Friday, September 23, 2016

Halloween Gets Devil Sauce and a Soul Fondue

I have a charming small cookbook entitled The Gourmet Fondue Cookbook by B. Arthur Paull. This cookbook was written in the 70s during the Fondue craze. It was sold at Fante's here in Philly.

I am bringing Fondue back for my private little Halloween Party.  Mr. Paull's recipes are not long on quantities and procedure. They are terse. I produce them verbatim. The intrepid Foody will not be deterred. These two are adventurous and very good.

This is a savory Fondue in which the bits of food (chunks of bread, shrimp, cheese, tofu, veggies etc.) are individually cooked by the diner.

Soul Fondue

1/2 cup pureed Chicken Liver
1 minced Onion
1 teaspoon Cayenne
1/4 cup Brandy
1/2 cup Butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1/2 cup Cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt to taste.

Pan fry onion in butter. Add flour and stir fry 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, salt, cayenne, Worcestershire, chicken liver and cream. Stir constantly for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Add brandy.

Devil Sauce

Combine tomato sauce, vinegar, sugar, horseradish and garlic. Pour into a serving dish, cover and chill.

Mrs. Austine Sutton's Cider Sauce

“Up until Prohibition, an apple grown in America was far less likely to be eaten than to wind up in a barrel of cider. (“Hard” cider is a twentieth-century term, redundant before then since virtually all cider was hard until modern refrigeration allowed people to keep sweet cider sweet.)”
Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

Mrs. Austine Sutton's Cider Sauce for Ham or Pork Dishes

3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 tablspoon Corn Starch
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves
1 cup Apple Cider
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

Thoroughly mix Sugar, Corn Starch, Salt and Spices together. Stir in the Cider and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring all the time. Remove from heat. Let mixture cool until it is thick and clear. Then stir in Lemon Juice. It is then ready to serve.

This recipe comes from Simpson-Fletcher's Soul Food Recipes.

Roasted Pumpkin Guts

I am seeing beautiful pumpkins in the market so I am doing this again. Note: you can roast the seeds of any hard Winter squash.

When I was a child, you could buy a box of roasted Indian Brand Pumpkin Seeds at the corner candy store. The box the seeds came in had a beautiful illustration of an American Indian in full Chief's headdress.

When you get done carving that pumpkin for Halloween or just to make a pie, you can roast your own pumpkin seeds. Roasted pumpkin seeds are so good.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 and 1/2 cups raw whole Pumpkin Seeds
2 teaspoons Butter, melted
Pinch Salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally.

This recipe comes from - for my money the best recipe site on the net. Cooks share their variations on the recipe and their opinions of the recipe's quality.

Cooks also share practical tips for recipe execution like this tip below. There are a lot of creative cooks in the world. This tip is from Valerie's Kitchen.

If you've never roasted pumpkin seeds before here are my tips. When you carve your pumpkins scoop the seeds into a colander and the guts onto newspaper. Inevitably some of the guts will be mixed in with the seeds but when you run water over them it's separated out pretty easily. After you drain the rinsed seeds, pour them onto a large, dry cookie sheet and let them sit for 24 hours or so to dry out. Now you can pick out the remaining pieces of pumpkin stuff that didn't get pulled out earlier and they will roast better if they are not wet when they go in the oven. My family prefers them seasoned with garlic salt in place of regular salt but you can use whatever suits your taste. So good!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sacred Gardens

I must make amends for my long absence, Cher Readers. I have been recovering from a bad fall. I offer you a look at the work of a Sculptor, Gardener and Mystic. I think, given the beauty of the work, I will consider myself forgiven.
Gardens and how we honor the Divine. I have taken the challenge of doing industrial strength Gardening, I see it from every angle. Being a Sculptor, I have created what I believe to be living spaces where Earth is as Important as the work.
Please visit my instagram feed at @jkott333.
A Story of Healing 

Date Pie

This Pie recipe comes from Simpson-Fletcher's Soul Food Recipes. Seems like the perfect Pie for Winter when there is no fresh native Fruit.

Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East and the Indus Valley for thousands of years. Date Palms are believed to have originated around Iraq, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE.

Miss Melvina Price's Date Pie

1 cup chopped Dates
3/4 cup of Sugar
2 Eggs, separated
1/2 cup chopped Pecans
1 cup Butter
1/4 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 unbaked Pie Crust

Cream Butter and Sugar together until light and fluffy. Add beaten Egg Yolks. Blend in milk. Beat well. Stir in Pecans and Dates. Beat Egg Whites until stiff. and fold into the Date mixture. Bake at 350 degrees until set and browned. This Pie is good served with Whipped Cream, Ice Cream, or Custard Sauce.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Zucchini Bread and Butter Pickles

I love Bread and Butter Pickles. I have always made them made with Cucumber. This is the perfect recipe for those who have so many Zucchini in the garden that the neighbors refuse to take anymore and hide when they see you coming. 
The origin of the name and the spread of their popularity in the United States is attributed to Omar and Cora Fanning, a pair of Illinois cucumber farmers who started selling sweet and sour pickles in the 1920s and filed for the trademark Fanning's Bread and Butter Pickles in 1923 (though the recipe and similar ones are probably much older). The story attached to the name is that the Fannings survived rough years by making the pickles with their surplus of undersized cucumbers and bartering them with their grocer for staples such as bread and butter. - wikipedia
Zucchini Bread and Butter Pickles 

1 large Onion, sliced 1/8 inch thick
6 cups small Zucchini, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1/4 cup Salt
2 cups Cider Vinegar
1 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon Celery Seed
1 teaspoon Mustard Seed 

Place the Zucchini and Onion in a large bowl. Salt thoroughly.  Cover and leave overnight. Combine all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Add Zucchini and Onions  to the pickling brine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Pack pickles into hot sterilized pint jars. Fill jars to 1/2 inch of the top with pickling brine and seal. These pickles make excellent bread and butter sandwiches.

Peanut Butter Pie for National Peanut Day

George Washington Carver was an American botanist and inventor. The exact day and year of his birth are unknown; he was born into slavery in Missouri, either in 1861 or January 1864.

Carver's reputation is based on his research into and promotion of alternative crops to cotton, such as peanuts, soybeans, and sweet potatoes, which also aided nutrition for farm families. The most popular of his 44 practical bulletins for farmers contained 105 food recipes using peanuts.

I found this recipe in Simpson-Fletchers Soul Food Recipes. Thank you, Miss Moore for saving it for us. 

Miss Agnes Moore's Peanut Butter Pie a la Carver

1 1/4 cups Chocolate Cookie crumbs
1/4 cup white Sugar
1/4 cup Butter

1 (8 ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Confectioners Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping Cream
1 cup creamy Peanut Butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine Cookie Crumbs, Sugar, and Butter; and then press into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes and cool.
In a mixing bowl, beat Cream Cheese, 1 cup Sugar, and Vanilla until smooth. Then beat in the Peanut Butter in small amounts until well mixed. Whip the cream and gently fold into the peanut butter mixture. Spoon filling into crust. Garnish pie with chocolate or cookie crumbs if desired. Refrigerate for several hours or freeze (best choice) before serving.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pickle Soup

Polish people love pickles. We use crushed pickle puree to season dishes like sauteed mushrooms. We even make Pickle Soup.

You can find many Pickle Soup recipes on the Net. This recipe comes from Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans published in 1948 by the Polanie Club.

It would be silly to publish a Pickle Soup recipe without publishing a recipe for Polish Dill Pickles. They are delicious and easy to make. So look for that to be posted next. I have three volunteer cucumber plants. So I will be making lots of pickles.

Babcia is translated as GrandMother.  My Babcia made Pickle Soup at Easter with the broth left from cooking the kielbasa for the cold breakfast that breaks the Easter fast. I wondered for years how she got that unique savory flavor. And then I found my vintage Polish cookbook.

I have to make this. If you, Cher Reader, make it before I do, let me know how it goes. I will update.


3 large Dill Pickles
3 tablespoons Butter
Meat or Vegetable Stock
1 cup Sour Cream
2 tablespoons Flour

Slice the Pickles and saute in Butter and Flour until thoroughly wilted. Add the Stock and simmer slowly for half an hour. Strain and add the Sour Cream. Serve with Pierozki.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Texas Weiners

July is National Hot Dog Month.

I am not a sports fan. I am often surrounded by sports fans who, on crucial game days, require sustenance that is easy to make and goes well with beer. Hot dogs are also called wieners. 

I serve Texas Weiners with this sauce and chopped onions. This sauce is HOT so exercise discretion. For a milder sauce, omit the Cayenne Pepper.

This recipe comes from a chef who posted on the old AOL Comfort Food Board named Big Saab Guy. He actually lives in Texas. It will dress about 2 dozen hot dogs. I give it to you as he gave it to the board. You can keep the Sauce and the Hot Dogs warm separately and the sports fanatics can assemble and eat at will. Give lots of napkins.

The sign on the right comes from Plainfield NJ. It hangs on one of the original Texas Weiner joints in business since 1924. The Texas Weiner was actually created by a Greek in Paterson NJ.

Texas Hot Dog Sauce

1 pound finely ground Beef
3 tablespoons Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon White Vinegar
2 cups Water

Very thoroughly brown Beef and drain. You want the pieces to be as small as possible. Really work to break them up as you brown them.

Add the spices and mix well. Add the Water and simmer for one hour, uncovered, stirring often. It should be the consistency of something like tomato soup.

Stir in the Vinegar. Then serve as follows: put a thin smear of Yellow Mustard on both sides of an open hot dog roll, then insert the Hot Dog, then a layer of finely chopped Onion, then drizzle the top with about a tablespoon of the Sauce.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Trashcan Potatoes - Guest Author La Motocycliste

Over the weekend, I tipped over the trashcan, and harvested enough French Fingerling potatoes for a good meal for two.

Growing potatoes in a trashcan is fun and easy. In case you think, "Potatoes are cheap, why do all this work?" price heirloom varieties at Whole Paycheck sometime.

A lot of communities have gone to high tech trashcans that can be emptied by an automated garbage truck. This leaves the householder with old trashcans, which can be used for low tech urban potato farming.

The first step is to locate a sunny spot. Potatoes are not really choosy, but they do like sun and water. If your sunny spot is over a patch of dirt, cut the bottom off the trashcan with a Sawzall or a hacksaw. If your sunny spot is over concrete, drill drainage holes in the bottom of the trashcan. If the trashcan is really disgusting, clean it up a bit.

Next, put your trashcan on your chosen spot and fill it with four inches of cheap potting soil with a handful of bone meal mixed in. Head off to choose your potatoes. You need about a quarter pound organic potatoes per trashcan. Look for potatoes with nice big prominent eyes. If you have potatoes that have started growing in your pantry, use those.

Cut up the potatoes so you have one or two eyes per piece. Many people leave the potatoes out overnight to skin over, but I have never bothered. Put the pieces about six inches apart on top of the dirt in the trashcan, then cover with another couple of inches of potting soil and another handful of bonemeal. Don't bother to tamp down. Water so that the dirt is as wet as a wrung out sponge. Cover the trashcan with a piece of chicken wire or an old screen to keep critters out.

Keep the dirt moist, and in 2-3 weeks you should see sprouts. Potatoes grow along the stems, so when the sprouts are 8 or nine inches tall and have nice glossy leaves, shake some more dirt along the stems. The plants will grow towards the light, so keep covering the stems as they grow. Keep them watered and the potato plants will grow for about three months. Eventually they will die down. Stop watering. When the plants are deceased, knock over the garbage can and pick out your potatoes.

Note: Reposted from dkos. For those who learn more easily from seeing than reading:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hen and Chicks

UPDATE: I have discovered where one can learn about Succulents in Philadelphia. Hen and Chicks is a Succulent.
The Philadelphia Cactus and Succulent Society was founded in 1942 to exchange knowledge of and experience with succulents among its members. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in growing and learning more about succulents. There are more than 100 members at all levels of expertise - beginners and experts, collectors and growers.

Gardening is a lot of work. I am a lazy gardener. I like plants that are easy to grow, good to look at and fill odd spots in the garden that would be otherwise filled with pesky weeds.

Hen and Chicks meets all my qualifications. It is easy to grow, fills odd spots, drives out weeds and is so good looking.

The plant will grow in partial shade and not much soil - both good qualities in a city garden or on a sunny window sill in Winter. Hen and Chicks produces flowers when the Hen reaches maturity. The flowers are as odd looking as they are beautiful and rare.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

City Chickens

I was searching for an old time recipe for a dish called City Chickens. My friend Grace Persichelli made it for me long ago and it was so yummy. I typed the phrase into google and I got back this delightful and informative site about raising chickens in the city. If you are as interested in urban farming as I am, you want to go to there. The City Chicken. 

Even though I got such a happy result, I still wanted to find a good recipe for this old dish. So I typed in "city chicken" and I found this dish has a wikipedia entry all its own.

After diligent searching, I found the definitive City Chicken recipe. It comes from Simpson-Fletcher's Soul Food Recipes published by Simpson - Fletcher United Methodist Women and Fundcraft Publishing. We can thank Sue Delaney for providing the recipe. The Church has a Facebook page. I sent a message to find out if this regional cookbook can still be purchased. It may be out of print. I will let you know if I get more information.

City Chicken

3/4 pound Pork, cut in one inch pieces
3/4 pound Veal, cut in one inch pieces
1 cup Cracker Crumbs
1 Egg, beaten
5 tablespoons Shortening

1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup canned Milk
Salt, Pepper and Paprika to season the Gravy

Alternate, very closely, Veal and Pork on wooden skewers. Dip each skewer into the beaten Egg, and then into the Crumbs. Continue to alternate this dipping until the meat is well covered and resembles a chicken leg. Brown the skewers on all sides in hot Shortening. Place skewers side by side in an oiled roasting pan, cover and then bake in a moderate oven until the meat is very tender. Baste occasionally with drippings. Remove the City Chicken from the pan. Add Flour, Milk and Seasonings to the drippings. Stir until brown and thick. This is a gravy for the City Chicken.

Note: Put your Crackers in a bag and bang them with a rolling pin to make the Cracker pieces fine.

Bees on a Roof Means Money Honey

I found a most amazing Japanese eco-creation. Gives me hope for our foody future. And Bees.

In 2006, the Ginza Honey Bee Project set up hives on the top of a multistory building in central Tokyo. A decade on, the project is a regular supplier of honey to local businesses and continues to provide food for thought on the relationship between the urban and natural environments.
“I wondered if we might be able to produce something locally, right here in Ginza, in the center of the city. Since the Edo period, this has never been anything but a commercial district. By using bees to turn it into an agricultural production site, I thought it might be possible to raise the consciousness of people in the area. Ginza has always been receptive to the latest trends. Anything that is out of step with the character of the district is weeded out, and whatever remains accumulates as an element of the neighborhood’s culture and traditions. We decided to see whether the project could make it through the Ginza filter. The first thing was to have a go at it and see how people reacted...Ginza may seem an unlikely place to be tackling environmental issues, but it’s becoming that sort of neighborhood.” - Tanaka Atsuo

Weighing the Philadelphia Grocery Tax

I oppose it. You are taxing the wrong folks. Tax the Suits, not the poor and middle class. 

Tax the sugary drink and snack makers who make beaucoup money and socialize the costs of doing business. Convenient and disposable? Their detritus is on every street corner for the people and the City to clean up. Got the courage to sue Nestle Coke etc., Mayor Kenney? It will make you famous. Come on, Dude. This is Filthydelphia. Let us lead on this. 

I am tired of cleaning up the chip bags and drink containers that flow downhill from Frankford Avenue and clog the sewers and filthy the sidewalks. It costs our City money to collect this garbage. Make the Suits pay. 

Pay attention. Reality is. These folks will tell you all about what is happening to our watersheds. It is not good. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cinnamon Pecan Tea Cakes

These Tea Cakes are exquisite. The recipe makes one dozen. These little Cakes are so good I would take them to tea with the Queen.


3/4 cup Sugar
2 cups Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Butter
1 Egg, beaten
1 cup Milk
3/4 cup Raisins

Topping Ingredients:

1/2 cup light Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped Pecans

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, Cream the Sugar and Butter together. Add the beaten Egg and mix well. Whisk or sift the dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients and the Milk alternately to the creamed Butter mixture. Stir in Raisins.

Thoroughly combine the topping ingredients. Spoon the batter into greased muffin cups and sprinkle with the topping. Bake 20 minutes or until done.

Notes: I have taken all kinds of liberties with this simple recipe. If I do not have nuts, I use oatmeal. My children hate raisins, so I use dried cranberries or leave the raisins out. These cakes still turn out delicious. You can keep this batter in the refrigerator covered tightly and it will keep three weeks. I never keep the batter because these cakes disappear as fast as I can make them. Just be sure to leave the butter out until it is really soft and all the rest is easy.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Tutti Frutti Pie

Vintage Pie recipe from Simpson-Fletcher's Soul Food Recipes

My Aunt Carrie (rest in peace you Great Cook) made Tutti Frutti Pie often. It is good and inexpensive. Best of all is no need for fresh fruit. Pie from the pantry.

Miss Maxie Gaine's Tutti Frutti Cream Pie

1 cup Sugar
2 cups Milk
1 tablespoon Corn Starch
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Butter
2 Eggs
1 tablespoon Flour
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 cup canned Fruit Cocktail, well drained

Heat one cup Sugar, Milk and Butter together. Make a smooth paste of Flour, Salt and Corn Starch with a little Water. Add this gradually to the heated Milk. Separate Eggs. Beat Yolks well; blend into the Milk mixtures, stirring constantly to keep smooth; cook 5 minutes over low heat until mixture becomes thick. Remove from heat and fold in well drained Fruit Cocktail. Pour into a baked Pie Shell. Beat the Egg Whites until stiff and blend in two tablespoons of Sugar until very smooth. Spoon onto the Pie filling. Place in a 300 degree oven until light brown.

Best Party Meatballs

No matter how elegant a buffet I turn out, these delicious bites are always the first to be consumed. Mildred Albert did everything well. And her recipe for Sweet and Sour Meatballs is an example of her culinary and social talents.


1905 – 1991

“M.A.” and “The Mighty Atom,” as Mildred Albert was called, charmed the fashion world as an international fashion consultant, lecturer, columnist, and radio and television personality.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Makes 75 to 85 Meatballs

1 clove Garlic, minced
2 pounds ground Beef
2 Eggs
3 tablespoons Chili Sauce
2 tablespoons dried Parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper, divided
1 quart (32 ounces) cocktail Vegetable Juice (V8)
1 box (1 pound) light Brown Sugar
1 cup white Vinegar
3 cloves Garlic, halved
30 prunes, pitted

Mash minced Garlic with ground Beef, Eggs, Chili Sauce, Parsley flakes, Salt and 1/4 teaspoon Pepper. Shape the mixture into 75 to 85 meatballs.

Combine Vegetable Juice, Brown Sugar, Vinegar, split Garlic cloves, and remaining Pepper. Bring the sauce mixture to a boil.

Drop Meatballs into the Juice mixture. Reduce heat to low. Cook at a low simmer for 40 minutes. Add prunes to the sauce and cook 30 minutes more. 

Drain off most, but not all, of the sauce before putting meatballs and prunes into a chafing dish. Serve hot with toothpicks.

Make these a day ahead, refrigerate and skim fat from surface before serving. I find if I use a very lean grind of meat, there is hardly any fat.  I also add 1/4 cup of very fine dry bread crumbs to this mixture. It makes a difference if you use fresh parsley. However, both are optional and to your taste. You can increase the recipe to 115 to 125 meatballs by adding 1 more pound of ground Beef to make a total of 3 pounds. But be sure to leave the sauce ingredients as they are. Do not increase the liquid. Use exactly one quart. 

Honey Bees

Honey Bee Suite
I have a small garden in my Philadelphia backyard. I grow a few peppers, herbs, tomatoes, flowers. I have been very sad because the Bees seem to have gone away. We need Bees, so go here for some pet Bees if you like them. Most of the really good stuff we eat needs pollination by bees. No bees means less food.

On Sunday, I saw my very first Bee of the Summer. I was out in the garden, poking around in the Dill without my glasses. I was glad to learn that my eyes still work and I am not crazy. I saw a Bee. The Bees are coming back.

Bees are smart. They know who is growing those flowers. I have been given, while gardening, an affectionate bee nudge more than once. The Bees are making a comeback in Illinois too.
Native bee species spotted for first time since ’90s
 By Sandi Doughton 
Bee enthusiasts beat the bushes Sunday to see if the colony of rare insects is still active, and biologists are planning conservation efforts.
More information is available at If you would like to be involved in our citizen science project moving forward, you can sign up at

If you think you have observed the western white tailed bumblebee, please send a photo and site information. Please note that we cannot verify sightings without a photo, so please include one with your email. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Foodys Helping Foodys or the Sour Cream vs.Yoghurt Evaluation

I published the best recipe I know for Banana Cake and it generated the following discussion. I heart my readers. I am thrilled to have foody pen pals.

Banana Art by Zazzle

Sour cream substitute by pdh

It's Sunday morning, & I'm suddenly feeling a need for McGovern-inspired banana cake ... but I have no sour cream. I have some plain yogurt, & will substitute that ... should work according the intertubes.

My concern is more profound, though. Since you are a student of the politics of food, can you tell me if the substitution will be politically correct?

Please let me know how it goes by Yours Truly

Politically correct. But there is something about the fat in the sour cream and the taste of sour cream that makes it essential, I think. However, I am a fan of experimentation. I look forward to your analysis of the sour cream situation.

So I need two cakes, I guess by pdh

Actually, I think I will try the experiment. Today, with yogurt ... then with sour cream after my next trip to the market. I will let you know my opinion after a proper comparison.

Drain the yogurt by UnionJok

Years ago, a native of the Middle East showed me how to "thicken" yogurt for use in the standard recipe for baba ganooj and hummus. The traditional process consists of removing the whey by placing the yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined strainer over a bowl. The result is pretty much the same as "Greek" yogurt, and the whey can be used for other things. Even when made from fat-free yogurt, the texture and taste of the result make it a good substitute for sour cream in baking, salad dressings, dips, or desserts.

More convenient, if somewhat less effective, is to dig a well down the side of the container with an iced tea spoon, periodically pouring off the whey accumulating there. In this method, the top layer of yogurt becomes thick and creamy.

The denouement by pdh

Some time ago you posted the McGovern Banana Cake recipe to DailyKos.
I inquired about substituting plain yogurt for the sour cream which I
did not have available. Another dkos poster suggested draining the
yogurt in a cheese cloth to get a more appropriate texture, which
sounded like a sensible thing to do. So I prepared a banana cake with
the drained yogurt, & found it quite satisfactory.

Not trusting my memory of the taste of banana cakes past, I prepared
two cakes the same day, & sampled them both at the same time. It was
very close, but the sour cream did seem to give a slightly better
result. I expect that the flavor added by the sour cream counts for
more than the fat since there is 1/2 cup of shortening already in the
recipe, but didn't test any other variations. Next time I think I'll
add some chopped walnuts, though.

So my conclusion is that Dannon yogurt (plain whole milk kind) drained
in a wire mesh strainer lined with a paper coffee filter is a
satisfactory substitute for sour cream in recipes where the sour cream
is not a main ingredient. One would not slather a baked potato with
the densified yogurt & expect a sour cream experience, though.

I almost always keep some yogurt around because one of my favorite
snacks is yogurt with berries. In fact, I've prepared little single-
serving sized packets of whole berry cranberry sauce for the freezer
for those times when fresh berries are scarce. I'm sure I'll be
repeating the McGovern cake ... & using the pseudo sour cream in other
places, too!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"Asparagus inspires gentle thoughts." - Charles Lamb

Homegrown Asparagus becomes available in Pennsylvania April through June. It is at its best in May. A list of pick-your-own farms in Eastern Pennsylvania can be found HERE. 

Every Asparagus lover has favorite ways to eat Asparagus. This recipe for Chinese Asparagus Salad is one of my favorites.

The photograph comes from Petr Kratochvil. 

Chinese Asparagus Salad

2 pounds fresh Asparagus
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vinegar (Cider or White Wine are good)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil

Some folks peel Asparagus and you can if you want to. I never do. I just snap it. Wash the Asparagus well. Cut the spears diagonally across in 1 1/2 inch lengths. Cook the pieces of Asparagus for one minute in boiling water. Then drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Mix all the other ingredients (soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, salt and oil) together in a large bowl. Add Asparagus and toss.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Irish Potato Candy is a Philadelphia Tradition

Irish Potato Candy is a Philadelphia tradition made every Spring. Delicious. Indeed, Philadelphians created the candy, some of whom may have been Irish.

You can buy O'Ryan's made Irish Potato Candy at the market or online. Potatoes can also be purchased at Christopher's Chocolates.

Or you can make this simple candy at home. The recipe is fun to do with children. No hot stove. No special equipment. No exotic ingredients. If you want the recipe made with real potatoes, you can find it HERE.


1⁄4 cup softened Butter
4 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1(16 ounce) package Confectioners' Sugar
7 ounces sweetened flaked Coconut (2 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoon ground Cinnamon
2 tablespoon Cocoa

NOTE: Be sure to use regular cream cheese, not whipped or reduced fat type. Leave it out to come to room temperature for easier creaming. 

In a large bowl, cream together the Butter and Cream Cheese. Add Vanilla and Confectioners' Sugar. Beat until mixture forms a ball. Stir in Coconut with a spoon.

Roll the mixture between your hands to form small potato-shaped candies or roll into small balls. Place Cinnamon and Cocoa in a shallow dish and roll the balls in it. Place the balls on a cookie sheet and chill for about 1 hour or until firm. If you prefer "dirtier potatoes" roll the candy a second time after they have chilled. You can also add a few chopped Nuts to look like 'eyes' if you want to get really artistic.  

Treacle Bread

Treacle Bread is a slightly sweet Irish Soda Bread. It seemed an appropriate recipe for March because it is the month in which we celebrate St. Patrick"s Day. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and most Americans pretend we are Irish for a day every year. 

A thin slice of this bread well buttered and a cup of black tea in the afternoon is one of the finer pleasures in life. This bread toasts nicely too when it is a bit hard.

Miss Peggy Daum's Treacle Bread

3 cups sifted all purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon granulated Sugar
1 scant teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Molasses
1 cup Buttermilk, divided

Sift all purpose flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking power into a large bowl. Thoroughly mix in whole wheat flour. Warm the molasses a bit and combine it with 1/2 the buttermilk. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in the buttermilk mixture. You want a soft dough. So add the other bit of buttermilk as needed.

Turn out on a floured board. Knead only enough to shape into a ball. You do not want to develop gluten. Flatten the ball of dough into a circle 11/2 inches thick. Place into a greased and floured 8-9 inch baking pan. Dough does not have to fill the pan. Cut a cross 3/8 inch thick across the top and down the sides of the loaf.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake bread 40 to 45 minutes or until bread is browned and loaf sounds hollow when you knock on it. Best sliced thin and lightly buttered, toasted or untoasted.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Fun with Food

It is Spring and Easter is coming soon. Now is the time for Peep Jousting. To arms!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I fell on November 13 and sustained a concussion. I am meant to rest my brain and do little for the next few weeks.

It is go slow holiday around here until I can write, read and think better.

Merry Christmas Cat

cat haiku
You never feed me. 
Perhaps I'll sleep on your face.
That will sure show you.

You must scratch me there! 
Yes, above my tail!
Behold, elevator butt.

The rule for today: 
Touch my tail, I shred your hand.
New rule tomorrow.

In deep sleep hear sound 
cat vomit hairball somewhere
will find in morning.

Grace personified. 
I leap into the window.
I meant to do that.

Blur of motion, then -- 
silence, me, a paper bag.
What is so funny?

The mighty hunter 
Returns with gifts of plump birds --
your foot just squashed one.

You're always typing. 
Well, let's see you ignore my
sitting on your hands.

My small cardboard box. 
You cannot see me if I
can just hide my head.

Terrible battle. 
I fought for hours. Come and see!
What's a 'term paper?'

Small brave carnivores 
Kill pine cones and mosquitoes,
Fear vacuum cleaner

I want to be close 
to you. Can I fit my head
inside your armpit?

Wanna go outside. 
Oh, poop! Help! I got outside!
Let me back inside!

Oh no! Big One 
has been trapped by newspaper!
Cat to the rescue!

Humans are so strange. 
Mine lies still in bed, then screams;
My claws are not that sharp.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Christmas Eve Salad

This was the salad served at Christmas Eve Dinner to Stanford-in-Mexico students in 1972. Recipe from Steve and Pilar Stein of Latin Studies.

Ensalada de Noche Buena

4 small Apples, cored and sliced
4 medium Oranges, peeled and separated in sections
3 cups of canned Pineapple, drained
4 small Bananans, sliced
3 tablespoons Sugar
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
Romaine Lettuce leaves
2 cups canned Betts, drained
1/4 cup Peanuts

Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until they are cold. At the moment of serving cover a salad bowl with the Lettuce leaves, mix carefully the Fruits and the Beets, and place the mixture over the Letttuce. Sprinkle Peanuts on top and serve immediately. Serves 12.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Jasmine Liqueur and Organic Rum

We entertain more in the Winter Holiday Season and we go to more parties. I like to bring a unique hostess gift and make interesting new cocktails. So I am repeating this.

Corporate distillers use additives that ordinary folks would not use, if we made our own spirits. An excellent cookbook which has a chapter on home liqueur making is Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine. Making liqueur at home used to be common in American life as this scene from Arsenic and Old Lace attests:

Greenbar Organic Distillery makes their own Vodka, Gin, Tequila, Liqueurs and Bitters without additives, using classic distillery techniques and all organic ingredients. 

A bottle of anything Greenbar makes would be a welcome hostess gift. I have nothing to gain from any transaction you make with Greenbar beyond the success of the company. Quality counts.

TRU Jasmine Martini

1 1/4 oz TRU vodka
1 oz FRUITLAB jasmine liqueur
1/4 oz simple syrup
Glass Types: (Martini/Coupe)
Shake + strain into a martini glass
Garnish with an edible flower

Philadelphia Opera Company - Musical Interlude for Attitude Adjustment

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats. - Albert Schweitzer
I shop at Reading Terminal Market weekly for fresh ground coffee and real bread. Iovine's for fresh produce. The Amish butcher for breakfast sausage and honey. Then I eat lunch at Pearl's Oyster Bar. Music and good food is Paradise.

I love the City of Brotherly Love. You never know when a random act of culture by the Philadelphia Opera Company may appear. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Orange Bread

This Orange Bread is delicious all by itself or spread with Cream Cheese or Peanut Butter. Quick breads are generally easy to make. This one requires cutting the flour into the shortening which is an extra step. Worth the work.

Orange Bread

4 cups Flour
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Shortening
2 Eggs
1 cup Milk
1 cup Candied Orange Peel
1/3 cup Syrup from Orange Peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, sand and sugar. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture. Beat eggs thoroughly and add milk to them. Mix with flour mixture and stir in candied peel and syrup. Fold into loaf pan and bake 45 minutes.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Simpson-Fletcher's Soul Food Stuffings

I love Philadelphia. If you poke around in corners of the city, you can find unexpected treasures. I found Simpson-Fletcher's Soul Food Recipes at the Tacony Library Book Sale. 

Find out about the Church that created the cookbook here if you want to know more about the particulars. Just scroll on down past the chicken coop.

Simpson-Fletcher's Soul Food Recipes devotes a whole chapter to Stuffings. I produce two of the recipes verbatim. I am making the Fish or the Capon. I hate Turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sweet Potato Stuffing the Jamaican Way
from Ms. Thelma Graham

1 and 1/4 cups mashed Sweet Potatoes
7 slices toasted Bread cubes
6 links Pork Sausage
2 tablespoons Water
1/4 teaspoon crushed Marjoram leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped Celery
1 finely chopped Onion
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Sage
1/2 teaspoon ground Thyme
2 tablespoons Butter
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Salt

Combine toasted Bread cubes and Celery with mashed Sweet Potatoes. Mix and set aside. In a frying pan, put Sausage links and cold Water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes then pour off any fat and break links into small parts. Add chopped Onion to the pan and cook until Sausage is browned and onions are clear. Remove from heat and add all the seasoning. Mix well. Now add Sausage mix to the Sweet Potato mixture. Blend well and stuffing is ready for stuffing a large Capon.

Sweet Pickle Stuffing for Baked Fish
from Albert the Chef

2 cups Rye or Whole Wheat Bread crumbs
1 cup Sweet Pickles, minced
2 Celery Stalks, chopped
2 tablespoons Onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Sage (optional )
2 tablespoons melted Butter

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Toss the crumbs so they are well coated with melted butter. Stuff the Fish cavity. This is enough for a 3 pound Bass or Trout.

Wisconsin Bars

I found this recipe in a regional cookbook entitled Cooking Wisconsin Style published by the Wisconsin State Journal. It was published in 1985 as a compendium of 30 years of the Journal's collected recipes. I do not know if one can still obtain a copy.

Wisconsin produces about a quarter of America's cheese. I am not surprised that this apple dessert contains two kinds of cheese and butter. And if cut in larger portions, is best served with iced cream. Wisconsin is the Dairy State.

This recipe courtesy of Mrs. Lawrence Eberle of Lone Rock. The painting is by Dennis Plamann, a Wisconsin Artist, and it is entitled Frank Fox's Farm.

Wisconsin Bars

1/4 cup Sugar  
1 cup Butter
2 Egg Yolks
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Flour
4 cooking Apples, medium sized
1/2 pound Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 Egg Whites
1 and 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup Cream Cheese

Combine the butter, egg yolks, baking powder, salt, flour. Blend until a crumbly mixture is formed. Put half the mixture in a 13x9 inch cake pan and press it down. Reserve the remainder.

Grate together in one bowl the apples and the cheddar cheese. Discard the cores and only the larger pieces of the apple peelings. Add the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Mix well. Spread this mixture as the second layer in the cake pan. Spread the remaining crumbly mixture to form the third layer.

Whip egg whites until peaks are formed. Gradually add powdered sugar and cream cheese, beating continuously. Spoon this topping over the contents of the cake pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Yield 3 dozen bars. 
Note: These can be cut into bars or served in larger portions with ice cream or whipped cream.