Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Family will be arriving in just a few days, so this will be my last blog until the first of December....unless I find time or get bored....or stay up all night, which is my usual blogging schedule!
Before I go, I would like to share with you the recipe I will be using for my turkey. I am not having Thanksgiving dinner at my house, we are all going to my Mom's. But the idea of Thanksgiving without leftovers is sad. To have leftovers, you have to cook anyway! so, this year I am testing a recipe from McCormick's, the spice people. I love smoked paprika....I am most anxious to see how the gravy will taste! I'll let you know.

Roasted Turkey with Smoked Paprika

2 tablespoons McCormick® Gourmet Collection Italian Seasoning
2 tablespoons McCormick® Gourmet Collection Sicilian Sea Salt
1 tablespoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Black Pepper, Coarse Grind
1 tablespoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Paprika, Smoked
2 teaspoons McCormick® Gourmet Collection Garlic Powder
2 teaspoons McCormick® Gourmet Collection Mustard, Ground
1 whole turkey (12 to 14 pounds), fresh or frozen, thawed
2 ribs celery
1 onion, quartered
1 orange, quartered
2 McCormick® Gourmet Collection Turkish Bay Leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Place oven rack in lowest position. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place roasting rack in shallow roasting pan. Mix first 6 ingredients in small bowl.
2. Rinse turkey; pat dry. Place turkey, breast-side up, in prepared pan. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mixture inside turkey. Stuff with celery, onion, orange and bay leaves. Brush turkey breast with oil. Spread remaining seasoning mixture over entire surface and under skin of turkey. Add 1/2 cup water to pan; cover loosely with heavy duty foil.
3. Roast 1 hour. Remove foil. Roast 2 to 2 1/2 hours longer or until internal temperature reaches 165°F (175°F in thigh), basting occasionally with pan juices. Remove turkey from oven. Let stand 20 minutes. Transfer to platter or carving board and slice. Reserve pan juices to make gravy or to serve with turkey.

Everyone needs help sometime, and the holidays seem to require more assistance than the rest of the year. I am not here to help you with a gift for Uncle Louie, but rather assistance in tackling that rather large bird thawing in the refrigerator.
Here is wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving! I will return after the first of December, until then
Happy Eatung!

Thanksgiving and Holiday Cooking Hotlines

USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline

(888) 674-6854 from 10a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. Closed weekends and holidays, except Thanksgiving. Special hours of operation on Thanksgiving are 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Eastern Time.

Guidelines for Sending Food Gifts to U.S. Military  YES!

Find out what you can safely send to those in the military. Further questions may be directed to USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline's toll-free number 1-888-674-6854; Washington D.C. area (202) 720-3333. The toll-free number for the hearing impaired (TTY) is 1-800-256-7072.

Webpage with information for preparing a country style ham

• Reynolds Turkey Tips Line

(800) 745-4000 Open through December 31, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Butterball Turkey Talk Line

(800) BUTTERBALL (800-288-8373) Available November 1 through December 28, weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST; Thanksgiving Day, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST; Nov. 24 to Dec. 25, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST.

Honeysuckle White

(800) 810-6325 Recorded answers to frequently asked turkey preparation questions.

Crisco Pie Hotline

(877) 367-7438 toll-free. Provides answers the most common questions about baking pies for novice bakers as well as offering tips that will benefit the most seasoned baker. The hotline also offers the option for callers to connect to a live pie expert for pie baking guidance. Hours: 9 - 7 EST except for: Nov. 16 - 25 (8am - 8pm EST) and Dec. 14 - 23 (8am - 8pm EST).

Shady Brook Farms Turkey Line

(888) 723-4468. Available 24-hours, 7 days-a-week, automated messages by famous chefs and winemakers, through Jan. 1.

Empire Kosher

(800) 367-4734. Year-round Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST; Fridays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m EST. Closed on Jewish and secular holidays.

Land O' Lakes Holiday Bakeline (Thank God for BUTTER!)

(800) 782-9606 Available through Dec. 24 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m, CST, 7 days a week.

Betty Crocker

(888) ASK-BETTY (888-275-2388) Open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST weekdays; staffed year-round.

Campbell's Soups Holiday Leftovers Hotline

(888) 453-3868 Open the day after Thanksgiving through December 31 for questions on leftovers; otherwise there are recorded recipes which can be faxed to you.

Fleischmann's Yeast Baker's Help Line

(800) 777-4959 Weekdays, 9am to 4pm CST, year round advice for bread bakers.

Nestle Toll House Baking Information Line

(800) 637-8537 Year-round baking help, plus recipes, from 10am to 6pm.

Ocean Spray (because you just never know about those sneaky cranberries!)

(800) 662-3263. Staffed year-round, weekdays (open Thanksgiving Day; but not Christmas Day, New Year's Day and other major holidays) 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., EST.

Back to the smoked paprika....Today was the release of the newest Somerset Ridge Riesling wine. There was a big celebration at the winery all day, complete with the wine, poviticia and warm delicious pierogies! What a day! Frank Gazella, owner of the Pieroguy's Pierogies, brought dozens and dozens of those wonderful pillows of warm potatoes, infused with cheese and either jalapenos, or bacon or Italian sausage and pepperoni! While Frank talked to the visitors at the winery tasting room, my job was keeping the delectable treats coming out of the kitchen.  It seems the crowds favorite was the Bacon, Potato and Cheese Pierogy bathed in my Smoky Paprika White Wine Cream Sauce....Pretty darned good, if I say so myself!
Another favorite was the Italian Pierogy with Italian Sausage and Pepperoni, dancing in my Flyboy Red Marinara Cream Sauce...molto buono! The winery smelled wonderful!
Now it is time to return to Thanksgiving thoughts, and wishes. May you and yours have a wonderful day, full of family, fun and food! Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Don't Miss it! Saturday, November 20th at Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery


NEW WINE being released! Somerset Ridge’s new Reisling is being released the weekend before Thanksgiving! That means major celebration going on! Dennis is an amazing winemaker and has been working on this one for some time. I can hardly wait, and I happen to be “in the know” about the new label! I will only say this….it is the 2nd in the local artist series! You are going to love the wine and the label! The artist, Kristin Goering, will be there to greet you!

Pierogies with Frank Gazella

Last year Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery held their 1st Pierogi Celebration. I was there to prepare the pierogies for Frank Gazella, the co-founder and owner of the Pieroguys Pierogie Company, so he was available to talk to the crowd about his pierogies. Let me tell you about Frank….cutest thing you have ever seen! He was one of Kansas City’s most eligible bachelors last year!

Frank is returning to Somerset Ridge Winery on Saturday, October 20th for another day of sampling! I will be there to keep his wonderful pierogies coming out of the kitchen, featuring his different varieties, paired with my homemade Somerset Ridge Wine sauces. Cindy and Dennis Reynolds, owners of the vineyard and winery, will be there to greet you and invite you to sample their wines.

More Open House Fun! While you're sampling the new Riesling, check out more holiday treats:

*Fresh-from-the-oven poviticia has just arrived for the holidays. Of course it's local! Pumpkin, apple,   cranberry and cream cheese.

*Our turkey bottle toppers from Her Majesty's Wine Closet have arrived. Perfect as a hostess gift or to dress up your holiday table.

*Our wine gift packs are ready for your family and corporate gifts. And so easy.From $25 - $39 each, we   think you will love them.

*Yay! We just received a new delivery of local Kansas Bison sausage & snacks.

*Check out our beautiful new sterling silver chain necklaces featuring original art from local artist David Gross.

*And don't forget to try the ever popular holiday treats from Tallgrass Toffee. Randy will be here all day Sunday serving them up.
So come on down to the vineyard and join the fun!

When people ask me what kind of chef I am, what my speciality is, I usually respond with "I love to prepare Northern Italian and I am a baker at heart". I wake up some mornings and have this great urge to head to the store to stock up on butter, flour and sugar. I truly do love to bake. With Thanksgiving upon us, hundreds of recipes for heavenly baked goods grace the pages of magazines that appear in my mailbox. Glorious photographs of pies, cookies and breads tempt me to preheat and proceed!
Many years ago, (1970!) my sister Ann and I started our catering company we named C and W Gourmet Gifts because almost immediately we became a "foods for gifts" company. We prepared baskets, boxes, etc. of homemade goodies and sold them to realtors, insurance companies, doctors, etc. as gifts for their clients. Needless to say, the holidays turned our homes into factories! It was not unusual to find 25 loaves of pumpkin bread spread out across the dining room table, everyday for weeks before Thanksgiving. It was a great time, yet a trying time. Packaging materials were not available like they are now. Today you can go to your local Michael's and pick up truly fun and inventive packaging from the Martha Stewart Collection. To make things more difficult for us, there wasn't any stretch plastic wrap....nothing that wanted to stick to itself to seal in freshness. So you see, we did have challenges, but very few of them occured in the kitchen. Ann and I were raised to cook and bake....particularly bake. Of course, we were raised to eat what we baked....unfortunately! I am a complete sucker for a pie, or a cookie, or cake, cupcake, scone, biscuit; I think you get the picture!
During our C and W years, we developed some amazing recipes that we still use today. One of my favorites is our Pumpkin Date Bread. I am sure we sold thousands and thousands of loaves of this tea bread! After the loaves were cooled, we would spread the tops with a powdered sugar glaze and decorate with nuts and candied fruit; picture perfect for the holidays.
One of the problems with heirloom recipes, and yes, it is an heirloom, the recipes are almost never written down with complete instructions. Are your Mom's recipes written on the back of envelopes with the post office stamp reading 1953? Some of mine are. And my Mom used shorthand!
Anyway, I am going to share the pumpkin date bread recipe with you, and try to complete the directions as I type.

C and W Pumpkin Date Bread

3 1/3 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup crisco oil
4 large eggs
1/3 cup water
2 cups canned pumpkin
3 cups sugar
1 cup chopped dates, dusted with a small amount of flour
1 cup chopped nuts (I prefer black walnuts)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour lightly 3 8x5" loaf pans.
Sift your dry ingredients together and set aside. In mixing bowl, blend the oil, eggs, pumpkin and sugar. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, folding to blend. Fold in the dates and nuts.
Divide the batter equally into the three pans. Bake for 1 hour. Cool for 20 minutes before removing from pans, then continue cooling on rack until completely cooled.
If you wish to freeze the loaves, wrap well. If they are for immediate consumption, such as Thanksgiving Day, you may glaze the tops with a simple powdered sugar glaze then decorated with candied fruit or sprinkled with more chopped nuts. Refrigerate loaves until ready to serve.

Another great tea bread for the holidays is the Cranberry Bread on the back of the Ocean Spray Fresh Cranberry bag. I have used it for years, but I add more cranberries than the bag calls for, and a bit more sugar. The recipe I am giving you is the original, but I add 1 additional cup of cranberries and 1/2 cup sugar.

Where would our Thanksgiving be without Ocean Spray!
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons shortening
1 egg, well beaten
1 1/2 cups Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, orange peel, shortening and egg. Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly in loaf pan.
Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Wrap and store overnight. Makes 1 loaf (16 slices).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Soups!

Last week, I was invited to the home of Rick and Cher Ulrich for an early Thanksgiving dinner. Cher is the newest member of the painting co-op at For Art’sake. Also invited were my studio mates, David Gross and Claud Davis and his wife, Jacquie.

They started the beautiful dinner with a wonderful Pumpkin Soup. Now, I have been a big fan of pumpkin soups for years. I fell in love with curried pumpkin soup many years ago, but the Ulrich’s Pumpkin Soup has become my new favorite…..why? Maple Syrup, that’s why!

First, I will share my Curried Pumpkin Soup with you, followed by the Ulrich Pumpkin Soup and then Paula Deen’s Creamy Sweet Potato Soup, just because it is good and also uses Maple Syrup. I will end this creamy orange soup extravaganza with a Squash and Pear Soup recipe.

I know I have mentioned previously how I fell in love with Curried Pumpkin Soup while enjoying King Ludvig’s Castle and a bottle of German Riesling wine. I have tried several recipes and really like this simple version. Hope you agree.

King Ludvig’s Curried Pumpkin Soup

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons curry powder
4 cups vegetable broth
1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in flour and curry powder until smooth. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to bubble. Gradually whisk in broth, and cook until thickened. Stir in pumpkin and half-and-half. Season with soy sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring just to a boil, then remove from heat. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds.

Ulrich’s Gingered Pumpkin Soup with Maple Syrup

2 15 oz cans pumpkin
2 14 oz cans chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup real maple syrup
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger or ½ teaspoon ground ginger

In a saucepan, over medium heat, stir the pumpkin, broth, cream, maple syrup and ginger. Bring soup just to boiling. Season with salt and pepper.

Next is Paula Deen’s recipe for her Creamy Sweet Potato Soup. Paula is an “Ambassador” for Smithfield Foods. This is one of the recipes from their blog.

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup by Paula Deen

Serves: 6

 1/2 cup butter
 1 small onion, finely diced
 1 cup celery, finely diced
 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
 3 cups chicken stock
 1 cup heavy cream
 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
 Salt and pepper to taste

 For Garnish:
 4 slices Smithfield Bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
 Maple syrup to drizzle
1 scallion, finely diced

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onion and celery and saute until fully cooked and tender. Add the potatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium, cover and cook for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender. Puree the contents of the saucepan in a blender (in small batches). Return to saucepan and stir in the cream and pumkin pie spice. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Heat to desired temperature.

Sprinkle soup with crumbled bacon, a drizzle of maple syrup and a pinch of scallion.

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

4 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, diced
1 medium butternut squash peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 pears, peeled and chopped into roughly 1-inch pieces
1-quart low sodium chicken stock, or enough to cover
1 sprig rosemary
Heavy cream
Salt, freshly ground black pepper and granulated sugar

In a 4-quart saucepan melt the butter over medium-high heat, and add and sweat the onions. Add squash and pears and sweat those too a bit. Pour in the stock, enough to submerge solids. Add sprig of rosemary and bring to a simmer and cook until squash is fork tender about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove rosemary. Puree with immersion blender. Add a touch of cream and season to taste.

Somehow, I think all of these soups would be perfect if I were sitting at the Inn at Herrenchiemsee, King Ludvig’s second castle. It is located in the middle of Chiemsee Lake on Herren Island. After the tour of the extravagant castle, the Inn was cozy, warm and inviting. I had a very good time there!

If you would be interested in reading my account of my 2001 trip to Europe, scan down here to search my blog. Type in “Two Old Broads Abroad” and it should take you back to Sunday, January 18, 2009 for the first installment.

Or, you can get there by going to :

Hope you enjoy it, and the soups!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

There have been many responses to my Veterans Day posting, and I would like to thank each and everyone of you. It does my heart good to know there are American citizens out there that believe as I do....that the men and women of all branches of our military, those presently serving and those who have served in the past, need and deserve our sincerest Thank You!
This video came to me after my blog was posted. It is wonderful....and I hope some of our children and grandchildren slow down their electronic habits long enough to watch only takes a minute. 

Now, on the lighter side....remember my blog on country ham and the recipe from Larry Santure, the resident country ham expert at Smithfield Foods? Well, the doorbell rang and there stood a Fed-X delivery man with a big box for me.  Before I even got the box open, I knew it was country ham. The aroma wafted gently through the air as I enthusiastically opened the lid . There before me were 3 packages of Smithfield ham!

Thank you, Larry, thank you Smithfield!
And just in time for Thanksgiving!
You used to have to soak and scrub country hams, but today, Smithfield has taken all of the work out of preparing a country ham....this is GOOD! The large half ham is dry cured and is comparable to an Italian Prosciutto. I will be serving it in the same manner as a prosciutto... very thinly sliced.
I think good old country ham,  served American or Italian style, deserves a great side dish,one that pairs well with the salty ham. So, I think this calls for

Martha Stewart's  Cheddar-Corn Spoon Bread.
                                                                         Serves 6

1 tablespoon butter, plus more for baking dish
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
Coarse salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese
4 large eggs


1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 2-quart souffle dish or casserole; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, milk, corn, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, and cayenne. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture is slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cheese. Let cool until just warm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Stir in egg yolks until combined.

2.In a clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites and a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Stir 1/3 of the whites into cornmeal mixture until combined, then gently fold in the remaining whites with a rubber spatula. Pour into prepared dish.

3.Place dish in oven; reduce oven heat to 375 degrees. Bake until browned on top but still slightly loose in the center, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.


As you know, if you have been reading my blog very long, I am a follower of Martha Stewart. If you are still angry they sent her to prison, you might as well get over it. She did it in grand fashion, and she definitely earned a great deal of respect....far more than the group of criminals and thieves that convicted her!
(excuse the short rant) 
About 1983 I discovered the very young and attractive Martha, on late night television. She had produced a video on her preparation for her family's Thanksgiving. I was absolutely stunned at her talent, her vision, the attention she paid to details! This video changed my approach to entertaining, to say the least. She started planting flowers in the spring to match the colors in the table runners that her sister wove on her loom to be placed down the center of the Thanksgiving table! Okay, maybe I made a grocery list 3 or 4 days before the big event....but spring! I was blown away!
I have searched the videos that Martha has for sale, but cannot find it. Now I have written Martha asking about the availability of this video. If she responds, I will let you know what happens.
If you would like to see the videos that are available, go to

I hope to see you at Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery next Saturday, November 20th for the release of their newest  wine, Riesling. The artist responsible for the new label will be there, come and meet her.
I will be there assisting Frank Gazella of the Pieroguys Pierogies, preparing samples in a number of different wine sauces. Several other vendors will be there also, the list is growing . It should be a fun day, please join us!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Big event coming up at the vineyard….one week from now, November 20th and 21st!

Owner and vintner (winemaker) at Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery, Dennis Reynolds, has done it again! He and Cindy will be releasing their brand new wine, Riesling. Not only is the wine wonderful, but wait until you see the new label! I am not going to divulge any secrets here, but I will tell you it is the next “Local Artist Label” .I was thrilled to have one of my paintings, Vincent’s Sunflowers, on the 1st label in the series, but I am just as excited, possibly even more excited, because I have become such good friends with this artist. I will say no more…..just don’t miss it!

The wine and the label are OUTSTANDING!

How are your plans coming along for the country’s most important and celebrated dinner, Thanksgiving? I am sitting pretty….my dear little 92 year old mother has made reservations for 35 of us to join her at Lakeview Village for our dinner. No cooking! No cleanup! Of course, the downside of that is….NO LEFTOVERS! What will we do for food for the two or three days following the holiday? Good Grief! We will have to cook!

For those of you who will have leftovers, have you ever used Martha White’s recipe for Next DayTurkey Pot Pie? Pretty good stuff! Actually, I’ve never found one of her recipes that wasn’t good. So, if you have a lot of leftover turkey, give it a try.

Go to and check out her webpage.

Next Day Turkey Pot Pie
Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
1 tablespoon Crisco® Pure Vegetable Oil
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 (9 oz.) package frozen spinach in a pouch, thawed
3 cups cubed cooked turkey
1/2 cup chopped country or baked ham
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups Martha White® Self-Rising Flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preparation Directions
1. HEAT oven to 400ºF. Spray 13 x 9-inch (3-quart) baking dish with no-stick cooking spray. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion, carrots and celery; cook and stir until tender, stirring occasionally.
2. STIR in spinach. Spread mixture evenly in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle turkey and ham evenly over spinach mixture.
3. COMBINE soup, 1 cup milk and pepper in medium bowl; mix well. Pour soup mixture evenly over turkey and ham. Combine all topping ingredients in same medium bowl; stir until smooth. Pour over soup mixture.
4. BAKE 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown.

Of course, there is always the famous Kentucky recipe “Hot Browns”, a special turkey sandwich.

6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken broth 1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
12 slices toasted bread
sliced turkey
12 slices tomatoes
12 slices bacon, cooked

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Blend in flour; stirring until smooth. Stir in salt and pepper. Gradually add broth and milk. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened. Add grated cheese; simmer for about 8 minutes. Sauce will be quite thick. Arrange 2 slices of toast on each of 6 ovenproof plates. Top each slice of toast with turkey slices, cover with sauce, then sprinkle with a little paprika. Top each with a slice of tomato and a slice of cooked bacon. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly. Hot brown sandwich recipe serves 6.

Once the pumpkin pie is gone, what will you do for dessert?

Pecan Pie Squares                           
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
Cooking spray
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 large egg
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press flour mixture evenly into bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray, using a piece of plastic wrap to press mixture firmly into pan. Remove plastic wrap. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
3. Combine brown sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently.
4. Combine egg and egg whites in a medium bowl. Stir one-fourth warm syrup mixture into eggs; add to remaining warm syrup mixture. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Pour mixture over crust.
5. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until set (the filling will puff up as it bakes but will deflate as it becomes set). Remove from oven; cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

Yesterday was Veterans Day. Being the widow of a career Air Force Colonel, I can’t tell you how important this day is to all veterans and to the families of those who “Gave All”. I try to drive up to Leavenworth, Kansas every Veterans Day, to visit the National Cemetery where my Arch is resting, but yesterday, I didn’t make it. Instead, I attended the funeral of Albert Bernard Knickrehm, World War II Marine. Al was the husband of my dear friend, Dot, and the step-father of my daughter-in-law, Michelle.

I was unaware of Al’s service in the Marines, but when I arrived at the church, there they stood….3 beautiful young Marines in their perfect uniforms, one of them holding a bugle.

I knew it was going to be a moving ceremony.

The service was wonderful; Father Richard Storey knew Al and his family very well. I was surprised when the accompanist began to play the Marine Hymn and men stood up throughout the sanctuary. The Marines were present. Latin for "always faithful," Semper Fidelis became the Marine Corps motto in 1883. It guides Marines to remain faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to country, no matter what.
There is no such thing as an ex-Marine.

At the end of the service, two of the young Marines moved slowly and gracefully up the center aisle to the flag draped casket. Once there, they meticulously folded the flag and finally, presented it to Dot with a very softly spoken message of thank you from her country. I remember the words well from the day I was given the flag that had draped Arch’s coffin. "This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Air Force in appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service." It is so comforting to clutch that flag to your heart.

To end the ceremony celebrating the life of Al Knickrehm, the remaining Marine lifted his bugle and played the incredibly mournful “Taps”.

It was a lovely service and the perfect way to observe Veterans Day.

I ended my day by joining four dear friends, the Richters and the Wills, for dinner. There was wonderful food, fabulous wine, laughter, joy, memories and a tear or two. It was a very powerful day, a good day. A day I will remember.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

It always surprises me when I have responses to my blog. It hits me like a bolt out of the blue….Gee, people DO read it! Occasionally they are not positive responses, but thankfully, that doesn’t happen often.

I started my blog almost 2 years ago, never dreaming that it would be popping up all over the globe! When I receive notice that I have a response, I figure it is a friend or relative telling me to keep up the good work, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d find a response from South Africa! Or Lyon, France! Or Tokyo, Japan! I send a notice to my regular readers, now close to 500, but they send it on to friends and relatives….and then they send it on to their friends……on, and on it goes! Amazing….and THANK YOU! Please keep passing it on, I love hearing from people who have been inspired by a recipe or painting.

Another positive result is the association with companies that I mention in my blog.

One of my new connections is with Larry Santure of Smithfield Foods in Smithfield, Virginia. After reading my last blog posting, Larry emailed me with a recipe he came up with, using a country ham product. I asked for his permission to share it with you, which he very generously granted. Thank You, Larry!

Caribbean Country Ham
Concocted and Developed by Larry Santure
Director of Country Meat Sales

A touch of the Caribbean melds with the Southern tradition of good ol’ country ham for an upscale dish.

2 packages of Smithfield Biscuit Slices (16 oz)
12 ounces of Coke – not diet
16 ounces of dried fruit any combination
(a combination of apple, cranberry and pineapple is really good)
Lime juice, about 2 oz.
4 to five ounces of dark rum (Optional) may use rum flavoring as an alternative
1/2 cup of water

Chop the dried fruit in a processor to the point of being approximately one fourth the original sized pieces. Put the water, lime juice, 2 to 3 ounces of rum, and half the Coke in a sauce pan with the dried fruit and bring to a boil. Let simmer ten minutes and let cool. Drain the fruit with a strainer and save the remaining liquid. Place the ham in a shallow pan then add the remaining Coke and rum to the liquid from the sauce pan. Pour the mixture over the ham and let marinate for twenty minutes. Pre heat an oven to 350 degrees. Remove the ham from marinate and place flat on a large sheet pan. Cook in the oven no more than fifteen minutes and let cool for several minutes. (To hurry the process place in a microwave safe vessel and microwave for about 90 seconds or until fully cooked.)
To serve:
Arrange the ham in a circular pattern on a plate or platter and spoon the dried fruit in the middle. Garnish with thin slices of fresh mango.
Serves 6 to 8 persons (2 – one oz ham portions)

Another email I received was from Jan in Colorado Springs. She said my blog had brought back memories of her childhood in Pennsylvania. When I said there was “no dressing except my Grandmother Ogg’s Cornbread Dressing”, she started thinking about a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe referred to as “Filling”. I Googled it and low and behold, I’m not sure how I lived all these years without hearing about it before! Pennsylvania Dutch Filling is a stuffing/dressing recipe using mashed potatoes and bread along with a ton of butter, so naturally, I decided I must try it. It is on my test-cooking list for next week. In the meantime, here is the recipe. Thank you, Jan!
Pennsylvania Dutch Filling
5 pounds Idaho potatoes
1 cup diced celery
1-1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
3 cups cubed bread , good country white, without crust
1-2 cups milk, or enough to moisten bread cubes
Salt, pepper and celery salt
Butter for top of casserole

Cook potatoes with salt until tender. Sauté celery and onions with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in 2 tablespoons oil until tender and slightly browned. Push to one side of the pan; add 1/2 stick of the butter and soak parsley in butter, then mix with celery and onions.
Drain potatoes; put in large enough container to hold all ingredients. Add the remaining 1-1/2 sticks butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1-1/4 teaspoons celery salt. Mix with electric beater. Add eggs and mix thoroughly. Add celery and onion mixture and mix. In the same pan used for the celery and onion mixture, soak bread cubes in enough milk to moisten thoroughly and heat. Add to potatoes and mix. If mixture is too thick, add milk. Add dry bread cubes if too thin. Also use more or less of seasoning to taste.
Put in greased baking dish (or dishes), dot top with butter, and bake at 400° for 1 hour until golden brown.

My Goodness! Doesn’t Smithfield Ham and Pennsylvania Dutch Filling sound wonderful together! Add a salad and a dessert, and you have a great dinner! I think this particular meal calls for a rustic dessert. May I suggest this one. It is from Bette in Lyon, France. I have replaced Bette’s European measurements with those used in America, along with the baking temperature. I have tested it with my changes, and it is wonderful! Merci, Bette!

French Poached Pear and Brown Butter Tart
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Pinch salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
1 large egg yolk mixed with 4 tablespoons of ice water
6 cups water
2 cups semidry white wine, (may I suggest Somerset Ridge Oktoberfest!)
2 cups sugar
1 sage leaf
4 whole cloves
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
4 Bosc pears-peeled, quartered and cored
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 Pinch salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with vegetable oil spray. In a food processor, combine the flour with the sugar and salt and pulse once or twice until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Lift the lid and sprinkle with the egg- yolk mixture. Pulse 5 or 6 times, until the dough is crumbly.
2. Pour the dough into the prepared tart pan and press to form an even crust. Use a flat-bottomed glass dipped in flour to tamp it down. Bake the crust in the lower third of the oven for about 25 minutes, until it is golden brown. Lower the oven temperature to 350°.
3. Meanwhile, poach the pears: In a large saucepan, combine the water with the wine, sugar, sage, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the quartered pears. Cover with a large sheet of parchment paper and a lid slightly smaller than the saucepan and cook over moderate heat until the pears are just softened, 25 to 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the poached pears to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool slightly. Cut each wedge in half lengthwise.
4. Make the filling: In a small skillet, cook the butter over moderate heat until golden brown and fragrant, about 4 minutes; pour browned butter into a small cup. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar, vanilla seeds, orange zest and salt. Add the flour and beat at low speed until smooth. Add the brown butter and beat the filling at low speed until incorporated.
5. Pour the filling into the baked crust. Arrange all but 3 of the pear wedges on the custard in a slightly overlapping circle, with the narrow ends pointing toward the center. Trim the remaining 3 pear wedges and arrange them neatly in the center. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until the custard is golden and set. Let the pear tart cool completely before serving.

Hope you enjoy our Dinner from Here and There. I'm sure there will be more soon. However, next time I think I will start blogging on Christmas Foods and Goodies.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Smithfield Country Ham
 We’ve all heard the stories of the Pilgrims and Indians joining together after a very successful harvest in 1621. This day was set aside to prepare and share the foods from their harvest and hunting. This day became known as the first Thanksgiving Day. Their celebration table was laden with the foods from their harvest, the forest, and the sea. They blended the crops the Indians taught the Pilgrims to grow and the cooking methods brought from England. It is not certain that wild turkey was part of their feast. However, it is certain that they had venison. The term "turkey" was used by the Pilgrims to mean any sort of wild fowl.
Today, a staple at almost every Thanksgiving table is pumpkin pie. But it is unlikely that the first feast included that treat. The supply of flour had been long diminished, so there was no bread or pastries of any kind. However, they did eat boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop. There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter. There were no domestic cattle for dairy products, and the newly-discovered potato was still considered by many Europeans to be poisonous. But we do know the feast included fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums.

In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving. Since that time, our Thanksgiving table has evolved into a very traditional dinner. Influenced by food producers such as Campbell’s, we have our favorites that we feel are as important as the turkey. For instance, the Green Bean Casserole, that became a tradition at Thanksgiving, was invented in 1955 by the Campbell Soup Company test kitchen. It is not a favorite of mine, but I bet it is still present on at least 50% of America’s Thanksgiving tables! for that recipe, go to

Here in America, regional cooking influences the way we prepare our turkey dinner. American cuisine is not one cuisine, but numerous regional and ethnic cuisines reflecting immigration patterns. Take the whole stuffing/dressing debate. Is it white bread or cornbread? Is it full of apples and dried fruit or is it flavored with onions and celery? Is it seasoned with sage, or is it full of rosemary and thyme? Is it plump with smoked sausage or spicy with chorizo, or is it full of oysters? Or maybe it is the chestnut you want to bite into. It goes on and on!

I was born and raised in Missouri. It is right in the middle of the country, but is extremely southern in cooking traditions. To me, there is no dressing but my Grandmother Ogg’s cornbread dressing, full of butter, onions and celery.
We won’t even go into the discussion of “stuffing” the turkey with it or putting it in a casserole dish to be baked as “dressing”………

What we should go into is the discussion of Turkey….Ham….or Prime Rib…..
I am a huge fan of turkey gravy but can do without the turkey. What I do love are both ham and prime rib. In today’s economy I am sure I will choose ham over the prime rib. Besides, there will be leftovers with a full ham, something that won’t happen with the smaller piece of beef.
That decided, how do I choose a perfect ham? Raised on Boone County Country Ham, I would, naturally, choose a “country ham”. The finest country ham in the world is a Smithfield Country Ham, America’s version of Italy’s prosciutto.

To understand what this type of ham actually is, go to You Tube and search the title “World’s Ham Capitol” to watch how America’s own Smithfield Hams are cured and prepared. While there, also check out “How to cook a Virginia ham.” Cooking a country ham is definitely different than cooking a city ham.

The wonderful thing about choosing a Smithfield Ham for your Thanksgiving dinner, is it goes beautifully with all of the traditional dishes of Thanksgiving…..sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and oh my, what it does with cornbread dressing! So, there may not be gravy for your mashed potatoes and dressing….but that is simple to solve! Make this gravy ahead of time and reheat it right before serving….See…everything works out!
Thanksgiving Gravy                                                
4 turkey wings (about 3lb.)
2 med. onions, peeled and quartered
1 c. water
8 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. chopped carrot
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 c. flour
2 Tbsp. stick butter or marg.
1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Heat oven to 400. Have ready a large roasting pan. Arrange wings in a single layer in pan; scatter onions over top. Roast 1 and 1/4 hrs. until wings are browned. Put wings and onions in a 5 to 6 quart pot. Add water to roasting pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on bottom. Add to pot. Add 6 c. broth (refrigerate remaining 2 c.) the carrot and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1 and a 1/2 hrs. Remove wings and when cool pull off meat. (can save meat for other use) Strain broth into a 3 qt. saucepan, pressing vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard vegetables; skim fat off broth and discard. Whisk flour into remaining 2c. broth until blended and smooth. Bring broth in pot to a gentle boil. Whisk in broth-flour mixture and boil 3-4 min. Stir in butter and pepper. Serve, or pour into containers and refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 6 mos.

Monday, November 1, 2010

David Gross Paintings


 [juhk-stuh-puh-zish-uh n]
1. an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, esp. for comparison or contrast.
2. the state of being close together or side by side.

“Juxtaposition” is such a funny word.

While hanging some art work in my house, I had to deal with abstract paintings along with traditional wall paper and furniture. Talk about juxtaposition! But you know what? It works! My extremely traditional wallpaper in my kitchen goes so well with the antique photos of my Great Grandmother Ella Estes holding the first Bingham Johnston and the 2 photos of my Grandparents, Wm. Clyde and Florence Ogg. POW! Within 6 feet of them….4 David Gross 12” square acrylic abstract drip paintings….on the same wallpaper! Some may call me crazy….I call me lucky!

In the living room I have a huge bright almost primary color abstract within 12 feet of my Ponte Vecchio. To be quite honest…it doesn’t work as well because Ponte Vecchio just doesn’t belong over my mantle. However, it is going to stay there for awhile. It is for sale, but I am still enjoying it.

In my dining room, on stonewall looking wallpaper, I have 2 of my new sparkling abstracts, one above the other, and at a 90 degree angle and 4 feet away is my new big floral. I think my dining room is looking pretty darned good!

Right now, my house is a perfect example of jux•ta•po•si•tion!

You know, that word works well describing some foods that sound like they should not go together, but yet, they do. For instance, what do you think of the two words Maple and Vinaigrette together? One extremely sweet, the other vinegary and sharp. My favorite salad is one with a Maple Vinaigrette! This is a salad perfect for holiday meals…easy, readily available ingredients, but yet, delicious, unusual and perfect for company! What more could you ask for? I have watched people follow me to the kitchen, as I am clearing the table, just to continue picking the apples, dried cherries and pecans covered with the dressing out of the bottom of the salad bowl. I have never served it that it did not cause a stir! I hope you give it a try, I know you will love it.

Apple, Dried Cherry and Pecan Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

6 servings
Maple Dressing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or other white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 bag mixed baby greens (about 10 cups lightly packed) (5 ounce)
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into matchstick-size strips
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup whole pecans, toasted

For dressing:
Whisk mayonnaise, maple syrup, vinegar, and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil until mixture thickens slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Dressing can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Re-whisk before using.)
For salad:

Toss greens, apples, cherries, and 1/4 cup pecans in large bowl to combine. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Divide salad equally among plates. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pecans and serve.

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