Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Delicious Autumn

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns.
- George Eliot

I am lucky enough to live in a climate that experiences, in their fullest, each season the world has to offer. Of all four, Fall is my favorite. The intense aromas and colors are unmatched in any other season. The sky is never bluer and the shadows seem to take on a life all their own in Autumn.

The foods of this time of year also tend to be my favorites. Apples abound, pumpkins are ripe and ovens are lit in expectation of comforting dishes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Anne's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 24 standard sized muffins or 12 large
Printable Recipe

4 eggs
1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
l can pumpkin (15 oz.- about 2 cups)
3/4 c vegetable oil
3/4 c olive oil
1 t vanilla
3 c flour
2 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
l t ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
l t salt
2 c semisweet chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oils until smooth.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt-add to
pumpkin mixture and mix well. Fold in chips. Fill greased or
paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 400 degrees F for
16 to 20 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan 10 minutes
before removing to a wire rack.

Ham Balls
My "Ham Ball" with Ham Balls!

Ham Balls
Ham Balls

Ham Balls
Makes 12 individual size loaves
Printable Recipe

Makes 24  2-ounce ham balls

1 pound ground pork
2 pounds ground cooked ham
2 cups dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons dry ground mustard
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons brown or grainy mustard

In a large bowl combine pork, ham, bread crumbs, dry mustard, salt, eggs and milk. Mix well with hands.
Shape into 24 meatballs and set on a greased baking sheet.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Heat brown sugar, water, vinegar and mustard over low heat until sugar is completely dissolved. 
Pour over meatballs and toss to cover.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Great minds think alike? Hmm...

Do you think LIFE magazine has spies? Well, at least we're on the same page eh?

My whole family had the dropped-jaw look this morning after I brought our paper home :O)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Starry Sky

"Now I really want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that the night is still more richly coloured than the day, having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If you only pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are citron~yellow, others have a pink glow, or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it will be clear that putting little white dots on a blue-black surface is not enough."

~Vincent Van Gogh writing to his sister, Wilhelmina~

I bet you're wondering what a painting has to do with food? Well, although Van Gogh was Dutch, he spent part of his later years in Provence and, to a Provencal, his stomach is second to nothing!

I must say, I love this painting for too many reasons to list but one of them being that it was done from memory and supposedly while Van Gogh was in asylum at Saint Remy in June 1889. I'm no art critic or historian but, unlike many others,I can't help but feel, regardless of the time of year it was painted, regardless of what season it seems to depict, that the "whorls" coming from the left across the upper part of the painting are really Van Gogh's "vision" of what the mistral must look like.

I don't begin to have time to go into how enamoured I am with Provence but it ranks up there with my love for my family!

Here is my very favorite Provencal recipe~also contained in the "Family Favorite Recipes" page.

is a popular food in the south of France. There are entire stalls in the outdoor markets which sell nothing but tapenade. Tapenade is basically an olive spread with one rule; you cannot call olive spread "tapenade" unless it contains capers.
Why? In the old Provencal dialect, the word for caper is "tapeno", hence the term "tapenade".

Anne's Tapenade
Makes about 2 cups
Printable Recipe

1 c pitted Nicoise olives
1 c pitted ripe California olives
2 t anchovy paste
1 t brandy
1 T capers-drained
1 T honey
2 t Dijon mustard
1 t lemon juice
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic-minced

Combine all in a blender and puree until smooth and spreadable. Serve with rounds of toasted French bread.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Neighbors Are Lovely (aka, Gotta Love Pennsylvania Dutch Traditions)

My neighbor Karen, the one who gave me okra that I in turn made into gumbo to share with her, sent back the bowl from the gumbo in the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch way, with food in it.

What she sent back was a wonderfully delicious and fragrant (many hours after being eaten too!) Pesto. I got it all to myself too since nobody here will any "green" sauce. Here's a basic recipe~if you've never had it, PLEASE give it a try!

Makes about 1 cup

Printable Recipe

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
salt as needed

Place basil leaves in small batches in food processor and whip until well chopped (do about 3/4 cup at a time). Add about 1/3 the nuts and garlic, blend again.
Add about 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese; blend while slowly adding about 1/3 of the olive oil, stopping to scrape down sides of container.
Process basil pesto it forms a thick smooth paste. Repeat until all ingredients are used, mix all batches together well. Serve over pasta. Basil pesto keeps in refrigerator one week, or freeze for a few months.

The very next day she sent along several grains that she is no longer able to tolerate including Besan, aka gram flour, or chickpea flour. Just guess what one would use THAT for? FALAFEL! And, as we all know (see index) "I Love Falafel".

Sunday, September 18, 2005

What Ever Happened to Sunday Dinner?

Sunday Dinner
Sunday Dinner

I asked recently of an email group I belong to what special dinner everyone might have on a Sunday. I was surprised at the responses I received. Some of them were flat out snippy, "Sunday is no different than any other day here", meaning they chose not to have any type of "religious" theme pervade their day.

Well, I wasn't asking whether they went to church or not but they must have thought I meant dinner after church. In my family, however, most of my memories of Sunday dinner were after church. There was nothing better than coming home (to grandma's house or dad's house or wherever we were) to the smells of Sunday dinner already cooking. There's something warm and fuzzy about those memories.

Sunday dinner has long been an American tradition ... institution even. Families once gathered nearly weekly to break bread and enjoy one another's company and I can't quite put my finger on why this seems to be a dying practice.

I myself am guilty of being "too busy" to get it done~even if it is a mere 10 minutes to set something up in a slow cooker.

I love
this page and the ideas there for Sunday Dinners, as well as the writing on the whole topic.

If you don't have Sunday dinners, at least try to once a month. The connections you make with family during these times are precious and the chance should never be wasted.

Here is our Sunday Dinner today, complete with the All-American apple pie.

Roast Chicken (I always brine my chicken in water to cover with 1/2 c. of Kosher salt and whatever herbs or spices I feel like that day-today it's Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper seasoning or try my Simon and Garfunkel Roast Chicken.)
Roasted Potatoes (these I toss with olive oil, rosemary and garlic)
Gravy (Of course!)
Sweet Corn
Tomatoes from our garden
Apple Pie (recipe here)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tea Anyone?

I can just imagine myself sitting down at the head of the table and pouring out the tea," said Anne, shutting her eyes ecstatically. "And asking Diana if she takes sugar! I know she doesn't but of course I'll ask her just as if I didn't know. ~Anne of Green Gables~
L.M. Montgomery

Several years ago I was part of the "Women's Christmas Tea" committee at my church. I was put in charge of - surprise - the food. I had a certain amount of money we could spend and knew there were 80 ladies coming to a Victorian themed tea.

I set off looking for recipes that fit well into that era and came up with the most traditional tea recipes. Tea day came and everything went very well except that my scones weren't working. A girl from the church went to a local bakery and between what I made (the ones that turned out all right) and what she was able to purchase, we had enough.

After setting up the buffet-service table I waited there to help others serve themselves if need be and then ran off to refill things before they returned for (hopefully) seconds. After I got back I stayed rooted to my spot behind the table, saying an occasional hello to friends or answering questions about the fare. Suddenly I looked up and saw, with only slight terror, that the Pastor's mother-in-law was on her way to the buffet. Now, normally this wouldn't cause concern for anyone except for the fact that this woman was from England. Now I ask, what country knows more about afternoon tea?

There she was, toddling and tiny and very old and making her way directly towards me. I was quaking in my shiny black oxfords. She looked up at me and asked, in her lilting English accent "Did you make all this food?" as she made a sweeping gesture down the table. I said, "Well, all but____, and ____." (the few things that others had supplied). Then, she looked at me with the sweetest little-old-lady smile and I suspect at that moment that the axe is slowly falling, but instead she says, "I couldn't have hoped for a better English High Tea."

I breathed a thank you and went weak at the knees as the whole room swayed and she toddled back to her table. I don't think I have ever been paid a better compliment on anything I've made.

Even when the event showed up in the local gossip column I was still not as thrilled as I had been at that moment.

These are some of the cards I made to sit by the dishes we served:

Here are the recipes that I decided on for the tea:

Mini Quiche Lorraine
Makes 3 Dozen
Printable Recipe


2 eggs
3/4c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. shredded Swiss cheese


2c. flour
1/2t. salt
2/3c. shortening or butter
1/4c. ice water

Prepare pastry:

Combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening or butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add water by tablespoon until dough clings together. Form into a ball.

Roll dough thinly and cut into 36 two-inch rounds. Fit into bottoms and partway up sides of muffin cups.

Prepare filling:

Combine egg and sour cream and mix until smooth.

Place a teaspoon of cheese in each pastry lined cup. Top with 2 or more teaspoons of the egg mixture.

Place in oven on center rack and bake 375 degrees F. for 20 to 25 minutes or until filling puffs and lightly browns.

Let cool and serve at room temperature.

Chicken Salad Sandwich Filling
Makes about 2 cups
Printable Recipe

2 whole chicken breasts (4 breasts) cooked
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Place all in a food process and pulse until combined and smooth but not paste. The salad should still have some consistency to it.

Spread on your choice of breads (no crust) and cut into shapes.

Serve at once or cover tightly and serve within 1 hour to avoid bread becoming soggy.

Raspberry Butter
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup raspberry preserves (no seeds)
2 Tablespoons honey
1 cup softened butter

Mix all well and chill.

Mound in a pretty dish and let sit at room temperature until soft enough to spread.

Makes 75 small scones
Printable Recipe

8 c. flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
4 sticks butter, softened, cut into tiny cubes
7 Tablespoons sugar
10 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 egg white, beaten

Preheat oven to 425F

Sift together flour,salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Drop butter cubes over the flour mixture. Blend gently with fingers until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle with sugar and add beaten eggs. Mix gently with hands until well combined. Add enough milk to make pie-dough consistency. Do not overwork. Pat out on a floured table to form a large 1 inch thick square. Cut into small triangles (bases about 2 inches) Bake for 18 minutes or until golden. For browner scones, coat top with beaten egg white.

Mock Devonshire Cream
Makes 1 cup
Printable Recipe

1/2  cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1/2  cup sour cream

Whip cream until soft peaks form-add sugar and fold in sour cream.

Make sure this is not the consistency of whipped cream, but instead a very thick molasses type consistency slightly whipped but less so than traditional whipped cream.

Lemon Curd
Makes about 4 cups
Printable Recipe

2 cups sugar
12 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup lemon juice
2 sticks butter
2 Tablespoons grated lemon zest

In medium saucepan, blend sugar and egg yolks. Add lemon juice gradually. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture coats the back of a spoon. DO NOT BOIL. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Stir in butter and lemon peel. Cool completely and serve in tart shells or with scones.

Friday, September 16, 2005


No, I don't mean anything to do with bread. I just realized I have this blog (so nice to be able to come to) and since it's all about FOOD I don't normally publish photos of my kids. Well, here they are, in all their glory :0)

Ian Oliver~ 1 year

Katie~ 4 years

Declan~ 6 years

Erin~ 8 years

Megan~ attitude ridden 13 years :o)

Cassidy~ Sweet 16

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Gumbo in Honor of NOLA

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

My next-door neighborbbrought me some beautiful okra last night that was grown by a friend of hers. My immediate thought was gumbo. I'll be making it today and sharing it with her and her husband.

Of course, one can hardly think of gumbo without being reminded of the devastation from Hurricane Katrina; at least I can't. The losses to life and property there are horrendous, and the culinary losses significant. The American Culinary Federation has many members affected by Katrina and you can read about it at their page: ACF Disaster Relief Information.

This is the recipe that is a variation on what I was taught in culinary school. Many people prefer it spicier~I recommend added cayenne if that is your choice. Gumbo, to those in Louisiana, is like Marinara to Italians; everyone has their own recipe, and everyone's own recipe is "the only way to make it". This is how I like it-right or wrong. The photo shows added sausage, which is perfectly delicious, about 1/2 a pound does the trick.

Anne's Chicken Gumbo
Printable Recipe

1/2 cup butter or oil
1/2 cup flour
1 large onion - medium dice
4 stalks celery - medium dice
2 large green peppers - medium dice
1 red pepper - medium dice
1 yellow pepper - medium dice
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup tomato puree
4 tomatoes concasse (peeled seeded diced)
2c. okra cut in 1" slices
1 pound boneless skinless chicken (breast or thigh) cooked and diced
2 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 Tablespoon dried basil
1/2 Tablespoon dried oregano
pinch Thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 Tablespoon filé powder (ground sassafras leaves)
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 bay leaf
cooked rice for serving

1. Heat butter or oil in a large pot - add flour and cook until mixture is the color of a copper penny - not a new penny - an old one - nice and dark.
2. Add onion, celery and peppers - cook for several minutes until they begin to 'weep'.
3. Add stock slowly while stirring and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender - about 20 minutes.
4. Add all tomato products and simmer for another 10 minutes.
5. Add chicken, okra and all seasonings except filé powder.
6. Bring to a boil - reduce heat and simmer 15 min.
7. Turn heat off and add filé powder - stir well, remove bay leaf and serve.

For seafood gumbo:

Use 1/2 pound shrimp and 1/2 pound scallops in place of
chicken. Add during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Use fish stock if available (otherwise chicken is fine) and replace parsley with chervil and add 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

More Cookbooks and a Photo

This is the photo I wanted to use with my post about Grandma Barnes~

I am very blessed to have this, it is the original taken in 1908. The baby is my grandmother, Ina Jesse Sharp held by her mother Edna Lola Barnes. The woman seated on the left is Safrona Murphy and her mother, on the right, Grandma Goodman.
I unpacked 25 more cookbooks today and several other books among which was "Between Friends, M.F.K. Fisher and Me" by Jeanette Ferrary. I love this book and the glimpse into M.F.K.'s life. This brings me to another cookbook I found, a Time-Life book written primarily by M.F.K., "The Cooking of Provincial France", a wonderful book with lovely photos and better recipes, that comes with a companion spiral-bound cookbook.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Finally got a few of the cookbooks unpacked and onto a shelf in the kitchen. Actually, they are on top of the cabinets that I don't like. Note the cute little cookie jar/chef guy.

I do like these cabinets above the sink, the older type, all the way to the ceiling, with a wonderful patina to the wood. There were cabinets like these in the house dad lived in at Harbor Beach, Michigan.

Some of my favorites from my collection:

The Art of Irish Cooking, Monica Sheridan
The Modern Art of Cooking, Auguste Escoffier
Pedaling Through Provence, Sarah Leah Chase
The French Chef, Julia Child
Monet's Table, Claire Joyes (the photos in this are wonderful)
The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook
Entertaining For All Seasons, a Sunset publication
The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook--several years--my very first cookbook was on of these
Farm Journal's, Homemade Bread
Tea Time at the Inn, Gail Greco
Beeton's Book of Household Management, Isabella Beeton-this links to a complete e-book! A MUST read for all women who's hearts live in a gentler time.

Monday, September 05, 2005


With all that is going on in NOLA all I can think of is needing comfort. For me, comfort is family and I am reminded of my great-grandmother, Edna Lola Barnes (nee Murphy).

I still remember her baking cookies in her tiny kitchen, in her tiny home that sat just behind Grandma and Grandpa Sharp's home in Tipton, Indiana. This is the recipe for the cookies she made, and this is the bowl (that I now own) that she made them in:

Grandma Barnes' Brown Sugar Cookies
Printable Recipe

2 eggs
1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together well and add:

2 teaspoons baking powder
3 1/2 cups flour

Mix until well blended (very stiff dough) and shape into a roll-about 2" in diameter and flatten slightly so the roll is oval shaped. Wrap in waxed paper and chill for several hours.

Remove from waxed paper and cut into slices about 3/8" thick.

Bake on a cookie sheet-spaced 1/2" apart in a 350 degree F oven for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.

Grandma always iced hers but I don't have that recipe. Most likely it was a margarine/vanilla/powdered sugar icing (not thick like for cakes) that she used.