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

“Shepherd’s Pie” for supper. . .

We had a small Shepherd’s Pie for supper tonight. I used a smaller amount of ground beef, a larger amount of fresh mushrooms cut chunky, onion and mashed potatoes on top. Beforehand, we split a large artichoke with curry mayonnaise. Yummy!

“nesting time” this year. . .

The end of April and beginning of May appears to be “nesting time” at our house. At least, for the last two years, we have had nests of Robins on and underneath our back porch where three blue eggs were lain and hatched, the nestlings growing by leaps and bounds, flying out about two weeks after hatching.

Last year, we noticed nests in barn where we park our cars and a family of Robins settled in there. Outside our 2nd floor bedroom, a couple of Mourning Doves also hatched.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed little twigs and straw on the hood of my car and discovered a new nest built right beside the larger Robin’s nest from last year. George pointed out a small nest on his side of the garage perched on some 2X4’s but we haven’t seen activity there as yet – it being high up, as the other nest is.

Turns out, the new, small nest is that of a Mourning Dove who sticks out above the nest because it is so big – but I managed to get a couple of shots of it this morning – blurry, but you can see her settling in on top of the nest.

Waiting to see what appears in the other nest sometime soon! Stay tuned!

peach and blueberry crisp! . . .

Dessert tonight: a peach blueberry crisp! As background, FYI, frozen peaches at Shaw’s were $3.99 a pack; at Price Rite, they were $1.99 a pack – HALF the price!

I used a pack and a half of frozen peaches and a pack of frozen blueberries. To the fruit, I added 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, generous shakes of cinnamon. Let it defrost in an 8″ square baking pan.

For the topping, I used a pastry cutter to mix a stick of unsalted butter (cold) to 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup Quaker rolled oats, 1/4 cup light brown sugar. When the mixture was rough crumbs, I added it to the top of the fruit.

At 350 degrees, covered it with aluminum foil and baked for 30 minutes; took the foil off and baked another half hour + until the top was golden brown.

Might be gilding the lily to have whipped cream or vanilla ice cream with it when served – but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it this evening! The kitchen smells divine!

pan-fried barbecue chicken wings . . .

Cooking ahead for dinner tonight: I made barbecue chicken wings according to the pan cooked recipe by Jacques Pepin but changed the sauce that went on top of the cooked wings. In a dry non-stick skillet, I placed the wings, underside down and browned for 10 minutes. Turning them over, I made sure to move them around and to brown the second side well. In a bowl, I mixed together Osawha organic soy sauce, Chinkiang black vinegar and a healthy glug of honey. I stirred that together with a tablespoon of Siraicha sauce. When the wings were cooked on both sides, I brushed on the marinade with a basting brush and made sure there was enough to drip down in the skillet to cook both sides at once. I turned them over to even out the glaze/browning step. And here they are! If you’d like to make them crispier, I guess you could run the pan under the broiler before serving. Don’t think they need it though.

homemade butternut squash soup for lunch!

During the Winter months, we have soup almost every day for lunch. Today, I melted some butter, chopped up two shallots and sliced a peeled seeded butternut squash in small pieces. After it cooked a bit, I added a glug of sugar-free Vermont maple syrup and some chicken broth. It’s simmering on the stove now. When it’s soft, I’ll let it cool and then use an immersion blender to puree the soup. If it needs thickening, I let the puree simmer until desired consistency. Then, I add some light cream at the end. It smells divine!

a homemade mushroom pizza for lunch!

Katherine Evans

I live with my husband, George, in a house he created, filled with pianos. Life is long.

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A homemade mushroom pizza for lunch! If you have flour and yeast in the house with a half box of white button mushrooms, a pizza is a good choice for lunch! I modified a recipe I had for the crust, making a smaller amount which turned out to be perfect for a 12 inch round pizza pan later on.

Here it is: a) Combine 1/3 cup warm water with a heaping teaspoon of dry yeast; 1/2 tsp. salt; 2 tsp. vegetable oil, 1 cup +/- of flour. That’s it; knead it gently and let rise for about an hour. Spray the pan with PAM and spread out the crust until it reaches the edges. With a big spoon, put some pizza sauce on top, barely covering the crust. Lay on some mozzarella cheese, sliced mushrooms and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 for about 15-20 min. until the bottom crust is golden. Then, I turn on the broiler to finish cooking the top. Be sure to peek at the crust bottom to make sure it’s cooked enough. Place the pizza on a cutting board and cut into wedges.

This one was the best one we’ve had so far. YUM!

homemade glazed donuts! . . .

I’m a big fan of football and two big games were scheduled for today. It seemed like a good time to make a special snack, one that I had wanted to try for a long time: homemade glazed donuts! So, I made a half recipe of Mark Bittman’s recipe from the NYTimes and they came out great! crispy crust, chewy and tasty with a thin glaze of confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla. I’m content to munch on these in lieu of supper – but I made a big salad of romaine hearts, fresh raspberries, honeybell orange and an whole avocado. Yum!

small buttermilk vanilla cake. . .

RECIPE: Separate 3 eggs; Soften 1 stick unsalted butter; beat 1 cup sugar with butter; add one yolk at a time. Stop and measure dry ingredients: 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt. Add flour alternately with 1/2 cup buttermilk. Scrape bowl. Beat egg whites until very stiff. Fold them by hand gently into batter. Butter a 10 inch square pan or a smaller one. Bake in preheated oven 350 degrees for about 30 min. Let cool.

If you’d like to prepare the cake afterwards like the one shown above, here’s what I did.

When cool, slice the cake diagonally from corner to opposite corner. Take the cake out of the pan and add raspberry preserves thickly to the bottom of one piece. Set the other piece on top with the baked side up. Then turn the triangle towards you and slice it down the middle. Place the two baked edges back to back in the middle, forming a square.

Serve with freshly whipped cream. Yum!~

small Meyer lemon cake! . . .

To allay the ongoing stress that is in the ether of our country, I cleaned out the pantry today, discarded misfit plasticware, washed the rest in the dishwasher, steamed dumplings for lunch and made a small Meyer Lemon cake. Of that list, the cake is the most notable. I had four Meyer lemons that I juiced and seeded; grated some lemon peel and put the cake together in a wink of an eye. The recipe is super easy and the cake is super delicious:

Melt 1 stick unsalted butter; using a mixer, add 1 1/4 c. sugar (I used sugar in the raw) 2 room temp eggs, lemon zest, 1/3+ cup of fresh lemon juice, same amount of buttermilk; 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda; 11/2 cups of flour. Mix well; grease a small pan and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is golden brown. Shake some confectioners’ sugar on top. Good served with fresh fruit too!

Christmas cinnamon rolls! . . .

Our family tradition is to have warm cinnamon rolls out of the oven while we open our presents together. This year, everyone is safely at home in Minneapolis, Gloucester, Arlington and Worcester. In spite of that, these will visually start our Christmas morning together, nevertheless! Merry Christmas everyone!

Here’s a half-batch recipe: Start dough the day before:

7/8 cup warm water1 package yeast1/4 c. granulated sugar1/2 Tb. salt1/2 egg unbeaten (I just use a bantam egg)2 T. soft butter3 cups flour
Mix the water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg, with the butter. Stir it well.
Add flour and mix well. If too wet, add a handful of flour. Knead lightly and smooth into a ball.Let it rise, covered with a cloth. Knead it down lightly and form into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap andstick it in the fridge on Christmas Eve.
In the morning, knead the dough down – add a little flour if needed.Shape into a rectangle and brush with melted butter.
Sprinkle with granulated sugar (I use raw sugar) and cinnamonRoll up the wide end and seal the edge.
Cut into roll size and lay them out in a buttered pan. Set them a little apart so they have room to rise.Before baking, brush the tops with more butter and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar.Heat the oven to 375 degrees and bake 20 min. or until they’re golden brown and cooked through.