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Friday, 29 April 2016


Already, Bryan and I have been out looking at new camping equipment . . .  and I am ALWAYS looking for recipes that will work at a campsite.


2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 cup Kalamata olives
1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
¼ tsp crushed chilies (hot red pepper flakes)
½  tbsp chopped fresh herbs: choose from thyme, rosemary, or
1 tsp dried oregano

1.     Cut tomatoes in half and put in small pyrex dish that has a lid.
2.    Remove pits from olives and add to tomatoes.
3.    Zest the lemon and add to tomatoes.  (Or you can thinly peel the lemon and chop the peel finely.)
4.    Mince the garlic and add.
5.    Sprinkle on the chili flakes and herbs.
6.    Stir all with the olive oil.
7.    Cover and let marinate at room temperature for several hours.

·        Thank you CHATELAINE MAGAZINE, Aug 2000.

P.S.  If Vesper isn’t dreaming about camping, she soon will be :)

Monday, 25 April 2016

Conversations with Maybelle and IRISH BOXTY BREAD !!!!

"You're making me wear Vesper's old jacket? This is so not cool."

"Now what's the problem?"

"I brought you the ball; so throw it!"

"Come on; I haven't got all day."

"No, I don't want to sit down first."

"Alright, already, I'm sitting."

"Now I have to listen to stories about Vesper?"



from BRITISH COOKERY, edited by Lizzie Boyd

1 lb mashed potatoes
1 lb peeled potatoes
1 ¾ cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
⅛ tsp pepper
4 ounces melted butter

  • Boil and mash one pound of potatoes.
  • drape the inside of a large bowl with a clean cloth.
  • Half-fill the bowl with cold water.
  • grease a baking sheet.
  • Melt the butter and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Peel one pound of potatoes and finely grate them onto the cloth in the bowl of water.
  • Wring the potatoes out and mix into the mashed potatoes.
  • the starch will settle to the bottom of the bowl of water.  Pour off the water.  Stir the starch into the potatoes.
  • Add flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and melted butter.  Mix thoroughly.  
  • Lightly flour a counter.  Roll into two large circles.  
  • Set on greased baking sheet.  Mark each round into quarters.

  • Bake 45 to 55 minutes.  (They will still be soft inside at 55 minutes -- they’re actually big potato pancakes.)
  • Serve hot with butter.  Split them in half or just butter the top.  

We thought we’d just make these once for the experience but we actually REALLY LIKED them.  

So did Kepler!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


Although you have to pay and go on a tour to see inside the 18 buildings that house the works by Donald Judd and other artists, there’s also a free, self-guided tour of a large number of Judd’s concrete structures. 

I have to say the guidebooks I looked at weren’t exactly on fire about the Chinati Foundation so I was surprised at how stunning these are.

Kepler really enjoyed them, too.

So you’re in Marfa to see the art . . . well, you need to stay somewhere. 

Nicole chose El Cosmico, which, according to OFF THE BEATEN PATH TEXAS, is both a cultural center and a lodging choice that’s a “magnet for artists, musicians, and people who embrace a lifestyle that blends sophistication with bohemian sensibilities”.    

You can choose between staying in a tent, a tipi, a yurt, a trailer, or your own camping equipment. 
You park your car and trundle your belongings over to your home away from home.

 Lonely Planet calls it a funky choice and warns that it’s not for everyone: the grounds are dry and dusty and you might have to shower outdoors.

Staying in “Little Pinky” meant we had to step outside to get to our toilet as well, and, BRRRR, was it COLD there at night.

Nicole and Kepler's trailer was a bit more comfortable and spacious. 

Marfa is not cheap to visit -- it's like a pilgrimage site for art lovers from New York.  Also, you really have to plan on visiting between Friday and Sunday or places may be closed.  But it IS worth it and when you go make sure you have breakfast in BUNS AND ROSES.

                                              We'll be back, for sure.


The recipe I'm sharing here is, I'm happy to say, also a work of art.


from FIRE in my BELLY  by Kevin Gillespie, c 2012.  
(in Nicole's cookbook collection)

1 to 2 lbs beets (about 4)
1 ½ cups red or white wine vinegar
1 ½ cups sugar
⅓ cup pickling spice
4 inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1 star anise
1 crown of broccoli
2 ounces goat cheese (we used feta instead)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ tsp water
2 tsp salt
1 cup greens (salad mix)
3 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper (5 grinds)
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese

  • Peel beets and cut into one inch chunks.
  • In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, pickling spice, cinnamon, and star anise.  Bring to a boil and stir about 2 minutes to dissolve sugar.  Remove from heat.  Let sit 10 minutes.
  • Strain to discard spices but reserve liquid.
  • Return liquid to pot.  Add beets.  Bring to boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Let beets finish cooking as they cool in liquid.

  • cut broccoli into small florets.
  • Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat.
  • Drop broccoli florets into dry skillet.  Stir and cook about 2 minutes until charred.
  • Put charred broccoli into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

  • In a small bowl, whisk together dressing of 2 ounces feta or goat cheese, lemon juice, water, and ¼ tsp salt.

  • FINAL ASSEMBLY at serving time you will have 4 separate bowls:
  • Bowl 1:  the  dressing
  • bowl 2:   toss the salad greens with 2 tbsp olive oil, ¼ tsp salt, and 2 grinds of pepper.
  • Bowl 3:  Drain beets & discard liquid.  Toss beets with 2 tbsp olive oil, ¼ tsp salt, and 3 grinds black pepper.
  • Bowl 4:  Toss broccoli with 1 tsp olive oil, ⅛ tsp salt, and 2 grinds of pepper.
  • Divide beets evenly among serving plates.  Top with broccoli, salad greens, and crumbled feta.  Drizzle on the cheese dressing mixture.

AMAZING! Like going to a first-class restaurant!

Friday, 15 April 2016


Nicole says she doesn’t know anyone, apart from me, who still uses guidebooks.  I do have a pretty good collection of them and it’s still growing.   

When I started planning our trip to Marfa, I found this brief recommendation in a sidebar about a scenic drive on Route 170 in Lonely Planet’s USA:

Keep going past Presidio and just past Ruidoso, and you’ll come to the turnoff  for Chinati Hot Springs:  Locals love the isolation of the outdoor tubs, campgrounds and cabins.

I checked my maps.   On one, Ranch Road 2810 from Marfa petered out before reaching Ruidoso, but another showed a sort of faint track going all the way down.  Nowhere did I see Chinati Hot Springs.  Still I figured we could find it so I phoned Nicole and asked if she’d be interested. 
“Chinati?  Yes! yes!”  was her response. 
Hot springs are pretty special, but, still, I was a bit surprised by her enthusiasm.   More about that later.

I immediately phoned about booking.  An incredibly upbeat Southern female set me up with two side by side cabins.

When we were actually on the road, Nicole asked me what sounded like an odd question.  "So, Mom, what day are we doing the Chinati tour?"

I was a bit nonplussed: "Uh, well, like I just said, we're going to the hot springs tomorrow."  

Well!  The look on Nicole's face . . . Turned out she had something else in mind ALTOGETHER!  

The main reason/the ONLY reason for going to Marfa is to do the Chinati Foundation ART TOUR!  

The very famous minimalist artist, Donald Judd (I'd never heard of him), "moved to Marfa from New York in the 1970s and took over a former army post, using the abandoned buildings to create and display one of the world's largest permanent installations of minimalist art."  

Fortunately, a hasty phone call secured a couple of spots on a tour. 

Okay, now we're okay with the Hot Springs . . . which actually once belonged to Donald Judd!

First, we picked up glamping supplies:  wine, steak, etc.  

Then on to Ranch Road 2810 which is only 50 miles long but is supposed to take us one hour and 40 minutes.  At first, it's all paved and we're thinking no problem . . . then, suddenly it's just gravel and rocks and mountains!  

But the scenery is so SPECTACULAR that Nicole asked to stop to get a picture.  Of course, no picture can capture it so you'll just have to take the trip :).   

Our cabins:
Bryan and I were in Dos Amigos:
Nicole and Kepler had their own outdoor hot tub :)
Here's the Hot Springs communal tub:

Cold pool:

 There's a dry river bed to explore:

and climbing apparatus: 

Will we go back some day?  YES!

Nicole loves brussels sprouts so I am always delighted when I find an interesting recipe for them.


             Based on Nathan Lyon’s recipe in PEOPLE MAGAZINE, February 2, 2015

2 cups Romaine lettuce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1/3 cup mayonnaise
½ tsp Dijon mustard
¾ tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp minced garlic
6 anchovy fillets (optional)
¼ tsp hot sauce (or more to taste)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese

·        Grate Parmesan and set aside.
·        Wash and tear lettuce.  Put in large salad bowl.
·        If using anchovies, chop and mash them in a small bowl. 
·        Mince the garlic and add to the small bowl.
·        Add mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and hot sauce to the small bowl.  Whisk to combine.

·        Thinly slice brussels sprouts. 

·        Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Add oil and brussels sprouts.  Stir for 7 to 9 minutes until sprouts are lightly charred.  Transfer to the large salad bowl while they are warm or when cooled.

·        Stir dressing into the large salad bowl and sprinkle with Parmesan.  

"This is now my favorite Caesar ever!" was one comment at the table.

Sunday, 10 April 2016


Two intrepid adventurers!

Rick’s CafĂ© in Casablanca

Market food

Cooking with a family!

Now, for those of you who are intrigued by this amazing looking platter, here’s the recipe and you can actually make it at home! 


Thanks to Anissa Helou and her article in Saveur Magazine.

3 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
4 cups chicken stock
3 eggs
½ cup blanched, sliced almonds
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 medium yellow onion
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp saffron threads, mixed with 1 tsp water
3 tbsp minced cilantro
3 tbsp minced parsley
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
6 tbsp melted butter
⅛ cup icing sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
about 1 tbsp Ras el hanout:  You make this by stirring together the following spices:
¼ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp coriander
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp turmeric

½ tsp cumin
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

* Put chicken and stock into a large pot.  Bring to boiling and skim.  Reduce heat to simmer, covered, for 45 minutes to one hour.
Remove chicken and let cool.  Then chop the meat and put in a large bowl.  Discard the skin and bones.
Pour off some of the stock to save for another use.  Leave about 2 cups of liquid in the pot.  Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for about 30 minutes until reduced to one cup.  Degrease and let cool.  Whisk in eggs.  Set sauce aside.

  • Toast almonds in a frying pan over medium high heat for about 4 minutes.  Finely grind them in a food processor, then set aside.

  • Finely mince garlic.
  • Finely chop onion in food processor.
  • Heat olive oil in fry pan and cook garlic and onion for about 8 minutes over medium heat until golden.
  • Add all the ras el hanout, chile flakes, and saffron mixture.  Cook one minute and remove from heat.
  • Stir this into the bowl of meat.
  • Add almonds, the egg/stock sauce, cilantro, parsley, salt, and pepper.  
  • Put bowl in fridge until you’re ready to finish assembling the pie.

  • Start oven heating to 400.
  • Butter a 9 inch springform pan.
  • Lay one sheet phyllo on a work surface and brush with melted butter.  Lay it in the pan, half in and half hanging out.  Repeat with more sheets (about 6 to 8 sheets in all.)  
  • Spread half the filling on top of the dough.
  • Layer on more sheets (about 6 to 8 sheets).  
  • Add the remaining filling.
  • Top with more sheets of buttered phyllo. Fold in the out-hanging phyllo to encase the filling.
  • Top with two more buttered sheets of phyllo, neatly tucked down.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

  • Put icing sugar and cinnamon beside your plate on the dining table so that you won’t forget to dust the pie with them before serving. You DON'T want to miss this step because it actually makes the B'stilla taste even better than fantastic!
  • (I forgot and we had to dust them afterwards.)