And yet another bacon adventure-

Bacon toffee, anyone?

1/2 lb bacon
1 stick butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
Cook the bacon in a skillet. Let it cool on paper towels to remove the excess grease, then chop it into bits. The pieces should be about the size of a fingertip. Set aside.
Put the water, butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the water has boiled off (the mixture will get very bubbly/frothy first) and the mixture turns a deep golden tan color.
Remove from heat, stir in bacon bits, and quickly spread toffee on a silpat or well-oiled baking sheet or piece of marble.
Let cool, then break toffee into pieces by covering it with plastic wrap and pounding it with a knife handle or toffee hammer.
Toffee stores in refrigerator indefinitely.



pound bacon


stick butter


cup water


cup sugar

one pinch salt


Step 1

Cook the bacon in a skillet or in the microwave on paper towels.

Step 2

Let it cool on paper towels to remove the excess grease, then chop it into bits. The pieces should be about the size of a fingertip. Set aside.

Step 3

Put the water, butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the water has boiled off (the mixture will get very bubbly/frothy first) and the mixture turns a deep golden tan color.

Step 4

Remove from heat, stir in bacon bits, and quickly spread toffee on a silpan or well-oiled baking sheet or a piece of marble.

Step 5

Let cool, then break toffee into pieces by covering it with plastic wrapand pounding it with a knife handle or toffee hammer.

Step 6

Toffee keeps in refrigerator indefinitely.


I have been moved to another site, some people couldn’t comment  on my last one.  So no pictures yet-  this is mainly a test post.

Would you please comment so I can tell if it is working correctly?


A Psalm for Robin

Last week we went peach picking and our two little ones,

Aiden and Aidan got together again.

These two, only a year apart, are like night and day- yet they have wonderful moments that are staggeringly beautiful.

They seem to meet in their own place- not by design or happenstance-

they meet and respect each other without adult interference.

They call each other- “other Aidan/en.”

Luke sent me a picture today that reminded me of this relationship- and it brought to mind Robin and I as children.  We, also, were night and day.  Respectful and respecting our differences- we became much more than sisters- we became a team.  Working and playing, talking and laughing, and sometimes, fighting- it was always an act of togetherness and growth.

One of these boys is her grandson, the other mine- now both of them, mine,

I thought it would be appropriate to share Luke’s picture and a psalm I wrote for Robin right before she died (with thoughts of David and Jonathan and their love for each other in mind.) .  Some how these all fit together for me- they bring God into relationships of love- and it makes the writing of psalms a practical expression of  love and praise.


Aidan and Aiden.

A Psalm for Robin


You,God, giver of all gifts,

into your hands I place my heart,

wrenched from my body this day.

A bosom companion, friend of the heart,

tall and majestic, shining,

she walked through my life;

Stopping to love me and gift me with goodness,

Pausing to encourage me to all good works,

Lifting up my heart, she defended and protected me.

I see your love, my LORD,

when I look at my friend.

Surely I will see her again-

only a brief time and you will give us respite.

Oh God of all comfort,

protect and deliver your servant,

my soul,

my sister,

my friend.

Peanut butter and bacon cookies- a recipe “taylor”-made.

Sorry Luke, I couldn’t help myself.  I love these cookies and wanted to share the recipe.

Some of my family has a bacon obsession.  We think any recipe would be better if you only add some bacon.  My great nephew Taylor probably is most afflicted of  us all- his facebook posts have a common bacon theme when he posts about food.   After he posted a picture about carmelized bacon on top of his ice cream, I decided to make a peanut butter and bacon cookie.

There were already a couple of recipes on the cooking blogs- so I kind of used bits and pieces from them and added them to my own tried and true peanut butter cookie recipe and using an entire pound of bacon made them up last week.

It was hard putting all that bacon into one recipe- Jordan snatched a piece before I got it all chopped up- but I wanted to try the cookies so minus one piece the pound of bacon went into the bowl.

The cookies are delicious.  The bacon is empowering rather than over powering and they are substantial and filling.  This is not a cookie for the faint of heart or vegetarians, admittedly– but if you like bacon and peanut butter- you might want to give this recipe a try.

( I didn’t tell my husband about the bacon and he raved about how good the cookies were… I gave a sample to my knitting group and they really liked them, but couldn’t identify the bacon immediately.  So- not sure if I want to take out some PB or add some more bacon.  I think I like them just the way they are.)



1 lb bacon- fried, drained, crumbled ( reserve the fat)
2 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 tsp each of baking powder and soda
1 stick of butter- room temp.
8 TBS of cool bacon fat
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup peanut morsels
turbinado sugar for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix together dry ingredients and whisk. In a separate bowl cream butter, bacon fat and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add bacon and peanut butter and again mix well.
Add dry mixture, 1/3 at a time and stir until it is all incorporated. Add peanut morsels and chopped peanuts.
Drop by tablespoon or make into walnut sized balls and place on cookie tray lined with parchment paper.
Bake for about 8-12 minutes. If you like your cookies a little browner go for the 12 minutes, otherwise keep an eye on them after about 8 minutes.
I wasn’t sure about adding the bacon fat, but I used apple wood and sugar cured bacon and it added a depth of flavor that is really good. Let me know what you think when you try them!

-keep an eye on them while in the oven- they brown up quickly

The ultimate cookie for those with a bacon obsession!

If you make them, let me know what you think.  If you think I’m a little nuts-

share that, too. 

If you are embarrassed by my strange obsession- again, I’m sorry, Luke.

Folding and Braiding bread dough

What I like most about bread is…

eating it, of course!
But what I like most about making bread is the versatility of design and pattern that you can incorporate into your loaf or bun/roll.

Yesterday I made two different doughs-

~rye with caraway seeds~

~sourdough peasant ~

I had different purposes for each bread- the rye for sausage rolls and the sourdough for a picnic sandwich loaf.  They worked out perfectly – I folded the rye and sliced it (as Celia showed in one of her posts , entitled school rolls.)

It was so easy and fun and they rolls were a perfect complement for the Italian sausage I fixed for supper.

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This dough was made with Ohio grown and milled rye and wheat, and topped off with caraway seeds I grew in my herb garden.  Freshly harvested caraway seeds are magnificent in fragrance and flavor- and very easy to grow and harvest.  If you love caraway seed at all, I suggest you try growing your own.  It is very rewarding!

I braided the sourdough peasant bread.

It is called peasant bread because of the addition of a handful or so of the freshly milled rye flour in with the high gluten bread flour.  This dough was so pliable and fun to work with- it begged to be braided  !

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Sorry these pictures are so dark- it was stormy looking all day yesterday, and I didn’t realize how dark it was until I looked at these pictures this morning.

Dividing the dough into  pieces I rolled them into long snakes and then started braiding in the center- leaving the ends loose, I then turned the entire braid over and finished braiding backwards. 

Braid loosely so there is room for the bread to raise!

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I used a pizza pan to shape the wreath, and connected the ends to each other by pinching and cajoling (hah- a little bread humor!).  Then brushed on an egg white wash and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

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Allow to raise about 1 1/2 hours and then bake for about 25 minutes at 375 F.

Isn’t it beautiful?

I’m going to slice through it and make it into a giant picnic sandwich !

And look how the rye rolls turned out-

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They tasted even better than they look!

Yesterday was a very good bread day!

There will always be bread…


My new motto.

Once, long ago, someone asked me  what was my philosophy of bread.

It was not an innocent or friendly question.

This person was not my friend and by the way she asked the question I realized she was not interested in becoming my friend.

I shouldn’t have answered her question.

Now I would look at her and lift my left eyebrow as I looked over my glasses quizzically at her and smile slightly.

Then, I felt obligated to be sociable, if not nice, to such inquiries.

So I stammered ” Philosophy of bread?  I like to make it and I love to eat it.”

Major fail – in her opinion- she smirked and walked away.

So, I found a working philosophy to hand out to my students when I was teaching bread baking and shaping classes-image

And it still works for me.  But it was just a safe substitute because I was still in the – make it- eat it- phase of my life.

Then, we went on a family vacation where we rented a home with a fully stocked kitchen.  The island we were staying on had two choices for bread, soft-unflavored white loaf and dry and heavy wheat bread. 

The first day there I made bread.  Two glorious high rising chewy and crunchy loaves that smelled like a bit of heaven.   My family thanked me and I responded to them my real philosophy of bread.

Wherever I am – there will always be bread.

Today, I am making bread with flour I ground-

things in my kitchen 010

sourdough 002 

and sourdough starter I’ve been keeping-

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and caraway seeds I’ve grown and harvested.

( I left the seeds too long in the garden- because I wanted them to self seed some plants for next year and it has been too hot to check everyday.

I left them over long- which has brought me to come to another philosophy-

Anything that crawls away should be allowed to depart in peace.

eww.  )

Any way, I’m off to make bread- which I still like to do-

and later, we will eat it- which I still LOVE to do.

Because, where ever I am , there will always be bread.

At least, that is my philosophy.

Palacsinta (Hungarian Dessert Pancakes or Crepes)

palicinka and peaches 001 It doesn’t really matter what language you use, these thin and flexible pancakes are always welcomed with a smile and ready appetite!

They take a while to make, because you cook each one individually- usually, by the time I’m doing the last pancakes, the rest have been gobbled down.  I try to save the last two for me, but sometimes, I only get the messed up one ( hah- purposely done!).

The recipe I’m sharing is so easy- it uses club soda for leavening and leaves out butter altogether.  Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial has a wonderful recipe for Lemonade Scones using the same principle- in Australia, Lemonade= lemon/lime soda- like Seven-Up or Sprite.  Try her scones- only3 ingredients and they are great.

Here is the recipe for the palacsinta (pal- ah-sheen-ka )


1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour

1 egg

1 cup milk

pinch sea salt

1/2 cup club soda or seltzer water

Vegetable oil for griddle

fresh fruit or preserves

confectioner’s sugar or cinnamon sugar for garnish

palicinka and peaches 005


Stir flour into a bowl.  Add egg, milk and salt.  Beat gently until smooth.  Add seltzer or club soda.  Beat batter with wooden spoon until smooth.  Put batter in cool place and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Pour some oil into skillet and allow it to get very hot, but not smoking.  Pour in a small amount  of batter, thinly covering  bottom of pan.  Cook in hot oil until crisp.  Turn pancake over and fry on other side.  Add oil as necessary.  If batter begins to thicken, thin it with a small amount of club soda.

Spread pancakes with your favorite preserves, or you can use fresh fruit- I used sugared peaches on ours.  They may be rolled up or folded in half.  Sprinkle pancakes with  icing/powered sugar or cinnamon sugar and enjoy!

This recipe should make 12 very thin pancakes- Palacsinta!

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Psalm 127-commentary in pictures

Psalm 127
A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
       its builders labor in vain.
       Unless the LORD watches over the city,
       the watchmen stand guard in vain.

2 In vain you rise early
       and stay up late,
       toiling for food to eat—
       for he grants sleep to those he loves.

3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
       children a reward from him.

4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
       are sons born in one’s youth.

5 Blessed is the man
       whose quiver is full of them.
       They will not be put to shame
       when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

I spent the day picking peaches with my family.

I am feeling very blessed, very content, and think my night will be one of blissful sleep.  God has surrounded me with love, given us sons for our heritage.


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peach picking and downtown Akron-Lock3 004

I don’t know about enemies at the gate- but I sure feel well provided for with peaches in the box and sons and a husband to carry them.

Lavender- Culinary and otherwise and a recipe or two

Recipe #1 

Lavender Cookies


2 teaspoons culinary lavender flowers
2 cups all-purpose flour
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch of salt
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla


Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.
Stir together flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Beat butter and shortening for 30 to 60 seconds. Add sugar and lavender buds. Beat till fluffy. Beat in egg,
milk and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture. Beat until well-combined.
Drop teaspoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie
sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden-brown. Serve with hot tea.


Sorry – no picture to go with that one.  It is too hot to bake in the oven, today.

And I have heard some people say recently that eating lavender was not appealing to them.  So, I didn’t want to push the matter, but I thought I’d look into the use and cultivation of culinary lavender.  And I think it may be that all culinary lavender is not equal.

In order for lavender to be sold for culinary purposes, it has to be grown as an agricultural crop- (human safe insecticides and fertilizers, etc)  and it has to be harvested and processed differently than lavender used for aromatic purposes.

That is all well and good ( and expensive)- but I wanted to come up with my own harvested culinary lavender, and that is where I discovered some things on my own.


lavender and Aiden 008

Lavender grown in your own hedge or bed is acceptable for culinary use.

As long as you don’t treat it with insecticides or sprays.  And it is in the harvesting that the distinct difference can be seen.


lavender and heirloom tomatoes 010

dried stem of lavender

As you can see from this single stem above, there are several components to the lavender flower.  The head or spike above contains many flowers or corollas.  In order to use the flowers without overpowering your recipe, you must remove the flower from the calyx.

 lavender and heirloom tomatoes 011 lavender and heirloom tomatoes 012

lavender florets or corollas

Once separated, save the calyx for use in sachets or potpourris-

lavender and heirloom tomatoes 004

this is painstaking and patient work- I found doing it when my husband watched baseball worked for me- it takes about as long as a baseball game lasts to get more than a few tablespoons of usable lavender flowers.

lavender and heirloom tomatoes 007

lavender and heirloom tomatoes 009

flowers and calyx- calyx alone- flower or corolla

Look at the difference in just appearance.  The scent is mainly contained in the calyx and the flowers fragrance is much more subtle.  The flowers also have the bluest appearance of the three.

I also crystalized some of the fresh flowers.  I usually do violets in the spring, so I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult to adapt that process to lavender florets.


It was ridiculously hard.  I managed to get eight florets done in a half an hour.

lavender and heirloom tomatoes 019 separating the florets-

lavender and heirloom tomatoes 020 preparing the egg white-

lavender and heirloom tomatoes 033 processing the sugar to be super-fine-

lavender and heirloom tomatoes 024 tweezering the florets-

lavender and heirloom tomatoes 025 painting outside and inside with egg wash-


lavender and heirloom tomatoes 026 coating with sugar-

lavender and heirloom tomatoes 030 drying and baking the florets

in a cool oven-

(sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the baking stage! 🙂

lavender and heirloom tomatoes 031 and finally attaching to sugar cubes for a decorative effect. 

Here is my second recipe.

  lavender and scones 015

Welsh Scones with lavender and currants


8oz. (1 cup) self rising flour

4 oz.  (1 stick) butter, cold

pinch of sea salt

4 oz. (1/2 cup) dried currants

1 tsp. lavender,culinary, flowers only

2 TBS. fine sugar

1 egg

1 TBS buttermilk

more sugar for the topping.

lavender and scones 001 lavender and scones 002 lavender and scones 003

Cut butter into flour until looks like corn meal-


lavender and scones 004 add salt, currants, lavender, and sugar.

lavender and scones 005 Stir so that currants are coated with flour and not in clumps.

lavender and scones 007 lavender and scones 008

Add egg and buttermilk and stir gently, until completely moistened.

lavender and scones 009 Dump out onto pastry board and pat gently into a 9 x12 rectangle and cut into diamond shapes.

Then put onto a medium hot griddle  and cook until slightly browned on one side.lavender and scones 010 lavender and scones 011

Turn over and cook on the other side, sprinkling a little sugar on top.

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These are so light and delicious!

Very More-ish as my friend, Celia, says!

I think the flour is just there to hold the butter into an edible shape, really!

These have been called Welsh Scones, Griddle cakes, and Singin’ Hinnies-

I call them magnificent.

I’ve never had a scone that topped these for lightness or flavor.

You can leave out the lavender if you like, but make these scones.

You won’t be sorry.

Going to the fair…

I am not a real fair kind of person.

I’m not saying I’m not fair-:) – I just don’t like going to fairs.  They are hot.  They are noisy.  There are too many people and the food is NOT good for me.

But- I am now a grandma- and I do all sorts of things I wouldn’t have done before.  I do things with great enjoyment because I get to see them for the first time again through my grandson’s eyes.

Saturday, last, I went to the Ohio State Fair for the first time in 44 years!

My impression from when I was 12 was that it was hot and noisy and there were too many people. ( At least I’m consistent!)  And I also remember a lovely cart filled with lavender for sale at $4 a cup.  I think Robin (my sister) and I had $5 each for spending money and we each bought a cup of lavender.  It was so fragrant and cool- and we had never seen it is such abundance before.

But I digress- this year we went as a family.  Grampa, Jordan, Luke, Willow, Aidan and I all went and had a grand time.  The fair grounds weren’t too crowded early in the day, and by the afternoon it started to rain lightly which kept the crowds down.  We skipped most of the rides altogether, Aidan is only 2 and does not like rides yet.  We tried to get him to go on the umbrella ride that is like a sky ride going to the very end of the fair.  “No”, he said, “that’s too high.”

So, my husband and I went on the ride by ourselves and left the younger people to walk the distance while we had a bird’s eye view.

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There were marching bands and music- and lots of deep fried foods.

(twinkies , oreos, bananas,pickles,mushrooms,cheese,peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and on and on)  There was also bacon dipped in dark chocolate, but I didn’t try any of the more “exotic” offerings.

We had french fried potatoes, barbecued pork ribs, chicken fried tenderloin sandwiches, a gyro roll and ice cream.  Mostly we just bought one of each and shared.

But , by far, the best part was the farm building displays. They had a train set up that Aidan loved.  We could have stayed there for an hour and he would have been happy.

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He pressed his little face into the fence surrounding the booth and kept it there.

Not moving, not talking, just watching the train go round and round the bend.

I think I know what he will be getting for Christmas this year.

state fair 034

And then- after lunch- there was ice cream.

Aidan is a healthy eater.  His parents don’t indulge in many sweets.  So this was a real treat!  He wanted me to hold the ice cream – and he to hold the spoon(s).  Just prior to this picture he was holding two spoons.  The expression on his face is because I took one of the spoons away and said he should just eat with one.

It was already raining by this time.

state fair 037

The umbrellas were sprouting all over the place- and we decided we had had enough of the fair.

It had been a long day, already, because we started off at a Farmer’s market that morning.  We bought lovely vegetables, fresh ground rye flour, flowers, a hot pretzel for snacking, and corn.

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We bought lots of corn.

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Which was a good thing, since the cat decided these were hers!

Anyway, I decided that I might be a fair kind of person, after all.

Which is also a good thing, since I now have more than one grandchild-

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my Other Aiden!

And another on the way!

Heirloom tomatoes and a Salsa Recipe…

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Growing up in the greenhouse business, I didn’t get a lot of exposure to heirloom tomatoes.  Our business was to sell the best growing and producing vegetables- and in the late fifties and sixties (1950’s-1960’s) that meant hybrids.  We had Marglobes and Rutgers, Jubilee, Big boy, Early girl- all hybridized to give large, virtually seedless, and consistent fruit.  The idea was not to preserve the past, but to improve the tomato!

That has changed in these times of organic, local, and heritage vegetable consumers.  Now there is a great emphasis on the old stock of tomatoes and there are businesses that only sell heirloom seeds – which I like- but there is also the question on the use of these tomatoes- some of which have strange shapes that make cutting difficult. 

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There is also the dense center vein and the blossom cavity at the bottom of the heirloom beefsteak tomato that makes using them a challenge.

Cutting these areas out greatly diminishes the usablility of the heirlooms- you sometimes end up with only half of the vegetable that can be used in a recipe.

I have found that the flavor and the historical romance is worth the inconvenience of the waste- and have found a way to utilize even the “wastage” by cooking them up into a sauce that can be used in soups or spiced up with herbs, onions and garlic to make into a pasta sauce.  If you are making a salsa, use the pretty part of the tomato for your recipe and save the cut away portions to cook down later.

heirloom tomatos and salsa 002

For this salsa recipe, I used these tomatoes, pepper, and onion.

Normally, I would use jalapeno peppers, but this yellow pepper was supposed to be sweet- and when I cut into it to use for a different recipe, the veins and smell told me otherwise.  One touch of my finger to my tongue gave the secret away completely- HOT!!- very HOT!   So I decided to use it in my salsa!

I had  two red tomatoes and many more orange and yellow- so my salsa is more in shades or yellow, orange, green and red- rather than the typical red and green variety.


1 large hot pepper, or several small jalapeno peppers, diced small

3 or 4 tomatoes, chopped

1 medium sweet onion, diced small

1 large handful cilantro, chopped finely

juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper, to taste

Chop everything up to a uniform size- I usually leave the tomatoes slightly larger because I like a bigger bite of tomato.

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Mix vegetables up together, add juice and stir well.

Get out a tortilla chip and taste, add salt and pepper according to your pleasure- and enjoy!

Save up your tomato scraps until you get at least 1 1/2 cups (or you can supplement with a whole tomato to expedite your sauce) and then cook down in a saucepan with about 1/2 cup water added.  Add oregano, basil, garlic, sauteed onions, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper to taste and you have a fresh made pasta sauce.  Bring sauce to a slow boil- bubbles will form and pop slowly within your sauce and it will thicken slightly after being reduced- about 1 hour cooking time.

( If you like, you can run the sauce through a sieve to get the pulpy and dark tomato parts out- but they aren’t really noticeable once it is all cooked down and I usually let them add to the slight texture of this homemade sauce.)