"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

easy summer meatballs. . .

DSCN0754It’s a Sunday afternoon and I thought I’d make a batch of meatballs between watching the World Cup and NCIS LA (yeah!) I used to brown and fry the meatballs in a big skillet which resulted in a lot of fat/grease. Now I don’t. I’ve learned from Julia Turshen (she uses ground turkey, I use ground 80% beef) that it’s a LOT easier to combine ingredients with the meat and then form meatballs, letting them cook in a 400 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Here’s my go-to recipe for meatballs:DSCN0750

  1. 1 pound of 80% ground beef
  2. Lawry’s garlic salt
  3. shredded vidalia onion (1/2 of a big one)
  4. Pepperidge farm classic seasoned bread crumbs
  5. 1 large egg
  6. about a 1/2 cup milk

Line a large sheet pan with aluminum foil; spray with Pam.

In a large mixing bowl, I turn the ground beef to break it up. Sprinkle with Lawrys’ and turn it over – add egg and mix well; shred raw onion on the large whole of a box grater; add to mix along with milk. Pour in about 1 cup of breadcrumbs, eliminating the big hard chunks. Mix well together.

DSCN0752Form meatballs (I got 28 from this recipe) and place on the cookie sheet – together but not touching. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes until done and not pink in the middle. Let COOL. I store these 7-8 in a small freezer bag and put them into the freezer. When I’m looking for something to have for dinner, they’re there for a) spaghetti and meatballs with Ragu classic tomato sauce or; b) swedish meatballs and noodles (stroganoff with sour cream and beef broth.)  These should last through most of the summer and mmmmm they smell really good right now in the oven!



green tea soba noodles . . .

DSCN0660Have you ever tried cooking soba noodles? They’re made out of buckwheat so they’re usually a medium brown color. There’s also a type of buckwheat soba noodles made with green tea (yep!.) and these are the ones that I turned to make supper for tonight when my piece of fresh salmon from Canada turned out to be perfect to be eaten in very thin slices of salmon sashimi dipped in Osawhwa organic soy sauce and wasabi.

We’ve had a beautiful day with a breeze, sun and temperatures in the mid-seventies. It’s not really hot but I thought I’d make a cool dish out of the soba noodles since the salmon sashimi was cool. Here are the steps I followed:

  1. I boiled two ribboned stalks of green tea soba noodles for about five minutes. I had prepared a shallow pan filling it with ice cubes to chill the noodles once they were drained from cooking. I let them set there for a few minutes while I prepared the vegetables.
  2. I had about six beautiful stalks of asparagus. I quarter cut them at a slant to where the stalks were too tough to use. I sauteed these asparagus pieces in canola oil until they were almost cooked. Then I drizzled in some “super sesame oil” – which has a little spicy taste to it – and a few drops of tamari (a darker soy sauce from Japan.)
  3. I also peeled a Persian cucumber and cut into thin lengths, then cut diagonally to make slivers.
  4. For the main noodle marinade, I poured about 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1/8 cup of Marukan seasoned rice vinegar, a few drops of honey, a squeeze of Meyer lemon juice and about 1/8 cup of spring water. I tasted it for a balance between piquant but not too sour with just enough sweetness.
  5. I drained the chilled noodles from their ice water bath and shook them until they were really dry. I poured them into a shallow serving dish, poured the marinade over them and tossed the cooked asparagus and raw cucumber into the dish. I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for about an hour before serving.

Without salmon sashimi as the main protein “condiment” which was thinly sliced and dipped into soy and wasabi before eating, I would suggest that the green tea soba nooole marinade could be served topped with grilled or broiled shrimp, or perhaps some grilled flank steak thinly sliced on the side too.

In any case, we’ve inaugurated the warming Spring weather with this refreshingly cool supper tonight. Bon Appetit! or in plain English – TRY IT because it was YUMMY!!


zucchini mushroom pasta for dinner . . .

DSCN0656DSCN0655I’ve been reducing the amount of red meat that we eat although it isn’t always easy. For instance, I usually use meatballs made of beef for spaghetti. Sometimes, though, I’ll rescue some zucchini from the vegetable bin and some mushrooms reaching out to be cooked: you know, still good to eat but not looking their best.

Since there was a sale this morning at the grocery store of three jars of Ragu traditional spaghetti sauce for $5, I thought I’d use half of one for dinner tonight (and freeze the rest.) Into the cart went a box of angel hair pasta as well. I already have a wedge of parmesan to grate on top when we’re ready to eat.

I trimmed the zucchini ends off, rinsed them under cold water and sliced them in three, lengthwise. Then, I piled them up on each other and cut narrow strips on a slant with a sharp knife. The mushrooms took a quick rinse also and I cut them in thick slices, sauteeing them in a little butter and oil until golden brown. I set them aside in a small dish and heated up some olive oil, cooking the zucchini on medium-high heat until they wllted slightly, sprinkling them with some Lawry’s garlic salt.

I let the cooked zucchini and mushrooms cool on the stove until it was supper time. I often do some sous-chef cooking during the day which provides a head start to putting dinner on the table. This is especially convenient on evenings that G. goes to visit his mother at the nursing home. When we’re almost ready to eat, I’ll boil a pot of water and cook up some angel hair pasta, heat up half a jar of the Ragu sauce separately and plate a couple of wood-fired pottery plates with a slight bowl to them.

The well-drained angel hair will go into the bowls first. A thin layer of sauce on top, the reheated zucchini and mushrooms on top and another ladle of sauce around the edge of the pasta. The cheese grater and chunk of parmesan goes in its own bowl for us to help ourselves at the table.

Bon Appetit!

a Swedish coffee bread! . . .


Many times, I write posts about preparing food. I just made my first try at making a Swedish coffee bread and took it out of the oven. It is STUPENDOUS to look at and the kitchen smells divine. I can’t wait to taste it when it cools.

It all started with a visit that my daughter, C. and I make to Verrill Farm, a fresh market in Concord, MA. that also has a coffee nook where we eat scones and catch up for a bit before buying yummy food to take home. I spied a braided loaf that was a Swedish coffee bread. At home, we ate almost half of it at one go because the crumb was fine and moist while giving off a delicate cardamon flavor.

It was so good that I decided to try my hand at making it at home. I found a recipe online that required 9 cups of flour so I halved it and then adjusted some of the ingredients. While mixing it together, I could tell this was going to be a favorite from the way it was put together. Here’s the recipe I followed:


  1. Heat a cup and 1/4 of whole milk until bubbles form around the edges. Take off the heat.
  2. Melt a stick and a half of unsalted butter and add to the milk in a bowl.
  3. Add 1/2 cup natural sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cardamom and 1 teaspoon salt.
  4. Combine until dissolved. Let the mixture cool a little.
  5. Add a packet of rapid-rise yeast and stir well.
  6. In half cup increments, blend in 4 1/2 cups of flour (make sure they are lightly spooned out, not heavily packed. Stir gently to mix well into a ball.
  7. Knead gently and let rise at room temperature covered with a towel or in an oven with the light on for about an hour.
  8. When doubled in bulk, knead again gently for about 5 minutes. Divide dough into three pieces and roll each one out into a long “snake.” Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with PAM. On it, braid the three pieces into a loaf. Pat it into shape as a loaf, cover with a dish towel and put it back in the lit oven (but not on) until it doubles in bulk again.
  9. Take out of the oven, preheat it to 375 degrees and brush an egg wash all over the risen loaf. Wipe up excess egg on the sheet and bake for about 25 minutes.

Take photos of it when it’s ready to come out of the oven because you won’t believe how fantastic it looks and you’ll want to show it to others.

When cool, slice and enjoy – with just about everything! For dinner tonight, we’re having chilled artichokes, moussaka (that I brought back from VF) some of this bread and a small salad with green goddess dressing.

What could be simpler, right?   (Just kidding.)



plum cake . . . !


For years, decades really, I’ve been making a simple sponge cake garnished with cut up fruit on the top. It began with sliced plums. This afternoon, I made it again with a plum that was in our fruit bin but sadly passed over for too long.

The cake recipe is simple and easy to remember: everything is 1 of – for example:

1 cup sugar, 1 stick butter, 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, salt and 2 eggs.

Look for a pretty pan to bake it in – butter the pan and then smooth the batter in it. On the top, wash and slice up a piece of fruit that has seen better days but is still good to eat. In this case, I sliced up the plum and laid it out on the batter. Then I mixed up together 1 tablespoon of sugar with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg. Sprinkled it on top of the plums and batter showing through.

(I’ve also made the cake with peeled sliced apple, dark red cherries cut in half, peaches and nectarines!)

In a preheated 350 degree oven, I baked it for 35-40 minutes. It was fragrant and simply beautiful to look at. Tastes good too!

“a chocolate cake . . . when the cupboard is bare!”

DSCN0566Today, we woke up to a layer of sleet and light snow on the driveway. Really? It’s the running of the Boston Marathon today – and it’s intermittently pouring rain outside.

Since I didn’t feel like going out to get anything at the grocery store, I rummaged around the freezer for some meatballs I had made awhile ago. Instead of spaghetti, I think I’ll make a combination of Swedish meatballs with farfalle pasta and alfredo (adding parmesan sauce.) There’s still a nice portion of kale to go with it tonight.

For dessert, I looked at a box of Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa in the pantry and decided to make half a recipe of a chocolate cake in a 8 inch springform pan and ice it with some chocolate frosting too. Here’s the recipe. Double it to make a two layer cake or bake in a bundt pan.

For a small 8 inch cake:

1 cup sugar, a scant cup of flour, 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa, salt, 3/4 tsp. baking soda, 3/4 tsp. baking powder. Stir all dry ingredients in a bowl. Then add wet ingredients and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes: 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 cup boiling water. Pour into a well greased cake pan (mine was 8 inch springform which I sprayed with Pam. Bake in preheated 350 oven for 30-40 minutes or when toothpick comes out cleanly.

For the frosting, I softened 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, added 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa and a scant cup of confectioners flour plus 1/2 tsp. of vanilla. Add a splash of half and half or milk. Beat well until mixed. When the cake is really cooled, spread a layer of frosting on the top.

It took about 45 minutes to make the cake and frosting from start to finish – and now, there’s a nice small chocolate cake for dessert tonight. Also, a pan of dishes to wash. But looks like it’s worth it! For the two of us, I usually make half a recipe of most desserts – and it turns out to be just right and still enough to share with others.

Footnote: We found this cake to be one of the best chocolate cakes ever! It was moist and rich of crumb plus it wasn’t overly sweet. The frosting was just right with a creamy mouth feel from a little extra butter that I added at the last minute. I thought it might last longer, but what the heck – it’s tempting to cut a small slice as you walk by it! A winner and a recipe I’ll go to now that I’ve tried it. LMK if you like it too!


“kale . . . beautiful kale!”


My daughter is a big fan of kale. For a long time, I wasn’t. But, now I am.

Mostly, my change of heart is due to figuring out a way to cook it that’s both  tasty and easy to make. It was also important to learn that you can slice out the thick ribs and enjoy just the leafy greens. Plus, it’s cheap.

I bought a big bunch of kale at Whole Foods yesterday. The photo above shows the leaves cut from the ribs. The ribs go out and then I cut the washed leaves in small pieces. Then, back in the fridge until I stir fry part of them tonight to go with our supper of oven fried chicken thighs.

When I’m ready to cook the kale, I heat up a large skillet with a little skim of olive oil. Then I toss in a finely chopped shallot. When sizzling but not burning, I toss in the kale pieces. It cooks down quickly and I may add a spoonful or two of chicken broth. As it cooks down a little more, I splash in some Osawha organic soy sauce, a sprinkle of Marukan seasoned rice vinegar and a dollop of honey. Mix lightly and turn off the heat. By this time, the kale will be wilted and fragrant. Just about everybody likes the taste of this dish. If you try it, hope you will too!

“wild and (really) woolly” . . .


At Thanksgiving break, my granddaughter, Anna, and I had lunch. I had brought a few knitted neck scarves for her to try on. Without a moment’s hesitation, she picked up a blue handspun piece with bobbles and uneven yarns. I had knitted it from yarn called, “Sherlock Holmes” for some reason. I haven’t figured out why it was called that, but we both liked it.

Later, I bought another skein to make a similar cowl for her mother, my eldest daughter. I gave that one to her at our Christmas Eve party – and she wore it during her stay at their Gloucester house where her BFF remarked, “what’s that thing you’re wearing around your neck?”

So, yep, you guessed it. I made one for BFF who sounded like she loved it when she received it in the mail from me in January. Now, we had three outfitted in this yarn. In early Spring, that’s end of March around here, I thought it might be interesting to knit a vest for myself. Two thirds of the way through, I ran out of yarn. The yarn spinner sent me some more at a discounted price. I ran out again – and she sent me some more.

Easter came early this year so I spent a lot of time cleaning the house and cooking. Afterwards, I finally put the pieces I already had to figure out how to finish the vest. I like to knit extemporaneously, which means that I knit until I either pull it apart to start over or I improvise as I go along. It’s never been my strong suit to follow written directions.

Recently, I managed to finish it, adding side panels and braiding ties for the front rather than buttons that would just get lost in the wool. I was going for an updated hip designer look. Still don’t know what Sherlock Holmes has to do with it, but it adds a note of mystery to the whole thing!

Footnote: Since I published this post, I wrote to the yarn spinner to ask her why she named the yarn, “Sherlock Holmes.” It turns out that this literary character made up by Arthur Conan Doyle, only wore shades of browns, blues and whites – and this is the combination of colourways that appear in the finished yarn. Mystery solved!



“veal on the ‘bo-nah’ piccata” . . .

DSCN0547Once, I heard someone on TV cooking show who was Italian say, “veal on the bo-nah,” meaning veal with a bone in the middle of the piece. That cut is not all that easy to find either. Yesterday, I picked up a nice-looking piece and will prepare it piccata style tonight.

This recipe can be made with veal scallopine filets too. In order for the veal to stay tender, I like to lightly flour and shake off excess, sliding the veal into a skillet with melted, slightly sizzling skillet of butter and olive oil. Brownig it gently keeps it from constricting too fast and toughening as it’s cooked.

I let it cook slowly, turning it over with a meat fork a few time until both sides were browned, but the veal was visibly pink. I placee the veal on a dish and added a splash of madeira to deglaze the pan. (Piccata recipes often call for marsala, but I like the richer sweetness of the madeira instead.) I added a couple of dollops of unsalted butter and a tablespoon of capers to the pan. Swirled the sauce around on medium low heat until the glaze was combined and aromatic. When we were ready to eat, I sliced the piece in half and plated the veal, spooning the madeira caper glaze on top.

With it, I’ve pan-grilled a couple of corn muffins so the sides are crispy, served on the side with a sliced napa cabbage salad made of toasted ramen noodles (break dried noodles into a skillet of warmed butter and toast) and sweet-sour dressing (walnut oil, fresh lemon, champagne vinegar, garlic and honey.)

Honestly, this supper was one of the best ones we’ve had in a long time! YUM!


“Food Nirvana!” . . .


This blog has been leaning towards food and recipes for a long time. I enjoy cooking because we have to eat and it might as well be creative and fun at the same time, right?

I live in a Central Massachusetts town. Mostly working class but there are numerous academic institutions and universities too. I used to drive an hour to buy Asian groceries in Burlington – but they didn’t have barbecued pork or roast ducklings. That required going further to Allston/Brookline to the 88 Asian Grocery Store which I would visit about 4 times a year. Then, I heard this week about a huge Asian emporium located in our town about five months ago.

So, all of a sudden, I don’t have to go farther than ten minutes drive from our home to buy roast duckling at the Asian Market in Webster Square and fresh fish, still swimming around in tanks underneath the fishstand. There’s thin sliced beef for sukiyaki and best of all to me, very small heads of napa cabbage and strips of winter melon that are good for a single meal instead of 3 or 4; single Japanese eggplants and so on.

During this same timeframe and with much fanfare, a brand new (literally!) Whole Foods opened ten minutes away in Shrewsbury two months ago. It’s more of a foodie boutique than anything else with a fresh pasta stand, a wonderful butcher and seafood counter and delectable baked treats that are hard to resist! They also carry wine, beer, French macarons and Japanese mochii – you get the picture, right?

For Easter, I bought a fresh semi-boneless leg of lamb from Whole Foods that came out beautifully even though it took a lot less time to roast it than I thought. Did you know that the bone emanates heat so it takes less to cook than a boneless roast? I didn’t either. But I did happen to take a peek and pulled it out so that it was medium-rare – just right for yesterday’s Easter dinner.

I feel like I have an embarrassment of riches with the opening of these two stores within a short drive from our house. In addition, I can also choose to drive 20 minutes to a Market Basket in Sutton where water is 50 cents rather than a dollar a gallon. Even the local Shaw’s and Stop and Shop have decent salmon fillets, so fresh that you can serve it for sashimi, most of the time.

All this thinking and writing about food illustrates how much it is part of my life. Now, procuring fresh, inspiring ingredients is no longer a long-distance chore, but a hop, skip and a jump every day. Wow, aren’t we lucky?  Thank You, Universe!