Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Withers

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thankful Mondays Returns - Part 4

Thankful Mondays Returns - Part 4

Today I’m thankful for teachers, mentors, and the difference makers in our lives.  And I’m not just talking about the teachers you have in school - though I did have some wonderful teachers.  Mr. Tommy Sykes I’m looking at you.  You’re not supposed to have favorites, but you’re still mine.  He was the one that really made history fun for me and sparked a lifelong love of learning about all things historical.  Ms. Gwendolyn Pearson who finally in the 12th grade made higher math make sense.  And you had a hysterical dry wit that would make me laugh till I cried.  Mr. Randy Whitbeck you were an awesome math teacher who made math make sense and your Bible lessons were always so on point.  Mr. Michael Shelton you gave us the freedom to write and read what interested us.  And you didn’t chastise me for reading Byron, bless your heart.  Last but certainly not least Mrs. Norris, you encouraged a shy young girl that her art really was good and to keep at it because it made me happy and feel accomplished, thank you.  

Then there are the mentors that were there for me outside of school.  Mr. Buddy Eaton, you in your quiet accepting way always made me feel like I got it.  Just sitting in your barn was a college course in life, horses, and being a good person.  I’ll never forget those days sitting on an upturned bucket just soaking it all in.  Your way is the way I lope circles to this day.  Nannette Parkinson Cooper, you were my other momma, the older sister I never had, and the friend I could talk to about anything.  You let me ride your good horses, crash at your house, ride in your truck, and hauled my crazy ass horse.  You and Randy were such a huge part of my life.  I learned so much from yall, and I miss you so much sometimes.  I love ya lady.  And Mrs. Debbie Huffman.  Goodness gracious the stories we could tell about 4-H.  You introduced me to classic literature, classic movies, and classic cooking.  My vocabulary is certainly richer because of you and my heart if fuller.  Thank you so much for taking me into your home and your family.  I love you lady, you’re the absolute best.  

The last category are the difference makers.  These are the people that shape and form who you are.  The first people on this list are my Mom and Dad.  They are some of the hardest working people I know who have always supported me in whatever crazy endeavor I wanted to get into. They have also taught me so much about life, money, creativity, family, priorities, and love.  The next on that list is the person yall get sick of hearing about, my MaPep, my great-grandmother.  She helped make me who I am.  Period.  Some people say WWJD, I saw WWED, what would Ethel do?  I’ll also thank my hubby, JJ for being probably one of the biggest influences on my adult life.  You came along at just the right time and have given me so much.  My life would not be the same without you and your love.  And probably the last person I’m going to put on this list is Mrs. Lesli Bacon McCully.  She was my best friend all through school and even though we may not talk as much as we should and only see each other every couple of years she was my rock and my sanity through school.  Only she saw my true feelings sometimes and she still loved me because of it.  You’re a rock star lady, love ya.

Without these people I wouldn’t be who I am and I sure wouldn’t have made it this far.  Thank you, all of you and I just pulled a few people.  I could write a novel about the people I need to thank for what they’ve done in my life.  Probably multiple novels.  We all have people that play a part in our life that without them we would not be where we are today.  So just because I may have left you off the list doesn’t mean I don’t love ya and thank you because I do.  


Monday, November 16, 2015

Thankful Mondays Returns - Part 3

A note, I wrote entries 1-4 for this series the first Monday in November.  I have a tendency to do that for the blog, to write several entries at one time and release them throughout the month.  Who could have guessed that the attack on Paris would happen Friday night.  A chill went through me as I remembered what I had written three weeks ago and had scheduled to post for today.   There is no telling what will come out of this conflict in the days to come.  My thoughts and prayers are with Paris as well as the rest of Europe and the Middle East.

Another week, another Thankful Monday post.  You can view the prior two weeks posts HERE and HERE.  If you’d like to read the posts from the first series you can do that HERE.  

Today I am thankful for my country.  Yes, I’m thankful to be an American.  

America is not perfect.  It has so many problems.  Our school system is behind that of other industrialized nations.  There is a huge gap between the have a have nots.  Our veterans are blatantly ignored after returning from war.  There is a moral divide in the country growing by the day.  People of all faiths are persecuted for following their beliefs.  And the struggle to just get by is more than some people can handle.  


It can always be so much worse.  

Israel, Iraq, Afganastan, Pakistan- all live with a constant fear of bombings -  
Nigeria - Christians live in fear that they will be drug from their homes and executed by radical Muslims.
Central African Republic - children are recruited to be soldiers at machete point.  
China - thousands of children live in orphanages, with no love and little care, waiting for a parent that loves them.
Central America - Thousands flee the horrific gang violence every year where people are killed and beheaded in the streets.  

I don’t know about you but I go to bed most nights knowing my home is not going to be bombed.  I won’t be drug from my home and killed.  My child will not be recruited to a militant army, and places like the Palmer Home exist to take care of kids with no other family.  I know that my lights will work in the morning, the water will flow and be hot, and that my fridge is overflowing with food.  My bank account may not be what I want, but at least I have enough.  

America is not perfect.  Our lives as Americans are not perfect.  But, the alternative is definitely not what I want.  I’m thankful I was born here.  I’m thankful I was given the opportunity to live a life where I’m burdened by what I’m going to cook for supper instead of not having anything to cook for supper.  I watched a documentary a few weeks ago about child drug addicts in Afghanistan.  It will absolutely break your heart that families buy opium to drug their children so they’re not hungry.   We are a blessed nation.  We are a blessed people.  Thank you God for your mercy.  Thank you God for this nation.   

I'm going to try and keep this in mind the next time I gripe about my drive to work, work itself, or the fact that I'm picking up markers and Lego blocks for the millionth time. My life is blessed even at it's very worst. I'm a blessed person even when I feel like my life sucks. Perspective is hard to keep at the best of times, but with everything going on in our world I'm going to try and maintain it as long as I can in this season.

I hope you've had a great start to your week, and it continues to be a great one. 
Good night my lovelies!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Happy Sunday!

Happy Sunday everyone!  I apologize for the sound quality and my not looking so hot but I just wanted to share.  This is an ancient keyboard and it's doing it's best on pipe organ setting.  Why in the world did I ever quit keeping up with my piano?  I used to be able to play much better than this but I'm already better than I was a few weeks ago. I'm getting there but the learning curve with no teacher to help is pretty steep.  But I'm happy playing again and that's saying something.  Will I get up the gumption to play in church, maybe.  If I do it will be to start with a prelude or an offertory hymn.  Time will tell.  Hope everyone had a great day!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Foodie Fridays - Brunswick Stew

Happy Friday!  And not only a happy Friday but a Foodie Friday!  It's been forever since I shared a recipe, but this came out so good and since it's supposed to be absolutely frigid (at least by Mississippi standards) I thought I would share.  So would you like a story and a recipe?  Sure you do. =)

As it goes sometimes in my life my hubby and I were talking Friday night during my birthday supper about food of all things.  He looked at me and said, “You know what I have a craving for?”
“I have no idea.”  And with him you really have no idea.  He’s a well traveled truck driver that loves all kinds of food so for him it could be anything from borracho beans to Italian cream cake.  

“Brunswick stew.”  was his reply.  

Now Brunswick stew for me churns up a whole host of memories as a child.  My daddy was and still is a volunteer firefighter and I can remember when our fire department in Montpelier was built.  I can’t remember the actual date, but I do remember it’s construction.  Mr. Red was our first fire chief.  It takes a lot of money to outfit a brand new fire station, but thankfully our little community was well up to the task.  We had fish fries, sold tickets for give-a-ways, set up a booth at the Prairie Arts Festival in West Point in August and sold hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches with slaw, and more potato salad than should be legal.  Every fall we also had a Brunswick stew cooking.  

For weeks there would be prep work.  Local grocery stores would give us bags of potatoes, those huge institutional cans of vegetables, sacks of onions, and the wives would scour the sale papers for cheap meat, and three for $5 cases of drinks.  The work would start Friday afternoon with meat being boiled down and pulled off the bone along with all the mountains of potatoes we would peel.  Mine and another boy’s picture was in the Daily Times Leader one year - a picture of us peeling what seemed like a mountain of potatoes.  Onions would be chopped, propane tanks filled, and big black antique wash-pots checked for cracks.  Because to make real, true, Brunswick stew it needs to be made in a big, black cast iron wash pot.  These pots have been passed down through families, scavenged from antique stores, and traded through local classified papers.  At 20, 50, or 75 gallon capacity the pots were originally used to heat water for washing clothes, and now work great to make gallons of stew to sell for fundraisers.  

This history of Brunswick stew if fraught with legend and dispute.  Did it originate in Brunswick, Virginia or Brunswick, Georgia?  Or did the Indians invent it all along.  It even made it into the New York Times!  You can read that article HERE.  History is clear that it started as a hunter’s stew using what had been harvested in a day's hunt along with fresh and put up vegetables from the garden.  The stew can contain wild game such as deer or squirrel and also chicken, beef, or pork.  The vegetables used vary by region - butter beans, corn, celery, onion, potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas, tomatoes, and I’ve even seen some recipes using okra.  There’s also a divide when it comes to thickness.  Some make their stew so thick the paddle (yes you use a boat paddle to stir the stew) will stand up, that’s how you know it’s done.  Then there’s the tradition to make it more as a traditional soupy thick stew where each vegetable maintains it’s individuality.  People even have differing opinions on whether it’s served with cornbread, crackers, or white loaf bread.  Each region has its own tradition of what Brunswick stew is to them.  As I started trying to find a recipe Saturday afternoon it became apparent I had two problems.  

  1. My cook books all had recipes to make stew to feed a 100 people or more.  
  2. The recipes online that purported to be “Southern” all had BBQ sauce in them.  Sacrilege.

So, I had to improvise.  I used the basic ingredients in my books, the one recipe online that looked somewhat authentic, and my memory.  I’ve never cooked Brunswick stew.  It holds a place in my heart like my Great-Grandmother’s coconut cake.  What I make is never going to be as good as what I remember.  I finally made a coconut layer cake.  I might as well tackle this stew.  One day I’ll make it on the stove in one of my cast iron dutch ovens, but I thought this would be the perfect thing to make in the crockpot since this soup really needs to cook a long time for all the flavors to combine together and part of the character of the soup is that long, slowl cooked taste.  
The hubby gave it two thumbs up by the way.  It needed more chicken and the second can of tomatoes for me, but for a first try it turned out pretty darn good!  
The only thing that’s a little work to this stew is the meat cooking.  But I’ll give you some ideas to get around that.  If you like this please let me know!  I’m always trying to improve my recipes and would love to hear if you like this, hated it, whatever.  
You will need a larger crockpot for this, or you can make it on the stove, but I would cook it at least 4 hours.  See why I just threw it in the crockpot?  
On with the recipe!

Southern Brunswick Stew

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1 lb beef stew mean - cheaper the better could also use a small cheap roast
1 12 oz can diced tomatoes - double if you like a lot of tomatoes in your stew
1 14 oz can white creamed corn
1 15 oz can whole kernel corn
1 14 oz can green beans
1 27 oz can green butter beans
1 large onion chopped
5 or 6 red new potatoes diced into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
salt & pepper to taste
4 cups beef broth or water or reserved cooking liquid from cooking meat

1 beef and 1 chicken bullion cube
onion powder
garlic powder

You'll need shredded meat for Brunswick stew so I boiled my chicken and stew meat together with enough water to cover and then some along with a chicken and beef bullion cube, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder until the meat would fall apart.  I reserved the cooking liquid and had about 4 cups.

If you're busy or don't want to boil the meat, just grab two rotisserie chickens from the deli and pull them off the bone.  

After that it's just a matter of opening all the cans and dumping everything into the crockpot and giving it a good stir.  If you don't have enough liquid just add some water.  I cooked mine on low for about 8 hours.  I served mine with cornbread, but I'll let you decide what you like best.  

Have a great weekend my lovelies!