Friday, July 8, 2011

A Snake in a Basket

Take care that you buy handcrafted items at festivals because you really like them, and not because of any claims the hawker makes. Here's a fine fellow who sold baskets to me and my friends at a local festival. He said that his family made them on a small island near Savannah.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Pickle Factory

Do you have access to lots of cucumbers this summer? I mean the kind that come from a local vine and not the waxed foreign variety. If you do, it's worth making this recipe for sweet pickle relish. You can't buy this stuff, so I warn you that once you make it, you'll get hooked on the flavor and will have to make more next year. Oh, and if you give it away as gifts, then your friends will be hinting around for another jar in just a few days. So yummy! Here's the recipe:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

"Many public-school children seem to know only two dates: 1492 and 4th of July; and as a rule they don't know what happened on either occasion."
-  Mark Twain

Don't forget the reason we celebrate the day! Happy Birthday, America!

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches and ceremonies, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.  ~Wikipedia

With love from me to you...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Mediterranean Pea Salad Recipe

Fresh, tangy, and crunchy, this is a great salad for your Independence Day picnic. It's healthy, too. I've added variations at the end of the recipe for turning it into a main dish salad.

In case you're tempted to use bottled salad dressing, please don't. This is super easy and bottled dressings just add too much sodium and oil and "bottled dressing funk" flavor to an otherwise super delicious salad. Here's the easy recipe:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Double Day Lily, Golden Corn Muffin Recipe

This is a recipe for simply delicious corn muffins. It's adapted from the Farm Journal's Complete Home Baking Book, copyright 1979, the year Bob & I married. My grandmother gave me the cookbook for a gift my first Christmas as a wife. I love that she signed the first page. Unless it's a first edition or valuable collector's book, you should always sign books that you give as gifts. It might bring someone joy to remember you when they open their book, even decades later.

Here's the recipe, right below the photo I took yesterday of a flower that was given to me years ago. When it blooms every summer, I am reminded of the dear lady who gave it to me. Oh, and at the end of this post you'll see a photo of one of our very traditional vegetable plate suppers. (The tiny bit of ham that seasons the beans doesn't count.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Potting Bench, Fried Okra Recipe

I've long wanted a potting bench with a nice deep sink for scrubbing and soaking pots and vegetables, so when I found this sink at a local Habitat store for just $10, I snatched it up. Bob was so inspired that he built this potting bench around my sink the very next day, just in time for washing all the okra I harvested from our garden. He installed a faucet as well as an extension of the garden hose for a sprayer. Right now I catch the water coming out of the drain in a 5 gallon bucket, and use that water to give my flowers a drink. I think he's brilliant and so very thoughtful!

Here's a recipe for fried okra, right below this photo of my wonderful new potting bench. You can see Bob and his "helpers" in the first picture.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Freezing Basil, Photo of Cuties

Ever wonder if you can freeze basil? You sure can. Here's my first harvest, three big, beautiful, aromatic plants. I'll tell you how to successfully freeze your basil so it won't turn black. And speaking of black, there's a picture of two of the three "Cuties" down there at the bottom of this post. :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Magnolia Flower, Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe

This is magnolia flower season here in the South, and the fragrance is incredibly strong and lovely. Break off a blossom, place it in a pretty vase, and put it on the table on the porch. Sit back and watch the bees, so intoxicated by the flower they will pay no attention to you, as you can see in this photo of one busy little bee.

Friday, June 17, 2011

There's nothing so good for the inside of a man 
as the outside of a horse. ~ Ronald Reagan

Horses at Swift Creek Kennel
With love from me to you...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Aunt Julia's Yellow Squash Casserole Recipe, Bob & Debbie 1980

I lived my whole life in Pennsylvania until Bob & I were married. He took me to Atlanta to meet the whole clan, and I remember feeling that I'd never experienced anyplace more hot and humid than Georgia in July. It was 106 degrees the day we took all Bob's little cousins to Six Flags over Georgia. Uncle Buster's teeth almost flew out of his mouth on the roller coaster! Here's a photo of us way back when we were first starting out together. Oh, the memories!!!

Bob & Debbie in 1980

Atlanta Bob's late Great Aunt Julia gave his mother this recipe and she passed it along to me. Happiness is family recipes passed down through the generations! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fence Garden & Southern Sweet Tea Recipe

Remember when my fence garden looked like this in February? Scroll down to see it in June!
Fence Garden in February

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Invite Hummingbirds to Your Yard, Recipe for Nectar

Hummingbird at my feeder
This was the first hummingbird of the season for me. Put your feeder out as soon as the azaleas begin to bloom and then wait with great anticipation for the first little male to arrive. He'll scout out the territory and soon the larger, but less brightly colored, females will join him. If you haven't put out your feeder yet, it's not too late. One of my friends told me yesterday that she'd neglected to put out her hummingbird feeder, and a returning hummer hovered at her kitchen window as if to remind her to feed him! Here's how you make the food and maintain the feeder:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Happiness is a Garden of Girlfriends, Lemon Bars

Garden Club Lemon Bars
Lemon Bars are a true Southern tradition, and I took mine to our garden club luncheon this spring. Everybody brought salads and desserts, many made from recipes appearing in our state garden club cookbook, and there was much laughter and happy conversation served with our delicious food. Here's my recipe for lemon bars. It's really easy and so quick to make that you can do this when you don't have much time to spend in the kitchen. Just a few ingredients and less than an hour results in a perfect summer treat. Here's the recipe:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Best Baked Spaghetti & Easy Does It Roses

Did you make the Really Easy Marinara Sauce from my last post? If you didn't, you can certainly use store-bought marinara sauce in this recipe. You can make this a completely meatless meal, or brown a pound of ground beef and some Italian sausage and add that to the sauce. The last time I made this (last week) I sauteed onion, bell pepper, chopped zucchini, and sliced crimini mushrooms and added those to the sauce instead of meat. You are only limited by your imagination!

Best Baked Spaghetti
(Based on a recipe from Rowe's Restaurant in Staunton, VA)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Really Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce & Eagle Nest Photo

You don't have to use the most expensive canned tomatoes for this sauce. I used my grocery store's Clear Value brand, which was .67 per 14 1/2 ounce can. I also used Riunite Lambrusco red wine, which was about $4 a bottle. It's really quite fruity and my favorite wine for this. It's a very good value recipe!

Really Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce

4 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste (I like my sauce zippy but not deadly.)
1/2 c. red wine (not sweet)
3 (28 oz.) cans (or equivalent) diced tomatoes in juice
1 (28 oz.) can (or equivalent) tomato sauce
Italian herb blend of choice, about 1 tablespoon or to taste

Monday, May 30, 2011

Baffled Again!

Lately the squirrels have gotten more aggressive. We've had to resort to using a baffle (dome-shaped device) to thwart their attacks on our feeder. Of course, they do have two feeders of their own but, as the population has exploded this year, they empty those quickly and head for the bird feeder. They cannot get into this tubular feeder, so they chew the wire to break it. The feeder drops to the ground and it's "belly up to the buffet" time for the whole squirrelly neighborhood! You can make your own baffle or, as we did, purchase one that is pictured here. How it works is that when the squirrel jumps onto the baffle, it tilts sideways and dumps the squirrel off. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pink Salad for Cookouts, Pink Hibiscus

You just can't go wrong with this dessert-like fruit "salad." It'll go great with those ribs from the last post, and kids of all ages will love it. I can vouch for that, because it's made an appearance at every family cookout at the lake for decades. Here's the super simple recipe:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

BBQ Pork Ribs with Sweet Rum Glaze, Rio Samba Rose

Just in time for Memorial Day, here's one of my favorite recipes. Hope you enjoy it, too! 

Easy Barbecued Pork Ribs
with Sweet Rum Glaze

Serves 4

Monday, May 23, 2011

Westminster Chimes & Aunt Vida's Whole Fried Potatoes

What are the sounds and aromas that conjure up happy memories for you? Just let me roast a chicken, fry potatoes, and hear Westminster chimes from our mantel clock and I'm transported back to the Victorian house where my Great Aunt Vida & Great Uncle Jimmy lived. Sadly, Uncle Jimmy's been gone for a long time. Aunt Vida turned 104 years old this year. She taught 3rd grade Sunday school for 70 years and worked alongside her husband in their photography studio. She never had children but she had lots of toys and games for me to play with when I visited. She was a great cook, too. See her recipe for Whole Fried Potatoes below.

This isn't her clock but it has the same chime, and that's what counts. Every time it rings, I get all warm and fuzzy....and happy...inside. :-) 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sugar Snap Peas from the Garden & Recipe

The first time I ever remember tasting sugar snap peas was at my grandmother's house. She served them with stewed new potatoes, all mixed together with lots of sweet, creamy, salty butter. I've loved them ever since, and the recipe is after the photos below.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Get Back Here, Gnomeo!

Warning! If you have an irrational fear of garden gnomes, please watch this video before exploring the rest of this post. (It will make you smile, it's so darn cute!)

There is a whole generation of us who were scared witless by that old Twilight Zone episode about the evil garden gnomes, but when I saw this little guy at Big Lots years ago, I knew he was the perfect gnome for my garden. You see, he carries a bell, so I knew that I'd be able to keep track of him if he decides to move around the yard....and stalk me in the dark.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Quick & Easy Knitting Project & the Farm Peacock

Little thoughtful gifts from the heart remind your friends how much you love them. After one of my cross-country moves, I was pregnant and exhausted as my toddler and I unpacked boxes. I came close to tears when I found that my friend and old neighbor had tucked one of her hand-knitted dishcloths into the top of a box filled with pots and pans. I felt the warmth and comfort of her hug across the miles.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Easy Cherry Salad Recipe & Playing with Color

Color-Enhanced Photo "Going Down the Drain"
I was fooling around with a rather colorless photo I took of water draining down the overflow pipe in our farm pond, and really like this effect, which you can see in this version of the photo. Check below the Cherry Salad recipe to see the original, and let me know what you think.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Not-Green Pea & Potato Soup & Pea Sprout Update

Not-Green Pea & Potato Soup with Buttermilk
Not-Green Pea & Potato Soup with Buttermilk
If the words "pea soup" conjure up visions of Linda Blair's head swinging crazily on her shoulders, take heart. The fresh or frozen sweet English peas in this soup float in a flavorful broth thickened with mashed russet potatoes. The comfort-food flavors of potatoes and peas are brightened by the tang of whole milk buttermilk, and the entire thing comes together in about 25 minutes. Combine that with the healthy nutrition content, and I think it's a real winner. I hope you will, too.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tote Bags & Happy Girl Friends

Happiness is Girlfriends!
 I just got back from a long weekend in Atlanta with some of my girlfriends (including my mother-in-law, who is the "E" in this photo). We went to the Southeastern Flower Show, lunch at a tea room, shopping at Collector's Corner, and enjoyed The Leader of the Pack at the Strand Theater in Marietta. We all stayed at my mother-in-law's house in Peachtree City, and it was like one big slumber party with great shopping, dining, and lots of laughter and girl talk. I made our shopping bags as a surprise, and everyone was thrilled and surprised to get one with their own initial embellished on the front. It made me very happy to see all the smiles!

I think you might like to know how to make these bags

Monday, March 7, 2011

And My Heart Soars

Eel River, California, USA

And My Heart Soars

The beauty of the trees, 
the softness of the air,the fragrance of the grass, speaks to me. 
The summit of the mountain, the thunder of the sky,
the rhythm of the sea, speaks to me. 
The faintness of the stars, the freshness of the morning,
the dew drop on the flower, speaks to me. 
The strength of fire, the taste of salmon,
the trail of the sun, and the life that never goes away,They speak to me. 
And my heart soars.

~Chief Dan George (1899-1991)

With love, from me to you...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Clam Chowda & Bar Harbor Buoy Bell

Bar Harbor Buoy Wind Chime
It was a very windy day today. We have three wind chimes hanging from the big oak tree that grows up through the back deck. The first one hung was a gift from my husband to me, and is melodious and my favorite. Its sound is like the old kind of church bells. The second one (in chronological order of acquisition) is a heavy, hand-made chime that was ringing merrily when we happened upon it in the desert southwest. It takes a tremendous wind to move it to chime here in South Carolina. We begin to worry when our "desert" wind chime begins to rock 'n roll. The third is one that we brought back with us from a driving tour of New England two years ago, and was crafted to sound just like the buoy bell out in the middle of the harbor at Bar Harbor, Maine.

Happy memories are often triggered by sound, and little did we realize when we bought the buoy bell wind chime during our visit to Bar Harbor that it would bring us so much daily joy. It rang merrily today. I sat on the deck this evening and closed my eyes. I listened to the buoy bell clanging, now with the wind instead of the waves, but I could still taste the chowda.....

"A New England clam chowder, made as it should be, is a dish to preach about, to chant praises and sing hymns and burn incense before. To fight for. The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought for--or on--clam chowder; part of it at least, I am sure it was. It is as American as the Stars and Stripes, as patriotic as the national Anthem. It is 'Yankee Doodle in a kettle.'" ~Joseph C. Lincoln (1870-1944)

The best chowder we had was at a small fisherman's co-op and was made by the fishermen's wives. Of course, they didn't have an exact recipe, but had a "method," and I'll share it with you here just as they shared it with me there on the pier, on a sunny, breezy day in New England.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sun-Kissed Forsythia

Forsythia Blossoms
Late this afternoon the sun kissed the early blooming forsythia bush in my front yard for just a moment. It was a special and very private moment of joy to watch the shrub glow brightly, and I grabbed my camera and raced into the yard

Monday, February 28, 2011

Effortless Overnight Sticky Buns & Puppy Love on the Farm

This is a perfect addition to breakfast when you have overnight guests because what, after all, smells better than bread baking with butter, cinnamon, and

Friday, February 25, 2011

Martina Leslie Artwork & "Dooder"

"Rio Umbrellas" by Martina Leslie
"Girl with Adirondack Chair" by Martina Leslie

Just tell me these paintings don't make you feel the heat of the sun, hear the cries of sea gulls, and smell the

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Front Door Peacock

Front Door Peacock
Can you believe that I just took this picture looking through the glass on my front door? I had just

Monday, February 21, 2011

Beef Stew & Blue Skies

One of the great things about slow cooking is that you can put dinner in the oven (or slow-cooker) and forget about it while you do something else. Yesterday, I was so happy to be out working in the garden and enjoying our Carolina sunshine and not worrying about supper. The added bonus to slow cooking is

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend Photos from the Farm

Our horses are retired and happy. That's my husband, our new farm hand,
Betsy the Beagle, and

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Peas Please!

Deer Pellets
City girls probably don't know what this is, but if you're a gardener, you'll recognize the calling card of one of my garden's most voracious intruders: the whitetail deer.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Frugal In the Garden, Frugal in the Kitchen


Frugality is spending money wisely. Buying a hat is a frugal thing because it will prevent future costly damage that the sun can do to your skin. A girlfriend gave me this cute John Deere hat, and I think of her out on the plains of Nebraska, where she and her husband raise cattle and grain. Every time I wear it, it makes me  happy. Give a friend a hat,