Saturday, March 31, 2012


Part of the problem with me trying to share recipes is I'm a pretty typical down-home southern cook. My measurements go something like this:

Pinch: a small amount between the thumb and forefinger.
Large pinch: an amount between the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger
A Hand-full: the amount grabbed up with your fist.

Years ago, as a  bride, I fixed my new husband a pot of beans. I remembered my mother de-gassing the beans with baking soda but I had no idea how much she used. I called her and asked. "Just put some in."

I tried to push her on an amount. "Just put some in. I don't know."

So I put some in. In fact, it should have been a large pinch. Not knowing any better, I put in about 1/4 cup. Yep. Damn near killed him.

Here's my last recipe for using up those left over Easter eggs. If you want to cut down on the amount of maccaroni, do it. But maccaroni is a great way to stretch this salad. I prefer the large shell instead of the elbow because the shell will hold the other ingredients better.

1 large can flaked tuna, drained (If you use chunked tuna, mash it up with a fork)
3 stalks celery, cleaned and thinly chopped
1/2 small onion, diced small
4 large sweet pickles, diced small
4 hardboiled eggs, chopped

Cook half of a large package of Large shell macaroni, putting a tablespoon of salt in the water. Drain and rinse in cold water until macaroni is cold. Then drain well.

Here's some of those "southern cook" measurements.
In a large bowl, put first 5 ingredients.
Add some mayonnaise. How much? I dunno. Some. Guessing I'd say start with 1 cup.
Add some of the juice from the sweet pickles. Forced into a guess I'd say about 2 - 3 tablespoons. I just pour some in and mix well. You want this just a little sweet.

When the macaroni is cooled off, put in the bowl and mix until all ingredients are mixed well. Refrigerate immediately. I suggest fixing this ahead so the salad can sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the salad to get completely cold and the flavors to meld together well.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


When I started this blog, it read: "Make a cream gravy." All of a sudden it hit me: "Is it possible cream gravy is a southern thing and lots of people won't know how to make it?" I know some of the younger people might not know how because they've been raised on instant gravy. Having that epiphany, I decided to alter my plans.

I remember Alan telling me one time he had just made biscuits and gravy, asking if I would like some. He brought me a plate of them and my mouth starting watering. I took a big bite. "What the hell is that stuff???" That's cream gravy. Turns out it was a packaged instant cream gravy. Just add milk and you get…..(how should I describe it)….a tasteless kinda gelatinous substance. If you salt it you can make a salty kinda gelatinous substance.

I'm going to start by telling you gravy is healthier if you use a vegetable shortening in the base. I'm also going to tell you this…if you want a serious southern cream gravy, you'll use bacon drippings, leftover oil from pan frying chicken or country fried steak.

Remember that all measurements are approximate. Southern cooks don't measure like normal people. I'll explain in another blog. I'm going to start with a true southern favorite: sausage gravy because you make it a little different.

1 tube of breakfast sausage. Most people prefer the hot breakfast sausage. I also like the sage flavored one but it's your choice.
1/4 cup sausage grease and vegetable oil if it needs it to make 1/4 cup.
3/4 up flour
3 - 4 cups milk
salt and pepper

Break the sausage up into a skillet. Keep breaking it up as it fries. Fry the sausage slowly because you want to render as much fat as possible out of the meat. Don't just fry until sausage is done. Cook it a little longer to get out as much fat as possible. Place a strainer over a bowl. With a slotted spoon, remove sausage from the pan, place in the strainer and let drain for about 10 minutes.

Place sausage grease back in skillet adding enough vegetable oil to make about 1/4 cup. Heat oil, scraping all the sausage goodies off of the bottom of the pan.

Add about 3/4 cups of all purpose flour, a little at a time, mixing it with the oil. Keep adding until it begins to "come together". Making sure to keep stirring the mixture off of the bottom of the pan, and keep cooking until it begins to turn a little brown.

Stirring constantly, start adding milk, a little at a time, and incorporating with the flour mixture each time before adding more. Keep heat where the mixture will simmer. You can add a little more milk if needed to thin gravy a little but you want it thick.

Add a little salt to taste and go a little heavy on the pepper.

Add sausage back into gravy, stirring in until sausage is hot.

Serve over biscuits, even canned biscuits are delicious. If you have no biscuits, you can serve over toast.

All of the other gravies are made using the grease from where bacon, chicken or something like that has been fried.

Basic cream gravy is just made with the oil, flour and milk. It's wonderful over mashed potatoes. If you're in the South you might even see it over french fries, hash browns, or used as a dip for eggs or meat.

This is how I use up those left over Easter eggs.

I use a stick of butter.
3/4 cup flour
 3 - 4 cups milk
Quite a bit of pepper
Salt to taste
and make cream gravy like above.

The difference is after gravy is made, I chop up hardboiled eggs in it. Then I serve over toast.

If I have any ham left over, I will add the ham. However, if you use ham, go really easy on the salt because the ham will add salt.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


When the kids were still home, there was always a ton of hard boiled eggs that got colored and hidden on Easter morning. When you have that many eggs, you need a way to use them up pretty quickly so they don't spoil. I mean you can only eat so many Easter eggs before you start to choke whenever you look at them.

Since Easter is a few weeks away, I thought I'd concentrate for the next few blogs on quick, easy recipes to use up those eggs and treat your family to some special meals too.

There are four basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter. There is a fifth taste that doesn't fit into any of those categories. It's the taste that makes aware there's something missing in your food. You know it when you taste it but you have no idea what it is. Why do some people's food seem to just have that certain something. It's called umami and there are several things you can add to recipes to get this effect.

One of my grandsons loves to cook so I taught him about umami. I swore him to secrecy when I taught him how to do it. He calls it our secret ingredient.

This recipe has umami. If you're not familiar with that term, google it.
I'm starting with the most obvious recipe this week:


Hardboiled eggs
Prepared mustard
worcestershire sauce
Green olives stuffed with red pimento

Peel hardboiled eggs and cut each one in half from end to end.
Scoop out yolks into a small bowl.
Mash yolks well with a fork.
Mix with enough mayonnaise to make yolks stick together.
Then add:
1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
One shake of worcestershire sauce
Mix well. At this point the yolk mixture should be creamy. If it's too stiff, add a little more mayonnaise.
Fill each egg with the yolk mixture.
Place a green olive (with red pimento) in the middle of each stuffed egg.
Sprinkle eggs lightly with paprika.
Refrigerate immediately.

Want to share a few things I've found out. I rarely recommend products but recently I've discovered a couple of things I wanted to share. I seem to be the last one to know about things, so y'all might be aware these.

Zip Lock bags is making a special bag for freezing. You can buy a kit that comes with a stupid little gadget that will pump all the air out of the bag in seconds. My oldest daughter bought me one and I love it. I used all the bags and have now bought replacement bags. I like to buy meat in larger quantities because it's cheaper. This keeps the meat from getting freezer burned.

Last night I stopped by a Harp's market out of my area, just to pick up a few items before I started the hour trek home. I went past a cooler and noticed something that appeared to be home canned. I went back to look and it was called Farmer's Garden garlic dill pickles. They're put out by Vlasic. I've been craving my homemade garlic dills and was looking forward to canning some this summer. I was waiting until closer to canning season before I ran the recipe.

When I got home I immediately opened the jar and cut off a small bite. OMG! They taste just like my home canned pickles! I ate some more. Then I got up this morning and ate another one. Try these if you like good garlic dills.

A household tip I had forgotten about that I want to share. If you get blood on clothing, pour a little peroxide on it. It will bubble the blood right out.

Friday, March 9, 2012


I love pickled peppers but most of the time they're just too hot for me. A few years ago, (uh, like 40 years) I got a recipe from a friend, Judy Munn, who now lives in Illinois. This is, hands down, the best pickled peppers I've ever eaten so you might want to save this recipe until summer when the peppers are ready.

You can actually find milder jalapeno peppers but it's rare to find them. The solution is to use anaheim peppers or regular jalapeno peppers, or your own preference. Any pepper will do.

Using a really sharp knife, cut off excess stem. Then make a thin slit down one side of the pepper and remove that rib or membrane that runs down the pepper and the seeds. That membrane or "rib" is where the "heat" comes from.

If you're using green peppers, a few red peppers thrown in, make a really attractive jar. Don't be afraid to mix types of peppers.

Make sure you've sterilized your jars.

1 cup vinegar (5% acidity)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon pickling salt
1 teaspoon pickling spices

Boil ingredients.

Wash peppers and pack peppers tightly in jars.
Cover with liquid to 1 inch of top.
Cap and screw lids tightly onto jars. Process in a hot water bath, 10 minutes for pints and 15 minutes for quarts.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


If you've got kids or grandkids and you want to bake cookies for them, this is a great recipe to keep on hand, in your refrigerator. It takes the pain out of baking cookies. I always double the recipe and I have no kids or grandkids hanging around my house to blame the cookie consumption on. I just never met a cookie I didn't like.


Prep Time: 15 minutes

    * 5 cups flour
    * 2 cups sugar
    * 1 cup brown sugar
    * 2 Tablespoons baking powder
    * 2 teaspoons salt
    * 1 cup solid Crisco
    * 1/2 cup butter

In large bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well until blended. Cut in shortening and butter with pastry blender, two knives or your hands until the mixture resembles cornmeal and shortening and butter are evenly distributed. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container for up to 12 weeks. When you want to make cookies, measure amount needed and let it come to room temperature before using.


Sugar Cookies

4 cups homemade cookie mix
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg

Combine all ingredients in large bowl until well blended. Divide dough in half, then cover dough and chill at least one hour or until dough is easy to handle. Roll out dough, one half at a time, on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. Arrange cutouts 1-inch apart on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes until cookies are set but not brown. Cool on wire rack.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2-1/2 cups homemade cookie mix
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I use pecan pieces or walnut pieces and usually go a little heavier than the amount called for in the recipe)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and blend until well mixed. Drop by teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 375 oven for 8-10 minutes until cookies are light golden brown. Cool on sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Spice Cookies

2-1/2 cups homemade cookie mix
1 teaspoons lemon extract
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Follow directions for Chocolate Chip Cookies. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes until light golden brown.

Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups homemade cookie mix
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoons vanilla

Follow directions for Chocolate Chip Cookies. Form dough into balls, place on ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten with a fork dipped in sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.