Very Easy Fall Brunch Recipe – Plum Pastries

Fall is the time for plums and the time to get inspired to make brunch once the heat of the summer has gone. This is one of the easiest pastry recipes to make, perfect for a dessert-like finish to a delicious brunch.

Plum Pastry


Total time: 40 minutes to thaw dough, 10 minutes to prepare, 30 to 40 minutes to bake.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Ingredients (4 servings)

1 sheet puff pastry

2 plums

4 tsps brown sugar (or white sugar if you don’t have brown)

4 tsps butter

Powdered sugar for topping

Thaw the puff pastry according to the directions. Don’t let it thaw too long or the dough will be difficult to work with. The recommended time is 40 minutes, so plan accordingly.

puff pastry

Cut the dough in half and then each half into half so you have four rectangles. Wash the plums and cut each into 4 pieces.

plum pastry

Place two pieces of plum on each rectangle, top each with 1 tsp sugar then 1 tsp butter. You can estimate the butter and the sugar.  A little more or a little less won’t matter.



Fold the dough over the plums and seal, using a little water on your fingertips to get a good seal. Place on a foil lined baking sheet (some of the juice will leak out and the foil makes it easier to clean.)


Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the bottom is browned and the top is very lightly browned. When cool, sprinkle with powered sugar. Enjoy!

Plum Pastry

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What’s good about August? Morning Glories!


If you can get yourself to plan ahead in the spring, the heat of August won’t seem so bad if you have beautiful blue morning glories to remind you of the blue skies of autumn. I start the morning glories from seed, soaking each seed for about an hour, then nicking the seed coat with a knife to encourage sprouting. Because morning glory plants want to twine as soon as they are more than an inch old, I plant them in individual seed pots and put a wooden barbecue skewer in each pot to give them something to twine around. If you don’t keep a close eye on them, they will twine all around each other and then it becomes impossible to separate them. I like to plant varieties together to give a kaleidoscope of color. The two varieties here are Heavenly Blue and the variegated Flying Saucers.

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Planning for Next Year in the Garden!

I’m afraid my garden went nowhere this year due to some health problems, but with a garden, there’s always hope for next year! I absolutely love this plant stand, fairy house combination. Now I just need to find the right location for it.


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Easy Irish-inspired Menu for St. Patrick’s Day

I love Ireland, though I’ve only been there once. I’m interested in the traditional food in all the places I travel, so I thought I’d come up with simple menu that could also be used at Frostfire Inn on St. Patrick’s Day:

Irish Brown Bread

Traditional Irish Potato and Fresh Herb Soup


Roasted Root vegetables

irishbrownbreadIrish Brown Bread

Note – The traditional recipes don’t have any sweetening ingredients in them, but I added just a touch with the molasses. You don’t taste the sweetness, but I think it enhances the flavors.

1 1/8 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon molasses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and put it on the center oven rack.

Combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt.

Add butter, buttermilk and molasses and stir together.

Turn out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead gently, until the dough forms a smooth ball.

Shape into a ball and then flatten so the bread is about 2-2 1/2 inches high in the center

Use a sharp serrated knife to slice a cross deeply into the top of the bread, about 1-inch deep. (Supposedly cutting a cross in the bread let the devils escape! I’m not sure why devils would hide in bread, but it adds a bit of interest. I suspect cooks actually did it to make sure the bread cooked enough in the center without making the outside edges overdone.)

Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the loaf is firm on top and when you tap the bottom, feels hollow. Let cool and serve with lots of butter! Serves 4


Traditional Irish Potato and Fresh Herb Soup

2 Tbsp. butter

1/2 large onion, diced

4 white or yellow potatoes, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (parsley, thyme, lemon balm, chives, marjoram-any combination)

3 cups water or chicken stock

4 oz milk or to taste (I used whole milk)

Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the onions and potatoes and toss them in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Add the water or stock and cook until the vegetables are soft. Purée the soup in a blender or food processor or mash with a potato masher. Taste and adjust seasoning. Thin with milk to the required consistency. Serve sprinkled with the chopped herbs. Serves 4


Roasted Root Vegetables 

I love roasted root vegetables and they are very easy to make. The secret to an excellent dish is to use plenty of onions and to cook at a high heat. By the end of the cooking time, some of the vegetables may have blackened parts-that’s fine. It just adds to the flavor.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

1 large onion, sliced

8 carrots, scrubbed and peeled if necessary, cut in half

3 parsnips, scrubbed and cut to similar size as carrots

5 small potatoes, cut in half

1/4 cup olive oil


Line a baking sheet with foil. Toss vegetables with olive oil and salt. Spread on baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Timing depends on size of vegetable pieces, so keep an eye on them for the last part of the roasting process. Serves 4 with leftovers


Broiled Salmon

Poached Salmon would be more traditional, but I think the flavor of broiled salmon is a little better.

1 to 1 1/2 pounds Salmon

olive oil

Salt and Pepper

6 tbsp. butter, melted, (optional)

Line baking sheet with foil, cut salmon into 4 pieces, skin, brush with oil oil and sprinkle a little salt and pepper on each piece. Broil until fish flakes in the middle, about 10 minutes, though keep a close eye on the cooking process. Serve with melted butter. Serves 4

To time this for minimum time in the kitchen, make the bread first. While the bread is baking, prepare the vegetables for roasting. When the bread is done, put vegetables in the oven, then prepare soup. While the soup is simmering, prepare the salmon on the pan so that it can go in the oven as soon as the vegetables are done. The vegetables can be reheated if necessary, though if you take them out of the oven and cover them with foil, they will stay hot for quite a while.


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Gardening 2014 – California Poppies


Jelly Bean California Poppies

I love poppies of all kinds. There is just something about the papery colorful petals on the flowers and their simple look that really appeals to me. Over the years I’ve had varying levels of success growing California poppies, Eschscholzia californica.

Like many gardeners, I’m always trying to grow plants that aren’t native or suited to my particular region. I have friends in California who think California poppies are like weeds, but to me, they are beautiful flowers.

Copper Pot

Copper Pot

I do know they grow best when sown where they are to remain. They are very hard to transplant, because their drought tolerance comes from the tap root they put down, and moving them from a peat pot or a seed tray often results in damaging the fragile young roots. I read a tip I’m going to try this year- sow them earlier than recommended, about the time you would sow radish seeds in northern climates.  I’ve ordered the two beautiful varieties above and will sow them by the end of March. We’ll see what happens! Keep your fingers crossed.

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A Lament for a Lost Kindle


Update: Kindle is found! My husband found it down in a slipcover on the sofa in my office. (He’s a good guy.)

I am sad, and since my sad face is nowhere nearly as cute as this pug’s sad face, he’s representing how I feel. I cannot find my Kindle anywhere, though I have looked in every logical place. Illogical places too. I’ve been known to absentmindedly put things in the freezer, so I looked there. No Kindle is chilling with the cookie dough ice cream. This loss has made me realize two big drawbacks to ereaders. First, the silly things are so small and thin, they could be easily put down and not so easily found. I lose books too, but they just take up more physical space, so I usually track them down. The second drawback is that I’ve not just lost one book, I’ve lost a hundred. It’s as if a bookshelf in my house just got up and left me.

I realize I’m also upset because I’ve become very attached to the idea that I can do an emergency book purchase from my own home. When insomnia or nightmares hit, I can reach for my Kindle and find a new book right then. It’s become my security blanket. I grew up in a house without a lot of books, in a town without a bookstore, and when I was too young, a library I couldn’t get to on my own. I still have a lingering fear of lack of books, which may not be something Lucy from Peanuts ever labeled as a syndrome, but trust me, it’s real. So I’ll make it through tonight with some old favorite books near by, but tomorrow, I’m off to buy a new ereader. I think I’ll attach one of the those devices you put on your keys to find them, something that will beep at me, so we will never be parted.

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Valentine’s Day Pink Velvet Cupcake Recipe

pinkvelvetcupcakeI’ve shared a one hundred year old red velvet cake recipe in FROSTFIRE INN as a Valentine’s Day specialty in the restaurant, but I decided to adapt the recipe for another type of treat, which is a little less time-consuming to make and has a more modern cake taste.

For 12 cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tins by either greasing the pans or using paper sleeves.

Cream these ingredients together, adding food coloring a drop at a time to get your preferred color:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

red food coloring

In a separate bowl, mix:

2 cups flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Blend the liquid with the dry ingredients

When everything else is ready and oven is at the right temperature, combine in a small glass bowl:

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. white vinegar

Add to batter and quickly put batter into muffin tins, bake 17 to 20 minutes.

When cooled, frost with white frosting and add additional chocolate chips if desired. Some people use cream cheese frosting with red velvet cake, but I find it overpowers the delicate taste of the cupcakes, so I prefer a regular white frosting. Enjoy!

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