Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Wetcreek?

If you look very closely, you will see our neighbor's son hiding behind the huge spray of water. He opened the drain to our pond last Friday, and after 20 hours of having a Wetcreek, it is now dry. So is the pond! Due to some interesting situation with our pond, we will be getting a new levee as soon as all "our ducks are in a row." I just had to write that. It seemed so appropriate considering I am writing about our pond. We did see six ducks in the pond when it was full of water last week. Guess the ducks will have to find some other pond until ours is repaired. (Sigh :(

No recipes today. Tonight I had my first class for Master Gardeners. I heard by the wayside that I am expected to come up with a project for this course. I already have an idea for a garden blog or even a few entries about my vegetable garden in this blog. Be prepared!

More tomorrow. It is too late to write tonight.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Is it Spring Yet?

When I start organizing and throwing away clutter, it usually means that spring is just around the corner. Well, I cleaned out the messy vegetable beds last week, and today I attacked two rooms upstairs. One just needed a little dusting, but my crafts room was a big cluttered mess. Not that I have been so busy there, but my husband and I washed windows upstairs back in the fall and never really returned everything to its rightful place.

My old shop teacher ( yes, they called it shop back when and girls had to take the class, too) said there was a place for everything, so everything should be in its place. Good to remember, although I would prefer not to remember him. That is another subject for this blog. Maybe I will remember to write about it ( and maybe NOT)!

Anyway, I still have the box room to sort out. Another day!

We are having Babi Pangang tonight, but I am using the packaged marinade and sauce. I think Americans know this as sweet and sour pork. The rice is all ready and the pork is marinating. After our walk with our beagle this afternoon, I will stir fry the broccoli, mushrooms, and marinated pork. Then a quick sauce on top, and dinner will be served!

We are still baking bread with Memaw in Just Plain Cooking :

Country Company Rolls (Memaw's)

3/4 cup scalded milk
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 package yeast
1 egg
4 cups flour

Combine milk, shortening, sugar, and salt. Cool to lukewarm by adding cold water. Add yeast and mix well. Blend in egg and add gradually 4 cups flour. Mix well until blended. Place dough in greased bowl. Cover and let rise until double in bulk. Knead and shape into round balls. Place on baking sheet, let rise again until double in bulk. Bake in moderately hot 400 degree F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Moms and Just Plain Cooking

Moms of all kinds seem to be the primary nourishment providers. Even my brother's new pup remembers that I was his "mama" for the week my sister-in-law hid him out at our house so the pup would be a Christmas surprise. Memaw says he knows I was the one who fed him, and that is why the pup jumps all over me when I go there to visit. I think he just smells our beagle, as our dog associates me with "good eats" too. I am the provider of peanut butter and vanilla wafer cookie snacks. Yum!

This morning early in the freezing cold, I added bird seed to our two feeder houses out back of the house. Before I could finish the second one, there was a little sparrow perched on the roof of the first one. He was only a hands distance away from me. Not afraid at all! Before I could walk too many steps away from the feeders, a swarm of birds attacked the feeders. They had been perched in a bush nearby just waiting for "dinner to be served."

Speaking of food, let's get to Just Plain Cooking:

Hot Rolls (Memaw's)

3 cups milk
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons shortening
3 packages dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 eggs
8 - 9 cups self-rising flour
Pinch salt
Melted butter or oleo (margarine)

Scald the milk. Stir in sugar and shortening and set aside to cool at room temperature.
When (think she means while) milk cools, stir yeast into lukewarm water in a separate warm bowl.
Beat 3 eggs (I know she said 2 in ingredients) in a very large bowl. Pour lukewarm milk mixture over eggs. Stir in yeast mixture. Stir in 5 1/2 to 6 cups of self- rising flour along with a pinch of salt. Mix with a big spoon. Dough will be sticky. Grease 10 inch plastic bowl. Scrape dough into greased container, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in warm place to rise.
Let dough double in size and knead on a floured board until smooth and elastic. Add flour as needed, but don't add too much flour. Roll out and cut with 1 1/2 inch biscuit cutter.
Let rise and bake at 350 degrees F until brown.

(Now for the prize. The first family member to find out from Memaw if she meant 2 or 3 eggs in this recipe and comment on the result in this blog will get a choice of silicone cake pan or cupcake cups or baking sheet.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jack Frost?

We have tried to protect all of our plants outside this winter. My husband even purchased special geotextile to cover the plants and citrus trees. The last two weeks have been so mild and rainy that we didn't have to even worry about keeping our plants (or beagle) warm. But tonight we may have frost, so meters of white geotextile are covering the agaves. We still have February to get through, so we are not safe yet.

I noticed tiny plants in the raised garden beds. After searching for small plastic pot and finding them, I potted them up and brought them inside. Actually I am not sure if my first three pots are cherry tomatoes or marigolds. It doesn't really matter, I usually have to buy both plants every year. Now I will have some free plants.

On our walk this evening, we noticed that our pond has stopped leaking water through the pipe. Now what? Hopefully this means that someone will solve this pond problem. Now the waiting begins again.

Cookin in de Keuken

I am up early this Saturday morning. Who knows why! Maybe I was curious about the pond. And , yes, it is emptying quickly! Maybe that means the levee will be prepared as soon as possible. I hope so.

Last night while I was on Pinterest, I thought of a name for my favorite recipes for this blog. It is Cookin in de Keuken (translation: cooking in the kitchen). Now we won't get it mixed up with Memaw's Just Plain Cooking. I even added a board with that name to my Pinterest collection. My goal is to share some of the tips and recipes from that board on this blog. You would think that I loved cooking, but I just love to eat. And now I have time to do both!

More later today, since I think there are pancakes from last weekend in a little plastic bag in the freezer. Yummy, here I come! Until later.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Our Pond

It is definitely too difficult to ignore our pond. Since it was contructed several years ago, we have been eager to see fish and other wild life enjoying it. Last winter at this time, a family of otters enjoyed cold, sunny mornings swimming in the open waters of the pond. We even surprised a couple of them when we would go out on our daily late afternoon walks around the pond. Unfortunately (or fortunately as some people may think), we won't be able to enjoy the otters this year. I think they forgot about us, or maybe they checked us out in late November 2011 and found our pond dry. Yes, the summer of 2011 was a dry one, but circumstances beyond our control caused our pond to be bone dry for more months than we could handle.

All summer I watched for deer and other animal tracks on the exposed dry pond bed. Finally in the fall, I saw deer tracks from a large herd of deer. My hubbie said he saw around ten deer in a herd out in the open meadow, so I guess they were trying to find water and came to search out our dry, stagnant pond. Bet they were disappointed as well as thirsty. Not even our dog kept them from searching!

Well, today the pond is full again. But only for a few more hours. This afternoon the big corkscrew will be unscrewed and the water will move on down the stream (again!). And again our beautiful pond will be empty. I took lots of photos of it this morning, for keepsakes. I have been assured that it will be beautiful again after the levee is moved. And then maybe the torment and frustration will finally be over after so many years.

Sorry, Hub, but I had to write this. Remember, I am the first one who wakes up early every morning and looks out on the pond --wet or dry. My early morning walk around it tomorrow won't be with a dry eye, I can bet on that.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Memaw's Baby Memories

I used to love to go to Mrs. E’s house. She always had the neatest things. She had a big black leather sofa in her living room. And she had the first victrola I’d ever seen. She would wind it up and play it for us, and we thought it was great. She also had a screened in back porch that was nice. Her water pump was on the back porch, and it had a concrete basin that she kept her milk cool in. Her house was the finest I’d ever seen.

She had a little table in the hallway, and she had a lamp and some little vases on it. One little bowl always had pencils and a lot of little catchalls in it. One day it held a little red ball. When I went home that little ball went home with me, all hidden away in my hand. Mama made me take it back. I sneaked it back on the table. And I hope Mrs. E. never knew that I took it.

One time I went to Mrs. E’s house, and she and Mrs. P were busy getting ready for a party. I didn’t know whom it was for as they were very secretive about it. They even moved the umbrella that they had decorated when I went into the house. Several days later Mama disappeared for the afternoon, but she didn’t tell us why. She was excited when we got home, but she didn’t let us little kids know what she was excited about. But the party was a baby shower for her.

My twin siblings, I know when you were born. I was in the room that night. I was sick with a cold, and they let me sleep in Daddy’s bed with the little kids. They hung a sheet between the beds so I couldn’t see what was going on. Mrs. E. was there along with the midwife. Mrs. E. kept checking on me to see if I was asleep. It was really hard to pretend. Twins!! A boy and a girl!! Mr. E. went to town the next morning and reported that we had three babies out here. He was right. My little sister J. and the twins! Townspeople gave us a good Christmas that year. My two oldest sisters cooked Christmas dinner, and we had a big Christmas tree. I got a coloring book and a little bead bracelet for Christmas.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Too Late To Write

This blog is still an experiment for me. Today I tried to include a poster, and maybe I forgot to save it. Anyway, I will do better tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pioneer Woman Fan

I make no secret that that I love The Pioneer Woman. (Sorry, Ree, I don't mean you but your recipes and television show.) Last summer a dear friend asked me if I followed The Pioneer Woman's blog. Well now I do, and here is her version of Cinnamon Rolls:

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls


1 quart whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 cup sugar
2 packages active dry yeast (I used instant yeast that I store in the freezer)
9 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
1 teaspoon (scant) baking soda
1 tablespoon (heaping) salt
plenty of melted butter
2 cups sugar
Generous sprinkling of cinnamon

for the maple frosting:
1 bag powdered sugar
2 teaspoons maple flavoring
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup brewed coffee
1/8 teaspoon salt


Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. “Scald” the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

After rising for at least an hour, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down).

When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup melted butter over the dough. Now sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.

Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in a seven inch round foil cake or pie pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans. (At this point you can cover them and put them in the freezer. When you're ready to make them, just pull them out and stick them on the counter for a few hours until they thaw and rise, which happened quicker than I though.)

Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 375 until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.

For the frosting, mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls. Go crazy and don’t skimp on the frosting.

Makes about 50 rolls.

Nat's Notes:
1. I don't drink coffee, so I substituted 4 oz of cream cheese for the coffee, then added a couple more tablespoons of milk to thin it out. I kid you not, this frosting taste just like the maple frosting on the doughnuts at the grocery store.

adapted slightly from The Pioneer Woman's Cookbook

This delicious recipe brought to you by Perry's Plate

Monday, January 23, 2012

Double Dipping Day

Today I am going to "double dip" with Memaw's famous Sweet Roll recipe and a piece of her memories.
Let's begin with Just Plain Cooking:

Memaw's Sweet Roll (Our Memaw, of course)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

1 batch Refrigerator Roll dough (previous blog)
1 stick oleo (margarine) melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Divide dough into two parts. On a floured board roll each ball of dough into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Generously apply melted butter. Use about 1/2 of the butter. Spread butter over all the dough.

Sprinkle half of sugar over the butter. If you like it really sweet, add more sugar. Now sprinkle on a good coat of cinnamon. Sprinkle with raisins and nuts.

Roll up jellyroll style starting on the long side. Seal all sides. Place long roll on greased baking pan in a crescent shape. Next take scissors and slash 1/2 way through dough starting at one end of roll. Repeat slashes about 1 inch apart all around the roll.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes until done. Brush with melted butter half way through baking.

Glaze with 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until creamy. Drizzle over rolls.

(Don't wait for the sweet rolls to cool! They are best when warm.)

Memaw's Memories (continued)

I had a bad time with sore throat when I was a kid. Mama would mop my throat with iodine. I really hated that. That was all she knew to do. One time that I remember, I had such a sore throat and it was hot summer. Mama made a pallet on the porch, and I lay out there where it was cooler. Daddy had gone into Moro and when he came back he brought my cousin with him. I cried because I didn’t like her.

I cried a lot. Mama went to the back of the field to look for the cow. There was a wooded area out there and every time she would go into the woods, I’d scream and cry. I climbed up on a chair so I could see her. When she came back to the house, she gave me something to really cry for. She switched me good.

We never got to go anywhere when we were little, so anytime I’d get away from any of the family, I’d start bawling. This would start a chain reaction and my nearest younger sister would cry, too. I must have driven my two oldest sisters crazy with all the bawling. Mama made my little sister and me some cute little pinafore dresses out of yellow dimity. They had little flowers and were so pretty. It was children’s day at church, and we were supposed to sit on the front row at church. I looked around and didn’t see any of the family and started crying. And when I cried, my little sister cried. Everyone was saying, “What’s the matter, little girl?” Bet I got another switching when I got home.

When I got old enough to go to school, this was during the Depression. There was no public school at Moro. The school had gone broke, and we couldn’t pay tuition to go to school. The public school was closed for two years. My two oldest sisters taught me how to read and write. I was 8 years old when I finally went to school. Since I could read and write, I didn’t have to go to the first grade. I was a big second grader. I tried so hard to get Miss Eileen Reynolds to pass me to the third grade, but she wouldn’t.

Stay tuned for more recipes and memories.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Homemade Yeast Rolls

No, we didn't have yeast rolls tonight for dinner. But we did have them last night. They came right out of the freezer and Sister Somebody was the brand. Actually they are quite tasty and are super easy to prepare. I can genuinely recommend that you keep a couple of packages on hand for unexpected opportunities to serve them.

On the other hand, you could try Memaw's Just Plain Cooking recipe:

Refrigerator Rolls (Memaw's)

2 packages yeast ( compressed or dry)
(1 envelope of dry active yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons = 1/4 US ounce)
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
5 3/4 cups sifted flour

Soften yeast in lukewarm water. Scald milk and add sugar, salt, and shortening. Cool to lukewarm. Add 2 cups flour and beat well. Add yeast and beaten egg. Blend thoroughly. Add remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Turn out on lightly floured board and knead until smooth and satiny. Place in lightly greased bowl. Cover and let rise in warm place (80 to 85 degrees F) until doubled.
Punch down. Shape into smooth ball. Grease surface lightly. Cover and put into fridge. When needed, remove from refrigerator, punch down, and shape into rolls.
Let rise until doubled.
Bake in hot oven 425 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes.

(Yum, Yum! My words exactly!)

Tomorrow is the recipe you have been waiting for: Memaw's Sweet Roll
You are half way there, since the dough recipe is the same as the one above. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

AC is on!

What strange January weather! Tonight I am sitting in the kitchen baking chocolate chip cookies for my guys and now the air conditioner just popped on. Guess the heat from the oven, the clothes dryer down the hall, and the warm temps outside heated up the house. Who knows what the rest of the month and February will bring.

I took advantage of the pleasant weather this morning and worked for over four hours in my raised veggie beds. Besides cleaning out dead plants, I replanted about 30 endive plants. They are really on the bitter side, but they say that is good for your heart. The first asparagus spears are poking out of the ground. I am going to make sure we eat plenty of those this year, since this is year number three. Time to eat asparagus from our own garden. The foliage is pretty and green, but I planted them for the spears.

Besides baking cookies, making dinner, and puttering in the garden, I started doing some detective work on my father's family. Last night I found a distant relative who may be able to share some family tree info with me. I am not sure if anyone else in the family is interested, but I am. So the detective work continues.

No recipes tonight. I will try to double-up tomorrow. Now to empty the dryer and call it a day.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Another Restaurant Flop

Oh for some good ole home cooked food. Tomorrow! Today was another flop. No one makes muffulettas like New Orleans Central Market. So we will stick to Just Plain Cooking :

Easy Cinnamon Rolls (Memaw's)

Set oven at 375 degrees F.

3 cups self-rising flour
4 1/2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter or oleo ( margarine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup pecans
3/4 cup raisins

Cut shortening into flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk and blend with fork until dough leaves sides of bowl. Turn out on lightly floured surface and knead 4 to 6 strokes. Roll into 14" x 20" rectangle.

Spread butter over dough, leaving a narrow margin on all sides. Combine sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon and sprinkle over buttered dough. Add nuts and raisins.

Beginning at long end of dough, roll up into jelly roll fashion. Pinch ends and seal edges. Cut roll into 1 inch slices. Place slices cut side down in greased 9" x 13" x 2" pan.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

To glaze: Combine 1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar and 3 tablespoons milk. Drizzle over rolls. Makes about 20 rolls.

Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring (Hannah's on All Things Delicious Blogspot)


2 small tubes refrigerator buttermilk biscuits OR 1 tube Pillsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1/2 C. pancake syrup
1/3 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C. chopped pecans, opt.
1/4 C. chopped almonds, opt.

Spray a fluted pan with non-stick spray. Combine the melted butter and syrup in a small bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts (if desired).

Place about half of the syrup mixture in the bottom of the pan. Then sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture on top.

Lay the biscuits on the bottom of the pan, overlapping edges (closely together) to form a ring.
Use the smaller biscuits or one tube of the grands, as stated in the recipe list above.

Top with remaining syrup and sugar mixtures.

Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool for 1 minute in the pan, then invert onto a serving platter and enjoy!

Look at that!

You really need to try these soon!! Enjoy!

(I definitely will, Hannah. Thanks for the recipe and great photos.)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

And Now A Photograph

There has been a request for pictures on this blog. Well here goes nothing! This is a photo of one of our five raised garden beds taken last year. My husband was the designer, architect, and builder, and I just try to keep something growing in them. Sometime soon I will be cleaning out our beds for a spring garden, and don't be surprised to see my results. Notice that he also developed a secure method for keeping the animals (big and small) out of our lettuces. It really works, but I still wish it was easier to access the lettuces when I am ready to pick them. I just fiddle around with the mesh and a few metal "hairpins" in the ground and get what I need. It works!

Yesterday we pruned our grapevines and our knock-out roses. Maybe we are a little early, but at least that is done. The weather was warm and sunny, so both of us (plus our beagle pup) were enjoying the pleasant January day. Today is another story. It is so gloomy that we both said the weather looked like a grey, Dutch winter day. How depressing it must be for millions of people over the world who have months of this somber weather. Glad we can see sunshine most of the time here.

Memaw’s Stories—written in 1995.

In 1925 when I was born, our family lived in a little three-room house on forty acres of land, about a mile and a half from Moro, Arkansas. I was the fifth of nine children. We were all born at home with the help of the doctor or a midwife.

My memories of the home place are a little foggy, but this is what I remember:

The house had two large rooms and a little back room or kitchen off the main room. It had a front porch that went all across the front of the house and had a dogtrot hall that separated the two main rooms. It had a back porch that extended from the little kitchen across the rest of the house. The roof was shingled with handmade shingles. The foundation was wooden blocks made from large logs cut to the appropriate size. There was a fireplace in the main front room. There was a Home Comfort wood range in the kitchen. This was the heating system in winter. Each room had a window. In summer the cooling system was open doors and windows and a cool breeze. The yard had a handmade picket fence. The water pump was located near the barn lot. This way it was convenient to the house and the animals. There was a smokehouse in the backyard. That is where the meat was smoked. I vaguely remember meat being smoked there.

There was a big oak tree in the backyard and two big oaks in the side yard near the pump. The front lawn outside the yard had several large trees. I remember the highway department used to pull their equipment in there in the evenings when they were grating the road that passed our house.

The barn lot had a barn and a shed. And behind the shed was the toilet. I believe the toilet was in the back of the garden before this.

The garden was directly behind the house, and there was a little orchard of apple and peach trees. I can remember grapevines in the garden. The toilet was out back of the grapevines.

My earliest memories are burning my hands. My next to youngest sister was a little baby, so I must have been no more than three years old. Mama had washed clothes that day. She had heated water and boiled the clothes in a big black wash pot in the back yard. After she finished washing, she left the hot coals under the pot. I was pulling an old trap and fell and my hands went into the hot ashes. I was burned pretty badly. I can remember Mama standing on the back porch holding the baby in her arms. I guess Sam Salve was good, but I still have the scars on my right hand from it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Favorite Place Is the Internet

It wasn't until recently that I could name myself an addict. I don't smoke (never even lit up a cigarette!), and I don't drink. Even having lived through the hippie times, I never tried drugs. My blood pressure meds are about a strong as it gets, and now I have to keep track when I take them. So the addiction is really obvious. I am addicted to the Internet and, in particular, Pinterest.

It isn't really strange that I would like Pinterest, since I am a great collector. Our house is just full of my collections. More about those in the future. On Pinterest I can collect lots of things and ideas without having to make space for them. I just add them to my Boards and keep looking. In just a couple of months time I have amassed almost 3,000 "pins" and over 40 followers of my pin collections. Some followers are as far away as Denmark, Iceland, and Spain. I know only a handful of my followers and the more than 70 people I am following. We just have common interests such as good food and DIY projects.

But I am addicted to the Internet. Perhaps I should call it the "Interestnet." Now
Just Plain Cooking My Style :

Creamy Baked Polenta

Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Total preparation time: 55 minutes

1 cup yellow cornmeal or regular (not instant) coarse polenta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
2 ounces provolone cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 2/3 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Combine 4 cups water, the cornmeal, butter, salt, and pepper in a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Bake, uncovered, on the top shelf of the oven for 40 minutes.

Remove the polenta from the oven, give it a stir, and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven; stir in the provolone and salt and pepper to taste; let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Memaw's Memories

I have had these papers and notes in a plastic sleeve for some time now. Some are typed and some are not. As I am not writing a book, I am not really sure where to start. So I will just start with the pages at the top of the stack. (Mom, feel free to comment.)

Yesterday as we brothers and sisters gathered for the lunch meal at Mama's house, my youngest brother reminded us that there were eleven of us sitting at the table. That was the exact number we had around the table when we were growing up. Nine kids and Mama and Daddy. And we were eating biscuits and gravy like we used to have when we were kids. In those days, we would gather around the long table, and sometimes the biscuits and gravy was all we had for breakfast. My niece who lives not far away from here was eating with us yesterday, and she wanted to know how Mama fed all of us. There were a lot of biscuits and gravy!

Mama was born in 1895. 98 years ago. Before automobiles, airplanes, radio, television, and the computer age. Those were the horse and buggy days. She saw a century turn around. She saw transportation go from horseback and buggy to the space age with rockets to the moon. She went from the kerosene lamp to the electric light bulb. Mama grew up in a log cabin. Her mother was widowed when Mama was really young, and they were very poor. So she learned to be a self-sufficient survivor from an early age.

Mama and Daddy had nine children, and I was the middle child. I was one of the Depression children. And I grew up as one of the helpers around the house. Mama was very resourceful. She was a good wife, good mother, a good cook, housekeeper, seamstress, carpenter, gardener, and an artist in her own way. She helped in the fields along with all of the children. Mama sewed all of our clothes, even to the boys' clothes. All of this was done on a treadle sewing machine. She taught us how to sew.

She made pieces of furniture out of scraps of lumber found around the place. She made a couch out of old wood and padded it and covered it with a chintz covering. She made a side table out of an old bedstead and bent nails. She made a garden and grew vegetables for the family. She taught us to work. She taught us to do our best. She and Daddy struggled to put us all through school so that we could have a better life than they had had.

We grew up in a family with high values before the phrase "family values" became popular. Maybe we invented the phrase. Mama was proud of her boys and girls. She lived to see them grow into good responsible citizens of the community. She was proud of her family.

Mama, you will be missed. You did good.

How do I possibly get from this back to Just Plain Cooking? Well, here goes! This is what Memaw did with biscuits:

Easy Doughnuts(Memaw's)

1 can buttermilk biscuits (10 count)
Oil to fry doughnuts

Punch a hole in each biscuit with your finger. Stretch the dough and make a hole about the size of a quarter or larger.

Heat one inch of oil in a deep skillet. Drop doughnuts into medium hot oil. Brown slowly on both sides. If cooked too fast, the center of the doughnut will not be cooked. Drain on paper towel and glaze while hot. Drizzle glaze (recipe below) over doughnuts. Let cool a few minutes and enjoy. Makes 10 doughnuts.


1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
A drop of vanilla

Mix ingredients together until creamy. If mixture is too thick, add more milk. Spoon over hot doughnuts.

Monday, January 16, 2012

FaceTime Internationally

We just had our first international FaceTime contact with friends in Amsterdam. What a strange thing to sit at your kitchen table and see your faraway friends in Europe face to face. No time lapse or delay ! What a discovery in the technology world! Thanks, Steve Jobs!

I can still remember the costly phone calls to and from The Netherlands back in the late 70's. Boy, that separated my family and me! At least my mom and dad kept calling, but the rest of my family and friends in the US gave up when they received their phone bills.

I can only imagine what it must have been like for Dutch emigrants back in the 1950's when they went off to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Most could only depend on a letter (who knows how long that took to arrive) to keep in touch with family in The Netherlands. And the idea of visiting your homeland was mostly just a dream. Today our Dutch friends introduced us to their two month old grandson, and my husband showed them around our messy kitchen. Small world getting smaller!

It is Boerenkool Stamppot (cooked curly kale mashed with potatoes and topped with bacon) for dinner tonight. That is the last of the kale from the garden. It is almost time to rip out all of the greens and get the soil ready for an early spring garden. Another day!

The last of the muffins from Just Plain Cooking:

Raisin Bran Muffins (Memaw's)

Set oven at 400 degrees F.

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups Raisin Bran cereal
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg (slightly beaten)
1/3 cup soft shortening or vegetable oil

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Set aside. Measure raisin bran cereal and milk into mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Let stand 1 or 2 minutes or until cereal is softened. Add egg and shortening. Beat well. Add dry ingredients to cereal mixture, stirring only until combined. Portion batter evenly into 12 greased cups of muffin pan. (No comments about silicone cups?)

Bake at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until muffins are golden brown. Serve warm. Yields 12 muffins.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Glorious Sunday

Around lunchtime today I decided to finally get out and try to rid our front flowerbed of GRASS! I am not sure how I allowed the grass to take over the bed, but it did. And I am still not sure how to get rid of all the roots. Mulch is good, but it ain't that good (pardon my French). My husband suggested drastic measures--poison--, but we are not going there. I know how devastating that can be. I will just have to see what kind of geotextile I can put down under the mulch. As the weather is still cold at nights, I have time to search for a solution.

In the meantime, I was able to rescue a few verbena plants with roots. With the daisy plants that I saved from the fall, I should be all set with perennials. Now to see if I can get some window boxes in order. When we lived abroad, my husband made neat hanging shelves under our windows for my geranium pots. We saw that idea in a really old Dutch painting. When I am sitting behind our PC, I will include a photo. Quite unique, I think.

We also made a trip around our property pruning our collection of trees. They all made it through the drought this summer, and now I hope the winter will be mild enough for them to keep growing. We are babying the citrus trees in the backyard, since this is our second planting in three years. If these don't make it, we will replace them with apples and pears.

It was leftovers tonight ( always yummier the second day). But let's have Just Plain Cooking:

Fruitful Bran Honey Muffins (Memaw's)

Set oven at 400 degrees F.

1 1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 cups Fruitful Bran Cereal (or something that resembles that in 2012)
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1 egg (slightly beaten)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, stir together bran cereal, milk, and honey. Let stand three minutes or until cereal is softened. Add egg and oil. Beat well. Add flour mixture, stirring only until combined. Portion batter evenly into 12 greased cups in muffin pan.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Serve warm.
Yields 12 muffins. These freeze well.

(While typing this I thought this was the same exact recipe as yesterday's raisin bran muffins, but the two recipes are different. That is more reason to try them both and compare, don't you think?
Don't forget to shop for silicone muffin cups. The first person who comments on this recipe gets a special set of brand new, still in the original store wrapper, silicone muffin cups. Hey, this is fun to give away prizes.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

All in a Day's Time

We have had Dutch winter and Dutch summer in just five hours. Crazy talk when you don't even live in The Netherlands, but we used to live there. Just wish we had had some of this glorious sunshine in January over there. I remember too many dull, grey winter days. Cozy candles were a common thing in those days. Now I just use Yankee candles to smell up the place. Don't even have to light them!

Saturdays.... Actually, since we retired, days of the week are not so different. My routine is to get out of bed, let our dog out of his "kennel" in the garage, walk around the pond (with or without the dog), make a pot of tea, eat a bowl of yoghurt with cereal, and then read the Internet news and check Pinterest. Then I find a project or cleaning job to do. Before you know it, it is time to think about our evening meal and get that started. Next the dog lets us know he is ready for our trek around the meadow, so we bundle up in these temps (or cover up against bugs in summer temps) and follow him as he tracks animals big and sometimes small along our path. After our walk, our dog is ready for his dinner and a well-deserved long sleep on his cozy dog bed. We eat the dinner I have prepared and settle behind the television to laugh and enjoy our favorite sitcoms or political shows (yes, there is sometimes laughter there,too). That about sums up how it goes here. I never said "boring," since I feel "comfortable" describes it much better.

We are having fresh Brussel sprouts and pot roast for dinner tonight. The sprouts came from a friend at the Baptist senior citizens group we joined a couple of years ago. No, we aren't Baptists, but most of our acquaintances in our community are. The sprouts will taste good with The Pioneer Woman's pot roast. I have tried this recipe (which I will share at a later date) a couple of times, and it is definitely a winner. I think even my niece who calls roast beef "roast beast" would like this dinner. Sorry she lives so far away or she could come give it a try.

Speaking of recipes, let's try Just Plain Cooking:

Honey Raisin Bran Muffins (Memaw's)

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups Raisin Bran cereal
1 cup milk
1/3 cup honey
1 egg ( slightly beaten)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, stir together Raisin Bran cereal, milk, and honey. Let stand 2 minutes or until cereal is softened. Add egg and oil. Beat well. Add flour mixture, stirring only until combined.

Portion batter evenly into 12 greased 2 1/2 inch cup muffin pan. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18 to 20 minutes or until browned. Serve warm. These muffins freeze well. Microwave 20 seconds at warm setting. Enjoy!

Yields 12 muffins.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Eating Out

Why is it that you rarely get a good meal in a restaurant? I know, I am too picky. Just once ever two weeks I'd like to say "kitchen closed" and be treated to a decent meal outside our home. And I am definitely not a great cook. In fact, I hate to cook. I could have co-authored the I Hate to Cook book back in the 1970's. But good old home cooking is still the best. Just ask my guys.
It's time for Just Plain Cooking.

Baking Powder Biscuits (Memaw's)

Set oven at 475 degrees F.

2 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt thoroughly. Cut in shortening. Add milk to make a soft dough. Place on a floured board and roll out to 3/8 inch thick. Cut out and place in preheated greased pan. Bake at 475 degrees F for about 12 minutes.
Yields 18 two inch biscuits. Serve hot.

Buttermilk Biscuits (Memaw's)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup buttermilk (about)

Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Cut in shortening with pastry blender until mixture is coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and stir with fork just until dough leaves the sides of the bowl. Turn out on a lightly floured board. Knead gently until smooth. Roll to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with floured cutter. Place in greased baking pan. Biscuits may be greased with butter before baking. Bake until golden brown. Serve with plenty of butter, while they are hot.

Buttermilk Substitute (found several places on the Internet)

1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon acid like lemon juice or white vinegar

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Just Plain Cooking

Back in 1990, Mom hand wrote a cookbook for me. She wrote the following: "All these recipes have been tested in my kitchen and are special to me. They are just plain cooking. Cooking requires a lot of time, a lot of patience, and plenty of love for special people who like good food." From now on whenever I publish one of her recipes from my cookbook, the title will be Just Plain Cooking . So let's turn on the stove and start with the breads!

Self-Rising Biscuits (Memaw's)

Set oven on 475 degrees F.

2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk

Cut shortening into flour. Add milk to make a soft dough. Place on floured board and roll out to 3/8 inch thick. Cut with biscuit cutter and place on greased pan.
Bake at 475 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until brown. Serve while hot.

Now here is my favorite biscuit recipe in 2012:

7UP Biscuits

2 cups Bisquick

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup 7UP

1/4 cup melted butter

Cut sour cream into biscuit mix, add 7UP. Makes a very soft dough.

Sprinkle additional biscuit mix on board or table and pat dough out. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a 9 inch square pan. Place cut biscuits in pan and bake at 450 degrees until golden brown( around 12 minutes).


(I make the 7UP biscuits a couple of times each week. One time I had no 7UP and used ginger ale. The biscuits were great! Yoghurt substituted for sour cream works, too. Some people think these taste like Popeye's, but to me they are not as greasy or as heavy. In other words, they are a whole lot better!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Volunteer Wednesday

On Wednesdays I go to the local elementary school to help some lovely 4th grade boys and girls. Today we worked on choosing a writing prompt and brainstorming for ideas to include in an essay or story. The prompt choices are " my favorite place" and "to be a teacher for a day." The first topic is definitely a descriptive essay, while the second is a narrative choice.

My students either understood what they were to do or were completely "in the dark." One girl who knew what to do decided to put herself in my place as volunteer tutor. Sweet child! I even got a Christmas gift from her. Wish I had been admired like that during my 37 years of actual teaching!

On the other end of the spectrum, a young male student said that his favorite place was Sears. Not a huge mall-size Sears store, mind you, but a rural store with lots of appliances. When I asked why he chose Sears, he said his parents did not take him many places. I suggested that he might want to choose a room in his house or a place in his yard, and he looked at me as if I had suggested Venus or Mars. So Sears it is! Hope this helps his parents receive big discounts when they shop there.

Still another boy wanted to be a teacher for a day and write about teaching a university science class. He said he would take the university students to a museum and then out for ice cream. When I suggested that he liven up the story and have someone do something naughty in the museum (like knock over a display case and break something), he said the punishment would be to miss recess and be sent to the principal. I am not sure he understands what university really is, or then again maybe I have no clue what goes on at universities anymore. After all, university life for me was over 40 years ago.

I will keep you posted on the progress of our writing assignments.

No recipes today, since luckily we had leftover vegetable soup.
Now to check out new pins on Pinterest.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Soup Weather

Bone Soup Recipe (not stone soup, but pretty close)

Today the weather was grey and gloomy, so I thought a warm bowl of vegetable soup would taste good after our daily walk around the pond with Flip. And indeed it just hit the spot after our trudge through the mud.

Bone Soup

1 beef shank center cut (mine was frozen)
1 carton beef broth
1 can (26 oz.) Campbell tomato soup
1 soup can of warm water
3 large tomatoes ( mine were frozen)
1/4 large onion chopped
1 bay leaf (remove before you serve soup)
3 large toes/cloves of garlic chopped
3 short stalks of celery chopped
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon oregano
Good grind of black pepper

Cook the above ingredients for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until beef falls off the bone.

Before you sit down to do whatever you do, chop up two small potatoes(skin on), 1/2 squash of your choice, two carrots, and 1/4 of a white cabbage. Open one can of green beans and one can of corn.

When the meat is done, remove the bone and cut the meat into small pieces. Add all of the veggies and cook an additional 30 minutes or until they are done to your taste.

Soup is on! But we all know that soup always tastes better tomorrow. Glad I made enough for tomorrow and to give away in a fruit jar to someone special.

In the beginning

January 10, 2012
This is just the start of something. Funny, but "staart" in Dutch means "tail." Guess you can look at it from either end. Ha.Ha.