Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's Fall Ya'll

I heard the Tennessee pumpkin crop wasn't doing so good this year because of all the rain. You can't tell that from Sunflower Sue's patch. She sent me these pictures of some of her first pumpkins. Aren't they beautiful?

Pumpkins are one of those wonderfully versatile foods that can be used as a decoration and then as a yummy pie. And, I love roasted pumpkin seeds! Here's a vintage pie recipe you can try this Fall.
Southern Pumpkin Pecan Pie
Pastry for 1-crust pie (9-in. pie pan)
2 cups cooked pumpkin
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix pumpkin, sugar, and spices. Add eggs and cream , mixing until smooth. Pour into pastry shell. Bake at 350 degrees 50 to 60 minutes or until a silver knife comes out clean when inserted halfway between center and edge of filling.
While pie is cooking, blend together
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
When pie is finished cooking, remove from oven and spoon the above mixture evenly over top. Top with 1/2 cup pecans.
Set temperature control of range at Broil. Set pie on broiler rack and place in broiler with top of pie 3 inches from source of heat. Broil 1 minute or until butter mixture bubbles. Watch closely to avoid scorching. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack.
Before serving, top with Sweetened Whipped Cream.
Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 cup chilled whipping cream
3 tablespoons sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place a rotary beater and a 1-quart bowl in refrigerator to chill. Place whipping cream in chilled bowl. Using chilled bowl and beater, beat until soft peaks are formed when beater is slowly lifted upright. Beat into sugar and vanilla into whipped cream with final few strokes until blended. Set in refrigerator if not used immediately. Mixture may be tinted by gently stirring in one or more drops of food coloring. This makes about 2 cups of whipped cream.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head....

So....when did Tennessee get moved to Washington state? I snapped this picture of a double rainbow while it was still raining. That's why is not a very good picture. You can just barely make out the second rainbow.
I don't remember the last time I saw the sun. It reminds me of a short science-fiction story I read as a child. The entire story took place in a school room on some planet. Maybe it was Mars? Anyway, it rained constantly and the sun only came out every seven years. The main character was born on Earth and actually claimed to remember the sun. None of the other children believed her and teased her quite a bit about it. They had all been born on this planet and had never seen the sun. So, the day came for the rain to stop for a few hours and for the sun to come out. As it happened, the little girl ended up being locked in the closet by some children. They just meant to tease her, but ended up forgetting all about her when the sun came out. Of course, she missed her chance to play in the sun.
I'm sure there was a lesson for us all to learn in the story. Looking back on it now, I think it has a pretty simple point.
Don't let anyone ruin your chance to stand in the Sun!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Labels, Labels Everywhere

I sat down today to pay a stack of bills. I also had about two weeks of junk mail to open. Normally, I don't let it pile up so much. Over the last couple of years I have noticed an increased amount of solicitations from various charities. I don't mind that, but I have to wonder about one thing. Why do they all insist on sending me 'free' address labels? In this pile of mail, I had three different sets of labels, two sets of note pads, a full-size calender, a pocket calendar, and a dream catcher. I would rather they keep the stuff and use the money elsewhere. I mean, really, I will never have to buy labels or address an envelope again. Ever! It's too bad that I don't send out much snail mail anymore. All those labels would come in handy!

Okay, now that my little label rant is over, there is one worthy charity I want to mention to you. Meals on Wheels provides home-delivered meals to the needy and senior citizens. Often times, this is the only hot meal the person has each day. Some chapters even help out with cat or dog food realizing that some of their cases were sharing their meals with their pet. Check out their website and consider donating time or money to this worthy cause. You can donate nationally, or search for the local chapter in your area. Every day someone falls through the cracks of red tape for assistance programs. Giving to Meals on Wheels, and charities like it, help fill in those cracks. And, in all the years that I've been donating to Meals on Wheels, they've never sent me address labels.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

All About Phil

I have a confession that will shock most of my friends. As expected, I went throuh a pretty rough time when my parents died a few years ago. I tried to pretend everything was normal, but I was pretty much a mess inside. It was around that time that I slowly and deliberately murdered all of my house plants. Weeks without food and water will do that to a plant. Not only did I murder the plants, but I left their shriveled bodies sitting around the house for several weeks. It may have been months. I truly don't remember. In any case, at some point I disposed of the bodies without so much as an ounce of guilt. Mom would be disappointed, but each plant had become a reminder of something unpleasant.
One plant was from my Grandfather's funeral. It was a huge peace lily that someone sent to our family. Every time I looked at that plant, I remembered seeing it in the funeral home. I never could get it to bloom. I even put some false blooms in the pot to shame it into blooming. That didn't work and only made the plant look sad. Still, I spent years hauling it from room to room during Winters and Summers. If you've ever owned a peace lily, you know it was wasn't an easy kill. They can go for quite a while without water, looking defeated, only to be revived at the last minute. Some of the plants were 'rescues' from stores. I would deliberately buy a small plant that was in bad shape so that I could 'nurse' it back to health. One was a fig tree, but that one committed suicide.
My once green thumb turned black. Friends at work gave me a bamboo plant for my birthday. They are supposed to be very easy to care for; all you have to do is water them. Well, it didn't last to my next birthday. I can remember Mom getting a hanging plant years ago. It was supposed to be one of the easiest plants to care for, and it lasted two days. Mom had a green thumb, so she was not happy. She never gave up with house plants though, and never deliberately murdered a plant
I have to say that I have not been tempted to buy any plants lately. So, when a friend wanted to clear a few out of her house, I was hesitant to accept. In the end, I accepted one small plant with the disclaimer that it might not make it to Christmas. It actually lost a leaf as I put it into the car and I did not take that as a good sign. Perhaps the plant was as hesitant of me as I was of it. So, I took it home and sat it in the entrance hall which is no where near direct light. It sat there for two days before I decided on where to put it.
I finally decided on the dining room window. I even gave the plant a name - Phil. Maybe having a name will keep Phil alive longer. He might even thrive. Phil is open to all possibilities, at least those that are within reach of his pot. Of course, writing about Phil and his progress will help. I certainly don't want to be caught doing something premeditated. Tomorrow I will water Phil, and somewhere Mom is smiling.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What will I be?

I started out with such great hopes. Maybe I would end up on a BLT. Or, maybe, just by chance, a Green Giant truck would break down near the driveway and discover me. I would have my name in lights. Well, not lights, but definitely my image on a can. Or, maybe a photo shoot for Southern Living featuring little 'ole me. I could have been in a 'challenge' on Iron Chef. I never thought I'd still be stuck here after all this time.
Everyone, absolutely everyone, got picked but me. Even the ones with spots! Even the ones that some critter took a bite out of. Am I not still pretty? Am I not still ripe? Yet, here I hang, not enough for a sauce and too late for a salad.
Once, long ago, my kind were feared and thought poisonous. Then there was the whole identity crisis of whether I was a vegetable or a fruit. Now days everyone is going after the rare heirlooms or expensive vine-ripened ones. Just give me a chance. I taste just as good! Just because I was left behind doesn't mean I'm bad. Do you see even one spot? Do you....hey...wait a minute, I think I hear something. she comes....and with a pot..maybe..maybe....yes! Finally, my turn! I wonder.....what will I be?
For my friend, Susan, here's a vintage recipe that you can make with one lone tomato...
Tomato Broil
Mix and set aside:
1 tablespoon fine cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Rinse, cut away stem ends from and cut into halves crosswise 1 tomato. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with the crumb mixture. Place on a broiler rack. Set temperature control of rate at Broil. Place broiler rack under broiler with top of tomato about 3 inches from source of heat. Broil 10 minutes or until crumbs are lightly browned.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Barefoot in the Hollow

Lately I have been enjoying short walks in the early morning. I would love to tell you that I leap out of bed, eager to meet the day. In truth, I hit the snooze button and hope for rain. But, once I am outside, I actually enjoy the peace and quiet just as the day starts to break. It gives me a lot of time to think. While I try to concentrate on breathing in and out or walking without tripping, a lot of random thoughts wander around in my head. Sometimes it's a thought as simple as wondering what kind of bug just few past me. Or, something as complicated as 'the economy'. Recently I've been thinking a lot about shoes.

At the start of every school year, I would get a new pair of shoes. Remember buying shoes in a department store? Remember getting your foot measured and the salesman bringing you boxes of shoes to try? We didn't have anything like back then. By summer, I would outgrow my shoes and end up spending the days barefoot. I don't remember ever cutting my foot on anything while barefoot. But, I do remember a nice, big rusty nail that went straight thru the shoe into my foot one summer. These days, I know too much about the dangers that lurk on the ground to be brave enough to walk barefoot through the yard. Well, okay, maybe it's also because my feet are more tender now.

I need new walking shoes and have been in search of the perfect pair. In my Internet wanderings, I found The North Face at I've been to before in search of the perfect pair of shoes. Their selection and easy search engine combine to help me make an informed decision when purchasing from their site. Sometimes when I'm shopping online, I imagine a tiny salesman running around their virtual store bringing me hundreds of boxes of shoes! The North Face product line is from a company that started out specializing in mountain climbing gear, and they are serious about shoes. Actually, they have a whole line of outdoor gear from clothing to tents and even handbags! Just looking at all The North Face styles inspires me to forget walking and start hiking! Well, maybe hiking isn't such a good idea while I'm still concentrating on walking without falling. But, shoes developed for use in the wilds of Alaska should make walking in the hollows of Tennessee a breeze!