How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


My last post told of my adventures in apple harvesting and a simple bread-machine recipe using some of my bounty. Over the weekend I used some more of the fruit to make applesauce. I found an easy recipe in my trusty old Deborah Madison Cooks at Home cookbook. After peeling and slicing the apples I put them in a big pot with a bit of water, lemon juice, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Madison suggested using sugar or honey, and cinnamon or cloves, but I knew more was better in this case. I let the ingredients cook on the stovetop until the apples broke down into a chunky sauce.

 We had some as a side dish for the tuna steaks with mushroom sauce James made for dinner, and also used it as a topping on our waffles the next morning.

The last bit of sauce was added as an ingredient to a big skillet cake that we shared for breakfast on Monday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Of Apples and Libraries

Many years ago (perhaps 14?) we planted two apple trees in our backyard. A few years ago we noticed one apple on one of the trees, and expected that there would be more, but, alas, we waited in vain. Then, a few weeks ago, James came in from the yard with a surprise. He had picked five apples off one of the trees. And a few days later we noticed that the tree was bursting forth with fruit.

We were undeterred by the fact that they were too high for us to reach because Pam knew that the Maxwell Library (where she works) had an apple picker that could be checked out! Off we went to the library and returned with said picker and with such Pam picked a basket full of apples! Of course we returned the picker the next day because that's how libraries work.

Of course it is no good to pick backyard apples without using them in a new recipe! 

We marvel that our 21-year old bread machine still works. And fortunately the tattered manual includes a recipe for Apple Walnut Loaf. Still more good news - we already had walnuts, as well as all the other ingredients we needed. This was a "Quick Bread" so it needed no yeast and only took 100 minutes in the machine once everything was in the pan. 

Fresh from the machine!

We both enjoyed a slice with a dollop of vanilla ice cream!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Brownie Sundaes

On Saturday we planned a picnic dinner to take to the Westport Rivers Sunset Music concert. We reprised a favorite from last summer - Ham and Havarti Sanwiches with Peach-Mustard spread and had stopped at the Huttleston Marketplace in Fairhaven beforehand in hopes of buying some good bulkie rolls from Cyd's Kitchen. Alas, they had no rolls, but the proprietors did manage to talk us into buying some sweets for dessert - brownies and "brookies" (a combo brownie/chocolate chip cookie bar - which was divine)!

We still had two brownies left on Monday, and I (Pam) realized that we had some vanilla ice cream in the freezer. All we needed was some chocolate sauce in order to make brownie sundaes for a special Labor Day treat. I knew we had some cocoa powder in the cupboard, so I checked online for a simple chocolate syrup recipe. Allrecipes came through with an easy recipe that included only ingredients I already owned.

A perfect treat for a hot end of summer day. So glad I thought of it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Coconut Shrimp

I am the first person to admit that I am hard to buy presents for, which is why I tell people not to get me gifts. I already have more than enough stuff, and I can afford to buy myself just about anything that anyone I know can afford to buy for me, so if I want or need something I will just take care of it myself. With this said I have to say that my in-laws really came through with a recent gift of a variety-pack of flavored salts. Each flavor also had a recipe card, so when James asked what he should pick up at the fishmonger on Tuesday I suggested shrimp so I could try my hand at the Grilled Coconut Shrimp (see photo below), even though I wouldn't have a grill.

Instead of skewering the shrimp (as indicated) with the pineapple and scallions, I stir fried everything in our indispensable cast-iron skillet. It didn't take long. I heated some basil-infused olive oil in the pan, while I whisked the salt, honey, chopped scallions, and soy sauce together. Once the mix was in the skillet I added the shrimp and cooked for two minutes, then turned the shrimp over and added the pineapple chunks and cooked for one minute more. All flavors came through for a sweet and savory meal.

As a rule I don't like coconut (or pineapple), but I do like coconut shrimp (and piƱa coladas)!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Pasta and Sausage

We sometimes include local breakfast sausage in our weekly order from Crescent Ridge (yes, an old-school milk truck comes to our house every Monday morning). We usually use it in just that way -- as patties with waffles or other breakfast food.

When thinking about our food options last night, however, I decided to look for a way to make dinner from breakfast sausage. It was our salon date night, which usually involves supporting a local restaurant. Because we had been dining out nearly non-stop during our recent vacation in the Maritimes, though, I wanted to make a nice date-night meal at home. And because this is the canicula, I wanted stovetop cooking only -- no oven. This meant that my favorite dinner use of sausage was out of the question.

Rather than opening some cookbooks -- which would have been true to the original mission of this blog -- I did what we often do in such situations. I browsed the results of a search of "sausage" on the AllRecipes web site. I looked at a few options, and settled on Bow Ties with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cream -- one of those recipe titles that essentially is the recipe.

I digressed from the recipe only slightly. I used thin spaghetti instead of bowties or penne, either of which would have held the sauce better. I also used fresh tomatoes instead of the canned equivalent. The preparation was simple and the results -- while not photogenic -- were quite delicious!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Two People. Two Recipes. One Great Meal.

It took us two attempts to make this "Start of Summer" meal. Our first attempt was thwarted when we arrived at the fishmonger only to discover that they were out of scallops! We made a plan to be there when they opened on Saturday so as not to be disappointed a second time. James was in charge of the kabob-less Old Bay Scallops. Pam was the chef for the side dish - a tomato-pasta salad recipe from Mary Kay Andrews The Beach House Cookbook.

Being far from Maryland,
I could not find a real
 container of Old Bay.
 But I did find this juvenile
specimen, which
proved serviceable.
The side dish was simple enough. While the spaghetti was cooking I chopped some tomato and onion. The chopped tomato was placed in our row boat shaped salad and some olive oil. red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper were added. Next the chopped onion some baby arugula, and shaved Parmesan cheese went in. The cooked pasta was mixed in with everything and some additional shaved Parmesan was added to the top. A lovely cool salad for a very hot day.

James adds: Let's not underestimate the significance of Pam's second line above. This was no ordinary fishmonger -- this was Kyler's Catch, located at the head of the most important scallop harbor on planet Earth (or any other planet, as far as we know). When we found the scallop bin empty -- and its void status was confirmed -- we had no Plan B. We simply backed slowly away from the counter. So it was with some trepidation that we returned yesterday morning!

We did find the scallops, and used the Old Bay scallops recipe we had found on the McCormick web site last week. When we returned to Whaling House, I trimmed and rinsed them, while melting about a stick's worth of butter. To this I added a heaping helping of Old Bay -- about half of the miniature found above, far more than called for in the recipe, which trifles in fractional teaspoons. As if.

In place of the dried parsley, I used a generous heap of finely chopped fresh parsley. The most important departure, though, was that I eschewed skewers. Rather, I placed the scallops on a baking sheet and brushed them liberally with the butter mixture. I broiled them (not to close to the top) for 5 minutes. I then removed the tray, turned each scallop with tongs, and returned the tray for 2 more minutes. The key with scallops is not to over cook. These turned out perfectly, and as Pam notes above, they paired beautifully with the cool pasta she had prepared, and the even cooler Chardonnay from our favorite vineyard.


The day after we enjoyed this meal, Pam found a remarkable article about the origins of Old Bay, the National Spice of Maryland. Among other things, the article is a reminder of the value of being a country that welcomes migrants in general and refugees in particular. Without asylum, Old Bay itself would be impossible!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Pan-Baked Lemon-Almond Tart

Gotta love a recipe with two hyphens in its name. This one showed up on my Facebook feed from the New York Times Cooking pages and I made it for dessert Saturday evening. It is simple to make, but since much of it is cooked on the stove top it has to be watched carefully, or burning on the bottom can be a potential issue. The recipe calls for ground almonds which I was able to take care of rather easily with my blender. The recipe also calls for four eggs, which gives it a custard-y look and flavor, albeit with a denser texture. I don't usually take seconds on dessert, but I did on Saturday!This was really good.