DIY Iced Coffee

IMG_9836

There is something about summertime in Ohio that makes every day carry a bit of vacation sparkle with it. The sunshine is abundant, the birds are singing from dawn until dusk, and the hot breeze coasts gently along the lush greenery decorating the trees. People are happier and life seems pretty grand. These glorious months demand an extra special way to start the day and this DIY iced coffee fits that bill.

The convenience of drive-through coffee shops doesn’t exist in our neck of the woods, but this recipe provides a tasty and much less expensive alternative. It’s very simple to make. It does take some planning ahead as the coffee grinds need to steep for at least eight hours to create a strong cold brew. I prep everything in the evening before I go to bed, which allows me to wake up to a copious amount of coffee that just needs strained through a cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer. After that, I pour a generous amount over ice and add a splash of cream for a drink that gives me an extra pep in my step all day long. I store the extra coffee in the fridge and enjoy it for the several days that follow.

If you love iced coffee and the celebratory feelings of summer, then I invite you to make a batch of your own. You will be so happy you did. 

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

IMG_9825

DIY Iced Coffee

Yield: 1/2 gallon (2 quarts coffee)

Ingredients

  • 1/4lb freshly ground coarse coffee of your choice
  • 2 quarts filtered cold water
  • Cheesecloth
  • Mesh strainer

Directions

  1. Place freshly ground coffee in a large glass pitcher or bowl/container. Carefully add in the water. Stir gently to ensure the coffee grinds are fully moistened. Allow to steep at room temperature for at least 8 hours.
  2. After the eight hours have passed, line a large mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth. Place the strainer over a large bowl. Slowly pour the coffee through the strainer/cheesecloth. Stir and press the grinds/liquid to facilitate the straining process. Remove strainer/cheesecloth and transfer coffee to a glass pitcher or container of your choice. Chill in the refrigerator. Serve over ice and enjoy.

Source: The Pioneer Woman, who adapted it from Imbibe Magazine

Caramelized Onion Jam

IMG_9849

Father’s Day sometimes gets overlooked in the hustle and bustle of June, but I wanted to make sure I took the time to recognize the special men in my life. First, my father.

When I think back to the kind of man my father was (and still is), I remember the fact that he has always been a steadfast source of support and good advice. I’ve realized through my own memories and through my own adventures in parenting, children don’t forget the words their parents speak or the way in which they act;  and they can sense genuineness from an early age. I can still remember the time when I was about eight years old, and my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up while he was tucking me into bed. I can’t remember what I said; but I distinctly recall him sitting on the edge of my bed, patting my shoulder, and telling me, “Lolly- I believe you can be anything you want to be.” It was such a simple statement, but it made a profound impression on me because I trusted my dad and I knew his words were sincere. Dad was always there to help check my math homework, to show me how to attempt a hook shot in basketball, and to teach me the beauty of some musical greats like James Brown and Marvin Gaye. Today, I still ask him for advice and he still offers it, along with a gentle nudge to look into retirement funds and life insurance. Thank you dad, for being a great father to your three children. We love you.


I would be remiss not to mention how much I love seeing the father my husband is to our little rump roast. Robert always makes Smith a priority in his life, despite his busy schedule; and his patience, love, and tenderness towards Smith is a spectacular sight to see. As our beefcake gets older and his personality develops, I can see that he and his dad are cut from the same cloth. I couldn’t be happier. Someday Smith will realize how lucky he is to have hit the jackpot in the dad department; but I think, even as a two-year-old, he already knows that.


After all this sentimental stuff, you may be thinking, “I don’t really find onion jam and dads synonymous,” and I can see your point.  However, this condiment is a way to make just about any meal extra special for those wonderful fathers in our lives . This caramelized onion jam is fantastic smothered on top of a burger, slathered over a thick sirloin steak, or drizzled on top of gooey baked brie. It’s a great item to make because it uses simple ingredients and it stores well in the fridge for a few weeks. I know I will be making a lot more of this when the onions in our garden are ready to harvest. Robert adores this jam, and I think you will too.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fantastic dads, granddads, uncles, and father-figures out there that provide the children of the world with the love and support they need to grow into wonderful adults and human beings. I am especially thankful for those incredible men, today and every day.

IMG_9847

Caramelized Onion Jam

Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large sweet onions, cut into thin strips lengthwise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, season with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until lightly browned, for about 15 minutes.
  2. Tie together the bay leaves and rosemary with kitchen twine. Turn down the heat to low, add the herbs to the onions and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the onions and cook, without stirring, until the sugar melts, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat up to high and cook, without stirring, until a  golden-brown caramel forms, about 6 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat back down to low, stir in the balsamic vinegar and simmer, stirring a few times, until the jam is thick, about 5 minutes. Remove the herbs, season the jam with about 1/4 teaspoon additional salt (or more, if desired). Let cool and top on burgers, steaks, or cheese.

Source: Hugh Acheson, recipe posted at Food & Wine

Sweet Potato Hash

IMG_9799

When I was in graduate school, a point that was constantly repeated by professors to us students was to always avoid talking about two topics when working with patients: politics and religion. Both are polarizing and highly personal and it was advised to stay mum to avoid potentially unnecessary conflict. While I agree with my instructors, I would also add a third topic to keep under wraps: diets. Holy guacamole, can there be seriously dogmatic views on nutrition. All one needs to do is stroll through the diet section of the nearest bookstore and it’s amazing what can be discovered. Paleo, vegan, low carb, low fat, blood type, raw, cabbage soup, ketogenic.  The list goes on and on and it can be confusing and maddening. With all the information -and misinformation- floating around, I think we can all agree on one principle in particular: we need to incorporate more vegetables into our daily menus. They are packed full of nutrients and fiber; and despite the strong opinions of my father-in-law, vegetables can be delicious. Take this sweet potato hash recipe, for example.

IMG_9802

I love to use it as a base for eggs in the morning, as a side dish for dinner, or even sprinkled in a salad to make it extra jazzy. If I’m on an insatiable sweet potato craze,  I will double this recipe and make a big batch of it on the weekend to use throughout the week. It’s always nice to have something so versatile tucked away in the fridge that is ready to be used at a moment’s notice. Even better, this dish fits the mold for a whole host of individuals who abide by certain dietary guidelines. It can be served to those who are vegan,  paleo, dairy-free, gluten-free, or lower carb. I can only imagine the conversations that would be had at that dinner party. It takes all kinds.

Have a great weekend, all!


 IMG_9711

Sweet Potato Hash

Yield: About 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Spread the sweet potato cubes evenly onto the parchment paper. Add the onions. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss all the ingredients together to ensure even distribution. The sweet potatoes shouldn’t be piled on top of each other so they don’t end up steaming instead of roasting.
  3. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until lightly browned and tender.

Source: Hickory Creek Lane

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

IMG_9733

Rhubarb is a fabulous, yet highly-underrated opening act for Midwestern summers. This perennial plant is here for a brief moment of time, but it seems it’s always overshadowed by the flashier and super popular Ohio strawberry. I love strawberries, too; but rhubarb will always hold a special place in my heart because it reminds me of my late maternal grandmother, Grammy. Grammy adored rhubarb.

Admittedly, Grammy didn’t love to cook and, when I think back to times I spent at her house, I remember that her pantry was never overflowing with copious amounts of food and she didn’t have a cookie jar (unless she was hiding it from me, which is a conspiracy theory I just surmised). If the time of year was right, though, Grammy would usually have a saucepan of stewed rhubarb on the stove. Her kitchen would be filled with the scent of tartness and cooked sugar. When no one was watching, I would tiptoe in and taste a spoonful of it and sear the roof of my mouth from the piping hot temperature, trying to play it cool if an adult happened to walk by while blisters were likely forming inside my mouth.   If I were lucky enough to hit the jackpot and find ice cream in the bowels of my grandparents’ garage freezer, I would drizzle a bit of the rhubarb on top and scurry off to the spare bedroom to enjoy it. Looking back, I participated in a lot of sneaky eating in my youth. Oh, the days of yore. 

I recently listened to a podcast about making and canning jam because I am age 30 going on 76. The woman who was being interviewed made a comment about how she loves jam so much because she feels that when she cooks and cans the jam, she is preserving a moment in time. When we make jam, we are taking a fruit at the peak of ripeness in its respective season and we bottle it up to enjoy  for an occasion in the future. I found this to be quite poetic. How comforting to think that, when January hits and the snow is covering the landscape, I can walk down to our cellar and pluck the tastes of early summer right off our shelves in the form of this strawberry rhubarb jam? Even more comforting is the fact that every time I taste rhubarb, I am fondly transformed back into Grammy’s kitchen in the 1990s. Just a plump, carefree 10-year-old with burns on the roof of her mouth from the rhubarb she lovingly stole from her Grammy.

IMG_9737

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Yield: 6 half pint jars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups crushed clean strawberries, (I started with 4 cups uncrushed)
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 6 tablespoons pectin
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 5½ cups sugar

Directions

  1. Thoroughly clean canning jars and bands.  Wash lids in warm soapy water.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine strawberries, rhubarb, pectin, and lemon juice. Stir to blend. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Add sugar and stir until sugar dissolves.
  3. Return mixture to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and scoop off foam with a spoon.
  4. Immediately ladle hot jam into jars, leaving about 1/4 inch space between jam and the top of the jar. Clean rims, center lid on jar, and secure bands
  5. Flip each can over so they are upside down. Use oven mitts if necessary as  the jars will be very hot.
  6. Allow jars to sit for at least 1 hour. Flip them back over and ensure the lids have sealed.
  7. Cool for at least 12 hours. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not pop up and down when center is pressed. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year. The jam will keep for 3 weeks in the fridge after being opened.

Source: Back to Her Roots