Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monet's Luncheon on the Grass
"Luncheon on the Grass", Claude Monet 1865, oil on canvas The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow Russia.

It is almost picnic time! If we can get the sun to come out and the ground to dry up a bit, we can pull out the picnic basket and the blanket and head to the vineyard for a lazy afternoon in the vines! As you can tell, in the 1860s, picnics were not the casual affairs they are now! Monet painted this after making many sketches outdoors with his friends. In his studio, he painted this large canvas as a study for an even larger one (460 x 600 cm !).

Being the "foodie" that I am, I really had to find out what food is there on the cloth! It turns out, there are platters of pâtés, grapes and roasted game birds. That is when the idea struck me! I am going to hold a Monet's Luncheon on the Grass! I will recreate his menu and invite friends to join me at the vineyard for an afternoon of art, wine and game birds.Such fun! Now I just have to pick a time....I was just looking at my calendar this morning and feeling great relief because I don't have much on my calendar for the month of May. I guess I am going to commit myself to another event. Oh well, no rest for the wicked.

Speaking of Roasted Game Birds, I googled just that and this is what popped up from Food.
The birds, be they doves, larks, or smaller creatures, should never be gutted (modern cooks do clean them). Before spitting them, prepare them as follows: fold their wings over their backs, so each can hold one or two leaves of sage. Cut the feet off at the ankles and cross the legs, passing one knee over the other and hooking the bones through the tendons to keep them in place, and insert another leaf of sage in the hollow thus formed. Wrap the breasts of the birds with paper-thin salted slices of lard. Now spit them, putting the larger ones in the middle of the spit, and separating them with half inch thick slices of day old bread. Cook the birds over hot coals, and, if you haven't stuck their beaks into their sternums, begin by keeping them head down so that their necks will stiffen and their heads won't bob. Baste them once, when they begin to brown, using a brush or feather so as to avoid basting the bread, which will be seasoned enough by its contact with the lard. Salt them just once. Set the birds on the fire just before you'll want them, since they will cook quickly, and if they're done too soon they may well dry out. Slide them from the spit directly onto the platter, because they look more impressive when they're all lined up.

I get Kyle Phillips blog everyday, and this is the first time I have decided to go with my own recipe instead of his!

I promise, no beaks stuck into their sternums! No bobbing heads! Oh, and no one needs to dress as they did in 1865! Leave the long dresses and petticoats, the coat and ties at home. My Monet picnic will be casual! More like Luncheon of the Boating Party (1881, French: Le déjeuner des canotiers) a painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It is currently housed in the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.
At least the men have figured out how to be casual....but look at the ladies! Buttoned up to their chins in ruffles and bows! What do you want to bet some man wrote a book on how women shoud dress! Good Grief! Not me! But they do have lots of wine on the table, fruit and cheese and bread....okay, it could have been a good afternoon!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Cookbooks
In my office I have bookcases filled with cookbooks. In my basement I have many boxes filled with cookbooks. In my living room I have a bookcase, half filled with cookbooks…the other half? Travel and Art Books. of course.... In my computer I have a software called MasterCook, in which I have entered many new cookbooks, such as“Monday Night at Mimi’s” the “Johnston Family Cookbook”, and the “Ogg Family Cookbook”, “Kay’s Italian, North and South”

…..on and on and on! I can’t seem to control myself when I see a new cookbook. Some women have to have shoes, lots and lots of shoes. I have to have lots and lots of cookbooks!
Several weeks ago, Judy Witts Francini was here in the United States, making appearances to talk about her new cookbook. I, of course, NEEDED one immediately, and am I glad I bought one! It is such a delightful book! Judy actually had a font made of her own handwriting so it looks like she wrote each page by hand.
Judy has such incredible knowledge about the foods of Italy, particularly of Tuscany, where she lives with her husband, Andrea, in a small village outside of Florence. Judy was our guide while I was in Sicily, and my translator, since I don’t speak any Italian other than cookbook and menu Italian! You realize immediately when you meet Judy, she is full of energy and loves life in Italy!
Secrets from my Tuscan Kitchen has 93 of Judy’s favorite recipes, and she says they have her Italian Husband’s Seal of Approval! Judy learned how to be a good Italian cook from Andrea’s mother. She told Judy the secret of being a great Tuscan cook is to “Spend more time shopping and less time cooking.” By following these wonderful recipes, you can prepare simple food at home from quality local ingredients. Learn from Judy how to make the most of regional and seasonal produce. Learn to create great Tuscan dishes from the bounty of your countryside. Secrets from My Tuscan Kitchen shows you an insider's view of Italian cooking and a way of life that you can create in your home.
I, of course, could hardly wait to try some of the recipes. So far, I have prepared the Crostini di Fegatini (Chicken Liver Toasts) that I used some of my capers I carried home from Sicily! It was fabulous! And the Pesce Finto (Fake Fish) was fun! It calls for canned tuna, and I am a huge fan of Italian canned Tuna. Sure, it runs about $8.00 a can, but compared to American canned tuna…it is worth every dime! Big firm, healthy chunks of great tuna in good olive oil! I also used her recipe for Tonno e Fagioli (Tuna and White Bean Salad) last week for my Artist’s Picnic lunch at the vineyard. Delicious.

I was fascinated with her recipe for Meatloaf! In Italian it is called Polpettone. Her recipe is from the year 1519! Before tomatoes had arrived in Italy..It was delicious! I also loved her Involtini,(Beef Rolls). As part of our trip to Sicily, we participated in a hands on cooking demonstration that turned out to be our lunch. We prepared Involtini and they were good, but not as good as Judy’s.
I also brought home a few pounds of Almond flour from Sicily and was thrilled to find a recipe for Ricciarelli (Almond cookies) which I devoured all over Sicily. We even had them on our pillows at night when we would drag our tired bodies to our rooms! They are wonderful. Now, I am using my Almond flour.
Judy Witts Francini is a reader of my blog, as I am her’s, Over a Tuscan Stove. Go to I want to thank Judy for such a great addition to my collection. I should have gotten several, this one is going to have lots of food stains, olive oil, etc. all over it. This cookbook won't be in the bookcase in the will be in my kitchen!

Speaking of cookbooks........

A few weeks ago I mentioned I had been approached by a large organization to teach a class on How to Write Your Family Cookbook. I could not see me teaching a class for 75 senior citizens. I'm too old for that! Not enough patience for that many people!

I spoke to Beck Pashia of ARTichokes in Mission Farms about the class and she said they would like for me to teach the class at the Gallery. I won't be available to teach until July or beyond due to my schedule at the vineyard, Art in the Vines, and traveling, but it is in the works! I think it will be great fun and an opportunity for people to gather up their mother's and grandmother's recipes and compile them in a book that can be left to their children and grandchildren. So many of us have baskets and boxes of recipes we have handwritten or clipped from magazines, etc. Now here is the chance to organize them. I think one of the most exciting things about this cookbook is printing your Mother's recipes written in her handwriting just as they are! Future generations will see their great great grandmother's own handwriting as well as eating foods she cooked!

I'll keep you informed of thew schedule for this class. In the meantime, go to and check out the class schedule for May. It has been posted along with a slide show of some of the work hanging at the gallery now. And don't forget Friday evenings at ARTichokes. Open studio for painting, sometimes there is live music, always nibbles furnished by the wonderful staff, and a glass of wine!

Okay, today’s recipe.

Since I went on about Italian Canned Tuna, here is a recipe using tuna. Hope you enjoy it. Remember, you can always find the Italian tuna at Whole Foods and Dean and Deluca

Cannelloni with Tuna serves 4 to 6
¼ cup butter
½ cup flour
About 3 ¾ cups hot milk
2 7oz cans Italian tuna in olive oil
1 cup grated Fontina Cheese
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
12 cannelloni tubes
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh herbs, to garnish

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, add the flour and stir over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add 1 ½ cups of the hot milk, beating vigorously after each addition. Return the pan to the heat and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sauce is very thick and smooth. Remove from heat.
Mix the drained tuna with about ½ cup of the warm white sauce in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Gradually whisk the remaining milk into the rest of the sauce, then return to the heat and simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened. Add the grated Fontina and nutmeg, with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer a few more minutes, stirring frequently. Pour about 1/3 of the sauce into a baking dish and spread to corners.
Fill the uncooked cannelloni tubes with the tuna mixture, pushing it in with the handle of a spoon. Place the cannelloni in a single layer in the dish. Thin the remaining sauce with a little more milk if necessary, then pour it over the cannelloni. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Serve hot, garnished with fresh herbs.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Art in the Vines

Artist's picnic at the vineyard

I can’t believe an entire week has slipped by since I blogged last! I had such a busy week I hardly had time to think. Last Wednesday I held a picnic of sorts for some of the artists that will be participating in the Art in the Vines Show to be held June 13th at Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery. I personally had a grand time! When they arrived, Dennis, the owner and winemaker, led them through a wine tasting, introducing them to the wines of Somerset. With a glass of their favorite in hand, we went out to the veranda for a lunch of Italian meats and cheeses, including several types of salami, Mortadella (the most famous of all sausages from Bologna; made of pork, it has a wonderfully smooth texture, and luscious pale pink color, studded with cubes of creamy white fat and pale green pistachios. This is the original Bologna!); a Cannellini Bean salad with Italian Tuna; A fresh Spinach Salad with Oranges and Olives; Assorted Roasted and Fresh Vegetables, a basket of European Breads; Homemade Ricotta Cheese with either local Honey or Sicilian Olive Oil; and for dessert, a beautiful Strawberry Cake from the Three Women and an Oven Bakery! And of course, plenty of Somerset Ridge Vineyard”s delicious wines!
By the time we finished eating and talking about our upcoming show, someone looked at their watch and it was after 3:00pm. Those that didn’t have to rush back in for a meeting or appointment joined me in the vineyard to enjoy our beautiful view and to see where I envisioned hanging the art.
I have a feeling this is going to be a successful as well as fun art show! I’ve been calling it “The First Annual Art in the Vines” and I am pretty sure there is going to be a Second, Third, Fourth……
When we loaded up our cars and headed for home, we took a slight detour and stopped to take photos of old barns and some cows! Artists are such fun!

Mark you calendar NOW! June 13th!
Somerset Ridge Vineyard’s
First Annual Art in the Vines!

Guess who came for dinner last night? LOUIE!

Okay, the rest of my family came for dinner, but it was Louie who came to visit!

I've been trying to decide which recipe(s) to send out to you today. There are so many thousands of them that are on my list of favorites! Then I remembered Mother's Day. I decided this recipe would be a good one for someone to make for Mom first thing that morning. Watch her smile!

Souffle Omelette ...this recipe is neither a souffle nor an omelette, but it's light like a souffle and satisfying like an omlette...And delicious! It can be prepared as a savory dish or as a dessert!

6 large eggs
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme or basil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup crumbled Gorganzola Cheese (or grated Cheddar if Mom
Doesn’t care for Blue cheese)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.. Carefully separate the eggs. Beat the yolks until well mixed and pale yellow. Separately beat the whites until they are stiff peaks. Quickly fold in the yolks, herbs, salt and pepper.
Heat the butter in an ovenproof 10” non-stick skillet until it is foaming. Add the egg mixture. Cook over medium heat for 45 to 60 seconds to brown the bottom. Do not stir.
Put the pan in the oven and bake until the top is set, about 5 minutes.
Slide the omlette onto a serving platter and sprinkle the cheese on top. Serve immediately! A little medium rare breakfast steak is so perfect with the blue cheese! A wedge of cantaloupe or maybe some sautéed cherry tomatoes with more of the thyme or basil sprinkled over them would be a delicious addition as well as colorful!

If you would rather make a sweet fruit Omelette, substitute 2 tablespoons of sugar for the herbs, salt and pepper. Top half of the omelette with ½ cup melted raspberry or strawberry jam or ½ cup sliced strawberries. Slide halfway out of pan onto the plate, then fold over. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. I’d serve this version with a few strips of bacon or a grilled slice of country ham!
Take good care of MOM!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Paula Deen and Michael Groover

What a great evening I had last night! Thanks to my dear friends, George and Inge Richter, I attended the sold out event with Paula Deen! Not only did they invite me, but I had a FRONT ROW SEAT! I was maybe 6 feet from Paula and Michael for the entire evening. My sister-in-law, Vicki Johnston, went with me. I met her and my brother, Tom Johnston, at McCormick and Schmidt’s for appetizers and wine before the show, then Tom went home and Vicki and I walked over to the Unity Temple for the show. There we met up with Christina Richter, the Richter's daughter, and her friends

Paula was definitely Paula! Cute as can be and much thinner than she looks on tv! The biggest surprise for me was Michael, Paula’s husband. He was a HOOT! Such a great sense of humor! So often when there is a strong, outgoing person, the spouse is rather quiet and shy. Not Michael! He was a delight.
Paula did not cook, this was a question and answer program, designed to introduce her newest book. The questions were equally split between cooking questions and questions on her family.
One of the questions from the audience was “Have you ever substituted applesauce for butter in your recipes?” Michael was rolling on the floor with laughter! The audience laughed until we had tears rolling down our cheeks! When the crowd quieted down, Paula leaned in close to the microphone and said “NO!” The audience again erupted in laughter.
A rather serious Paula went on to explain “I am a cook, not your doctor. You need to make that decision for yourself; it is not up to me to do it for you.” She got a big applause for that!
When asked about Giada de Laurentiis, Paula told of a dinner she was attending with the other Food Network chefs. She said “I looked over and Giada wasn’t eatin’, so I said to her ‘You little heifer, you ain’t eatin’! And she said ‘I ate two bites of each’. Can you imagine! Sorry, but that ain’t eatin!”
When asked what her favorite food was to cook, she explained it changes constantly, depending on who she is cooking for. Each of her loved ones has a favorite food, and when she cooks for them, that is her favorite thing to cook.
When asked who she would love to cook a meal for and what would she cook, she explained it would be chicken and dumplings for her Daddy, who past away when he was only 40. His favorite food was his mother’s chicken and dumplings, so Paula, as a young girl, begged her grandmother to teach her how to make them, just in case it was just a bad joke and her Daddy was coming back someday.
At the end of the evening, there was a drawing for a beautiful big basket full of Paula Deen items. The name pulled from the hat was Amy Thomas! Amy is one of the artists participating in the Art in the Vines project at Somerset Ridge Vineyard on June 13th. She is a jewelry designer, Warrior Wear Jewels in Bonner Springs, and was wearing one of her beautiful necklaces.
Didn’t I get some great photos….see what front row seats can do for you! Thank you George and Inge, Thank you Smithfield Foods!

Chicken and Dumplings
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

4 to 6 servings

1 (2 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery or cream of chicken soup
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Ice water
To start the chicken: Place the chicken, celery, onion, bay leaves, bouillon, and House Seasoning in a large pot. Add 4 quarts of water and in water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer the chicken until it is tender and the thigh juices run clear, about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and, when it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and separate the meat from the bones. Return the chicken meat to the pot. Keep warm over low heat.
To prepare the dumplings: Mix the flour with the salt and mound together in a mixing bowl. Beginning at the center of the mound, drizzle a small amount of ice water over the flour. Using your fingers, and moving from the center to the sides of the bowl, gradually incorporate about 3/4 cup of ice water. Knead the dough and form it into ball.
Dust a good amount of flour onto a clean work surface. Roll out the dough (it will be firm), working from center to 1/8-inch thick. Let the dough relax for several minutes.
Add the cream of celery soup to the pot with the chicken and simmer gently over medium-low heat.
Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Pull a piece in half and drop the halves into the simmering soup. Repeat. Do not stir the chicken once the dumplings have been added. Gently move the pot in a circular motion so the dumplings become submerged and cook evenly. Cook until the dumplings float and are no longer doughy, 3 to 4 minutes.
To serve, ladle chicken, gravy, and dumplings into warm bowls.
Cook's Note: If the chicken stew is too thin it can be thickened before the dumplings are added. Simply mix together 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water then whisk this mixture into the stew.
House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I just reviewed a cookbook by Evelyn Birkby, Up A Country Lane. It makes me wish I was in my grandmother’s kitchen , standing beside her, making a pie! I have had comments from quite a few of you about my memories of the Ogg Family Farm, so I know many of you are as enamored with the country life as I am. Family history is so important to us as Americans. Our lives and our country are changing so quickly, and not necessarily in a good way. We need to stick to our roots, and mine are in the kitchens of my Grandmothers, Ann Baker Robnett Johnston and Minnie Florence Joiner Ogg. There are days I pick up the remote, turn off the news and grab a photo album and my laptop. I let myself be whisked away to the past. It was soooooo much better in so many ways!

Life in Boone County, Mo and Ray County, Mo in the mid 1800s to mid 1900s must have been hard but fulfilling. When I arrived on the scene in 1941, the world was about to make some major changes in industry, science, and government….not that my arrival had anything to do with it! But no matter how much things changed in the world, my grandmother’s daily chores didn’t change all that much. In Evelyn Birkby’s cookbook, life on the farm is described, so closely, to my mother’s stories of the Ogg farm.
I was interested in the chapter describing the beef clubs. When a hog was slaughtered, the smoke house was filled and the meat was preserved. However, when a steer was butchered, there was way too much meat for one family to consume before the meat spoiled. Remember, there was no refrigeration yet. So, the area farmers set up beef clubs. A schedule was developed so one farmer would butcher a steer, the meat was divided among the club’s members, and the meat was consumed over the next few weeks. When it was almost gone, the next farmer on the schedule butchered one of his steers and the meat was again distributed. This way, everyone had fresh meat all year long.
I asked Mom about a club, but she had no memory of one. She does remember having steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it could be there wasn’t a beef club in Ray County, Missouri! I asked her how Grandmother cooked them and she replied “Fried!” and then added “with eggs and biscuits! And then there was her Salt Rising Bread!” I think Mom had a very strong food memory! She also talked about the Beef Roasts that Grandmother fixed. There is nothing like fresh cut beef I have started going to Steve’s Meat Market in DeSota, Kansas for beef. Their ground beef is the best in the world! Don’t ever buy ground beef at the grocery store…go to Steve’s and watch them grind it and take home a couple of pounds. Shape into big fat burgers and throw them on the grill.
You won’t be disappointed! And their Roasts! It is a short drive to DeSota from Kansas City, about half way to Lawrence. Wherever you are, hopefully there is a true, oldtime butcher shop.
Find it and become their new best friend!
Now, for recipes…I think I should stick with beef….maybe my all time favorite cut..the majestic Porterhouse Steak!

Grilled Steaks with Basil-Garlic Bread
4 Porterhouse steaks, cut 1 inch thick
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 loaf Italian bread
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Combine oil, basil and garlic powder; reserve.

2. Place beef steaks on grid over medium coals. Grill steaks 10 to 17 minutes for rare (140ºF) to medium (160ºF), turning once.
3. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Meanwhile cut bread in half lengthwise; brush 1 1/2 tablespoons basil mixture evenly on cut side of bread.

4. About five minutes before steaks are done, place bread, cut-side down, on grid with steaks; grill 2 to 3 minutes. Turn bread; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

5. Continue grilling 1 to 3 minutes or until bread is golden brown

6. Cut bread diagonally into slices. Carve steaks into thick slices.

7. Serve with bread
To serve with this delicious steak, try this recipe from Birkby's cookbook. My Dad loved wilted lettuce. I think it is that bacon thing! This recipe is exactly the way my Grandmother Johnston used to make it. When spring arrived and leaf lettuce was growing like wildfire, she made lots of Wilted Lettuce!
Wilted Greens
6 slices bacon (I say Farmland, of course!)
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons water
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups washed and dried lettuce leaves or spinach leaves
Fry the bacon until crispy. Remove from skillet and set aside.
In the bacon drippings in skillet, saute the diced onion until golden. Add honey, vinegar, and water. When hot, puor over the greens, toss lightly, crumble bacon over top, season with salt and pepper.
I'll be writing more about the Ogg Family Farm. I'm neck deep in the history of the house, the layout of the farm, the animals on the farm...and of course, Grandmother Ogg's and Granny Sampson's recipes. ...........Until next time.....

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'm re-living the 1950s!

It was on television last night! What a story!….A scruffy, dirty mountain man goes into town and chooses a poor, unmarried girl to take as a wife! He then takes her up into wooded mountains where he has his falling-down filthy cabin. The young girl is there to cook, clean, etc. for this mountain man….and his brothers. The boys were also dirty and scruffy, raised like animals, had absolutely no manners.
The young wife is shocked, but there is no way out, so she cleans, cooks, does laundry. The young brothers of her “husband” all decide they to would like to have a “wife” to wait on them. When winter arrived, the thought of having a warm body to sleep with is more than they can ignore, so they sneak into town under the cover of darkness and kidnap young girls to bring back to the mountains.
Now here is the kicker….all the young girls fall in love with their mountain men! Not only that…they all suddenly know how to sing and dance! Yes, last night I watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers! I hadn’t seen it for years!
The tag line was: LUSTY, MIRTHFUL GIRL-STEALING MUSICAL! . . . with Seven Great Songs!
The Plot:
In 1850 Oregon, when a backwoodsman brings a wife home to his farm, his six brothers decide that they want to get married too.
Movies, particularly the musicals, of the 50s were so much fun. There are those that poo-poo the whole musical thing as being phony, of course, they are the same ones who live to play violent video games. Now that is reality for you! Oh well, it takes all kinds to make the world go around. My type likes old musicals! Give me Jane Powell, Howard Keel, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller....there were so many great stars with such great voices! I must be getting terribly old....I'm longing for the good old days!

Food was fun in the 50s, but certainly lacking the variety we have today. Here is a recipe from the 50s that may have missed your attention....maybe you would rather it skip you again! A little history for you.....

1933 - Twinkies were introduced by The Continental Baking Company in Indianapolis, which also made "Wonder Bread" and had a snack line your probably familiar with called Hostess. One of their bakers named James A. Dewar got the idea for the "Twinkie" while he delivered one of their products, a cream filled strawberry shortcake. The machines to make these sat idle when the strawberry season was over so he came up with an idea to use them to make a snack cake filled with a banana filling, and only charge a nickel for a package of 2. It was good idea as money was tight for people during the great depression.

Then in the 50s someone created this!.............................

Undescended Twinkies Servings: 4

6 oz Orange Jell-O (2 pkgs)

1 c Boiling Water

1/2 c Pineapple Juice

1 qt Vanilla Ice Cream; Softened

7 oz 7-Up

8 ea Twinkies

Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Add pineapple juice, ice cream and 7-Up. Mix thoroughly (In a blender if necessary to dissolve ice cream), and pour into a deep pan, approximately 9-inches square. Chill until mixture begins to set. Lay Twinkies, flat side down, in two rows of four across the top of the chilled gelatin. If the gelatin is properly chilled, it will resist the Twinkies. You will push them in and they will slowly rise. Remember you don't want them buried. Just semi-decended in the ooze. (Don't you just love the word "ooze" when it is used un a recipe!)Chill until fully set and serve.

I'm thinking my 2 daughters and my daughter -in-law are all taking an oath that if I ever fix
this for my grandchildren, they will band together and and throw Mama from the train!

So, if you try the recipe for Undescended Twinkies, let me know what you think!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Have you ever had those days where you just can't make any progress? Feels like you just can't get your feet on the ground and moving in the right direction? Well, I have had several lately!

The old laptop computer is shot. Sad, but true!.And I am afraid this desktop computer may be following it down the same path! I have ordered a new laptop, should have it in a week or two. In the meantime, I will continue with my cookbooks and blog until the new one is delivered. Then my next issue will I smart enough to transfer files from old to new....answer...NO! I have a great young man, Andrew, who does all that stuff for me. Luckily, 2 years ago Andrew convinced me to sign on to Mozy, a service that stores and protects your files, off site, so when some disaster happens (and they do!) you still have all your stuff! Yeah Andrew! Now I just need to get organized!

Speaking of getting organized, yesterday Monique was here to help me. While I entered dozens of recipes into the Wyandotte High School Class of 1959, 50th Reunion Cookbook, Monique cleaned the winter crud out of my garage, cleaned out the grandchildren's toy box, cleaned the bathrooms, made my bed and scrubbed the hard wood floors!

So you see, if it weren't for Andrew and Monique, I would never get anything done!

I am about to embark on another cookbook adventure! This one is going to be amazing. Can't tell you much about it yet, but picture a cookbook about the Mother of a famous Kansas City chef. It will be full of truly authentic Italian recipes and great family stories, told to me by Mom herself!

I've really been involved with ethnic cooking for months now. Between the cookbook for my class reunion, featuring Kansas City Kansas history and recipes handed down for many generations; traveling back to Italy and Sicily for more education and inspiration; and of course, my genealogy research, I have become more determined to get it all down on paper. This blog is proof that I don't live in the past, but I certainly want those that follow to know what was important to me.

I am afraid there is no one in my family who has the desire to track our family's genealogy and to see to it that future generations know where they came from. But, if I can leave a written history as far as I can trace it, maybe some future great grandchild of mine will have the same desire I have. This latest computer mess proved to me, yet again, how important backing up files, off site, truly is. I will get my new computer set up, transfer files into it, then my next project will be making cds of the family history I have so far, and getting them to my kids for safe keeping. Hopefully they will pass them on! As soon as I determine I have reached the end of my research, I will print out hand made books for each of them also. My son, Chuck, already has the first book, if you want to call a 3 ring notebook a "book", with my up to date genealogy. I am sure that all I am doing is driving them nuts with my obsession, but what the heck, they have spent enough time with me as their mother that they should be able to handle it!

My sister, Ann and I have printed 2 family cookbooks so far. One from my Dad's side of the family, The Recipes of Ann Baker Robnett Johnston and her Descendants; and for my Mom's side of the family, The Ogg Family Cookbook. They are full of recipes and family photos, just as a family cookbook should be.

I have been asked to teach a class on writing a family cookbook, and I am seriously considering d it. I am not all that excited about a large community project, so I may look for a smaller venue., some place where I would have maybe 8 or 10 in the class. It could be a fun class, mostly recipes and cooking, some designing, working with family photos. Writing skills won't be stressed, but then, this is a family cookbook, not a Pulitzer Prize Book! Could be fun....I need to work on it!

Do you have a favorite old family recipe you would like to share with me? Send it and the story behind the recipe to me at Thank you, I'd love to read them!
Who knows, my next blog might include your recipe!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Learning from my cookbooks!

I admire people who can speak several languages…how lucky those children are that grow up using two or more language because their parents speak them at home! I am, unfortunately, a one language girl. I took French in high school, back in the dark ages, but I don’t remember much. My language skills have developed slightly over the last 40 years because I know “cookbook” Italian and French and a little German. But, don’t expect me to carry on a conversation!
Let me give you an example of what you can learn about speaking Italian from a cookbook…… may come in handy in a restaurant.

Alla Genovese: In the style of Genoa, which means "with basil, garlic and oil."
Alla Bolognese: Means in the style of Bologna, and usually refers to a slow-cooked meat sauce with vegetables and tomato
Alla Caprese: In the style of Capri, meaning made with tomato, basil, olive oil and mozzarella cheese.
Arrabbiata: A tomato sauce flavored with chili to make it spicy
Arista: Loin of pork
Agrodolce: Sweet and sour
Burro: Butter
Brodo: Soup
Bistecca: Steak, usually beef
Crema Pasticcera: Pastry cream, a thickened cream of milk and egg used in desserts.
Crostata: Flat, open-face tart, sweet or savory.
Frutti di Mare: Seafood.

That takes us through the first few letters in the alphabet, but I want to stop here and share a few recipes with you. The first one is so good, and I have made it with other vegetables, so experiment. Just make sure your frutti di mare is fresh! This recipe calls for small clams, or vongole in Italian. Sure, you can toss in a can of baby clams at the end, but the fresh clams make it so much nicer!

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Clams and Sweet Italian Sausage
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds loose sweet Italian sausage, shaped into mini-meatballs, I use Jasper’s
4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes, or to taste
Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh thyme
30 small clams, cleaned and scrubbed
2 cups Somerset Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay
1 pound orecchiette , a small pasta, shaped like an ear
Sea salt to taste
2 small bunches broccoli rabe, stems removed
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Set a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil.
Take another large saucepan (big enough to hold clams) and set over medium heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and loose pork sausage. Cook over medium heat to render fat and get color on the sausage. Once the sausage is browned on all sides, remove and place onto a paper towel-lined plate. To the same pan, add the chopped garlic, red chili flakes and thyme leaves and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn up the heat, dump in the cleaned and scrubbed clams and white wine. Cover with a lid and steam for about 10 minutes until the clams open.
While clams are steaming, cook the pasta. Add orecchiette to boiling water and cook. With about 3 minutes left, add the broccoli rabe to the same pot and cook until tender. Drain pasta and broccoli and place into the saucepan with the browned sausage. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and stir to combine. Place into a large serving bowl.
Now return to the clams. Remove the lid and add the cubes of cold butter and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil as you stir. Once the sauce thickens slightly give it a final seasoning with pepper and a little salt (go easy on the salt) then take the whole pan and pour on top of the orecchiette and broccoli rabe. Shower with fresh Parmesan and parsley.

and for dessert......

Nectarines and Berries in Somerset Ridge Vineyard Ambrosia Dessert Wine

serves 6 to 8

1 pound nectarines, pitted and cut into 1/4" thick slices

1 quart strawberries, hulled, sliced 1/4"thick

1/2 pint raspberries

1/2 pint blackberries

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier

zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 cups chilled Ambrosia Dessert Wine from Somerset Ridge Vineyard

Place the prepared fruit, sugar, Grand Marnier and lemon zet in a large serving bowl. Toss well

and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Just before serving, pour the wine over the fruit. Tast for sweetness and adjust if necessary. Serve immediately.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Somerset Ridge Vineyard has a party to release 2 new wines!

The Wine Release Party was a BIG HIT! There was one slight lull in traffic that lasted about 12 minutes, giving everyone just enough time to grab a sip of water, use the restroom, and then get back to the tasting room! I saw so many friends come through, which is one of the reasons I love working at the vineyard.
We had some side attractions going on at the same time. The family with the rooster, the chickens and the eggs came. The rooster strutted around, crowed every now and then, and was so handsome! The little hen that lays green eggs was also there, but a little on the shy side, but the many children that came to the vineyard with their parents were thrilled to see both of them! They got to feed them cracked corn and they followed them around the hillside.

Another thing going on at the vineyard was a plant sale. Gorgeous flowers, beautiful rich colors….such a great sight in the spring sunshine! We also had families bring picnic lunches and wandered into the vineyard to sit on the hillside and enjoy lunch with a bottle of wine! Perfect weather for a great day outside.

The menu of appetizers was pretty darned good! Cindy made a sautéed mushroom sauce with Cabernet Franc and served it on Pumpernickel bread. The new chef from Casa Somerset, the neighboring Bed and Breakfast owned by Mike and Christine Hursey, sent over delicious Flank Steak Rouladen, filled with a light bread stuffing dotted with golden raisins and tons of flavor! Delicious!
There was Stilton from England, drizzled with local honey from the little bees who live across the road from the vineyard, served on crackers. Wonderful plump strawberries, delicious Brownies cut into small squares, and big juicy grapes. No one went hungry!
Now for the reason of the party…the new wines! I know he is my son-in-law and the father to 2 of my grandchildren, but I have to say the man is a genius! He has produced some great wines from day one, but his last 4 have been outstanding, and that certainly includes the new Cabernet Franc and the Cuvee Rouge. As I wandered through the crowd, feeding people(!), I heard some rave reviews on both of the new wines! As I said, he is a wine genius!

Thank you to all of my friends that came out to spend part of their day with me. I loved seeing you and look forward to seeing you again at the vineyard! Bill and Donna….sorry I missed you! We had to have passed each other on the road! Thank you for coming out.

Somerset Ridge Wine Release!

Today is the day! Big release party at Somerset Ridge Vineyard, , and it is going to be a beautiful day! I will be there with recipes for you to try at home with the new Somerset Ridge Vineyard's Buffalo Rib Eye Steaks with Roasted Garlic...a steak you will remember for the rest of your life!

Check out the vineyard's web page for driving directions, in case you've never been there before. It is quite a destination! Bring a picnic lunch with you if you want to! Buy a bottle of your favorite wine and we will see that you are set up on the veranda for a great afternoon!
Hope to see you there!
I went to ARTichokes yesterday for a few hours of painting, and then returned last evening for a few more! What a great way to spend my time....being creative can be a delight and a challenge at the same time! Yesterday was a little of both, but so much fun! Friday nights at ARTichokes are always interesting. There is always a variety of painters, ranging from 1st time painters all the way to pros. Always plenty to look at, lots to see. Kristin Goering, an instructor for ARTichokes, was there last night to greet the painters and sometimes she actually paints. She works in acrylics, wonderful colors! Kristin will be joining us for Art in the Vines at Somerset Ridge Vineyard on Saturday, June 13th. She has promised me a painting of the vineyard! I can hardly wait!
I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter Sunday, surrounded by family and loved ones.
Until next week........

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hi Friends, just letting you know I will be at the vineyard from 1 to 5pm Saturday for this very special release party. I will have recipes for you featuring our new wines. Please join me for this fun event! See you there!

Somerset RidgeVineyard & Winery ...............Great Wines From Kansas!

Reserve Red Release Party This Saturday!
We're having a party and you are invited!
Join us from 11-5 this Saturday, April 11, for the release of our 2006 Cabernet Franc Reserve and our 2007 Cuvee Rouge Reserve.
This is a great opportunity to taste our limited-production reserve reds (we don't normally sample these due to the small amounts available.) Descriptions of these wines are below. We'll also have other treats and activities to enjoy with the wine. The weather is forecast to be beautiful, so we hope to see you!
Our Spring tasting room hours are 11-5 Wed-Sat Noon-5 Sundays.

Cabernet Franc Reserve

We are very excited to announce the release of our 2006 Cabernet Franc Reserve.
We love the Cabernet Franc grape. It is one the great grapes of the Bordeaux region of France. It is actually a parent of Cabernet Sauvignon.Cabernet Franc is also especially well suited to our Kansas hillside vineyard. It is very cold-hardy so it tolerates our winters just fine and it loves our long, sunny growing season. It also develops great character from our limestone-laced soil.
Our 2006 Reserve was made entirely with Cabernet Franc grapes from our oldest vines, planted in 1998. After crush, the grapes were fermented in small open top tanks, then gently pressed and transferred to new American Oak barrels for aging.
The resulting wine is certainly among the best we have ever produced. Very rich and concentrated, yet surprisingly smooth and supple for a young wine. It has the characteristic Cabernet Franc bouquet of violets and flavor of crushed raspberries.Only fifty cases of this special wine were produced. It will be available for sampling and purchase at the tasting room on Saturday. $24.99/bottle.

The second reserve wine we are releasing this Saturday is our 2007 Cuvee Rouge.
This wine is a 50/50 blend of our estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. As with the Cabernet Franc Reserve, only our best grapes were used and the wine was aged in 100% new oak barrels.
The blending of these two noble grapes in equal parts results in a multi-layered, rich yet smooth wine with lots of cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Anyone who has tasted wine from the great Bordeaux estate Cheval Blanc, which uses the same blend, will know what we mean. Only fifty cases of this exceptional wine were produced. $18.99/bottle.
Upcoming Events About Town
April 27 - Wine dinner with Dennis & Cindy at Yia Yia's Eurobistro!
Please join us for a casual wine dinner at the terrific Yia Yia's Eurobistro, located at 119th & Roe. We'll have some great food specially prepared by Yia Yia's chefs to complement the selected Somerset Ridge wines.
We'll be happy to chat about all things wine while we enjoy the meal at this great venue.Only $39/person. This is filling up fast, so call 913-345-1111 to reserve your spot
Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to seeing you in the vineyard!
Dennis & Cindy Reynolds
Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery
phone: 913-491-0038

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hi Everyone, sorry for all of the confusion lately. My blog, A Kansan in the Kitchen, has been impossible for me to get into! I've tried everything I know how to do, but it is still stuck on Saturday, April 4th and will not allow me to post anything new. So, even though this is the same BlogSpot, I am going to try a new one. We will see how long this one lasts! For now, my blog is called Kay's World.
When I think of what this old dog has had to learn in the last couple of years, I am amazed I haven’t been locked in a padded cell! I remember how overwhelmed I was 15 years ago when I got my first cell phone. I think I stopped being amazed when I got my first phone bill! Wow…it was costly then!
Now I have a blog and a facebook page, don’t truly understand the concept of either, but what the heck, the blog is truly a great outlet for me. I get to talk as much as I want, no one interrupts me, I pick the subject, I get to express my views and I get so many wonderful messages from friends!. The jury is still out on facebook, as far as I am concerned. I suppose if I was in front of my computer all day I would use it for instant messaging. I think I can get it on my cell phone….? Maybe?

This week has been very painting, no cooking, no blogging! If this blog gets posted, I'm probably going to blog non-stop for a week! Bear with me, I'll try to limit myself.......