The Florida Ruskin Meets Exotic Italy Tomato Sandwich

April 28th, 2009 admin Posted in Debbie, Simple things, Travel bites No Comments »

Ruskin Tomato Stack

I truly don’t think that my ripe and sweet Florida Ruskin tomatoes ever thought they would be seasoned with real Balsamic vinegar from Italy.  This is authentic Balsamic vinegar (il borgo del balsamico) aged in oak casks carried with love by Wayne’s sister, Debbie, all the way from the Emilia Romano region of Italy.  The bottle is small and lovely and filled with this dark and precious vinegar.  What a fabulous gift.  It is so, so delicious.   Debbie told us that sometimes Italians put this vinegar over ice cream or fresh strawberries.  I haven’t tried that combo as yet.

This evening I created the perfect tomato stack.  I sliced a fresh, ripe Ruskin that I bought at my local produce market.  I went outside and picked some perky Basil leaves fresh from our plants.  They are doing really well. Wayne has grown a bunch of little basil plants from seedlings.  They are really taking off now.  I took out my pepper mill,  extra virgin olive oil, Debbie’s Balsamic, and mozzarella cheese.

First I placed a tomato slice on the plate, followed by a slice of mozzarella, then a basil leaf or two, then some cracked pepper, then another tomato slice on top, followed by more basil, and then olive oil and a sprinkling of vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.  Voila!  The Ruskin meets exotic Italy tomato sandwich!

I dedicate this delicious tomato creation to Wayne and his sister, Debbie.  Debbie, thank you so much for thinking of us and for your thoughtfulness to carry this precious bottle of Balsamic all the way from Italy.  And both Debbie and Wayne were raised in the Tampa area of Florida not very far where Ruskin tomatoes originate.

And last but not least, Wayne planted the seeds that grew into this amazing sweet Basil pictured above.

The tomato sandwich was sublime and truly an unexpected marriage of flavors.   Thank you, Debbie, again, and thank you, Wayne.  Thank you, Mom, for the gift of your beautiful plate (pictured above).

To Rice Chex or Not to Rice Chex, That is the Question

April 17th, 2009 gerinancy Posted in Great Finds, Simple things No Comments »

Gluten free cornflakes with blueberries

Being gluten intolerant, I have not indulged in breakfast cereal in a long time.  Most of the gluten free ones are like eating Styrofoam floating in milk, so I had humbly crossed that option off my breakfast choices.  I must admit, however, that I missed cereal now and then, because it is so refreshing in the morning with some cold milk, and also, I missed the fact that here was a wonderful way to get some “fiber” into my diet.  Then I recently read about Rice Chex becoming gluten free.  Like every other gluten free person, I became very excited about this.  I don’t know whether I was excited about that fact that they had become gluten free, or that I could actually walk down the regular cereal aisle in the supermarket (and it is a big one at that), and find a gluten free cereal choice.

So, during my next food shopping excursion, I perused the cereal aisle, and lo and behold, there they were, Gluten Free Rice Chex. I picked up the box and read all the ingredients and nutritional value box.  I was a bit disappointed, as this product clearly lacks fiber and has added refined sugar as well as the preservative, BHT.  I walked over to the Greenwise section of my market (Publix has a separate area for natural and organic foods), and discovered Nature’s Path Organic Corn Flakes.  They offered 2 grams of  fiber per serving as well as organic ingredients with no preservatives and the promise of organic.

Natures Path Gluten Free Cornflakes Box

Now in my heart, I just knew, even without tasting them, that the Rice Chex were going to taste good.  I was taking a gamble with the corn flakes. You, being gluten free, are quite familiar with being at this crossroads.   I did not dare say to myself,  “How bad can they be”?  I urged myself to be optimistic.  I brushed out of my mind the usual little balloon over my head that would have imagined a bowl of tasteless wood chips floating in cold milk.

This morning, I poured myself a bowl of Natures Path Gluten Free Corn Flakes.  I topped it with fresh blueberries.  I used Almond Milk and just a teaspoon of Half and Half cream in lieu of milk.  I just love the unsweetened Almond Milk.  It is gluten free and makes some awesome smoothies.   Yes, the corn flakes are delicious.  They are crisp and full of flavor, and they clearly lack that odd preservative flavor.  They are a hit and I am as excited, if not more excited, than everyone else who became excited about the Rice Chex.  I proceeded to visit the Nature’s Path website, and they do offer many other cereals that are gluten free, including some “rice” versions.  Will have to try some of those too.

In retrospect, it is truly a matter of choice and taste based on so many variables.  I am sure you will agree.  As for me, I could use some extra fiber in my life and I don’t need a lot of BHT, so I suppose I won’t be “chexing” any time soon.

And it you haven’t already, “chex” out some Natures Path cereals.

Mom’s Ultra Thin Home Fries

March 30th, 2009 gerinancy Posted in Recipes, Simple things No Comments »


Tonight we sort of had a breakfast and brunch type of food for dinner.  Necessity is the mother of invention, and I must say that the best meals evolve from whatever one happens to have left over around the house.  I had some sauteed pepper and onions left from a couple of days ago.  I heated them in my small skillet, added a handful of diced mozzarella, and then whipped up two eggs, poured it over the top, covered and lowered the heat, and voila, it turned out to be a delcious frittata.

I had found some amazing miniature Yukon Golds at my local green market on Saturday.  I had made a fish fry and baked them as an accompaniment.  About a dozen were left over just sitting in a bowl in the fridge.  I decided to make my Mom’s famous ultra thin and crispy home fries.  My husband, Wayne, absolutely loves anything potato, and if it is a home fry, well that just sends him home.

My mother’s method for these is so simple, yet delectably mouth watering.  The secret is the “chilled potato”.  Take out a nice large skillet that you are very familiar with and absolutely know that no sticking will occur.  Pour in about 1/4 inch of olive oil and when it is good and hot, drop in your thinly sliced, chilled potatoes.  You are blessed if you can find these small Yukon Golds.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and just a dash of garlic powder.

Let the potatoes brown on one side for a minute or two, and then flip them over to crisp up on the other side.  Repeat this over and over, until you have a pan full of the best in town crispy home fries ever!!!!

We ate every morsel. Even the tiny crispy pieces clinging to the side of the pan.  Now that’s a potato worth writing about.  (Thank you again, Mom.  I know she is smiling down on me.)

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

A Windy March Day, Spicy Sausage, and Gratitude

March 1st, 2009 gerinancy Posted in Quick and Easy, Recipes, Simple things No Comments »


 It is a beautiful March day here in Orlando.   These are the sublime days that we Floridians live for.  The windows are open and the breeze is rustling the palms out back.  The artistic March winds are painting lovely formations on the surface of our little lake.  My windchimes resound with music.  

Today I tried Niman Ranch Spicy Italian Uncured Sausage.  It is made with pork  raised without antibiotics or hormones and vegetarian fed. It is also gluten free! This is the second Niman Ranch product I have tried, and it turned out to be excellent.  The chilly and windy day created perfect conditions to step outside while you are cooking, and then come back in the house to become enamored with those delicious aromas!!!!  

I sauteed peppers and onions to go with the sausage, and then I served it up on a gluten free bun.  Unfortunately, I had run out of Gillians french rolls.  They are the best out there.  I served it a toasted Kinnikinnick hot dog bun, and it was quite tasty.  But watch out, because the spicy sausage lives up to its name with a little bit of a kick!

I sit in the living room later and think back.  The peppers and onions sautee in a pan. A lovely cool breeze arrives to enhance their aroma.  The sausage sizzles.  There is the sound of dinner plates being stacked to be brought to the table. People who love you enjoying the fruits of your labor.  It is like the entire experience of the meal has given me a warm hug, and that spells “comfort food” to me.


Spicy Gluten Free Sausage, Pepper and Onions


  1. 1 large onion sliced
  2. 2 red peppers, cleaned and sliced
  3. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  4. 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
  5. 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian blend seasoning
  6. 1/2 jar of your favorite marinated roasted peppers
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. 1 package Niman Ranch Spicy Italian Uncured Sausage


  • Brown the sausages per package directions, and set aside; pour off fat
  • Place olive oil, onions, pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper into hot skillet
  • Saute together until onions are slightly carmelized and peppers are almost tender
  • Add marinated roasted pepper; heat through
  • Add sausage to pepper mixture
  • Serve on toasted gluten free rolls or buns



Any Shape Pasta with Artichoke Hearts and Sun Dried Tomatoes

July 10th, 2008 gerinancy Posted in Recipes, Simple things No Comments »


It was a stormy, rainy summer evening. I had gone for a walk and got caught in the rain. It was rather fun, but as soon as I got back home and changed clothes, I knew I was in for the evening. I was hungry and did not want to trek back out for groceries. I took inventory of what I had on hand for dinner and came up with this dish. As I moved the garlic through the simmering olive oil in the skillet, I realized that this delicious aroma is one of my favorite childhood memories. Every Sunday morning, my Italian Mom would prepare a pot of spaghetti sauce. She would begin the process with the infamous simmering garlic and oil combo. The scent lingers deliciously in my mind. I also realized how easy it is to cook up something quick but equally delicious and nutritious. The best part is accomplishing a delightful dish like this with so few ingredients. The tomatoes, artichokes, garlic, and olive oil come packed with health enhancing phytochemicals, which I have outlined below. My husband and I just love this one… yummy!



¼ cup good quality olive oil

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ cup sundried tomatoes, rehydrated and thinly sliced

1 package frozen artichoke hearts

3 large plum tomatoes, skin removed, chopped

Handful fresh basil, chopped

Salt and black pepper to taste

16 oz. Tinkyada penne pasta

Parmigiana (grated) to sprinkle on top


Cook pasta per package directions unitl al dente. While water boils and pasta cooks, sauté garlic in olive oil. Do not brown or burn. Add both type of tomatoes and continue to sauté in the olive oil and garlic for a few minutes over low heat. Add the defrosted artichoke hearts and salt and pepper to taste, cover and simmer for a few minutes. Toss in fresh basil at end of a few minutes. Mix cooked, drained pasta into sauce adding some reserved pasta water to loosen up. Serve with a sprinkle of parmigiana cheese.

  • Artichokes-contains a flavonoid phytochemical that offers anticancer protection through its ability to act as an antioxidant
  • Tomatoes-cooked tomatoes, especially those cooked in oil, are rich sources of lycopene, thought to be responsible for protecting against prostate cancer ;they are also a rich source of beta-carotene
  • Garlic-contains the phytochemicals allicin and ajoene, thought to be responsibe for lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, and possibly reducing the risk of stomach cancer
  • Olive oil- rich in polyphenols, substances that have been found to be powerful antioxidants capable of protecting against certain types of disease; add a splash of extra virgin olive oil at the end while mixing the pasta with the sauce for an extra dose of polyphenols;extra virgin olive oil is richest in polyphenols


March 16th, 2008 gerinancy Posted in Simple things No Comments »

woodpecker2.JPGMy husband and I took a walk this morning and had the most wonderful opportunity to view up close two beautiful “red-bellied woodpeckers”. They were obviously a couple, and he was courting her. Her plumage was almost as colorful as his. They flitted around just above us in a tree. We were mesmerized. He called out to her with a lovely song. Definitely a fabulous way to start the day! OK, so you ask, what does this have to do with pasta? Well, obviously, we had pasta for dinner. Then we ventured outside to the back of our house which is situated on a small lake. The shadows of dusk were breathtaking on the houses across the way. The breeze had kicked up and it was creating ripples and waves on the surface. Wonderful eye dessert. Suddenly up in the sky, there was an elegant bird soaring over the lake. He kept soaring and circling and then diving into the water for fish. I ran to get my bird book. It turned out to be an “osprey”! He had a white belly, white head and a broad wing span. We just sat there on our swing and gazed up at his majestic beauty. Red bellied woodpeckers in the morning. Then a delicious pasta dinner. Then the osprey at day’s end. As I ran out the back door with the bird guide, I smelled a comforting childhood smell, that is, the smell of boiling pasta on a Sunday afternoon. I miss my mother, butospreyohio.jpg I actually got a little smile on my face, just remembering her at the stove stirring the two pots, one with homemade sauce and the other with the boiling pasta water. She put so much love into her cooking. I am convinced that is why it tasted so good! We are blessed. I wish you the same type of day soon. In fact, I wish you many days like these, filled with the marvels of nature, being in the moment, delicious pasta, and your mind happy with childhood nostalgia.

Small Marvels

February 17th, 2008 gerinancy Posted in Simple things No Comments »

RosedMy week started out on a bad foot. I am sure we all have those beginnings. But here, we are, Sunday night, and about to embark on a brand new week. Life always gives us many, many second chances and opportunities to start over. It is refreshing. I got to thinking about the small yet amazing marvels of my Sunday. I dare to even call them small, for with so many people in the world, and with such a vast world, I am just a minute particle. I was looking down on Orlando the other day from the 18th floor of a building downtown. The houses looked like toys. The cars looked ridiculous. Who would spend almost an entire year’s salary on one of those?! People were not even visible from that height. They were all insignificant in the scheme of things. But each day, we awaken and make it all significant. God cares about every little hair on our heads, so we are very special, and thank God for that! My Mom always talked about “islands of happiness”. She told me that life marches on uneventfully or in a most challenging and uninviting way. Then suddenly, without notice, comes an island of happiness floating along. They are slices of heaven. Today was no ordinary Sunday. Small marvels came to visit me. My miniature rose bushes sat naked all winter. This week they bloomed prolifically. I sit here on my lap top next to a tea cup filled with peach and white miniature roses that I cut just this morning. A mother duck and her brood of ducklings marched up the hill this evening to our swing in the back of our house. I cooked up the most delicious fresh spinach for dinner. Two friends called to say hello. We can just say that this is all very ordinary, or we can look at the islands of happiness with the eyes of a child and be filled with wonder and joy. I choose the path of wonder and joy. I keep looking at these small roses and all of their beauty, and I cannot help to think that one would never see their innate beauty from the 18th floor. Good night and pleasant dreams.