Nor His Squire On A Bay Gelding

Our church has Mid-week meals to keep attendance on Wednesday up and our members connected during the week. I sat with members from my Sunday small group, ate supper, discussed common concerns for aging parents, re-glazing very old windows, little league and ‘hey, who is that sitting across the CLC?’

When it got to be time for choir, I put my tray up and headed out the door, but a dear friend called out to me.

“Amanda, hey, darling! How’re you doing?”

I gave her a hug and replied, “I’m good.”

“Are you really?” She looked at me over her glasses. “Not just saying that?”

I smiled.

“No, ma’am. I’m really doing well.”

We chit-chatted about my children. She told me about her granddaughter.  Then the question came:

“Has that shining knight on his white stallion showed up yet? ”

I just laughed and shook my head and glanced up at the ceiling.

“No, ma’am. Haven’t seen him, nor his squire on a bay gelding! You know, when I tell God that I am lonely,  you know what He tells me to do?”

“What is that?” my friend asked.

“Go for a walk,” I answered. Then I gave her a wry smile. “But I guess I’m walking in the wrong place, ’cause I haven’t met anybody.”

As she always does, she told me that she would pray for me. And she meant it, too. I went on to choir practice.

Here lately, I’ve been thinking about my ideal man. As if there is such a thing. I’m not naive- not anymore. But a woman can dream a little, right?

I don’t really care what he looks like. I married looks first go-round (he’s lost them, by the way). Funny side note: years ago, one night at church, my then husband and I were talking to a gentleman and he said, “Your boys get their good looks from you,” he said to my now ex. In the next breath he continued, “I can see that because your wife still has hers!” Haha!

Anyway.

I want a truly kind man. A tender hearted man. No push over, but compassionate.

I want a man who has read the literary classics or at least something in addition to Sports Illustrated and the Market Bulletin. Not that there’s anything wrong with those publications, but if he could quote a Shakespeare sonnet,  I’d just about forget the rest of my list and give him a chance right away.

Next, I would love a man who could sit down at my antique upright, with the Werlein’s sticker on it, and play me a love song. Oh, honey! Again, musical talent and well read; be still my heart.

Light on his feet. Yes, dancing in the kitchen, after the supper dishes are washed and put away is on my list. And please, he will have to know something other than the loaf of bread. What? You’ve never heard of it? That’s what I called the one dance move the ex had. His arms around my waist, he’d kinda tilt from left to right, as we turned in a slow circle. I’d get dizzy-headed and ask if we could stop and turn to go in the opposite direction. I felt like a loaf of Bunny Bread in his big ole arms! Long loaf. Thin sliced. White bread.

Now, don’t think I want a man with hands softer than mine. The afore mentioned paints a tame picture. Nope, no siree. Rudimentary manly skills in the yard and around the house, if you will. Cutting the grass, unclogging the disposal, fixing a leaky bathroom faucet.  He’s going to need to know how to change the oil in the tractor, too. And if he doesn’t already possess such knowledge, be willing to learn. A well read man shouldn’t mind discovering new things, right?

A Renaissance Man! Yes! Renovating an old house has made me appreciate men with a certain skill set. Youtube’s great for garnering knowledge, but watching a man work- one who knows what he’s doing, especially-  live and in person, well…

But none of the above will do, without the most important trait and character anchor: my ideal man must be a man after God’s own heart. A true man of God, not just a pew percher.  A true disciple of Jesus, not just someone who knows enough Scripture to misuse. A man who can swim down deep in his faith, never be content to splash only up to his ankles in the shallows. Yes, a lover of God more than he would ever love anything  or anyone else.  Including me.  Deal breaker, if he doesn’t love God and honor Him by keeping his life holy.

Deal breaker. First there’s got to be a candidate. Like I told my friend; I haven’t seen a knight on a white stallion nor is squire on a bay gelding. But I have seen the One who loves me best and I am content with Him.

Blessings.

And Then The Murders Began

I was going to start this with the weather report, but recently heard that was the best way to kill a writing. I also recently heard that the phrase, ‘and then the murders began’ (credit to Marc Laidlaw) can really ramp up a story. So, here goes…

When I bought my farmhouse nearly a year ago, I was pleased to find established fruit trees on the property. Two may haws have been blooming and are now making their tiny, bright red fruit.

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Big may haw tree

On my hands and knees, I gathered the windfall and filled up my box. As I stood up, the thorns of the spindly branches grabbed at my hair. And then the murders began…

Ha! Oh, well, I tried.

I gathered enough may haws for two batches of jelly. If you pick this tiny pomegranate like fruit, be prepared to make jelly the same afternoon. May haws are delicate and turn really quickly. I made one canner of jelly today and put the rest of the juice in the freezer.

20170430_110304 Wash and sort your berries. Place in a big stainless steel pot and cover with just enough water. Simmer for about 25 minutes and let cool in the pot. When cool, take a cup or two at a time and make a pouch in cheese cloth. Squeeze out all the juice into a big bowl. Repeat till all of the may haws have been juiced.

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May Haw Jelly

4 cups of juice

1 tablespoon butter

1 box Sure-Jell

5 cups white sugar

What to do:

Have your jelly jars and lids sterilized and keep them warm. This prevents them from breaking when filled with the hot jelly and placed in the water bath.

In a 6 quart pot pour in 4 cups of may haw juice and the butter. Add the box of Sure-Jell. I use a wisk to make sure the pectin is mixed well. Bring to a boil that cannot be stirred down. At this point, slowly pour in the 5 cups of sugar. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture back up to a boil and cook for another minute. With a metal spoon, skim off any foam that may have formed. (And look, save it; slightly bitter, but still sweet enough to eat on crackers. I really hate wasting any of it. Skim it off to make your jelly jars pretty.)

Working one jar at a time, fill jelly to a 1/4 inch of the top of the jars, wipe off any spills and seal with the canning lids. Place filled jars into the canner basket and carefully lower into the water bath. The water should be a slow rolling boil. Process for 5 minutes. Carefully remove and let them rest on the counter, lined with a kitchen towel, to cool.

Label and store in your jelly cupboard. I know, you probably don’t have a jelly cupboard. Who does these days? Put in any cupboard that’s kept at a fairly constant temperature and away from sunlight. This jelly is a beautiful deep pink and it would be a shame to have it turn in color.

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This recipe made 6 half pint jars, with a little dish extra. We ate that on cathead bicuits!

Enjoy. Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen. And then the murders began…!

Where Did My Spring Go On Pi Day?

It’s National Pi Day (3.14 – something to do with geometry, I hated math class),  and just for fun, earlier today I reposted a couple of my favorite pie recipes: Lemon Meringue and Sweet Potato.

We were getting geared up for Spring, but a cold front has blown in and dropped the temps in our part of the world. Comfort food was a must for supper. Nothing more comforting for us than mac and cheese. And no such thing as boxed macaroni and cheese – homemade and creamy, darling.

 

Creamy Pepper Jack Mac

Ingredients:

12 ounce package of rotini pasta, cooked to package directions

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup milk

1 package Greek cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces

2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

Salt and pepper

Vegetable spray

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a casserole dish with the vegetable spray. Drain boiled pasta and set aside. In a 3 quart pot, melt butter over medium heat and add flour. Stir together till bubbly. Slowly add the milk, stirring till thickened. Then slowly add the Greek cream cheese, stirring in 2 pieces at a time. When the mixture is smoothe, add the pepper jack, again stirring till mixed well and creamy. At this point, turn off the fire and pour the pasta back into the 3 quart pot.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat pasta well and then evenly spread into casserole dish.

Topping:

Cut 3 pats of butter into a bowl with 30 crushed Ritz crackers  and zap in the microwave for 20 seconds. Stir together and then top the creamy mac and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes. Serve as a side or as the entre’.

We had sausage dogs along with our Creamy Pepper Jack Mac.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

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It’s A Pecan, Not A PeeCan

Another pie recipe for National Pi Day. Blessings and enjoy from the Exile’s Kitchen.

theexileskitchen

A pie guard keeps the crust from getting g too brown A pie guard keeps the crust from getting g too brown

Sweet potato pie: good for breakfast, lunch, supper, snack, hot or cold Sweet potato pie: good for breakfast, lunch, supper, snack, hot or cold

It’s a little cooler this week. The temps are only suppose to be in the high 80’s to low 90’s, instead of triple digits. Even though it’s still August, here in our part of the world, school has started. There was a big jamboree at my kids’ old high school yesterday. Proud to announce that their Alma mater pulled out the win over a school in the area that they’ve never played before. This other school is a big public school and the one that my boys attended is a small independent school. There has been a lot of boasting over the years from both schools; both believing that they could beat the other. Well… that was settled last night. Good sportsmanship prevailed on both sides. Each…

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Lemon Meringue Pie

In honor of National Pi Day. Enjoy again.

theexileskitchen

Life has given me a bowl full of lemons; Not just a small bowl, but a great big, earthen ware, workhorse of a bowl. Do I want to make lemonade with those yellow, sour fruit? No. I want to make Lemon Meringue Pie.

In the country, I had a flock of bantam hens. In that flock were some Silver Duckwing bantams. There was a rooster: he had an attitude and his name was Jack. His crow wasn’t cock-a-doodle-do. He said, “Happy Easter!” Their little eggs made the filling color of Lemon Meringue Pie look like the summer sun.

I made this beautiful pie for special occasions, usually at Christmas and Easter or church choir parties. Today is Homemade Pie Day. That’s special enough of a reason to whip this up in the Exile’s Kitchen.

1 frozen pie crust, baked

Filling Ingredients:

4 eggs, seperated (yolks in a bowl, whites in…

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Build The Wall: A Non-political Post

A week before Christmas the sand mortar chimney was persuaded to come down. My oldest son climbed up into a hole in what will be the new kitchen ceiling, placed boards crosswise to create a make shift floor in the attic,  then asked for a ladder to be handed up to him. He stood on the ladder and still worked over his head, to knock the chimney down brick by brick. Being December, it was quite cold that Sunday, but we had a fun day and a fun time doing it. And now we have plenty of artisan brick for walkways and a pottager. Exciting!

The tongue and groove boards that covered the chimney breast were sorted and stored. Tenpenny nails had kept them secured to the rough hewn studs for over a 100 years. They had to be removed so the chimney could come down. In the chimneys place there will be a shiney new refrigerator. Possibly a cabinet of some sort.

Guess how I spent my Friday evening  and my Saturday morning? Yep, yanked all those giant nails from the tongue and groove boards. It was kind of therapeutic.  If a nail proved to be a little recalcitrant, I imagined someone’s face (will remain nameless) on the nail head and whacked away at it till it came out.

I had a birthday party to attend: my grandson turned one. He is so stinking cute! He smiled when he saw me and reached out for me to hold him. Best thing ever, being a grandmother. We get to relive the days when we were raising our own children, see their faces in their children’s faces and say “He gets that grin or that pout from So-and-So.”

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Brentlee Gabriel. Isn’t he a cutie!

Out at my house the azaleas are in full bloom, almost. They are way early, because even though it was very cold in December, this winter has been a mild one. As I always do, I walked my gardens and took a few pictures.

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In the curve of that shadow are huckleberries. They too are blooming.
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Pride of Mobile at the base of the cowcumber.

I hope your weekend is a good one, whether spent with family or enjoying a solitary refresher.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Checked Out

Payday equals grocery run. Groan with a slight snarl. It’s just the three of us, in our multigenerational household: my Same-age-as-her-tongue-and-a-little-older-than-her-teeth Mother, my 19 year old college aged son and myself. My son requested apples and vanilla Activia yogurt. My mother asked for two bottles of cranberry juice, a bag of marshmallows and Pop Tarts.

The grocery side of the store with the big W on it was packed this evening. In the frozen food section, buggies and people congested the aisle, so I decided that we really didn’t need any quick frozen dinners; I’d just go home and make something instead. As I turned my buggy around, I noticed a guy on his phone and thought to myself, ‘Probably calling his wife to ask what he needed to pick up on his way home. How thoughtful of him.’ Well, then I saw that he noticed me too and did 180 watching me as I passed down the aisle. I thought, ‘Do I know him?’ Then I got a little aggravated.  ‘Jerk,’ I said to myself. ‘There he is on the phone with his wife and he’s eyeing me in the frozen foods section.’ I gave him a shoulder as cold as a Stouffer’s lasagna.

I finished my shopping and got in the shortest check out line. And guess who was ahead of me? Yep. Mr. Frozen Foods. He was unloading TV dinners for one and granola bars from his shopping cart and again he turned to look at me. Not rudely, just trying to see if he wanted to start a conversation. I gave him a tiny, polite smile and noticed two things: he had a case of water under his buggy and he wore no wedding ring.

I began to wind back my first assumption of Mr. Frozen Foods. Maybe he wasn’t married. On the back of his work shirt was a logo. A quick Google search and I found out where he worked. Kinda. The company sells o-rings and hydraulic lift things.

As I had checked out the contents of his buggy, he covertly spied my shopping items. Apples, cranberry juice, yogurt, bacon, milk, Special K, Pop Tarts, marshmallows and a small stack of baby books for my grandson-it’s his birthday, by the way.

Did I see a tiny flicker of disappointment in his eyes? Then I realized he had done the same thing with me that I had done with him- he presumed. I had presumed he had a wife. He figured I had a bunch of kids at home. The look on his face said, ‘Hmmmm. I wonder how many she’s got at home?’ I wanted to tell him, you know with all the charm and flirtation I could smash together (God knows I’m out of practice), that the books were for my grandson and the Pop Tarts were for my mother. And why shouldn’t she enjoy her Pop Tarts? If you get to be her Same-age-as-her-tongue-and-a-little-older-than-her-teeth years you could eat whatever you wanted to, too.

Oh, well. He paid for his groceries and politely told the cashier to have a nice evening.

I went home and joked to my mother that her Pop Tarts and marshmallows had cost me a date.

I got checked out while waiting to be checked out.

Happy Birthday, Brentlee!

Blessings.

Patience

Ecclesiastes 3 says “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” 

Time at my farmhouse today was quiet and solitary. Old brown painted back porch walls became a serene blue. The sun slow danced across the restored pine floorboards. The 2″ angled brush was rinsed and reshaped and put away for another weekend.

As I always do, I took a walk around my property before leaving this sunny, winter afternoon.

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The cowcumber  (big leaf magnolia) soared to the clear sky. Country blue, and looking a little forlorn, the mailbox yawned open. George Taber shyly peered through a tangle of limbs. Yellow daffodils waved in the light breeze at the back patio. A broken wooden backboard wobbled under the giant and waxy magnolia.

Like the farmhouse, the old gardens need refurbishing. Someone else’s past is my future. The azaleas are impatient and blooming early. They may get a lesson in patience, by way of another super freeze. Patience…learning it is never easy.

“A time to tear down and a time to build.”  

Patience.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.