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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

SOUP . . . to the rescue!

Dad, 1964

Of course, everyone knows that chicken soup is POWERFUL MEDICINE.  

Marilyn wrote:   I have dreams of homemade noodle soup made from real chickens and homemade kisto!! What I'd give for a bowl of home made chicken .. the real kind!!" 

But, if you Google garlic and colds, you’ll find lots of information about how garlic is another ferocious ally.

Me, 1957

Once, when I was in grade 4 or 5, my dad brought me some garlic in hot milk.  I really didn’t want to drink it, but I loved my dad so down it went and . . . up it came.


Enter, for my family, Paula Peck’s GARLIC SOUP with CROUTONS!

First, prepare the croutons:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
3 to 4 slices of bread

·        Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
·        Cut bread into cubes.
·        Heat oil and butter in a frying pan over high heat.
·        Brown the bread cubes, stirring constantly.
·        Bake the cubes for 25 minutes.

Now, prepare the soup:

1 cup peeled garlic
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup drained canned tomatoes
4 cups chicken soup stock (or a 900 ml carton – because colds strike without
¼ tsp pepper
Salt to taste

1.      Finely chop the garlic.
2.     Gently sauté garlic and onion in olive oil until softened.
3.     Blend the tomatoes in a food processor.
4.     Add pepper and tomatoes to the garlic in the sauce pan and cook for 3 more minutes.
5.     Add stock and simmer for 15 minutes.   Taste for salt.

Spoon up a delicious, steaming bowlful . . .  and feel better!


Now Vesper's under the weather.  She needs to keep well-hydrated but only took a couple of laps of water.
Then I put out a bowl of Chicken Broth.
Down it went!


And some advice for those rough patches that even Chicken soup won’t cure . . .

A friend, who worked as a Life Skills Coach, once told me, “Ask yourself – is this problem still going to be a big deal 5 years from now.  If it isn’t, it’s not worth stressing about now.”   

Friday, 26 April 2013

Baking BROWNIES, brewing coffee, and . . .

A man was shot dead night before last in my neighborhood.  Only the tape on the outer perimeter of the crime scene was being removed yesterday morning.  How does this affect us?   One woman in the elevator put it this way, “It’s just a bunch of gang bangers.”  Another woman, though, said she wouldn’t be using the neighborhood gym anymore – “Too many gangs use it.”

As for me,  it’s no different than seeing it on the news.  I never used the gym anyway.  I didn’t see or hear anything so I'm getting on with things . . . like making a  costume for Kepler. 

Diana was over and really liked these Brownies -- the way she put it:  "At last a Brownie worth eating!"  In fact, she wants the recipe, so here it is for all of you.  It’s from an old Purity Cookbook, a gift from my mother.

2 squares unsweetened chocolate
½ cup shortening, divided

½ cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla

Chocolate icing

1.      Preheat oven to 350.
2.     Butter an 8 inch square pan.
3.     Melt chocolate with ¼ cup shortening over low heat and set aside.
4.     In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
5.     Cream ¼ cup shortening with sugar.
6.     Beat in 2 eggs.
7.     Stir in the melted chocolate, nuts, and vanilla.
8.     Stir in the flour.
9.     Put batter into baking pan.
10.                         Bake for 30 minutes.  The center will still be sticky.
11.                          When cool, spread chocolate icing on top.

P.S.  Marilyn likes this recipe too.  She says hers comes from the OLD, OLD, OLD Blue Ribbon cookbook.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

D is for Delightful DOGS, Delicious DOUGHNUTS, and DOVBUSH

The Icebreaker in Surrey

Since I’ve been walking Vesper I’ve met sooo many new people and dogs.   Tonight’s encounter with a hugely rotund, friendly bulldog who absolutely wanted me to pat her still has me smiling. 

The Vamp in Laredo

On walks, I was stopped more than once by people who were interested in having Maybelle meet their Dog.  There was even an offer to buy her.


“No, no, thou never didst me good
nor ever will, I know”

Isabella Whitney was not thinking of DOUGHNUTS when she wrote those lines in 1573, but still they perfectly express my obsession.  Open a box of those crispy treats in front of me and I’m lost:

French Crullers, Glazed Old Fashioneds, Glazed Sour Creams, Lemon Jellies, Apple Fritters . . . ahhhh. 

But my favourite is a whipped cream filled Ghostbuster.  If you are ever spot a Robin’s Doughnuts, zip in and have one.  You’ll thank me later. J
In the States, I can’t resist a fresh, hot Honey doughnut at a Krispy Kreme.  And there’s a little stand on the white sandy shores in the Florida Panhandle that makes incredible doughnuts – I chose a Key Lime AND a Red Velvet!
Recent experiences in Texas didn’t disappoint either:

Of course, Mom used to make and freeze dozens of doughnuts for late evening snacks. In June, 1982, she wrote:
When I baked the doughnuts I thought I would have for all summer but they are all gone.  Will have to do them next week when I get the flour. 

But the only doughnuts I make are Indian GULAB JAMON which are small and round and swimming in a rosewater-sugar syrup.  I didn’t actually like them the first time I had them in India, but, like all other doughnuts, they are addictive!


Ukraine in the 1700’s:  Oleska Dovbush and “his band of merry Hutsuls” hid in the Carpathian Mountains, robbed the rich, and gave to the poor.  A Polish army couldn’t catch him, but he was betrayed by his mistress, executed, dismembered, and distributed about the villages as a warning to other opryshki (outlaws). 
[from Lonely Planet]



Monday, 15 April 2013


Family History Continued:  JOHN and ANNE LESCHYSHYN 

At first, John and Anne squatted on government land east of Rossburn, but later they bought that quarter of land.

 Their house probably resembled the one we saw in an outdoor museum in Ukraine.

Mom said the entry to their house was divided, with one side being the pantry.  The other side had a long bench.

 In the main room of the house there were beds, including a Ukrainian bed that was a seat during the day.  At night, the lid was taken off revealing the mattress and covers.   One bed was made up during the day with a white bedspread and a lot of pillows embroidered at the closed end.  When the bed was made up, the embroideries faced the room.  (Anne didn’t like embroidering and didn’t care about the embroidered things.  She left them in the attic when this first house was later turned into a granary.  No one knows what happened to them.)

Behind the homemade table, there was a big bench, about 6 or 8 feet long.  It had arms.  Some people only had benches, but John and Anne also had chairs.

The children sat near the stove to be warm when they were studying or whatever. 


Mom used to make a dessert she called COTTAGE PUDDING.  It was a white cake swimming in a wonderful, sweet, spicy sauce.

 Any white cake recipe will do, but Mom’s sauce recipe is UNIQUE!  "Hope you have luck," she wrote.



2 cups white sugar
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp flour (or 1 tbsp cornstarch “or so”)
½ cup cold water
1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp butter

Boil water in a kettle.
Mix sugar, spices, salt, and flour in a saucepan.
Whisk in ½ cup cold water.
Start heating on the stove and gradually whisk in 1 cup of boiling water.
Continue stirring until mixture thickens. 
Add 1 tbsp butter.
Serve hot (or reheated the same day) over plain white cake with vanilla ice cream.  (Diana prefers to serve it with cake and whipped cream.)

*Very Important:  This sauce is very good, but only on the day it is made.

Thursday, 11 April 2013


The first time I met Bryan’s mother was at our wedding.  She impressed me immediately with her regal appearance and gracious manner. 

Kay was a wonderful mother-in-law; always pleasant, welcoming, and cheerful.

The girls have fond memories of Granny Foran.


Bryan remembers his mother making Rice and Raisin Pudding and serving it with milk.  He’s still a fan!
Bryan says his family never had it with cream.  In fact, cream was only for the adults in the Foran family who had it in coffee.  The children, however, sometimes got Carnation Evaporated Milk! 


This recipe surprised me in so many ways.  First of all, I didn’t see how it could work – just ½ cup rice in 4 cups of milk – I was sure it would turn out to be only a big, milky mess.  Instead, it turned out to be exactly the rice pudding Mom used to make!   

I didn’t actually like rice pudding when I was growing up, but the rest of the family did.  It was a healthy dessert, served with milk, but we always poured cream on top, too.

This time I poured only milk all around it and ate it for breakfast.  It was better than a hot porridge (probably because of the novelty) and just as healthy too. 

But it also worked for me as a dessert in the afternoon – I reheated it in the microwave and ate it with vanilla ice cream.  Yum!


            From:  Better Homes and Gardens, New Cookbook (the old 1960s edition)
½ cup rice  (I used Arborio rice)
4 cups milk
½ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp grated lemon peel
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup raisins.

·        Preheat oven to 300.
·        Butter an 8 or 9 inch round casserole.
·        Combine all ingredients and pour into casserole.
·        Bake, uncovered, for 3 to 3 ½ hours.


Insomniacs and New Moms:  this could work for you J.  Just before going to bed,  combine all ingredients except milk.  At 4 am, pop casserole in the oven.  Yummy breakfast ready at 7 or 7:30 am.

Otherwise, make it any old time and reheat in microwave.  Nicole says:  It was a super yummy breakfast--especially for the sleep deprived:) I started seeing faces in the rice patterns lol

Marilyn says:  Thanks for posting this recipe.. I brought memories of me being a very young cook. I had found the recipe in Manitoba Co-operator Newspaper. Do you remember that paper? I loved Mom's snowball rice pudding..snowball being the operative word! I remember reading and thinking the same .. so much milk and so little rice..I used my bright red dutch oven, cause I hate messes and to my surprise had a beautiful golden rice pudding, but not Mom's recipe! Bryan's Mom is lovely!

Marilyn also says:  Mom was very proud of her snowball rice pudding.. it had to be a perfect white!! I not sure what the recipe was! I think the rice is cooked first then made into a pudding

Angela, another of Kay's granddaughters, says:   The Christmas picture brought back memories... The china cabinet behind Bryan is now just a few feet behind me, here in the living room. :-)

Hey, Everybody!  If you have a Snowball Rice Pudding recipe, please share it.  :)

P.S.  April 14:  I tried this recipe again, this time with Brown Jasmine Rice.  It did NOT work.  

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

C is for Cute Cousins . . . and CHOCOLATE “Babka”

Nicole commented:  Kepler's 1st completely un-Eastery lol:) but I will take one 
for the team and eat chocolate for him ;)

Nicole was hoping for something a bit traditional when she suggested I make Martha Stewart's Babka recipe for Easter.    


Someday, hopefully, Kepler will meet some of his many, many cousins.  Here are just two of the ones closest to his age:




Martha Stewarts’ Chocolate Babka (which is delicious even if it isn’t really a babka
 at all)
1 tsp sugar
¾ cup warm milk
2 ¼ tsp yeast
3/8 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour
½ tsp salt
4 ounces softened butter

1 pound semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 ounces softened butter

Streusel Topping:
½ cup icing sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 ½ ounces butter

Prepare dough:
·        Stir 1 tsp sugar into warm (not hot) milk and sprinkle yeast on top.  Let stand 5 minutes.
·        In a large bowl, beat eggs with salt, 4 ounces butter, and 3/8 cup sugar.
·        Add in yeast and milk.
·        Mix in flour and turn onto floured surface to knead.  Dough will be soft and a bit sticky. 
·        Butter a bowl and put dough in it to rise, covered, for an hour.
Prepare Filling:
·        Chop the chocolate chips finely in a food processor.
·        Cream together ½ cup sugar, cinnamon, and 3 ounces butter.
·        Blend the chocolate into the sugar and butter mixture.
Prepare Topping
·        Blend together flour, icing sugar, and butter in food processor.
Make Chocolate Swirl Loaf 
·        Butter a large 9 inch loaf pan and line the bottom with waxed paper.
·        Turn dough onto floured surface and pat into a 16 inch square.
·        Crumble ¾ of the chocolate mixture onto the dough.
·        Roll dough up like a jelly roll. 
·        Hold one end of the dough and twist it twice.  Repeat with the other side.
·        Pat remaining chocolate mixture on top of the dough.
·        Fold the long 16 inch roll in half, over the mixture.   The roll will now be about 8 inches long.
·        Give the loaf a couple of twists on each end and place into the loaf pan.
·        Sprinkle with Streusel Topping.
·        Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.
·        Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
·        Bake loaf for one hour and ten minutes.

Serve hot out of the oven.   Yum!

Friday, 5 April 2013


“A loaf was never put on the table with the cut end pointing towards the door lest bread should leave the house.” 
          Silvia Kalvik:  ESTONIAN CUISINE


French Bread
Interesting method:  The loaf was put into a cold oven which then was heated to 400 degrees.  The bread stayed in for 35 minutes.


I would never have attempted to make bagels –  boiling circles of dough before baking them sounds like  courting disaster.   

Nicole, however, is more daring,  and made bagels herself a while back, before asking me to give her recipe a shot.  

I rolled these into ropes so they were too thin but, even so, they were chewy and tasted great when Nicole covered them with lox and cream cheese.  

Next time, I’ll try a different shaping method as described below.


3 tbsp sugar
1 ½ cups warm water
2 ½ tsp yeast
2 tsp salt
3 to 4 cups flour

·        Dissolve sugar in warm water.
·        Sprinkle yeast on top and leave for 5 minutes.
·        In a large mixing bowl, combine salt with 1 ½ cups flour.
·        Mix in the water and yeast.
·        Knead in more flour to make a stiff dough.
·        Let rest 20 minutes.
·        Divide into 8 balls. 
·        Use a floured finger to shape a hole in the center of each ball.
·        Place on greased cookie sheet.
·        Let rise 1 ½ hours.

·        Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
·        Bring 6 cups of water to a boil with 1 tbsp sugar.
·        Drop in 3 bagels at a time.  Boil 1 minute.  Flip and boil another minute.

·        Remove and place on greased baking sheet or on parchment paper.  Sprinkle immediately with sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
·        Repeat with other bagels.  Then bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

LOX on a BAGEL: 

Split bagels and spread with cream cheese, thinly smoked salmon, and capers.  Garnish with lemon wedges.


 Hopefully, I'll master bagels by the time Kepler's working on his ABC's.