Monthly Archives: July 2009



Oh, how I love old recipe clippings
Spattered and tattered
And yellowed with age;
Newspaper clippings and
Scribbled receipts,
On the back of an envelope,
Or the edge of a page.

I love all their names,
How they roll off my tongue,
Names just as sweet
As a song being sung.

Granny’s beet relish,
And Maude’s apple pie,
Aunt Becky’s favorite
Caraway rye.

Church-social brownies,
Miz Carr’s piccalilli,
And here’s a corn relish
We got from Aunt Tilly.

Uncle Jim’s homemade chili
Aunt Ann’s apple strudel,
Sister Sue’s one and only
Best noodle kugel.

I hold in my hand
A bit of the past,
And somewhere beyond
I hear someone ask

“May I have this receipt
for this great cherry pie?
My husband just loves it – and
Oh, so do I!”

And gladly she copies
It down for her guest
On a small piece of paper
That comes to rest
Inside of a cookbook
Or shoebox of snippings,
Spattered and tattered
Recipe clippings.

-Sandra Lee Smith

(*This was previously published in a recipe newsletter I used to subscribe to, called Fare Share…but it was B.C. (before computers) and I have no idea what year. Maybe the late 1980s)




I bought a quaint brown bean pot
At a festival one day;
It had two handles and a lid
And it was made of clay.
Too pretty to be hidden in
A cupboard, tucked away,
I put it on the kitchen counter
For a decorative display.

Now, when we are missing buttons
Or a nail file or a pin;
We find the quaint brown bean pot
And we take a peek within;
It hoards the scraps of paper
Too important to discard–
With rubber bands and shoe strings
And a plumber’s business card;
A stamp pad and a book mark
And a tube of Elmer’s glue –
A recipe for pot roast and
Some body’s I O U.

Such a handy little catch-all
And it keeps the kitchen clean–
Hoarding trivia and trifles,
But…it’s never held a bean.

–Sandra Lee Smith (1960s)
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There is nothing like soup. It is by nature eccentric: no two are ever alike, unless of course you get your soup in a can.” Laurie Colwin, ‘Home Cooking’ (1988)

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.”
Laurie Colwin

“From time immemorial, soups and broths have been the worldwide medium for utilizing what we call the kitchen byproducts or as the French call them, the ‘dessertes de la table’ (leftovers), or ‘les parties interieures de la bete’, such as head, tail, lights, liver, knuckles and feet.”
Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book (1949)
Beautiful Soup

BEAUTIFUL Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

Beau–ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau–ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo–oop of the e–e–evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

Beau–ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau–ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo–oop of the e–e–evening,
Beautiful, beauti–FUL SOUP!

What is as fine as a bowl of soup
In a tureen, carried hot to the table,
Or a beef stew simmered with veggies and meat,
As wondrous as an old Aesop fable;
I love noodle soup or a tomato bisque,
My chili falls into this category,
French onion soup with melted cheese,
Russian Borscht served in its beet-red glory.
Mushroom soup! PepperPot!
Or a Consomme!
Won Ton Soup! Morel Soup!
Cream of Pea and crackers on a tray!
Black Bean Soup! Cabbage Soup!
Or a pot of New England Chowder!
(Not for me Manhattan style–
for that I’d take a powder!)
Perhaps some Mulligatawny Soup,
Or some Minestrone!
I’d even eat some Bouillabaisse,
As long as it’s not boney!
Bring me a bowl of Orleans gumbo,
Or any soup that’s bold,
Or let us have gazpacho that’s
Always served up cold.
Serve me cream of celery soup!
Carrot soup with Curry!
Bring me soups that cook all day
But dish up in a hurry;
Serve me spicy peanut soup
Or turkey soup with rice–
I’d gladly eat green lentil soup
But meatball soup is also nice.
Soup for breakfast! Soup for lunch!
Soup for a late night supper;
Let me have a cup of soup,
For a pick-me-upper.
Let me have War Won-Ton Soup,
Or Tortilla soup that’s spicy,
Let me have a cockle soup
Or lobster bisque that’s pricey!
Serve me cock-a-leekie soup
Or Egg Drop soup from China,
Serve it fancy, serve it plain,
I’m never going to mind-a,
Soups can be hearty or else light –
Feed one or feed a troop –
I’ll never tire or get enough
Of delicious homemade soup.
–Sandra Lee Smith
May 6, 2009



At the kitchen table
We did our homework
While my mother stood at the ironing board
Ironing our dresses, shirts, pants, blouses, and skirts.
At the kitchen table
We listened to the Crosley radio
On top of the refrigerator
While the Lone Ranger, Amos & Andy,
Our Miss Brooks and many others
Filled our minds with images.
At the kitchen table
I learned all my times tables,
And how to type on a standard Royal typewriter
Using two fingers,
Until I got in high school
And learned to type
Using all ten fingers.
At the kitchen table
We created homemade Christmas ornaments
Out of walnut shells and the caps to milk bottles.
At the kitchen table
We had dinner every night
At 6 O clock sharp
My mother on the left end of the table and my father
On the right.
I sat at my mother’s right,
On the end of the left side of the table
Because I was left handed.
My brothers sat across from me
And Billy spilled his milk
Until we were all forbidden to have any milk
Until after dinner.
At the kitchen table
We said grace
And prayed for the soldiers in Korea
And my brother at St Francis Seminary
Where he only lasted a year –
But the prayers continued nonetheless
Because once started,
My father couldn’t stop.
We said Our Fathers
And Hail Marys
And Glory Be’s
Until our dinner was almost cold.
At the kitchen table
We were first and foremost
A family
Even though
Sometimes I didn’t like the entrée
And sat
At the kitchen table
For hours
Staring at cold unappetizing hasenpheffer
Or mom’s slimy boiled cabbage
Or whatever it was
That I didn’t like.
It was also
At the kitchen table
That my brothers Biff & Bill
Started a fire which burned a hole
In the oilcloth tablecloth
Until someone put out the fire.
It was at the kitchen table
That my parents
And their friends
Played cards
And ate bowls of chili
And drank cups of coffee.
It was at the kitchen table
Where there was a meeting
Of the minds.
And sometimes



It isn’t the walls or the shingles
Or even the carpeted floors
It isn’t the knotty-pine cupboards
Or even the backyard or fence;
It isn’t the lawn–there was not one,
Nor the carport or ample garage.
It isn’t the way that it’s laid out-
If I were designing, I think I’d do more.
What it is, is where it’s located
Near my son and his family, nearby,
It’s a town that seems quite old-fashioned
And laid-back by modern day standards.
It isn’t the best or the finest
But what it is, it suits us quite well.
I knew from the moment I saw it.
That this was the place we’d call home.

–Sandra Lee Smith
May 2009



There’s very little poppycock
About the bloomin’ hollyhock
It multiplies and multiplies
Refusing to be chastisized.
The hollycock, industrious,
Is just a bit–promiscuous.


The adjectives that describe a tomato
Are, I’m inclined to suspect–
The type to conjure
Thoughts quite impure
And probably quite circumspect.
For, is it her fault
To be luscious and round
And soft to a finger’s light press?
And would she have chosen
If choices were given,
To wear such a flaming red dress?
It seems so unjust
And therefore, I trust,
You’ll pardon my faith in believing
The tomato as chaste –
And not out of grace;
Appearances can be deceiving!

Who would even
Attempt to ferret
Out a poem
About a carrot?
It doesn’t rhyme
The way it should–
And cooked it doesn’t
Taste that good.


Why do they say
“A shrinking violet”?
I really couldn’t surmise…
For it seems to me
Quite evidently
That violets
Have been sunforized.

Oh, yonder gaze upon the lone
And stately grown sunflower;
In majesty it lords above
The blossoms in my bower.
Is it antisocial, reigning there
Just like MacBeth?
Or does it stand alone because
It simply has bad breath?

The cucumber is a snob,
Stuck-up, to say the least!
It never gets unruffled
Or becomes a raving beast.
It never would demean itself
By going into a rage–
It’s temperament is always mild,
But then I’d safely wage–
Its never known the joys of love
Of passion or desire
It has never known the thrill of love
Or its burning fire.
And so it leads a frigid life,
Love’s passions deep in slumber
Which is just as well, I guess –
Who’d want a hot cucumber?

Waste not your tears in weeping over
The onion–that hyprocrite!
It mealy-mouths its way around
Begging us to pity it!
It spends its whole life
In sham tears and strife
Begging for some consolation…
Because of the lily, the onion you see,
Is merely a dirt-poor relation.
The onion’s behavior is simply uncalled for
Actually, I think
It’s really quite silly..
Because, after all,
Who’d go to a restaurant
And order steak smothered
With lily?


The grape has socialistic tendencies
For which it can hardly take the blame–
Merely the product of group environment
It seeks not glory or self-acclaim.
Its individuality is lost
Within the cluster of conformity;
Who’d go to the store and buy just one grape?
Maybe you, but certainly not me!

The orchid became psychotic
Because it thought itself exotic
It never got over the discovery
That it had been grown..
In a greenhouse…


The chrysanthemum
Has a hang-up
That it never overcame.
It got that way
Because no one
Could ever spell
Its name.

The garlic clove has a distinctive
Aromatic scent
And is the unfortunate victim
Of a society that’s bent
On choosing sides and being
Division orientated
But it isn’t the garlic
That one should blame –
But rather
The person who ate it.


Oh, lovely firm, brown-skinned
from your earthen home, tomatoes
do not taste
quite as delicious.
which, I muse,
Is more delicious?
There’s more than just
A staple meal
Underneath your amber peel.
A moral here – or do I dare?
Would farmers rise to shout “unfair!”
Would vegetarians unite
And on your behalf, would they fight?
Denouncing what I think as wit?
To heck with them!
Who gives a twit?
Truth is simple, Idaho–
Thought complex minds would change it so;
As day is day and night is night;
Beneath your brown skin…
You are white.

–Sandra Lee Smith
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Since posting the first “Back to Basics” I began finding a lot more “basic” recipes in my files. What I mean about basic recipes is those things you can easily make from scratch instead of using a prepackaged mix that generally costs a lot more than making your own – or in some instances, such as one with my younger sister, when she wanted to make something like tacos for dinner and discovered she was out of taco seasoning mix. Now she makes her own taco seasoning mix all the time. (Another bonus to making your own – there’s often no telling how long the seasoning mix was on the store shelves or in a warehouse before you bought it). When you mix your own, you know how old the spices or seasonings in your kitchen are. Anyway, here are some more basic recipes that you can print and keep in your own recipe box.


You will need:

2 cups low fat or no fat cottage cheese
¼ cup plain yogurt
eggbeaters to equal 1 egg
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP water
½ tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp white pepper
1/8 tsp hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in a blender container and process until smooth. Use for potato topping or dips.

Sandy’s Cooknote: The beauty of this recipe is that you can use no fat cottage cheese and by using egg beaters, you have a VERY LOW calorie/no fat recipe. The original recipe called for 1 egg–given that you aren’t cooking anything, I have changed it to eggbeaters to equal one egg.


¾ CUP brown sugar
2 TBSP soft butter or margarine
¼ tsp salt
½ cup hot evaporated milk

Put all ingredients into blender container. Cover and process at mix until sugar is dissolved.

You will need:

2 CUPS fine dry bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp garlic salt
¼ cup parsley flakes, crumbled

Combine spices. Mix well. Pack loosely in jar. Use as coating for veal, pork, poultry or fish to be sautéed. Makes about 3 cups.


You will need:

6 TBSP coarse ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar (optional)
½ tsp dried sweet red pepper
½ tsp dried finely minced onion
1 tsp paprika
1/3 tsp dried sweet green pepper

Combine spices and stir with wooden spoon. Pack tightly in glass jars. Makes about ½ cup.

Sandy’s cooknote: Ok, I do a lot of cooking but have never heard of dried sweet red or green pepper. BUT I think you could easily make your own. I chop up bell peppers when they are on sale and freeze them. I think I could just as easily dry a little of each, red and green in my oven or dehydrator to have it on hand. I’ll give this a try and get back to you on the results.


You will need:

1 TBSP salt
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp onion powder
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 ¼ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp round red pepper
¾ tsp black pepper
¾ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground bay leaves
¼ tsp chili powder

Combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container. Sprinkle on sea food, chicken or beef before grilling. Yield ¼ cup.


You will need:

1 ½ TBSP sugar
1 TBSP onion powder
1 TBSP dried thyme
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp ground red pepper
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients. Store mixture in an airtight container. Sprinkle on chicken or seafood before grilling. Yield 1/3 cup.


You will need:

2 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP onion powder
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp black better
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp sugar

Mix. Store in an airtight container.

Sandy’s cooknote: You will note that all of these recipes advise keeping the spice or seasoning in airtight containers. You don’t have to go out and buy a lot of jars or plastic containers. I save all kinds and sizes of glass jars when they are empty of what ever came with them. Wash them really good and remove the labels. When you put a seasoning into one of them, label it and include the date so you will remember when you made it. When I had babies, those baby food jars really came in handy for things like seasoning mixes.


You will need:

3 TBSP paprika
2 TBSP EACH salt, dried parsley, onion powder and garlic powder, oregano, basil and thyme
½ tsp celery salt

Stir well. Store in an airtight container.


You will need:

2 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP garlic salt
1 TBSP paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ cup vegetable oil

In a small mixing bowl, combine all seasonings. Blend in oil, forming a paste. May be refrigerated up to 2 weeks. To use, brush mixture on whole chicken or chicken pieces and let stand 1 hr at room temperature or at least 2 hours in the refrigerator before roasting or grilling, until chicken is cooked through. Makes enough to season 7 to 8 pounds of chicken. Note: Add 2-3 TBSP lime juice to mixture if desired.


You will need:

1/4 CUP dried minced onion
2 TBSP instant beef bouillon
½ tsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients. This makes the equivalent of one package of soup mix.


You will need:

1 TBSP dried thyme
1 TBSP dried oregano
2 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried basil]
1 tsp dried parsley flakes

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Use in omelets and to season fish, vegetables or chicken. Makes ¼ cup.

The following are a few good recipes for making your own marinades:


You will need:

1 CUP soy sauce
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, halves
¼ cup Kitchen Bouquet*
2 tsp Beau Monde seasoning

Combine soy sauce, onion and garlic in blender ad high speed 1 minute or until mix is smooth. Stir in Kitchen Bouquet and Beau Monde seasoning. Makes 2 ½ cups.
To marinate: arrange steaks in shallow glass baking dish (or use a zip lock bag) and pour ½ cup marinade over each steak or chop. Allow to stand at room temp 2 hours OR cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours, then bring meat to room temperature before cooking.

Sandy’s cooknote: Kitchen Bouquet! It’s a flavor enhancer that makes brown gravies a nice dark rich brown and is wonderful in pot roasts. My mother always had a tiny bottle of Kitchen Bouquet in the kitchen cupboard. Well, it floored me, the cost of those little bottles – we have a warehouse-kind of supermarket that is called Smart & Final, but I would imagine that Sam’s Club and/or Costco might keep the large quart size bottle in stock. I get a QUART bottle for about the same price as those little bitty ones. I swear by Kitchen Bouquet and wouldn’t be without it. Beau Monde is another but that’s another story.


You will need:

1 cup red wine*
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic. Crushed
1/3 tsp crushed rosemary
½ tsp EACH salt & pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp marjoram

Blend ingredients and let stand overnight. Remove garlic clove. Cover and store until ready to use.

Sandy’s cooknote: A lot of my recipes call for red wine. I keep a LARGE bottle of Burgundy wine in the kitchen pantry – just for these recipes.


You will need:

2 TBSP vegetable oil
2 TBSP soy sauce
¼ cup dry (red or white) wine
2 tsp Tarragon or thyme
salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients. Add more salt and pepper if you want. Marinate chicken or turkey overnight or brush on 15-20 minutes before grilling.


You will need:

2 large garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil
3 TBSP packed dark brown sugar
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup fresh orange or lime juice
1 ½ tsp freshly grated lemon zest

Thinly slice garlic and in a small saucepan, cook in oil over moderately low heat just until it begins to turn golden. Remove pan from heat and with a slotted spoon, discard garlic. In oil in pan, add remaining ingredients and salt & pepper to taste. Cool marinade. Makes about 1 cup, enough marinade for 1 ½ to 2 pounds chicken or shrimp.


You will need:

¼ cup salad oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 cup beer
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
¾ tsp pepper
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp crushed basil leaves
¼ tsp crushed oregano leaves

Blend all ingredients

To make beef kabobs:

You will need

1 ½ lbs flank steak
beer marinade
1 large green pepper, parboiled
12 cherry tomatoes
12 medium mushroom halves
12 small white onions, parboiled

Cut flank steak crosswise on the diagonal into 1” wide strips. There should be about 12 good strips. Place meat and marinade in a bowl and chill overnight. Cut green pepper into 12 small squares. For each kabob, thread meat alternatively with 1 green pepper square, 1 cherry tomato, 1 mushroom half and 1 onion on skewer. Broil 6-8” from source of heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until meat is desired doneness. Brush with marinade before turning.

Sandy’s Cooknote: I know a little something about making shish-kabobs. We made them for YEARS while my sons were growing up. We had an assembly line going for threading the kabobs on skewers. If you are using bamboo skewers, you should know the skewers should be soaked in cold water for several hours before using, so they don’t catch on fire. But metal skewers are inexpensive and you can stock up on them to have a bunch on hand if you are feeding company. Personally, I like to toss the mushrooms into a pot of boiling water for a minute or so – OR cook them a while in melted butter…they will go on the skewers more easily & taste better too. You can use that same melted butter to brush on the kabobs when they are cooking. We also would cut up hot dogs and wrap raw bacon around them to stretch the meat (I was raising four sons). I liked to cut the meat (often something like London Broil) into bite-size chunks and then marinate it for a few hours in something like a red-wine marinade with tenderizer sprinkled on, so that the meat was good and tender. Kabobs is a good company meal. Sometimes we also used chicken breast, cut into chunks – and when my son Steve was being lavish (and doing the cooking) he would get a pound of halibut and cut that into chunks to go onto the skewers. All great eating.


You will need:

¼ tsp crushed red chile flakes
1 tsp rubber dry sage
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/3 tsp celery seed
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley, optional
1 tsp finely minced lemon zest
½ cup apple cider
4 tsp cider vinegar
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
¼ cup cooking oil

Whisk together red chile flakes, sage, thyme, celery seed, sugar, parsley, lemon zest, apple cider, vinegar, mustard and oil. Use to marinate chicken breasts or pork chops at least for 4 hours or up to 8 hours. Will keep refrigerated up to 1 week.
Happy Cooking!