Savory Side Dish

  • 2lbs of hamburger (85/15 or even 80/20)
  • two sour apples, peeled and diced
  • two persimmons, peeled and diced
  • a bag of cranberries, boiled in a 50/50 mix of red wine and pineapple juice until popped and tender
  • 1/2 C golden raisins
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground nuteg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt

Combine everything like a meatloaf and then stuff in two or three small pumpkins that have been beheaded and gutted.

Roast at 350 degrees until a thermometer inserted in the meat registers 160 degrees. That took about 1.5 hours for me, but it depends on your oven and the size of the pumpkins. I used two small cast iron skillets, but any baking pan you use needs high sides as the meat renders the fat.

Put them in the fridge overnight. Meatloaf is way better the next day. Warm them in the oven. Serve sliced. Each one might make about ten servings. This is only a side, but it could be a main dish. Might be a bit much spice for a main, though.

This reminds me of Spiced Beef without need to cure it for a week – that was the source of my idea, along with this video. Also, I had started out with an additional pound of meat. Totally did not need it. But it was ground pork. May do that next time, or 50/50 beef and pork. Or, perhaps, sausage.

A better nog


I called this “English Christmas” in its first incarnation – which was only the gin and some chocolate bitters. Last time I wanted to share it with someone I couldn’t find the bitters at all. On to the Creme which is kinda gross, but it did so mething different. It’s taken a while to get someplace where I liked it… still gonna stick with that name – because gin, orange, and chocolate = English Christmas – but going to call it a nog. So, here is:

English Christmas Nog

  • 1 egg separated
  • 2 shots of Tanqueray Sevilla Orange
  • .5 shot of Creme de Cacao
  • 1/4 C of heavy cream
  • 2 tbl sweetener (I used Allulose)
  • Ice if you’re an American…

This sounds complicated but, in the order presented you can do every thing with an immersion blender in just a few moments in one measuring cup and one serving goblet.

Method: In the goblet, whip the egg white until there are stiff peaks. This is ok because we’re going to add so very much liquid to it. When you reach dry peaks, slowly drizzle in the gin. In the measuring cup, whip the egg yoke with the sweetener until you reach a light yellow goop. Then drizzle in the Creme de Cacao. Pour this into the goblet. Finally, whip the cream in the measuring cup, until you have nice, solid cream and, while whipping, add in the egg white and last the egg yoke (from the goblet). Pour all back into the goblet. Serve over ice if you must.

Legal Disclaimer: something about raw eggs.

King Cake 2022

THIS YEAR’S King Cake was entirely my own tinkering. The first time I had King Cake (1999?) I did not like the pastry so I tinkered, and eventually made my own recipe (based on the Brioche recipe in Essential Pepin). You need a food processor for this. Then I had to fix the filling. For a while I was happy with a traditional combo of sweetened cream cheese and pecans, but this year I tried a new thing that I made up. Then I topped it with a whisky buttercream. It is traditional to include a small baby toy in the cake. Whoever finds the Baby is supposed to host the next King Cake party. There’s more on this tradition at the end of the post.

So here’s the recipe for one small ring:


  • 1/2 envelope (1.5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 Cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 large (pasture raised) egg
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick salted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, beaten, for egg wash
  • minced orange zest (about 2 tablespoons) and the juice of 1/2 of the orange.

Combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar in a food processor. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbly.

Add the salt, eggs, orange juice, and flour to the yeast mixture and process for about 30 seconds. With the machine running, add the softened butter in chunks. Add the orange zest last and process for another 15 to 20 seconds. Transfer the dough to a bowl that has a lid (such as a Tupperware container, etc), cover with a cloth towel (not the lid yet), and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until it has doubled in bulk.

Punch the dough down then put on the lid and put it in the fridge overnight. This step is very important: the dough has too much butter and not enough structure to be used until it firms up in the fridge. This overnight (or longer) step also hydrates the flour and makes for a softer dough. This step is unclear in the published recipe, but you can make sense out of Jaques talking through the recipe on the TV episode which, sadly, is not online.


Combine using a spoon or electric mixer. There should be no solid lumps of cheese. Let sit overnight to meld the flavors. There’s a lot of uber-sweet recipes out there for the filling – cream cheese, whipped cream, strawberries, pecan pie… I wanted something that was holiday flavored but tangy so, mincemeat it is.

To Assemble

For a cake about 8-9″ around (as in the picture), roll the solid dough out on a floured surface. You want a rectangle about 24″ x 8-9″. Trim the short sides so that there will be a smooth seam. The long sides can be a little rough. The dough should be about 1/8-1/4″ thick. You can make it longer if you like.

Place the filling in a line down the center of the dough. Wet one long side of the dough with water and then roll the dry side over to the wet side, letting the seam end up on the bottom of the cake. Then join the two ends into a circle and place on a round pan. (I use the removable bottom of one of my cake tins.) I have used a parchment paper liner, but it’s not needed. If your pan tends to stick, use your judgment.

Moisten the ends of the dough and slide one end into the other to make a better seam. I’m not yet good with this and it always ends up looking rather rough: we’ll cover it with frosting so don’t worry about it!

Once the dough has been rolled this thin it will not rise very much at all, but leave it sitting on the counter, covered with a towel, while the oven preheats.

Preheat oven to 425. When the oven reaches this temperature, put the cake in the oven and then set the temperature to 350. Bake for 40-50 mins. Remove from the oven and set it aside to cool fully before frosting.

If you’re going to add a small baby to this cake, now is the time to cut a slit into one side of the cake and insert the baby. You’ll cover the slit with frosting.


  • 1.5 ounce whisky
  • 2-3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 stick softened butter (salted)
  • Food coloring (to make green, purple, and yellow frostings)

Place the sugar in a bowl. Dump in the whisky. Using a whisk, combine the sugar and the whisky. You may need to add additional sugar: keep whisking until there are no lumps of sugar and you have the consistency of a good, stiff frosting. Then begin whisking in the butter bit by bit. If you have an electric whisk this will make the frosting fluffier but it’s not needed. Once you have a good, rich buttercream, divide this into thirds. In three individual bowls, use the food coloring to make one yellow, one green, and one purple. Using the three colors frost the cake in any pattern you like. You can use stripes as I did, or swirl them together or whatever gets you excited. You can also use sugar sprinkles (etc) to make this even more festive.

The Baby and the Traditional Next Party

OK King Cake is intended to be served from Epiphany (it’s named for the Three Kings) until Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the last day for all this silly feasting to happen. It’s best to serve this with friends. When you slice into the cake someone will get the baby. They are supposed to host the next party. If you serve the first King Cake on Epiphany (6 January) and then host your friends weekly, there can be up to 7 weeks (I think) of time here, so that’s a good few parties! Have coffee with friends – maybe do a book group? The person who gets the Baby this week brings the treats next week. The person who gets the Baby on Mardi Gras hosts the Epiphany Party next year. It’s really quite fun!

Best Hot Fudge Sauce Ever.


This hot fudge sauce is also keto-friendly. I won’t debate if all the ingredients are perfectly keto, but precious few carbs went into this.

Start with 4 strips of bacon:

Sorry, it’s blurry

I put them in a hot pan at about 200F and let them cook slowly, rendering their fatty, salty deliciousness (or “proving” as the old cookbooks say). Then I put the heat up on high and got them brown and crispy.

Next time I need more bacon. Where’s the chocolate, you’re asking.

Leaving the grease in the pan, add a bag of frozen berries – which are keto friendly. Strawbs are the best, but blurbs, rasps, and others are fine too.

It’s ok, Edgar. It’s organic. Nope. No chocolate yet.

As they fry up they will render their sugary goodness to the mix.

At this point, I didn’t like the flavor profile so I added some salt and some Imo Sochu.

That’s certainly not chocolate.

While that continued to simmer I used a Big Knife™ and shaved up 1/2 a block (about 2.5 oz) of this:

Whoo HOO! Chocolate in it’s Keto Friendly Style.

Then I added about 1/3 a cup of this.

Heavy Cream is Very Keto Friendly.

I stirred it all together and threw in the chocolate. It was so saucy looking that I couldn’t turn away even to get a picture.

I turned off the heat at this point. Then I did this (but you guessed it already):

Like I said, next time, more bacon.

It still needed a little more salt, so I dashed it in. And tadah! The best fudge sauce ever!

I didn’t have no ice cream though, so, TADAH! The Best Chocolate Bacon Berry Soup Ever!

Sorry it’s a little burry. I was eating too fast. But that’s where we started anyway. Blurry Bacon gets you blurry soup.

Buttermilk Snow (with Mincemeat)

A tasty holiday treat or try other flavors on the same base…

  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 Cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 Cups full fat, cultured buttermilk*
  • 1/3 Cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 packet of stevia
  • Mincemeat filling/topping

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water and let it cool slightly. Whisk in a bit of the buttermilk to temper it and then add the rest. Put this in the refrigerator to set up slightly (about 2 hours or so). This will be ready when it’s no longer runny, but still very sticky. At that point add the stevia to the heavy cream and whip it up until stiff peaks form. Use a wire whisk or other device to aerate the cream very well. Whisk in the sticky gelatin at this point and then whip fully until nearly double in volume. Place in a serving bowl in the fridge and let is set fully, several hours or overnight. Serve with the mincemeat topping.

Optional: after you have whisked it up, place mincemeat topping in individual serving bowls and then top with the Snow. Let it set up like this.

Another flavor: instead of mincemeat, mix in crushed or chopped pineapple, chopped pecans, and shredded coconut.

* Note: Please use full-fat, cultured buttermilk. Since we’re talking dessert here it should be as unctuous as possible! Also, as the buttermilk is not really exposed to heat, this dessert has live cultures.

Pimento Cheese!


Pimento Cheese is a Southern thing, or so I thought. The Fanny Farmer Cookbook from 1952 is filled with interesting recipes like this from the “Boston Cooking School”. Folks in the Fifties seem to worry about flavor though: a finely minced half clove of garlic is a common addition. Mayonnaise is a good addition to everything. So maybe this is just a 50s thing that is still done in the South. Anyway… I can’t walk into Safeway and get this off the shelves like I can at Ingles or Publix. Even there it seems to be somewhat “house made”. Basically this a “cheese salad” in the way you can add mayo to anything and get a “salad”. In this case, it’s a salad spread: it’s amazing on saltines.

Some recipes call for cream cheese as well as cheddar. Some call for white and yellow cheddar. I don’t quite understand these options, but they are out there. To start, I didn’t have any sharp cheese. You need sharp for this: it’s gotta stand up to everything else. I had mild cheddar, so I made do and I upped the cheesy umami by adding nutritional yeast. Good olives are important. Yes I know it says “pimento cheese” but everyone and their granny has their own recipe for this. This is mine.
You need a food processor for this. Mine is kinda tiny so I made it in two half-batches.  You can tinker with the ratios, and again, this is mine… you may like it cheesier or spicier. You can make it wetter by adding more mayo.

  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese cubed into 1/2″ dice.
    Let this sit out about 2-4 hours (covered) to come to room temperature and get nice and soft.
  • 12 ounces pimento-stuffed green olives.
    NB: 12 ounces is the weight after draining off the brine.
    Reserve the brine.
  • 1/4-1/3 Cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
    NB: This DOES NOT CALL FOR MIRACLE WHIP but you may use another brand of mayo if you must.
  • Sriracha to taste – I used about a tablespoon. Your mileage may vary.
  • Salt to taste


  1. Place the drained olives in a food processor.
  2. Place the cheese in there. 
  3. Put the lid on and pulse until the olives and the cheese are shredded up nice but you want some texture. We’re not going for smooth and creamy here.
  4. Place everything in a mixing bowl along with the mayo and sriracha.
  5. Blend with a spoon until everything is covered in the dressing.
  6. Taste and add salt as needed. At this point, I didn’t think it was tangy enough (because I had no sharp cheese) so I add about 2 tbls of the olive brine and stirred it in.
  7. Place in a covered bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours at least.
  8. This will be much better tomorrow.
Spread it on crackers.
Put in on burgers.
Make quesadillas with it.
Grilled Cheese sandwiches are very good with this.



Old cookbooks are a passion of mine – not antique ones, but rather old ones. Something written in 1640 will have lots of silly ingredients that may be of some interest to historians, but if the stuff can’t be purchased at Safeway and prepared easily in a modern kitchen, it’s not worth my while to learn about it. Cookbooks from the late 1800s on, however, as well as some modern adaptations of early American cookery, are way more my speed. A Victorian cake recipe might be fun! Learning how Lord and Lady Blunderbuss sauced their puddings is how to make the next surprise dessert at the Church Potluck. And Mr & Mrs. Prariedog may know a few things about root veggies that will spice up Lent.

At the Monastery, my pancakes were always greeted with raves: they were light and so very fluffy! They were crispy on the outside and creamy inside. They were perfect. I was told this often enough that I’m reasonably sure it was true. It was gratifying as the recipe was my late maternal grandfather’s and was not made from a mix, but they never came out that way anywhere else. It was certainly some effect of cooking at 7,500 feet above sea level: something to do with air pressure and the way water evaporates at lower temperatures that high up. Returning home, the same recipe produces normal pancakes, but it’s still Grandpa’s and it takes me back to my childhood.

My grandfather was a hobo during the depression, riding the rails around the country. I’m sure his recipe reflects no small number of campfire breakfasts. It’s foolproof but it’s not fluffy at sea level. It’s 1:1:1.  1 egg, 1 cup (butter)milk, 1 cup self-rising flour. To make more or less, you can go as low as 1/3 a cup to 1 egg. As high as 1.5 cups. It gets a little eggy at 1/3, and above 1.5 you want to go ahead and move on to 2 eggs. But use 1:1:1 and make the pancakes with a 1/4 measure of batter and you’ll get amazingly predictable results.

I tinkered a bit this morning, combining my cookbooks with Grandpa’s recipe. None of the recipes I’ve found use chemical leavening.  Maybe it was too expensive or else not always predictable? Most use sourdough and a few use yeast. This seems normal: the batter would be allowed to proof overnight, getting nice and bubbly. My late (paternal) grandfather would make buckwheat pancakes this way – with a sourdough batter that sat on the back porch all winter bubbling away. Several recipes use either sourdough or fresh yeast depending on which cookbook is read. In these cases, it should be assumed the normal form was sourdough, which was the norm for all yeast from the earliest times until rather recently.

Today we use “instant” batter that does away with any of these choices. Add water, fry. BORING.

Regardless of the leavening, all these early recipes have one thing going for them that no one does anymore. It was my tinkering this morning. All of these recipes take the batter – made with yokes only, in most cases – and gently fold them into a meringue made from the egg whites!

This morning, using 1:.5:.5 the egg was separated and, after combining the yoke with the other ingredients, I whisked the white of the one egg until it was very dry and very stiff. It was about 2/3 of a cup in volume. Then the rest of the batter was dumped into the center of the meringue and gently folded in.  From there I returned to my grandfather’s recipe: heating a thin layer of oil in the pan until it was at “sizzle” and then dropping in the batter by 1/4 of a cup. It was stiffer than normal, it was spread out using the ladle. It took no longer to fry though – it cooked up nicely. When I flipped it over, the pancake was crisper than I expected but ok. The end result was very crispy outside and creamy inside. There were very nice air pockets. The overall experience was of a pancake made like a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Would recommend and will totally to again: also I can’t wait to try with my winter buckwheats. These pancakes are not pictured as the shutter on my phone was not fast enough to catch them.

Lent’s Here. Let’s talk food.


BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet is one of my most favourite things, right after whiskers on kittens and Atmospheric River Events on roses. They travel the UK looking for regional specialties and sharing cooking advice. Most of the members of the panel are from some part of the UK (I think), but they even have a token American who is called on to explain things like corn dogs. I love them not just because they read one of my recipes on the air (and raved…) but also because I keep learning stuff from them. Some cooking shows only make me hungry, this one makes me laugh and also put on that “thinking emoji” face that spins.

The recipe they shared from me involved split peas, or, as they seem to prefer it spelled, pease. You’ve heard the nursery rhyme, “peas porridge hot”. Or, to use the correct spelling,

Pease porridge hot. 
Pease porridge cold.
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine days old.

The Wiki notes that “pease” was the original mass noun like “sheep”. Pea is a neologism and “peas” is even newer.

To make pease porridge, one uses yellow split pease. The nutrition information for this is really quite surprising. In 100 grams (uncooked) we find:

Dietary fiber 50g
Sugar 16g
Protein 48g

Fiber and protein far out-weigh the sugars. That same cup of uncooked veggies has a tiny bit of fat and a whopping 341 calories. (100 grams of brussel sprouts has 46 calories. 100g of russet potatoes has 79 calories.) Pease are high energy, high protein treats! No wonder they were a huge part of the diet not only in the Mediaeval period but also in the many parts of the world right up until the modern era. They don’t have a lot of different vitamins, but they are very high in magnesium and iron (nearly 50% RDA of each). This is a good food value for folks.

It’s simple to make: soak 200g yellow split pease in water overnight. (It’s the 21st century, folks. Buy a scale. If you prefer traditional imperial weight measurements: .03 stone.) Drain but don’t rinse. My rice cooker is perfect for this: just add water to cover and then run in through a cycle, stir, add water to cover again, and one more cycle. Done. Texture is an issue for some folks: if you like it bit on the chewy side and you can add about a quarter cup of raw pease before the second cycle. Other’s like it very smooth and will run an immersion blender through it. Simple, right? As it cools it turns into a think goop rather like very stiff mashed potatoes. Add butter if you want. The trick is how you decide to flavor it.

Traditionally, you would dice a carrot and a small onion, add salt and paper and a bay leaf or two. There is a California Bay in the back yard and I can vouch for the goodness of this recipe. You upscale with bacon or ham. Serve it on bread, toast, biscuits, etc. Some Bisto gravy makes this completely amazing. It seems it’s also traditional to use this as a sandwich spread of some sort, but I can’t figure that out.

But flavoring, or flavouring…

The first time there was no ham so broth was made with red miso paste. It was amazing.
The second time there was no miso, so only bacon went in. That was astounding.
The third time I used a packet of onion soup mix in the water. Sooo good! Add garlic!

And this time, going a little crazy, a packet of mild chili mix was whisked into the second addition of water.
Also: evidently the Greek food “Fava” is sometimes made with split peas… but I don’t know if that’s really the case. I can see this being used  for hummus, too.
When it gets cold it’s quite like mashed taters. I’ve fried it up in pancakes at that point. It’s really good on toast and my best way of eating it has involved a garlic naan (from TJ’s) with a mound of pease. Put a deep divet in the pease and break an egg into it. Put it in the toaster oven until you’re ready to eat the egg: sunny side, over easy, over medium, etc… it just takes getting used to your oven.
Some like it hot.
Some like it cold.
I like it in the pot
Nine days old.
Benedicto benedicatur!

Eggnog Recipe and Disclaimer

Here’s how to make eggnog, right now, at home. Without adding corn syrup and artificial thickeners. Here’s the promised disclaimer: if you make this recipe without the alcohol, you may risk some sort of deadly egg contamination. So don’t do it. Drink alcohol and be safe.
Here’s where a real food blog would add a long, tedious story as an introduction. My intro: this is the whole reason I wanted a hand blender. Thank you, Steve, for getting such a thing for Christmas a few years ago. Now, without further ado:


Here’s what you’ll need to make about 2 cups of nog:

Half and Half
2 Eggs
Brown Sugar
Whiskey, Whisky, Rye, Bourbon, Rum, Spiced Rum, Brandy. Either one. Rye is my fave this year.
Optional: Nutmeg, or Pumpkin Pie spice… I use a me-mixed blend of cardamom, cloves, mace, and nutmeg.

Divide the eggs into two containers.
Add a big, heaping spoon-full of brown sugar to the yokes.
If you’re doing the optional spices, add 3 or 4 pinches to the yokes here as well.
I use a hand or stick blender to whisk up everything.
Whisk up the whites first. You want stiff peaks.
Then whisk up the sugar (spices) and yokes. They’ll double or more in size and get thick and goopy.
Make sure you whisk up everything really good. Because everything will deflate later.

Now add half a shot of your alcohol of choice to each. Read my caveat again: you don’t want eggy sickness. You’ll die the dreaded Nog Death and ruin Christmas memories for your family and friends for ever.
If you love your loved ones, put the alcohol in the eggs.
Then whisk a lot more.
Yes, the alcohol will deflate your previous whisking. Tough. I warned you.
If you whisk well at this point, you kill all the eggy bad guys, and also restore a modicum of the fluffitude.

Now, get yourself a fancy pouring contraption, like a cruet, an ewer, or an urn, or maybe just a 2- 3 cup pyrex thing…

Whisk everything together and add enough half and half to bring the entire contents up to two cups, and whisk some more. (At this point I usually add another shot of alcohol…)

Pour in to glasses, and optionally sprinkle some spices on top.

Drink. This is Tranya.

Cranberry Celebration Copycat Recipe

If you live near a Kroger’s or a King Sooper (that’s in Colorado) then you know what is this thing called Cranberry Celebration.

My parents love it so much that they will do a day trip up to that College Town that has neither Alabama, nor Georgia, nor even Georgia Tech in it, just to clean out the case at the Tiger Town Kroger’s. They freeze it and hope it will last. Look: it is good. It’s way better than that Orange Cranberry thing we all did in the 70s and hands down tops out the Cran Raspberry thing we discovered in the 80s.

Researching on the internet, though, there’s a lot of people out there writing recipes that clearly want to be in the 70s or 80s all over again. There’s no gelatin in this, nor added pectin. There is no Jello. There is no Raspberry. Also, people: Canned Cranberries? Ew.

So I did it myself. Mom, Dad, here’s the recipe for Cranberry Celebration that I figured out while I was with y’all this Fall… but I didn’t get to test it until today.

  • 1 Bag of Cranberries (the smaller one…)
  • 12 oz ginger beer (not Verners or Canada Dry.. I mean the good stuff. Like… Bundaberg)
  • 1 14oz can of Crushed Pineapple (only in pineapple juice. NO SYRUP) Drained, reserve the juice.
  • Enough Walnuts to make 1 Cup whizzed up.
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • EXTRA fine White sugar to taste after prep (not powdered, tho…)
  1. Put the cranberries in a saucepan, reserve about 1/3 a cup for whizzing later
  2. Pour all the ginger beer in the saucepan and set the heart on low.
  3. Cover. Wait. As the heat rises, the cranberries will begin to pop, releasing pectin into the juice, this will begin to thicken up nicely.
  4. When they start to pop, go ahead and stir in the brown sugar. This will come to a boil, that’s fine, just stir. Keep it at a low boil/high simmer for 20 mins.
  5. In a chopper/food processor whiz up the cranberries and the nuts. Yes, these cranberries are raw and they are going in the mix. It will help with the texture.
  6. When the stuff has simmered for twenty mins, stir in the nuts and berries and drained pineapple.
  7. Taste it. Add white sugar if needed. Some berries are more tart. Some less.
  8. Add some pineapple juice if it’s needed – drink the rest.
  9. Put it in the ridge overnight. Boom.
  10. Celebrate. Celebrate. Dance to the Music.

I used this as a stuffing in a pork roast. THAT’ll make you celebrate, let me tell you. Yes that is a large bit of pork in the picture, because someone forgot to take a picture before the Putting Away commenced.