July 26, 2017

Many of the photos on my blog have been deleted.
When I first began this blog, the system I used did not allow direct uploading of photo images. I had to use a “3rd party” which was PhotoBucket.
A couple of weeks ago my photos were suddenly unavailable, all had a substitute “placeholder” with a link to click to “upgrade” to a more expensive 3rd party hosting service.
All of the photos on my blog were blocked, including the ones that had never been uploaded to PhotoBucket.
I complained and then I closed my account with PhotoBucket because I was angry they were holding my photos hostages.
Now the photos that have been uploaded to the blog since I stopped using PhotoBucket a few years ago are visible but I have to removed all the placeholders myself and upload the photos directly.
This is going to take some time, probably months.
I apologize for the delay but I can only sit at the computer for a finite time each day because of my health.

In the meantime, the text will still be viewable but photos will not if they are older posts and pages.


KEFIR – Grow Your Own Delicious Drink and Dairy Staple

When and where kefir was first “discovered” is really unknown.  What is known is that it has been made by nomads in central Asia for at least 2000 years. Travelers wrote about it, including Marco Polo as they encountered nomadic tribes while crossing the steppes on their way along the silk road and the spice routes to the east.

The nutritional benefits are many, even more than yogurt, although that is an excellent dairy food, the combination of bacterial cultures and yeast cultures in kefir “grains” consume the sugars in milk which cause problems for those who are lactose intolerant.  Allowing the culture to “work” for longer will reduce the lactose even more.  The “probiotics” help to restore the desirable intestinal flora in the gut following illness and treatment with antibiotics, which often disrupt this system.  It also helps with heartburn and “sour stomach” which plagues people with GERD.

Did you know that Kefir is very good in cooking and baking?  Did you know that you can use it instead of buttermilk in recipes – and that it gives a wonderful texture and flavor to quick breads and cakes.  You can sweeten it for a refreshing drink and for a sauce for fruit and other salads.  And you can strain it to make kefir “cheese” which works well in recipes that call for similar dairy foods.

Kefir requires no special equipment, does not even require the milk to be heated or incubated at higher than room temperatures.  All you need to start is to order some KEFIR GRAINS.  This is what they will look like when you first get them. This is about three tablespoons full.  This is what they look like after removing them from the kefir and rinsing them with cold water.

#1 kefir grains rinsed

Kefir “grains” are the “mother” cultures which will turn milk into kefir at normal room temperature, usually taking 24 hours. These are a combination of microorganisms that clump together by the action of polysaccharides.  These include lactobacilli, leuconostocs, lactococci, yeasts and acetic acid producing bacteria.   It looks rather like gelatinous curds, sort of like semi-transparent, whitish, gummi candies shaped like globules.  Some people liken the appearance to small cauliflower pieces.  The grains are chewy, rubbery and don’t have much flavor.

This is what they look like after adding a cup or so of milk.  They float at the surface.  In this photo the kefir grains have been placed in a half-gallon jar and 1 1/2 cups of regular milk has been added.

#2 After adding 1 1:2 cups of milk:

I put the jar WITH THE LID LOOSE in a pantry which remains about the same temp all year – around 75° F.  The “working” culture should be kept in a dark place, away from sunlight.

Some people recommend covering the jar with cloth to allow it to “breathe” but I found that a loose PLASTIC lid works just fine and many of the glass jars sold as canisters have one piece plastic lids that are dishwasher safe and work just fine and are easier to sterilize than cloth.  NEVER LEAVE THE JAR WITH THE LID SCREWED ON TIGHT!  The kefir culture produces some gas and if there is not sufficient room in the container, it can cause it to break.

This photo also shows a break in the culture near the bottom of the jar, this is normal and is just a layer of liquid – whey – that has separated from the curd and it recombines as soon as the kefir is stirred.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 2.07.15 PM

The process works fine with pasteurized milk, homogenized mild, ultra-pasteurized milk etc.  If you want to use raw milk it MUST BE PASTEURIZED prior to culturing with the the kefir grains.

The milk can be cultured for up to 48 hours but 24 hours is best, before adding more milk.  If the ambient temps are above 95, it is best to keep the culture in a cool place and check it every 12 hours and if the kefir grains are prominent on the surface and it looks somewhat dry, add some more milk.

DAY TWO.  This is after 24 hours.  As you can see, the culture has set and it appears to have expanded a bit as the kefir grains have swollen and multiplied.

#3 After one day set with 1+ cups of milk

I add another cup of milk, no need to stir, and return the jar, with its lid LOOSE to the pantry.

DAY THREE.  Another 24 hours has passed and the culture has again set and it is time to add another cup OR MORE of milk.  At this point the kefir grains have “grown” enough to culture a larger quantity of milk if you will be needing a greater volume soon.

#4 Second day + 2 cups milk

It should be set like this.  If there is some separation near the bottom with some visible liquid, just stir the kefir and then add the new milk.

#6 Third day, well set

DAY FIVE.  I forgot to take photos on day four.  The volume is now more than a quart.

#7 4th day + 4 cup milk

It is not quite set as firmly as previous days due to the volume.  Slightly less than one cup of milk will be added today.

#8 4th day set

DAY SIX.   It is ready to be strained and the kefir grains transferred to a clean jar to begin the process all over again.

#9 5th day + 5 cups milk

I have stirred the kefir to liquify the firm culture and separate the grains to make it easier to drain.

#10 grains stirred into culture before draining

USE ONLY WHITE PLASTIC OR STAINLESS STEEL UTENSILS AND STRAINER.  Other metals react with the acid in the kefir and impart unpleasant flavors.  If you need to use cloth to strain it, make sure it is well rinsed with cold water prior to use. Wring it out but leave it damp to make straining easier.

Draining kefir


Use white plastic strainer


kefir drained from grains

This is the finished kefir, ready to be stored in the fridge until needed.  It can be combined with fruit syrups, added to smoothies, and even mixed with cereal, cold or hot, for a nutritious breakfast or snack.  Any recipe that uses buttermilk or yogurt works with kefir.

kefir finished grains removed

Some people advise straining the kefir grains out and starting a new jar every 24 hours but I have found that this is unnecessary and too time consuming and it discourages many first-time, novice people.  Using a larger container – in this case a two-quart glass jar – and just adding a cup of milk each day for FIVE days and then straining it on the SIXTH day, works well for most folks.  And the result is a sufficient amount that can be transferred to a glass container to store in the fridge.

This is a 2.5 liter container so it will hold more than a single batch.  I have two of these so usually have one full and one partially filled.  I use a lot of kefir.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 2.06.51 PM


And after 6 weeks of repeated culturing, we have a lot more kefir grains which can be divided into additional containers to make larger batches or stored in milk in the fridge, which slows down the activity but you still have to add some milk every three days or so, instead of daily.

Kefir grains, drained and rinsed after 6 weeks

And you can share your “extra” kefir grains with others.  Once you understand that the production of kefir is very simple and the savings when you make your own is significant, you will never go back to the store-bought stuff with the “preservatives” and “coloring agents” and “artificial flavors” that processors add to increase shelf life.

There are numerous online sources of information about Kefir and places where you can order the grains if you do not have a health food store in your city that sells it.

For further information, search the links below.

Cultured Food Life  has some excellent information.

Authority Nutrition explains some health benefits of kefir.

Health Food Lover  has some recipes.

Live Pure Health has more recipes.   And has a page on making Kefir Cheese.

And for an extensive HISTORICAL perspective and just about anything and everything you would like to learn about kefir, there is

DOM’S KEFIR GRAINS AND KEFIR SITE with numerous links to other pages and information about OTHER types of cultures such as water (sugar) kefir, etc.




1 Comment

The GRISWOLD # 7 Oval Roaster – Dutch Oven with Lid goes to Ebay

SOLD!    I’ve owned this big oval roaster since 1964 when I “liberated” it from my mother when I visited in June that year.  It had been my grandmother’s and was left to me but prying stuff away from my mother was not very easy.  I came back to California with some very heavy luggage.  Fortunately in those days, overweight charges were reasonable.

I love this but it is too large and too heavy for me to use nowadays so it is going on the block, so to speak, and delight another generation of cooks.

It has been in nearly constant use since it was manufactured and has been well maintained.  The exterior is a bit rough and a bit crusty because I used it in the barbecue fairly often, but the interior is as near perfect as one can find in a well-used vessel.

1 Griswold # 7 main photo

2 Exterior bottom and side



6 Interior without flash

7 Interior 1



Leave a comment

From Chatting About Cozies, News from Victoria Hamilton



Hello, all… I know so many folks are having a hard time with the number of cozy mystery series that are not being renewed by Berkley. It looks like Vintage Kitchen Mysteries is among them; it has not been renewed beyond Book #5, White Colander Crime.

**HOWEVER**… Jaymie and the gang *WILL be back* in Book #6, Leave It To Cleaver. It will be published in ebook format only (sorry paper preferers) by Beyond The Page, who I already work with, republishing my Regency romances as Donna Lea Simpson. I’ll know a publication date soon…

I’m so excited to be carrying on, because there are stories left to tell! And I hope all those who love Jaymie and Queensville will follow…


Note from Andie.  I highly recommend this series.  As those of you who follow this blog, I am a bit of a fanatic about collecting vintage kitchen items, from the little odd gadgets to the big unusual appliances, cookware and everything in between.   I was excited when the first in the series, A Deadly Grind, appeared and it has just gotten better as the series progressed.  A nifty read for those of us who love the old goodies in our kitchens and in our reading.

Leave a comment

The TeaMate 690 by Chef’s Choice now on eBay

Chef’s Choice TeaMate ™  Made in Germany  for Edgecraft Corporation.

This is, in my opinion, the best electric tea brewer ever made.  Of course I have not had the opportunity to try ALL the electric automatic tea brewers “ever” made but I have tried quite a few, including some Goblin Teasmade units imported from England.

This appliance was introduced to the U.S. in late 1996 and was featured in several magazine and newspaper articles.  I saw an ad and an article about it in late 1996 in Tea, a Magazine (Published by Olde English Tea Company). Being already a collector of tea appliances, teapots, tea accessories, I had to have one.

I purchased a TeaMate 690 in 1997 and about a year later, I purchased this one, for “backup.”  I have used them both but this one only when I was away from home for a few weeks (took it with me as it was still in the box and easier to transport).

Unlike other tea brewers, it has a unique function in that it introduces STEAM into the brewing chamber that holds the tea leaves (tea bags are also acceptable) so the leaves “uncurl and expand, exposing more surface area for optimum extraction of flavor and aroma.”  Then, “A portion of the just-boiled water steeps tea leaves (or tea bags) for the precise pre-selected time period.  And “After steeping cycle, rich tea concentrate combines with the remaining just boiled water and flows into the preheated carafe…ready to pour the ultimate cup of tea!”

AND YOU USE LESS TEA PER CUP THAN WHEN BREWING IN A REGULAR TEA POT!  For the full 8 cups, FOUR scant spoons of tea is more than sufficient and with strong black teas, such as the Nilgiri or Assam, I use 3 and the tea is certainly strong enough.

And it is ideal for RE-STEEPING loose teas as many of the PREMIUM FULL-LEAF teas can be steeped multiple times – the brewing time just takes longer, which is why in THIS appliance the brewing time can be a long as 15 minutes!  The appliance has to be cold and cold fresh water added to the water chamber for this process to work reliably.

A friend, who bought one of these on my recommendation in 2000, is a fan of Pu-erh tea, a tea that is subjected to extended fermentation and is highly prized in China.  She re-steeps the Pu-erh up to TEN TIMES, and says the later infusions are better than the earlier ones.  I can’t say as I am NOT a fan of this tea, to me it tastes and smells like mildew – the folks who like it say it has the flavor of “damp forest floor” or “damp wood” and it is not to my taste.  (Frankly in some there is an aroma of wet chicken feathers, which really puts me off even attempting to taste it.)

In any event, the multiple steeping of black tea, green tea and especially OOLONGS  makes this an advantage when brewing expensive premium teas because with multiple steepings, the cost per cup is significantly reduced.

And you can BLEND your own teas.  A spoonful or two of black tea combined with a spoonful of one of the spice mixtures or spice tea mixtures will produce a lovely cup similar to the very popular CHAI teas and you can adjust it to YOUR preference.

I don’t know why this company decided to cease distribution in the U.S. but it is a shame because this was a very good appliance.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 1.29.51 PM

TeaMate Side:controls

5: T M Dispensing into carafe

6:T M finished dispensing

TeaMate brewing chamber

T M brew chamber w:o filter

T M Brew chamber w:o holder


2:Teamate box front

8: TeaMate box details

9: TeaMate box instructions

1 Comment

I put my pink 1960 Sunbeam Mixmaster on Ebay

I just listed my Pink Sunbeam Mixmaster Model 12 from 1960  on EBAY.

There are so many and I have to get rid of some so am putting them up for auction little by little.

The Model 12 was manufactured from 1957 to 1967 and was the first “Twelve-speed” Mixmaster (actually there were really just 11 speeds). And was very popular. Besides the basic white, it was made in this pretty pink color and also in Aqua, Yellow and Chrome.

This was not used much, the lady who owned it before me was a business woman who did only minimal cooking. She said she ate out most of the time.  Her kitchen was the then “fashionable” pink and gray.  I’ve had this one and another pink in my collection for about 25 years.  The base and stand on the other one suffered a “fatal” accident so I am selling it along with this complete one.

Pink #2

Pink #1


Pink #4

Leave a comment

A routine for preparing multiple batches of cookies.


This is not a compilation of recipes.  I am sure most people have their favorites or their “to try” recipes already lined up.

This is my routine for doing the chore of MEASURING all those dry ingredients ACCURATELY, ahead of time so the actual cookie mixing and baking is much less of a chore.

I have published it as a page so just click on the link above.

Leave a comment


I had a brainstorm this morning – a good one – and I’m passing it on to you.

I was mixing a batch of scones – the extremely easy ones that are made with SELF-RISING FLOUR (or SELF-RAISING Flour if you are in the UK) and heavy cream plus a little sugar – not much, scones should not be sweet like cake.

For this batch I decided to splurge a bit and added a couple of eggs and a little vanilla extract and about a tablespoon of oil (my preference is rice bran oil but any neutral vegetable oil will do) to make them a bit more tender.

The basic recipe is the same as my BISCUITS! recipe,

1 cup heavy cream
2 cups self-rising flour (it should be fresh – after several months the baking powder tends to lose strength but you can add some yourself)

For scones with just a hint of sweetness, add a 1/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or other flavor – almond, lemon or orange – with some of the zest grated from the rind)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

2 eggs.

Measure out everything.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, pour the
cream, add the
eggs and the

beat with a whisk to combine

add the sugar and vanilla and beat.

Add one cup of the flour and beat just until it is completely incorporated
add half of the remaining cup and beat until it looks like thick batter

It should hold its shape when mounded up. If not add a little more flour, stir to combine
and add more if it still seems too soft.

Usually at this point we turn the dough out onto a board and knead a bit more flour into it, cut into rounds and bake in the oven.
NOT TODAY, Today I am making waffles from this dough.
VARIATIONS: At this point you can add dried fruits – cranberries, raisins, chopped apricots, dates, figs, etc., to the dough, mixing well.
You can also substitute up to 1/3 the amount of flour with almond flour, other nut flours, coconut flour, and the various “exotic” flours that have become popular in the past few years. Sorghum flour (Bob’s Red Mill sweet white is excellent) is somewhat sweet so cut the sugar by half if using it. You can add finely chopped nuts or thinly sliced almonds but anything in larger chunks tends to stick between the bumps on the grid and pull the waffle apart when the top is opened. (I have experienced this so I know what happens).
My waffle iron is a “vintage” one that has the bare metal grids that need periodic “oiling” and I use the spray stuff.
It’s a regular waffle iron, I don’t care for the Belgian type. And with this treatment, it is virtually non-stick.

I used a “disher” or ice cream scoop – a large one but a serving spoon will work. The one pictured is a Size 8 – holds 4 ounces to the rim, obviously with the dough mounded up, there is probably 6 ounces in each scoop that goes onto the waffler.


The waffle iron when first turned on (Med/Hot) takes a while to heat up but once hot, stays so until turned off.
Yours may heat faster – and there should be a signal to show when it is hot.

I set my digital timer for 5 minutes.

When the light on the wafflers goes out – that signals it is hot.
I spray both grids – just roughly in the center ALWAYS spray oil when hot –

apply the dough to the center and close the iron and start the timer.


As soon as it sounds I open the waffler, remove the waffle with tongs to a cooling rack (so they will stay crisp)

The first is a plain one.  The second is one with dried cranberries added to the dough.


I give both grids a quick oil spritz and apply another batch of dough.

And so on until all the dough has been waffled…

The little “pockets” in these waffle scones are prefect for holding additions such as clotted cream, jam or jelly, whipped butter with honey or maple syrup or whatever you fancy.

And, when completely cool, they can be closed in a zip lock bag and refrigerated for a couple of days or frozen up to four or five weeks and reheated in your toaster or toaster oven.


1 Comment

Easy Cinnamon Raisin Rolls (or Dried Cranberries)

I’m a big fan of allowing appliances to do some of the tedious, repetitive work in the kitchen.

Specifically, the BREAD MACHINE  –  I don’t mean actually BAKING in it, although that works fine for regular bread.  But when you want something like rolls and especially cinnamon rolls, but find it a real chore to do the mixing, kneading and WATCHING while it rises a couple of times and needs punching down between rises.  So most folks don’t bother and will buy a lesser quality item from a store.

You can use any number of actual recipes for sweet dough and allow the machine to mix and knead and rise it.

That’s not what I am going to blog about today.

Boxed BREAD MIXES!   It’s funny that folks I know who think nothing of making a cake from a box mix, completely ignore the bread mixes in boxes.  You can even buy them from Amazon  and they are excellent.

If you are not going to bake in the bread machine, you can use TWO bread mixes and I like to combine “flavors” to get the end product I prefer.

For this batch of cinnamon rolls I used ONE box of Krusteaz Hawaiian Sweet bread and one box of Hodgson Mill Wholesome White (a local market carries almost the full line of Hodgson Mill bread mixes).

First I add up the amount of WARM water for both mixes because my machine says put the liquid in the pan first.  I then add the oil or fat specified – I used half butter and half rice bran oil because using oil produces a bread that has more moisture and takes longer to stale.

Then I dump in the bread mix, level it off and add just ONE of the yeast packets, you can add both but it is usually not necessary.

I also add TWO TABLESPOONS of sugar.  Then load the pan into the machine making sure it is locked down.  Close the lid, you can watch but wait till most of the flour has been moistened – unless you want flour blown into your face.

Select the DOUGH setting and push START.  After it has been mixing for awhile, check to make sure it looks okay, like dough and not like batter (a sign of too much liquid).  You can add a little more flour a tablespoon at a time.  If everything looks okay, go off and do something else, the machine will take care of the dough and will stop when the cycle is finished and it doesn’t hurt to leave it in there for a while longer, it may rise to the top and hit the window, but that’s okay.

While all that is going on you can mix up a batch of cinnamon/sugar.   1/2 cup sugar (or Truvia for those who like it) to 2 Tablespoons of cinnamon (if you really like cinnamon, add a bit more)  and 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg – you can omit this if you like or you can substitute ground cardamom, if you like it.

Measure out 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped pecans – or another nut if you like  and  1/2 cup of raisins.

Mix the raisins and nuts together and toss with a scant Tablespoon of flour, making sure the raisins aren’t clumped together, then add the cinnamon/sugar mix and toss so the fruit and nuts are evenly distributed.  You can make this ahead and store in an airtight container.

Now comes the fun.

Put a little pile of flour in one corner of your working area and generously sprinkle some over the counter or board where you will work the dough.

Knead it a bit until it looks like this and has a “springy” feel.



Now divide it in half because we are only going to use half today and the other half is going to “rest” in the fridge, in a plastic bag which you have oiled lightly inside (or spritzed with some cooking spray).




Knead today’s half until it is again nicely shaped and cover it with a kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Flatten it with your hands and stretch it into an approximate rectangle, doesn’t have to be perfectly shaped.   You can use a rolling pin to flatten it even further, you want it to be no more than 1/2 inch thick, a little thinner is okay.

Now brush the dough with half of the melted butter leaving 1 1/2 inches bare on the far side, then spread the filling over it, again leaving about 1 1/2 inches bare at the side opposite the one near you.  (If you don’t want to use butter to save calories, just sprits the dough with water – it helps with the sticking together and the rising.)

Like this.



Now start rolling it up into a cylinder, tightly, tucking in any stray bits of filling that try to escape. Brush or spritz the bare edge with water and finish rolling, pinching the free edge into the dough of the outside.

And it should look like this:



Put the “seam” side down and with a sharp knife, cut the roll into pieces about 1 1/2 inches wide.  Like this.


I used a “bench knife” but any sharp, non-serrated, blade will work.

Arranged the segments on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan (I like lots of crust so use a sheet pan or in this case a pizza pan).

Cover with your towel and set the timer for 30 minutes.


When the timer sounds, turn on your oven to 350° F.

Leave the rolls covered for another 10 minutes while the oven is heating.

NOW!  Brush the tops with the rest of the melted butter.


And sprinkle with the reserved cinnamon sugar.  



Place the pan on the middle rack in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes.

When the timer sound, turn the oven off but don’t open the door – wait 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, onto a cooling rack and wait about 10 minutes.


Now you can use a spatula to transfer the rolls to the rack, don’t burn yourself on the hot pan or handling the rolls – they will be very hot, especially the sugary stuff.




1 Comment

My collections are going on ebay. Some of them…

I have been selling a few of my things on ebay, but now have decided to sell more.  In many cases it is difficult saying goodbye to things I have cherished for so many years – or in some cases decades – but now it is time to part with them and reclaim the space they have occupied in my house.

At present I have several vintage items on auction at my ebay.

There are some “watchers” on some of the items but no outright bids as yet.

One person sent me a private message explaining that she is reluctant to bid on ebay items because of the possibility of getting into a “bidding war” and driving the price up past what she would like to pay.

HAVEN’T THESE PEOPLE EVER HEARD OF BIDNAPPER??  There are other “robot” bidding systems, but I have used Bidnapper for years and with great success.  Only ONCE have I failed to win an auction and that was my fault.

One can set the absolute maximum one is willing to pay for an item and forget about the auction until after it ends.  Bidnapper will notify you if there is an active bid for a higher amount – ignore it because you don’t want to spend more.   After the end of the auction, bidnapper will notify your that you have won (or not) and you can go to ebay and complete the transaction.  It is so EASY, it is something a child can do.

Anyway, I am ready to add this pretty set of SUNBEAM ART DECO Coffee and Tea servers with their own “stoves” (what manufacturers called hot plates specifically made for appliances in the ’30s), cream and sugar and tray.   This design is so evocative of that era that I would not be surprised to see Hercule Poirot pouring a “tisane” from one of these pots.

SB 1

The next photo with the “stoves” in front.  They heat up rapidly.

SB 2

Close up of the cream and sugar.

SB 6

Close ups of one of the stoves top and bottom:

SB 7

SB 8

Close ups of the coffee and tea carafes:  They have some surface scratches – not surprising since they are about 80 years old!

I have not attempted to polish them but have been assured some careful applications of Semichrome – and some elbow grease will do wonders.

SB 10 SB 9