Presenting .... my tried-and-true recipes for your cooking pleasure.  These are the ones that my family sighs over and requests repeats, again and again.  Click on a title for the full post, including detailed how-to's:

Main Dishes

Sunday SoupThis mushroom barley chicken soup got its name the first time I made it - an accidental dump-it-in-the-crockpot-before-church serendipity of a stew, we loved it so much that it became a Sunday lunchtime ritual.  It's easy, and it tastes like life itself, every single time.  This is one recipe that I never vary, simply because it is perfection itself.  

Lentil Stew:  Known in India (and wherever the Extending the Table cookbook is used) as dhal, this mildly curried lentil stew is thick and hearty and satisfying. ... Enjoy for an everyday supper, or to replicate "authentic" Israeli food as part of a Christmas celebration.  (A truly authentic dish wouldn't use these exotic spices; here is a more likely one.)

Barley Loaves: After a few years of crumbly attempts at making "Bible-time" barley loaves for our annual [make-believe] pilgrimage to Bethlehem, I finally came up with what looks like a winner ... First and foremost, they are beautiful.  You look at the loaves, and you're transported to a Galilean hillside full of miracles. ...  Last but not least, they are delicious.  Moist, lightly sweet, they taste good all by themselves.

Potato Chowder Comfort:  On a chilly wind-lashed day in spring, after a winter of temptingly mild days, we need comfort for supper tonight.  And to a descendant of good Swiss-German stock, nothing spells comfort like potato chowder.  This one has a  velvety-thick, cheese-laced base of milk and broth blanketing chunks of potato (cooked long enough that the edges are rounded), cubes of ham (or sausage rounds) and hard-boiled egg, seasoned with onion, garlic, and celery. 

The Secret to Amazing Soup:  The secret to amazing soup is amazing broth.  And the secret to amazing broth is to make your own. ... This is on my mind right now because I have a beautiful pot of amazing soup on the stove as I type.  It is so tastebud-defyingly delicious that I would feel guilty not telling you how to do it yourself.  Tonight's particular soup is potato soup, but this will be true of any soup you make using your amazing broth.  It's so simple you will kick yourself for not having known it before - but don't!  Save that energy and make some soup!! 

Pork and Sauerkraut:  I like meaning.  I like understanding the "why" of what we do.  So naturally, when I married into a family that eats pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day, I asked "why." ... They didn't know. ...  Evidently not being authentically Pennsylvania Dutch, I grew up thinking sauerkraut was something people who had no taste buds slopped onto their hot dogs.  You might say I was not eager to add this meal to our family repertoire.  ...  So, naturally, I doctored it.  ...  With Betty Crocker as my inspiration, here's what I came up with a few years ago.

Cornbread and Black Beans:  ... we eat a lot of simple foods.  Tonight was no exception:  cornbread, black beans, tomato slices.  It was a feast (whether because of the recipe or the love grown into the ingredients, I can't tell). ..... But I think what turns this simple meal from food to feast is its soul.  It's not just grown nearby, it's grown and processed by people I know and love.  Their sweat adds the savor, maybe.  I hope that if you try it, it turns out just as well for you.....

Maryland-style Crab Soup:  I first had this soup for lunch with a friend in a very busy and crowded restaurant (which I think is the best endorsement you can give an eatery) in North East, MD, en route to Chincoteague, VA for a camping weekend, if I remember correctly ... But that's a story for another time.  Back to the crab soup, which was so good that as soon as I got my hands on some crabmeat, I tried to recreate the experience.  Unfortunately, that wasn't until five years later, in small-town coastal Japan, but my tastebuds have a better memory than the rest of my senses, and I think I came pretty close.

Rosemary-Garlic Focaccia:  This one had Lil' Snip giving me conspiratorial giggles when I laid pinches of it on his highchair tray.  When your children think they've gotten away with something you know the food is good!  ...  My slightly aged recipe card says "Mother Earth News" on it so I guess that's where it came from, and although I can't vouch for volume, issue, or page number, I can vouch for the yumminess factor.  Since I used the "wrong" cheese, and since it's the cheese that carries this, I'm also going to take credit for the yumminess factor.

Pretty Good Millet:  Let's get this straight from the start:  despite what more enterprising countries (like Africa) may do with millet, in this country, it is largely purchased as birdseed..... That said, and keeping in mind its high nutritive value (comments about birdbrains aside), I think I have found a way to prepare millet that at least gets me some "Mmmm!"s from my family.  Anticipating a large demand for that sort of recipe (ha), I share it with you here.  Serve in place of rice.

Feta Avocado Salsa:  Served this tonight with our usual black beans and rice ...  This salsa ... words fail me.  May I just say, we don't bother with chips.  Even Lil' Snip, all of 18 months old currently, gets demanding after the first taste.  And that's with raw onions in it, folks. ...  This is one recipe I have not tinkered with.  I originally got it from my sister and consider it just one more proof of the good taste I've always known her to have.

Tomato Sauce (bit of a farce, actually)
1) respond with an unequivocal "maybe" when your husband asks if he should bring home extra tomatoes from work to make into sauce.  add that he is welcome to make the sauce, should inspiration strike, but that your own personal interest in the project is extremely limited. .....


Homemade Caramel Ice Cream:  Once I discovered Talenti's Salted Caramel ice cream (or is it gelato??) at the discount grocery store down the road, there was no turning back.  This was THE ice cream for me.  For special occasions, I even paid full (sale) price for it at my regular grocery store.  I liked that it had a short ingredient list, too, of [mostly] things that I kept in my own kitchen. ... when I saw it on my beloved Talenti Salted Caramel ice cream label, I determined to make my own wholesome caramel ice cream. ... We did a taste test the other night:  Talenti vs. Mommy.   ...  I won.  :)

My Very Own Brownies:  These are indeed my very own brownies, but I do want to give credit where credit's due:  I started out using Irma Rombauer's "Brownies Cockaigne" recipe in The Joy of Cooking. ... But you know me, I had to substitute cocoa and butter for the baking chocolate, because that's what I usually have on hand, and then I had to mess around with the flour a little to get a consistency I liked, and then I experimented with different brands of cocoa and started using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose .....

Cranberry Chia Seed Jam:  Remember those cranberries you bought when they were on sale around Christmas (or even Thanksgiving), and then froze because you didn't get around to making your own cranberry sauce?  Their time has come at last.  Grab a bag out of the freezer and dump them into a saucepan with about a cup of maple syrup (more if you like gloopier jam, less if you like a sturdier spread).  ...  A sprightly sweet-tart treat with a spark of citrus that will wake up your taste buds, and maybe the rest of you, too.

Orange Marmalade Triple Brownie Torte:  Sugar recently turned twelve, and to celebrate, we invented a cake as sweet and original as she is.  It got so many raves that I thought I'd share it with you .... the recipe, that is, since the cake itself is now just crumbs and a happy memory.  First, work up an appetite.  You're going to need it, along with a high tolerance for sweet things!

My Very Own Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe:  These are so good that it's not even vanity to brag - it's just kindness to share it.  I experimented a LONG time to get them to turn out just the way I wanted them to.  I hope you like it as much as we do.....

Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars:  You know why I like these bars?  Because to me, they taste like all the goodness of childhood (that's the Cheerios, peanut butter & honey) sweetened by nostalgia (that's the chocolate topping, an adult addition).  I don't know why you'll like them, but I'm pretty sure you will, judging from the reaction they got this week at our moms' group.  Think of them as a rice krispie bar with a makeover .....

Frozen Maple Cream:  I would be a poor friend indeed if I kept this recipe to myself. I cannot imagine anyone disliking this delightful concoction for any reason, but I especially recommend it to you if you are a fan of maple syrup. Real maple syrup, that is – the kind in the tall plastic beige jugs (or the slim glass flasks that suggest you might want to keep one in your jacket pocket for surreptitious swigs now and then) – not the ones labeled “pancake syrup” and “made with real maple flavor." .....

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream:  Next on the agenda is the amazing Chocolate Mint Ice Cream that I just invented (oh, clever, clever me!).  I will give you the involved version (which I did) and the simple version (which I invite you to try and let me know how it turns out .... unless I get to it first!)......

Energy Bars (or Balls):  Last month, my Farmer's precious aunt, having overheard my weariness, offered to watch the children for a few hours while I ran errands. She showed up with a meal for us, and included in it were these delicious, nutritious, energy-packed snacks. She called them "energy balls", and credited our pastor's wife with the recipe, which she shared with me, and I'll share with you. They are a bit of a bear to mix up, requiring, perhaps, the consumption of a ball from the previous batch to energize your arm.

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