Sep 28, 2014

Creamy Green & Wax beans, with Red & Golden Potatoes Salad

It is harvest time here in Indiana and the fields are already turning a bright golden color. A friend and I went to a small city about 40 minutes south of where we live into Amish country. I love the drive, especially to breath in the country air. We saw a lot of farms and horses. 

The crops are coming in, especially green beans. We, also, have wax beans which are a light yellow in color. Yesterday, while at the Warsaw Street market one of the vendors had a bag of the green and wax beans together, which reminded me of a salad that I have been making for a long time.  If you don't have fresh you can use frozen or canned or both.  I don't believe that wax beans are frozen here in the states but green beans are.  

This is a simple recipe and I really enjoy the diversity of taste from the mixture of cumin and dill along with the creaminess of the mayonnaise. It is really good right after it is prepared. 


1 cup green beans,  cut into 1 inch pieces,cooked and tender
1 cup of wax beans, cut into 1 inch pieces, cooked and tender
1/2 lb baby red potatoes, boiled with skin on,tender, cut lengthwise
1/2 lb baby gold potatoes, boiled with skin on, tender, cut lengthwise
1 tsp cumin
2 large pinches of dill
3/4 - 1 cup of mayonnaise, more or less to your desired wetness
1 tbs white vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
pepper to taste

Cook the vegetables until tender. Set aside to cool. Once the vegetables are cool add to a medium mixing bowl. Next, add the dill, cumin, vinegar, mayonnaise, sugar, pepper, and toss.  This can be served chilled or lukewarm. Serve with baked chicken or fish and crispy bread.  Enjoy!

Sep 22, 2014

Southern Custard Pie

When I was a girl we used to get Southern Custard Pie made by Blue Bird Baking Company.  It was the best pie I have ever tasted. The company was founded in 1923 by Louis Preonas originally from Thessaly, Greece who came to the United States in 1911 and settled in Kalamazoo, Michigan.   He was apprenticed as a baker after completing the 4th grade.  After travelling around to several Midwestern cities, he settled in Dayton, Ohio. Their operation prospered and they opened a facility in Mitchell, Indiana. Sales increased and neighboring states were eating these wonderful pies as well. They made a lot of apple pies, but my favorite was the Southern Custard.  The custard was very thick and rich. I begged my mother frequently to bring one home.    

The picture came from Geocaching
In the 1970's the plant closed and we no longer were able to get Blue Bird pies.  It wasn't until I was older that I began looking for a pie that was identical to when I was a kid. Most of the pies that I found were either not the same consistency or the taste was not the same. But, now I think that I have found my copycat recipe. I wish that I had this recipe a long time ago and of course it is inspired by Paula Dean. 


1/2 cup of whole milk
1- 12 oz can of condensed milk
4 eggs
1 cup of sugar
2 tbs vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder 
2 tbs butter, melted
2 tbs flour
1/4 tsp each nutmeg, allspice, mix together

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium mixing bowl beat eggs for 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, flour, butter, milk, and vanilla. Bake pastry shell until it is slightly golden and puffy. About 2-5 minutes. Then pour mixture into pastry shell. I find that if you put the pie shell on a cookie pan and then pour the mixture while it is already in the oven there is less of a chance of spilling the mixture in your clean oven.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, until top is a light golden brown.  Sprinkle with nutmeg and allspice mixture. The pie will be puffy when it comes out of the oven but will settle down after it cools. I, also, put my pie in the fridge for a while before I serve it.  Enjoy! 

Sep 20, 2014

For the love of Cowboys

Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Studios

When I think about men, which is often, I think about those macho types who come to rescue a damsel in distress. My mind automatically goes to the Wild West. A cowboy walks into the saloon with his hat tilted forward on his brow, the ruggedly handsome face hidden by shadows. His footsteps are heavy as his boot spurs make a clunking sound with every step. There is no need for a words, because he has spoken volumes already with just his presence.  I know that not all men are rough and tough, sometimes I wish that they were.   

A friend of mine asked me to photograph her family members while at a reunion.  I gladly brought my camera and began shooting pictures.  About an hour later a man walked in.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw him.  I turned my head to get a better look at the man. A cowboy. My heart skipped a beat at the vision I saw.  Sitting on his head was a hat made of straw with a decorative band neatly placed above the brim. His Texas style button down shirt with rolled up sleeves worn with tight fitting jeans caused my mind to go back to the saloon I envisioned earlier. His boots, pointed toe and all, finished off his ensemble. 

"I need your picture," I bravely said. "You look great!" 

He asked if his picture would end up on Facebook or some place similar. "Most likely," I said.  Then we made our way outside. 

"Can you try to look macho for me please?" 

"Cowboys aren't macho anymore," he said.  I beg to differ with him. 

Sep 6, 2014

Enjoying Now

Last years rough winter made spring a most welcome visitor. And now we are on the cusp of another winter. I dread the confinement of the season. Peering at the world through the window from behind closed curtains.  

The gardens are now a withering version of what they were a couple of months ago.  Yesterday, I was chatting with a stranger about being present. We always tend to project our thoughts to the future or in the past.  But we are never here, never now. 

As we were exiting the elevator to start our work day the woman said, "Maybe there isn't that much to be happy about right now to keep our minds in the present."  

Then she said, "This is such a philosophical subject for such an early hour." I laughed. We wished each other good day.  The thing is, what she said is true. When we eat a delicious meal it is gobbled instead of savored with our palate.  Instead of enjoying each morsel that is placed into our mouth.  

We miss details in the busyiness of life. Like a colorful flower, beautiful beads on a dress, an intended smile. Things that are here, now, present seem to not be worth savoring, which they should, because they are our future memories. I want to practice being here in the moment and live like it was my last day on earth having permission to do nothing if I want to.  

Sep 4, 2014

Beef with Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce

I've never had gnocchi until a couple of weeks ago and I didn't know what I was missing.  What is Gnocchi? Pronounced nokey.  It is grated potatoes shaped into ovals and is an Italian invention.  It tastes like chewy pasta in a way. This dish is a balance between sweet and savory with a little kick.  I just love this dish and you will to. 

You have a choice with making this recipe.  A pressure cooker is the quickest (25 minutes) or you can slow cook the beef for about 2-2 1/2 hours.  I chose the pressure cooker. 


1 1/5 - 2 lbs beef, cut into large cubes
salt/pepper to taste
2-3 tbs vegetable or olive oil
1 tbs butter or clarified butter
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ginger, ground
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or red chili pepper
2 tbs finely chopped Italian parsley
1 chicken bouillon cube  plus 1 cup of water or 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth 
1 large onion chopped
2-3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs light brown sugar
2-14,5 oz cans of chopped tomatoes
2-3 inch cinnamon stick
1 lb gnocchi either fresh or boxed or you can add small pasta instead

Place your pot on medium to high heat.  Add the vegetable oil and butter. When the oil mixture is hot add the onions.  Saute for a couple of minutes and then add the garlic and parsley. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then add the beef chunks. Brown on all sides. 

Next, add the salt, pepper, paprika, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, bouillon cube, tomato paste, water, and saute for a couple of minutes.  Then add the canned tomatoes and chicken stock, if you are using canned. 

Place the lid on the pressure cooker and cook on medium to high heat for 25 minutes or if you are using the slow cooking method,  place on low to medium heat and simmer for 2-2 1/2 hours, till the beef is tender.  

Once the beef is tender, add the gnocchi and simmer for about 3-5 minutes.  The sauce should be thick. Remove the cinnamon stick. Garnish with parsley and serve with a salad or sauteed greens and crusty bread.  Enjoy!