Cover of book St. Louis Coffee Get excited! November 7 marks the release of Deborah Reinhardt’s book: St. Louis Coffee: A Stimulating History. Deborah brews up interesting and informative food, drink and history related books, with her new coffee book preceded by Delectable Destinations: A Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Missouri (so fine) and A Culinary History of Missouri: Foodways & Iconic Dishes of the Show-Me State, a book she co-authored with Suzanne Corbett.

Books by Deborah Reinhardt





St. Louis Coffee highlights the history of coffee in a town that was at onetime noted as “the largest inland distributor of coffee in the United States,” and profiles about 20 current roasters in the St. Louis area. Deborah said that St. Louis brought many innovations to the coffee industry and that coffee men were just as important as beer barons in shaping the nature of the city. Unlike beer, the history of coffee remained somewhat hidden, that is before Deborah dusted off the background and put a spotlight on the history.

Deborah perked an interest in the St. Louis coffee industry after reading about an exhibit at the Missouri History Museum. “Wow, I didn’t know that!” she kept thinking as she learned a new fact linking the city to coffee. Figuring that others might not know about the city’s coffee connection, and stimulated by the exhibit, she developed a robust interest in research that bloomed into her book.

Photo of Deborah Reinhardt

Deborah Reinhardt

Dorothy Reinhardt in the kitchen.

Dorothy Reinhardt

A St. Louis native, Deborah lived with her grandparents and parents when growing up. Her grandmother always kept a pot of coffee in the kitchen available to visitors. Deborah called it “hospitality coffee,” and says that she associates coffee with lovely memories of family and friends.

In addition to writing books, the former travel editor blogs at, a site filled with terrific comfort-food recipes, cooking tips and family stories. The three Reinhardt women in the blog’s title are Deborah, her mom, Kathy, and grandma, Dorothy.

St. Louis Coffee, published by The History Press, sells for $23.99 and can be purchased, along with Deborah’s other books, on her blog, through her publishers, at local bookstores and on Amazon.

When asked for a favorite recipe, Deborah double dipped her passions and sent the following savory chili recipe that she flavors with both chocolate and coffee. She says that her recipe is “an evolving thing, especially with the chocolate, “I add some, taste, repeat until it’s at the level I like.”


Yield: 6 servings.A bowl of Chocolate/Coffee Chili

1 pound ground beef (I prefer 85/15)

1 medium orange bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 (15.5-ounce) can Brooks Chili beans (I prefer mild)

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup brewed black coffee

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate (chips or chopped)

Put beef in a heavy saucepan or Dutch Oven and cook, stirring often, until the meal loses its red color. Add the onion and bell pepper. Sauté, stirring often, until the beef almost starts to brown and onions are translucent. Add beans, tomatoes, coffee, salt, chili powder, garlic, and cinnamon. Continue to sauté, stirring often, until mixture starts to bubble. Turn heat down to low, stir in chocolate and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and correct seasoning before serving.

To buy Deborah’s books through her publishers: click HERE for St. Louis Coffee: A Stimulating History, and HERE for Delectable Destinations, A Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Missouri.

For more information about A Culinary History of Missouri: Foodways & Iconic Dishes of the Show-Me State, click HERE.

To see Sweet Leisure’s recommendations for the best places in the world to drink coffee, click HERE.


A collage for the St. Louis arch, a cup of coffee and fall leaves.


D’Arcy’s Pint, Springfield, IL, Horseshoe

A hamburger pony served at D'Arcy's PintThe horseshoe, an open-faced sandwich of thick toast topped with hamburger or ham heaped with French fries and drenched in cheese sauce, was born in Springfield, Illinois, in 1928. Through the years, the sandwich evolved—but not much. Although the enormous horseshoe produced a half-size offspring called a “pony,” and cooks added variations to base ingredients, today the crave-worthy construction remains the same and the sandwich is still a stay-at-home specialty not sprinting far from city limits.

Many Springfield restaurants serves shoes, but judging by popularity, D’Arcy’s Pint is the place to find the best of the best.

View of D'Arcy's Pint from outside front door.

Outside D’Arcy’s Pint


Collage showing inside of D'Arcy's Pint

Inside D’Arcy’s Pint

Hallie Pierceall opened D’Arcy’s Pint in 1998 and moved to today’s location at 661 Stanford Avenue in 2005. She runs the congenial Irish-style pub with the help of her brother T. J. Pierceall.

Portrait of Hallie Pierceall on the patio of D'Arcy's Pint.

Hallie Pierceall


T. J. Pierceall behind the bar at D'Arcy's Pint

T.J. Pierceall

Their dad lives in nearby New Berlin and supplies the restaurant with fresh vegetables from his farm. Ninety percent of the extensive menu items are housemade and all are delicious. This winning combination of family, fresh and fabulous draws more that 1000 guests per day, with more than half of the crowd ordering a horse or pony shoe.

D’Arcy’s menu lists not only ham and hamburger for the sandwich base, but also corned beef, pot roast, Italian sausage, vegetables, Buffalo chicken…well the list goes on.

Shoes listed on D'Arcy's Pint menu.

D'Arcy's cheese sauce in a take-out container.

D’Arcy’s cheese sauce

And although D’Arcy’s shoes include thick portions of juicy succulent meat and crinkly crispy fries, it’s the creamy, rich, smooth-as-silk cheese sauce that sends D’Arcy’s sandwiches to unbridled heights.

Amy Beadle of the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau sent the recipe for the original Springfield Horseshoe Sandwich below.

Hallie says that D’Arcy’s cheese sauce differs from the Welsh Rarebit-like sauce in the original recipe. Her secret is to replace the Cheddar or Colby cheese with white American cheese, to adjust the seasonings for a more mellow taste and to leave out the beer. D’Arcy’s sells cheese sauce to go, but only in store.

Whether indulging in a horseshoe at D’Arcy’s Pint, or springing to the kitchen to make your own, Amy offers two tips for enjoying this Springfield specialty: Save up your appetite and wear very stretchy/comfy pants.


A hamburger pony served at D'Arcy's Pint(Recipe supplied by the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau.)

Yield: One horseshoe; 4 servings.

2 egg yolks

½ cup beer

2 tablespoons butter

3 cups grated sharp Old English Cheddar or Colby Longhorn cheese

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon dry mustard

½ teaspoon salt

1 dash cayenne pepper

2 thick slices Texas toast

Just grilled hamburger patties or ham steak

A heap of hot French fries

To make the cheese sauce: beat the egg yolks with beer and set aside. Put butter and cheese in the top of a double boiler over boiling water, and heat, stirring in one direction with a wooden spoon to melt cheese. Stir in the seasonings. Stirring constantly, add the yolks and beer a little at time. Keep the mixture piping hot as you stir, but don’t let it bubble.

To make the sandwich. Put toast on a preheated platter. Top with meat and then the fries. Pour cheese sauce over everything. Serve while sandwich is hot.

For more information about D’Arcy’s Pint, click HERE.

For more information about the Horseshoe, click HERE.

And for more information about Springfield, Illinois, click HERE.



Ta-eem Grill, Hummus Fava Beans

Entrance to Ta-eem GrillLet’s see. Shawarma or falafel?  Kabobs or schnitzel? Humus or baba ganoush? Hard choice as Ta-eem Grill fills its menu with a seductive list of delicious Glatt Kosher Mediterranean fare.

Yoel and Sylvie Kraizberger, Israeli natives, opened Ta-eem in 2011, fashioning the restaurant after one they ran in Israel. Today, the Los Angeles restaurant has become a staple with the Jewish community and draws lovers of Israeli dishes from far beyond its Fairfax neighborhood.

The Kraizberger family (mom and dad, son and daughter) run the place, energetically greeting friends, filling orders and overseeing the grilling that take place at a station just inside the entrance.

Yoel and Sylvie Kraizberger inside Ta-eem

Yoel and Sylvie Kraizberger

Customers order and pay at a counter and then find a seat or just hover around if waiting for carryout.

The menu at Ta-eem

The restaurant sports a well-worn ambience. A smoky scent of grilled onions, garlic and seared meats greets one at the door. Personal photos line one wall. Scruffy wood tables with mismatched chairs provide seating for about 100. A few tables sit outdoors—on the Melrose sidewalk.

A collage of inside Ta-eem

Inside Ta-eem


Ta-eem has a few tables on the Melrose sidewalk.

Outside Ta-eem

Carryout or dine-in, people come for the food and it shines. Food writer Sylvio Martins claims Ta-eem’s falafel is one of the best in LA. (See “The Best Flafel In LA.”)  Food reviewer Brian Cox likes the Shawarma (See 6 Excellent Shawarma Spots in LA.”). I happen to crave the pargiot, a mound of marinated chicken thigh slivers grilled with onions and garlic.

Collage of Ta-eem's falafel on pita and Parrot plate with Israeli salad, rice and baba ganoush.

Ta-eem’s falafel on pita and parrot plate with Israeli salad, rice and baba ganoush.

Everyone loves picking and choosing favorites from the feast of side dishes that accompany most orders.

An assortment of side dishes that come with Ta-eem's entrees.

And Sylvie Kraizberger says that she favors the Hummus Fava Beans, a dish that she makes for the restaurant—like this:


Ta-eem's Hummus Fava Beans (Ful) with hardboiled egg garnish.

Yield: 2 to 4 servings.

1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans

4 to 5 garlic cloves, divided

2 tablespoon tahini

About 2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided


1 can (15 ounces) fava beans, rinsed

Olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 to 2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into wedges

Chopped parsley

Make hummus: Put garbanzo beans in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat, gently boil beans for about 20 minutes. Drain beans, rinse in cold water and set aside until completely cooled.

Put cooled garbanzo beans, 2 or 3 minced garlic cloves, tahini, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and about 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor, blender or grinder. Process mixture, adding cold water as necessary to make a smooth, creamy paste. Correct seasoning, adding more lemon juice and/or salt as desired. Set hummus aside.

Cook fava beans: Put a thin coat of olive oil in a medium-size skillet. Set over medium heat. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and cook, stirring often, until garlic is fragrant, but not browned, about 1 minute. Add fava beans, 3 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, cumin and paprika. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are cooked through and flavorful, about 20 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning.

When ready to serve: Spoon hummus into the center of a large bowl. Make an indentation in center of hummus, spreading mixture in a circle covering bottom of bowl and extending a little up the sides. Add fava beans to indentation in center of hummus. Drizzle olive oil over top of all and sprinkle generously with parsley. Garnish with a hard-boiled egg.

Ta-eem Grill, Inc./7422 Melrose Ave/Los Angeles

For more information click HERE.

8 Perfect Places to Drink Coffee

To say I love coffee, understates. I adore, crave, treasure coffee. The only thing better than drinking a perfect cup of coffee, is drinking a perfect cup of coffee in an amazing setting.

Here are 8 sensational places where I find ultimate coffee-drinking joy.



This baronial mansion turned hotel in 1969 earned the praise of Queen Victoria who said, “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot.”

The accolades keep flowing as Inverlochy continues to win top awards for both its hotel and restaurant. A day at Inverlochy that begins with wake-up, room-service coffee consumed in a luxuriously plush bed, and then, more coffee to accompany a full Scottish breakfast served in a lovely sunshine-filled dining room just could be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about Inverlochy Castle Hotel and for the restaurant’s delectable shortbread recipe.

A plush bed at Inverlochy Castle Hotel  with coffee on a side table.

A full Scottish breakfast as served at Inverlochy Castle Hotel



Nothing beats traveling divinely, dreamingly, deliciously on a French hotel barge, especially on the Horizon II, a barge that floats with the grace of a swan, through the man-made canals of the Upper Loire. Everything about the Horizon II charms. I adored breakfast at the dining table, but lounging on the deck, sipping a cup of coffee while floating through the backyard waterways of France could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about a Horizon II cruise.

The Horizon II Floats Through French backyard waterways.

Drinking coffee on the deck of the Horizon II



This luxury lodge near Victoria Falls in Zambia sports guest houses with only three walls. The fourth wall is open air where the bedroom and patio overlook the Zambezi River. Without telephones or alarm clocks, the lodge sends a valet with coffee, biscuits and a breakfast menu to rouse guests from sleep. Lounging on the patio as the sun rises, watching monkeys frolic in the trees and hippos bathe in the Zambezi River while drinking strong and fragrant morning coffee, could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about Tongabezi Lodge and unique recipes for sweet potato jam and Zambian beans.

A valet brings wake-up coffee to enjoy on the deck of a room at Tongabezi Lodge




Café de Flore, named for the Roman goddess of flowers and fertility, opened sometime in the 1880s. Its rival, Les Deux Magot, named for “two stocky figurines from the Far East,” is equally historic. The cafes sit across from each other in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, in Paris’ 6tharrondissement. Through the years, both cafes collected a long roster of famous guests, including high-profile writers, philosophers, intellectuals, actors and celebrities. Sitting at one of these historic cafés, squeezed into a table facing the street, sipping un café and watching Paris walk by, could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Sitting at Cafe de Flores in Paris


Sitting at Les Deux Magot



Palms and ferns, bamboo, orchids and jasmine, plus a jungle worth of other lush vegetation surround the 43 stilted treehouses at Jamaica’s Sunset at the Palms resort. While walking paths yield a garden of earthly delights, lounging on the deck of a treehouse room, overlooking gorgeous greenery while listening to woodpeckers add drumbeats to songbird serenades, just could be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about Sunset at the Palms resort and a terrific Jamaican chicken recipe.

Lush greens surround a treehouse at Sunset at the Palms


Drinking coffee on a deck of a Sunset at the Palms treehouse.



A rooster crows a wake-up call. I brew a cup of coffee in my rented stone cottage and take it out to a lounge chair placed in front of the pasture. The rising sun revels flawless blue sky. The brilliantly fresh and cool air wears the scent of drying dew on growing grass. Mooing cows and clucking free-range chickens play the soundtrack. Enjoying coffee in the incredibly peace of this working ranch/farm could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more information about Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch and a wonderful lamb stew recipe.

The front door of a cottage at Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch

Sitting in front of the pasture at Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch drinking coffee



I don’t want to make anybody jealous, so am going to list a few drawbacks to my room at Jade Mountain in Saint Lucia. The room at this luxurious mountain-top resort only has three walls. The infinity pool, where the fourth wall should be, doesn’t stretch forever into the Caribbean—it’s an illusion. The mountainous Pitons that dominate view never change; I waste a lot of time just staring at them. And although drinking butler-brought morning coffee at the ledge of the infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean and the awesome Pitons may be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience, the coffee eventually disappears from the cup before I am ready to move on. Just saying, nothing to arouse jealousy here.

 Click HERE for more information about Jade Mountain and for an extravagant chocolate ice cream sundae recipe.

Sitting at the ledge of the infinity pool at Jade Mountain overlooking the Caribbean



Untold glory awaits families and/or friends who rent a Forever Resorts houseboat and steer it through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada and Arizona. Swimming, fishing, cooking and just hanging out fill the days, but it’s the early morning that brings me supreme pleasure. While my companions sleep, I make a cup of coffee and wander away from the boat to find a secluded spot among the rock formations that line the shore. Alone with Mother Nature and her exotic desert creatures–lizards, burrowing owls, cacti, boulders–sipping strong and flavorful coffee while I wait for the family to wake could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about the houseboating experience and for an outstanding egg strata recipe.

A collage of docked Forever houseboat and drinking coffee on a boulder.


Third Wheel Brewing and Brewmaster Abbey Spencer

Abbey Spencer holding a beer inside Third Wheel Brewing“I love the sensory,” says Abbey Spencer, “It’s my passion.” No doubt, Abbey’s dedicated attention to aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, appearance, and color accounts for the high-quality beer she produces for Third Wheel Brewing, a brew pub that opened in 2017 in St. Peters, MO.

Abbey became fascinated with beer after moving to St. Louis (from Chicago) in 2008 to be with her fiancé (now husband), Benn Overkamp. Abbey and Benn liked beer. And not just drinking it. Shortly after the move, the pair enrolled in a free beer school held at a local restaurant and started making beer at home from kits.

One thing led to another and Abbey produced so much home brew that she had to throw multiple parties for family and friend to consume the excess.

in her Pink Boots Her interests in beer became layered. She worked at a craft beer retail shop as well as at local beer bar. She co-founded The OG St. Louis Women’s Craft Beer Collective, a non-profit dedicated to “educating and involving St. Louis-area women in the craft beer movement.” She entered beer competitions—and won. She joined the Pink Boots Society, a non-profit which “assists, inspires, and encourages women beer (and other fermented-alcoholic-beverage) professionals through education.” Abbey and her beer obsession thrived. Her reputation grew.

In 2016, one of the attendees of Abbey’s home-brew parties, and a former owner of a brewpub frequented by Abbey and Benn, asked her to brew beer for a brewery that he was opening with a handful of partners. Reluctant at first, Abbey eventually accepted, becoming not only the brewmaster of Third Wheel Brewing, but also one of the partners.

Collage showing inside and out of Third Wheel Brewing


Timeline on chalk board showing when Abbey joined Third Wheel Brewing

At Third Wheel Brewing, Abbey produces, she says, “unique takes on classic styles and classic takes on unique styles.”

Brewing tanks at Third Wheel Brewing

The tap menu rocks with year-round staples, seasonal specialties, and special releases. From pilsners to “crazy big” stouts, there is a style of beer to please every customer. In addition to beer on tap, Third Wheel Brewing bottles and cans beer—and is branching out to sell in additional markets.

Collage of different types beer at Third Wheel Brewing


Beer, of course, takes central stage, but patrons can back up their brew with food from The Window, an independently owned kitchen inside the brewery.

A look into The Window kitchen  at Third Wheel Brewing

The Window’s menu includes many dishes designed to match beer and/or even contain beer, with specialties such as The Boozy Brownie, made with Abbey’s Goomah milk stout, a top seller. (Recipe follows.)

Third Wheel Brewing not only weathered the covid years, but also thrived, continuing to offer stunning beer, good food and a range of beer-centric games, educational programming, and musical events. And Abbey continues to blossom, not only producing outstanding new products, but also taking on new endeavors. She recently became an adjunct instructor in Saint Louis University’s Brewing Science and Operations program. True to form and passion, Abbey teaches about beer sensory evaluation.


The Goomah Brownie topped with Ice cream and chocolate sauce

(Recipe supplied by The Window at Third Wheel Brewing)

Yield: 6 brownies.

Shortening to grease baking pan

6 ounces dark chocolate chipsA can and a glass of Goomah Milk Stout

1/3 cup Goomah Stout (or any good chocolate or milk stout)

½ cup butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon hop salt (or sea salt)

Ice cream

Chocolate sauce

Grease an 8 X 8-inch baking pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F

Put chocolate and stout in a double boiler and heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars together until well blended. Stir in eggs. Then stir in chocolate/stout mixture. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt and beat just until ingredients are combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Set in preheated 350°F oven and bake until top is slightly firm and batter no longer juggles when pan is lightly shaken, about 28 minutes.

Cool before serving.

Serve topped with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce.

For more about Third Wheel Brewing, click HERE.

Floor mat from Third Wheel Brewing

Beef Stew Recipe/Food Writer Daniel Neman

Head shot of Dan Neman

Dan Neman
Photo by Chris Lee of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

He’s a food writer for sure, but he’s also a movie-loving, food comic with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that has a bit of a bite. Just think of this sentence that Daniel Neman wrote on January 8, 2014, introducing himself as the new food writer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Can’t help it, can’t get over it, can’t do anything about it.” Dan was referring to both being a Cincinnati Reds fan and disliking meatloaf. He also claims a distaste for Provel cheese—something untenable to native St. Louisans—but that’s another story.

Raised in Cincinnati where he honed his taste on childhood favorite foods that included beets (go figure) and Cincinnati Chili, a home-town concoction made with ground beef, tomato paste, and seasonings that usually include cinnamon, cloves and sometimes chocolate. This chili is spooned over pasta and topped with chopped raw onions, beans and mounds of shredded cheese.

A big plate of Cincinnati Chili

Dan studied at The University of Chicago and then worked as a movie critic for The Richmond Times-Dispatch. He developed an interest in food when he met his wife, a news editor, who turned him on to herself and her cooking. The pair bonded over the stove.

After movie critics faded out of the newspaper industry, Dan took up food writing, eventually becoming food editor of The Toledo Blade before moving on to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

As the majordomo food writer for the Post, Dan writes features, develops recipes and stars in Prep School videos, showing viewers step by step recipes for dishes ranging from soup (asparagus) to nuts (candied walnuts).

Dan Neman Frying Fish

Dan Neman frying fish for upcoming story. Photographed by Hillary Levin of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

When asked what food shows and contemporary food writers he admires, Dan replied that he gets a kick out of The Great British Bake Off and likes Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible; Helen Fletcher, author of Craving Cookies; and Clotilde Dusoulier,author of Tasting Paris.

Collage of Dan's favorite books.

When asked if he ever came to like Provel, Dan replied that he, “sure enjoys the Cincinnati Bengals.”

And when asked if he has a favorite recipe to share with Sweet Leisure, Dan said he likes to make beef stew for the weekly free meal distributed at his wife’s church. As homeless people with problematic teeth often attend, he developed the recipe from a chuck pot roast, cutting the meat into small pieces that are easy to eat.

Thank you, Dan Neman, St. Louis is lucky to have you—even if you don’t like Provel—tsk, tsk!


Yield: 6 servings.

2½-3 pounds chuck roastBeef Stew a la Dan

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1 cup dry red wine

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, tomato purée, chopped tomatoes or diced tomatoes, with juice

Juice from 1 large orange

3 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup frozen peas

Cooked egg noodles, for serving

Trim meat of large deposits of fat, and cut meat into 1½-inch cubes.  Liberally season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat and sear meat in batches until brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion and sauté until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add wine and stir to dissolve any brown bits that may be on the bottom of the pan. Cook until wine is reduced by half. Stir in tomatoes, orange juice, cloves and cinnamon. Return meat to pot and stir so that all sides of meat are coated.
Bring to a low simmer, cover and cook until meat is very tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir in peas and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Serve over hot egg noodles.

PS: If you order one of the outstanding books above from the Amazon link provided, Sweet Leisure may receive a teeny tiny commission. 

Noodles, Spaetzle, Dumplings and Chicken

Betty Manlin in her eighties.

Betty Manlin

I started reading my mother’s diaries. This is not as intrusive as it sounds as mom (Betty Manlin) wrote them when she was well into her eighties for her kids to read as desired.  When packing her home after she died, I put the diaries in a storage box, only to be found many years later, during Covid lockdown.

The diaries fascinate me—not that they disclosed secrets, but because they offer mini-memories of family cooking.

Maggie Steffen on her wedding day.

Maggie Steffen (Granny)

Mom was a remarkable woman, but a wretched cook. On the other hand, her mother, Maggie Steffen, won kudos for her culinary skills.

Granny lived in rural Missouri on a small family farm. Like other original farm-to-table cooks, she grew vegetables and herbs in a kitchen garden; plucked apples and plums from her backyard orchard; kept a cow for cream and butter; and raised chickens that wandered at will, yielding colorful eggs and flavorful dinners.

I find my mom’s food memories touching, like the one of an old noodle board that she inherited from her mom and describes in her diary here:

Page two of diary

Noodle board diary continued, page 3

Page 5 of Noodle Board diary

Last page of Betty's diary about noodle board

As far as I remember, Granny used similar dough—and her noodle board—to make two kinds of noodles. The dropped version resulted in squiggly dense bites also known as spaetzle.

Spaetzle in a bowl.


She cut her rolled version into various sizes, with the thick, broader cuts also called dumplings.

Keep in mind that Granny didn’t use measurements, so my interpretation of ingredient amounts in the recipes below are “abouts,” to be adjusted as desired.

GRANNY’S DROP NOODLES (Also called Spaetzle)

Yield:  About 6 servings.

3 cups flour


1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 eggs


Butter for serving

To make noodles: put flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Break eggs into the well and then add 1 cup water. With a fork, first beat eggs and water together until blended and then start incorporating flour from the side of the egg mixture. Keep incorporating flour, adding more water, if necessary, to make a smooth, thick moist batter.

Bring a large pot of water or broth to a rapid boil.

Put a portion of the batter on a wooden board. With a sharp knife, cut a sliver from the batter and roll it along the board until it curls into a slender noodle. With the knife, push the noodle into the boiling liquid.

Repeat until all batter has been used.

Collage showing making spaetzle

Noodles are cooked when they rise to the surface of the hot liquid.  (See NOTE.) Transfer hot noodles to a serving dish and toss with a generous amount of butter. Correct seasoning and serve immediately.

NOTE: If not serving immediately, transfer noodles as they are cooked to a bowl filled with cold water. To serve: drain noodles. Melt about 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet, add noodles and toss gently over medium low heat until noodles are hot. If desired, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.


Chicken and spaetzle noodles

Yield: 6 servings.

About 4 cups chicken broth

1-1/2 cups trimmed, peeled carrots that have been cut into thick rounds

1 cup peas

3 cups cooked cubed chicken

Cooked drop noodles from recipe above

Bring broth to a rapid boil. Add carrots and boil until carrots are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Add peas, chicken, noodles, and more broth if necessary to cover all ingredients. Simmer until ingredients are hot throughout and flavors are blended, about 10 minutes.


Chicken and dumplings

Yield:  6 servings.

3 eggs

1/4 cup water

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups flour

5 to 6 cups chicken broth

3 cups cooked chicken, cut into large chunks

2 tablespoons butter

Beat eggs, water and salt together. Add baking powder and 1/2 cup flour and mix well. Stir in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture forms a soft dough. Spread remaining flour on a countertop. Place dough on top of flour and knead lightly for 30 seconds incorporating enough flour to make a smooth soft, but not sticky, dough. Roll dough 1/4-inch thick, turning dough over to coat evenly with flour. Cover with kitchen towel and let dry 30 minutes.

Turn dough over and dry another 30 minutes.

Put dough on board and slice into noodles with a very sharp knife. (Can layer the dough pieces and cut through several sheets at one time. Cut thick or thin, as desired.)

Spread cut noodles out on floured surface, cover with kitchen towel, and let dry another 30 minutes.

Collage of rolling and cutting noodles

Bring broth to a rolling boil in a large saucepan. Pick up handfuls of noodles and shake off excess flour. Drop noodles by handfuls into pot, stirring constantly.

Add chicken to noodles in pot and cook over medium low heat for about 15 minutes, until noodles are tender, but no longer doughy. Stir in butter.



Festive Christmas decor


Gift wrapped in sugar and spice and everything nice, Sweet Leisure

brings you

some sensational,

truly terrific,


downright delicious

recipes that you can make for happy holiday indulging.

Click below for:



Collage of Gifts

Peanut Butter cookies, Hot Cocoa Cake, Coffee Rub, Spiced Pecans, Sponge Candy and Pompelmocello. Click HERE for recipes.

A bowl of dill mustard.

Dill Mustard, click HERE for Recipe.

A cheese board with condiments

Condiments to serve with cheese: Port Wine Sauce, Fig Rum Conserve, and Preserved Kumquats. Click HERE for recipes.


Wedges of Brie and Gorgonzola cheese

Brie and Gorgonzola Torte, click HERE for this special party dish.

Smoked salmon pate decorated with endive and salmon roses.

Smoked Salmon Pate, recipe available HERE.

A bowl of avocado hummus

Avocado Hummus from Farmshop, click HERE for recipe.

A collage of creative cocktails/

Click HERE for Creative Cocktail recipes.


A collage of two soups.

For elegant rich as silk Cream of Brie and Cream of White Bean Soup recipes, click HERE.

A Sugar Baked Holiday Ham on a cutting board.

The Best Ever Sugar Baked Holiday Ham (promise it’s delicious) recipe is HERE.

A Sweet Leisure Cake lit with candles.

An extravagant Sweet Leisure Celebration Cake recipe can be found HERE.

Have yourself a luscious merry Christmas and a scrumptious happy New Year.


Portrait of Barbara Gibbs OstmannBarbara Gibbs Ostmann and I have been friends for so long that I don’t remember how we met. I think it was when she first became food editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sometime in the mid 1970s. She interviewed me about my cooking school for kids and then subsequently hired me to freelance, not only feature articles, but also a column for the newspaper.

Barb stayed at the Post-Dispatch for 16 years filling St. Louis kitchens with wonderful recipes and terrific food advice.

After leaving the Post-Dispatch she worked for the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group and was an assistant professor and coordinator of the Agricultural Journalism program at the University of Missouri. She’s still at it—writing food and travel articles for multitude of publications and editing for different concerns.

Barb was/is the ultimate editor. Through the years she compiled a slew of cookbooks, not only putting together The Best Recipes Cookbook for the Post-Dispatch, but also producing, along with fellow food editor Jane L. Baker, a series of Food Writers Favorites Cookbooks, with subjects that include American regional and local specialties, appetizers, cookies, and grilling.

Cover of The Best Recipes CookbookSome Food Editors' Favorites books

In 1995, Barbara and Jane teamed up to create THE RECIPE WRITER’S HANDBOOK, the quintessential guide giving all the details of everything anyone should know to write a proper recipe. This book is so popular it has been updated and reprinted and belongs in the kitchen of community cookbook contributors, writers, bloggers, restaurant chefs and…well… everyone interested in writing a recipe for others to follow.

Covers from The Recipe Writer's Handbook

Barbara must have a zillion treasured recipes. Asking her to name one favorite is like asking an orchard to choose one favorite apple. Nevertheless, we did ask Barb to share a favorite recipe along with a few words as to why it is a favorite. Here’s her reply and a few photos to illustrate the recipe:


Creamy Cranberry Salad recipe

A bowl cranberries.

Collage of ground cranberries and adding cream

Ground cranberries and adding cream.

Close up of Creamy Cranberry Salad





Phil Mastroianni

Phil Mastroianni

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times. Here was Covid, giving the world lemons and the Mastroianni brothers turning lemons into lemon aid—the kind of aid that helps the soul feel pampered and privileged. We’re talking heavenly booze and divine baked goods. But let me backtrack.

Inspired by a family trip to Italy in 2007 where he sampled a cousin’s homemade limoncello, Phil Mastroianni started making the drink in his parents’ garage in Newton, MA.

As you know, limoncello is a famous Italian liqueur made of lemon zest, sugar and alcohol. Phil’s limoncello earned such praise that a year after his first experiment, the 26-year-old, second-generation Italian American launched a limoncello business, hiring his still-in college brother, Nick, as helper.

a bottle of Fabrizia Limoncello

One thing led to another and soon the brothers were running a full-fledged spirit company.

Then along came Covid. As much of Fabrizia Spirits went to restaurants—and as restaurants were shutting down–the enterprising brothers came up with some zesty ideas to stay in business. They turned to mail order. They started making lemon-based hand sanitizer (of which the brothers donated $50,000 worth to first responders, nursing homes and the like). And best of all to sweet-tooth foodies, they started a baking business base on their extraordinary limoncello.

Today Fabrizia Spirits and The Fabrizia Lemon Baking Company are flourishing and expanding.

Fabrizia Spirits products include such delights as Fabrizia Blood Orange Liqueur, Fabrizia Crema de Limoncello, Vodka Sodas, canned cocktails and, a newbie to the list, Pistachio liqueur.

Products from Fabrizia Spirits

The Fabrizia Lemon Baking Company produces a stunning array of treats. My favorites include cookies as big as saucers, whoopie pies and to-die-for limoncello truffles (rich and gooey cake and icing balls, coated with white chocolate).

Three Fabrizia Lemon Baking Company Products

But of all the lovely products, the original Fabrizia Limoncello still takes first place in the heart of the family, the company and discriminating limoncello fans.

Phil says that he has three favorite ways to enjoy Fabrizia Limoncello. He likes to:

Drink it ice cold straight from the freezer.

And make a FABRIZIA LEMON CRUSH. (Put two parts Fabrizia Limoncello in a cocktail shaker with one part vodka and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Shake ingredients together and pour into a glass over ice. Add a splash of club soda. Garnish with a lemon wedge.)

A tall cool Fabrizia Lemon Crush

Lemon Crush

And last, but by no means least, use it to sauce sea scallops.


(A favorite recipe of Phil Mastroianni)

Yield: 1 to 2 servings.Ingredients to make Fabrizia Limoncello Scallops

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound sea scallops

½ cup Fabrizia Limoncello

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon heavy cream

Put oil in a medium size skillet and set over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add garlic and cook, stirring constantly for about 10 seconds. Stir in lemon zest and salt. Add scallops and sauté about 2 minutes. Turn scallops over and cook until just barely cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer scallops to a serving dish and set aside.

Wipe out skillet with paper towels (see NOTE). Add limoncello to skillet and simmer until volume is reduced by half. Whisk in butter and cream. Pour sauce over scallops and serve immediately.

NOTE: Although the original recipe does not say to do this, after removing scallops from the skillet, I like to reduce any juices left in the pan and then add the limoncello, cream and butter.


Fabrizia Limoncello Scallops



To order bakery goods from Fabrizia Lemon Baking Company, click HERE.  Sweet Leisure readers can use code ‘Susan15’ for a 15% discount on any bakery order.

Some spirits including the famous Fabrizia Limoncello can be ordered online, but not all products can be mailed to all states. Click HERE for more information. 

Some spirit are available in some retail stores—but these are also relegated to a few states. To find a store near you that sells Fabrizia products, click HERE.

A basket full of lemons.