Sweet Potato Rolls with Dried Cherries and Cardamom

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sweet potato rollsThis is a treasured recipe for dinner rolls, especially during this long fall and winter holiday season in the U.S. when sharing food means memories and love.

It was lost, though the Thanksgivings we ate it are remembered fondly. It is now found So I’m happy to share the recipe.

Do give it a try! The cardamom is a flavor from childhood so means my mummu, mum, and daughter are there sharing with me. Friends loved the rolls, and so will you!

Jean’s Cincinnati Chili

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jeans cincinnati chili_7046

“Next to music there is nothing that lifts the spirits and strengthens the soul more than a good bowl of chili.”
Harry James (1916-1983) band leader and trumpeter

My mum used to serve a Midwestern-style chili made with hamburger, tomatoes, oregano, garlic powder, and kidney beans on macaroni elbows. It was a way of stretching a pound of ground beef to satisfy a family of six inexpensively. I recall we even added grated Cheddar cheese to top it so very very elegantly. It wasn’t until I started this project to learn Japanese cooking, that I first heard of this delicious and somewhat exotic version of Cincinnati chili from a lovely woman called Jean on the Taunton Press Fine Cooking magazine forum. It’s become a favorite meal, and I want to let my online friends know about it.

New Honey Cake Recipe!

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honey-cake_3626I always bake honey cakes for Rosh Hashanah from Joan Nathan’s book, The Jewish Holiday Kitchen. The first honey cake, I added cardamom. Mr. Tess noted it was not like his grandmother’s.
This year I tried a new recipe: lovely, light, not cloyingly sweet, and the spices shine, especially the cardamom which is reminiscent of my grandmother’s Finnish pulla bread. So that brings us full circle, one grandmother to another, most appropriate for the cycle of generations, seasons, and years celebrated during this holiday.

ThanksGiving 2012

warm thanksgiving in michiganWhere did the time go? I’m writing this post in August 2013, on a cool summer afternoon not unlike the warm Thanksgiving day last November when Mr. Tess took a long sunny-morning bike ride, and Little Tess prepared a feast. It was a beautiful day, and memory makes it more perfect.

The philosopher Martin Heidegger observed that time “persists merely as a consequence of the events taking place in it.” Our brains understand the passage of time by the things we experience. A year has passed with little evidence that anything of note happened. At least not on this blog…

Looking through photo albums proves otherwise.

Lasagna Bolognese

Christmas guest from China
Lasagne is a collated noodle dish.

My perfect lasagne would be straightforward al denté noodles framed with luscious sauce, just as lightning, seen against extravagantly swirling deep blue and grey clouds, is both dramatic and simple.

This recipe is not that, but it is luscious, subtle, to remember, to repeat.

As Christmas 2012 dinner, it is especially memorable because we shared it with an unexpected and charming guest.

Chanukah Noodles

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If I didn’t post, does it mean it didn’t happen?

Having my daughter back in Michigan has been fun. She found these unusual pasta shapes for Chanukah 2012 and we ate them as a variation of mac ‘n’ cheese with fried zucchini pancakes. I’m writing this now in September 2013 and I had forgotten about these interesting noodles.

Korean Cold Noodle Soup with Radish Water Kimchi

eating Korean noodles with a fork
Eating cold noodles in winter, preferably in front of a great big fire, is a way of enjoying the best of two seasons.

We made a meal of this when Mr. Tess returned from Philly after working there for nearly two months. As a dyed-in-the-wool noodle-lover it was the best thing I could think of to welcome him home.

I don’t think he was disappointed in the menu; at any rate he was happier than the cats were.

Korean Radish Water Kimchi

water kimchi cut for dinner

Making kimchi seemed a wonderful idea. I spent a lot of deep-in-the-night sleepless hours roving the internet while Mr. Tess was working in Philadelphia. Radish water kimchi made me laugh, especially when I heard about a cold noodle soup made with this pickle. The weather was beginning to be chilly in October, and I wanted to hold on to summer if only in my dining room.
These pickles are absolutely delicious, especially the water which can only be called addictive: sour, salty, sweet, and popping good…

Mark Bittman’s Chicken with Walnuts, Green Olives, and White Wine

This is a recipe we have often enjoyed.
In 2004, I copied it from The New York Times, from Mark Bittman’s Minimalist column called
“Crossing Over to the Dark Side” (July 14).
My old computer still has some files (recipes, emails, pictures) we occasionally want to look at: No matter how many times I print this recipe, it gets lost.I want to post this favorite recipe on my blog so it will be easier for me to find in future. And I hope you appreciate it as well.

A Plantain Dessert


When I was 12, I read an article in one of my mother’s “women’s magazines” about grilled bananas. We lived in a big old house with two fireplaces where we would often toast marshmallows over the glowing embers. Roasted bananas appealed to my desire for the exotic beyond the isolated UP. My mom was skeptical while I was persistent. She finally agreed to the experiment if the bananas were wrapped in greased tinfoil and placed in the embers. She wisely prevented me from poking a banana on a marshmallow stick—the result was a gooey mash of burnt banana and margarine…

Cheese Grits, Japanese Style?


I was surprised to hear that my sister-in-law, who has traveled far and wide, has never eaten grits. This post is dedicated to her!

Grits are traditionally served in the U.S. South, east of the Mississippi River. Grits were first made with our American native corn by the indigenous American Indians of the region to preserve corn over the year from harvest to harvest. Grits are produced by treating corn kernels with an alkaline bath to remove the tough skins of the kernels, then dried and coarsely ground. The resulting product is made into a porridge and served for breakfast or as a side dish.

And they are very bland, but have texture. One can take a Japanese donburi idea to make a wonderful breakfast or light meal by adding toppings of your choice: cheese, grebenes, okra pickles, chipoltle Tabasco sauce