Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society: Read this with my version of Potato Pie

My version of Potato Pie

Another Costco Find

I was looking through the books at Costco again last weekend, and saw this book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  The funny title is what caught my attention, and I wanted to find out more.  The book is a series of letters from the narrator, Juliet, to her friends in England, and members of a random book club in Guernsey, Channel Islands, after World War II.  I loved this book - the narrator, Juliet, is witty, silly and charming.  I learned a lot about the small island of Guernsey, which I had never heard of before reading this book.  The book is light hearted and easy to read, however, there are some very sad parts about the war as well. I highly recommend it - you could easily finish on a round trip plane ride (for the travelers out there). It's a little confusing for the first few pages, but then the letters continue to build on each other and after a few pages, you won't want to put it down.  For the cooks out there, Juliet references in the book that she used The Beginner's Cook-Book for Girl Guides

She writes:
It was just the thing: the writer assumes you know nothing about cookery and writes useful hints - "when adding eggs, break the shells first." 
I googled this cookbook, but nothing came up, so I assume it is fictional. However, it made me laugh because I have some friends who could use a book like this.

You can learn more about this book at:

In the book, the setting is post WWII, so rations were still a part of everyday living. The book club in Guernsey bakes a Potato Peel Pie for their book club, because they only had a few ingredients.  The book doesn't go into tremendous detail on what this is, and I'm fairly certain this pie is also fictional, so I decided to make my version of "Potato Peel Pie" from a family recipe -- a dish called Potato Kugel,  which is an Eastern European dish,- it is delicious!


6 medium baking potatoes
2 medium onions
3 large eggs
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoons white pepper (I used black pepper since I didn't have white)
4 Tablespoons of vegetable oil

  1. Peel the potatoes and then grate them (I use the shredder on the food processor) (note: you do not need the peel - throw those away - in the book, they use the peels for a topping, but you don't need those here!)
  2. Peel and then grate the 2 onions and add to the potato mixture
  3. Drain/push some of the excess water out of the mixture
  4. Beat the eggs until thick and then add to the potato/onion mixture
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients including: flour, salt, pepper, oil and blend with a fork
  6. Pour the mixture into a large pan (about 11x15 or something close)
  7. Bake on 350 degrees for an hour or until golden brown. You may need to add 15 minutes to that.
  8. Cool a little and cut into squares

Before I cut it.  Note: The brown burned looking edges are the best part. I'll eat all the end pieces!
These looked so good I was tempted to cut them a little too early. Wait til it cools closer to room temperature before cutting, and you will get nice even squares.  Cut too early, and you'll get the above!

I hope you enjoy! This is extremely easy to make, and would go with any dish that you would serve potatoes with!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Life's Little Instruction Book: Life's short. Eat more cheesecake and fewer rice cakes.

A slice of my Raspberry Cheesecake

A few years ago I picked up a book on the bargain shelf at Border's called The Complete Life's Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown Jr.  It is a really good book for your coffee table, bathroom, office etc. with some great nuggets of wisdom.  I typed up my favorites and hung up the list in my office for those days I need some inspiration.

You can learn more about the book at:

I was flipping through this book again this week, and came across one of my favorite life lessons: eat more pancakes and fewer rice cakes.  I also saw an Ina Garten recipe for a Raspberry Cheesecake I've been wanting to make, so the moon and stars all aligned. So, let's eat more Cheesecake and fewer rice cakes!!!

I used one of my favorite Ina Garten cookbooks, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, for the recipe.

Ina's recipe for her Raspberry Cheesecake, can be found at:

I followed the recipe, and it came out great.  It is pretty easy, but there are a lot of steps with the oven.  You change the temperature several times (first 450 for 15 minutes, then 225 for 1 hour and 15 mins, then turn off the oven, but leave it in for 30 minutes with the door open, then cool for 2 hours, then put in fridge)....quite a process. I also bought and used by first spring form pan, which was fun!

I made this cake for my family and family friends tonight. They LOVED it.  They said it was light, fluffy and delicious. I would definitely make this again.

Some of my favorite lesson from The Complete Life's Little Instruction Book (There are 1500+ lessons):

68 - Be brave. Even if you're not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
127 - Wear audacious underwear under the most solemn business attire
171 - Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts
186 - Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
205 - Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life-and-death matters, nothing is important as it first seems
220- Don't major in minor things
271 - When facing a difficult task, act as though it is impossible to fail.  If you're going after Moby Dick, take along the tarter sauce.
346 - Be bold and courageous.  When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did.
358 - Be decisive even if it means you'll sometimes be wrong
401 - Don't ever watch hot dogs or sausage being made
460 - Look for opportunities to make people feel important
505- Be a leader: Remember the lead sled dog is the only one with a decent view
525 - When you feel terrific, notify your face.
553-Talk slow but think quick
593 -When you have the choice of two exciting things, choose the one you haven't tried
707- Don't be a person who says, "Ready, fire, aim."
708 - Don't be a person who says, Ready, aim, aim."
711 - Read more books
969 - Travel. See new places, but remember to take along an open mind.
1005 - Life is short. Eat more pancakes and fewer rice cakes.
1427 - Never make fun of people who speak broken English.  It means they know another language.
1435 - Enter a room or meeting like you own the place.
1458 - Never go up a ladder with just one nail.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Special Edition: What came first - the cookie or the cake? Caramel, Butterscotch Cookie

My butterscotch, caramel Claire cookie
For those of you that read my 2nd post about the Caramel Cake I made when I read the book The Help, you may understand of why I wanted to attempt something a little bit easier for my next baking activity.  I was heading to a BBQ, and wanted to bring some cookies, and I didn't want to have to leave my house to buy any ingredients, so I used what I had, and I think a masterpiece was made.

1 box moist yellow cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Butter Recipe Mix)
1 stick of butter (melted)
1/3 cup of packed light brown sugar
1 bag (or almost a bag) of butterscotch chips (I used Toll House - the normal small/medium size bag)
2 eggs (I used extra large Eggland's Best)
1 tsp of vanilla
1 cup leftover frosting from my caramel cake (or any caramel sauce would do)

* Pre-Heat your oven to 350 degrees
1) Pour the cake mix into a bowl
2) Stir in the brown sugar
3) Put an unwrapped stick of butter in the microwave (in a cup) for 30-60 seconds to melt
4) Pour the butter into the mix and hand stir
5) Add in the 2 eggs and hand stir
6) Add in the vanilla and hand stir
7) Add in about 3/4 of the bag of the butterscotch chips (less or more as you like)
8) Continue to hand stir until the dough is shiny and forms into a big ball
9) Put the dough in the fridge for a few minutes so it is easier to handle (about 15 mins, and put it in there whenever you are waiting between batches)
10) Take a big tablespoon full or so (I didn't measure) of the dough and roll into a ball (doesn't have to be exact) and place on cookie sheet.  I made 3 batches and was able to make 2 batches of 12 cookies and also a 3rd batch of three cookies only.  (If you make smaller ones, you might make more)
11) Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (less if you make small ones).  They should look a little bit undone - that is OK and is what makes them good. 
12) Let them sit on the tray for 2 minutes (or until they look like you can move without destroying them).  Take a sharp spatula and quickly and boldly move those cookies onto a sheet of wax paper to cool
13) This next step is OPTIONAL:   I had about a cup of the leftover caramel frosting from my cake and I put it in the microwave to make into a caramel sauce. I had to mix in a little cream to get it going.  I then drizzled the sauce over each cookie.  If you don't have this frosting, you could quickly make a caramel sauce by boiling brown sugar and butter and a little milk or you could make a glaze with powdered sugar and milk or you could buy a caramel sauce.

These are awesome.  Everyone at the party thought they were insanely good.  If they are NOT melt in your mouth delicious, then you baked them too long.  If they don't rise, check how old your cake mix is, or if your oven temp is off.  Also if the dough was too warm before you put them in the oven, they might not rise as well.

Also, I have to give a shout out to Claire.  Claire is a lady my ALTA team played several years ago at an away match up in Cherokee county, and she brought awesome chocolate cookies to our match.  She told us she made them from a cake mix recipe in the Cake Mix Doctor book.  Over the years, I used this "idea" to make all kinds of cookies. Claire, from ALTA, wherever you are, thanks!!!