Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NEW YORK CITY one year later with camera!

One year ago Kevin and I were in New York City but I forgot my camera!  Remember my little movie substitute?  Well, we had reason to go back again this past weekend.  A friend of ours (along with Al Gore) was being honored for his involvement with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and we wouldn't have missed it for... well... anything.  What a fantastic group of people.  Makes me feel like I should be doing more important things with my life.  Sincerely.

Anyway, back to New York!  We found a great apartment (via located in the theater district so we, naturally, wanted to check out the plays.  We saw two:  "Channeling Kevin Spacey" which was just so so, and "The Blue Man Group" which was fantastic! See it!  It's coming to Minnesota and book it...a.s.a.p.  Such fun!  Such creativity!
Times Square/Theater District.
(Click on photos to enlarge them.)

We had a number of good meals out including dinner at "Olives," Todd English's premier restaurant.  The food was delicious!   Escargot flatbread, scallops, sea bass, cookie plate... all wonderful.

Hungry yet? 
We got the "cookie plate" to go.  It was far too much for just the two of us!  Most of it returned to St. Paul with us!

One of our favorite things to do in New York is visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Last year we spent an entire day in the museum and never looked at paintings.  This visit that is what we did.

The museum itself is spectacular.

We also had time to visit High Line Park, former rail tracks sitting about one story above ground, recently converted from its prior function into a delightful park.

Finally, the holiday wouldn't be complete without seeing the huge Christmas tree and the skaters at Rockefeller Center.  (Click on the "play" button.)


Thursday, December 8, 2011


This one is for all of my gardening friends.  Enjoy...

Life of flowers from VOROBYOFF PRODUCTION on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Thanksgiving has come and gone, that is, all except for the left-overs.  Aren't they wonderful?!  One thing we always have left over is cranberry sauce.  It's been years since we ate canned cranberry sauce.  Why buy it in a can when it is so SO easy to make and turns out so much better?  Here is my go-to recipe.

WHOLE CRANBERRY SAUCE.  Makes about 2 cups.
*  1/2 pound fresh cranberries
*  1/4 cup port
*  1/4 cup fresh orange juice (1/2 of an orange)
*   zest from 1/2 orange
*  1/2 cup diced dried apricots
*  1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
*  1/3 cup granulated sugar
*  1/3 cup toasted pecan halves (optional)
Place everything except the nuts in a saucepan.  Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries are cooked and the sauce is thick, 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove from the heat, cool, and stir in the pecan halves.  Store covered in the refrigerator.  Sauce will keep for several weeks and is best brought to room temperature before serving.
Adapted from Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase.

So now we are moving into the Christmas season and we will have cranberry sauce left over.  What to do with it?  Make a coffeecake!  Here's a delicious and easy recipe.

*  2 extra-ripe, medium bananas, peeled
*  1 egg
*  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*  2 cups. buttermilk baking mix (such as Bisquick)
*  2 tablespoons sugar
*  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*  1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
*  1 cup cranberry sauce
*  1/2 cup packed brown sugar
*  1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
*  2 tablespoons melted butter
*  2 tablespoons flour
Preheat oven to 400º; grease a 9" square pan.
Puree banana chunks in blender or processor (to make 2/3 cup).  Add egg and vanilla to pureed bananas.  In a mixing bowl combine baking mix, sugar, cinnamon and allspice.  Beat in the banana mixture.  Pour into prepared pan.  Break up the cranberry sauce and distribute over the batter.  Make topping by stirring together all ingredients.  Sprinkle entirely over the top of the coffeecake batter.  Bake for 25 minutes or until cake tests done.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I can't post recipes for meat roasts without posting a recipe for roasted turkey... especially when tomorrow is Thanksgiving!  There are so many recipes out there that perhaps you have already developed your own special recipe, as I have.  I have tried so many recipes over the years - mostly out of curiosity.  The same can be said for the dressings/stuffings.  In that regard, I do have one dressing recipe that beats all others and yet, this year, I will again try a new recipe that includes dried figs and no celery.  Anyway, back to the task at hand!  Here is my recipe for:

Rinse, clean and dry the turkey.  Rub it all over with olive oil and sprinkle it inside and out with lots and lots of dried herbs, seasonings and paprika.  Don't be shy about loading on the herbs and seasonings;  you will want to use a lot in order to permeate the skin and flavor the turkey.  Then fill the cavity/inside with garlic cloves, onion and squeezed lemons.  Again don't be shy.  Turn the wings under the turkey, and tie up the legs.  Place the turkey, breast side up, in your roasting pan and bake it for 15 minutes in a 425ºF preheated oven; after 15 minutes lower the oven temperature to 325ºF.  Baste the turkey from time to time with butter and pan drippings.  When the turkey is perfectly browned, cover the pan.  Bake about 15 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature reaches 170ºF deep in the thigh area.  When done, remove from oven and let rest while other food preparation is completed.  Carve and enjoy!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


A new cooking school, Chefs' Abode, recently opened at 805 Sibley Memorial Highway in Lilydale.

To spread the word, they offered an online coupon for a discount on a cooking class.  Lucky for me, my niece, Colette, purchased two for us to use together.  On Sunday we attended our participation class:  "Holiday Brunch at Home."  Here was the menu:
*  Belgian Waffles
*  Dried Cherry Scones
*  Roasted Vegetables
*  Roasted Vegetable Frittata
*  Parmesan Croustades
*  Hash Browns
*  Maple-Cayenne Bacon
*  Roasted Apple Bourbon Bread Pudding with Pecans

What a fun way to blow my low-carb diet!

If you want any of these recipes, just let me know and I'll post them.  In the meantime, I know I have some bacon-lovers out there who read my blog so I thought I'd share the bacon recipe with you.

*  1 pound bacon
*  1/4 cup pure maple syrup
*  1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a small bowl, stir together the maple syrup and cayenne.  Place the bacon in a single layer over the parchment, and with a pastry brush, brush the bacon slices with syrup.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until bacon is cooked but not crisp.

Monday, November 21, 2011


We got our first snowfall this past Saturday, and we will now put our grill away for the winter.  Continuing the theme of easy comfort foods for when we enjoy having our ovens on, the recipe below is for a delicious, moist, and very easy pork roast.

Preheat oven to 425º.  Combine the following ingredients in a small bowl:
*  4 large garlic cloves, pressed
*  4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
*  1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
*  1 teaspoon ground black pepper
*  3 tablespoons olive oil
Rub mixture all over a 2-3 pound boneless pork loin roast.  Place the pork, fat side up, in a roasting pan and roast the pork until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 150º, about 50-60 minutes.  Remove roast from the oven and let stand 10 minutes.   Slice pork crosswise into 1/3 inch pieces; arrange on a platter, and pour pan drippings over the meat.  Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and serve with applesauce.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Now that cooler weather has returned we can resume using our ovens to make great winter comfort foods.  First up - Beef Pot Roast.  Here is an easy and reliably delicious recipe.

Beef Pot Roast.  Serves 4+
*  1 tablespoon olive oil
*  2-3 pounds boneless chuck roast
*  2 cloves of garlic, minced
*  1 large onion, chopped
*  2 bay leaves
*  Other optional herbs/spices such as anise/fennel; thyme; coriander...
*  1/2 teaspoon salt
*  1/2 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 325º F.  Heat a heavy Dutch oven on top of the stove over medium high heat.  Add oil, and sear the beef well on both sides.  Remove the beef to a plate.   Add the remaining ingredients to the pot; stir; and return the beef, slightly nestling it into the other ingredients.  Cover the pot and cook the beef in the oven for 30 minutes at 325º.  Then reduce the heat to 300º and continue cooking for 1-1/2 hours.  Remove the roast to a platter and let rest about 10 minutes.  Slice and top with onions and meat juices.


Monday, October 24, 2011


The apple harvest is coming to an end and I can't let the season go by without posting a couple of the apple recipes I've made in the past couple weeks.  Both recipes are very easy, yet special in their own ways.

Apple-Scotch Cookies
These cookies are very light and cake-like.  They are amazing immediately out of the oven!
*  2 cups all-purpose flour
*  2 teaspoons baking soda
*  1 teaspoon cinnamon
*  3/4 teaspoon salt
*  1-1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
*  3/4 cup butter, softened
*  2 eggs
*  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*  2 cups (12 oz.) butterscotch chips
*  2 cups finely chopped apple
*  1 cup quick oats, uncooked
Preheat oven to 350ºF.  In a small bowl, combine flour, soda, cinnamon & salt.  In a large bowl, combine brown sugar and butter; beat until fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in butterscotch chips, apple and oats.  Using a rounded tablespoon for each cookie, drop dough onto lightly greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350º about 10-12 minutes.  Cool 1 minute; remove to wire racks.  Cool completely.  Makes about 4 dozen (net, after eating a few of the cookies fresh from the oven!).

Apple Torte
This recipe for Apple Torte is delicious, easy and special enough to serve for guests.  I've made it a number of times and it always comes out perfectly.
*  1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
*  1/3 cup sugar
*  1 teaspoon vanilla
*  1 cup flour
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla; blend in flour.  Spread mixture over bottom and 1/1/2 inches up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
*  8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
*  1/4 cup sugar
*  1 egg, at room temperature
*  1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Cream cheese and sugar; blend in the egg and vanilla.  Spread mixture evenly over the crust.
*  1/3 cup sugar
*  1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*  4 cups peeled, thinly sliced apples (Granny Smiths/Heraldsons are great)
*  1/4 cup sliced almonds
Combine sugar and cinnamon; toss apples in the mixture.  Spread over the cheese layer.  Sprinkle almonds on top.

Preheat oven to 450º.  Bake 10 minutes (watch carefully so almonds don't get too toasted).  Reduce oven temperature to 400º; bake 25 minutes longer.  Loosen from pan rim and cool before removing from the pan.  When fully cooled, or just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


We're just back from a trip out east and have some great photos to entice your appetites!  As you go through the photos notice the beautiful presentation of the food.  We are so used to putting our foods in their own little piles on the plate, a practice that doesn't do much to stimulate the appetite.  Food scientists have studied human behavior based on preconceptions.  For example, they have found that if you tell a person that a high quality, expensive bottle of wine costs only $6, most tasters will say that they don't like the wine.  Conversely, if you tell tasters that a cheap bottle of wine costs $99 they will likely say that they love the wine!  When people sit down to a beautiful table, and the food is presented in an attractive manner, they will enjoy the food much more than they would otherwise.  So, give thought to how you may make the presentation of your food dishes more attractive, particularly when you entertain.  Hint:  A sprig of parsley won't do!

Toasted sesame seeds, tarragon and a dot of creme fraiche create a "flower."
A lovely presentation for an appetizer, on an interesting plate.  The greens in the center pull the dish together.

A salad of roasted pears, walnuts, greens and blue cheese on a plate that complements the salad.
Serving this salad on a blue plate really brings out the colors.

This entree is almost too beautiful to eat!  Can you name all of the components of the dish?

Imagine serving this entree in little piles of each food item?  It just wouldn't be the same!

Can you name all of the components to this dish?  There are so many that it really needs to be served on a white plate - the bigger the better.

Here we do have a presentation of little piles but notice the colors, textures and arrangement of each item.  The beurre blanc pulls it all together.


Lobster always looks good to me but this is off the charts!  And it tasted divine!

And now for dessert!

Enough said!  Now I'm hungry!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Green beans are now readily available at farmers' markets and they are such a treat!  I think everyone likes green beans! 

Here are a few ideas for dressing up green beans for everyday, and for company.

*  Saute garlic in olive oil and/or butter; add lemon juice, lemon zest and steamed green beans.
*  Toss steamed green beans with chopped, roasted red peppers.
*  Toss steamed green beans with sesame oil, fresh grated ginger and toasted sesame seeds.
*  Saute slivered almonds in butter until toasted, add steamed green beans and heat through.
*  Fry cut pieces of bacon or prosciutto, pour out the grease, add steamed green beans and heat through.
*  Toss steamed green beans with peanut oil, red chillies, minced garlic and oyster sauce.
*  Toss warm, steamed green beans with butter and fresh chopped tarragon/chive/basil/thyme.

Always prepare a much larger batch than you intend to use that day.  Adding these green beans to a salad is a delicious way to eat the left-overs.

Do you know what "haricots verts" are?  If you've taken any French classes this is easy for you.  Translated exactly to English they are beans green.  More specifically, they are a slender variety of a snap bean developed originally in France.  I've never been able to taste any difference between the green beans we typically see in stores and haricots verts; so I use them interchangeably.  FYI, here is the correct pronunciation of haricots verts:  är-ē-kō-ˈver

Monday, August 22, 2011


About 45 minutes northeast of the Twin Cities is the delightful Franconia Sculpture Park.  See: for details.  Yesterday Kevin and I were passing through and stopped to see what was new since our last visit.  It was fabulous!  These photos tell the story.

Boat & Anchor.

 Garden Bench.
 Suspended House.
 Orange & Yellow
 Into the Maze.
 Holding up the Earth.
 Purple & Pink Bunker.
 House Constructed from Free Items on Craigslist.
 Craigslist House - Framed.
 Lizard Lounge.
 "Amble" - a prehistoric garden bench.
 Man Coming Apart.
Gym Set.
All sculptures in the park are available for sale!  I could use one for my sculpture garden!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Ryan and his close friend, Carly, were visiting us this week. Since they live in Hong Kong, even a short visit is greatly welcomed. We only had four days which translated to two dinners "at home." Since Carly is British, we decided to have one traditional Minnesota meal. In 1965, Minnesota crowned walleye the official state fish, so we decided on walleye served with wild rice. For the other meal, I prepared my version of "Mexican" or "Southwest." Here are three recipes from the meals.

* 1 cup (4 oz) sliced almonds
* Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1-1/2 lb. walleye fillets
* 1/2 cup flour
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
In a shallow bowl, combine almonds, lemon zest, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Roll each fillet in flour, dip in beaten egg, then gently roll in almond mixture, covering both sides well with all 3 coatings.
In a large skillet, heat butter and oil until very hot. Reduce heat to medium and saute fillets until crispy and brown, about four minutes on each side.
This recipe is from "The Cafe Brenda Cookbook."

I served this with my own version of GARLIC AIOLI which is made to taste. I start with a good, real mayonnaise, then add to taste: finely chopped or pressed garlic, finely diced tomato, grated lemon peel, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, capers, and whatever herbs I care to add. For this meal I added chopped dill.

One of the dishes I made for the "fun" meal was corn pudding. This dish works well for any meal (especially Thanksgiving), and it always gets great reviews. I got the recipe from a friend, having tasted it at her dinner party. She served it in individual ramekins, but I simply double the recipe and bake it in a large casserole dish. Below is the recipe as Eileen gave it to me.

CORN PUDDING. This mixture can be prepared early in day and refrigerated. Stir before filling the dish(es).
* 1 small onion, minced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/4 cup butter
* 4-5 drops Tabasco sauce
* 1 tablespoon chopped dill
* 2 tablespoons chopped chives
* 1 8-oz. box corn muffin mix (Jiffy)
* 1 egg
* 1 15-oz can cream-style corn
* 1/3 cup milk or cream
* 1/2-3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
* 1 cup buttermilk
   Preheat oven to 350º. Over medium heat saute onion and garlic until soft. Add Tabasco sauce, dill and chives; then cool. In a medium bowl, mix corn muffin mix, egg, corn, milk, cheese and buttermilk. Add onion mixture and stir. Pour into a greased 2-1/2 or 3 quart casserole and bake one hour.
   FOR INDIVIDUAL RAMEKINS: This recipe makes 7 ramekins measuring 3" in diameter and 1-1/2" height.
Spray ramekins with oil and fill each ramekin 7/8" full will the batter. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350º. They are done when a tooth pick comes out clean and the tops are browned. Let ramekins rest for about 10 minutes and turn upside down to unmold. Leave the ramekin on top to keep them warm until ready to be served; then remove the ramekin and flip pudding over so that the golden top is showing.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Until my friend Karen introduced me to the world of daylilies, I thought that daylilies consisted of the ubiquitious "tiger lilies" and "Stella d'Oro."  Thank you, Karen!  Now, when July comes around, my garden explodes in a riot of daylilies. 
This was a gift, without a name.
 "Mokan Butterfly"
"Siloam Ury Winniford"
 "Jackie's Choice"
 "Lady Liz"
 "Red Volunteer"
"Hyperion" - a lovely pale yellow and one of the older daylily varieties.  It goes so well with Russian Sage.
Here's an update on some other things going on in the garden.
Sometimes the flowers on hostas aren't very attractive and we clip them off.  I keep the flowers on this one!
 These are (not quite yet) red table grapes.