Sunday, June 25, 2017

Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

Two Blueberry Muffins with Two Pats of Butter
My Mom Served 'Em with Butter

Recipe Adapted from The 250 Best Muffin Recipes


From ‘way back when I was a preschooler, I have two vivid memories of special breakfast foods. Though we mostly ate cereal and milk, like most kids of our era, every so often my mom would make us something special. In the winter, it was fresh squeezed orange juice, crafted with a special attachment on Mom’s Mixmaster. In summer, it was blueberry muffins: fresh, fruity, and unpretentious. This recipe tastes pretty close to what Mom used to make: not too sweet or buttery, loaded with beautiful berries.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cherry Cobbler

Cherry Cobbler with Whipped Cream
Cherry Cobbler: Fabulous With or Wthout Cream

Recipe adapted from Crumbles and Cobblers


Throughout this short cherry season, I’ve failed twice at making a simple cherry dessert. My potluck chocolate cherry clafouti landed upside-down on the bedroom rug (don’t ask). And the flavor wasn’t chocolatey enough to try again. Next, Fresh Cherry Cobbler, a top recipe from the usually brilliant All Recipes website, tasted more like butter and sugar than cherries. So, back to my favorite cobbler resource, Crumbles and Cobblers, to adapt a Berry Cobbler recipe. Light, pastry tops a just-sweet-enough base of cherries, and leftovers were solid enough to go car camping.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Carrots and Parsnips Exupery

Closeup of Carrots and Parsnips Exupery

Recipe adapted from Simplicity from a Monastery Kitchen


I’ve spent the winter in a Monastery. Well, cuisine-wise anyway. In search of inspiration during a seasonal chef’s most challenging months, I discovered Simplicity from a Monastery Kitchen: A Complete Menu Cookbook for All Occasions. Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Loutourette, whose origins are obscure and whose abode is in upstate New York, has written many monastic cookbooks. My blog features only one parsnip recipe: delicious, nostalgic oven braised parsnips and carrots. So it's Brother Victor-Antoine to the rescue with parsnips in a sweet, buttery glaze spiked with dry mustard.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Rose’s Abe Lincoln Cake or Marbled Pound Cake

Two slices of marble cake on plate

Recipe adapted from Aunt Rose's


A quick internet search on Abe Lincoln cake brings up numerous recipes for almond cake. But decades before the internet, my husband’s aunt was making this Abe Lincoln Cake from a family recipe for her children and their lucky cousins. Instead of almonds, it’s flavored with a touch of orange and nutmeg. Perhaps in a past generation, someone had a nut allergy, so the almonds were replaced with spices. The perfect proportions of butter, sugar, and eggs make what is essentially a pound cake a moist, dense loaf with thin and crunchy crust. This crust is the magic that makes this cake unusually addictive.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Vegan Smoothies: Green Drink & Pink Drink

Green Smoothie in Three Pint Sized Mason Jars with Lids

Recipes inspired by Laurie


It’s the post-holiday season and a new year. Many of us have overindulged during the past weeks, consuming more than usual quantities of rich and caloric foods. We might have gained a few pounds, or just feel a bit sluggish after too many delicious but not-too-nutritious treats. New year = new start. Protein and veggie or fruit-based smoothies make satisfying breakfasts, lunches, or snacks. They’re delicious and vitamin- and mineral-rich, yet don’t cost too many calories.  My friend Laurie, an expert on liquid meals, shared her list of high-nutrition smoothie ingredients with me, and I came up with these basic go-to recipes. I invite you to add or substitute ingredients as you like.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Platter of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Perfect for Potlucks

Recipe from Melinda


My colleague Melinda brings the most exquisite treats to share with us at the library. Her recent muffins disappeared in record time, being an unusual combination of seasonal pumpkin, spices, and chocolate. I scaled her recipe down to mini muffins, which were a big hit at game night. Their small size works well for holiday potlucks and parties for the same reason—when there’s ample food, just a small muffin (or two) will suffice. Also, the small size makes them easy finger foods for cocktail parties, crowded events, and gaming tables. These muffins are not too sweet, so chocolate and spice take center stage.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Autumnal Fare

Recipe adapted from Casalegno Family Farm


One of my favorite things about Farmers’ Markets is meeting the people behind the food. It’s especially rewarding to meet a vendor who owns and operates a farm while raising two children and working a day job. Marissa Casalegno and her husband Matt, are the fifth Casalegno Farm generation. They work day and night to expand their farm and preserve heirloom veggies. Marissa gave me this recipe, featuring Casalegno Family Farm’s fantastic winter squash and green apples. Sausage and spices compliment sweet squash and sour apples beautifully.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Minestrone with Chen Pi (Tangerine Peel)

Minestrone with Tangerine Kick

Recipe from Chinese Herbal Cookbook


As my friend Jon says, “One of the reasons I love food so much is that it’s an adventure if you go for new things...exotic spices, cuisines from around the world and ingredients that make you go 'hmmmm'. My most memorable meals are a symphony of textures and flavors. It's the magic of one flavor picking up where the last left, harmoniously and at the same time an experience all its own.” Inspired by Jon, I offer this long-forgotten recipe: Italian style minestrone with Chinese chen pi, or dried tangerine peel. Tangerine permeates the dish in a subtle but game-changing way.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fresh Corn and Tomato Soup

Closeup of Fresh Corn and Tomato Soup topped with Basil
Summer into Fall Soup

Recipe adapted from Undated Photocopy


As we slide from late summer to autumn next week, we’re enjoying the end of surprisingly long corn season here in Santa Cruz county. Though corn isn’t easy to grow near the coast, Happy Boy Farms has supplied us with an enormous amount of organic ears at farmers’ markets this season. Combined with Happy Boy’s bargain-priced heirloom tomatoes, corn makes a colorful, delicious, and healthful soup. Bonus: easy prep and few other ingredients needed. Simply add corn and tomatoes to sautéed aromatics, add a little water and seasoning, and cook down. What’s not to like?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Motel Room Cooking: Lobster Rolls

Plate with two lobster rolls and six large shrimp
Total Decadence: Add Shrimp Appetizer

Recipe by Robin


Spending a week or two at the beach in summer can run into high accommodations costs, but you can keep food costs down. Find a place to stay with a 2-burner stovetop, fridge, and microwave, and eat like locals. Or camp and pack your ice chest and cook stove. Fruit and veggies from farm stands or farmers’ markets, along with fresh fish and shellfish from local sources can be prepared into 5-star cuisine for a fraction of what you’d pay at a restaurant. It helps to have these supplies: a sharp knife; a medium skillet; medium and large covered pots, a colander or large strainer, and a large bowl or two.