Grandma Zemke’s Gingerbread Cookies

The universally agreed upon greatest Christmas cookie in our house isn’t even one of my family recipes. It’s BD’s maternal grandmother Helen Molnar Zemke’s gingerbread cookies.  Up until two years ago, I had never attempted the cookies. I didn’t need to.  I’d just wait until Pat (BD’s mother, Helen’s daughter, my mother-in-law … you following?) would go into her baking frenzy and suddenly boxes of gingerbread cookies would appear in our house. Continue Reading

Video Demonstration – Nonnie’s Biscotti

Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room. ~Harriet Beecher Stowe

A holiday indulgence, if you please.  In all their splendor, linked below are eight uncut, unedited, completely amateur (by yours truly) videos of our day of biscotti making with Aunt Dot.  Interspersed with an intro to “The Monsta,” nuggets of family chatter and some wicked dance moves (don’t ask but do watch if you dare), you will find all of the secrets to making a perfect batch (or six if you are Aunt Dot) of Nonnie’s biscotti.  Enjoy or be afraid … you decide!

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Nana’s Puerto Rican Rice

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Just as Juan Ponce de León searched for the fountain of youth and adventurers, to this day, comb the peaks of the Himalayas for their yetis, I have been – until now – on a heretofore futile mission to recreate Nana’s Puerto Rican Rice. Not nearly as sexy as preternatural beauty or as exciting as a vicious bear-man, this elusive dish with bits of pork goodness and the brininess of green olives dancing a culinary waltz with sofrito and just a whisper of tomato’s acidity rightly sent me into a search from which I could not return until its luscious flavor secrets revealed themselves to me. Lordy, this is good stuff that, yes, makes me write bad prose and most likely bad checks if that need ever arose.

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Pumpkin and Lemon Blueberry Muffins: The Stories You Don’t Share With Your Children …

Years ago, in one of my former lives filled with escapade and mayhem, I would wander the saloons of the West seeking adventure and a quick bit of coin playing Texas Hold ‘Em with anybody who had the cash and gumption to make it interesting. I’d made my way through all of the cities that sounded up to the challenge – Deadwood, Wichita, Tombstone – when I decided to get off the beaten path. My reputation was preceding me and finding a high-stakes table was getting harder and harder.

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French Fries (Pommes Frites)

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There are very few foods that are so universally loved and so easy to make.  So why, oh why, do we buy the flash-steamed-oil-sprayed french fries in the freezer department.  They are just not good.  Not good at all.  Why not just grab some potatoes, oil and salt and have at it.   That is all you need.  For about the price of one bag of Gon-Ho (does anyone get that? I worked on it for a bit), you can buy a bag of potatoes and a bottle of oil to fry enough for a small army. Continue Reading

Lentils and Rice: Zhudra

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Sixty picture later, I’ve just given up.  It’s simply not a pretty dish. You’ll need to take my word that it’s delicious. Earthy lentils, bitter (in a good way) onions, and lots of black pepper combine to make one of my all-time favorite bean dishes.  It’s hearty and filling.  It’s even vegan if that’s your thing.  It’s a comfort dish that transports me to Aunt Myra’s kitchen and some warm happy memories.  She is a terrific cook and introduced my childhood to mint in green salads (that one took me a while to get used to), Syrian meatloaf, and this wonderful lentil dish.  Later in life she introduced me to jug wine but that’s a story for another time.

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Granola

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I didn’t start out as a fan of granola.  There’s something about the flavor of the sort you get in the box that never sat well with me, and after that wayward Summer we spent with the cousins when the aunt decided that orange juice was a suitable wetting agent for cereal, namely granola, the fate of the oated pariah was sealed for me.

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