Monday, July 30, 2012

A Dark Romance

The first edition of Wuthering Heights was published in 1848 under Emily Bronte's pen name of Ellis Bell. The book  received mixed reviews. It is the only novel she published. The book is considered a classic in English literature. 
The story is about a boy from the streets of Liverpool named Heathcliff who is adopted into a wealthy family and falls in love with his adopted sister, Catherine Earnshaw. When he realizes he can't have her, he tries to take revenge upon the entire family. It's a passionate, tragic love story.
Today is the birthday of the novelist and British poet Emily Bronte. She was born in Thornton, Yorkshire on July 30, 1818.  Emily was the third eldest of the four surviving Bronte siblings. She became a teacher at Law Hill School in Halifax in 1838, when she was twenty. Her health broke under the stress of the 17-hour work day and she returned home in April 1839. Thereafter she became the stay-at-home daughter, doing most of the cooking and cleaning and teaching Sunday school. She taught herself German out of books and practiced piano. 
I read a bit about her life and found out some scholars speculate she may have gotten the idea for her novel from her brother's life. He was fired from a job as a tutor after it was rumored that he had an affair with the mother of the children he was supposed to be teaching. He was also suffering from alcoholism and addiction to laudanum after trying -- and failing -- to become a painter in London. It's possible that Emily's brother Branwell began to tell her all his life experiences -- his addictions, his love affairs, and his failed attempt to become a painter.
In 1846, the sisters' poems were published in one volume as Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. The Brontë sisters had adopted pseudonyms for publication: Charlotte was Currer Bell, Emily was Ellis Bell and Anne was Acton Bell
Just after Wuthering Heights came out, Emily's brother began to fall ill. She took care of him for the next several months, until he died in September 1848. Emily came down with the same illness a month later, and died before the end of the year. She was only 30 years old.
Chicken Cantaloupe-serves 4
·1 package chicken flavor rice mix (Rice-A-Roni) do not substitute or use a product similar to this one-following cooking directions on box
· 4 cantaloupes
· 4 cups cut up chicken (could buy a roasted chicken from deli)
· 1 cup sliced almonds
· 1-2 tsp. curry powder
· cantaloupe pieces
·1/2 cup dried cherries
· Mracle Whip (do not substitute)

Cook  the Rice-A Roni according to directions
·Cut each cantaloupe in half-place one half face down on cutting board-with a sharp paring knife cut a saw tooth edge going all around the cantaloupe-set aside the triangle shaped pieces-repeat this three times with other cantaloupe halves
·Cut rind off triangle pieces left and place in bowl-add chicken, curry, cherries if using them and cooked rice Note: you will only use 2 cups cooked rice so save rice for another meal
·Add only enough Miracle Whip to moisten all ingredients
· Cover and refrigerate till chilled
· Wrap 4 saw toothed cantaloupe pieces till serving and refrigerate
· To serve divide chicken mixture among cantaloupe pieces and sprinkle with almonds
Note: My original recipe called for 1 TB. curry powder-curry is a strong spice so I would suggest starting with 1 tsp. and taste till you get the flavor strength you want

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Nature At Its Best

So sit back with a cold refreshing drink, maybe even a Mojito, and enjoy some pictures recently taken from a water garden pond tour in Minneapolis, MN. It is incredible what some can create right in their own back yards.

 Beauty of  Nature
Sunset at the dawn of a New day
Just watching it melts your stress away.
 Waterfalls pouring from a height
Quite an awesome, amazing sight.
by an anonymous author

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Refreshing Drink

True wisdom lies in 
gathering the precious things 
out of each day as it goes by:
E.S. Bouton 

If the Mojito was one of Ernest Heminway's favorite drink it works for me too! Ernest Hemingway made the bar called La Bodequita del medio famous as he became one of its regulars. He even wrote on the wall " Mi mojito en la Bodeguita" (My mojito at the Bodeguita) These words can still be read on the wall in his handwriting. Note you would have to go to Havana to actually see this for yourself. 
A Mojito traditionally is made of five ingredients: white rum, sugar, lime, sparking water and mint. The original Cuban recipe uses spearmint. In the past few years the mojito has become a popular summer drink.  
Cook's note: There are a variety of Mojito recipes but an important step not to skip is making your own simple syrup ahead of time. The syrup keeps in the refrigerator several weeks covered.
Simple Syrup
Heat equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan until just before boiling. Stir until sugar has completely dissolved. 
  • 2-1/2 oz light rum or try using mango rum which really kicks up the taste
  • 1 lime
  • 1 TB. simple syrup
  • mint leaves
  • ice
  •  club soda

  • Place 4 mint leaves and 1 TB. simple syrup in a glass and squish it all around with a spoon for 25 seconds till you have a good minty smell. This is called muddle.
  • Cut the lime in half and squeeze juice out from both halves into the glass
  • Pour in rum and stir
  • Add ice and top mixture off with club soda
  • Garnish with a lime

Serves 1

A new book Conspiracy of Friends (third book in the series Corduroy Mansions) by Alexander McCall Smith was the perfect accompaniment to the Mojito.
I will have to admit the dog on the cover first captured my attention. And then the author is one I've loved for his #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. This is the third book in this particular series. The first one is Corduroy Mansions followed by The Dog Who Came in from the Cold. Since I had not read the first two it took me awhile to figure out the characters who live in Corduroy Mansion but I caught up fast. Corduroy Mansion is a building set in the flats of London in the Pimlico section. It is inhabited by an assortment of characters including Freddie de la Hay, a playful but quite intelligent terrier, who is featured on the cover. Freddie only answers to Hay. While the book has multiple plots with quirky characters I can say Freddie seems a bit like Bella when he gets lost in the countryside as he follows the scents of rabbits. McCall's witty style makes this an  enjoyable read keeping up with the adventures of those who live at Corduroy Mansion. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The World According to Bella

Trying to Beat The Heat Wave
The sticky heat just goes on and on. Here's how I am surviving...
Frequent daily swims

Morning naptime inside with AC

Afternoon nap time inside with AC and fan

Evening rest time 
I have dug out the grass to make myself a nice cool spot in the dirt to watch the sunset.
My good behavior was rewarded that night as I was about to watch the sunset. Mr. C and Mrs S invited me out to dine al fresco on the lake at a nearby restaurant. It was so hot I drank a whole pitcher of water. Lucky they brought an extra bowl with them.

So, I'd like to know how are you surviving the heat?
Love, Bella

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Magical Bar

Magic Cookie Bars
Remember this recipe from the 80's? I recently came across a recipe adaptation of this decadent dessert. It was made with only 5 ingredients and the butter ingredient from the original recipe was omitted. After you have one bite of these bars you won't even miss the butter. And with only 5 ingredients it can be made quickly.  The tricky part is having a can of sweetened condensed milk in your pantry:)
If only I could consult Alton Brown, the food network star. He is the guy who understands the science behind food properties. Perhaps he could explain to me the reason why these bars magically rise and set without having used any baking soda, salt, baking powder or eggs. Maybe it's the sweetened condensed milk??

The Science Behind the Magic

Sweetened Condensed Milk is a special blend of milk and sugar that has been dissolved using a proprietary vacuum process to create a foolproof "base" for a variety of desserts. Because of the sugar already present in the milk, most of the recipes that  call for sweetened condensed milk requires no additional sugar. This product when canned lasts for years. What a plus!
When sweetened condensed milk is combined with acidic fruit juice, such as lemon juice, it thickens—without heating—to form velvety pie fillings, puddings and other desserts.
Magic Cookie Bars
  • 1-1/2 cup finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup semi- sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • optional 1/3 cup coconut

Mix well and press into a well greased glass pan 9 x 9 
Bake @ 350 for 26 minutes

"It's the little things you do that make the big things happen."
 Mike Dooley 
entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker, CPA

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Puff Pastry 102

Emma Lazarus (July 22,1849-1887)

She is an American poet and essayist and the author of "The New Colossus," Lines from her famous poem are engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
Today is the birthday of American poet Emma Lazarus. She was born in New York City in 1849. She came from a wealthy Jewish family, and her father paid to have her first collection of poems published when she was 17. Her early work impressed Ralph Waldo Emerson, and they corresponded for many years. In the 1880s, she was horrified to hear of violent anti-Semitic attacks in Russia and Germany, and her work took on a new Zionist focus. She became concerned with the plight of the poor and the refugee, and organized relief efforts for immigrant Jewish families. The Statue of Liberty committee approached her in 1883 and asked her to write a poem that they could auction off to raise money for the monument. She responded with "The New Colossus." The statue was erected in 1886, but she was in Europe. She sailed back to New York the following year, but she was too ill with Hodgkin's lymphoma to go on deck to see it as the boat passed. She died without ever seeing the statue she'd help raise money for "The New Colossus". 
Emma Lazarus' famous words, "Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" may now be indelibly engraved into the collective American memory, but they did not achieve immortality overnight. In fact, Lazarus' sonnet to the Statue of Liberty was hardly noticed until after her death, when a patron of the New York arts found it tucked into a small portfolio of poems written in 1883 to raise money for the construction of the Statue of Liberty's pedestal. The patron, Georgina Schuyler, was struck by the poem and arranged to have its last five lines become a permanent part of the statue itself.
New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles.  From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command 
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips.  "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
by Emma Lazarus, New York City, 1883
Now that my self confidence has increased with my recent Puff Pastry 101 experiences I've  moved on to Puff Pastry 102. Since I ran out of parties/events to bring appetizers to my husband and I enjoyed this recipe as our main meal.
There are some short cuts to the recipe that I will include in cook's notes.
The original recipe is from
Note: 1 sheet of puff pastry makes 18 triangles with apple/onion filling left over
There is enough filling in this recipe to use both sheets in the box for a total 32 triangles  
Caramelized Onion-Apple Bites

Cook's notes:The onion/apple filling can be made the day before serving and refrigerate. Bring apple/onion filling to room temperature before adding to pastry and baking. Grate cheese ahead and store in a ziploc bag and refrigerate. The pastry triangles can be prepared ahead of time in the morning. Place on a cookie sheet, cover and refrigerate.
  • 2-1/2  TB. butter
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, sliced thin, and chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp. Saigon Roasted Cinnamon (or use regular cinnamon) 
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • about 3 ounces shredded Fontina cheese
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry 
  • thyme
  • Melt butter in large fry pan over medium heat, add onions and salt saute about 5 minutes
  • Add in apple pieces, cinnamon, walnuts, and cook over medium heat about 15 minutes
  • Stir constantly till apples are soft and onions browned
  • Set aside to cool till baking
  • Unwrap defrosted pastry sheet-if using two pastry sheets cover other one with plastic wrap till ready for it
  • On a floured surface of parchment paper lightly roll pastry to a 10 inch square
  • Divide into 3 inch strips-then 3 inch squares
  • With a spatula that has been dipped into flour place squares one at a time on cookie sheet and then divide each square into a triangle
  • Make sure edges of each triangle do not touch each other 
  • Spread spoonful of apple/onion mixture on each triangle, and then sprinkle with shredded Fontina cheese and sprinkle of thyme
  • Bake 15 minutes till puffed and golden- serve onion/apple bites warm

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What I Missed

This is what happened one day in my backyard while I was at the lake,

On the left side of these picture there is a pond with an island. This backyard area provides great wildlife viewing often more than what I see at the lake. It is no wonder that Bella looks longingly out the window hoping for a chance to escape and explore on her own.
In the second photo towards the tree trunk are 3 babies who are being fiercely protected by mom and dad.
Trumpeter  Swans are the heaviest birds native to North America and on the average largest waterfowl. Its wingspan ranges from 73-98 inches. An average male weighs 26 lbs. and an average female 21 lbs. Adults are all white in plumage. They often bred in large shallow waters and ponds. Their diet consists almost entirely on aquatic plants. In the winter they may also eat grasses and grains. The female on average lays 3-12 eggs.
Some cool facts:

  • Trumpeter Swans were once hunted for its feathers throughout the 1600's causing them to decline in numbers. Its largest flight feathers made the best quality quill pens.
  • Some Trumpeter Swans can live more than 24 years.
  • Trumpeter Swans form pair bonds when they are 3-4 years old. The pairs stay together throughout the year, moving in migratory populations. These swans are assumed to mate for life.

Lucky for me, I have such wonderful neighbors who were able to document this backyard event and send pictures my way. 
E.B. White, children's author of Charlotte's Web, wrote a very heartwarming story called 
The Trumpet Swan.  Not only do children enjoy the story but adults as well.

In the book Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can't trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can't even make a sound. And since he can't trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him. Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena's affection--he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love? You need to pick up the book to find the answer:)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Eve Merriam

July 19, 1916- 1992
Eve Merriam was a poet, playwright, director and lecturer. She is a master at using metaphors to craft a poem. These are two of my favorite ones. Each poem gives me food for thought.   
Metaphor by Eve Merriam
Morning is
a new sheet of paper
for you to write on.

Whatever you want to say,
all day,
until night
folds it up
and files it away.

The bright words and the dark words
are gone
until dawn
and a new day
to write on.

How To Eat a Poem by Eve Merriam
Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that

may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.

You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.

Eve Merriam wrote many poetry books. One poetry Inner City Mother Goose was the basis for the 1971 Broadway musical, Inner City. This is a link to a complete list of the books she has authored.
In 1981, she was named the winner of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.

I have enjoyed using her books in the classroom. Blackberry Ink is a fun book for young readers. It is a collection of humorous and nonsense rhymes on various themes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Recipe Angst

I have often thought puff pastry

had a rather "mystical quality" about it.  As it bakes the sheets seem to magically rise to a flaky crispy texture with very little work. The sheets are quite versatile  for appetizers, main dishes and desserts. So when I saw Tomato Jewels online it looked like the perfect appetizer to bring to a dinner party. And the best part was I only needed to buy one ingredient: goat cheese.
But looks can deceiving and sadly my first attempt did not look like the picture and went in the trash. The recipe called for cutting dough into triangles which was not enough pastry to hold the tomato. I was determined to make this work. So on my second try with several modifications I cut the dough into squares and my results were so much better. The appetizer turned out great and in the end was worth the effort. My adaptations are noted in cook's notes. And you will be happy to know all the "kinks" have been worked out for this recipe:)

The above photo is my first failed attempt

Cook's notes: Use two large pieces of parchment paper rather than wax paper to roll out thawed pastry sheet. Be sure to spread flour in a wide radius on the parchment paper so dough does not stick. You will use only 1/2 of the box rest can go back into freezer.  
I used a product called Garlic and Herbs Goat cheese. Its texture was firmer that using Boursin or Alouette soft cheese. 
To save time the tomato cheese mixture can be made ahead earlier in day and refrigerated 
The pastry sheet was cut in 2-1/2 squares. The recipe makes 16 appetizers.

Tomato Jewels
  • 1- 4 oz. garlic and herbs goat cheese
  • 1/2 box puff pastry sheets
  • 1 container of cherry tomatoes
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large TB. ground walnuts 
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 

  • Lightly roll pastry sheet out on parchment floured paper 10 x 10
  • Measure out 4 strips each 2-1/2 wide and cut lengthwise
  • Then cut diagonally 4 strips each 2-1/2 wide with a total of 16 squares
  • Press into mini muffin tins and  make a indentation in center bake 5 minutes
  • Using end of a wooden spoon press in indentation again and bake two minutes more
  • While pastry cups are baking cut slits in tomatoes and scoop out seeds-drain on a paper towel
  • In a small bowl mix goat cheese with walnuts and Parmesan 
  • Use 1/2 tsp. to fill each tomato
  • Press tomato in center of pastry and grate Parmesan cheese over all pastry cups 
  • Bake 5 minutes longer or until golden brown
  • Remove and cool on a wire rack
Serving tip: Serve with a dry, crisp white wine 
Pepperidge Farm is a commercial bakery in the U.S. founded in 1937 by Margaret Rudkin, who named the brand after her family's property in Fairfield, Connecticut, which in turn was named for the pepperidge tree, Nyssa sylvatica. Since 1961, the company has been owned by the Campbell Soup Company. It is based in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Its products include Milanos, and Nantucket cookies, Goldfish crackers, and varieties of bread.
Puff Pastry is made with the same basic ingredients as pie pastry, but the dough is folded multiple times to create layers. When baked, steam makes the layers rise about 8 times higher.

For more recipes using puff pastry go to

Monday, July 16, 2012

Spinach Salad

Beat the heat with an easy meal...
Spinach Salad
serves 4-5
Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 package (10 oz.) spinach
  • 1 small red onion sliced in rings 
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1 small  can water chestnuts, drained and sliced
  • 1 can bean sprouts, drained or buy fresh from produce
  • crumbled bacon bits 
  • sunflower seeds or glazed almonds or walnuts (packaged in produce section)
Dressing Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 TB. Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Mix salad ingredients
  • In a blender on high speed mix well

Serving suggestion:
Add dressing just before serving

"It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and

-- Jackie Joyner-Kersee 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

St. Swithin's Day

My interest was peaked today when I saw information on St. Swithin's Day which is celebrated in the UK.  Tradition has it that whatever the weather is like on July 15th that  weather will continue for the next 40 days. It is predicted that much of the UK will be dry on July 15th so by old wives standards means that next 40 days clear weather will follow. 
Here in Minnesota if we were to embrace this folklore we'd be in trouble. We are experiencing a very hot muggy dry spell and even a prediction of 100 on Monday July 16th. 
Perhaps you are wondering who St. Swithin is. He was a Saxon bishop of Winchester and  earned fame for  building churches and his charitable gifts.
All eyes definitely are on the UK during the next few weeks with upcoming Olympics. Despite the prediction of a dry July 15th in the UK region unsettled weather for the upcoming weeks is in the forecast.
If you are lucky enough to be going to the Olympics good idea to take a raincoat just to be on the safe side. 
Please note in the header of blog links I made a change to include a new link to Linda Lein. She is an author of 4 books, a writing coach and webmaster for Lake Region Network, a non-profit organization formed to serve writers in west central Minnesota. 
Linda's website is a place where you will find writing tips, revision techniques, publication opportunities and book reviews.  Her website is designed to be an interactive  site. 
Check out her latest blog on the Power of Words.

"Having more joy does not necessarily require a life overhaul

-- you may just need to create more space in your life for

moments of joy."

 Debrena Jackson Gandy 

Friday, July 13, 2012

It's All About The Number

Did you know that President Franklin D. Roosevelt apparently suffered from triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13)? According to The Huffington Post he refused to travel on the 13th day of any month and would not host a dinner party with 13 guests. Here's a new word I had not heard of  paraskavedekatriaphobia which means fear of Friday the 13th
Today is the third of three Fridays the 13th that fall in the calendar 2012: Since April, May and July all start on a Sunday, this means the 13th day falls on a Friday. And for the first time since 1984, those three Friday the 13ths — Jan. 13, April 13 and July 13 — are exactly 13 weeks apart, not good news for triskaidekaphobics, who have a fear of the number 13.
One psychotherapist, who specializes in the treatment of phobias, asserts some 17-21 million Americans fear Friday the 13th. So if you are a bit superstitious you might find comfort in these words: To avoid bad luck on Friday the 13th there are a number of things you can do to ward off fate. Touch wood, cross your fingers, avoid black cats, don't walk under ladders, do not break a mirror and don't step on cracks on the sidewalk.
But I say reverse the thinking... HAVE A 
Ashley Bryan July 13th, 1923
Ashley Bryan is a children's author and illustrator of over 30 children's books. He was the first African American to publish a children's book as an author and illustrator in 1962. It is interesting to note that he did not get published till he was forty and his last book  Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song won a Golden Kite Award  in 2010 for non-fiction. In 2003 when he was nearly 80 still writing and drawing he was asked about his indefatigable energy he said, "I don't really understand what one means by years. I approach everything as if I have just begun. I am always discovering a new world and always have the urge to keep developing . Each time I finish something, I can't wait to start again and do something even better". 
What a great inspiring can do attitude he has about life.
Many of his book are retelling of folktales from Africa, India and France.
I give this book a high recommendation for the 4-8 age group with its stunning collage illustrations  using vibrant colors. The book illustrates three familiar Negro spirituals: "This Little Light of Mine", "When The Saints Go Marching In" and "He's Got The Whole Worlds In his Hand." 
The book is Bryan's  interpretation of the lyrics to these songs and the history behind them. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Beloved Author

Elwyn Brook  White 

July 11, 1899-October 1, 1958
E.B. White was an influential modern essayist whose work was largely known through the New Yorker magazine. He also was well known for his revision of William Strunk's The Element's of Style which is widely used in English classes. But for me E.B. White is best remembered for his children's classics the enduring story of  Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. 
Charlotte's Web is a story of the bond between Wilbur the pig and the clever spider Charlotte who saves his life which is a testimony to the power of their friendship. The story also reminds young readers death is a part of life.
Wilbur: Are you writers?
Charlotte's daughters: No, but we will be when we grow up.
Wilbur: Then write this in your webs, when you learn: This hallowed doorway was once the home of Charlotte. She was brilliant, beautiful, and loyal to the end. Her memory will be treasured forever.
Charlotte's daughters: Ooh, that would take us a lifetime.
Wilbur: A lifetime. That's what we have. 
Broccoli Salad
  • 1 bunch of broccoli cup up in small pieces
  • 1 small red onion-thinly sliced
  • 12 strips of bacon cooked crisp and chopped
  • 1 package of craisins or dried cranberries (6 oz.)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 package shredded cabbage mix (tri color and carrots)

  • Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl
  • Add dressing about an hour before serving-chill till ready to use

  • 2 cups Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
  • 4 TB. cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar

Cook's note:  you will have about 1/2 cup dressing extra-the salad should be moist but not drenched

Caprese Bruschetta with Basil, Pesto and Tomato
recipe adapted from restaurant Al Vento Minneapolis, MN
  • 1 loaf of bread French or Ciabatta cut into 1 inch pieces
  • homemade pesto or purchased pesto
  • roma tomatoes cut in small pieces and drained on a paper towel
  • mozzarella slices

  • On a cookie sheet @ 375 toast bread slices 5 minutes and then turn over and toast another 5 minutes
  • Turn oven up to 400
  • Spread each bread slice with pesto, top with chopped tomatoes and places cheese slice over tomatoes
  • Toast about 5 minutes but watch so doesn't brown too much, cheese should be starting to bubble when done
Homemade pesto
  • 4 cups loosely packed basil leaves chopped
  • 3/4  cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves halved
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup extra light olive oil
Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse till chopped
While processor running add olive oil in a thin stream
Blend well and refrigerate
Cook's notes: pine nuts are expensive substitute with almonds or walnuts and pesto keeps in refrigerator up to a week covered


Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Limoncello is an Italian liqueur mainly produced in southern Italy. Traditionally it is made from the zest of Femminello St. Teresa lemons also known as Sorrento lemons. It is served cold in chilled glasses after dinner. This liqueur has a kick with its taste and an alcohol content of 31-32%.
When I was on a trip to Italy one stop was the Island of Capri in southern Italy. It was there I stocked up on a few bottles to bring back as gifts. The cute little bottles caught my attention :) When I saw a recipe for an almond cake using limoncello I knew this was the recipe to try. Also I still had raspberry sauce left over from the peach melba dessert.
Since not everyone has a little bottle of limoncello in their cupboard I made some adaptations using lemon juice and powdered sugar. It tasted just as good!
 Almond Pound Cake with Limoncello
Cook's notes: The original recipe called for a whole can of almond paste which was way too much in flavor for the ingredients listed below.  Almond paste can be pricey so by using 1/2 can and putting rest in ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator there is enough to use for another time. It is a good addition to almond bread. 
Adding  flour to almond paste in Cuisinart helps keep the almond paste from sticking to blades.
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (extra light)
  • 5 TB. butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 can almond paste+ 1 TB. flour
  • 4TB. lemon zest
  • 4 large eggs 
  • 1/3 cup limoncello or 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Preheat oven to 325and grease a 9 inch springform pan
  • In a Cuisinart crumble 1/2 can almond paste and 1 TB. flour
  • In a mixing bowl beat sugar, oil, and butter till fluffy-then add in eggs one at a time
  • Beat in zest and crumbled almond paste
  • In a small bowl add flour, salt, and baking powder
  • Stir flour mixture into egg mixture to blend
  • Check cake at 40 minutes to see if toothpick comes out of center clean
  • Place cake on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes
  • Poke multiple holes in cake using  long wooden skewer
  • In small bowl whisk together limoncello or lemon juice and powdered sugar
  • Carefully spoon lemon mixture over cake to soak into holes-there will be extra juice left 
  • Cool completely 
Serving Suggestions:
Spoon raspberry sauce over cake or dust with powdered sugar and crumbled almonds 

Today is the birthday of Rebecca Kai Dotlich born July 10th 1951
She is a poet and picture book author. Some of her recent books include: Bella and Bean, Peanut and Pearl's Picnic Adventures and Castles: Old Stone Poems
I was drawn into the beginning of her book 
with her prose...

As the moon unwinds its silver thread
And sleepy children climb in bed,
Sweet dreams are stirring in the air
As wild ones sleep—
Do you know where? 

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...