1st Things First


You will see my tips on every recipe I post and one thing I repeat is – use good ingredients. Whatever you create can only be as good as the ingredients you use!!

Growing your own food is fun. It  feeds your mind and soul as well as your body. You cannot get any fresher herbs than clipping from a plant in your kitchen window or walking out your door with a pair of scissors to gather what you need for the perfect dinner!!

 Let’s have some peppermint or camomile for tea while we chat!!

One of my favorite sites for cooking is –


They have the best herbs and spices and THE best information on them I have found.

Just a reminder to everyone – no one pays me for my recommendations!!

Here are two examples of things you should have for really good results –

Double Strength Vanilla
35% alcohol. Pure double strength vanilla extract made from the highest quality Madagascar “Bourbon Islands” vanilla beans. Compared to the single strength, twice as many beans are used to make each gallon of extract (about 200 beans). “Two-fold” vanilla extract has been the secret ingredient of professional bakers for years. For the amount of vanilla flavor specified in a recipe, use half as much. When used this way, double strength vanilla makes economic sense, as there is the equivalent of twice as much vanilla per bottle. For unbeatable rich vanilla flavor in baked goods and desserts, use the same amount the recipe calls for.

Not only does Hungary have the abundance of sunshine needed to grow the world’s best paprika, it also has knowledgeable farmers capable of nurturing the crop from planting to harvest. In Hungary more than forty types of paprika are grown. The farmers determine which type will produce the sweetest, most colorful crop based on their weather predictions for the coming year. The quality of the paprika in this year’s crop will depend on how much sunlight Southern and Eastern Hungary receive in the weeks before the harvest. Hungarian Paprika is great for not only adding vibrant color, but rich pleasing flavor to traditional dishes like Hungarian Goulash. Hungarian Sweet Paprika also enhances simple baked chicken.
Californian paprika is deep red, mild and sweet, nice for chicken but browns with long cooking.

These are quoted from the Penzey’s site.

For any baking, or making ice cream – Madagascar vanilla is the best choice.

The paprika you see in the store is probably Spanish – useful for coloring but smells and tastes very different from the Hungarian. If you wish to flavor your stuffing or make chicken paprika – you need  Hungarian paprika.

Now these are just two examples. Think about your other ingredients. Thirty years ago I complained that eating margarine and other manufactured (HYDROGENATED) fat products would be harmful to people. Now we have proof. Many people are watching the type of fats they eat. There is some good evidence butter is better for you!!

I remember when margarine first came out. They were not allowed to color it in case people confused it with butter. One pound margarine slabs came wrapped in waxed paper with a little envelope of coloring if you wished to make it yellow!

After all, the experts now tell us (what I always knew) CHOCOLATE is good for you!!

I try to include variations for vegetarians and vegans, and also dairy allergies. Obviously some recipes will not be suitable for some people.

Anyway – think about what you are eating!! Read labels. Research things. Ask questions.

Make decisions that are right for you!

Let’s have tuna sandwiches with fresh thyme and lime juice with our tea – wonderful!!

here is an apron for you –

and even herb gardens should have roses –


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