Category: Here Chickie!

What time is it? Muscadine time….

One of my favorite things about the arrival of fall would be grapes! Muscadine grapes…. native to the south grapes. We know, as they turn into those sweet little balls of deliciousness and ripen into nature’s candy, that fall is on our doorstep. And for those of us who are drained by the heat and humidity of another North Carolina summer, they are a harbinger of cooler days ahead!

I have fond memories as a child of the vines….  one was in my Mama and Daddy Hocutt’s back yard… a vine he’d planted and tended and nurtured long before I came along in 1958. He left us when I was just 8, but I still can remember going up under that big shady vine with him that would be hanging full of luscious scuppernong grapes. We would suck the slimy pulp and juice out of dozens of grapes, spit seeds, laugh… then fill our bowls to put in the refrigerator to get nice and cold for later.  I remember how sweet the air that surrounded us was. I remember how nice and cool it was up under there. I remember…

muscadine grapes

Now let’s stop right here and do a little grape lesson… 
Scuppernong grapes are muscadines, but not all muscadines are scuppernongs…. got it?  Scuppernong is a variety of muscadine… but many of us grew up with only scuppernongs and thinking they were one an the same and only muscadine, so we grew up believing what turned out to be a myth.

OK… back to the topic at hand!
So, I’d never cooked anything using muscadine grapes. The few recipes I’d come across just seemed like a whole lot of work with those seeds and skins and all… for only a few bites of something.  Oh my, was I WRONG!

A couple of years back, my old friend Lisa Prince (at NC Department of Agriculture) asked me if I would like to be a part of an episode of Flavor, NC they were going to be filming on muscadine grapes!  And if so, I would need to come up with a few recipes using them. Well of course I would LOVE to be a part of a show I love… and helping promote goodness grown here in North Carolina… but I admit, a bit of panic set in about creating grape recipes!  But I love a challenge and new culinary adventures, so I jumped right on it.

However… my first question as we were to film in November…. where the heck shall I get grapes at that time of year?

First thing I learned… you can freeze grapes!  Whaaaat?  
Yep, Lisa assured me so and said they would have bags for me to work with!  Who knew?!?  So folks, as we are in the prime days of our muscadine grape season here in North Carolina, grab yourself some big old zippered bags and freeze away! Because when you see my Muscadine Crisp recipe, you’ll know why.

So with that worry aside, I started googling, and “Pinteresting” (my new word) to find inspirations and “how-tos” from others who have created muscadine grape recipes. I quickly learned… these are about as scarce as a fresh muscadine grape in April!  I could count on one hand anything close to what you’d call “creative” that my searches turned up.
No problem… I’ll figure this out because that’s what I do… even if I have a limited supply of frozen grapes, with little room for error to recreate or start all over. (Insert mini panic attack, but hey, I’ve GOT this.)

Well it just so happened that in the time between I was to do this creation and then make again for filming the show, I had previously planned another of my culinary adventures up… wayyyyyy up in the NC mountains to the John Campbell Folk School, for a week-long 18th Century Open Hearth Cooking Class! 

{Let me digress here for a moment to tell you that this place is “all THAT and then some!” If you love learning new things… in the old school way, be it wood-working, blacksmithing, banjo or dulcimer making and playing, art by needle/thread/fabric and a gazillion other things, GO THERE! My jaw was on the floor at our lunch on Friday as we all gathered to display our accomplishments that week and I long to go there again and again. A small group actually built, from scratch, their own dulcimers AND learned to play a few songs from Sunday eve till Friday noon!}

So… in my hearth cooking class, where I learned the most amazing things and actually cooked in a ginormous hearth so big we could bend over up in it to move pots and kettles and coals around (while hobbling on crutches as well), we cooked things each day, 100% authentic to that era.

Hearth at John Campbell Folk School

Hearth at John Campbell Folk School and WAY bigger than it looks in this picture!

We even learned which of the herbs we could harvest from the garden there to use in our cooking since not all of them had been brought “here” yet. Recipe choices would be laid out on a wooden table (that was, of course, made at the school in the woodworking shop) that was draped in vintage cloth and we would select those we wanted to prepare. Well normally, I wouldn’t choose any sort of baked thing, but low and behold, there laid a “receipt” for a Muscadine Pie!  And as it was in October, there were muscadine grapes there in the mountains in our pantry fridge. I grabbed that one right away so I could get down to the nitty gritty (and get my fingers stained and “broke in”) of this muscadine phobia here, where I had an instructor who could help me with this self-imposed terror.

First, I had to… MAKE DOUGH for my pie! A terrifying thing in itself…. that turned out to be a piece of cake.
Next, I had to prepare the grapes, and to my surprise, wasn’t such a big deal either… as I had no idea the hulls were a part of the filling. (And oh my, the soft baked texture in the sweet muscadine syrup of the pie was divine!)  

Without belaboring this story to get to why we are here (my Flavor, NC grape recipes!), I share my very first ever muscadine creation!  I even “garnished” it with some edible violets from the garden and a dough design of a bunch of grapes (unlike how you see muscadines growing)… LOL  Pretty snazzy, eh?  

Muscadine Pie

…my first muscadine creation!

And I’m here to tell you, this may have been the b.e.s.t. pie to ever cross my lips. It SO inspired me to get in my cookhouse when I returned home to create muscadine recipes for the show.  I think the timing was surely one of those Godwink moments… to put that muscadine challenge before me, the week before I was to attempt my first creations, with few resources “out there” to help me.  I knew in that moment as I savored that deep, rich grape infused pie… yet, I’ve got this too!

Fast forward to getting back home, after pulling my cute little Squash Blossom Vintage Camper into, and back out of the mountains… as far into the mountains you can go in North Carolina and still be IN North Carolina. Eight hours, much of which was the definition of “white knuckles.” 

My adventure to John Campbell Folk School!

I didn’t fully set up Squash Blossom due to an ongoing foot “issue” but just enough to sleep at night! So this is the abbreviated Blossom….

My mini Squash Blossom set up at John Campbell Folk School.

So… back at home, it was time to hunker down and get some muscadine recipes created for the show! I had sent Lisa my thoughts and she liked them all.  My creations were Muscadine Pepper Jelly, Muscadine Shrub and Muscadine Grape and Gingersnap Crisp. Now I’m here to tell you, although I don’t care for a lot of sweets, this crisp may be in my “Top 5” of the best things to ever cross my lips in that category… not to mention the incredibly wondermous smell of it fresh out of the oven!

We had such a fun time filming this episode in my vintage cookhouse and in the process, I overcame my intimidation of “the grape” cooking, created some tasty recipes, and fill my freezer each fall with grapes to enjoy making my crisp during cold, winter, fireplace months. Find and enjoy all 3 of my Flavor, NC Muscadine Grape recipes down below.

Filming Muscadine Grape Episode for Flavor, NC with Lisa

Fun day filming Flavor, NC Muscadine Grape Episode in my cookhouse with friend Lisa Prince!

We had this crisp for our family Christmas dessert last year, and might again this year too. 

muscadine grape and gingersnap crisp

Muscadine Grape & Gingersnap Crisp on Flavor, NC

My Muscadine Pepper Jelly is yummy over cream cheese… or as a baste on chicken or pork & veggie kabaobs!

Muscadine Pepper Jelly

Muscadine Pepper Jelly over Cream Cheese or as a Chicken or Pork & Veggie Kabob Baste!

And to freshen up, how about a nice Muscadine Shrub?

Flavor NC Muscadine Grape Shrubs

Refreshing Muscadine Grape Shrubs for Flavor, NC!

I hope you will enjoy my recipes, and leave a comment about ways you enjoy muscadine grapes too!

muscadine grape and gingersnap crisp
Print
Muscadine Grape & Gingersnap Crisp
Don’t be intimidated by using muscadine grapes for crisps, cobblers and pies. It’s a simple process that takes just a few minutes of time to cut into and remove seeds with your fingers… but so worth the time and effort! Every North Carolinian needs to be sure and make muscadine desserts… the flavor will have you asking “why haven’t I done THIS before?”
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: Farmers Market, Garden Goodies, North Carolina Goodies, Southern Desserts
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • about 6 cups muscadine grapes, washed
  • about 1 1/4 cups sugar*
  • about 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 30 small gingersnap cookies
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • pinch sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter cut into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.

  2. To prepare grapes: Over bowl (to capture juices), cut grapes in half (scissors work best) and push seeds out with thumb. Toss grape halves (hull and pulp) and juice into bowl. Stir in sugar and flour. Mix well and put mixture into prepared baking dish.

  3. Put all topping ingredients except butter into food processor. Pulse until cookies are roughly chopped. Add butter and continue pulsing until incorporated and mixture is crumbly.

  4. Scatter crumbs over grape mixture. Bake about 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly. Baking time will vary a bit depending on depth of baking dish.

Recipe Notes

*If grapes are super ripe and sweet, you might use a bit less sugar.

This recipe will do best in 9×9” or 11×7” baking dish.

 

Muscadine Pepper Jelly
Print
Muscadine Grape Pepper Jelly (and basting sauce)
This tasty jelly can be warmed and used as a glaze on meat and vegetable kabobs! Serve over salty and tart cheeses on toast as an appetizer too. The muscadine flavor really shines through with this jelly. If using purple/black hulled grapes, the rich red-hued color is spectacular!
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Main Course, Sauces
Cuisine: Farmers Market, Garden Goodies, Grilling, North Carolina Goodies, Southern
Servings: 8 1/2 pint jars
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 5 cup muscadine grape juice
  • 1 box pectin
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1-2 finely diced jalapeno jelly, optional
Instructions
  1. Heat grape juice and pectin in heavy bottomed pot. Whisk to dissolve the pectin. Stir in sugar and peppers. Bring to a boil for one minute. Remove from heat and put into hot sterilized jars. Process as usual.

 

Flavor NC Muscadine Grape Shrubs
Print
Muscadine Grape Shrub
This refreshing old-fashioned “tonic” is making a comeback. The syrup is really versatile and can be used for all sorts of tasty beverage concoctions. Such an easy way to enjoy the rich flavor of muscadines throughout the year!
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • about 4 cups muscadine grapes
  • 2 cups sugar, (see notes)
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • aromatic herbs, optional (I use rosemary)
Instructions
  1. Combine grapes and sugar in large jar with lid. Muddle to break up grapes and incorporate with sugar. Cover and sit in a cool dark space for up to 24 hours. Shake occasionally so that sugar dissolves.
  2. Add vinegar and any aromatics as desired. Cover and shake. Let this mixture steep in cool dark place or refrigerator for about a week (or more) to let the flavors meld.

    Using a sieve or cheesecloth, strain the syrup into jar. This mixture will keep in the refrigerator up to six months (if it lasts that long!).

  3. To serve: Pour a bit of the syrup over ice and top with club soda or sparkling water. For cocktails, omit the water and add a splash of liquor. Those that work well are vodka, rum and gin.

    Generally, you will want to mix one part syrup to about 3-4 parts sparkling water. Champagne shrubs are tasty too!

Recipe Notes
  • Sugar options: Most any sugar (and combinations) will work. Just be sure the sugar you use complements the grapes (or whatever fruit you use).
  • Vinegar options: Apple cider vinegar tends to offer best flavor for shrubs, but other flavorful vinegars work nicely, as long as they do not complete with and drown out flavor of the grapes.

So… visit a local muscadine farm right now while the get’n is good… and if you don’t have time to use them, fill up your freezer so when hunkered down on a cold winter’s day, you can make yourself this Crisp… you will be SO glad you did!

Happy “Pi” Day! …a “pie” to tickle the tum

Rotisserie Chicken Pot Pie Soup…the comfort of soup AND pot pie, all wrapped up into one!

keep reading

my almost famous “Pickled” Pickled Shrimp and Eastern NC Cotton Honey-Mustard Slaw

Happy July y’all….  the world’s slowwwwest blogger dropping by!  I’m gonna be ramping things up (yes, I know I’ve said THAT before!) since I’ve been doing so many shindigs lately and have lots of NEKKIDness to share… plus, I’ve been getting requests from clients and their guests for recipes.  I don’t keep many recipe secrets and am always happy to share (most), so feel free to ask for others anytime… happy to oblige.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a fun afternoon in the kitchen with a fun family celebrating a high school graduation.  Instead of going out to a noisy restaurant to celebrate this momentous event, they decided to have an intimate afternoon and supper at home.  They enjoyed playing board games, Wi and other fun stuff.  Dad, who hired me, had put together a really special video with snippets of all the important folks in his daughter’s life.  I didn’t even know these folks, but that was so heart-warming to see well wishes from around the globe… but I think perhaps most touching were the words of wisdom from her little-bit-older-but-VERY WISE sister.  She is one smart cookie!  They have an ”international” family of Germans and Japanese… (who says I can’t come up with a crowd pleasing menu?)….  and it warmed my heart to be there in the open kitchen putting together their dee-lish Nekkid Supper while seeing them enjoy each other’s company on this special day!

This is the menu created for their casual family-style meal…

“Pickled” Pickled Shrimp  (recipe below)

Toastettes topped with a dollop of Greensboro’s
My Three Sons Pimiento Cheese
garnished with fresh chive from my garden and topped with a dollop of cherry preserves

Eastern North Carolina Cotton Honey-Mustard Slaw (recipe below)

The Bestest Cheesyest au gratin 'taters EVER!

As requested, REALLLY Cheesey Taters... so I made some…
“The Bestest Cheesyest au gratin ‘taters EVER!” …
with Gruyere, Jarlsberg, and Fontina topped with Asagio!
(AMAZING and I think the BEST I’ve ever made!!!)

 

Honey Carrot Butter

 

 

 

 

Crispy Toastettes with Honey Carrot Butter”

 

 

Beef Tenderloin Medallions with "Mushroom Menagerie Marsala Gravy"

 

 

 

 

Skillet Seared Beef Tenderloin Medallions with sides of
“Mushroom Menagerie Marsala Gravy” along with
Whipped Horseradish Cream
, and…

 

 

 

Herbed Chicken in Browned Butter Chicken

 

 

Fresh herbed chicken tenderloins
…sauteed in browned butter

 

 

 

Dessert was left warm in the oven… an ooey gooey Chocolate Pudding Cake!

I hope you’ll enjoy, and call me if you’d like to enjoy life’s celebrations at home instead of out in a busy…loud and noisy… impersonal restaurant!  We can even do an interactive party if you wanna roll up your sleeves and throw-cook with me!

Wendy’s Almost Famous “Pickled” Pickled Shrimp!
"Pickled" Pickled Shrimp

Wendy's almost famous “Pickled” Pickled Shrimp

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: PT15-20ishM

What to throw together...

  • about 2 lbs. jumbo sweet North Carolina Shrimp, peeled/de-viened with tail on
  • 1 jar NC's Mt. Olive Sweet 'n Hot Pickled Peppers WITH juice
  • 1 pint jar Pierce Foods Watermelon Rind Pickles WITH juice
  • 1 pint jar Pierce Foods Okra Pickles, DRAINED

How to throw together...

  1. Cook Shrimp. I prefer to steam in microwave or stove top vs. boiling as steaming keeps the good flavor and nutrients IN the shrimp instead of boiling them out into the water!
  2. Place cooked shrimp into non-reactive container. Pour peppers with juice, watermelon rind pickles with juice and DRAINED okra pickles over shrimp. Toss well. Refrigerate and chill. I like to do this a minimum of 8 hours before serving for the juices to "pickle" the shrimp and get nice and cold.
  3. Pierce Foods is a shop I frequent at the Raleigh Farmers' Market. If you go by there, tell Mr. Pierce I sent you. If not in this area, you can sub any similar products, but try to buy LOCAL and from your area farmers' market too!

Notes

Don't be alarmed with the color change to a yellowish tint. That simply means the pickle juices are "pickling" the shrimp just as you want to happen!

The reason I drain the okra pickles is because that juice is twangy and I want my pickled shrimp to be sweet.

Eastern North Carolina Cotton Honey-Mustard Slas

Eastern North Carolina Cotton Honey-Mustard Slaw

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 20 minutes

What to throw together...

  • Cabbage and/or other similar greens
  • turnips
  • carrots
  • jicama
  • any kinds of radishes
  • spring onions-red onion-sweet onions…any sorts of onions or combination
  • cilantro
  • and any other nekkid veggies you'd like!

How to throw together...

  1. A variety of cuts makes this slaw pretty and far from boring. I thinly slice cabbage into ribbons... cut turnips into matchsticks, make long wide shreds of carrots using a vegetable peeler, slice/dice radishes and throw in thinly sliced red onions and chopped green onions (white and green parts).
  2. Just at serving time, throw in a heap'n help'n of chopped cilantro. This not only gives the slaw a pretty and vibrant punch of green, but throws in one more level of flavor... and THAT is rarely not a good thang!

Notes

The fun thing about this slaw is it can be whatever you want it to be... and can throw in any old things you wanna. If you have some of these nekkid ingredients on hand but not others, fix it anyway. This is a great way to clean out that produce drawer with those tidbits of this and that... not enough on its own, but perfect with thrown together with sister veggies.


Wouldn’t you love to make memories around your supper table at home… instead of a noisy restaurant with strangers?
happy family!
It was my pleasure Robert… thanks to you and your happy family!!

Cooked any good Groundhog lately?

groundhog-pirate2

To celebrate the day, the lazy blogger is sharing this annual post originally from 2011!  However, that’s about to change and routine blogging is about to commence this week.  I’m ready  with all sorts of goodies for you and I hope you are too…

So, what exactly IS a groundhog?  As I researched to see exactly what they are, I learned that they are also ‘woodchucks’ (huh?) or ground beavers!  Oh great, that tells me a lot.  I’m not sure, but I don’t think we have this particular specie of hog in my vicinity here in central North Carolina.  We have hogs with snouts and hogs with tailpipes, but pretty sure no ‘ground’ hogs.  However, I’ve been known to be wrong so somebody correct if that be the case.  This is a really good pie.  I have made it, just was fresh out of ground hog, so I used ‘regular’ hog instead.  I hope you will give it a try… with good old NC Sweet Potatoes and some good local pork from wherever you are.

That whole shadow thing has always confused me…  as I already have brain overload and remembering this is not of vital importance so I never saw fit to ‘file’ this up there.  If he (or she?) sees a shadow, which is it?  More winter or less?  And best I remember, predictions of weeks of future weather offered up by a ground beaver is about as accurate as our local weather folks when they say those proverbial words… “we’re on the line and don’t think there will be significant accumulation,” only to wake up to a FOOT of snow!

So since groundhogs aren’t worth much when it comes to weather forecasting, I wondered if they may, perhaps, be edible.  Always one to explore new culinary adventures, a-googling I went!  Turns out, this hog is dark meat, similar to squirrel or rabbit.  Now I haven’t cooked either one of those lately either… so I dig deeper.  If you get yourself a hog that’s been hibernating, you are gonna need to remove the layer of fat that has piled up under the skin… and while in there, you’ll need to yank out their ‘stinky’ glands.  If your hog is a senior citizen, parboiling is going to be necessary before cook’n.  (Apparently inspecting the hog’s teeth will give clues as to age, but unless you’re a wildlife dentist, I’m not sure how to know this!).

So, since PIE is on top of all the 2011 trend Lists as ‘hot stuff’ this year, I salute thee, Pie… Groundhog Pie!  If you have a favorite Groundhog recipe, do tell… and share it!  And MY prediction… Sunny Skies ahead for all… whether you’re east, west, north or south of me… especially to my friends in the midst of Snowpocolypse this week… better y’all than me!

(still learning all the bells and whistles to the new recipe print feature… a few kinks to get worked out…stay tuned!)

Southwestern Groundhog Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Tater Topping

TOPPING:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed (I cook mine in the micro)
  • 1 tall can evaporated milk
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, coarsely chopped (more if you like it hotter)
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sea salt

FILLING:

  • About 2 pounds lean ground groundhog
    (if you must, you can sub ground beef, turkey, pork, chicken)
  • 1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoon garlic oil, divided
  • 1-14 ounce can Mexi-Corn, drained*
  • 2-15 ounce cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1-7 ounce can diced roasted chilies
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack Cheese, divided
  • fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 375°.

TOPPING:

Combine (cooked) mashed potatoes, milk, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, cinnamon  and salt.  Mix well; set aside.

PIE FILLING:

In oven-safe skillet or small roasting pan, brown ground groundhog and onion in 2 tablespoons garlic oil; drain and set aside.  Add remaining tablespoon of garlic oil and corn, stirring several minutes to lightly toast corn.  Stir in tomatoes, chiles, chili powder, cumin and oregano.  Cook until hot and well-blended and juices reduce.  Remove from heat and mix in meat-onion mixture.  Add 1 ½ cups cheese into mixture.  Top with sweet potato mixture, spreading to edges.  Sprinkle top with remaining ½ cup cheese.  Bake in 375° oven for 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Southwestern Groundhog Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Tater Topping

Servings: 4-6 depending on your eaters

Southwestern Groundhog Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Tater Topping

What to throw together...

  • TOPPING:
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed (I cook mine in the micro)
  • 1 tall can evaporated milk
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, coarsely chopped (more if you like it hotter)
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sea salt
  • FILLING:
  • About 2 pounds lean ground groundhog
  • _ (if you must, you can sub ground beef, turkey, pork, chicken)_
  • 1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoon garlic oil, divided
  • 1-14 ounce can Mexi-Corn, drained*
  • 2-15 ounce cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1-7 ounce can diced roasted chilies
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack Cheese, divided
  • fresh cilantro
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • TOPPING:
  • Combine (cooked) mashed potatoes, milk, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, cinnamon and salt. Mix well; set aside.
  • PIE FILLING:
  • In oven-safe skillet or small roasting pan, brown ground groundhog and onion in 2 tablespoons garlic oil; drain and set aside. Add remaining tablespoon of garlic oil and corn, stirring several minutes to lightly toast corn. Stir in tomatoes, chiles, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Cook until hot and well-blended and juices reduce. Remove from heat and mix in meat-onion mixture. Add 1 ½ cups cheese into mixture. Top with sweet potato mixture, spreading to edges. Sprinkle top with remaining ½ cup cheese. Bake in 375° oven for 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro! Serve with side of black beans topped with a dollop of sour cream.

Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro!  Serve with side of black beans topped with a dollop of sour cream.

* Put corn juice into your freezer soup pot…more on that to come!

Counting blessings ~ what we take for granted…

bless·ing  [bles-ing]
the invoking of God’s favor upon a person

I should rename this “The Molasses Blog” since that’s about the speed I do blog posts!  So many things get ‘in the way’… work, new projects and clients, having fun with my incredibly fun-funny-wondermous nephew Wyatt and just life in general…
What a blessing to have Wyatt in my life!

Determined to throw out one more post before flip’n my calendar to 2012 (!), I squint as I write this as my left retina decided to just randomly detach itself from my eyeball days before Christmas… I ended up having emergency eye surgery on Christmas Eve eve, then having more (laser) surgery at my recheck the next morn on Christmas Eve… I was ordered to stay flat on my left side until today, and still must spend as much time as I can stand sideways a few more days for proper healing.  (For the record, should you ever find yourself sideways for long periods of time, you can do Control/Alt/Left or Right Arrow and your screen will magically turn that way for horizontal computing!)

I did get a great report at my follow up yesterday and am (knock-on-wood) healing nicely!  Before I get back to the topic at hand, I would like to sing the praises of all the docs that took care of me… from Eye Care Associates in Zebulon to Retina Associates in Raleigh and right on over to those at the Kittner Eye Center in Chapel Hill… what a grand bunch of well-trained folks… INCLUDING caring ‘bedside manor.’ I’m so grateful to all these folks and happy my sight is still intact in my eye… all the docs told me that had I waited even a day longer, it was probable I would have lost sight in my left eye… gosh how we take so many things for granted, like being able to SEE what’s around us!!
What a blessing it is to have sight!

And a quick hug to my sis too… for being my chauffeur and ‘patient advocate’ staying right by my side thru all of this and letting me recoup at her house too!
What a blessing to have a SISTER!

Do things in your freezer appear to be from outer space?

As we rush off into the new year, if you are like me, you feel the need to tidy things up a bit… organize and reorganize and have a fresh start.  Now, more than ever, so many of us continue to slide the old budget belt a bit tighter and I’d like to help you with that, starting, of course, in your kitchen.  When was the last time you took inventory of what’s in your freezer?  Have you EVER taken inventory of what’s in your freezer? I take for granted the fact that my freezer (make that freezerS) are full and hunger or the lack of money to feed myself  (or children if I had any) isn’t a worry as it is for growing numbers of those around us.  I admit I hoard food… another topic for another post… but ,
What a blessing it is to have a pantry, fridge and freezer(s) full of all sorts of foods at arm’s reach!

This weekend is a perfect time to take stock of your food blessings, starting in your freezer.  It really doesn’t take very long… here are just a few tips to get you going as you look to SEE what’s in yours! Be sure you have plenty of time to do this right and are not rushed so halfway through you abort the mission and have to go do something else.

The things in BOLD will give you a quick glace to see what you will need to gather and have ready in advance… now GO “git ‘er done” then come back and add your comments about your freezer adventure and let me know this post inspired youBearShareV10!

  • Put on some fun peppy music that will get you in the mood… stuff you like to sing in the shower or car…  or just plug in your iPod and let ‘er rip!
  • Sit out supplies:
    • name brand zippered bags, assorted sizes (based on my experience, store brands SUCK in this category)
    • dry erase board with markers
    • notepad/pen
    • some way to make labels (label maker, freezer tape and perm marker, your own paper labels with tape, etc.
  • Clear countertop and/or table so as you take everything out you can organize the ‘stuff’ into categories and like-items into piles for repacking.
  • Remove everything from your freezer.   If a small freezer, you can work fast enough so foods won’t thaw.  I do not recommend doing this on a hot day.  If you have a big freezer(s), do this on a cold winter’s day when you can simply sit the foods outside in shaded cold area.
  • Give it a quick cleaning by washing out with warm soapy water.  “Rinse” with a mixture of water and baking soda.  This will remove soap residue, remove odors and give a fresh start.  To keep it smelling fresh, I prefer a few lumps of charcoal.  I find they absorb odors better than other options.  Just put them in a cup somewhere in the freezer and I think you will notice the same.
  • As you get ready to restock foods into the nice clean freezer, toss out any with freezer burn (ice crystals…that stuff you can no longer recognize) or is so old you wouldn’t feed it to stray dogs or throw in a pond for fish!  And always remember…
    Never risk the plight of food poisoning over a little pack of old food… a regret you should never have!
  • Using the ziplock bags and other supplies, repackage anything that needs it.  Mash things flat for easier stacking or for sliding into small spaces in your freezer.  Freeze in a pile, then you can leave that way, or stack like this upright, depending on what works for best use of space for you.
  • As you repackage/replace your food, write each thing on the dry erase board.  As you menu plan for the week and make your grocery shopping list,  you can quickly glance at the list and see what you have to use.  As you use, simply wipe off the board, and as you buy and add new things or add leftover tidbits, write on this board (while also dating and labeling the package).  This system will greatly reduce your freezer waste (but only if you use it).
  • I have a couple of outdoor refrigerators with small top freezers and a chest freezer… i keep ‘inventory’ on those by writing on the freezer door with a dry erase marker (just like a dry erase board)… and at a glance I can see what’s in there… wipe off with my finger when something comes out and keep a pen on top of the freezer to add what goes in.

For tips on freezing foods, I’ll point you to a recent online article where I was consulted and provided helpful information on this topic.  You can read that at DinnerTool…

“How To Prevent Freezer Burn”
by Amber Greviskes

Now that you have your nice inventory list… here are a few sites where you can visit to plug in ingredient(s) to find recipes to create with them, or… simply “Throw Cook” something yourself.  If you need help or suggestions, post for me over on my “Throw Cooking” facebook page and I’ll throw you some ideas.

Now… sit back, relax and enjoy ringing in the New Year with your freshly cleaned freezer and ‘whatever’ you pulled out to cook up!  And “just in case” our superstitions hold true,  I hope you’ll ‘throw’ some Southern Traditions on the table…

Black-Eyed Peas for prosperity and good luck… greens (cabbards for this gal-see recipe) for money and fortune… and of course, cornbread, which represents gold!  I’m having thoughts of a Bloody Mary BE Peas and Greens Soup… kept warm in the crock pot for anybody who wants to drop by… throw in your fav bloody mary mix, drain/rinsed canned or frozen, greens (cabbards, collards, cabbage, etc.), some chopped onions and celery if you have… and whatever seasonings strike your fancy!  Serve with Cornbread Cookies or your own cornbread recipe… iced tea or a real cold beer!  Now wipe that drool away, get ready to clean out your freezer for a fresh start… and have a safe and fun weekend with your friends and family… see y’all NEXT year.


What a blessing it is to be here today, writing this blog post, with ‘saved’ eyesight looking towards a new year!

Happy New Year Y’all…
Wendy… aka “Dee Dee”