Grace’s Peach Cake

July 10th, 2011 gerinancy Posted in Islands of Happiness, Memory Garden No Comments »

When I was just 13 years old, my family visited Grace, a friend of my Nana’s in upstate New York.  Grace, a very warm and charming lady, prepared a tasty dinner from scratch for all of us.  I truly do not remember the dinner, but I do remember the dessert!

After dinner, she stood in her kitchen for several moments pondering a dessert idea for her guests.  I followed her outside to her backyard, where beautiful plum trees stood full of fruit.  She filled her apron with plums, carried them into the house, and, in about 10 minutes flat, put together the most wonderful and memorable plum cake.  I wrote the recipe down as best as I could since she did not use any measuring cups or measuring spoons.  Grace informed me that I could use any fresh summer fruit, such as peaches or blueberries for this quick cake.

Peach CakeI’ve been making this peach and blueberry rendition ever since and want to share this delicious memory with all of you.  Here is her cake, just as she put it together, and then below, I have provided some guidelines to create a just as delicious “gluten free” version.

Thank you, Grace.  Thank you, Nana.  Each time I bake this cake, I am 13 years old standing in a beautiful arbor of fruit trees and surrounded by many people who love me.  Good reason to bake this cake over and over again!!!

Ingredients:

3 medium ripe peaches
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 cups flour   ***gluten free tips below
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, or to taste
Butter flavored Spray Margarine

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10 inch deep dish pie plate with cooking spray.  Slice peaches, leaving skin on.  Toss with lemon juice and set aside.  Wash and drain blueberries and set aside.  Mix flour with baking powder and set aside.

In a large bowl, use electric mixer at low speed to beat butter and 1/2 sugar together.  Add eggs and beat until light and creamy. Add milk,  flour mixture, and vanilla; mix at low speed for one minute, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange peaches and blueberries on top in decorative design.  Sprinkle generously with sugar and cinnamon.  Dot the top of the cake with pieces of butter.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  When cool, cut into 10 servings.  Yummy served warm with vanilla ice cream.

***Gluten Free Modifications:  I use a good gluten free yellow cake mix, such as Pamela’s or Gluten Free Pantry.  Cream butter in bowl, the add eggs and vanilla.  Pamela’s uses some water.  Then pour batter into deep dish pie plate that has been sprayed with cooking spray and proceed with rest of recipe.  The house will smell heavenly!


Why I Love January

January 23rd, 2011 gerinancy Posted in Great Finds, Islands of Happiness No Comments »

Pink lemon slice from our tree

Pink lemons from our tree

It is a brisk and sunny  Sunday afternoon in Orlando.  I am sitting on my patio dressed in a sweater. These are the days I savor.  I must say that January, February and March are my favorite months of the year here in Florida.  Those living in the North right now would beg to differ with me, but geographically, these months come bearing a plethora of  lovely gifts from Mother Nature.  It’s not too hot. It’s not too cold.  Spring is tangible. I can envision my lawn coming back to life. I look forward to planting new pots of herbs with my husband, Wayne, to replace what the harsh cold has taken.img_2597

So why do I love January? Because January here is Summer up North with it’s horn of plenty of  locally grown fruits and vegetables.  I visited my favorite produce stand, Clemons, last week and was greeted by more than 20 varieties of locally grown produce and fruit. Of course, citrus is plentiful right now. But rarely, does one think of Florida as a “garden state”. The Florida connotation is usually beaches, palm trees, and Disney World.  Surprisingly, however we grow a lot of wonderful produce in the winter months.  I  bought fresh Romaine, cucumbers, and beefsteak tomatoes all grown just an hour or two from my door. Clemons is one of the only places I know that brings the produce from farmer to your door without the middle man.

img_2606The salad pictured here is one I made for Wayne and I for lunch yesterday. It is Florida fresh. It tasted fresh and perhaps, it is my imagination, but it looks a lot fresher as well.  It thrills me to know that I am eating something that did not travel very far to reach my plate. And the lemon pictured here is from our lemon tree in the back of our house.

The breeze just kicked up as I sit on the patio on this wondrous January afternoon.  I love the combination of the  warmth of the sun on my skin and the cool breeze on my face.   I suppose, in many ways,  I share the same sentiments as my optimistic Northern friends who peer out the window at the snow piled high and hold onto their dreams of  the first harbingers of Spring.  January arrives with its counterpart of a new year and a unique joy from thoughts of  rebirth and renewal and fresh starts. January fills our hearts with new perspectives and new attitudes.  January is one of those months that grabs your attention in the moment, but at the same time, taps you on the shoulder to remind you of all the things your heart will be rejoicing about…..very, very soon.


Easter 2009 – A Most Beautiful Day

April 12th, 2009 gerinancy Posted in Islands of Happiness, Recipes No Comments »

Salad

Ham, I know,  is traditional for the Easter celebration.  However, my Dad, the Chief, requested a Porterhouse steak on the grill.  So I worked the menu around the steak.  Of course there was the harbinger of Spring, asparagus.  It is a sight for sore eyes, especially for Northerners.  I quite understand the pining of Spring when you live up North, as the North and its long, bone chilling winters are my roots.  Suddenly, there is asparagus in the supermarket and you breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that Spring and its warm breezes, daffodils and forsythia are not far off.Freshly steamed asparagus

My menu included mushrooms, which I sauteed with butter, olive oil, garlic, shallots, fresh chopped parsley, oregano, and Marsala wine. Delectable and most excellent with steak.  I also found those wonderful miniature Yukon golds again.  This time I gave them a light coating of olive oil and salt, wrapped them in tin foil, and placed them on the grill to cook. My Dad had rave reviews for them.  Actually, he had rave reviews for the whole meal, which makes me smile inside and want to cook more.    Miniature Yukon Golds

And as for the salad, I make my Mom’s traditional “rub the bowl with garlic” version that has been handed down through 4 Italian generations in my family.  This time I added in asparagus which I had lightly steamed and chilled.

It is Easter and it is Spring.  It is a season of rebirth and renewal.  The earth rejoices with new life.  It has most certainly been and continues to be a blessing of a day in every way.

Please do try this salad and tell me how you like it.  My dear friend, Agi, has been making it ever since I served it to her over 10 years ago.

Renew….refresh…..relax.

Happy Easter to All!

Peeking through the flowers on the dinner table

Rub the Bowl with Garlic Salad

1-Clean a few cloves of fresh garlic (This does NOT work with garlic powder)

2-Sprinkle a small amout of sea salt into a wooden salad bowl

3-Rub the cut side of the garlic with the salt all over the bowl.  The salt releases the essential juices from the garlic.

4-Add in your favorite fresh salad greens.  We like red leaf lettuce, Romaine, ripe tomato, and for Easter, I added in the fresh steamed and chilled asparagus.

5-Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and toss well.

Always delicious!

My Mini Flower Arrangement for the Easter Dinner (from my garden)


No Gluten Free Pastas Today

March 29th, 2009 gerinancy Posted in Islands of Happiness, Simple things No Comments »

Fresh fruit gluten free by the daisies

I did not cook gluten free pasta today.  In fact, I did not cook at all today.  Quite frankly, I have been quite exhausted lately, and I proclaimed a day of rest.  My sister,  Grace, endorsed me on my decision to take a day to nurture mind, body, and soul.   It was rainy all morning, but by early afternoon, the sun was shining, and it turned out to be a lovely Florida spring day.

Wayne and I are enjoying the fruits of our labor from last weekend.  Last Sunday, we planted flowers in pots, wild flower seeds, some small basil plants as well as sweet basil seeds.  The flowers received a good soaking from mother nature, and they just looked so radiantly beautiful in the freshly washed sunshine.   Here I am holding my dish of “naturally gluten free” fresh fruit (fresh papaya and raspberries, to be precise) in front of our daisies.

Below are snaps of our other flowers and our basil and wildflower seedlings.  It is fun to go out on the patio each day and watch them grow inch by inch out of the soil.

It was good to tend the garden of my heart today.  The day is closing and I do feel a deep sense of peace both physically and mentally.

Sometimes you just have to stop the cooking……………and smell the flowers!

Patio flowersimg_0574-2img_0563-2Yellow begongias img_0583-2Wildflower seedlings

Chilly Day Tuscan Soup Pot

March 22nd, 2009 gerinancy Posted in Islands of Happiness, Recipes No Comments »

Tuscan soup and gluten free French rolls

A hearty one-dish meal for those wintry evenings.  We even have some of those bone chilling days in Orlando, Florida.  Wayne and I welcome a bowl of this steamy, delicious soup packed with a variety of vegetables and beans.  As an accompaniment, I love Gillian’s French gluten free rolls, toasted and buttered (pictured above).

Ingredients

4 Tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 large stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 large carrots, diced
3 cans of beans, your choice, kidney, chick peas, or cannellini
3 cups washed and torn escarole leaves
1 large (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, diced (I love Dei Fratelli brand-close to fresh)
Bay leaf
1/2-1 teaspoon dried thyme, to your taste
1/2 cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1-2 precooked chopped Italian sausages
3 quarts chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a large soup pot, saute onion, celery, garlic and carrot together for several minutes, until flavors emerge.

Add beans, broth, and seasonings.

Add torn escarole leaves  once soup starts to simmer.

Add sausage and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring to boil, then lower heat, and simmer for about 1 hour.

Check your seasoning and adjust.

Serve piping hot in soup bowls and shave some fresh Parmigiana on top.

Delicious!


Italian Lentils Eduardo (Lenticchie)

February 22nd, 2009 gerinancy Posted in Islands of Happiness, Recipes 3 Comments »

Italian Lentils Eduardo (Lenticchie)

This is my 88 year old Dad’s recipe.   He cooked it yesterday at home and brought it over today so that we could all enjoy it together for dinner.  Yes, he still lives alone, and he still drives, and yes, he still cooks.  He is healthy, sharp of mind, and vibrant.  The only challenge he has is his hearing, and if that is all, well, bless his heart! I told him that I wanted to add this recipe to my blog, and he insisted I call it  ”Italian Lentils Eduardo”.  That’s because his name is Edward.  I call him Daddy-o.  Daddy-o AKA Chief AKA EduardoMy husband calls him “Chief”.  His nick name is Chief, ever since he told Wayne and me the story of  his grandfather, “Chiefie”, who taught him to play poker and pinochle.  Chiefie also smoked cigars, and my Dad enjoys a good cigar himself to this day (as you can see in this current picture).

Daddy-0, also known as Chief and Eduardo, is also very opinionated in the kitchen when I am doing the cooking.  He has to stir the pot, in many ways, so to speak.  My Mom used to find his culinary bossiness very annoying, and now I well understand.  But at 88 years old, you have well earned your rights to be opinionated in every realm, and along with his opinions come a plethora of wisdom.   I make sure I hear and appreciate every nuance of wisdom he offers.

So, tonight, after dinner, this amazing man, my Dad,  jotted down on a tablet of paper his “lenticchie” recipe.  He asked for paper and pencil.  He said he had to write it all down and think it through, before he could tell me what he did.  I sat across from him with my lap top patiently waiting for the disclosure of ingredients and method.  Two generations and two methods of transcription to provide you with a very unique and delicious dish.  He is thrilled that I am sharing his recipe with the world, and he also wanted me to tell you that he contributes his longevity to eating a lot of lentils and a lot of legumes.

Daddy-o, Chief, Eduardo, call him anything, but don’t call him late for dinner!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. dry lentil beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2/3 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz) chopped Italian tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup good quality olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste

 

Method:

Sort and wash lentils. Place in large saucepan with water and chicken broth. Cook until tender about
one hour.

To prepare Dad’s mirepoix of vegetables:  Saute garlic in oil until lightly golden. Add onions. Lower heat, cover, and
simmer together until transparent. Uncover and add ¼ cup water, celery, carrots, parsley, tomatoes, salt and black pepper to taste. Simmer for one hour.

Then add completely cooked lentils to mirepoix of vegetables.

Simmer together for 5- 10 minutes.

Serve alone with bread or on top of gluten free pasta or brown rice.