Spicy Italian Potato Soupa!!!

My husband asked for soup tonight for supper as he has a match to attend and needs to have something he deems as quick, easy, and filling.  Actually he shoots skeet and he shoots a higher score if he eats before he goes.  So you know it is important when it is about boys and their toys!!

This is a recipe I created from having eaten at a local Italian restaurant.  They topped theirs with torn kale.  I like fresh chives or parsley better!!

You will need:

1 pound fresh bulk Italian sausage
4-5 medium to large red skinned potatoes
1 medium onion
6-8 C. chicken stock
1 C. cream or half and half
2 T. butter
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. salt
pinch red pepper flake
2 T. fresh snipped chives or parsley

Melt the butter in a soup kettle and break the sausage up into the sizzling butter.  Stir and cook over medium high heat until nicely browned.  Turn the burner off and just let it sit while you peel the potatoes.

The next step has a bit of flexibility to it.  I usually shred the raw potato in the food processor but you could just as well dice into small chunks.  It will cook faster the smaller the potatoes are so keep that in mind.  Do the same with the onion.  Add the vegetables to the soup kettle along with 6 cups of stock.  Depending on haw many potatoes you have you may need to adjust and add the  additional stock.

Add the salt and pepper and simmer over medium low heat until the potatoes are cooked, maybe 15-20 minutes.  Add the cream just before serving and garnish with fresh snipped chives. Enjoy!!  It smells good, it tastes good, it is good!!


By the Jar Fresh Pack Bread and Butter Pickles with Katie & Kendal

Some days the sun just shines a little brighter and the breeze blows just a little sweeter.  Today was such a day.

My Granddaughter Katie and her friend Kendal came to help make pickles with me.   It not only a treat but also a Blessing anytime the Grand kids come.  It was special too to have Kendal because her Daddy Clint first came to this house when he was a couple of years younger yet than she is now.  He is a lifelong friend and grew up here in this neighborhood with our sons.

I named the girls the "Pickle Packers" for the day.  They did a good job too and we all had a lot of fun.

Here is the recipe,  I have adapted from Dispatch Kitchen and Smitten Kitchen.

By the Jar Bread and Butter Pickles,  (for each quart)

1 pound of pickling cucumbers sliced 1/4" thick
1 large vadilia or other sweet onion peeled and sliced thin
1/4 C. kosher salt
3/4 C. sugar
1/2 C. white vinegar
1/4 t. ground turmeric
1 T. mustard seed
1 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. celery seed

Process pint jars in the dish washer at hottest setting.  Place all of the clean jar bands and seals in a medium saucepan and cover completely with water.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to the lowest setting leaving the lids and bands covered in the hot water until you are ready to use them.

Using a large bowl combine the cukes, onion, and salt mixing well.  Cover very generously with ice and let stand for 2 hours.

After the 2 hours bring sugar, vinegar, and spices to a boil in  a large kettle.  Drain the cucumbers and onions, discarding the liquid.  Add the pickles to the vinegar mixture and bring to almost boiling.  Remove from the heat and pack in the clean jars.  Wipe the rims of the jars and leave 1/4" head space.
Put the lids firmly on the jars and refrigerate.  They will begin to taste like a pickle in a few hours.
These are to be made and eaten and are not intended to have a long storage life as they are not a processed pickle. They are fine for several weeks.


First Tomatoes of this Season!!!!

Call me just plain silly but I am tickled to death to have picked my first "REAL INDIANA" tomatoes today.  There is just no comparison to a store bought or hot house tomato!!  This is the beginning of the summer food season,  now,  starting tonight there will be sliced tomatoes on the supper table. 

The salads will be better and there will be more of them.  The sandwiches will be topped with them and they will be grilled, canned, juiced, made into sauce and salsa.  We will eat them with a side of cottage cheese or green onions.  BUT ONE THING IS FOR SURE!  THERE'S NOTHING BETTER THAN AN INDIANA TOMATO IN THE GOOD OL' SUMMERTIME.

Just a little side note, the bucket I pick from the garden into is pictured and this is an old bucket that my Grandma Burress from Loogootee, Indiana used to pick up her eggs when I was a little girl.  I remember many many times   going to the chicken houses with her to pick up eggs and she always used these old buckets.  She got them from the traveling salesman who came around.  She also used them  to feed the farm cats.  There were at least 25 farm cats and they were really very useful and kept the rodents population in check.  Every morning rain or shine she would cook a bucket of old fashioned oatmeal and take it down past the first chicken house to the far side of the *grainery and feed those cats.  On a cold morning they would be so glad to see her and it was devoured in just a few minutes.

*This was a building that they used to store the grain.


Zucchini Orange Tea Sandwiches (or Fruit Dip & Zucchini Bread)

We have gotten three nice sized 7-8" zucchini from the garden this week so I shredded and froze some and made a batch of zucchini bread.  My recipe makes 2 loaves and freezes well.  I made a batch of orange cream cheese spread to make desert sandwiches and I also use this for fruit dip.  It is great to dip  fresh fruit into and looks nice with a platter of arranged fresh fruit.  This recipe was adapted from Grandma Powell's version.

Zucchini Bread:

3 eggs
1 C. vegetable oil
2 C. sugar
3 T. vanilla extract
3 C. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
2 t. salt
1 T. cinnamon
3 T. fresh orange zest (optional)
1/2 C. chopped walnuts (optional)
2 C. grated zucchini

Butter and flour 2 loaf pans and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Beat the eggs. oil, sugar, and vanilla together in a mixing bowl.  Sift  together the flour, salt, soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Add to the egg mixture and beat well.  Fold in the zest, nuts, and zucchini and mix.   Pour evenly into the 2 prepared pans and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours until a pick inserted near the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Filling for tea sandwiches or fruit dip:

8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/3 C. orange marmalade
1/2 jar marshmallow cream or fluff
1 t. vanilla extract

Beat altogether with an electric mixer.  Chill in a covered dish until ready to serve.


Light and Golden Burger Buns

One of my pet peeves is big gloppy burger buns.  So when I saw this I knew I would try it as I love to make bread.  This is also a very fragrant recipe and you will love the bread smells your oven will treat you with.  Here are the ingredients you will need:

3 T. warm milk ( I microwave for 40 seconds in a tea cup)
1 C. warm water from the tap
2 t. instant yeast
2 1/2 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
1 large egg at room temperature
3 C. bread flour (I prefer King Arthur)
1/3 C. all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur)
2 1/2 T. soft butter

For the topping:
1 large egg beaten with 1 T. water for egg wash
sesame seeds

Add the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt, and egg to the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix briefly to combine.  Add the flours to the bowl and mix until incorporated.  Mix in the soft butter.  Switch to dough hook and knead on low speed for 7 minutes.  The dough is slack and a bit tacky but you want to avoid adding extra flour which will create tough buns.

I use a heavy crock for the rise process.  I sit it down in the sink and fill it with hot water from the tap and then I quickly empty the water and dry the crock with a clean towel.  The crock retains the warmth and starts off the dough for a good rise.  Oil the bowl well and transfer the dough into the prepared bowl.  I cover this with plastic wrap then a clean towel to retain and insulate the warmth.  Put it in a warm draft free place to rise for 1-2 hours.  (I leave for 2)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Using a dough scraper or knife, divide to dough into 8 equal portions.  Gently form each piece into a ball and place on the baking sheet 2-3" apart.  Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise again 1-2 hours until puffed and nearly doubled.

Set a large metal pan of water  on the lowest rack of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.   with the baking rack in the center of the oven.  Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake about 15 minutes until golden brown.  Cool completely on a rack. They are really good!!

Note this recipe has been adapted from recipes seen in Annie's Eats and Smitten Kitchen.

Freezer Slaw

The heat and critters have forced me to harvest the cabbage from our garden today.  I am feeding a whole community of bunnies and they smile at me with gratitude after each meal as they hop across the lawn.

I felt like the heads would surely split and they would go to the bugs if I didn't act.  Sooooo, with 2 trash bags in hand and my assortment of garden buckets, gloves and my butcher knife.  (I was committed!)  I headed to the garden sometime around 8 or so this morning.

It didn't take long and 8 heads were cleaned off and in my sink.  I gathered up the old plants and Brian wants to plant something else in its' place so time will tell.  I voted for turnips.

This morning when I spoke with Mother she suggested I make Freezer Slaw and put some away for the winter.  We all love it and it is Mother's recipe.  I think she got it from her Mother if I remember correctly.  The recipe reads like you are making a batch using one medium large head of cabbage.  I doubled it and used several cabbages of assorted sizes and it came out just right.

1 medium large head of cabbage
1 T. salt
1 red and 1 green bell pepper
1 1/2 C. sugar
1 C. vinegar ( I use cider vinegar)
1 t. celery seed
1 t. mustard seed

Boil together the sugar, vinegar, and seasoning for 5 minutes then set aside to cool.  Finely shred the cabbage and thinly slice the peppers into a large bowl and add the salt as you toss it all together with a large spoon.   Let this stand for 1 hour.  Squeeze  the moisture out of the cabbage mixture and move it into another bowl where you will add the vinegar and combine well.  Pack into containers and freeze.


Cinnamon and Sugar Scones

There are several things I like about these and cinnamon and sugar is a big one for me.  I think the smell of cinnamon sugar in the oven is the most delicious aroma!!  Several members of our family are big cinnamon fans and these freeze to be baked up 30 minutes before you need them. Wow!!  Lots to love in this one.

My first choice for cinnamon chips is the ones from King Arthur Flour but you cannot successfully order them in the summer as you will get a pkg. of melted glop.  You need to order a supply during cool season to tide you through or I found some at my local supermarket made by Hershey.
so here is the recipe.  It is adapted from one I saw somewhere and from one from King Arthur.

1 C. cinnamon chips
2 3/4 C. my favorite King Arthus all purpose Flour
1/2 C. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 C. (1 stick) cold butter quartered lengthwise and cut into dice
2 large eggs beaten
1/2 C. milk
1 1/2 t. vanilla

1/2 C. sugar
1/4 C. brown sugar
2 T. cinnamon
1 1/2 T. water

2 C. sifted powdered sugar
2-3 T. milk

Whisk together in a large mixing bowl flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Using a pastry cutter or forks mix in the cold butter  until it is crumbly but not uniform.  Add the eggs and vanilla to the milk and stir to combine.  Add wet ingredients to the flour butter mixture and combine then stir in the cinnamon chips.  Everything should be just moistened and hold together.

Turn out onto a WELL FLOURED work surface.  Pat into a 9" square.   Mix the filling ingredients.  Being careful not to add too much liquid.  This should NOT be runny but more like damp sand.   Spread the filling over the dough.  Fold one edge to the center and over the filling.  Fold the remaining edge over the center to complete the three fold.   Pat roll to a 3" x 18" rectangle.

Cut into six 3" squares, then cut in half diagonally.  Transfer to parchment lined sheet.  If you want to bake these off now you still need to put them in the freezer for 30 minutes for the best rise.  Bake in a preheated 425 degree F oven for 16 to 20 minutes.

OR!!  As I do freeze them all!!  Then I wrap each one in waxed paper and drop them all in a zip lock freezer bag.  In the morning when I am stumbling around all I need to do is preheat the oven and drink a cup of coffee while 4 or 5 of them bake and my house smells like a little bit of heaven.

Mix up a little icing and drizzle them up a bit!!  I do brush them with cream or milk before I bake them just to aid the browning.  These are a treat.

PICKLES!!!!! I love pickles. These are refrigerator Dills.

For years and years we made pickles, 14 Day Pickles.  Crunchy Bread and Butter Pickles and Dills.  They all had certain things in common, it took a bunch of cukes, it took a lot of time, and there was the mess....
I have been looking and trying short cut fresh pickle recipes you do in little batches and this is the first one I have liked.  Here is what you need:

6-7 pickling cucumbers approx. 6"-9" in length
5-6 clean and sterile jars with lids
3-6 cloves fresh garlic depending on your taste
fresh dill or dried dill seed
crushed red pepper flakes
3 C. cool water
6 T. white vinegar
2 1/2-3  T. pickling salt or kosher salt

If you have fresh dill place several sprigs in the bottom of each jar.  If using dill seed place 1/2 t. in the bottom of each jar. Cut the washed cucumbers into spears and fill the jars to half full.  Add more fresh dill sprigs or another 1/2 t. dill seed.  Finnish filling the jars with cucumbers and add fresh minced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flake and a little more dill.  I use a  large pitcher/ measuring cup and mix the cool water, salt and vinegar stirring until the salt is dissolved.  * I made a second pitcher of brine and just refrigerated the unused portion to use in my next batch.   Pour the brine over the pickles until the are submerged leaving 1/4'  head space at the top.  Put the lids on and refrigerate.  Wait at least 2-3 days before eating.  Fresh Dill pickles YUM!!  Note:  These must be kept in the refrigerator and are not for long time storage.


Eggs!! The perfect hard boiled egg and more.

The not so great green ring around the center of a boiled egg won't occur if you follow these directions or at least get close to them.......1. You want eggs close to their expiration date for easier peeling.  During the spring I go buy eggs to boil for Easter early, weeks ahead so they will peel more easily.  2.  Place the eggs in a medium to large pan depending on how many you plan to boil of course.  3.  Cover with 1-1 1/2" cold tap water.  4.  Add 1 Tablespoon of salt.  5.  Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Cover the pot and turn it off as you remove it from the heat.  6.  Let the covered pan sit undisturbed for 15 minutes.  7.  Rinse the eggs under cool water for 5 minutes to cool them.  8.  Gently crack the eggs and let them sit in cool water for another 5 minutes before peeling them.  You should find the eggs to stay buttery yellow at the yolk and be firm at the white.

For deviled eggs:

Hard-boil, peel and split lengthwise 12 large eggs
1 t. salt
1 t. yellow mustard
4-5 T. Hellman's mayonnaise or Miracle Whip which ever you prefer
optional 1 T. pickle relish
Mash the yolks in a small bowl with a spoon till they are smooth.  Blend in the rest of the ingredients and taste and adjust seasoning.  Spoon or pipe into the egg white halves.  Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and keep refrigerated until serving time.

                                                                                    For Egg Salad:

Shell 6 hard cooked eggs and place in a bowl and chop or dice them to a chunky consistency.  Add a pinch of salt,  pepper, and celery salt.  Mix in 1/2  teaspoon of yellow mustard and 2-3 T. salad dressing and stir well.  If it is too dry you may add a little more salad dressing or a few drops of sweet pickle juice.  You may also add 1 t. pickle relish if desired.  Serve on your favorite fresh bread with lettuce for a great sandwich.

Swiss Steak and Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Gravy

Golly this is what I asked Mom to make for my birthday diner, well this or homemade spaghetti and meat sauce.  It is amazing how often it is requested now for birthday diners by others!!   I am going to give 2 versions as they are both good and it depends what I have on hand which version I use.  If you are mushroom challenged just leave them out and add an onion.

1 large, 3-4 pound arm or chuck roast
either 2 C. tomato juice or 1 can condensed tomato soup undiluted
either 1 can of mushrooms with juice or 1 onion halved
flour for coating the roast
salt and pepper
oil to brown the meat
large dutch oven with lid or heavy skillet with tight fitting lid

Unwrap the meat and season it well on all sides.  Dredge it in flour.  Heat the oil in the Dutch Oven and brown the roast on both sides well when the pan is hot.  Turn the heat off and remove from the hot burner.  Just dump in the tomatoes and mushrooms or onion, just right on top and put the lid on.  You can either simmer this over very low heat on top of the stove for 2-3 hours or put it in the oven for 2-3 hour at 325 degrees F. or you can put it in the crock pot and just leave it all day on low.  I have done it every which way and the only thing you have to watch is on top of the stove or in the oven you may have to add a bit of water and turn the meat once.  It it not a labor intensive dish for the goodness of the end result.  When ready to serve the meat should be fork tender and the gravy does not require anything further either.  Just enjoy.

Mashed potatoes

Wash and peel a potato for everyone eating diner and add one extra for the pot!! This was Grandma Neukam's method on their farm and it still works for me.  She often cooked for "thrashers" (temporary hired help who came to assist with the thrashing of the wheat crop).  She would take the head count and throw in , "one for the pot".

Use Russet or Idaho nice sized potatoes.  *Do NOT use Red potatoes or new potatoes.
Cover with about 1 " of cold water in a large kettle and add a good teaspoon of salt.  Half or quarter the potatoes so they are like sized and after they come to a boil turn them down to medium heat and cook about 20 minutes and test for doneness by piercing with a fork.

When done drain the potatoes and for a big pan,  I put in 1 stick of butter (this would be to serve 6 or more people) and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper and 1/4 C. milk.  Using an electric mixer in the pan slowly start to mash the potatoes.  Continue to mash and add milk a little at a time till desired consistency.  Taste a couple of times and add more salt and pepper as it takes quite a bit of seasoning to get them to optimum flavor.

* Red potatoes and new potatoes are waxy and will not beat or mash.  They are better to use when you want the potato to retain it's shape.

Emily's 15 th Birthday Cake," Choc Choc Chocolate Cake".

This is a three chocolate cake and it is really good!!  I start with a Duncan Hinds Devils food cake mix.(AND YOU ALL THOUGHT I NEVER USE A BOX CAKE!)

1 Duncan Hinds Devils food cake mix
1,  4 oz. package Jello chocolate instant pudding mix
3/4 C. sour cream
1/2 C. hot coffee or hot water and 1/2 t. instant espresso or instant coffee
1/2 C. vegetable oil
3 large eggs at room temperature
3 C. semi sweet chocolate chips measured into two 1 1/2 C. portions
3/4 C. heavy whipping cream

Prepare either a 10 " bundt pan or a tube pan by buttering and flouring it well.  Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F.   Beat altogether in a large mixing bowl the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, hot coffee, oil, and eggs.  Stir in 1 1/2 C. of the chocolate chips.  Spread evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour on the middle rack of the oven.  A pick should come out clean when tested.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Invert onto a plate or wire rack and cool completely. 

Heat the cream in a saucepan to a simmer, do not bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining chocolate chips until smooth and melted.  Drizzle over the cake.  YUM!!


Homemade Bread

When I asked Emily what she wanted for her birthday diner she asked for among other things homemade bread.  This is what I made and it was great.  This is adapted  from a book I found in the library and it is Martha Stewart's Baking Cookbook.  It makes a 12 inch round loaf and will keep at room temperature 4 days if well wrapped.

Rustic Italian Olive Oil Bread:

2 C. room temperature water
4 1/2 C. bread flour plus more for dusting
1 scant T. Instant Yeast
3/4 C. extra-virgin olive oil plus more for bowl and plastic wrap
1 T. coarse salt
Cornmeal for dusting

Combine in the large bowl of an electric mixer the water, flour, yeast, and olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon until all is well combined.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let it rise in a warm place for 1 1/4 hours til double in bulk.

Attach the bowl to the mixer using the dough hook and add the salt.  Machine knead the dough to combine on low speed.  Raise the speed to medium and beat about 3 minutes until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl but remains sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead for 1 minute and transfer to a large oiled bowl.   Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap.  let raise til double in bulk about an hour.

Note:  I use an old crock that I first fill with hot water from the tap then empty and dry to warm it to raise all my homemade breads.  I also spray olive oil spray on the plastic wrap then put a clean towel over the whole thing to hold in the warmth,

Return the dough to the lightly floured work surface.  Fold in the following way:  Fold the bottom third of the dough up, the top third down,  and the right and left sides in toward the center tapping the dough after each fold to release and excess flour.  Press down to seal as you go along.  Flip the dough seam side down on the work surface, and cover with oiled plastic wrap.  Let it rest for 15 minutes.

Dust a large piece of parchment paper with cornmeal and position it on a peel or an edgeless cookie sheet suitable for sliding the dough and parchment onto a heated baking stone.  Set this aside.  Transfer the dough to a clean work surface you have lightly floured.  To shape the dough, cup it between your palms in a circular motion pulling down on the surface of the dough to form a tight. smooth round.  (The bottom of the dough should catch or drag a bit on the table as you roll; this will help it take it's shape.)    Transfer the round of dough to the prepared peel or flat pan.  Drape with an oiled piece of plastic wrap and let it rise about 30 minutes until slightly puffed.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Place baking stone in the lower portion on the oven.

After the bread has risen use a lame or sharp blade to slash the loaf making four slashes to form a large square.  Slide the loaf on the parchment onto the stone, and bake until the crust is dark golden brown, about 35 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack to cool before slicing.   You are in for a real treat.

Father's Day Carrots

When we cooked out on the grill when I was a girl at home Dad always stoked up the charcoal grill and it was usually on a Sunday.  It is fitting to talk about him today on Father's Dad.  He was a mountain of a man, my Dad.  Tall and handsome and strong.  Almost out of the movies.  He was as handsome and charming when he wanted to be as any man on earth!!  My sisters and I worshiped the ground he walked on and love him more than he ever could have known.

He grilled many things, chicken and burgers, and dogs, and steaks and it was all good but the carrots.....oh those carrots!!!

Mother would peel and slice them and dot them with butter salt and pepper and double wrap them in foil and he would put them on the coals usually for about an hour or so.  He knew just how long to cook them and they were just starting to blacken around the outer edges and they were out of this world.  We always had those carrots regardless of the main dish.  The carrots were always the star!!

Cabbage Slaw

Raw fresh vegetables are so attractive in so many ways, good for you, beautiful color, and the crispness and coolness on a summer day.  YUM.  Cabbage slaw is a great side dish with many meals.  I use it with both the creamy style dressing and with vinegar dressings.  Here are 2 favorites.

1 head green cabbage sliced thin
1/2 sweet onion sliced thin
3 carrots shredded
1 red sweet pepper sliced thin
optional 1/4 red cabbage sliced thin

Combine the shredded vegetables in a large crock or mixing bowl.  Using a smaller bowl mix about 3/4 c. miracle whip dressing with 1/4 c. vinegar, 1/3 to 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper and stir with a whisk or fork til smooth.  Taste it and adjust seasonings and sugar or vinegar.  Pour over the shreds and stir well and serve.

If you prefer a vinegar dressing combine 1/4 c. vinegar,  3/4 c. oil,  3 T. sugar, 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper,  and 1 t. celery seeds then stir together well.  Pour over vegetables and stir until well coated.  Taste and correct seasoning to taste.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I have always loved spaghetti and meat sauce the way my Mother made it at home was the best!! But I really like to make meatballs too and so I do a couple of times a year.  Basically depending on what you have or what is available you need a pound of ground meat.  This can be 1/3 beef, pork, and veal or half and half of two of the named meats or all beef.  This time I used the all three combination.

1/4 C. milk
4 slices day old bread crusts removed and torn into small pieces
1/3 pound ground beef, pork, and veal or some combination thereof
1 egg
1/3 C. Parmesan Cheese grated
3 T. fresh Parsley plus more for garnish if desired
(1 1/2 T. if using dried herb)
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. black pepper
2 t. fresh oregano
(1 T. if using dry)
2 cloves fresh garlic minced
pinch of red pepper
olive oil for frying

Soak  the bread in the milk in the bottom of a mixing bowl for a few minutes until the milk is absorbed.

Combine the rest of the ingredients with your hands and mix until well blended and form into 2" meatballs.  Use enough oil to coat the bottom of a heavy skillet and brown the meatballs.  It should take about 10 15 minutes to finish them all.

You can then drop them into a store bought sauce of your liking or make a sauce.  An easy one is to combine in a deep pan 2 or 3 T. olive oil with a large chopped onion and 3-4 cloves chopped garlic and saute for a minute or two and add a 28 oz. can of crushed Italian tomatoes or a quart of home canned tomatoes you can stir to crush.  Add about 3 T. *tomato paste.  If you have fresh basil tear about a half cup of the leaves and add.  Use much less if using dry and taste till you get it right.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I don't like oregano very well so I use it rarely.  You can use it here if you like it.  At any rate simmer this on very low heat with the meatballs for as long as you like and fill your house with that welcoming smell everyone will love!!

*If you see it or can find it purchasing tomato paste in the tube keeps much better and is much handier than messing with the can as must recipes call for less than a can,  The tube keep really well in the refrigerator.


From My Garden Today

It has been so hot I had thought I would get out in the garden this morning early before it was so "steamy".  Much to my surprise it was very nice at around 10AM.  The zucchini finally have made one to harvest!!  We have had blossom rot and they just rot before they have made anything.  Until today when I got to pick a nice 8" long smooth and green zucchini!!  If I am lucky he will have friends to join him soon and I can grate and freeze some for the winter to enjoy in zucchini bread.  We like it fried too and that my be the way this one goes one night next week.

Also got to pick 6 nice cucumbers and I am thinking Bread and Butter Pickles if they make a few more in the next few days or marrying them up with some sour cream and going Greek.

Other than that I am cooking today for tomorrows Father''s Day/Emily's 15th Birthday Dinner.  A double hitter.  Mostly prep,  I have cut 3 pounds of carrots for  "Grilled Carrots".  I have cut cabbage and peppers and carrots and onion for coleslaw and i have cooked eggs for Deviled Eggs.

I am working on the birthday Cake too but I probably won't finish it til tomorrow.


Red Potato Salad with Crispy Bacon and Dill

There are some things that I find myself collecting recipes for and one of them is potato salad.  I have always been somewhat intrigued by all the yummy ways to dress a lowly spud that seems to elevate it to the most discriminating palate.  I love this time of year when I can just step outside and pick fresh herbs to use in this potato salad so it seems the perfect day along with the fact we are grilling tonight.  Always a great side dish with any grilled meat or poultry.

You will need:

2 pounds scrubbed and large dice red potatoes of uniform size
cold water to cover
2 t. kosher salt
1/2 pound bacon cut into 1/2" dice
1 bunch green onion chopped white and green portions
3 T. fresh dill chopped
4 T. fresh parsley chopped
1/4 C. sour cream
1/4 C. rice wine vinegar
2 T. olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cover and bring to a boil in a heavy medium pan the potatoes and salt.

Reduce to medium heat and cook about 10 minutes till fork tender.  Drain and cool the potatoes.  You want them to dry a bit while you prepare the bacon and dressing.

Dice the bacon and fry till crisp in a heavy skillet.

Drain well on brown paper or towels.  Set aside.  Using a medium sized bowl combine with a whisk the vinegar and sour cream, slowly whisk in the oil and herbs and onion.  Combine the potato, dressing and bacon, reserving some bacon to top the finished salad.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with remaining bacon and serve at room temperature or chill and serve cold.


Savoy Cabbage Gratin

We love the humble cabbage and a new spin I have found is to stir fry savoy cabbage and braise with a bit of chicken stock and a big finish is topping it with Gruyere and sticking it under the broiler to just melt the cheese.  Savoy cabbage has a more crinkled leaf and is usually a smaller head than the normal dutch cabbage we commonly find.  You will need:

2 T. butter
1 1/2 head savoy cabbage roughly chopped
1 bunch green onion chopped
2 C. good chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 C. cream
2 T. cornstarch    
8 oz. Gruyere Cheese shredded
Melt the butter in a large deep sided  skillet and add the cabbage and green onion. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes until it begins to soften.  Add stock and simmer till tender crisp.  Stir the cornstarch into the cream till smooth and add to the broth and cabbage and stir while it thickens.  Season with salt and pepper. Top with cheese and put under the broiler of the oven for 3 or 4 minutes until the cheese bubbles.

Serve and enjoy.


Coconut, Walnut, Banana Bread, "KILLER" version

Tomorrow my neighbor Doris is coming for a long planned "Coffee Clutch" so I made my very favorite "KILLER" banana bread recipe.  This was a recipe I adapted from Martha Stewart Baking cookbook and it makes 2 large loaves 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" or 6 smaller 6" x 2 3/4" loaves.

3 C. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
3 large eggs
2 C. sugar
1 1/3 C. vegetable oil
1 T. Vanilla
1 T. dark rum
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 1/2 C. mashed ripe banana
 (about 3 medium)
1 C. Shredded coconut
1 C. chopped walnuts
1/2 C. buttermilk
2 T. demerara or dark brown sugar
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare pans by spraying well with nonstick spray.  Set the pans aside. Whisk together the flour, soda, and salt and set aside.

Use the paddle attachment to a stand mixer and beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Add the sugar and oil and beat at medium low speed to combine.  Beat in the flour mixture.  Add the vanilla, rum, nutmeg, banana, coconut, walnuts, and buttermilk and beat just to combine.

Pour the batter evenly into the pans smoothing the tops.  Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the loaves. Bake until a pick comes out clean when tested, 60 to 65 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans, cool completely on rack and store in plastic at room temperature for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months.


Chunky Split Pea with Ham Soup

A couple of weeks ago at a family gathering my Goddaughter's husband Stevie asked for some soup recipes.  He had a dismal experience with split pea.  Here is my version of this hearty old time favorite.

1 pound green split peas
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion chopped 
1 1/2 C. diced carrots
1 1/2 C. diced celery
1 1/2 C. diced potato
2 quarts chicken stock
1-2 C. diced ham or smoked hock

Prepare all of the vegetables and set aside.  Prepare the ham and set aside.  Melt the butter and add the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Saute all of the vegetables over medium heat and season with salt and pepper for about 5 minutes.  Add the ham.  Saute another 2-3 minutes.  Put 2/3 of the peas in a large sieve or fine colander and rinse well.  Add the stock and peas to the veggies and ham and stir well.  Season to taste and cook with the lid tipped at medium low heat for 20 minutes.  Rinse the remaining 1/3 of the peas and add to the soup.  Stir well and simmer another 20 minutes.  The reason I add the peas in two intervals is to keep them all from dissolving.  You have a heartier, chunkier soup this way.  If you plan to freeze some of the soup for later omit the potatoes.  Enjoy.


Black Raspberries!! A find!!

Every couple of years good fortune smiles on me and I happily come across fresh black raspberries.  Such was the case last Thursday while traveling through Washington, In.  a sign caught my eye, "Black Raspberries", and I vowed to myself to stop on my way home and see if some could be had!!  Sunday just before noon as I traveled south I stopped and to my delight was able to purchase a gallon of the beautiful berries.

Today my granddaughter Katie was with me and she energetically assisted and a pie was made and three quarts were put into the freezer for cobbler or pie another day.

Pie Crust:
4 C. All Purpose Flour (King Arthur)
1 C. Cold Butter
1/2 C. Crisco Shortening
1 egg beaten
1T. vinegar
1/2 C. Ice Cold water
1 T. sugar
2 t. salt

Cut the butter and shortening into the flour, salt, and sugar with a fork, a pastry cutter, or in the food processor until it is like coarse crumb.  Mix the egg vinegar and water into the flour and quickly blend until it forms a ball.  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.  This makes 5 single 9" crusts or 2 double crusts and a single.  They will be fine in the refrigerator a couple of days and will keep for months in the freezer.  I form them into 5 disks and put parchment or saran wrap between them before I store them.


1 quart berries rinsed well in a colander
1 C. sugar
3 T. quick tapioca
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 t. vanilla

Mix all of these ingredients and let them sit together for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Flour your work surface and roll the chilled pastry larger than your pie plate.  Transfer the pastry to the pie plate and put the berry mixture in and dot with 2 T. soft butter.  Roll the top crust and cover the pie.  Slit the top for the steam to escape and sprinkle with sugar.  Place the pie on the prepared foil lined sheet and bake 1 hour.  Serve with ice cream or whipped cream for a summer treat!


Maple Glazed Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Probably 25 years ago I started making sour cream coffee cake.  An employee, an elderly woman who worked with me gave me a recipe and that started me down this path.  This one I am making to take to my twin grandsons in Indianapolis tomorrow.  The boys will be 2 on the 4th of July so they do better with a cake of substance than with something that just squishes in their little hands.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour a bundt pan or a tube pan.

1 1/2 C. Soft butter
1 1/2 C. sugar
3 large eggs @ room temp.
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/4 C. sour cream
2 1/2 C. cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. soda
1/2 t. salt

Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl.  Mix 5 minutes until light.  Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and sour cream.  Using another bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.  Set the mixer on low and add the flour mixture and combine until just blended. 


1/2 C. brown sugar packed
1/2 C. flour
2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
4 T. cold butter cut in small dice
optional 1/2 C. nutmeats
Mix all together until it forms a crumble.

Spoon one half the cake batter into the prepared pan and top with half of the streusel.  Top with the remaining batter and spread evenly.  Top with the streusel and bake for 1 hour until pick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes and remove to a cake plate.

Maple Glaze

1/2 C. powdered sugar
3 T. real maple syrup
Mix well and drizzle over the cake with a spoon.