Monday, December 30, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Antique Postcard.

I was recently told that the term "antique" refers to items that are at least 100 years old.  The term "vintage" refers to items that are less than 100 years old.  This postcard was produced by the Raphael Tuck & Sons company, printed in Berlin, and postmarked in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 1, 1908.  That makes it an "antique."  


Wednesday, December 25, 2013



Saturday, December 21, 2013


Ahhhh... Holiday Shopping!  What to get everyone?!?  Check out this vintage postcard for a few ideas.

Okay, I can understand some of these ideas... Fruit Cake, for example.  Not everyone likes it, though I do!  But can you imagine buying a case of Coca Cola for that special person on your list?  I'm hoping Kevin has other ideas for my gifts.  LOL!  

Thursday, December 19, 2013


On Sunday my niece, Colette, invited me, her sister, and her mother (my sister) over for a day of Christmas cookie baking.  How do these look?  Pretty good for a day's work, not to mention all of the fun we had!

The sugar cookies in the lower portion of the photo come from a recipe I got many years ago from one of my Camp Fire Girls.  As soon as I gave the recipe to my sister she renamed the recipe as "Adina's Sugar Cookies."   I'm pleased to get my name on such fantastic cookies!   These cookies are no-fail, buttery, tender and crisp; and because the recipe makes four to five dozen cookies, it is fortunate that they freeze well.  

Over the years, these cookies have been the only cookies I have typically made for Christmas.  Although they can be made anytime of the year (using a simple sugar on the top), they work well for Christmas, as you can see from the photo.   Here we used a cookie press to get the pretty design.  Otherwise, I simply use a glass.  

SUGAR COOKIES.  Makes 4 to 5 dozen.
*  1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
*  1 cup regular sugar 
*  1 cup butter
Cream above together and add:
*  1 cup vegetable oil
*  2 eggs
*  2 teaspoons vanilla
Beat in a mixture of:
*  5 cups flour
*  1 teaspoon baking soda
*  1 teaspoon cream of tarter
*  1 teaspoon salt
Form dough into walnut size ball.  Dip glass into sugar (white or colored) and press dough to about 1/4 inch.  Before dipping the glass into sugar for the first cookie, you will want to get the bottom of the glass ready to hold the sugar by first pushing the glass into the dough.   Bake 350º for 10-12 minutes.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

APPETIZER: Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers

Our Cooking Club recently had a holiday party and, like last year, we all brought appetizers.  I decided in advance that I would feature on my blog the tastiest, best appetizer.  Dolly brought Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers.  Not only were they really tasty, this appetizer would work for any number of parties, from formal to casual.  As you can see, the recipe is also easy to make.

*  12-18 Sweet Mini Peppers (halved and seeded)
*  8 oz package of Cream Cheese (softened)
*  8 oz shredded cheddar cheese or shredded Monterrey jack
*  1 tbsp lime juice (or up to 1/2 lime)
*  1 tbsp fresh cilantro
*  1/2 tsp garlic salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash and slice the peppers in half long ways. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
In another bowl mix together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, lime, cilantro, and garlic salt.
Spoon or pipe the filling into each of the pepper halves.
Place in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Serve warm.

Thank you for bringing these, Dolly! 
*Note:  This recipe comes from

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Today was the holiday party for the cooking club I belong to.  It is the most fun event for me of all our luncheons!  We meet at a member's home and we all bring appetizers; a few members bring other things.  Today member Barb had a gift for each of us:  Lime Ginger Salt.  What a great idea for a holiday gift!  I asked for the recipe and she indicated that it could be found at the Country Living site.   Click on the hypertext to find that recipe, along with recipes for a number of other salts.   This is a great idea for hostess gifts or for gifts to your foodie friends.  I'm looking forward to trying out the Lime Ginger Salt on fish.

Thank you, Barb!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I previously posted a recipe for snickerdoodle cookies but then found this recipe for snickerdoodle bars and thought I better give it a try.   Here's the recipe:

*  2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
*  1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
*  1/2 teaspoon salt
*  3/4 cup butter, softened
*  1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
*  1/2 cup packed brown sugar
*  3 eggs
*  1 teaspoon vanilla
Cinnamon Filling:
*  1 tablespoon granulated sugar
*  1 tablespoon cinnamon
*  1 cup powdered sugar
*  1 to 2 tablespoons milk/cream
*  1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1.  Heat oven to 350ºF.  Spray or grease bottom only of a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.  In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
2.  In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on high speed until creamy.  Beat in sugars.  Gradually beat eggs and vanilla into sugar mixture until combined.  On low speed, beat in dry ingredients until combined.
3.  Spoon half the batter into pan; spread evenly.  Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over batter.
4.  Dollop teaspoon size amounts of remaining batter evenly over cinnamon-sugar mixture.
5.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.
6.  In small bowl, stir glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle.  Drizzle over bars.  

NOTE:  For a more "festive" look, sprinkle with colored sugar or other topping of your choice.

I can report that they turned out very well!  They have a nice soft and light texture with a deep cinnamon taste.  If you like snickerdoodle cookies, I think you'll like these bars.

Monday, November 18, 2013


It began in 1949.  Bakers throughout America entered Pillsbury's Grand National Bake-Off.  One hundred finalists joined together at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York to compete for $100,000 in prizes and the title "Cook of the Year."

On November 11, 2013 the 46th Annual Bake-Off was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, and well known TV chef, Padma Lakshmi, announced the winner.  Her prize was $1 Million for her Loaded Potato Pinwheels.  Times have certainly changed in the Bake-Off contest.  Although it is still required that  Pillsbury/General Mills products be used in the recipes, the products today are manufactured food products rather than just Pillsbury flour which was the primary ingredient used in 1949.

For those of you who don't know of  Pillsbury, it began in 1872 in Minneapolis, Minnesota by Charles Pillsbury and his uncle, John Pillsbury.  At the time, its rival was General Mills, which subsequently purchased the company in 2001.    "Pillsbury" is now a brand name used by the General Mills Company which is still based in Minneapolis, and which is among the largest food producers in the world.

Tonight is the annual Bake Sale by the Garden Club of Ramsey County.  To commemorate the Bake-Off, my contribution to the bake sale is a recipe out of this Pillsbury book, copyright 1959:

The recipe I chose, "Cocoa-Pink Cuplets" was from Mrs. Robert Hoefer, Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Cocoa-Pink Cuplets
Bake at 375º for 20 to 25 minutes.  Makes about 2 dozen.
Sift together:
*  2 cups sifted Pillsbury's Best All Purpose Flour
*  1 tablespoon cocoa and
*  1 teaspoon salt.  Set aside.
*  1-1/4 cups sugar gradually to
*  3/4 cup shortening, creaming well.
Blend in:
*  2 unbeaten eggs and
*  1 teaspoon vanilla
*  1 teaspoon soda and
*  1 cup cold water.  Add alternately with the dry ingredients to creamed mixture.  Blend well after each addition.
Fill muffin cups, lined with paper baking cups, half full.
*  1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces and
*  1/2 cup nuts, chopped, over cupcake batter.
Bake at 375º for 20 to 25 minutes.

"Sifting" the dry ingredients.
 Creaming the sugar and shortening.
 All assembled for baking.
 All ready to eat (or to take to the Bake Sale!!).

Friday, November 8, 2013


A good friend of mine has been making cold brewed coffee for years and I have always enjoyed having coffee at her home.  For ages I've been saying that I'm going to start making coffee her way and I finally did! Now I will never go back to hot drip coffee; cold brewed is significantly more smooth (non-acidic), and has a deep coffee flavor.

To begin, I went to and bought the "Toddy Cold Brew System" which cost about $35 with extra filters.

The Toddy System comes with the white brew container, 2 rubber plugs for the bottom of the brew container, the carafe and its lid.
 The System that I purchased also came with extra filters.

Of course, coffee should be made to taste and if you try out this system (which I hope you will!), you will want to adjust the amounts of coffee and water to suit your own taste.  Here is my "recipe."

1.  Place the plug in the bottom outside of the Toddy brewing container.
2.  Place the filter in the bottom inside of the container.
3.  Into the container pour one cup of fresh cold water.
4.  Coarsely grind just under 3 cups of coffee.  We use Kirkland/Costco brand coffee.  Pour the coffee into the container, gently leveling out the top.
5.  Gently and slowly drizzle 3 cups of fresh cold water over the coffee grounds in a circular manner, wetting the entire surface.
6.  Coarsely grind another slight 3 cups of coffee and pour it into the container, gently leveling out the top.
7.  Wait 5 minutes, then gently and slowly drizzle 4 cups of fresh cold water over the coffee grounds.

Here is what it will look like:

8.  Leave this on your countertop and wait 24 hours for the coffee to steep.
9.  Remove the lid from the carafe and place the brew container just above the carafe, pull the plug from the bottom of the brew container in order for the coffee to drip into the carafe.   It will take about an hour for all of the coffee to drip into the carafe.

Here the water has run out of the brew container, leaving only the grounds.  These go into my garden beds!

The coffee now in the carafe is actually a coffee CONCENTRATE.  To make coffee from the concentrate pour about 1/4 cup of the concentrate into your coffee cup, then add boiling water to the concentrate for a rich, flavorful cup of coffee.  I have found that one carafe of the concentrate makes about 32 cups of coffee.
Here are some of the benefits of cold brewed coffee:
1.  It's about 67% less acidic than hot brewed coffee, and you can distinctly notice the difference.
2.  The coffee has a deep, rich flavor.
3.  Making coffee for me is a once-a-week endeavor rather than a daily production.
4.  My husband drinks fully caffeinated coffee and I drink decaf.  Making a carafe of decaf for me and a carafe of caffeinated for him means we are both drinking the coffee we prefer, no compromises.
Thus, the Toddy cold brew system gets four thumbs up in this family!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: "FOUND MEALS OF THE LOST GENERATION - Recipes and Anecdotes from 1920's Paris" by Suzanne Rodriguez-Hunter

I just finished reading Found Meals of the Lost Generation - Recipes and Anecdotes from 1920s Paris by Suzanne Rodrigues-Hunter.  What a fun and fascinating book!!  This is a small book, and a very fast read.  I didn't want to put it down!

As the title suggests, this is a social history of American expats and the creative community of Paris in the early 1900s.  These are stories of the gatherings of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein,  Isadora Duncan, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Cole Porter and many more, and include recipes of the foods they shared.  The book begins:

They rebelled against their parents, danced to loud and shocking music, were disillusioned by war, flirted with cocaine, pushed the boundaries of sexual freedom, cut their hair geometrically and colored it with henna, loved abstract art, joined cults, flew in airplanes in a world grown small, drove fast cars, pondered their subconscious motivations, rejected conformism, and a lot of them drank or drugged too much.

Well, perhaps things haven't changed all that much but, still, this is a good introduction!

The 1920's were interesting times, and the creative community in Paris took full advantage.  Gertrude Stein played an integral role in bringing these artists, writers, dancers and musicians together.  She began as a collector of the art being produced at the time.  She had little money, and the artists whose works she was purchasing were equally living on the edge.  In little time she amassed a collection of works by Renoir, Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso, and many others.  These artists became her friends, and her collection of their works became an attraction to be seen by hundreds of young painters, writers, collectors, journalists, and their friends.  After 1920, when Alice B. Toklas moved in with Gertrude Stein, these gatherings would be catered by Toklas who was known to be an extraordinary cook.  One recipe in the book, "Nameless Cookies," inspired me to buy Toklas' book, Aromas and Flavors of the Past and Present.  Here is the recipe.

Sift together 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 2 cups white flour.  Cream 1 cup butter and add the flour mixture slowly, little by little; this procedure, stirring rather than beating as flour is added, should take about 20 minutes.  At midway point, add 1 tablespoon curacao and 1 teaspoon brandy.  When mixture has been combined, roll the dough into small 'sausage' rolls about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick.  Place on lightly oiled cookie sheet 1 inch apart in preheated 275º oven; bake 20 minutes.  Remove gently with spatula, gently sifting powdered sugar over them while still hot.  Kept in tightly closed container, cookies will last up to 3 weeks.

Otherwise, the menus and recipes of those times are not unlike what would be found in Paris today.  One menu lists caviar with blinis and cream, fresh salmon steaks in cream, roast partridge, and raspberry pie with cream.  Many of the recipes use ingredients not typically found in American grocery stores.  The recipe for Jugged Hare begins "Cut a 5-pound rabbit or hare into pieces ...".   Although we do have an abundance of rabbits, they are more often found in our gardens than in our stores.

Because of the times, and because of who these people are, these stories are highly readable.  Without hesitation, I fully recommend this book!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Time was running out for me to use my Groupon to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  I had all summer to use the Groupon and now, at the end of the summer, with so many things already done for the season, I finally found time to make the trip.  Was I in for a surprise!  There was so much in bloom and so much to see.

The roots of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum began in 1908 when the Horticultural Research Center (HRC) began developing apple varieties that could survive in Minnesota's cold winter temperatures.  Over time, HRC developed over 150 fruit and plant introductions including Haraldson and Honeycrisp apples, and the Frontenac wine grape.  In 1958, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum was officially founded.  On its 1,100-plus acres are spectacular display gardens and plant collections.  Everything is labeled and, if you're a gardener, you will invariably find new plants that you'll want to grow in your garden.  I found an especially long-blooming daylily, 'Sandra Elizabeth', an attractive hosta, 'Abba Dabba Do,'  and a number of herbs to inter plant in my perennial beds.

A labyrinth just off the Visitors' Center
A path through the Annual Garden.

 Gardens of evergreens, including dwarf Conifers.

Rose garden.

This lovely plant is Abelmoschus esculentus 'Jing Orange' Okra.   Yes, this beautiful plant produces edible okra.

In the Japanese Garden.

In the Conservatory.
 Sculpture Garden.
 Sculpture Garden.
Highbush Cranberry.   What a spectacular shrub!
Woodland wildflower gardens.
A pretty little garden amongst the many.  This walking path doesn't lead anywhere, but it looks like it does!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Now is the time to pick up all of those fresh and lush veggies needed to make a big batch of gazpacho.  This is one of the easiest soups one could possibly make, and one of the most delicious!  On top of that, there is no cooking to heat up your already hot kitchen.  I love having it on hand to add to our late summer meals.  Consider serving it with Mary Steenburgen's Corn Pudding.

GAZPACHO.  Serves 8.
*  2-1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, seeded
*  3 large garlic cloves, chopped
*  3 tablespoons almonds (preferably no skin)
*  2 cucumbers, peeled, seeds removed, and diced
*  3/4 cup diced sweet onion [Videlia is great!]
*  3 cups rich chicken stock [Substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian option.]
*  2 teaspoons sugar or sugar substitute
*  2 teaspoons salt (kosher)
*  6 drops Tabasco sauce (or finely diced jalapeno, to taste)
*  1 teaspoon white pepper
*  1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
*  1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
*  1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
In the bowl of a food processor combine tomatoes, garlic, almonds, half of the cucumber, jalapeno (if using in lieu of Tabasco), and 1 cup of the onion.  Pulse until mixture is finely pureed.  Pour into a large bowl.  Whisk in chicken stock, sugar, salt, Tabasco (if using in lieu of jalapeno), and pepper.  Blend well.  Then vigorously whisk in olive oil, vinegar and cilantro.  Add in the remaining cucumber and onion.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Chill at least 4 hours.

 This recipe generally follows the recipe for gazpacho in the book Garlic, Garlic, Garlic by Linda and Fred Griffith.

Friday, August 30, 2013


If you're a foodie, you will know all about Farmers' Markets.  The joy in visiting a market filled with fresh veggies is indescribable; and that is particularly true for Minnesotans since we have such a short growing season.

The St. Paul Farmers' Market, mandated in 1853 (five years before Minnesota became a state), is one of the oldest farmers' markets in the country.   What sets our market apart is its strict requirement that all food sold must be locally produced.   I think we always knew we had a great Farmers' Market but now Zagat, the renowned national survey company owned by Google, has named the St. Paul Farmers' Market as one of eight "must visit" markets in the U.S..  Included in that list are Pike's Place Market in Seattle, Haymarket in Boston, and Union Square Greenmarket in New York City.

In her book, Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets, Deborah Madison features our market on pages 82 and 83.  She mentions Hmong vendors who make up about one-third of the market and who have brought to this state a wide selection of interesting and flavorful new produce.  She also noted our selection of regional foods, among them, crab apples, wild rice, ground-cherries, maple syrup and sweet corn.

So, tomorrow, get up early and head to your farmers' market.  If you live near downtown St. Paul, visit the market at 290 E. 5th St..  Hours are 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m..   Here is some of what you will find:

 What a wonderful selection of heirloom tomatoes!

 Peppers with a salsa recipe.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


A nice breakfast is always a treat for me but making anything too time consuming just isn't realistic at that hour.  This recipe for Pesto Souffle is so easy that it only takes about a half hour from start to finish, including baking time.  Most of the ingredients can be substituted for what you have on hand, and to suit your taste.  I added chopped Videlia onion to boost the flavor.

Sunday morning, coffee, the newspaper and Pesto Souffle.  Doesn't get much better than this!

*  1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
*  4 large eggs, beaten
*  1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
*  1-1/2 tablespoon Pesto [You can substitute dried herbs but reduce quantity to about 1/2 tablespoon.]
*  1/4 cup cream
*  Salt & Pepper to taste
Garnish:  Fresh basil and diced tomato
Well grease/butter 4 large ramekins and divide cheese among them.  Whisk together eggs, mustard, pesto, cream, salt and pepper.  Pour egg mixture over the cheese in the ramekins.  Bake in preheated 375º F. oven for 18-20 minutes.  Garnish and serve.

In baking, the souffle will puff up, nearly double in size.  Unfortunately, it falls very quickly.  You will need to rush it to the table for maximum presentation!