Trip of a lifetime to the Azores!

Wow…sorry I haven’t posted anything for over two years! Time flies!

My husband retired in April of 2015 and soon after we took our kids and their significant others to the Azores Islands to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  Both my maternal grandparents were born in the Azores, my grandfather in Terceira and my grandmother in Sao Jorge.  We started our trip by unexpectedly having to stay overnight on the island of Sao Miguel.  There was a terrible storm, and after landing and waiting for a connecting flight for over 5 hours, the airlines canceled our next leg to the island of Sao Jorge.  The airport in Sao Miguel is small, and we weren’t sure what to do, but we didn’t have to worry, SATA airline took care of everything.  There were several flights canceled, but the airline personnel found us all hotel rooms, gave us taxi and food vouchers for two meals each, all on the airline! I would fly SATA again! It turned out to be an unexpected bonus.  We were fortunate to catch the last night of a festival in Ponta Delgada!


Festa do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, (meaning the Festival of the Christ of Miracles)

Our tour of the Açores included three islands; Sao Miguel, Terceira, and Sao Jorge. The Açores are in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and have a tropical climate.  We toured a pineapple plantation and a tea plantation.  The pineapples are smaller than the Hawaiian pineapples and a very sweet.

Lapas…delicious! Sao Jorge
Velas, Sao Jorge
Cracas (barnacles) eaten with a nail to dig them out. Street food at a bull fight in  Terceira.
Pineapple plantation, Sao Miguel
Tea plantation Sao Miguel
Sao Miguel
Caldo Verde
Fish and potatoes…amazing!

I had read about this small factory in Sao Miguel and knew I wanted to go get some Queijadas.  They were amazing.  Each is individually wrapped in tissue paper.  Queijadas are a custard tart.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of them…I was too anxious to eat them!thumb_img_7834_1024

These are the ladies that wrap and package the queijadas.

My next blog post will be a recipe for Queijadas de Feijão or bean tarts.



Basque Red Beans

Basque Red Beans


This was my sixth and last year cooking for our Basque club picnic in July. The first year I was terrified as I had hardly cooked beans, let alone 4-60 quart pots of beans. I was told I had to start them at 3:30 in the morning and stir, stir, stir. I am short…so to stir the beans I had to stand on a stool and stir with a wooden paddle. Basque men from other clubs would open the kitchen door and ask where the men were to stir the beans. There were no men that first year. Finally a taller woman took pity on me and finished stirring the beans. In those 6 years I learned a lot about cooking beans in such large quantities. (These also apply for smaller quantities)
1. Don’t add a lot of water to those beans. If you do they will disintegrate. You just want to add enough to cover plus a couple of inches. You can always add more if needed.
2. When you have a pot that is bigger than your burner make sure you can see the flame. If you can’t it might be too high and those beans will burn. (Happened more than once.) Nothing makes you cry more than a 60 quart pot of beans that are burnt at the bottom.
3. Make sure your beans are fresh. Two years in a row some of the beans didn’t soak and were hard when I went to cook them. Husband wasn’t too happy when I called him in tears at 4:30 a.m. to come and help me sort the beans.
4. Stir, stir, stir. Stirring produces a creamy texture that you need with these red beans.

After the first year I did have a man to help stir the beans. The 4th year, I along with my helper Jake decided we were never cooking beans again. This was after burning a pot.

It wasn’t until I was at a friends house and he was cooking a massive amount of beans for an FFA function that I changed my mind. Tom had these great Camp Chef cookers for each pot of beans. I immediately asked him to order some for me. What a difference that made! No burned beans and they cooked in a record amount of time. Instead of starting the beans at 3:30 a.m., I started them at 6:30 a.m. and they were done by 11 a.m. and we cooked them outside! I even got Jake back this year to stir!

This recipe is a smaller version of the one I made for the picnic. It’s a tasty dish and I hope you like it.

(All the photos are from the picnic.)

Basque Red Beans
Serves 6

1 pound dry red beans
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ pound chopped ham
¼ – ½ pound ham hock
2 Basque chorizo links, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

rinsing beans before soaking
Rinse beans before soaking.

Sort, rinse and soak the beans overnight in a bowl large enough to cover the beans with water plus a couple of inches.

After soaking and rinsing before adding water.
Covered with water.

Rinse the beans and put in a large pot and cover with water.

Bring to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients. Turn down to medium heat. Stir often.

Pots in a row.

As soon as they are soft and creamy they are done. About 2 hours or so.

Cooked and creamy.

Don’t forget to follow my other blog, The Bean Sack, at

In Defense of Pete Cenarrusa

We lost a great Idahoan, American and Basque recently.  Pete was one of a kind.  I wish more politician were like him.  I have chosen to post a blog from A Basque in Boise with her encouragement.  My husband and I met Pete on several occasions and he always would tell the story of how his parents, his father was a sheepherder and his mother a maid, met at my husbands grandmothers boarding house in Shoshone.  Pete was fiercely proud of his Basque heritage and of Idaho.  Idaho PBS did a documentary on Pete years ago where they followed him back to the Basque Country and to his families home.  I remember hearing the photographer said that it was like following a celebrity around.  Everyone knew Pete.

In Defense of Pete Cenarrusa: In Memorian (1917-2013)

Lamb Shanks

Every first Friday of the month, except for July when our Basque club has it’s picnic, we have a dinner open to the public.  We always serve lamb chops and I alternate chicken, pork, albondigas (meatballs) and fish for the other meat.  We also have lamb shanks, lamb ribs or lamb stew along with homemade soup, Basque rice, a vegetable, salad, homemade bread and desserts.  I never know how many people will show up, it could be 80 or 160 so I always try to prepare enough food and I always keep my fingers crossed. So far we have never run out…came close a few times but we have never run out.  There have been some mad dashes to the grocery store for more lettuce for the salad.

I made up this recipe from a couple of ones that I had tried and this recipe has become a regular on the menu.  I also use it for lamb ribs.  Lamb ribs can be fatty, but this combination goes really well with them. Don’t be alarmed of the large amount of lamb shanks pictured in the pan.  This was for the first Friday dinner and I made two large pans of shanks.

20130923-222320.jpglamb shanks

20130923-222341.jpgAdd minced garlic and chopped onion

20130923-222406.jpgAdd sliced carrots, can of crushed tomatoes, 1/2 can of beer, cup of red wine, salt and pepper to taste.

20130923-222419.jpgCook at 350 degrees for about 4  hours.  This is an approximate. It may be more or less depending on your stove.

You just want to slow roast them.


Lamb Shanks

4 to 6 lamb shanks

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion chopped

3 carrots peeled and sliced

1-28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

1/2 can of beer

1 cup red wine

salt and pepper to taste

Put a little oil in the bottom of a roasting pan or a large dutch oven.  Add shanks, garlic, onion, carrots, tomatoes, beer, wine, salt and pepper.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees approximately 4  hours.  This may be more or less.


Super simple Chorizo, Pepper Sandwich

My husband usually makes his own lunch. He says when I leave to go on a girls trip or visit my mom that he doesn’t go grocery shopping and “lives out of the freezer”. He is the kind of guy that when he does go grocery shopping usually brings home cans of SPAM and chili. He says we need them in case of an emergency. I know SPAM is popular in Hawaii, but it would have to be the last thing left on my pantry shelf for me to even consider partaking of this canned meat.



We had a great crop of cubanella peppers this year in our garden. I think we had something like 40 plants and each of those had a great crop of peppers. The way we usually prepare them is to fry them whole in a little olive oil and then sprinkle some salt on them right before you serve them. My husband found a quicker way to cook them for his sandwich. IMG_0609 He just pokes a couple of holes in them with a fork or a knife then puts them on a plate and microwaves or “nukes” them for a minute. He then cooks the Basque chorizo in the microwave for a few minutes then combines them on either a tortilla or some whole wheat bread. Next comes some Monterey pepper jack cheese that goes on top and then back in the microwave for a few seconds til it’s melted.


Chorizo and pepper

IMG_0619I think this cheese got a little too melted. But you get the general idea. It’s not gourmet, but it’s simple and very tasty.



French Pear Pie

Thanks everyone that has viewed my blog! I appreciate each and every one of you!

The Basque Wife

When I was first married I met a great group of women in a club called Patte Kake. Patte Kake was an auxillary of the Children’s Home Society of California.  I had known quite a few of the women in the group, some from childhood, but  a few of the others were new brides that had moved into the area.  We were all in our 20’s and 30’s and used to meet at a different members house every month.  We always had beverages and desserts, some fancier than others but always homemade.   Most of the women where either married to farmers or their spouse was connected in some way to agriculture.  Some of the women I met in this group are still my dearest friends and I love them like sisters.

One of the fundraisers we had for Patte Kake was a cookbook that was made up of recipes from…

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Basque Wine Cake

This cake is so simple, delicious and might I say, addicting.  Make sure you have plenty of people to eat this after you bake it, because if you don’t I can guarantee you will eat almost all of it yourself.  It’s kind of like when you make homemade bread and it’s hot out of the oven and before you know it half the loaf is gone with 1/2 a stick of butter! Not that has ever happened to me!  This cake freezes well and is a wonderful cake to take to a new neighbor or anytime you want to give someone something home baked.

Our Basque club makes this a lot for our food booths at the county fair and two other events.  It’s always a favorite with the customers.

  In the summer I like to serve it with sliced fresh freestone peaches and top the peaches with real whipped cream that has a touch of ground cinnamon.

Ingredients for Wine Cake
Ingredients for Wine Cake

Basque Wine Cake

1 package yellow cake mix with pudding in it
4 eggs
1 cup white wine
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients.  Pour into greased Bundt pan.  Bake 50 to 55 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven, turn out onto a plate and immediately pour glaze over hot cake.

1 ½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup white wine
dash of cinnamon

Mix well, adjusting sugar and wine amounts to get a heavy syrup.

You can use nutmeg instead of cinnamon.
You can also use spice cake mix or chocolate cake mix with red wine.  You can use red wine with the yellow cake mix, but it makes the cake a greenish color.


Finished cake.

IMG_4568Wrapped and unwrapped cakes for my husbands customer appreciation dinner.


Basque Chicken with sauce

I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off getting ready for the Gooding Basque clubs annual picnic this weekend.   There is so much shopping and organizing to do.  Good thing I love to do both of those things!  In fact, I will admit that I am a little OCD when it comes to organizing! I have had this post ready for a while and just got around to finishing it.

This is my go to chicken recipe for our Basque club.  I make it often for catered lunches and our first Friday dinners.  At a recent luncheon a young man was practically licking the plate, he had used bread to get every last drop of sauce! As a cook you know you people enjoy your food when the plates coming back to the kitchen have no food left to scrape off other than bones.  This is one of those recipes.


Brush oil in casserole dish and place chicken in casserole.  Sprinkle granulated garlic and kosher salt over the chicken thighs. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until almost cooked


Place sweet peppers, onions and garlic in saucepan.  Cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are nearly tender.

Add paprika and red pepper flakes. Cook and stir for 1 minute more.


Stir in tomatoes, broth, parsley and olives.  Bring to a boil.  Spoon mixture over chicken.  Put casserole, covered, into a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.20130717-001412.jpgEnjoy!

Basque Chicken with sauce

1 package Chicken thighs with skin

olive oil

granulated garlic

kosher salt

1 green and 1 red bell pepper cut into bite size pieces

1 onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp paprika

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, add more if needed

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 small can pitted sliced olives

snipped fresh parsley about a handful

Brush oil in casserole dish and place chicken in casserole.  Sprinkle granulated garlic and kosher salt over chicken thighs.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until almost cooked.

Place sweet peppers, onion and garlic in saucepan.  Cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are nearly tender.  Add paprika and red pepper flakes.  Cook and stir for 1 minute.

Stir in tomatoes, broth, parsley and olives.  Bring to boiling.  Spoon mixture over chicken.  Put chicken, covered into a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

First time for Merzula en salsa verde

A couple of weekends ago our Basque club had its annual Mus tournament.

This is the definition from Wikipedia for Mus:

Mus is a Basque card game, widely played in the Basque Country, and also in the rest of Spain and to a lesser extent in France. It is a vying game. The word Mus is believed to come from the French word mouche (“fly”), from Latin mussula.
In Spain it is the most played card game, spawning several Mus clubs or peñas and becoming a staple game among college students. It is not uncommon to hear the Basque terms, such as órdago (from Basque hor dago “there it is” used by Spanish speakers, often without them being aware of the literal meanings of the terms and phrases.
Basque emigrants carried the game to other countries such as the USA and Australia, where it is played in Basque clubs. Nowadays there is an international Mus tournament, in addition to many national and regional competitions.

There were about 8 teams of men competing in our tournament. There is always a lot of shouting, insulting and salty Basque language. It is traditional to serve them tripe and pigs feet for lunch. One of the other women in the club makes this dish and also flan for the men. My husband had 5 bowls of tripe and pigs feet! It’s his favorite dish of all time. I was in charge of making a fish dish, salad and another dessert. I made Merzula en Salsa Verde or Hake in Green Sauce and for dessert Gateau Basque. Surprisingly I had never made salsa verde before. I had found hake at of all places Costco! It was frozen, but in Idaho fresh fish isn’t that easy to come by and definitely not hake.

One side note…always taste the wine before you use it.  I was in a hurry and didn’t and had to make another batch of the sauce.  The wine was really bad!


2 1/4 pounds of hake fillets (if frozen make sure to thaw the fillets)


1/3 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup clam juice

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley


Finely chop 2 cloves garlic.


Add garlic to 1/3 cup olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Cook until garlic just begins to color, about 5 minutes


Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the garlic and mix thoroughly, 1 to 2 minutes.


Add 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of clam juice, 1/2 cup white wine, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and salt to taste. Decrease the heat to medium and cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thick, about 5 minutes. Add more cold water if you think the sauce is too thick.


Carefully clean, rinse and pat dry the hake.  Sprinkle the fillets lightly with salt.


Add the hake to the pan, in a single layer.  Cook the fillets in the sauce for 2 minutes, swirling the pan constantly and sliding the pan on and off the fire until the hake gives off some of their gelatin.   Flip the fillets once and cook until the fish is opaque, but not overcooked about 2 or 3 minutes on the other side.  The sauce should be a very light green and slightly thick, but still smooth and light.


Serve immediately.