Friday, August 3, 2012


Blame it on the weather!  Grandma has just been in a mood to do nothing but procrastinate the last couple of weeks.   Hide behind the video game controller, whittle away the hours on Facebook, whatever.  Sure, she entirely finished unpacking the house and scrubbed, scoured, dusted and mopped every single inch in preparation for a very important visit that ended up not happening.  She's cooked a few things despite the heat.  Read a couple of books. Mostly though, Grandma has just been hiding.  We're all entitled to do that now and then.

Since this is the beginning of the month,  Grandma has lots of things to talk about and a few recipes to pass along, like this  favorite summer sandwich:

Smoked Salmon Wraps

These Smoked Salmon Wraps are fantastic picnic food.  You'll need a large flour tortilla or wrap for each sandwich you intend to make.  Spread some softened goat cheese (Grandma likes to use the kind that comes with herbs on the outside) abou 2 inches in from one edge of the wrap.  Top with a handful of well washed and dried mesclun or mixed baby lettuces, some red or vidalia onion sliced paper thin, a few half-slices of tomato and some smoked salmon.  Grandma prefers the Alaskan style smoked salmon that has a texture much like canned tuna fish, but lox-style smoked salmon is good too.  Grandma happened to have a perfectly ripe avocado the day she made this wrap, so there is a bit of that in there too.  When you're done adding filling, fold the two outer  edges over the ends of the filling, then roll up the sandwich just as you would an egg roll.  Cut in half to serve.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I Forgot!

Every cook needs a recipe or two that costs almost nothing to make, takes almost no time, doesn't heat up the kitchen and still looks impressive as all get out.   Remember those four egg whites left over from the Key Lime Pie Grandma told you to save the other day?  Well, here is what Grandma turned them into:

4 eggs whites, 1 cup of sugar = 3 different desserts!

Very few things are as versatile as meringue.  Angel Cake, French Macarons, Floating Island, Marshmallows, Boiled Icing, Baked Alaska, Coconut and Almond Macaroons, Pavlova, Angel Pies & Tarts and the meringue that tops your favorite pie all start with nothing but egg whites and a bit of sugar!  

The best bit about these particular meringue desserts?  You put them in the oven, turn the oven off and walk away, forgetting all about them!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons . . .

Do you remember the commercial several years ago that showed an executive bragging about earning  his company an extra million dollars just by putting one less olive in each jar of olives they produced?  Lately every time Grandma sets foot in the grocery store she notices something else that used to contain a whole lot more than it does now, while costing a whole lot less!

A can of cream of mushroom soup used to be nearly 25% bigger and serve four.  A can of tuna once weighed 7 or 7.5 ounces.  You now need 3 cans where you used to need two.   A couple of years ago Grandma grabbed her usual package of angel hair pasta, got it home to cook dinner for a crowd and discovered that the package, even though it had exactly the same dimensions as the 1-pound package in the cupboard, contained only 12 ounces!  Unfortunately, she discovered the shortage when she came up one serving short at dinner!

In January just one of these lemons cost $0.79.
 Grandma paid $3 for a whole bag full a couple of days ago!

Sometimes, prices just seem flipped on their heads.   Steak can be had most of the time lately for less than ground beef and boneless chicken breast is only pennies more than whole frying chickens!  Lemons (and limes) are still great bargains at this time of year, so Grandma has been buying them by the sackful - big 3-pound bags of lemons and limes!

When Life Gives You Lemons . . . . 

Friday, July 13, 2012

To Bake or Not To Bake?

Grandma had an interesting letter the other day and thought that many of you might also have the same question.  And since eggs, lemons and limes are all pretty cheap at this time of the year, Grandma's answer might be both helpful and tasty!   Here's the question:

I was looking at a recipe for a refrigerated lemon pie (you know made with condensed milk).  Some of the recipes call for 2 and I've seen some that call for 4 egg yolks.  This pie isn't cooked.  Is that OK? I didn't think you were ever supposed to eat raw eggs.  

Remember, newbie cooker.

Jo Ann
Lemon Cream Pie from Eaglebrand

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

. . . Baking It Easy

It is a glorious day here in Vermont - bright and sunny but not too hot, just the kind of day Grandma used to love to climb on a motorcycle and go!  These days, one of Grandma's dreams is to have one of those "tricycle" sorts of motorcycles, one that looks a bit like this

One Very Happy Dog!
Grandma went out to the grocery store on Sunday and what did she see getting out of the car but this great, bright yellow rig with a custom trailer for the family pooch!

Isn't this just the luckiest dog alive?  Grandma has never known a dog that didn't love to go riding, but few of them get their very own motorcycle ride!  That red band around his belly is his very own seat belt.  His favorite teddy bear is along for the ride and his little trailer is lined with a comfy rug and has a wind screen to keep stuff from blowing in his eyes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

If You Go Out In The Woods . . . .

I was going to write about my mother over the weekend, since her birthday would have been Sunday, but one thing and another interfered and I didn't get the post written.  Then, as I sat down to the keyboard this morning I realized that today is

Teddy Bear Picnic Day!

I don't think I'll ever see those words without thinking of my Dad, bouncing his grandchildren and then his first granddaughter on his knee, singing all the while

Teddy Bear Picnic Day is a great excuse to throw a little party for the child in your life, nothing elaborate required ------ 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hot or Not . . . .

Grandma was wandering through Amazon the other day looking at this, peeking at that, getting a glimpse of what's new, when she happened to notice a whole treasure trove of books that should have been on the $3.99 or Less list, but somehow never made the page.  Some of those books are even from Guru of the Grill, Steven Raichlen.  If you've never seen Steven in action, here's an easy dish you won't even need the recipe for:

Here's the recipe for that Chipotle Sauce Steven serves up with this Cheesesteak -

Chipotle Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise (preferably Hellmanns) 
1 to 2 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced 
1 to 2 tablespoons of canned adobo sauce 

To make the sauce, combine the mayonaise, chile and adobe in a small bowl and stir to mix.  Keep refrigerated until serving time.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Drink Your Dinner!

Grandma had the surprise of her life yesterday!  She went down to check the mail, right in the middle of the day, and found that the mailman had left so many big envelopes and packages that she could barely carry them up the stairs!  The Advanced Reader Copy books had shown up a day early (more about one of them later), Grandma got a new gadget and somebody sent Grandma a birthday present that had her squealing "Oh-my-god" for a good ten minutes. (More about that later too.) Just about the time Grandma stopped squealing, there was a knock on the door.  Wondering if perhaps she had made so much noise the neighbors had thought something was wrong or the police had come to call, Grandma opened the door to find her youngest daughter, who got out of work early and decided to drop by to spend the afternoon.  This is the post Grandma intended to write yesterday, but first a glimpse of that gorgeous antique rosebush the size of a Volkswagen Grandma posted a picture of a few weeks back.

Still blooming!  Grandma hopes there will be rose hips . . . 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Last night, not long after dark, we had one of the worst thunderstorms I've heard in years.  It went on and on and on . . . .  and then I realized that some nearby community was shooting off their Fourth of July fireworks on the third!

We had been hoping for a day at the lake today (Grandma is not up for what passes for a parade here - the politicians come out in droves to stand on the steps of the state capitol and speechify) but the day has dawned gray and overcast, sure to turn to rain sooner or later.  Grandma's youngest and her hubby are painting their kitchen instead and we'll perhaps find some fireworks later today.

Grandma had planned to make a special Dutch Apple Pancake for brunch (and the blog) this morning, but bright and early one of her friends posted this picture on Facebook and asked if Grandma knows how to do this:

Rainbow Cake

Why, yes, I do just happen to know how to make this cake, so follow along and Grandma will Bake It Easy.

Monday, July 2, 2012


It's still hot here in Vermont, though not quite as hot as it has been, and Grandma is busy cleaning up and getting ready for the Fourth of July.  Well, after sleeping in until nearly noon that is.  Fourth of July is, of course,  the big summer holiday here in the USA, a time for parades, picnics and trips to the beach.  In two short days it will all come together, but right this minute it feels a bit more like this:

Don't you just love the chef?!

Before Grandma tells you what she's doing today to get ready, though, here is a peek at a few things that have crossed her desk you might like.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Be Glad You Aren't in Phoenix!

At 6:25 am this morning, it was 91F in Phoenix, Arizona! (That's 33C for my non-US friends.) Don't you feel cooler already? 

Several weeks ago Grandma received an Advance Reader Copy of Michael Natkin's Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes.  Most of the time Grandma doesn't mind Advance Reader Copies of books, but as Grandma pointed out in her review, cookbooks are a different story.

There are so many things to consider when evaluating a cookbook other than the content of the recipes, things like the size of the book, the paper, the indexing system, the pictures - and none of those are included in an ARC, which is usually printed on newsprint and features "000" where a page number should be in statements like "see recipe page XXX.  When Grandma said as much in her review Michael was kind enough to send her the real thing.

Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes arrived a week ago and it is marvelous.  Grandma is cooking her way through a few recipes and will be updating her review soon, but meanwhile thought to give you all a sneak peek at the goodies!

Friday, June 29, 2012

. . . . . Wait A Minute! The Popsicle Post

Here in New England you'll often hear old timers quote that old saw "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute."  There's a lot of truth in that!  So, right on schedule we had a break in the rain, just in time for the very first day of Summer when it turned . . .

And of course Grandma had dropped that Hot-Hot-Hot cast iron skillet on her foot, so there was no hope of heading out to the beach or lake to relieve the 100-degrees in the shade temperatures!  During the worst of it we headed down to the local TJMaxx to do some window shopping while we took advantage of the air conditioning instead.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summertime -

When Grandma was a girl there were not all the convenience foods there are today.  Asparagus was available only in late April and May.  Late June brought strawberries for 2 or 3 weeks. In July & August there would be cherries and plums and of course great buckets of blueberries and blackberries.  Today foodies have a fancy term for people who eat mostly food that is locally available and seasonal:  Locavore.  Who knew that just eating what was available would become so chic!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

If you don't like the weather . . .

This post has been a long time in the writing, interrupted at least a dozen times!  Never mind, I'm going to just finish it off and vow to do better tomorrow!

Grandma has been "on vacation" while her daughter visited for a couple of weeks,  and then catching up on all the many things left undone.  Meanwhile, it has done almost nothing but rain and then rain some more, so she's been putting the heating pad to very good use.  All of that rain did bring one blessing with it though.  Many of the houses in the neighborhood Grandma lives in have been here for a hundred years - and so have some of the rose bushes!  Look at this beauty - bigger than a Volkswagen:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Of Plums, Chick Flicks And Picnics

It is a beautiful day here in Vermont, looking to be a gorgeous weekend!   Grandma is busy doing dishes and baking this and that to carry along for a picnic tomorrow.   We're going to be spending the day traveling down to Massachusetts to bring Grandma's eldest daughter back for a bit of a vacation (and help with more unpacking!), but I did want to pass along a few tidbits and a recipe or two between loads of dishes and trips to the oven.

Bread baked in a cast iron Dutch Oven

As I type,  iTunes is busy downloading a surprise!  One of the things that Grandma likes best about her precious, should-be-grafted-to-her-arm iPad is that it plays movies and with the 64Gig HD, there is plenty of space to carry around a small library of films.  We've long lived not too far fromJanet Evanovich's New Hampshire home, so she's been a "local girl makes good" favorite ever since Stephanie Plum made her first appearance in One for the Money.  Not long ago, Grandma and her youngest saw the movie version of One For the Money in the theater and quite enjoyed it - definitely worth watching again.  The movie was released on DVD &  Bluray on May 15, 2012, so guess what is downloading to Grandma's computer as she types so we can watch it during that long drive tomorrow:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Heirloom Tomatoes, Cherry Cobbler & Julia Child!

One of the things that Grandma used to love most about traveling around the US was that every place had their own distinctive foods, available nowhere else.  Going out for a meal was always different and you could almost tell where you were by the food on your plate.   Recently, though, local flavors have become thin on the ground in favor of Chili's and Red Robin and Applebee's and a dozen other chain restaurants, mostly owned by the same one of two companies.  Sometimes the menus are so similar you can't even tell what restaurant you are in and Grandma has frankly become a bit tired of laying out the better share of a $100 bill for mediocre food in a cookie cutter restaurant with, at best, mediocre service.  Recently, though, Grandma has seen a faint glimmer of hope . . .

Photo Credit, Chip Natvig, Black Krim Tavern
A few days back  Grandma and her daughter went to pick up her hubby from work and were informed that he had just learned that a friend from high school had a restaurant in the area, so we were going around the corner for drinks and snacks at the Black Krim Tavern in Randolph, Vermont.  ( For those of you who don't know, a Black Krim is a variety of heirloom tomato that hails from the Crimea, bordering the Black Sea.  Most of them are quite some bit larger than the one in this picture.  They're a deep chocolate on the outside with brown to deep red flesh and usually quite some bit bigger than this one. If you're growing heirloom tomatoes, this is a great addition that makes stupendous sauce! )

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's a gorgeous day here in Vermont!  The sun in shining, everything is just green and gorgeous from the rain we've had the last couple of days and the lilacs have burst into full bloom.   Here's what I see when I look out the window today:

Yes, that is my Christmas Cactus, blooming in May!  Isn't she beautiful?

I've been lazy all week - reviewed a few books, watched some MasterChef on Hulu+, and found the camera but mostly I've just been recovering from the Baking Marathon last week for a Relay for Life Bake Sale and sleeping far too much due to rain and allergy pills.  About a week ago along about 7 pm my youngest daughter called to ask me if I was still going to help bake for her bake sale.  "Sure" says Grandma . . .  "When is it?"  "Tomorrow" she replied!  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Scam I Am!

Bright and early this morning I woke up and decided to review 50 Delicious Meatloaf Recipes free today at Amazon.  When I opened the book, the very first thing that I saw was this:

This is the first page inside the cover of "50 Delicious Meatloaf Recipes"

Not unsurprisingly, the recipes are all scraped up from the internet, often from very reputable sources.  Unfortunately, they have all been fiddled with.  That is the least of the problems with this book, however.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Am Woman! - And a Mother's Day Giveaway!

"There was a bizarre perfume commercial that ran on TV throughout the late seventies and eighties that must have made many women cringe. The ad presented its own view of the liberated woman: She was someone who was not only able to bring home the bacon, but also able to fry it up in a pan, all the while never, never letting her partner “forget he’s a man.” It popped into my mind as I was scraping cheese off the bottom of the toaster oven." writes Katie Workman in her introduction to her recently released The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket!

There have actually been a number of commercials that have referred to that song over the years.  The first time Grandma heard that song was on the Sonny & Cher show way back in the 70's.  It went something like this remake, though Raquel was more voluptuous in the original and there was much less of Cher.  (The orignal was also even funnier!)


That idea, that woman could "do it all" - have marvelous careers, be great mothers, keep an immaculate house and serve their loving husband's every need - was first presented to my generation of women along with equal rights and "women's lib." Funny how that worked out. My daughter's generation isn't much more "liberated" than mine was, they've actually ended up with fewer rights in many ways and have lost none of the old floor-scrubbing, meal-making, child-tending responsibilities along with their "gainful employment."  It has become almost a criminal offense in some circles to be a stay-at-home mother.  Lest you think anything has changed on the You-Can-Do-It-All front, have a look at this commercial from 2008:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sneak Peeks - May $3.99 or Less List!

Grandma had a field-day at the Amazon $3.99 or Less May Kindle book sale, picking up a couple of old favorites and a slew of new cookbooks. Here's what she found:

Grandma has had the paper version of Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations in her collection ever since the book was published.  Containing recipes for 63 different cakes that include Pound Cakes, seven different Coconut Cakes, classics like Lane Cake and Lady Baltimore Cake, fruitcakes, layer cakes and even a New Orleans version of Dobosh Torte, plus nearly a dozen more recipes for frostings and fillings, most of the included  recipes have been collected from some of the best cooks in the South.

The book is well laid out and features an interactive Table of Contents accessible from the Kindle Navigation menu.  All of the recipes are for "scratch" cakes - not a cake mix in the bunch.  Those new to the world of cake baking will greatly appreciate Nancy McDermott's "Baking 101",  where she does an excellent job of providing detailed instructions in the ins-and-outs of cake baking.  Here's a sample recipe:

Monday, April 30, 2012


Cinco de Mayo is  Saturday and it's a great excuse for an impromptu party!  Mexican food is one of Grandma's favorite things to cook.  Here's a little inspiration for you, from Tortilla Soup one of Grandma's favorite movies:

If you plan to serve Guacamole, though, head on out to the store in the next day or two to pick up your avocados. They are not often available at the perfect degree of ripeness to serve the same day that you buy them.

 The nice folks over at  Hass Avocados have a page that shows just how to tell when your avocados are perfect and how to choose the ones that will be ready when you want them to be!  They have lots of recipes too, but nothing beats Grandma's Perfect Guacamole (recipe developed by her daughter, not ever quite so good when Grandma makes it but scrumptious nonetheless!)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Just a quick post to let everyone know that I've had so many people ask where the "good books" I review are, I've added them all to Grandma's Goodies - the tab is at the top of the page. Everything listed is something Grandma has rated 3, 4 or 5 stars. I'm in the middle of sorting them out and adding reviews to each, but for now, there's the list. I'll be updating it often as Grandma does more reviews and finds more Goodies. In general, 5 stars mean a book is excellent, 4 stars means that it is almost excellent and 3 stars means that it could use some work but may be of interest to some people. Meanwhile, it is a gorgeous sunny day here in Vermont. The view from the window is spectacular. Hope you're having a great day!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Found: One Dough Hook!

A couple of days ago I started a post called "I Can't Find The Dough Hook!"  With this and that,  Grandma never got around to finishing that post.  Meanwhile, the lost has thankfully been found (Have I told you how much trouble moving is?)  and Grandma is having a Bread Baking Day, since the cupboard is a bit thin when it comes to baked goods at the minute.  Somehow Ham Salad on Babka just doesn't seem quite the thing for lunch!

Grandma is constantly asked to recommend bread baking cookbooks.  Every time she mentions Bagels or English Muffins somebody asks for the recipe.  She's had questions about the luscious rolls in the picture she is using for an icon (couldn't find anything else with the "real" computer in storage!).  Earlier today, Grandma reviewed a little Kindle bread baking cookbook and mentioned that a brand spanking new book that arrived on her front porch yesterday afternoon and promised that she would reveal the book . .  so, in the interest of answering all these questions for posterity, here goes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Readers Write

Every now and again someone writes to Grandma with a question she thinks lots of people might be interested in.  Here's one from Joan:

Hi Grandma,

What is better? A ham hock cooked German style or a pork hock cooked German style? Both are from the pig, but what is the difference between the ham hock and the pock hock? What happens to a ham that is cured? And a ham that is not cooked?

The skin on the pork hock if cooked correctly is wonderful when it is nice and crisp. I guess I can say that for the ham hock too.

Thanks for your response.

 Hi Joan - I guess "better" is relative. A ham hock is a pork hock that has been cured and sometimes smoked. (All ham is pork but all pork is not ham.) The hock is the narrow bit of the leg between what on a human would be the ankle and the knee. They're fairly meaty, pretty bony, take well to long, slow cooking and are usually pretty cheap - at least in comparison.

The "ham" word can be confusing because it refers to the part of the pig's anatomy that is either the buttocks and thigh area or sometimes the "shoulder and upper arm" from the front of the pig, though that is much more commonly called a Pork Shoulder. Ham that has not been cured is called "fresh ham." They are usually cooked much like you would cook a pork roast.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

If You're In Vermont, It's All About Maple

Late March in Vermont is always about the Maple!  When the days turn warm but the nights are still cold,  and the sap starts to run in the maple trees that cover much of Vermont, "sugaring" - making maple syrup and sugar - goes into high gear here.

 When I was a girl, maple was made much as it was when Laura Ingalls Wilder was a girl, a story that she shared in Little House in the Big Woods.  (That story has been turned into a delightful picture book for younger readers - Sugar Snow (My First Little House)) Earlier I found some marvelous photos from the 1970's that show "The Way It Was."  Taken not far from me in Randolph Center, Vermont,  the original caption on this photo from the National Archives  reads "This Dairy Farmer near Randolph Center, Vermont, Averages About 400 Gallons of Maple Syrup Each Spring. Thirty to 40 Gallons of Sap Are Needed to Make One Gallon of Syrup 04/1974"

Things have changed a bit since this picture was taken.  This is what a modern collecting operation looks like - not as picturesque, but far more efficient:

Monday, March 26, 2012

It is a gorgeous day here in Vermont!  I wish I could show you a picture but my camera is packed in preparation for the Big Move come Sunday.  It is going to be so nice to be back in a kitchen of my own with room for all of my pots, pans and gadgets.  I can even unpack all those pretty dishes I haven't seen in a couple of years.

Earlier, one of my friends on an Amazon Discussions  thread mentioned that she had made her first loaf of bread and that it had taken twenty minutes  to knead the dough.  Here's a video from Epicurious that might help cut that time down some:

Many of you have heard me talk about the Windowpane Test to tell whether or not your bread dough has been kneaded adequately.  Here's another video showing just how to do that.  If you were standing on the other side of the dough she is holding that center area would be very translucent.  The way this was photographed with the light shining on the dough from the camera side makes it a little hard to see.

Feel free to drop me an email!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Just a Quick Note -

Tomorrow I'll actually write something.  Have a nice evening!