All posts by caffeter

Wild Rice and Mushroom soup

A few years ago I found a recipe for Wild Mushroom Soup and it was so very good. So good, in fact, that I thought that I had found the holy grail of mushroom soups.

Continue reading Wild Rice and Mushroom soup


Good morning in November.

Good morning everyone.  You may have noticed that I haven’t posted consistently in a few years and that kind of bums me out.  I really enjoyed writing and cooking and taking pictures but it wasn’t very sustainable.  You see, I’ve operated on the platform that one should not post online content that isn’t their own and developing recipes is very time consuming work.  About two years ago my family started making some pretty dramatic changes to finally make the move back to Minnesota.  The biggest change was that we moved back in with my parents for seven months before I found a job and drove the moving truck north.  While my parents were lovely, it was still their house and I just couldn’t carry on writing and developing the way I had been.  I did get a few posts out, but October 2015 was the beginning of my drought.  After moving up north in April 2016, I started a new job that kept me away from home for 11 hours each day and I still had a household to manage and a family to love and feed.  That was my schedule until September when I quit my job.  I am looking for another job, but that doesn’t typically happen overnight so why not start writing again?

Like I said, developing recipes is time consuming work, and believe it or not, I’m not the best cook or recipe developer out there.  I spend so much time perusing recipes and food blogs that I just can’t fathom coming up with something new.  I could certainly insulate myself from the culinary world around me and cook in a bubble and just post whatever I want, but that seems pretty narcissistic.

So here’s what I’m thinking and this is VERY subject to change.  I’ll continue to live and cook and just share what I’m doing.  Some recipes will be complex, some will be simple, some will be mine and some will not, and some will not even be recipes.  For 18 months, I managed to keep my family alive with a stressful job and four waking hours at home each day.  I didn’t always have the energy to cook.  I did have the time — remember, I had four whole waking hours at home every single day — but my multi-tasking skills and energy didn’t often converge into a hot meal with the four of us sitting around the kitchen table.  Right now I have the time to do what I enjoy so I’m going to do this and I hope you enjoy it too!

From my little corner of the world, thanks for reading and happy eating.
Caffeter, the Milkmaid


One of the things I was really looking forward to when we moved to MN was the farm fresh produce available and the eventual garden of my own.
I got my first taste of this fresh bounty on a recent Friday night.  My grandma called to tell me that Sam’s Produce in Arkansaw, WI had strawberries ready for picking for the next few weeks.  Well, that Sunday was Father’s Day and the next weekend we were going to Southern MN for a birthday party so Saturday morning was the only option.  Continue reading Strawberries!

Hello again

Good morning to my family, friends, fans, followers, flunkies, farfegnugens, fishwives, falafels, etc… The past eight months have been very very busy which is my excuse for not keeping up.  You see, in the past eight months, I have moved twice, changed jobs, and changed climates.  I did manage to do one or two posts during this transition, but it was more than I could handle, and the whole thing quite frankly brought a formidable drought to the waters of culinary inspirarion.

This naturally begs the question, why?  Why, Cathy, did you move two times and change jobs and climates in the past eight months?  Well, all of my aforementioned f-words, we finally moved back to Minnesota. We had been away for almost eight years and my husband has wanted to come back since the day we left.  He finally got his wish.  He’s over the moon.  I’m happy too. We’d been in Phoenix for five years and I was ready for a new adventure.  This qualifies. I’m stoked!

I don’t have a recipe for you today, I’m afraid.  I’m still trying to put our new apartment together, I’m now away from the house 11 hours of each day instead of 8.5, and my job is no longer a cakewalk affording me the time and mental capacity to brainstorm/write at work. In short, I’ve got too much to do in not enough time. Luckily for you, I love writing this blog. My posts may be more infrequent than originally intended and may change in style too. Perhaps I’ll write a review from time to time and not just recipes. I now work downtown but live in the suburbs so while 30 – minute and crock pot meals have become my dearest friends, I now get to sample the bounty of the downtown Minneapolis food scene. I don’t know what I’ll share but share I shall. Feel free to send me out on foodie errands. If you happen to know of a place I should check out for lunch in downtown Minneapolis, let me know. I’ll find it, try it, and write about it. I once read about a sausage shop in Portland, Oregon that really intrigued me but have yet to get there to satisfy this hungry curiosity. Well, if you have such a place in Minnesota, tell me and I can scout it for you. Ooh, that sounds like fun…do it. Do it!

I think that’s all I have for you today, but I thank you for your patience with me and I hope you like the direction this blog may take. It’s all part of the adventure!

From my little corner of the world, thanks for reading and happy eating.
Caffeter, the Milkmaid

Calico Beans

After the mention that I had been cooking for my office in my last post, my sister suggested that I should make that the focus of a few posts.  You see, for about two months I was responsible for feeding 40+ people three times per week on a budget of about $130/meal.  That makes my catering options pizza, party subs, or nachos and after three weeks of rotating those two options, I never wanted to see another slice of pizza again.  So, I turned to my army of crock pots and a lone electric skillet and started cooking.  You see, I’m an executive assistant who works in a warehouse that doesn’t have a stove top much less a commercial kitchen.

My first crack at makeshift office cooking was Calico Beans.  Since the name lends as much insight into the nature of this dish as Potatoes Anna or Veal Prince Orloff, I will shed some light on this pretentious moniker.  Simply put, they’re sweet BBQ beans.

Growing up, Calico Beans were something my mom would occasionally contribute to church potlucks or other such get togethers but I never remember her serving it at our dinner table.   It had always sounded like some gross bean dish that was better suited for dogs than people so I never felt slighted that it was reserved for others; on the contrary, I felt lucky.  Then many many years later after I’d already embarked on the world of parenthood,  my coworker, Chris, brought Calico Beans in to share.  I was in awe; this was the dish I had been so proud to have avoided for my first 26 years?  I may have actually slapped my forehead and bowed in contrition over the folly of youth.  Chris was gracious enough to share her recipe with me and it has become a favorite among my family and a few of the folks at work asked the same favor of me.

Like most recipes, I used Chris’s as a jumping off point but have made only very minor modifications over the years.  I tried recently to substitute soaked beans for the canned ones.  It was a spectacular failure.  It probably had something to do with the age of my beans so I’m not going to let this failure discourage me, but I will wait to try again until I can afford the time to let a recipe fall flat on its face.  That time around it was supposed to be dinner.

One last comment for you regarding serving suggestions.  Serve it with something corny.  For years I made cornbread to go along with the beans, but in recent years I’ve switched to corn chips.  Part of this has been brought on by taste and some of it by the simple fact that I usually use crock pot meals for evenings when I know I won’t have time to prepare a proper meal and making cornbread, while not overly complicated, defeats that purpose.  (Now that I’m talking about it, I kind of want some corn bread, and ladies & gentlemen, I have a pretty yummy recipe.  But let’s not get distracted…its time will come.)

Calico BeansIngredients

3 15oz cans of beans (Use whatever variety you like)
½ lb bacon
1-1 ½ lbs ground turkey
1 can baked beans – 24oz
1 medium onion – chopped
⅓ cup brown sugar (or honey)
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 rounded tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup water

  • Dice the bacon (while still raw) and brown it up until it’s nice and crisp.  (For perfect bacon, low and slow is they key.  Don’t rush!!! Low and slow.)
  • Brown the turkey too.  
  • Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook for 5-7 hours on low.

From my little corner of the world, thanks for reading and happy eating.
Caffeter, the Milkmaid

Broccoli Salad

I served a fried chicken lunch at work after a hiring event last month and bought everything from the local grocery store including broccoli salad from the deli case to complement the chicken, potato salad, and rolls that came with the meal. It was no surprise to me the broccoli salad was an absolute hit, but I was shocked at how many people had never seen it before. After doing a little digging, I realized that this is a Midwest dish through and through and these Phoenix natives had never seen such a thing. Continue reading Broccoli Salad

Minted Cucumber Refresher

I was looking through my list of post ideas the other day and saw that note about the basil/lime cocktail that had escaped my memory last year. This time instead of racking my brain to resurrect the lost, I looked to it for inspiration. It then took only a few minutes to hit me. One of my favorite infused water recipes uses basil, mint, cucumber and lemon. Well, why not swap cucumber for cucumber vodka (which I already have in my cupboard) and make a simple syrup out of the rest and top it off with club soda? I just had to try it…

…Fast forward a week…

Minted Cucumber Refresher It took a bit of playing with the ratios, but I did come up with something that was cool and refreshing and a perfect complement to the 111 degree desert that was Phoenix yesterday.  Even my dad, who doesn’t like cucumbers, thought it was nice.  The basil presence was quite mild so I do recommend rimming the glass with the basil-sugar mixture outlined below.  I didn’t think of it until I was writing this up so I haven’t tried it.  Please feel free to leave me your thoughts.

Well, here we go The Minted Cucumber Refresher.

Basil/Mint Simple Syrup:

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup fresh basil – loosely packed
¼ cup fresh mint leaves – loosely packed


  • Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan and boil for 1 minute – be sure the sugar has dissolved.
  • Remove saucepan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, basil, and mint.  Cover the saucepan and allow to steep until cooled.
  • Strain syrup into a sealable container and refrigerate until ready to use.

1 ½  oz cucumber vodka
1 ½ oz basil/mint simple syrup
¾-1 cup club soda


  • Optional:
    • Before filling the glass, mix equal parts of minced basil leaves and granulated sugar.
    • Pour the sugar mixture onto a plate or wide-enough-for-the-rim-of-your-glass bowl.
    • Rub the rim of the glass with lemon juice then coat with the basil sugar mixture by inverting the glass into the plate/bowl of basil sugar.  Continue making the cocktail as directed.
  • Mix vodka and syrup in a highball glass along with a few ice cubes.  Then top off the glass with club soda and stir gently.  Enjoy.

From my little corner of the world, thanks for reading and happy eating.
Caffeter, the Milkmaid

Cucumber & Sausage Stacks

Those that know me well know that I am pretty mindful of what and how much I eat. This isn’t a statement about strict clean eating, but rather an approach that was summed up beautifully by my oldest daughter’s kindergarten teacher when they were learning about healthy foods and “sometimes” foods. I love food, I always have; I also love that I weigh less now than I did in high school and that since graduating from high school my weight has fluctuated by less than 15 pounds. I attribute this phenomenon to eating healthfully, but not denying myself those “sometimes” foods sometimes. Unfortunately after an overindulgent spring followed by a vacationing summer, I’m finding myself at the high end of that 15 and I need to snap things back into control.

“Ok, fine,” you say. “What does that have to do with me?” Somewhere along the way, I started attributing recipes worthy of sharing with complicated food. But here’s the thing: I love simple foods! One of my favorite “sometimes” foods is a flour tortilla topped with cheddar cheese and red pepper flakes and then baked until the tortilla gets crispy. But why would I dedicate an entire post to such a dish, or for my breakfast smoothies or yogurt parfaits or anything else equally simple?

I guess the answer is, “why not?” Plus, in case anyone is curious about my everyday foods, I should probably share some. So here I go, with a recent addition to my snacking/lunching arsenal discovered while trying to not make a special stop for lunch on our 18-hours-in-one-day drive from Las Vegas, NM to Blue Earth, MN.

Cucumber & Sausage StacksCucumber & Sausage Stacks

I’m going to give you the loose guidelines for making one and you can ramp it up for the quantity you’re seeking.


1 cucumber medallion
1 small piece summer sausage
1 thin sliver of tomato wedge
1 very small piece of roasted red pepper


  • Stack ingredients & enjoy!


From my little corner of the world, thanks for reading and happy eating.
Caffeter, the Milkmaid

Toasted Butter Pecan Cake

Some of you may have noticed a bit of radio silence these last few weeks. I apologize for the break but my family and I were taking a much needed vacation.  Now I am back, feeling recharged, and ready to cook.

Today, as I write, it’s my dad’s 65th birthday so naturally, he must have a cake; but what cake?   This isn’t a question that has ever been asked because he’s had this same cake every year for the last 65:  The Toasted Butter Pecan Cake.   Continue reading Toasted Butter Pecan Cake

Caramel Coffee Creamer

Caramel Coffee CreamerMy husband is a lover of coffee and along with this love comes a love of coffee creamer.  I was never thrilled about buying coffee creamer since it would probably be better for him to just melt down a straw, but I hadn’t really thought much about an alternative until three years ago when I began making him flavored syrups.  It worked out well, but I knew it was simply the poor man’s creamer.  Then a few months ago I found a recipe on Pinterest for French vanilla coffee creamer.  I tried it and it was good – not fantastic, just good – but it did get my mind percolating.  I started making cinnamon amaretto creamer, vanilla creamer, hazelnut creamer, and even cardamom creamer.  I fear no spice. Continue reading Caramel Coffee Creamer