Thursday, December 31, 2020

Salad Days: Radicchio Salad with Manchego and Pickled Onion Dressing


As of today, I am officially retired from Ford Motor Company after 31+ years with the company!  It's been a great run!   As a way to counteract my label as an old retiree, I am kicking off my "Salad Days" and am going to try to experiment with making as many salads as I can for a while.     First off is one I heard about first on Splendid Table.   It was a Radicchio salad with Manchego Vinaigrette from Toro Bravo.    Evidently, Toro Bravo was some kind of hipster Spanish restaurant in Portland which didn't survive the pandemic.    I gave it a shot, and came away with a couple modifications:

  • The recipe recommended soaking the radicchio in ice water to reduce it's bitterness.   I did it, and it didn't seemed to be too reduced.    I won't bother next time and besides, I like the bitterness
  • Also recommended was to soak onion and discard in the vinegar, I didn't find this all that necessary.   Next time, I will just make pickled onions in the dressing and add them to the salad
  • Typical for my taste, the recipe has way too much oil to vinegar ratio.    I suggest changing it to at least 50/50 for a better taste
  • Also, this salad needs a lot more salt than just a pinch.   Add more
  • I had some daikon radish sprouts and I thought they were a good addition
Mother's Kitchen Radicchio Salad with Manchego and Pickled Onion Dressing 

For the pickled onion dressing
1 red onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup good-quality sherry vinegar
2 heads radicchio, shredded
2 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

For the salad
2 heads radicchio, shredded
8 oz Manchego, finely grated
1 cup sprouts of your choice (I used daikon radish)

For the dressing:
Add all ingredients in a pint jar and shake.  Chill in fridge over night.

For the salad:
Mix cheese and radicchio in a big bowl, add pickled onions and dressing, toss to coat.   Top with some sprouts before serving.   But keep them separate and the salad itself will hold up for several days in the fridge because radicchio is very sturdy.   In fact, it's even better the next day!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020


Back in the 1980s, pasta was really big!  I can remember buying a pasta maker from my friend Maria at work who actually got two for Christmas one year  to try to make it myself.    My old friend  and brilliant restaurant reviewer (who I have lost track of in recent times) Laura McReynolds captured the pasta craze perfectly of the time in a restaurant review of a famous Ann Arbor restaurant Pastabilities by describing it "For a while there, pasta was more than a food, it was practically a religion.  Blame it on the y-word, for over half a decade, yuspcale boomers seized on the propagated trend after embarrassing trend.  Power Breakfasts.  Yellow Ties.  A pasta machine in every condo and a Beemer in every garage".  Like many of us yuppies, after trying to make my own pasta a couple times, I realized how time consuming it was and just opted to buy it.  And Pastabilities, a cute little spot in Kerrytown  was there for us!  The brainchild of noted Ann Arborite Marguerite Bertoni Oliver, it was a huge local favorite and even got nationwide attention when it was voted "Best Pasta in America" by CNN.   I don't actually remember ever going to the restaurant, but I did buy the pasta at Merchant of Vino, a wine store we used to have on the east side of A2.   

I was reading the Ann Arbor Observer the other day and saw a small ad regarding a Pastabilities cookbook that had been published, and so I had to check it out.  Sure enough,  Marquerite's daughter Susan Marguerite Oliver (a noted chef in her own right, she was a private and charter chef aboard sail and motor yachts for over 25 years, cruising the US East Coast, Bahamas, Caribbean and Europe. )  has published a cookbook of Pastabililities favorites, plus some of her own specialties.     I love Ann Arbor cookbooks and this is one I need for my collection.   Check it out here!

We are at the lakehouse this week, and I thought I'd try my hand at one of the recipes featured in the book, but I had to make some UP modifications.   First of all, the only place I could find broccoli rabe up here is at the Keweenaw Coop, and it was a little cost prohibitive (over $6/lb) so I opted for using broccoli instead.    I also decided to use some upper peninsula style cudighi Italian sausage I picked up at Econofoods.  Here's the original recipe....and below is how I adapted it to our tastes (we like things spicy!)

Lakehouse Bowtie Pasta with Cudighi and Broccoli

1 12 oz box bowtie pasta
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
1 lb. cudighi (or  your favorite Italian sausage) 
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 orange bell pepper, also sliced thinly
8 oz sliced portobello mushrooms
3 garlic cloves minced
1/2 t red pepper flakes 
5 oz container shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, chopped

Prepare pasta according to package directions, except at the last 2 minutes of boiling, add broccoli to blanch it.   Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.    While pasta is cooking, brown sausage in a dutch oven and then add vegetables and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.    Add garlic, red pepper flakes, parm and basil leaves and reserved pasta water.   Heat gently until cheese is melted into a sauce with the pasta water.    Serves 4 hungry people!

The pasta fad faded, and after a while, we all started eating low carb and I have to admit I don't eat as much pasta as I used to back in those days.   But I find myself wanting to make it more often in things besides a red sauce.      I can't wait to get my copy of the cookbook to try out some more of these great recipes.    Looking through the old clippings of restaurant reviews, the desserts were highlights too and I am looking forward to trying them as well.   

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Peanut Brittle

We are moving to our lakehouse in the upper peninsula soon, so I am trying as best I can to use up whatever I have in the pantry.   I had a bag of kettle roasted salted peanuts and a jar of corn syrup. so I decided to make peanut brittle as part of my holiday baking.  Even though I am an accomplished candy maker, I don't think I have ever made peanut brittle before!  Doing some research, the recipes were all over the board.   I knew I wanted to use my instant read thermometer (a must for candy making).  I don't like to try guessing with "soft ball stage", etc.  I also wanted a recipe that used a lot of peanuts and corn syrup.   I couldn't find a recipe that had everything I was looking for, so I experimented.    

Here is what I came up with:

Peanut Brittle 

 2 cups granulated sugar
 1 cup water
 ½ cup light corn syrup
 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
 3 cups salted kettle roasted peanuts
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon water
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 200 F

Line2  rimmed baking sheets with  parchment paper that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray; place in oven to keep warm

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, 20 to 25 minutes until temp reaches 240F.  Make a mixture of vanilla, baking soda and water in a small bowl, set aside.  Stir in butter and peanuts. and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until temp reaches 300F.  

Remove pan from heat. Stir in vanilla mixture, it will foam up.   Stir until mixture is no longer bubbling and caramel is smooth, 1 minute.   Remove sheets from oven.

Pour half of the mixture into each of the sheets and quickly spread with a lightly greased spatula.  The thinner the better!   Let cool until firm, about 15 minutes. Break into pieces. The brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Loch Alpine Hungarian Goulash

There is nothing even remotely Hungarian about this goulash, but it is the ultimate comfort food and perfect for a rainy Friday supper.   My dear friend and former neighbor Ann contributed this great recipe to our Loch Alpine Cookbook.   It was one of her Pennsylvanian mother's specialties.

It was a favorite of my kids and very flexible.    It can be made with any cuts of beef you might have or even venison.   Just cut up whatever is on sale or use stew meat.  Also, if you have an almost empty bottle of ketchup lingering in the fridge, use what remains and rinse out the bottle with some of the water you need to add and then you can throw it into the recycle bin! You can make it in a crock pot  or make it like I do, in the pressure cooker.   Over the years I modified it a bit to suit our tastes....a little less fat, a bit more cayenne. This is how I make it:

Ann's Hungarian Goulash
Serves 4 people

3 T. olive oil
2 lbs beef cubes
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. ketchup
2 T Worchestershire sauce
2 T brown sugar
2 t salt
1 t pepper
2 T sweet paprika
1 t dry mustard
1/2 t cayenne
1 c water

Brown meat and onions, then add remaining ingredients.   

Cook in a dutch oven for about 2 hours on the stove top, or until beef is tender


Cook in a crock pot on low for 8 hours

Cook in a pressure cooker on the lowest setting for 15 minutes.   

I'm not an instant pot person, but I am sure it will work in one.   I own 3 pressure cookers, my favorite for this recipe is a Kuhn Rikon Duromatic skillet sized cooker.   It gets dinner on the table fast.

Serve over hot egg noodles.   Enjoy!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

End of an era

We moved into our Loch Alpine house in 1992, right when we first got married. I still remember when we saw the house for the first time.   We got married on Oct 3, and when we got back from our honeymoon in Hawaii, we went house hunting.  It was Halloween, which is a great time to be in L.A.  We used to have this big bonfire in the sub and the kids all got cider and donuts from the Dexter Cider Mill.  You could feel the excitement!  (sadly, the bonfire was discontinued after the year that the bonfire got a bit out of hand and the Scio Twp. Fire Dept. was quickly invited to the Halloween party to put it out).   We knew we wanted to live somewhere near Ann Arbor, I was working in Dearborn and Andy in Jackson and so it was the halfway point of our commutes.    Plus, I knew I was going to be starting classes soon at the University of Michigan for my MBA, so it made sense to be near Ann Arbor for that reason.   

A fond farewell to the bilevel house we dubbed the "doublewide", due to it's complete lack of architectural style. Despite it's lack of design, it was a great house and it served us well. It was a fixer upper, except it never got completely fixed, but we tried. The guy that built the house in 1978 with his first wife was getting remarried and the place was decorated in what I liked to call "frat house chic", complete with a couch on bricks.   He didn't spend much time there as his fiance had a place in Burns Park, so he was "moving on up".   He was a psych prof at Eastern Michigan University and had one whole cork board wall in his kitchen devoted to sexy photos of his conquests, many of which looked to be his students. In the pre #metoo movement era, this was probably typical, butI can remember being disgusted by it. For whatever reason, he decided his Burns Park lady was "THE ONE",  thankfully.  He decided to move to her place and so we were able to get a great deal on this old house.  He wanted out!  He had replaced the ankle deep shag carpeting that needed a rake to maintain with the world's cheapest berber carpet that we didn't get around to replacing until we put the house on the market ourselves.  So, honoring the now longstanding tradition, we replaced it with the world's cheapest berber carpet in 2020.    When we bought the house, we walked through the night before the closing and the psych professor told us it had a "great kitchen for cooking" and he was right about that.    We did a ton of cooking in that house.    I still remember the kitchen had countertops of Formica that featured a picture of butcherblock, and the vinyl flooring was printed with a picture of bricks.   There was a lot of fake wood and fake bricks in 1970s home decor.   The place was decorated in avocado/harvest gold/orange and if it were still decorated that way, we'd call it "mid century modern" and it would be hip and cool.  My college friend Liisa dubbed it the "Very Brady House".  For the record, I always said "Don't play ball in the house...."

We moved out of our Dearborn rental and in to our starter house (which we never moved on out of shear laziness and fear of packing) on Christmas Eve 1992.   I can remember checking out at Meijer on Ann Arbor-Saline Road that day with 3 toilet seats in my cart.   The checkout attendant asked if I was giving them as gifts and I told her I was replacing the 3 vinyl covered padded toilet seats in our new house.  Why did anyone in the 1970s think the world needed padded toilet seats? 

Over the 28 years we lived there, we redid the kitchen a couple of times, but it always remained a "great kitchen for cooking".   I will miss it, but we will have a great place to cook in our lakehouse up north, too.     I will miss is the marks I drew in the kitchen closet to keep track of how talk the kids were (see above).   I will also miss our great wooded lot and the excellent bonfires we would have in the back yard, and all my gardening exploits there.   We had the best neighbors ever!  Loved raising kids here.  The neighborhood was always teeming with kids, there were woods and streams and lakes to play in.   Most of the play group parents of my era have moved on to other places and there are new parents that have moved in.    Their kids are having a blast playing all over the neighborhood just like mine did.     

We aren't leaving just yet; we found a rental house in Loch Alpine until we retire and move north.  But I will miss the old place.   It had a great kitchen for cooking!


Sunday, August 09, 2020

Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread


It's that time of year again, when I have way too much zucchini and basil.    I've never loved zucchini bread with warm autumnal spices like cinnamon and nutmeg mid summer.  Looking for something different to do with it, I came upon a recipe for lemon poppy seed zucchini bread that I knew I could make work with what I had in the fridge after a few tweaks. The original recipe used Greek yogurt but all I had was light sour cream, so I chose that instead.   Also, I opted for more lemon than the original recipe suggested.   Lastly, I garnished with my beautiful basil my daughter Jane and I grew this year.    To make this a true covid remembrance, I grated this zucchini during a webex meeting while I was waiting for my turn to present.....#covidblessings.    One of the joys of working from home!!!! 

Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread

for the loaves
2 sticks butter room temperature
3/4 cup low fat sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
2 cups sugar
juice and zest from one lemon, (save one tablespoon and half the zest for the glaze
3 eggs3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups zucchini, grated (about one large zucchini)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp poppy seeds

for the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice reserved from above
extra lemon zest and basil leaves, for garnish if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray two 8 1/2 inch x 4 inch bread pans with baking spray (the kind that has the flour in it) and set aside.  Beat the butter, sour cream, sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl until smooth and combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and half the lemon zest, whisk to combine. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine.

Stir in the zucchini, vanilla extract and poppy seeds until evenly distributed. Try not to over stir. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes in pans before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

For the Glaze:

Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the bread and garnish with lemon zest and garnish with basil leaves. t if desired. Store bread in an airtight container. Or, wrap tightly and freeze one loaf for later. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Loch Alpine Chicken Marinade

My neighbor Becky donated a cookbook I worked on back in 1998 to our neighborhood Little Free Library and it really took me on a trip down memory lane.   It was a project of our Loch Alpine Playgroup that I joined when it formed in 1997 and was home on maternity leave after Eddie was born.   We were raising funds for our Loch Alpine is what it looks like now:

We hosted bake sales, garage sales, visits from Santa, etc to raise funds for the park, and then we made an impassioned plea at the Loch Alpine Association annual meeting for every homeowner to kick in $25 and it worked!  Since that time, Loch Alpine has continued to add to it and one of our old neighbors that passed away left a fund to sustain the park, and a Boy Scouts had a few Eagle projects there.   It's a great place!

Many wonderful recipes and memories of neighbors from back then!  I hauled out my copy yesterday and made some chicken with this outstanding marinade recipe from my neighbor Bernadette.    So simple and delicious....I've updated her recipe to reflect how I make it:

Loch Alpine Chicken Marinade
(for 4 chicken breasts)

1/2 c. reduced sodium soy sauce
3 T. olive oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried basil
1/2 t fresh ground pepper

Place all ingredients in a lidded jar and shake until well combined.    Put chicken breasts in a zip lock bag and add marinade and seal.   Make sure marinade covers all of the chicken and marinate in refrigerator, turning bag occasionally, for at least 6 hours.  Great on the grill!

We've put our house up for sale so I am feeling a little melancholic about the great times I have had living here. There is a quote in the foreword of our sweet little cookbook that captures my feelings perfectly:

"Life is all memory except for one present moment that goes by so quick that you hardly catch it going"

-Tennessee Williams

No truer words 'ere spoken.   Amen

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

The Summer Place 62nd Street Lemon Loaf

I'm still cooking my way through the Summer Place Cookbook from a restaurant that was popular in Houghton in the 1980s when I was a student.   This recipe for lemon cake caught my eye to be the base for strawberry shortcake.   Like many recipes in this cookbook, it was not an original recipe but a famous one elsewhere.   This one was featured by Craig Claiborne in the 1970s.  It was a Maida Heatter recipeMaida Heatter was a famous pastry chef that got started late in life; she died last year at 102.   She is an inspiration to me as I want to publish a cookbook after I retire.  Her daughter illustrated her cookbooks like my daughter will.   This recipe was her daughter's originally, the name comes from where she lived at the time.   Here's how it was shared in the Summer Place Cookbook:

Here at the lakehouse, I don't have a tube pan or a Bundt pan, so I knew I'd have to do some tinkering to make this work for a bread pan.    I love my Bundt pans in my collection, but they really are huge cakes anyway.   Here is how I made the recipe:

62nd Street Lemon Loaf

1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
dash salt
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 c. sugar, divided
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1 lemon and it's zest

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter a loaf pan (I used a 7.75"x3.75" size pan) and line with parchment paper.    In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt with a fork until well blended.    I don't have a stand mixer at the lake house, but if I did I would use it to cream the stick of butter and 1 cup sugar.    I used my $2 garage sale handheld mixer instead.    Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until well blended.   Mixing slowly, add half of the flour mixture, then add milk, then the other half of the flour mixture.    Add the zest from the lemon.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.   Cool on a rack for a couple minutes while making the glaze from the lemon juice from the naked lemon, plus the remaining 1/2 cup sugar.    Using the parchment paper, remove the loaf and glaze it while still warm with a pastry brush.

This cake is fantastic with some Chassell strawberries, sliced with some sugar, and a dollop of whipped cream.    There is nothing better than Keweenaw berries!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Summer Place Steak Marinade

When I was a student at Michigan Tech in the 1980s, there were a few restaurants you could go to for a nice dinner out that were seasonal spots.    The Onigaming Supper Club, which I wrote about a few years ago,  Fitzgeralds (now the Fitz) in Eagle River,  The Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor.    And the Summer Place, that was just south of Houghton.   It was a restaurant run out of the former house of Eve and Ken Nelson and if my memory serves me correctly, it was decorated in a heavy "Laura Ashley" floral and lace style.    The food there was great!

I once found a copy of their cookbook at the Gay Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary Bazaar but neglected to buy it, much to my regret.     I was talking to a friend of mine that knew the owners and she was telling me about how she always used their steak marinade recipe and so I have been on a quest to get the cookbook again.    Of course, it is long ago out of print, and I couldn't even find a used version of it for sale online anywhere.   I posted a request for it on the "You Know You are From the Copper Country If...." facebook group and a couple people came through with it so I could make a copy.    The cookbook has a lot of recipes from other sources....for example, Maida Heatter's daughter's East 62nd Street Lemon Cake, which was printed by Craig Claiborne in NYT in the 1970s (so good that even "Bill Blass and Nancy Reagan asked for the recipe")  and recipes for things that I am sure were considered very exotic for the time in Houghton (Ecuadorian shrimp, anyone?).   Also there is a whole section on those impossible cakes made with Bisquick, which seems out of place with the rest of the recipes in the book, which were far more glamorous.    It is a perfect time capsule of recipes that were popular in that era (1975 - 1994)   I couldn't wait to give some of them a try.

First on my list was the steak marinade recipe. 

Reading the note on the recipe, I wondered if I could find the history of it.    I googled "Elbow Room Steak Marinade"  and sure enough, I found several versions of it out there.   Evidently, it was published in Family Circle Magazine in 1971.The Elbow Room is still going strong on Long Island.   It looks like Eve and Ken took some liberties with the recipe by substituting seasoning salt for Beau Monde, which is hard for me to find even in Ann Arbor.   I'm currently at the lakehouse and struggled to find Kitchen Bouquet as well, but I substituted Maggi seasoning. which was available in the international food section of Econofoods in Houghton.    Can you use either?   Probably. although the Maggi has a lot more salt content.  I'd use low sodium soy sauce with it next time.   In this recipe, I think the key job of the the Kitchen Bouquet is the brown color.   I found this comparison in Serious Eats.     I used Lawry's Seasoned salt in my version.     My friend uses the marinade whenever she makes beef tenderloin, but I tried it with top sirloin and it made the steak really tender.   We grilled it and had steak salads for lunch yesterday.

Here's how I made it:

Summer Place Steak Marinade

1 c. low sodium soy sauce
2 onions, peeled and cut into eight wedges
3 gloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 c. Maggi seasoning (or Kitchen Bouquet)
1 t. Lawry seasoned salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.   Marinate steaks in a zip lock bag with enough marinade to cover.  Save whatever you have left in a jar in the refrigerator.   It is supposed to be good brushed on hamburgers too.   Marinate for at least 2 hours.  Dry off steaks with a paper towel and grill. 

Next up for lake house cooking?   I have to try the lemon cake.    If it is good enough for Bill Blass and Nancy Reagan, it's sounds like it will be perfect for my Keweenaw strawberries!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Ever since a parishioner submitted a recipe for this "salad" (it's really a dessert) for my church cookbook I edited, I have been very curious to try it.  Her recipe was made with a bunch of convenience foods like Cool Whip and Jello.  Recently, it was featured in Cook's Country magazine a while ago using frozen strawberries, but their recipe used half of the cooking appliances in my kitchen, and made enough to feed an army, so I decided to simplify it and make it suitable for a small family.    I wanted to ditch the strawberry Jello and make my own fresh strawberry layer like their recipe featured.   I didn't see the need to press the strawberry puree through a fine mesh strainer.   Just using the puree as it is with the gelatin is fine.  It came out great!  Wonderful alternative to shortcake in strawberry season.     I've already made it twice so far and will probably make it again when I hit peak strawberry season in the UP next week.    

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

2 heaping measuring cups of pretzel sticks (not rods)
1 1/8 cups  sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2  cup heavy cream
2 quarts strawberries, washed and hulled
¼ teaspoon salt
1 1 oz package unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 8x8 baking pan with vegetable oil spray. In a blender, process pretzels and 1/8 c sugar until coarsely ground.  Add melted butter and pulse until combined.  Transfer pretzel mixture to prepared pan. Using bottom of measuring cup, press crumbs into bottom of pan. Bake until crust is fragrant and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Set aside crust, letting it cool slightly, about 20 minutes.

Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and, with mixer still running, slowly add cream in steady stream. Continue to whip until soft peaks form, scraping down bowl as needed, about 1 minute longer. Spread whipped cream cheese mixture evenly over cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree 1 1/2 quarts of  strawberries in in the blender.   Pour into a saucepan. Add remaining 3/4 c sugar and salt and cook over medium high heat, whisking occasionally, until bubbles begin to appear around sides of pan and sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes; remove from heat.

Sprinkle gelatin over water in large bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Whisk strawberry puree into gelatin. Slice remaining strawberries and stir into strawberry-gelatin mixture. Refrigerate until gelatin thickens slightly and starts to cling to sides of bowl, about 30 minutes. Carefully pour gelatin mixture evenly over whipped cream cheese layer. Refrigerate salad until gelatin is fully set, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Chicken of the Woods and Asparagus Fettuccine

What a strange year 2020 has been!  Because of the corona virus, or as I like to call it the "Co-VEED", I hadn't seen my old neighbor Ann in a long time, but we went to church together and on a hike in Hudson Mills where I found this....

It's a Laetiporus sulfureus, aka a "chicken of the woods" mushroom.    And that is me with without dyeing my hair since the beginning of March.   I call it my "sexy grandma" look....actually, I color my own hair so I could have kept doing it but decided to use this time to see what my gray hair looks like.  It's one of the gifts of the "Co-VEED".   I'd love to quit having to dye my hair.  Of the two laetiporus mushrooms you can find in Michigan, this one and  L. cinncinatus, the later is considered a better tasting mushroom, but I like them both.    I have a soup recipe created at the lakehouse with a chicken my son found in the woods one fall day, but but it is springtime so I wanted something different.  I had some local asparagus so I decided on a pasta dish.  It came out delicious!  I just used the tender tips of this mushroom; the inner part was rather tough. 

Chicken of the Woods and Asparagus Fettuccine
serves 1

2 T olive oil
1 c. thinly sliced chicken of the woods mushroom (you can substitute oyster mushrooms or morels or even storebought portobellas)
4 stalks asparagus, sliced in 1/4 inch chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. evaporated milk
2 T. flour
1/4 c water
3 T white wine

To serve:
1 c. cooked fettuccine
grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium skillet, heat oil.   Add mushrooms and asparagus and salt to taste and saute 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic.   Add stock and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add evaporated milk and stir on medium high heat until bubbling.   Make a slurry of flour and water and add to skillet, stirring until thickened.   Remove from heat and add wine.     Top pasta with sauce and Parmesan cheese .   Tastes just like spring!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Lakehouse Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Because of the corona virus pandemic.I haven't been into the office since Thursday March 12.   Because my job can be done from anywhere, we have been spending time at the lakehouse, which actually makes for a great experience!  I never thought I'd be able to do is awesome.     

my new office view

In addition to this great view and beach walks and hikes,  I've been making brownies as a treat in the evening.   I've been looking for recipes that aren't too fancy because I don't keep exotic ingredients in my lakehouse pantry.   I was looking for something I could make on hand with what is here.     After experimenting, I've developed a great brownie recipe from pantry staples.   Perfect for your cottage or camp.   

Lakehouse Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Lakehouse Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

for brownie layer
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup sugar
2  eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

for peanut butter layer

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan with butter or cooking oil spray. Line with parchment paper.  (here's a good "how to"

Melt butter in a medium bowl in the microwave until melted ant hot. Combine hot melted butter, oil and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk well for about a minute. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until lighter in color (another minute or so).  Add flour  cocoa powder and salt. and mix until just combined.   Pour half the bbatter into prepared pan, smoothing the top out evenly. 

In a small bowl, mix the peanut butter layer ingredients until well blended.    Spoon peanut butter layer on top of brownie layer in half teaspoon or so so blobs.    Top with remaining brownie batter, using a fork to marbleize the peanut butter layer with the brownie batter.  

Bake for 30 miunes, or until the center of the brownies in the pan no longer jiggles and is just set to the touch  Remove and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing into 16 brownies.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Whole Wheat Rhubarb Streusel Muffins

If you are looking for a great springtime canning recipe, I recommend stewed rhubarb.   Super easy to can and it can be used as a topping for vanilla yogurt or with pork roast, or in a variety of baked goods.   Very versatile!    Here's how to do it, plus a tasty recipe for rhubarb muffins.  

Stewed Rhubarb
Makes about 18 half pints (two canner loads) of rhubarb

7 lbs rhubarb
5 cups sugar

Trim off leaves. Wash stalks and cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces. In a large saucepan add sugar to fruit. Let stand until juice appears. Heat gently to boiling. Fill jars without delay, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process for 15 minutes.

Whole Wheat Rhubarb Streusel Muffins
For the muffins
1 half pint jar of stewed rhubarb
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup  all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar

For the streusel topping
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease medium muffin pan with butter.  In a small bowl, mix stewed rhubarb, egg, oil and vanilla with a fork until well combined.   In a medium bowl, mix remaining muffin ingredients and then add rhubarb mixture and stir until well combined.

To make streusel topping, put all ingredients in a small bowl and rub between your fingers until the mixture resembles pebbly small sand.  

Fill muffin tin cups 2/3 full with muffin batter and top each with some streusel topping.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes until golden on top. A skewer put in the middle should come out clean when the rhubarb muffins are done

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Face Mask in 5 minutes*

I estimate that I have sewn over 150 face masks since the pandemic happened.  When this all started, mask making became a hot crafting trend, similar to knitting koala mittens  and I admit, I was a complete naysayer about it until people started asking me to make masks for them.   I relented and did a little research and saw on the JoAnn website, they were recommending this design. Early on, I could see that elastic was going to be a problem to get; 1/4 inch was completely sold out.   I had already had bulk bought some before Christmas for my Etsy shop hair scrunchies (which was a surprise best seller for me!  Who knew hair scrunchies were back in style?) that I had quickly sewn through.   Thankfully, my engineering skills have paid off once again because I am GOOD AT MATH....

...and this is America, so people didn't realize that 3/8" elastic is a meer 1/8" bigger than 1/4" so I quickly panic bought 60 yards of the stuff from JoAnn while everyone else in the US was panic buying toilet paper on March 21.  Since I buy MTU fabric by the bolt from Portage Quilt House, I was set to make masks for a while...and make masks I did!    I decided to make them as a fundraiser for the MTU Husky Emergency Assistance Fund.

Applying my vast MTU engineering skills,  I quickly set about to improve my OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) by reducing my cycle time.   Luckily for me, I had just purchased my fantasy Swiss made sewing machine,  a Bernina 535, with my bonus check.   This machine has lots of bells and whistles like a knee lever to raise my presser foot and an automatic knotting feature, but even my old Kenmore could probably knock out a facemask in 5 minutes* without these features.

So, here is how I did it:

Before you start....

*The 5 minutes doesn't include washing and drying the fabric, which I strongly recommend you do. Prior to sewing masks, I laundered the fabric in the sanitary cycle of my washing machine, which heats the wash to 170 F for 3 minutes and then maintains the temperature at 150 F for the 2+ hr cycle to reduce shrinkage in the final product.  Quilting fabric will shrink up quite a bit, so I cut my fabric 13" in height strips and then trimmed before sewing into 9"x12" rectangles.

1. Cut fabric into a rectangle, with the "MTU" along the X axis.  Let X = 9" and Y = 12".  No interfacing is required; don't bother using it even though the JoAnn design suggested it.  Cut 2 7 inch pieces of elastic.

2.  Press into a 6"x9".   Remember, like most sewing projects, your home ec teacher was right.  Your iron is almost as important as your sewing machine.  Your iron is your friend when you are making masks. When you iron it, you don't have to pin it.

3. Sew across the top at about a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving about a 2 inch gap somewhere near the center.   Now is not the time for rocket science, just estimate it.   I marked it in blue to show where it is in this photo, but no marking is needed

4.  Pin the elastic in. The fabric is now in a tube shape, inside out.  Place the elastic inside the tube of fabric in a C shape and make sure it is flat, and use a pin to hold it in each corner.  Make sure the pin head is facing outboard.  This is worst part of making the mask, in my opinion.   I taught my husband how to do it so I didn't have to!

Elastic should be in this shape inside the fabric tube

5. Sew down both sides, pulling pins out as soon as the presser foot has it held down.  I found that it gets hung up less if you do this instead of sewing over them.

6.  Now turn through the 2 inch gap and pull out the elastic to stretch out the corners, and make sure you've turned down 1/4" fabric in the gap and press. Remember, your iron is your friend!!

7.  You are in the home stretch now; time to pin the pleats!  This is where people waste way too much time.  You don't need to mark anything, you can eyeball it.  You don't (God forbid) need to make a jig.   And now is not the time to use Wonder clips, sewists!  They are too bulky!!  Don't get me wrong; I love me some Wonder clips, but not for this.   Straight pins are what you need....

The key is getting your first pleat in right under the elastic, and then the others will fit right in underneath.  If you get the first one pinned wrong, you will need to repin, and that will add on to your cycle time.  Pin heads outboard!

fold it under right to elastic, pin heads outboard

back side view:pleat fold is right under the elastic

side view, all folded in, minimize bulk

Top view, note MTU is facing UP

8.  Time to sew it up!  Start in the upper rh corner and topstitch the whole thing in one stretch, pivoting each corner with your needle down.  I like to leave about a 1/4' on the elastic sides (using the edge of my presser foot as a guide) and a narrower stitch at the top and bottom to make sure I've closed the gap.  Again, pull pins out before you sew over them to make sure things don't get hung up

9.  TA DA!  After some practice, you can sew one in 5 minutes!

After I make my masks, I wash them again in the sanitary cycle of my machine. 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Life During Wartime: Beans Edition

We just got word that we are to work from home indefinitely because of the corona virus pandemic.   I have been looking forward to this announcement because I love working from home.   I can get so much more done when I work at home, and I can start my work right when I get up if I want, which is usually around 4:30 am.    I am a morning person, I do my best work before noon.     Hope the internet holds up!

I'm humored by all the people buying toilet paper and bottled water, but what really surprises me is people buying beans and rice.    Normally people just don't buy dried beans, even though Michigan is second in the nation IN TOTAL DRY BEAN PRODUCTION with 22% of the total; North Dakota is first.    There are eight different varieties of beans grown within Michigan that are sold throughout the United States and abroad:
Cranberry beans
Dark red kidney beans
Black beans
Adzuki beans
Pinto beans
Navy beans
Light red kidney beans
Small red kidney beans

I am a big fan of Michigan beans, and I hope that this corona virus scare inspires more cooks to try cooking beans.     I took a stroll through my blog to find some of my favorite bean recipes:

Busy Woman's Red Beans and Rice    I wrote this post when both of my kids were teenagers and too young to drive.   They were super active and we had to get them to places 7 days a week.    This recipe was one of my favorites.     I still love Lucinda Scala Quinn....any of her cookbooks are outstanding!

Baked Beans There's nothing better than baked beans made from scratch.    I enjoyed finding this vintage bean cookbook featuring bean recipes from politicians.    Also the Senate Bean Soup, which the Romney's claimed as their own.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup  I don't eat at Olive Garden very often, but when I do, it's this soup I like.    It's fun to make at home with Michigan beans.

Minted Bean Salad  Hopefully, this pandemic will be over by the time the fresh mint comes in.   But if not.....remember this recipe.    Or maybe you will still have those beans left over from your stockpile. 

Speaking of summer, remember this White Bean and Tomato Soup for when you have way too many tomatoes and the basil is about to bolt.  It is so good!

I love Bob Talbert's White Chicken Chili recipe so much that I printed it on cards that I ship with every sale of my soup  bowl cozies.     I can make you some soup bowl cozies in any college fabric you desire.   I could make a set to match your personality!  Let me know if you are interested.

If you can't lay your hands on that great UP treat, cudighi, you could substitute your favorite hot Italian sausage in this wonderful recipe for Cudighi and Kale Soup 

This recipe for Red Lentil Soup won my $50 from my rural electric co-op.    They even made a video about how to make it!

While I am looking forward to working from home, I sure hope that this pandemic doesn't impact too many of us.    I heard a podcast from Michigan famous guy Michael Moore, and he proposed we Michigan folks won't be affected too much because Michigan is a state of peninsulas.  Nobody drives through Michigan to get somewhere else.   It protects us!  I guess I never thought of it that way.   Be well, my friends!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Green Pasta with Shrimp

For as long as I can remember, I wake up most every night between 2 - 3 am.  These days, I use that time to watch things on PBS.   It's really the only time I watch TV, so at least it's educational.   When I was pregnant with Jane, I did stray from PBS to watch reruns of thirtysomething on the Hallmark channel.   I loved that show so much when I was a twentysomething.    Wonder if I can stream it from somewhere?    Anyway a couple nights ago, my insomnia led me to watching Jamie Oliver's Quick and Easy Food, and he made this vegetarian pasta dish with kale in in it that looked fantastic!

I found the recipe online, but decided to make some changes to it and put it into units we Americans can understand.    I decided to add shrimp to it, too.    Here's how I made it:

Green Pasta With Shrimp
serves 2 people

8 oz. bucatini
1/2 a large bag of chopped kale
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 oz. grated parmesan cheese
3 T. olive oil
lemon juice from half a lemon

In a large pot, cook bucatini according to package directions.  Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. In a large dutch oven, fill half full with water and bring to a boil,  add kale and garlic and cook for 5 minutes,  drain.   Add reserved pasta water, kale, garlic 2 T olive oil and cheese to blender,  and liquefy.    In dutch oven, add remaining oil and saute shrimp until pink, remove from pan.    Add kale sauce to put and season with salt and pepper to taste.   Finish with lemon juice.   Add cooked pasta, top with shrimp and more parmesan cheese, if desired.    Great Lent friendly meal! 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Curried Chicken Soup

I have been keeping this blog since January 16, 2006.   My first blog post, which I thoughtfully entitled Scottish Food, totally reflected where I was in that point in my life.   I have always enjoyed good food, but as a mother of two young children (Jane was 11 and Eddie was 9) I often found myself at the drive thru at McDonalds,    I rarely find myself there now, but I do admit a fondness for McDonald's french fries.    I'd go there right now and get some but we are about to have an ice storm and so I might as well stay in and make some chicken soup instead.

I'm a fan of the shredded rotisserie chicken you can get at Meijer.   I buy it almost every week - it is very often a quick snack or an easy lunch ingredient.  This week, I found myself at Costco, even though I rarely use Costco for much more than gasoline, toilet paper and vodka.   (yes, their vodka is outstanding and well priced).   They offered up some shredded rotisserie chicken as well, at a price comparable to Meijer.   Consumer warning: it is rare that Costco prices can beat Meijer prices.   They trick you because you need to do math to figure that out.   Don't fall into the trap that Costco is cheap.  It most often is not.  I bought their chicken and found it to be subpar.   So I had a bunch that needed to be eaten and when I saw a recipe in Cook's Country for curried chicken noodle soup that sounded like it might work. 

Given the ice storm, I wasn't going to go out to get the rice vermicelli and the Thai basil leaves required for the recipe, so I decided to adapt.   Here is what I came up is outstanding!  Feel free to use up a cup of whatever pasta you have kicking around in the pantry.   And of course, you could poach some chicken breasts instead of the shredded rotisserie chicken.   This soup was so good!  Let the storm begin!

Curried Chicken Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, halved and sliced thin
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 cups chicken broth (3 cans)
1/4 c. dried pasta
¼ cup canned coconut milk
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 small can mushrooms
2 T dried hot peppers
1 c. frozen peas

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrots, salt, and pepper and cook until vegetables are just softened, about 4 minutes. Add broth, noodles, coconut milk, and sriracha sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until noodles are softened, about 12 minutes, depending on your pasta.  Stir in chicken and mushrooms and cook until chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in frozen peas and heat until bright green. 

Serve with lime wedges

This soup would be perfect for someone with a cold!  It is spicy.    So good on a cold, wet day like today.   My kids are grown and gone now, but I am willing to bet either one of them will make this soup.    Stay warm, my friends!

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Paprika Salad Dressing

I really do need to scale back my cookbook collection.     We will be retiring one day and moving to our lakehouse in the Keweenaw, and there's no way I can move my entire cookbook collection.    I am going to need to KonMari my cookbook collection.  My problem is that they all spark joy for me!  Just yesterday, I allowed myself to peruse the cookbook section of the Dexter Library used book sale, and I was thrilled to find a copy of the 2002 Taste of Home Annual Recipes.   I now only need 2003 to complete my collection from the 2000s. 

I adore old TOH cookbooks from back in the day.    I love to read the corny head notes for each recipe.  Ladies are always promising great things from the recipes they have submitted.      A recipe for paprika salad dressing caught my eye....Sharon Nichols from Brookings, SD assures me that "fresh greens really perk up with this zesty homemade dressing".    I decided to jazz her recipe up with some apple cider vinegar and honey and smoked instead of sweet paprika.   Plus more hot sauce. It is spectacular!

Paprika Salad Dressing

1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c mayonnaise
2 T steak sauce
1/4 t kosher salt
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/4 t celery seed
1/2 t Tabasco sauce
1 T. honey
2 T. apple cider vinegar

Put all ingredients in a jar and shake until well blended.

I'm trying to eat more vegetables in the new year, like every year.    I am looking forward to some salads made with this outstanding dressing.   I had some light sour cream left over from another recipe and normally I find light sour cream kind of a let down, but this dressing has so much flavor I didn't even notice that it was missing anything.