French Apple Cake- Happy October!

I’ve been planning on this cake for at least a month.

I saw it here , on America’s Test Kitchen, and wanted it.

They eat the cake right in front of you and my mouth watered.

When we went apple picking I was thinking of this cake.

On my son’s birthday I was thinking of this cake.

And today I made it!


It is easy to make- has a custard layer, an apple layer and a light cake layer.  And-

it is as good as I hoped it would be!

So, “happy birthday!”  if you have an October birthday-  I’m celebrating with this cake!


I raise my cup of deep plum cinnamon tea and salute Autumn, Apples, and Appetites

everywhere.  The recipe is   here – and they have some scientific stuff to explain

how this is as good as it is- I didn’t have Calvados to put into the apples so I used

brandy instead.


This is , absolutely the best apple cake I’ve ever had.

In my Kitchen- October 2013

Today is my son’s 35th birthday.  If he lived closer

there would be a cake in his honor.  But since he

lives several states away- and always celebrates

his birthday with a trip to an apple orchard for some

fresh picked apples…

In my kitchen…


there are apples!  Golden delicious, Jonagold and Jonathan.  I was going to make

a pie or sauce – but in my kitchen are also apple lovers- and the basket is getting

emptier!  Isn’t this a lovely basket?  It is an egg basket- so constructed to keep the

eggs from breaking when gathered- and it keeps the apples from bruising as well!


And it is also just a lovely basket!

In my kitchen…


are some lovely teas Meredith brought home.  The Turkish apple and cinnamon is

my favorite- along with a deep plum tea that I made into an iced beverage!  And

aren’t the mugs beautiful?  They are in my son, Jordan’s kitchen now- she brought

them home from Canberra in her backpack and they made it without even a chip!

In my kitchen…


my latest harvest of Swiss chard- which I put into a sausage, bean,and potato soup-


that is so good and savory!   I love Autumn- soups and stews are perfect for dinner!

In my kitchen…


are basil and tomatoes from the garden.

In my kitchen…


is this ceramic knife- perfect for chopping basil so it won’t turn black on the edges.

In my kitchen…


is this salad with fresh tomatoes, onions, basil and sourdough bread – add a little olive oil and

balsamic vinegar and we are talking delicious!

And in my kitchen…

in the oven right now…


is a stew of butternut squash, candy onions and pork loin doused with olive oil and dusted

with thyme, oregano, basil, roasted garlic and smoky paprika.


And last- but not least- in my kitchen…


is my new oven/range!  All the burners work- and the oven keeps an even temperature!

So that’s it for this month- lots of food and good times!  I didn’t show you any bread pictures

but there is plenty of that in my kitchen, too!

Go to Celia’s blog for a whole list of In my kitchen posts- it is great fun to see all the stuff

and foods and recipes people share from their kitchens!

Vanilla Rich!

I have pretty simple “happy” indicators.

A bowl of lavender, an unread book, a good cup

of tea, a visit from loved ones, and a handful of

vanilla beans-  add them together and I have had

a great month!

Meredith is my vanilla bean supplier.  She knows my

happiness level rises pretty high when I have vanilla

at hand- and last week I got a shipment of beans-  I AM



Tahitian, Madagascar,Ugandan, Indian, Mexican- so many exotic beans!

I decided to make some vanilla right away with the Mexican beans- they

are smoky and spicy with just a hint of cinnamon.


I sealed up the rest of the beans in a glass container- they are vacuum packed-

and still soft in their packages, but vanilla beans dry out quickly, and keep better

in glass jars.  DON’T buy dried out hard beans at a cooking store.  If they aren’t soft

then the beans are pretty useless as the seeds are dried out and can’t be scraped



I had a small bottle of vodka- I like Grey Goose for distilling the

beans- but it is a matter of personal taste.




I removed 5 beans from the package and slit them lengthwise to open

the bean and release the seeds.


Drop them into the vodka and shake gently for a few seconds.


I cut the label from the bean package since I already have a vanilla and

wanted to keep this one with just the Mexican beans.


This is my working vanilla- I used Belvedere vodka and it is pretty smooth-

there are several varieties of beans in this extract- I like it for regular baking.

This is several years old- look how dark it is!


And here is my latest- still not ready to use- but look how dark it got in

just a couple of weeks!  This is just a small bottle and I added a lot of

beans for the amount of vodka.

But I really like making my own extract- it tastes better-there are no artificial

coloring or flavors- and I get to play with vanilla beans! Plus, and this is a big

PLUS, it tastes better!

Best ever- Crispy Oat cookies- recipe

Some recipes are just too good to lose.

Meredith asked for these cookies last week and I couldn’t find

the recipe.  Sad smile  I was sure I had posted it here, somewhere, in the

archives.  But no.  I hadn’t.


These really are the best oat cookies I’ve ever had.

The recipe however is hard for some people to see.

Once they’ve eaten the cookies they can overlook the amount of shortening

in them, but – well- see for yourself. And this makes over 9 dozen cookies.


1 cup butter

1 cup sugar (white, granulated)

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 cups AP flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup oatmeal

1 cup crushed corn flakes

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup nuts, chopped fine


Mix together butter and sugars until all sugar is incorporated into butter, add

oil and vanilla.  Beat together well, until fluffy, they add dry ingredients, stirring

together until you have a solid dough.  Make into 1 inch balls and flatten with fork,

I round up the edges to keep them from looking raggedy with the coconut.

Bake in preheated oven at 325 F for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Then leave on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before moving them to a

cooling rack.

At this point they are delicious and crunchy- but then I dip them in white chocolate

and sprinkle with chopped nuts.  So good- these are hard to keep in the cookie jar!


In My Kitchen- September 2013

I am not presently in my kitchen-

I’m in Virginia at my niece’s kitchen- but I am

prepared with some pictures from home and adding

some pictures from here.

Here goes- if you’d like to join us- go to Celia’s blog-

Fig jam and Lime cordial  and check out all of the posts!

In my kitchen…


is my favorite cookie jar- I filled it with cookies before I

left for Frank’s lunch desserts.

I love this jar because it has been loved for a long time.

It is old and the lid broke, but someone fixed another one

to fit.


And then they added a cork handle and painted it to match the

roses.  I get good vibes from this jar- it makes me happy!

In my kitchen…


rice pudding!  Another old thing that makes me happy.

My brother, Bruce used to make a 9×13 pan of this when

I was a young girl and if I was lucky and he wasn’t too hungry

he’d share some.  I think this is one of my most favorite comfort


In my kitchen…


canary melon- from one of the shops in town.


Tastes like a honeydew- and delicious with fresh figs!

In my kitchen…


fresh figs.

In my kitchen…


grilled chicken from the farmer’s market- slow grilled after

we rubbed it with spices and herbs and let it marinate for hours.

In my kitchen…    


lavender cookies.

In my kitchen…


Thing one and…



BREAD!!! Yes- I travel with my sourdough!

In my kitchen…


Fresh local butter.


That is it for this month- thanks for stopping by!

Leave a comment if you are so inclined- I love to hear from you.

Baking Memories- Elderberry Pie

I remember my mother making pie in the summer

and autumn.  There was no time to make pies in the

winter or spring because she had to transplant all those

little seedlings all day long.

But in the late summer and early fall- there was pie!

One of my favorite was the elderberry pies she would bake.

Since there were 9 of us in our family – it was never just one pie

– there were always at least two- more likely 4 pies to make at

a time- and they would usually be gone within  a couple of days.

But the elderberry pies were magical for me.

Elderberries grew in our backyard- and we waited  until

they were

heavy and purple and then we picked them by the armful.

The berries as small as bb shot- and the flavor raw too intense to really

enjoy- we would roll the heads clean into a stainless steel bowl out on the

picnic table and when we finally got enough to make a pie- one of us little

girls would run them into the kitchen and empty them into a bigger bowl and

then we would start over filling the bowl.  It took 4 cups of elderberries to

make a pie and our thumbs and forefingers would turn purple as we deftly

took hold of a small branch of berries and rolled them off the tiny little

twigs holding them on.  We would have to keep those little twigs out of the

bowl- as well as the tiny spiders that were hanging out on those branches.


4 cups of elderberries, 1 cup of white sugar, 2-3 Tablespoons of lemon juice,

4 Tablespoons of cornstarch and a tiny bit of water cooked together until the

mixture boiled.  Then set aside to cool down.  Poured into a crust filled 9inch

pie plate, dotted with butter , lightly dusted with a teaspoon of cinnamon and

covered with a top crust.  Baked in a 375 degree F oven for 50 minutes until the

berries bubble up in the crust and it is all golden brown and purple.



Elderberry pie.

Like my momma used to make.  Smile

International Scone Week- Scones- American Style

I have been eating scones for a long time.

And personally, I like them better UK style.

And Australian style, too, for that matter.

Here in the United States, we have a tendency to add

stuff inside and make them more like a cookie.

We make scokies.  More like a sweet biscuit with

lots of fruit and chocolate inside.

Whereas in the UK, they are like a big fluffy American style,

but slightly sweet biscuits.

Actually- language fails me- it is all English- but we don’t

have the same definitions- like for scones?


So- since I am an American I went with this scone- Peach Cobbler Scones.

They are light and kind of fluffy- sweet and cinnamon”y” and filled with peaches.


They went really well with a cup of Darjheeling tea.


And the peaches I used were spectacular.

But I didn’t like them as much as I do UK cream scones with jam and clotted cream.

So- here is the recipe- I got it off of Pinterest.

Peach Cobbler Scones

3 cups AP flour

1/4 c granulated sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 tsp salt

1/2 c cold butter, chapped into small cubes

1/4 c shortening

1 egg, beaten

3/4 c cold buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

1 peach or two peeled, sliced thin

Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling


Mix all dry ingredients together and cut in butter and shortening

until the butter is pea sized or smaller.

Make a well in the center of flour and pour liquid ingredients into it,

beating egg and milk together and adding flour from the sides of the

well until you have a soft dough.  Clump together with your hand gently

until all the flour is incorporated- do not knead- use more of a folding

technique.  Roll out to a large rectangle,  brush buttermilk or cream on

half of rectangle, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, place the peaches on

the half lined up next to each other and sprinkle again.  Next fold the

other side over the peachy side and press lightly to seal.  Cut into 8 pieces,

using a spatula put the scones on a parchment paper on a  cookie sheet.

Brush tops with cream and sprinkle once again with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-18 minutes

These are good served with peaches and cream(whipped) on top.


My favorite book in the kitchen

I know- this is a little early for an IMK post, but I’ve

been searching high and low for this book and finally found it!

It was in my kitchen- hidden between two cookbooks in the pantry


I collect cookbooks- or I used to collect them.  Then I got hooked on

the internet and all the recipes on blogs and websites and well, my

collecting days seem to be over.



THIS book remains my favorite book for perusing in the kitchen!

It is an Australian book, published in 2000- and I just love it.

I spent 2 hours yesterday poring over photos and reading about the ingredients

of cooking, baking,drinking, FOOD, glorious,FOOD!



from fruit…



to fish.


And of course,


cheese- this book has it all!  I can look up cuts of meat, unfamiliar spices, types of breads

and grains!  And I lose myself in all of these wondrous ingredients.

I am so happy I found it again.  I find it an essential part of reading blogs- otherwise, I’m

scratching my head and wondering WHAT they are suggesting I roast for dinner?

Summertime. (and the livin’ is easy)*




It is summertime and I needed to remind myself of that fact.  We have been

so inundated with rain and floods, tornadoes all around us for the last 3 weeks

or so that I’ve kind of lost sight of the dates.  It is almost mid-July- this would have

been my mother’s 95th birthday.   And she would have loved being that old and

alive.  She would have loved MY grandsons- loved to see Jordan and Luke getting

settled in their lives- she loved living.  Everyday she would celebrate life.

I miss her.

I never saw my mother depressed.  ANGRY- inquisitive- loving- worried- determined-

whimsical- yes to all of those – but never depressed.

I take after her in a lot of things, but she was made of tougher stuff than I am.

I grew up determined not to be like my mother.

I vowed I would be different.

And now, sometimes,

I wish I were more like her.

Summertime with Ella and Satchmo

Mommy and Daddy

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Leek and cardamom fritters- recipe


My daughter in law, Willow, introduced me to these – she is a marvelous cook.   What I like

best about Willow’s cooking is that she knows no fear.  She follows recipes and patterns-

adapts freely according to what she has in stock and offers it up with a panache that invites

you to enjoy her creation along with her.

I am pretty much a pushover when it comes to 1) cardamom, 2)fritters, and 3) Leeks- so this

recipe was almost tailor made for me to try.  Let me warn you- there are a lot of steps- and it

is a little fiddley- but I think the fritters are totally worth it for a special occasion- and the recipe

makes a LOT of fritters that are really good as left overs.

This recipe is an adaptation from a Yotam Ottolenghi creation- but I have not seen the original

recipe and I adapted the one I did see- so and adaptation of an adaptation.



Ingredients: and method

About 1/2 cup of olive oil

3 leeks, carefully cleaned and thinly sliced} sautee leeks and

1 medium sweet onion, chopped fine} onion in 3 TBS oil for 10-15 minutes.

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp  or less ground cinnamon

Mix together spices and add to sautee after 10 minutes, cook another 5 minutes.


1/2 tsp hot chili paste or one hot Thai pepper seeded, sliced

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

2/3 cup chopped cilantro

6 oz ricotta or cottage cheese

Cool spices and leek/onion mix and add to herb, pepper and cheese mixture.

Add 1 tsp salt and set aside.

in another bowl, mix together:

1 cup AP flour

1 1/2 tsps baking powder

1 whole egg

1/2 cup milk

4 TBS melted butter

Beat until you have a smooth batter.

Whip one egg white to soft peak and fold into cooked leek mixture, then

fold entire mixture into the batter.


Fry on medium high heat with olive oil about 4 to 5 minutes a side- be careful

not to make them too thick.  Brown to golden and serve hot- with lemon wedges,

if desired.


I drained them on paper towel before serving.