Happy Birthday Grandma Juju!

Happy Birthday Grandma Juju!

Today is my mother’s 70th birthday. She loves flowers almost as much as she loves her grandchildren; since I couldn’t be there to celebrate in person, I was happy to find this clever floral birthday cake to fete her: She has been blessed with four children, seven grandchildren, and a husband who likes to bake. Dad (aka Downtown Tom) tried his hand this year at decorating a cake for her. It turned out pretty well, especially considering it was his first try: He said he followed this Ina Garten recipe from Food Network, and they both said it was delicious, so if you’re looking for a chocolate cake recipe recommendation go ahead and try it. Here are mom and dad and I on one of their visits to me last year. Happy Birthday...
Red wine pinto beans with smoky bacon.

Red wine pinto beans with smoky bacon.

My father – Downtown Tom – has been experimenting in the kitchen again. This time he took notes and pictures of his culinary success and snuck it on an attachment in an otherwise blank email. He’s just trying to see if I pay attention to the notes he sends; I know his evil plans. Well, Dad, you’ve been found out. Here is your latest guest blog post, New York Times food editor Melissa Clark’s recipe for red wine pinto beans with smoky bacon, a hot dish for cold nights: Saw the video in the New York Times app and decided to try it. (note: scroll to the bottom for the video) Temperature outside was 30 degrees with a 15 knot wind from the West. Sky was clear and the day was beautiful. Drove to Schnucks for pinto beans. Wanted to start now so followed directions for plumping the beans up quickly. They looked like this: While they were simmering and plumping, we fried the smoky bacon: When bacon looked brown we added the onions, carrots and garlic. We did not have a Rosemary sprig, so added a bit from the spice jar. Concoction now looked like this: In the mean while, we began the red wine syrup. It simmered and reduced: The finished product was delicious. Red wine pinto beans with smoky bacon.   Save Print Prep time 45 mins Cook time 1 hour Total time 1 hour 45 mins   Melissa Clark's hearty Red Wine Pinto Beans with Smoky Bacon Author: Melissa Clark Recipe type: entree Serves: 8-10 Ingredients ½ pound smoky bacon, diced 1 large onion, peeled...
Baking with Downtown Tom

Baking with Downtown Tom

A few weeks ago, before St. Louis temperatures turned to the sweltering triple-digits, my dad Downtown Tom was on a baking frenzy, concocting treats for my mother, brothers and sisters, and niece and nephews from the groovy concrete kitchen of his rehabbed hat factory-turned-urban loft. He sent me photos since I’m not around to sample his delicacies. Luckily he’s as good a photographer as he is a cook – these are all great pictures! Keep scrolling to the bottom of the page; he also sent a pretty good cookie recipe for you to try. He’s definitely mastered the cinnamon roll. This last batch is perfectly browned and buttery-looking; very drool-worthy:   Key Lime Pie, I’m not so sure. He sent me this photo with the line, “We followed directions. Pie was chewy.” Since following directions is not a family trait, though, I’m really not surprised it turned out like this:   And finally, the cookies. He copied this recipe from an old cookbook he had laying around, using dried cranberries in place of the coconut. whole wheat flour in place of the Rice Krispies, and omitting the chocolate chips. It looks like a nice dense cookie, and not too sweet – a perfect snack for my niece and nephews when go to visit: Here’s the recipe for you to try and substitute as you see...

Snow covered berries

Here’s a fun and festive sweet-tart recipe my parents have been enjoying for the last month. I’m glad they decided to share! Grandma Juju recommends serving in a cut crystal bowl . . . Enjoy! Snow covered berries Heat two cups of sugar and two cups water till sugar melts. Stir. Put in one bag of cranberries. Stir. Cover, put in fridge for 24 hours. Drain. Let dry for about an hour. Roll in superfine sugar. That’s...

The best doughnuts in Burlington, CO

Meet my mom and dad, Grandma Juju and Downtown Tom. Despite their four kids and seven grandkids, they’ve been channeling coolness ever since they moved from our childhood home to a rehabbed hat factory-turned-hipster loft in downtown St. Louis. They’ve been on a road trip recently- not on the Vespa! – to Montana. They called from the Museum of the Rockies to say how blown away they were by the dinosaur exhibit. And they sent a postcard from Old Faithful. We didn’t hear from them again until they were on their way home, with news of an excellent find: Grandpa’s Daylight Doughnuts in Burlington, Colorado. Now, my parents are what you might call doughnut connoisseurs. When we kids were growing up, most Sundays my Dad headed to an excellent doughnut shop somewhere on The Hill and picked out a dozen or so for our breakfast. It was probably a 10 or 15 minute drive each way from the house; there were certainly closer doughnuts, but none as good. Then if the weather was nice, we’d go to Forest Park eat at the Zoo; sometimes when it wasn’t so nice we’d go to Forest Park anyway and sit under the awnings in front of the Muny Opera. Here I am on one of those long-ago Sunday mornings, not channelling coolness in the least, but looking verrry happy with my breakfast: Back to Mom and Dad’s road trip. When they got hungry driving east on Highway 70 from Cheyenne, Wyoming to a family wedding in Kansas City, they thought they may get lucky finding a bakery of some sort. They exited at the first available...
Homemade soft pretzels

Homemade soft pretzels

Too lazy to go to the grocery and get a box of frozen soft pretzels, we spent an afternoon experimenting with making them from scratch. It turns out homemade soft pretzels are not at all difficult and totally delicious – epecially when you spend the afternoon making them with your son. Come take a peek at our day and get the recipe to try yourself.

Downtown Tom’s Water Bagels, second batch

Newly minted mad kitchen scientist Downtown Tom has been continuing his experiments with yeast, whole wheat flour, poppy seeds and flax seeds. reporting that his bagels are getting to be so good, he doesn’t think he’ll be able to eat store-bought bagels anymore. I’ll be in town this weekend to sample them in person – in the meantime, they look great – good work...