Posts Tagged ‘recipes’


My neighbors gave me olives from their tree.  I LOVE black olives, so I set about curing them. I used a recipe given to me by a friend, but I revised it a little bit.

First, make two deep cuts in each olive–all the way to the pit. I made my cuts one on each side.

Soak them in a brine of 1/4 cup salt to two cups of water.

IMPORTANT: Use kosher salt, pickling salt or sea salt. Don’t use iodized or plain salt.

Make sure the olives are completely covered with brine.

Stir a little bit each day.

Change the brine every week.

Taste after three weeks to see if the bitterness is gone. This time I soaked mine for four weeks.

When the bitterness is gone, rinse the olives in water and pack in jars. The recipe my friend gave me called for packing them with garlic, lemon, and spices, but I like the beautiful olive taste so I didn’t add these. I used about a tablespoon of salt, one part water and one part vinegar per jar. I think next time I’ll use a little less vinegar, although as the olives age, the vinegar taste mellows a bit.

Top each jar with about 1/2 inch of olive oil. Turn the jars upside down.

After a week, turn them right side up.

Try not to eat them all in one sitting. (It’s hard!)


(Quick update on the olive recipe–I found that adding an additional tablespoon of salt and the juice of half a lemon to each jar improved the taste immeasurably. And to be honest, there aren’t many left 🙂


Read Full Post »

Fall has arrived–a blessed relief to those of us who dwell in the desert. While I will miss the long days of summer, I won’t miss the heat.

In honor of autumn, I decided to make a cake! I love a simple chocolate cake, without any icing.

Here is my mom’s recipe with some additional comments by me.


Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cups flour

1 tsp each baking soda and salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup shortening [I used butter]

2 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup hot black coffee

Grease pans, dust with cocoa. [I use a single 9″ x 11″ glass baking pan.] Set aside.

Mix together flour, soda and salt. Set aside.

Dissolve cocoa in coffee. Set aside.

Cream shortening and sugar well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and coffee in 3 equal portions [each] to creamed mixture, ending with coffee and beating well [100 strokes] after each addition.

Bake at 350 degrees until done [center springs back after being pressed lightly or wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean].


I make cake the old fashioned way, mixing everything by hand with a wooden spoon, counting the strokes.

My mom was never fond of cooking, but I loved baking from the very start. We didn’t have a rubber spatula and I remember the first time I ever saw one–at my neighbor’s house. I was enamored of the spatula’s efficiency in getting every bit of batter out of the bowl. But I felt sorry for my neighbor (my best friend)–there was no batter left to be scooped up and licked from an index finger.

That was my first lesson in the cost of efficiency.

Read Full Post »

Here’s a recipe I invented for a refreshing late summer salad.

Apple Cucumber Melon Salad

Use equal parts:

Honeydew (or similar green or white) Melon

Cut into chunks.

Mix and dress with plain yogurt mixed (or vinegar) with a splash of lemon or lime juice and a pinch of sugar.

Top with peanuts or fresh mint, if desired.

This salad was made with melon and cucumber from the garden, homemade goat’s milk yogurt, lemon juice from a neighbor’s gift of lemons, and garnished with garden mint. Maybe next year the apple will be from my little orchard, too.

Read Full Post »

This is the time of year when eggplant is abundant in the garden. There was a time when I had so much eggplant I couldn’t give it away. Suddenly friends’ schedules were full and they wouldn’t have time to see me until after the first freeze.

No more!

My friend Carolina saved me by sharing her grandmother’s recipe. Now none of us can have too much eggplant. This recipe preserves the eggplant and it is terrifically delicious!

Carolina has kindly given permission for me to post her grandmother’s recipe here:


Carolina’s Beautiful Eggplant Recipe

If the eggplants are bitter, cut them and spread salt on them; that’ll extract the bitter juice.

Rinse them with water.

Boil them in 1/2 water+1/2 vinegar until they’re tender (but don’t let them puree)

Prepare a sauce which has 1 measure of oregano, 1 of chopped garlic, 1of red peppers (dry), 1 of olive oil (approx. 1 spoon of each/eggplant).

Get a glass jar, put a piece of eggplant, a little sauce, a piece of eggplant, a little sauce . . . and so on.

When you’re done, add oil to cover them all.

Let them macerate [in the refrigerator] for at least 4 days.

They’ll last forever!

Read Full Post »

summertime beverages

It’s hot and you’re thirsty. Here are some ideas for summertime beverages that cost only pennies and will invigorate body & spirit.

If you’ve been working outside, add some salt to your lemonade and drink it up. If you’ve worked up a real sweat, you’ll know how much salt to add because just the right amount of salt will taste good !

If you don’t have any lemon juice, you can make a refreshing beverage using apple cider vinegar instead. Dilute with water as you would for lemonade and add sugar &/or salt to taste.

What’s better than cold mint tea on a summer’s day? All it takes is fresh mint from the garden and some boiling water. For extra zing, I like to add a sprig of rosemary to the brew. Sweeten to taste, add ice & serve.

It’s great to have a variety of iced teas in the refrigerator, but there isn’t much room in there. So, I make concentrated tea (and coffee) and store it in quart jars. When I want a cold drink, I simply dilute it to taste.

Happy sipping!

Read Full Post »

easy pasta noodles

Part of my plan for simple living involves growing as much of my food as possible and preparing food from scratch. My plan not only saves gas and driving time, but it assures that I enjoy the freshest food possible. I keep a supply of what I consider essentials on hand, things like semolina flour and eggs. These days I always have fresh tomatoes in a bowl on the counter.

Inevitably I think of pasta.

Here’s my simple method for making fresh pasta noodles:

For each serving, put one egg in a bowl. Add semolina flour until the dough is no longer sticky but not too dry. It will probably take less than 1 cup of flour for each egg, depending on the size of the eggs, the humidity, etc. Salt is optional. Work the dough with your hands until it is smooth. Shape it into a ball and let it rest in the bowl, covered, for half an hour or so. You can rest, too.

When you and the dough are rested, roll the dough out as thin as you’d like it to be. Keep in mind that it will swell quite a bit while cooking. I use my trusty pasta machine for this step, but for many years I did it by hand with a rolling pin.

Cut into the size and shape you’d like. You can make w-i-d-e lasagna noodles, tuna casserole noodles, spaghetti, bow ties, stars–anything.

At this point you can dry the noodles or refrigerate them, but I much prefer to cook them fresh. If I’ve made extra, I cook those up and store them in the refrigerator to eat the next day.

Drop the noodles into boiling water–again, salt is optional. Test them every so often for doneness. How long it takes will depend on the size and thickness of the noodles and how soft you like them to be. I like mine to be al dente.

Serve & enjoy!

Read Full Post »