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me_in_paris_198That’s me, on a trip, in a Paris restaurant.
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On a recent road trip, I listened to 2 books on CD that I checked out of the library. With long stretches of highway with nothing to occupy my time, I love doing books on CD. The better of the 2 was definitely Frances Mayes’ new memoir, Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir. She narrates the story herself, and I just loved hearing her southern accent all the way through, her lilting, slow manner of speaking. She tells the story of her youth, from as young as she can remember to about age 25 or so, with most of it her coming-of-age in her teens. Her parents were alcoholics. Her older sisters were away at college. She wasn’t from a wealthy family exactly, but there was some money, a maid that she loved dearly who protected her from her parents sometimes. A grandmother figures large for some of the years. Her thought processes are normal, although she says from the get-go that she always felt she was different than most people, not a traditionalist for sure. Having read her other books, I never picked up on all the angst she experienced as a young woman, a girl, really. I absolutely LOVED the book. Mayes has a gift of prose – of a kind you don’t often read – she uses amazing language and phrases, adverbs and adjectives. Describes scenes so well and with such detail you just know you’re right there beside her.  Didn’t want it to end. As I reached across to the passenger seat to pull out the last CD I was sad, knowing the story was coming to an end. Because she ended it at about age 25, I suspect there may be another book in her future. For several days after I listened to this book I could hear Mayes’ southern accent in my head (like I hear memorable music when I attend a concert or sing a hymn or praise song at church). Her voice resonated in my head. If you enjoy memoirs, and reading about a kind of a crazy family, AND you like Frances Mayes, well, then, you’ll like this book for sure.

The other book, that I am sorry to say I cannot recommend is Sue Miller’s book, The Senator’s Wife (Vintage Contemporaries). Reading the back of the CD box I wasn’t sure, but I took it anyway. And at first I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue listening to it (when the young woman digs into her neighbor’s personal letters when she’s supposedly taking in the mail and watering plants), then got engrossed in the story. It’s about a young couple who move to a new house, part of a duplex in New England. Their next door neighbor is the aging and somewhat estranged wife of a Washington Senator. The young woman is far too curious about her neighbor and her neighbor’s marriage, what there is of it, although she cares about her neighbor a lot. The chapters switch back and forth between the young wife and the aging woman next door with their personal daily trivia, interspersed with some drama on both sides. The Senator is a philanderer, hence the partial estrangement. The young woman has a baby and consequently spends lots of time at home, overwhelmed with motherhood, hoping for something to change her life. When the Senator has a stroke and returns “home” for his “wife” to care for him (her choice) the plot thickens. The young wife is asked to babysit, so to speak, for an hour or so once a week for the old man, and that’s when, something happens that sickened me. I disliked this young woman and felt her behavior was just so disappointing. I couldn’t continue. If you like that sort of thing, then maybe you’d like the book. I was on the last CD when the story took this turn, and I was sorry I’d wasted so many hours on it to get there. Friendship isn’t about betrayal – it isn’t a friendship then. If any of you have read this already and want to comment, send me an email. Go to my contact page above.

Read Maude by Donna Mabry. It’s a true story (but written as a novel) about the author’s grandmother, Maude. It takes place from the early 1900s to her death in the 1960s. She lived a hard, hard life (mostly in Detroit), and there’s information that even takes me back to things I vaguely remember about my own grandmother’s life. I was fascinated. I won’t say that I couldn’t put it down, but I looked forward each night to read what was going to happen next. It’s hard to tell you much about the book without revealing too much of the story – I won’t call it a happy book, because there is much sadness within its pages, but you admire Maude for what she did, the role she played, her inherent grit. But I wanted to smack her 2nd husband! A good read, though.

While I was on my 3-week trip to Europe, I read 5 books. Of them all, Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse by Robin Hutton, was by far the best story, a true story about an American Marine. Many books have been written about Sgt Reckless, this rather nondescript, small Mongolian mare that was purchased by American forces in Korea in the height of the war. She was reared as a race horse, but she spent her career as an heroic soldier for our military, saving countless lives as she willingly delivered munitions from one place to another. Everyone who came in contact with her loved her. She became a regular soldier, mostly so they could requisition food for her. Sometimes she survived on next to nothing to eat. She aimed to please, and please she did, as in one 24-hour period she ferried ammunition up steep slopes (too steep for soldiers to climb) and she did it all by herself. When the Marines unloaded her cargo, she immediately worked her way down for more. She knew what she was supposed to do. She was highly intelligent, amazing many people over the course of her life. If you love animal stories, you’ll love this one. Have a Kleenex box nearby.

Another really riveting story, one I could hardly put down, is The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam. My friend Joan recommended this one to me. Most likely  you’ve never read anything about Chinese immigrants living in South Vietnam during the war there, right? Neither had I. And you have to keep track of who is who, and the politics of the time. The Vietnamese don’t like Chinese people, so there’s that going on. The Chinese man runs an English school somewhere near Saigon. He has a right hand man who may or may not be what he appears to be. The Chinese man has a son who gets himself into trouble. Oh, webs woven every which way. As I said, I could hardly put it down. Will make a very good book club read.

IN THE POWDER ROOM: The guest half-bath in my house has a little tiny table with a pile of books that I change every now and then. They’re books that might pique someone’s interest even if for a very short read. The Art of Travel, a collection of essays about traveling (it’s not a how-to), gathering a variety of stories of some historic authors and where and why they traveled; The Greatest Stories Never Told; and Sara Midda’s South of France; also Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller’s Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages (just the cutest book – with a miscellany of things – letters, grocery lists, notes, reminders, confessions the author discovered hidden inside the books he purchased for his used bookstore).

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small engraved sterling silver tea spoons that I use to taste as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Soups, on September 4th, 2015.

honeydew_melon_soup1

Honeydew. Summertime. Melon. Cool soup. Ahhh. . .

Just a week or so ago I posted a recipe for a Cantaloupe Soup, explaining that I tried to replicate a recipe from a list of ingredients. It was delicious, but I do think this one, made with honeydew, is even better. To recap, when I was visiting my friends Lynn and Sue in Colorado, one day we visited Willow Creek Restaurant in Evergreen, a tiny little town in the foothills of the Rockies. The restaurant overlooks the town lake. It was a warm summer day and the chef had just made this honeydew_melon_soup_closeupsoup. It sounded so refreshing (it was). Sue and I both ordered it and could hardly keep ourselves from licking the little bowl. We asked what was in it. The hostess went back to the kitchen and asked, and there we got the ingredients. It was our job to figure out how much.

Sue made this recently, using her version of the ingredient list, and sent it to me, so I set to work making it. Can I just tell you – MAKE THIS! Not only is it super easy (it’s all done in a blender) but it’s just SO “summer,” SO “light,” and just gosh-darned delicious. I wasn’t having guests and I ate it all by myself over the course of 4 days.

The toasted almonds are a real must – don’t neglect that little tiny aspect as it kind of makes it – it’s the crunch, I think. I sought out every last little speck of toasted almond in the bottom of that bowl up there. And be sure to choose a very ripe and tasty melon – I let mine ripen on my kitchen counter top for several days before I refrigerated it – that’s my one little technique for buying melons. The soup will shine only if the melon flavor is good to begin with.

What’s GOOD: the honeydew flavor is predominant, although honeydew (or any melon for that matter) flavor is subtle. But it shines through here, and the addition of mint or basil is key, as are the toasted almonds. Make a day or so ahead. You’ll hear raves, I promise you. EASY!

What’s NOT: not a single thing.

printer friendly PDF and Files: MasterCook 5+ and MasterCook 14 (click on link to open in MC)

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Honeydew Melon Soup with Almonds

Recipe By: My friend Sue’s and my collaboration
Serving Size: 6

1 whole honeydew melon — seeded, flesh cut into chunks
1/4 cup Greek yogurt, full-fat — or use low-fat
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon champagne wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh mint — or fresh basil
1 dash salt
1 dash cayenne — optional
1/4 cup sliced almonds — toasted, for garnish
Mint leaf or sliced basil for garnish

1. Combine in a blender all the ingredients except the garnishes. Puree until smooth. Chill for an hour or two to combine the flavors. You may add pepper if desired, and do remember you can use basil or mint, but not both.
2. Pour 1/2 cup into a small bowl and garnish with the toasted almonds and the mint or basil. Serve immediately.
Per Serving: 136 Calories; 4g Fat (23.4% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 26g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 2mg Cholesterol; 79mg Sodium.

Posted in Desserts, on August 29th, 2015.

peach_blackberry_almond_crisp

If a CRISPY crisp is what you like, you’ll not be disappointed with this one. A layer of peaches and blackberries on the bottom and the topping (crispy, but no oatmeal) sprinkled liberally on the top and baked. Wonderful!

A few months ago I purchased another cookbook. I’m a sucker. I’d read that the book was so worth buying and very few of the recipes have shown up yet on the ‘net, so I decided to spring for it. Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More, written by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. I had a big crowd over for dinner recently – it was a cool evening (although ever-so humid what with this oddball weather we’re toppinghaving) and I even lit the outdoor fireplace for some of the younger dinner guests. Anyway, I bought a small flat of peaches (not nectarines) and we generally don’t find boysenberries at our markets, so I bought blackberries instead. Otherwise I followed the recipe.

Since I used peaches, I peeled them. I have a great Messermeister Pro Touch Swivel Peeler that works like a charm on soft fruit. The recipe calls for tossing the fruit with cornstarch and a dash of salt. I thought the fruit was sweet enough, so I eliminated the 1/2 cup tossed into the fruit. I’ve noted it in the recipe as optional.

The topping is easy to make – you combine everything (adding in the sliced toasted almonds later) in a food processor (or do by hand if preferred) and once out into a bowl you kind of manhandle the dough until it makes shards or clumps and that are sprinkled all over the fruit.

Down below  you’ll see photos of the Pyrex dish with just fruit, and then with the topping. I increased the recipe to feed more people, so ended up baking it in 2 different dishes. One of the suggestions was to bake this in flatter, wider dishes so the moisture from the fruit will do some evaporation and so the topping will have plenty of space to “crisp.” That’s what I did.

fruit_before_topping

crisp_ready2_bake

The crisp is baked for 55 minutes (the recipe says 45-55 and the tops weren’t quite brown enough so I baked it the full 55 minutes). Ideally, serve this warm – you can reheat it for 10 minutes at 325° if you make it earlier in the day. I served it with vanilla ice cream. But, when we had left overs, I served it at room temp 2 days later and it was just fine.

What’s GOOD: this recipe is a real keeper. I LOVED-LOVED the crispy topping – and especially because it contained no oatmeal. I’ve never been a fan of oatmeal crusted cobblers. So I really liked this topping which IS crunchy and tasty. Really liked the almonds in the mixture too (toasted prior to baking the crisp).  Altogether a delicious dessert, and it wasn’t all that much work to make. Peeling the peaches wasn’t a whole lot of fun, but the peeler makes it pretty quick work. Nectarines don’t require peeling, and peaches probably could have been left unpeeled. Your choice, I guess.

What’s NOT: The blackberries I used were huge, so their seeds were quite large (chewy). If I had anything to complain about it would be that – and that’s not the fault of the recipe, just the fruit selection. I’d choose younger blackberries, or substitute raspberries. That, however, was the only thing I could possible comment on. The dish was wonderful, worth making.

printer-friendly PDF and Files: MasterCook 5+ and MasterCook 14 (click link to open in MC)

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Nectarine, Boysenberry, and Almond Crisp

Recipe By: Rustic Fruit Desserts (cookbook)
Serving Size: 8

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter — cold, cut into 6 cubes
3/4 cup sliced almonds — toasted
1/2 cup granulated sugar (optional – if fruit is really sweet you can leave this out)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 whole nectarines — or peaches each cut into 10 to 12 slices (3 pounds prepped)
1 pint boysenberries — or blackberries
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Optional for serving: ice cream or whipped cream

Cook’s notes: You will want to use a wide dish for this recipe so the filling can spread out in a shallow layer, which allows more water (from the fruit) to evaporate. Almonds are the first choice to complement the combination of nectarines and boysenberries, but walnuts or hazelnuts also work well.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter a 3-quart baking dish (see cook’s notes).
2. Prepare topping: Mix flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Add butter and toss until evenly coated. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles crumbs. (Alternatively, you can put the dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly, then transfer to a bowl and squeeze the mixture between your fingers to make crumbs.) Add the almonds and mix gently; try not to break the almond slices. Put the topping in the freezer while you prepare the fruit filling.
3. Prepare fruit filling: Rub the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a large bowl. Add nectarines and boysenberries, toss until evenly coated, then gently stir in the vanilla.
4. Pour the fruit into prepared baking dish and scatter topping over the fruit. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until topping is golden and fruit is bubbling. Cool for 30 minutes before serving, topped with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the crisp will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 325-degree oven for 10 minutes before serving.
Per Serving: 452 Calories; 19g Fat (37.3% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 67g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 31mg Cholesterol; 388mg Sodium.

Posted in Uncategorized, on August 29th, 2015.

There’s not been a lot of cookin’ going on in my kitchen lately. What with this being a food blog, and all, that’s kind of a problem, isn’t it? It’s been just too blooming hot. I heard it’s going to be almost 100° here tomorrow. Oh my goodness. I’m going to an anniversary party this weekend. My best friend Cherrie that you hear me talking about all the time, and her husband are celebrating 30 years, and their kids are throwing a big Hawaiian party for them. Bud was born in Hawaii so he asked for an Hawaiian theme. The party will be outside. 100°? Oh my gosh. Note to self: take my fan!

My Northern California family was down here a couple of weeks ago, and Dana (my daughter) made my salad dressing one of the nights we had dinner here at home – the Creamy Garlic Blue Cheese Dressing that’s probably my favorite. She just adores that dressing – I don’t know why she doesn’t make it for herself except that her family is pretty partial to loads of ranch dressing on and with everything. Anyway, there’s still some left, so I’ve been using it to dress salads and cole slaws I’ve made. I’ve fixed my Green Beans with Garlic and Olive Oil a couple of times. I’ve defrosted packages of my favorite chicken curry – the Murgh Khorma. I made a monstrous big batch of it a couple of months ago and froze it in smaller portions. I have a big bunch of chicken breasts left over from the party I threw some weeks ago, the Moroccan Spiced Chicken Breasts. I froze them, but now need to use them or throw them out because once they’re cooked and frozen, ice crystals form and I think the chicken dries out. I’ve defrosted a couple and chopped them up fairly finely in a green salad.

Image result for hershey's chocolate pudding instantThe other night I made a package of INSTANT Hershey’s chocolate pudding – see photo at right. If you haven’t noticed the box at the grocery store, you’re in for a treat. It’s actually VERY good. I’m shocked it’s so good! You literally pour 2 cups of cold milk (I used 2%), sprinkle in the pudding mix, whisk and it’s done. I’m a fan in one short trial. I used the dark chocolate version, but I’m sure I saw a milk chocolate box also.

My granddaughter Taylor went off to college last weekend. Oh my goodness, what a momentous event. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to share the excitement. Her whole family went along to move her in and meet her roommates. Her classes have started and she’s very happy. My college experience, lo these many years ago – I started college in 1959 – was a fantastic experience. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in, but settled on business and ended up with a bachelor’s degree in business administration (BBA). Although at the time I was anxious to get going with my real life, I enjoyed all of my years at college (I lived on campus even though my family home was a few miles away – my parents were convinced I needed the experience of living on campus – bless them for that).

Back here at the ranch I’ve been undergoing some major renovations on my house. When I started I wanted ONLY to redecorate my master bedroom. Perhaps I mentioned it here on my blog awhile back, but the décor in the bedroom was 17 years old and I needed a change. I also wanted to install a new front door. My front_doorDH Dave, bless his heart, always took care of the wood door – it required varnishing every other year – and he was an expert at it. But with him gone, I’m not going to varnish anything! and the front door needed a new look.

This new door, at left, is made of aluminum with the wrought iron in the middle and I swear it’s as solid as a bank vault and unless you touch the surface you’d not realize it’s metal. It’s black (the trim on the house is black) and it has semi-opaque glass in the center portion. The door was installed a few days ago. I just love it. It lets in a lot more light than the older door, which was stained glass and wood, and very much from the 1970s when this house was built. In case you’re interested, the door is made by JeldWen.

So, that’s what I started out to do, but my contractor – someone I trust because he’d done work for us before – noticed on his first visit to the master bedroom that I had a problem with the windows. Consequently, many of the windows in my house have had to be replaced (Millgard won’t honor any warranty unless it’s for the original buyer – take note – I’m down on Millgard, for sure!). The windows were faulty (long story I won’t bore you with). I’d not planned on replacing windows. But, when they began working on that, they discovered I had a problem with my roof. Here in California, back in the 1980s, the State handed down a kind of a directive about wood shingle roofs. Don’t install them anymore because of our serious fire problems. So, some previous owner of my house, way back, put on a Cal-Shake roof. They were cement and fiber tiles that looked like slate. But the roof tiles have failed, and Cal-Shake was sued into the ground, as well as the 2 other companies who manufactured similar roof products. The tiles on my roof had broken, cracked, fractured and some had actually fallen off. My contractor was amazed I hadn’t had any leaking. So, long story short, I’ve had to re-roof also. But in the process I’ve beefed up the insulation in the attic and added some attic fans to evacuate the summer heat that builds up. Also had a radiant barrier installed. It’s been 3 months since all this work started, and what a mess. They’re just finishing up, thank goodness, and I’ll be able to move into my newly redecorated bedroom sometime soon. I’ll take pictures when that’s done and post them. I’m waiting for the wallpaper to be put in right now, otherwise I’d be in there already. Do you remember grass cloth? Well, grass cloth wallpapers are now back in style. Mine is fairly tame – a kind of a plain taupe color. At right is the fireplace in the master. It’s been used about twice in the 12 years Dave and I lived here. It’s been revamped and I’ll have a remote control for the gas logs on cold winter nights.

Some outdoor fascia boards are having to be replaced – big beams actually – because they’ve got dry rot. My house is big, and I’m not very thorough about walking around it all the time to examine everything outside. Those were things I expected Dave to watch out for, and now it’s my job. I can tell you for sure I’ve talked to Dave in my head a lot of times in this remodeling process, wishing he could provide wise counsel on the decisions.

PhotoAnd, last but not least, I’m taking another trip soon. I thought I’d share with you a photo of the shots I had to have the other day. Does that give you a clue? Yup. Safari coming up. My first visit to the travel clinic cost me $865. Yikes. I had a shot for yellow fever, typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, and a new kind of pneumonia shot. Two shots in each upper arm. And oh, did they HURT. I’m a real wuss about shots. And there was considerable pain and discomfort for over 24 hours afterwards. I had a very hard time sleeping that night because I’m a side sleeper and when I moved in my sleep the pain woke me up many, many times. Last night was better thank goodness. Fortunately I didn’t have any side effects (headache is the most common, and fatigue) other than the arm pain.

Oh, I haven’t shared anything about my darling little (big) kitten, Oliver. I do think he’s grown at least 2-3 inches in the month I’ve had him. He’s chewed off all of his artificial nails – which did a really good job (while they lasted) of deterring him from using his claws to Photoclimb furniture – that’s the whole point. I’ll have to see if he tries to climb with his claws in the next couple of weeks – if he scratches furniture I’ll be taking him in for another set of nails until he gets a bit bigger/older/mature. He uses his scratching post and his cardboard flat scratching pad many times every day, so he’s got that part down pat. He’s an absolutely love. I tried to let him sleep with me twice, but he thinks beds are for playing, so that lasted about 30 – 40 minutes each time and into the bathroom he went (where he has a bed, a litter box, food and water).

In the evenings I’m often upstairs in my office/study, in my very comfortable chair (reading, watching TV, playing a game on my iPad mini, talking on the phone with my friends) and there’s room beside me where Oliver happily hops up to take a nap. When he falls asleep I can get in many, many long petting strokes without him noticing. When he is let out of his bathroom in the mornings he wants to be held – he’s very lovable – he lets me pet him, talk to him, purr-purr, but at other times of the day he has to be “in the mood” to let me do that for more than a few pets at a time. Otherwise he thinks I want to play. It’s amazing how this little thing has taken over my life. I love him to pieces. His favorite food is chicken and cheese cubes (a type of canned cat meat). He loves-loves his twice a day serving of meat.

Oh, one more thing – my brand spankin’ new computer (12 days old) had a big, bad black screen event, but after an hour on the phone with Dell, they resolved it (hopefully) having to do with Windows 10 installation. They actually have a utility that fixes Windows 10 “black screen” problems. We’ll see in coming days if I have any further problems. No, I still don’t know if I am able to retrieve my recipes.

Posted in Breads, Brunch, on August 27th, 2015.

cream_filled_coffeecake

Recently I was asked to bring a coffeecake to a meeting. My mind said, “why not make something different.” This was the result. It’s a yeast-raised cake which is really more like a bread, a sweet bread, but still it has the consistency of bread, not the fine crumb of a more traditional cake-type coffeecake.

It’s a sweet bread, using yeast, that has a topping on it that’s mostly brown sugar, and once baked and cooled, the whole thing is split horizontally and filled with a rather different kind of buttercream filling.

I’d read about this cake back in 2013 on the King Arthur baking blog. It had such an unusual story – I’m a sucker for a good, heartwarming story anytime – especially old-fashioned kinds of recipes, and this is one.

It seems there was this nice lady named Doris Knutson, from Wisconsin, who was quite famous in her local circles for this very special coffeecake. And no, she absolutely did not, would not give the recipe to anyone. So the story goes, upon her death, her children made a photocopy of what they had and it was distributed at her funeral. Everything was there, but when some folks tried it, it wasn’t working real well. One of Doris’ friends sent the recipe and an plea to the test kitchen at King Arthur, along with a detailed explanation and in came King Arthur to the rescue.

King Arthur went to work on the recipe, trying to figure out exactly how she used the different ingredients (there’s a batter, a topping and a filling) to make this really unusual coffeecake. The folks at King Arthur believe they cracked the code and this coffeecake is the result.

flour_milk_gravy

There at left is the filling – I call it a “gravy,” (see down 2 paragraphs for a full explanation).

If you decide to make this, I recommend you read the recipe all the way through once. Then take a breath and read it again all the way through before you actually begin making it. There are lots of steps (not difficult) but there is a procedure. King Arthur updated it so you can do some of the work in your bread machine (I did). It also rises a couple of times, and mine took longer than the recipe indicated. you’ll read all the failures they had before they finally got it to work. Some people use two  8-inch round cake pans – that might be a good thought – especially if you don’t have a 10-inch springform. Mine is about 9 3/4 inches so I assumed it would work (it did).

The filling is very unusual – if you go to the entire article at King Arthur, you can read down through all the comments (which are interesting in themselves, including one from Doris’ daughter). Anyway, the filling is a roux – but not a browned roux with fat. This roux contains flour and milk and it’s cooked to a consistency more like a gravy (to me anyway). Then you add a fluffed up mixture of butter and powdered sugar. Very different, though when you’re done it has the consistency of frosting.

The dough is made first, and as I explained, because King Arthur suggested it, I made it in my bread machine. First I set it on the dough cycle, let it sit 30 minutes, then I re-started the dough cycle, adding in the additional flour, so then it went for 1 1/2 hours until it had about doubled in bulk. I rolled it out of the bread machine and kneaded it a little bit (it was quite sticky), so I actually just held it in my hands and pushed and mushed to get all the air bubbles out.cream_filled_coffeecake_ready_to_bake

At that point the dough is placed in a 10-inch springform pan (greased). Some people add the topping part way through this next   rising – I added it at the end and had to kind of stick the pieces onto the dough. It might be a good idea to put on a egg wash and then the topping would stick pretty well, I think.

This rising took longer than the recipe indicated – they said 1 1/2 hours, but mine took about 2 hours – to get the dough to rise about an inch above the pan. It’s a good thing I started making this at about 2pm, otherwise I’d have been up half the night! As it was it finished baking at about 8pm and I just let it sit in the springform pan overnight. I baked it per the recipe, 45 minutes, and my Thermapen registered 198°.

The next morning I sliced the cake/bread in half horizontally and made the filling. Do read the instructions carefully about this – be sure the gravy or roux cools before you add the butter and powdered sugar as you don’t want any melting butter! The filling is spread on the bottom half, then the top is placed back on the bread and it’s supposed to be chilled for 30 minutes or more. I don’t coffeecake_slicereally know what that does for it, but I did comply.

Do use a serrated knife to cut it. My bread knife doesn’t have a pointed end, so it didn’t work well trying to cut wedges. I finally used a shorter serrated knife to cut a round plug-shaped size in the middle, then the wedges were easier to slice since they weren’t as deep.

MY SUGGESTION: I think this bread needs more filling, so if I were to make it again I would probably triple the filling (there isn’t all that much of it anyway) and cut 2 horizontal slices and slather the filling on both. That way you’d have enough of the filling with each slice.

The bread, by itself, isn’t dry exactly, but it’s like eating a slice of bread, so usually we have butter, or jam or something to go on it. The same is true here, so the top half was a little lacking in enough to wash it down. You’d have to be very careful slicing it if you used 2 layers of filling. But I’d still try it anyway.

What’s GOOD: the cake/bread is very tasty. It’s a traditional sweet bread yeast recipe. What makes this different is the filling (1) and the topping (2). And baking it in a springform pan is different too. Don’t expect this to taste like a cake dessert cuz it isn’t! But it’s very good. Different. I liked that part. I can’t say that I had all that any of my lady friends come to me begging for the recipe, though. This morning I put a bit of butter on one of the left over slices (there were only 2 pieces left) and had that with my breakfast.

What’s NOT: do remember it’s a yeast bread and requires 3 rising times – it takes 5+ hours to make.

printer friendly PDF – and – Files: MasterCook 5+ and MasterCook 14 (click link to open in MC)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cream-Filled Yeast Coffeecake

Recipe By: Bakers Banter 2013 (King Arthur Flour)
Serving Size: 20

DOUGH:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter — soft
2 tablespoons cold water
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour — maybe using another 1/4 cup
TOPPING:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter — soft
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
FILLING (my advice: triple the filling):
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter — (8 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners sugar — sifted

TIPS from King Arthur bakers: (1) If you’d like to have two smaller coffeecakes (one to give, or one to freeze), leave the dough recipe as is; multiply the topping and filling ingredients by 1 1/2, and divide the dough between two 8″ round pans. The baking time will be about 5 minutes shorter. (2) Be careful combining the two parts of the filling. Whisk together gently, just until they’re mixed. Whipping vigorously at this point will make the filling appear curdled. It will still taste great, it’ll just be a little raggedy-looking. (3) This coffeecake freezes very well with no fuss. Finish the recipe all the way, including filling the cake, then put it in a cake carrier and freeze for up to 2 weeks.
1. DOUGH: In a large bowl or the pan of your bread machine, combine the sugar and salt. Heat the milk and butter together until the butter is melted, and pour over the sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the water, eggs, and vanilla, stirring to combine. Let the mixture rest until it cools to lukewarm. Stir in the yeast and the 2 1/2 cups flour. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
2. Add the additional 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups flour; start with the smaller amount and see how the dough behaves, adding 1/4 cup more if it’s still very sticky. Mix and knead for 6 to 8 minutes at slow to medium speed with your mixer; or use the dough cycle on your bread machine.
3. The dough will be soft, smooth, and silky; perhaps just slightly sticky to the touch. Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, until puffy-looking and almost doubled. Or let your bread machine finish its cycle.
4. TOPPING: Combine the brown sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon, and flour, mixing with a fork or your fingers until crumbs form. Set aside.
5. To shape and bake the cake: Deflate the dough, round it into a ball, and place it into a greased 10″ springform pan. Cover with greased plastic or a large inverted bowl until the dough domes an inch above the rim of the pan, about 45 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F. When the dough is ready, sprinkle it with the topping (some will slide down). Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before tilting it out of the pan and returning it to the rack to cool completely.
6. FILLING: Because this is a bread (not a sweet cake-type coffeecake) it needs more moisture – I recommend tripling the amount of filling, cutting it into 3 layers and using, then, more filling in between the 2 layers.) While the cake cools, put the flour in a small saucepan. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring to make a smooth mixture. Use a wire whisk to make sure you don’t have lumps, and keep using it when you’re cooking it. It takes very little time to get to a thick gravy-consistency.
7. Cook the flour and milk over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and cool. In a small mixing bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, then whisk into the flour/milk mixture.
8. To assemble: Split the cooled cake horizontally, and spread the filling on the bottom layer. Replace the top and refrigerate the cake until 30 minutes before serving.
Per Serving: 263 Calories; 11g Fat (36.4% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 37g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 49mg Cholesterol; 79mg Sodium.

Posted in Uncategorized, on August 24th, 2015.

If you don’t want to read my saga of one of my computers, you can skip this post. No food today. No pretty pictures of food (and I still can’t upload recipe files yet). Nothing but a text post.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a short little blurb about my computer having problems and that I wasn’t able to blog. Fortunately I had several food posts already scheduled to post, and as I write this, I still have 2 posts scheduled this week. Just in the nick of time, I’m tellin’ ya.

About 3 months ago now, I bought 2 new computers (my old ones were 7 years old) – I know – I’m only one person and certainly my kitten (who is as cute as button, by the way) doesn’t do anything with a computer except be ever-fascinated with the keyboard and occasionally the movement of the cursor across the screen. I have one computer upstairs in my office and another in the kitchen. More and more, I’m using the kitchen one for most of my computer tasks and even some game-playing. I’m not into “gaming,” just several variety of solitaire games. I do all of my posts from the kitchen computer.

So, I blithely went through the process of loading programs onto the new kitchen computer, getting my programs to run and work correctly, including MasterCook, which I use for storing all my recipes. It took a week or so to get everything working correctly. And here’s a foreshadowing comment: after restoring and setting up Carbonite to begin backing up my computer again, I forgot – totally forgot – to go tell Carbonite to back up my MasterCook files. Calamity. But that’s just the beginning.

I think I mentioned in my previous post that I was baking something, using the kitchen computer for the recipe. Just as I leaned over to read what was next, the monitor went to a blank screen (I don’t use a screen saver since I’ve had problems in the past with Dell computers and sleep mode and with screen savers, so I select “none” and whenever it reaches that time limit, it simply goes to a black, blank screen). Had been working fine that way. So I reached over with my flour-dusted hands and tapped the space bar to get the screen to open up and my computer went “sssst.” The screen didn’t come up. I tried several different things (ESC key for one, more taps on the space bar). Wash hands. Then I tried CTRL-ALT-DEL to see what was running. Nothing happened. No response to my request. I rebooted it, and funny thing – I was able at one point to get to a C: prompt and discovered that my entire MasterCook program was gone. Vanished from the hard drive. That was a bit perplexing, but at that point I hadn’t realized that I’d forgotten to tell Carbonite to back up everything. It was backing up most things, but NOT my recipe files.

Anyway, that began a long saga. I spent about 5 hours (over several days) on the phone with Dell/India trying to repair the problem. Nothing worked. One of the solutions was for them to send me a USB drive to take the system back to factory settings. But that meant it wiped out everything else on the hard drive. They thought the problem was the Windows program itself (I guess it was, but that was just the beginning of the problems). It took many days for the USB drive to arrive, and I finally took it back to factory. But it still didn’t run. Windows wouldn’t load. More hours on the phone with Dell/India. Then they decided I needed a new motherboard. First they updated the BIOS, hoping that would help. No. So I waited many days (with a frustrating lack of communication from Dell about when they were coming to do the work). Finally that happened, but Dell contracts with people to come and do the motherboard installation but not anything else. When the repair person turned on the computer after the install, my screen was seeing double. A full screen, side by side, but squished so the print was unreadable. The motherboard installer said I’d have to take it up with Dell. So, more hours on the phone with Dell/India. They did another session of remotely running my computer. Their end showed a normal screen, but mine was still seeing double. Many hours later with my cordless phone about to run out of juice because it had taken so long, he said well, we’ll need to schedule another motherboard install. I went non-linear. NO. Not doing that again. At that point I’d been without my computer for 2+ weeks. I simply said NO, I want a new computer. I guess they don’t normally do that, but after reviewing my Dell buying record, they relented and shipped me a new computer. And of course, on the day it was delivered I happened to be pouring some precious kitchen sink water onto the very thirsty outdoor plants on the patio and missed hearing the FedEx delivery person at the front door. They wouldn’t deliver without a signature. Talk about frustrated. Finally got it delivered a day later. That was last Tuesday, so I’ve been working ever since trying to get everything working correctly, loading a variety of programs I use for my blogging. But in that interim I’d realized that my MasterCook files were AWOL. What I do have is a copy of my recipes (contained in about 15 different cookbooks by category) that date to 2011, and I think I have another set dating from 2013. So I’ve lost all the recipes I’ve collected online, from cookbooks, for the last 2 or maybe 4 years.

Recipes on my blog are retrievable FROM the blog. Thank goodness! But, I probably had about 1000 recipes in my to-try file (in the MasterCook program) that are gone. SSSST. Just like that. Gone. But it’s totally my fault – I can’t blame anyone but myself. How many I’d added in the last 2-4 years I don’t know. And can I think of any one specific recipe to go look for, no. I haven’t started trying to figure out what I do have or don’t have. I haven’t integrated the old cookbooks with the ones I do have. It’s not a simple process, believe it or not. I’ll work on it eventually.

So, there’s the saga. My computer guru guy is coming tomorrow to help me get one of the programs linking up with my blog (the FTP file transfer which I can’t seem to get running correctly), and to set up the network so I can see my upstairs files, and my upstairs computer can see my downstairs files. I’m pretty savvy with computer stuff, but the FTP thing is beyond my ken. It’s probably something very simple I’m not doing right.

I’ll only add one more subject into this post. I’m so frustrated with passwords. I use a handy-dandy password program and mostly I’m consistent about adding to it and clarifying or correcting it when I make changes. But I’m password weary. Everything wants a password. Some insist on one or more numbers in it, and not consecutive ones. Others require at least one capital letter with lower case letters. Some insist on some oddball character also. And I’m really beyond comprehension about my apple ID and password. Unfortunately when I got my first iPhone, the salesperson told me to create an apple ID, which I did with an email address at @me.com. Well, I never use that, but even though I’ve changed it, some of my apple programs are still linked to that original email address. This confounds me. Just more complicated. I don’t want Windows to remember my passwords (that’s not so safe, in my book) and particularly anything that might be financially related. There has to be an easier way. I hope the techies in the world who work on this are doing so, finding an easier way.

And yes, in answer to your question, I went onto Carbonite yesterday and told it to begin backing up everything again, including my MasterCook cookbooks. I hope to goodness I never make THAT mistake again! Carbonite is a great program, but it’s only as good as the operator – ME!

Posted in Beverages, Brunch, on August 23rd, 2015.

cantaloupe_soup_yogurt_mint

While I was visiting in Colorado, one day we visited a wonderful restaurant in Evergreen. I’m going to write that up another day. We enjoyed a delicious honeydew chilled soup, which I’m going to try to re-create. But in the interim, I bought a cantaloupe and decided to make it into a chilled soup, or a fruit delight for breakfast, or just to drink it like a smoothie.

Being just one person, these days to buy a whole melon means serving it to myself as a wedge every day for many days, so I decided to try my hand at making a refreshing summer drink, or a soup. Either one. After the first time eating this as a soup, I poured the remainder into a glass and drank it instead of eating it with a spoon.

Using some recipes I’d found online, I combined several and added in my own twist to things. I knew I wanted to add mint (since I have some in my garden) and yogurt. Other than that, I winged it. I chopped up the cantaloupe (do make sure it’s sweet and ripe otherwise it won’t taste all that great), added a bit of sour cream (light) and a cup of Greek yogurt, some honey, about 2-3 T. of fresh mint leaves, and a dash or two of ground cinnamon and ground cloves. Those spices were miniscule enough that you hardly know they’re there, but enough to wonder what that elusive flavor is. Use your own choice of spices if you don’t like cloves or cinnamon.

This soup or drink is not thick – cantaloupe breaks down to almost a pure liquid with almost no texture. The yogurt and sour cream added little or no thickness to it, either. So what I’m saying is that this soup is a thin type, more liquid than texture. But I loved it. Having read varieties of recipes I just made it up as I went along and I liked it. I did notice that the next day it tasted much better than it did right out of the blender. So keep that in mind. If you wanted to add some thickness, add about half of a cucumber, seeded and peeled.

What’s GOOD: oh, it’s very refreshing. Very low in calorie. It almost tastes like a thin milkshake or a smoothie, but most smoothies are quite thick. This one is not – it’s liquid. Wonderful flavors – providing the melon is extra ripe and sweet.

What’s NOT: nothing really. This was gone in a couple of days – I shared it with my Scrabble friends – and we drank it right down.

printer friendly PDF – and – Files: MasterCook 5+ and MasterCook 14 (click link to open in MC)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chilled Cantaloupe Soup with Yogurt

Recipe By: My own concoction
Serving Size: 6

1 medium cantaloupe
1/4 cup light sour cream
1 cup Greek yogurt, full-fat — or low fat
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
Mint leaves for garnish

1. Cut cantaloupe into small pieces and place in blender.
2. Add sour cream, yogurt, honey, fresh mint, cinnamon and cloves and blend until completely smooth.
3. If time allows, chill overnight. Can be served as a soup (it has a thin consistency) or as a beverage/smoothie. If serving as a soup, garnish with mint leaves. If you prefer a thicker soup you could add half of a cucumber, peeled and seeded, which would give the soup more texture.
Per Serving: 103 Calories; 4g Fat (29.7% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 16mg Cholesterol; 30mg Sodium.

Posted in Brunch, on August 19th, 2015.

belgian_waffles_oatmeal

When I was in Colorado visiting my friends, Sue made these delicious (and healthy) oatmeal Belgian waffles one morning. They were so good. On top is defrosted frozen fruit. No syrup or butter needed.

As it so happens, I don’t own a Belgian waffle maker, but you can use a regular waffle iron for these. They’d be a little larger and also a little thinner. Sue’s grandchildren beg for these every time they have an overnight at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

It’s a typical waffle batter except that it calls for white whole wheat flour, and these contain some oatmeal, so they have a little bit more texture than traditional waffles. The recipe came from the Spark People (they’re a group of websites for healthy eating) and was submitted by someone who has a membership to the website. For 12 waffles you’ll use 1/4 cup of melted butter in the batter.

When Sue makes these, she makes all 12 waffles and freezes the left overs which can be quickly defrosted for another morning in the toaster oven. If you choose, you can use syrup and butter, but these are so tasty as is, you don’t need anything except some fruit. Thanks, Sue, for sharing the recipe.

What’s GOOD: these are healthy, with very little fat, and you can keep them extra low in calories if you use fruit instead of syrup and/or butter.

What’s NOT: nothing whatsoever!

printer friendly PDF – and – Files: MasterCook 5+ and MasterCook 14 (click link to open in MC)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Oatmeal Buttermilk Belgian Waffles

Recipe By: Adapted from SparkPeople, by my friend Sue
Serving Size: 6

1 cup white whole wheat flour — (or use all-purpose)
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 dash salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter — melted (or vegetable oil)

1. In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Beat together with an electric mixer until blended.
2. Pour 3/4 cup batter onto hot Belgian waffle iron. Close lid and bake until steam stops and waffles are brown and crisp. (These can be made in a traditional waffle iron, but may require more batter and less time).
3. Keep waffles warm or on a rack in a low oven, or serve immediately. Serve with maple syrup, blueberry sauce, or frozen fruit (like strawberries, defrosted and mashed). Serve 2 per person. Left over waffles may be frozen and defrosted quickly in the oven set on low heat. They can be defrosted in the microwave, but you may have some hot spots and the time between frozen and defrosted is a few seconds (easy to defrost for too long).
Per Serving: 244 Calories; 11g Fat (42.0% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 94mg Cholesterol; 560mg Sodium.

Posted in Fish, on August 15th, 2015.

salmon_tomatoes_ginger_basil_pinenuts

An elegant preparation of salmon – good enough for serving to guests, but easy enough to do for a weeknight dinner. It has a few more steps than some, but it’s very do-able and it’s delicious.What you see above are 2 fillets – I saved the half for another meal.

With salmon defrosted in my refrigerator, and a limited number of things I could put with it, I did a search on google for salmon + tomatoes + ginger and up came a bunch of options, and the recipe here is what I made with it. I had to improvise just a little bit, and I thought pine nuts would be a nice addition. The original recipe came from Fine Cooking, but I made some alterations to the recipe. After putting an oiled spice rub on the fish, it’s pan-seared in oil. I used my instant-read thermometer for this.

Because I knew from reading the recipe that it would all come together quickly, I prepped everything in advance – chopping tomatoes, toasting the pine nuts, fresh basil leaf at hand, and I made a pot of green beans (simple prep with bacon) to go with it. So, once I started cooking it all came together quickly. I also made the rub – ground coriander, ground ginger, a bit of cayenne and a drizzle of oil so it will stick to the fish.

The salmon is cooked through to 135° (I used my Thermapen to make sure). The fish was removed, then you make the sauce. The tomatoes aren’t really cooked – they’re mostly just heated through, but you make the sauce with garlic and ginger. All that is scooped onto the top of the salmon, then you deglaze the pan with a little white wine (vermouth for me) and some chicken broth and a tiny bit of butter and that is poured over the salmon. Garnish with basil (or cilantro) and the toasted pine nuts. Done. I thought this was really good. It wasn’t hard to make, although you do have to do a bit of sous-chef stuff with the chopping and mincing.

What’s GOOD: This was really tasty – I liked the bit of heat in the rub (from the cayenne) and the ground coriander and ground ginger also gave it some depth of flavor. The sauce is very fresh tasting – there’s very little of it, actually – don’t go thinking this is a sauce-sauce. No. It’s just a tiny bit of liquid that’s very flavorful. I liked it a lot.

What’s NOT: really nothing – it takes a tiny bit more time than a quick pan-fry, though. Get someone else to help you with the chopping and mincing and it will come together quickly.

printer-friendly PDF – and – Files: MasterCook 5+ and MasterCook 14 (click link to open in MC)

Pan-Seared Salmon with Tomato & Ginger Sauce and Pine Nuts

Recipe By: Adapted from Fine Cooking magazine
Serving Size: 4

1/4 cup coriander seeds — ground medium-fine
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon canola oil
24 ounces salmon fillets — skin removed, cut into portions
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil — (for sauteing the fish)
SAUCE:
2 cloves garlic — minced
2 cups ripe tomatoes — seeded then chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons fresh ginger — grated
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil — or cilantro
1/4 cup pine nuts — toasted

1. In a small bowl, combine the coriander, ground ginger, and cayenne and mix with oil to make a paste. Pat the paste on both sides of the salmon fillets and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a 12-inch heavy-based skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining portion of oil and swirl to coat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the fillets and cook until the bottom is well browned and the bottom half of the fish becomes opaque, 3 to 4 min. Turn the fish and cook until browned on the second side and just cooked through, another 3 to 4 minutes. The fish should reach an internal temp of 135° if you want to use an instant read thermometer. Transfer to a warm platter.
3. Pour off all but a film of fat from the pan. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until slightly softened, about 2 min. Remove from the heat, toss in the ginger, and pour the tomatoes over the fish.
4. Put the pan over high heat. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half. Add the broth; boil until reduced by half again. Off the heat, swirl in the butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the salmon and tomatoes, sprinkle with the basil (or cilantro) and pine nuts, and serve immediately.
Per Serving: 417 Calories; 24g Fat (53.3% calories from fat); 38g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 104mg Cholesterol; 129mg Sodium.

Posted in Uncategorized, on August 13th, 2015.

oliver_aug_7_15

These days I’m a family of one – well, I was until about 2 weeks ago when I gave in to the urge to have a pet. One of my granddaughters (Sabrina) volunteers at a pet rescue center in San Diego, and she’s a huge cat lover, so she’s been chiding me, pleading with me, begging me to adopt a cat. I started off with all kinds of parameters – my want list was: adult cat, very lovable, talkative, preferably a snowshoe cat, and already declawed. Oh yes, and short haired. Spayed or neutered too, of course. She’d identified several cats over the last 9 months or so, but for a variety of reasons (like I was going on a trip in 2 weeks, or no, it’s long-haired, I don’t want that kind; or no, it’s not declawed . . . the list went on). Finally, though, I told her about a month or so ago that I was finally ready and within about 2 weeks she’d found the perfect cat for me. I set up to drive to San Diego the next day and get him, and no, my granddaughter wasn’t able to put him on a hold. Just before I drove out of my garage I thought I’d best check online to make sure he was still there. Oh, darn. He’d been adopted that morning. My granddaughter was heart-broken.

A week or so went by and my daughter called to say she and Sabrina were coming up to Orange County for the day (a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm was in the cards for grandson John and 2 of his friends). As soon as they arrived Sara was online looking at shelters in my area. Well, one thing led to another, and off we went to a cat rescue center. I looked at the adult cats and didn’t have any “feeling” for any of them and the only one I kind of liked nearly bit me. So much for that. On our way out we walked through the kitten room. Oh, I should never have let the employee there hand me a kitten. My downfall. This kitten is 4 months old, isn’t declawed (and if most vets and cat friends had their way no cats would ever be declawed, I understand) and he wasn’t a snowshoe, although he has sort of similar markings of one. He’s neutered, chipped, and has his shots. But oh my gosh, he’s a KITTEN. Kittens are a lot of work – they almost never slow down.

I love him to pieces. He’s very sweet and talkative. He does let me hold and pet him some, though only on his timetable, not mine. That’s normal, I know. Yesterday I took him to the cat vet and had “soft paws” put on his nails. It’s like acrylic nails for cats and they’re attached with super glue. They’re supposed to last 4-6 weeks, but I can tell you little Oliver has already, 24 hours later, chewed off 3 of them. The vet said I’d probably have to have them done a 2nd time – by then it’s hoped he’ll realize that he can’t use his claws for much. And I won’t have to declaw him. I had them do it to all 4 paws as he’s already using both front and back claws for climbing onto chairs and sofas. He’s pretty good about scratching on his cardboard scratcher and short sisal tree.

After returning from the vet’s office Oliver was glued to me. On the drive to and fro I had a hard time listening to his plaintive meows from inside his cat carrier – which he just HATED – the meowing was so pitiful as if he was in terrible pain.

I won’t even TELL you how much money I’ve spent on litter boxes, litter, toys, dry food, wet food, more toys and more toys. Two of the upscale dry food choices I’ve purchased he won’t eat. Gee, he’s only a kitten and he’s already pernickety about his food? Oliver gets very bored and I shut him up in a windowless bathroom when I go out somewhere – I feel sorry for him closed  up in that room for several hours at a time. But I’ve been told to never give him fish (too much mercury), even the canned cat type. I do have a fish-flavored treat type that’s tuna flavored and he’s all over that. Also learned that cats are lactose intolerant. But he craves milk – he nearly drags my coffee mug out of my hands every morning trying to get to it. I’ve given him a few little licks of yogurt. And did you know that cats don’t develop a taste for catnip until they’re 6 months old?

Posted in Appetizers, Vegetarian, on August 11th, 2015.

fresh_tomato_bruschetta_toasts

Recently I visited with friends who live in Morrison, Colorado. Sue and her husband Lynn are foodies as I am, so Sue and I spent some time preparing lunch and dinner things. One night, after we’d been out for a nice lunch and weren’t overly hungry, we didn’t feel like having a regular, big dinner. So Sue made (with me helping just to chop up the tomatoes) these delicious bruschetta appetizers. These are different only in that fresh mozzarella cheese is toasted on the little baguette slices and THEN the bruschetta stuff is scooped on top.

When my friends used to live here in California, we frequently had one another over for dinner. We always had lively conversations, and talked about the wine we were drinking, or wines we’d had or were going to buy. And trips we had taken, were taking, or were talking about taking. My DH and I visited them a few years ago in Colorado, so there were shared memories of our previous visit.

toasts_to_toastThis appetizer took relatively little time to make, from beginning to end. A lovely baguette had been purchased the day before at a farmer’s market in Boulder, along with gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. Sue had basil growing in pots on her deck, and she had fresh mozzie. Plus some garlic, Parmesan and balsamic vinegar. You can serve this hot with a bowl of the topping, or you can serve it up freshly stacked, with napkins. It was our main course, and we ate a lot of them. Sue had gotten the recipe online at Taste of Home. I’ve renamed them, only because they’re not quite a typical bruschetta – the mozzie on the bottom makes them a bit different – a bit more substantial. So I’m calling them “toasts.” You could make them on bigger pieces of baguette or other bread and they’d be open-faced bruschetta sandwiches even. Any way you make them, they’re delicious.

What’s GOOD: these would be good even if you didn’t use the mozzie underneath, but that one thing makes them a bigger, nicer tidbit of an appetizer. Or a light lunch. These were delish, and although I don’t make bruschetta very often, if I make it in the future, I think I’ll use this recipe.

What’s NOT: well, you’ve got to have all the ingredients – the fresh mozzie, the good, ripe tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, Italian parsley etc. If so, you’re in business!

printer-friendly PDF  and Files: MasterCook 5+ and MasterCook 14 (click link to open in MC)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta Toasts

Recipe By: From Taste of Home, but from my friend Sue
Serving Size: 12 (2 per person)

4 whole plum tomatoes — seeded and chopped (Sue used heirloom)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves — minced
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 baguette — 12″ long, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup butter — softened (optional)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella — sliced

1. In a small bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients.
2. Spread baguette slices with butter (Sue didn’t do this step – she thought the cheese was enough); top each with a cheese slice. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Broil 3-4 ” from the heat for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
3. With a slotted spoon, top each slice with about 1 tablespoon tomato mixture. Serve immediately with napkins if you’re making this finger food.
Per Serving: 247 Calories; 14g Fat (50.8% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 30mg Cholesterol; 429mg Sodium.

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