Category Archives: family

Confined Confection

For the past few weeks, it feels as if I’ve been camping out in my own kitchen. To acclimate a four-legged family member to our home, we gated off and puppy-proofed that room. We may come to regret the kitchen location, but it seems to make sense for the baby who needs easy access when heading outdoors on quick notice.

Already named “Denver” before he joined us, this puppy’s routine around the kitchen finds at least one of us playing with him, brushing his chocolate-brown coat, teaching him to sit with miniature milk bones, or bumping into each other while opening the refrigerator to search for treats for the trainers.

Now that Denver’s entertaining himself for longer stretches of time, he runs loose around the corner into the butler’s pantry—a safe puppy play environment with no carpets or butler to be found.

Denver, like our older dog Cammie, loves tiny pieces of raw carrot, which make great little training rewards for warm, furry creatures. A more mature pet now, Cammie trained with carrots starting at 8 weeks old and they remain her favorite puppy perk. It’s impossible to bring an orange bunch into the house without her waiting patiently in hopes that one will fall to the floor.

Though the carrots serve as rewards, tiny dabs of butter work well as diversions. When we were training Cammie, she wanted to nip at everyone, and we learned from a devoted dog lover to curb her mouthing and nipping habit with a slather of chilled butter. Within 48 hours, she received countless praises and stopped the nipping. We’re keeping the butter to a minimum with Denver, and he nips when seeking attention or alerting us to his needs. A little sweet creamy butter even helps prevent the rest of the household from nipping at each other, too.

Minimized gooey butter cake tasteWhen a cake appears around our place, we’re suddenly all on our best behavior. Just as with puppies, where behavioral experts advise to have a toy ready at all times, it could prove beneficial to have a slice of cake ready at all times for people. If there’s a stick or two of quality butter on hand, use them to make this dense cake-based crust that holds a gooey layer of cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar.

If you can call it traditional, original gooey butter cake may be made with basic staples stocked in home kitchens. Quality butter and cake flour are worth the extra effort of rounding up, though any will do to turn out a rich gooey butter cake. In St. Louis, where locals claim to have created the confection, commercial bakeries offer the cake laced with everything from chocolate chips to key lime. The recipe shared here resembles the original.

Gooey Butter Cake


1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 eggs, beaten


8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar


¼ cup powdered sugar

  1. Sift dry crust ingredients together. Add beaten eggs and melted butter and stir until thoroughly mixed. Press thick, sticky dough into greased 9 x 12 baking pan.
  2. Mix cream cheese with eggs, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Pour over unbaked dough.
  3. Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees until puffy and golden. Cool completely and dust with remaining powdered sugar.


Text and photos by Mary Ann Ebner, Cook On: 1 part chaos, 2 parts calm

First published by The Highlands Current


Invade your own kitchen and make these dumplings

The dumplings

The dumplings

Warm up at home with a comfort meal. You’ll master a no-fail dish and find yourself with plenty of cash left in the food budget to splurge dining out. Try this variation on chicken and dumplings, an old family favorite that I love to prepare with my mom’s beat up old roaster pan.

She likes bread but it doesn’t like her — GF for Sadie

By Jane Manaster

I always thought gluten free was a fad or a demand for attention. Now that we find our 6 ½ -year-old granddaughter is a celiac, the issue takes on a personal and more serious relevance.

We know wheat, rye, and barley are to be avoided, rice and corn are OK so it’s not difficult to work things out, especially as Sadie is a trooper and taking it all calmly, without expecting (or getting!) special treatment.

sweet bread

She likes bread …

We must avoid the bulk food bins in natural food stores as gluten can drift mysteriously from one bin of flour (whole wheat, stone ground, spelt, rye, etc.) and cause bad bouts of tummy trouble.

Even a year ago, searching the grocery shelves for gluten-free products was tiresome. Today the problem has evaporated. It is no longer a problem to find clearly labeled items from cake mixes to pasta to frozen or home-delivered pizza and, of course, gluten-free flour that tastes just fine.

Prices are still higher, as they are for kosher foods and other special dietary items but “seek and ye shall find.”

My Mom’s best friend was a celiac and lived to the age of 95, probably just by saying with English spirit, “I like bread but it doesn’t like me.”

I’ve baked banana bread and chocolate chip cookies, following the more practical online recipes, not the ones with ten or more ingredients. I pack a slice of the bread or a pair of cookies in snack-bags then a larger freezer bag ready for school lunch or camp. Appreciative comments have been gratefully and gracefully accepted!

© 2014 Jane Manaster. All Rights Reserved.



Watching your back with a look at 2012

How did life present itself to you in 2012? Watch your back . . . and recount memorable meals shared with friends and family. The Cookery marks five years at WordPress this weekend, and though I found myself limited in posting time (graduate studies finally completed), I was lucky to read favorites around the Web that provided the inspiration to keep the mix going by learning from the big-knowns and little-known creators at the kitchen counter.  It’s been a year of tasting, testing, and sharing. Nothing topped maple sugaring with my kids in Montreal and Vermont (put this on your try-it list in 2013), but taking time out to savor Texas brisket in Austin was a close second. Lovingly shared food and beverage at nuptials in Colorado and New York’s Rockland County made the list, as well as Middle Eastern brunch in Brooklyn, a fabulous dinner for four in Tribeca, a rich cup of coffee on a friend’s patio, and the modest results of backyard vegetable gardening. Here’s to looking back and moving forward for all in this new year.

Living and giving with the gift of soup

If I haven’t said enough good things about our frequent guest, Jane Manaster, let me sing praises here. Thank you, Jane, for all the good you share with The Cookery. Here’s another guest post about living and giving from Jane that places the focus on others less fortunate.

Soup Preparation

At a Sukkah party at our Temple, the children assembled soup preparations for the ‘needy.’  Five types of beans and pulse were set out in separate aluminum-foil baking pans. Children took a jar and went along the row making stripes with each ingredient. At the end they picked up the recipe, spooned the seasoning into a snack-size Baggie, which went into the jar; they then closed the jar and tied on the recipe. It’s a great family activity.

Gift of soup

Another year of keepin’ it alive and real

It seems as if there’s a constant parade through The Cookery, which keeps the place lively, but the parade to top all was the march of these little penguins.

Marching Through The Cookery

Under the direction of our sweet cousin, Kathie, the kids made these edible marchers (with inspiration from out of olives, cream cheese, carrots, and peppers. With festive fun, we’re marking another year of keepin’ it alive and real around the table. Today mark’s The Cookery’s fourth anniversary, and it’s been a great year to share. Hitting the road proved challenging at times, but throughout the course of our travels and cooking out of the chuck box for several months, we’ve enjoyed the opportunity to break bread with many friends and family members over the last year. Our kids even had a chance to mind their table manners with two grandmas and grandpas and two great-grandmas. Not always easy when we live so far apart. Cheers to life and peace and keeping it real.

New Year Gumbo from My New Orleans

New Year Gumbo

If you’re looking for real cooking from a solid chef, you’ll appreciate the recipes in My New Orleans from Chef John Besh. The colossal cook book landed on our new doorstep in October and flashed a familiar return address – our former residence in Austin that we left behind in 2011. The new owners hail from Louisiana and made the move from New Orleans. We enjoyed our convenient kitchen in Austin, and a comfortable backyard setting for grilling and dining, and wondered if the place would serve the new family as well as it served us. From the looks of their taste in cook books, we’re certain that they’re enjoying dining in as much as dining out in the ever-palatable Austin.

I have no idea when gumbo season begins or ends, if it has a cycle, but we served it up in The Cookery to welcome this new year despite our unseasonable warm temperatures. I’m grateful for the inspiration to prepare gumbo here in New York. With the help of my cousin who knows her way around a roux, we prepared Besh’s seafood gumbo and served it over rice. Beautiful meal from a choice cook book. We’re extending praises all around for the easy to follow recipes in My New Orleans, stellar photography, and engaging storytelling that John Besh weaves throughout.

Mr. and Mrs. Louisiana . . . we appreciate your gift of cook book cuisine, and look forward to experimenting with the traditions of your cooking. Enjoy Austin and know that we’ll be enjoying a little taste of your New Orleans.