Category Archives: Recipe Ideas

These are ideas that can let your personality shine


Yes, I went to two cooking schools. I am a reader, scholar, educator, consultant, retiree  but I just cheated. I did not look at the entire recipe for Croquembouche, just for ingredients and timing. I skimmed it, handcuff me now. OK, I’m going to add a bit of melted 70% chocolate before the crowning glory. That might be a life sentence according to Careme, the inventor.

It should be not so if I feed our friends. I haven’t made this for years, since cooking school, and will let my husband wave the caramel atop the structure I create. He is a physicist and would like the science of the sugar. Yes, Father, I have sinned. I did not read the entire recipe.

If you build it…. now I know he has to design and build it, it may be a pyramid, who knows? I’ll help with that and do the chocolate. To my memory he has never made a caramel cage. Cheers! Dee



OK, the worst thing I collect is paper. I’ve gone paperless on bills but they still are duplicated in the mail even though I have asked utility companies and banks to quit that practice. Now I like to have leases and corporate forms organized on paper and will learn more about scanning and the “cloud” when I feel my personal privacy and safety will not be compromised. It would sure make my desk look better!

I collect cookbooks and have since I was seven years old. I concentrate on the best ones and buy out-of-print copies for wedding couples and used ones for me when I can, and do recycle some through the local book mailbox. Give one, take one was always my motto staying cheap in my 20’s at pensions in Europe.

Collecting excessive clothing, shoes, jewelry is a no-no, I’ve never been interested in it. I’ve recently started buying a couple pair of silk long underwear to wear underneath slacks and shirts as they’re so warm and comfy but for the first time in 20 years I now have stacks of catalogs in the mail that only they could have sold my name to other companies. More paper. Oh, I do not collect husbands. They just show up when we’re grown up and we stick. I’m sending mine off to the family ranch today as I’m not well enough to travel.

When I was born my parents decided to get a tree ornament for the holidays every year, of course for my younger brother and sisters as well. Each had an initial and date. I’ve lost many of them over the years but a few remain.

My husband and I met over 16 years ago and will be married for 15 very soon. I wanted to renew our vows but that will have to wait. Two months after we met I found two rustic wooden stocking ornaments. He chose the blue, I took the green. Over the years his has been a Scottish bagpiper, me the national flower of Scotland, the thistle.

He is a trout (tried fly fishing once with his brother, nothing, I ended up fishing for steaks at the local Whole Foods) from the western rivers and I am a bear on a sled. He is an old bi-plane with Santa on top and I am another, a moose lying down atop my plane with lots of presents to give. Last year we were hand-knitted finger puppets, now on our tree. He is on the front door wreath as a cow, I am a horse, and our dog Zoe is, well, a dog.

My husband is a lasso-tossing snowman, and another snowman from the mountains with me as a reindeer standing, in an apron, with a tray of cookies. Cooking implements from copper pan to whisk, all ornaments over my life.

This story has and will be told. My folks put each of our ornaments in a box to send off to college. These are yours. Young people who are married or planning marriage like the history and tradition I love to share. Why would I always seek out a 40 year-old out-of-print book by James Beard (Theory and Practice of Good Cooking) as a gift and reference cookbook as a wedding gift? Don’t buy them all, thanksgiving is for 60 and I need enough in the marketplace for gifts!

I talked to my brother by phone yesterday and told him I’m taking my husband to the airport today to see his family for Thanksgiving. He asked, isn’t that the airport he won’t let you walk into because it has a used bookstore before security that has cookbooks? Yep. My brother and I are each spending the day alone over 1,000 miles away but with a shared family recipe. He was invited here but demurred this time. He’s seeing a football game. I’ll be watching The Mind of a Chef or reruns of NCIS.

I’ve never made or wanted to make turducken but I decided on chicken saltimbocca, chicken, s&p, sage. Chicken is pounded flat, seasoned, then add a slice of prosciutto, roll tightly, brush with melted butter and dredge with seasoned flour (chop a leaf of sage in the flour as well) and roll in bread crumbs and bake for about 45 minutes. I suggested that at a certain time of day brother and I lift a fork of my “pigchicken” and have a toast. Happy Thanksgiving to you! My husband just relayed the dog to me early morning and about the box of ornaments given every kid, said “this is yours, good riddance!” Perhaps.  Then again perhaps I’ll send our old dog Zoe to my brother for company! He’d love that. Dee

Herbs and Spices

Every year I get my brother-in-law a set of salt-free herbs/spices because he has high blood pressure and otherwise would only use copious amounts of pepper. I believe I even got him a high quality pepper mill, who knows, so many years.

Today an old business friend (she’s not old, the relationship is relatively so) helped us with insurance and compliance relationships and we wished to thank her. I ordered a box from Penzey’s with holiday herbs including basil, oregano, sage and thyme. I was told it would be delivered before Thanksgiving.

Dad always said the ladies talked too much about food. We were only taking care of you, dear. We enjoy making people happy, content, and wait at least 1/2 hour before getting into the swimming pool. Monopoly works for me, as does Uno or Scrabble. Those minutes can be tough, especially if it’s cold most months and one cannot swim for a half an hour after a tasty lunch. Listen to Robert Klein from the 70’s as a child of the 50’s. He knows that if you ate jello you could swim in ten minutes, franks and beans you’ll never swim again. He was always funny. Cheers! Dee


Loving You

That was an old song I never cared for. I do care for my family, for this piece just my immediate family with whom I live, day in and day out.

My husband is brilliant, and knows everything including physics, software development, farm equipment and wood-splitting. He is kind but not effusive, hard-working and hard headed and not likely to say he’s sorry for anything, but he spoils our old dog like crazy.

Speaking of Zoe, she is kind to all (including cats that do not run) and wants to be next to us and herd us or play fetch with Precious, her only toy that is indestructible. She does not wish to sit on our laps but wants to be a couple of feet away so we can’t go anywhere without her knowledge. Yes, an old herder, though years ago she became afraid of two baby goats!

I have been accepted into my husband’s growing family, as has Zoe in a farming culture that does not allow dogs in the house. Now she is a member of their loving family as well, and stands on my father-in-law’s place on the sofa awaiting his return from feeding the cattle. She also picks up anything that drops on the floor during my mother-in-law’s and my cooking marathon for days before every Thanksgiving.

When we drive there as I turn on the long road to the Ranch she pops her head up from her 4″ orthopedic bed and knows our destination. Food and family.

That’s how we roll. I cooked some St. Louis style ribs last night, Alton Brown style, with a rub inspired by Jeanne Voltz, with salt, pepper, sugar and smoked paprika. My dear husband grilled the ribs for five minutes after I cooked them covered in a low oven for 90 minutes and I brushed on a hint of BBQ sauce that had a bit of bourbon in it. I also made a fresh radicchio salad with an organic ranch-style sauce, and we had a few root veggie chips.

I love my family! Dee



I should have called it “tortured.” Old dog Zoe does not mind my husband, “the fun guy” being away for a week or weeks at a time on business. She apparently stands by the front door waiting for me when I go out for groceries or flowers.

Months ago I asked our personal assistant if it was OK to leave her as it was too warm to leave her in my car. She said no problem, she doesn’t bother me, just sits at the door waiting for you.

My husband says he is the fun one who plays with her on occasion, but I am the important one. He is home for a few weeks writing a book and I set him up a gorgeous desk in our bedroom with en suite bath. He only comes out for a walk or water or Dr. Pepper while in work mode.

Zoe doesn’t know where to go. If I take her to the prime work zone, she wants to be with me, especially near feeding time. But she lays in front of the bedroom door wanting to see him. I lift her (no hips) up to the bed and 20 minutes later she is at the door wanting to see me again and it’s five on a Sunday morning and he gets up to let her out and goes back to bed. Then she lays on the floor by the master bedroom door awaiting him.

Once the book is finished my husband has opportunities that may separate us for a day at a time or weeks at a time. I’m enjoying cooking for him right now as I rarely do so for myself when he is out of town. Does absence make the heart grow fonder?

I think so, as my husband has started to cook spaghetti and meatballs, and wash some dishes. There’s tomato sauce all over the walls and water splattered over the counters. I can’t follow him and clean everything magically but do it when he leaves the room. For over 15 years I would not let him into my kitchen except for water and Dr. P.

He didn’t even know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Now he wants to use my KitchenAid mixer to make fluffy pancakes with whipped egg whites, rich pasta with lots of egg and my hand-cranked pasta machine. I remember from cooking school 1,1,3,1,2,3,4,5. Then change to the cutter and there’s fettucini.

Today, for lunch I will make baby back ribs with a great rub from a wonderful book, Alton Brown style, and a bbq sauce that I love at the very end. Roasted or mashed potatoes and grape tomatoes.

Dinner will be chicken for him I made the other day, cold cucumber soup for me. German cuke salad for him, he loves it. Have a wonderful Sunday and July 4th weekend. Dee

A Glorious Weekend

Actually, it was quite cold and we had to get out our heated jackets. That’s a secret, for now. It was windy, cold and rainy.

Last night I made a roasted chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, sage and thyme. At the last minute I decided not to stuff it. I heated some red potato wedges in the microwave from the day before (yes, me, microwave) and my husband peeled and sliced himself a couple of carrots to eat before dinner. I had the rest of my lunch plus a few cherry tomatoes. Dee prefers he eats apple or carrot or grapes before dinner, rather than ice cream. Chocolate Therapy, Ben & Jerry’s no less.

We went to our favorite Italian grocery and got another 10# of OO flour for pasta (he wanted, once, to try and make pasta with my hand-cranked machine, as he is a physicist he likes to know how things work) and my pizza dough. They had a house-made tomato cream sauce that was fantastic. We ate lunch there. My husband ordered a muffaletta sandwich with a side of giardiniera. He never got to the side so I brought it home. I had gnocchi and broccoli with tomato cream, some for lunch, the rest for dinner with some of the giardiniera.

After two dinners with glorious sauces over pasta I asked him last night what he wanted for dinner. I prefaced it by saying if he wants spaghetti, tomatoes and meat there is a firing squad outside that will take care of things. Levity, my dear. I roasted a chicken. Today it will become soup or sandwiches. There is always a method to my madness.

The other day ladies and little girls were parading around in summer dresses and sandals. It will be warmer today, but not that warm. I am thinking of a broccoli-cheese soup, bread and a salad for lunch. We do take care of each other, and love the mountains. Cheers and happy Monday! Dee


A couple of years ago a dear person left our employ. Another took his place. I gave J a corn pudding with chorizo and mushrooms. He called it a quiche, but it had no pastry.

His replacement thought J had gone so ate the last piece, not good. Since then the new regular has helped me out a few times. I used to make him my version of a corn custard. Then it became a corn quiche but I didn’t make the pastry so he didn’t like it as much. Yes, beggars can be ornery.

This time I made him a corn bread pudding with jalapeno cornbread, corn, cheese, chorizo and duxelles. I made a little one for him, and a bigger one for His Better Half. He got a kick out of that labeling and so will his wife. It was his last day of work here. Zoe and I will miss him.

Perhaps he needs someone to steal a slice and I’ll have the right “new guy!” We’ll see. Dee


No, not toys. It’s something of consequence I’ve been making for a while and I just got a slant on it that would make a great difference, especially for home cooks.

I love having a cook-fest with M, my husband’s mother. We began with half a day and have stretched to nearly four. It has become a kitchen dance and we missed last year. The we includes the dog, and I plan to drive her all the way there just to lick up the crumbs. She’s been missed.

People who come from long distances are not supposed to bring anything to Thanksgiving, but they do anyways. M and I cook for days, I’ve a corn “quiche” that would knock your socks off but will do a riff on it this year. You’ll know about the corn debacle first-hand after it is tasted tomorrow.

I’ve become the Thanksgiving veggie gal so I bring brussels sprouts and cauliflower to the dinner, also mincemeat tarts. I love coming up with my best ideas in the middle of the night. Here’s to Fresno and jalapeno peppers. Dee

ps I always bring boursin cheese and almonds and cashews as well, all homemade. It’s a long drive, I’m not really slacking.


Looking Out, Looking In

Today was a gorgeous day. Blue skies, a few clouds, lake and sailboats probably going home to “roost” for the winter that is to come.

There were strong winds and I can’t believe the window washers were allowed to hang from the roof. The result was spectacular. No more spider webs and dying/dead trapped insects.

As I do every year when they’re here (their work boots and suction clamps alert Zoe there are intruders) I take her out on the balcony and introduce her and tell her these are her friends. They’re visitors. Later on when they moved to other windows they waved to us.

I asked them to be careful, as the winds were heady. Our views improved incredibly and seeing out the non-spider-webbed windows and seeing sailboats on the crystal blue water made my day.

Now, I wonder what they saw. They waved at us. What do they think of the people who live here? Are residents neat, messy, naked, ironing, cooking, at the computer paying bills? Are we nice, nasty or do we just dismiss them as people who don’t matter?

My father used to take me to the tobacco store in our small village and I’d sniff tobacco from glass jars (same as I do today with Penzey’s herbs) while he talked to the owner or clerk. He “schmoozed” every waitress he ever met. No, I don’t smoke, just love the smell of pipe tobacco. I don’t drink coffee either but love the scent of the grounds and do go to Starbucks occasionally, but only for herbal tea and a muffin.

People help us all day long, I’ve known many postal service personnel over my adult lifetime, plus UPS, Fed Ex. We now have a concierge, security and maintenance. Yes, I cook for all of them, tastings and treats. If the dog needs to go out at three a.m. I feel safe taking her.

Tomorrow I make a farewell lasagne for our neighbors. They called us over here (telepathic) nearly five years ago and although they’re older he always checks in on me weekly. They’re moving down the street this week. I hope we still get to see them and I promised them a lasagne to pop into the oven their first night. I’m thinking of putting baby arugula and marinated gigante beans into the cheese layer. It’s a veggie lasagne, they don’t cook and may want some protein and veg.

We neighbors try to take care of each other, and I say hello, good morning, how’s the weather to everyone. And I open and hold the door. Not for long as the dog and I are getting older and the winds are stronger.

It is clear, dark and nearly midnight. I’m leaving the blinds up tonight so I can watch the sunrise tomorrow and then close up to save the art I’ve spent a lifetime not making, I’m not that talented, but framing. What is life but memories. My father took up painting at age 80. I’ve three of his works, all exquisitely framed and hung in our home. I’ve been outside our childhood homes for many years, his paintings of Tuscany and New Zealand allow me to see him. Dee


Eldest, Wing Ma’am

Yes, I am, but not with a flock of fledgelings. They’re all grown up now. When we meet, we meet. We all cook well and enjoy rare time together.

Yes, there are responsibilities, one of which is to cede to whomever is better for a certain task. As big sis, I tend to know the traits of my younger siblings and am confident in all the family tasks they have taken on with me as a “wing ma’am.”

We’re all older now and take on different duties. What I need to do is probably send a parachute out of a plane one day (it will not include me unless all of us agree to sky dive) with kid stuff and letters from whatever bad memories of childhood remain. I used steel wool on my father’s paint to get off the tar. Whoops! My sister and I coated the basement with water to clean it, with his favorite horsehair brush. Oh, and we flooded it. Sorry!

No. Scratch that airplane thought. My horrible new ACA health care premium company (not marketplace) won’t pay for an ER visit when my head was spurting blood. Humana said because it was only my head spurting blood it was not a danger to life and limb and just charged me 9K to not diagnose me and give me unnecessary medical procedures. I need to get a new health care company even though we’ve tons of other insurance if I want to go para-sailing or jump out of a plane.

I had a large growth they never looked for. It was later diagnosed by a professional, excised, biopsied and was benign. I was healed. Now InHumana is denying everything. Remember the movie with Matt Damon, Danny DeVito and Great Benefits? I bled all weekend so couldn’t see the doc until she could see my eye. If this is the new health care system I’d rather a high-priced insurer who actually pays a valid claim. They’ve denied the majority of my surgery and biopsy as well.

Right now (or ever) I don’t want to jump on a plane because of TSA, or jump out of one. My husband is away for three weeks and the dog is depressed. She misses the fun guy. So do I. Everything will work out. Dee

ps Please never call me ma’am. A grocery clerk called me Miss the other day and I think I was just over the moon! Thanks, D