Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

I have made this cake around Christmas for the last few years because it combines 2 of Ralph's most favorite things...chocloate and gingerbread. It is really good...I mean REALLY good!!

Chocolate Gingerbread

Feast by Nigella Lawson


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup plus 2 TBS dark brown sugar

2 TBS superfine sugar

3/4 cup golden syrup or light corn syrup

3/4 cup black trectale or molasses

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

2 TBS warm water

2 eggs

1 cup milk

2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

6 oz package or 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


2 cups confectioner's sugar

2 TBS unsalted butter

1 TBS unsweetened cocoa

1/4 cup ginger ale

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and tear off a big piece of parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of a roasing pan, 12 X 8 X 2.

In a suacepan melt the butter along with the sugars, golden syrup, trectale or molasses, cloves, cinnamon, and ground ginger. In a cup dissolve the baking soda in water. Add the milk and lightly beat eggs and mix well. Stir in the flour and cocoa and beat with a wooden spoon to mix. Fold in the chocolate chips, pour into the lined pan and bake for about 45 minutes until risen and firm. It will be slightly damp underneath the set top and that's the way you want it.

Remove to a wire rack and let cool in the pan. Once cool, get on with the frosting.

Sift the cofectioner's sugar. In a heavy-based sauce pan heat the butter, cocoa and ginger ale. Once the butter's melted, whisk in the confectioner's sugar. Lift the gingerbread out of the pan and unwrap the paper. Pour over the frsoting just to cover the top and cut into fat slabes when set.

Kitchen Notes

-I have made this in two smaller pans. One to keep and one to give away. Otherwise, I just eat too much of this super yummy cake. If you do this, just reduce the cooking time a bit.

-I don't know if I have ever used the parchment and it aleays comes out just fine. I just pour the frosting over right in the pan.

Christmas French Toast

I love to make French Toast. I normally use old bread that I have baked. I love cinnamon and fresh nutmeg and generally use a lot of them in my French toast. I starting making Panatone and Stollen at Christmas a few years back (I need to post that recipe). I found both Panatone and Stollen make great French Toast. Also, I was reading a couple of years ago about using leftover eggnog to make French Toast. A light bulb went off and now I make this special Christmas French Toast every year. You can use Panatone or Stollen, which ever you have and I will guess at the ingredients but this is something I never measure.

Christmas French Toast

1 loaf Stollen or Patatone

3 cups egg nogg

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp fresh nutmeg, or 1/2 tsp powdered

1/2 tsp vanilla

Make thick, even slices of the bread. In a flat pan, mix wet ingredients and spices. Briefly soak the bread in the mixture and dain the best you can. Cook in a medium hot skillet with melted butter.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Cardamon Cookies

Possibly the best cookies that I have ever eaten. Not ooey gooey but thin, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside with a perfect spice. I love these cookies!!

Cardamon Cookies

1 c butter

1 1/2 c sugar

1 egg

2 Tbs dark corn syrup

3 c flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp soda

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cardamon

Cream butter, sugar, eggs, and syrup. Mix in remaining ingredients. Mold into rolls approximately 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper and chill for at least 1 hour. Slice and bake on greased cookie sheets at 350 degrees for 9-12 minutes.


2 3/4 c flour

2 TBS cream of tartar

1 c butter

1 1/2 c sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

Rolling mixture:

Equal parts cinnamon and sugar

Beat butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until light and creamy. Add dry ingredients and mix throughly. Chill 1-2 hours. Roll into balls, about a teaspoon each, and then roll in rlling mixture. Bake 8-10 min each at 400 degrees.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Kathie's Turtles

Well, I used this recipe from my online friend Kathie and they sure are good. I did use the corn syrup. I think you could try making the standard sugar and water subsititution for the corn syrup. It's so hard to make candy here where we live because it is so very humid all the time! I picked a couple of "drier" days and made these turtles and the peanut brittle. I think that's about it for candy for the year.

The caramel is chewy and the chocolate has a good shell. These are really tasty. I think the one change I would try is toasting the pecans as the first step. Then again...they'rre really good the way they are. Thank you Kathie!!

1 lb. small pecan halves
2 cups light cream
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dipping chocolate (I used Ghiradelli bitterweet chips, melted in a double boiler, and then put the candy in the fridge for 10 minutes or so to get it to set after I dipped the turtles)

On buttered cookie sheets, arrange 6 dozen groupings of 4 pecan halves, to
resemble turtles; set aside.
In a large heavy saucepan, heat 1 cup cream to lukewarm. Add corn syrup,
sugar and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, over moderate heat, until
mixture boils very slowly.
Stir in remaining 1 cup of cream that has been heated to lukewarm. Add
slowly so mixture does not stop boiling. Cook and stir constantly for 5
Stir in butter, 1 teaspoon at a time. Turn heat low; boil gently and stir
constantly until mixture reaches 245 degrees F.
Remove from heat; gently stir in vanilla.
Cool slightly. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of syrup over each group of pecan
halves. Cool. Spread with melted dipping chocolate, or dip each turtle

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Johnny's Broccoli Cole Slaw

I got this wonderful little salad from our friend Stella at the hunting lodge. Ralph has been eating it hand over fist for the past few weeks and I can barely keep enough made. I have brought it to several holiday parties as an alternative to the heavy baked casseroles and I have been asked for the recipe every time.

Johnny's Broccoli Cole Slaw


1/4 cup oil

6 TBS white vinegar

4 TBS sugar

2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp pepper

Wisk together.

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 TBS sesame seeds

2 packages broccoli cole slaw

1/2 c unsalted sunflower seeds

6 firmly chopped green onions

Saute almonds and sesame seeds until light brown, then toss with other ingredien. Pour dressing over all and mix well. Best if made one day in advance.

Buttery Peanut Brittle

Peanut brittle is not something that I love, nor would I normally make. I had bunches of red skin peanuts left over from the wedding so I decided to make some. I had to compromise my ethics and buy Kayro syrup, but it still turned out pretty well. I will pack most of it up in gift baskets for gifts this year.


courtesy of cooks.com

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 cup white Karo syrup

1 candy thermometer

Cook sugar, water and Karo syrup together until temperature is 240°F degrees, then add 1 lb. nuts.

Cook until candy thermometer reads 300°F degrees. Butter the cookie pan and have ready (this is very important!):

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoon butter

Measure out and have ready:
2 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Quickly add salt, vanilla and butter, and have the 2 1/2 teaspoon of soda ready. Remove from heat, quickly add the soda (when adding the soda the mixture will fizz). Pour the (very hot!) mixture onto the greased cookie sheet or pan. Don't touch it or try to level the mixture with spoon.

Hint: During the cooking period, the mixture must be stirred constantly to prevent the nuts from burning.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wild Mushroom Chicken pasta with Basil Asiago Cream Sauce

At our house, you get to pick anything you want for dinner on your birthday and I will do my best to make it. We have been to the Crystal Palace at Disney many, many times and Ralph LOVES 2 things there--the salmon and the pasta. I made this pasta for the wedding a few weeks ago so I guess he had it on the brain, because this is what he wanted for his birthday dinner.

Sorry that I forgot to get a picture of this but if you are going to make something with pasta, this is something to consider since it is so very good!


The Crystal Palace Restaurant

Magic Kingdom

Serves 4 to 6 people

Mini Penne Pasta:1/2 pound Mini Penne Pasta (dry/uncooked)

1. Follow direction on the package to cook the pasta to al dente.

2. Cool pasta with cold tap water and set aside at room temperature.


1-1/2 cups heavy cream1 tablespoon fresh basil (wash, stemmed, and chopped)

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

1/2 teaspoon chicken base or powdered chicken bullion

1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic

1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese

1. Bring heavy cream, all seasonings, garlic, basil, and chicken base to a low simmer in a 2-quart saucepan. Let it simmer to 10 minutes to develop flavors.

2. Carefully add the shredded cheese. Stir constantly to avoid breaking the sauce. You must not boil the sauce at any time.

3. Add the butter to thicken the sauce slightly. Cover the sauce & set it aside from the heat until you are ready to add it to the pasta.

Pasta Completion:

6 each skinless boneless chicken thighs

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 cup sliced button mushrooms

1/4 cup sliced Shitake mushrooms (be sure to discard the stem)

1/4 cup diced Portobello mushrooms

1 cup Basil Asiago Cream Sauce (full amount from recipe above)

1-1/2 pounds cooked Gimelli pasta (full amount from recipe above)

2 tablespoons chiffonade (thinly sliced) fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese

1. Dice chicken and remove excess fat.

2. In a large saute pan, heat oil until it begins to smoke.

3. Add chicken and season with salt, white pepper, and granulated garlic.

4. Once chicken is fully cooked, add mushroom and cook them thoroughly.

5. Add the pasta to the saute pan and stir for three minutes.

6. Now add the sauce and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.

7. Remove the pasta from the heat and place it on to serving dishes and garnish with basil and Asiago cheese.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Orleans

On the route home we stopped in New Orleans. We stopped and I jacked the kids blood sugars up on bignets and then walked them around the city until they crashed. Then of course, I put them in the car and drove as far as possible! :)

You know I really work hard at giving my children the best nutrition that I can. The thing is, in my humble opinion, that there has to be a balance. I don't make anything taboo but there is always moderation. I don't want them to be so anxious to get away from me just so they can have something that they want to eat. As it turns out, neither of the three children finished one bignet and they all had a mild stomach ache. That in my opinion is a much better lesson!

Sunday, December 09, 2007


The middle of October saw the death of my dear friend May. I made an epic trip (28 hours in the car roundtrip) over 3 days with our three kids to attend her funeral in LA.

After the funeral we headed home. My goodness, there were farm stands all over the bayou. It was great to see. Not to mention, the huge fields of sugar cane that were being harvested. The sugar cane was so beautiful it almost made me not have disgust for the affect that it has had on so many of us.

We only stopped at one of these stands. This little place was in Raceland on LA Hwy 1. I bought Satsumas and the single greatest "prawlines" I have ever tasted. I tasted one and then bought everyone she had!! They had militons growing all around and the lady's husband was grinding sassafras for gumbo file' around back. I didn't get near enough pictures of this beautiful little place.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I love roadside stands...LOVE them!! Always have. Not the kind where they get all their stuff from the local wholesaler, but the kind that are only open for a few months out of the year. The produce is local and they can tell you all about where they got it and the guy who grew it...which is often themselves.

I've stopped at this place twice this year. Once early in peach season and once late. Both times I got great produce. If you're ever in Edgefield County, SC please stop in and give them a try.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Super Canning Day

Just wanted to make a record of which recipes I used for what things since it was such a super busy day in the kitchen!

Blue Ribbon Preserves, Linda Amendt (BRP)

Ball Blue Book (BBB)

Blackberry Jam, BRP 69

Fig Jam, BRP 72

Cherry Jam, BRP 71

Apple Jelly, BRP 104 (just used the same as the grape juice)

Grape Jelly, BRP 104

Hot Pepper Jelly, BBB 36

Scuppernong Jelly, used the instuctions for grape jelly in the pkg insert

Peach Jelly, BRP112

Cherry Jelly, BRP 98

Peach preserves, BRP 151

Blackberry Preserves, BRP 147

Pear Jelly, BRP

Saturday, September 01, 2007


We have dear friends that raise pastured poultry. One of them has been very sick and in the hospital. There were about 140 birds that needed to be processed. I volunteered to help. Oh my, the things that I get myself into!!

After a day of farm chores and butchering and processing 70 chickens, I have a few thoughts...

--We do not give our farmers the respect they deserve

--I am blessed that I have never had to work in a poultry plant

--If this is how tough it is on a farm where the animals are treated very well, I can't imagine what it would be like under factory farming conditions
--I never want to eat conventionally farmed meat again (not that we eat it that often anymore)
--I didn't have nightmares but I wouldn't have been suprised if I did
--That chicken plucker is one seriously amazing invention

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Muscadine Grapes

Scuppernogs last weekend at the farmers market and now the muscadines are in this weekend. I ran some through the juicer. The juice is just so beautiful!! I think I will make some jelly, not sure about the rest. I ended up with 5 quarts of juice.

August Update

Well, I've been bad about updating my blog over the past few weeks. The trip to Alabama seemed to mark a lull in my canning energy. Time to get back with it!! Last week, I found some scuppernogs at the farmers market. I juiced them on Monday morning and then had surgery on Monday afternoon. Needless to say, no jelly or syrup out of them yet. Expect those pictures in the next week or so.

Update on the cukes I have been fermenting for weeks on end...I give up!! They have fermented well but after over 2 months they aren't even close to being finished. It's time for me to cry uncle on this batch and consider doing a late summer batch. Then again, I can always try again next year.

I have lots and lots of things in the freezer that are in mid-canning. Over the next two or three weeks, all of these are joing to have to find their way into jars. Juices of blueberry, strawberry, peach, muscadine, scuppernog, blackberry. There is tomato water to be canned. Tomato pulp to go through the strainer. There are more blackberries, peaches, and blueberries that are just begging to be made into jam or preserves!

Apples and pears will be here soon and I need to start planning. I also need to get some soups made. I was hoping to can a bunch of tomato soup this summer but the local tomatoes are already gone. One of the local farmers tells me that there should be a late crop of both tomatoes and cukes, if the weather holds. We'll see...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Silver King Corn

We stopped at Mark's Melon Patch on the way to Alabama last week. They were unloading the truck with Silver King corn. Silver Queen I know of, but Silver King? I wasn't too sure, but I bought a peck basket since there would be a lot of people where we were going.

The corn got cooked and it was without a doubt the best corn that I have ever had!! Therefore, with the Explorer packed to the brim we stopped on the way home. Ralph said very confidently before we stopped, "Oh, we have plenty of room!" Famous last words! We were able to get two bushel bags into the car. He said that he was terrified that I had gotten three when he saw the size of them.

I don't can corn unless it is a relish. All of this got cut off the cob and frozen...of course, a large amount was and is still being eaten fresh on the cob.

I am sure that Silver King is some mutant hybrid from some wretch of a company like Monsanto...but, it was really tasty!!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Large Mouth Bass

We caught a bunch of bass while we were on vacation. I am sure that there will be many bass recipes coming soon as my freezer now has many bags, cleaned and ready to go!
This is a picture of Alexander carrying one to the cooler! He learned how to really fish on this trip!

Chocolate Cake and Vanilla Ice Cream

Our oldest turned 7 today. I just have to wonder where the time has gone. I can't believe that it has been 7 years!! We had chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream...
Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1-Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
2-Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour into pans.
3-Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-Melt butter. Stir in cocoa.
2-Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to spreading consistency. Add more milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.
-This is the quickest, easiest, best tasting chocolate cake around!!
-I double the frosting recipe to really have a nice amount for frosting.
-About half of the frosting and cake cocoa in the picture was the Special Dark kind. It gives it that darker chocolate flavor. You could do the whole thing that way, I just didn't have enough.
Vanilla Ice Cream
By Cuisinart for their 1 1/2 quart ice cream maker
1 cup whole milk, well chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, to taste
In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or whisk to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes on low speed. Stir in heavy cream and vanilla to taste. Turn machine on, pour mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes.
-I take this out after going through the Cuisinart and place it in the deep freeze for several hours.
-I use one of my vanilla beans soaking in vodka (see earlier post) and squeeze the beans out of it when I am adding the vanilla extract. This gives it that nice vanilla bean taste and look.

Freshwater Mussels Steamed in Wine Broth

Well, I have never cooked freshwater mussels but I gave it a try this past week while we were in Alabama. The boys waded into the water with Gene and came out with a sackful. Here is what I did with them.

Freshwater Mussels Steamed in Wine Broth

1 large onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups white wine

1 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

30 Mussels cleaned and scrubbed well. Only use ones that are tighly closed or will close when tapping on them.

Saute the onions in olive oil until translucent in a large pot. Add the garlic being careful not to burn. Add the thyme and stir. Then add the chicken broth and wine. Bring to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and adjust the salt and pepper. Add the mussels, stir and cover. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Check and remove any mussels that have opened. Don't over cook. Continue to take them out and place them in a serving bowl as they open. Once all the mussels are cooked pour some of the sauce over them and serve with bread for dipping in the sauce.

--You could really use just about any herbs that you have available
--I think a slosh of heavy cream would be nice in the sauce, after the mussels are removed but before you pour it into the bowl.

Bread-andButter Pickle Slices

Bread-and-Butter Pickle Slices

So Easy to Preserve, 2006

yield about 8 pints

6 pounds of 4 to 5-inch pickling cucumbers

8 cups thinly slices onions, about 3 pounds

1/2 cup salt

Crushed or cubed ice

4 cups vinegar (5%)

4 1/2 cups sugar

2 Tablespoons mustard seed

1 1/2 tablespoons celery seed

1 tablespoon ground tumeric

1 cup pickling lime (optional)

Preparation-Wash cucumbers. cut 1/16-inch off blossom end and discard. Cut into 3/16-inch rings. Combine cucumbers and onions in a large bowl. Add salt. Cover with 2-inches crushed or cubed ice. Refigerate 3 to 4 hours, adding more ice as needed.

Preparation variation for Firmer Pickles-Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch off blossom end and dicard. Cut into 3/16-inch slices. Mix 1 cup pickling lime, 1/2 cup salt and 1 gallon water in a 2 to 3 gallon crock, glass container or enamelware container. CAUTION: Avoid inhaling lime dust while mixing the lime-water solution.

Soak cucumber slices in lime water for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove from lime solution, rinse and resoak one hour in fresh cold water. Repeat the rinsing and soaking steps two more times. Handle carefully, as slices will be brittle.

To Make Pickles-Add sugar and remaining ingredients to vinegar in a large pot. Boil 10 minutes. Add well drained cucumbers and onions and slowly reheat to boiling. Fill pint or quart jars with slices, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Fill to 1/2 inch from top with hot cooking liquid. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process pints or quarts for 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.

After processing and cooling, jars should be stored 4 to 5 weeks before use to develop ideal flavor.


--I had never used lime in making pickles so I chose this recipe and went with the lime variation. There is no doubt that they are crisper than using the standard ice method.
(I did these last week before we went on vacation)

Pickled Green Tomato Relish

Pickled Green Tomato Relish

So Esay to Preserve, 2006

yield about 8 pints

10 pounds small hard green tomatoes

1 1/2 pounds red bell peppers

1 1/2 pounds green bell peppers

2 pounds onions

1/2 cup canning salt

1 quart water

4 cups sugar

1 quart vinegar (5%)

1/3 cup prepared mustard

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Sterilize canning jars. Wash and coarsley grate or finely chop tomatoes, peppers and onions. Dissolve salt in water and pour over vegetables in large saucepot. Heat to boiling and simmer 5 minutes. Drain vegetables and return to saucepot. Add sugar, vinegar, mustard and cornstarch. Stir to mix. Heat to boiling and simmer 5 minutes. Fill hot pint jars with hot relish, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process 5 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath.


--This looks more mushy or cooked or something than what I expected. I'll give it a few weeks and we'll see how it tastes.

--I had issue with the cornstarch in the recipe as the new standards are so against using it in the latest canning guidelines. I wrote the the University of GA and that stated that in this instance it is safe because this recipe has been tested. So there...go forth and use the cornstarch in this recipe!!
(I did these last week before we went on vacation)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blueberries in Syrup

So, yesterday I took 4 dry pints of blueberries and mixed them with about 3/4 c of sugar. I let them sit for a couple of hours and then put them on the stove under gentle heat. I watched them very closely. I wanted the sugar to melt but not get them hot enough for the berries to pop. Once they were off the heat, I added a generous "glug" of Grand Marnier. They are very tasty. I ended up with 3 pints canned.

Sweet Icicle Pickles, the conclusion

Well, this is how they ended up. I am overall happy with them. They are very sweet, but yeah, they are "sweet" icicle pickles!! Anyway, for some unknown reason I didn't trim the blossom end and I think they are a bit limp due to that. Otherwise they are a bit sweet for my taste but still really good. I think they would pair well with something really spicy!

Dilled Green Tomato Pickles

Dilled Green Tomato Pickles
Ball Blue Book, page 54
yield about 6 pints

5 pounds small, firm green tomatoes
1/4 cup canning salt
3 1/2 cups vinegar
3 1/2 cips water
6 or 7 cloves garlic
6 or 7 heads fresh dill or 1/4 cup dill seeds
6 or 7 bay leaves

Wash tomatoes; drain. Core tomaotes; cut into halves or quarters. Combine salt, vinegar and water in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil. Pack tomatoes into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Add 1 clove of garlic, 1 head of dill (or 2 teaspoons dill seeds) an 1 bay leaf to each jar. Ladle hot liquid over tomatoes, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

--I used the dried dill
--I don't know how these taste yet as they need to sit for 6-8 weeks for the flavor to develop.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Well, that bushel of peaches finally got peeled and cut up last week. Most of it got cut up and put in bags of 4 cups for later preserving. Of course there were several 2 cup baggies that are the perfect size for homemade peach ice cream!

This is a shot of the peach preserves that I made the other day. I used the Old Fashioned Peach Preserves recipe from So Easy to Preserve. I looked away and let them boil over...uggh, but I still think they turned out well. I wish they had gotten a bit thicker. I think I might try making a batch with pectin and see what the difference is.

Sweet Icicle Pickles, part 2

Well, I completed the one week brine. Then made the pickling solution and have one more day of boiling the liquid and pouring it back over the pickles. They will be jarred up tomorrow so expect an update! I think they look pretty good so far...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Squash Pickles

Our dear friends Jim and Renee gave us a huge bag of squash the other day. A few of them were too large to cook so I thought I would make some squash pickles. I've never had them but from the samples I had, they are very tasty. I used the recipe in the BBB. The picture is before adding the liquid.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Blackberries in syrup

It was a long drive and a lot of great places to see, but now that I am home the canning has started. I wanted to get a start on some of the wonderful blackberries so I began with these blackberries in syrup. They are hot packed. I used the BBB recipe that calls for macerating the berries in sugar for 2 hours prior to hot packing.

Today's Haul!

Today was the dairy run, 600 miles roundtrip. Today was Tropical Storm Barry. My butt hurts from 13 hours in the car. In the end it was a wonderful day. I stopped at some of the most wonderful farms and roadside markets...more on that later...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sweet Pickle Relish

I used the recipe strainght out of the BBB and boy is it ever tasty! Part of the cucumbers I chopped up in the food processer, and the other part I did in the grinder attachment on my Kitchen Aid mixer. can't say for sure which turned out better but they are really pretty.

Sweet Icicle Pickles

These started today and will sit under the brine for only one week. I love these pickles! It seems like every large container I have currently has something "brewing" in it! I like to use a dinner or salad plate to weight the cukes but I didn't have one that would fit inside the glass container so I cut part an odd sized plastic plate and then used a Ziploc bag filled on top of it. I usually use a canning jar on top but this recipe calls for the lid to be on the jar and it would not have fit if I used jars to weight.

Pickle Season Has Begun!

I started a 20# bucket of cucumbers brining last week (5/25 for reference sake). There is a nice scum starting to form on top of the brine which is a good sign. Also, there are nice little lacto-fermented bubbles starting to come to the surface. Won't be long before we will have pickles. This process will take between 4 and 6 weeks. Then I will de-salt the cukes and then make the pickles.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Grill

We went to a Memorial Day service downtown this morning. It was very nice but we had to leave before it was over. It was close to Eliza's nap time and she really started whinning. The boys walked right up front and sat down so they could see everything. They thought it was great and had lots of really good questions. We had a few of the usual routines after that and then headed home for a cook-out.


Grilled Grass-Fed Beef Patties

Grilled Vidalia Onions with Mustard Tarragon Sauce

Grilled Corn with Pecan Butter

Sliced Tomatoes

The Best Ever Baked Beans

Mustard Tarragon Sauce

1/3 cup olive oil

2 TBS dijon mustard

2 TBS white wine vinegar

1 TBS or so dried tarragon

salt and pepper

Wisk it all together. Let it sit for a bit so the flavoers come together.

The Best Ever Baked Beans

I just eye this so I will "guess" the best I can. My Aunt Nancee taught me to make these and they are oh so good!

2 large cans baked beans

about 1/2 cup ketchup

1 pound bacon cut in pieces

1 medium onion diced

1/2 cup (maybe a bit more) brown sugar, packed (light or dark)

Mix everything together in a large baking dish. Cook at 350 degrees for a really long time...Maybe 2 or three hours. Just stir it every now and then and when it starts to get really thick, sticky, and black around the edges then you know it's ready! It's just as good if not better reheated.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Muffins, Banana/Pecan/Chocolate Chip

2 1/4 cups fresh flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg (less if not fresh)

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg slightly beaten

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup honey

3 medium mashed bananas

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans (you could toast them first)

Mix dry together. Mix wet together in a seperate bowl. Mix together lightly. Standard muffin tins will cook for 15 min at 400 degrees. yield about 15.


-The kids just love these!

-I need to try making this savory sometime when I don't want to make rolls or cornbread.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I get asked a lot for my pancake recipe. This is the basic starting point. I like to liven them up with lots of fun seasonal or home canned yummies.

Basic Whole Wheat Pancakes

courtesy of The Bread Beckers Recipe Collection

3 cups freshly milled flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup oil (I use melted butter)

4 eggs

3-4 cups buttermilk

Mix together dry ingredients. Add liquids. Stir just until mixed. I let it sit for about 30 minutes prior to cooking. I fry them on a griddle with melted butter.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Dehydrated Strawberries

I think there is no way I could have made enough of these. Eliza loves them and eats them like most kids do candy.


-The larger berries seem to do better, look nicer. The bigger berries are at the beginning of the season, so I will be better off doing lots of drying early on in the season and then doing soft spreads later in the season.

Strawberry Jelly

Thanks to my friends on the Canning 2 yahoo group, I bought a steam juicer. This is the most beautiful jelly I have ever seen and it tastes like biting into a fresh ripe strawberry.


-I used the Linda Amendt recipe and went with the liquid pectin. It tooks several days before it was completely set. I might try some later this week with powdered pectin and see what the difference is.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Leftover Beef Tenderloin

Well there was this whole thing with us having people over for our celebration of a Christian Passover Seder. Well, I made a beef brisket but I burned it! Ugghhh, at the last minute I ran to the store and picked up a beef tenderloin. Ironically, I ended up overcooking it! Over the years, whenever I have made a tenderloin we have always had lefteovers and this is just what I started doing with it. Years ago there was a Juilia Child recipe that I would make that was similiar to this but this is nowhere as complex. Here's what I do...
Cubed the leftover beef. Chop an onion (or a couple). Saute the onion in a little butter and olive oil until translucent, then add some chopped garlic. Don't let the garlic burn. Remove the garlic and onions to a plate. Add the beef to the skillet and brown it just a bit. Add some concentrated chicken or beef stock, return the onions and garlic and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes. Add some fresh herbs if you like and check the salt and pepper. Then, add a splash of heavy cream, just before serving.
I serve it over browned skillet potatoes or brown rice. Just garnish with some fresh parsley.
-This is really good with mushrooms in it.
-Make sure not to add too much stock. You don't want this "soupy". I guess you could use plain stock without reducing it first but be careful not to get too much liquid in there.
-Don't return to a boil after you add the cream or the sauce will break.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Chops and cabbage

This is one of Ralph's all time favorite things for me to make. I don't know when or where I started making it but it is tasty. All I do is season the chops with salt, pepper, and ground celery seed. The celery is the important thing here. Brown them off and set to the side. I then put chopped cabbage (sometimes with onions or even apples) on the bottom of the pan and stir it around in the left over drippings from browning the chops. I put the chops on top of the cabbage and then (very important) cover the pan. I finsih them off in the oven at 350 degrees. It works better with thicker chops because they don't get over cooked.
-The celery seed is what makes this dish. I have tried to grind my own with little success. They are so fine the electric grinder doesn't pick them up, even if you add salt to them. A mortar and pestel works but this is one of those times that buying it ground is the way to go.
-I have made this with an open iron skillet before but you need to steam the cabbage first or it won't have the right texture.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nathaniel's 5th Birthday

We had a swamp party for Nathaniel's birthday. The recipes for the cake and the icing were from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The White Chocolate Whisper Cake did not turn out as well as it could. I will say that it was me and not the recipe. I had to make a couple of substitutions and they, I believe affected the outcome of the cake. I also used the Neoclassic Lemon Buttercream and the Winter Blueberry Topping. They both were spot on perfect!!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Field Day

Our dear friends Jim and Renee had a field day on their farm. I helped their friend Curtis with the bar-ba-que. It was so much fun, no to mention how good the food was!! I think I have BBQ fever now!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tangerine Marmalade

"Blue Ribbon Preserves"
Linda Amendt

Tangerine Marmalade

makes about 6 half-pint jars

1 cup zested or thinly sliced tangerine peel (do not pack)
1 cup water
1/2 strained fresh tangerine juice
3/4 cup water
1/8 tsp baking soda
2 3/4 cups supremed and finely chopped fruit plus enough reserved juice to equal 3 cups (18 to 24 tangerines)
5 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 (3-ounze) pouch liquid pectin

In a small bowl, combine the peel and 1 cup water. Drain the peel and discard the water.

In an 8-quart pan, combine the peel with the tangerine juice, 3/4 cup water and baking soda. Over medium-high heat, bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the fruit. Cover and simmer 10 minutes more.
Remove the cover and stir in the sugar and butter. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any foam.
To prevent floating fruit, allow the marmalade to cool 5 minutes before filling the jars. Gently stir the marmalade to distribute the fruit. Ladle the marmalade into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200F (93C) water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.


-It really took a while to supreme that many tangerines!

-This is really a fantastic marmalade.

-My yield ended up being exactly 7 half pints.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Altamaha Apiaries

I love this building and I always say I am going to stop and take a picture of it. Last weekend on the way to Atlanta, we pulled over and I took a couple of shots. Last spring when we were going to Baxley to pick strawberries, it was covered in beautiful purple wisteria. This picture just doesn't do it justice. I would have loved to have tried their honey...