Fresh Pickles


Wait.  Isn’t that an oxymoron?  I mean, don’t pickles have to sit and pickle?  Not these delicious morsels of summer.  I love pickles and these are one of my favorites.  No canning and best of all very little waiting.

One year I had a plethera of pickling cucumbers left and no energy to do anything with them.  (Yeah, that was when I had to get ready for a new school year.) I decided to make some quick pickles for dinner.  (See, I told you that you would not have to wait long.)  I remembered having them at one of my childhood friend’s house growing up.


I don’t know what they called them but I remember the crisp, sharp taste!  Here’s the recipe:



2 quarts, unpeeled diagonally sliced pickling cucumbers. (You can use regular pickles too, slice diagonal but don’t peel!)

1 – 2 large white onions, sliced IMG_0564

2 bay leaves

4 tsp. dried dill or 3 Tablespoons fresh

4 tsp. mustard seed

1 cup vinegar

2 crushed garlic cloves

2 tsp. kosher salt

3 tsp. sugar

In a non-reactive bowl, place the cukes, dill, bay leaves anIMG_0617d toss.

In a heavy saucepan heat vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seed and
garlic cloves.  Bring to a boil–making sure the salt and sugar dissolve.

Pour hot mixture over the cucumber mix –toss.  Leave at room temperature  or refrigerate.  What ever you prefer.  I like minechilled. Eat.  They could last 3-4 days in the refrigerator . . . but they won’t.




Breakfast Deviled Eggs


I’m planning a brunch.  I want something unique.  I love breakIMG_0504fast casseroles but I want some thing different.  Hmmmm . . . and Breakfast Deviled Eggs were born.  I started making these for my guests at the cottage this summer and they have been a hit.  Why not deviled eggs for breakfast?  Eggs are traditional breakfast fare.  This one time, I had leftovers (just once) and I stored the eggs in a washed empty egg carton, covered the eggs with plastic wrap, and closed the lid.  No squish, no mess — it worked great!

So the recipe


1 dozen eggs (big family) boiled split and yolks seperated

1/4 – 1/2 cup mayo

2 slices of cooked thick bacon chopped into small pieces

2 Tablespoons minced pickle – I used dill

1-2 Tablespoons prepared mustard – to your taste

kosher salt, fresh ground pepper to taste


In a medium bowl, mash egg yolks until they are free of lumps.  I use a fork.  Add mayo and mustard.  Start with 1/4 cup of mayo and add more if it is too dry.  Add bacon and finely minced pickle.  I’m guessing that sausage would be good too.  Salt and pepper and I added a little (very little – like a dash) of cayenne pepper.  My family likes a little heat.

Arrange the empty egg halves on a platter.  Scoop with a small teaspoon the filling into the egg whites.  Some people pipe them in but I like a more casual look and then I can lick the bowl rather than pipe leftovers into my mouth.  (just kidding, well kinda).

Sprinkle with paprika and refrigerate.  Nothing worse than warm deviled eggs.  Enjoy!

Oh the brunch menu — Breakfast deviled eggs, Bagel bar (which includes warmed bagels split and lots of delicious toppings such as butter, cream cheese, lox, red onion, tomatoes and of course capers), scones, sweet breads (banana, pumpkin, my new chocolate chip bread) and fruit salad.


Girdled Scones with Currants


griddled sconesNo, not a typo.  These are actually called girdled scones.  Why?  Because apparently the Scots call it a girdle  and not a griddle.  Girdle, griddle what ever you want to call it they are delicious, simple to make and they bring back so many memories of my childhood.

We grew up in Michigan.  My relatives all lived in North Dakota and Minnesota.  We weren’t able to grow up with grandparents a hop, skip and a jump away.  So often times other people “adopted” us into their folds.  Grandma Nagle was one of those people.  She was the mother of one of our neighbors–a dear, dear friend to our family, Rachel Beall.  When grandma Nagle came to visit from Massachusetts she always included us in her shenanigans–and she always made up scones.  Delicious, light, creamy slightly sweet scones.  Warm, topped with butter, it was a bit of heaven.

I had thought about these scones for many years and a couple of years ago I decided to try to find or develop a recipe.  They can be grilled on a griddle or in a skillet on the stove.  Grandma Nagle had a girdle that she would bring with her.  I use a griddle when I make them.

Grandma Nagle Girdle Scones with Currants

1 stick of butter

1/2 cup of sugar

2 eggs

1 cup of liquid (milk, buttermilk, yogurt, half ‘n half, cream)(I use cream)

pinch of salt

3  cups of flour mixed with 4 tsp.  baking powder

1/2 cup currants (you can leave these out, but, why?)


Cream butter until it is pale yellow.  Add sugar and continue to cream until the mixture is smooth.  Add eggs one at a time mixing until each one of well incorporated.  Add cream and continue to mix at a lower speed.  You may have to scrape the sides along the way, depending on your mixer–just make sure everything is well incorporated.

Next add your salt, flour and baking powder and at a low speed mix until just incorporated.

Add currants (You can use raisins but currants are so right for this recipe).

Your dough should be slightly sticking.  If not, add a little more liquid.  It it seems too liquidy to handle, add more flour.

Heat your griddle to about 350 degrees.  If it is a no stick it will not require any additional oil on the griddle.  If it is not a non-stick you may want to give it a quick spray with a cooking spray.

Dump onto a floured surface and knead for just a minute.  Brush a bit of flour onto your hands and work your magic. Divide the dough into 4 equal balls.  Roll out each ball, making sure both sides of the disk have plenty of flour on them.  I actually just use my hands to flatten it out and shape an approximate 8 inch circle.  Cut the disk into 4 triangles and place on griddle.  Do the same for the other 3 disks.

Grill for about 5-7 minutes on each side.  Keep an eye on them because I find griddles are somewhat inconsistent.  When you flip them they should be golden brown on the bottom and have puffed up.  Continue cooking on the other side.

When done, remove from grill and let cool slightly on a wire rack.  Make your pot of tea, pour yourself a cup.  Split open a scone and slather it with butter (okay you don’t have to slather).  Take a bite.  Truly heavenly.

Grandma Gudrun Lovas’s “White Cookies”


0Q1qz4d4bo1_500_zpsb68a339fBusy with my Christmas baking I had a flashback.  My Norwegian grandma Gudrun Lovas’ sugar cookies.  My cousin Nancy says she called them White Cookies.  They were legend.  Long after she left us there was talk of these marvelous cookies–memories.

I sent a message to my cousin Nancy asking if she had the recipe.  She quickly replied and I giggled as I read her comments:

“I found it! This is exactly how she wrote it: 1 cup butter 1/2 cup lard 2 cups sugar 2 eggs 1/2 cup sour cream 1 teaspoon soda 1 teaspoon vanilla There is no mention of flour or baking temperature. I’m sure she just added flour until it felt right for rolling out. Gudrun called them “white cookies”.”

I’m guessing 2-3 cups of flour.  Start with 2 and add until, you know, it feels right!

I’m going to try this recipe.  I’m sure the delicious memories will remind me of the gentle hugs from Grandma.

May your Christmas be filled with all kinds of hugs and warm sweet memories.  May you remember the old ones and create new ones.  Enjoy your loved ones.  Merry Christmas.  G


My “Peachy” Neighbor Just Brought Me Pears! Let’s Make Pie


I was so touched when I answered the door last Monday and one of my neighbors, w2015-10-25 10.47.13-2ho I have never even met, brought me a huge bag of pears.  He said they were from the tree in his back yard and he had so many.

I haven’t cooked much with pears, but I like them.  I am a prolific pie maker and although I never have had a pear pie, I thought it would be interesting to try.

My friend Debbie had just given me some apples from her yard on Monday, hmmm, pears and apples that would be good.  Hey, I got a bag of cranberries in the fridge that would brighten up the pie both visually and taste.So it began . . . and the Apple, Pear, Cranberry Crunch Pie was born.  Where does the crunch pie come in?  I’ll get to that.

Apple, Pear, Cranberry Crunch Pie

Pie crust for a single pie

3 pears

3 apples

1 1/4 cups of roughly chopped cranberries

zest of 1 orange

2/3 cup white or brown sugar (firmly packed)

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

2 T flour

1 T corn starch

Crunchy Crumb Topping

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts (this is where the crunchy comes in)

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

4 T. soft butter (preferably unsalted)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees/

Prepare a single crust.  Whatever recipe I use, I always add a Tablespoon or more of powdered buttermilk.  It is such a great tangy addition, especially in any pie with apple in it.  Put the pie2015-10-24 17.13.40 crust shell into the freezer for about 15 minutes.

2015-10-24 17.13.06Peel, core and slice pears and apples.  Cut into slices (I liked 1/4″).  Roughly chop the cranberries.  Combine pears, apples, cranberries and orange zest in a bowl.

Mix together in another bowl, flour, corn starch sugar(s) and nutmeg.  Use a whisk to ensure the spices and starches are well combined.  Sprinkle over fruit and toss and turn with your hands until it is well coated.2015-10-24 17.22.21In the same bowl you mixed the flours, etc., combine rest of the ingredients for the topping.  Using your hands (I’m an earthy cook) blend all the ingredients together until the butter is evenly distributed.

Remove pie crust from freezer and pour the fruit evenly into the pie shell.  Top with the crumb topping and bake for 60 – 65 minutes on a oven rack placed in the bottom third of the oven.  The fruit pie will be bubbly and beautifully browned when done.2015-10-24 17.22.27

Cool pie for at least 30 minutes – preferably longer.  Enjoy with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

I knew it was good when the first two people tasted it and the first words out of their mouths were “OMG!” 2015-10-25 11.52.01

Hey, wouldn’t a handful of currants be good in this too?

The Best Sounds of Summer


photo 1The best sound of summer Is the sound of the “pop” jars make indicating that what you are canning has sealed.  I love that sound.  I canned 20 pints and 25 quarts of tomatoes last night.  They look beautiful all lined up on my counter.

I saved a little of the sauce to make homemade spaghetti sauce and oh my goodness.  I literally wept it was so good.  Was it the roma tomatoes I used?  Was it that I cooked the sauce low and slow for 2 days?  Perhaps the wine I used.  Whatever, it is awesome.

photo 4I grow my own herbs and I have learned a few tricks of the years.  I’m sure my heritage has something to do with it as I am Italian and Native American.  However, my mother was 100% Norwegian so who knows?  Maybe that stuff is just in your DNA.

The recipe is more of a story so I will tell you the story and summarize the recipe and ingredients at the end.

In a heavy pot I ad a bit of olive oil, enough to cover the 1/2 diced red onion.  Saute until the onion is soft.  So the first trick is the red onion.  They are sweeter and make the sauce less acidic.  The second trick is to use fresh herbs and fresh garlic.  The third trick is to put a handful of oregano and a handful or more of fresh basil in my Vitamix with the skinned garlic and a couple of scoops of sauce.  A quick blend saved me a lot of chopping and it melds the flavors together.

Pour that into the sauce pan with salt and pepper, the onions and add whatever red wine you have in the refrigerator to the mix.  I prefer a nice dry cabernet but I have used pinot noir and others as well.  Ina Garten always says “Only use wine in cooking that you would be willing to drink.”  Good advice from my hero.

photo 2Next add the tomato sauce and simmer, the longer the better but it is delicious right away too.  My family favorite is to add browned Italian sausage chunks, meatballs and pepperoni to the sauce.

When I cook the pasta I drain it and add a little bit of sauce to it.  I sprinkle a little parmesan or other hard Italian cheese on it and garnish it with fresh basil.

So for the recipe . . .

1/2 red onion

1/2 handful of fresh basil and oregano (you can use dried too–obvious not as much — to taste)

4 cloves of garlic

1 cup or so of red wine

2 quarts or so tomato sauce.  Homemade or canned

meatballs or sausage as you wish.

Easy peasy and delish!



photo (7)It’s true, peaches mean a lot to me.  I grew up in Romeo, Michigan where the Peach Festival was the highlight of the year and held over Labor Day weekend,  marked the end of summer–but in a good way.  I was in the parade, always went to the carnival and shared many wonderful memories with friends–many who I have unfortunately not seen in years!

My mother-in-law also use to make a fabulous peach custard pie with a broiled crumb top.  If my husband has behaved himself I like to make him one every once in a while.  He was on the road all week and I called him today and told him that I had made him a peach pie.  I know he will drive extra fast to get to the lake.  I mean to see me, well maybe the pie.

So I have listed a couple of my favorite jam recipes (especially good spooned over warm tapioca pudding) and my mother-in-laws custard peach pie recipe.

Romeo Peach Jam

4 cups of peeled and diced peaches  (I like Freestone peaches–there is a reason they are named Freestone–much easier to remove the stone)

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice

1 package pectin

4-5 cups sugar.


Place peaches, lemon juice and pectin in a thick kettle and bring to a soft boil — the kind where little bubbles form at the top.  Add the sugar and boil for an additional minute or two.  Skim foam off the top if necessary.  While that is slightly cooling. . .

Sterilize 6, 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings.  I do this is the large kettle I will be process the jars in by placing them all in there and covering with water and bringing to a boil.  When the pot comes to a boil remove the jars, lids and rings.

Give them a second to dry out and fill the jars with the jam, leaving about a half inch at the top.  Wipe the rims with a clean cloth and place the lid on the jar and lightly screw on ring.

Bring the large pot of water back to a boil (it should be deep enough to cover the jars completely plus 1/2 inch minimum.  Place the jars back in the pot and process for 5 minutes.

Remove jars and place on wooden cutting board so they don’t touch.  Sit back and listen to that glorious sound of the popping of the lids sealing.  Ahhh, such a wonderful sound.  Store in dark place.  Enjoy!

And now, for the Adult Version

Peach Butter Bourbon Jam

Miss Beth, at “Parties in a Pinch”, one of the best catering experiences in Memphis, this is dedicated to you.  I believe Miss Beth’s motto is “Everything is better with bourbon!”


4 cups peaches – peeled and diced

1 cup bourbon

1 package pectin

2 Tablespoons butter

3 1/2 cups brown sugar

Follow the directions from the jam above.  Heavenly, oh yes, heavenly!  Try this on a bagel with cream cheese.  It also is a great glaze for baking a ham — just paint the ham.


Oma’s Peach Pie

This also makes a great slab pie.  What’s a slab pie?  Just like a regular pie but it is made in a 9 1/2 x 13 inch pan. (the pastry goes up the sides of the pan).  I still can picture this pie baked in Oma’s white enamelware pan.  Man, I miss that woman.


5 peaches, peeled and sliced (6 if they are small)

1 cup sour cream

3 egg yolks

1 cup sugar (I usually use a bit less)

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 single pie crust – purchased or your favorite recipe


Roll out your pie crust and trim the edges.  I like to prebake the pie shell for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and place the peaches in the bottom.

In a large bowl mix the 3 egg yolks, sour cream and brown sugar , flour and vanilla together and pour over peaches.

Top with the following struesel:  1/2  stick of chilled butter cubed , 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.

I like to serve it warm with ice cream.  I broil the top, watching very carefully not to burn — it gives the pie character.

And yes, grown men have wept.