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never 2 old to start cooking
a shared journey and learning experience

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Welcome...

...to "never 2 old to start cooking".  Before we dive into the

wide and wonderful world of food and cooking, let me share
a few bytes with you about the why of this site.  I wasn't
shy about starting to cook at age 71, and as I shared the fruits
of my efforts with friends and familiy I was encouraged to
(1) start a bakery (NOT!!!), (2) sell my creations online (NOT,
again!!!), and (3) do a blog (BINGO!!!).   Here we are.  I'm here
because one of the things that I really enjoy doing - preparing 
and cooking food and serving it to others - not only keeps
me mentally and physically active, it also provides substance
for a site such as this.  I truly enjoy sharing what I've done
and learned.

This journey I'm on is most satisfying, and like most things in life it's more fun and enjoyable when shared.
​​ Thank you for letting me share with you.  Jump on the food truck with me and let's start cooking!!!​
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Pão de Queijo
Let's face it.  It's hard to go wrong with any bread that incorporates more than a smidgen of cheese or, in some cases, cheeses.  Think Parmigiano Reggiano and sharp cheddar in a warm, slightly chewy, gluten-free bread that's designed to be eaten as is, or dipped in a favorite salsa or maybe even a marinara.  Yum!!!    Here are two versions of the same Brazilian bread - Pão de Queijo - one prepared in the traditional way, and other updated to take advantage of a blender or food processor.  As always, try it out, then let your imagination take you where it will.
Pão de Queijo (traditional)
Ingredients

100g of Parmesan, grated
100g of mature cheddar, grated
240ml of milk
120ml of vegetable oil
1 tsp salt

300g of tapioca flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs

Directions

Combine the milk, oil and salt in a saucepan and bring to a slow boil, whisking occasionally. Once boiling, remove from the heat.

Using a whisk, blend the baking powder into the tapioca flour.  Then put the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer; paddle blade.

With the mixer on low, add the warm milk and oil to the mixture and stir in thoroughly until a dough forms, increasing the speed to medium high to aerate and cool the dough.  Beat for 2-3 minutes.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, then gradually and fully incorporate the eggs into the mix, adding the cheese once the eggs are fully incorporated. Mix to combine.

Cover the dough and put it into the fridge to chill - 30 minutes to an hour.

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 400 °.

Divide the dough into 24 pieces and gently roll into balls - rubbing some flour on your hands will help to stop the dough from sticking. Place the balls onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and puffed up, then allow to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

​The breads don’t store well (they harden and lose their chewy texture) so try to eat within 24-48 hours. Any uneaten breads should be stored in an airtight container.
Pão de Queijo (blender/processor)
Ingredients

1 egg
1/3 cup cooking oil
2/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cups tapioca flour
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F and grease a mini-muffin tin. Put all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. (Your batter will be liquid)

Pour batter into greased mini muffin tin about 2/3 full and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the breads puff up and are a light brown color.

Serve the breads after they have finished cooling.

The breads don’t store well (they harden and lose their chewy texture) so try to eat within 24-48 hours. Any uneaten breads should be stored in an airtight container.
DUKKAH

Once you assemble the ingredients, not much can be simpler, or more rewarding, than dukkah (see the linked newsletter for ideas).  Here goes.

1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1/8 cup cumin seeds
1/8 cup coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ground paprika
3/4 tsp salt flakes
3/4 tsp turmeric

Assemble the nuts and seeds on a large baking sheet (you can do them all at once).  Give the pan a shake or two to spread them out into a thin layer, then place them in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Hang around and enjoy the aroma!

Remove from the oven and let them cool. Put the nuts, seeds, and the remaining ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you get the desired consistency - something like coarse sand is best. (If you're having trouble getting some uniformity, keep the almonds and hazelnuts separate when toasting and put them in the food processor and pulse them a few times before adding the rest of the ingredients. That will give the larger components more time under the blade and helps uniformity.)
A-maize-ingly good, and amazingly simple!
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AREPAS

- traditional masa cakes, tracing their roots to Venezuela/Columbia.

2 cups arepa flour (masarepa - a precooked cornmeal)
2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and form a well in the center. Add the oil and water; using a wooden spoon, gradually pull the dry ingredients into the wet until fully incorporated - let rest 5 minutes.

Knead the dough a few times in the bowl, then divide into 6-8 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball and flatted to approx. 1/2".

Heat 1/8 - 1/4" oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the arepas and cook until a light, golden brown - approx. 6-8 minutes; turn and cook the other side.

Transfer to a rack to drain.  Split and stuff, or just plate and top with desired topping.

Suggested toppings:

Roasted root vegetables; pulled pork; roasted shrimp; sauteed vegetables; rajas (sliced, roasted peppers); queso fresco; Monterey jack cheese.  You can also fill them with cheese before cooking by forming two cakes (each 1/2 desired final thickness), putting cheese on one and topping it with the other, sealing the edges before cooking.
TORTILLAS

-traditional Mexican soft flatbread.

1-3/4 cups masa harina
1-1/8 cups warm/hot water (tap is fine)

Mix the masa harina and water in a bowl until combined.

Turn the dough out and knead it a few times until smooth and easily workable.  Adjust consistency by adding small amounts of masa or sprinklings of water - dough should not be sticky.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for about 30 minutes or so.

Preheat a skillet or griddle to medium high.

Divide the dough into equal-sized balls.  Using a tortilla press or rolling pin, or your hands, press each ball between to sheets or plastic wrap, or two halves of a cut apart 1-gallon storace bag.

Remove from plastic and place on griddle/pan for approx. 30 seconds, or until browned and slightly puffy.  Turn and brown the second side for 30 seconds.

​Remove to a covered plate and complete with all remaining balls of dough.

YOU KNOW HOW YOU LIKE 'EM!
There's just something about crisp fall and winter mornings...

...that begs for coffee cake or a breakfast bread, whether you're enjoying the moment alone or having someone over for a visit or brunch.  I won't classify these offerings as an extravaganza, but they're some of my favorites, and quite frankly not that difficult to make. And, they incorporate the flavors and aromas of the fall and winter holidays.  Enjoy!!!
There's nothing flat about flatbread.


















​​Flatbread is a truly versatile addition to any cooking repertoire.  It's like an edible plate that you can put almost anything on; and you can even flavor the 'plate' to add another dimension to whatever you're serving. Because it's a bread, you can find a quick, easy, and fun recipe for flatbread here .  Just click and scroll down a bit. While many recipes for flatbread call for yeast, I prefer the no-yeast varieties - they provide a crispness and crunch that tends to get lost when yeast is added.  Save that for the more traditional pizza doughs. 
Summertime is salad time!!!
And one of the great things about salads (besides being a great source of nutrition) is that you can dress them up or beef them up to make a whole meal of a colorful accessory to a featured maim course, whether cooked inside or out. Additionally, if you're ​gluten free, you can usually drop any ingredients that have a gluten footprint and substitute some chopped nuts and get the same impact.

Here's a couple of ideas for you, based on salads experienced during some recent travels. Click on the newsletter link for the recipes and serving suggestions.

"Honeysuckle" salad
Newsletter - Vol 2 No 4

"Piano" salad
Newsletter - Vol 2 No 7
Want some bread with that salad?  Get a fresh baguette at your local market.  I slice it all at once, on the diagonal, and put it in a plastic bag - seems to keep better and stay softer that way, unlike storing it in the ubiquitous long paper bag.  THEN, put a stick of butter (salted gives better flavor) in a bowl and let it get soft. Meanwhile, take a couple of pieces of roasted red pepper and puree them (blot them dry first) - an immersion blender works well.  Using a fork or small spatula, thoroughly combine the butter and the pepper puree.  Makes for a great spread - adding another layer of flavor to your experience. 
BRANDIED CHERRY
CHEESECAKE
APRICOT CAKE
CAUTION: life can be the pits!!!
Yes, it's summer fruit season - apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries.  Local markets and farmer's markets are full of goodness.  Once you get those pesky pits out of the way, there's nothing but healthy goodness in store.  Click a pic, left or right, for some ideas, then take off on your own.  Nothing but yum!!!
BLACK FOREST
CHEESECAKE
PEACH MELBA
CHEESECAKE
​​
Pasta!!!



It's a fact!!   Sunshine grows on trees.
Those of you who get my newsletters know that I took advantage of the citrus trees growing in my brother's back yard in Tucson over the holidays.  
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Those folks you see in commercials easily picking fresh citrus from trees, well, they've had some help.  It's not as easy as you'd think, and picking fruit on the morning after a rare overnight thunderstorm is a guaranteed unplanned shower.  However, the resulting bounty is more than worth it.  I brought back oranges, lemons, and limes.  It's the lemons that got my attention as I already had some recipe favorites that were begging for some attention.  Whoever coined that lyric - "Lemon tree, vey pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat" - must never have sampled transformations such as I had in mind.  Follow along and try your hand at a Lemon/Rosemary combo (cheesecake and shortbread), and a delightful Lemon Raspberry undertaking in a cheesecake as well.  I had my first raspberry lemonade at a Dallas restaurant where a business associate was treating me to lunch.  Admittedly, combining those flavors in a cheesecake blends those tastes with considerably more intensity than in a beverage, but it's smooth and tasty.  The fresh lemon juice really pops!

Pick your own favorite and enjoy!

Lemon Rosemary Cheescake is here .  











And you can go here for the Lemon Rosemary Shortbread.
While you're having fun with shortbread, take a look at
the Gadgets page for a fun solution to getting that dough
​rolled just right - thickness guides.






Last but not least, here's the Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake.






Fo
PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

If pumpkin's your thing, and you enjoy it as part of your dining experience notwithstanding the passing of the holidays  , here's a take on it that gets you away from pumpkin pie and into the realm of cheesecake.  It's not hard to make, and with a little bit of extra effort can be presented in a centerpiece-worthy manner.
Orange Caraway Shortbread
Shortbread is my kind of goodie.  It's simple to make, but what you can make of it with your own combinations of added flavors and treatments will bring out the food artist in anyone.

This take-away from Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London was a surprise for me on a couple of fronts.  First was the simplicity of shortbread; the dough is a simple 3-ingredient mixture.  Second, the finesse required in the baking and presentation.  If you've got only a modicum of adventuresomeness in you, you'll have as much fun with it as I did when recreating this treat.  In London it was served with chocolate ganache, but it's equally as good with a cup of coffee; tea, if you're feeling very British.   Have a go at it!!


It's cranberry season!!!

At least to me, nothing says fall cooking like the arrival of cranberries in the local markets.   Growing up, cranberry sauce was always present any time there was turkey and dressing, whether on your own table, while visiting grandparents, or at a cafeteria while traveling  (if you're fortunate enough to remember that last instance).  The richness of color and robust flavor are unsurpassed; about the only thing that comes close is the unmistakeable orange in the wings of a migrating Monarch butterfly, telling you literally that fall is in the air.

A favorite variation is cranberry orange pecan cheesecake, something I cooked up when I made some cranberry sauce (just to see if I could) and then needed to find a use for it.  Give it a try - you'll find it here .


Even more of a good thing!!!

If you like your cranberries, but somehow don't like the idea of cranberry sauce and all of the sugar that entails, try your hand at some
Cranberry/Orange Bread .  It's got great flavor, and does equally as well plain, toasted with some butter, or with a schmear of cream cheese.  Anyway you choose to eat it, you'll for sure test your self-discipline.
Rainy days and Mondays...
The arrival of cooler fall weather, and the occasional gray, cloudy day, brings with it the possibility, and the opportunity, that you'll have a desire for a good breakfast, but without going out or in the company of friends. That doesn't mean you have to deny yourself the pleasure of a nice, leisurely breakfast to get your day off to a great start.  Hop over to the ​ Brunch page and head off what might otherwise be a case of the blues.