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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category


My lovely niece is getting married on Saturday, the first of the grandchildren to take the plunge. Yesterday, my oldest niece and brother and sister-in-law hosted an impressive BBQ and shower for the couple. Since the wedding present isn’t finished yet and probably won’t be until oh, I don’t know, December or so, I gave the happy couple a series of black and white photographs for their kitchen. I also gave them:

Tips for a Successful Marriage from Claire’s Kitchen.












Many think that love is all that is needed for a marriage to thrive, but love alone grows stale without mixing in kindness and respect.

Similarly, combining two individuals for too long can result in bitterness. Each must have their own unique time and interests before they can properly complement the other.

Apply liberal amounts of patience and understanding as needed.

Much like a making a soufflé, marriage should be handled with care and like a friendship should never be taken for granted.

Your marriage should be your home. Your home should be the place you are the most secure, the place you can be yourself without fear of judgment. Trusting one another is vital, as is sharing your dreams, hopes and fears. Caring about each other is more than a sprinkling of emotion. It comes from the soul and extends through your heart.

Approach Love and Cooking with Reckless Abandon

What are your tips for a successful marriage?


Barimisu–Barrow Version of Tiramisu

Barimisu–Barrow Version of Tiramisu.

Barimisu–Barrow Version of Tiramisu

People come and go quite regularly on the North Slope of Alaska. Personnel changes at some North Slope Borough (NSB) departments is staggering. No point in learning a person’s name unless they’ve stayed there for a year. Just kidding, we’re a friendly bunch of folk, but it is a common joke among the long-timers. When you do find work with someone you like, when they leave it can be heartbreaking.

A colleague was leaving NSB HOE (Hell on Earth) Department to obtain her master’s degree in some foreign place…I can’t remember if it was Pennsylvania or Prague. I was saddened to see her leave—very nice woman.

For her going away party, and we love going away parties—well, parties in general—I decided to concoct a fabulous Tiramisu. Graduate-school-bound co-worker loved Italian food. Certain things can’t be purchased in bush Alaska—or Booger County Arkansas for that matter. Ladyfingers would be the top of the list. Mascarpone cheese? Please!! Alcohol in which to soak the non-existent ladyfingers—not buying it in Barrow. Damp community—more on that later. And Booger County is dry.

A very wimpy substitution for ladyfingers is to bake a cake and slice it in thin slivers. As for the mascarpone cheese, I planned ahead and purchased some the week before when I was in Anchorage. You can use cream cheese. Booze? Well, admittedly, I had quite the stash. Only thing missing was the required Kahlua—funny how I can’t remember what happened to the bottle we brought back from Mexico.

After researching several tiramisu recipes and creative substitutions, I was able to concoct this recipe.


I hate to admit this bit, so Tarimisu afficiandos, please don’t cringe.

STEP ONE: Bake a yellow cake according to the directions on the box. Bake in 9 X 13” pan. Cool and slice into thin slices.

1 ½ cups strong coffee.
½ sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier—which is what I had on hand—you can also replace the Grand Mariner with Kahlua.
3 tablespoons of rum

Boil the coffee and sugar for about 2 minutes. Remove from stove and add alcohol. At this point, it’s always nice to add some alcohol to your system as well. I’ve found that cooking under the influence of wine is quite enjoyable.

1 ½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
16 oz. mascarpone—if using cream cheese, use 14 oz and add 2 T of cream—mix together until creamy

Whip cream and sugar and vanilla into stiff peaks. Gradually add mascarpone


Line the bottom of a 9 x 13” pan with slices of the yellow cake. Drizzle with coffee mixture and then a layer of mascarpone—REPEAT—you’ll have TWO layers of dessert—cake, coffee, cream. Cake, coffee, cream

Chill for at least 4 hours. Before serving garnish with chocolate curls.

Eggnog Recipe

Eggnog Recipe.

Eggnog Recipe

There are a lot of good things about the holiday season: Christmas trees decorated with rows of garland and shiny ornaments, houses bedazzled with pretty lights with fake Santas residing on their rooftops (don’t get me started on those giant blow up thingies–saw one the other day with Santa in a helicopter. WTH?) and the lovely ringing of the Salvation Army bells.

It’s all beautiful; however, my favorite part of the holiday season is the opportunity to make mulled wine and eggnog. I’m not talking about that stuff that comes in cardboard cartons sold in the grocery store. I’m talking EGGNOG–from scratch.

Trust me, my friends, if you don’t like eggnog it’s because you haven’t had the real thing. So, get out every bowl you own and a couple of mixers so you can whip up a batch of this creamy, luscious delight.

Traditional Eggnog Ingredients
You can make the eggnog without alcohol. It’s just a delicious, but not quite as much fun. 🙂

12 eggs, separated
6 cups milk
2 cups heavy/ thickened cream
2 cups rum (you can also use bourbon)
1+ 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup brandy
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Traditional Eggnog Directions:
For those of you who don’t separate eggs that often, remember to use 2 bowls for this process. Break the egg shell, use one side to contain the yolk and let the whites pour into a bowl. Then, put the yolk in the mixing bowl and the white in the second bowl. You need to do this with every egg to assure that you don’t get any yolk in the whites because the whites won’t whip if they’re contaminated. Don’t you wonder about the person who discovered this?

In a large bowl and using a mixer, beat the egg yolks together with the sugar for approx 10 minutes (you want the mixture to be firm and the color of butter.) Seriously, we’re talking 10 minutes! It’s very important.

Very slowly, add in the rum and brandy – just a little at a time.
When rum and brandy have been added, allow the mixture to cool in the fridge (for up to 6 hours, depending on how long before your party you’re making the eggnog).

30 minutes before your guests arrive, stir the milk into the chilled yolk mixture.
Stir in 1+ 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream with a mixer on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks.

In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture.

Gently fold the cream into the egg mixture.

After ladling into cups, garnish with the remainder of the ground nutmeg.

Orange Marmalade Cake

After reading Jan Karon’s delightful Mitford series books, I had to find the recipe for this cake. Her books feature Father Timothy Kavanagh, an Episcopal priest. He suffers from diabetes. In one of her books, Esther Bolick, the inventor of the orange marmalade cake, leaves a cake in Father Tim’s refrigerator. In the middle of the night, he sneaks two slices of cake and ends up in a diabetic coma. Now, that’s my kind of cake! Yeah, I know, I’m demented.

The cake is a bit of a bother to make–not difficult, but has a lot of steps. It’s delicious, light and citrusy and you won’t regret taking the time to make it. So, whip up a cake, cut a slice, grab a cup of tea, settle down in a chair and read one of Jan Karon’s books. Cozy. I think cozy describes Ms. Karon’s books best. Decadent would be the word I’d use to describe the cake. Cozy decadence. Can you resist?

Esther’s Orange Marmalade Cake

(Excerpted from Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader © 2004 by Jan Karon)

For the cake

1 cup unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing the pans
3 1/4 cups cake flour, more for dusting the pans
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

For the orange syrup

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the filling
1 (12-ounce) jar orange marmalade

For the frosting

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream, chilled


The cake. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter three 9-inch round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, then lightly butter and flour the paper, shaking out the excess. (I used a 12 x 16 cake pan because it’s easier to haul places, but the layer cake is so much nicer because of the layering of flavors–both work well though.)

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Sift a second time into another bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light in color, about 4 minutes. Add the 2 2/3 cups sugar in a steady stream with the mixer running. Beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to stop at least once to scrape down the batter from the sides of the bowl. After all the eggs have been added, continue to beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the oil and beat for 1 minute. In a small bowl, combine the orange zest, vanilla, and buttermilk. Using a rubber spatula, fold in half of the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add half of the buttermilk mixture. Fold in the remaining dry ingredients, scrape down the sides, and add the remaining buttermilk.

Pour the batter among the prepared pans, smooth the surface, rap each pan on the counter to expel any air pockets or bubbles, then place in the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 20 minutes.

The orange syrup. In a small bowl, stir together the orange juice and 1/4 cup sugar until the sugar is dissolved. While the cakes are still in the cake pans, use a toothpick or skewer to poke holes at 1/2-inch intervals in the cake layers. Spoon the syrup over each layer, allowing the syrup to be completely absorbed before adding the remainder. Let the layers cool completely in the pans.

The filling. Heat the marmalade in a small saucepan over medium heat until just melted. Let cool for 5 minutes.

The frosting. In a chilled mixing bowl, using the wire whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream with the 4 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form. Add the sour cream, a little at a time, and whisk until the mixture is a spreadable consistency.

To assemble the cake. Invert one of the cake layers on a cake plate and carefully peel off the parchment. Spread one-third of the marmalade over the top, smoothing it into an even layer. Invert the second layer on top of the first, peel off the parchment, and spoon another third of the marmalade on top. Place the third cake layer on top, remove the parchment, and spoon the remaining marmalade onto the center of it, leaving a 1 1/4-inch border around the edges. Frost the sides and the top border with the frosting, leaving the marmalade on top of the cake exposed. Or, if you prefer, frost the entire cake first, adding the marmalade as a garnish on top.

Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Angel Graham Bars Recipes x 2

There are two versions of the recipe for ANGEL GRAHAM BARS. The first version is when the night before the work potluck you decide you have to make something, but you don’t feel like it. It’s the lazy version you make for the co-workers you don’t really care that much about. Not that I would ever do that! I’ve always loved my co-workers and gone to great effort to make them happy. You know who you are: Pearl, Amm, Stretch, Norma, Lon . . .

Great and very impressive. There won’t be any leftover:

Layer the bottom of a jelly roll pan—10 ½” x 15 ½”—with graham crackers
Spread a can of Coconut Pecan frosting over the crackers
Top with another layer of graham crackers
Frost with a can of butter cream frosting

Let set for a few hours and cut into squares.

ANGEL GRAHAM BARSDrop ‘em in Their Tracks Version

Layer the bottom of a jelly roll pan—10 ½” x 15 ½”—with graham crackers

1 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup melted butter
½ cup evaporated milk
1 cup coconut
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

In a saucepan, combine melted butter, sugar, milk and egg. Heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to boil. Remove from stove. Add coconut, nuts and graham cracker crumbs. Pour over layer of graham crackers.

On top of the filling, add one more layer of whole graham crackers. It’s layered: graham crackers, filling, graham crackers


2 cups powdered sugar
½ cup butter—softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk

Mix sugar and butter until soft. Add vanilla and milk until frosting is at spreading consistency. Frost the second layer of graham crackers.

Chill and cut into bars. These do freeze well, if you have any left over.