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I am a simple country girl who loves life and lives it to the fullest. I cook for one of the greatest families ever. Cooking is my passion and I consider it as well to be my gift.

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Saturday, August 25, 2012


If you know me, you know that I cook. Boy oh boy, do I ever! I consider cooking to be not only my passion but my gift. Not everyone is lucky enough to know what their gift is. I have cooked for many different families through the years and each one has brought something 'to the table', so to say, that has helped to broaden my horizons. 

"Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements."~Marcel Boulestin, from "Petits et grands plats"

Last night I did a dinner party for the family that I work full time for (actually that would be 5 months out of the year), and it was the lady of the house's birthday. Rack of Lamb starred as the main course along with sides of fresh stewed corn cut from the cob and a lovely Spinach Herb Rice Bake. But the stand out star of the evening was the salad. I had made it many times before using the recipe from one of the 'house cookbooks', but on this evening I could not find the book, so I just made it up as I went. 
5 large avocados-peeled-sliced in halves and pitted
1 8-ounce pkg. softened cream cheese
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup diced black olives
1 lemon half-juiced (use a fresh lemon PLEASE!)
Combine cream cheese, pecans, black olives and lemon juice. Spoon mixture into the cavities of the avocados, being sure to end up with a smooth surface. Place the stuffed avocado halves together. Now slice the ends off and keep slicing until you have solid 'stuffed' slices. Place two slices on each plate of salad greens and top with a clear French vinaigrette. My personal favorite is by La Martinique True French Vinaigrette. www.LaMartiniqueDressing.com You'll be so glad you did! Enjoy....it's a simple, beautiful, and some where beyond delicious thing. I received a standing ovation for this amazing first course. In this humble cooks eyes, that means everything to me.

"I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation."~Madame Benoit 

Saturday, August 11, 2012


When the cool Fall weather starts rolling back in, my mind turns to the warming nourishment of a pretty pottery bowl, brimming with a heart-warming soup. The possibilities are infinitely endless. The only kitchen utensils you need are a sharp chef's knife, a big heavy bottomed pot and a large wooden spoon. Following are four of my own personal favorites....nothing to complicated....and all delicious and soul-satisfying. Enjoy!

"Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches it's resources to give you a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who is also capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests?...Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. But soup knows the difference. Soup is sensitive. You don't catch steak hanging around when you're poor and sick, do you?"~Judith Martin

1 cup of chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
20 oz. chicken or vegetable stock
1 16oz. can cooked, mashed pumpkin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
1 cup whipping cream, evaporated milk or half-and-half
Saute onion in butter in a medium saucepan until tender. Add 10oz. chicken stock; stir well. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
Pour broth mixture into container of electric blender and process until smooth. Return mixture to saucepan. Add remaining 10oz. chicken broth, pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, ginger and pepper; stir well. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and cook until thoroughly heated (do not boil). Ladle into individual soup bowls. 6 cups. Top each serving with:
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 slices whole wheat bread
Combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon; stir well. Spread butter mixture evenly over one side of bread slices. Place bread, buttered side up on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until bread is crisp and topping is bubbly. Cut each slice of bread into 8 small triangles or squares. 32 croutons

"The bishop smiled approvingly. A soup like this is not the work of one man, he said, it is the result of a constantly refined tradition. There are nearly a thousand years of history in this soup.~Willa Cather

1 large onion
3 large ribs of celery
3 medium carrots
3 1/2 lbs. organic chicken
3 quarts water
1 cup long grain brown rice
1/3 cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
Coarsely chop onion, celery and carrots crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Remove the giblets from the chicken and reserve for another use.
In a 5qt. heavy pot combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer soup, covered, 1 hour, and if necessary skim fat. Transfer chicken to a colander and when cool enough to handle discard skin and bones. Coarsely shred meat and return to soup. Season soup with salt and pepper and reheat if necessary. Makes 4 quarts. Serves 6 to 8
COOKS NOTE: The grains from the rice expand and become fluffy while the starch thickens the soup and gives it body, resulting in an extra-comforting take on this perennial cure-all.

"Imagine if you can what the rest of the evening was like. How they crouched by the fire which blazed and leaped and made much of itself in the little grate. How they removed the corners of the dishes, and found rich, hot savory soup, which was a meal in itself, and sandwiches and toast and muffins enough for both of them.~Frances Hodgson Burnett

1 lb. ground beef
1 15oz. can each of corn, green beans, Ranch or Chili beans, pintos and stewed tomatoes
1 12oz. can beer
1 10oz. can diced tomatoes and green chiles
1 packet of Taco seasoning mix
1 packet of Ranch dressing mix
5 (6-inch) corn tortillas
sea salt
Brown beef in large soup pot, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Return beef to pot.
Rinse and drain corn, green beans and pintos; stir into beef. Stir in Ranch beans, stewed tomatoes, beer, tomatoes with green chiles, taco seasoning and Ranch dressing mix. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cut tortillas into 1/4-inch strips, place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and top with tortilla strips. Makes 10 cups.

"The best kind of onion soup is the simplest kind."~Ambrose Bierce

4 tablespoons butter
6 cups thinly sliced sweet onions
2 tablespoons flour
6 cups beef broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons brandy
6 slices French bread-toasted
6 slices Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in large soup pot. Add onions and saute over medium heat until lightly browned, add flour and blend well. Stir in beef broth, wine, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add brandy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I love summertime....and one of my favorite things about it is the abundance of fresh fruits and produce available at the local farmer's markets. I love to move and groove through the  isles, searching for the ripest melons, the freshest cucumbers, the reddest tomatoes....and my own personal favorite fresh market item....white peaches.

I buy them by the basket full and turn out such tasty treats as White Peach Cobblers, Peaches & Cream Pies, Homemade White Peach Ice Cream, White Peach Freezer Jam and Grilled White Peaches that show their stuff on a lovely salad. 
And besides just eating one every morning in my Raisin Bran, my most favorite way to enjoy the voluptuous white peach is in a stately pound cake. All heads begin to swoon and eyes have been known to roll around in heads at the sight and smell of this mouth watering cake. My best advice for you today is to head to your local Farmer's Market and search for the lovely white peaches and try out this wonderful recipe. I promise you from the bottom of my peach pickin' heart that you will be so peachy glad that you did.
And now for the recipe:

2 sticks real butter...no nasty margarine for this cake..trust me
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mashed white peaches
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, after each addition.
Combine flour, soda, salt. Combine sour cream and peaches. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with peach mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until blended after each addition. Stir in flavorings.
Pour batter into a Crisco greased and flour coated Bundt or tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes; remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

Yield: 1 big beautiful pound cake...Enjoy!
"I never met a White Peach Pound Cake that I didn't like!"~Adele Forbes