Category: Blessings & Life Lessons

…not your usual St. Patrick’s Day celebration!

Okie Dokie… so my blog is getting a sloowwww start!  Life has a way of keeping us bizzzzy, which is one reason I even contemplated doing a blog for a couple of years (!) before heading into blog fog.  So don’t worry about my posts becoming invasive and ‘too much’ because I don’t think THAT is gonna be an issue… 

This week, St. Patty’s Day to be exact, is a special day for me.  Nope, I’m not Irish, but it is a day of celebration for me because…
March 17th is my Personal Day of Freedom Celebration! [singlepic id=125 w=320 h=240 float=none]This March 17th, I’m dance’n a jig as I look back on being a ‘former’ smoker… my QUIT DATE was March 17th, 2005!
WoW…6 y.e.a.r.s it’s been!

My precious little nephew Wyatt came into my world the previous September, and as much as I wanted to quit before he arrived, I just couldn’t (or more like “didn’t”).  But as he grew, I didn’t want his little senses to be subjected to something even I found disgusting!  I didn’t want him to SEE me smoking… I didn’t want him to SMELL the nasty stinch on my clothes… so I did it!  Just six months after God blessed our family with him, I QUIT!  And haven’t had or wanted so much as a puff since that day…  So St. Patty’s Day will always be ‘my day,’ the day I started smelling better… breathing better… living better… and tasting foods ‘more better!’

Speaking of tasting… I found this recipe, or some form of it, years ago visiting the home of a personal chef colleague in Dallas, TX.  While hanging out in Donna’s kitchen and browsing through her cookbooks, I came upon this soup in a book I made note of as “Sensibly Thin.”  So that’s the best I have to offer in terms of giving credit where credit is due… but the picture is my own.  It was taken before I started learning ‘more better’ food photography tips… so ‘scuse the poor quality!

This week, grocery stores have the usually expensive Corned Beef Roasts on sale, so it’s a great time to pick one (or a few) up and crock pot tomorrow while at work for a tradtional Corned Beef and Cabbage supper tomorrow night.

Then, in a few days, stir up a pot of this really DEE-lish soup with the leftovers! (And y’all know I’m a ‘throw cooker’ so throw leftever cabbage into this soup too…just yet one more layer of flavor.)  It’s incredibly easy and fast to make and probably not a soup you’ve made before…  Sooooo 

celebrate something… if nothing but simply being alive with a roof over your head that a big fat wave didn’t just swoosh over, taking away everything you treasure and need to live each day, including loved ones.

With the events this past week in Japan, this Irish Blessing seems to be the appropriate one… so let us all stop to count our blessings today, and every day!
Blessings to your and yours…

Bless This House

Bless this house, o Lord, we pray.
Make it safe by night and day.
Bless these walls so firm and stout,
Keeping want and trouble out.
Bless the roof and chimney tall,
Let thy peace lie over all.
Bless the doors that they may prove
Ever open to joy and love.
Bless the windows shining bright,
Letting in God’s heavenly light.
Bless the hearth a-blazing there,
With smoke ascending like a prayer.
Bless the people here within…
Keep them pure and free from sin.
Bless us all, that one day, we
May be fit, O lord, to dwell with Thee.

Speaking of GROCERY stores… gotta run now… our *new* Piggly Wiggly store opened in town today (wheeee doggies!)… headed there right now!  Stay tuned… may be a blog post over there somewhere…. hope y’all enjoy this soup, just perfect for chilly winter’s eve on the doorstep of SPRING!!

 

 

 

 

 

This is the original recipe I created, but like my makeover one even better… that is the one you’ll find on the “Print Recipe” page!  Enjoy one, the other or both… or one you create with a little of both!!

Reuben Soup

Cream of Reuben Soup (original recipe…see edited below)

Serving Size: 8

1      small        onion — chopped
2      cloves       garlic — minced
1      large         carrot — shredded
3      T.              cornstarch*
6      c.               chicken broth
1      c.               skim milk (I use 1/2 and 1/2)
10    oz.              corned beef brisket — chopped
…from some you cooked or deli sliced
(more is a ‘good thang’)
8      oz.              Bavarian sauerkraut — drained and rinsed
(I just ‘throw in’ an entire can)
1/2  t.               thyme (I throw in a bit more)
1/4  t.               white pepper
1/4  t.               tarragon
1         t.              Old Bay Seasoning
1/3  c.              water (only if needed for consistency)
8      oz.               shredded Swiss cheese
Rye or Pumpernickel Bread (for croutons) – omit or sub for gluten free
…broken into pieces and toasted**

Cook onion, garlic and carrot in microwave-safe bowl on HI for 2 mins.  Drain.
Blend in cornstarch.  Add broth and milk.  Cook on stove over med. heat until thickens.
Add remaining ingredients and cook until cheese melts.
Serve with rye bread or croutons.
* Use a pure gluten free cornstarch to keep GF.

** I love breads, but living alone, I never eat an entire loaf.  So when I buy a loaf of rye or pumpernickel, I put some in freezer to have on hand for a change of pace sandwich or for croutons for soups like this.  If wrapped well, bread will last a longggg time in your freezer.  These breads also can be used in recipes that call for bread crumbs… think outside the usual box and use a different kind of bread to give your recipe needing bread crumbs a new and different layer of flavor!

 

Cream of Reuben Soup (edited)

As a throw cooker, it’s rare that things are the same any 2 times… that is especially true when it comes to soup.  I just made this recipe again, but with the following changes… basically an entirely “same but different” soup!  Both recipes are DEElish… but I think I’m partial to this one.  Just make some, and if you don’t have any one or more of these ingredients, as long as it is similar, you’ll be sure to enjoy the experience!
NOTE:  This recipe is Gluten Free if croutons are deleted or subbed with gluten free bread or cracker!  Also, use a gluten free pure cornstarch to thicken if desired.

Creamy Reuben Soup

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Creamy Reuben Soup

What to throw together...

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons oil (I used garlic oil but use your fav)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large turnip, small dice
  • 4 leeks, washed and sliced into thin rings
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, (not peeled) small dice
  • 3 tablespoons garlic puree (I use the puree in tubes from produce dept)
  • 1 14.4 oz can Bavarian Sauerkraut
  • 1 fresh corned beef (3-4 lbs.), cooked and chopped )I cook in crock pot overnight)
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • Shredded Swiss Cheese
  • 8-12 sliced rye or pumpernickel bread (I use rye/pump swirl bread), cut into cubes and toasted

How to throw together...

  1. Cook onion, turnip, leeks and apple in butter and a bit of oil until tender and starting to brown and caramelize in saute pan.
  2. Pour into heated crock pot.
  3. Stir in garlic puree, kraut, corned beef, thyme and white pepper.
  4. Fill kraut can with chicken broth x 2 and with half and half x 2.
  5. Stir to blend and cover.
  6. Heat in crock pot on HIGH until hot and dried thyme is tender.
  7. Scoop into serving bowls. Top with grated Swiss and toasted croutons. EAT!

Notes

If preferred, make a cornstarch slurry with a bit of the juice and stir back into the soup to thicken. To keep gluten free, use a pure/gluten free cornstarch or thickener.

Peas, please… field peas, that is!

…field peas and country ham

Peas are such a simple food… they don’t need much fuss’n with, and can be fixed in all sorts of ways. Cook simply with some country ham pieces.  Ladle up a cup of the pot likker from their cook’n. Add some cornbread and call it supper!  Top with stewed tomatoes or homemade tomato jam

White acre peas with a dollop of tomato jam!

 

 

Whirl up for some right tasty hummus. Or make what we call “Carolina Caviar” for porch sit’n or tailgate’n which we will be doing soon! 

Add some tomato based BBQ sauce for a little kick to your Carolina Caviar!

To make this rather southern “dip,” you can cut up fresh veggies like peppers and tomatoes and onions and shake in some hot sauce, or just stir in some prepared salsa and “doctor it up” for a simpler version. I like to stir in some thicker tomato based BBQ sauce for a tasty surprise too. I like to serve mine with pork rind dippers as you’ll see here at this big reception I did long ago, but just serve with your own favorite chip!  

 

All sorts of fresh field peas are plentiful during July and August… time to stock up!

Any way you use them, North Carolina field peas are just good eats.  And right now is prime pea pick’n season. Load your freezer with all sorts of great peas to enjoy throughout the coming seasons, until it is time to load up again next summer. 

 

Putting up peas… White Acre Peas

 

You will need to blanch them before freezing, but that’s really easy to do.  You will find several methods to do that here, at the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s site! 

 

So run along to your local farm or farmers’ market and pick up PEAS!  Beautiful peas in all shapes sizes and beautiful colors!  Cook some cornbread, pour a glass of iced tea, and plop yourself down in that rocking chair on the porch… enjoy these dog days of summer before they are gone.  

….beautiful summer field peas

I rocked many a mile with my mama and grandma…. shelling peas on my grandma’s porch… back in the day, before pea shelling machines stole that “joy” from us.  Who else has those memories?  I remember my mama saying… “you will be glad you shelled those peas when we are eating them this winter” to which I defiantly declared… “I’d just as soon not eat a pea as to have to do this right here” as any young girl wanting to go play would say. But you know what, those WERE “the days.”

Oh how I’d love to turn back the clock… to these days… porch pea-shelling days!

And oh how I’d give ANYthing… to go back and have those days again… with my mama, my Ma Hocutt, and the sounds of peas falling into those metal pans and my sore little thumbs. Anybody care to join me?

A backroads aventure…. clothesline

A backroads adventure…
clothes·line  ˈklōT͟Hzlīn/
{-noun- a strong, narrow rope, cord, wire, etc., usually stretched between two poles, posts or buildings on which clean laundry is hung to dry.}

keep reading

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”