~ WELCOME TO MY BLOG ~

Hello. I'm Judith Harch. My friends call me Judy.
Hello. I’m Judith Harch. My friends call me Judy.

For the past 35 years I’ve been a freelance journalist. I’ve published hundreds of articles and commentary essays that newspapers call “slice-of-life” stories. I’ve met so many interesting people from all walks of life. Telling their life stories has been a great joy. I’m always thrilled when someone says, “I didn’t know I was so accomplished until I read your article about me.” As a journalist, it doesn’t get any better than that.

My latest writing adventure has been as author of the e-novel, Falling Off the Family Tree, a three-generation family saga. If you’d like to visit my author page at Amazon, here’s the link: amazon.com/author/judithharch.

Besides my passion for writing, I love to bake. To me, dessert is the highlight of any meal. One of my favorite sayings is, “Eat dessert first, you might get full!”

Over my many years as a writer, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother, I’ve collected a mountain of dessert recipes. My dessert recipe box is crammed full with special recipes from days gone by. They are not complicated or trendy recipes. Just the good ones yesterday’s kids grew up with – along with some newer ones I’ve discovered.

What’s My Reason for Creating this Blog?

To share my recipes for those special treats that make life sweet. And – to share some of my favorite stories. I hope you’ll sit down, relax, have a cup of coffee or tea (with dessert, of course), and read about some of my favorite people and life experiences.

If you try any of my recipes or read any of my stories, please let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.

Strawberries and Pound Cake

                   strawberry      

Juicy, ripe strawberries partnered with pound cake. Yum!                     

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In southern New Jersey, strawberry fields are abloom. Row after row of dense green leaves are punctuated by red, ripe berries awaiting picking. Folks of all ages, sporting wide-brimmed hats, can be found kneeling in the soft, sandy soil filling their buckets and baskets with the first fruit gems of late spring.

Strawberries are luscious enough to stand on their own as a sweet treat. However, my fresh-picked strawberries most often find their way atop one of my favorite cakes, “Vita’s Pantry Pound Cake.” I call this cake a half-pound cake. It’s lighter than its cousin, the traditional butter-laden pound cake. Just perfect to show off the season’s first bounty of fruit.

Fresh Strawberry Topping

4 cups fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup water

Place cleaned strawberries in a bowl. Make a simple syrup by boiling together the sugar and water. Boil for 5 minutes. Allow syrup to cool. Add syrup to the bowl of strawberries and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. This allows the fruit to release its natural juices into the syrup. (This syrup is equivalent to the light syrup found in canned fruit. Increase the amount of sugar to 1 cup if you prefer heavy syrup.)

Vita’s Pantry Pound Cake

This recipe is courtesy of Gale Gand, host of the former Food Network show, “Sweet Dreams.” My recipe card for this cake is splattered with the tell-tale signs of a well-loved recipe. It is perfect as a frosted cake because it is not too heavy. I use this cake on many occasions.

NOTE: Do not grease and flour the pan. The cake will not rise properly. Trust me – been there – did that! I do, however, line the bottom of the tube pan with wax paper for easier removal.

Ingredients:

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a 10-inch tube pan (preferably non-stick)

In a saucepan, bring the milk and butter to a boil.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs 5 to 7 minutes until light and very fluffy. (If you have a whip attachment on your mixer, use it.)

Add the sugar and vanilla and mix well. Then gradually add the flour.

Slowly drizzle in hot milk (to temper the eggs a little), then add baking powder. Pour into an ungreased tube pan with straight walls (not a Bundt pan). Bake 50-60 minutes – or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow cake to cool for about 20 minutes before removing from pan.

FUN FACTS: Madame Tallien, a prominent woman in Emperor Napoleon’s court, was famous for taking baths of fresh strawberry juice. She used 22 pounds per basin. Source: http://www.temeculavalleystrawberryfarms.com/fun-facts-about-strawberries 

Strawberries are the only fruit that wear their seeds on the outside. The average berry is adorned with some 200 of them. No wonder it only takes one bite to get seeds stuck in your teeth.

Source: http://www.foodrepublic.com/2013/05/20/14-things-you-didnt-know-about-strawberries

Strawberry photo courtesy of tiverylucky @freedigitalphoto.net

Doggie Treats for Our Canine Buddies

Our best canine buddies deserve a delicious and good-for-them treat. This recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies. I freeze half and keep the other half in the fridge. Charlotte, our buddy, has her special treat while we enjoy dessert each evenin.
Our best canine buddies deserve a delicious, good-for-them treat. Charlotte, our best buddy, has her special treat each evening while we enjoy dessert and coffee.

Charlotte -2011 007 (2)

I’ve seen a variety of dog treat recipes and like this one best. It makes about 2 dozen biscuits with a 3-inch dog bone-shaped cutter. Use whatever shape and size fits your fancy – or your dog’s fancy. These biscuits are not as rock-hard as commercial dog biscuits, but they are firm and easily chewed. If you’d like, give them a taste. Everything in them is fit for human consumption, as they say. Your dog won’t tell a soul…

These cookies make a great gift to friends with dogs. If you want to glam them up a bit, brush each cookie with egg wash (a well-beaten egg with a little water added) before baking. It gives the biscuits a nice sheen. I found adorable dog paw ribbon at Michael’s craft store.

In light of a recent news story concerning some peanut butters using xylitol as a sweetener, I checked the brands I use. I use Skippy and Jif. Neither one uses xylitol to replace the sugar in their peanut butter. I’ve been making our dog these cookies for quite some time without her having any problems with them.

Several websites are stating that xylitol can be toxic to dogs. Here are two website links:

http://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/is-peanut-butter-safe-for-dogs

http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/pets/sns-201506231830–tms–petwrldctnya-a20150624-20150624-column.html

~ Peanut Butter Dog Bone Treats ~

Cook Time: 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Line cookie trays with either parchment paper or a silicone mat for best browning

This recipe will fill two cookie sheet trays. I switch the trays in the oven about half-way through the baking.

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting the cutting board

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (Quick oats work – just not instant oats)

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 cup either of water, vegetable, beef, or chicken broth (if this liquid is a little warm or at room temperature, it makes the blending together of ingredients a little easier).

1 cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature (about half a 16 oz. jar – a little easier to measure than scooping it out into a cup)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, and baking powder. Stir in the broth and peanut butter until the mixture forms a soft dough. Press the dough together to form a ball.

On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough for about 30 seconds until smooth. Roll out the dough to about a 1/2 inch thickness (remember that there is a large amount of baking powder, so they will puff up as they bake). Using a cookie cutter, cut out biscuits and place on the prepared baking sheets. Any scraps of dough can easily be formed into a ball and re-rolled.

Bake until light golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

FUN FACTS: It’s rumored that, at the end of the Beatles song, “A Day in the Life,” Paul McCartney recorded an ultrasonic whistle, audible only to dogs, just for his Shetland sheepdog. Source: PBS

Watch that plate of dog cookies! A Dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 – 100,000 times more acute as that of humans. Source: PBS

For more Fun Facts about dogs, go to https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/bringing-a-dog-home/facts-about-new-dog/

Blueberries…Fresh Fruit Season is Here!

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Summer is beginning to blanket southern New Jersey. Blueberries are fattening up and turning from hard, green knobs to delicious, soft purple goodness.

Here is my quick, easy, and delicious recipe for Blueberry Sauce. I serve it spooned over spongecake or pound cake and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. The sauce turns plain old vanilla ice cream into a simple, but elegant dessert. And it sure sparks up a serving of yogurt!

~ BLUEBERRY SAUCE ~

2 cups fresh blueberries (you can use frozen blueberries straight from the freezer – just add another 1/4 cup of berries)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon cornstarch + 2 Tablespoons of water

A squeeze of fresh lemon to taste

Combine blueberries, water, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer 3 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch that has been dissolved in water. Simmer 2 more minutes. Add lemon juice to taste – or leave it out if you have a super sweet tooth. Also: some people simply love cinnamon. Add a dash if it suits you.

Allow to cool, then refrigerate. NOTE: The sauce may appear thin, but it will thicken as it gets cold.

Fun Fact: President Ronald Reagan visited Hammonton, New Jersey in 1984. The small southern New Jersey farming community of 13,000 cheered when the president referred to Hammonton as “the blueberry capital of the world.” The local newspaper reported that “when he was done his speech, he went into the bank for refreshments and asked his Secret Service guys, ‘Hey guys, where’s that blueberry pie?'” Take that, Jelly Bellys!