Sunday, October 28, 2012


How did I miss this cookbook? This was published a year ago and I love apples!  The Apple Lover's Cookbook  by Amy Traverso is a gem.  And this recipe is one of the best ever--if you like apples, cinnamon, and walnuts, and of course you do. Thanks to Sunday of Ciao Domenica for mentioning this gorgeous book.

1 cup (145 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons (1 stick; 113 g) salted butter, melted and coole, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup (210 g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup (60 g) chopped walnuts
2 large firm-sweet apples (about 1 pound total) --I used Honey Crisp--peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1. Preheat ove to 350 degrees and set a rack to the middle position.  Generously butter the baking dish (11 x 7) and set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  Set aside.  In the bowl of a standing mixer at high speed or using a hand-held mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and egg until pale, about 2 minutes.  Add the walnuts and apples and stir by hand until evenly combined.  Add the flour mixture and stir until combined, another 30 seconds.

3.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown and lightly firm to the touch, 40 to 50 minutes.  Let cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then cut into 12 bars and transfer to serving platter.

Note:  Instead of chopping apples into 1/2 cubes, I chopped them into 1 inch.  So, this turned out to be apple cake instead of apple brownies.  Next time, I will cut into the 1/2 inch pieces which should make it more brownie-like.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


            Cannot believe I had the good fortune to attend The Oxford Experience for the fourth time.

                             It rained almost every day we were there--a treat for Arizona girls.

        We checked in, got the keys, threw our stuff in each of our rooms (my room pictured),

took a quick look around

                                                                   snapped a few pics

        opened the windows and then took off for a long walk along the Isis River to find some lunch.

I had been reading Deborah Crombie's book, Water Like a Stone, which featured canal boats so it was fun to see a few home-sweet-homes docked along the path.

Leslie had remembered this place having the best fish and chips, sadly they no longer serve that treat.

                                Whatever we ate was good and we would definitely return.                                    

I know I've taken you on a tour of Oxford before (click here, here, or here) but let's have another go.  First, this little pizza truck was new and was parked right outside of Christ Church College.  Wood-fired pizza--excellent.

                       Look at those doors!  Some lucky students get to enter these every day.          

                                                     Another beautiful college.

                               Back to Tom Quad at Christ Church College--my alma mater!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


From Taste of Home

Every weekend in the fall I want to make apple and pumpkin recipes.  This pumpkin cake won last week.  This weekend it is apple brownies so stay tuned.


  • 4 eggs
  • 1-2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ICING:
  • 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk


  • In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until well blended.
  • Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt;
  • gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Pour into an
  • ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for
  • 25-30 minutes or until set. Cool completely.
  • For icing, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, butter and
  • vanilla in a small bowl. Add enough milk to achieve spreading
  • consistency. Spread over bars. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 2
  • dozen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


My darling friend, Ashley, brought me a jar of her pumpkin ginger soup and tomatillo salsa. Both were excellent so I knew you would want the recipes.  The pumpkin soup had a nice burn from the ginger and although the twins next door (they are now nine years old!) didn't try the soup, they loved the salsa.

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon peeled and diced fresh ginger
1/4 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup raw, hulled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

In a medium saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat.  Add ginger, carrots, celery, onion, and saute until vegetables begin to soften, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.  Add pumpkin and stir well.  Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Add salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cayenne.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree the mixture until smooth.  Strain the soup back into the saucepan and add the cream.  Keep warm.

Put the raw pepitas in a medium non-stick skillet and toast over medium-high heat, stirring until the seeds are fragrant, light brown, and begin to pop, about 3 minutes.

To serve, ladle the warm soup into serving bowls and garnish with toasted pepitas.

2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
8 tomatillos, husked and diced
1 cup diced red, yellow, or orange bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To prepare the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.  Let stand at least 1 hour and not more than 3 hours before serving to allow flavors to blend.  That's it!

Both recipes are from Seasonal Southwest Cooking by Barbara Pool Fenzl.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Cavendish Hotel was our favorite hotel of the trip. Sitting on the property of Chatsworth made it even better.

My usual faves are everywhere--stone facade, white framed windows, climbing roses, with a bit of lilac thrown in.

Cavendish is the family name of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.

                                             That's Miss Leslie waving from our window.

                   And here is the view from our room.  Is there a bad view in the English countryside?

          Caramel, cream, and pinky-red is a favorite combination of mine.  Just right for the front room.

                                                  Public rooms for reading or chatting.

The hallway to our room - I'm always smitten by striped walls.

Almost didn't post--why can't I remember to take a picture before our stuff is strewn all over the place?

                                 Blues and silvers invited us right into this elegant dining room.

          Chatsworth Farm Shop was a must on our list.  We picked up breakfast for the next morning.

                                                     Look at all that smoked salmon.        

          Couldn't decide between gooseberry or bramble and apple yogurt.  So bought both. Yum.

                                                    A little happy hour at the end of the day.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Haddon Hall is a well-preserved 12th century medieval manor house we had the great luck to tour. It also had the added benefit of a pretty chapel.

Haddon Hall has shown up in loads of British films including Pride and Prejudice (with Keira Knightly), several versions of Jane Eyre and The Princess Bride. I will have to watch these movies again and keep an eye out for bits and pieces of this estate.

                                                                The Long Gallery
             Ever wonder how you could possibly make this room livable?  See the pic below.

This photo was on display to show how a previous family turned it into a very comfortable room.
Again, I'm thinking of a dark and stormy night, crackling fire, lamps lit for reading, tea and toast.

   The gardens were more inviting than I expected.  Look at that well-designed herb garden next to the mottled walls. Those straight lines are so appealing along with the bright and pale greens.

                                                               The upper gardens

The lower gardens

                        The pretty chapel is attached to the property.  Also very well-preserved.
                                    Don't you think the purple lilacs are just the right touch?

This is the marble sculpture of Lord Haddon, the young son of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, who died too young.  His mother, the Duchess, designed and sculpted the effigy.  Sweet and heartbreaking.

Most of the wall paintings were done during the Reformation period (16th century).  I'm assuming that is Henry VIII standing there in the middle between the windows looking ready for a fight. 

                                               A pretty pattern that reminds me of Istanbul.

                                The leaves and flowers bring a light feeling to the chapel.

                                                                   This is perfection.

Monday, October 1, 2012


       Hardwick Hall is Bess's place.  You know, Bess of Hardwick, best friend to the Queen and all that.

Bess was married four times.  Love may not have been involved but she became wealthier with each union (husbands included a Cavendish and a Talbot (Earl of Shrewsbury).  Good for her.  She built beautiful estates (Chatsworth was the first of many), became the most powerful woman in the land second to Queen Elizabeth I, and eventually (after several hundred years) gave us Queen Elizabeth II.

 This is 14th Century Hardwick Old Hall (owned by English Heritage).  Bess lived in it for a bit, and then decided the view was better on an adjacent property and started building Hardwick Hall (owned by National Trust).

After you purchase your ticket from English Heritage, you can roam around the ruins which are still in pretty good shape.

Look at that gorgeous plasterwork--still beautiful despite being exposed to the wind, rain, and year round damp.

16th century  Hardwick Hall is just a few hundred yards from the ruins (I'm not good at estimating yards, are you?) so let's take a look around at Bess's place.

This refectory table catches your attention when you walk into the entrance hall.  Gleaming polished wood that seems to go on forever.  Yes, I'll need a table that seats 40, please. Oh, and yes, in one long unbroken piece, of course.

                            So much nicer than stating, "DO NOT SIT", don't you think?

Bess was also famous for collecting tapestries which added warmth and texture to these cavernous rooms.

                                 Plaster friezes travel around the perimeter at the top of the walls.

        This is a walnut Eglantine table or, game table, depicting game boards and musical instruments.

                                            More gorgeous tapestries in the Ship Bedchamber.

Has it ever occurred to you to monogram your cookware? Me neither.  But if I had these polished copper pots I just might. Take a look....

                                First, I love the crown atop the simple D above Hardwick.
      Not sure what the "D" represents, it may be the county Derbyshire but no one could confirm.

                          That elegant monogram is on every copper pot and every copper lid.


                                  "Hardwick hall, more window than wall" it was said.
Note the "ES"for Elizabeth Shrewsbury, Bess had her initials placed on at least eight different prominent places around the exterior of her house along with a pretty crown similar to the crown on the copper pots.  The woman had power, wealth, and style.