Pumpkin Layer Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

Pumpkin Cake

Oh birthdays!

As a kid, birthdays are amazing spectacles, full of friends, cake, presents, noise-makers, silly hats, and confetti.  Fire trucks, magicians, and even costumed superheroes may make an appearance.  All in the spirit of celebration.

And then, at least for some, birthdays lose their luster.  They cease to be either fun or exciting, but simply mark the inevitable drum beat of time and aging.

I am not there and hope never to be — hiding from my birthday, pretending it has not yet come or gone.  Bring on the birthdays!  And bring on the cake and presents!  Continue reading

CSA Corn and Black Bean Salad

CSA Salad

We are now in the second year of our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from the La Vista farm in Godfrey, Illinois. Every other week, we pick up our bounty of fresh vegetables and herbs. In recent weeks, we have been enjoying La Vista’s tomatoes, okra, summer squash, basil, and other similar items from our farm basket. We have also supplemented from our herb garden, replete with rosemary, thyme, and dill, giving us the full array of summer flavors.

This recipe comes together Continue reading

Tres Leches Cake with Berries


In my last post, I bemoaned the fact that I had not been trying out enough recipes from the Barefoot Contessa (a.k.a. Ina Garten).  Well, sure enough, I am back in form, with a second Barefoot Contessa in less than a month’s time.

I had always wanted to make a tres leches cake, having always been eager to order the dessert at the Mexican restaurants we might frequent.  I loved how moist and sweet the cake was.

And as luck would have it, Continue reading

Blueberry Bran Muffins

Blueberry Bran Muffins

How I have been remiss!  It used to be that an Ina recipe landed on my blog almost every other month.  There was her spanakopita and her cheese straws.  There was her panko-crusted salmon with french lentils and her maple-roasted winter squash.  Every dish, it seemed, was a winner.

And with six of her cookbooks sitting on my shelf, each neatly arranged according to the spine’s color, there was no shortage of recipes at my disposal.  There were even two recent books — Make it Ahead and Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust — that, horror of horrors, I had not yet acquired.

Bran Muffins

I was desperately falling behind on my Ina testing.

Fortunately, the St. Louis County Public Library Continue reading

Stuffed Zucchini Boats


I am not a huge meat-eater, and red meat is particularly rare.  Though I still do enjoy the occasional burger and roasted chicken.  Caitlin is almost exclusively vegetarian.  So the hunt is often on for a new twist on vegetarian cooking.

I came across this recipe while flipping through our copy of the Vegetarian Times (that, by the way, is not a sentence we’re likely to hear around town).  The potato chips offer a fun and crunchy twist on the standard stuff vegetable recipe.

With our CSA in full swing, these zucchini boats Continue reading

Homemade Pizza with 00 Flour

IMG_5645 Updated

I had never heard of 00 flour when I first bought it.  My regular grocery store had never heard of it.  Even Whole Foods seemed unfamiliar with it.

Finally, after searching The Hill, Saint Louis’s Italian neighborhood, I found a grocer who carried this Italian flour.  Having tried it, I’m glad I did; it makes an extraordinary pizza crust.

As Saveur notes, 00 flour is ideal for pizza crust because it is finely ground and because it has a lower gluten content than other flours.  In Italy, flour is graded from 1 to 0 to 00, with 1 describing a rough grind and 00 describing the finest grind.

Gluten is the natural protein that remains when starch is removed from wheat grains.  It creates the elasticity you feel when biting Continue reading

Parker House Rolls

Parker House Rolls

I don’t love the magazine Food & Wine. I signed up for a subscription by cashing in some airline miles due to expire.  At the time, I was willing to try six months of content at no cost.

The food in the magazine looks great. It’s exquisitely staged and photographed on glossy magazine paper. The colors pop while the copy rolls along. But there’s just something about the magazine that I don’t love. Between the advertisements for exotic cruises and high-priced jewelry, the magazine gives the impression that none of its subscribers actually cook the recipes – that the subscribers have people for that kind of stuff. Food & Wine’s recipes look great to try – but they also look like, at least most of the time, that the recipes are tried only after they are cooked by the wait staff.

Parker House Rolls

In my mind, the average Food & Wine subscriber is not the apron-wearing, oil-splashed, cooking type, Continue reading