Have you ever wished there was a simple way to do a simple thing and found out later there was? Well, here are a few simple ways to do a few things
The week before Halloween was always exciting. There were pumpkins to be carved and costumes to be found. As Halloween drew near my Dad would get the pumpkins and start his carving and my Mom would look for things to put together for a costume.
Somehow, every year I became a witch and my best friend, Gilbert, became a ghost. Mom would dress me in one of her old skirts that would go to the floor on me, add an old shawl that Grandmother no longer used and put a witch hat on my head. As for Gilbert, his Mom would cut a hole in the center of a white worn out table cloth and a pillow case with cut out holes for his eyes and mouth on hid head That was it, we were ready. People in those days did not buy costumes.
Every year it was the job of one of the parents to hold a party at their house at the end of Trick or Treating. That year it was to be at my house.
The gang, as my Dad called us, would start out just as the Sun set. Pumpkins glowed from every house and soon it would be very dark. Standing on each corner was a parent. Their job was to make sure we were all together. At the end, we would go to my house for cake, punch and candied apples.
My Mom made her own caramel by using 2 cups of white sugar. 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter and 1 cup of heavy cream. She heated it slowly in a heavy pot until it browned and became thick. Years later when my sons would bring home their gang, I would make candied apples the easy way.
Caramel Candied Apples (1972)
Use Granny Smith, Macintosh or any firm apple you like. Wash apples in warm water to remove wax. Put apples in your refrigerator for 8 hours. Buy a 14 oz bag of Caramels and some pop sickle sticks. Put wax paper on a cookie sheet and you are ready to candy your apples.
Remove wrappers from caramels (give this job to your children)
Put a stick in the top center of each apple.
Put caramels in an 8 cup microwavable bowl and heat for 3 minutes - checking after 1.5 minutes to see if it is stirable, but not hot.
Dip each apple in caramel and place on the cookie sheet.
Add sprinkles or salt to the top of the apples, if desired.
Halloween is a scary good time and candied apples make it even better !
Every Fall when the pecan tree began to drop its nuts, I knew it would not be long before Moma would be making her pecan pumpkin cookies. Right after school we would grab a bucket ( big one for Moma and a small one for me) and search the ground for newly fallen nuts. The wind would be blowing and the nuts would be falling. It was a fun time. To me, a seven-year-old, it seemed the leaves were dancing and I was caught up in a whirlwind. Moma and I would laugh and talk and she would hug me. Those were wonderful afternoons.
Once the pecans were gathered, we would take them into the house to be shelled and chopped. 'Now,' Moma would say, 'let's make some cookies.' And I would shout 'yes.' As the years passed when my sons would go to see Moma in the Fall, she would take them out to the pecan tree to gather nuts and later make cookies. This is her recipe:
Pecan Pumpkin Cookies ( 1948)
2 eggs beaten
1/2 butter (or margarine)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (or can pumpkin)
2 1/2 cups flour (Gold Medal all purpose)
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon soda powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pecan pieces
If you do not want to use pecans, you can use raisins or a 1/2 cup of each.
Preheat oven 375 degrees
Spray or grease 2 cookie sheets
Mix butter, sugar and beaten eggs together until smooth
Add remaining ingredients and blend well
Fold in pecans or raisins or both depending on what you want
Drop dough by tablespoons about 2 inches apart
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until set
Moma baked one cookie sheet at a time and when they were cool, if not eaten, the remaining cookies were stored in her favourite cookie jar, a fat little pig!
On the second weekend in October, I sat on the back steps with my Grandfather and talked about the coming of Winter. There was a chill in the air and I button up my sweater. 'You cold, honey?' Grandfather said. 'A little,' I admitted. 'Well, that's the work of Jack Frost,' he said. 'Who?'
'With long icy fingers, he touches the branches of every tree turning their leaves to colors of gold and orange and then Jack calls the wind to change into a chill,' he said.
As a child, I could just see Jack Frost... a small man dressed in dark green with a pointed nose and long icy fingers. In my mind's eye, I could see he had ice dripping from his green jacket and wore a pointed crooked hat.
'Have you ever seen him?' I asked. 'No,' Grandfather said. 'He works at night.' Dismissing my questions Grandfather said, 'There will be frost on the pumpkins in the morning and if you want pumpkin pancakes for your breakfast we need to get going.' So out to the field, we went to pick a sugar pumpkin
Now, back in the kitchen, my Grandmother waited for us to bring in the pumpkin. 'What have you two been doing.' she asked? Then looking at my Grandfather she said , ' telling tall Irish tales?' 'Oh, no, we were talking about Jack Frost,' I answered.
Taking the pumpkin Grandmother cut it in half cleaning out the pumpkin halves. Then placing them half side down on a cookie sheet to bake to make pumpkin puree. In the morning she would make pumpkin pancakes. Oh, so good with spiced honey.
Today, I still make pumpkin pancakes always on the second weekend in October, but I do it the easy way. Let me tell you how:
Cut one sugar pumpkin in half. Remove stem and clean out pulp and seeds.
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Cover pumpkin halves with foil. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until tender.
Scrape out pumpkin meat and put in a blender and blend until smooth.
Puree may be put in jars and frozen for later use.
I like to use Bisquick Pancake and Baking Mix.
1 large egg beaten.
1 1/4 cup milk.
2 cups baking mix.
1/2 cup puree.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice.
Mix well by hand. Batter will be thick.
Use butter, oil of your choice or cooking spray on frying pan or griddle.
Heat frying pan or griddle to medium heat. Use 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Batter will make about 14 pancakes or 8 very large pancakes. Serve with butter and spiced honey.
To make spiced honey:
Add 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice to 1 cup of honey. Use on pancakes , toast, ice cream or on just about anything you want to add a taste of goodness.
Make some pancakes this weekend and celebrate the start of Fall - a beautiful time of the year!
I've always been told that the end of Summer has the best salads. Plants produce more as if they know Winter is coming.
So, gather your tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions and make a beautiful, easy, quick salad to celebrate the end the Summer and say, 'Hello, Fall'.
2 ready to eat tomatoes
2 peeled cucumbers
Cut produce to the size you like. Add fresh or dried herbs plus equal amounts of oil and apple cider vinegar. Or use House Italian salad dressing plus cracked black pepper and salt to taste.
For a great taste change, add avocados and leave the skin on the cucumbers.
Everyone always loved her beets my Grandmother said, as I stood in her kitchen trying to open a quart size jar of pickled beets. Who, I asked? Just about anyone who ever ate one, she said.
For years, I had seen my Grandmother pull beets from her garden. Cook them long enough in boiling water to make the skin easy to rub off. Set the beets aside to cool and mix sugar and vinegar in a large pot.
As the story goes Grandmother was taught how to pickle beets by her Grandmother who was taught by her Grandmother. So, that takes us back to about 1877. If the bible records are right.
Today, I pickle beets for our store, Yesteryear Country Store. We never have enough so we take orders year round. I use Grandmother's recipe and here it is:
Use canned whole beets unless you have grown some. Have sugar and vinegar on hand, plus clean quart jars that have been in boiling water for 10 minutes or more. Now, for our store, we process our beets for 29 minutes in a steam canner. But, you can make your pickled beets whenever you want them or make three or four jars at a time storing them in your refrigerator unopened for three or four weeks.
To make you will need:
5 cans of beets to make 2-quart jars of pickled beets.
3 cups white sugar.
3 cups white vinegar.
Dran beets and set aside. Mix sugar and vinegar in a glass or stainless steel pot. Bring mixture to a slow boil. Stir the mixture until you feel a slight thicken resistance to the spoon. Put beets into the jars and pour the mixture over them. Add lids. Let cool and refrigerator over-night before serving.
If you want to add whole onions to your beets - use small or about the same size onions.
Peel and add the onions to the mixture just before the mixture starts to thicken. Repeat the above steps. You will, however, need more jars.
If you are not adding onions to your jars and use only beets you can save the jar juice to make pickled eggs. Just, add boiled eggs to the juice and let them sit in the refrigerator. It will take about 3 days for the eggs to pickle.
When we were children we loved to color. Now, as adults, we have started coloring all over again. You can find 'grown up' coloring books everywhere you look and coloring is fun again. It also helps with stress.
Below are two very adult coloring pages that are perfect for those who love birds. And you can get more by going to the 'Cornell Lab of Ornithology' page. Their coloring pages are free and you can learn a lot about birds.
Below is a pair of Humming Birds and a Belted Kingfisher. Get out your colors and get rid of that stress!
There is more to raw honey than just a good taste. It contains 27 minerals, 22 amino acids and 5,000 live enzymes that will keep you healthy. Honey is antibacterial and a boost to the immune system. What makes raw honey so good? It's simple ... it's pure, unheated and unprocessed so you get all of its vitamins and you can rid yourself of sugar.
One easy way to use raw honey instead of sugar is to make infusion concoctions. Below are some of the best of the best.... easy and fast ! All infusions start with one cup of honey and 1 Tbsp of whatever you want to use in your concoction.
Cloves for glazing ham. Pour over, add pineapple slices and bake.
Mint for lemonade and tea. Just add ice.
Garlic for baking chicken. Lemon slices can be added on top and bake.
Cinnamon for baked goods.... biscuits, toast, pancakes and more.
Lemon peel for baking or barbequing pork chops just spread it on.
Vanilla for adding to a glass of warm milk as a sleep aid.
Apple pie spice for baking apples. Core out the center and put a spoonful in.
Ginger for cereal, baked goods and glazing baked carrots. Add in the last 30 minutes.
Orange peel for hot or cold tea. Just add to taste.
Jalapeno for marinades and steamed vegetables.
Pumpkin Pie Spice for topping pancakes.
Give one a try or better yet, think up a new ones and we will add it to our list ! email@example.com
Our beautiful sweet Ty loves sunflowers and loves going into a sunflower field. When no one is looking she likes to pick one or two. Folks all over the world love these great big beautiful beauties. So, too, do the birds.
Right now is the time to gather your sunflowers before the bird's feast on them. The key is to know when they are ready:
1) Are the flowers starting to drop?
2) Are the fuzzy florets easy to rub off?
3) Are the birds around all the time?
If you answered yes to 2 of the 3 questions - it's time to cut the sunflowers.
Now, the question is what do you want to do Save seeds for the birds or roast them to snack on during the long Winter. Well, lets do both.
Harvesting and drying sunflowers:
Cut sunflowers off close to the stem and dry off. You can put them in a paper bag in a warm spot in your home and let them dry on their own. However, I prefer to dry my seeds in the oven. If you want to do that here's how:
1) Rub off florets.
2) Push off seeds. Thumbs work well.
3) Put seeds on a cookie sheet and bake in a 70-degree oven for 2 hours. Leave in the oven for 6 hours or overnight to cool.
Your seeds should be dry, if not repeat. Seeds can be stored in an airtight container and are perfect for your bird feeder.
But, if you want to roast some for eating - here's how.
1) In a good size pot add 1/4 cup of salt to 1-quart of water. You will need to repeat the amount until you have enough to cover all of your seeds.
2) Soak over night. Use a plate to hold the seeds down.
3) Rinse, drain off, and pat dry with a dish cloth.
4) Place seeds on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.
5) Cool and enjoy!
The end of Summer can be a wonderful fun time if you have sunflowers !
Today, I was looking for something different to add to our supper. I had pulled a number of beets from our garden and they were just sitting on the counter looking at me. Then it came to me, I should make Grandma's Italian Beet Salad.
Grandma would wash the beets, boil then, remove the skins and slice them. She would slice onions and layer beets and onions together. To this she would add a mixture of Italian herbs from her garden, olive oil, and vinegar. Now, Grandma would put her salad in the refrigerator to let it rest.
But, today, if you have not grown beets and don't have a herb garden here's a quick and simple way to make this delicious salad.
2 cans sliced Beets
2 med sized yellow or white onions
1 bottle Italian Wish Bome Salad dressing
In a medium size bowl place well drained beets one layer at a time over sliced onions. One layer beets, one layer onions. Add salad dressing over each layer. Place bowl in your refrigerator for about 6 hours. Can be eaten for up to 2 days after making the salad. Enjoy !
Deep South southern gal from Louisiana now living in Kentucky. Wrote for a weekly newspaper while raising two sons. Now, a Grandmother, a shopkeeper, a backyard birder and somewhat gardener. it's time to write again.