Jun 28, 2013

Green Goddess Coleslaw

This is the time of year for salad and anything cool.  I found a wonderful coleslaw recipe on P. Allen Smith's website that I just love.  It contains anchovy paste, which is an odd ingredient for slaw, plus Tarragon vinegar.  I went to three stores to find the tarragon vinegar though. Don't turn up your nose until you try this. I was pleasantly surprised.  


3 tbs tarragon vinegar
2 tbs anchovy paste
2 cups of shredded cabbage
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp white pepper
salt to taste
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup green onion, chopped
1/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped

Make the dressing first. In a blender add the garlic, salt, pepper, mustard, anchovy paste, and tarragon vinegar.  Blend well.  Then add the green onions and parsley, then blend again.  Add the mayonnaise and sour cream, blend until smooth.  Put the cabbage in a bowl and fold in the dressing, mix until the cabbage is totally coated.  Chill until ready to serve.

Cooks Note:  I put the green onions and parsley in with the cabbage.   

Jun 23, 2013

Getting lost in the World of Jane Austen

The realness of life can drag one's spirit down and trust me, mine has been dragging. We can get into a rut and spin our wheels trying to get back out again. Have you ever wondered what it is all for? I mean our lives. The repetitiveness of our existence, it is like living the same day over and over again.  We get up, we go to work, we come home, and then to bed, only to repeat it all for the next 70 years or so, that is if we are lucky enough to reach 70. 

Sometimes it is good just to get away from it all.  I usually do it by reading a good book if I don't have the time or resources to go somewhere.  Over the past couple of weeks I have been spending time in the land of Austen, Jane Austen to be exact. I watched Persuasion a couple of times and NorthAnger Abbey as well. These stories speak to the romantic in me. Having a bit more romance is the one that I wish was more true to life than any other fantasy.  Oh, he must be handsome and sincere, and don't forget that he must be tall and have a fine figure. She is young, beautiful, and have the grace of a dancer plus be very charming.  But what if that story went wrong?  What if in Pride and Prejudice that Mr. Collins married Jane instead of Charlotte?  Then Mr. Bingley became a drunkard. And Mr. Darcy never married Elizabeth Bennett. Oh My! I watched a video on Youtube that was a spin off of sorts to Pride and Prejudice.  It is called Lost in Austen.  Have you seen it?  I am a Jane Austen fan from way back and never tire of watching these stories unfold over and over again.  If you are an Austen fan, you will enjoy this movie.

Jun 20, 2013

Scones with Raisins

As an American, when I think of scones I think of what we call biscuits. Fortunately, I have an English neighbor.  My first offering to her as scones tasted exactly like biscuits and were heavy too.  So, I have tried to make this recipe several more times until I think that it is right.  Scones are supposed to be light, airy, and sweet, except when you are making savory ones.  I tried and tried to duplicate the commercially made ones that she brought down to my house.  They are small and very thick.  Then she made a comment to me.  "It isn't what they look like, but, more importantly how they taste."  I found relief in her comment.  I threw away several blobs of too wet dough when trying to follow a recipe that I found on line or the one my neighbor gave me. I then decided to make them how I make biscuits.  

This morning I woke up at 6 a.m. and decided to try again.  I had spare time before I had to pick up my sister.  I made my way to the kitchen a few minutes later and was determined to get this recipe right.  The key is not to handle the dough too much.  My mother used to tell me the same thing when making biscuits. The dough is to be wet/sticky,but not like a thin batter.  I watched a couple of videos on Youtube to see how English ladies (some men too) make scones. English self-rising flour doesn't have salt in their mix. I added extra baking powder to help give the scones a lighter texture, even though the American self-rising flour mix already has it in.


2 cups of self-rising flour
1 stick of butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup of sugar
1- 1 1/2  cups of plain milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup of raisins or dried fruit of your choice

Preheat oven to 400 - 425 F. Grease a baking dish. In a large bowl add the flour, baking powder, and sugar.  Next, add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture until it feels like sand. I used my fingertips and rubbed the flour and butter together. Then add the raisins and mix together.  Make a well in the middle of the bowl and pour in 1 cup of milk.  Mix well, if the dough is too dry add enough milk to form a soft dough ball. Do not knead and don't add all of the milk at once. The dough should be sticky. Handle it as little as possible.

Pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Flatten the dough into a 1 inch circle.  Use a 2 inch cookie cutter and cut out scones.  This recipe makes 8-10 scones.  Place the scones on a baking sheet.  Brush the tops with milk to give a nice brown color.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.  Enjoy! 

Jun 14, 2013

Spaghetti with Dried Tomatoes, Green Peppers and Italian Sausage

Have you ever watched an Italian cooking show and all of the ingredients were thrown together in one pan and it ended up looking so delicious?  Most of those recipes cannot be that hard to make.  A couple of days ago, I dried some tomatoes in the oven and have been anxious to make something with them.  So, I made up my own recipe.  Isn't that what a cook does?  This is easy and I really liked it a lot. 

1/2 pound ground meat of your choice, I used Italian sausage
1 onion chopped
1 green pepper, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup dried tomatoes or to your taste
2-3 tbs olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
1/2 tsp thyme or to your taste
1/2 tsp Italian seasonings or oregano to your taste
1/2 pound cooked spaghetti
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, romano, or an Italian blend of cheeses.

Cook the spaghetti until it is al dente.  On medium to high heat in a large pan, add the the ground meat.  Once it is brown add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent.  Next, add the green pepper and saute until the pepper is tender.  Then, add the dried tomatoes, mix well. Add the spaghetti and toss all of the ingredients together. Add salt, pepper, and herbs to your taste. The last step is to add the cheese. Mix well. Serve with French bread and a salad.  Enjoy!

Jun 12, 2013

Oven Dried Tomatoes

Just recently, I started using dried fruits and vegetables in my recipes.  I like tomatoes and peppers that are roasted or dried.  They add that extra bit of umph to a dish.  This is a simple recipe and very easy to make. It will be something that you will want to keep on hand.  I know that I do.


Plum tomatoes, such as Roma
olive oil
sea salt
herbs such as thyme, parsley, oregano, or basil
garlic minced, optional

Quarter the tomatoes.  I left the seeds. Some recipes say to discard them but that should be a matter of preference.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (I put mine at 250 F, it will vary according to your oven). Cover the bottom of a large shallow pan (I used a pizza pan) with olive oil.  Next add the tomatoes, salt, herbs and drizzle with olive oil. Place the tomatoes in the oven and bake for 4-6 hours. 

Put the tomatoes in a small jar or plastic bag.  I covered mine in olive oil.  They will keep for about 6 months.  These can also be put in the freezer.  To rehydrate add olive oil, water, or wine. Enjoy!

Jun 2, 2013

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel...a place for seniors

The other day I was thinking about retirement and how long I had until the day I can sleep in.  I still have 13 more "official" years in the working world. It has taken me years to consider myself middle-aged. The thought of moving to another category is not sounding very attractive. There are perks for being over fifty; I can now take classes at the "Community Center" at a discounted rate as long as I can come during the day.  From what I have heard, seniors don't really like taking classes at night. There are the odd two wrinkles above my left lip from sleeping on my belly for so many years and don't talk to me about thinning hair. Overall, getting older isn't that bad, really. When a neighbor of mine told me about a movie she had seen with the cast all being over 65 except for the two young lovebirds, I thought that I wouldn't like it.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel takes place in India. It is a downtrodden old hotel for the aging.  Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are just two from the all star cast. It all starts in England.  Each character is well past their youth and coming into the autumn years of their life.  Due to the high cost of living on a fixed income, the only place to retire would be in India.  This movie is an adventure and I really enjoyed it.  


"Everything will be alright in the end, 
if it is not all right, then it is not the end."