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"A thousand things went right today."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Recipes for a Porch Party

How about a Porch Party? Invite some friends over, turn on a fan to discourage mosquitoes, pass some cool beverages and serve toasted pecans and a tortilla dip that will disappear in a hurry. Other necessary ingredients for a successful porch or deck party include hearty laughter and true stories. Okay, mostly true.

Toasted Pecans
Get some of your Fall pecans from the freezer and make this marvelous treat, long a requisite for any Southern wedding, tea or reception of any type. These make great gifts. A friend sends them to her son in the Navy. He shares them, thus increasing his popularity aboard ship.

1 stick butter
4 tsp. Worchestershire
4 cups pecans
1 Tab. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. Tabasco

Melt butter in 11 x 14 sheet cake pan in 300 degree oven.
Add other ingredients and pecans, mixing well. Toast for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally during toasting to evenly season nuts. Watch carefully, for they can burn quickly. Dry on paper towels. Mighty good.

Husband D. and I often send our far-away friends several pounds of cracked pecans when the season has been a prolific one. You'd think we had sent them big money!
Pecans. Southern manna.

Tortilla Dip (quite easy)

1 6-oz. can ripe olives chopped
1 4-0z. can green chilies, chopped
4 green onions with tops, chopped
3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 Tab. salad oil
1 1/2 Tab. vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt

Mix olives, chilies, onion, tomatoes. Add oil, vinegar and garlic salt. Stir, chill, serve with chips. A Teach for America young man from California who lived with us for a while said this dip reminded him of home. A good recommendation. (recipe from friend Jeannie)

This past week was very productive in the kitchen. Made and canned strawberry preserves; blueberry-pineapple dessert topping; bread-and-butter pickles; and spices pickled beets. I like doing it: makes me feel like one of the pioneer women my ancestors were.

A Troll in the Refrigerator

Ugly and demented, the unseen troll who must live nearby targeted my house last week, using his malevolent powers to make our refrigerator's shelves topple one upon the other, squshing half a lemon pie and upsetting a stack of leftovers. The thingies that support the shelves broke.

Off to the nearest store, 15 miles away, husband D. and I go. Gotta' have a frig and freezer. Heck, we had strawberry sherbet (delicious) in the freezer. Certainly couldn't let that Southern delicacy thaw and ruin.

Arrived at an appliance store. Found the style we liked. Talked to young man on sales floor. Said young man: "This style comes in several colors. Which would you like?"

I: "Certainly not harvest gold again."

He: "Huh? Harvest gold? I don't know that style."

I: "It's a color. You know, like avocado green."

He: "Huh?"

As I thought about those two enormously popular colors , I realized they reflected a life style of perky young housewives in bright red lipstick, below-the-knee-dresses and standing erectly in their spike heels as they happily mopped their kitchen floor. That's what the advertisers showed.

Remember those ads? Who were those women able to take time from kitchen mopping to have their pictures taken for the popular womens' magazine of the day? Working in high heels? Huh?

My harvest gold refrigerator will be delegated to other duties as soon as D. finishes his carpentry work. The new one, about two inches taller than old harvest gold, must fit in a cabinet space designed for the hot model of 32 years ago. Tearing out a kitchen cabinet and rebuilding it will take a few days. Just enough time for my new double door white refrigerator to arrive.

Believe I'll dress up, get the mop out, and have D. take my picture as I mop my kitchen. That'll be a new picture for our new fridge door.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tomatoes Straight from the Garden? Seconds, please!

Cold, sliced or chunked, beautifully orange-red and roundly plump. Makes a Southern mouth water.
Yep, first of summer's tomatoes. In a salad dressing so good you'll drink the left-overs out of the jar when no one is looking!

Think early evening backyard get-togethers with long-time friends laughing and swapping tales; magaritas and beer or bourbon with branch water; steaks and marinated shrimp on one end of the grill, unshucked corn and skewered mushrooms and onions on the other end. Think the children at home with a teenaged babysitter, pizza, and Disney movies. Oh, yeah.

Now. About the dressing: I call it "Frances' Superb French Dressing" for the family friend, Frances "Red" Taylor of Como, Mississippi, who brought it over to my Mama's house as a "little summertime pick-me-up" when my Mama was ill. The just-a-teeny-bit-sweet dressing on tomatoes may not cure ills, but it does produce moans of palate pleasure. Here's the recipe:

Frances' Superb French Dressing
2 cups oil
1 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tab. salt
4 Tab. sugar
1 small onion, grated
dash pepper
Combine all ingredients except oil in blender. Add oil then blend again for a few seconds.
Makes 1 quart. Keeps indefinitely in refrigerator.
Delicious over freshly sliced tomatoes, cucumbers or onion slices. (Can be drunk straight from the quart jar!)

This recipe was included in High Cotton Cooking, a cookbook edited on my dining room table some years ago to benefit a local school. The book has gone through six printings, sold more than 25,000 copies, and includes back-home, like-Mama-made recipes. Extra features are extensive sections on breads and preserving section.The 348-page book is still in print and sells for $25 plus $5 s/h. It's a good buy.

Recipes soon: Mississippi Tomato Aspic? Dede's Fig Preserves? Quick Cranberry Nut Bread?
Blueberry-pineapple Preserves? Decisions, decisions.

To buy a cookbook, contact averydear aka:
Grace Henderson
PO Box 727
Marvell AR 72366

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cute Pests? the other side of the story...

Some years ago I was miffed at my neighbor for trapping the dear little squirrels that lived in the biggest oak tree in my back yard. After the three or four squirrels sped into his yard for a tasty pecan treat, they came back home (to me, of course) to enjoy their dinner in the safety of my sanctuary. Precious things. How could the neighbor, who has a pecan orchard for Pete's sake, miss a few pecans.? Shame on that mean old neighbor.

I am a gardener, happy when my hands are in the dirt, my shoes muddy and the caladiums opening and swaying in a gentle breeze. The caladiums last summer were magnificent, eliciting praise for their beauty from passersby. They framed our rambling front porch and were my garden's eye candy. So, naturally, I sorted them by color before the Fall's first frost and kept them in mesh bags in a dark closet. Those bulging bags were the promise of future beauty.

After a month of rain in early Spring and my being out of town for three weeks after the rain, I heard the caladiums begging to fulfill their destiny in the dirt, not in the closet. I hoped they would thrive even being planted several weeks later than the optimum time, so I spent a day pulling up the detrius of fall and winter in the flower beds. I cheerfully and eagerly made soft beds for the now sprouting bulbs, watered them in gently. I had really done a fine job, I thought.

Two days later, I inspected my fine job and saw that the precious squirrels had dug up and chewed up nearly every bulb. Nearly all the fifty or more that I'd tended so gently. Add to that a pesky mole had done a real number in the lawn, but this is not a mole story.

Retribution is swift. I am looking for a squirrel trap.

However. The squirrels also like corn. Had I considered the needs of other animals that live in and around this yard and kept the corn feeder filled, perhaps my caladiums would be pushing up today.

. Karma.