09 February 2016

Mardi Gras

Above is the Mardi Gras court from 1900 in Mobile, Alabama.  As you know, the tradition of Mardi Gras in America began in Mobile.  Well in 1703, when the tradition began, Mobile was actually French Louisiana, but we won't quibble.

Here is a cavalcade of vintage shots from some of Mobile's finest moments. Enjoy.

 1907 King and Queen of Mardi Gras

A 1919 postcard of the festivities.

Marching in the 1920's

Way to much revelry!

Mardi Gras court, no date.

Mardi Gras ball

Zippy Mardi Gras chapeaus

On the parade route, no date

Mobile Mardi Gras, Bienville Square

27 January 2016

Snow Cooking

While trapped in the snow we decided to venture into the warm kitchen.  We saw a recipe by Annie Wayte for a Guinea Fowl Potpie.  We had almost nothing from the recipe with the exception of a guinea fowl.  That is the kind of kitchen we have!  So we improvised.  Our pie is simply guinea, onions, mushrooms, and a bit of bacon.

It turned out quite yummy.

Then we decided to make a cake.  We had a couple of white sweet potatoes that we had lying around from Christmas. They were actually lying UNDER as we moved a paper bag over them, and discovered them after we needed the bag!

We baked them at 400 for about 35 minutes until they were mashable and then set out to make our favorite sweet potato cake, only in the white version.

For Christmas we got several bottles of libations from Art in the Age, including a sweet potato vodka, so we gave out yellow raisins a soak.  We also had half a bag of self-rising flour, so we used that. 

White Sweet Potato Cake

2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup mashed white sweet potatoes
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon Art in the Age Sweet Potato Vodka (optional)
1 cup yellow raisins, dredged boldly

Soak your raisins for about 30 minutes in a tablespoon of liquor, if desired.

 In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and spice together to blend

In a smaller bowl, mix the sweet potatoes, eggs, oil, and milk. I may look a bit lumpy and curdled, but that is the way it should look.

Add the sweet potato mixture to the dry ingredients and blend well.

Fold in the dredged fruit.

Pour into prepared Lucinda’s Wood Cake Box.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Being snowbound wasn't too bad.

24 January 2016

Snownado -- The Aftermath

We survived the 20 inches we got in the hollow. Surprisingly, we did not lose electricity during the 36 hours of snow and we tend to lose electricity every time it rains. Let's keep that up for the oncoming thaw. 

To everyone who worried about us and helped us out be making sure our generator worked and checking in every few hours -- thank you.

To those people who complain that everyone got snow and they are tired of watching everyone post snow photo -- here is your chance to lament even more.

And finally...

22 January 2016


We don't know where this came from, but we do love it.  After Snowmaggedon and Snowpocalypse we have dubbed this Snownado.

Be careful out there. 

If you are somewhere warm -- run outside barefoot for us!

12 January 2016

Roll Tide National Champs

Yes, my team, The Alabama Crimson Tide are the National Champions.  That means there are just about 10 1/2 months before we start to worry about Auburn.

There was steak, because since our loss to Ole Miss, I have been cooking steaks outside, so due to paranoid superstition, the game day meal had to be the same.  I have a great ajvar sauce that I use for potatoes, a kind of red pepper ketchup.  I was at the end of the bottle, so it ended up looking a bit too Jackson Pollack in the picture, but it is the superstition, not the sauce that mattered.

Both Teddy,
and Trick took turns wearing the Nick Saban hat. It was actually a Christmas tree ornament from their auntie Beverly.

Not only was I adorned in my game day shirt, also from Beverly, but I wore my favorite elephant hat. Not everyone has a favorite elephant hat.  And lest we forget, this was my living room, not the Golden Globes.  However, had I walked that red carpet in my lovely elephant hat, I'm sure I would have been on many a Best-Dressed List.

And now on to break the Bear's record.  Roll Tide.

08 January 2016

Maddie at Christmas

You may remember last Holiday season we had a stray dog show up. She was beyond sweet, but with a house full of cats, she was not a good mix. The power of the Internet came into play. I sent her photo to Virginia, it was forwarded to Vermont, sent back to Virginia and forwarded to a neighbor who just happened to be looking for a new dog. We drove our Bunnymellon to Virginia where she became Cris and Maria's Maddie.

This summer we saw Jason and Neville, who sent us to Cris and Maria. Jason said Maddie was a ball of energy and he shared some photos. Evidently, Maddie is a bit hard to photograph due to her bounding energy. 

It seems that most photos of her are just a blur.

We took a famous "video" of the future Maddie as an introduction for her prospective owners. The video was about a minute of my feet, as even then, Maddie was hard to photograph.

For Christmas, Teddy and the Halloweener cats sent Maddie a little present. I think their Christmas joy was motivated by the fact that they were joyful Maddie was no longer in such close proximity.  It's a cat thing.  Finally, we were able to see a calm photo of Maddie, with her Christmas gift. She is no longer skin and bones, but a healthy and wildly happy dog.

It was a great present.

01 January 2016

Happy New Year

It just wouldn't be New Years Day without black eyed peas and collards.  Plus, you will need some pork to cook the greens and collards.  And you need some cornbread and a bit of potato salad. So now I will be rich in 2016.

A few words about dinner.

Not to bitch and moan in the new year, but it is really important that we begin to expand the food on our tables.  If that means spending a bit more to shop with local farmers, then so be it. In an attempt to streamline our food consumption, we have let corporations take over.  Instead of producing more food, they have severely limited the food we see in the grocery store.  Yet all around the country, in back yard plots and small farms, people are planting seeds they have saved for generations.  Take a look at today's cornbread.

In a grocery store, one can fine dozens of different "brands" of cornmeal, but the corn is either yellow or white. In the most gourmet of establishments, one might run across an occasional bag of blue cornmeal. But what about cornmeal from the 1800's?  Our cornbread was made with an old dent corn produced in when Native American corn cross pollinated with white settler's corn. The result is Bloody Butcher Corn, a bright red, amazingly moist, with a truly beautiful texture unheard of with store bought meal.

In the hills of West Virginia, the corn was a staple and on many farms it still is.This corn was grown and ground at Hawthorne Valley Farms, just up the road from here. Like most families who grow the corn, the seeds originally came from ancestors who passed them down from generation to generation.  These farmers are seed savers and for the rest of the country, they often make the excess seeds available to others.

Our pork came from just down the road.  The Jennings Brae Bank Farm is run by young farmers who will quite literally put the food on our tables in the future...and now. They put a lot of the meat we eat on our table already! Once again, the meat we get from the farm bears little resemblance to the meat you find in a grocery store. Truth be told, you will find the prices of meat from a local farmer to be quite close to what you might pay in the grocery and the quality will be remarkable.

And now a personal plug. In late October as the weather looked like it would be getting colder (who knew it would be 72 on Christmas Eve) we set out make up a batch of Fire Cider, an old remedy for snifflily ailments.  Everyone has a different recipe, but mine went something like this.

Fire Cider

In a sterilized quart jar add...

1 sliced orange (or lemon, lime or whatever citrus one might have)
1 thumb sized piece of turmeric, sliced
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 habanero peppers, pricked with a knife
6 whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon of honey 
Bragg Organic Cider Vinegar to fill the jar.

Put a plastic lid on the jar and shake. Let sit on the window sill for 3 to 4 weeks. Strain out solids and store in a glass jar.

The few times we have found that little scratch in the back of the throat, we have taken a spoon or two of Fire Cider and felt much better.

Today when we were looking at dinner, we though about vinegar for the greens and remembered the Fire Cider.  While we have used it for medicinal purposes, we found it was a perfect accompaniment for greens.  The spice was great, the floral citrus undertones offered a complex contrast to the greens.

We do love to make things with multiple uses.  Fire Cider, healthy and tasty!

 So, once again, Happy New Year.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading our blog and checking in on our rambling life here in the hollers of West Virginia!  We don't tell you nearly enough how much we cherish your support and friendship.

Finally, if you are looking for a few easy to keep and thoughtful resolutions may we suggest...

Find and befriend a farmer.

Try new food.

Put something up, like Fire Cider or jam.

Read more books.

Enjoy life!

Again, thanks to all of you!

25 December 2015

Merry Christmas

Here's wishing a joyous holiday season to all our readers.  

We don't tell you enough how much we love you! 

We do.

23 December 2015

Go-To Ice Cream -- With a Christmas Twist

While we have no qualms with making overly complicated recipes, we do love a simple no-brainer.

Ice cream is in my families blood. It has always been a favorite treat -- or on occasion, a favorite supper. Ice cream books have two full shelves in the cookbook collections and they keep growing. We know one weird ice cream trick after another.

For years, our go-to recipe was a simple no-cook recipe from the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Book.  Face it, they are kind of experts. While one didn't cook it, it did have eggs in the base, and there are folks who don't eat raw eggs. Their recipe made fantastic ice cream, but it was best eaten on the same day it was made.  Not really a problem, but not good for any advanced preparations.  (The longer it sat, the more ice crystals it formed, so it lost a bit of creaminess after a few days.)

This summer, we embarked on an even easier recipe.  It does require an ice cream freezer, but it only takes minutes to prepare and you are done.  No cooking.  Just freezer time.  In the middle of summer, that can take way longer than the ice cream freezer's anticipated freezing time, but in winter, one has ice cream in just under an hour.

The base is made with one can of sweetened condensed milk and a cup of heavy cream.  It is easy, because you can keep sweetened condensed milk in the pantry, and you can pick up a 1/2 pint of heavy cream, so no measuring.  Simply add a cup of flavoring, give it all a spin in a blender and add to the ice cream maker. In our summer favorite, we added a cup of Hershey's Chocolate spread.  Nutella also works, as do chopped fruit. 

For Thanksgiving, we added a can of pumpkin and a tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice. Everyone wanted pumpkin pie, but when the pie was done, the ice cream flew out of the freezer. 

"Hey, this would be good WITH the pumpkin pie!"

Well yes it would. So here you go.

Pumpkin Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 pint (1 cup) heavy cream
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix till well incorporated.

Pour into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's directions.


09 December 2015

Take Six Girls

I know what you are thinking -- "Not another f-ing Mitford book!"

Fine, we are a bit fond of the Mitfords, I cannot lie.

I will chalk it up to being an only child. I am fascinated with large families. Bear in mind, I do not now nor have I ever wanted a large family or any sort of sibling. Growing up there were my things and more of my things and I liked that immensely. But there is something very mysterious about large families, especially one with 6 girls.

No, the Mitford sisters were not sharing a single room, their family was loaded. But something about that sisterhood made for a strange and often tragic competition that boardered on psychopathy. Laura Thomson has put together a group biography of the sisters that offers and unusual in site into their personalities. It is rather like taking the them, fully formed and stuffing them into a single room. It offers up a much different view than seeing each sister from their own point of view.  Lord knows, many of them spent their entire lives rewriting their personal history.

If you have yet to jump into the abyss of Mitfordom, Take Six Girls is a great place to start.  You get an enticing view of each of the sisters, giving you room to decide which of the girls you might like to take a look at in more depth. Trust me, there will be great depth no matter which sister you choose. If you have read them all...even I don't think I have read them all...Thompson delves into the beginnings of family rivalry, to shed new light on the tumultuous gang.

If you have never read about the Mitfords, Take Six Girls is a fine beginning. If you love the Mitfords, it won't be your last.

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