Monday, July 25, 2011

Puppies Are Here - Day 7

Day 7 – Oops, sorry for the gap in reportage … I totally ran out of exclamation points! But, look ……I got some more! See!!!!

Anyway, the pups are growing so fast, they have doubled their weight. And some… and I mean YOU Geraldine…. have almost tripled their weight. We call Geraldine “The Closer.” She sucks her tittie dry, then snakes along on her tummy and knocks the competition off their tatas and finishes up whatever is left. She was the “runt” at 12 ounces at birth and now has embarked on a quest for world domination. Gotta admire a girl who knows what she wants….and gets it!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I Need A New List - Part 2

Day 4 - Con’t

Just got back from the Vet where we again received the obvious news that dog’s pant when they are hot! OMG!!! He also reassured us that the dog would calm down and be less anxious in a couple of days. He, however, held out very little hope for me. I feel like an idiot, but a relieved idiot and I’ve made an ass of myself for lesser things. But, I have solemnly promised myself that I will make an effort to leave Roxanne alone to do her thing. I give myself twenty minutes.

Day 5 – Poor Roxanne. We have been adding to her misery without knowing it. The memory foam mattress has been capturing the heat she is generating and she has no way to cool down. It’s just as well, because now the wet goat smell has evolved into a dead goat smell, so the padding has to go. She is happiest with just newspaper and a couple of waterproof mattress pads, so bye-bye memory foam.
So far, Roxie seems to have plenty of milk, but the puppies have almost doubled their weight already. Her poor ole titties are pendulous and look sore as hell. She is at least a 38 quintuple D, which is pretty impressive, but they sag something wicked.

Mike pulled his back today moving the whelping box and, since he couldn’t sleep, he took puppy duty last night. When I woke up he asked me if I wanted to hear a funny story from 3 AM. When I agreed, he said “There are NO funny stories at 3 AM!”

Day 6 – How deeply sad is this? My son, John, offered to babysit the puppies on Monday so Mike and I could go out to lunch or just take a walk and I told him I didn’t think I was ready! Pathetic! When my last baby was born, I brought the baby home from the hospital, plopped the baby in my Mother-in-Law’s lap and went to Stop & Shop for groceries. The baby was John. He was two days old.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Got a Bucket List? I do, and at the very top was “Breed a Litter of Bulldog Pups". On July 1st, after almost 40 years of trying, after about a quarter of a million dollars, lost litters, disappointment, discouragement and lots of tears, Roxanne, the doggy love of my life, gave birth to a litter of 4 female and 1 male English Bulldog puppies. Thus began my nervous breakdown.

DELIVERY – Mike and I are at Dr. Doug Hutchins’ place for Roxanne’s surgery. We are handed seconds old pups to rub, suction and wish to life and I am crying tears of joy and amazement. I am beyond excited except for the echo of an old homily –something about “careful what you wish for…
Something, something,… it will come to me…

Roxie is waking up and wondering “where am I and why are there guinea pigs stuck to my tatas?” …………at home obsessively checking on the puppies, cleaning them, making sure they are still breathing… and that’s just me! Roxanne is almost as bad …….the day is a blur of weighing, feeding, laundry, laundry, …sooo tired, but can’t sleep, can’t sleep..clowns will eat me……….

DAY 2 – Have changed the puppy’s names for the sixteenth time in twelve hours. (perhaps a new World Record?). Roxie is not pleased with “diaper duty”, “You want me to what? … With my tongue?,,, Where?" Patoohey, patoohey, blecch, yuck, um, no! ain’t happening! I’m doing the tummy rubbing, (but decidedly NOT with my tongue) and counting pees and poops – the puppys’ tails are stuck to their butts – with the “New Super Glue”, colostrum poop! …no sleep is happening for any of us, especially Roxanne. She is panting and heaving constantly and is completely obsessed with her pups. She is also laying on the pups, sitting on the pups, and stepping on the pups. Thank God, at least she seems to have milk. Hallelujah! She was panting so hard and so long, we found a guy in Scarborough that breeds Bullys to see if he knew what was going on and he basically said, “It’s the heat, stupid.” So now I feel stupid. STUPID!! But, she still doesn’t cool down even when the temperature drops, so it was an awful day – She (Roxie) hasn’t slept, I haven’t slept, Mike hasn’t slept- NOBODY IS FREAKING SLEEPING. I’m worried about a heart attack. I wonder who will go down first.

Roxanne is devoted to her little family. But, her techniques are, well, lacking. She very carefully lowers herself to feed the pups then sits on a couple of them. If they get under the rail designed to protect them, she tries to scoop them out like an errant tennis ball, and, my personal favorite, when she holds them down to clean their butts (yes, she has finally taken over my favorite job), she puts her paw on their heads and squashes them like cockroaches. Fortunately, we had the foresight to line her box with memory foam from an old mattress topper, so, if she sits on a pup, it sinks. Unfortunately, I completely forgot that puppies pee – a lot-and the foam is beginning to smell like a wet goat.

DAY 3 – Hotter than hell…..humid beyond misery….unbearable, no sleep, Roxanne is panting, panting, panting, - like the tell-tale heart, and...I can’t stand it! I’M HIGH STRUNG, O.K.?

We’re taking Roxanne to the Vet to see if we can do something to calm down her panting (and to see if I can score some Xanax)! Hopefully we can cool her off a bit by bathing her, if it won’t hurt her incision. We’re going to move a small kiddie pool into the office with an air conditioner – which sounds great until I remember that it’s very important to keep the pups toasty warm…… SOMEBODY PLEASE KILL ME1

DAY 4 - Official Names Of The Day …ta da!

The fat chick with the spot on her bum, who we called, um, Spot, is officially:

AGNES MARY (Aggie) for my late Sister. She is a Moose! and an eating and pooping machine. She could, literally, suck the chrome off a bumper.

SHORTY – The only boy, who we cleverly called “Boy”, is now Shorty for my Dad, who was, surprisingly, short! and the other three girls are

PEACHY – who should really be called “Rotunda Sneaker”, a big, big girl with a real future on the East German power lifting team.

SNOOKIE – a name I had first, before that spray tanned, pseudo celebrity cow! Take that New Jersey!! and

GERALDINE - these were all my Peeps when I was a kid, but my memories of Geraldine are my fondest. In spite of the fact that we lived in the worst neighborhood in a city full of bad neighborhoods, my Mother thought I was the next Shirley Temple and dressed me like “a Lady” with ridiculous outfits. Geraldine would hide her outgrown dungarees (jeans for all you whipper-snappers out there that aren’t as old as dirt) so I wouldn’t get the crap beaten out of me at the park. (I really believe this is why I honestly don’t give a fig about what I wear…. Paging Dr. Freud!)

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Um, about that diet.  Let me say in my own defense that before trying to lose 10 pounds, I completely forgot that one of my favorite foods would soon be in season.  Yup, as you have probably guessed, I am completely hooked on … Peeps.  Those crazy chicks began showing up right after I started dieting, and what a harvest!  They’re ubiquitous, abundant, and best of all, cheep.  (I’m very sorry, that just slipped out).

I know that a lot of people consider chocolate bunnies the quintessential Easter treat, but I really have to disagree. 

First of all, be assured that I am a BIG fan of chocolate – dark, not milk,- milk chocolate is for sissies.  In fact, if chocolate were illegal, I would be writing this blog from a jail cell.  And, I will admit to a certain visceral pleasure in biting off the ears of a good quality, preferably Godiva, bunny.  But the Grand Pooh-Ba of Easter candy is Peeps.  Chocolate bunnies and hearts, jellybeans and candy bars can be savored all year.  But, Peeps are a spring crop, like peas, that are gone in a blink, not to be seen again until the next blooming of the daffodils.

I think, however, that Peeps are losing respect due to the proliferation of imported Chilean grown knockoffs.  Genuine, native grown Peeps are not pink chicks or purple rabbits.  They are yellow – they are chicks – that’s all they are!

Also, because homemaking skills aren’t being passed on as in the past, people have forgotten that Peeps, like avocados, must be ripened after purchase.  You have to unwrap them, and, keeping them from the reach of children and dogs, leave them to harden for a month or more until ready to eat.  I start chicking, - oops checking, -  after three weeks, but usually find they still have a little chew dead center.  Peeps are truly ripe when you can snap their little heads off with your teeth, and to me that is a way bigger rush than nibbling a bunny ear.


Easter Babka Bread

This recipe was adapted from my Grandmother’s Babka Bread recipe.  She modified it to be her most used recipe for any sweet treat.  She would leave out the orange zest and candied peel except for Christmas and Easter Babka.  For everyday Babka it was just dark raisins, but for the holidays, always sultanas.

1-1/2 cups milk, scalded
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla
6-1/2 to 7-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 packets instant dissolving dry yeast (4-1/2 teaspoons)
1/3 to 1 cup sultanas (golden raisins) or currants (or combo)
1/2 cup candied orange or lemon peel
* * * * *
2 egg yolks beaten with 2 Tablespoons water
* * * * *
In a large bowl combine scalded milk, butter, sour cream, sugar and salt.  Stir to combine.  When cooled to lukewarm, add the lightly beaten eggs, orange zest and vanilla and stir well.

Add 3 cups flour and sprinkle yeast over flour.  Stir to blend in.  Add remaining flour, one cup at a time, until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and scrape out the bowl.  Lightly oil the bowl and set aside.

Knead the dough, using only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the board.  The dough should be soft and pliable but not sticky.  When dough is smooth and elastic, knead in the sultanas and candied orange peel.

Place the dough into the oiled bowl, turn to oil all surfaces and cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel.  Let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Grease two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans.

Punch down the dough and divide in half and lightly shape each piece into a ball.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes.  Form into rounds.  Place shapes into greased baking pans, loosely cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel and let rise until doubled.

Brush tops with an egg wash and bake at 375º for 30 – 40 minutes or until an internal temperature of 200º F.

Remove from baking pans and place on a rack to cool.
* * * * *
For a printer friendly copy of the Easter Babka Bread recipe visit our web site (

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Little Whine With My Cheese

Would whoever lost 10 pounds over the holidays please come pick them up?  I found them between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, and they’re starting to get in my way.

Every year it’s the same old same old.  I make serious and fervent vows not to gain pounds over the holidays – then I do.  I make even more seriously serious vows to lose them – then I don’t.  Even if I manage to lose most of it, I still hang on to a couple of pounds and bring them with me, like an uninvited guest, to next years holiday festivities.  Lets see…. two or three pounds multiplied by 20 years equals…Holy Buttcheeks, Batman!

I’m only five feet tall (and shrinking as we speak).  An extra 10 pounds looks like 20 and an extra 20 pounds looks like - never mind!  I know from sad experience that the high protein-low carb, low-carb-high protein, cabbage soup, grapefruit and all the other “miracle diets” don’t work for me.  And, I really do understand the concept of calories in – calories out.  However, my life revolves around food.  I love teaching about it, writing about it, preparing it and eating it with equal fervor.  Kidding myself into believing I’m going to forego most of my favorites is just wishful thinking. 

But, since I’m already collecting Social Security and I’m diabetic, it’s time to get on a diet pony that I can actually ride.  So, in honor of the new year, I’ve devised a radical weight loss program.  I call it “The Public Humiliation Diet”.  It’s the first week of January now and my birthday is in the first week of April.  I’ll confess my current weight at the end of my blog and report my weight loss on my birthday.  If I don’t lose at least 10 pounds, you get to say Na Na  NaNaNa.  I’ve also asked Mike if he would be willing to join my in this very public venture and share his weight with you.  He said “Fat Chance!”  What do you suppose he meant by that? 

P.S. I have resolved that this is the year I purge a lot of “stuff” out of the house,
and one of the things that has to go is the package of lady fingers that I purchased in early August and have been reporting on for months.  The lady fingers are still fine, although a little less springy than a couple of weeks ago, and it’s clear that they, along with a few cockroaches, will still be around after the apocalypse, so I’m, sadly, letting them go to the big dumpster in the sky.  Farewell, ladyfingers.  I’ll miss you!

My current weight is 145 pounds. 

The next recipe is a dish we serve for lunch at class at the Stone Turtle Baking and Cooking School and has been requested by hoards and hoards of people.  O.K., two.  Anyway, it’s really yummy and it’s also vegetarian and low fat.  Enjoy.

                                            Moroccan Vegetable Stew

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 large leek, white and light green parts, cleaned and chopped
2 ribs celery, 1/2-inch slice
1 fennel bulb, cored and medium chopped
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably olive oil
2 quarts vegetable broth, homemade or packaged
3 carrots, 1/2-inch slice
1 cup turnip or parsnip, 1/2-inch cube
1 28 ounce can chopped or diced tomatoes with juice
2 medium potatoes, 1/2-inch cube
1 or 2 zucchini, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, 1/2-inch slice
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots or golden raisins
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried or 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon Ras El Hanout *See note 1 below
1 heaping teaspoon dry Harissa or 1 teaspoon paste Harissa *See note 1 below
Salt and pepper to taste
Roux to suit *See note 2 below

In a large pot, over medium heat, sweat onion, leek, celery and fennel in the oil until soft, but not browned.  Add vegetable broth and simmer for 5 or 10 minutes.  Add carrots, turnip or parsnip, tomatoes and potatoes.  Simmer until veggies are just tender, about 10 or 15 minutes.  Add zucchini, raisins or apricots, herbs and spices and cook until zucchini is just tender, 5 or 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste and thicken to desired consistency with roux.

Note 1:
Ras El Hanout and Harissa are key Moroccan spices.  We get ours on-line from
Zamouri Spices.  They are a great on-line site for fresh spices from around the world, particularly North African and Middle Eastern spices.  We use their Ras el Hanout and Harissa (both dry and paste) extensively.  It’s also a source for Nigella seed (Charnushka on Russian Black Bread).

We understand that there’s a new spice company in Maine - Gryffon Ridge Spice Merchants.  They are from Dresden, Maine and have a space at the Brunswick Winter Market on 14 Maine Street (the Fort Andross Mill complex).  We hope to visit them soon.

Note 2:
1 pound butter
1 pound unbleached all-purpose flour (about 3-1/2 cups)

In a wide, flat-bottomed pot or frying pan, slowly melt the butter.  Do not brown.  Slowly add the flour, stirring until smooth and lump free.  Stir constantly until its a light tan color and smells a little nutty.  Spread on a rimmed cookie sheet to about 1/4 inch thick.  (It doesn’t have to go all the way to the edge).  Refrigerate until solid, then cut into pieces about 2 inches by 2 inches.  Put in a plastic bag in your fridge.  It will keep for months and can be used to thicken soups, stews, gravy and sauces.  

A printer friendly version of this recipe can be found on our web site at

Sunday, December 20, 2009


It’s 8A.M. Christmas morning.  Everyone wakes up in a happy mood, gathers around the kitchen table for a leisurely breakfast, then, while carols play softly in he background, gifts are exchanged, opened slowly and admired by one and all.  HA!

Unless you’re Martha Stewart, you are probably explaining to a heartbroken three year old why Santa forgot to leave a present for her kitty, trying to find an emergency vet for your dog, Bubba, who thought the Christmas ornaments looked delicious (we still refer to that Christmas as the year of the festive poop), or frantically trying to thaw a twenty pound frozen turkey in the bathtub.  Kids, big and small, are shouting and tearing into presents, the tree has an ominous tilt and no one can find Aunt Tilley’s gift (or Aunt Tilley for that matter).

Now, our kids are grown, their kids are grown and getting everyone together at the same time on Christmas is impossible.  A quiet, civilized Christmas breakfast ain’t gonna happen.  So here’s how we keep the troops fed and keep our sanity (everything is relative!).

We don’t have a staff, ala Martha, so we do one main breakfast dish that keeps O.K. on a warming tray.  The rest of the food is buffet style and can be left out for a couple of hours without killing anyone.  We do a huge fruit salad, slice up some ham and put out Mike’s famous cinnamon buns.  We feed our bulldog, Roxanne, and give her a chew toy to keep her from mooching (No, this does not actually work).

We don’t do a huge Polish Christmas Eve dinner anymore, so we try to include a couple of things to reflect the family’s heritage, - perogi for Mike, and anything boiled or overcooked for me.  And, most important of all, we enjoy our kids and grandkids whenever they arrive for as long as they stay and when they leave, we take a nap.

So my best advice is – relax!  Do whatever makes for a calm and stress free Christmas for your family, even if that means instant cocoa and donut holes.  You can always cook up a spectacular feast for New Year’s Eve.

* * * * *

One of the real pleasures of visiting Blue Hill, Maine was staying with Flossie and Kendall when they ran a B&B.  At one extended family gathering Flossie served up what has become our favorite large gathering breakfast dish.

Serves 8
2 cups herbed croutons or stuffing mix OR 6 slices fresh bread (crust removed) and 2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 TBSP butter, softened
1 lb bulk sausage (or more)
1 cup chopped mushrooms (optional) OR 2 cups diced onion & pepper mixture OR some of everything
2 TBSP butter
3 TBSP flour
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese or a mix of cheeses
8 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Grease a 10x14-inch baking dish with 1 TBSP butter.  Sprinkle crouton/bread over the bottom of the buttered baking dish.

Cook sausage, drain and sprinkle over the croutons/bread.

Sauté mushrooms (or onion/pepper mixture) using 1 TBSP butter and set aside.

Melt 2 TBSP butter, stir in flour until smooth.  Cook 10 minutes over low to medium-low heat; roux should be very pale.  Add half-and-half slowly; stir constantly until a smooth sauce is formed.  If sauce appears to have lumps, pour through a strainer.  Remove from heat and add dry mustard, salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in mushrooms (or onion/pepper mixture) and 1 1/2 cups of cheese.  Set aside to cool.

Beat eggs.  Mix into cooled sauce.  Pour over sausage and croutons/bread, sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated cheese.  Cover and refrigerate overnight if using dried croutons/stuffing mix or at least 1 hour if using fresh bread.

Pre-heat oven to 350º F.  If casserole was refrigerated overnight, bring casserole to room temperature for 1 hour before baking.

Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until eggs are set.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

* * * * *

Sandy has been making these cookies for as long as we’ve had kids and one year Christmas was almost a disaster – we couldn’t find the recipe.  Finally, the day before Christmas it appeared and in the midst of wrapping presents we HAD to make these.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/4 cups sifted unbleached, all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups ground walnuts (as fine as possible)

Butter Cream Frosting

Cream butter, sugar, salt and vanilla together.  Blend in flour and ground walnuts.  Form into a ball and refrigerate for about a half hour. 

Pre-heat oven to 350° F.

Divide dough in half and roll out to about 1/4-inch and cut with a small cookie or biscuit cutter - we use a small oval cutter (1 X 1-1/2-inches), think bite-size.

Bake on ungreased baking sheets at 350° F for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned.  Cool on racks.

Put together impairs with butter cream frosting and decorate top with a swirl of frosting.
* * * * *
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

A printer friendly version of these recipes can be found on our web site at

Monday, November 23, 2009


Ah, Thanksgiving is upon us.  It brings back so many memories of the holiday celebration when I was a kid…… Autumn leaves, pumpkins, football games and EEEK…….  Mom’s turkey!  I don’t want to disparage my mother’s culinary skills, but when I hear the term, “Mom’s home cooking,” a little shiver goes up my spine.  My mom, bless her, had many good qualities, not least of which was her wicked sense of humor, but pumpkin pie, turkey or anything that took place at or near a stove, had disaster written all over it.  Here’s the sad thing……. she had no clue that cooking wasn’t her biggest talent and went about making Thanksgiving dinner with a gusto and zeal that you just had to admire.  The results, however, not so much.

A turkey, according to Mom, needed to be cooked in a covered roasting pan for a very loooong time.  She would start the bird the evening before, cook it all night, then all morning, then……… well, you get the idea.

At dinner she would proudly exclaim over the fact that the turkey was so tender, “it’s falling off the bone”, while the family mournfully stared at a bare turkey carcass with bits of stringy meat piled around it.  The gravy went perfectly with the turkey.  One year, my sister Aggie got into big trouble when, in answer to Mom’s question, “Would you like some gravy?” answered, “Sure, I’ll have a lump!”

Now, many years later, the turkey is perfect, the gravy lump free and my memories of Thanksgiving are viewed through the soft lens of time.  Somehow, magically, they seem as sweet as Mom’s apple pie.

So, here’s wishing all five of you that follow my blog a bountiful and blessed Thanksgiving day.  For a special treat, I’m leaving you with my mom’s secret technique for roasting turkey.  Just Kidding!

Instead, I’m sharing a new family tradition, … my son John’s recipe for his justifiably famous Thee Mushroom Cream Soup.  It’s awesome.  Enjoy.

P.S.  The package of ladyfingers that I bought in early August and left on my microwave oven are doing beautifully!  No mold, no signs of age, and still as soft as a baby’s bottom.  I don’t know about you, but that scares the living bejeebers out of me.


Our son, John, has been making this soup for us since his days cooking at the Mystic Hilton in Mystic, CT

1 or 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, white and light green only, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, sliced thin
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch scallions - white and 1 or 2 inches of green, sliced
1 Tablespoon ginger, minced
8 ounces shitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced
8 ounces crimini (baby bella) or button mushrooms, sliced
6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Pepper, to taste
Soy sauce, to taste

Soak porcini mushrooms in hot tap water (enough to cover mushrooms) for 10 to 15 minutes, strain through cheesecloth or paper towels and chop mushrooms.  Set aside mushroom liquid.

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add leek, carrots and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, scallions and ginger and cook an additional minute.  Add shitake and crimini mushrooms and cook until mushrooms give up their liquid and start to take on color, about 5 or 6 minutes.  Add porcini mushrooms and reserved mushroom liquid.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.  Add heavy cream and heat, but do not boil the soup.  Add soy sauce and pepper to taste.