Thursday, June 16, 2011


They are coming on strong...already have 3 gallons in the freezer. I went on a kick a few days ago and made blackberry cobblers en masse. Had lots left in the freezer and needed to make room for the new. Daughter got a couple of gallons...they are Little Man's favorite.

I got disposable pans so nobody would have to bother returning....

I rinsed and picked through about 2 and 1/2 gallons of berries, sprinkled them generously with tapioca grains and let them thaw. I generally use tapioca to thicken the berries - it soaks up some of the juice and doesn't alter the flavor any. Sugar is a matter of taste. The berries are pretty tart so I double check before I assemble the cobblers.

I put the berries in my disposable pans, filling about 3/4 of the way to the top. On the two 9x9 pans I sprinkled a half box of dry white cake mix and sliced a stick of butter over each pan. I sprinkled pecans over the cake mix and butter and baked at 350 decrees until the filling was bubbling and the topping was golden brown. It takes about 45 minutes for the small pans.

In my 9x13 pan I put in the berries and sprinkled a whole box of dry cake mix, sliced 2 sticks of butter over that and sprinkled with pecans. It needs to bake close to an hour.

Sometimes these boil over, so I place the cobblers on a baking sheet.

These are absolutely wonderful while they are still warm...with whipped cream or ice cream on top. The topping is crusty, the pecans are crispy and the filling is thick. Easy, easy, easy! This is a good dessert to take to a pot luck or cookout and it can be made with about any kind of fruit. We are partial to blackberry since we grow them, but you can mix fruit too. Peaches and strawberries make a good pairing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What does one do...

when one is frustrated, bored, cross and just generally out of sorts? One decides to pick up where she left off and do something constructive.

I believe that I mentioned before that Hubby has a friend who loves hot salsa - the hotter the better. We made him a batch that would scorch asbestos and he said it was good, just not hot enough. SO...we decided to go for the big heat.

I used the same salsa recipe and last summer's frozen tomatoes.

I also had some habaneros in the freezer.

I chopped them up fine...note the gloves

Chopped the onions, garlic coarsly...

Out of the 3 cups of chopped peppers the recipe calls for, I use 1 and 1/2 cups of habanero. After combining the rest of the ingredients I let it simmer until the right consistency and...

had to wear a respirator mask because of the fumes. Hubby and I were afraid to taste it but I finally worked up the nerve. Less than a half teaspoon of the liquid is all I could manage. It started out with a really good salsa taste and then the heat slapped me in the face.

I canned the molton lava according to the directions and it really came out pretty. We distsributed the stuff to everybody we thought could stand it. Hubby's friend got 2 quarts.

Hubby checked on his buddy a day or so later and his buddy said "Now THAT was salsa!" Apparently he looked at the jars til he couldn't stand it any more, (he owns a convenience store and was working that day) so he got a bag of chips and opened the jar right then.

We did keep a jar and eat just a spoon full on cooked greens. It really peps things up!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

In Case of Blizzard....

Make apple cinnamon rolls!

We were getting prepared for the impending blizzard this week and I had visions of sitting in front of the fire, wrapped up in my lap quilt and having a big, warm apple cinnamon sweet roll and a cup of hot coffee.

These are made with the same recipe as my regular cinnamon rolls...but I used a spice cake mix and added an additional scant teaspoon of apple pie spice.

I use rapid rise yeast, so all my dry ingredients, including the yeast go in first. The hot water and 2 beaten eggs go in to make a soft dough.

The dough is placed in a large bowl, covered and set in a warm place to rise.

When it has doubled in size I pour it out on my clean, dry counter top that has been dusted with flour.

Using my hands, I gently toss the dough in the flour and press it out into a long rectangle. I covered the rectangle with almost a half stick of melted butter, a generous sprinkle of brown sugar, a little apple pie spice and a can of chopped up apple pie filling.

Roll it up like a jellyroll....

and cut slices a generous one inch thick. Place on a sheet pan and let sit in a warm place to rise.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes (the time is extended from the usual 25 minutes to insure the dough next to the wet filling gets done).

Generously frost with powdered sugar frosting or your favorite canned frosting.

Look out the front door and shudder.

Look out the back door and shudder.

Now get one of the hot apple cinnamon sweet rolls and your cup of hot coffee and go sit in front of the fire. No need to shudder because the house is warm and toasty and smells like apples and cinnamon. Pure comfort!

I hope everyone fared well in this horrible weather. Stay safe and warm!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mom's chicken stew

was really, really good. No matter how I try, I just can't seem to get the same taste I remember. It's good, I guess it just doesn't have her special touch.

I have a huge stock pot that daughter bought for me. It is stainless steel and measured in liters. I decided to make enough stew for both our families. There was a whole chicken and a package of 10 chicken legs in my freezer - so I set to work.

I stewed the chicken, seasoning the broth with leafy celery stalks, onion, sage, salt and pepper. When the chicken was done (it takes around an hour) and the joints moved easily, I removed it from the stock and set it in a large bowl to cool.

I then strained the broth into my great big pot.

To this I added 3 sliced celery stalks cut on the bias....

a whole chopped onion...

four cans of stewed tomatoes, about a cup of quick cooking barley, two drained cans of whole kernel corn, 2 drained cans of sliced carrots, 3 small cans of mushrooms, about a cup of shaved cabbage and seasonings - basil, dried parsley,salt and pepper, a little Worcestershire sauce and about a tablespoon of beef stock flavoring.

 I let this simmer the better part of the afternoon. When it tasted just about right, I added the chicken that I'd removed from the bone. As you can see, I had a large amount and left it in nice big chunks.

Since the chicken was already cooked, it just needed to heat through. I ended up with 9 liters of stew, plenty to share with daughter and her family.

It was sooooo good! Especially since there was snow and ice on the ground. To me, this is the definition of pure comfort food. Hubby likes the juice and drinks it from a mug. I made a pan of cornbread - he likes to put a big piece in the bottom of his bowl and pour stew over it. I have to agree, it's pretty good that way.

You can add anything to this....whatever you like or have a taste for. If you don't think you have enough broth just add a can or can make as much or as little as you want.

It warms you down to your toes!

Have a super day!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

First you make a roux.....

to start a big pot of gumbo. Actually, the first thing you do is put a chicken on to stew. Season with salt and pepper, leafy celery, onion and whatever else you want to use. The chicken and broth are both used in the gumbo. Stew it until it is done (the joints move easily). Remove the chicken from the liquid so it can cool a little.

Now the roux...put equal parts of flour and oil in a large pot. For my stock pot I use about 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup oil. You can use olive oil or a mix of vegetable and olive oil. 
Mix it well to make a paste and start to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. If you do not stay with the roux and give it constant attention, it will scorch and not be fit to use.

When it starts to brown  it goes quickly so pay attention. It should smell nutty and rich and look like chocolate. Some people do not like very dark roux, so make it the color you want. The darker it is the more flavor it imparts to the gumbo. When it is cooked to your satisfaction, remove from the heat and pour in a couple of cups of chicken broth to stop the browning. You can breathe now.

Chop up a medium size onion and add to the pot.

Chop up two or three bundles of green onions using all the green part too. This was 2 bundles. Chop some green pepper if you want and add all to the roux. Stir well

Strain the chicken broth you have had cooling into the roux and veggies.

Add about a half a jar of dried parsley to the pot. I also add 2 cans of stewed tomatoes. Season with just a dash of Worcestershire sauce, garlic (fresh or powdered) and Cajun seasoning. Be careful with the Cajun is generally very salty (the can advertises that when it is salty enough it is perfectly seasoned). You be the judge. I also add a little cayenne and black pepper. Let the mixture simmer a bit.

When the veggies start to get done, slice smoked sausage into bite sized pieces. I cut it on the bias to make it look nice in the gumbo.

When the sausage has cooked a while you can either put in the chicken that you have removed from the bone or you can turn the gumbo off and let it sit a bit. Remember, the chicken is already cooked through. If you cook it much longer it will start to shred instead of staying in nice big chunks. I like to let mine sit a little while because the oil will rise to the top. I skim as much of the oil off as I can and discard it. Since the parsley clings to the oil, I put a good bit more in to replenish it. I prefer the gumbo not so greasy.

When you get ready to eat, finish the gumbo by adding the chicken, sliced okra if you like - it really does give it a good flavor and you don't have to use a lot. Start the heat up again and gently simmer until the okrais done. If you want seafood in your gumbo, add shelled shrimp, either raw or pre-cooked. Cook until the shrimp is pink. If you want to add oysters put them in last and cook only until the edges start to curl. Crab is very scarce (and expensive) here, but you can use a can of crab meat or go for the big bucks and buy some legs. The legs you find here are usually already cooked and just need to heat through.

Prepare white rice according to package instsructions. Place about a cup of cooked white rice in a bowl. Cover the rice with The gumbo and serve with cornbread or garlic bread. We like garlic cheese bread with ours. Season with file powder if you want, I personally don't use it. Do not cook file in the pot of gumbo or it will become stringy.


This is soooo may sound intimidating but it's really not. Some  people like only seafood, some no sausage or some no chicken. We like it with a little bit of everything in it. Hubby always wants shrimp and okra in ours. I insist on the chicken and smoked sausage.

Sometimes I make this up to adding the smoked sausage and let it cool completely and refrigerate over night. Next day, simply heat it up and finish with the chicken and okra and/or seafood. It makes a very generous amount. It's great for something like a Super Bowl party...just put it in a crock pot to keep warm and have bowls and spoons out for self serve. It was especially good with our 0 degree weather this week!

This recipe and method came from a Katrina victim that was being housed at our neighbor's home. Everybody pitched in to cook for them and the lady in turn made us a big gumbo dinner one night. It was the best I'd ever had and she wrote the recipe out for me. It took me a time or two to get the roux right...I was afraid of scorching it and have since gained more confidence. If you scorch it the first time, throw it out and start over.

 Stay warm and have a great day!

Friday, January 7, 2011

My house smelled sooooo good...

when I put my cinnamon rolls in the oven! I finally decided to make a batch yesterday afternoon. The recipe I use is very easy and can be changed to several different kinds of rolls.

2 and 1/2 cups very warm water  120 to 130 degrees
2 beaten eggs
2 packages rapid rise yeast ( I used Fleischman's)
1 box plain yellow or white cake mix...don't use the kind that has pudding in it
4 and 1/2 to 5 cups all purpose flour

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Madame Clutz...

was pulling off a paper towel last night and nearly broke her finger. I jerked it too hard and hit the wall. My daughter and I have a running joke about getting bruised just walking down the hall. Guess she got my gift of spastic limbs.

My injury came right in the middle of making hamburger steak but I managed to finish.