Carrielynn’s Mum’s Rhubarb Crisp

Carrielynn is an exceptional young woman.  An accomplished singer and rap artist, fearless activist for her community and nation and super-great culturally astute mother, she offered this great recipe to celebrate the first rhubarb of the season. I really like the suggestion to toss in a little chopped apple… think I’ll also try a handful or two of blueberries from my freezer, the flavor goes so well with rhubarb.  Then, as Carrielynn says … BOOM!
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Carrielynn’s Mum’s Rhubarb Crisp

12X12 pan, lightly greased
Oven pre-heated to 350 F

Crumble – mix into coarse crumbs with a fork or pastry blender: 
1C flour (gluten free or regular or whatever you like)
1C 9 Grain Oats
¼ C Real Butter
¼ C firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tsp of cinnamon

Custard (separate bowl) –  whisk together until creamy: 
1 egg
Splash of cream
1/4 to 3/4 C raw cane sugar

10-15 Big stalks of rhubarb, coarsely chopped
(you can add a tart apple to mix it up)

Mix dry ingredients, melt butter and add in while stirring with hands until the consistency is even and crumbly
Chop the rhubarb small and place in the pan, pour in the custard and lightly mix with hands, press down the rhubarb so its even
Spread on the dry crumble and press down so no rhubarb is exposed

Place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, let the custard set for at least 20 minutes before eating.

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Hint: Carrielynn says that tossing some crushed almonds into the crumble makes it extra good!
Tip: For diabetics, you can replace the sugar with stevia sweetener.

Banana Bread

This all-time favorite is easy to make and delicious. A great way to use up over-ripe bananas, banana bread is always a welcome gift at potlucks or when visiting friends and neighbors. Our family like our special “ambrosia” version of banana bread with coconut, rum flavoring and lots of spices like ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. The addition of fruits plus protein powder, tofu or eggs makes the recipe a good solid food that’s almost a meal in itself. Dressed up or plain, banana bread deserves its good reputation as a staple snack and dessert food – and it’s really nice toasted for breakfast!

3 C flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 T. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 to 1 1/2 C. sugar – to taste

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 to 1  C chopped nuts

2-3 mashed ripe medium bananas (1 1/2 – 2 cups)

2 eggs (vegans can substitute equivalent weight of tofu or use soy protein powder with 1 t. cooking oil)

2 T. cooking oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1 – 1 1/2 C water

Mix dry ingredients together in a big bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs or tofu, bananas, oil and water until creamy. Mix the wet and dry ingredients thoroughly, let rest. Preheat oven to 350ºF, oil and flour a square baking pan (or 2 loaf pans) and add the batter. Bake 45 min. to 1 hour, loosen the bread from the sides of the pan with a knife, cool in the pan on a rack.

Options: instead of chopped nuts, use sunflower seeds. Add chocolate chips or coconut to the dry mix. Dried and fresh fruits like raisins, blueberries and cranberries add extra nutrition, interesting flavors, looks and texture.

Hints: to make a nice topping and seal the bread, spread a little corn syrup over the top of the bread while it’s still warm. Tips: cut over-ripe bananas into 1-2 in chunks and freeze in a container until ready to thaw and use. Add exotic spices such as ginger, rum flavoring

Good food for everyone!

Magic Muffins

This is a great quick recipe, perfect for those times when you’re being careful with your money or don’t feel like shopping, but need to satisfy a craving for something a little sweet. I give recipes like this the name “magic” because they can be made with a wide variety of ingredients (Magical Options) and they come out a little different every time, depending on what you have in the kitchen…. they’re a nice dessert, a great snack, a quick breakfast and a super gift for friends and neighbours… enjoy!


Dry ingredients:

2-3 Cups Muffin mix and a few Magical Options (see below)

Wet ingredients:

1 C water, 1-2 T cooking oil (or melted margaine or butter) and an extra cup of water

Mix your wet and dry ingredients separately, then make a ‘well’ in the middle of the dry. Add the wet mix to the well, stir it through to coat the dry mix; keep adding water a little at a time until the mixture is moistened all the way through, but not too stiff to stir. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease your muffin tins well. Fill to 3/4 full of muffin batter, bake for 20-28 minutes or until they spring back to the touch and smell just right.

Magical Options (pick a nice combination from below and use your imagination!):

1/2 cup shredded coconut 1/2 C raisins or currants, chopped dates, dried cranberries, papaya, apricots…

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, almonds, walnut or pecans

1 tsp. powdered ginger 1 tsp. cinnamon powder

1 plain chocolate bar, chopped (or 1/2 C chocolate chips, or 2-4 T. cocoa

1 small apple, chopped or 1/2 C blueberries, strawberries

Muffin Mix

1) Store bought mix: you can find cake or muffin mix on sale and add “Magical” stuff from your kitchen

2) Homemade mix: 3 cups flour (or 2 Cups flour and 1 cup oats) 2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt 3/4 C of sugar, or more or less to taste


Fruit Filling: Fill each muffin tin half-way and add 1/2 tsp jam, jelly or soft fruit in the middle. Fill the cups 3/4 full with the muffin batter and bake!

Time Savers:

1) Keep half of the batter in a clean jar in the fridge to make fresh muffins quickly anytime; the batter will keep for 4-7 days.

2) Make a big batch of dry muffin mix and keep it in the freezer – When you’re ready to make muffins, shale out what you need into a big bowl, add your wet ingredients and magical options and bake.

Sweet combinations:

“Fruity” explosion: Add chopped apple and a few raisins and berries to the dry mix; put a spoonful of jam in the middle of 2 layers of batter.

Ambrosia: Add coconut, ginger, cinnamon, almonds and orange essence, diced orange rind or mashed banana.

Gourmet ideas: You can blend a whole orange with the seeds removed into the wet mix, add some chocolate chips or cocoa to the dry and make a nice chocolate orange muffin!) How about lemon, poppy seed and cornmeal?

Savory Combinations: Leave out the sugar and add one or a combination of: Shredded cheese, chopped sundried tomatoes, cooked beans, diced carrot, fried minced onion, celery

Add herbs and spices – chili powder, oregano, rosemary, parsley , olive oil

Rough Times Bacon ‘n’ Egg Muffin: (you’ll never want to stop at a fast food place for breakfast once you’ve tasted these! ) Put a small piece of cooked bacon (vegetarians can use soy bacon), a bit of grated cheese and a spoonful of stirred raw egg in the middle of each muffin, fill the muffin cup with no-sugar batter (you can add a few herbs too!) and add a little grated cheese on top. Bake as usual.

Tip: Don’t have a muffin tin? Well, use a cake pan, a frying pan with a heatproof handle, small tart or other baking dishes – or get to the second hand store and find a nice muffin tin… it’s still probably cheaper than buying those store-bought muffins.

Much Love, Gramma Willi

Good Clean Food for Everyone!


Rough Times Cake

Rough Times Cake

Watch a video of this recipe at:

This is a simple and not-too sweet cake, sometimes called “Depression Cake”. So easy to make, it is free of eggs or milk, so it’s vegan friendly, easy on the budget and delicious.


2 Cups Raisins

1 Cup Brown Sugar

2 Cups Water

1/3 Cup Margarine

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/8 tsp Nutmeg

1/8 tsp Allspice

2 Cups Flour

1/4 tsp Salt

2 Round Tbsp Baking Powder

Sift dry ingredients together or stir well. Mix the wet ingredients in a big cup or bowl, add to dry mixture to make an easy-to-stir dough. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350ºF for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and dry.

Suggestions: While it’s still warm, spread a thin layer of corn syrup over the top for a nice glazed, elegant-looking cake. Freezes really well if it’s wrapped twice; since it’s such a big cake, I usually freeze half for later). Add nuts, raisins, currants, sweet cranberries, chopped apples or coconut to the dry mix… use mashed bananas, a little less water and make it a banana cake… forget the spice and add chopped strawberries, peaches or blueberries… use less water and a beaten egg or two for a rich texture – there’s no limit when you use your imagination!


Ginger Recipes – Good Old Time Medicine

My mother taught me to use ginger to chase away colds and flus and to soothe upset stomach and moon-time pain. I love ginger because it makes your breath smell good, its nice hot taste sure does warm up the body and it makes me and my family feel a lot better. Chopped fresh ginger is a great addition to stir-fry meals and curries.
Recently, my pal Tahnee said she’d like it if I put some of my ginger recipes on this blog.
I did a little research first. Among other sources, I found a great article at the University of Maryland web site ( Many reports stated that ginger is a natural antibiotic, helps digestion, gas, nausea, headaches, arthritis and menstrual pain and is a time-honored remedy for cold and flu symptoms. I also read that for children under 2 yrs. and people on blood thinners, you should ask your doctor before using ginger as a medicine. There were a few reports that using too much ginger will cause stomach ache or diarrhea.

African Ginger Drink
I learned this recipe from a strange and beautiful man that I met in the produce section of a supermarket. We somehow ended up discussing that year’s flu epidemic and prophecies. He claimed that this recipe will cure even the new antibiotic resistant strains of flu. This is what I cook up when a really bad cold or flu hits our friends or relatives; I’ve had many requests for more and for the recipe. Look for ginger that has a nice smooth skin; if it’s wrinkled, then it’s old – still usable, but fresh is definitely best.

a fist-sized piece of fresh ginger (1/2 to 1 lb.)
6 quarts of water – enough to fill a Dutch oven (small stew/spaghetti pot)
2-3 C sugar
Peel the ginger with a spoon (use a small knife to remove lumps) and cut into thin slices. Put the ginger and sugar into the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 4-6 hours, let cool. By this time, you should have a nice, hot-spicy, golden-brown “juice.” You can drink this as is; I drink a half cup a few times a day for colds and flus. If you want a thick syrup, boil it down some more until you can eat it by the spoonful – good for kids.
You can also mix it with orange juice or put it in cake and cookie mixes. My favorite, put a few tablespoons in a regular cup of tea with milk – tastes like India Chai tea – yummy!

Quick’n’Simple Ginger Tea
My Mom gave me this for tummy aches. It works well. Powdered ginger isn’t as strong as fresh, but it will do when it’s already in the cupboard and you don’t want to run to the store.

1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. sugar or honey
1 C. freshly boiled water
Mix in a cup and drink while warm.

Candied Ginger
Also known as crystallized ginger, it takes a few days to make, but it’s worth it because you get a nice juice to drink and use in teas while you’re waiting for the candy to be ready!

2 fist-sized pieces of fresh ginger (1 to 2 lbs.)
6 quarts of water – enough to fill a Dutch oven (small stew/spaghetti pot)
2-3 C sugar

Peel the ginger with a spoon (use a small knife to remove lumps) and cut into thin slices. Put the ginger and 1 C sugar into the pot, bring to a boil turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, let cool. Drain, keeping the ginger water in a jar to use in tea, etc.

Put the ginger back into the pot, fill it with fresh water and add 1 C sugar. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer partly covered for 20 minutes, let cool and let stand overnight.

Bring the pot to a boil and add 1 cup sugar, stir until dissolved, turn heat to low and simmer simmer partly covered for 20 minutes, let cool and let stand overnight.

Bring the pot to a boil, add 1 cup sugar, stir to dissolve and turn heat to low and simmer partly covered for about an hour, stirring often so that the mixture does not burn or stick to the pot. The liquid should be quite thick and almost like a syrup when it’s ready; if it’s thick when runs off the back of a spoon, it’s done. Let cool.

Put the slices of ginger on a rack to dry (6-10 hours or overnight). Coat the dried pieces with sugar, store in an airtight jar; keep the remaining syrup for tea, baking, etc. Should last a few months without refrigeration, longer in the fridge. Eat as a candy, suck and chew it slowly to get the most benefit.

Tips: I travel with candied ginger and use it for upset stomach, if I get symptoms of a cold or flu and to prevent infected people from passing on their germs to me.

A few drops of essential oil of ginger is a sweet-smelling addition to a bath. It is good and warming, helps to chase the chills out of the body and soothe aches and pains.


Corn Bread

Quick to make and soooo good! Make it instead of popcorn for movie night, serve with chili, soups, stews or toasted for breakfast, lunch or snacks. A big hit with old folks, children, teens and the growing numbers of people known as “foodies.”
The following recipe gets you started into the wonderful world of corn bread; you may find yourself surprised at the long history of corn bread, from ancient, old-fashioned and traditional peoples to the settlers in native lands who expanded the uses of this amazingly simple and very nutritious staple food of the ages.

Watch how to make Corn Bread on video!

1 C. corn meal
2 C. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 C. sugar
1 1/2 –2 C. milk or 1/2 milk 1/2 water, or part canned or powdered. (Hey you vegans! – you can replace the milk with plain water and 2 T. cooking oil.)

Mix dry ingredients together, add milk or water, stir well, adding enough liquid so that the mixture is not too thick, like a cake batter. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch baking pan (or pie tin) and bake 35-50 minutes until done (a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean and quite dry). Cornbread should be nicely browned on the sides, but not too brown on top. Great as is, buttered, and with jam for breakfast and snacks.

Suggestions: Add canned corn and/or jalapeño peppers for a Mexican flavor; make it Italian-style with a few finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Add soy flour to the dry mix or grated cheese to the wet for extra protein. For corn cake, increase the sugar, add an egg or two, mix in a little oil or vegetable shortening, beat the batter very well until smooth. I love using frozen berries in my corn “cake-bread” in wintertime. Tastes really great toasted and buttered; try it under poached eggs. Mini cornbread pizza slices? Garlic corn bread? – why not?
Hints: Instead of plastic, use a clean kitchen towel for wrapping leftover corn bread to keep it soft. You can make a double batch and freeze one for later. Great for pot luck suppers and a really nice gift for your favorite friends and neighbors.

Corn kernels remind me of nature’s generosity – so many seeds from one corn cob! Corn plants will grow well with good earth (shred and add last year’s stalks to the earth – nitrogen!) and some care and give you many more seeds to feed many more people. The best whole brown corn husks can be harvested and dried – pull back the husk, tie and hang until the seed kernels are hard, then twist them off and store a non-plastic bag or envelope – want to grow your own popcorn or grind your own cornmeal?
Good seed growing and saving information is easy to find – e.g., check out the Long Island Seed Project. Share and trade your seeds to keep them strong.

~ Sometimes I pray that it becomes impossible to contaminate corn;
I am careful about it. ~


Apple Crumble

Rough Times Cookbook Recipes

This dessert smells and tastes like apple pie, but is a lot quicker and easier to make. It’s one of my standard contributions to pot luck dinners and “emergency” fancy dinners when unexpected hungry guests drop in.

5-6 large apples, washed, cored and diced or thinly sliced
cinnamon and brown sugar to taste

Crumb topping mixture:
2 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. rolled oats
1-2 tsp. cinnamon, to taste
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4-1 1/2 C. brown sugar (depends on sweetness of the apples and your taste)
3/4-1 C margarine or butter

Lightly grease a regular sized cake pan or small casserole dish.
Mix the dry crumb topping ingredients really well with a fork in a large bowl. Cut in the margarine or butter with the fork and mix until crumbs are even sizes, not too large. Spread 1/3 of the crumb topping mixture on the bottom of the pan, press down with the fork; top with the chopped/sliced apples and sprinkle them lightly with a little cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar.
Add the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the apples, pressing lightly with the fork, especially in corners. Bake at 350ºF for 40 minutes to 1 hour (until it smells just right the apples are nice and soft and the topping is golden brown).
Serve as is or with whipped, thick or ice cream (Maritimers will probably enjoy a little canned milk on top.)

Hints: You can use white sugar if you have no brown; add a little extra cinnamon to improve the flavor… this makes a great breakfast in a bowl topped with yogurt or heated with warm milk. A great way to use up apples that are past their prime; no one will notice wrinkled skins or little bruises once the apples are all baked and smelling soooo good – I promise! This recipe is easy to double or triple.
Variations: You can vary this recipe by adding dried raisins, currants, fresh or dried cranberries, even frozen fruit like strawberries to the filling. Add flaked coconut, sunflower seeds or other nuts to the crumble topping for a nice texture, flavor and extra protein.