Coffee Cake For Frances

I’ve been making this coffee cake for more than twenty years so it feels like MY coffee cake but really it isn’t. It is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cafe Beaujolais by Margaret Fox and John Bear (who eats there a lot), which is probably out of print now but cheap, used copies are around.

Note to Frances: I make it without nuts because some people I live with don’t care for them mixed in with other things but you can try it both ways and see for yourself. And as you probably noticed I also always bake mine in a round 8 or 9-inch cake pan.


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Breakfast for a chilly morning in August

Oatmeal with toasted walnuts, blueberries, and honey

 lamb breakfast sausage

toast and blueberry jam

and Creamy Scrambled Eggs:

5 tablespoons cream

12 eggs, well beaten

4 oz cream cheese

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon Crazy Jane’s

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a baking dish. Combine ingredients milk and eggs. In a large frying pan melt butter and scramble the eggs over low heat keeping them very moist.

Gently fold in the other ingredients.

Turn mixture into the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes until very hot.

Serves eight.

I love that just before their big trip to visit their grandparents in Californie, Harriet and Elisa suddenly wanted to watch The Beverly Hillbillies again.

We sent them well prepared. This is for the girls.

The best thing about today was finally talking to H&E on the phone and getting an email from Elisa. 

                        ” I am in California and this morning we went blackberry picking and then we made finished pancake.  The plane was way too long we watched the Olympics on the tv on the plane. Last night we got here at 3 pm* your time. Harriet and  i woke up 8 NY time and played Rat a Tat Cat.”

* I think she meant 3 am.
Finnish Pancake
   (always finished)
2 eggs
2 cups of milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Sift sugar, flour, and salt. Blend with remaining ingredients. In a 350 degree oven place a deep pie dish with 3 tablespoons butter to warm. When bubbly, pour in  batter and sprinkle with 1-2 Tablespoons sugar. Bake for 35 minutes. It puffs up and turns golden brown on top. Cut into wedges and serve with berries and a dollop of sour cream.
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The second best thing about today was Fish Truck happiness. Billy and I shared a huge bowl of mussels with garlic and tomato for supper. Or maybe it is  that my friend Tom sold me a three-pound bag of garlic cloves today for planting this fall and the whole house smells amazing. 
 . . . . .
And the third best thing about today was my walk up the hill after supper.
 Now just sleep is on my schedule, at least for one night. Hope you are having a happy weekend.

“she has just about lost her patience with the mud, the drizzle, and the greyness outdoors”

From Tasha Tudor’s Garden by Tovah Martin.

Never mind that the author is referring to the month of April.  I do feel marooned. Birds that usually fly south for winter are still here and  I’m sure they are thinking, “What’s the point in leaving now?”  It is February 1st and the lilacs and forsythia are budding! I find myself dreaming longingly for concrete and gravel, as I do every spring.

asparagus in the winter, color

I spent the morning working outside, ended up weeding in the garden naturally, and now I am ready to retreat to the kitchen. Thank goodness for mud rooms, tall boots, and wood stoves.

Today I thought I’d make Garlic and Herb Cheese to have on crackers for lunch, and for supper tonight Onion-Cheese Cornbread, and Leg of Lamb with White Beans.

All recipes are from California Fresh Cookbook.

Leg of Lamb with White Beans, serves 10

1 pound Great Northern beans

2 pounds onions

1/4 cup butter

1Tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, or 2 cans (1 pound each) Italian plum tomatoes, drained

1 leg of lamb (6 to 7 lbs)

2 cloves of garlic

Make beans ahead of time. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large skillet, saute onions and minced garlic in butter over medium heat until golden.

In a shallow roasting pan, combine beans, sautéed onions, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and tomatoes. Stir well to combine.

Dry the lamb with paper towels and trim off most of the fat. Make slits in the lamb and insert slivers of garlic. Sprinkle meat with remaining rosemary, thyme, and salt. Set seasoned lamb on top of bean mixture and roast, uncovered, 2 1/2 to 3 hours (or until meat thermometer says 147 150 degrees).

Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving. Sprinkle with parsley.


A quiet Monday morning without plans or expectations and I spent the time cooking and reading in the kitchen. First I made lamb stew and let it simmer slowly the whole morning, then I put a berry cobbler in the oven with those berries I picked last summer and have kept in the freezer, and just before noon I filled the oven with potatoes- they will be ready when we are ready for them later. I am yet to be convinced that this isn’t as close to a religious experience as anyone has ever had. I guess I’m asking, “Why can’t this be it? Why all the fuss and bother and misunderstanding?”

. . . . .

a tiny bit of what I read: The man who had one talent in the parable was nearer perfection than the man who had five because his talent was growing through interest. Perfectionism means simply living up to the measure of light that is given, (our one talent), and if we are faithful to that, we shall be given more…The divine Light is a principle of growth. 

and also: For the quietest, worship requires a passive as well as an active phase, a negative as well as a positive way…..The Quaker quietists were far from quiet once they were assured of the right word or deed. Their period of withdrawal was followed by a return to activity with an increase of insight and power….This flowering (around the year 1740) was not characterized by any outburst of literary or artistic production. Its whole emphasis was on life itself in home, meeting, and community. This life was an artistic creation [that was] as beautiful [as art].

. . . . .

Recipe for Berry Cobbler, serves 6 to 8: (the “no stirring” part is brilliant)

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 cups berries

1/2 cup sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour melted butter into a 2-quart shallow casserole and coat bottom.

In a mixing bowl, combine milk, 1 cup of sugar, flour, and baking powder. Stir until blended (batter will be lumpy). Pour over melted butter. Do not stir.

Arrange fruit over top. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of sugar. Do not stir.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until top is golden.  Serve hot, room temperature, or cold, with vanilla ice cream.

. . . . .

To be honest, as nice as the morning was, in the afternoon I worried instead about all I still had to do and all I hadn’t done. Then the girls came home and I was too busy to worry. Harriet came in and announced her day was awful- she had taken state tests all day. Because of the testing there was no homework; she got to go to the barn with Billy instead and fix a door. So things are getting done.

peach pie

I had one of those days- busy all day and I didn’t do a single thing worth writing about. If you want to hear about how I bought socks, you are out of luck because it was boring enough for me the first time.

. . . . . .

Years and years ago I worked for a florist, taking care of his gardens for him. It was lonely because the real work was happening in the house with exotic flowers shipped in from far away places. Out in the gardens no one ever walked through, I was largely forgotten.  His retired  next-door neighbors, the Griffins, were amazing gardeners, and out there with me that summer, offering encouragement.  They had known my boss since his childhood and probably had taught him much of what he knew. One late summer afternoon I was invited to have lunch with them en plein aire and served her peach pie for dessert. And because I liked it so much Mrs Griffin gave me the recipe. She wasn’t fussy at all and insisted on making it easy. (I should add here that her vegetable gardens covered three acres) You are supposed to use a pre-made store-bought pie crust. I said something to Mrs Griffin about making a homemade crust and she shrugged and asked why I would do that when the Ritz crust was just fine. This pie is heaven just the way it is.

This is the original recipe, so if you have issues with gluten as I do you’ll have to make adjustments.

Mrs Griffin’s Peach Pie

5 cups sliced peaches (about six peaches)- I like the slices to be rather large so mostly I cut them in half or thirds.

1 unbaked 9-inch pastry shell- she used Ritz Deep Dish

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1 egg

Place peaches in pastry shell. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over peaches. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes.