Friday, November 23, 2012

Brown and Serve

     Brown and Serve rolls remind me of Thanksgiving and of my mother. She prided herself on her roast turkey and homemade stuffing and she always served Brown and Serve rolls. She would take the whole pan of brown little rolls out of the oven, so hot they burned your finger tips, and she would split them and insert a slab of real butter in each roll before she brought them to the table.

     Once my cousin's girlfriend came to Thanksgiving dinner. She picked up a roll and said, with much surprise, "It's buttered!" She picked up another and said, "It's buttered!" She started laughing so hard as she inspected each roll that she peed herself right there in the kitchen.

     I wasn't there for that occasion, but I heard about it. It became a family story since my cousin married the girl. I haven't seen them in many years, but I have to believe that this story still comes up every year. I know it crosses my mind every time I eat Brown and Serve rolls.

     Many years after my father died, my mother got remarried to a long time bachelor who had been in the Navy. It didn't last, though. I should have known when she made a magnificent turkey dinner for him on their first Thanksgiving and he came in the kitchen 1/2 hour before the dinner was ready and made himself a ham sandwich.

     Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New fall mug from the Dollar Store. I sure hope we get a fall this year.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fascinating Ghost Story from old England

 The Treasurer's House, York - from Mike Perry's website

 Roman soldier - from Mike Perry's website

It must have been 8 or 10 years ago when my friend Alan told me a story. Several friends, including Alan and his wife, were sitting around my living room drinking wine and listening to a CD of bawdy English drinking songs when Alan started talking. It seems that his father was a master plumber. He was working in the basement of an old building - Alan thinks he said it was a pub. He was digging a trench for a drain pipe when his shovel hit stone. His assistant, Harry, was up on a ladder near by. Alan's father claimed he heard a trumpet and turned around to see a troop of Roman soldiers marching through the basement. He stood in wonder as they marched right through him as well. The strange thing was that he could only see the soldiers from the knees up. It turned out that an old Roman road ran through the basement a couple of feet below the dirt floor. The soldiers were apparently marching on the old Roman road. Alan's father told the story his whole life and Alan told the story to all of us in the living room that night.
Skip forward to today for the rest of the story. Alan was doing some research on the internet when he stumbled across the exact same story as told by Harry, the assistant. Here is a link to a website 67 Not Out - coincidence, synchronicity and other mysteries of life ..... by Mike Perry and a picture of the building which is now an historic site. Apparently, Alan's father and his assistant were not the only ones to see the Roman soldiers over the years. Alan has found some other information including a video on You Tube.

Here is what Alan wrote when he sent me the link:

Harry” is the plumbers apprentice working with my dad at the time.

I remember my dad telling me that “the kid” (the apprentice Harry) “fell off his ladder and took of up the stairs like a bat out of hell” .

Although he doesn’t mention more Roman soldiers carrying one of those Roman flag-pole things  -  he probably didn’t see that part as he was too busy falling off the ladder .

Strangely enough, the date on Mike Perry's post is June 4, 2012. Just yesterday. Check out Mike's posting for today in which he mentions the Transit of Venus which occurred today.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Joy of Sandwiches

Sandwiches were not a special treat when I was growing up. I remember bologna, white bread, and yellow mustard, but only for lunch. Sometimes we had hamburgers. There must have been an occasional grilled cheese but even that was a quick fix instead of a REAL supper. So, I felt somewhat dismayed when my husband started requesting sandwiches for supper.

He came from a sandwich family. I learned from him to make a  trip to the deli for baked ham, turkey, rare roast beef, corned beef, and provolone cheese. We had to have onion rolls, rye bread, coleslaw, grainy mustard, and horseradish sauce.

For a quick trip to the beach, don't make a fuss. Just stack some sliced lunch meat on plain bread with a little mustard. And when you stop for beer, sodas, and ice, grab some Pringles potato chips. It is amazing how appetizing those plain old sandwiches taste after a day on the water.

For a family celebration, such as Easter, spread all the deli meat, bread, and cheeses on a picnic table with condiments, lettuce, tomato, deviled eggs, pickles, homemade potato salad, some sliced watermelon and a beautiful cake.

For a late night snack or for breakfast the next day, try an onion bagel with spicy mustard, deli meat, and cheese, heated up in a toaster oven. .

Sometimes I crave sandwiches -- from plain old bologna or tuna salad on white bread to a homemade Reuben on toasted rye with sauerkraut, hot mustard, corned beef, and melted cheese. I had that craving this weekend and my husband and I have had a series of sandwiches all weekend long. It's ham for him with provolone, spicy mustard, and tomato on rye. For me, it is rare roast beef on an onion roll with tomato, cheese and horseradish sauce. I have some sliced watermelon in the fridge.

I am thinking of all the sandwiches I love. Meat loaf with ketchup on white bread, French dip roast beef with au jus, Shrimp salad on croissants, hot dogs over a camp fire in a soft hot dog bun, Philly Cheese Steak with onions and peppers, home grilled hamburgers piled high with lettuce, pickles, and tomato. Oh, don't forget BLT's or just a tomato sandwich with toasted bread and lots of mayonnaise. (No Miracle Whip for me!) Just wanted to share my sandwich craving with whoever is reading this. Happy Summer!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mom's Cooking

photo from

I love the show Mom's Cooking on Lifetime TV. It is so quirky. It is interesting to see the traditions that different families come up with and the family relationships. The host, Joe Corsano, is funny and respectful to the moms. Sometimes I see a recipe that I want to remember and make again and again. Sometimes I want to say, "No! That is not the right way to do it!" 

Here is a recipe I am anxious to try. I have always seen these Oregon Blackberries in the store and wanted to do something with them. My grandmother used to put up blackberries back in Oklahoma. This is an easy and delicious sounding recipe and the perfect way to use the new cast iron skillet that I got for myself at Christmas.

Blackberry Cobbler
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 cans blackberries
  • 2 cans blackberry juice
  • Note: I need to watch the video again, but I think she just used 2 cans of blackberries and the juice from the berries. That is what I plan to use.
  1. Mix flour and sugar until well-blended. Pour in 1 cup cold milk and mix to make batter.
  2. Heat skillet on medium high, then melt butter.
  3. Pour batter into cast-iron skillet.
  4. Pour blackberries and juice into middle of pan; do not stir.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes at 425 degrees.
I'll let you know how it comes out!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Crockpot Bean Soup

I walked into my daughter's house to see my grandson's new aquarium and smelled something delicious. The house was neat and clean. My daughter and her fiance were attending an afternoon wine tasting and concert at a nearby winery. My grandson had stayed home to play video games. In a crock pot on the counter, bean soup with ham was bubbling away.

I believe it was the first time my daughter ever made bean soup. She had seen me cooking it a few weeks earlier and asked me how to do it. I had sent home a big bowl of pinto bean soup but I wondered if her picky family would actually eat it. Apparently, they liked it and now she was making her own soup with great northern beans. It is so nice to come home from an outing to a hot meal cooking in the crock pot.

My mother always made bean soup with navy, great northern, or pinto beans. I loved it. She lived in Washington D.C. for a while and told me about the famous Senate Bean Soup. When I married, my mother-in-law also made bean soup. She had a big family and it fed a lot of people. My mother served her soup with corn bread muffins. My mother-in-law always had homemade yeast biscuits. She also served her bean soup with fried potatoes and onions. I thought that seemed too starchy, but the flavors go together beautifully. Fried potatoes are another way to feed a lot of people inexpensively. When I was raising my children, I often made bean soup, rice and cornbread. It was a healthy, filling meal. My husband loved it and I guess the children ate it, though I don't remember it being their favorite.

I always made bean soup in a big pot on the top of the stove like my mother did. I have accidentally burned the soup many times when too much water cooked away. Anyone who has smelled burned beans will remember that smell. I learned to transfer the soup to a different pot without scraping the bottom and could usually save the soup.

One New Year's day, I visited my brother and sister-in-law for traditional black-eyed peas. (Good Luck!) She was cooking her soup in the crock pot! For some reason, I had never thought of that. Water doesn't cook away in a crock pot. I learned that lesson the hard way in the beginning by adding too much water to other dishes and ending up with watery, tasteless roasts and stews. That property of the crock pot works great for beans, though. No more burnt beans!

Anyway, my picky daughter, who describes herself as a carnivore, has added bean soup to her repertoire. That makes me happy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

One-of-a-Kind Flavor

The route home from my new job takes me right by a Dairy Queen. I confess that a combination of nostalgia and relief sometimes causes me to turn into the drivethru. The relief comes from getting through another day at a new job. After being out of work for a few years and working for a friend and taking over a job from my daughter, which she did very well, I am finding this new job a little nerve wracking. Fun and exciting, but also a little difficult. There are lots of new things to learn and a new relationship to forge with an old friend, now my boss. I want so much for her business to do well both for her sake and my own. It is getting easier and orders are coming in. I only work for a few hours, two days a week. So I stop at the Dairy Queen. I usually order a chili dog. A messy choice, but I manage to polish it off at stop lights before I get home. The other day, though, I ordered the chicken strip basket. I had the idea I would share it with my husband when I got home but that didn't happen. I didn't even tell him what I did. I was too embarrassed.

The Dairy Queen nostalgia comes from my teenage years. My father died when I was fifteen. My mother had come home from work every day for many years and immediately started making supper. After my father died, she went on strike for about a year. On the days when she got her hair done after work, she would bring home burgers and fries from the Wide Awake Cafe. Since my father was the only driver in the family and I was a few months short of getting my driver's license, my mother would send a taxi to the nearby Dairy Queen for supper sometimes. Back before KFC and Pizza Hut, we got the chicken strip baskets for the whole family. I am sure the cab fare cost more than the food. It was blazingly hot when it arrived. Four big strips of crispy chicken fingers, thick Texas toast, and fries with a cup of white gravy. Ymmm!

After all these years and in a different part of the country, the flavor was still the same except for the toast which was just regular sliced bread. That got me thinking about how a dish can have a unique taste and texture when a certain restaurant (or person) makes it. A combination of specific ingredients and cooking techniques sometimes creates a one-of-a-kind flavor. That is what makes a special dish special I guess. Good cooks are often accused of holding out a secret ingredient in their special dishes, but I think it is more subconscious than that. Little habits and techniques that are so natural they are not spoken are what make the difference.

Take my mother's country style steak, for instance. I watched her pound flour and salt and pepper into a round steak with the edge of a saucer and then brown it and simmer it with water and onions until it fell apart and produced a rich brown gravy. I have never gotten the same results. My aunt Nellie's pineapple upside down cake was baked in a cast iron skillet and had crispy, sweet, caramelized edges. Mine is always a little soggy. My ex-mother-in-law's yeast biscuits, which I watched her whip together so many times, were baked on a blackened baking sheet coated with bacon grease. She would drag each biscuit briefly through the bacon grease and then flip it over to produce a crispy topped, chewy, but tender biscuit. I have never come close to creating those biscuits. The southern fast food chain of Bo Jangles had biscuits that resembled hers, but they closed the only one near me.

I ate the whole chicken strip basket on the way home. It tasted so good. I even tasted the hopeful excitement of a 15-year-old girl with all of life's possibilities ahead of her and a hot, tasty supper arriving in a paper bag delivered by a taxi driver. My mother eventually started cooking again when my brother and I begged her to. Mom, I miss you.