Thursday, November 26, 2009



Sweet Potato Orange Cups

Holidays still excite me. Anticipation of getting together with loved ones motivates me to hit the kitchen. Each year I like to experiment with new recipes along with my favorite Thanksgiving fare.

My younger son, Cameron arrived last night from Northern Virginia, bringing all the ingredients that I cannot find here in Roanoke. It’s exciting to see him come through the door with all the Trader Joe goodies.

Trader Joe goodies

Most of the family went for the annual Drumstick Dash, held in downtown Roanoke. This year there were over 7,000 people running. Proceeds from the run go to The Rescue Mission.

Here is our gang

My four children, Cam, Kirsten, Charlie and Kelli

My bread is rising. I’m making my standard Gruyere Herb Bread along with a new (to me) recipe for Finnish Cardamon Bread. I found the recipe in my mom’s recipe file. In our area of the country, Northeastern Ohio, Eastern Europeans settled and brought with them a wealth of fantastic recipes. What some people would consider specialties, we knew to be standard fare. I learned how to make Halupki and Kolache, when I was a child of ten years old. This particular Finnish bread makes 9 large loaves. It smells wonderful as it is rising. I wonder what it will taste like.

Finnish Cardamon and Gruyere Herb Bread rising

Somehow my gravy turned out better this year than usual. I don’t think I added anything different. The standard ingredients I use are turkey broth, carrots, onions, celery, turkey neck, salt and pepper and turkey drippings.

Turkey gravy

I’m making the orange, cranberry relish from a recipe my friend, Cheryl Harvey, gave me.

Cranberry Orange Relish

We are having our celebration at my youngest daughter, Kirsten’s house this year. Everyone will be bringing the rest of the Thanksgiving dinner. Each and every one of our family will contribute their very best.

I am thankful this year for many things. Last year during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday, my oldest daughter, Kelli, underwent a stem cell transplant for cancer. She has Multiple Myeloma. We spent the better part of four months in Richmond while she went through what now seems to me to be a miraculous treatment. I am thankful that she is a survivor. Sometimes we have sadness that enters our lives but in the midst of it all, there is also much good that comes our way. I will be discussing Kelli’s story in length in a future blogpost. This subject may be difficult for some to read and I certainly don’t blame you if you want to tune out for my cancer series. I am hoping to enlighten and inform with my post.

Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

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Monday, November 23, 2009



Worth the 7-day wait!

Once in a while, I like to make a dish in advance, place it in the refrigerator, and just pop it on the counter for my guests to enjoy. You might be thinking that this shrimp could not possibly be kept covered for 7 days without becoming spongy or rubbery. Believe me, when you prepare them this way, they are always as fresh tasting as if they had just been steamed. They are savory beyond words and always disappear quickly when I serve them.

Serves: 12 people, as an appetizer

Remember: The dish must be made 7 days ahead of serving time.


2 lbs. peeled, cooked shrimp
2 large onions
1 container bay leaves


1 ¾ cups salad oil –do not use olive oil
5 T. celery seed
2 T. Tabasco
1 cup regular vinegar
2 t. salt


Layer shrimp, sliced onions and bay leaves in shallow glass dish with lid. Pour mixed marinade over shrimp and cover with lid or aluminum foil. Cover entire dish with a good plastic wrap and refrigerate for 7 full days.

Serve in a large decorative bowl.

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Friday, November 20, 2009



Gary dive's for better view of turtle

I met Gary Hunt about 30 years ago. Since then, he has been indispensible to the many renovations at my home, Woodloft. He created the six outdoor ponds there including one fashioned from a green Roman bathtub recessed in the ground at the edge of the deck.

Green Roman tub converted to pond (Hard to believe I once bathed in this tub!)

He also helped me design and build the 7-circuit labyrinth next to that pond.

Flagstone labyrinth

Gary has led a fascinating, often unconventional life. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer who served in West Africa. He spent time living at an Israeli kibbutz. And he spent many years volunteering at Roanoke’s Ronald McDonald House. So it was no surprise when he came up with a novel idea for a one-of-a-kind business.

Children who were recipients of school supplies

He noticed that a lot of still-usable items were being thrown into landfills, and he wondered how some of them could be salvaged.. Among the many serviceable goods he saw going to waste were book bags that were replaced each school year even though they still had plenty of “life” left in them. So, Gary channeled his revulsion over the waste that occurs all over America into the creation of “Bookbag Santa,” a company that recycles school supplies so they can be used by the children of Belize. As the owner of Bookbag Santa, Gary functions much like a modern-day Robin Hood, but one who collects from the wasteful and gives to the poor rather than stealing from the rich to give to the poor.

Hotel where volunteer's stay

Gary also recruits volunteers to help him collect school supplies. As a fringe benefit, any volunteer who wants to can join him on the trip to Belize each year to deliver the supplies. Not only does this allow everyone to experience firsthand the joy of helping Belize’s children, but it also allows them to spend a week or two enjoying the splendors of that beautiful country. Even though everyone must pay their own airfare and other expenses, discounts are available; and there are occasional extras, like dinner at a school principal’s home.

Sign at airport

Last night, I decided to try a recipe Gary brought back from Belize. I had previously made my own bean and rice recipe for him, but this time, I wanted to duplicate the superb Belizean dish he said mine was “close to, but not quite.” Initially, I was hesitant to prepare the recipe the same way they do in Belize. I usually don’t add the rice to the beans for cooking, but cook it separately and then ladle the beans over it. That way, I make sure the rice is cooked just right. The Belizeans cook everything together including a cup of coconut milk, something I never would have thought to add.

Belizean Rice and Beans

Wanting to make the genuine dish, I overcame my reservations and prepared it exactly the way the Belizeans do. I accompanied the dish with plantains that I steamed and then sautéed with butter and a small amount of honey. I also served sweet potato yeast rolls prepared from a recipe given to me by my friend, Cheryl Harvey Hill.

When the dish was served and the moment of truth arrived, I was delighted to hear Gary say, “Ahhh, now that is exactly the way I remember it." Unfortunately, I did not do as good a job on the plantain. I will need to read up on how to prepare plaintains. Mine tasted like crunchy cardboard.

Here is the recipe Gary brought back from Belize.

Red Beans and Rice, Belizean Style


1 lb. red kidney beans garlic cloves
1 t. salt 1 cup coconut milk
1 t. pepper
1 t. thyme

1 onion, sliced

8 cups water

¼ lb. salt pork fat or beef
2 cups rice, dry Preparation:

l. Soak beans for 4 hours.
2. Place garlic, onion and pork fat into pot with the beans and boil until tender.
3. Season beans with pepper, thyme and salt.

4. Add coconut milk. Stir and bring to a boil.

5. Add rice to bea
7. Cook on low heat until the water is absorbed and rice is tender. (1 cup of rice absorbs about 2 cups of water).

I’m so glad I tried this recipe. It makes a far better bean and rice dish than the ones I’ve made previously. Delicious!

Gary now has nearly 30 volunteers working for Bookbag Santa and joining him for his annual trip to Belize. The organization is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. To celebrate, Bookbag Santa is donating a free trip to Belize for a graduating high school senior with good grades and a record of volunteer service to the community. To learn more about this and all of Bookbag Santa’s activities, please see the Bookbag Santa website.
President and founder: Gary Hunt

Anyone want to join me in Belize next year?

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009



Elegant hand made copper fish platter

For many years I had a pen pal from Japan. His name is, and I’m sure the spelling is not correct, Tuge Aki Yosida. We wrote letters and sent gifts. He always asked for Popular Mechanics magazine and I requested dolls. I’m sorry to say that through the years I lost touch with him. The dolls also were lost to a flood at my parents home. It’s hind sight now but I certainly wish I would have taken him up on his offer to have me visit him in Japan. I believe that if I were to have visited him, he would have served me a dish something like the one I am dedicating to him now.

Salmon Tugi Aki Yosida

I have placed the salmon in an elegant fish shaped platter that my parents gave to me. It was created in Turkey. A close inspection shows that it is hand hammered. I love to serve food in beautifully appointed vessels don’t you?

I try to find unusual items at flea markets and other places of interest, to employ as servers. Check out this carved hand. I use it for napkins.

Carved hand napkin holder

Or this wonderful brass lion that my friend Christine gave to me. It has hooks to place it on the wall but I think it works superbly as another napkin holder.

Brass lion napkin holder

Here is the recipe for Salmon Tuge Aki Yosida.

Serves 4


4 T. Sesame seeds
8 T. thinly sliced green onions, including the green
4 T. soy sauce
4 T. butter
8 T. dry sherry
4 Salmon fillets

l. Toast sesame seeds over medium heat until golden.

2. Add butter, onions, sherry sesame seeds and soy sauce. Cook stirring until butter is melted. Remove from heat.

3. Place fish on greased rack in broiler pan with the skin side down. Brush on half of the butter sauce. Broil 4” from heat or about 6-8 minutes. Check to see when thickest part of salmon is an opaque when cut.

4. Serve with remaining sauce.

Recipe source: Kirsten Printz (my daughter)

Wouldn’t it be a lark if I tried to find Tuge Aki on Facebook..and it worked?

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Friday, November 13, 2009




Jubako Box

The anticipation built day by day last week as I looked forward to our foodie group's dinner party at Stephanie Crowder's house. What dishes would the other members come up with? Would I live up to the challenge of creating a delicious, yet authentic Japanese dish? Would everyone else?

Individual drawer from Oriental box

I should have known that everyone would rise to the occasion. When the appointed evening arrived, everything was delicious. Perhaps the highlight of the evening's fare was the maki sushi prepared for us by Mark's grandmother, Setsu. Not only was it delicious, but it was served in a beautiful, four-tier lacquered box called a Jubako that was as pleasing to the eye as it's contents were to the palate. Each tier revealed a different layer of colorful and delicious sushi. Mark explained that the Japanese people take all of their food to get-togethers in this manner.

The party's other dishes included: Spicy Pork Stuffed Pot Stickers with Nouc Cham (Vietnamise dipping sauce); Shrimp Toast; Chicken Satai; Spring Rolls; Japanese pickles; Pork Yakisoba Noodles; Marinated Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Soy; Miso Soup; Salmon Tugi Aki Yosida; Crispy Duck; Shrimp Rolls; Chinese Butterscotch Stacks; Japanese Slaw; and seaweed. For beverages we had Kirin, Ichiban, and Sapporo beer, sake, plum wine and Chiku Bai.

Japanese buffet table

Chicken Satai

Salmon Tuge Aki Yosida
(I named my salmon dish after a long lost pen pal from Japan)

Miso Soup

Sho Chiku Bai

Marinated shrimp with bacon

We gathered around the buffet table and each gave a bit of information about our particular Asian inspired dish.

Emily describes dish she and her mother brought

Lance with his Plum wine

Only one guest thought of wearing Japanese attire. Next time, we may all get into the groove of a theme party.

Kim wore a beautiful silk kimono

Stephanie’s ninty-nine year old home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of those old homes with very large rooms and high ceilings that feels almost palatial and yet as comfortable as if it were your own home. The effect is at least partly due to Stephanie's elegant, eclectic decor, obviously the product of her artistic eye. Among the most fascinating items lending their charm to her house are some intricately carved Indonesian trunks.

Indonesian trunks

Clock created for Stephanie by her father

Large crystal chandelier adorns oversized office

Stephanie showed us the bedroom where Marina stayed during her year visit. It is very large and comfortable. Marina was amazed when she first peered into the room exclaiming, “ You mean this whole room is all for me?” Apparently she has a small room in Japan and shares it with her grandmother.

Marina’s room at Stephanie’s

While having Marina as a guest encouraged Stephanie to prepare Japanese meals, she first became interested in gourmet cooking after spending time in Richmond. Stephanie says, “ My eighth grade year of middle school I lived in Richmond for three months and worked as a page/intern for the Virginia House of Delegates during the General Assembly session in 1991. All of the House of Delegate interns come from middle schools in Virginia and are all eighth graders. During the day we worked on the House floor. We had our homework/schoolwork sent to Richmond and at night we had to attend a group class to study/take test/do school work. Then our schoolwork/tests were sent back to our schools for grades,etc. It was a very organized program and the pay was awesome. We were paid weekly and we had $100/week food allowance and the delegates/senators took us out for fancy dinners all the time. Occasionally, the governor would invite us over for breakfast or lunch. “

Picture of House of Delegates

Stephanie has a picture of herself with the Virginia House of Delegates proudly framed and hanging over a doorway.

Outdoor fireplace

The evening culminated with a trip outside to Stephanie's outdoor fireplace.

Everyone enjoys fire, sake and conversation

I must say that theme parties present challenges as well as entertainment. I can’t wait for the next one. I think we are headed for one of my favorite places in the world: France! I hope you will join us for my February posting.

Stephanie and Lance

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009




Stephanie examines authentic rice steamers.

When Stephanie Crowder first announced to our small but diverse foodie group that she wanted to have our next get-together at her home, she also said that she wanted our party to have a Japanese theme. I was reluctant. I love to eat at Asian restaurants, but I don’t like to prepare the food myself. I had to put my thinking cap on to come up with something authentically Japanese.

Wayne, the founder of our group, recommended that I visit the Asian markets in Roanoke before deciding what I wanted to prepare. Since I’ve previously written about interesting local businesses in my blog, he thought I could combine my search for Japanese dish ideas with a tour and blog post on the area’s Asian markets. He volunteered to join me in the effort and suggested that we have Stephanie show us some of the best local markets.

Stephanie became addicted to Japanese food a few years ago when she sponsored an exchange student from Japan. Marina (the student’s American name) lived with Stephanie for over a year and introduced her to some of the best of Japanese cuisine.

Marina and best friend

Beautifully carved wall sculpture

We started our evening with dinner at Taipei, a wonderful Chinese restaurant. We then headed to three Asian markets to purchase ingredients for our upcoming dinner party.

The first market we visited, coincidentally, is also named Taipei. Owner Amay Liu made us feel right at home, allowing me to take all the pictures I wanted to while she introduced us to some new oriental foods. Taipei Oriental Market is located at 3120-B Peters Creek Rd. Roanoke, Va. 24019

Owner, Amay Liu

King Oyster Mushrooms

Thai Rice

Tapioca Pearls

Wayne gives potential ingredients for his party dish a thorough inspection

Next, we visited Worldwide Food Market, Inc. Owner Teap Chhouk. and his wife, Sovann, are from Cambodia and sell Asian furniture and gifts as well as food. They are located at 5623 Williamson Road, Roanoke, Va. 24012.

Teap Chhouck

Statues for sale at Worldwide Food Market

Fine hand-crafted steamers

Alters to the Buddha; Teap changes the food offerings daily

Our last stop was Fresh Oriental Market owned by Hien Bui. They are located at Suite 12, 2501 Williamson Road, Roanoke, Va. 24012 and are open Seven days a week from 10 AM-10:PM.

A customer of Fresh Oriental Market

I’m not sure I will be purchasing these; are they anchovies?

What is bloodmeat? Do I want to know?

Crabs aren’t just for eating!

What a wonderful time we had exploring markets that I didn’t even know existed.

We’re all looking forward to our dinner party at Stephanie’s. Only authentic Japanese, please! I’ll be posting a report on the outcome Friday. I hope you'll join us!

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