Since I've been going through vintage photos, I decided to deviate a bit from the food subject of this blog to share a funny story from my childhood. My mom liked practical jokes and I inherited her penchant for playing them...even as a young girl!! 

I had one sister and two brothers. We all played instruments in school as well as taking piano lessons. Music was a huge part of our family life....but that's another story!

This photo was taken about the same time that this practical joke happened. My mom is allergic to pennicillin and had a very bad reaction to it which landed her in bed for an extended time.  Her aunt was an R.N. and came to live with us to care for her.  A bed was moved into our downstairs den so she didn't have to climb stairs and she needed complete bed rest.  This aunt was not a favorite of ours. She had never been married and she was quite eccentric with a strong personality! She was the typical old maid!

This aunt was a very good care taker for my mom, now that I look back, but at the time we resented her so much. She would not allow us into my mom's room to see her and demanded complete silence in the house! It drove us nuts! 

One particular day, Dan and I decided we had had enough and formed a plan to torture her as much as she had tortured us!  We lived in one of those big old two-story homes with a front and back stairway with an upstairs hallway running from one to the other.  It made for great chases through the house! 

We both got out our instruments, I with my flute, and Dan with his french horn.  We went to the front stairway, which had a landing about 6 steps up before turning and going the rest of the way upstairs.  On the count of three, we both blasted our horns as loud as we could...nothing musical...just LOUD , shrill, and L-O-N-G...until we heard her shoes clack-clack-clack as she RUSHED to the front to give us a piece of her mind.  Then, we stopped playing and ran up the stairs to the back stairway, down to the landing which was half way down, and began the whole procedure over again! L-O-U-D and L-O-N-G...until we heard, once again, her shoes clack-clack-clacking.  We stopped, and ran back up to the perch in the front of the house and repeated this again!

I'm not sure how many times we continued this, but she kept up her quest to stop us until my Dad finally hollered at us and told us to quit.  We laughed sooooo hard!

The really funny part is this.  Years later, when we talked about this event with my mom, she said she remembered it vividly, and she was laughing the whole time!!!

There's a Bible verse that says that laughter is like medicine to the soul...well...that day she got the medicine she needed. It really lifted her spirits..and ours!!


I am really lucky to have a lot of old, vintage, black and white photos of family members. I always feel sorry for my friends when they say they don't have childhood pictures like these. They are such treasures! Since this  is a food blog, when I came across this photo recently I thought I'd post it here!

The look on my face is almost identical to the face I made when I got my first Kitchen Aide stand mixer! I don't think I remember getting this gift, other than that the photo is one I've always liked a lot. 




The garden is full and overflowing. We have consistently picked 8-10 eggplants every week for the past few weeks. I've given some away, but have tried to use as many as possible. We have a few favorite eggplant recipes, but I sometimes get bored, or tired of the same old thing. This week my niece Cara, who loves to cook as much as I do, said she had made a dip or spread with roasted eggplant, garlic, and onion and said I should give it a try.

So, today, I used the last of my remaining eggplant to make this recipe. I peeled 6 eggplant, one large onion, and 6 cloves of garlic and placed them in a shallow roasting pan with some kosher salt, cracked pepper, oregano and a drizzle of olive oil. The oven was set at 425 and it took about half an hour until the vegetables were soft enough to pulse into a spread in the food processor. It was so delicious! It seems that no matter what vegetable you roast in the oven, it enhances the flavor and brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetable.

I had pie crusts in the fridge that needed to be used, so I lined a cookie sheet with parchment and placed one pi crust on the sheet and rolled it out a bit. Next, I placed a thick layer of the eggplant spread on the crust, leaving a 2 inch rim of crust. After the eggplant, I added fresh sliced tomatoes, kosher salt, ground pepper, oregano and once again that special touch of an olive oil drizzle. The outside crust was then folded in on itself all the way around and brushed with olive oil. It baked at 400 degrees until it was golden brown. I don't know how long it was, I just kept an eye on it.

To serve with the gallette, I made zucchini fritters. We are still knee deep in zucchini and creativity is necessary! We've been eating these squashes for weeks now. I wish there was some way to spread their harvest out over a month so that we didn't get tired of eating them! While I was frying the fritters, Richard was in the garden getting me some green tomatoes for tomorrow's dinner. I asked for some green tomatoes so we can have fried green tomatoes. We love them! What did he bring in with him??? You guessed it! ZUCCHINI!! I can't get ahead of them.

Tomorrow's dinner menu? Fried green tomatoes, brown rice, and zucchini with tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices, and chorizo.

Our favorite zucchini recipes?

zucchini bread
zucchini bars with cinnamon frosting
calavasa-a mexican dish served over rice
zucchini veg. chowder
zucchini fritters
zucchini cooked with lots of onions and tomatoes--simple but OH so good!
fried zucchini



Blueberry Raspberry Jam

My niece, Cara, has made this jam the past couple of years. After telling me about it, and hearing how delicious is was, I decided to give it a try. Sometimes in the past, when I made jam it turned out runny.  It's very disappointing to have that happen, since 'jamming' is not cheap.  This recipe calls for 5 1/2 cups of sugar, plus one quart each of blueberries, and red raspberries. 

I just finished making it and it turned out just great. After making it, it's then canned in a hot water bath for 10 minutes so that it will keep over the winter months on the pantry shelf, although, it's so delicious, I'm afraid it won't last that long!  The recipe is from our favorite cookbook- Simply In Season.  I've mentioned the book before and most likely will again. The recipes are very down to earth with regular ingredients.  You might be able to check it out at a local library if you want to take a look.



Oven dried tomatoes are a treat like nothing else in the world!  The flavor of these tomatoes after they've been dried is so intense and sweet, you will not find words to describe their flavor. I make them to freeze for winter use. Over a year ago, we decided to forgo purchasing fresh (oxymoron) tomatoes in the produce section of the grocer when they were not in season. We eat a lot of salads, and I knew we would miss tomatoes on our salads, but what we did not miss was that tasteless, cardboardy feeling in your mouth from the tomatoes you get in the store in February! I make these tomatoes and freeze them and use them in salads, on bruschetta, and in pasta and pizza dishes through the winter.  I don't think I could freeze too many of them. We just love them.  I hope you will give them a try! It's easy to do, and the results are absolutely phenomenal!!

STEP 1 - Gather your tomatoes! These were from our garden, but they are plentiful at every Farmer's Market. You can use red and yellow cherry type tomatoes, or Roma plum type. 

STEP 2- Slice the tomatoes in half. If you are using Roma  tomatoes, you may want to slice in thirds. You don't need to, but they may dry faster that way.  Place them on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper. I save the paper and reuse several times.

STEP 3- Thinly slice garlic to place on top of tomatoe slices.  Make sure each tomatoe has garlic on it. Top with a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
This is how they will look before you place them in your oven!

Bake at 200 degrees for about 4 hours. If you are drying Roma tomatoes it may take an additional hour or so.  You will know when they are done by the way they look. They'll be brown and shriveled. Don't let them get too dark. It's better if they are a bit less dry. 

Fresh from the oven.  Let them cool a bit, then place in freezer container.



The Yoder Family Picnic Cooler

The Stebbins Family Drink Cooler

If you remember I said I was going to post about picnics.  I have a new picnic recipe I wanted to try and was planning on taking a picture of it to post. Unfortunately, the day we planned to picnic, it was stormy and we had to cancel our plans! I'll be sure to show a picture at a later date.

When I asked Richard if he had picnic memories he said he had one very vivid memory. His grandmother would always make "Grape Lemonade" for picnics and brought it in a cooler similar to this blue one.  We couldn't find an exact replica of her cooler, but he said this was close.  She would make fresh squeezed lemonade and then add grape Kool-aide to it. I was suprised they had Kool-Aide that long ago and he said he wasn't sure if it was Kool-Aide that she used, but that as far as he knew it was.  He always looked forward to that drink.  It was a wonderful, hot weather treat.

The red plaid cooler is the exactly like the cooler we had when I was growing up.  We took picnics quite often during the summer months. Many times it was at a nearby park, but it was always special.  I remember my mom making fried chicken for our picnics and we also always had Ballreich's potato chips! Sliced cheese, deviled eggs, and pickles were also regular parts of our picnics as well as homemade bologna meat spread on white bread. My mom had an old meat grinder that attached to the kitchen table that she used to grind up bologna and add mayonnaise and pickle relish to it and make sandwiches from.  I now have the same meat grinder and every so often I make this spread. Richard and Cole both love it for sandwiches. It's certainly nothing I would ever miss if I never ate it again, but they enjoy it occasionally. 

There were many years that we had the lawn game called 'Jarts' which two plastic rings which were placed 20 feet of so apart, and some pretty dangerous looking darts that you threw into the ring targets! I think they finally banned them for their danger-osity, but it was easy to transport to a park. We also played a lot of croquet, although we never took it with us on a picnic. This yard game was only enjoyed in the back yard when we ate outdoors. 

I remember one particular Chicken BBQ. The date was July 2nd or 3rd. My mom was grilling chicken and she went into labor with my youngest brother, Lamont. She went into the house during the cooking and before long my dad came outdoors and announced they were going to the hospital. The chicken, as I remember, never got finished. I think, since I was 13, my parents left us at home with me in charge. Lamont was born later that night.

For some reason, our kids have always pretty much detested eating outdoors. I always looked forward to the picnic season, then I finally realized that they hated it! I got tired of the complaing about the bugs so we just quit doing it. Now that they are all on their own (well, one still hanging around some) I intend to revisit the picnic routine.  We were fortunate to be given a gorgeous Longaberger picnic basket complete with eating utensils. It's been such a VERY hot summer, we haven't picniced but I know as soon as it cools off a bit, we will be enjoying some picnics. I can't wait!  I'll be sure to share some pictures and recipes.



Once upon a time there were two eggplants, the delicate Carmen and next to her, growing on another plant was Fabio.  As they grew, they became close friends and the thought of being seperated was more than either of them could endure.  So, in an effort to remain together, every day as the sun shone on them, they leaned as far toward each other as they could and gradually their stems became one.  A marraige made in heaven!!

I have never seen an eggplant like this and it humored me! They are small, but somehow it just seemed that they wanted to be together! I thought you might like to see a picture of the young lovers.

These days we are eating a lot of eggplant. Two days ago, harvesting resulted in 9 eggplant! Some of them are small but they are all gorgeous. I love the color and shine of them, and the taste is one of my favorites.  It always reminds me of summer and the farmer's market. Eggplant has an earthy, meaty flavor. Meaty in the sense that it is a flavor that packs a punch! If you've never tried it, I hope you will.  You won't be disappointed. Here is a great way to use eggplant in your cooking.

Roasted Garden Vegetables

Heat oven to 425. 
 On a sheet pan, mix together 1 small eggplant, cut in large dice, along with 1 diced green pepper,
1 sliced red onion, 1 cup chopped fresh basil, 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley,
2 TBS. chopped oregano, 2 cloves garlic minced, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 TBS of red wine vinegar. 
 Sprinkle mixture with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
 along with 1/2 c. pitted kalamata olives.
Bake for  about 20 minutes.
In a blender, roughly puree 2 pounds diced plum tomatoes, seeds removed along with 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes.
Add to the vegetable mixture along with 1 TBS red wine vinegar and continue baking for
another hour, stirring occasionally until vegetables are very tender. 
Serve at room temperature alone or with your favorite pasta

In the background of the picture at the top, you will see one of my favorite cookbooks. It's called The Italian Farmer's Table. It's a cookbook, but so much more! It's about agritourismo in Italy.  The Italian government made a way for farmer's to make an income from their working farms by allowing them to open their farms to tourists and serve food fresh from their farms and opening their homes to overnight guests. 

 There are many of these little farms across Italy.  Agritourism is alive in Italy. It would be a dream to visit there and see these farms in action! The book features numerous farms along with wonderful information about each farm and the people who run them. Recipes are included in the book and the pictures will WOW you!



I just finished watching the DVD No Impact Man. You should run to your local library and check it out!

DID YOU KNOW: the average piece of food travels 1500 miles from farm to plate
DID YOU KNOW: meat eating is responsible for more greenhouse gases than anything else including tranportation

These are good reasons to support your local farmers and farmer's markets. Eating locally and in season is sensible and responsible. If you are concerned about the environment, this is one way YOU can have an impact.

Don't even get me started on the damage PLASTICS has on the environment. That's for another time. I hope today you will think of ways that your food consumption can impact the environment and the world and people around you in a positive way!



Steamed baby green beans, grilled eggplant with cheddar, fresh garden salad, and warm blueberry muffins! It's not fancy food, it's not gourmet food, but the tastes and smells were just delightful! I could eat green beans like this every day of the year. They are so succulent. Theses were the last pick of our garden beans...so sad!!

The eggplant was the first of our pick this year. I sliced then salted lightly and set in a strainer for about an hour. This draws any bitterness out of the eggplant. I then marinated them in a small amount of Italian dressing before grilling. The picture makes one of the slices look almost burned, but I like them dark so it was my choice. After they were sufficiently grilled on both sides, I place a thin slice of sharp cheddar cheese on each piece and the residual heat melted the cheese onto the slice of eggplant. They were so delicious. I love the rich, dark flavor of grilled eggplant. To me, it's the taste of a farmer's market in summertime!!

The salad was mixed field greens and baby arugla, along with garden tomatoes, green peppers, tomatoes, red onions and a few mushrooms. The only dressing necessary was a squeeze of a lemon wedge and a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, with a careful sprinkle of sea salt! So fresh tasting, and really good for you!

The muffin is the my husband's grandfather's recipe. He was a baker! This is such an easy recipe and makes the lightest most succulent muffins ever. They are great as plain muffins, but when blueberries are in season, oh my! The recipe calls for 1 c. but I had about 1 1/2 c. on hand so I threw in the extras making the muffins so moist and blueberrilicious! You don't need butter on these to enjoy them. Of course, Richard loaded his with butter, but I ate mine plain. How is that? The person who is skinny loads it with butter! SO not fair! It's really a 'mind' thing because you don't miss the butter, especially if you eat them when they are still warm and the berry juices are oozing out!

Eating meatless is not a sacrifice. I don't miss meat...and you wouldn't either if you put a little effort into creating a meal designed around food that is fresh and in season. It makes all the difference in flavors!

Quick White Muffins
2 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/3 c. oil
1 c. milk
(for Blueberry muffins at 1 c. blueberries and decrease milk to 3/4 c.)
Mix ingredients together and place in greased tins. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Don't overbake.
When making berry muffins, add berries after dough is mixed thoroughly.
Yield: 1 dozen muffins



Richard came in from the garden this week bearing gifts. I was so excited to see our first shallots! This brought back a memory from my childhood. My mom was a great cook. My dad was a great gardener. We didn't eat much gourmet food-it was mostly food from my parent's German background.
We ate 'mush' almost weekly. My mom would make it fresh in the morning and my dad would eat it with sugar and milk, like a hot cereal. It was good, but not my favorite. She would chill the leftovers then slice and fry it for fried mush. It was served with pancake syrup and was very, very delicious! It was unusual to have fried mush because there weren't often leftovers!

If you asked people today what 'mush' is they might say something like "what you say to your dogs pulling your dog sled". Today it's called 'polenta' and it's a very popular food dish served by most gourmet cooks. It's not used as a breakfast dish, but rather as an entree with fancy sauces or accompaniments. It always makes me laugh when some chef makes it sound like polenta is the 'new' discovery on the food scene! Yeah, right...about 50 years ago!!!

The other food item that is popular on the current cooking scene is 'shallots'. Once again, this is an item that I grew up with. Under our kitchen sink there was a bucket and it always had 'multipliers' in it. At least, that's what my parents called them. My dad grew them in the garden, and we had enough to last us through the year, and he would then take some of the bulbs and plant them for the new season. Who knew that these little light purple onions were gourmet?

This year we planted shallots for the first time and they are doings so well! Richard brought in the first ones this past week. The picture above shows what was harvested from only 2 bulbs!! You can see why my dad called them 'multipliers'! I'm sure if he was still alive and I told him we grew shallots he would just look at us with that funny face he made! It would be the same look that he would use if I asked him if he wanted some polenta!
Last night for dinner I cooked Zucchini Garden Chowder from the Simply In Season cookbook. It was absolutely delicious! We just loved it. If you don't have this cookbook, you should at least check it out at your local library. It 's divided into sections by the seasons and the recipes coordinate with the food items harvested in that particular season. It's probably my favorite cookbook. The recipes are down to earth and I love using produce found either in the garden or at the farmer's market.
Our second picking of green beans is about to happen and the tomatoes are finally coming on strong. I can't wait to start canning tomatoes. It's one of my favorite things to can. I'll also be oven drying as many as possible, then placing in freezer bags for use through the winter. As of last year, we no longer purchase tomatoes that are not IN season. We loved the ones I froze last year, but I didn't do enough andwe ran out by the end of the year, leaving us with bland salads for quite a few months. This year I'll be sure to do more!
Slice the tomatoes, sprinkle with coarse salt, a drizzle of olive oil, and a thin slice of fresh garlic and bake until shriveled and dry. Place in freezer bags and freeze. I bake them at 325. The baking time depends on th size of the tomatoes. If you use small pear or cherry type tomatoes, just cut in half and bake. These take a bit longer because they aren't sliced thin. Another tip is to place the frozen tomatoes in a small jar with olive oil and use it to season and serve on bruchetta or pasta. The tomatoes season the oil if you let them marinate in it for several hours.