Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gram's Tea (aka Grog)

Next time you are feeling under the weather, cuddle up with a blanket and my Gram's tea

For the past three days this girl has been S-I-C-K. Yes, I have caught whatever crap has been going around and it is a doozie! My symptoms have ranged from cough, congestion, body aches, and worst of all a fever of 101. Aside from being sick I am now officially bored to death. I have slept, knitted, watched every House Hunters Episode on HGTV and bubble bathed my way to raw skin. I am an active person and this is depressing!!!

OK enough complaining, right? You all have probably already had this bug and recovered.

When I was a little girl and got sick, I was very privileged to have my Gram and Pap H come to the rescue. Since my mom was a teacher it was not often that my sister and I got to stay home from school. As in most families, since both of my parents worked it made it hard for one of them to take off of work to stay with us at home. So those rare moments when we woke up a little ill, my mom would come in and take our temp, bring ginger ale and the bathroom trash can (in case of barfing emergencies) and head off to the phone to call my Gram. My Gram was a nurse for the majority of her life but by the time we were children she was retired. She worked in all wings of the Miner's Hospital but loved pediatrics the most. They lived about 30 minutes away, so after my mom called we waited for Gram. When she arrived, she was stern but sweet and I knew not to mess with her.   As I sat on my pallet, that was then made up on the couch in front of the TV (Strawberry Shortcake pillow and all,) Mom would begin telling her my symptoms.  Shortly thereafter, Mom would leave for work and Gram would take over. She was a nurse of the old school variety and a lot of it was very holistic. (Most of it is being prescribed now because more and more modern medicine is failing.)  If a fever was involved, she believed in sweating it out. So the footie PJs would be put on as well as multiple blankets. She kept us hydrated and she always made us this special tea.  Of course, at that age there was no whiskey in it, but as I grew up, this is the one ingredient that she added to the mix. As a kid,  I hated this stuff and I hated laying there "sweating it out" but I knew there was good things to come- Chicken noodle soup, a hand of Rummy or Kings on the Corner and of course Price is Right.  If I was real lucky, my Pap would go out and buy me some Cherry Soda. And a the end of the day,  there was always the hope in the back of my head that maybe tomorrow I will still be coughing too much and I will get to spend another day in Gram's care.

My Gram on duty at Miner's Hospital. Isn't she beautiful?

Today, I still make this tea when I am sick and especially before I go to bed. It is sooo much better than any cough syrup that you can buy and while it does have whiskey in it ........ have you ever looked at the ingredients in NyQuil??? Give this a try instead, and if you have a fever throw on a blanket and Sweat It Out!!!

Ham Cabbage and Potato Soup

Guess what?? I still have lots of cabbage from this weekend. Sooooo.... I cook!! This is a really simple recipe that is really filling and great from a cold winter day. My Dad used to whip up this soup after a holiday or any time we had a left over ham bone. He still does. I called him for the basic recipe and then added some of my special touches. No matter how you make this soup it will be great!

One of my cabbages- after 1 month in the garden. I just love the pic!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Halupki (Cabbage) Casserole

This past Saturday I was prompted to take some cooking action. Here in South Carolina we rarely get snow or any kind of inclement winter weather. They threaten us multiple times throughout the winter but usually that all it is- a threat! My friends and I always say that we think the weatherman and the local grocery store chains have an agreement that when grocery sales are a little low, their buddy the weatherman calls for some snow or ice. At the first sign of these threats families run out  and stock their cabinets and fridge. Cha- ching for the weatherman- luxury car payment for the month of February! But that is just our "conspiracy theory...."

Back to my story, so this Saturday as I am pulling in to my driveway from work and the gym, it starts to snowand it was coming down fast. Being from PA originally, snow does not bother me, but I know here all things cease. At first, I was put off by that but now I have learned to appreciate the time off in my normally busy life. In my back yard, I still was nurturing some veggies that I had planted in a fall garden. I had been using these veggies kind of slowly, but here where the weather is temperate, cabbages, collard and some root veggies will overwinter and be ready to eat at any time. Snow and freezing temps will challenge the cabbage though. So, out I go with my big butcher knife and a laundry basket to cut the rest of the cabbages -five in total, some as big as basketballs. So this weekend, I have been forced to cook cabbage; which is OK since I love it (and I was slacking a little on using them quickly enough.) As you all know, any time commitment to the kitchen makes me happy. In this case, not only do I get to eat something I love, I get to enjoy the time prepping it. And the best part, the cabbage was homegrown my ME!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream

Growing up, Valentine's Day was one of those holidays that I looked forward to. I couldn't wait to trudge through the snow to the old Hill's in Ebensburg to pick out my school Valentine's Day cards. I would look at the pictures and the sayings, always making sure the sentiment was right and the character was cool enough for that year. My sister was there too. She would look and look and then ultimately chose Barbie. She was always so pleased with herself and her choice (even though it was evident from the beginning what she would choose) and that would make us smile.  I carefully chose which student in my class got each Valentine and I never signed my name with a pen or pencil. I had a special Valentine's day stamp: a red stamp of my name "Rebecca" surrounded with little hearts that I happily pressed on the back of each card.

But the best part of Valentine's Day was always waiting for me on the kitchen table!!  It was from my Dad. Every Valentine's Day, my dad would go out of his way to make our day special. No matter what shift he worked, us three girls would walk into the kitchen at some point on Valentine's Day and find roses, little boxes of chocolates and a Valentine's Day card. Of course, my mom's would receive the largest bouquet: a big bundle of red roses sitting in the middle of the table. My sister and I would receive smaller vases of yellow or pink roses.  It was tradition for my Mom to read her card and cry. My Dad is a man of few words and his cards to my Mom (no matter the holiday) always seemed to say the absolute right things. Seeing how happy my Mom was on Valentine's Day getting those flowers from my Dad is one of my best Valentine's memories.  My Mom always take the time to take pictures of all the gifts then we would open chocolates, smell roses and say how beautiful everything was.  A lot of times my Dad was not even around when we received our gifts because he was working night shift and had already left for work while we were at school, but every year, there were our roses.

I am not a big believer in showing love through material means but I know that is not what my Dad was doing. He was letting us know that we were his family: "his girls" and even though he did not say it often, he made it known that  we could always count on him. He reaffirmed that commitment every February 14th. Even though his roses stopped arriving on Valentine's Day after I moved out of the house and started my "real" life,  I still think about those flowers every year and know that he is still there for me. He is one of the strongest people I know, and over the years he has offered me his quiet support and sound advice when "the going has been tough." Maybe it is because he and I are so alike but no one can speak to me in tough times quite like my Dad!! I am thankful everyday to have this strength in my life.

I believe that the little things that people do for each other make the biggest memories and the most meaningful gifts. Make a memory this year with someone you love. Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Bonbons and Biscotti is pleased to announce that this past Friday we were chosen to be one of the weekly featured blogs on FoodieBlogRoll. Check us out!

I appreciate all of my followers. If you have not already, tell a friend or family member about Bonbons and Biscotti! I would appreciate any referrals that you can give. And don't forget to follow me on Facebook at BonbonsBiscotti.

Spread the word- Share the Love!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Herb de Provence Roasted Cornish Hens

Herb de Provence Roasted Cornish Hens

In movies and on TV, they always make Valentine's Day look so glamorous. They show couples clad in red, chatting in romantic, cozy cafes where they are virtually alone, holding hands and making coy eye contact over a dish of steaming pasta or a chocolate delicacy. After the meal, over a glass of champagne or cappuchino, there is the ever present gift of something glittery or gold. I am swooning .... sign me up!!!! There are only a few things missing in this scene: the required reservation time that has now passed by at least 45 minutes, the restricted special event menu with non-restricted prices, the over-cooked "steak briquette," and the server that is MIA because he is at the bar trying to retrieve your specially advertised $15  "love potion" of the evening. Yeah, for those of us in the know..... You DO NOT go out for Valentine's Day (Attention: New Year's Eve also follows this rule.)

As soon as you step into most restaurants on February 14th, the lure of going out for Valentine's Day dies just about as quickly as those roses they shipped in half frozen from some distant locale.  It is all a lie people; a carefully marketed and advertised scheme to make us feel warm and fuzzy so we collectively pay millions of dollars each year.

So here is my ??? to you. Why not stay home, open a bottle of your favorite wine, turn on some Frank Sinatra and cook something really special together? It doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to take all day. It just has to be something that you both love and that will allow you to spend time together. Isn't that what Valentine's Day is all about? Being with your loved one? Get your hands dirty, laugh, make a mess.... There is something to be said about the close proximity of working in the kitchen... You  might find that you are so happy and relaxed that while your dinner of choice is in the oven, you feel the need to play "your song" and dance like you did when you first met.  What is better than that?  This year make Valentine's Day truly your day!

Remember the motto here at Bonbons and Biscotti- Love begins in the Kitchen. And on February 14th that is exactly where you will find me and my honey... in the kitchen, with a little Tony Bennett playing in the background.



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