If You Give a Cook a Cookie...
If, Dear Readers, you give a cook a cookie, he or she will:
1. Eat it. After all, cooks are smart.
2. Offer to share it. After all, cooks are nurturing.
3. Offer to make it better. After all, cooks are control freaks.
If, Dear Readers, you give this cook a cookie, I will:
1. See 1-3.
2. Teach you how to make it better. I would suggest topping it with ice cream and/crumbling it into chunky crumbs and toasting the crumbs to make a crispy topping for ice cream and fruit or bashing it into fine crumbs, tossing the crumbs with butter and pressing them into a tart mold to make a no-bake crust and then top it with ice cream and fruit.
3. Ask for a glass of milk or a liquor. (See number 1.)
4. Say, “Thank you.” After all, cooks are polite.
What would you do?
I love to travel. I love seeing new sights and having unique experiences. Even if I am returning to someplace I have been before, the experience is different because I am a different person. I enjoy bringing home travel treats to share with loved ones as much as they enjoy receiving them. I always do my research and read about unique gifts from the area so I know what to look for when I get there and always shop at local markets and grocery stores for affordable treats. I also like to pack small, light regional gifts to give to nice people too. (Make sure you know what is allowed out of/back into that/your country too.)
Here is a list of travel treats I always try to bring home:
Ice cream comes
Local specialty liquors
Seeds (if allowed)
How about you, Dear Readers? What travel treats do you like to bring home?
Coffee with Lollipop
Each Morning when I awake,
coffee from my cup you do wish you could take.
From the time you were little you would love just a sip,
you take it light with a touch of sugar or your eyes you will dip.
Since coffee is better for me than for you,
giving you more than a lap or two is something I do not do.
I know your sister Alyssa began your addiction when you were just a little mop,
every once in a while I treat us both and have coffee with Lollipop.
Party Like It’s Today!
There is a Prince song about partying like it’s the end of the world. I say, why not party like it’s today! Life is a privilege and a celebration. There are two mistakes I believe plague a lot of us; we give too much energy to the “fail” and we look too much to the “future.”
We we worry about the “what ifs.” What ifI don’t pass my exam? What if they don’t like me? What if it doesn’t taste good? Then, we are so busy looking ahead, we miss the blessings that are right in front of us and miss the “now.” To be proactive is a very good thing and a productive way to live life, but, don’t plan for the future to the point you miss the beautiful and unique moments happening today.
I'm just saying, dance the dance, eat the cookie, take the trip, hug that person and live life with joy.
I have a bowl of ripe plums in the refrigerator and my favorite crisp topping in the freezer. What to do? What to do? Make a deconstructed tart of course.
Slice the plums (I have about two pounds) into a medium pot and toss them with brown sugar to taste, a pinch of salt and a little plum jam, if you have it and about a tablespoon of cornstarch. Cook the plums over medium heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens. (Allow to bubble two minutes to cook out the cornstarch.) Taste for sugar and adjust as needed. Add a dash of pure vanilla extract or brandy if you like. Set the mixture aside to cool. This may be done up to three days ahead.
Spread the crumb topping or even crushed butter cookies or granola (be flexible) out into a single layer on a lined baking sheet and toast at 375° until golden. This will take 8-15 minutes, depending upon the topping. Cool and store in an airtight container.
To assemble, start alternating layers of fruit and crumb topping, ending with the crumb topping. Top with a dollop of crème fraîche, yogurt, whipped cream, ice cream or serve as is and enjoy!
This deconstructed tart is perfect for a picnic, brunch or dessert.
Meet the newest addition to the Grube Family, Dear Readers. Say, “Hello.” To AB. AB is short for Alien Baby, so named beacuse before he got his little sprout (can you see if there at the top?) a friend very callously said he looked like an alien. Thankfully AB did not hear this cruel snipe but alas, the name stuck. With a little luck, dashes of hope and patience, AB will grow strong and tall and willingly offer me buckets of grandchildren, their grandfather, Russell, will then mercilessly mash into great green gobs of guacamole. I will just be careful never to eat AB’s children in front of him, unless it’s to enjoy the shade he offers and to get out of the sun. Come on! Lighten up! I never said I was nice and there’s never any judging here at Mary’s Kitchen.
This morning I attempted a new yoga pose called Elephant’s Trunk pose. The “idea” is to hook a knee over the same side shoulder as the knee and then, wait for it, lift up your hips and to,!wait for it, flex your foot and suspend your leg, all at the same time. I honestly looked more like a floppy elephant. Somehow, by the grace of God, I managed to hook my leg on my shoulder but things went downhill pretty quickly from there. Trust me when I say, Dear Readers, it was not pretty. My reward? French press coffee (Russell made) and a New York-Style coffee cake (I made pre-floppy elephant.) I earned my lovely treats because not only did I brave the pose and manage to come out still able to climb the basement stairs to my kitchen, I had to stop partway through my workout to remove the cake! Not only that! I actually returned to my workout, on purpose, knowing full well the elephant “pose” had to repeated on the other side! I was laughing both at and to myself by now all while managing my Pranayama breathing. Again, on purpose! See? I earned my treats!
Getting back to the New York-Style coffee cake. Even if you have not attempted the floppy elephant pose, remember the Crumb Topping I am always promoting and encouraging you to make extra of so you have it on hand? (Visit my Recipes page for the recipe.) Well, I just added a little brown sugar and extra cinnamon to that yummy mix and dumped a layer over a simple thick cake batter mixture and baked it about 35-40 minutes at 350° in a glass 8x8 square baking dish. I sprinkled the top with powdered sugar before serving. The cake base may even be made with, GASP, a boxed cake mix if you like. It will be our secret. Just search the internet for New York Style coffee cake and find a cake base you like. Since you have the crumb mixture on hand, the cake will be in the oven before you can say, ‘floppy elephant.’
Bacon is Always a Good Idea
Bacon is always a good idea, Dear Readers. Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes at 375° and you will have sheets of blissfully crispy treats that will add a smokey crunch to a salad or baked potato. Brush bacon strips with maple syrup or sprinkle with brown sugar before baking and you have a treat that will earn you proposals. Or, as I show below, drape sheets of bacon over the top of a pork tenderloin that has been slathered with mustard and a little brown sugar. Don’t forget to season the roast with dashes of sage and paprika and cook it on a bed of potatoes to create a one pan meal that is ready to serve after roasting about an hour at 325°. Serve the roast and potatoes with steamed broccoli and you have a feast fit for a king! See? I told you bacon is always a good idea.
Somedays require little somethings to get us through; in other words, some days require quick bites. Here in the East, we are experiencing a series of thunder and lightning storms coupled with intermittent heavy rain showers. The type of weather where indoor activities are best because outdoor activities mostly involve sloshing through mud. The up side of rainy days in the summer is a lot gets done around the house. The downside is you get the munchies.
This is where an arsenal of healthy quick bites comes in handy so here are a few ideas:
1. Air popped popcorn (use an olive oil cooking spray and a dash of good sea salt to flavor the popcorn)
3. Celery and peanut butter
5. Baked chips and crackers
6. Graham crackers with low-sugar jam
Please share your favorite quick bite ideas in the comments section.
Adapt and Adjust
Life can throw a variety of curveballs. How we adapt and adjust to those curveballs is the difference between happy and sad, comfort and chaos, a connection and a miss. Think of it this way, Dear Readers, curveballs mean change and change means action, action means momentum and momentum brings about a dynamic existence. See where swinging with, not against, the curveballs of life will take you and go with that direction, don’t fight it. Curveballs are dynamic and as I always say, cooking is dynamic, so the best way to cook is to go with the flow and not fight the meal you are helping to unfold. Cook with the flow and your whole heart, that allows you to adapt and adjust each dish every time. Sound pretty good? Yep. I think so too.
Avid home cook and passionate instructor