Food Related Things My Mother Told Me Growing Up

There are words in the back of my mind, usually accompanied with the sound of my mother’s voice. From the time I was little, these admonishments and pleadings and rules of how to be come popping up like bubbles in a pan of hot boiling water. They make me smile.

The first I remember was, “Just take two bites, Amanda.” Followed by, “How do you know until you try it?” There had probably been something green on my plate. I hated vegetables as a kid. Now a few decades later, ahem, I pour over gardening catalogues that arrive in January and start planning my vegetable plot for spring. There are 3 different types of turnip seed on the ktchen table waiting to be planted now. A draught this late summer has prevented the ground being broken, but a good rain yesterday should help. The point? I love vegetables now. My 3 year old self, nope.

The second food related thing I remember is about coffee. My family, on both sides, have always been big coffee drinkers. I remember being little and seeing my mother and her sisters having coffee. I asked for a cup and was told, “You are too little for coffee.” I begged again and Mama said, with a wink at her sisters, ” You’re too little, coffee will turn your ears black.”

“Your ears aren’t black,” I reasoned.

“That’s because we’re grown-ups, ” Mama explained.

I didn’t drink coffee till I turned fifty. And I’ve made up for all those lost cups through the years.

The third food related directive was to eat the slightly over cooked whatever was put on my plate. My daddy once said that my mother was the only person he knew who would serve burnt sausage. My oldest brother piped up and said, “Aunt Gayle does too.” Daddy replied, “That figures.” Mama and Aunt Gayle were identical twins. Figures…

So, I was told to eat the occasionally burnt sausage, toast, pork chop, with the promise that it would make me pretty. Dubious as to whether or not that would really happen, I asked, “Did you eat burnt toast?”

“Do you think I’m pretty?” she answered back.

“Yes,”

“Well, then eat your toast.” Waste not, want not.

The forth food related thing my mother taught me was to never return a dish empty. If someone was kind enough to bring a homemade goodie it’s a good thing to reciprocate. Years ago, when I was a young mother, the neighbor lady called and said she had been baking and had muffins for my boys. We enjoyed her baked goods and a few days later I returned her pan with something that I had baked. She was surprised at my offering and I explained my mother’s take on returning dishes. And then the game of baked goods tag began. She sent more muffins. I sent back cookies. The last time she showed up at the front door, handed me the pan filled with goodies and said, “Keep the pan, I don’t want it back.” Maybe just a thank you note would have sufficed.

The fifth related food thing was born out of pure kindness. When you’re invited to someone’s home, eat whatever is offered. No matter how humble or poorly seasoned or whatever, eat it. They did their best and opened their home to you. Be gracious.

The sixth thing Mama taught me, but only after taking months clearing out cabinets and cupboards before her house was sold. I found beautiful dishes and serving pieces hidden away. So, folks, use the pretty dishes. Life needs beauty. Life needs connection to who we are. Use Grandma’s dishes.

Just some thoughts and rememberings of simple things that shape adulthood.

Blessings form the Exile’s Kitchen.

Stuff In My Ice Cream

A new grocery store had their grand opening last week and, well, you know I had to go see. At the suggestion of one of the store managers I purchased a half gallon of Blue Bell ice cream. It was on sale, you see. Otherwise, the carton of creamy goodness would have been left in the stores freezer section.

Anyway, fast forward to Saturday and the LSU football game. Dismal to say the least. Frankly, and this is just my opinion, but Brian Kelly is out of his league. The game was bad, really bad. To cope through the second half, I fixed my self a Blue Bell ice cream cone and stuffed an oatmeal, chocolate chip, raisin cookie down in the top of it.

The ice cream cone was good, but the game left a bitter taste in my mouth. I love the Tigers, but they are hard to watch this year.

Today, during the Saints game, after a grilled ham and cheese sandwich another ice cream cone was desired. Today, I decided on a homemade chocolate peanut butter bomb for the decoration.

Here’s what to do: heat in the microwave for 30 seconnds 3 tablespoons coconut oil, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons peanut butter powder, 3 tablespoons agave syrup, splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Stir everything till smooth. Line muffin tin cups with paper liners. Spoon mixture evenly between 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle with jimmies or chopped peanuts, if you choose. Chill in the frig till firm. Store in an air tight container in the frig.

The seasons are changing. Another little scarecrow hopped on the small yellow bike out in the field. A bouquet of goldenrod, sasanquas and cosmos were picked after that pitiful LSU game.

Blessings for your changing seasons from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Spiced Shortbread

It’s the last Sunday in August and you know what that means; pumpkin spice everything is around the corner. I refuse to call these pumpkin spice shortbread, but the taste is similar.

Here’s what you need and what to do:

Turn oven to 325° and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the following spices together in a small dish and set aside.

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

In a stand mixer (or a big bowl and using a hand mixer), cream together softened butter and confectioner’s sugar.

1 1/4 cups softened butter

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Add the all-purpose flour in thirds, slowly, so as not to make a mess and incorporate it for a smooth texture. With the last 1/3 of the flour, add 2/3 of the spice mixture.

2 1/4 all-purpose flour

2/3 of the spice mixture, reserve the rest for the last step.

Make cookie balls, about the size of a ping pong ball and place on cookie sheet, leaving space so edges don’t touch. Taking a small glass, gently smush the cookie ball, making a pretty indention. Bake for 12/15 minutes, till cookies are lightly brown. Cool slightly. In the same dish of reserved spices add a couple of tablespoons confectioner’s sugar. Toss warm cookies in the spiced sugar and cool on wire racks. Makes about 30 cookies. Serve with your favorite beverage. I have a creamered up cup of coffee, but as muggy as it is, iced tea would be great. Please, no hot cocoa. This is the South and we won’t cool down for several more weeks. Pumpkin spice, my eye!

I was excited the other week, when I spied this volunteer vine growing in Herman’s flower patch. It looked like a pumpkin vine of some kind, but it’s made these little tiny melon fruits. A mouse melon, a cucamelon, a sour cucumber. I don’t know. Kind of disappointed it’s not a little pumpkin. It’s feeding the wildlife around here, because the fruit I saw last week are gone. The tortoises and the rabbits may be dining together.

Blessings from Herman’s flower patch and the Exile’s Kitchen.

Different Yet the Same

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.

Sunday Blessings

Round Flowers in Cornered Vases

Easy breakfast to use up miscellaneous kitchen stuffs- a little rolled oats, 1/2 a boxed cake mix, bananas going bad, less than a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

Here’s what you need and do:

Preheat oven to 350° and spritz a square 9×9 pan with vegetable spray.

In bowl, mix the following ingredients.

1/2 cup yellow cake mix

1/2 cup rolled oats

nutmeg and ginger– a dash of each

1/2 cup chocolate chips

In another bowl mix together:

2 bananas going really ripe

1 serving cup Oikos Greek Pineapple yogurt

1 egg

a generous splash of vanilla

1/3 cup white sugar

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Pour batter into prepared pan and place in oven. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, the top is golden. Cool slightly and dust with powdered sugar, if you wish.

Saturday morning, an assortment of square vases were filled with lots of round flowers and the arrangements sent to different areas of the house.

Saturday Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

UpCycling

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.

Early this morning I dead headed spent blooms and picked those in between bud and throwaway stages, to make this bodacious boots bouquet.
Herman got a body makeover and is waiting on his friends for a bike ride. Stay tuned.

Summer Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

My Weekend In Pictures/ Mother’s Day

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.

Saturday afternoon was spent making mayhaw jelly. You know it’s my favorite.And Then The Murders Began

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

Mother’s Day Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

One More Peep

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.

Happy Easter. The tomb is empty.

Peep Season

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.

My own personal azalea trail.

Quick Luncheon Dessert

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.

Ingredients:

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.

Make the second tartlet the same way and place on the parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle both with the cinnamon sugar.

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.


Blessings for a a beautiful spring where you are.