Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 7, 2009

Grandma's Kitchen: Over-the-sink sandwich


It's mid-August as I write this and I'm still waiting for my big juicy homegrown tomato.

I want to make my over-the-sink sandwich. That's just what it sounds like -- two slices of fresh whole wheat bread, a swipe of Hellmann's and a sliced tomato so ripe and full of juice the bread can't soak it up. With the first bite it runs down and drips off your elbows. That's summertime eating at its best.


Today was a fun day. Before I finished my morning coffee my friend Mary called and was on her way over. She arrived carrying some beautiful big blackberries so I could make my favorite pie. She knew some of my girls would be home this week; she's like an auntie to them and likes to spoil them.

I tried to talk her into lunch at The Gathering Place here in Honor, but she had another commitment. It was probably with the flower beds at our church in Lake Ann. Any unsuspecting weed that dares show his little head there has just signed its death warrant, no mercy granted.

I went alone for lunch because they were serving roast pork, which was very good.

On my way home, for reasons unknown to me, I was compelled to take a little side trip up Deadstream Road. The reason soon became apparent. On my right was a fruit stand with freshly picked peaches and apples, and farther down on my left was a vegetable stand. So I bought some peaches and corn, which was a wonderful surprise.

I'm learning not to argue with these urges and hunches that just appear out of nowhere; it's fun to see where they lead. I came home thinking about what a wonderful place to live with all this bounty at our doorstep.

I'm glad this area celebrates our food and appreciates our hard-working farmers.

So today was special -- maybe a bore for some folks, but just my speed.


I've talked to some of you who are making gardens for the first time in years, and some for the first time ever. You love the excitement of walking out early in the morning while the dew is still shimmering on the plants and checking the baby cucumbers to see how much they grew during the night. The zucchini is like manna -- new every morning. I'm not sure that's not what the Israelites ate on their journey; no wonder they grumbled!

My neighbor Greg brought me some of his shiny green "first fruits" yesterday. It's his first garden in years and he is loving it and already hoping to enlarge next year ... way to go!

So for all you budding farmers I found a simple but important tip. Since you don't want to put chemicals on your food supply, try this organic insecticide to outsmart your bugs. Peel one whole head of garlic, combine with two cups of water in the blender and blend on high until the garlic is finely pureed. Store mixture in a covered container for one whole day, strain out the pulp and add one gallon of water. Put in a sprayer (mister) and spray the bottoms and tops of your plant leaves. Use weekly. The insects don't like the smell and will keep off. Good luck!


We had a visiting granddaughter and family this week who are all vegetarians. I hate to prepare the same dishes every time they come, and really work at giving them ample protein. This is an old reliable dish for a lot of folks, but the first time I'd tried it they said it was good. What else could they say? It's a complete protein.

Quinoa is the only whole grain that supplies a complete protein from a single plant source. It's available at Oryana if you'd like to try some.

Spanish Rice and Pinto Beans

1 (10 oz.) pkg. Ortega Spanish Rice Mix

1 (16 oz.) pkg. dry pinto or black beans

1/4 t. garlic salt

1/2 t. salt

Dash of pepper

The seasoning for the rice is in the packet.

Wash dry beans, cook according to package directions, using salt, pepper and garlic salt. Keep the water level up so there is a little water over the beans when they are tender.

Cook rice in a large pan according to package directions.

The spices are included but you add the ketchup (it's in the directions). The water should be about cooked out when the rice is finished.

Drain broth from beans and reserve. Stir 2/3 of the beans into the rice. If it looks dry add some of the bean broth, and you may like to add more beans. Mix well. If you are in a rush you can just used canned beans, but they aren't quite as good.

Serve hot. Makes 10-12 servings.


When I was looking for the blackberry pie recipe I ran across this which is great for all berries and peaches, and they are plentiful now. Rich sweet cream over fresh ripe berries, baked to golden perfection, perfectly delicious (and so quick and easy).

Blackberries and Cream Pie

4 c. drained blackberries, raspberries or blueberries

2/3 c. sugar

1 T. flour

1 c. cream (30 percent)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a 9-inch pie plate with homemade or purchased pie crust.

Place berries in pie crust. Mix flour, sugar and cream together and pour evenly over berries.

Bake until crust is brown and filling is set, 35-45 minutes. Serve slightly warm.

Peaches and Cream Pie

Using above recipe, place seven or eight peach halves, cut side down in pie shell, cover with cream mixture, and sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Bake 35-45 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 6 servings.


Parting Shot:

"Food ... is God's love made edible.

By this love may we be swept into His presence."

-- Brother Thomas, Nada Hermitage

Edna Shaffer is a local mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who writes about cooking from the perspective of an older adult. She can be reached at For more Grandma's Kitchen columns by Edna Shaffer, log on to