Friday, December 14, 2007


I always thought scones were difficult to make! Not so! You use baking soda and baking powder -- no yeast. You don't even use a mixer! The yumola recipe I used was a simple Fannie Farmer recipe from my classic Fannie Farmer cookbook (a must-have). I chose the buttermilk scone recipe because I still had some buttermilk leftover from Thanksgiving.
Here's the recipe:
"Sharon's Buttermilk Currant Scones"
3 C Flour
1/3 C plus 2 T Sugar
2 1/2 t Baking Powder
1/2 t Baking soda
3/4 t Salt
3/4 C Butter
1C Buttermilk
3/4 C Currants (I used raisins as a substitute)
1 t Grated Orange Rind (I used 1 T)
1 T Heavy Cream
1/4 t Cinnamon

Oven 400 degrees. Ungreased baking sheet. Combine flour, 1/3 cup of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir w/ fork to mix and aerate. Cut butter into flour mixture, using two knives or pastry blender until mixture looks like crumbs. Add buttermilk, currants, and orange rind. Mix only until dry ingredients are moistened. Gather dough into ball and press so it holds together. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead twelve times. Divide dough in two and pat each half into a circle 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. In a small bowl combine cream, cinnamon, and remaining 2 T sugar, stirring to blend. Brush the dough w/ this glaze. Cut each circle into eight pie-shaped pieces. Place scones slightly apart on baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until tops are slightly browned. Serve hot.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One small bag of trash . . .

Here is Ripley standing by our one small bag of trash. We have recently made a commitment to become more "green". After discovering that our trash carrier was not recycling, we have decided to head to the dump ourselves. There, we can recycle more things, plus, with our new commitment I've found recycling homes for our "stretch" plastic bags and batteries at Whole Foods. Also, at the Seekonk Department of Works on Rt. 44 (a nearby town) I was able to purchase a compost bin (that sells online for about $100) for a mere $25. So ... with all that, in one entire week we are only generating one small tall kitchen garbage bag worth of trash! Isn't that exciting?? Before our commitment we were generating one bag a day at least -- for a family of four. I have to say I have also made an effort to choose things when I'm shopping that don't have much packaging. I've been getting things from the bulk bins at Whole Foods using paper bags since I can rip those up afterwards and put them into my compost bin. I figure the less toxic plastic I use, the better for everyone -- even if it is recycled. For those of you unfamiliar with composting, you can put organic matter into this bin and after 6 months to a year (depending on your climate and the season you start) you will have beautiful FREE fertilizer for your garden and plants. What can I put in my Compost Bin? You can put all of your fruit and vegetable scraps in there, torn up paper, cardboard, toilet paper rolls, used Kleenex, used paper towel (w/o meat, dairy, chemicals) grass clippings, non-woody garden clippings (woody clippings just take longer to decompose and should go in another pile), hair (if you cut your kids hair, as I do), egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, your old jack-o-lanterns!, and hey, when you unload your fridge of things that you didn't use before they went bad ... at least you can make great dirt out of it ... put it in your compost! Next to the trash can under our sink is the kitchen compost container that Seekonk gave to me along with my $25 composter. Cool eh?

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Fabulous Flick!

Wow! After knitting Christmas gifts through the Patriots win against the Steelers, Victor and I settled into the evening by the fire to watch a movie ... and do a little more knitting! We watched The Lives of Others. It's a German film, with subtitles, set in the 1980's and "provides an exquisitely nuanced portrait of life under the watchful eye of the state police as a high-profile couple is bugged." What an INCREDIBLE FILM! It won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It has a meandering sort of pace, and of course it is subtitled, but it's worth it! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Adorable Affordable Wrapping Paper!

Here is a great way to create your own wrapping paper. Purchase a large roll of white paper or craft paper. You can find these at Walmart or Target in the area you'd find shipping supplies. These have a lot more paper per roll, are a lot sturdier and are a LOT less expensive! Draft your toddlers / preschoolers to doodle away with washable paint. To maintain a Christmas Feel ... I do limit my kiddo to green and red. (I know, not very creatively free considering I was an art major!) Also, add glitter and a little Elmers to the paint for added sparkle. If you want you can spray it with a clear sealer, but I generally don't. Wrap your gifts and tie with red or green yarn ... also very affordable from Michael's or Walmart. Plus ... good, clean, fun, entertainment for the kids! These two masterpieces were created by Ripley and his friend Ella. Another great idea is to take all of those adorable coloring & painting creations they produce mountains of -- and quarter fold them into cards!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My Boys and Our Tree

We have been purchasing our tree for the past several years at a little tree farm in Little Compton. It's totally quaint with hot chocolate, hot apple cider and cookies for 25 cents each. They replant as they sell them. To get first dibbs on a good tree, people can go to the farm after Halloween to decorate and claim their tree. Here you see our plump little fella decked out in the field ... with the boys, of course.

At Maciel's Tree Farm, they also have the classic tree swing. Here is Benjamin giving it his all ...

Our tree ... at home, and then decorated!!

Cold Weather and Winter Minestrone

What is better when the weather turns cold than a hearty soup and some warm bread? My sister-in-law Tanya requested this posting. It is a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis' book: Giada's Family Dinners (worth buying!) with a few changes and is super fabulous. I know that it took me some time to successfully make soup that tastes good. Here is a no-fail recipe. Easy, quick to make and delicious!

A word about chopping. Macrobiotic cooks have it right ... the way you cut the food matters. I don't know that it gives the food different energies ... but it certainly has a big impact on taste. Sorry, but it does. A big huge 1/4" thick round of carrot just doesn't taste as good as a 1/8" thick slice cut into quarters. Having several vegetables in one spoonful adds to the taste. That's nearly impossible with a big-ole hunk of carrot and a chunk of celery. Not the same. As the picture shows, cut the carrot / celery stalk the long way in half, and then the long way about 4 times like a carrot stick you'd put in your kids lunch box. Then chop in 1/8" thick slices. Yumola! Plus, your soup will cook faster! :)
OK enough editorializing ... here's the recipe!
2 T olive oil
1 t salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped small
3 carrots, peeled and chopped small ('nough said on that!)
4-5 celery stalks, chopped small
3 oz thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped (I keep a big chunk that I bought on "The Hill" (the Italian District, in Providence) in the freezer. Or get some sliced from the deli and keep it in the freezer.)
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves chopped small enough to fit on the spoon. (who wants a big floppy drippy leafy thing dangling off your spoonful of soup?) You can omit this if you must. I have a child who will not eat leafy "salad" soups.
1 potato peeled and cubed.
1 large can diced tomatoes in juice
1 - 2 T fresh rosemary - chopped, maybe 1 T if dried rosemary
2 cans cannellini beans (or white navy beans if you don't appreciate large beans), drained and rinsed
1 32 oz box of low sodium chicken broth
Chunk of Parmesan cheese rind (Giada notes that this adds richness ... "salty, buttery goodness" to the soup)
2 T fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Heat oil in large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, pancetta, garlic, salt and pepper. Saute until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add Swiss chard and potato; saute for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice and rosemary. Simmer about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a food processor, blender, or hand-held blender, combine one can of the beans with 1 cup of the broth and blend until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer until potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in other can of drained, rinsed beans and the chopped parsley. Simmer until beans are heated through and soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Taste and add any needed salt or pepper. ** I find this soup is even better if you have the time to let it simmer for a longer period of time. Ideally, 30-45 minutes.**
Eat with warm bread!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Line Drying my Laundry - INDOORS

Here is my .... clean laundry ... for everyone to see! Some of you may know that my sister-in-law started drying her clothes indoors (during the cold months) in an effort to live GREEN. Inspired by a series she heard God is Green by Mars Hill. See By not using her electric dryer four loads out of five she reduced her electric bill by 40%. (Two months in a row) Wow. When she told me, I jumped in. (I've never been so excited to see my electric bill ... it's due and it just doesn't seem to come!) A few of you have inquired about the logistics of doing such a thing -- especially if space is limited. Here are a few things I've learned: If you keep up with your laundry and simply do one load a day, almost everything fits onto two racks. My other sister-in-law who is giving this a try here and there and has limited space says that if you put your laundry out in the evening, it's pretty much dry by morning. So, you don't have to look at it all day. I'll let you know how my electric bill looks when it comes . . .

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Little Sportsman

Here is a funny one .... I was putting socks on Ripley's feet this morning. (My three year old) They were cute green socks from the Gap with a camoflage print on the inside that shows when you turn them down like a bobby sock. I was turning them down and Ripley stopped me. "No, pull them up like this (he yanks them up his shin) .... like soccer!" My little sportsman. He cracks me up with his zeal for sports.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey Hash in the Morning . . .

What to do with Thanksgiving leftovers?
This morning I made what I think is my best effort (so far to date) at making Turkey Hash, served with poached eggs.
Here is the recipe:

Olive oil for pan
1 onion finely chopped
1 stalk celery finely chopped
1/2 t dried sage
Salt and Pepper to your taste
Leftover Turkey - finely chopped (1 to 1 1/2 C)
Leftover Stuffing - bigger chunks of bread chopped smaller (1 C)
Leftover Mashed Potatoes (1 C)

Drizzle olive oil in wide skillet. Add onion, celery, sage, s & p to taste - cook med low until translucent. Add turkey - put top on pan and let turkey soften and break down a little. Add stuffing & mashed potatoes and stir until well combined. (Start your poached eggs in separate pan) Turn burner up on high. Pull everything to one side of the pan - drizzle a little more oil onto the pan, pile hash onto the oiled part of the pan and if you have one put a grill weight (or brick covered w/ foil) onto hash and cook until crispy. Serve with poached eggs and Portuguese spicy red pepper sauce on top -- Yumola!!!

Making Grandmom Wohler's Dinner Rolls

For Thanksgiving I decided at the last minute to make my Grandmom Wohler's dinner rolls. Here is Ripley (3) helping. I got up early in the morning to make Cranberry Harvest Muffins with hazelnuts from Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase for breakfast. (I omitted the figs, b/c I didn't have any and figs seemed a bit heavy. I also added orange zest). (see Victor and Ripley below enjoying them right out of the oven ... ) After the muffins I started dough for the dinner rolls. When they came out of the oven we all starting gobbling them down with butter ... before Thanksgiving dinner! Who can resist freshly baked bread hot out of the oven?! They were wonderful ... and worth it.
For those of you who'd like to try . . . here is the recipe:
Grandmom Wohler's Dinner Rolls
2 C Milk
1/2 C Crisco
1/2 C Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Pkg. Yeast
5 C Flour
1 t Salt
Scald Milk (ie: bring almost to boiling where little bubbles start forming on edge of sauce pan). Cool a little, then add Crisco. In separate bowl, mix together sugar and eggs. Add to milk mixture. Cool to lukewarm and add yeast. Add 3 Cups of flour and stir. Let sit 15 minutes. Add rest of flour a little at a time, adding 1 teaspoon salt with last addition. Stir until you can stir no more, then work with hands on a floured surface until you can stick you finger in and pull it out clean. Make large ball and put in greased bowl. Cover w/ wax paper and let rise until it doubles. Punch air out and let rise again until it doubles. Make rolls (a little over 1 x 2 inches) Set on baking sheet and let rise until double. Rolls: bake at almost 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Bread: bake 325 degrees.

Cranberry Sauce ... as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Growing up, we always put a great amount of effort in to food, and the Thanksgiving celebration - pretty much everything is homemade. But even to this day, we still have cranberry sauce out of the can. It's not bad. This year I had an extra bag of cranberries and when looking for a turkey brine recipe I ran into a recipe for cranberry sauce. It is so simple and so easy!

Here is the basic recipe:
1 bag of fresh cranberries (12 oz)
1 C sugar
1 C water
Bring to boil, then lower to simmer - for 10 minutes. DONE!

Of course in my typical fashion I thought to myself, ooooo . . . some orange might be good ... and what about a dash of cinnamon? Here is what I ended up with ... still VERY easy, and it doesn't have that can shape when you are finished!

1 bag fresh cranberries (12 oz)
1 C sugar
1/3 C water
Juice of one orange
Zest of 1/2 orange
Chunk of fresh ginger - (remove later)
Shake of cinnamon
Dash of salt (to bring out sweetness)
Bring to boil, then lower to simmer - for 10 minutes.

It got great reviews yesterday! Yumola.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Food For Thought

Do you know that the average distance your food travels to get to you is 1200 miles? Wow. Think about all of the gas / energy that was used to get your food to you. Wow. So, if you are doing your best to recycle when you can, turning off your lights when not in use, driving less ... have you thought about eating locally? Here is my beautiful new locally raised turkey that I just picked up from Belwing Turkey Farm in Seekonk, MA. The true meaning of "fresh", packed on ice, wrapped in parchment paper and carried from the farm to my car. Wow. If you are from this area, there is also another local turkey farm in Rehoboth, MA called Rainbow Turkey Farm. Eat Locally. 1200 miles?? Enjoy! Happy Baking!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Adorable Cousins

Here are three adorable cousins Ripley, Rosalie (in a dress of course), and Benjamin helping to gather wood for the fireplace. Good clean fun.

Time to KNIT a GIFT

It's that time of year. You're thinking "Maybe I'll knit a scarf for Aunt Ethel for Christmas." After putting my scarf on the back burner for over a year, it is finally finished. The pattern I used is a great if you are tired of the garter stitch, have experienced the accordian effect when using a rib stitch, or the curling effect when using a straight stitch. Ironically this stitch is called the "Mistake Rib Stitch" which is simply a combination of multiples of 4 stitches (K2, P2), plus 3 (K2, P1) -- both sides. So depending on how wide you want your scarf and how thick your yarn is, cast on any multiple of 4 stitches, plus 3. I cast on 39 stitches for this scarf (worsted yarn). 9 x 4 = 36 + 3 = 39. The scarf ended up being about 6 inches wide. Enjoy!
(Soon I'll write you about the crocheted beret, which is from an old pattern I dug up from the early 1900's.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Time for PIE!

It is time for PIE! As many of you know, I am a big supporter of making your own pie crust. I have been making one handed down to me from Benjamin's Nana, and it's simply not that hard, and better than anything ready-made. I'm sorry ... but it's better. It is also an oil crust, which is a lot healthier than a butter crust. Trust me, no one will complain. Here is the recipe for those of you who'd like to try it ....

For ONE 8-9" pie crust
(you will need to make two of these for a typical "double crust" pie. Benjamin's Nana always swore that making one big batch and cutting it in half made the crust tough)

1 C plus 2 T King Arthur Unbleached Flour (Nana says no other will do)
1/2 t salt
1/3 C vegetable oil
2 T Ice Cold Water (or less)

Before you start . . . remember these words: Don't over mix! Gently fold over ingredients until it holds together, no more.

Mix flour and salt together. (Add wet ingredients all at once) Add oil and 1 1/2 of the T's of water to the center of the flour / salt. Tenderly fold ingredients together with a fork until mostly combined and looks like dough. Don't over mix or mix quickly. Go slowly. If you need the remaining water (there is still too much flour that's not moist) add it in. Even if there is partly moistened flour around the bowl, just gather it all together into a ball. Less handling the better. Put dough between two pieces of waxed paper and roll out. (It's very hard to roll this out without the waxed paper -- plus you'll be adding additional flour which will make it tougher)

That's it!
Fill with your favorite fruit -- as for pie and bake!!
(for added asthetics, you can brush with milk or cream and sprinkle a little sugar on top)

An Old Summertime Treat

Yes, I know it's not summertime. However, my mother at long last dug out an old recipe that I loved as a child. Here it is (copy it and keep it in a safe place until summertime ... it will be worth the wait!) ....

Raspberry Rhubarb Dessert

1 lb (3c) rhubarb
1 10 oz pkg froz raspberries -- fresh, even better!
1/2 c sugar
3 T cornstarch
1 1/2 c flour
1 c brown sugar
1 c quick oatmeal
1 t cinnamon
1/2 c melted butter

Thaw and drain fruit and add water to make 1 C Combine sugar and cornstarch blend in liquid and cook and stir until thick and clear. Cover, add fruit and remove from heat. Cool. Mix rest of ingredients and put 2/3 on bottom of 9x9 pan, cover with fruit mixture & sprinkle with remaining crumbs. 325 for 1 hour


Friday, November 9, 2007


Over the past two weeks, after hearing an On Point segment on WBUR - regarding the safety of plastics and our food called Our Toxic Environment, I started researching the subject and chatting with friends regarding our health and our environment. Another segment on On Point that is interesting is The-Body-Chemistry-of-America. Here are some of the things I've discovered:

Do not use plastic with a #7 in the recycling triangle. This type of plastic seeps chemicals (Bisphenol A or BPA and phthalates) into the liquid or food it contains. About Bisphenol A, Parenting Magazine (sept. 2007) commented "A chemical in some plastics called bisphenol A (BPA) — which has been linked with cancer, impaired immune function, hyperactivity, and other problems — can leach into a bottle's contents."There's no need to be frightened, but you should try to reduce your baby's exposure to this chemical," says pediatrician Harvey Karp, M.D., a board member of Healthy Child Healthy World, a non-profit group that raises awareness about environmental toxins." In rats phthalates have caused hormonal problems, non-cancerous tumors, genetal diformities. In humans, asthma, allergies, low sperm counts in men have been "statistically linked" to phthalates. An article in USA Today by Elizabeth Weise and Liz Szabo said "Europe took it (phthalates) out of toys years ago," Borrone says. "Why are we so behind?" Her home state is catching up with her. This month, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the country's first ban on the use of phthalates in toys and other children's products. Under the law, any product made for young children that contains more than one-tenth of 1% of phthalates cannot be sold or distributed in California beginning in 2009."
You may use plastic with a #5 in the recycling triangle, but do not wash it in the dishwasher or heat it in the microwave -- as the heat allows the plastic to release the chemicals into your food / liquid. And as the plastic gets older or scratched it must be recycled b/c the wear and scratches allow for the chemicals to seep.
I've decided to reduce my use of plastic and get rid of my tupperware and plastic sippy cups / water bottles.
Here are some good resources if you're interested.
For lunches: Wrap your sandwiches in good ole' fashioned wax paper like your mom used to (my mom did anyway).
For sippy cups / water bottles: Kleancanteen has great metal options. The plastic that is on the cup is non seeping.
For sippy cup with handles: Thermos has a metal sippy cup with handles for younger ones.
For tupperware alternatives: Williams-Sonoma has great glass food storage containers, although they are a little pricey -- but they are airtight with a metal top and can go in the freezer. Very cool! Also, Crate-and-Barrel also offers cute glass storage containers with glass tops.
Other environmental accomplishments:
I'm committed to drinking filtered water in a water bottle (not plastic of course). After doing some reading, my sister-in-law reported to me that recycling plastics is the most toxic form of recycling. Better to recycle, but better still not to create the piles of plastic that needs to be recycled. I'm just trying to do my part.
I'm trying not to use plastic wrap or ziplock baggies. I'm using my new glass storage containers instead. We'll see how it goes.
My sister-in-law saved 40% on her electric bill for the past two months. Want to know how? Air drying her clothes (indoors) rather than in her electric dryer. Wow! As an experiment, for the past week I've air dried my clothes. It was not that difficult, and I felt so good about accomplishment that it made laundry a lot more fun.
Well, that's a lot of information for you to munch on. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Halloween Festivities

Here are a few pictures of Halloween Festivities. As you can see, Ripley was Underdog. Ripley was also able to wear his costume to his friend Ella's birthday party. Benjamin was with his other dad this year, but was able to join us at the Carnegie Abby Halloween Party where my mom and dad dressed up like Roman Soldiers. Here, you can see
Benjamin trying on one of the costumes. I dressed up as Frida Khalo.
I'll see if I can find a picture.

Pumkin Bread Recipe

What a better place to start than food? It is a cool fall day here in New England. Both of my boys are home. One with Strep Throat, one with a double ear infection. I have succumbed to the television. Low expectations for today. It's okay. We have a fire started in the fire place, I'm brewing up some tea ... so I'll pass along our favorite pumpkin bread recipe from Martha Stewart:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter - room temp,
3 T molasses
2 C sugar
4 eggs
2/3 C orange juice or water
2 C pumpkin or squash puree
3 1/3 C flour (I usually put 1 C or more of Whole Wheat Flour)
1/2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground cloves (I've used allspice in a pinch)
1 C raisins
(I add 1 C walnuts also)
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Butter three 9x5x3 inch loaf pans
Cream butter, molasses, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time until light and fluffy. Beat until light and lemon colored. Add OJ and pumpkin puree and mix well.
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the pumpkin mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon (this makes bread very tender - not tough) to thoroughly combine all elements. Stir in raisins and nuts.
Spoon into pans.
Bake 1 hour.
Cool in pans for 10 min. then turn out onto cooling racks.