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Showing posts from February, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies for Breakfast

We woke up one recent morning to the smell of peanut butter cookies. My mother knows these are one of my husband's favorites, and so she whipped up a batch and started popping them in the oven even before the first pot of coffee finished brewing. She's quite the baker and can't resist the urge to make our favorites when we're home . This recipe comes Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book - Souvenir Edition (1965), which holds a permanent position on the kitchen counter. Snuggled between the flour container and the stove it sits ready for its daily perusal as our meals come to life. The signature gold cover of this edition (usually they're a snappy red and white plaid) is a bit dusty with flour and its pages are absolutely stuffed with clipped recipes and marked with notes. Peanut Butter Crisscrosses 1 cup shortening 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup brown sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup peanut butter 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour* 2 teaspoons soda 1/2 teas

Tastes of Home

While I come from a long line of German farmers who put some of the best meat and potato concoctions on the table (and breads !), there's another set of flavors and foods that tell me I'm home. From the first time I tasted these flavors I think I fell in love. One step in the door and we could have closed our eyes and just followed the smell of garlic, lemon, onion, and spices up the stairs to a bustling kitchen. Sybil and Maan gave us a hearty welcome as we entered the swirl. Maan never missed a beat as he prepared the last skewers of lamb for the grill merrily smoking outside, and the tabouli looked like summer in a bowl - a vibrant mix of green parsley, onion and mint with sparks of red tomato, garlic, and bulgur. A friend worked away on the kibbeh nyee (pronounced kib-bay nigh-ay) - raw ground lamb mixed with bulgur and a family recipe of assorted spices - shaping the meat, pouring on the olive oil and setting mint leaves around the plate for a tasty garnish. Each fa

My Mother's Coffeecake

Sunday mornings when I was a child would not have been complete without warm cinnamon rolls or a slice of freshly baked coffee cake. We would come home from church, settle in the living room with the Sunday paper spread across the floor and eat the warm buttered slices over comics and headlines. The house smelled like sweet bread, and crumbs would cover my skirt. My mother , true to form, woke us up one morning on this visit with the smell of fresh-baked coffee cake. Stumbling out to the kitchen for my first cup of coffee I spotted two nicely browned rounds on the corner cutting board. The knife gently broke though the still-hot-to-the-touch crust and slid through the layers below. My first bite in a year of this favorite childhood treat did not disappoint. (It was so satisfactory, in fact, that I was not able to get a picture.) The recipe comes from a book that has been on our kitchen counter forever. Now tightly encased in cellophane it came with the brand new Monarch stove my pa

Home in America

Being home this time of year has its pros and cons, but as my favorite season I focus mostly on the pros. Bright sparkling landscape and shades of blue, brown, and white that aren't seen at any other time. Out for a walk on the family land in Michigan getting chilled to the bone while enjoying the company, the landscape, and seeing some of the earliest signs of Spring I was more than glad to be back.

Miracle ramen in Ebisu

After visiting the farmer's market at the United Nations University , we decided to head over to Ebisu to find a little ramen shop - Afuri - that served what sounded like an enticing flavor: yuzu. Entranced by this recently discovered flavor of Japan , it was impossible to resist the opportunity the beautiful day seemed to offer. Ramen , as I have thus far experienced it, is as wide and varied as meatloaf or chili in America. And, like meatloaf and chili, everyone has a recipe, but no two are exactly alike. In each steaming bowl, though, can be found: noodles, broth (sometimes clear, sometimes deliciously murky and gravy-like), thinly sliced onion, a bit of seaweed, and a slice of two of relatively fatty pork. After that, anything can happen as a recent Frugal Traveler post suggests. Let me just say here that I can't say I'm a fan. And I do say this with some trepidation because the Japanese love their ramen. A rough equivalent in America is to say you don'

Vegetable Adventures at the United Nations University Farmers Market

Under the white awnings of the farmer's market at the United Nations University in Tokyo is another treasure trove of local seasonal food . Over forty stalls offered vegetables, fruits, rice, breads and pastries, flowers, and some of the prettiest rock salt I've ever seen from varied parts of Japan. Part of a burgeoning farmers market movement to connect people with their food and its producers, this market between trendy Harajuku and super-bustling Shibuya, bristled with energy and enthusiasm. Four kinds of natto from Sendai, three types of mochi from Nagano Prefecture, and a huge variety of mushrooms including shitakes already started on a log, were but a few of the great edibles on offer. Running a close second as a personal favorite to the mochi from Nagano was the little salad garden in a bag that was so cute it was difficult to resist the urge to add it to my own garden already underway. Add to this woven straw baskets and bags, and metalware made from recycled materi