Wednesday, April 27, 2022

My Son Thomas.....Once Again!

 I know, I know. Too much of a good thing kind of gets tiring after a while. But I truly would like to add one more post about my son Thomas and his violin playing.

I am so tickled that he is doing such a tremendous job on the violin. Although his first love is the good, old fashioned double stop jigs of yesteryear, he is excelling very rapidly with his classical training. He is now the proud student of Lynn Brubaker, who is the assistant concert master for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. Thomas loves her and I am very glad for this opportunity, although it bothers me somewhat having someone else assist me in teaching my son the violin. But she has truly been instrumental in his development. 
            Thomases Grandfather

He just also wrapped up his first concert with the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra. Although he didn't care to be in the third row(with questions still lingering as to why he was placed there in the beginning)he absolutely adored being part of a real orchestra and is very excited about joining again in the fall.

His accomplishments keep piling up as well. He is a very proud member of and has learned a great deal from Pierre, not to mention the great comradery of the members who have helped him with his fiddlin'. He has participated in the past Christmas group project  with Pierre as well and looks forward to a long-lasting friendship with everyone on this site. I urge all of you to at least pay a visit and check it out. Here is the link to White Christmas, the group project. Can you spot Thomas?

Thomas has also appeared on television twice as America's ONLY 6th generation violinist, which is the pinnacle of my pride. 

My father, grandfather and so on would be absolutely thrilled that another generation has picked up the violin, especially the same fiddle as his great grandfather once owned. Thomas also has his own youtube channel, with the link here....

I could go on and on but will refrain for the time being. Suffice it to say, I am very proud of this young man and the dedication he has put into his everyday practice, all the while keeping up with his school work and baseball practice. 

                                                       Here is Thomas with his beloved great great aunt Marion.

He will also be attending the MSYM this year. Now get this. Back in 1972, I was with the very first music ensemble at the Maine State Youth Music festival at the same age my son is. He will be doing it exactly 50 years from the day I played with the same group.

Monday, March 14, 2022

St. Paddy's Day Music and Food

    I see that it has been a while since I last posted so I thought I would play a little catch-up here. My 10 year old son Thomas has been keeping me busy for the past number of months with his violin playing and he is certainly keeping the family tradition alive. He is now the sixth generation violinist/fiddler and I could not be more proud. Please visit his channel on youtube to see his progression but I must first apologize to you. I am not one you would call tech/internet savvy so when you see his videos, understand that it was put together(from recording to posting)by me with a lot to be desired, right down to that annoying clicking sound you may faintly hear in some of the videos. I am posting another video today, of Thomas playing that Irish classic Swallowtail Jig, which he has been practicing for a couple of weeks not. Although not professionally played, he is only able to practice this tune twice a day because of his commitment with school, the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra and his private lessons with another teacher. I am using a different recording medium, so that that clicking will be gone. But in the meantime, here are a few great recipes for the Irish in you. (Now to get my oldest boy into the violin, but I think he has things in his life that are more......attractive....then the curves of a violin!)

At 10 years old, not only has he been accepted into the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra as well as being a proud member of the fiddlin' community on fidderman. com. He is believed to be the only 6th generation violinist in America. He is extremely talented and has been featured on several news broadcasts here in Maine and I couldn't be happier. Check his progression out and see for yourself.

Traditional Pan Haggerty

Simple? Yes! Traditional? Yes! But don't let this seemingly mundane dish prevent you from making it. There are so many things I could do to this dish to keep those "food snobs" at bay, but why play with a recipe that has been enjoyed for so long in Ireland? Us Yankees have been enjoying this dish for just as long, but calling it "Scootin' 'Long the Shore". And as much as I would like to add this and that to the recipe, I think you will find this dish perfect all on its' own.

3 slices bacon, diced

1 small onion, peeled and diced

3 large potatoes, about a pound, diced

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup shredded Irish(or cheddar)cheese

Salt and black pepper to taste

Sour cream, if desired

Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add and cook bacon until crisp or to your liking. Remove bacon to crumble or dice and add back into the skillet. Add onion and cook an additional 5-6 minutes, or until onion is soft but not browned. Drain fat and add potatoes and broth. Stir to combine, bring to a boil and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer 8-10 minutes(according to the size of your potato cubes), or until the potatoes are firm, but tender and the liquid has been absorbed. If you still have liquid after potatoes are done, simply increase heat to medium and continue cooking, uncovered, for a few more minutes until liquid has evaporated and absorbed. Preheat broiler and place oven rack at least 3-inches from heat source. Remove skillet from burner, evenly sprinkle cheese over the top and broil until as crisp as you like. Remove to serve immediately. Top with sour cream if desired.

Irish Apple Bread Pudding Pie

This bread pudding is anything but typical. It is beautifully sweetened, less dense and ‘gummy’ than many other equivalent puddings and the sweet, caramelized crust that forms makes you want to just pick it off first then eat the middle later.

Taitneamh a bhaint as!

4 large plain or cinnamon muffins*

4 teaspoons butter or margarine

3 large Granny Smith apples

1 cup apple juice or water

1/4 cup maple syrup

Nonstick cooking spray

3/4 cup milk

3 eggs

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon dried ginger

Slice muffins horizontally about 1-­inch thick. Butter all cut sides and grill over medium heat until well browned. Place on a plate and let cool in refrigerator for an hour, preferably overnight to dry out.

Meanwhile, add 2 apples that have been peeled, cored and diced into a saucepan along with apple juice and maple syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stir, reduce to low and simmer 6­-8 minutes, or until it has thickened and apples are done, but still firm. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Spray a 9­-10 ­inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray liberally; set aside. Preheat oven to 350­ degrees F.

Cut muffins into cubes and add to a bowl along with remainder apple that has been peeled, cored and diced.

In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, juice and grated rind and ginger. Pour over muffin cubes and gently toss to evenly coat. Transfer to prepared cake pan, evening out the top. Spoon cooked apple mixture over the top evenly and bake 40-­45 minutes, or until it is firm when touched in the center with a spoon or fork.

Remove pie to cool slightly before running a dull knife around the edge to loosen. Cut into wedges and serve. 

* Use whatever muffin you desire, I just happened to adore cinnamon but regardless of what you choose, make sure you have 5 cups total after cutting.

 Bailey's Irish Whiskey Cake 

Yes, I already know. There is no such thing as Bailey's Irish Whiskey. This beautifully scented, Irish cake is, however, brought to you by a Bailey and has a hint of Irish Whiskey both in the cake and on 'top'. You can, however, substitute a few drops of rum extract in the milk below or just leave out any hint of alcohol, and its' taste, altogether. The curdled milk is a great way of adding buttermilk flavor without the added expense while giving this upside down cake perfect flavor and moistness.

1/4 cup whole milk, half-and-half or light cream

1/2 cup Irish Apple Whiskey or Irish Apple Liqueur, divided 

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4 cup(1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, divided

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 large, firm apple. peeled, cored and wedged 1/2-inch thick

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

In a small bowl, whisk together milk, 1/4 cup whiskey and lemon juice and let sit 30 minutes to curdle while preparing rest of recipe. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a 9-inch round cake pan over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the brown sugar and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes until smooth and bubbling. Remove pan from heat.

Lay the apple slices on top of melted butter/brown sugar mixture decoratively. Sprinkle the dried cranberries over the top and evenly drizzle remainder of whiskey; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and ground ginger. In another bowl, beat remainder of butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides and add eggs; beating very well. Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour, a little at a time. Beat in the milk mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter over apples and even out top without disturbing the apple arrangement. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle come out clean. Cool cake in the pan for a couple of minutes and then run a knife around the edge of the pan to help release. Invert onto a serving platter or plate quickly and carefully. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Deliciously Cheesy Irish Boxty   

Boxty's are prepared and cooked in many different variations. Some enjoy this 'must have' side to the classic British breakfast puffy and soft, while others enjoy it crispy. Being a Yankee, I enjoy crisp potato with my breakfast, and with the addition of Cheddar cheese, I think you will be making this year round. 

1/2 cup mashed potatoes

1/2 cup shredded raw potatoes

1/2 cup shredded apple

1/2 cup powdered rolled oats *

1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg, salt and black pepper

1/2 cup fat free evaporated milk

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Place all ingredients, except oil and cheese, in a bowl and mix very well; set aside. Place oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, pour half the Boxty mix into the skillet, spreading it out to cover bottom of pan. Evenly sprinkle cheese over the top and pour remaining Boxty mix over the cheese. Again, spreading it out evenly, covering cheese. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and let cook for 6-8 minutes, or until well browned on the underside. Carefully flip over, cover and continue cooking an additional 6-8 minutes, or until browned on bottom as well. Remove from heat, cut into wedges and serve immediately. 

* This works so much better than the usual flour added to Boxty, but each are interchangeable. To make powdered rolled oats, simply place oats in a blender or food processor and pulse until it is in powdered form.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Biscuits and Molasses......remember?

    Although I like to think I am not that old, I am old enough to remember my father enjoying a side dish of molasses with his biscuits. Whether it was for breakfast, lunch or dinner, I don't recall there was ever a time when he didn't have a small bowl of that quintessential dish of molasses to spoon over each bite of buttered biscuit. He would split them in half, lather real butter on top and drizzle this sweet, dark, thick syrup at each mouthful. 

    And his biscuits were amazing! Fluffy on the inside and a mm layer or brown crispness on top. Why wouldn't he just dip the biscuit in the molasses instead of spooning? If you make a biscuit correctly, you will know that they are drier than yeast rolls or other types of baked breads, as they should be. They should let loose some crumbs ever time you bite them or slice them. Now many of you will cringe at the thought of eating both together. Many of you grew up with simple butter or maple syrup as additions to biscuits. There is something about mixing salty and sweet together that continues to be taunting us. 

    Now his biscuits weren't your run of the mill either. He always used buttemilk and half the time, he didn't have it on hand, so he would take the amount of whole milk called for in his recipe and add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and set it aside. After a couple of hours, it had separated into curds and whey. These lumps of soured milk and the whey at the bottom were each added to the mix and the result was an amazingly flavorful biscuit that I continue to make today. Not only does this clotted milk add flavor but it hepls immensely in the rising of the biscuit when working in conjunction with baking powder. So without talking on and on as a true Yankee, let me give you his recipe.

Real New England Biscuits

Makes 6(3-inch)biscuits

1 1/3 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons butter or margarine

    Stir milk and vinegar in a bowl and set aside until it curdles, with visible lumps floating on top. This will take about an hour or two, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Obviously the warmer the environment, the quicker it will turn into curds and whey.

    When ready, preheat oven to 375-degrees F. blend flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Using a sturdy fork or your fingertips, crush the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles half the size of peas. Add soured milk and thoroughly mix until dough is mixed well. There will be lumps, which is perfectly normal. 

    Liberally flour your work surface and transfer dough to surface, Need only a couple times and press out until about 1 1/2-2-inches in thickness. I use a 3-inch cutter or mouth of a cup to cut out biscuits but you can cut them any size you want.

    Place cut biscuits on an ungreased pan and reshape dough in order to cut a couple more biscuits, kneading as little as possible in order to hold together. 
Once on pan, brush(or use your fingertips)milk, half and half or cream on top of each biscuit and bake 30-32 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. No need to check inside, they will be thoroughly cooked. 

    Remove from oven and immediately brush with melted butter or grab a stick of butter, pull some paper from the end and run it on top of each hot biscuit liberally. Set aside for a minute or two and enjoy. 

And don't forget the molasses!

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Thomases Progress

 Here is Thomas playing a selection of music that encompasses third position, which is hard in itself. But what I found out what was even harder for him to learn was vibrato. I never gave it much thought, but I can imagine it is difficult for a 10 year old, but he is doing fantastic! Hope you think so as well. Now I do want to say that I used my laptop to live feed it to facebook. Yes...I am still a dinosaur when it comes to anything tech related. So you will notice his bow strokes don't match the actual audio, being a second behind. For that, all I can do is apologize.

Monday, September 27, 2021

WOW!!! Over two months and not one single post.....


     I don't remember the last time I took so long to post something on this blog. Marketing professionals always tell me to post something at least once a week to keep your audience coming back, but you know something? I think family is much more important than audiences! That is why I got rid of my cell phone years ago, reverting to a simple landline WITHOUT an answering machine. As growing up, if someone wants to contact me and talk, they call and if I don't answer.....they call back. Life is much less stressful when you take control of your own life and do as you see appropriate. And my anxiety and stress levels have never been lower, which means my life is full and much more robust.

     Anyway, the past few months have been spending time with my 10 year old in a host of things, from sports, schooling, horse back riding and violin. He has been playing for a year and a half and finally is with the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra program, which he is very excited about. Although he has now joined the school band, he is not learning anything BUT is spending time with his friends during the practice sessions and it seems to have worked, keeping his interest high. He is the last of this generation to keep violin going and I couldn't be more proud. Five generations...think about that!

     I have also been working on my first nonfiction and just completed another book, on sale now on amazon here.

A simple, low content journal in time for the Holidays. It comes in both paperback and hard cover and is a keepsake to hand down throughout your family for generations to come so that they can refect on all the Holidays you enjoyed any given year. This is a 2 year journal and comes with tips, hacks and ideas to make those special days even more special. 

     Now I wouldn't be a true Yankee Chef if I didn't add a couple of my all-time favorite, fall recipes so here is my #! and #2 favorite recipes for this time of year. Enjoy and I will not wait so long again to write.

5-Minute Indian Pudding-Two Ways  

     The original Hasty Pudding, or Indian Pudding, is probably the very first dessert ever made on New England shores by our European ancestors. Don’t listen to other so called culinary historians when they note that Indian Pudding should be baked in order to be classic. This is entirely untrue! This New England dessert was made in a “great kettle” over the open fire. Eggs were not wasted in this pudding originally, and are not needed now. When eggs are added, then Indian Pudding should be baked, creating a firmer textured preparation.

     This recipe is perfectly spiced as our Yankee ancestors prepared, but with a little cranberry tartness added. By letting this 'hasty pudding' chill in the refrigerator, the dried cranberries absorb the liquid, making them soft, tender and super flavorful.

2 cups milk                                                                                        

1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins, optional

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon                                                                  

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup sugar(optional but recommended)

3 tablespoons butter or margarine                                                  

1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg and dried ginger                                                               

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal

1 tablespoon vanilla                                                                   

Vanilla ice cream or heavy cream if desired

Place first 7 ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well. Place over medium high heat, stirring once or twice to prevent milk from scorching. Once milk mixture is scalding hot, and while constantly stirring with one hand, slowly pour the cornmeal into milk. Once added, reduce temperature to low and constantly stir for 2 minutes. It will thicken substantially.

Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and serve hot with vanilla ice cream melting over the top or cover and refrigerate until completely cold. Serve as is or with a dab of heavy cream over the top.

Makes about 3 servings or if your’e a Yankee….less

To make Baked Indian Pudding, double the amounts above, but use 1/2 cup cornmeal and simply allow stove top Indian Pudding to cool 10 minutes before slowly adding 2 beaten eggs. Pour into a greased 10-inch greased cake or pie pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 300-degrees F, or until the center is just firm.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

     I hate to start with the oven being turned on now. It just doesn't seem possible that both spring and summer has come and almost gone. I remember my father saying that HIS father used to repeat "Maine has 2 seasons. Winter and August". It is almost true. So sitting down to a great tasting New England coffee cake is a feel good snack or dessert. Even a husband can make this delightful cake.

1/3 c. brown sugar
3 T. flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
2 T. butter or margarine, melted
Nonstick cooking spray
2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/4 c. butter or margarine, melted
3/4 c. milk
2 eggs
1 T. lemon juice
1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Grease an 8-9-inch square baking pan or cake pan liberally with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

In a small bowl, blend together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add melted butter and stir until flour mixture is entirely moist; set aside.

In a large bowl, place all cake ingredients at once, except blueberries, and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Fold in blueberries. Pour batter in prepared pan and evenly sprinkle crumb topping over the top. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and the cake bounces back when touched in the middle. Use a toothpick if needed to make sure it comes out clean. Remove from oven to cool slightly before cutting to serve.


Sunday, July 4, 2021

Where Has All The Music Gone?


My grandfather and father.

Although the internet and anything related to this unseen world has taken over the worlds interest and hobby enjoyment, there is one extra curricular activity that has been the hardest hit....musical instrument interest!

     When my grandfather was a child, back in the first decade of the 20th century, there  was little else but imagination  that fed a childs hunger for excitement. Playing an instrument was a luxury because of the cost. Jump ahead to the early 1940s, when my father was a child, purchasing a violin, for example, became easier because wealth had increased and instrument costs were lower because of the supply and demand aspect.

     Now taking a leap to my childhood in the late 60s and purchasing a violin was even cheaper and many more kids my age was in an orchestra or band. I was proud to show off my musicianship to neighborhood friends and family. I had the luxury of my father teaching me at home and having the two finest teachers of violin as my teachers at school, Mrs. Lyndz and Marion McKenney. With my grandfather Samuel having graduated from the Boston Conservatory and my father attending the conservatory in Bangor, Maine, I had the distinct privilege of wise instruction from the age of 5 years.

     Now here we are in the 2020s, with my 10 year old son Thomas being the fourth generation to pick up the same violin and he is at a brick wall. I have been teaching him for over a year now and it is getting more and more difficult to keep him interested. Sure, I(as a parent)control his time in front of the computer or game system but the issue that is facing him, as with so many other kids today is keeping them interested beyond the home. None of his friends play the violin, the school he attends has no orchestra program, even when he enrolls in high school!

     So I have looked outside the box, to the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra. But even this ancient organization is severely lacking in offering something that would keep children involved musically. And this is such a shame. He does belong to this group and has even participated in a virtual session, which has yet to be put together by those in charge. It truly is heartbreaking to think at any given moment, Thomas will lose interest even before he becomes fully aware of his potential. I will never forget the thrill I received when the telephone rang one day when I was 9. My mother answered, her face and demeanor lit up while she was speaking with someone on the other end and burst out with joy after hanging up the receiver. I was invited to play with an orchestra of teens at the University of Orono, Maine that summer as a first chair violinist. Even I was ecstatic. 

     It is sad to think what our youth is going to be like without the opportunity to indulge in music at the level of past generations. I would love to hear methods, stories, ideas or gimmicks from those of you who are experiencing the same thing but have found a way to keep our kids curiosity and motivation piqued.

Monday, April 26, 2021

I Just Don't Know.....

 For the past few months, I have been getting a slew of correspondence emails from IONOS, the platform that is on and they are telling me about this virus and that attack on my website, potentially exposing not only my banking information, but the addresses of all those who subscribe. And I do not believe it is going to end soon. In fact, I suspect they will continue to get worse as the months progress because of the ways and means hackers are able to gain access to various platforms. Heck, you see it at least once a day on Facebook alone. 

So what I did today was suspend my website until I make a determination on whether or not it is worth the expense, frustration and constant wondering. So I think for the time being, I am going to add more recipes on this forum, starting with my go-to grilling recipe for this summer.

Yankee Chinese Red Spareribs

     This will be you favorite recipe during this summer when you have an urge to cook some Chinese-style spareribs. Honestly, you will never order out again, they are that good! Althouh the glaze/marinade is thick, it is the perfect consistency not only to marinate the ribs, but to keep as a slathering glaze and for dipping as well.

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

15 drops(about 1/4 teaspoon)red food coloring

2 tablespoons vinegar(see NOTE)

1/2 teaspoon celery seed, optional

2 pounds boneless, country-style pork spareribs

     In a large bowl, whisk together first 8 ingredients; set aside. Cut spareribs in half from top to bottom, making each half as thick. Place in a shallow container in a single layer and pour bowl of sauce over the top, making sure each rib is fully covered. Refrigerate at least 24 hours and as long as 2 days for an intense flavor.

     After removing the ribs from the marinade, transfer to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat, cover and serve alongside the ribs for dipping.

     Preheat only one half of an outdoor grill on high. Place ribs on the grate that is NOT over the flame. Close top and indirectly cook ribs for about 10 minutes before flipping over to continue cooking until completely done. 

If you want to cook these on the stove top, simply add 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ribs, in a single layer, and cook for about 10 minutes per side, until thoroughly cooked. 

NOTE: Because this is a Yankee recipe, of course I use apple cider vinegar. It imparts a fantastic flavor, but use rice wine vinegar if desired. If you would like, add a 1/4 cup hoisin sauce as well, but it really isn't needed. Honey can also be a great substitution for maple syrup.