The Laughing Matriarch

The Laughing Matriarch
ma·tri·arch/ˈ A woman who is the head of a family or tribe.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Big House, Big Mess

For the past five days we've been house/dog sitting in a 1400-square foot home.

It's too damn big!

You would think that I would covet a kitchen with stainless steel appliances ( they get dirty fast) and marble counter tops, ( can you cut on these or not? The $1 million question. I did not, Ruth.) Hardwood floors and lots of cupboard space- but I don't.

It's a lovely kitchen, but I like my tiny space. Wait, I choose my tiny space!

I found out these past few days that the two of us make a big-ass mess and I'm tired of walking  20- feet to the bathroom. I get my exercise the old- fashioned way- by going outside and actually exercising.

I've made some decent meals here in the big house, but also made big messes, so on Tuesday, when we get back into our RV with the tiny kitchen, I will be once again, a happy camper.

Stay tuned for an apple pie recipe from Julian, CA.

Last Meal in the Sandy Shores Trailer Park



  • 4 bone-in pork loin chops (1 inch thick and 10 ounces each)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • GLAZE:
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed

  1.  Make glaze and marinate chops at least and hour.
  2. Sprinkle pork chops with pepper flakes, salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add pork; cook for 5-7 minutes on each side or on the BBQ and baste with sauce while drinking a nice Merlot.  Remove and keep warm until serving. (The meat, not the wine.)

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Laughing Matriarch Moves into a Tiny House...

How can it be three years since I last posted? 

What the HELL have I been doing with myself?

Well, moving here and there and everywhere. 
Helping relatives deal and win their battles with cancer.
Healing and helping our first- born get her life back.

Coping with other family issues (as if we don't all have them.)

Traveling and creating new adventures...

And buying and moving into a 30-foot, 32-year-old recreational vehicle.

As you do.

Holy crap, my house is so tiny...I ain't got room to change my mind. My house is so small..when I drop a Kleenex I have wall to wall carpet. (Thanks- I'll be here all week.)

Anyway, I do love my RV (hipsters call it a tiny house...seriously? It's an RV.) I have my own bedroom (sigh,we both can't fit in the same bed.) My bathroom with a shower has everything I need including room for all my lotions and potions, but it's my kitchen that I love the most.

Can YOU sit at your dinning room table and reach over to check if your cake is done in the oven without getting up?

I didn't think so.

After owning two wonderful homes with nice kitchens and renting other great houses with, honestly, better kitchens, than the homes we owned...this is my favorite kitchen.

The small size forces me to wash the dishes immediately, and I don't waste much food because there is no such thing as leftovers, because I've finally taught myself to downsize my recipes. Oh, and I have a tiny fridge.

When I tell young folks I live in an RV, they treat me like a hero and gush that they've" always wanted to live in an RV." 

All 24 years of their lives.

So anyway, I am back and I want to share my travels and recipes with you, so don't change the channel- I'll be right back after station identification.

"Finishing food is about the tiny touches. In the last seconds you can change everything." Mario Batali


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past

I've cooked a lot of turkeys in my lifetime, but every one  of them has a special place in my heart.

Before The Husband came on the scene, our Thanksgiving dinners were quiet. Mom and Dad did the dishes and put away the food faster than I could finish my pumpkin pie. With no siblings around I pretty much did all the talking.

I still do.

But once I met The Husband all bets were off. Two loud, rowdy, ribald (look it up) brothers and an ex-Marine dad, and you have  recipe for a kick-ass Thanksgiving dinner.

My mother-in-law- God bless her soul- tried for class and decorum, but rarely succeeded.

In my second or so year of marriage I took over the festivities.

And the tradition began. Tables were set with china, tablecloths and candles. Mom made the gravy (a seemingly week-long recipe. But so, so worth it.) Bocce balls were tossed in the front yard and football was on the TV in two rooms. We always ate outside...except once when it actually rained.

Mom making the gravy.

But, as in life, there are back-stories to perfection.

That time the green bean casserole flew out of the oven and on to the floor. And my sister-in-laws and I scooped it all up and put in back in the dish and served it with a smile.
Thanksgiving in Vista, CA.

My second year of hosting when the day before Thanksgiving as I prepared the food I let a just released lady prisoner into my home to wait for her friends to pick her up. She happily, and very detailed, told me how she had tried to kill her husband...while showing me her cool brass knuckles.

The Husband finally came home and escorted her out the door.

And that first year when we moved into our new house in Vista and realized...too late... that we had propane to heat the water. And we were out. Of hot water.

We bathed in the hot tub and boiled a crap-load of water to wash the dishes. ( The Realtor -not Laurie- might have mentioned the propane to me but she was too busy trying to seduce The Husband while showing him the house. Sheesh, and I paid her a commission!)

Al fresco Thanksgiving dining.

A few years ago the tradition ended,  as traditions often do. Family members passed away. Others grew less rowdy. We moved out of the state. We flew to Canada to be with the son for the holiday. (Another story; I once accidentally poured the boiling water that was cooking the beans- it involved talking- onto my leg. Instead of going to the hospital, I drank more wine. My scar is almost gone. My  son and Miss Lydia are most likely still scarred.)

Samuel carving a Canadian turkey.

We moved to Washington five years ago and had friends over for indoor golf , turkey and mac n cheese, which was great, but we missed the rest of the crew.

This year we  returned to California and had an early dinner with the relatives and the daughter, serving it on a door covered with a tablecloth.

This week (actually Friday. Sigh.)  we will do it again in Canada with the son  and a group of his friends in a hotel in downtown Vancouver. (Please be a regular-sized oven!)

But no matter the day or time or size of the crowd, it's still Thanksgiving for the Laughing Matriarch.

The great thing about this holiday is that I get to pour my heart and soul into the pies and stuffing and turkey...and wine. Sometimes it turns out, sometimes it doesn't.

You know what the  best thing about our big-ass, oddball, non-traditional family is? (Get ready to call the cornball police)

 We always have leftovers of hugs and laughter.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


" Isn’t it peculiar, Charlie Brown, how some traditions just slowly fade away?" Lucy Van Pelt

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Part Duex, Eh?

Where is the Laughing Matriarch these days? California? Washington? Canada?

Even she (I) is confused. Why am I talking/writing in third person?

OK, xanax has been taken and wine poured. Breathe.


The one thing I am sure of- to borrow Oprah's silly expression - (because seriously, she's probably sure of  about $2.7 billion things) is that it's my favorite time of year to cook --- yay Thanksgiving! Oh, and Christmas! And my birthday!

But I will chill. Let's get through Thanksgiving first. Which I already did last week! HA! 15 people at the house. Best turkey ever, football, laughter, leftovers, blah, blah, blah.

But I am doing it again. On Friday, Nov. 29th in Canada. With my son and some of his friends.

Ahhh, youth.

So until tonight I thought I was cooking/warming stuff up in my hotel room for the three of us. But silly me did not check Facebook. It's 12 guests! YAY!!

Luckily I started cooking items like cornbread and wheat bread for the stuffing. Cookies. Ginger pecans.

And cranberry sauce. Yummy, sweet and tart cranberry sauce.

Last week I phoned the cranberry sauce in. Who cares, with all the cheese plates and dips and chips and gravy right?

But I do love turkey sandwich leftovers created with Best Foods and cranberry sauce. To...die...for.

So finally I will cut to the damn chase:

I grabbed the usual suspects from the freezer/cupboard and store:

 That is NOT  a martini. It was the closest glass I had to pour in the maple syrup. Truth!

I tossed the ingrediants..except for that chocolate bar- what, am I some kind of hoser?- into a pan and boiled it all up into a frothy, yummy mess.

OK...that photo is not frothing....I think I was distracted when it did the bubble dance.

So then I added some damn oranges that cost me more than I could have sold the whole orange tree I have in California.

And THEN...bippity boppity boo...I made cranberry sauce.

Pecan/ pumpkin pie (all in one pie!) to be made tomorrow... because why make two pies when you can also eat cake?

" Most turkeys taste better the day after; my mother's tasted better the day before." Rita Rudner

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Eating to Cope

I have a lot on my plate these days.

 I moved...again.
Mom has cancer.

 Baby Girl is…off her feed.

But, the great thing is I now live in California...back where I belong…and I have a kitchen...and plates, and pans. So I can cope.

This is a basic/I can pull my shit together dinner.

Steak. Potatoes.  Asparagus. Wine.

Tip: Find tiny wine glasses. You can drink all night and feel good about yourself in the morning.
And, as Kathleen says:  Don't forget to breathe.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cheese + Cake = Love

" I've been creating cheesecakes since 1978."  If I had a cheesecake store that phrase would go on the sign. Actually, I used to sell cheesecakes professionally. Two restaurants and family and friends bought my Lindy’s New York-style cheesecakes for a year or so back in the day.

Big, fat-filled three-pound cheesecakes chockfull of eggs and sugar and of course, cream cheese. And the crust- no graham crackers for us. (A poet- cook no less.) A yummy, shortbread-style crust encircled MY (and Lindy’s) cheesecakes.

I started to add candy, like tootsie rolls and Snickers. I made pumpkin for the holidays and chocolate just because. Fresh fruit and booze went into some and plain cheesecakes topped with whipped or sour cream which soon became favorites.

 My friend Julie and I once wolfed down an entire Pina Colada cheesecake (sans forks) on the front stoop of my house as we watched the planes land at the airport below.

OK, that was definitely in the 70’s.

But then my children took over my life and I needed a professional kitchen and so Mrs. Reed’s Cheesecakes quietly closed.

And honestly, I was sick to death of cheesecake.

But every now and then a cheesecake is requested /desired/needed.

If there was ever a time for cheesecake it’s this week.

I need to devote my attention to measuring and blending and stirring. I need to forget about cancer (for at least a few hours) and pay attention to cracking the eggs and slicing the strawberries. I need to mix and press the crust into the pan; not perfect, but just so.

This will be a cheesecake filled with positive vibes, hope, a few tears and possibly some magic.

The recipe is just a little different than my usual cakes, but I wanted to mix it up a little, be a little more creative and brave try something new as my daughter has requested a cheesecake.

 If she buys more Sara Lee frozen cheesecake I will only give her one piece of this one.

Because you don't live near a bakery doesn't mean you have to go without cheesecake. Hedy Lamarr

I don't have a mixer... but this monster is on the counter. It frightens me.

My shortbread crust. Trust me, it's better than those kiddy crackers.

Extra strawberry sauce which brother Frank declared, 'So-so." Ignore him.

Hell yes, this thing can do everything! Whipping the cream.

Forgot to take a photo of this completed cake- with whipped cream & strawberries. They ate it all. You get it the picture.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Food for Comfort and Comfort for Food; Part I

As the Laughing Matriarch, I laugh through about 98% of my life, but recently cancer made an uninvited and unexpected visited to my immediate family. Even a smile is hard to come by these days.
After a few weeks of tears and anger and confusion, I felt the need to try and wash away some of the sadness by going back into the kitchen full-force.
This isn't to say that the next few weeks/months won't be filled with tears, but I will do my damnedest to at least smile in the face of pain and confusion- and fucking cancer. 
 Once an optimist...
Of course, I still don’t have my own kitchen (next week I will!) but this lovely temporary one provided by my favorite female cousin will do just fine.

With the air conditioner cranked and an iced espresso with Bailey’s at my side, I will start this important/positive week off by cooking up the best potato salad recipe I’ve ever tasted- courtesy of the Pioneer Woman. (I will mention my slight adjustments.)
This is the real deal.

Screw the Costco Bucket O' Crap and don’t you dare bring potato salad from Vons to a gathering.

Mon dueu! (I still love France.)

Ask your hostess if you can bring something else if you can’t boil potatoes and eggs. I mean, really? You can't boil potatoes and eggs?

Anyway, here we go.
" Perfect Potato Salad for 20 or So." For the full-on recipe go to:
(I tripled this recipe for our Labor Day family gathering.)
Simple ingredients.
There is a reason it's called 'potato salad.'
Smash & mash. (But don't use the ricer- yuck!)
Sweet baby dills & green onions. Your greens.
If you don't have one of these things go buy one now. RUN! (Thank you, Cissy.)
Perfect potato salad for 20. (I fought the urge to add bacon- but you might not be as strong.)
Next up: Strawberry cheesecake.
Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.- Hippocrates