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.


Garden Time

A pail full of little yellow squash and new potatoes. At the big store with the “W” on it, I found a small basket of seed potatoes and on a whim I bought them. Planted Easter weekend, the squash seed and seed potatoes have started making. Recipes are coming to mind. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than sitting down to a homegrown supper.

Have you planted anything this spring? I have two rows of vegetables and eight rows of staggered plantings of zinnias, sunflowers and cosmos.

I love this time of year. It’s hard work, but so rewarding.


Mom and Popping It and Mayhaw Ice Cream

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.

I had friendly service at every mom and pop.

Small-town life; there’s nothing like it.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Blue Tarp Season

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….

.And Then The Murders Began

Note To Self

Use the Linen Napkins

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen

Strawberry Easy

I cannot let strawberry season go without contributing to the list of recipes.

Easy Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls

Take a can of crescent rolls and roll it out. Mix together 1/4 cup of sugar and a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle over rolled out dough. Layer fresh sliced strawberries over cinnamon sugar. At long end, roll up dough and strawberries. Cut into 8 to 10 individual strawberry cinnamon rolls. Place in a casserol dish spritzed with vegetable spray. Bake at 350° till golden and no longer doughy. The strawberries will cook down, almost like jam. Yum! While the rolls bake, in a small bowl, mix a 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar and one Land-o-Lakes Mini Moo for a glaze. When rolls are baked up and cooled slightly, drizzle glaze all over the top. Oh, boy!

Strawberry Easy

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Beauty Down a Country Road

We had snow, a very rare occurrence, in February, right before the azaleas started to put on their buds. The snow and ice hung around for a week. Snow and ice put nitrogen into the atmosphere. Plants need nitrogen to be healthy. The timing of this freak weather event brought on such a beautiful Springtime. These lovely flowering shrubs highlight a hope for a better year than last.


Ecclesiastes 3

Walnut Honey Drop Cookies

Sticking to your resolution? You know, the one about eating better? Have you weaned your sweet tooth away from all that sugar? Having trouble staying on track? Then try these: Walnut Honey Drop Cookies.


1 stick of butter

3 tablespoons of sugar

1/2 cup honey

1 egg

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking salt

A splash of vanilla

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup chocolate chips, your discretion

What to do:

Preheat oven to 325°. In a large bowl,, cream together first 4 ingredients. In another bowl, sift together remaining ingredients. Add in walnuts and chocolate chips (if you wish) and then incorporate flour mixture to creamed mixture.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls two inches apart, as they will spread a little. Bake about 12 to 14 minutes. These cookies are soft and not overly sweet, but will satisfy that pesky sweet tooth. Made with above recipe,, these are 120 calories each. Decrease the walnuts and chocolate chips and, well, you’ll decrease the calories. Yields about 2 dozen.

Very light in taste and texture.
Golden like the butter and honey in this recipe.

Enjoy and Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Other recent posts from the Exiles Kitchen

What Else Is There To Do?

The big football finale is on tomorrow- cannot call it the s/b words anymore, ’cause the NFL has them copywrited -copywritten, maybe? Whatever. I think I’ll make a big pot of beef chili to enjoy during the game.

This morning I baked simple cupcakes, chocolate and soy free. I used a Duncan Hines Signature cake mix and old fashioned chocolate buttercream, with both vanilla and rum extract. It’s cold, rainy and February; what else is there to do, but bake?

Chocolate buttercream with a generous splash of vanilla and rum extract

I used regular, paper baking cup liners in one pan and silicone liners in the other. The cupcakes were filled with the same amount of batter, but the cupcakes in the paper liners turned out with flatter tops and higher. The silicone cupcakes baked up with domed tops, but not as big as the others. Hmmmm…. go figure.

Sprinkles just because

Hope these stay around long enough for the big game.

Blessings and I hope your team wins.

Lunch Container

I threw away, oh IDK, about two dozen tops to plastic lunch containers, before Christmas. They had no bottoms, you see? Where they went, who knows? So, as I prepared my salad for the day I scrounged and contemplated what to put it in for lunch at work. Voila! Eureka! Serendipity! An antique Atlas pint jar to the rescue.

Isn’t it a pretty little salad? Mixed greens, chopped Gala apple, raisins, Dubliner cheese and Ranch dressing.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen for a Happy New Year.

Tastes good too.