Sunday, December 19, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Free and Easy Water for Your Plants

Monday Morning Post

It has been so hot here at Cheesecake Farms that my garden is bone dry. I've been trying to keep up it watered but whatever water I put on my plants seems to evaporate as fast as I spray it on.

Mulching, of course, is always recommended to keep moisture in but it's been so hot and dry that doesn't seem to help much. About the best I can do is keep the bird bath full so at least the birds can get a drink and splash their feathers.

If you have a run off spout from your air conditioner, it's a good place to pick up some extra (and free) water to keep your plants and hanging baskets watered. Simply stick a bucket under the drain spout and let your AC system do the work. You can expect 5 or 6 gallons of water per day from the average 3 bed room house AC system. If your spout is high enough off the ground, you could put a rain barrel underneath.

This is run off water so use it only for your plants. It's not good for drinking or giving to pets.

So keep cool. Let's hope it rains soon!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's Fish on the Grill for A Festive (and extra healthy) 4th of July

Monday Morning Post

Burgers and steaks are traditional cook out fare but this July 4th why not start your own revolution and throw fish on the grill.

Fish lights up the sky with good health and explodes with good taste.

So let the fireworks begin right on the grill.

Grilled Honey Glazed Tuna and Fresh Greens Salad
So elegant and so unexpected for a 4th of July celebration. Delicious with salmon, too.

Makes 4 servings
280 calories per serving

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste - optional)
4 (5 oz) fresh tuna steaks (each about 3/4 inch thick)
8 cups mixed baby greens (mesclun)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes (cut in half)

Combine honey, soy sauce, oil and red pepper (if desired). Remove 2 tablespoons of mixture to brush on fish. Set aside remaining mixture to use as salad dressing.

Heat grill to medium (gas or coals). Grease grill rack.

When ready to cook, rinse fish under tepid running water. Drain. Pat dry with paper towels. Brush one side of fish with reserved 2 tablespoons honey mixture. Place brushed mixture side down on grill. Brush top of fish with remaining mixture.

Grill, covered, until fish flakes easily - about 6 minutes.

To serve: Pile greens and tomatoes on serving dishes. Slice hot, grilled fish on the diagonal and arrange on greens. Drizzle reserved dressing over all.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Details Make the Dish

Monday Morning Post

Getting a meal on the table in today's fast paced world is a lot different than in grandma's day when soups and stews that simmered for hours were the back bone of daily cuisine.

In our search for quick, we've come to think volume of food instead of complexity of taste. Volume never satisfies hunger. It's the complexity of taste that satiates the palate. Complexity of taste is the romance of old fashioned cooking.


Marvelous Old Fashioned Chicken Fricassee

This recipe is long but it's easy so don't get scared away.
It's long because I give you a lot of detail.

It doesn't take much time to make but save it for a Saturday night supper or Sunday dinner (is there still such as thing?) when you don't feel rushed.
The details should not be hurried or glossed over.
It's the detail that makes the dish.

Here's what I mean:
The chicken pieces, for example, are frequently turned as they cook to baste them in their warm butter bath. Skip the turning and your chicken will still taste good but the complexity of flavor will be missing.

Reducing the sauce instead of thickening it with cornstarch or flour is another example.
By evaporating the water, you're creating a concentration of flavor waiting to explode on the tongue. The bit of cream or evaporated milk that is added to the reduced sauce collects all the flavors and binds them together. Marvelous!

Don't be tempted, by the way, to call this chicken stew.
The term stew means the chicken has been cooked in liquid from the beginning.
Fricassee (pronounced frick-ca-sea) means the chicken has been sauted in butter before the liquid is added yielding a more complex taste.
Stew is good but fricassee is better.

Serves 4 to 6
Pan size not important but a deep, 12 inch skillet or pot with a lid works best
Serve over cooked rice or noodles

2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken thighs or breasts (see Karla's tip 1 below)
1 carrot (about 6 inches long - peeled)
1 stalk celery (about 8 inches long - strings removed see Karla's tip 2 below)
1 small to medium onion
8 tablespoons butter (divided)
3 tablespoon all purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup medium sweet white wine (like Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Viognier or a blend)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves (or 2 tablespoons dried)
1 small bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
1/2 cup heavy cream, light cream or evaporated milk
1 (2 oz) jar chopped pimentos (drained) or 1/2 a fire roasted pepper, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
8 oz white mushrooms
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash chicken well under tepid running water. Drain. Dry with paper towels.

Finely chop carrot, celery and onion. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in pan. Add the chopped vegetables. Cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, over low heat till slightly soft - about 5 minutes. Do not brown.

Push vegetables to the side of the pan. Raise temperature to medium. Add chicken, skin side down. Cook, uncovered and turning the pieces every 3 or 4 minutes, until chicken has firmed slightly and is an opaque white - about 12 minutes. Tongs work well for turning. Also 2 spoons, on in each hand. Do not pierce chicken with a fork to turn. You'll loose the juice.

After chicken has firmed, reduce heat to low, cover pan and cook 10 minutes more.

Remove lid. Sprinkle 1/2 the flour over the chicken. Turn the pieces. Sprinkle the remaining flour over the chicken and turn pieces again. Replace cover. Cook 5 minutes more turning pieces once.

Heat stock to boiling and pour over chicken. Add wine and herbs. Replace cover. Simmer until chicken is cooked - about 30 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, wash mushrooms and drain. Cut mushrooms in half or, if large, in quarters. Put water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons butter into a small skillet. Bring to a boil on high. Add mushrooms. Partially cover pan and cook on high till mushrooms have release their juice and are soft - about 5 minutes. Set aside.

When chicken is done, remove it to a serving platter with sides and keep warm.

Drain the mushroom cooking broth into the chicken broth. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat and let it boil until it's reduced to about 2 cups.

Whisk in cream or milk, drained pimentos and cooked mushrooms. Continue reducing sauce, if desired, until it becomes the thickness you like. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

Karla's tip 1:
Use thighs or breasts but, for even cooking, not at the same time.

Karla's tip 2:
Break the stalk in half. You'll see the strings because they will prevent the stalk from completely breaking. Grab the strings with your fingers and pull them down the length of the stalk to remove. Discard.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sprucing Up Your Kitchen Will Sell Your House Faster

Monday Morning Post

Thinking of selling your home?

Spruce up your kitchen.
Here's how:

• Know your buyer
The kitchen should reflect the character of the house and the type of people who are likely to live there.

• Think like a buyer - not like a seller
Spruce up - don't remodel.
Add lots of perceived value to your kitchen without spending much money.

• Use popular brands
When replacing appliances, GE, Amana, Frigidair or other familiar brands are the best choices. People know these brands and trust them.

• Choose neutral colors
Walls - white, off white or bone.
Counter tops - white or natural stone colors.
Floors - natural stone or brick color.
Appliances - white.

• Fix the floor
Sheet vinyl has more perceived value that vinyl tile squares. Steer clear of exotics and green flooring for most homes. You won't be able to recoup their high price tags.

• Light'n up
New lights and ceiling fans give lots of impact for very little money.

• Clean and Declutter
Remove personal things from the kitchen and get rid of the mess.
Move the cat litter or box of dog toys into the garage or laundry room.
Keep the inside of the refrigerator clean, fresh smelling and organized.
Treat the kitchen to new curtains and a potted green plant.

• Create the scent of home
For added selling oomph, throw a few cinnamon sticks into a small pot of water and simmer it on the stove until your kitchen smells like you just baked a pie.
The home-y scent will make your home sell quicker. Really!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

See Us In Hobby Farm Home Magazine

Monday Morning Post

Have you seen the July/August issure of Hobby Farm Home magazine?

It's hot off the presses and we're featured on page 8!!

It's all about our bed and breakfast (actually bed, barn and breakfast) and we're thrilled!!

Hobby Farm Home magazine is available at Borders, Lowes and places like that. It's also on line but as of this morning, the current issure has not been put up yet.

They printed a copy of my very easy, no canning required, fresh peach preserves on their web site - here's the link:

Even grandma would be impressed!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Monday Morning Post

Has it really been a month since I last blogged?
Where does the time go?

We've been working like mad to get some new rooms ready at our B&B which, by the way, was one of my better ideas. We've been full every weekend since we've opened - with the exception of that Jan/Feb snow storm marathon we had here in Virginia.

My birthday was in March and I celebrated the beginning of a new decade with my Master Gardener class. It was my turn to bring the snacks so I made it a birthday party complete with hats, horns and wine.

I made a sandwich torte that looked like a fancy cake (you can't have a party without a cake now can you?) but it was actually a sandwich that had 3 fillings - tuna salad, egg salad and (my favorite)pimento cheese. Instead of icing, it was frosted in cream cheese.

So many people asked for the recipe that I thought I'd post it here. You might like it, too. It's easy but will wow the socks off your gourmet-est pal.

Happy Monday!

PS. I'll try to blog more often - like weekly.

Karla's Continental Sandwich Torte
The recipe is long but don't let that scare you. It's easy. A crisp green salad makes this a lovely luncheon entrée.

Serves 8 to 10
At least 3 hours of chilling required.
Can be made 24 hours in advance.

8 slices whole wheat or white bread (soft texture Pullman or square loaves work best but any loaf shaped bread will do)
1 stick (approximately) very soft (but not melted) butter (margarine not recommended)
1 recipe tuna salad (recipe follows)
1 (7 to 8 oz) container, purchased, thick pimento cheese spread (see Karla's tip below)
1 recipe egg salad (recipe follows)
2 (8oz) packages regular cream cheese
1 tablespoon milk
1 (4 oz) jar chopped pimentos (well drained)
3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (approximately)
Optional garnish: parsley, mint leaves and cherry tomatoes

Cut the crusts off the bread slices. Discard crusts or save for another use.

Layer 1
Put 2 slices, end to end, on your serving platter. Spread tops lightly but completely with butter. (The butter keeps the bread from getting soggy.) Cover with tuna salad, spreading evenly to cover bread completely.

Layer 2
Spread two more slices of bread with butter and place on the tuna, buttered side down against the tuna. Butter the top side of the bread slices. Spread with pimento cheese.

Layer 3
Butter 2 more slices of bread and place on the pimento cheese, buttered side down against the cheese. Butter the top side of the bread slices. Spread with egg salad. Butter the last 2 bread slices and place butter side down against the egg salad. Spread any remaining butter on top of the slices and then, if any butter remains, on the sides. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours before frosting.

Using a heavy duty electric mixer, beat cream cheese until softened. Add milk on low. On high, beat mixture till fluffy - about 3 minutes. (You can add a drop or two more milk if necessary for a creamy - frosting like texture.)

Spread about half the cream cheese mixture evenly on sides and top of torte. Press parmesan cheese on sides. (A metal spatula works well.) Spoon pimentos over top.
Pipe decorative top boarder around pimentos using a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip. Garnish with parsley or mint leaves and cherry tomatoes, if desired.
Refrigerate with a piece of plastic wrap lightly draped over the torte until serving time - up to 24 hours.

Karla's tips:
Every bread surface that touches a filling gets buttered. The butter keeps the bread from getting soggy.

Pimento cheese spread soft and runny? Stir in shredded cheddar cheese until it's thick and spread-able.

Filling Recipes

Tuna Salad
6 to 8 oz tuna (well drained)
1/4 cup pickle relish (well drained)
1/2 a Vidalia or red onion, finely chopped (3 to 4 tablespoons)
1/4 cup mayonnaise, Miracle Whip or a combination (or to taste but not too runny)

Stir together.

Egg Salad
3 to 4 large or extra large hard cooked eggs, peeled
2 teaspoons mustard (any type)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise, Miracle Whip or combination (to taste but not too soft)

Coarsely mash eggs using a fork. Fold in remaining ingredients.

Pimento Cheese Spread
Purchased. If very soft or runny, add shredded cheddar cheese till mixture is firms and is and spread-able.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Health Nuts

Monday Morning Post

Add nuts to your everyday diet and you'll be adding healthy (and delicious) dose of good health.

Brazils - One nut provides all the selenium you need in a day.

Cashews - Lots of protein and fiber. Rich in monounsaturated fat, potassium, B vitamins and folate.

Hazelnuts (also called Filberts) - Mega amounts of antioxidants - right up there with dark chocolate, red wine and concord grape juice.

Macadamias - Highest nut source of monounsaturated (good) fats.

Pecans - High fiber. Helps prevent gall stones, promotes prostrate health, and is said to aid in weight loss.

Peanuts - Not really a nut (actually a legume) but normally thought of as such. Highest protein content of any nut. Helps diabetics manage blood sugar levels and as an aid in weight loss.

Pistachios - Delay the empting of the stomach offering long term blood sugar control. Also a good source of plant sterols.

Walnuts - Rich in alpha-linolenic acid which promotes bone health, assists in diabetes management and weight control. Reduces breast tumor growth. Enhances brain and motor functions.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Plant a Mojito Garden

Monday Morning Post

A mojito (pronounced moe -he-toe) is a classic, Cuban, summer time cocktail that mixes fresh, garden mint with feisty rum and a smidge of lime - a kick off your shoes, relax on the porch concoction.

A few mint plants will keep you supplied all summer long. And, since mint is a perennial, you only have to plant it once. It will come back year after year to remind you that it's mojito time again!

How to Plant Mint

Mint is invasive. That means left unchecked, it will take over.

That's great if you have a large space and think of mint as a ground cover. But if your space is small, mint will crowd out other plants.

With a little thought and planning, mint can be contained and still grow abundantly in your garden.

Here's two ways to control mint before you plant:

1. Edge the Bed
Dig a trench around your mint bed that's 6 inches deep. Position a barrier in the trench that's at least 8 inches tall and back fill. You'll have 6 inches of the barrier under ground and 2 inches above ground as an edging.

The roots won't be able to grow past the barrier so the mint won't spread. Choose a barrier that won't decompose or break down easily. Rot resistant wood, plastic or composite are the best choices.

2. Plant in a Pot
Repot your mint plant into a container that's as wide in diameter as you want your mint patch to be and at least 6 inches deep.

Dig a hole in the garden that's a little bit bigger all around than your pot of mint. Put the whole thing (container and all) into the hole and back fill leaving at least 1 inch of the pot above ground as an edging. Mulch to hide the pot rim. As the mint grows, it will spread to the pot barrier and no farther.

The pot stays in the ground year round so choose a pot that won't decompose or break down easily like heavy plastic. Be sure the pot has a drain hole in the bottom but don't worry about roots that will eventually grow out of the bottom spreading your mint. They'll be too deep.


The Classic Cuban Mojito

Makes 1 drink

2 sprigs fresh mint (about 12 leaves)
1 tablespoon sugar
Juice of 1/2 a lime (about 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 oz light (white) rum
Club soda
Garnish - fresh mint sprig and wedge of lime

In a bar shaker, muddle (crush) mint leaves and sugar. Stir in lime juice and rum. Pour into a tall glass that's been filled with crushed ice. Fill glass with club soda. Stir. Garnish with a lime wedge and sprig of mint.


Mexican Mojito - use tequila instead of rum
Dirty Mojito - use spiced rum and brown sugar instead of plain rum and white sugar
Apple Mojito - add a splash of apple liqueur along with the rum

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fresh Fruit Stuffed Chocolate Easter Egg

Monday Morning Post

Can an extravagant Easter dessert be easy, healthy and yummy?

A big YES!

Dark chocolate is health food of the year - couple that with fresh, ripe juicey fruit and you have a sweet treat to tickle everyone's taste buds. Gluten free, too!

Just coat an egg shaped candy mold with melted chocolate and stuff it with fresh fruit. So easy to make and so easy on the budget.

Fresh fruit, 9 inch tarts, sell for as much as $32.00 in fancy pastry shops in our area!
You can make this for less - a lot less.

Serves 4-6
Uses a 3 cup egg shaped candy mold

3/4 cup dark or semi sweet chocolate chips or discs (not unsweetened chocolate)
1/2 stick butter (margarine not recommended)
3 cups (approximately) fresh fruit salad or sliced strawberries
2-4 tablespoons brandy, rum or framboise (optional)
Whipped cream (optional garnish)

Put chocolate into a heat safe container then cut butter randomly over top. Microwave in 30 second intervals until chocolate is almost melted. Do not over heat. Stir smooth.

Pour melted mixture into mold and swirl to coat evenly. (If chocolate slips down mold and doesn't stick, it's too hot. Let it cool a minute or so and try again.) Refrigerate 20 minutes to completely chill.

Fill chilled chocolate shell with fruit. Drizzle fruit with liquor, if desired.

Invert onto plate with a rim to catch juices. Remove mold. Refrigerate until serving time - up to 3 hours.

To cut, dip the tip of a sharp knife into the chocolate to break the shell then cut down and watch the fruit salad spill out. Scoop onto a plate for serving. Don't expect neat slices.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Honey and Water Moisturizer - Healthier Than Commercial Cosmetics (and cheaper, too!)

Your body absorbs almost all of what you put on your skin, nails and hair - so why would you slather yourself in things you wouldn't (or shouldn't) eat?

Honey is a healthy, natural product that does more than sweeten your tea.

Since biblical times, honey has been used as a fabulous facial moisturizer.

A drop or two is all you need to plump up and heal your skin.

After cleansing, wet your face with comfortably warm water.
Dab one or two drops of raw honey on your face. (Don't use more. You want to be moist - not sticky.)

With your finger tips, message the honey and water all over your face. Use a clean, thirst towel to lightly blot off the excess water.

Watch your skin slowly develop a radiance as it drinks in the nutrients and healing that honey provides. It will feel baby soft, too.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Loaded Nachos are Super for the Super Bowl

With the Super Bowl just around the corner, you're going to need lots of yummy snacks.

Nachos are as important to Super Bowl dining as the mushroom soup - green bean casserole is to Thanksgiving.

Everyone has a favorite nacho recipe but here's one more to add to your collection.

It's extra easy and you can mix or match the ingredients however you like. Start by putting a layer of restaurant style tortilla chips in the bottom of your pan then the sky's the limit!

Think nachos are fattening?

Well, they are but you can minimumize the damage by using baked tortilla chips instead of the traditional fried kind. With all the toppings, your taste buds will never know the difference.

Other tricks:

Skip the refried beans (they're loaded with fat) and use plain, mashed beans.

Instead of prepared guacamole, mash fresh, ripe avocados and mix with lemon juice until you reach the consistency you like.

Use real sour cream - not fat free or reduced fat. OK, real sour cream has a lot of fat but a little goes a long way in adding good taste and creamy-ness that the fat free or reduced fat can't match. Also, fat free or reduced fat sour cream are higher in carbs.

Pump up the volume of your nachos by adding a low cal vegetable to the mix - like lightly steamed broccoli, zucchini, carrots, corn or yellow squash. Shredded lettuce works well, too, to lighten the caloric load.

Love cheese? 
Use an easy melting cheese like Velveeta. It melts better so it goes farther and tastes cheesy-ier than cheddar which means you'll actually need less for the same taste effect.


Loaded Nachos

All ingredients are approximate. Add more or less according to your taste.
Don't like a particular ingredient?  Leave it out.

Make sure you have plates and forks for these nachos.

Makes 1 (9 X 13 inch) pan


1/2 (13.5 oz) bag restaurant style tortilla chips

1/2 pound ground beef (or vegetarian ground beef - cooked, drained and crumbled) or sausage

1 (16 oz) jar marinated artichokes (drained, reserving juice)

2 (15 to 16 oz) can light red kidney beans (drained, rinsed and drained again)

1 cup corn (fresh and cut from the cob, frozen and thawed or canned and drained)

1 (28 oz) can petite diced tomatoes (drained)

1/4 cup pickled jalapeno pepper rings and 2 tablespoons juice (to taste - optional)

8 oz sour cream (reduced fat or fat free not recommended)

3 to 4 oz easy melting cheese (like Velveeta - cut into 3/8 inch cubes)


2 ripe avocados

1/4 cup lemon juice (bottled is OK)

2 cups shredded ice berg lettuce

1/2 cup ranch dressing (or to taste)

1 (2 .25) can sliced black olives (drained)

Position oven rack so nachos will bake in center. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat pan with cooking spray.
Place a layer of tortilla chips into the pan. Top with ground beef.

Mash beans and mix with juice from the marinated artichokes until it makes a consistency similar to refried beans. Dollop mixture over beef.

Top with artichokes (and any remaining juice), corn, drained tomatoes, and if desired, optional pickled jalapeno rings with juice.

Dollop sour cream over all. Sprinkle cheese over top. Bake in a preheated oven about 20 minutes or until mixture is hot. (Chips will not feel hot.)

While nachos are heating, cut avocado. Remove pit and scoop out pulp. Mash pulp with a fork and mix with lemon juice.

When nachos are hot, remove from oven. Dollop with avocado mixture and sprinkle with lettuce. Drizzle rach dressing over all and sprinkle with olives. Serve hot.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Soup Is Good Food

Monday Morning Post  for 1-18-10

Making a Roux

A roux (pronounced roo) is a flour and butter paste that's used for thickening soups, sauces and gravies.

By mixing the flour and butter together, the butter is able to surround the flour particles preventing them from forming lumps when liquid is added. A roux is most often made with butter but can also be made with oil, bacon fat, beef drippings, chicken fat or a combination.

Not all soups are made with a roux but many are and using a roux as the basis of a soup is one of the easiest ways to turn plain milk or broth into cream of what-ever-you-like soup.

You'll use this same technique to make cream sauces and cheese sauces, too. Using a roux as a thickener is a much nicer tasting method of thickening than just mixing flour or cornstarch into water.

Carrot - Ginger Soup

For a bistro touch, spoon 1 tablespoon cream into the center of each portion. Insert the tip of a knife into cream and gently swirl to create a pattern on top of the soup.

Serves 4 -6

3 carrots (each about 6 inches long X 1 inch in diameter - peeled and cut into 1/2 inch circles)

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or to taste)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour (all purpose or whole wheat)

3/4 cup milk (whole or 2%)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1/4 cup orange juice

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Garnish - finely shredded zest of 1 orange

Simmer carrots in broth (partially cover the pot) until soft - about 10 minutes. Cool slightly then puree carrots and broth together. Set aside.

In another pot, make a roux by melting the butter and whisking in the flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in pureed carrot broth then milk, ginger and orange juice. Thin, if desired, with additional broth. Heat to steaming. Do not boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with finely shredded orange zest.

Cook's tip: Boiling the soup may cause it to curdle. If this happens, just puree soup again.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It Only Takes A Minute To Make A Fancy Schmancy Mousse

Monday Morning Post for 1-11-10

White chocolate is a scrumptious thing. It should start to melt the instant it meets your tongue, leaving, perhaps a bit of melted chocolate on your finger tips.  As the flavor begins to explode, your eyes will gently close and the sound of "mmm" will be heard as your head gently tilts to one side.  You may also sigh as your chest ever so briefly collapses.

Don't waste your calories on white chocolate that is not scrumptious.

Minute Mousse


Makes 4 (1/4 cup) servings
(Just enough to tease the palate.   Add a few home made, plain butter cookies if you'd like.)
PS. Don't waste this on the kiddies.


3 ozs. white chocolate (chips, bar or blocks)
3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream (divided)

Put white chocolate and 1 tablespoon cream into a heat safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals until almost melted. Remove from microwave and stir to finish melting. Do not over heat. Cool to room temperature. Do not allow it to set or harden.

Beat remaining cream until soft peaks form. Do not over beat.

Take a dollop of the whipped cream and whisk it into the cooled chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining cream being careful not to deflate the cream.

Spoon into dessert dishes or demi tasse cups. Refrigerate at least an hour to completely chill and set. Longer is better.

Karla's tips:
Always heat white chocolate for less time than you think. If it's over heated, it will suddenly thicken, get grainy and burn without warning. Over heated white chocolate can not be repaired or salvaged. It must be thrown out.

Over beating heavy cream turns it into butter - but you knew that.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Kick Your Cuisine Up A Notch With Easy, Vegetarian Stock

Monday Morning Post for 1-04-10

Good Morning and Happy New Year!

Having watched Julie & Julia for the umpteen-th time (is that a word?) this past week (and loving every minute of it!), I've begun wondering, like Julie, if anyone is actually reading my blog. I'm hoping you are!

In this past week between Christmas and New Years, I've been in the kitchen cooking up old recipes I once thought too complicated to make. To my surprise, my taste buds exploded with the results. I was in heaven!

Spending a whole day making a French Apple Tart (heavy with cream and butter) is not a recipe I'll make very often but for that brief moment between Christmas and New Years, it was like being a child again in the kitchen with grandma - all warm and snuggly and safe from the world.

On the lighter side, one of the things I discovered is a very delicious, very easy and relatively quick, vegetarian stock.

So, if you've been using vegetable bouillon cubes and water when ever a recipe calls for broth or stock, kick your cuisine up a notch with home made.

It's easier (and cheaper) than you think. Just 3 vegetables and some salt yield great flavor.

12 cups tap water
2 cups peeled, diced fresh parsnips (white carrots)
2 cups peeled, diced yellow onion (regular cooking onion)
2 cups peeled, diced potato (any type)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt (don't skimp on the salt or use a substitute)

Put all the ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to a boil on high. Remove cover. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer, uncovered, 40 minutes. Remove from heat and cool with the veggies still in the broth.

Remove veggies from cooled broth and save for another use or discard.

Refrigerate stock until needed for a recipe - up to 3 days.

For longer storage, freeze in recipe size portions - generally 1 to 2 cups or whatever size you use most often. Stock keeps frozen up to 6 months.

Use this wonderful vegetable stock whenever stock or broth is called for in a recipe - even if they call for meat, chicken or fish stock.

Makes a great base for soup, too.

PS. This stock does not gel when refrigerated like animal or fish stocks do. If you need a stock that gels (like if you're making aspic), add vegetarian gelatin to it according to package directions.

PPS. Don't delete or use less salt. The salt draws the flavor out of the vegetables and, besides, this is way less salt than you're getting from veggie cubes or commercially prepared broth or stock. And be sure to use Kosher salt. It is pure salt and has no additives so the broth with have a fresh, true taste and a clear, lovely color.

PPSS. What's the difference between stock & broth?
Broth is lighter in taste. Stock is heavier and richer. But for all practical purposes, they are basically the same and are used interchangeably.