Monday, December 29, 2008

A Year of Veggies

A few of the veggies I grew this year: Cabbage
Pak Choy
Henderson Bush Lima beans
Curly mustard, purple hull peas, Lima beans
burgundy okra
Ichiban Eggplant
White Crookneck Cushaw
Charentais Melon
Moon and Stars Watermelon
Early Silver line Oriental Melon Creole Tomatoes
Green Onions
Tom Thumb Lettuce
Early Dutch Cabbage
Radish and mixed lettuce greens

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hogshead Cheese

The name turns many people off just like first (not me I don't turn people off...I don't think!...just the name of the food :-)). Not any more. Hogshead cheese used to be made from the head of a pig after butchering. Nothing at all was wasted. They boiled the head and feet, picked every last piece of meat off of the bones, added seasoning, then poured into pans to gel. The natural gelatin found in the bones (I believe) caused the mixture to gel up and it could be cut into slices.

Now local meat markets and individuals who specialize in making hogshead cheese, boudin and sausages make it from pork roast seasonings and gelatin. Everyone has their own recipe and everyone has their own favorite. My favorite was Taffe's. He made the best in my opinion. I just found out he moved to Picayune, Mississippi after Katrina. Too far to drive. So.....

My me and my 74 year old Mother-In-Law made her recipe. She and her family used to make hogshead cheese every year when they would butcher a pig. My husband remembers it very well. I also was delighted to be able to use the green onions, cayenne peppers and parsley that I grew myself.


Up Close.
And the sauce you just must eat it with! Crackers, hogshead cheese and pick-a-peppa sauce. Yum. Many people here put hogshead cheese out at Christmas time served different ways. I like it on crackers with cream cheese and pick a peppa sauce.


1 heaping tblsp of cayenne pepper flakes
2 tblsp salt

1tsp blk pepper

3 cups chopped fresh parsley

3 cups chopped green onions

4 Extra large onions (6 large, 8 medium) chopped fine

3 boxes of Knox unflavored gelatin (12 envelopes)

2 heads of garlic peeled and chopped fine

2 large Boston butt pork roasts (trimmed, deboned and cut in large chunks)

3 to 4 whole pigs feet

tools: 3 large pans (my mother in law cooked the roasts and feet in pressure cookers for 1 hour to save time) Skillet for sauteing seasonings, and a large pan for cooling and gelling mixture.

Method: Place carefully cleaned pigs feet in pot and cover with water. Place each roast in a pot and cover with water. You will not be throwing the liquid away. You will be using it for flavor. Cook the meat until it falls apart add liquid if necessary. (We used pressure cookers so no extra liquid was necessary). On the side saute onions, garlic, parsley and green onions until tender.

When feet is done, carefully remove all bones and smash meat (reserve liquid).
Place liquid and meat from feet in large pot, add roasts with liquid and sauteed seasonings. Add cayenne and black pepper and salt. Add Knox gelatin. Bring to boil. Taste to make sure seasoned properly. Add less Cayenne if you do not like it too spicy.

Pour into large pan to set and gel. Cut into squares and wrap in plastic wrap or place in containers. It can be frozen. Just thaw melt and cool to allow it to re-gel. It is also great served warm as a soup with crackers.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Dress

My Mother-in-law bought each of my girls their Christmas dresses. She bought the two youngest the American Girl Christmas Dress and dresses for their dolls to match. Unfortunately it seems as if most dresses are a little short this season. So...I get to practice my sewing.
I like my girls dresses to be below their knees for the sake of modesty. A little fabric matched as closely as possible, folded in half and slightly gathered makes a cute little bubble hem that lengthens the dress five inches and will make my eight year old bat her eye lashes a little more.

Hmmm...Turned out nice for a novice novice.
Angle two!
Close up
And then there were two. For two little twirling sparkling Christmas Fairies.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shooting Star Black Gold Orchid

I brought in many of my potted plants to protect them from the recent frost. There was a wonderful surprise. The one orchid I haven't managed to kill yet had a stem full of buds on it! They have finally bloomed to my great delight.
This is a "Shooting Star Black Gold Orchid" according to the label, and it is a Brassia type orchid according to my "All About Orchids" book. Despite having a wonderful book on orchids, this is the only type of orchid I have been able to successfully grow. Most likely because it doesn't mind being forgotten among a bunch of bromeliads. So forgotten, that if it hadn't snowed, it's effort to bloom might not have been noticed at all. Poor little orchid.

Now it is enjoying a place of honor on the kitchen sink window sill before which I spend much of my time! Orchids make wonderful gifts. Their blooms last so long (especially phalenopsis orchids) and give so much joy. Then you get the pleasure of killing it or helping it thrive to bloom again depending on your orchid growing skills. Mine are about a 3 on a 10 scale.
This is three of the tomatoes I picked during the snow. Some ripened up...the others didn't have a chance to. We fried them. To make fried green tomatoes, Slice the tomatoes dip in egg and milk mixture, coat in flour and fry in about 1/2 inch of oil. Very yummy.
Me and my girls had a few minutes to kill between music lessons, so we stopped at Tuesday Morning to look around. We found this great quality reversible tablecloth. It's original price was $150.00. Way to pricey for me. Somehow it made it's way into Tuesday Morning wadded up in an unappealing ball in it's plastic bag. I was thrilled with the $19.00 price tag and purchased it right away.
It's great quality and I expect it to last a very long time if cared for. It's better to buy quality items that will last when trying to live a simple life. If you have patience, quality turns up in the most surprising places, and you don't have to settle for cheaper lesser quality items that will have to be replaced shortly.

Friday, December 12, 2008


It actually snowed in my yard. Not just a slushy mist, but big puffy snowflakes for quite a while. The snow began to stick for a little and then it stopped and promptly melted, but not before I could get a few shots. All the wacky things happened as I predicted.

My sister said her son called her and informed her it was nuts at his school. Everyone was running outside to feel and play in the snow, teachers included. I heard it was quite a while before order could be restored.

My children's school allowed them to go outside to enjoy the snow as well. At Tera's concert that night you could tell everyone was in a happy mood.

See the my neighbor's palm orchard in the back ground? Snow in the palms!

Here is my sago with a little snow build up.

Here is one of the chicken tractors. See the orange trees loaded with fruit in the back?
My front garden.

My poor variegated ginger. I know I'll be cutting it back to the ground next spring.

I also hurriedly picked all my large unripe tomatoes just in case the plants don't survive. I'll probably fry or can these. I love fried green tomatoes. Yummm

My lettuce and bok choy bed.

Here are the cupcakes with the really yummy icing all ready for the bake sale.
All festive with their little sprinkles....
and icing stars....I always use a decorating tip and cone to ice cupcakes. It's so much easier and you don't have to be an expert to make them look cute. Just make sure you get a tip that is very large. You can also use them to fill other things like little pastry cups, tomatoes or eggs.

Some Christmasy ones with little pillow peppermints.

Here is the simple and yummy icing recipe. I don't know why anyone buys canned icing. This is so easy, cheap and tastes much much better.

Chocolate Icing

16 oz of confectioner's sugar

1 stick of butter

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of cocoa (natural unsweetened)

A little milk (to get consistency)

Put everything but milk into mixer bowl. Add a little milk and mix gently at first to keep from scattering sugar. Keep mixing until consistency is correct, add milk a little bit at a time until the icing is soft and thick but not runny. The key is to continue to whip until icing is light and fluffy. If you like your icing more chocolaty add more cocoa.

Variations: Substitute lemon juice or bananas for cocoa

Double or triple or quadruple or....whatever...the recipe to get as much icing as you need.