“If you can read, you can cook.”

My younger son said this when he was in about sixth grade.  When he went off to college, we gathered his favorite family recipes into a “book,” and gave it this title. In 2009, I posted a recipe a day for a month on my Facebook page, and used my son’s “book” as the starting place. That was before I started blogging. It’s so hard to find those old notes on Facebook these days, so I’m transferring them to this page. I’ve reorganized them into Main Dishes, Appetizers, Desserts, etc. but the original dates appear next to the links. If you see one you like, let me know how it goes in your kitchen.


Byron’s Oyster Crackers – July 22, 2009

Chili con Queso  – July 19, 2009

Oregon Bach Festival Mushroom Cups – July 7, 2009

Pumpkin Dip – July 24, 2009

Quick Quesadillas – July 9, 2009


Bruce’s Quick Salmon Soup! – July 1, 2009

Byron’s Cock-a-Leekie with Scottish Oatcakes  – July 21, 2009

Chicken Tortellini Soup  – January 4, 2016


Fish Tacos! – July 26, 2009
Herbed Lentils and Rice – July 14, 2009
Linda’s Leek Pizza – July 12, 2009
Taylor’s Tuna Glop – July 11, 2009


Vera’s Apricot Chutney – June 29, 2009

Wild Rice Salad – July 6, 2009

Zippy Aspic – July 23, 2009


Aunt Ellen’s Sour Cream Apple Pie – June 27, 2009

No Bake Cookies – July 8, 2009
Lenora’s Chocolate Cream Cheese Bars – July 16, 2009 (my sister Virginia’s birthday!)
Pumpkin Bread Pudding – July 24, 2009
Pumpkin Dip – July 24, 2009
Biscuits (and Gravy) – July 18 2009


August 8, 2009 at 6:36pm

A voice student presented me with a bag of large Swiss chard leaves, fresh from her garden this morning. After looking through the Victory Garden Cookbook, I decided we didn’t want to bake a quiche – seems silly to heat up the oven while the air conditioner is running for the first time in weeks. So we improvised….

Stir Fried Ham and Chard in Butter Vinaigrette

8-10 large stalks Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped into 1/2″ chunks, leaves sliced crosswise into 1″ strips
1/2 an onion, chopped (we had a red onion that needed to be used, but any onion will do)
4 slices turkey ham, chopped (about 3/4 – 1 cup)
3 Tbsp butter
kosher salt
lemon pepper
freshly ground pepper
healthy splash or two of rice vinegar
shredded mozzarella

Melt the butter in a large skillet or wok, and add the onions, ham, and chard stalks, stirring constantly over medium high heat until the onion is translucent. Add the seasonings. Stir in the chard leaves to coat them, and cover for 3 minutes. Remove lid, and stir/toss until liquid is mostly evaporated. Serve immediately with shredded cheese over the top.

Chard is related to the beet family, and Bruce hates beets. (That’s how I knew he was ‘the one’ back in 1981 – he ate beets at my mom’s house and didn’t complain.) But the other ingredients tame that flavor in this dish, and I think the vinegar especially helps balance things nicely. I used too much salt, forgetting that the ham would already add quite a bit, but we ate it anyway.  Stir Fried Ham and Chard in Butter Vinaigrette, just before it goes to the table.Stir Fried Ham and Chard in Butter Vinaigrette, just before it goes to the table.

The side dish on the blue plate is leftover roasted root vegetables from the other night when Bruce made meatloaf. It was good, too.

Dinner is served!

August 19, 2009 at 2:51pm

Best Cookie Recipe Ever. Period.

This is my absolute favorite cookie recipe, at least for now. I adapted it (quite a bit, actually) from a chocolate chip cookie recipe in the newspaper a couple of years ago. That recipe was waayyy too fussy. And it clearly had a misprint (325 degrees for 15 minutes is not going to give you a golden brown cookie). So here’s the better, easier, adapted version:

2-1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla (1 tsp is actually plenty, but 2 makes a very aromatic cookie)
1 c butterscotch chips
1 c roasted, unsalted cashews, chopped coarsely (if you can only find salted roasted cashews, omit the salt above)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (I will never go back to greasing cookie sheets – parchment paper is the secret to a perfect cookie!).

Stir together the flour, soda, and salt in a bowl, and set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat together the sugars and butter until well blended, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture, and beat just until all ingredients are blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Fold in the chips and nuts with a rubber spatula (thanks, Stevie!). Drop by teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets, and bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Slide the parchment sheets onto cooling racks. Makes about 4 dozen cookies. (Note: I say ‘teaspoonfuls’ because I used a soup spoon to make the ones in the picture, and they ran together. If you like a bigger cookie, leave more room between them, or you will have to separate them with a spatula as they cool.)

The End of the Line

When I wrote these notes, we lived in a house with lots of crabapple trees in the yard. Now we live in a house with exactly one crabapple tree near the back door, and it’s pretty young.  May we live here long enough to see squirrels scampering through its branches as it grows to maturity, and may you find some measure of joy or inspiration from reading through these  final thoughts…

Going Out On A Limb

Well, this is it. You’ve had a month of recipes from the Taylor file (and one from the Peterson file), and I’m done sharing. It’s time to start thinking about other things, like harvesting herbs and making jelly. The crabapple tree in our back yard has grown so tall that the squirrels can jump into it from the power lines. While I gather fruit from the lower branches, I can see the squirrels twitching their tails in the giant spruce tree, waiting for me to go away so they can harvest the crabapples over my head.

This is not what a crabapple tree is supposed to do. It isn’t supposed to get so tall. I should be able to reach the topmost branches with no more than a stepladder. As I look up greedily to the little apples beyond my grasp, I watch as one (very fat) squirrel bravely decides he has waited long enough.

The squirrel jumps into the tree, and scurries out to the end of one of the highest branches, a limb loaded with crabapples. As I watch in amazement, he inches out to the very tip of the bough, bending it until he is hanging upside down, reaching for the crabapples dangling below his head.

Before he stuffs his cheeks with crabapples
the squirrel brazenly looks me in the eye, as if to say,
“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb;
that’s where the fruit is.”

So there you are. A lesson from a squirrel. May God grant you courage to go out on a limb and gather good fruit!

1 thought on ““If you can read, you can cook.”

  1. Crimson Rambler

    this comment (“You can read,” etc.) is proverbial in our family too, hand me down from the rebbitzin aunt of a dear friend. I pair it with my (Missouri) grandmother’s oft-repeated summation;’ Any fool can cook; and most fools get the chance.”



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