Monday, September 30, 2013


Here's a quick topping for ravioli, as we had last night, or perhaps for fish or poultry.  The info on the can of petite diced tomatoes indicates there are 3.5 servings in the can,  I suppose you could serve this for three, but we feel it is just right for us. 

You can see my little cheat sheet from the first time
I concocted this topping. 
You'll notice the minced garlic - yes, well, I use the prepared stuff because it's available.  Truthfully, I've yet to taste the difference between the prepared and the fresh.  Maybe it's because the cooks I know who use the fresh are overcooking it and killing it.  I really don't know.
I use 'fresh' basil that I've chopped up and frozen. I like it better in fresh dishes.  I save the dried basil for a big pot of long-cooking spaghetti sauce.
We like the Trader Joe's (Trader Giotto's, as it says on the package) Beef Bolognese Ravioli.  There are two servings in the package, and, depending on life's little unknowns, there are eleven or twelve ravioli's in each package.  Guess who gets five and guess who gets six. 

So, here's the method:

Ingredients: onion, butter, oil, 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, parmesan, salt and pepper. 

-If you're topping ravioli then start the water to boiling.  Follow your own package directions or preferences for adding salt.  If you're topping fish or chicken you can prepare the topping during the last ten minutes or so of their cooking.
-Saute a chopped onion, as large as you'd like, in a bit of butter and oil.  Cook it until it begins to get translucent.
-Pour in the petite diced tomatoes, add a clove of 'real' garlic or the equivalent of prepared minced - about 1 tsp.  Add a tablespoon of fresh, chopped basil.
-Keep this on a low to medium heat until your ravioli is ready.  Add about 1/3 cup of parmesan at the last minute, just after you turn off the heat.

-Plate it all up and serve.

Friday, September 27, 2013


I posted this two years ago and since then I got a corrected picture of my sister's wedding gown. So much clearer. Another update: the christening gown will be worn by a second great grandchild come spring next year.

National Sewing Month is September, but every month was sewing month at my house when I was growing up. My mother sewed for us and for the house, and her sewing machine was rarely idle.

This machine reminds me of my mother's.
From play clothes to wedding gowns, my mother could whip up something from the oddest things. My sister and I once had skirts made of kitchen curtain fabric. The flowered-border ones were all right, but my favorite was an all over chicken-wire print with hens and chicks running around the bottom. Many of our costumes came from whatever was at hand, but some of the most colorful ones were sewn from crepe paper. You don’t see too much of that these days. I remember big displays of crepe paper at the 5 & 10 cent store. Ah, the 5 & 10 cent stores - remember those?
I distinctly remember, although it must be over sixty years ago, when my mother disappeared into her bedroom each evening after supper. We didn’t know we were getting new Madam Alexander dolls for Christmas, and my mother was working on wardrobes for them. Most of the outfits were miniatures of what she had sewn for us, sewn from the leftover material. She sewed dresses and pajamas and plastic rain coats. She crocheted sweaters and hats and shoes. She swore she’d never tackle such a job again! 


I think her masterpiece was my sister’s wedding gown. At that time both my mother and sister were working at Columbia Ribbon & Carbon in Glen Cove, New York. One of the items they manufactured was typewriter ribbons. Ribbon silk came to the factory as 14 inch-wide fabric. It was inked and then slit into the correct size. The creamy white silk was lovely, and my Mother was given enough to make both my sister’s gown and my maid-of-honor dress. Mom joined the panels with wide lace for my sister’s gown, gradually increasing the length of the back panels until they formed a small, graceful train. She joined the panels on my dress with narrow, pink-embroidered tape. I still have some of that tape, and I cherish it.
My mother taught me how to knit and my sister how to crochet. I don’t know why, but neither of us learned the other craft. My sister always crocheted ‘backwards’ because, as a leftie, she mirrored what my right-handed mother was doing. My sister and I continued on sewing in our mother’s tradition making everything from curtains to Halloween costumes.
My hands are quite stiff and arthritic these last few years, so I rarely sew any more. A bit of mending, or perhaps whipping up a new pillow cover or two, is about all I’ll do. My last big job was the drapes for our new house here. They’re not as fancy as some I’ve made over the years, but I’m pleased with them. The most tedious thing I ever made was a pair of 18 foot-long drapes for my daughter-in-law’s two-story living room. Yards and yards of fabric and lining. I thought that job would never end, but the curtains and drapes for her new house were a labor of love.
What I consider my own masterpiece, another labor of love, was the Christening outfit for my first grandchild. I was doing the embroidery on it even as she was being born over twenty years ago. There is a dress, a slip, a coat and a hat - and not an uncovered or raw seam in the whole set. After each child wore it I embroidered their name and birth date on the dress. Now the dress has been worn by my first great-grandchild, and the tradition continues.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Where is Freud when I need him to interpret for me: the other night I woke up in the middle of a dream and the ‘flavor’ of it stayed with me long enough for me to remember that I was “trying to find a bottle to hold the notes of my sorrow.”  
I'm happy as a lark and I rarely drink - and then only a glass of wine.
 The phrase has stayed with me and I don’t know what to make of it. 

Do you?

Monday, September 23, 2013


This, my own concoction, is a delicious, quick, and different kind of salad.  It is hard to find 6 oz. cans of good tuna these days, and I am now on the last of my hoard from Price Chopper in Pittsfield Massachusetts. I suppose the 5 oz. size will have to do once that last, sacred can is gone.  Perhaps we might even want to have a can each.

Warm Tuna Salad For Two

1 15.5 oz. (or similar size) can of Great Northern, cannelloni, or other white beans, drained and rinsed

1 6 oz. cans tuna, drained and broken into large chunks

2 ¼” slices off a large red onion, cut slices into thirds

1 small tomato, cut into thin wedges

¼ cup olive oil

3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste on top of the tomato

Pour olive oil into a medium frying pan and begin to heat it on a medium heat.  Add the beans and onions and warm them through for just a few minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. 

Divide beans and onions into two bowls, topping them each with half of the chunks of tuna, and half of the tomato.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Karen l. Mulder, a guest columnist on The Daily Glean, was bemoaning the budget cuts that will affect the staffing, and, thus, the hours and maintenance of some of our national treasures: the parks, the hundreds of historic sites, and, more specifically, The Smithsonian.

She wrote: “What is it about a trip to D.C. that entices thousands of teachers and chaperones to spend a day herding cats and sugar lows? For one thing, interactive learning is regaining credence as the modus operandi of education’s future. After all, a ten-year-old with a smart phone has access within half a second to more historical facts than the most learned medieval and Renaissance scholars could hope to glean in a lifetime of erudition. Enticing our children to appreciate the value of historical knowledge, when it is so easily gained, is quite the challenge.”

An educated populace is, it is hoped, an open-minded populace. To me, the education of our populace is the last place for budget cuts. Yes, that ten-year-old has access to all that great information, but something has to pique his interest – and that’s where museums and parks and historic sites play their part. They’ve got to be kept open and running for as many hours as possible. They widen the scope of any lessons learned in school. They add a bit of “wow!” and “oh gee, look at that!” to the every-day stuff.

Saturday, September 28, is Museum Day. Go to the Smithsonian page, see what museums are participating in your area, and print yourself a ticket for two to the museum of your choice.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013



This is a page from my own scrap book. The wonderful page of diet and exercise wisdom is from an old Family Circle magazine.  “Whenever I feel like exercise I just lie down until the feeling passes.” -A sound move!

The gal in the top pix is me.  I don’t know who the other gal is – I saw her at a fall festival at the Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, New York. She looked so majestic, so well supported, if you know what I mean. I just had to have a picture of her to remind myself that us hefty gals can and should always look great.

The cartoon at the bottom got cut off a bit. That’s old Shoe there, coming out from the chiropractor’s office.  “Well I found out what’s wrong with my back: my front.”  Me too!!


Monday, September 16, 2013


I was pleased to see that this was the next recipe to be transferred to my main blog. I've made this recipe many times since that original post, and with minor variations, it's still a proven winner.

Mince 1 small onion. Mince enough celery to get about ¼ cup.

Sauté  them both in about 1 Tbsp. of butter, in a medium sauce pan, until they are translucent but not too soft. Add equivalent of 1 clove of minced garlic. 

Add 1 ripe plum tomato, finely chopped, and a 2 oz. jar of chopped pimentos

(and/or, if you wish, you can chop about ¼ cup worth of green pepper and sauté it with the onions and celery.)

Add 1 cup of water and 6 Tbsp. rice.  (This is a good amount for a not too huge portion of rice for two. I use RiceSelect’s Texmati Rice. Regular converted rice may call for more water.)

Add ½ Knorr or Maggi chicken bouillon tablet or one regular chicken bouillon cube.

Mix it all gently, bring it all to a boil, put a lid on the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer for 12 minutes, or according to your package directions.  This small amount of rice does not take as long as usual. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
This rice medley goes well with shrimp or chicken.

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

These pictures were taken when I made the Spanish rice last week.  Later I noticed that I could have added a bit more color to the plates before I set them on the table.  A sprinkling of chopped chives would have been just the thing.  You might want to read this entry from America's Test Kitchen about Perfect Plating - or how to add eye appeal to anything you serve.


Friday, September 13, 2013


Sometimes when an authority I respect – anyone from my Mother on up, and that would include policemen and doctors – tells me what I must do, I do it. I stop at stop signs in the middle of the night when I know no one is coming. Except for pushing the boundaries of the speed limits right up to the nine miles over, I’m law abiding to the nth degree. (I do love speed – I think I’m a closet NASCAR driver, a Tony Stewart. I’m chunky enough!)

When I was about four or so, my Mother dressed me and put me out in the back yard to play. Her parting words were “… and don’t take off your sweater.”  Obedient child that I was, I left on the sweater – but I took off everything else! My mother would have me sit on the floor while she shopped at a department store counter, and if we were walking and shopping I wasn’t allowed to touch any of the merchandise. To this day I am obedient, and I unconsciously follow the rules set down for me eons ago. It’s not always a bad thing. That’s one of the reasons I have such good luck shopping on line: I don’t have to touch what I’m buying. Sometimes when I do shop in a store, usually for some decorative item, I wish I was more observant. I’ve gotten stuck a few times, carried away by the moment. It’s like driving: every once in a while I drive along, almost unconscious of the fact that I’m driving. Wake up woman!

In recent weeks I’ve come upon little sentences, quips, ideas that strike a chord in me. A Sherlockian quip to someone was “you see the world and miss the details.” Unless I really am mindful, unless I really concentrate, that’s me. In the Wallender TV mystery series someone told him “you don’t look at the world, you drive straight through it.” Me again.   

Most times I just don’t think – I just go about life doing what I think should be done. On occasion I wonder if I’m really conscious, aware of what I’m doing, or am I just going through the motions. Well, I’ve gotten this far safely and in one piece. No traffic tickets, no broken bones, no major maladjustments. Yes, it can’t be all bad.

An Obedient Plant - that's me!
I am obedient and I bloom where I am planted.






Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Horse Hockey! It's happened again! I'm typing this post with a wee bit of difficulty on my backup laptop because yesterday my main machine just went black.  This PC doesn't like Blogger very much and I'm jumping through hoops of fire this morning.

I've lost a few essays that I was going to post later in the year and the picture that was to go along with the post I had for today but - 
c'est la  vie.

Seeing as how the PC can't be repaired I've got a new one sitting on my desk - but it has Windows 8, which is a completely foreign language to this old gal who has used the old Microsoft versions for fifteen years.  It will be a challenge to this old brain, but eventually I'll be back in business.

Take care everyone!

Monday, September 9, 2013



I do realize that this hot weather we're having might not seem to be conducive to turning on the oven to bake a pizza. I have been estivating in my nice, cool cave, and baking a pie is surely the better alternative to getting out in the heat and driving to the nearest, good pizzeria.  I Italicize the word 'good' because there are several chain pizzerias between me and the best pizzeria around, and that one is in another state. So do give this one a try. Don't be intimidated by the yeast - it is very forgiving. And don't be concerned by the looks of your pizza - it will be that taste that's important.

Start to prepare this at about 4:30 or 4:45 for 6:oo PM dinner
In bowl mix
½ C warm water - 1 Tblsp yeast* - ½ tsp sugar - ½ tsp salt 
When mixed well add 1 Cup of flour, and mix well.  This will be very, very sticky.
Using an oiled spatula, turn this out on to a floured surface.  Flour your hands and mix a bit more flour into the dough, adding up to ½ Cup more flour. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. 
Scrape up the dough and put it into a well-oiled oven-proof frying pan, or on a small cookie sheet or round cake pan - or what have you? (not Teflon coated!).  Spread the dough out to the sides of the pan using floured fingers.  Let dough sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare topping by sautéing 1 large, chopped or sliced onion in a Tblsp or so of olive oil.  Add a tsp. or so of minced garlic, about ¼ tsp. of dried oregano,
and some salt and pepper.
Slice a very large garden tomato in thin slices. 
After dough rises for 15 minutes, preheat the oven to 450°

Spread the onions over the dough, arrange the sliced tomato over it. Sprinkle on fresh basil leaves (preferred) or dried basil, and then
1 Cup of shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheeses.
Pop the pizza into the oven when the temp reaches 450°

Bake pizza for 25-30 minutes, or until crust is brown and crisp.
Serve it with a green salad.

 * I buy my yeast in bulk, but you can use a single packet of yeast for this recipe.  A packet measures out at just a bit less than a tablespoon.

Friday, September 6, 2013


An article in City Journal sparked some memories of the good old days of literature. The article notes that many of the more popular magazines found in the supermarket check-out area still carry the same basic content they did years ago – with one exception: serious literary works of non-fiction, fiction and even poetry.  Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal – all today carry almost Twitter-quick articles aimed at making the reader the best at almost any undertaking, from cooking to decorating their homes, to dressing themselves and their kids, in the shortest amount of time.  I’ve saved several significant articles from year-old issues of Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, even Readers Digest, the like of which are never included in today’s editions. Yes, there are magazines today that publish excellent, if a bit esoteric, literature, but they're not there to be scooped up as an impulse buy by us regular folks.

My prime example of ‘the good old days of magazines’ is one from my college days in the early 60’s. Each dorm on the campus had a budget for periodicals for the main lounge area. One of the publications chosen for our dorm was Playboy: not for the centerfold – this was a women’s college – but for the fiction. Check out their list of top ten writers and you’ll see what we were reading way back then.

Ah, the good old days of check-out area magazines - like the good old days of live drama on television in the 50’s, they are gone forever.


Thursday, September 5, 2013


The outlook for today is warm and drier - typical Carolinas weather for this time of year.  I plan to do a bit of shopping (10% off for us seniors at Harris Teeter, of course!) and some household chores.
I've got a cache of interesting photos that I'm going to post from time to time. 
All my favorite blogs have been showing some lovely pictures of late. I wouldn't actually call this photo lovely, but it is interesting. I took it a few years ago at Portsmouth, New Hampshire's Strawbery Banke Museum (yes, that's spelled correctly.)  It was a sublime visit on an early September day.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Not Mickey D’s but McDo – evidently that’s what the French call McDonald's. Slate had a drool-inducing article about the menu at the local McDo’s in Perpignan. Wholly Pommes Frites, Batman! - a McBaguette? I want one of those!

The author of the piece, telling us it was a “surreal McDonald’s experience,” writes of having a McRaclette with “a spring salad, washed down with a cold Heineken.”  A Heineken? They’d be flocking to Mickey D’s here if the American branch followed suit.

The McDonald’s overseas do try now to cater to the local tastes. Europeans and Asians don’t want to eat most of the pap served here. We Americans are accustomed to the regular burger and chicken fare – super sized wherever possible! -  but wouldn’t it be wonderful if Mickey D’s put a little more international flavor on their menus? We’ve been to McDonald's in London, though like the London food of that time, the 80’s, it was fairly blah. Our Amsterdam visit was much the same.  Neither country is best known for its cuisine, so they can be excused.  Our last visit to a French McDo’s was in the late 90’s in Dijon. The menu hadn’t morphed into what it is now, but one thing struck as being very far from home: our mid-morning coffee was served with a lovely piece of chocolate.  Now that’s what we call civilized.

Monday, September 2, 2013


I'm not going to add any pictures to this post. Why? Beacuse there are too many ways you can do up this recipe. Find the Google images for 'frittata' and you will see what I mean.
Basically a frittata is a quiche without the crust - that's why you want to serve it with a baguette. You can add or change ingredients, except for the eggs, butter, and onions which are de rigueur, to your heart's content. It's another what-have-you-on-hand recipes. Think of adding asparagus, tomatoes, green pepper, chilli pepper, potatoes,even leftover spaghetti. How 'bout some ham or bacon? Change the cheese, change the seasonings. You can't go too far wrong.

I adapted this recipe from one I found in Bon Appetit many months ago.

Preheat the oven to 400°

4 eggs     
¼ cup grated parmesan
½ tsp. dried basil

½ tsp. powdered sage
1 Tbsp butter                              
1 small onion, diced
4 white mushrooms, sliced thin (optional) 
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup shredded mozzarella

Have all ingredients ready before starting. Whisk eggs, parmsan and herbs in a small bowl.

In an ovenproof nonstick pan, heat the butter over medium heat and sauté the onions until they are just soft. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the onions are golden, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the egg mixture to the pan and cook until it begins to set – about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Put the pan in the oven and bake until eggs are set – about 7 to 10 minutes. Cut frittata in half with a wooden spatula and slide the halves on to plates.

Serve with salad and baguette.