Interesting things I found along the way-you never know.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Family traditions

This is the time to bring out family traditions we treasurefor many years.

My family celebrates what we call First Night. It is the first Saturday in December when we put up our artificial tree and decorate the house. That night we keep the tree lights on, bundle up and sleep under the tree with the fireplace warming the room.

It is a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of a special month.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Vegetarian Stuffed ACorn Squash
with wild rice and pecans
2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 (6 ounce) package dry corn bread stuffing mix
2 teaspoons butter
3 green onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 cup long grain and wild rice mix
2 sprigs fresh sage, chopped
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup whole or chopped pecans (optional) 
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 2 baking pans, and place the cleaned-out squash, cut sides down, into the pans. Bake in the preheated oven until barely soft to the touch, about 25 minutes.
Make the stuffing mix as instructed on the package, and set aside.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan, and cook and stir the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook and stir until they give up their juice, about 5 more minutes. Add the rice mix and sage, and cook and stir the rice and vegetables until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock, stir to combine, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer the rice mixture until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
Lightly mix the cooked rice mixture with the stuffing in a bowl, and pile the mixture into the centers of the squash without packing it. Return the stuffed squash to the oven and bake until the squash are tender and the stuffing is hot, about 15 more minutes.
Serve with pecans on top.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Headless Horseman

The Headless Horseman Pursuing Icabod Crane by John Quidor (1858)

Being a native of New York, the story of the Headless Horseman is a regular tale told during Halloween. There are many adaptions of the Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but did you know the original tale was a Celtic folklore. He was a headless Iris Fairy that rode a black horse. Whenever he stopped, someone died.
          Brothers Grimm had two versions, both featuring a headless horseman wearing a long gray coat, riding a large gray horse warning riders not ride or meet certain death.
          The American version is Geoffrey Crayon, Gentleman. He was a Hessian, one of 51 who were hired to suppress the American Revolution. He was killed, decapitated by an American cannonball during the battle of Chatterton Hill, Long Island, New York and was buried in a church yard.

One must wonder if he was buried with his own head or someone else’s?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Black Prince's Ruby


I was enthralled by the story of the Black Prince’s Ruby on my trip to England in 1990.

The Three Sister’s Ruby Ring, in South of the Pier, was taken from the true historical account of the Black Prince’s Ruby.

The history of the Black Prince’s Ruby history is an amazing adventure! The full account of the ring will send chills through you as you read the historical account of this 170 carat spinel ruby. It has a most bloody trail of conquest beginning in 1366.

Originally owned by the Moorish Prince Mohammad, who was killed by his brother-in-law Abu Said. Said was then murdered by a Spaniard, Lord Don Pedro the Cruel. This is where the name the Black Prince’s Ruby got its name in the 14th Century. It has been speculated that it was mined in the Badakhshan Mines in Tajikstan.

The astonishing journey of this jewel is filled with blood, horror, war and conquest.  It’s a history of instability, of human greatness and misfortune to those who own or hold it dear to them.

The Black Prince’s Ruby now sits as the center jewel in the British Imperial State Crown. The ruby is huge, the size of a small egg!

I took literary license with the Three Sister’s Ruby Ring, but the intrigue and extraordinary gem’s history is something people have written about for centuries.

Be sure to visit websites on the Black Prince’s Ruby for more information of this amazing true story.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Lomi Salmon

One of our favorite dishes in Hawaii is Lomi Salmon. We’ve gorged ourselves on it every visit. Recently we have been able to find this dish in specialty restaurants and stores. But before that we made our own.

Lomi Salmon
2 cups diced salted salmon
6 medium tomatoes, diced 
1 white onion, chopped      
1/2 cup chopped green onion
Sea salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
 In a medium bowl, stir together the salted salmon, tomatoes, white onion, green onion, sea salt and cayenne pepper. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with white rice. Serves 12

Sometimes the salmon is salty enough; taste it first before adding any salt. If the fish is excessively salty, you can soak it over night and rinse prior to preparing this dish.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

During a trip to the northeast coast to see the fall colors, we stopped off for lunch in Connecticut. It was a cold, blustery October afternoon, a bowl of chowder was in order. We had a choice of three clam chowders, Boston, New England or Rhode Island chowder. We knew the first two but had no idea of the latter. So we tried it, only to fall in love with it. RI chowder is a delicate blend of flavors not found in the more popular ones of clam chowder. We got the recipe and have made it ever since.
Rhode Island Clam Chowder
2 Tbsp butter
2Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large Idaho potato, peeled and diced
1 quart clam broth
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 lb minced clams
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh black pepper
In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, melt the butter in the oil over low-medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent. Stir in the diced potato, then pour into the clam broth and add thyme leaves.

Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft when pierced with knife. Using a wooden spoon, smash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot, and stir into the broth to thicken it slightly. Add the clams with any juice, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and serve hot.  Serves 6

Monday, June 3, 2013


My time in Moscow included a beautiful trip to the Kremlin Armory. Fabergé eggs were on display. I was caught by the delicate craftsmanship of the intricately adorned eggs.
Though I was struck by the beauty and decoration of the Fabergé eggs, I chose to use a 19th century cigar case as the object of adventure for Charlotte Russe. The research into the use of cloisonné in art by Russian craftsmen was an amazing journey. But the history of Fabergé Eggs by House of Fabergé is fascinating. See the links below:

My favorite egg on display was the Moscow Kremlin Egg made 1906 by Carl Fabergé for Tsar Nicholas II for his wife. It is a music box made of onyx, gold, enamel and glass.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

San Francisco

     I fell in love with Green Goddess Dressing on our honeymoon to San Francisco in 1972. It took a while for me to find it in the grocery stores, but it didn’t taste as good as the homemade dressing. From what I understand it originated with the executive chef at the Palace Hotel in 1923 which was a variation of a French sauce traditionally served with Eel. Enjoy!!

Green Goddess Dressing

2 tsp anchovy past or 2-4 canned anchovies
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ to 1 cup slightly mashed avocado
1/3 cup mayonnaise
¾ cups sour cream
½ cut chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon or fresh chopped basil
3 Tbsp  chopped chives
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Sal and black pepper to taste
Sweetener to taste
Put all the ingredients in the bowl of a blender or food processor and blend or pulse until you get an even smooth dressing, about 30-45 seconds. Serve as a dip or toss with salad greens. The dressing will last about a week in the refrigerator. Makes 2-3 cups.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Guatemalan Fare

These are wonderful recipes that are typical Guatemalan fare. Enjoy!

Pepian (stew)
1 pound fresh tomatoes

4oz. cup raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
4oz. sesame seeds
1 pound of pork meat
1 pound of chicken meat
1/2 medium onion
4 big cloves of garlic
1 chayote
1 pound of potatoes
*1 Güaque pepper (Optional)

Start by cutting the pork and chicken meat into small cubes. Cook it on a big pot with salt, half an onion, a tomato cut in half, a clove of garlic and two and a half cups of water.

While you wait take the pumpkin seeds and toast them on an old pan at a low setting until they are brown. Repeat with the sesame seeds, the onion and the garlic. When it comes to cilantro only dry it a bit on the pan – don’t let it get brown. Then the tomatoes – let them sit on the pan and move them every couple of minutes until the point where they can easily be pealed.
When the meat is cooked take the broth that is left, let it cool and scrape all the fat from the surface. Then take the tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, onion, sesame seeds & pumpkin seeds and put them on the blender along with the broth. Blend for at least 1.5min. You should get a brown, spicy salsa.
Peel and cut into small pieces the green chayote and the potatoes.
Take a big pot and put the meat, the salsa, the chayote & the potatoes in it. Let it boil for around 15min and try it so see if it needs more salt. Adjust it however you like. Then let it boil for another 15min at a low setting. And you are done!
Guatemalan’s serve it with white rice & corn tortillas
*Güaque pepper (sometimes called huaques) peppers from Guatemala. You may be substituted the Güaque peppers with Guajillo chili or any other peppers with a mild, sweet flavor.

Tres Leches Cake
1 18.25 oz. box white or yellow cake mix
3 large eggs
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk (skim or regular)
1 cup whole milk or light cream
12 oz. vanilla frosting or buttercream frosting
Strawberries for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, eggs, water, oil and vanilla until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cake from oven and let cool completely. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk or light cream until well blended. Poke cake all over with a skewer or straw. Pour milk mixture all over cake, pressing lightly to make sure milk is completely absorbed. Refrigerate cake 1-2 hours. Spread frosting over cake. Cut cake into slices and spoon several tablespoons of the sauce over each slice. Top with sliced strawberries. Serves 24