October 26, 2016

Dear friends,

Time sneaks up on you. One Halloween you dress up as Carmen Miranda with tap shoes and real fruit on your head (I made a chicken-wire base and centered the arrangement with a pineapple), and the next thing you know you’re spending the holiday on the sofa in a sweat suit watching TV.

When did Halloween parties stop being part of my life? In my 30s and 40s, even in years when no friends threw a bash, I at least dressed up and hit the streets of Kent for my alma mater’s surreal downtown blowout.

One year I went as half-man, half-woman, buying two head-to-toe outfits at Goodwill, cutting everything down the middle, and sewing the male-female pieces together. One half of my head was covered with a fedora and the other half with a flowered pillbox.

Now I don’t even hand out candy to trick-or-treaters because we don’t have any on my stretch of country road, where the houses are far apart and set way back. For a couple of years I bought a few treats and delivered them myself to neighborhood kids, but the children grew up and I don’t bother anymore.

Somewhere I still have a cache of silly disguises such as Groucho Marx glasses, a pig’s nose, and antennas made from miniature slinkys and ping pong balls glued to a headband. For most of my adult life I kept such things handy because you just never knew….

Yes, once I was the kind of person who dressed up and went out on Halloween. I miss her, but not enough to become her again. That would require staying out after 10 p.m. and drinking alcohol, neither of which I enjoy much anymore.

On the other hand, my taste for Halloween treats continues unabated. If I still bought candy bars for door-knockers, I would probably still buy way too many and use the leftovers in something like Milky Way brownies, which I wrote about in my Carmen Miranda days. If you lean more to Snickers, I’m also sharing a recipe I developed for Snickers cheesecake made with 16 miniature (“fun size”) candy bars. For the latter, Snickers bars are melted down, swirled through the batter and drizzled over a sour cream topping. More bars are sliced and used to decorate the finished cake.


2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups sugar, divided
1/4 lb. butter, melted
4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp. vanilla
Pinch salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
16 Snickers fun-size bars, divided
4 tbsp. milk, divided
2 cups sour cream
Whipped cream for garnish
Whole fun-size Snickers Bars for garnish

Stir together graham crumbs and one-fourth cup sugar in a bowl. Drizzle in butter and stir well with a fork. Press evenly into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan.

Beat cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups sugar at medium speed of electric mixer until soft and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt and blend. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on lowest speed of mixer. Pour over crust.

Chop 10 candy bars and combine with two tablespoons milk in a small saucepan. Cook and stir over very low heat until smooth. Spoon over cheesecake batter in parallel strips. With a knife, cut across the strips to swirl melted candy into batter. Bake in a preheated, 350-degree oven for one hour, or until done. The cheesecake is done when the edges appear to be firm, but center moves slightly when gently shaken. Cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop remaining six candy bars and melt with remaining two tablespoons milk over low heat. Beat together sour cream and remaining one- fourth cup sugar. Spread sour cream mixture over cheesecake. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle melted candy over sour cream in a decorative pattern. Return to oven for three minutes. Refrigerate immediately. Before serving, decorate with whipped cream and whole candy bars, if desired.


13 fun-size Milky Way Bars
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt


4 fun-size Milky Way Bars
2 tbsp. butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. water

For batter, chop candy bars into thirds and combine with butter in a small saucepan. Cover and stir over very low heat until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour blended with baking powder and salt.

Spread batter in a greased, 8-by-8-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until edges pull away from sides of pan. Cool.

For frosting, melt candy bars with butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar and water, beating until creamy. Spread over cooled brownies. Cut into squares to serve.


The Boy Scouts in Uniontown are cooking again, which is cause for celebration. The Scouts (actually, their parents and boosters, including my friend Marty LaConte), are staging their popular cabbage roll fund-raiser this weekend at Queen of Heaven Catholic Church’s Parish Life Center. On Sunday, eat-in or carry-out diners will get two big cabbage rolls, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, corn bread or a roll and beverage for $8 for adults and $6 for children.

The hours are noon to 3 p.m. but I suggest you go early because the cabbage rolls usually sell out. That may happen early this year because the dinner is being held after church rather than on the usual Saturday night. Also, cabbage rolls may be bought in bulk this year from 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday evening, after the all-day cooking session. Marty and her crew will make 800 cabbage rolls as usual, and when they’re gone they’re gone.

The church is at 1800 Steese Road in Uniontown.


From Sue T., Pittsburgh:
I have a favorite ice pop recipe that I am trying to modify to a low-sugar version since I am on Weight Watchers. Do you have any suggestions for a sugar replacement in a frozen treat?  My recipe is 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup white wine, 3/4 cup lemon juice and grated rind of 4 lemons. Thank you so much.

Dear Sue: I would replace the sugar with a generous half-cup of Splenda granular and taste. Add a bit more Splenda if necessary. Then beat the bejeezus out of the mixture in a blender to aerate it before you pour it into ice-pop molds. Even better would be to partially freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker before spooning into the molds.

Sugar helps soften the texture of frozen treats. Without sugar, your pops could freeze to the consistency of a block of ice. The wine helps, and so will aerating or processing in an ice cream maker.

I replace the sugar with half as much Splenda granular because I think it is sweeter than regular sugar, although the company says otherwise. Also, it can develop a bitter edge if too much is added.

October 20, 2016

Dear friends,

Rats. I remember yet another original recipe I have lost. A loaf of coarse-textured cranberry-cornmeal yeast bread would go so well with fall stews and roasts, not to mention a Thanksgiving turkey.

I created the recipe for Second Helpings, my Internet newsletter when I worked at the Beacon Journal. The online recipes weren’t saved in the newspaper’s database, and I lost my copies in one of many computer blowouts. Gaaa!

If anyone out there has the recipe I’d be grateful for a copy. While I wait, I’ll nibble on a few cornmeal-cranberry scones. I found the scone recipe when I was searching the Internet for my cornmeal yeast bread. Sometimes my recipes turn up in other food sites, but not this time. The scones are pretty good, and almost satisfied my craving. The small amount of corn meal added to the flour base produces a texture that is slightly grainy and tastes of corn. This recipe is from the Ocean Spray Cranberries folks.



2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup milk
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl and stir until mixed. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form. Add milk and stir with fork just until a sticky dough forms. Gently stir dried cranberries into dough.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently about 10 times. Pat dough into a 1/2-inch thick circle. Cut out dough circles with a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter and place on cookie sheet.  Bake 14 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 10 scones.


Please change your copy of last week’s Ginger Beef with Black Bean Sauce recipe to read “2 lbs. beef tenderloin” rather than “2 tbsp.” Most of you had already figured that out, but I liked the comments that poured in regarding my mistake. “Are you sure that’s Tylenol you’re taking?” one reader queried.


From Christine T.:
My father used your chicken liver and walnut pate recipe that was published in the Akron Beacon Journal 15 years ago or so. He has been unable to find a copy of the recipe. Is this something you can provide?

Dear Christine: Yes, and gladly. Although the recipe isn’t mine (I got it from a Silver Palate recipe calendar), I have been spreading the word about it for years. It’s the best chicken liver pate I’ve eaten – voluptuous with cream and cognac, and studded with bits of crisp bacon and crunchy nuts.

8 slices bacon, diced
1 lb. chicken livers
1/2 cup brandy
3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
1 tsp. dried thyme
Large pinch ground nutmeg
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley

One day before serving, fry the diced bacon in a medium skillet until crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. In same skillet, sauté the livers in the hot bacon fat over medium-high heat until brown on the outside but still pink inside, 4 or 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Pour the brandy into the skillet over medium heat and stir, scraping loose browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cream and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to about 1 cup.

Process the livers, onion, and reduced cream in a food processor until smooth. Add the mayonnaise, thyme, nutmeg, salt and plenty of pepper. Process until smooth. Add the diced bacon, walnuts, and parsley and pulse just until blended. Transfer to a crock or decorative serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with baguette slices or crackers.

From Debbie M.:
I’m gearing up for holiday baking. Do you or any of your readers know where bakers can purchase ground poppy seed? It’s rather expensive on Amazon and I prefer to support local merchants when possible. I placed an order for apricot butter on Amazon and purchased walnuts when they were on sale. I’m getting ready to make kolachy rolls but need ground poppy seed — my husband’s and son’s favorite. Thanks!

Dear Debbie: Leach’s Meats & Sweets in Barberton sells ground poppy seed filling for $3 a pound. No doubt other stores sell it, too. Check bakeries and stores in areas that have a large Eastern European population.

Leach’s is at 256 31st. St. SW, phone 330-825-4415.

From Maryann:
I enjoyed your comments about apples, pies, and dumplings. My mother used to make little dumplings with leftover apples and dough that we called “pagach,” which could be either of Slovak or Polish origin.

In your list of which apples were good for what, you left out the very excellent Courtland apples. They are the only ones I use for pies and most apple cake recipes. They retain their shape in a pie, but aren’t crunchy or mushy. They also seem to absorb the spices well. My pie recipe uses flour, sugar and cinnamon, and makes a light brown slurry rather than the clear gel-like sauce of most apple pies. People who say they don’t like apple pie have changed their mind after tasting mine!

Dear Maryann: Heck, I’m sold and I haven’t even tasted it.

October 12, 2016

Dear friends,

Dinner tonight is a hunk of French bread, horseradish pickles and low-fat cottage cheese. I have lost my husband and chief cook to deer season. While he hunkers in a tree somewhere, I lie supine in a tilt-back chair, heaving myself upright and hobbling around the house only to let the dog out, limp to the bathroom, or fetch a snack from the kitchen.

This is week six of my recovery from a total knee replacement. I appreciate all the encouraging emails, and I thank Dorena and Marty for visiting and bringing food. I have graduated from a walker to a cane, and from hard drugs to Tylenol. I even drove a car – briefly – last weekend.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you, and why you won’t be seeing an original recipe from me yet again this week. It’s because cooking has become an extreme sport. OK, we’re back to me. Sadly, I can’t stand long enough to chop an onion and a head of cabbage, let alone brown them in a skillet.

Before this painful operation, I thought I’d enjoy a couple of weeks in bed with Tony supplying a steady stream of savory tidbits and cups of tea. Then life would get back to normal. Ha! I was in too much agony to eat for the first two weeks, and now that the pain has subsided to merely a wasp-stinging-me-in-the-leg level, Tony is off to the woods. Just kill me.

I hope next week or maybe the week after that I will resume cooking. Until then it will be cottage cheese, carry out and Lean Cuisine for me, and a reheated recipe for you. Luckily, I have a lot of truly great recipes lying around. I had forgotten I even had this recipe for gingered beef from local legendary Thai chef Sue Fogle. I can’t wait to make it again.

2 tbsp. beef tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. brandy
1 tbsp. peeled and chopped ginger
2 tbsp. black bean sauce (sold in Asian markets)
1 tbsp. orange marmalade
1/2 cup quartered and sliced onion
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp. slivered red bell pepper
2 tbsp. chopped green onion

Place beef and flour in a plastic or paper bag and shake to coat the meat. Heat about one-eighth inch oil in a large, heavy skillet. Brown beef on all sides in the oil. Add brandy and stir well. Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain any remaining oil and brandy from skillet.

In the same pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add ginger, black bean sauce and marmalade and stir for 2 minutes. Add onion and oyster sauce and stir 2 minutes longer. Return beef to pan and stir over heat for 1 minute. Add chicken broth and stir over high heat for a minute. Spoon mixture onto plates and sprinkle with slivered peppers and chopped green onions. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

4 cups flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups solid vegetable shortening, chilled
1/2 cup cold water
1 egg
1 tbsp. vinegar

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add shortening by teaspoons. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut shortening into flour mixture until the bits are pea-size and evenly distributed.

With a fork, beat together water, egg and vinegar. Drizzle into the flour mixture, tossing with a fork to moisten evenly. Cut briefly with knives or a pastry blender to work in any remaining dry flour. Do not stir or knead. Gather dough into 2 balls, wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes or up to 2 days. Dough also may be wrapped well and frozen.

Western Fruit Basket is alive and kicking in downtown Akron. Last week I mistakenly said it had closed based on a visual scan of the vacant corner where it used to do business at Broadway and East Market Street. The new owners let me know the Greek grocery/restaurant/bakery/gift basket business changed hands two years ago and moved a couple of doors down the street to 115 E. Market St.

The store always has baklava on hand, as well as spanakopita, galataboureko and various other Greek pastries. Kataifi, the shredded wheat-like pastry a reader asked about last week, may be ordered, says Meela Magois, who owns the shop with her father, Greg.

If you visit around lunch time, try a fresh-made lamb or chicken gyro, a specialty, for just $4. The menu also includes hard-to-find Greek dishes such as pastitsio, moussaka and Greek spaghetti. The phone is 330-376-3917 and the website is http://www.wfbasket.com.

From Debbie Minerich:
I enjoyed your recent article and recipe for mac and cheese and have attached a family favorite that was passed along by my husband, Bill, whose Boy Scout Troop makes it on camp-outs. Most times we just “eyeball” the amount of ingredients rather than rely on accurate measurements. We also like to heat our home-canned stewed tomatoes to top the baked casserole with prior to serving. Enjoy!

8 oz. macaroni (elbow or shells)
1 to 2 tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
8 oz. sour cream
2 cups cottage cheese
8 oz. cream cheese, cut in cubes
8 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Partially precook macaroni until it is a bit firmer than al dente. Drain and return to pan. Heat oil in a small skillet and sauté chopped onion until translucent.

Combine all ingredients in the macaroni pan and mix well. Pour into a buttered, 2-quart baking dish. Cover with a lid or foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes or until bubbly.

Dear Debbie: Thanks for sharing your family favorite.  I like the idea of the tomatoes.

From Molly C.:
Jane, for the person, O.R.  looking for kataifi, it may be found at Aladdin’s Baking Co. on Carnegie in downtown Cleveland. Aladdin’s is just down the street from Progressive Field (go Tribe!). Here’s a link: http://www.aladdinbaking.com/con1.html.

My favorite Middle Eastern restaurant is Nate’s on West 25th, a few storefronts north of the West Side Market. Highly, highly recommend for anything on the Middle Eastern menu. I can’t speak for the deli choices as I’ve never eaten anything other than the delicious Lebanese fare.

Dear Molly: Thanks for the valuable advice. I’ve heard of Nate’s but never visited. Thanks for reminding me. I’ll drag Tony away from Chinatown on our next trip to Cleveland, and have lunch at Nate’s.

October 5, 2016

Dear friends,

The last time I made an upside-down apple tart I used the wrong kind of apples and ended up with pie dough topped with applesauce. When you bake with apples, variety is crucial.

I don’t remember from year to year which variety is good for what, so I usually fall back on Golden Delicious. It is good for pies and tarts because the apple slices retain their shape when cooked.

When I want to branch out, I do not consult the Pollyanna charts from apple growers, which pretty much say every apple is good for everything. That’s where I went wrong in using Gala apples for a tarte tatin. Instead, I Google cookbook author Nancy Baggett. She tested a bunch of apple varieties in all kinds of preparations and has reliable recommendations.

The best choices for whole baked apples: Empire, Honeycrisp, Jonathan, Braeburn and Rome.

Some good choices for pies and crisps: Stayman, Rome, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Pink Lady and York.

Nancy likes to punch up the flavor of pies by using three kinds of apples. I bought just one kind, but you may want to follow her lead if you make a pie this month. I won’t be making apple pie. Earlier this week I made dumplings, the preferred treatment for apples in my youth, when my mother would make a big batch each autumn for an all-dessert supper.

You can’t get away from apple dumplings in Ohio in the fall, which is a good thing. Just about every small market and farm stand sells them. Often they are the whole-apple kind consisting of a cored apple filled with cinnamon-sugar and butter, wrapped in pie dough and baked. They are good, I’ll grant you, but I prefer the sliced-apple kind I learned to make at my mother’s kitchen counter.

The recipe couldn’t be easier. Sliced apples are mounded on squares of dough and topped with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. The pastry is drawn up around the apples and pinched, and the dumplings are baked on cookie sheets.

I baked some for Tony using half Splenda and just a smidge of brown sugar. I plunked my warm dumpling in a cereal bowl and topped it with cold milk. For a moment, I was a 8 years old again.

1 recipe Mom’s Pie Dough (recipe follows)
6 medium apples
1 tsp. cinnamon
16 tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. chilled butter, cut in 16 pieces

Divide each of the balls of dough in half, to make 4 pieces of dough. Working with one piece at a time (refrigerate the others), roll on floured waxed paper into a 12-inch square. Cut into four 6-inch squares.

Peel an apple, cut into fourths and remove the core. Cut into thin slices and mound about 1/3 cup in the center of each dough square. Work with one apple at a time to prevent browning. Sprinkle apple mounds with a pinch (1/16 tsp.) of cinnamon. Mold 1 packed tablespoon brown sugar over each mound of apples. Top each with a piece of butter.

Gather dough around each mound of filling, pinching to seal. Place on rimmed, parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, until apples are tender and pastry starts to brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 16 dumplings. Recipe may be halved or cut in fourths.

4 cups flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups solid vegetable shortening, chilled
1/2 cup cold water
1 egg
1 tbsp. vinegar

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add shortening by teaspoons. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut shortening into flour mixture until the bits are pea-size and evenly distributed.

With a fork, beat together water, egg and vinegar. Drizzle into the flour mixture, tossing with a fork to moisten evenly. Cut briefly with knives or a pastry blender to work in any remaining dry flour. Do not stir or knead. Gather dough into 2 balls, wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes or up to 2 days. Dough also may be wrapped well and frozen.

From Suzanne Y.:
Did you mention that you were a fan of the Post House Restaurant located on the corner of State Routes 585 and 57 near Orrville? If so, you may want to make a trip before the end of February 2017 — they are closing their business.

On Facebook, Suzy West wrote, “As a family member of the Post House Restaurant, I would like to thank you all for your kind comments and walk down memory lane. Yes it is becoming common knowledge that we are closing… “

Evidently they had some code violations and it takes boatload of money to fix. Mainly sprinklers. It’s an old house.

Dear Suzanne: Yes, I did write about the Post House and its terrific omelets (the eggs are mixed with a bit of pancake flour in a blender). I’m sorry to hear the restaurant is closing. Those who want a good homespun meal should visit soon. Hours are 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

From O.R.:
I managed to miss out on the kataifi at this year’s Annunciation Greek Festival!  It’s one of my favorite Greek pastries.  Do you or any other readers know of local bakeries that routinely carry it?  Many thanks.

Dear O.R.: That’s a tough one. Kataifi, for those who are wondering, are pastry logs made from shredded filo dough wrapped around a nut center and soaked in syrup. They look like little shredded wheats. Since Western Fruit Basket in Akron closed, I don’t know of a bakery that carries Greek pastries other than baklava. All is not lost, though. Athens Foods, the Cleveland company; that makes filo dough, sells ready-made, frozen kataifi. Check out the website, http://www.athensfoods.com, then contact the company to find a store near you.

September 28, 2016

Dear friends,

Tony has been on a macaroni and cheese kick since our trip to Memphis last spring. He ordered it in all the barbecue joints we visited in Kentucky and Tennessee, enthralled that tastier versions exist than the one in the blue and yellow box. Apparently it was the first time he had ventured beyond Kraft, and he couldn’t get over it.

I don’t make mac and cheese because of the fat factor, so Tony has had to glean the odd sample where he can – diners, Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel. It has been slim pickings, which is why I decided to make a big panful to take to a pig pickin’ pot luck on Sunday. I knew Eunice’s mega-watt macaroni and cheese would outshine any he had tasted on the trip.

Eunice is a woman I met once at a Juneteenth festival in Southwest Akron. A bunch of people were celebrating the anniversary of the historic day (June 19) word of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Texas, months after it was issued by Abraham Lincoln in January 1863. I figured such a gathering would attract at least a smattering of good cooks, so I went to eat and stumbled on Eunice’s stellar macaroni and cheese.

A few days later at her house, Eunice let me in on her secret: Four cheeses, including cream cheese for a velvety, rich finish. Her version also contains butter, egg and evaporated milk in addition to 2 ¼ pounds of cheese in all. No wonder it tasted good.

I’m still hobbling around with a can and walker, so Tony helped make the mac and cheese Sunday morning. I measured and chopped the cheese, and he stirred it into the cooked macaroni until it melted. It smelled and looked wonderful when it came out of the oven. We wrapped it in newspaper, hauled it to the party and came back with an empty pan. I was embarrassed but touched when I overheard Tony point out our casserole to folks in the buffet line. There were several mac and cheeses, and Tony didn’t want anyone to miss the best one.

“How does my macaroni and cheese compare to the ones you tasted on our trip?” I asked with a sly grin on the way home.

“It is almost the best,” Tony said with a touch of regret. “Moonlite Bar-B-Que is still better.”

Oh, really? Well, until he can get to Owensboro, Ky.,again, Eunice’s will have to do.

1 lb. elbow macaroni
2 cans (12 oz. each) evaporated milk
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 lb. Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 lb. Colby cheese, grated
1 lb. (half of a box) Velveeta cheese, cut in small cubes
4 oz. cream cheese, cut in small cubes
1 egg
Salt, pepper

Cook macaroni in a large kettle of boiling, salted water until al dente – pliable but not mushy. Drain well and return to pot. Add milk and butter and place over medium-low heat. When butter has melted, add cheese a little at a time until the cheeses have melted into a smooth sauce.

Remove from heat and stir in egg. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until edges begin to set and casserole is bubbly.

Serves 10 to 12 as a side dish.



Ripe fruit are dropping from local pawpaw trees now, and I got my mitts on three of them. A kind reader, Lori, recalled that I had whined earlier this summer about never having tasted these large, native Ohio fruits. When her tree in Bath began dropping the ripe fruit she sent me an email, and soon delivered three paw paws to my door.

“Not everyone likes them,” she cautioned. “Let me know what you think.”

The greenish-yellow fruits are about the size of a small fist, with the slightly flattened, oval shape of a Haitian mango. I cut one in half and dipped in a spoon. The flavor starts out OK – kind of a cross between banana and passion fruit – but it keeps intensifying until it goes too far, slumping into a faintly chemical, rotten flavor at the finish. The texture is usually described as “creamy” but to me it was more slime than custard. I can’t help thinking of pawpaws as the durian fruit of the New World.

Anyway, Lori, that’s what I thought of it. Even though I didn’t like it, I appreciate the chance to finally taste it, and for that I thank you.


From Bill Bowen:
I just read your post and the green tomato mincemeat recipe. I would heartily suggest that the tomatoes and apples be ground as the recipe instructs in an old-fashioned meat grinder. I’ve tried to adapt several of my older recipes that call for ground ingredients by using the food processor. However, what you get is finely chopped and dry rather than ground and juicy. And somehow that makes a difference in the texture of the final dish, which always leaves me disappointed.

Dear Bill: My grandmother’s hand-crank meat grinder is on a shelf in my kitchen, in limbo until I have an excuse to use it. I think I’ve found it.

September 21, 2016

Dear friends,

As I type this, Tony is bronzing a dozen ears of corn on the grill, the latest salvo in his endearing attempt to cook me well. He has grilled T-bone steaks and eggplant, made the best meatloaf I’ve ever tasted, and served me Japanese curry, tamago (Japanese sweet omelet) and cantaloupe macerated in plum wine.

I didn’t know the man could cook. Sure, he’s a chef, but a SUSHI chef who deals primarily in raw seafood and rice. Until now he has played dumb in the kitchen while encouraging me to make all of our meals. After 10 years you’ve been outed, pal.

But how can I be annoyed when he is taking such good care of me while I recover from knee replacement surgery? I can’t.

Tony has had a couple of misfires, true. Lunch one day was a platter of peanut butter, pesto and Cheddar cheese sandwiches, a startling combo he admitted he had “just made up.” And I had to get tough one day as he hungrily eyed a 4-pound sack of frozen corn I had used for two weeks as an ice bag. No, he could not cook and eat corn that had been frozen and thawed repeatedly. Besides, this was Ohio in the middle of fresh corn season.

Slowly I have learned to hobble to the kitchen with a walker and fetch my morning yogurt. I have graduated from reheating coffee and carrying it back to the living room in a big plastic glass (to prevent slop-overs) to actually making the coffee. And although I’m in no hurry to elbow Tony out of the kitchen, I did make soup with his help on Saturday.

Because of my limited mobility and endurance, the soup had to be quick and easy to make. I sent Tony to the store for a tube of breakfast sausage, a bag of spinach and some potatoes, and we set to work.

Tony actually did almost everything while I emptied cartons of broth into a soup pot and instructed.
Some of you already may have guessed we made Potato and Greens Soup, one of my old favorites.

This version was different, though, because of the broth. Typically the soup is made by simmering peeled and chunked-up potatoes in chicken broth until falling-apart tender, then mashing the potatoes right in the pan and adding browned bulk sausage, handfuls of fresh spinach and cream.

For years I’ve substituted fat-free milk for the cream, and this time I used a wonderful Thai-flavored broth in place of chicken stock. If you can find the broth, snap it up. It is “Thai Coconut Curry Culinary Broth” made by College Inn and sold in a 32-ounce aseptic box. I have not seen it in any supermarket, but I have found it twice at R Grocery Outlet (also known as Sommers), the indoor surplus-groceries retailer at Hartville Marketplace in Hartville.

The Thai broth turned my old favorite into an entirely different soup – slightly exotic but still comforting, with underlying flavors of coconut and lemongrass. If you manage to get your hands on some of the broth, buy extra because it would be spectacular in any number of dishes. I’m looking forward to big bowlfuls of Thai steamed mussels.

I have tried to duplicate the broth with no success so far. Of course, the soup is plenty good enough with plain chicken broth.

One last note: I’m only telling you about this find because, in my current mobility-compromised state, I won’t be shopping at the mega market any time soon. But in the coming months when my knee has healed, I trust you won’t be as greedy as I was on my last trip to the store when I bought every last box of broth on the shelves. Please, show some restraint.
2 aseptic boxes (32 oz. each) College Inn Thai Coconut Curry Culinary Broth (or chicken broth)
5 medium-large potatoes
1 lb. bulk (not link) sausage (the kind that comes in a plastic tube)
1 cup fat-free or 2 percent milk
8 oz. fresh spinach leaves, washed and drained

Place broth in a soup pot and bring to a simmer. While broth heats, peel potatoes and cut into big chunks. Add to broth, cover and simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes, until potatoes are falling-apart tender.
With a potato masher, mash the potatoes right in the pan, leaving some of the potato slightly chunky.

While the potatoes cook, brown the sausage in a skillet. After mashing the potatoes, transfer sausage to the soup pot with a slotted spoon. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in milk and return to a boil. Stir in spinach and simmer for a few minutes, until spinach is wilted. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

One of the bright spots of my recent hospital stay was a visit by a dear friend, Chuck Montague, who came bearing chocolate. Lilly Handmade Chocolates to be precise, from the artisan chocolate shop of the same name in the Tremont area of Cleveland.

The hands making the chocolates belong to Chuck’s son and daughter-in-law, chefs Joshua and Amanda Montague. Each extreme-gourmet chocolate was exquisite, but none more so than a filled white chocolate gilded with a pink leopard print. It featured a creamy center of orange liqueur and blood orange and passion fruit reductions enrobed in Valrhona white chocolate. Ask for the “Frou-Frou” when you visit the shop, which you should do immediately. The website is http://www.lillytremont.com.

Cookbook sale

Although my shelves are stuffed, I can’t resist buying cookbooks at flea markets and yard sales. There’s no such thing as too many cookbooks, right? If you agree, you won’t want to miss the used book sale Oct. 1 at the Akron-Summit County Public Library’s main location in downtown Akron.

The library and its branches regularly host book sales to raise money and cull older titles from both the library and volunteers’ collections. The Oct. 1 sale is unique in that it will feature only cookbooks. The Friends of the Main Library have amassed hundreds of cookbooks for the sale, which will be held just outside the gift shop during library hours. Happy hunting.

From Laura Lea Frank:
I found my mom’s recipe for green tomato mincemeat from the 1930s if you’re interested. Most (modern) recipes for mincemeat don’t have any meat in them This one takes suet (people still buy it at meat counters to feed the birds).

Dear Laura: You bet I’m interested. Thanks for sending this heritage recipe from your mother, Rose Conley of Tallmadge.

1 peck of green tomatoes, ground
1/2 peck of apples, peeled and ground
2 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. ground cloves
2 tbsp. ground allspice
1 cup vinegar
5 pounds brown sugar
3 cups finely chopped suet

Combine ground tomatoes, apples spices, vinegar and sugar in a large kettle. Cook slowly for 3 hours. Cool. Stir in the suet. Can in glass jars. Makes about 8 quarts. Recipe may be halved.

Note from Jane: Because canning recommendations have changed since this recipe was developed, I suggest you freeze the mincemeat in pie-sized (5-cup) portions instead.

August 31, 2016

Dear friends,

I’m obsessed with tomatoes this summer, maybe because I don’t have any. I harvested just one big, juicy yellow-orange globe from my vines before weeds strangled the last gasping tendril. A month’s vacation did ‘em in.

Without the usual tomato glut, I have been coveting friends’ tomato patches and lusting after the many varieties in farm markets. Last week I lugged home a peck to freeze and almost another peck to eat, and I’m still not sated.

My M.O. this summer is tomato sandwiches. I have slipped thick slices between seeded whole wheat with pesto and a bit of chicken. I have indulged in BLTs and grilled Spam, cheese and tomato. Last weekend I made my favorite so far: Blue cheese and tomato on a soft wheat roll. If anyone knows of a better tomato sandwich, I’d like to hear about it. Seriously.

Tony is about to meet Mr. Tomato in a big way. He has promised to feed me while I recuperate from a knee replacement. By the time you read this, I hope to be home from the hospital. While I lounge in the living room with my ipad and ice compresses, Tony will be in the kitchen making tomato sandwiches.

When he’s done with that, I’ll ask him to make some fresh tomato salsa to spoon over grilled steaks, and roasted tomato sauce to freeze. Tony will either cater to my tomato fixation or abandon me. I think it’s a toss-up.

My favorite salsa fresca recipe starts with a saute of diced portobello mushrooms and garlic flavored with balsamic vinegar. The cooked mushrooms and garlic give the salsa a rich backbone of flavor.

The remaining ingredients are simple — diced ripe tomatoes, sweet onion, green onion, a smidgen of minced jalapeno for heat, and diced yellow bell pepper for color. Roasted corn, barely scorched at the edges, is added, too. The salsa is seasoned with olive oil, lime juice and a hint of ground cumin.

Chopped fresh basil and cilantro are folded in at the end.

My recipe calls for seeding the tomatoes, which is simple. Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally, hold the halves over the sink, and squeeze. The seeds and liquid will come pouring out, leaving you with the pure, meaty flesh.

Too many ripe tomatoes? Do not refrigerate, which kills the flavor. Instead, store them in a dark place to help prevent decay. Or just turn them into roasted tomato sauce. My version is wonderfully full-flavored and a snap to make: On a baking sheet, place 6 medium tomatoes, 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic and a peeled onion cut in half. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and the skins are beginning to split.

When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and place the pulp and juice, along with the onion and peeled garlic, in a food processor.

Puree, then simmer in a saucepan for about 20 minutes to thicken. Ladle into freezer bags and stash away for a taste of summer in the middle of winter.

But enough about those gray, tomato-less days ahead. Today the sun is shining and tomatoes are plentiful. Now is the time to make tomato sandwiches and salsa like crazy. Or in my case, to get my husband to do it.

(Fresh tomato-basil salsa)

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely diced portobello mushrooms (about 3 oz.)
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup diced sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1 green onion, including top, sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 fresh jalapeno, minced fine
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
1 tbsp. minced fresh basil
1 to 2 ears corn, scorched in a dry skillet

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Add garlic and mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are limp and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and stir until vinegar evaporates.

Place mushroom mixture in a medium bowl with tomatoes, onion, green onion, bell pepper and jalapeno. Stir well. Add olive oil, lime juice, salt and cumin. Stir well. Stir in cilantro and basil. Cut corn kernels from ear(s) and fold into salsa. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

In the past week I’ve used my microwave to cook corn, reheat coffee, defrost a Lebanese meat turnover and zap a lemon before squeezing to increase juiciness. I don’t often cook in it, although I should in the summer. The microwave is especially good at baking fruit crisps. Local peaches are spectacular this year, so treat yourself:


5 peaches
4 tbsp. flour
3 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup quick oats

To peel peaches more easily, microwave each peach, one at a time, for 30 seconds. Peel immediately while microwaving next peach. Cut each peach into 8 slices. Combine peach slices and 2 tablespoons of the flour in a buttered 8-inch glass pie pan or equivalent shallow microwave-safe dish. Stir to distribute flour.

Melt the 3 tablespoons butter on high power in a small bowl. Stir in chopped almonds, brown sugar, oats and remaining flour. Sprinkle evenly over peaches. Microwave on high power for 6 minutes or until peaches are tender and topping is bubbly. Makes 4 servings.

From Lorraine:
Can you take another garden recipe? My sister is visiting and loved this.

2 to 3 medium zucchinis
l small onion
2 tbsp. olive oil

Cut zucchinis into disks. Sauté onion in olive oil until soft. Add zucchini and cook until they soften a bit, 5 to 6 minutes over medium heat. Add an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, a pinch or two of oregano, some fresh basil leaves and cook until zucchini is tender but a bit firm.

Spoon half of the vegetables into a 9-by-9-inch baking pan. Cover with 1 1/2 cups cottage or ricotta cheese. Layer on 4 slices of provolone cheese and sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover with remaining zucchini and another sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbling.

This is a very flexible recipe that can be doubled depending on your zucchini haul. An egg and parsley can go in the cheese mixture if you like. This recipe freezes well.

Dear Lorraine: That’s the kind of recipe I like – easy, quick and made with seasonal ingredients. I bet your zucchini lasagna casserole will be on a lot of tables in the coming month. You could add eggplant, too, and browned ground beef or chicken for more protein if desired.

From Bob:
Always enjoy your newsletter! Several weeks back you had a request for Greek Spaghetti. I’ve been meaning to respond, but just never have had a chance.

You did a column years ago about Cincinnati Chili. It’s of Greek origin and has been served in the Cincinnati area since the early 1900s – and, it’s served over spaghetti. It contains unsweetened chocolate and has a hint of cinnamon and cloves, producing a very unique flavor. Could be what your reader was talking about.

Cincinnati Chili is served in “ways.” 3-way is spaghetti, chili, and a gigantic mound of finely shredded mild cheddar cheese. 4-way is spaghetti, chili, either onions or beans, and cheese. 5-way is spaghetti, chili, onions, beans, and cheese.

I’ve had my recipe for years — don’t even remember where I got it. We did serve it occasionally as a special when we owned The Courtyard Cafe in Brecksville, which we sold over 15 years ago. I still make it in the same quantity because everyone enjoys it and it freezes well. My oldest son, Andrew, requested this for his rehearsal dinner. Cincinnati Chili and Coney Dogs were a big hit with our out-of-town guests!

Here’s the recipe:

9 lbs. lean ground beef
3 quarts water
3/4 cup dehydrated onion
6 tbsp. chili powder
3 tbsp. seasoned salt
1 tbsp. allspice
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. minced fresh Garlic
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 bay leaves
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 cans (28 oz. each) tomato sauce
3/4 cup red wine vinegar

In large kettle, combine beef and water. Break up with hands until beef is separated and mixture is almost a pudding consistency. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a slow boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 3 hours. Stir often.

Let cool. Remove any excess grease. Refrigerate or freeze in small batches until ready to use. Makes 2 gallons.

Dear Bob: I really liked your restaurant back in the day. Thanks for the restaurant-sized recipe, handy for stashing in the freezer. Some of the spices in your chili may intensify or weaken when frozen, so cooks should taste and adjust when reheating.

August 24, 2016

Dear friends,

On one of those sweltering evenings last week I wanted to serve something refreshing for dinner. Ice cream came to mind, of course, but Tony doesn’t consider it a meal. It’s a flaw but I love him anyway.

The meal I ultimately made served four. Tony ate three portions, so I think he liked it. It was a luscious noodle salad with lacquered chicken strips, cilantro, green onions and red pepper strips in a lime-fish sauce-peanut dressing. Garlic and mint were in there somewhere, too.

This was a case where I started with a recipe, changed some of the major ingredients and revised the cooking or prep methods of others. My version goes into my permanent recipe file.

Despite the number of ingredients, the salad was not hard to make. It goes together quickly after everything is chopped and/or cooked and lined up.

The next time I make it I’ll do my mise en place (prepping the ingredients) a little at a time throughout the day, making the final preparation practically painless. If you want to cut the prep time, you could use rotisserie chicken, but you’ll sacrifice some flavor.

The dressing may taste too fish sauce-y when you taste it by itself, but don’t tinker. The strong flavor blends and mellows when mixed with the bowlful of noodles and vegetables.

This meal is the opposite of those boxed “Suddenly Salad” things (the name is hilarious). Think of it as “Gradually Salad” but with actual flavor.” Now on to the ice cream.



2 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes


1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
8 oz. angel hair pasta
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, loosely packed
2 green onions, green parts only, sliced thin
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, pulsed to a fine meal in food processor
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 of a large red bell pepper, cut in thin strips and halved lengthwise
1 tsp. chopped garlic
12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Whole peanuts, whole cilantro leaves and lime wedges for garnish

Mix together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Bring 3 to 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Measure bean sprouts into a long-handled strainer.

Dip into the boiling water for 30 seconds, then dip back out and refresh under cold water. Set aside.

Add a tablespoon of salt to the boiling water and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and refresh under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well.

Transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the bean sprouts, chopped cilantro, green onions and peanut meal and toss well.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add red pepper strips and stir fry for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to salad. Pour dressing over noodles and toss well.

In the same skillet, sauté garlic for a few seconds, then add chicken and stir fry about two minutes or until exterior of chicken pieces turn white. Add soy sauce and continue to stir fry until chicken is cooked through and glazed a dark brown.

Toss salad thoroughly again to distribute ingredients and dressing. Arrange chicken over noodles and scatter whole peanuts and coriander leaves on top.

Serve with lime wedges. Makes 4 servings.

My husband will have a hard time keeping me away from Norton on Wednesday evenings for the foreseeable future. That’s where I found some of the best meatloaf I’ve ever had. On Wednesdays at the Wolf Creek Tavern chef Joe Wingate cuts thick slabs of his already-great meatloaf, wraps the edges in bacon, grills them over wood and serves them with upscale sides for just $12.

The big pile of mashed potatoes was buttery and creamy and I loved the well-seasoned broccoli rabe, but the meatloaf was just awesome. Joe said he got the recipe from another cook’s grandmother. It was moist, tender, and smoky from the fire. Joe confirmed he used fresh bread crumbs soaked in milk as the binder.

Wolf Creek is at 3044 Wadsworth Rd. in Norton. The phone is 234-571-4531. See you on meatloaf night.
From Geoff:
Amy F. asked about pine nuts. I happened to see them at C.J. Dannemiller’s (800-624-8671). Not sure of their origin but I’m sure a call to them would help. This is a great place to buy many varieties of nuts as long as you can handle slightly larger than normal quantities.

Dear Geoff: Thanks for telling us about Dannemiller, a vending supplier on Hametown Road in Norton.
I doubt many home cooks would want a 55-pound case for $71 (about $13 a pound), but as you point out, smaller quantities are available. The surcharge for partial cases is 30 cents per pound. Unfortunately for Amy, the pine nuts are from China, a rep says. Check out the company’s other products at http://www.cjdannemiller.com.

From Marilyn:
I buy my pine nuts at Gallucci’s on the eastside of Cleveland. Think they come
from Italy and are good!

Dear Marilyn: The pine nuts at Gallucci’s are from Italy, a rep says, and are $19.99 a pound. They are scooped and weighed when you order, so any amount may be purchased. The store’s website is http://www.tasteitaly.com.

From Kay B.:
We moved from Akron to Santa Fe in 2000. Fall has two amazing harvests: New Mexico chilies and New Mexico pinons (pine nuts) — better by far than imports.

Piñon Nuts: Euell Gibbons, the famous naturalist from the 1970s (seen on Grape Nuts commercials), described the New Mexico piñon nut as the best-tasting wild food in the world. He did not say all pine nuts, just the New Mexico piñon nut (Pinus Edulis). If you have ever tried one, you would remember the flavor… no pine resin taste, just creamy toasted goodness. There is only one number one wild food in the world and this is it.

Nevada Pine nuts, are very “resinous” and have a strong pine taste. You can tell instantly that it is a pine nut or could guess even if you never tried one before. Nevada Pine nuts (Pinus Monophelia) are sold in the Southwest when New Mexico piñon nuts run out.

Asian Imports: Pine nuts from Korea have a slightly less resinous taste than Nevada Pine nuts, but one could still know they are from a pine tree. China has the blandest pine nuts, unfortunately. Because of improper handling, or possibly an inherent characteristic of the species, they tend not to store well, and go rancid within 12 months.

Italian pignolia Most similar in taste to New Mexico pinons — very creamy, buttery toasted flavor with the slightest hint of pine taste… but many have blamed over cultivation to the blanding of the flavor of this variety.

Dear Kay: Thank you for the wonderful information. Your email reminded me of a trip I took to New Mexico once. I bought a sack of unshelled pinon nuts at a Navajo trading post and spent the next few days painstakingly cracking and eating them. It was tedious but when food is involved, I’m persistent.

From Brad P.:
Do you always put butter into your pesto?

Dear Brad: No, but I often do when I serve it over pasta. It gives the sauce a more luxurious texture and flavor. Plus, Marcella Hazan says to add butter, so who am I to argue?


August 10, 2016

Dear friends,

Before I start raggin’ on Iowa’s loose meat sandwiches, I’ll admit Ohio has a kind of loose meat chicken sandwich – shredded chicken, popular in the southwestern part of the state – that is blah, too. The one I tried, that is.

I had higher hopes for Iowa loose meat sandwiches, though. The regional specialty, which also can be found in Nebraska and probably elsewhere, has been extolled in magazines and guide books including my travel bible, “Roadfood,” by Jane and Michael Stern.

The sandwich at its most basic is a soft burger bun filled with crumbled and browned ground beef seasoned with salt and pepper. Mustard and dill pickles are the usual toppings. I almost fell asleep in my lunch when I was served that boring version at the Maid-Rite diner in Newton, Iowa. Maybe the cook had an off day. I’m told loose meat often is seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, or a sploosh of mustard right in the pan, or vinegar and sugar. Mine wasn’t.

Newton was one bummer after another. We stopped there not only for the sandwiches but to visit the headquarters of Maytag Blue Cheese and buy a hunk.

The low-slung building, bordered by cornfields, was open when we pulled into the lot. Under trees on the sloping lawn, workers were arranging vases of flowers on linen- swathed picnic tables. Uh-oh. Yes, hectic preparations for an important dinner were afoot (for the American Cheese Society, we learned later). The showroom cheese cases were empty.

We stopped at a supermarket on the way out of town to snag some cheese, which we were really craving by then. We found brands from elsewhere but no cheese from the lauded fromagerie up the road.

The cheese nagged at me for the rest of the drive through Iowa, but what really occupied my mind was that loose-meat sandwich. In junior high, my cafeteria served a variation called “runzaburgers,” a German via Nebraska specialty featuring ground beef and finely chopped cabbage. I could do better than either, I was sure. I invented recipes in my head as miles of corn fields flashed past. Of course, by the time we hit Illinois I was ragingly hungry for ground beef and corn on the cob.

I satisfied the corn craving the day after we hit Ohio. This week I took care of my craving for ground beef.

“This is loose meat on steroids,” Tony said as he watched me cook. I gave the Midwestern sandwich an Asian twist with garlic, ginger, onions and soy sauce cooked with the meat, and lime juice added at the end. We piled the loose meat on big ciabatta buns and topped the mounds with a slivered carrot salad dressed with vinaigrette, along with fresh mint and basil leaves.

With apologies to Iowans, if you’re going to have loose meat this is the way to go.


3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tsp. peeled and chopped ginger
1 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 1/4 cups carrot-broccoli slaw, homemade or commercial
2 tbsp. vinaigrette dressing
12 mint leaves
12 basil leaves
4 large hamburger buns or ciabatta rolls

Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute onions over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and sauté 1 minute longer. Do not brown.

Crumble meat into skillet and stir to combine with onions, ginger and garlic. Break up any large pieces of meat. Cover and cook over medium heat just until no longer pink, stirring once. Drain off fat. Increase heat to high and add soy sauce. Turn and stir until liquid boils away. Remove from heat and drizzle with lime juice, tossing to mix.

Pile meat mixture on the four buns or rolls. Top each with some of the carrot slaw, then the mint and basil leaves. Makes 4 servings.


I’d like to remind you again to preheat your skillet before adding oil, then heat the oil before adding the food. These two steps can be the difference between oil-soaked and crisp food. Also, the timing in recipes will make much more sense when you preheat.
From Laura:
When I was young, my mom used to make corn pancakes for breakfast with any leftover corn we had — no measuring, just regular pancake recipe. Also, when corn was in season that’s all we had for supper and we ate four, five or six pieces each. I couldn’t believe it when I got married that my husband wanted to eat a piece or two AFTER we ate a regular supper. And each piece had to be just out of the boiling water. I could never eat it that hot. In fact, I love cold corn with butter and salt.

Dear Laura: That IS a freaky way to eat corn (post-dinner, not your leftover cold method). Corn on the cob seems to be one of those foods that spark family traditions. When I was a kid, we ate corn as a meal, too, but always with sliced tomatoes dabbed with mayo and sprinkled with salt and pepper. If I had kids, they would probably be regaling their spouses about their mother’s habit of eating the first ear raw, on the way home from the farm stand.

From Sherri S.:
Here’s a way to use up some of your beans, from a Women’s Day Article

3/4 c. white vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
Kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup fresh dill
1 tsp. whole coriander
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
12 oz. green beans

In a small pot, combine 1 cup water, vinegar, sugar, and 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the sugar and salt dissolve, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Divide garlic, dill, coriander, and red pepper between two wide-mouthed 16-ounce jars. Pack with green beans, then pour the cooled liquid over top. Refrigerate overnight or up to 1 week. (The beans are still tasty after a week; they will just lose their color.)
Dear Sherri: I’ve never been a fan of pickled green beans, but this sounds good. Thanks.

From Lorraine:
I am not successful with blanching and freezing green beans so I make a marinara sauce and freeze the beans in it. They are much tastier than the plain frozen beans that I have made in the past.

Start a quick sauce with :
2 tbsp. olive oil, sauté 1 small onion and 1 whole clove of garlic. When soft and colored lightly add 1 can of plum tomatoes. Add 1/4 tsp of oregano, some parsley and basil to taste. I use fresh from the garden. Also, add 1/2 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cook quickly for 10 minutes over med high heat. Correct seasoning.

To the tomato sauce I add 1 1/2 pounds lightly steamed beans (cooked about 6 minutes or so). Finish cooking in sauce until tender. They can be eaten as a vegetable with some grated Parmesan cheese, put on pasta, or frozen for later use.

This is not an exact recipe and can change according to the amount of beans I have. I sometimes add a tablespoon of tomato paste to make it richer tasting, but is it flexible. Your recipe looks delicious.

Dear Lorraine: Almost everything freezes better in a sauce than naked, as your green bean recipe illustrates. Thanks.

From Marcia:
Last week, Carol Simon asked for a Greek spaghetti recipe. And while I didn’t clip that particular one, the request reminded me of one of my favorite go-to recipes from the Five Easy Pieces column in the Beacon Journal. “Fast Linguine and Clam Sauce” called for:
1/2 lb. linguine
4 tbsp. butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 can (6 1/2 oz.) clams

I then throw in more garlic sautéed with a chopped onion or shallot; another can of clams (so you have one chopped, one whole baby clams), undrained;
splashes of lemon juice and bottled clam juice;
a dash of red pepper flakes; and Parmesan for topping.

Not only is this easy, as advertised, but quick.

Dear Marcia: It’s good, too, especially with your tweaks. Thanks for sharing.

We still haven’t found the Greek Spaghetti recipe, although Jan C. recalls it was from the former Papas restaurant in the Montrose area of Fairlawn. The recipe probably ran in Beacon magazine. That content wasn’t always transferred to the electronic database.

July 28, 2016

Dear friends,

I miss Ohio corn season. I miss the fun of buying a hot, buttered ear at Szalay’s, of rushing to Graf Growers on opening day before the first picking is gone, and the camaraderie of the group shuck at Seiberling’s. But Idaho corn ain’t bad.

God knows where — or if — it is grown here, because all I’ve seen on the drive from Colorado to Lava Hot Springs are acres and acres and acres of potato plants and wheat. The fields stretch to the horizon.

Still, the ears Tony and I bought last week in a little supermarket were fat and tender. No one but me was rushing to buy it, though, and I haven’t seen a single roadside stand in Colorado, Idaho, or — this week — Montana or Wyoming.

Maybe the Idahoans save their enthusiasm for potatoes, which are indeed delicious here. The russets we bought taste so fresh, with a tender skin I’ve rarely seen on this type of bagged spud.

But potatoes aren’t corn, not by a long shot. I miss my fellow Ohio corn lovers. We know how to celebrate summer, and it isn’t by tossing a tater in microwave.

For the first week when I get back home, I plan to eat corn on the cop every day — plain, steamed corn. Then I’ll branch out to grilled steaks with roasted corn salsa, fresh corn souffe, corn chowder and corn fritters.

One of my favorite corn recipes sounds fancy but is easy to make. Stir up some pancake batter and add corn. Grill some shrimp. Mash a bit of goat cheese with a canned chipotle pepper. Fry the corn batter and put everything together. It’s summer on a plate.

Corn Fritters With Grilled Shrimp and Chipotle Chevre
Serves 4 as an appetizer

4 ounces chevre (French-style goat cheese), softened
1/2 of a canned chipotle pepper, minced
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup milk
3 ears of corn (about 2 cups kernels)
2 egg whites
8 large raw shrimp, peeled
In a small bowl, combine cheese and chipotle pepper and mix well; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, cayenne and cumin; stir well. Add 2 teaspoons oil, egg yolk and milk and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Peel corn and place an ear on end in a bowl. With a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cob. Repeat with remaining ears. You should have about 2 cups kernels. Stir the kernels into the batter.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Fold gently but thoroughly into the corn batter.

Heat about 4 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. For each fritter, drop two rounded tablespoons of batter into skillet, spreading the mixture into a 3-inch disk with the spoon. Cook over medium-high heat until brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels, and keep warm in a 200-degree oven.

Skewer the shrimp, two per skewer, and grill or pan-grill just until tender. Place one or two fritters on each of four salad-size plates. Top each with a skewer of shrimp and a dollop of the chèvre mixture.

Makes four appetizer servings.


Darn it, we’ll miss the Montana State Fair, which runs through Sunday in Great Falls. We are traveling in the opposite direction. I had hoped to sample some of these midway snacks:

* Lefse (potato flatbread) at the Sons of Norway booth
* Walleye on a stick
* Foot-long (!) corn dogs
* Bacon-beef sundaes
* Deep-fried licorice

From Marty LaConte:
We have our chef’s aprons on for another amazing dinner cooked by Boy Scout Troop 334 in Green at Queen of Heaven Church. On Aug. 13 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. we will be serving an authentic Carolina slow-smoked barbecue.Two of our Scout dads have large commercial sized smokers and they will be camping out the night before in order to get the pork roasts started in the wee hours of the morning. Then at 5 p.m. the public is invited to dig in.

We will have pulled pork roasted with a dry rub and three traditional sauces on the side (red, mustard and vinegar). The dinner will consist of smoked pulled pork, leg-thigh quarter chicken, smoked pork and beans, mac and cheese and cornbread.

We will be cooking for 600 but when it’s gone, it’s gone. The costs will be $10 for adults, $7 for children and $7 for all-sides dinner. The dinner is being held in conjunction with a church celebration with a car raffle, kids’ games and Iive music. It should be a great time so come hungry, bring Tony (but there won’t be any hot dogs) and maybe you’ll win a car.

Dear Marty: Tony and I will be there and, as good as it sounds, so will half of Akron. We’ll come early before the pig is gone.