Thursday, April 29, 2010


We went to a little bit funky restaurant in East Town in Grand Rapids that caters to a college crowd. We ordered Taco Salads and were thrilled to find a different take on one of our favorite things. Instead of a fried flour tortilla which I do not like because it is fried and usually tastes a “little” old or stale to me, they served the salad on a bed of chips with Cheddar cheese melted between the chips. With Cinco de Mayo coming the 5th of May and the Hispanic Fiesta in Holland on Saturday, we thought it would be a good day for a good salad.

My mouth and tummy are very happy after eating this salad.

1 lb lean ground beef
½ T to 1 T Chimayo medium red chile or chili powder
1 t  Mexican oregano
½ t ground cumin
3 cloves, minced

Brown the beef with garlic.  Add the seasoning.  I used a tablespoon of red chile which gave the meat a nice heat which I like as I use much more lettuce than meat.  The spicy meat enhances the lettuce.  Start with a smaller amount as you can always add more but you can't take it out.  I do not use a great deal of cumin in a recipe.  I like the base note that cumin adds, but too much I think is offensive.  Add approximately a ½ cup water to the meat and spices.  Cover pan and simmer on low for about ½ hour.  If meat is too wet, remove cover and simmer a little longer.

Ranch dressing

Mix ranch dressing with equal parts salsa and stir.  Can use less salsa if desired.

Salsa and Ranch dressing.

I used:
Romaine lettuce, shredded
Green onions, chopped
Refried black beans
Taco meat
Cherry tomatoes
Black olives
Sour cream
Pico de Gallo
Cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded


I used:
4 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
Small sweet onion, finely chopped
4 Jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
A little cilantro, chopped, my family is not fond of cilantro
1 lime, juiced
Salt to taste

Mix tomatoes, onions, peppers and cilantro in a bowl.  Season with lime juice and salt to taste.

Chop finely.

I use about equal parts tomatoes and onion and approximately two-thirds that amount of Jalapeno peppers with cilantro to taste.

Season with lime juice and salt to taste.

Place a single layer of chips in/on the salad plate.  Top with shredded cheese.  Microwave for 40 seconds or until cheese melts.

Single layer of chips.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Add second layer of chips.

Microwave for 40 seconds or until cheese melts.

Top with shredded lettuce.

Put some refried beans in the center and top with a dollop of sour cream.  Sprinkle with meat mixture, cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, green onions, pico de gallo.  Dress the salad and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Michigan weather, it goes from 30°F to 80°.  The saying goes, if you don't like the weather in Michigan wait 5 minutes and it will change.  What do you call the day after a two day rain in Michigan?  Monday.  Summer is coming so it is time to dust off the summer recipes and start thinking about deck parties and outdoor barbeques.

The first time Tom had this glaze, he said this is heavenly. Daughter and I found this marinade when she lived in Washington State. We would go to a vegetable market near her home or up to a farm in the mountains to get all the vegetables that looked super fresh. This marinade is a nice change from the Italian dressing marinade that we love.


1/3 c apricot preserves or orange marmalade
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1 large clove garlic, minced
¼ t dried rosemary, crushed
¼ t salt

Mix ingredients together.  Simmer on stove or microwave for 2 minutes.

1 large eggplant, cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into chunks
1 large red pepper, cut into chunks
1 large yellow pepper, cut into chunks
1 medium zucchini, cut diagonally ½-inch thick
1 medium yellow summer squash, cut diagonally ½-inch thick
Cherry tomatoes

The vegetables we picked for today.

Place vegetables in a large bowl. (I put the vegetables on the skewers and place in a 9x13-inch pan.) For the marinade, combine preserves, red wine vinegar, garlic, rosemary and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly or microwave for 2 minutes. Immediately pour about two-thirds of the marinade over vegetables and mix if in a bowl or just pour over skewers. Marinate for 30 minutes or more. Grill vegetables on skewers until tender, turning occasionally. Place grilled vegetables on serving tray and top with remaining marinade.

Marinating.  Marinade will do more vegetables but for the two of us this is all we needed.

Let's eat!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Called the "pink" moon because it is the time of spring blossoms.


Margaret and Her Couster

Some people no matter how much we love them and pray for them leave us too soon. My cousin, Margaret, and I were raised together in the first years of our life because her Dad was off fighting with General Patton in World War II and her Mom had to go to work. The Grandma that lived with us took care of Margaret so she and I ended up in the same playpen. Because we had the cottage, she and her family spent great blocks of time with us all the summers of our growing up years. We called each other Cousters, a combination of cousin and sister. Almost 11 years ago, she was called Home which was a great blow to the family as we had lost her husband just six months before her passing. After her sister-in-law recovered from the shock of the news, the first thing she said was, “Does anyone have her mostaccioli recipe?”

Years before I had been working on a family recipes cookbook and I had asked Margaret for her recipes.  She responded that she just threw things together and had no recipes. I kept after her, for years! Finally she took the time to write down her version of Macaroni and Cheese for me plus a Chicken Salad she loved. I am so glad she did as whenever there is a special occasion for her son and family, I bring Margaret’s Macaroni and Cheese. We know she is with us in Spirit, but we also have something tangible to stick a spoon into that was hers.

I am so glad this recipe was not lost.

Margaret clipped this recipe from the Grand Rapids Press. On the yellowed clipping I found in her recipe box, she had marked, “Excellent”. Depending on the brand of tomatoes, I sometimes like to add a pinch of sugar to the sauce. You can tell this is an old recipe as it calls for bacon grease. People use to routinely save their bacon grease in a container to use for cooking. It also calls for a 1 pound can which is no longer available; they are now down to 14.5 ounces.  This is one of the recipes I look to for taking food to people in need of meals because of sickness or disability as adults and children enjoy it.  If possible, always put take-out dinners in disposible aluminum pans so that others don't need to worry about returning them.

1 lb. lean ground beef
2 T fat (bacon grease is good)
½ c green pepper, chopped
½ c onions, chopped
1 lb. can tomatoes (2 c)
1 can ((6oz.) tomato paste
1/2 c water
1 t salt
½ t oregano
I add a little dried basil, about ¼ t
¼ t pepper
7 oz. mostaccioli noodles, cooked and drained (Iuse half a 16oz. box)
6 oz. Mozzarella cheese (in slices)
Grated Parmesan cheese

Ingredients--mostaccioli pasta is getting hard to find so if you can't find it substitute penne pasta.

Pan fry ground beef in 1 tablespoon fat until browned. I saute in a pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Remove meat from skillet, add green pepper and onions. Sauté in remaining tablespoon fat until tender. Add a little water to the pan to deglaze, to scrap up all the goodies on the bottom of the pan. Add tomatoes and cut up or mash, tomato paste, water, salt, oregano, (basil if desired) and pepper. Add the meat. Mix well. Simmer to blend flavors, about 10 to 15 minutes.  In a two-quart casserole, layer noodles, mozzarella cheese and meat sauce. Repeat layers, ending with meat sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes.


Brown and drain.

Cut in half to make slicing easier.


Chop up tomatoes.

Simmer to blend flavors.

Cook pasta.  I always cook a minute less than the time on the box when I am going to bake the pasta.

First layer pasta.

Do as I say, not as I do.  Second layer is cheese.  I think I have made this mistake every time I make this casserole.

Third layer is meat sauce, not cheese like I have it.

Mozzarella should be under meat sauce.

Delicious no matter how it is layered, but don't make my mistakes.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Somewhere I saw an ad for Aretha Frankenstein’s insanely great pancakes. I was intrigued and sent for some of the mix, had to buy three boxes, because I knew we weren’t going to Chattanooga any time soon. The family had a big pancake brunch on our deck last summer. We made these pancakes and an easy version of potato pancakes for the favorite Son-in Law on griddles right out on the deck. Both kinds of pancakes were judged wonderful, I immediately tasted farina in the insanely great ones and thought I can duplicate this mix.

I am deeply concerned that we are raising a generation of children that do not know what food without additives and chemicals tastes like. If the preservatives, fillers and high-fructose corn syrup aren’t in the food, it doesn’t taste right or good to them. We buy Pure Michigan Maple Syrup at the Farmer’s Market directly from the man who makes it. Our teenage grand-daughters don’t like it and always ask if we have some syrup from the store as they don’t like the stuff that “grows” on trees.

I found a wonderful recipe in an old 1959 cookbook for feather pancakes. I used that recipe as a guide, added farina and buttermilk to make a copy of our favorite pancake mix, Aretha Frankenstein’s. The pancakes are as Aretha say’s, “Insanely Great.”

1 egg, slightly beaten
1 ½ c buttermilk
1 T canola oil
1 c flour
2 T (yes tablespoons) baking powder
2 T sugar
½ t baking soda
½ t salt
¼ c farina cereal, dry (Cream of Wheat cereal dry), uncooked


In a bowl, combine and mix together liquid ingredients. In another bowl, completely mix together the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix; batter will be lumpy. Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium hot burner, the pan is hot enough when drops of water sprinkle on it immediately sizzle.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Using a ladle, pour batter into what will be the center of the pancake. Pouring the batter in this way results in a perfectly round pancake.  Bake pancake until bubbles start to appear on surface.  Flip over and continue cooking until browned on the other side.

Wet ingredients and dry ingredients.  Mix each one well.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Batter will be lumpy.

When griddle is ready, water bubbles and sizzles.

Pour batter from a ladle for round pancakes.
Bake on one side until bubbles appear.

Two beautiful puffy pancakes.

This one is just starting to puff up.

Pancakes with butter and pure Michigan Maple Syrup.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

We HAVE come a long way, Baby!

Mom, Grandma and "Aunt" Kath
This is a late 1940’s picture of my Mom with her Mom and a good friend of the family, Aunt Kath. They are at the cottage sitting out in the sun enjoying the day together. They have not been anywhere special; this is just how you would find them dressed any day of the week. If this were a picture of my cousins and I, we would be in shorts (I may be bigger than what people deem proper for shorts, but I live at the beach and I wear shorts), cotton tops or bathing suit tops and maybe, flip flops.

Even though Amelia Earhart had introduced trousers for women in the 1920’s, they didn’t catch on in Western Michigan. Grandma wore either a housedress which would be in soft shades of plaid or flowered or her church dress which was solid navy. Housedresses were made of cotton and had to be washed in a ringer washing machine, rinsed in tubs, starched, and ironed. They all have on their housedresses. Mom and Grandma have on necklaces, Grandma her pearls; Mom and Aunt Kath both have on clip earrings (ouch). All this for a day at the cottage sitting in the sun when they were not preparing huge meals for all the family.

However it is the shoes! It is the hose needed to wear the shoes! In the eighteen years I was with Grandma, I never saw her wear a different shoe than the one in the picture. Laced-up and with a thick heel, those shoes weren’t light weight. Can you imagine Grandma trying to run to catch a plane in those shoes? Mom, when I was little, tried to run in her heavy-stiff shoes with me to catch a bus; we ended up pin wheeling down the sidewalk and landing in a pile. Mom swore she would never run to catch a bus again. And it isn’t only the shoes. To wear the shoes Grandma and Aunt Kath are wearing the required hose. There were no panty hose until the late 1960’s so they had to have on a garter belt or a girdle as they sat in the sun. Mom, on the left, has on much more stylish shoes. They are called spectator pumps and were made popular in the 1930’s by the Duke of Windsor. They are two toned white and black much like a saddle shoe only the colors are opposite of a saddle shoe. The toe and heel are black and the instep area is white. They are orthopedic shoes and very heavy. Mom, Bless Her, had a thing for orthopedic shoes. Now my Mom liked to be comfortable. At first I thought the picture showed her with her famous rolled down hose. Women who did not want to wear a girdle or garter belt would roll each hose down and form a fat circle of hose around each ankle. Oh, the embarrassment of a young girl when her Mother has her hose around her ankles. However, I took out my magnifying glass and it looks like she has a pair of my Dad’s stockings on in the photo, as my Daughter would say MOTHER!, no girdle or garter belt needed.

It was the custom then to have your hair done once a week at the beauty parlor and wear hairnets over the hair to keep it in place the rest of the week. They all have on their hairnets. When I was young I had very oily hair that needed to be washed every day. My Grandma thought something dire would happened to me if I washed my hair every day and there were always comments made, but I refused to go to school with oily stringy hair.

Notice that Mom’s dress is looser in the front than Aunt Kath’s. Mom had been a Flapper in the 1920’s when the flat-chested boyish look had been in vogue. Mom never did get into wearing bras although she would wear one when she had to get really dressed up. Mom was into comfort. She wanted to be comfortable and worked hard to make other people comfortable around her.

In the 1960’s bras were burned to protest conformity and women’s servitude. My former mother-in-law warned me about what happened to the Flapper’s when they didn’t wear any support but I didn’t need her warning. I had my comfortable free swinging Mom as an example.

I have found as I grow older and older that I use terms that are no longer understood. I once told a young man working at a church function dishing out ice cream that he would make a good soda jerk, a term used for the person that worked behind the soda fountain in a drugstore. He thought I was calling him a jerk and was quite offended.

Therefore I decided I had best describe the term Flapper. I found a wonderful description of a Flapper in About.com. “In the 1920’s, a new woman was born. She smoked, drank, danced, and voted. She cut her hair, wore make-up, and went to petting parties. She was giddy and took risks.” MOTHER, I just thought you wore short skirts, danced the Charleston, and wore lots of long beaded necklaces--too much information for a daughter.

According to the History of the Bra by Jenelle Rose bras go back to 2500 B.C. to drawings done by the Minoan civilization on the Greek Isle of Crete. From the 1500’s to 1920’s the corset ruled. In 1820 a "corst mecanizue" was invented to allow women to squeeze into their corsets with the help of pulleys. During World War I, women were forced into the work place making the wearing of a corset a problem. In 1917 the U.S. War Industries Board requests women to stop buying corsets to reduce the consumption of metal. According to Jenelle Rose, sources say up to 28,000 tons of metal was conserved through this effort-enough to build two battleships. The 1920’s ushered in the Jazz Age and you couldn’t dance the new dances in a corset.

It wasn’t until the 1930’s that the bra as we know it became popular. So women wore corsets which deformed their bodies in many cases for over 400 years but after 30 years of wearing a bra they started to burn them in the 1960’s. Thankfully that didn’t last and women are back in their bras. As I have run through airports, once holding the hands of two little grand-daughters, I have thought the liberation of women came from a comfortable bra and good athletic shoes.


Saturday, April 24, 2010


Mom didn’t use many spices, not many were available in the Midwest in the 1950’s, but she did find Worcestershire sauce a handy ingredient to add layers of flavor to her dishes. Worcestershire sauce is a fermented sauce made with vinegar, sugar, anchovies, onion, garlic, salt, tamarind concentrate, cloves, chili pepper and other ingredients. It was developed in England by chemists trying to recreate a curry sauce.

To stay out the drive-thru restaurants on busy weekend, I find having things in the house for quick lunches helps us to eat more wholesomely. We come home from grandchildren’s soccer, baseball or football games hungery and for me tired. Sloppy Joes made on Fridays helps get us through the weekends without succumbing to French fries and a shake.

I like to do with the buns the same thing I do with the sub buns in Italian Subs Michigan-style, I take out some of the soft middle bread part of the rolls so there is more room for the meat mixture and less carbohydrates.

My Mom got this recipe from an old school cafeteria cook back in the early 1950's. At that time all the food served at hot lunch was made by the cooks in the school kitchens. They made bread and rolls, cakes and cookies, sauces, stews, and casseroles. The cooks were very proud of their work and very secretive with their recipes. Mom probably made many trips to school with plates of homemade cookies to get this recipe. On the days that Sloppy Joes were served the school always smelled fantastic. The sandwich was served with potato chips and carrot sticks. I didn’t get to eat them at school as I had to walk four blocks home for lunch and 4 blocks back to school during my lunch time.

1 c water
1 c catsup
1/4 c vinegar
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c onion, very finely chopped
1/2 c celery, very finely chopped
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 t dry mustard
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Use one cup of sauce to one pound of browned ground beef, drained of fat. Heat sauce and ground beef together; simmer, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve on warm hamburger buns. Refrigerate or freeze extra sauce or freeze sloppy joe mixture.


Finely chop onion and celery.

Simmer sauce ingredients together.

Brown meat.  Drain off any fat.

Add sauce and simmer.