Who Is Anastasia?

My photo
New Castle, Indiana Zone 5, United States
When I was 55, I decided to embrace the things I love and hold precious and dear, regardless of anyone else's thoughts and opinion. I am a visual folk artist who loves flowers - my own flowers, grown and/or painted by me. I love good, hearty, exotic foods, and I love to prepare them myself. I love the secret garden situated in my backyard, regardless of how overgrown and wild it gets. No longer able to afford a vacation, this will have to be it for the time being. In the winter months, I still enjoy it. Anyway, here I am sharing my art, favorite recipes, cocktails, gardening tips, and just my usual vents and bantering. After all, I'm old enough to say whatever the heck I want to now ...


My Book Available on AMAZON

Stacey Torres ART Prints

Stacey Torres ART Prints
A very limited selection of reproductions from my paintings can be found here

December 21, 2009

Gifts Galore Cupcakes Recipe | Taste of Home Recipes


I know, I know, I have not been on here like I should be. Family responsibilities have whisked me away a bit, but I HAD to share this cute, cute, cute cupcake with y'all!  Enjoy and love, good health, peace and prosperity to you and yours!
Gifts Galore Cupcakes Recipe Taste of Home Recipes

November 18, 2009

Sweet Potato Pie Bourbon Cupcakes

Hello Friends,

Long time - I know, but I'm sort of back. However, I could not let this season slip through my fingers without adding this fun - and very cute - cupcake I plan to make for my family for Thanksgiving.  My mom is still ill, and now her sister is as well, so this will be a nice treat for them too!

Sweet Potato Pie Bourbon Cupcakes

Spice Cake Mix
3 Large Eggs
¼ Cup Oil
1/3 C Bourbon
¼ C Light Brown Sugar
16 oz. Canned Sweet Potatoes (candied yams is good too)
¾ C Buttermilk

Pie Crust – I don’t make a good, flaky pie crust, but a famous baking company does, and the little dough boy suggested I buy the kind that comes refrigerated and is already rolled out.

Now for the fun part – yes, the fun part comes first - tear your pie crust into pieces large enough to form ping-pong size balls, and place one in each section of a muffin tin that has been sprayed with butter flavor cooking spray. Press each ball into its muffin cup to form a small (tart-like) pie shell. It does not have to be neat – rustic is better – and easier. The shell should be fairly thin, but not transparent where you can see the tin through it. Pierce each shell once with a fork, then bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. Do not over bake! Set aside.

Mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl with a fork – or use your hand mixer; I don’t use one, preferring to beat my cakes by hand – kind of like “putting your foot into it,” only I don’t cook with my feet. Add eggs, and brown sugar and cream with the sweet potatoes.

In another large bowl, add the spice cake mix, oil, buttermilk and bourbon, mix well. Fold the sweet potato mixture into the cake batter.

Pour your batter into the pie shells about ¾ full. Bake an additional 20 minutes until they look like perfect bran muffins – only they aren’t bran muffins; they’re Sweet Potato Bourbon Cupcakes. Let the cupcakes cool on a rack in the pan. Once they’re cool, remove them from the pan (do not turn them out upside down on the pan because they are so moist, they will leave those cooling rack lines on them, and that’s ugly). Let them cool a bit longer.

At this point, I usually frost the cupcakes with a cheap caramel store bought frosting, but of course, it’s doctored up – with a splash (a splash to me is a tablespoon) of bourbon. Top each cupcake with a nice homemade praline.

1 1/4 cups of sugar
3/4 cups of brown sugar
1/2 cup of evaporated milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups pecans

Put sugars & milk in heavy bottom pan & cook to soft ball stage*. Take off fire & add frozen butter, vanilla ; pecans & stir until shine leaves mixture; then spoon on waxed paper.

*Soft Ball Stage: This candy temperature starts at 234°. What Soft Ball Stage means is that a small amount of syrup from the pan, dropped into chilled water forms a ball, but flattens when picked up with fingers

This picture is BEFORE icing - simply because I've eaten all 11 other cupcakes, and there's no point in icing the last one!

October 3, 2009

Chocolate Merlot Cherry Cake

A good friend of mine is getting married in January. The wedding is early in the morning with a small brunch reception for close friends and family. I offered to make cupcakes several months ago, but have changed the flavors, recipes, etc. a billion times. At one point, I was going to go with muffins instead of cupcakes because of the time of day, but these guys really like the idea of cupcakes.

Bill has German ancestry, and loves Black Forest cake – he also loves, loves, loves cheesecake. His fiancée, Roxanne also loves chocolate with chocolate icing; they both are fond of coconut. I tried to come up with an idea that can incorporate all of the above, and I just overdid my thinking; planning a variety of all things they like. But then there was a breakthrough. Bill asked me the other day if there would be a small cake; something for them to cut at the reception. I hadn’t thought of it before. I’m not a cake decorator by any means, always focusing on flavor and texture. What would I do? I decided to make a bundt cake. My mother has an antique iron bundt cake pan. So, I decided to make a bundt cake in this pan, and then instead of traditional cupcakes, I would make mini bundts from the same batter.

Ultimately, I decided to make the bundt cake from everything special to this couple. It will sound complicated, but it is really a great and easy recipe. It is basically a Black Bottom cake with these changes: Dark chocolate cake blended with sparkling Blackberry Merlot and dried cherries (the Black Forest flavor); the filling is cream cheese, cinnamon, vanilla and almonds (vanilla, almonds and cinnamon are a classic blend to make aphrodisiac cookies). For a glaze I microwaved a tub of Duncan Hines Creamy Homestyle White Chocolate Frosting + 1 Tablespoon of Merlot until it was liquid. When I do the actual wedding cake; I will also sprinkle some white iridescent snow sugar and decorate with flowers in the center.

Here’s the recipe:


1 box Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Cake Mix
4 large eggs
¼ C Oil
1 C dried cherries
1 C Wild Vines Blackberry Merlot
1 C Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (premium brand)

Soak the cherries in the wine for 30 minutes, and then mix all of the above ingredients.

16 oz. of softened cream cheese
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 C blanched Slivered Almonds
1 C Sugar
1 C Chocolate Chips

Cream all of the above until smooth.

Spray bundt pan with cooking spray. Pour ½ of chocolate batter in bundt pan. Top with cream cheese mixture. Top with remaining cake batter.
Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until your tester comes out clean. Cool well before further cooling on wire rack. Do not flip over on wire rack until you are absolutely sure the cake is cool. Turn onto plate and do as you please.

I cut the cake too soon - but it had to be done ... not so bad ...

What I did wrong (I've adjusted the above recipe to reflect my updated changes) - I originally had butter or coconut oil in the filling - that's why the filling has a holey Swiss cheese look; tastes good, but looks silly). I also forgot to add my ice cream - which is my signature touch to all my cakes/cupcakes ... what was I thinking. It still tastes fab, but I'm going to have to make another updated one tomorrow ... all part of my therapy, you know.

October 2, 2009


Haven't felt much like blogging lately.  My mother suffered two falls in one day last week, landing her in the hospital with a broken ankle; complications developed, and she was in ICU for three days. And, now, she is in an extended care facility for rehab until further notice.  Sadly, I've noticed just over the past few days a decline in her memory and thought patterns. I have been told by the medical staff that it's a result of one of her meds, and not to worry -- but I do.

Anyway, I am in great need of therapy - and will be doing a practice cake this afternoon for a friend's upcoming wedding.  Will post later with the results; but the only hint I can give you now is that it's chocolate, merlot, cream cheese and more ... Just have to create the dang recipe first.

September 18, 2009

September Song

So, there's weirdness - as usual - going on in the garden this morning. We've had a cool, dry summer, and everyone is confused as to whether they should keep on keeping on, or pull their blankees up to their chin and snooze until Spring.

In the front yard, my Magic Fountains Delphinium, which always comes way too early and scares me - blooming from March until April - even through ice and frost (it's supposed to bloom in June/July) - has decided to make a repeat foolish appearance, sending up shoots this week, threatening to bloom any day. I warned it this morning that pulling this particular prank in the spring is one thing, but to try it now ... I don't know ... Autumn in Indiana can come swift and biting. She just shrugged, and shot another shoot up in my face. However, this is the first year I actually pruned it after it bloomed ... 'twas an after thought ...

Zinnias are only now climbing up through the wretched butter 'n eggs, and the whole yard just looks like hell! My perennial sunflowers are being their usual bully-like self ... and now Rudy is afraid to walk through the tiny paths because stray cats may jump out at him and send a flea his way.

Today, however, my Mountain Bluett was thick and lush and just showed up as if to say, "well, of course!"

And finally, my green peppers (seedlings planted in May) are only now blooming and sprouting - silly things. They're about 2" long. I'll pray for them. As always, I'm ready to give up on it all.

Maybe I can get some school kids next year to help me with the weeds and haul quik-crete back there to put on my paths ... who knows ... time for some tea and a nap.

September 8, 2009

Zucchini Falafel

This is an amazing dish that reminds me very much of my Blackeyed Pea Fritters. It's a terrific end of summer dish! Hats off to cookalmostanything!
Zucchini Falafel

September 4, 2009

By Request Zucchini Pie

Don't forget your zucchini!
Once again, it's that time of year when we have so much zucchini. Either we are buying it, growing it, or inheriting it from friends and neighbors ... what to do with it? By request, I've been asked to provide more veggie recipes. So, I found it on wholeliving.com -- I think this is SCRUMPTIOUS!

Serves 6

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound (about 2 or 3) green zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 scallions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound (about 2 or 3) yellow zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup freshly chopped dill
1/4 cup freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
5 large eggs plus 5 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tomato, thinly sliced
2 ounces low-fat feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add green zucchini, half the scallions, half the garlic, A teaspoon marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini has softened and is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

Rinse skillet; repeat process with yellow zucchini and remaining teaspoon olive oil, scallions, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Transfer to bowl with cooked green zucchini; let sit until cooled. Drain and discard any liquid.

Add dill, parsley, and eggs to zucchini; stir to combine. Pour into a 9 1/2-inch round, deep baking dish. Cover with tomato; sprinkle with feta. Bake until set, about 1 hour. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Backseat Boogie or Wedding Night Punch

I was introduced to this fantastic cocktail just the other day. It is sparkling, refreshing and absolutely delicious. Here, at the end of the summer, it will be perfect to sip on while luxuriating in the backyard, as well as a pleasant surprise in the upcoming fall season.

1 oz Absolut® vodka
1 oz gin
1 part ginger ale
1 part Ocean Spray® cranberry juice

Pour vodka and gin over ice in a collins glass. Fill with equal parts of ginger ale and cranberry juice. Garnish with fruit, and serve.

September 2, 2009

This Morning's Gift

Today, I ventured out into the garden with my tea. This is the time of the year when the garden acts up, become belligerent and aggressive; bees hover and quarrel, trying to sneak in the back door; birds begin to argue over the thistle and coneflower seeds; and the zinnias I so diligently broadcast in the spring, barely get through the nasty Butter 'n Egg weeds I so hate and STILL can't get rid of! Weeds are everywhere, blocking my path. My favorite Queen Anne's Lace is beginning to fade, and my roses are finally deciding to wake up and give a booming encore - sometimes this performance lasts well into November. Considering how cold and damp the summer's been, I doubt if they make it through September.

But this morning, I noticed my morning glories aren't there, and in their place is a lovely Moon Flower. I planted the seeds together, hoping they would compliment each other by overlapping their morning and evening bloom times. But, it seems the Moon Flower actually beat Morning Glory at her game, and took over. This bloom is close to 4" in diameter, and stays around til almost lunch time. She's hot, and she knows it!

August 26, 2009

Lemon Drop Bread

Gracious, gracious, good gracious! I have to try this soon - Already bought the lemon drops at the dollar store!

Lemon Drop Bread

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Easy Tomato Basil Bisque

Another soup, and it's still August? Sure. Tomato Basil Bisque is the perfect soup to have on a warm, hot or chilly day - all of which we here in Indiana are experiencing this August. With the weather being so unpredictable this year, this soup offers us some comfort. It's refreshing, light, and very, very tasty. Perfect with a salad and sourdough bread with pesto!

3 cups peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1. In blender container combine tomatoes, vegetable or chicken broth, and tomato sauce. Cover and blend until smooth. Stir in basil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 4 side-dish servings.

This recipe is from Better Homes & Gardens

My Greek Chicken Soup

This is a delicious and savory dish that is both warm and wholesome; it's a great soup to serve to company as a main dish with some nice cheesy bread - a soothing comfort food with a kick!

I love chicken soup, and it is a hearty staple in my home. My grandmother used to make a chicken soup that had every vegetable and flavor imaginable all in one pot. She even left the bones in the soup, as most of the good flavor and nutrients came from the marrow. This soup is warm and satisfying any time of the year

Greek Chicken Soup

1/4 c olive oil
1/4 tsp celery salt
2 tbsps sambuca liqueur
2 quarts chicken broth
2 medium carrots, sliced
½ cabbage shredded
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp sliced fresh garlic
8-10 tbsps crumbled feta cheese (optional)
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
3 c washed & sliced fresh spinach
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 c shredded cooked chicken
2 c cooked wild rice
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 tsp crushed peppercorns

In a large saucepan, sauté the carrots, cabbage, celery, onion, green and red bell peppers and garlic in oil over medium heat or flame until vegetables are tender.

Add the Sambuca and lemon juice, then sauté about five minutes. Add the broth, chicken, peppercorns, hot pepper sauce, white pepper, celery salt & spinach. Simmer for 20 minutes before adding the cooked rice. Once you have 'bowled' everything up, you can garnish each bowl with a tablespoon of cheese.

August 23, 2009

Winter Sowing - My Secret Passion

Several years ago, I discovered a process called winter sowing, wherein you actually plant seeds (winter soltice is a popular day), outside in the snow, in little containers - anything from milk jugs, foil carry out containers, margarine tubs, etc., and you get the most incredible strong, sturdy and lush plants in the Spring. The thing is, like anything in nature, it is hit and miss; sometimes they work, often they do not. Most of my rugosa roses were sown this way, as were a lot of my perennials.

That darn Butter n' Eggs is still strangling everything in my old rose bed, and I'm ticked off about that ... sorry to vent

Anyway, click on the link above, and it tells how to do this. You can also do some vegetables this way.

The thing is, you save tons of money on plants - no need to pay for seedlings/plants; this helps relieve your mid-winter gardening itch; and in the Spring, you're ahead of the game.

Whatever you do, DO NOT BRING THESE CONTAINERS INSIDE, REGARDLESS HOW COLD, HOW MUCH SNOW, HOW MUCH ICE OR WIND YOU GET! The process is a hardening off thingee - my technical term - but, you will be amazed at the results. Rule of thumb; perennials true to your zone will work; annuals that reseed in your area will work. Annuals, are often not sown until the end of Feb. or early March.

The photo above is NOT mine, it belongs to Kasmira, of cinticapecod.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html Please check out her Cincinnati-Cape Cod Blog - It's delightful!

Fuzzy Navel Shotcakes

Went to a party last night for a small group of friends, about 375 of us, and made little 'shotcakes' ... Once again, I forgot to take pictures!!!

Fuzzy Navel Shotcakes

1 Box Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix
3 Jumbo Eggs
1/4 C Oil
Substitute Tampico Peach Punch for Water (per measurements on box)
1/4 C Peach Tree Schnapps
1 Pkg. Orange Jello (any cheap-azz brand will do)
1 Tub Blended Peach Yogurt

Combine all ingredients and pour into paper lined muffin tins (mini size for shots). Bake at 350 degrees for - here's the crazy part - about 10-12 minutes for shot size - you'll have to check it, and because there's so much stuff in here, the toothpick test may deceive you. Trial and Error here - sorry.

While still hot out of the oven, pierce the tops of each cake with a sharp knife. Top with Glaze (make the glaze while they are baking).

Glaze = 1 Jar Orange Marmalade & 1/4 C Peach Tree Schnapps

Then let the cupcakes cool on a rack. Once they are cool you add the icing. Icing? Yes, icing - I omitted the icing yesterday because of the dampness and humidity; didn't think they'd hold up well outdoors, so I just left stopped with the glaze.


1/2 lb Butter
10 level Tablespoon Crisco
1 can Eagle Brand Milk*
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Peach Tree Schnapps

Butter should be room temp.
Beat Butter and Crisco together until creamy (Do NOT use butter flavored Crisco)
Add the Eagle Brand Milk, beat on high till creamy.
Add Powdered Sugar and Schnapps, beat 3 more minutes

Dump into a strong ziplock back and cut a tiny corner off one end. Squeeze to pipe a circular pattern on cupcake, leaving a tiny bit of glaze peeking in the center.

*Just a note, if any recipe calls for Eagle Brand Milk, it's not an advertisement; there's a reason, and I don't know what it is, but some recipes, i.e., NY Cheesecake, etc., will not come out right unless you use Eagle Brand - go figure.

(Keep in mind; I tweak all my recipes, and rarely do them the same way twice) Depending on your oven, you may have to experiment with cooking times because the tiny cupcakes do NOT bake the same way as the standard size; which, I believe would serve this particular cupcake better. The concentration of sugar from the cake and the liqueur may be a bit much for everyone's tastes. Enjoy Y'all ...

August 21, 2009

A Mid-August Friday in the Garden

What's winding down? Everything - But wonder of wonders, my early blooming (spring) Delphinium Magic Fountains are coming back again!
But, today, I found blue petunias, Casa Blanca Lilies and Seafoam Roses with Queen Anne's Lace; I expect all of these to hang around until the first serious frost comes to town.

August 19, 2009

Easy Summer Pies

These are my favorite (easy) SUMMER PIES!

Topless Blueberry/Blackberry Pie
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pinch salt
1 cup water
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh blackberries
1 tablespoon butter
1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water and 1 cup of mixed berries. Cook and stir over medium heat, until thick, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
Add butter and let cool about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining berries.
Pour into baked pie shell and cool in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours.

Easy Limeade Pie
1 (6 ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 ounce) frozen container nondairy whipped topping (Cool Whip, etc.), thawed
1 graham cracker crust

Mix limeade (may substitute lemonade concentrate) and sweetened condensed (not evaporated) milk in a large bowl. Fold in whipped topping. Pour filling into graham cracker crust. Place in freezer 2 to 3 hours
This is a really cool pie for hot summer months; not the same as a Key Lime pie, but so refreshing!

August 16, 2009

Fried Chicken Like You Know Who's

Do you ever get a taste for something that you just have to have? I mean, like in the middle of the night? Let me clarify; you just have to have it, in the middle of the night, and you don't live in an area where everything or anything is open late? The other night I wanted some fried chicken; not deli chicken, and certainly not my fried chicken; I've never been able to master that. I ended up doing oven fried, which was okay, and definitely healthier. The truth is, I had a jones for some KFC. No such luck at 2 a.m. In my town, no such luck after 8:45 p.m.

The other morning, while on my usual walk through the web, I googled fried chicken recipes, and low and behold, on Cooks.com, I found the following recipe for fried chicken that tastes just like KFC - So it says. I have not tried it yet. Remember, I'm not a good chicken frier.

Why don't you try it, and get back to me with your results?


2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup flour
3/4 cup fine bread crumbs
1 tsp. Knorr chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (not salt)
1/4 tsp. onion powder (not salt)
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/3 tsp. Bell Seasoning or pinch ground sage
1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
2 large cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. Wondra flour
additional flour for separate pre-coating
5-6 cups non-hydrogenated Crisco or peanut oil
1 frying chicken, cut in pieces

Safety Warning: A special pressure fryer is the only type of pressure cooker that you can fry in safely. Read your manufacturer's instructions before frying in a pressure cooker. If you don't have your instruction manual, then prepare this chicken in a regular deep fryer.
Pour the oil into the pressure fryer or deep pan suitable for frying, and then heat over medium heat to about 360 degrees.

In a small bowl beat the egg, milk, and soy sauce, then stir in 1/2 tsp. Knorr chicken bouillon (save the other 1/2). Put the garlic cloves through a garlic press and add into the egg mixture. Add half of the parsley and 1 tablespoon Wondra flour. Stir well.

In a separate bowl, combine the 1 cup flour and the bread crumbs, and the remaining ingredients. Mix well with a fork.

Put about 1/2 cup additional flour in a separate small bowl. Use this to dip each chicken piece, prior to dipping in the milk and seasonings.

Roll each piece of chicken around until well covered, first in plain flour, then in milk mixture, then in flour/bread crumbs mixture.

Gently lower the chicken pieces into the hot oil and allow to become a golden color (add the bigger pieces first).

Pressure Fryer:

If you are using a pressure fryer, place the lid on and lock it when the chicken is a very light golden color, usually about 3 minutes. Begin timing when the lid is locked and the gauge indicates a pressure of 5-6 pounds. Bring temperature up immediately and watch carefully (don't walk away!).
Remove from heat after about 7 minutes and reduce pressure following manufacturer's directions. Remove the chicken pieces and place on layers of paper towels. Return the pan to the stove and bring temperature back up and continue until all chicken pieces are fried. If your chicken was too brown, cook the next batch for a minute or so less, and vice-versa if your chicken wasn't browned enough. Do not overload the cooker with too many pieces, as it brings the temperature down too quickly and will cause the pieces to absorb more of the cooking oil than it otherwise would.

Regular Deep Frying:

Fry the chicken at 360-375°F, placing the larger pieces in when the temperature is slightly lower (temperature will drop when pieces are added). Put the smaller pieces in when the temperature is higher, and they will be cooked more quickly. Remove when chicken is golden brown and drain on paper towels.
Cooks Tip: To flavor the oil in this method, you can thickly slice a few large onions and add to the oil before the chicken - skim these out when they are browned, before adding the chicken. It will add an additional layer of flavor to the oil!

Submitted by: CM

August 9, 2009

Fresh Raspberry Cream Cake Recipe @ CDKitchen.com :: it's what's cooking online!

Fresh Raspberry Cream Cake Recipe @ CDKitchen.com :: it's what's cooking online!

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Lady & Lord Baltimore Cakes

Southern weddings were not complete without the gracefully elegant Lady Baltimore Cake, and the Lord Baltimore Cake (possibly for the groom?) There is a history behind both cakes, simply click on the title above for the link. These old classics still reign today!

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
6 egg whites
1/2 cup white sugar

Lady Baltimore Frosting
1/2 cup raisins, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup chopped candied cherries
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9 inch round layer pans.
In a large bowl, cream butter or margarine, 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla together well. Beat until light and fluffy.
Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together in another bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 parts alternating with milk in 2 parts, beginning and ending with flour.
Using clean beaters, beat egg whites in mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually while beating until stiff. Fold whipped egg whites into batter. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until an inserted wooden pick comes out clean. Cool.
To Make Filling: Stir 2 cups Lady Baltimore Frosting, raisins, nuts, cherries, and 2 teaspoons vanilla or sherry all together. Use as filling to spread between layers. Spread remaining frosting on tops and sides of cake.

2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
7 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup crushed macaroon cookies
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds
12 candied cherries, quartered
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9 inch round layer cake pans.
In small bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. In another small mixer bowl beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored; set aside.
In large mixer bowl combine butter and sugar. Beat until very light and fluffy, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolks. With mixer at low speed add dry ingredients alternately with milk and vanilla, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Divide evenly among prepared pans. Spread to edges.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Make Seven Minute Frosting. Remove one third of the Seven Minute Frosting and place it in a mixing bowl with the macaroon crumbs, pecans, almonds, cherries, lemon juice, and orange rind. Fold together until thoroughly blended. Use this mixture as the filling between the three cake layers, and use the remaining 2/3 of the frosting to cover the tops and sides of the cake.

Seven Minute Frosting
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put egg whites, sugar, water and syrup in top of double boiler. Beat until mixed well. Place over rapidly boiling water. Beat constantly with electric beater while it cooks for 7 minutes or until it will stand in peaks when beater is raised. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Beat. Fills and frosts 2 layer cake, 8 or 9 inch
Recipes from http://www.Allrecipes.com


This week, the Hardy Hibiscus are finally beginning to strut their stuff. It's been a fairly cool/damp summer, and I didn't know what to expect. I planted Lord Baltimore, who is red; Lady Baltimore (shown above), big pink and blousy in a small bed with Silver Beacon Lamium, Casablanca lilies and a butterfly bush about five years ago. Now, there is a third one growing in the middle that is pink with a red center ... How do you think THAT happened? I've asked Lord Baltimore, but he just lets his branches languish and spread all over the place, as if he owns it - even reaching across the little path. Lady Baltimore simply blushes and bows gracefully! I love these things!!!

They are so easy to grow, low maintenance. Just let them candelabra all over the place, and in early Spring, cut them back to the ground. The only thing I can't figure out is this huge, woody clump they leave behind when you cut it. I don't know whether to leave it alone, chop it up, or what - it gets bigger each year. This can't be normal; and no one has been able to give me a reasonable explanation on how to care for it. Anyway, I love them, and they love me. I call Lord and Lady's Baby "Pink Diva" ... it's probably a boy ... Oh, well.

Early this summer, Rural King had some of their leftover plants on a clearance rack. These were supposedly water plants for ponds and water gardens. One of them was a Hibiscus moscheutos var. lasiocarpos (native rose mallow a/k/a Marsh or Swamp Mallow or Wild Hibiscus). They are actually hardy, and are supposed to grow near water. It was a cheap boxed plant soaking in water, about 6" tall. Well, I have no water near me, and my garden is lucky to get a drink from the watering can once a week. But, I bought this cute little thing, planted it and forgot it (sounds like an infomercial). Today, I saw the perky thing peeking from behind a butterfly bush. It's now about 12" tall, but very full and lush, and it has the nerve to have a little bud on it. I didn't expect it to survive, let alone bloom in year one. When it does, I'll share a picture. It deserves a place of honor in my garden - anything that survives, gets to stay.

August 7, 2009

A Glory Morning Friday!

Tootsie calls it Fertilizer Friday; I call it Glory Morning Friday - especially in August, when the Morning Glories are in bloom, the Blackeyed Susans have stretched to six feet, and sprawl around like godesses ... and, on an old ladder there's Wave Petunias, Mandevilla, dark Ipomea (ornamental sweet potato vine) finally spread their glory - Thank you, Tootsie for the fertilizing suggestion!

I'd invite you to take a stroll with me through my weird little paradise, but you could lose your way ... Talk to ya soon!

August 6, 2009

Spinach Melon Salad

Sometimes in the early morning hours when I have left Dreamland, I wander the web in search of a delicious new treat. This summer, I've made it a point to try and live healthier and happier. While I have never been diagnosed with diabetes, it seems to be more and more common among people my age (older than 40/younger than 70). However, I am a little familiar with their food plan, and the recipes are beneficial to most anyone seeking a healthier lifestyle -- most are much tastier than I anticipated too.

This morning, I came across this Spinach Melon Salad (a link is provided to give nutritional value - click on the title above).

So, here try this refreshing dish, which can be served as a side salad, appetizer or main dish. And, as always, perfect for the backyard gathering!

8 cup fresh chopped spinach, torn
1 cup Watermelon, fresh, balls
1 cup Melon, honeydew, fresh, balls
1 cup Melon, cantaloupe, fresh, balls
1/3 cup Cucumber, with skin on, fresh, sliced, thinly sliced
1/3 cup red onion, sliced, thinly sliced

Combine spinach with melon balls, cucumber, and onion. Toss with dressing.

Honey Dressing
1/2 oz honey (up to 1 oz)
1 tbsp Vinegar, red wine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp orange juice (up to 2 tbsp)
1 tsp fresh lime juice (up to 2 tsp)
1/2 tsp ground tarragon
2 pinch salt (2-3 dashes)
2 pinch black pepper (2-3 dashes)
3 Whisk together all ingredients and chill until ready to serve.

* How I tweaked it? You know, I added a bit of smoked turkey. Yeah, I know, probably sent the nutritional value off the charts ... But, I could have really done damage if I suggested the smoked barbecue chicken that I wanted to add. You didn't hear that from me ...

August 5, 2009


This divinely sour cocktail speaks for itself - crisp, tart and tantalizing on a summer's night on the back porch:

The Jasmine Cocktail
Combine in an iced cocktail shaker:

1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce Cointreau
1/4 ounce Campari
Shake until very cold. Strain into a cocktail glass.

July 31, 2009

Old Fashioned Tips: Friday Recipes: Peaches

Old Fashioned Tips: Friday Recipes: Peaches

Surprises in the Garden Today

As always, I never know when SURPRISE LILIES are going to pop-up in my garden. I don't even remember planting the one lone bulb that came up four years ago. Today, there are 20 or more, standing proudly among a few Daylilies and Petunias. Across the tiny path is a mound of Blackeyed Susan and Purple Coneflowers, snuggled up in their bed.

End of July Blues

August is almost here, and once again I am faced with the fact that yet again, I've missed the summer. So many life events have occurred in my life this summer, that I was unable to enjoy the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. This week it was damp and rainy; much like October. A warm and hearty meal was in order that would make me think I was at a seaside resort, basking in the sun and being catered to ... hmmm. Here goes:

New England Cod & Scallop Casserole
Makes 4 servings.

1 pint fresh scallops, rinsed and trimmed
1/2 lb. fresh cod
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 can cream of shrimp soup
1 can heavy cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Pepper Jack cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Saute the cod in a little bit of butter, olive oil, salt and pepper until golden. Drain on a paper towel and set aside, reserving butter/oil drippings.
In a shallow saucepan, cover scallops with water, add seasonings, and boil gently until scallops begin to shrivel, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, saving the water, and set scallops aside. In the same pan, add the pan drippings and blend in flour to make a roux; add more butter, if needed. Stir in 1 cup scallop liquid, then the 2 tablespoons of Parmesan + the Pepper Jack + the Cheddar cheeses, soup and the cream. Add scallops and cod and pour into a buttered dish. Top with bread crumbs and the 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.

July 25, 2009

Isn't She Lovely?

Isn’t She Lovely?

The first tomato of the season – well, at least in my garden. I’ve been watching this baby for weeks, and finally decided to pick her this morning. Every year I grow tomatoes in containers – all types of containers, including planters, paint buckets, barrels, old pots, watering cans, even a baby cradle. I do this for a few reasons; one, I don’t dig – ever – so, all of my garden beds are raised beds. I plant via the lasagna method of layering. But, I plant my vegetables in containers above the ground so they are easy for me to tend to, to keep the rabbits, as well as my dog, out. They usually do very well.

This year I was cheap. I crowded two tomato plants and two pepper plants in each planter. I even planted morning glory and sunflower seeds in some of those planters. If you’re even remotely familiar with those two, they both can have tremendous root systems, and the morning glory likes to cuddle a bit too much. But, my little tomato plants thrived; they just would not grow tall. Each plant has approximately five to seven tomatoes. This morning, this little darling was aglow with a deep, rich blush. She winked at me, and said, “Pick me, sweetie …” So, I did.

Do you love tomatoes as much as I do? I can no longer stomach the dull, boring pink mush in the grocery stores. I love the sweet acidic taste of the old fashioned heirloom tomatoes. Don’t ask me what kind this is; I don’t know. The seedling was given to me as a gift. The fruit is small; but slightly larger than a cherry tomato.

Imagine the possibilities of a luscious, truly vine-ripe tomato! Since she’s so small, I thought a Tomato Sandwich was in order. So, here are a couple of ideas:

Broiled Tomato Sandwich
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 slice Bermuda onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives, drained
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, divided
4 slices bread, barely toasted
Preheat oven to broil.
Whisk together the oil, onion, vinegar, olives and garlic. Add the tomatoes and let them get to know one another for about an hour, stir them up when needed. In a bowl, blend mayo, parsley, oregano, black pepper and 4 teaspoons Parmesan Reggiano. Spread on each slice of bread, the place marinated tomatoes on 2 slices and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Broil for 5 minutes on a baking sheet until cheese turns golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.

After Work Tomato Sandwich

2 slices of white sandwich bread (the kind your mom put in your lunch box)
2 tablespoons of mayo or salad dressing
3 thick slices of beefsteak tomato
Assemble and Eat Rapidly!

July 23, 2009

DIY: Oil Cloth Dog Raincoat

DIY: Oil Cloth Dog Raincoat

Posted using ShareThis

What a fun and cute project for the cold rainy season ahead!

July 22, 2009


I am told that today is the coldest day on record in Indiana for this date; the high MAY reach 70, and it's been raining since 4 a.m. Cold, damp, nasty, it feels like mid-September ... or worse, October.
But, it's only July, and I want some ribs! After all, it is barbecue season isn't it? I don't have the luxury of a covered patio (my little peach tree is not quite big enough to give shelter and shade yet), so grilling out in the rain just isn't practical. What do you think about some stay-inside-ribs; done in the oven? Yeaaaahhhh!
Well, here's an oldie, but definitely goody ... remember The Joy of Cooking? This recipe was adapted from that good old book. I found it on RecipeZaar, and of course, I re-adapted it to my taste. This is what we call, "Bonin'" ...


4 lbs country-style pork ribs
1 1/2 cups favorite barbecue sauce
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1 vidalia onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped (NOT minced, so don't go mincin' any)
1 tsp habanero sauce
1/4 cup bourbon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Arrange ribs in 9x13 baking dish and top with sliced onions.
Whisk together BBQ sauce, habanero sauce, and pomegranate and orange juices, bourbon and garlic, and pour sauce over ribs and onions.
Cover dish tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil and bake for three hours.
uncover, increase oven temp to 350 degrees and bake for one hour longer, turning once after 30 minutes.
Remove ribs to a warm platter, cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
Spoon fat off the sauce and serve with the ribs.

Now Bone!

July 20, 2009

Maupin Roots Growing in My Garden

I almost forgot, about five years ago I found a new rose bush called Hopie Girl - it's the only one that has been faithful in my garden. It's not very big, pale yellow, and always there for me! I planted her in honor of the grandmother I never knew. I bet she looked like this rose!

HOPIE GIRL HYBRID TEA ROSE: A NEW CERTIFIED ROSE - An ever changing yellow that opens to a deep yellow and blushes to a soft cream. Flowers have up to 40 petals and a light fragrance with good disease resistance. Hopie Girl is a non phototropic exhibition Hybrid tea. With proper pruning it can easily reach well over 6 feet in warmer climates. Fall is the best time of year for this rose.

Maupin Roots Can't Die

Something amazing happened to me this past Saturday. Well, first, let me back up; there's some history here. I often refer to my late stepfather as my Dad, because that's what he was/is to me. My birth father left my mother when I was five years old, and although through the years, she and my family never spoke ill of him - in front of me, I knew there was resentment -- I often wondered about him. Comments were made like, "you're just like your father!" ... "you're as stubborn as a Missouri Mule! (his birthplace)" ... "You look like the Maupins, you look just like your father" All of these things were true, but still I wondered where he was and how he lived. He was a career military man, and I would dream he was off in some faraway land, taking romantic war photos. All I knew was his name was Bill Maupin and his mother's name was Hopie, who supposedly lived in a small house with a garden and chickens, right in the center of the campus of the University of Missouri. I never met Hopie, but always dreamed of what my fraternal grandmother was like; I had no clue! My father was clearly ashamed of his past, and did not like to talk about it. One amusing story I recollect was of Hopie mailing my mother some eggs from her chickens - just mailed them - my father was so embarrassed and angry, he grabbed the box and stuffed the mess in the trash. When I heard the story, the family laughed about it; I, on the other hand, thought it was a very tender and thoughtful act.

I found my father in a very unusual situation. It seems, I had a brother; a real live brother. You have to know, I was raised as an only child in an extended household in Queens, NY. This home consisted of my mother and I (and my father, when he was still there), my maternal grandparents, and my Aunt Thelma, my mother's sister, who had an apartment upstairs. It never occurred to me that I had a sibling. Ray Maupin is my older half brother. In 1974, he came into my life, announced that he was my brother, and he had been looking for me most of his adult life. There was no disputing his claim, because he looked and acted just like me! He also looked and acted exactly like my father, Bill. Ray said my father was in a VA hospital in Manhattan and wanted to see me. It was up to him to bring us together. Reluctantly, I went to see him. The reunion was the most awkward, bittersweet thing I've ever imagined. The 6'5" cigar chewing man was strangely the way I remembered the last time I'd seen him 15 years earlier. Finally, I was able to look into that face that everyone said was mine. No doubt, true enough. I was his.
Over the years, I wondered what this reunion would be like; I always knew it would come. I thought I'd seen him countless times in the subway, driving to the beach or in a store. And, once in the audience of a theatre where I was onstage briefly for one night - I caught a glimpse of a man I believed to be him. I imagined I would be angry, bitter. I really wasn't -- I was curiously unfeeling, and experienced an odd feeling of power, peering down into the face of the man I once called "Daddy," aging before my eyes -- a man begging for the love and affection of his daughter, yet still bathed in the arrogant cavalier manner he was known for. Yep, I was just like him, and he was now 60, and I was 20.
I also learned of a sister who lived with her mother Willa Belle Scott, in Detroit. Virginia (a/k/a "Ginger"), also older than I, was born with brain damage and had some mental disabilities. Gazing at photos of her (Ray had archived everything he knew about us, and brought albums), I again looked into my face. My heart held four solid lumps, one for me, one for my father, one for Ray and then Ginger. Who were we, and where did we come from?
Oddly enough, the first person I called back home in Indiana to tell about my discovery was my "Dad" - my stepdad, Lewis Poindexter. He and I had a rocky start when my mother married him. I was 14, he was 33, at the time, and the culture shock of moving from NYC to rural Indiana was just ridiculous! But, he's the one I reached out to and told. When I moved back to Indiana, a few years later, he took me to Ponderosa for steak, and we talked about Bill. That is when my bond with my "Dad" was cemented.
Over the next year, I forged a relationship with Bill, although I felt it was strained, I wanted him in my life. But the year with him was weird. He would take me places, buy me things, and frequently had me over to his apartment that he shared with his new common law wife named Doris, and a very nasty Dalmation named Gaylord, who liked to pee off of their 25th floor balcony to the street below. Doris was very nice; but I kept feeling she was in the way. My feelings for Bill were twisted and warped. One minute I loved him; the next I was angry for him leaving us; and sometimes I was cruel in my thoughts, trying to see what I could get from him to make up for the past. Of course, you can't make the past up; it's simply that, the past. Gone forever.
On my 21st birthday, he gave me 21 silver dollars, and Doris loaned me a mink stole to take on a cruise with my Aunt Thelma. As usual, he acted as if nothing had changed; as if he had been there all those years. I asked him about Hopie, but he would never answer me.
At some point during the year, he moved to Kansas to live near Ray. I did not realize my father was dying. He suffered from narcolepsy all his life, and even exhibited it when he was with me, falling asleep at stoplights, in the middle of conversations. At the VA Hospital at Ft. Leavenworth, he was diagnosed with brain cancer, where he died in October of 1975.
It was then that my heart began an overhaul. This is when the true anger, resentment and bitterness began to swell inside. I only had him for one year!
Ray tried so hard to remain in touch with me, calling, visiting, sending cards and pictures of his many children. But, it was hard for me. I was afraid of reconnecting, and perhaps losing again. He often asked me about our family; if I knew anything. I knew nothing. And, eventually I lost touch with Ray. I tried often to find him, but never could. Every now and then I would "google" his name or Bill's name; even Hopie's name - looking for a clue ... nothing.

This past Saturday, I googled my father's name one last time, and an unusual link popped up. It was from a post on Rootsweb.com. Apparently, there had been a Maupin reunion last year. I sent an email and asked if anyone knew anything about my family. And wonders of wonders, I received a message back within the hour. A gentleman named "W.A.", from Kansas City, had a "bit of information" ... All I wanted to know was Hopie's name and perhaps my grandfather's. What Mr. "A" advised me (so far) has been mind blowing!
Hopie Ramsey Maupin (my grandmother), b. 1887, married William H. Maupin on Dec. 23, 1911. They had three children; George, b. 1905; Julia, b. 1913; and William (my father), b. 1914.
Hopie had a brother named Henry Wright Ramsey, b. 1872, who never married, and died of liver cancer in 1926. They are the children of Martha Wright Ramsey, b. 1832.
Martha (my great grandmother) was married to Jerry Ramsey. She died on June 11, 1930 from complications from Bronchial Asthma (a condition I have suffered from since birth). Martha Ramsey was the daughter of Melinda Jameson (my great great grandmother), possibly (1808-1850), a slave.

Apparently, Mr. "A" is an expert on the Maupin family, as he himself is a Maupin as well - only he is Caucasian. He explained that most of the Black Maupins did not survive, and he has been interested in that branch of the family for decades. He started climbing the family tree in the 70's. He also also advised that he had found a death certificate for a man named "Boston Maupin," but cannot find any links to him. He somehow keeps thinking he is my ancestor. If this is the case, Ray and I are the missing links - Boston may have been a freed slave, and it is likely that Maupin was the owner's surname.

A couple of years ago a young soldier was missing in Iraq by the name of Keith "Matt" Maupin. I remember how I kept staring at his picture, and once again, I saw my face ... only, he, like Mr. "A", was Caucasian. But, I know deep inside, somewhere, we shared the same blood. When his remains were finally found, I cried for days.
Mr. "A" is continuing on his search to help me find and know where I come from, and I continue to search for Ray and his family. I know this story isn't all that interesting to everyone. We all have our journeys. But, in light of things happening in my life lately -- all the sadness, depression and frustrations, etc. This news has brought so much happiness and relief to me. Saturday was a great, great day!
And the plot thickens ...

July 16, 2009

a bit more sunshine

Well, Angelica was 21 on Tuesday. We had a lovely time on Sunday with a fun gathering around the kitchen table with loads of treats, gourmet snacks and a fabulous Italian Chocolate Mousse Cake!!!! However, my cupcakes were also a hit (all the young girls thought they'd be less fattening than the chocolate ... yeah, right!). I ended up making 21 Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes.

The recipe is so simple. It starts with Duncan Hines Lemon (Supreme) Cake Mix. Instead of water, to the batter, I added a cup of (thawed) Frozen Lemonade Concentrate; 3 jumbo eggs; oil and a bit of lemon zest, and a tablespoon of Raspberry Jell-O, swirled in the batter to form a marble effect. The frosting was simply Duncan Hines Lemon (Supreme) Frosting, blended with 2 tablespoons of Lemon Jell-O and 2 tablespoons of Raspberry Jell-O - blend with a fork to give a marbleised effect. The frosting was piped around the edge of the cupcake, topped with a large, fresh raspberry. I have to admit, it was bliss!

Her surgery on Wednesday went "well" ... it's a matter of wait and see, but she's strong, optimistic and so very lovely! Will post pics soon.

July 8, 2009

sunlight in the rain

I have a stepdaughter who will be 21 on the 14th of July. On the 15th of July, she will be facing surgery for cancer - not her first. We will celebrate her birthday with a party on Sunday, and I will be taking her cupcakes; I don't know what else to do ... in the midst of the morning rain today, I saw this; this lemon yellow orienpet (lily) that has not bloomed in two summers. Think I'll make her lemon cupcakes. Who wouldn't want that?

June 28, 2009

The garden this morning ...

Well, I guess these photos are a true indication that I need to break down, somehow, and get/use a real camera, and stop using my cell phone to take pics. But, this is what's going on in my garden this morning. Lots of container plants this year; tomatoes, peppers, petunias, nicotiana, etc.

Church Lady Iced Tea Punch

I don't know what made me think of this ... perhaps, because it's a hot, summer Sunday morning. Thinking of church picnics; teas and socials in the steamy church basement with paper fans from the funeral homes ...
But, this is good punch - for any event on a hot summer's day.

Church Lady Ice Tea Punch Recipe
They served this amazing punch all of the time at our last church - it's a grown up punch, no sherbet or floaty things in this one! by HeidiRenee
3 liters ginger ale
1 cup iced tea mix powder
Pour dry cup of Iced Tea Mix into bottom of punch bowl.
Add 3 liters of Ginger Ale.
Add bag of ice.
Enjoy - it's really amazing and refreshing!

June 24, 2009

On Date Pudding, and Remembering a Friend

In Loving Memory of Constance Sue Williams Griffin
May 6, 1954 - June 19, 2009

Today, we buried our friend, Connie Sue. None of us were prepared for this, none of us expected it, none of us believe it. Yet, we all know, this is what happens to all of us - the one thing that binds us all eternally - is death.
Funerals are odd occurrences. These are times when we run into old friends, forgotten pasts, and for a few moments during the midst of our sadness and grief, after the funeral, after the burial, we gather and break bread ... we enjoy time together - a few laughs to ease our pain - and, we break some more bread together.
Today, it was DATE PUDDING! One of our friends made it. A crazy rich taste, we were all giddy with side splitting laughter, indulging in the rich, rich, decadence of the pudding. Before we parted, Sharon asked, "Do you have this recipe?" No one really did, but I promised I would find one before day's end. And, I did - courtesy of Stop The Ride, a cool blog I stumbled across. This is Stephanie's Grandmother's marvelous recipe. Enjoy! Be kind to one another, remember and cherish your friends, and TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! You're (really) all you've got ... http://www.stoptheride.net/2007/10/amish-date-pudding.html

Grandma Erma's Upside Down Date Pudding
To 1 C chopped dates add 1 C boiling water and set aside.
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp salt
2 TB butter
1 tsp. baking soda
1 C chopped nuts
1/2 C white sugar
Blend sugars, egg and butter. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in nuts and dates. Pour into 11x7 baking dish.

Top with this sauce:
1-1/2 C brown sugar
1 TB butter
1-1/2 C boiling water
Pour over top of flour mixture. Bake at 375 F for 40 minutes. When cool cut into squares. In a large bowl, layer cake with whipped cream (homemade is best) and bananas. Use a clear bowl to do your layering, if you can. It makes it pretty.

Personal Note: I'd top the whole thing with REAL whipped cream ...

June 22, 2009

Hip, Hip, Rhubarb!

My Aunt Jeanne made a pie; a rhubarb pie. You’re probably wondering what’s the big deal? Well, as long as I’ve known Aunt Jeanne, she has been on a quest for the perfect pie crust. Her mother-in-law made a magnificent crust that has never been matched – perhaps, until now. Over the years, we’ve tasted and sampled pies that Aunt Jeanne baked, but she always said, “If only I could get that crust just like Harriett’s …” We all thought her pies were great, but Jeanne was not to be dissuaded. My fondest memory of Aunt Jeanne and pies was the precision in which she cut them. One Christmas I watched in amazement as she cut a pecan pie into 15 equal pieces to serve everyone. What began as a joke became family legend.
Back to the rhubarb pie. We were celebrating my uncle’s birthday when Aunt Jeanne announced that we should save room for desert because she had made birthday pie. By the gleam in her eyes, I knew there was something special about this pie. I’m not a rhubarb fan; but I decided to see what the hullabaloo was all about. We all waited anxiously in the backyard while we knew she was inside cutting her pie into 9 perfect slices. But, first, she brought it out to present to us, and with pride, she announced she had reached her pie-making summit, and had her perfect crust! Served with vanilla ice cream, there was silence in the garden as the pie was sampled, and Jeanne waited for the results. Suddenly, there was a burst of jubilee as my uncle led the cheer, “Hip, Hip Hooray, Hip, Hip, Hooray, Hip, Hip, Rhubarb!”
I did not eat a piece of pie that night, and now I’m sorry. Afterwards, I left to ponder what I don’t like about rhubarb. Really, there’s no reason. I used to love it. What had rhubarb ever done to me? Driving down the road, I crossed a railroad track, and a big clump of it sat there staring at me as if I were a criminal. I began to think about rhubarb, and what its purpose was here on earth, besides one great pie I missed out on.
A perennial vegetable from the buckwheat family, I learned rhubarb is native to China and Tibet, and is a high source of Vitamin C. There are dozens of varieties, and it is eaten raw by people in Iraq and Turkey. Wild, European Rhubarb is used for wrapping cheese and pigs love its rhizomes. Himalayan Rhubarb can grow to 7’ tall and has beautiful blossoms.
Rhubarb can be made into a laxative tea, homemade paper, wine, hair coloring, and countless baked goods. It can remove burns on pots and pans. I found the following recipe, and since rhubarb can be frozen, it would make a wonderful dish any time of the year. The salsa can be used to accompany a variety of dishes.

Glazed Roast Lamb with Rhubarb Salsa
1 Leg of lamb (4-6 lbs) Boned and rolled 3 Tbsp Honey 1 tsp Garlic salt 1/4 tsp Ground pepper 2 tsp Red wine vinegar
Rhubarb Salsa
1 C Chopped onions 2/3 C Dark or golden raisins 1/2 C Honey 2 Tbsp Red wine vinegar 4 tsp Chopped Jalapeno pepper 2 Cloves garlic, minced 1/2 tsp Ground cardamom 6 C Fresh or frozen sliced Rhubarb (1-1/2 lbs)

LAMB: Combine the 3 tablespoons honey, garlic salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Place meat on rack in roasting pan; brush with glaze mixture. Roast in 325 degree oven for two to four hours or until desired doneness (150 degrees for medium rare or 160 degrees for medium), brushing occasionally with glaze mixture.

Salsa: In a large saucepan, combine the onions, raisins, honey, vinegar, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and cardamom. Stir in rhubarb. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 min., stirring as little as possible. Uncover and simmer for 5 min. to reduce the liquid a bit. Stir only if necessary to prevent scorching. Set aside. Serve at room temperature as accompaniment to sliced roast lamb. The recipe is from: http://food.sulekha.com

Next time, I won’t decline a slice of that pie.

June 17, 2009

Dinner Tonight

For dinner tonight, I'm doing a simple macaroni salad. Cook your pasta in salted water, and drain/rinse. Dice celery, onions, stoplight peppers, and blend with pasta. Toss in a pound of large cooked shrimps (remove their clothes, please ...) Then, to the mayonnaise - mayonnaise, I said, NOT Miracle Whip - add Pesto or Thai Green or Red Chili Paste ... Blend, chill and enjoy.

The Parrot Flower

My cousin, Stormy sent me an amazing email today. It contained the above pictures, and the very simple message:

Who, But God, Could Create This?

This is a flower from Thailand . It is also a protected species and not allowed to be exported. This will be the only way we will be able to view this flower.

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot
A simple garden meal in the shade. No, it's not my backyard, but it looks identical to the one I grew up with at our home in Queens. Looking for an original pic of it to post soon!

Old Fashioned Tips