Over the Christmas holidays, my paternal grandmother found me leafing through one of her cookbooks and told me I should take it home with me. First published in 1962, Helen Corbitt’s Potluck has been a rather entertaining read, believe it or not. Okay, so maybe I’m not dying to try “Veal Kidneys in Cognac”; but this is the cookbook where Grannie first found the recipe for Hershey Cake, which has become a staple with our family (she makes it every year for my mother’s birthday).

I’ve bookmarked a few recipes I want to try. Her recipe for French Dressing looked easy enough; but of course I can’t leave well enough alone and just follow a recipe, so here is my version:

Golden Salad Dressing

adapted from “French Dressing” recipe in Helen Corbitt’s Potluck by Helen Corbitt

2/3 c. olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice, vinegar, or a combination of the two
(I used 2 Tbsp. key lime juice and 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar)
1 teaspoon salt (or garlic salt)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (finely ground)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (I used a garlic press)
2 tablespoons dried chives
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste

Pour all ingredients into a jar with a tightly-sealing lid; shake vigorously.

Delicious. We’ve been eating salads for two weeks now!

This recipe was adapted from a recipe card one of my housemates gave me at brunch yesterday. My boyfriend and I made this last night at his house and we both loved it. I had mine with a little whipped cream, and he topped his with Peanut Butter Brittle ice cream. Warm, comforting, and it made the house smell AMAZING.

Fruit Crumble

4 softball-sized apples (ours were Golden Delicious)
half a small lemon
1/2 c. granulated brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1 c. white whole-wheat flour
2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. anise seed
1 & 1/2 sticks butter, very cold (12 tablespoons)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 13×9 Pyrex baking dish (I used butter). Core and slice your apples into 1/4 inch slices. Spread evenly into bottom of greased dish; squeeze the juice of the lemon half onto the apples. [Note: the original recipe indicated adding 1/2 c. sugar to the fruit; our apples were sweet, so we didn’t.] For the topping, mix the two sugars, the flour, and the spices into a large bowl. Cut the cold butter into 1/4 inch slices, and add to dry ingredients. Smush together with your fingers until the mixture looks like moist crumbs. Spread over the apples, and bake in the middle rack of the oven for 25 minutes.

Serves 6-8 (or more if you’re adding a healthy scoop of ice cream)

This would also be yummy atop oatmeal in the morning. 🙂

My mother used to have a refrigerator magnet that said, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” I always loved that sentiment. If you read this review, thank you for your time.  If you can’t read this review, Bob Bowdon might ask whether you went to public school in New Jersey.

The Cartel seeks to expose the public education system in the United States through the example set by the New Jersey public school system.  Asked to comment on the low level of education of today’s high school graduates, one educator calls it a “national disaster for the future of the United States Workforce”. Money and greed are prime culprits in this documentary, as tends to be the case (not unlike another of my favourite documentaries, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”); but what might surprise you is that Bowdon disagrees with New Jersey Governor Corzine’s decision to increase educational funding in the state budget.  Intrigued? Go see the documentary for yourself — it opens tonight at select theatres in New Jersey, and the success of this run will dictate whether or not there is a national release. If you aren’t in the New Jersey area, you can find more information at http://www.thecartelmovie.com/

Check out the trailer:

Ah, friends, where to begin?

I hope you enjoyed the Banana Bread.  I also hope you’ve got me on RSS feed, because, well, I’m sure you’ve all given up checking daily for new material.  (If not, well, aren’t YOU the cock-eyed optimist! And today’s your lucky day.)

I simply have Too Much going on in my life to write it all down right this second, but I would like to start blogging again.  (We’ll see how long this birthday resolution lasts, eh?)  So, if you’re reading, take a look at the list of potential topics below and hit me up with a comment letting me know which you think is most interesting.

1) My latest culinary adventures, including super-simple grilled asparagus;

2) Stories from my childhood — perhaps that time I got my head stuck in a ceiling fan?

3) Random design ideas that I currently enjoy — and no, I’m not really into Eames, though it’s popular;

4) Kyleen’s Tip of the Day! How to do/make/re-purpose something useful, culled from my own brain, my family’s tips & tricks, or perhaps somewhere out there on the innernetz.

And yes, I’m in a new relationship, and no, I still don’t want to blog about it.  Well, not regularly anyway.  🙂

So far, 27 is off to a GREAT start!

True, it has been way too long since I last blogged.  My life is changing (for the better), in both large and small ways, and I just haven’t taken the time to post.  But I’m back, because someone dear to me suggested I should blog some of my recipes, and this one is pretty tasty.

Produce often gets forgotten in our house, left to rot in a hanging basket or the bottom of the fridge.  I noticed  some aging bananas, so I decided to make use of them.  Here’s what I did, as adapted from the “I Hate to Cook Book”:

Banana Bread

6 very ripe bananas
1 stick margarine
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 c. bread flour
4 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp. orange extract
1 Tbsp. cardamom
3 tsp. baking powder
1 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Cream butter, margarine and sugar in a large bowl (I used an immersion blender).  Add bananas, mix, and add beaten eggs.  Add orange extract, cardamom, baking powder, and flour, and mix well (don’t over-beat).  Stir in walnuts.  Pour into greased Bundt pan.

Now here’s where it gets tricky — the original recipe called for baking in a loaf pan.  I felt there was too much batter, so I went with the Bundt pan.  It said bake for 35 min., but I forgot to set the timer, so I just kept checking back until the top was brown and the contents weren’t jiggly anymore.   If you come up with a more precise baking time, feel free to leave it in the comments.


Manhattan was ravaged by a catastrophic flood of epic proportions. The city was almost completely submerged, which made it vulnerable to an oceanic invasion: an attack by a giant squid, red and black and bulbous, tentacles nearly as long as the Empire State Building. The few remaining survivors raced from deserted apartment to deserted apartment scavaging for something among putrid ababdoned refrigerators. Then, just as a scientist was starting to explain why we desperately needed more broccoli salad, I woke up.

I think my brain is tired.

Grrr. I’ve been looking forward to this trip for weeks. My friend Cass lives in New Mexico, and this was supposed to be a three-day mother-daughter weekend of margaritas and girl talk in the mountains. I should have arrived in Albuquerque late last night, but two flight reassignments and one pointless $47 cab ride later, I STILL haven’t left New York. Between recession-inspired cancellations of all direct flights from NYC to ABQ and inclement weather in Minneapolis, I’ve been handed enough frustration to withstand a dirty martini and a Disaronno & coffee, and all it cost me was 14 hours of my vacation. Joy. Good thing I didn’t give up coffee or alcohol for Lent, or I’d be, well, let’s keep it G-rated and just say unpleasantly cranky.

Also, I’ve really fallen off the wagon here with blogging. Anyone still reading? Hit me up in the comments.

*title references one of my favourite Jake Armerding songs. Incidentally kinda wishing I’d gotten stuck in Minneapolis on the off chance I could’ve gotten to hang with him & his wife.

I’m going to take a friend’s sarcasm and laziness a step further. Liked his blog, so I’m just posting his link:

There. Content. Ta Da.

I took a sick day today, because my sinus mucosa was operating on hyperdrive, which apparently migrated into my chest cavity, inspiring the kind of sneezing & coughing that, if harnessed as raw energy could probably heat this house for a week. To add to that, any attempt at speaking simply sounded like a sad sound effect for my froggy pajamas, whose wrinkles evidenced the toss-&-turn attempts I’d made at sleep the night before.


So I made soup, ordered “plenty of fluids” from the deli, and watched two movies, which still left me enough time for copious amounts of introspection. And a surprise get-well-soon guest. And now, after a hot shower, clean sheets & pjams, and more good soup in front of Law & Order . . . I can’t seem to fall asleep. Today was everything a sick day is supposed to be, and I’m legitimately sick. So why do I feel guilty?

Fascinating, historic things happening as I write this:  Barack Obama will soon be inaugurated as the United States of America’s 44th (and first African-American, and first black) President.  Thanks to CNN.com Live with facebook, I’m watching the streaming coverage, and seeing all my friends’ facebook status updates.  Plus I’ve opened up another small window in the bottom of my screen so I can blog about it.  The excitement in Washington is palpable — you can see the smiles and the anticipation on people’s faces.  And when I say palpable, I mean it — I can feel it all the way up here in New York! 

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have been announced, and are taking the stage, and a murmur erupts through the crowd.  I’m sure they’re being shushed. [I wish the video feed wouldn’t lag, but at least the audio is consistent.] 

And now, here come Joe Biden and Barack Obama.  Barack Obama was elected in November, but I must say even though I felt the surge of electric excitement and watched people dancing in the streets, somehow it hasn’t felt real.  Today, now, watching the inauguration, I have tingles, and tears are welling.


During the height of the ceremony, my boss and our VP lost their connection, so they stood in the crook of my little desk, watching with me.  During now-President Obama’s speech, a few silent tears fell — from a sense of wonder on my part, I think.  I’m living through huge moments of history, and oh, I am so proud to be an American today.