Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloweens growing up in North Dakota seemed so wonderfully fun.  We usually made our own costumes and I don't remember it ever being unbearably cold like Montana halloweens can be.  I don't really remember having school parties, but I do remember rushing home and trying to hurry mother along with supper so we could have more time to trick or treat.  I don't remember carving jack o lanterns or having any kind of spooky decorations in our house, but we had fun none the less.  I still like carving pumpkins, but I don't do it so much anymore.  Here's a great recipe for savory stuffed pumpkin.  It's a winner!

Savory Stuffed Pumpkin 


  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) sliced mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 large pumpkin (8 to 9 pounds)
  • Vegetable oil


  • In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the soup, mushrooms, soy sauce and brown sugar. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rice and water chestnuts.
  • Wash pumpkin; cut a 6-in. circle around stem. Remove top and set aside. Discard seeds and loose fibers from the inside. Spoon beef mixture into pumpkin; replace top.
  • Place in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Rub oil over outside of pumpkin. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 1-1/2 hours or until pumpkin is tender. Scoop out some pumpkin with each serving of beef mixture. Yield: 6 servings.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kahlua Soaked Grilled Pears a la Mode

Today was one of those beautiful autumn days full of crunching leaves, the smell of wood stoves and rain.  The moon is almost full and my thoughts are turning to simmering soups and hearty casseroles that fill my kitchen with the most comforting aromas.  Autumn brings crisp apples and delicious pears just ripe for baking or munching.  My friend and I recently got together and shared a meal on a Sunday afternoon and found this recipe for Kaluah Soaked Pears.  It turned into a wonderful afternoon of conversation and laughter.  We also watched old movies and complained about our kids.  By the time the pears were ready, we were done solving the problems of the world, and completed a couple crossword puzzles.  Aren't friends the greatest?

Kahlua Soaked Grilled Pears a la Mode


  • 2 pears cored and cut into six slices lengthwise.
  • 1 cup Kahlua
  • ¼ cup rum
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 large cinnamon stick broken into small pieces
  • 6-7 cardamom pods broken
  •  For serving
  •     Pecans
  •     Ice cream of your choice.
  • Method
Mix the Kahlua, rum, sugar and spices in a large bowl and place the pear quarters in the bowl. Mix well so the pears are coated with the liquor. Leave it in the fridge for at least two hours, overnight will be great.
Heat a grill to medium high heat and place the pear slices at an angle, so that it gets diagonal grill marks. Grill for about 3-4 minutes per side, the slices will start to brown and the fruit will get soft.
In the meantime, soak the pecans if using, in the same marinade. Place a slightly greased pan on the stove. When the pan is hot add the pecans and heat them through stirring frequently. Remove when the pecans are brown and toasty.
To serve, arrange 2-4 pear slices in a bowl, place a scoop of ice cream, pour some of the marinade over and top with the pecans.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Turkey Buzzards

For some odd reason, I have grown fond of these huge birds that perch in a tree near the middle school playground.  I love the quizzical tilt of that one bird's head.  It's as if he's trying to figure us out.  In the evenings there can be fifty or more birds sitting around on braches, looking spectacularily spooky.  Until now, I have not been a fan of birds.  Especially after seeing an Alfred Hitchcock movie of birds going crazy.  My mom loved birds, however and saved all kinds of bread scraps to take out to her little feeder.  I think she liked to watch the birds as she did dishes.  Mom was a joyful woman and found all kinds of ways to celebrate little things in life.  I think all us girls have that same kind of joyful spirit.  We often share little things that amuse us.  My story today was discovering halfway through the work day that I had my garden shoes on instead of work shoes.  It wasn't very fashionable, but it sure was comfortable.  I actually was relieved that I had on a matching pair.  I'm sure that will be the next thing.  That did happen to a co-worker a few years ago.  They were the same color, but different heel size.  She wondered all day long why she felt like she was walking funny.  I love moments like those. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

English Tea Party

What a beautiful day for a Tea Party!  Our little town celebrated the twentieth anniversary opening of the Evelyn Cameron Gallery with an old fashioned High Tea.   We were greeted at the door by the Board Members and given a memento 2012 calendar. We were then invited to view the amazing Cameron photos taken in the late 1800s and early 1900s depicting Homestead life, immigrants and cowboys.  We could also view the diary transcriptions and copies of Evelyn's diaries she kept of daily life in Eastern Montana.  The tea party was so much fun.  They had antique silver tea sets and an assortment of savory and sweet items.  There were several kinds of cucumber sandwichs, a scottish bread with orange marmalade, several different kinds of scones and tea infused shortbread.  There were fruit desserts and jams and all kinds of goodness.  Autumn flowers were everywhere and little purple pansies decorated the plates.  The gallery is housed in an old building that was once a pharmacy and drugstore... and in the back, where we ate used to be an old fashioned ice cream parlor.  The elderly couple who invited me to sit with them told me stories about working there as high schoolers and all the shenanigans they pulled to get free sodas.  It was a charming visit.  If you haven't had a chance to read about Evelyn and Ewen Cameron's life, it is worth the read.