Thursday, October 3, 2019

Butterscotch Sauce

For the original version and photos, see Here are my pared down directions.

4 tbl. butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter in saucepan. Add sugar, salt, and cream, stir well to mix. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add vanilla. Will thicken more as it cools. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Hot Fudge Sauce

I found this recipe on a blog called Creations by Kara at For a more detailed and beautiful recipe presentation with lots of pictures, please visit that blog.

Here is my pared down version.

1 - 1/2 cups sugar
6 to 8 tbl. cocoa
Dash of salt
12 oz. can evaporated milk

1/4 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix sugar, cocoa, and salt in a saucepan. Gradually add the milk while continuing to stir. Bring to a boil, simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add butter and vanilla. Stir until butter is dissolved. Cool slightly and pour into a covered jar. Keep refrigerated. Will thicken more when chilled.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Vanilla Ice Cream

Soft serve stage

After being frozen for several hours

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix well until sugar is dissolved. Freeze in an electric ice cream maker, following manufacturer's directions. My ice cream maker takes 30 minutes.

This results in a soft serve-type ice cream. For traditionally-textured ice cream, transfer to covered bowl and freeze for several hours.


When our kids were small, we used an old-fashioned hand cranked White Mountain ice cream freezer. They sat on the front porch to turn the crank and there was always someone to take over when the cranker got tired or impatient.

Now I use a Cuisinart electric ice cream maker. It's loud but simple to use. The directions say to freeze the bowl of the ice cream maker for 12 hours or so before using it. I just keep the clean bowl in my big freezer all summer so it is ready to make ice cream at any time.


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Recipes from Three Pines, Quebec

image from eBay

With her Chief Inspector Gamache series, author Louise Penny has created a tucked-away world in the fictitious village of Three Pines, Quebec. While solving crimes and discussing life, her characters have lovely meals in their own homes and in Olivier's Bistro.

During this blazing New Mexican summer, I was dreaming of snowfall on the Three Pines village green, blazing fires in the snug bistro, and tables laid with plates of Shepherd's Pie. I searched around for recipes from Three Pines and this is what I found.

You can download a pdf file of Louise Penny's cookbook, The Nature of the Feast, which contains the recipes from the Gamache series in the section below, plus a few more:

Here are some of the recipes from the series website at

Apple and Avocado Salsa with Honey-Lime Dressing

Cheese and Leek Dish with a Crunchy Crumble Top:

Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse

Duck, Brie, and Fig Confit Sandwich

French Onion Soup

Grilled Garlic Shrimp and a Quinoa-Mango Salad

Homemade Lemonade

Pain Doré

Roast Turkey and Chestnut Stuffing

Steak Frites with Mayonnaise

Sugar Pie


So far, so good. Thinking of the many other culinary experiences in the books, I was lucky enough to come across a website done by a book discussion group that took each dish and figured out how to cook it. The site is called The Night is a Strawberry; Cooking Our Way to Three Pines. Here you will find Parsnip and Apple Soup, Shepherd's Pie, Clotted Cream, Hot Chocolate, many more recipes and a bonus: In Search of a Licorice Pipe.

And here is a complete pdf version of Les Saveurs de Three Pines:

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Watermelon Strawberry Caprese Salad

Serves 6.

3 cups watermelon balls
2 cups halved small strawberries
1 pint cherry tomatoes
8 oz. fresh water packed mozzarella balls, cherry sized
salt and pepper
basil leaves for garnish

Basil Vinaigrette:
1 small shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbl. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/3 tsp. black pepper
Mix all in blender or food processor until smooth

Monday, July 15, 2019

Best Pumpkin Bread Ever

From the files of my sister, Auntie Bucksnort. There is a copy at


  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Even better the second day.

Auntie Bucksnort's Spicy Peanut Noodles

In her own words:

Very simple & quick - it's my go-to-must-have-carbs-right-this-instant dish.

Wide rice noodles (boil 12 minutes, then rinse really well with hot water). 

In a big microwave proof bowl: a bunch of Mae Ploy sauce (cheapest at the cheapy groovy food supply store*) w/ a great big glop of smooth cheapy peanut butter. (Might be even better w/ chunky p.b.) Heat that for 3 minutes, whisk in rice wine vinegar and a whole bunch of lime juice

Toss in noodles. I like to add a bunch of sliced hearts of palm from the cheapy groovy food supply store if I have them. And I like eating it hot or cold. Might be good as a base for pad thai. Cheapest to order the noodles if you can bear dealing with the great big footprint of all that prime packaging.

My note:

*The cheapy groovy food supply store: We never can remember the name of this place since it seems to change hands before we can get used to what it's called. Right now it is Shamrock Foods and is located at 2489 N Main St, Las Cruces, NM 88001.

I always find it by searching online for "Las Cruces restaurant supply" since it has restaurant-style bowls, utensils, and pans in addition to lots of interesting foods.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Recipes for a Zero Waste Household

We are doing our best to move toward zero waste production in our house, which means keeping in mind the old slogan:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Plastic is number one on our list: Our goal is to reduce the number of  plastic items coming into the house, reuse the ones we already have as we use up their contents, and recycle the remaining ones. When, say, a container of dishwasher liquid is empty, I search for a homemade solution to put into it. Since I found a good recipe for a dry dishwasher soap, I've put that into a clean glass container and have rinsed and recycled the huge plastic dishwasher detergent container (vowing never to buy another).

It's important to realize that plastic doesn't go away (see Humans Have Made 8.3 Billion Tons of Plastic: and that very little of recyclable plastic actually gets recycled (see A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn't Recycled:

In addition to reducing plastic use, we are working on reducing our dependence on paper products. As we use up our existing supply, we try to figure out a substitute for each product. 

And so it goes, one step at a time. And yes, these steps might take a little longer but I believe that we owe it to the earth and to ourselves.

Here are some of the recipes and substitutions we've found so far.


Paper towels: We have put a stack of clean old dishcloths where the paper towels used to be.

Dishwasher detergents: 

There are lots of diy mistures online, but this one worked best with our very hard water:

1/2 cup washing soda
1/4 cup Oxi Clean
1 tsp. citric acid

Use 1 tbl. of this mixture, together with three drops blue Dawn detergent in the soap dispenser and 1/2 cup vinegar in a cup in the top rack.

Food waste:
We feed scraps to our chickens and compost the rest. Bits of meat or bones are frozen until it's time to put them into the trash (which we have reduced to once a month pickup).

We buy drinking water in large jugs that we take back to the store when empty. We carry refillable personal aluminum water bottles instead of plastic ones.

We use mesh fabric bags for buying produce, and fabric grocery bags to carry food home.

Make our own:
I've always liked cooking from scratch. When I noticed the empty plastic yogurt containers stacking up, I went back to making my own yogurt. It's made in glass jars in the instant pot, and a little from each batch acts as a starter for the next. The recipe is here:

Food storage:
We use recycled glass and plastic containers for leftovers, silicon food storage bags in the fridge and freezer, and we wash and reuse the ziplock bags that we purchased before our zero waste project.

When we painted our kitchen cabinets, we added one that holds two trash containers--one for trash and one for recyclable materials. The containers slide out and back in for a less messy look and are less tempting to our dogs.

Our garbage pickup company wants all trash bagged, and I wanted to stop buying plastic kitchen garbage bags--so now we reuse feed bags (chicken food, dog food) to put the garbage into. Seems like a win-win to me. The only problem? We have far more empty feed bags than trash!


DIY Tub and Toilet Cleaner (from 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste, by Kathryn Kellogg):
3/4 cup baking soda
2-3 tbl. hydrogen peroxide
2-3 tbl. liquid castile soap

Mix together to make a thick paste. Rub the paste onto the surface, let sit 10 minutes, wipe and rinse.

We have substituted a little jar of baking soda for all those non-recyclable tubes of toothpaste. It works great, and my dentist approves.
Update: I like this recipe even better: Equal parts baking soda and coconut oil, flavored with a few drops of peppermint.

Panty Liners and Sanitary Pads:
Make your own washable liners (here is one pattern; there are lots of others online: or purchase some online from Etsy or Amazon. You will be amazed at how much money you save and at how much the bathroom waste is reduced. Just rinse them out, wash with the regular laundry, and let them dry on a rack in the sun.

I am using a shampoo bar (it comes wrapped in paper) now and am finding it economical, fragrant, and good for my hair. Another option is to buy liquid shampoo from bulk containers (bring your own container and have the checker weight it empty). I found that our local food coop has a good variety of bulk lotions, soaps, and shampoos.

Believe it or not, good old apple cider vinegar works great.

Body Wash:
Buy bulk, or just use bar soap. I have a big bottle of Dr. Bronner's castile soap that I water down and put in the old body wash container.

We stopped buying plastic shavers and invested ($8.00 on Amazon) in an old-fashioned metal safety razor with razor blades. Works great, less waste.



Powdered form:
One  4 lb. box of each: Super washing soda, borax, and baking soda; 3 bars of Fels Naptha soap (or Kirk's, Zote, or Ivory) grated. Mix (wear gloves) in a large container. Use 2 heaping tbl. for each load. Works great. For a smaller batch: one bar of Fels Naptha, 16 oz. each of super washing soda, borax, and baking soda.

Liquid form:

Dryer sheets:

You can use a washcloth dampened with vinegar in the dryer load
You can add 1/2 white vinegar to the washer load
You can buy Laundry Betty felted wool balls from Amazon
My favorite: Toss a few clean, dry tennis balls into the dryer along with the wet clothes. This works--no static.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Almond Butter Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar

Mix together with paddle attachment in stand mixer. Whip at high speed for five minutes.

1 cup almond butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Continue whipping for another two to three minutes.

Sift together:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

Add sifted ingredients to the first mixture. Stir just until completely blended.

Chill dough for at least an hour. Don't skip this step.

Drop cookies onto parchment lined cookie sheets, 1/4 cup for each cookie. Cookies should be four inches apart.

Bake at 350 F for 12 minutes. Let cool on the parchment paper. Store in freezer bags. Makes abou 21 large cookies.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Alton Brown's Homemade Marshmallows

I added a bit of pink coloring and used heart shaped cookie cutters for my second batch

I've always wanted to try making marshmallows and am loving Alton Brown's method. It can be a bit sticky, but if you follow his directions carefully, you will have great success. 

We served these with the most decadent hot chocolate we could make, sipped by the side of the kiva fireplace, which was decorated for Christmas. 

  1. 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  2. 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  3. 12 ounces granulated sugar
  4. 1 cup light corn syrup
  5. 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  8. 1/4 cup cornstarch
  9. Nonstick spray
  1. Combine the gelatin with 1/2 cup of the cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
  2. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, the granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. When the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
  3. Turn the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
  1. Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
  2. When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula [or your fingers dipped in water and shaken off] for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  3. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel or knife dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.