29 December 2012

Sandkeks for Santa

Classic German Sandkeks, a hazelnut shortbread cookie with a sandy vanilla sugar coating were set out in the afternoon on Christmas Eve ... Santa had a chance to grab a few before dropping off the loot! The rest, we have been nibbling with cups of coffee and tea. These cookies are a perfect crumbling shortbread - not overly sweet except for the sandy outer sugar layer.

24 December 2012

The Way Back Machine ..... Christmas 1958

Christmas Eve is always a good time for a story ... don't you think?  I do and I always have.

22 December 2012

Bittersweet Chocolate Cream Pie

Last month, our little church had a Silent Auction and my contribution to the auction fare was 'A Year of Pies' ... I was a bit concerned that no one would bid on my offering, but I was wrong. Folks like their pies, apparently. There were several bids offered and in the end I was tasked with providing a year's worth of pies to a lovely couple that live one town over. So, every month I will be loading a home made pie in my pie basket and heading out to make a special delivery.

Of course, I started with a classic apple pie for the month of November, which was received well (Thank you, God!). This month, though, Mr. Lamella requested a chocolate cream pie for a Christmas present. So ....

21 December 2012

A Sad Day of Mourning ...

A Dramatic Change Must Happen

The President said it best: "Ultimately if this effort is to succeed it's going to require the help of the American people -- it's going to require all of you. If we're going to change things, it's going to take a wave of Americans -- mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, pastors, law enforcement, mental health professionals -- and, yes, gun owners -- standing up and saying 'enough' on behalf of our kids."

19 December 2012

Deni's Cranberry Coffee Cake

An easy and delicious use of leftover cranberry relish .... that's where this recipe started its run at the grey cottage (and before that, at the Hopkinton Homestead). My dear friend, Deni always made this for staff brunches and also as holiday coffee break treats for our little classroom staff kaffeeklatsches. She graciously shared her recipe all those years ago and I have been making it at least two times a year ever since!

18 December 2012

Maple Baked Beans

I love kitschy kitchen goods, so you can just imagine my glee when I ran across this little bean pot on Ebay ... nothing screams 1960's retro like this little baby. Needless to say, I got it for a song and now, it needs some spicy beans to give it a proper welcome to the grey cottage.

I found a new take on baked beans in Ina Garten's barefoot contessa at home cookbook. She got the recipe from the boys of Stonewall Kitchen and it does smack of their forward thinking. I mean, really ... ginger, Chinese hot chili and garlic sauce, maple sugar, and ketchup ? These will be some kind of spicy beans that turn the traditional Yankee baked bean supper on its proverbial ear.

12 December 2012

King's Crown Coffee Bread

One of my little Christmas traditions is to rise early the morning after we have put up the Christmas tree, put the tree lights on, but no others, make an early pot of coffee and sit with a cup and just ... be ... still...

I love to sit and look at the beauty of the tree and the colors. Every year the tree is just a bit different from all the others of years gone by. Maybe it's a different tree variety or a different shape from the previous trees. Maybe I've chosen different sets of ornaments to place on its branches, or used more or less tinsel. Maybe the lights are all colored or all white or a combination of the two. Whatever the changes, I always feel my heart swell up a bit and any Grinchy feelings about the hustle-bustle of the season disappear in that quiet time.

09 December 2012

My Gift to You ...

Candle light and home made cinnamon and applesauce ornaments ...
 a sure recipe for Christmas Spirit !

08 December 2012

Venison and Winter Squash Tagine


If this were a scratch and sniff photograph, you would be in seventh heaven right now. Imagine a meaty cinnamon and paprika scent that has a hint of sweetness and the pungence of the fresh cilantro.
This dish is just what a cold raw winter day demands ...

07 December 2012

Cornmeal, Scallion, and Smoked Gouda Drop Biscuits

It's soup and stew season and that means there are never enough inventive ways to make a biscuit, roll, loaf of bread, or dumpling that will put the topper on whatever soup or stew is making it to your dinner table!

The other evening, I made Susan's Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup ... and oh my, it was good! See the link above and explore her site at Beyond My Kitchen Window for a treat. Read on to see the incredible biscuits that went with that gorgeous soup!

06 December 2012

Helen Allen's Figgy Pudding Butter Cookies

When the kids were little, we had a kid-sized record player and a stack of children's 45's that they slapped on and off the turntable, dancing and singing around the living room at top volume. I would bring out the special stack of Christmas music when we brought out the Advent calendars and the Christmas coloring books and crafts and they would crank up the tunes and their excitement level.

05 December 2012

A Holiday Dinner Staple - Green Bean Casserole

Family Traditions ... December's Virtual Supper Club Theme
I wonder. Is there's a household in America that has not prepared this holiday staple at least once for one the big holiday meals? It has been a tradition in our family for over thirty years! Imagine my surprise to find a leaner and cleaner version of the original recipe!


04 December 2012

Spicy Fruit Compote

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas!

28 November 2012

Random Recipe Meets Danish Apricot Pinwheels

What pretty little crumbly confections! They are sitting pretty on my countertop because I was instructed to pick a random recipe ...

25 November 2012

Staffordshire Oatcakes, Baked Apples, The Hobbit, and More

"In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."
                                                                                                         - JRR Tolkien

22 November 2012

Thanksgiving Breakfast - Coffee and Chocolate Kugelhopf

This month's We Should Cocoa almost brought a tear to my eye - a joyful tear, for what better combination could there be than bread and chocolate? Bread AND chocolate!

20 November 2012

Bring on the Bird! Apple Cider Turkey Brine ...

Well, I feel like I've been away for a very long time ... so sorry if you have popped in to see what's what only to be faced with more peanut crusted chicken! I have been soooo busy working on the final preparations for my church's holiday fair that I had to set The Spice Garden aside for a couple weeks.  I had to concentrate on hand-sewing and press articles and ads, seeking contributions from local businesses and church members, setting up, decorating the church hall, taking down, counting money, saying thanks to as many folks as I can come across, etc etc etc ... it's exhausting for a hermit like me. And just when I finished that project, SB has begun the 'Bring on the Bird!' chant - I am out of the frying pan and into the ... brine!

07 November 2012

Peanut Crusted Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

This month is National Peanut Butter Month, apparently! Oh, the lowly peanut ... such a humble little legume that sits squarely at the center of so many paperbag lunches, crinkles in many a bag at the ballgame, and gets munched on many a transcontinental flight. I've joined a small group of folks that intend to do more sophisticated things with the peanut, however. I scoured the Cooking Light website and found a tasty peanut-crusted chicken appetizer, as a starter for the Virtual Supper Club's peanut- themed feast.

06 November 2012

Pumpernickel Bread and Dad's Sandwich ...

Pumpernickel Braid

When I was a little girl, sandwiches were one of the typical lunches that Mom would make us. During the week, a peanut butter, egg salad, tuna fish, or bologna and cheese sandwich always sat neatly wrapped in wax paper and nestled in my little tin lunch box. It would always have a small indentation from an apple or orange or a mis-shapen corner from being swung about in the lunch box on the way to school. Sandwiches were the staple of every school kid's midday meal and I was no exception. Unfortunately, mine were always made with a spongy white bread that came from a plastic bag. In my case, the store-brand or Nissen Bakery brand.

30 October 2012

Ready For a Hurricane? When In Doubt ... Cook!

I woke to the most unsettling news bites yesterday morning. As I booted up the computer to look at the latest radar images of this hurricane dubbed 'Frankenstorm', my husband was tuning into the local weather on the television. "Widespread power outages are expected", ..."urged to prepare for the worst", " take a picture of your immediate vicinity before and after ...when you can, send them to 9 News update", and more churned from the television.

Holy Smokes! This was being handled as a real 100 year storm! Already, the sky was literally grey-pink all over, which brings new meaning to the old weather adage, "Red sky at morning, sailors take warning ...". As the sun rose, we wondered, just what the next two days would bring. I prayed that everyone of my large extended family and all my friends up and down the Eastern Seaboard were safe and ready for this storm and that Hurricane Sandy calmed down quickly once she made landfall ... and then it was time to get the house ready and ourselves prepared for the worst!

We stocked the water, wood, and got the candles and flashlights and lanterns ready for action.  Then, we watched the wind pick up. The phone lines went dead midmorning, but power held. We used our sketchy cell phones to make garbled phone calls to family and friends and then, showered and got things cleaned up (just in case we couldn't for a couple days). Then, I cooked ... bread for sandwiches and a roasted chicken for a meal and soup stock. We boiled some eggs for an easy egg salad or green salad meal. That was it ... the plan was that meals would center around those three main ingredients over the next few days and we would eat what's in the fridge ( this, assuming a power outage made using things up necessary before they lose their integrity).

Last evening, the power flickered on and off, but held. We were able to watch in horror as NYC braced for record high tides and storm surge. I shot a fast FB message off to Kate in Brooklyn, hoping to hear from her. Sara called from Boston to say she was buttoned up tight and trying to salvage a chicken soup (epic noodle fail). She was safe and sound. Eric was incommunicado over in the wilds of Rindge where he has just moved ... I hope he didn't park his car under any trees! That remains to be seen, as I still haven't heard from him. We've made it through the night and still have power ... it's weirdly calm now with occasional bands of wind that pass through, but the rain has finally let up and things seem to be calming down.

Time to make some soup and contemplate just how lucky we have been! Chicken soup and matzo balls will be comforting today, as we clean up the property and carve a Halloween pumpkin. I keep hoping everyone else has been as fortunate as we have been ... the phones are still down. Small change compared to many others ...

24 October 2012

We Should Cocoa ... Pumpkin Eclairs!

These little devils have been on my culinary bucket list for a good while ! Eclairs are one of Silent Bob's favorite pastries. We oogle them whenever we go into a bakery of note and I always tell him that  I will learn how to make them for him! I'm so glad I screwed up my courage and tackled them! They weren't perfect - there was a bit too much salt in the choux and the eclair shells didn't stay as puffed as I would have liked, but they were fantastic for a beginner eclair maker ... me!

22 October 2012

Two Words ...

Ducks ... Row
Macintosh ? ... No
Empire ! ... Spice
Crimping ... Nice!
Crispy Topper ...

Show Stopper ...

18 October 2012

The Butcher's Sauce - Random Recipes

an ode to orange ... 

What's at 'the back of  beyond' in your cupboard  (or freezer, in my case) ? This month's Random Recipe challenge was to reach into the back of your pantry and bring out a box, can, bag, packet, what ever! Next, go to a cookbook and find a recipe that uses that 'forgotten' ingredient. Well, that's clever, Dom!

13 October 2012

Carrot Latkes ... Light Lunch or Appetizers

These little fried latkes give tradition such a tweek on the nose! They're sweet and crunchy on two fronts - from the carrot flesh and from the fast crisping that they get in a wee bit of fry oil. What a treat! I made them as a light lunch. With a dollop of Greek yogurt and a little mound of cilantro chutney, they were delicious little bites. So tasty and different!

11 October 2012

High Fiber Rye and Currant Bread - BYOB !

"Let there be work, bread, water, and salt for all."                 
                                                                        - Nelson Mandela

I came upon this recipe on the Web a few weeks back and have been just waiting for a time when I was in the mood for a hearty ham and cheese sandwich ... that time is here. The recipe was originally called Molasses Fennel Rye Bread, however I changed a few things in the recipe - more yeast, currants instead of raisins, sugar in the yeast proof to 'push' the yeast a bit early on, less salt, less ginger, and some bread flour added to the white flour measure. Hence, I changed the name. I plan to bake a small ham tomorrow. It will be sliced and slathered with spicey whole grain mustard, layered with a nice Gouda and pressed between slices of this bread. A cold beer, a chilled dill pickle, a pile of chips on the side and I will be in heaven ... anticipation is half of life, folks!

09 October 2012

Corn and Crabmeat Chowder

The past weekend took us up the Connecticut River Valley to leaf peep and collect pumpkins and the last of the sweet corn to be found. Our drive out and about was a warm, humid affair. Dark clouds hovered and it threatened rain all day  - the weather was kind of spooky. It was like summer and fall were fighting over the space. Finally, last evening the rains passed through and a cool front has settled over New Hampshire. Looks like fall won the battle; we have a fire in the stove today to take the chill off and I have made a warm soup.

07 October 2012

Whole Wheat Scones with Cherries and Almonds

Oldest daughter Kate and her special friend came home for the weekend to admire the foliage, sleep late in a quiet country environment, and knosh well without eating out in restaurants. After stuffing them full of Sicilian Caponata, Chicken Piccata, salad, bread and plenty of wine on Friday evening, I thought we'd go light on Saturday breakfast ... coffee and a scone and then a nice walk about in the New England splendor!

Kate was duly impressed by my latest vintage find and it fit the theme of the weekend.

Longest Covered Bridge in the World

04 October 2012

Wild Mushroom Stew on Creamy Polenta

This meal has all the Fall colors ... golden polenta, deep red sauce, smoky brown mushrooms and stew vegetables, deep green kale, and crispy brown bread for dipping.

03 October 2012

Gluten-Free Pear Crisp

I bought myself a new flamewear pot this week and SB picked pears from the back yard tree. The pot is lovely to look at - the pears not so much. They taste spectacular though, not overly sweet but with just enough juice and sugar to be great for eating from the palm or putting in a salad or crisp. To boot, they have no pesticides on them at all. During the summer, we have picked/trapped the Japanese beetles  and snipped out a gross nest of tent caterpillars before the varmints could damage the tree. The deer haven't discovered them yet, either!  We've been rewarded with a few dozen little knobby pears. We've had them in spinach salad, but tonight we're having a dinner party and one of our guests needs gluten-free fare. It's pear crisp coming right up!

28 September 2012

Random Recipe - Caraway Seed Cake and More Tea!

All that talk of the perfect tea accompaniment in the last post reminded me that Dom's monthly Random Recipe challenge was coming to round-up! Oh dear ... must make more sweets for tea, but first a short update. I have been sooo good on my diet, everyone! I am down just over 20 pounds and am still motivated to lose another 20 ... these will be the hard ones, so I have to be savvy about the sweets that I make.

25 September 2012

Black Cherry Thumbprints in Almond Dust

... self-portrait with teapot ...

Need I say more? The perfect tea time treat ... we 're having ours with a pot of classic Earl Grey.

22 September 2012

The Art of Being Alone ... and Good Supper

When you have good soup and warm bread and really good butter, it's okay to be alone for supper. Just sayin' ...

14 September 2012

Two Words ...

I found a new blog to drool over, folks! A Full Measure of Happiness is a pretty cool place and Lauren Zietsman has wonderful taste  ... she loves everything that I do! Wink, wink! The other day,she posted a spicy coconut curry squash soup that looked fantastic. I knew I had to make it, as I am jumping up and down for soups these days. Originally, I was going to make Lauren's soup with a cracker recipe, but when I saw just how thick and spicy and lovely it is, I knew I had to make flatbreads topped with sage and rosemary ... it really IS a good thing when one follows gut feelings and they turn out to be spot on ...
Another gut feeling? When I looked at that soup in the pot, I knew I had to play with all the oranges and golds that this time of the summer gives us  .... back to Two Words.  

12 September 2012

Pork Chops with Plums and Chinese Spices


Last evening, I made the most delicious pork chop sear that I have ever made ... period. Peace.

10 September 2012

Sachertorte - For Birthday and Breakfast

Can you blame me ? I could not resist the chocolate ganache and that sweet brandy-scented apricot jam filling. A dense chocolate torte - denser than I would have liked, but still pretty darn good. I brewed really strong coffee this morning and had a repeat of yesterday's birthday dessert that we knoshed for Sprout Sara's birthday lunch.

06 September 2012

Vegetable Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

There is nothing like a big fresh portabella mushroom. When I was in the market yesterday, I found a big cardboard box sitting out in the produce section with a mound of these portabella mushrooms. They were so fresh and dirty - softly moist with no dry edges or puckered spots. I was already thinking about what I could stuff them with, as I picked up four that were as big around as softballs.

I never wash my mushrooms, do you? I just use a soft brush and a damp paper towel to rub them free of any loose soil. I know there's probably a residue of humus still there, but I prefer that to the slimy wetness they get when you wash them. Preparing portabellas for stuffing is a fun exercise for me ... I am always amazed at the soft brown gills and the satisfying 'pop' that the stem makes when you flick it loose with your thumb. The insides of the fungi is so white and perfect where the stem has snapped free. That little bowl of space with the gills and the outer rim of fringe is a blank palette for some creative slicing and dicing ...

04 September 2012

BYOB - Cider Doughnut Muffins

What could be easier than a simple apple flavoured muffin, dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar? It's a dead ringer for the seasonal apple cider doughnuts that will be popping up at the coming Fall festivals!

01 September 2012

Corn Pudding ... Ina's Way

It's funny. I have never been a real fan of corn pudding, as I find it bland and mushy. It's also funny that Ina Garten starts her commentary on this Sagaponack Corn Pudding recipe with the same sentiment. After making her recipe, however, I'm a new convert. This was NOT a bland and mushy corn pudding! Granted, I am making this at the height of the fresh corn season here in New England and not in the dead of winter with frozen corn. I also used the sharpest zingiest cheese I could find and I sprinkled the top of the pudding with really hot cayenne pepper to really add heat.

Incidentally? It's still mushy, but I'm past that.

Here's the back story ...

30 August 2012

29 August 2012

Tomato Confit with Pasta and Creamy Goat Cheese

If you've got a vegetable garden of any size, you're probably getting a bit tired of dealing with the mass of tomatoes coming your way by this point. I know I am. I still can't stop myself from making a few last tomato indulgences, though. Still up is my annual batch of Honey and Lemon Tomato Salsa and one more batch of tomato sauce. Then, I think, we will have used most of the tomatoes and the rest will go for BLT's, Caprese, chopped for omelets or added to salads, stuffed and roasted. We will certainly miss them in January, but right now they are as plentiful as ants in an anthill.