Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Traditions

Do we all have Thanksgiving traditions? Probably most such would include returning to a family setting that involved our childhood. In my case, my childhood Thanksgivings were not necessarily a big holiday event, but nonetheless celebrated with a special meal. We didn't buy turkeys, but I think probably a couple of times my folks chose to dress the old gobblers that were such pests whenever anyone was outside Other than that, fat, range-fed hens were plentiful, and my mother made the very best dressing to go along with that. We have not missed many Thanksgivings going back to that setting.

After my parents' passing, we continue to go back, have a marvelous feast, and the required walk in the woods before dessert. This year the leaves were so beautiful. I particularly noticed the black gum and hickory trees. Because of my renewed interest in composting, I was overwhelmed by the acres of fallen leaves that covered an already abundance of woods leaves, which I think we called leaf mold. I must be either compulsive or greedy, but I could just envision raking and hauling away that entire area to be spread over a garden. The not-too-easy access and the miles between where I am to there saved the day and my husband's patience. (I have more leaves and pine straw now on my own acre than I can take care of!)

Food was plentiful, but now back to the lifestyle change we are trying to stay loyal to, seeing as how we are both facing that annual physical exam and hoping that cholesterol level is still within normal range. The recipes I have been posting might not reflect that, but it may be a way I have of remembering good stuff without having to necessarily produce it. Memories might be a good way to handle that.



1 can blueberries, drained
1 pkg vanilla instant pudding
1 box yellow cake mix
¾ c. (scant) oil
4 eggs
One 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all dry ingredients. Add oil, eggs slightly beaten, cream cheese (room temperature), and vanilla. Fold in drained blueberries.

Pour into well greased bundt or tube pan. Bake at 350 deg for 45 to 60 min.

This recipe from a friend is such a winner. I like to keep the history of recipes as well as flowers, shrubs, etc. This cake is very easy to make but simply delicious. If you need a food gift for someone that won't break the bank, this is sure to please. Try it, you'll like it!

Speaking of history, this same special friend shared a start of trillium from her woods where it was so prolific. That was 22 years ago, and that has thrived all that time under an old apple tree in our back yard. This past spring after the most abundant blossoms I think that old tree had ever had, it sucumbed to the freeze and subsequent heat/drought. Sadly, the tree has to go, but what to do with the trillium? It must be shady, I think. That is one of the first signs of spring that we notice, and when it starts blooming, we make a spectacle out of it!

Anyway, do you have things that are reminders of special events or friends? This particular event, alone, digging in the woods, was to somehow fill an afternoon that I was not at work to do something to handle the sudden and shocking loss that week of my mother. I didn't want to be alone necessarily but I didn't want to have to cope with talking to people, my husband was at work, the office where I worked was closed on Wednesday afternoons, so I called this special friend and asked her if I could just show up and dig plants from her woods. I got dogwood, redbud and trillium. The redbud lasted about 15 years, the dogwood didn't like being transplanted, but the trillium has flourished. It is one of my treasures and I do not want to lose it. I will ponder what to do until I research its nature.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Southern Sweet Tea with SPLENDA

Makes about 6 (6 fl oz) servings. Prep time: 5 min. Steep time: 10 min.

3 cups water
2 family-size tea bags OR 3 or 4 regular-size tea bags
SPLENDA No Calorie Sweetener, granulated, to taste. (I use only 1/4 cup. I don't like really sweet tea. I recommend sweetening to taste.)
2 cups water
Optional: 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Garnish: mint sprigs and lemon slices

1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil. Pour over tea bags; cover and steep 10 min. Remove and discard tea bags, squeezing gently.
2. Stir SPLENDA Granulated Sweetener into tea. Add 2 cups water; serve over crushed ice. Add lemon juice and garnish if desired.

Calories: 15

I have made this, and it is good. I could never remember how to make consistently good tea, but I think this is it. I copied this off the bag of SPLENDA Sweetener, by the way, and give them full credit. I don't see any disclaimer anywhere about sharing it. It might help them sell SPLENDA if we do share!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mrs. Claus' Cookbook

This is the neatest thing! http//

For some reason, you have to copy and paste, but it's worth it.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Here's a quick one that is good but easy enough for kids to help.

1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups all purpose flour
pinch salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine cocoa, flour and salt. Stir into creamed mixture. Add nuts. Bake in a greased and floured 13x9-in baking pan. Bake at 375 about 20-25 minutes. Cool. cut into squares. Makes 2 1/2 dozen pieces.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Quick Breads

How about baking quick breads for gifts or spoiling your family. May be frozen easily.

3 c plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
OR 3 c self-rising flour may be substituted.
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 c sugar
3 eggs beaten
1 and 1/4 c cooking oil
1 and 1/2 c chopped pecans
Two 10-oz pkg frozen sliced strawberries, partially thawed
Sift dry ingredients together in large bowl. Mix remaining ingredients well. Add dry ingredients. Pour into greased pans (may use Bakers Joy) and bake at 350 degrees. Two large loaf pans, one hour, or five mini-loaf pans for 45 minutes. Cook in pan 10 minutes before inverting to cool. VERY good.

3 cups plain flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
OR 3 c self-rising flour may be substituted
3 eggs
1 and 1/2 c milk
2 and 1/4 c sugar
1 and 1/8 c oil
1 and 1/2 tablespoons poppy seed
1 and 1/2 teaspoons almond flavoring
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
1 and 1/2 teaspoons butter flavoring
Mix all together in mixer bowl. Mixture will be very thin. Bake 1 hr at 350 for large loaf, and bake mini loaves approximately 30 min. Test for doneness by inserting toothpick. While still in pan, drizzle with glaze. After inverting, place right side up on wax paper.
GLAZE: 1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring, 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring, 1/4 c orange juice, enough powdered sugar to make glaze the consistency you want, approx. 3/4 c or so. Lift loaf away from side of pan and let glaze run along sides into pan.

The poppy seed will look like little specks in the bread, but that's the way it's supposed to.
I plan to bake these breads for Christmas but probably will substitute Splenda. These make nice teacher gifts, friend or neighbor gifts, if they last long enough that is.

On A Recipe Kick

While I was doing the chicken dressing recipe, I ran across this old favorite of my family's (at least it was mine). I think I got it from my first Betty Crocker cookbook that I received my first Christmas with my new husband! (hint, hint) Anyway, it looks simple but it is delicious. Kids will eat it!


1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
1 can (2 1/2 cups) or 1/2 pound cooked fresh green beans, drained
1 can condensed tomato soup
5 medium potatoes, cooked
1/2 c warm milk
1 beaten egg
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350.

Cook onion in hot oil until golden. Add beef and seasonings. Brown. Drain.

Add drained beans and soup. Pour into greased 1 1/2 qt casserole.

Mash the potatoes. Add the milk, egg and seasonings. Spoon in mounds over meat mixture. Bake in moderate oven (350) until potatoes are slightly browned. Makes 6 servings.

It can be done without the potatoes. You can substitute any topping, or you may have it plain with potatoes as a side, or rice maybe?

Thanksgiving and Chicken & Dressing, Southern Style

Probably 20 years ago, in a bookstore in Tupelo, I was hurriedly browsing interesting recipe books. I had not been too successful making cornbread dressing and was always on search for a recipe I felt I could follow. I found my all-time favorite recipe for southern cornbread dressing, but I didn't think to jot down the author and name of the book, and now wish I had done that. I was in a hurry though and had only a scrap of paper in my purse, so I did some quick shorthand note taking. I didn't want to purchase the book for some stupid reason. But the recipe has survived, and I have altered it maybe just a little. It's easy. I make this every Thanksgiving but I double or triple the recipe for a crowd of hungry people.

Cornbread Chicken 'N Dressing

DO AHEAD: Bake enough cornbread to make 3 cups crumbs. Use 2 or 3 eggs when mixing batter. One could use egg substitute. Cool and crumble bread. Lightly toast, and allow to dry, enough loaf bread to make approximately 2 1/2 cups crumbs. Does not have to be brown, just dry. Crumble. Set all these crumbs aside.

Stew 1 chicken in 4 to 5 cups water. Save broth. Debone chicken and save to put in dressing if you desire, but dressing may be made without the chicken bits.

Set oven at 425 degrees.

Saute 1/4 cup chopped celery and 1 medium chopped onion in 1/2 cup melted oleo (I use either Canola oil or extra virgin olive oil) until just tender. Set aside.

In large bowl, combine bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 2 or 3 beaten eggs and enough broth to moisten. Seasoning may be adjusted to taste. Batter will end up being about texture of cake batter--important. Mix well, add chicken bits, onion and celery. Mix well. Be sure mixture is moist! Pour into greased 13 x 9 1/2 x 2-in baking dish and bake at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes. Check at about 35 minutes. The dressing should be lightly or moderately browned.

If there is leftover broth, cooked, chopped giblets, boiled egg slices, etc., along with desired thickening and seasoning may be combined and heated to be used as gravy over dressing.

One could make this recipe once to get an idea of how many it will serve. Depends on how much people like dressing and how hungry they are. Any questions about this, please ask in comments and I will try to accommodate. BTW, my favorite cornbread mix is Sunflower cornmeal mix, but if you can't find that, any self-rising cornbread mix will do, I'm sure.

My family/extended family will be getting together Thursday. I am appointed to make the dressing, and I probably will triple this recipe. I really enjoy doing this. This probably could be made ahead and frozen. Somewhere I had the directions for freezing and thawing before baking, but that seems to have disappeared! Use your own judgment there.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

November already?

Where to begin. I have taken a break from raking leaves and pinestraw, regretfully. I have so much yet to do there. We found some plastic poultry wire, I guess it is, at Wal-Mart and some plastic stakes at Lowe's, all very reasonable, and made a border for our compost. It seems to be working well but is still in progress. Most of the leaves/straw is in the garden waiting to be tilled into the soil. This is making me anxious for springtime and we have only begun our cold weather!

We started cleaning up the old veggie stalks such as tomato vines, bean vines, etc. That goes into the compost and makes cleaning up faster and easier. I found that I had about 3 gallons of green Roma tomatoes and green peppers. What to do? I could always freeze the peppers, but I guess I googled what to do with green tomatoes and read about green tomato relish. There are some good recipes on line, but I found this one in my trusty old BALL BLUE BOOK. If I give them full credit, I hope they don't mind. (I didn't find a disclaimer anywhere.)


4 quarts peeled, cored, chopped green tomatoes (about 32 medium)
2 quarts chopped cabbage (about 1 large head)
2 quarts chopped sweet green peppers (about 4 small)
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
4 1/2 cups vinegar

Sprinkle salt over vegetables and mix thoroughly; let stand 3 to 4 hours. Drain thoroughly. Press to remove free liquid. Add sugar, spices and horseradish to vinegar; simmer 15 minutes. Add vegetables and bring to a boil. Pack hot into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Adjust caps. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 7 pints

Here's my take on this: I had Roma tomatoes, which I peeled and cored and chopped. I somehow have misplaced my food grinder so I just chopped the veggies. (note to self: find that grinder!) For the cabbage, I just happened to have on hand a bag of prepared cabbage slaw. It turned out to be the right amount! How lucky for me. What I didn't notice until later and was a bit worried, but it turned to be great, was slivers of carrots. I had plenty of fresh green peppers which were chopped, and then one medium onion, chopped. What I did substitute for the regular brown sugar was 1 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend. I think I had some cider vinegar and some white distilled, so I just combined that. Then I just proceeded as directed. This did yield 7 pints. Not hard to do. I couldn't wait to taste it and proceeded about a couple of days later with fear and trepidation as I could just imagine that it would be bitter. Not so! It was tangy but what we like. I may share that with family. I do have a few tomatoes and peppers left over and may make another small batch. Wonder what would happen if one put a bit of hot peppers in for a little heat...

Speaking of the Splenda Brown Sugar Blend, I found a good buy this past weekend on Granny Smith apples. Somewhere (I think on line) I read about paring and slicing the apples, adding the brown sugar and oil or butter and microwaving. I did that for breakfast this morning, and it is wonderful. I have a microwave dish made for making rice, but I have converted that to an all-purpose dish for any food I need to microwave, such as potatoes, onions, anything that will cook in a microwave. I cored the apple with one of those gadgets I found at Wal-Mart, spread the slices over the bottom of the container, sprinkled about 1 tablespoon brown sugar and some oil. You could use whatever you like there. I try to make the container air tight, and then cooked for 5 minutes. The oil blends with the sugar and moisture from the apple, and it is just so tasty!

My husband says I am either thinking about, reading about, writing about, talking about, cooking or eating food. I notice that he doesn't hesitate to share the proceeds.

On future blogs, I will try to give some of my old recipes I have enjoyed making for years...just good ole fashioned comfort foods. I have always conceded that my siblings are better cooks than I, but that's okay. I have a few favorites.

BTW, we did move the container of Gomphrena to the porch, next to the wall, and covered these past two freezing nights. So far, it looks fine. I know it has to go, but that's hard to let go. At least I have a zillion seeds to get started next spring and some cut stems for the house until spring. The volunteer lavender that I thought was lost, actually survived the drought/heat and bloomed heavily until now. Still several very sweet lavendar blooms today. We had volunteer yellow lantana by the mailbox that survived the summer also, but that seems bitten today. I think it looks hardy enough that with mulching for the winter will come back next spring. We look for it around April. I did get some pansies started in a whiskey-barrel-size container, lots of colors, and they look fine.

Will get back with pictures of my compost bin, etc., and more recipes soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Where Has The Summer Gone?

My goodness! Look at the last date I posted anything: August! That signifies to me that I had lost focus on everything but striving to have my poor hot vegetation survive. It's not to say that I haven't been busy--I have. Plus, in that time my laptop has been out of commision as far as using the Internet. We still can't figure out what is wrong, so I have resorted to setting up my account on my husband's 'puter. It's a bit inconvenient (I am SOOO spoiled to my laptop), but I am learning to be patient while I await the diagnostics on what's wrong with my baby.

The garden is pretty much done. There's a new crop of peppers. I made some delicious pepper sauce, or as I have heard people call it, pepper salts. I think that is actually a name, although I was not able to find it on the 'net. Soon I will share that recipe for those of you who want a little "zip" in certain veggies such as greens, cabbage, peas--all that good Country Food.

Speaking of greens, our fall crop of mustard and turnip greens is doing well. We have had several meals from that already, and I actually canned two quarts this week. That is very labor intensive, but it is so worth it.

This is all for now, but as I have made an effort to get back into the groove, I will be back with some description of the most rewarding time I have spent in my garden in some time, all made possible by the return of cool weather. How wonderful is that.


Mississippi Native

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rain Dance

Okay, I've proved it! You want it to rain? Spend your grandchildren's inheritance watering. Saturday morning, just feeling sorry for the struggling beans, peppers, tomatoes, etc., we watered, and watered, and watered. Here came a few clouds. I asked Husband, "What Gives?" We knew what gave by afternoon: a 1/2" downpour, complete with accompanying thunder and lightening and high wind. We just couldn't help grinning as we watched, from room to room and window to window.

Fast forward to this morning and my trip to see what happened. Those pitiful pepper plants that looked done, look refreshed, and the little pepper forms that had no hope a day before, now may have reason to struggle on to cooler weather. I did get a few tommytoes from a pitiful vine with only a coupla leaves.

A few days ago, I had picked the remaining Christmas butterbeans and cooked the tender ones. There were several dry ones that we had overlooked earlier that I couldn't bear to waste, so those had been soaked and rehydrated. I pressure-cooked those this morning, and we had that for lunch along with roasted chicken and fresh tomato. We usually do that gleaning later in the season, but were glad to have a chance at them if a bit early.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Remember gardening?

Gardening? What a concept! I have not had the intestinal fortitude to post pictures of what happened to my garden during these several days of furnace heat, better known as the Mississippi Summer. This morning, very early, I took my courage in hand and pruned the overdone okra. Undaunted by the heat, we should have enough new pods soon to enjoy until fall.

Gone are the squash and pole beans. We might get a tomato or two occasionally. The peppers look as they had been stir-fried right on the stalk. This morning, I picked the remaining few Christmas butterbeans and also the ones that had dried on the vine, mostly not filled out. Note to self: Remember to get these planted earlier next spring so that they can start maturing before the summer heat.

I consoled myself while gleaning these butterbeans by making mental notes of what we can do this fall to have the garden in good shape next spring. We could have a fall crop of greens, if we are lucky. Our pitiful little Cranberry seedlings/plantlings look so forlorn. Watering doesn't seem to help much. Well, we tried. Yes, we did.

Can't complain altogether, though. I have not counted the jars of green beans I canned. Our son and grandson visited over the weekend a couple of weeks ago, and I twisted his arm almost off, begging him to take a few jars of beans, greens, pepper salts, cucumber pickles, etc., back to Virginia with them. Our tomatoes were disappointing in that we didn't have enough to can more than a very few pints. I usually get several quarts by this time. Oh, well. And I did freeze several packages of zucchini to either make bread or more of that surprisingly good soup!

Said son presented me with a couple of planters of beautiful coleus for my birthday. Unwittingly, I had already purchased those whiskey barrels on closeout from Kroger and three bags of potting soil from Big Lots at $1 each, so I was prepared to repot this coleus and get it ready for fall beauty. It is languishing under the remains of the old apple tree near the deck, being sheltered partially from this intense sun. Later, I can move it out to more prominent viewing.

This old apple tree looks as if it has seen its last days. Last summer, we had scads of wonderful apples. I did not have to buy much fruit at all during the summer except for other kinds I chose, such as cantaloup and watermelon. This spring, I sat on the deck and gloried in the beauty of the apple tree which was literally covered with blossoms, visualizing the bushels of apples again in the summer. Surprise! Here comes the freeze in April and there went my apples, along with peaches, red buds, tulip poplar, crape myrtle, wysteria, and anything else that had ventured out. We are planning to replace the apple tree this winter but will probably leave it as is for a perching place for birds for a bit longer. Its twiggy, barren branches are so convenient for the hummingbirds that have decided to pay a return visit after abandoning us for a few weeks, as well as the usual Southern birds that love our yard and the food someone keeps furnishing.

Excuse me a bit longer as we regroup from the aftermath of a shockingly hot summer. As the weather cools, we will think of things that need to be done outside but will feel more like tackling them later, I'm sure.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Beanlings 10 days old

In spite of this horrendous heat, these little beans just keep on growing! They are brave. We are keeping them watered. So far no more critters gnawing on them.

That's the Christmas butterbeans to the left. They are beginning to bear and are loaded with beans. Can't really tell, but they are about 10' tall and well outgrowing their trellis.
The snake beans are gone on hiatus for a few days and trying to regroup, but they will and we will have much more to glean from them during the cool weather this fall.
Too hot to be outside today, so the gathering and watering were done early and we are back inside.

Friday, August 3, 2007


At 10 o'clock, I just got back from the garden, watering everything and picking stuff. I brought back a 3-gallon bucket of beans-okra-banana pepper-tomato; mostly beans. I think this may end up gifting the neighbors, who never turn it away. As a matter of fact, I have about filled all my jars. Has anyone priced glass jars lately? Wow! A year or so ago, my gardener sister bought closeout on lids at about 49 cents a pkg (12 lids per package). She gave me several packages. They were kept dry and apparently have still been good; no failure to seal. There's no telling how much that saved me this year, not only the convenience but the $. Thanks, sis.

Today makes day 7 the cranberry beans have been in the ground. There is a FULL stand, mostly 3 leaves already. We will be watching them with eagle eye!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Scenes From Terrapin Hollow

This is the swing J made. It sits under the huge green ash tree that was started as a seedling many years ago and given us by my dad. It provides much shade for resting, reading, picnics--you name it. It is part of the family. On the tree at the top of the picture facing the swing is a bluebird house that we hoped would house bluebirds. To our surprise the last two years ground squirrels have raised their young in there. Before we had so much foliage, our grandchildren played many games of frisbee here. They still ride their bikes around. The lot is just under an acre. J has provided a walking track around the perimeter of the lot that we enjoy when the weather is not extreme. Twice around the lot is a quarter of a mile. It is so serene and is bordered on one side by a creek, to the north by woods, to the south by a well-kept yard, and to the west by our back yard lot that is close to another acre, including the house. So, he has lots of mowing to do.
This is a scupernong that somehow escaped the freeze this spring. Actually, there are two or three varieties in there. They are loaded! I can't wait until late August and September to "hide out" in under there gorging on those wonderful grapes. We do try to prune them appropriately. They have just about outgrown their trellis, however. Just wonderful! The bronze was the last of the old vines at my old homeplace in Prentiss County. That dates back as far as I can remember as a very small child. Talk about heritage/heirloom!

These two pretties are vibernum. I used to know the name, but that escapes me at the moment. They used to be in a setting where they were cultivated, but somehow they are just going it alone but seemingly thriving.

I will be doing other pictures along. These just stood out at me today.

Cranberry Beanlings!

See my little beanlings? This is only day 5. They were planted last Saturday morning. There is a good stand already. All right!

Something To Relate To

By Shel Silverstein
All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin' in the sun,
Talkin' 'bout the things
They woulda coulda shoulda done...
But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All ran away and hid
From one little Did.
Isn't it the truth!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Butterfly Weed

PS: I had run across a pod of Asclepias tuberosa aka butterfly weed this morning, left over from last year. As we were in the process of mulching our new cranberry beans, I took garden rake in hand and prepared a little space next to my little herbs and planted these seed. I covered them with soil lightly, watered them, and mulched with pine straw. I will see in a few days if they will sprout in this hot weather. I wouldn't expect them to weather the winter outside because they will not have time to develop a strong root system. But, this is just a trial.

Running Okra

This is our "running okra." We have seen the other names, but we just take the easy way out. It can be fried in the old fashioned Southern way, just like the regular okra. It is very tasty that way, but we haven't tried any other way. It should not get much larger than these shown, or they go to seed. Someone gave us the seed to get started, and we save seed every year.

It does look like luffa gourds. It makes a long vegetable and makes a very long vine which is just loaded with yellow blossoms all the time. The vine has to be well supported, and if not, just takes off in space.

What To Do..........

What to do, what to do: (

We were in such a quandry this morning trying to figure out what to do with our newly sprouting cranberry beans. The little poem came to mind. My children and grandchildren have found it so amusing!

I digress. We had just planted our cranberry beans last Saturday. This morning, J mentioned that we need to watch them because we had put newspaper over the rows and wouldn't want them to need attention and fail because we didn't notice. So, on my way to the compost pile with an accumulation of veggie scraps, I went by the garden and peeked under the newspaper bonnets. To my surprise, there were the little "crooks" peeking through the moist dirt. The newspaper had done its work.

We pondered whether to (1) leave the paper on but keep it moist, (2) remove the paper but mulch with pine straw, of which we have an abundance, or (3) leave everything off. We, or he, decided on #2. We think the young sprouts need air and sunlight but do need to be sheltered a bit longer. So, that is accomplished.

Wow, it didn't take long for them to sprout. I did soak the seed an hour before I planted them and kept the soil damp. I think the heat also helped. When we planted in the spring, the ground had not fully warmed up and it took a week or longer for the seed to sprout.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Weekend Duties

Thursday morning I decided to pick cranberry beans. We had noticed several new blooms after the last rain. We were seeing lots of green beans but they were not filled out. I recalled seeing somewhere that they are delicious at that stage if you don't mind forsaking the mature beans. Anyway, since we are wanting to try a fall crop, I decided to harvest the whole shebang, just pulling the vines out by the roots and picking off all the beans, much like harvesting peanuts. The vines were put aside for hubby to put in the compost heap. The mature beans were shelled and the others prepped, and the yield was surprising. I wasn't sure I could get all them in pints, so I just canned them in quarts, which yielded 4 full quarts with some left over for lunch, which was delicious, by the way. The jars with the intermingled green beans were so pretty! They will be for special occasions with family.

Friday, hubby rototilled and prepared two short rows. It wasn't too hard to do since the ground had remained friable from the previous crop. We made a trip to Wal-Mart to purchase a bag of cranberry beans. We don't bother to spend unnecessary money on seeds from a company; we just plant what nature provides and have excellent results. So, bright and early Saturday morning, after soaking the beans for about an hour to speed up their process, we planted two rows of beans, watered them in the little trenches, covered them and then mulched on top with newspapers we had saved, which funny enough equaled the exact amount we needed. After all this, we have had a nice rain! Anyway, we are so eager to see if we have had any luck getting them to sprout, with all this hot weather.

The remainder of the beans were soaked a good bit longer and canned, yielding 7 pints. This is for convenience and well worth the effort. Pretty good yield for just over $1.50 for the package.

We have been watching the Christmas butterbeans carefully, not wanting to let any get too mature while we wait. My husband actually picked a double handful this morning and shelled them, which we had for lunch along with the running okra (which I'll show another time) tomato and banana pepper, all from our garden.

This slow rain today couldn't have come at a better time. So much better for the veggies, and the work is all done. Tomorrow I guess is canning day for some tomatoes.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Busy as the proverbial one-armed paperhanger, not only with staying caught up with ripening veggies, but this weekend I am helping a friend with her medical transcription as she is getting her daughter settled back in college. This happens to be for an orthopedic/sports medicine clinic, and I enjoy it and have really learned lots from these very nice and capable orthopedic surgeons.

The brainstorm I had, though, that obviously as I am a very new blogger and don't have anyone with enough time on hand to humor my many questions, I ran by Books-A-Million this morning, looking for a book on web page and blog help, and the only one I saw at the moment was the Complete Idiot's Guide, which in my case might be appropriate. I really need not only instructions but examples. So, this weekend I expect to become a Complete Expert. We shall see.

Last but not least, I am the recipient of many eggplants. We really enjoy eggplant, but this is ridiculous. I am looking up recipes for eggplant parmesan and have found an interesting one which I hope is okay to freeze. I shall soon see. I would really hate for these beautiful things to go stale. We plan to plant eggplant next year--one of my husband's favorite things. I may just end up freezing these until I can find/make the recipes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Putting Food Out Front"

This is an interesting article from the Tupelo Daily Journal regarding renewed interest in gardening:


I am so far behind—where do I start! Over a week ago, I got the granddaddy of rhinitis/bronchitis (summer colds). I have been struggling with getting better and keeping up with my ripening veggies. I guess I would can beans and tomatoes one day and rest the next. Much better today.

However, today I just didn’t want to deal with more of the same, so I called a friend, actually my daughter’s MIL, and offered her a bunch of fresh veggies. She was very pleased to accept. They have been boxed attractively and I’m awaiting my daughter who will transport them.

I have some ideas I want to research from fellow bloggers, but I need to get those sorted out—as the saying goes, first things first and not necessarily in that order.

Whew! At least I have a start….

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Beans, Beans, More Beans

Just when I had despaired of having enough green beans to can more than a half-dozen pints, here comes the 0.75" rain and scads of beans. I'm not sure how to gauge the yield on this one picking from a very short row, but I'll estimate 7 quarts by the time I get them prepped and the rest of them picked. This is from the previous post where I was so ecstatic over the much needed rain.

Also, these are just a few of the very nice tomatoes that ripened all at once. I see a Roma or two on the tray, and I think Arkansas Travelers. It wasn't too bright of me to cover up the tags so I couldn't see the names, but when I remove the cages later, I will get the names and make a note of whether I want to grow them again next year. The Arkansas Traveler is a pink, low-acid tomato and very delicious; however, it is prone to blight.

So this weekend I will be canning beans. We will be so glad to have them this winter. We will continue to enjoy them fresh as long as they last.

Better run and get started on these veggies! What a joy!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What A Good Rain Will Do!

This is the late planting of our snake beans loving their 7' trellis my co-gardener built. For posts, he used landscape timbers he found on closeout at Wal-Mart and bought about 18 of them @ 99 cents. The wire is the wire used for concrete foundations. It does rust, but it appears to be very sturdy. We have done trellises for beans, but also built several cages for other climbey things such as cucumbers. They have been wonderful supports for our tomato plants.
Anyway, for a good view of the many new blooms and new beans, click on the image and scroll, of course. This row is not very long, but it promises to produce all I can handle.
Later, I will share views of other veggies; nothing exotic, but proof that we are surviving the hot, dry weather. We did have a wonderful rain today, and that does such wonders for everything, most especially the grass............

Sunday, July 8, 2007

This Is The Day............

One day post 07/07/07: July has started off hot and dry—nothing new except that we haven’t been getting as much rainfall as usual, which has kept us in a drought. However, as long as we can pay our water bill, our garden has survived and is doing fine so far.

We are now getting ripe tomatoes. They are so good, but so far not enough to can. We just want to enjoy them in their natural state until we are sated with that, or at least me. Husband doesn’t particularly crave them but does enjoy a moderate portion. Ahem. We have several plants of the tommytoes or cherry tomatoes variety, and if they ever start ripening, I plan to can them for juice.

I have actually canned a few quarts/pints of green beans, even though we were disappointed in the yield so far. Also, I have canned a few pints of the cranberry/October beans. They are so good. They are about spent, and I do plan to plant a fall crop around the first of August. This is all just a trial, but it has been fun.

Oh, and the cucumbers…I planted a pack of cucumber seeds, knowing better. We built cages to go around the hills, and they love that. They are in full bloom and I see several baby cukes. They have to be watched daily, because like squash, they can mature overnight, seemingly. I do plan to make a batch of pickles/relish, and when I am done with that, I plan to have mercy on the plants and pull them up. I hate having scads of good stuff that can’t be given away. First, though, I would poll the neighbors to see if they or anyone they know would like to have the excess.

On my early morning tour of the yard/garden, watering my roses and cleome, etc., everything looks so pretty and peaceful. That is before the noise of traffic, etc., has taken over. I know how okra and squash will do if you turn your back—it will become too large overnight if you don’t watch it, so I make my tour this morning, turning the lush squash leaves so as to not miss something just ready. Sure enough, there are yellow and zucchini ready to pick. Naturally, I didn’t bring a container to hold them, so that’s where my shirt-tail comes in handy. (I had picked everything yesterday or so I thought, so I didn't expect to find anything more.) I so need to make a granny apron just for that purpose. I remember my grandmother using her customary, ever ready apron as a catchall when she was outside and came upon something that needed to be picked right then. Aprons can serve different functions, but that one I could use, although it might look funny over jeans!

The okra is coming along, and I had picked that yesterday. That will be a part of our feast today. But when I was walking along looking at the row of snake beans we had planted to supplement our earlier beans (which didn’t handle the hot weather well), I was SO surprised to find some ready snake beans that somehow I had missed on my daily inspections. That was fun, but since this crop is coming along nicely with lots of blooms and already many baby beans, I will have to watch that carefully. I do expect to can beans off this row. It is pretty on the trellis of the large gauge concrete reinforcing wire installed by my co-gardener husband on landscape timber found on closeout at Wal-Mart. I will have to get a picture of that and post it. He is my official photographer, so maybe we can get that done soon. Those beans are fun in that they go to the top of their trellis and then take off in space.

We watered the garden early, enjoying the beauty of Terrapin Hollow, so now back to prepare for Sunday School and following services.

This is the day that the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.............. Psalm 118

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Significant Holiday

As a child on the farm, "the 4th" was not much different from the other summer days except that as a treat sometimes we kids got to help pick blackberries instead of continuing field work. That is how I remember when they are in season. I also remember the "chiggers" we got from heedlessly wading through the weeds and brambles to get to the juicy berries. It was worth it, because a bucket of berries would yield the most delicious cobblers, jams and jellies. I am afraid I took that for granted, though, because it was always there for us to enjoy. Sometimes, though, if there were field chores to finish, we would do that before we could celebrate.

In the country, the only fireworks were the firecrackers someone might pick up. We didn't have the huge public celebrations we have nowaways; at least, we didn't know if there was. I remember on very special occasions on the 4th, my mother would make homemade ice cream. This was made from the whole milk and cream she had saved from the milk from our dairy cows, using eggs from the hens from our flock. This was in the days before we had ever heard of cholesterol. My dad had arranged for the Ice Man to deliver a huge block of ice. This was kept in a cabinet for that purpose, the only refrigerator we knew until I was about 10 years old when we got electricity in the county where I lived. Daddy would chip off enough chunks of ice to make the ice cream. I think that was his job to turn the crank, and sometimes he would let us kids take a turn at that, until it became too difficult to turn. That was the signal that it was ready. But, to our disappointment, we had to wait until the ice cream mellowed, packed in ice and salt for another hour or so. We managed to sneak a chunk of ice to suck on, not paying attention to how freezing-cold it was because of the salt. As we had no air conditioning except the breezes under the shade trees, just a simple chip of ice was such a treat.

Sometimes Daddy would pour a few spoonsfulls of grape wine he had made, over our bowls of ice cream. That was an unbelievable taste. It never occurred to us that that was "alcohol," because it was never used for sipping in our presence, or left to our sampling. After the day of celebrating with special food, the next day brought the regular routine of the farm life, but it formed the memories that are still so special today.

Tomorrow, we will be attending a family get-together where a lot of the same kinds of foods will be available, including homemade ice cream, watermelon, all the good country food. I am sure we will be remembering the good times but mindful that any time family can be together is something special.

Another reason these days are special is that the 3rd marks the 25th wedding anniversary for our daughter and son-in-law. She was just out of college and eager to get on with her life. Planning a daughter's wedding was a new experience for me, but it must have been okay because they have reached that milestone and looking to the next. They have a lovely daughter to help them celebrate. Their next adventure will be a job relocation which will be taking them to Florida. We have advised them to make sure they have a big house, as besides us, they have brothers and sisters who just might find an excuse to travel to Florida.

Anyway, Happy 25th, L & R. Many happy returns of the day!

Friday, June 29, 2007


This morning I was surprised to find several ripe tomatoes. We had had one or two small Roma tomatoes daily this week--not nearly enough! They really ripen fast once they start. I don't have enough to can yet, but I don't care right now; I want to eat my fill. My family knows my fondness for tomatoes. Today's catch included the pink Arkansas Traveler, which is so sweet and good.

We have having just a bit of okra. That is a little late this year because of some weather problems at planting time. My husband likes "stewed" okra when it is very young and tender. He calls it "succulents." That is a real treat. Of course, there is nothing like fried okra. I keep it very simple: I slice the tender pods rather thin, marinate them briefly in buttermilk, coat in cornmeal, and drop in hot canola oil, frying to a nice crisp brown. Oh my! Can't do that often, but it is such a treat.

Vidalia onion is our favorite onion, of course, and I like to stock up on that when it is at a good price. I never thought I would see onions priced so high! Anyway, years ago, at Wal-Mart, I found a microwave dish shaped like a Vidalia onion; in fact, it was produced by the Vidalia people apparently. This little contraption was in the onion department, and I have had that one for a long, long time, but they are still available, I think all year long. I like to follow the directions, take the outside peel off the onion, slice off the very bottom root end and a slice off the top, and then make cuts into the onion all around the top. I add salt and pepper and either oil (canola or EVOO hello Rachel Ray) or a pat of healthful spread, and put the top on securely. I microwave this for 5 minutes and let set for 2 minutes. This is just too good, in our estimation. People in other areas say they can't find these cookers. This was such a hit with my sister and neice that I bought several for them. We found that slicing yellow and zuchinni squash, onion, green pepper, etc., and adding the seasonings and microwaving is just out of this world. Each little "onion" is just about serving size. It's hard to stop with just one. I wish I could grow Vidalias. Dream on.

I have done the above for lunch today, along with roasted chicken leg quarters seasoned with "pappareeka", as Paula Deen pronounces it, and those wonnnnnnnderful tomatoes. How easy is that. Life is so tough, but somebody's got to do it........

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Just rambling thoughts..........

My garden has not been as productive this year as I was expecting. I am blaming it on first the freeze and then the hot, dry weather. Also, I think the bean seed we had for our Louisiana Purple Pod was not up to par. Anyway, we have had at least enough daily for our own meals and to share a bit with family/neighbors. Today’s picking was more of a gleaning—something I usually do at the end of summer. We planted a new row of beans a couple of weeks or so ago, and they are now climbing the trellises. Keeping my fingers crossed on them.

The tomatoes are looking good, and we are hoping that the blight doesn’t take over; same for the squash. Our garden is on low land, and for one reason that is good in that we don’t have to water as much as if on high ground, but the veggies do seem to be later in maturing. Just lucky to have that beautiful place, which is the main reason we are still in this location.

We were really late getting our cucumbers planted. They are just about at the blooming stage, and before we know it, hopefully, it will be time for pickles. In the past, I would make enough pickles one year to last two or three, and it may be that way this time. Don’t think I remember having a failure at cucumbers. I had a gift of about three pounds of cucumbers this week, and I am trying a recipe for bread and butter pickles, refrigerator style, to see if I like that. If it works, guess what family will be gifted with before long.

This morning, I canned three pints of cranberry beans from a short trial row in my garden. This was after about four pints earlier. We have been having them fresh, also. I have found out that bending over to pick the beans is trying on one’s back, so that would have to be a consideration in planting future larger areas. They are so pretty, though, and when the pods turn stripped or dark pink (thus cranberry), it is just plain gratifying to pick and shell the beans.

I remember many years ago my mother planted what we called “shelly beans” in her garden. They were so prolific, as were all her vegetables. My children were small and were used to fresh vegetables, as that was what they got when they visited “Mammaw” and then the largesse she favored us with on our frequent (planned?) visits to the country. This particular summer, Mammaw invited us to pick shelly beans from her garden. They were so beautiful that it just about made me feel greedy at the sight before me. I don’t remember now how many I picked, but I do remember that they were so delicious.

Fast forward now, last winter I was watching the food channel on TV and someone was preparing a recipe using dried cranberry beans. I don’t recall hearing that name before but ran across that at the grocery store where the pinto beans, etc. were. I bought a package and prepared a batch according to label directions, and we were pleasantly surprised at how delicious they were, and how economical. I decided to soak them and actually can them for convenience. Therefore, I only had to open a jar of beans and heat and season them for a meal, and we were ecstatic. We were into checking properties of foods because husband is a diabetic. We found out that dried beans are very nutritious and have a high content of protein. That is definitely a keeper in our food planning. Have to do some creative planning for them in the menu, but in the Southern tradition, that is not a big stretch. This is how I got the idea to plant the trial row to see if that would work, and it did.

Summer is definitely upon us, and I am glad that the most strenuous part of the gardening is over now. However, we still enjoy touring the garden in the early morning and late afternoon to enjoy how beautiful most of the things are, and are already making plans for what we will do next year.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Why Terrapin Hollow?

Trying to think of a name for my blog was off-putting. This morning as I was taking my usual early-morning tour of our garden, I spotted a little terrapin camouflaged by grass, clippings, etc. AHA! Suddenly the name of Terrapin Hollow came to mind. This was the name of a creek that ran in a wooded area at the back of my childhood home in Prentiss County, Mississippi. My young siblings and I would wade in the shallow flowing water to cool our bare feet. We called that area Terrapin Hollow because we could just about always find a terrapin (or turtle, as we were apt to say) burrowing in the sand/water. I had always thought that name had a ring to it and hoped someday to use that as a catchy title for something I was doing, such as a craft, etc., but it never happened. Today it seems such a fit.

So, Terrapin Hollow it is, for my garden and for my blog. We have only had the garden approximately 35 years and had never called it anything but "the pasture" most of the years, because before we acquired that lot, the previous owners had owned horses and kept them there. There will undoubtedly be more about the garden all along.

Now with that done, off to other things.
First Things First............

I've been tempted to start blogging but felt timid about it, so I shall take baby steps. I think my main interest is going to be searching input from more knowledgeable persons than I regarding basic gardening. Actually, I have been a long-time gardener but had been away from it for some while until this year when I have had more time to devote to it. I couldn't wait for Spring, and then the freeze! Actually we (my husband and I) have done okay, considering. Still waiting for the first tomatoes to ripen, and that always takes too long.

Now that I have taken the first step, I shall try to organize what I have to say; therefore, some days may have a blank post.

More later regarding the seedlings I have had fun with this year. Hope to have pictures later, also.