Apple Pie And Grandbabies

I made an apple pie yesterday.

We bought apples from a vendor at the Apple Festival this weekend. I kept passing by the bag, sitting in the floor of the kitchen, as I cleaned house.

Bag of apples.

Bag of apples.

And I thought, why don’t I make an apple pie like a grandma would. Like a grandma would? Oh wait! I am a grandma. Sometimes I forget. I don’t feel that old, and Finn, my sweet first grandbaby, seems like a buddy to hang out with.

We get each other. I teach him, he teaches me. We mock each other… and laugh about it. We watch the rooster crowing. I mock the rooster, then Finn mocks me… and laughs… because it is funny.

As I watch Finn grow and develop, the speed at which he changes is amazing. If I miss a few days of seeing him, he has reached another milestone, and the rate at which he learns things is astounding. The time I spend with him is magical. I see God’s creation in… not only Finn’s development but in what he points out to me as we hang together.

Finn loves… people, animals, rain, flowers, trees, birds, breezes, grass, gravel, toes, fingers, hands… and the list goes on, and on, and on.

I love hanging out, but I also have to be a grandmother to him. So I am making sure I know how to make apple pies from scratch and other things grandmas from a long time ago knew.

I got out my supplies.

Supplies for apple pie.

Supplies for apple pie.

I grated a fresh nutmeg on a grater for the first time, because that is what grandmothers do.

Nutmeg and grater.

Nutmeg and grater.

I made pastry dough from scratch using a recipe from a French Cookbook where you measure out flour and butter by  ounces, and I used my scale.  I chilled the dough per recipe instructions, then rolled it out.

Rolling out the dough.

Rolling out the dough.

I mixed the sugar, flour, spices, and apples, then added butter and the top crust.

Apples in crust with spices, sugar, and flour.

Apples in crust with spices, sugar, and flour.

Completed pie ready for baking.

Completed pie ready for baking.

I baked it per recipe instructions and voila…..

Finished pie.

Apple pie.

When Finn is old enough, I want him to be able to come to his Mimi’s house and have apple pie, and cookies, and gingerbread, and macaroni and cheese… all made from scratch. I want my house and gardens to be cozy and inviting for him to explore and find exciting things… like fish in the garden pond and funny statues hiding in flower beds.

I want him to run with the dogs and cat through the grass, catch lightning bugs, and crunch through fallen leaves.

Until he is old enough for that, I will continue to practice my baking skills and work on surprises in the garden.

When he finally learns to talk, I hope when his mom asks, “What would you like to do today?”… that he will shout “Let’s go see Mimi!”

Finn and Mimi.

Finn and Mimi.

“… Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:16

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Cooking Okra

Years ago, my daughter and I took a cooking class at Williams-Sonoma. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot from it. We watched and learned how to cook several southern dishes that included: yellow squash casserole, “plain and simple black-eyed peas”, roasted tomatoes and red peppers (this recipe included olives and 8 anchovy fillets…interesting), and steamed okra. For dessert they made rhubarb crumble ice cream.

Here are some tips that was shared during the class. Harris Teeter brand butter is Land of Lakes butter. The flatter the onion, the sweeter it will be. Anything that grows above the ground, start cooking in hot water. Anything that grows below the ground, start in cold water.

All the recipes were great, but I have used the okra recipe over and over since taking the class. It is very simple to prepare and healthier than fried, if you only use a small amount of butter, which can vary with your taste.

Recipe for Steamed Okra:

Cut off the steams at the growing seam.

Cutting the okra

Cutting the okra

Only use fresh okra, and the smaller the better, like the okra in the bottom of the picture. If you use the bigger pieces it will be stringy. Save them for stewing or frying. If you don’t have okra in your garden right now, purchase it from a farmer’s market to get it fresh.

The okra at the bottom of the cutting board is the perfect size.

The okra at the bottom of the cutting board is the perfect size.

Place 2 inches of water in your pot and get it boiling. Add the steamer pan.

Steamer pan.

Steamer pan.

Add okra.

Okra steaming.

Okra steaming.

And lid.

Okra steaming.

Okra steaming.

Time for 5 minutes. Yes, that is all the time it takes. This makes it a very easy side dish when you have hardly any time.

Timer

Timer

Add a pat of butter to taste, and sea salt and pepper.

Butter, salt and pepper added.

Butter, salt and pepper added.

Stir gently until butter is melted and salt and pepper distributed.

Some people in the class asked if the okra would be slimy. It is not. When I make this dish, my husband and I have to be gracious to each other and not take too much but share nicely.

I hope you enjoy some steamed okra soon!

Side note:

On Monday nights I take a three-hour Bible class at Liberty Baptist Church. After three years, I will have a Bible degree. Last night a verse was pointed out that I had never noted before.

All of us are rebellious at times. We say our teenagers are rebellious and accept that is the way it will be. But from where God is concerned, rebellion is serious business.

This is how God looks at rebellion.

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” 1 Samuel 15:23a

When we are rebellious and stubborn, we commit a great sin.

For the rest of the story of what is going on with King Saul and what gets him booted out and replaced with David… read 1 Samuel 15. Hint: Saul disobeyed God.

I love the stories in the Old Testament, that show us how people messed up their lives like we do. Some turned back to God and were restored, others continued down their own path and their life ended in misery. What will you do?

Plodding Through The Day

Yesterday, after whining on the blog about how tired I was, I went out to see if I could accomplish anything for the day. I would like to report to you that I walked with a bounce in my step and totally made the garden a weed free sanctuary.

Reality was….I plodded to the barn with less energy than a 90-year-old, got the tiller, plodded behind it to the garden, and very slowly tilled the back area of the garden.

Back of the garden after tilling.

Back of the garden after tilling.

My plan was to plant this area in buckwheat, a green manure crop. After the buckwheat is growing I will make hills in the area and transplant my big vining plants from the greenhouse. These plants include, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and cucumbers. I will also put my squash plants here. I am trying something new this year. My theory is…..the buckwheat will enrich the soil and make a carpet for the growing melons and squash to lay on out of the mud.

While tilling I ran a snake out of the back of this area and onto the other side of the chain link fence. We had a stare-off for a while, before it eventually moved on. I don’t care what kind of snake it is. I don’t want it around me! This one was a common ground snake that I find in the garden on a regular basis.

I threw out the buckwheat seeds (4 pounds of them) and raked them into the soil.

Along with the buckwheat, for protection of the produce from mud, I plan to use alfalfa straw to place under the melons. It is growing very well and should be ready for cutting by the time I have some fruit.

Alfalfa Bed

Alfalfa Bed

Close-up of what alfalfa looks like.

Close-up of what alfalfa looks like.

In this area of the garden, my raised bed of mixed lettuce is growing fantastically and is bug free at this time…..yah!

Lettuce Bed

Lettuce Bed

Pest-free lettuce.

Pest-free lettuce.

For supper I fixed an old-fashioned meal. I cooked black-eyed peas in the crock pot. I still had some frozen corn from last year’s garden. I added a salad made with the lettuce from the garden and bought some new potatoes to boil (my new potatoes should be ready soon). I made plain cornbread (normally I make mexican cornbread – see recipe on this site)…. and voila…..drum roll please…..

A healthy country supper.

A healthy country supper.

Recipe For Easy Cornbread for two.

1 cup self-rising yellow cornmeal mix

Take the same empty, 1 cup measure, and place the following in this cup:

1 egg

Fill to the halfway mark with canola oil

Fill to the top with buttermilk

Add a touch of sugar if desired

Mix together well and place in a small baking dish sprayed with pam. Sometimes I add a little more sugar, and this cornbread become more of a dessert to me, especially, if I have a glass of sweet tea to go with it. You can also pour honey over it for an even better dessert.

Asparagus

Asparagus is now in season. My asparagus beds had become overgrown over the winter.

Overgrown asparagus beds

Overgrown asparagus beds

Pretty much every bed in the garden is overgrown right now. I am taking a few beds at a time to clean up and get back into shape.

Saturday, I was able to clean out the asparagus beds and even get enough asparagus to share with my husband for lunch. Once the beds were weeded, I covered them with a deep layer of oak mulch to prevent more weeds from growing.

Asparagus beds after clean up.

Asparagus beds after clean up.

Asparagus

Asparagus

I cooked the asparagus the Martha Stewart way:

Use a frying pan or saute pan. Add enough water to the pan to cover the amount of asparagus you have available. Bring the water to a boil and add the asparagus. Boil for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from water and dry on paper towels. Add butter, salt, and some fresh lemon juice.

DELICIOUS!

 

Good Eating

Coming up with meals on a daily basis takes planning. Yesterday, as I worked in the yard, I wondered what to cook for supper. We have collards in the garden that were planted in the fall. I have cut them several times over the fall and winter to add to our meals.

I shared some with our daughter-in-law, Collette. I am grateful to have a daughter-in-law that enjoys the simple pleasures in life…. of home cooked collards.

When I went to check on them I noticed that the warm weather had caused them to start bolting (going to seed). Bolting makes the plants slow production and is a sign that maybe the old plants should be removed and new ones started.

Collards bolting

Collards bolting

I was able to find many leaves that were still edible.

I always soak the leaves in a sink of cold water, with vinegar added, to kill any bugs that may be on the leaves. This is a good time of year to pick bug free collards due to the cold weather. I found no bugs.

I placed them in the crock pot on high at noon, added a dash of vinegar, salt, and some basil/garlic spice, then covered them with water. They were cooked to perfection by our suppertime at 6:00 pm.

Collard bed

Collard bed

For supper we had pinto beans with chopped onions, collards, and mexican cornbread (search “mexican cornbread” on this site for the recipe).

My husband smiled as he dished up his supper and said, “I’d rather have this meal than steak!”

Now that’s appreciation!

Planting Seeds

Yesterday I began planting seeds in my greenhouse.

Seeds started in recycled containers

Seeds started in recycled containers

This time of year always gets my heart excited for a new start in the garden. All the old weeds and last years mistakes can be wiped away and hope begins to grow. (“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 NISB)

I had to plant the seeds that take the longest time to germinate and grow, around six to eight weeks, so they would be ready to set out after the last frosts in early May.

I planted seeds for my flower beds and pots…. Geraniums, Hosta seeds, and Sweet Peas.

Sweet Peas, have such a hard shell they have to be soaked in water for 24 hours before planting. The parable in Luke 8:5-15 covers seeds and soil. To this parable I would like to add another, a seed whose shell is so hard, it has to be soaked down, to soften the exterior and let the life giving nutrients in. Those with hard shells know what I mean.

Sweet Pea Villa Roma Scarlett seeds soaking to soften the hard shell

Sweet Pea Villa Roma Scarlett seeds, soaking to soften their hard shells.

Once seeds are planted I lightly cover with potting soil using an old soup ladle to scoop and  sprinkle the dirt

Once seeds are planted, I lightly cover with potting soil using an old soup ladle to scoop and sprinkle the dirt.

I also planted Cauliflower and Jalapeno peppers. In summer, fresh Jalapeno peppers make the best Mexican cornbread ever.

Below is my recipe for the easiest Mexican cornbread ever. Cooking and baking doesn’t have to be hard.

2 cups self-rising buttermilk cornmeal

To a one cup measure, add 2 eggs and fill the rest of the way with oil

Add  one cup of buttermilk

Mix thoroughly

Add 1 small can of drained corn or equivalent of fresh corn

Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (low fat works fine)

Add 1-2, depending on size and taste , fresh, diced, Jalapeno peppers (in the winter use diced from a jar, to taste)

Bake in 8×8 dish, sprayed with Pam, at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.

ENJOY!