Tag Archives: An Unlikely Culinary Column

An Unlikely Culinary Column: All Things Peppermint

I often refer to my old standby recipes for holiday sweets but this year I wanted to try something new. I have never really cooked with peppermint and have never made Biscotti, so, of course, I had to give it a whirl. I must add, while making Biscotti was a bit time consuming, it is a simple recipe to follow. I definitely will make this again.

Just a warning… the other two recipes are very sweet. I knew when I found them they would be rich, but as they say, “A little dab will do ya!” I really enjoyed cooking this pepperminty theme. I think each of these sweet treats will go perfectly with your afternoon tea.

Thank you to those who have been giving me great recipe ideas, I am working on a few fabulous dishes. Have a great holiday season folks.


CulinaryPeppermint8-webPeppermint Biscotti



¾ Cup Butter softened

¾ Cup Sugar

3 Eggs

2 Teaspoons peppermint extract

3 ¼ Cups all-purpose flour

1 Teaspoon baking powder

¼ Teaspoon salt

1 Cup crushed peppermint candies


2 Cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

2 Tablespoons shortening

½  Cup crushed peppermint candies

(In lieu of making your own frosting you can use Dolci Frutta hard chocolate shell.)


In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extract. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir in peppermint candy. Gradually add to creamed mixture, beating until blended (dough will be stiff).

Divide dough in half. On an ungreased baking sheet, shape each portion into a 12-in. x 2½-in. rectangle. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully remove to wire racks; cool for 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board; cut diagonally with a sharp knife into ½-inch slices. Place cut side down on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until firm. Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Drizzle (or brush) over biscotti; sprinkle with candy. Place on waxed paper until set. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 3½ dozen Read More

An Unlikely Culinary Column: Falling in Love With Fall

It is officially one year since we have moved to Halfway. We are thrilled to be part of this community and have learned much in this first year. I am falling in love with fall and all of its beauty and gifts. Our neighbors have blessed us with a large basket of pears and here are some of the recipes that I have enjoyed.

One of my old time favorites is Poached Pears in Red Wine. This is the simplest desert I have ever made. It is decadent and when topped with cream your guests will think that you have gone to a great effort. Any kind of red wine works. Leaving the pears, vanilla and wine simmering for hours will fill up your home with a lovely aroma. This is the perfect desert for having company.

As a California girl making Apple Butter has always sounded romantic. I have made it twice before but find myself never eating it. I tried making Pear Butter for the first time this year and realized that I prefer Pear Butter to almost any fruit that I have canned. This recipe is simple and uses honey instead of sugar so there is no guilt when you eat it alone or put it on EVERYTHING!

For those of you who are eating sugar, chocolate and nuts, this is a fun recipe that you will want to share simply to keep from eating the entire batch yourself. I found this a bit messy but definitely delicious. The temperature of the caramel is key, testing it in a glass of ice water is the best way to ensure that you get the perfect texture. Be patient, mine should have been cooked longer but I didn’t hear anyone complaining.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and an abundance of pears, and as always, please let me know what you are cooking.


Poached Pears In Red Wine


•  4 Pears, skinned, halved and the seeds

scooped out  (using a small melon ball

scoop makes it easy)

•  ¾ Bottle of red wine, more if needed

•  ¾ Cup sugar

•  Vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla

•  Heavy cream Read More

An Unlikely Culinary Column: Fresh Blackberry Deliciousness

Culinary-Blackberry-webMy first year of picking fresh berries has been an adventure in harvesting and cooking. Blackberries proved to be equally as rewarding. I am not going to complain about my stained fingers and scraped hands and legs. Those luscious berries filled with healthy antioxidants are simply delicious and I would like to have as many stored in my freezer as I can, for all kinds of delicious treats. 

Blintzes are one of those decadent dishes that I have only ever eaten at a restaurant. They are rich in flavor and just eating one is fully satisfying. After I made the crepes recipe….twice, I was encouraged to try Blintzes, it was my gateway recipe to attempting to make this delicate crepe filled with ricotta and topped with the most delicious syrup I have ever made. There is no hiding the calorie and sugar content, not to mention the effort that is needed to make this dish. I would suggest you try this recipe; it is great for any special occasion. Blintzes are not difficult by any means but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that it takes a bit of effort.  Read More

An Unlikely Culinary Column: Healthy Klondike Bars

For years I have been taking pictures of people living with disabilities.  I also like to cook, but I never thought I would be taking photos of food and writing a column for the local paper.

It is funny how life has led me in an unlikely direction. The last three years, I have been traveling around the US and Singapore, talking to families who live with unique (disabled) children. I am always meeting wonderful people who inspire me. I love taking photos and making videos of individuals doing amazing things no matter their ability. With the help of the Mac Store I designed my own website and began editing and sharing videos of people living a unique life experience. My daughter Lorrin was born in 1994; she was vaccine injured at six weeks of age. The vaccine gave her severe brain damage leaving her body a train wreck but her soul powerful. Lorrin died in 2009, and I have been trying to figure out what I will be when I grow up ever since. Writing a food column was not anywhere in my sights.

During Lorrin’s life I stayed home and focused on cooking healthy and healing meals. I learned much about how important it was to eat fresh and local. I focused on nutrition to keep my daughter healthy, but it was equally as important that I stay healthy too. I love to eat and I love to cook, and experiment with new recipes combining my favorite foods.

My husband and I moved from the Los Angeles area to a small town of 300 in Eastern Oregon called Halfway. My niece Mackenzie Kero and her husband just bought their first home in Vernonia. Each time we visit I think maybe we should have moved here. I love Vernonia and it is an honor to be a part of the local paper. I hope my recipes inspire you to explore new foods. I look forward to sharing with you and would love to hear what you are cooking.

Healthy-Klondike-Bars-Dairy-free-5-webHealthy Klondike Bars – Dairy Free

A big trend in today’s diet is called the Paleo way of eating. It is referred to as a caveman diet; if a caveman couldn’t eat it, neither can you. This includes eating meat, fish, nuts, leafy greens, veggies, fruit and seeds, omitting pasta, cereal and candy. You don’t’ have to keep track of how much you eat or count calories. The thought is that our bodies have not adjusted to eating so many grains and today’s diets are full of grains. As obesity remains an ongoing battle I was excited to try a paleo, vegan sweet dessert.

The weather is heating up and providing healthy choices for summer snacks will be in demand. Who doesn’t have that childhood memory of eating ice cream in the summer? Here is my version of a Klondike Bar, it is easy to make, healthy and delicious. I think you will find your kiddo’s sweet tooth fully satisfied and have them asking for more.

Healthy Klondike Bars

Dairy Free



Line a casserole sized pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a blender combine the ice cream ingredients; blend until they are well combined. Pour the batter into the lined dish. Place in a freezer until the ice cream is frozen solid, 4-6 hours. Remove the pan from the freezer and pull out the cream via the parchment paper. Using a solid knife cut the ice cream into 8 squares, then return to the freezer while you prepare the chocolate mixture. Whisk together the melted coconut oil, and cocoa powder and maple syrup, breaking up the clumps. You can add more cocoa powder for a darker chocolate flavor or more maple for sweeter chocolate. Spoon the chocolate mixture over each ice cream bar, making sure to coat all sides evenly. Place the bars once they are coated on a plate lined with parchment paper and put back in the freezer. Once each bar is covered store in a sealed container in the freezer until you are ready to serve. Enjoy!


Vanilla Ice Cream Bars:

•  2 Cans light coconut milk

•  1/4 Cup melted coconut oil

•  4 Tablespoons honey

•  2 Tablespoons maple syrup

•  1 1/2 Vanilla extract

Chocolate Coating:

•  13 Tablespoons cocoa powder

•  8 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

•  1/2 Cup maple syrup