Category Archives: Pat AAR

Winter Warmers: Ad Hoc Scalloped Potatoes

potato2A lot of my recipes are those I’ve sort of made up through goofing around in the kitchen, not really having the ingredients I’m supposed to have to make the recipe I’ve got in mind to cook. So what starts out to be something out of a cookbook turns out to be a variation on a theme. My scalloped potatoes is one of those recipes.

You can make this in a deep baking dish (which I usually do) or in a lasagna-type pan (which I’ve done when the baking dishes aren’t washed and I’m too lazy to wash one by hand).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

6-8 potatoes washed and sliced into about 1/4″ pieces (I leave the skins on since I heard that skins are good for you, but you don’t have to)

large onion or a bunch of green onions cut into bite-sized pieces

ham slice cut into bite-sized pieces (I usually use ham and about a third of a summer sausage cut into bite-sized pieces because the summer sausage adds some of its own spice, but this isn’t absolutely needed)

dill or another spice either fresh or dried, to taste

2 cups milk (I’ve used whole, 2 percent, and skim at one time or another; all work)

1/4 cup flour

1/4 butter or margarine

non-stick spray like Pam Continue reading

Summer Recipe: Pat’s Yellow Potato Salad

Elsie Callahan PhillipsThis has been a mainstay of summer eating since I can remember. I grew up in Nebraska where summer meals were pretty standard: Steak, potato salad, corn on the cob. Usually there was strawberry shortcake, ice cream, or cobbler for dessert, but other than those choices the meals were fairly uniform.

This recipe was passed down to me from my paternal grandmother (seen in the photo), and I in turn passed the potato salad habit onto our daughters, the older of whom has carried it with her wherever she is in the world. She served it for her birthday while she was in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua and now makes it in Rome where she’s living with her husband and twins. (Our younger daughter, despite living in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the foodie capitals of the world, refuses to cook, so only eats potato salad when I make it.) Continue reading

All Roads Lead to Rome

Appia3When my daughter, son-in-law, and grand-twins moved from Washington, DC, to Rome because Richard was promoted, my husband and I were dismayed. Fortunately, the United Nations, for whom Richard works, gives a travel allowance that lets them visit us in California once a year. But until this summer, we’ve never visited them in Rome.

Unlike most young Romans who live in the city, Sarah and Richard don’t rent an apartment in a highrise building, instead renting a house close to the center of town. In fact, they live on the Appia Antinca (the Appian Way) across from the catacombs and down the street from the Domine Quo Vadis church.

The Appia Antica is walled along their part of the road with car-wide entrances off the Appia for residents. The entrance to my daughter’s house goes uphill a few feet and ends at three gates, the one to the left leading to an apartment complex, to the right a sanitarium, and straight ahead to Sarah’s and her landlady’s houses.

The story goes that Sarah’s house was originally the stables for the villa where her landlady and her family live. No one knows if this is true or not since the building is centuries old and accurate information wasn’t passed down. Continue reading

Merry Cajun Christmas

Christmas Dinner - Cajun Style

Christmas Dinner - Cajun Style

I grew up in Nebraska where Christmas turkey, dressing, gravy, and the trimmings were standard fare. But my family never celebrated in the traditional Nebraska way.

Instead, we drove from Nebraska to Louisiana to spend the holiday with my Cajun relatives in Evangeline Country.

The differences between Nebraska and Louisiana were numerous and striking:

In Louisiana just about everyone spoke Cajun French, not English like they did in Nebraska. While my aunts, uncles, and cousins spoke English, my grandmother only spoke French which meant that every year my siblings and I had to relearn the language we hadn’t used since the previous Christmas.

Holiday food in Louisiana was very different than the food we ate in Nebraska. Making hogs head cheese and pralines took the place of making fruitcake and cookies. The holiday meal was a huge bowl of gumbo and rice instead of a turkey. The gumbo consisted of shellfish and chicken and sausage swimming in a brown roux served over rice. Continue reading

Castle in the Air

Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion

Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion

I rarely watch television anymore. I just can’t seem to relate positively to most of the popular shows. Having been through a few medical procedures and operations, I don’t care to watch hospital dramas, and frankly, House just plain old scares me. The same for the CSI’s after the one hold up at a 7-11 at 9 at night that I was in.

But I do watch Castle. As a writer and reader, I enjoy watching the interplay between mystery writer Richard Castle and NYPD detective Kate Beckett. Having met quite a few detectives through the years, I recognize Beckett’s no-nonsense approach to crime, and knowing quite a few mystery writers, I understand Castle’s outside-the-box-thinking about why people do what they do.

More important to me, however, is the family dynamic in the program. Continue reading