A beautiful racket

This year’s chocolate train was made with black cocoa (yes, that’s a thing) …

Which, it turns out, doesn’t photograph well as last year’s train, but boy does it taste good!

The icing recipe has been modified, too. Coconut oil and half-and-half mixed with confectioners sugar. The one constant is lots and lots of candies …

The wonderful cacophony that comes of having six grandchildren and assorted parental units all gathered together …

A beautiful racket for sure …

but it all goes too fast.

Granola again …

This recipe has undergone more revisions than I can count. If you’re curious, you can click this Granola link to see some of them. But for now, here’s the current version:


700 Cascade Trail Granola
16 oz. bag Bob’s Red Mill 5 Grain Rolled Hot Cereal
18 oz. container Old Fashioned Oats
3.5 oz. (1/2 bag) Let’s Do Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil
1 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup light brown sugar

Optional: raw nuts and/or seeds (pumpkin seeds plus coarsely chopped almonds, cashews, and pistachios are particularly good together)

  • Combine cereal, oats, and coconut flakes in a large mixing bowl.
  • Combine coconut oil and maple syrup in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 1/2 minutes (90 seconds) on high or heat on stovetop until coconut oil is melted.
  • Whisk salt, vanilla, and light brown sugar into warm oil/syrup.
  • Pour oil/syrup mixture over cereal/coconut mixture (with optional nuts and/or seeds) and stir until evenly coated.
  • Divide mixture between two cookie sheets (optional: use baking spray with flour to facilitate clean up) and place in a 225 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours.
  • Every 30 minutes, remove the pans from the oven, turn the granola with a metal spatula, then return the pans to the oven on opposite shelves to ensure even browning.
  • Cool completely after baking and store in a sealed container


Texas Rundown

There’s a place at Milepost 1 on the Outer Banks called the Rundown Cafe.


where the specialty of the house is (wait for it) … Rundown Soup.

Now I don’t know if this stuff is the real deal vis-a-vis authentic Jamaican seafood stew, aka rondon, but I don’t care. I love this stuff. And every year as I anticipate our trip to the beach, I ponder how I might convince the rest of the fam to forego trips to Tortuga’s Lie or the Saltbox in Collington (both worthy meal stops).

So tonight, I made my own rundown soup, Texas style. And when I couldn’t find my phone to take a picture, I used an old phone, which now refuses to send the picture to the new phone.

Fine. I can deal. Here it is …

And here’s the recipe … because I am totally making this again.

Texas Rundown (serves 2 … with biscuits and honey and an IPA, if we actually had one in the house, which sadly we don’t)

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 or 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2-3 Tbs poblano or jalapeño pepper, diced

Sauté in a bit of olive oil with a bit of salt. While the aromatics gently soften, prep these additions

  • 4 small or 2 medium sweet potatoes, nuked, peeled and diced
  • A handful of grape tomatoes, diced
  • 8 ounces of white fish (I used frozen talapia, defrosted), cut into bite-size chunks


And here’s the secret ingredient (note: no sweeteners or flavorings) …


  • 2 cups worth … 1/2 the container.

Which is, according to this, about 30 servings …


not great, but waaay better than canned coconut milk calorie-wise. And instead of a can, it’s dairy case fresh. Trust me, it’s worth it … you’re worth it.

Okay, so glug those two cups of coconut creamer into the aromatics and bring it up to a simmer.

Sprinkle in some herbs to taste

Slide in the diced sweet potatoes, fish and tomatoes.

Heat gently until the fish is cooked through (don’t boil or the coconut creamer will curdle … as mine did). Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve immediately … do not waste time looking for the iPhone camera.

Then imagine yourself at the Outer Banks as you tuck into each blissful bite … you won’t even miss the IPA (well, maybe a little).