Monthly Archives: July 2016

My Sweetie Pie

I entered this pie in a local Peach Dessert Contest.  The same one I entered my Peach Pie with Ginger Streusel last year.  This year, I won Second Place!  I so enjoy winning.  I don’t mean to be cocky but it feels really good knowing that something that I created, gets acknowledged by others that, yes, it is pretty yummy.  Last year, it was a Peach Pie only contest.  This year, I went against Peach Sorbet, Peach Cookies, and Peach Cream Tart, along with other Peach Pies.  This win got me on the front page of the local paper, again!  It’s so fun.


Since my Ginger Streusel didn’t win last year, I decided to try a traditional peach pie with a twist of some sort.  I started by looking up some recipes in my cookbooks and on the internet.  I noticed that a few recipes substituted bourbon for the vanilla extract.  I thought that was interesting.  So, I went to my liquor cupboard.  It’s actually an old piece given to us by my husband’s Uncle Mickey.  We call it the Mexican bar.  It used to live in U. Mickey’s shed and there it just collected dust.  One day, my husband asked him for it and he agreed.  We have treasured it ever since.  It’s a beautiful hand carved piece made for storing bottles and glasses. As I went through the bottles stored in the Mexican Bar, I came across two bottles of Tuaca.  Ever hear of it?  It’s a fruity and sweet liquor that comes from the Tuscan region of Italy.  My husband, Carmen, was very fond of it and would often offer it after dinner to our guests.  Along with the Tuaca, I changed the ratio of sugars, adding more brown sugar than white.  It became a very sweet pie that didn’t distract from the fruitiness of the peaches.  I named it “My Sweetie Pie” in honor of Carmen for his sweetness, his love of Tuaca and my love for him.


Pastry Dough

2 1/2 cups Unbleached FlourIMG_5565

1 Tbl. Powdered Sugar

1 tsp. Salt

1/2 lb. Unsalted Butter

1/4 cup Vegetable Shortening

1/3 cup + 1 Tbl. Ice Water (possibly 1 to 2 Tbl. more if needed)

Cream or Milk and additional Sugar for top crust


Pie Filling

4 cups Peaches, peeled, pitted and slicedIMG_5571

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Sugar

3 Tbl. Cornstarch

3 Tbl. Fresh Lemon Juice

1/4 cup Tuaca

1/8 tsp. Salt

3 Tbls. Unsalted Butter

For the Pastry Dough:  Cut the Butter and Vegetable Shortening into 1/2 chunks and freeze. After they are frozen, begin with the dough. Place dry ingredients in food processor. Pulse for 10 seconds. With the processor off, scatter the Butter and Shortening on top of Flour mixture. Pulse 1 to 2 seconds until the Butter is a pea size. With processor off, drizzle 1/3 cup + 1 Tbl. of ice water on top. Pulse until there are no dry patches and it begins to clump into small batches. Don’t let it gather into a single mass. Add more Ice Water if needed. Divide dough in half. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.



Roll dough into a 13 inch round and fit into a 9 inch pie pan. Roll the other half into a 12 inch round for the top crust. Refrigerate both.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine well all Pie Filling ingredients. Let stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Pour into pie shell. Dot with 3 Tbls. Unsalted Butter cut into small pieces. Brush overhanging edge of bottom crust with cold water. Cover with the top crust and seal the edge, trim and flute. Cut steam vents. Lightly brush the top with Cream and sprinkle with Sugar. ( I decided to make a wide weave on the top crust.  I used the width of my ruler to cut strips that I placed on the top and the wove them in place and continued to seal, trim and flute the edges.)


Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Then reduce to 350 degrees and bake until juices bubble through the vent, 25 – 35 minutes more. Let cool completely before serving.


I have gotten many compliments from friends who have tried this pie.  One person said that he loved peach pie and that this was by far the best peach pie he had ever tasted.  Made me warm inside.  It’s either that good or he was very hungry.  Either way, I accept the compliment and am very grateful.  It’s not one of my easy recipes.  This takes a lot of prep and time but for the right occasion, I think it is well worth it.  I hope you try it.

Eat well, drink well and live well. Until next time.


Kumquat Marmalade

Kumquats?  Yup.  I know they aren’t your average citrus but let me tell you, they are very yummy.  I planted a kumquat tree many years ago, maybe ten or so.  I have an awkward backyard that needs a lot of privacy.  I researched all the planting possibilities for the backyard.  I, also, looked into fruit bearing trees.  If you are going to plant a tree, why not plant one that will give you shade, privacy, beauty and something to eat!  Citrus trees seemed to be the answer.  I have others kinds, too, like palms and Italian cypress but I just love my citrus trees.  I didn’t plant apples, peaches, plums or cherries.  I love all those fruits but the trees are deciduous – remember I needed screening and privacy.  Back to my kumquat, it has become a favorite of mine and my dogs.  Mattie, my cockapoo, runs to the tree every time I let her out.  She eats so many of them that she will get sick.  Cassius, my big puppy, will play with one for a while and eventually, I’m guessing once he has smashed the outer peel enough, will eat it.  If you have never had a kumquat, know that you eat the whole fruit, peel and all.  The fruit is small, the size of a large olive. It’s the peel that is sweet.  The pulp is sour.  So, when you put them together, chomp down on the peel.  The contrast of sweet and sour is delicious.

I like my kumquat tree and my kumquat tree likes were it is because I get a harvest twice a year and the branches are so full that they bend with the weight of the fruit.  The dogs and I get our fill and I share with everyone who likes kumquats but I always have extra.  With the fruit that’s left, I make candied kumquats and kumquat marmalade.  The marmalade is similar to orange marmalade but with a twist.  You can find this citrus in your grocery store.  They tend to be a bit expensive.  Last time I saw them, they were $6.99 a pound but it’s well worth a try.

The neat thing about this fruit is that the seeds carry the pectin.  You boil the seeds with the fruit, sugar and water and it will jell up on it’s own.  So fun!  This year, I tried my hand at a kumquat jelly.  That turned out really yummy. I’m going to try a kumquat/mint jelly. I thought that might go well with lamb.   I’ll post the recipes soon.  Wish me luck.


2 Lemons

1 lb. Kumquats

5 1/2 cups Water

2 cups Sugar

pinch of Salt


Cut the Lemons in half lengthwise.  Seed (Save the seeds.) and slice very thinly.  Put lemon slices in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat until the lemons are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Drain.




Seed (Save the seeds.) and slice the Kumquats. Tie lemon and kumquat seeds in to a piece of cheesecloth.  Put the seed bag, the Lemon and Kumquat slices, and 5 1/2 cups Water in the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat, cover and let stand 24 hours.


Add Sugar and Salt to the pot and cook for 30-45 minutes over medium heat.  Remove the bag of seed and when cool enough, squeeze the seeds in the cheesecloth with your hands or a ladle and the back of a spoon over the pot. Be careful not to break the bag and drop seeds into the marmalade.


Continue cooking until jelling point, about 220 degrees in a candy thermometer.  There are other ways to check if it’s done using a frozen plate.  Check the internet for this method.


Remove from heat and ladle the marmalade into clean jars.  Here is where you would preserve them in a water bath.  Again, check the internet for directions.


This is a great gift for any occasion.  Try it on toast, crackers and cheese.

Until next time, eat well, drink well and live well.


Peach Salad

This is a savory salad.  There are a lot of variations out there but this one is the simplest.  I like simple food.  I want to taste all the flavors.  This is a great accompaniment to a bar-b-que.  It’s fresh, unusual and delicious.

Simple is the word of the week for me.  I complicate things in my head so much and create stress that doesn’t really exist.  These past two weeks have been that way for me.  I let the small stuff, really itsy-bitsy things, bother me.  I’ve read this phrase twice now, in two different books.  “We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.” from the Talmud. I realized the other day while having coffee with a friend, that my “stuff” is the same “stuff” that everyone else is feeling.  The key, I think, is to realize that everyone has the same doubts, fears and insecurities.  It’s important to keep that in mind and try to treat everyone as best as you can with kindness and love.  We all want the same things in life:  love, relationships, kindness, security, shelter, food, to live life to the fullest.  OK, well enough of this deep sentimentality.  I just finished reading the newspaper and I think all the terrible catastrophes of the world have hit me hard.  Forgive my chatter.

Simple.  That’s right. This recipe is simple.  Don’t fret if the peaches are not totally ripe.  It is a savory salad, so you can use peaches that are  hard and not very sweet.  I used a robust olive oil for this salad.  It’s a picual from Grumpy Goat.  It’s my favorite at the moment.  You can, also, switch the basil for mint.  You can add tomatoes and/or feta.  I like it like this. Simple.



4-5 Peaches, diced into bite-size pieces, keep the skin on

1/4 Red OnionIMG_5441

1/2 cup fresh Basil

juice of  1/2 Lemon

1 Tbl. Olive Oil

Pinch of Salt, I use Kosher Sea Salt

Ground Pepper



With the Red Onions, I always debate whether to slice them very thin, making the strips easy to push aside or to dice them so small that they don’t overpower the bite.  In this recipe, I like to dice them very small, almost minced.


Dice the Red Onions. Combine with the Olive Oil and leave in the refrigerator overnight.


An hour before serving, add the Lemon Juice to the Onions and put aside.  Roll the Basil leaves into a cigar and thinly slice to create thin strips.


Add all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss.  Season with fresh Black Pepper.   Top with a little more Olive Oil.  Serves 6.

Each serving contains: 53 Calories, 2.5 grams Fat, 82 grams Carbs, .8 grams Protein.

This is a cheerful salad and ready in a few minutes.  I listen to Are You Having Any Fun?  by Tony Bennet and Elvis Costelo.  It makes me smile.  I hope it will make you smile, too.

Eat well, drink well and live well.  Until next time.