Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Jackalope Trading Company Portrays the Southwest.

Jackalope Trading Company  

188 South Main Street
Monticello, Utah, 84535

Phone: (435) 459-1107

Hours and days of operation are Tues-Thurs (9am-6pm), Fri-Sat (10am-8pm), Closed Sun-Mon.

The Jackalope, aka The Warrior Rabbit, was first encountered by John Coulter, the first white man to set foot inside, what is now known as, the State of Wyoming.  By the 1940s, Douglas, Wyoming was known as the “Jackalope Capital of the World” being overrun by the pesky critters.  The legislators knew a good legend, and tourist draw, when they saw it, so in 2005, the Jackalope became Wyoming’s “Official Mythical Creature”.  These creatures are most definitely not on the endangered species roll, so the Douglas Chamber of Commerce issues thousands of Jackalope hunting licenses; despite rules specifying that the hunter cannot have an IQ higher than 72 and can hunt only between midnight and 2 a.m. each June 31st.

Now for those of you (yes, the two of you) who have no clue as to what a Jackalope is, it is a species of antlered rabbit, mostly brown in color (genetics does produce other colors occasionally), between 3 to 5 pounds in weight, and can travel up to a speed of 90…yes, 90, miles per hour.  They’re said to be a cross between a pygmy deer and a vorpal bunny (ala Monty Python and the Holy Grail), therefore, extremely aggressive and vicious.  This species is not North American specific, but has cousins in Germany (wolperdinger) and Sweden (skvader) with illustrations depicted in 16th century scholarly works!  Then, of course, there are those who have to take the fun out of the legend by stating a virus called papillomatosis, or Jackalopism, creates certain growths, caused by a parasite, to harden on the top of a rabbit’s head, resembling horns.

Local artisan, Melinda Redd (formerly of Michigan) and husband, Adam Redd (born and raised in Monticello, Utah) have taken the Jackalope, the historical concept of the trading post, and the aura of the Southwest to create a unique shop.  Jackalope Trading Company opened in June 2017 after many months of renovation, persistence and hard work.  Entering inside, you are greeted with warm, welcoming smiles; southwestern/blue grassy music plays in the background.  The wood plank flooring and log beams; antique furniture and goods for sale throw you back to the 1800s when the West was being won. 

Melinda Redd is a renowned photographer, artist and jeweler; her crafts are displayed around the shop and upon the walls.  This was her inspiration, to show and share her craftsmanship with locals and visitors alike.  However, Jackalope is not just all about Melinda; local artisans of San Juan County, or Utah, are seen, “Buy Utah” is the main theme in goods for sale.  Native American jewelry, with certificates of authenticity, are carefully watched over by one of the Warrior Rabbits.  The Free Trade program is exhibited in the beautifully crafted baskets from Africa and Vietnam; a good cause to help these countries develop business and employment.  There are food items also, such as dried sausage and sweetly delicious licorice (my favorite!).

Visiting Monticello and can’t carry all your purchases with you?  Melinda and Adam will gladly ship it to your home, or other location, even if they’re a gift.  Special orders are a pleasure to create!    A small town shop that will certainly succeed with the support of Monticello’s small town community, and visitors, like you!

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Treat Dad Like a King on Father's Day.

Father’s Day, the celebration of a supreme male influence whether by birthright, adoption, remarriage, mentoring; or some other loving relationship in which a male figure is looked upon as a father.  It does NOT have to be by blood alone; sometimes the bond of, what some call “water” can be stronger than blood.  Nowadays the term “baby daddy” has various connotations; a man who proudly helps create a child he cherishes and cares for; or a man who is simply a sperm donor having no concern over the child or even the woman who carried  the baby.  I, however, still say that “anyone can be a father, it takes a special man to step up and be a daddy”.  Personally, I never knew my father; he went off to marry another woman, create three children with her, and never have any interaction with me.  Father’s Day, father/daughter dances, a powerful male influence and protector were for other little girls.  I don’t feel sorry for myself, I feel sorry for him; the loss of me and the wonderful woman I have become. 
A little history on Father’s Day; it was not an official holiday in the United States until 1972 when President Richard Nixon proclaimed it a holiday by law.  From 1908 until 1972, many attempts were made, but “Tricky Dicky” is the one who made it stick.  However, in Middle Ages, primarily Catholic, Europe, it was celebrated each year on March 19th (St. Joseph’s Day).  St. Joseph was viewed as the fatherly Nutritor Domini ("Nourisher of the Lord") or "the putative father of Jesus".  Nowadays, over 40 countries worldwide celebrate a Father’s Day, but its date could well be anytime from January through December.

Luckily, to justify the recipes I’ll be giving you; Greece just happens to celebrate on the same day as the United States does.  So, in honor of Zeus, and all the dads out there; let’s get them to the Greek!

Greek Inspired London Broil


1 tsp crushed dried basil, divided in half
1 tsp crushed dried oregano, divided in half
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 lb. London broil, trimmed of fat
1 cup diced Roma tomatoes
1 large shallot, diced
1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese


In a small bowl, whisk together half each of basil and oregano; the garlic, olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice.  Before placing the meat inside a resealable plastic bag, lightly score both sides with a sharp knife diagonally against the grain.  This will allow the marinade to seep more easily into the meat, and can be used as a guide for slicing later on.  Pour the marinade over the meat, massage it onto the meat, seal the bag and refrigerate for two hours; after one hour, turn bag over.

Also after one hour, prepare the "salsa" by lightly combining the tomatoes, shallot, olives and remaining half teaspoon of the basil and oregano; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.   Add the feta cheese to the mixture just before serving with the meat and potatoes.

The London Broil can be made three ways: under the broiler, in a roasting pan, or on the grill; the temperature should be 350F to 400F for the pan or grill methods; the broiler should be on high.  While the broiler and grill will take 7 to 10 minutes on each side; the roasting pan will require 15 to 20 minutes per side.  I chose the roasting pan method, and set my oven temperature at 375F, since the potatoes would be roasting along with the meat.

Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil, spray the rack with nonstick spray and insert into the pan.  Take the meat out of the bag (discard the bag and excess marinade), place on the rack and place the pan on the center rack inside the oven.  After 20 minutes, turn the roast over; after 15 minutes the meat will be rare, 20 minutes for medium-rare.  Remove to a cutting board and let it rest for 5-7 minutes to allow its juices to settle within itself before slicing; slice against the grain and thinly.  Serve with the Greek "salsa".

Makes 8 servings; or 6 generous servings.

Lemon-Parsley Potatoes with Parmesan Crust


 3 lbs. russet potatoes
 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. melted butter
 1/4 cup olive oil
 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
 4 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
 1/4 tsp salt
 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
 1 cup vegetable broth
 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Peel the potatoes, cut into 2 inch chunks and soak in cold water for 15 minutes; this will help remove excess starch and allow the potatoes to better absorb the cooking liquid.

Preheat oven to 375F; brush the inside of a 2 quart baking dish with one tablespoon of melted butter.  Drain the potatoes and place inside the baking dish.  In a small bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients except the Parmesan cheese.  Pour over the potatoes, making sure to work the liquid between all the chunks.   Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove the foil; mix the potatoes around and spread the Parmesan cheese evenly over them.  Return the dish to the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes; until the potatoes are fork tender.  Allow the potatoes to rest inside the baking dish for 10 minutes to let them absorb any remaining liquid.

Makes 6 servings.

There you have it, my Greek Inspired London Broil and Lemon-Parsley Potatoes with a Parmesan Cheese Crust.  Believe me, leftovers will be slim to none.  Enjoy, Happy Father’s Day to you and yours, and Happy Father’s Day to Bishop Richard Watkins of Blanding who adopted my husband, Roy, and me as his own children.  Love you dad! 

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Essentially Ivy is Essentially Lovely.

Essentially Ivy




Winter Moon, Christmas Orange, Chocolate Mint

The Essentially Ivy brand of handmade, homemade, artisanal soap is the brain child of Green River, Wyoming wife, mother and spectacular woman, Ivy Kropf.  The best way for me to introduce my readers to Ivy is via an interview we did through Facebook messaging; in other words, by her own words.

Who is Ivy Kropf and Why begin her business?

Ivy: "About me. Well, I've been married for almost 20 years to my best friend! We have 5 kids; 4 girls and the lone boy. I could talk about my kids for days, but I won't.  My son has Aspergers and this led me to search out more natural, less chemical ways of life in hopes that it would help.  I started with essential oils, which led me to make my own lip balm and body butter.  I dabbled in homemade shampoo, toothpaste, house cleaners, etc. so it was a fairly easy jump to soap.  I've actually always wanted to make soap, just so when the world comes to an end, I'd at least be clean!  I researched soap making for about a year before I actually made my first batch.  It was as thrilling as the first time my homemade yogurt set up!  It kind of felt like a miracle.  I also like to make desserts involving chocolate, bake bread, and eat good pizza!  In my "spare" time, I teach at a private Christian academy, teach voice lessons, scrapbook, and do custom sewing.  I also belong to the largest charitable women's organization in the world, called the Relief Society.  I'm a councilor in the presidency of our local chapter, which means I help plan and organize a monthly meeting aimed at helping women strengthen their homes, families, and personal lives through provident living and following the Lord Jesus Christ."

Note:  As a pizza lover myself, I appreciate that Ivy likes to eat good pizza!

How and Where does Ivy get her inspiration for soap combinations?

Ivy: "Food, mostly.  I once gave my son a bar of soap for his face, and he took a bite out of it before he realized it wasn't fudge!  I make soap that I like, and hope that other people like it too. Sometimes I'll get a request; sometimes I'll borrow an idea from another soaper and put my spin on it.  I'm always trying new techniques, always pushing myself to learn and improve. Even if a batch of soap doesn't turn out how I imagined, I don't count it as a fail, because I learn from that too. I love soap making because it's part science experiment, part craft. '

A perfect example of of "fail but learn" is the Winter Moon soap Ivy made for me.  

Ivy: "Winter Moon was supposed to be purple mint, but the purple turned grey!  It was so successful that I made a second batch like it on purpose!  Like I said, no real failure; just an education in marketing skills."

I like the color of the greenish-grey personally as it reminds me of the wonderful sage we have growing in the desert areas of Utah.

What makes your soap better than average store bought products?

Ivy: " Most grocery store soaps have the moisturizing agents stripped out to be sold separately; they also use detergents for sudsing.  As a result, they're a lot harsher on your skin.  Homemade soaps are customizable.  I've made soap formulated to help with eczema, acne, dry skin, etc.; adding herbs and essential oils can add many health benefits.  I've never found a lemon yarrow soap in the grocery store! Homemade soaps can have whatever fun colors, scents, swirls, embeds, herbs, you want!

Down to basics, What ingredients do you find work best?

Ivy: "Soapers are a pretty friendly group, and with few exceptions, are eager and willing to share recipes with each other, much like home cooks and bakers.  Basically you need two things to make soap: Fat and Lye.  Types of fats have different saponification values, and provide different benefits; the holy trifecta of oils are: Coconut - bar hardness, Olive - lather and Palm - moisturizing.

However, I avoid palm as it's not super environmentally sustainable, but if I have a vegan customer, I'll use it.  I usually substitute with lard or shortening.  Depending on what I want my soap to do; I'll add oils like jojoba, hemp, grape seed, castor, sweet almond, safflower.  Basically just about any fat or oil you can think of can be turned into soap!  I've also dabbled a bit making my own herbal infused oils. Which makes me feel part hipster part pioneer!"

I tried a homemade soap that used soy in it; it didn't lather up as fast as yours did, and it left a brown stain on my skin.  So, I had to use my regular soap, Dove, to wash it off.  Have you used soy in your soap making, and if yes, what results did you get?

Ivy: "It was probably soy milk. Milk is tricky, because when you mix it with lye, the temperatures get up to 180F, which burns your milk if you don't do it right. You probably had scorched milk in your soap."


Homemade soaps aren't just pretty and pleasantly scented; they're not just for putting inside a dish for decor.  Homemade soaps can be better for your skin; and soothing to your state of mind, well while you're in the shower or bath at least.

For more photos and details of Essentially Ivy soaps, go to her blog (, message at Facebook (, or email Ivy with questions, or to order.

By the way Ivy, consider beginning a homemade chocolate making business, including fudge; I'll expect a gift box for my birthday!

Mary Cokenour

Friday, May 26, 2017

Blue Coffee Pot is for Settlers.

Blue Coffee Pot Restaurant 

US Highways 160 and 163
Kayenta, Arizona, 86033

Phone: (928) 697-3396

When I say this restaurant is for settlers, it's basically because the choices for dining, in Kayenta, are few.  The structure of Blue Coffee Pot resembles the female style Navajo Hogan; the interior is bright with rustic decor upon shelves (love the antique hutch in the entry way with the coffee pots).

Be warned, this restaurant only takes cash.

We went here after having a quick tour through Navajo National Monument, didn't want fast food, and wanted to try someplace different.  After being seated, we noticed other diners, but they were very quiet, looking down at their food and eating.  The atmosphere inside, though bright lighting, seemed a bit depressing.  Our party of three were very talkative about our day out, so we were making the most noise.  Upon leaving, we were laughing, held a door open for a Navajo woman, said a cheerful hello to her, and she seemed shocked at our behavior.
The menu is a combination of American, Mexican and Navajo cuisines; alcohol is not served on tribal land, but the fresh brewed coffee is a good choice with a meal.

After ordering, two of us got a trip to the very small salad bar; lettuce, tomatoes and dressings mostly; however I highly recommend the honey mustard dressing.

Our ordered meals came quickly.  First there was the Country Fried Steak with corn, mashed potatoes and loads of brown gravy.  The bread coating on the steak was overdone and tasted like oil used many, many times; mashed potatoes were instant, corn from a can.  I understand food products are trucked into this area, not much farming in desert, but spruce it up!

The Hot Turkey Sandwich was basically a mess of packaged cold cut turkey slices, bread, mashed potatoes and the same brown gravy served with the Country Fried Steak.

The Steak and Shrimp Kabobs were a little better; the steak was tender and juicy; the shrimp was double coated in breading and fried in the same old oil as the Country Fried Steak.   The baked potato was good, but again the corn was from a can; at least there was none of that brown gravy to ruin the kabobs.

We have eaten in Navajo run restaurants before, and it depends on the attitude of the owners and staff; some have great food, and others are just settling.  We wonder though, if we had ordered Navajo cuisine, would it have been prepared much better than the American platters?

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Love Me Some Country Fried Steak.

My first introduction to Country Fried Steak, also called Chicken Fried Steak, was back in the 1980's. A new restaurant had opened up in Farmingdale, New York which served "Southern" food; after all these years, I don't remember the name of it.  It was a thin piece of steak which had been beaten into tenderized submission; deep fried with bread coating, served with white gravy, mashed potatoes and corn.  Personally, I thought the white gravy was pretty bland, so when I started to experiment with making this dish on my own, you know I was intent on jazzing it up.

Now when I first visited Utah in 2006, that's when I learned about black pepper gravy; still the white gravy, but packed with pieces of cracked, black peppercorns.  This was considered the traditional Southwestern version of Country Fried Steak.  My hubby Roy loved it this way which was understandable, since he grew up in the Southwest, but I wasn't too much of a fan of all those peppercorns.

Then there was another way I learned watching one of Paula Deen's many shows on Food Network; prepare the meat the same way, but finish cooking it off in rich, brown gravy packed with onions.  I love variety in preparing food, so knowing there were different types of Country Fried Steak was a boon for me.  Oh, the term "Chicken Fried Steak" just refers to the method of cooking the thin steak the same way you would a chicken cutlet.
Now what exactly is "cubed" steak?  The term "cubed" refers to the indentations left in the meat after the tenderizing process.  Originally the meat used was top sirloin and served in finer restaurants; however, the need to tenderize cheaper cuts of meat made the term "cubed" more generalized.  Nowadays you'll find cubed steak in the local supermarket and it can be made from chuck, round or flank steaks.  The steaks are cut thin, about a half inch, then pounded out to a quarter of an inch thickness; be prepared to pay for the privilege of having it prepped for you.  Same on cost by buying a roast on sale, place in the freezer for a half hour to firm it up (makes cutting much easier), cut up the roast into 1/2 inch slices.  These slices can be placed in freezer bags for later use, or start on them with the meat mallet for that night's dinner.
There is a variety of ways to prep the cubed steaks for frying: flour, dried bread crumbs, egg wash, milk wash, seasoning the meat, seasoning the flour or bread crumbs.  It is up to the cook how to prepare the dish overall, whether their own methods or following the old family recipe. For me, it depends on my mood; what you see in the one photo is the cubed steaks preseasoned on both sides(one tablespoon each of salt, ground black pepper and garlic powder, plus a half teaspoon of cayenne powder).  I lightly coat with flour, dip in an eggwash and then coat with the flour once again.  If I use dried bread crumbs, I will use preseasoned as it doesn't lose its flavoring during the frying process like seasoned flour typically does. My described flour method ensures that the seasoning stays on the meat rather than be leeched out into the oil during frying.

I love using peanut oil for frying. Yes, it tends to be more expensive than canola, vegetable or corn oils, but whatever is fried in it is extremely less greasy and the taste is clean; you taste the food, not the oil.  I use a deep 12 inch skillet for frying, fill it about 1 and 1/2 inches with oil and use medium-high heat.  You'll know the oil is ready when you drip a couple of drops of cold water into the oil; it will sizzle.  If it's popping and splattering already, you let it heat up too long, so turn down the heat to medium and let it come down to the sizzle stage.  Turn the heat back up to medium-high and put your first two steaks in.  The dredged cube steaks will be large, so only frying two at a time will prevent crowding, and allow even browning. If you let the oil remain at that "too hot" stage, the meat would have browned very quickly, but be still raw inside.  Once browned, remove the steaks to a plate covered with paper towels to let them drain any excess oil.

Lets talk gravy. Now while the typical gravy you might see in restaurants or even make yourself is the white gravy, or the pepper gravy; I jazz it up with some browned, ground sausage.  A mildly seasoned, loose breakfast sausage works great.

Black Pepper Sausage Gravy


1/4 cup mildly seasoned ground sausage
1/2 cup flour
4 cups half n' half
2 Tbsp cracked black peppercorns
pinch of salt


In a large saucepan, brown the sausage making sure to break up the meat into tiny pieces. Stir in the flour thoroughly and cook until golden brown. Gradually stir in the half n' half, whisking constantly until thickened. Stir in cracked peppercorns and pinch of salt. Pour over steaks and serve.

This will make enough to cover six Country Fried Steaks, and with excess to spoon over mashed potatoes if desired.

The next gravy is called  "Onion Red Gravy"; I use regular white or yellow onions, but instead of a brown only gravy, I make it sing with a little tomato sauce.

Onion Red Gravy


3 Tbsp oil (oil from the skillet the steaks were browned in)
1 large onion cut into 1/4 inch slivers
3 Tbsp flour
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can beef broth
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp minced garlic


In a deep, 12 inch skillet, heat the oil on medium-high and saute' the onions until they just begin to soften. Stir in the flour thoroughly before adding the tomato sauce, beef broth, black pepper and garlic. Bring to a boil and immerse the steaks into the liquid. Turn the heat down to low, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes before serving.

This will be enough to simmer 6 Country Fried Steaks in.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Corn Flour as Social Media.

The term “social media” designates sites on the internet (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter to name a few) where people could keep in touch with friends, family, business associates, and even make new found friends.  It is a way to keep up with the latest news on the home front, as well as around this vast world; a way to learn about other cultures and places to explore.  The term “social media” has now become an oxymoron; a rhetorical device that uses a self-contradiction to illustrate a rhetorical point or to reveal a paradox; sometimes used to create some sort of drama.  Don’t understand what I’m referring to?  Think about it, while cooing over the latest baby photos, how many friends and/or family members were horribly bashed, then unfriended and blocked, because they didn’t agree over some political event?   Maybe it was a negative life experience, someone needed to be blamed; easy targets are those people who are nothing more than a name on a computer screen.

Hark, not all is lost on social media; there are havens of sanctuary called “groups”; where folks of like mind can gather, talk, share and not have to put up with the negativity.  One such group I joined is “Navajo and Pueblo Cooking” (, administrated by Pauline Haines who runs her own bakery in New Mexico.  The members of this group are mainly Navajo, but anyone can join, so long as they have a love for cooking, and learning about new recipes and techniques.  This group is a good example of what social media should be, but we humans simply love the drama; sorry, not in this group.  Recently I learned about blue cornbread and a video on YouTube from “Navajo in the City” was featured; many gave their own take on the recipe, but overall it was met favorably.  I haven’t played with any Native American recipes lately, so here was my inspiration.

First the recipe:

Blue Cornbread
From Navajo in the City


1 and ½ cups blue cornmeal (roasted is best)
½ cup white flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
½ cup melted butter


Preheat oven to 400F.  The cook used a 9 x 13 baking dish, but didn’t mention if it was pre-greased.  With cornbread, usually a smear of butter or baking spray is used to keep it from sticking to the pan.

Place all the dry ingredients into a large bowl (I sifted them).  Whisk together the wet ingredients in a small bowl, then pour into the dry ingredients; mix as you pour.  Place batter into baking dish, bake for 25 minutes.

However, and you know I do this from reading my articles, doing something different was in my plans.  After creating the batter, I divided it in half; the first half was spooned into a muffin tin with paper liners.  Into the second half of batter I added 1/2 cup of blueberries carefully folded in, so as to not break them.  Into another muffin tin with paper liners this went into; use an ice cream scoop as it gives the perfect portion for muffin batter.  Again, 400F for 25 minutes for 12 muffins, and a toothpick inserted into the center came out perfectly clean.  By the way, many don’t like baking with blueberries as they have a tendency to be too juicy, and their blue color leaks.  Not with this recipe, it’s already blue!

Pink liners get the batter with blueberries included.

Now for the taste testing (it was just hubby and myself), as is, the muffins weren’t anything to write home about, a bit bland, moist and not too crumbly. The cook on the video said she was primarily making the cornbread to create a “stuffing” later on.  However, she also stated this recipe is similar to making blue corn pancakes, just add vanilla. 

Let’s try out some typical muffin fixings: Cream Cheese – No; Butter – Meh; Honey – Yuck; Cactus Jelly – To Die For!  We both tried the cactus jelly combined with each of the other ingredients; while an improvement, the jelly alone was the huge winner.  Another item we both agreed on was the blueberry addition as a nice touch, but next time add more (2 cups for 12 muffins should do the trick).

There you have it, next time you’re on a social media site, and not feeling very social, learn to bake or cook something.  Challenge yourself, not antagonize others.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Give Mom a Big Quiche for Mothers' Day.

We all start out life as a simple, basic human being.  As we grow and learn, little facets of the world around us, including people, add to our own lives.  We accept or reject what we want to; allow ourselves to be molded into an independent individual, or we just become one of the crowd.  Each day we learn something new; that is, if we have open minds and want to see beyond our own little worlds.  Of the people who influence us the most, it is our parents, soon it will be Mothers’ Day; the woman in our lives who nurtures, cares for, molds, advises and sees us as small children the rest of our adult lives.  Don’t worry dads, your day will come in June.

Personally, I enjoy traveling down the road less taken.  That poem, by Robert Frost, has much meaning, if one cares to really read and understand the concept of being an individual, not just a clone.  This is something that I strove to teach my own son; surprise, I do have a child, well he’s a strong adult now, 27 years in age and living in Moab.  Wonders will never cease when it comes to me, I promise you that!

"The Road Not Taken"
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
 And sorry I could not travel both
 And be one traveler, long I stood
 And looked down one as far as I could
 To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 Then took the other, as just as fair,
 And having perhaps the better claim,
 Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
 Though as for that the passing there
 Had worn them really about the same,

 And both that morning equally lay
 In leaves no step had trodden black.
 Oh, I kept the first for another day!
 Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
 I doubted if I should ever come back.

 I shall be telling this with a sigh
 Somewhere ages and ages hence:
 Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
 I took the one less traveled by,
 And that has made all the difference.

When it comes to independence, cooking was definitely taught to my son who continues to work in restaurants wherever he resides.  A complete, and easy, meal to create is Quiche, and yes, real men do bake and eat quiche.  A quiche is egg custard with savory additions, baked in an open pastry shell; usually served at room temperature or chilled.   It is quite simple to make with a variety of tongue teasing ingredients: cheese (Swiss, Gruyere, Cheddar, goat), meat (bacon, ham, sausage) and vegetables (raw or cooked).  

Asparagus and Cheddar Quich

Basic Quiche


1 ½ cups half n’ half
4 eggs, beaten
1/8 tsp. salt (can be adjusted up or down dependent on ingredients added in)
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 – 9” unbaked deep dish pastry shell


Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine half n’ half, eggs, salt and pepper.  Pour into pastry shell; bake for 45-50 minutes, or until egg mixture is golden brown and set.

Once baked, let the quiche cool for at least two hours before serving; it may look done, but the center is still loose; cutting it would be a complete mess.  Refrigerating the quiche would help; it can then be served cold, or slightly warm it for 10 minutes in a 300F oven.  Eaten cold or warm, quiche is a complete meal in a slice of egg custard goodness.

Mushroom, Bacon and Swiss Cheese Quiche


The above is the simple egg custard; the adventure is what is added.  Add 2 cups shredded cheese (your choice) to the bottom of the pastry shell, before pouring in the egg mixture, for a simple cheese quiche.  Reduce the cheese to 1 cup if adding meat and/or vegetables to not overwhelm the custard.

Spinach, Mushroom, Goat Cheese Quiche
For meats, distribute a ½ cup of cooked meat (crumbled bacon, diced ham, crumbled ground sausage) with the cheese.  Depending on the salt content of the cheese and meat, salt can be adjusted prior to adding to the egg mixture.  Herbs, fresh or dried, can be incorporated into the egg mixture as well. 

For vegetables, ½ cup of sautéed onion, peppers, leeks, zucchini or yellow squash distributed with cheese, or cheese and meat.  If using a root vegetable (potato, sweet potato, Jerusalem artichoke), peel, dice, boil in water till tender and drain thoroughly before adding inside the pastry shell. A raw vegetable, such as spinach (wash leaves and dry thoroughly), should be chopped before adding.

To avoid spillage, a jelly roll pan placed into the oven while it is heating up helps temper it; it should not warp and tilt the quiche(s) during the baking process.  I have found that that doesn't always work out the way I planned it.  Instead take a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, make edges all around and place on the center rack of the oven.  Then carefully place the filled pie crusts inside, close up the oven and bake as usual.  The foil won't warp from the heat, but still grab any spillage.

Now you go ahead and give mom that huge bouquet of flowers and box of her favorite chocolates, but giving her a big quiche will truly make her smile.

Mary Cokenour