Starting a new career at 60 years young!

I have been neglecting my Basque wife blog for sometime.  Let me share with you the reason why.   Along with the volunteer cooking I do for the Basque club I belong to I am now employed as a freelance writer!  Never in my wildest dreams would I have imaged starting a new career in my 60’s!   In the spring I was approached by an energetic young woman that I have know since the day she was born, to leave my comfort zone and embark on a new adventure.  Ali, along with my children, Julie and Martin, had been encouraging me to start a blog where I could share my recipes, thus was born The Basque Wife.    Ali owns Ali Cox & Company and her business is branding and marketing.  She asked if I would join the team for the California Dry Bean Advisory Board to write a blog promoting California dry beans. Being a little apprehensive, as I hadn’t really thought of myself as a writer, I put my fear aside and met the challenge.  As a bean farmers daughter I thought I knew a lot about beans, but I am learning more everyday.    I am still cooking, just using more beans and posting those recipes on the website.  I am also doing a lot of crafting using beans.   When I have a little more time I will post some recipes here on my blog.  I had every intention of posting a cookie recipe for Christmas, but the holidays seemed to fly by so quickly!  I would appreciate it however if you would follow the following social media for California Dry Bean Advisory Board.  And please check out the recipes on and share them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Thank you!!!

Instagram:  @californiabeans

Facebook: California Beans

Twitter: @californiabeans

Pinterest: californiabeans

Tasty Pintxos, Pinchos, or Tapas, whatever you want to call them.

 Three years ago our family was in the Basque Country (Euskadi) courtesy of my mother-in-law. We had a great time visiting the villages her parents were from and seeing the beautiful countryside and cities. The food we ate was spectacular!  We stayed at the Hotel Bolina in Gernika. When we left after 10 days it was like leaving family. A simple breakfast of cafe con leche and a croissant was something I looked forward to every morning. Dinner of fresh fish caught that morning cooked perfectly and simply along with ensalada mixta and cheese for dessert. Pintxos lined up on the bar where you get a plate and choose a few pintxos to eat and pay the bartender based on how many toothpicks are on your plate.  The variety of pintxos was mind boggling.

A pintxo (pincho) is a snack, but you can make it into a meal.  It is typically eaten in bars and is especially popular in Euskadi, where they are regarded as a cornerstone of local culture and society. They are related to tapas, the traditional Spanish snack, but the main difference is pintxos are usually “spiked” with a skewer or toothpick, often to a piece of bread. They are served in individual portions and always ordered and paid for independently from the drinks.

photoCafe con leche, croissant and freshly squeezed orange juice at the Hotel Bolina.

IMG_2159Ensalada mixta at Hotel Bolina in Gernika.

photo (6)Pintxos at a bar in San Sebastian (Donostia). Donostia is the Basque name for San Sebastian.

When you travel to Euskadi, pintxos are probably as close as you can come to “fast food.” You can have a fast, relatively cheap meal made with fresh ingredients.

As you can see, the bar is loaded with pintxos … all different and all delicious!

IMG_1848Donostia, Parte Viejo

It has been a month since my daughter and son-in-law had their pintxo party. My daughter and son-in-law love to cook, so a tapas party was right up their alley. The recipes came from different sources: cookbooks and a new app I got for my iPad that shows step-by-step instructions and a picture of the finished dish. The app is The Photo Cookbook-Tapas. I think it costs $3.99, but I think it’s worth the money. There is also a wonderful book, Tapas of San Sebastian by Pedro Martin. The forward was written by Juan Mari Arzak, considered one of the great masters of the New Basque Cuisine.  There are over 500 tapas recipes from 150 chefs from the bars and restaurants in San Sebastian. The instructions don’t give the amount for the ingredients. You have to do some guess work, but the photos of the food are phenomenal and it gives you an idea of what is available at the establishments in San Sebastian.



I’m not including all the recipes for the party. In the photo you will see there is asparagus, and that was served with an aioli sauce. There was also chorizo, shrimp and basil on small skewers, salted almonds, plates with assorted cheese and meats and a bacalao dish. Everything was delicious!

IMG_3853Braised onions with goat cheese

Saute 1 red onion with salt and pepper until translucent.

Add 3/4 cup creme de Cassis and 1/4 cup red wine vinegar to the onions.

.  Cook for about 4 minutes until onions are shiny.

Stir in 1 Tbsp granulated sugar and cook for one minute, then remove from heat. Set aside.

Slice baguette and goat cheese.  Add slice of goat cheese, then top with the braised onions and a little fresh thyme.

IMG_0058Seafood salad

As soon as we ate this seafood salad, we all said that it tasted just like the pintxos we had in Donostia!

Put a heaping 1/2 cup small shrimp and a heaping 1/2 cup white crabmeat into a bowl and stir together.

Add 1 celery stick, finely chopped, 1 small red onion, very finely chopped, 6 Tbsp. mayonnaise, and lemon juice to taste.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir in 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley. Slice 16- 20 slices from a baguette. Mound the mixture on the bread slices.

IMG_0057Spanish tortilla

Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a 10 inch frying pan over high heat.  Reduce the heat, then add about 1 pound of baking potatoes that have been peeled and thinly sliced and 1 large onion chopped and cook for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and onions through a colander, reserving the oil.  Beat 6 large eggs in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Very gently stir the potatoes and onions into the eggs. Add 4 Tbsp of the reserved oil to the frying pan and heat over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and smooth the surface with a spatula, pressing the potatoes and onions into and even layer. Cook until the base is set shaking the pan occasionally. Use a spatula to loosen the side and bottom of the tortilla. Place a plate that is as large as the frying pan over the top and invert the tortilla onto the plate.  (I find that this step is best done over the sink, just in case!) Gently slide the tortilla cooked side up back into the frying pan. Continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes or until the eggs are set and the base is golden.

IMG_3847Prosciutto wraps

Wrap watercress and pecorino Toscano (or any hard cheese) in a slice of prosciutto. Place on serving plate.  Grind fresh cracked pepper on top.  Make a vinaigrette with freshly chopped chives, mustard seed, lemon juice and olive oil. Drizzle on top of the wrapped prosciutto.


Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Goodness

My husbands  amuma (grandmother) used to make oatmeal cookies with dried apricots that the family sun-dried themselves from their orchard.  The best ones to dry are the ones that are over ripe…they aren’t pretty like the ones you see in the store, but they are a lot sweeter.  His amuma used to cut them in little pieces the size of raisins. We have a friend that his families business  makes the most delicious dried fruit and they have a product called Bakers Fruit Medley  The medley is a blend of sun-dried pear, peaches, nectarines, apricots, golden and dark raisins and dried cranberries.  The pears, peaches, nectarines and apricots are cut into the size like amuma used to do with the apricots.  The Traina family are the growers, dryers and processors of the fruit.  Not only is it great in oatmeal cookies, I also use it in oatmeal for breakfast and in granola.

For the oatmeal I prefer is Snoqualmie Falls Lodge Oatmeal from Seattle, Washington.  Their website is  I like the consistency and the texture of the oatmeal.  You can use any brand you prefer.


1 cup (2 sticks),butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups oatmeal (NOT quick oats)

1 cup fruit medley or 1 cup raisins


Snoqualmie Oatmeal IMG_3713

I keep a slice of bread in with my brown sugar to keep it soft. I change it out every so often as it gets hard.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla on low-speed til smooth.IMG_3716

Mix together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside about 1/4 cup and stir in the rest with the creamed mixture.IMG_3717

Mix together the oatmeal and the dried fruit. IMG_3718

Add the reserved 1/4 cup of flour mixture to the oatmeal and dried fruit.  This keeps the fruit from clumping together when you mix it in.

Add oatmeal and dried fruit mixture to the creamed mixture and continue to stir until blended.


I use an ice cream scoop to drop the cookie dough onto an ungreased baking sheet.  If you don’t have an ice cream scoop use a tablespoon.


Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Makes approximately 4 1/2 dozen cookies.IMG_3730

Grab a glass of cold milk and enjoy the cookies!

Comfort Food

I found this recipe years ago in  Sunset magazine.  The original name of the stew is Son-of-a-son-of-a-bitch stew.  I believe it was from a dude ranch in the west.  I have adjusted it a little bit…it had cabbage and something else I can’t remember in it before.  Years ago when my son was doing lineman work in Wyoming and the crew was gone for 8 days at a time I would make this and freeze it for my son and some of the crew to heat up in a microwave at their hotel.  It is definitely comfort food.  This with a nice slice of artisan bread is a great meal.  Your kitchen will smell wonderful when you make it!  I have shared this recipe with friends over the years and a young friend said I should put this on the blog…thanks Ali!

Son of a Gun Stew

3 pounds boneless beef stew meat with the fat trimmed (I bought a chuck steak and made my own stew meat)

2 large onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1/3 cup dry red wine

1/3 cup all purpose flour

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 tsp. dried thyme leaves

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 quart beef broth

1 can beer (I use  Bud Light, but use whatever you want. The more full bodied the beer the stronger the taste.)

4 large carrots, sliced

1 cup celery coarsely chopped

2 dried bay leaves

2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut in cubes


In a 6-8 quart pan or Dutch oven, combine beef, onions, garlic and Worcestershire. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 30 minutes.  Uncover and stir often until liquid evaporates and its residue turns dark brown.  Add wine and stir to release browned bits.


Smoothly mix flour, sugar, thyme and pepper.


Mix in 1 cup of beef broth until smooth.  Add to beef along with remaining broth.


Add beer, carrots, potatoes, celery and bay leaves. Adjust heat to maintain a simmer.  Cover and simmer until meat is very tender when pierced and carrots and potatoes are done, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Season to taste with salt.


Serves 4-6 people

Basque Salad Dressing

The Woolgrower Hotel in Los Banos, California is a family style Basque Restaurant. You will be seated at red checkered oil cloth covered tables with other diners. This time of year at lunch there will be men in camouflage that have been duck hunting in the nearby duck club. It is a place that we try to go to when we are visiting family in the Central Valley in California. You have your choice of entrees: pork chops, roast lamb, roasted chicken, steak, lamb chops, etc. It varies slightly especially if they run out of a popular item. There is always a lot of food and it comes out from the kitchen fast…so pace yourself if you happen to go there. First course is homemade vegetable soup, bread and beans, next comes lettuce salad with the most fabulous dressing ever. Then lamb stew and sometimes potato salad. Your entree follows along with french fries. There are bottles of house wine included with your meal. Dessert is dry Jack cheese and ice cream in a plastic cup. Please don’t ask for mint jelly if you go…this is a Basque restaurant. Also, you can ask the server for a plastic bag to take home your leftover entree. I have yet gone and not taken home half of my entree. Another note…they only take cash…no credit cards or checks. I checked the reviews on Yelp and some people complained about the ambiance. This isn’t a fancy restaurant this is a family style restaurant with good simple food at a reasonable price ($20+ tip). If you leave there hungry it is your own fault.

My husband and I have tried to copy the salad dressing that they serve with the lettuce. Through trial and error we came up with something similar…but not quite. I have had friends tell me that it tastes just like it, but I think it tastes “almost” like it.

Here is our recipe…

Basque Salad Dressing
1 1/3 cup cider vinegar
4 large cloves garlic, finely minced or double pressed
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 cups canola oil
2 cups Best Foods mayonnaise
pinch of black pepper


In a bowl that will allow easy whisking, add garlic to the vinegar. Whisk vigorously. Let sit a few minutes.

Whisk in salt, sugar, dry mustard and dash of pepper to vinegar in bowl. Blend ingredients.


Vigorously whisk in oil and then add mayonnaise. 20130220-205004.jpg

Here is the finished product. It will keep for a month in the refrigerator. Just shake it before use as it separates.

World Series Game 2

Last night I was thrilled to be asked by my younger brother to go with him to Game 2 of the World Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco.  It was an awesome game with the Giants beating the Tigers 2-0.  The air was filled with the aroma of the food at the concession stands at the park.  AT&T Park has some of the best ballpark food.  Their lamb sausage is wonderful, smothered in peppers and onions.  (But I have to say that my brothers homemade lamb sausage is more flavorful.) The garlic fries are to die for with salt, parsley and minced garlic. The aroma of the cinnamon sugared walnuts roasting is mouth watering and they taste as great as they smell.  I partook in the lamb sausage and the garlic fries on Monday night when I was with my older brother at Game 7 of the pennant race.  He is more into the ballpark food than my younger brother.  He also likes to park the car in the more expensive garage across the street from the park.  My younger brother parks in the cheaper outdoor lots and walks about 5 blocks to the park.  Along the way he stops at a deli and gets these fantastic turkey sandwiches which we take in a cooler tote with drinks we brought from home.

This was only my 7th Giants game in my lifetime.  I am almost 60 years old.  My Dad had season tickets ever since the Giants moved from New York and my brothers have continued on with the tradition.  I live in Idaho and go down to California often during the year to visit.  It just happened that it was perfect timing that I was here for the playoffs and the Series.  My brothers sold their tickets to the first game of the series and were supposed to go together yesterday, but the eldest wasn’t feeling well so he was kind enough to give me the ticket.  My friends jokingly asked if I had poisoned him… but he had a really bad cold.  I had hinted around enough about maybe that this was my one chance to go to a Series game in my lifetime, subtly of course, and they took pity on their only sister!

It was the thrill of a lifetime and I will never forget it!

Here goes nothing…

I have been encouraged by my children and also some friends to start a blog.  I have no idea what I am doing, but here goes nothing.

I am married to a man who’s grandparents came to America from the Basque Country.  My grandparents came from the Azores Islands and from Spain. The Spanish side most likely has Basque in there somewhere along the line.  We are very involved in a Basque club in Idaho and I cook for the dinners that we serve at the club.  I am a cook, not a chef.  My recipes come from all over.  As this blog progresses I will attempt to share my recipes.  Looking forward to this new experience.