Tuesday, October 17, 2017

This Pasta Thing #Vegetarian

Okay, on the box, it said to use sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese, but I didn't have any sun-dried tomatoes. Or goat cheese. So we had this:
It's that pasta made from veg, with tomato sauce on, and feta cheese and those toasty onion crispy things you put on green bean casserole.

Pretty darn good, akshully. In the background are pieces of toast that I rubbed with fresh garlic, buttered, and broiled.

Sometimes we play it fast and loose with our makin's.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, October 13, 2017

Quick Country-Fried Steak

This quick and easy country-fried steak is a perfect main dish for any weeknight. Even with a busy schedule, your family dinner can be balanced and healthy.

Quick Country-Fried Steak

(Please click the link above for more information, tips, and photos.)

What You'll Need:

4 beef cubed steaks (1 to 1-1/4 pounds total) pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup vegetable shortening or oil
1 1/2 cups milk

What To Do:

Season the steaks with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

Place buttermilk in a shallow dish. Place 3/4 cup flour in another shallow dish. Dip steaks in buttermilk then in flour, coating completely.

In a large deep skillet, heat shortening over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add steaks and cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through and coating is golden. Drain on a paper towel-lined platter and cover to keep warm.

Add remaining 3 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to skillet. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until flour is browned, stirring constantly. Add milk and stir until gravy thickens. Serve steaks topped with gravy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Blazon Your Fruits

No, this isn't Talk Like A Pirate Day, I've been looking in my heraldry book again.

Edible vegetation was often used in heraldry as a pun on the family name: Apples for Appleton, peas for Pease or pears for Perry, but also sometimes stood for places, pride in productivity, or history.

Apples and pears were nearly always presented hanging, as if still on the tree. Bunches of grapes were usually also shown hanging, but were sometimes inverted.

Sometimes edibles are shown in collections, even in baskets, or in combination with other items. The arms for the Worshipful Company of Brewers features sheaves of barley and also barrels... of what, I wonder...?

Fruits, nuts, sheaves or heads of grain and even root vegetables were all "reasonable and dignified" figures on coats of arms.

"Pineapple", in heraldry, means pine-cone. If you want a *pineapple* pineapple on your shield, you have to ask for an "ananas". Heaven only knows what you have to ask for if you want a banana.

Apparently, "Don't play with your food" is a modern concept.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie will make a nice change to your autumn and winter dessert table. Not too sweet yet it’s full of yummy flavor that will keep your friends and family asking for more.

Recipe By: Kimberly Woods
"The Sweet Potato Pie is a southern tradition that is a thick, creamy and not-too-sweet dessert. The recipe is very simple and quick to make. You can add various spices like cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg to sugar mixture to add a little spicy flavor."

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Mix together mashed sweet potatoes, butter or margarine, and eggs. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, flour, and salt. Mix in spices if desired. Add to sweet potato mixture and stir well.

Mix together buttermilk and baking soda. Add to sweet potato mixture and stir well. Mix in vanilla extract. Pour filling into pastry shell.

Bake in preheated oven for 70 minutes, until set in center.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2017 Allrecipes.com
Printed From Allrecipes.com 8/16/2017

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Purple Peas

So we bought some of these at a farmers market. I think she said they were purple pod peas. I mean, they obviously are purple pod peas, but I think that's what she actually called them. You don't eat the pods.
Shelled out, they look like black-eyed peas, don't they? That's how she said to cook 'em, so we did. We boiled them with a little oil and onion, salted the water when they were tender, and ate 'em with cornbread.

They were good -- very like black-eyed peas, as promised.

With one difference.

First syllable is what you have when the air goes out of a tire.

Second syllable is the opposite of "me."

Third syllable is what knights on horseback jousted with.

Not for me, but for my husband. It might have something to do with his colitis, but we won't be having these again, no matter how pretty the pods are.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, September 29, 2017

Easy Chicken Gumbo

An easy way to make Chicken Gumbo? That’s right. This southern food is a specialty your family can enjoy on any night of the week.

(Please click the link for more information, tips, and photos.)


2 (3-pound) broiler-fryers, cut up
1 quart water
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained
1 (10-ounce) package frozen cut okra
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup finely shredded cabbage

How to Make It

Step 1

Combine chicken, water, chopped celery stalk, salt, and pepper in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer 1 hour or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from broth; cool. Bone chicken, and cut into 1-inch cubes. Strain broth, and return broth to Dutch oven. Discard celery.
Step 2

Add next 4 ingredients to broth; cook over low heat 15 minutes. Add cabbage; cook an additional 5 minutes. Stir in chicken, and bring mixture to a boil. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Late, Local, #Vegetarian

The farmers market is winding down, but we got some good stuff, anyway.

 Local corn. Local summer squash. Local sausage. Store-bought feta cheese.

The squash was one of those with the tough, bumpy skin, so I peeled it, cut it up, and cooked it in the same pan with the sausage. This local sausage is very lean; I may have had to add a little vegan margarine, in fact.

For my friends who keep kosher: Would it be permitted to use, say, pastrami or corned beef (a spicy meat, in other words) AND top it with feta cheese? Can you mix meat and dairy AFTER it's cooked?

Anyway, for those of us who don't have restrictions against it, this was delicious!

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, September 22, 2017

Southern Green Beans with Bacon

Here is a terrific recipe from I Wash You Dry. It's a green bean casserole with a difference. Bacon and almonds toasted in browned butter are added to the beans. This could become a family favorite.

Southern Green Beans with Bacon

(Please click link for photos and additional information.)


4 strips, thick cut bacon
2 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed
3 cups water
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 tbsp Challenge Butter, unsalted
1/3 cup sliced almonds


Cook the bacon in a large dutch oven or pot until crisp then drain on a paper towel lined plate. Cut into pieces.

Reserve the grease and add the beans, water, broth, garlic powder, seasoning salt and pepper to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the beans are tender. 

Drain the beans into a strainer and return the pot to the stove top.
Add the butter and almonds to the pot and cook over medium heat, swirling the pot, until the butter becomes golden brown and gives off a nutty aroma.
Stir the beans and bacon into the butter and heat through, making sure to coat everything with the butter. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Yes, I'm using Allenspeak again. "Panchookies" is what we used to call pancakes. ~whispering~ I still do. ~/whispering~

We don't have them often. Charlie doesn't much care for them, but I get a real craving for them sometimes. I like 'em best with fresh blueberries, but I also like these, which our niece Anna Ruth put us onto.
That's pancakes, any recipe you like, made with vanilla almond milk and with pecans and chocolate chips in. Topped with powdered sugar instead of syrup and a dollop of vegan margarine -- MMMMM.

Yes, I used a real egg, not egg substitute, from the chickens up the road, but egg substitute would be okay, I guess, if you don't have neighborhood chickens. I realize not everybody lives in Mayberry. Or wants to.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, September 15, 2017

Double Crust Chicken Pot Pie

A creamy filling of chicken and vegetables and a flaky crust makes for comfort food at its absolute finest.

(Please click the link for photographs and additional tips from My Recipes.com.)


1/2 cup butter 
2 medium leeks, sliced 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1 (14.5-oz.) can chicken broth 
3 cups chopped cooked chicken 
1 1/2 cups frozen cubed hash browns with onions and peppers 
1 cup matchstick carrots 
1/3 cup chopped fresh at-leaf parsley 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 
1 (17.3-oz.) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed 
1 large egg 


Preheat oven to 375°. 

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add leeks, and sauté 3 minutes. Sprinkle with our; cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients. 

Roll each pastry sheet into a 12- x 10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Fit 1 sheet into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate; spoon chicken mixture into pastry. Place remaining pastry sheet over filling in opposite direction of bottom sheet; fold edges under, and press with tines of a fork, sealing to bottom crust. Whisk together egg and 1 Tbsp. water, and brush over top of pie. 

Bake at 375° on lower oven rack 55 to 60 minutes or until browned. Let stand 15 minutes

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Charlie's Tofu

So I got some Extra-Firm tofu, which I like. I sliced it thick and pressed out some of the liquid. There wasn't much, because it was extra-firm. I sprinkled it with soy sauce, Jane's Crazy Mixed-up Salt, and a little flour. I fried it in a non-stick pan with a thin coating of sesame seed oil.

And Charlie? He did this with it.
Sez he: Not bad, with ketchup.

Sez I: Whatevs.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sour Cream Pound Cake

This is a dessert that appears at many family dinners in the South. Holidays wouldn’t be the same without a pound cake.

Check out this video from Southern Living.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Man-Cooked Meal

I've been busier than a bird-dog lately, and Charlie has been stepping up to the plate in the kitchen (see what I did there?) and cooking.

He makes great soup, and he makes great over-easy eggs. But this is one of his favorite summertime suppertime dishes.

Blue Lake green beans from the farmers market and potatoes (also from the market, if possible). He just boils them in salted water, both together, until the potatoes are soft (about 20 minutes), drains them, and butters them.

Pretty plain fare, but freshness is great seasoning.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Caramel Cake

A moist and sweet tradition, Carmel Cake is a southern staple. This is one of the recipes you will want to keep handy for future family gatherings.

Caramel Cake
From My Recipes.com


1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Caramel Frosting

How to Make It
Step 1
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine sour cream and milk.
Step 2

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

Step 3

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at medium-low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
Step 4

Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and let cool 1 hour or until completely cool.
Step 5

Spread Caramel Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Simple Salad

I may have posted this before, but good stuff bears repeating.

We get our cucumbers from the farmers market, but these tomatoes came from our own vines, which makes 'em extra-special, right?

Blue cheese dressing on top. Mmmmm!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Southern Fried Catfish

While there are many different ways to prepare this, here’s a quick and easy recipe for frying catfish. It’s great served with coleslaw and hush puppies. For additional information, tips, and photos, please see the original recipe here.

Southern Fried Catfish


  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound catfish fillets, cut in strips

  • 1 1/2 cups fine cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay(TM)
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for deep frying


  1. In a small bowl, mix buttermilk, water, salt, and pepper. Pour mixture into a flat pan large enough to hold the fillets. Spread fish in one layer over bottom of pan, turning to coat each side, and set aside to marinate.
  2. In a 2 gallon resealable plastic bag, combine the cornmeal, flour, and seafood seasoning. Add fish to mixture, a few fillets at a time, and tumble gently to coat evenly.
  3. Heat oil in deep fryer to 365 degrees F (185 degrees C).
  4. Deep fry fillets until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Avoid overcrowding so fillets have room to brown properly. Fish should be slightly crisp outside, and moist and flaky inside. Drain on paper towels.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse Eggs

Yeah, so I totally did this, even though we weren't in the path of totality.
That's a fried egg, over easy, with a sausage patty eclipsing it. A round cut-out of toast would have done just as well.

Don't nobody try to tell me us hicks don't know how to have fun.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, August 18, 2017

Cabbage Jambalaya

Jambalaya is unmistakably Southern food at its finest. The fusion of meats and vegetables in one pot creates a scrumptious dish to cook when you’re planning for a few extra friends around the table.

For an easy take on jambalaya, check out this Cabbage Jambalaya recipe from All Recipes.com.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlie's Sausage and Butterbean Soup

Charlie has taken over a lot of the cooking and all of the washing up since I’ve been so busy TCB (taking care of business) and TCM (taking care of Mom). Bless his li’l pea-pickin’ heart! Imma give him a great big squishy hug, right here on the interwebs! {{{{Charlie}}}}

ANYWAY, one day he made this soup. The marvelous Roy Ackerman won’t like it for obviously porkly reasons, but we found it belicious.

That’s butterbeans, onions, carrots, and locally sourced sausage. My, MY, it was tasty!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Charlie's Mess

Charlie has taken over a lot of the cooking and housework since I've been so busy writing and stuff, which I highly appreciate. He was always a good plain cook, and I enjoy what he fixes.

The other day, he cooked up some fresh green beans and pertaters from the farmers market. Then, he said, he decided to throw in the last of the black beans I'd cooked with onions, cumin, and chili powder. We each had a cup, topped with a bit of vegan margarine.

Looks kinda like a mess, but it was GOOD.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"I'll Make Lunch," He Said

When he said, "Okay, it's ready," this is what I came in to find.
So simple, and so good.

Toasted French bread, an egg from our daughter's chickens, over easy (just the way I like it), and cherry tomatoes from our garden fried along with the egg until they were warm and soft.

Yes, that's a Christmas plate. I use them all year, because I like them. They're cheery.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My New Favorite Restaurant, Alas!

It's "alas" because I don't have anybody to eat there with anymore.

I'll 'splain.

My church (yes, I go to church. no, the roof doesn't fall in when I enter) has a group called Food For The Soul, where anybody who wants to can meet once a month for lunch and fellowship. We usually stick to our town, but sometimes we go out of town (a bit) to a place one or more of the members recommend(s).

This month, we went to a hole-in-the-wall place we would never have found, if JD hadn't given us clear directions. The restaurant was behind another building; the sign for it on the road was a piece of cardboard with the name in four-inch letters. The parking lot was rough gravel.

Inside, the decor was plain, but everything was spotless, if a little time-worn.

The food? REAL. By that, I mean it was food I grew up with. Comfort food, every bit of it. Yeah, there was pizza. Yeah, there were hamburgers. But here's what I got.
That's country-fried steak, mashed potatoes with white gravy, and fried green tomatoes. Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about!

In case you don't know, country-fried steak (or chicken-fried steak) is steak that has been tenderized by pounding (or, sometimes, ground beef), breaded and fried and served with white gravy. It should be meltingly tender, and this was.

Time was, Mom and I would have haunted that place like Banquo's ghost. But Mom is on a feeding tube, and will never eat real food again. Alas.

Maybe I can talk Charlie into trying it. Probably not. ~sigh~ Alas.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Our Secret Blueberries

Lookkee what we got.
We thought we weren't going to have any, because the raccoons and birds and turtles and such like marauders were ... well ... marauding, chomping up all the blueberries we planted RIGHT NEXT TO THE PORCH to discourage such ... maraudishment.

They missed these, though, Charlie having cunningly hidden them in the garden. So there is much joy in the Allen house, and many blueberries.

There will be pancakes.

Blueberry Pecan Pancakes

Mix pancake batter
Add blueberries
Also: pecans

Cook. Eat. Repeat.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, July 14, 2017

Grilled Tuna with Charred Corn and Watermelon Salsa

This Grilled Tuna with Charred Corn and Watermelon Salsa recipe is from Fine Cooking, and it looks delicious! Don't take my word for it--click on the link for a photo and for additional information.


2 medium ears corn, husked
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. minced jalapeño
1 small clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt
1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup small-diced seedless watermelon
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallions
2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
4 tuna steaks (about 5 oz. each)


Prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire. Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until the kernels are charred in places and crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Cut the kernels from the cob.

In a medium bowl, combine the lime juice, jalapeño, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Whisk in 2 tsp. of the oil, and season generously with black pepper. Stir in the corn, watermelon, onion, scallions, and basil; set aside.

Brush the tuna with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil, and season generously with salt. Grill until done to your liking, 2 to 3 minutes per side for rare to medium rare. Serve with the salsa.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Nutty Buddies

I have a page on my Marian Allen, Author Lady blog called Recipals, which is a dozen recipes I got from friends. This was the December, 2008 entry. Jessica is the now the mother of our only great-grandchild. 
This treat is probably something Mrs. Brandt would have made for the kids at the Home where Mitch, the main character in my paranormal suspense novel, A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE, grew up.
My terrific granddaughter, Jessica, brought this recipe over and we made it together. Fun AND yum.

Muddy Buddies
  • 9 cups Chex cereal (any variety)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter (do not use soft spreads)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Measure cereal into a very large bowl (or use your largest pot). Heat chocolate chips, peanut butter and margarine in 1 quart saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until melted. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal in bowl. Stir until evenly coated. Pour into a large plastic food-storage bag; add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, July 7, 2017

Semifreddo with Honeyed Peaches

This Semifreddo with Honeyed Peaches recipe comes from Woman's Day. Find nutritional information and more by clicking the link.


8 oz. (about 1 c.) very cold crème fraîche or sour cream
1/4 c. confectioners' sugar
8 oz. very cold heavy cream
1/4 c. shelled unsalted pistachios, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. honey
4 ripe peaches, thinly sliced
1/4 c. small fresh mint leaves


Line an 8 1⁄2"-x-4 1⁄2" loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang on all four sides.

Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the crème fraîche until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar, whisking to combine.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in cream. Increase speed and beat until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.

Fold in pistachios, then transfer to the prepared pan. Freeze until set, at least 4 hours.

Ten minutes before serving, make the peach topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together lime juice and honey. Add peaches and toss to coat. Let sit, tossing occasionally, until peaches begin to release their liquid, at least 5 minutes.

Invert the semifreddo onto a serving platter and remove the plastic. Fold the mint into the peaches, then spoon the mixture and any juices over the semifreddo.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


There are only two of us at home, and sometimes I bake potatoes in the toaster oven (you have to wrap them in foil and turn them every so often), but sometimes I heat up the Real Oven and bake a butt-load of spuds at once.

Then we use the leftovers here and there, but my favorite thing is twice-baked.

Here is the prep.
Cut a potato in half (two, here, 'cause I done TOLE you there's two of us). Scoop its guts out with a spoon and mash it with butter (or vegan margarine) and cheese, salt and (unless you're a pepper-hater like Charlie) pepper. And, yes, you caught me, there is cooked bacon in there BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THAT, RIGHT?

Put the mashed yumminess back into the potato skins. Then you can heat it like that in the oven or toaster oven, you can microwave it, or you can (as I did) squoosh the halves together, rub the skin with butter (margarine), wrap it in foil, and bake it again. TWICE-BAKED, yeah?

VERY yummy.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, June 30, 2017

Tomato and Goat-Cheese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

This Tomato and Goat-Cheese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette recipe is from Martha Stewart, so it has to be a good thing...right? Click on the link for more information.


1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 ounces fresh goat cheese
3 medium tomatoes, cored and sliced crosswise 1 inch thick


In a blender, combine basil, oil, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon water. Blend until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

With dental floss or a warm knife (wiped clean after each slice), thinly slice cheese. Arrange tomatoes and goat cheese on a serving plate; drizzle with dressing to taste. Serve garnished with basil leaves.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What the Heck is This?

My friend Jane and I were talking about saucers and cup plates, as the barista slopped the coffee out of Jane's cup into her saucer. Jane remarked that people used to "saucer their tea" or coffee, pouring from the cup into the saucer so the liquid would cool faster. We each remembered relatives who did that, and we each knew it was an old custom, reaching back at least as far as the Regency Romances we used to (and sometimes still) read.

Then Jane, as she so often does, added another trivia bullet to my Jeopardy arsenal: She said that place settings also had a cup plate, so you could put your cup down without leaving a mess while you drank from the saucer.

Then I thought: Is that what this little dish is?
I picked up about four of these little things when Mom's church cleaned out their kitchen cabinets. I use them for tiny salads, to hold small quantities of prepped ingredients, for hard-boiled eggs, for fruit -- small bits of lots of things. They are, as my grandpa used to say and we all say in his honor, handy little gadgets.

After talking to Jane, I thought they might be cup plates, but my research on cup plates shows them to be made of glass, so I think they're something else. Butter dishes?

Any guesses or, preferably, positive identification?

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, June 23, 2017

Black Forbidden Rice with Shrimp, Peaches, and Snap Peas

Why is black rice "forbidden"? Because in ancient China, the grain was served only to the Emperor. Black rice is called a super food because it's loaded with the antioxidant anthocyanin. If you don't have any black rice available, feel free to substitute white or brown rice in this Black Forbidden Rice with Shrimp, Peaches, and Snap Peas recipe from Health. Click the link for further information.


2 cups black rice (see note)
3 1/2 cups water
1 (1 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons plus 1 tsp grapeseed oil, divided
1 1/4 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
2 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 peaches, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce


1. In medium saucepan, bring rice, water, ginger, and teaspoon salt to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until tender (30 minutes). Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and transfer to a large bowl.

2. Meanwhile, in large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and a pinch each salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until cooked through and opaque (4-5 minutes). Remove shrimp; wipe pan with paper towels.

3. In same pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat. Add snap peas and cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Add peaches and cook 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl with rice.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, remaining 3 tablespoons oil, honey, and soy sauce until smooth; pour dressing over rice mixture, add shrimp, and toss.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lemonade, Regular and Pink

In the throes of the Russia investigation, my fellow old-timers will understand why I'm hesitant to post about anything pink. Nevertheless, I hereby step onto the wild side.

It's nearly summer here in the Midwestern USA, and thoughts turn to refreshing drinks. The Harrison County Fair is about to start, and that means lemonade.

Image courtesy of SweetClipArt
My mother asked me what makes pink lemonade pink, and I didn't know, so I found out. 

First, although I always associate lemonade with the turn of the 18/19th centuries, it's an ancient drink. Lemons, which originated in the Mediterranean area, were squeezed, diluted with water, sugared and cooled for the upper class, who could afford to bring ice down from the mountains. 

By the 17th century, lemonade had made its way to Europe, where it was a popular street vendor product. 

Lemonade came to the USA with European settlers. Where lemons couldn't be had, lemonade could be made with lemon syrup, which could be imported. The temperance movement, during the Victorian era, made lemonade the genteel drink of choice, and it was featured at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. 

In 1872 or 1873, a 15-year-old boy who had run away from home to join the circus, Henry E. Allott, dropped some cinnamon candies into the lemonade he was mixing. The pink lemonade outsold the regular, and has been a staple of the circus concession stand ever since. Red fruit juice is sometimes added by home cooks to get the color, but cinnamon drops originally made the yellow drink pink.

So now we all know.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Blackberry Lime Cream Puffs

This Blackberry Lime Cream Puffs recipe is from CountryLiving. Click the link to learn more about the recipe's contributor, see the finished product, and more.


6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. fresh lime zest, plus more for serving
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt
2 1/2 c. fresh blackberries, divided
1 c. heavy cream
24 (2-inch) store-bought profiterole shells
confectioners’ sugar, for garnish


Whisk cream cheese, sugar, lime zest, vanilla, salt, and 3/4 cup berries on medium speed with a mixer until creamy and berries are broken down, 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high, add cream, and beat until whipped, about 1 minute. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized pastry tip or zip-top bag. Chill 2 hours or up to 1 day.

Snip a hole in the corner of the zip-top bag, if using. Split profiteroles and pipe blackberry filling on bottom halves, dividing evenly. Top with remaining 1 3/4 cups blackberries and lime zest. Sandwich with profiterole tops. Garnish with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Another #Vegan Stir-Fry

Today's grocery day, so we cleaned out the refrigerator. That usually means 1) soup or 2) stir fry or 3) smorgasbord. This time, it was stir-fry.
That's onion, garlic cloves, the last bits of raw broccoli and carrot from a crudités plate, a couple of dry-ish mushrooms, a small, sad zucchini we got at the farmer's market because we felt sorry for it, and leftover rice. Fried it in sesame oil and sprinkled it with Five Spice Powder and soy sauce. I topped mine with Pad Thai sauce, but Charlie didn't.

After I put it on the table, I thought, "Oh! I should have put some cashews in!" So we sprinkled cashews on top and that was great.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, June 9, 2017

Glazed Wings With Butter Lettuce Salad

This Glazed Wings With Butter Lettuce Salad recipe is from RealSimple. Click the link for nutritional information, tips, reviews, and yield.


1/4 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
kosher salt
3 1/2 pounds chicken wings (about 25)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons store-bought pesto
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 head butter lettuce, torn into pieces


Heat grill to medium-low. In a large bowl, combine the preserves, vinegar, ginger, cayenne, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Set aside ¼ cup of the mixture.

Add the chicken wings to the bowl and toss to coat.
Grill chicken, covered, turning occasionally, until cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes, basting with reserved mixture in the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the oil, pesto, and lemon juice.
Divide the lettuce among plates and drizzle with the pesto vinaigrette. Serve with the chicken wings.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Rescuing Leftover Blah #trayf

I made a dish for a cookout, which was a disappointment. The dish, not the cookout. It was potatoes and flat-leaf kale, boiled together and seasoned with salt and vegan margarine. Okay, all you non-vegan/vegetarians, I don't wanna hear it. Most vegan/vegetarian food is goo-ood, but this was kind of blah.

Part of it is that flat-leaf kale doesn't have any body to it, and seems (to me) to be milder in flavor than curly kale. I think pepper would have helped, or replacing the salt with some zesty Mrs. Dash, but Charlie doesn't like pepper and spice, so that was out.

ANYWAY, I had some left.

Since Charlie and I aren't vegetarian, we have some bacon, and I chopped some of that and fried it. When that was nearly done, I added the potatoes and kale and browned them. Meanwhile, I beat a few eggs with milk, salt, and marjoram. Poured that over the potatoes/kale/bacon. I covered it until it was set, then flipped it to brown the other side.
It worked! It was actually delicious!

From now on, though, I'm sticking with the curly kale.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, June 2, 2017

So Simple Cowboy Caviar

The So Simple Cowboy Caviar recipe comes from Food.com. Visit the page for information about the contributor and for reviews, photos, nutrition facts, and tips.


1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar ( flavor of your choice)
1 (16 ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (7 ounce) cans white shoepeg corn, rinsed and drained
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced


In small saucepan, combine oil, sugar and vinegar.
Heat and boil 1 minute and then cool completely.
In large bowl, combine beans, peas, corn, peppers and onions.
Pour vinegar mixture over bean/pepper mixture and mix to thoroughly coat.
Cover and marinate overnight.
Drain for 2-3 hours before serving.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I Ate Three Eggplants In One Sitting and Lived to Tell the Tale

True story.

Okay, first, yeah, the eggplants were tiny. Like teeny tiny. They were literally the size of duck eggs, if they were even that big.

I saw them in the grocery, and I was like, "Oh! Look at those adowaboo li'l eggplants! I gotta get 'em!" #4 daughter was coming to dinner, so I got three. I said to my husband, "I know you don't care for eggplant, but these are so wee, you'll hardly know you're eating one, right?" He's like, "Whatever."

An additional attraction was the stickers they had on them.
Hard to see the name, but the sticker has a dragon on it, and the brand is Asian Pride. Asian Pride Indian Eggplant, product of Mexico. I ask you: Could I resist them? And Echo answers: No.

I cut each eggplant in half, smeared them with olive oil and Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt, and put them in the George Foreman-style Rip-off Grill until they were blackened outside and creamy inside.

This is a wee li'l saucer. I should have put a dime in there,to show scale, but I di'n'.

And -- joy of joys! -- nobody else wanted theirs! Well, Charlie ate half of his, the dear man, but #4 Daughter, although a fan of Indian food, informed me that eggplant isn't a taste she cares for.


Today is the next-to-last day of Story A Day May. Feel free to hop over to my blog and read today's story and, indeed, all the many free stories posted there. You also have my permission to buy as many of my books and story collections you fancy. You're welcome. ;)

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, May 26, 2017

Refreshing Summertime Salad

This Refreshing Summertime Salad is from AllRecipes.com. Visit the page for tips and photos.


4 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 cup diced mango
1/2 cup cubed seeded watermelon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon frozen mango juice concentrate, thawed

Combine the baby greens, mango, watermelon, mint, feta cheese, and minced onion in a mixing bowl. Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, and mango juice concentrate together in a small bowl, and pour over the salad. Toss gently to evenly coat.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2017 Allrecipes.com

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

WHAT Kind of Salad??

I went to a Japanese steakhouse, and my friend ordered seaweed salad. So I did, too. Because I had never had that, and Adventure is my middle name. Actually, my middle name is Lois, but never mind.

It looked like this.
Yes, it really was that green.

How was it? The dressing, a light and delicate sweet-and-sour, was delicious. The seaweed was ... seaweedy. Really chewy, a little bit fishy, with little seeds all in. Not bad, but I'll never order it again, because a little goes a long way, and this was a hella lot of seaweed. Even though the bowl was mostly lettuce with a big hank of seaweed on top, I took half of it home and Charlie couldn't eat that much.

I'm really glad I ordered it and tried it, and I'd eat some again if there was only a couple of bites of it, but I would like it more as a garnish than as a dish.

Have you ever had seaweed salad? What did you think?

I'm still doing Story A Day May, so hop over to my blog and help yourself to some free stories.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes