Posts from the ‘Jollification’ Category

“Mayonnaise: One of the Sauces Which Serve the French in Place of a State Religion.”

-Ambrose Bierce

I hope the holidays have been treating you all well, and you got some needed rest and relaxation. I hope you talked and laughed and hugged the ones you love. I’ve been eating and drinking and not blogging. Bad me. Culinary school starts on Monday, so I expect to be blogging my little learning heart out. I can’t wait to get all my kitchen swag, and start learning about food-borne illnesses for six weeks. Should be great for my OCD recovering self. Seriously, there was a point where my own mother couldn’t use my toothbrush, or deodorant  if such an emergency arose.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day usually fly by with lots of my time spent in the kitchen. Not to say I don’t enjoy every managed minute of it, but this year instead of cooking on the days leading up to the holiday, we ordered pizza, went out for dinner, and opted to have dinner on Thursday night so I could enjoy the long weekend. It worked out swimmingly with plenty of choice bites, time for kisses, board games, and bad-Christmas-movie watching. No rushing to the store for last-minute forgotten ingredients, just blankets and time well spent. So no fancy pants this year, but don’t worry, I made up for it on New Year’s Eve with a night to rule all nights. Dressed to the nines, on my love’s arm, calamari, a whole loaf of bread, duck confit and Negroni’s at Cafe Campagne, and fried apple pie with vanilla ice cream, chocolate Ovaltine cake with ice cream, champagne and Gimlets at Palace Kitchen to ring in the new year. Oh, and Tom Douglas stopped in to check on the night’s success. It was perfectly unpacked so it felt like we were with family.  Entering the new year with compliments, smiles, and holding hands. A great end to a night and a year.


Potato sausage, roasted fingerlings, and red cabbage

Shallot caper mayo, garlic mustard mayo, curry mayo

For a quick way to add lots of flavors to the meal, I made three different flavored mayos for the fingerling potatoes. I used prepared mayonnaise, but these would be even better with some homemade mayonnaise. No time for egg yolks Dr. Jones!

Mustard Mayonnaise

1 tsp. of mustard per 1/4 of mayo (I used garlic mustard, but Dijon, or beer mustard would be great too)

Combine mustard and mayonnaise.

Shallot Caper Mayonnaise

1 tbls. capers, rinsed and chopped

1 small shallot, sautéed until soft in some olive oil

1/2 tbls. finely chopped parsley

pinch of salt

freshly ground white pepper

tiny squeeze of lemon (optional)

Combine all ingredients.

Curry Mayonnaise

1/2 tbls. curry powder

1/2 tbls. olive oil

1/4 cup mayonnaise

a heaping tbls. sour cream or yogurt

Gently cook curry powder in oil for 1 minute

Combine all ingredients.

These would be great on veggies, steak, chicken, pretty much anything on which mayonnaise would be good. And that is basically everything. I have heard this nasty rumor that there are actually mayonnaise haters out there. I would not like to meet any of these mayonnaise misanthropes.

Turn that nose back down, kielbasa with ketchup and hot horseradish is tasty.

"If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world." - J.R.R. Tolkien



It has still not reached 70* here in the Emerald city, but I was not going to let that ruin my participating in the holiday weekend of Jim having Monday off, friends, and fanning myself with my hand as I say “I’m wiltin’, I’m wiltin'” to Jim as I often do. He still finds it charming after six years. (Stay tuned for an anniversary post, it’s our 6th today:)).  As visions of root beer barbecue sauced ribs danced out of my head, I happened to have a beautiful turkey breast I got the day before, and Maygiving was born. There would be brine! I saw the Neely’s make rainbow chard a few days before and had been craving it ever since. Veggie, check. Turkey and chard aren’t much of a tax, how about some homemade bread? Potato. My first tri-rise. Couldn’t have asked for a better bread. I grew up with soft pillowy potato bread, and it is sparse here. Now when I get the hinkering I can fill one of my bread voids. Kaiser, you’re next. I was blessed by a flour angel. I am jealous of me. My first pie had no tales of woe. I have always made a superb omelet, and I tend not to overcook chicken and pork tenderloin. I can also confess every one of my yeast adventures has produced wonderful results. Even you, that one cold rise. Grrr. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my share of  dishes that are less than perfect, but they are always more than just edible. I think an important component in baking and cooking is learned skills, but natural talent and instinct are hotter commodities.  I don’t care if you know what gastrique means, but if you can give me a good taco, you have my heart. If you can make it pretty, do, but, we all know everything we eat doesn’t look like your first love.  Chili, I love you, as I do your first cousin Sloppy Joe. One of my favorite omelets: broccoli. They actually make me laugh every time I make one, they look that silly. Casseroles aren’t winning any beauty contests. Curries sometimes look blah, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t satisfying. A chop, veggie, and mash can only be arranged on a plate so many ways. Yes I love making and being served gorgeous food, but I also love my divided plates. For all of you who hated your foods touching each other growing up, these plates are for you. I even have a plate divided into five sections for when I want to have a five-bite meal. Seriously, the sections are that small. After having them for five years, I still haven’t used them, but I will never get rid of them. There is a perfect meal waiting to go on those plates. So in the spirit of Maygiving I focused on making a delicious, comforting meal that took just long enough for me to sit down with my friends sooner than later. Carved at the table, oatmeal cookies for dessert.  Sometimes I don’t want to stack or arrange, I just want to eat and enjoy.

Potato bread from Bernard Clayton- one of my favorite bread making books.

Turkey brine. It matters. It's worth it.

Turkey, nom, nom.

Rainbow chard

Swiss Chard

from The Neelys

3-4  servings


  • 2 large bunches Swiss chard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 strips thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar


Slice the stems into 1-inch pieces and reserve. Stack the chard leaves into a pile. Roll together into a bundle and slice into 1/2-inch ribbons.

Heat oil to a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and saute until browned, rendering the fat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add chard stems, cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then season with salt and pepper.

Begin to add the chard ribbons in batches. Once the chard wilts down, add the next batch. Stir occasionally until completely tender, about 5 minutes.

More potato bread.

After dinner, drinks, conversation, some furminating, and a game of “Scene it?” I declared the first annual Maygiving a success. Next year stuffing and pie!

Not only is Em a great dinner guest, but she furminates like an angel. Peaches does not look this euphoric when I attempt to de-fur her.

Spreaster!: grab an egg, or Spreaster!: now with no recipes

I like to celebrate holidays centered around the season not a particular religion.

And so… Spreaster was born. I reflect upon the fact that Jesus and Mary only made the journey because of an impending census.

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Eggs! Dyed, pickled, hidden, and hunted. I love the flat, awkward-for-your-hands, piece of potentially dangerous metal, tucked inside a box, with soon-to-be perforated drying homes for freshly dyed eggs, waiting to receive one bend, and be indispensable. Making sure to scoop at precisely the right moment before your ultra blue masterpiece turns into tomorrow’s aquamarine egg salad. The wax crayon! Update: we have since moved to the convenient little cups below, but don’t worry box-that-collapses-by-the-weight-of-having-its-contents-taken-out-of-it, we will not forget you.

Red beet eggs. Just vinegar, red beets, sliced onion, salt, pepper, and a little sugar.


Butter shaped like a baby lamb. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and not an Easter went by without one, but after 9 lamb-free years, dry ice is becoming a serious option. What’s your beef with baby lambs West coast? This isn’t your run of the mill, year round baby butter lamb. It is only available during the Easter season, which makes it even more desirable. I always anticipated taking the first swipe of sweet cream from its tiny head, which was always reserved for me. Twenty-five years later, it still is.

Thanks Mom.

Easter dress, complete with gloves, purse, ruffled socks, and patent leather shoes.

Stuffing! Why do people only eat certain foods they love during certain times of the year? Pumpkin? Turkey? It’s not like stuffing would lose its appeal. It’s bread, herbs, and aromatics. I understand it being special, and something to look forward to. But seriously, it’s like saving an expensive perfume, or the good china that you don’t use. I think I might do a stuffing-a-month challenge, and see if by next Spreaster, we can’t stand the sight of cubed bread. This may be because I make a pretty great stuffing. I know everyone says theirs is best, but really, my aunt Laura says so. I may have ruined her month when I ran out of time, and didn’t make stuffing on “the Easter without stuffing”, as it’s been called. I put that in the lessons learned category.

The good china. Unfortunately, I do not have any original pieces that belonged to my Nanny. I happened to find one piece at a thrift store, a bowl, and even though her hands haven’t touched it, I can see her scooping mashed potatoes into it right now.

Two Easter baskets! Yes, I said two. Nanny always filled my candy basket, and my Mom filled a giant fruit basket for me. I think my mom always thought I liked the candy basket more. She was mostly wrong. My mom would fill my basket with tropical, hard-to-find-in-a-small-town-in-Pennsylvania fruit, a few special chocolates, and Easter-related gifts. At the time, I thought I was the only kid to get orange jelly beans packaged in the shape of a carrot. I was always made to feel that special. I was a star fruit fan at age five. For all you kids that can buy star fruit at the drop of a hat, I assure you this was not always the case.

Last year's pre-dying.

Spreaster basket o’games.

Easter Keg Hunt

Jim suggested “hide the keg”. If you can find little cans of beer shaped like mini-kegs, great. I am not a fan of the brands that make these, but really any beer will do. It’s beaster! Okay, I’ll stop that.

Peep Wars

To my East coast bestie Marti Rae’s dismay, I recently introduced her 11-year-old son to peep wars, without thinking about who was going to clean the microwave. People without kids don’t think of these things. I thought everyone was up on the peep war happenings, but in case you are not, here is a short tutorial. Two peep chicks +  toothpicks + plate + microwave  = fun. People get creative and add fake blood, costumes, names, commentary, multiple peeps and the like, but I like an old-school peep war: just peeps, toothpicks, and supporting your peep.

No bunnies! Commentary always welcomed.

Here’s one I found that is pretty cute.

Last year's meal. Old school. Lunch trays and all. It may not look like a million bucks, but it tasted like it.