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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
(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.