Very Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

Very old fashioned banana pudding.
It seems we always have a banana or two or three looking for someplace to go.  My Mother-in-law, Jean Powell often served this and we all loved it.  I have never seen it anywhere and I have made it for almost 50 years,  Children love it as do adults.

2/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 1/2 T. cornstarch
1 T. flour
3 C. milk
3 egg yolks beaten
1 T. butter
1 1/2 t. vanilla
3-4 bananas sliced
1 C. salted peanuts chopped

Mix the sugar, salt, cornstarch, and flour in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Slowly pour in the milk and beaten egg yolks stirring well.  Cook over medium heat stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.  Boil for 1 full minute while stirring.  Remove from the heat.  Blend in the butter and vanilla.  Add the sliced bananas and pour into a serving dish.  Cover with plastic wrap so a skin does not form as it cools.

You may serve at room temperature or chilled.  Sprinkle with the chopped nuts just before serving.
Yield 6 generous servings.

Carmel Corn

Carmel corn with salted peanuts.
Another of the recipes I roll out in the fall is that of Carmel corn.  This is a different recipe than my norm but it looked easy and good so I gave it a whirl and adapted it to what I had on hand.  The result was a "Cracker Jack" like corn complete with peanuts.  Newburgh Elementry School put out a cook book in 2004-05 called N. E. S.Cooking Rocks, and my Grandaughters were involved.  This is listed under Snacks and was given by Lu Ellsperman.


6 quarts of popped popcorn
2 C. brown sugar
2 sticks butter
1/2 C. Karo syrup
2 C. peanuts
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda

Pop the corn and sprinkle with the salted peanuts.  Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.  Spray an cookie sheet or large roasting pan with cooking spray.

Boil the brown sugar, butter, and syrup for exactly 15 minutes.  Remove from the stove and add vanilla, salt, and baking soda. 

Pour the mixture over the popcorn and nuts in a large container and stir.  Bake on a cookie sheet or large roasting pan  in a preheated 250 degree  oven for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.

Cool on waxed paper and store in an airtight container. 


Marilyn's Whole Wheat and Rye Sourdough Bread

The recipe yielded 1 large loaf and 2 boules.
I started a sourdough in February of this year from the directions given on the website.  They have a whole section on different ways to start your own and I have been happy with the results I achieved.  Over the summer I do not bake nearly as much bread.  Thus I neglected my starter as it sat idle in my garage refrigerator for months.  I did not feed it.  Pure neglect.

The salvaged sourdough starter bubbling happily away!!
Low and behold as Fall comes upon us I get a yearning to make certain things with the change of season.  Sourdough bread is one of them.  King Arthur also gives directions to salvage neglected starter and I followed them, again with excellent results.

Meanwhile I have made an interesting discovery.  There is a website called homesteading today and one of the contributors was sharing information on a free sourdough starter called,  1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Preservation.  If you send them a self addressed stamped envelope they send you a start of their preservation of this starter.  I have done so and look forward to trying it.  You can just google it and there are recipes and all sorts of interesting things.

I did go ahead and find a recipe I wanted to try today on the King Arthur site called Marilyn's Whole Wheat and Rye Sourdough Bread.  I made one loaf and two boules as I plan to serve soup in them one night this week for our supper.  Actually Brian asked me the other day if I would make soup again served in bread boules.

Here is the recipe:

1T. instant yeast
1 3/4 C. lukewarm milk
2 C. sourdough starter
1/4 C. packed dark brown sugar
2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cardamon
1 T. caraway seeds
1 t. whole anise seeds
1 C. white rye flour
1 C. King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat Flour
3 1/2 to 4 C. King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour

Combine the yeast, milk, sourdough starter,sugar, salt, cardamon, and seeds.  Stir in the rye flour and beat until the batter is smooth.  Add the whole wheat flour, then the unbleached all-purpose flour, a cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.  When the dough has formed a shaggy mass, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter.

A shaggy mass of dough.
Knead the dough and add just as much flour as you need to keep the dough from sticking on the counter.  The dough should be a little tacky, but not sticky.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Gently deflate the dough and place it on a lightly floured counter.  Shape as desired.

Cover the loaves and let them rise for about 45-60 minutes.  Bake in a preheated 40 degree oven for about 25 minutes.  Or, until the bread is nicely browned and sounds hollow in the middle.  Remove from the oven and cool on the rack.  Yield 2 large or 4 mini loaves.


Chocolate White Chocolate Cookies

Saucer sized chocolate cookies with white chocolate chunks.
This is a great fall cookie.  It hints of the richness of the coming season and is a bit on the fuller richer side of the cookie spectrum.  We enjoy it and I hope you will to.  They make a large flat cookie that is ideal for the assembly of ice cream sandwiches.  Filling two the the saucer sized cookies with coffee flavored ice cream makes a really special adult ice cream treat!!  I first saw the recipe on an episode of the Barefoot Contessa and adapted it as follows:

2 sticks of soft butter
1 C. brown sugar
1 C. sugar
1/2 t. espresso or instant coffee crystals
2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 C. cocoa
2 C. flour
1 t. soda
1 t. salt
24 Ounces white chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter, sugars, and instant espresso powder until light and fluffy with an electric mixer.  Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time.  Add the cocoa and continue mixing.  Sift together the flour, soda, and salt and add to the chocolate at low speed with the mixer until just combined.  Fold in the white chocolate.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper by rounded tablespoonfuls.  Dampen your hand and flatten the cookie dough slightly.  Note: I baked only 8 cookies at a time on half sheet pans staggering the rows and they barely fit.   Bake for exactly 15 minutes (The cookies may seem underdone).  Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes on the pan.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.   Yield 32-40 cookies.


Mother's Cook Book

Maybe the change of seasons brings on thoughtfulness, or bitter-sweet memories, or melancholy.  I am not quite sure just what it is, or perhaps it is the watching of those you love and have known for your lifetime slip into old age. (And of course we are right there, just behind them!)

Brian and I spoke last night of missing both of our Fathers who passed only months apart and of all of our Aunts and Uncles now gone.  At any rate tomorrow is promised to no one and I want today to write of my Mother and her first cook book.

Mother is 83 and in good health and she is leaving today on a trip with my sister and her family.  On my visit last month we were talking about the black walnut cake that Dad liked so well.  Linda, my middle sister had asked if I knew which recipe Mother used to make it.

So I asked Mom if she had used a recipe from her first and for many years only cook book.

She does not remember her cook book.

I recall it was kept on an upper shelf in the tall (floor to ceiling ) cabinet in the far corner of the kitchen.  She also kept her tall pink piggy bank there.  It served as our pantry and an assortment of store bought canned goods was also stored there.  The items we grew and canned were down the back stairs in the basement.  We kept a  10 gallon pail of lard,  potatoes, onions and rows of green beans, tomatoes, sauerkraut, pickles, jelly, and canned fruit as well as home canned beef.  Sometimes in the fall Dad would pull a healthy green  tomato plant with lots of green fruit hanging and he would hang the whole vine upside down over a cloths line down there and the green tomatoes would ripen and extend our season of fresh tomatoes.

Mother's Cook Book was the 1947 version of The Settlement Cook Book, by Mrs. Simon Kander.

It was a wedding gift and one of the first things she did was to write her new name across the page lest anyone wonder whose it might be.

I think ladies of that age were so very proud to take their husbands name and she was I am certain quite thrilled to post it in her book.

Actually Mother and Dad were quite the love story.  He on an aircraft carrier in WWII and she writing love letters and sending photos to him.

So it is not at all a surprise she tried to cook special things for him.  As a rule he disliked cake with the exception of black walnut cake.  She did not have a recipe from either of my Grandmother's for it so she used a white cake recipe from her new cook book.

She made us cookies too.  Peanut butter-criss cross and brownies.  She made notes in the margins as to her adaptations.  She substituted 3 1/2 T. of cocoa and 1/2 T. of butter for 1 ounce or 1 square of chocolate for the brownies.   We did not have chocolate.

I cannot express my gratitude enough for her having given me this book.  The memories are priceless.  Thank you Mother. the way, I plan to make the black walnut cake for Christmas this year in honor of them both.


Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Soup

A variety of both onions and mushrooms make for a flavorful soup.
This recipe is adapted from one found in a local cookbook put out by the Evansville Junior League titled, Once Upon a Time.

Bermuda Onions and Sweet Yellow Onions Make for a Wonderful Combination.
It is a great soup of tempting ingredients and can be further enhanced by adding thin slices of cooked steak or roast beef for a really hearty main course dish.  Either way pair it with a side salad and hot crusty bread and you will have a very enjoyable meal.


1 T. butter
1 1/2 pounds onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 T. butter
1 1/2 pounds of assorted Asian mushrooms, stemmed, halved, and cut into spoon sized portions
3 T. brandy
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
2 quarts of beef stock
1 C. dry white wine
4-5  beef bouillon cubes, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Melt 1 T. butter in the bottom of a heavy bottomed soup kettle over medium high heat.  Add the onions and stir fry for 8 minutes until they are soft.  Reduce the heat to low.  Cook for 20 minutes until they are caramelized.  Stir occasionally.  Remove the onions to a medium bowl and set aside.

Melt 2 T. butter in the same pan and add the mushrooms over medium high heat.  Saute about 12 minutes until they are tender.  Add the brandy and garlic.  Stir for a few seconds.  Add in the onion mixture, beef stock, and wine.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low.  Simmer about 45 minutes until everything is very tender.  Remove and discard the thyme sprigs.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and add beef bouillon cubes to fortify if needed.

Serve pipping hot in large bowls with crackers or crusty bread for those who are not dieting.  Plain  and unadorned for those who are.  Yields 6 servings.


Cream of Tomato Soup Short and Sweet!!

Although the end of the garden and fresh tomatoes is just around the corner for this season, there is still time for another bowl of fresh made tomato soup.  Brian's Uncle Gene found this recipe and had Aunt Betty try it out.  It is good, fast, and easy!!  All really good reasons to share it and pass it along!!  Uncle Gene celebrated his 85th birthday this past Saturday the 22nd of October and we all send him our best wishes and thanks.  This is our adaptation of his original version. 


5 T. butter
1/2 C. chopped onion
4 C. milk
4 T. flour
1 1/2 t. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda (prevents milk from curdling)
3 C. chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)

Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring until the onion is soft but not browned. Sprinkle flour over the butter mixture and stir cook 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, sugar, and salt. Continue to stir and cook until thickened. 

Stir the baking soda into the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes to the milk, and heat to a simmer. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. (If desired you may put through a strainer or food mill.) Reheat before serving.

Enjoy this easy to prepare recipe pipping hot with crisp saltines or butter crackers.

Woe is me...Gained 2 pounds!!!!!

Well fooey,  I have thought better of this post and am over it.  No use or sense in getting all cranked up about this and acting a fool.  Which I admit to just having done.  Better to settle back and stay steady.
Sorry about this unseemly outburst.........10/26/11

This is exactly why I had vowed not to weigh until the week before Christmas.  DRAMA!! Pain, disappointment, embarrassment all because I stepped on the scales.  NO, all because I gained 2 pounds.  I, Me, I caused it.

I did not eat eggs on Sunday.  Not a one, and that is the big rule I broke, then I did not drink any grapefruit juice after I did eat.  Then there was the cheese in last nights dinner dish.  There you go.  Confession of all my transgressions.

So this morning it was 3 organic eggs and turkey bacon plus 2 cups of black coffee.  Back on track we go.

Lunch will be veggies and some kind of beans and supper a chef salad with peas, hard boiled eggs, and diced cold meat of some kind.



Mexican -Style Eggplant Lasagna

I am always looking for recipes that I can make as close to slow carb friendly as I can.  This one is helped by substituting grilled eggplant slices for lasagna noodles as the original recipe used.  My inspiration came from a copy of "Maturity Journal" a local newsprint magazine for old fogies my husband picks up and brings home. ( Can't imagine why???)

This was a really BIG HIT and I will make it for the whole family at a gathering or for a special occasion.  I feel certain they will all like it as much as we did.

Well anyway I picked up the latest issue and a gal named Jancey Smith writes The Cooking corner and she had made Mexican Lasagna and many of the ingredients are the staples of my new diet;  meat, beans, and vegetables, cottage cheese and spices.  The challenges are the pasta,  the cheese, and the sour cream.  Low fat cottage cheese will work and I am grilling slices of eggplant to replace the noodles.  I am going to compromise and use only half of the cheese and sour cream called for and go with it.  After all it is not a perfect world and I am still close to compliance.  A side of salad it is dinner!!


1 1/2 pound ground chuck
1 medium onion diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 can 16 oz. re fried beans
1 can 15.5 oz. hot chili beans
1 can 14.5 oz. Mexican diced tomatoes
1 jar hot salsa
1 can 4 oz. diced green chilies
1 envelope of taco seasoning ( or I use 2 T. of my own mix)
1 t. cumin
1 1/4 C. pepper jack cheese grated
1 1/4 C. Colby jack cheese grated (omit or reduce quantity to half as desired)
3/4 C. cottage cheese
1 1/4 C. sour cream (reduce to half of the amount if desired)
1 T. cilantro
2 medium eggplants sliced 1//4 " thick, salted and drained for 30 minutes (or 9 lasagna noodles)
vegetable oil

Heat grill pan or cast iron skillet to hot.  Drizzle vegetable oil over eggplant slices and grill them until browned and softened.  Set them aside.

Butter 9 X 13" lasagna pan well and set aside.  preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a large heavy bottomed pan brown the ground beef with the salt, pepper, onion, and garlic.  Drain if there is excess liquid on the meat.

Stir in the beans, tomatoes, salsa, chilies, and spices, (except for cilantro).  Set aside.

In a medium bowl mix the shredded cheeses together and set about 1 cup aside in the refrigerator for the topping.  Add the cottage cheese to the remaining cheese in the bowl.  Mix in 3/4 C. sour cream and the cilantro.

Spread 1 cup of the sauce mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan.  Top with a layer of eggplant, then spread on 1/3 of the cheese mixture.  Add another layer of meat sauce and repeat layers ending with meat sauce.  Cover with foil and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Uncover and spread or dollop sour cream on top and sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese has melted.  Remove from the oven and let stand 20 minutes before serving.   Yield 12 servings.

This recipe is ideal for leftover lunches or serving a second time around as it reheats and freezes well.


INTENSE Orange Tea Bread

This is my very favorite of all quick breads.  If you like an intense orange flavor, relish things like orange marmalade and chocolate covered orange peel this is for you!!

It is a little more time consuming to make but the intense orange flavor is worth it.  I have often thought of adding chocolate chips to the batter to take it over the top but I love it too much as it is to have tried it yet.

I remember having it someplace many, many years ago and then hunting for a recipe to duplicate it for a long time.  I do not remember how or where I found a recipe but I have this old hand copied one I use and I now share it with you. 

Note:  The baking directions say one large loaf.  I always make it into 2  loaves and it will bake much better for you.

Remove the peel from 3 firm plump oranges with a potato peeler.  Cover peel with water in a heavy bottomed pan and bring to a boil.  Pour the water off, return the peel to the pan and cover again with
water.  Bring to a boil, pour the water off and repeat the process a third time.

Chop or grind the drained peel.  (I use the food processor.)

Return the chopped peel to the pan with 1 C. sugar and 1 C. water.  Boil slowly at a simmer until the mixture reduces to 1 cup total being careful not to burn.

Prepare two medium sized loaf pans with butter and flour.  Preheat the oven to 300 Degrees F.

Mix in  a bowl as for a cake the following:

1 C. sugar
2 T. shortening or soft butter
2 beaten eggs

Combine in a medium bowl:
3 1/2 C. all purpose flour
3 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt

Add the dry ingredients alternately with:

1 C. milk

Mixing after each addition.  Add the orange marmalade to the batter, let sit for 20 minutes.

Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 1 1/2 hours until it tests done.  Cool  slice and enjoy.

Pickled Peppers

Jalapeno and Chili Peppers.
Brian is nuts about peppers!!  I will admit I like to use them dried in cooking.  I will use them carefully fresh but only after seeding them with care.  When I was young I got them in my eyes once which was no fun at all.  I usually put an old plastic bag (something like a bread sack or produce sack)  over my hands to seed and dice them and pitch the sack.  I have dried enough this year for the whole town but Saturday Brian asked me to put some in brine.

Here is how I did it:

3 C. water
1 C. vinegar
4 T. salt
4 T. sugar

Combine in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile rinse the fresh peppers well and drain them.  Slice into a sterile jar for sliced peppers.  Pack whole peppers tightly into a sterile jar for whole pickled peppers.  SAY THAT FAST!!  Ha Ha.

Pour boiling vinegar into jars leaving 1/4" head space.  Seal with sterile bands and seals.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to seal.  If you choose not to process refrigerate to keep a few weeks.


Crock Pot Apple Butter

Sweet and Pungent Apple Butter for the Winter.
You have to hand it to Martha Stewart!  She has some great guests with some great ideas, many that make me think,"Why didn't I think of that?"  Such was the case this week when Amy Traverso was Martha's guest and she recommended making apple butter in the crock pot and leaving it over night on low to simmer.   Fact is she has written a cookbook "The Apple Lovers Cookbook."   She gives her recipe there as well as on Martha Stewart's website.

I have made apple butter for many years and had 5 pounds of apples on hand so you know I couldn't resist the crock pot method.

Here is how I adapted her recipe:

5 pounds (about 10 large) mixed apples, peeled, cored, and cut into medium sized pieces
1 3/4 C. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ginger
2 C. apple cider
1/4 C. fresh lemon juice

Starting the process.
Turn the slow cooker on high and add all of the ingredients.  Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours.  The mixture should be bubbling vigorously.  Reduce the heat to low and cook another hour.

With the lid set slightly ajar continue to cook for 7-9 hours until dark and thick.  Stir well.  If there are lumps remaining and you would prefer a smoother texture you may use a stick blender, food mill, or processor to achieve the desired consistency.

Place 6 clean 1 pint or 12 half pint jars through the dishwasher and fill from there.  Seal with bands and lids you also put through the dishwasher.  If you have a sterile cycle or heated dry be sure to activate it.

Leave 1/4" head space in each jar and be sure to wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth should you drip any apple butter.

Heat enough water in a cold packer or a large kettle to cover the jars by 1".  There should be 1" between the jars.  Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes.  Remove the jars with tongs and leave them undisturbed to cool on clean towels for 12 to 24 hours.

Once the jars have cooled completely test to be sure they have sealed.  Press down on the middle of the lid with a finger.  If it springs back the jar is NOT properly sealed and should be processed again or refrigerated and eaten promptly.

Bok Choy and Chicken Chow Mein AND I've Lost 30 Pounds Whoopee!

Bok Choy and Chicken Chow Mein
Whoopee as of today I have lost 30 pounds!!!  I am certainly glad I love vegetables.  Yesterday I decided to make Chow Mien but could not find fresh bean sprouts at the grocery so I just used Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage) instead.

I was so thrilled when I weighed I told my best friend Diane that I could probably stay on this forever because the strain is lifted weekly on the binge day.  There is strain and for me it starts about Thursday evening.  It is late evening and I want SOMETHING.  I don't particularly know what but something.  The knowledge I can have whatever on Sunday helps so much.  Interestingly enough I don't go all that crazy on Sunday but it is a relief to the system!!

So here was how I made the Chow Mien:

6 chicken thighs, boned, skinned, and diced
4 stalks of celery dices
1 large onion large dice
1 carrot shredded
1 medium head of Bok Choy, washed and sliced in 3/4" pieces
1 can of sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 can of bambo shoots, drained
1 can mushrooms, drained
1 1/2 C. chicken stock
1/4 C. soy sauce
1/4 C. cornstarch
black pepper to taste
2 T. peanut, coconut, or macadamia nut oil for stir fry

Prepared rice or Chow Mien noodles if desired.

Heat wok and add oil.  Stir fry chicken and season with pepper.  When the chicken has browned push it to the side and add the celery and onions and fry for 2-3 additional minutes.  Add the rest of the vegetables and continue to stir fry until tender crisp.

Using a small bowl combine the chicken broth, soy sauce and stir.  Mix the cornstarch in the liquid stirring until completely dissolved.  Add to the vegetables in the wok all at once stirring until it has thickened.  Taste and correct seasonings if needed.  Serve hot alone or over rice or noodles and pass additional soy sauce at the table.  Yields 4 generous servings.



Spicy Vegetable Beef Soup

Spicy Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup.
It is 40 some degrees, raining, cold, gloomy and I am tired from my trip to Indianapolis. Nothing sounds better to me than a steaming pot of vegetable beef soup. There are still fresh tomatoes on our vines and a bumper crop of hot peppers. So I am putting on a jacket and heading out to the garden. On the way I will go by the deep freeze and pull out meat to thaw in the microwave. I will be set. Our son Mike and his oldest girl Emily Love vegetable soup. His wife Julie likes it too but I am unsure about Kate. At any rate I will give them half of what I make and they will be pleased. They all work and go to school so it makes evening nice for them to have a kettle of shared soup.

Our whole family loves homemade vegetable beef soup chocked full of tender chunks of beef and spices for full flavor. To make this soup I used 2 hot red peppers from our garden, 5 plump cloves of fresh garlic, 2 large onions and lots of fresh and frozen vegetables.

I have lost 25 pounds now on "THE DIET" so to stay true to it I substituted diced turnips for potato and added a can of kidney beans.

The soup was terrific because my husband Brian requested it again tomorrow for supper!! That is a good pot of soup when they take seconds and want to have it again the next night for supper!!

NOTE: This soup is an all day project so start early or a day ahead and finish the second day.

2 1/2 pounds chuck roast
1 onion quartered
2 stalks celery broken
2 carrots broken
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
garlic powder

12 fresh tomatoes peeled and seeded
1 large can tomatoes
1 quart beef stock
1 quart green beans
1 - 1 1/2 C. diced turnips
2 C. diced carrots
4 C. shredded cabbage
2 C. diced onion
1 C. diced celery
5 cloves of garlic chopped
1 jalapeno pepper stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 chili pepper stemmed and seeded
1 C. sweet corn
1 C. peas
1 can kidney beans drained
1 C. okra sliced
1 chunk of Parmesan cheese 2" x 2" x 1"
2-3 C. water
broth from roast
2 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1 t. sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and butter a heavy butch oven or casserole. Sprinkle the beef with salt, pepper, and garlic powder on both sides and place in the bottom of the pan. Rinse the celery, carrots, and onion well and break the celery and carrots into pieces. Quarter the onions. Place these root vegetables into the pan around the beef and add the bay leaf. It is not necessary to peel the onion as the skins add to the flavor and color but will be discarded.

Roast for 2-2 1/2 hours until tender. Cover the last half of the time. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile prepare the tomatoes by dropping them into boiling water for a couple of minutes then in ice water to slip off the skins. Core them and I like to run my thumb down each segment and slide out some of the seeds to discard.

Place the fresh tomatoes and the can of tomatoes with the beef broth in a large soup pot. Add the rest of the vegetables, Parmesan cheese, and enough water to come at least half way up the vegetables. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cover. The cheese will dissolve and flavor the soup.

Remove the beef from the cooled pan and shred or cut into bite sized pieces. Remove all of the fat or membrane and discard. Strain the vegetables and bay leaf from the meat juices and discard them. Add the beef and the broth to the soup and stir.

Add the salt, pepper, and sugar stirring well to blend and adjusting the seasoning to you taste.

Simmer until all of the vegetables are tender and serve pipping hot in large bowls with crusty bread or crackers as desired. Yield 2 gallons of soup.


Glazed Orange Coconut Bread with Macadamia Nuts

These tea breads smell as good as they look!!
I wanted to make some tea breads with coconut and bake several small loaves. I developed this one and am quite happy with the results. The Fiori Di Sicilia is a King Arthur product and can be ordered on line or you will have success using vanilla instead.  My Mother and sisters love coconut and I am thinking I will send them some just to say, " I am thinking of you."


2 sticks of butter at room temperature
2 C. sugar
3 T. orange juice
4 large eggs
3 C. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 C. cream or evaporated milk
1/8 t. Fiori Di Sicilia or 1/2 t. vanilla extract
Grated rind of 2 oranges
1 C. flaked coconut
1/2 C. chopped macadamia Nuts


1/2 C. orange juice
1-2 C. sifted powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 6 mini or 2, 4' x 8' loaf pans and set aside.
Using a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and orange juice until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time beating after each addition. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine the milk and flavoring. Add the dry ingredients and flavored milk alternately to the butter mixture in three additions. Take care NOT TO OVER BEAT. Fold in the orange peel, coconut, and chopped nuts. Pour into prepared pans. For 2 large loaves bake about 1 hour 15 minutes. For small loaves bake about 40-50 minutes. Pick inserted into the loaf should come out clean. 

Remove from the oven and cool. 

Combine the orange juice and sugar stirring until you reach the desired consistency

Remove from the pans when cooled completely and brush with glaze.

Arrange on a pretty plate or wrap well and store in an airtight container.

Tis the Season for "Ghostly Cookies"

The Spooks are Loose at My House!!
Not often do I take a store bought cookie home with me. There are maybe three I might purchase and the peanut butter filled sandwich cookie that looks like a big peanut is one!! Vanilla Wafers and Oreos are two more!!

Well anyway, I had some Valhrona white chocolate in the bottom drawer of my refrigerator and I thought it might look good on these store bought cookies with two chocolate chip eyes peeking out at me. Sure enough!! Little ghosts!! 

I am making up a tray for Katie and Emily and a tray for Jack and Sam. What fun.

There are 2 of those little 2-3 cup crock pots in the bottom of my cabinet. Just right to melt and hold chocolate. I pulled one out and plugged it in and started finely chopping the chocolate on a board with a large chefs knife. To thin it I added soft butter, a tablespoon at a time and stirring well until just the right consistency was found.

After dunking an end into the white chocolate I placed it on a prepared sheet of waxed paper, added two chocolate chip eyes and before you knew it there was a table full of ghosts!!

This was a quick and easy, really cute, and very tasty way to spend my morning and I am sure all of my kiddo's will love them.  I do too!

Be Ye Babe's Beauty Boutique

It is time for a "new do". I have gotten tired of the up do and the down do and all of the do's in between so I called Tonya Atherton. i met her some years ago through a friend and she has cut and colored my hair several times while others have also periodically. Others who are closer or who I have known even longer but this time I REALLY wanted a change so it was Tonya to the rescue!!

And rescue she did. I love my cut and the color. More than I have for years. It is a more current look. That is exactly what I wanted. Not the same thing I have worn for the past 20 years. 

Tonya Darnae Atherton
It was a job to find her. She has moved and opened her own "Boutique" of services.

She is off of 57 North just off of US 41 N. It took me about 50 minutes to find her but it was well worth it.

Smiles and Positive Energy Abounds
She has everything arranged for the comfort of her clients. Clean and neat as a pin!! She always has a smile on her face as did all of the clients I met in my coming and going. These are positive energies at work.

If you are in need of a "new do" as I was, I would certainly suggest you give her a call. See if you connect and get yourself some of her sunny disposition and a really good haircut!!

Tonya Atherton
Be Ye Babe's Beauty Boutique
1124 Indy Ct.
Evansville, In 47725
Tonya's phone is 270-860--5573


Minus 23.5 Pounds in Five Weeks on The Four Hour Diet

A Gift from my Best Friend.
Well I fudged. I said I wasn't going to weigh until the week before Christmas. That was truly my intent and I still feel the same way about all of the drama and negativity that can go with weighing all of the time.

But, to tell you the truth it had become so very hard to get up each morning and choke down eggs!!!

And, I like eggs. I hate monotony. Variety is the spice of my cooking and of my diet.  I love variety. So anyway by Thursday every week I have been becoming increasingly more and more miserable. Dreading the next mornings eggs. 

Then on Thursday I would start craving a piece of bread, a sandwich, toast. Simple little things. Beverages don't bother me. I can drink unsweetened tea, coffee, and ice water the rest of my life. Piece of cake. (Pun Intended.)

I am good with vegetables. I like them all. We are good on meat too. It is the lack of being able to combine them into delectable concoctions of melty cheese and pasta or potatoes and cream or butter.
Oh Mama Mia!! (And there is not a drop of Italian blood in my body.)

Well anyway I was to the point of thinking I might need to change strategy. But them I thought. I felt like I was loosing weight. My wedding ring has become quite loose......or is it the cooler weather?? 

Am I fooling myself? And Brian did say the other night he could tell my rear end was smaller. Or was he just blowing?? Trying to be nice and his way of offering encouragement??

So today I decided I would weigh and if I have made good progress I will continue undaunted. Had there been little or no progress I would change tactics.

The telling of the tale is I am quite happy with 23.5 pounds at the end of 5 weeks!! I will be eating my eggs each morning and looking to come up with more good recipes that are compatible with the Slow Carb life on the 4 hour Diet. 

Red Day Lily from our Garden.


Yeast Bread Baked in a Dutch Oven

A few weeks ago I had a lot of traffic on this blog from A website that has all sorts of really interesting information about all sorts of things!! I put it on my bookmark list and take a peek about once a week.

At any rate I found this most interesting bread recipe from a contributor, "CJ" , complete with beautiful pictures of his finished product and I could not resist giving it a try.

I was a goner when he listed King Arthur flour as his favorite flour as I also prefer it for many things.

Then when I saw the picture, big fat uneven air holes and crusty as all get out!! Looked like a European Artisan bread that is so hard to recreate in a home oven. Plus a very long very slow rise. All of the elements are here for great bread. Had to try it!!


3 C. King Arthur all purpose flour
1 1/2 C. tepid water
1 T. Kosher Salt
1/4 t. instant yeast 

So,  on Wednesday morning I decided to whisk all of the dry ingredients together, pour in the water and stir just until everything is incorporated. Cover in a buttered or oiled crock and let it sit at room temperature for about 2 hours. Then, refrigerate until ready to use (up to a week) or just leave on the counter for up to 18 hours.  (I opted to leave in a covered oiled crock for 2 hours then place in the downstairs refrigerator until Sunday.  The kids are coming for a fried chicken Sunday diner and the bread should go great with that menu.)

Sunday morning after fetching the refrigerated dough I  placed it on a floured work surface and kneaded it a few turns until it was quite smooth and elastic.  It was then placed on a large 24" x 24" piece of parchment paper on a clean work surface.  I cut 4" squares out of the corners and centered the shaped dough onto the paper.

I  placed the parchment and the dough into a medium sized bowl, covered with plastic wrap then a clean tea towel, and set to raise for 3 hours.

Preheat a covered Dutch oven (clay or cast iron, metal WILL NOT work) at 500 degrees F.

Pick up the edges of the parchment and place dough into the hot Dutch oven and reduce the heat to 475 degrees, then bake covered for 35 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 10-15 minutes.

The loaf was just beautiful and everything I anticipated.

The originator of the recipe did not use parchment but simply inverted the dough into the hot dutch oven.  I did not want to chance getting burned and used the parchment for ease of transfer.

Cool, slice, and enjoy.


Jena's Butter Cream Icing

One of my Grandchildren ate 5 pieces of cake at our recent family reunion!! When I asked I found that Jena Holmes the fiance of my cousin Ron Gibson had brought it.

Of course I asked for her "secret" and she kindly shared it with me!! The cake was a Pillsbury Devil's Food and the frosting was the secret ammunition I was assured!!

She sent me the recipe in a package from Ron with all sorts of wonderful genealogy information on our family dating back to the Revolutionary War. Such a treasure trove I found in that big manila envelope!!

Today I baked the same box cake and carefully prepared the frosting. It is very light, almost like whipped cream. It is mildly sweet and I added a teaspoon of vanilla which her recipe does not call for. I had not tasted her cake because of this infernal diet I am on, but tomorrow is my binge day so I have tried to duplicate it. ( I did take a tiny lick of the beater....just one tiny!!) 

It has made a lovely cake that will go well with home fried chicken my son Mike requested for Sunday dinner. So many thanks to Jena and Ron for that wonderful package I received Wednesday.


5 T. flour
1 C. milk
1/4 pound butter or margarine (1 stick)
1/2 C. shortening (Butter flavor Crisco)
1 C. powdered sugar, sift through a sieve to remove lumps
1 t. vanilla

Cook the flour and milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan until it is very thick and paste like. Pour into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap so a skin cannot form and cool completely in the refrigerator.

Using an electric mixer (a stand mixer with a whipping attachment if you have it) beat the butter, shortening, and sugar until it becomes very light and fluffy. Add the cold flour and milk mixture and vanilla and beat until again very light and fluffy. Using a stand mixer it took about 3-4 minutes and I scraped the sides and bottom of the bowl 2-3 times.

Frosts 2, 8-9" layers.


My Favorite Thing or Why Bake Cookies?

Today I have been pondering....just sort of loosely thinking as I have gone along doing what I have needed to do.....

Thinking about what is my favorite thing. Oprah made favorite things a national topic of discussion on a regular basis. When asked recently on a Face book interview what her one favorite thing was she responded a Breville Panini maker.

My very first thought was Grandchildren. They are the light of this Grandmother's life.

I don't quite understand how and why that is. But then as I ponder it further I think it has to do with heart strings. I remember with each of the births of my three sons looking at them and having a very distinct physical sensation of overwhelming love and connection to them. Those connections have never diminished but with the addition of their children it is like a double down!!

It isn't that they need or depend or me for anything. In fact they most likely (the older ones) think I'm a funny old lady, or worse a crazy old lady!! The younger ones like that I read to them and hopefully they all like the cookies I bake for them. That is why I bake. Those cookies are made with Grandma's real love for all of her family!!