I like bread and butter; I like toast and jam”

Turn up your speakers really loud, click on those lyrics, and you’ll be in the mood for this blog.  And be sure to check out “Andy’s Corner” a new page where Andy has free rein (reign??).  And does a NYTimes opinion piece espousing the evilness of expanses of lawns tie into BigLittleMeals?  Of course it does. 🙂  Find it in “Food for Thought.”  Finally, here’s a Father’s Day toast to all of our dads!

Did your mom – or dad – ever make you chipped beef on toast?  Or perhaps  you remember it by the very graphic army mess hall term.  Or maybe as a child you had creamed tuna on toast?  My mom fixed both, and I haven’t tried to replicate either recipe! 🙂  But we’ve found that toast can easily become the basis for the perfect quick little lunch or dinner.  Toast for breakfast goes without saying.

Stay with me while I describe the other night around here.  We really aren’t big sports fans.  Really we aren’t.  But when a team we’re vaguely familiar with, usually because of a dynamic player on a team that’s near us – think John Elway and the Broncos; or Shaquille O’Neill when he was at LSU, or now Stephen Curry and the Warriors – gets to the playoffs, we often get interested.  SO, to make a long story short, we needed a quick, portable dinner, so we could watch the Warriors/Cavaliers Round 2 Playoff game the other night.  I didn’t have anything frozen, but I did have a partial loaf of Della Fattoria Pumpkin Seed Bread, a favorite out of Petaluma, CA,  and some Oscar Wilde Irish Cheddar Cheese.  And 10 minutes later we were eating our open-faced cheese sandwiches and cheering for Curry.   And for Klay Thompson.  And we were happy and full.  And the Warriors won.  And WON.

The key here is to find an artisan, rustic-style, unsliced, loaf of bread – we tend to always go for seeded breads – and have it on hand – either in the freezer or the breadbox (yes, we have one).  And to have a nice cheddar cheese always in the fridge.  AND, IMHO, to slice the cheese very, very thin.


But toast for dinner doesn’t need to end there.  The British apparently find beans and toast a most satisfying meal.  Though they traditionally just open a can of Heinz Baked Beans, we can easily concoct a U.S. version, which is vastly superior to the taste of the Heinz Baked Beans.  Since Jamie Oliver, the British chef, is sort of the equivalent of a football or basketball star for those of us who are into cooking, I looked at his recipes in creating my baked-beans-on-toast recipe.


In about a month our Early Girl tomatoes (and maybe our Ace, Better Boy, Black Krim, and Celebrity) tomatoes will be ripening, and we’ll be chowing-down on our all-time summer favorite: open-faced Bacon and Home-grown Tomato Sandwiches (on toast).FutureEarlyGirls

And for a last delicious toast suggestion:  be totally au courant and fix yourself avocado and toast.  A lightly mashed avocado, a little salt, a little lemon or lime, maybe a pinch of Dukkah; I just discovered this Turkish seed mix and it’s delish.  Don’t over-toast the bread for this.  You want the center of the bread to be warm but nice and squishy soft.

Toast with Avocado and Dukah

Continue reading

4 Ingredients 4 Dessert

Shortbread&StrawberriesA special edition!  We’ll be posting a new blog next Sunday.  But we had to share this recipe TODAY.  It’s that simple and delicious.

We’re in the midst of a little kitchen re-do and have been frantically figuring out how to live for a couple of weeks with little access to life’s essentials (i.e., food).  Plus, we’ve had a few good friends who are bucking the system (we have lots of “Bucks” in our lives, including the real buck who tried eating plants in our front yard at 5 this morning) – and they have suggested that even our simple recipes at are not simple enough.

Well, here you go: the simplest, most d-lish sweet we’ve fixed in a long time.  Instead of clearing out our kitchen drawers this morning, prior to the contractor coming tomorrow a.m., I opted to make this shortbread.  It took me all of 5 minutes to get it made and in the oven!  And strawberries are in season (at least in California).  Nothing could be a more perfect match.  The shortbread is addictive; what more can I say.

All the credit goes to Melissa Clark from the NYTimes.  She’s one of our absolute favs in regards to recipes.

And go Warriors.  And have a great week.

Super Simple Shortbread

  • Servings: 24
  • Print


  • 2 c flour
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 sticks butter (1 cup), cut into 1″ chunks

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  In a food processor blend the flour, sugar, and salt.  Add the chunks of butter and pulse until the mixture just barely starts to come together.  It will be crumbly.  Be careful not to over-process.

Press the dough into an ungreased 8″x 8″ pan or 9″ pie pan and then prick it all over with a fork.  Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the edges are golden but the rest is still pale.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack.  Cut into squares while the shortbread is still warm.

See the NY Times article by Clark for lots of fun additions/changes you can make.

Recipe brought to you by Andy and Ann and Big Little Meals

“Borta Bra Men Hemma Bäst”


Izakaya Amu  in Boulder, Colorado

  • “Borta bra men hemma bäst,” said my Swedish grandparents: Away is good but home is best (and get your mind out of the gutter, if you’re giggling about “bra men! :).
  • Lots of fun restaurant-eating with teens, tween, and extended family went on this past week.  But we’re all glad to be home.
  • Be sure to read Andy’s advice to Raggedy Ann: Tidy vs Messy in Lagniappe.
  • And in Food for Thought – will salt help me lose weight????? Geez, I wish.

We’re back from our “Go for the Gold” family vacation in Colorado (Ft Collins and Boulder) and are delighted to be back to home-cooked meals. After arriving in Glen Ellen late Thursday evening – after a long day of travel – we pulled out some frozen Baked Penne and Sausage Pasta, popped it in the microwave (though the oven would have been better yet) and soon sat down to a leisurely, simple, and delicious dinner – with a glass of A&D pinot noir from the Napa Valley (we are seldom traitors to Sonoma wines, but the A&D was too tempting to pass up).

We’ve had 6 days and 6 nights of restaurant food, which is unusual for us. We normally do AirBnB kinds of stays and cook even when we’re on holiday. And as much as we love Colorado, we have to say that fabulous dining experiences were not the norm.

But there are some definite highlights in case you’re in the area. In Ft Collins: a “Havana Daydreaming” Cuban breakfast sandwich at Snooze on Mountain Ave, a Lavender Sour cocktail with ginger cognac and house-crafted lavender sour at Social in Old Town Square (I’d like another one right now!). In Boulder: Japanese sashimi and yakimono at Izakaya Amu near the Pearl St Mall,  warm wood-fired Montreal-style bagels from Woodgrain Bagels on Arapahoe, and our NYC son says you must try the Coleslaw Salad w/Peanuts from Eureka.

We didn’t ignore sweets either.  I’m a huge fan of little local bakeries – if their treats are buttery/yeasty/not too sweet/delicious. The Little Bird Bakeshop in Ft Collins had a to-die-for Bostock –orange-soaked brioche with almond cream.  And back home in Sonoma our fabulous little Sonoma Crisp Bakeshop has yummy almond croissants and perfect morning buns. I’ve attempted making both croissants and morning buns and don’t recommend it – unless it’s for a really REALLY special occasion. BUT, using the recipe we’ve provided below,  you can have a brioche bread pudding ready to bake in just a few minutes.  Just purchase a loaf of already-made brioche at your market.

Here’s today’s quiz (you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher!). What do all of those foods from restaurants and bakeries have in common? Well, they are either too complex or too time-consuming for most of us to do at home (well, I do make a mean and easy coleslaw!). And that’s what made those eating-out experiences special: we would not cook them at home. Most of the other meals we had in restaurants paled in comparison to our simple homemade dinner Thursday night. Big Little (easy, tasty) Meals. Go for it. Continue reading

Rice, Rice, & More Rice

  1. Rice in cupboard1

Our 2nd blog email is going out just as we’re about to celebrate our Golden Wedding Anniversary. The whole family is off to Colorado on Saturday to get introduced or re-introduced to my beautiful home state where we got hitched 50 years ago.  Unfortunately, the Presbyterian church where we were married was torn down shortly thereafter.  An inauspicious event.

Before I blog-on about recipes, let me tell you about our new page feature (see menu at the top) – Food for Thought.   In Food for Thought we’re posting articles that we’ve really enjoyed and found thought-provoking – and sometimes just provoking.  We promise to stay far far away from politics – unless/maybe/if/possibly it relates to food.  Our first article is about why today’s poultry is so flavorless.  I’ve been griping about that for years.

Now back to our blog:  Two weeks ago I couldn’t stop thinking about Curry.  Go GG Warriors!  Now I have another obsession – it’s rice.  RICE.  Maybe it’s because I was looking through old wedding photos and found this one.  There we were, 50 years ago, RiceThrowing2 starting our life adventure together – and being bombarded with rice.  For fertility? For wealth?  Apparently, Ann Landers said that we were just killing birds by that old custom, but that belief has been discredited.  Some of my FCHS Besties will recognize two very special mothers in that photo, and our Chino relations will see special family members.

But on to rice as our almost most-favorite food in our simplify-our-cooking efforts. Continue reading

Lamb Kheema in a Hurry Curry


So I’ve been thinking a lot about Curry lately.  Maybe Andy has too.  But not Indian curry; rather Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors 🙂  We’re wishing Curry and the Warriors lots of play-off luck.

But while on the subject of Curry,  I decided to fix something curry-ish for dinner and settled on Lamb Kheema (or keema); kheema is basically ground or minced meat.  We’re huge devotees of Indian food and are lucky enough to have Yeti, a great little Indian/Himalayan restaurant about a mile from our teeny Glen Ellen community.

This kheema may have lots of spices, but it can be whipped up pretty quickly (even with making notes about the recipe, I did mine in 30 minutes – but that didn’t count Andy’s cleaning-up-my-mess time or the 15 minutes to simmer it).  The curry could also be made with ground chicken or ground turkey.  You can switch peas for spinach.  Leave out the potatoes.  Add or subtract from the spices.  Serve it with rice or in a wrap of some kind.  Be flexible (easier said than done????).

Lamb Kheema in a Hurry Curry

  • Servings: 3 to 4
  • Print


  • 3 T peanut or vegetable oil (divided)
  • 3 small red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into about 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • 1 T ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 # ground lamb
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c canned tomatoes – crushed or pureed – plus 3/4 cup water (or 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes works too)
  • 2 chopped fresh tomatoes – if tomatoes are in season; omit if they’re not
  • 1/4 c yogurt
  • 1 c frozen peas
  • juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
  • chopped cilantro

Heat 1 T oil in a deep pan until it’s medium hot.  Add the chopped potatoes, turn down the heat a bit, and cook and stir until soft – won’t take more than 5 minutes.  Remove the potatoes from the pan.  Add the rest of the oil; heat until medium hot, then add the cumin seeds followed almost immediately by the onions (so the seeds don’t burn but still have a moment on their own in the hot oil); saute until the onions are soft; add the the garlic, ginger, coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, and garam masala, stir in well, and saute for about 1 more minute.  Add the ground lamb and salt and saute until the lamb is no longer pink – or until it’s cooked.  Add the canned tomatoes and water, the chopped tomatoes, if you’re using them, and bring all to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so, uncovered.  If it appears to get dry-ish, just add a little water.   After it’s simmered,  add the yogurt and frozen peas and previously cooked potatoes and return just to a boil.  Remove from the heat; stir in the lemon juice.  Serve the hurried-curry with the cilantro on top –  either by itself or on rice.

If you’re averse to spiciness, go light on all the spices.  This curry may be even better served the next day; or eat some now and freeze the rest for a meal next week! Recipe brought to you by Big Little Meals and Andy & Ann

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