The Cavalier Dog

I’m not talking about a nonchalant puppy. I’m talking about a 15-year-old’s foray into the kitchen.

When our son’s baseball team (The Cavaliers) wins, he’s hungry. It’s a physical hunger mixed with the thrill of victory. That’s when the mood is high and the appetite is strong. After a win on the first day of a tournament, he asked on the way home:

“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

“Pasta with meat marinara sauce, I thought we would do some carb loading for your games tomorrow.”

“Do we have any hot dogs?” he asked.

“Yes, but we are having pasta with meat sauce.”

“I know, I want that, but do we have any hot dogs? I have something I want to do.”

“Knock yourself out.” I thought to myself.

He came up with a hot dog on a bun topped with pasta and meat/marinara sauce. Was it that good he will make it again? I don’t think so, but that’s not the point.

This is where it starts with our kids. Let them go in the kitchen when they’re motivated, even if it’s not in the game plan. This is the beginning – the training – for how they will one day enjoy feeding their own families. And the kitchen isn’t just for girls. In this family, all of us consider it meaningful work to feed the family and our friends.

It’s a Rickey (not a Lucy!)

There’s lots of summer left so try a fruity twist on a traditional Gin Rickey. I used frozen cherries here but you can also use fresh peaches for a summer treat. How about tonight?

  • 2 tablespoons sugar dissolved in 3 tablespoons of warm water (or substitute one tablespoon of Stevia)
  • 1 cup frozen, pitted cherries
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 2 cups club soda (or seltzer)
  • 1/2 cup gin
  • 10 drops of Angostura bitters
  • Ice cubes

Puree frozen cherries and lime juice in a blender. Add the sugar water, club soda, gin and bitters. Blend until smooth.

Serves about 4 in rocks glasses over ice. Garnish with a lime and a cherry.

That Blanche, She’s a Peach!

Every time I run across the term “blanche” in a recipe I think of Blanche DuBois, the southern femme fatale from the Tennessee William’s play, A Streetcar Named Desire.”  I can’t help it, I guess English majors just think this way.

The biggest hassle about making peach pie or cobbler is removing that fuzzy skin. Blanching is the best way. Here’s how: score a small X at the base of each peach. Put the peaches into boiling water and simmer for about a minute or less. Remove the peaches and place immediately into a bowl of ice water and let stand for one minute. Remove and peel.

After the Blanching, a Fresh Peach Crisp

Here’s a quick and easy dessert for fresh peaches. You can adjust the sugar content to your taste. If you have dietary concerns, use something like Stevia.

  • 6 cups of fresh, sliced peaches (about 6 peaches)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (or desired amount or alternate sweetener)
  • 3 tablespoons of flour (to thicken the peaches)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour (for the topping)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened butter
  • 1/4 cups nuts, if desired
  • 1/4 cup coconut, if desired

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine peaches, sugar and flour. Put in greased 1-1/2 to 2-quart casserole dish.

For topping, mix oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until you have coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts and/or coconut. Sprinkle topping over peaches in baking dish.

Bake for 35 minutes or until peaches are tender and topping is browned.

P.S.: If you ask me, Blanche DuBois could have used a little dip in the ice water.

Where the Cookie Meets the Tea Towel

Jennifer was a few years older and worldlier than my tender age of 12, but there was some kind of powerful lure that had me walking to Jennifer’s house every day that summer. Jennifer, her mom and the other sister baked. It didn’t matter if it was 90 degrees outside with no central air conditioning, that oven went on in the morning and produced chewy gooey cookies and shortcakes.

I was fascinated with the hundreds of oven-fresh cookies lined up on tea towels. I visited, I ate, and I collected recipes and duplicated them at home – all summer long. Whoopie pies, Ranger Joe cookies, chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, gingersnaps, and so forth and so on.

This summer, I’ve been baking cookies just like I remembered. I line them up on tea towels, just like Jennifer’s mom did, and our son and his friends grab and go. I hope the summer cookie experience goes into their “great-memories-of summer-growing-up” memory bank. Even if they don’t, they’re enjoying the regular treats. For me, it’s all about the memories.

Molasses Cookies
These soft, chewy cookies are from the Silver Palate Cookbook. Don’t expect them to be crisp, they are not gingersnaps. I took them to another level by sandwiching them with vanilla ice cream.

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks), melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter, add sugar and molasses and mix thoroughly. Lightly beat the egg and add to butter mixture; blend well.

Sift flour with spices, salt and baking soda, and add to the first mixture. Batter will be wet.
Lay a sheet of foil on a cookie sheet. Drop tablespoons of cookie batter on foil, leaved three inches between the cookies. These will spread during baking.

Bake until cookies start to darken, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on foil. Carefully peel off the foil.

Tiny Beers

Good things come in small packages. When the boss treated our staff after a long day’s work at the HLAA Convention this summer, we marveled at something none of us had tasted before.

Anna poured Licor 43, Cuarents Y Tes into small shot-type glasses. Then she lightly dribbled a bit of heavy cream on top of the Licor 43. At first it looked like it would mix together but the right amount of cream allowed it to rise to the top. The result – something that looked like a tiny beer!

Licor 43 is made up of citrus fruit and botanicals and its predominant flavor is vanilla, caramel, and honey. A little dash of cream makes it a drinkable dessert. I look forward to serving this and surprising my guests the way we were surprised.

Isn’t it fun to discover something new? We all thought so! See, work can be fun.

So That’s What the Burner on the Gas Grill is For!

It’s summer and I can’t even think about heating up the oven or making a mess on the stove. But I wanted to try to make homemade potato chips in a healthy oil, but deep fat-frying is not something I ever do.

Eureka! So that’s why they put a gas burner on the gas grill! Make the chips and serve them hot while dinner is cooking on the grill. Hot chips, a savory blue cheese dip and cold beer – what a hit (and dinner hadn’t even started yet!).

Potato Chips with Savory Blue Cheese Dip

Season your chips with anything like Old Bay, pepper, BBQ dry rub, etc. I used sea salt because of the blue cheese dip. You can also make any kind of dip or use a fresh produce-section blue cheese dressing. Even basic Heinz Ketchup makes a great dip with chips seasoned with freshly-ground black pepper.


  • 2 large baking potatoes, peeled, sliced lengthwise thinly on a mandolin slicer (hold at room temp, no need to put in water, it’s okay if they turn a little brown)
  • 3 cups of canola oil

Heat the oil in a large saucepan to very hot, about 375 degrees. A good test is to splash a few drops of water in the oil and if it sizzles and spurts, it’s ready to go.

Fry small batches of potatoes, turning as they brown to the desired color (about 5 minutes)

Drain on paper towels, season with salt or desired seasonings and serve immediately.

Blue Cheese Dip

  • 1/2 cup shallots, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups milk, warmed to almost simmering
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or fresh chives, chopped

Saute shallots in butter until soft, about five minutes. Add flour and whisk for a minute. Whisk in one cup of milk until thick, add extra milk for desired consistency. Serve warm or chilled. Top with fresh herbs and more blue cheese if you wish. You can make this first on that same outdoor burner before you start the chips. Or make the day ahead.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

Me and the girls were putting on a celebration dinner for a friend. I had eight sunflowers I hastily picked up at the grocery store. I had no idea what I would do with them beyond putting them in a vase.

I grabbed some scissors and went foraging through a strange yard and found fresh mint growing wildly in long stalks. (The owner of the home said, “I had no idea I had mint in my yard!”) I found a Magnolia tree and cut some grand, green shiny leaves.

Wrap a little burlap around the whole spontaneous display and we had a summer centerpiece.

Like I said, bloom where you’re planted. Have a wonderful summer day! Thank you for reading.