Sunday, November 29, 2009

Vintage Recipes - Wacky Wack Cake

These cookbooks belonged to my Grandmother and I love looking through them for recipes.

Not only are there lots of hand-written recipes, but clippings of recipes from newspapers and magazines. It's fun to look on the back of the recipe to get a glimpse of an ad or story from decades past.

Isn't this wonderful? There are a few pages from the early 1940's showing the cost of canning fruit!
This vintage recipe for a cake calls for NO eggs!
Wacky Wack Cake (no eggs)
Set oven at 350 degrees. Place large sifter in a 8x8x2 ungreased pan. Into sifter put:
1 and 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sift into pan and jiggle to flatten. With back of spoon make 3 little hollows. Into these put:
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/3 cup oil or 3/4 stick of melted butter
Over everything pour 1 cup water. Stir well until mixed. Bake 35 minutes.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ancient Forest in Nashville

If you've read some of my previous posts, you know how much I love trees. I first read of Hill tract earlier this year was completely stunned that such a tract of land could exist today. What is known as Hill Tract is a 324-acre old-growth forest with trees that are more than two centuries old. The timber has never been harvested. Never. Think about can walk in this forest and see three hundred year old trees. There is no undergrowth of ivy or ferns because the tree canopy blocks out sunlight. The most amazing fact is that this forest exists just nine miles from downtown Nashville, Tennessee.
Generations of the Hill family are owed our gratitude for taking personal responsibility and preserving this forest. It takes a special love of nature to see beyond the earnings from cutting timber to realize you are the guardian of something truly unique.
The Friends of Warner Parks are raising funds to purchase the 324-acre Hill Tract to preserve it for future generations. I urge you to take a look at their website and consider donating. This time of year there are a lot of worthy causes that grab our attention. But, this is truly a once in a lifetime chance to make a difference for our future generations.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Memories

This time of year can be difficult. The stress of making the perfect Thanksgiving dinner falls on new and experienced cooks. Some of these dishes are only made once a year, so that really increases the pressure. While Thanksgiving is definitely about enjoying some delicious food, it's mostly about making some great memories.
I can remember Mom buying each piece of this set of china. The sets were being sold in the local grocery store. With each grocery purchase, you could purchase a piece of china at a discounted price. Mom and I worked very hard to get just enough pieces to debut the set at our Thanksgiving table that year. While we didn't have every piece, there was enough for the dinner table.
That dinner table had been used for years. While it was wooden, it had the most indestructible finished top. I think you could pour a gallon of water on it and it would never penetrate the wood. I remember laying my head on the cool surface when I was a child and crying with an ear ache. We played cards and Scrabble at that table. Decades of breakfasts and suppers sat upon it. At Thanksgiving, an extra leaf was added and it was covered with one of Grandma's white tablecloths.
This particular year, later referred to as the year of the china, Mom and I worked really hard to make sure the table was set 'just right'. I'll blame Mom, but it was probably my idea to take a picture of the 'set' table with the turkey in the center. After our photo shoot, we needed to move the table a little more to the center of the kitchen. Mom was on one end and I on the other when we picked up the table. That moment still plays like slow motion in my memories. Our beloved table, after decades of service, picked that moment to break in half. Mom and I gazed in horror as our brand new china began sliding toward the turkey in the center. We couldn't let go of the table and we couldn't grab the china. I'm not sure who screamed first, but the menfolk came running. Being men, they grabbed the turkey first. Mom and I screamed in unison 'the dishes, get the dishes!'. The only thing keeping everything from sliding to the floor was the tablecloth wrapped around the ends of the table we were still holding. It seemed like it took forever for those dishes to be moved. Mom and I just knew that they'd be chipped an broken before we had a chance to use them.
Well, not a chip or scratch could be found on any plate. I guess that is the mark of really good china! Mom cried over the broken table, but we borrowed one from Grandma for Thanksgiving dinner. After all the usual chaos of Thanksgiving, the food was wonderful. All of us together, eating on new china and a borrowed table, made for a perfect Thanksgiving. In the end though, it's the memory of us holding that broken table, laughing and crying, that still stands out after all these years.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Phil Update

I'm a little past due on my 'Phil Update'. When I first introduced you to Phil, my intention was to post a new picture every month. Well, it's been over two months now so I'm sure you have been concerned. As you can see Phil is doing well. The little pile of dead leaves to the right were the result of spending too much time in the sun. I have some pretty sunny windows and Phil didn't take too well to them. It also took us a little while to get the 'watering' schedule down pat. But, so far, so good. Here's a before picture.
He has grown quite a bit. Since Christmas is around the corner, maybe we'll do a little decorating. Have a great day!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cross Creeks

There's just something about taking a early morning drive in the country. I took these pictures recently on a drive in Cross Creeks NWR. The morning was too foggy for great pictures, but I couldn't resist snapping a few of the mist on the lake.
This one is a view of the smoke stacks from TVA's Cumberland City Steam Plant.I have to wonder what is actually coming from those stacks and what it is doing to our environment....
It took a moment to recognize these dead plants....Lille Pads! I've always seen them 'green' and floating on the water.

All those Lille Pads remind me of frog legs! They really do taste a little like chicken.
Fried Frog Legs
Soak 8 pairs of skinned frog legs in salted water for twenty minutes. Make a mixture of 1/2 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Drain frog legs and dip in buttermilk.
Heat 2/3 cup butter in a heavy skillet over low heat. Add 1 clove garlic and 1/4 teaspoon savory and cook about five minutes. Add frog legs and cook until brown (15 to 20 minutes) turning two or three times to prevent burning. Drain and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Strong Foundations

You've heard me talk a lot about 'where things used to be' over the last couple of months. This Fall, I've spent a lot of time driving around and visiting old haunts. It's amazing how much things have changed, but how some stay the same. This old bridge looks the same to me. It's a leftover relic from the formation of Barkley Lake and the dam.

Mom, Grandma and I used to fish from this side of the water years ago. It looks pretty much the same except some of the trees are a lot bigger now. I can remember being too scared to fish here and would often head to a lower spot on the bank.

It doesn't take nature long to 'take back' the road. But the foundation of the bridge is still there after all these years. I can close my eyes and still see Grandma in her fuzzy 'fishing hat'. I guess strong foundations make for strong memories. Have a great day!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


My friend Mo Mo called recently and asked me to stop by her house on the way home. Since I was in the grocery at the moment, I was also asked to pick up some coffee creamer. Even though I have only recently enjoyed drinking coffee, I could understand that creamer was needed before morning. It's hard to find just plain creamer these days. As I was standing in front of the choices, my mind drifted to our friendship over the years. We've known each other literally forever and are more like sisters than friends. While it's great to make new friendships, there's just something about the old ones. Like not having to explain all your 'history' to someone new, old friends just 'get' you. And, believe me, there's a lot about me to 'get'.
When I dropped off the creamer, Mo Mo had a surprise for me. I was instructed not to open it until I got home. I immediately asked if it was food. I had been giving her a hard time lately over her orange candy and the fact that I don't remember getting more than a couple of pieces last year at Christmas. She insists I was given lots more, but I think Mo Mo may be having some memory issues....but that is another story - one that I can be persuaded not to tell upon receipt of a nice supply of orange candy.
Anyway, imagine my surprise when I opened the package and found this beautiful fleece blanket! Mo Mo made it herself! It's beautiful, warm and so soft. I immediately wanted to curl up on the couch with it. Actually, I did just that with a cup of Fireside Coffee. Thanks Mo Mo!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Paris Landing

We've had some beautiful fall weather lately. It's nice to see some blue sky after all the rain. These pictures were taken on a recent visit to Paris Landing. This is a view of the Tennessee River. Below is a view of the bridge.

This is part of the old bridge. I remember crossing the river on this tiny two-lane bridge. It definitely was not fun if you met a semi-truck!

And, one lovely tree still has its leaves.

Have a great day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Early Morning in the Hollow

There are a lot of beautiful things that you can miss by 'sleeping in'. One of them is this beautiful sunrise reflecting on the clouds. Of course there is always an abundance of wildlife. But, I wonder how often you might notice spiders. I heard once that there are over 11,000 spiders in an acre. This next picture makes a believer out of me.

Those little, white fluffy things are actually spider webs covered with morning dew. Just imagine how many spiders are out there! I wonder how many insects they trapped overnight. Just one more reminder that we are not alone! Enjoy your day!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Black Walnut-Caramel Fudge

It's the day after Halloween and I know lots of you have an abundance of candy. I don't remember that much store bought candy from Halloween in the hollow. There were only a few houses that Mom would take me for Trick or Treat. These were close friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, even back then, there were evil individuals bent on doing harm. I grew up in a time when children were cautioned to have their candy checked for razor blades. So, we never went to a stranger's house. Of those times, I remember two neighbors most. One always gave me a shiny red apple which probably came from their tree. I can hear children and adults groaning over that, but I loved those apples! The other was Miss Hattie's house. Miss Hattie always gave out home-made fudge. I have never tasted fudge since that compared.
When I was looking through one of my vintage cookbooks for a fudge recipe, I came across one that called for black walnuts. Since black walnuts and hickory nuts were plentiful in the hollow, both found their way into lots of our recipes. So, in honor of Miss Hattie and Halloween's past, I hope you will enjoy this recipe. (Please note that whenever I post a 'vintage' recipe, I print it 'as is' without spelling or grammatical corrections.)
Black Walnut-Caramel Fudge
Butter an 8x8x2in. pan. Set out a candy thermometer and a heavy 3-qt. saucepan. Chop and set aside 2 cups of black walnuts. Measure into a large, heavy light-colored skillet (a black skillet makes it difficult to see the color of the sirup) 2 cups sugar. Put the skillet over low heat. With back of wooden spoon, gently keep sugar moving toward center of skillet until it melts. Remove from heat and set aside.
Mix together in the saucepan 4 cups sugar and 2 cups milk. Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and bring to boiling. Add the melted sugar very slowly, stirring constantly. Put candy thermometer in place. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until mixture reaches 234F (soft ball stage), remove from heat while testing. During cooking, wash crystals* from sides of pan. Remove from heat.
Set aside until just cool enough to hold pan on hand. Do not jar pan or stir. When cool, add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Beat vigorously until mixture loses its gloss. With a few strokes stir in the chopped nuts. Quickly turn into the buttered pan without scraping bottom and sides of saucepan and spread evenly. Set aside to cool. When cool, cut into 1 and 1/2 inch squares. Makes about 2 doz. pieces of fudge. (You should have a child ready to lick the remains of warm fudge left on the sides and bottom of pan.)
*WASH DOWN CRYSTALS from sides of pan during cooking with a pastry brush dipped in water; move candy thermometer to one side and wash down any crystals that may have formed under thermometer.