Archive for July, 2009

Mmm, Mmm Good Peach Pie

Dear Readers,

Okay, here’s another summer dessert that Mimi loves!  I try to bake at least 2 to 3 peach pies every summer.  My mother cut this recipe out of the newspaper about 30 years ago and I tried it and loved the results.  Peaches are plentiful at the farmers’ market right now and as we recently strolled past the stalls, my husband reminded me how much he loves my peach pie!  Baked one yesterday and it was delicious.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does. (It’s also my son’s favorite pie.)

Fresh Peach Pie

Line a 9″ pie pan with an unbaked pie crust and fill with sliced, fresh, peeled peaches.  Then cream 1 cup sugar with 1/3 cup softened butter or margarine and add 1/3 cup flour, one beaten egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Spread this mixture over the peaches and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Note:  Don’t put too many peaches in pie crust as the filling can run over the side of the pie pan.  Also, if edges of crust brown too quickly, cover with a strip of aluminum foil.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’! 

Note added on August 1, 2009:

Decided to experiment with this recipe using something other than peaches.  Today Mimi baked a pie with the  crust lined with 2/3 raspberries and 1/3 blueberries and the same filling.  It was great, hubby really enjoyed it and said that it was even better than the peach pie!

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Dear Readers,

We’ve all experienced great moments of joy in our lives and they are usually attached to momentous occasions.  There’s the joy of attending our children’s wedding ceremonies and reliving our own exchange of marital vows.  The birth of our children brings a sense of deep parental joy.  Holding that grandchild for the first time is pure heaven-sent joy.

But what I’m talking about today are those unexpected moments of joy; the golden threads in the fabric of our lives.

Let me give you some examples from my own life.  Taking an early Sunday morning walk, hearing the birds chirp along with the distant sound of a train whistle is pure bliss.  Smacking a winning volley in a tennis game makes me feel good.  Finding that perfect dress for a special event (you know, the one that makes you feel like a million bucks!) really makes me happy.  Strolling beneath a path of trees that reminds me of the linden trees in Berlin, puts a smile upon my face.

Such moments are quite ordinary but they make me feel that life doesn’t get any better than this!  We all experience this kind of joy and even though the moments are fleeting, they are sweeter because they are so unexpected.  So the next time one of these moments of joy pops up in your life, take the time to enjoy and savor it.  They are God’s little gifts to us!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

It’s summertime and the jewels of the farmers’  markets are all the great fruits in season.  There’s strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches and even apricots.  Are you interested in a dessert where the fruit is the starring attraction?  Well, try this recipe for “Fruit Cobbler”.  It’s quick, easy and you’ll love it, especially served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

Fruit Cobbler

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Any desired fruit or berries

Blend 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons butter.  Mix flour and baking powder together and stir in sugar and butter mixture alternately with milk,  Do not beat – batter may be slightly lumpy.  Pour into ungreased 6 x 10″ or 8 x 8″ baking dish.  Add layer of fruit or berries.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar and pour 1/2 cup water on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until golden brown.  Do not open oven for 45 minutes!

Note:  I’ve made this cobbler with strawberries, peaches, blueberries, blackberries and a peach-blueberry combo.  It can be doubled and baked in a 9 x 13″ baking dish.

This recipe was submitted by Mrs. Lawrence Siddons of the Ladies Aid Society of the Central Schwenkfelder Church in Worcester, PA for their “Plain and Fancy Cooking” cookbook.  This cookbook is about 35 years old.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Walking is a big part of my life and since I live both in CA and NC, these walks are completely different.

In March, 2009 I posted a blog “Oh What a Gift!” that described the arrival of spring in CA.  Today, travel with me on a summer morning walk in Raleigh, NC.

As soon as my sneakers hit the pavement, I am struck by the aroma of onions and celery cooking.  It emanates from a nearby City Market restaurant probably preparing soup for the hungry lunchtime crowd.  Further down the street I stroll under a 50 foot tall magnolia tree whose branches form an umbrella over the sidewalk, with blooms the size of a dinner plate.  A sweet heavenly scent accompanies these blooms.

Front and backyards openly display an abundance of green grass.  There are no high privacy fences or stone walls like the type that protect CA yards.  Hanging baskets of feathery fern descend from the ceilings of expansive front porches.  They are on display for all to view.

Passing the Governor’s Mansion, I look in to see a perfectly manicured vegetable garden of tomatoes, peppers, squash and pole beans.  There’s not an invading insect  in sight.  Hope the governor gets to enjoy these healthy vegetables.  Further down the street, a few succulent blackberries peek out through the fence.  I’d love to pick a couple of berries but am afraid of the security cameras that guard the perimeter of the grounds.  Mimi would hate to get arrested for stealing the governor’s blackberries!

Luckily the smell of donuts distracts me from the berries.  I am rapidly approaching a Krispy Kreme donut shop.  This store is always busy especially the drive-thru lane.  I continue walking trying to ignore the lure of those delightful donuts!

As I trek through the neighborhood of beautifully restored homes, it feels like I’ve entered the Garden of Eden.  There are so many pretty flowers and shrubs.  The gardenia plants are as big as a hedge; lots of pink, purple and blue hydrangeas; hot pink azaleas and gingko trees covered with their pale coral fuzz balls.

In the side yard of one home, there’s a stone fountain with a large carved pineapple at the center.  Water gently cascades down the pineapple into a surrounding small pool.  Next to the fountain is a robin busily gathering tiny twigs; no doubt in the process of creating a nest.

The best surprise of this walk is a couple of unorthodox flower containers sitting right on the sidewalk.  One is a metal watering can with dark purple petunias flowing down the side and the other is a worn leather work boot that has been filled with soil and contains a pretty little green vine bursting from the top of the shoe.

I’m almost home now.  A lady passes by on her way to work with a greeting of “good morning!” and comments that it is a beautiful day and I agree wholeheartedly.  But all good things must come to an end!  Time to climb the flight of stairs to that basket of laundry waiting for me.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

If you’ve ever grown zucchini, you know it doesn’t take much effort to have a bumper crop.  Friends and neighbors are eager to share part of that prolific crop.  So the next time your neighbor arrives with an armload of zucchini, don’t despair with thoughts of how to use all that green stuff!  Here are 2 recipes that are family-friendly, easy to prepare and are guaranteed to use up a lot of that zucchini.

Linguine with Zucchini

Cook 8 ounces of linguine according to the package directions and drain well.

In a 12″ frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of salad oil over high heat.  When hot, add 6 cups of shredded zucchini and 3 large cloves of garlic, pressed or minced.  Stir-fry zucchini until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.  Reduce heat to low.  Add 1/4 cup each chopped parsley and butter; and add 1/2 cup half-and-half.  Cook until butter melts.  Add linguine, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and 1-1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese.  Toss lightly; salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 4.

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups sugar

2 cups peeled, grated zucchini

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3 teaspoons cinnamon

Beat eggs; add oil, sugar, zucchini and mix.  Add flour sifted with dry ingredients.  Add vanilla.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour in 2 greased and floured 9x5x3″ loaf pans.

This cake freezes very well; and thanks to my dear neighbor, Bev, who shared this recipe with me about 30 years ago!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Recently prepared hot dogs for lunch for hubby and myself and here’s my problem:  why am I always left with either too many buns or too many dogs?  Hot dog buns are usually packaged with 8 or 12 to a pack.  Hot dogs come in packages of 6 big ones or 10 regular size.  Either way they don’t match in number.  The hot dog and bun makers need to come together to select a uniform number of dogs and buns to a pack.  After all, I’m tired of the sideways glance my husband gives me when I try to serve him a ham and cheese on a hot dog bun!

At least once a week I stroll by the state employee parking lot bounded by Person, Jones, Blount and Edenton Streets.  I walk on Person heading north and on Blount heading south on the return part of the walk.

Earlier in May I noticed cute little messages written in chalk on both sidewalks.  One said “Have a nice day” and the other was a smiley face.  A few days later the messages were gone; no doubt washed away by sudden spring rains.  I didn’ t think any more about them.  But lo and behold, they were back again the other day.  One says “luv u” and on the other side of the block is a pink and white chalked “Hi!” written in a perky style print that is guaranteed to evoke a smile.

Just who is the person behind these signs?  Is it a neighborhood kid with a new box of colored chalk and a lot of time on their hands?  Is it a state employee sending friendly notes to another employee?  Or is the originator an urban graffiti artist?  I don’t know who it is but this person sure does brighten Mimi’s morning walk and I’m sure many others who pass that way.  The world needs more of these kind of messages!

Keep smilin’!

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Healthy Vegetarian Dish

Dear Readers,

Prepared a new recipe the other night for zucchini and chickpea ratatouille and it was a real winner.  Cut it out of some magazine awhile ago.  It is easy, delicious, very healthy and it’s a great way to use up the zucchini from your or a neighbor’s garden.

Zucchini & Chickpea Ratatouille

2 med. zucchini (about 1-1/4 lb.), quartered lengthwise & cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 large red pepper, cut into 1/2″ pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 cans (14-1/2 oz.) Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper

3 cups cooked brown rice

1.  Heat oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Add zucchini and red pepper; toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender.

3.  Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, cook 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Stir in tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add zucchini, peppers, chickpeas, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve with cooked brown rice.

This makes 4 servings with 402 calories and 9 grams of fat each.

Note:  There is enough ratatouille mixture for 6 cups of rice.  When roasting zucchini and red pepper, I lined the baking sheet with aluminun foil and then coated it with nonstick cooking spray.  This makes the cleanup easy.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

This past Saturday while on my A.M. walk, I encountered 3 yard sales.  One was a large affair sponsored by a local charity with rows of  long tables laden with stuff.  The other two were small sales in the front yards of the promoters.  A campaign poster of FDR was prominently displayed leaning against the trunk of a tree.  (Don’t know if it was an original, but it did catch my eye!)  Prospective customers were parking their cars on the street and rapidly walking over to the yard in search of some neat, cheap stuff.  By the way, Richard Rubin writes in the July-August issue of AARP magazine that “Yard sales are where you go when you want stuff to find you”.

I started to think what a big part of our lives is devoted to stuff.  And by “stuff” I mean those things that aren’t necessary or vital to our survival.

First, we go out to shop for stuff at yard sales, the mall or even online.  Stuff has to be paid for; either by cash or credit cards that are sometimes laden with large unpaid balances.  Then we drive home and have to decide where to put this stuff; either in bulging closets, on overloaded shelves or hung on the wall.  In some cases, cleaning this stuff becomes a part of owning it.

After a while, we tire of this stuff and then it is stored away.  Have read ads touting the value of renting storage space for extra stuff.  Of course, there is a fee for this privilege.  Moving to a new home or relocating out-of-town forces us to pay to move all this stuff.

Do we really need all this stuff?  It does make us happy temporarily; but it eventually becomes heavy baggage in our lives.  The next time you are tempted to shop for “stuff”, think about the hassles involved in owning it.  After all, no one has ever taken any stuff with them into the next life!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

It’s summertime and plenty of fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are available at the local farmers’ market.  Mimi knows that they are very healthy to eat by themselves.  But as a topping for cheesecake, they are terrific.  (Okay, every now and then, it is good for the soul to indulge in a sweet, creamy treat!)

Here’s a recipe for a crustless cheesecake that is quick, easy and can be made in a blender.

Blender Cheesecake

Grease an 8″ x 8″ pyrex glass dish.

Put in blender:

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon vanilla

 2 – 8 oz. packages cream cheese

Mix 7 minutes in blender.  Pour mixture in baking dish; sprinkle with cinnamon and put in oven.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Top cheesecake with fruit and if you are feeling guilty, use light cream cheese.  You won’t notice the difference.

Keep smilin’!

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