Into the Garden to Settle My Soul

I was recently asked if I was planning a vacation this summer. No; I have precious few days left that I can take off from work. That being said, every evening is a mini vacation as I step into the garden. The sunflowers are coming along and the cosmos have begun to bud. Fresh picked squash. Zucchini bread just pulled from the oven. The Patriotic Pumpkin Patch is promising for autumn picking. I’ve seen a meme that goes something like ‘Into the garden I go to lose my mind and find my soul’. I don’t lose my mind, but the garden does settle my soul.

We lost our mother in April and learning to live without her is so new and, really, I don’t have adequate words to describe what it feels like.

As a very young woman, I went from my mother’s home to being newlywed and running my own. A wife, a mother, and kids almost all grown and on their own, I found myself divorced 30 years later. Back to Mama I went, which was good for both of us. Her health declined and I took care of her the best I knew how. Now, she’s gone. I don’t have anyone I need to tell my plans to. There is no one I need to consider, but myself. For us women, that is a foreign concept. I remind myself that it is perfectly fine to pick up and go at a moments notice. It’s kind of freeing, but also daunting.

I spent the spring at the ballfields, watching grandchildren play. That was nice, as in recent years I had missed a lot of their activities because Mama needed me. Suppers for one. Light laundry duty. Just Marigold for company in the evenings. I catch myself thinking, “When I get home, Mama will get a kick out of what happened at the grocery store.” But a second later, a sadness washes over my soul. Mama’s in heaven, not at my house. Then I think of all the joy she is experiencing in her new body and that Saint Peter is probably trying to rein in Mama and her three sisters. Man, did they have fun together on earth; in heaven- unrestrained elation!

So, into my garden I go almost each evening to pittle, to weed, to harvest. And my soul is settled.

But I still miss my Mama.



Have You Ever Seen a Bloodhound Pout?

Miss Marigold was at her food dish, when she realized her favorite person had gone out to get on the tractor. She stretched herself between the kitchen and dining room doorway and threw her soulful eyes at me. But I had just sat down with my cup of coffee and made her wait. Spoiled? Just a bit.

It’s strawberry season, so a pie is on tonight’s menu. Lemon Strawberry Pie. Put this recipe under refrigerator pies and Sunday dinner favorites. Also, it’s just in time for your Easter celebration.

Here’s what to do:

In a big mixing bowl whip up a small carton of heavy whipping cream… (what else does one do with whipping cream?). I added a 1/3 cup of sugar, a little salt and vanilla.

Once nice a fluffy, add the zest of one lemon, the juice of the same lemon and a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Mix all of that together, then add in a generous cup of fresh strawberries that have been washed, capped, sliced and lightly sweetened with a little sugar. I prepared my strawberries the night before, because this step is the most time consuming of this recipe. Slowly let the mixer incorporate the strawberries into the whipped mixture. Next, pour into a graham cracker crust.

I just used a store bought crust, but if you’re industrious enough to make your own, go for it!

Decorate the top of your pie with strawberry slices, if you wish. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and chill in the frig a few hours before serving.

George in the background, with that spoiled bloodhound Marigold.

The local Piggly Wiggly had some springy candies, so I bought Jordan Almonds and Gelly Frogs. They’re gilding the lily of my strawberry pie stand. Try this for Easter dessert.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen and spoiled Marigold.

What I’ve Accomplished Lately

It feels like I haven’t accomplished much on my old farmhouse, lately. However, a few pictures taken from the past and present, reminds me that slow progress is still progress.

I’m calling it the kitchen bedroom, because the space was the original kitchen – dark and depressing and far away from the rest of the house. You know, I had the new kitchen moved to a huge room that sat in the middle of the house. This bedroom is not finished, but it’s getting there. Much brighter and inviting than all that dark, ugly brown paint.

We had an impromptu party Friday afternoon and a toilet seat needed to be replaced in my mother’s bathroom. I did it. I went to the big box store, bought the nearly $60 seat, brought it home, read the directions to install it and boom! New toilet for company. Yay, Me!

It’s the last night of winter. What could be more comforting than homemade mac-n-cheese, on a cold night? Yes, fixing supper is an accomplishment.

Recent pics taken around my property. Pots planted in day lilies, gladiolus, herbs. (Covered tonight, as the temps drop to the 20’s) Yellow flag iris herald spring. The old mailbox standing guard next to singing wisteria. And Miss Marigold enjoying the afternoon.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen

Apple Cake Perfection

This apple cake recipe is the best goodie I’ve baked up in a while. Using fresh apples, this cake is super moist and perfect for an afternoon break.

Apple Cake Perfection


3/4 cup con oil

2 eggs

1 and 2/3 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups apples that have been peeled and diced

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 10×10 (inches) pan and line with parchment paper.

What do:

In an electic mixer or with a hand mixer, combine the oil and eggs. Then add in the sugar and vanilla.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, soda and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. This batter is quite thick. Don’t worry. Next, fold in the diced apples. The apples will give the cake batter more moisture.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and spread to the corners. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool and cut into 16 squares.

The top of this apple cake has a crunchy top. I used Honey Crisp apples and didn’t diced them finely. I like a little chunk in my apple cake. If you would like to add chopped walnuts, go for it.

Crunchy top and chunks of apples

Take a break Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I’m mad at myself. I overspent at the grocery store last week; easy to do, in this economy. When I got home and started putting things away, I saw that I had bought items I already had. So, yesterday I cleaned and organized the pantry. Three jars of peanut butter – two were opened. A partial bag of chocolate chips left over from Christmas baking.  Hmmmm. Three overripe bananas had been trying to get my attention for a few days. The following recipe redeems my lack of pantry diligence.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


1/4 cup salted butter

2 tablespoons honey

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3 smashed bananas

2 heaping tablespoons peanut natural butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips

What to do:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a square baking pan with parchment and grease. In a mdium bowl, mix the first 7 ingredients. In a larger bowl, sift flour, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add rolled oats and chocolate chips. Then add in peanut butter, banana mixture to flour and oats. Don’t over stir, just incorporate it well.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes. Cool and cut and, as always,

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Crispy Apple Skins

Let’s face it, money is tight. I look for any way to say a dime. Crispy Apple Skins are a byproduct of Fried Apples, which is one of my mother’s favorites. Throwing the apple peelings away seemed wasteful. I don’t have a dehydrator, but I do have a fabulous oven. Spread out on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and baked at 250° for two hours, the apple skins become chip-like. Turn off the oven and let them cool completely. Naturally sweet. My favorite apples to use are Honey Crisp. I’ve also used the peelings of Anjou pears; they’re good too. And what do I do with the crispy apple skins? Mostly I break them up into homemade granola. They could be added to oatmeal or a muffin recipe. Let your children imagination go nuts.

To make fried apples, peel a couple of apples and slice them into saute pan. Add a couple of pats of butter, a generous squeeze of honey and a good dash of cinnamon. Stir around till the butter melts. Then pour a 1/4 cup of water over the apples. Cover the pan and cook over medium/low fire, till the apples are tender.

Dime pinching blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Christmas Chocolate Ribbon Coffee Cake

Simple to make, with ingredients you probably already have on hand Chocolate Ribbon Coffee Cake great for Christmas morning. Enjoy with your favorite hot beverage and those you love.

Christmas Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

I Hated the Lady Catherine

Spare the rod and spoil the child.

I will attribute the following parenting advice to James Dobson, though it may have been another psychologist: when disciplining your child, use an inanimate object. Your hands should only being used in a gentle, loving touch.

Not my mother’s, but a picture of one like it. Really, I don’t know what happened to it.

My mother’s instrument of correction was a white, melamine hair brush, made by the Fuller Brush Company- it had a matching comb. They gave it the name Lady Catherine. Long gone these many years, I can still see it resting on the green tiled, bathroom counter. I hated that hairbrush.

Now, Mama used the Lady Catherine to brush our hair, of course. My hair was really thick, when I was a girl; it would tangle easily, but the Lady Catherine was employed to straighten things out. And I’d better not squirm, because I’d get a tap on my butt and an admonishment that it hurts to be beautiful. I would tell her that I didn’t want to be beautiful, if it meant pain… Any way, my mother would brush out my light brown hair that hung half way down my back, take the huge white comb, part my hair from brow to nape and make two 70’s pony tails. She then when would declare me beautimous and send me down the driveway to wait for the school bus.

Mama also used the molded, white, melamine brush with a chip on one corner of the handle to straighten out poor attitudes. Childhood shopping trips were prepped by a simple, little swat on the backside, along with a promise that if we misbehaved in town that a true spanking would be given, when we got home. We marched like little clockwork soldiers, while in public.

My cousin Gretchen was spending a weekend with us and Mama was going to take us shopping or to the movies, somewhere. I don’t remember. What I do remember is Gretchen standing in the bathroom door laughing at my brother and I as we got a warning swat from Lady Catherine. Mama looked at her niece and gestured for her to present herself. Gretchen’s eyes got wide with the realization that she would not be excluded from the swat-before-leaving-the-house.

“Aunt Madoline! You’re not going to whip me. I haven’t done anything.”

“I know you haven’t done anything, Gretchen. I’m not whipping you, this is just a little reminder to behave in town.”

Gretchen got the swat and Mama had three well-behaved children in town. But whenever asked if she wanted to come visit, Gretchen would always wanted to know if we would be going anywhere….

The white melamine hairbrush disappeared. Honestly, I don’t know what happened to it. Maybe one of the floods swept it away. Maybe it started losing bristles. All I know is that it vanished

What did last was the discipline of my mother. Was her method extreme? I don’t think so. It didn’t hurt us. I hated it as a kid. But I see now that Mama did it because she loved us enough to correct us. Though some of you reading this are probably appalled, but as I shop as an adult, I see many young children who could benefit from my mother’s method.

Did I employ the swat-before-leaving-the-house method? Occasionally. Also the reward and praise for good behavior. Both are good for rearing well behaved, well adjusted citizens.


Food Related Things My Mother Told Me Growing Up

There are words in the back of my mind, usually accompanied with the sound of my mother’s voice. From the time I was little, these admonishments and pleadings and rules of how to be come popping up like bubbles in a pan of hot boiling water. They make me smile.

The first I remember was, “Just take two bites, Amanda.” Followed by, “How do you know until you try it?” There had probably been something green on my plate. I hated vegetables as a kid. Now a few decades later, ahem, I pour over gardening catalogues that arrive in January and start planning my vegetable plot for spring. There are 3 different types of turnip seed on the ktchen table waiting to be planted now. A draught this late summer has prevented the ground being broken, but a good rain yesterday should help. The point? I love vegetables now. My 3 year old self, nope.

The second food related thing I remember is about coffee. My family, on both sides, have always been big coffee drinkers. I remember being little and seeing my mother and her sisters having coffee. I asked for a cup and was told, “You are too little for coffee.” I begged again and Mama said, with a wink at her sisters, ” You’re too little, coffee will turn your ears black.”

“Your ears aren’t black,” I reasoned.

“That’s because we’re grown-ups, ” Mama explained.

I didn’t drink coffee till I turned fifty. And I’ve made up for all those lost cups through the years.

The third food related directive was to eat the slightly over cooked whatever was put on my plate. My daddy once said that my mother was the only person he knew who would serve burnt sausage. My oldest brother piped up and said, “Aunt Gayle does too.” Daddy replied, “That figures.” Mama and Aunt Gayle were identical twins. Figures…

So, I was told to eat the occasionally burnt sausage, toast, pork chop, with the promise that it would make me pretty. Dubious as to whether or not that would really happen, I asked, “Did you eat burnt toast?”

“Do you think I’m pretty?” she answered back.


“Well, then eat your toast.” Waste not, want not.

The forth food related thing my mother taught me was to never return a dish empty. If someone was kind enough to bring a homemade goodie it’s a good thing to reciprocate. Years ago, when I was a young mother, the neighbor lady called and said she had been baking and had muffins for my boys. We enjoyed her baked goods and a few days later I returned her pan with something that I had baked. She was surprised at my offering and I explained my mother’s take on returning dishes. And then the game of baked goods tag began. She sent more muffins. I sent back cookies. The last time she showed up at the front door, handed me the pan filled with goodies and said, “Keep the pan, I don’t want it back.” Maybe just a thank you note would have sufficed.

The fifth related food thing was born out of pure kindness. When you’re invited to someone’s home, eat whatever is offered. No matter how humble or poorly seasoned or whatever, eat it. They did their best and opened their home to you. Be gracious.

The sixth thing Mama taught me, but only after taking months clearing out cabinets and cupboards before her house was sold. I found beautiful dishes and serving pieces hidden away. So, folks, use the pretty dishes. Life needs beauty. Life needs connection to who we are. Use Grandma’s dishes.

Just some thoughts and rememberings of simple things that shape adulthood.

Blessings form the Exile’s Kitchen.

Stuff In My Ice Cream

A new grocery store had their grand opening last week and, well, you know I had to go see. At the suggestion of one of the store managers I purchased a half gallon of Blue Bell ice cream. It was on sale, you see. Otherwise, the carton of creamy goodness would have been left in the stores freezer section.

Anyway, fast forward to Saturday and the LSU football game. Dismal to say the least. Frankly, and this is just my opinion, but Brian Kelly is out of his league. The game was bad, really bad. To cope through the second half, I fixed my self a Blue Bell ice cream cone and stuffed an oatmeal, chocolate chip, raisin cookie down in the top of it.

The ice cream cone was good, but the game left a bitter taste in my mouth. I love the Tigers, but they are hard to watch this year.

Today, during the Saints game, after a grilled ham and cheese sandwich another ice cream cone was desired. Today, I decided on a homemade chocolate peanut butter bomb for the decoration.

Here’s what to do: heat in the microwave for 30 seconnds 3 tablespoons coconut oil, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons peanut butter powder, 3 tablespoons agave syrup, splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Stir everything till smooth. Line muffin tin cups with paper liners. Spoon mixture evenly between 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle with jimmies or chopped peanuts, if you choose. Chill in the frig till firm. Store in an air tight container in the frig.

The seasons are changing. Another little scarecrow hopped on the small yellow bike out in the field. A bouquet of goldenrod, sasanquas and cosmos were picked after that pitiful LSU game.

Blessings for your changing seasons from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Spiced Shortbread

It’s the last Sunday in August and you know what that means; pumpkin spice everything is around the corner. I refuse to call these pumpkin spice shortbread, but the taste is similar.

Here’s what you need and what to do:

Turn oven to 325° and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the following spices together in a small dish and set aside.

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

In a stand mixer (or a big bowl and using a hand mixer), cream together softened butter and confectioner’s sugar.

1 1/4 cups softened butter

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Add the all-purpose flour in thirds, slowly, so as not to make a mess and incorporate it for a smooth texture. With the last 1/3 of the flour, add 2/3 of the spice mixture.

2 1/4 all-purpose flour

2/3 of the spice mixture, reserve the rest for the last step.

Make cookie balls, about the size of a ping pong ball and place on cookie sheet, leaving space so edges don’t touch. Taking a small glass, gently smush the cookie ball, making a pretty indention. Bake for 12/15 minutes, till cookies are lightly brown. Cool slightly. In the same dish of reserved spices add a couple of tablespoons confectioner’s sugar. Toss warm cookies in the spiced sugar and cool on wire racks. Makes about 30 cookies. Serve with your favorite beverage. I have a creamered up cup of coffee, but as muggy as it is, iced tea would be great. Please, no hot cocoa. This is the South and we won’t cool down for several more weeks. Pumpkin spice, my eye!

I was excited the other week, when I spied this volunteer vine growing in Herman’s flower patch. It looked like a pumpkin vine of some kind, but it’s made these little tiny melon fruits. A mouse melon, a cucamelon, a sour cucumber. I don’t know. Kind of disappointed it’s not a little pumpkin. It’s feeding the wildlife around here, because the fruit I saw last week are gone. The tortoises and the rabbits may be dining together.

Blessings from Herman’s flower patch and the Exile’s Kitchen.

Different Yet the Same

The elephant cream pitcher in two different kitchen window sills and different flowers. Still charming. She’s a favorite to display a few blooms each summer. This morning only two Mardi Gras Zinnias and a fresh sprig on Sweet Basil. Along with her are miscellaneous green and gold La SoLana cream and sugar sets, that were left in the old kitchen of my old farmhouse.

The first picture was taken at my mother’s former house. The second at Flowers Proper. Difused light from the sunporch. I like it.

Sunday Blessings

Round Flowers in Cornered Vases

Easy breakfast to use up miscellaneous kitchen stuffs- a little rolled oats, 1/2 a boxed cake mix, bananas going bad, less than a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

Here’s what you need and do:

Preheat oven to 350° and spritz a square 9×9 pan with vegetable spray.

In bowl, mix the following ingredients.

1/2 cup yellow cake mix

1/2 cup rolled oats

nutmeg and ginger– a dash of each

1/2 cup chocolate chips

In another bowl mix together:

2 bananas going really ripe

1 serving cup Oikos Greek Pineapple yogurt

1 egg

a generous splash of vanilla

1/3 cup white sugar

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Pour batter into prepared pan and place in oven. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, the top is golden. Cool slightly and dust with powdered sugar, if you wish.

Saturday morning, an assortment of square vases were filled with lots of round flowers and the arrangements sent to different areas of the house.

Saturday Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.


The bicycles had been hidden in the barn shadows for decades. An idea to use them in the garden grew in my mind, but the fear of snakes, rodents and buzzards left them there. Well, as a surprise a few weeks back, my sons braved the afore mentioned and wheeled them into the sunlight. Cans of bright spray paint and festoonery from the big craft store and the old bikes are all summered up.

The bikes are rolling between flower swaths that are planted with wildflowers. Hopefully what was planted will be blooming later this summer.

Early this morning I dead headed spent blooms and picked those in between bud and throwaway stages, to make this bodacious boots bouquet.
Herman got a body makeover and is waiting on his friends for a bike ride. Stay tuned.

Summer Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

My Weekend In Pictures/ Mother’s Day

I worked the flower patch and vegetable garden Saturday morning. Looking down the rows of potatoes, the red dots on the leaves at first looked like ladybugs. A second look brought panic. Potato beetle larvae were devouring the leaves of my red potatoes and white. A quick jaunt back to the house for a can of Sevin dust, a generous sprinkle, and I’m happy to say they are gone this afternoon.

Using my horseshoe hoe, I weeded the rows of vegetables and cut flowers. Hopefully by the first week of June I’ll have bouquets ready for market. Three years ago I gave up the traditional dirt free furrows between garden rows and got smart. I widened the distance from row to row and grow lovely grass paths. They make it nice for walking, whether dry or wet.

Green beans and squash are blooming, corn needs rain. But as the forecast calls for little to no precipitation this coming week, I’ll be packing water to the garden.

Saturday afternoon was spent making mayhaw jelly. You know it’s my favorite.And Then The Murders Began

A cup of juice, not used for jelly, was turned into a tasty barbecue sauce for leg quarters. My youngest son manned the grill today and Mother’s Day dinner was fabulous.

Here’s the recipe:

In a small pot, melt a 1/2 stick of butter over medium heat. Add in a scant 1/3 cup of honey and 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard. To this mixture, stir in 1/2 cup brown sugar. Add a few dashes of worchestershire. Mix with a whisk till smooth. Turn the heat down to simmer and add in 1 cup of mayhaw juice. Now keep it on a low simmer for about an hour, stirring every few minutes so it doesn’t burn. It will thicken and turn a rich reddish brown. Cool and put in a jar till ready to use.

Dessert was chocolate cake with mint chocolate icing. And yes, we used the good dishes. Use the Pretty Dishes

Mother’s Day Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

One More Peep

One more Peep or rather a whole table full. Yes, I thumbed around social media, by putting two words together to see what would pop up. Those two words: Peeps and charcuterie. Beautiful, color-filled treet trays and things called grazing tables appeared on my tablet screen. Yes, after posting my video on a social media site and calling my gathering of baked goods and candies a charcuterie board, I was informed that I had not made what I thought I had. Charcuterie started out being all about meats, particularly pork. Maybe I should have thrown some of the Easter ham next to the Sixlets. One person told me it was just a dessert display. Okay, whatever. So, Pinterest and I stand corrected. But what to call it? I didn’t like the term grazing table. A dessert pick? Someone said I should call it a char-Cute-rie Board. I liked that and accept the compliment.

Anyway, here’s how the whatever it is turned out. And my Easter company enjoyed it.

Happy Easter. The tomb is empty.

Peep Season

A collection of my recent coffees and Peeps. I love Peep Season. Have you tried it yet? You should.

Here’s what to do:

Brew your favorite cup of coffee flavor. Stir in any sweetener and cream you choose. And then, drop in your favorite Peeps. Some of the above cups are also my version of an Affogato. Yeah, coffee, ice cream and Peeps; the trifecta of beverage delight.

Blessings to you. Also, enjoy a stroll through the azaleas.

My own personal azalea trail.

Quick Luncheon Dessert

Here’s a recipe to impress your next guests: Cherry Tartlet. This makes two, cut into four slices each. Simple, minimal ingredients, big on taste and presentation.


1 box of refrigerated pie crust- 2 to a box

1 big can of cherry pie filling

a couple of tablespoons cinnamon sugar

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

a generous splash of lemon juice

1 Land-O-Lakes creamer cup or a small splash of half-and-half

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Next open the pie crusts and roll it out. And pop the top on the cherry pie filling. Spoon half the pie filling over the lower portion of pie crust.

Fold over the top portion of pie crust and crimp edges closed with a fork. And make vent holes in a pretty pattern over the top of the tartlet.

Make the second tartlet the same way and place on the parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle both with the cinnamon sugar.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes, give or take, till nice and golden. Cool slightly. In a small bowl, mix the confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice and half-and-half for a glaze. Drizzle over each tartlet.

Cut each tartlet into 4 wedges and serve on your prettiest plates. You won’t need forks to eat this, but if you prefer, grab a fork. I did call it a luncheon dessert, after all. Ice cream on the side would be tasty with this tartlet and any pie filling — your choice.

Today is the last day of winter. Potatoes, carrots and onions planted in the potager are popping up. The azaleas will be in full bloom in about a week. Two of my sons broke ground on the big vegetable/cutting garden last Saturday. And there’s a lovely bee garden sweeping through the back yard.

Blessings for a a beautiful spring where you are.

Chocolate Crunch Bars

Light, crispy and chocolaty these bars are easy to make. They are kind of like a traditional marshmallow crispy rice treat, but not as chewy or dense. No soy, natural peanut butter, allergen free chocolate chips, put this recipe in the good for you category.


1 10 ounce package Nestlé Toll House chocolate chips

2 tablespoons Smucker’s Natural peanut butter

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 cups rice cereal

1 cup mini marshmallows

What to do:

In a large microwavable bowl, melt first three ingredients till just melted. Stir smooth and fold in the rice cereal and marshmallows. Pour mixture onto a large parchment lined cookie sheet and chill in the frig for an hour. When the chocolate has set up cut into bars. Store in an air tight container in the frig. Makes about 2 dozen.

I’m enjoying my chocolate crunch bars with a mug of lemon, ginger tea. Like my mug? It’s locally made: Beacham Hill Pottery from Magnolia, Mississippi.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

One More Cookie Recipe

Playing in the kitchen this afternoon, I really wanted to make peanut butter fudge, but the milk was out of date. A search through the pantry found no canned milk. An experiment was in order and Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies was whipped up.


1 cup butter

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated white sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Colored sprinkles, about 1/2 cup

A couple tablespoons extra granulated white sugar

1/2 cup or so of powdered sugar

What to do:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixer bowl, combine butters and sugars, till fluffy. Add in the all-purpose flour and mix on low speed at first, then increase the speed till everything is incorporated and the dough forms a ball.

Divide the dough in half. Wrap one half in parchment and keep in the freezer for another day. Roll the other half into 1 inch balls. Pour sprinkles in a shallow dish and roll the dough balls in the sprinkles. Place sprinkle coated balls 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheets. Dip a small glass dipped in the granulated sugar and flatten each cookie ball. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool slightly, then roll each warm cookie in the powdered sugar.

This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies. They are crispy and have a great flavor. I used red and green sprinkles, because it’s Christmas time, but you could change it up depending on the season.

With Christmas on a Saturday this year, it gave me an extra day off from work. Cookies and coffee this afternoon were a welcomed pause; a little respite to sit and reflect.

Blessings for a sweet Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Orange Slice Fudge

We honored my mother this weekend, with a big party to celebrate her 85th birthday. Love you, Mama.

One of my mother’s favorite store bought candies is the old fashioned orange slice gumdrops. Here’s a recipe for a fudge that stars that old timey candy.

Orange Slice Fudge


12 ounces white almond bark

10 to 12 orange slice candy gumdrops, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

12 ounces of sweetened condensed milk

1/2 teaspoon of zest of a clementine

1 teaspoon of either orange extract

A pinch of salt

What to do:

Line a 9×9 pan with aluminum foil.

IIn a microwavable bowl melt the almond bark, a minute at a time in the microwave. Should take 2 minutes. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Mix well and pour into lined pan. Chill till firm. Turn out onto a cutting board and cut into smallish pieces. Store the orange slice fudge in the frig in an air tight container.

While the fudge set up in the frig, Mama scraped the mixing bowl, taste testing. Again, love you Mama.

Thursday Through Saturday

I spatchcocked the turkey this year for our Thanksgiving dinner. It roasted evenly and came out of the oven juicy and deep golden brown. I think I will always do a turkey this way. One cut up onion, two ribs of celery and one cut up apple were my aromatics. Seasoned, softened butter and olive oil were slathered over Mr. Tom Turkey. Salt and pepper, of course.

The table was set with pretty dishes. Remember to use them throughout the year, not just for holidays. Any night of the week can be special, when Grandma’s best is brought out.

Friday meant laundry duty. I washed up all the dirty kitchen towels and table linens. Switching Fall linens for Christmas ones, the linen chest was opened and closed several times.

On the porch, Herman donned a red shirt and hat and beard. He’s incognito as Kris Kringle. I made his beard from a scrap of fabric and cuttings from a string mop.

Peppers planted last Spring had a poor showing, during the growing season. Frankly, I purposely ignored them, trying to teach them a lesson for not giving me peppers on my time schedule. Today I saw that they were loaded with fruit. Peppers were blanched then put in the freezer and a pot of jelly processed. Their colors are just right for the Christmas season.

I may have gone one shade of green too dark, with the food cloring. This looks really Grinch Green. Hope it tastes good.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Thanksgiving Sides

Here are some links to side dishes that are food traditions at Thanksgiving, not just for a week night.

Monday Supper Before Payday: Homemade Mac-n-Cheese Mac and cheese has always been on our Thanksgiving table.

It’s A Pecan, Not A PeeCan Sweet Potato Skip the crust and place this sweet potato filling in a medium sized, prepared casserole dish.

cornbread recipe Use this recipe as the base for your cornbread dressing.

Homemade cranberry sauce I love cranberries. You?

The Apple Lady now has a permanent home.

And this is an essay about the The Apple Lady.

Blessings for a Happy Thanksgiving

Cindy Lou Who Shortbread/Cookie Dough 102

We did it again; got together and made up rolls of different cookie dough to stash in the freezer for easy holiday baking.

A 1949 cookbook from Crisco held two of this years recipes. The third was the shortbread from August Cookie of the Month: Cranberry Pecan Shortbread, a request from the daddy of one of the young ladies at today’s party.

With these traditional cookie recipes we chose different add-ins to make specialty treats. Can you guess by the titles what was put in each cookie creation?

For my shortbread cookies I did a plain recipe and chose to roll the log of dough in red and green sprinkles. I named it the Cindy Lou Who Shortbread.

I will slice, bake and roll in powdered sugar, when I need cookies…. probably really soon…

We had a blast spending time together and prepping for the hectic holidays ahead.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Continue reading Cindy Lou Who Shortbread/Cookie Dough 102

An Affogato

For an afternoon pick-me-up or an after supper dessert, an Affogato is delicious. Simply, it’s just coffee doused ice cream.

I have said before that I didn’t drink coffee till I turned fifty. And I guess, the first version of an Affogato that I ever had was at the Wharf, when I dumped my complimentary strawberry frozen dessert in my tiny cup of coffee in lieu of creamer.

The Wharf

About a year ago. I stopped by a local coffee shop and saw Affogato on the menu and asked what it was. The server explained and I ordered one. Yum! Reminded me of the Wharf.

I have been making them lately. Different ice creams, different flavored coffees- all good. Todays was Blue Bunny Neopolitan with Community Coffee French Vanilla and because it’s my world, a Hershey Miniature candy bar. Why not, right?

This one was made with Rockyroad Ice Cream. I drank it while yelling at the LSU Tigers the other night. Poor Coach O…

Coffee Time Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Randomness For September

Some randomness at the close of Summer.

Unicorn Tea Party

Did you see the dark clouds in the back horizon? Life gets hectic and rough. We all need an outlet; a loving pet who’s as much as a family member as human biped or a fantasy tea party in the field. It’s good to be distracted by simple things.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Use the Pretty Dishes

Trite, but true: life is short so, use the pretty dishes. Just an ordinary Saturday breakfast, first one of the waining summer to speak of cooler weather to come, made me want something with apples. Here’s what I did.

Apple Granola Muffins


1/2 a box of Duncan Hines Classic yellow cake mix

1/2 cup of biscuit mix

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1 cup Cascadia Farms Apple Cereal

2 cored, chopped Gala apples with skins on

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 egg

1/4 cup of corn oil

3/4 cup of apple juice

What to do:

Set oven temperature to 350° and line your muffin cup pan.

Mix in a big bowl all dry ingredients. Fold in chopped apples and walnuts. Make a well in the center, add egg, oil and apple juice. Mix till combined.

Big scoops divided between each lined muffin cup. Bake till tops are nicely browned and bounce back when touched.

We ate from pretty dishes that belonged to my grandmother. Do you use the pretty dishes sitting in a dark cupboard? Bring them out into the light.The world outside is ugly. Your home should be a welcoming haven. Using the pretty dishes is a good start.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Monday Supper Before Payday: Homemade Mac-n-Cheese

Payday is three days away, so what to cook for supper, using ingredients on hand? Mac-n-Cheese. None of that boxed stuff. And look, I eyeballed this recipe. Cooking is an art. Baking is a science. Feel free at the stove to add whatever you Iike.


2 cups shredded cheese- I had Swiss and Dubliner, combined

1- 5 oz can evaporated milk

2 slices crisp bacon

3 slices Brioche, toasted and cubed

2- 1/2 sticks of salted butter

3 qt pot of salted water

Enough elbow macaroni to feed 3 people

What to do:

Bring water to a boil and dump in the elbow macaroni. Cook till tender.

While that’s boiling, combine 1/2 cp shredded cheese, bacon and toasted Brioche cubes. Butter a casserol dish.

In a 2 quarter pot, pour in the can of evaporated milk and heat till its just about to boil. Add half a stick of butter and melt. Then add in the rest of the cheese. Whisk together for your cheese sauce. Drain the cooked macaroni and pour the cheese sauce over the elbows. Combine well and put in buttered casserol dish. Top with the cheese and bacon and Brioche mixture. Melt the remaining 1/2 stick of butter and dribble all over the top of mac-n-cheese. Bake at 350° till the crust is crispy and browned. Won’t take long.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Butterfly Approved

The perfect butterfly approved landing spot.

Nine out of ten butterflies will say they prefer zinnias… Oh, who am I kidding? Ten out of ten butterflies prefer zinnias over any other flower in the garden. Here’s proof.

Swallowtails, both yellow and black, Gulf Fritilaries, those greenish/yellow Sulfur (no pic, as they are too quick) have been the big tourists this summer to the cutting garden. Still waiting to see the Monarchs parade through. Summer isn’t over by a long shot, so I’m certain they will arrive.

Butterfly Blessings from the garden at Flowers Proper.


The conversation between my grandmother and me went thusly:

“Amanda, I know you are very capable of learning to drive the tractor, but as long as you don’t have to, well, don’t.” That was thirty-six years ago, right before I got married. This year it has become necessary for me to learn to drive the tractor.

The little orange Kubota was my father’s and now it’s mine. She- yes, she- has a name: Tilly. My daddy named her way back in the mid-1970’s.

When I bought my property, I knew Tilly would be utilized. My middle son has been asked to cut around Flowers Proper, to till up the flower/garden patch. Different farm implements have been added to Tilly’s accessories. She can do whatever a bigger tractor can, just on a smaller scale. My place isn’t huge.

Bamboo had been growing really close to my farmhouse, plus several trees. So, this spring I had that cleared. However, debris was left, about a foot deep. The bamboo had been growing since about 1997…. I hate bamboo. It’s not native to our part of the world. I would like to go back in time and convince the lady who thought she needed it for a natural fence to plant something else, anything else.

It’s taken forever to get the mulched bamboooo up off the ground and dumped in a designated area. Our state is way above average for rainfall this year. To make things go quicker, my youngest son asked if I could try to drive the tractor and work the new rake, while he loaded the trailer. I said, reluctantly, Grandma’s words sounding in my head, “Yes.” I climbed up into Tilly’s seat.

“Okay,” my youngest son began to explain, “it’s a lot like driving a car with a stickshift.”

“I don’t know how to drive a car with a stickshift,” I admitted.

My son’s blue eyes got a little more round behind his glasses, but he continued to explain. “Clutch on the left, break on the right, excellerator on the right, wiggle the shift to put it in neutral, straight down into first, over to the left and down for reverse, the arm on the right to raise and lower the rake and most importantly, the little lever in front shuts her down. Got it?”

“We’re about to find out,” I said with a nervous chuckle. In my head I explained to my grandmother’s memory that the time had come for me to learn to drive the tractor.

Now, there’s about a ten foot drop to the road where we were working. I cranked Tilly up, put her in gear, eased off the clutch and she jerked forward with a learch and, yep, headed straight for the precipice. I know, I panicked! I screamed! I reached for the little lever and pulled. Mercifully Tilly sputtered to a stop, before I hurt myself. As I climbed down, my son came jogging up.

“You alright, Mama?”


I couldn’t make eye contact with him. I was embarrassed. I was scared, too. (I knew a lady who had a terrible accident with a tractor, lingered in the hospital for a week and then died.) But during the last seven years, there have been so many times I have had to square back around, tell myself that I am George L. Ellison’s daughter and try again. So, I climbed back up on Tilly. I wiped my tears away, as my youngest son again went through instructions.

The short of it is, I learned to drive Tilly. Up and down the the rake lowered to put the bamboooo debris where it would be easier to load. I am not strong enough to change out farm implements. I will still need someone to do that for me but I can drive her.

My daddy, I like to think, would be proud of me. And I know my grandmother would understand.

Here are some pretty pictures from my garden work this morning.


Garden Time

A pail full of little yellow squash and new potatoes. At the big store with the “W” on it, I found a small basket of seed potatoes and on a whim I bought them. Planted Easter weekend, the squash seed and seed potatoes have started making. Recipes are coming to mind. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than sitting down to a homegrown supper.

Have you planted anything this spring? I have two rows of vegetables and eight rows of staggered plantings of zinnias, sunflowers and cosmos.

I love this time of year. It’s hard work, but so rewarding.


Blue Tarp Season

When I was in junior high, one very cold P.E. class, we were told to dress out anyway. 35° wasn’t freezing, after all, was the coach’s reasoning. So, we dressed out and headed to the grassy field for kickball. Yeah, you guessed it. I got the bright red ball right up side my head and the nearly freezing temperature magnified the pain. I hated P.E.

The mayhaws hit me in the head yesterday, as I gathered them from the blue tarps. I like mayhaw season a whole lot better. Two gallons of berries netted juice in the freezer. Mayhaw jelly, mayhaw syrup for tea or homemade soda or mayhaw ice cream. Yes, yes, way better. Peh-tunt, peh-tunt….

.And Then The Murders Began

Note To Self

Use the Linen Napkins

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen

Beauty Down a Country Road

We had snow, a very rare occurrence, in February, right before the azaleas started to put on their buds. The snow and ice hung around for a week. Snow and ice put nitrogen into the atmosphere. Plants need nitrogen to be healthy. The timing of this freak weather event brought on such a beautiful Springtime. These lovely flowering shrubs highlight a hope for a better year than last.


Ecclesiastes 3

Eggnog Fudge

Here ya go.

3 cups white sugar

3/4 stick of butter, cut into pieces

3/4 cup eggnog

Pinch of salt

Big dash of nutmeg

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup each of candied red and green cherries

1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a 3 quart pot, stir together first 6 ingredients over medium high heat. Bring to a boil that cannot be stirred down and cook to a softball stage. At this point add in cherries and pecans. Remove from heat and beat the heck out of it. When the fudge begins to loose its luster and some of it begins to crystallize on the sides of the pot, pour into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment and spritzed with cooking spray. Cool and cut into squares. This fudge is rich and creamy. Serve, of course, on a pretty dish.

Eggnog Fudge on vintage tin ware

Christmas Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen

Feminine and Genteel

Every year I am gobsmacked by the camellias growing in my farmhouse gardens. Frilly, bright, small. medium and large, they remind me of the dresses of girls ready for cotillion.

During the spring and summer, I fret over seed selection and getting the ground ready, then tending plants so I can get bouquets to market. These camellia arrangements come with none of the toil. It’s as if God says, “Here, Daughter, rest and enjoy.”

In a world explosively bitter and cold, not unlike this time of year, these flowers remind me that there is beauty in simple things if we would only look. They also remind us to be gentle, kind to each other.

My walk netted a bodacious bouquet.

Feminine and Genteel

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen at Flowers Proper.

Eggless Cookies

I ran out of eggs and didn’t want to drive to town, so I tried an egg substitute. Using up last years sprinkles (you know, a few of this kind, a few of that kind-oh they don’t go bad, do they?), I made these eggless cake mix cookies.


1 box vanilla or white cake mix

2 egg substitutes (for each egg needed, do this:1 tablespoon water, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons oil)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

A bowl of miscellaneous sprinkles

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix up the egg substitute, set aside. In a big mixer bowl dump in cake mix. Then add the next 5 ingredients and stir together. With a scoop, drop mounds of cookie dough into the bowl of sprinkles, one at a time, coating each cookie. Place a few inches apart on cookie sheet, as these cookies will spread. Bake until the tops crack open and the bottoms are slightly browned. Twelve minutes or so. Cool on wire racks. These cookies are very crisp and are great for dunking, if you are so inclined. Makes about 2 dozen.

Great for dunking: won’t disappear into your hot beverage

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

John 12:24

Zinnia season is over. Collected spent flower have been drying on the kitchen table. One flower center produces hundreds of seeds. And one seed planted next spring will bring many blooms. It is a picture illustrated in John 12:24.

A bucket of spent zinnia blooms.
Washed and dried food containers hold zinnia seeds for next spring.
John 12:24

“Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

You People and Your Pumpkin Spice

You people and your pumpkin spice! It’s also apple season.

Here’s a simple recipe for you: Apple Cobbler Bake.

Core and cut 2 Gala apples
Chunk cut the apples and place in an oven proof skillet, along with 4 pats of butter, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 3 tablespoons of honey, 3 teaspoons of lemon juice and a good sprinkle of cinnamon. Stir and stew down, over medium high heat for about 5 minutes.
Over the top of the stewed apples, sprinkle a third of a yellow cake mix. Top with a few more pats of butter and cinnamon. Place in a 350° oven for about 25 minutes, till the juices bake over the top, forming a crust.
Serve in a small dish and grace the top with a bit of ice cream. I split a tiny ice cream sandwich for ours this Sunday afternoon. This quick, easy dessert has just enough sweetness and spice. The lemon juice adds a nice brightness.

Enjoy. Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

You’re Welcome

Yep, you got it. Mix candy corn and cocktail peanuts together and it tastes like a Payday candy bar. You’re welcome.

I know that there are those who hate candy corn. And those people are nuts. Which is what gets mixed with candy corn to make a mix that tastes like a Payday candy bar. In a bowl, mix two small bags of Brach’s candy corn or one big one and a small can of Planter’s cocktail peanuts. Serve up for movie night or the football game or in your child’s lunchbox. They will thank you. And you can say, “You’re welcome.”


Road Trip US90, the MS Coast

A friend and I both needed a break so, a road trip was in order. We drove south and then along US Hwy90 and stopped in many of the cities that dot the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I have not been on the coast since I was a teenager. We’ve all done that Ship Island trip… a right of passage, dontcha know? I had remembered Biloxi, Gulf Port, Bay St. Louis as kind of run down and parts of the coast seedy. My impression as a teenager, now mind. Keep reading, please. A revitalization of the coast has happened since Hurricane Katrina. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is alive and well and open! The architecture of the old homes and new residences is spectacular. The updated boardwalk is inviting and kept very well.

Here are recommendations:

White Pillars. 1696 Beach Blvd, Biloxi

Here’s a view of their brunch menu.
Shrimp Avocado Toast
Shrimp and Grits – so good
Flourless Chocolate Torte and a French 75

White Pillars sources practically everything they serve locally and their wait staff is knowledgeable and friendly. One of my new favorites is the coffee at White Pillars. They filled our cups with a beautiful blend from Coast Roast Coffee and Tea. We asked where they were located and made a beeline to get some. Here’s the address: Coast Roast 2510 16th Street, Gulfport. They will grind your beans, while you wait. Great service.

In Bay St Louis, we found eats at The Mockingbird Cafe. A very friendly, casual place with good food. Address: 110 2nd St, Bay St. Louis

For shopping, try The Shops at Century Hall. If you have a corner in your home that needs cozying up or a gift, this is the place. I bought a little white unicorn made of tin. Address:

112 2nd St., Bay St. Louis

Detail of the mural painted by Anderson on the walls of the community center, adjacent to the museum

The fourth town we visited was Ocean Springs. Home to the Walter Anderson Museum, this revamped downtown is filled with boutiques and art galleries. Address for the museum:

510 Washington Ave, Ocean Springs

Here are two shops we recommend:

The Pink Rooster 622 Washington Ave, Ocean Springs

I found lovely, vintage looking table linens and my friend found handmade jewelry. Local artists’ works filled the old house turned gallery/shop

The Candy Cottage 702 Washington Ave, Ocean Springs

Let them put together a sweet gift box, filled with homemade chocolates, pralines or other old fashioned confections. I spent the week looking for salt water taffy and found it there. The best I’ve ever had.

My haul from the drive along US Hwy 90

Traveling Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Use the Linen Napkins

I did wake up in time for breakfast this morning. A fried blindfolded egg (my Daddy taught me), with mayhaw jelly on an #Bay’sEnglishMuffin, a side of bacon, yogurt with a chopped banana and a cup of #CommunityCoffee. Notice the pretty linen napkin and #FireKing dishes. The journal front says to write your story. To do that well we need to slow down a bit. Saturday mornings are my favorite time for that. So, use the lovely dishes. Go to the linen cupboard and get out a pretty napkin. Slow down when you can. Lord knows life will speed up soon enough.
Blessings for a quiet Saturday.

Saturday breakfast

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Cue the Sad Music

Earlier in the year I put up mayhaws in quart size freezer bags, for later jelly making. Today, I thought, would be the day to fill the jelly cupboard. Well…

I have been extremely tired, TIRED all week. It’s Saturday and the bed was really comfortable. Marigold needed to go out at 6 this morning, but I went back to bed. Just A few minutes more of sleep, I told myself. Didn’t get up till a quarter to 9. I never sleep that late. Guess I needed the extra rest.

The usual big farmhouse breakfast was skipped this morning. Marigold missed her Saturday bacon.

Anyway, I gathered supplies to make the jelly, placed the berries in the Dutch oven to cook down. Being tired, I had trouble staying focused. Multitasking is usually my strong suit, but I got distracted and the berries burned, stuck to the pot burned. Cue the sad music.

Cue the sad music.

Sad for a minute, all was not lost. Juice in the freezer was put in a freshly cleaned Dutch oven and I started over. And now my jelly cupboard runneth over.

Restful blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Pepper Jelly and Easy Oatmeal Cookies

It has been a busy day in the Exile’s Kitchen. Fresh bell peppers were cored, blanched, shocked and placed in freezer bags for future meals.

Jalapeno peppers were made into jars of pepper jelly.

A simple recipe, here is what I did:

Finely chop 1 small red bell pepper. In a blender, puree 1 cup jalapeno peppers that have been seeded and deveined. Place both kinds of peppers in an 8 quart pot. Over medium high heat, add 1 1/2 cups white vinegar. Bring this to a boil and add a box of Sure-Jell. Stir in, gradually, 6 cups of white sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Return mixture to a boil and add a few drops of pink food coloring, if you wish. Ladle into hot sterilized jars, seal with lids and waterbath process for 5 minutes. Remove from canner and wait for sound of the lids sealing. That delightful, happy pop is so satifying. I taste tested with a potato chip in place of cracker.

Next in the recipe line up was Easy oatmeal Cookies. This recipe makes a bunch, sure to fill up your favorite cookie jar.

Preheat oven to 350° and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a big mixer bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup lard, 1 egg and 1/2cup brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Add 1 yellow cake mix, 2 cups quick oats, 1/4 cup of dried craisins, raisins, salted sunflower seeds and pecans. Incorporate well. Using a cookie scoop, drop onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Using a small glass dipped into granulated sugar, gently press each cookie. These cookies spread a little, so don’t crowd them. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, then move to a rack to finish cool.

Kitchen Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

A Weekend in August

I haven’t written about Marigold in a while. She made three years in late March. An easy going bloodhound, she’s a good companion in all ways but one: riding in the car. She enjoys the car ride, but alerts everyone on the streets that she’s out for a ride. Saturday afternoon was no exception. Big barks, happy whimpers, nose smudges on the windows; she fills the back seat.

Just before getting to a crossroads, I saw a long white hearse, followed by a big white van. Oh no, I thought. A funeral procession, followed by many cars with their lights on. Now, in our part of the world, it is a courtesy to pull onto the shoulder of the road, as the funeral passes. So, our progress to our destination was delayed. Marigold doesn’t like to wait. Here was her reaction.

Impatient Marigold.
Yes, lots of dog hair in my car.
And no, I am not the best videographer.

Here is something I am good at.

Bread pudding Bread Pudding the Best Way to Recycle

Blessings for a great August from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Continue reading A Weekend in August

Easy Pickings

Homemade blueberry ice cream and choco chip cookie bar. Yum! Happy 4th of July!🇺🇸

After picking two gallons of blueberries the conventional way, staining figures purple, sweat covering our brows and running between shoulder blades, a brilliant thought entered our collective heads.

“Don’t they have machines in commercial blueberry fields to shake the berries off?” my middle son asked.

“Yes, I believe they do,” I answered. “How ’bout you go in the house and get a sheet and we’ll spread it under the bushes and shake them by hand.”

Eureka! Plump purple berries bounced to the tarps; it worked like a charm. Of course, there were sticks to clear from the gathering of berries, but still a good method for berry picking.

For our Independence Day celebration, my no-churn ice cream recipe got a new flavor. I mixed about a cup of fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup water and cooked that down into a syrup. Cooled a little bit, the blueberry syrup was swirled into the whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk. Here’s my recipe No-churn Ice Cream

Fourth of July Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Working smarter, not harder.

Continue reading Easy Pickings

It’s Friday

Good morning, sunshine. It is Friday, y’all.

I can’t not talk about the weather. It takes hold of everyday life and changes my plans. A tropical storm started out on one side of the country Amanda, crossed the Ucitan and became Cristobol, bringing with it rain and high winds.

The storm knocked down most of my flower patch. Roots are exposed. Plants, still living, are growing crooked. The stems travel along the ground, but the bloom at the end turns upward, trying to face the sun. I will endeavor this weekend to righten the storms battering. Wooden stakes, jute twine, hammer and elbow grease should do the trick.

This is a picture of what our nation is going through. We are battered by a storm whose name keeps changing. We’re knocked down. Running low. But at the end, we need to look upward.

Blessings for a safe weekend from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Super Tot Casserole

Super Tot Casserole

(I wrote this recipe several years ago, after listening to the JT Show on Supertalk MS. J.T. Williamson was a radio host in the middle of the day and I listened to his show while at work. He often gave recipes out on Fridays. This casserole is one of his recipes and during the winter months, it has become a favorite in our house. Sadly, J.T. passed away this weekend. Prayers for his family. He will be so greatly missed.

August 2, 2021)

I heard about this recipe on the radio this week, but my hands were busy and I couldn’t write it down. So, I looked on line and decided to doctor the recipes I found on the internet. If you’re a meat and potato kinda person, this casserole is for you.


1 pound lean ground meat

Seasoning- salt, pepper, Cajun if you would like

2 tablespoons Worcester shire sauce

Couple tablespoons of minced onion

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1 cup light sour cream

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Enough tator tots to arrange on top

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375°

Brown the ground meat, drain fat and mix in Worcester shire sauce, onion and seasoning. Placed cooked meat into the bottom of a medium sized casserole dish.

In a small bowl mix together the cream of mushroom soup and sour cream. Spread this mixture over the top of the meat. On top of this, evenly sprinkle with the shredded cheese.


The last layer is the tator tots. You could dump them all over the top haphazardly, but why not make it pretty? Lay them side by side in concentric circles.


Now, isn’t that pretty? Bake at 375° for thirty minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown.

Are you wondering how I tweaked the recipe? Well, I added the sour cream to the soup layer. Try it. It adds a great tangy kick to this classic casserole.

Enjoy. Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Super Tot Casserole: perfect on a cold winter night.