Thursday, June 25, 2015

Alternative to Sugar

Looking for an alternative to sugar and tired of using applesauce?

Try adding a ripe, sliced banana to your oatmeal. For a pumpkin pie, the banana is processed to a creamy consistency and may be substituted for the sugar in a pumpkin pie (previous post on this blog). The pie will have a bit of a banana flavor and my family loves anything banana.

The oatmeal includes dried cranberries and a teaspoon of real vanilla extract for that added zip we need some mornings. The great thing about oatmeal is it holds you until lunch!

For those of us on diuretics, oats are a source of magnesium and bananas have potassium.  Great for breakfast or a snack anytime, ?Sometimes we add small pieces of fresh apple as a garnish, enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tart Cherries

Tart cherries are doing very well this year at my Mom's house.

The tart cherry is a fruit that is melatonin-rich, used for pies, syrups and concentrates, and are the cherries sold in cherry pie filling. It is the preferred cherry in Europe and the one used in famous desserts such
as Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, Black Forest Cherry Cake, see

They are available sweetened and dried like raisins at stores like COSTCO and my husband loves the dried ones as a snack. The tart cherries seem to help him sleep longer.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cleveland Treats

Last night I uploaded the first draft in a new cookbook series to celebrate Cleveland, OHIO, entitled, "Cleveland Treats." It is in full color and includes treats for our eyes, unique nature photos of our area including Chagrin Falls, the monarch butterflies, as well as recipes for our taste buds.

My friend Connie's husband, Tamotsu, once said to me, "We eat with our eyes," which was also an inspiration for the series. The recipes he made for dinner were most beautiful.

The book is in memory of my Mom and I thank my sisters, Cecile and Maria, for their willingness to be taste testers, and my husband Jules who has wanted me to write down the recipes for years. I did not mention my niece Julie, the inspiration for the cookbook as she once asked me for my original recipe after making so many modifications. Original and modified recipes are included if applicable.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Toughest food critics

While writing several cookbooks, I have been searching google for the toughest food critics for a couple years and found the best video. If the kids receive my kids' cookbook the way they like this pizza, I will be thrilled:

Searching for cooking videos led me to this incredible treasure!

The video is great, I have to make pizza tomorrow, just as it is pictured with fresh basil, sauce, and cheese.

The kids are all great, but check out Jack and stay tuned for his last words in the taste test!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Baked Brown Bread

Easy Baked Brown Bread

This no fail recipe for baked brown bread is from the grandmother of my friend, Carolyn Turner. I have tried many brown bread recipes,this one is by far the best tasting, and the easiest to make. The brown bread is moist, baked in cans, and fun for children to make with you. Use melted butter and make the brown bread exactly as described. Trust me, if you like baked brown bread, this recipe is a winner. Thanks Gram Harcourt for passing this wonderful recipe to your granddaughter Carolyn!

The only issue I have recently discovered is that the large size soup cans, at least the ones that I tried, have a bottom that is hard to open and the top lip is narrower than the inside of the can as the cans now have tabs for easy opening.

Although the brown bread was completely loose in the can sprayed with cooking spray, I could not get the bread out of the can. My husband had no problem, but used an interesting technique. There is no suction problem he explained to me, the lip of the can is made too narrow, so he patiently and gently put his fingers in the can and gently gave the bread a slight touch, so that it would be a bit narrower for a second, and that portion would proceed out of the can. He continued to do this until the entire round brown bread was out of the can completely in one piece. As soon as he went on to the next section the first expanded back and the new section emerged from the can, all in one piece and beautiful. He did it so that the lip not cut into the brown bread --- truly remarkable. Next time I will study all the cans at the grocery to see if they are all now made this way. Worst case scenario, I buy cans of brown bread and save those cans for Gram Harcourt's fantastic brown bread, better than any you can ever find in a grocery store.

1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup raisins
3 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups boiling water

Mix the above and let the mixture cool. When cool, add the ingredients below, but do not overmix.

2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar (3/4 white and 3/4 brown) (use 2 cups sugar for sweeter brown bread)
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup nuts (ground nuts may be used or nuts omitted)
5 empty "chunky" soup cans sprayed on the inside with Pam

Fill the five cans, which have been sprayed with Pam, 1/2 full and smooth the tops. Don't try to fill four cans as the mixture will overflow -- use five cans and fill each 1/2 full. If the cans are smaller than "chunky" soup cans, more than five cans will be needed. Bake at 325 F. for 50-60 minutes. After the cans are baked and cooled, open the closed end of the can and push the baked brown bread through, slice and serve.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dairy-free Milk Pudding

I love non dairy puddings made with coconut milk (the 45 calorie version) or almond milk (the 30 calorie version). I use 2 cups of milk and one small box of pudding and add 3 tablespoons of Kraft Minute Tapioca. Sometimes I skip the box of pudding mix and add sugar to the tapioca and dairy-free milk. I never add the eggs or include beaten egg whites as stated on the tapioca pudding but might try it one day with pasturized eggs.

What Birthday Cake to Make for Me?

I am really stuck on what birthday cake I should make for myself? Carrot cake sounds great as do many others. I am really stuck and my birthday is this Friday. I would love to make a bunch of cakes, but not sure if my energy level is up to my usual self. It would be fun to see if I can still do it or have to go down to one item per day? Boomer having had so much energy and some of it was lost, but I have some really easy recipes that I made for those too tired to bake from scratch and consider them "almost homemade" like using a great angel food cake mix and adding lemon and pineapple to it or taking a regular cake mix and adding just a can of condensed milk and a can of fruit in its own juice to the batter. They are all easy, but what do I really want for this "first birthday"? Then there is a fantastic brown bread recipe from my Grandmother Harcourt, my friend Carolyn's incredible baked brown bread in cans and my Cousin Yetta's incredible "library bownies" that are the best in the world. The problem with banana cake is I will eat he entire thing, same for macaroons. I am also addicted to a million other cakes --- as long as they do not have too much whipped cream, I can handle, but too much makes me ill. I ended up making a carrot cake the day after as my sister brought me a wonderful angel food cake and Cleveland coconut bars that were out of this world! I used coconut in the carrot cake in lieu of nuts, but next time I will make sure to pack the carrots in the 2 cup measuring cup!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day, February 14, 2015

For Valentine's Day this year I made heart-shaped palmiers, my favorite cookie as a child growing up in Germany as a toddler. They were not too sweet and just right. The ones I find in the U.S. are too sweet, so I finally decided to make some for my husband for Valentine's Day and also try a few Lady Locks (Ladylocks, Cream Horns) as they use the same flaky puff pastry as the palmiers. I will detail the steps in my upcoming cookbook, but until then, herein are some photographs of the final little hearts and Ladylocks filled with only marshmallow cream.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cleveland Today, Feb 2, 2015, GroundHog's Day

I made homemade pizza yesterday for the Superbowl -- schools and restaurants maybe closed, so best to know how to make what you want from scratch. Pizza recipe was fantastic -- crust the best - had a bit of a crunch yet tender on the inside, never soggy. We hate soggy pizza crusts. I made 2 so we have one for today.

Here it is in the refrigerator covered with Saran Wrap, it has canned mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, onions, and vegan hot dogs on it, but no cheese as my husband is sensitive to cheese and it makes the pizza have fewer calories for me! I always precook the onions.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Easiest Pineapple Rightside-up Cake

This is the easiest recipe ever, great for those who hate to bake or those who prefer to use only 3 ingredients!

The Easy Pineapple Rightside-up cake is made with one box of yellow cake mix, one 12 OUNCE can of nonfat EVAPORATED milk, one 20 OUNCE can of pineapple tidbits.

Dump cake mix into a large flat pan, add canned milk and mix with a spoon until blended. Drain out a bit of the pineapple juice and dump most of the pineapple tidbits plus a bit of the juice on top of the batter.

Bake in 350F oven for 50 minutes and serve warm or oold.

Dedicating this recipe to my OSU adviser's grandmother. I never met her but would have loved to learn how she makes her pineapple desserts!

Friday, January 23, 2015

World's Best Easy Banana Cake

World's Best Easy Banana Cake

This cake was my mother's favorite banana cake recipe. When my niece was small and visited Cleveland from Austin, Texas, she would slice a small piece all evening long, as we all did. One of my Mom's secrets is the finely ground almonds in the batter which is mixed by hand for approximately 300 strokes.

The recipe will be in my upcoming cookbook, but if you want me to print it herein, let me know. Cake is truly handmade, NO mixer needed!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Easy Valentine's Day Black Forest Squares

Here is a very simple recipe:

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 can nonfat evaporated milk

Mix the above in a 9 x 13 or little larger pan, cover with the
1 can cherry pie filling

Bake in oven at 350 F for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes of baking add the pecans on top
1/2 cup pecans and
continue baking for another 20 minutes!

Total baking time is 50 minutes!

Eat warm as is or cool down and add cool whip or whipped cream (optional).

Non Gluten Flour does not Work in My Yeast Pretzels

Non gluten flour worked great in my macaroon recipe, but forget using this flour in my homemade New Year's pretzels. Here is a photo of both and you can guess which is which. The non gluten flour did not proof the same, did not rise the same as the "regular" flour, the consistency of the final product is not acceptable and I will dump them as they became too hard to eat.

Below is the one made with the non gluten flour, see how crumbly it looks:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tracing Tainted Food

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Spices and Herbs

I do not know where I have been, but I just read a 2013 report about contamination in spices and herbs. I am thinking about throwing all of mine out and only using real items like fresh garlic and ginger until I can dry herbs from my garden next summer. I had no idea about this, but can dry sage and lovage from my Mom's house, where I planted an herb garden for her. At my house I always have thyme and oregano coming up in huge batches trying to keep the deer away.

I bought spices yesterday and now really hate to use them. Where have I been? Here are references to some of the reports I somehow missed, but for sure I am going to dry my own herbs and make my own spices next year. More work, but then what are kitchen and dining room tables for anyway if not to dry leaves from the garden which will become my spices?

FDA Draft Risk Profile: Pathogens and Filth in Spices - Pdf of report dated 2013

I just threw out all of my spices but for whole nutmeg, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, whole cinnamon stick. I will have to dry my own spices next year from the garden. My husband agreed after I showed him the report and he held the garbage bag for me. Guess no more complaints about bland tasting food in this house. Can not take the chance of catching anything, especially from my own spice cabinet.

Cookbooks I am reading

My sister Cecile sent me the book "Quick & Easy Dump Cakes and More," by Cathy Mitchell. It says on the cover "Just Dump & Bake." I have to agree, although maybe a bit too sweet for me, the dump cake I made worked out great. The problem is it was too fast and too good. I used to make one years ago with brownie mix and cherry pie filling and something else? Hope I find the recipe as that one was incredible. I will try to search for it on the internet.

The second book I am reading is "Cupcakes and Muffins" by Ann Nicol which says it includes "New Recipes." It says on the cover "Quick & Easy, Proven Recipes."

I also bought an alternative wheat flour yesterday to try in some gluten-free recipes. I need to find out if the flour advertised to substitute 1 for 1 for regular flour in recipes truly works. The only problem is how does one write a cookbook on a strict diet? Luckily, someone sent me an email that the spleen does not like "wheat" so I have a perfect excuse? Wonder if I can use this substitute flour to make our family tradition of New Year's pretzels? Wonder what the flour will taste like, can I use with yeast? Guess I have more projects and research to do ASAP.

I am glad to be here and truly hope what I write will help someone. Please, if you are lucky enough to have grandchildren, bake something homemade or semi-homemade for them. Never used your oven or your child's oven? Then it is time you try it for your grandchildren. If this sounds familiar, I am talking directly to you. Whatever you think is important, I am telling you it is NOT. Memories, what your grandchildren will remember include smells, warmth, not just your expertise or books and articles your have written. Try the pineapple angle food recipe or a dump cake, but give that child something warm and comforting from you. Love cafeterias and taking them out to eat? Great, they will love packaged food. I remember when my Mom would take a homemade hamburger and wrap it up and put it in a brown bag so it would look like "take out," and this was for a child with 30 food allergies. I remember her making homemade applesauce and putting it in a MOTTS applesauce jar so her grandson would recognize the label. As he got older, he understood that his grandmother was making everything for him from scratch, loved it, and he remembers as I heard him mention it.

If by chance, you have worked in a lab, have used an autoclave and/or other equipment, but have never used an oven, you have no excuse. Want to do something that really counts, come up with a healthier snack than you can buy in a bakery.

If you are buying everything from a bakery, you are missing the wonderful smells that one associates with home. Did you have a grandmother that baked for you? Do you remember? Why not let your grandchild have the same type of memory.

Since I do not know when I will get to Texas to see my niece as my angel cardiologist says not sure if my spleen and lungs can fly yet (guess I have work to do here on earth to make me worthy as still have a bit of devil in me that I am trying to get rid of), please make something from scratch with my great-niece. Something she will remember as her mother remembers our Mom's banana bread.

If only my anise cookies would get the dried caps on them like my mother's did. I have taken the dough to her house to dry, but it has not worked. Hers always worked, but mine have never worked and I tried every year but this one. Why did I not watch her more closely, I can not even make decent streusel -- she did it so effortlessly and it did not matter the temperature of the butter, but in a few seconds, perfect streusel, I can not make a decent streusel topping.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dump Cake - Comfort Food takes 5 minutes to make and 45 minutes to bake in the overn

I just tried to make my first dump cake and it is in the oven.

I have to mention that I was in the hospital for a fluke incident. I went on a trip to NYC and started feeling my heartbeat for the first time in my life. I thought it was stress related to the nightmare trip. I chose not to run down 19 flights when I could not hear the elevator per my thumping heart. Anyway, the easier a recipe for those like me recovering from heart, cancer or any other serious illness, or even working parents who would rather spend time with their children than bake, the better. However, do not deprive your children of coming home to something baked in the oven -- the smell will stay with them the rest of their life. My sisters and I often talk about my Mom's recipes and I am sure some of you talk about recipes your grandparents made.

Meds do NOT appear to be working as I hoped and we need to make some adjustments. I have to be on meds the rest of my life. Wow, do I wish I had not gone on that trip -- not that it would not have happened anyway.

Then again, maybe the trip saved my life?

My Texas sister, Cecile, knowing I am writing a cookbook, sent me something easy to follow, a cookbook of dump cakes -- the cakes take the time it takes to open the can. Thanks Cecile for your thoughtfulness. The stamina, energy, zest for life that I had are gone, lets hope temporarily. I would rather not have an invasive procedure, but this too may be on the agenda. Hard to believe I was walking 5 miles per day, eating the best I could and "whammo," this happened out of the blue. I was one of the very lucky ones, my spleen took the hit. Did I know much about my spleen before this, "No," but now I eat what apleen's like as am not about to lose this million dollar organ. Thanks so much Cecile for giving me something easy to do while I work out a few complicated recipes. Guess, I am lucky I can calculate anything. If I went to dinner with someone and something like this happened to them, I would send them a get well card. I tried to send a person who went to dinner with us in NYC a Christmas thank you card, and it came back. I did not have the energy to send it a second time. A few days confined to bed in a cardiac unit can take its toll. Nothing like taking 45 minutes to walk one mile, when I used to walk 5 in and hour and a half. Life has surprises and one never knows what is around the corner? All I can say is I am lucky to be here making dump cakes and writing a cookbook that I hope will be useful to those on special diets.

Fascinating, I had not planned to put gluten-free recipes in my cookbook, but now that I read the spleen does not like wheat, I am including alternatives to wheat. Yes, gluten-free will be included, at least in theory, in the cookbook with some ideas.

I have to fool with any recipe. Instead of using peach pie filling, I used two cans of peach slices in real juice, no sugar added. To the liquid portion of the peach juice, I added dried cranberries, hoping they might soften up and absorb some of the liquid. I put a yellow cake mix, over all, and sprinkled cinnamon over the top after doting with about half the butter suggested. Please be careful as this makes part of the mixture dry and one can easily start coughing --- coughing not something I want to start doing as this would mean additional problems. Cinnamon sometimes gives one the illusion of sweetness and it adds color to the dump cake. The dump cake kind of reminds me of a more solid type, wonderful cobbler I had at a restaurant at Cape Code once. The only thing missing is the warm whipped cream (not on my diet plan these days). My husband says this dump cake would go great with ice cream too or even nonfat coolwhip!

I dotted it with about 1/2 to 3/4 stick of real butter, sliced really thin. The recipe calls for the entire stick, but I fear putting that much fat into anything as we have been fat free for a very long time. Next time I might freeze the butter a bit to shave it thinner.

Here is the picture of the dump cake in the oven and I will include a photo when I serve it. Unfortunately, I can not eat anything cold and have much work yet to do here on earth -- I am not allowed to fly for at least one year as my lungs and spleen can not go up yet, guess I am not an angel yet. I baked it at 350 F for 45 minutes in a 9 x 14' pan sprayed with Pam

I have lots of people to forgive and help before I become and angel, but had I had the energy to get out my hand mixer, I would have made pineapple angel food cake for sure!

It has 5 minutes to go in the oven and when I walked toward the kitchen it smelled heavenly!

Has anyone tried dump cake cupcakes? That is my next project!

Thursday, January 1, 2015


I love the New Year's pretzel recipe which I will include herein after I explain the tradition. It is NOT a tradition in all of Germany but just in the part of the Black Forest where I was born. The pretzel is sometimes made into someone's age for the new year. In my case, I use my late mother's age. She would be 98 this March 2015, having been born in 1917.

First proofing, first rising of dough:

The second proofing, rising was in the shape of the numbers and I added a bit of egg wash (egg yellow) to make it appear shiny and like a glaze after baking and here is the final product:

This one was still on the cookie sheet:

Finally the recipe I used this year. Remember, I rarely use dairy, almost always use almond milk where a recipe calls for milk. I may use butter if for my husband and me, but switch to Mother's or Fleischmans unsalted (no milk and parve, but becareful as regular Fleishmans is Kosher DAIRY):

I cut the recipe in half as only wanted to make two numbers, one for me and one for my husband.

1/2 cup almond milk
1 1/4 tsp yeast (1/2 package)
2 T melted butter if permitted, otherwise Fleishman's unsalted (only the unsalted has no dairy)
1/6 cup sugar or less
Zest of half a lemon (optional)
1 1/2 to 2 cups flour, be careful not to use to much. Use one cup flour and then gently add until dough is workable) Knead about 10 minutes
1 egg yolk for brushing pretzel before baking -- again this assumes no egg allergy, it can be omitted for a duller but still delicious product

Bake about 20 minutes at 375 F until the pretzel mumbers sound hollow when tapped and look baked.