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Author Archives: terismyth

About terismyth

I'm a foodie/pastry chef who loves to cook and bake for others. Avid gardener, hiker, and I can be found sewing baby blankets. Love learning from social media @ business using my education and 20 yrs of experience consulting dental practices.

Secrets to getting more vegies into your diet. 

Let’s Make Mud Pies

Caramelized Cauliflower Soup and Easy Hot Rolls

February is a beautiful time of year. We celebrated Valentines Day last week which is one of my favorite holidays. The weather has been cold and rainy, and it is time for soup. There is nothing like a hot bowl of soup to make my tummy happy. This recipe is perfect for an easy weeknight meal or great to serve for company on a special occasion. In my opinion, cauliflower is an under utilized vegetable. Most people walk right by it because they don’t know what to do with it. This recipe will make you a cauliflower believer too and you will be healthier for eating it.
Who needs bread to go along with soup? I do! Why make the dough from scratch (I have recipes if you want to go through the trouble), when you can make them look and taste like you made them from scratch and your friends and family will never know the difference. It’s hard to believe, but it is true. Read on to find your next favorite best kept secret to making any meal extra special. 


CARMELIZED CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 C unsalted butter
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • ½ bunch thyme, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon fine chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 cups Chardonnay
  • 1 cup Madeira
  • 1 cup veal or beef stock (vegetable stock optional)
  • 2 cups half and half

 

  • 2 T dried potato flakes if needed to thicken
  • 4 crostini (lightly toasted thin slices of French bread)
  • 1 cup grated Fontina or smoked gouda cheese

Directions:

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until almost caramelized, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar and salt over the onions and continue to cook, stirring until they darken. Put the cauliflower on a sheet pan, sprinkle w/ 1T olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until caramelized. Add the thyme and garlic to pot and cook for 5 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients to pot and cook soup on medium heat for 30 minutes.

Ladle soup into ovenproof bowls, top with the crostini and the cheese. Place the bowls under a hot broiler until the cheese is bubbly. Serves 4.

  

Beautiful peppers and tomatoes picked from our garden

Easy Hot Rolls

Buy Bridgeford Loaves (comes in a pkg of three loaves and found in freezer section of most grocery stores). Defrost in refrigerator overnight in covered bag so it does not dry out.

 

Divide roll into 10 pieces with a sharp knife and roll each piece into 4 inch long strips. Take each strip and tie in a knot. Place each knot into a greased (shortening or Pam) muffin tin pan. Brush w/ slightly beaten egg and let rise on counter until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve immediately w/ homemade apricot jam and butter.

 

This is a pic of hot rolls served at  the famous restaurant #Sirandstar on a recent get away weekend http://sirandstar.com/

Enjoy!

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Posted by on February 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The #1 Tip to Bake Your Favorite White Cake With Less Fuss

Yesterday I invited my longtime friend Marie over for a baking day. She wanted to learn how to bake her son Ryan’s favorite vanilla cake. I made one last Fall for his brother Aaron’s engagement par…

Source: The #1 Tip to Bake Your Favorite White Cake With Less Fuss

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Celebrating my Mom and a Risotto Recipe to die for

Celebrating my Mom and a Risotto Recipe to die for

We are getting close to Valentines day, and  I can’t help but share a story about helping my mom find love. Yes. I had tried for years to set her up with patients at my dental office with no luck. I thought about matching her up with a guy from my meditation group, but that didn’t pan out either. For many years my mom was single. My dad and her divorced when I was 14 and neither of them remarried. That is until a few years ago when my mom found love.

This is a pic of my Mom, Tom, Virginia and Keith my mom’s long time friends
Tom was my neighbor. He and I went for walks with our dogs. He would casually stop by with his wife when taking her out for short walks. Tom’s wife suffered from cancer and he would talk to me about food, and how he was caring for Penny. “12 almonds a day” he would tell me. I thought he was a special man since he cared so deeply for his wife.

After she passed away, I would stop by to see how he was doing sometimes offering some oranges from my garden or delivering a book on grieving. Tom was always on the go, choosing vacations to go on back East and entertaining friends and family. It wasn’t until Tom walked by one day while I was gardening that I got the idea to introduce him to my mom. He complained that he missed talking to someone and bouncing ideas off of them like he had with his wife for over 49 years. I gently suggested when he was ready, I would like to introduce him to my mom who was also lonely. She and Tom both loved the same hobbies like gardening and cooking. I thought they would make a great couple.


A few weeks later, it happened. I invited my mom and Tom over for some tea and cookies. They met at the driveway and instantly made a connection. They arrived at my door together and have been together ever since. They married about 2 years later and have been through a lot together since my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma a rare blood disease, but treatable a few weeks after their honeymoon.

My Mom, Tom, sister in law Alyson and the cutest niece ever Josie
Tom is a wonderful man and my family is so grateful for the love he as given to all of us and especially my mother. She has never been happier. Not only do I have a new dad, but my kids have a new grandfather who they look up to for love and guidance. Tom’s family has been a God sent too giving my mom 6 more grand kids to love and care for.

A pic of my mom and dad in their earlier days of marital bliss 1967 

above that a pic of Mom and Tom, Andrew and his friend Mary after a St Mary’s Choir concert 

This is what Valentines Day is all about. I love bringing happiness to others through networking and my food.  I am also the luckiest girl around since I’ve been married to Ken the love of my life for 28 years. Happy Valentines Day Mom and Dad. May your lives be richer because of the love you share.


A friend asked me to share my risotto recipe. Hope you try this and make it for your own valentine this Tuesday.

 

Mushroom Fennel and Leek Risotto

Ingredients:

2 T Extra Virgin Olive oil

2 T Unsalted Butter

2 C Arborio Rice

6 C Veggie or Chicken broth

1 C White Wine(Chardonnay or your fav) Can use champagne also.

1 C Cremini Mushrooms chopped finely

½ C Fennel chopped finely

½ C Leeks chopped finely

2 cloves chopped garlic

¾ C freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

2 T Heavy Cream
Instructions:

Put Oil and Butter into heavy bottom soup pot. I use Le Creuset pan. Place chicken broth or veggie broth on med high heat in an alternate pot. (I make my own from using chicken bones from baked chicken, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, water, ginger, fennel and boil for 1-2 hours. Cool in fridge overnight)

Place Mushrooms, leeks, and fennel into hot oil on med to med high heat until softened.

Add garlic and rice and stir to moisten rice. Cook for 3 minutes. Add white wine, cook and stir until it evaporates. Add chicken broth ½ C at a time and stir rice. Continue to add broth until rice is cooked about 15-20 min. When the rice is no longer toothsome or chewy and is plump and moist add cream and Parmesan cheese. Top with a splash of truffle oil and chopped herbs like parsley from the garden. Serve immediately. Serves 4

Enjoy!

 Teaching Preschool and Making Pumpkin Cake 

Also feel free to post comments for ask questions below. Follow me and share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2017 in Foodie, Mothers, Risotto, Uncategorized, Valentines Day

 

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The One Thing You Must Do When Traveling With Friends

The One Thing You Must Do When Traveling With Friends

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Great pic of President Obama and wife Michelle

Lots has happened since my last blog post. We now have a new president named Donald Trump. Long gone are the days with Obama. I don’t consider myself a political person, nor do I get involved in protests, etc. It seems one cannot get onto social media these days without hearing the latest updates about what is going on in politics.  The country is changing and people don’t like change. Even my book group ladies had different opinions about the presidential pick and his policies during our last adventure to So Cal.

 

 

In January, the five of us traveled to Los Angeles to see a member who moved back east 6 years ago, then more recently to Southern California. I’ve known these women for the past twelve years. We’ve gathered at each other’s homes monthly to discuss the latest and best books one can find. We’ve raised our kids, talked about our parents and genuinely cared for one another through good and bad. We haven’t always agreed on politics, or religion, but that has never mattered. We’ve respected each other’s views and could set aside our differences. A few of the women had definite opinions on Trumps behavior in the oval office. I deliberately choose to “wait and see” and not get worked up over women’s rights, and the rest of the drama that is going  on around us. It stimulates fear and hate and I like to live my life without chaos. Maybe I’m pulling the wool over my eyes and ignoring the news so I can live in harmony. I see what I need to see on Twitter and that’s enough.



We stayed in a cute house in Pasadena where our friend Rachel lives. Rachel took us on a fun 3 hour hike at Chantry Park http://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/sturtevant-falls-trail Hiking So Cal where we took the Gabrielino Trail to the beautiful Sturtevant waterfalls and reveled in the rolling green hills. 


We stayed out late and attended a small concert in Hollywood starring Kylie Rothfield from The Voice and drank wine at a famous Bar called White Horse Lounge. The food there was presented with flair. We especially liked the hummus with roasted shishito peppers and crispy flatbread. The calamari was served with a sweet and sour glaze and chipotle aioli. Not a bite was left on the platter.


We stopped for a look see at Pasadena City Hall after appetizers and enjoyed the majestic display of lights on the antique building. It was exquisite. On our last day, we leisurely ate breakfast outside at Urth Caffe’ https://urthcaffe.com/caffe/locations/urth-downtown-la. I had a spectacular veggie omelet which didn’t disappoint.



Normally, I would do the cooking on such a trip, but this visit was untraditional. We mostly ate out and made things easy. It was short and sweet and the perfect getaway vacation. I very much enjoyed spending time with the girls and look forward to our next vacation together. As time goes on, we will see how Trumps politics affect the country, hopefully in a positive way. I’m grateful for my life, my friends, my family and for the opportunity to live in the USA. Make sure when you travel with your friends that you respect their ideas political or otherwise. It makes for long and lasting relationships.

Here’s the pumpkin bread recipe that I brought with me and gave as a hostess gift. It was a hit.

Pumpkin Bread

3 Eggs

2 C Sugar

1 C Canola Oil

1 T Vanilla

2 C Flour

1 t Cinnamon

1 T Ginger

½ t Cloves

1 t Kosher Salt

¼ t Baking Powder

2 C roasted or canned Pumpkin Puree

¾ C Black or Golden Raisins

1 C chopped Walnuts

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs until frothy. Beat in sugar, oil, and vanilla until mixture is thick. Sift dry ingredients together. Alternately, starting with dry ingredients add ½ C at a time to egg mixture and blend. Then add pumpkin, dry, then pumpkin, ending with dry. Stir in nuts and raisins until incorporated.

Pour into loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely removing parchment first. You can frost w cream cheese frosting (1 8 oz pkg of cream cheese, 1 stick unsalted butter, 1 t vanilla, 2 C powdered sugar and orange or lemon zest. Blend in mixer till smooth). Tastes great by itself. Very moist and delicious.

Enjoy!

Be sure to check out my earlier posts here.A Foodie’s best place to Shop and Beef Bourguignone

 

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One Special Confection You Can’t live Without This Holiday

One Special Confection You Can’t live Without This Holiday

Before I divulge the best toffee recipe of all time, I will share a quick story about my recent vacation. Here is a pic of my niece Kendall helping me in the kitchen.

What a trip! My husband and I traveled to Portland Oregon this week for business and pleasure. I was excited to get away and have fun exploring the food and vibe in the Great Northwest.


The day started with a trip to Voo Doo Donuts after dropping my husband off at the refinery. It was my first time trying these fabulous baked goods. People go crazy for these donuts. One lady in line bought seven dozen and another guy walked out with four dozen glazed, sprinkled, filled and twisted… the list goes on and on. I was happy with my two-one raspberry filled dusted w powdered sugar and one glazed with chocolate and filled w pastry cream. So delish!


The place reminded me of a Hard Rock Café kind of place. It has a weird kind of vibe with skull and cross bones and biker chic like culture. They sell music CD’s and T-shirts w logos like “The Magic is in the Hole.” And I might add that we saw a few people in the airport carrying huge pink Voo Doo Donut boxes too.

Apparently there is usually a line out the door of this place. Today, this wasn’t the case but there were plenty of visitors taking part of the “Voo Doo Donut experience.”  The shop is small. No seating is available. I chose to stand at the back counter and eat the chocolate one w Bavarian cream first. It didn’t disappoint. The Stumptown coffee was watered down and not anything like the normal Peet’s espresso w steamed milk that I make for myself every morning.



Next I explored the shops in the Multnomah Village and Hillsdale Shopping area of Portland. Here I wandered around in this cute quaint small neighborhood. I found everyone there to be friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about their goods. I was able to pick up a couple of last minute Christmas presents for a few people on my list. I found a cashmere scarf for my son who will soon be traveling to So Korea for a business class. He will be sure to find a good use for it there. After visiting a bead store, I also got the great idea to bedazzle my Christmas packages w brown twine and lace them w sparkly beads in blue, red, clear, yellow and some that look like diamonds. This will be the perfect addition to my holiday wrap. I love decorating a gorgeous tree every year and placing beautiful packages under and alongside the ornaments and brightly lit tree.


I also spotted an old fashioned candy store called Hatties which had every kind of candy you could think of. I brought home peppermint candy canes to make my chocolate and peppermint cream cheese brownies and root beer, licorice, butterscotch and orange flavored lollipop sticks to add to the gifts of the kids on my list. Remember the ones you had as a child? They also offered many varieties of homemade fudge like salted caramel, chocolate and peanut butter swirl and red velvet cheesecake flavor and gave you a free chunk of it if you spent more than $10.00.


One of the perks to shopping in this area was the “Golden Ticket” that was provided as a free gift if you spent over $10.00 in any store. It was fun to see so many crafty knitted hats, crocheted gloves, and colorful socks of all kinds. Wonderful place to go if you like unusual things “Keep Portland Weird” that you don’t necessarily find in the department store. I also felt great knowing I was supporting a community of small business owners.

It began to snow outside, so I kept warm and dry inside until it was time to drive back to get my husband at his office. Make sure to watch the video I made while enjoying the fun day. I hope after reading my blog you will make it to Portland too and have as much fun as I did exploring the city.


I’d like to share my favorite Christmas Candy that has been made in my family for generations.

I’ve been bringing this dish to holiday parties and celebrations for years and everyone is always asking me for the recipe. You will want to double the recipe. Here you go.

Thanks for reading.

Please share this blog on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Teri’s Crunchy English Toffee

7 oz sliced Almonds

1 ¼ C Light Brown Sugar

½ C Unsalted Butter

2 T Water

¼ t Baking Soda

1 t Vanilla Extract

7 oz chopped Ghiradelli or high quality Dark Chocolate

Spread sliced almonds onto a sheet pan and bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 8 min or until brown. When cool, chop finely using a food processor and spread onto two pans lined with sil pat.

Place sugar, butter and water in a medium size heavy bottom pan on medium heat. I find that doubling the recipe makes it easier to keep the candy thermometer in the caramel and thus reads easier. Stir until butter melts and mixture is combined, then do not stir. Boil until thermometer reads 285 degrees. Remove from heat and add vanilla and baking soda. Stir with wooden spoon and pour onto nuts. Spread evenly and quickly put chocolate chunks onto warm caramel to melt. Spread chocolate then cool in fridge, freezer or on counter until set about 1 hour.

Enjoy!

Recipe Adapted from Rose Levy’s Mahogany Butter Crunch Toffee.

 

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A Foodie’s best place to Shop and Beef Bourguignone


It’s Fall here in Northern California. The weather is changing from warm sunny days to windy and sometimes cool and rainy days. Yesterday it was on the cooler side, but still nice enough to go on a day trip. I drove to Oakland which is about 25 minutes from my home in Walnut Creek California. I took a tour of Rockridge Market Hall on College Avenue. This venue is fun for any food lover, especially me. I walked from the Coffee bar with my 2 shot espresso and steamed milk over to the bakery to scan the goods. I’m usually a Peet’s kind of girl, but this will have to do.



This place was bustling with activity from the vendors scooping fresh hot baked chicken from the ovens, to the customers selecting which salad or side dish they wanted to buy. This place is like Heaven on earth to me. They have everything from the best cheese varieties in the world to special organic olive oils like Bondolio https://www.bondolio.com/ made in Winters California. (Bondolio gives tours and tastings on Sunday’s in December and if you have 10 people, I learned they will fire up the pizza oven on site.)


I was impressed by the knowledgeable staff like Wendy who took me for a tour of the marketplace. She introduced me to jars of honey from all over the world. There was one called “Miele” that was made in Tuscany and it was most beautiful and feminine painting of dainty flowers on the jar. I can only imagine how sweet and lovely it tastes. “Alemany of Spain” had an orange blossom honey made with orange peel that would be delicious in a cup of herbal tea, and a thyme honey that is wonderful in marinades. They had other varietals from New Zealand and even a special one grown in the USA in Savannah Georgia called “Verdant Kitchen” that was infused with ginger and bottled like a maple syrup with fancy packaging.


The Pasta Shop displayed the most beautiful cheeses like the pasteurized Taleggio from Italy, a speckled blue Stilton from England and not to be forgotten the Bay Blue variety from Pt. Reyes Farmstead in California which I have visited and so many more.  I drooled over the perfectly half wrapped perfect sized baguette with aged cheddar melted inside. It tasted even better after the bakery slid it in the oven for a few minutes for me. I got excited when I saw the roasted hazelnuts and marcona almonds that were screaming to be purchased and served with a slab of Tomme de Gascogne from France. This cheese was semi soft and would spread easily on a crispy sesame seed cracker.

The Market Hall also sells canned Octopus in olive oil, stuffed calamari, canned sardines and mackerel fillets packed in wine and mild spices. They recommend serving these delicacies in a sandwich, in pasta, in mashed potatoes, or over tomato and saffron rice.  I also spotted smoked salmon in a jar or can from Alaska. There were Italian anchovies packed in salt and spicy peppers or paste which would work well to flavor stews and sauces and give them an umami flavor.

The store was adorned in cookbooks galore. I fingered through Nick Haddow’s “Milk Made” a book about cheese. It has 71 recipes and is written about how to choose your cheese, serve it and eat it for the best dinner parties. Great gift set ideas for whoever hosts your Thanksgiving feast this year including “Jamnation” damn good jam, the very popular Leonardi’s Balsamico, or why not bring a beautifully purple checkered wrapped Fig and Chocolate Panettone. I wanted one of everything, no kidding.


I did break down and buy a bar of Oakland’s own Barlovento’s Dark Chocolate studded with dried cherries and ate half of it before the end of the day. In my mind this is the best end of meal kind of treat. It melted in my mouth and provided the best tart little bite after chewing the biggest dried cherry I’ve ever seen in my life. I call myself a pastry chef, but I am truly a candy maker loving what chocolate does with caramel, orange flavors and liqueurs.

Which brings me to finish off the visit by taking in the meat market and fish market and watching the chef grill whole trout and then top with an olive and pepper gremolata. It looked like the perfect dinner to serve to my husband who would be looking for something like this at the end of his long hard day. I purchased a package of oxtails that would become a hearty meal for my family this week. Of course they were selling huge turkeys that are ready to be brined and baked, but I am still waiting for my second fridge to be fixed so that will have to wait. A dehydrated bone for my doggie Baxter was my last expense, making sure he would be happy to see me come home from my adventure.

Market Hall had so many other areas of interest like the wine section, the fresh flower stand, and the dried pasta section. In the pasta area, I browsed some I had never heard of like Rustichella d’Abruzzo’s Torchio, Orecchiette, Rigatoncini, and refrigerated pastas.  Chestnut flour was new and interesting. I had to ask what a chef might use that for. Wendy wasn’t sure exactly, but guessed one could make a pasta or special bread with it. And if you are wondering if they sell fresh home-made soup, well then you won’t be disappointed. I discovered clam chowder, vegetable beef, chicken noodle, and many more made daily. How does one decide? This place was phenomenal. I thought I was in the best culinary dream of my life.

I haven’t even spoken of the bakery counter which holds fresh pizzas, focaccia’s, the most desired loafs of bread like Multigrain Batard, Levain, Whole Grain Sourdough, Sicilian Green Olive and Cranberry Walnut, just to name a few. I wanted one of everything. My family LOVES hot bread. Doesn’t everyone?


Let me just say that I will be back to Market Hall in Oakland, California. Not only to deliver Wendy a jar of my very own home made apricot jam that I make every June. I go to Wolfe Ranch’s in Brentwood http://www.peterwolfe.com/ and buy their very ripe and juicy apricots found only an hour from Walnut Creek. Here’s a link to my older blog with the recipe http://letsmakemudpies.blogspot.com/2014/07/blenheim-apricot-preserves-make-summer.html.

This marketplace is a fun excursion to take your mom or best friend to. I only wish I lived closer so that I could walk there and find the best breakfast pastry, specialty coffee, lunch and dinner all in one trip. You must go. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: http://www.rockridgemarkethall.com/

Here is a recipe for a nice hearty meal on a cold autumn day.


Teri’s Beouf a la Bourguignonne 

3 1lbs. Chuck Beef cut into 2×1 ½ in pieces removing fat

1 ½ C Red Wine (I prefer Cabernet Sauvignon)

2 C Chicken broth ( boil bones for 1 hr w garlic, onion, carrot, celery, lemon after baking chicken and then remove meat from bones. Save chicken meat for another meal)

1 C. tomato puree

1 shallot minced

3 cloves garlic sliced

4 T bacon fat (I save the fat after baking bacon on trays and keep in fridge in a sealed jar)

4 T Unsalted Butter

4 T flour combined w 1 t Kosher salt and ½ t ground pepper

4 sprigs of parsley from garden chopped fine

3 sprigs of fresh thyme from garden. Remove leaves and discard stem

1 C. Beef bouillon or beef stock

1 C pearl onions (Buy in frozen vegie section in store)

1 ½ C quartered fresh button mushrooms

1/4 cup cherry preserves

2 T Brandy

1 T Worcestershire

1 T Mushroom Soy Sauce

1 C fresh or frozen peas

6 med white or red potatoes left whole

 

Directions:

Marinate beef in red wine for a few hours or overnight if possible. Remove beef onto a dry towel or paper towel and dry. Put flour salt and pepper mixture into a large bowl and add the pieces of beef. Coat on all sides and fry in small batches in a Le Creuset or heavy pan in butter and bacon fat. As they are brown, turn occasionally to brown on all sides. Remove and place onto a sheet pan lined w foil. When all are brown, place sheet pan in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile sauté mushrooms in butter and bacon fat. Add frozen pearl onions and add wine that meat was marinating in and cook down adding a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Cut up carrots in chunks, put on a sheet pan w olive oil salt and pepper and roast for 15 min.

After baking for 15 min, add beef into mushroom and onion mixture. Add shallots, garlic, tomato puree, chicken broth, beef broth, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, Worcestershire, mushroom soy sauce, cherry preserves, any leftover red wine and roasted carrots. Cook on med high heat on stove until boiling, then transfer to oven making sure to cover lid w foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hrs. Then add fresh peas and bake uncovered another 30 min.

Peel 6 white potatoes and boil on med high heat covered in H20 for 30 min until soft.

When serving, place 2 potatoes in a bowl. Add beef stew to cover potatoes.

Serves 6-8

Enjoy!

Teri

 

Revised recipe originally found in James Beard’s American Cookery. Also used ideas found on Julia Child’s recipe.

Recipes may not be republished without prior consent.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2016 in Autumn, Beef Stew, Foodie, Uncategorized

 

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Teaching Preschool and Making Pumpkin Cake

Teaching Preschool and Making Pumpkin Cake


Today is the day. Today is the day I gain the courage to write another blog. For some reason I have been finding reasons not to write. Well, I was preoccupied with a full time job for the past year. From October until June I worked as a preschool teacher at a private school in Danville. It was a very exciting job. I worked alongside 2 other very talented and patient women who taught me how to take care of twenty-two 2-3 year olds five days a week. Some of them stayed all day from 7AM until 6PM and others only came half days from 8-12noon.

I taught music by singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “The Wheels on the Bus” to keep them entertained. We read books about outer space, transportation, Cat in The Hat books, books about summer vacations, books about a new baby brother or sister, and several others depending on the theme of the month.

I was challenged to come up with art ideas that looked cute on the wall for the parents to see and that also taught the kids how to paint, color, glue things, matching work sheets, and others. This was the hardest part of my job coming up with various ways to help the children learn art. I would search Pinterest for cute project ideas and spend hours preparing lessons. The trick was to get all 22 kids to do the project and we only had between 15 to 20 minutes to finish it. Try to get a 2 ½ year old interested in leaving the train table to sit and color something. Some could barely hold a crayon and a few of them would refuse and start to cry if we made them.

I loved watching these kids interact with their friends. There was always one or two that would interfere with circle time by yelling out something, laughing out loud, laying down, or taking off their shoes. These were usually boys and we had to sit them at a different table until they were ready to participate with the group. Two of them would work together to giggle across from one another (we could never allow them to sit together. That equaled TROUBLE). And during nap time these two boys couldn’t wait to wake up and make noises at each other so the others would wake up. It was constant chaos. They would try my patience day after day and yet they were only little guys so you couldn’t blame them. It was their job to make our lives miserable.

I would catch myself laughing out loud because it was hilarious trying to keep the class under control. Each student had their own personality. Some were extra smart and questions came easily to them. Others were delayed in their language and couldn’t speak. Some kids had strong accents and you could barely understand what they were saying. One girl would cry every morning when her mom dropped her off. And she didn’t just cry softly, she screamed. For 30 minutes! There was nothing anyone could do to keep her from screaming. She would stand at the window with her blankey and special stuffed animal and scream for her mom. It was horrible for everyone. It wasn’t until circle time would start when she would finally begin to settle in. But of course, she HAD to sit on the rainbow carpet square. You see each carpet square had a letter and a picture of something that began with that letter. Well this girl only liked that particular R rainbow carpet square and if she didn’t sit on it first and some other kid got it, she would start screaming again. And if I made another kid get off that rainbow so the girl would stop screaming, the other teachers would scold me and tell me she had to learn. She wasn’t allowed to get her way all the time. Oh boy, did that tork me in a big way. So what? Let the poor girl have the rainbow carpet. Big deal? It wasn’t easy to get along with how the other teachers wanted to run their classroom, but we did. We had to in order to keep the peace in front of the kids.

After circle time came snack time. We had things for them like apple juice, orange juice, milk or water to drink. We provided popcorn, graham crackers, French Toast sticks, Chex Mix, Cheerios, and other snack items like string cheese and yogurt. The kids were also offered orange slices, apple slices, bananas, apple sauce, canned peaches and canned pineapple. It was hard for some to stay in their chairs. One set of twins had to have their own gluten free snacks brought in, not because of a food allergy, but because the parents preferred it. These two didn’t sit for long and would run into the play room to play. We had to guide them back into their seats only to have to chase them around the tables after they got up again. One boy with special needs was never interested in eating snack. He would pour his juice or milk onto the table and then want more. The only time he was interested in food was when I brought in soup one day. I showed the kids how to make “Stone Soup” at circle time giving them opportunities to show their friends what celery, or what a carrot was. This boy sat at the table for over 30 minutes and ate the soup with a spoon. I was amazed, told his mother and she was happy about it.

After snack time, the kids lined up to go outside. Just getting these kids lined up was a chore in itself. The two trouble makers would climb into the playhouse, or onto a stack of chairs, or pull on the blinds. Others would push and shove or try to sneak out the door. We were only allowed to watch 12 children at a time by ourselves. One of us would be cleaning up snack and the other would be changing diapers and taking the kids to the bathroom. It was a hard to manage these youngsters and keep them safe. They couldn’t climb onto the changing table unless we were right there to catch them if they fell. We had to make sure they didn’t try to escape out the front door where they could easily run into the street parking lot. Many times I chased kids up the stairs into the library area because that was their favorite place to run away to. They would run up there during clean up time so they didn’t have to put away their toys.

I loved taking the kids outside. They wanted to ride their tricycles and police cars and fire engines. They wanted to climb the play structure and slip down the slide. The girls would hold hands with each other and play make believe with the toy dolls. Some would watch out the gate for their mommies and daddies and be sad. I was on a constant look out for keeping them safe from each other. Many would not watch where they were riding and almost hurt someone else. They would run at full speed not minding that there was a pole up ahead or a wall they could run into. Of course the mud puddles and wet grass were their favorite, but the parents never wanted them wet. One boy would love to play with chalk on the pavement, but would be covered with it by the end of the play period. He ruined his clothes by putting holes in the knees of his pants and tearing at them more when there was any site of a rip.

I remember having to help the kids pull up their pants after potty time cause the pants were one size too small. Many couldn’t button or snap either and would ask for help getting dressed. While outside we would search for lady bugs, or roly poly bugs, or airplanes flying high in the sky. We sang and danced “Mr Clown, Mr Clown, Who’s the funniest clown in town?” We had Easter egg hunts and collected the plastic eggs with paper bags that they personally decorated during art.

One of my students and his Mom


I could go on for days about my experiences teaching at Tassajara Learning Center, but I must get on with my day. It’s Halloween after all and I must prepare for the trick or treaters and get the dessert ready for our Octoberfest party tonight. I making a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting to bring and share. The recipe is originally used to make carrot cake, but substituting pumpkin works well too.

 

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Pumpkin Cake

 

Ingredients

2 C granulated Sugar

1 Cup Canola Oil

4 eggs

 

2 ½ C fresh and roasted (Place huge chunks of cut pumpkin skin side up onto a sheet pan lined w parchment or foil and bake for @ 1 hour at 400 degrees and cool) or canned pumpkin

 

2 ½ C All Purpose Flour

2 t Baking Powder

1 t Cinnamon

1 t Ginger

½ t Cloves

2 t Baking Soda

½ t Maldon Salt

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz pkg room temp cream cheese

1 stick or ½ C room temp butter

2 C. Confectioners Sugar

1 t Vanilla

 

Blend cream cheese and butter in a mixer on med high until combined. Add sugar while mixer is on low until combined. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix in.

Directions:

 

Combine oil and sugar in mixer until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed for @ 5 minutes.

Sift together flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt. If salt doesn’t fit through sifter, add to dry ingredients.

Alternately starting with the 1/3 flour mixture, add to oil, sugar and egg mixture, then adding 1/3 pureed pumpkin, then 1/3 more flour, and repeating with flour until mixture is combined.

Pour into a greased and floured bunt pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for @ 45-55 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

Remove cake from pan onto a platter. When cool, frost with cream cheese frosting. Slice and serve. Serves @10.

Enjoy!

My husband and I and my son’s dog Hank dressed up for Halloween

Hank and my son Curtis hanging out to see the Trick or Treaters at our home.

My youngest son Andrew cane to Grace Cathedral

 

 

And in case you want to bake a pie. Try this one.

http://letsmakemudpies.blogspot.com/2016/10/lets-make-mud-pies-oh-no-you-didnt-just.html

 

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Posted by on November 5, 2016 in Dessert, Halloween, Holidays

 

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