Monday, January 31, 2011

Words cannot explain this wonderful woman, my Mum. She died 1 year ago today, and do I ever miss her.
I had the priviledge of being a caregiver to her, listening to her stories, watching her laugh about her own stories! Feeding her good food ! I used go to their home on most weekends armed with bags of great food! I know my Dad would have preferred a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but when I cooked for them, he ate every bite!
It was joyful to be there with them, even when Mum said over and over ago, "Look at Mama cat!" I would just smile. Even when she said it 2 minutes later.
It wasn't about words, it was just about being there for both of my parents.
Truly, a magnificent woman. The BEST cook ever, a brilliant quilter, she raised chickens, sheep, goats, she did it all!
Yesterday, while cleaning up my daughters room , I found a slip of paper tucked away that read, Grandmom, you are free from pain, Love, Sophia She is 7 years old!  Today, she went to school with a little quilt my Mum made for her. I only noticed it as she put in her backpack without a word. That's what she chose for "show and share." I love that child! Thank goodness for my own family and our loving friends. I am cherishing my thoughts as they swirl around in my mind. We will celebrate her life tonight with , as you know a beautiful dinner! Thankyou Mum for everything! Your loving daughter, Margaret

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

straight from Italy..... I'm not kidding!

The bottle alone is beyond beautiful, what's IN the bottle is divine! Thankyou Margaret!
Simple, I know that's the point! Mixed greens, prewashed, healthy,good! The thing I DID do to this simple salad, was drizzle a scrumptous 25 year old balsamic vinegar, and a superb olive oil ! Cooking with any olive oil is o.k. It's when you use it on your salad, you want the best!
I have a friend, Margaret, who just came back from Italy, so guess what she brought back for me! Yes, a beautiful bottle of olive oil!!!!!! I could drink it, I thought I'd better make it last!
Our friend, Kristi came for dinner and I made spaghetti al limone, (recipe on blog) and a simple salad, of course, great bread with olive oil. Kristi brought  the perfect bottle of pinot grigio to complete a lovely, yet simple meal. Yummy!

Monday, January 24, 2011

great snacks...

Again, it is really that simple. Fresh avacados, cuties, (tiny tangerines) and pistachio nuts. Yes, we can worry about the "fat content" in a couple of these, but more importantly, healthy fat is o.k. Again, think moderation. ( disclaimer, unless it is chocolate) I mean really, is it not ok for your breath to smell of chocolate??? As my daughter has busted me on more than one occassion, ok, several, "I smell something, and it smells like chocolate." What's a little fib, what's a little chocolate, esp when the food we eat is mostly what you see on my post! Enjoy!!!!


I love this little appetizer, brie, topped with fig jam, finished off with chopped marcona almonds...... Too die for! We went to our friends for dinner and this was our contribution, with simple light crackers of course. Tempting?

homemade granola!

Sometimes, in the rush of life, I forget, the little things, like making a batch of homemade granola. Think about it, put all your favorite ingredients together, starting with the obvious, oats, nuts, coconut, ANYTHING!  Combine honey and canola oil , toss and bake! Really it IS that simple. Bake for 40 minutes on 350 degrees, stir throughout the cooking time. Cool a bit and add any dried fruit you like! You'll never buy cereal again, esp. granola! Oh it  makes me think of my Mum, she used to make it all the time. It was so not a cool thing to do way back when, but she was way ahead of her time!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friends that feed the soul

What is it about friends who truly feed our soul? There is no explanation for it , we just feel it, these are two of the most lovely friends a person could ask for. As if you cannot see the richness in their eyes, I love them both. Kristi and Christy! Thankyou!

dinner too!

Friday, January 14, 2011


chili, on a cold night

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I love these!

Our friend, Kristi, came over Tuesday morning and brought these beautiful tulips! We have had so much snow, not too much sunshine, so these flowers were a cheery treat! I love not being able to get out too easily, it is always  fun to just nestle in, cook, read, eat, cook, eat more, what fun! Sophia and I had a snow ball fight one evening, what fun, playing out at night! John has been in Boston on business, stranded actually, he spent a couple of extra days staying with our friends, eating great food! Hopefully he will make it home this evening, we miss him! He's just so much fun to be around, always positive, gotta love that, we sure do!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

shrimp scampi

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The recipe....

Lamb with Couscous

1 1/2-2 lbs. lamb shoulder cut into 1-2 inch chunk
1 lg onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 C chicken stock
1/2 C raisins
1 C couscous

Brown lamb (in batches) in 2 Tbls oil about 10 minutes. S & P, remove lamb from pan.
Add onions and garlic cook 2 min or so , until soft.
Add all spices , cook about 2 min
Return lamb to pot, add chicken stock, raisins and simmer about 45-50 minutes.
Stir in coucous.
Turn off heat , let sit for 5-7 min.
That's it! Easy!

I served it with with braised swiss chard, smashed sweet potatoes, remember our oven quit working Friday! So even with the oven out of commission, we still had a fabulous dinner!

just the beginning!

braised swiss chard


Fresh lamb. I never cared for lamb, ever, no matter how it was prepared, maybe it was the mint jam my Mum would serve it with, ick. She was a magnificent cook, but for some reason, the fish sticks we ate every Friday, were so much better! If you can imagine that! I have to say when my friend, Lynn, told me about this recipe, Lamb with coucous, I had to try it! Lynn and her husband Tom, get lamb fresh from friends who have a farm nearby! Lucky me, Lynn and Tom picked some up for our dinner and acutally brought this perfectly fresh meat to our house! So you see, I didn't have much of a choice but to make this lovely dish , believe me it was divine. Much better than fish sticks!

Fruit first, chocolate later!

We always have a big bowl of fruit on the counter, and as hard as I try, I seem to be able to find my way to the chocolate that is put wayyyyy out of reach. I'd climb up on stool to reach for that lovely chocolate, more quickly than reaching for that pretty piece of fruit just arms length away. I WILL eat the fruit, there is just something about the chocolate! What is it??

Monday, January 3, 2011

South Indian-style vegetable curry

This one -pot meatless main gets complex flavor from a combination of spices. Serve with basmati rice. I use the brown basmati which is lovely. Serves 6

2 tbs. canola oil
1 lg yellow onion, finely chopped
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 2inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, and finely chopped
1 tbs ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tbs tomatoe paste
2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 cup coconut milk
1 3inch cinnamon stick
fine sea salt an freshly ground pepper

1 small califlower, broken into small florets, (about 4 cups)
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 lg carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1 15 oz can chickpeas , drained and rinsed
4 oz baby spinach
2 tbs fresh lime juice
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro

In a 5-6 qt dutch oven ,heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes.Reduce the heat to medium, or med-low if necessary and cook until the onion is richly browned, 5-7 minutes more. Add the garlic and ginger, cook stirring for 1 minute to blend the flavors. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne, stir for 30 seconds to toast the spices .Add the tomatoe paste and stir until well blended, about 1 minute.
Add the broth, coconut milk, cinnamon stick , 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low or low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the califlower, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and carrots. Raise the heat to med-high and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to ned-low , cover, and simmer untill the vegetables are tender, 20-25 minutes, Discard the cinnamon stick.
Stir in the chickpeas, spinach, lime juice, lime zest, season with salt and pepper. At this point I just turn the stove off, so that the spinach just wilts, but stays bright green! Put basmati rice in bottom of bowl and the curry spooned over, garnish with cilantro.

As I say about this dish , it is NOT complicated, just a little time intensive, what I find helpful is to prep it all before you start, piece of cake! Really, trust me! Any feedback is welcome! Oh, I love to make this a little ahead of time so it simply sits for an hour or so, with all those flavors melding together, I adore making this dish and eating it as well, your house will smell divine!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The beginning...

The beautiful ingredients......


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Fudge Torte


Fudge Torte

1 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C sugar
1/4 C hershey's cocoa ( I know there are all kinds of fancy
cocoa's out there but hershey's perfect)
1 1/2 tsps espresso
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4tsp salt
1/2 C butter (1 stick , of course unsalted) softened
3/4 C sour cream
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
FUDGE NUT GLAZE (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch round baking pan
line bottom with wax or parchment paper. Grease paper, flour paper and pan.

Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add butter, sour cream, egg and vanilla. beat on low speed of electric mixer until blended. Increase speed to medium, beat 3 min, Spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake 30-35 min, (I check it at 20, so that it doesn't get to "cakey". Cool 10 minutes (I let it cool longer, so that it doesn't crack coming out of the pan) Remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Place torte on serving plate.


1/2 C whipping cream
1/4 C sugar
1 T butter
1 1/2 teaspoons lt. corn syrup
1/3 C hershey's special dark or semi-sweet choc chips
3/4 C macadamia nuts ( or any other that you prefer, I love the salted macs because as you know there is something about the salt and sugar!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients except nuts an vanilla in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Continur to cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool 10 minutes, stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour glaze evenly over top, allowing some to run down sides. Refrigerate until glaze is firm, about 1 hour. You don't have to refrigerate, I don't usually!
  Enjoy, again , I am not a baker, and I can do this quite nicely and easily!

As promised!

Spaghetti al Limone (spaghetti w/lemon and olive oil)
  1lb spaghetti
  1/4 c olive oil
  1 med shallot, minced, about 3 Tbls
  1/4 c heavy cream
  2 tsp finely grated lemon zest, juice from 3 lemons
  (about 1/4 c)
  1 oz. finely grated Parmesean cheese (about 1/2 c)
  plus more for seving
  ground pepper
  2 tbls shredded fresh basil, I used more! nice garnish!

  Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in large Dutch oven over
  high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling
  water, cook, stirring frequently until al dente. Reserve
  1 3/4 C cooking water, drain pasta into colander, and
  set aside.
  Heat 1 Tbls. oil in now-empty dutch oven over medium
  heat until shimmering. Add shallot and 1/2 tsp salt;
  cook until shallot is softened, about 2 min. Whisk 1 1/2
  cups of reserved pasta cooking water and cream into pot
  bring to simmer and cook for 2 min. Remove pot from heat
  return pasta, and stir until coated. Stir in remaining 3 tbls
  olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese and 1/2 tsp
  Cover and let pasta stand 2 min. tossing frequently and
  adjusting consistency with remaining 1/4 C reserved pasta
  water if neccessary. Stir in basil and season with S&P to
  taste. Serve with drizzling with olive oil , sprinkling
  with cheese.

  This recipe I followed to a T! I don't usually do that , as I
  play a bit, but not this one. The recipe is from Cook's
  Illustrated magazine. Enjoy, this is a keeper!