Artichokes/yes, they are good to eat!

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Long before there were artichoke hearts offered in salads and on pizzas and in your favorite Italian pasta dishes, my sister shared her love of this vegetable with us. While visiting from California she prepared a dinner for us. You can imagine the look on our faces when she poured these out on the counter and said “we’re having these artichokes for dinner”. We didn’t want to dampen her enthusiasm but we wondered how on earth we were going to eat these strange things. It hurt your hand when you tried to pick it up.  Now this vegetable looks like a sweet green flower after being boiled for 45 minutes but before that it looked something like a pine cone. It can be prickly to touch so that is why you cut about a half inch off each leaf, cut the bottom so it can stand flat and cut an inch or so off the top. After washing it you boil it for forty five minutes with a few cloves of garlic, a bay leaf or two and some salt and pepper.

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Pull off each leaf and dip it in some melted butter with seasoned salt and a dash of cayenne if you please. Turn it upside down and pull between your front teeth. The little bit of artichoke with the melted butter is marvelous. You do this until all the big leaves are gone then rub off the tiny needle like substance left (the choke) to enjoy the best part of all, the artichoke heart. You can really enjoy the large pieces left dipped in your seasoned butter.

A Country Tea Room in the Smoky Mountains

Having a cabin in the woods has given us the opportunity to explore many different areas of the Smoky Mountains. Last weekend my daughter, Heather, and my friend, Barbara Johnson,  and I took off down many winding and curvy back roads in search of a tea room we heard of.  We went past an old antebellum white home on the left  and a field on the right where seven buffalo were grazing. We found an Irish Pub at the foot of a mountain and an area where real craftsmen were working at their trade. At one point we saw an impressive golf course that is open to the public if anyone is lucky enough to find it. With spring in the air, the trees are budding and the fields are filled with little wild flowers. Oh, and yes, we did find the Tea Room. It’s called The Wild Plum Tea Room. You feel like you’ve stepped back in time thanks to all the antique furnishings and little tea pots with cups and saucers around you. We sat at a cozy little table and were handed our menus. To our surprise and delight, even as country as this restaurant felt, the food choices were very classic. And when our lunches were served everything was superb. From the wild plum preserves served with ginger muffins as an appetizer, to the perfectly grilled tuna nestled on a bed of sautéed spinach, the experience was excellent. Plum tea is offered hot or cold with your meal and, for a delightful finishing touch, many fancy desserts were available. So, next time you are “in the area” be sure to search out this peaceful and delicious Tea Room. 

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A no mayonnaise slaw

When I first moved south and became a member of the Crowley clan I was introduced to tailgating at the University of Georgia’s football games. Althrough I can’t tell you much about what’s going on on the football field, I can tell you how tasty the dishes were that my sister in law fixed. This slaw recipe is great with barbecue but also good on cold cut sandwiches. To speed up the process you can purchase the cabbage in bags already cut up.

A Special Kind Of Love

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 You read and hear about true love all the time. For some, love comes quickly, for others it takes time. I’ve had the opportunity over the years to witness a special kind of  love and watch it grow. I’ve seen them argue over little things and seen how different they are in personality. But their bond will never be broken. You see, you don’t have to be born to the same mother or father to love as sisters do. One of my first special memories of them was seeing them be pulled in a little red wagon to an outside symphony concert. One with brown hair, the other blonde. One in pigtails, the other in a ponytail. Both wearing shorts because it was summer. Through the years the family has always seen to it that they  support each other. One would play softball while the other chose cheerleading, not on the same team or even the same school, but each enjoyed watching the other perfect her talent. They helped each other get ready for proms and date nights. They started out in bunk beds together and then eventually they each had their own bedrooms in different colors and styles. But one thing they always had in common was cooking, and the house they grew up in always smelled delectable with hints of cinnamon or garlic, depending on the recipe, lingering in the air. They were the maid or matron of honor in each other’s weddings recently. Both chose many special ways to celebrate their heritage and keep family members past and present in their details. To this day they still share recipes and I’ve chosen one from each to share.

The recipe that follows is from Jessica Brevard Osborne. Now that she has been married to Colin for about 3 months, she has been trying many new recipes and wanted to share this one.

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Alexis Atkinson Smith has chosen one of her favorite old recipes passed down from her maternal grandmother.

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Kumquats/Small Oranges?

IMG_7732When my friend, Anne Spicer Underwood, moved to Florida last year, she had no idea she had a kumquat tree. This year all these little orange balls have appeared. Well, after finding out they are edible fruits we engaged into the Internet to find out what to do with them. Since they come from Chinese there are several recipes like Duck a L’Orange, but we don’t cook with duck very much so we kept looking. We found recipes galore. Jellies, jams, salsas, marmalade just to mention a few. And to eat them straight off the tree is good too. The peel is sweet and thinner than an orange. We have decided the best way is to make them into a sauce with a little sugar and water and red peppers 🌶 for the spicy lovers and serve it with meats. Here’s a great recipe for a pork roast.

But remember it makes a great sauce on ice cream and instead of making a keylime pie, next time try fixing a kumquat pie!!

 

 

 

 

Holiday Taco Salad/ oops

IMG_7707.PNGDuring one of our holidays my friend, Jill Bright and I decided to make our taco salad more festive. We cut the pretty green lettuce in small pieces, chopped the brilliant red tomatoes and sweet onions.  Had bowls of black olives and ripe avocados with lots of fancy shredded cheddar cheese. We had both hot and mild salas on hand. Mexican bowls to serve it in and we were ready for a lovely evening with family and friends. Set the salad with all it’s choice toppings by the fresh tortillas chips and all the cokes you could drink.  One thing was lacking!!  Sour cream!!  So as we got it out, we thought, why not color one red and one green for more holiday fun!!  Oh boy, was that a mistake. Instead of increasing people’s appetite that about ruined the evening!! The look of that sour cream made our stomachs do a flip!!  We had to remove it and go buy more sour cream right away and serve it as it comes-white!!  Well we learned our lesson, never mess with something that is already good the way it is. 🥑🌶

Summer Days/Fresh French Fries

I remember one sunny summer afternoon in 1960 something, I was looking for something to do when I came across a strange piece of equipment I soon figured out was a French fry cutter. You put a potato in one end and push down real bad and it pushes the potato through tiny little knives and out came potato strips. With a little more looking my sister and I found an electric fryer. So you can imagine how excited we were to be making our own French fries!! In fact we were so proud of ourselves we told the whole neighborhood. Day after day we fried up batches of those potatoes and the back door to that kitchen on Dunkle Road became a revolving door. The Porters, Diehls, Fredricks and Wardells just to mention a few didn’t have to wait for Pumpkin Show that year to enjoy delicious hot fries!! Mother said that was the summer she couldn’t keep potatoes or ketchup in the house. 🥔🥔