Archive for August, 2009

Dear Readers,

We’re all looking for no-cook recipes to use during these hot August days and this is very good.  The only thing to be cooked is the pasta and that cooks quickly.  This sauce is also a good way to use up all those tomatoes that are ripening at the same time.  Copied this recipe from an old Family Circle magazine and make it at least once every summer.  I hope it will become one of your summer favorites also.

Linguine with No-Cook Puttanesca Sauce

16 oz. pkg. linguine or spaghetti

6 ripe medium tomatoes (2 lbs.), chopped

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pimento-stuffed olives

3 tablespoons capers, drained

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

1 garlic clove, crushed with garlic press

1 cup loosely packed freshed basil leaves, thinly sliced

1.  Prepare linguine in boiling, salted water as label directs.

2.  Meanwhile, in large bowl, stir tomatoes with remaining ingredients except basil.

3.  Drain linguine.  Add linguine and basil to tomato mixture; toss well.  Makes 4 main dish servings.

Note:  Each serving contains 495 calories and 14 grams of fat.  I make the tomato mixture about 1 to 2 hours ahead of time to let the flavors blend.  Just cover the bowl and let stand at room temperature.  Be sure to serve it with some crusty bread so you can sop up all the great sauce.  Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

This summer Papa (my granddaughter’s name for her grandfather) and I had the privilege of spending nearly every Tuesday morning with our granddaughter.

We participated in quite a few fun activities.  Among them was a visit to the local science museum where the highlight was a room full of butterflies.  Watching the amazement of a toddler viewing hundreds of butterflies in a confined area was pure joy.

On other Tuesdays, we ventured to the public library’s toddler reading program.  Each week the program concentrated on a particular theme, such as a birthday party one week and gardening the next.  Three books would be read by the librarian along with guessing games and a weekly march around the room to lively music.  Our two-year-old was a little reserved, sitting on Mimi’s lap during the readings but eagerly parading around holding onto Papa’s and my hands.  Part of our library routine was to pick out a book from the open shelves and read it before we left.  Papa found a book about “stinky clothes” which she absolutely adored.

But the outing on this past Tuesday was the best of the summer.  After driving to Pullen Park, a great place for toddlers, we immediately headed for the ticket counter.  Our granddaughter heard the music from the old calliope and headed straight for the big, inviting carousel.  Papa stepped on to place her on the saddle of a horse of her choosing that rose up and down.  I watched behind the fence and waved each time she circled around.  Seeing my little granddaughter waving and riding the carousel horse with such delight, made my heart dance.  It reminded me of my own childhood and the thrill of waving to my Mom and aunts each time I passed by them.  I even saw her look up at the mechanism above the horse that makes it move.  I did that very same thing, watching the poles go up and down, trying to figure out how they worked.

We also took a train ride around the park.  On the next ride, our little girl navigated the small boats in the water, ringing the bell and waving each time she floated by.  Then there was a picnic lunch of cantaloupe, blueberries and a peanut butter sandwich, all consumed under the cooling shade of a large tree.  After lunch, it was time to head home for an afternoon nap.

The entire morning was great but the best part was watching “a little girl on a carousel” and realizing that she had discovered the magic it held, not just for today but for years to come!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

I guess you can tell by now that Mimi’s favorite dessert is a great big piece of pie!  And there are so many summer fruits that make excellent pies.  There are peaches, strawberries, cherries, blueberries and blackberries available most of the summer.  Well, here’s a great recipe for blackberry pie using either fresh or frozen berries.  Try it and I think you will agree, it’s delicious!

Sour Cream Blackberry Pie


1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup shortening

2 to 3 tablespoons water


1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

3 cups ripe blackberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Grated nutmeg

Combine flour, salt and shortening in a small bowl.  Cut the shortening into flour using pastry blender or two knives until shortening is the size of peas.

Sprinkle with water and stir with fork until mixture holds together.  Roll 1/8-inch thick on a floured board and line an 8- or 9-inch pie plate with it.  Chill.

Mix sour cream, sugar and flour.  Spread blackberries in pie crust.  Sprinkle lemon juice over berries and spoon sour cream mixture over the top.  Grate a sprinkling of nutmeg over the top.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue baking about 40 minutes, or until berries are soft, juicy and bubbly.  Serves 6.

This recipe was originally printed in the June 24, 1990 issue of the Sunday Courier-Journal magazine.  My Dad sent me this recipe.  He was a real blackberry lover.  He used to tell great stories about picking blackberries near the railroad tracks when he was a kid.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Just returned from my morning walk and had more random thoughts popping into my head.  Allow me to share these thoughts with you.

Passed a front door where the top half was clear glass.  Upon closer inspection, I noticed the pane was plastered with children’s artwork; you know, the type brought home from school.

I remembered displaying my children’s artwork on the fridge door, held in place with tape or magnets.  It was so pleasing to my eye and gave me great parental pleasure, every time I retrieved an item from the refrigerator.  Space was limited so only the best stuff got hung up.  And the art changed according to the season.  Thanksgiving turkeys looked sad and lonely in April and Easter bunnies were definitely not hopping very high in October!

But this mother raised the practice of showing childhood art to a new level.  The artistic ability of her children was on display for the whole neighborhood to see.  Kudos to this mom for considering her children’s art so valuable!

My next thought was about creativity.  Since starting this blog, Mimi has realized what a big part creativity plays in writing it.  Some days I hunt for things to discuss.  My brain is as barren and dry as a desert; especially if I’m tired or worried about something.  But then on other days, ideas stream into my brain so constantly that it feels like a deluge.

Why does this happen?  I honestly don’t know.  But on those fruitful days, I make sure there is paper and pencil nearby to jot down these ideas.  And I do it in a hurry before this shower of thoughts overflows and is lost down the drain!

Here is my final thought and it’s an enjoyable one.  Had breakfast at the Waffle House on a recent Sunday and the friendly waitress referred to me as “Baby”.  Now Mimi is 63 years old and certainly not a baby but this southern expression sure made me feel mighty fine!

Keep smilin’!

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Perfect for Pasta

Dear Readers,

Mimi knows almost everyone loves pasta dishes and the trick is to find different sauces and ingredients to add to the pasta.  Here’s a recipe that makes use of the wonderful red, orange and yellow peppers grown in the summer.  They look so tempting lined up on the stalls at the farmers’ market.  Try this recipe – it’s full of summer color, sure to please the whole family and it’s healthy too!  I usually serve it as a main course for a meatless meal, along with silver queen corn-on-the-cob and thick slices of juicy NC tomatoes.

Four Pepper Pasta

1/2 – 16 oz. pkg. penne

1 large red pepper

1 large yellow pepper

1 large orange pepper

1 large red onion

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

About 30 minutes before serving:

1.  Prepare penne as label directs, using 2 teaspoons salt in the water, drain.  Return pasta to saucepot.

2.  Meanwhile, cut peppers and onion into 1/2″ wide strips.  In 12″ skillet over medium-high heat, in hot olive oil, cook peppers, onion and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, until vegetables are tender and browned, about 15 minutes.  Stir in sugar, vinegar, basil and black pepper, heat through.

3.  Toss pepper mixture with pasta.  Makes 4 main dish servings.

Note:  This recipe can be doubled and green peppers can be substituted for the red, yellow and orange peppers.  If you are wondering what the fourth pepper is from the title of the recipe, it’s the cracked black pepper.  Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Emily,

Papa and I want to wish you a very happy second birthday.  You are our special little sweetheart.

These past two years we have had the privilege of watching you grow, observe and learn.  We have enjoyed sharing with you the excitement of new experiences and learning new things.  It’s a gift to be reminded of how a child views the world.  You make us feel young again!

There’s no better feeling in this world than when you run into our waiting arms with a big hug and kiss!

Papa and I love you very much!  May God bless you each and every day of your life!  And remember to always

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

We’re definitely in the dog days of summer.  The temperature is rising and the temperature is expected to hit near 100 degrees today.  This heat wave brings memories of summers in the 50’s.

There was no such thing as home air conditioning.  The only way to escape the heat was to see a matinee at the local movie house.  Air conditioning was a big drawing card for the patrons.  It felt good to enter a cool theater and know that you could stay there for at least 3-1/2 to 4 hours.  Admission was 10 cents and for that dime we could see  two movies – the main feature in Technicolor and the second movie in black and white, 15 minutes of cartoons and exciting previews of upcoming shows.  My Dad took my sister and me to the Broadway Show on many Sunday afternoons in the summer.  We dodged the blistering afternoon sun while we viewed musicals, cop and robber stories, and cowboy adventures out west.

Ice cream cones and snowballs were another method of beating the heat.  We would go to Pop’s Sweet Shoppe at Schiller and Kentucky Streets for ice cream cones.  One dip was 5 cents and if we were lucky, Mom gave us 2 nickels for a double dip cone.  Of course selecting ice cream flavors was serious business.  Vanilla was never a consideration – it was just too bland!  Peach, banana and maple walnut were Mimi’s favorites.  Choosing  flavors for a double dip required twice as much time.  Chocolate and another flavor was always a winning combo.  We never selected the same flavor for both dips!  Handling a double dip was tricky because it would be a catastrophe if the top dip fell off; which it did on occasion.  Then sometimes the man behind the counter felt sorry for us and gave us a free replacement dip.

Snowballs consisted of a mound of crushed ice the size of a softball that was placed in a pointed, cone shaped paper cup.  The price of this cooling concoction was only 5 cents!  Flavor concentrates were generously poured over the ice.  There were lots of flavors to choose from:  cherry, strawberry, lemon, lime, grape, orange, rootbeer, banana and many more.  A rainbow snowball contained a squirt of all the flavors.  It usually turned out an ugly brown color.  You guessed it – Mimi never wasted a nickel on a rainbow snowball!  Along with each snowball came a flat, lightweight spoon made of balsa wood that was used to chop up the ice.

Yes, those summer days were hot but with treats like movies, ice cream and snowballs, we kids could endure anything!

Keep smilin’!

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Sizzling Summer Sides

Dear Readers,

Try saying the blog title quickly 5 times in a row without stuttering!  Seriously, most summer cooking consists of grilling brats, burgers or chicken; and the usual accompaniments are corn-on-the-cob and sliced tomatoes.  How about trying one of these “sizzling summer sides” to perk up your summer meals?

Here are two recipes I’ve tried lately and are winners.  They’re simple and delicious.  Both recipes are from Rozanne Gold’s “Recipes 1-2-3”.  This is a collection of recipes using only 3 ingredients, not counting salt and pepper.

Giant Glazed Onions with Balsamic Vinegar

3 very large yellow onions

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Peel the onions and cut them in half horizontally.  Put cut side down in a heavy shallow casserole.  Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil over the onions.  Add a sprinkling of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bake 20 minutes.  Cut side of onions will be black.  Turn over and flatten with a spatula.  Bake another 15 minutes.  Turn again, flatten with a spatula and bake another 20 minutes.

Remove the onions from the casserole.  They should be soft and caramelized.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and vinegar to the pan.  Pour the juices over the onions.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Serves 6.

Barley-Buttermilk Salad

2 cups uncooked pearl barley (quick cooking type)

1 cup buttermilk

6 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a small saucepan, bring 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add the barley, lower heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes, covered.  Let stand 5 minutes.

Drain well and put in a bowl.  Add the buttermilk, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.  Serve warm, at room temperature,  or chilled.  If barley becomes dry, add a little more buttermilk.  Makes 5 cups.

Note:  I cooked barley in chicken broth instead of water for extra richness.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

The other morning I saw a young father holding  his baby, rocking to and fro on a front porch swing.  It was quite a scene of love and contentment.  Reminded me of the swing hung from our back porch in Louisville, Ky. 

It was a wooden swing, seating three, built by Mom’s uncle and painted green and white.  It held a prominent spot in our childhood world of make-believe.  Sometimes it was a car that we drove at dizzying speeds and then hit the brakes with a loud screeching sound provided by us.  Other times it served as the sofa in our pretend playhouse; and we admonished each other not to swing it because sofas don’t move back and forth!  And then there were days when the swing was a seat on a giant ferris wheel.  We pretended we were climbing  higher and higher.  But then Mom warned us not to hit the clematis bush on the fence behind it.  My older sister told me that many times she used it as an airplane seat.

Our porch swing was also a social gathering spot.  Mom and Dad would sit there on lazy summer Sunday afternoons trying to catch a breeze that blew through the gangway between our house and the one next door.  We did not have air conditioning; so when summer guests arrived, they were escorted to the back porch swing for an afternoon of cool drinks and lively conversations.  My sisters and I loved to sit on the steps near it and listen to aunts and uncles tell funny stories of their childhood.

The porch swing was still a part of my life after I married and left Louisville.  My daughter was 4 months old, when we flew to Louisville to visit her grandparents.  Mom and I spent a lot of time in the swing rocking my firstborn.  I have a great photograph of my son at 3 months old sitting on his grandfather’s lap in it.

Our family swing is no longer there.  It was auctioned off with the rest of the family furniture after my parents died.  We all took family treasures but none of us had room for a porch swing.  Seeing that father and child in their swing brought back so many good memories.  I just hope that baby will enjoy many pleasant love-filled moments in his porch swing!

Keep smilin’!

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