Category Archives: Recipes

Great recipes we’ve tried and loved.

Sweetness by Christy Jordan – A Sweet Southern Dessert Cookbook

Sweetness

by Christy Jordan
Date of Publication: November 7, 2016
  I received a time-limited electronic copy of this cookbook for evaluation and review. This review contains affiliate links.

I enjoyed reading this cookbook as much as the recipes. It was full of inspirational tidbits, stories, and reminiscing. I loved the story of how “Old Scrap Iron” got her name. There are lots of recounted memories from times go by of older generations that I just really loved reading. There was lots of true wisdom there and a lot of times I found myself laughing, and it brought back fond memories of my own. It’s definitely Southern, and I think Southern born and raised readers will especially enjoy the way this book often evokes memories of a time when families and people were closer.

The recipes are all about sweets, with some punches, fruit drinks, and Southern Sweet tea added. The Southern Sweet tea recipe was the only one I didn’t care for. We just make ours differently, never letting the tea actually boil keeps the bitterness down and we DO pour ours over sugar when it is still warm, so the sugar dissolves well. Plus we use 2-3 times the amount of tea. We like our Southern Sweet Tea so it can about get up and walk by itself.

I love that she included very traditionally Southern recipes like Hummingbird Cake, Coca-Cola cake, Divinity, and various chess pies. There are icing recipes galore, and they are good, and many I recognized as being recipes that I learned from my own mother. My favorite new recipes though involved some of the cake mix recipes that were included. I always stock up on cake mixes during sales, and making cookies with them will give me another way to use them up before they expire, so I really appreciated those- and they are excellent; I’d never have known they were made from a cake mix.

The recipes are all centered around common pantry items and are very affordable. Almost all are very simple and make very little mess. They are practical, and good, and pleasing to the Southern palate. They are NOT gourmet, or fussy, and they are full-calorie.

I will pick a hard copy of this book up when it comes out. The pictures are nice, but this is a cookbook I’d like to keep a copy of in my ‘sweets’ cabinet. The icings are great- really with the collection in this cookbook, there’s no reason anyone should ever buy another can of icing again.

 

5 out of 5 stars


Freebies Round-up & Fun stuff

Chick's Candy Store, Pitt Street, New York by Walter Rosemblum 1938

A 1938 Photo by Walter Rosenblum “Chick’s Candy Store.” It was taken on Pitt St., In NYC, NY.

Free Nivea lotion samples

Recipe! Homemade Taco Seasoning

Nutrish for cats catfood sample

Replens Vaginal Moisturizer Sample

International Coffee- Win a tumbler

Suave Natural Infusions Sample (I like the way this smells – it’s the best Suave yet, in my opinion.)

Free 1 year Martha Stewart Living Magazine Subscription

Free 26 weeks Wall Street Journal (Free coupons on Saturday)

Free 1 year Golf Digest

Various Turkey Hill Coupons – Tea & Ice Cream

Proctor and Gamble Sample Box – sign up for several free samples once per quarter

Free Neti pot

Enter to Win a Diamond Candles $100 Giveway

Free Beginner’s Photoshop Class from Adobe

From HGTV, a new Youtube Channel, Homemade All sorts of misc. content for DYI.

A few tips on How-to Cook Better Rice from Scratch

Many people just struggle with rice, and turn to convenience rice products, which supposedly save time and are easy. However, I often wonder why these EVEN exist? They are expensive, and I never had one that didn’t just …suck.

GOOD RICE IS EASY. It is. It doesn’t take that much time, and it doesn’t take a lot of prep. If your rice is less than par, I think you’re just missing some little tidbit of knowledge in making it. I make great rice, and here’s what I can tell you about it.

I don’t much care for rice in thin bags. Mahatma long grain rice and many other brands come in thin bags. If you use them right away, you’ll be ok, but the plastic is so thin that tiny little bugs can get all in there if you store than anywhere but the freezer for an extended period of time.

In my opinion, the best rice to buy for most use is Par Excellence Long Grain rice. The bag is nice and thick, insect critters never seem to grow or get in it when you store it, and I’ve never had trouble with it sticking. It’s consistently good. I buy mine in 10 pound bags at Sam’s, for well less than $.80 pound. Once you get adept at cooking rice from scratch, you’ll come to enjoy how versatile and easy on the budget it really is.

Par Excellence Rice

Here’s how to make good basic rice- Remember, 1 to 2. For every cup of rice, you need 2 cups of liquid. You really don’t need anything fancy to cook it in either, just a good saucepan will do. I like to use a heavy stainless steel 1.5 quart saucepan. A thin, cheap pan could cause some rice to burn a bit on the bottom, which will mess up the entire pan. I like a triple clad bottom. It is sad to see so many young women think that they cannot cook, when really they just don’t know how the value of good cookware.

This is the exact pan that I use. I have had mine since 2009 and it still looks and cooks like new:


Put your rice and your water, or stock, in a good saucepan, bring it to a full boil, then turn it down on low and cover it. You know, I’ve lost most of my lids, so I usually just stick a stainless cake pan on top of my saucepan. It works. If you have a lid that has a vent, CLOSE IT. Just cover it up and leave it. In 20 minutes, it’ll be ready. This is 20 minutes after you cover it. Don’t mess with it before then. Set a timer, and concentrate on something else. When it’s ready, fluff it with a fork.

If you are going to make fried rice with it, put it in the fridge. Fried rice is SO much better when rice has been cooked, then chilled. I’m not sure why, but it won’t clump as easily, and it’s less likely to get sticky.

Restaurant style Mexican rice is not hard either, but there’s some special tricks to it. For starters, using the same sort of saucepan, add about 1-2 tablespoons of oil along with your rice. On med heat, stir your rice for about 3 minutes, or until it starts to tan and lightly brown. Stir it the whole time so that none burns. When you start seeing it get to that lightly toasted stage, THEN add your water or stock.

Here’s my basic recipe- I’ll update it with a picture the next time I make it.

Mexican Restaurant Rice

2 tbsp cooking oil
2 cups long grain rice
4 cups water
2 cubes Maggi pollo con tomatoe or chicken with tomato(You find this in the Mexican section of the grocery store, or sometimes close to the soups and bullion cubes.)
2 tablespoons of ketchup

In a saucepan, heat oil and rice over medium heat, stirring constantly until about a third of the rice is toasted and some is light tan. Add water with Maggi cubes dissolved in it, and ketchup. Stir. Turn heat to low and cover pan. After 20 minutes, fluff rice with a fork and serve.
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Note, this taste exactly like the Mexican restaurant’s rice in this area. It does have MSG in it. If you do not want that, use instead chicken stock in place of water and omit the Maggi cubes. You can also use tomato sauce instead of ketchup, if you like.

This, and all rice, freezes well. Just put it in a gallon size freezer bag and freeze it! You can let it thaw in the fridge prior to use, then just warm it and serve. If you make and freeze extra, it can save you prep time.



If you have questions, just let me know, either here or on the Facebook Wiresplice page.

Best Ways to Cook Venison (Deer meat)

My family eats a lot of venison. It’s my son’s favorite, and I’ve come to prefer it in many ways over beef. We all love the cost – it’s a gift from the land.

It’s nutritious and full of iron, and I like not having to participate in the commercial meat industry. I’m a confident cook when it comes to venison now, but there was a time years back when someone gave me my first parcel, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

I find it is best to just consider it to be a lot like beef for cooking purposes. I think it’s important to remember that while it is often great in beef recipes, it is NOT beef. It has it’s own taste. I think when we first starting eating it, we were so used to beef that it seemed like it tasted ‘off.’ It wasn’t bad, but it was new, and ‘the new’ seemed ‘off.’ Our young son loved it though – he didn’t like beef that much, yet he just adored deer steaks. I soon realized that I would not eat a pork cutlet and expect it to taste JUST like beef, so I shouldn’t expect venison to taste like something it wasn’t either – but it is similar, and it cooks much the same.

The one big difference that matters to both processing and cooking, is that unlike beef fat, deer fat is not good. Venison is a naturally lean tasty meat, and should be cut that way. Unlike beef, which is great when well-marbled, I always trim off any fat I see on venison. Deer fat is not good.

I see a lot of recipes that are supposed to help cut down on the ‘gamey’ taste of the meat. Personally, I don’t find that to ever be an issue if the meat is well killed and processed. If the shot is clean, and the deer dies quickly, and it is field dressed properly and processed fast, there is not any strange taste at all – it’s a LOT like beef. If you have your meat processed by someone else, make sure you get your OWN deer back – else you don’t know what you’re getting. We’ve actually been finding that meat that I process here at home is the best of all.

One of my favorite things to do with deer meat is to make cubed steaks for steak and gravy, or steak biscuits. It is SO much better than beef for this, because it’s lean, and doesn’t have all the gristle from connective tissue. I cut some tenderloin or backstrap meat into 1-2inch pieces and pound them flat with the meat mallot, flip them, and pound them again. That’s your cubed steaks. Then I just dredge them in flour and a bit of Montreal steak seasoning and fry them up. It’s a delicious breakfast meat.


It’s great in chili and stews. This was what we used to mainly do with it, before we really grew to appreciate it and use it in other dishes. Sometimes I grind it for chili, sometimes I don’t- if you slow cook it, stew meat is fine in a chili. Ground venison makes good burrito filler too when fried with some minced onion, chili powder and cumin added in.

A basic hunter stew is another crock pot favorite too – I dredge stew meat cuts in flour, then lightly brown in a bit of oil, then I put those in the crock pot with a large can of crushed tomatoes, a can of water, a beef bullion cube, chopped onion, and about 2 teaspoons of Italian herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. I cook it on high, then turn it down and let it simmer for hours. When the meat is tender, I put in some white potatoes and carrots and cook it some more until tender. I’ve never thrown any out! If I have fresh tomatoes, I substitute 5-6 peeled, chopped ones for the can of crushed tomatoes. They cook down.

Ground deer isn’t the best for burgers because it is too lean, and will crumble. We’ve experimented with it here, and the best burgers EVER are 1/2 deer and 1/2 lamb. Next to that, 1/2 deer meat and 1/2 ground chuck make good burgers. The thing is, you really need some fat from another source to make burgers that won’t crumble and fall apart.

Beef jerky is another big favorite. I always use Alton Brown’s basic recipe, but I’ve been known to add in a teaspoon or two of Louisiana Hot Sauce too. Then I dry it for several hours in my food dehydrator. I would love to say that we preserve meat this way to put up for emergencies, but jerky never lasts more than a day or two.




What I DO NOT do is wrap my deer meat in bacon, or soak it in vinegar, or any of the other weird things that I have had folks say that they do that are supposed to ‘MASK’ a gamey taste or to make it taste ‘better.’ That advice usually comes from people that don’t eat it often, and I wonder if they are getting fresh meat at all. When I talk to seasoned hunters, and others that love it, they all just cook pretty much like I do.

Venison is a great, nutritious meat just the way it is. If yours isn’t, I’d look at changing hunting or processing tactics. The best meat comes from a deer that doesn’t get scared or suffer or ran, and is processed with respect and care.

Making Peanut Brittle – A Halloween Tradition

Chip and I made peanut brittle the first year we were together for Halloween. It was the first time I made it. I was standing there in my witch’s hat stirring it while he watched, and I somehow managed to make some half decent brittle and get a really bad burn. We still laugh about that. It became a family tradition, and every year we still make it around Halloween.

Here’s this year’s batch:

It’s an old candy. I remember we’d sometimes get a tin of it at my dad’s country store, and we’d sell it by the piece. I guess people worried a lot less about germs in those days. Later, it would come in individual blocks, but lately, I never see it at all. It’s very inexpensive to make. Tonight I had everything but peanuts, which were $1.68. I had enough left for Kung Pao chicken next week. 🙂

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Here’s my recipe:

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup Karo ® light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
2 tablespoons salted butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking soda

Grease or butter a cookie sheet. (I use a pizza pan.) Set aside.
In a heavy tall stockpot, over medium heat, bring corn syrup, salt, and water to boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in peanuts. Set candy thermometer in place, and continue cooking. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 300 degrees F (150 degrees C), or until a small amount dropped into very cold water turns hard and makes brittle threads.
Remove from heat; immediately stir in butter and baking soda; pour at once onto cookie sheet. Spread it out on the cookie sheet so that it’s about 1/3-1/2 inch thick. Let cool, then snap candy into pieces.
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Now, some tips. Use a TALL pan. Remember how I said I got burnt that first year? Well, my pan wasn’t tall enough. Sometimes when you add the baking soda, it will foam up for a minute. I had an old recipe then with more baking soda – this particular recipe shouldn’t foam more than 3 inches – but just in case you get the measurement wrong, use a tall pan. You don’t want to get burnt with this stuff – it is hot and sticks to you and even a little makes a bad burn. It’s safe to make if you just make sure your pan is a TALL one. I use a stockpot.

It makes pretty fast, so be prepared for that – have your butter and baking soda READY once you hit right at your 300 degrees. The color will have started to change from clear to light tan at this stage, and you MIGHT start seeing what looks like fine hairs or threads when you pick your spoon up. Get it OFF the heat and move fast. I have my butter and baking soda in a little cup together so I can dump them both in at once. It will foam a bit and change color when the baking soda hits it, so stir it quickly.

It will have to cool – I sat mine outside tonight, covered. I’ve also let it cool in the fridge in year’s past – the only thing is, it should be LEVEL until it cools. Use a spatula to pry it up – it should come in one piece. I take a paper towel and wipe the back of mine off (less fat that way, from greasing the pan.) Then just pick it up and tap it on the pan to break it up.

Get your pan to some water and let it soak to clean it. Plan to let it soak a bit to keep it easy.

The brittle doesn’t have to be stored in the fridge. It’s fine at room temperature. I can’t tell you how long it lasts. Around here it never makes it past 3 days, or as soon as my dad comes over.

If you have questions, let me know!

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