How to Use this Blog

This blog is designed to be used like a cookbook. I've put tags on each recipe so you can go to the section on that topic just by clicking on the word in the cloud or the list. Some recipes are under more than one category to help you find what you're looking for.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Whipping Cream

 Everyone should keep whipping cream in their fridge all the time.  I mean ALL the time.  

I used to just buy it for special occasions like Christmas or Thanksgiving.  Until one magical day it was served to me with my coffee and I happened to know the waitress who told me later they always used whipping cream for their coffee service since they kept it on hand anyway.  Life got so much better that day.  I have kept whipping cream on hand ever since and life is so much easier. Without really gaining weight.  

Here is why you should have whipping cream on hand at all times:

1.  Yes, for your coffee in the morning.  If you have to wake up, it might as well be pleasant.


2.  Chocolate Sauce:

Equal parts dark chocolate chips and whipping cream heated together in the microwave.....It's that easy.  I usually pour about 2 ounces into a tiny jar. Then empty the jar into something else.  Then fill the jar to the same level with whipping cream and put in microwave for about 40 seconds until it starts to boil.  Take out immediately.  Add the chips into the heated cream and stir until the chips are melted and the mixture is silky smooth.  Voila!  You have hot fudge sauce.  Actually you have Chocolate Ganache.  Pour in top of ice cream.  Or a cake if you make enough.


3.  you might want to make a random Pavlova if you have some extra eggs laying around.

And this is where having hens comes in handy.  When my magnificient and unforgettable best neighbor of all time Alisa moved in next door she brought with her a flock of not just chickens but children, goats and dogs.  The dogs and children would worm their way into my heart never to leave; the children, sadly left physically soon enough but the dogs are still here long after the family exited for the West.  And the love of chickens has also stayed.

Alisa taught me that chickens are far easier than one might think.  You buy a few chick at the store when they are young and adorable.  If you are seasoned you will get pullets.  Those who elect to get the cheaper straight run learn soon enough that they will end up with more roosters than they need nor want and roosters are more trouble than they are worth.  

Hens, on the other hand, will provide you with more eggs than you can handle.  When I had six roaming my yard I had them named and I knew their personalities.  My favorite was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, so named because I watched her fight off a snake in the hen house.  Lettie was snow white and named for the Rowlett  High School eagle mascot.  Six chickens gave me more eggs per day than I knew what to do with.  After giving away about a dozen eggs a week I took to making every dish I could find that required eggs.  Creme Brulee was a good one.  Here is today's recipe for a sure winner and surprisingly easy:  AND you need whipping cream.


Here is the one I made last week

and here is the one I bought at my favorite cafe in Winnsboro

where I loved to sit with the Dallas Morning News on Saturday mornings


4 egg whites (not a trace of yolk)

1/2 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup a whole cup of sugar in all

1 teaspoon vanilla  or almond extract

Parchment paper laid out on a big sheet pan


.....I run the sugar through the blender to make it super fine. I think it makes the whites beat up fuller but I'm not sure

to make sure you don't get any yolk in the whites I separate each egg one at a time then put it aside into a master bowl.  This way any mistake with a yolk is confined to just that egg instead of contaminating the whole batch of eggs.

Make sure the beaters and bowl are super clean.  Any oil will keep it from beating up fluffy.

Beat the whites with the first half cup of sugar and extract until fluffy.  fold in the other half of the sugar until just combined.  Don't over mix.

People will tell you to draw circles onto the paper but I just spoon the mix onto the sheet and make a depression in the middle.  Be delicate.  The less you move the mixture around the better.

Cook at 210-220 degrees for about 2 hours.  It will be crisp on the outside and soft inside.  It might stick to the paper.  Cook a bit longer if so. Lower the temperature if you notice it browning.

*** Now the magic happens:

When it is cool. (And you can freeze them and keep them for days. maybe weeks.) 

When it is cool, layer each pavlova with whipping cream, strawberries then top with a tiny spoonful of blueberry preserves. Or real blueberries if you have them.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

La Pitchoune: The Food

I intended to rush right in and tell you all about our experience cooking in Julia Child's house but I've been very busy back home cooking.  I had no idea what an effect the week would have on my actual life.  

The first thing Makenna had shown us how to cook was Julia's iconic omelet: the dish that had made her famous, the most simple and basic egg dish yet most exotic of ways to cook an egg.  So easy that I can tell you right now in about three sentences:  scramble two eggs in a bowl, heat a pan until it's really hot, add a large amount of butter, then over high heat add the eggs.  Swirl the eggs around in the pan until they gather in the center and cook together until they're almost done, finally swirling and gathering up until the final gathering you gather one third of the eggs in a folding motion and fold them over onto themself like an envelope.  The final lap of this ballet involves folding the egg onto the plate in a motion that folds it into the final envelope as you plate it onto the plate.  There are, of course, myriads of YouTube videos to show you how to do this.  

Back home, I had already perfected this technique and played with it a little bit more and soon tired of it but something else happened.  It revived my interest in eggs for breakfast in a new way. After a couple of weeks I have to admit I grew tired of omelets and reverted to scrambled eggs.  However, that time I had bought some locally grown and butchered pork sausage from a friend who practices regenerative farming.  I had been looking for the kind of pork sausage from my childhood without success until Stout Creek Farm hit the Winnsboro Market.  And I can now enjoy sausage with the old-fashioned flavor I grew up with.  So, breakfast for me now instead of a French omelet is a scrambled eggs sandwich with a couple of sausage patties. And, instead of the bad rap sausage got in years past, I'm enjoying more protein in the morning and feeling more energy.

The one thing the trip did for me was remind me that good eating was also healthy eating.  And a trip to my local Farmers Market was every bit as easy at the trip the French cooking school had taken us on to Cannes. Because that's the first thing they did our second morning at cooking school. 

In Cannes, they divided us up into couples and gave each couple fifty Euros with instructions to buy four different vegetables and one fruit for the kitchen. And one selection had to be something we were not familiar with.  I think Elizabeth and I got green beans, asparagus, squash, tomatoes and cantaloupe.  Our mystery vegetable was the squash.  It was round and we had never seen round squash before--had no idea what it was until we got back to the house and Makenna told us what it was. It looked like a Christmas tree ornament to me. 

By the time we returned to La Pitchoune our bounty ended up as a magnificent display fit for a magazine cover.  In my case I turned it into the background for my phone.  

This ended up being the vegetables we drew from to cook with for the week. 

But also, the trip to the Cannes market inspired me to resume my Saturday trips to the local Farmers Market.  And to enjoy cooking again.

The other thing the school did was remind me to relax and take my time.  To just think about what I'm doing while I'm cooking. To taste as I go. The Slow Food Movement may have started in Italy but it's really a very European movement now.  The idea of taking your time to savor and immerse your whole self, more than just your thoughts, but your attention, your full attention, your taste buds, almost your soul dedicated to the flavors and textures of the food before you.  

I came home to cook things that weren't actually French, like risotto (which is Italian) and foods that weren't even European like grits.  But I slowed down and put more thought into the process, tasting while I cooked. 

About the second day our main instructor, Kendall, gave us a lesson on egg whites.  We did a couple of things with egg whites.  We made a chocolate mousse and then a cheese souffle.  Each time she had us beat the whites with a whisk by hand-- each person beating her little heart out for all we were worth and then passing the bowl off to the next person in the circle.  This hands-on method allowed us to watch the process develop organically rather than by a mechanical method doing the work for us.  It was like watching a miracle performed before our eyes.  I couldn't say precisely when the miracle occurred but at some point, the eggs transformed from translucent goo into pure white angelic foam.  Even doing it slowly and passing the bowl around the miracle was hard to pin down.  Food really is magical.

We had many different lessons on techniques and foods that a lot of us had never had experiences with.  The first day we explored all the spices in the cupboard and we tasted and smelled spices we'd never seen before. We learned about infusions.  The best example of an infusion is coffee.  Who knew?  After making a milk infusion with about seven spices it went into a scalloped potato dish.  The clear winner was Grains of Paradise and we ended up putting it in everything. It smelled wonderful yet I had never heard of it before.  Turns out it's from Ethiopia.

You can barely make out the Grains of Paradise label on the little bottle on the far left.  Smoked Black Cardamon......Purple striped Garlic.........Black Lime.......Hyssop Thyme.....These were all new to me.

Baked fish........Bone marrow........... roasted lamb.......roasted duck.......We learned about, cooked, deboned, and tasted so many new dishes that I can't  describe each one adequately.  

Some of these foods I may never eat again.  I can't buy a duck at the Walmart back home to roast. So that's never going to happen.  But now I've had the opportunity to see one roasted.  I know how to score the fat on a duck before I cook it and I've seen how quickly it renders in a pan.  I've tasted duck fat.  I've tasted bone marrow.  I watched how gracefully Kendall boned the fish we ate for lunch.  And I do have access to lamb meat at home from a farm that practices regenerative farming so I might buy some lamb and roast it.  These have all been wonderful experiences.  

Of course, it was the experiences. What did I think I was going for?

But it was so much more than just the techniques we learned or the information we gained. Elizabeth and I just had a really good time cooking and eating and having conversation with good people. We met four other women we had never known before.  All the women were veteran cooks and Capri Cafaro (interestingly enough, the only one I don't have a photo of) does cooking shows professionally. 


Our meals would usually be ready late in the evening and by the time we were ready to eat, the table would be set in the living room with beautiful plates and glassware.  There would be a specific wine chosen to complement the evening's meal and even a special non-alcoholic drink for me. It was relaxed but felt fancy.

Kendall or Makenna might join us to explain a few more things about the food then disappear to clean up.  

On our final night while we packed and made our travel arrangements, Kendall cooked an eight-course meal for us that was decadent yet simple: The main course was pigeon, or, as some people might call it, squab, with a rich dark sauce.  Our first courses were foie gras of the duck fat we had rendered earlier in the week, ginger and cherry granita, asparagus,  onion soup, cucumber salad, tiny crushed potatoes topped with caviar, the squab and then finally fruit with a whipping cream topping. 

And then the magic of six strangers with one common interest happened. For the next two hours we talked about every subject there was to talk about. The conversation that started with one woman describing how to cook a traditional Christmas Feast of the Seven Fishes ended up about family dynamics. Another woman gave me her recipe for a pasta she cooks back home and some great stories of working for the church that I could never repeat. 

There is an intimacy in knowing you will probably never see each other again.  Confidences are shared, honesty abounds.  

I had taken a biography on Julia Child to read on the trip but didn't have time to read until I got home.  Now that I've finished it, one paragraph stands out.  

At the end of her life, after her husband and friends had died, Julia made one last trip to close down La Pitchoune and sell it.  Even though a great deal of Mastering the Art of French Cooking had been written there, she had no lingering sentiment over the house.  The house held no draw for her without Paul or Simca.  It was only a building.  It was the people and the experiences inside it that made the house special to her.  And I realized that that is the way I felt about my trip to the famous landmark.  

I had a wonderful time and met some great people.  I'm glad I got to bring those memories home with me.

I went to France to see Julia Child's house.  But it was her people I will remember. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Going to Cooking School: The House

I've never been to a cooking school before.  And certainly I've never been to one that took place inside the home of the famous chef everyone in America loved as much as Julia Child.  We spent most of our first day at the house named "La Pitchoune" (French for "Little Thing") walking around in awe, looking at everything, pondering how they fit into the life of such a dynamic personality.  

The house itself is so very welcoming and relaxing.  It's simple and relaxing, with terra cotta floors that might instantly shatter a wine glass but also bear no grudges and carry no stains, either. It has changed very little since Julia lived there and has only changed hands twice since it was built.  It's painted a Provencial blue-green and cream -- I had to keep reminding myself that we were in Southern France: the area known as Provence, so- yes, the furniture is French Provencial, the real French Provencial.  The house has basically five rooms. There is only the kitchen, a relaxed living room with a dining table and a large sitting area in front of a fireplace, and then the three bedrooms--period.  Any grandeur the house provides comes from its simplicity--and from the use of windows to open the house to the grounds and beauty of the countryside. Also, there were books everywhere we looked.  It was like living inside a library of cookbooks and not just any cookbooks, really interesting ones.  One stack alone had books on such esoteric subjects as Olive Oil, one on Cheese, one on Fish and a book on African cooking. I didn't know which one to read first.

Here is a photo of the common room from one angle showing the counter where the coffee and breakfast food were laid out each morning.  There were bookcases everywhere and where there weren't bookcases the walls had great cabinets that held dishes and china.

Makenna Held and her husband Chris both made little speeches telling us to make the house our own while we were there and not hesitate to poke around and use what was in the cabinets and refrigerator.  They both showed us how to make coffee but I'm afraid it wasn't enough because no one out of the six of us could really figure out the expensive deLonghi espresso machine until around Wednesday or Thursday. It required about six steps of making sure the old grounds were cleared out, the water spout had rinsed, enough new water in it, enough fresh grounds, enough fresh beans, and the electric breaker had not tripped in the old house.  On the first day I finally just cried out in desperation that I was just two damned stupid to deserve a cup of coffee and got a Coke out of the fridge. I intended to take a picture of the coffee maker and failed but I did take a snap of the toaster when I Googled it and found out how much it cost.

This is a SMEG toaster.  They are really special.  Like, REALLY special.  I'm not sure why.  Oh, it's also, not just any Smeg, this one was a Dolce Gabbana Smeg toaster.  And that first morning when I couldn't make the coffee maker work I was able to make toast with it.  But, as soon as I got the toast buttered here came the guy with the pastries and my toast was immediately forgotten:

We ate some meals outside on the patio and some we ate inside at this table.  All six students fit and made a cozy "family" around the table.  I wish I had a better photo of the chandelier over the table. You can see just the bottom portion of it.  Kendall Lane's husband Ross took some of Julia's pots that he found in the kitchen and hung them in a circle in the most magical way that gave ethereal light and beauty to the evening.  

The house wasn't actually owned by Julia and Paul Child, though they paid to have it built in 1965.  After World War II the French became nervous about foreign takeovers so they forbade any type of ownership of property by non-citizens. Instead, Simone Beck, Julia's good friend and co-author of her famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking simply carved out a small section of her own estate and they became neighbors. And Julia only spent a small part of her year living there while she and Simca collaborated on perfecting dishes during the day then eating and relaxing in the evening with their husbands.

As Julia aged and stopped traveling she sold the house to a woman who ran a cooking school (by this time the French laws had changed and she was able to own the house).  Then when that woman put the house on the market Makenna Held purchased it sight unseen.  

Over the last few years Makenna has made a few improvements like adding bathrooms to each bedroom and bringing the 50-year old plumbing up to date.  But she and her husband have kept the house true to the retreat that Julia loved so much.  They picture themselves as curators as much as educators.  Makenna's husband, Chris, in fact, is both librarian and historian. 

Then, to be able to lead the cooking school Makenna attended Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. There she met our main instructor, Kendall Lane, who has been cooking since she was 14.  Kendall's husband rounded out their main faculty as sommelier.  Ross is also the plumber and welder and just about anything else they need.  Most of the time we never saw the guys.  The couple is building a restaurant in an adjacent town and the men spent most of their time overseeing the construction of that.

Anyone who has watched the TV show that gave my daughter the idea to come to this magical place (La Pitchoune; Cooking in France....HBO Max or the Magnolia network) has seen Pilou, the little dog that they say is not their dog but who roams around the neighborhood. Kendal was inclined to leave the kitchen door open ajar and Pilou is used to helping himself to their hospitality.  We had a couple of Pilou sightings but the dog is so small and so old that we really heard him wheezing and snorting more than actually saw him. He would walk in and circle around the kitchen island then walk back out if there were no tasty bits falling from the sky. It was the gray cat, Lulu who captured our hearts.  And we were able to spend time petting her when she wanted us to.  On our last day she showed up with a deep wound on her read end.  When we mentioned it to Kendall she whipped out her phone and within minutes we looked out the window and saw Makenna run by and scoop up the cat with a towel and get in the car and race off.  Everyone was very worried, especially when we heard that the vet declared Lulu needed surgery. She was going to have to spend two weeks at home with Makenna's family........a feral cat who had never been in a car, never been to the vet, never stayed in a house or used a litter box; all of this while wearing a collar.  

Each one of the three bedrooms held a set of twin beds to accommodate the six students they teach each week.  The beds are comfy, the linens are luxurious and the bathroom amenities are the best. It would rank up there with the top hotels. Elizabeth and I were given the guest room across the hall from the kitchen where James Beard usually stayed when he visited.  The master bedroom was at the end of the hall and there was another bedroom next to it.  

We ate most of our meals at the dining table that sat at one end of the living room.  Sometimes we ate outside on the porch in the gracious French climate. 

Then there was the kitchen.  And here is the magic that happened.  The magic of the whole week.  I'll talk about that in my next post.

What started out as an intimidating room --Julia Child's Kitchen!!!-- became OUR kitchen.  

Stay tuned. 

Friday, June 9, 2023

Cooking in France

 Travel ain’t for sissies. I should be sitting in a lounge chair in the sand on the French Riviera right now. Instead I’m at an uncomfortable table drinking forgettable coffee at the substitute airport when apparently the first flight didn’t work out and the people who are hell-bent on filling the planes to overflowing combined our flight with another. And it was only a stroke of luck at the last minute we noticed that our new flight was out of Gatwick airport and not Heathrow. Oops. Mad dash with luggage across London involving an Uber and two train rides proved to be the fastest solution—because trains don’t get stuck in traffic. 

So our original plan for the day exquisitely honed to a perfectly serene arrival in paradise turned into the reality of what travel is in fact:  Travel, boys and girl, is a drudge. It is the art to getting from point A to point B along with fifty thousand other people, none of whom know what they are doing- not even you  

Elizabeth called me over six months ago to say she had found a cooking school on TV that is held in Julia Child’s house in Provence. Did I want to go?

Oh, yeah, did I want to go!  In every way you can think of I wanted to go. Sign me up:  spend time with my oldest daughter that I don’t get to see enough?  Spend time with her alone with no distractions where it’s just us against the world the way it was for the first three years of her life when I was at home all day with her?.  Spend time traveling to my favorite places:  England and France? Where you are surrounded by a delicious mixture of humanity?  Spend time cooking and eating? And last but the absolutely the best part: spend time in Julia’s kitchen.  Sleeping in HER house, the place she perfected coq au vin for Americans to feel French. For four days?  Did I want to go?   Yes, indeedy—sign me up!

But we have to get there first  

By the time we got to the hotel in Nice I was numb. The delicious mixture of humanity had turned into faceless cattle who were just in my way. Pulling my bag upstairs to the second floor (third really because the hotel is a flight up) I didn’t even want to talk to anyone. The customs officer was warning of Romanian pickpockets and I didn’t even care. I was missing an earring and my pockets were filled with receipts and crumpled napkins I stuffed in there when I couldn’t find a trash can  

I had signed us up for separate rooms for these two nights. Elizabeth may have shared my body for nine months but I had a feeling that she and I would both appreciate more space as adults 

Back in the hotel I calmed down and unpacked knowing we had nothing planned for tomorrow   

I can feel myself relax enough to reflect on the best find of the trip so far….the one thing that has brought me such unexpected delight that I have no words to adequately describe it in a way to make you understand. All I can do is show you a picture and a brief description and hope you accept my joy. Out of all the expense and time and trouble of this trip here is what has made it all worthwhile::

This pen. It was part of a packet of freebies in the plane. It measures about 3” and has a cardboard body. It writes perfectly. Fits in my pocket. It’s all I need. No more and no less. Isn’t that just what we’re all looking for if we were really honest??

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Blueberry Dutch Baby


Most of these ingredients I keep on hand except for the blueberries and lemon zest.  The blueberries are usually sold in a quantity that ends up being two cups so I need to buy two lemons.


  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup  whole or 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • the zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting
Maple Syrup


  1. Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a 9- or 10-inch cast iron skillet over low heat on your stovetop. Keep it over low heat while you prepare the batter. 
  2. Melt two tablespoons of the butter in the cast iron skillet, then transfer to a blender. Add the milk, flour, eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest, and blend until smooth. (Do not skip this step — the batter will be lumpy if you do.)
  3. Place the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into the cast iron skillet. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Let the butter melt, add the blueberries, and give the skillet a shake. Immediately pour the batter over the blueberries and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until the pancake is puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.
  4. You might be tempted to open the oven to check on things-especially if your oven glass door is dirty like mine and you can't see.  Resist this temptation and trust your oven temperature.  It will be ready in 15 minutes; no sooner and no later.  If you open the door you run the risk that it will fall and maybe you have invited guests that you want to see the dramatic tall dish that will then fall right before them and not in the depths of your oven.  
  5. Remove pan from the oven, and dust with confectioners sugar, if you wish. Cut and serve immediately with maple syrup. Yes, it will fall.  You have not failed.  And if you can't serve it immediately, that's OK, too.  Hot blueberries can be overwhelming. But nobody is going to want to wait.  This is tasty. 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Orange Mustard Sauce


Here's a easy and flavorful way to dress up a sandwich for something special like a party or just making your lunch seem special.  

Equal parts of Grey Poupon mustard to Orange Marmalade.  Mix them together.  That's it.  No more, no less.  You can spread it on or add to each bite.  Put it on the plate or add to the buffet table in a small bowl.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Cranberry Salsa

This is the color of Christmas.  It makes you glad you live in Texas so you can add jalapeno peppers and cilantro to something this color.  It just LOOKS like Christmas.  And if you're gonna live in Texas this is the thing to eat for Christmas.

And I will caution you to taste as you go.  Don't blindly add a bunch of jalapeno peppers to anything or you will be sorry, especially if you have a bunch of Yankees amateurs eating your stuff.  I also advise against cutting it into coarse chunks.  Really.  As nice as the green color is, you really are in it for the taste more than the color.  You can let the cilantro be your color.  You don't want to abuse your guests.  

In order to do this, I cut the jalapeno separately up in a food processor after cutting out the membrane and seeds, add an orange in while you are processing it (otherwise there's not enough to process one measly little pepper).  Set the pepper and orange aside in a small dish.  

chop the cranberries in a food processor 
one 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries washed.

bunch cilantro  (go slow...chop and add 3/4....taste and see if you want more)
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin and chopped....
juice of 2 limes
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar

after you get everything all mixed together add the jalapeno and start tasting.  

If you don't use all the jalapeno at first, save it and wait until the next day to see if you want to add more.  Sometimes you get a little more brave.  Just remember you can always add more later but you can't take it out once it's in there.

You might even be one of those people to add a second pepper.  Go for it. 

Now, you can add this to a chunk of Cream Cheese or slices of Brie and crackers or whatever else you want.

Merry Christmas.