me because I have food rules. In case you're blissfully unaware of them, allow me to give you a good laugh:

1. No peppers. I'm allergic. So this one isn't funny.
2. No fungus. I'll cook them for mushroom lovers in my house, sometimes, but I don't eat fungus.
3. Food segregation. My food can't be mixed, and really shouldn't touch.
4. No roots, except orange ones. I'll cook with onions, but pick them out of my food, and I don't like potatoes. Again, I'll cook them for my family, but I'm not a fan.

5. No purple food! Everyone else can have grape jam, and I've even made it, but I don't eat purple food.

So, imagine my surprise and horror when my farmer brought me not one, but TWO, eggplants.

Ryan's "How to fix food" book suggests that eggplant can be fixed by encasing it in concrete and dropping it in the East River. OK with me, because it's purple food, but it was in my house and needed something done with it, and the East River is about 100 miles away. So off to my cookbooks I went for suggestions. I have forgotten exactly where I found this, but I believe it was either Craig Claiborne or Fannie Farmer.


1 eggplant
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup melted butter
salt & pepper to taste

Boil the eggplant in a large pot for 15 to 20 minutes. Cut it in half lengthwise and carefully scoop all of the meaty center out without breaking the shell (and good luck with that!) Coarsely chop all of the eggplant, including the seeds, and stir in with the rest of the ingredients. Place the eggplant shells in a greased, curved baking dish, which will support the shell while it's cookin
g, re-stuff the eggplant shell with the eggplant/breadcrumb mix, and bake at 350F for about 45 minutes, until it's lightly browned on the outside.
So, I wrecked one of my 2 shells. And the eggplant looked most unappetizing. So I grated some extra sharp cheddar cheese over the top before serving it. At least the cheese looked pretty.

As for the eggplant? Well, the best review I got for it was, "It has no flavor." The next day, my daughter's Italian friend was here, gooing that she loves eggplant. When she wasn't looking, I put the second one in her purse. Good thing the girls these days carry big honkin' purses.

So, my final word? In defense of eggplant, it is a very pretty vegetable, second to none. However, I still don't like purple food. Christo, I know you're out there laughing at me!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thor's little friends

Kellie brought Cinnamon to visit Thor. They're friends, especially since Thor scored some zucchini for Cinnamon last week. But then, Kellie went off to play with the piggie again.

Hooray for having a little boy always available to play!

Happy Thorsday, everyone.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chocolate Roll

First, Cass thanks you all for your kind wishes for her tooth recovery. She ate fish with rice last night, so that's real progress!

I had a screaming headache all day yesterday, so I spent most of the day with a cold compress covering my forehead and eyes, sitting in the dark next to my business phone (so I could answer when it rang). I only wish the ibuprofin I was munching tasted like the cinnamon candies they look like.

Given that headache, I was glad that Monday night's dessert was large enough to last until Tuesday. It was beautiful, and for those of you out there who do the whole "gluten free" thing, this fills that bill. Of course, if you're looking for diet food, you'll want to leave this alone.

Adapted from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook

5 eggs, separated

1-1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the egg whites until foamy; add the salt and beat until stiff and set aside. Beat the egg yolks until light colored and thickened. Stir together the cocoa powder, baking powder and confectioner's sugar, and gradually add to the egg yolks. Note that the mixture will become stiff. Gradually stir in the egg whites. (Confessions of a lazy baker: I beat the egg whites in at low
speed with my mixer, until just barely combined. It worked fine.) Grease a 10"x15" jelly roll pan, line with waxed paper, and grease the paper. Spread the batter in the pan, and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the cake stand for one minute after it comes out of the oven, then invert onto a clean dish towel. Carefully peel the waxed paper off the cake. Roll the towel with the cake in it gently along the long edge, so you have a 15" long roll, and let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes. Unroll, and let it cool another 5 minutes, then reroll the cake in the towel, and let it sit until cool (less than an hour). Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla extract. Unroll the cake again, spread the whipped cream over the top of it, and roll it up one more time, using the towel to help you. Carefully roll it onto a serving plate. You'll notice that my plate was too small, so I cut mine in half. Refrigerate until ready to serve, dust the top with confectioner's sugar, and cut into slices.

Since Kellie already left for college (her classes start Monday, but she wanted to beat the Wednesday and Thursday move in rush), and Jeff delivered her there, there was actually enough of this to last for 2 nights. Otherwise, this was so popular that people would have been clamoring for more where there was none to be had. You know I'll have to make this again!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Taco Soup

It was a stressful weekend. One daughter had all 4 wisdom teeth out Thursday, 3 sons had cavities filled Friday, and the whole dang house was filled with people whining about their faces hurting, or at least feeling funny. (And since there's no real great pictures here, how about a picture of Thor and his bone?)
After Cass had her wisdom teeth out, Dan very thoughtfully hopped in his truck, went to the supermarket and bought several kinds of cup-a-soup, along with instant mashed potatoes. (He is still the favorite brother, at least today.) But after she came out of the drug-induced stupor, Cass began complaining that she was hungry, and soup wasn't enough. What to do?

Dinner for Friday night was Taco Night.
So, for a girl who refused to eat eggs, I was inspired to make something that would put protein into her: Taco Soup!


1-1/2 cups water

2 beef bouillon cubes
1/2 onion, finely minced
1/2 tomato, minced
1/2 tsp taco seasoning
1/2 cup cold water
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup ground beef, cooked and chopped up
Monterrey Jack cheese

Bring the 1-1/2 cups water to a boil with the bouillon cubes. Add the minced onion and tomato, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the taco seasoning. In a measuring cup, whisk together the 1/2 cup cold water and cornstarch, and stir into the soup. Cook until the broth thickens, then stir in the ground beef (I used seasoned beef from the pan I cooked for the tacos, in addition to the seasoning I put in the soup). Ladle into a bowl, and sprinkle generous amounts of cheese on top.

There are no pictures, because my poor girl was starving. So, here's a picture of my dinner: a taco salad.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thor and the Harvest

The boys and Thor brought in something from their garden: a 4 pound zucchini.

Thor had to inspect this.

It doesn't smell like much.

I wonder what flavor it is?

Nope. Dogs don't like vegetables.
And for those of you who know my quirks, the end Thor sampled has been cut off and wrapped for little Cinnamon. I believe it was a plot by Thor to get extra snacks for his fellow 4 footed friend.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Saffron, Part 2

I couldn't give up on the saffron without at least one more attempt at using it. I found this recipe in my "new" New York Times Heritage cookbook, hailing from Minnesota. I thought that bread's always a hit, so this was a good way to try saffron again. I didn't realize when I started this recipe that it was a sweet bread - what was I thinking? So, I served it with dinner anyway. No one gripes about sweet bread.


1/2 cup very warm water
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crumbled

1 cup warm milk
6 tsp yeast
4-1/2 cups flour

2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

Sprinkle the saffron threads into the warm water in a measuring cup, and set aside. Pour the milk into your mixing bowl or bread machine pan, add the yeast, then the other ingredients in order. Add the saffron and water, the mix according to my bread making tutorial. You may need to add a bit more flour to the dough to give it a good consistency. When the mixing is done, divide the bread dough in 2, and place each half in a well greased loaf pan. Brush the top of each with a little milk. Let rise until doubled in size, then bake at 375F for about 25 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when gently tapped. Let it cool a few minutes before removing from the loaf pans.

It is a beautiful bread, with a delicate flavor of saffron. My middle daughter didn't like the taste of the saffron, but everyone else liked it. Ryan singlehandedly ate half a loaf the next day for breakfast and lunch. So, I believe saffron can remain in our household, after all!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Garden Tuesday: Plum Trees

Down in our little orchard, we have a couple of old plum trees. These haven't produced anything for many years, and, since time had been cruel to them, we cut them back severely a couple of years ago. Look how well that has paid off!

I'm pretty pleased with the whole thing. Ryan tried one of these plums, and was severely disappointed at how sour they were. I had to explain to him that they need to ripen, as evidenced by darkening in color.
And, at dusk, my little boys got this nice picture through the trees!

Monday, August 9, 2010


This is the third of Debbie's spices that I've tried.

I think we all know that saffron is the world's most expensive spice. So I was eager to try it, and turned to my hero, Pierre Franey, whose 60 Minute Gourmet cookbooks are a true godsend, at least for someone as time-challenged as I.


3 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely minced
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp loosely packed saffron
1 tsp salt
2 cups rice
4 cups water

Melt the butter in a pan; add the onion and cook a minute, until wilted. Add the garlic and saffron and saute 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and cook 17 to 20 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed.

I served this with a chicken dish to decidedly mixed reviews. I'd say that no one thought the saffron flavor was all that wonderful, and some simply detested it, but there's a batch of Saffron Bread in the works, which will be the determining factor in the debate about whether or not saffron deserves a permanent place in our pantry.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Orange Cream Ice Cream

This is one fabulous ice cream. It tastes just like a Dreamsicle, which several of you mentioned after reading about my daughters' orange concoction on Wednesday.

I know some of you don't like making cooked custard base for ice cream. I have one word for you: Microwave. Really. It works. Try this.

First, if you don't have the Pampered Chef's 2 quart batter bowl, hop on over to visit my friend Chan and order one. It is perfect for ice cream. I stumbled upon it purely by accident, and I assure you, it works for every single step of the ice cream process. Actually, I have two, so I can have plenty of ice cream handy. And, now, you're ready to make....


1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup orange juice
2 egg yolks
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp orange extract
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate

1/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup milk
Zest from 1 orange, finely chopped
2 cups whipping cream

In your Batter bowl or a suitable container, stir together the orange juice and sugar. Microwave 1 to 2 minutes, until hot. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the cornstarch and orange extract (lemon extract can be substituted in a pinch) until thick and light colored. When the orange
juice is hot, pour a little into the egg yolk mix and stir together. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the orange juice mixture, whisk together, and microwave 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every 15 to 30 seconds, until the mixture is hot, as evidenced by it puffing up within its container. It will thicken as it heats. Remove the hot mixture from the microwave, and whisk in the orange zest, 4 ounces of cold (or even frozen) orange juice concentrate, 1/4 cup cold cream and the milk. Place the mixture in the freezer to chill about 3 hours. 15 to 20 minutes before you're ready to process the ice cream, whip the remaining 2 cups of cream until it's softly whipped, and put that in the freezer for about 15 minutes. After that time, stir the unsweetened whipped cream into the orange custard base with a whisk, and process according to your ice cream maker's directions. (If you want your ice cream bright orange instead of yellowish, use food coloring. It seems that all ice cream comes out pretty much the same color without food coloring, doesn't it?)

If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can put the combination back in the freezer, and stir it with a whisk every 30 minutes or so until it's soft set, to prevent ice crystals from forming.

Note that this ice cream is really creamy, with the texture of ice cream from a dairy. I'm going to do further experimentation, but I believe this is thanks to the cornstarch. Since it's early August and still hot, I believe I will have many taste testers who can be beaten into trying my experiments, and will have more luscious flavors for you soon!

Meanwhile, make sure you go get that Pampered Chef Batter Bowl from Chan, if you haven't done so, and make yourself some ice cream! Have a great weekend, everyone.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thor Watches Movies, Too.

What is a dog to do when all of his people are watching Invictus, and not playing with him?

Sit down with them, of course.
Right between his sisters, so they can't ignore him.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Another Great Summer Confection!

Well, I don't know if this is technically a confection, as that usually brings to mind baked goods. But it is sweet, and the most peculiarly cold and refreshing drink dessert I've ever had.

This also comes courtesy of my daughters, yes, from the chain Nichole and Debbie mentioned. I can't use this treat's proper name, so, without further ado, the great supervisor is proud to introduce...


1 cup orange soda

4 scoops orange sherbet

Pour the orange soda into a blender. Whirl for a few seconds, to reduce the carbonation. Add the sherbet, and whirl until well combined. Again, you'll need to stop and loosen the sherbet from the blades.

Look at those colors!
This thing is much colder than a milkshake. I think that the carbon dioxide in the soda becomes much colder than either the soda or the ice cream. Fair warning: This can cause brain freeze! If it does, my nursing student daughter says to press your tongue against the roof of your mouth to warm it.
You could also make this with lemon sherbet and lemon soda. The restaurant also offers it in watermelon version, which uses watermelon sherbet and seltzer. You can see that the possibilities are nearly endless! From my perspective, this is probably the best summer dessert I've ever had (although I really did love my root beer float).

And I'm working on a new theory for creamier ice cream. I hope to have a report on Friday!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Garden Tuesday: Hydrangea

I should have put some evergreen tree spikes around my hydrangea this year. It's back to being white, instead of pink. But it is flourishing, and I love that the flowers stay on the bush when they dry, leaving spots of color throughout the drab winter!

And for those of you "suffering" a glut of tomatoes and cucumbers, here's an easy fix for you:


2 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced
4 large tomatoes, cut in large chunks
1/2 cup Zesty Italian salad dressing

Cut the veggies, combine in a bowl, and refrigerate at least 15 minutes, and up to 2 days. The Italian dressing keeps the veggies from softening up. This amount fed five of us as a side dish; I was saddened to see that I didn't even have any left for lunch today.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Desserts: A Two-fer!

My daughters have been waiting tables in a restaurant that sells ice cream and family fare (this a Northeastern chain that is not "hostile", so Nichole and Mango's Momma probably know the place). Of course, they've learned the secrets to great ice cream drinks, and I'm here to help you with a couple.

Fair warning: these are not diet desserts, so please don't blame me if your
waistband is a little tighter after indulging in these delights.

MILKSHAKES, Restaurant Style

1 cup milk
4 scoops ice cream
2 tbsp syrup, same flavor as ice cream, if available

(if vanilla shake, use 1 tsp vanilla extract)

Put the milk in the blender.
Add the ice cream and whirl at low speed. You will likely have to stop the blender and free up the ice cream a couple of times. Pour into a large glass and serve with a long handled spoon.

Don't use whipping cream; the shakes won't taste right. You can put whipped cream on top, if you like, but these milkshakes stand alone just fine.

Given the supervision of the making of these delights, you know they were good.

Of course, having to be different, I required a...


Root Beer
3 scoops vanilla ice cream.

Pour 1/2 glass of root beer. Stir 10 times to reduce the carbonation. Gently add the 3 scoops of ice cream. Fill the glass with root beer, pouring down the side to avoid the ice cream, so it doesn't fizz over.

Confession: I had mine made with diet root beer. I know it's stooopid to count those extra 100 calories, but it was that much less calorie counting I had to do the next day!

Next time, I'll bring you a much loved treat from this not hostile restaurant. It's very vividly colored, and astonishingly cold!