Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Happy “I Can’t Stop Sneaking Those Snack-size Treats and Hope There Will be Some Left For When the Kids Show up” Day

There’s a lesson to be learned here, people, DON’T BUY YOUR HALLOWEEN CANDY EARLY.

A couple random Halloween thoughts….

My mother, for reasons we never quite understood, always called the little Trick-or-Treating kids “Halloweeners” instead of “Trick-or-Treaters”.

Let me tell you about my most memorable Halloween.  In 1969 (yes – 1969!!!!!) the year before we moved overseas, I got my very favorite of all time costume.  It was Cinderella, with the blue dress and the molded plastic mask of the cartoon character’s face (is there anyone here who remembers them?  You’d almost suffocate; could never quite get the eyes to match up; and the elastic string always broke before the night was out).  That year my mother decided to make spare ribs on our Farberware Indoor Grill.  They were taking forever; my younger brothers and I were getting all antsy to go trick-or-treating, and my Daddy made the mistake of asking her why she thought making spare ribs on Halloween Night was a good idea.  We came back with an immense stash of loot and my youngest brother threw an epic tantrum when the parents wouldn’t let him take his candy to bed with him.

This year, I’m setting up shop at the end of my driveway.  I’m going to light the never-been-used fire pit (one day about two years ago I went to Lowes for some light bulbs and came home with a fire pit; Iseult announced I was not allowed to go to Lowes by myself anymore; then she texted her sister at college to rat me out; Angharad sided with Iseult – anyone surprised?).  Anyway, I’m using the stupid thing tonight.

When you live in the south, you can’t carve your pumpkins ahead of time.  They rot.  We carved ours Tuesday night; I kept them inside in my office because it’s cooler in the house than it is outside.  This morning I put them out – there’s rot. Le Sigh.

Happy Halloween!

Farberware Rotisserie

Primarily used by my Dad (Dad-burgers; rotisserie roast beef); occasionally by my Mother (but more often than not whatever she started cooking on it, my Dad finished)

Edited to add: Our Faraberware Grill (I corrected it from Revereware) looked just like this!

My parents were devoted to theirs. They schlepped it to Helsinki and Paris and bought some adapter thingies so they could use it. When their first one died, they got another. When I got married, the bought me one. When Paul got married, they bought him one. We eventually sold ours. I was out of real estate. I kind of miss it, though. The rotisserie attachment was awesome. Maybe I should buy another one. After I get my waffle iron.


Happy National Bologna Day

From All About the Bullerby Children by Astrid Lindgren

 Chapter 18 – Anna and I go shopping

The shop where we buy sugar and coffee and things like that is in the big village, close to the school.  When Mother needs some groceries she usually asks me to get them for her after school.  But during the summer holidays we have to make a special trip.  One day Mother said, “Lisa, there’s no help for it.  You’ll have to run down to the shop for me.”

It was a beautiful day and I thought it would be fun to go shopping, so I said, “Of course, I’d love to.  What do you want?”

Mother said we’d probably better write a list.  But we couldn’t find a pencil, so I said, “Never mind.  I can remember it all.”

Then Mother told me all the things I should buy:  six ounces of yeast and a piece of Bologna sausage of the best quality, a package of ginger, some sewing needles, a tin of anchovies, a bag of almonds, and a bottle of vinegar.

“I’m sure I’ll remember it all, “I said.

Just then Anna came rushing into our kitchen and asked me if I’d like to go to the shop with her.

“Yes,” I said.  “I was just going to ask you to come with me.”

Anna was wearing her new red cap and carried a basket on her arm.  I put on my new green cap and took a basket on my arm too.

Ann was going to buy soap, a pound of coffee, two pounds of sugar, and two yards of elastic tape.  Also she was to get a piece of Bologna sausage of the best quality, just as I was.  Anna hadn’t written down what she was going to buy either.

Before we left we went up to Grandpa’s room to ask if there was anything he needed from the shop, and he asked us to buy him some barley-sugar and a bottle of camphor liniment.

Just as we were leaving through the gate, Olaf’s mother came running out on to their porch.

“Are you going to the shop?” she called.

“Yes,” we said.

“Oh, please would you pick up a few things for me?” she asked.

We said we’d love to.  She wanted us to buy a spool of white thread, number 40, and a bottle of vanilla essence.

“And wait, what else was it I wanted?” she said, looking thoughtful.

“A piece of Bologna sausage of the best quality?” I suggested.

“Yes, that was it,” said Olaf’s mother.  “How could you guess?”

Then Anna and I left, and we were a little worried for fear we wouldn’t be able to remember everything.  First we recited all the things to each other out loud, but we soon got tired of that.  We walked along arm in arm, swinging our baskets back and forth.  The sun was shining and the trees smelled good.  Then we made up songs about what we were going to get.  We sang as loud as we could, “A piece of Bologna sausage of the best quality.”  It sounded quite pretty.  This is the way we did it.  First I sang, “A piece of Bologna sausage,” in a slow, romantic melody, and then Anna struck up, “Of the best quality, of the best quality,” in a fast, happy tune.  Sometimes we sang the words in a melody that was good to march to.  But finally we settled for one that was sad all the way through and very beautiful.  It was so beautiful that we almost began to cry.

“My, how sad it is about Bologna sausage,” Anna said when we finally reached the shop,.

There were a lot of people in the shop so we had to wait a long time, really much longer than we should have, because grown-ups seem to think that it doesn’t matter how long children have to wait.  They always push ahead.  But finally Uncle Emil himself came out into the shop.  We know him.  He started to ask how everyone in Bullerby was, and if we had eaten lots of eggs at Easter, and if we weren’t going to get married soon.

“We certainly are not,” we said.

“And what to the ladies wish to buy today?” asked Uncle Emil.  He always talked silly like that, but I like him all the same.  He has a pencil behind his ear and a little red moustache.  He always treats us to aniseed balls that the keeps in a big jar.

First Anna told him everything that she was supposed to buy for her mother and for Grandfather.  Uncle Emil weighed everything and wrapped it in packages while Anna talked.

Then it was my turn to tell him everything I was going to get for Mother and Olaf’s mother. Both Anna and I thought as hard as we could so that we wouldn’t forget anything.  Uncle Emil gave us two aniseed balls apiece, and we left.

When we had walked as far as the fork in the road where we turn to Bullerby, I said, “Anna, do you remember if I bought yeast?”

Anna couldn’t remember at all.  We started squeezing all the packages in my basket.  There was nothing that felt like yeast.  So we had to go back to the store.  Uncle Emil laughed at us and gave us the yeast and some more aniseed balls.  Then we left.

Just as we came to the fork in the road again, Anna cried, “Grandpa’s camphor liniment!”

“I’ve never seen the like,” I said.

There was nothing we could do but go back to the store.  How Uncle Emil laughed at us!  He gave us the camphor liniment and still more aniseed balls.

When we came to the fork in the road the next time Anna looked so frightened that I felt sorry for her.

“Lisa,” she said.  “I’m almost sure that I didn’t buy any sugar.”

“Anna,” I said, “don’t tell me that you didn’t buy the sugar.  You simply must have bought the sugar?”

We squeezed and squeezed the things in Anna’s basket, but there was nothing which felt the least bit sugary.

Uncle Emil almost fell across the counter when he saw us again.  But he gave us the sugar and still more aniseed balls.

“I’d better get out a spare jar of aniseed balls,“ he said, “Because my whole stock is disappearing.”

“Don’t worry, we shan’t come back any more,” Anna said.

Just before we came to the fork in the road again I said, “Anna, let’s run past the fork.  It’s the only way to get by.  Otherwise we’ll think of something else that we’ve forgotten.”

So we ran by the fork.

“It worked!” said Anna.  At last we were on our way home.

“Let’s sing a little more,” said Anna.

We did.  We started with “A piece of Bologna sausage of the best quality,” and it sounded just as beautiful and sad as before.  Anna said that we ought to introduce that song at school and sing it at speech day next year.  We sang and sang and sang while we struggled up the hill towards Bullerby.

And then – just as I bellowed “A piece of Bologna sausage,” extra beautifully – Anna took me by the arm and looked absolutely wild.

“Lisa,” she said, “we haven’t bought any Bologna sausage!”

We sat down by the side of the road and didn’t say anything for a long while.  Then Anna said that she wished no one had ever invented Bologna sausages.

“Why can’t people eat frankfurters instead?” she said.

My, how long the road back seemed this time.  We didn’t sing any more.  Anna said that she did not think that song about the Bologna sausage as at all suitable to sing at school.

“No,” I said, “not at school and not any other place either.  What a ridiculous song!”

When Uncle Emil saw us he held his head, and then he ran to get a new jar of aniseed balls.  But we said that no, thank you, we didn’t care for any more aniseed balls.

“Really?” said Uncle Emil. “What do you want then?”

“Three pieces of Bologna sausage of the best quality,” we said.

“If there is such a thing as good Bologna sausage,” Anna  muttered.

We dragged ourselves homeward.  But when we came to the fork in the road, Anna looked back and said, “Look, there comes John from the mill, driving his ugly old tawny mare!”  John works in a mill that lies on the other side of Bullerby.

“May we have a ride?” we cried when John has caught up with us.

“Jump right in,” said John.

We jumped up on the flour sacks and rode all the way to Bullerby.  I started humming, “A piece of Bologna sausage of the best quality,” but Anna said, “If you sing one more word of that song I’ll push you off the wagon.”

When I came into the kitchen, Mother said, “Goodness, Lisa, what a long time you’ve been gone!”

“No wonder,” I said.  “With all that Bologna sausage to buy.”

When Mother has taken all the things out of the basket she said, “That was a good girl who remembered everything!”

Copyright 1961 by Astrid Lindgren

One of my absolute favoritesThis was one of my very favorite childhood books. And bologna is kind of a quintessential childhood food, isn’t it?  May I suggest that at some point today you relive one of your own happy childhood memories and have something tasty to go along with it?



Fundraising, Iseult-Style

Iseult:  Mama, we need to sell 20 cheesecakes

Me:      Who is “we” and why do we need to sell 20 cheesecakes?

Iseult:  The Sophomore class is selling them.

Me:      Great.  What’s with the 20?  That’s a lot of cheesecake.

Iseult:  That’s my goal.  I get entered into contests.  Plus it would be awesome.

Me:      Who are you selling them to.

Iseult:   Your people.

Me:       My people?  Who are “my people”?

Iseult:   You know.  People with money.


(You’d think I’d be used to this by now)


Sunday Sillies – Ailment Edition

Probably not the most tasteful of silliness (what with Ebola running rampant and all), but if you have to get e-coli, why not get the plushie version instead of the real thing?

e-coli plushie

So cute in fuzz…so disgusting in real life

Check out the link below to see all his nasty little friends.

Photo Credit


Saturday Morning Baking – Blueberry Muffins

Muffins are a perfect food. They’re quick, easy to make, generally cheap.

Except when they’re not.

I get frustrated when they’re more like cupcakes. Using every bowl in your house? Multiple kitchen appliances? 11 individual steps? All kinds of strange and esoteric ingredients? Two hours of your life?

Le Sigh.

The muffin should be a friendly food. It’s a Quick Bread (did you notice the word “quick” there?); a whip-up-spur-of-the-moment food; you shouldn’t have to schedule your day around them – save that for yeasted breads.

Let Muffins Be Muffins, people! (my new rallying cry)

There’s nothing fancy here – a simple muffin batter is elevated by mashing some of the berries and leaving the rest whole. A light, slightly cinnamon-y streusel is sprinkled over the top. 15 minutes to whip up, 20 in the oven. You won’t need to run out to some specialty market for ingredients. And you won’t have Mt. Dishmore in your sink. And you won’t need to take a powder to recover from the baking process.
By the time these babies are out of the oven, you’ve cleaned up the kitchen and the coffee is ready.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Heat the oven to 400˚F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners (or grease them well).

Make the streusel – in a small bowl, combine until crumbly and then set aside:
• ⅓ cup sugar
• ⅓ cup flour
• ¼ tsp. salt
• ½ tsp. cinnamon
• 3 Tbsp. butter

Make the muffins – In a large mixing bowl, whisk together:
• ¾ cup whole milk
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a smaller bowl, combine

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 1 Tbsp. baking powder
• ½ tsp. salt

• 1 ½ cups blueberries (mash ½ cup of blueberries & leave 1 cup whole)

Add the dry ingredients to the milk & egg mixture and gently combine. Fold in the blueberries. Don’t over mix – this is a quick bread recipe and you don’t want tough muffins.

Fill the muffin cups and sprinkle the streusel over them (be generous).

If you like, you can sprinkle some cinnamon-sugar over the streusel. It’s not necessary, but we like it.

Bake the muffins for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the muffins spring back when lightly pressed. (I always check after 15 minutes because my oven tends to be disagreeable if I don’t pay it enough attention).

Cool on a wire rack and enjoy.

Obligatory note of caution – the fruit is really hot when these come out of the oven. Of course, you CAN eat them immediately, but I’m not responsible for any blistering that may result from lack of will-power (and the smell of these beauties WILL test that will-power)

Makes 12.

Note – these work equally well with fresh or frozen berries. You don’t want to defrost your berries (well, you need to let the ½ cup of berries that you’re going to mash soften a bit. I made these with frozen and nuked the ½ cup for about 20 seconds just until they got soft enough to mash – easy peasey)


No, they don’t look perfect. They’re Muffins. They should have that imperfect, rustic look.


Weeknight Supper – Chicken Milanese with Arugula, Apple and Walnut Salad

I have to share this – it’s so damn delicious and I’m going to apologize in advance for the fairly imprecise measurements and preparation technique. I found myself in the kitchen one night with a package of thinly sliced chicken breasts and really not sure what to do with them (they’re not my favorite thing to cook for the most part).  I’d been to Trader Joe’s that day and bought some Honeycrisp apples and Wild Rocket and suddenly it came to me – I could make crispy chicken with a kickass salad.

I cored, halved, and thinly sliced the apples and then tossed them with lemon juice which not only prevented nasty browning, but added a nice tart contrast to the sweetness of the apple. If you can’t find Honeycrisps or don’t like them (is that even possible), I’d go with another sweeter apple – maybe even a pear.  Anything tart will just not be pleasant.  I think that apple and walnut is one of the more sublime combinations, so I added toasted nuts to the mix.  If you don’t like walnuts, then substitute your own favorite.  The bitter-ish greens really hold up to the acid of the dressing (lemon & olive oil), as well as providing a lovely contrast to the sweet-tart apple and the crispy chicken. Finally I sprinkled some kosher salt over the top. Don’t skip that part.

All in all, this ended up being a perfect dinner salad, satisfying and just screaming “autumn” to me. It didn’t actually take a long time to make and if you’re a family with children, it’s a great opportunity to engage their help.  My mother made chicken Milanese all the time (of course she baked hers with tomato sauce and mozzarella and called it Chicken Parmesan) and my brothers and I loved to help her bread the chicken – messy, but fun.

Let’s get started.

  • 1.5 lb chicken cutlets (thinly sliced chicken breasts) – say 6, maybe
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2-3 eggs, well beaten (start with 2 and add an extra if needed)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (add a little more if needed)
  • Olive Oil for frying the chicken
  • Wild rocket (or arugula or watercress or other spicy green
  • 1 large Honeycrisp apple
  • ½ cup walnut meats, toasted
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Prep the salad:

Core and halve and very thinly slice the apple (thin, but not quite shaved). Place the apples in a small bowl and toss with 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, making sure that they’re completely coated.  This will keep the apples from turning an unpleasant brown and also is part of the joy of this salad.  Cover and refrigerate

Toast the walnuts (gently, because these babies will burn in an instant) and coarsely chop. Set aside.

Dump the greens in a large bowl and keep refrigerated (you can do this at the last minute if you want)

Prepare the chicken:

Heat the oven to 300˚F and place a large cooling rack over a baking sheet and set in the oven (I put the chicken in here to finish cooking through and also keep warm while I cook the rest of the chicken)

Set out three bowls or pie pans (or paper plates for the flour and bread crumbs if you want);

Combine the flour, salt, garlic powder and pepper

Lightly coat a cutlet with the seasoned flour. Dip in the eggs then in the breadcrumbs

Repeat with remaining chicken

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat – you want the oil fairly hot when the chicken hit it. Cook the chicken in the hot oil until brown and crispy on each side (3-4 minutes per side)

Watch the oil – you may need to raise the temperature when initially adding the chicken, but then drop it down once the oil temp rises.

Put the chicken in the oven on prepared rack in the oven while you finish with the rest of the cutlets.

Once all the chicken is cooked finish assembling the dish.

Toss the greens with @3Tbsp lemon juice and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Taste it at this point.  I like mine fairly acidic, so adjust as needed, adding more juice/olive oil to suit your taste buds.  Put a large handful of greens on each plate; sprinkle with the walnuts.  Place a chicken cutlet on the greens and top with a handful of the lemon-coated apple sliced.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.

That’s it. Sweet-tart apples, crunchy walnuts, warm crispy chicken, belligerent greens – some stay cold and crunchy, some get a little wilted and that tiny burst of salt.  Perfect.

I found that I chicken cutlet per salad worked fine for us. But you can certainly add more for those with larger appetites.

I’d think this would serve 3 – 4 nicely – you might need a little more greens.

I really hope you try this out – it was so yum that it’s absolutely going to feature prominently for as long as I can get my hands on those apples. I might also add a little goat cheese.  Hmmmmm – something to think about.


Let’s ignore that the table is not properly set, shall we, and just focus on the food.


Happy “Sandwich Made on Long Bread” Day

Also known as “Oh….So That’s Where You’re From” Day.

Let’s take a vote on the matter.

Anyhoo….if you haven’t made lunch plans, here’s the perfect opportunity to indulge!

P.S. – My favorite is meatball with provolone and lots of sauce.

P.P.S. – A Cheesesteak does not count. It’s its own beast.

P.P.P.S. – The meatball wedge DOES count. It’s my blog and I said so. Yes – it’s correctly called a WEDGE!


Sunday Sillies – Manly Man Edition

For the men in pursuit of manly cuisine, I give you….




Manly Man BBQ Tools

Photo Credit: Think Geek

(Now you can guarantee that nobody’s gonna put their grimy paws on your steak!


Tomorrow (04 October) is National Taco Day

My friend Taylor nearly went apoplectic at the thought of Taco Day being omitted from my post about Fun Things to Celebrate in October.

It was actually there, but I couldn’t manage to put the dates in chronological order.  So THANK YOU TAYLOR because otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed until some time later on in the month and that would have sucked big time.

This is my favorite taco recipe – Shrimp Tacos with Citrus Slaw.  Seriously, I’d eat them every night of the week.  And I’m making them tomorrow night.  That slaw, by the way, is killer scrumptious and I make batches of it have with all kinds of stuff (like jerk fish tacos or pulled pork tacos or taco tacos).  Forgot one thing – we put pepper jack cheese on them.  Don’t forget the cheese.

So have a taco tomorrow.  It will make a bad day good, and a good day better.

Edited to add – for my lowish-carbing-and/or-not-wheat-eating friends:  they are awesome stuffed into a lettuce cup.


The Spiceman Cometh (because fall is here I guess)

I’m reblogging this because it’s that time of year again. That time of year when I get all twitchy because you know, “the spice that dare not speak it’s name” comes screaming to the foreground of all things culinary. Actually, it slithers in sneakily in the guise of “Pumpkin Spice” Fie on you Pumpkin Spice AKA n****g! Fie I Say!

Wannabe Martha

Some people are upset with Starbucks over their Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Apparently the “pumpkin mix” incudes condensed milk. The “some people” would be vegans. You can see how this would present a bit of a problem. Now, I’m not sure why anyone would actually want to be a vegan, but what I’m really confused over is why anyone wants their coffee infected with pumpkinyness.

I actually like pumpkin stuff – as long as it’s pie or muffins or cookies with cream cheese frosting. OK, Jack-o-Lanterns are fine too, but that’s it. I really don’t understand the all-things-pumpkin craze anymore than I understand the all-things-zucchini obsession.

Really though, it’s the whole “spice” combo that worries me. I’m sort of weird about spices and I harbor suspicions about the actual contents of the pumpkin-pie-spice mix. Mostly I suspect (and fear) that it contains nutmeg. Now, as far as I’m concerned (and have…

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