Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bookies ... of the Library Kind

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I hoard books. I have entirely too many of them. And I can rarely part with any one of them.

I found a site about books that I am hereby recommending BOOKRIOT.

What sold me on the site enough to subscribe and send you there was an article on literary gifts. Click the picture to go there. I have a daughter who reads. Oh how she reads. Guess what she is getting for Christmas.

The second attribute that sold me on the site was an article about cookbooks as historical and sociological sources. I love it when I find a fellow traveler.

E. H. Kern writes:
At my parents’ house, in the room where the book scorpions live, there is a cookbook from 1886. The title is Cookbook for Housekeepers. A Manual to the Current Practices of Fine Cooking and Everything That They Include. This cookbook was first published in 1822 and by 1886 it had been printed in fifteen editions.
The fact that Cookbook for Housekeepers exists tells the story of the nineteenth-century European class system. The book is not intended for the lady of the house, but for the cook working in her kitchen with a kitchen staff. ... read more at the link. 
And then I found my way to this Poster just googling 'literary gifts.' Bless my google finger. I have to have one. You can find a poster you love HERE. I have no monetary interest in these recommendations, Bookies. Enjoy.




Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lady Bird Johnson and Burning Love

One way to love a Texas garden is to burn it. I learned that from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. That Center at Texas State University seems a fitting memorial to a First Lady who was a committed environmentalist. 

I found my way to the Wildflower Center because I was doing some research at the National Archives. 

This is a photograph of the Texas Indian Mallow, a species of Abutilon like the bushy one I have growing right outside my front door in Pennsylvania. I wonder if it will be perennial here. We shall see.

I also found there another form of love Lady Bird Johnson left us - her recipe for Texas Style Chili. Now that is some burning love because her recipe was “almost as popular as the government pamphlet on the care and feeding of children.” I love the National Archives. Send some burning love.







Thursday, October 9, 2014

BuckeyeB's TEX-MEX Munch Mix

BuckeyeB has been kind enough to give me (us) her famous snack mix. You will not believe how good this is until you make it. Good to make for sports events munchies, holiday munchies, cocktail parties, etc. I give it to you as she gave it to me. 
TEX-MEX MUNCH MIX
1 box (12 oz) Cheese-It type crackers
1 stick butter (butter)
1 package Taco Seasoning Mix (I use Ortega Hot & Spicy)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
½ teasp. Seasoned salt
Pre-heat oven to 250. Spread crackers on a large foil/parchment lined cookie sheet in a single layer. I always eat a handful at this point, ‘cause the box sizes were different when I first put this recipe together, & there’re too many crackers in a 12 oz. box for my cookie sheet…& ‘cause I’m the cook & I can!
Melt butter in a small saucepan & add the rest, mixing well. Pour over crackers & mix well again. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
When the 1st batch goes in the oven, mix up another batch of the butter mix & do the same with a roaster pan full of whatever you like/have on hand, things like…
1 large can French’s Onions (no generics)
1 can salted peanuts
1 can potato sticks
Corn chips, pretzels, bagel chips, crackers…whatever. Put this pan in the oven when you stir the first batch the first time, & bake it for the remaining 45 minutes, stirring every 15, too…otherwise the onions burn.
Turn both batches out to cool...I use the top of a copy paper box...& sprinkle with a little salt of your choice. I use plain ole kosher! 
If you make a bunch of batches…like at Xmas…write down the
time you put the crackers in the oven, or you start losing track. Trust me!
ENJOY!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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When I was a child, you could buy a box of roasted Indian Brand Pumpkin Seeds at the corner candy store. The box the seeds came in had a beautiful illustration of an American Indian in full Chief's headdress. The brand is still around but the illustration is gone from the packaging.

When you get done carving that pumpkin for Halloween or just to make a pie, you can roast your own pumpkin seeds. Roasted pumpkin seeds are so good.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 and 1/2 cups raw whole Pumpkin Seeds
2 teaspoons Butter, melted
Pinch Salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally.

This recipe comes from allrecipes.com - for my money the best recipe site on the net. Cooks share their variations on the recipe and their opinions of the recipe's quality.

Cooks also share practical tips for recipe execution like this tip below. There are a lot of creative cooks in the world. This tip is from Valerie's Kitchen.



If you've never roasted pumpkin seeds before here are my tips. When you carve your pumpkins scoop the seeds into a colander and the guts onto newspaper. Inevitably some of the guts will be mixed in with the seeds but when you run water over them it's separated out pretty easily. After you drain the rinsed seeds, pour them onto a large, dry cookie sheet and let them sit for 24 hours or so to dry out. Now you can pick out the remaining pieces of pumpkin stuff that didn't get pulled out earlier and they will roast better if they are not wet when they go in the oven. My family prefers them seasoned with garlic salt in place of regular salt but you can use whatever suits your taste. So good!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October's Bright Blue Weather

Fall is my favorite season. Time to make Pumpkin Pie and enjoy good Soup. Halloween will soon be here. The colors of Fall are so rich - eggplant purple, bright blue sky, bright orange squashes. Time for children to dive into piles of golden leaves with abandon. Life is good. 
October’s Bright Blue Weather
O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather;
When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;
When Gentians roll their fringes tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;
When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;
When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;
When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;
When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October’s bright blue weather.
O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.
by Helen Hunt Jackson

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Corpse Fingers and Spider Web Soup

Every year I collect creative and amusing ways to decorate for Halloween and recipes for Halloween food. It is my favorite holiday.

The decorations this year are so witty. They have the added advantages of

1. not filling landfills with garbage that is not biodegradable

2. and they are inexpensive to make because they are easy do-it-yourself from ordinary materials you might even have around the house.

Enjoy. Happy Halloween! 

Wacky Archives has directions for making ghostly figures that you can reuse every year. And the commenters have scary refinements.


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Click the picture and learn how to make Mummy Dogs, Spider Web Soup and Corpse Fingers.

I can just about hear you and your children laughing while you make this Sick Pumpkin. Easy directions from Can Do Kids Crafts. 


Pumpkin Pie Cake

I love all the orange vegetables that come into season in the Fall. Pumpkin anything is divine. Photograph taken in Bucks County Pennsylvania at Trauger's Farm.

This cake recipe meets all my requirements: simple ingredients, easy to make, tastes really good. I am republishing this from last year in case you missed it the first time.

I made this for a family party and even those who "do not like pumpkin" had seconds. Serve warm or cool with whipped Cream or Ice Cream.

Pumpkin Pie Cake 
16 ounces canned Pumpkin
12 ounces evaporated Milk
1 1 /2 cups Sugar
3 Eggs
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie Spice (optional)
1 yellow Cake Mix
1 cup Butter (2 sticks)
1 cup chopped Pecans or Walnuts (whole Pecans are divine)
Mix together the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl.  Pour into a greased 9x13  pan.  Sprinkle the dry cake mix over the entire pumpkin mixture in the pan.  Be sure to use all of the cake mix.  Then spoon 1 cup of melted butter over the dry cake mix. Sprinkle chopped nuts over all.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.
Note: Watch this cake carefully. It may take more time in your oven. Once you have made this recipe once, you can get creative. I like to use fresh grated Nutmeg and dried Ginger instead of boxed all purpose spices. Try Spice Cake Mix or Carrot Cake Mix. Yes, you can leave the Nuts out. You can use Coconut in place of or with Nuts.

This is a forgiving recipe, so get a little crazy and create your own family version. I saw a recommendation for parchment on the bottom of the Cake and/or turning the cake over for presentation. I think using parchment is a good idea. Be sure to butter the pan and the parchment.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hen and Chickens

UPDATE: I have discovered where one can learn about Succulents in Philadelphia. Hen and Chicks is a Succulent.
The Philadelphia Cactus and Succulent Society was founded in 1942 to exchange knowledge of and experience with succulents among its members. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in growing and learning more about succulents. There are more than 100 members at all levels of expertise - beginners and experts, collectors and growers.

Gardening is a lot of work. I am a lazy gardener. I like plants that are easy to grow, good to look at and fill odd spots in the garden that would be otherwise filled with pesky weeds.

Hen and Chicks meets all my qualifications. It is easy to grow, fills odd spots, drives out weeds and is so good looking.



The plant will grow in partial shade and not much soil - both good qualities in a city garden or on a sunny window sill in Winter. Hen and Chicks produces flowers when the Hen reaches maturity. The flowers are as odd looking as they are beautiful and rare.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ms. Mary Walker's Green Tomato Chutney

I know that I am not the only gardener in Pennsylvania gazing at a bumper crop of tomatoes. Ms. Walker has been kind enough to share her recipe for Green Tomato Chutney with me.

You can learn more about Ms. Walker, British expatriate HERE. 
Unconditional surrender of Europe occurred on my 11th birthday and, in the evening my dad suggested that we ‘go for a walk’. My sister warned that we would be late for the curfew. My Dad simply answered – “It’s such a nice evening, I don’t think we’re going to worry about that tonight”. Cat’s Whisker receivers WORKED! 
Mi casa su casa. So I am sharing it with you, Cher Reader. I give it to you as she gave it to me. Stay tuned for her recipe for Garlic Jam. When Ms. Mary said Garlic Jam, I began to salivate immediately.

GREEN TOMATO CHUTNEY

5 lbs chopped green tomatoes
1 lb chopped onions
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 tsp salt
1 lb sugar
1-1/2 cups vinegar (I use either white wine vinegar or cider vinegar)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sultanas

Mix tomatoes, onions and peppercorns in a large bowl and let sit overnight (covered)
Bring vinegar and sugar to a boil (until sugar is melted) 
Add sultanas and raisins and simmer for 5 minutes
Add tomatoes and onion mixture and simmer till thick (about 40 to 45 minutes).
Put into 8 oz jars - leaving about 1/4inch head-space - and can for 15 minutes.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Portagee Joe's Cafe Shrimp Bisque

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This recipe comes from Eggs I Have Known by Corinne Griffith. It was Miss Griffith's Coconut Bars that so delighted Clark Gable. I write about those elsewhere. Of course, this cookbook is out of print. You can get a copy at Abe Books by clicking the link in the title.

I have not yet made this bisque. I am going down to the Italian Market to get the shrimp today. I expect this dish to be delicious. I give it to you verbatim. Old cookbooks are low on directions. And I do not think this movie star actually ever cooked anything. We shall see. Nip and tuck.

Portagee Joe's Cafe was one of the small cafes which could be found along Fisherman's Wharf in 1950's Monterey California.

Portagee Joe's Shrimp Bisque

1 tablespoon Celery (chopped fine)
3 tablespoons Butter
2 cups Milk
1 cup cooked Shrimp (mashed fine)
1 wineglass Sherry
1 tablespoon Onion (chopped fine)
3 tablespoons Flour
3 cups Cream
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Paprika

Cook Celery and Onion in Butter over a slow fire for 5 minutes. Place in a double boiler and cook over hot water. Add flour. Add Milk, 2 cups Cream and put remaining 1 cup of Cream aside. Cook mixture until thickened. Add Shrimp, Salt and one drop of Tabasco Sauce (approximately) and reheat. Now whip remaining cup of Cream, add Sherry to Cream and Paprika. Remove soup from stove. Add whipped Cream and stir. Serves Six.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Coffee Sweet and Hot

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I was so happy to read this today. How much do we love coffee? We love coffee so much that we write songs about coffee. Good to know that our love for that first cup in the morning is not in vain.

Why Coffee Is Good for You
Kris Gunnars, Authority Nutrition

It is more than just dark-colored liquid with caffeine. Coffee actually contains hundreds of different compounds, some of which have important health benefits.

Several massive studies have now shown that the people who drink the most coffee live longer and have a reduced risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Read more ...



Monday, July 14, 2014

Ms. Mary Walker's Cucumber Soup

This is cucumber season. We are inundated with them. What to do? Make this delicious Cucumber Soup. I give it to you verbatim - straight from Ms. Walker's keyboard.
A note from Ms. Walker:
It's not my recipe. It comes from a 'Marks and Spencer' (British Dept. Store) cookbook called 'St. Michael's Cookery Book' - published in 1980, which I picked up at a flea market when I was visiting relatives a few years ago.

I don't need credit - but it you want to publish it and allot credit, it should be the original 'St. Michael's Cookery Book' by Jeni Wright..
Chilled Cucumber Soup
(VERY British)

2 tblsp butter for frying
1 onion (about 2inch) finely chopped
1 European cucumber diced (WITH skin and seeds - which is why it should be a European)
1-1/2 tblsp flour
20 oz hot milk
10 oz chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
And to finish - 1/2 pint heavy cream
chopped fresh mint
green food coloring - if desired

In 3 or 4 quart saucepan - saute onion and cucumber in butter - then cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes

Stir in flour and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes - stirring constantly

Remove pan from heat and gradually stir in hot milk - stir thoroughly. Stir in the stock and return to heat. Bring to gentle simmer - stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg

Lower heat - 'half cover' so steam can escape - and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes - stirring occasionally. Be sure it doesn't stick or burn.

Puree with an electric 'stick' blender or in a food processor. Should be consistency of heavy cream!

Allow to cool before refrigerating. Serve chilled with cream and mint - if desired. OR - in the winter I serve it hot with croutons. YUMMMMM!

Let me know what you think. I usually make a double batch so I can share with neighbors.
When cucumbers are in season and available I usually make the onion/cucumber sauté 'base' and freeze it until I'm ready to make soup - which is what I used this morning.

NOTE: If European cucumbers aren't available - you can use regular cukes BUT you would need to peel and seed them - so you would need 2 or 3 to equal one European.
Good Luck.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Classic American Salad Dressings

Our farm stands and markets in Pennsylvania are stocked with fresh Lettuces perfect for salad. And at least five kinds of Radish. Soon it will be too hot to cook. Here are my recipes for two classic American salad dressings. These dressings are easy to do in your blender. Yes, you can use a whisk but why?

When it is really hot, and I cannot even think of grilling, my supper is vegetables I cut up the night before, a little good cheese, and one of these dressings used as a Dip. Both these dressings keep well in the refrigerator, use common pantry items, and cost less than store-bought dressings.

Note: T. equals tablespoon and t. equals teaspoon.

Tomato based “French’ dressings appear over and again in regional cookbooks. This is my version.

Sweet and Spicy “French” Dressing

½ cup oil
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
¼ cup vinegar (red wine is the best),
1 t paprika,
½ tsp. dry mustard,
1 t bottled steak sauce or Worcestershire sauce (optional),
1 T grated onion
1 minced clove of garlic

Mix the above ingredients in your blender or with a whisk. Makes 1 and 1/3 cups of dressing. You can make this dressing without the fresh onion and garlic and it will keep a longer time in the refrigerator without separating. Just substitute garlic powder to taste or 1/4 tsp. It is more than worth it to use fresh garlic.

Green Goddess Salad Dressing was created in 1920 at the Palace Hotel in California. The classic recipe contains tarragon and chervil. I do not always have these herbs in my pantry. If you have some tarragon or chervil in your herb garden, add 1 T minced. This recipe is legal on the Atkins diet and stores well in the refrigerator.

Supermarket Green Goddess Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup chopped parsley
3 T chopped onion or green onion or chives
2 T vinegar (tarragon or wine are the best) or lemon juice
4 anchovy fillets, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Milk

Combine all ingredients except milk. Mix well in your blender or with a whisk. Use as a dip or dressing as is, or thin with milk to the consistency desired. Chill until very cold. This is an excellent dressing for seafood like Dungeness crab. Enjoy.



Friday, May 9, 2014

Football Food of the Jewish Persuasion

I was a chef for a very fancy dinner party on New Year's Eve 2000 for a partner in a Philadelphia law firm. You could see the Delaware River and the fireworks through huge plate glass windows. I love to do small elegant parties for 25. 

MENU
Baked Brie with Pear Chutney
Artisan Breads and Cheeses
Sushi 
Winter Squash Soup in Cups
White Asparagus and Frisee Winter Salad
Grilled Rosemary Shrimp
Filet Mignon
Baked Orzo with Garlic, Parsley and Cream
Sauce Verte
Onion Chutney
Petit Fours 

The picture of Phil Spector with the Frisee Head comes from this interesting food writer's blog. 

A Sister of the Hostess brought, and made at the party in the only oven, Baked Kosher Salami with Assorted Mustards and apologized, "So sorry, I know it is not elegant but we are Jewish and my family just love it." I am an Italian American. I never tasted kosher salami before. I cheerfully moved over and let her have at it. Good service is my motto. 

I am in her debt. I love said dish and have been known to make it for the Viper Girls and me for a quick easy meal with some good barrel Sauerkraut and Russian Black Bread. This whole long story is by way of introducing a new Appetizers recipe I found in Jewish American Cookbook of 1946 published by the Jewish Daily Forward. I produce the recipe here verbatim:

Stuffed Salami

Prepare 1 cup fried Onions mixed with 1/2 cup cleaned Mushrooms, 1 teaspoon Salt and a dash of Pepper in a frying pan. Pour 3 well beaten Eggs over the mixture, and fry over a low heat until the Eggs are cooked. While the Eggs are cooking, place 8 large slices Salami in a hot greased skillet, and fry until they are rounded like little cups. Place a bit of the Egg mixture into each Salami cup sprinkling over it a little Paprika. Yields 8 portions.


Time for Some Attitude Adjustment

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. - Abraham Lincoln




Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Reading to Cats

This is the feel-good Pennsylvania story of the month. I love cats.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County PA has a program called “Book Buddies.” Children volunteer to read to sheltered cats. Via Reddit.
Have patience if you go to their website. Everyone is going there for more information, more pictures and to donate to this great program. The boy in the photo thought he was "too dumb" to learn to read. Nope. His reading and grades have improved tremendously. And the cats are finding forever homes. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ghetto Garden Fabulous

My New Fig among the Daffodils
My house is an HUD house I bought as a veritable shell a decade ago. I have had to dedicate any money I had to serious repairs like putting in a heating system and erecting a front door.

I love to garden. However, my garden gets the least investment in terms of capital available. Nevertheless, I have turned it from hard packed clay with a scraggly lawn I had to mow to its present state.

I scavenged antique bricks from old house and we made a walk. Who wants a lawn to mow? Not me. I use fallen tree branches to make garden beds. I use chunks of cement. I scavenge fallen leaves that others bag up for compost.

I write a lot about garden design here. Even so, I did not realize quite what I was doing until my Daughter suggested I get some nicer paving stones on a trip to the garden store. I recoiled. And I was not sure why. I mean, I just spent $50.00 on new fig trees.

And then the light dawned. I like the scavenging. Saves money so I can indulge in fig trees. It is a challenge. I just did not know it was a design theme. I scavenged every single one of those Iris and in another few weeks they will be glorious. I have the Herbs in and my Blueberries are doing fine.

My garden theme is Ghetto Fabulous. Example is the old ladder. It is a bean tower. I think it will be beautiful. We shall see. God bless my Daughter. Eventually she will whip me into shape. One way or another. Kind of like my garden.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Football Food - Texas Weiners

I am not a football fan. I am often surrounded by football fans who, on crucial game days, require sustenance that is easy to make and goes well with beer.

I make Texas Weiners with this sauce and chopped onions. This sauce is HOT so exercise discretion. For a milder sauce, omit the Cayenne Pepper.

The sign in the picture actually comes from Plainfield NJ. It is one of the original Texas Weiner joints in business since 1924. The Texas Weiner was actually created by a Greek in Paterson NJ.

The recipe comes from a chef who posted on the old AOL Comfort Food Board named Big Saab Guy. He actually lives in Texas. It will dress about 2 dozen hot dogs. I give it to you as he gave it to the board. You can keep the Sauce and the Hot Dogs warm separately and the football fanatics can assemble and eat at will. Give lots of napkins.

Texas Hot Dog Sauce

1 pound finely ground Beef
3 tablespoons Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon White Vinegar
2 cups Water

Very thoroughly brown Beef and drain. You want the pieces to be as small as possible. Really work to break them up as you brown them.

Add the spices and mix well. Add the Water and simmer for one hour, uncovered, stirring often. It should be the consistency of something like tomato soup.

Stir in the Vinegar. Then serve as follows: put a thin smear of Yellow Mustard on both sides of an open hot dog roll, then insert the Hot Dog, then a layer of finely chopped Onion, then drizzle the top with about a tablespoon of the Sauce.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Treats for Baby


“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” ― Will Rogers
I love my dog. She is my baby and that is her name, Baby. I fuss over her because she fusses over me. I make her these treats from Sadie Dell. Baby will not eat any other kind of dog treat.

Sadie Dell's Dog Biscuits

2 and 1/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup powdered Milk
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Egg
6 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
8 to 10 tablespoons Water
2 small jars of strained Baby Food (beef, chicken, lamb or liver)

Mix all the ingredients together and knead for 3 minutes. Roll out 1/2 inch thick. Using a dog bone shaped cookie cutter or the baby food jar, cut biscuits and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven set at 350 degrees.for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen doggie biscuits.




Eeek! Are Cats Evolving?


“Curiosity killed the cat,” Fesgao remarked, his dark eyes unreadable. Aly rolled her eyes. Why did everyone say that to her? “People always forget the rest of the saying,” she complained. “‘And satisfaction brought it back.” ― Tamora PierceTrickster's Choice




Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was a famous aficionado of polydactyl cats, after being first given a six-toed cat by a ship's captain. Upon Hemingway's death in 1961, his former home in Key West, Florida, became a museum and a home for his cats, and it currently houses approximately fifty descendants of his cats (about half of which are polydactyl). Because of his love for these animals, polydactyl cats are sometimes referred to as "Hemingway Cats".

Some sources state that these cats are rare in Europe because they were killed as witches' familiars,[3] but other sources indicate that they are quite common in southern Britain.[2] - Wikipedia.

Indy the Smart Cat can open jars without a thumb.



Monday, March 31, 2014

Food and Artists

I have an ongoing interest in Food Art. Food Artists continue to redefine the relationship between Art and Food. It is not just about the plate and the table anymore. Or even the advertising business. It seems like a culture shift. We are looking at food itself in new ways.

I thank Providence for visually oriented folks like Alice who created Fine Art of Food.  Go there for more images that will startle and amaze.

Fantastic Food Photo Manipulations by Jean Francois De Witte



Incredible Food Landscapes by Carl Warner



Hyperrealistic Food Paintings by Tjalf Sparnaay



Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wildflowers in the Garden

Wildflowers are more than beautiful. Wildflowers attract benefical insects to my garden. Those insects control garden pests without the use of poisons. And benefical insects pollinate the vegetables, flowers and herbs in my backyard garden.


No plot is too small to farmscape for productivity and insect pest control. This farmscape plot looks suspiciously like a flower border.


I found this glorious Wildflower site to share with you. You can sort Wildflowers by color, region, common name and a host of other qualifications.
WildflowerInformation.org is a resource for wildflower enthusiasts and gardeners. With a growing interest in the environment and natural gardening, our objective is to offer comprehensive information that is easy to use, and accessible for those from the casually interested to the expert. 
And one great site leads to another. 

The Tulip is from Curtis's Botanical Magazine. Volumes 1- 63. 1787-1863.

More images like it can be found at the National Agricultural Library Special Collections Image Gallery. 

One can find the vintage covers of Japanese Seed Catalogues and illustrations from Rare Books and Posters in the Special Collections.

I spent hours going throught the Special Collections Image Gallery. I wish you the same enjoyment.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Chicken Mushrooms

Mushrooms are beautiful and they taste divine. We have a brand new urban farmer and food purveyor in Philly and you can see their logo on the right.

Their blog is Chicken Mushrooms. If you go there, you will learn more about Mushrooms than you ever thought you wanted to know. 

You will find recipes for Mushroom delicacies there. You can buy a kit to grow Mushrooms. You can find out about Mushroom Seminars teaching how to find wild edible Mushrooms and how to grow your own at home.

I love Mycopolitan's Statement of Purpose:

In short we’re building Philly’s first mushroom farm where we plan to:

1-Grow gourmet varieties for local restaurants and a retail establishment or two

2- Grow and make stuff for hobbyist mushroom growers of all levels

3- Research new varieties such as the namesake of this blog which hasn’t had much press lately

4- Research new agricultural and environmental applications for fungi

5- Go wherever the mushrooms lead us.





Thursday, March 27, 2014

Asparagus inspires gentle thoughts. - Charles Lamb


Homegrown Asparagus becomes available in Pennsylvania from April through June. I love asparagus so much I am already salivating with anticipation. The photograph comes from Petr Kratochvil. 

Everyone has favorite ways to eat Asparagus. My Mother, the  Polka Queen, made Creamed Asparagus on Toast. This recipe for Chinese Asparagus Salad is one of my favorites. A list of pick-your-own farms in Eastern Pennsylvania can be found HERE. 

Chinese Asparagus Salad

2 pounds fresh Asparagus
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vinegar (Cider or White Wine are good)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil

Some folks peel Asparagus and you can if you want to. I never do. I just snap it. Wash the Asparagus well. Cut the spears diagonally across in 1 1/2 inch lengths. Cook the pieces of Asparagus for one minute in boiling water. Then drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Mix all the other ingredients (soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, salt and oil) together in a large bowl. Add Asparagus and toss. Serve chilled.



Three Sisters in the Garden

I have been a lazy but thinking gardener ever since I first read Ruth Stout's How to Have a Green Thumb without an Aching Back. Say the words "natural weed control" and I become interested. Add some Native American history to the mix and you have more of my attention and interest. The Three Sisters planting method is featured on the reverse of the US Sacajawea Native American dollar coin. The Three Sisters are Corn, Squash and Beans.

I went hunting in Google Land. It is amazing where a good graphic can lead you. I like things simple. Keep it simple, Sweetie is my motto.













I learned that this garden is simple to do. Except for the getting dirty and doing the digging part. I cannot think of an activity that would be more fun for parents and children. My children loved digging in dirt and picking the flowers.

Making a Three Sisters Garden is an excellent teaching tool for science classes. There is an entire class lesson plan at the link.

Cultivating these companions in your school garden, a small patch near the building, a barrel, or even indoors, can inspire studies of Native American customs, nutrition, and folklore. As students dig in, investigations of plant growth and relationships will also flourish. - Creating a Three Sisters Garden

I learned a Three Sisters Garden is beautiful and became determined to put this planting into my own small backyard.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pie-A-Month - February and March 2014


I almost let February and March go by without Pie recipes. I get the doldrums in February. Sometimes I do not recover until April.

I make up for neglect here, I hope, with two vintage Pie recipes from Simpson-Fletcher's Soul Food Recipes. Both of these Pies are good for Winter desserts because they do not require fresh Fruit. I reproduce them verbatim. My Aunt Carrie, rest in peace you Great Cook, made the Tutti Fruitti Pie a lot. It is good and inexpensive.

Miss Agnes Moore's Peanut Butter Pie
a la Carver

1 1/4 cups Chocolate Cookie crumbs
1/4 cup white Sugar
1/4 cup Butter

1 (8 ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Confectioners Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping Cream
1 cup creamy Peanut Butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine Cookie Crumbs, Sugar, and Butter; and then press into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes and cool.
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In a mixing bowl, beat Cream Cheese, 1 cup Sugar, and Vanilla until smooth. Then beat in the Peanut Butter in small amounts until well mixed. Whip the cream and gently fold into the peanut butter mixture. Spoon filling into crust. Garnish pie with chocolate or cookie crumbs if desired. Refrigerate for several hours or freeze (best choice) before serving.

Miss Maxie Gaine's Tutti Frutti Cream Pie

1 cup Sugar
2 cups Milk
1 tablespoon Corn Starch
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Butter
2 Eggs
1 tablespoon Flour
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 cup canned Fruit Cocktail, well drained

Heat one cup Sugar, Milk and Butter together. Make a smooth paste of Flour, Salt and Corn Starch with a little Water. Add this gradually to the heated Milk. Separate Eggs. Beat Yolks well; blend into the Milk mixtures, stirring constantly to keep smooth; cook 5 minutes over low heat until mixture becomes thick. Remove from heat and fold in well drained Fruit Cocktail. Pour into a baked Pie Shell. Beat the Egg Whites until stiff and blend in two tablespoons of Sugar until very smooth. Spoon onto the Pie filling. Place in a 300 degree oven until light brown.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Back Garden Dreaming in Snowy Philadelphia

Borage
SPRING will be here March 21 and I am dreaming my new garden. I have a very small back garden. Every year I do something different. Ask me "So what is new and exciting" and I will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about Bees.

You can grow Things to Eat and Flowers in the smallest space. If you are new to gardening and/or tend to be neat and like structure, you may find Square Foot Gardening of use. Or you may plant a Spiral Garden. Or grow vegetables in a pipe. 

Origanum Syriacum
I come from Farmer stock and I am of the "just throw it in there and see if it grows" school of garden thought. Nature is wild and so am I.

Even I dream and plan. You have to plan. Ever grow too many Zucchini? No? Never do that. Your neighbors will only absorb so much Zucchini before they run when they see you coming.

This year I am adding two new Herbs, lovely blue Borage to attract Bees and an exotic Oregano used to make a condiment called Zaatar to sprinkle on my Hummus. It is so worth it to grow Herbs. I thought I hated Oregano until I grew some and tasted the dried Herb I grew myself. Nothing like that dessicated stuff in the supermarket. And I sent for my Fig Tree.

Every warmish sunny day I am outside staring prayerfully at my Texas Star Hibiscus and hoping for that first shoot. I planted it last Summer. It is said to be hardy but it has been a long snowy Winter here in Philadelphia. Even in Texas they pamper it. We shall see. No room in a row house garden for sissy plants.










Last but not least, I am excited about the Three Sisters garden concept, so I am going to squeeze in one of them somewhere. Squash tends to spread. I have too much shade from neighboring back gardens. So maybe I will have to borrow a garden? And so my fevered garden dreams grow and go.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Adopt a Penguin

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Calling all Knitters. Sick Penguins need sweaters. Knit and purl, Darlings. 

For those wishing to donate a jumper, the island’s Penguin Foundation has created a handy knitting pattern guide. "Jumper" is Australian for sweater. 

If you cannot knit, send a bit of money. They probably need the gelt more than they need the jumpers. "Gelt" is Yiddish for money or treasure. Just my opinion. Money is always in good taste. 


If you love Penguins as much as I do, consider making a trip to see the Penquin Parade. Failing that, knitting a Penguin Sweater is a great way to pass knitting knowledge to a new generation and teach love of nature and geography. Get busy. Be Happy!

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