According to Jim, it’s Pretty Good Soup

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Now, admittedly, I do follow some recipes for a lot of dishes I prepare,  but soups and stews are very forgiving foods to make, very flexible and a great way to use up those bits and pieces that don't seem to have anywhere else to go. And most of these creations are dubbed by Jim as being "Pretty Good Soup." This is high praise indeed, and I always know there won't be much leftover when I hear those words floating on the air.   So, today's venture:  Outside of a few minor chores, I spent much of today reading, but when this afternoon rolled around, I knew I wanted to come up with something warm and savory for supper, since Jim was spending a good deal of the day outside dealing with some hefty chores in the cold Northern Michigan air. (We are preparing for our first major snowfall that is expected tomorrow night, and he was 'battening down the hatches.")  When I checked the refrigerator looking for supper inspiration, I found a few slices of fairly lean bacon, some sliced mushrooms and a couple cups of leftover beef broth, and that was enough to get things going. I started by chopping the bacon into large pieces and threw them into a pot to brown and render their fat. While the bacon fried, I took a couple of minutes to roughly chop some onion and a handful of potatoes. Once the bacon was browned, I tossed in the onion for a few minutes, threw in the mushrooms for a bit longer, then tossed in the potatoes, letting it all cook together for a couple minutes more. … {Read on...}

Yooper Pasties

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Okay.  Now those of my readers who are Yoopers (specifically) or Michiganders (generally)  will know exactly what I'm saying.  Those of you who don't have kith or kin in either Michigan or Cornwall might need a little explanation.  The pasties of which I speak are pronounced 'PASS- tees'.  The ones you're probably thinking about are pronounced 'PAY- steeze'.  My pasties are handheld meat pies and not little adhesive backed 'modesty' panels worn over, well, you know what.  So from now on, each time I type 'pasties', please think the correct pronunciation, k?  That way I don't have to blush every time you read it. And also for those of you not from Michigan, I should probably toss in a few other definitions: Yooper:  A resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. U.P.:  A widely used acronym for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Well, heck, you'd get tired of typing out Upper Peninsula of Michigan every time too, eh? Big Mac:  A nickname for the Mackinac Bridge; the 5 mile long suspension bridge that links the U.P. to the lower Peninsula. Trolls:  Residents of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.  Get it?  They live under a bridge? Summer:  Two months of bad snowshoeing.   But back to the food... Pasties are a Yooper (and Cornish) specialty.  The Cornish miners that came over to the Upper Peninsula during the golden era of iron and copper mining brought the pasty with them as part of their homeland's cuisine.  Owing partly to it's convenient, … {Read on...}

$100 Giveaway is Extended Until Sunday evening!

Update:  You still have 48 hours to leave a comment to enter our $100 giveaway! (And tell 75 of your closest friends to leave a comment, too.  Good Grief!  Can't we give away money?)  You have until 5:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, October 26th.  Click here to hop over to our 100th post and leave a comment to be entered in the drawing…  Good luck!   We want to give away as much as possible, and to do that, we need to have at least 100 unique commentors on the 100th post! So if you have not yet made a comment, or if you know of someone who might be interested in a chance at this giveaway, let them know and get your comments in place. This is the only extension we will be making, so the Sunday deadline is firm!  Come get your gift certificate!  As a reminder, here are the details:   To celebrate our 100th post, we want to get 100 commenters to leave comments.  To encourage all of our readers (we know you're lurking there...) to comment, we're offering a performance based giveaway.  For each 25 unique commenters on our pasty post, we'll add another $25 to a gift certificate up to $100.  So!  If we get 25 commenters, the gift certificate will be for $25.  If we get 50, it'll be for $50.  For 75 commenters, $75 and so on up to $100.  The gift certificate will be for Amazon.com, Williams-Sonoma, King Arthur's Baker's Catalogue or Cooking.com- the winner will get to choose!   There are only three requirements for entry into the drawing:   You can't be related to Val … {Read on...}

Blueberry Cobbler

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I meant to post this a while ago, but life got in the way. I'm getting ready to repeat this particular dessert in a couple of days with some frozen berries, and remembered that I had never gotten around to sharing this with you all. So here 'tis!   A few weeks ago, Jim picked what appeared to be the last of the berries in the patches near us at camp. He ended up with a good couple of cups of black raspberries and a handful of wild blueberries.     (Aren't they purty?) We ate a few of them as is, but the rest went into a very simple berry cobbler, taken from Jane Brody's Good Food Book, which I purchased several years ago. It could not be simpler to make, and is fairly quick to whip together for a quick dessert or treat to share with unexpected guests.  I usually make it with frozen blueberries or with a frozen triple berry mix (blackberries, raspberries and blueberries are the favorites).  It's especially good served warm with a small scoop (or two!) of vanilla ice cream on the side. (I know, I keep putting the ice cream in there...)   Blueberry Cobbler   From Jane Brody's Good Food Book     2/3 c. all purpose flour 1/2 c. sugar 1 1/2 t. baking powder 1/4 t. salt 2/3 c. skim milk (I use whatever is on hand) 2 T. butter, melted 2 c. blueberries (I use fresh or frozen)   1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the milk, and mix the batter until it is smooth. 2. … {Read on...}

Pumpkin Spice Cake

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Update:  You still have 1 day to leave a comment to enter our $100 giveaway! (And tell 75 of your closest friends to leave a comment, too.  Good Grief!  Can't we give away money?)  You have until 3:00p.m. EST on Friday, October 24th.  Click here to hop over to our 100th post and leave a comment to be entered in the drawing…  Good luck!     As you can see from all the comfort food recipes Val and I have been posting, it's more than just officially fall: It's actually cold!  When it's chilly outdoors my oven does overtime baking duty.  That might be why I've already burned through three baking ignitors in the oven since I bought it five years ago.  (Or it might just be that I bought an oven that was less than capable of putting in the miles I require of it.)   When we finally get the weather I crave we're also seeing storage potatoes, onions, rutabagas, greens and all sorts of winter squashes at my local farmer's market.  The winter squashes -butternut, acorn, Hubbard, turban, and pumpkins to name a few- are my favorite food of the season.  They get a bum rap for difficulty in the kitchen.  I think that's owing to the fact that most people don't think in terms of brute mutilation of the squash:  They daintily jab at the big beasties with inadequately sized knives of dubious sharpness.  It's not their fault that they've just never been taught the easy way around a squash.  I will now remedy that with the full set of instructions on how to open a hard winter … {Read on...}