Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pictures of our Ice Storm

Here are a few pictures I took during our ice storm this week.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fireside Coffee

Even as a child, I loved the smell of coffee brewing. Some of my earliest memories of my grandmother and great-grandmother are involving coffee. For Mammie, it's remembering her in the kitchen making coffee in an old-fashioned peculator. For MaMa, it's the smell of Sanka or Taster's Choice as she poured boiling water into her cup. She always filled the cup to the brim. Then she added milk and sugar so that the coffee spilled over into the saucer. Of course, the coffee in the saucer was sipped first!

When I still lived with Mom and Dad, I often did grocery shopping along with buying coffee. Back then, the choices were determined by brand and then the type of coffee maker you had - automatic drip, peculator, etc. Years after moving out, I went to buy coffee for my Mr. Coffee machine leftover from MaMa. Imagine my surprise as I'm searching for automatic drip coffee. Coffee is no longer an easy choice determined by your coffee maker. Along with all sorts of new brands, there are little meters on the cans that show the type of roast - medium, dark, etc. Well, it's not really in cans anymore! I just stood there looking and wondering what to buy. I finally decided on medium roast and hoped for the best. It worked out and I developed taste for coffee, any coffee. I like instant, decaf, or brewed. I like it alone, with cream and sugar or with hot chocolate. I like fresh, a day old, or iced. I do not understand paying $4 for a cup of coffee. I especially do not understand it in today's economy, when you can add your own flavors easily and inexpensively.

Sunday is usually the only day I can relax with an early morning cup of coffee. My favorite is Fireside Coffee, a blend of instant coffee, creamer and hot chocolate. Most days I will use the leftover coffee from the day before, bring it to a boil, and add it to my Fireside Coffee mixture. I figured out one day that I'm consuming the equivalent of six cups of coffee at one time. Try the recipe (click here) and I'm sure you'll like it. You might want to just mix it with water though. Gotta go now - coffee's waiting and then I have to bounce off some walls from my caffeine rush!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Campfire Beans

I have never been much for camping out, but I have to admit that food tastes better in the open air. I think I've had enough of Winter. By the time January rolls around, I'm ready for Spring. I thought you might be wishing for warmer weather too and would enjoy this little excerpt from 'How to Camp Out' by John Gould.

"When living in the open air the appetite is so good, and the pleasure of getting your own meals is so great, that, whatever may be cooked, it is excellent.

You will need a frying-pan and a coffee-pot, even if you are carrying all your baggage upon your back. You can do a great deal of good cooking with these two utensils, after having had experience; and it is experience, rather than recipes and instructions, that you need. Soldiers in the field used to unsolder their tin canteens, and make two frying-pans of them; and I have seen a deep pressed-tin plate used by having two loops riveted on the edges opposite each other to run a handle through. Food fried in such plates needs careful attention and a low fire; and, as the plates themselves are somewhat delicate, they cannot be used roughly.

It is far better to carry a real frying-pan, especially if there are three or more in your party. If you have transportation, or are going into a permanent camp, do not think of the tin article.

A coffee-pot with a bail and handle is better than one with a handle only, and a lip is better than a spout; since handles and spouts are apt to unsolder.

Young people are apt to put their pot or frying-pan on the burning wood, and it soon tips over. Also they let the pot boil over, and presently it unsolders for want of water. Few think to keep the handle so that it can be touched without burning or smutting; and hardly any young person knows that pitchy wood will give a bad flavor to any thing cooked over it on an open fire. Live coals are rather better, therefore, than the blaze of a new fire.

If your frying-pan catches fire inside, do not get frightened, but take it off instantly, and blow out the fire, or smother it with the cover or a board if you cannot blow it out.

You will do well to consult a cook-book if you wish for variety in your cooking; but some things not found in cook-books I will give you here.

Stale bread, pilot-bread, dried corn-cakes, and crumbs, soaked a few minutes in water, or better still in milk, and fried, are all quite palatable.

In frying bread, or any thing else, have the fat boiling hot before you put in the food: this prevents it from soaking fat.


Lumbermen bake beans deliciously in an iron pot that has a cover with a projecting rim to prevent the ashes from getting in the pot. The beans are first parboiled in one or two waters until the outside skin begins to crack. They are then put into the baking-pot, and salt pork at the rate of a pound to a quart and a half of dry beans is placed just under the surface of the beans. The rind of the pork should be gashed so that it will cut easily after baking. Two or three tablespoonfuls of molasses are put in, and a little salt, unless the pork is considerably lean. Water enough is added to cover the beans.

A hole three feet or more deep is dug in the ground, and heated for an hour by a good hot fire. The coals are then shoveled out, and the pot put in the hole, and immediately buried by throwing back the coals, and covering all with dry earth. In this condition they are left to bake all night."

Of course, you don't really have to go to that much trouble for baked beans. Try Mom's version.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Leftovers Save Money

Throwing out leftovers is like throwing money away. Just like saving your change adds up, so does saving your leftovers. The only problem is that most of us don't know what to do with them. The easiest answer is using tonights leftovers for lunch tomorrow. But, with a little creativity, your leftovers could seem like brand new dishes.

Here are a few vintage recipes that you can update to use up your leftovers:

Egyptian Salad

1 cup left-over baked beans, cooked dried peas, beans, lentils or cooked rice
1 cup chopped celery
3 tablespoons chopped green or red pepper
3 tablespoons chopped pickle
1 cup salad dressing or mayo

Mix ingredients thoroughly and let stand for 30 minutes in refrigerator to blend flavor thoroughly.

Mixed Vegetable Salad

1 cup cooked potatoes
1 cup cooked carrots
1 cup cooked peas
1 cup cooked beets

Make a French dressing of

1/2 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix dressing thoroughly and pour over the vegetables. Any vegetable may be used in this way. Let stand 30 minutes. When ready to serve, place each portion in a nest made of two lettuce leaves or other salad green.

Mandalay Salad

1 cup cooked peas or carrots
1 cup cooked cold rice
1/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon curry powder

Mix all ingredients, serve cold, either plain, or on lettuce leaves or in nests made of cabbage or celery.

Meat or Fish Salad

1 cup left-over meat or fish
3 tablespoons chopped pickle
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup cooked salad dressing

Mix ingredients thoroughly and serve. If one-quarter cup of French dressing is mixed with meat or fish, 30 minutes before serving, adding other ingredients, the flavor is much improved.

Chocolate Bread Pudding

1 cup crumbs
2 cups milk
1 oz. chocolate
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix ingredients. Bake 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

Cereal Fruit Pudding

2 cups milk
1 cup any ready-to-eat cereal
1 egg (beaten)
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup raisins, dates or prunes

Mix ingredients. Bake 30 to 40 minutes at 350.

Spanish Casserole

2 cups cooked rice
1 quart tomatoes
1/4 to 1 lb ground beef
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons onions, chopped
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Add rice to tomatoes. Add seasoning to meat & onions and brown. bake in casserole for about 2 hours at 325.

Surprise Croquettes

1 cup leftover cereal
1 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 beaten egg

Shape as croquettes and bake in oven or pan-broil. Serve with tart jelly.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Winter Gardening?

Winter Gardening? Sounds cold to me! Maybe it was the abundance of Christmas goodies or the early snow, but I have been craving vegetables. Not canned, frozen or shipped from California, but real vegetables grown in Tennessee sunshine. I remember that Mom said the potatoes should be in the ground by the first of March. That sounds kind of soon to me. Can't we sleep in until the end of March? I find it hard to believe winters were milder back in the day. You know the, "whole walking to school in 'foot' deep snow and up hill both ways", tale. Trust me, for I have seen snow in April and tornadoes in January. You get the idea. Timing is everything. In any case, the idea is to start sooner rather than later. If you wait until the weather feels warm enough, you are already behind schedule.

The physical work of your garden is still a few months away, but the planning can begin now.

Make plans for your garden. Think carefully about the location and arrangement of each plant. This holds true for both vegetables and flowers. If you don't have a lot of room, consider a raised bed or planters.

Take an inventory of the gardening supplies you have on hand. You probably already have a hoe, rake, a weeding-hook, a trowel for transplanting, a wheel-barrow, a spade, and a watering can. But, there could be some nifty sales at the lawn & garden center.

Make a list of the vegetables/flowers you want to grow and where you want to put them. Then do some research on the best soil and location for the plants you have chosen to use. By researching the habit and season of bloom, you are better informed before you plant. Check out the great heirloom seeds available from Marianna's Heirlooms.

If you are replacing old or dead shrubs, you can cut them up and remove as many of the old roots as possible.

If the weather is mild enough for outdoor work, you can give your lawn some attention. Rake off all debris such as limbs, twigs, leaves that may have collected on it during the last few months.

Go over all the shrubs cut out old wood and weak branches.

Get racks or trellises ready for use in your garden or yard.

Spend some time doing online shopping for seeds. Be sure and check out the wonderful heirloom varieties available these days. For more information about heirloom vegetable gardening, click here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
a full moon on a dark night,
and a smooth road all the way to your door!
Happy New Year!

Just in case you think Winter will last forever, here are some pictures to remind you of the warmer months to come.