Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Every year my father would make this sausage ring. We'd open presents while the house filled with the aroma of tangy apples and sweet onions.
Dad's Christmas Sausage Ring
2 lbs bulk pork sausage (uncooked)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups Pepperidge Farm Stuffing
1/4 Vidalia cup onion, minced
1 cup finely chopped apples (preferably Macoun or Granny Smith)

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Press into a lightly greased ring mold and chill overnight.
The next day, remove from refrigerator for one hour before baking. Bake at 350º for 1 hour.
Remove from oven and drain fat. Turn out onto a wire rack with a baking sheet beneath to collect remaining drippings.
Serve hot.

Note: Macoun apples are hard to find. They're grown in northwest New Jersey, among other places. If you ask your local grocer in advance, they can order them by the half peck. These heritage apples are worth the extra effort!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


This is a wonderful breakfast to serve on a cold Christmas morning.

Baked Oatmeal with Cranberries and Apples
2 cups quick Quaker® Oats or 2 1/4 cups Old Fashioned Quaker® Oats, uncooked
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 1/3 cups fat-free milk
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Heat oven to 350º. Spray an 8-inch square glass baking dish with cooking spray. 
In large bowl, combine oats and granulated sugar. In a medium bowl, combine milk, egg, and vanilla. Mix well. Add to oat mixture, mix well, and stir in cranberries and apples. Pour into baking dish.
Bake 40 - 45 minutes or until center slightly shakes. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over oatmeal. With the back of a spoon, spread sugar into a thin layer across entire surface of oatmeal. Return to oven. Bake until sugar melts, 2-3 minutes. Set oven to broil. Broil 3 inches from heat until sugar bubbles and browns slightly, 1-2 minutes. 
Watch carefully to prevent burning. Spoon into bowls and serve immediately.
Serves 8-10. 

My children love this with a bit of milk poured over top, along with steaming cups of Mommy's Hot Cocoa.

*Mommy's Hot Cocoa
Heat 2 cups of milk in a saucepan. 
Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine 4 Tablespoons of Hershey's® unsweetened cocoa, 2 Tablespoons of cold milk, a dash of salt, and 4 Tablespoons of sugar. Stir until it forms a slightly lumpy syrup. When milk is heated (but not boiling), pour in cocoa mixture and stir until dissolved and smooth. Then stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. To make it extra fluffy, pour it into the blender and blend for 2 minutes. Serve in mugs with mini marshmallows on top.
Makes 2 servings.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Nana Wray's Meyer Lemons

This lemon bar recipe was adapted over many years from three different recipes, including one from my grandmother. These are my family's favorite Christmas Eve treat.

Sharon's Lemon Bars

2 1/4 cups flour
2 sticks (1 cup) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
extra Confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350º. Butter a 13"x9"x2" pan.
Combine 2 cups flour, butter, 1/2 cup Confectioner's sugar, and coconut in food processor fit with a metal blade. Process until moist clumps form. Press into bottom of pan. Bake until edges are golden, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together 2 cups sugar, eggs, lemon juice, baking powder and remaining 1/4 cup flour in a large bowl until well blended. 

When the crust comes out of the oven,  immediately pour lemon/egg mixture over crust and bake until topping is set and light brown, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. 

Cut into squares, dust with extra Confectioner's sugar, and serve. 

The lemon bars can be frozen for up to one month, uncut and without the extra Confectioner's sugar. They also make a wonderful hostess gift.
Happy Baking!

Monday, December 5, 2011


My husband is not a fan of CrockPot food "boiled into submission".  But there are a few recipes which come out more stew than goo. And this recipe, given to me by my good friend Mary Lenaburg and which I've adapted, has become his favorite early winter dinner. Maybe because I serve it with beer.
1 lb. beef round, cubed
4 Tablespoons seasoned flour*
1 1/2 cups to 2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
4 red potatoes, cubed (no need to peel)
2 onions, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil (1 teaspoon dried)
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon fresh marjoram (1 teaspoon dried)

*seasoned flour
1 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Toss meat with seasoned flour and place all the meat and flour into the CrockPot. Mix together 1 1/2 cups beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over meat. Stir in all remaining vegetables and herbs. Cover. Cook on High for 4-6 hours, or Low for 10-12 hours. If stew looks a bit dry towards the end of the cooking time, add the remaining 1/2 cup beef broth and cook for another 45 minutes.
Or if you're the more adventurous type, replace the 1/2 cup beef broth with beer--preferably Guinness Stout.

Makes 6-10 servings, depending on the size of the meal (and size of the children). Reheats well, and tastes even better the second day.
This stew also goes well with my dad's whole wheat molasses bread.

Other cold-weather recipes in the Recipe Journal collection include: Dad's Turkey soupFall Vegetable SoupChicken Noodle Soup, and Chicken Corn Chowder.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


My father was born and raised in New York City, but when I was a kid we moved out to the "wilds of New Jersey". Although he was happy with his decision, he still had every morning and afternoon New York paper delivered to the house. His favorite was the New York Times food section edited by the renowned food editor Craig Claiborne. This recipe is my father's adaptation from one of those columns.

Dad's Whole Wheat Molasses Bread
2 packages active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup warm water (100º to 110ºF)
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups to 2 cups unbleached flour
2 Tablespoons caraway seeds
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons shortening (I use a Crisco cooking bar)
1 Tablespoon salt.

To proof the yeast, add 2 teaspoons sugar to 1/2 cup warm water (100º to 110ºF). Stir in 2 envelopes yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons). Let stand 10 minutes. If the yeast foams to the 1 cup mark, it is active and can be used. (Note: RapidRise yeast loses its fast rising capabilities if dissolved in liquid and will require two complete rises)

In a large mixing bowl (I use my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook), combine whole wheat flour, 1 cup of the unbleached flour, and the caraway seed.

In a small saucepan, heat water, molasses, brown sugar, shortening, and salt just till warm (115º - 120º), stirring to melt shortening. Add to dry ingredients in bowl. Add in yeast.  Beat at low speed with an electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Then beat 3 minutes at high speed. By hand, stir in enough of the remaining unbleached flour to make a stiff dough. 

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead dough until smooth, 5-8 minutes. Shape into a large ball and place in a greased bowl, turning once over to grease dough ball. Cover. Let rise in a warm space until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down. Divide into two halves, then cover loosely with a damp towel and rest ten minutes.

Shape into two slightly flattened 6-inch balls. Place both halves on a greased baking sheet. Cover. Let rise till double, about 45 minutes.

Bake loaves in 375º oven till well browned, 30-35 minutes. For a more chewy crust, brush each loaf with warm water several times during the last 10 - 15 minutes of baking. Remove from baking sheet immediately and cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves.
Can be eaten warm, or cooled and frozen for up to 3 months.

I serve this bread with my Dad's Turkey soup.

Other soups in the Recipe Journal collection which go well with this bread include: Fall Vegetable SoupChicken Noodle Soup, and Chicken Corn Chowder.


Monday, November 28, 2011


My father was a wonderful cook. As one of six Depression-era children living in a New York City tenement, he grew up in a household that wasted nothing. Especially food. This soup was his favorite recipe, not just because it's delicious and uses up the last of the Thanksgiving turkey, but because it was the only one of his mother's recipes he could remember. For me, the best thing about Thanksgiving  (besides the leftover sandwiches served with hot tea) is making this soup, along with his wonderful whole wheat molasses bread. 

Dad's Turkey Soup

From leftover turkey:
Peel skin off legs and wings (if not eaten), cut apart carcass and keep meatier parts (back and ribs) Throw away main cavity. (Don't forget to pull out the wishbone for later!)

1 onion, peeled and cut in half
1/2 green pepper, cut into three pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and cut in half
2 cans Cream of Tomato condensed soup
Pepper (1 teaspoon, approximately depending on how the turkey was seasoned)

For the next day:
1/2 cup barley (better less than more)

Fill a pressure cooker (or stockpot) 1/2 way with water. Add the turkey legs, wings, and all leftover meat. Toss in the onion, green pepper, carrots, soup, and pepper.  
Cook in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes, then remove from heat for 1/2 hour.
If using a large pot instead, simmer for 2 hours. Then cool for 10 minutes. 
Once cool, strain all the solids from the liquid. Transfer the liquid to a stockpot. Peel meat off legs, wings, etc. and add to liquid. Discard all other solids. 
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Next day, skim off fat from top of liquid. Add barley and cook for 1 more hour. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve with bread and butter. I love to serve this soup with my dad's homemade whole wheat molasses bread. (recipe to come soon!)

Other soups in the Recipe Journal collection include: Fall Vegetable SoupChicken Noodle Soup, and Chicken Corn Chowder.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Since I can't afford to send flowers to my friends and family on Thanksgiving, here's my version of a virtual bouquet.

I hope you all have safe travels and a blessed Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 31, 2011


When I was a child, I memorized this Halloween poem and would sing it around the house the entire month of October. Now it's available in a children's book beautifully illustrated by Greg Couch.
by Harry Behn
Tonight is the night when dead leaves fly,

Like witches on switches across the sky,

When elf and sprite flit through the night on a moony sheen.

Tonight is the night when leaves make a sound
Like a gnome in his home under the ground,
When spooks and trolls creep out of holes mossy and green.
Tonight is the night when pumpkins stare

Through sheaves and leaves everywhere,

When ghouls and ghosts and goblin host  

 Dance round their queen,
It's Halloween.

I hope your Halloween is filled with more treats than tricks, most them chocolate!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


It's coming!

You can hear the hum in the cooling air, the excited laughter of children picking out costumes, the nervous coughs of parents hoping they choose wisely (neither too scary or fresh).

But it's the same sound wherever the west wind blows.

Halloween is almost here!

To fill the time between the "great choosing" of a costume and the first trick-or-treat, we spend time at local pumpkin patches, "not-too-scary" haunted houses, and weekend fall festivals at the local nurseries.

The best garden centers offer hot cider, popcorn balls, and caramel apples, along with mums and other fall decorations.
But since one of the favorite things to do at our house every year is to carve pumpkins, a large selection is essential.
Except the weather can be iffy, hot one day, freezing the next. So we usually wait until a few nights before Halloween to do the carving.

In the meantime, the children hunt for the most unusual pumpkins and gourds,
scariest Halloween decorations,

and things we can't name. 
But when darkness falls and the hot cider is gone, we carry our choice home, the children whispering in the back seat, "Did we pick the right one?"
And every year, after the pumpkin is carved and the candle lit, the answer is always the same. "It's perfect!"

What is a "Study in . . ."? 
A visual record defined by a single element, such as color, texture, or type. Previous journal entries include Turning LeavesLingering RosesIndian SummerFamily Reunion, and Walney Pond