Posted in family, Food, Thanksgiving

Polly’s Apple Pie

Not for the novice cook. ūüė¶ Sorry.

Polly was the mother of one of our dearest friends. She lived a life punctuated with fabulous sugary creations. We have found we need to eliminate lots of purely sugary downloads, but I make exceptions for Thanksgiving or very special company.

This pie is one of the exceptions. The secrets to it are: real butter, too much sugar, and the baking time and temp. The bottom crust will be a bit difficult to manage, but you will NOT care.

I promise.

Every “Pie Day” I wish I’d written this apple pie recipe to share. So here we are, at 3/14/16 (pi, rounded) and it’s no use; I never have.

The trouble is, I don’t have a recipe.

But if you are experienced enough at cooking pies, you can make sense of this recipe, I am sure.

Polly’s Apple Pie!

Set oven for 325 degrees.

2 pie crusts made with egg, butter, and vinegar
One deep-dish pie plate made of glass.
1, 3-pound bag of good cooking apples
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional—I don’t)
1 stick real butter
small amount of additional sugar (optional—I do)

  1. Roll bottom crust and place into large, glass, deep-dish pie plate.
  2. Do NOT peel apples. Wash, core, and slice as thinly as possible (about 20-24 slices per apple, at least.)
  3. Mix apples with sugar and pack as many as possible into bottom crust. You may have to rearrange them to make them all fit. It’s worth it.
  4. Cut butter into fat slices and arrange over apple slices.
  5. Roll top crust and vent many times. Apply to pie and seal carefully.
  6. Spritz top with water and sprinkle with additional sugar, if desired.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees for 90 minutes. (Yes, one and a half hours.) Do not place anything under the pie for catching spills. It will spill over, probably, but it’s worth it. It caramelizes. You will not believe this pie and will gain a new respect for an oven with a spill in it. I promise.

Okay, friends, this is the secret to the most amazing apple pie you ever, ever ate:

  1. Real butter.
  2. Too much sugar
  3. Bake in glass plate at 325 for one and a half hours

Even apple-pie-disdainers love this one.

Come back this fall, and I’ll add a better photo. ūüôā

Posted in Homemaking, Recipes

How to Make Mashed Potatoes (that are not from a box)

Some things just have to be done right. Really.

Mashed PotatoesWhen something as wonderfully delicious as mashed potatoes gets messed up, it can hurt feelings!

If you try to pick the serving spoon up out of the bowl, and you get the entire bowl of mashed potatoes with it, they’re messed up.


But there is a cure and you have found it, right here! Yay YOU! Read this and have lots of fun!

Mashed Potatoes

  1. Scrub well: one potato for each serving. (People often overeat this wonderful dish and leftovers are superb for many uses.)
  2. If the potatoes are not organically grown, peel them. If you do not enjoy peel in your mashed potatoes, peel them. Save the peelings for the chickens; they love ’em.
  3. Cut the potatoes into half-inch slices or one-inch cubes.
  4. Place cut potatoes into pan large enough for an inch of water over them, and also room to boil.
  5. Bring potatoes and water to a boil and add salt: For only one or two potatoes, add just a half teaspoon salt; for a big boiler full, add a tablespoon or so. Lower heat to simmer. (Just a few bubbles, not splashing around.)
  6. Simmer for about twenty minutes, at least. Test for doneness. Potatoes should be really soft and tender, to be done. If you stick a piece and it sinks down into the rest of the pieces, it’s too hard yet. If the fork goes straight into the piece or even breaks it easily, they’re done.
  7. Pour “done”potatoes and water into a colander over a large bowl. Set the cooking water aside to cool.
  8. Dump hot potato pieces into large mixer bowl and use beaters on low to break them up a lot. Then turn up speed to medium, to make them very mashed and fluffy.
  9. Add butter: If the large mixer bowl is close to full, add a whole stick of butter, at least; if you cooked only two potatoes, use less. Beat the butter in.
  10. Add milk: Do not be shy to add milk. Add it in small doses, but do add it. You do not want the potatoes to be stiff. It should be liked whipped cream or only slightly stiffer. It should not be like dried out playdough. Scrape edges into the middle to make sure all is blended well. Do not be afraid of overbeating–they need this.
  11. Turn off mixer and use spatula to smooth top of potatoes and mound them in the middle.
  12. Wipe edges of bowl clean and serve with a smile.


  • Add garlic powder while beating.
  • Use cream instead of milk.
  • Add herbs of choice, dried and powdered, a pinch or two at a time to not overdo. Parsley is popular. Italian herbs are good. A few light flecks of something mysterious adds a lot, in this case.
  • Use cream cheese instead of butter.
  • Add chives.
  • Stir in bacon crumbles (not fake! real bacon!) with spoon, before mounding.

Leftover Mashed Potatoes

To Reheat: Place a small bit of milk in the bottom of a good pan and add cold mashed potatoes. Stir often and watch carefully while warming over medium heat. Be sure to heat through. Serve.

Potato Patties: Fry some bacon or sausage and set aside. Mix cold, leftover mashed potatoes with egg, about one egg for each cup or two of mashed potatoes. Drop by heaping tablespoon into hot pan drippings and fry until richly brown on one side; turn and fry other side.
Serve with gravy or honey. Mmm!

Potato Soup: Soften chopped onion and celery in small amount of butter, over medium heat, using a small pot. Add mashed potatoes and stir to warm. Add enough milk to make it a thin soup. Continue on medium heat until heated through and about to simmer. Serve with cheese (Swiss is a good one) and crackers.

That Cooled and Saved Potato Broth

Save in refrigerator for no more than a week. Use in recipes such as gravy, soups, and bread making. Just substitute for the liquid called for in the recipe. You will be pleased. Reduce or eliminate the salt called for in the recipe.

Posted in 'Tis the Season, Food, gardening, Homemaking, Recipes

Tomatoes. Wow. Not.

No tomatoes
Peppers, yes.

This year, it seems either you HAVE enough tomatoes, thank you…

…or else you don’t.

This year, we don’t. We planted 40 Bradleys and Brandywines and got about ten quarts of tomato juice, total.

She sighs.

However, she DOES have tomato recipes and for those of you who have been blessed, she is willing to share and bless you even more!

Have fun! And use the contact page to let her know if you need more recipes, because, unlike the tomatoes, she does have more recipes. Ha.

So here goes!


1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup Italian dressing

Stir and serve cold. Some like it better the second day.


Into each pint jar, place:

1 whole jalapeno
1 pinch rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp. salt

Fill each jar, then, with blanched and peeled tomatoes.
Apply hot flat and screw band.
Pressure can at 5 lbs. of pressure for 10 minutes.


2 T. olive oil
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
2 c. raw sliced mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic, pressed (or 4) (or 6 or 10)
1 t. powdered cayenne

Cook, stirring, on medium-high until meat is done and crumbly, mushrooms are dark brown, and onion is soft.

Add and stir:

3 T. dried Italian herb mix

Add and stir thoroughly, mashing tomatoes. Simmer for ¬Ĺ hour:

1 quart canned tomatoes (or about fifteen medium peeled tomatoes)
1 small can tomato paste

Add and stir:

¬ľ c. Worcestershire sauce
¬Ĺ c. catsup
several drops of liquid smoke

Add while stirring thoroughly:

2 T. cornstarch mixed with ¬Ĺ c. water or tomato juice

Continue simmering until sauce thickens. Serve over pasta or spaghetti squash.



2 ¬ľ c. tomato juice (OR whiz enough whole tomatoes, skin and all, to make that amount)
¬ľ c. tomato sauce
2 T. butter

Stir into and mix well:

3 c. white flour
1 pkg. yeast
3 T. sugar
1 t. salt

Add and knead:
3 ¬Ĺ c. ‚Äď 4 c. more flour

Let rise twice and bake in 2 regular size, greased loaf pans at 375 for 10 minutes and 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Divine for grilled cheese sandwiches!

Okay, that’s all. Love y’all. You can thank me now. ūüėČ

Posted in Blessings of Habit, Homemaking, Recipes

You Can’t Fax a Fig

Ficus carica

We have all sorts of electronic substitutes these days. We push a button and things happen, things appear. We can bank on-line. We can borrow a book through the Kindle service. We can send an e-mail.

But it’s not real money, not a real book, and not a real letter. We’ve trained ourselves to accept the electronic substitute and taught ourselves to believe it costs us less, although usually it does not. Not if we think about all the real costs.

Anyway, I’ve been picking figs, lately, and the only, ONLY, ONLY way to get a fig that is still warm from hanging in the sunshine is to get up out of a chair, go outdoors, walk over to the tree, reach up, grab ahold, and pull a fig off the branch.

And it is worth all that incredible effort. A warm, ripe fig is a soft and squishy confection, what some might call “deliciously juicy”. Softer than a banana, sweeter than a strawberry, not sticky like caramel, yet reminiscent of all three, a fig can only truly be compared to¬†another fig.

Oh yes — worth it.

And the people who like a fig enough to plant the tree, or to get off that chair and go on out there, or to cut the stems off the fruit¬†and get out some canning jars, or to stir some canned fig into a cake batter — they’re worth it, too.

These are the kitchen people. The real butter people. The whole wheat flour, olive oil, honey, and home-grown eggs people. If offered store-bought, um, we really don’t mind fasting that much.

Got figs? Get these recipes!

MYO Fig Bars

2 c. chopped figs, stems removed
3/4 c. water
1/4 c. honey
2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
Boil until clear. Cool.
1/2 c. butter
2 small eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. honey
1/2 tsp. soda
2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
Cream butter and honey. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add flour and soda (sifted together).

Press half of dough into 9×13 pan. Spread fig filling evenly over dough. Roll remaining dough on wax paper and flip onto top of filling. Press gently. Mark bars by cutting through top, slightly. Bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned. Cool. Cut bars. Better than you-know-what.

Fig Bread

3 eggs
2 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. mashed, ripe figs
3/4 c. very fine olive oil
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 c. chopped pecans
Beat sugar into eggs. Add figs and oil. Sift together dry ingredients.  Add to figs, alternately, with buttermilk. Beat well. Fold in pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour in greased and floured loaf pans. Yields 3 loaves.

Have fun!

Posted in Believe it or not!, Blessings of Habit, Health, Homemaking, Photos

Germ Warfare – 3 Plus Recipes!

preparing to blanch
Preparing to Blanch Beet Greens

A friend and I¬†were discussing blanching before freezing when she asked, ‚ÄúDo you have to?‚ÄĚ

In an emergency, many foods you ordinarily would first prepare, you may freeze raw and untreated. Don’t expect them, though, to last over three months because blanching destroys the enzymes that induce ripening. Some vegetables, when not blanched, will continue maturing, though frozen. Unblanched okra, for instance, will become woody over time, in the freezer. So use these foods quickly. The foods must be perfect and unwashed. Freeze soft things before wrapping for protection from freezer flavors.

One friend only shells (does not wash) her surplus field peas and freezes them in one huge plastic bag. They separate easily. She measures, washes, and cooks as usual. She says they taste exactly the same but she does use the unblanched ones first.

I have found that you may treat the following produce this way if it has not been washed: whole tomatoes, whole apples, whole plums, whole carrots, whole peppers, edible pod peas, shelled field peas, and whole okra. All are for cooking only, except plums make good frozen treats. Be sure you remember you haven’t washed them before you use them.

The reasoning behind not washing vegetable¬†before freezing is that they have a natural protective coating that helps ward off drying and if you freeze¬†them wet, they will be impossible to separate for individual use. In the case of beans, this is not a factor, if you will immerse the entire package in warm water to rinse, later. Just think. If it is waxy, don’t wash it. If you want to freeze individually and bag later, it’s okay. Do not freeze anything with bad spots. How will you remove them once frozen? Just think. More info, starting¬†here.

Two foods that you should always blanch and freeze are corn and greens. These two also taste pretty bad when canned, and take a lot of time and heat. One food that even the freezer books say we should not freeze is potatoes. I do not know why, because I have never tried it. I know, frozen potatoes are available in stores, but do they taste good? I’ve never tried them, either! Potatoes are best stored raw or canned.

To clean your kitchen after canning, just roll up the towels you used for covering surfaces, throw them into the washer and wipe the counter tops. You’re done! Then when canned foods are completely cool, remove bands and run the filled jars through the rinse cycle of your dishwasher. This removes the sticky film, from juices leaked in pressure cooking, which molds in the cabinets. These molds can enter the jar when you open it. They also make bad odors in your food storage area and attract bugs.

Now, DRUMROLL PLEASE, the real reason you read this far — The Recipes!

The following recipes come from several requests for instructions for making various sauces to use up excess tomatoes, etc. Also there are a few recipes for foods mentioned this week. Hope you enjoy making, storing, serving, and eating them as much as we do!

Homemade Mustard

1 3/4 c. white vinegar
2 onions chopped fine
1/2 c. mustard seeds
1/4 t. white pepper
2 t. soy sauce
2 T. white sugar
1 t. turmeric

Puree all ingredients in blender. Bring to a boil over low heat in a heavy pan, stirring continuously with a wire whip. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes. Seal in hot jars with hot lids. Place in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Keeps very well.  Yield:  about one pint.

Homemade Catsup (not store bought!)

10 lb. ripe tomatoes
3 onions
2 bell peppers, red or green
1 clove garlic
3/4 c. brown sugar or honey
2‚ÄĚ stick cinnamon
1 t. peppercorns
1 t. whole cloves
1 t. allspice berries
1 t. celery seed
1 c. cider vinegar
1 T. salt (opt.)
2 t. paprika
1/4 t. cayenne

Puree vegetables in blender, OR:  chop, cook, and sieve them.  Bring  to a simmer.  Put whole spices into a bag and add all other ingredients.  Cook very slowly until very thick.  Remove the bag.  Seal in hot jars with hot lids.  Hot water bath for 15 minutes.  Yield:  2 Р3 pints.  This is a good recipe for the crock pot, if you keep adding the juice until all is cooked down.  It is too big for a crock pot at first, but becomes of manageable size eventually.  The actual cooking takes all day on the stove top.

Tomatilla Salsa (A great use for small green tomatoes from dying vines)

5 1/2 c. chopped tomatillas OR green tomatoes
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped jalapenos
(wear gloves and use ventilation!)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. minced cilantro (opt.)
2 t. cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cayenne
1/4 c. lime juice OR 1 g vitamin C tablet

Bring all to a boil in a large pot.¬† Simmer 10 minutes.¬† Seal in hot jars with hot lids.¬† Place in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.¬† Yield:¬† about 2 pints.¬† I cannot over-emphasize the importance of being careful with fresh hot peppers! I have made this using a food grinder, too, and it is much easier on the hands and lungs. You can grind the whole cayennes¬†if you like, and have interesting red¬†flecks in this lovely green condiment. The flavor when raw is sublime, but HOT. After cooking, the natural burning flavors of onion and garlic will have sweetened, though, so do not be alarmed at the raw flavor — just enjoy.

Pico de Gallo Sauce

1 chopped onion
2 chopped jalapenos
3 chopped tomatoes
salt to taste
2 branches chopped cilantro (leaves)

Mix.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.  Serve with chips.  OR:  Boil for 20 minutes, seal in hot jars with hot lids, and place into boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Yield:  about 1 pint.

Pear Preserves

8 c. pears, peeled and chopped
2 c. brown sugar or honey
2 T. butter

Stir pears and sugar over medium heat until greatly reduced and thickened (2 to 4 hours).  Add butter and serve over ice cream.  OR:  Omit butter and seal in hot jars with hot lids.  Place in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Yield:  about 2 pints.  This is another good one for the crock pot.

Very Quick Blackberry Sauce

1 pint frozen blackberries
1 c. sugar
1 c. water
2 T. cornstarch

Place 1/2 c. of the blackberries with other ingredients into small saucepan.  Stir and bring to slow boil, mashing berries to color the sauce.  Simmer until very thick.  Add rest of frozen berries.  Sauce will set very quickly and be cool enough to use immediately, with all berries instantly thawed.  Delicious on cheesecake or pound cake.  This recipe will only work with berries that have been frozen raw and are fairly easy to separate.  Makes about 2 cups.  Serves about nine.  Also, try using 3 T. cornstarch to make a topping for a pie.

Potato Pancakes

1 qt. canned potatoes
1 egg
1/4 c. corn meal
1/4 c. self-rising flour
1/2 chopped onion (opt.)
salt and pepper to taste

Grate potatoes including skins into bowl.¬† Add rest of ingredients.¬† Stir well.¬† Fry in 1/2‚ÄĚ medium-hot oil until well-browned and firm in middle, turning once.¬† Drain on paper towel.¬† Serve hot with honey, if desired.¬† Serves about six.

Never Fail Meringue

1 T. cornstarch
2 T. sugar
1/2 c. water
3 egg whites
6 T. sugar
1/8 t. salt
1/2 t vanilla

This is a little tricky to time perfectly, but worth it to me.  Cook cornstarch, 2 T. sugar, and water over medium heat, stirring, until thick and clear.  At the same time, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add 6 T. sugar, salt, and vanilla, gradually.  Beat until stiff.  Continue beating while slowly adding hot cornstarch mixture.  Beat until stiff.  Apply to pie that has hot filling.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 Р20 minutes.   I like this one because I don’t feel so much as if I’m eating raw egg.

Posted in Blessings of Habit, Health, Homemaking, Photos, Recipes, Scripture

Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes


Fruit Salad

6 c. diced mixed fruits
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. nuts
1 c. coconut
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1/4 c. frozen orange juice concentrate

Mix well and enjoy. Serves about ten.

Overnight Dinner Rolls

2 pkg. dry yeast
2 c. warm water
1/2 c. sugar
6-7 c. flour, divided
2 t. salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. oil

Mix yeast, water, and sugar together. Let rest 5 minutes. Mix 3 c. flour and salt and add yeast mixture to it. Add beaten egg and oil. Add 3 – 4 c. flour to make a stiff dough. Knead. Let rise. Punch down. Shape into 24 rolls and place into well-greased 9×13 pan. Refrigerate, covered, overnight. Allow to warm about 20 minutes before baking at 350 degrees until brown. Yield: about 2 dozen large rolls.

World’s Best Pie Crust

3 c. flour
1 1/4 c. butter, softened
1 egg, well beaten
5 T. water
1 T. vinegar

Cut butter into flour. Combine egg, water, and vinegar. Pour liquids into flour mix, all at once. Stir with spoon or fork until doughy and mixed. Easy to roll and re-roll. Enough for 2, two-crust pies, or 4, one-crust pies.

Winter Squash Pie

1 crust
2 c. cooked, mashed winter squash
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. clove
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. cream

Mix all together, adding cream last. Pour into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Serves 8.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

2- 3 large sweet potatoes
1 t. salt
1/2 to 1 c. milk
1/4 c. butter

Wash, peel, cut up potatoes. Cover with water in deep pan. Add salt. Boil until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. Place in large bowl. Mash or beat with mixer. Add milk and butter. Whip until fluffy. Serve with butter and cinnamon/sugar or honey. Serves 6 – 8.

Go you way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy unto our lord . . . Nehemiah 8:10


Image via Wikipedia

Posted in Blessings of Habit, Good ol' days, Health, Homemaking, Photos, Recipes

Pear Butter

Bumper Crop

Oh, to bring back the days of sweet, crunchy pears! What memories of delicious fruit we would have forever!

We cannot bring them back, but we can prolong those days by helping the harvest last longer, by canning those pears.

If you are coming into the lovely problem of too many pears, here is how we deal with them–mmm!

1. Core and remove stems, but do not peel pears. Remove bad spots. Drop into 1 gallon water with 1 vitamin C tablet crushed in it.
2. Drain pears. Bring to boil in non-reactive pan (stainless steel or enamel) over medium heat with 1/2″ fresh water in covered pan.
3. Allow pears in water to simmer, stirring,  until fruit is soft, adding water if necessary, to prevent scorching.
4. Mash pears or press through colander.
5. Return pulp to pan and season to taste with brown sugar, and if desired, cinnamon.
6. Reheat until simmering and hold at simmering for a few minutes. Keep at simmering, stirring, during entire process. Add water if needed.
7. Meanwhile, estimate number of pint or smaller canning jars you will need to contain all the pear butter. Wash carefully and rinse these jars. Count the same number of canning lids (flats) and heat in small saucepan of water as directed on box. Set aside and keep hot.¬†Be sure to have one screw band for each lid. Lay one or two jars down in another large pan with 2″ water in it. Cover and bring to boil. Bring to boil another covered pan large enough to hold all the jars at once, with water enough to cover all the jars and rack in bottom of pan to keep jars from direct contact with bottom. (This pan should be a bit larger than your largest burner, and at leat 16″ tall, like a spaghetti boiler. The perfect pan is often called a “water bath canner”. If you lack a lid, a pizza pan works fine.)
8. Using jar lifter, carefully remove one jar from boiling water, emptying into boiling pan, and set it upright onto thick towelling.
9. Using canning funnel and long-handled measuring cup, carefully ladle simmering pear sauce into jar, within 1/2″ of top. Wipe rim clean and dry. Remove flat from hot water with tines of fork. Apply flat and screw band to filled jar, using thick towel to protect hands from heat. Use jar lifter to set lidded jar¬†into tall pan of boiling water.
10. Repeat until all sauce is in jars, in boiling water bath. Time boiling from this time, for 15 minutes. Remove jars and set on clean, DRY towelling. Cover with light towel and allow to cool away from drafts. Do not disturb until completely cooled.
11. Remove screw bands from all sealed jars. (Sealed jars will be indented on top.) Place any unsealed jars in refrigerator and use very soon. Place all others in cool, dark place to keep for at least a year and use whenever you miss those crunchy pears!

We use this in place of jam on buttered toast.

Sometimes I only add white sugar and no spices to this recipe and we eat it like applesauce. Sometimes the pears are so sweet, I skip the sugar, too.

It’s all good!

I do hope these directions were clear. I ‘d be happy to answer all questions here. Remember, the only dumb question is the unspoken one! ūüôā