Happy New Year Buns

new years buns

This is a weird picture, but it’s the only one I have – we ate them too quickly. My family traditionally celebrates New Year’s Eve by staying in and eating dumplings. Tonight we made potstickers (fried and then steamed, made with unleavened dough) and baozi (steamed, leavened filled rolls).  We also made a batch of shrimp, ginger, garlic, spinach and water chestnut filling and used it for both batches. Here’s the recipe for the baozi – you’ll need a bamboo or metal tiered steamer and a food processor.

1 Tbs active dry yeast
1  cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg
3 1/2 cups all-purpose wheat flour or bread flour, plus more as needed. You can also use rice flour, barley, whole wheat or corn meal as part of the dry ingredients.

Add flour, sugar and yeast to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix.  Add water, oil and egg; process until well blended and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This is a soft dough.

Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 3 hours depending on the room temperature.

Stretch the dough out into a log with a diameter of about 2.5 inches. I generally let it lie coiled on a large cookie sheet lined with a Silplat. Using kitchen shears, cut the dough into 2 inch pieces (it should make around 25), and let rise again for at least 30 minutes. You can steam these plain for 20-25 minutes,  or you can fill them, like we did tonight. Flatten a piece of dough in your hand (oiling your fingers first makes this easier). Holding the dough cupped in your palm, put about 2 tsp of filling in the middle and fold the edges up in a pleat, squeeze shut. I like to roll the opening underneath the bun so that it doesn”t show, but it’s also traditional to keep them upright, showing off their little topknots.

Any filling you can imagine works well with this dough. I’ve had spicy pork, red bean paste, homemade jam, cream cheese and strawberries, butter-sugar-cinnamon, bean curd and pineapple boazi – they’re all good.

Happy New Year!

Plum Duff

plum duff

Normally I wouldn’t start a post off with a picture, but “Plum Duff” isn’t really going to tell you much all by itself. And the Wikipedia article will re-direct to “Spotted Dick” and then you’re REALLY going to need a picture. It’s a dessert, people. A lovely, delicious, traditional dessert created by people for whom the term “Spotted Dick” was a fond endearment.

For this recipe you’ll need a few specialty items. I always hate running across that in a recipe I perhaps haven’t read closely before starting out; “You’ll need a flugelhorn!”,  announces the author, brightly. “These days you can find one easily on Amazon!”.  So, advance warning, for this recipe you will need a pudding mold or basin with a lid or cover, a metal trivet to rest the mold on the bottom of a pot, either tall enough to enclose it, or close enough that a collar of aluminum foil will do the trick.

My Great Aunt Margaret’s Plum Duff

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups cooked prunes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cold milk plum duff 1
  • Beat eggs well.
  • Dissolve brown sugar in hot, melted shortening and whisk in the eggs slowly, so they don’t cook.
  • Add cooked prunes that have been drained and mashed with fork*.
  • Sift flour and add. Dissolve soda in milk and add last.
  • Fill greased pudding mold 2/3 full, cover lightly and steam one hour over rack in large cooking pot.
  • * This used to be a very messy process – cutting the prunes with a sharp pair of sewing scissors, cooking and then mashing the results. Now we can throw the cooked, drained fruit in the cuisinart and have done with it.

    Now mix in the prunes, add the flour. . .

    plum duff 2

    And spoon the whole mess into the greased pudding mold. Now would be a good time to mention that the pudding is going to be a solid mass in the bottom of this mold after you’ve cooked it and allowed it to cool. It will look like it is solidly glued in there, but no – set the pan in very hot water for a few minutes and then invert over a plate. It should fall right out – if not feel free to repeat the process. It’s not like this stuff is fragile.

    plum duff 4To the left in this photo is my aluminum trivet, useful for keeping the mold off the bottom of the pot. It is stamped “1820 Cincinnati” on the bottom, so hey – an antique! I expect modern trivets would work just as well. Also, please ignore the Goya Black Bean Soup can. I’m not making anything from this product placement – the can was there for our supper of huevos rancheros later on that night.

    I didn’t think I had a photo of the pot with its aluminum collar, but here it is. Evidently I’d thought I’d blog my recipe for huevos rancheros, because there’s all the fixin’s, but thought the better of it. Everybody already has a favorite recipe for those.  But waaayyy in the back there you can see how to make your stew pot a steamer for your pudding mold.

    plum duff 5Steam the pudding at a low to moderate temperature for about an hour. You shouldn’t be able to hear it boiling madly, and check about half way through to see that the water level still comes close to 3/4 of the way up the mold.Add more hot (from the tap) water if you’re getting low. The temperature may drop below simmer for a minute but it’s not going to bother your Duff.

    Cool the pudding in the mold overnight in a cool place, then unmold it and decorate for the season. I used horehound, lavender and geranium because this is Thanksgiving and you can never tell when someone is going to eat the garnish – better to make it all edible.

    Now go check out all the interesting steamed dishes out there, like The Bitten Word’s Persimmon Cake (which they did w/o a pudding mold).

    2 large eggs
    1/2 cup melted vegetable shortening
    1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    2 cups cooked prunes
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 tablespoons cold milk
    1. Beat eggs well.
    2. Dissolve brown sugar in hot, melted shortening and add to eggs.
    3. Add cooked prunes that have been drained and mashed with fork.
    4. Sift flour and add. Dissolve soda in milk and add last.
    5. Fill greased pudding molds 2/3 full, cover lightly and steam one hour over rack in large cooking pot.
    6. Serve hot with Rum Sauce or whipped crea

    2 large eggs

    1/2 cup melted vegetable shortening

    1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

    2 cups cooked prunes

    1 cup all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    2 tablespoons cold milk

    1. Beat eggs well.

    2. Dissolve brown sugar in hot, melted shortening and add to eggs.

    3. Add cooked prunes that have been drained and mashed with fork.

    4. Sift flour and add. Dissolve soda in milk and add last.

    5. Fill greased pudding molds 2/3 full, cover lightly and steam one hour over rack in large cooking pot.

    6. Serve hot with Rum Sauce or whipped cream.

    1. m.


    appling 1One of the great joys of autumn up North is the apple harvest. The “King of the Orchard” is a staple crop here, and the only orchard fruit to bear regularly and abundantly despite spring freezes and cold summer rain. Yesterday my friend Liz and I went to an abandoned homestead on the Douglas Highway on our lunch hour and picked grocery bags of apples: Baldwin, Yellow Transparent, Olive Crab, Winter Greening and a few others that I can’t identify even using “Apples in Maine“. I was picking with the intent of making applesauce so I tried to stay mostly with varieties I could identify. New England was planted all over with cider apples, and they have too much tannin to make a good sauce. Taste the fruit if you’re unfamiliar with the tree – people describe cider apples as “floury” or “dense and dry”. They may not even be particularly sour – it’s the texture that  leads to applesauce with the consistency of library paste. My particular rule of thumb is to only pick from trees within 60 feet of a house. The best “dessert apples”  were  planted where they could be tended and picked with a minimum of effort.

    It was probably our last good picking day for a while – 50 degrees and bright sun with hatches of midges and late mosquitoes swirling around our heads. Then I went home and made applesauce. For this recipe you’ll need a food mill. I have a Villaware and I love it.

    appling 2Wash your apples if you need to. None of these have been sprayed, and they grow at least a quarter mile from any road so a light rinse will do. Halve them and cut out the stem and blossom ends. I halve them only to check for rot or insect damage.

    Leave the skins and seeds for color and flavor. Pile the trimmed fruit into a large pot. Now add the secret ingredient –  2 C of sugar. Adding the sugar now allows it to blend with the finished sauce and, I think, improves the flavor and texture over adding sugar to the finished product. It also increases the liquid content, allowing you to add less water. Then add about 1 C of water mixed with 2 Tbs. lemon juice. Stir to coat the apples. I don’t add any spices at this point, preferring to spice the individual batches as I use them. Put a close fitting lid on the pot and cook at medium high for about 20 minutes, checking periodically to see if you need to add more water.

    appling 4The apples are ready when they’ve “exploded”. Turn off the heat and allow the juices to soak in for about half an hour with the pot still covered.

    appling 5Dump the apple mixture into your food mill in batches. It would be nice to wait long enough for the apples to cool to room temperature, but by this time it’s always 10:30 p.m. and I have to get on with it. By all means wait till you can comfortably handle the fruit if you have that luxury – it won’t do it any harm and you’ll avoid spatter burns. Crank the mixture through the mill. The Villaware produces a nice smooth sauce, ruddy and thick with the processed apple skins, and only about a cup of waste from a whole pot of apples.

    appling 6

    Dish yourself a sample of sauce and congratulate yourself on an efficient use of resources. You can put up the rest by canning, but applesauce is a fairly low acid food and prone to contamination. Consult your Blue Book for details or get yourself some real produce freezer bags from the Agway  and  freeze the sauce in meal size packets.

    appling 7According to Liz, this is pretty good stuff.

    Our Hardy Ancestors II


    You know what all these guys had in common? (Well, besides a gene pool and a fish dinner.)  They all liked cake. And, they all liked bacon. These “Hardy Ancestors” posts are dedicated to recipes that had their best days a lifetime ago, with my great-grandfather (an HA if there ever was one)  at the far left on the sofa. Days when food was abundant if you didn’t mind the lack of variety, and work was hard and long enough that you didn’t. And then there was dessert.

    My father liked a “planned dessert”. I don’t think my mother had ever heard of such a thing growing up, but it was an ongoing topic of discussion at the dinner table all their married lives. A planned dessert implied something thought out and prepared long before the meal: apple pie, butterscotch layer cake or bread pudding studded with raisins and served with hard sauce. The category did not include ice cream, store-bought cookies or instant pudding. Occasionally there would be a recipe that would satisfy both husband and wife – the perfect blend of yin and yang for ingredients, formality and ease of preparation. I give you:

    Cinnamon Bacon Sponge

    1 egg, beaten, 1/2 C sugar, 1/2 C molasses, 1/4 C melted bacon fat, 1/2 C boiling water

    1 tsp soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 and 1/8 C flour (a heaping cup)

    Mix the bacon fat with the boiling water. Stir, and when slightly cooled add the egg and sugars. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Place into a greased 8 x 8 pan an bake 35 to 40 minutes at 350. Serve with whipped cream.

    I like to add chopped apples or raisins, and I use the pan drippings from our best pepper bacon for extra kick. Bon appetit!


    Against all odds, we had a fairly good crop of basil this year. The wet spring set it back but the prolonged drought and intense heat in August made for bushy plants with bright green glossy leaves. I grow Genovese and sacred basil. They are markedly different plants, but a few leaves of basil o. in the Genovese makes for a smart, almost lemon accent. I also make incense of from the sacred basil; dried, crumbled and mixed in a paste of white beeswax to make small,  very potent cones.

    So, the other night (just ahead of the freeze warning) I harvested all the plants at once and set out to make pesto for the winter.

    pesto part I I don’t use pesticides and I’m in a fairly rural area so I don’t wash the leaves. I shake off the dust from our gravel road and rub the branches gently with a dish towel and they’re ready to go. If you do have to wash the plants, let them hang dry before continuing.

    I make a huge batch of very plain pesto at the end of the season – basil, olive oil and sea salt – and pack it in to freezer jars. Later, as I use a jar in a recipe, I may add garlic, pine nuts, white wine vinegar, walnut oil, etc.

    Use scissors to cut off the tough ends and blossoms. Dump the good parts into your food processor, add about 1/4 C olive oil and process until blended – but not yet pureed. Then add another batch of leaves, another 1/4 C of oil and some sea salt. Process until smooth, adding more oil if necessary. The processing time will vary based on the water content in the leaves and the amount of stems. You can do this in a blender, but it takes much longer and requires more oil. Pesto is actually the reason I have a food processor – I get along fine without a clothes dryer or a dishwasher, but I can’t make pesto without a Cuisinart.

    pesto 2It should look like this, and smell divine. You can be very ’70’s about this and freeze it in ice cube trays (pop the cubes out as soon as they are frozen and seal them in a plastic bag to avoid drying). I like to use the freezer jars from Ball. They’re stackable in the freezer, the lids screw down tightly, they clean up well and I’ll like them even better when I find them made of recycled materials.

    You’ll end up with an odd amount – too little to fill a jar. I suggest orrechiette (little ears) with chopped broccoli, Parmesan  and tons of pesto, and a little bit of crusty bread.  Just the thing after a long afternoon of putting food by.

    Take your largest metal pan. . .

    I love old recipes that start with that sort of line.  I have one that says; “hang the bear for three days in cold weather”, too.  But today’s post is about roasted vegetables. It has been 35 degrees here in the mornings, a good excuse to run the oven.

    roasted vegetables 1Oil up your largest pan. Really, you want leftovers – for quesadillas, soup, omelets, everything goes better with roasted vegetables.

    I harvested leeks, parsnips, carrots, onions, shallots and crab apples for this particular batch. I would have added my own potatoes, but the mice ate them, and I had to go to the farmers market and commiserate about the lousy weather.

    Add all of the cut up vegetables to a large bowl. In a 2 cup measure, add about a cup of olive oil, 2 tsp sea salt and pour it over and mix it around. My hippy book says to use your hands, but I can’t recommend it. Pour everything into the oiled pan, place in the oven and set temp to 400 degrees. About an hour into it, take the pan out of the oven and stir to coat the veggies thoroughly in the sauce. At this point I add minced garlic and whatever herbs sound good: rosemary, sage, parsley, fennel, caraway, whatever. Stir again and put back in the oven for 30 minutes.  Serve with whole wheat bread, local beer and cucumber salad with sour cream horseradish dressing.

    Bonus pics of the garden plus butterflies who really should have headed South already.

    roasted vegetables 2

    Raspberry redux



    We have a lot of raspberries, even in the worst year in memory for any kind of produce. They are soft – almost too fragile to pick – and seem to progress from hard pink to overripe in a matter of hours, but there are plenty of them. I’m sure part of the reason is that I have two hives of local pollinators who managed to get the job done even through near constant rain and below-average temperatures.

    Today I went out immediately after work and picked about 2 C before the rain caught me out. I actually heard the wall of water rushing through the trees, but didn’t make it to the house before I was soaked through and the bowl of berries was wet. I didn’t have enough for a batch of jam, so I mixed in some blueberries and made:

    Martha Louise Miller Barnard Synder’s Berry Delight

    1/4 C butter, 1/4 C flour, 3/4 C brown sugar, 1 C white sugar, 2 Tbs lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, 4 C berries (divided) Adjust the proportions up or down for the amount of berries you have on hand, and feel free to add a dash of allspice or cinnamon.

    Put all the ingredients except 2 C of the berries in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. I put all the ingredients in first and the berries on top, but I remember my mother and grandmother putting the berries in first. Cook, stirring often, until everything is melted together and the sauce is bubbling. Let it simmer for 3 – 6 minutes, depending on how thick you like your sauce. Empty the sauce into a serving bowl and let it cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved berries and serve warm, over vanilla ice cream. Or use as pie filling in a baked crust, or just eat with a soup spoon over the kitchen counter.

    My Grandmother (Martha Louise) had a house on a hill in New Hampshire where we spent summers picking blueberries into peanut butter tins, collecting the brass casings from .22 ammunition and swimming in Newfound Lake. The mothers stayed up late doing laundry on the wringer washer and making pots of Blueberry Delight, which is also very, very good with raspberries.

    Raspberry Jam

    Tonight we celebrate the first batch of raspberry jam from Garden 2009. We’ve had rain nearly every day this summer and the berries are soft and fragile. The canes have been blown off their supports so much of the fruit is hidden beneath overlapping branches or resting on the ground. Picking is a lot thornier this year as a result, and the mosquitoes add insult to prickliness.

    I like to use a large, plastic bowl for picking raspberries.  That way, when I jump back and let out a girlie scream because of the leopard toad (or fox sparrow, or grass snake) that just leapt up my leg, I don’t break the bowl and spillage is minimal.

    First, lay out your equipment. 2 Quarts of berries (5 C mashed) needs 7 C of sugar, 1 package of commercial pectin and makes about 9 Cups. You’ll need 4 pint jars, lids and screw tops, a canning funnel and  a jar lifter (both optional but make life a lot easier), a large kettle and a wooden spoon. Clean everything, including the kitchen counter where you will be working. Use clean dishtowels. Wash the jars out with ammonia and dish soap and leave them upside down in the dishrack until ready to fill. raspberry-jam-2Or hey – keep them in the dishwasher if you have a dishwasher. You probably do; I think I may be the only person I know who doesn’t. And you’ve seen my kitchen – if I had one I’d have to put it outside in the yard. Anyway, place the lids under water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, turn the heat off and let them sit in the hot water. Or, you know, dishwasher. I don’t have a dryer either. Make sure your wooden spoon is clean and aroma free, since the last time you used it was making black chili made with coffee and beer and you don’t want your jam redolent of either.

    So, 2 quarts of berries comes down to 5 Cups mashed in your good steel kettle.

    raspberry-jam-1Yes, there are a few blueberries in there. It happens.  Turn on the heat to medium high and stir a little until you get a small amount of juice forming. Add the pectin and stir until absorbed.

    This is all on the package directions, but you’ll want to wait till this mixture boils and add the sugar all at once.

    I agree, this looks like a lot of sugar.raspberry-jam-3

    What can I say? We’re preserving food here, folks, and before sugar was a problem involving weigh gain and rotting teeth, it was a preservative.

    After you dump this huge bowl of sugar in the pot and stir the lumps out the mixture will begin to look like JAM. Bring the mixture to a full boil that will not “stir down”, that is, will not stop when you stir into it. You’ll notice a complete change when this happens – the jam will appear to be made completely of tiny bubbles and it will grow up the sides of the pot. Lower the heat a little and keep stirring for one minute.

    Now allow the jam to sit while you grab those beautifully clean jars out of the dish rack/dishwasher and line them up on the clean cutting board with the pristine canning funnel in the first one. At this point you can take a metal spoon and skim the foam off the top of the mixturWe. This is probably a good idea if you don’t grow your own fruit – the foam can contain dust and impurities – but I skip this step. Give it one more stir to move the larger pieces off the bottom of the pan and pour into the jars, leaving about 1/4 inch head space. This is where an actual canning funnel comes in handy – there will be a line on the inside surface at exactly the right height. When all the jars are full, and you’ve dumped any leftover jam into a spare coffee cup or whatever, wipe the tops quickly with a paper towel to remove any splatter. There shouldn’t be much, but it will interfere with the seal of the lids.

    Carefully drain the lids without touching them with your fingers (I use the jar lifter to hold them in place). Place the lids on the jars without touching the undersides and screw the “screw top” down lightly. Move the jars to a towel or trivet using pot holders or the jar lifter – they’ll be very hot (ask me how I know) in a draft free place, close together but not touching. After a few minutes I turn them upside down for 10 minutes or so. Folklore says this improves the seal and the “mix” of heavy pieces in the syrup. I never have a problem with those things, so I keep doing it this way – experiential learning has its place, eh? Tighten the lids after the jars have cooled. The next day, check the seal – the top depression should be sucked down, not bowed up, and there should not be any leakage around the lid. If you have any doubt, refrigerate and use that jar right away.

    Be sure you mark the jars somehow. People can and do make lovely labels to celebrate the fruits of their labor, but I tend to grab a Sharpie and write the month and year on the lid. If there’s something different about the batch I write that too – I filled out the necessary amount with strawberries, or used ground oranges with this batch of peach preserves. All this is good to know when you grab a jar out of the canning cupboard to put on the waffles next Christmas morning, but you won’t necessarily need a beautiful label.

    Next, clean up (because there’s is nothing stickier or more beloved of ants than a batch of jam) and sample the leftovers from that coffee cup. And think about what to preserve next – lekvar? Rose hips? Mint jelly? The world is just waiting for you to cook it down and pour it into a clean jar.


    Monkey Bread

    monkey-breadThis is a really ugly photo of a wonderful cake. Seriously, it’s so good it has been massacred by its fans. I have no idea why this cake is called “Monkey Bread” – oh wait, I could look it up. Wikipedia says the origin of the name is not certain, but it may have been the cake’s resemblance to the Monkey Puzzle Tree, an ancient conifer that evolved spiky leaves to prevent the dinosaurs from eating it before it grew out of range. The leaves are so sharp that the French name for the tree is “Monkey’s Despair”. Monkeys are not native anywhere in the range of the tree, however, so we’ll let this one go as “uncertain origin”. I love the interwebs. Here is the recipe. Make it for dinner-desert and birthdays for those under 12 and over 70.   Not such a hit at bake sales and tea parties.

    You will need:

    1/2 C Brown Sugar
    * 2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
    * Bundt Cake Pan
    * 2 – 3 tsp Cinnamon

    2 recipes of your favorite buttermilk biscuits. Hint – if you’re doing this with children, or at camp, or even without any excuse what-so-ever, you can use three cans of those biscuits from the dairy case at the grocery store. Get the regular, non-flaky kind or they won’t fit in the bundt pan. And also, no one will be able to tell. There’s a reason they engineer this stuff – those are pretty good biscuits in the tube.

    1 C sugar

    1 pint blueberries or raspberries, or 1 C raisins

    Make the biscuit dough (or pop the tube – you know you want to). Cut the biscuits in to quarters. Put them in a plastic bag with the cup of white sugar and 2 (I use 3) tsp cinnamon and roll them around until coated. Pile the quarters in the bundt pan – try to lever the pieces up the sides and leave a tunnel in the middle for the fruit. Scatter the fruit and add the remaining pieces to cover.  I wish I’d taken some pictures during the process, but I had a load of laundry in, dinner at Aunt Y’s later in the day, weeds growing as I watched, you know the drill.

    Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the brown sugar, cook until “married”, as it says in my mother-in-law’s Joy of Cooking. Basically, the mixture will turn tan and bubbly. Don’t let it get too sticky, we’re not making candy here. Pour it over the biscuit pieces and fruit. Note that I didn’t mention greasing the bundt pan – I’ve never had this cake stick to any pan, no matter how fancy the shape. The dough is just no match for the half-tonne of butter we just poured over it.

    Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes until dark and shiny on top. Let it cool 15 – 20 minutes before you turn it out on to a generous plate – there will be a little extra sauce. Serve right then or store at room temperature for a day – I guarantee you won’t have it hanging around for longer than that. I like to serve this with extra fruit and whipped cream, because I hate my arteries.  Wonderful. Still no idea why they call it Monkey Bread.

    Recipe post: Summersnaps

    sugarsnaps in progressNot that it’s very summery here –  we’re having a damp, cool, long English spring. The high temperature here was 57 F and the low tonight is predicted to be 40 degrees, which is on the chilly side for the folks already filling up the campgrounds. Time to heat up the kitchen by making cookies!

    Summersnaps are spice cookies with fruit. This recipe calls for currants cooked briefly in lemonade to plump them. Cook, drain and pat the currants dry a little ahead of time so they’re not too hot when you add them to the batter. I’ve also used raisins, dried apricot pieces and dried apple chunks.

    • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/8 tsp 5 spice powder (optional, but nice)
    • 1 cup dried currants, cooked in lemonade, drained and cooled

    Cream the butter with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy and beat in the molasses. Into the bowl sift together the flour, the baking soda, the salt, and the spices, beat the dough until it is combined well, and stir in the currants. You can roll this dough into a log, cover with wax paper and slice into rounds after chilling for an hour. What I normally do is drop the dough by teaspoons into a bowl of sugar, roll into a ball and plop on a greased cookie sheet. Actually, as you can see from the photo, I’m a sucker for Silplat which has made all my dreams of successful cookie-baking come true.

    summersnaps ready to go

    I have a galley kitchen. The counter top is a slate blackboard from the old Pemetic School and measures 3′ by 23″, some of which is taken up by bottles of wine and jars of honey, the coffee grinder and a big box of PG Tips. The cookies in this photo are resting on a wonderful invention: the Baker’s Cooling Rack. I wouldn’t be able to handle 3 or 4 hot cookie sheets and a cooling rack any other way.