Counting Cookies

I found myself counting, when making cookies this afternoon. Counting when I rolled the shortbread, after dusting them with powdered sugar, and again when room had to be made on the wire rack to cool. Twenty-four all three times. There was some dough saved and rolled into a log, then wrapped in parchment. It went into the freezer for easy cookie baking later in the holiday season.

Fall Shortbread today; modified a recipe I shared last year: August Cookie of the Month: Cranberry Pecan Shortbread Instead of chopped pecans and dried cranberries, I added some sprinkles shaped and colored like Fall Leaves.

I counted twenty-three cookies, when arranged in the vintage Louisa glass serving piece. How’d that happen? Had to taste test, don’tcha know? Powered sugar coated thumbs up! Perfect, if I do say so myself.

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The idea from Pinterest seemed promising, but I’m calling this a fail. Our little pumpkin patch fun takes place tomorrow afternoon. Hoping the activities that are planned will go off better.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

The Dawgs Suck

It’s pumpkin season, as I’m sure you know.  We have a little pumpkin patch of our own this Fall. My grandsons have been keeping a check on them and next weekend we will have a family cookout and raid on the pumpkin patch to carve jackolanterns.

I’ve never made pumpkin soup, heretofore, but as I have these little pumpkins, I thought I’d try it. I washed, seeded, chunked,  and coated 2 pumpkins with olive oil, before roasting in the oven. When tender and cooled, I took a spoon and scraped out the cooked pulp. I had about 3 1/2 cups, which I smoothed out with an immersion blender. In a big pot, with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, I sauteed 1 chopped yellow onion and 4 chopped cloves of garlic. I added the pumpkin pulp into the pot, added spices of salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutneg and pepper to taste. To this , I stirred in 4 cups of chicken stock and let it simmer for around 15 minutes. After it was through cooking, I stirred in a 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Another spin with the immersion blender to ensure it’s creaminess and the soup was ready for my bowl.

Along side my bowl of pumpkin soup, was a plate of mustard decorated corndogs. Why not? I’m a  Louisiana State University fan. Can’t grow up in Baton Rouge and not be. Today we play the Mississippi State University Bulldogs. The Bulldogs call us Tigers corndogs. Yeah, really, why?  Both are agricultural schools. And the trek to MSU is way more rural than it is to LSU. Are the Tigers and their fans uncouth, is that what the Dawgs are trying to say? Oh, well.

My opinion of the Dawgs is rendered in mustard. 20191019_12523720191019_125347

Even the wildflowers gathered on my morning walk are rooting for the Tigers. Purple and gold, baby.

Tiger Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Soup’s On

Soup’s on! Finally.

I dug around in the pantry and freezer for homemade, hearty soup ingredients and dumped them into the Dutch oven for a comforting and nurturing bowl of love. How’s that for a run on sentence? Sausage cut into thin pieces, can of corn drained, a chopped onion, 1/2 cup frozen field peas, some dried red beans, a can of chicken broth, a small can of tomato sauce, 1/4 cup of brown rice, 1 1/2 cups of water and seasoning to taste. Except salt; I’ll add that after the red beans have cooked down. It may not need it. We’ll see.

It is, at last, soup weather here in our part of the world. Yesterday in the muggy 80’s; today overcast 60’s. Looks and feels like October. Not rushing the seasons. Thankful we have them. Perfect weather or the same weather year round would be boring to me. We have mild winters usually, rather wet springs, long, hot summers, and serene autumns. The world is getting sleepy outside, wrapping its self in dying grasses and falling leaves. Pumpkins are ready to pick and the turnips needs to be planted.

Enjoy each grace from each season. And make yourself some soulful soup.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

 

Stop Rushing

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It’s Autumn, supposedly. The thermometer says it’s still August. The local big box stores and ads on social media say it’s Christmas.

We hurry too much. We miss too much. We need to stop rushing around and practice breathing in the simple beauty of the transitioning months. Homegrown flowers, little pumpkin, Mr. Irving’s Sketchbook harken to Autumn, even if the temps do not. Practice the pause.

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Autumn Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

September Saturday

What am I doing? Well, waiting on a guy to get out here to give an estimate for tearing down and hauling off a shed that’s falling in. I’m also waiting on a repair man for the satellite to be fixed. It’s college football season, after all.

And then, I’ve got canvas drop cloths spread out on the floor. Painting? No. Trying to figure out how to sew together a cover for the cars backseat. Marigold’s hair gets everywhere; you wouldn’t think a bloodhound would shed like she does, but oh, my goodness!

First, though, coffee and breakfast.

Traditions fill the counter top and old window sill. LaSolana pottery, Louisa Glass, Fire King pieces remind me of trips to Clinton, Louisisana each spring for a gigantic antiques fair. It was tradition to go that Easter weekend to the Felicianas, where my Grandmother had  roots. The church ladies of that town got together and served sweets, gumbo, and the best chicken salad sandwiches ever! The  LaSolana pottery sugar and creamers were found in the back of a farmhouse kitchen cabinet, when it was being demolished. Perfect for a small arrangement of fresh flowers. The Louisa glass is a compote dish I started collecting way back when ( attached to excursions to Clinton, LA). The Fire King mug is part of a set bought at an auction. And in that mug, another tradition: Community Coffee. Community Coffee is based out of my hometown of Baton Rouge. I didn’t start drinking coffee till a few years back. Making up for it, though.  Coffee Time

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Saturday Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Half-a☆☆Works

Scared of the lawn mower, the praying mantis crawled up my leg. A few stomps and it fell back to the freshly cut grass. I moved a lawn chair and got popped by a wasp. Bugs aside, cutting grass in August is brutal, especially with a mower that has a broken self-propelling thingy. I had one a couple of summers ago that worked beautifully, but a crackhead thought he needed it more than I did. The mower that replaced it has not been worth the money and keeps breaking down and I’m tired of taking it to get fixed, but can’t afford a really nice riding lawn mower, sooooo….. There’s a note written in black Sharpie for anyone coming for a free mower: half-a☆☆ works; not worth stealing. Dear Mr. Drug Head – A Vent To An Idiot

The back garden, near the old orchard is hilly and the wild hogs visit frequently- I fell. Right down on my tail. Sweat dripped into my eyes. A few more turns and I decided to go inside to cool off. And make cookies. Of course. Why not?

Sweep of the Kitchen Cookies

Ingredients:

That mushy banana that’s been on the kitchen counter all week

The last 2 tablespoons of Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter

1 egg

1/2 cup brown sugar

A healthy generous squirt of local honey

A splash of vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

A couple of dashes of cinnamon

1/2 cup chocolate chips

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a mixing bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients. In a medium bowl, combine the next 4 ingredients. Dump into the banana and peanut butter mixture and stir till combine, but don’t overbeat. Stir in chocolate chips.

On insulated, parchment lined cookie sheets, drop three inches apart scoops of the cookie dough. I did 6 cookies per 2 cookie sheets; these cookies spread a little and I wanted them to have some room to bake up pretty. Bake for about 12 minutes, till the edges brown and the tops are golden. Makes about 18 nice, flavorful cakey cookies.

After cookie making and a light lunch, the garden hat and sunglasses were adorned again. I like cutting grass. It’s satisfying, seeing it all mown. Marigold likes to roll around in freshly cut grass. Maybe with this dog days of summer heat, the grass will slow down in growing and won’t need to be cut again for a while. My hand hurts from the wasp sting. Oh, well. A cookie and a Mayhaw Soda will make it feel better. Note To Self

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Summertime Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Somehow Carrots Were Put In My Refrigerator

The house was filled with company the week of July 4th. Different ones made multiple trips to the grocery store and somehow carrots were put in my refrigerator and then left. What to do with them? Too hot for a stew. Or a souffle’.

It is also pear season. One of my daughters-in-laws gifted me with fresh pears. For about a week, I canned pear preserves and pear butter.

In a simple muffin batter, the carrots and pears made a nice flavor combination.

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped pear preserves

2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whole milk

An additional 1/2 cup white surgar with a generous dash of both cinnamon and nutmeg mixed in

1/4 stick of melted butter

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl, combine first six ingredients. In another mixing bowl sift together the next seven ingredients. Alternating between the flour mixture and milk, add to the carrot and pear base.

Prepare muffin cups, big or small with vegetable spray. I used a mini muffin tin. Bake for 30 minutes or until tops bounce bake, when tapped and golden in color.20190810_135958

Loosen with a knife, cool slightly.  Dip into the melted butter, then swirl around into the spiced sugar. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Y’all Know How to Do This, Right?

Mancakes

I used to do this for the first day of school when my boys were growing up and also on their birthdays. Y’all know how to do  this, right? Basic pancake recipe poured  into a gingerbread man cookie cutter, set on top a Lodge cast iron griddle equals mancakes. (You can use any metal cookie cutter, by the way.) Coat both the griddle and cookie cutter with vegetable spray, before filling the cutter with batter. When the batter cooks up with bubbles, take a set of tongs and gentle pull the cookie cutter away. Flip with a spatula and cook on the other side.

 

My great nephew visited all week and he enjoyed his plate of mancakes.

Later…

In the country, the garden needed tending. Miscellaneous items came together for a little girl scarecrow. She is guarding the late planted pumpkins.

 

Know-how Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Note To Self

Simple syrups; I’ve been trying out a few recipes. For Independence Day, I mixed up Mayhaw Sodas, using a simple syrup made with-you guessed it!- mayhaws. The taste is bright, sweet and tangy, like my favorite jelly.

I had a bag of lemons in the refrigerator and I needed to do something with them, before they ruined. I thought about a honey lemon simple syrup. The bag of lemons were halved and juiced. I reached and got one of my many measuring cups and poured the fresh lemon juice into it. Spooning out a few errant lemon seeds, something else floated around in the bottom of the cup. Eight whispy legs and a slight bulbous body of a daddy-long leg spider! Note to self: examine measuring cups before filling. Briefly I considered fishing out the sinister bug, but knew I would think about the floatsum every time I used the syrup, so down the kitchen drain went the juice and the spider.

Switch in plans. Two simple syrups. Two homemade sodas.

Honey Lemon Simple Syrup

Here’s what to do: In a medium sauce pan, combine 1 cup honey, 1 cup water and 1 cut lemon peel. Stir to combine and bring to a light simmer. Pluck out the lemon peel, with a pair of tongs and continue to simmer syrup for another 30 minutes. Let cool and pour into a jar, lid it up and keep it in the frig. Use it up in 2 weeks. You won’t have a problem doing this.

Next.

Mayhaw Simple Syrup 

Ready? Well, follow the above directions using 1 cup water, 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup frozen mayhaw berries. If you don’t have mayhaws, use blueberries, cherries, blackberries. You get the idea. Again, when the syrup is combined and begins to reduce, remove the berries and simmer following the above.

Now, get out a set of pretty of glasses and mix up a refreshing summer soda. Into a 4 ounce glass pour 3 tablespoons of your simple syrup. Add 4 big ice cubes. Top off with club soda.  Give a vigorous stir with a long handled ice tea spoon.

So pleasantly different from store bought soda and pop. Inexpensive to make, you know exactly what is in it. Homemade all the way, baby!

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The Honey Lemon Simple Syrup is a deep amber and the Mayhaw Simple Syrup is a beautiful berry- go figure…

Simple Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Tongue In Cheek or We Shook the Family Tree and Another Yankee Fell Out

Tongue in cheek
Indulge me please.
My eldest is doing genealogy for both sides of his family.
Papaw (My father’s father) always said to not go digging around in the past; you never know what you might find. Horse thieves from Missiouri, perhaps… If only that were the case. Thieving horse stealers would be so preferable to what he has found out about my great-great-grandfather. The dirty Yankee! It pains me greatly to admit it. Damn Yankee! Multiple wives. A preacher to boot! Oh, oh, oh!! I am beside myself with this information. Now we know why he was never mentioned- no family story about him to pass down.
Horse thief/Yankee. Not equal in my estimation. Yankee is far worse.
What would my Daddy have thought? I wonder.
Thank God for my Southern Grandmothers. A praying group of women they have always been.
God bless the Southern Belles that the Yankee men fell for…. at least for a time, because they didn’t stay around long till they skedaddled back to their Yankee mothers.
And here I was calling my ex’s people traitors and opportunistic raccoons for siding with the North up in Tishomingo County during the Northern Aggression. Guarding Grant himself. I think. Maybe Sherman..? That’s still worse because they were Southern born and bred.
Oh, my identity, proudly Southern, has been smeared with Yankee blue on both my mother’s and now my father’s side. Oh, oh, oh.
So, all of this begs a question: what the heck am I? Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Live in Podunk Mississippi. Does your geographical position make you Southern? I do hope so.
I don’t like cold weather. Snow is a big No for me. My blood is too thin to live above the Mason Dixon Line.
I cringe when I hear children answer adults with a plain yes or nah. That should be “Yes, ma’am” or “No, ma’am”, thank you very much.
While in Washington, D.C. a few summers back, I toured some of the Smithsonian. Going through a metal detector, the young girls ahead of me ignored the security guard’s greeting to have a nice time touring the museum. He wanded my purse and also told me the same that he had told the girls. But I responded the way my very Southern Grandmother would have wanted, “Thank you, sir,” I answered. He stopped me. “Ma’am, ma’am. Where are you from?” he asked. “Mississippi,” I replied. “Ah, Mississippi,” the security guard said wistfully with a smile. He gently shook his finger at me and said again, “Well, you have nice time visiting D.C., ma’am.” He heard my Southern accent. He recognized my Southern manners.
In an antique shop in a suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, my accent opened the shop owner’s want for conversation and to find a thin thread of commonality between us. “Oh, you’re from the South, ” she said when she heard me say that I was just browsing. “Quite South,” I answered. “Quite South?” the shop owner repeated. “Yes, I am from Mississippi, by way of Baton Rouge.” “Oh, Baton Rouge! Are you Catholic, by any chance?” “Uh, no”, I replied. “I ask,” she said, “because I went to Catholic school and all the nuns were from Baton Rouge.” That thin thread connecting.
And I enjoy my cornbread and peas every New Year’s Day. I had a Northerner tell me one time that catfish was a bottom feeding trash fish. Might be, but next to hushpuppies and coleslaw I call that a mighty fine meal. Grits! Try ordering that in northern environs. If one could find it on a menu, you’d have to gain access to the kitchen to teach them how to prepare them. The joys of a ripe tomato between two pieces of lightly toasted bread with a slathering of mayonnaise. Did that last word have you confused? If it did you are probably a Yankee. ‘Cause y’all shortened that word to just mayo and now everybody calls it that. Being from Louisiana, and growing up in the Southern part of the state, the Cajun influence was deep. Mayonnaise was pronounced ‘my-nez’. It’s not your “nez”, it’s my “nez”. I know, I know. Wasn’t until I moved to Mississippi that I learned to pronounce it correctly. Mayo-naise. Ah, well.
No white shoes or clothing after Labor Day and never before Easter. And you don’t leave the house with wet hair or not brushed either. You go out the door as an example of your upbringing. You represent your family at all times.
All of the above makes me Southern, right? Can we not just rebury that Yankee? It was a difficult time. The War Between the States. He was young. She was younger. It was a border state. Emotions were high and off kilter. Poor little Susan. She didn’t know John would turn that Yankee coat and head back home right after the war was over.
I’m going to say I’m Southern. Claim it for my own.
P.S.
(I love you my Yankee friends. You’re down here. You must know a good thing when you see it.)
Thank you for reading.

Genealogy Blessings from the very Southern Exile’s Kitchen.

(this was first posted on my fb acct last year and has been edited)