Friday, May 30, 2014

Berry, Berry Good

In the process of cleaning out the pantry last week, I found a ziploc bag of recipes that I thought was gone forever. The ripped-out magazine page on the top was for this berry cake that I had made a few years ago. I had often wished I could make it again, but could never find the recipe. Until now. I should clean the pantry more often.

I hate to admit that after I bought the berries to bake this, plans changed and the berries languished in the refrigerator for too long. So when I pulled out all of the ingredients to start mixing, the blackberries and raspberries had passed their prime. It really hurt to throw them out. 

But since I already had the rest of the ingredients out on the counter, I figured I'd try the recipe with frozen berries. We make a lot of smoothies, so I had a couple of bags of mixed berries in the freezer. I also added a few frozen dark sweet cherries to the cake pan, just because I had some of those, too. The fresh blueberries were fine still so I used them for the garnish.

This is not the typical sweet dessert that Southerns love. It's a moderately sweet cake. I do think it's best the day you bake it. Finish it the next day, for sure.

And I didn't use basil this time because we had just planted ours and there was none ready to cut yet. Last time I did use it and I liked the addition of the unexpected flavor. It works either way. 


1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, and/or blackberries (I used frozen berries, straight from freezer)
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon finely snipped fresh basil (I didn't have any this time)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
more berries and fresh basil or mint to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line bottom with parchment paper, grease again. Arrange 1/1/2 cups of berries on bottom of pan; set aside. In a bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, basil, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, milk and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until combined; pour over berries. Spread evenly.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan 5 minutes. Run knife around edge of pan to loosen sides. Invert onto cake plate. Remove parchment. Spoon glaze over. Top with berries and mint leaves.


1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Whisk together. Spoon or lightly brush on warm cake.

Next time I would make more of the lemon glaze. A little more would add a bit more sweetness and moisten the cake a little, too, if I poked a few holes in the cake before I spooned it over. This cake might be nice with a small scoop of lemon sorbet served on side, too.

It's good to know that the frozen berries worked just as well as the fresh ones. I just poured them into the pan while still frozen. When the cake was done, I couldn't tell any difference. I'll likely stick with using the frozen berries now. They are cheaper and don't spoil!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Making It Easy

Crazy, isn't it? How long it takes to change over to another schedule. But I'm about there—back on farm time. That means I've been puttering in the kitchen a bit more. After a couple of peaceful days at the lake, I was ready to cook. Looking at what was in the pantry and in the refrigerator last night, I decided it was the time to try my hand at homemade pizza again.

The last time I made it, I remember thinking the dough was easy to put together, but I had trouble getting the shaped crust onto a heated pizza stone. It must have really been a pain because last night I couldn't find that stone anywhere! Did I really get rid of it in a fit of frustration? So this time I just used a pan. Much easier.

I also tried a slightly different recipe. If you start looking up recipes for pizza crust, you'll find that they are all pretty much the same. There are slight differences in the mixing directions and in some statements, such as, "You should always use bread flour" and "You should never use bread flour." To me, that says just use whichever you have on the shelf.

This time I used Bobby Flay's recipe because I liked the easy way he mixed the dough. There is also a super short video with his recipe to let you see what the dough should look like. If you haven't tried yeast dough recipes before, that helps.

     -adapted from Bobby Flay' recipe

3-1/2 to 4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope instant dry yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1-1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons to grease bowl

Combine 3-1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. While mixer is running (use dough hook), add the water slowly, then 2 tablespoons olive oil and beat until dough into a ball.
If dough is sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time until dough comes together in a ball. If dough is too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. 
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth ball.

Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, add dough, turning over to coat top with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm place to let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in 2 equal parts. Cover each with plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.

That's where Bobby's recipe stops. So I'll continue on with the "how to make pizza" part.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Shape one piece of dough into a circle and press into a 14-inch pan that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. (last night I used a 12-inch pan and had a thicker crust) or just press it into a rectangle shape on a cookie sheet.
Press edge up into a rim. Spread with toppings of your choice.
Bake on low rack for 10-15 minutes, or until crust is browned.
Refrigerate (for a couple of days) or freeze the other dough ball, if not using now. (I'll let you know how the frozen dough works out.)

The pizza was delicious. The best part, though, was sitting down to a simple supper on the porch with Daddy-O.

You can check here for a couple of pizza sauce recipes I've made before. That link also gives you the recipe I used last time. No dough hook or mixer required. I think either recipe could be made with a mixer or by hand. This is not rocket science! Google for more pizza ideas or check Pineterest.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Salad Supper

I'm still in slow motion, so I knew if I made pasta salad this afternoon, we could eat it for the next few days. It just gets better and better. Usually I am making this by the gallon for the work camp our church hosts every summer. I've made it many times, but this may be the first time I've made a single recipe just for us. And because this is the very nicest weather we've had this year, we enjoyed our dinner on the porch. We also finished up the Apple Cole Slaw from last night. It was better than it was last night. When I make it again, I'll be sure to make it the day before—or, at least early in the day.

The only secret I know for the pasta salad to use a big assortment of vegetables. I try to get lots of color into my mix. This afternoon I chopped zucchini, carrot, celery, green pepper, onion, cucumber, grape tomatoes, broccoli and I cooked fresh corn and cut it off the cob. The corn adds a nice touch of sweetness. Another hint is to put a large pot of water on to boil before you start chopping. A big pot of water takes forever to come to a boil.

To keep from washing more pots, when the water for the pasta came to a boil, I dunked in the broccoli to blanch it for a minute. (Yep, I held it by the stem and dunked it.) Then I let the corn (on the cob) cook for five minutes and took it out. Then I cooked the bowtie pasta in the same water. Much faster clean up than usual. 


1 (16-oz) box of pasta -- bowtie, penne, or rotini
5 cups of chopped fresh vegetables
fresh parsley, chopped (if you have it)
1 (16-oz) bottle Italian salad dressing

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cold water. Drain well. Put pasta and vegetables and parsley into a large bowl. Add salad dressing and Salad Supreme Seasoning. Toss gently until mixed well. Cover. Refrigerate for 4 hours, or until ready to serve.

This recipe filled a 5-quart plastic container. 

One of the perks of dining on the porch is that we get to watch the creatures playing in our backyard. (It is not quite as much fun as watching Little Sister and Baby Girl, though.) Last night it was quail. Tonight we watched the rabbits hopping around and saw deer in the pasture. I'm glad we live in the country.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Looking For Rhythm

It's been an adjustment. I keep trying to change gears in my car with the windshield wiper control. It's in the place where I DID change gears on Mommy's car. I have reached over the oven three times today to get my cutting board. That's where Mommy keeps her cutting board. Mine is under the sink. I have cut the oven off while trying to set the timer because I forgot how my own oven worked.

I am waking up at a different time, too, because I switched time zones. Sometimes it feels like I'm in the twilight zone as I work my way back into the routine here. After nearly three months out there, I am trying to get re-oriented here, trying to get back into the rhythm of a two-person household.

Since I was away for so long, the groceries were at an all-time low when I got home. It was a good time to clean the pantry before I shopped. I found things I had forgotten about. I figured I'd better find ways to use up the things that were nearing the date on the label. I set out the things that needed to be used soon. A bottle of barbecue sauce and a jar of salsa that I found were the start of tonight's supper, because I had just seen a recipe for Peach Pork BBQ Sliders on the Eat At Home blog. 


2-1/2 to 3 lb pork roast or pork loin
16-oz bottle barbecue sauce
16-oz jar peach salsa (I used Archer Farms Pineapple/Peach salsa)

Put the roast in crockpot. Pour barbecue sauce and salsa over the top. Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours (or HIGH for 4-5 hours.)
Remove meat to pan and shred. Return meat to sauce in crockpot.


14-oz bag cole slaw mix
handful of chopped fresh parsley
1 apple, chopped
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
salt & pepper to taste.

Toss cole slaw mix, parsley and apple in a large bowl. Measure oil in a glass measuring cup. Add sugar and vinegar and stir until sugar is dissolve. Pour over slaw mix and stir to combine. Refrigerate for a while to let flavors blend.

Serve BBQ topped with slaw on slider rolls (I used Sara Lee Dinner Rolls.)

There was plenty for our supper, some for lunch tomorrow and I put two quart bags of pork in the freezer for later.  The slaw was delicious—a lighter, fresher taste than the typical mayonnaise version.

My knitting brain is foggy, too. So until the fog lifts, I am working on the simplest project. This morning I started a pair of socks, using a plain "vanilla" sock pattern—it's just rows and rows and rows of plain knitting. No counting. No thinking. Just keep knitting. But this one is a little more fun because I found this fantastic self-striping watermelon yarn. It's from 

Surely it won't be much longer until my brain and my body get in synch. In the meantime, I'll enjoy this  slowed down way of living. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Saying Goodbye

One last morning with Baby Girl. 
I gave her a bottle as the sun was coming up.

One last day with Little Sister.
She "helped" me pack.

Just so you know, I didn't leave Big Sister out—she left for school early and I'll be gone when she gets home. BUT I did set my clock early this morning and made chicken salad for her. (Yes, I was making chicken salad at 6:00 AM.) So her chicken salad sandwich at lunchtime today will be my goodbye to her.

It's been ten weeks. We've had blizzards and tornado threats and hot weather. We had three hospital stays (in two different hospitals) and visited an ER, an urgent care (twice) and three doctor offices. We cycled through worry, anxiety, joy, relief, fun, exhaustion, happiness, and exhaustion (again.) I've read, bathed, scolded, soothed, diapered, cooked, washed and cleaned and sung a thousand bedtime songs. I've rocked a fresh born baby girl for hours. I've slept occasionally. 

We also visited a world class museum to see paintings by Picasso and Matisse and Renoir. We ate at fun new (to us) restaurants known mostly to the locals. We watched Hallmark movies and Bachelor Father reruns in the middle of the night. Big Sister made popcorn for movie nights for just the two of us a couple of times.

It has been the ultimate grandmother gig. What a privilege. But it's time to go back to the farm and Daddy-O.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Early Morning Snuggles And Impossible Pie

Let's be honest. I am missing a lot of sleep doing this grandmother duty. It will be nice to sleep a little more when I get home. But I will miss the early morning time with Baby Girl and it's even better on the mornings that Little Sister wakes early and squeezes into the chair with us for a snuggle while we wait for Big Sister to get ready for school

My days here are winding down. I will miss having a lap full of babies every day. I will miss chatting with Big Sister while I drive her to school. But it is time to head back to the farm. I also miss Daddy-O. It has been a privilege to be here to help out for several weeks. (Or rather, a lot of weeks!) When the grandmother lives a thousand miles away from the grandchildren, the visits are few and far between, so this has been a rare time for us.

I have told Mommy that while I'm here for a few more days, she'd better take advantage of having a live-in baby sitter. So tonight she is going to her book club for the first time in months. The girls and I will have supper here.

I'm making an impossible pie tonight. I made these often when my girls where young. It is certainly not fancy food. It is just a basic good recipe that will fill up the children. I just need to put them to bed not hungry! They don't have to rave about the dinner.

If you google "impossible pie" you can find a zillion variations, both savory and sweet. I'm using the directions for the Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie. But to keep from dashing to the store for ground beef, I used a bag of Sloppy Joe meat mixture that was in the freezer. (In this house, it's made with ground turkey.) That meant I thawed instead of browning. Other than that, I've followed the directions exactly. I suppose technically that means we are having "Sloppy Joe Pie."


1 lb. lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup original Bisquick mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9-inch glass pie plate with PAM.

In a large skillet, cook ground beef and onion over medium heat until brown, breaking meat apart as you cook it. Drain. Stir in salt.

Spread in pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese.

In a small bowl, stir milk, egg and Bisquick with a fork or whisk until blended. Pour into pie plate over meat and cheese.

Bake about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes and clean. Let it stand for about 10-15 minutes before cutting.

These impossibly easy pies are such fun—the recipe makes its own crust like magic! For years, a very long time ago, I was a member of the Bisquick Club and received a newsletter with recipes and tips in the mail each month. My Bisquick usage has dwindled along with the amount of real mail I get now. But it is still a time saver when you need something quick. You might want to keep a small box or pouch on hand.

PS  Both girls asked for seconds of the "sloppy joe pie" tonight. That's as good a recommendation as you'll get!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Caps And Cooking

During my extended stay here in the midwest, I did find minutes here and there to knit. For me that's a soothing activity when things get crazy. And things here did get crazy. There is a wonderful yarn shop just minutes away from Mommy's house, and I found friends there to visit with when I could slip away for a bit. It was nice to be so far from home and walk into this shop and be greeted with the words, "How's the baby?"  That made me feel not so far from home.

I knitted caps for Baby Girl and caps for Jessica's friends and co-workers. It was a chance to try lots of different yarns and needle sizes and to try a new ribbed hat pattern. My favorite yarn for these little caps was discontinued a couple of years ago. After working with Lorna's Lace Sock, Bamtastic, Spud & Cloe Sock, I think my new favorite is Rowan Wool Cotton. It was nice to have Baby Girl to model these assorted little newborn caps. I love making a cap because it's such a quick knit and new baby things are just cute.

Here is another recipe I made while Mommy was in the hospital. I was looking for fast and easy. It's a recipe from my home economist days. When I made this originally, it was a crustless and cooked in the microwave. I taught many microwave cooking classes when the microwave was a brand new appliance.

Now I make it in a pie shell and bake it in the oven. I am trying to get some of these recipes I like that are only in my head written down here, so that my girls can know how I do things.

For this quiche I used broccoli and onion—because that is what I found in Mommy's refrigerator. But you could use other vegetables. Or, you could do a ham, onion, cheese version. Or, add some crumbled bacon to this broccoli version. Change the cheese to match the other ingredients. Just use your imagination. Or, use up your leftovers! Precooking the vegetables is a good idea, too. Next time, I would saute the chopped onion.

I will be honest. I didn't really measure the vegetable part or the cheese. Just use enough to fill the pie shell. But the milk/egg mix is always the same. That's the part I can always remember—4 eggs and a "tall can of milk." That's what my mother called a 12-oz can of evaporated milk. It's the temperature and cooking time I needed to write down for future use.


You can use meat and vegetable fillings of your choice, but here is roughly what I did. The critical part is the "custard" (the milk & egg part)—that stays the same regardless of the meat and/or vegetables you use.

1 9-inch deep dish frozen pie shell
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
black pepper to taste

Here is what I used this time--the part I didn't measure:
1 crown fresh broccoli, steamed and chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Add vegetables to the pie shell. Sprinkle cheese over. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour into pie shell over vegetables. 
Place filled pie shell on a cookie sheet and place on center rack in oven. (Put a sheet of foil under pie shell for easy clean up.) 
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until "custard" is set and top is golden brown.

While I doubt that Little Sister would ever say this was her favorite (although at Sunday School yesterday she told the teacher that her favorite food was carrots—NOT!) she did eat it and seemed to enjoy it. I always think that if a three-year-old will eat something, it will usually be liked by most other folks.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Keeping It Simple

Things here are settling down as everyone adjusts to a new routine—one that involves a new baby. (Please let the 3:30 AM feeding pass quickly.) I love watching Little Sister care for her "baby" as she watches her mommy tend to Baby Girl. My own help is being needed less and less. I actually have a date for my return to the farm. But I will miss all of the girls here. Even the Bitty Baby!

Part of my grandmother duties while here helping out this young family has been getting supper on the table. Last night Mommy pulled a Pork Tenderloin with Herb Rub from the freezer. I just needed to make side dishes. Preferably without making another trip to the store. 

When I checked the pantry, I saw a can of pineapple chunks and I though about this recipe. Although I had not made it in years, I remembered how good it was. This used to be standard at covered dish dinners. Maybe it's time for a come-back. 

My photo is not terrific because I didn't think about making one until after supper. This one little bowl full was all that was left after everyone had seconds.


1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 (20-oz) can of pineapple chunks in juice, drained (reserve some of the juice)
3 tablespoons of the reserved pineapple juice
1/2 cup crushed Ritz cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 1 quart baking dish. (Mine was 6 x 9-inches)
In a bowl, stir together sugar and flour, then stir in cheese. Add the drained pineapple chunks and stir until well mixed. Pour into baking dish.

In another bowl, combine cracker crumbs, melted butter and reserved pineapple juice. Stir gently until combined. Spread crumb mixture over pineapple mixture.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

This can be easily doubled.

When Mommy is fully in charge of meals in a couple of weeks, she can add this easy recipe to her repertoire. She's going to need every trick in the book to get supper on the table for a while. She is already good about cooking double and freezing a meal for later. Hopefully she will find other easy recipes here on my blog. It's one way I can help from afar.