Saturday, June 25, 2011

Celebrating with my parents: Their 36th anniversary.

My parents are my rock.  Always have been.  Things change, I've matured, they've gotten older and lost some their spunk, but they are still amazing.  Tomorrow, I am having them over for an anniversary dinner.  This party will be low-key as both of my sisters are working (both nurses) and it's been a busy weekend with very little time to prepare for a whole lot.  My menu is going to be simple and delicious, focusing on some local goodies that are in season.  I will be grilling ribeyes (recipe below), making a baked corn dish, grilled vidalia onions, yeast rolls and Iny's prune cake.  Being together means more to my parents than anything else and they were so pleased when I ask them to come over for a low-key night. 

I am grill master in my home and I am going to share with you my tried and true recipe for grilled ribeyes.  Please y'all, don't use anything but a charcoal grill.  They are worth the trouble.....I PROMISE!

4-Ribeyes, I use local angus beef, 1/2" thick
2 cloves of garlic, cut in half
2 splashes of worcehershire sauce on each side of each steak
1/2 tsp bourbon per steak

Rub each steak with garlic on both sides, paying special attention to the fatty areas.  Rub each steak w/bourbon and w-sauce.  Allow to marinate for at least an hour.  Set steaks out at least 30 minutes before grilling.  This helps take the chill of the meat and steaks cook much more evenly.  Finally, season with seasoned salt and pepper before putting on the grill.  Enjoy.

That's it for me tonight, y'all.  This country momma is pooped.  Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fourth and final food type: Romantical.

Yes, I said it, romantical.  This post could be weird.  For one, I am high on Benadryl and can barely function.  Can't function with the meds, and certainly can't function without them, so I don't know what to say other than I live in the Ohio valley and we have had rain for several days in a row.  Mold galore.  Bad, bad news for me and my fellow allergy sufferers.  Anyhow,  most adults know about aphrodisiacs.  Chocolate, raw oysters, etc.  Those things DO NOT work in my house.  My husband hates oysters AND chocolate.  Seriously.  When I want to do something special for my sweet thang, I usually grill ribeyes, make twice baked potatoes and a salad
Paula Deen says that buttery, oily foods, foods that are eaten with our hands, oysters that glide down your throat, are all sensual.  Well, Ms. Paula, we'll just have to take your word on that one!  Lol.

And yes, I realize this is a short one for me.  To be honest, it's out of my comfort zone, but I promised it, so I delivered.  Kinda.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Celebration food.....

Back to our Southern food groups, lol.  This post makes me happy because it is all about two of my favorite things--food and family gatherings.  I can spend hours planning a special menu for an occasion to be celebrated.  Nearly anything can turn into a celebration!!!  Graduation parties, baptism parties (yes, we baptists make a huge deal of this), birthday parties, retirement celebrations, etc.  Throw in all holidays and it's very easy to have a party nearly every weekend.  That, makes me happy.  What kinds of foods are served at a Southern celebration?  Our best dishes, of course.  In my family, we love to have themed parties.  At my mom's house, we quite often have "Mexican night".  We make quesedillas, refried beans, rice, homemade tortilla chips and guac...yummy!  We've been known to have dessert parties as well.....cheesecake, banana puddings, chocolate mousse, I could go on and on.

My momma is famous for her cheese ball recipe.  It has been served at countless celebrations and people beg for the recipe.  Today, I'm going to share it with y'all and maybe, just maybe it might make it's way onto your table.  Hope y'all enjoy.

Peggy's Dried Beef Ball

2 pkgs.  dried beef (Armour, in small glass jars)
1tsp accent
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 small green onions, diced
2-8oz pkg cream cheese

Rinse each slice of beef under water.  Place all in paper towels to remove excess moisture.  Place in food processor and chop.  Remove and set aside.  Place green onion in processor and chop finely.  Add cream cheese, accent, Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 of the chopped beef.  Pulse until well blended.  Wrap cheese mixture and refrigerate several hours or overnight.  Place remaining beef in refrigerator also.  When cheese mixture has chilled, while it is still wrapped in plastic, roll it in a ball.  Remove plastic and roll in remaining beef.  Serve with ritz or toll house crackers.

A couple of notes from me....

Even people who don't like green onion (myself included), love this.  The key is to really process it well.
Also, many of you may not have heard of the chopped beef.  You shouldn't have any trouble finding this if you look around the canned meat aisle in your grocery.  Think canned salmon and you should find it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our new furbaby,,,,

Meet Miss Petunia Dandelion.  We think she is gorgeous, and are well aware this could be a face only a mother could love!!!!  After losing our Pekingese of 11 years (he was 13), we weren't sure whether we wanted another house dog.  I did a deep cleaning, cleaned the carpets, got rid of all the food bowls and was feeling pretty good about my neater, fresher smelling, dog hair free house.  Oh the glory of it---something I had never experienced in all my years of home ownership.  What changed?  Along with lessened responsibilities, we noticed our contentment and loved was also lessened.  We needed a house dog.  Quite frankly, my only child needed a playmate.  Soooo, we starting looking around a bit.  Being huge supporters of our local animal shelter, we had hoped to find something there.  It took about a month of checking in, but our dog soon made its appearance. 

Petunia wasn't perfect however, she had a horrible double eye infection.  The infection had affected her third eye lid in both eyes and we didn't know if she would require surgery and be able to maintain her vision or not.  She was a risk, but so worth it.  For seven days now, we have given her antibiotics orally and given her eye drops several times a day.  Her eyes that were swollen shut and constantly oozing are now clear.  Best of all???  Her vision seems to be perfect.  Being a hound, she can sniff with the best of them, came to us already house trained and has been spayed.  Miss Petunia loves baby girl and has become quite a playmate. 

So, we now have 2 dogs (1 in, 1 out), 1 cat awaiting the birth of her first litter, 17 fish, 9 chickens and 1 rooster.  Whew!  Have I ever told y'all we have a zoo!?!  On a serious note, I encourage everyone to check out your local animal shelters.  We have now adopted three purebred dogs for a minimal cost and the dogs have been wonderful.  My father has also had a great experience.  These animal are often spayed and neutered, vet checked and are brought up to date on all shots.  A wonderful way to grow your family!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

About my daddy.....

I know I had promised to write about celebration foods, but I've had too much weekend and suddenly, I find myself in Father's day mode.  This morning, baby girl and I got up and fixed my husbands favorite breakfast and gave him his gifts.  Baby girl, who is a VERY thoughtful Five year old, chose boxing gloves and a 13x13 outdoor canopy for her daddy.  She reasoned that the boxing gloves would help him get in shape (which he desires) and the canopy could allow him to fish at the lake in the rain!  She knows him so well....and he was well pleased :)  This afternoon, we will be going to my parents house to celebrate Father's day with my dad.  Yes, we will be having celebration foods!!  See y'all, I totally worked that in!!!  Lol.

Y'all know I tend to have lengthy posts and this will probably be no different.  Days like today remind me how blessed I am.  My father is the epitome of father.  He is loving, Godly, committed to my mother and his children, hard-working, a wonderful provider and a disciplinarian as needed.  My parents have three daughters, myself being the oldest.  Not to sound facetious, but their children have turned out VERY well.  I don't believe in luck, so it has to be a mixture of our loving upbringing and lots of prayers on my mammas part.  My youngest sister is only 21 but she owns her own home and Five acres, has a wonderful husband and is working very hard at her goal of becoming an RN.  She is compassionate, intelligent and one of my best friends.  The middle sister has already accomplished her goal of becoming a nurse and is back in school working towards being a nurse practitioner.  I am currently a stay at home mom who is in school plugging away at a degree in dental hygiene.  Mom and dad have raised three very successful young ladies whom all love the lord and cherish family.  I give my dad a huge amount of credit in this as he thrived in his role of head of the household. 

"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself."Ephesians 5:20-21; 25-33a

I added the above scripture because I think it is so important.  As a young child, I watched how my mother was treated with constant respect and I felt secure.  I just knew that our family was forever and that I was safe in our little country home.  My father, without even realizing it probably, was building the groundwork in my heart for my future husband.  I began praying for a man like my daddy.  At the age of 17, I found that man.  Sometimes I think I should have a been more specific in my prayer because I had hoped he would come along a bit later in my life.  God does have a sense of humor and reminds us that he know best.  My husband is so much like my daddy it's scary!  This morning I was laying in bed and smiling to myself.....our daughter is independent, bossy at times and outgoing.  You know what that tells me?  She is secure!!  She is learning the value of commitment and Christ-centered love and I am so thankful.  Today, I give thanks for the two earthly daddies I have in my daddy and my husband.  I hope everyone is taking some time out to cherish the wonderful daddies in their lives.  Let's not forget to spend a little extra time in prayer and praise today for our heavenly daddy.  He is the reason for all things good in our lives.

He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.  ~Clarence Budington Kelland

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Funeral Food

So, I have to admit, it feels a bit morbid to be talking about this, but here we go.  In the South, we have rather large families.  Families aren't blood only-they include our church friends, people we work with and good neighbors.  When we lose someone we love, we cook.  It is a given that a meal will be served after each funeral service.  That being said, I have not always been a fan of this.  Understand the whys and hows of the concept, but never felt comfortable with it.  These meals are often served at the church of the deceased person or at the home of an immediate family member.  All those out of the circle of the immediate family are expected to contribute.  Funeral foods are like celebration foods (later post) and comfort foods combined.  Also, they must be foods that "keep well"  (don't spoil easily), as any leftover will be divided and sent home with grieving family members. 

Fried chicken, meat platters, cheese platters, fruit salads, casseroles of any kind, etc., are the types of thing we would see set up buffet style.  The foods are always home cooked.....nothing else would do.  Nothing says lovin' like something fresh outta the oven!  Sweet tea and lemonade are often served for beverages and assorted cookies, cakes and pies for dessert.  Tupperware is seen in abundance and each persons containers are marked for two reasons.  Easy identification and so thank you card lists can be made.  Y'all know we Southerners ALWAYS send thank-you cards!!

Funeral meals always include reminiscing and tears of remembrance, sorrow and love.  Sharing a meal together is such a bonding experience and what better way to honor a loved one?  As I said before, I haven't always been fond of funeral meals.  To me, it seemed like another needless chore for a family who is most likely exhausted AND consumed by grief.  After losing several members of my immediate family in the the last few years, I have changed my opinion. 

Next.....Celebration foods!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Southern cooking and the first of four types....

This week I have been listening to Paula Deens' audio book of "It ain't all about the cookin', y'all".  I cannot say that I recommend the book because of cursing and suggestive language, but for the most part, I have found the book interesting.  The book is honest and to the point and I appreciate where she's been and who she is now.  About two-thirds way through the book, she begins to talk about there being four types of Southern cooking.  I was intrigued and as I listened along, I realized she was oh so right.  Today, I thought I would drop a few lines on my favorite type of Southern goodness.  COMFORT FOOD!!  Can y'all relate? 

You see to me, there is nothing more comforting than a steaming bowl of chicken n dumplins done up right.  No matter how bad my day has been, no matter how stressed, stretched for time or icky I feel, this dish can do a world of good.  Comfort food is usually starchy, cheesy, soft and of course, calorie laden.  Comfort food can also be sweet....can we say banana pudding!?!  I suppose it's a shame that we seek comfort in such a way, but Southerners life revolves are family and food, so I think it's only natural. 

All day today I craved mashed potatoes and as I look back on my day, it was stressful.  As luck would have it, I was out of potatoes and with the nearest store being 20 minutes away, I did without.  In case anyone else is in the same boat, here's a pic that will hopefully suffice.  Lol....

What comfort foods are a staple in your lives?  Tomorrow, I will be talking about type number two......funeral food.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Recipe for the best lemonade ever......

This recipe is my version of Ina Garten's (Barefoot Contessa), who I love.  Could write several posts on that lady, but I'll spare y'all.  Anywho...she has a good recipe for fresh lemonade, but I found it to be too strong/tart for our tastes.  You see we are Southern and like everything syrupy sweet and her recipe just wasn't quite there.  Here's what we like best...

2/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cups water
1 cup crushed ice
1-1/2 cups simple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla

First take 1 1/2 cups of water and add 1 1/2 cups of sugar and put in medium saucepan.  Heat until sugar is completely melted and let cool.  Throw all ingredients in blender and whirl til the ice is crushed.  The end result is frothy and delicious!!!!!  You of course, will want to adjust this according to taste.  This is the amount of sugar I use when lemons are a bit green and extra bitter.

The concoction was a hit at our stand today---many commented on it being the best they had ever tasted.  SCORE!  Hope you all try it and enjoy it as much as we do!!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The sour and the sweet.

Let's talk's a true southern drink.  Summer must include lots of sweet tea, lemonade and watermelon--in no particular order.  I prefer lemonade to tea and the mixture of tart and sweet always seems to quench my thirst like nothing else can.  I'm quite sure my granny introduced me to the wonderful concoction years ago.  All family gatherings are at her house and lemonade is always available.  It's a treat...even my diabetic mother allows herself to indulge.  A simple luxury.  Why do I have lemonade on the brain?  My sweet baby girl....

Since the age of three (she is now five), she has aspired to be a
lemonade seller" when growing up.  I've always chuckled to myself and went on.  Last weekend, our little family was discussing an upcoming yard sale and baby girl ask if she could have a lemonade stand.  I loved the idea and helped her make plans.  A couple days ago, baby girl ask if she could take donations only and give all her money to Relay for Life.  Such a big, compassionate idea for a little girl...she makes my heart melt.  You see, our family has had more than its fair share of loss to cancer and she has been affected.  No matter how hard we try to protect our children, we must not fool ourselves.  They are very intuitive.  Baby girl ask me to help her make a sign.

Really Y'all, I am proud as a peacock.  Tomorrow we will lovingly hand out lemonade in honor of all our loved ones and continue to push for a cure.  For you see, My daughters Paternal great-grandfather, granddad, grandma, Uncle, Maternal Granny and others deserve that.  Since 1999, our family has lost 11 members. 

Tomorrow, I will share my favorite recipe for lemonade and give a report on how baby girl did.  Y'all check back now, the recipe is tried and true and sooo good.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My favorite fruit (or vedgetable).....

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."
Lewis Grizzard

As I mentioned in the previous entry, I love to garden.  That is no secret, all who know me know that I am continually on the quest for the perfect tomato.  Heirloom varieties make my heart sing.  The colors are exquisite--green, white, yellow pear, various stripes.  I love them all.  Heirloom varieties are a bit more trouble to grow as they are not genetically altered to resist diseases and pests like todays hybrids.  Still, I can't live without them.  The taste is FAAARRR superior to todays plants.  That being said, my favorite varieties are Brandywine, yellow pear and pineapple.  This year I have 20 plants...yes, 20.  Sound a bit extreme for 3 people?  You betcha....I love to give them away and still have enough to can for juice, salsa and spaghetti sauce.

Now, since I love y'all, I'm gonna let you in on my little secret.  This is one of the those secrets my papaw taught me and it's super easy and cheap.  Epsom Salt.  Tomatoes love the stuff and so do I.  Locally, I can pick ES up for 3 dollars a quart and it will last forever.  Simply, take 1TSP of salt and sprinkle around the base of your plants and then water as you normally would.  While my neighbors are suffering from blight, blossom end rot and other horrible things, my vines are thriving. 

What the heck makes Epsom salt so wonderful?  The combination of sulfur and magnesium.  Try it, y'all.  I think you will be surprised at the results.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My garden, my love.....

I suppose an unspoken requirement of living in the south is gardening.  The need, desire and ability to garden should be flowing through our veins...Lol.  For myself, it is indeed in my blood.  My love of gardening started as more of a love/hate relationship.  While both my parents worked out of the home, I being the oldest child, tended the family garden.  It was anywhere from a 1/2 acre to a full acre-bigger than most families yards!  From the age of nine, I tilled, hoed, chopped, pulled weeds, fertilized and picked produce.  At the time, I hated my time in the garden.  It was hard work!  Not to mention hot and dirty.  To make matters worse, my summer breaks and free time were often spent at my maternal grandparents whom has a decent sized garden as well.  My grandparents were already in their mid-seventies at that time, so I was expected to help them as well.  At times it seemed like torture.  Little did I know the knowledge and love for gardening that was being passed to me.  My papaw knew all the tricks.  He had the most amazing tomato plants--they were every bit of ten ft. tall!!!  His blackberry vines were loaded with berries and his okra plants towered over my head.

At the age of 17, I was blessed to meet my husband and GOD had a plan.  We were married a year later and were blessed to buy a home in the country with a little piece of land.  We moved in early in the Spring and I had an overwhelming desire to plant my own garden.  We had no equipment and no garden spot.  A sweet neighbor broke our ground and I made a trip to Wal-Mart for fertilize and seeds and the planting began.  As I dropped those seeds in the ground, I thought of my sweet papaw who had passed away years before.  I'm sure he was smiling down on me as I tried to remember all the things he had told me.  My mother-in law was also on my mind....she had passed away the previous year from breast cancer.  She courageously fought cancer for Five years and I helped her tend her garden when she was too weak due to treatments.  She had patiently taught me how to freeze and can her bounty and we spend many hours bent over her stove laughing and learning. 

My first garden was small and was a learning experience, but it was a labor of love.  Each year my garden grows a bit as does my love for the hobby.  Now, I have a sweet daughter who is inheriting my love as well.  I smile as I see her sweet footprints in the dirt I have enriched, I cringe as she vigorously chops weeds and takes out a good plant in the process and I laugh as I realize how full circle life really is.

Above are a few pics of my garden so far....can't wait to see it continue to grow:)  I will leave y'all with a quote that really sums gardening up for me.  There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.  ~Mirabel Osler

Be blessed, y'all!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Trying to catch my breath...

This past week has been incredibly busy and my blogging has been on my mind, but waaay back on the list of priorities.  My wonderful brother in-law just celebrated his 23rd birthday and my dear husband is celebrating his 34th tonight.  Our Five year old will be starting KG this year and I have been busy getting her ready for that.  Last week, we had her assessed (she passed all areas with flying colors) and this week we will be working on her physical.  We are required to show proof of eye, dental, hearing and physical exams.  Shew!  This weekend, I am having a yard sale and I don't even have to mention how much work it is to go through everything and price it all.....

So you see, I've had little time for me and I wish I could say I see a light at the end of the tunnel, but I don't. Lol.  More and more I find the need for organization in our lives and I am hoping to instill a bit of that into our five year old.  Mean ole mom came up with a chart this week for baby girl and it's dynamite.  Really, It's shocking how well she has taken to it.  Having just recently become a stay at home mom, I am on new territory here as well as my daughter and husband.  Our routines are changing and I needed to re-think a few things.  I am finding my daughter craves structure during the day and I do to.  So, I made her a handy dandy chore chart and here's what it looks like (neon pink cause my daughter is that kind of girl :)

Every day she is to....take vitamins, brush teeth (in that order!!  Must brush away those sugary vitamin remnants!), get dressed, do workbook, tidy up room, put all dirty laundry in hamper, collect eggs, help in garden as mommy needs, say prayers and practice piano.  On weekends, baby girl gets a break from piano and workbook work.  Also, realizing that she is only Five, she practices between 5 and 10 minutes on piano and does 2-3 kindergarten worksheet per day.  Baby girl loves to mark her chores off the list and is excited about her weekly and monthly rewards.  This week she has chosen a trip to the local drive-in as a reward!  The whole family benefits!  I would like to encourage all parents to make sure their children have responsibilities and are provided a good learning environment full of praise.  It is so much simpler and quicker for me to do everything for her, but what am I teaching her if I do!?!  Our children deserve our time, love and teachings! 

P.S.  I know this blog was originally intended to be a food blog and I must admit, it seems anything but that.   We'll just have to see!