There are certain times that I like to have the kitchen to myself, such as when I’m trying to go quickly, or if I’m grilling something. However, there are other times when I yell through the house for a sous chef or two. Today was one of those days.

The kitchen was dirty from days of entertaining family, and the refrigerator was empty after all of the leftovers were reheated, packed for drives home, or wrapped inside a brown paper bag and ready for lunch. And now the family was gone. We were left with cold rainy weather and nothing to do. I reasoned it was as good a time as any for some comfort food.
I know that I’m cheating. I said these would be strictly family recipes. And it half is. But I have to admit, I tinkered a little. But in my defense, I was throwing this together. Also in my defense, I believe that chicken broth can make anything just a little better. Continue reading


Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookes

As with most families, mine has a chocolate chip cookie recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation. I don’t actually know where it started, but we credit my great-grandma Daisy in the family cookbook. Honestly, I don’t really care where it originated, but I am thankful that it found its way into my childhood. These cookies are delicious right out of the oven when they are still falling apart, and before they reach the oven, and when they’ve cooled down enough to be dipped in milk.

Whenever someone brings home a good friend, or if we need to supply a dessert for a party, or even if it’s Easter, these cookies appear. Their beauty lies in their simplicity–my mother claims it takes only three minutes to get the first batch into the oven. (Both she and my grandmother are now to the point where they have memorized the recipe; that is one of my culinary goals.)

This morning I am driving to go visit a friend, and I just decided, 10 minutes ago, that I need to bring her a treat. I’m guessing only half makes it to her house. Continue reading

Pizza Roll

For no reason in particular, I never enjoyed pizza; at least, I never liked the pizza we had delivered. It might be something about the freshness of the veggies, the potential sogginess of crust, or maybe the excess of sugar in the sauce.

However, once I figured out the magic of homemade crust, the church of pizza had a new convert. Grilled, baked, folded over, maybe with apples and cinnamon… I’m hooked. A few months back, my mother made something that my aunt has entitled pizza loaf. I cannot get over this name. It makes me think of a pizza-meatloaf. What a terrible combination. Luckily, it tasted nothing like this.

No matter how many times we have made this, the name has remained pizza loaf, despite my protestations. I will present it to you as a pizza roll, because it is literally a square pizza that has been rolled, but keep in mind, no one in my family will know what you are saying. Continue reading

Beef Wellington

My favorite job during my under-grad years was my brief stint as a cook at the local restaurant. The place claimed to be Mediterranean, but judging by the amount of steak I prepared, it catered more to the tastes of the locals. There are a few vital lessons I learned in that kitchen:
First, hold the knife correctly. If you’re not using a knife that has been sharpened recently, or if you are cutting against yourself, you will get loudly cussed out. I learned this my very first day while dicing shallots.

Second, the only time food will taste perfect is when it is in season and grown by your neighbors. My college was in a fairly rural environment, so it was normal to find yourself preparing food for the farmers who grew it—nearly all produce we served was locally grown. No matter how popular our carrots were, we never had them in the spring or summer.

Third lesson… everything tastes good in puff pastry. One night when we couldn’t come up with a special, we decided to do a blue cheese burger in puff pastry. We sold out in just over an hour.
I’ve graduated now and moved out of town. The restaurant changed names and menus. Thank goodness puff pastry will always be there. Continue reading

Corn Sausage Chowder

Normally, I would rank spring as one of my least favorite seasons. The constant rain, wind, and clouds grate on my nerves after a week or so. However, this year might convince me to reevaluate my views. The weather has been warm, hot even, reaching the 80s consistently; my younger brother has been tanning in the backyard for weeks. Today, however, the temperature has dipped, my brother has come inside, and it is the perfect day for some comfort food via my mother.

Even though Mom claims to have no recipes of her own, she is constantly in the business of swapping her secrets with friends and family. This recipe came from one of these exchanges. One of my father’s rugby teammates gave this corn chowder recipe to my mother years ago. It has become a cold weather standby. And although snow usually graces the yard on the evenings we eat this chowder, I had a craving.

The original recipe calls for 2-3 beers, “anything in the fridge is fine.” We’ll be out, so my mother goes out to the store and picks up a six-pack. Once you turn the page over, the first step reads: “drink one beer.” It continues in this fashion, sporadically instructing the cook to drink the other bottles. She forgets every time, expecting to pour the beer into the chowder. In honor of my mom, cheers. Continue reading