Thursday, May 29, 2014

Aluminum Foil versus Plastic Wrap

Everyone has both aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Often people make the wrong assumption that they can be used interchangeably. I have been doing a little research and have come up with uses for both products and a surprising feature on the boxes.
I had no idea that since 1966 boxes of foil and saran wrap had secure roll locks on the end of the package. I can't tell you how many rolls of Saran Wrap I have thrown away because it unrolled on one side, and got all out of whack. Am I a dummy, or did you not know that these tabs existed either?

Uses for Aluminum Foil
  • Keeps oxygen out of meats which causes freezer burn - It is a good idea to rewrap meat to be frozen in aluminum foil
  • Transfers from fridge to oven when reheating casseroles or leftovers in oven - NOT MICROWAVE
  • Line cooking pans with foil to make clean up painless and easy
  • Crumple up a wad to clean cast iron skillet
  • Place on oven rack under food that may spill over to catch drips
  • Great to use as a cookie sheet in a jam 
  • Covers edge of pie crust when baking to keep from over browning
Uses for Plastic Wrap
  • Wrap Meat tightly in saran wrap when marinating - speeds up process
  • Great to keep acidic foods from turning brown- such as apples or avocados
  • Helps identify foods in the refrigerator- before they become a mass of green mold
  • Layer between stacked food items to be frozen
  • Safe in microwave- don't forget to poke holes in top
Please add any more thought provoking uses that you have found for these products in our comment section and let us know if you knew the ends were "secure hold tabs".

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wauchula Brown Rice - Not the Healthy Variety

I'm not saying that Wauchula Brown Rice is unhealthy. I'm just saying that it isn't the healthy variety that is so in vogue now with all the nutritionists and healthy eating guru's. I had never had this delicious rice pilaf  until moving to Hardee County in the early 1970's. It was at all the church dinners, family reunions, and the dish of choice for funerals. The first time that I tried it, I thought that it was the best thing since sliced bread. Now, my family has taken it as their own. We have it for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Easter, as well as Sunday dinners and weeknight suppers. The ingredients are very simple- pantry staples. I believe that the 5 minute prep time as well as the simple ingredients have added to the popularity of this dish. During, the holidays, French Onion soup is almost impossible to find on the local grocery shelves. This Easter season, I made my trek to Winn Dixie to shop for ingredients for my recipes. Of course, as I journeyed down the soup aisle, the French Onion was completely sold out. I headed down to my daughter's later that day, and there was no shortage of French Onion soup. My point is, this recipe is a Wauchula favorite. I've even seen two ladies almost come to blows over the last can of French Onion soup.

Here is the recipe. Let us know if it is new to you or a staple in your community.

Brown Rice with Mushrooms

1/2 stick butter
1 can Campbell's Beef Consomme, undiluted
1 can Campbell's French Onion Soup, undiluted
1 can mushrooms, drained
1 cup white converted rice

Melt butter in casserole dish with Beef Consomme at 350 degrees
Stir in French Onion Soup, mushrooms, and rice when butter has melted
Cover and bake one hour.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Sophie's Grandma Himrod's Cabbage Slaw

My family's history can be traced way back to the Revolutionary War and our trek to South Georgia. My friend Sophie's family has the same history, but they settled in Central Florida. We are both daughter's of the American Revolution and the Civil War.. I think that I know what a Georgia Cracker is, but have been doing research on the Florida Cracker. Many historians think that the term is not so much about the crack whipping Florida and Georgia cowboy, but about the prideful way that the early settlers in these areas lived, and their storytelling abilities, such as to "crack" a joke or tell a story. Each year there is a Cracker Storytelling Festival,  in nearby Homeland. Story tellers and true Florida Crackers come from all around the state to share their bit of history. It is incredible that theses strong pioneers, survived and flourished in a time before air conditioning, insect repellant and screens.

According to my research, a Florida Cracker is a true native Floridian, often claiming pre Civil War homesteading. The Florida Cracker is known to be self sufficient and apt at hunting, fishing, and growing their own food. A Florida Cracker is a true southerner, and not a transplant from a northern state. Their ancestors probably moved to Florida from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Carolinas.

Attributes of a Florida Cracker:

Knows how to fish by instinct
Prefers swimming in a lake or creek, never a chlorinated pool
Knows what Swamp Cabbage is, and never calls it Heart of Palm- they also know how to cut and cook it
Knows that cane syrup is eaten on biscuits and gravy is eaten on squirrel - (that one is a stretch)
Doesn't mistake a turtle for a gopher
Says the blessing before supper
Knows the location of Hog Valley, Two Egg, Scrambletown and Yeehaw Junction
( I gathered these words of wisdom form the Urban Dictionary)

Back to Sophie's Florida Cracker History- The men in her family were great sportsmen and hunted and fished quite regularly. She remembers from her childhood, mullet smoking get togethers and her Grandma Himrod's Cabbage Slaw.

I have quizzed her about the cabbage slaw and no one seems to have a written recipe. This is what she has settled on as the "recipe".  I made it this weekend and it is delicious. It may not be an exact duplicate, but it is yummy!

Sophie's Grandma Himrod's Cabbage Slaw

1 head cabbage grated or 1 bag Dole coleslaw (not the Florida Cracker way)

I was a little lazy and opted out of this procedure;

This was the way to go today- Hey, it is the 21st century
To the coleslaw mix- sprinkle heavily with celery seed

In a separate bowl mix together - 1 cup sugar - one cup water- and one cup vinegar - whisk
Stir dressing into large bowl filled with cabbage slaw
Salt and pepper to taste
Let sit overnight for best flavors- 3 days for ultimate deliciousness.

Finished product - I even ate some on my grilled in butter hot dog -

Thanks to Sophie for sharing - Let's keep those family recipes alive for the next generation and beyond

Baked Beans for Memorial Day

A barbecue or picnic isn't the same without delicious baked beans, southern style. When the children were growing up, we had grilled burgers and hot dogs about every two weeks in the summertime. Baked Beans were always on the menu. I make my beans just like my mama did, even using the same pyrex two quart dish that she used when I was a girl. It is a 2 quart round dish with a casserole holder. At one time, it had a lid, but that fell to ceramic tiles years ago. The secret ingredient is Bush's Homestyle Beans. They could be eaten right out of the can, but are delectable when doctored with tangy and sweet ingredients.

Baked Beans 

2 cans Bush's Homestyle Beans
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar- light or dark
2 tablespoons yellow prepared mustard
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
3 to 4 strips good quality bacon

Pour the two cans of beans into a 2 quart Pyrex casserole dish. Spoon ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and onion on top of the bean mixure. Mix well with large spoon.
Lay strips of uncooked bacon that have been cut in half on top of the beans. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour until the bacon is browned and bean juice has thickened. 
You know that they are delicious. And don't you dare skim off any of the excess bacon drippings floating on the top of the beans. Enjoy

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Crazy Berry Blue Pie- A Rediscovered Delight

When I was a young bride in the early 1970's, Eagle Brand desserts were the rage. This Crazy Berry Blue Pie was Walter's favorite. We lived out in the country on his aunt and uncle's farm in a little farmhouse. I commuted to college and Walter helped his Uncle Morris farm. We attended a little country church out from Vienna, Georgia. Each month they had dinner on the grounds. He talked me into taking this pie one Sunday. I was worried about it, because it had gelatin in the filling and I didn't want it to be runny. I remember very distinctly to this day, telling the ladies to keep it in the fridge, until the last minute. At dinnertime, my pie was cut and it was nothing but soup. I burst into tears. I was a lot sweeter back then, and very sensitive. This blueberry pie was never made again or mentioned in the 35 years that we were married. I just found the recipe in the back of my recipe box this week and decided that it needed to be included in the family favorites on the blog- even though no one in the family has ever even tasted it's yummy smoothness.
In the summertime, ice box, no bake pies are perfect as a cool refreshing dessert. This one does not disappoint. The ingredients are simple and should be found in your pantry and refrigerator.

I haven't made a homemade pie crust since Pillsbury came out with the fold out in the 1980's and now they have progressed to the roll outs. I do think that they are not as large as they used to be. I could barely get the crust to cover a 9 inch pie plate. I always dust the bottom of the pie crust with flour to help with cutting and removing from the pan. Don't forget to use a fork to prick the crust to prevent it from bubbling while baking unfilled. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. It will taste like made from scratch. Everyone always thinks that I make my crust from scratch.

Crazy Berry Blue Pie- recipe from wrapper on 1970 can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup cold water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup sour cream
1 pound 5 oz can of blueberry pie filling (the pie filling now comes in a 12 ounce size - which is enough for the pie, but none left for a topping.

Place water and gelatin in a small saucepan. Place over direct heat and stir until dissolved and mixture is clear. Combine condensed milk and lemon juice.
I always use my little strainer and a fresh lemon when just a small amount of juice is needed.
Stir in gelatin mixture. Fold in sour cream. Mix in 1 1/4 cups of the blueberry pie filling (this is pretty much the entire can). Turn into crust. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Garnish with remaining chilled  pie filled - buy an extra can if you want to do this. 
I told you that the crust seemed small. It shrunk quite a bit, but tastes divine. If I was a perfectionist, I would have started all over, but this blog is just for fun and my cooking skills are far from perfect. 
Yay! The gelatin set up and the pie is delicious.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Egg and Olive Salad

I took the day off from work today and had a "me" day at home. I watched the Food Network, read a little of Emily Griffin's new book, The One and Only, (love it) and made Egg and Olive Salad for lunch to enjoy on Arnold's Honey Wheat Sandwich Thins. My Egg Salad is very simple, but I am always surprised when  people ask me "How do you make your Egg Salad?"
First of all, we Bailey's like our boiled eggs coarsely chopped. No finely chopped eggs for us. We want a big bite of boiled egg coated in mayo with a little pickle and olive on the edges. Here is the recipe with a few measurements, if possible.

Hard boil 4 eggs- this should be enough for two or three hearty sandwiches. Coarsely chop eggs and place in medium bowl. Salt and pepper eggs. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of Duke's mayonnaise and 1 to 2 tablespoons of sweet salad cubes. I used to chop sweet gherkins for all of my southern salads, but accidentally discovered that Mt. Olive makes a jar of sweet salad cubes and does all of the work. Now, don't mistake the sweet relish for the salad cubes. It has an all together different flavor. Lastly, I coarsely chop 2 tablespoons of green pimiento stuffed olives and mix all 4 ingredients. I have been known to add pickle juice, but sometimes the salad gets a little "goopy", if you know what I mean. Generously sprinkle paprika on the finished product, just for a little color. 

Enjoy with your favorite "light' bread, crackers, or my favorite, Sandwich Thins - Lay's original potato chips on the side aren't a bad addition either. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May I have a little Mayhaw Jelly Please

My parents left South Georgia when they were first married and  lived in Florida until they retired. We always spent Summer vacations on my Grandpa Spooner's farm in Seminole County. One of my earliest memories is getting in his little rowboat with a net and gathering Mayhaw's.
Mayhaw's are are native to the swamps and bogs of Southwest Georgia. Colquitt, in Miller County is the center of the Mayhaw growing area. Mayhaw trees grow wild in a small geographical area. The Mayhaw tree is a cousin of the haw or apple family. In May, as my Grandpa and I did, the red berries are scooped out of the water in fishnets. The trees are very thorny, therefore the berries are shaken loose from the branches. 
Once gathered the berries are boiled and strained through cheesecloth to get the clear beautiful juice.
Mayhaw jelly recipes date from the Civil War and even earlier. It is often considered the "best jelly in the world". 

Mayhaw Jelly

3 cups prepared Mayhaw juice - about 2 lbs fully ripe mayhaws
1 qt water
5 cups sugar
1 pouch fruit pectin

Bring boiling water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water: rinse with warm water- Pour boiling water over flat ids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. 

Place Mayhaws in saucepan; add water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Crush fruit mixture in saucepan. Place 3 layers of damp cheesecloth in large bowl. Pour prepared berries in cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth closed. Hang and let drip into bowl until dripping starts. Press gently. Measure 3 cups of juice into sauce pan. 

Stir sugar into juice. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to full boil and boil one minute. stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 of top. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2 piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on rack in canner. Water must cover jars by one to two inches. Add boiling water. Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 5 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool. After jars cool, check lids by pressing middle of lid with finger. (if lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary )
I haven't been to South Georgia in May in over twenty years and have no homemade Mayhaw Jelly. But, I always find a way to grab a few jars to enjoy through the summer.  It can be purchased on the internet or at one of the local South Georgia grocery stores. The IGA in Colquitt always has a display with homemade Mayhaw Jelly - or just stop at any roadside stand or store that looks like the one pictured!
All of the pictures used with nabbed from the internet and I used a recipe from as my mothers' had no directions at all - just the proportions scribbled on the back of an envelope. 

I hope that everyone enjoyedd this little history lesson.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Cucumber Salad - Final Verdict

I have been craving that vinegar and sugar combination mixed with crisp fresh cucumbers, acidic tomatoes, and sweet Vidalia onions. After researching recipes and asking family and friends their favorite ingredients for this summer delicacy, I chose to prepare the Dilllard House recipe. Next I was on a quest for ingredients. I had grabbed up one of the first Vidalia onion 3 pound bags at the Winn Dixie. I was not disappointed in these crispy and sweet delicacies that can even be peeled without tears. Good tomatoes were out of the question, the produce stands had tomatoes no better looking than the grocery store. I settled on a package of sweet and tasty grape tomatoes, not my first choice, but very tasty and a little acidic. Being that I live in an area that was once the Cucumber Capital of Florida, I thought that this search would be easy. No such luck! I settled for slightly soft, but still tasty Florida cucumbers from the grocery store. I am very happy that our local grocery stores are carrying Florida produce and supporting our local economy.
After peeling and slicing the fresh ingredients, and a little tasting on the way, I was ready to make the dressing. Here is the recipe:

Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad

3 to 4 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1 container grape or cherry tomatoes- halves
2 Medium Vidalia Onions- peeled and thinly sliced
tablespoons fresh parsley
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
freshly ground pepper - to taste

Place vegetable in large bowl - whisk vinegar, sugar, water, and pepper - pour over cucumber mixture- chill at least 4 hours- if you try to eat this without chilling, it will taste very bland. 
Call your friends over and enjoy.

I must have eaten at least three bowls at supper last night. All I had on my supper plate was a  parmesan encrusted baked chicken breast and bowl after bowl of cucumber salad.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Shortcut Lemon Bars

I was headed down to my daughter's to spend Mother's Day with her family, and the thought of lemon bars as a light spring dessert sounded just right. I knew that time was going to be an issue, therefore I bought a package of sugar cookie dough as the bottom crust. It turned out just as delicious as the shortbread crust that I usually make.
Two of my sweeties after church on Mother's Day

The children loved the cookie dough crust and the crispy topping on these traditional bars- fresh lemon juice and grated peel will perk up those taste buds.
 Shortcut Lemon Bars

1 roll refrigerated sugar cookies
 4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/3  cup fresh lemon juice - about 2 medium

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In ungreased 13 X 9 pan, break up cookie dough. Flour fingers and press dough evenly in bottom of pan to form crust. (The children had a great time helping with this task, especially dipping their fingers in the flour). Bake 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden brown.

In large bowl, beat eggs with wire whisk until well blended. Beat in granulated sugar, flour and butter until well blended. Stir in lemon peel and lemon juice. Pour mixture over still warm crust. 

Bake 20 to 30 minutes longer until  edges are still lightly golden brown. Cool Competely. Dip knife in hot water to cut bars into squares.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

     As the days are getting longer and the temperature is rising, outside cook outs and picnics are much more inviting. A great steak or chargrilled burgers are hard to beat.  But to me the side dishes steal the show. I love my traditional mayonnaise potato salad, but this loaded baked potato salad is a winner too. It is great recipe to make ahead of time and served chilled. As in most recipes, it is important to taste as you go to get the dressing perfectly seasoned.

Start out by scrubbing 2 1/2 pounds of medium size Red Bliss potatoes - Bake at 400 degrees for around 50 minutes or until tender.  Let sit until they are cool to the touch. Peel and cube the potatoes or cube them with the skin on - your preference. While the potatoes are cooling boil 4 large eggs and dice.

Fry 6 to 8 slices of bacon in skillet - Drain well on paper towels and crumble

Make the dressing:
1/2  cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup dill pickle relish
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Taste the dressing - add more of anything that is needed. The dressing should be very flavorful - Stir in 6 ounces of cheddar cheese and 4 scallions thinly sliced.

Transfer cubed potatoes to large mixing bowl. Add the crumbled bacon and diced boiled eggs. Pour the dressing over the potato mixture and  stir to combine. Taste again for seasoning . Transfer to serving bowl and dust with paprika. Cover and chill several hours until serving time.