Home Gardens

who has not dreamt of a home garden

i guess you have to dream of a home first 🙂

so on a little visit to a friend recently we hit the jackpot

the friend kept such a nice organized garden


she had squash, bitter melon, bodi (long beans), tomatoes, scallions, peppers (small hot and regular), okra, string beans, cucumber and zucchini

it was a hobby and something she did when she came home from work–some of us watch tv, some of us cook and bake, some us run, some of bike, some of us play video games, some of us sleep

or you could do some serious gardening, in the summer at least


check out the pictures (below)

today i will make my favorite pie (previous posting)–zucchini, tomato, eggplant pie (super easy)

I also will make the bodi into curry bodi–curry bodi is an Indian favorite from the West Indies

the cucumbers–we will just eat with every meal and maybe i will make a tzatziki dip for vegetables

then nothing would have gone to waste

attached are some recipes from my previous post and also the tzatziki dip (unproven) and another layer pie for veggies–enjoy

(click links)
Weekend gardening






Kid Friendly Recipe (NYWCA)

Blueberry Cobbler

YIELD: 8 portions
1 bag (1 pound) frozen blueberries (about 3- 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup turbinado (raw) sugar or granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread blueberries in ungreased 8 or 9-inch square baking dish or pan. Sprinkle with cornstarch; drizzle with lemon juice; set aside. In medium bowl combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk and butter; stir just until combined (not smooth.) Drop mounds of dough onto blueberries. Pour boiling water over dough and fruit. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and blueberries are bubbly, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


kid friendly recipes–pecan cookies

So I participate in this this class with my alliance group called Cooking with Kids.

We do recipes that are fairly simple (most of the time) and that do not require too much fancy knife skills or operation of equipment. If there is any of that, we break up the tasks and assist on the most difficult ones.

With that said, here is one of the recipes that I took to a party (already tested out as Christmas gifts a few years ago) and the reception was great, even though I felt the cookies could have been a little softer. HOWEVER, I hate soft cookies with a passion so I should hold my tongue and be glad they received a good review.

3/4 cup pecans
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar plus some for coating
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)–room temp–if mixing by hand, you may want to soften to just before the point that is starts to become liquid, that will make the mixing faster

Preheat oven at 350 degrees
put pecans on a cookie sheet and toast in oven for 6 minutes max, 5/5.5 is okay too, but watch it
once finished, chop with a chefs knife (so the pieces are still recognizable)
in mixer or by hand mix butter and sugar till light (1 min)
then add vanilla, salt
then add flour a little a time and mix till combined (do not over mix)
lastly add the pecans and fold in with a plastic spatula (baking)

form 1″ balls, then flatten, dip one side into extra sugar and place on cookie sheet (sugar side up),
place 3″ apart, then put sheet in fridge for an hour (optional)

bake until golden brown, rotate half way through cooking-about 10 minutes in, and then let it go for about 8 more minutes
cool on a rack after 2 minutes


Cookies, muffins, cakes–mistakes to avoid

5 Common Cookie Mistakes

Milk can help wash down failed baking experiments at home. But it can’t save you from turning up at a holiday party with tough, flat or, worse, fugly cookies. The F&W Test Kitchen’s Kay Chun, however, can help. Here, she explains how to avoid the most common mistakes.

1. Underbeating (a.k.a. undercreaming) the butter and sugar. The butter mixture should be pale yellow in color and fluffy, which takes about three minutes; this helps form tiny air bubbles so that during baking, the bubbles expand and help the cookies rise.

2. Overbeating (overcreaming) the butter and sugar. Stop once the butter is pale yellow and fluffy, otherwise the butter starts to break down and release all those air bubbles you’ve just created. During baking, the cookies will remain flat and dense.

3. Placing the cookies too close together on the baking sheet. Give the cookies enough space to spread. If there’s not enough room, bake the cookies in batches.

4. Overmixing the cookie batter. Overmixing activates the gluten in the flour, yielding chewy and tough cookies. Beat in the flour on low speed just until combined.

5. Overbaking the cookies. Check the cookies at the minimum baking time and remove them when they’re lightly golden on the top and bottom, and firm around the edges. Even a few extra minutes can lead to cookies that are too dark and very hard once they’ve cooled.

08-Feb-2011 by bronzegoddess_bright

Tips To Avoid Baking Dry & Hard Muffins! Even the best of us need tips to bake the perfect muffins. Dry & hard muffins?!? Yikes!! Who needs them? …………..

1. A Recipe for disaster
What I mean by a recipe for disaster is this; a poorly conceived recipe. It could be a poorly constituted recipe or the recipe writer would have forgotten to include a few ingredients. My advice to is to read the recipe properly. If you feel as if something is amiss, counter check with other recipes of the same dish. And one also has to be astute and apply common sense while dealing with such recipes.

2. No Baking powder, no muffin love
Most of the muffin recipes will include 2 to 3 teaspoons of baking powder. If you do not add baking powder to you muffins, they will be poorly textured and will not rise. The will be thick and more or less inverted. And if you haven’t guessed it, there will be dry & hard muffins in your tray.

3. To stir or not to stir
The ground rule of muffin making is never to use a electric mixer to prepare the batter. Over done batter is one of the reasons resulting in dry & hard muffins. If you stir enough to moisten the dry ingredients, it should do. Ideally, you should just stir till you get a lump free batter. You can accomplish this in about 15 to 20 strokes of the ladle.

4. No more eggheads
The funny thing about the eggs is that when you put in more than what is required, your muffins will be rubbery, smelly and dry. If you are baking some that eggless variety, you can skip this section.

5. Over-baking
This is a very common mistake that many of us make. If the muffins are baked for a long time or if they are cooked at a very high temperature; you can be sure to have dry & hard muffins. To avoid baking dry muffins, just bake till it is required. And do not forget that muffins are in the oven.

6. How is your pan?
Do not use dark, non-stick pans as they absorb all the heat and burn out the muffins. Always use the regular shiny, greased pans to bake them.

Read more at http://www.ifood.tv/blog/tips-to-avoid-baking-dry-hard-muffins#zR2auFZWsFQ00MHu.99
Baking Problems

If your baked goods have a questionable taste, weird texture, or just aren’t looking their best, let our solutions to common baking mistakes help.

First we have this mistake: You make substitutions to lighten your favorite full-fat recipes

The Result: You wreck the underlying chemistry of the dish.

The Fix: Substitutions are a particular temptation, and challenge, with healthy cooking. At Cooking Light it’s our job to substitute lower-fat ingredients―to change the cooking chemistry a bit while capturing the soul of a dish. When it comes to baking, this is as much science as art.

We’ll get calls from readers about cakes turning out too dense or too gummy. After a little interrogation, we’ll get to the truth―that the reader used ALL applesauce instead of a mix of applesauce and oil or butter or went with sugar substitute in place of sugar. Best practice: Follow the recipe, period.

(this was a sample, balance of article can be found at the above address.)

Cooking with Sparks Catering Services-April

What was I up to last week? Let’s See. Making Lasagna and then various dishes. April 14th
photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

photo 5

Broccoli Rabe

Cubed Chicken

Stirfry SCS

Chili SCS

My favorite dish to make takes the longest. Lasagne can be made so easily, it is just time consuming. Vegetarian or meat based–either way, you can make the sauce great and season the vegetables to your liking.

My stir-fry veggies is pretty wild too. I can add anything, but it too takes a few minutes as you cannot cook all veggies together.

Until next time.


All I was responsible for was taking the notes of the meeting. So what could go wrong.
1) showed up a little later than I would have liked
2) was way in the back so had to strain to hear
3) did not interact with many people–actually I did but not the people whom I thought I would
4) even had to confirm the winners–how sad

I did however get photos of the food-which is all that matters. I like to see what people come up with and how they display things. It may be the best, dish but if it is to messy, I can’t tell what it is, or it seems to be a plain dish, then it changes my perception of how it might taste and then may deter me from even trying it. Sometimes I like things that have familiar ingredients. If I am hungry, which I usually am at these things, I want to eat fast and what I know.

Here are the photos. Enjoy the feast for the eyes.
a treat for the senses

Angel Food cake, balsamic strawberries


Blackeyed Peas n Collard Greens

Buckwheat Noodles--Presentation Winner

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Popums

Cool Vegetable Salad

Deviled eggs w seafood

First time desserts

Gluten Free Pretzels

Greek Mac and Cheese--Theme Winner

Green is Good

Greens and Grains

Med. Triangles aka Greek Nachos

Meyer Lemon Curd Tart

Pickles--Winner for Taste

Picnic anyone

Provencal Spring Fritata

Sushi and Sandwich

Tomato Tart w Goat Cheese


Blueberry Scones–A long term friendship

I love scones. The first time I tasted scones, I was studying in London. I loved the crunch outside and the soft inside. I cannot even remember the flavor I had but I knew I had found a life long “friend.”

So I have eaten scones very rarely but my current job makes some decent scones. I partake in it so no it is not rarely, by rather occasionally. I also have a few recipes. One calls for buttermilk and whole wheat pastry flour in addition to the other ingredients. TOO MANY INGREDIENTS I say, plus I did not feel like going back outside for buttermilk and then having to seek and capture whole wheat pastry flour.

I decided to use this recipe I found online. Blueberry Scones

This was a trial so very rarely is it what you want on the first try.
I followed directions for 97% of it. When I finished making the dough it was a little wet but not such that I could not form it. That may be normal. I also did not use the raw sugar–I had some creme of coconut so I mixed that with heavy creme and brushed the top of the scones.

I do not like to put my oven on 400 (sensitive alarms) so I started with 350, then midway moved to 375 and then for last 5 minutes, 400. It was rather brown but it was cooked. It was nice and crunchy-not to the cookie point. The inside was like a muffin. It was however somewhat salty. The first taste is not sweet, but rather a little salty. HMMMMM. I know that baking powder is salty like and we also added a tablespoon of salt. Next time, maybe just a pinch.

Check it out. (Don’d mind the browness-that was just a few minutes too long in oven)IMG_0182














Tea and Scones anyone!
Where are the Brits when we need them! 🙂


Oh how I hate bones. The truth is, I cannot have a quick meal when there are bones. Case in point. A while back I bought some turkey legs chopped up like oxtail. I guess I was really wanting oxtail. SO I cooked the turkey in this great sauce and great potatoes to accompany it. I was all set to chow down and every bite had a bone. These were not huge bones that you could suck/bite the meat off. NO, these were the iddy biddy bones that are a pain in the buttocks. SO what will I never do again, buy turkey legs like this. I am a cold cut and turkey breast kind of gal-for life

But you have to see why I was so torn. Check this out.

roasted pumpkin and potato wedges

Share which meat/fish you “enjoy” deboning.

Until my next meat adventure, so long from boneless nation.