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It's not "life's illusions", but "life's infusions" that I recall!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Poached Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream...

While sorting through my cookbook collection, I came across this delightful recipe in my "French Women Don't Get Fat" book. (Very inspiring, by the way!)

I adapted it, since I didn't have any Muscat Beaumes de Venise on hand....  What kind of wine is this?  Ah ha, I had to look it up and found out it's a dessert wine. (Sorry, my lack of wine knowledge is showing!)  I decided to substitute a Sherry, but I think Brandy would also work...it's good to experiment, n'est-ce pa?

Here's the recipe:

Poached Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream

2          cups Muscat Beaumes de Venise or any good dessert wine

1/2       cup sugar ( I used 1/4 cup raw and 1/4 cup regular white)

2          tablespoons lemon juice

4          Bosc pears, peeled, cored and halved ( I cut them smaller to fit better in my dessert dish)

1          or more scoops of your favorite Vanilla Ice Cream ( I love homemade!)

In a heavy saucepan, bring wine and sugar to a boil.  Simmer for 5 more minutes....

Add lemon juice and pears....cook about 10-15 more minutes on low to medium heat.


Cool and refrigerate.

When ready to serve, bring the pears to room temperature.  Serve with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream and a sprig of mint!


A refreshing dessert perfect with tea!

I have missed my "mint patch" that used to grow right outside our back door at the ranch.  It was proflic!  Of course, the dripping faucet helped!  Every winter, it would die down, and I would wonder if this was the year it wouldn't revive.  Behold, every spring, little green leaves appeared and I rejoiced!

This year I planted a little mint with my little viola's.  I can quickly grab a sprig or two...right outside my back door again! Can't wait for iced tea season...of course this Saturday I have to make a Mint Julep and watch the Kentucky Derby!


Happy Infusions,



Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sorting the Cookbook Collection....

I love each one of them.  They have distinct personalities.  How could I sort and throw out any of them?

There they were stacked on my counter awaiting their fate.....


My cookbook collection.  My recipes. Those wonderful creations that had saved my reputation more than once.


Love this one. It's full of fabulous uncomplicated, gourmet, delicious recipes, and is a storehouse of information. It was a keeper.

My mother ask me to take home a few of her cookbooks the last time I visited her.  Considering the current state of affairs, I thought this one might

be helpful....


Perusing through this collection from the Sunday Parade Magazine, I spotted several variations of the "Budget Casserole" and "Budget Stretcher"  I remember my mother using.  My favorite from this era, though, are the molded gelatin salads and the Baked Alaska dessert....


Oh dear... I hadn't found any to dispose of yet.

Memories flooded my mind when I reached for this one....


I went with my children and now I'm going with my grandchildren on field trips to Bishop's Pumpkin Farm in Wheatland, California. (That means Bishop's has been in business over 25 years!)   This little book is full of memories and great recipes like the Applesauce Pumpkin Bread (moist and tasty)

and I love their Persimmon Cookie recipe.  I put it in the sentimental stack.

In my quest to raise healthy children, I collected these two fine cookbooks.  The Snacks has clever ideas for "presentation" of healthy foods and the CANDY

was invaluable for great traveling ideas...foods, games and "how to's".  Ok, these two belong in the sentimental pile.



I felt like hugging some of these cookbooks.  They're like old friends!  When we moved to our ranch in Surprise Valley, I loved using recipes submitted by so many people I knew and saw at least once a month!  Great food and sometimes a story or two  makes this one a little like a story book.....


This darling notebook, given to me by my precious daughters, holds my accumulation of handwritten and typed recipes from

family and friends, and those I cut from magazines and newspapers.


And then there was the time My Sweet Husband and I attended a conference for small family farms and met a woman who was collecting recipes

and farm stories for her cookbook.  We agreed to contribute and were published in this cookbook....



Probably one of the funniest cookbooks I've ever seen was given to me by my sister-in-law...


It does have the best bread pudding recipe I've ever tried!  Sometimes it's fun just to read through the names of the recipes..."Uncle Willie's Swamp

Cabbage Stew",  "Clara Jane Vickar's Creamed Tuna Lunch", "Betty Sue's Sister-In-Law's Fried Eggplant". It does have a whole section of recipes I don't

think I will ever use...."Boiled Squirrel", "Butt's Gator Tail", and " Aunt Donnah's Roast Possum".  However, one should never say never!  I'm not ready to
part with this one yet.

This was my first cookbook.  I had to buy it for my high school Home Economics class. It's a basic, classical cookbook .  It is beloved.  Currently, the cover has been duct taped, and some of the index pages have come loose from the three ring binder, but for the most part, it is in great shape and still quite useful.


Well, I did manage to find six books to give away. I discovered I had never used a recipe from any of them and had no attachment to them.

Next there is the magazine recipe collection to sort through....the Bon Appetit, the Taste of Home, the Food Network.

Not right now though.  I'm ready for a cup of tea!

Happy Cooking, Happy Infusions,



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Curds on the Way...

On our way home from Grants Pass, Oregon we decided to gas up our truck in Central Point.  We spotted a sign advertising the  "Rogue Creamery".  We had a little free time and since we delight in off road excursions when we travel, we drove in the direction we thought the creamery must be.  After two miles and no creamery,  we stopped a bicyclist and ask directions.  She mentioned that it was a small stone building, not fancy, but assured us "the company wins all kinds of awards for their cheeses".  After turning around, driving back the way we came and making an important turn (we missed the first time).....

We spotted the sidewalk sign and pulled into the parking lot......


A cement trough filled with spring flowers graced the front entry.....


We were greeted warmly and introduced to the historic cheese shop.  Not only does this store carry artisan cheeses, but also local wines and craft beers.

We tasted cheeses; blue cheeses, cheddar cheeses and curds.  A representative from the Longsword Vineyard, pouring for the day, offered us a taste of Sparkling Chardonnay. This is a delicious light wine we sipped while perusing the gift shop.

We purchased several cheeses and a bottle of the Sparkling Chardonnay.  This was my first time to taste cheese curds and I wondered what you might do with them.  The helpful personnel made a number of suggestions.  I noticed they sold a batter mix to make fried curds.  I purchased a bag of curds vowing to find recipes for them.


After we were home, I researched cheese curds.  Cheddar cheese curds are small chunks of cheese solids which form in the cheese making process.  The remaining liquid is called the whey, a watery, thin liquid. I learned cheese curds have a two to three week shelf life, however, fresh curds can be frozen for up to four months. Cheddar cheese curds are similar to fresh Mozzarella in taste and texture. Fried Cheese Curds are a staple at the Minnesota Wisconsin  and several Mid-Western State Fairs.....now who would have guessed?  I found several recipes and decided to try a couple.

Cheese curds should be at room temperature before being battered and fried.....


Minnesota State Fair Recipe for Fried Cheese Curds....


1                   pound of fresh cheddar cheese curds

1                   egg, beaten

1/4 cup          milk

1/2 cup          flour

1 tsp              baking powder

1 tsp              salt

Enough oil to either deep fry or you can fry with a little olive oil and not deep fry.

Beat egg, add milk and stir.   Add baking powder, salt and flour.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  Drop the cheese curds in and mix gently until all are completely covered with batter.  Heat oil in skillet or deep fryer.  ( I use my wonderful trusty cast iron skillet).  Working in small batches, being careful the battered curds do not touch,  drop the curds into heated oil.  Flip only once.  Fry until a golden color. (Approximately one minute). Drain on paper towel if desired.  Eat while hot/warm.  These are tasty...reminded me a bit of Mozzarella sticks.


This next recipe is a bit unusual, but tasty and a little different.  I am especially fond of Hungarian Paprika, so that is what I used.

Beer Batter For Fried Cheese Curds

1            cup flour

2 tbls      garlic powder

2 tbls      paprika

2 tsp       salt

2 tsp       pepper

1            egg

1            12 ounce can/bottle beer

Enough oil to deep fry or you can fry with a little olive oil and not deep fry.

Combine flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt,and pepper. Stir egg into dry ingredients. Gradually mix in beer until a batter is formed.

Drop in cheese curds and thoroughly coat with batter.    Heat oil in skillet.  ( I use my trusty cast iron skillet).  Fry the coated curds approximately one minute, until golden brown.  Be sure to keep them separated so they are not touching.  Drain on a paper towel and serve hot/warm.  These are really good with beer!


If you drive on Highway 5 into Oregon, be sure to make a stop in Central Point.  Visit the wonderful Rogue Creamery.  On the same side of the street there is also the famous Lillie Belle Farms Chocolate Shop  ( I'll talk about this in another blog) and a great little Wine Tasting shop !


Happy Excursions.....Happy Curds on the Way..... and Happy Infusions,



Friday, April 2, 2010

Bananas in Brown Sugar Sauce

Recalling the advice of my dear Homemaking teacher, Mrs. Whalen, I decided to try the recipe before making it for guests.

Fortunately, I even decided this two days in advance, and not the day before.  When I retrieved the brown sugar from my pantry, the jar was filled with rock hard lumps!


I had heard putting a piece of bread in an airtight container with hard brown sugar would soften it overnight.

We only had whole wheat bread.  I carefully laid a piece on top and looked for recipes without brown sugar.


I didn't really believe it would work by the next day. Since I had "read" that this was a guaranteed method, I presumed it would eventually soften the brown sugar.

The next day, it was perfect...not one lump!


I proceeded to make my....


Bananas in Brown Sugar Sauce for Two

1   teaspoon         butter ( I used a little more)

1/2 teaspoon         canola/vegetable oil

2   tablespoons      brown sugar ( no lumps)

1   teaspoon         lime juice

2   tablespoons      dark rum (optional)

1/8 teaspoon         ground cinnamon

Sprinkle             nutmeg and ginger (optional)

2                    small bananas (quartered or sliced)

Scoops of..........Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

Heat butter and oil, add brown sugar and heat until it bubbles. Add rum, if desired, lime juice and spices.  Cook slowly until it thickens slightly.  Add bananas and cook until heat until tender.

Divide for two and ladle over a scoop or two of ice cream or frozen yogurt.

This is lovely and tasty !  I have made it with the rum and without, delicious either way.  It is very rich and a little goes a long way!

I had a cup of Spiced Pear black tea with this.


Happy Infusions,