Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Pralines

A very Old Recipe:

1 and 1/2 cup of sugar

3/4 cups light brown sugar, packed

1/2 and 2 T Half and Half Cream (or Buttermilk, or Bailey's Irish Cream, or Egg Nog)

1/2 stick of real butter

1 and 1/2 cups of pecans

1 tsp of real vanilla

pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients except the pecans and vanilla in a heavy saucepan.

Mixture will be thick. Stir until it comes to a boil, then turn heat down to a low boil. Stir

occasionally, spooning mixture up on sides of pan to melt any sugar that hasn't melted.

Cook until mixture reaches 230 degrees with a candy thermometer.

Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and the pecans. Stir vigorously until the mixture begins to thicken and becomes creamy and cloudy. Spoon onto sprayed or buttered wax paper.

When cooled, remove from paper and wrap or place on a pretty Christmas platter.

They look very pretty stacked on a red platter with chocolate crinkles and mexican wedding cookies .

Each recipe only takes minutes to make. I usually make 4 piles of ingredients before starting to cook.
Get yourself a candy themometer, they are inexpensive and will save you a lot of gooey messes!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Orleans Pralines

This is a great praline recipe. It takes a little practice, but once you have it down, you can make piles of this candy in very a short amount of time. I mix them in with my platters of cookies for gifts to friends and family. Try it with Bailey's Irish Cream, your grown-up friends will love you!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Moon

Taking my daughters and their daughters to see New Moon today. We are very excited as we are all twilight addicts. Will review movie as soon as we come back!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Apple Butter

I really love this recipe and have been using it for years. It comes from an old cookbook.
All my cookbooks are in storage right now,(like everything else I own) so I can't tell you which one it is until our new house is finished. My Kitchen Aid (red) mixer is also being held hostage with the cookbooks. I hope to release them soon. LOL

4 pounds tart apples
2 cups apple cider
2 cups sugar, brown or white
pinch of salt
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (freshly grated makes a big difference)

Rinse apples in cool water and drain well. Core peel and chop apples. In an 8 quart pan, combine apples and cider. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are soft, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from heat, press apples through food mill or fine meshed sieve Return apple pulp to pan. Stir in sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Over medium low heat, heat mixture, stirring constantly until sugar is completely dissolved. Increase heat to medium and bring mixture to a simmer stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer until thick, about 30 minutes. (I like to put it in the crockpot at this point ,on low, and cook the rest of the afternoon. It makes the house smell nice.) As the butter thickens, stir constantly to prevent sticking or scorching. (you don't have to do this if it is in the crockpot) Skim off any foam . Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads with a clean or damp cloth. Cover with hot lids and apply screw lids. Process half pint jars in a 200 degree water bath for 10 minutes.
Makes about 5 half pint jars.
This recipe doubles well.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thanksgiving in the wild

Yesterday my husband and I went over all the possibilities of where to have Thanksgiving this year. He asked, "Your mothers place? My mothers place?" I said, "Our apartment is too small, do you want to go out to eat this year?" Okay, all of those suggestions were nixed. He then said,
"Why don't we put up a tent and have it on our new farm?"
Now, that is one I didn't even think of. However, it does sound like a good idea. Hm..I wonder what Martha Stewart would think?
This is gonna take some researching and planning, we have no water and no electricity yet.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Melt in your mouth pumpkin bread.

Here is the recipe I promised. Made so many this month I think I can do it in my sleep!
Credit for this recipe goes to submitted by Corwynn Darkholme.
2 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 (3.5 ounce) coconut cream pudding mix, instant
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp baking soda
5 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F . Lightly grease two 9 X 5 inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl , combine dry ingredients, flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the oil, eggs and pumpkin until just blended. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Pour the batter into prepared pans.
Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour. or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pans for 15 mins. Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.

Now, if you want to make this into a spectacular round layer cake for your Thanksgiving table,
use only 1 cup of oil, divide batter into 3 sprayed and floured round 9 inch pans and bake until toothpick comes out clean. (Start checking layers after about 30 mins.)

This is a great Pumpkin Cream Cheese frosting for your cake:
Credit for this recipe comes from Country Living magazine.

1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup of unsalted butter, softened (1/2 stick)
1 TB fresh orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 cups of confection sugar, sifted
Blend the cream cheese, pumpkin puree, butter, orange juice, zest and vanilla in a large bowl using an electric mixer set at medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy-about 5 more minutes.

I make a little more of it than the recipe calls for because my family loves gooey, piled up, very high frosting! This recipe should be enough for the layers ,top and sides of your cake. This makes a very nice centerpiece with a little zested orange around the edges of the top layer.

This cake is a great comfort and everyone I know wants the recipe when I make it.
Save yourself some trouble and always include the recipe when you give this cake away to friends and family .

Saturday, October 24, 2009

autumn white night

I have tried to sleep tonight, very tired, but my recent bout with the flu has made me restless and melancholy.
When sleep escapes me, my mind wanders to the old farm.
In these tired waking nightmares I feel myself walking barefoot in the early fog morning ; down the worn dirt paths that led to the pasture, over the cool grasses that were the back yard and edge of our herb garden. My hand trails along the tall prairie grasses wet with dew, spiders raising their little arms as I pass, cottontails and possums scrunching deeper into their hiding places, small salamanders slinking behind rocks.

I remember every herb, flower and fruit that has grown there over the years. I close my eyes and inhale their scents as deeply as I can.

The fog has not burned off yet; it hovers, swirls over the gardens, I sit on the damp, cool ground and wait for it disappear .

It is very quiet in this dream. (or wakemare, as I call it)

I am so overcome with pain and when my idle, tired mind leads me back there, I feel the loss of the farm so intensely. The sharp pain makes me stop breathing. It was not mine, not ours. It was just a place, a resting place for us for a little while. I should not feel so possessive of it.
The gardens we created there were so beautiful, peaceful ,lovely.
The ache and anger I feel at it's loss threatens to bring me down. But only when I let it, only when I allow it.
It's true that you should not look back. It's not a good thing to feel this way.
Night time is very mystical, you say things that you would not say in the day.
Thank goodness I sleep well most of the time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rose Cream Cake

Here is a very nice recipe that I use to make rose water cakes.

Candy pink or red rose petals with egg whites and sugar the night before you make these cakes. (paint individual petals with egg whites and sprinkle with fine sugar. Let them dry on wax paper.)

White Cake Batter

2 and 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
4 tsps baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light cream (not the heavy whipping cream)
6 fresh red or pink rose petals, minced finely (unsprayed organic rose petals)
3 tsps rose water
1 tsp almond flavoring

Spray small foil mini loaf pans with oil. Mix half flour and confection sugar . Use to flour the pans. Tap out excess. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together : flour, salt, baking powder. Sift at least 2 times. Set aside.
In another clean, very dry bowl (any oil in the bowl will not allow the egg whites to whip properly) Beat eggs whites until foamy. Gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until meringue makes soft peaks.
In another bowl, cream butter, add remaining cup of sugar, mix together until light and fluffy. Add minced roses to butter and sugar mixture. Add sifted dry ingredients a little at a time to butter and sugar, alternating with cream. Beat after each addition until smooth. Mix in rose water, and almond flavoring. (you may substitute vanilla if you don't like almond) Add meringue, folding into batter.
Pour batter 3/4 full into small pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Begin to check for doneness after 20 mins. (every oven is different)
Let cakes cool in pans for about 10 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks. Place a rimmed cookie sheet under racks.
Make a simple syrup with sugar and water, adding a few herbal hibiscus petals for color and flavor, letting the hibiscus infuse the syrup until very red.
(If you don't know how to make simple syrup, Martha Stewart is the best source for the recipe) Strain petals from syrup.
Make a confection sugar frosting using the hibiscus syrup for flavor, color and to make a nice consistency . Frosting should come out a light pink. You want to use enough syrup to make a frosting that will pour thickly onto cakes. You want it to be thick enough to be seen on cakes, but not so thick that it will have to be spread with a knife. Pour glaze over cakes letting the excess run onto cookie sheet.
Crumble the roses you candied yesterday and sprinkle lightly over cakes.
Let cakes cool and frosting dry before wrapping.

I wrap them in clear cello bags and tie them shut with rose colored raffia or pink gross grain ribbon.
Its a nice touch to print a tag with an old fashioned rose on it.

Now, after giving you that recipe, I will tell you that I have taken a box of white cake mix, added rose water, petals and cream to it and have come out with a very nice moist cake.
If you decide not to use the frosting, make a hibiscus-rosewater simple syrup and paint the top of the cakes with it. The syrup will make the cakes stay very moist.

Rose Cream Cake

This is one of my favorite items to sell at markets and fairs. It makes a pretty presentation in a clear cello bag tied with a dusty pink or red ribbon ribbon. (Sometimes I tie it with red raffia) Attach a small tag that has an old-fashioned rose pic on it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Peppermint soap

Making soap today. For some reason it's not coming out right. Either warmed it too long or changed the recipe too radically.
Finally managed to make 8 bars ! I usually make at least 20 at a time .
I don't think today is a 20 kinda day.........
The recipe is a goodie, chocolate mint herb, honey, peppermint oil....
I use it to cool off hot flashes.
Peppermint loves menopausal women!
Wanted to bake this afternoon, but since my morning has been one disaster after another, I would probably burst into flames or start the house on fire.
Man, I miss my farm, I would be doing this outside or in the little shop.
If any of you have a farm, do your best to keep it, we are finding it very hard to adapt to town living. Our new farm won't be ready for at least 7 or 8 months.
My husband says we aren't ourselves, that we don't know who we are anymore, lol.
He is so right.
Tomorrow I will make rosewater cream soap. If the sun, moon and stars are right......or if my head isn't popping off from everything that's happening today!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

pumpkin cake with sour cream frosting

this week i will give you the pumpkin cake recipe i make for all my referral sources and friends.

snakes are not our friends

My husband loves our new property. He has big plans for the wooded area on the east side of it. Last week he told me that he found some elderberries on it, so Saturday I decided to give it a look.
Now, if you know anything about me (or women in general) you know that snakes are our natural enemies and that woods generally have all kinds of these critters in them.
However, I REALLY wanted these elderberries.
I armed myself with bugspray, long pants, my hiking boots and knapsack. (I forgot the machete' in the jeep)
It was not enough.......
After walking thru briars, falling down an embankment, getting mud and blood all over my face and hands.....he finally appeared...a nice large water moccasin.

That was the last straw for me.
Elderberry syrup, good for respiratory problems and lessening the symptoms of the flu, will have to come from Mountain Rose Herbs this year.
I will plant elderberry bushes in a civilized area, and leave the woods to my husband and the snakes.
Did I mention we ran into a copperhead too?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Will I burn for this?

Yesterday I received two books from my bookclub, "Julie and Julia", and "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". I have never wanted to cook french food before. In fact, I have cooked almost every ethnic food I can think of, but never once did I have the envie' to make french food.
This is very silly because I am French and French food has been in my life since infancy.
We live in Louisiana, we are Cajun French, why have I not learned to cook these things? Of course, the food of the Acadians is different from Parisian, but it is based in the same butter and flour ideations.
In my lifetime I have cooked Mexican, Italian, German, Indian (east and west), Carribean, Hawaiian, Swedish, Scottish , English, Welsh, well, you get the idea.....
I have bought the great Cajun cookbooks, and made the obligatory Etoufee' and Shrimp Sauce Picante' but, never really tried anything Parisian. (My grandmother would just turn over if she thought I would consider cooking Parisian!)
My mother, when I told I bought the cookbook said, "They don't cook like us"! She said it like an exclamation point, in that very French way (with a shrug of her little French shoulders), as if that was that and I should go no further.
I had to restrain myself from rolling my eyes.
All of my life I have been hearing this phrase from her, my grandmother and all of their little Cajun girlfriends. It's like a mantra here in Louisiana. " Cher' we were thrown out of France and Canada! We will have nothing to do with Paris!" Like a good little Catholic Cajun girl, I repeated it to my little friends and they repeated it to me. We heard this in our sleep. We grew up believing this. this a revelation? LOL. Naw.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking is very interesting, it is what I expected; informative, precise, very easy to understand. I may have to treat my husband to some of the recipes. The Beef Bourg. , now that looks like something he would eat.
The other book, "Julie and Julia" reads just like a blog, it is very wordy and kinda runs together, ( like this) but I am enjoying her angst.
I think I will finish reading it.
If I cook anything from the cookbook, please don't tell my mother.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jenny's bread rolls

This bread was very popular during the depression when ingredients were scarce and everyone made their own bread.

1 cup of luke warm water
1 1/2 tsp of sugar
1 pkg of yeast (granular)
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of vegetable oil
3 cups of white flour

Mix water with sugar until dissolved. Add yeast, salt and tsp of oil.
Pour in a cup of flour and stir until well mixed. Add 2nd cup of flour, empty dough out onto a floured smooth surface and begin kneading with hands. Knead dough until it begins to look smooth. ( it doesn't take very long) Put dough into a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Turn dough over in bowl to coat and let rise in a warm place till almost tripled in size. (about 1 1/2 hours) Turn out and make about 10 small rolls. Place in an oiled round cake pan and let rise until doubled.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 mins or until a light golden brown. Butter top of rolls when you take out of oven.

baking with daughters

My youngest daughter visited with me on Sunday afternoon and suggested that she and her sister would make homemade bread with me on Monday. ( I don't work on Mondays.)
Since we are all excellant bakers we decided to make different loaves of bread.
Monday morning was beautiful, cool with a gentle southern breeze blowing outside. We took time out to watch the flowers bouncing with busy bees and butterflies before going in to bake.
They arrived with bread flour in hand and ingredients.
The first loaf was made by my oldest daughter Jenny. She made her grandmother's soft dinner rolls. (My mother taught her when she was a new bride!) It was very touching to see her kneading the dough that I had watched my mother make throughout my childhood. Her simple actions brought tears of joy to my eyes as I watched her mix and knead. When she offered me a small piece of dough, I was transported back to my girlhood days. (My mother had always given me a little bit of dough before it went to the pantry to rise!)
I thought, "How like my mother my girl's are. How like my grandmother they are. We are all generations of women who bake great bread, and love spending time together doing it." My youngest, Michelle, who bakes bread for a living, declined to make her bread today. She wrote down her recipes for us while we formed our rolls and loaves.
While we waited for the bread to rise we made a small amount of pesto. The basil is almost spent and they wanted a last little bite. (little it is, the basil is not producing enough to make more than a cup.)
I made my favorite flax seed bread which rose very high and made a beautiful golden crust.
The house was filled with the smell of bread and honey!
At the end of our day together we divided up the bread and rolls. My dear darlings took bread home to their loved ones, to husbands, boyfriends and children. ( They remembered to leave some for their father!)
It was a wonderful tender day for all of us. We talked about the early cookie -making days of their childhood, when I was the only teacher. Today I learned some great bread-making techniques from them! It is the first time we have baked together in years! (and the first time all three of us have baked at the same time !)
We've decided that we need to bake again next month.
Our vote was to make pumpkin cake and black and white cookies.
It was a good day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


The basil was very vigorous this summer! We made many great caprese salads, flavored oils and of course, our favorite pesto. Yesterday I pruned and clipped this wonderful herb and decided that it had run its course. It's always a sad day for me, I love summer and this means the end of it for me. Our southern climate may stay warm for awhile longer, but the basil is my personal indicator for the beginning of fall. Basil can live until the first frost, but I find the freshest flavor is during the heart of summer. Yesterday I dry wilted basil for flavored oils and the rest went to our last best summer pesto. Here is my very favorite recipe:

Extra Rich Pesto
6 cups of genovese basil, leaves only
3 large fresh cloves garlic, peeled and roasted (in a skillet with a small dab of olive oil)
1 cup of toasted, unsalted, unshelled, macadamia nuts (dry roast in a very hot skillet. Watch carefully, do not burn)
1 triangle of grated, fresh parmesean cheese (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsps sea salt
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
In a food processor place basil leaves, roasted garlic, toasted nuts. Pulse off and on until roughly chopped. Start pouring the 3/4 cup of olive oil in a slow steady stream while running the machine on lowest speed. Stop machine, add grated cheese. Pulse and add 1/4 cup of olive oil in slow stream until incorporated.
I serve it on fresh french bread with creamy unsalted butter.
I hope you enjoy it!
PS: don't even think of trying to count calories when you serve this pesto!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

forgot to mention..

did i mention the oysters we had? on the half shell? with ice cold beer? WOW

new orleans

Returned today from a trip to New Orleans. Visited homeless shelters, met with case managers and clients. Toured a huge facility that housed lots of people and feeds 500! Later that night we attended a dinner benefit in the French Quarter district . All money collected was donated to homeless shelters.
The party was held in a house built in 1855. What an amazing feeling to walk on those creaky oak hardwood floors . The staircase was cypress wood polished to a high shine which was shown off by the bright lights of antique chandeliers. I imagined glimpses of gray coated confederate officers walking the gowned belles down the steps, earrings swinging and hoops gently swaying . (old houses give my imagination a work out, I love history!) We walked around to the walled shaded courtyard smelling jasmine, roses, and drank mellow dark wines. The early evening was so enchanting and magic.
After the party we invited a New Orleans police officer to a late supper. His personal job is to help get the homeless off the street into shelters and rehabs. (like us!) He was a wonderful italian guy who talked all night about how much he loved his work. We ate great seafood at a local restaurant then finished it off with banana crepes !
The officer then took us for a ride down Royal, Magazine, Decatur, Tchoupatoulis, Canal and Bourbon streets in his specially painted NOPD golf cart. You get a lot of crazy stares when you are cruising downtown with a police officer!
Visited a voodoo shop the next morning. Smelled herby to me but I couldnt identify anything. LOL!
It was such fun!

Monday, September 14, 2009

herbal vitamins

This is so cool, I will love being able to post recipes.

candy for crones?

Made all my crone candy today. It is delicious. The recipe includes seasame butter, spirulina, gingseng, dong qui, honey, bee pollen. I rolled the 1 inch balls in toasted macadamia nuts and toasted coconut. After reading about the spirulina it opened my mind to all the different ways to use it. Shakes! Smoothies!
Going to have a booth at the local "Market Days" fair in November. It will be held in a very little town just down the road. It is always so much fun. Don't always make a lot of money but it's a good time and I get to talk to the locals. The elderly who live there are always fascinated by my herbs. Will sell :Mulling spices, Lemon Balm cookies, Culinary oils- Rosemary, Basil, 3 Herb, Chili pepper and Lemon Grass. Will bring 3 teas this time, Serene Lemon, Autumn Mint Morning, and the new tea, "Winter Dreams". Winter dreams is a new tea formula, has vanilla black tea, lemon balm, mugwort, calendula. I hope it will sell as well as the last tea formula did. Our last formula was called "Summers End". Of course, it was a blend of all the herbal flowers and sweet herbs from the summer garden. It did very well, the main ingredient being pineapple sage and blossoms.
Okay, enough of this, have to get back to work on my lesson. Finished my tinctures and salves, will type up the plans for treating menopause and safe pregnancies.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rainy day but I don't mind. Herbs are shiny, getting the water they craved.
Will begin my lesson early today. When the candy is done I will taste test and share the results.
This is lesson 6, it was a tough one for me.