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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….