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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Blueberry buckle

 Make in an 8x8 or 9x9 greased baking pan. Preheat oven to 375.

 Blueberry buckle

3/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup butter (softened)

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2-1/2 cups fresh blueberries


1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup oatmeal

1/4 cup melted butter


Cream sugar, butter, and egg.

In a separate bowl mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into sugar mixture, alternating with milk.

This is a sticky dough. You could mix it with the blueberries but I made a base of half the dough, then poured in the blueberries, then put blobs of dough on top. 

Topping: Combine sugar, flour, oatmeal, and butter. Sprinkle over cake batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Genevieve's tamales

Genevieve's tamales

2 chickens: breasts, thighs, and legs, boiled. Save the water. Shred (takes a long time to shred)

3 pounds tomatillos
3 plum tomatoes or any red
5 jalapeno peppers
1 big clove of garlic
blend the 4 ingredients above, then boil down, finally, saute with some oil. Put the chicken in.

Maseca - she used a whole bag and it made a tremendous number of tamales
blended with oil, salt, and water

3 bags of husks - get the big ones

She used the hot cooking water to mix with the maseca and oil and salt

Lay out one or two husks, give two good smears of dough, filling, wrap.

Steam for a half hour with layer of foil on top.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Swedish Raspberry Almond Bars

This is a favorite recipe for dazzling people. Hard to stop eating

3/4 c. soft salted butter
3/4 c. confectioner's sugar (regular sugar will work too)
1-1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. raspberry jam
3 large egg whites
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 c shredded sweetened coconut (just the regular kind at the grocery store)
1 c sliced almonds (it's better if you toast them but don't burn them)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter & sugar, add flour. Press into a 9 x 13 pan and cook 18-20 minutes (until light brown). Cool a little bit at least.

Spread raspberry jam as evenly as possible.

Beat the eggs, add the sugar to the stiff-peaks point

Add coconut and 1/2 cup of the almonds. Spread on top of the base layer. Sprinkle with the rest of the almonds.

Bake for 18-22 more minutes, until golden brown.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Tex-Mex chicken cheese turnovers (empanadas)

I'm "sheltering in place" with my son, daughter, son-in-law, grandkids, and two kids and a dog. We take turns cooking and this is what I made tonight, with my favorite pie crust recipe. It made twelve big empanadas.

Pre-heat to 400 degrees

Pie crust dough

1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
2+ cups of flour
1 egg yolk (save the white for glaze)
1/2 ts salt
2/3 c sour cream (I ran a little short of sour cream and substituted cream cheese)

Mix it in the food processor into a ball and chill while you make the filling


2+ cups of chopped or shredded boiled chicken breast (I pulsed it in the food processor)
2+ cups shredded cheddar cheese
5 oz cream cheese
2 T milk
2 cups chopped scallions and parsley mixed (I pulsed them in the food processor with a few walnuts)
3 cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper

if you wanted it spicy you'd add chopped green chiles but since I'm feeding kids I didn't

I rolled out the dough in batches, VERY thin, and used a 6-1/2" bowl to cut circles. Moistened the edges with water, put in a blob of the thick filling, tried to close the edges very well, glazed with egg white, cooked for half an hour.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Ozark pudding

I saw this mentioned on twitter and tried it yesterday. It is not a beautiful dish but it's very tasty and best of all, it's incredibly easy and fast to make and you usually have a couple apples around the house. If you need a last-minute potluck dish, this could be it.

Ozark pudding

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1-1/2 ts baking powder
3/8 ts salt
1-2 apples, diced (no need to peel them) (you could probably use any fruit)
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans) (optional to toast them first)
1 ts vanilla or lemon juice

Grease a 9" square baking tin. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat the eggs and sugar together until foamy. Add everything else. Dump in the baking pan and cook 40-45 minutes.

It's good with whipped cream.


Friday, September 06, 2019

Caribbean bean and rice salad

This is one of the most precious things left behind by a boyfriend I lost long ago. A delicious recipe and you can make it the day before you want to serve it.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic

2-1/2 cups cooked long-grain rice
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed & drained
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped green onions

whisk the dressing together, season with salt & pepper
combine all ingredients, season with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Albanian spinach pie (Byrek me spinaq)

I took a break from politics to make this.

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 medium finely chopped onion
1 pound chopped feta cheese
30 ounces frozen chopped spinach defrosted
1 egg

salt, 1 egg, 4 cups flour, about 1-1/2 cups water
6 tablespoons butter (to spread between layers)

Saute the onion (I added some of the spinach juice and sauteed it dry). Add the other ingredients.

Mix salt, flour, egg, water, knead, roll into a roll, cut in half, then each half into five pieces. Roll each into a ball. Roll one ball to size of small plate, put it on a square of wax paper, brush it with butter. Repeat with the next four balls so you have a stack of 5 on your wax paper. Butter the top. Put in the refrigerator and do the other five. Chill for at least ten minutes.

Preheat oven to 360 degrees.

Take one of the dough stacks out of the fridge and roll it out thin, put it on your baking pan, I used a pizza pan about 15" in diameter. Spread the filling on it. Roll out the other dough stack, put it on top of the filling, crimp the edges. Press a 5" bowl with straight sides down in the center of the pie and cut around it. Cut a cross through the circle. Then use a pizza cutter to pre-cut serving size pieces radiating from the circular center. Glaze with an egg beaten with the remaining butter. Bake for at least 45 minutes

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Voting by mail (Absentee Ballot) in North Carolina for the Nov 6 2018 general election

I've spent most of this past year canvassing. I meet a lot of people who are going to have trouble getting to the polls in November: the NC GOP has reduced the number of early voting sites and throttled the weekend hours many working class people use to vote. It was intentional, of course.

I also meet a lot of people who don't have cars, or who are ill, or who are the only caretaker for children or disabled family members or the elderly. If they can't get anybody to come spell them, they can't get to the polls.

Middle class people have trouble understanding that this can be an actual problem. For instance, in all of Nash County (which is very big) there are only TWO early voting sites.

So I've been telling people to vote by mail - in NC you don't need an excuse, anybody can get an absentee ballot. Another reason might be: if there is last-minute election hacking, your vote will already be safe.

I made a not-very-good video about it:

Please note that the NC Board of Elections REALLY wants to refer you to downloading stuff yourself. But a lot of people don't have the internet. So if you call the number, be sure to get a real human being and you can ask that human being to mail you a form.

I decided to request an absentee ballot for myself this year - for one thing, I want to see if it works, and for another, I'm probably going to be working for the election and not want to take the time to vote in those last important weeks.

You request a NC absentee ballot here: North Carolina Absentee Ballot Request Form
And by the way, if you also need to register to vote you can send in both forms at the same time. Here's where to download a NC Voter Registration Form to fill out.

It's sometimes hard to find the mailing address for the local county Board of Elections offices. I put them all here: I've just filled mine out and am sending it to the Orange County Board of Elections. Will keep you posted.

PS: After you've sent in this request form, they'll process it and at some point before the election you will receive your ballot in the mail. You'll have to have two witnesses sign it. Here is a video from the NC BOE itself about successfully filling out and mailing your absentee ballot: Civilian Absentee Voting in NC (turn down the terrible music).

Saturday, July 01, 2017

My two donkeys free to a good home.

Hector and Jethro are calm, smart, and gentle. I've loved being a donkey owner but it's time to find them a new owner to enjoy them and feed them treats (they like banana peels, for instance). If you have a good place for them (gelded males) and can come get them, they are yours. Write me at


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Aunt Mary Taylor Mason of Germantown of Germantown, Pennsyvlania (1971-1957)

I was named after my grandmother's aunt Jane Mason, who lived her entire life with her sister in Germantown, Philadelphia. They were always cited thus: "Aunt Jane and Aunt Mary."

It must have been a slow news week when Life Magazine decided to do a story on their 75th anniversary 'At Home' party at Cerne, the house which family legend has it was brought over from France on a boat and reassembled stone by stone on Schoolhouse Lane.

Here's what Life Magazine wrote:

Life Goes to a 75th Anniversary "At Home"

In 1878 Mary and Jane Mason moved into a new house which their father, a wealthy shoe-blacking manufacturer, had bought in Germantown outside Philadelphia. The Misses Mason have lived there ever since -- Jane is now 84 and Mary 82 - and this fall they decided to give a big "At Home" to celebrate three quarters of a century at Cerne.

The years between have been busy for the sisters. Miss Mary was graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1892 and won a medical degree though she never practiced. Almost every other year the sisters traveled abroad and when she was over 50 Miss Mary climbed the Matterhorn. When someone asked if there would be personal friends or just family at the anniversary "At Home" Miss Mary said briskly, "All our personal friends are in the cemetery."

Here's a picture from the story:

All I know about them is that Aunt Jane was the sweet one and Aunt Mary was an old battleaxe, suspicious and frugal and unkind. Their father, Richard Servetus Mason, had inherited a flourishing business from his father James Servetus Mason, and had built it up. He had been a harsh man - the story is that he died of apoplexy when his servant laid out the wrong time for a board meeting. My great-grandfather Charles Thomas Mason fled to California and raised his family there, as far away as possible from his father and his two at least slightly nutty sisters.

I wonder what kind of life "Miss Mary" had, with her medical degree she never used, spending virtually her every waking moment with her sister. Nothing is left of their house on 21 School House Lane in Germantown.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Recipe: cranberry muffins

I developed this recipe from a blueberry muffin recipe. I dealt with the problem that cranberries take so long to cook - and also, that they're a little gross when they pop in your mouth - by chopping them up.

Cranberry muffins (makes a dozen)

1-1/2 cups cranberries chopped in a food processor or blender with 3 tablespoons of sugar. Don't pulverize them, just get them in littler pieces.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons oil or unsalted melted butter
3 more tablespoons of sugar

Stir dry ingredients and the chopped cranberries together. In another bowl beat the egg, add the milk and butter. Stir all together and drop into the muffin tins. Cook at 425 degrees about 12 minutes.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A nerdy problem (only Yiddish enthusiasts should take note)

I have a lot of paperback books for sale at Amazon's Createspace, and in general it's a great resource for authors and readers alike.

But what a problem I have with my Yiddish titles! They don't allow Hebrew characters in the titles or descriptions (if I try, it comes out gobbledygook)

That makes the books hard for people to search for.

For instance, take one of my favorite Yiddish books, by Mendele Moykher Sforim (whose name is spelled at wikipedia Mendele Mocher Sforim and as says:
Mendele Moykher Sforim, Moykher also spelled Mokher or Mocher, Sforim also spelled Seforim or Sefarim, pseudonym of Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh

So when you can't even figure out how to spell the author's name, that's a problem.

The name of this beloved book, which I put out as a paperback with larger print than you can otherwise get it, is in Yiddish (or rather, Hebrew)

מסועת בנימין השלישי

It means The Travels of Benjamin III but it's often translated The Brief Travels of Benjamin the Third

And that is variously transliterated as Masoes Binyamin Hashlishi or Masoes Benyomen Hashlishi or even Masoes Benyumen Hashlishi

If you don't guess right, you don't find the book.

Anyway, since blogger at least will allow me to use Hebrew letters, I'm leaving this post here to help people who're looking for a new, well-bound copy of this book. You can get it by clicking here:


Masoes Benyomen Hashlishi by Mendele Mocher Sforim

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thoughts on Election 2016

The human race does not deserve this planet. The squirrels, rats, and cockroaches will inherit it and do a better job than we do.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"What's Not to Like?" - a Yiddish songfest in Durham NC November 6 2016

Many years ago Gary Berman decided to throw a benefit concert for Urban Ministries of Durham: he worked for months preparing a fabulous selection of Yiddish songs arranged for quite a few local singers plus piano and string trio (including viola da gamba).

Gary and Beth Berman have now been doing this concert annually for a long time. World renowned Yiddishist Sheva Zucker is Master of Ceremonies. It's a great cause and if you're local I hope you'll attend. Advance tickets are $15 and now you can buy them in advance via paypal, click here:

(You can also get them in advance by contacting Gary and Beth at

This year the theme is "Work." I'll be singing three songs. Everybody's song lyrics, translated, will be up on the wall so you'll be able to enjoy them all even if you've never heard of Yiddish before!

Concert is 3 pm on Sunday, November 6, 2016, at Beth El Synagogue (1004 Watts Street, Durham NC 27701). Contact the Bermans at 919-682-7468 for more information.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

In which talisman maker Rabbi Azulai fails his customer, Dragan Janjić

Update September 2016: Six years after I first posted this article, I have been contacted by Rabbi Azulai AGAIN. This time he is asking me to remove the quotes from his website. Reluctantly I am complying.

Update July 2013: There has been a firestorm of blog comments on this post. It started with a dissatisfied customer, Dragan, whose first response to me I incorporated into this blog post (see below). The rabbi or his assistant wrote to ask me to remove Dragan's complaint (that the amulet did not work), as it was bad for his business.

In subsequent months and years Dragan wrote me several more times, with additional complaints. Evidently the rabbi had convinced him that the failure of the first amulet was due to Dragan's not having spent enough money. So Dragon bought more amulets, but they didn't work either.

So Dragan wanted his money back but was refused. Then, in 2013, he got a refund from Rabbi Azulai in exchange for removing his comments from this post.

Also in 2013 several anonymous "I am thrilled with the magical efficacy of the rabbi's amulets" types of comments were posted. Then I heard from the rabbi's assistant, and finally supposedly from the rabbi himself who wrote: "Recently, I have been asked by several of my clients about this post and whether the talismans actually work. I plan on sending an email to my clients asking them to share their experiences on your blog so people can have access to a variety of testimonials."

I decided I would not be a mouthpiece for poor gullible Dragan nor for the rabbi and his assistant. This post is closed for comments. You will have to look on Yelp or elsewhere if you want to figure out whether it is worth your money to buy a magical talisman.

This all started when in March of 2009 Google served me an ad from and I posted quotes from the rabbi's website on my blog. Imagine, a guy that old knowing how to use Google AdWords!

Last week a dissatisfied Azulai customer, Dragan Janjić, posted a complaint about the $360 he paid the Rabbi for failed talismans. I feel he should be heard. So if you already know all about Reb Azulai and his talismans, scroll down to read the piteous tale of his customer Dragan.

Since Rabbi Azulai has asked me to remove all quotes from his website, I paraphrase:

Rabbi Azulai converts the negative energy from the curse laid upon you into energy full of love and purity. He claims his "healing method" is profound. He discovers the patterns which cause imbalance and efficiently releases them from your very core.

Reb Azulai and a talismanThe rabbi says he is in possession of mystic powers. For instance, he connects with "the world of truth". According to him, he has a unique gift awarded to very few.

With purchases from the rabbi you will, he states, be "activated" with an innate ability to generate wholeness, wellness and balance. You will achieve your soul's mission and achieve contentment, joy, and fulfillment.

magical Jewish talisman rune symbols

Rabbi Azulai incribes his amulets by hand with special kosher ink on deerskin. Upon the parchment he writes "virtues and Solomon signatories" with the power to bring success in all arenas: the rabbi avers he can not only elevate you spiritually but also procure for you excellent health and he can cure barrenness. His amulet will bring you a sweetheart and "ultimately anything you may ask for." He can heal your marriage and protect you from the evil eye. His talisman, he avers, will protect you from poverty and improve your personality, your charisma, and your self confidence.

He warns you may be a victim of black magic and voodoo; he can protect you from such sabotage of your happiness. Without his professional help, if voodoo dolls have been put into play your life can be damaged in a matter of seconds.

After 30 years of practice, the Rabbi claims, he can make you a talisman holding all the secrets of the Kabbalah and other holy works which "track the source of evil from the voodoo religion."

On Rabbi Azulai's website is a story about someone who was getting sicker and sicker. The Rabbi said an evil eye curse had been upon him for a long time. Rabbi Azulai made a talisman and asked the fellow to bring a glass of water. The Rabbi dipped the talisman into the glass and told the man to drink the water. Ever since, the Rabbi avers, the man has been healthy and successful.

Here is the response posted by Dragan Janjić, an employee of Radio & Television in Montenegro, on my original Rabbi Azulai post. Moshe is, evidently, the rabbi's assistant.

Moshe, unfortunately, the time confirmed my doubts about the success of Rabbi's talisman.

My position in Radio and Television of Montenegro is becoming increasingly difficult. Mobbing managers above me are left to receptionists and physical security of radio and television that we often make it impossible to enter and exit the buildings making up the formal obstacles.

The Administration does not issue me an electronic card that I was forcefully abducted just before I was illegally fired 2008.

The Administration does not issue me an electronic card with which an employee enters and exits the building Radio and Television by me forcibly abducted from the same security agents shortly before I was illegally fired 2008th.

In vain I sought to be appealed to the competent inspection ...

So, after months of wearing your talisman I perceive only the deterioration of my living and working conditions.

At the beginning of our communication, I warned you that the $300 is the big money for local conditions in Montenegro! Do not even talk about the two prayers of the $30 with no results!

I have hopes in knowledge and talent of Rabbi David Azulai…

Sincerely disappointed,
D. J.