Eat and Drink

“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.”

– Thomas Keller



  • 1 sleeve puff pastry, thawed 30 minutes in the box, at room temperature
  • ½ cup fig jam or other favorite flavor
  • 1 8 oz. wheel of brie, double or triple cream
  • 1 egg well-beaten with a teaspoon of water


  • Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • Unwrap and unfold the thawed puff pastry. If using all-butter puff pastry, roll the pastry to 1/4-inch thickness. Carefully lay the pastry on the parchment-lined pan. Cut away a pastry strip to fit the size of your cookie cutter for decoration, if using.
  • Dollop half of the jam in the center of the pastry and spread to a circle about the size of the brie wheel. Lay the brie over top, and spread the rest of the jam on top of the brie.
  • Take one corner of the dough and pull it up and over the brie. Repeat with the remaining three corners, pressing the dough down to seal it on top.
  • Flip the pastry-brie package over.
  • Use a cookie cutter to cut a shape out of the spare piece of pastry. Lay the shape on top of the package.
  • Brush the pastry top and sides with egg wash.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts: Stories and Recipes from Five Generations of Black Country Cooks

People are always surprised that Black people reside in the hills of Appalachia. Those not surprised that we were there, are surprised that we stayed.

Years ago, when O. Henry Prize-winning writer Crystal Wilkinson was baking a jam cake, she felt her late grandmother’s presence. She soon realized that she was not the only cook in her kitchen; there were her ancestors, too, stirring, measuring, and braising alongside her. These are her kitchen ghosts, five generations of Black women who settled in Appalachia and made a life, a legacy, and a cuisine.

An expert cook, Wilkinson shares nearly forty family recipes rooted deep in the past, full of flavor—delicious favorites including Corn Pudding, Chicken and Dumplings, Granny Christine’s Jam Cake, and Praisesong Biscuits, brought to vivid life through stunning photography. Together, Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts honors the mothers who came before, the land that provided for generations of her family, and the untold heritage of Black Appalachia. (

Here are some of the best of the best cook books, from my bookshelf:

I love coffee. Have a mug every morning. Have tried many methods. My French press does an excellent job and isn’t expensive. I also have a Keurig because my man and I like coffee differently. Here are the best ways to make coffee at home. AND here’s what to do with the used grounds.

Hot Cocoa Mix

Here is a recipe for hot cocoa mix with vanilla powder that you can make at home. The chocolate pudding mix is new to me, but it does add body because dry (skim) milk can taste thin.

  • 3 1/3 cups dry (skim) milk
  • 1 1/2-2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 small package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla powder
  1. Measure out non-fat dry milk, then sift or crush until smooth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Sift together; mix well.
  3. This recipe makes about 1.5 quarts of dry hot cocoa powder.
  4. For the perfect cup of hot chocolate, mix 1/3 cup of the mix with 1 cup of boiling water.

This recipe is from Six Clever Sisters

Vegan Hot Cocoa Mix

Here is a recipe for vegan hot chocolate mix that you can make at home:

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup coconut sugar or vegan powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla powder (optional)
  1. Sift the cocoa powder and powdered sugar together in a small bowl.
  2. Add the salt and vanilla powder (if using). Mix well and store in an airtight container.
  3. When you’re ready to use, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the dry mix to the bottom of a mug, depending on how rich you like your hot chocolate.
  4. Add 1 cup of hot water or non-dairy milk and stir until the mix is dissolved.

This recipe is from Plant-Based on a Budget 

Or you can make American-style hot chocolate at home, for yourself, which is different from hot cocoa.

Great Holiday Recipes

Sweet Potato Fries by Mark Bittman


  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  1. Heat the oven to 400.
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into sticks ¼ to ½ inch wide and 3 inches long, and toss them with the oil.
  3. Mix the spices, salt and pepper in a small bowl, and toss them with the sweet potatoes. Spread them out on 2 rimmed baking sheets.
  4. Bake until brown and crisp on the bottom, about 15 minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is crisp, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

The Best Way to Store Lettuce to Keep It Fresh and Crisp

There are two things salad greens need to stay crisp: moisture and air. Many people think that the best way to keep lettuce crisp is to seal it up in a bag with all the air squeezed out, even to the point of inserting a straw into the bag to suck out every last molecule of air before sealing it shut. But removing the air is exactly the opposite of what lettuce needs.

How to Grate Fresh Ginger

Recipes by one of my favorite chefs – Dolester Miles   Coconut pecan cake (AKA Slap Your Mama Cake)  Blueberry Cobbler   Pear and Almond Tart   Lemon Meringue Tart  Strawberry Crostata  Dol’s Bourbon glaze   Lemon Bars  Bourbon glazed pound cake  

Chocolate Cravings Strike!

The BEST fudge brownies HERE OR

The (Almost) Best Fudge Brownies (this recipe is so much faster, but not quite as good) from Cafe Delites


  • 1 cup 8oz/240g unsalted butter, melted and cooled (Use the highest fat butter you can find)
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups (9oz/260g) white sugar
  • 1 cup (7oz/200g) packed light brown sugar
  • 4 (2oz/57g each) large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (3.5oz/130g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (3.5oz/100g) good quality, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 7 oz (200g) roughly chopped chocolate or large chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 175°C | 350°F.
  • Lightly grease an 8×12-inch baking pan* with cooking oil spray. Line with parchment paper (or baking paper); set aside.
  • Combine melted butter, oil, and sugars together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk well to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until lighter in color (another minute).
  • Sift in flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until JUST combined (do NOT overbeat as doing so will affect the texture of your brownies).
  • Fold in 3/4 of the chocolate pieces.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top out evenly, and top with remaining chocolate pieces.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes for just under-done brownies (fudgier texture) or until the centre of the brownies no longer jiggles and is JUST set to the touch.OR 35-40 minutes if you like your brownies well set and firm.NOTE: Brownies will continue baking and set in the hot pan out of the oven. If testing with a toothpick, the toothpick should come out dirty for fudge-textured brownies.
  • After 15-20 minutes, carefully remove them from the pan and allow them to cool to room temperature before slicing them into 16 brownies. They set while they cool. ENJOY!


  • Crushed walnuts, peanuts (not for me), almonds, pecans, etc. Chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, shredded coconut, dried fruit [I like chocolate chips or chunks and/or toasted, chopped pecans, nothing else]


  • Store at room temperature for 3 days, or refrigerator for up to 5 days. These brownies can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving OR reheat in the microwave.


*For thicker brownies, bake in a 7×11-inch pan for 40-45 minutes. For thinner brownies, bake in a 9×13-inch pan for 18-20 minutes.

PLEASE NOTE: An 8×12-inch pan bakes the most perfect brownies — thickness and texture.


  1. Do NOT overbeat your batter once the flour and cocoa powder are added. That creates air pockets in the batter which will give you cake-like textured brownies.
  2. Please try not to overbake them. Set a timer if you need to. I like mine at exactly 23 minutes in an 8×12-inch pan. You can go a little bit over if you like them set a bit more, but I don’t recommend it if you’re looking for the fudgiest brownies in the world. Remember, they will continue to bake slightly in the hot pan once pulled out of the oven,
  3. I bake my brownies on the top shelf in the oven. I find the middle shelf cooks them a lot faster, slightly burns them on the top, and dries them out.

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