Sunday, June 19, 2016

With love and appreciation on FATHER'S DAY for all Dads, Granddads, and the special "like a dad" fellows in all of our lives

June is a month of change. School is out. Summer begins. The heat is on. Our Farmer's Markets here in the States are beginning to bloom with gorgeous produce and other seasonal offerings. At any given time, somewhere in the world, garden goodness is ripe for the picking! We celebrate Father's Day in June, and it's a great time to enjoy fresh food full of flavor. I grew up without my Dad, but I had the most wonderful male role model I could want, and that was my beloved grandfather. His name was Tazewell, and his nick name was Taz. My nick name was Little Taz. Yep, we were close. I was a "Paw Paw's girl". I only had my grandfather for nineteen years, and he was the light of my life. He's been gone for over thirty years, and I miss him more than I can say. My favorite Summer memories are of the times I spent with my grandparents working in our garden. My grandfather was a natural "master gardener". He grew the best tomatoes that I have ever tasted! One of a Southerner's favorite meals is a slice of juicy, ripe homegrown tomato on a fresh, hot butter biscuit! I used to love to help my grandfather plant the tomatoes. Dig a little hole, add some water, drop in the little plant, pat the dirt down, add a little water, repeat. On and on we went, row after row, until we were done. It was never work to me, it was just a special time shared with my Paw Paw.

I have always loved to cook, and I began preparing the meals for my family when I was just ten years old. By that time, my grandmother was no longer able to grocery shop and cook our meals. She taught me how to cook, and we managed pretty well. My mom and grandfather worked full-time and I went to school. We each did what we could to keep it all together. My grandfather's favorite pie was mincemeat, and I decided to make him a pie one Christmas. It was a beautiful mincemeat pie with a golden, fluted-edge crust. I wanted to be just like my grandmother, so I sat my pie on a chair on the back porch so that it would cool quicker. My grandfather could hardly wait for a taste of that pie. It was a wonderfully clear and cold December day with a bright blue sky. Not a cloud in sight. A great day for birds! When I went back to get my prize-worthy pie, birds had completely pecked away the carefully fluted edge of the pie crust. They left a perfect ring of crumbs around the pie pan. I was devastated! My grandfather loved to tease me, and he told me that since there were no dead birds in sight, the pie was probably safe to eat! I cried, but he gave me a hug and took over that pie. He brushed off the top and cut away a narrow ring around the edge. Over the next few days, he managed to consume the whole pie. No one else would touch it! He told me many times that it was the best mincemeat pie he ever ate. It was the only one I ever made!


A man who takes care of his family with his wealth is a provider. A hero is a man who takes care of his family in all circumstances, especially when wealth is unavailable or unattainable. A man with a compassionate heart, strong principles, honor and humor will always be heroic to those who love him. Money cannot buy those qualities. What makes a man most attractive is a quiet confidence, a definite masculinity, that shows itself in thought and action. Handsome men are sometimes merely "pretty", nice to look at, but not always substantial in personality. My grandfather was a modest man, quiet and classy, funny, immaculate, mannerly, polite, and well-liked by everyone he met. He was the most responsible person that I have ever met. He was an excellent provider and protector, always looking out for our family. He was an amazingly astute judge of character, and I never knew him to be wrong. He was a medium-sized man, but he left huge shoes to fill. They remain unfilled to this day. I would love to hear about your fathers, grandfathers. "like a dad" special friends, and the men in your life who are memorable role models.

Super Hero Sandwich 

1 long loaf crusty Italian bread (1 lb. or more); 2/3 cup olive oil mayonnaise; 1 tbsp. minced garlic; 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning; 1/4 teaspoon pepper; 1/2 pound fully cooked ham, thinly sliced; 1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked turkey; 1/4 pound thinly sliced hard salami; 1/4 pound sliced provolone cheese; 1/4 pound sliced mozzarella cheese; 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced; 1 large firm tomato, thinly sliced; 1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced into rings

Cut bread in half lengthwise; slightly hollow out top and bottom. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, Italian seasoning and pepper; brush on cut sides of bread top and bottom. On the bottom half, layer half of the meats, cheeses, onion, tomato, and green pepper. Repeat layers. Replace bread top. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap; refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Slice into wedges to serve.

Savory Southern-Style Green Beans & Potatoes
1/2 lb. bacon, uncooked, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 cups (approximately) of fresh or frozen cut green beans,
2 medium red potatoes, unpeeled, medium-diced
Chicken stock, to cover
1 tsp. sugar 
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

If using fresh green beans, remove the ends and snap in half or cut; rinse and set aside. Add the bacon directly into a large saucepan and cook over low heat until it begins to brown. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. If using fresh or frozen beans, saute them in the cooked bacon and onion for a bit first, and then add the potatoes to the beans. Pour over enough chicken broth to cover. Add sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and let them low for 20 minutes, or until potatoes and beans are tender.

1 jar (16 ounces) chunky-style salsa or picante sauce
2 cups water 
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 large onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 trimmed beef brisket (3 to 4 pounds)

Stir the salsa or picante sauce, water, molasses, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire and onion together in a 5-quart slow cooker. Add the beef, trimming to fit, if needed, and turn to coat. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours, or HIGH for 4 to 5 hours, or until the beef is fork-tender.

Tender Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob with Garlic-Cheese Butter

corn on the cob, husks and silk removed

1 stick (1/2 cup) real butter, softened 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese 1/2 tsp California-style garlic salt (with dried parsley)

HEAT grill to medium-high heat. RINSE corn under cold water; wrap individually in foil. GRILL 15 to 20 min. or until tender, turning occasionally. MIX remaining ingredients in a small bowl; spread liberally onto corn. STORE leftover garlic-cheese butter covered in refrigerator (it's great on other vegetables and grilled bread).

Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

6 lg. tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
8 oz. Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
12 whole fresh basil leaves
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano

Arrange the tomato slices, Mozzarella, onion, and basil in overlapping layers on a platter. Combine the dressing ingredients, mixing well. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and let marinate in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Yield: 8 servings.

Fresh Corn Relish
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups fresh corn kernels
1 red onion, chopped
1 small cucumber, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 tablespoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium and add corn. Cook until the kernels begin to lightly char. Add onions and peppers and continue to cook for 1-2 min. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add remaining ingredients, mix well, and store in refrigerator. This can be eaten cold or heated.

Summer Squash Skillet

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped onion, yellow or red
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 medium zucchini, medium-sliced
3 medium yellow squash, medium-sliced
2-3 ripe yellow or red tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil until the onions being to turn translucent, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn, about 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini and squash, tossing well with the olive oil mixture. Sauté over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking and stirring about 2 to 3 minutes until the zucchini and squash are tender and the tomatoes have softened. Toss the hot mixture with the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
4 cups grated carrots
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 stick butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 box powdered sugar (1 lb.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Cake: Combine sugar, baking powder, flour, cinnamon and baking soda in a bowl. Add in the eggs and oil. Mix until just blended and then add the carrots and pecans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes or until done.

For Frosting: Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth, add sugar and vanilla and blend well. Spread on cooled cake.

Fresh Tomato Pie

Pastry for a 1-crust 9-inch pie, unbaked
evaporated milk

4 cups sliced firm ripe tomatoes; 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; 1/8 teaspoon pepper; 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil; 1/3 cup mayonnaise; 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese; 1 large clove garlic, smashed and minced

Line pie plate with pastry; flute edges and brush shell with evaporated milk. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes. Fill the baked pie shell with sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil. Combine mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, and minced garlic; spread over the layer of tomatoes. Bake at 350° for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tomatoes are cooked and pie is done.

Mama's Summer Salad 

one red ripe tomato; one yellow ripe tomato; one cucumber; one bell pepper; one onion; 1/2 cup cider vinegar; 1/2 cup sugar; 1/2 cup light cooking oil; salt & pepper to taste

Cut vegetables into bite-sized chunks and mix together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar with vinegar. Blend in oil. Add salt & pepper to taste. Pour dressing over vegetables and stir well. Cover and chill. Flavor improves overnight. Stir salad well before serving.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour; 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder; 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon; 1 teaspoon baking soda; 1/2 teaspoon baking powder; 1 teaspoon salt; 2 cups white sugar; 3 eggs; 1 cup vegetable oil; 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; 2 cups shredded zucchini; 1 cup chopped walnuts; 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans. In large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mix well. In separate bowl, combine sugar and eggs, beat until well blended. Add oil and vanilla; beat until combined. Stir in zucchini. Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Spoon evenly into loaf pans. Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pans; cool completely on wire rack.

Bacon & Cheddar Breakfast Muffins
2 cups biscuit/baking mix
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 small pinch dried red pepper flakes
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
In a large bowl, combine the biscuit mix, buttermilk, oil, egg, and red pepper flakes just until moistened. Fold in onion, cheese and bacon. Fill greased muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes about 12 muffins.

Chocolate Butterscotch Clusters 

1 6 oz pkg semisweet chocolate chips
1 6 oz pkg butterscotch chips
2 Tbsp peanut butter
4 cups Rice Krispies

Melt the chocolate and butterscotch along with the peanut butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture melts. Remove from heat. Stir in Rice Krispies. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper. Cool until firm. Store in a container.

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