Fall must be here.  I’m collecting recipes for fall baking, particularly things with apples.  Obviously, DH and I can’t eat all the stuff I’d like to bake, so I hope to share some of it with the coffee group that meets following exercise.

The cover of Southern Living features a fabulous Apple-Spice Cake with Caramel icing and pecans.  I bought a Bundt pan and a cake carrier just so I could try this recipe.

I have another magazine with fall baking that features sweet things made of pumpkin, or apple, or cherries, raspberries, cranberries or pears!  Clafoutis, slumps, grunts, cakes, quick breads, cookies….you name it and they have a recipe for it.  I want to make them all.

I love Fall!

Farmer’s Tomato Pie x 3

No, I didn’t make three of them.  This is just the third time I’ve felt the need to post about Farmer’s Tomato Pie.  My sister, Frankie, found this recipe and shared it with us.  It’s the perfect recipe for the heat of August, when tomatoes are at their peak.  It’s not the kind of recipe you’d make in February when all you can get is the cardboard they market as tomatoes.

You can use a store-bought pie crust for this recipe.  You can buy the bag of finely shredded Italian cheeses, if you don’t want to fill your refrigerator with cheese.  But, you need to have warm from the garden tomatoes and freshly picked basil for this to live up to its mouth-watering promise.

I might not have made this recipe this year, given that we’ve been moving, but Frankie brought me all the tomatoes I needed from her own garden, and a large bouquet of basil, to boot!  It was part of an incredibly generous housewarming gift that included dried herbs from her garden, dill vinegar which she had made, and three plants, in pots that she had also made.  She hit all the things that we love in common, including a bottle of wine!  Thanks, Sis, for such a wonderful gift!

So, for those of you who may be interested, here’s the recipe:
Farmer’s Tomato Pie

30 minutes preparation
32 minutes baking
10 minutes stand time
1 piecrust
1 1/3 cups shredded Italian blend cheese (5 ? oz.)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Fine dry breadcrumbs
2 lbs. Ripe tomatoes cut into wedges
1 cup Cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 cup loosely packed small basil leaves

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Pie crust
Roll out a prepared piecrust to a twelve-inch circle. Place in a 9″ quiche pan or a 9″ pie pan, and trim. If using a pie pan, crimp the edges. Line the unpricked pastry with TWO thicknesses of foil. Bake 8 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 4-5 minutes, until set and dry. Remove from the oven.
Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup cheese evenly over baked shell.
Sprinkle garlic over cheese.
Sprinkle 2 tsp. Breadcrumbs over garlic and cheese
Top with 1/3 of the tomato wedges and 1/3 of the cherry tomatoes
Sprinkle 1/3 cup cheese
Sprinkle 2 tsp of the dry breadcrumbs
Top with 3 of the tomato wedges and 1/3 of the cherry tomatoes
Repeat last set of instructions once more and then sprinkle with salt.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and tomatoes are just beginning to brown.
Remove to wire rack
Sprinkle with basil and let stand for 10 minutes


Easter 2013

We are no longer hosting the large family holiday celebrations at Casa Buffy.  Our family has splintered over the last few years, now that both Dad and Mother are gone.  My-Sister-The-Nurse  had the basement of her condo finished last year, and now has room for all her family plus Frankie’s family, Dear Husband and me!  She’ll be hosting us for Easter.

I found this adorable dinner roll recipe.  The dough is shaped into small oval rolls, and before it’s cooked you make two snips in the dough to create “bunny ears.”  I’ll need to be careful not to over cook, or we’ll get brown ears, but I’m going to give this a try.

I’d like to do the goofy deviled eggs that look like little chicks.  Rather than cutting the egg in half, you make a cut cross-wise about a third of the way from the end.  Scoop out the yolk, and do the regular yolk mixture.  Then, you refill the egg, put the white back on like a little cap (slightly tilted), and make the tiniest carrot beak.  I think they used capers for eyes, but there must be other options.  Here’s a link to Rachael Ray, who shows how to make the eggs.

And, of course, I’ll be making Vernice Kastman refrigerator rolls for My-Sister-The-Nurse. She’ll hide them all, and everyone will let her get away with it. It seems like a small price to pay for being treated to Easter dinner.

I’m looking forward to having more time with my family. That’s one of the best things about being drawn together to celebrate: family time!

Odd Traditions

When I was young, we had some rather odd dinner traditions for the night before Christmas.  I have four siblings.  My youngest sister arrived when my oldest sister was nineteen, but the traditions must have been constant, because I’ve heard both of them reminisce about them.

My mother made oyster stew for Christmas Eve.  I think she made it to please my father.  Personally I wouldn’t have touched it with a ten-foot pole.  Some of the family left the oysters behind, but sipped the broth, but Dad liked it all.  I don’t think I was the only kid who didn’t care for the stew, so in addition, someone made grilled cheese sandwiches, which was just fine with me.  I was too excited about opening presents to really care what was on the table.

There was one other meal that my family ate that I considered odd.  It wasn’t tied to Christmas, but was an occasional Saturday night special.  Dad would cook a lot of bacon.  He would save the fat to cook sliced onions, and then he would scramble eggs in the same pan.  I don’t think he drained the fat.  As I recall, it was a greasy mess!  It was served on toast as a sandwich, and some of us added ketchup to it.  Frankly, it’s one meal I have never recreated, and don’t miss, but my sisters speak of it lovingly.  Sorry, Dad.  I’d rather have one of your grilled steaks.

Someone in the family came up with a variation on a peanut butter sandwich that I still like!
You slather white bread with crunchy peanut butter, then add a spoonful of what we called “piccalilli.”  Probably most of you know that as sweet relish.  It’s grilled like a grilled cheese sandwich.  I love it!  I haven’t had one so far this winter.  I believe I’ll be treating myself this coming week. Of all the food that I’ve described, this sandwich is the only one my husband will not eat.  He just doesn’t know what he’s missing! *G*

I’m confident that I’m not the only one who has been a part of odd family dining traditions.  Care to share yours with me?



Apparently I’ve been busy the past two weeks. I think my last post was July 24th. I know there was a trip to visit with my youngest sister and her family, but the rest has flown by with all the basics of life. Chores, errands, cleaning, cooking, some packing, a little quilting, just the usual stuff, plus a lot of my annual doctor visits.
So, for my first post in August, I want to talk about making pesto. My house smells fabulous. This is how I think Italian houses must smell all the time, and my sense of smell is saying, “Yuuuummmmmm!”
I surfed for recipes for pesto and learned that there is a classic version that most people use. Garlic, lots of basil, pine nuts, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, Parmesan cheese and olive oil are the ingredients.
I bought a pot of basil in May, intending to plant it outside, but it kept residence on the shelf between the sink and the kitchen window. My sister, Frankie, repotted it for me when she was here, and I’d been watering it. It was long and leggy and had started to grow shoots off the stems, so I had a LOT of basil. I was shopping with a friend yesterday and saw Colavita olive oil on sale for a great price, so I decided this was Pesto Weekend!
I peeled the garlic and cut off the root end. I have a VERY basic food processor. It has no amenities. It is either off or on, and you can pulse the contents, but that’s all it has to offer. I use it about once a year, so I didn’t really want to spring for the terribly expensive one that I’m sure Cook’s Illustrated would like me to use. It chopped the garlic very nicely. Next I added the basil, which I had snipped from the stems. It took four cups. The only thing the recipe didn’t explain was how densely packed the leaves should be, so I went for a medium amount of compacting. The processor chopped the leaves finely.
At that point you add the pine nuts, Parmesan, salt and pepper and blend it all together. It looks odd, and was trying to form a ball. The final step is to add, with the motor running, one cup of olive oil. Almost immediately I got something that more resembled pesto. Once all the oil had been added, I unplugged the machine, took the top off, and scraped down the sides. I reassembled it and gave it another whirl to be sure everything was well incorporated. It was beautiful, and smelled heavenly.
The recipe advised freezing the pesto in ice cube trays. Each “cube” takes about one tablespoon of pesto. I ended up with 18 tablespoons. To prevent the basil from turning dark, you cover the pesto with a light film of olive oil, and then cover the ice cube tray with plastic wrap. I pressed the wrap down onto the oil to push out the air, and then put the trays in the freezer. When they are frozen, I’ll pop the pesto out of the trays and store them in a freezer bag to use as needed. I’m positive I’ll be using it in my minestrone soup, and probably on pizza dough as the base of an appetizer.
I think next time I will try packing the leaves more tightly. And, next time, I may try doubling the recipe. Although, homemade pesto has a shelf life of about six months. I may need to keep an eye on the basil season at the Farmer’s market, to see if I could make the next batch closer to the end of September. That batch would take me through March.
2012 shall be known as “The Year of Pesto!” *G*
For the complete recipe, visit The Yummy Life. Here’s the site if you’d like pictures of the process.

Green Olive Tapenade

There is a restaurant near my home that sells a “muffaletta” sandwich that knocks my socks off. It’s a very non-traditional muffaletta, made using Italian rolls, lunch meat, and mozzarella. The topping is what I like. It’s made of very finely diced green olives and garlic, and it makes my mouth go, “Yuuuuummmmm!”
I’ve tried other tapenades, and like them, but I like this one the most. I’m going to have to see if they will sell it to me by the half pint.
I’ve been trying to link to a picture of a muffaletta for you, without luck. Go to Google Images and type in “muffaletta,” and you can see hundreds of them! Thanks to all of you, I may know how to make the tapenade! I have a small food processor called a “Little Oscar.” If I put green olives stuffed with pimentos, a few cloves of garlic and some olive oil in the base and chopped them fine, I might have what I’m looking for!

First Farmer’s Market Visit

Dear Husband and I made our first trip to the Farmer’s Market yesterday. DH was traveling toward the boat for the weekend, but stopped to be my pack horse for the market. I was relatively restrained, less than one totebag of goodies, but it was nice to have his help.
Tomatoes, fresh dill, green beans, zucchini, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, crimini mushrooms and cheese curds…..I think that was all I got. I passed on the unusual flavors and shapes of pasta, and the potted herbs, kohlrabi, the great bread from Breadsmith, and plenty of other things. I’ll get them another time.
Fruit salad to go with dinner tonight, and maybe a strawberry rhubarb pie. Interested?

Cooking classes

I need to find some cooking classes that will help me prepare simple but well seasoned food!
I know how to cook the basic American menu, but I’m very tired of everything tasting the same. I don’t exactly know what taste I’m looking for, but I want more interesting food without having to spend the entire day in the kitchen.
Dear Husband doesn’t mind crockpot meals. On occasion, I’m willing to use them, especially when we have so many activities there isn’t time to prepare a good meal. But, there are some meals where everything shouldn’t be blended together. I don’t enjoy veggies that have been cooked together all day long, so that you can’t tell what kind of veggie you’re eating. Crockpots are good for baked beans, or for slow cooking soup all day long.
My appetite has been missing for the last week or so. I find I’m just beginning to think about planning meals, and eating something more than chicken and rice soup. No casseroles for a while, I think
I’m so glad that it’s time for the Farmers Markets to be up and running. I’ll miss the one this weekend, but you can be sure I’ll be out there next week, raring to go!
Give me your best summer meal idea, won’t you?


I haven’t really considered Christmas cookies, and it’s the 10th of December!
I’ve made one recipe of the Sugar Crisp that my family considers a holiday treat. My youngest sister was coming for Thanksgiving and I wanted to be sure to have a box of them to send home with her. (Her husband found the box first and tried to make off with it!)
I think every family must have cookies that speak to them of Christmas. In addition to the Sugar Crisp, Russian tea cakes, Thumbprints, Holiday Raspberry Ribbons and peanut butter cookies with a Hershey’s Kiss seem to be cookies that we make every year. I rarely make cookies that need to be decorated. One of my nieces makes the best iced sugar cookies I’ve ever had, so I leave it to her to supply the family.
For Dear Husband, I might make the spicy nut slices that we talked about in November. Those are his particular favorite, but I don’t usually think of them as a Christmas cookie.
I can see that it’s time to browse my cookie recipe collections tonight. Perhaps that will get me in the mood to bake.

Spicy Nut Slices

Cop Car, the ever helpful, sent me a copy of the recipe that I shared with her. She suggested in her blog that I post this recipe, and I said I would, as soon as I found it! *G*
Here’s the Spicy Nut Slices that Dear Husband likes so much:
Spicy Nut Slices
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup finely chopped almonds
Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs; beat well. Blend in vanilla. Stir flour with next 4 ingredients; stir into creamed mixture. Add nuts. Shape into two 9-inch rolls. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Chill well. Cut into 1/4-inch slices; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees about 8 minutes. Cool 1 minute; remove from pans to a cooling rack. Makes 72.
We don’t use almonds. Usually Mother made them with pecans or walnuts. The two rolls can be rectangles with the upper edges rounded. We never get 72 cookies from this recipe, so we must be making over-sized cookies.