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.
Here’s a recipe to make, while taking to down the Christmas tree: Peppermint Meringue Cookies. Not sure that cookie is a true description, because these are flourless. Maybe they are more like a candy. Make the peppermint meringues and you decide what to call them.
Here’s what to do:
Preheat oven to 225°.
In a stainless steel mixing bowl begin beating 4 egg whites. Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of cream of tartar. Keep beating. Crush up 3 candy canes, set aside. When the egg whites start to form high peaks, slowly add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. With the sugar incorporated, add a few sprinklings of the crushed candy canes. Okay, now the meringue is ready to drop onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Using a teaspoon, drop heaping dollops 2 inches apart. Place in oven and bake for 90 minutes. Turn oven off, when they are finished baking and let the meringues stay in the oven to cool and dry out.
Blessings for a great 2020 from the Exile’s Kitchen.
Christmas parties a plenty. One down; three more to go. This week. Today is the “office party”. I offered pralines and a lemon meringue pie. If you want, you can find those recipes here at theexileskitchen.com. Just let your fingers do the scrolling.
I’m in town this morning. My stand mixer is at Flowers Proper and so is the newer hand held. Deep in one of Mama’s kitchen cabinets, under stored paper plates and plastic cutlery, was her old General Electric hand mixer. She still works. She’s 60 years old, if she’s a day.
Eight egg whites in a bowl, pinch of salt, dash of cream of tartar, a splash of pure vanilla,sugar. Started the Old General up. The beaters were a little loose, but patience persevered and the meringue was glossy and beautiful.
Lovely, sticky whiteness was spread over the homemade lemon curd, fluffed, patted and run under a low broiler to toast it up. Just a bit.
It’s raining. Storming is a more appropriate description. I hope I get this pretty pie to work in one piece. The old General Electric mixer has been put away, but this time within easy reach. Her cord wrapped around her handle, just as my mother has done countless times.
Today is my mother’s birthday. There’s a 2-layer, white cake with lemon curd filling in the ice box (that’s Southern for refrigerator). Happy Birthday, Mama.
Bags of fresh cranberries are plentiful in the produce section of the grocery stores this time of year. It’s one of those food traditions that we never question and expect it to be on the holiday menu. Cranberries also seem to be one of those foods that folks either love or hate. Personally, I love cranberries. It’s really tasty on a sandwich made with left over turkey the day after Thanksgiving. They are good for you, too. Look it up.
Now, you can reach for a can of that congealed cranberry juice stuff concocted way back when your great-grandmother was a young woman. Time saver and convenient, if cranberries are just a garnish for your Thanksgiving plate, not really to be eaten with your turkey, then have at it.
You can make a better choice: fresh cranberry sauce. Below is what I do every year.
Here’s my recipe:
1 bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed in cold water
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
pat of butter, optional
What to do:
Place rinsed berries in a two quart pot and turn burner to medium heat. Add sugar, water, orange juice and pinch of salt. I think the tiny bit of salt helps cut the bitter taste that cranberries sometime have and makes the taste brighter. Bring berries to a gentle boil, stirring to disolve the sugar.
The berries will begin to pop, as their skins split. You’re almost through with the cooking part, at this stage. When the berries foam up, turn the fire off. With a metal spoon, skim the pink bubbly foam from the top of the pot. If you want to, add the pat of butter. This helps reduce any foam that may remain- it’s kind of hard to get all of the foam out of the cranberry sauce.
Cool the sauce before placing it in the frig. It can be made a day or two ahead of turkey day. Serve in your great-grandmother’s pretty cutglass bowl. She’d think you are the cat’s pajamas.