I Plumb Forgot

I plumb forgot about that gizmo in the kitchen drawer when I went to make a plum cake. I was wrestling with some plums and they were winning until Bill reminded me about the fruit corer in the drawer. Doubtful, I tried it and, yes, it perfectly pulled the pit out of the plum!  I settled the score with the plums. Now, on to the real reason for this blog posting.

Plum Küchen

Plums are a plenty, so make a good ‘ole Bavarian-style plum cake. You’ll need a 9-inch springform pan for this.


  • 8 plums, cored and sliced thinly
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar (for the plums)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (for the crust)
  • 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder


Halve and pit the plums. Mix the plums with 3/4 cup of sugar and the tapioca. Let stand for about 15 minutes. (This helps absorb the juices.)

For the crust, cream the butter and 1 cup of sugar together until fluffy.

In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. It will be crumbly. Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of a springform pan and one inch up the sides.

Arrange the plums, cut side down, in the shell. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of the crumbly mixture.

Bake in 400⁰ oven for 45 minutes. Cool in pan then remove the sides. Serve with whipped cream.

Note: You can substitute Italian plums which are smaller so you will need about 16 plums.

What is the origin of the phrase “I plumb forgot?” It’s always fun to find out about where these sayings come from. 


You’re Still Hot!

Here’s a fun centerpiece idea for any birthday age 40 and beyond. Make several if you have multiple tables. The centerpiece(s) are also take-home gifts. They make clever outdoor table decorations especially if you’re having a BBQ.

You Will Need

  • Ornamental chili pepper plant (note, peppers are not edible)
  • Spanish moss (craft store)
  • Floral foam
  • Various hot sauces, BBQ sauces, spicy meat rubs
  • Wooden crate (Michaels), basket, or something to hold everything
  • Signage (I used a mini chalkboard pick from Michaels, but you can make a sign from paper)

Click here to watch my e-How video on how to pull this off. (With a few additional ideas.)

Need a gift for a 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th and Beyond Birthday?
Men really like this one!

Gather hot and BBQ sauces, meat and fish rubs, grill implements, instant-read thermometer, apron. Put everything in a brown paper gift bag with handles (Michaels) stuffed with red and black tissue paper. Write all over the bag in red and black markers with words such as:

  • Happy Birthday Joe…You’re Still Hot at 60! Love, the Kelley Family
  • Sizzle!
  • Burn baby burn!
  • Ouch!
  • Get the fire extinguisher!
  • Third-degree burning going on!
  • Call 9-1-1!
  • Put on the A/C!

It’s all about fun and we’re having tons with this birthday centerpiece and gift idea.

Cooking by Color

The farmer’s market yesterday was like a feast for the eyes! The harvest is in and the take is bountiful.

I spotted the baby purple Tiger eggplants and was captured by their color. I decided to buy them first, then I asked the woman in line why she was also buying them. She said they were tender and the skin is edible, not tough, like other eggplants. Sold!

Not only are these babies rich in color, they are rich in nutrients. Eggplant is a seasonal super food!

I created this eggplant dish based on a tasty dish of squash concocted by my childhood friend who I have endearingly nicknamed “Barbie of Sunny Acres.” Barbie, Donna, and I enjoyed her squash dish on her sun porch flanked by a vase full of sunflowers. With this in mind, I created a recipe full of summer’s best.

Use my recipe as a starting point then make it your own by substituting different cheeses, herbs, and vegetables. Next time I am going to use the baby eggplant in a frittata (baked with eggs and cheese). You can’t go wrong when it’s all from the garden!

Thank you to Barbie of Sunny Acres for the genesis of this recipe and for the memory of hospitality.

eggplant-cooked-goodBaby Eggplant Bake

The tender baby eggplants don’t require sautéing or over salting to make them tender. Slicing them fresh and putting them directly into the casserole dish makes this recipe easy and quick. You can substitute herbed goat cheese or feta for the cream cheese, and cheddar or Monterey Jack for the mozzarella. You can also substitute fresh red pepper for the tomatoes.


  • Baby, purple eggplant, about 8, sliced just a little less than 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, chilled and torn into small pieces
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Spray a one-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Place half of the sliced eggplants in a single layer in dish, overlapping a bit. Sprinkle with one half each of the chopped onion, tomatoes, and basil. Sprinkle with one tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Dot this eggplant layer with one-half of the cream cheese and sprinkle one-half of the shredded mozzarella.

Repeat the layering process ending with the shredded mozzarella on top.

Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Kill the Fattened Calf…My Soldier is Home

My husband, Bill, returned home tonight after a year’s deployment with the First Infantry Division – “The Big Red One” — based out of Fort Riley, Kansas. Bill is a JAG with the U.S. Army Reserves and served his second deployment to active duty. I couldn’t have predicted I’d be writing this blog; but as all bloggers, we write when the spirit moves us.

I haven’t talked about his deployment in this blog because frankly I thought it was better if I kept it to myself. But now that’s it’s over, I just want to say thank you to all the families who serve along with our military and who say goodbye and, God willing, hello, again to those we love. “All give some and some give all” so we can live in freedom.

The way for me to make the time go fast was not to let any grass grow under my feet…I had a long to-do list and, by golly, I was going to get it done up until last night hanging that last picture on the wall. I really didn’t need a to-do list because our 12-year-old son turned into a teenager during that year and his schedule alone is enough to keep me on the run. My list included small things like cleaning out the basement, to big things like publishing a new magazine (Celebrate Home Magazine) — and everything in between. But now that Bill’s home, I want to thank those helped us out throughout the year. The danger here is forgetting someone. So, with that said, if I forgot you, I expect you to stand up and be counted.

Thank you to the following for extending your warm hospitality to the Kelley’s during the past year.

(These are in no particular order, just steam-of-consciousness gratitude.)

  • To Linda for bringing me homemade chicken soup with bones when I was so sick, and the pound cake on my birthday.
  • To Linda, Jesus, Kathleen and Andrew who drove the carpool when I was sick or had a work commitment.
  • To Nancy who tells funny real-life stories and told me on Fridays before I left the office to go home and have a Sprodka.
  • To Marion who was willing to take Patrick any time when I got scheduled out at work (and to her and her kids for being taste testers for recipes).
  • To Bob who turned our septic (oh, and by the way, cut up our mightly oak that at midnight fell from our yard into the street and blocked traffic, but he’d rather be known for the septic!)
  • To Don who poured me a glass of wine and to his wife Tracy who took Patrick to Houston and every other time.
  • To Melanie who just knew when to show up and when to offer (even before I did).
  • To Mark who kept the prayers going and always gave me encouragement to just do it (whatever I said I was going to do that day).
  • To Veronica and Michael for driving Patrick to “elbow” lessons.
  • To Hollace who always asked.
  • To Joan who always checked in.
  • To Susan who laughed at my jokes and asked for my autograph.
  • To Tami and Chilo for driving to basketball early Saturday mornings.
  • To Cindy for getting me busy the minute Bill left catering her Garden Muse show.
  • To Margaret, Rick, Susie and Jim for joining us in Marietta.
  • For Margaret and Clark who welcomed the soldier to New Mexico
  • To Susie who texted daily or called and who gave me the pretty primroses.
  • To Elaine who sent Bill delicious food (and for the hospitality she showed to us).
  • To SFC Rice for serving as Bill’s NCOIC and for the “Irish Basket” that we all enjoyed when he got home.
  • To BilliJo for calling to see if we were okay
  • To all my neighbors on the Lane for being neighborly.
  • To Irene and Mike for always being happy to see me at school and ask about Bill.
  • To Herb for fixing the toilet when it leaked through the ceiling.
  • To Peggy who dreams big for me.
  • To Ethel, my hairdresser
  • To Father Beers, our friend
  • To all of Patrick’s friends who hung out at our house and let the good times roll.
  • Finally, to all of you who read this blog, write to me, send me photos and recipes, and let me know what you’re cooking for those you love.

Welcome home, kill the fatted calf. Prepare food for the traveler and rejoice! Tonight’s menu: Beef Bourguignon, salad, focaccio bread, and a blueberry tart. No recipes today but stay tuned for the recipe of the “Queen of Heart, Blueberry Teart” in the spring Celebrate Home Magazine.

“Duty First…Victory!”

What Kitchen Implement Can’t You Live Without?

Me First

My sister always said, “Never take off your wedding ring, except to make meatloaf.”

I say, “Never take off your wedding ring even when you make meat loaf.”

My favorite kitchen implement is a pair of matching hands. Maybe they technically don’t count, but they have served me well all these years in all my kitchens.

Yes, these are my hands, mixing ground beef to make my Bleu Burgers (recipe later).

You’re Next

We all have one (or two) things – pan, knives, lemon reamer, martini shaker – whatever – that we could not imagine our kitchen being without. I want to know what yours is. Be one of the first three people to respond and you will receive something from me from Williams-Sonoma – my all-time, favorite place in the world to get all-things kitchen. You will also get the latest issue of Kelley Hospitality Magazine.

Respond in the comment section so you share your answer with all of us. Tell us what and why. Then e-mail me your address and I will send you the prizes. E-mail me at bagkelley@gmail.com.

I look forward to your answers.

Babs’ Bleu Burgers

My favorite combination of beef and cheese. You can substitute mozzarella, feta or Boursin, but then they wouldn’t be Babs’ Bleu Burgers now would they?

  • 2 pounds ground beef (I use lean)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound crumbled bleu cheese

Using your hands, mix all ingredients except for the cheese and shape into four patties. They will be thick.

Using your hands, make a little indentation in the center of each patty and fill with cheese. Cover the hole with meat.

Grill, broil, or cook in a pan to your liking. Serve in buns.

Using your hands, pick up and eat.

Hint: Try Maytag Dairy Farm Blue Cheese! I buy it fresh from their farm in Iowa.