Monthly Archives: June 2013

Fresh Cherry Cobbler

cherryThe garden is still producing, and the fruit and nut trees are starting to offer up their goodness, too! Daughter Number 4 and I spent some more time in my parents’ yard and garden over the weekend. The dwarf cherry tree was full of ripe fruit! We took to picking the cherries and realized we might need some additional hands. Daughters Two and Three helped with the picking, too. Even a dwarf tree kept some of the fruit far above our reach from the ground. A step ladder helped us get a few more. We filled a fairly large tub full of the sour cherries.

Now that we had all of these cherries, we had to decide what to do with them. It seemed that almost everything we wanted to make out of cherries required us to pit them. Growing up in a small Kansas town where people still grow vegetable gardens and have fruit and nut trees on their property I had heard many times how horrible pitting cherries is. Having never dealt with fresh cherries before, I do not own a cherry pitter. I did a bit of online research and read many accounts that echoed what the older women in my community said about cherry pitting. It sounded like the pits. So, I read a little more and found some nifty sounding tips to easier cherry pitting. I decided to try the method that I read using drinking straws. Just put the tip of the straw on the stem end of the cherry and push gently. The pit came right out the bottom! Beautiful! I enlisted the help of the girls to pit cherries with me and we made quick work of the bulk of the cherries. I gave over six cups (pits in) to one of my brothers.

I used some of the cherries to make a cobbler and froze the rest. That was also very easy. I just laid the pitted and cleaned cherries on a baking sheet (or three) and popped them into the freezer. After 8 hours the cherries were frozen and I could put them into freezer bags! They are ready for me to use anytime, and the work is already done!

Fresh Cherry Cobbler

1/2 cup butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
3 cups fresh pitted sour cherries
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter in a 9×13 inch baking dish, and place in the oven to melt while the oven is preheating. Remove as soon as butter has melted. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and baking powder. Mix in the milk until well blended, pour the batter into the pan over the butter. Do not stir.
Place cherries in the mixing bowl, and gently toss with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour. Distribute the cherry mixture evenly over the batter without stirring.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm alone or topped with ice cream.
Adapted from
Everyone loved this amazing fresh cobbler. We took some in to share with my dad so he could enjoy the cherries off of his tree. He really liked it, and got a little bit irritated with my mom when she was trying to take bites, too!

I am thrilled to have spent the time with my girls’ dong something productive, using the fresh fruit that my parents’ tree provided and sharing with my family. I’m also glad that I didn’t let any of the things I had heard about pitting fresh cherries deter me from what turned out to be truly rewarding.

I hope you take the opportunity to pit some cherries and enjoy them – just a little bit from me, to you!

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Posted by on June 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Home Grown Goodness

I spent this morning walking through my parents’ garden with Daughter Number Four and my mother. One of my brothers had planted a nice variety of vegetables and some of them were looking really good. Three of the four cabbages he planted were big and beautiful. The beets looked ready to harvest, too. We picked some ripe cherries and looked at the not quite ripe apricots. The tomatoes and peppers are blossoming, but definitely have some time before they’re ready.

A few hours later my brother came and had picked the cabbages and pulled the beets. He gave me some beets and a cabbage. I decided that was going to be dinner. I thought about how I could cook the beets and cabbage and what I could make with it. I had some frozen peel-on shrimp in the freezer. It sounded like a good combination. It isn’t overly hot today so I decided to roast the veggies and boil the shrimp. I served the shrimp over the roasted vegetables topped with a Marie Rose sauce. It turned out fabulously! Daughter number four LOVED it. The other girls were not as fond of it, and the Hubs was less impressed than I was, but enjoyed parts of it. He did say he prefers his beets pickled and thought the sauce was too spicy.

Roasted Beets and Cabbage with Shrimp

  • 1 head cabbage, cut into bite size chunks
  • 6 beets, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon Sweet Chili Sauce
  • ½ Tablespoon ketchup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with the olive oil and sea salt until coated. Spread the vegetables onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and flip vegetables over. Bake for 15 more minutes and check for doneness. I like my roasted vegetables a little crisp. If needed bake another 10-15 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, place a pot of water on the stove to boil. When the water comes to a boil add the shrimp and cook for 3 minutes until light pink. Drain immediately so they do not overcook.

In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, chili sauce and ketchup. Stir until smooth.

Plate the vegetables, top with shrimp and sauce. Enjoy!

I have to say that it is very rewarding to cook a meal using the foods grown in your own (or your family’s) garden and know that it is 100% organic and 100% delicious!



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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Father’s Day 2013


In honor of Father’s Day, I am sharing what I believe to be the first “Orts of Sorts” column written by my father, Merle Bird, in March 1985.


This being a food column, the occasion might arise when it would be appropriate to mince words. Or, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. But by way of explaining the name, orts are bits of food. Leftovers, as it were. It’s all grist to my mill.

Microwave ovens are handy, but they need to be used with care. The dairy folks recently circulated a piece that discouraged processing of milk in a microwave.

A microwave treatment for milk has been developed by Dr. Gertrude Armbruster of Cornell University. But, the dairy folks warn, consumers who attempt to process their own milk for added shelf life will need to meet the strict standards of cleanliness and temperature control outlined at Cornell if they are to avoid potential health problems.

The National Live Stock and Meat Board has several suggestion for promoting even heating of meat products:

Shape ground meat patties and loaves like a doughnut, with a hole in the center of the formed meat.

Overlap or “shingle” meat slices from “fully-cooked” ham and pre-cooked roasts.

Arrange uniform meat shapes such as meat patties, meatballs or sausage links in a circle. When microwaving bone-in steaks and chops, place the bone and tail section toward the center, the meatier portion toward the outside of the dish.

Use sauces and seasonings on top of chops and steaks to add color and to keep the meat moist.

Pierce skinless sausage products to allow steam to escape and prevent bursting.

Shield edges of roasts, or projections that may overcook, with small pieces of foil.

Collect meat drippings in microwave-safe utensils. Use a trivet or rack for roasts or bacon, or a colander for ground beef, over a glass container.

Cover meat or enclose in cooking bags when it is necessary to use the steam for tenderizing, to prevent evaporative cooing, to keep the food moist, to shorten the cooking time or to help prevent spattering.

Rotate meat a quarter or half turn during cooking.


Sebastiani Vineyards contributed a recipe for making vinegar from wine. According to Vicki Sebastiani, wine cookery writer and wife of winemaker Sam J. Sebastiani, all that is needed is table wine, a vinegar “starter” and a clean crock or wine bottle that will hold at least half a gallon.

Starter can be purchased from beer and winemaking supply stores or can be ordered from Beer and Winemaking Supplies Inc., 154 King Street Northampton, Mass. 01060 or Wine and the People, Inc., 907 University Ave., Berkley, Calif. 94710.

The container should be two-thirds full of a mixture that is two parts wine, one part water and one part starter. The container should be covered with gauze, cheesecloth or clean nylon hosiery and held tightly in place with a rubber band or wire.

The vinegar in the making should be kept near a stove or water heater so the temperature hovers somewhere between 68 degrees and 90 degrees.

If vinegar is periodically removed and the batch replenished with wine the vinegar will continue to make.

Red wines under five years old, because of their fruitiness, make more interesting vinegars than older wines.

Vicki Sebastiani steeps such herbs as dill, tarragon, rosemary, basil, thyme, garlic and oregano in her vinegars.

Homemade vinegars are useable in cooking, but may have insufficient acidity to be used as a preservative in canning.


La Difference, a publication of Food and Wines from France, contained much of interest about mushrooms in a recent issue.

The Japanese have cultivated shiitake for at least 2,000 years, according to La Difference, but the ants have been mushroom cultivators far longer than that.

Times have changed just a bit since 1985. The microwave cooking information is very enlightening, although I do not believe I will be cooking meat in the microwave anytime soon. I did enjoy the information about making vinegar. I might have to try that myself someday. Oh, and I will leave the mushroom growing to the ants.


I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane, to read the beginnings of the original “Orts of Sorts” and to celebrate Father’s Day with me.



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Posted by on June 16, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Mac and Cheese with Roasted Vegetables

My heartfelt apologies for being gone for so long, and being so hit and miss. These last few months, after my dad’s stroke, have been so hard. He has been such an integral part of my life and although he isn’t gone, he isn’t here.

I have stepped back from cooking some, choosing to spend more time with my dad in the care facility. I am only cooking about one new thing per week. My most recent choice was something that I found on Pinterest on re-worked just a bit. It was so incredibly good that it will make its way into my regular rotation of recipes. Here is the link to the original recipe.

I made a few changes and this is what I ended up with.

Mac and Cheese with Roasted Vegetables

  • ½ cup broccoli florets, finely chopped
  • ½ cup cauliflower, finely chopped
  • ½ red pepper, diced
  • 10 stalks asparagus, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 package pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 3 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 2 cups shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 T. panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Place vegetables on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, stirring constantly until mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted.

In a casserole dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray add macaroni and vegetables, stir in cheese sauce. Sprinkle with panko. Bake for 15 minutes, until breadcrumbs are brown.

This really is an amazing dish. It works great as a meatless main dish or a spectacular side.

I look forward to sharing more recipes and bits, pieces, and scraps of my world with you. Until then, you ‘ort’ to try this.


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Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Uncategorized