Anne Burrell has a way to get me into the kitchen and make her recipes shortly after watching her show.  Last week she made kale chips, and I was mesmerized. They were very simple to prepare and she munched on them with so much gusto, I could not wait to try some.  Serendipity happened: I arrived at the grocery store for my weekly shopping, and found bunches of organic kale that looked absolutely perfect.   I left the store with a huge smile on my face, hoping that Phil would get as excited about kale as I was (yeah, right ;-)).

(from Anne Burrell)

1 bunch of kale leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper

Wash the kale leaves, dry them well, cut them in half lengthwise, removing the central, thick stem.

Place them in a single layer over a rimmed baking dish, spray olive oil lightly over the leaves, season with salt and pepper.  Repeat the misting with olive oil on the other side of the leaves.  Gently toss them around, trying to distribute the oil throughout the leaves.

Place them back on the baking dish in a single layer, trying not to overlap them too much.  Bake on a 250 F oven for  30 to 35 minutes.   Keep an eye on them, remove leaves that start to crisp up too much.


to print the recipe, click here


and after….

These chips are addictive! I hope you’ll give them a try, even if kale is not your favorite veggie. I kept the small amount that was left inside a bowl covered with plastic wrap, and two days later enjoyed the last pieces, still crispy and delicious.   Add less salt than you think they need (sorry, Anne Burrell): the leaves shrink a lot during baking, and the salt tends to get concentrated on spots.

Husband’s verdict:  Two thumbs up! 

ONE YEAR AGO: Weekend Pita Project

TWO YEARS AGO: Tried and Tasted Roundup

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As I told you before,  I  keep my annual records of exercise, with the goal of each month exercising more than 50% of the days.   Until now, my records had a boring look…

But, 2012 arrived with new ideas! My stepson Casey developed a cool halftone calendar that comes with empty circles, and each day you fill a circle with a black pen (a Sharpie marker works fine).  On his site he offers quite a few options of images, for instance this Mona Lisa version, shown in the photo of his partner, actress extraordinaire Carly.

It took me only a few seconds to choose my image: Audrey Hepburn, with her unique aura of charm and beauty.  You can see all available images for a calendar or poster here.   Audrey’s image is in the bottom row, “Icons”.

Casey also made it possible to design your own calendar, from a photo stored on your computer. Just follow the instructions on his site, and you can get a unique product for you or a special friend.

So, where does the fitness fit in?

I will use my halftone calendar marking the days I exercise with a dark black dot, and leaving the other days blank.   At the end of the year, I’ll take a photo of it. Hopefully I’ll have exercised often enough to see a distinct image.   But, one could use it for all sorts of activities:  do you want to skip drinking a few nights of the week?  Mark the alcohol-free evenings!  Study that foreign language you love so much?   Meditate?  Or, forget about keeping score, just pick an image you love, and have fun watching it form, one day, one dot at a time!

ONE YEAR AGO: A soup for what ails you

TWO YEARS AGO: Let it snow, let it snow, eggs in snow (a favorite dessert of ours!)

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It’s been a while, but it’s my pleasure to re-introduce my favorite guest blogger, who made a few past appearances in the Bewitching (remember guacamole?).  My beloved husband, who at age 21 was almost as handsome as he is today, shares with you his recipe for the best granola ever!   It pains me to admit it comes from a former girlfriend, but chances are I bake a better bread, and play a much meaner  round of golf. So, there!  😉

We spent part of our winter holiday in Sedona, AZ, where we enjoyed one of the local stores, the New Frontiers Natural Marketplace.  Still, I nearly choked on the price of some of their whole grain cereals: $13 or more for a pound of granola. It convinced me to get off my ass and make my own granola, so here’s my recipe from the golden age of peace and love: 1973.

We lived in a big Green House on Capitol Avenue in Lansing, MI, and this recipe became a staple of our diet.  It’s where me and Dave (together in the picture), Jimmy, Al and Joey spent a few years, chasing girls, cooking for each other, and listening to great music on Dave’s JBL speakers. I was 21 and dating Susie, who made the best granola anywhere, from Ann Arbor to Bloomington to Madison.

For us it was a golden age, of optimism, exploration, righteousness, liberation and natural foods.  When  you put together the ingredients for this recipe you’ll understand (and embrace) the meaning of  “grain brain.” Nothing’s better than this kind of natural food.   Once you make it and have a morning bowlful, you may never return to the preposterous prices of commercial granola.  The cost of this recipe has at least tripled in the nearly 4 decades I’ve made it, from about $10-12 to near $40 per batch, but it makes about 15 pounds, bringing the cost to a more realistic $2.50 per pound.   Cost aside, the granola’s flavor is unforgettably nutty and hearty, and the beauty of the recipe is its flexibility: you can change it in whatever way you want to customize the cereal.  Want a gluten-free version?  Then skip the wheat germ and use oat bran instead.  Don’t care for walnuts?  Use pecans instead.  Allergic to peanuts?  Substitute sunflower oil for the peanut oil.  I usually add raisins and chopped dates, which are excellent, to the baked granola, but in this batch I added dried cranberries and banana chips for a change of pace. Or leave out the banana chips and eat a bowl with fresh banana slices.  Mmmmm, that’s good!

Now, this is not a low-fat granola.  It’s a natural, whole-grain mix that gives you a mouthful of rich flavors in every bite.  To control the calories, just eat less (which you may find difficult!).

(from PEK)


1.  Mix the dry ingredients in a large (huge) pan or bowl:
3 pounds rolled oats
1 pound raw wheat germ
1 pound chopped walnuts
1 pound other chopped nuts (hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds or a mixture)
1 raw, chopped coconut (water drained and reserved)
1 pound sunflower seeds
1 pound pepitas
1 pound brown sugar

2.  Mix the wet ingredients in a large (½ gallon) container:

water from the coconut
2 cups hot water
1 cup peanut oil
1 cup sesame oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup maple syrup (or, use whichever of these sugars you prefer in the proportion you desire)
2 T vanilla

Heat the oven to 325 F.  Mix the dry ingredients very well in a large roasting pan or a huge bowl.  Whip the wet ingredients with a whisk or fork and pour half of it over the dry ingredients.  Mix well and then pour the remainder of the wet ingredients over the batch.  Mix very well with a large spoon, making certain that all the materials become uniformly moistened.  Spread the cereal on cookie sheets, about 3/4 in thick, and bake for 45 – 60 min, turning with a spatula every 15 min.  Let the granola cool, combine the baked batches and add some dried fruits: raisins, dates, apricots, cranberries, blueberries or banana chips … your choice, about 1.5 pounds.  Store the cereal in a large, airtight tin or vac-pack it in 1-2# pound portions.


to print the recipe, click here

Some photos of the process (click on the pictures to enlarge)…

The ingredients…

Mixing the dry ingredients…

Draining and chopping the coconut…

Chopping the nuts…

Mixing dry and wet ingredients…

Baking, turning, and cooling…  the final stretch!

ONE YEAR AGO: Mushroom Souffle for Two


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I am thrilled to invite you to read my first post as a guest blogger over at!

Jessica contacted me and told me I could write a blog on any type of recipe, which immediately launched me into a hyperventilation fit.  Since one of the things that calms me down is bread baking, I opted for a sourdough.  Easy decision. Which bread to make was a lot more complicated, as at any given time I might have 20 breads on my  “to bake soon” list.   😉

I chose a sourdough boule that would be appropriate for a feast!   Curious?  Click here for the article and the recipe…

This bread will be submitted to Susan’s Yeastspotting event, my first submission of 2012!

Jessica (and Valerie), thanks so much for the opportunity to contribute to your site!

Just a sunset…. a Maui sunset… 



After a flight of less than 5 hours from San Diego, we took our first peek at  Maui,  an island that’s much less developed than Oahu, …which is a good thing for a tropical paradise…  The pilot made some sadistic turns banking sharply left and right, but the views were spectacular.

We drove straight to Kapalua at the northwestern part of the island,  and installed ourselves in a little cottage on the Kapalua Bay Golf Course, with a great view from our balcony and a pretty cozy and functional kitchen (to make any food blogger happy!).

Speaking of food, we ate exclusively fish and seafood during our stay, mostly sushi and sashimi, which were spectacular, as expected…

We took hikes together, enjoying magnificent views…
…and saw  a woman doing yoga poses facing the ocean, in almost complete solitude at this magical place called Dragon’s Teeth.

We laid down by these palm trees sunbathing for a long time (don’t tell our dermatologist!), letting our thoughts go wherever they chose to go…

We played a lot of golf on the Kapalua Plantation course, where the PGA is currently playing the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.  It was so tough that that it brought the best in Phil and the worst in me… but that is another story, that shall be told another time… 😉

Notice his golf ball zipping through…. pretty cool!

We’ve traveled together to many places, but more often than not, our travels are linked to work.  This was a strictly fun trip to celebrate Phil’s birthday,and the beginning of 2012.   The year could not have started on a better note!


ONE YEAR AGO:  The Getty Museum

TWO YEARS AGO: Crowd Pleasing Pulled Pork

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