Sunday’s Happy Little Accident

I usually spend the weekends at my mother’s. As I’m typically the first one up, I make breakfast. A few weeks ago I don’t know what was wrong with me, but the pancakes were not turning out right, I was distracted. I absent mindedly left the stove and started to fix the coffee. The air filled with a light haze of smoke and, yep, the smoke alarm went off.

Now Mom has one of those sophisticated  security-alarm-gotta-punch-in-the-code-and-let-the-“people”-know-you-haven’t-really-set-the-house-on-fire-you’re-just-burning-pancakes-thingys. Needless to say, I didn’t do it right and the fire department came. I heard their siren before I got to the door. When I opened the door, a volunteer fireman, who looked a lot like Uncle Fester from the Addams Family, was grinning at me from the other side of the screen door.

“Do we have a fire?” he wanted to know.

Sheepishly, I replied, “Uh, no sir, just burning  pancakes. I’m really sorry. I tried to get to the alarm before y’all were alerted. I’d offer y’all some, but they’re not ready.”

“That’s okay, ma’am. Just glad it wasn’t anything serious.”

He left; I went back to making breakfast. Would you believe I set the dad gum alarm off a second time! Only this time, I did shut the alarm off before it alerted the fire department. (By the way, my mother and son slept through all of the comotion… Some good the alarm is for my mother!)

This morning when I made breakfast, it was first things first. Coffee. Then I found a blueberry muffin mix in the pantry. Mama didn’t have any muffin cup liners, but she did have a bundt pan. The packaged muffin mix was, you know, kind of boring. A little “doctoring” was in order. Half way through the “doctoring”, I noticed the jug of milk was out of date. What was I going to substitute? Following, is this Sunday’s happy little accident.

Doctored Blueberry Cake

1 package of blueberry muffin mix

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup apple juice ( instead of the milk)

Prepare your bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together and pour in bundt pan. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until cake spring back when lightly touched. Cool slightly in pan, then invert onto a plate. Enjoy it warm with that coffee you brewed earlier.20150726_073752

Saturday’s Breakfast: Easy Banana Nut Muffins

Bananas are always on hand in my little kitchen. I use them in my Breakfast Coffee Smoothie and sometimes on Saturdays the bananas are too mushy to just peel and eat. So, Easy Banana Nut Muffins are baked and shared for breakfast and then over coffee later with my mom.

Ingedients:

1 banana

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 pack Oat Revolution oatmeal

1 large egg

1 T melted coconut oil

1 1/2 cups Bisquick mix

1/2 cup  chopped mixed nuts (I use cashews, walnuts, and pecans)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp almond extract

Mix first 5 ingredients in  a large bowl. Add in Bisquick, nuts, cinnamon, and almond extract. Don’t over mix. Slowly pour in the skim milk and mix well, again gently. Divide batter into 12 lined muffin cups and bake in 350° preheated oven. Bake till muffins rise and bounce back when touched on top.

These muffins aren’t overly sweet and perfect with a morning cup of coffee or juice.20150725_08345420150725_090158

Grandma’s Chicken Pie – Kinda

This pie has been served for Christmas dinner at our family gatherings for decades. My grandmother’s recipe was passed down to my aunt, to my cousin, to my mother, and now to me.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds chicken (I like to use all chicken thighs. Grandma used a whole cut up chicken.)
  • 2 refigerator pie crust s
  • 1 small bunch green onion
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Tony’s seasoning
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 chicken bullion cubes

What to do:

Season chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Tony’ seasoning ( this is Cajun seasoning). Place in slow cooker/crock pot. Wash and cut up green onion and sprinkle over chicken. Pour in 6 cups of water. Cover and cook on simmer while you’re at work for the day. When the chicken is cooked and tender, remove from the crock pot. Resreve the liquid/broth. Remove the bones and the skin of the chicken.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Bake one of the pie crusts till it’s just beginning to brown. Remove from oven.

In a two quart pot, combine chicken broth, flour, and bullion over medium heat. Mix with a whisk until thick. Place deboned chicken in partially bake pie crust. Pour chicken broth mixture over the chicken. Top with other pie crust, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 30

Grandma's Chicken Pie... Kinda
Grandma’s Chicken Pie… Kinda

minutes or until top crust is golden brown.

Let the chicken pie stand for a few minutes before cutting. Makes 8 good sized portions. Around 450 calories per serving.

Life In Transition

I wrote this 2 years ago. Some of you may not have read it, so I’m reposting it. Many things have changed since this was written: my divorce was finalized, we no longer live in that tiny apartment, I own a beautiful piece of land and an historic home in a neighboring county, I have two sweet grandchildren, and a rambunctious, comical Bloodhound puppy. Through God’s grace and strength, I’ve learned much about myself and more about Him. If you are going through a tough stretch of life, scroll through my posts; I started this blog, at first, yes, to help myself, but if someone else benefits from my words- well, all the better. My life is still in transition. Aren’t we all, those who are striving to be better people?   Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.  Amanda

 

I’ve gone from having it all to having just enough. At age 49, my life changed in a way that thirty years pior, I never would have imagined. My story is not singular: too many women have walked in my shoes. Yes, I am writing about divorce.

I loved my husband with my whole being. Upon waking each day, I asked myself, ‘What can I do to make his day good?’ At night, I went to sleep thinking how I could make his tomorrow better.

As a young bride, I delighted in finding out what he liked to eat. A cookbook collection was started. Living in rural America, we grew much of our own food: fresh vegetables from the garden, fruit from the orchard, beef from the pasutre, and eggs from the hen house. Supper planning was easy with great food literally steps from our back door. I learned to can vegetables and make jam, preserves.

I loved every minute of my life in the country. I loved him too.

Tired, hurtful details of the demise of our marriage don’t need to be shared here -partly because I don’t fully understand how something once so good could end up so wrong and partly because I’m through with him. I write only to say that even though much of my life was stolen from me, one thing remains that no one can take from me: my love of cooking and my talent for it.

As I am the youngest of three siblings and the only girl, my mother was thrilled when I showed an interest in learning to cook. I became a big help to her.  She worked and I got home before she did. The first thing I’d do in the afternoons was call her at work and ask what to defrost for supper. I’d have supper started, by the time she got home and all Mama had to do was taste test and tweak the pot here or there.

Baking cookies and brownies was my favorite kind of cooking. I didn’t master Mama’s peanut butter fudge until after I was married. My husband loved sweets and I kept something good in the cookie jar at all times.

We had a big kitchen in the country. The one I cook in now is quite small. Most of my pretty dishes are in storage, seeing as this life in transition sometimes feels like being in exile and there’s simply no room for them.

It took several months after leaving my home in the country, before I even felt like eating, much less cooking. Every meal reminded me of what I use to have. Heck, every meal reminded me of my husband. We have three grown sons. He would sometimes be sent out of town with his job. I’m not proud of what I am about to admit, but when he wasn’t at the house, and it was just the boys and I, hot dogs, pizza, and chicken nuggets were on the menu. My oldest son once made the statement that when Daddy was home we ate round steak, rice and gravy, and sweet potato casserole.  When Daddy wasn’t home, I didn’t really cook. He was right. I fed he and his brothers, but I cooked for their Daddy.

If you haven’t guessed, I am Southern. Quite Southern. We express our love often with food. My husband would tell me he loved me like a biscuit. Odd, I know, but to him those were words of deep affection. After all, the man adored eating. So, when he said he loved me like a biscuit  I would ask, “With butter and plum jam?”

“No,” he’d reply, “with gravy.” Ah, food; the language of love.

Until late 2013. Then his love language changed. Drastically. He gave me no clue as to what it had morphed into and wouldn’t give me an oportunity to discover it. Family suppers were no longer pleasant times to catch up with each other and reconnect. He quit eating anything I cooked. This hurt me terribly. I’ve already explained how we Southerners feel about  our food and loving each other with it.

So, I left. No, it wasn’t that easy. Leaving was actually quite brutal, but necessary. Months, months went by before I could stir a pot again. Grocery shopping was torture. How to plan for meals alone or why even bother? But healing came and with it my old desire to create something good in the kitchen.

I said my sons were all grown- almost. My youngest goes away to college this fall. I do cook for him. One evening after we had moved into this tiny apartment, we were eating supper, (pork chops, thin gravy over brown rice), he tells me, “I guess you’re cooking for me now, huh?”

“What?” I asked.

“You know. You always said that you fed us boys, but you cooked for Dad.”

Shame flooded me that night. I determined right then that I would start cooking on a regular basis, not just when I felt like it, if I felt like it. My husband’s delight had been my catalyst for cooking in my past, my survival in this exile would be rediscovering my girlhood passion.

Last night I came home from work and grocery shopping and roasted a whole chicken with celery, onion, carrots, and apples. Oh, and don’t forget the butter! I’ll share the recipe sometime. That recipe and the one for the Bisquick peanut butter cookies, that I made earlier in the week. They’re all gone, by the way.

Oh, yeah, a year removed from the amputation of my marriage and I’m cooking up a storm.