About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Every Grandmother Should Know How to Make "Wanilla" Cake with "Camel" Icing

A small voice behind me asked, "Can we make wanilla cake with camel icing?"  Usually, he only asks for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I only hesitated a second as I quickly calculated the ingredients I had on hand.  "Yes", I replied, never wanting to discourage anyone from cooking.  My pantry is deep into the basics so I knew I could come up with ingredients that would make his "wanilla" preference. I asked if he might want to try a chocolate icing but he was adamant, he wanted "camel".  Me too, it runs in the genes.  I just happened to have a jar of my caramel sauce in the refrigerator and knew when warmed and blended with some powdered sugar it would make perfectly good icing.  I fashioned a little apron for him and let him stand on a step ladder.

I pulled out my big standing mixer, assembled the ingredients and let him help measure and pour.  No   box mixes for this granny.  I'm scratch all the way.  What a joy!  Can you remember making a cake with your mother or grandmother?  I can.  I remember it was a Betty Crocker box mix of "pink lemonade" flavor.  I was about the same age when my mother let me stir and lick the spoon and with that, the fire was lit.  I know he's made cup cakes and pizza with his mother so this request wasn't without some prior experience.

I let him pick from my selection of sprinkles and he really got into the decoration part.  He asked me, as he worked hard at scraping all the batter up, if I had gone to school to learn to make cakes.  I said, no, but there where cooking schools that taught all sorts of things. He said he might like to go someday.  Hmm, maybe we lit a little spark here.

If you have a small child around who wants to bake a cake, be ready!  It just flour, eggs, butter, milk, salt, a little "wanilla" and a big dash of love.  The reward is priceless.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Plum Chutney, Plum Good

I love chutney.  It's an artistic blend of sweet and savory with a hint of spice.  It can be as complex as you like and plum chutney marries a late summer stone fruit with a fall flavor.  I love the rich color and taste with a pork tenderloin or smoky pork chop. I'll serve it throughout the holiday season.  Easy to make, it's a nice gift for a culinary friend and better than cranberry anything.

1 1/2 lbs purple skin plums, split, pit removed and roughly chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and diced
2 tbls spoon olive oil
2 tbls shallot, finely diced
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup ruby port
1/4 pomegranate juice
2 tbls fig balsamic
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
3 whole cloves
pinch of salt

In a large sauce pan heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced shallot.  Cook, stirring frequently until softened.  Add the plums and apple, stirring and cook 2-3 minutes making sure the fruit does not stick.  Add the brown sugar and salt, stirring to coat the fruit.  Add the port, pomegranate juice cinnamon stick, anise and cloves.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce the heat and allow to cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 30-40 minutes .  Remove from heat and stir in the fig balsamic.  Cover and let sit until cooled.  Remove the cinnamon stick, anise and cloves.  Store in a jar and refrigerate until ready to serve.