A past way of meal planning

I had a spiral-bound recipe book and was integrating those recipes into my regular recipe 3-ring binders.  In the front were some notes from when I was pantry-style cooking and whipping things up.  I had my monthly shopping list, my regular breakfasts, my rotation of beans, and a list of things to make regularly to have on hand to assemble meals. Plus my cooking plan and a rotation so I would buy specialty oils on a regular basis.

If memory serves, this was a moderately successful venture. While I’m good at cooking from recipes, I’m not the greatest at taking prepared ingredients and making a fabulous meal, possibly because I’m not good at seasoning food. Thus, everything kind of tastes the same.

I think after this I signed up for a monthly Stonesoup subscription where she sent me six (or seven?) 5-ingredient recipes. That cost $20 per month and I did that for about a year.

Vintage Cakes: Cassata Cake


According to Vintage Cakes, this cake was brought to America at the turn of the 20th century from Sicily and has flourished in Ohio. This version is a vanilla cream cake with ricotta-cream frosting, orange zest, chocolate shavings, and blueberries. The blueberries were supposed to be strawberries, but it must have been very cold in California this spring, because strawberries were not to be found.

I didn’t love this particular flavor combination, but I knew that going in.  It was a good cake, otherwise.

Hot tip: use your double timer to your advantage

One of the annoying factors of baking cookies is having to turn the cookies halfway through the baking time. If I’m using the oven timer I have to remember to reset the timer. It’s not unusual for me to forget this, usually on the last round of cookies.

However!  I now have this timer that can have three different times running on it, and it occurred to me that I could set the top timer for half time and the second timer for the full time and then start them both at the same time. Then, as I’m rotating the cookies, that second timer just keeps counting down. Brilliant!

Spiraling is fun

I won a drawing and the prize was a $50 Visa gift card. I spent it on a spiralizer and my goodness, but that is a fun, superfluous kitchen item.

I’ve made pasta from scratch before, and it’s a so-so endeavor. The pasta wants to break a lot as you are rolling it out, and my memories of it are that it doesn’t taste as good as dried pasta.

But vegetables?  They don’t break!  If the surface being spiralized is big enough, the strands just keep getting longer. It’s very satisfying.

Enchilada Bubble Up Casserole

I got very excited at the thought of a bubble up casserole, wherein the stuff below bubbles up between the bits of dough and it all cooks together into one delicious mass. So I made one. This is from Budget Bytes (and thank you, Jan, for the recommendation. It’s a great site.)

Sadly, I had too many biscuit drops and they all grew together before the enchilada sauce could bubble up. Only around the outsides did the bubbling up happen like I thought it would.

It was still very good. Also, I didn’t follow the directions fully and I accidentally put the cheese on before I put the biscuit pieces on. I think it looks better that way, anyway.

Mom’s Birthday cake 2018


Mom requested chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting for her birthday. And that’s what she got. This was a delicious chocolate cake (following the directions, I made a “pudding” first) and the cream cheese frosting nicely set it off.

The cats were also interested in the cream cheese frosting, and knocked the leftover cake off the counter in an attempt to get to it. They were thwarted by the Tupperware container.

What the fridge looks like at the end of the month


My every-two-weeks shopping trip, combined with the fact that a month isn’t four weeks, but instead four weeks and a few days, meant that I ate leftovers for this week.  Tomorrow, I go grocery shopping.  Today?  All that is left are things in the dairy family (cheese, buttermilk, milk), two servings of soup, some lentils and a drawer full of onions. Thank goodness February has only four weeks.

Recipe and phone number

I’ve got a three-ring binder of recipes. Sometimes it needs to be culled.
This recipe was hand copied from a cookbook my roommate had. It was back when I had to walk to the library, or use the copier in the grocery store, to reproduce something. Digital cameras were just getting started so most of the time it was easier to hand copy. I don’t think I’ve made Michael’s Peanut Butter Cookies since I left Massachusetts, so it’s time to let this recipe go.

I did want to capture some other things that used to happen. Jotting my roommate Jill’s work number on this piece of paper shows a few things. One was calling people at their place of employment used to be a thing you had to do if you wanted to talk to them during work. When I worked for Whole Foods in the late 90’s the woman who answered phones hated how many personal calls she had to transfer. Though some people had cell phones, not enough of us did that they could make a blanket “no personal phone calls” policy. There was strong encouragement to only have friends and family call in case of an emergency. But we had to make our plans for our life outside of work, so calling people at work happened. The other thing is writing phone numbers down. While I still do tend to copy phone numbers to paper in a pinch, the only reason to do that now is so I’m closer to my end goal of getting them into my contacts, an electric file stored in the GoogleLand and available on my phone.

Also back in the day, if you had a phone number and didn’t know what it was for, you could go to the library and use a reverse directory to find its owner. I never did that, but it got brought up a lot in the era when caller-ID was first rolling out. Now, you google. This phone number seems to belong to something called TC Systems. I’m pretty sure that’s not where Jill was working in 2000.

One more observation: incomplete doodle around the phone number. If I was talking with Jill, our call must have ended before I finished shading my wavy line.

Vintage Cakes: Honey Bee Cake and Jam Cake with Chocolate Caramel Ganache

I made two cakes for the September/October birthday celebrations this year. Usually we have two celebrations. Chris and my Aunt Carol come first, and then mine.  This year, Chris and Aunt Carol opted out of a celebration, so we kind of celebrated all three birthdays at once.

Because Chris doesn’t like chocolate I made this Honey Bee Cake. It’s a buttermilk cake with a honey glaze.  Baking it, I was reminded that I’m not the greatest fan of honey’s super-sticky properties.  The cake itself was quite good.

This was the chocolate choice of the night. It’s a Jam Cake with Caramel Chocolate Ganache.  I didn’t quite get the caramel right, so the taste was very faint.  Other than that, this was a moist, lightly spiced cake. I’ve made a lot of the cakes in the Vintage Cakes cookbook.  We’re down to the ones that either have an ingredient I can’t justify purchasing, (The Harvey Wallbanger, which calls for 2 tablespoons of Galliano) or the ones that don’t appeal to me (Bananna Cake with Coffee Walnut Buttercream.)  Looking over the table of contents, there are a few more I want to bake, but this project is tapering off.