Dinner's Ready!

Oh, my, did this sign bring back memories but I'm not telling!

Oh, my, did this sign bring back memories but I'm not telling!

Dinner's Ready!

Did your family have any traditions when you were growing up about dinner?

We did. Whoever was home first set the table. Whoever was home last did the dishes, the one next to home last dried. We had a dishwasher but Mom liked having the kitchen clean after dinner so it was our job to get everything clean and put away before the lights were turned off.

There was no TV in the dining room - can you even imagine? We would have conversations about what happened in our day, what might happen tomorrow, and over the weekend. There were no cell phones on the table, and if the phone rang, no one answered. We were having dinner and the phone was not allowed to interrupt the time we set aside to be together.

After the table was set, we were all expected to stay close so that when Mom said "dinner was ready," everyone would settle around the table for a warm meal. Nothing out of the microwave, this was a warm dish out of the oven, or from the top of the stove, cooked from a recipe out of a favorite recipe book or a favorite recipe card kept in a recipe book. If there was some sort of bread, and a vegetable dish, it would be timed so that all three were served warm at the same time, quite a feat when I think about that today, not to mention desert.

When I became a stepmom and was coordinating my own home-cooked meals, I remember taking cues from her dinners including freezing meals ahead. I never did quite get the "hang" of repeatedly following recipes but then I didn't set the kitchen on fire, either.

I will say no more.

Charlotte

 

 

 

Welcome to My Kitchen Sign

Isn't this a fun welcome to my kitchen sign?

Isn't this a fun welcome to my kitchen sign?

Welcome to My Kitchen Sign

I have terrible handwriting so I admire people who can beautifully write with chalk on signs. That's not what caught my eye about this sign, it was the hectic daily schedule it outlined.

Cooking for me is more of a fall and winter sport. Soups are a favorite, and cookies for our local bee club. This year I will be doing some experimenting incorporating honey into some recipes but when it comes to spring and summer...well, this sign better reflects my cooking routine.

It's not so bad. I have lost 40 lbs keeping to fresh salads and fruits, not eating after 6 p.m. and sticking to cooked chicken, salmon and turkey. I also try to button up my kitchen early in the evening so I am not tempted to eat later in the evening. All except for my hot cup of water with lemon.

Sometimes I skip the fresh lemon. Must be a Friday.

Charlotte

Spoon Rest Gift

This sweet spoon rest was a gift from a gardening friend because she said it reminded her of me.

This sweet spoon rest was a gift from a gardening friend because she said it reminded her of me.

Spoon Rest Gift

A gardening friend shared this little bag with something she said had my name on it. It's interesting to see how others see us so I opened the bag with a smile, I love surprises!

Inside was this charming spoon rest, purchased from a nearby family-style restaurant gift shop in case you like it as well.

Besides the thought, I could quickly see why she thought of me when she saw it.

Before you ask, this came from a neighborhood family style restaurant gift shop.

Before you ask, this came from a neighborhood family style restaurant gift shop.

The spoon rest is large. We had recently talked about wanting larger spoon rests for soup spoons so I suspected that conversation had inspired her to look at these often overlooked kitchen assistants.

The rest was easy. Honeybees, for my apiary Home Sweet Bees; ladybugs, the logo for Bluebird Gardens, and flowers, all hand-painted. 

Bees, ladybugs and flowers, my favorites. What luck to have them all together!

Bees, ladybugs and flowers, my favorites. What luck to have them all together!

Sometimes when I find something perfect like this for a gift I also can't wait to present it. Thank you, Emily, I love it!

Charlotte

My First Peach This Year

My first peach this year in a compact dwarf peach tree at Bluebird Gardens.

My first peach this year in a compact dwarf peach tree at Bluebird Gardens.

My First Peach This Year

As I was walking around my garden one morning, doing my usual visual inventory, I had to back track when I saw this peach. It was my first peach this year - maybe my only peach if the squirrels have anything to say about it - so I was pleasantly surprised and happy to see it. 

I kept the flowers on this tree frost free earlier this spring by covering it with one of my winter coats, not knowing if it would work or not. Not only was I happy to see that the extra effort worked, but I was pleased to see that the squirrels had not removed this fruit, at least not yet.

Several years ago, I had spotted a peach on another dwarf compact fruit tree and waited until the next morning to pick it. As I was heading out to get it, a squirrel hopped by, peach in mouth so I learned the hard way it's not a good thing to wait.

Usually local ripe peaches are available closer to August and September. Without any hesitation, I pulled this one off and took a bite. 

So good!

Charlotte

Ceramic Vegetable Measuring Cups

These delightful ceramic vegetables are a set of measuring cups.

These delightful ceramic vegetables are a set of measuring cups.

Ceramic Vegetable Measuring Cups

Not to be outdone by my ceramic flower measuring spoons, soon after I found this set of ceramic vegetable measuring cups. There is something delightfully whimsical about these four, from the 1 cup artichoke to the 1/4 cup shallot, who doesn't love having vegetables around!

The measuring quantities are posted on the inside, although it's relatively easy to guess by looking at each of them.

This ceramic shallot is a 1/4 cup measuring cup equivalent.

This ceramic shallot is a 1/4 cup measuring cup equivalent.

In doing a little online research, it appears these are vintage 1983 Avon Gallery Originals. I am missing the measuring spoon set of hot red peppers and the hanging rack that was part of the original set.

I will add that to my list of things to look for the next time I visit antique malls, nothing like a little treasure hunt or two to focus a window-shopping trip.

Charlotte

Ceramic Flower Measuring Spoons

Ceramic flower measuring spoons hanging in my kitchen.

Ceramic Flower Measuring Spoons

Aren't these fun?

I found them at - what else - a local thrift shop. They are ceramic; the purple pansy is the smallest measuring 1/4 teaspoon, to the largest, a red poppy measuring one tablespoon. 

Like most good non-precise cooks, I don't usually use measuring spoons. My idea of measuring is several guessing shakes, a few pinches or a couple of dabs. One year my mother did give me one of those sets of plastic measuring spoons that takes up space in a drawer but I can't remember the last time I used them.

Until I found these. 

They are currently hanging from the side of a cabinet where I can see them. When I have a recipe that requires several measurements, I take them down and use them, more for the fun of it than for the measuring precision. I am sure it helps to increase the chance the dish will not only come out edible but can also be more easily replicated, something my mother would have appreciated. She never ceased to ask about a dish she liked only to find out I couldn't give her the recipe because I had just thrown it together earlier that evening and couldn't replicate it even when I tried. A number of times.

Doing a little research online, I didn't find this set but I found a similar one, featuring all red flowers, made in England. That makes sense since even the smallest British homes have their postage stamp gardens carefully planted with fresh herbs and cutting flowers.

Mom taught me to collect what I like. It's easy to get caught up in trying to invest in collectibles but something is only as valuable as what someone is willing to pay. Life is complicated enough as it is so I simplify by  picking up things I like, and then use them.

If you want to get someone on the right path cooking, a good basic recipe book like the American Cooking Illustrated Encyclopedia is a good start. But so is a set of measuring spoons that speaks to them. Even if they don't use them, they will have something they can hang as home decor on their kitchen walls as a fun reminder of you.

Charlotte

 

Cat Fishing Tea Infuser

Isn't this adorable? It is a gift from a dear friend who has a cat named after her.

Isn't this adorable? It is a gift from a dear friend who has a cat named after her.

Cat Fishing Tea Infuser

I had a late Christmas with a dear friend in January. She's dear enough that my 19-year old cat is named after her. Although she is allergic to cats, this friend loves to visit and check up on her name sake and Margaret, the cat, seems to know they have a special bond.

So it's no surprise that one of my gifts this year starred a white cat with a pink nose,  this darling cat fishing tea infuser.

So the Meow Tea Cup infuser features a fish tea infuser that holds the loose tea.

So the Meow Tea Cup infuser features a fish tea infuser that holds the loose tea.

Tea infusers are used to brew loose tea leaves. They are also called tea balls and tea eggs. There are a number of different tea infusers on the market that, over the years, I have also used to add herbs to soups.

I have a couple tea infusers that I use with my dried herbs when I make tea but this one is the highest on the adorable meter.

First I should tell you that one of my cat's favorite games is to chase a fishing line on a fishing pole with a catnip toy at the end. It's a great way to practice my casting and keep my cats exercised.

I don't recommend casting this fish tea infuser but it reminds me of those cat fishing games my little feline friends like so much.

Here's the tea infuser taking a dive into a cup of hot water.

Here's the tea infuser taking a dive into a cup of hot water.

Once filled, the fish tea infuser goes into my cup of hot water, supervised by a little white cat holding on to the edge of the cup.

And the little white cat holds on to the tea infuser chain until it's ready to be retrieved.

And the little white cat holds on to the tea infuser chain until it's ready to be retrieved.

So much like the spirit of my cat Margaret, who also takes her supervision duties seriously and infrequently leaves me to my own devices. Not that she is a lot of help but she does think my days go better if she's close by. And they do.

I really like this gift to add to my breaks with Margaret the cat in my lap. Now I have yet another reason to slow down and enjoy the day.

Thank you, Margaret!

Charlotte

Snowman on Cinnamon Holiday Winter Decoration

Snowman holiday winter decoration features a 4-inch fleece snowman on cinnamon stick.s

Snowman holiday winter decoration features a 4-inch fleece snowman on cinnamon stick.s

Snowman on Cinnamon Holiday Winter Decoration

Ever since a former colleague told me she keeps all of her holiday snowmen up until spring, I have a different perspective on what used to be only Christmas decor in my house. I was thinking about that shift when I came across this charming little fabric snowman sitting on a bed of cinnamon sticks and moss. 

Someone at one time must have used him as a Christmas ornament because a Christmas ornament hook was strung through his neck scarf but the cinnamon sticks easily make him stand up.

Can't you just see a little series of snowmen doing a variety of different things?

Cinnamon sticks and gardening moss give this snowman a nice finishing touch.

Cinnamon sticks and gardening moss give this snowman a nice finishing touch.

And after a little stint hanging out in a tree, this little winter character can get a second wind on a mantle or a side table, still easily sitting on a bed of cinnamon sticks. A delicious side benefit, those cinnamon sticks smell nice, too!

Easy to make and the cinnamon sticks make the snowman self-standing.

Easy to make and the cinnamon sticks make the snowman self-standing.

If you want to make some, here is how the bottom looks. Just anchor the snowman with cinnamon sticks on either side and glue with a glue stick.

You bet I am thinking about making some of these for next year!

Charlotte

One of My Favorite Foods to Grow

Bluebird Gardens pears not quite ready for picking.

Bluebird Gardens pears not quite ready for picking.

One of My Favorite Foods To Grow

If there is a favorite food I like to grow, it is bartlett pears. Not that I have been terribly successful.

I planted a semi-dwarf Stark Brother's tree in 1983 next to my driveway. The thought was once the tree was bearing fruit, I could sit on my deck and pick a pear off a nearby branch. No one said I had to expend a lot of energy to do so.

I used to dream about picking those pears but over the years, I almost forgot I even had the tree. After three decades of not blooming, or giving fruit, I had given up on ever having pears. 

In 2010, the tree had its first blooms, courtesy of wasps that had taken up residence in some of my birdhouses.

Since then, I have had pears every other year. I could have made jam but I enjoy them as they are, sometimes cut into a salad or as a desert fruit. If they are not quite ripe, I put them in a brown bag with an apple for a couple of days until they are soft to the touch.

Summers with record hot temperatures drive squirrels to eat the pears still green so this year I won't be picking any. There is always next year!

Charlotte

Delicious Christmas Tree

My Christmas tree story this year includes fruits, cats, birds and Mr. Santa Mouse ornaments.

My Christmas tree story this year includes fruits, cats, birds and Mr. Santa Mouse ornaments.

Delicious Christmas Tree

When visiting friends and relatives, I enjoy looking at their Christmas tree and matching their holiday traditions to their personalities. Some have very formal Christmas trees, others have the more old-fashioned decor with favorite ornaments on their trees. Regardless of whether it's a real or artificial Christmas Tree, the best part are the stories that go with them.

Since this is my foray into having something more than a miniature artificial tree, it was telling that once I had ornaments I had collected over the years on my small artificial tree, there was a definite food theme.

My 5-foot artificial Christmas tree now is covered in food-related ornaments.

My 5-foot artificial Christmas tree now is covered in food-related ornaments.

Barlett pears, or any other kind of pears, are one of my all-time favorite fruits. I have a semi-dwarf pear tree right off my driveway that keeps me nicely supplied. These gold-toned pear ornaments were this year's addition, a 50 cent each find at a local thrift store. Perfect to add to the delicious story my Christmas tree was already telling!

Beaded apples were purchased more than two decades ago at a home decor store sale.

Beaded apples were purchased more than two decades ago at a home decor store sale.

The pears joined my beaded apple ornaments, purchased more than 20 years ago at a home decor store sale. I needed to decorate a Christmas tree display for a local antique store outlet. I liked their added texture from the beading and, when I don't have my glasses on, I can almost imagine them as giant raspberries, another favorite food of mine.

Most of the beaded apples were sold with another decorated tree; these were the left-overs.

Fake cherry garland adds a nice pop of red in my Christmas tree.

Fake cherry garland adds a nice pop of red in my Christmas tree.

My little compact cherry trees haven't provided me any fruit yet but I am still hopeful my bees will help with pollination and get them going. In the meantime, this little red garland is a tribute to their presence in my garden.

The artificial cherry garland also reminds me of the year I decided to decorate an outside cedar with popcorn garland. After getting my stepchildren to help with popcorn sampling, we had a nice handmade garland to wrap around the little cedar.

The next morning, I looked out the window at the cedar tree just in time to see my wild turkeys carrying off the popcorn garland!

Fabric strawberry pincushions add a touch of family heritage to my Christmas tree.

Fabric strawberry pincushions add a touch of family heritage to my Christmas tree.

As I was decorating, I remembered I had some fabric strawberries I could add. They were sold as pincushions but I thought they would make charming Christmas tree decorations. Since our family on my father's side were Hungarian strawberry farmers, the strawberries add a dash of heritage to the Christmas tree.

I carefully considered whether those fabric strawberry ornaments would be too tempting to may cats and decided to add them anyway. They are at the top, where little paws can't easily get to them.

I also added my little collection of gift cat ornaments from former office colleagues and a few white mushroom birds picked up for 10 cents at another thrift store. I have a family of doves that winter over in my garden, the white ones in the tree remind me of their presence. There are also several fabric bird ornaments made out of old quilts, those have been collected individually over the years.

And another old friend is Santa Mouse, who has sat on top of my  Christmas trees for many years. He's venturing a little lower this year because I have a flying angel chasing a bee at the top, a nod to my new passion with beekeeping.

Yes, I also wonder how long it will take before the cats get Mr. Santa Mouse out of the tree!

Charlotte

Pie Elves

Options to order pre-made pies from Rolla Technical Institute's Culinary Arts Class.

Options to order pre-made pies from Rolla Technical Institute's Culinary Arts Class.

Pie Elves

How I wish this class had been around when I would cook big Thanksgiving dinners!

Our local technical institute has a culinary class offering pre-made pies, from apple crumb and cherry crumb to pumpkin and pecan. I love making pies, especially from traditional recipes, but there were times when it would have been nice to have - well, pie elves, helping out.

We grew up making pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, rare leftovers a favorite day after breakfast with a cold glass of milk.

Pecan pies were added after I got married, a favorite of family members who were proud of their secret recipe.

These days I like to bake just the pumpkin custard for dessert using skim milk and doubling up on spices, the pie crust left for a discussion topic on how best to make it flaky.

On second thought, I may have to splurge for one of these pies, all I have to do is pick them up!

Charlotte

 

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are great to celebrate all sorts of holidays besides Christmas, like Thanksgiving!

Sugar cookies are great to celebrate all sorts of holidays besides Christmas, like Thanksgiving!

 

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

I don't know about you but I used to think of traditional sugar cookies only for Christmas. Even with a healthy collection of cookie cutters, I tended to dust off that recipe around early December and make batches as gifts for people who had made our lives extra special earlier in the year.

When my office needed cookies for St. Patrick's Day, celebrated in March, I started to venture out past December and now, sugar cookies are a regular option when wanting to mark a special occasion, including Halloween.

Having a nice collection of food dyes and cookie decorating supplies makes the impulse easier. Some of the decorations don't have to be specifically cookie decor, miniature chocolate chips come in handy for a number of reasons.

So quick and easy, and a lot of fun, too!

Charlotte

 

Bartlett Pear Gifts

A friend has a neighbor with an old Bartlett pear tree, notice all of the pears are at the top??

A friend has a neighbor with an old Bartlett pear tree, notice all of the pears are at the top??

Bartlett Pear Gifts

When I used to dream about adding fruit trees to my garden, having a pear tree was top of the list.  Now I do have a semi-dwarf Bartlett pear tree that's several decades old and just recently has started to provide fruit. This year, my Bartlett pear tree gave me only one pear  but that doesn't mean I won't have fresh pears this year.

A friend with a neighbor with a traditional Bartlett pear tree invited me over to pick pears and I was not going to turn down the opportunity.

The first thing we notices was that the remaining pears were out of reach at the top of the tree. My friend said you would think wind would knock over those pears. Not to be daunted, we started to pick through pears already on the ground.

Contrary to popular belief, those pears on the ground are fine, even with a little damaged corner. These pears are grown without any pesticides so there may be a few little spots that need to be cut off. Use a knife, clear out the area and enjoy.

Also don't be afraid to pick up more than you can use, pears make wonderful gifts.

Gift Basket of Pears

Once I had my stash, I stopped by a local thrift store and picked up a basket and two napkins to use as a basket liner. Once the pears are gone, the napkins can be re-used when setting a table for meals. I selected a variety of pears, from ready to eat to still a little green, and dropped the basket off with a friend who recently had surgery.

He was thrilled, the first thing he said was "oh, good, something soft I can eat."

Locally-grown pears in a napkin-lined gift basket ready to be delivered.

Locally-grown pears in a napkin-lined gift basket ready to be delivered.

A variety of pears, some ready to eat, others still green, are a good variety.

A variety of pears, some ready to eat, others still green, are a good variety.

For those still green pears, you could add a little brown bag with instructions to add a pear and an apple. The apple will give off a gas that will help ripen the pear.

So glad I kept a few for myself as well, fresh pears are wonderful just as they are!

Charlotte

My One BIG Pear

My one Bartlett pear in 2016 from my pear tree at Bluebird Gardens.

My One BIG Pear

Once again, my 35-year old Stark Brother's Bartlett pear tree has given me a delicious token of what it is capable of growing.

Every other year, this semi-dwarf fruit tree gives me a pear. Just one. A beautiful, large fruit, enticing me to be patient and to dream of what I will get next year.

Long History

This tree was planted in 1983 close to my house deck. The idea was that one could walk up to the deck railing and pick one of my favorite fruits and eat it right there. Fast forward to 2010, when I frankly had forgotten about the tree because it didn't bloom for all of those years.

In 2010, wasps covered the white spring blooms in pollen, resulting in more than 250 fruit that fall. It was so exciting, I shipped fruit to family and friends and shared locally and still had fruit ripening in my garage well into winter.

The next year, the tree gave me only a handful of pears.

In 2012, the summer drought forced wildlife to eat the green pears as a food source. 

The following year, once again the tree gave me one very large pear.

In 2014, I had to beat my resident squirrels to the bounty but there was enough to share. Last year, I got one pear again, which meant this year should have been a year of bounty.

In 2016, we had another summer drought period with record hot temperatures in July and August. The tree was well-pollinated this spring by my bees and wasps but wildlife, once again, turned to the green fruit for a food source during the drought.

How to Ripen a Pear

This one pear is now in a small brown bag with an apple so it can ripen for a special treat. I check it every day or so, giving some thought about how I will enjoy it. There are some old-fashioned recipes on preparing pears, but having only one seems a bit of overkill.

My brother David loves poached pears. I do as well but not sure I won't just enjoy this special one fresh once it ripens.

Now the big question is, what will I get next year - more pears or another promise of one?

Charlotte

Pomegranate Babies

My pomegranate bush in bloom with lovely orange flowers that remind me of fuchsias.

My pomegranate bush in bloom with lovely orange flowers that remind me of fuchsias.

Pomegranate Babies

I love pomegranates; so did my mother. She grew up in California, one of the places worldwide where the weather is conducive to growing pomegranates.

Pomegranates originated in Iran and have been cultivated for centuries in northern India and the Mediterranean. They are deciduous shrubs or small trees, growing between 16-25 feet tall. Good thing I have tall ceilings in my den!

I picked up a tiny pomegranate bush mid-spring, knowing I would have to make room for it inside over winter. I didn't know how beautiful the flowers are; they remind me of orange fuchsia blooms. 

At the beginning of September 2016, I found little pomegranate babies on one side of the bush.

Pomegranates are growing on my potted pomegranate bush. I removed the one in the middle.

Pomegranates are growing on my potted pomegranate bush. I removed the one in the middle.

I removed the middle one to give the two pomegranates on each side room to grow. Will be interesting to see how big they will get.

Here's the potted pomegranate bush, about 3 feet tall not counting the pot.

Here's the potted pomegranate bush, about 3 feet tall not counting the pot.

I cruised through several cookbooks, including the White House Cookbook, but didn't find many recipes that call for pomegranates.

North America, the pomegranate fruit is typically in season September through February. I use pomegranates in salads and as a fresh fruit desert.

How do you use pomegranates in your meals?

Charlotte

 

 

Reminder Bracelet

Whenever I am in the middle of doing something I need to remember, I pop on this bracelet.

Whenever I am in the middle of doing something I need to remember, I pop on this bracelet.

Reminder Bracelet

I don't know about you but cooking for me can be dangerous. Ever since I left a pot of sugar water for hummingbird food on the stove and "stepped outside" and a "few minutes" later had a fire department engine in my driveway, I have a rule: if I have something on the stove, I am not allowed out of the kitchen.

Well, I at least don't allow myself to go outside, it's too easy to get distracted and get involved in doing something that passes the time much too quickly. I can also get distracted inside the house, especially when I'm surfing recipe books. After several tries, I have a new system: whenever I have something on the stove, I slip on this elastic bracelet of gold-tone balls.

The bracelet is big enough to periodically get in the way to remind me I have something cooking, and easy enough to slip on and off when I go through several cooking sessions in one day. That's usually in fall and winter, I tend not to cook so much in summer. Unless it's food for bees, or hummingbirds. 

Which reminds me, I need to bake another batch of cookies for the fire department. This time, I will deliver the cookies, no need for them to stop by and pick them up!

Have you ever left something cooking on the stove too long?

Charlotte

 

Calling All Ducks

Gail Lee, left, and Margaret Ronzio, right, after fighting backed up I-44 traffic August 27, 2016.

Gail Lee, left, and Margaret Ronzio, right, after fighting backed up I-44 traffic August 27, 2016.

Calling All Ducks

The trip from St. Louis to Rolla, Mo. August 27, 2016 was supposed to be an easy drive for my two friends so we planned to have lunch. After almost 4 hours in backed up traffic because a car hit an electrical tower, we still decided on lunch at a very local restaurant, Randy's Roadkill BBQ and Grill, off Highway E.

I had tried to find the place open a few times before but their business hours fluctuated. The fact that one of the owners, Cathy, was also a beekeeping student made the visit even more attractive.

When we arrived on site, we found a wonderful surprise - ducks, swimming in the pond on the back side.

We had two pet Peking ducks when we lived in southern Illinois so I brushed off my duck calling  to see if I could still bring them in.

When I first started quacking, I wasn't sure they had heard me so I stopped to watch them.

When I first started quacking, I wasn't sure they had heard me so I stopped to watch them.

Randy's Roadkill BBQ and Grill is an ecclectic restaurant with a good dose of humor. Once we went inside, funny sayings on the wall had us distracted from the menu. Known for barbecue, the restaurant is only open Thursdays through Sundays. Randy told us, who wants to work all of the time?

And the ducks?

Definitely some response from the swimming ducks, they were all converging.

Definitely some response from the swimming ducks, they were all converging.

Looks like they are heading our way, doesn't it!

Ducky Wucky and Toodle Noodle - names my father gave to our two Peking ducks - would also come to me when I called. We used to have "conversations" in quack, to the delight of my brothers who also tried to imitate the duck sounds.

Well, I haven't lost my touch, here come Randy's Roadkill BBQ and Grill ducks!

Well, I haven't lost my touch, here come Randy's Roadkill BBQ and Grill ducks!

Didn't take the ducks long to join us, some even opening their wings to help them move faster.

Do they look disappointed? They were, we didn't have any food for them!

Do they look disappointed? They were, we didn't have any food for them!

Now that they were with us, it was obvious they were disappointed.

Cathy, my beekeeping student, said they were used to being fed so our empty hands must have been quite the let down.

Not that they were suffering, Cathy said the chef feeds them leftovers every day. 

Gail Lee, left, and Margaret Ronzio share leftover french fries with the waiting ducks.

Gail Lee, left, and Margaret Ronzio share leftover french fries with the waiting ducks.

After we split an appetizer, left-over french fries were cut into small pieces and, with Cathy's approval, fed to the ducks.

The food was good but I will confess, I may visit Randy's Roadkill BBQ and Grill just to see the ducks again!

Charlotte

Thai Basil

Rolla, Missouri's Thai Restaurant, which I have to admit I have yet to try.

Rolla, Missouri's Thai Restaurant, which I have to admit I have yet to try.

Thai Basil

Thai basil has intrigued me for some time. Besides the lovely purple flowers, it is one of those herbs I have yet to try in my cooking but that won't last much longer.

Thai basil is a member of the mint family. I am told it has a sweet flavor, similar to anise. Being a perennial, it's already on my must try list, any plant that keeps coming back is welcome in my garden.

Thai basil growing outside Sawadee Thai Restaurant in Rolla, Missouri.

Thai basil growing outside Sawadee Thai Restaurant in Rolla, Missouri.

So imagine my surprise when I pulled into the Sawadee Thai Restaurant parking lot to see these black containers with fresh Thai basil growing. If there was ever any doubt fresh herbs are used in their cooking, this should confirm it. 

Another indication of Thai basil, a pretty green leaf on young plants.

Another indication of Thai basil, a pretty green leaf on young plants.

So I did take one leaf to sniff and taste. 

As soon as I have a good growing spot, I will be adding Thai basil.

Do you use Thai basil in your cooking?

Charlotte

A Taste of Childhood

Serenate de Amor bon bons are made in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, where I grew up.

Serenate de Amor bon bons are made in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, where I grew up.

A Taste of Childhood

As the summer 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, end, it's been interesting to see parts of a country where I grew up and how it has changed since those days.

One of the things that hasn't changed is a bon bon that was made in the island town where I grew up. The Garoto factory made this treat that is most similar to Kit Kat bar waffers, only each piece was individually wrapped. This treat also has cashew butter, similar to peanut butter.

These chocolate treats are not found just anywhere. A friend took me to a world food market in St. Louis several months ago, where to my delight I found a box of these childhood treats.

Cashews were my childhood version of peanuts, we also enjoyed the cashew fruit as well.

Cashews were my childhood version of peanuts, we also enjoyed the cashew fruit as well.

We used to have these in the house, much as people today have single serving chocolates. They were given as treats to guests and left on bedside tables for visitors. Didn't think about it at the time but these are the taste of home to me, at least from my childhood.

I enjoyed the last piece in the box on the last night of the Summer 2016 Olympics. Seemed an appropriate way to mark the end of the two weeks of jumping, diving, running, cart-wheeling and reliving a part of my young days.

Food can bring back many memories, even ones from a childhood.

Food can bring back many memories, even ones from a childhood.

Delicious memories!

What food brings back childhood memories for you?

Charlotte

Baked Blessings by Jane Lemon Scone

Getting ready to enjoy a Baked Blessings by Jane lemon scone with a cup of hot green tea.

Getting ready to enjoy a Baked Blessings by Jane lemon scone with a cup of hot green tea.

Baked Blessings by Jane Lemon Scone

Saturdays are days to relax and to head to my local farmer's market, preferably to pick up something scrumptious for breakfast.

Not that I always do, sometimes I pick up the prevailing produce and head back home to start my day but not today. I found a vendor at the end of the aisle offering free homemade scone samples to try. 

If you ever wondered if offering samples works, it does. These scones were moist and not too sweet, a perfect counterpoint to the icing and the cup of green tea that was waiting for me back home.

Scones are not hard to make, our family has been making them for breakfast for years. There is something special, however, about buying one that was freshly-made and which does not require me to mess up my recently-cleaned kitchen.

Besides, who doesn't like sampling how someone else makes something, and Jane had a lot of choices:

 

A variety of scone choices offered by baked blessings by jane at rolla's downtown farmers market august 13, 2016.

A variety of scone choices offered by baked blessings by jane at rolla's downtown farmers market august 13, 2016.

I only had $2 in cash in my purse so I settled on a favorite-lemon. This is a "lemon zest with glaze and almonds," a scone that didn't quite make it home all in one piece because I kept nibbling on the corners. Yes, I can taste the lemon zest I decided at one stop light. No, the glaze is not too sweet, was the verdict at another stop.

It was also interesting to hear stories about Jane's grandfather who used to keep bees. He had 75 colonies at one time and sold honey at area locations. Spending time at farmer's markets is nothing new to Jane.

Oh, there is a real Jane. Meet Jane!

Jane from baked blessings by Jane at the august 13, 2016 rolla farmer's market. see those handmade scones under glass? One less there now :)

Jane from baked blessings by Jane at the august 13, 2016 rolla farmer's market. see those handmade scones under glass? One less there now :)

Time to finish my cup of tea and decide what to do today.

That's right, it's Saturday. Time to relax!

Charlotte