All posts by peacocksbookswritingsandrecipes

My grandfather, Anastasios Kavadas, born March 3, 1893 in Vathi, Lefkado Greece, came to America for the first time at the age of 14 as a stowaway. After a short time, he returned to Greece. Later on he came back to America on the TSS Themistocles from the Port of Patras. The ship landed at Ellis Island February 24, 1912. He simplified his name to Thomas Robert, and eventually made his way to Dixon, Illinois. Grandpa operated Tom's Shoe Shop in Dixon before he became a restaurateur. He owned several restaurants, two of which were the Chuckwagon and Villa Cafe. His baked chicken was the best. People would come from Lasalle and Peru Illinois on a Friday night just to eat his fish fry. My family are all into fishing for fresh fish still today. I loved the Chuckwagon, which was directly across from the train depot. My mom and us kids lived above the restaurant where Grandpa Tom gave her a job as a cook.Today they would have been called, chefs.The restaurant was my playground. Even though I was only about nine, I loved serving the customers and eating special foods my grandpa prepared for me. In the back was a special butcher shop where they prepared all their own meats. Food hasn't tasted the same since he passed away. One of the favorite special drinks Grandpa made for the grandkids was Nesbitt Orange Grapette sodas. I can't imagine drinking that now.

Faded Memories by Roxe Anne Peacock

Memories are created in happy times and bad
Remembering is a gift as well as communication,

When the thoughts fade away
There isn't the knowledge to say,

Please comfort me in this loss of time
To ask you to hold me, sit by my side
While I slowly die inside,

You may put me in a nursing home
Please don't come and watch me
I would rather be left alone,

For I won't remember you
Or my beloved family and home,

I don't want the burden to be yours
It should be mine alone.

Dedicated to all who have known or been affected by family or friends with Alzheimer's or dementia.

Love at First Glance

He sat on the dock watching the sunset descend behind the tall pine trees across the lake. Waves slapped the dock as boats passed by, creating a slight breeze.

It had been forty-seven years ago today that he had proposed to his wife, Maureen. She had spread out a red and white checkered tablecloth, two wine glasses, napkins, and plates from her wicker picnic basket. Sal could smell the feast she had prepared before she set it before him: fried chicken, cole slaw, biscuits, homemade jam, and her prize winning fresh baked peach pie.

The first time Sal met Maureen was at the spring dance. She was dancing with another local boy from the county. Her smile lit up the room. All eyes were upon the couple on the dance floor, including his. Her auburn hair cascaded over her shoulders, swaying as the couple moved to the music. Then she turned toward him, her hazel eyes sparkling, giving him a quick nod. He hadn’t planned on dancing, but he wasn’t going to let this gal go. He knew from the moment his eyes met hers, she would be his forever. It was love at first sight.

The couple spent every free hour together for the next two weeks. Sal was mesmerized by her every word, move. Even though they hadn’t been together long, he knew they would spend a lifetime together. He asked her father if he could have Maureen’s hand in marriage.

The next year, they had their first of three children and couldn’t be happier. Sal had a great job at the local sawmill and they were building their first home. Maureen would  be at the front door waiting for him to return from work each night, giving him a kiss before he entered. When he walked through the door, the aromas of a home cooked meal filled his heart knowing they were cooked with love.

Their life together was filled with family, three wonderful children and grandkids. Sal had retired a few years back. The days were now spent rocking in their chairs on the front porch watching vehicles drive past. It was difficult going to town, the children’s homes, or to the diner. Maureen could no longer cook meals. Her memory had been fading slowly and was now to the point where she didn’t know who Sal was most days. It wouldn’t be long before he could no longer care for her properly. She would have to be placed in the local nursing home.

Sal would go to the nursing home each day and sit by Maureen’s side, holding her hand when she would let him. Often, she thought he was a doctor or another patient. She didn’t know the kids anymore. Then cancer struck. It wasn’t long before she passed. They had a discussion about how each wanted to be buried or cremated many years prior. Sal honored her wishes.

He continued watching the sunset for a bit longer, still reminiscing. He poured himself a glass of red wine and watched a young couple row a boat toward him, laughing and smiling at each other. Sal reached into the picnic basket and gently lifted out the urn. Tears flowed down his cheeks as he kissed the outside, opened the lid, and let the ashes slide out into the lake. He whispered, “It won’t be long now before we are together again my sweet love.”


Roxe Anne Peacock

This story is dedicated to all who have been affected by a loved one with this debilitating disease. My grandmother, all her siblings, cousins, and her children, including my mother, Dorothy, had Alzheimer’s. I have one aunt still living in a nursing home. It is a difficult time for all watching her go through this disease.


Greek Pasta Salad

Serves: 6


1 (12 ounce) package falafel, cooked as directed on the package
1 (10 ounce) package fresh spinach, torn into bite size pieces with excess stems removed
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3/4 cup Kalamata olives
Grated parmesan reggiano cheese, optional

Cook the falafel as directed on the package. Drain hot liquid in a colander. Rinse the pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process. Place the cooked and cooled pasta in a large bowl.

Greek Dressing


1 teaspoon dried basil
1 small shallot, chopped fine
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground lemon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

While the pasta is cooking, combine the dressing ingredients in a medium bow and mix well. 

Mix the dressing with the cooled pasta in a large bowl. Gently toss the torn spinach pieces, cherry tomatoes, and Kalamata olives with the pasta mixture. Cover and chill. 

Top with freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese if desired. 

Note: Fresh herbs would create more depth but use less amounts than ground.

This recipe is in Smokin' Good Eats.

Chocolate Bourbon Cake with Ganache Icing

Makes 9 servings
Oven temperature: 350 degrees F.
Baking time: 30-40 minutes


1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup chocolate flavored coffee, cooled to room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature and slightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons good bourbon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional, but goes great)

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cayenne, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, sugar, and brown sugar together thoroughly.

Whisk the bourbon in the cup of cold coffee. Add the coffee mixture, buttermilk, slightly beaten eggs and oil to the dry ingredients and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.

In the meantime, cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit inside the bottoms of two 8-inch square greased and floured pans. Grease the tops of the parchment paper. Lay the parchment paper over the bottoms of the pans.

Lightly drop the pans on the counter a few times to remove the air bubbles. Pour the cake batter equally between the two prepared pans.

Place the cake pans in a preheated 350 degree F. oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a cake plate larger than the prepared cakes. Ice with chocolate ganache icing. Serve immediately. Carefully cover the remainder of the cake and store in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Ganache Icing


1 (12 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 ounces heavy cream
1 tablespoon good bourbon

Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl.

Heat the cream in a medium saucepan just until the cream begins to boil. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate chips, cover for 5 minutes.

The chocolate chips should be melting. Whisk the cream, bourbon, and chocolate chips until the mixture becomes shiny. Let the chocolate mixture cool to room temperature before icing the cakes.

If the chocolate icing begins to get thick, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for a few seconds to soften.
Ice the bottom of one of the cooled cakes. Carefully place the second cake on top of the icing. Ice the top and sides. Enjoy!

This recipe is from Smokin' Good Eats.

Cucumber Sandwiches


Good solid bread
Fresh cucumbers, washed (keep peel on)
Small green bell peppers, washed, stem and seeds removed
Large eggs, boiled and peeled
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Wash cucumber and green pepper, pat dry and then thinly slice them. Take good fresh bread and remove the crust. Take a wine glass or round biscuit cutter and cut out circles of the bread. Spread the bread with mayonnaise. Place a green pepper on the mayonnaise and add a thin slice of cucumber in the middle. Slice the boiled eggs and top each cucumber with an egg slice. Salt and pepper to taste. You can grate the boiled eggs or add a thin radish slice instead of the egg. This recipe is great for teas and Civil War balls.

This recipe can be found in History Lover's Cookbook.

Lemon Butter

Double Boiler


1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 large eggs, well beaten
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Mix the sugar and eggs together. Slowly add the cooled melted butter and lemon juice. Place in a double boiler and cook on medium-low heat. Stir the ingredients continuously for about 20 minutes or until creamy. Place in the refrigerator to cool. Nice for a picnic, pound cake, bread or gifts. makes approximately 1 cup.

This recipe is from History Lover's Cookbook.