Monday, December 18, 2017


Croquembouche is French, meaning, "crunch in the mouth".

Twenty years ago I catered functions where I designed menus with this as the spectacular

It is a very easy confection but does take time and planning.

(I have my Christmas Pavlova in the oven so I thought I would work on this post.  The Pavlova
will be the next post!)

First you make cream puffs out of pate a choux dough and let them dry out and set up. Pate a choux
is a French light pastry dough (oh, those French!) used to make eclairs, beignets, gougeres, churros,
cream puffs, Paris-Brest.....


In a small saucepan, place 1 cup water, 1 stick unsalted butter, 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar,
and 1/4 teaspoon table salt.  Bring to a boil.  Have measured out 1 cup all purpose flour and dump
that into the pan all at once and start stirring.  The mass will leave the sides of the pan and gather
into a ball.  A film will form on the bottom of the pan. (I used to always sieve my flour so there
would be no lumps)

Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl.  I usually let it rest for just a few minutes so it is not quite
so piping hot.  Have 4 large eggs at room temperature and add one at a time, beating on medium
speed and  allowing each egg to become fully incorporated before adding the next egg.

You are now ready to pipe or spoon the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  You can use
two spoons to drop the dough onto the baking sheet and then using your finger dipped in water or
egg, smooth the tops of the doughs.  Or you can neatly pipe the dough with a pastry bag and tip to create your puffs, again smoothing the tops.  Allow about 3 inches between the puffs.

Bake the puffs at 425 degrees F. for about 20-30 or 35 minutes.  The size of the puffs will determine
the length of baking time.  The puffs should be golden brown, nicely puffed and hollow.  I used to
always pick one puff out of the oven quickly and place it close to my ear.  If I heard it sizzle, I knew
the fat was still "cooking" so it would go back into the oven for a few more minutes.

The next step is to fill the cream puffs.  You can fill them with whipped cream, pastry cream,
chocolate mousse, lemon mousse......whatever you like.

Then you get to the caramel sugar!  Many recipes will state that it only takes 10-12 minutes to
bring your sugar to the caramel stage.  That can set you on the road to frustration!  You will
need at least 20, possibly more, minutes so do not despair.

Some recipes will call for only sugar and water.  I use sugar, water and light corn syrup.  I also
do not stir the mixture at all, after the initial stir to mix.  I do swirl the pan, however.  Most recipes
will call for brushing down the sides of the pan so the sugar does not crystalize.  I do not find this


In saucepan, place 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup light corn syrup and 2/3 cup water.  Stir to only mix the
ingredients and then put the spoon away and do not stir again.

Once the sugar has turned amber, plunge the pan into an ice cold water bath to stop the cooking
process.  Now you will have a dark syrup and you are ready to "glue" your cream puffs.

Using a cake round or a plate, dip the cream puffs and place in a circle and then build on that
to create a cone-like pyramid.  The caramel will keep each cream puff in place once it has been
dipped and placed.

For fun, you can add raspberries, strawberries, etc. to your pyramid.  You can also drizzle chocolate
over the cream puffs prior to dipping in caramel.

Then for the most fun ever, use a fork and swirl the caramel around your croquembouche, creating spun sugar.  This is absolutely gorgeous and is the great finale!

I do hope you will try this and let me know how it turns out.  This is a great dessert for the Christmas

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Cake Roll, Swiss Roll, Jelly Roll

This one is for you, Megan❤️

In Europe they call it Swiss Roll.  Americans tend to call it Cake Roll.  The French call it roulade. And then there is the "cousin", the lovely sponge rolled with a jelly filling.

The cake roll (or Swiss if you prefer), is the basis for the classic French Christmas Dessert,
Buche de Noel.  Pumpkin Rolls are now included in most Thanksgiving menus.

In truth, you can bake any flavor and fill with a myriad of fillings.

One of our most popular was a classic light, airy spongelike cake filled with our own lemon curd.
This was truly to die for!

There are a few key points that will make this a 'piece of cake' rather than a disaster waiting to happen!

1.  Make sure the eggs are at room temperature.  Eggs with no refridgerator chill will beat up
much better.

2.  Spray a jelly roll pan.  Line with parchment and spray again.

3.  After mixing cake batter, pour evenly into prepared pan.  Knock the pan a few times to
release  bubbles in the batter.

4.    Do NOT overbake.  Press finger lightly into cake to make small indent.  It will spring right
back  if properly baked.  Remove from oven immediately.  Remember, foods continue to cook
even though heat source is removed.
5.  Do not attempt to bake a box cake for a cake roll.

6.  Lay a linen tea towel on counter and sprinkle liberally all over with 10-x sugar.

7.  Remove cake from oven and let rest 3 minutes.  Run a knife around edges to loosen.
Flip cake onto prepared tea towel.  Remove parchment from cake.  Beginning at short end,
start to roll cake.  Set aside while you prepare the filling.

8.   Unroll tea towel.  Spread desired filling on cake, leaving a border at ends.  Re-roll the
cake and proceed to frost or decorate.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Everything is just Peachy!

I had lunch today with a friend of many years and she mentioned to me that I was remiss in my blog postings....that she enjoyed them so much, she re-read them!  What a kind and wonderful thing to say!

As some of you may know (who follow me on Facebook) this has been a busy busy time, both with family events and produce events!!!!

With family, we had a delightful visit in Spring Lake, New Jersey with our daughter Barbara's lovely in-laws, Diane and Steve; we had a wonderful celebration of the B O B's birthday, followed by our granddaughter Katie's seventh birthday, our Tina's graduation from Nursing School (a major, major accomplishment!!), my Mother's 90th Birthday, and our youngest grandchild's fourth birthday (sweet Baby James!).  It was a wonderful summer with all the family gatherings!

With produce from our local farmers, it has been a mad dash to acquire all the Summer Rambo apples to make the much-beloved applesauce for the family.    I also garner all the peppers (3/$2.00) I can so I can roast them and freeze them for the winter antipasti, plus the wonderful eggplant, which I fry and freeze for Eggplant Parmesan, to be used all winter, in a snap!!!!

And then there are the magnificent peaches!!!!!  Is there anything more wonderful than a fresh,
juicy, ripe peach!?????

I have been making peach cobblers, peach breads, peach pies!!!!!

The Peach Bread was posted in August of 2012 if you would like the recipe.

I don't think I posted the Peach Cobbler so here is that recipe:


1 stick (4 oz.) sweet butter, melted
1 cups plus 3 T. granulated sugar, divided
1 cup all purpose flour (low protein)
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 cup milk
1 t. vanilla
3-4 ripe large peaches, peeled, pitted, thinly sliced
1/2 t. cinnamon


Heat oven to 375*.

Pour melted butter into a 2 quart baking dish (11 x 7 or 8 inch square).  In a mixing
bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder and salt; stir to blend.
Stir in the milk and vanilla until blended.  Pour the batter over the melted butter.
Toss the peaches with the remaining 3 T. sugar and 1/2 t. of cinnamon.  Arrange the
peach slices over the batter (careful not to stir).  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until
a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  The top will be browned and the
cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Serve warm with a little heavy cream
or a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.   Serves 6.   Yum!!!

Hope you have an opportunity to prepare this easy, wonderful tasting dish!!!!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Acts of Kindness

Today someone performed a most extraordinary act of kindness to me.

I was totally surprised, touched and very grateful.

Most of us never realize to the extent that what we may say or do could (and does) impact
others in many ways.

Just a random smile could lighten the burden of someone who is having a really bad day.

From now on, I am going to make a concerted effort to carry through with any thoughts I
have of doing something nice for someone, sending a card to cheer someone up, or perhaps
taking the time to visit with someone, rather than meaning to but not doing so.

I know how appreciative I am of being on the receiving end so I am certainly going to
"Pay It Forward" from now on.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Panzanella, a Classic Summer Salad

Our local Farmer's Markets are in full swing now!
The Corn is so sweet, the tomatoes bursting with flavor, and in another week we will have
delightful cling-free peaches!  (nothing better than a juicy fresh peach!)

I am having school chums and their spouses to dinner next week and was giving our menu
some thought.

One of my favorite summer salads is Panzanella, a Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad.  It
originated as a way to use up stale bread with the tomatoes.  However, you can add cucumbers,
peppers, onion, even mozzarella!

I use ciabatta bread and cut it into large cubes and then toast it in a 375* oven for about
20 minutes, til crisp and firm.  (this will prevent it from getting totally mushy when mixed
with the tomatoes, their juices and the vinaigrette)

Panzanella Salad

2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
2 t. kosher salt
6 c.  bread cubes, toasted and cooled
1/2 red onion, cut into chunks
1 c. cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (optional)
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into chunks (optional)
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded, cut into chunks (optional)
5-6 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size chunks (optional)
fresh basil leaves

(You can also use grape tomatoes, or a combination)

            Vinaigrette (My Addiction!)

             1 c. fresh parsley, chopped
             10 large fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
             3 garlic cloves, crushed
             1/4 c. good quality red wine vinegar
              3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
             salt and pepper to taste
             drizzle of honey if too acidic

Salt the tomatoes in a bowl and let rest to create juice.  In bowl, put all other ingredients and
then add tomatoes, tomato juices and vinaigrette, tossing well.  Allow to rest about 45 minutes
before serving, tossing again to distribute juices.

I hope you have an opportunity to prepare and enjoy this wonderful salad (almost a

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Into the Middle of Summer!

It has been quite a while since my last post........I have been having such a good time!

Entertaining Friends for Luncheons and Dinners, spending time with the Grands, a lovely
visit to Spring Lake, New Jersey with #2 Daughter and Family and Lovely In-Laws, planning
many near-future Family Events.....just delightful!

Just recently we had Beer and Burgers with Friends.  Our Menu was Burgers with Brioche Buns,
Lettuce, Sliced Farmers Market Tomatoes, Sliced Onions, My Potato Salad, My Deviled Eggs, White
Farmers Market Corn on Cob, Grilled Zucchini, Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler (see previous post for

Last night we entertained a childhood friend and her husband who are in the process of moving to
a newly constructed home and we had Red and Yellow Tomatoes with Fresh Mozzarella, Fresh Basil. Drizzle of Olive Oil and Splash of Kosher Salt, White Farmers Market Corn on Cob, Grilled Italian
Sausage with Peppers and Onions, Cheese Ravioli with My Parsley Basil Vinaigrette with Grilled
Asparagus, and Cherry Pie.

 The Cherry Pie!!!! It was to die for!  (I had two slices!!!!)

Here is the recipe:

Pie Crust Dough:  (from Ina Garten.....the very best)
12 T. very cold unsalted butter - grate or dice and chill or freeze
3 C. all-purpose flour
1 t. kosher salt
1 T. sugar
1/3 c. very cold vegetable shortening (I measure it and put in freezer til ready to assemble)
6-8 T. (about 1/2 c.) ice water

Mix the flour, salt and sugar and put into processor and mix til blended.  Then add the shortening
and butter and process 8-12 times, til butter is the size of peas.  With the machine running pour
the ice water into the feed tube and pulse the machine til the dough begins to form a ball.  Dump
onto a floured ball and roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

I find this dough actually yields 3.  I just freeze the third and am that far ahead of the game for
the next go-round.

I hate to state the obvious,  but you do know to roll from the center out and just turn the dough,
right?  You don't beat the dough to death and keep rolling all over the place.  The more you
handle dough, the tougher it will become. Center out, center out....move dough, center out....
sort of a mantra!

A fun lattice approach is to create your round and then put it onto parchment.  Place the parchment
into the freezer for just a few minutes.  Then, with your ruler and roller, mark off your strips.
Again, into the freezer for just a few minutes.  It is amazing how easy it becomes to create the
lattice!  Just takes a few moments and with such ease!  Back into the freezer and you have the
perfect lattice!  Invert onto your pie filling and then crimp your edges!

Cherry Pie Filling:

Balaton Cherries (from Farmers Market, season is a two week period!!!), 1 quart, pitted (4 c.)
1/8 t. table salt
1 cup sugar
4 T. Quick-Cooking Tapioca
1 t.  Mexican Vanilla
1-1/2 T. unsalted Butter

Preheat oven to 425*.  Place bottom crust in pie pan and brush with egg white (creates barrier to help prevent soggy crust with fruit pies).  Place in fridge to keep cold.

Mix Cherries and let rest for 15 minutes while you roll top crust or lattice.

Spoon Cherry filling into pie pan.  Top with Crust or Lattice.  Brush with Egg White.  Sprinkle with
Baker's Sugar. Place pie pan on baking sheet to catch and drips.
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.  Turn oven down to 350* and bake additional 45-50 minutes.  Filling should be bubbling over and crust should be golden brown.

Baker's Tip:  Glass Pie Pans bake the best pies!!!!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Spring into Summer!

This  has been a most enjoyable Spring!

Having our beautiful Family all together for the Easter Holiday was a wonderful start!

Two weeks after Easter I flew to Florida for five days to visit a gal pal and that was delightful!  The Gulf is gorgeous and they have a boat so I had the immense pleasure of sailing in Sarasota Bay!

Two weeks later I was in New York with the Grands, having a ball!
While in New York I took a Croissant class at Sur la Table (gift from Barby and Sean) and it was such fun!! I will post regarding that in the near future.

Now Memorial Day is here and the start of Summer!!

My daughter, Katie, recently said, "Mom, can you give me some quick meals...I need some new

Summer is the very best time to keep it clean and lean!

Tonight we are having Gulf Garlic Shrimp over Rice with Steamed Fresh Green Beans.  Total time?
28 minutes!

I prefer Gulf Shrimp and wait til they go on sale.  These 16/20 shrimp were purchased yesterday at
A cost of $14.99/lb.  I only bought twelve of them.  (6 for each of us is plenty!)  After peeling and deveining the shrimp, I place them in a baking dish with  2 tablespoons of melted butter and healthy drizzles of olive oil.  I throw in 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves, dash of salt and pepper and sprinkles of Spanish Paprika plus a shake of red pepper.  Into a 425 degree oven for just  enough time for the shrimp to turn opaque.

Meanwhile I sauteed the rice in a tad of butter, turned it to simmer and steamed the green beans and, voila, a tasty dinner in just a few minutes.

(Yes, it is white rice and I know, I know, not good BUT every once in a while, we indulge.)

Katie  is fortunate in that her sweet James has a very educated palate at not even four years!

More quick menus to come.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mother's Day Reflections

Tomorrow is Mother's Day.

To women with children, this is a very important day.

Nearing my 7th decade, I suppose one would say I am "old school".

You know what I mean.....respectful, being courteous, diligent work ethic, yada yada.....

As a woman who is one of the very few in my circle who still has a parent living Mother.....
I feel dutie-bound to provide my Mother with whatever she needs.  At times, I experience extreme
frustration.  She is sharp as a tack and remembers every little thing that ever happened to me!  That said, she also will say one thing and then when I attempt to accommodate her, she will say something
As she is approaching her 90th year, I cannot help but feel that our days with her are surely "numbered".
However, since her health is wonderful, she just may outlive all of us!!

Nonetheless, I have moments of reflection when I think back how I thought my Mother knew everything, was the most wonderful woman and could do anything. As an adult now, I see that not all of that is true.  However, rather than being disappointed in her.....I continue to value her and remember all those times she was there for me.

This brings me to Motherhood in general in my thoughts.

We Mothers spend so much of our lives in Guilt and Fear.

We constantly worry and stress from the moment we are aware of that wonder growing within us.
We worry that the Baby will be "all right".  We worry about their safety.  We worry about their
health.  This continues into their adulthood and does not abate.  (My own girls accuse me of being
a "helicopter" Mother even at their middle age!)

Then there is the Guilt.  Every Mother on this planet has made mistakes.  Almost all Mothers are
well-intentioned but many  have made mis-steps or perhaps a lapse in judgment.  Then when their children have problems, most Mothers shoulder that burden as their own personal fault.  (It can be
such a  "no win situation"!)

Speaking personally as a Mother, there is nothing greater in this life.  When you have an extension of yourself is awe-inspiring!  (despite my many mistakes!) When I look at my three daughters who are each beautiful, brilliant, caring, loving, dedicated women!  When I look at them with their Children and see what wonderful Mothers they are!  Oh my, and then the grandchildren!  Talk about a Life Complete!

I am sure most in my circle of Friends and Acquaintances feel the same!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Spring Planting!

It is finally, officially SPRING!
We all thought it would never arrive!
Now that it is here, we are scampering to collect all the flowers and herbs we can get our hands
Usually in this area, we wait until Mother's Day to plant our precious gems.
However, since we seem not in danger of frost, I am heading out tomorrow to the nursery so
I can "transform" our courtyard.
When we purchased this home, the former owner never attended to the courtyard.
It looked like this:

Pretty dismal, right?  I set about finding hardscape companies to rework this area.
Our former home had a huge deck, under roof with skylights, with an adjacent  open deck with an
arbor of wisteria......oh, I loved that space!  Bob had cable television out there for me and I would
enjoy and savor every moment I could spend there!

This courtyard was somewhat daunting!!

I interviewed five various companies.

Some of the companies suggested stamped concrete. I found that cold and boring.
Some suggested tek decking. That proved cost prohibitive and would not work with our existing
exhaust systems with the water heater, furnace, etc. which, unfortunately, vent out onto the courtyard!
Others suggested pavers.  Boring!!!
I chose Details Landscape in Hummelstown, PA.
The owners' son, Michael, dealt with me and he was so accommodating.  He re-purposed the existing
bricks, supplementing what was needed after flower (weed) beds were removed and created steps (where we had rotted wood not in anyone's code enforcement!)
with more bricks and rustic stones.  He really worked magic in that courtyard!
I was able to utilize some of our deck furniture.  I had purchased the Victoria set from Martha Stewart at KMart (remember when she hooked up with them?) and had everything.....the table, 5 chairs,
the umbrella, the chaise lounge, two rockers, the sofa, the glass coffee table.....all with cushions in
a taupe design.
Since the courtyard space is smaller than our previous decks, I gave a childhood friend of one of my daughter's (Hi, Megan!) the chaise and the rockers.
Michael was so very diligent.  I enjoyed watching his process.
Weather intervened and also a trip to Europe was in the offing (mine!!)  so the process took much longer than originally anticipated.  Michael was unflappable....always calm!  It was near October
that we finally were completed!
Here is the transformation:

Many years ago, my oldest daughter, Christina, gave me a strawberry pot she had filled with
fresh herbs for Mother's Day .....such a wonderful, creative idea!
I tried to replicate that last year and had some success. (yay!)
This year I am going to attempt to grow wisteria in a pot!  (don't tell Bob!  He always thought
the wisteria was the most invasive thing he ever encountered!)  I am hoping to have it entwine
itself on our privacy fence....although I don't know if that is in accordance with HOA rules.
Surely the next post will be about my great finds at the nursery!!!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Update on Black Bean Cakes!

The whole family will be together for Easter, 2017 and I am so very excited!
It has been a few years since we have been able to accomplish this.  One recent year there
were work conflicts and two years ago our son-in-law had two heart attacks!!! So, this year
will be such a blessing!

I am preparing foods and sauces for the upcoming holiday and  I am freezing what I can so I can
enjoy my precious angels while they are here (and not be in the kitchen the whole time!).

One of our girls is sort-of, kind-of-like, vegetarian!  (just don't let her near a BLT!)  I had devised
a Black Bean Burger for this daughter,  and did post it on my blog (see Archives, May 20, 2014).  However, I need to update the recipe and my method.

In my previous post, I had listed 1/2 c. romano as an ingredient.

One ingredient change was an asiago blend in lieu of the romano  that I used to get at Garden Gourmet on Broadway in New York City.  Since I am now in Harrisburg, I cannot readily obtain that wonderful cheese.  It was a blend of parmesan, romano and asiago......yum.

Now I put in  whatever I can get!  Any hard cheese, along those lines, will be fine. But if you can get
some asiago, grate it and mix it with some parmesan or romano and it will be wonderful!

Also, I was preparing a quinoa blend that was really wonderful by Earthly Choice.  Again, that is
not readily available to me so I have just been using red and white quinoa.....which is just fine.

And, lastly, I used to cook all the bean cakes and then freeze them.  Now I have been preparing the mixture, letting it rest in the fridge to marry the flavors, and then forming the cakes and layering
them between parchment and freezing them.

It is such a delight to pull one or more out, when in the mood,  and saute with butter and olive oil til nice and crisp and enjoy,  seemingly with no preparation!

I do hope you will try these and, if so, please let me know how you enjoy them!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Two of My Most Valued Kitchen Items

What is the most important utensil or gadget in your kitchen?
Perhaps your costly mixer?  Are you fortunate enough to have a robot coupe?

I have knives that cost $80.00 plus, each.

My boards are the best that money can buy.

But what do I value and use most?

Bet you didn't see that coming!

The masking tape was $1.00 from the Dollar Store.  The marker also $1.00 at the Dollar Store.

I don't set foot into my kitchen that I am not using these two items.

When I return from the food stores and market and am putting foods into the fridge, I mark everything.   I give myself "use by" dates.  That way there is no question as to when the item was purchased.

Some foods I buy do have dates on and some do not.  And then there is the "use by" until  you open
stamp on some foods and, well, that is for a future posting.  (I remember when a food item had a date
far into the future but it was now opened and this person thought it would still be good for months, til that use by date!)

When I am preparing something and plan to freeze a portion of it, out comes the masking tape and
marker so it can go into the freezer with no questions as to content and date. Everything in my fridge
is dated.  So are my self items.  Whenever I open anything, I put masking tape on it with the date!

When we were catering we had food service labels on which we would write all of this information.
However, they were so very sticky that they would not come off the container!  We would end up
soaking, scraping, so much work and usually leftover sticky residue!  Masking tape is a breeze, costs little and comes right off!

I also use the masking tape to seal my salad greens if I am keeping them in their original bag. (Also, my bags of barley, lentils, beans in their original bags. )  I just express all the air and fold and tuck the bag and put a strip of masking tape on so it will be tight.  Works like a charm and my greens are good for several days.

Sometimes the old fashioned, basic way really can get the job done best!

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Very BEST (and easiest) Lemon Curd!

Many years ago, perhaps in the late 1970's or early 1980's, we would have Princess House Parties.
Princess House sold crystal and bone china.  You would be a hostess, inviting friends and neighbors
into your home and the representative would put on a display.  You would then feed your guests,
usually coffee and pastries, and they would place orders.

When I was hosting one of these Princess House Parties, I wanted to make petite tarts filled with
lemon.  I believe this recipe was from an old Gourmet magazine, but I can't be positive.  The very
interesting fact with this recipe is that it has no butter.  Yes, you read butter.  So,
when you glance over the ingredients, rest assured that I did not omit anything.  Almost all recipes
for lemon curd call for butter, but not this one.

The absolute success for this is the quality of the lemons.  Nice large and very juicy lemons will
yield the loveliest, tartest lemon curd.

When zesting the lemons (or oranges), I prefer the zester tool.  The microplane does not work as well,
in that you don't have total control and may incorporate pith into your zest.

Since I plan to prepare meringues "nests" for Easter, having four egg whites remaining to freeze is perfect.

The Very BEST (and easiest) Lemon Curd

4 egg yolks
6 whole eggs
Beat eggs well and set aside.

zest of 4 large lemons
2 c. granulated sugar
Place in processor and process for 2 minutes

Juice the zested lemons.  The yield should be about 1-1/3 c. juice.  Add the juice to the eggs and
beat well.
Place a pot filled partially with water on stove to boil.
Place metal bowl with egg and sugar mixture that will fit over pot without touching the water.
Reduce the heat to medium.

Whisk constantly til mixture gets very frothy.
Continue whisking til mixture becomes thick.
The classic test is to make sure the curd coats the back of a spoon.
Strain the curd into another bowl, discarding anything remaining in the strainer.

Cool to room temperature.

The curd can be covered and kept in fridge or frozen for future use.

Oranges and limes can also be used to make curd.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A "Lucy" Moment?

The remodeling was completed Friday.
 Saturday I went to the paint store and bought stain for the
steps.  I was so excited!  I put the stain on one step to  test it and was so thrilled that it almost matched the hardwood flooring!
I was so very pleased that I started to stain all the steps, leaving one or two in between so I could
have access to go up.

The new sleeper sofa was going to be delivered early (as in 6:45 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.!) Monday morning and I was so happy everything was clicking right along.
Sunday I woke and asked Bob how the steps looked this morning and were they dry.  He mumbled
that they looked fine and he assumed they were dry.......a clear indication that he had not checked
them out at all!
I ran downstairs to see my "masterpiece" - and was so dismayed!  The steps were soaking wet!
How in the world were men going to troop in here with new furniture?
Bob was incredulous that the stain had not dried overnight.  He mentioned that today most paints, etc.
dry in one hour!
This was something I really could not deal with just now.  I had to get to Mass and then get to my
Mother and brother for Sunday Lunch.  I checked the can of stain.....which read, to wipe immediately after brushing on stain for a light color and to wait five minutes for a desired darker color before wiping off.
Ooooops!  Ok, so maybe I didn't quite think this through in my excitement.  (I did not wipe.)
I told Bob I would wipe down the steps as soon as I returned.
It is in moments like these that Bob tells me I should have red hair.  I think he is going to start calling
himself Ricky.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Childhood Friends

Today I had a reunion with three gals (and brother of one) from our old City neighborhood.  We all
moved there in 1950, 1952 and 1954.
We are each now approaching our 69th year.
We have drifted in and out of each others' lives over these many years.  Some have had health
issues which were overcome.  All are still married to their original spouse. (this was noted as
being something of an achievement!)  All are now retired from careers and owning businesses.
It was mentioned that it had been twelve years since we had all been together last.

I was overcome by so many memories.

Ruthie had an older sister, Delores, who was in a high school sorority and was always going to proms and dances.  We would sit on the front porch and watch across the street as Delores would come out in yet another beautiful gown.  She was about six years older than us and we viewed her as a movie star!

Susie was the tomboy, always ready for an adventure and always with a big smile on her face.  To
this day she still has that big smile on her face.

Cathy had the big house her father had designed at the beginning of Bellvue Park.  In those days Bellvue Park was a beautiful area with stately homes.  Her father was an architect and had been working on a carriage house for a client.  The client decided to do something else so her father
bought the house for himself.  He was so very ahead of his time with his designs.  I had so many
good times in that house.  When her father re-designed Cathy's bedroom when she approached her
teen years, he designed open shelving, baskets instead of drawers, no furniture.  I thought it the
most innovative and sophisticated!  When we made a bedroom in our basement for our daughter,
Barbara, I replicated that same idea with the open closet and no furniture!

It was with such ease we slipped in and out of topics in our conversation during though all those years had not passed.

And I was struck by how similar we all are.  Some have children, some do not.  I am the only one
with a parent still living.  Yet we all still have the same values, appreciations and expectations as
we did back in the '50's.  We are very much of the same mind.

As I was leaving our delightful luncheon, I was struck by this sameness in our thinking of religion,
politics, the state of the world.  While it gave me a feeling of comfort in my nostalgia, it also made
me think of the next generation.  Will they also be of the same mind in another twenty, thirty years?

When people reflect on the '50's (and most often with a sense of pining for those easier times),
we truly were a different breed.  Today everything is instantaneous.  Technology has overtaken our

But we were the lucky ones.  We knew what life was like before smart phones, iphones, ipads, etc.
We played jacks, jumped rope, climbed trees and made our own fun.  We would be gone from morning til dinner time playing with our friends and our parents needed never to worry.

I left our luncheon with a sense of unification with my friends, even after all these years.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Making the Easter Pies

Today was Easter Pie Day!

As I mentioned in a previous posting, I usually have my granddaughter, Madeleine, with me but
it was not looking promising this year with her classes and work schedule.  Since the families
from New York are coming, I didn't think I would be able to make these and also be out and about
with them, so I am going to freeze these pies and hope for the best!

We will have these Easter Sunday before, during and after our Easter Dinner!  Then each family
will also have a pie to take to their own homes.

Yesterday and last night I made the dough, diced the mozzarella, pepperoni, ham, cooked the
sausage and hard-boiled the eggs.

Today was rolling the dough, combining the filling, lining the pans, filling them, topping them with another crust  and baking them off.

Here is the recipe for our Easter Pie:  this makes 4-5 pies, depending on how full you fill them

*make in mixer, NOT in processor
6 cups all purpose flour
1 t. salt
1-1/2 c. Crisco (not flavored)
6 eggs, well beaten
4-5 T. cold water to make soft dough

Put flour and salt in mixing bowl and stir.  Add Crisco and mix til blended.  Add half the beaten
eggs and mix.  Add remaining eggs and the water.  The dough should be soft and pliable.  Wrap
in saran and chill.

Roll dough thin and line pie pans.  Brush bottoms with beaten egg white.  Chill.


2 lb. ricotta cheese
8 raw eggs, well beaten
12 hard cooked eggs
1-2 lbs. ground sausage, cooked and drained and cooled (I use 2 lbs. as my family likes a lot of sausage)
2-1/2 lbs. cooked ham, small dice
1/2  lb. mozzarella, small dice
1/2 lb. pepperoni (remove casing and dice)
1 c. fresh parmesan, finely grated
fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Mix well and divide among pie plates.  Each pie will probably take about 4 cups filling.  Roll dough
thin and top each pie.  Brush with egg yolk with dash salt.  Make slits for vents in top crust.  Bake
at 375* about one hour.  Pies should be golden brown.
2017 costs:  about $12.00 per pie

Bottom left pie has an S on top to indicate pie with no hard cooked eggs for son-in-law, Sean.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Dottie's Little Black Book

Growing up, I lived in the City on 20th Street.  The family next door was from the coal regions
with six children.  The father was a state police officer and the mother was a marvel - cooking,
baking, making clothes for her children and helping all the elderly in the neighborhood.  Her name
was Dottie Lonardi.
In those days, neighbors knew each other by name, were in and out of each other's homes and all
looked out for each other.  If an elderly neighbor needed a ride to a doctor, no problem.  If someone
baked cookies, there was a plate set out for the children to sample.  When our neighbor on the other
side, a widow by the name of Mrs. Frain, procured a television set in the early 1950's, I used to go
over to her house every day to watch 'Howdy Doody'.
My Mother was a great cook.  However, she did very little baking.  Dottie, on the other hand, would
start baking her Christmas Cookies in early December.  I remember being in absolute awe at the many tins of different cookies that were stacked, seemingly, up to the ceiling.  My very favorite
cookies were the Meringue Kisses.  Dottie always chuckled over this as she used to refer to them as
her "leftover cookies", utilizing the leftover egg whites and nuts.
If Dottie sewed dresses for her daughters, she made one for me as well.  If she sewed pajamas for her
girls, I would also get a pair.  When her husband, Carlo, lined his daughters up for a trim of their
bangs, I was included in the queue.
We moved out to the suburbs when I was eleven and were not in much contact with this wonderful
family.  Living in a single home was a major adjustment for us.  People seemed more reserved.  You
could go for days without even seeing some of the neighbors.  We did get to know the neighbors close by on the street but not much beyond.
Many years later when I was newly married, I decided I wanted to learn to really sew.....not just that
awful apron in Home Economics class!  I bought a Singer Fashion Mate portable sewing machine from a friend's mother (my own Mother went halves with me as I promised to do all her repairs!).
I then called Dottie and asked her if she would teach me to sew.  She happily obliged, telling me
what to purchase and setting a date.
I went to her house in the morning and she took me through a quick sewing course from ironing the
to how to hem.  (I had chosen a jumpsuit pattern).  When we ended for the day, she handed
me a cassarole to throw in my oven when I got home so I would have a nice dinner!
About fifteen years later I opened my catering business and was able to cater rehearsal dinners for
this family.
When I was in their home I was asking Dottie for the recipe for the beloved Meringue Kisses and
she reached for her "little black book".  It was a very small looseleaf filled with her cookie, cake,
pie, stews, roasts, and pasta recipes which were written in her own hand.  That is when I got the
idea to re-create Dottie's Little Black Book.
I asked her if I could borrow her book to copy it, promising that I would take great care with it.
In those days, one did not have a personal printer.  I had to go to the convenience store where one
copy cost ten cents.  Since she had six children (I figured I would copy for each of them so
they could have their Mother's recipes as well), I needed seven copies of each page.

I am currently re-organizing recipes from home, catering, our pastry shop and, Dottie's Little
Black Book (which is bringing back such fond memories) with the hopes of including these in
a soon to be written book.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Remodeling Glitches

Since we always had planned to use the carpeting removed from the first floor, when we had switched to hardwood flooring,  I had proceeded to obtain three estimates for the padding and installation.  It was during this time that I learned about alternate flooring for sub-grade areas (LVP). However, after researching the luxury vinyl planks, we decided it was much too expensive for this project.

Then the Bob came up with a thrifty idea.....utilize both the carpeting  and the leftover hardwood flooring from the first floor.   This seemed an economical solution to a rather costly venture.

I had already received three estimates for installing our carpeting and had decided to go with the one
who had seemed to provide the most information and with the most reasonable cost.  I gave the
estimator the measurements of the area where we now wanted the hardwood.  He came back with a price that knocked me off my chair.  His numbers seemed very high for a small space.

So the Bob and our contractor both re-measured the area.  I then had the estimator return to our home
to re-measure.  Again, the estimator's numbers were high.....higher than our measurements and none
of us could figure that out.  A room is a room - isn't it? Or, as they say - it is what it is.  (so how can the numbers vary so much?)

Since we were scheduled for installation, I decided to have the installer re-measure and we would go
with his numbers.  Which is what I did.  And, he came up with numbers also different from the estimator - and us!!!

There was a problem with the carpeting.  When the men unrolled the two pieces of carpeting, there were marks on the one and the head installer was worried there actually would not be enough carpet.
They turned the pieces around, cut out the part with the marks and pieced the two together to do the larger part of the room.  However, now they would not have enough carpeting to do our stairs and landing.

The installer was also concerned there would not be enough hardwood.  However, that turned out to
be a false notion as, not only was there enough hardwood to cover the small area, there was also enough to do the landing as well.  Since we did not have something called a stair nose, he could not
proceed with the landing.

The men had cut the hardwood in our courtyard and there was a big pile of sawdust on a snow mound plus all over the bricks.  The one man swept a little,  which actually spread the sawdust into the areas that lead to the garage.  What a mess.

I told the head installer to please confer with the estimator since they did not install carpeting and padding on the stairs and landing, which I assumed would be reflected in our balance due.

I also noticed exactly where the seam in the carpeting was and mentioned that to the installers.  They assured me that the carpet was tight just then and would relax and the seam would not be noticeable.

A short time later,  the estimator called me.  He was outraged that I assumed there would be a decrease in price since the stairs and landing had not been done.  He explained that the installers had to seam my
carpeting and it caused them more work and it was not their fault the carpet had marks and could not
be used for the stairs.  He told me that with carpeting, once the installer touches anything, we are charged.   I was appalled that he was raising his voice to me and also did not understand why I would be charged for work not completed.  (if this is the way of the carpet industry, I would need to be educated as I had no idea they charge for installation ultimately, for whatever reason, not done)

I ended the conversation and went to tell my husband what had occurred.  He offered to call the estimator and I gave him my blessing as I did not want to deal with someone who had become, in my
opinion, so unprofessional.

My husband told the man to come up with an equitable price as he wanted to be fair but he did not expect to pay for padding for the stairs and landing  which the installers had taken with them, nor did he expect to pay for installation that had not occurred.  The estimator said he would re-figure and call the next day.

There was much debris on the hardwood floor area so I used a soft micro-fiber mop to clean the floor.
Then I saw the gouge!  Right in the middle of the doorway on the transition piece was a large gash.
As I bent down to see this closer, I also noticed one of the planks under a cabinet was "popped" up.

Also, the entire brand new and freshly painted baseboards had a knife mark all the way around the room.....picture a car that had been keyed.  In the center of the one wall of baseboard was a large gouge (what is with these gouges?) and had to be about 1/2 inch deep.

Fast forward to the next morning when the contractor arrived and went downstairs. To say he was displeased to see his pristine work damaged would be an understatement.

When we, as consumers, hire for services to be performed in our home, we are really taking quite a chance.  We are depending on these individuals to be honest, competent - "experts" in their fields.
I have no knowledge whatsoever regarding flooring, carpeting, installation, etc.  That is the exact
reason I was hiring someone to accomplish this!

It took several hours for the contractor's assistant to repair the damage these installers caused on the baseboards.

The estimator called and left a message as to the new balance due him and, again, his numbers do not add up!  (we are still being charged for some installation not done)   However, I am writing a check just so I can be done with this outfit.

I will have to figure out what to do about the popped plank and the gouge in the transition piece as I do not want that company anywhere near my house ever again.

I thought I had done my homework on this phase of the project:  obtaining three different estimates, rather than just one, and  entering into an agreement with a well established company.  My son-in-law told me I should have opted out earlier when I had mis-givings over the measurements......and I do
believe he was right!!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

SNOWBOUND reflections

I just love snow days!  I savor the slow-down olive oil cake  is baking in oven permeating the house with the most delightful aromas!......about to prepare chicken matzo ball soup
with my wonderful homemade chicken stock.......and, finally, homemade bread---which is taking
12 hours to rise!!!

I cannot open my front door~snow is piled against it.  Our courtyard is a "wind -blown fortress" of

The BOB is taking a nap therefore I am left to my own devices.....

The entire time of the many years that I was catering, I never had a snow day.

I could not "assume" that anyone would cancel an event due to inclement weather.  Therefore, I always had to proceed with the thought that the event was a "go".

I trudged through more snow and slush and ice to obtain ingredients and then to my shop to prepare
said was at times a monumental effort.  I am sure that is why I enjoy "snow days"
to the nth degree now!!!

For a few days, I do not mind being "housebound".....usually it is only one day, however.

And in these wondrous moments of intense pleasure of "staying put" mind does wander to recent in, going to several stores and paying for my purchases and not being told, "
Thank You".

Typically, the clerk is a young woman, probably still in her teens.  She hands me the receipt and says nothing.  I usually look her in the eye and say, "You are welcome!" which some may reply, quite flustered, "oh, thank you".....whatever happened to the New YOrk, "thank you and have a nice day"??

I do not blame the young clerk at all.  I do blame my peers and those slightly younger.  It is our job to
teach the younger generations.  If I encounter a clerk with no decorum, no professionalism, then that is our fault.

It has happened so very many times of late that I really think this must be addressed.

Another thought.......

every store I enter has music blaring from a PA system.  When was it deemed that music (or any noise) should blare throughout the stores?    It does not matter what store you enter, Home Goods, Pier I, Joanne's Fabrics, etc.   I have discussed this with Giant store employees and they tell me they cannot stand the noise and must make every effort to block it.  When mentioning same to the Giant managers, they say that studies show the blaring of noise will increase afternoon productivity of employees.  Therefore, I assume that Giant stores (along with many other businesses, apparently)  value possible increased productivity (which appears very sketchy) to the comfort and dignity of their customers. (and, actually, their employees when you get down to it).

All I know is that I cannot wait to get out of the grocery store (typically Giant) to get away from the noise!!!  And many times, do not get everything I went into the store to purchase!

BOB is, once again, shoveling the courtyard (note to self:  next time buy integrated garage!) and I am sampling the soup......absolutely to die for!

The contracted snow removal service is now out shoveling....their snow plows seem to have a problem....too much snow for their equipment.

I am heading back to finish Longmire on Netflex.....I am a bit when you finish a novel that has you enraptured.....I have invested in Walt and Cady and Henry Standing Bear.....I don't want to leave them!  (Thank you Cindy Freed!)

I am on my third "sampling" of the Chicken Matzo Ball Soup.....delish!!!!!

Tomorrow we will all, most likely, be back to our own versions of "normal".  Hopefully, we can all
take with us a sense of peace, a sense of "doing what is right", a courteous manner.....  here's hoping!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

CPR class

Today I attended a CPR class at St. Catherine Laboure School.  It was provided by Holy Spirit and
American Heart Association, in conjunction with St. Catherine's.

When I told the BOB I had signed up for this class, he said, "all you need to know is 'Staying' Alive'.
He told me you compress to the beat..... and, as I attempted to do so, he said, "Well, you have to KEEP the beat!  Or the person will die!"

There were seven attendees total today and the instructor was from Holy Spirit Hospital.  She was
very pleasant and did a wonderful job instructing us.

We learned to do CPR for adults, along with AED (defibrillator) plus CPR and AED for children, and CPR for infants.  We also learned CHOKING for all.  Below is my little peanut.

When I was in New York City caring for little Katie and Mia, I had researched these classes.  In Harrisburg, they were provided by fire companies at a $50=60 cost.  However, they were never on
a day or evening I was in Harrisburg!  I checked into classes in New York City (they were quite costly!) but could never schedule one for an evening that would work for me!  Therefore, I never took a class, much to my regret!

I would so highly recommend taking this course!

I have a 90 year old mother and am with the New York Grands whenever I can and I consider this
an absolute MUST!

And, the cost of this day?  $16.00 for the book!!!!  Can you believe that?  (perhaps the Church picked
up some of the cost?)

My dear, dear friends (Pat and Chet Hickey) recently had an experience where a man collapsed and
Chet, being an Army Medic and having great knowledge and experience, administered CPR  to the man and saved his life!!!

What more can I possibly say?

I urge you to look into and, hopefully, take this course......a few hours of your time could save a

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Easter Pie

Many, many years ago I worked at a popular local restaurant.  I became friendly with an Italian family who were regulars at the restaurant.   Through discussions, I learned about Easter Pie from them.

It is an involved savory pie prepared before Easter, usually on Good Friday or Saturday, and enjoyed
on Easter Sunday and thereafter.

This was totally new to me....I had never heard of it. My Mother-in-law did not make it.   Then, once I started making the pies, I would discover that almost every Italian family had their own version of "Easter Pie".

The original recipe given to me by those customers had a yield of 11-12 pies!  That is what I made the first year I attempted these pies.

I then obtained a recipe from a dear family friend.  Her recipe gave a yield of five (5) pies. (It has ham, pepperoni, sausage, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and tons of eggs!)    That was
a bit more reasonable, especially since I was working out of a tiny galley kitchen!

As my daughters grew and acquired husbands, the Easter Pie became a Giordano tradition....with everyone wanting a pie for their family.  My firstborn granddaughter, Madeleine, became my assistant in recent years.

We would work for about three days.  One day would be chopping all of the cheeses and meats.
Another day we would prepare all of the doughs and let them rest in the fridge overnight.  Finally,
we would assemble the pies.  It was wonderful spending the time with her.  We would then color
eggs....not any ordinary coloring, mind you!.....we would color our eggs GOLD!  It was great fun.

Now I am up to about 8-9 pies to make!

This year my dear Madeleine may not be able to help as much as she is quite busy with her college studies and working.  (My second granddaughter would be a great help at only six years of age, but she is in New York!)

These photos are our Easter Pie work-in-progress from two years ago.

I am contemplating making the pies ahead of time and freezing them, since I may be doing them all by myself.   I have never done this before so I don't know if it will compromise the pies or not.

Do I hear anyone volunteering to help??