Thursday, July 31, 2014

Homemade Pierogies

Homemade Polish pierogies.

My dear friend, Marta Boguska from Poland, is a great cook, and she frequently brings us "goodies" that she has made from authentic Polish recipes.  We are so fond of pierogies that the other day she came to the house and made a batch for us.  I watched in hopes that I could learn to make them, but there is definitely an art to it and I didn't do too well.

Here she is mixing the dough, rolling it, and then cutting out little pastries that will be filled with good things.
Mixing the dough from flour, eggs, water and salt. 
Rolling out the dough.
Cutting out the pastries and filling them with the potato mixture.

She filled these pierogies with a potato, cheese, onion mix---one of our favorites.   
Adding Farmer's cheese to the potatoes and onions. 
The potato, cheese, onion filling.

The mixture goes into the pastry and the pastry edges are pinched together. 
Pierogies ready to cook.

The little dumplings are dropped into boiling water for just a few minutes until done. 
Simmering the dumplings.

After simmering, the pierogies are placed in cold water to stop the cooking and then drained.
Pierogies placed in cold water to stop cooking.
Drain pierogies. 

They are often served with fresh dill garnishes.
Ready to eat with pepper and dill and a side of cole slaw.
Left overs ready to freeze.

The leftovers can be frozen, and cooked in a bit of olive oil until brown on each side.

Marta's homemade pierogies are so much better than the frozen ones available at the grocery, and if you live in the Raleigh area and are honing for some homemade pierogies, she would be happy to make some for you.  Just let me know and I can put you in touch with her. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lavender Bistro, Tryon, North Carolina

When Dan and I were in Cleveland County back in May we had planned to take my friend PJ to the Ni Fen restaurant in Shelby for her birthday, but our plan did not materialize.  In July we planned to celebrate her birthday belatedly, but Ni Fen was closed for the Fourth of July holiday.
Peggy the birthday lady.

Determined to find a fine restaurant to celebrate her birthday, I called around and the Lavender Bistro, up in Tryon was highly recommended as a likely place to have a special dinner.  Tryon is at the foot of the mountains up toward Asheville about 40 miles from Shelby.  Upon calling we were able to secure a reservation so we took off for the hills. 
The Lavender Bistro.

Tryon is a lovely little town where a lot of folks choose to retire.  The Lavender Bistro is a charming little place right on the main street. 

After perusing the menu we thought we had made a good choice with this Bistro.

We shared a starter of baked brie with a wonderful roasted fig marmalade in puff pastry.Yummy!!

For our entree we each chose the trout almondine.  It too was delicious.
Carolina trout almondine.

 We were pretty sated after the ample entree, but wanting to at least try one of their desserts we shared a serving of the tiramisu.  It was light and delicate and flavorful.  We made the right choice there.
Tiramisu, the perfect ending to a perfect meal.

I'm glad to know of this little Bistro that's not that far from Shelby.  I feel sure we will venture up there again on one of our future trips to Cleveland County. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Cake (I goofed!!!)

Chocolate Zucchini Cake (Photo from

I was in Shelby recently and my friend PJ made some delicious zucchini nut bread.  When I got home I noticed the bounty of zucchini at the Farmer's Market so I bought some.  Later while  looking through my Penzey's magazine, I found this recipe for chocolate zucchini cake, and I thought it the perfect recipe for using  the zucchini.
  • 1/2 Cup margarine or butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 13/4 Cups sugar
  • 1/2 Cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Cup buttermilk or sour milk (1/2 Cup milk plus 1 tsp. white vinegar = sour milk)
  • 21/2 Cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Cups grated zucchini, peeled if desired, drained (about 2 medium)
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 Cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 325° (for a glass pan) or 350° (for a metal pan). In a mixing bowl, cream together the room temperature margarine/butter and sugar. Add the oil, eggs, VANILLA and buttermilk and mix well. In a small bowl, combine the flour, COCOA, baking soda, CINNAMON and salt. Gradually add to the wet ingredients and mix well. Fold in the zucchini. Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts over the top of the cake. Bake at 325° for 45-50 minutes or at 350° for 35-40 minutes. Let cool before cutting.

Prep. time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 35-50 minutes
Serves: 12-15

Gather your ingredients.


Cream butter and sugar.
Cream butter and sugar.

Add eggs,oil, vanilla, and buttermilk.
Add wet ingredients.

Mix dry ingredients.
Dry ingredients.

Add dry ingredients.
Fold in grated zucchini.

Fold in grated zucchini.
Out of the oven.

The cake has the consistency of brownies rather than cake. 

Mine came out with the consistency of brownies---not light as cake should have been.  What went wrong? 

As I looked back over the recipe I discovered that I had added baking powder instead of baking soda.  When I googled to see if it is possible to substitute baking powder for baking soda I learned that yes, that is possible, but when doing so one should add 4 times the amount of baking powder.  I had added only 1 tsp of baking powder and I should have added 4 tsps.  (Well actually I should have added baking soda as the recipe called for---must have been having a "senior moment".)

Mistake number two:  When I was measuring the flour I discovered that I had only a cup of all purpose flour. Not wanting to make a run to the grocery store, I remembered I had some whole wheat flour in the freezer, so I substituted 1 1/2 cups of this in place of the all purpose flour.  After seeing that the cake was too dense, I thought perhaps it was because of the whole wheat flour substitution.  Sure enough, when I googled, I learned that when substituting whole wheat flour for plain flour use about 3/4 cup of whole wheat for each 1 cup of all purpose flour.  I didn't reduce the amount of whole wheat flour but used the full amount called for in the recipe.  

Another "senior moment", I forgot to add the vanilla.  That didn't affect the texture, but it did affect the flavor.  There is cinnamon in the cake so the cake was flavorful but the flavor would have been better with the vanilla.

Well one thing, Dan loves brownies, so he thinks the "brownies" are good.  I will make this recipe again though making sure I follow the recipe exactly---no substitutions. 
Check out this recipe at  I get all my spices at Penzeys.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

July Fourth Party at Louie and Cece's

When we were gadding about in Cleveland County over the Fourth of July weekend, we attended a party hosted by my niece and her husband, Cece and Louie at their lovely home on Chatfield Rd.  It was a great opportunity to visit with family and friends.
Louie welcoming guests. 

Dan and Andy (my grand nephew).

Cece and Louie's daughter Laura.

Sisters: Kelly and Cece.

 And to have some delicious barbecue prepared by my brother-in-law, Hal.

Barbecue and other delicious food.

The children especially enjoyed the pool, and even the smallest ones were able to float around safely and some of the small ones were already jumping off the diving board.
Brayton enjoying the water.

Cason ready to jump. 
Kristen and Brayton (my great grand nephew).

Cason (my great grand nephew) out of the pool.

What's a party without a game of cornhole?

Thank you Cece and Louie.  We had a marvelous time!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fourth of July Parade in Small Town America

Lattimore is a small town in Cleveland County, North Carolina, and each year the town has an old-fashioned Fourth of July parade.  I'm partial to this little town, because that is where I attended school for twelve years.  Back then I'm pretty sure they didn't have a parade on the Fourth, but for some time now this has been a tradition.
PJ waiting for parade.

I happened to be in Cleveland County this year for the Fourth, and my friend PJ and I found us a shady spot along Main Street to view the parade.  Folks began lining up along the parade route early in the morning anticipating the 9:00 am event.
This pretty little miss is decked out in patriotic colors.

The Fites waiting for the parade in front of The Depot restaurant.

Many folks from the older to the very young were decked out in patriotic colors.  It was great for "people watching" even before the parade began.

I love this hat.

The youth from Lattimore Baptist Church were selling biscuits along Main Street before the parade began, and I had my opportunity to have a livermush biscuit.  So good!!!!!

My livermush biscuit.
And then a little after nine along came the parade.  
Here comes the parade.

There was the color guard and then vehicles of all kinds--- vintage cars, lawn mowers, tractors---, people walking and those on horseback.

Huge tractor from the Greene Farms.  (Photo by Peggy Rhyne.)

Fire truck. (Photo from Lattimore Historical Society.)

Vintage car. (Photo from Lattimore Historical Society.)
What's a parade without horses?

After the parade folks gathered over at the ball field for food, games, and more celebration. red, white and blue. (She was one of Martha Mason's caretakers)

Ann, Steve and grandaughter Caroline.

Libby with her grands.

Mrs. Cooper the grand marshal of the parade. (Photo from Lattimore Historical Society.)

This is the perfect way to celebrate the Fourth of July.