Sunday, February 05, 2023

Friday, June 24, 2022

Powering My Own Home (2)

 In another installment here, also called Powering My Own Home, I introduced my new solar roof and some examples of how its cutting electric use.
Here's a usage chart from TPU, our supplier, for the period from April 2021 to May, 2022. Each bar represents 2 months. As you can see, we use electricity 

Orange Electricity
Blue Drinking Water
Stripes Waste Water
Solid Grey Solid Waste
Dots Storm Water
Electricity charge for the first four periods not showing any orange was -$50, -$128, -$125, and -$17 (after meter change) and then -$28 and -$43 this year. In comparison, our total electricity bill for the five bars that indicate electricity use was $128 !

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A Dozen Puddings


A dozen puddings, all inexpensive, seasonable, and wholesome.
They come from the Home Chat column of a newspaper (not a broadsheet) but I can't find any reference to them to determine just which newspaper. I'm reproducing them here so people can enjoy the food! Given the spelling of some words I would guess it to be of British origin.


Many people seem to find great difficulty in supplying their table with a nice variety of
Inexpensive Wholesome Puddings
Without doubt this is, or should be, the easiest course to arrange and, with a little thought and trouble, an endless variety can be made.
I know houses where, week in and week out, it is a case of 
Sunday                          Tart
Monday                         Rice Pudding
Tuesday                         Currant Roll
Wednesday                    Sago Pudding

"You  can tell the day of the week by the pudding", as one of the children told me.

Three Steamed Puddings

Yankee Pudding.
Required:    One egg and it's weight in butter
                    Breadcrumbs and flour
                    One teaspoonful of carbonate of soda
                    Two Teaspoonfuls of marmalade
                    Two Teaspoonfuls of any jam

Warm the butter until it has just oiled. Beat up the egg and stir it briskly in. Add the flour, crumbs, marmalade, and jam, and mix well.
Next, quickly stir in the carbonate of soda.
Have ready a well-buttered plain mould or basin. Put in the mixture. Twist a piece of buttered paper over the top.
Stand the mould in a steamer or in a saucepan, with boiling water to cover only half-way up the basin, and steam for one and a half hours. Turn out carefully, and serve with jam or sweet sauce.

Treacle Sponge.
Required:    Half a pound of flour
                    Half a teaspoonful of carbonate of soda
                    Three-quarters of an ounce of ground ginger
                    Quarter of a pound of suet
                    One egg
                    One gill of treacle
                    One gill of milk
(A gill is 4 fluid ounces)

Mix together the flour, soda, and ginger. Chop the suet finely and add it. Beat up the egg and mix it into the milk and treacle.
Well grease a pudding basin.
Mix the egg, &c. with the dry ingredients. Pour the mixture into the basin and cover the top with a piece of greased paper.
Stand the basin in a saucepan, with boiling water to come half-way up the basin, and steam for two hours. 
Turn out carefully, and serve with nice sweet sauce.

Marmalade Pudding.
Required:    Half a pound of breadcrumbs
                    Quarter of a pound of suet
                    Two ounces of chopped peel
                    Juice and rind of one lemon
                    Six tablespoonfuls of marmalade
                    One egg
                    Half a gill of milk
                    Marmalade sauce

Chop the suet finely, using some of the crumbs to prevent it from sticking. Mix the crumbs and suet, add the peel and grated lemon rind.
Put the marmalade and lemon juice in a basin, then add the egg and milk and beat and mix well. Add these to the dry ingredients. Well grease a pudding basin. Put in the mixture.
Cover the top with a piece of greased paper. Stand the basin in a saucepan, with boiling water to come half-way up the basin, and steam for two and a half hours. 
Take off the greased paper, turn the pudding onto a hot dish. Sprinkle a little castor sugar onto the top and pour the marmalade sauce around it.

Three Baked Puddings

Date Pudding.
Required:    Six stale sponge cakes
                    Four ounces of dates
                    One ounce and a half of castor sugar
                    The grated rind of one lemon
                    Two eggs
                    Milk to soak cakes

Soak the cakes in enough milk to moisten them. Stone the dates and cut them into strips. Beat up the cakes with a fork, add the dates and lemon rind and the eggs after well beating them.
Slightly butter a pie-dish, pour in the mixture. Bake in a moderate oven for about half an hour.
If you wish to make a more dainty-looking dish, whip the whites of two or three eggs to a very stiff froth, flavour with vanilla and castor sugar, and heap on the pudding. Put it back in the oven, in a very cool part, until it is a very pale brown.
If liked, sprinkle over the top with pink sugar or "hundreds and thousands".

Baked Chocolate Pudding.
Required:    One pint of milk
                    Two eggs and one extra yolk
                    Two tablespoons of chocolate
                    One tablespoon of cornflour
                    Two tablespoons of castor sugar
                    Half a teaspoonful of vanilla

Chop the chocolate up small. Boil it until smooth in a quarter of a pint of milk. Mix the cornflour smoothly and thinly with two tablespoonfuls of milk, add the rest of the milk to the chocolate, stirring until it boils. Draw it aside to cool. Separate the whites and yolks of the eggs. Beat up the yolks and, when the mixture of milk and chocolate is a little cold, add them to it. Stir well. Flavour with the vanilla. Pour all into a buttered piedish.
Beat the whites to a very stiff froth; add the sugar lightly. Heap this over the top of the pudding. Bake very slowly until a pale biscuit colour. Serve immediately.

Semolina Pudding.
Required:    Two ounces of semolina
                    One egg
                    One pint of milk
                    One ounce of sugar

Rinse out a clean pan with cold water.; this helps to prevent the milk burning. Now pour in the milk. When it boils sprinkle in the Semolina. Stir all the time until it becomes thick, then simmer for six minutes. Let it cool.
Grease a piedish; separate the white and yolk of the egg.
When the contents of the pan are cool enough, stir in the sugar and the yolk of the egg. If the mixture is too hot then the egg will curdle.
Next, beat the white of the egg to a stiff froth.
Pour the semolina into the piedish and stir the white of egg lightly in.
Bake in a moderate oven until a very pale brown. Serve immediately.

Two Boiled Puddings

Lemon Dumplings.
Required:    Half a pound of crumbs
                    Quarter of a pound of suet, chopped
                    Quarter of a pound of Demerara sugar
                    Two lemons, skinned
                    One egg
                    Quarter of a pint of milk

Well-butter some small cups. Mix the chopped suet with the crumbs, sugar, and grated lemon rind.
Beat up and add the egg, also the strained lemon juice and milk.
Fill the cups quite full and tie small scalded and floured cloths over the [top ?] of each.
Put the cups into fast-boiling water and boil for an hour.
Remove the cloths and turn out the puddings onto a hot dish.
Dredge with a little castor sugar, and serve plain or with any sweet sauce.

Rhubarb Pudding.
Required:    Half a pound of suet crust
                    Three ounces of sugar
                    A bundle or more of rhubarb
                    A little water

Grease a pudding basin, cut off one third of the pastry and put it on one side for the lid. 
Roll out the rest until it is just large enough to line the basin, and press it to the sides. Wipe and trim the rhubarb; cut it into pieces about an inch long, half-fill the basin, put in the sugar, the rest of the rhubarb, and, if necessary, a little water.
Roll out the pastry for the lid till the size of the top of the basin, brush the edges with a little water; put on the top, pressing the edges well together.
With a knife press the edges of the pastry slightly from the top of the basin. Dip a pudding cloth in boiling water, flour it well, shaking off any flour that will not stick to it. Tie it securely over the basin, making a pleat across the top to allow room for the pudding to swell. 
Put it in a pan of boiling water and boil steadily for two hours, then take off the cloth, turn onto a hot dish, and serve.

Four Cold Sweets

Normandy, Pippins and Cream.
Required:    One pound of Normandy Pippins
                    One quart of water
                    A pound of castor sugar
                    One lemon
                    Quarter of a teaspoonful of cinnamon
                    Quarter of a teaspoonful of ground ginger

Well wash the pippins; put them in a basin with the water and let them stand overnight. Next day put the apples and water in a pan with half the sugar, the lemon, cut into slices, and the spice. Let all boil gently until the fruit is half-done; then add the rest of the sugar and simmer gently until the apples are tender. A little cochineal put in the water greatly improves the colour.
Arrange the apples in a glass dish, pour over the syrup; just before serving fill in the centre of each apple with cream which has been whipped until it will hang on the whisk, and flavour with vanilla and castor sugar. 

Banana Trifle.
Required:    Six bananas
                    One orange
                    Six penny sponge-cakes
                    Strawberry jam
                    Half a pint of good custard
                    Half a pint of cream
                    Half an ounce of pistachio nuts

Peel the bananas and cut them into quarters lengthways. Slice the cakes thinly and spread each piece with some jam. 
Peel the orange and lemon and cut into small dice, taking out all the pips.
Grate the lemon rind. Put a layer of the cakes into the glass dish; put on them a spoonful or two of good custard. Next put a layer of bananas and a few pieces of orange and lemon rind. Continue these until the dish is nicely filled up. 
Pour over the rest of the custard. Whip the cream and heap it all over the top. Shell and shred the pistachio nuts, and stick them in rows over the cream.
Serve as cold as possible. tor sugar. 

Stone Cream.
Required:    Three-quarters of an ounce of French gelatine
                    One gill of hot water
                    The grated rind of one lemon
                    Two ounces of castor sugar
                    Either a glass of sherry or one tablespoon or vanilla or brandy
                    Half a pint of thick cream
                    Stewed fruit or jam

Put the water and gelatine in a pan over the fire, and stir until the latter dissolves, then add the lemon rind, sugar, and flavouring.
Whisk the cream until firm. When the gelatine feels warm to your finger, strain it into the whipped cream. Mix well. Put a thick layer of jam or fruit at the bottom of a glass dish. Then pour the cream smoothly over. Leave till cold. Decorate with crystallised fruit or little heaps of red-currant jelly.

Chocolate Sponge.
Required:    Three ounces of good chocolate
                    A little vanilla
                    Four whites of eggs
                    Half a tin of pine pple
                    Two tablespoonfuls of water

Cut the chocolate up small. Put it and the water in a small saucepan, and stir over the fire till it is all melted and free from lumps. Add a few drops of vanilla, and let it cool while you beat up the whites of eggs to a very stiff froth.
When this is done mix in lightly, but thoroughly, the chocolate; heap up roughly in a pretty dish.
Remove the "eyes" from the pineapple, and cut it into neat squares. Put a border of these all around the "sponge," and serve at once

21st March, 1903
Bon Appetit


Monday, January 17, 2022

Cheese Sauce for Pasta

This receipe was originally borrowed from a site called "A Couple Cooks" and adapted to the food I was serving. ( ) The pasta involved in my case was Pelmeni, which is Russian in origin and can be found with a variety of fillings. I can get it from the local European Delicatessen and really like the tastes. You can eat it with tomato sauces, but they tend to overwhelm the taste of the filling, so I've started using this instead.


  1. 1 pound pasta noodles of any shape: pelmeni, spaghetti, bucatini, penne, riagotni, cavatappi, etc.
  2. 2 tablespoons salted butter
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  4. 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  5. 3 cups milk
  6. ½ teaspoon salt
  7. ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese


    Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is just al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside; usually around 7 to 8 minutes). Drain.

    Meanwhile, measure out all ingredients in advance; the cooking process happens fast!

    Right after you add the pasta to the pot, start the sauce: In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the grated garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant but not browned.

    Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute to 90 seconds, until bubbly and golden. Do not overcook it: the flour can turn brown within a few seconds. Keep an eye on it!

    Add a splash of milk and whisk it in: the sauce will instantly turn chunky. Constantly whisking, continue to add splashes of milk and whisk them in until the entire quantity is incorporated and the sauce is smooth.

    Reduce the heat and whisk until the sauce thickens and no longer tastes like raw flour, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and Parmesan cheese. Taste and add a pinch or two more salt if desired.

    Drain the pasta, then add the sauce. Add a splash or two of milk to loosen the sauce and stir until you have the right consistency. Taste and a few more pinches of salt, if necessary. (The sauce is best freshly made, so we don’t recommend making it in advance). Serve with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

    ------------------- Bon Appetit ! -------------------

    Sunday, January 16, 2022

    Beans from The Questing Feast

    A person who I got to know died very recently - so I never really got to make friends with her. She was a potter, gardener, and author of cookery books, amongst other things - all the ingredients seemingly designed to make me befriend someone!

    This is from her daughter, who exhibits many of the same wonderful characteristics.

    Hurrah!!! Dried, fresh, any old way, they are damn good, and a mainstay of large portions of the world's population. I couldn't possibly even begin to do justice to the myriad means of preparation possible for the bean. Even an authoritative and comprehensive listing of the varieties would occupy more space than I wish to use.
    A few years back I owned a small bar in the wilds of deepest Berkeley. It didn't take me long to go gloriously broke, as the majority of such ventures do, but as a result I met Earl. Earl was a fine cornet player. It had been his long standing dream to own his own New Orleans jazz club. And since it is well known that fools always rush in where the proverbial angels fear to tread, we became partners in what was also slated to be a somewhat less than successful business venture, but it was one hell of a lot of fun while it lasted. 
    We bought out an establishment that was just oozing with Victoriana, a particular passion of mine. It was grand from the carved back bar to the crystal chandeliers and Tiffany shades. It was absolutely gorgeous; and I got to wear my heart's desire, a skin-tight black brocade Victorian gown with a feather boa. I was in seventh heaven. Our band was grand. We were fortunate enough to pick up some of the fine musicians who had been at loose ends since Bob Scobey of San Francisco jazz fame died. 
    And we served red beans and rice. Not just any red beans and rice, but the Red Beans and Rice, or so tradition said. Every major name in traditional jazz history was supposed to have had a hand at the gradual growth and development of that tasty dish, from Lew Waters and Scobey, all the way back to its cleans roots of none less than Louis Armstrong's mother- Through the years it has come to pass that no jazz musician worth his salt can hit a clear note without a good bate of red beans and rice under his belt. Now, you must remember that, as with all folk processes, the validity of this story may be interpreted by the individual. 
    And here, for all who would rather fox trot than jerk—or whatever they call it these days—for those who prefer the sweet syncopation of a clarinet to 80-some-odd decibels of a plugged-in gleaming guitar, is 

    New Orleans Red Beans and Rice 

    Choose those nice little red beans or possibly pintos, but not the large kidney beans. Put the beans on to soak overnight. This isn't necessary in the least but it is part of the tradition, and if not done probably anyone who eats thereof will never be able to play a note again. Put the beans on to boil with a bit of salt and oodles of water.
    Meanwhile, take one small—or large, depending on how many musicians and jazz buffs you intend to feed—pork butt and cut into small chunks, none more than 1/2"x1/2"x 2". When the meat has been cut, put a considerable amount of drippings, not oil or butter, but drippins, into a cast iron Dutch oven and heat. Add the diced meat and a lot of chopped garlic. Toss until the meat is well braised. Reduce heat and add several chopped onions, a lot of chopped celery, a bell pepper cut into strips, and a can of well-drained okra. Toss about until all is evenly coated with the drippings. Try not to eat up all the braised meat while you're making the preparations. 
    Add a good splash of red wine and, of course, have a little yourself. Chop 6 or 8 ripe tomatoes and add to the pot with a cup of very rich stock. Stir well and taste. Add salt and pepper as needed. Chop up about a fist full of garlic to add. Now add as many sliced fresh mushrooms as you feel you can afford and a rather large pinch of pickling spice, including one of the whole red peppers and an extra bay leaf. Add a bit of sugar. A bunch of parsley chopped fine would not be amiss, as well as another good splash of wine, and why not have a wee bit more yourself. 
    Put on the lid and let it simmer for about three hours like for a good spaghetti sauce. Note that if you use canned okra instead of fresh, you may want to add the okra during the last hour of cooking. 
    Turn off the beans when they are tender and let them sit in their water to plump.
    During the last hour before serving, steam some rice. Drain the beans and save the liquid. (Bean broth soup is very good.) Add the beans to the pot of sauce. Put the fluffy rice on a large deep platter, make a well in the center of it. Pile the bean mixture in the middle, and serve forth piping hot, with crusty corn bread and cooked greens and sweet, sweet jazz. 
    ~Dana speaks:
    My Nana, born in St. Louis, Missouri, made red beans and rice of that style. It was made on a Monday, but preparations began on Sunday. After Sunday Dinner, which was set to table about 2 in the afternoon and lasted a couple of hours ("dinner" being the main meal of the day, not to be confused with "supper," a light evening meal), a big pot of small red beans would be set to soak overnight. The ham bone would be put in a stock pot with a large round onion and a good handful of garlic teeth, all finely chopped. Some bay, rosemary, chopped celery, and Hawaiian chili peppers also would be tossed in. This would simmer most of the night. In the morning, the beans would be set to simmer until tender. They would then be drained and added to the stock pot. While they were simmering, the pork butt would be cut into  1"x1"x1" chunks, and braised in a skillet of drippins. When the beans were just tender, the meat and  a couple of cans of stewed tomatoes were added and they were cooked a bit more. Then the contents of the stock pot were stirred into the beans. The ham bone went to the dogs. In Nana's house, the rice always was served separately. You put rice in a bowl, and then ladled the red beans over it.
    I guess everyone must have his or her favorite starchy or otherwise solid and rib-sticking salad that is easily amenable to being carted about the countryside to picnics, ball games, church socials, school potlucks, etc. It should be able to withstand a variety of temperatures and long waiting in the back of a station wagon or VW bus before being served, and it must still be good despite the fact that a sizable quantity of sand has been kicked into it and the volley ball landed in it once. It must also go well with deviled eggs, canned black olives, chicken salad sandwiches (even if they were sat on), lukewarm beer, and watermelon. It should taste equally good eaten off a paper plate or out of a tin Sierra Club cup," and it should be of a consistency that will allow you to eat quantities of it quickly with a flimsy plastic. A combination bean salad nicely meets all these criteria.
    I don't like to use canned beans (too expensive), but they will make an ok version  of the following recipe.

    Combination Bean Salad 

    Use any combination of beans you like—kidney, tiny black, large lima, garbanzo, pink, pinto, etc. I also like to add green stringbeans and yellow wax beans if they are available. Cook each kind of bean separately, for they each have a character of their own and ask for different cooking times. When they are tender but not mushy, drain and rinse. Be sure to save the cooking water for soup. The green and yellow beans should be cooked to still be quite crisp and fresh tasting, not all sog. 
    Put all the beans into a large bowl that will allow more room for tossing. Add a large quantity of minced purple onion, a good amount of chopped celery (this shouldn't be too large, but it should definitely be distinguishable), and some shoestrings of bell pepper. Over this sprinkle a big splash of a very zesty dressing or marinade. I like to use something like the following.


    In a quart jar mix equal amounts of olive oil and vinegar. Add a lot of very finely minced garlic (AT LEAST 3 or 4 teeth for each cup of liquid), a bit of sugar, a splash of white wine, salt and pepper to taste, and your choice of good herbs. I add about a teaspoon of celery seeds, a bit of dry mustard, and some horseradish. Shake all vigorously for a bit and then pour over the beans. Toss gently and refrigerate. I prefer to never serve this salad unless it is at least twenty-four hours old. Stir it occasionally to keep the marinade from settling to the bottom. 
    This is a fine salad to take on a picnic and goes well with the ubiquitous barbecue. 
    I do love a good barbecue, but I guess my idea about this method of cooking is quite different from most people's. 
    I enjoy squatting by a pile of glowing coals when out in the wild and woolly, carefully turning the chepati on its flat, heated stone. The smells that arise from the blackened pot, the savory taste of that sizzling pungent stew, perchance containing a bit of game as you accompany it on its way with soft,  warm chunks of the flat bread and cups of hot strong coffee, and the songs: on nights like this the greatest of recording stars couldn't hold a candle to us. 
    Or a fine shish-kebob: tender chunks of lamb, well marinated and threaded on a skewer, then held over the coals till just right and eaten while yet so hot your tongue is quite blistered—and that can only be repaired with good cool beer. Shish is perhaps barbecuing at its best. . . well, if you forget about freshly grilled lake trout, caught at dawn in a chill Sierra lake, wrapped in bacon, cooked to a delicate crispness, and consumed with hot and heady sourdough biscuits and of course, the elixir of that battered pot. But somehow, the magic of outdoor cookery is totally lost for me when it is accomplished with an electric charcoal starter in a chrome-plated, enamel-decorated, rotisserie-operated $129.97 special, complete with matching fireproof gauntlet. All this to produce hamburgers? I would much rather use Puff. I spent $400 on a professional piece of kitchen equipment and I'll be damned if I am going to forsake it for a decorator-colored, cast-aluminum bubble precariously balanced on a tripod. 
    Bush beans and pole beans, wax beans, Italian beans, broad beans, all the myriad fresh beans are wonderful, cooked just about any way you can name except dead. And totally dead, murdered even, is how this poor legume was wont to be served until very recently. I prefer all these fine tasties cooked lightly, with oodles of garlic, a bit of bacon, and salt and pepper. 

    Or with a bit of olive oil and basil. But never, never ever kill them. Let them give you their light, crisp, personable selves. They will be a delightful addition to any meal. Well, probably you wouldn't want to serve them at a ladies' luncheon along with the meringue syllabub.

    Enjoy !!

    Sunday, October 03, 2021

     Pasta and a Meat Sauce


    1Onion, chopped
    1 tbspOlive Oil
    1 lb90% Lean Ground Beef
    1small green bell pepper, diced
    28 oxDiced Tomatoes
    4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
    16 ozTomato Sauce
    8 ozTomato Paste
    2 tbspOregano
    1 tspSalt 
    1/2 tspGround Black Pepper
    2 tspBasil
    11/2 cups Beef Broth


    Combine ground beef, onion, garlic, 
    and (green) pepper in a large saucepan. 

    Cook and stir until meat is brown and vegetables are tender. Drain grease.

    Stir diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste into the pan. 
    Season with oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. 

    Simmer spaghetti sauce for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

    After the sauce has started simmering, start a pot of water, lightly salted, on high heat to get it to boiling. Once there turn it down enough to keep it bubbling.

    Then take your pasta, prepare it if needed, and add it to the boiling water. Follow the cooking instructions for the pasta, trying to time it to be ready a little before the sauce.

    Bueno Appetito !!

    Thursday, September 23, 2021

    Pasta and Meat!!

    Meat and Pasta 

    Thanks to Katie Workman ( for this one!

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 1 pound fresh pork sausage squeezed from the casing
    • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
    • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
    • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil
    • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    • Big glug or two of red or white wine if you have a bottle open 
    • 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes preferably in puree
    • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional

    • In a large saucepot, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add both the ground beef and the sausage together and cook, stirring frequently, and breaking up the meat so that it’s very crumbly and browned throughout, about 4 to 6 minutes.  Turn it into a strainer and let it the fat drain off.
    • Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the same pot over medium heat (don’t clean it!  All those little bits of flavor from the meat will season the sauce). Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, oregano and basil and cook, stirring for 2 more minutes, until you can smell the garlic and herbs. Add the wine, if using, and stir for one more minute, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom, until the wine pretty much evaporates.
    • Add the canned tomatoes and red pepper flakes if using, and stir to combine everything.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Add the browned meat, lower the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.  Taste, and season gently with the salt and pepper (the sausages provide a whole lot of seasoning). 


     This entry will describe us making crepes. In the meantime there's also a good recipe here: