Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An End of Summer Treat: Peach Pies

9/24/08 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

Heavenly. That’s the only way I know how to describe the delicious late summer taste of a fresh, juicy peach. As I write this, fresh peaches are still abundant from nearby orchards and we are enjoying them served from noon to night on breakfast cereal, sliced fresh over ice cream and in a variety of other desserts.

SunCrest peaches are my favorite all-around peach for both eating and canning. They ripen in late Aug. through early Sept. and their firm, sweet flesh melts in your mouth. Right now, Improved Elbertas have arrived on the scene and they are a great all-around freestone peach with a firm yellow flesh that resists bruising. So now is the time to can if you want to enjoy a jar of rosy peaches in the dead of winter!

My hands down favorite peach dish is a glazed, fresh peach pie. Many new cooks are afraid to tackle a fresh fruit pie but it’s really not difficult. Just think of it as a three-step process:

First, prepare and bake the pie shell. Then, while the pie shell is cooling, make the glaze. While the glaze is cooling, slice and arrange the peaches. Pour the peach glaze over the peaches and refrigerate until serving time. Serve it all and eat it quickly because fresh fruit pies don’t stand up well after cutting.

Thanks to my family’s Southern cooking roots, I’ve never met a dessert containing peaches, coconut and pecans that I didn’t like. So today we’re going to start out with a glazed peach pie recipe and move on to a couple of scrumptious recipes for peach pies with blueberries, coconut and/or pecans. One even makes its own crust. Enjoy!

 Glazed Peach Pie

1 9-inch pie shell, baked
1 quart sliced fresh peaches, excess liquid drained
 3/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
 3 tablespoons cornstarch
 1 teaspoon vanilla
  teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon
1/8 teaspoon salt
sweetened whipped cream or whipped topping

Mash 1 cup of the peaches. Add water and cook four minutes. Mix sugar and cornstarch; add to the fruit mixture. Cook until thick and clear. Add vanilla, lemon juice, butter, and salt. Let cool. Arrange remaining peach slices in the cooled pie shell. Pour cooled peach glaze mixture over the sliced fruit. Chill. To serve, top with whipped cream or whipped topping and a few small peach slices, if desired. Or, serve with vanilla ice cream.

Blueberry Peach Pie with Pecan Crumb Topping

1 (9 inch)  prepared unbaked pie shells, refrigerated


3 cups fresh blueberries, picked over for stems
3 cups peeled pitted and sliced ripe fresh peaches
1/2 cup sugar, plus
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 grated lime, zest of
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Pecan Crumb Topping

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon milk or light cream

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Place prepared piecrust in the freezer for 15 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine the filling ingredients, mix well and set aside for 10 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons sugar; stir into the fruit mixture.
4. Turn the filling into the chilled pie crust; place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Prepare the topping—combine the flour, pecans, sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse several times to chop the nuts coarsely.
6. Scatter the butter over the top and pulse again until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
7. Sprinkle the milk over the mixture and pulse again briefly.
8. Transfer the topping to a bowl and rub it between your fingers to make damp, gravelly crumbs; refrigerate until ready to use.
   9. Remove the pie from the oven and decrease temperature to 375°; evenly spread the crumbs over the top of the pie.
10. Slide a large foil-lined baking sheet onto the oven rack below to catch any drips. Return pie to oven
11. Continue to bake 30-40 minutes until the juices bubble thickly around the edge. If necessary, cover the pie with loosely tented foil for the last 15 minutes to keep the top from getting too brown.
  14. Transfer pie to a wire rack; let cook for at least 2 hours before serving.

Peach Pie with Coconut and Pecans

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
½ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup self-rising flour
1-1/3 cups shredded coconut
2-1/2 cups chopped peaches
12 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Generously grease and lightly flour a 9-inch pie plate.

In a large bowl, beat eggs; add milk, corn syrup, butter, sugar, vanilla and flour; blend well.

Pour mixture into pie plate. Sprinkle with pecans, then generously with cinnamon. Bake 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let the pie cool before cutting. Garnish each serving with whipped cream.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal!
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes 
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare. 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Kaiser's Dachshund Duo

Sammy & Sadie
9/17/08 Chatterbox Betty Kaiser The game is on and the noise is deafening! Two little red dachshund bodies are facing off across our driveway. The gauntlet has been thrown. Crouched and nearly motionless, each one is reading the other’s eyes, deciding who will begin this game of “Catch me if you can.” The challenging seems to take forever. Yipping and yelping, they sound like a pack of Beagles, not miniature dachshunds. Who will make the first move? The players are Sadie and Sammy. At 8 years of age, Sadie has the edge in skill and experience. After all, she grew up playing this game with a German Shepherd! Sammy, however, has youth and stamina on his side. Now a one-year old, he learned the rules of the game the hard way. Sadie was a ruthless and formidable opponent. To survive, he had to learn quickly from his older playmate. Suddenly, Sadie darts toward Sammy and the chase is on. Propelled by toned muscled legs, Sadie quickly pulls ahead with Sammy on her heels. As soon as he seems ready to overtake her, she deftly dodges and turns, heading in the opposite direction. With a little leap, he agilely twists his little body like a pretzel and they are once again neck and neck. Sadie (the yelper and strategist) sees an opening to the left and takes it with Sammy hot on her heels. After a few minutes of this intense play, there’s an unspoken time out. Each dog momentarily rests on its own turf. You can almost see the wheels spinning: “If I do this, and he does that, maybe I can beat him at this game.” Minutes pass before the challenging starts again. This time Sammy makes the first move and Sadie is a little slow catching up. He looks over his shoulder as if to say, “Come on, you old slowpoke!” Eventually, the duo will tire of this game, straggle into Chuck’s woodshop, plop down on their cushions near the now cold woodstove and take a nice long nap. Best friends? You bet. But these two weren’t always so friendly. Sadie didn’t take too kindly to the idea of a new puppy when he came to live with us a year ago. She had some medical problems, became seriously ill and had put on about 5 pounds from steroids. She was also a one-person dog and all she really wanted was to crawl up on Chuck’s lap and sleep. Suddenly there was a new kid in the house. What a pain in the neck! She was used to being the center of Chuck’s world. Every morning they opened the shop together, checked the vegetable garden, mowed and did chores. After lunch there was usually time for a little siesta before the afternoon routine began. She especially looked forward to evenings and watching a little TV in the recliner with dad. Sammy changed all of that. Because of him, she not only had to share her main man but put up with this annoying bundle of energy. He not only diverted attention away from her but totally destroyed her daily routine. There was no rest for the weary when he was around. She’d lie down and he’d flop down on top of her and chew her ears. He was constantly challenging her to do something — anything! She would have none of it and began to growl and bare her teeth. I began to worry that she might never accept him. Wrong! As the months crawled by, she started to feel better. One day she noticed that Sammy was playing with HER toys. Her favorite squeaky toys were also his favorite. Obviously, that was not acceptable. So, their bonding began over a simple game of tug-of-war. They could spend an hour jockeying for position with a 12-inch long wiener dog toy that had a squeaker on each end. Not even playing catch with dad could compare to that. As Sadie began to feel better, her disposition began to improve. It quickly became apparent that this pup didn’t play wimpy people games. No, he knew how to play “doggie-style.” Maybe he was all right after all. A simple game of ‘fetch’ became much more exciting when she had to compete with Sammy for the ball. Hide and seek became a real challenge when competing with him for the prize. A wonderful benefit to all of this exercise was that Ms Sadie lost 5-pounds. The last year, she had become a 19-pound little sausage dog; was short of breath, shunned walks and was a total couch (recliner?) potato. Now, she is a svelte 14-pounder and looking good. She bounds around the property chasing birds, digging for moles, and plays daily games of tug-of-war, fetch and ‘chase,’ with her buddy Sammy. This Dachshund dream team joyously greets visitors, keeps the cats on their toes and the deer wary. Mom and dad? Well, they’re just happy watching the boundless energy of youth compete with the age and skill of experience. All in all, our days are a lot of fun. Game on! Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Read her weekly columns in the Cottage Grove Sentinel.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Back to school lunches

9/10/08 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

Going back to school involves more than getting the kids dressed and out the door. It also means putting together the ubiquitous brown bag lunches. As a long-ago veteran of the school lunch box wars, I can sympathize with those of you who dread facing this chore.

Some kids could care less about what they eat as long as they eat. Others are downright picky about their lunch. One day they eat PB&J and the next day they won’t. Some days your lunches are a winner and some days — well — they’re not!

What’s a parent to do? Keep it simple and persevere.

Younger children seem to like repetition in their meals. They get in a rut and they only want to eat one thing. Why? Who knows? In fact — who cares? The object is to fuel their little bodies with wholesome food. If what they’re eating is good for them, don’t worry if they eat the same thing day after day. You may die of boredom but they won’t.

My grandson Matthew ate egg salad sandwiches almost everyday for two years in elementary school. His mom made up a batch at the beginning of the week and he ate his way through it along with a bag of chips, an apple and a cookie. He was happy. Mom was happy.

The trick with school lunches is first to know your kid and second to be organized. Some kids will buy school lunches; others won’t touch them with a ten-foot pole. If your kid likes to take his or her lunch, it will save you money but cost you a little in time.

Make your own sandwich fillings. If your kid likes PB&J or baloney and cheese you’re getting off easy. If not, you’d better get organized now.

Now let’s get back to Matthew’s egg salad. Boiling eggs is basic, right? Everyone knows how to boil eggs. But just in case you’re just learning to cook, here’s the secret: Put the desired number of eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Put the lid on the pan, bring to a rolling boil and turn off the heat.

Leave the pan on the cool burner about 25 minutes. They’ll be cooked to perfection without broken shells. Immediately pour off the still warm water and place the pan under cold running water. At this point, the eggs are easiest to peel. So even if I’m going to prepare deviled eggs the next day, I peel and refrigerate them whole the day before. This saves me a step later during prep time.

One final word about school lunches. Remember to keep cold things cold and hot things hot. Back in the day when I was a kid we had thermos jugs to do the job and that was about it. Today there are small gel packs or juice boxes to freeze and keep those sandwiches fresh. Insulated lunch boxes also do a great job for hot or cold foods.

Following are some ideas to keep your little munchkins happy.

Lunch Box Fun
(Recipe from “Yum-O! The Family Cookbook” by Rachael Ray)

1/2 cup turkey breast, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup boiled ham, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup Cheddar, Provolone, American, or Monterey Jack cheese, cut into bite-size cubes
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
2 celery ribs, cut into sticks
3 tablespoons jarred salsa
3 tablespoons ranch dressing
1 slice angel food cake, cut into bite-size pieces
1⁄2 pint strawberries, hulled


Pack all the different savory components in separate resealable plastic bags or containers. Mix the salsa and ranch dressing in a small plastic container for savory dipping.

Place the cake cubes in another plastic food-storage bag or container. Puree the strawberries with a splash of water or juice in a blender and pour into a small ¬plastic container for sweet dipping. Pack everything into a lunch box for a dip-licious lunch.

Basic Deviled Egg and Ham Sandwiches

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and grated
1 can deviled ham (I use Underwood)
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (enough to moisten)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and spread on bread. Top with lettuce leaf and second slice of bread.

Basic Tuna Salad Sandwiches

 1 can albacore tuna (solid pack)
 2 stalks celery, diced
 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
 3 tablespoons sweet or dill relish
Dash dried dill weed

In a large mixing bowl, combine tuna and celery. Set aside. In a small mixing bowl, combine mayo, relish, and dill; mix well. Pour mayonnaise mixture over tuna mixture and stir well to coat completely. Use as a sandwich filling on bread or scoop into small dinner rolls. Yum!

Peanut Butter, Cream Cheese and Jam Sandwiches

Peanut butter at room temperature
Cream cheese at room temperature
Favorite Jam or Jelly
Whole grain Bread

For each sandwich, spread one slice of bread with cream cheese and the other slice with peanut butter. Spread jam or jelly on the cream cheese, top with the peanut butter slice (facing down). Cut in half or quarter. Put in sandwich bag and refrigerate until packing the bag.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! 
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes 
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.

Friday, September 5, 2008

My "Grand-Sons" in life and on vacation

9/3/08 Chatterbox Betty Kaiser Hey, grandparents! Congratulations! This Sunday is your day to shine. Grandkids are truly wonderful and today I’m going to introduce you to my pride and joy. There was a time when I didn’t think that I would ever be a grandmother. Long after college and marriage, our grown kids were busy finishing up grad schools, launching careers and (mostly) having fun. In fact, when I finally mustered the courage to mention the ‘grandchild’ word, I distinctly remember them smirking as if to say, “Don’t hold your breath.” That’s when their father and I decided to move from the city to the country and fulfill our dream of opening a bed and breakfast inn. We bought a “money pit” property and kept throwing ourselves into it until it was ready. We opened for business and thought we were settled. You know what happened next, don’t you? One winter’s day in 1990, our daughter and son-in-law flew up to Oregon and announced that Kathy was pregnant! We were ecstatic! Finally, a grandchild. The announcement triggered a flurry of buying sprees and trips to California for baby showers. We marveled at Kathy’s ‘beach-ball belly’ and wondered whether the baby was a boy or a girl. I was not-so-secretly hoping for a girl. Paul Daniel Linman was born Sept. 16, 1990. All thoughts of girls went out the window at the first sight of his adorable face. And it’s a good thing because over the next 12 years, four more grandsons made their appearance. When it was all over there were five boys and nary a girl among them. But who cares? These guys are more fun than a barrel of monkeys partly due to the influence of their bachelor Uncle Jeff. He is their musical mentor and leader in overall craziness. Our son John and Betsy Kaiser’s boys are into sports like their dad. Count them in for anything that involves throwing a ball or riding a horse! Joshua is only 5 but he throws a ball much better than his grandmother! Robby is an enviable brainiac athlete and J.D. plays the guitar in a band and is the horseman in the family. Again, like their dad, Kathy and Tim Linman’s boys are all about speed and the great outdoors. Can you spell NASCAR? Both of them can give you more stats on their favorite drivers than you’ll ever want to know. Paul is an honors student, a high school track team star and an Eagle Scout. Matthew studies trumpet and guitar from Uncle Jeff, plays football and is on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout. Spending time with these boys is like taking a happiness pill. I think that’s why they are called “Grand Sons.” They have energy to burn, find joy in the moment, are loving, both silly and serious, positive thinkers, don’t hold grudges and — they’re not our responsibility! This summer we all got together for what I called the planes, trains, boats and busses trip. We all started as tourists in Seattle and ate the best pizza in the world at Zeek’s near the Space Needle. Then we whale watched around the San Juans, relaxed at Friday Harbor and finished with fireworks at Butchart Garden in Victoria B.C. Sure there were a few glitches along the way but only one trip to the emergency hospital! I consider any journey successful if everyone is still speaking, limbs aren’t broken and no one gets food poisoning. But what did the guys think? Paul, 17, loved the trip but it was hard to compare to flying an airplane! He got the flying bug as a little guy when United Airlines pilots would let him sit in the cockpit. This summer his parents gave him a gift certificate for flying lessons. He said that being 3000 feet off the ground in a tiny plane doesn’t bother him at all and calls flying exhilarating. And yes, he’d like to be a pilot or maybe a forest ranger or a firefighter. Matthew, 14, is a pretty cool kid of few words. He liked the San Juan Islands because they were so calm and relaxing. This from a guy who wants to be a Highway Patrolman! J.D., 13, voted for the fabulous choreographed fireworks at Butchart Gardens as being the highlight of the trip. But we couldn’t talk long because he was off to swim practice and training for an Oct. triathlon. That should come in handy if he does decide to be a Navy Seal. Robby, 10, can talk non-stop and loved everything about the trip from killer whales to eating at Milestones Grill in Victoria. It ranked right up there with being chosen to play on the Templeton minor league All-Star team where he helped his team make it to the semi-finals. He got 3 hits, was on base 6 times and was only hit by the ball once. Ouch! Is it any surprise that he wants to be a marine biologist or a professional baseball player? Josh, 5, was super excited to see an Orca whale breach right in front of us on our whale watching trip. He was sure it happened just for him! This pint size dynamo wants to be a drummer in a rock band or an owner of a restaurant. I’ll bet he changes his mind. On Grandparent’s Day and every day, I am honored to be the grandmother of such great kids. Guys, always remember that your grandfather and I love you because YTB (you’re the best)! P.S. This month both Papa Chuck and Paul are celebrating milestone birthdays. Paul, the kid who opened the grandson door to joy is a high school senior and turns 18 on Sept. 16. On Sept. 1 Chuck (a different kind of senior) turned the big 7-0! Happy birthday gentlemen and have a wonderful year! Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail — bchatty@bettykaiser.com

Monday, September 1, 2008

Garden's Blank Canvas yields a Tasty Harvest

5/27/08 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

Our vegetable garden is finally in full swing, thanks to a combination of exceptionally hot weather followed by cooling rains. A few weeks ago, Chuck, our resident Master Gardener was mostly harvesting crisp lettuce, tasty green onions, two varieties of squash and a host of slugs. It was getting a little boring.

Now that the growing season has finally gotten in gear, we’re bored no more. Every morning Chuck goes out to the garden to pick the daily harvest. We are literally enjoying the fruits of his labor as each day he brings in something to enjoy that wasn’t ripe the day before.

A garden is an unfolding surprise package. It reminds me of a blank canvas before the painter starts his masterpiece. Our goal is to first get the blank canvas. Depending on the weather, we begin early in May to knock down the winter weeds, till, amend and level the soil. Only then can the canvas’ seeds be planted. Then we water, weed (!) and wait.

Slowly, the picture appears, as the seeds begin to germinate. The tomatoes start to flower, turn into tiny green fruit and keep growing until you see the first red blush of ripeness. The green bean vines head for the sun, potatoes and onions sprout, pumpkins stretch out into the flower beds and stubby corn stalks are suddenly 6-feet tall. A beautiful scene to behold.

This season’s new strawberry plants have surprised us with some of the best strawberries that we’ve had in years. They are coreless, red all the way through, juicy and sweet. Our plump thornless marionberries are in their second year and producing about two baskets every other day. We are having berries on our cereal, at lunch with cottage cheese, garnishing slices of cantaloupe and in cobblers.

The FDA recommendation is for us to eat five fruits and vegetables a day. If you’ve been trying to get into a healthy eating routine now is the time to start. Take the “5 A Day” challenge and substitute raw veggies for chips; add fruit to breakfast cereal or yogurt; fix a big green salad for lunch and of course, always have at least one vegetable at dinner.

If you don’t have your own garden, plan one for next year. In the meantime, shop our local produce stands (and if you need squash, call me!). The following mouth watering recipes might even encourage kids to try a bite or two of something outside their comfort zone.

I’ve been making Heloise’s Pickled Beets since the original Heloise published the recipe. You can use either fresh or canned beets. The canned are nice to use in the dead of winter. The onion pie is a bit like quiche and the brown sugar carrots are so yummy that you’ll always eat them that way. And finally, if you like, add other garden veggies (pre-cooked carrots?) to the grilled vegetables. The artichoke hearts add great flavor to all of them. Enjoy!

Sweet Onion Pie

 Pastry for 1-crust pie, prepared
 8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
 2 medium sweet onions cut into rings (yellow onions okay)
1 cup finely diced cooked ham
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
Garnish with minced fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Line a 9-inch pie plate with prepared pastry; flute edge.

Layer half of the shredded cheese over bottom of pastry. Spread half of the onion rings over cheese. Cover onion rings with remaining shredded cheese and diced ham, alternating with remaining onion rings. In a bowl, beat the milk and eggs; combine the flour, salt, and caraway seeds. Gradually add milk and eggs to the flour mixture, beating with a whisk until smooth. Pour batter over cheese-onion filling. Bake pie at 350° for 55 to 60 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned. Garnish with parsley sprigs or minced fresh parsley, if desired. Serves 6
Heloise’s Pickled Beets

1-1/2 cups beet juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons catsup
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
24 whole cloves
3 cups sliced cooked fresh beets or 3 cans drained beets

Heat together all ingredients (except beets) in saucepan, stirring often, until mixture thickens. Add beets and mix thoroughly. Store in refrigerator. Keeps well.

Note: Beets also may be julienned or tiny beets may be left whole.

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots and Onions

1 pound carrots peeled and cut into ½ inch slices
1 package (16 ounce) frozen whole white onions
1/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt

Place carrots in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Add onions. Cover and cook 5 minutes longer or just until tender. Drain. Add butter and spices. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring until vegetables are glazed. Makes 4 cups.

Grilled Vegetable Medley (with dill)

1 jar marinated artichoke hearts (6-ounces)
3 medium tomatoes, quartered
2 small zucchini, sliced into ½-inch pieces
2 small yellow squash, sliced into ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar

Mix all ingredients together including artichoke marinade.
To grill, wrap in double thickness heavy-duty foil. Grill for 10-15 minutes or until desired doneness.
To cook on range top, simmer in skillet until tender, about 10 minutes.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! 
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes 
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.