Archive for October, 2010

So simple and yet so delicious.  Nothing says Fall like the wonderful taste and aroma of fresh Apple Cider Fritters.  For my little ones, they will wake Halloween Morning to this delicious beginning to their breakfast treat.

Apple Cider Fritters

2 pie apples, peeled & sliced. (Granny Smith, Gala, Jonathan)

1 cups flour

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 egg

3/4 cup apple cider

1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients except apples in bowl, mix well.  Add apples and stir to coat well, drop one slice at time in hot oil.  Let brown and flip, brown on other side.  Remove from oil and place on paper towel, while still warm, roll in white table sugar.


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This is a wild persimmon tree that showed up at my backdoor one summer, literally. What made this tree special is that it came during a time when we were low in funds, struggling with putting food on table and that fall she offered us a blessing of her abundance and the children a treat during the seeming dreary holiday season where food much less presents were questionable. She grew fast, produced several offspring’s and now I have a little grove of wild persimmons to enjoy.

They sure arn’t pretty fruits are they? But when ripe they are very flavorful.  My favorite method of preserving them is simply to dehydrate or “candy” them before dehydrating. To candy I use 1 cup sugar, 1 cup corn syrup to 2 cups water and peel, slice the fruit and let fruit sit in hot syrup for 30 minutes before putting on dehydrator.  Persimmon pudding and jams are also delicious.

Some wonder why I bother to year after year gather her fruits and even plant her seeds to grow saplings to share with others.  To me, it just feels the right thing to do.

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I seem to be on a clean and de-clutter streak.  During a mission to find printable seed envelopes to use for a party favor, I ran across these wonderful printable embroidery floss (or thread in general) holders.  Just print out on heavy card stock, cut V’s and a slit and you are easily organized.  There is even space to print the thread batch numbers.

If you are interested, you can find this set which is called “Ornate” and a second set called “Whimsical”  here.


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One thing about living in the South, you get plenty of pecans and I happen to be a huge fan of butter pecans.  This recipe is extremely easy and so delicate yet flavorful.  I actually acquired this cake recipe from Taste of  Home and it’s been the best I have found.

Butter Pecan Cake/Cupcakes

2 2/3 cups chopped pecans

1 1/4 cup butter, softened and divided

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup milk

Place pecans and 1/4 cup butter in baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until toasted, stir frequently and set aside.

In large bowl, cream sugar and remaining butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at time beating well after each addition.  Stir in vanilla.  Combine your flour, baking powder and salt, add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beat well after each addition.  Stir in 1 1/3 cups toasted pecans.

Pour into greased/floured cake pan or into lined cupcake tins.  Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks, let it cool completely.

Browned Butter Frosting

6 tbsp butter (unsalted)

3 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3-4 tbsp milk

Melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat. Continue cooking until it just starts to turn golden (4-6 minutes), stir constantly to keep from burning.  Butter will foam and bubble when near ready.  Remove from heat and cool completely.

Combine browned butter, sugar, vanilla in small bowl and beat at medium speed while gradually adding milk until desired consistency reached.  (Thicker less milk, thinner more milk).  Spread on cooled cake.

**For a butter pecan frosting you can add the leftover butter from the pecans into the frosting also.**

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To make your own detergent for washing dishes, which is good for you, the environment and your wallets, you need three simple ingredients.

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent. (20 oz batch)

1 cup borax

1 cup baking soda

1/2 cup kosher salt

Pour borax, baking soda and salt into plastic container, secure lid and shake to mix.

**If you want fragrant detergent, add two-three drops of your favorite essential oil.  Lemon grass, rosemary, mint, citrus, lavender, rose, sandlewood…your options are limitless.**

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This is the results from the first day of decorating for Halloween.  With all my traditional decorations shoved in back of the walk in closet due to current home improvement project materials. I had to make due with dollar stores and odd and end craft supplies.  I plan to uncover the rest this week and finish more of the yard.  My daughter insisted nothing to spooky, so she made her “Friendly Halloween Tree” just for her, I will be putting candy in each of the little baskets for the children to select and take home.

The Coffin is actually a part of a old series of modular bookcases repainted.  I will be putting burlap inside and a fake skeleton along with a strobe light.  On top rests one of many gravestones that need to be put on sticks and “planted”.

I love the “Eye See You” tree, the eyes were from some $1.00 window clings. Double-sided tape and some glow in dark gloss paint illuminates them after dark, as do the spider webs and the spider egg sacks hanging from the over the coffin.

I absolutely love the kids pumpkins this year. I expected the traditional faces to be wanted to be put on them and think they chose wonderful designs.  The seeds of course are in oven to be roasted and salted for snacks later.

I wish I had more time to do more, make more, create more…oh well.  Time to turn focus on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  After the caramel apples, Halloween cupcakes, cookies, spooky party foods and parties before trick-or-treating that is.

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This is Hocus and if cats have truly 9 lives, she’s used up about 6 of her’s already in her short lifetime. But she’s determined and holds a huge desire for life, so her and I keep fighting, so far she’s won the battle and her odds improve everyday.

Hocus was found under my house in a old ventilation tube wedged between floorboards and a plastic covering.  After listening to her cries for a couple nights I finally ripped up my floor to reach her.  Even with my best attempt I could not manage to reach her and she was just a little kitten and very dehydrated and emancipated, not to mention she was by all means a wild kitten.  Yet when I called her she managed to climb up the insulation and get into enough range I could grasp the fur of her neck and pull her to safety.  She was so cold I really didn’t think she would survive the night, and to young to feed herself.  She spent the first night of her life tucked under my shirt for warmth, but being syringe fed was no issue, she would suck the food out of syringe faster then I could lower the plunger.

I wish I could say her story ended there for her troubles but they don’t.  Twice I found her laying near dead, eyes set in her safety cage.  Both times she refused to give up and with many hot blankets and heating pad nights later, she rebounded back into her energetic self.  She went through a period where she was digesting no food given her, the vet felt she would never put on weight and keep declining. Suggested the best thing for her was to be put down.  But she was so full of life and determination I couldn’t bring myself to not give her a chance.  For two weeks I created homemade formulas using eggs, corn syrup, vitamins and pumpkin puree.  She willingly ate it, it willingly agreed with her and seemed to correct whatever the digestive issue was as she’s back now on hard kitten food without issue.

She is a tiny thing, far smaller then she should be for her age, if she ever grows past the size of a 6 month old cat I’ll be shocked, but she is determined to survive.  Together her and I are achieving that goal and each day she grows stronger and the struggles lesser.  For now, she’s content in seeing how much trouble she can find and exploring everything, when she’s not planted on my lap getting her purr on that is.

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New Additions

Got a way to early wake up call from my son announcing that he heard kittens mewing. Sure enough, our outside cat decided to sneak in last night and have her kittens in the bottom drawer of his dresser.   Got her and them settled in and now I need to wash up the extra bedding I had stored there.

Not sure if the pictures display it well enough, but these kittens have the oddest coloration. They have pure black faces and the rest of their body is a gray and tan “marble”.

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With the leaves falling and the cooler (okay not so scalding hot and humid) days allowing me to open windows I had a craving for warm, thick and soothing bean soup.  To me bean soup this time of year is like a gentle hug from a loved one,  it seems right and feels right. As it is very easy to make and can be done in a crockpot overnight, it should in my view be a staple in every household.  Of course it’s also served best with hot apple cider and a big slice of fresh homemade bread slathered in butter.

Bean Soup

1 sm bag small navy beans

4 smoked ham hocks (or leftover ham)

1 cup carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, chopped

4 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp black pepper

salt to taste

(I like to add a pinch of thyme and sage to mine, but you don’t need to.)

Place beans in crock pot with ham hocks, cover with water.  Turn your crock pot on high and let heat, reduce to low and let simmer overnight.  In morning remove the hocks (they will probably fall apart) onto a pan, separate meat from skin and bones, return meat back into the soup and a little skin to continue to offer flavor, discard the bones.  Add your chopped vegetables and spices.  Return crock pot to high and let cook for an additional 2 or more hours until carrots are tender.  If you wish to speed up this process you can used pre-canned carrots.

Ladle into bowls and serve with hot homemade bread or rolls and a bowl of fresh applesauce.  Delicious!

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They look nothing like a pretty Strawberry Shortcake cookie cutter which were used to cut them out.  Fingerprints adorn the frosting, more eaten then spread on the cookies.  The sprinkles uneven and in heavy globs in places…but they are cherished.  Not for the beauty of them, or the perfection, but for the time they offered a mother and daughter to share a moment of bonding, of memories, in the process of their creation.

Sugar Cookies

1/2 cups butter, softened

2 cups white sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla to butter mixture.  Slowly stir in flour and baking powder.  Cover and chill at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees while rolling out dough on floured surface until 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick.  Cut into desired shapes and place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6-8 minutes, remove and cool completely.

Homemade Bakery Frosting

2 cups shortening

1/2 cup powdered nondairy creamer

1 tsp almond extract

1 pkg (32 oz) confectioner’s sugar

1/2 – 3/4 cup water

Food coloring

Flavoring extracts (cherry, strawberry, orange, lemon, mint..etc)

In large bowl, beat shortening, creamer and extract until smooth.  Beat in confectioner’s sugar and add enough water until desired consistency reached.  Add food coloring and flavoring if desired.

Store in refrigerator for up to 3 months and bring to room temperature before spreading.

Yield: 8 cups.


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