I store all kinds of things about cooking, quilting and some surprises in my cupboard. Check it out.

A Short Trip to Amish Country – Holmes County, Ohio


Last week, my daughter and I had a chance to re-visit one of our favorite vacation destinations – Holmes County Amish Country (Ohio).  We’ve been visiting this area for 17 years and always stay in a cottage situated on a Mennonite farm.

MelMary_Oriole03Although the cottage looks rustic, it’s very comfortable with two bedrooms and an equipped kitchen.  My favorite spot is on the porch with a good book in my hand and surrounded by the most gorgeous scenery.  I count it among the three most beautiful places I’ve ever visited along with Vermont and Switzerland.


There are lots of cornfields ….

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and lots of horses …

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and lots of cattle.

MelMar_cattle03A short drive away are small towns with shopping (good quilt shops) and restaurants.  We especially like Troyer’s Market in Millersburg.  Their homemade ice cream is amazing.

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Of course, the most interesting and charming sights are the Amish people going about their daily chores on their perfect farms and traveling in their black horse-drawn buggies.  I respect their wish that they not be photographed.

For a peaceful, quiet place to stay, we highly recommend Mel and Mary’s in Baltic, Ohio, and the nearby shopping in Charm, Walnut Creek, Millersburg and Sugar Creek.  I hope we get to go back again next year.

Holmes County Amish Country

Mel and Mary’s Cottages

Troyer’s Country Market

Applesauce Mincemeat Yeast Bread


This recipe is adapted from one in a favorite cookbook which I received from my son and daughter-in-law in the 1980s – Elsah’s Landing Heartland Cooking (Illinois).

I thought the reconstituted mincemeat was sweet enough to allow me to reduce the sugar.  The result is a soft, easy-to-handle dough and a loaf with interesting flavors from the orange peel and mincemeat.  It’s wonderful toasted and we also like it as a buttered, grilled sandwich with our favorite chicken salad.



  • Servings: Two 9-inch or three 7-1/2-inch loaves
  • Print

2 Tblsp. fast acting dry yeast*
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 Tblsp grated orange peel
1-½ tsp salt
1 cup water
½ cup apple juice
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup mincemeat (reconstituted)**
5-½ to 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided

*I use Fleischmann’s Instant Dry Yeast. I buy it in bulk (454 g) and the package says that it is made in Canada. I understand it is packaged under the name “Instant Dry” for distribution through stores like Sam’s, “Rapid Rise” in the U.S. and “Quick Rise” in Canada. The “Instant Dry”, “Rapid Rise” or “Quick Rise” yeast is especially formulated to be used mixed with the dry ingredients and can withstand the hot water.

**This mincemeat comes in a 9 oz. block which is cooked with boiling water to make 1-½ cups of mincemeat comparable to the mincemeat that is prepared and sold in a jar.  Use just ½ cup for this recipe.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place 2 cups all-purpose flour, yeast, sugar, orange peel, and salt.  Beat to blend dry ingredients.

Heat water, apple juice, applesauce and canola oil to 130 degrees F.  Add heated ingredients to dry mixture in bowl.  With paddle beater, mix on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Add mincemeat and beat for 30 seconds.

Remove paddle beater and insert dough hook.  Continue to beat for 6-1/2 minutes, adding flour a little at a time.   You may not have to use all of the flour – the dough should be smooth and elastic after 6-1/2 minutes.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn dough over once and cover with a napkin or tea towel.  Let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place that is free of drafts (I put mine on top of my microwave which sets under a cabinet).

After 45 minutes, punch down dough (press your knuckles into the dough to deflate it) and lay it on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the dough and form into two 9-inch or three 7-½ inch loaves. loaf.  Turn over and pinch the edges to seal.  Place loaves in greased loaf pans.  Cover and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake loaves 45-50 minutes for 9-inch loaves and 35-45 minutes 7-½ inch loaves until bread is golden brown and has a hollow sound when tapped or registers 210 degrees on a bread thermometer.  Cover with a piece of foil if top is browning too fast.

Remove bread from pan immediately, cover with a napkin or a tea towel and let cool on a wire rack.



Orange Cranberry Nut Bread

orange-cran (4)I found a partial bag of cranberries in my freezer and since soon we will be getting bags of fresh ones, I came up with a quick bread using what I had on hand.  It was very good and served as dessert for a couple of lunches and dinners for my daughter and me.

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  • Servings: Two 7-1/2-inch loaves or one 9-inch loaf
  • Print

2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ tsp. salt
1-½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 egg
¼ cup oil (canola)
¼ cup orange juice concentrate mixed with ½ cup water
1-½ cups fresh or frozen (thawed) whole cranberries
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Prepare one greased 9-inch loaf pan or two greased 7-½ inch loaf pans, sprinkled on bottom and sides with a mixture of 1 Tblsp. granulated sugar and 1/8 tsp. cinnamon

In a large bowl whisk together 1-½ cups flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

In a separate small bowl, whisk egg with oil and orange juice from concentrate.  Add to flour mixture and stir in lightly.

In a small bowl, place cranberries and ½ cup flour, stirring to coat cranberries.  Add this mixture to the batter along with the chopped nuts.  Stir just until flour is absorbed and mixed throughout the batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pans and bake in preheated 350 degree F oven approximately 40 minutes for 7-½-inch loaves and 50 minutes for a 9-inch loaf.  Test for doneness by inserting a tester in the center of one of the loaves to be sure it comes out clean.

Rest loaves in pans for about 10 minutes and then loosen around sides and turn onto rack to cool.

Yield:  Two 7-½ inch or one 9 inch loaf

Cut into one-inch wide slices to serve.  Stays moist for several days.

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Tip:  I always have a problem keeping a juice container lid secure once it’s opened.  I found that a small mason jar lid works perfectly and keeps the concentrate fresh for the next use.

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Pink Champagne Cupcakes and Sipper

PinkCham (7)I saw a cake recipe on Hungry Mum’s blog and was anxious to try it.  She made a big, beautiful two-layer cake, but my daughters and I try to have smaller portions of dessert and I adapted the recipe somewhat to make 12 small cupcakes.  I just used a grocery store variety of champagne and I’m sure the flavor would be even better with a good quality bottle.  We all enjoyed the little pink cupcakes with just a swirl of frosting.  I changed the frosting a bit because I didn’t have time to let it chill for an hour as the original recipe suggested.

1-½ cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
Dash salt
4 Tblsp. butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 egg whites*
1 cup pink champagne
2 drops red food coloring

3 Tblsp. butter, softened
1-½ cups confectioners’ or powdered sugar
Dash salt
1 Tblsp. pink champagne
1 drop red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 12-cup muffin tin or insert paper/silicone liners

To make the cupcakes:
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In large bowl of electric mixer beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add vanilla and then egg whites gradually until combined.

Mix in flour mixture alternately with champagne, ½ cup of each at a time, beginning and ending with flour.

Divide batter among 12 muffin cups (about ½ cup of batter per unit).

Bake for approximately 22-25 minutes until a tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.  Leave in cupcake tin for about 10 minutes, then turn onto a rack to cool.

To make the frosting:
Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer for one minute. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, salt, champagne and food coloring, beating until smooth.  Add a bit more sugar or champagne if necessary to get the consistency you want.

When cakes are completely cool, swirl a bit of frosting on the top of each cake.  This amount of frosting is just right for 12 cupcakes.

*If you want to freeze the yolks, whisk together with 1/8 tsp. of salt, cover, label and freeze.  Remove from freezer to refrigerator overnight when you’re reading to use.  Good for recipes that need only yolks or beaten together with one or two eggs to make an omelet or scrambled eggs.

P.S.  This recipe used about half of a bottle of champagne.  This tasty drink would be a good way to use up leftover champagne.  If starting with a full bottle, there are 2-¼ cups left which can be used to make this easy and delicious Pink Champagne Sipper.

½ cup simple syrup (recipe below – allow to cool)
3 Tblp. orange juice concentrate
3 Tblsp. water
2 Tblsp. lemon juice
2 to 2-¼ cups pink champagne

To make the simple syrup:
In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Bring to a boil and cook one minute longer.  Remove from heat, pour into container and refrigerate until cool.

When syrup is cool, add orange juice concentrate, water, lemon juice and champagne.  Chill until ready to serve.  Makes eight 6-oz. servings.
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Although it makes a pretty picture to have the sipper and cupcakes together, the sipper has a much stronger flavor and could be enjoyed by itself while serving the cupcakes with some lovely tea.

Stars and Pinwheels QAL – Block 4 – Paper Pinwheel and Bonus Block – Cowboys

hanger2 (2)This is block 4 in Susan’s quilt-along featuring stars and pinwheels, called Paper Pinwheel.


I am participating in the quilt-along by making small projects with the monthly blocks.  This is an easy block and I made two 12-inch versions which I used to make a favorite hanger cover.  I tape together three wire hangers, make a tube to cover the loop portion and a cover.  I’ve been making these covers for over 7 years (tutorial here)  and find it’s a good way to recycle wire hangers while providing a nice soft surface for clothes.  I don’t usually make the cover this long but wanted to take advantage of the pretty blocks.

hanger2 (1)The second post was using the same block in multiples, creating a secondary pinwheel.


I made the blocks in a 4-inch size and combined them with an embroidered panel I had adapted from a favorite Helan Barrick decorative art pattern.

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This made a very nice wall hanging.

Susan4 (2)The third post was a bonus block …


It was perfect for adding a couple of panels and a backing to create a comfortable cushion for my sewing chair.

Susan4 (1)I’m enjoying making the blocks and then finding ways to use them.

Easy Cannoli Cones


These cannoli cones aren’t going to be as good as the cannolis from your favorite Italian restaurant but they’re really delicious, easy to make and fill the need for a quick cannoli fix.  I combined several recipes, ideas and tips from online to make this fun dessert.

To hold the cones while coating them with chocolate and chilling them, you can cut an “x”  for the number of portions in the top of the cardboard cone box covered with foil…

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… or, my favorite, the bottom of a Styrofoam egg carton, inverted with an “x” cut for the portions.


At first, I thought it would be nice to serve the cones in a tall flute along with the filling and garnishes in separate bowls …

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… but the cones are  too hard to remove.  I found it best to just let each person grab a cone and alternate layers of filling, chips, cherries and nuts.


6 sugar cones (the cake type with pointed ends)
½ cup chocolate chips, melted
¼ cup heavy cream
8 oz. ricotta cheese (one cup)
¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup each of mini chocolate chips, chopped pistachios and chopped candied cherries

Place a spoonful of melted chocolate into each cone, turning and swirling to coat the inside of the cone.  Spread a little bit of chocolate over the rim of the cone.  Place cones in a container and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes until set.

To make filling:
Beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Beat in ricotta, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Place in a covered bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

The chocolate coating on the cones and the filling can be done ahead of time, but wait until ready to serve before filling the cones so they will be nice and crisp.

Fill cones with alternating layers of filling, chips, cherries and nuts.

Servings:  6 cones   

Cozy Afternoon Quilt-Along – Block 4

blk4 (2)Jacquelynne Steves is offering another series of free blocks-of-the-month called Cozy Afternoon.


There will be five blocks, each with a pattern to embroider or applique for the center.  I have a large hassock with a lid which I’m going to cover, using five blocks – one for the top of the lid and four for the sides.

My version of Block 4 is shown in the top picture.  This will be one of the sides of the hassock cover, using a vintage embroidery pattern for the center.

Jacquelynne also provides a pattern for an embroidered or appliqued center.

This was an easy block to make and made a nice frame for the embroidered center.


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