Salted Peanut Cookies

002Oatmeal cookies are a favorite in our house.  I don’t make cookies as often as I used to, and not nearly as often as Joe would like for me to, but I have tried a variety of recipes besides the tried and true Oatmeal Raisin.  This batch of cookies disappeared so fast I am glad I took the picture as soon as they were taken from the oven!  They are a smaller, crispier cookie than most Oatmeal cookies, and the addition of salted peanuts is definitely a taste treat. Of course, for those who have members of their family with a peanut sensitivity, the recipe works fine if you omit the peanuts.

Salted Peanut Cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups oatmeal

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup salted peanuts (I used large Virginia peanuts)

Cream butter and sugars, add beaten eggs, and mix well.  Sift flour, soda, and baking powder together and add to creamed mixture.  Add oatmeal, vanilla, and peanuts. Mix well.  Drop by teaspoonful on greased cookie sheets.  Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from baking sheet to wire rack to cool.  Makes at least 7 dozen cookies.

This recipe is found in the cookbook published by the Richardson, Texas Woman’s Club – The Texas Experience, Friendship & food Texas Style given to me in 1984 by my dear friend Sondra Skaggs.


Blueberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam


Red, White, and Blueberry!   Happy Fourth of July!

As promised, the jam I made last week is here for you to see.  The recipe could easily be titled 3B Jam!  Although most of my small batch preserving goes into the refrigerator for safe keeping, I acutally put these jars into a traditional hot water bath for 10 minutes, sealing them nicely for storage on my pantry shelf.  A number of ways to set up water bath canning make it easy for anyone to do.  If you have a stock pot with a circular rack that fits the bottom and a fitted lid, that will work.  There are canning sets available from multiple sources, for prices that range from $ to $$$.  Let me give you the short version!  You can go online and order a large blue granite (enameled) pot with handled rack which handles all sizes of jars) to be picked up onsite at Walmart for $19.99.  Or, if you have a stockpot already, go to Sur le Tables and buy only the rack for $11.99.  I liked this option because 1)I don’t need another big pot to store – 2) this rack has 2 sides:  one holds 7 8 or 16 oz. canning jars, flip it and the other side will hold 4 quart jars.  This is perfect for most of the smaller amounts that I usually have when I make jam or jelly.

Recipe adapted from one found at

Blueberry, Balsamic and Black Pepper Jam

8-10 cups fresh blueberries

4 1/2 cups sugar

1 box Certo liquid pectin, both packets

1 tablespoon black pepper



7-8 8 ounce Mason jars, or other glass canning jars.  Avoid using recycled food jars.

Lids and Rings to fit jar size you are using.  Always buy new lids if you are going to seal them in a water bath for shelf storage.

large stockpot for water bath

separate pot for cooking berries

large bowl for mashing berries

potato masher

long-handled wooden spoon


wide mouth funnel for filling jars

Wide tongs for lifting jars out of water bath. (these can also be bought where other canning supplies are sold)

Pour the berries into a bowl and mash with a potato masher. A blender or food processor will overdo the crushing, so just muster up the elbow grease for this job. It is almost as good therapy as kneading bread!  Measure it out. There should be about 6 cups of mashed berries. Add sugar and blueberries to a large pot.  It is a good idea to have a pot big enough for berries to only fill about 1/3 full, as ingredients will tend to boil over in smaller pot.


If you are using a water bath, fill the large stockpot to a level that would be 1 or 2 inches above jars when placed on rack. Start heating to a boil.  This takes a long time.

Prep jars/lids for canning. I like to put all into the dishwasher and run a sanitize cycle, then place the jars upright while still hot on a towel. Lids should be put into a bowl covered with very hot water.


Stirring occasionally with a long-handled wooden spoon, bring the sugar and blueberries to a boil. Boil for about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the pectin. Continue cooking at a low (rolling) boil for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Fill the jars, wiping off lids and threads. Place lids on top and screw on rings. When stock pot water is boiling, lower the jars to rack and process in the hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars carefully, setting them upright on a towel very gently. Leave overnight, during which time you may hear the popping of lids as they seal.  In the morning, press down on the center of each lid. If the lid pops back up, it did not seal, and that jar should be refrigerated for storage.  Tighten screw rings again, wipe off any sticky on the jars, and label if you wish.

Yield: about 7 8-oz jars


Note: A good source of canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. There is also good information on the information sheets packed inside Certo boxes. 

Pickle, Pickle, Pickle.


Our sons, like their mom, liked to talk and did so early when they were babies.  One of Sean’s favorite early words was “pickle.”  We had a little book called Pickle Juice and when we read “pickle, pickle, pickle”, he would clap his hands and laugh out loud.  I smiled thinking about the pickle book and Sean’s laughter when I made two kinds of pickles last week. The weather had been perfect for a bumper crop of dill heads, so I bought some pickling cukes at the market.   I like to make refrigerator pickles because I don’t need to do a canning bath or soak cucumbers.  I found this recipe on The Old Farmers Almanac blog, and adapted it for my personal preference.

No canning or special equipment required! It’s simple, easy, and surprisingly delicious!

3-1/2 cups water
1-1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon canning salt (NOT table salt)
1 tablespoon sugar
cucumbers, unpeeled, sliced into disks (about 4 cups)
2 cloves garlic (whole)
2 heads fresh dill ( I love dill, so I always use more)

Boil the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Turn off heat and set asidel. Add cucumbers, garlic, and dill to glass jars. Cover with the hot liquid. Put in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. I doubled the recipe when I filled these jars. The pickles should be good for 6 weeks. Enjoy!

Another garden harvest led to these yummy cauliflower pickles.  I cut two heads of cauliflower, one golden yellow (Cheddar is its name) and one white, added carrots, onions, and lots of yummy spices for this delicacy which is typically used as a condiment in Israeli breakfasts!


2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you for reading Kitchen Keepers!  I feel like you are right here in my kitchen with me when you comment or tell me you are want to try one of the recipes.  I promise there will be more Kitchen Keepers in 2013!


Gingerbread House, Now and Then


Gingerbread House Cake, 2012


Gingerbread House, 1973

Almost 40 years ago, in this picture our sons Benjamin, Jeremy, and Sean admire one of the first gingerbread houses I ever made.  They did help!  We didn’t know that many years later, Sean’s 10 year old daughter would be baking and I would be helping her!

Skye and I enjoyed making a wonderful gingerbread house cake this year.  A simple dusting of “snow” was all the decoration needed and this cake is definitely a joy to eat. Nordic Ware has a collection of these pans, which range from this size down so you could make a whole gingerbread village!  We used the gingerbread recipe that came on the Nordic Ware cake pan label, but any 9 cup bundt cake recipe will work.  Next time we will use a recipe that includes dark brown sugar and/or dark molasses so the cake will be a darker color.  This recipe from the February 2000 issue of Gourmet Magazine uses both, as well as dark beer.  I seldom post a recipe I haven’t tried, but maybe this is one we can try out together.  Let me know what you think.  If you don’t have the house cake pan, use a traditional bundt pan.

Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread Cake
by Claudia Fleming
Gramercy Tavern, New York, NY
1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Special equipment:
a 10-inch (10- to 12-cup) bundt pan

unsweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream.

Gingerbread is better if made a day ahead. It will keep 3 days, covered, at room temperature.

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Skye’s Saturday Project

My granddaughter, Skye, spent the day here on Saturday. Among fun things we cook up in the kitchen that are edible, we like projects for other homemade stuff most people buy at the store.  Once we made lavender hand cream.  Recently we put together homemade insect repellent using essential oils.  This time we tackled making laundry detergent.  Skye did most of the work and took all (except the above)  photographs and decided somewhere along the way she would turn this into her next science project.  We researched several recipes online and when we saw that one of them had indeed been used by another student for a science fair, she read the steps, but turned away from the computer and said firmly “Don’t tell me the conclusion – that is for me to discover!”   I don’t think I was this scientific when I was in fourth grade.  How about you?

Since I posted that these next few weeks would focus on art of cooking and beauty in the kitchen, I started to announce  “This program is interrupted by breaking news…”  when I decided to feature Skye’s work.  But immediately following that thought was the realization that there is no more beautiful thing in my kitchen than a child, especially a grandchild!  And when you stop to consider the art of homemaking, crafting and cutting costs is most likely higher art than cooking with flowers!

Skye’s Laundry Detergent

1 bar of soap, any kind

1 cup Borax

1 cup washing soda

2 gallons of water, divided

2  one gallon containers with lids

3 gallon cooking pot

Long handled spoon


 Use food processor or hand grater to grate bar of soap into cooking pot.  Add borax and soda, stir to combine and add one gallon of cold water.

Bring to a boil.  Mixture will begin to coagulate.  Remove from heat and stir as you add the remaining 1 gallon of cold water.

Mix well and pour with funnel into 2 one gallon bottles.  Mixture thickens as it cools and sets.  Use 1/2 cup or less per load.  OK for high-efficiency washers. Ingredients may be halved to make only one gallon.

Roses on the Table

Who doesn’t love roses as a table centerpiece?  Whether it is a bunch of antique roses in a Mason jar or a single perfect bud, this addition to a kitchen table or a fancy dining setting always seems to bring smiles.  But roses are not only for smelling and seeing, there are dozens of ways they bring beauty to the table.  They taste good, too!  Any rose can be used as an edible offering if it is grown organically – without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  So this is definitely a homegrown project unless you know that the roses have been grown safe to eat.

Rose petals are a charming garnish.  Like pansies and violas, they can be sugared and used for decorations on cupcakes.  Like Calendula and nasturtiums, they can top greens for a salad.

Rose lemonade is delicious.  A few petals floating in a clear glass pitcher of ice water can make memories at a little girl’s tea party.

Rose Petal Syrup
4 cups rose petals
6 cups water
2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Simmer the petals until all the color has gone into the liquid, about 30 minutes.  Strain & return liquid to pan. Lower heat and reduce to about 1 ½  cups liquid, about an hour. Add
sugar lemon juice.  Boil just until all dissolved, then remove from heat and pour with funnel into sterilized bottles or jars.  Store in refrigerator.

Rose Sugar
1 cup  rose petals
1 cup sugar
Blend  in a food processor until mixed. Store for at least a week before using. Keeps well in the freezer

My granddaughters and I make rose petal vinegars with red rose petals.  We use clean quart jars that have been put through a sanitize dishwasher cycle.  Pick several cups of petals, rinse them, and pat dry. Place a couple of handfuls of rose petals into a jar and  pour either white or apple cider vinegar to within an inch of the jar top.  Cover, and place in a sunny spot outside for several hours as if you were making sun tea.  Cider vinegar makes a lovely rich red color, while the white vinegar will be a delightful paler pink.   If you wish, you can bring vinegar to a boil to cover the petals instead of putting them in the sun. I then pour the vinegar into pretty bottles and cork.  I prefer to keep the vinegar refrigerated and ready to splash over greens in a salad.

Pomegranate Jelly or ?

Pomegranate Jelly is what I set out to make! This the recipe for pomegranate jelly. My jelly did not set, and I now have 8 jars of pomegranate syrup in my refrigerator which I plan to use for glaze and dessert toppings!  Because I believe our kitchen stories help each other most when we share both successes and “detours” I will post the process here.  Since I have figured out what went wrong, I thought you might benefit from my mistake!

The harvest from our two pomegranate trees was enough this year to create my desire to make jelly from our crop.  With Joe’s help I spent a good part of the day last Monday cutting and collecting seeds from a big mound of pomegranates.  In case you don’t know, there is a trick to this.  Soak the pomegranates in water first to soften the leathery skins, then cut the whole fruit into two or three pieces.  In a large bowl of water, submerge each portion of pomegranate while you work on loosening the arils (seeds) from the white membrane that holds them.  This keeps pomegranate juice from squirting all over you and the kitchen, and actually makes the separation a little easier.  In small batches, pulse a few times in a blender to release juice and strain through a sieve.  Use a wooden spoon to mash the pulp and get as much juice as possible.  Then use the juice obtained to make jelly, molasses, syrup, or freeze it.  I chose jelly.  Because I didn’t have quite enough juice,  I supplemented with purchased pure pomegranate juice.

When I shopped for the packaged fruit pectin, I could not find the powdered pectin I have formerly used (Sure Jell).  Instead, the supermarket canning supplies offered Ball Low Sugar pectin in a bulk jar.  Since it had instructions on the label for how much powder to substitute for one package, I brought it home and proceeded to substitute.  THAT was my mistake!  I now know a sad fact – that not all pectin brands are equal. They have very different processing requirements. You can’t substitute one brand for another and use the same instructions. I found out the hard way. That is in no way an indictment of one brand, just a fact.  Since this recipe calls for “1 package of powdered pectin”, that is what I needed to use, simple!  Another need is to watch carefully when instructions say to add the pectin, and when to add the sugar.  You can’t just plop everything into your pot and proceed.  Now that I have gotten that settled, I will say that this is a good thing to learn now, instead of after you have filled your jars.

Pomegranate Jelly

4 cups pomegranate juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 package powdered pectin

5 cups white sugar

You will need 6 – 7 eight ounce jars and lids

Juice pomegranates as recommended above or use purchased pomegranate juice.  Prepare jars.  I ran mine on the sanitize cycle of my dishwasher.

Measure pomegranate juice and lemon juice into a 6 quart pan.  Add pectin, stir and place over high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  When the juice has reached a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, add sugar.  Boil hard for exactly 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, let stand for a minute and skim off any foam.

Fill jars to 1/2 ” of rim of jar.  Wipe rims clean.  Screw on 2 piece lids

If you are storing in the refrigerator, allow jars to cool before placing in refrigerator.  If you are canning the jelly for unrefrigerated storage, place jelly jars, not touching, on a rack in a tall pot of boiling water which covers the top of the jars by at least an inch.  boil for 5 minutes and remove from water.  This is best done with canning pot and rack and equipment for lifting the jars.  Let the jars cool, then check seals.  The lids should be sucked down.  You will hear a popping noise as this happens while the jelly cools. Once the jars reach room temperature, put them in the refrigerator for a few hours to assist setting.

Figs Any Way You Like Them

This will be remembered as the summer we fell in love with figs!  My post last week illustrates how much we loved making a grilled pizza with them, but it seemed a shame to overlook some of the other ways I used them.  Having them sliced with some Greek  yogurt and honey as a simple back porch breakfast doesn’t need a recipe, but oh my, we certainly considered it a keeper!

I have made two batches of Fig Chutney!  This is wonderful on a grilled burger, or spread on a block of good cream cheese for serving with whole grain crackers or toast as a snack or appetizer.

A week of rain with its resulting drop in temperature has been so very welcome. However, it means that our fig tree has delayed ripening the few remaining figs. I enjoyed picking over a quart twice a day, and am glad I dried some figs at the peak of harvest. This is probably easier if you have a food dehydrator, but it worked pretty well in my convection oven. Aren’t the figs pretty, all lined up? The best part is they retain their moisture and wonderful flavor.

Making Dried Figs

A pound of fresh figs, or more as you like.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Wash figs gently in cool water. Drain, and roll in clean tea towel to blot dry. Trim any stems, and cut each fig in half lengthwise. Using a baking sheet with a rim, place figs cut side down in a single layer, but touching, so there is not space around them. Place pan in oven for one hour.

After one hour, turn the figs over. There will be some juice in the pan which you can rub the cut side in as you turn them, so they are coated in their juice. Put back into the oven and bake another hour. I like to set my oven timer so I don’t forget. Repeat this step as often as needed until the figs are wrinkly and sticky. Usually, one more hour (3 total) is about right. at this point, reduce to heat to 200 and keep checking until the liquid is used up and the figs become more solid. In about 30 minutes the figs will have the texture you expect in dried figs. Turn the oven off, and let them cool with the oven door shut.

Remove the cooled figs and store in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator.

Ways to use them? Stuff with roasted walnuts or almonds and serve with wine and cheese, or use them in any recipe calling for dried figs.

Sugar Scrub with Ginger and Almond

Occasionally I do come up with something inedible from my kitchen.  NOT because I burned it or messed up the recipe, but because I am not making food.  I have melted old crayons into muffin pans to make color muffins, made homemade playdough, baker’s clay, and lavender hand cream!  But last week I adapted a recipe from to try this sugar scrub for the face, and I like it well enough to pass on. 

Sugar Scrub with Ginger and Almond

1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, found with cooking oils at supermarket.

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger. 

1/4 cup almond oil, found in the cooking oils section of supermarket

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup sea salt

6 drops of essential oil of your preference.  (Sweet orange, lemon, lavender, etc.)

Heat coconut oil and ginger in small pan over low heat for at least 5 minutes.  You should be able to smell the ginger as it cooks out into the oil. Strain and return to pan. While the oil is warm, mix in almond oil.  Stir and allow to come to room temperature before adding sugar, salt, and scented oils. Spoon into a jar.

When ready to use, rub a small amount onto wet face, let it rest for 2 minutes (longer if you wish), then cover your face with warm washcloth, steaming and enjoying the fragrance. Wipe excess scrub, rinse and repeat.  Smooth!