Category Archives: Recipe

Purple Plum Torte…

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Real Plum quotemy mother was a great cook and a wonderful baker and this time of year when plums are readily available I pine for her wonderful Zwetschgen-kuchen …

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz making a plum torte

so when I came upon this really easy plum torte recipe I just had to give it a whirl…

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Purple Plum Torte making

the hardest part was waiting overnight to cut into the cake as recommended in the recipe …

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Yummy Plum Torte

we will definitely be enjoying this again and will look forward to making it during plum season…

Magpie's Nest Potomac Vegetable Farms as we like eating what is available and locally grown as much as possible…

Magpie's Nest Plum Torte

what a delicious treat that was well worth waiting for…

Magpie's Nest Coffee Plum Pits

it tasted really yummy with a nice cup of coffee sitting out in the morning sun on our back porch…

Magpie's Nest Patty Szymkowicz Purple Plum Torte Yum

wishing you a Happy T Day… 

US Food Administration 1917

along with everyone over at Elizabeth’s Altered Book Lover

spice of life …

Chai or Yogi Tea as it is also known is delicious and beneficial any time of year but I find it especially pleasant on a chilly winter’s day…

Steaming Hot Yogi Tea

the fragrance in the house after simmering the spices is an added bonus…

and speaking of spices…

many years before I started drinking yogi tea I created necklaces by threading whole star anise, allspice, cloves, white cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon onto strings of dental floss …

Spice Necklace T Collage

the secret of stringing most of the spices is to soak them in warm water for about 12 hours making it easier for the needle to go through them and using a small drill to make holes in the nutmeg and cinnamon sticks…

with thanks to my Mr Magpie…

keeping the necklace in a covered jar when it is not being worn has helped retain the lovely fragrance over time

Spice Necklace Jar

the pretty painted daisy lid in the photo above was bought at a craft fair years and years ago

artist of daisy painted lidif you would like to make yourself some Yogi Tea you can visit my 2008 blog post here for the recipe

Maple Syrup Bear

  Maple Syrup Bear and I wish you a Happy Day oxo


Berry Pickin Tea…

Judy’s round robin traveling teacup began its journey back in May of this year leaving Mississippi … first stop Minnesota … on to Louisiana … next stop Nebraska … then heading west to Washington state … back east to Virginia … on to Tennessee … back to Washington state and arriving here in Virginia again … quite a trip…

Mr Magpie and I headed out the other day with the tea cup tucked safely in bubble wrap…

our original mission was to pick up home grown tomatoes to go with some fresh mozzarella we had waiting at home…

when we saw the pick your own blackberry sign at a favorite roadside garden stand …

well you can guess what happened…

that pretty tea cup filled up in no time…

Potomac Vegetable Farms has been supplying the community with fresh dynamic produce … flowers and more with no sprays for many many years now…

all natural…wholesome and delicious…

I made a nice caprese salad with a little fresh snipped basil from our garden…

a drizzle of balsamic vinegar made the perfect dressing

for dessert I made a peach blackberry crisp that we served warm over a little vanilla ice cream…

thanks to Big Huge Labs for the free mosaic making…

very soon the traveling tea cup will be making its way back home to Judy in Mississippi…

glad you stopped by today…

be sure and join Kimmie for more T Tuesday links

“keeping it real, keeping it local” ~Potomac Vegetable Farms

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also wanted to point you in the direction of the very talented and generous Linda in Norway…she is having a super giveaway that you will not want to miss…


if you’re looking for a new and exciting online class…check out Carole’s latest class offering here…it looks REALLY wonderful

Tangerine Tea

actually Mr Magpie would say…clementine

he creates these lovely swirlies by peeling them from the fruit in one piece…

I discovered the secret…how you begin is the important part…it took a little doing…

with the help of a weight and heat from something like a woodstove or patience over time…you can get them to dry nice and flat…notice the one on the left which was not weighted down…

the life swoosh

is a shape I am drawn to

again and again…

tea today is my favorite home made yogi chai tea

tea and oranges…fun to play with your food…

Happy T Tuesday…Kimmie will be around for tea soon…she is on west coast time which is about three hours behind us here on the east coast…

messy Tea

life is messy sometimes…there is no getting around it…many years ago a young couple across the street was given  a nice sized tree as a house warming gift…

they proudly planted it in their front yard anticipating the shade it would provide in the years to come…the tree grew and grew way past the second story of their house…

the couple divorced and moved away…

not long after the new owners moved in the tree had matured enough to start making pods

curvy brown pods… some almost a foot long….lots of them every autumn…you don’t even know they are there until the leaves fall..

the present owner is contemplating chopping the tree down…

I am a huge fan of trees…and marvel at them every day…but I must confess I’ve had my moments of not Loving this particular tree…the wind blows the rattly pods into our yard and all down the gutters edge…

we sweep and rake them again and again each autumn filling several large bags before they finally all fall down…

the neighbor has his work cut out for him…with LOTS more than that to deal with…I have tried to see the beauty in them…

they are a nice shape…I fondly call them “poop pods”…oh my…who said that…not sure if the tree is some sort of Locust…

it took a rest last year and there were no pods…we were all overjoyed…so maybe it deserves a chance if it is only going to be a pain every other year from now on…

as I was raking a bunch yesterday I had the idea that they might look nice sprayed gold…we could add them to the greens we put outside for the holidays…I couldn’t find the gold paint…

this red is not really doing it for me…

not a big fan of spray paint anyway…this can is probably ten years old at least…I tried to find some redeeming quality but off to the city compost heap they will go…

happy last T Tuesday in November…I am enjoying a cup of homemade Yogi tea with the rain gently falling outside…trying to find my *twinkle*

won’t you join us for tea over at Kimmie’s…there are more bloggers that join in…you don’t even need to drink tea 😉

“Optimism is a kind of heart stimulant – the digitalis of failure” ~Elbert Hubbard

Sparkle Tea Tuesday

today I am enjoying a cup of hazelnut coffee in my Sparkle mug … soy hazelnut creamer too … ummm Love hazelnut everything!

(the red Waechtersbach platter is from my friend Michelle … the snowman on the windowsill is made of wool by my friend Judy Post … the green foil wrapped goodie is a flimmersterne (two half rounds of foil wrapped chocolate around a wonderful golden frill … you can get a better look by clicking for the closeup…lots of gorgeous snow still outside the kitchen window too)

and what about those mice …  I wanted to share a special cookie recipe with you … a tradition in our family since the late 80’s when I first spotted the recipe in the pull out cookie section of a Woman’s Day Magazine (1986) … young and old seem to be delighted by these tasty Almond Cookie Mice … always a big hit in the children’s classrooms

cute with a cheese platter (here is a piece of  Mt Tam triple cream cheese topped with fruits, nuts and fig jam … ummm) the mouse cookies liven up any cookie tray assortment as well … they take a little extra time to make, but are so worth it

Recipe Note: I used to use currents for the eyes instead of cut up raisins … now I use mini chocolate bits (pointy side in)

Happy T Tuesday … do join Kimmie for a cuppa whatever you like

feel free to join in the fun … create a post on Tuesdays (no rules just right) … come and play … the more the merrier

fa la la la la … la la la laaaa

must share a footnote with you … the cookie mice in my photos are from last year (not for eating just for looks) …. I made a double batch last year and sometimes they are just too cute to eat … amazing that they still look as good as new tucked away in a tin all year, guess there is enough sugar in them to preserve them 😉

Almond Cookie Mice

1 Cup Butter or Margarine, at room temperature
1 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Large Egg
2 teaspoons Almond Extract
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
Peanut Halves
Coarsely Chopped Raisins
Red Licorice Laces, cut in 3-inch lengths INSTRUCTIONS:

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Gradually beat in flour until blended. Dough will be stiff. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until well chilled.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Shape rounded tablespoonful of dough into 1 1/4-inch ball. Taper each ball at one end into a teardrop shape; press one side flat. Place flat sides down 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press in sides of balls to raise backs of mice . (They spread slightly as they bake.) With a wooden pick make a 1-inch deep hole at tail end (round end). Gently push 2 peanut halves in each for ears and 2 pieces of raisins for eyes.

Bake 9 to 12 minutes until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to rack; insert licorice tails; cool completely

“Not a mouse stirring” ~William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

tea and golden beets and grateful hearts

beets you say 🙂 … golden beets are delicious and do not have the same kind of staining juice as red beets … plus they are so good for you (you can saute the greens for another dish)

“beets are an excellent source of the B vitamin, folate, and a very good source of manganese and potassium … beets are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus”

Mr Magpie spotted a tasty recipe for beet salad while waiting in the chiropractor’s office (it’s not often that he brings recipes home, he must have been hungry) …  we tried it and it turned out so well … just had to share … here is what he jotted down … my notes in italics:

4 medium golden beets unpeeled w/1″ stem
2 medium valencia oranges (navel oranges work, blood oranges would be pretty)
1 medium red onion cut in 1/2 sliced ribs, separated (sweet yellow is good too, wasn’t sure about adding onion but it was tasty)
3 oz feta cheese (our first salad did not have cheese and was still good)
12 pecan/walnut halves, chopped (I toasted pecans in a dry cast iron skillet)
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T good red wine vinegar (we used Balsamic and shook the two in a covered jar and drizzled it over the salad on the serving plate)
sea salt/pepper if desired

Bring salt water to slight boil, add washed beets and cook, covered on high boil 20-40 minutes
until fork tender
Drain, remove skins when cool
cut beets medium thick slices
remove skin and pith from oranges
Arrange orange slices and beets on a plate
Add feta cheese crumbles
Sprinkle with oil and vinegar along with other toppings of your choice

not only was it delicious … but so pretty to look at too (one golden beet was sliced on each plate)

I added a few fresh raspberries along with some pomegranate seeds which gave great bursts of goodness in each bite

easy to make … the beets can be cooked ahead … cooled, peeled (the beet jackets slip off easily by cutting off the stems and gently rubbing the outside skin off) the beets and pomegranate seeds store nicely in separate containers in the fridge for a repeat salad the next day…

tea today is my all time favorite homemade Yogi Tea

the little tree is one I made oodles of some years ago and just happen to have one for left for us … decorated with applesauce spice ornaments which are a petite one inch tall (2,54 cm)

the little three inch angel (7,62 cm) is a soft sculpture creation that my Mutti used to make lots of (no two alike, she is the master of mini playful creations like dolls, bears, rabbits and so on)… now she’s busy gallivanting off on another cruise … nothing lasts forever

this wonderful stuffed matchbox is from Nathalie, my second swap partner (thanks again Pat, who will be having another stuffed matchbox swap in the new year) … Nathalie turned it into an ornament with a ribbon hanger … you can visit her here to find out a little more about it … like what that great golden burst is on the front

be sure and click the photo above to see a closeup of all of the lovely treasures tucked inside (sorry for the glare)

I have recently been showered with so many lovely  gifts and greetings … absolutely amazing thoughtfulness and generosity AND creativity …  I am finding it difficult expressing  just how grateful I am for so many special connections here … thank you all from the bottom of my heart … you know who you are OXOXOXO

for more T Tuesday posts you can visit Kimmie at her Art in Red Wagons

that certain something


My red lentil soup was one of the first things I thought to bring along with me for our son who is a junior at Virginia Tech.   It’s about a four hour car ride from home.  He has the flu and was feeling poorly … I am grateful that I could make the drive and spend time with him.

I thought I would share this recipe with you while I am away playing nurse

I have been making this soup since the 80’s and it is always a hit

Magpie’s Nest RED LENTIL SOUP *2009*

1/8 cup oil

1/2 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup green (or red or yellow) pepper chopped

1 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 Tablespoon flour

one 14.5 oz can diced tomato or fresh chopped tomato  if you prefer

4 cups boiling water

one cup lentils, rinsed (see below)**

crushed garlic to taste, one large vegetable bouillion cube (more salt later if you think you need it)


Seasonings: chopped parsley (fresh or dried), bay leaf (Lennie that’s your fresh one from your garden in the pot), marjoram (possibly my favorite spice, the fragrance is gorgeous), thyme (is a close second), ground pepper to taste and 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice (it adds that certain something!)


In a 4 quart soup pot saute all of the chopped veggies in the heated oil until they glisten and cook a bit … sprinkle flour into the mix and stir adding the can of diced tomatoes with liquid along with 4 cups boiling (or very hot) water

**rinse your lentils in a mesh colander and stir immediately into the liquid … if left in the colander they turn into a brick … ask me how I know ;)**

stirring on and off and simmering on low heat for close to an hour (or until everything is tender)  … I do use a lid …

back in the early 80’s I made soups for a health food cafe and delicious healthy sandwiches too …. our son, Alex, was a baby and I carried him on my back and delivered sandwiches  in our 1970 Beetle Bug to six different health food stores and cafes …. those were the days 🙂

back to the recipe …. I like adding the spices toward the end … play with the amounts … I put some in the palm of my hand and crush it a bit … season … stir … taste … Enjoy * Enjoy!!!

the recipe doubles well (which is what I did for the photo of the 8 quart soup pot above) and the soup reheats beautifully too!

here is a little something I’ve learned along the way … it goes for photographs AND recipes … be sure to add a date …years and years later it’s fun to know the year and origin of a recipe or when a photo was taken  … I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll remember and then before I know it years have passed and I’m left scratching my head wondering when I got the recipe … I am often amazed when I see how long I’ve been using a tried and true recipe

one of our favorite sayings was taken from a tea towel many years ago … we think it’s Amish … it certainly fits many occasions:

“Too soon old …. too late schmart”

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I am happy to say our son is feeling much better already 🙂

treats to savor

my new shopping bag … isn’t it wonderful … crocheted out of  Plarn (recycled plastic bags made into yarn) … by Tina Barnard (who just happens to be Misty Mawn’s Mom)

MistysMomsBagthe young man at the checkout admired my bag and was so tickled when he realized it used to be plastic bags … really pretty mermaid green plastic bags

you can double click for a closer look at the lovely stitches, it’s  sturdy and holds quite a lot!

see the Ciabatta sticking out the top … fantastic and tempting crust meant to eat the same day you buy it

best ingredients

basil just picked from the garden … olive oil …  crushed garlic and some freshly ground lemon pepper

dipping oil

I tasted this combo at Trader Joes and had to come home and make some

even though it’s called dipping oil, it’s meant to spoon onto your bread so you get some basil and garlic along with the olive oil

honey spoon thought you might like to see the neat spoon close up,  Pat from Ooglebloops ordered the honey spoons for us after we had tea at Mrs Hardesty’s last year … it works nicely with drippy oil too

“As we become curators of our own contentment on the Simple Abundance path…we learn to savor the small with a grateful heart” ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

little things really DO mean a lot!

Tea Tuesday: Hanging on to Summer

*Hello September*


hard sometimes letting go


one summer I noticed I hardly ate any watermelon

swan candleholdernow in this fast and easy life we live you can get pretty much any produce year round, including watermelon….but for me it’s not quite the same as knowing it came from a not so far away melon patch…plucked at just the right time (not to mention the price is right too)…..this summer I certainly have enjoyed a lot of delicious watermelon

DSC05253holding still to enjoy a cup of tea, even though having it with watermelon did seem a little odd :)…..a nice way to slow down and think about what I might let go of…..what I want to hold on to

here is a tasty and simple dish to make with watermelon that Lennie first told me about

watermelon feta mint salad

my initial reaction was “no way”…watermelon is perfect just as it is

almost a year later I decided to give it a try….it’s very tasty and gets better as it sits

the feta brings out the sweetness in the watermelon and the mint gives a delicate aroma to it all….just three simple ingredients


what are the things called where you push the button on the bottom and figures on top wriggle and flop?  the one in the photo (on the left) has been around for a long time, it makes me smile

do pop in on Kimmie, Pat, Christen … all are welcome to join in

Just Peachy Tea Tuesday

…fresh juicy summer peaches…

thanks to my Tante Resi for sharing her Peach Cobbler recipe with us some years ago


here it is, if you would like to give it a try



5 cups peeled and sliced peaches (about 3 lbs.)

½ cup sugar (adjust if you like)

2 Tablespoons flour

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon almond extract

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup water

2 Tablespoons butter or margarine


½ cup unsifted all purpose flour

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg slightly beaten

1. Make Filling: In medium bowl, combine peaches, ½ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, lemon juice, vanilla and almond extracts, cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ cup water.  Turn into 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking dish.  Dot with 2 Tablespoons butter.


2. Preaheat oven to 375F.

3. Make Batter: In medium bowl, combine all batter ingredients; beat with wooden spoon until smooth.  Drop in 9 portions over filling, spacing evenly.  (Batter will spread during baking).


4.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until peaches are tender and crust is golden.  Serve warm, with whipped cream or your favorite ice cream.

3Makes 9 servings


You can subsitute 2 cans (equaling 1 lb, 14-oz size) sliced peaches, drained, reserving ¼ cup syrup to use instead of water in step 1, but it’s not quite the same…..for one thing,  your hands aren’t dripping with fragrant peach juice


sorry measurements are not in metric for my international friends

be sure to visit Kimmie for more Tea Tuesday stops

Kimmie’s Tea Party Tuesday

Kimmie from Art in Red Wagons has an inspired idea for Tuesdays

Here is what she has to say: ” make yourself a cuppa (tea or coffee), post a picture of it on your blog with a little something to say about your day, and then link back here in the comments. We’ll all make the rounds to see what’s up with our blogging buddies and take a pause for some friendship over a hot cuppa …. sound like fun?”

homemade Yogi  Tea in this pretty English Bone China cup, Lily of the Valley, known for its delightful fragrance, is the flower of the month of May

the cup used to belong to my sweet mother in law, Lona

she had an extensive collection,  several shelves stacked high in her china closet, a special tea cup was the perfect gift for most occasions for her for many years


won’t you join Tea on Tuesdays at Art in Red Wagons

“Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn’t try it on” ~Billy Connolly

Peace in the Madness

Good friends, Judy and Richard, decorate their home for Christmas like you would not believe……I have tried to capture it in photos over the years, but it’s just not possible to really do it justice.


Judy named her December girls brunch, “Peace in the Madness”……a perfect description and definitely something we all look forward to each year.


As you step in the door you are surrounded by holiday cheer……more Santas  and snowmen than you can shake a stick at!


Every corner of their home is decorated SO beautifully!   I needed to come a week earlier to get in the Christmas spirit because this certainly did the trick.


A gathering of special friends that leaves you feeling like your battery is recharged, wonderful treats and lots of laughs!

Our get together today really put me in the holiday spirit.  I made my first batch of cookies.  Thanks to Jean at Bluebirds Living in the Meadow for sharing  her delicious and easy cookie recipe = yummee!     I never knew they made square pretzels 🙂

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.–Norman Vincent Peale