Food Memories – Uncle Lorne’s Buckeyes

Chocolate Coated

Jamie Oliver Is Not My Boyfriend, according to Melanie, who runs the site.  She says, “I have a little bit of an unhealthy obsession with Jamie Oliver.  Namely his accent, his easy-peasy recipes and the fact that he is pretty darned cute to look at.  But don’t let that fool you…Jamie Oliver is Not My Boyfriend. In fact, I don’t even know Jamie aside from his books and specials!  But let me preface this blog by saying that if Jamie Oliver WAS my boyfriend, well, I wouldn’t have to do any of the cooking..but I’d bake for him instead and look cute in an apron.”

How can you not love this woman? Especially when she pairs up Lemon Cookies and Led Zeppelin? And when she’s not expressing her inner foodie, Melanie is talking about this, that, and the other thing over at Feminine Wiles & Urban Survival 101.  Lord, she’s a busy woman.  Fortunately, when I asked if she would be interested in participating in the Food Memories project, she didn’t hesitate to say yes.  Because she has the most beautiful example of how we weave people, places, and food into the landscape of our memories.  Here, I’ll let her tell you about it. Continue reading “Food Memories – Uncle Lorne’s Buckeyes”

Food Memories – What My Mother Ate


Baltimore Blogger, Kathy, better known as The Minx, writes about food, dining, restaurants, and Top Chef at Minx Eats.  She is also a gifted story teller who kindly shared the following Food Memory.  She said, “Took me a while to think of a good recipe to send you. I realized that I really don’t have any family recipes – my grandmother never showed me how to cook, and my mother made stuff up as she went along. That’s the way I cook too. Instead, my piece is heavy on  memory and short on recipe – hope that’s ok.”  Absolutely, because really, it’s all about the memories.

What My Mother Ate

If my mother ate it, I ate it. No matter how weird it seemed, I trusted her taste – with the exception of two things: SPAM and Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies.

I grew up in a Polish-American household. My maternal grandparents emigrated from Russian-occupied Poland to the U.S. in the early 1900s. Here, as in their home land, their families were poor; they ate what they could get and passed the value of snout-to-tail eating on to their US-born children.

Sausages, ground-up oddments stuffed into intestines, are a big part of the Polish diet. In our house, every major holiday was celebrated with a grand meal of kapusta i kielbasy, or sauerkraut with fresh Polish sausage. The garlicky fresh kielbasa was delicious, but I especially loved the rare treat of kiszka, or blood sausage, that Grandma would tuck into the basket we took to Church for blessing on Easter Saturday. Kiszka has a livery flavor and granular texture (with the occasional bit of bone) that may not be appealing to most people, but my mother ate it, and so did I, from a young age.

Mom seemed proud that I wouldn’t hesitate to try anything if I saw her enjoying it first. She liked to tell a story about the first time I tried scrambled eggs. Until that point, my favorite way of eating eggs was either poached or over-easy, both methods resulting in a lovely dippable egg yolk. We called these “matsu eggs” because I couldn’t pronounce the Polish word for smear, which is “mazać.” One morning, when I was about two or three, Mom decided to switch things up and make scrambled eggs. In a perhaps not-so-rare fit of pique, I stalked off, refusing to touch them. Mom fixed herself a plate and began to eat, making “yum yum” noises but otherwise pretending to ignore me. Curiosity eventually got the cat and I was soon standing at her elbow, feigning nonchalance but secretly wanting a taste of whatever it was that made Mom so happy. After that taste, I was on her lap, finishing the rest of her scrambled eggs.

Most weekends, the smell of chicken soup, or rosół z kury, drifted from Grandma’s downstairs kitchen to our third-floor apartment. When I was very small, I remember her need to hand-pick her chicken, which she did at the “chicken choker” (I am not making that up) at the “Jewish Market,” a stretch of Lombard Street that housed a live poultry market as well as Attman’s, Jack’s, and various other purveyors of Jewish delicacies. I was never allowed to accompany her when she went on these trips with my Dad because: 1) the shock of seeing a chicken beheaded might be too much for me; 2) the area surrounding the market was known as a “bad neighborhood.”  But I was definitely allowed to eat as much of the resulting soup as I wanted, which due to the frequency of its preparation usually wasn’t a whole lot. I’m still not a big fan of chicken soup, but I do love chicken, especially the weird bits. Mom and I would each try to be the first person to find and eat the stiff ridge of cartilage from the breast bone (chrząstka). Of course that was also Grandma’s favorite part, so we had to share with her if we were eating in her kitchen. Another chicken bit we loved was something we called the ogonek (little tail). It was probably an internal organ, but I have never found this particular part in a fowl of any sort since childhood. It had a slightly livery flavor and a somewhat “bouncy” texture. As you can probably tell from our name for it, we liked to imagine it was, um, an external organ.

Grandma also made beef soup fairly regularly. Although I liked it better than I liked rosół, the only part that excited me was the szpik, or marrow. Mom would smear a blob of szpik on a slice of buttered rye bread from Levin’s bakery and I would be in heaven. Sometimes all of the marrow escaped from the bones into the soup, which was a huge disappointment at suppertime. Often there was only a single bone still hanging onto its fatty filling so we split it four ways; szpik was one treat my younger brother also enjoyed.

My love for bone marrow was my dark little secret until I was in my late 20s, when I was astonished to read that it had been one of Queen Victoria’s favorite snacks. Even the rich ate what the middle class probably fed to the dogs! Now fancy restaurants serve the stuff as if it were the cow’s answer to caviar. Landmarc, in Manhattan, serves bone marrow with bread and onion marmalade for the princely sum of $14. You can make it at home yourself far less expensively – a package of marrow bones costs about $2 in most supermarkets.

Roasted Bone Marrow

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place marrow bones, cut side up, in a roasting pan or an oven-safe skillet. Cook for 15 minutes or until the marrow starts to separate from the bone – if the marrow starts to leak out, you’ve cooked it too long!

Spread marrow on crusty bread, sprinkle with salt, and enjoy!

{printable recipe}

Food Memories – The Last Brownie

Semi Homemade

Dara Bunjon is the woman behind the Baltimore Dining Examiner and Dara Does It.  She’s got her finger on the pulse of the food industry from PR to food styling to cooking instructions.  This post originally appeared on the BDE.  Many thanks to Dara for sharing…although I still don’t know what I would say to get the last brownie.

What Would You Say Or Do To Get The Last Brownie?

I don’t know why but my post have been a bit, not earth shattering thought provoking of late with Sandwiches cut diagonal or across – point and counter point, If you could choose just one cookbook and today’s question,  What would you say or do to get the last brownie? I’m not sure what has sparked my introspective meanderings but alas they are here.

To answer the question proffered, I go back to the scene in the movie Notting Hill and think a group of friends around the table, and then I think about the friends. Recently I have been dining a lot with media folks so these are who I first pictured in my scenario and think no,  they are very cognizant of their weight and would split the brownie equally or just manage one bite each.

Time to picture another group of friends and these friends are ones who are indulgent when it comes to food. I would have to be clever, manipulative and sharp – traits not high on my skill level but let’s give it a go. I will blame it on my dear mother, may she rest in peace, who would bribe me as a child with $10 if I could gain 10 pounds in a year.  That this brownie will bring me to the 10 pound mark for the year and with my ten spot I would make them my delicious five spice brownies for the next gathering. Option 2: As a child  being vertically challenged I always had difficulty reaching the counter top to get the cookies and brownies and my arms weren’t long enough to reach them on the table – I was deprived as a child. Hell, I’m just not that clever. Why don’t you have a go at it!  ( Related Story: Memories from my yout )

Five Spice Brownies

BAH Note:  These are some powerful brownies.  I made them to thank our neighbors who had come to our rescue with candles and dry ice during a power outage.  Of course, having to test them for quality control, the first batch never made it out of the house.  So a second box of Ghiradelli brownie mix was picked up at the store and transformed with a bit of orange zest and five spice powder.  It just so happened to be a snowy Saturday when batch number two finally made it next door.  And would you believe that when The Mistah and I went outside to shovel, the neighbors had already cleared the sidewalk in front of our house.  Now, I can’t guarantee that these brownies will have the same power with your neighbors, but it can’t hurt to try.  As Dara said when I related my neighborly story to her, “Simple is good at times.”  I couldn’t agree more.

  • 1 box of Brownie Mix
  • 1 orange finely zested (Microplane works great)
  • ½ teaspoon of Chinese five spice powder (even McCormick makes this-not hard to find)

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and follow the box directions.

{printable recipe}

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Food Memories – Mofongo

My Mofongo

Christine of Christine Can Cook provided this Food Memory.  She said, “Mofongo is a typical Puerto-Rican dish. It’s not something my family made growing up, it was more of a special dish to be had at restaurants and ordered for special occasions. It definitely isn’t an everyday meal- it can be super heavy and starchy and needs to be fried to enjoy the crispy textures. However, it’s one of my favorite meals and is extremely versatile. It can be done with stewed chicken, beef, vegetables, or as I made it here, with shrimp.” Continue reading “Food Memories – Mofongo”

Food Memories – Jan’s Cheesecake


My father got remarried when I was about 12.  When he introduced my brother and I to his girlfriend, we called her Miss Jan.  Then, after they got married, I just called her Jan.  I think it was the first time that I called an adult by their first name.  Everyone was always Mister or Miss.  To this day, I still fall into that habit.

When I sent out the request for Food Memories, Jan said:

It has to be a cheesecake from me.  I have baked them for years for anyone’s birthday where I worked.  At Stryker, Michael & Bill fought over them.  They didn’t want to share them with anyone. Michael didn’t.  Even jerky Scott loved them.  At Tri-County Gas, Gary drooled over them.  At Garrison Forest School, they fought over them.

I often say that you don’t need a special occasion to make special recipes.  But sometimes, you really do.  Like Jan’s Cheesecake.  Because if you’re going to bust out the cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream, you better have a bunch of people helping you to polish off the results.

Like Jan said, I love them………but my hips don’t!

Jan’s Cheesecake

BAH Note: When you  add the melted butter to the graham cracker crumbs and sugar, it will seem dry, like it won’t hold together.  I promise you it will.  If you don’t believe me, I’ll give you Jan’s phone number and you can call her like I did just to make sure.  You’ll want to use your fingers to really combine the butter with the crumbs.  Sometimes it’s nice to get your hands dirty.

Also, when you press the crust into your pan, use whatever method you are most comfortable with.  Some people use the bottom of a glass.  I used the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan.  So what if the bottom of my crust was stamped with Calphalon?  It was a perfect fit and gave me a nice, even crust.

Finally, Jan mentioned not to overmix the batter or else the cake is more likely to crack.  I think I should have mixed the cream cheese and sugar a little better before I added the eggs because there were a number of cream cheese lumps in my final batter.  The top still cracked on me anyway so what’s the difference?


  • 1 cup of Graham crackers crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter- melted


  • 3- 8 ounce packages of Cream Cheese
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 eggs


  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Combine crust ingredients in a medium bowl until moist and press into the bottom of a 9” spring form pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.  Reduce your oven temperature to 300 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine your softened cream cheese, sugar, juice and zest, mixing until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Pour mixture over crust.  Bake at 300 degrees for 55 minutes.

Combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla.  Carefully spread over cheesecake.  Continue baking for 10 minutes.  Take a knife and go around the edge of the cake.  Then let it cool before removing the rim of the pan.

Refrigerate overnight and it is ready to serve!

{Printable Recipe}

Food Memories – Aunt Jeanie and Mom’s Pancakes

Best Damn Pancakes

I can’t say enough wonderful things about this Food Memory contributor.  Josey has been my pal longer than I can remember.  She knew me during those awkward adolescent years, and doesn’t hold it against me.  Yes, I may have been a willing participant in the hijinks but SHE was the one that got us kicked out of the library.  To this day, I’ll never understand how it came across that I was the bad influence.

That moment aside, we balanced each others personalities.  I was loud and hasty, rash and a wee bit reckless.  She was quiet and thoughtful, focused and more reserved.  And we both were addicted to watching the Solid Gold Dancers.  We usually did it while on the phone together so that we could accurately critique the gold lame, big hair, and Marilyn McCoo.  See what I said about not holding my past against me?  Not only is she forgiving like that, she’s a superb story teller with her own blog (when she gets around to writing), an excellent travel companion when you decide to throw caution to the wind and fly across the Atlantic because you need to shake things up, and she’s got a recipe for the Best Damn Pancakes I’ve Ever Eaten.  I’ll let her tell you about them. Continue reading “Food Memories – Aunt Jeanie and Mom’s Pancakes”

Food Memories – Creamy Vegetable Soup


This Food Memory is from Joanne of Inspired Taste.  She sent me the recipe right before Thanksgiving, which was inspired because I needed a serious infusion of vegetables into my diet after pigging out on turkey day.  This soup was easy to fix which was exactly what I needed on what turned out to be a busy day in the kitchen.  Thanks Joanne for helping to lighten my load. Continue reading “Food Memories – Creamy Vegetable Soup”

Food Memories – Peasant Style Pork Chops

Peasant Style Pork Chops
Today’s Food Memory is courtesy of my pal Jim.  I think it is a perfect example of how food can help us keep alive the memory of those that we loved and lost.  I love you Jim and I like to believe that every time you make this dish, your dad is there sitting at the table with you.

Peasant Style Pork Chops

OK – here’s the story.  When my mom was sick back in the late 80’s, my dad HAD to learn how to cook, so he found all sorts of recipes that he experimented with ALL of the time.  Some sucked…and others would be INCREDIBLE!  This was my favorite.

EVERY time I would come home for dinner from college or even after I moved out and came home, this was the dinner he made.  My mom found the recipe about a year after he died.  I now make it with such FOND memories of the greatest man I ever knew.

John Hoyas’ Peasant Style Pork Chops

BAH Note: Jim didn’t specify bone in or boneless chops so I used thick cut, boneless loin chops.  I had to ask him about Irish potatoes and he said, “I think they are smaller than Idaho but larger than red. I’ve just used Idaho myself and then you only need two big ones.”  I used golden mushroom soup instead of plain cream of mushroom.  But that’s just me, I’m a golden girl.  And yes, you should expect that anything that has a can of cream soup and 1 1/2 cups of sour cream is going to be rich.

  • 4 loin or shoulder pork chops
  • flour
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • 4 Irish potatoes, sliced (we like to leave on the peel)
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom (or for me he would always use cream of celery!!) soup
  • 1/2 tsp of dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Trim excess fat from chops and roll in flour.  Brown chops and garlic in small amount of oil over medium heat.  Season with salt and pepper.

Place potatoes in a 13×9 inch casserole dish.  Top with chops.  Separate onion slice into rings and arrange over chops.

Blend sour cream, soup, salt and mustard.  Pour over potatoes, chops, and onions.  Cover with foil and bake 1 1/2 hours @ 350.  Add 1/2 hour @ higher altitudes!!

{printable recipe}

Food Memories – Gramma Rhetta’s Lemon Bars

Gramma Rhetta's Lemon Bars

Today’s food memory comes from Dana of The Kitchen Witch.  If it weren’t for the fact that I live in Bawlmer and she lives somewhere in Colorado, I would swear that we’re twins.  Because not only do we manage to somehow share a brain across a continent, we both luv lemon and have a special place in our hearts for our Grandmother.

This post originally appeared on The Kitchen Witch on 20 July 2009.  My thanks to Dana for sharing her story, and her memory of Sassybritches.  She sounds like one feisty lady I would have liked to have known. Continue reading “Food Memories – Gramma Rhetta’s Lemon Bars”

Food Memories – Fried Doughnuts

Sugar Coated

Today’s Food Memories installment is from my sister in law.  It’s a perfect example of how our Food Memories can be of something old or something new.  Or a little of both.  She says:

“I make these for the kids and our guests at the lake; what a treat.  Fried with just the powdered sugar topping reminds me of Bockers that my mom used to make us when we were little.  Gotta love that junk food.” Continue reading “Food Memories – Fried Doughnuts”