I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gone But Not Forgotten....Happy Birthday Mom


         "To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die." ~ Thomas Campbell

                                                           Are there birthdays in Heaven?
Does the Angel blow his horn
announcing to everybody
this is the day that you were born?

Can the stars be your balloons?
or an angel food your cake?
Presents wrapped in moonbeams
that the Angels helped to make?

Your birthdays have meant so much to us;
they were always a very big deal.
Birthday presents, your favorite treats,
and perhaps a special meal.

So we'll whisper a little prayer today
asking everyone here and  above
to sing you a Happy Birthday song
and with it all our love.

I wasn't sure what recipe to post in honor of my Mother's Birthday she loved to eat and had a great many favorites. Then it dawned on me the one food item that was always on the top of her list was......onions! Without exaggeration I can honestly say that my mother went through at least five pounds of onions a week if not more.

I'd like to say that I am about to wow you here with some fancy schmancy recipe using onions but my mother was a purist and enjoyed them in their simpler form......sliced thick between two slices of bread.......it's enough to make you cry!

Happy Birthday Mom, you are greatly missed, fondly remembered, spoke of often, your Harriet-izms still fill us with laughter and bring smiles to our faces...we thank you for the joy that you have given us and still give us.

Harriet's Favorite Sandwich

1 Onion (red, white, Vidalia, Spanish...it just needs to be an onion).
2 slices of bread (she didn't care; it could have been wonder bread or rye)!
1 Tablespoon of either miracle whip or mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the mayonnaise/miracle whip on one or both slices of bread. Cut onion into 1/2 inch to 1 inch slice, place slice on bread add salt and pepper, cover with remaining slice of bread and enjoy.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

No Knead To Thank Me!


There is nothing like the taste and smell of homemade bread fresh from the oven. Hopefully if you were fortunate enough you either had a mother, grandmother or aunt kneading away in the kitchen at that silky aromatic yeasty dough. I do not wish to short change the men here since they are excellent cooks and bakers as well...or you had a father, grandfather or uncle kneading away in the kitchen at that silky aromatic yeasty dough.

Anyhow if you did grow up in a "A daily homemade bread kind of house" you know how special homemade bread can be and how important the people who make this bread are. It takes a lot of muscle to make bread and what happens when the bread bakers we love and adore no longer are able to knead the dough? Maybe its arthritis, tendinitis or it's just that they don't have the strength they use to but still want the pleasure of providing homemade bread for their loved ones.
Sure we can all get off our behinds and get in the kitchen to help but with these recipes there is just no knead to.....they can do it all by themselves! Now pass the butter while the bread is still warm I am starving.

Home Baked No Knead Bread

1 1/4 c. warm water
1 pkg. active dry yeast
2 tbsp. soft shortening
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
3 c. sifted flour

Pour warm water into large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water, stir until dissolved. Add shortening, salt, sugar and 1 1/2 cups flour. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. Stir in remaining flour and beat with a spoon until smooth, 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape batter from sides of bowl. Cover dough with clean cloth and let rise in a warm place, free from draft until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. When batter has risen, stir down by beating about 25 strokes. Spread batter in a greased loaf pan (9"x5"x3"). Batter will be sticky. Let rise in warm place until batter reaches 1/4" from top of pan, about 40 minutes. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown. When done, brush top with butter while still hot.

No Knead French Bread

1 pkg. dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. soft shortening
4 c. sifted all purpose flour

Measure flour into bowl, add water, then yeast. Let yeast dissolve thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Let set 10 minutes, then cut through dough with a wooden spoon. Do this 5 times at 10 minute intervals. Turn dough out on floured board and divide in half. Let rest for 10 minutes, then roll each ball into a loaf. Make several diagonal slashes across each loaf. Let rise double. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

No Knead Raisin Bread

1 1/3 c. hot water
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. warm water
4 pkg. active dry yeast
2 eggs, slightly beaten
6 1/2 c. flour
2 c. seedless raisins


1 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Mix hot water, sugar, salt and butter; cool until lukewarm. In large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add first water mixture to eggs, flour and raisins. Beat until well-blended, about 2 minutes. Cover, let rise in warm place until more than doubled, about 50 minutes. Punch batter down and beat vigorously be hand, about 75 strokes. Turn into two greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans or two (1 1/2 quart) casserole and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan immediately. Beat glaze ingredients until smooth and shiny. Pour icing over bread when cool, letting it drip down the sides.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Uncommonly Good

I can guarantee you that a recipe will always catch my eye when it makes use of an ingredient in an uncommon way. I have enjoyed split peas most of my life mainly due to the fact that my mother's favorite soup was split pea with ham. My mother made an enormous pot of that every month which meant we ate it a couple of times a week. Other than soup I have never made or seen split peas used in any other manner until now. I just think these are down right clever it makes you wonder if it will catch on the way that putting zucchini in bread did!

Split Pea Bars

2/3 c. dry split peas                                                                                                  photo/Rigib's/flickr
2 c. water
1 c. skim milk                                                                          
1/4 c. oil                                                                             
2 eggs (or 1/2 c. egg substitute)
2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. chocolate chips (opt.)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. raisins
1/2 c. chopped nuts
1 tsp. nutmeg

Combine split peas and water; cook about 1 hour over low heat to make a thick soup. (You may need to add a little more water to keep it from getting too thick to stir.)

Combine thick soup and milk. Combine oil, sugar and eggs. Beat well. Sift two cups in flour with other dry ingredients. Add sifted ingredients alternately with liquid, beating well. Dredge raisins and nuts (and chocolate chips, if used) in the remaining 1/2 cup flour and stir into batter. Spread into greased jelly roll pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cut while still warm.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hats Off To A Special Lady


A discussion about women, who could pull off wearing big hats and look stunning, got me to thinking about my Aunt Lena. My Aunt Lena was a full figured blond haired blue eyed Italian girl. In those days it seemed that all the ladies had really big hair, my Aunt was no exception. That head of hair was all hers unlike my grandmother who always wore a wiglet to give her that Marge Simpson effect. I was always fascinated by the importance of hats back then; they were almost a form of societal status. Just as important were the gorgeous boxes that contained those beautiful head toppers. Somewhere along the line we lost the genetic ability to be able to pull off wearing such artistry on our heads without looking ridiculous. Definitely an era that has come and gone, hopefully it will return someday, for that seemed to be such a glorious time.
There was another thing that my Aunt Lena was famous for and that was her linguini with red clam sauce. It was always her special holiday dish and if we were lucky a special addition to our weekly Sunday dinner. I have always preferred the white clam sauce but Aunt Lena's red clam sauce was always the exception, one of the best that I have ever had to this day.

Aunt Lena's Red Clam Sauce

2 c. chopped onions
1 lg. green pepper, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. water
4 (6 1/2 oz.) cans chopped clams, with liquid
1 (61/2 oz.) can of minced clams, with liquid
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. crushed hot red pepper
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste

In 4 quart covered saucepan, sauté onions, green pepper, garlic and mushrooms in olive oil and water over medium low heat until onions are translucent. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, over low heat for 45 minutes.

Serve over pasta.


Julie's White Clam Sauce

1/4 cup pure olive oil
4 cloves garlic
Small white onion, chopped
1/4 stick of butter
1 1/2 cup clam juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup of oregano
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
5 -6.5 ounce cans of chopped clams with liquid
1 doz. fresh clams, optional as an added tasty garnish

In frying pan sauté garlic and onion in oil for one minute over moderate heat, add 1/4 stick of butter, add clam juice and bring to boil. Add parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, clams and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve over pasta

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gourd Ole`

Italians have always loved using butternut squash in less conventional ways than most. In many good Italian restaurants you will usually find on the menu; butternut squash ravioli with butter and sage an absolutely classic, comforting dish. I have also noticed more and more upscale restaurants are offering butternut squash pizzas and focaccias', which I look very forward to trying. I am sure the natural sweetness of the squash mingling with a nice gorgonzola or other sharp tangy cheese is quite an inviting combination on a crisp hot from the fire crust.
When I spotted this recipe giving butternut squash a Mexican twist, I knew it was a must try and I was right it is unbelievably good.

Butternut Squash in the Style of Refried Beans

1 med. butternut squash
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp. corn oil
1 tbsp. bacon fat
6 corn tortillas or 4 flour tortillas
2 c. shredded cheese (Cheddar or Jack)
1 c. shredded iceberg lettuce

Quarter the squash and steam until tender. Heat the tortillas in a little corn oil until crisp. Peel squash. Heat oil and fat in large skillet, add squash and mash and stir while adding chili powder, cumin, oregano and garlic. Keep stirring and mashing until fairly dry.
Spread on tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil until bubbly. Cover with lettuce and dot with salsa. Serve remaining salsa on side.

3 peeled tomatoes, diced
1 med. onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. oregano
2 oz. canned, diced green chilies

Combine and mix well. Let stand to allow flavors to mingle.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fire Up The Senses

In a desperate attempt to triumph over the excruciating boredom that can come from eating a "Garden in the Raw", I had to get creative or fail in my attempt. One of the greatest epiphanies that I have had while on this 21 day raw food journey is; Flame to food is good! By taking away the cooking aspect of what we put in our mouths food lacks one all important component needed to complete the sensory experience....Aroma! Raw foods lacks that symphony of smells, those little beads of flavor that attach themselves to the hot steamy wisps that rise from our food and into our nose, one glorious whiff at a time. If all our senses are not addressed the overall eating experience is far less pleasurable and leaves us unsatisfied. Sure raw foods have their own fresh from the earth scent and yes it is good delicious food but when that is all you are eating......it's like going to the Opera and every performer has laryngitis. Beautiful set, beautiful costumes and when they open their mouths to sing...Nada! I think you get the picture.
This was my attempt in giving the Diva her voice back so to speak and once again regain some of that pleasure that one should joyfully derive from eating.

Raw Vegetable Relish Salad

2 or 3 medium zucchini squash, chopped
2 yellow squash (summer squash), chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 ears of corn, cut kernels off cob
4 or 5 button or baby Bella mushrooms, chopped
3 or 4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup of raw sunflower seeds
The juice of two fresh limes (may also add zest and pulp for added flavor)
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 head of celery cabbage (Napa cabbage and romaine leaves also work well) tear off leaves and spoon on relish, it ends up being like a finger salad or a crisp veggie taco. This raw veggie relish is also wonderful in a halved avocado or stuffed inside mushroom caps.

Place all the ingredients in a big container (preferably one with a lid). Mix everything well and let sit in refrigerator for at least three hours or better still overnight. This is one of those dishes that gets better and better the longer it marinates. The flavors are vibrant and so fresh on the palate and yes, it has a wonderful aroma.