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Somewhere in the journey from making childhood mud pies to adult culinary disasters there emerged a gigantic love for cream toppings.

I simply love anything like Heavy Cream, Whipped Cream, Sour Cream, Clotted Cream, and even fake cream in aerosol containers.

And then whilst traveling in France through my job taking printers overseas I was served something called Creme Fraiche. It is now my love over all the others – even whipped cream. Clotted cream comes close (I had that in England at the Hyde Park Hotel in London for high tea). What a job I had huh? I must admit the work for a large printing association introduced me to the world.

Back to Creme Fraiche (pronounced Krem-fresh). If you have not heard of it, it is a luxurious topping for just about anything you can think of. Fruit first of course since they are a natural pairing, but even meat will be enhanced by this delightfully smooth almost-whipped-cream-but-better-topping.

I make my own and have a recipe that is probably long gone and mostly forgotten and maybe my recipe isn’t even for Creme Fraiche after all. But I tell people it is. And it’s so good it is guaranteed to add to my (your) reputation as a gourmet cook!

And here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

One Cup of Sour Cream

One Cup of Heavy Cream

Yep! That’s it!

Equal to Equal. How hard is that?

Now mix the two in a glass dish until well blended. Then allow the mixture to sit uncovered for four or more hours until everything is smooth and of a non-runny texture. No need to stir. No added ingredients. Just wait.

When the mixture is just the right consistency – not runny but thick and creamy like sour cream, you can cover and refrigerate for use as you wish.

And as you use your newly found luxurious deliciousness be sure to go back and spread the top of the topping out so it is smooth and with no pockets to get watery.

Note: Now I know most Creme Fraiche recipes only include heavy cream and buttermilk and mostly for longer hours. I never have buttermilk on hand but I do always have sour cream. And finding heavy cream at the market is sometimes a challenge but I can always find heavy whipping cream. And that’s all it takes.

Enjoy!

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My Dad was Hungarian and a very good cook. I think he even had his own Hungarian restaurant once.

Mom, on the other hand, was known far and wide for her burnt porkchops and except for a few tried and true ultra-simplistic recipes, she was not considered an inspiring cook.

Maybe it is true that opposites attract.

But Mom’s brave attempts at gourmet cooking caused Dad to make a teasing proclamation he repeated often at the family dinner table. It was an anonymous quote guaranteed to make Mom angry when she had done the cooking.

And the impact of those words echo in my memory and remain a constant reminder today of what constitutes a good cook.

What did my Dad say to provide such contemplation and inspiration?

He said, “The cook is not in love!”

And that meant there was not enough salt!

Nowadays we all seem to be “watching our salt” intake. Still, there is something to be said for tasting as you go. And that was the way of the best cooks in my Dad’s experience. Poor Mom stayed quiet and just kept trying.

On occasion Dad would give me his recipes for the dishes I liked best. Here’s a good one, for the most favorite dish in my family.

HUNGARIAN CHICKEN PAPRIKASH

For a family of four: 6-8 chicken pieces or more.

In large pot, melt 2 sticks of butter.

Add 2 large chopped onions and saute until onions are translucent.

Add the larger pieces of chicken (breasts) skin side down.

Spoon some of the onion over each layer.

On top of that, add the smaller pieces of chicken skin side down.

Simmer covered for 20 minutes.

Reverse and turn everything.  Now put smaller pieces of chicken on the

bottom skin side up and the bigger pieces on top of that, skin side up.

Simmer covered for 20 minutes more.

You should now have lots of juice.  If not, add some water.

Also now add lots of paprika – 4 or 5 or 6 tablespoonsful. 

You are looking for a very orange colored gravy.

Simmer another 15 minutes.

Your Hungarian Paprikash is done!

Serve over cooked egg noodles or spaetzle.

Serve with sour cream on the side.

The odd thing about this recipe is the only spice is Paprika. NO salt or pepper are called for and in fact discouraged. Each diner can add salt or not at will. And no comments will be made about the cook not being in love.

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Once upon a very long time ago, when I was but a wee bit of a girl, my parents took me and my little brother to semi-professional ball games at a local park. It was a way to cool off in the evenings since we lived in Florida and had no air-conditioning in those good old days.

To us kids, those parktime excursions were wondrous, not only for the star quality of the young athletes in their dashing uniforms, but for the air of excitement and the vendors who went up and down the stands hawking, “Get your hot dogs here! Get your peanuts here!”

And Dad would buy us each a bag of warm wonderful peanuts. I think they were maybe 10 cents a bag. But what I recall is the delightful aroma.

The memory of those rich fragrant little bags of nuts stayed with me for years until I found out how to make my own replica in my own kitchen. Since then I have been giving tins of them for gifts, offering them up when company comes (before and hopefully after Covid), and keeping batches of them in my freezer.

Now, if you are allergic to peanuts, feel free to burn this page. But if you are not, just follow the recipe for Dor’s Home Roasted Peanuts.

DOR’S HOME ROASTED PEANUTS

INGREDIENTS:

One pound of Raw Blanched Peanuts (I get mine at a local Farm store, but I am sure you can order them online too).

Regular salt and if you have it,

Seasoned salt (usually more powdery than regular salt so it sticks better to the peanuts)

1 1/2 teaspoons butter (I use coconut oil but butter is fine too – it’s just to give the salt something to stick to).

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Pour all the raw peanuts into a rimmed pan. I use the bottom of my broiler pan.

Put the pan full of nuts into the oven and the timer on for 6 minutes.

After 6 minutes, stir them up and move them around for more even baking.

Time them again for 6 minutes. Repeat.

Repeat the 6 minute timing and shuffling for a total of 3 or 4 times.

When the peanuts look golden and brown enough, immediately remove from oven and stir in the butter all around to give the peanuts a light coating (just enough for the salt to stick to). If you use 2 teaspoons of butter it will probably be too much.

Now simply start salting to taste. I start with the stickier Seasoned Salt, generously apply and stir around. Then the regular or sea salt – apply and stir.

Serve warm or serve right out of the freezer. Mostly, ENJOY!

The taste of these peanuts is totally different than anything store bought. They are as close to the Ballgame Peanuts of my childhood as I have ever found.

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Oh, to be thankful for a bit of good luck lately. But is it luck that Covid-19 will see many of us in the history books of the future. And if we outlive this virus, we are like the souls who survived the Great Plagues of earlier times.

Old Wives’ tales abounded then as now and regional customs took over with their guarantees of good luck. Wearing a necklace of garlic to ward off evil vapors is one I read about years ago. I haven’t tried that yet.

But dining on Pork on New Year’s Day was a tradition in Bill’s childhood (leftover from Plague times?) and a pork roast on New Year’s Day became a yearly family ritual in our home.

Most years I baked a traditional pork roast drenched in sauerkraut to bring us good luck, and though the luck did seem to follow us from year to year, the big roast got heavier and heavier, especially after all the sweets and goodies that collected over the Christmas holidays.

Eventually we decided to try simpler fare, and so arrived DOR’S APPLE PORKCHOP RECIPE (Good for good luck on New Year’s Day and beyond):

The question is: Will one pork chop bring as much good luck per person as a big roast?

Quality versus Quantity Equals Pork in the Time of Covid

DOR’S APPLE PORK CHOPS

Ingredients:

  • 3-6 fairly thick Pork Chops (I use only two – one for Bill and one for me)
  • 4-5 apples peeled and sliced to lay on top of the chops (like a blanket)
  • 1/2 Cup Brown sugar, more or less
  • 2 Tbs Sage
  • 1 thinly sliced whole Onion
  • 1 Carrot cut into little tiny bits (mostly for color and a hint of health)

Rub a roasting pan (small one for only 2 chops) with the raw chops (to grease it a bit)

Put chops in one layer in the baking dish or pan

Cover chops with sliced apples

Sprinkle all over with brown sugar.

Sprinkle sage on top.

Spread onion slices on top.

Sprinkle the little bits of carrots on top too – for color.

Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 1 1/2 hours.

This is really delicious served with Baked Beans and a nice green salad!

Happy New Year to my friends here and there in the Blog-Us-Fear.

And Good Luck!

Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

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It was ccccold when I opened my eyes this morning. I was looking at the ceiling where we can immediately know the time and the temp all lit up like a starry sky above.  Who needs to know the time and temp that early anyway?  In fact, knowing made me want to go back to sleep.

But I had to get up to put chicken in the crock pot. 

I was thinking, “How can I rise, dress in something warm and cozy,  find my cane, and then hobble out to the kitchen with nary a sound?

Should I just go back to sleep and forget the crock pot?

“No”, I answered.  “You have to stay on plan.  So, it’s cold.  You will survive.”

Now I am aware it is colder elsewhere in the country.  And wetter.  And snowier.  So feeling sorry for myself and broadcasting the woe-is-me attitude is self serving. 

“Stay in bed”, I thought. “You are entitled to selfish self-serving pampering.”

“No, get up!” 

“Get going.”

The internal struggle continued and jumped to other concerns about the cold temperatures.

Do the lights go out just because it’s cold?

Ooooh!  I almost forgot we now have a whole-house generator so the crock pot would theoretically keep on “crocking” and no need for me to find candles or store water.

No visitors expected here anyway due to the nasty Covid-19 virus, so why am I keeping to a regular dining schedule?  We could eat late or early or even in the middle of the night.

But the sun is rising in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  And by golly it’s cold!

The chicken dish is in the crock pot at last, and if you are interested, here’s the complicated recipe:

DOR’S CROCK POT YUMMY CHICKEN

GOOD ON A COLD DAY NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE

WORTH GETTING OUT OF A WARM BED FOR

Ingredients:  Chicken, a can of black beans, and a jar of salsa.

Directions:

Put however many pieces of chicken in the crock pot

Dump in a can of black beans and a jar of salsa.

Put on “Low” for about 8 or 9 hours and plan to serve over noodles or rice.

And go back to bed!

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Is it Halloween yet?
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Today is downright cold. “Sweater Weather,” my Mom called it. In Florida where I grew up Autumn announced its arrival with a delightfully cool breeze that offered blessed relief from Summer heat. We knew more of that was coming and we could not wait to greet the season.

Virginia is different. Things can and do change overnight. Winter’s warnings here are loud, clear and insistent. Last night the warning came with a breeze too cold to leave the windows open and a sudden need to cover up.

Yes, summer tops look strangely out of place in the closet now and shorts, bathing suit and sun hats are ready for wistful hibernation. I should have been prepared for this since the little market down the road has been showcasing mums and pumpkins for many days now. And the internet is featuring autumn decor and Halloween.

Even recipes emerge that I haven’t even thought of all Summer. I suddenly want to make more stews and hearty meals. I am famous for simple, easy, recipes that taste like they took alot of work. Here’s a good one for Old Fashioned Meatloaf with a great tangy twist.

DOR’S BARBECUED MEAT LOAF

1 ½ pounds ground beef

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 onion, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 15-16 oz. can of tomato sauce, divided

½ cup water

3 tablespoons vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

            Combine first 6 ingredients in a large mixer bowl; add ½ can of tomato sauce, mixing well.  Place mixture in a 10x6x1-inch baking dish, and shape into a loaf.  Combine remaining tomato sauce and remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl and pour over loaf.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done, basting often.  Yield: 8 servings.

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B's 85th with Cake

Gathering

There was a gathering last week for (Dad’s/Grampy’s) Bill’s birthday!  And our once quiet little house in rural Virginia became a beehive of activity with lots of talking, shouting, and barking from Elsa-the-dog, all vying to be heard to catch up on our lives.

The Grandgirls 2019

And there was the birthday boy of course.  There were MaltShop Music DVDs from the 1950’s as a backdrop.  What fun.  What memories.  A chocolate birthday cake with chocolate icing was a hit too.

Dining Delight

I made a new dish for dinner which is now a family fave.  It is called Sausage and Linguine.  Basically it is just that with a few other things like red peppers.  It was a major hit though.  Nothing like a recipe with 5 or less ingredients.

Playing with a Rescue Dog

Elsa Loves Son Corky, who managed to actually play with her.  Elsa does not know how to play.  She runs away from squeaky toys (afraid they are crying and hurt), will not fetch a ball or play tug-o’-war either.  Sad.  But she loves Corky.  He treats her like a puppy, challenges her by showing and hiding treats and and Elsa wags her tail and acts much like a puppy even though she is 7 years old now.

Laughter Lingers

I'm in Cork 2019It was a lovely day for Bill’s birthday with calls and cards, and gifts and lots and lots of love.  The GrandGirls left first, returning to D.C., South Carolina and Michigan to resume their busy lives.  Then we had time with son Corky and daughter-in-law Emmy – time for shopping, talking, laughing, planning.  It was all such fun and we loved every minute, but they are all gone now.

The house is quiet again except for a couple of thunder storms.  Elsa is frightened and shaking under my desk at my feet.  I’m sure she misses Corky and all the other big humans who were here such a short time ago.

Ditto.

 

 

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Egg Exploding

It might be a funny story for future generation giggles.

It was not funny yesterday.

I decided to make hard boiled eggs.

I decided to try another way to make them.

  • Step 1:

You bring them to a boil and

  • Step 2:

Immediately remove them from the heat and allow to stand precisely 17 minutes.

Yup.  I did Step 1.  I am good at following directions.

And then I left.

I think I thought I had 17 minutes to write thank you notes.

The bad thing is I missed Step 2 – the 17 minute-part where you take the eggs off the stove and allow them to stand.

It must have been about 37 minutes later when I heard a funny noise.   Elsa-the-dog was pacing and trying to tell me something was amiss, but I ignored her and told her everything would be allright.

I was busy concentrating you know – writing lovely thank you notes.  It couldn’t be 17 minutes already.  Could it?

Then there came another noise.

Only this time it was a thunderous BANG!  Like a very loud GUNSHOT in the kitchen!

Was someone being murdered INSIDE my house?

It is still gun hunting season here.

Was there someone actually firing a gun in my house?

I ran/hobbled to the kitchen in time to see – YES – it was an explosion all right –

AN EXPLOSION OF EGGS!

Have you ever seen an egg explode?

It was a first for me too.

Oddly enough, I become very calm and deliberate in a crisis.  If you discount the way I talk to myself and even give myself vocal instructions, you would surely admire my bravery in quickly turning the burner off.  I also thought to put Elsa in the back room to keep her from eating exploded eggs.

Note: There were no more eggs in the pot.  I think most of them were on the ceiling and the pot was burned black.

There was definitely egg on the ceiling,

egg on the floor,

egg across the stove top,

egg under the vent hood,

eggs on the walls,

bits of egg into the next room,

egg EVERYWHERE!

Bill helped me clean up, especially in the upper reaches (like egg on top of the refrigerator).

I am still finding egg or egg shells in unusual places.

Finally my friend Amy came over and under her eagle eye and a tightrope walker’s balance, the last remnants of eggs on the ceiling are gone.

The only thing left is

“egg on my face.”

If you are not familiar with this expression, here is what it means.

From “The Dictionary of Cliches” by James Rogers (Ballatine Books, New York, 1985): “to have egg on your face – To be embarrassed or chagrined at something one has done or the way one did it; to do something ineptly. The expression originated in the United States some 25 years ago, probably from the fact that someone eating an egg sloppily is likely to wind up with some of it on his face and therefore not looking his best. 

 

 

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The relationship between peanuts and baseball goes all the way back to when a peanut company bought ad space on the back of scorecards in 1898.  The snack was a big hit in stadiums, and only a few years later, in 1908, the song, “Take Me Out to the Ball game” featured the line, “buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks”, which has forever united the two American traditions in the public mind.”   From WRAL.com

bigstock-Baseball-Food-156694937-DMID1-5c47gbdvo-640x360

I can still hear the peanut man calling!

When I was a young girl my family went to evening baseball games at a local park.  There was always a man climbing the bleachers and calling out in a singsong voice.  He had a carrier full of warm delicious peanuts. The aroma alone was to swoon for.  And twenty-five cents would buy a little brown bag.

Years later I discovered I could roast my own peanuts and duplicate the flavor.

If you are a new guest at our house, you might mistake the peanuts for garden variety supermarket Ho- Hums, but if you politely taste one, guaranteed you will be asking questions.

Apologies if you are allergic though!

The recipe is simple but start with shelled, blanched, raw peanuts.  I get mine at a place called “The Cheese Shop” in Stuarts Draft, Virginia.  You have probably guessed they carry a lot more than cheese.   xslider-1140x460.jpg.pagespeed.ic.ADbx5syzP8Cheese Shop_0

And Bill and I are going there tomorrow to stock up!

Recipe for Dor’s Home Roasted Peanuts  Ingredients:  1-2 lbs shelled, raw, blanched peanuts; 1 tsp butter (or I use coconut oil); Salt to taste.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Spread all the peanuts in a rimmed pan (I use the bottom of my oven broiler pan).
  3. Bake on middle rack for about 6 minutes and then stir everything around. 
  4. Bake 6 minutes more and stir again. 
  5. Repeat #4 two more times. 
  6. Peanuts are done when they are a deep golden brown color. 
  7. While still hot add the butter (don’t be tempted to add more than a teaspoon or they will be too greasy).  The purpose of the butter is to provide a coating the salt can stick to. 
  8. Salt to taste. 
  9. I freeze mine and bring them out in small quantities as needed. 

 

 

 

 

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Nice View Here

It was 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit outside when I opened my eyes this morning. I was looking at the ceiling where we can immediately know the time and the temp all lit up like a starry sky above.  It was 6:00 AM and who needs to know the time and temp that early anyway?  In fact, knowing made me want to go back to sleep.

But I had to get up to put chicken in the crock pot.

I was thinking,

“How can I arise, dress in something warm and cozy,  and then head out to the kitchen with nary a sound?

“Should I just go back to sleep and forget the crock pot?”

“No, I answered.  You have to stay on plan.  So, it’s cold.  You will survive.”

Now I am aware it is colder elsewhere in the country.  And wetter.  And snowier.  Feeling sorry for myself and broadcasting that “woe is me” attitude is definitely self serving.

“Stay in bed, I thought, You are entitled to selfish self-serving pampering.”

“No, get up!”

“Get going.”

“Bill will love not having to cook dinner!”

“Just a little snooze huh?

This  internal struggle continued and jumped to other concerns about the cold temperatures.

Do the lights go out just because it’s cold?

Why then, do I have the urge to hoard water and bread and why am I wanting to stock up for a surprise power outage?

Lucky us!  There is no wetness in this part of Virginia.  Not even any humidity.  It’s just well, COLD!  My youngest grandgirl was supposed to be here yesterday but she was stranded in Charleston, South Carolina! They had 6 to 7 inches of snow that melted a little and then froze.  Bah Humbug!

The sun is up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  And by golly it looks warm out there.

Never mind the ceiling flashing 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit at 7:30 AM.

The chicken dish is in the crock pot and if you are interested, here’s the complicated recipe:

DOR’S CROCK POT YUMMY CHICKEN

GOOD ON A WINTER COLD DAY NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE

WORTH GETTING OUT OF A WARM BED FOR

Ingredients:  Chicken, a can of black beans, and a jar of salsa.

Directions:

Put however many pieces of chicken in the crock pot

Dump in a can of black beans and a jar of salsa.

Put on “Low” for about 8 or 9 hours and plan to serve over noodles or rice.

And go back to bed!

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