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.
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:
(9.3 oz) buttermilk
teaspoons baking powder
teaspoon baking soda
tablespoons of oil or melted butter
cup flour (6 oz all purpose, 1 oz buckwheat...or just 7 oz all purpose flour)
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
Drop batter onto griddle, turn when edges get dry and/or
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
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
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.
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!
Pound sharp cheddar
Cup flour sifted
dry mustard, ginger, cream of tartar (optional)
½ onion, minced
Optional) can of minced or whole plum tomatoes,
chilled, as topping
aside egg whites in mixmaster bowl in fridge to chill (will assist the
egg yolks together and set aside
medium high heat
butter in big saucepan
minced onion, cook until reduced and transparent
flour & milk, cook until it begin to thicken (will happen in a rush)
½ tsp of ginger & mustard, shake salt & pepper
mixture thickens, turn heat down
mixture from heat and let cool…it should still be warm for the last step
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
egg whites until stiff, optionally adding a pinch of cream of tartar
half the egg whites into the still slightly warm (not cold, it will
stiffen) cheese mixture and fold in until it is largely mixed in
- Add in
the remaining egg whites, but only fold in until a somewhat piebald
(yellow and white) mix is achieved
into the soufflé dish, no more than 3/4s full as it will rise.
- Hold a
knife vertically and run in around in a concentric circle in the dish(s)
the oven down to 375 degrees, cook for 40 minutes or until the top is
golden to dark brown on the peaks. Don’t open the oven to look...
make the soufflé fall (it will rise as it cooks and go from below the rim
to flowering over the top).
Serve immediately, alternately top with the tomatoes (an old
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
tsp each salt, basil, majoram & diced
chives , ¼ tsp freshly coarsely ground pepper
, ¼ tsp thyme , 1 tsp dill , 1 tsp
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:
- Use Coconut Oil (it's a white solid below 76ºF, you'll have to
nuke it briefly in the microwave.) for the oil called for in the
receipe on the box. It's available at healthfood stores and the
organic aisle of supermarkets.
- Use buttermilk in place of water or milk
- Use one egg instead of two....one eggs gives you fudge brownies, two eggs, cake brownies. Your choice
- A handful or two of chocolate chips
I also cover the top of the brownies with a sprinkling of roasted dry almonds and pistachoes. Again, your choice.
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