“Hope Chest” Root Vegetable Baskets — Celebrating 20 Successful Years!!

The Hope Chest

The Hope Chest, LaGrange, IL, USA

A group of busy women were looking for efficient ways to raise money for our favorite charity:  the Constance Morris House, a Chicago area shelter for victims of domestic violence.  We had tired of exhausting raffles and holiday events.  But what else could we do??   “Perhaps a second-hand clothing shop?,”  someone suggested — “something sustainable rather than multiple whirlwind events?”  We thought it was a fabulous idea! Continue reading

Easy Outdoor Party with Seasonal Produce (Part 3 of 3)

Summer Berries

Summer Berries

What could be a better finish to our seasonal party than a shortcake with peak-of-season local berries?   Since our party was in June, strawberries were just the ticket. It is August now and, at least here in Michigan, local strawberries have moved over to make room for our luscious blueberries and blackberries.  No worries.  You can use any seasonal berry or mix of berries in this easy dessert.

There are a number of reasons why this dessert is so easy for a party menu: Continue reading

Easy Outdoor Party with Seasonal Produce (Part 2 of 3)

Sangrias at the Drinks Table

Sangrias at the Drinks Table

This summer party was a group effort – a beautiful backyard provided by our hosts, menu by A Global Garnish and food/drink contributions from all attendees.  Don’t confuse this group effort with a potluck, which has the emphasis on luck.  If you’re lucky, a potluck party will have a good distribution of appetizers, main dishes and desserts as well as a mix of ingredients/flavors.  But why leave all this to chance??  If you give out menu assignments, you KNOW the final meal will all come together.  Further, you save your guests the trouble of wondering:  “what should I make?”. Continue reading

Easy Outdoor Party With Seasonal Produce (Part 1 of 3)

Israeli Couscous with Sweet Red Peppers and Asparagus

Israeli Couscous with Sweet Red Peppers and Asparagus

Summer solstice – time to enjoy the glorious evening daylight, the early summer climate, lush gardens and early seasonal produce. Could there be a better time for an outdoor party?  My clever friends thought not. Continue reading

A Kosher Cooking Lesson and Vegetable Brown Stock

Rosemary Rescued from the Snow

Rosemary Rescued from the Snow

Cooking lessons are so much fun. I still dust off some of my old lessons when asked or, occasionally, as donations to charity. So, when a friend asked to sell one of my lessons at a live charity auction, I was delighted.  The lesson, “Stocks and the Five Mother Sauces”, was from my repertoire of tried and true lessons.  I could teach it in my sleep.  Piece of cake.  Sure, I would be happy to donate the lesson.

Then came the surprise from the buyer: Continue reading

Do-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner (Part 3 of 3) – Cranberry Orange Sauce

Fresh Cranberries

Three posts in one week – a first for me.  Sorry I’m clogging your in-baskets, but I thought I would do my best to finish what I started before Thanksgiving.

This post will wrap up the key things you need to do a week (or a few days) ahead of your Thanksgiving dinner. Continue reading

Do-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner (Part 2 of 3) – Sausage, Sage and Apple Stuffing

Stuffing, Stuffing and More Stuffing

Since I’m cooking two Thanksgiving dinners in two U.S. states this year, I am fully immersed in “do-ahead” mode.   How else could I possibly manage??

Working through my list in Do-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner (Part 1), I have made my turkey stock and gravy, asked friends to bring pies and ordered my turkey.   Now is the time to make my favorite part:  stuffing Continue reading

Do-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner (Part 1 of 3) — Turkey Brown Stock

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile – Perfect for Early Christmas Shopping

It is almost Thanksgiving and the start of holiday season here in the U.S.  This is when I wish the moratorium on human cloning had expired, and I could be in multiple places at once. Continue reading

Blueberry Blues

Michigan Blueberries

Inspired by one of my fellow bloggers, Cookinginsens, who shared the delicious results of her recent freezer purge, I decided it was time to clear out the basement freezer.  I was making very good progress in this endeavor.  My final task was to utilize the last of the 2011 Michigan blueberry crop.  After all, the 2012 blueberry season had arrived. Why would anyone hoard frozen blueberries from last year when there was a new crop to be had?  Time to make some blueberry muffins — best with fresh blueberries, but quite serviceable with last year’s crop — and an excellent way to use frozen blueberries. Continue reading