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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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.
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.
Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen at Flowers Proper.
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.
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.
“Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
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.”
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
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 Shopsat 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
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
Ifound 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.
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. https://www.instagram.com/p/CEeZ4bLBrli7RNW6t8EpDTrq4V1MHOv0jm0XIM0/?igshid=67rnucfggj9g
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, TIREDall 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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is something I am good at.
Blessings for a great August from the Exile’s Kitchen.
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.
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.
Summer is knocking on the door, with its great big yella hand. The yellow eyes of the daisies and cosmos are bright. The yellow squash is abundant. It has already graced our supper plates this week. I hear Bubba reciting various squash dishes: fried squash, stewed squash, squash casserole, squash hushpuppies.
A craft project of refurbishing old metal chairs, using cans of spray paint, lacks at least one being yellow. Weather permitting, I’ll get that done this weekend. The sunflowers have come up, along with old maid zinnias; no blooms to show yet.
Beginnings of my potager. Raised beds made from reclaimed 100 year old tongue and groove boards and same-age former fireplace bricks. Started in February, planted in March and blooming in May. I see supper.
It’s mayhaw season. The first part of the year, though trying in many ways, must have had the right weather conditions to produce the biggest mayhaws I’ve ever seen. Storms last Sunday night brought a great windfall of these little red fruit. I picked up a gallon this afternoon and the fact that many were the size of pennies and nickles was lagniappe. A windfall because the wind made them fall and all I had to do was pick them up. Lagniappe because they were a generous size. They filled 2 quart bags! And like the dish towel says, I’m grateful.
Windfall and Lagniappe Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.
I think it was Wednesday today. Each 24 hours blends into another. Told to not go into work, my mother, Marigold and I bugged out to the country, not quite a week ago.
I’ve spent this time planting my big garden. G90 corn under planted with contender green beans: 2 rows. Almost half a row of squash: zucchini and yellow crooked neck. The rest of the rows will be zinnias, cosmos, bishop’s flower and a multitude of sunflowers. Pink flamingo whirlygigs mark where I’ve planted what. Plus, detailed notes are kept in a notebook. A gentle rain for most of yesterday (Tuesday?) graced the turned ground, making it perfect for planting.
Early evening, after a simple supper of braised chicken tenders and tossed salad, I sat down at the piano and right hand pecked out old hymns. I have trouble reading bass clef. Marigold was on the porch and she started barking, when she heard my feeble notes. Everyone is a critic.
Gardening. Writing. Music- kinda. What’s keeping you from going stir crazy?
Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen while hunkering down at Flowers Proper.
As my farmhouse is over 100+ years, and there was no garbage pick up way back then, just below the top layer of ground lies century old trash: shards of crockery, glass bottles and farming implements. Everybody had a burn pile and a junk pile. They burned what they could, reused what they could, repurposed what they could. What couldn’t be burned, reused or repurposed was thrown on the rubbish heap. In the case of my farmhouse, that must have been an arms throw from the back door. Whenever there is a heavy rain, the stuff rises to the surface. Its best to wear a pair of thick soled shoes or rubber boots.
Last fall I had an odd shaped building torn down and hauled away. It was right next to the house. A tree had fallen on top of it many years ago and the previous owner never repaired it. The buzzards liked to roost in it each Spring. Nasty things! It was abandoned with decades of old, well, the afore mentioned. And every time it rains hard, more artifacts of the founding farm family come bubbling up from the rich, dark earth.
Tearing down the odd shaped building opened up the landscape. The view sweeps straight back to the old barn and pecan trees. This afternoon when I arrived home, clumps of yellow flag irises greeted me. I’ve never seen them blooming in the three years I’ve owned the property. I realize now that the junky building had obstructed my pleasure in noticing their bright yellow blooms.
I am the old farmhouse. My past is buried right under the surface and on occasion, it comes bubbling up. In other posts, I have mentioned that I come from a long line of strong women. They each had a good sense of humor, too. Thank God for laughter. It “doeth good like a medicine” says Proverbs.
So, as shards of my past came rising to the top this afternoon, I began a healing conversation with myself, spoken only in my head. I will not share it with you. It was a private conversation, after all. Where once certain things would have made me cry or made me angry, now I can just think of a quip and laugh. Laughter is that pair of rubber boots to wear while crossing the ground of the past to get to the bright, yellow flags of the present.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Unt-uh. Not Christmas. I enjoy Christmas, but my favorite time of year is Spring. The earth wakes up. Everything stretches and gets moving.
A field trip to a garden center this morning filled the trunk: Fruit trees, hydrangeas, azaleas, a big pretty basket. I could get into trouble at a garden center, y’all. Man, could I!
On my way home, a couple of packages of Peeps hitched a ride and then jumped into my cup of evening coffee. One of these days, you’re going to try coffee and Peeps and you will wonder why you waited so long.
Recent happy emails from Harris Seeds and Wildseed Farms told that my flower seed orders are on their way. I cannot wait to play in the dirt. Visions of flower arrangements dance in my head. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Suppers before payday can be tricky to pull together, when money is tight and there’s a mish mash of ingredients on hand. That’s what I faced in preparing supper tonight. Time to think outside the box, so to speak.
Pound of ground meat, but no noodles of any kind. Hot dog buns, but no franks. Hmmmm…. ‘Cut the buns in half and make up little hamburger patties. Yeah, and top ’em with cheese’, I told myself. Little Cheeseburger Sliders with a side of Cottage Fries. Baking potatoes, cut length ways and tossed in Italian dressing, were started in s lightly oiled iron skillet, then finished under the broiler.
Just a pic of the old barn and filtering clouds with which the sun played tag. Work on the potager happened mid-day. Saved pieces of tongue and groove boards were screwed to the frame built last year; I never got it finished. Flowers and vegetables, spilled over the planters edges, in my mind. Circumstsnces outside my control kept me from finishing in 2019. Not one flower was planted. Last year was a rough twelve months. Praying 2020 will be easier.
I often prayed last year, “Lord, I just need something to be easy. Just one thing to be easy today. I am so tired of the struggle.”
Philippians 4:13 wrankled me- so over used. Is that wrong of me to think it so? Just being honest. Romans 8:28 often came to mind too. And some people don’t read that scripture through to the end. ‘Called according to His purpose’ it says. His purpose, not my own. Again it wrankled me.
So, this year- one month into it – I’m not announcing my intentions to anybody. My goal is to be still: Psalm 37:7. Waiting patiently, yes, but also working with my hands, while living my quiet life: 1 Thessalonians 4:11. Which brings me back to my potager project. It’s still not finished, it’s not perfect. Yet, there is such beauty in imperfect things. I’m not finished or perfect either, Lord knows!
Here’s a recipe to use that granola I told y’all about last week: Orange Sticky Biscuit Bake.
What’s needed and what to do:
Preheat oven to 325°
In a 1 quart sauce pan reduce 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 pats of butter and 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Medium high heat. Swirl the pan every now and then. Don’t let it burn.This makes a nice simple syrup and is the star flavor for the sticky biscuits.
While the syrup is reducing, in a medium sized bowl mix 1 cup low-fat biscuit mix, 3 heaping tablespoons of Sweep-of-the-kitchen Granola, a nice dash of cinnamon and enough milk to incorporate all of the above – you want a stiff dough. About a 1/4 cup of milk, I guess. Just eyeball it.
Now, I baked the sticky biscuits in a small iron skillet, but any small casserole dish or cake pan would do. Spray the pan or dish with vegetable spray. Pour a small amount the orange syrup into the bottom of the pan. Drop the mixture into the center of the prepared pan, making one big biscuit. Pour more of the orange syrup, reserving a couple of spoonfuls on top of the biscuit. Place into the center of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. The last 5 minutes of baking, pour the remaining orange syrup over the biscuit.
Cut into 4 to 6 servings. These are lightly sweet; nice with a morning beverage..
Left over Christmas baking ingredients were just sitting in the pantry: raisins, oatmeal, pecans, soy-free chocolate chips. So, to use them up I stirred up a big bowl of granola. Sweep-of-the-kitchen is a term describing a waste-not-want-not, money saving, frugal attitude. Use it all up.
Here’s what to do:
Preheat oven to 300°
In a big bowl combine 3 cups quick oats, about 1 cup pecans, about 1/2 cup raisins, about a 1/4 cup of each semi-sweet chocolate and white chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 cup light brown sugar and a pinch of salt. A couple of teaspoons of colorful sprinkles, if you have some. Microwave 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and pour over the oats and other ingredients. Give several generous stirs, to incorporate the oil with the other ingredients.
Spread evenly over a baking sheet with short sides, like a jelly roll pan, which has been covered with parchment paper. Place in oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Check it halfway through to make sure it isn’t burning. Give it a slight stir with a spatula or big spoon. Continue baking. Cool, then scoop into an air tight container. Serve over yogurt, apple sauce, pear butter, ice cream.
http://Peppermibt MeringuesHere’s a recipe to make, while taking down the Christmas tree: Peppermint Meringue Cookies. Not sure that cookie is a true description, because these are flourless. Maybe they are more like a candy. Make the peppermint meringues and you decide what to call them.
Here’s what to do:
Preheat oven to 225°.
In a stainless steel mixing bowl begin beating 4 egg whites. Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of cream of tartar. Keep beating. Crush up 3 candy canes, set aside. When the egg whites start to form high peaks, slowly add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. With the sugar incorporated, add a few sprinklings of the crushed candy canes. Okay, now the meringue is ready to drop onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Using a teaspoon, drop heaping dollops 2 inches apart. Place in oven and bake for 90 minutes. Turn oven off, when they are finished baking and let the meringues stay in the oven to cool and dry out.
Blessings for a great 2020 from the Exile’s Kitchen.
Christmas parties a plenty. One down; three more to go. This week. Today is the “office party”. I offered pralines and a lemon meringue pie. If you want, you can find those recipes here at theexileskitchen.com. Just let your fingers do the scrolling.
I’m in town this morning. My stand mixer is at Flowers Proper and so is the newer hand held. Deep in one of Mama’s kitchen cabinets, under stored paper plates and plastic cutlery, was her old General Electric hand mixer. She still works. She’s 60 years old, if she’s a day.
Eight egg whites in a bowl, pinch of salt, dash of cream of tartar, a splash of pure vanilla,sugar. Started the Old General up. The beaters were a little loose, but patience persevered and the meringue was glossy and beautiful.
Lovely, sticky whiteness was spread over the homemade lemon curd, fluffed, patted and run under a low broiler to toast it up. Just a bit.
It’s raining. Storming is a more appropriate description. I hope I get this pretty pie to work in one piece. The old General Electric mixer has been put away, but this time within easy reach. Her cord wrapped around her handle, just as my mother has done countless times.
Today is my mother’s birthday. There’s a 2-layer, white cake with lemon curd filling in the ice box (that’s Southern for refrigerator). Happy Birthday, Mama.
Bags of fresh cranberries are plentiful in the produce section of the grocery stores this time of year. It’s one of those food traditions that we never question and expect it to be on the holiday menu. Cranberries also seem to be one of those foods that folks either love or hate. Personally, I love cranberries. It’s really tasty on a sandwich made with left over turkey the day after Thanksgiving. They are good for you, too. Look it up.
Now, you can reach for a can of that congealed cranberry juice stuff concocted way back when your great-grandmother was a young woman. Time saver and convenient, if cranberries are just a garnish for your Thanksgiving plate, not really to be eaten with your turkey, then have at it.
You can make a better choice: fresh cranberry sauce. Below is what I do every year.
Here’s my recipe:
1 bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed in cold water
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
pat of butter, optional
What to do:
Place rinsed berries in a two quart pot and turn burner to medium heat. Add sugar, water, orange juice and pinch of salt. I think the tiny bit of salt helps cut the bitter taste that cranberries sometime have and makes the taste brighter. Bring berries to a gentle boil, stirring to disolve the sugar.
The berries will begin to pop, as their skins split. You’re almost through with the cooking part, at this stage. When the berries foam up, turn the fire off. With a metal spoon, skim the pink bubbly foam from the top of the pot. If you want to, add the pat of butter. This helps reduce any foam that may remain- it’s kind of hard to get all of the foam out of the cranberry sauce.
Cool the sauce before placing it in the frig. It can be made a day or two ahead of turkey day. Serve in your great-grandmother’s pretty cutglass bowl. She’d think you are the cat’s pajamas.
I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. And I know I’ve been preaching against rushing the seasons, but I guess I’m going to blame the frigid cold spurt we’ve had this week, for my Christmas ornaments project.
The tinsel tree never made it to the attic last year. It was boxed up, but not squirreled away with the other decorations. I’ll admit I have recently been tempted to set it up, not festoon it with baubles, just put it quietly in the sitting room corner.
Instead of pulling out the tree, I pulled out unused canning lids, pretty Christmas tape, seasonal paper, pompoms, miniatures and old buttons to make vintage looking, dioramic ornaments.
Here’s what to do: First trace around a canning ring (like Ball or Kerr) onto a piece of Christmas paper and cut it out with scissors. Using craft glue, pipe a bead along the inside edge of the lid. Place another ring, bottom to bottom, on top. Put these together with pretty Christmas tape. (Hobby Lobby has many options.) With two canning lids secured like this it makes a wide enough inside surface to place the miniatures. I chose tiny Christmas trees and deer and shiny little Merry Christmas signs. Cut up white pompoms look like snow glued at the base. Material scraps and small old buttons came together for a hanger on top.
Crafty Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen at Flowers Proper.
(And as always, if you enjoy the pictures, glean from the information or become inspired from my ideas, please click on the tiny star and give the post a ‘like’.)
I added pumpkin spice, plus a splash of vanilla, to twist up a simple recipe of marshmallow treats. Pressed into a pie plate and covered in seasonal fall sprinkles. Cut into a wedge, it rested on an ivory Fire King plate. Three marshmallows were saved for my Pecan Praline cup of Community Coffee. Yes, I did. And so should you.
I found myself counting, when making cookies this afternoon. Counting when I rolled the shortbread, after dusting them with powdered sugar, and again when room had to be made on the wire rack to cool. Twenty-four all three times. There was some dough saved and rolled into a log, then wrapped in parchment. It went into the freezer for easy cookie baking later in the holiday season.
I counted twenty-three cookies, when arranged in the vintage Louisa glass serving piece. How’d that happen? Had to taste test, don’tcha know? Powered sugar coated thumbs up! Perfect, if I do say so myself.
It’s pumpkin season, as I’m sure you know. We have a little pumpkin patch of our own this Fall. My grandsons have been keeping a check on them and next weekend we will have a family cookout and raid on the pumpkin patch to carve jackolanterns.
I’ve never made pumpkin soup, heretofore, but as I have these little pumpkins, I thought I’d try it. I washed, seeded, chunked, and coated 2 pumpkins with olive oil, before roasting in the oven. When tender and cooled, I took a spoon and scraped out the cooked pulp. I had about 3 1/2 cups, which I smoothed out with an immersion blender. In a big pot, with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, I sauteed 1 chopped yellow onion and 4 chopped cloves of garlic. I added the pumpkin pulp into the pot, added spices of salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutneg and pepper to taste. To this , I stirred in 4 cups of chicken stock and let it simmer for around 15 minutes. After it was through cooking, I stirred in a 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Another spin with the immersion blender to ensure it’s creaminess and the soup was ready for my bowl.
Along side my bowl of pumpkin soup, was a plate of mustard decorated corndogs. Why not? I’m a Louisiana State University fan. Can’t grow up in Baton Rouge and not be. Today we play the Mississippi State University Bulldogs. The Bulldogs call us Tigers corndogs. Yeah, really, why? Both are agricultural schools. And the trek to MSU is way more rural than it is to LSU. Are the Tigers and their fans uncouth, is that what the Dawgs are trying to say?Oh, well.
My opinion of the Dawgs is rendered in mustard.
Even the wildflowers gathered on my morning walk are rooting for the Tigers. Purple and gold, baby.
I dug around in the pantry and freezer for homemade, hearty soup ingredients and dumped them into the Dutch oven for a comforting and nurturing bowl of love. How’s that for a run on sentence? Sausage cut into thin pieces, can of corn drained, a chopped onion, 1/2 cup frozen field peas, some dried red beans, a can of chicken broth, a small can of tomato sauce, 1/4 cup of brown rice, 1 1/2 cups of water and seasoning to taste. Except salt; I’ll add that after the red beans have cooked down. It may not need it. We’ll see.
It is, at last, soup weather here in our part of the world. Yesterday in the muggy 80’s; today overcast 60’s. Looks and feels like October. Not rushing the seasons. Thankful we have them. Perfect weather or the same weather year round would be boring to me. We have mild winters usually, rather wet springs, long, hot summers, and serene autumns. The world is getting sleepy outside, wrapping its self in dying grasses and falling leaves. Pumpkins are ready to pick and the turnips needs to be planted.
Enjoy each grace from each season. And make yourself some soulful soup.
It’s Autumn, supposedly. The thermometer says it’s still August. The local big box stores and ads on social media say it’s Christmas.
We hurry too much. We miss too much. We need to stop rushing around and practice breathing in the simple beauty of the transitioning months. Homegrown flowers, little pumpkin, Mr. Irving’s Sketchbook harken to Autumn, even if the temps do not. Practice the pause.
What am I doing? Well, waiting on a guy to get out here to give an estimate for tearing down and hauling off a shed that’s falling in. I’m also waiting on a repair man for the satellite to be fixed. It’s college football season, after all.
And then, I’ve got canvas drop cloths spread out on the floor. Painting? No. Trying to figure out how to sew together a cover for the cars backseat. Marigold’s hair gets everywhere; you wouldn’t think a bloodhound would shed like she does, but oh, my goodness!
First, though, coffee and breakfast.
Traditions fill the counter top and old window sill. LaSolana pottery, Louisa Glass, Fire King pieces remind me of trips to Clinton, Louisisana each spring for a gigantic antiques fair. It was tradition to go that Easter weekend to the Felicianas, where my Grandmother had roots. The church ladies of that town got together and served sweets, gumbo, and the best chicken salad sandwiches ever! The LaSolana pottery sugar and creamers were found in the back of a farmhouse kitchen cabinet, when it was being demolished. Perfect for a small arrangement of fresh flowers. The Louisa glass is a compote dish I started collecting way back when ( attached to excursions to Clinton, LA). The Fire King mug is part of a set bought at an auction. And in that mug, another tradition: Community Coffee. Community Coffee is based out of my hometown of Baton Rouge. I didn’t start drinking coffee till a few years back. Making up for it, though. Coffee Time
Scared of the lawn mower, the praying mantis crawled up my leg. A few stomps and it fell back to the freshly cut grass. I moved a lawn chair and got popped by a wasp. Bugs aside, cutting grass in August is brutal, especially with a mower that has a broken self-propelling thingy. I had one a couple of summers ago that worked beautifully, but a crackhead thought he needed it more than I did. The mower that replaced it has not been worth the money and keeps breaking down and I’m tired of taking it to get fixed, but can’t afford a really nice riding lawn mower, sooooo….. There’s a note written in black Sharpie for anyone coming for a free mower: half-a☆☆ works; not worth stealing. Dear Mr. Drug Head – A Vent To An Idiot
The back garden, near the old orchard is hilly and the wild hogs visit frequently- I fell. Right down on my tail. Sweat dripped into my eyes. A few more turns and I decided to go inside to cool off. And make cookies. Of course. Why not?
Sweep of the Kitchen Cookies
That mushy banana that’s been on the kitchen counter all week
The last 2 tablespoons of Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
A healthy generous squirt of local honey
A splash of vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
A couple of dashes of cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips
What to do:
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a mixing bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients. In a medium bowl, combine the next 4 ingredients. Dump into the banana and peanut butter mixture and stir till combine, but don’t overbeat. Stir in chocolate chips.
On insulated, parchment lined cookie sheets, drop three inches apart scoops of the cookie dough. I did 6 cookies per 2 cookie sheets; these cookies spread a little and I wanted them to have some room to bake up pretty. Bake for about 12 minutes, till the edges brown and the tops are golden. Makes about 18 nice, flavorful cakey cookies.
After cookie making and a light lunch, the garden hat and sunglasses were adorned again. I like cutting grass. It’s satisfying, seeing it all mown. Marigold likes to roll around in freshly cut grass. Maybe with this dog days of summer heat, the grass will slow down in growing and won’t need to be cut again for a while. My hand hurts from the wasp sting. Oh, well. A cookie and a Mayhaw Soda will make it feel better. Note To Self
The house was filled with company the week of July 4th. Different ones made multiple trips to the grocery store and somehow carrots were put in my refrigerator and then left. What to do with them? Too hot for a stew. Or a souffle’.
It is also pear season. One of my daughters-in-laws gifted me with fresh pears. For about a week, I canned pear preserves and pear butter.
In a simple muffin batter, the carrots and pears made a nice flavor combination.
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped pear preserves
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
An additional 1/2 cup white surgar with a generous dash of both cinnamon and nutmeg mixed in
1/4 stick of melted butter
What to do:
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a large mixing bowl, combine first six ingredients. In another mixing bowl sift together the next seven ingredients. Alternating between the flour mixture and milk, add to the carrot and pear base.
Prepare muffin cups, big or small with vegetable spray. I used a mini muffin tin. Bake for 30 minutes or until tops bounce bake, when tapped and golden in color.
Loosen with a knife, cool slightly. Dip into the melted butter, then swirl around into the spiced sugar. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen.
I used to do this for the first day of school when my boys were growing up and also on their birthdays. Y’all know how to do this, right? Basic pancake recipe poured into a gingerbread man cookie cutter, set on top a Lodge cast iron griddle equals mancakes. (You can use any metal cookie cutter, by the way.) Coat both the griddle and cookie cutter with vegetable spray, before filling the cutter with batter. When the batter cooks up with bubbles, take a set of tongs and gentle pull the cookie cutter away. Flip with a spatula and cook on the other side.
My great nephew visited all week and he enjoyed his plate of mancakes.
In the country, the garden needed tending. Miscellaneous items came together for a little girl scarecrow. She is guarding the late planted pumpkins.
(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.
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
1/4 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.
This Labor Day Weekend I took my family on a trip to the Alabama Coast. Two of our family activities cost pennies. Well, a tank of gas is more than pennies, but you get the idea.
We skipped the tourist traps for a more family connected activities.
Hunting sand crabs after the sun sets has been a family tradition, when we take a beach trip. Flashlights were passed out along with the assignments of net and bucket handlers. For the preschoolers, this was their first time catching sand crabs along the waters edge.
The second practically free detour was searching for Bamahenge in Elberta, Alabama. Lots of quirky fiberglass statuary near the Barber Marina, including a replica of Stonehenge, 4 big dinosaurs, knights, and Neptune’s Fountain.
I’ve made my mayhaw syrup for our ice cream tomorrow (the 4th). Not all of it would fit in the jar. So, it went in the bottom of a tall glass, along with ice and a cola. The mayhaw syrup added a little sumpin sumpin. Nice!
Here are a few pics of the drink plus some photos of out and about.
Happy Independence Day Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.
There are joys of small town life not capable of being found in bigger cities. Unique shops and country stores way out in the middle of nowhere give you just what you need and want.
I got up early this Saturday morning and was out the door at 7am. A mile down the road got me 2 gallons of lawn mower gas: non-ethanol. The lady at the counter at Dexter Grocery knew what I wanted before I could tell her.
A few more hilly and winding miles to Tylertown and I stopped in at The Blue Store. It’s another mom and pop country convenience store and has a bakery counter. Beautiful baked goods. I picked up a dozen oatmeal cookies to go with homemade Mayhaw Ice Cream tomorrow.
I had to go to the co-op. Does your county have one? Stop in if they do. Ant poison and cotton seed meal was added to my shopping finds.
Coming back through T-town, I hung a right at the post office and stopped at the Lagniappe Cafe for coffee and strawberry muffins. So good!
All those errands run in less than an hour. Try that in a bigger city.
While we ate breakfast, I made the mayhaw syrup. About two cups of juice and 1 1/2 cups of sugar slowly reduced.
After working in the garden and planting more flowers, I made up my recipe for Mayhaw Ice Cream. Try These Two Together I swirled in a few tablespoons of cooled mayhaw syrup, then wrapped the dish in plastic wrap and placed it in the freezer. Such a pretty color and will be great with the oatmeal cookies.