Strong Street Studio – Blown-Glass Pumpkins

The first weekend in October is one of my favorite little splurges that I have had each year for about five years now. Pumpkin shopping at Strong Street Studio.


2016 Pumpkins from Strong Street Studio

I am not a shopper. I hate shopping for clothes, for which the MotH should be eternally grateful. Indeed. For clothes shopping, I have to take him with me because he is better at picking out things for me. I can shop for shoes, but only when necessary and, pretty much, only on some sort of sale. Do love bags, but again must be on sale. I think it was because my mom was not a shopper either. Shopping is a chore for me and not a pastime. I think I may be a strange woman. A rare breed indeed – at least in my mind.

That said, I wait every year for this sale. I’ve been buying Scott’s pumpkins since he was selling them in a tent outside of Jaco’s. Usually one or two – they are not inexpensive and understandably so.

I  have had a weekend of glass blowing classes thanks to the MotH for my birthday when we first moved here, and it is bloody hard work. I understand so much better what is involved since I have tried to do it myself. I need to post pictures of what I have made – they are not awe inspiring, but the did require upper arm strength – that is a HUGE part of blowing glass. Upper arm strength is not one of my strong attributes.

A couple of years back we had a devastating flood in the area and it destroyed Scott’s equipment and studio. He did a Kickstarter that I joined, the benefit was a blood orange pumpkin never to be repeated and it is my only orange pumpkin, and will probably be the only one ever. An orange pumpkin is kind of pedestrian. But blood orange with that hint of red – nice. But everything else, well I am a bit whimsical about my pumpkins.


Blood Orange Pumpkin

I am always looking for something different and have been happy to find just the right amount of odd* in the pumpkin sale – see that white one from this year – no idea what inspired it or me to purchase it, but it is so lovely in the light.  I do keep my pumpkins out year round, but move them around and make it different all the time. Fall is my favorite season even though we really don’t have much of a real fall. So again I just push the issue and try to will our fall into being.

Otherwise, pumpkins at Christmas, why the hell not? Yes, I do that.

My favorite odd pumpkins* –


Green and Lilac pumpkin – could not help myself.


I think this my favorite – it looks like an evil pumpkin and I love it.

Cous Cous Salad

Well, I am doing it … again. Making the same recipes over and over because I like them. That said, it does not make for new and exciting things for this blog, but it is true to life and to me that is pretty important. This is how I cook. I make things that make me and mine happy – or sometimes, just me, happy. That is the case with this recipe. It is a combination of flavors that I love. You will also find it in the Asparagus, Red Onion, Orange Juice, White Wine butter sauce pasta. Red onions and orange juice are really amazing together.

It kind of bugs me (no, really bugs me) that I cannot find the source for this recipe – google –  can you not fix this?  Again, another recipe from my vegetarian decade and I so thought this was from The Greens Cook Book, but, alas, no. Still one of my favorite cook books.D&D_1556

1 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup sultanas (or just raisins in this case)
1 medium red onion, sliced into half circles
red wine vinegar – or apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup toasted pecans (or walnuts whatever you have)
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 cup cous cous*
1 Tbs canola oil

In a dry pan, heat nuts until they are just fragrant and slightly toasted. Remove from heat. In a small pot heat water to boil and place red onion in a heat-proof bowl. Add the hot water to the red onions for a few minutes and drain. Set aside and splash with red wine vinegar. Heat orange juice in a pot over medium heat and add sultanas. Add cous cous to the  orange juice mixture and add canola oil. Cover the pot with the lid to steam. Give it a few minutes and then fluff with a fork. Add in scallions, nuts, and red onions (w/the vinegar).  This is pretty damn amazing.

This salad, in my opinion, is great at room temperature and not bad on the cold side either. The vinegar pickles the onions and makes them crunchy and that is just lovely with the cous cous and the soft sultanas and crunchy nuts.

* I have tried this with Israeli cous cous, but prefer the Italian version – smaller, in this case, is better in my opinion.

Very Special Rice Krispie Treats

I defy anyone to not like a home-made rice krispie treat. They are great, drop dead simple, and make people happy. Those of us who bake/cook do it to make people in our lives happy. These also make me happy – so a total score!dd_1562

I had an accident once with rice krispie treats. It was probably common enough, but it made for a major advancement in my recipe. I had put my unsalted butter in a sauce pan to melt before adding the (mini) marshmallows and was not paying attention. Unbeknowst to me, I had created a light version of brown butter but went ahead with the recipe – this, people, is a game changer. No shit. Game Changer. It gives the treats a nuttiness that is simply amazing.

So then I started to think what else could I do to make these simple treat special? Well, let’s see – marshmallows are vanilla flavored so why not a bit of vanilla extract while we’re doing this – gild that damn lily. Then I think I had one of the best thoughts lately (maybe ever). What does sweet food love more than salt? Um, nothing. So after the treats were in the pan, I sprinkled them with Maldon salt. Holy Hell. Yup.

So here are the particulars … based on memory because I just kind of winged it.

4 Tbs unsalted butter
10 oz-ish bag of mini marshmallows
1 Tbs vanilla extract (the really stuff, please)
5 cups rice cereal (snap, crackle, and pop, stuff – Publix brand works really well)
2 tsp Maldon salt – or your choice of sea salt, something flaky though

Spray a 9 x 13 inch glass pan with cooking spray and set aside. Melt butter in a light colored sauce pan that way you can see when it starts to get just a bit brown. Add the marshmallows and stir to start melting. When you feel in the mood add in the vanilla. Once marshmallows are melted, stir in the rice cereal and coat with marshmallows.

Dump marshmallow mixture into prepared pan and using wet hands smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle the pan with Maldon salt.

Then – eat for breakfast because you know all the cool kids are doing it.

Apple Cake

It is officially Autumn now – so says the calendar, but where we live that means basically, nothing. Yep nothing. Except the likelihood of a hurricane. No really, hurricanes are most likely to hit in our area in September or October. Thankfully since 2005, we’ve been very fortunate. All that said, it is still hotter than blazes here and what is worse we have had no rain to cool off the afternoons.

So I am trying to force the issue with apple cake. Force the fall to get here sooner by sheer force of will. Apples and cinnamon – I think that equals fall, at least it does for me.


2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs vanilla
6 cups peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples (3 apples)

4 ozs cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. This is a thing I do with dry ingredients. It is kind of habit.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar, eggs, applesauce, canola oil, and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture. Fold in apples.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 – 40 minutes, roatating the pan half the way through, until a toothpick comes out clean.

For Frosting: In a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, salt and vanilla until smooth. Sift in confectioner’s sugar, but add more confectioner’s sugar as needed. Spread over completely cooled cake.

* I did not make the frosting because I wanted to try the cake on its own first. We decided that it was really good with no frosting. Maybe next time I will bake the cake, cool, and turn it out and cut in half and frost half and leave the other plain.

July – August 2016 – butter & eggs usage

9 July 2016 – Pear Bleu Cheese Turnovers – 1 large egg

And here is where is gets really sad –  nothing else until …

6 August 2016 – Creamed Corn – 3 Tbs butter

7 August 2016 – Chicken Salad & Egg Salad – 8 large eggs (boiled)

10 August 2016 – Red Onion, Asparagus Fettuccini White Wine, Orange Juice, Butter Sauce – 4 Tbs butterD&D_1533

17 August 2016 – Roasted Mushrooms – 2 Tbs butter

26 August 2016 – Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Chip Sour Cream Cake – 5 Tbs butter – 1 large egg

16 August 2016 – Brownie Cups – 16 Tbs butter – 4 large eggs

Well, I will give myself this excuse that summer is not terribly conducive to baking – or cooking – honestly. I can just skip dinner at this time of year.

I have a bundt pan problem. There I said it.

I love a good pound cake. I have quite a few favorites in this category: a sour cream one, a cream cheese one, a lemon buttermilk one. Yes, I just could go on and on, I am Southern after all.

I think pound cake is a favorite for me because this is one of the few desserts the the MotH* likes. It is simple, slightly sweet, but not too sweet, and I think that appeals to him. It does not hurt that the Boy is a big fan too, as am I.

Funny, my mom used to make pound cake (or as my paternal grandmother would call plain cake)** and toast it in the toaster oven and then smear it with peanut butter. Not something I would do, no matter how much I love some peanut butter, but I understand the idea. Crunchy cake with goopy peanut butter. To each her own.

So in the next few posts, I’ll share my favorite pound cake recipes and my favorite bundt pans as well. They really are, in my opinion, works of art. And the ones I order are all Made in America. Pretty cool, right? Yes, it is Nordic Wear and it is pretty damn cool.

My first non-traditional bundt pan is one that a great friend got for me ages ago – from William-Sonoma – which I could never had afforded at that time. Since my degrees were in Art History and I focused on 17th-century French Chateaus and 18th-century British Country Houses, I had a thing for the Fleur-de-lis.dd_1524 Living here lots of people mistake my fleur-de-lis thing for a support of New Orleans, and most of the time I do not bother to correct people and I do love New Orleans a lot. But the people that know me – really know me – understand the origin of this symbol for me. And my dearest friend bought this bundt pan for me – and shared her sour cream pound cake recipe with me. We are similar in that family recipes are very important and Southern Living magazine has produced some of our favorite things to make (see: Cranberry Relish).

*Man of the House.

** I have made my grandmother’s Plain Cake recipe as an adult and it was pretty much disappointing. Just not inspiring in the least. That said, she made the most amazing fried apple pies. Yes, this conversation will continue.