Let’s face it, money is tight. I look for any way to say a dime. Crispy Apple Skins are a byproduct of Fried Apples, which is one of my mother’s favorites. Throwing the apple peelings away seemed wasteful. I don’t have a dehydrator, but I do have a fabulous oven. Spread out on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and baked at 250° for two hours, the apple skins become chip-like. Turn off the oven and let them cool completely. Naturally sweet. My favorite apples to use are Honey Crisp. I’ve also used the peelings of Anjou pears; they’re good too. And what do I do with the crispy apple skins? Mostly I break them up into homemade granola. They could be added to oatmeal or a muffin recipe. Let your children imagination go nuts.
To make fried apples, peel a couple of apples and slice them into saute pan. Add a couple of pats of butter, a generous squeeze of honey and a good dash of cinnamon. Stir around till the butter melts. Then pour a 1/4 cup of water over the apples. Cover the pan and cook over medium/low fire, till the apples are tender.
I will attribute the following parenting advice to James Dobson, though it may have been another psychologist: when disciplining your child, use an inanimate object. Your hands should only being used in a gentle, loving touch.
Not my mother’s, but a picture of one like it. Really, I don’t know what happened to it.
My mother’s instrument of correction was a white, melamine hair brush, made by the Fuller Brush Company- it had a matching comb. They gave it the name Lady Catherine. Long gone these many years, I can still see it resting on the green tiled, bathroom counter. I hated that hairbrush.
Now, Mama used the Lady Catherine to brush our hair, of course. My hair was really thick, when I was a girl; it would tangle easily, but the Lady Catherine was employed to straighten things out. And I’d better not squirm, because I’d get a tap on my butt and an admonishment that it hurts to be beautiful. I would tell her that I didn’t want to be beautiful, if it meant pain… Any way, my mother would brush out my light brown hair that hung half way down my back, take the huge white comb, part my hair from brow to nape and make two 70’s pony tails. She then when would declare me beautimous and send me down the driveway to wait for the school bus.
Mama also used the molded, white, melamine brush with a chip on one corner of the handle to straighten out poor attitudes. Childhood shopping trips were prepped by a simple, little swat on the backside, along with a promise that if we misbehaved in town that a true spanking would be given, when we got home. We marched like little clockwork soldiers, while in public.
My cousin Gretchen was spending a weekend with us and Mama was going to take us shopping or to the movies, somewhere. I don’t remember. What I do remember is Gretchen standing in the bathroom door laughing at my brother and I as we got a warning swat from Lady Catherine. Mama looked at her niece and gestured for her to present herself. Gretchen’s eyes got wide with the realization that she would not be excluded from the swat-before-leaving-the-house.
“Aunt Madoline! You’re not going to whip me. I haven’t done anything.”
“I know you haven’t done anything, Gretchen. I’m not whipping you, this is just a little reminder to behave in town.”
Gretchen got the swat and Mama had three well-behaved children in town. But whenever asked if she wanted to come visit, Gretchen would always wanted to know if we would be going anywhere….
The white melamine hairbrush disappeared. Honestly, I don’t know what happened to it. Maybe one of the floods swept it away. Maybe it started losing bristles. All I know is that it vanished
What did last was the discipline of my mother. Was her method extreme? I don’t think so. It didn’t hurt us. I hated it as a kid. But I see now that Mama did it because she loved us enough to correct us. Though some of you reading this are probably appalled, but as I shop as an adult, I see many young children who could benefit from my mother’s method.
Did I employ the swat-before-leaving-the-house method? Occasionally. Also the reward and praise for good behavior. Both are good for rearing well behaved, well adjusted citizens.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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