Sunday, January 25, 2009


...spend the day like this with a warm cup of tea and a homemade scone...
Young Woman Reading...Private Collection.Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)

The artist Mary Cassatt was born into a wealthy family in the city of Allegheny, which is now the North Side of Pittsburgh.No wonder I love her work. It was a struggle to get her parents to support her.Women in her position did not work for a living. But they eventually relented. She was a true trailblazer for women.To read more about her click HERE

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Baby It's Cold Outside

So get out your crock pot (every American household should have one) and make some of Paula Deen's Taco Soup..Perfect after a freezing day at home and a long brisk walk.Don't you just LOVE Paula and the Food Channel. Nothing like watching that channel to get you in the mood to cook- and eat.

Taco Soup
2 pounds ground beef
2 cups diced onions
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans pinto beans
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can pink kidney beans
1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes with chiles
2 (4 1/2-ounce) cans diced green chiles
1 (4.6-ounce) can black olives, drained and sliced, optional
1/2 cup green olives, sliced, optional
1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (1-ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix
Corn chips, for serving
Sour cream, for garnish
Grated cheese, for garnish
Chopped green onions, for garnish
Pickled jalapenos, for garnish

Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, black olives, green olives, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove. To serve, place a few corn chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with sour cream, cheese, green onions and jalapenos.
12 to 16 servings

photo courtesy of

Friday, January 23, 2009


I have finally figured out why I am so obsessed with food.

Nonno Joe's first grocery store, circa 1920's.

He's the young man in the back on the left with his crisp white uniform and hair parted in the middle.

I spent many a day at his newer store, built in the 50's, packing the groceries of customers(why I'm such a bagger freak now), rearranging the magazine rack, and raiding the junk aisle of all of my favorite treats.There's nothing more fun for a foodie kid- than to go to the grocery store ,after hours with your Nonno and pick out anything you want to eat for a nighttime snack.

It's in my it must be hopeless.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Weekly Folly

With a name like Kathleen's Folly, how could I not discuss them...
This my first of what I hope to be many weekly follies.

How's this for an adorable folly?

This screamingly cute Teapot Dome folly house is a service station in Zillah,Washington.It was built in 1922 and is registered U.S. Register of Historic Places.It's handle is made of sheet metal and its spout concrete.

I want one for my backyard.

What a special pool house it would make!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

God Bless President Barack Obama

I can only imagine the excitement that our new president, his wife and children are experiencing this day. After everything else, they are moving to a new home- THE home- the White House.

I was able to go to The White House last April and it really is a home. Going to the White House is a moving experience. Can you imagine what it feels like to actually live there??

If you have not seen the well-done series JOHN ADAMS, on HBO last year, you must rent it. Tonight is the perfect night to start watching it.One of the most memorable and moving parts is below. From the slaves building the White House, to the condition of the building itself.What a different welcome our new president is receiving from that of John and Abigail. Good Luck and God Speed, Mr President.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm dreaming of... Sara Lee Banana Cake

There are certain foods from my childhood of which I am obsessed that alas, are either impossible or very hard to get...

-Mrs Robiberra's tomato sauce- as I recall the BEST
-Heinz Genuine Dill Pickles ( impossible to find in the NY area- they are SO GOOD)
-Frozen Melon Balls-used to get them in the freezer section of the grocery store
-Dairy Queen Zebra cone-DQ- much better than Carvel
-Sara lee Banana Cake- also on the freezer section

It has been 38 years since I was a girl living down the street from Mrs. Robiberra. Her sauce, which I would slurp from a tea cup with a piece of bread , was made each and every week. IT is lost to me.If there are any Robiberra's from Pittsburgh out there that have the family recipe- please let me know!

My pal Robbie's dad "Rope" used to bring down from upstate NY the Genuine Dill Pickles and Frozen Melon Balls.

What a guy.

He has since passed away. I am still touched by his kindness of trekking to the grocery store for his daughter's nutty food obsessed friend(me ) He would drive the 2 hours with my taste bud treasures- making sure to keep the melon balls frozen.How lucky was I (and Robbie -to have such an adorable dad)!

I am lucky enough to be a half hour's drive from a Dairy Queen and I try to get there a few times each year to relive my childhood's after dinner treat. I can close my eyes and be back once again on Ohio River Blvd with my Nonno Joe, who would take us children there whenever he came for a visit.

And last but not least- that wonderful Sara Lee Banana Cake. It was a little bite of heaven (and chemicals I'm sure).

After a Sara Lee craving break down- I decided to google it.

Can you believe it?
There are chat rooms which discuss its demise.

See, I'm not so nutty after all.

Apparently you can buy it in 2 places- Green Bay Wisconsin and Peoria ,Ill. I wish I knew that last January when I was in Green Bay for the night!

Thanks to another Sara Lee-obsessed person- I came across the Fannie Farmer version

Pseudo Sara Lee Banana Cake- from Fannie Farmer Cookbook

1/2 cup vegetable shortening( I like Crisco- now trans fat free!!)
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium sized bananas)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Cream-Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)


1. Use only bananas that are soft and sweet. This is a moist cake that keeps well for at least four days.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 13 x 9 inch pan(just like ole Sara)
3. Cream the shortening, then slowly add the sugar, and beat until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the egg yolks, then the mashed banana and buttermilk, and mix well. Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, add to the banana mixture, and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff but moist. Plop the beaten whites on top of the batter and begin folding them in. Continue folding until blended.
4. Spread evenly in the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan. Frost with Cream-Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
4 Tablespoons Butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups confectioner's sugar (sifted, if lumpy)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a food processor. Beat well or process until perfectly smooth and spreadable.

What's your childhood food fave that you crave but cannot find??

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hey Yinz Goin' Dahntahn Tonight?

There is a controversy in the Pittsburgh world.. Is it younz,youns,yins or yinz.. Sorta like po-ta-"toe" po-ta-to, to-ma-"toe",to-ma-to.. It's impossible to figure out the correct spelling since it is not recognized as a word. Sort of like "alot"- which is a word but not a word all at once!

All the same in the end.
And no matter how you spell it - it sounds the same "yinz".

For your non- Pittsburghers- youns/younz/yins/yinz is the equivalent of ya'll.

I can't say there will be many Pittsburghers or Steeler Nation folks not glued to their seats tonight as the "Stillers" take on "those dirty bird bastards"(a favorite saying of my late great Aunt Alice- although I added "bird" myself).


Steeler Nation

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pavlova Pound Shedding

Like many others. I am trying to "loose a few" this month...which for me,of course, means baking up a storm...especially in this frigid weather we New Yorker's are experiencing.

Today Ill try to curtail the calories by making a Pavlova for my honey and I (or is it me??)-which must have a few less calories than cake..right??

"Pavlova is a meringue dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Ánna Pávlova ... The dessert is crispy on the outside but light and fluffy inside...
The dessert is believed to have been created to honour the dancer during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand. The exact location of its first creation and the nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two countries for many years, however more serious research into the matter indicates New Zealand as source of today's pavlova." Wikpedia


From Martha Stewart Jan 2009

Serves 8 to 10

* 4 large egg whites, room temperature
* 1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
* 3/4 cup superfine sugar
* Pinch of salt
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 2 tablespoons Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
* Dark-Chocolate Cream
* 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
* Milk-Chocolate Curls, for garnish


1. Make the meringue: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Draw an 8-inch circle on parchment, then flip. Mix whites, sugars, and salt in a mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugars dissolve and mixture is warm, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
2. Sift cocoa powder over meringue, and fold until barely any streaks remain. Using an offset spatula or a large spoon, spread meringue into a round, using circle as a guide. (Be careful not to spread out too much; meringue will spread more during baking.) Form a well in center, being careful not to spread meringue too thin.
3. Bake meringue until dry to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool on sheet on wire rack. Meringue will keep, covered, for up to 1 day.

Dark Chocolate Cream
Makes about 2 cups

* 4 large egg yolks
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
* 1/2 cup whole milk
* 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
* 8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (preferably 70 percent cacao)


1. Prepare an ice-water bath. Whisk yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl. Bring cream, milk, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Pour a third of hot cream mixture into yolk mixture, whisking until combined. Pour yolk mixture into pan with hot cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture coats the back of a spoon, 6 to 7 minutes.
2. Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Pour hot mixture over chocolate. Whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Strain through a sieve into a medium bowl, then set in ice-water bath, stirring often, until cold. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on surface of chocolate cream, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

To assemble pavlova: Spread dark-chocolate cream evenly in center of meringue, leaving a 1/2-inch border from edge. Spread whipped cream over chocolate cream. Garnish with chocolate curls, and serve immediately.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Well, today's the day.

has posted for the first time since August when she and her Mr Nielson were in that horrific plane crash . Please visit her blog and weep tears of joy like me.

God Bless you Nie.

What a fine, wonderful day.

In NY the sun is shining-even though its all of of 18 outside.

Nie's posting and the "Miracle on the Hudson" all within a 24 hour period. it's just one of those special days.

It is so comforting to know that chivalry is not dead. I cannot tell you how moved I was to hear that women and children were let off the plane first.
America is a great country with great people don't ya know...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Well I didn't make those strawberry cupcakes, like I said I would over the weekend, after all.

I was all set on doing them until my sister Maggie came over and we started looking up Donna Hay's other recipes on her site.

We saw PAVLOVA Cupcakes and HAD to make them- immediately.I have a confession.I have a Pavlova obsession.

So we got out the Martha Stewart cupcake holders from Michael's, grabbed the fresh eggs and went to it.

I improvised a bit- I did not have passion fruit- but I did have strawberries so strawberry sauce it was.

They don't look all that great- but they were fantastic- the cake tasted very much like Kentucky Butter Cake and the meringue was amazing.

One thing for all you Americans- she say 320F but don't listen- use 350F instead.

And I can't forget the three poochies- who , just like my children , love to lick the bowl...

From Donna Hay

Pavlova Cupcakes

* 125g butter, softened
* ⅔ cups (150g) caster (superfine) sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup (150g) self-raising (self-rising) flour
* ½ cup (125ml) milk
* icing (confectioner's) sugar, for dusting


* 2 eggwhites
* ½ cup (110g) caster (superfine) sugar
* ½ teaspoon white vinegar

passionfruit syrup

* ¼ cup (60ml) passionfruit pulp*
* ¼ cup (55g) caster (superfine) sugar
* ¼ cup (60ml) water

Preheat oven to 160°C (320ºF-DONT do 350 instead).

I replaced strawberries for the passionfruit...

To make the passionfruit syrup, place the passionfruit pulp, sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 6–8 minutes or until thickened. Set aside.
To make the meringue, place the eggwhites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and vinegar and beat until the mixture is thick and glossy. Set aside.
Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well. Sift over the flour and beat until combined. Stir in the milk. Spoon the mixture into a 12 x ½ cup-capacity muffin tin lined with cupcake papers. Top with a tablespoon of meringue mixture and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool.
To make the passionfruit syrup, . Spoon over the cupcakes to serve. Makes 12.
* When buying passionfruit, look for small fruit with deep purple skin which is quite leathery and wrinkled. This indicates ripeness. Panama passionfruit, which are slightly larger and have a less tart flavour than the regular variety, do not have wrinkled skin when ripe. Choose panama passionfruit which feel heavy for their size. You will need about 3 passionfruit for ¼ cup pulp or you can buy canned passionfruit pulp from supermarkets.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Reader

Really makes you think....

Are you one to go with the flock or dare to stand up for your beliefs-in life and death situations for yourself- or for someone else.So many of us are afraid what others will think- to such a fault that it changes the course of your life or that of another's..

Saturday, January 10, 2009

CupCake Crazy

I tried to post this earlier but it wasn't working. If you haven't seen it please give yourself a no calorie treat- it will make you happy.

Amanda, from Bake It Pretty (a really cute site for cake and cupcake decorating) has a very talented sister who made this video for for her.

After visiting Alexis Stewart's blog,in which she uses Donna Hay recipes all the time, I ran out last night and bought Donna Hay's latest magazine.
And guess what one of the articles was about?

So many delicious cupcakes...Strawberry Cupcakes.Red Velvet Cupcakes.Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Cupcakes.Candied Lemon Cupcakes.Double Chocolate Cupcakes(Hungry Yet?)Vanilla Cream Cupcakes.Coconut Cupcakes. Honey and Golden Syrup Meringue Cupcakes.

The article was called Petite Amour.

Love this magazine.

Hard to choose which ones to bake.

But I think I'm choosing Strawberry cupcakes for now.

And Meringue Icing( can't wait to have MERINGUE ICING!) from the eggs I get ech week form the boys across the way.It uses Golden Syrup- which wikpedia says.."
is a thick, amber-colored form of inverted sugar syrup, made in the process of refining sugar cane juice into sugar, or by treatment of a sugar solution with acid. It is used in a variety of baking recipes and desserts. It has an appearance similar to honey, and is often used as a substitute for people who do not eat honey. It can also be used as a substitute for corn syrup."

I'm going to have to go on a hunt this AM to find some-otherwise I'll use honey. I DON"T want to use corn syrup.

Strawberry Cupcakes

*125g butter softened...grams-huh-ohh I'm feeling Aussie/British already
*3/4 cup caster sugar..don't you just love the way they talk-superfine sugar for us Colonists
*1 tsp vanilla extract
*2 eggs
*1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
*1 1/4 tsp baking powder-sifted
*1/2 cup milk
*75 g strawberries hulled and chopped(you can use defrosted frozen ones if you want)

Preheat oven to 320f
Place butter,sugar and vanilla in bowl and with electric mixer beat till light and creamy-10-12 minutes.Gradually add eggs and beat well.Add flour,baking powder,milk until combined. Place strawberries in food processor and process till smooth. Fold strawberries into cupcake mixture. Spoon into cupcake tin with paper cupcake holders. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

I'm going to make the MERINGUE ICING- even though it calls for Cream Cheese Icing
Golden Syrup Meringue Icing
*1 1/4 cups Golden syrup
*4/3 teaspoon cream of tartar
*3 very fresh egg whites
Place golden syrup and cream of tartar in small saucepan over heat and bring to a boil.Place egg whites in mixer ad beat till soft peaks form.While motor is running, gradually add golden syrup mixture and beat for 4-5 minutes till thick and glossy.Spread over cupcakes...YUM

Friday, January 9, 2009

Daryn's Farewell to Hekima

Well this final video is a real tear jerker- but as Daryn says- tears of joy!!. How beautiful

Thursday, January 8, 2009


You know how I've been going on for months now about Nie and Mr. Nielson, asking for prayers, donations, giving updates.. Well low and behold..Alleluia.
This was posted today on Nie's blog
"The Good News To Come

As a result of your prayers and well-wishing, this adored blog will be updated regularly on January 16th. Please mark your calendars, or whatever you do. Buy a pinata, make frozen lemonade, this is a celebration.

Nie is back."

Below is a video from a few months ago which shows the family love.

God Bless You Stephanie AND Mr. Nielson.


See latest video from Hekima Place below.

Happy Hekima

What a gift Daryn has given Hekima Place by spreading the word to the whole world!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


And one of my fav HBO actors Timothy Olyphant- the hunky hero from Deadwood will be a new character.

It's getting RAVE all the papers.

And don't forget each day this week a new video of Daryn Kagan's trip to Kenya. Today's is below.

From Kibera to Hekima

Today's video from highlights the girls that were rescued from Kibera and brought to Hekima Place, through my Tricia and the wonderful organization Faces of Kibera.My girlfriends have become big sisters to many of these girls. The joy I feel knowing they are safe and flourishing there now is indescribable!It's like Christmas morning again and again.Thank you Daryn for bringing us these uplifting, hopeful videos!And thanks once again to Kate Fletcher for being who you are.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Hekima All Week

Hekima means Wisdom is Swahili. As you know my friend Daryn went there for the Christmas holiday.She will be featuring a video of her adventures each day on her site I will also post them here for all to see... It looks like fun. I can't wait to go sometime this year.


Cupcake Anyone??

Amanda has just opened up the CUTEST web store Bake it Pretty. She sells adorable cupcake "kits" so vintage , so adorable. Makes you want to put on your apron and get out the Kitchen Aid mixer right now. her very talented sister made a video HERE to announce her new store. IT IS THE CUTEST VIDEO AND WORTH THE CLICK. Good luck Amanda- I'm certainly a fan. And I need her cute adornments to cover up my un-talent in the baking department.

And speaking of cupcakes- there is the CUTEST cupcake book out there called HELLO CUPCAKE. You can buy it HERE. It was One of my favorite gifts to buy this past CHRISTMAS.


Sunday, January 4, 2009


I am beside myself.

Bliss has returned.

My favorite magazine, Victoria, of which I was a faithful reader and subscriber from the start, has been revived.

But how could have missed it for a whole year??
Six issues have already passed.

I've got lots of reading to do.

So do you.I'm sure.

Click here

I spent many a day on the front porch of my old home lying on the wicker couch,reading Victoria.I would drop everything, make some tea, listen to the birds churping and the player piano from Tess's house across the way and be in Victoria bliss.

And to think I can do it again.


Thanks to the magic of plexiglass and the sun I can sit out here even when its below zero- just as long as it's a sunny day!

Can't wait or the first issue to arrive.

It will be me,the three pooches and Doris and Rock, sitting on the porch, sipping some tea and reading my Bliss.

Oh and Tess and Mag- don't attempt to get a subscription-it's already coming your way.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

HAPPY 2009

Let's hope this is one of many more for all of us.