Kindred Spirits

"Marilla is a famous cook. She is trying to teach me to cook but I assure you, Diana, it is uphill work. There's so little scope for imagination in cookery. You just have to go by the rules. The last time I made a cake I forgot to put the flour in."

Friday, December 05, 2008


In honor of my new niece, Sofia, I thought it would be fun to blog about kids' books...and it's something everyone else hopefully has fond memories of, too. :)

So, here are five books (well, maybe a few more) that I loved as a kid - or still love...

  1. Johnny Tremain. I always felt like Johnny and Cilla were my good friends, and I cried over Pumpkin. And, no exaggeration, I felt like I lived in Revolutionary-War-era Boston when I was reading it. Silversmith apprentices sounded like pretty normal people to me.

  2. Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine are probably my favorite picture books; bears, berries, beaches, sisters - and clam chowder for lunch.

  3. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Somehow I think I liked how hardworking and resourceful Mike and Marianne were.

  4. Childcraft book of children's stories (it was my dad's, from the 60's). There were myths (Persephone eating a pomegranate seed and being stuck in the underworld for half the year), histories (a boy meeting the pirate Jean Lafitte - a sort of hero in Louisiana), and so much more. It's weird how I still think of these stories sometimes, and haven't read them in 15 years or more.

  5. Little House in the Big Woods (and the rest of the series). My mom gave this to me for my fifth birthday, and I remember us almost crying with laughter as she read about Laura's grandpa and the pig on the sled. Good times. :)

What are your old favorites?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy First Day of Fall!

my backyard, last fall

It's been a little chilly and very cloudy today; good weather for a hearty dinner with lots of kielbasa, carrots, and onions. (I'm a big fan of sausage - must be all my German ancestors.)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Rhubarb Apple Pie

My friend Sharon very sweetly linked to KS in a blog meme, and although I'm not going to link to anyone else, I feel inspired to post something. :)

Those who know me well know i'm pretty fearless when it comes to baking things like muffins or (non-layer) cakes. And this year I got over my dread of making cookies (they really don't take hours to make!). But pies remained on the scared-to-make-again list, because I've had plenty of past failed crusts...or when they didn't fail, I almost wished they had, because it was so incredibly hard to get them to work out.

I forget past experiences probably more than is good for me, though. So a couple weeks ago I was home on a Thursday evening and, seeing that the rhubarb Melodee and I got at the farmer's market was getting a little soft, decided to whip up a pie. (That's actually what I thought, and it seems funny now...unless you're Laura Ingalls Wilder's ma, or Almanzo's, can you really whip out a pie?) I got out my usual dessert cookbook, measured out the flour, and then thankfully noticed that the recipe called for shortening. Slight problem; the is no shortening in the house. Google saved the day, though, when a search for "butter pie crust recipe" brought up this recipe from Land o' Lakes (my new favorite butter, even though I used Albertsons for the recipe). Only four ingredients and if followed carefully - i.e., not too much water, so that it almost seems like it won't stick together - it really works like a charm. I was in a hurry with a baby shower to go to later, and kind of slapped out the crust and shoved and patched it rather frustratedly together, but hey, it worked. And it tasted good when finished! And the next time i made it, I was more patient, used even a tad less water, and it turned out perfectly and was much faster. Moral: patience in baking saves time in the end....

the pie in pre-baked state

Now to the stuffing part, which is more fun. I didn't have much rhubarb, but there were some fairly-ripe tart green apples on the tree in my backyard, so apple rhubarb pie sounded perfect. But, as often happens, I got tired of trying to find recipes and decided to wing it. (This part usually does work out for me - it's the pastry part of baking that's so intimidating!) Here follows the "recipe":

Stuffing for Apple Rhubarb Pie

3-4 stems of rhubarb; the dark red ends finely chopped

2-3 small green apples, finely chopped

About 3/4 cup of sugar; err on the generous side

About a tablespoon of flour

A few squirts of lemon juice

A dash of ginger (I used too much the first time)

A few splashes of ginger ale

(I'm a little embarassed about this, but the second time I used Coke, lacking ginger ale. And it tasted even better.)

Mix all the ingredients together (they should end up very moist, but with not a lot of liquid in the bowl) then pour the filling into your pie shell and cover with another thin layer of crust, poking a few well-placed holes - or designs, if you're more creative/patient than me - in the top. Then bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, covered in foil so the crust doesn't dry out. [hat tip: my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.] Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes or so, until the inside is bubbly and the crust is light golden brown. And then try adding something else the next time - currents? pears? Be bold. :)

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Soup, Soup, Soup

Last week I had the urge to go to Barnes & Noble, which always ends with me being lighter in the pocket than I plan to be. This time one of my unplanned purchases(sounds sooo much better than impulse buy) ended up being a cookbook titled The Ultimate Soup Cookbook for only $14.95. It boasted over 450 soup recipes so I figured there must be at least 2 good recipes in this book(rationalization behind unplanned purchase). This book turned out to be a great purchase. It tells you everthing you could possibly ever need to know about soup. It even goes so far as to describe all the qualities of every kind of lentil there is. Which is great cause I like to read.
For my next post I will share my thoughts on soup stock and the recipes I have attempted so far.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

I have a hard time giving up on things. Even if it's, eight months since I posted anything, it's kind of lonely having KS die out completely. (Thanks for something, Brooke, just to make sure we're awake.)

So, I don't really have anything exciting that I feel like blogging about other than food. It's been a lot of fun taking turns with Melodee cooking dinner -- we've tried everything from delicious chicken cheesy broccoli casserole to "Pakastini" chicken with potatoes and cauliflower. But almost the first thing I made....and have cooked about 10 times since (well, maybe three) is spaghetti alla carbonara.

I'm still working on getting the recipe down the way I like it; although it's good, it could be better. (But my expectations are unusually high, since the place I first tried it at is apparently famous for theirs. I don't think I can quite compare!) Anyway, I was grossed out at first at the thought of eating noodles with eggs. Like, were the eggs really cooked? Did they just dump scrambled eggs on top? I'm glad I tried it anyway, because it's nothing like I imagined. In the linked version (well, my version), bacon and eggs and parmesan all come together with the spaghetti to make one dish...and it tastes nothing like breakfast food. :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Just Posting

I am just posting to see if anybody will notice. Please leave a comment if you have checked.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Annie & Brian


Here are some pictures from the reception.