Family Recipes

Ruth Stewart

 Ruth was my mother’s older sister.  Their father died when my mother was in college, their mother was prostrate with grief and Ruth gave up her life (as was often done by daughters in time past) in the wider world to be her mother’s companion...and the high school guidance counselor.  Her mother, a hard-working little cast-iron Irish lady with a heart of marshmallow, outlived them both and died at age 102.

 Aunt Ruthie’s Buttermilk Pancakes

Set griddle to medium high heat.  It should be ready to cook by the time you’ve mixed the ingredients

Prepare and mix separately, then combine:

2 cups (9.3 oz) buttermilk 2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg 1 teaspoon baking soda
2-3 tablespoons of oil or melted butter 1-1/3 cup flour (6 oz all purpose, 1 oz buckwheat...or just 7 oz all purpose flour)

(Optional) blueberries and wheat germ

Pour wet ingredients into dray and mix so that batter is slightly lumpy (do not overmix).  Add the blueberries if you want them after the wet & dry ingredients are mixed, but stir only slightly

Drop batter onto griddle, turn when edges get dry and/or bubbles appear

If the griddle is at the right heat, the pancakes will cook quickly and be golden brown with a soft center.  Serve immediately…they are light and fluffy and will fall if delayed.

 Makes fine waffles too, with a little more oil

Half recipe

4.65 oz buttermilk, 1 egg, 1& ½ tbsp oil

1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp soda, 3 oz flour, ½ oz buckwheat

One time when in college I went to visit my grandmother, then in her 80's.  Ruthie had by then died of cancer' she moked and it killed her, as it later did my mother.  The next morning, Nana asked what I wanted for breakfast.  I said. 'The pancakes Ruthie used to make'.  Nana was a marshmallow.....she began to cry...and make pancakes all the while.  She didn't measure anything.  'Oh golly', I thought to myself, 'these pancakes won't be right...but I'll eat them and smile.'  They were perfection.

William Wynant Dean, Jr

Bill was the handsome one and dressed snappy as our father.  Here he is in 1975 at my daughter’s baptism doing, as he said, “a watch ad”.

He was my older brother, a passionate chef, bon vivant, man of international banking....and gay.  He spent his time in Thailand in the Peace
Corps cooking his way through Julia Childs, then did refugee relocation of Hmong hill people (our proxy warriors in Vietnam), finally lived in Japan. 
He was was deeply engaged by the Orient, where being gay didn't then carry the freight it did in the Western world.
In the 80’s, he lost his job (A RIF closed the NY office of his bank), his lover and learned he was AIDS positive all in the same month...
when such a diagnosis was the the Black Spot of Doom... and so he lived this end to his life:

“My candle burns at both ends;    It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends — It gives a lovely light!”

Brother Bill’s Failproof Cheese Souffle

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, have on hand straight-sided soufflé bowl(s)
Plan evening to serve soufflé immediately after in comes out of the oven!


Serves 8
Serves 4 Ingredient
8 6 Separated eggs
1 ¾ Pound sharp cheddar
¾ ½ Stick butter
½ 1/3 Cup flour sifted
1-3/4 1-1/2 Cup milk
Spices: dry mustard, ginger, cream of tartar (optional)
½ onion, minced
Optional) can of minced or whole plum tomatoes, chilled, as topping


All the above can be done well in advance

Final step and cooking
done just before you’re to put the soufflé in the oven:
Serve immediately, alternately top with the tomatoes (an old family tradition).  If the soufflé is undercooked it will be runny in the middle.

Biddy Homan Dean

Biddy was my widowed father’s second love and a gracious, good, tolerant, loving and talented woman. 
My mother was a hard act to follow, but Biddy was shone with her own light.

Biddy’s Boursin (Cream Cheese with herbs)
Makes a pound

3 cloves garlic – chopped  ,    16 oz cream cheese   ,  3 oz unsalted whipped butter

½ tsp each salt, basil, majoram & diced chives  ,  ¼ tsp freshly coarsely ground pepper   ,  ¼ tsp thyme ,   1 tsp dill   ,  1 tsp parsley

Mix together in a Kitchen Aid or maybe a Cuisinart...takes a mixer with guts.  Note: if you’re using fresh herbs, triple their amounts (so the wisdom goes, according to some).

My Own Recipes

Killer Brownies Cheat

The simple way to jazz up a brownie mix

Make these substitutions: 
I also cover the top of the brownies with a sprinkling of roasted dry almonds and pistachoes.  Again, your choice.

Spelt Bread

Spelt is a primitive fore-runner of wheat that is easier to digest and has less gluten.  The plasticity of gluten is what makes wheat so workable and versatile, so a grain with less gluten takes special care to make a good loaf.  After a lot of help from the Fresh Loaf website, I came up with this recipe.  It's delicious bread that needs no excuses.

Barley Wheat Bread (with maybe a little bit of buckwheat)

My basic everyday bread. Recipe here.