Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes with bacon

At the end of the summer, lovely large green tomatoes are available in farmers’ markets. Barbara made them into a salad. I start frying them for a great Sunday breakfast. Bacon is also required. And if possible, watch the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes. Flour can be used as a substitute for cornmeal, but the cornmeal gives them a nice crunch. Thyme is a nice addition to the cornmeal.

Green tomatoes – large
Milk or buttermilk
Yellow cornmeal
Thyme dried or fresh (optional)
Amounts depend on how many you are cooking for. Slice the tomatoes about 3/8 of an inch thick. I think 1/2 inch is too thick. Dip them in milk and then in cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper and fry in either oil or bacon fat. When done, the crust should be nicely browned and the insides steamy hot and done. They take longer than you think. Serve with bacon.

Mom’s Crab Cakes

Before driving down to Wilmington to visit Mom, Jerry and I would stop at Costco and stock up on lamb chops, filet Mignon and crab for Mom. She was delighted to find that their large lump crab meat was high quality and free of shells. According to Mom, if you want to make crab cakes, avoid recipes that ask you to make a white or béchamel sauce. If it has mayonnaise, it might be okay. And only buy high quality crab with large lumps. We found this recipe on the crab meat container and Mom approved. It’s basically what she would do, but with measurements.

Shirley Phillips Crab Cakes

1 pound crab meat (large lump)
1 egg
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon seasoning such as Old Bay
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon parsley
½ cup bread crumbs

Pick through the crab in case there are some shells left in.
Combine all ingredients except crab and then fold in the crab and make into patties.
Fry cakes.

Makes 4 to 6 crab cakes.

Dandelion Wine from the Malerba farm

Malerba Family

This recipe comes from Jerry’s grandfather, Cesare Malerba, who had a farm on Long Island. Jerry’s mother is the youngest of 13,  12 of whom are shown here by the farmhouse Cesare built.

Dandelion Wine

Pick 12 to 16 cups of flower heads on a sunny day. Put in a 2 gallon container and cover with one gallon boiling water.

Stir in 1/2 lb. finely minced raisins

2 1/2 lb. sugar

one whole orange chopped with peel

one whole lemon chopped with peel

Mix in one ounce wine yeast.

Steep for 4 days in a warm spot (72 degrees to 78 degrees)

Strain mixture through a cheese cloth. Squeeze the pulp to get out all the juice. Discard pulp.

Pour the liquid into a crock, cover with fresh cheese cloth and continue to ferment in a warm dark corner for three weeks.

Decant gently into clean bottles. Cork tightly and store in a cool place for six months or more.

Why have Baked Potatoes when you can have Rosin Potatoes?

Monty at his grill


My grandfather, Montgomery Budd,  did all the outside cooking at our beach house in Rehoboth, Delaware. (It was actually in Indian Beach, below Rehoboth and Dewey Beach.)  His famous recipes included “Chicken a la Rain” and “Chicken a la Sand” grilled on a great big Weber. The steaks were thick and rare – “warm to the touch in the middle” was the rule.

But once in a while he made Rosin Potatoes. My sister Jane and I are the only people I know who have actually eaten rosin potatoes or know what they are.  Googling shows they were common in the South, though they were  a novelty to us Northerners. And they are delicious, beautifully soft and creamy on the inside. The downside is that you can’t eat the skin.

The only recipe I could find in my books was in James Beard’s Treasury of Outdoor Cooking, published in 1960. Now out of print, it can easily and cheaply found used. Highly recommended.

How to cook potatoes in rosin?

Start with large baking potatoes such as Idaho or Maine.

  • Basically, you put pine rosin (perhaps 10 to 20 lbs) in a large kettle. Iron works well and you can use the rosin over and over again. According to James Beard, when melted, it should be 5 to 6 inches deep.
  • Heat rosin to the boiling point. Hot rosin is flammable. So be very careful and keep the flame away from molten rosin. We always did this outdoors.
  • Carefully lower potatoes one at a time into the rosin using long tongs or a slotted wooden-handled spoon.
  • Allow them to remain in the simmering rosin until they float to the top. It should take about 20 minutes.
  • Remove potatoes and put them in squares of tin foil, wrap them and twist the ends.  Most recipes say use heavy brown paper, but we always used tin foil.

Use pure, natural, light color rosin for baking potatoes. Such rosins are usually classified as grade WW.  Rosin in bulk can be found on-line in such places as Diamond Forest Products.




Pet Peeve – English Muffins

Everyone has pet food peeves that were ingrained at an early age. When you see someone doing the “wrong thing” like cutting open an English Muffin and putting into a toaster, you cringe and feel like shaking them. Try to explain to them why they are ruining their food and they look at you as if you are deranged. Luckily, my family agrees with this particular peeve, making breakfast easy at their houses.

Proper English Muffins

Course Breakfast


  • 1 English muffin preferably Thomas
  • 1 tsp butter


  1. Open the English muffin with a fork, or better yet, an English Muffin splitter and lightly film with butter and broil until done.

Perfection in an English muffin means that you take full advantage of the nooks and crannies and let the butter melt into them. Spreading butter on them after they are cooked doesn’t really work. Toasting them makes them tough.

If you are very lucky, you have a muffin splitter like this one:

Muffin splitter

My grandfather’s store, La Cocina in Wilmington, Delaware, carried these starting about 1965. The patent was sold to Thomas and it expired. It seemed as though this nifty tool has vanished forever. But I was delighted to see them appear again in King Arthur’s catalog a few years ago and bought them as Christmas presents. I’m still holding on to my 1965 one. My grandfather, of course, knew the original designer and manufacturer.



Gravlax a la Julia Child

Line drawing of fishGralax, a cured salmon, is one of my go-to recipes for large gatherings. Before you are ready to serve it, cut a small piece off and save for yourself. The hordes will attack it, leaving little left for you.

The most difficult part of making gravlax is first, remembering to buy the salmon beforehand, and second, making room in the refrigerator to store it for three to five days while it cures. Ideally, the salmon fillets will come with skin, but I have done it skinless. The recipe calls for Cognac, but you can use Bourbon in a pinch, and if you forgot to buy the fish five days ahead of time, you can cut diagonal slices in the flesh to make it cure faster. I have found it impossible to mess up.

There are many recipes for gravlax, but all are very similar. Because I have never found a Julia Child recipe to fail, I started with for “Gravlaks” found in Julia Child & Company, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1978. She wants you to use spruce branches, if available, which I have never done. But the rest of the recipe is straightforward.


5 pounds salmon fillet
3 large bunches of fresh dill weed
2 1/2 TB salt and 1 1/4 TB sugar mixed in a small bowl
4 to 5 TB Cognac (or something similar in a pinch)

Julia recommends a 5-pound center cut of salmon, boned and filleted. I usually find salmon fillets sold separately at Costco and try to get two that match in size. 4 to 5-pounds total will work. As nicely filleted as they may look, do check for any pin bones with your fingers and pull them out. You will usually find one or two.


In a non-reactive dish that is large enough to hold the fish, put down the first bunch of dill, and then lay one of the salmon fillets  on it, skin down. Lay the other fillet on a board also skin down. Rub with the salt and sugar mixture and sprinkle on Cognac. Add a second bunch of dill to the fillet in the pan and top with the second fillet, skin down. You now have a sandwich of salmon and dill. Top everything with the third bunch of dill and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator with weights on the top. I used used some iron skillets with cans on top, but whatever works is fine.

Check the fish after two days and baste with the juices. I sometimes add a bit more Cognac. Then turn the fish over (an extra pair of hands here is very useful), replace the plastic and put into the refrigerator again, weighted down. I’ll do this on the third and fourth day as well. You can slice off a small piece to see how it is coming along. You can also add more salt if necessary. It should be done in five days. Take it out of the pan and remove  all the clinging dill  before slicing.

Cut at an angle, making very thin and long slices. You will need a sharp, thin knife, otherwise it comes out hacked. I usually serve it with a mustard dill sauce.


Polynees – from Nana

This is one of the oldest recipes in the family cookbook. It is from our Nana (Barbara Burghart Naff – (1885 to 1953) Jane and I remember her well. She made us wonderful quilts and doll clothes. She was born in Illinois while her father was fighting Indians in Colorado.


For Crust
3/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups flour

For Filling:
1 cup ground almonds
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 egg whites


For crust:   Cream butter and sugar, add egg yolks and flour.  Work until smooth.  Chill at least 1 hour.

For filling:   Mix almonds, sugar and egg whites.  Beat until smooth and fluffy – about 15 minutes.

Radishes Morelia

Bunch of radishesFrom: Wowie
Notes: Printed in Cooking Dinner with Eleanor Goetz

“Wash, trim but do not peel, as many radishes as you want for your little casserole.
Make your favorite cheese sauce, and toss some soft bread crumbs in melted butter. Set aside.

Cook the radishes in salted water until tender. Drain and combine with the cheese sauce. Turn into a small baking dish, top with crumbs and bake for about 20 minutes in a 350° oven.”

I think we had these around Christmas time. They taste great but the cooking and the sauce tames the very sharp radish taste. You can do the same thing with baby onions. I think I like the radishes better and you don’t need to peel them.

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Child making sugar cookies

Cutting out sugar cookies and decorating was a major event in our house in the days leading up to Christmas. I still have many of the old cookie cutters including favorites like the Christmas tree and the reindeer. You can keep small children happily occupied for hours making these. And they will want to do again next year and for the next 50 years. It is an essential part of Christmas.

The best recipe I ever used was on the inside of a Land O Lakes butter box. I don’t have that anymore, but this one from their website purports to be an old one. Others add flavoring like orange juice or almond extract, but these are fine.

Lots of sprinkles, food coloring and icing are needed for the decorations.


1 cup  butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder


Combine butter and sugar in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add milk, egg and vanilla. Continue beating until well mixed. Add flour and baking powder; beat at low speed until well mixed. Cover; refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Heat oven to 375°F.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface, one-half at a time (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with assorted 2-inch cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 5-7 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool completely.

Frost and decorate cooled cookies as desired.

Mom’s Bourbon Balls

Mom made these every Christmas but for grownups only since  a large amount of bourbon included. And, with no cooking and the modern convenience of a Cuisinart, so easy to make.  Now that I am grownup, I can make and eat them.


2 1/2 cups ground vanilla wafers
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 teaspoons Karo (or substitute)
1/2 cup Bourbon or rum
1 cup ground nuts (pecans or walnuts


Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly. Roll into balls about 1″ in diameter. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.