Sunday, December 28, 2008

And a happy new Year!

Here's looking to 2009 with new eyes and new posts. It has been sparse at best I know. Number one resolution is to get this blog back on track! See you in January!

Here's a post worthy of your time if you happen to go to office parties where alcohol is served! It is written by a law professor somewhere in San Diego.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Remembering the real reason for stopping, and pausing today. May youfind Joy in this message too. Merry Christmas to all of you, my readers.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Christmas, Missing Leslie Harpold

Leslie harpold passed away in 2006. For a few years I had enjoyed her Christmas Advent Calender. Her snowglobe was the best ever. This isn't a food post. It's a post about a person I never knew in real life. Yet, she added a dimension to my holidays while stuck in a workplace with internet access.

She brought a bright spot to the working day during the holidays for me. I also enjoyed her wit and creativity. Others knew her personally and the world took pause to learn of her death in 2006. So today I googled Leslie Harpold in hopes that I'd find another person missing her too.

Last year, the folks over at 43 Folders did a series on Leslie. You should click on the link and find out why me, and others, miss Leslie and her work.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

I'm busy and beginning a new job in a new segment of the food industry. I'll be back soon with stories, rants, and images of a new side of food!

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It's almost Christmas! Time for the M&M photos.

We've been working here like little elves. The tree is up. The house lights are twinkling outside (can we say wow!) and the other decorating has been done. I took a moment today to think about the Christmas cards. My friend Tara, has a cute design and has made me think I should chuck the purchased cards and do something as creative!

So I got out the camera, spilled some M&Ms and came up with some cute photos.Christmas m&ms

Christmas m&ms

Then amazingly, I channeled my husband the therapist and got a M&Ms Christmas Rorschach vibe. What do the m&ms say to you?

Candy Cane

Merry Christmas all! Enjoy this wonderful season! Let the falalalalaing begin.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Corn Chowder

Corn ChowderThis is what I decided to make for the soup yesterday. Somehow the butternut squash soup had lost its appeal. I think because we had pumpkin pies, so I wanted to move to a different flavor profile, and thought corn chowder just might fit the bill.

Years ago, I was a great Make a Mix advocate. I knew I had one of the corn chowder recipes of theirs, but I didn't want to mak a mix! So I turned to my friends on the internet.

Mimi's Restaurant has probably one of the best commercially offered corn chowders out there. I decided to go see if they had a recipe. Amazing, but true they did! They not only have the corn chowder but others as well.

Here's the recipe:
Corn Chowder
(Yields 2 1/2 quarts)

4 tablespoons butter or margarine 3 cups frozen corn, thawed
6 tablespoons onion, chopped 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup celery, large dice 2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups hot water 1 pinch white pepper
2 cups raw potato, peeled and cut in 1/2" cubes 3 tablespoons flour
1 quart Half & Half

On medium heat, melt butter, then simmer onion and celery for 5 minutes until soft, but not brown.

Add water, potatoes, corn and seasonings. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are barely tender.

Whisk the flour into 1 cup of the Half & Half, and stir into the soup. Add the remaining 3 cups of Half & Half. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the soup has thickened to a creamy consistency.

Correct the seasoning with additional salt and pepper if needed. In order to correct the consistency or the soup you may add a little milk to make it thinner. To make the soup thicker, simmer another 5-10 minutes.

I didn't have room in the refrigerator to store the soup overnight, so I tried something different. Once I had added the half and half and stirred it together, rather than thickening it in the pot on the stove, I poured it into my crock pot. Put it on low and let it simmer all night. In the morning it was thick and ready to eat!

My mother-in-law had to have the recipe. Since she wanted it, I figured you'd like it too!

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

God is God

That title is adapted from a line in Cecil B DeMille's The Ten Commandments. Yul Brenner as, Ramses II, says to Nefretiri (Anne Baxter) "His God is God" when explaining why Moses is not dead. Why this reference on a food blog?

Well today is Thanksgiving Day here in America. A day set aside for family and friends and a usually huge feast with Turkey as the centerpiece. There are other machinations of the feast by all kinds of people, even some who have a taco feast instead of Turkey. The whole idea of the day is to sit down with people you care for, break bread, and show a large amount of gratitude for the blessings in your life.

Food. It is a basic necessity to life. It is different wherever you go. The wonder of it all, is that it is there. Food springs forth on its own, without a lot of help of man. If it is nurtured and tended to it yields a great bounty. Still, it is there. No need to manipulate the seed too much to produce great and flavorful things. God designed it that way so man would not only survive, but thrive.

The Monsantos of the world need to be stifled. Manipulating the food supply to manipulate the poor is an evil too difficult to describe for me. We must allow real farmers to grow real food. Instead of limiting the seed to one season and terminating God's plan. Farmers are good people. World wide farmers have been sold a bill of goods by large corporations only to find they have no crop with the seeds they saved from the prior years harvest. It is the circle of the harvest, to save seeds to use the next year. It is the basis for our gratitude. That God, nature or however you wish to label it, continues to work to provide for the planet.

Let's go back to that good harvest. Happy Thanksgiving all.

S'mee asked for a link to represent the evil that is being done by corporations like Monsanto. Here's one: Monsanto in India. It makes you wonder why there were terrorist attacks there against Americans recently. Also, this is a huge problem, not just being done by Monsanto, include Cargill, ADM and others. Also note, the first thing that was done when we invaded Iraq was to raid their seed inventories and have Monsanto take over farming and farmers.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

If I only had one cookbook the Joy of Cooking would be it!

Joy of CookingYes. If I had to limit myself to only one cookbook Joy of Cooking would have to be the one I would choose. Meredith, over at Simon and Schuster, offered to send me a new copy of the 75th anniversary edition, Joy of Cooking and I jumped at the chance.

And wow. I'm glad I did. Not only have they retested 4000 of the most beloved recipes in the book, but they've added 500 additional recipes. Back is butter! Pork fat and those wonderful ingredients cooks know make food taste better! This cookbook will teach you more than your grandmother! Because if your grandmother is like ours, she's forgotten techniques, or has the recipes in her head, and that doesn't help you especially if you live 500 miles away!

Do yourself a favor and add this one to your Christmas wishlist!

Some of the things I love about this book.

1. The section called Know your Ingredients. You can flip through the pages and learn about all kinds of neat ingredients. The chocolate section alone is so neat. It explains the difference between unsweetened, bittersweet, milk and white chocolates. Also the difference between a couverture and frosting.

2. Cooking methods and techniques. The section on high altitude cooking really helps one understand the problems altitude can create!

3. It has a great equivalents and substitutions section.

4. 4500 recipes! If you an't find it in here do you really need it?

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving, Turkey, Dressing/Stuffing, Gravy, potatoes

I find it comforting that the day we have set as a day of gratitude is during the fall. Of course, it was the bounteous harvest that started it all I presume. This year we may all have a lot more to be thankful for than usual. Having a roof still over our heads, not being behind on credit card bills and the fact that most people in the country (California excepted) are paying less than $2 a gallon for gas are at the top of the list this year for most people.

I have spanned the web to see what special stuff people are cooking up this year. There will not be one link to anyone making savory cupcakes. No! Savory cupcakes are muffins folks! Cupcakes = sweetness and light. So on to the round-up of linkage:

First up? Apetizers!
Pinch My Salt has a delicious sounding Smoked Tuna Dip that will start your festivities on the right path. If, however, you are not a fish fan...
Erika at Tummy Treasure has a Walnut Gorgonzola spread that I'm now craving. Yep, this one is going on my table!

This year I have also decided that we need a soup. It hasn't been cool enough here to warrant a soup but the TopChef guys have me thinking. Small shot glasses filled with something smooth, creamy and tasty just might round out the appetizers perfectly. Mmmm. This Butternut Squash soup at Melting Your Mouth is just the right one.

The usual suspects: Turkey, Dressing, Gravy and potatoes.

My sister Cathi, makes the best mashed potatoes in the world. However, she hasn't posted her recipe online. The closest I could come was over at Elise's. Elsie suggests using a spoon to beat the potatoes after they're mashed. I know sis gets out her small electric mixers and gives it a minor twirl. Not too much!

Anne has the best roasted Turkey recipe ever! Who would have thought a traditional turkey recipe would come from Stockholm? Hey why not? It's delicious and moist, and adapted from a recipe by Nigella Lawson.

Stuffing is a hot topic. A debate worthy of congress, Cornbread or Sage? Oysters or dried fruit! The great debate indeed. I've decided to give my gal Grommie a nod this year. She has just learned she has celiac and is trying to make the necessary changes in her diet to eat gluten free. So this one's for you! Gluten Free stuffing from Shauna the gluten free girl.

Gravy. World over gravy seems harder to make than cold fusion. I have always found it easy, now jinxing myself for sure! A bit of pan dripping, a smattering of seasoned flour, wonderful broth, and voila! Gravy. For those of you needing further knowledge and skillz click here. The Rouxbe school has a great Thanksgiving meal planner. Step 14 gets you to the gravy segment. Watch the video and you'll have it down!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finally, Pear Butter

Pear Butter half pints
Pear butter, vanilla, nutmeg, cardamom, pears

Pear butter is as easy as Apple Butter, and when you make it like I did, it's even easier! You'll need a crock pot.

I looked for a recipe for Pear Butter after being at my favorite bread maker Con Pane. You see, Catherine has the most delicious Pear Butter that is served with fresh sliced bread as a snack. I had to try it and was smitten immediately. I bought three one ounce containers and headed home. Once they were gone, my love for Pear Butter had not been satisfied, and Con Pane is 80 miles away. What to do?

Look for a recipe, and make it myself. I chose to use a recipe I found at Coconut and Lime. It is simple and easy to do.

9 red or green Bartlett pears, sliced
1 cup pear cider
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon mace

I used nutmeg instead of mace. I did not use ginger. I added a vanilla bean to mine. And I used pumpkin pie spice from Penzeys instead of allspice.

So place all your ingredients in the crockpot with the heat setting on low:
Pear butter, pears sliced and ready to cook

After twelve hours, take the lid off. Cook for another twelve hours. The pears should be almost dry at this point, as the liquid has cooked down and you have the pears well cooked and ready to puree.
Pear butter ready to puree

Into the Cuisinart/ food processor of choice. Oh! Remember to remove the vanilla bean pod, as you don't want it pureed with everything else. Pulse the processor until the pears resemble a butter.

Pear butter, more puree needed Here you can see that it isn't quite smooth enough so go ahead and pulse a bit more.

Pear butter, pureed and ready to jar
Now we're talking. However, I must admit there was still quite a bit of juice and I did put mine through a sieve to remove most of it before putting it in the jars. Next time I make this recipe, I'm going to omit the Pear cider and see if it makes a marked difference. It's ready to put into jars. I did sterilize my jars, but did not heat seal the butter. I am going to keep it in the fridge until it's eaten up. Half pint jars don't last long around here!

Pear butter

The yield for 9 pears was 8 half pints. Not a bad yield at all. This was so simple, I think I am going to make these as gifts for neighbors during the holidays!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Rouxbe School

Months ago, possibly even a year ago I discovered Rouxbe. What is Rouxbe? An online cooking school. Not just any school and really good chef training school. Who should attend? Well, who doesn't want to hone their cooking skills? Why should I sign up? First off, everyone can learn or re-learn a long forgotten technique. In today's economic environment, it is an advantage to know how to take simple ingredients and make them fabulous! Where is the school? It's at your house! Rouxbe isn't some lame correspondence course that will take your money and you get nothing in return type of school though. They have video instruction, tests, reviews, drill downs and recipe submissions. They also have a great forum where you can get specific questions answered. How? Any time of the day or night at your convenience. Yes, this is your school.

I signed up before the school launched. It is the best money I thinkI've ever spent on the internet. Rouxbe is partnered with the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. No you are not going to get an online degree from Northwest. You are going to get the experience of their chefs and instruction through video and written formats.

The great news is that you can take it for a test drive and see if it really for you. Try it out for 30 days, if it works for you sign up. If not, you have not lost a thing, and gained a bit of free instruction. Me? I signed up for the lifetime membership and will enjoy this for a long, long time.

The knife skills suite is worth the price of admission!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Pear Butter

Over the weekend I made the best hostess gift ever. It was easy, and is so good, everyone will want to make it. But because the internet is giving all of us a trial during our fires, I can't post the recipe with pictures until later. Check back later today to see if things have changed. Hopefully it will be up before the day is out.

Type rest of the post here

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fern Oleta

I first met Fern when I was 17 years old. I had become smitten with her tall, lanky son. We had been dating just a short while when I was invited to dinner. I say dinner because that's what they called it. To me it was a feast. The table was filled with fresh vegetables, a big pot of chicken and dumplings, the requisite fresh onion, bread and butter, fresh sweet tea, and a pitcher of grape kool-aid.

Fern's husband was a farmer. He tilled the ground, and brought in fresh vegetables on a daily basis. Fern also worked full-time. She would come home at lunch every day and cook up a meal for munch and then return to work. She would then come home and fix an evening meal. Wow.

This was not something I had ever witnessed take place anywhere but my grandmother's house. It was part of Fern's life. Taking care of her family, working, and working hard. She did not work in a building, with air conditioning and desks, or a retail store (until later in her life), no Fern worked as a farm hand. She was born in Oklahoma, married at 14 and a half (mostly to escape raising her younger siblings) and moved to California with her husband in the mid-forties and began a life together that kept them working hard for nearly 50 years.

Fern began working in a potato shed. She cut potatoes for a living. Every day she stood for 9 hours in the same spot, cutting potatoes into pieces getting them ready to plant. After a few seasons of cutting potatoes, she added picking onions to the mix. While she was pregnant with her first son, she picked onions while 8 months pregnant. Then, when he was old enough he joined her in the fields harvests crops with his mom. Yes, very grapes of wrath here.

She moved on to the rose company where she spent days in the rose gardens budding roses. It amazed me that she spent so much time in the hot sun and still would go in at noon, cook, clean a bit and then return to the labor of the day only to come in at night and begin again. Her sons did not want for a thing. Between her and her husband they worked hard to provide for their family and put a roof over their heads.

That day I was invited to dinner, I was amazed at the meal presented. It was not for show, or to impress me, as I was only one girl her sons had brought home. I was welcomed and fed. The meal was delicious. I had never had anything so tasty in my life. Yes, I'd had frozen chicken and dumplings, gross representations of biscuits over cooked chicken, but never had anything I'd ever eaten before tasted so good. I was in heaven.

For years Fern tried to show me how to make a good pot of chicken and dumplings. You see I married her son. He liked them and so did I. Yet neither of us could replicate them! My daughters all ate them and loved them. Gramma Fern's dunklings were the best in the world! Finally someone had tried and was able to make them just like gramma's. The youngest one has finally mastered them and when she was here last weekend she a made a pot fo rall of us to enjoy.


2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

Take one whole chicken and cover it with water to boil on low until fully cooked. I cooked mine for about 1 1/2 hours so it was really tender and made a good broth. Take the chicken out of the broth to cool. While cooling the chicken, combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl ad mix well. Next add the milk. Mix gently together. Allow the dough to rest for about 5 minutes to allow the gluten to start working. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick and cut into strips. Bring the broth to a boil. Drop strips into the boiling broth. They will swell up at first and then start to shrink as they dissolve and make the yummy gravy. Right after you drop the dumplings into the broth bone the chicken shredding it into bite size pieces. Drop into the pot. Let it cook for about 20 minutes. Serve.
Add the milk
Lightly mix with your hand

Cutting into strips
cooked dumplings
Ready to eat

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall is here - well mostly - Pumpkin time

Today it was in the 90s again. ugh.

Fall is here
We went to the pumpkin farm a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time being at one for the 4 years old. I love the wagon filled with the pumpkins and gourds! It says fall, harvest, work done well. We purchased a few pumpkins, my favorite being the small "sugar" pumpkins. There's one right in the center front of the wagon. Smooth skinned and small.

They'll go directly in the oven after a good scrub to the outer hull. Then insert a knife at the top and begin to split the pumpkin in two, cut through the skin on both sides of the pumpkin. Once it's split, cut off the stem and core the pumpkin. If you wish, you can quarter the pumpkin to roast it. I usually just set them on a cookie sheet, with a bit of water in the pan - about a cup or so - and roast it in the oven at 375F for about and hour or until the skin is tender.

Cool and scrape out the flesh into a food processor bowl. Pulse to puree the pumpkin. They are lighter in color than canned pumpkins and have a bit more "juice" too. I allow my fresh pumpkin puree to drain a bit to firm it up a bit.

It can now be used as you would the canned stuff or if you wish you can combine it with canned puree for a more traditional color. The puree will be good for about 3 days in your refrigerator, or you can freeze it at this point to use later. It will be good for six months.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Weddings, gumpaste roses

Update: Pics of delivered cake at the end of the article!
When I managed the bakery, we had gumpaste roses readily available to use. As I looked at the wedding cake I needed to do for tomorrow, I realized I didn't have any gumpaste roses. What to do?
gumpaste roses

One choice would be to purchase some. I checked with a couple of shops 45 minutes away in either direction, and they were expensive, or too yellowish white. I checked online with the sources we used at the bakery and they had some really great prices. If, I wanted to buy 50 or more. That wouldn't be prudent.

So my other choice was to make them myself. I use fondant all the time, but I have never used gumpaste. So where does one go to learn quickly how to use the stuff, what it is made of, how to make it yourself and all other kinds of info? Where else? YouTube!

I found a great tutorial made by Edna. Edna is a cake designer from Florida. She shoes you how to quickly and easily make a rose in six, yes, six videos on you tube. She makes it look very simple so I thought I'd give it a try. This is my result.

Petals: There is waaay too much powdered sugar on the board, but it was the end of a long day and the last flower was done in a rush.

Bud centers. When I made the centers, I had watched an inferior you tube video that showed how to make them. The I found Edna. I wish I had found her first!
gumpaste rose bases

This is the result of my first effort in making gumpaste roses. I think they turned out well enough to use on the cake, and they will improve in quality as I practice more often.
First time making gumpaste roses

I can see all kinds of things that should be done better, yet I still see enough quality that they would be acceptable for the wedding cake tomorrow. Thank goodness for Edna!

Update: Delivered cake:
wedding cake

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Monday, October 20, 2008

I love a wedding!

Got a call Saturday evening. A mom in desperate need of a cake. S'mee passed my name along as a possible person who could do a cake on short notice. The mom had looked a some of my wedding cakes online and decided on one prior to calling.
Ivory Wedding

Being that she had done all of the leg work, how could I turn her down? It will be a chocolate cake, buttercream frosting and a cookies and cream filling. Mmmmm. Good choice. S'mee did the bouquet, and I am very glad she recommended me. So we will be delivering a cake to Apple Valley and then heading to Arizona! Yayayay!

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Friday, October 17, 2008


For years, I have been subjected to all the bird jokes. Yes, I've heard just about all of them. I chose to embrace Rocking Robin and her boppin all around as my favorite. Well, I have a new favorite! Perch is a lovely little blog I've been keeping to myself for some time now. Justine, the author, has the best taste around. I have drooled at her posts and snagged a few pictures to put in my "house" file for when we build our home. Justine is also a good friend of my daughter's I've come to find out recently.

Tomorrow Perch is going to spotlight Over the River and Through the Woods.... We are very excited to have Justine review us and have a giveaway. Yes, a giveaway! All you need to do is go to her site and make a comment on her post spotlighting our new venture! We're giving away a few goodies to give your parties the perfect pizazz!

Go, quick! You'll have a week to sign up, but you have to do it!

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Okay so I told you about the cake mixes...

And you all had such nice things to say, I decided to go with Etsy. Since I have a daughter and her husband and family here, I decided it was time to start working and make my company the real deal. I've looked at professional kitchens, and rented some space. I've begun slowly, still working on the packaging of the cake mixes, the little box is so cute, but very expensive! But let me formally introduce to you Over the River and Through the Woods...

I asked s'mee to help me with art work and copy editing and she obliged. And, by the way, she's a really talented artist/writer 0 if you need design work done - email her! Thank goodness for sisters! And daughters! Without them I would be a lot farther away from accomplishing these goals. Right now, because of the packaging issues, I am only offering fondant decorations on Etsy, but they're really cute and the mixes won't be too far away!

Thank you for all your support. Please allow me to ask that if you are thinking of a party you need decorations or cake things for, I'd love to earn your business! I can design something just for you or you can choose from the line I already have in place.

I'm still doing glass work, but glass doesn't help pay the mortgage. Food is my vocation and I need to devote more time to it.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

George Bush killed my Mother's

Mother's logoIt is a sad day in cookie land. The maker of Archway and Mother's cookies has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the wake of rising food and fuel costs and plans to end its U.S. operations.

I am in mourning. Remember back when gas prices were soaring out of control and some politician made reference to "Gas prices are how much???!!??". Yeah, I blame George Bush and his circle of oilmen for this one.

Mother's Cookies was my cookie company of choice if I wasn't baking. They were always good. Mr. Wheatley knew a good thing when he tasted that first vanilla cookie back in 1914. He grew the company into a fine cookie company through the years. Now, oil has killed them. It's a sad commentary. But truly, when a company has assets of $50 million and debts of $500 million, something, somewhere is going to give. Fuel costs contributed to the rise in flour and sugar costs, then fuel on its own did a great job too.

So what to do? Go buy all the packages you can and put them in the freezer!
Animal Cookies

You're going to miss these!
Animal Cookies

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Omnivore's 100 Challege

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette has published a list called the Ominivore's 100. The list was compiled by Andrew Wheeler, a British food writer. He believes that if you call yourself an omnivore you should try all of the items at least once in your life. I've eaten quite a few of them already...

I've bolded my consumption. There are a few in purple that I will probably never try. There's just something about a bug that just doesn't appeal to me. So how about you? Where do you draw the line? And what have you sampled and loved?

The Very Good Taste Ominvore's 100

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush (I haven't eaten this but isn't second day leftovers of eggplant parmesan quite like it?)

11. Calamari bleh
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich about a thousand of them!
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes by mistake
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream a favorite!

21. Heirloom tomatoes and grew them myself.
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans a staple
25. Brawn, or head cheese only once.
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper yep, died once in Santa Monica due to them
27. Dulce de leche it is SoCal here.
28. Oysters on the half shell! Rockefellered, fried, you name it.
29. Baklava bleh.
30. Bagna cauda

31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl I like it better without the bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut a favorite of my real father's
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo my favorite soup

40. Oxtail I had a colored childhood
41. Curried goat, not that colored evidently
42. Whole insects unless you count a couple of flies as a kid - not by choice - riding a bike
43. Phaal
44. Goat's milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $60/$120 or more I was 17, being polite I had no idea what was in the glass
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut I like my home donut maker here in town

50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone very little flavor, fresh from the ocean.
54. Paneer
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV not after the incident in 4th grade, I'll write about it in my book someday
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S'mores
62. Sweetbreads back to the childhood
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs' legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake yes, yes, no and yes
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini

81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant, I live in the boonies no way this will ever happen
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash see post below!
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate

91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta I love it
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

I find it interesting that most of my "I'm not trying that ever" stuff is liquid. And alcohol. bleh. Having alcoholic family members are just too good an example of why not to get started imbibing.

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German Chocolate Birthday cake - The boneyard version

Today is my one true love's birthday. I say one true love because we fell in love my senior year of high school and have been together ever since. We're totally inseparable. He has been being really good and in the past three months he's dropped almost 50 pounds! Me, well, that's another story, but I have a good reason. (I'll tell you about it sometime.) So in my best supportive wife role I made him a cake. It's his fault though. Last night he asked for a slice of German Chocolate Cake. Well, today I made it for him. Here's a pic of the boneyard - after the carnage.
German Chocolate Cake

This morning I used my great sidebar link for FoodBlog Search to find a great recipe for Coconut Pecan Frosting. At the top was one of my favorite bloggers Nicole, of Baking Bites. I used her recipe adding a bit of extra coconut as my husband loves the stuff (sorry Thor!) and it turned out great! I frosted a three layer six inch round cake and the picture above is the boneyard. I didn't take a picture of the cake prior to cutting it so you're left to guess what it looked like. The granddaughter insisted on sprinkling just abit more coconut on it as we finished putting it together. She loved helping make poppa's cake.

This was the birthday boy's plate when he was done:
German Chocolate Cake

Now he's in a sugar coma, after not having any for about three months. I am so proud of him. He's doing great! Happy Birthday Babe! I'll be seeing less and less of you with your will power and stamina.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Grandma's Goulash

"Pepper will put a man on his horse, and a woman in her grave!" Those were the words of my maternal grandmother, Ethel. We would go to stay with her for two weeks each summer, my brother and me. Then my sisters would join her and she'd repeat the previous two weeks with them. She cooked every meal pretty much from scratch, never used any spices, unless cooking a turkey, then sage was the usual choice. The statement above is one we heard at breakfast when asking for pepper on our eggs like grandpa's.

Ethel was the quintessential fine lady. Her avocation was homekeeping. She did it with great honor and very few complaints. Cooking became her signature, along with entertaining friends. She was a modern woman in her time, the envy of friends for certain. I can only imagine groups of friends gathered at her home every plate impeccably prepared, women fawning over her food and men sharing a cigar and a highball with grandad, Sid.

For a month each year, their home became grandkid central and all things stopped for a time. She then entertained us with food, cleaning and strict behavior. When I look back at those weeks spent at grandma's house I have many great memories. The best being Goulash.

ready to eat Goulash

Goulash became a centerpiece of entertaining the grandkids. It is quick, simple and likable by all. How can you go wrong? I cooked up a batch the other night. While I was cooking my daughter at my side I shared my love for goulash, the changes made in our home and how she didn't remember eating it as a child. Then the phone rang, it was daughter number three. She asked if I was preparing dinner, affirmative I answered, "What are you cooking?" I answered Goulash. He reply came, "It is one of my favorite meals. I can't believe sis doesn't remember it."

Grandma's Goulash for all.

Begin with a pound of good ground beef, 7% lean or better.
2 - 10 oz cans of Del Monte Stewed tomatoes (original recipe)
4 to 5 peeled carrots, sliced 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch thick
4 to 5 stalks of celery, sliced the same as the carrots.

While you are browning your meat, sliced your vegetables. I add a bit of garlic granules to the meat as it cooks. Drain meat once it is cooked. Add the carrots, celery and tomatoes all at once, placing the lid on the skillet and allow it to cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Once your vegetables are tender you're ready to eat.

Goulash, cooked

I serve it with a salad, rolls and that's it. Family variation, if you don't have rolls, my husband asks that I add some whole wheat flat noodles to the mix to give it more of a hearty dinner. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thank you for your support!

Thank you all for your support in the great cause! The auction has been kept open and will stay open until all the cookies are sold. So if you thought you missed everything, don't despair, you can still go to Landra's and snag your self some cookies for a good cause!

Thanks again, so much!

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Monday, September 22, 2008

The Great NieNie Cookie Sale - Spritz Cookies for all!

The day has arrived! Today is the day of The Great NieNie Cookie sale! Beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m. I am offering my very best cookies to the five highest bidders of my Spritz Cookies! Please read on to see just how you can help the NieNie Recovery fund! You'll be choosing from items 44(sold!), 45 (sold!), 46(sold!), 47, or 48!

What you need to do in order to have me send you some of these fabulous cookies. First off the bids, as stated by Landra, start at $20 a dozen. You can claim an offering by making a comment. Then you make a donation and it's yours. Keep in mind my dozens are 24 count, yes actually two dozen cookies! WooHoo!
The Great NieNie Cookie sale is here! Place your bids at Landra's blog, not mine please! She will compile all the bids and then get the list of recipients to us. The auction ends at 9 p.m. tonight! If a cookie you want has been chosen you can make a higher bid to claim it!
They are crispy yet chewy buttery morsels of sweetness. You will love them! So make a bid. I'm offering 5 opportunities to participate. The five highest bids (remember this is a fundraiser!) will get the cookies. Oh and by the way, they'll be more appropriately fall inspired colors, not Christmas-y like in the picture. Thank you all in advance for being a part of the cookie sale!

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Spritz Cookies

I knew there was a way I could help! When good women hear of trouble in a family, or a new family has moved into the area, or someone is having a celebration or a down day or possibly any other reason to bake, we do just that. We may not know the people, or how to lend a hand, or maybe even feel a bit helpless. So we do what any good baker does, bake up a batch of our favorite cookies and cover them with saran wrap and toodle on over with a plate full of love. You've read about the Nielsen family and wanted to help. You can help me help the Nielsen family! If you are not familiar with their story, click on the "about Nie" section of the page.

Landra Lynn has had her thinking cap on for a couple of weeks. Landra has decided to host a fundraiser - The Great NieNie Cookie Sale. She needs the help of a few good bakers and a few good cookie monsters. I fit in both categories, but this time I have chosen to be a part of the baking team!

My spritz cookies are the best cookies ever. You can tell from the picture how those sweet buttery quasi soft cookies draw you in just begging to be eaten. I am going to be baking my heart out, getting them ready for anyone who wants them.

What you need to do. Bid - be my cookie monster! Landra will list all of the cookies (and their bakers) on her site on Monday September 22nd! Yes, that's next Monday! You choose a cookie and bid. Bids begin at $20, yes this is a fundraiser. You are bidding on a dozen cookies.
For those of you who choose to bid on my cookies know that my dozen is a Robyn's dozen! You'll actually receive 2 dozen of my buttery, crispy-soft, sweet morsels of delight! Yes, a bid for one dozen gets you two!

Please mark you calender and bid with me to help this family! If you haven't read yet this morning. Christian is awake and has gone to see Stephanie in her room! He talked with her (even though she was still not awake) and prayed with her. What wonderful news!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Black Licorice and Orange Sherbet

Not your likely combination, unless you're talking about Grandpa memories. The peanut butter and butter post evoked some memories for Carrie, her memories sparked some of my own. She is going to get back to me on a few recipes she loves but until then...

her best memory of her grandad was black licorice. In her comments she said "
As for my Grandpa, who has been gone for 7 years (and must thrilled to have Grandma with him now): black licorice. My kids think its disgusting. I love it." I'm the same way with Orange sherbet ice cream. I cannot drive by a Thrifty's Drug store (a rare site indeed) or see a scoop of sherbet without thinking of grandpa.

We would visit my grandparents each summer, for two weeks. Grandpa had little to do with the girls, he took my brother under his wing and spent the majority of time with him each day. Even still, not an afternoon went by that we didn't walk down to the local drug store and get a 5 cent cone of orange sherbet. No other flavor would do. We'd walk down Horne street in Oceanside a couple of blocks, buy an ice cream and walk back home. We'd point out neat stuff like magnolia seed pods and bird feathers and talk with grandpa. I'll have to tell you about the bird courts someday.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Peanut Butter and Butter?

As a child, lunch was always a bit of a surprise. Mom was usually sleeping or not at home so we had to forage a lunch without her. The surprise was - surprise! there's food to eat - or surprise! get creative. Most of the time being the latter, we learned to eat almost anything between two slices of bread. My favorite was mustard. Yes, that was the sandwich. My brother's was peanut butter and butter.

My niece, Erin, recently wrote to me and said "I have to let you know, I cannot eat a peanut butter and butter sandwich without thinking of my Dad. I have no idea if the stories are even true but, for some reason I think someone once told me he used to make them for us as kids. So whenever I feel lonely or heartsick, or even just plain bored. I pull myself out of whatever chair I am in and go into the kitchen to make myself a peanut butter and butter sandwich on plain old cheap white bread.

Yes, Erin it's true. Erin's dad was my brother. Some of my readers may already know that he died when he was 32. His oldest son died also in the accident. They left behind his wife and four younger children. Yes, it's sad, but that's not what this is about. Erin was next to the youngest. She has very little true remembrance of her father. She was just a tiny little one when he died and has had to rely on many relatives to tell her the stories of her father and older brother.

When I asked her about food memories, this was the first to spring to mind. A simple, but well made, peanut butter and butter sandwich with cheap white bread. Mike came to love them. I did not. I tolerated them as they would take away the hungry feelings in an empty tummy. My brother, the brave conquering hero that he was, embraced the challenge and made them a part of the person he was. He even, to my dismay, fed them to his children. And they gobbled them up as if everyone who didn't like them was crazy. Creamy peanut butter spread thick on a slice of bread, the other slice a smear of butter, - actually margarine - butter was reserved for us a grandma's house not home, when put together made lunch for a king.

Simple food. Great memories. A father long gone. Memories to this day that make a heart full and comforted in the quiet hours of an afternoon.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Let's begin again

When I started this blog waaay back in 2005 I had been thinking of blogging for almost two years, I had become inspired by wonderful bloggers and I thought I could add a voice to the crowd. I'm really a sentimentalist and the idea I wanted to bring forth was to blog about people and about food and life in general. It was muddled. So I began the regular blog where I blogged about other stuff and left the food to its own.

However, what I really wanted to talk about was the people. And food. So I am beginning again. Right here. No bookmarks to change. Nor blogrolls to update. Just a new me, telling stories of people and the food they prepare. The food that make memories stick in the corners of your mind, hearts and possibly souls.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Let's ban the FDA

This story is why. They are not a good source for information of food safety. They long ago gave in to the pressures of big business and their fat wallets.

Let's hear it for big government!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Queen Elizabeth can now step down.

I'm confident Charles is ready. This story is my only indication. I think I may have mis-judged Charles all along. My apologies.

Anyone who considers GMO crops are bad is a luddite. Nice. Natural, pure, organic, the way plants should be grown is wrong, so says the Labor Party. If you disagree, the name calling begins. Yes, that's how the Labor Party works when talking about farming. Well, they're wrong. Factory farming is ruining this world, and the least of its citizens will suffer the most. Go read the article. It's worth your time.

Best line of the article? "He (Prince Charles) added that "clever" genetic engineers had put the world on course for the "biggest disaster environmentally of all time."

It's nice to know one political leader is informed and has the cahonies to say what needs to be said.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Well, this is a great welcome home! When I left our humble abode, there were ants in my craft/computer room. I sprayed a bit of deterrent and went on my way thinking they just found themselves in through a small hole the satellite guy put in the wall. I'll caulk it when I get back, I thought to myself.

Well, not so. They proceeded to join my husband in the bathroom one morning, he again sprayed and thought they were gone. Ugh. Now they have vehemently taken residence in the kitchen and no amount of anything to deter them will suffice.

I need your best "get rid of ants" help! My mother in law said Comet would get rid of them. Well, deter, not get rid of. Any other remedies out there that you can help me with to rid my home of these unwanted guests?

If your idea works, I'll send you one of my glass plates or a cake mix, you get to choose! Go tell your friends - the chronicler has ants!

Update:Nothing has definitively worked. The only thing that seems to have abated them was the coolness of the day. We had a couple of days last week when it got down right cool (only in the 80s. No ants. So until this hot hot hot is over, I guess we'll be consigned to sharing space.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nibble on they tiny feet!

It is mid morning. I am tired, but not as tired as mom and dad. We have a new little girl! She is healthy and seemingly happy with life outside the womb so far! More later!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Baby Alert

I will be away from my computer for a few days. We are welcoming our newest graddaughter tomorrow morning by emergency c section. Not what we expected at all, other complications are making this a bit of a problem, therefore I may be sporadic at blogging over the next few days.

I'll see ya in a few...

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dreams do come true, with a little hard work!

After many years of hoping, working, wishing and experimenting, I can finally say I have fulfilled a dream. For a couple of years I have been making cake mixes on a small scale and selling them to a couple of specialty food stores. It has been a small scale operation and hoped to launch it on a larger scale some day. Well, I answered an ad on Craiglist and maybe, just maybe that dream will become a reality.

I have spoken with a lady who has her own pasta company. She has been making and selling pasta on a small scale also. She is dreaming big now though! She works in conjunction with a farmer's market nearby, and has had her thinking cap on lately. She has signed a lease, is in the build out stage of her own specialty foods store! One that will feature local only foods. She is keeping her radius to a 100 mile radius to support the local Slow Food group and is looking for vendors to join her. This gave me an impetus to work harder and actually launch my cake and baking mixes on a larger scale!

I asked my sister, and she answered yes, to help design new packaging with me. We developed a great story and drew from our childhood. I am so looking forward to working with Jordan, her store and many other specialty foods stores in the future.

Here's a peek at the new line:

and the new logo for Over the River and Through the Woods... baking company:

Each mix is made with the commitment to the use of organic, if possible, and definitely non-GMO products (non genetically altered) for these mixes. Our logo sprang forth when my sis and I discussed being at gramma's house. She always had her Red Riding Hood cookie jar filled with wonderful treats. Watch for me on Etsy too!

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Friday, July 18, 2008

More summer reading!

Okay. Hands down the best food photography ever! The great people over at DK Publishing sent me Grill It! Wowzers! Every recipe is fabulous.

I have promised this book to the youngest one, and she is going to love it! I am trying to decide which recipe I loved best. It's between the Oysters on the Half Shell, with pancetta and bbq sauce no less! Or the Super Hot Jerk Pork Shoulder. I think the shoulder may win here because I usually do jerk with chicken. Can you say succulent pork shoulder with those wonderful overtones of jerk seasoning! Not to be missed!

The authors, Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby have not missed a country or food stuff to represent. They have gone far over the top in search of every known item you can grill. Not only that, though. Their recipes are fantastic. Even desserts are better. An example is the Upside Down Banana Cake. Sweet, but not too sweet, different and impressive. Your guests will think you are a genius for thinking this up.

Go get a copy for yourself, you won't regret it. The pictures alone, are worth the cost of the book. Gizzi Erskine (food stylist) has outdone herself!

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