Friday, October 29, 2010

I've been enjoying many of the food related blogs that are out there. I have posted links to many of them, and if you scroll down on any of those blogs, you will find links to their favorites! It just goes on and on! Anyway, I thought I would pick several to feature here, giving you an opportunity to check them out.
I have an assorted list for you....some cooking, some photography, a few on interior design. My favorites are those that discuss my favorite subjects while showing some wonderful photography.
I think the best of all of them is Smitten Kitchen, written and posted by Deb Perelman of New York City. Deb is a freelance writer and photographer, focusing much of her work on food. She has a tiny little son and a great way of telling a story. If you wish to check out Smitten Kitchen, go to
Next I have to list Over a Tuscan Stove, written by my friend Judy Witts Francini of Tuscany. I've blogged about Judy many times. She is a friend, a wonderful culinary tour guide in Italy, and an amazing chef. go to
There are quite a few professional blogs, posted by companies, that I truly enjoy. The two that I find most reliable and useful are Martha Stewart's,  and King Arthur's Flour
at Both of these blogs are great sources for recipes, research, as well as equipment, ingredients, etc. If I had to suddenly go back into a professional kitchen and declare myself as a particular type of chef, I'd have to say I was a baker. King Arthur has a team of bakers who spend their days answering questions, explaining techniques, offering advice. It is a very handy service.
Moving out of the kitchen and into the dining room, I love the blog called Once Upon a Plate.  Beautiful table settings, centerpieces and some fun recipes. I've always had a facination with antique dinnerware and silver. Mari writes about these things I love, but more importantly, her photographs are wonderful!
I find myself admiring these cooks who remember to take photographs while cooking. At my age, I'm doing my best to remember to add all of the ingredients! Don't get me started on aging! Or automobiles....but that is a story for another time.
Hope you enjoy the blogs!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Looks like it has been almost 2 weeks since my last posting.....I must be having a great time because time is certainly flying by! Actually, I spent those 2 weeks painting and cooking, preparing for the painting exchange party held at my house last night.
Today, I am the very proud owner of a JoAnne Carlton original oil painting! That is me, the short one on the back row, holding my new painting. Tomorrow I am going to have it framed so it will be hanging soon!
Each artist brought an appetizer or a dessert to add to the table....and we ate well! My job was to prepare two pots of soup. I decided to make 1)Beef Tortellini Soup and 2)Smoked Shrimp Soup. The beef turned out pretty darned good, but I am afraid to say the smoked shrimp was a disaster! I have made this soup many times, always with great success. As I served it last night, I kept wondering what in the world was wrong. Normally a rich creamy soup with a medium thick consistency, this batch was thin, a pathetic excuse for the real thing. As the guests were arriving, I finally shrugged my shoulders and prayed there would be enough of the beef soup to feed everyone.
It wasn't until today, as I was putting away the clean dishes and wine glasses, it hit me like a bolt out of the blue...........I didn't put in the boiled potatoes before I blended the soup! No wonder it was thin!
The original recipe came from Cricket's, an unusual "restaurant" in Spring Hill, Kansas. Cricket's is no longer open, but at one time, had a great business. She would open her home on weekends, prepare whatever she chose to serve, and her tables were packed at all times. She took reservations up to a year in advance! Her Smoked Shrimp Soup was a favorite of her customers.
I hope you try it....but be careful to use all of the ingredients!

Smoked Shrimp Soup
4 cups chicken broth
2 1/2 pounds peeled and diced potatoes
2 medium to large onions, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
2 pounds Velveeta, diced
4 cups milk
1  16oz can stewed tomatoes, pureed
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes with peppers, pureed
1/2 bottle Wright's Liquid Smoke
1 1/2 pounds cooked and peeled salad shrimp

Cook potatoes, onions and celery in chicken broth until tender. Puree in blender until smooth. Pour into top of double boiler and combine with the Velveeta and whisk until melted. Stir in milk, tomatoes, Ro-tel, and liquid smoke. Pepper to taste. Simmer about 45 minutes.
Add shrimp and gently simmer an additional 10 minutes.
Serves 12

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On Friday, October 22nd, I am hosting the Somerset Ridge Painters Annual Painting Exchange Party. My wonderful friends and fellow painters, along with their spouses and partners, help me celebrate our friendship and love of painting. Each of the painters does a painting that will be wrapped in plain brown paper and placed in a pile in the corner until after we eat, drink and be very merry!

My dining room table will be groaning from the weight of the platters of beautiful food! We Somerset Ridge painters adore good food and good wine, and we all chip in. I made 3 kinds of chili last year, but then we held the event in December when it was very cold. This year, I am thinking of Somerset Ridge French Braised Pork with Rosemary Cannellini Beans along with my Apple, Dried Cherry and Pecan Salad with Maple Vinaigrette. This is definitely an Autumn Feast.
Knowing the painters, they will fill in the meal with appetizers and desserts. When I say the table will be groaning….I mean it!
Later in the evening, the painters will each draw a number, securing their place in the drawing. All of the wrapped paintings will be moved to the center of the room and one by one, the painters will choose a secret painting from the pile. Number one will choose the painting, then unwrap it, showing the group her new possession! We plan on continuing this tradition until we each have a collection of paintings by our fellow painters.

I do have a problem….I haven’t started my painting yet. I have many photographs I’ve taken that I want to paint, but sometimes, getting started isn’t easy.

Now that I am thinking about the evening, I’m questioning my menu choice. Maybe I should do a huge Lasagna, or maybe we should go Mexican with a giant Tamale Pie. Oh my, more decisions! Whatever I choose, it has to be something that everyone, men and women, will enjoy, and it has to feed 25 people. Should I go German? Should I fix a big pot of Beef Goulash with Dumplings? Actually, that sounds pretty good! I think I just might have to see what Steve’s Meat Market is offering before I make my decision.

I just blogged about dumplings, so I won’t share the Beef Goulash recipe with you this time. Instead, I will give you several Tamale Pie recipes. It seems like everyone loves the Southwest flavors. My first experience with Tamale Pie was in 1968 in Bel Air, California. We took the kids to Disney Land right before Christmas. We stayed with my aunt and uncle in Bel Air. My aunt was a writer and newspaper reporter, and to tell you the truth, I’m not sure she knew how to cook. She knew how to make coffee and cocktails! Anyway, because of her job demands and lack of desire to cook, they had a lovely lady who cooked for them. She made one mean Tamale Pie, but unfortunately, I never got her recipe. But that first Tamale Pie has been the one I have tried to recreate.

Here is one using ground beef…...
1 1/2 pound hamburger
1 medium onion
2 cups stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
2 cups whole kernel corn
1 cup sliced ripe olives
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded cheese

Brown hamburger and onion. Add tomatoes, sauce, corn, olives, green pepper and seasonings and cook for about 20 minutes. Pour into well greased 8 x 12 inch baking dish or large casserole. For Topping: Mix the milk, cornmeal, butter and salt; cook until thick. Add the eggs and cheese mix well and pour over meat mixture. Bake until top is browned at 350 degrees, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serves 6

Now for the Chicken version….
1 broiler fryer chicken, about 3 pounds, cut up
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic crushed
1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup strong chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano, crumbled
1 can (12 ounces) whole kernel corn with peppers
1/2 cup sliced black olives
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese mixture


Wash chicken and pat dry. Heat oil in a Dutch oven; sauté onion and garlic until onion is tender.
Add chicken pieces, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth and 1 scant teaspoon salt. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until chicken is tender.
Remove from heat. Let stand until chicken is cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bones, keeping chicken in large pieces.
To liquid in Dutch oven, add chili powder and oregano. Boil, uncovered, until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups. Skim off excess fat. Stir in chicken pieces, corn, and sliced olives. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cornmeal with 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil until thickened. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes.
Line bottom and sides of a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with about half of the cornmeal mixture. Fill with chicken mixture. Spoon remaining cornmeal mixture around the edge. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes, or until bubbly in the center. serves 6.

I will tell you my aunt’s cook added green beans to her Tamale Pie, probably trying to get veggies into my aunt and uncle. There are many recipes that include a can of Pinto Beans. Just rinse and drain the beans and add to them when you add the corn.

Darn, now I need some Mexican food!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

When I was a little girl in Columbia, Missouri, my best friend, Carolyn Jackson, used to invite me over after school. Carolyn’s family had a cook named Maggie, who kept their home smelling of spices. My favorite time of year to go to Carolyn’s was autumn. Maggie made dozens of quart jars of her famous Apple Butter. There, sitting on the stove top, bubbling away in a big heavy kettle, was the thick, golden brown, cinnamon laced apple butter just waiting for us to come popping into the kitchen. Maggie would take a big wooden spoon and after stirring twice, would slather a piece of her warm homemade bread (just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?) with her spicy treasure. She would have us sit down on the back porch, where she would place 2 big glasses of cold milk and a plate of the bread with apple butter on the porch between us. Trust me when I say every time I see an apple, I think of Maggie’s Apple Butter. Ah-h-h, to be 9 years old again!
Today, the process of making apple butter isn’t as time consuming as it used to be. Maggie had to stay close to the stove to stir her heavenly mixture frequently, or it would stick and burn. Now, we only have to fill the slow cooker with the chunks of apples, add the rest of the ingredients, place the lid on top, set temperature on “low” and go to bed for a peaceful night’s sleep. The next morning, you wake up to the aroma of apples and cinnamon! Now, if only Maggie lived with you, you could also smell the freshly baked bread.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
12 c. apples, peeled, cored and sliced
6 c. sugar or 6 packets Sweet and Low
6 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Put all the above in crock pot. Cover and cook on high 6-7 hours. Uncover and cook 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until thick.

NOTE: This is coarser than most apple butter but better than most. Jonathan apples make the best flavored butter.

While we are on the subject of apples, my Mom’s Apple Raisin Cookies were always wonderful. In fact, my 2 favorite cookies have always been her Sugar Cookies and these Apple Raisin Cookies.


1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
3/4 c. soft butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. water
1 c. diced raw apples
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 c. raisins

Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices into mixing bowl. Add butter, sugar, egg, and water. Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Fold in apples, rolled oats, and raisins.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Hope you have lots of apples this fall, they are crunchy and delicious! And if you are in the Kansas City area, drive south on 69 highway to Louisburg, Kansas. There, just west on highway 68, you will find the Louisburg Cider Mill

Check out their web page and event calendar. Once you are there, you are just a few minutes away from Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery!

Please come and check us out….sit out on the veranda with a bottle of chilled wine, and if you bring along a picnic lunch, you can sit there and spend the afternoon in total comfort and relaxation. If you don’t want to bring a lunch, Cindy has wonderful hummus, pita chips, buffalo and elk sausages and Christopher Elbow Chocolates available in the tasting room. And you don’t want to miss the live jazz on the veranda!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Could we be heading for an Indian Summer?

You can tell cooler weather is approaching. Even though our days are still in the upper 70s to mid 80s, the nights are down in the 40s and 50s. It is truly wonderful….beautiful blue skies, clear as a bell. Today at the garden center, I had a discussion with one of their employees, about Indian summers. True Indian Summer is a period of abnormally warm weather following the first killing freeze of autumn. A killing freeze occurs when the overnight temperature reaches 28 degrees of cold…and may or may not occur with frost. Indian Summer typically occurs in mid to late autumn and can occur more than once. So, if we get down to 28 degrees or below one night, and then the warm weather returns, we will have ourselves an Indian summer! I personally am wishing for one.

Cooking during such weather is so much fun, as our cool evenings are perfect for those wonderful one pot meals that are popular here in the Midwest. Today I had an email from one of my fellow high school class members (Wyandotte High School, 1959, Kansas City, KS). Pat asked me if I had a recipe for Chicken and Dumplings that had very “eggy” dumplings. I have replied to her email, asking what type of dumpling her mom used to make. I haven’t heard back yet, but I figured a blog on dumplings might be timely.

There are many types of dumplings from around the world. Polish Pierogi,  Chinese Pot Stickers, Italian Gnocchi, and German Spaetzle, just to name a few. Seeing as how America is one big melting pot, you can find restaurants that feature these dumplings, and there are millions of recipes for them; but this blog is about good old American Chicken and Dumplings……

My favorite dumpling is the fluffy, light as a feather, pillow type dumpling. Pat’s favorite is the eggy type, which I can only assume are the rolled type, very much like squares of egg noodles. Cut into squares and dropped into the simmering chicken broth, the flour thickens the broth around the chicken and dumplings. So, here, just for Pat and you, are several recipes. Give them a try, then let me know which type you prefer.
Chicken and Dumplings
2 whole chickens (3 to 5 pounds each)
Butter, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bones and juices from chicken
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1-ounce celery salt
1-ounce granulated onion
1-ounce granulated garlic
1-ounce black pepper
Water, to cover
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the chicken:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat the chickens with the softened butter and sprinkle with salt, and pepper, to taste. Arrange the chickens in a roasting pan and put in the oven. Roast the chickens until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the leg registers 165 degrees F, (make sure the thermometer doesn't touch bone), about 55 minutes. Once the chickens are cooked remove them to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Reserve the bones to use for the stock. Set the meat aside until ready to use.
For the broth:
Combine all the ingredients in a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then drain and reserve the broth.
For the dumplings:
In a medium bowl, add all the ingredients and combine well. Form into a ball and transfer to a floured surface. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/4-inch, and then cut into 1-inch squares.
For the roux:
Melt the butter over low heat in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the flour, whisking continuously, until it thickens and becomes an almond color.
Bring the broth back to a boil, then add the chicken, dumplings, and the roux to thicken the broth.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes while stirring frequently. Transfer the chicken and dumplings to a serving bowl and serve.

Next, is the recipe for my favorite type. You use the same Chicken and Broth and Roux ingredients and directions from above, but this time you add spoonfuls of the following dough directly into the simmering broth along with the chicken and roux.

Classic Dumplings
 1/4 pound unsalted butter
 1/2 cup minced onions
 2 teaspoons baking powder
 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 4 eggs
1/2 cup milk

Melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Add minced onions. Cook onions for approximately 2 minutes until tender. Do not brown. Remove from heat. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Mix dry ingredients with butter and onions in saucepan. In a separate bowl, combine eggs and milk, beating slightly. Add eggs and milk to flour mixture in saucepan. Mix so it achieves the consistency of mashed potatoes. To cook, drop by the teaspoon into the pot of simmering broth. Cover and Simmer until dumplings are cooked, about 4 to 6 minutes.

Don’t forget that box of Bisquick! On the box is a recipe for a 2 ingredient dumpling. Maybe that is right up your alley.

No matter which type of dumpling you like, Chicken and Dumplings can add the perfect touch to an Indian Summer evening. Enjoy!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Did you all think I had forgotten about my blog? I haven't, I've just been occupied. I have finished a large floral painting for tomorrow's event at Rosehill ART IN THE COURTYARD. The email invitation said...."Greetings! Meet the Masters... this Saturday, October 9th it's ART IN THE COURTYARD from 10-4pm. Rosehill's spacious courtyard is the perfect backfrop for our guest local artists to show off their work. Color, texture, line... they use it all to dramatic effect in their paintings. They are definitely masters of their craft. This is your chance to view and purchase that one of a kind piece of art you've been looking for.
We are proud to host this cultural event at the Garden Center, so rain or shine, the show will go on!"

Rosehill Gardens
311 East 135th Street
Kansas City, MO (Martin City area)

so, please join us.........!

Last night, we (David, Claud and I) went to the opening of the new show at ARTichokes. I absolutely loved the work of Mark Mohr! If you have an opportunity to drop by the gallery, make sure you look up Mark's paintings....they are wonderful!
Before going to ARTichokes, I fed the guys big bowls of chili. There was some burping and belching from the back seat on our way.....I began to wonder if I had been the cause of intestinal distress! But alas, all was well!
Do you use a recipe for your chili? I've always just started adding things to the pot, tastings, adjusting, adding, tasting....and so forth. The only problem with that method is, sometimes you can keep adding and adjusting until you have a huge pot of chili! 
Back in January this year, Bon Appetit had a blog asking readers to send in their secret ingredients they use in their own chili. Among the responses were these:

Pickle juice  (I can see where this might be pretty good!)
Mexican chocolate
Vinegar and a pinch of nutmeg
A puree of chipotle pepper, onion and carrot
Coffee slurry
Chorizo sausage with a mixture of ground pork and ground beef...spices like oregano, paprika, chiles, jalapenos (I do add chorizo to my chili)
Butternut squash and Ancho chilies
Don't spare the chili powder and the cumin. Use a mix of both ground beef and cubed chuck steak.
Ground elk, venison, Italian sausage, tomatoes and peppers frozen from the summer garden, onion, garlic, cayenne, the three C's -cumin, coriander, and cilantro, dark red beans, black beans, pinto beans, and butter beans, tomato paste, a small can of spicy V-8, a dash of cinnamon
Good steak, Guinness beer, jalapenos, chipotle and ancho chiles, Penzeys medium and hot chili powder, slow cook time and LOVE  (Penzey's is a great source for spices. go to )
Beer! In the chili and with the chili
Grassfed/finished beef if it's not a vegetarian chili, dash of cinnamon, and as much fresh ingredients that are organic that I can get!
Homemade chili powder (toasting and grinding dried chiles & cumin seeds), and good Mexican oregano
No beans. Three types of chilies. Cook it low and slow. Add chocolate that the end to round it all out
A can of anchovies, or fish sauce if I am out of anchovies (IN CHILI?!?!)
Stewed tomatoes, tomato paste and a good old fashion chili brick along with your fave meat and spices
(okay, I had to look up Chili Brick. It is a chunk of packaged, commercially made chili that you add water to.....your guess is as good as mine!)
The stock has red wine, beef stock and lots of tomatoes
Dark beer; unsweetened baker's chocolate
A stick of cinnamon. Let it simmer with your chili.
Beans, peanut butter and cocoa
Corn and fresh coriander

Here is a Bon Appetit recipe for chili. It is a good, solid, down the middle of the road chili. Play with it, make it your own. And if you add anchovies....let me know how it comes out!
Halftime Chili

A winner in the Bon Appétit Recipes Sweepstakes, a reader poll conducted in honor of the magazine's 50th anniversary. Recipe by Richard Snyder, Santa Monica, California

Makes 8 to 10 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
8 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 pounds ground chuck
5 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
1 14 1/2-ounce can low-salt chicken broth
1 12-ounce bottle beer
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 15- to 16-ounce can prepared chili beans

Heat oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add chuck and sauté until brown, breaking up meat with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano and thyme. Stir 2 minutes. Mix in crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, beer and tomato paste. Simmer until thickened to desired consistency, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Mix in beans. Simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Refrigerate until cold, then cover. Rewarm over low heat before serving.

Tums, anyone?

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker