Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sisterhood Of The Traveling Cake


Things around here will be different for a while. Baby Sister and her family will be staying here at the farm for much of the summer. Our days will be more devoted to play than other things.

And that is just fine with us! It's been a long time since there has been a rock collection (completely made of gravel) that has had an important place in this house.

And in the mornings, we now must be careful and watch where we step. 

But in the days just before my trip out to visit in the midwest, I made a pound cake that was requested by Jessica. I put it in the freezer until I got back. Then I delivered it to her in Atlanta, the day before Baby Sister and family arrived at the farm. The cake was for a special Memorial Day weekend in Alabama. That cake traveled through three states before it was cut!

Yesterday I got the photo and this message. So glad the cake made it to its destination and they enjoyed it. After all of the traveling, I was keeping my fingers crossed that they liked this high mileage cake.

Here is the recipe. It is the one that my Aunt Betty made for years for all of our family gatherings. She's been gone for many years now, but I think about her and smile every time I bake this cake. I love recipes that are so filled with memories.


1/2 lb butter (2 sticks), softened
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cocoa 
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cream butter and shortening. Add sugar and cream together well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg. Put flour into a bowl and add baking powder and salt. Sift the cocoa into the flour mixture and whisk all of these dry ingredients together. (Or sift all of the dry ingredients together.)
Add dry ingredients alternately with milk to butter/sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Add vanilla.
Bake in a greased and floured tube pan for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Let cool in pan for about 15 minutes before turning out.

Friday, May 24, 2013

What A Week!

What a week! I was in the midwest, way too close to the tornado activity during the first part of the week. Flew home on Tuesday, then turned around and drove to Atlanta yesterday to deliver a couple of things to Jessica. She and her friend took me to dinner last night at a vegan restaurant. I forget that if you live in the city, you have lots of choices.

Here on the farm, it's often easier to cook than drive to get dinner. I had seen this recipe on a favorite blog (EatAtHomeCooks.com) and truthfully, thought it sounded too easy to be as good as she said. But as busy as I was today, it was worth a try.

She was right. Three ingredients. Easy. Delicious. It's a keeper recipe! The house smelled so good while it was cooking. Daddy-O loved it. He said the sauce was good but not overwhelming, not too sweet. It was just right. We had an entire "comfort food" supper tonight.

By tomorrow night, Baby Sister and her family will be here at the farm. All she talked about when I was out there was driving the tractor. I know Daddy-O could use a little help baling hay. But I'm not sure he needs a helper that hasn't turned three yet! I'm sure she will get a turn at "driving" it, though.


2-3 lbs pork chops (with or without bone)
14-oz. can jellied cranberry sauce
12-oz. bottle chili sauce

Place pork chops in slow cooker.
Empty cranberry sauce into a bowl and microwave for 20 seconds at a time to melt it enough to combine with chili sauce. (It took mine about 60 seconds total.)
Stir cranberry sauce and chili sauce together.
Pour over pork chops.
Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH for 5-6 hours.

I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from Atlanta and put this in the slow cooker minutes after I got home. (Cooked it on HIGH this time.) That gave me time to tackle my list of chores for the rest of the afternoon. When Daddy-O came in from cutting hay all day, it was ready. I made mashed potatoes and just opened a can of peas. Glad to have another easy recipe in my book.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Trucks, Tastes, & Tents

How wonderful to have some family time! This trip included a visit to "Touch-A-Truck" where a gazillion small children were checking out every imaginable kind of vehicle up close. Baby Sister did not like the loud horns that were constantly honking. But when she saw the giant chicken it was another story. She headed straight to the chicken to give him a hug.

Across the road was a "birthday bash expo" where you could check everyone who had a product or service to sell or hire for a children's party. There were pony rides, camel rides, bounce houses, clowns, and magicians. And there were many treats to taste.

After a busy morning, a nap was in order. Baby Sister made herself a bed, laid down for a few seconds, hopped up and said, " I feel better." The real nap came later.

But what was Baby Sister most excited about this weekend? Dinner in a tent! Time I got off the plane I heard, "We're eating dinner in a tent today!" No, not today. After the trucks on Saturday, "We get to eat in a tent today." No, not today. But after church on Sunday we DID have our dinner in a tent. I doubt anyone at their church was more excited about that dinner.

During church Big Sister (who managed to dodge my camera all weekend) played in a drum circle during the morning service. So good to get to hear that.

Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the weather does not interfere with my travel tomorrow. I should be home for dinner.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, May 17, 2013

Heading Out

The plane leaves just after lunch today. I'm headed to see this sweet face—and the rest of the family, too! Baby Sister is wearing her "Daddy-O hat." That's what she calls it. If you look on the sidebar, down below the quotes and the blog roll, you'll see a few photos and in the last one Baby Sister is wearing the real Daddy-O hat—one of his work hats. Funny that she remembers it from months ago. When she got her own straw hat, she said it was her "Daddy-O hat."

I had a nice note from Big Sister today. I had mailed her some yarn and needles for a new knitting project that we'll work on while I'm there. She told me that she had some shirts that need mending, too, so maybe I could teach her to sew while I'm visiting. Sounds like we will have a full few days.

Daddy-O will stay home and keep things going here. It's a busy time of the year on the farm. It's a beautiful time of year, too. He has lots to do. And I'll be back in a jiffy. He will hardly know I'm gone. I've left an assortment of homemade ice creams for him to enjoy while I'm away.

Strawberry Ice Cream

And yes, I couldn't resist. I made strawberry ice cream last night. I've made enough for now. But goodness, it's been delicious! (Check yesterday's post for the recipe.)

Guess I should get up and go pack.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

We All Scream For Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream

I grew up in a household where making ice cream was a regular activity. When I was small, it was in a hand cranked churn that required a child to sit on it to hold it steady as a grown-up turned the handle. Then a few years down the road, we got an electric churn. It still took lots of crushed ice and ice cream salt. But all that mess never bothered my parents. They made ice cream of every flavor imaginable—peanut butter being one of the more memorable ones. And I seem to remember orange sherbert that used only orange soda and crushed pineapple once. 

Well, I still enjoy homemade ice cream but I like the small ice cream maker that uses a frozen container to freeze the ingredients, not ice and salt. No muss. No fuss. This only makes 1-1/2 quarts of frozen goodness. Daddy always used a 5-quart churn. My smaller version just means I can make ice cream more often. I'm betting there are lots of these machines stuck on a shelf somewhere. It's so easy and quick to use it. Get it out, dust it off and make your favorite flavor. 

Banana Ice Cream

We enjoyed having Jessica and her friend here for Mother's Day weekend. I heard he liked ice cream, so vanilla ice cream was our dessert. And then since I had all of the ingredients on hand, I made another churn of banana ice cream last night. That is Daddy-O's favorite flavor.

I'm giving you the small version of the recipe my parents made for years. I also substituted Egg Beaters—a pasteurized egg product—for raw eggs. I am not brave enough to use raw eggs any more, although I surely ate my share in ice cream when I was growing up. According to the FDA, the pasteurized eggs are a safer choice.

The ice cream I grew up with was made with evaporated milk instead of heavy cream. Well, the heavy cream version is probably richer and creamier, but I wanted this to taste like what I grew up with. To me, this is what homemade ice cream should taste like.

Before you start, chill the can of evaporated milk in the refrigerator, so all ingredients will be cold when you start. You will have a total of 3 cups of milk when you combine the whole milk and the canned milk.


1 cup whole milk
1 large (12-oz) can evaporated milk, plus enough whole milk to fill a 2-cup measure
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup Egg Beaters
1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients, being sure to stir enough to completely dissolve sugar. I used a wire whisk. Freeze according to your ice cream maker instructions.


1 cup whole milk
1 large (12-oz) can evaporated milk, plus enough whole milk to fill a 2-cup measure 
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup Egg Beaters
1-1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large (or 2 small) ripe bananas, mashed well

Mix first 5 ingredients, being sure to dissolve sugar completely. Stir in mashed bananas. Freeze according to your ice cream maker instructions.


1 cup whole milk
1 large (12-oz)  can evaporated milk, plus enough whole milk to fill a 2-cup measure 
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup Egg Beaters
1-1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup cut-up strawberries or soft ripe peaches, sweetened with 2 tbsp. sugar

Mix first 5 ingredients, being sure to dissolve sugar completely. Stir in cut-up fruit. Sometimes I use an immersion blender at this point to mix it well. Freeze according to your ice cream maker instructions.

I still have some whole milk and Egg Beaters left. Maybe I should hurry up and make strawberry ice cream before the week is over. That would get me close to the 5 quarts that Daddy always made—just in three different flavors!

Understand that ice cream in this maker is very soft when done. Both ice creams photographed had been put in the freezer first. It tastes good soft when it's first made and it tastes good firm when it comes from the freezer later.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Where Do You Find Your Recipes?

Where do you get your recipes? I remember my mother writing lots of recipes down on whatever piece of paper was handy—backs of envelopes, the reverse side of deposit slips, etc. She would get recipes from friends. She would copy them from magazines and the newspaper. 

I was an avid cookbook purchaser. (Still buy one every now and then.) And I started watching cooking shows when Julia Childs was on and would try to write down the recipes as someone cooked on television. But as computers found their way into every home, recipes were easy to find online from magazines and the FoodNetwork site. Then came blogs with their endless stream of recipes. Next was Pinterest with gazillions of recipes pinned to boards. And in the last couple of months, Facebook has been overloaded with recipes that ask you to "share" to save them. Pretty sure we are all in recipe overload. 

But every now and then, a particular recipe will catch my eye. We love pork tenderloin and have cooked it many ways. Our all-time favorite is the bourbon marinated tenderloin, cooked on the grill. But yesterday I thought this slow cooker version was worth a try because it fit into my day better—and I had all the ingredients on hand. Daddy-O was out on the tractor until supper time. I was busy with other things all day. So here is the recipe I saw on Facebook. It was easy and good enough to make again. 


2 pounds of pork tenderloins (the package I find at my store is about this size & holds 2 tenderloins)
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used low-sodium)
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
2-3 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon diced onion
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic salt

Put tenderloins in the crockpot. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over tenderloins. Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours.

I had planned to make mashed potatoes to go with it. But discovered right before dinner time that I was out of potatoes. Cheese grits made a good side dish instead. I kind of-sort of followed these directions. The grits were really good. I will make these again soon

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Make Hay While The Sun Shines

The rains have passed and the sun has come out. All those years growing up I heard the saying "make hay while the sun shines." And then I married someone who knew it wasn't a saying---it is truth. So yesterday while the sun was shining gloriously, Daddy-O was out cutting hay. (Yes, he is being careful with his bandaged hand. The stitches come out tomorrow.)

Freshly cut hay smells so sweet. He does all the work and I just enjoy the pleasant parts. I hate to admit that while he was out working hard, I was inside practicing music. I'm working on a couple of mandolin pieces for a school program that happens in a couple of weeks. Practicing is work too, but not the dirty sweaty kind. Still, it kept me out of the kitchen for much of the afternoon. Luckily, I had something in the freezer I could pull out for supper—Pepperoncini Beef. And I had baked a couple of extra potatoes over the weekend that I turned into home fries.

I have posted this recipe before and we really liked it. Now, I can tell you for certain that it does freeze well. I thought it would, but last night's supper was proof. It was just as good as the first time. I used sandwich thins last night instead of buns, but still added the provolone cheese. This beef recipe has quite a bite because of the pepperoncinis. The bread and the cheese help balance out the spicy flavor. 


1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 lb beef roast, trimmed of excess fat
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 16-oz. jar sliced pepperoncinis, undrained
crusty sandwich rolls
sliced Provolone cheese

Heat oil in a pot or high-sided skillet over high heat. While the oil is heating, combine the salt and pepper and rub it into the meat. Add more if necessary.

When the oil is hot, sear the roast on all sides so the outsides are browned and a little crispy.

Transfer the roast to a slow cooker and add the minced garlic and the entire jar of pepperoncinis (along with juice.)
Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, or until the beef is fork tender.
Drain and shred. Keep the peppers!

Toast buns. Pile drained, shredded meat on bottom bun and top with cheese. Put back under broiler just long enough to melt the cheese. 

To make the home fries, dice a small--medium onion (I used half a small onion for one large baked potato.) Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large skillet. When it's hot, add the onion and saute until it begins to get tender. Peel the cold baked potatoes and cut into small chunks. Add the potatoes to the skillet, season with salt and pepper (I used *House Seasoning) and cook over medium to low heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown and get crusty and are heated through. Don't stir too much, or they will never get to the crusty brown stage--and that's the good part!

*House seasoning:  Mix 1/4 cup salt, 1 tbsp. black pepper & 1 tbsp. garlic powder. Store in an air-tight container, such as an empty spice bottle.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Impossible Pie

After last weekend's deluge, we didn't know what kind of weather to expect for Mother's Day. But maybe as a "please forgive me" from mother nature, we had a few days of perfection. When the weather is right, the screened porch is my favorite spot anywhere. It's even better when I get to share it with family. Glad I had part of my brood home for a visit.

I spent more time enjoying family than I did making pictures to share here, but I did manage to get this single photo from the weekend's cooking. I had wanted to try this recipe for a few weeks. This busy weekend was a good time to make it. I have made many "impossible pies" over the years but not a coconut one. It was delicious. And so, so easy.

...magically makes it's own crust!
1/2 cup Bisquick
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cup milk
1 cup flaked coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter, softened

Combine all ingredients and pour into 9-inch greased pie pan. 
Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until custard sets. 
Like magic it layers into crust, custard, coconut topping. Cool.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Water, Water Everywhere

Five inches of rain in three days. That was our weekend. That's an incredible amount of water. This morning when the sun finally came out, we got to see some of the results of all this water.

It has been quite a while since we've seen the river this high. The river banks are down there somewhere. Way down there. Under all that water.

And there was some real damage in town. The weight of the water cause the roof of this building on Main St. to cave in. The "We Are Open" sign survived, but they won't be open for a long time.

But today the sun was out and things had a chance to dry out a bit. Before more rain arrives tomorrow. Like everyone else, we tried to get some things done outside during this break in the weather. Daddy-O managed to get a lot done—considering he was working with only one hand. Bless him.

When I came in tonight, my first thought for supper was spaghetti. But I didn't have any spaghetti sauce in the freezer, or even a jar of marinara sauce on hand. Frankly, I didn't have much of anything that I was looking for. But there is always something you can make. This was my "no recipe" supper. Here's what I did:

Put the pot of water for the pasta on to boil first. That takes longer than anything else. While the water heats, chop 1/2 of a large onion. Then heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the chopped onion, 1/2 cup of chopped green pepper from the freezer, and 1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic from a jar. Saute that until the onion is translucent. Stir in a 14.5-oz. can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Cover and let simmer until the spaghetti is cooked. 

While the water was still heating, I quickly made two simple salads. By now the water was boiling. I used 1/3 of a box of whole wheat thin spaghetti (4 oz.) I broke the uncooked spaghetti in half before adding it to the boiling water. Then I made garlic toast while the spaghetti was cooking. 

When the spaghetti was done, I drained it and stirred the spaghetti into the tomato sauce in the skillet. (Add a little of the cooking water to the sauce should it be too thick.) I topped it with a little shaved parmesan.  Serves 2-3

Daddy-O declared this, "Good—really good!" He said that and it didn't have any meat in it! I think it was the fire roasted crushed tomatoes that made this work. The consistency of the tomato sauce was thick and rich. It was one of those "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" meals. Nothing I used was very special, but the end result was so good. Not sure that I'll want that jar of marinara next time. This was better.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Week That Was


What a week! It's the kind where you struggle to get vegetables and other healthy foods into your diet. The kind where you struggle to get anything cooked at home. You have those, too, I'll bet. That's when you need a good, easy, dependable recipe at your finger tips.

Our week included, among many other things, a hospital morning and a surgery that has left Daddy-O home resting and on the mend. 

And our ukulele band was booked months ago to play at an outdoor event for our local cowboy church. No one involved had a clue it would be freezing and rainy when we agreed to do this on the first Saturday in May. But the show must go on. It was fun—even if the wind was blowing the music all around!

So I'll claim a successful week in the kitchen just because I managed to cook anything at all. Last night's dinner was best. I pulled a Balsamic Strawberry Pork Tenderloin from the freezer and made roasted vegetables—one of our favorite recipes. (The tenderloin was as good as the first time.)

I'll give you the actual recipe, but understand that you can use most any combination of vegetables you have on hand. I love adding broccoli to the mix. It gets crispy and brown and has a very different flavor than steamed broccoli. I had no peppers last night, but red onion gave the mix some color. This time I used zucchini, broccoli, asparagus and red onion. 


1 medium zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium yellow squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 yellow or green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 red onion, cut into wedges
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over. Stir gently to coat vegetables with oil. Spread vegetables in a single layer in a large cookie sheet with sides. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender. (I usually stir once halfway through, making sure to flip zucchini and squash slices over.)

Serves 4

A couple of tips...the vegetables shrink when they are cooked. A very full pan will be the right amount when it's done. I sometimes line the pan with foil for easy clean up. But DON'T USE NON-STICK FOIL!!!  Learned the hard way that vegetables roasted on non-stick foil will never brown; they just steam. Just not a good result. And I've found that if use less vegetables (which I do sometimes for the two of us), it will cook a little quicker. Guess it's because the pan isn't as crowded. So keep an eye on them.

Do I ever actually measure any of this? Not anymore. You just want enough oil to coat the vegetables and not have them swimming in it. Sometimes I use less oil and spray the pan with PAM. But I DO pull this recipe out nearly every time to check the cooking temperature and time.