Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Knitting a Hat

Here it is! The finished hat. This isn't the gargantuan hat I started out making. Some where I miscalculated something and the hat looked large enough to fit King Kong. Then, being the impatient person I am, I just deducted how many stitches I thought was necessary and started a new hat unraveling the old. The new hat looked quite small. It turned out to be too tiny even for my youngest daughter. We all decided we should give it to my Sister's Munchkin. So I crocheted up a pretty blue flower and sewed it on with some bright pink yarn forming the eye of the flower. I must say, I'm pretty pleased.
This is my third attempt at making a sufficiently sized hat for my over sized yet not huge noggin . The pretty green, blue, and brown yarn on the side is wool and I am going to attempt to make a cute hat out of it once I get better at this!

I'm terrible at following directions, and tend to get impatient with tedious directions. I found this video very helpful and easy to follow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Around the House and Garden

Finally, cool weather. It got down to 42 degrees last night, so it's the perfect time for hot rolls and hot chocolate. My girls like to dip fresh baked rolls in steaming mugs of hot chocolate. These are refrigerator rolls that I made with 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat flour. This is a pic before they were finished rising. They rose to about twice this size and baked to hot, fluffy, melt in your mouth, addictive little fat bombs. Yummmm
These are peeled loofahs and seeds that I saved. Even though I've given away seeds to all my friends that wanted them and some of the loofahs.........
I still have all these to go! Gardening is so abundant. Love it.
Here is a chicken tractor my husband is building for our new chickies. He's still contemplating how he's going to finish it. Also, he's attempting to build it with misc. things we have laying around the shed and house. The point of a chicken tractor is to be able to move around the small coop, thus allowing your chickens to free range without risking them to roving predators or stray dogs. No chickens do not drive it, you pull it or push it around.
Hello! Are you my mother? We moved the little chickies to the shed and are keeping them warm with a heating lamp.
Look how much they have changed. They are really motley looking! I hope they like their new home Byron is building them. If these chicks thrive, it will be a huge step for us in the direction of chicken sustainability!
I'm also attempting to make my first completed knitting project other than a dish cloth, a really wild colored hat. It looks big! I measured my head. Maybe I just have a big head. Anyway....Fall is here and it's a wonderful energetic time!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Flowers for Pastor Appreciation

October is "Pastor Appreciation Month". Every year our church has a special service honoring the dedication and work of our Pastor. This year everyone out did themselves, and I certainly believe our Pastor was overwhelmed and, in his words, humbled. There was a service, special music, lunch afterwards, and a spacewalk and slide for the kids to exhaust themselves with afterward!
I wanted to do the flowers fallish without the typical pumpkins, gourds and maple leaves. Instead I did what I call "Marie Antoinette" fall colors. Lots of roses with pink, light blue and red mixed with the fall colors.

This is an easy centerpiece to make. Wrap a small chunk of soaked florist foam in a bright leaf, then arrange flowers and elements cut short in a pleasing mound.
This is the same concept on a larger scale. The foam keeps the flowers fresh without having to deal with large amounts of water in vases. The bright leaf hides the foam and brightens the arrangement. The glass vases can be used over and over for many different seasons and reasons. It's look being changed by what style and color leaf you use. Some suggestions are: Hawaiian Ti, variegated ginger, ginger, banana leaves, pittosporum leaves....your only limitation is your imagination!
Be creative with what you have on hand in your garden. Branches, berries, herbs, cones, dried leaves,....don't try to choose perfect items, the imperfections found on the plant add to the character of the arrangement.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Henderson Bush Lima Beans

These are Henderson bush Lima beans or "butter beans" as my relatives in Mississippi would call them. My mother called me this morning and asked what I was doing. "Peeling Lima beans.", I replied. My Mother intoned, "No, your shelling Lima beans. You peel shrimp and shell peas and beans." (Shrimp have shouldn't we shell them???) So I stand corrected. Today I shelled Lima beans! Another meal from my garden. This is becoming a regular thing, and I am thrilled.
Lima beans originated in South America and around 1300 moved further up to North America. In the 1500's Lima beans made their move to Europe. As the beans were shipped around the world their origin was labeled on the package. Earning them the name- Lima-Peru or Lima beans! Now why Southerners call them butter beans that's another story I'll have to look up one day.
Figuring out when to pick them and keeping the caterpillars off of them, I've found three different caterpillar varieties on them so far, is the two largest challenges of growing them so far. Despite this, I picked a whole "mess of 'em" and there are a whole bunch left on the bush. They've grown well in our fall weather, which varies between 65 to 85 degrees.
Tonight's dinner.
Seleste is home with what I presume is the flu. She has fever, chills, head ache, muscle pain, and an ear ache. Here she is snoring away on the sofa while I I Lima beans.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's Raining

Our Friend

Sister Margaret

We will
Miss you
Sister Margaret

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

About Purple Hull Peas

Just a little more on purple hull peas...please....I'm just ecstatic that I actually have a harvest. They are coming in by the bunches. Like I said, I'm a long time gardener, but I'm still a novice. This is the first time I've had enough of any kind of legume to cook a whole pot of them, and it looks like there will be several more pots to come!

If you're interested in growing them you can find a ton of information on them at this site Purple Hull Pea Festival. Emerson, Arkansas has a festival every year featuring these beautifully colored peas. They look like black eyed peas yet are tastier and prettier. The coloring is sort of a pale lime green with a pinkish purple eye, and of course, the hull is purple. They also are an heirloom vegetable. So much the more fun to grow! Someone asked if they were a Southern thing. I guess so, but you can grow them most anywhere if the growing season is long enough. Cow peas (purple hull peas are a type of cow pea) were originally brought over from Africa.

Purple hulls on the vine.
Purple hulls rinsed and ready to shell.
Shellin' purple hulls.
Look at all those peas in a pod! After shelling them, blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute and freeze, unless you're going to cook them right away.
Another wonderful thing about these peas is, you can save the seed and it will produce like kind. According to the book "Seed to Seed" by Suzanne Ashworth, Let the pods dry on the vine and then shell and save. These are the peas I'm saving to plant next year. Oh yes, I'm going to plant a larger patch of them!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Gumbo is a traditional Louisiana soup. Since there have been requests that I write more about our local culture and specifically this soup, I am going to give the basics and what I do know about it.

According to the book "The Encyclopedia Of Cajun & Creole Cuisine" By Chef John D. Folse, I mentioned in the past, "Gumbo" is the West African word for okra. Okra was brought over from Africa via the flourishing trade with the West Indies. Since gumbo is generally made with okra, the soup was given this name. Some other crops that came over in this manner as well are cowpeas (black eye and purple hull etc.), sesame, and peanuts.

Fresh Louisiana shrimp bought right off the boat. $2.35 per lb (size 16-20). Shrimp are sized by how many you get in a pound.

Gumbo is a soup with meat and seasonings thickened with roux. Generally it is made with chicken and sausage. There are many many variations. Everyone has their own. Typically I make it with chicken, smoked sausage, and shrimp. My husband recently made a smoked duck (he smoked the duck himself) and andouille sausage. Andouille is a sausage that is made with chunks (instead of ground) meat and seasonings and then smoked. It's usually made by locals who produce specialty items such as: boudin (rice,meat and seasonings stuffed in a sausage skin), andouille, hog's head cheese (meat and seasonings formed in a gel loaf), smoke sausage, cracklins' etc. The best andouille I've ever had is found in Laplace Louisiana, then Lafayette. Taffe's in St. Bernard Parish (In Louisiana we have Parishes not Countys.) made the best hog's head cheese. His business was destroyed by Katrina and he hasn't opened back up. A real loss.

Basic Gumbo:

1 chicken

1 pack smoke sausage

2 lbs of peeled shrimp

1/2 to 1 cup of flour

1 cup of oil (butter, veggie, olive)

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced green bell pepper

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup chopped green onions

3 cloves of garlic minced

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper

1 tsp. Cheyenne pepper

1 cup of chopped okra (I do not like the texture okra gives the soup. I always omit. Others absolutely love okra in their gumbo, give it a try)

First: In preparation to make a gumbo. Boil and debone one chicken. Throw away the skin and bones. Reserve meat and stock in large pot. Have seasonings ready.

Next Basic Roux:

Everything is done so hodgepodge and by memory. There are no hard fast rules. Roux is basically flour cooked in oil until it is dark brown. Once it is dark brown the liquids are added or you add it to liquids.

I usually saute the green onions, garlic, onions, bell pepper, celery and chopped smoked sausage in a little olive oil or butter and then put in pot with chicken stock and chicken meat. In the same skillet I add more oil and brown the flour to make a dark roux. It usually starts to smoke before it is finished. You must pay close attention to the roux and keep stirring and turning it often. When the roux is done, I carefully add it to the pot as well. The hot grease will pop when you add it. Sometimes I add a cup of chicken stock to the skillet when the roux is done to loosen it up before adding it to the large pot.

Add two bay leaves, salt, pepper, and Cheyenne pepper to mixture. If you like it very hot add more pepper. If you like it mild add less. Bring entire mixture to a rolling boil. Then add shrimp and okra. You can omit the okra if you do not like it's slimy texture (I really only like okra pickled or fried).

Continue to cook until shrimp are done. Remove bay leaves and skim any fat off of top. Serve over cooked rice.

It's traditional in my husband's family to serve gumbo with potato salad. True Cajuns always put a dollop of potato salad in the middle of their bowl of gumbo. Others also like garlic french bread with theirs.

Variations: (use basic seasonings and roux, just change up the meat)

Duck and Andouille

Chicken, Sausage, Oyster, crab, and shrimp

Quail and Andouille

Seafood only Oyster, crab, and shrimp.

Some people add tomatoes to their gumbo

Gumbo Potato Salad:

2-3 lb potatoes

6 hard boiled eggs



1 cup of stuffed Olives cut in half

6 slices of bacon fried crispy and crushed

Salt and pepper

Peel and boil potatoes until soft then drain. Smash potatoes in a large bowl with a potato smasher. Peel eggs then smash eggs into small pieces with potato smasher. Add to bowl with potatoes. Add enough mayo to bind eggs and potatoes together, salt, pepper, a dash of mustard and the olives. Stir until combined. Sprinkle bacon pieces on top and serve with gumbo.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Purple Hull Peas

Finally, enough purple hull peas to cook!
Purple hull peas are Byron's favorite. He never ceases to expound the virtues of the purple hull pea.
A little turkey sausage, chopped onion, minced garlic and green onions sauteed in olive oil until tender. Then add purple hull peas and some water. Then cook...simmer...simmer....simmer...until.
It's done. Serve over a spoonful of short grain brown rice.
And then seconds...more seconds...more more!
Mmmmmm....the best Mom!
Sure there's not enough for thirds? No....I promise I'll plant a lot more next time.
That was good Mom.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sub Tropical Fall Arrangement

No colorful leaves... no crisp brisk winds... no leaf covered trails.....So when you live in the sub tropics you use what you must! Birds of Paradise, Mexican sage, Variegated Ginger and a Musquee De Provence pumpkin from the garden!
Isn't the color of this Musquee De Provence pumpkin gorgeous? It sorta looks iridescent!
The first blossom my Bird of Paradise bloomed!

Monday, October 13, 2008

How To Make Laundry Powder

Previously I gave a recipe for making laundry soap liquid. Lately I have been making this laundry powder recipe. It's not as inexpensive as the liquid, but it is still very inexpensive. It's very simple and takes less time to make and works quite well. My washing machine is a high efficiency machine, and the laundry powder works just fine in it.


2 bars of Fel's Naptha soap
3 cups borax
3 cups super washing powder

Method: Grind soap to powder. I use my food processor. Be careful. It grinds very fine, I use a mask to keep from breathing in any particles. Allow soap powder to settle then transfer to a large enough canister with a lid.
Add 3 c. borax and 3 c. super washing power to container.
I tape the lid shut to keep particles from escaping. Shake and rock back and forth gently until thoroughly mixed. Use 2 tablespoons per laundry load. Use a little more for a very dirty load.

You can also use 1/2 a cup of vinegar as a fabric softener. Don't worry, it doesn't make the laundry smell like vinegar.

Now line dry for the freshest smelling laundry ever!!! The sun also will help whiten white clothing.