The Biscuit Whisperer

❤️❤️Lawrie’s Favorite Buttermilk Biscuit: The Holy Grail of Biscuits!

On to THE biscuits! … I know I have been promising y’all this recipe and it’s  really just a typical list of biscuit ingredients. The secret is in the technique. I know you hate to hear that so I will be doing a video in near future to post here and I’ll let y’all watch me make them.  (As soon as I figure out my camera apparatus that is. LOL) But in the meantime here we go:

I didn’t even dirty a bowl. I have it down to a science… and you can too! Literally The BEST ever! Look no further. This is the one I use every time I bake my biscuits!….Very flaky.

Servings: Makes 12 to 20 biscuits depending on size you cut your biscuits.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), frozen Shredded
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour, frozen (I prefer White Lily for a true southern biscuit)
1 cup chilled buttermilk
Parchment paper
2 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat oven to 400° (convection setting) or 425° on regular bake setting
Measure 2 1/2 cups of flour in the bottom of a food processor and toss a full stick of butter in it to coat the butter in flour, (this keeps it from sticking to the blade) Use largest shredding blade to shred the stick of butter. (Or Grate frozen butter using large holes of a box grater).
Put shredded butter and flour in a Ziploc bag, toss lightly and store in freezer. That way whenever you are ready to make biscuits it’s pre-measured and ready to go …all you’d have to do is grab the bag, add 1c buttermilk, form and bake. 😁
Or if you don’t have a bag ready just toss together 1 stick of grated frozen butter and the 2.5 C Self Rising flour in a medium bowl. Chill in freezer 10 minutes if your flour wasn’t cold.
Dump the bag out onto a floured board or smooth work surface. I just use my granite countertop and don’t even dirty a bowl. Make a well in center of mixture. Gradually add the buttermilk, and stir with a fork 15 times, Dough will be quite crumbly and buttermilk will be absorbed. Don’t worry it’ll all come together. Don’t be tempted to add more buttermilk, just pull the flour into the well until absorbed.
Lightly sprinkle flour over top of dough. Using a bench scraper form a rectangle of your dough to bring it together. I just press it flat with the palm of my hands and keep forming its shape with the bench scraper. Fold the dough over itself and press down lightly. (As if you were folding a letter into 3rds to put in an envelope). Do this and then rotate dough and repeat process 4-5 times. Keep using your bench scraper as your tool to shape the dough into the rectangle and use it to slide under the ends to lift them up and fold over the dough.
This folding technique is what makes the flaky layers with the pockets of butter in the dough. You should be able to see the yellow shards of butter. It’s called laminating the dough and makes all the difference!


Alternate laminating technique: Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches). Fold dough in half so short ends meet. Repeat rolling and folding process 4 more times. Keep using your bench scraper to do this
Finally after all the folding is complete press or roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Then cut into squares with bench scraper (Or Cut with a 2 1/2-inch floured round cutter, reshaping scraps and flouring work surface as needed). Finally put cut biscuits on greased sheet pan. I prefer to use my clay sheet pan that I oil with butter or bacon grease as it crisps the bottoms so nicely. A cast iron skillet works great too.
Alternately you can place biscuits on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Freeze and then bag to bake another day. original recipe said to Bake at 475° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. But I use my convection setting at 400° for 10 to 12 minutes
Brush with melted butter while hot
For Crunchy-Bottomed Biscuits: Warm a cast-iron skillet in the oven, and spread a bit of butter in the skillet before adding the biscuits. The bottoms will end up crunchy and golden brown and provide a sturdy base that holds up to a smothering of sausage gravy.


So to summarize it all here.
From the “Biscuit Whisperer”

Just take 2 1/2 cups of self rising flour, (White Lily preferred) and one stick of grated butter. If I’m shredding my butter in my food processor, (largest shreds btw!), I like to make 2-4 bags worth & that way I can keep several bags of “ready to mix dough” in the freezer. Note: definitely only shred one stick at a time and then you need to put it with the 2 1/2 cups of self rising flour in that baggie, and then you can shred your next stick for another baggie. The proportions will stay accurate that way. Then when you’re ready to make biscuits just dump one baggie of frozen flour & shredded butter mixture onto a floured countertop, no bowl necessary. Make a well and gradually pour 1 cup of buttermilk in the well. As you are pouring the milk in use your bench cutters or a big fork to gently blend the flour into the milk until it is absorbed. No need to add any more buttermilk even though it will seem dry. Take a bench scraper and square it up and press it down and fold it over and over and over onto itself repeatedly, rotating as you go. It’s going to be very loose shaggy and crumbly but just use the scraper to shape it to form a rectangle each time. It’ll come together. Then use a rolling pin or the palms of your hand to flatten into a half inch thick rectangle shaped dough.. then use bench scraper to cut dough into squares so nothing is wasted. Put on clay sheet pan or whatever pan you choose. Bake at 400° Convection setting for 10-12 minutes. Or 425° on a regular bake setting. I turn off the oven after 10 min Baking time and leave the biscuits in for a couple more minutes while I plate other food.

total Yum. You can do this. 

Catchin’ Up….. Life on the Mt.

Catchin’ Up….. Life on the Mt..

Well I definitely need to catch y’all up on “life in the mountains” since we actually are no longer spending our life there.   Wow dropped a big one there, didn’t I! Yes DH got homesick for his roots in Louisiana.  So we packed up the cabin,  and having found the perfect house online, practically overnight,  we definitely put the cart before the horse and bought it!   All of 2019 was spent packing and moving it seemed. Has anyone of y’all done that lately? Wow what an obscene amount of work! 🤦‍♀️  Every day DH was either bringing stuff to be donated… or to the dump …or to a storage we had rented to ready it for the moving trucks. Yes I said TRUCKS, actually FIVE U-Hauls to be exact before it was all over. 🥴 It took 4 months to pack the cabin and 2 more months to unpack the boxes at our new home. That’s insane!  I don’t know how people do it ….oh wait…. maybe they have HELP!  DUH!

So while we settled into our new Louisiana French Country home we put the cabin on the market, and my red stove, dear Clarise, now has a new mom to warm her up and cook away!   But she’ll always be MyRedStove, my special inspiration, and my source of many incredible memories cooking for our family and friends and sharing the love that brought us all together.

But now all that that is taking place in our lovely new home in Louisiana, well at least it was until this crazy COVID 19 pandemic kept us all sequestered alone in our family unit bubbles, which in our case is just DH and me.   I so look forward to bringing friends and family back into our home again. Stay safe my friends.

Martha Washington’s Great Cake Recipe


All that’s left of Martha Washington’s Great Cake.

Well I told you I would get Martha Washington’s Great Cake recipe out and so after you’ve made your snow cream start soaking your fruits for this delicious cake that will bring you back to 18th century Virginia.

The recipe below was clipped from:

You will enjoy reading the original recipe there that calls for 40 eggs, 5 pounds of flour, 5 pounds of sugar, 5 pounds of fruit…you get the picture.  No wonder it was called her Great Cake!
Below is a modernized version of Martha Washington’s Great Cake, created by the author of Dining with the Washingtons (Nancy Carter Crump). The only  change I made was to add  a hearty splash of vanilla and almond extracts as well as toasted the almonds. I don’t think Martha would mind.


1 1/2 cups currants

1/3 cup chopped candied orange peel

1/3 cup chopped candied lemon peel

1/3 cup chopped candied citron

3/4 cup Madiera, divided

1/4 cup French brandy

3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs, separated


Combine currants, orange and lemon peels, and citron in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of Madeira and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Stir the reminder of the Madeira with the brandy; cover and set aside.
When ready to bake the cake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
Drain fruits in a large strainer set over a bowl, stirring occasionally to extract as much Madeira as possible. Add the strained Madeira to the set-aside Madeira and brandy.
Combine 1/4 cup of the flour with the fruit, and mix well. Add the almonds, and set aside. Sift the remaining flour with the nutmeg and mace.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is light. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating for several minutes after adding each ingredient. Whisk the egg yolks until they are light and smooth, and add them to the butter and sugar. Continue to beat for several minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Alternatively add the spiced flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and the Madiera and brandy, beating until smooth.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to form stiff peaks. By hand, gently fold them into the batter, combining lightly until well blended. By hand, fold in the fruit in thirds, mixing until well combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula, or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. If serving the cake plain, turn it out of the pan to cool completely. If finishing it with icing, turn the warm cake out of the pan onto a baking sheet, and proceed with the icing.
To ice the cake, spread Sugar Icing generously onto the surface, piling it high and swirling it around the top and sides. Set in the turned-off warm oven, and let sit for at least 3 hours, or until the cake is cool and the icing has hardened. The icing will crumble when the cake is sliced.
Sugar Icing Recipe for Great Cake:


3 large egg whites at room temperature

1 1/2 cups of sugar

2 tablespoons rose water or orange-flower water


In the bowl of an electric mixer, start beating the egg whites on low speed, gradually adding 2 tablespoons of the sugar. After about 3 minutes, or when they just begin to form soft peaks, increase the speed to high and continue adding the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until all the sugar is incorporated and the egg whites form soft peaks.
Add the rose water, and continue beating to form stiff peaks. Use immediately to ice the cake.

NOTE TO MY AGA FOLLOWERS: I baked this cake in the baking oven, (~325°), for one hour, in a tube pan placed on a rack that was sitting directly on the floor of my baking oven. As your oven temperature may vary  I would suggest you start testing the cake for doneness with a cake tester or wooden skewer after it has baked for one hour. I doubt you will  have to bake it beyond 1 hour 15 minutes.  Let cool completely before attempting to ice the cake. I placed my cooled cake on an upside down sheet pan covered in parchment paper. This will allow you to easily transfer the cake to your cake stand after the icing sets. After icing I slid the sheet pan with cake into my warming oven for two hours. Then  remove and completely cool. The icing will have formed a hard crust and crumble when cut just like it’s supposed to.

Bon Appetit y’all!

Lots of Powdery Snow Equals SNOW CREAM!

Snow Cream

Snow Cream

Thanks to my friend Sherrie, my childhood memory of snow cream was revived yesterday! It is exactly as it sounds, ice cream made with snow! Yumm and sooo easy. Just gather a big mixing bowl or pot of fresh clean snow. Add 1c of sugar, a big splash of vanilla extract, and then stir in enough milk to bring it to a creamy consistency. (Add it while stirring so you can tell…too much and it’ll be soupy). Then enjoy! You’ll love it. So if you are snowed in here’s  a fun way to take advantage of all that pretty white stuff outside😉

Catchin’ Up….. Life on the Mt.

Ok, I know, I’ve been MIA on my blog, it’s true.  So instead of starting off with a recipe I’ll catch you up on life on the mountain. I’ve been throwing myself into my arts and crafts for the winter and I’ve come out of retirement to teach again…But instead of teaching elementary school children the 3 R’s,  I am teaching adults my love of Scherenschnitte, (the German art of paper cutting).  Here are a few pics of some of my favorite artwork. Every piece is unique and all hand cut with tiny scissors and / or a scalpel.


My Frequent Visitor


Down the Rabbit Hole


Egyptian Scarab Beetle

Elephant Love

Elephant Love

This has taken over my brain I admit. I have been doing it sporadically for about 3-4 years now but really embraced it last Fall when I was asked to design a course and teach it for the local college as an enrichment course. There’s been quite lot of preparation, purchasing of tools for students, cutting and framing of late….so, what’s the old adage, “The teacher learns the most?” Seems I’ve found a creative outlet that is a great fit since all teachers love pens, paper, scissors,  don’t you know? 😉 Confession: I’ve always been addicted to school/office supplies.   This art does feed my soul, (and my ego, LOL) since I am being asked to teach these classes by groups other than the college, and as a featured artist, my art work is being shown at the college’s conference center for the months of Feb &  March. (Yep, that’s the ego part. Hey, we all love recognition, am I  right?)

Of course in addition to my paper cutting, I’m still  making baskets, wire jewelry, pottery,  sewing, crocheting, doing calligraphy, card making, coordinating craft classes for the county, and far from last and definitely not least … Baking & Cooking on My lovely Red Stove, Clarise the Aga!!

Our 14 chickens are laying to beat the band, even in this cold, so I have a wonderful supply of farm fresh eggs to bake with! And that is my segway into saying tomorrow I’ll post Martha Washington’s Great Cake Recipe that I made for our local “31 Club” Extension & Community Assoc. (ECA), Luncheon….. dubbed Washington’s Table, in honor of Washington’s birthday this week.  Although all my friends in Louisiana right now are saying, Washington’s cake, what about King Cake?!   IT WAS MARDI GRAS, FAT TUESDAY IN NEW ORLEANS!  So to all of you I say,  we have not forgotten, in fact DH  made a quick trip there to partake in the festivities and he and I have consumed TWO delicious  King Cakes all by ourselves since last week! 😮

The rest of you all who share in the snowy white stuff we’re experiencing now, do stay warm and be safe! Yes, it’s beautiful and I love the snow, but it has been  bitterly cold up here on this mountain this week. I think the low the other night was -7°! ❄️⛄️💨 I see more snow falling now so good time to just hunker down in front of the fire.  But first I have to shout out HAPPY BIRTHDAY! to my dear brother.

Now I can say nite all, go to bed Fred! 😴

Ode to Laura: Her Famous Red Beans & Rice!

On August 9th we sadly lost my DH’s 92 year old mom…still vibrant, smiling, feisty, active, and healthy right up to her sudden and unexpected end. But that’s how we’ll remember her, laughing, enjoying her lite beer, hi-balls, crawfish, oysters, and her love of family to which she was tirelessly devoted. She loved the city of New Orleans, which she called home for most of her life. Even though she came there from Nicaragua she readily adopted their culture, food, and habits. And in New Orleans it’s a tradition to have red beans and rice on Mondays. Almost every restaurant will offer it as their Monday special and you will find it on the tables of most native New Orleanians’ homes every Monday night. You see, back in the day, Monday was your typical wash day and the women needed a meal that they didn’t have to watch over or tend while they were busy washing clothes and therefore otherwise occupied. Slow cooking red beans, (kidney beans in case you weren’t sure what a red bean was), fit that bill perfectly.
All varieties of Camellia Brand dry beans were a staple on our Louisiana pantry shelves. Laura followed the tradition and religiously made red beans every Monday… and hers were legendary. She made them not only on Mondays but for all family gatherings, parties, and special requests from her three grown kids. We’d all frequently ask her to make a batch just to have in our freezers for quick meals.
So to honor Laura today, this Monday, I am sharing her recipe and technique which she gave to me many years ago. If you follow it I promise you won’t be disappointed! So plan ahead and make red beans and rice next Monday for your family. Here’s to you, Laura. R.I.P.

Laura’s New Orleans Style Red Beans & Rice:
This is a pressure cooker method so it’s fast and easy! Please follow your pressure cooker instructions. Cookers should never exceed half full when cooking beans.
The night before you plan on cooking your beans soak 1 lb of dry red beans/kidney beans overnight. The next day discard the water and now your beans are ready to be cooked.
In your pressure cooker melt 2 TBLS bacon grease.
Fry 1 lg onion chopped and 1 lg green bell pepper chopped
Brown chucks of pickled pork, (about 8 oz) and 1 lb of an all beef smoked sausage, sliced into 1″ rounds. (Laura preferred all beef to pork yet I’ve used whatever was handy, but today we are being true to HER recipe!)
Add 2-3 chopped garlic cloves
Now add your soaked beans
Add a dash or two of Worcestershire Sauce
Season with onion powder and salt and pepper.

Cover beans with about 2 inches of water….Laura used the “width of her two fingers” method of measuring. Hummm, my fingers were bigger than hers so maybe add a little less water than 2 inches.

Bring pressure up in your cooker until you have a steady rocking  and then start timing 45 minutes from that point. Turn off or take cooker off fire after 45 minutes and let pressure drop of its own accord. Do not run water over the top or try to speed up the cooling. This stage is an important part of the cooking process.

After pressure valve depresses on it’s own you can open the lid. Using a potato masher, smash some of the beans to make it a creamy consistency, but leave some beans whole.

NOTE: while beans are cooking, be sure to cook your rice. It’s traditional to use a long grain white rice with red beans. Ratio is 2 cups of water to 1 cup rice. Salt water. Cover & bring to boil, add rice. Then simmer covered for 20 minutes. Fluff with fork only.

To serve ladle your beans in a rimmed plate or gumbo bowl, making sure to include meat in each portion. Then top with a large scoop of cooked rice. (I like to use my large ice cream scoop for a pretty rounded presentation).

Garnish with some parsley or chopped green onions. Be sure to have a bottle of Tabasco or Crystal Hot Sauce, (my all time favorite!), on the table for guests to heat it up to their own tastes.
Serve with fresh French bread.

Here's a batch my brother cooked. He was compelled to text me the photo to brag on their deliciousness.

Here’s a batch my brother cooked. He was compelled to text me the photo to brag on their deliciousness.


Fresh GA Peaches Means It’s Time To Can Jam!

Oh yeah.. How I remember growing up with an abundance of sweet ripe juicy peaches during our Georgia summers… in particular the fresh peach ice cream, hand-cranked of course, was a taste I’ll never forget. But I’ll save that for another post.

Now one of my all-time favorites is peach preserves or peach jam depending on how much you crush your peaches. So today I thought I’d show you the “fruits” of my recent labor…my process of making peach preserves. If you have some nice chewy bread in the house, or better yet if you’ve made my sourdough bread from an earlier post, you will definitely want to put these preserves on top of a hot crispy piece of it. Double Yumm!

First let me stress the importance of having all your tools out and ready for use. Mise en place is a French phrase which means “putting in place”, as in set up. For canning in particular this is definitely necessary because in this case you’re  going to be working with hot sugared jam and when it’s  ready to be canned, you need to work efficiently and methodically. You can’t over or under-cook jam or else it won’t gel properly. Things will need your attention quickly and you’ll want to have your tools, food etc. within arms reach. So take the time to get everything set up before you start.

Here I’ve laid out all my tools, pots, jars, lids, everything I’m going to need, so these pictures are like reference lists for me for future canning projects.

Deep pots for water bath method of processing, along with helpful jar lifter, magnetized lid retriever and a wand that measures the head space. (All these can be gotten in a Ball canning accessory kit)

Deep pots for water bath method of processing, along with helpful jar lifter, magnetized lid retriever and a wand that measures the head space. (All these can be gotten in a Ball canning accessory kit)


Mixing bowls, jam pot, thermometer, funnel, spatula, spoons, paring knife, potato masher.

Mixing bowls, jam pot, thermometer, funnel, spatula, spoons, paring knife, potato masher.

Continue reading

Pizza Dough Recipe

1/4 cup + 2 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/2 cups bread flour, or All Purpose, but I used bread flour
Italian herb mix, and garlic powder or minced garlic, your preference here
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1 pkg pizza yeast
1 3/4 cups water, about 110 degrees (warm tap water)

Tip: I also found I can double this recipe in my mixer with no problems. You can refrigerate or freeze the dough you don’t use

Add to bowl of stand mixer, in this order: (I use a Kitchenaid)
2 tablespoons olive oil, flour, herbs, salt, sugar, & yeast.
Add water to mixture then using dough hook attachment mix on low speed at first for about 2 minutes, then increase to medium speed for 3-4 more minutes or until the dough forms a ball and leaves the sides of the bowl. I like to pause mixing to scrape the sides of the bowl so dough goes down. Then increase speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is stretchy and smooth. The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl but pull away from the sides. When I take dough out I hand knead it a few times to form a nice smooth ball, then using a bench cutter, I divide it into the portions I’ll need.

Pour remaining 1/4 c olive oil into rimmed baking sheet (I like to use my large stoneware bar pan my cousin gave me from Pampered Chef…it gives me that same effect of a pizza oven or the bottom of my Aga even though I am cooking the pizza on a middle rack). Spread oil over entire inner surface of pan with hands. Transfer dough to this large rimmed baking sheet stretching and pushing it toward edges as much as possible. (it won’t fill the pan’s surface until it rises). Carefully rub entire top surface of dough with olive oil …sometimes I can just flip my dough over in pan and then it’s coated quite well on both sides from the oil in the pan. Then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in warm place until dough has spread out to touch nearly each rim of baking sheet. (Takes about 2 hours.)

I use the hot roasting oven in my Aga but a conventional oven needs preheating to 550°F. Adjust oven rack to middle position.

The dough when risen is very squishy. It will have doubled in size. Before removing plastic wrap, I poke the center with my fingertips (to be thinner than the inch along the edge. Be gentle though to maintain air bubbles, push and stretch the dough into the corners of the pan by pressing out from the center. Carefully remove plastic wrap.

Top pizza as desired, (with that array of toppings we mentioned earlier), and bake until bottom is crisp and top surface is bubbling, about 15 to 25 minutes total. Allow to cool at room temperature for 5 minutes before cutting with pizza wheel. You will see how the oiled pan tends to “fry” that bottom crust so it won’t be soggy✅

Bon appetite y’all! Or should I say Buon appetito! 😋



Well, it’s the busy season up here in the Smokies. So many vacationing visitors and of course the seasonal folks are up enjoying their summer homes. Therefore activity is everywhere! I must say life in the mts of late has been so full that I am just now finding time to write. I love to take advantage of all the Appalachian arts and crafts and history the area has to offer. So since I last posted I’ve made a few baskets, learned chair caning, knitting and crocheting, (something I’ve always wanted to do since my mom and grandmother were experts), and also taken a memoir writing class. Oh yes, and we did squeeze a short trip to New Orleans in there too!

I also have to admit that my intentions.. to write a blog entry sooner… were well founded but unorganized. I’d finally make time to cook up a great recipe in between all the activity, but then forget to photograph it! And I know y’all want to see photographs, right?! So tonight I got it together …with the help of my friends that is. I told them they had to remind me to take some pics before we devoured our meal/subject matter! So thank you Dwight and Lori Ann…loyal blog followers and treasured friends, for that reminder tonight!

It’s been rainy and foggy all day and into the evening, so everyone seemed to enjoy cozying up to the warm Aga. I still can’t believe it’s mid July and we were barely hitting 60 degrees tonight! So it was a perfect night for our PIZZA THEME dinner at home in the cabin. I made the pizza dough this afternoon, giving it ample time to rise. It rose beautifully, all squishy and soft under its blanket of plastic wrap and EVOO. I also flavored the dough with lots of garlic, cheese and Italian herbs. No plain tasteless pizza crust in this house! As the dough rose in sheet trays on top of the warm Aga, I put my guests to work chopping our toppings and by the time we were finished we had quite an array of pizza topping choices. Ok, so maybe too many for just the 5 of us. But I have been known to overdo it. If a little is good then a lot is better, right? 😉
So here’s the array of topping choices we creatively arranged on our pizzas:

Lots of toppings to choose from!

Lots of toppings to choose from!

Mozzarella, Feta, & parmesan cheeses
red sauce
Sweet Italian sausages some crumbled some chopped in slices. I did roast these first for added depth of flavor.
Turkey Pepperoni (I swear you can’t tell the difference and it’s 70% less fat! That’s a no brainer!)
Artichoke hearts
Black olives
Baby Bella mushrooms
Roasted eggplant
Yellow and orange sweet peppers
Creole tomatoes…brought all the way back to NC from Louisiana on that recent trip to New Orleans… I might add I ALWAYS bring back special fav local La foods when we make those trips to see DH’s family there.

I’ll post my dough recipe tomorrow, but in the meantime here’s our pizza night…..

Now it’s always fun to get your guests involved in hands-on meals! That’s Lorie Ann and Debbie hard at work. 👍

Having a hands-on evening with friends is both casual & fun!

Having a hands-on evening with friends is both casual & fun!

Voila, hot out of the Aga! YUMM!😋

Voila, hot out of the Aga! YUMM!😋


More From My Birthday Dinner, Oriental Salad Recipe

Ramen Oriental Salad

Ramen Oriental Salad

Due to the many requests I’ve had for this salad I am posting it today as a follow up to our Oriental theme birthday dinner this week. We are still enjoying the leftovers as I thankfully made a double batch!


Salad Ingredients:
1 sm head green or red cabbage, chopped or shredded
1 lg head of napa cabbage, chopped or shredded
1 lg bunch green onions, chopped
Option: you can substitute 1 lg. bag cole slaw in a pinch

Crunchy Toppings:
2 Tbls butter
3 tbsp. sesame seeds, blk or white or a combo of the two
1/4 c sliced almonds
1 pkg dry crunchy Ramen noodles, chicken, shrimp or oriental flavor, well crushed
Melt butter, and brown seeds, almonds, and noodle pcs in skillet… being careful not to burn, but toast until light brown. Option: sprinkle the Ramen seasoning pkt in this mix. Blend well.

NOTE: You can add the little Ramen seasoning packet to either the crunchy topping or the salad dressing, if you like, …or you can omit it altogether. I’ve done it both ways. Many times there’s excessive salt or MSG contained in those seasoning pkts, so just read your ingredients label and go with what makes you comfortable…..your choice to add or not to add. It’s great either way so feel free to experiment.

1/4 c. sugar
1/8- 1/4 c (2-4 TBLS) flavorless oil, start with lesser amt only adding more if necessary for flavor balance
1/4 c apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s brand)
Ramen seasoning pkt (optional)
1/2 tsp. pepper
Heat sugar and cider, (& seasoning pkg if you are using it).
Whisk, & when sugar is melted/ fully dissolved, then remove from heat.
Add oil, Pepper. Whisk again until well blended.
Cool, but can use if it’s slightly warm
Place in mason jar with tight lid to shake well immediately before pouring onto salad as oil tends to separate easily. Refrigerate any leftover dressing.

NOTE: You may want to play around with the sugar, oil, vinegar ratios to your taste preference. I want mine both sweet and vinegary, with just enough oil to smooth it out and bind. You don’t want to pour tasteless oil over your salad! So just play with it until it’s to your liking.

Assemble salad right before serving…In big salad bowl toss greens, toppings and dressing well. I only toss as much as we will eat in that sitting. Then I save the leftover greens, crunchy toppings, and dressing separately so I can toss up another fresh batch tomorrow.

We oftentimes make a meal out of this salad by adding chunks of grilled chicken or  fish, or thin slices of beef or pork tenderloin on top. Following the Asian philosophy, use your protein addition as a condiment flavoring treat vs the main attraction. 3-4 ounces is ideal.

Bon appetite y’all!




Strawberry Chinese Birthday Cake!

Voila! My version of a Strawberry Chinese Birthday Cake!

I have to admit strawberries have always been a weakness of mine. My earliest recollection of being addicted to the sweet juicy fruit first started when Mama made the fatal mistake of setting my highchair at the end of the table within reach of her big bowl of strawberries. Unfortunately they were slated for the dinner guests’ dessert. They were so busy conversing and laughing amongst themselves, Mama failed to notice me snitching strawberry after strawberry until she was ready to serve dessert and found a totally empty bowl! She was so upset with me it left an indelible message, that being, “Strawberries are so good they deserve a special elevated place on the table and are obviously coveted by the grown-ups!” So to this day when strawberry season rolls around I start salivating, always remembering that first big bowl of sweet fruit.

This week was my birthday, notice I said week? I don’t like to restrict my birthday celebration to just one day; it’s much more fun to stretch it out for a week! I actually have been known to have birthday months! 😵👍 So with strawberry season in full swing, I thought I’d try to duplicate those special light strawberry cakes sold in Chinese bakeries. They are known as Chinese Birthday Cakes, a light sponge cake with fresh strawberry slices set in a bed of vanilla custard between the layers, then iced in a vanilla whipped cream, and finally topped with more strawberries. It’s the lightest most divine of fresh summer cakes and one of my all time favorites! I can’t think of a better birthday cake! I deplore those sugary sweet, dry, flavorless typical birthday cakes. 😝

So after researching a ton of different recipes, and knowing what components I wanted in my version, I finally created my own concoction of the infamous Chinese Strawberry Birthday Cake. 🎂🍰 I can now report that it was successfully duplicated… and it is delicious, if I do say so myself.

We had six friends join us last night for my Chinese theme dinner inspired by the Chinese Birthday Cake. So that makes a total of eight opinions, counting DH and me, and it was unanimous ….the cake was a total hit! Votes are in and it is a “10” on the YUMM chart‼️ We didn’t actually vote, but second helpings were had and only one serving left on the cake stand, so in my book that screams WINNER! Well that, and a lot of accolades as well.

This cake is rather complicated with its layers and various steps, but oh so worth the effort. So to help you get organized I divided each component’s ingredients and directions in separate sections below, vs listing total ingredients then a long list of directions. It helped me organize, mis en place, (French chef term for getting everything in its place before you begin), so hopefully breaking it down like this will simplify it for you too.

In bowl 1 mix together:
6 eggs yolks
6 TBLS granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBLS vanilla
1/2 c water and 1/3 c oil
Mix everything together till creamy

In bowl 1, over the egg yolk mixture, sift together:
3/4 c +1 TBLS All Purpose flour
2 TBLS cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder

In separate mixing bowl 2, whisk until stiff peaks form:
6 egg whites
4 TBLS powdered sugar
2 TBLS granulated sugar,
1 tsp cream of tartar (if you happen to use a copper bowl you can omit this)

Cake Directions:
Next fold the whites (bowl 2 mixture) into the yolks (bowl 1 mixture)
It’s okay to see strands of yellow and white. (Be gentle, do not flatten the whites. Best to do a little at a time)
Pour the batter into an ungreased 9″ springform pan. It will stick, but you want it to stick in order to rise, so do not grease the pan!
Smooth out batter and bake at 350 degrees in middle of oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (test from center of cake)
Turn cake upside down on raised cooling rack until cooled completely
When totally cool, remove the springform pan and cut off any brown bits of cake.
Cut in half to make two layers.

to be heated on stove so add to sauce pan:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup AP flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Then stir in 3/4 cup of milk, (add after other ingred were first blended together in pot)
In another small bowl mix:
1 egg beaten with 1/4 c milk. (Caution! Must be tempered. See directions.)
1 TBLS vanilla. Add to pot last
Custard directions:
Whisk sugar, flour, salt in pan. Then add 3/4 c milk. Bring to slight boil whisking continually, (just until little bubbles form around edges. Do not scrape bits off the sides or your custard will clump) Cook two minutes, still whisking continually until smooth, and remove from heat.
Now mix 1 beaten egg with 1/4 cup milk. Temper egg by slowly adding a ladleful of hot milk mixture into beaten egg mixture. Whisk continually while pouring. (This heats the egg temperature slowly & sufficiently so that you don’t get scrambled eggs vs a cream). Once tempered you can add this egg mixture into the sauce pan, again whisking vigorously to combine. Return pan to heat and keep whisking until smooth. As soon as it begins to slightly boil again, (just until little bubbles form around edges)… remove from heat and whisk in 1 TBLS vanilla.
Put plastic wrap over custard. (Literally press wrap on the custard itself so “pudding skin” will not form)
Chill at least two hours or overnight. You can drop the pan in a bowl of ice water to speed the process.

SYRUP: (in small pot on stove)
1 c water
1/2 c sugar
juice from 1/2 lemon
Mix and heat until sugar dissolves
Cool and reserve this for drizzling onto each cake layer before any filling is applied

1 pkg Knox gelatin (whisk in 1/4 c room temperature water for a few minutes to dissolve) Set aside
2 cups (1 pint) chilled heavy whipping cream
1/2 c confectionery sugar
1 TBLS vanilla
Whipped Cream Frosting Directions:
1) Add heavy whipping cream to very cold bowl with very cold whipping attachment, (pre-chill them in the freezer)
Beat on low for ~30 seconds until small bubbles form.
2) At this time, while mixer is running, add the confectionary sugar. Increase speed to medium for ~30 seconds or until beaters leave a trail in the cream.
3) Slowly add 1 TBLS vanilla.
4) Add cooled gelatin (make sure it is not coagulated like jello, or else you must liquefy it again before blending into frosting. The gelatin is the stabilizer)
5) Increase speed to high and whip until cream is soft and billowy and peaks form.
6) Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

CLEAR GLAZE: (to brush on top of fruit)
Heat 1/4 cup any type preserves with 1/4 c water. Boil to liquefy, reducing liquid to glaze consistency. Then strain. Keep glaze warm on back of stove as this is the final step before chilling entire cake where you will gently brush glaze over fruit pcs only, being careful not to get any on frosting. This makes the fruit shiny.

FILLING/TOP DECORATION: 1-2 pts fresh strawberries washed & sliced…take 6 of the prettiest ones & slice in halves for the top, being sure to keep green leaves intact on each half, remaining others are sliced thin for center filling. Reserve the biggest and best whole berry for center of cake.

First layer with custard & strawberry filling

First layer with custard & strawberry filling

Set-up: First place bottom cake layer on pretty cake stand (You can leave it on the bottom of springform pan and place on cake stand. TIP: put cake on a lazy susan and spin as you easily frost)
1) poke holes in the bottom layer then drizzle with a thin layer of syrup (keeps it moist)
2) spread a generous amount of custard on the bottom layer leaving 1/2 inch along edge
3) add strawberry slices to fully cover bottom layer covering custard completely, then add more custard on top of fruit slices
4) carefully top with second cake layer, gently press together, wiping away any excess custard from sides
5) repeat syrup drizzle step on top layer
6) cover top and sides of cake with very thin layer of whipped cream frosting (this is called a crumb coat)
7) apply a thick layer of frosting on top of crumb coat. Make pretty swirls with the back of a large serving spoon
8) place the 12 strawberry halves with stem greenery on top of cake in decorative pattern. You can place them accordingly to mark where to slice portions between them. Place the biggest prettiest uncut strawberry in the center of top of cake.
9) While clear glaze is still warm gently brush over fruit only, being careful not to get any on frosting!
10) Must CHILL cake now or serve immediately.

decorate sides with toasted almonds


Tomorrow I’ll cook… Today, a side trip in the Mts

After church and a great Thai meal, today was a relaxing Sunday drive on the Blue Ridge Pkwy. We went to one of our new favorite vantage points, Waterrock Knob, elevation 6293! Waterrock Knob is a mountain peak in North Carolina being the highest peak in the Plott Balsams mountain chain between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Great Balsam Mountains. Below is a pic of DH enjoying the view and cool temps. While others are sweltering in high 80’s and 90’s, it’s a cool breezy 70 up here.

DH at Waterrock Knob

DH at Waterrock Knob

Dough day, in my kitchen that means Sourdough Day!

After Hubby went to bed Wednesday night I realized I hadn’t fed my sourdough starter. Thursday evening we had a picnic planned with friends and I’d promised to bring deviled eggs….(my speciality since we have fresh eggs from our 14 happy hens…but I’ll save the chicken stories for another post!) So I figure I can knock those out by midday. But one of my friends has requested my infamous sourdough bread. I am happy to oblige, I just needed to feed my starter before bed so it would be ready for bread baking by morning. I have a wonderful very old sourdough starter that is very happy at our high mt altitude.. Or maybe it likes our mineral rich mountain well water. After feeding it the required flour and water, I then place it on the warm Aga to let the magic happen overnight. If you have not had the experience of using sourdough starters before, it really is like magic. Who knew flour and water and the bacteria from the air could do that! By morning, over the obligatory first cuppa coffee, I checked on my starter to make sure it was alive and well. I always get excited to see it’s active cultures bubbling and gurgling up the sides of the glass because THAT my friends makes the tangiest well risen loaves of bread. YUMM! Oh yes, it definitely grew overnight, the magic occurred. 👍


Starter the next morning after feeding.

Starter the next morning after feeding.

So that means it’s dough time!

For my friend, I made a rustic sourdough boule with my “everything style topping” consisting of a variety of sesame seeds and onions. The beauty of bread baking in an Aga is you get that brick oven effect with a wonderful crusty exterior and a soft chewy interior crumb. For regular ovens just get a baking stone for the same effect. Oh it smells devine! I think my friend will be pleased. (good thing I doubled my recipe so DH and I can enjoy some hot bread out of the oven……now where’s the butter! 😋


1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant rise yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups all purpose flour

1) Combine all of the ingredients, kneading to form a smooth dough. I like to use my Kitchenaid with dough hook.

2) Allow the dough to rise, in a covered oiled bowl, until it’s doubled in size, about 60- 90 minutes, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

3) Divide the dough in half; it’ll deflate somewhat. A bench cutter helps this task.

4) Shape the dough into two oval or round loaves, lightly kneading. Place the loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Tip: sprinkle some cornmeal under the loaf to keep it from sticking as well. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 425°F. (In my Aga I bake the bread directly of the floor of the roasting oven and on another stone pan on the top rack).

5) Spray the loaves with lukewarm water and add your toppings. Optional.

6) Make two fairly deep diagonal slashes in each; a serrated bread knife, wielded firmly, works well here, but I prefer the traditional French dough cutting tool, a Lame, …or you can use a razor blade, Be careful!

7) Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s a very deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool on a rack, if you can resist tearing into it that is! 😉

Sourdough Everything Topping Boule

Sourdough Everything Topping Boule

Meet Clarise: my red Aga & my daily inspiration!

So yes, it’s time to meet the inspiration behind My Red Stove. Meet Clarise, my claret red British beauty of an Aga. She’s a beast at 5 feet wide with four cast iron ovens serving up anything that can be roasted, baked, simmered, or warmed. Add two hobs..those double 12″ insulated burners on top that look more like giant closed waffle irons than burners, of which they can boil and simmer 6 pots at once if need be. And last but not least, add a large top warming plate. See why the love affair continues? 😘 It truly was love at first sight many years ago when I first lusted after an Aga in an upscale kitchen display in Atlanta. Acquiring one became a reality when we built our log cabin and decided to design our kitchen around this stove. Nothing could stop me from getting my dream cooker at that point. So we traveled to Aga Thyme in Charlotte for the demo and to put a down payment on the order. (BTW, incredibly nice people, Bonnie Fleming is the “Aga go-to-person” to be sure!) They then begin to build my custom Aga in England and six months later it’s shipped to us whereby a lovely installer, Walter Sands, (who has also traveled to England to be trained in the nuances of an Aga), …who for the next two days lovingly puts it all together piece by piece! I’m sure a surgeon couldn’t be more skilled than Walter! That was four years ago now and many a delicious meal has been devoured in our log cabin kitchen, all lovingly and delicately cooked by Clarise. Well, I did have a hand in it too of course. I love cooking on my red stove but if you aren’t cooking on an Aga don’t let that stop you from trying the recipes we’ll be cooking here. They’ll work for anyone and will be amazing from your stove too… if you just make sure to put the love ingredient in them. So kick back and share our adventures in the kitchen with Clarise and me. We hope you will enjoy My Red Stove as much as I do.

My log cabin kitchen!

My log cabin kitchen!