The Once and Future Queen

This is for the prompt at Real Toads, Doppelganger. We are asked if we look like someone else or if someone looks like us or if we have ever met a twin. My twin is a TV cooking show celebrity – Ina Garten. Except for the fact that I have long totally white hair and wear glasses, we look like twins. Except I don’t have freckles either. We are both plump and petite. Now how’s that for cool?

The Once and Future Queen
‘twas the oddest thing.
I was at the local produce stand
lightly stroking velvet peahes,
peeling back just enough of ears of corn
to make sure they were all small dainty kernels
and purest white like pearls.
A younger woman looked up at me
from her pile of corn and blinked – twice.
I smiled at her and she looked quickly back down.
Soon people were whispering and looking
as I was ready to pay for my purchases
when one woman, bolder than the rest asked,
Do you wear a wig for your TV show?
I looked at her in surprise and then asked,
Whom do you think I am?
She blushed and said, well you couldn’t be her.
You are southern as I am!
And flounced off as if I had insulted her.
When I paid for my purchases
the cashier laughed and said,
There was a rumor going around that Ina Garten
was here and buying produce for one of her tv shows.
I laughed.
My husband had told me before I looked like her.
Well, now, by tomorrow half of hanover county
will be saying they saw Ina Garten at the produce stand!

Simple Saturday Cooking and Recipes

Saturdays are always busy so it is KISS – Keep it simple Saturday. Yesterday I did snow day cooking (see post). Saturdays are for cleaning, running errands and watching Duke play basketball – unil the end of the season. Supper tonight will be leftover soup from yesterday’s cooking. Lunch everybody just grabs.

So for KISS, breakfast is simple: Egg in the Nest or, Toad in the Hole – the two names I have heard this dish called for years. there may be others but I only know these two. Simple breakfast, simple recipe. This is a satisfying breakfast or quick lunch or easy supper.

In between times, I will make Pimiento Cheese: A southern staple that is without seasons. It is a staple on picnics, wedding receptions, for kids to grab and go (in my day someone would grab two pieces of plain old white bread and slather with the mixture and hand to me as I was on my way out the door to play until suppertime), stuffed into pieces of celery for addition on a fancy appetizer tray or a cool summer nosh.  Pimiento cheese sandwiches are excellent grilled.  Those quick bread and butter pickles I made yesterday are a great aside for pimiento cheese.

Word of warning:
  I use Hellman’s mayo. This has been a source of dismay for my in-laws, relatives, and some friends. Daughters of the south, they use Duke’s mayo. Uhuh. To me, too oily tasting and sweet. Women in other states may use a local brand or Miracle Whip. Some of you may be tempted to use a “lite” mayo. I beg you, please don’t. I mean, you are already eating several mouthfuls of cheese. It’s like eating a Big Mac, large fries and a diet coke. So please use a good quality, full tilt, heavy duty mayo such as Hellman’s.
The sun is shining and a cold front has moved. The snow from yesterday is still much in evidence. I ended up not making sausage balls for my husband yesterday but will today. This recipe has been around since Hector was a pup. Some I bake for immediate eating – the rest I wrap up on rolls of eight and place in a freezer bag for bringing out at various times.
Y’all enjoy your Saturday. Whatever you do, be safe, be careful, have fun.

TOAD-IN-THE-HOLE or, EGG-IN-A-NEST
Per serving:
1 Egg, 1 slice of bread (your choice), butter or margarine, salt and pepper
Cut a hole, about the size of an egg yolk from the center of the bread. Smear one side of the bread with softened butter or margarine. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Break open the egg into the pan keeping the yolk intact and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let white start to cook (about a minute). Drop bread slice, butter side up, on egg with the yolk in the hole of the bread. Cook, depending on how you like your egg. I like over medium. The hole you cut out of the bread should be smeared with butter and allow to pan toast along side of the egg. When ready, flip egg over and allow buttered side of bread to pan toast. Remove to plate and put the “hole” on top of the yolk.

PIMIENTO CHEESE
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
2 cup grated sharp or extra sharp or mixture cheddar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 6 oz. jar or 2 4 oz. jars pimentos, drained and smashed
salt and pepper to taste
dash of hot sauce (Franks or Crystal)
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add all of the remaining ingredients and beat until well blended. It can be used as a dip for raw veggies or crackers, sandwich filling, filling for celery, topping for beef or turkey burgers. it is also a primo midnight snack: Just open the container and spoon a spoonful or two into your mouth.

SAUSAGE AND CHEESE BALLS
1 pound good quality breakfast sausage (I use homemade) regular, hot, maple, etc.
1 c. all purpose baking mix (such as regular Bisquick or store brand)
2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbs. grated onion (optional)
Preheat oven to 375. Mix all ingredients just until blended. Doing this by hand is good. Shape into about 40 1 inch balls and place onto two lightly greased baking pans. I cover my pans with foil and lightly grease. Bake about 12 – 14 minutes until done. These are also good for breakfast.

thCAKIW57G                    thCAQLM4LM

Snow Day Cooking – Recipes

It snowed last night – great gouts of clustered snow flakes rapidly covering the ground and everything else it       would stick to.  A wet snow, in some areas it will be gone by late afternoon and in some protected areas, sometime tomorrow.  The snow covers our lawn in a smooth sheet until it gets to the woods and then it decorates the leaves, bare tree branches, and sides of downed trees.  The line of azaleas in front of our house and the ones that separate the woods from our lawn, blossom with huge clusters of pure white snow.

Still…today is one of those days I am going to pretend the roads are impassable and we are snowed in.  That means – a whole day of cooking!  This morning started off with my husband begging for sausage, eggs, and silver dollar pancakes.  Usually our breakfast is what we grab in passing – yogurt or oatmeal for me and Danish for him.  The pancakes are from a standard recipe of flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs, and milk – standard, fluffy and satisfying.  I’ve been making these since I was five and had to stand on a chair by the stove to reach the pan.  The sausage is homemade – lean bits of pork left over from the killing and butchering and then ground with a bit of suet and spiced with salt, black pepper, some sugar, red pepper flakes, and lots of sage – in the south, in farm co-op stores, you can buy bags of sausage seasoning for batches from 2 – 100 pounds.  Beats bought sausage all to pieces and you know what is in it.

My husband’s uncle has a massive farm – every year they kill hogs and butcher and sell the meat or give away.  His sausage is made from trimmed pieces of tenderloin and hams and seasoned with co-op seasoning – hot or mild.   This same sausage will be used later in the day when I make sausage and cheese balls – some for munching on now and the rest to be pulled out of the freezer and cooked for the rest of the football season and on to March Madness basketball (Go Duke!).

Snow day cooking can be done on a cold rainy day or just a day you want to hide from everything and everyone and be in your own kitchen world.  On the counter great northern beans are soaking.  I am going to make a big pot of white bean (navy or great northern) and ham (leftover from Christmas and portioned out and put in the freezer) with cornbread.  This will be for dinner tonight.  I am also going to make quickles – quick pickles with a bread and butter taste to go with the beans to add a bit of sparkles.  I am in the process of writing a most learned and riveting two part article about quickles…snow day came up though and took precedence.    Sliced cucumbers and onions are on the kitchen table in a colander over a dish with a smaller saucer on top with a large heavy can of tomatoes on top to help press out excess liquid.  Bread and butter style quickles are also on the menu for tonight.

Sticks of unsalted butter are on also  the counter softening.  On the  for dessert are Mexican wedding cookies.  The pecans in them came from Georgia.  Every Thanksgiving, I go to Charlotte Courthouse where Mr. Claxton comes up from his home in Thomasville, GA and brings a huge truck loaded with this season shelled or unshelled pecans.  I buy both – enough to take me through to next Thanksgiving.  For about two miles on either direction of him along 360, you’ll see hand-lettered signs:  Pecans Ahead!  The Pecan Man  – 1 mi. Awa!!!  Your Close!!!  (big arrow) Right there – PECANS!!!!   I’ve done this for a long time but I always eagerly look for the first sign. The excitement builds.   Only in the South, folks.

Recipes are below.   As usual, I do not take pictures of ingredients and step-by-steps as most folks seem to do on their cooking blogs.  I’ve said it before:  you all are grownups and know how to cook.  A chopped carrot is a chopped carrot, a pound of great northern beans are great northern beans, confectioners sugar is……you all get my drift.  Enjoy my day with me!  I’ll glady share recipes but you can’t have my happy shoes.  Y’all stay for or come by for supper.  The cornbread is in the oven and the golden crust is liberally smeared with butter.  Sweet tea, the table wine of the South, will be your beverage to complement our meal.  Plenty of napkins are on hand to catch the powdered sugar from the cookies.

 

 WHITE BEAN AND HAM SOUP 

  • 1 lb of white beans -navy or Great Northern, picked over and washed
  • 2 quarts of water HOT water – soak beans in this for about three hours and drain
  • Ham chunks, ham bone, ham hocks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup of diced onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2/3 cup chopped carrots
  • Salt and pepper

Fill a pot or bowl large enough to hold the beans with water, soak and drain. some folks soak the beans in cold water for 8 hours.  others bring the beans in water to a boil and soak the beans for about 2 hours. Your choice.

Meanwhile, put the ham hocks, ham chunks, or ham bone and cover with 2 quarts of water.  For frugality, I am using leftover frozen Christmas ham and the hambone.  I am not using a huge amount of ham, maybe about a 3/4 pound.  I will simmer the ham bone and add the bay and sautéed veggies, bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour.  When I add the beans, I will add the ham chunks, bits, shreds…whatever. Cook for another couple of hours or so, until the beans are tender.  Cook longer to thicken.  Check and stir mixture in pot to ensure no sticking.   Add more water if necessary.

Serve with hot cornbread and butter or other bread of your choice.  When serving, put  a good sprinkle of chopped onion, parsley, Crystal or Franks hot sauce on top – any or all is good.  Let the individual season their beans or not.  Remove bay leaves before serving.

FOR VEGETARIAN/VEGAN VERSION:  omit ham (duh).  Saute veggies along with several cloves of garlic.  You may want to add more veggies to the sauté mixture to flavor and hearten up the taste and texture.  I use regular vegetable oil to sauté veggies but you can use fancy olive oils if you choose.

ANTI-FART (haha) TIP:  When cooking dried beans, take a nice stringy large rib of celery and cut in half.  Add to the cooking beans at the beginning.  At the end of cooking, remove the two pieces of celery.  The cellulose in the celery absorb the sulfur dioxide from the cooking liquid and help cut down/prevent stomach gas.  Be careful to remove the fart-absorbing celery ribs from the soup.

MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES (or SNOWBALL COOKIES)

1 cup  (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cup  powdered sugar, divided
2 tsp.  vanilla
2 cups  flour – all purpose
1 cup  finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat butter, 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Gradually add flour and pecans, beating on low speed after each addition until well blended.  Shape into 1 inch balls (I use a 1 inch cookie scoop).   Place, 1-1/2 inches apart, on ungreased baking sheets.  I use cooking parchment.

Bake 14 to 16 min. or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned.  Roll warm cookies in about 1 cup of powdered sugar until evenly coated; place on wire racks to cool.  The sugar will coat the cookies and give a happy white coating guaranteed to “snow” on your black sweater and stick to your fingers.   Cool completely.  Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.  They really don’t last long because they are such a good, short cookie – not too sweet but rich and yummy with cold milk, hot tea or coffee. makes about 28 balls of yumminess.

QUICK BREAD AND BUTTER STYLE PICKLES

1    pound pickling cucumbers , sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch  rounds OR equivalent in standard or English cucumber. Peel, cut cukes in            half  and scoop out seeds if necessary

1     medium onion, halved and sliced thin

1   tablespoon kosher or non-iodized salt

1    cup cider vinegar

1/2  cup sugar

1/2   teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

1/4    teaspoon celery seeds

1/4    teaspoon corriander seeds

1/8    teaspoon ground tumeric

Toss cucumbers, onion, and salt in colander set over bowl.  Let stand 1 hour.  hour.  Discard any liquid collected in the bowl. Rinse and press out excess water and put in large non-reactive bowl.  Bring vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, corriander seeds and turmeric to boil in large saucepan.  Pour over cucumbers and onion onion, and press to submerge in liquid.  Let cool.  Put into smaller glass container or quart jar and allow to chill at least two hours before serving.   Pickles can be refrigerated in a clean jar or covered container for 2 weeks.

snowball cookies            quick bread and butter pickles         white bean and ham soup with cornbread

Aside

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