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Excuses, Excuses…

Ok, it has been a while since my last post (actually, my first and only post).  There are tons of reasons:  1) health issues, 2) honeymoon trip planning (much more fun than #1), 3) writer’s block, and 4) a lack of confidence.  This last one is the biggie.

Health issues are improving and I am feeling better!  All of the flights and rooms are booked so the trip planning is going well.  Just have the little details of what to see, what to do, how to get there, left to plan.  Writer’s block has plagued me for years; I should be used to it by now.  I just gotta write something, anything, to get me started.  This post is my attempt to get over this latest block.

This leads me to “lack of confidence.”  I have many recipes to share, but I am worried that the recipes might not be foolproof enough to post.  Case in point – recently, I made cornbread when my in-laws were visiting.  I got a little too confident and didn’t measure everything.  Big mistake!  Thought I was running out of the corn meal mix, so I just poured all of it into the mixing bowl.  Figured I would get the ratio correct when I added the buttermilk.  Not so much.  Fail!  It tasted fine, but the texture was crumbly.  Having a fail from my own recipe, didn’t exactly boost my confidence.

I’ve also been concerned that my photography is not good enough.  So, I’ve used this as another rationalization not to post.  Well, we just got a new camera for our trip to Italy and I am optimistic that this excuse will not be an issue for very long.  Now, if I can just learn how to use the camera, I’ll be set! In the meantime, I will post what I can (with or without photographs).  I can always update posts after the fact.

Following are three recipes to make up for my lack of recent posts.  The first is my homage to summer – a “Magic” Blueberry Cobbler.  This recipe, originally from Good Morning America,  is also delicious with peaches (or blackberries, or even a combo of the three).  Berry season is over but if last night’s farmers market is any indication, peaches are still going strong here in Alabama.  The other two are my welcome to fall recipes (one can dream that fall will be here eventually) – Egyptian Style Red Lentil Soup and an Egyptian Style Salad Dressing.  Last week’s cooler weather made me think about soup.  This is an excellent and versatile soup; it can be vegetarian, vegan, or made with stock.  In addition, it is relatively quick to make since it does not need to simmer all day. It is great for not heating up the kitchen while we are waiting patiently for fall!  The salad dressing makes a nice accompaniment, perfect on a simple green salad.

Magic Blueberry Cobbler:
5 cups fresh blueberries (works with frozen berries too, you can also substitute peaches or blackberries for half of the blueberries)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I probably used a little more)
¼ teaspoon ground mace (optional, I used cinnamon)
3 cups sugar (I used less sugar)
1 cup whole milk (I have used ½ & ½ with a little water)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (or a little more)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1½ cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spread the blueberries in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.  Drizzle the lemon juice over the berries and set this aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, ½ teaspoon of the salt, the nutmeg, mace (or cinnamon), 1½ cups of the sugar, the milk, butter, and vanilla.  Spoon over the berries and spread in an even layer.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1½ cups sugar, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and the cornstarch.  Sprinkle this mixture over the batter.  Pour the boiling water evenly over the top of the cobbler.  Poke a few holes down in the batter with the handle of a wooden spoon.  Bake for 1 hour or until bubbly, golden brown and shiny.  Serve warm or at room temperature (I like it cold for breakfast!).

Egyptian Style Red Lentil Soup:
2 cups chopped onions
10 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
1-1½ cups chopped potatoes (about 1 large potato)
5 cups water (or vegetable broth or chicken stock)
1 cup dried red lentils
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of hot chili flakes, cayenne, or Aleppo pepper (optional)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onions, celery, and garlic in oil.  Add the carrots, potatoes, lentils, and water. Cover and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the lentils and vegetables are tender. Take pot off the heat or turn it to very low.

In a separate, small saucepan, add the canola oil and warm over low heat until the oil is hot but not smoking.  Add the cumin, turmeric, coriander, salt, and chili flakes; cook and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes or until the spices have released their fragrance (be careful not to burn the spices).  Set spice mixture aside for a few minutes to cool.

Stir spice mixture into the lentil mixture and then add the cilantro.  You can purée the soup, in batches, in a blender or you can use an immersion blender and blend to a desired texture (I like to leave it a little chunky).  Add the fresh lemon juice and stir to combine.  Re-warm soup and season with more salt/pepper, if you want.  Serve with lemon wedges and Greek low-fat yogurt.

Egyptian Style Salad Dressing:
¼ cup oil (canola, sunflower, olive oil, or your choice of oils)
¼ cup lemon juice (can also substitute lime if that’s what you have)
1 tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider or a combination)
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of hot chili flakes, cayenne, or Aleppo pepper (optional)

Mix ingredients.  Serve over a green salad or tomato/cucumber/onion/parsley chopped salad.

  1. August 26, 2011 at 4:51 pm


    Some of my fondest memories of time with you and your mother revolve around food. I always loved the fact that she was an adventurous cook–willing to take a chance. 98 percent of the time, it was a home run. And even when it was a “not so successful” effort, her laughter made the whole experience fun. I could be sure that she would turn it into a story. As is probably obvious, I really miss her.

    No need to worry about your blog from where I sit. It’s terrific. I’m eager to try the cobbler recipe and the salad dressing one.

    Keep it up. Love to Matt and keep plenty for yourself. Helen V.

    • August 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      Thank you, Helen! Mom was a creative chef. Who could forget her Famous Chicken Salad Casserole with all the mayo and potato chips?! I’m sure Ned is still horrified by the idea :) Love to you, Ed, and all the family.

  2. Molly Pettis Reid
    August 26, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I have been working on a good lentil stew/soup for awhile. This is my next try. Thank you so much. You’re a great cook. I remember cooking with you and Nancy. I found actual photographic proof. Later Kate.

    • August 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      We sure had fun as the Snood Sisters :). Hope you like the soup, Molly.

  3. August 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    The soup sounds wonderful! I can’t wait to try it with a salad and the dressing you posted as well. I also have been yearning for cooler weather while still trying to enjoy these last days of summer. They are shorter lived up here where we are! Blueberry cobbler is one of my favorite summertime desserts as well. I look forward to reading (and eating) more from your [virtual] kitchen. Love to you and Matt ~

    • August 30, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      Thanks, Abbie! Hope you like the recipes. Love from us to the Mullins Family!

  4. Fred
    September 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    So here is the deal. I see no good reason that you cannot blog from Italy. The prospect of an international exchange of all things really good from the meals you will consume makes my mouth water. You will need to be crafty to get the cooking secrets which will be required to recreate the fine eating I am sure you will experience. At the very least you can photograph the uneaten plate to demonstrate what we are missing. Have a great time!!

    • September 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      Thanks Fred, we will have a blast. Doubt I will be posting while in Italy (no computer) but I will keep a journal and post when we get home. We’ll also be taking tons of foodie photos! We’re staying at an organic farm in Northern Italy and I’m hoping to cook with the owner (watch her :). We’ve been emailing back-and-forth and she seems very nice. Would love to share some of her recipes!

  5. September 6, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Your lentil soup sounds delicious. And just think you gave us salad and dessert besides.

    • September 15, 2011 at 11:29 am

      Thanks Karen, hope you try it and like it. Haven’t quite adjusted to the frequency of blogging. I must practice, practice.

  1. June 16, 2012 at 11:10 am
  2. November 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm

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