It’s different every time!

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I make my own barbecue sauce and it is never the same. But this time I remembered what I did. I find that BBQ sauce is basically a tomato base with a “hot” added plus some vinegar of some kind. I saw once a “recipe” that was three ingredients of ketchup, sriracha, and Worcestershire. I don’t usually cook with ketchup; I save that for cheeseburgers. Although I do plan to make my own ketchup later this spring. I have seen a recipe for making it in the slow-cooker. I like that idea.

I love barbecued ribs! So we bought a rack of baby-backs at our discount grocery store. So I don’t know if this is the best of my homemade sauces or if it was the best rib rack we bought or the two of them combined, oven-baked smothered with sauce.

Not wanting to use ketchup I use tomato sauce. And not having Worcestershire, I use apple cider vinegar. Most of the amounts are approximations and can be adjusted to taste.

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  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder (at hubby’s insistence)

Just mix this all up together. I suspect hubby also put in some ground coffee. He has been telling me this is an essential ingredient in barbecue sauce. Anyone ever hear of that?

We poured the sauce over a rack of ribs (cut into individual ribs) turning them to coat each one in sauce, covered the roasting pan with foil and baked this for 45 minutes at 325 F. Then removed the foil, baked for about 10 more minutes, and then broiled for maybe 5 minutes. We then poured the sauce over the ribs. These were delicious! I may never let hubby grill ribs again!

I also made coleslaw and toasted some anadama bread slices on the griddle. I make a dill-buttermilk coleslaw dressing adapted from my cookbook The Basic Gourmet by Morgan, Taggart, Taggert, and Vareldzis (1995 Chronicle Books). I buy the coleslaw mix in the produce section because a head of cabbage makes too much slaw.

  • 1/4-1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill weed; I used snippings of fresh dill because I had some!
  • 2 teaspoons mustard, any kind
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce (sometimes I forget to add this)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar (I usually leave this out)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the ingredients together and pour over the coleslaw vegetables and stir to coat.

This was good eating!


Quinoa 2

Continuing on my quest to use interesting ingredients and healthy ones I have made another quinoa dish. This one I found on

This is an easy to prepare recipe as it is mostly assembly. I added ground beef and an onion so that had to be browned before putting it all in the dish to bake. I actually followed the directions exactly but for that. Sort of.

  • 1/2 pound ground beef, browned
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies (I used the store brand; the name brand is Rotel.)
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained (I forgot to buy black beans most recently so I substituted a can of pinto beans, drained.)
  • 1/4 cup sliced jalapeno
  • 1/2 can vegetable broth (I used chicken broth because that is what I had on hand.)
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • sour cream for serving

I had only whole cumin seeds and whole coriander in my spice cabinet so I got to use the mortar and pestle that my son brought back from his international travels. I believe he brought this from Morocco. So these are “roughly ground”!

Preheat oven to 400 F. After browning the onion and beef, all the ingredients except the cheese and sour cream are mixed together in a 2 quart casserole.

quinoa 2 007Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and stir. (I was not sure if this meant to remove the foil for the next cooking segment, so I covered the dish again. Bake for another 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

At the 30 minute mark the quinoa still looks quite small and raw. But the next 20 minutes finished cooking it perfectly.

After the 20 minutes remove the foil, cover with cheese and broil until cheese is melted about 1-2 minutes only. Serve with sour cream.

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I served this with tortilla chips to add some crunch. This makes four servings so I will have leftovers. I’ll serve the leftovers with a big salad and freshly baked cornbread or rolls.

Note: This dish has heat. It is very spicy. I might leave out the jalapeno next time or use a can of regular diced tomatoes without the chilies.

Quinoa 1

sewing 007My sewing room has been feeling neglected so I spent time in there instead of browsing recipe books. But dinner is needed and I was thinking of something simple like bacon and eggs when I took a break and looked through my “recipes of interest” notebook. And there I found a recipe for a quinoa and green bean salad. In fact I found two variations. I say to myself “Self, there are green beans in need of fixing! And there is quinoa in the pantry.” Although salads can be nice for lunch and can work for suppers, I think hubby would like more substance. How about adding the bacon and eggs? And serving it warm?

sewing 008I put together what I want to use. Servings for two. (You can double the quinoa and the beans if you want to serve four.)

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • olive oil for the skillet
  • 1/4 pound bacon, diced
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 pound green beans
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley, plus sprinkle for garnish
  • 3-4 eggs, poached

sewing 009First make the dressing: whisk together the vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, and parsley.

Put a bit of olive oil in a skillet to saute the garlic and onion. I then added the diced up bacon. Oh boy does this make the kitchen smell good! When the bacon is cooked I added the quinoa and stirred it for one minute. I am adding the amount of water per the quinoa package directions, so this is 1 cup. This is then brought to a boil, the skillet is covered, the heat lowered and let simmer for 15 minutes or per the quinoa package directions.

Meanwhile blanch the green beans just for a few minutes until bright green. (Do these look brighter green?) They should be al dente.

After the quinoa has been cooked per package instructions and let sit for 5-10 minutes to finish absorbing the liquid, stir in the green beans and the dressing. Keep this warm.

Now to poach the eggs. I have not really studied how best to do poached eggs. I think I read somewhere to put a little vinegar in the water but I am not sure. I bring about a half inch of water to a boil in a skillet. Then I slowly pour each egg into the water. I cover the pan and wait for the whites to solidify. How did I do?

Scoop the quinoa mixture into serving bowls and carefully place an egg or two on top.

Quinoa is one of those super foods that is being touted as something we all should eat. It provides protein. fiber, and essential vitamins and other nutrients. I have some other recipes I plan to try out in hopes to put this in our diet. Stay tuned.



“Anna, damn her” bread

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I will be able to go back to work soon. So now I feel all this pressure to get everything done that I can’t get done when I spend my days at work! This pressure comes from myself, I know this! So I have a list of sewing projects that need starting and finishing; I have a bunch of recipes I still want to try; there are books still to be read, solitaire games to play (oops!), and I have enjoyed the luxury of having mornings at my kitchen table writing and planning my days. But I am very much looking forward to going back to work, having a schedule, a broader purpose to the day, and seeing all my co-workers.anadama bread 018

This was my lunch. I saved this three ingredient pancake recipe on one of the many Facebook feeds I get from food and cooking sites. They are more like crepes and very light and tasty with a light banana flavor. Eggs and banana: protein and fruit!

That said, I was looking for an easy bread recipe and have always wanted to make Anadama bread. Basically this is a yeasted cornbread. The recipes in my many cookbooks vary using molasses or honey, using cornmeal or creamed corn, sometimes eggs sometimes none. The origin of the bread is in New England so I thought it appropriate to get out my cookbook The New England Table by Lora Brody and see if I could make that version. This recipe is  a “throw everything together in a bowl, mix, and knead”. What could be simpler?

The story, true or not, behind the bread is that a man was sent to work with cornmeal mush in his lunch box and kept asking his wife to put in bread instead. So he cursed her and added yeast, molasses, and flour himself to make the bread. I found this link to a food historian while googling the name of the bread:

  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 scant teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons regular molasses

Handy hint: it does really work when you use oil in the measuring spoon before measuring the molasses. Slides right out!

I placed all the ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer with the bread hook attached. I mixed it up and then set it on knead (speed 2) for 8 minutes. Sticky dough! To place in a greased bowl I pushed the batter to one side of the bowl, sprayed with cooking spray, pushed it back to the other side of the bowl, sprayed that side and made sure the batter was covered with the “oil”. Covered this with plastic wrap. This was to rise one-third. So I waited an hour and it looked nicely risen to me. The instructions are to gently deflate the dough and knead in some toasted sunflower seeds but I didn’t plan to add seeds so I left this step out. I then placed the dough in the prepared pan (9 x 5 loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray). Cover this with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled. Spray the plastic wrap so that the dough does not stick when you uncover it.

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The loaf looks good at this point. Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake for 35-40 minutes. I checked it at 35 and it looked done to me although a bit flat. When I was much younger and baking bread the loaves would rise up out of the loaf pan. What is different now? Looking up on the internet it may be that I needed to bake it for the additional 5 minutes.

Dinner that night included this fresh baked bread. It was pre-breaded fish from frozen, leftover mashed potatoes, small spinach salad with olives and feta, and a citrus salsa. The salsa recipe is from She has some nice recipes.

(If you look closely you can see the white paws of Felix the Cat in the background. He’s eating his dinner too.)



It’s a Sponge!

“When the occasion calls for a light, sweet dessert, this delicious orange sponge cake is a perfect choice. Stiffly beaten eggs–first the whites, then the yolks–are the secret of its light, airy texture.”

Thus begins the intro to “the best-ever orange sponge cake” according to the McCall’s Cooking School in its 1984 recipe cards series. I have several of these cards (pages) because they came in the mail as promotional material with the hope that one would subscribe and receive a packet of recipes monthly eventually becoming an entire cookbook. Well, I just saved the pages that I got for free!

I decided to make the cake. I do not do well making sponge or chiffon cakes. I like butter cakes and do pretty good with them. In my past efforts to make sponge cakes they turn out like hockey pucks and inedible. Perhaps my baking skills have improved. I am counting on it as I begin this bake. I figure that a sponge has no butter and actually has less sugar than my usual butter cakes so that is a good thing.

In baking I may change up flavorings but generally follow the instructions exactly. Baking is a science, flavoring is the art.

  • 6 egg whites, brought to room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, sift before measuring
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons fresh orange juice (silly me, I only measured out 3!)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel

In large bowl of electric mixer beat the egg whites until foamy then gradually beat in 1/2 cup of the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until stiff peaks form. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sift the sifted flour with the salt onto a plate or sheet of waxed paper; set aside.

In another bowl beat the egg yolks until very thick and lemon-colored, no less than 3 minutes. Do not underbeat. Gradually beat in remaining 1 cup of sugar and continue beating until smooth. At low speed alternately blend flour mixture and orange juice into the egg yolk mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Add orange peel.

Sponge and miracle whip potato salad 009

Now gently fold yolk mixture into egg whites. I never know if I have adequately folded this together. I did not want to deflate the egg whites but did not want the batter to be unblended.


Prepare the pan. The instructions are to use an ungreased 9 3/4 by 4 inch kugelhopf pan. Or a tube pan without removable bottom. So I use a bundt pan. If desired, one can spray the pan with cooking spray but after baking do not invert over bottle to let cool. Just put it on a rack to cool completely and then remove from pan by running a spatula around the edge of the cake.

Dust with powdered sugar, cut and serve. Success is mine! It is light and airy and has a light orange taste. Hubby says “moist, orangey”, at first he said “lemony” so perhaps the other 3 tablespoons of orange juice is needed. But he likes it, and so do I.

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