A Call To The Bull Pin

Can you believe that the local grocery store didn’t have a single package of corn dogs? On the night that LSU plays MSU in the Super Regional, to decide who goes to Omaha for the big game, I wanted to have corn dogs for supper. I will explain: MSU students and fans call LSU students and fans corn dogs. Why exactly I am not sure. Both universities are agricultural schools. It’s kinda funny to me. Kinda the pot calling the kettle black, huh, Mr. Aesop?

I had wanted to tweet out a picture of my plate of corn dogs decorated in squirt mustard words saying, ” Geaux Tigers”. You know, some reverse psychology mojo. Oh, did I not make myself clear? This Baton Rouge, Louisiana born girl is a Tiger supporter.

I sent my son to the grocery store with my short list: corn dogs, squirt mustard and freezer bags. We were given fresh corn and I needed to get it in the freezer. My son was gone just a few minutes when he called home. The grocery store had no corn dogs, what should he get? I told him my substitution and the following recipe is the result.

Corn Dog Muffins

Ingredients:

1 box Jiffy  cornbread mix

1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 pack of all beef franks

1/3 block of gouda, shredded  (about 1 cup)

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Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl stir together the first 4 ingredients. Cut the franks into bite sized pieces. Fill 12 lined muffin cups 3/4 full with the cornbread batter. Drop into each muffin cup the pieces of franks, evenly distributing them. Top each muffin with a generous helping of gouda. Bake for 25 minutes, give or take.

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As you can see, we had fresh corn on the cob too. We enjoyed this ‘call to the bull pin’. Not really enjoying the game, as of this writing, as the MSU Dawgs are ahead of my LSU Tigers by 1 run. Come on, Tigers!

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

 

Post Script:

Corn Dogs- er- Tigers Win!!!

An Hour And A Half From Everywhere

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Early Easter dinner

After an early Easter dinner for some family members that can’t make it tomorrow, I took a stroll around Magnolia. Where is Magnolia, you ask? I have been asked this many times and usually answer, “In the middle of Nowhere and an hour and a half from Everywhere.” Tucked away off I55 South, close to the Louisiana line, this small town is the center of a cross that’s relatively 90 minutes from Baton Rouge, LA, Natchez, Jackson, and Hattiesburg, MS.

Magnolia is the county seat of Pike County and as I write this I realize that I neglected to take a picture of our courthouse. The grounds are quite pretty with lots of azaleas and magnolias.

Here are 3 of the churches in Magnolia: Episcopalian,  Presbyterian,  and United Methodist. There is also a Catholic and a Southern Baptist Church.

Down the block and around the corner is the Magnolia post office.  Built in the 30’s,  the architecture is very pretty and you step back into a less busy era when you walk through the front doors. Three murals painted by J.H. Fyfe depict rural life of nearly 200 years ago. The dark stained wood work in the foyer is remarkable for a little town like Magnolia. It’s worth a day trip to come and see.

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Missing  a ‘p’, but full of charm

Another block and you’re at the old depot. It was completely renovated a few years back and is now the town hall.

At the opposite corner of the depot grounds and catty-corner across the street is Handy Hardware. This old fashioned hardware store lives up to its name. From live crickets for fishing to plumbing supplies; You need something,  they’ve got it. And in the middle of West Railroad Ave a new consignment shop has opened up. The Me’lange Market has some interesting pieces. And like Handy Hardware you’ll be pleased with what you find in this shop. Another staple and anchor in Magnolia is the Corner Drug Store. It started out on the other end of Railroad Ave,  but was moved quite a while ago to its current location.. It has been in business well over 100 years. Their slogan is ‘right on the corner and right on the price’. I clerked there as a newlywed 30 years ago and now college man works there in the afternoons. Go by and tell him, “Hi!”

I continued my walk and returned home. The huge ancient live oak greeted me in the early evening.

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Magnolia, MS is a nice place to take a respite in Nowhere, while  traveling from Everywhere else. Stop and get a bite to eat at one of our restaurants,  fill up your gas tank , and enjoy the slower pace.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen for a Happy Easter.

Patience

Ecclesiastes 3 says “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” 

Time at my farmhouse today was quiet and solitary. Old brown painted back porch walls became a serene blue. The sun slow danced across the restored pine floorboards. The 2″ angled brush was rinsed and reshaped and put away for another weekend.

As I always do, I took a walk around my property before leaving this sunny, winter afternoon.

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The cowcumber  (big leaf magnolia) soared to the clear sky. Country blue, and looking a little forlorn, the mailbox yawned open. George Taber shyly peered through a tangle of limbs. Yellow daffodils waved in the light breeze at the back patio. A broken wooden backboard wobbled under the giant and waxy magnolia.

Like the farmhouse, the old gardens need refurbishing. Someone else’s past is my future. The azaleas are impatient and blooming early. They may get a lesson in patience, by way of another super freeze. Patience…learning it is never easy.

“A time to tear down and a time to build.”  

Patience.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

I Got On the Pumpkin Bandwagon

I resisted as long as I could, but gave in this morning before leaving to go work on my farm house. What did I give in to? The pumpkin craze that happens this time of year caught up to me. There was that can of pumpkin in the pantry and pie isn’t what I felt like making- oh, by the way. Did you hear that your favorite canned pumpkin is really yellow squash? Yep. There was an article about it a couple of weeks ago. I wonder if I offer anyone a piece of squash pie this Thanksgiving if I’ll have any takers.

Instead of making pie this morning, I made pumpkin bread.  As always, this bread is not too sweet and great with a cup of coffee.

Here’s the recipe and what to do:

In the bowl of your mixer, combine one 15 ounce can of pumpkin (not pie filling), 2/3 cup white sugar, 3 eggs, 2/3 cup olive oil and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix till combined.

In another bowl, whisk together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Once completely combined, pour into the pumpkin mixture and slowly turn on your mixer. The batter will be very stiff. When mixed, divide dough equally into 2 bread pans, that have been sprayed with Pam.  Place in 350° oven and bake for about 80 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer stabbed in the middle. If it comes out clean, your bread is done. Cool before cutting.20161022_081637

Out at my farm house, the weather was perfect. Couldn’t ask for a prettier day than today. Cool temps, clear blue skies. No butterflies this morning, but the honey bees were busy in the pink sasanqua.

I worked today in what use to be the original kitchen. It has been gutted and will be my son’s bedroom and en suite. Its amazing what a couple if coats of primer will do to brighten a  dark fire place mantel. Again, slow progress is still progress.

My old barn is ancient, with quiet stalls lining both sides and a set of stairs to the second story. No floor on the third story, yet, but one day.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

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Pecans and Pralines

 

My apartment is humming this morning. Saturday is chore day. The laundry room is warm from the tumbling clothes dyer and smelling of Purex and dryer sheets. I have always enjoyed doing laundry: It was an act of service that I did for my family. One chore this moring, however, I had to force myself to do. Unloading the dishwasher. Loading the dishwasher I don’t mind, but unloading it, I’d almost rather take a beating. Am I alone in that sentiment?

One chore I hate.
One chore I hate.

Tomorrow night, weather permitting, will be our church Fall Fest. Our church invites the surrounding neighborhood for free hot dogs, cotton candy, games and just plain fun. The small group that I am a part of uses this time to have a party within a party. We all bring something to share for supper. Cajun Pralines will be my contribution for our fellowship, as we take turns manning our Fall Fest booth.

Cajun Pralines 2 cups light brown sugar 1 cup white sugar 1/2 stick of butter 2 generous tablespoons sorghum syrup 5 ounce can of evaporated milk 2 cups pecans
Cajun Pralines
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 stick of butter
2 generous tablespoons sorghum syrup
5 ounce can of evaporated milk
2 cups pecans

Now, before I even get started on how to make these, we need to revisit correct pronunciation of a few words. It’s pecan not peecan. A peecan is what? That’s right- something an environmentalist takes with him to the woods. We put pecans in pralines. It is pronounced ‘prawleen’. Please do not put a y after the a. I don’t know what a prayline is, unless there’s no room in the sanctuary and you have to lean against the wall to do your praying.

Place all the ingedients in a two quart pot, over medium high heat. I like to cook with stainless steel pots that have aluminum clad bottoms. They cook like aluminum pots, but aren't as heavy. Stir all of the ingredients together and keep slowly stirring till the mixture starts to boil.
Place everything except the pecans in a two quart pot, over medium high heat. I like to cook with stainless steel pots that have aluminum clad bottoms. They cook like aluminum pots, but aren’t as heavy.
Stir the ingredients together and keep slowly stirring till the mixture starts to boil.
I don't use a candy thermometer. A Pyrex dish filled with ice water is how I test to see if candy has reached the correct stage.
I don’t use a candy thermometer. A Pyrex dish filled with ice water is how I test to see if candy has reached the correct stage.

Stir candy in circles or figure eights till it reaches the soft ball stage. Take a little bit of the sugar mixture and drop it in the ice water. If you can mold it into a soft ball, it’s time to add the -the what? That’s right! The pecans. Stir them in well and remove from the heat.

Now you will get an arm workout in. I hear Michael Jackson singing Beat It. At this stage you’ve got to whip enough air into the candy to cool it down so it can be dropped into patties and also so the pralines will be creamy. Clear a good sized space either on your kitchen counter or table. Spread out parchment paper and give it a light spray of Pam. With a tablespoon also sprayed with Pam, drop the candy mixture evenly onto the paper. Test a few at first. Don’t drop the whole pot of candy. Make sure they are setting up. If they are, work quickly. If they’re not setting up, beat the mixture a few more minutes. Be careful at this stage of the game. The candy will start to crystallize around the sides of the pot. A little is okay  a lot means you’ve about waited too late to drop your pralines. If that has happened don’t you dare throw away that lump of sugar, milk and pecans. Scrape it out of that pot, break it into pieces and sprinkle it over ice cream or over the top of a sweet potato pie during its last few minutes of baking. Do not just throw it out.

That one, there second from the bottom-perfect!
That one, there, second from the bottom-perfect!

It took me several tries, as a newlywed, to finally learn when to quit stirring the candy pot and drop pralines at just the right time. I hope these make it to the Fall Fest tomorrow night. Cajun Pralines and a cup of coffee sounds great right about now.

Enjoy your Saturday.

Colors

We tore out a multitude of tongue and groove boards, making new doorways and widening some. Tongue and groove, almost 4 inch thin lap (not really ship lap) came off chimney breasts and out of closets. They were saved (my south Louisiana is showing, cher) and are being repurposed.

The day I met with the cabinet maker, we discussed the kitchen layout for over two hours. I had already bought my kitchen appliances and that helped the process. He’d suggest placement and I either agreed or told him unt-uh.

As the new kitchen was a huge open space, once the crumbling fireplace was gone, we had a clean slate to build a one-of-a-kind kitchen. I knew I’d need an island and I had a picture in my head from a year ago, when we began removing the pine boards.

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The old farmhouse colors were very bold. Too bold for the idea I had in mind. So, I sanded the bright greens (there were three different shades of, well, green), blue, yellow and white down, leaving some of the color, but revealing the wood grain. Every board in the house and porches runs north to south, so when the cabinet maker said he’d place the boards like a picket fence, I said no. “Run ’em horizontally.”

I could see the wheels turning in his head, as he caught sight of my vision. Yeah! He asked what kind of range hood I wanted and I told him to incorporate more of the sanded tongue and groove.

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I was wowed when I saw it. So much more than I had expected. Happy dance!

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The yellow thin lap came from the master bedroom’s old chimney front. It has tiny tacks still in it from the wall paper of a hundred years ago. The green is from the wall in the living room, where we made another doorway on the other side of the fireplace. The blue used to be inside one of the small closets in the front bedroom.

Why did I choose to use the old boards in such a way? To pay homage to the family that used to live in my house. Someone chose the bright yellow and the light blue; and yes, that god-awful teal green or maybe it was on sale at the mercantile and the green chose them. That green was everywhere. Even the ceilings!

I often  wonder what went on in this 115 year old home. One of the men who worked on it, told me that my house was once a gathering place for social events in the community way back when. Another man I’ve met said, that back in its day, the house was a ‘little princess’. The idea makes me smile.

The Exile’s Kitchen is getting a new kitchen. Woohoo! I am feeling so blessed. It began as a forced sojourn, with challenges I never thought I would face. Many more I’m sure are ahead of me. But like the boarded up windows that were uncovered in the new kitchen , I too have been reworked to show a new outlook on life.

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Blessings from the Exile’s New Kitchen.

 

Nor His Squire On A Bay Gelding

Our church has Mid-week meals to keep attendance on Wednesday up and our members connected during the week. I sat with members from my Sunday small group, ate supper, discussed common concerns for aging parents, re-glazing very old windows, little league and ‘hey, who is that sitting across the CLC?’

When it got to be time for choir, I put my tray up and headed out the door, but a dear friend called out to me.

“Amanda, hey, darling! How’re you doing?”

I gave her a hug and replied, “I’m good.”

“Are you really?” She looked at me over her glasses. “Not just saying that?”

I smiled.

“No, ma’am. I’m really doing well.”

We chit-chatted about my children. She told me about her granddaughter.  Then the question came:

“Has that shining knight on his white stallion showed up yet? ”

I just laughed and shook my head and glanced up at the ceiling.

“No, ma’am. Haven’t seen him, nor his squire on a bay gelding! You know, when I tell God that I am lonely,  you know what He tells me to do?”

“What is that?” my friend asked.

“Go for a walk,” I answered. Then I gave her a wry smile. “But I guess I’m walking in the wrong place, ’cause I haven’t met anybody.”

As she always does, she told me that she would pray for me. And she meant it, too. I went on to choir practice.

Here lately, I’ve been thinking about my ideal man. As if there is such a thing. I’m not naive- not anymore. But a woman can dream a little, right?

I don’t really care what he looks like. I married looks first go-round (he’s lost them, by the way). Funny side note: years ago, one night at church, my then husband and I were talking to a gentleman and he said, “Your boys get their good looks from you,” he said to my now ex. In the next breath he continued, “I can see that because your wife still has hers!” Haha!

Anyway.

I want a truly kind man. A tender hearted man. No push over, but compassionate.

I want a man who has read the literary classics or at least something in addition to Sports Illustrated and the Market Bulletin. Not that there’s anything wrong with those publications, but if he could quote a Shakespeare sonnet,  I’d just about forget the rest of my list and give him a chance right away.

Next, I would love a man who could sit down at my antique upright, with the Werlein’s sticker on it, and play me a love song. Oh, honey! Again, musical talent and well read; be still my heart.

Light on his feet. Yes, dancing in the kitchen, after the supper dishes are washed and put away is on my list. And please, he will have to know something other than the loaf of bread. What? You’ve never heard of it? That’s what I called the one dance move the ex had. His arms around my waist, he’d kinda tilt from left to right, as we turned in a slow circle. I’d get dizzy-headed and ask if we could stop and turn to go in the opposite direction. I felt like a loaf of Bunny Bread in his big ole arms! Long loaf. Thin sliced. White bread.

Now, don’t think I want a man with hands softer than mine. The afore mentioned paints a tame picture. Nope, no siree. Rudimentary manly skills in the yard and around the house, if you will. Cutting the grass, unclogging the disposal, fixing a leaky bathroom faucet.  He’s going to need to know how to change the oil in the tractor, too. And if he doesn’t already possess such knowledge, be willing to learn. A well read man shouldn’t mind discovering new things, right?

A Renaissance Man! Yes! Renovating an old house has made me appreciate men with a certain skill set. Youtube’s great for garnering knowledge, but watching a man work- one who knows what he’s doing, especially-  live and in person, well…

But none of the above will do, without the most important trait and character anchor: my ideal man must be a man after God’s own heart. A true man of God, not just a pew percher.  A true disciple of Jesus, not just someone who knows enough Scripture to misuse. A man who can swim down deep in his faith, never be content to splash only up to his ankles in the shallows. Yes, a lover of God more than he would ever love anything  or anyone else.  Including me.  Deal breaker, if he doesn’t love God and honor Him by keeping his life holy.

Deal breaker. First there’s got to be a candidate. Like I told my friend; I haven’t seen a knight on a white stallion nor is squire on a bay gelding. But I have seen the One who loves me best and I am content with Him.

Blessings.

And Then The Murders Began

I was going to start this with the weather report, but recently heard that was the best way to kill a writing. I also recently heard that the phrase, ‘and then the murders began’ (credit to Marc Laidlaw) can really ramp up a story. So, here goes…

When I bought my farmhouse nearly a year ago, I was pleased to find established fruit trees on the property. Two may haws have been blooming and are now making their tiny, bright red fruit.

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Big may haw tree

On my hands and knees, I gathered the windfall and filled up my box. As I stood up, the thorns of the spindly branches grabbed at my hair. And then the murders began…

Ha! Oh, well, I tried.

I gathered enough may haws for two batches of jelly. If you pick this tiny pomegranate like fruit, be prepared to make jelly the same afternoon. May haws are delicate and turn really quickly. I made one canner of jelly today and put the rest of the juice in the freezer.

20170430_110304 Wash and sort your berries. Place in a big stainless steel pot and cover with just enough water. Simmer for about 25 minutes and let cool in the pot. When cool, take a cup or two at a time and make a pouch in cheese cloth. Squeeze out all the juice into a big bowl. Repeat till all of the may haws have been juiced.

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May Haw Jelly

4 cups of juice

1 tablespoon butter

1 box Sure-Jell

5 cups white sugar

What to do:

Have your jelly jars and lids sterilized and keep them warm. This prevents them from breaking when filled with the hot jelly and placed in the water bath.

In a 6 quart pot pour in 4 cups of may haw juice and the butter. Add the box of Sure-Jell. I use a wisk to make sure the pectin is mixed well. Bring to a boil that cannot be stirred down. At this point, slowly pour in the 5 cups of sugar. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture back up to a boil and cook for another minute. With a metal spoon, skim off any foam that may have formed. (And look, save it; slightly bitter, but still sweet enough to eat on crackers. I really hate wasting any of it. Skim it off to make your jelly jars pretty.)

Working one jar at a time, fill jelly to a 1/4 inch of the top of the jars, wipe off any spills and seal with the canning lids. Place filled jars into the canner basket and carefully lower into the water bath. The water should be a slow rolling boil. Process for 5 minutes. Carefully remove and let them rest on the counter, lined with a kitchen towel, to cool.

Label and store in your jelly cupboard. I know, you probably don’t have a jelly cupboard. Who does these days? Put in any cupboard that’s kept at a fairly constant temperature and away from sunlight. This jelly is a beautiful deep pink and it would be a shame to have it turn in color.

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This recipe made 6 half pint jars, with a little dish extra. We ate that on cathead bicuits!

Enjoy. Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen. And then the murders began…!

New Power

The 1950’s electrical panel was the best there was. Sixty years later, and circuit breakers getting temperamental, an upgrade is in order. New power for an old house.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is no more and the new life has begun.  Amen and amen!
So many people try to light their lives with old wiring. They prefer the familiar, because they are scared of the unknown. At least they know the probable outcome, even though it may not be good.
In the movie Chariots of Fire, Abrams is talking to his friend Aubrey. He tells him that he knows first hand the fear of losing, but he had come to the conclusion that he was more scared of winning. Abrams was afraid of the unknown. He had the strength and talent to win, but his past losses kept him from winning. The darkness in his head hindered his light from shining.
Abrams needed a new electrical panel, modern circuit breakers. Don’t we all? With Christ we have a new power. Hebrews 12:1 and tells us that since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of everything that hinders us and the sin that entangles us, and run the race set before us.
The old electrical panel hindered the lighting in my house. Dwelling on his past second place finishes hindered Abrams winning. Throw off the things that trip you up. Remember, if you are in Christ, you are a new creation.
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Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.