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

ham and bean soup! . . .

We enjoyed a baked ham with fresh pineapple, cloves and a brown sugar/vinegar glaze last night with company. It was a Cook’s shank ham which I’ve had before – and it was very tender and tasty.

This morning, I cut the large chunks of leftover ham off the bone and started an “all-in” ham and bean soup: sauteed one chopped onion, 2 carrots with the hambone, then added 2 cans of chicken broth, 2 cans of filtered water, a can of diced tomatoes and a leftover baked sweet potato and pineapple bits.

Simmering this until the afternoon when I’ll add a large can of small white beans into the soup. Cook until suppertime when we’ll send some of the soup and ham sandwiches on homemade 10-grain bread down to our 93 year old neighbor who lives down the street.

Bon Appetit!


roasted butternut squash and orzo for dinner tonight!

Supper tonight! (Recipe adapted from Melissa Clark, NYTimes)

Roasted butternut squash, melted 4 T. unsalted butter until slightly browned in pot; added chopped shallot, squash, 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta; 1 can of Swanson chicken broth. Cook until liquid is absorbed. Stir so orzo doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Added Bell’s Seasoning (sage, rosemary, thyme); red pepper flakes, salt and fresh ground pepper, zest of one lemon; juice of half a lemon, grated parmesan cheese. Stir together and turn off heat. Tonight, warm up and serve with more parmesan, lemon juice and a dollop of ricotta cheese. YUM!!

15h  ·

moo shu vegetables! . . .

For Thanksgiving, G. and I enjoyed having Peking Duck with wrappers that I made myself. There were some left over so I made a moo shu vegetable dish to use up the wrappers – while G. finished up the duck!

To make it authentic, I soaked some tree fungus called “moo-er” and some daylily buds that I have out in the pantry. After they’re soaked and soft, I rinsed them and cut them up into small pieces. In a skillet with heated vegetable oil, I sauteed garlic, scallions and ginger, then added fresh sliced mushrooms, sliced sugar snap peas and the moo-er and daylily pieces. Stir-fried, they combined well and I added in a half bag of raw coleslaw with carrots. This is an easy way to add cabbage to stir-fries without buying a whole cabbage. While vegetables cooked, I added soy sauce, sugar, a little seasoned Japanese rice wine and oyster sauce into a small dish. Stirred it up and added it to the frying mixture, scooping it up and turning the vegetables over with the sauce. It was really good – especially with the crunchy tree ear and daylily buds. Will add more next time! YUM!

“homemade” ramen noodle soup for lunch!

t’s mid-November, a chilly, rainy Friday morning. For lunch, I’m making a ramen noodle dish, made with a Japanese ramen noodle (comes dried, then cooked and drained before adding to the broth.)

I used to use Sapporo Ichiban as my go-to ramen noodle, but these were worth a try. I cooked the noodles and rinsed them in cold water. Then made the “homemade” stock: purified water, 2 spoonfuls of instant Dashi, a can of Swanson low-sodium chicken broth and a 2 spoonfuls of soy sauce.

Stirred it together, brought it to a boil and added 2/3rds of the cooked noodles. Standing by for when we’re ready to eat are gorgeous fresh spinach leaves and fresh mushrooms that will be cooked just when ready to serve. YUM!

warm pumpkin pie on a cold day!

It was 28 degrees this morning, George reported – and so this afternoon, I thought I might warm things up with a pumpkin pie. I don’t make them that often, but when I have, I use the recipe on the “One-Pie” can of pumpkin (which was available online, but the cans were not, in the store.)

I compared recipes and remembered that what made the pumpkin pies of past years so tasty was: molasses and melted butter added to most traditional recipes. I also par-baked the frozen pie crust before filling it to the tippy top because the filling was so plentiful.

Placed the pie on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and that saved the oven (mostly) from charred scraps after the pie was baked.

The recipe I use calls for: a can of pumpkin puree, a can of Carnation evaporated milk, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 eggs, 1/8 cup of molasses, 2 T melted butter, 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. 2 T. cornstarch mixed with spices before adding. Baked the crust 10 min. to avoid sogginess, then filled it and baked at 425 for 15 min.; then turned down to 350 for 45-50 min. to make sure the center wasn’t jiggling. The outer crust got burned but no problem just cutting it off.

Looking forward to enjoying it tonight after supper.

baking cinnamon raisin bread this morning! . . .

Wednesday morning’s bounty: a month’s worth of cinnamon raisin bread from rising to loaf shaping to final baked bread! Smells divine!

coleslaw with a twist! . . .

Coleslaw with a twist!

This coleslaw is made with a combination of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing (1/3 cup); a splash of Marukan SEASONED GOURMET rice vinegar and Vermont sugar-free maple syrup.

Taste for proportions that you like the best.

Mix with coleslaw mix and refrigerate for an hour or so before serving. Mmm-Mmm-GOOD!!

a plum cake to greet the Fall in New England! . . .

I’ve been making this “plum cake” for over twenty years!

It’s a favorite for kicking off the Fall season in New England and almost any fruit can be used for the cake. I was a little surprised to find fresh prune plums at the local Stop and Shop but am glad to have them in this cake!

Please note that you don’t need a fancy pan and that the batter doesn’t need a lot of room either. I usually make it in this fluted pan which is only about 8 inches in diameter. It’s lovely with fresh peaches lined up on the top, or apples (Cortlands) as well. Turbinado sugar gives it a little more crunch, and plain vanilla ice cream is lovely served with it. – usually warm the sliced cake a little in the microwave before serving.

Happy Fall! and the Patriots won today! YAY!!

Here’s the link to the recipe:

Udon noodle stir fry with chicken, snap peas and cabbage. . .

This cool weather is such a wonderful contrast to the oppressive heat and humidity we’ve been having.

So tonight, we had a Udon noodle stir fry with chicken, snap peas, cabbage and mushrooms. A little soy, oyster sauce and sherry cooking wine.

The flat Udon noodles did well in the pan and were a nice change from angel hair or ramen noodles.

the best lunch: quesadillas!

I can’t believe I haven’t made Quesadillas before now.

I saw a short video of Jacques Pepin making them the other day and we’ve had them for lunch both yesterday and today. They are DELiCIOUS!! One of the reasons they taste so good is that I cut white Silver King corn from the cob and cook it in a little butter to add to the quesadillas. Pepin used canned corn and the sweet crispiness of the fresh cooked kernals are crunchy and tasty.

What he did use and which I followed were sprigs of fresh cilantro added to the salsa (Paul Newman mild) and shredded cheddar cheese. Honestly, it comes together in a wink of an eye, cooks up just as fast and is not as heavy as eating pizza but more satisfying in taste and texture.

Try it sometime – and use some fresh corn. You’ll be surprised, as we were, at how much you’ll enjoy eating them!