All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Saturday, April 30, 2011

mad dash to the farmstand

There is nothing quite like the first Saturday at Tenney's farmstand in the Spring. You can hear the cars going by screeching to a halt and turning on their blinkers as soon as they see the plant-laden tables stretched out in front. You bump into neighbors you haven't seen since Halloween, and all of us are giddy with the promise of heading into the garden. A few more weeks before the frost-free date, but for impatient gardeners, grabbing pots of lemon balm and lavender, lemon thyme and Jacob's ladder, as well as pansies and violas, now is the time.

And lording over us all is Sammy the Scottie , toting his rock from person to person, ever hopeful for a quick toss and fetch. Happy Spring!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

easter day coca cola ham and creamy carrot cake

On Easter Day eve, I had resigned myself to spending the next day noodling around in the garden, and missing my very busy darlings, when I got a call from my sweet friend, asking if she and her son could come visit. Thomas had asked if he could visit his “Tanta Katrina”, as usual, on Easter Day, no doubt with that carrot cake in mind – and that gorgeous Easter ham with the Southern-style Coca Cola glaze.
And let's not forget the egg-hunt!
What a blessed day it turned out to be, with the sun shining and the air soft and mild, lots of good eats, and a fairly polite egg hunt, with three boys aged 4, 7, and 12, all somewhat, sort of, allowing the youngest one first dibs on the eggs. And, as usual, the boys heaved a few eggs at the boulders, just because.

To make the ham, I baked a 12 pound ham for 3 hours at 325F, then made the glaze:


1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 cup pineapple juice

2 T. red currant jelly

1 1/2 cups cranberry juice

1 20 oz. bottle of Coca Cola ( not diet)

8 whole cloves

Simmer all the ingredients until the sauce forms a sheet on a wooden spoon. Serve hot, alongside the Easter Ham, in a pitcher, along with roasted asparagus and smashed potatoes and fluffy green salad. I adapted the recipe from Steamy Kitchen's recipe, which was just too sweet.

I hope you had a wonderful Easter Day!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

carrotcake cupcakes - and a four legged surprise

This morning I thought I'd see how my Easter Carrot Cake would look as cupcakes, sooooo, I pulled out my sunny yellow baking bins, where I stash all my pretty papers and doilies and found this mess you see above. A stylish Mrs. Mouse, no doubt, making a cozy new nest for her gazillion babies. This of course led to pulling out everything from under the sink and the neighboring cupboards, where I saw an inch wide gap; obviously, that was how she got in. I duct-taped it, and squirted some of that expandable glop, that looked exactly like whipped cream, and let it dry. Tidying the under-counter boxes: SHRIEK. A large, very fat mouse lept out of one of the boxes. I screamed for my cat, who sashayed in, took a look, and left. Tonight I plan to shut her in the kitchen, and that, I hope, will be that.


Deep breath. The cupcakes came out very nicely, just as moist and tasty as the cake, and I swirled on some of that butter and cream cheese frosting everyone loves. So if cupcakes work better for a gathering this Eastertime, do give them a try.


This makes 9 cupcakes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Arrange cupcake liners in a regularly sized muffin tin.

I shred the carrots using my KitchenAid grater attachment.


2 extra large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil or light olive oil

1 1/3 cups King Arthur flour

1 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cinnamon

1 cup packed finely grated carrots

1/2 cup sweetened coconut

Beat eggs, add the sugar, oil, and dry ingredients and mix well. Add the carrots and coconut and stir, then , using an ice cream scoop, scoop one scoop into each liner.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until tops are firm when gently pressed.

Remove to cooling rack for a few minutes, then remove from muffin tins to cool further.

Let cool completely before frosting!


Cream Cheese frosting with fresh lemon juice:

1 large package cream cheese

1 stick (8 T) unsalted, softened butter

about 2 T. fresh lemon juice

one box of confectioner's sugar

Beat in mixer bowl until creamy, then spoon into a pastry bag and swirl away.

You'll have some left over, which you can freeze for midnight snack attacks.

Happy Easter to all!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

lunch-to-go: chocolate-chip muffins

I'm a lunch on the go, brownbagger from way back, and when I saw Maria's chocolate chip muffins, I got a little gleeful. How perfect are these for a little after lunch treat? They're highly portable, without sticky frosting – and each batch makes a dozen muffins, so you have, oh, maybe enough for 6 days. Make that 3 days, with enough to share. Semi-sweet chips in a vanilla buttermilk batter make for a very tender and tasty muffin – my humble thanks, Maria! To round out my lunch, I slid in a slice of frittata, and a watercress, tomato, and romaine salad with some of the leftover golden beet and brussels sprouts dish I made two days ago mixed in. And on my way out the door, I put my new rosemary plant out on the step – it's finally 50 degrees!

~ To make: Recipe from Two Peas and their Pod
2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 t. baking powder

½ t. salt

1 stick melted unsalted butter ( 8 T)

2 extra large eggs

2/3 cup buttermilk

2 t. vanilla

1 ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 12 muffin tin with paper liners. Place the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt in mixer bowl. In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, melted butter, buttermilk, and vanilla, then add to the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chips and mix briefly. Using a regular sized ice cream scoop , scoop one scoop into each muffin cup. If you don't have an ice cream scoop, just fill with two tablespoons to about 3/4ths. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, remove and cool on rack. This makes 12 regular sized muffins.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

golden beets and mother hen

When my children were small, they could often be picky about what they would or wouldn't eat. Thinking I was being clever, I offered them a smorgasbord for breakfast, packed lunch, or dinner. Of course, I ended up making three different dinners most of the time – not something I would repeat these these days . No Tiger Mother moi! I was more like my very favorite hen in our various flocks of chickens – Old Black Hen, who adored being a mother so much she stole the other hens eggs. When she was very old, on a cold night, she died sitting on those stolen eggs. I digress.


Getting back to the point of this story, I often found a little this, a little that, presented in a pretty and tasty fashion encouraged my children to try new foods – especially if I renamed it. Broccoli was “little trees”. Brussels sprouts morphed into” little cabbages” , especially when french fries and mac and cheese seemed to be the favorite choices year round. When the kids got sick, I made chicken soup and toast fingers, smoothies and cinnamon toast, along with Sleepytime tea. But they did get to try a lot of new herbs and veggies as time went along, and I'm happy to say they both enjoy new foods as young adults.

~ I noticed these gorgeous beets one day at the supermarket, tucked away in a corner, simply glowing, and I had to buy a few to taste. I usually try new vegetables first uncooked, so I can get an image and taste set in my mind. Then, I might saute or steam, or throw into a soup, experimenting. These clearly tasted the best when they were raw and golden – the flavor and color diminished when steamed or sauteed. I tried shredding them into a simple salad with balsamic vinegar ( the real deal, from Modena), a little pepper, and some shards of parmesan cheese ( as with the bok choy salad I made last year, salt and olive oil just made it taste odd, so I skipped it.) This would be such a pretty little addition to any dinner ( or smorgasbord) – the taste is fresh and similar to a parsnip/celery root. Paired with arugula, a few smashed baby potatoes and steak, fish, or chicken, it really is a sparkling salad.

~ The recipe: Well, there isn't really a recipe:) I used one smallish golden beet, washed and peeled or not, trimmed, then shredded on a grater, per person. A handful of arugula per person. About 1 teaspoon Modena balsamic vinegar per serving. Freshly grated pepper Several shards of parmesan cheese, per serving And that's it! What I liked about these beets was not only the taste, but the lack of beet-red hands and bleeding into the arugula – always a problem.

This just in! Inspired by a recipe from Simply Recipes, I made this marvelous brussels sprouts dish that couldn't be simpler.

1 cup peeled, diced golden beets ( large dice)

1 cup trimmed brussels sprouts, cut in half

Simmer the beets and sprouts in a little water until tender.

Drain and add a little chopped fresh rosemary, a tiny bit of butter, and salt and pepper.

That's it!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

homemade macaroons - Revised!

Dear friends - tonight I made a batch of these and they were not the cookies I made before. They stuck to the baking sheet, and were not half as pretty, thanks to the nudging of the spatula! I'm so sorry if you had the same problem. - baking is such an inexact science! Taking a tip from my friend Winnie, who mentioned she never, ever, made these without greasing with Crisco and dusting with flour, my next batch came out just fine. I also reduced the sugar a little. Humble apologies! here is the revised version:

1 package coconut ( about 2 cups) flakes, sweetened

1/2 cup extra coconut flakes

2 large egg whites

3 T. hot water

1/2 cup sugar

pinch of kosher salt

1 T. light corn syrup

1 t. vanilla

Prehat oven to 400F.

Grease two baking sheets with Crisco , then dust with flour.

Place egg whites in mixer bowl and beat until they form soft peaks. Add the coconut flakes to the egg whites and stir briefly.

In a saucepan, stir together the hot water, sugar, salt, and corn syrup, washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Bring to a boil, then remove and add to the egg whites and coconut. Stir briefly, then add the vanilla. Stir in the 1/2 cup extra coconut flakes.

Using a small (1 1/2 inch) ice cream scoop, scoop little balls of the mixture onto the baking sheets.

One sheet at a time, bake the cookies for 12 minutes, then remove to cool. When cool, use a spatula to remove cookies to cooling rack. Enjoy !

Who knew it was so easy to make macaroons? In a half an hour you can mix up a batch , stick them in the oven for 12 minutes, and sit down to the chewy sweetness of these tiny coconut cookies. No butter, no flour, no milk. I think this makes them gluten-free, too - so now I know what to make little Izzie for a snack.


In spite of yesterdays crazy snow squall, the front garden beside the house is finally bare and look! My daffodils are up!

I got this wonderful recipe from Peggy Cullen's "got milk? the cookie book" and it's definitely a winner.