Give Me S’mores!

By now, anyone who is out there reading my blog thinks that either I am outside, lounging in front of my Fancy Fire Pit eating and drinking, or I am inside dreaming up things to eat and drink. This is partly true. I do love to cook and eat. Unfortunately, I have to do other things as well. Exercise for one, so I can eat and drink without too much guilt. And run my business and my household. But given a choice, I might spend an inordinate amount of time planning what to cook, cooking and eating, punctuated by trips to the garden, trips to the grocery store or farm market and trips to the couch to read books. I am hopelessly old-fashioned and still read actual books!

But I digress… what I really wanted to talk about is s’mores.  When you go into business making fire pits, you end up talking about s’mores often and making them even more.  My first summer in business, I came up with a frozen s’more pie. It is delicious and very easy to make. By the way, if you need additional fund for your business, the best thing to do is to loan at loaora. If you visit their website, you’ll learn more about their quick loan and payday loan options.
First, make a graham cracker crumb crust in a pie plate and cover the bottom of the pie with melted milk chocolate. Then give it a rest in the fridge to firm up the chocolate. Then put a generous cup of mini marshmallow on a cookie sheet and run them under the broiler for a few minutes or until they are browned and crisp. Let the marshmallows cool. Soften a pint of vanilla ice cream and fold in the browned marshmallow. Spread this into the pie crust and put it in the freezer until you are ready to serve. Just before serving shave a pile of milk chocolate curls onto the top of the pie and voila, S’more Pie!

It is not quite as “summer at camp” as an actual s’more but it is fun for something different. And if you are committed to the whole toasted marshmallow, melting chocolate thing, take a look at these marshmallow trees a friend bought for me. They make alot of marshmallows at once and they are really beautiful just leaning decoratively against the fire pit!

Roasting with the marshmallow tree.

Roasting with the marshmallow tree.

Waiting for fire..

Waiting for fire..







However you make them, s’mores are one of the great treats of summer. Happy toasting! Joy

Summer Fun

This is going to be the summer of the popsicle. I know, you are thinking “what??”. It is a big statement to make. I mean, they do require major cooking skills and equipment, not! Last summer I tried to make alot of popsicles. I found delicious recipes and made a few kinds. I even perfected a dairy free fudgesicle. But I did not have the best popsicle maker and the little plastic sticks that came with it kept disappearing. So for this summer I invested in a simpler gadget that uses old-fashioned wooden sticks and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival. With this week’s little heat wave, they will be the perfect treat.

Mango-Peach Ice Cream with Strawberry

These are fruity and healthy but you can make them adult with the addition of a little rum or vodka. I saw a recipe for a mango yogurt pop that looked creamy and yummy and is healthy too!  For lazy summer afternoons, they are the perfect food- easy to make, easier to eat and no clean-up required! Once my nifty new pop maker arrives, I will start testing up the recipes.

Stay tuned, Joy


Domestic Therapy

After the strange and scary events of last week, I was so happy to be home, wandering around my yard weeding, colllecting sticks that had fallen in the last of the many winter storms and tidying up.

Fancy Fire Pits are useful too!

Fancy Fire Pits are useful too!

Then I moved indoors to more of the same, though I was waylaid by hunger and ended up cooking for the better part of the afternoon. Luckily, I had a teenaged daughter and her friend available to eat up the treats. I love baking but do precious little of it. We are empty-nesters and it is hard to justify baking just for the two of us. For one thing, we would eat it all. And for another, we would eat it all!!

Ready for baking

Ready for baking

Now we just need a glass of milk!

Now we just need a glass of milk!

I am having a green moment, green grass, green spring vegetables, green sweets?? Think pistachios!! I happened to have some in the pantry, leftover from the holiday baking bonanza so I turned on the oven and got busy. A mere hour later and we had delicious, barely green Pistachio Shortbread.  And they were so simple to make- really!

Preheat your oven to 325 and lightly toast 1 cup of unsalted pistachios. Dump them into the food processor and wait a little while for them to cool. Once they are cool, chop them finely. To that add 1 1/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar (though they are a little sweet for me, I will make them with 1/2 cup next time), and a teaspoon kosher salt.  Pulse again to blend. Add a stick unsalted butter cut into small pieces and pulse until it looks like cornmeal. In a little cup stir together 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon water and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Add this through the feed tube until dough comes together loosely (it will be crumbly). Press it onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet to make a 1/2″ flat rectangle and refrigerate until firm, about an hour.  Cut dough into squares or rectangles and bake until lightly browned and firm, about 18 minutes. When cool, drizzle with bittersweet chocolate if you want to be fancy.


Energizer Bunnies

Things are warming up around here and I am so happy to see daffodils starting to bloom and grass turn green. I am not happy, however, to see a plethora of bunnies. I  know, they’re cute and all, but they eat everything.

Enjoying the garden salad buffet!

Enjoying the garden salad buffet!


The most favorite treat seems to be the buds off the top of any bulb. Tulips stems without their tops are a sorry sight, indeed. There are many who love the sight of a cute little bunny munching away on their grass and but I am not one.

I do love other harbingers of the season, like beautiful green vegetables in the market.  My favorite thing to make is a mess of sautéed spring vegetables with lots of garlic over pasta.  I wait impatiently for fava beans, which take a little work to prepare but are so delicious they are worth it.  They do not come into our markets until June, so I will have to content myself with asparagus, sugar snap peas and spring onions for now.



I  slice the onions and sauté them in olive oil, add in the other vegetables, garlic and serve it over pasta. It is delicious and healthy, too!  Pour a glass of red wine and dinner is ready!

Happy Spring! Joy


Finally, I think it is actually Spring. There have been several days when I did not need my warmest winter coat, and the sun is shining. I might even start raking in the garden today and am excited to do it. I love working in the garden this time of year. After spending the winter indoors or playing in the snow, it feels good to dig in the dirt, rake last fall’s leaves and put things in order.

Even the bees have come out!

Even the bees have come out!

As I clean up the beds in the garden, I find myself looking forward to a few rainy days too. Not only is it good for the plants and the trees, but it also gives me an opportunity to do a little spring cleaning indoors.  I do get overzealous and try to clean everything I see, from my closets and kitchen pantry to the email file on my computer. My desk at work is covered with papers and receipts as I try to get my taxes together, so that could use some cleaning as well!

I have also been thinking about getting ready for spring with a different kind of cleanse, as in the liquid fasting type, but I just can’t get psyched to do it. As I drink my second glass of red wine, the closest I can get is to skip dessert or that second handful of cashews. But I have lots of time until bathing suit season, so there is that! And with the weather turning warmer, I can always go for long walks and runs to burn those extra calories.

Happy spring cleaning, whatever your type, and Happy Spring! Joy

California Greenin’

I love Southern California! Not only is it sunny almost every day but they seem to be so far ahead of the rest of the country (certainly the Northeast) in living the green life. On a long drive through the Mojave desert, we passed a wind farm, turbines as far as you could see!  Every other car is a hybrid, though gas is quite expensive, so that may be a factor. And at each garbage can, there is a recycling bin for plastic and glass.

Wind turbines in the desert

On a different green note, when I saw what my friend pulled out of her CSA box, I wanted to weep with envy. You already know I am obsessed with vegetables and I would love to have these gorgeous vegetables in my CSA share in the summer, let alone mid March!

Cali vegetables in March!

I am building a fantasy feast of salads, roasted fennel and artichoke hearts with citrus vinaigrette and tuscan kale with slivered red apple, endive and chopped walnuts. Add a glass of California Chardonnay and I am in business.  With the sunshine, mountains, ocean and lots of fabulous fruits and vegetables, I can see why people move here and stay. There are just those pesky earthquakes, fires and mudslides, but hey, nothing’s perfect!

Here’s to this week’s California girl. Joy

Men and Fire

Father’s Day is just a week away and my Fancy Fire Pit business is booming! I would like to think it is because I have such a great product and it has (finally!) been discovered. But given the timing and the fact that nearly all my sales are for very lucky Dads, I think it has more to do with men and fire. I collect old cookbooks and in one Life cookbook from the early sixties, in a section about grilling, it says “grilling is a man’s job.”. The implication, clearly enough, is that while grilling might be a man’s job, the rest of the kitchen is a woman’s. I am embarrassed to admit that even though I am an accomplished cook, I rarely throw the meat (or vegetables or pizza) on the grill. It is, as it was in the 60’s, my man’s job.


So what is it that draws men to fire. Trust me, I am not complaining, with my sales growing, but I don’t fully understand the phenomenon. It must be some atavistic instinct drawing men back to the days when they hunted the meat and then, naturally, had to be able to cook it. While my husband takes care of the grilling in my family, my son has also developed a love of fire and spends nearly every night in the summer around the fire pit with his friends. They say they are roasting marshmallows…

So here is to the man in your life, be it your husband, father or son. Light a fire, let him cook up a steak on the grill and eat it in front of your fire pit, a Fancy Fire Pit!


Heart Fire

Heat up your Valentine’s Day

Heat up your Valentine’s Day with a delicious drink by the fire and an even better meal. For me, cooking is an expression of love. You can see how much I love my honey by the belly on him! Poor thing, now he has to diet and all I want to do is bake.

For drinking, I am craving a big, juicy Australian Shiraz. To eat with that, my first choice would be Pasta with Bolognese. But since my honey has sworn off red meat (?!) for now, at least, I am going to have to come up with something else. I could make bolognese with ground turkey, but it just doesn’t have the same meaty succulence. I have been making a lot of vegetable soups but somehow it does not seem like the best choice for “Valentine’s Day”. Even if I followed it with a rich dessert, beans and vegetables are not particularly sexy!  I read today that scallops are the new oysters so I am planning on making seared scallops with leek and herb risotto, made with lots of leeks, chives, parsley and a little tarragon. Even the teenager will be happy with that!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Add LIght to your LIfe, Joy

Joy’s Cookies and Fire Pits!

Joy's Cookies and Fire Pits!




Whew, that was a long three days! But it was also incredibly interesting and informative. The cookies were a hit. I thought I should rename my business Joy’s Cookies and Fire Pits- you see the connection don’t you?

I spent this week on the computer, emailing and following up and now find myself facing Valentine’s Day! By the way, if you have a business site, you may want to consider marketing automation tools for email to have an immediate connection with potential customers. Everyone I know is on a diet so I guess I don’t have to bake or buy anything chocolate but there must be some way to make it special without calories! Or is there?

My latest favorite way of getting a chocolate fix without too many calories and with a drop of nutrition is hot chocolate. I mix together a heaping teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa, a teaspoon of sugar, heat up 8 ounces of regular or soy milk and whisk them together. Marshmallows are delicious but optional. Or try this absolutely decadent Italian version with espresso, called Bicerin. Come to think of it, I will splurge on this for Valentine’s Day and maybe share it with my honey, too.

Makes 2 drinks

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder ( Ghiradelli or Lake Champlain are good) or dark chocolate shavings
  • Sugar
  • 2/3 cup chilled heavy cream
  • One shot of espresso for each mug or 1 cup strong drip coffee

1. At least 15 minutes before making drink, place stainless steel cocktail shaker or jar in the freezer. Fill 2 mugs with hot tap water.

2. In a small saucepan, combine chocolate with 2/3 cup water and set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add sugar to taste and shut off heat.

3. Empty mugs and wipe dry. Remove shaker from freezer, add cream and shake vigorously for 1 minute to whip. Pour about 1/4 cup hot coffee or 1shot espresso into each mug and stir in about 1/3 cup chocolate mixture. Spoon over cream and serve.

Enjoy these chocolate treat and Add Light to your Life! Joy