Baking and Candy Making

My mother had a good many skills in the kitchen, and while none of her abilities were passed on to me, at least once a year I was tapped to assist in her culinary endeavors. I’m sure I did so under protest because I was such a klutz at cooking and baking and candy making, and Mom was not a patient soul.

She’d cluck and shake her head and give me looks that would’ve withered a lesser soul, but Freida Hall didn’t scare me. Okay, I was scared sh*tless most of the time while working in the kitchen with Mom, but I had no choice if I wanted to continue living under her roof. My brothers both turned out to be quite proficient in preparing food, so maybe the fault was all mine.

What did we make? Martha Washington candies, chocolate covered cherries, and divinity. We baked cranberry bread and pumpkin bread, and banana nut bread. If it was a fruity bread, we baked it. We made a pecan nut roll that defied all of Mom’s attempts at perfection and only turned out divine once in every ten attempts.

Here’s a recipe for Martha Washington candy similar to the one Mom and I used to make. You’ll be a big hit if you take these to a gathering. It’s still the candy I remember most fondly.

Peace, people.

Planning the Thanksgiving Meal

Do you ever wonder how Pilgrim women managed to plan and prepare a dinner party for 30 guests or more without the benefit of a grocery store and modern appliances? Yeah, me neither. It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around such concepts, so I don’t even try.

Heck, I struggle to plan and execute a big meal for two people, and I’ve got easy access to several grocery stores, a microwave, a double oven, and a refrigerator/freezer. God certainly knew what She was doing by placing me in this century. I’d have made a lousy pioneer woman.

Nevertheless, I have gathered all of the ingredients necessary to have a turkey dinner with each of Studly Doright’s favorite side dishes. The cornbread for our dressing will need to be baked on Wednesday, as will the pecan pie. Then I’ll need to hide the pecan pie for a period not less than 24 hours or Studly will consume it all before Thanksgiving dinner has even been served. I know this from previous experience.

I’ll rise early on Thursday morning to get the turkey in to bake and then try my best to get all of the side dishes ready to serve when the turkey is done. Since it’s just the two of us for dinner this year I expect everything will turn out perfectly. No one will believe I cooked a stellar meal even though Studly will sing my praises for months. They’ll think he doth protest too much. Maybe he doth.

Peace, people.

Minimalist Challenge, Spicy Day 20

Day 20 is brought to you by spices! All 20 of these spices expired ages ago. Some as far back as 2015!

At least three of the jars pictured above contain sage. I use sage once or twice a year to season the cornbread dressing that serves as a staple of our holiday meals. Every year I purchase a new container of sage, using perhaps two or three tablespoons for the recipe. So these expired containers were practically full. What a waste, but dressing without sage is blah fare, indeed.

On the plus side, I just opened up a big space in my spice cabinet!

Peace, people!

You May Say I’m a Dreamer

You may say I’m a dreamer, and in my household I am the only one. Where my dreams are typically vividly technicolored, Studly Doright’s are seemingly non-existent. So when I got this text first thing Monday morning, I was intrigued:

(Ignore the odd punctuation. If I’d known this was going to be blog fodder (blodder?) I’d have taken more pains with my text.)

According to Studly, he never dreams. Of course I’ve informed him that we all dream every night, but not everyone remembers their dreams. Stubbornly he persists in claiming that he is the exception.

All day I waited for him to come home, so I could hear the details. Part of me hoped he’d dreamed winning lottery numbers. Had that been the case, I’d have bought a dozen tickets immediately. Another part of me was concerned he’d dreamed about his soul mate–and it wasn’t me! As promised in the text I made potato soup for dinner, always with one part of my brain on Studly’s dream. Do I need a life? Most likely.

The second he walked in the door I asked the million dollar question. “What was the dream?”

“Mmmm, that soup smells good!”

“Damn it, you don’t get soup until you spill the dream beans.”

He said, “It was weird. The whole time I was dreaming I kept thinking it was the kind of dream you’d have.

“There was this creature, maybe an alien, maybe an animal, and a little boy. Somehow they communicated, and if there was any danger the creature would surround the boy with a protective cloaking shield.”

I managed to nod encouragingly, all hopes of a winning lottery number dashed.

“And this kid had family members he could pull inside the shield.”

“So, what happened?”

“Nothing! I couldn’t get past the shield part. The dream never moved forward. It was frustrating.”

As we ate our potato soup and cornbread I tried my amateur dream interpretation skills on him:

1) Studly is the little boy who feels like he needs protection for himself and his loved ones.

2) Or he is the outsider providing protection for others.

3) Or he had an upset stomach and as a result a weird dream.

4) Or he was hoping for potato soup for dinner.

At least he didn’t dream about his soul mate. Unless, of course, the alien filled that role.

Peace, people!

“Forget the Iguanas” Stew

Ladies and gentlemen it’s cold outside! Not so cold that I’m liable to get frostbite if I’m out for more than a few minutes, but cold enough that in some parts of the Sunshine State cold-stunned iguanas are falling from the trees. That I could possibly be walking along and have a lizard fall on my head almost makes me hope for hypothermia instead. Almost.

Can you imagine? The thought creeps me out.

I couldn’t stop thinking about falling iguanas, so I occupied my mind by chopping vegetables for a stew. Now all I had to worry about was losing a finger. I’m not all that good with knives.

Once the veggies were all chopped and the stew was simmering on the stove, wafting savory odors throughout Doright Manor, I once again found myself contemplating falling lizards. What to do? How about I type up the stew recipe for my readers?

“Forget the Iguana Stew”

1 lb. very lean ground beef, (I use 93% lean) browned and drained

3 C. potatoes, cubed

1 1/2 C. celery, chopped

1 C. onion, chopped

2 C. carrots, chopped

1 1/2 C. frozen peas (Studly prefers corn, so that’s what I used)

1 3/4 C. chunky style Italian tomato sauce or Italian style stewed tomatoes (I can’t always find the chunky style, so the stewed tomatoes work fine.)

1 C. tomato sauce

1 1/4 C. beef broth

Salt and pepper to taste

(I usually add a tomato sauce can of water–the recipe as it’s written doesn’t seem to have enough liquid.)

Cook for a couple of hours, while the potatoes soften and all the flavors mingle, and stir frequently. I cook it on medium heat and then switch to low once the veggies feel soft.

If you cook this in the crockpot, cook on low for 6-8 hours.

No iguanas were harmed in the making of this stew.

Peace, people

Christmas Recap

Doright Manor was too quiet this Christmas. Studly Doright and I had gotten together with our kids and grandchildren in Texas at Thanksgiving, so we had to suck it up and spend Christmas without them. I’m going to be honest and tell you, Christmas for just us two isn’t much fun.

We tried to be as festive as possible. We took in a movie on Christmas Eve and then drove around Tallahassee to view the holiday lights, returning home to open gifts from each other. We’d agreed neither of us needed any big gifts this year, so I bought Studly books (he really isn’t a reader, but I always hold out hope), and T-shirts featuring vintage motorcycle brands.

He bought me Star Wars stuff: a Resistance leader’s jacket, a BB-8 handbag, and several pieces of jewelry in the shapes of light sabers and droids. So if anyone in Tallahassee sees a late middle aged woman sporting any of the aforementioned gear, you can be fairly certain it’s me. Say hello and we’ll go find some First Order thugs to put in their place before heading for coffee.

Our dinner on Christmas Day was outstanding, even if I do say so myself. I ran Studly out of the house to work in his shop, opened a bottle of Chardonnay, and made a meal for the ages. I’m a much better cook when fueled by wine, and that’s a fact. Studly went back for seconds and thirds which I took as the highest compliment. And the pecan pie, oh my word! It was one of the best ever. Studly said I was going to have to stop telling people what an awful cook I am.

We went to another movie after dinner, getting home much later than is our norm (10 p.m! Absolutely decadent!) and then spent a quiet post-Christmas Tuesday. I had planned and executed the perfect turkey and cheddar sandwich on soft white bread for dinner, while Studly warmed up the leftover turkey and dressing for a repeat of Christmas Day’s meal.

So, while nothing exciting happened, and we missed being with our children, we had a pleasant holiday. I’m writing this on Tuesday evening and thinking I might have to have one more piece of pecan pie. Wednesday’s post most likely will deal with how none of my pants will button. Exciting stuff. Stay tuned.

Peace, people!

My Famous Pecan Pie

Yesterday I posted a true story of a heart wrenching encounter I had with a woman at Walmart in Tallahassee. I won’t retell it here, but I want to thank everyone for their comments and for sharing their own tales of times they’ve either confided in a stranger or had a stranger confide in them. I feel fortunate to have friends and followers with so much compassion for others.

Now, within yesterday’s post there was a casual mention of my “famous pecan pie.” Out of all the comments I received only one person, my cousin Elaine, inquired about the pie. I felt sure everyone would need my secret recipe for the perfect pecan pie, but I guess the heart-wrenching part of my story overshadowed the pie part.

Those of you who’ve followed my blog for any length of time know that I’m a zero in the kitchen. For awhile I regaled readers with my culinary escapades in a series of posts I called “Cooking for Studly.” For almost a year I planned meals and had dinner on the table every single night. Then one day Studly came home and relieved me of my chef’s hat.

“Honey,” he said, “I’ve decided I don’t want a big meal for dinner. From now on I’m having cottage cheese and fruit.”

Some women might’ve taken that as an insult. Some women might’ve felt dejected. This woman lifted her arms to heaven and said, “Thank you Lord, for answering my prayers!”

In spite of my ineptitude in matters related to cooking I do manage to put together a good holiday meal. My turkey usually turns out tender and juicy; although, there was that one year that each bite of turkey required one drink of water or wine or tea. My cornbread dressing generally turns out to be sufficiently savory and my green bean casserole is boringly adequate.

It’s my pecan pie, though, that brings me a sense of pride. In all the years I’ve made it, it’s never failed. I’ll share the top secret recipe in this post and I hope you’ll all let me know how yours turns out.

Okay, so it’s the recipe on the Karo Syrup label. Shhhh!

Peace, people!

Nanny’s Recipes

Many years ago my mother’s mother, Nanny Grace, gave me a book filled with her favorite recipes as a Christmas gift. It was then, and remains to this day, my favorite gift of all time. And even though I’m no cook, I have actually considered using her recipes on many occasions. Fortunately I always come to my senses and let someone else do the cooking. 

A couple of weeks ago one of my cousins asked if I still had my recipe book, and if so, could I share it with her. And of course I thought, why not share it with everyone? So here are a few of the recipes my Nanny wrote out for me. Enjoy.

Cheese Puffs:

No Cook Chocolate Candy:

Rye Bread Capers:

Rye bread capers continued below:

Mexican Cornbread:

Mexican Cornbread, continued.

Eagle Brand Fruit Cake:

White Fruit Cake:

White Fruit Cake, continued below:

Cinnamon Pound Cake:

Cinnamon Pound Cake continued below:

Millionaire Pie–I’ve actually made this as evidenced by the condition of the card, and it is so good.

Millionaire Pie, continued below:

Lemon Chess Bars

Lemon Chess Pie

Rice Dressing:

Rice Dressing, continued below:

Broccoli Dish:

Potato and Cheese Casserole:

Potato and Cheese Casserole, continued:

Jalapeño Corn Casserole:

Jalapeño Corn Casserole, continued:

Cheese and Egg Soufflé:

Cheese and Egg Soufflé, continued:

What I love most about these recipes is having examples of my Nanny’s handwriting and a glimpse into her life. She was a beautiful woman. And she could cook!

That’s Nanny with my mom behind her and my Aunt Nedra beside her.

Let me know if you try any of the recipes, or if you need clarification. Nanny would be so proud.

Peace, people!

Sad Tale

Studly Doright was out of town part of last week, so my meals were of the simple variety. Lean Cuisine and Smart Ones entrees were my go to dinners.  
^^^^My microwave and my oven. ^^^^

On my first night alone, I extracted a frozen Smart Ones vegetable lasagna from the freezer.

I preheated the oven to 375° to cook the lasagna, and set the timer for 45 minutes.

Off I went to sort laundry, play a bit of Words with Friends, and watch a Criminal Minds rerun. 

After some time passed I noted there remained five minutes of cooking time, so I poured a glass of wine and prepared a small salad.

The timer sounded and I opened the oven door to remove my entree. 


Nothing! I was puzzled.

Until I thought to look in the microwave.

Good thing I wasn’t terribly hungry.  

Peace, people.

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