Painting by Marion Perlet, purchased in San Miguel de Allende

Most of you know why we’re a little late with this blog post.  Glen Ellen, where our home is located, was hit hard by the Sonoma County wildfires which broke out on Sunday night, October 8.  The devastation throughout the area is mind-boggling.

Though our house was not burned, Glen Ellen was under mandatory evacuation orders for almost 2 weeks. During that evacuation time we spent one night with a Sonoma friend, Lynne, and then a week in San Francisco with our daughter and son-in-law.  They also took in our 2 Siamese cats, Ono Moore and Choco Latte,  and our Aussie, Oakley.  How fortunate we are to have such supportive friends and family.

When we got ready to leave our house, not knowing what the outcome would be, we opted to take the painting above as the piece of art we most wanted to save.  And it’s not even an original.  But somehow it speaks to the occasion.

And now that we’re home, the blog post that we were almost ready to send out – “Pass-Along” – seems more important than ever.  When push comes to shove, what is it that we most want to preserve and pass-along?  Worth thinking about.  See Andy’s Corner for what he brought with him that Monday morning when the fire was approaching us.

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Butterfly weed – and a Monarch to boot (photo from Missouri Botanical Garden’s wonderful Plant Finder website)

Until the year 2000 I had never heard of the term “Pass-Along.”  But I didn’t grow up in the South.  That summer, in Baton Rouge, my neighbor Katie brought me a butterfly weed – Asclepias tuberosaas I’d have called it in my MiniBlooms days.  It was from her brother Joe’s home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Pass-alongs are plants which thrive in old Southern gardens and, because of their hardiness, are easy to give to others.  They’re usually not sold in nurseries because they may be too common or too weedlike.  Well, that’s not quite true.  In Northern California today everyone is trying their best to help out the Monarchs and you can find butterfly weed almost everywhere.

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Long story short: the only plant I’ve ever had long enough to be considered tough enough to be a pass-along is the hoya, a houseplant, that’s sitting on our back porch. The plant came from my dad’s first law partner, Mortimer Stone – who went on to become chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court – in 1953.  When Judge Stone passed away in 1978, my mom and dad inherited his hoya.  When my dad passed away in 1998, I got it. My brother is demanding a cutting from it as we speak.  And I’m thinking I’d better root a few cuttings for my kids.

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Mortimer Stone’s Hoya

I’ve decided that since Pass-along plants generally seem to elude me, recipes will be my Pass-along – something easy and special to give to others.  Selecting Pass-along recipes to share on BigLittleMeals was a piece of cake (not to say there are going to be cake recipes!). It had to be Swedish Pancakes from my maternal grandmother, Annie Carlson, Pumpkin Pie O’Brien and Cinnamon Bread from Mom Hill, my paternal grandmother, and Sloppy Joe’s from my mother.  Sorry there are no recipes from the men in my family. Until we got to Andy, male cooks in the family were few and far between.  How times have changed.  Moss and Silas, our grandsons, pictured below, started cooking early!

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Moss enjoying Silas’s cooking (though now – 11 years later – it’s more likely that Silas is enjoying Moss’s cooking)

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Pass-along hand-written recipes – even more meaningful in this computer  age.  But what if you can’t read cursive?

My mom’s parents, Gus and Annie Carlson, immigrated from Sweden.  Gus left Stockholm and came to the U.S. in 1886 when he was 23 and Annie, whose home was in Ryssby, Sweden, arrived here in 1890, when she was about 15.  They returned home to marry, sailing back to the U.S. out of Liverpool on the SS Lucania in 1901 (we have the Ellis Island copy of the ship’s “Manifest of Alien Immigrants” with their names).  Both Gus and Annie passed away before I was born, but Annie’s Swedish pancakes have always been an almost-weekly breakfast in our home.  Naturally, we’ve passed along the recipe to our children and grandchildren.  Moss, our 12-year-old grandson, already knows how to make them.


Annie's Swedish Pancakes

  • Servings: 4
  • Print


  • 2 c milk
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 T butter, melted (plus butter to grease the frying pan)

Put the milk in a medium bowl and slowly whisk in the flour and salt.  Add the eggs one at a time and whisk.  Stir in the melted butter.  If you have time to let the batter sit for a 15-30 minutes, do.  If not, don’t worry; we never have time.

Lightly butter a large skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until quite hot. Pour 1/3 cup batter into skillet. Swirl batter around to form a thin 8- to 9-inch pancake. Cook until small bubbles are visible on top and the underside is golden brown. Using a thin spatula, flip the pancake and cook until other side is lightly brown.

If you want to make little pancakes, 1 T of batter will make one little pancake.  A large skillet will hold about 5-6 little pancakes at a time.  Turn them as you do for the large pancake.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals and Andy and Ann

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Born to Swedish parents, my mom wasn’t much of connoisseur of Italian food.  But the recipe she fixed a lot when my brother and I were growing up was some sort of variation on both a Sloppy Joe and a pasta sauce.  It goes either way – authentic or not – and is simple and delicious.  And for a fun little history on Sloppy Joes, see Food for Thought.

Super Simple Sloppy Joes

  • Servings: 4
  • Print
Serve this sauce on toasted, buttered buns or over pasta


  • 1 T butter
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar

Add butter to a large skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook and stir until brown. Drain most of the fat off.

Add green pepper, onions, and garlic. Cook until they begin to soften.

Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar.  Stir to combine and then simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

Spread the buns with butter and brown on a griddle or skillet.  Spoon the sauce onto the buns (we prefer ours open-faced) and serve.  The Sloppy Joe sauce will warm up well and freeze well.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals and Andy and Ann

My dad’s mother, Mom Hill, was quite a cook.  It’s amazing how many recipes cards I have that are in her hand-writing.  Though we love her pecan cookies and her whole wheat bread and her rice casserole, our do-over-and-over again recipes are her Pumpkin Pie O’Brien and her Cinnamon Bread.  Both of my Hill cousins and now their children make huge batches of the bread every Christmas to give as gifts.  An unequaled Hill Family Pass-along.

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Mom Hill’s Cinnamon Bread ready to be toasted

Mom Hill's Cinnamon Bread

  • Servings: about 12 slices per loaf
  • Print


  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 1 c old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 c raisins or currants
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c warm water
  • 2 pkg yeast (not instant)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 4 1/2 c flour (maybe a little more)

Cinnamon sugar:

  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 T cinnamon

Butter two 9″x5″ loaf pans well.

Scald the milk, then pour it over the rolled oats, raisins, sugar, butter, and salt. Stir and cool.

Soften the yeast in the warm water, then add it to the milk and oat mixture.  Add the beaten egg and stir.  Then add enough flour to make a soft dough.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes, either by hand or with a mixer.  Place the dough in a greased bowl and let it rise until doubled in bulk.  Punch the dough down, divide into 2 pieces, form the pieces into a ball,  and let rest for 10 minutes.

While the dough is resting,  make the cinnamon sugar, blending until the cinnamon and sugar are mixed well.

Roll the balls of dough into rectangles, about 9″ wide and 18″ long. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon mixture over each rectangle, then roll the dough up, starting on the narrow end, to form loaves. Pull at the dough while you roll, so that you get as many rolls as possible. Seal the edges by pinching (hard) together.  Put into the loaf pans.

Let rise again until double; then bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.  Cool in the pans for about 15 minutes, then take the loaves out of the pans and continue cooling on a rack.  The bread will be fabulous eaten while slightly warm (with lots of butter, of course) – and, once cool, will be best toasted.  It will keep for several days in a plastic bag – not refrigerated – and will freeze well.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals and Andy and Ann
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Pumpkin Pie O’Brien on the left; Apple and Pecan pies (recipes coming later) beside it.

Pumpkin Pie O'Brien

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Print
You’ll find this a pie that’s not as pumpkin-y as many recipes.  We love it! Serve it with whipped cream, of course.


  • 2 T butter, softened
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 c pumpkin (from a can)
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/4 c bourbon (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix ingredients in the order given with an electric mixer (to elaborate on my grandmother’s instructions: cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs and beat briefly, then add the rest and beat briefly again). Pour into an unbaked pie shell (9″) that has been refrigerated until very cold.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals and Andy and Ann







  1. theRaggedys says:

    Andy is a Southern Californian by birth – transplanted to Northern California (via Colorado and Louisiana), so we have something in common. Yes, please try out our recipes and let us know what you think.


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