Make Ahead Baked Oatmeal, Just Heat and Eat.

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Our oldest son Chris loves this dish and I do too.  I am hoping Brian will like it as he tends to go in spurts and gets tired of things easily.  My hope is to be ready with this when it is time a change from his current breakfast fare.  This delicious breakfast has it all, protein, fruit, and grain plus it's delicious too.

Ingredients for Baked Oatmeal:

4 1/2 C. quick oats
3/4 C. brown sugar
1 1/2 C. milk
3 T. melted butter
3 eggs
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
1 1/4 C., about 4, mashed banana
1/2 C. chocolate chips, optional
1 C. fresh blueberries, diced apple, or dried fruit, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease ramekins or a 9" x 12' baking dish and set aside.  Mix all of the ingredients together well and spread into the prepared pans.  Bake 20-25 minutes.  Reheat in the morning as many servings as needed either in the microwave or the oven and serve with warm milk on top.

Yield 4-5 servings.

Old Fashioned Cocoa-Cola Cake & Cola Frosting

Instead of the traditional nuts sprinkles atop we used toffee bits.
This is a cake I think of as very retro although I rally do not know if that is right or has been around a long while though!!  It is a sweet treat and if you prefer cocoa as I do you will enjoy this one!  I noticed too it smells heavenly! 

Ingredients for Cocoa Cola Cake:

2 C. flour
2 C. sugar
1 C. butter 
1 C. cola
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 lightly beaten eggs
1/2 C. buttermilk (Or sour milk, 1/2 C. sweet milk plus 1/2 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice mix and let sit a few minutes.)
1 t. soda
1 t. vanilla
2 C. tiny marshmallows
Cocoa-Cola frosting
1/2 C, chopped nuts or toffee bits, optional for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 9" x 13" baking dish and set aside.  Sift together the flour and sugar and set aside.

Using a medium sauce pan over medium heat melt together the butter, cola, and cocoa powder.  After melted and stirred pour over the flour mixture.

Add eggs, buttermilk, soda, and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the marshmallows and spread into the pan evenly.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake tests done when a tooth pick is inserted into the center of the cake.

The cake may look a bit tricky as the top is a bit bumpy and not uniform in color as the marshmallows tend to want to separate a bit.  Be sure to use the smallest marshmallows.  Cool the cake completely before frosting.

Cocoa-Cola Frosting:

Using a mixing bowl beat together with an electric mixer 1/3 C. room temperature butter with 2 C. powdered sugar and 2 t. cocoa powder..  Start slowly and increase the speed as the ingredients combine.  Slowly add in 1/4 C. cola beating until combined.  Gradually add another 1 3/4 C. powdered sugar.  Add more cola 1 teaspoon at a time beating as you go until you achieve the desired consistency.

Top with nuts or toffee bits as desired.


Lemongrass, rooting from cuttings. One of my favorite Asian ingredients from cuttings, to garden, to stock pot!

A dozen stalks of fresh lemongrass bound lightly for rooting.
Updated with a progress report on 5/10/13.

Every year I have driven east to Kroeger's greenhouse to buy Lemongrass.  I have never found it anywhere else down here but they always have it for me to enjoy each spring.  It is a very special part of my herb garden.  It is also known as takri in Thai cooking and citronella in some Chinese and Asian cookbooks.  When ground to a fine powder it is known as serai  and a teaspoon of it is equivalent to one blade of fresh lemongrass.

Today I had a lot of errands to do in town and stopped at a local Vietnamese market for lemongrass with the intent of rooting and growing it myself.  I purchased 12 stalks for $1.25 and felt like it was a great purchase as I am sure I probably paid at least $12.-15. for the pots I ave bought annually. 

I have cut off the bottom 5" of each stalk and loosely bound them together and set them into a vase of fresh water.  Now we wait.  As soon as they root I have a pot ready for them to be planted in.  I feel like this is a strong start!

Yesterday I took the cutting out from the water I started them in and changed it as there were some spots of mold floating about and some black spots on the shoots.  The roots have started on all of the shoots except one.  I changed to a different container and stood a glass plant frog in the bottom to raise the shoots a bit and returned them to continue rooting.

My very favorite way to use this ingredient is when making chicken stock.  You just cannot imagine how delicious the addition of a piece or two of crushed lemongrass makes the stock.  Add a bit of soy sauce and fresh ginger you are on your way to a delicious Asian style stock.  Here is the link to my version of herbed Asian stock.

Traditionally the way to use lemongrass is to use the bottom 5" of the stalk and pound it with something heavy enough to bruise and crush it. Although some recipes call for the whole stalk to be crushed then added.   This is very tough and fibrous and is always removed before serving.

5/24/13, UPDATE, these rooted cuttings were planted on the patio a week ago and are doing great!
Mosquitoes are repelled by lemongrass so it is quite handy to grow in large pots on the patio.  The lemon fragrance as the leaves rustle in the breeze is also lovely.  I have seen folks pull off the leaves and crumble them a bit to crush and rub them adainst their arms to repel insects.  All in all it is a mighty herb to have around!


Make a Butterfly Refreshment Station for Your Garden.

Butterfly station at White River State Park in Indianapolis.
At White River state Park in Indianapolis there is an interactive butterfly display.  Many many beautiful specimens are housed there in various stages of their life cycle and it is a lovely space.

Butterfly Dish Nestled in Jack 'n the Pulpits by Old Painted Pump and Fish Pond Off the Patio.
You too can have a place for specimens traveling to refresh themselves by using a plate and marbles.  It happens that during an earthquake here a few years ago an antique decorative plate from my Mother-in-law was knocked from the wall above the fireplace and chipped.  I still didn't want to part with it and so I have kept it.  Today It became a garden ornament as well as a respite for the butterflies.  Tomorrow I will be looking for other shabby chic dishes for other parts of the garden and yard!

Butterfly station in the flower bed outside my door.
You can make one too by placing clean glass marbles in a shallow glass plate or dish and placing a bit of fresh water into the plate no higher than just below the tops of the marbles.  The object is to provide a place for them to lite and refresh themselves.  I am going to enjoy this addition to our landscape.  I may have to look for some more really colorful plates and marbles!

There is a lot to enjoy at the White River State Park and here is the link should you want to know more about this wonderful attraction.  

My Grandma's Diabetic Cakes, Cookies, and Dessert Recipes

Grandpa and Grandma on their wedding day.
There have been requests for any Diabetic recipes I might have.  Very specifically my friend from school days whom I hold dear, Sharon had asked me to see what I had access to.  So I dedicate this post to her.  We do not currently use these as we have no diabetic friends or family but they are from my Grandma's recipe collection.

Were I to need them this is the first place I would go!!  With that in mind here are some that look good to me from The Dubois County Extension Homemakers Clubs, "Here's What's Cookin' 1975 addition.

These 5 recipes looked like the first ones I would make should the need arise.  I did a bit of adapting but the recipes are all basically the same.  I always write a recipe for instance to preheat the oven first and get the pans ready.  Just the way I do it!  So I pass it along to you that way.

My Grandfather was diabetic and Grandma did cook many of these for him.  I remember the pumpkin custard and cookies well.  Really all of these sound quite good to me.........

Ingredients for Diabetic Pumpkin Custard:

2 C. pumpkin
2 eggs
1 C. skim milk
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
Sweetener as desired
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 8" pie pan and set aside.

Beat eggs and add sweetener and milk.  Mix well and add spices and salt.  Pour into a buttered 8" pie pan.  Bake for 1 hour in preheated 350 degree oven.  Custard will keep shape without crust. 

Ingredients for Diabetic Banana, Nut, Oatmeal Cookies:

1 C. shortening
4 t. sugar substitute
3 C. sifted flour
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 t. vanilla
2 small bananas
1 t. soda
1 beaten egg
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/2 C. nuts
3/4 C. quick oats
1/2 C. boiling water
1/2 C. raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats and set aside.

Pour the boiling water over the raisins and let them stand as you mix up the batter.  Beat together the shortening, sweetener and egg,  blend in the vanilla and bananas.  Add the dry ingredients and spiced stirring well.  Mix in the nuts, oats, and raisins and mix thoroughly. 

Drop by teaspoons onto baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes until done.  Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.

Ingredients for Diabetic Cinnamon Cris Cross Cookies:

5 T. butter or margarine
1 C. sifted flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
2 t. liquid sweetener
1 t. vanilla
1 T. milk, fruit juice, or coffee

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats and set aside.

Cream the butter until light and fluffy.  blend in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Mix the sweetener, vanilla, and tablespoon of milk or other liquid and stir this into the flour and butter mixture.  Mix thoroughly. 

Shape into 30 even-sized balls;  place on prepared baking sheets.  Flatten the balls with the tines of a fork dipped into cold water to form a Cris cross pattern.  Bake 10-15 minutes.  Yield 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Ingredients for Diabetic Orange Macaroons:

2 egg whites
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tarter
2 t. grated orange zest
7 oz. (2 C.) shredded coconut
2 T. cake flour
1/4 t. baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats or use Teflon coated baking sheets.  Set aside.

Using a non-plastic bowl, beat together the egg whites, salt, and cream of tarter until stiff peaks form.  Combine the zest, coconut, flour, and baking powder and mix well.  Fold into the egg whites.  Drop by scant teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.  Bake 15-20 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.  Cool.  Yield 2 dozen macaroons, 27 calories each.  Boy!  I think these look good too!

Ingredients for Diabetic Applesauce Spice Cake:

2 C. water
2 C. raisins
2 eggs
2 C. flour
1 1/4 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
1 C. applesauce (unsweetened)
2 T. liquid sweetener
3/4 C. vegetable oil
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
1/3 C. chopped nuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.   Butter and flour a loaf pan and set aside.   (Something suitable for a loaf of banana bread)

Cook the raisins in the water until all of the water is gone.  Add the applesauce, eggs, sweetener, and vegetable oil.  Beat well.  Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the first mixture and beat until thoroughly mixed.  Turn into the prepared pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until cake tests done.

I hope you have great success with any of these you decide to try!  Please let me hear from you if you make any of them.  

Note:  If I were making these and did not have liquid sweetener I would use 1 pkt. artificial sweetener to equal 1 t. of sugar and add the equivalent amount of water.  Example the above recipe calls for 2 T. liquid sweetener.  There are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon so I would use 6 pkg. of coffee sweetener and 2 tablespoons of water for the recipe.


Le Vacherin, Meringue Cases for Strawberry Season Anytime Now!

Crisp, sweet, and light, a nice change from shortcakes and pies.
Periodically I have made meringues for berries and whipped cream.  There are numerous variations by lots of names.  They can be made very rustically by mounding with a spoon into large or small nests or more formally using a pastry bag and a decorative tip. 

Last week I drove east about a mile to Wright's Berry Farm and was told their luscious berries would be on in a week or two.  Today we are a week closer I am sure!  Since I freeze any leftover egg whites I have always have them on hand and have waited until today to bring them to room temperature and make meringues in advance of the season.  They can be sealed in freezer bags and frozen until needed very successfully.  Just beware they are fragile and break easily.  You do not want a frozen turkey to tumble down on this dainty package!

I have always made rustic nests with a spoon but thought today I would pile the meringue into a gallon freezer bag and clip a corner to form in a rustic yet taller nest.  I have vintage low footed berry dishes that were my late mother-in-law, Mary Lou's and they would just fit perfectly I think!

I have adapted the recipe from Julia Child's "The French Chef's Cookbook" although this is not the recipe I have used in the past it looks like it is more suitable for the day I have planned.

Ingredients for Le Vacherin also known as Meringues:

3/4 C. egg whites, about 6
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. cream of tarter
2 C. granulated sugar, very fine if possible
2 t. vanilla extract

Note: It is very important when dealing with beating egg whites for anything that the egg whites are brought to room temperature, and that the mixer and utensils are absolutely clean, dry and free of any grease, otherwise the egg whites may not mound properly.

Beat the egg whites at medium speed using and electric mixer until they start to foam but are shapeless.  Add the salt and cream of tarter beating as you go.  Increase the beater speed to medium high.  As soon as the egg whites start to hold their shape softly, about a minute, beat in 1/4 C. of the sugar.  Beat in for 30 seconds and add the next 1/4 C. of sugar and continue beating and adding until you have added the first 1 C. of sugar.  Beat in the vanilla.  Increase the speed a bit and beat until there is no feel of the sugar when you press a small portion of the meringue between your fingers and the meringue is stiff enough that when you draw a knife through the center the valley remains open.

Remove the  beaters and the bowl and immediately sprinkle 1/4 C. sugar over the meringue and fold it rapidly into the mixture.  Continue adding 1/4 C. portions and folding until the second cup of sugar has been added.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.  Either line two jelly roll pans with parchment paper or use 1 T. soft butter and butter them both well.  Then if you choose to butter the pans dust them with all purpose flour shaking off the excess.

Mound the meringue into a 1 gallon freezer bag.  It is easier to do so if you stand the bottom of the bag in a small deep bowl, at least to support it's standing up in the beginning.  Push the meringue down into the lower bag with a spatula and seal it closed forcing out as much of the air as possible.  clip one of the bottom corners off with a scissors and proceed to push the meringue out to the form or shape you want to achieve.

Form 6 cases per sheet if making individual nests.  Place the baking sheets on the upper middle and lower middle racks in the preheated oven.  Immediately reduce the heat to 200 degrees F.  Bake for 2 hours or more.  Meringues are done when you can easily push them loose and they are no longer damp on the bottom.  I have heard of turning off the oven when they are done but then leaving them overnight in the closed oven to gently continue to dry.  The last tine I made them I did leave them all night.  The were perfect!   Yield 12 nests.

To serve place a meringue in a small dish.  Mound in fruit, berries, ice cream, or dessert cream and top with sweetened whipped cream.

I have today made these to store for use another time but I will take pictures and add them later to show how these were used.  This is a nice variation or change from shortcake and pie.

Helpful hint:  This needs to be a bit of a quick operation so be sure to gather everything together before you start.  I recommend also you prepare the pans before you start.  I always have to dig out the cream of tarter and make sure there is enough too as I do not use it terribly often,  not like cinnamon or vanilla that I use weekly. 

Musings & a Prayer in the Seven Hundreth Post on the Third Anniversary of The Hidden Pantry.

April 19, 2010 was the first posting of the Hidden Pantry, done with my beautiful Granddaughter Emily and I both snuggled up in front of this computer.  She was 14 and I was 62.  I didn't have a clue as she plunked away. Flipping through pages and asking me questions as she filled in the blanks for me.   Along we went, happily as we always are.  My grandchildren give me such great joy.  We had made a dish she had called and wanted to cook for our Sunday dinner and it became our first post.  No picture of that first one as we had no plan.

Mostly we did it for our other family members who always like to share recipes and my daughters-in-law who had wanted me to write a cook book.  Who knew that 3 years later we would have had well over a million visitors and made so many lovely, what I now consider friends?

I have pondered over the past 10 days how to mark this anniversary and to be honest haven't really had any bright ideas.  But, looking at the events in these United States this week and the horror of the calamities as they have unfolded. I do not despair.  I look to me instead.  What can just me do?

No, instead, I hug my children and grandchildren a little closer.  I kissed my husband a bit more tenderly as he left this morning and I  ponder this. 

What if someone I love was so horribly taken from me in an unforeseen way?  Would the hurts be important?  You know what I that my husband is so very much a messy pack rat of sorts?  A constant irritant.  I gave it up awhile back, must have been that day older and wiser started.
Well anyway,  I realized what a void it would leave if I didn't have to chase down the things he loses. To vacuum behind him as he tracks in.  To put back all the things he sets out and leaves.  Now I am just glad I can do these things.  I have a lot of friends who would give anything in the world to have back someone they love and have lost.  They would love to have that person with every single fault back. for even a day.  I count my blessings.

I started being sure I made the coffee every night ahead of his doing it,  just to have done it for him because I can.  I quit looking at it that he can be a pain in the "keester" because he always does this or that......instead I think of how much I would probably miss the very things that drive me nuts most of all were he not here with me.  Then I thought of the irritations others impart to my soul and eventually decided that it was all my problem.. I am obviously irritable and choose to get irritated.

So now I look for things, little things I can do for him and anyone else I can.  Now, I am in no way a saint and am not preaching,  I am saying I am trying and it makes me and my life better.

Since I have taken it upon myself,  now "I" can fix it.  "I" chose not to be irritable and get affected by all that little and even sometimes big stuff.  I choose to believe that better days are ahead.

So my message is this,  do not choose to live with strife,  to be angry, and irritated.  Let it go.  Life is just too short and far too precious to mess it all up.  When something needs fixed look first to yourself.  Perhaps more marriages would last longer, more children and their parents would find common ground,  and happiness would be less rare if we were all a bit more honest with ourselves.  Perhaps if we find honor in doing things for others instead of being "put upon" and being consumed with "what's in it for me"  it would spread.  You know sort of like playing it forward.

The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi sits in the window above my desk.
I pray for all those who are suffering...who have lost children and loved ones, who suffer in anyway.  I pray for anyone who is hungry, or ill, or in pain of any sort.  I pray that our country may heal and that our planet will continue to heal its self and to sustain us.  I give thanks for all our many blessings.

And I am grateful for all of you too, who stop by and share a few minutes with me on this little blog.  Thank you all.    Diane


Easy Pork Chops and Red Cabbage

Browned and tender pork chop with red cabbage in wine.
While I am predominately of German decent and love the sweet, sour, tangy recipes for red cabbage, my husband does not.  I have long looked for a red cabbage recipe he would enjoy.  THIS IS IT.  He really liked this one and I am so happy to have adapted one that works for us.  Especially now that the health benefits of the deeply colored produce have been determined and because of the issues with leafy greens in his diet due to the medications he takes.

Having sail all this I adapted the recipe from French Cooking, from Laura Calder, for Red Wine Cabbage.  The pork chops are just the way I like them, good and easy!

Ingredients for the Pork Chops:

4 center cut pork chops about 5/8" thick
coarse kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
all purpose flour for dredging
2 T. vegetable oil or pork drippings whichever you prefer

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a flat shallow baking dish with cooking spray and set aside for now.

Generously season the chops with salt and pepper.  Turn on a heavy skillet (cast iron if you have it) and add the oil to preheat.  Dredge 2 seasoned chops in the flour, shaking off any excess and place them in the pan.  Brown on each side for 4-5 minutes over medium high heat then remove them from the pan and place them in the oven uncovered in the prepared dish. Repeat the process for the second pair of chops, then add them to the first pair.  Leave them while you prepare the cabbage or check them in 30 minutes and reduce the heat to 200 degrees and leave another 15 minutes or so.

Ingredients for Red Cabbage in Wine:

1 small or 1/2 large head of red cabbage, about 8 ounces
1 T. vegetable oil or pork drippings
4-5 slices thick cut bacon diced or cut into lardons
1 onion diced
1/2 C. stock, meat, poultry, or vegetable (I had chicken on hand)
1/2 C. dry wine (I used Apricot, a bit pink but dry)
1 T. red wine vinegar
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C. raisins (I used golden)
1 T. brown sugar
1 apple, cored, peeled, and grated

Core and shred the cabbage.  (I did this as soon as the chops went into the oven.)  Melt the fat in a dutch oven if you have one, if not a large pot will do.  Add the bacon and saute until done.  Remove the bacon and set aside.  Cook the onion is the drippings until soft but do not brown them.  Stir in the cabbage and cooked bacon and cook for about 8-10 minutes,

Pour in the stock,wine, and vinegar and season with the salt and pepper.  (I used about 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper.)  Cover and simmer until nearly tender, about 25-30 minutes.

Uncover, add the raisins, brown sugar,and apples. Continue cooking about 10 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Taste and adjust the seasonings if need be.   The chops were browned and tender the cabbage delicious. (I confess to having been surprised when Brian really liked it.  A first for red cabbage!)   Serve up and enjoy.

Note:  I purposefully fixed enough of this meal to store for a second meal on another night.  After dinner I placed the cabbage in the bottom of an oven proof dish and layered the 2 remaining chops on top.  They can be reheated as they are in the microwave or placed in a 325 degree preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.  Just be sure to store in a covered heat resistant container. 


Spring has Sprung with Mushrooms in Southern Indiana and Frog is Back for Another Season!

Wonderful Wild Morels.
Each day dawns more glorious than the last as the mist of green about the trees goes from the tiny needle like slivers of new life to buds, to blossoms, to leaves.  From my windows I revel each morning in the great beauty unfolding before me.  I go outside to find more miracles abound.  Mostly small wonderful miracles of nature.  Like wild mushrooms.  And, like frogs!

Today I got this photo from my sister-in-law Darla Burress who I will call the mushroom whisperer!  I have never in my life heard of anyone so adept at the art of finding wild mushrooms!  She knows where and when and how to find them.  If she were not staved up with a bad back she could probably get rich and retire as a wild mushroom guide.  As it is she must pace herself.  Go for short periods and be very careful not to misstep and even with all that she always comes home with a lap full!

He is sort of brown and sitting right smack in the center of this photo.
Last night Brian said when he fed our fish in the fish pond he had heard a plop and suspected a frog has come to enjoy our abode.  He never could spot it so today I ever so stealthily made a sweep looking so very carefully amongst the leaves.   I FOUND HIM! 

He is again right in the middle of the photo.
He doesn't look a thing like our last frog Freddie.  Freddie was here in 2011 and I shot a photo and shared it with you in August that year.   Such a bonus to have found this fellow so early in the season.  Hum mm........I wonder if he has brought his family and I just haven't spotted them yet?  Something to ponder.

He is sharing the pond with four goldfish about 3" long each and two koi that are a good 7" long.  This will make for great fun when the little ones come!  Hopefully Molly will not allow any predators into our yard to snack on our tenants.

Next door Doris has a mystery going on in the shrubbery just outside her front door.  A perfect tiny nest is just under construction there.   As I tied up and fertilized the rose bushes each with 3 tablespoons of Epsom salt this morning a woodpecker was working on a nest just out side out dining room window.  The countryside is teaming with springs new life.


Save Water, Pamper Your Plants.

This is one of those, "Why didn't I think of that?" items.  I saw this some place a few months back and had that very thought.  So now as I move all of these plants outside to the patio I am doing this as I re-pot them.  The idea is to fit a portion of a disposable diaper into the bottom of the pot then proceed with soil and your plants.  The absorbency of the disposable diaper is to conserve the moisture in the pot for a longer period and save runoff of the excess moisture.  Since it is safe for a babies bottom I expect it's safe for my Aloe Vera babies!

Last week I purchased a package of super duper extra absorbent night time disposable diapers and today cut them down to fit into the bottom 1/3 of my pots.  Next I refilled with potting soil and then snugged in my little plants.  If this summer is hot and dry as many Indiana summers get it should prove to be very helpful for the plants and for us who maintain them.

So, "Why didn't I think of that?"  Seems like a heck of a good idea to me!


Chocolate Pie with Meringue and Buttermilk Pie

Chocolate Pie with Meringue.
Today I rolled out a couple of single pie crusts and baked an old standby Buttermilk pie and a Chocolate pie topped with a baked meringue topping.  The recipe for the Buttermilk Pie has been given twice before as has been pastry so here are the links should you want to give them a try.

Buttermilk Pie    for the pastry and   for my grandmother's buttermilk pie recipe.

When I make a chocolate pie I dock and bake the pie shell then as it cools from the oven I make a quick and very easy chocolate filling.  I let the filling sit and cool about 5 minutes while I beat the meringue.  Then I spoon in the filling, spread the meringue atop, then bake the pie until beautifully browned.  Lastly I choll it about 3 hours before serving.

Ingredients for Chocolate Pie with Meringue:

The filling:
1,  6 ounce box cook and serve chocolate pudding mix
3  C. whole milk
3 egg yolks
1 8-9" baked pie shell

The meringue:
3 egg whites
4 T. sugar
1/4 t. cream of tarter
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Beat together the egg yolks and cold milk in a heavy bottomed medium sized sauce pan until well incorporated.  Whisk in the pudding mix and cook over medium high heat until it reaches a rolling boil you cannot stir down.
Set aside.

Place the egg whites in a flat bottomed glass or metal bowl and add the cream of tarter and salt. Using an electric mixer beat until frothy.  Add the sugar, sprinkling it in gently as you continue beating until soft but stiff peaks form.

Spread the chocolate filling into the baked shell, spread the meringue atop the filling making swirls. Bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on the counter about an hour then refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Sub Sandwiches for the Trap Shooters!

Brian has been "training" to get his endurance back and improve his shooting.  One of his buddies called and asked him to go shooting this afternoon and I am packing subs for them to eat at the range. They like to shoot trap at The Evansville Gun Club.

When his buddy called this morning I asked what things he didn't like on his sandwich ans we were in good shape when the things he rattles off were things I would not have used anyway!

Ingredients for Sunday Subs:

2 French rolls about 12" long
1/2 pound tavern ham sliced
1/2 pound turkey pastrami sliced
1/4 pound hard salami sliced
1/4 pound peppered Havarti cheese sliced
soft butter
onion slices
tomato slices
dill pickle slices
mild pepperochini rings

Cut the 2 French rolls in half and hollow them out a bit.  Butter the bottom and spread mayonnaise in the cavity of the top.  Slather a bit of mustard on both pieces of the bread.  Start layering the fillings onto the lower half of the roll.  Start with the meat then cheese and end with the vegetables.

Fit the top on the sub and use short skewers at each end to fasten them together.  Double wrap the subs and keep cool until time to eat!  Yield 2 "man sized" subs.

Save Money, Cut Up Your Own Chickens, Tutorial.

I start with a cutting board I use just for meat and then wash in the dishwasher on the sanitize setting.
The prices of food and everything else seems be going through the roof.  It is a bit scary.  There seems to be no end in sight.  For my money it pays to save in all of the little ways you can and this is one way I find.  Friday I saw chicken packaged and breast meat was $15.-$17. dollars for 3 half bone in breasts!  I went to Rivertown Butcher and bought 2 whole free range chickens or a little more than half that amount.  So here is how I cut up whole chicken,

Chicken stock is easy to make and will save money if you simmer the backs and wing tips and freeze it for later use.   We are planning our first B-B-Q chicken today so I will simmer for stock the extra pieces we will not be grilling and freeze the meat for later use also.  It is handy to freeze stock in extra ice cube trays then pop them out into a freezer bag for use as needed.

Cutting out the backbone for making stock.
Rinse the chicken and using a kitchen scissors cut along both sides of the backbone and remove it.

Cutting the thigh from the body.
Using a sharp butcher knife remove the entire leg section on both sides.

Removing the drumstick from the thigh.
Place the leg section on cutting board and cut at the joint between the leg and thigh.

Clipping the wing from the breast.
Removing the wing tips to add to the stock pot.
Cut the wings at the side of the breast.  Clip off the wing tips to add to the stock pot.

Feel the center front of the breast and locate the bump about 1/3 way down the center front and with it positioned flat side down on a cutting board cut cross ways all of the way across.

The breast yields 3 pieces when cut this way.
Next place the lower breast portion flat side down on the board and using the knife split it top to bottom along one side of the center bone.

Upon cutting up 2 chickens I salt them well with kosher salt and add freshly ground pepper then stash them in a zipper bag in the lower part of the refrigerator until we are ready to start the grill.
This will net 3 pieces of the breast,  2 drumsticks,  2 thighs,  and  2 wings resulting in 9 pieces of chicken.

Were we not cooking all of this today I would double wrap in serving size packages and freeze dated and labeled.  Meanwhile the backs and wing tips plus 2 thighs I threw in for good measure are simmering on the stove.


Spring is finally here as we enjoy our first day of working out in our yard.

Looking down into a red tulip.
Grape Hyacinths Smell Wonderful.
I expect we will both be moaning and groaning this evening after doing yard work most of the day.  Things are blooming and spring is here.  Thought I would share some of the blossoms..............
My favorite spot.......anytime......
These are called Star Flowers I believe.
This Burk-woody Viburnum smells like heaven and will bloom in days.
These are my favorite Virginia Blue Bells but are hard to see.
Can't get enough Hyacinths!