Apple pie is, of course, the perennial favorite of all the pies.  Whether it's a crumbly-topped Dutch Apple or a double-cruster, apple pie is definitely the king of pastries here in the U.S. of A.  I love the making and the eating, but for some reason, I can't stand the part where I have to put the crust into the pie pan.  Maybe I have a deep down suppressed fear of pie pans after some unfortunate incident with one as a child (I'm cautious around glass pop bottles after one shattered and cut me as a kid- I guess that dates me a bit, too).  Or, maybe I like the freedom of just tossing the crust on a pan, dumping the ingredients in, and flopping the edges up.  I think I kind of understand the joy of "dump cakes" now, although I still maintain that the name should be changed.

Regardless of your stance on pies, pop bottles, or dump cakes, I think you'll like this apple galette.  It's a crowd pleaser, it's easy, and it looks like something you picked up at a french bakery. Win, win win!


This is another one of those oh-crap-I-don't-know-what-to-get-the-man-who-has-everything presents for my dad.  My dad just buys whatever he needs and my mom takes care of the socks and dress shirt thing.  I think dads kind of get screwed over on Father's Day- Moms get presents and dinners and flowers and dads get ties and socks or some Pinterest craft.  I don't know about anyone else's dads, but mine wouldn't exactly be thrilled about a poster with candy glued to it and a cheesy poem about how his coolness relates to candy bars.  Maybe one king-sized snickers that also came with spending a whole day with his kids and in-laws.  Or a six-pack of beer (please don't arrange it into a cake and tie ribbons on it- this is Father's Day, not a baby shower) that comes with a huge steak dinner, a nice new set of sharp knives, and a day spent fishing- now we're talking.  Dads are practical.  Dads like food.  Dads like manly things.  Dads like spending time with their kids.  If you don't like the idea of food, though, I also wrote a post on Manly Presents that you can make yourself.

In that line of thought, I made some of this spicy, garlicy, just a little sweet sauce to go with the beef jerky that I made for him this year.  I may throw in a cutting board, too (let's face it, they get ruined when you leave them in a sink of dishes or lazily run them through the dishwasher- I'm totally guilty of both).  You can almost never have too many nice, small cutting boards.

Just a quick note, I didn't actually can/process this stuff, so keep it in the fridge.  It won't last long in there, I promise! ('cause you'll eat it, not 'cause it will go bad- it should actually last several weeks in the fridge).


Father's day is just around the corner and I've been scrambling to find something for my dad.  It's hard when you get to be this age.  A gold pasta picture frame is no longer acceptable, yet I don't make enough money to gift my parents with cool vacations or grandbabies.  I'm stuck in the middle and need to make gifts, but I'm almost always at a loss for ideas.  Homemade gifts usually ride a very fine line between really crappy and wonderfully thoughtful.  Unfortunately, most DIY father's day gift ideas out there are for little kids to make and they look like it.  Apparently I'm not "adulting" very well and, just like when I shop for shoes, I'm relegated to the kids section on this one.  Maybe someday...

Anyways, I scoured pinterest and googled my little heart out for "cool Father's day gifts" and "Father's Day gifts he'll actually like" to no avail.  I've already exhausted my Manly Presents blog post by giving all of those things at Christmas.  Jeez, I have no self control when it comes to gifting.  So, I resorted to food.  I thought beef jerky was a pretty safe one, too, as I don't know a man alive who doesn't love it.  I present to you, easy beef jerky:


We have lots of native plants and trees around our house, thanks to its former owner, and I'm always looking for ways to use them.  This year, the birds didn't eat all of the Saskatoon berries, which was a miracle!  Last year, they would get to them at the exact moment that they were ripe, and I think I only got to eat two or three of them.  This year, the tree is loaded with them in all their purple, blueberry-ish glory! 

If you've never had a Saskatoon berry (or juneberry, or serviceberry), you're missing out!  They look like a blueberry, but taste more like a cross between a grape and an apple.  This website has a really interesting history and background for the berries, if you're interested.  

I love pie, I love almonds, I love berries, but I don't love making pies.  For some reason, a galette is just so much easier than a pie with its carefree form and flopsy crust.  Maybe I'm just lazy...

This recipe is sort of adapted from the always-wonderful Smitten Kitchen cookbook, but it's a pretty basic galette/almond paste recipe


In the summertime I crave veggies and pasta and mayonnaise.  I'm guessing it has something to do with my midwest upbringing and the happy memories of summertime potlucks.  It wasn't until I was about 16 years old that I learned "salad" meant lettuce to everyone else in North America. 

Just a note, if you're wanting the greens in Iowa or nearby and you're eating at someone's house or a church potluck, you'd better ask for a "lettuce salad" or a "side salad".  Yep, you need to specify "lettuce" in there or you'll be getting something either jiggly or mayo-y.  Where I grew up, "salad" means vegetables or marshmallows (or both) suspended in Jell-o, or a vegetable or pasta (or both) suspended in mayonnaise.

Although Jell-o has it's moments, mayonnaise is truly king at all food-centric functions.  When my friends have a potluck together, sometimes everything we bring is just a variation of mayo or cream cheese: Reuben Dip, Pickle Wraps, Deviled Eggs, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Suddenly Salad- the list goes on and on.

Midwesterners wouldn't dream of not having a jar in the fridge (and usually a spare in the pantry).  Come to think of it, non-midwesterners would probably be appalled at the vast array of mayo choices at the grocery stores here. If the mayo section is under two feet long, you're probably not in the Midwest.

So, in true celebration of my wonderful, mayo-ridden upbringing, I give you the recipe for a delicious pasta salad.  And with this salad, you can eat it as a little lunch before bed, or even as a full-blown supper.  Heck, enjoy it like we do, at the supper table with a Spotted Cow from the Midwest's glorious beer and cheese-making state of Wisconsin.

(see below for definitions if you're curious)
Reuben Dip:  Thousand Island Dressing, cream cheese, sauerkraut, and chopped Buddig corned beef melted together in a crockpot.  Smells terrible, tastes amazing.
Pickle Wraps:  Buddig corned beef slices smeared with cream cheese and wrapped around a little pickle.  You can't eat just one.
Deviled Eggs:  Hard boiled eggs, cut in half.  The yolk is removed and mixed with seasonings and, you guessed it, mayo.  Ten points if they're topped with a sprinkling of McCormick's Salad Supreme.
Spinach Artichoke Dip: Basically hot cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo along with cheese, spinach, and artichoke hearts.  In other words, comfort food heaven.
Suddenly Salad:  A boxed Betty Crocker concoction that is the shortcut little brother to the glorious lineage that is the pasta salad.  You'll see it at nearly every function that involves bringing your own dish, mostly in the Bacon Ranch version. 
Supper:  What you eat when you're at home or a friend's or family's house at around 6:00pm.  Although this is also added to the end of mostly any word like "Soup Supper", "Spaghetti Supper", ect., which usually means it's some sort of charity or fundraising event, but it's still around 6:00pm.  You can also add "feed" to the end of some of those words and it's along the same fundraising/charity line: "Spaghetti Feed" "Pizza Feed", etc.  "Waffle Feed" is a popular one, but that takes place in the morning.  Lastly, there is the "Fish Fry" which is amazing and it happens for Lent every year at nearly every Catholic church, American Legion, Knights of Columbus or even townie bars.  If you've never gone to one- you're missing out!
Dinner:  What you eat at a fancy function or restaurant at around 6:00pm (or around 12:00pm, but usually it's the 6:00pm time).  If it's Sunday, though, it's what you eat at 12:00pm, and possibly again at 6:00pm, and probably followed later by "a little lunch".
Lunch:  What you eat around 12:00pm when you're at work, school, or at home on a regular day.
little lunch:  a light snack (ha, who am I kidding, it's going to be pretty much a full meal) that you eat when you're not eating your main three meals.  Usually after getting home from church or a late night high school sports game.
Coffee Break:  Midwesterners "brunched" before it was hip, but we called it a "coffee break".  At about 10:00am after a long Saturday of cleaning house, my mom would sit us kids down at the kitchen table and we'd all split a Coke and have cookies, some leftovers heated up, or some fruit and cheese.  Ah, the good old days.  Coffee breaks are also widely enjoyed by the retiree crowd, although theirs just kind of continues on from their morning coffee.
Pop: carbonated sugar drink mixture.  Some midwesterners have started to say "soda pop" or "soda" to try to be more "with it" but it makes them sound silly and we laugh at them behind their backs. 
Spotted Cow: amazing beer from New Glarus brewery that you can only buy in Wisconsin
Salad:  Any combination of vegetables, Jell-o, fruit, pasta, marshmallows, mayonnaise, etc.  Pretty much anything goes, except I've never seen lettuce in one.
Lettuce Salad:  Lettuce.  Probably with ranch dressing (can't forget the mayo!)
Casserole:  Pretty much hotdish, except, alhtough frowned upond, you can leave out the can of something condensed (i.e., condensed cream of mushroom soup).  Usually involves potatoes, preferably in tot form.  Generally beige, cheesy, and delicious.
Hotdish:  This is more of a Minnesota thing, but I know what it means- it's basically a hot casserole, but if you didn't use a can of condensed something in it, it's not a hot dish, it's just a casserole.  Oh, and don't forget the cheese!
Dish:  If someone asks you to bring a dish to their party, I guarantee you they will think poorly of you if you show up with a plate.  It means bring a main dish of food. Oh, and be generous with what you bring- we here in the Midwest show our love and respect for each other with gifts of food.  Oh, and one last thing, we also show our love and respect by eating other people's food.  Always clean your plate, even if you think you're going to die from it- we don't waste other people's home-cooked food.  Also, you're going to be offered seconds, thirds, or even fourths after you clean your plate.  This is the proper rigmarole for seconds being offered:

Host: "Here, have a little more of that hotdish, you look hungry"
Guest: "No, thanks, I'm stuffed, but that was delicious"
Host: Picks up dish and offers it towards you, "Are you sure, it's a long drive home"
Guest: "Aww, I really shouldn't, I've had two helpings already, but thank you"
Host: "Okay, then, if you're really not hungry, but it's all just going to go to waste otherwise" (if this is your mother or grandmother, they'll just put a scoop on your plate while saying this)
Guest "Oh, alright, just a bit.  Wow, that was really good!"
Host: "Here, let me bag the rest up for you for the road"
Guest: (button pops off of shirt in stomach area)


Yep, that's cake batter.  Despite it's resemblance to a kid's spin-art creation gone awry, it's a rainbow cake.  Wow.  Lots of color.

I'm not normally an advocate of such a blatant abuse of artificial food colorings, but every once in a while life calls for such an occasion.  This time it was for the album release party for the Man's band, Goodcat

I covered the cake with dark chocolate frosting and topped it with their CD cover art in buttercream, so it was a fun surprise to see the rainbow inside.  It was also going to be in a dark bar, so I wanted the colors to really pop.  And pop they did!

I was going to just wimp out and use one of the Cake Boss tie-dye mixes, but I heard a lot of negative reviews about how they tasted terrible, so I thought I'd just make my own.

The main complaint from a lot of people is that it takes so many bowls and spoons to make a rainbow cake.  My solution is a bit of an art-class experiment and could be a fun hands-on kid lesson in color mixing.  You're going to get four (or even up to six) colors and only use three bowls total.