It's Cheaper to Make My Own

Homemade creme fraiche.  

I have a recipe that calls for Crème fraîche, but because Crème fraîche is rather expensive, I decided to make my own.  The recipe is quite simple. It uses only two ingredients, heavy cream and buttermilk.  How much cheaper?  At Harris Teeter heavy cream is only 25 cents per ounce compared to creme fraiche that is $1.00 per ounce.  The buttermilk is only 7 cents per ounce and of course you use very little buttermilk, and I can drink the rest.  I love buttermilk!
Just two ingredients.  

Crème fraîche originated in the Normandy region of France.  It is just heavy cream that has been fermented.  In France, it is made from cream that has not been pasteurized so there are bacteria present and it doesn't require adding buttermilk.  Our heavy cream is pasteurized so the bacteria have been killed, but the buttermilk contains helpful bacteria that will allow the cream to ferment.  I could only find ultra pasteurized cream so it took a bit longer than 12 hours to thicken to the consistency that I prefer. 


1 cup of heavy cream
 2 tablespoons of buttermilk

Mix the two and place in a plastic or glass jar and cover with a paper towel (hold in place by a rubber band).  Allow the mixture to rest at room temperature for about 12 hours.  Check to see if the desired consistency has been reached, and if it is not thick enough you can let in remain at room temperature for another 6 hours.  It will last in the fridge for up to two weeks.  
Let this sit out at room temperature for 12 to 18  hours.  
After 18 hours it is the consistency that I like. 
Put top on jar and refrigerate.  
I like Crème fraîche over fresh fruit, or a dollop on desserts, particularly chocolate desserts. It can be combined with a bit of fresh lemon juice and makes a great topping for grilled salmon. Today I will put a dollop on my apple and blueberry dessert.  
Over fruit dessert.  

Actually I made it to use in a recipe for roasted brussel sprouts.  That recipe will be featured in my next blog.  Stay tuned.    

My Daddy Called It Cornmeal Mush

Butternut squash polenta with sausage and onions.  YUMMY!

My Daddy would sometimes make cornmeal mush as he called it. I believe he just boiled plain old cornmeal so that it was thick.  I think it was for breakfast with butter on it much the same way we would eat grits.  Or maybe sometimes we would put sugar and milk on it.  At any rate, I'm sure my Daddy never heard of polenta nor butternut squash for that matter. (We only knew yellow crookneck squash when I was growing up.)

But I've been introduced to polenta in the last year or two, and being a fan of anything with butternut squash I found this recipe in the NY Times hard to pass up.  It's a nice blend of the savory polenta with the sweet butternut squash, and the sausage and onions are a perfect topping---not to mention the rosemary which adds a nice flavor.


  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup fine polenta (not quick (cooking) (I used the coarse polenta and cooked a little longer and added a little more water.)
  • 5 ounces seeded and peeled butternut squash, coarsely grated (1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  Black pepper, as needed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 1 ½ pounds sweet or hot Italian pork sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 teaspoons minced rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
  • 2 small onions, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1/4-inch half moons
  •  Rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)


  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine 4 1/2 cups water, the salt and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in polenta. Stir in squash. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until polenta and squash are very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. If the mixture gets too thick while cooking, add a little more water to the pot. Stir in butter and black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  2. Adding butternut squash to polenta. 

  3. While polenta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, rosemary and fennel seeds if using. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is golden and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Do this in batches if necessary, adding oil if the pan looks dry.) Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  4. Cooking sausage and onions with rosemary. 
  5. Add more oil to the skillet if it looks dry, then add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Return sausage to pan and stir to heat through. Spoon polenta into bowls and top with sausage and onion, Garnish with rosemary if you like. 
  6. Place polenta in bowl. 

Top with sausages and onions and enjoy. 

This is a recipe you should try!

Here's a link to an interesting article on the history of polenta.

My Friend is My "Guinea Pig"

Blueberry, Poppy Seed Lemon Cake. 
I had found a recipe on the NYT Cooking site for a blueberry poppy seed brunch cake that I've been wanting to try. The recipe actually won the Pillsbury Bakeoff Contest one year which made me think it would be pretty good.  Lemon zest, blueberries and poppy seeds make for a good combination. So when a friend of mine was coming over for lunch I decided to test the recipe on her.  She's usually happy to accommodate me when I need a "guinea pig" to test a new recipe.  And I always enjoy her visits too.

Blueberry, Poppy Seed, Lemon Cake

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (195 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seed
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sour cream
For the filling:
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed, drained on paper towels
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
For the glaze:
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons whole milk


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. In large bowl, beat 2/3 cup sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  2.  Add lemon peel and egg; beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, poppy seed, baking soda and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream. Spread batter over bottom and 1 inch up sides of greased and floured pan, making sure batter on sides is 1/4 inch thick.
  3. In medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients; spoon over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool slightly. Remove sides of pan.
  4. In small bowl, combine powdered sugar and enough milk until glaze is of desired drizzling consistency; blend until smooth. Drizzle over top of warm cake. Top with a handful of fresh blueberries, if desired. Serve warm or cool.

Prepare the pan. 

Cream the sugar and butter.

Mix the dry ingredients. 

Mix the filling. 

Batter in pan. 
Ready for the oven. 

Out of the oven. 

Ready to eat.  

Rotisserie Chicken for One

Rotisserie chicken.

Now that I am widowed and cooking for one, I have to plan more carefully my meals.  I picked up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store on Saturday and have made meals for several days.  First I sliced off most of the white meat from the breast.  This will make a couple of sandwiches or I might even make chicken salad from it. 
White meat for sandwiches.
Chicken sandwich.

I put the rest of the carcass in a large pot with chicken stock and diced onions and simmered until the meat was falling off the bones.

Boiling the carcass in chicken stock.

Chicken stock.
Onions added to stock and chicken simmers until meat falls off bone.
 I carefully removed all the meat and even strained the liquid to make sure I had removed any small bones. 
The deboned chicken for the soup.
I added some red sweet pepper to the soup.

In another pot I cooked a cup of basmati and wild rice and when it was at the al dente stage I added the rice to the pot of stock and cooked a bit more.  I had half a red sweet pepper frozen which I diced and added to the pot.
Ready to eat. 

I had one serving of soup and the rest I froze into 3 containers each holding about 2 cups or enough for two servings each.
Ready for the freezer.

These will come in nicely this winter when it's cold.  So you see one rotisserie chicken can go a long way for just one person.

Tablescape for Table for One

A pretty fall tablescape.

Since my husband passed away this past March, I have found it sad to sit at the dining table by myself.  I usually just fix a plate and go in the TV room and sit by the TV to have dinner.  I've decided though that I am going to begin sitting at the dining table if it is only me there.  And I deserve to have a nice tablescape as well.  Today I took out some things I had on hand, and after a trip over to Sur la Table to pick up a few things I had all the makings for a pretty fall tablescape. 
Lazy Susan covered with tea towel and Acuba arranged in flower pot.
Small mum to add in center of flower pot.

I chose a Westmoore Pottery flower vase made by David Farrell as the main feature of the arrangement.  After placing a row of Acuba leaves from my garden around the periphery of the vase I added in the middle a little potted mum that I had picked up at Trader Joes for $4.00.  I wrapped the Lazy Susan in the middle of the table with a green tea towel with leaves; I already had this. 
Leaves on the tea towel.

The pumpkin scatters that I picked up at Sur la Table can be used another year so this was a good investment since I got these on sale.   Our Cryptomeria tree in the back yard drops leaves about this time of year, and many of them have streaks of orange that fit into my color scheme. 
Cryptomeria leaves from back yard.

Pumpkin scatter from Sur la Table.

The terra cotta colored napkin that I have fits in nicely, especially with the new little napkin ring that I also got on sale at Sur la Table. The pretty plate by Westmoore Pottery goes nicely and to add a bit of humor I thought the little orange fox mug would fix in nicely and would be perfect for my cup of hot cider. 
Terra cotta colored napkin fits right in my color scheme. 

Pretty Westmoore Pottery plate.
Pretty little fox mug just right for my hot apple cider. 

A pretty table setting for one.

I will have folks in for Thanksgiving and this tablescape should work well then.  I might have to replace the little potted mum with some fresh flowers and add some fresh Acuba leaves but everything else would be perfect.  I will likely add candles for the table at Thanksgiving.  In the meantime, I can sit down to a pretty table even if I am the only one to enjoy it. 

Easy Peach Cobbler

Peach cobbler using frozen peaches.
I was in the mood for a peach cobbler, and I had two packages of frozen peaches.  I found this recipe online from Nutmeg Nanny. It is quite good, and I have several servings left so I'm going to take it down to Mary and Dave's tomorrow for lunch.  I think Mary is fond of peach cobbler. 

For Filling:
10 cups frozen peaches sliced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg (I added this. )
1 stick of butter, melted

For Top Crust:
1 cup flour
1 cup white sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter, softened
2 beaten eggs

For Filling:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 9x13 inch pan with pam.

Measure the peaches and put them in a large mixing bowl. Let them sit on the counter and thaw for 10 minutes. Then toss with lemon juice.

Frozen peaches.

In another smaller bowl combine white sugar, salt, flour and cinnamon. Mix them together with a fork until they're evenly combined.
Dry ingredients.
Pour the dry mixture over the peaches and toss. You may use a spoon or clean hands. Once most of the dry ingredients are clinging to the peaches, dump them into the pan you have prepared. Sprinkle any dry mixture left in the bowl on top of the peaches in the pan.

Melt the butter, then drizzle over the peaches. Then cover cake pan tightly with foil.

Bake the peach mixture at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Take out of the oven and set on a heat proof surface, but DON'T TURN OFF THE OVEN.

For Topping:
Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in the smaller bowl you used earlier. Cut in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Add beaten eggs and mix. The result will resemble library paste but smell a whole lot better!

Remove foil from the peaches and drop on spoonfuls of the topping. Because the topping is thick you will have to do this is little dibs and dabs scraped from the spoon with another spoon, a rubber spatula, or with your freshly washed finger. Dab over the whole pan until it looks polka-dotted.

In oven for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.
Bake in a 350 degree oven uncovered for an additional 50 minutes.

Ready to eat.  Enjoy!
It can be eaten warm, room temperature or chilled :)