I love to cook... it is my first love. I like simple recipes based on proportions – 2 parts of this, 1 part of that and so on. It makes it easy to remember. Here you’ll find my personal recipes are for big batches, and save some for the future or share some with friends (or both!) You can scale them up or scale them down to suit your needs.
Enjoy with friend and family!
~ Ruth Stroup 'The Insurance Lady'
OAKLAND'S MAPLE OATMEAL
WINTER FRUIT COMPOTE
RUTH'S BRUSSEL SPROUTS
Ruth's CRANBERRY SAUCE
Try these ideas for how to keep eating cranberries, after December:
- Turkey sandwich for lunch
- Condiment for Mac & Cheese (yum)
- Added to Chicken Salad
- Mix with a vinaigrette dressing for green salad
- Mix into bread pudding (whoa)
- Condiment for French Toast, Pancakes or Waffles
- Add some to your apple pie or crisp
- Add to a smoothie or add some to plain yogurt
- Mix with grain salad (quinoa, faro, brown rice)
- Mix with cream cheese for your bagels (ohh yeah)
What’s your favorite way to eat Cranberry Sauce?
Ruth's Mashed Potatoes
What is it about mashed potatoes that we love so much? We have running arguments about smooth or lumpy, the best kind of potato to use, to make them “skinny” with chicken broth or rich with heavy cream. In all cases, they are comforting and warm. They reheat well in a microwave or oven so in my book, they are worth the trouble of making from scratch (not a mix, not frozen). I like to prepare larger batches so there’s enough for leftovers.
How do you love to eat potatoes?
FEATURE YOUR RECIPE HERE
We would love to feature your recipes here. Please send us your favorite holiday or family dishes and we will add it here and feature it on our social media channels. Thanks for sharing and enjoying!
Ruth's Cooking Philosophy
Thoughts about ingredients including seasonings and spices
When people ask me for recipes, I must admit that I rarely use them. Sure, I eyeball measurements; I pay attention to flavors go together; and I have some great basic cooking tools. I can even write down what’s in the dish. When I share a “recipe”, I’m ultimately talking about sourcing ingredients and teaching a few cooking techniques. And it’s my belief that the quality of the ingredients make a huge difference in the quality of the completed dish. This is especially true when it comes to herbs, spices and salt.
I prefer recipes with a few humble ingredients. Ones that are not too fussy, that require only a few steps. Dishes that don’t need a lot of spices. I typically start with salt and pepper, add fresh herbs, and use spices sparingly. Some dishes, though, are all about the spices: curries, chili, barbeque to name a few, and for these preparations, if you have limited cooking experience, budget or storage – there are some great spice blends available to simplify your shopping and food preparation.
We are so lucky in the Bay Area to have access to high quality herbs and spices. You may have to search them out a bit. I look for stores that move their inventory (no dust on the jars or packets). I look for brands that allow me to buy in small quantities. And I love shops where I can get a few cooking tips.
What much do spices cost? How many do I need?
Based on your preferences, you’ll have some “go-to” seasonings. My favorites for savory dishes are salt, black pepper, thyme, bay leaves and Dijon mustard. For sweet dishes, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla.
Here are a few of my spice tips:
- Storing spices – a cool dark place near the stove for easy access
- Buying spices – buy only as you need. You can build up and replenish your spice pantry over time.
- Grinding spices – for freshness, I prefer whole spices, sometimes raw, sometimes toasted. When using whole spices, you’ll need tools to grind them. In the past, I used a coffee grinder, but today I use a Magic Bullet. The one exception is grinding pepper – for this I like to use a pepper mill. My favorite is the Pepper Mate because it has a container that captures the ground spices so you know how much you are using. I also love my Rasp for grating spices like ginger, lemon zest and nutmeg.
- Salt – I prefer Kosher Salt and Sea Salt. Regular table salt has additives to prevent clumping that I can taste. And the salt is ground very finely making it easy to over salt. Kosher salt is “pure” 100% salt with a clean taste, and it has a course texture making it less salty by volume. Sea salt has a taste of “terroir” or place – some more pronounced than others. It’s also the saltiest by volume so you need to use it sparingly.
As I see it, the most precious (aka expensive) ingredient in any recipe is time: time to plan and shop, time to prep and cook, time to tidy up your space and to set the table. If, like me, you have limited time for cooking, I encourage you to make the most of it. And that’s why the quality of the ingredients, especially the seasonings, is so important to me.
How cooking makes ME A better Insurance Agent
Cooks are a rough and tumble lot. We work long hours in adverse conditions – sometimes too hot, others very cold. We solve problems on the fly: Essential ingredients that are suddenly unavailable, food that’s accidentally forgotten and gets burned, a co-worker who gets injured and can’t finish their shift. We do it by working together. We tell stories. We get through it with grit and creativity and a sense of humor. And while my days as an insurance agent are now spent more with computers and telephones than fryers and slicers, it’s that grit, creativity and sense of humor I developed as a cook that make it possible to do this job. The employee who calls in sick while another one is on vacation leaving us with barely enough staff to keep up with the incoming phone and online requests. The client who calls to file a claim while I’m focused on preparing big presentation to land a new account. The new homeowner who needs a policy to close escrow, but the roof needs to be replaced and insurance companies don’t like that. The bill that went up dramatically when someone’s teenager gets added to the policy. The challenges are constant, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because it’s on these days where I feel like I’m really helping people. And that’s what I love most about being an insurance agent.
~ Ruth Stroup
PS- When in town, pop by for lunch!