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Long Distance Grandmothers and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am a long distance grandmother as I only see my grandchildren two or three times a year.  Sometimes I feel as if I am some kind of misfit when I mention that to a grandmother that lives in the same town or even the same neighborhood as their grandchildren.  That look they give me reminds me of the look I would get from stay-at-home moms when I was a working mom in the 70’s and 80’s. It is almost as if they do not know how to relate to me and sometimes I think they really feel sorry for me. It was very hard for me at first when I realized there were so many everyday things that I would miss.  However, I have accepted this situation and try to make the best of it.  I think a lot of that comes from the wisdom of being 69 years old.  If I whined or complained about the situation, it wouldn’t change a thing.

Our grandchildren came for a visit at Christmas and we had a good time with them.  I have a granddaughter that is five and a grandson that is 8.  We will probably not see them again until sometime next Summer.  We have a good relationship with our grandchildren as we send them packages for holidays when we aren’t together.  We usually Skype with them to watch them open their birthday gifts from us.

I wanted to share a grandmother recipe with you today.  So I tried to think of something I would like to make for my grandchildren if they lived down the street.  I chose this recipe from Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen for chocolate chip cookies.  Nothing smells any better than chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven and nothing tastes better than warm chocolate chip cookies. Miss Kay is a grandmother too and her children live close to her so I am sure she has made these cookies many times for them.

cc-cookies

I would be thrilled if my circumstances would change and our grandchildren would be nearby.  That isn’t the way things are now and I enjoy watching them grow up from a distance.  Last summer they went on vacation and decided on their on to buy little mementos for me and Mr. D.  And at Christmas my daughter told me she made deviled eggs for Thanksgiving and when my grandson tasted them he said he knew who made the best deviled eggs.  She asked him who was that and he said Grandma.  That made this Grandma very happy.

I am thankful that I have two grandchildren and they live in the US.  My grandson lived in Africa the first two years of his life and my granddaughter was born in France.  However, now I think they will stay stateside so you can see that I am pleased they are somewhere in the USA.  I think being a long distance grandmother helps me to see my grandchildren more objectively.  They are typical normal kids and I try not to put them on a pedestal and I don’t share pictures of them all the time.

However, I do believe pictures are worth a thousand words and here are some pictures of our grandchildren from their last visit. Mr. D got a selfie stick for Christmas and we had fun taking pictures with it.

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Before I post this, I want to say my heart goes out to grandmothers and Grandfathers everywhere that for any number of circumstances are raising their grandchildren.  I see examples of that everyday and I see Grands that have postponed retirement and many other luxuries of retirement because of that responsibility.  They are truly dedicated and wonderful Grands.

Thanks for stopping by.

A Snowy Weekend – Let’s Have Barbecued Meatballs

Over the weekend we had a significant snowfall here in the foothills of North Carolina.  Actually, it is my favorite type of snowfall.  It began on Friday afternoon with big fluffy flakes of snow.  It continued through the night and snowed for a short period of time on Saturday morning.  I think our accumulation totals was eight inches.

Another reason I liked this snow is because it happened on the weekend and we didn’t have to go to work and could just enjoy watching it snow.  I was also appreciative of the fact that it was snow and not sleet or freezing rain.  The kids in our neighborhood had a good time in the snow but it was extremely cold all weekend.  Of course, I don’t think kids ever admit they are cold when they are playing in the snow.

Here are some pictures:


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Before the snow, I had chosen the following recipe to share with you.  I thought it was such a comforting recipe for a cold January day.  Of course, I love barbecue so it really appealed to me.  It is from a recipe book from a local cook that compiled recipes of her friends and family and named the book, “Susie’s Dinner Bell.”

meatballs

 

I hope you enjoy the recipe.  If you are experiencing a snowy day, I hope you are safe and warm.  Thanks for stopping by.

Southern New Year’s Meal My Way

In the South, a traditional New Year’s Day meal includes black eyed peas, collards and Hog Jowls.  There are variations across the South of this traditional meal but it is one that I am very familiar with here. First of all, I will say that I don’t eat Hog Jowls and have never prepared them.  Lots of times we only have the black eyed peas, collards and corn bread.  This year I have a few pieces of country ham that I will prepare to go along with the vegetables and corn bread. I see many different variations of how to prepare this meal and I try to keep it simple.

First of all, I can say that I love all the preparation for Christmas and the baking. However, by the time New Year’s arrives I am usually tired of cooking.  I think that is how this version of the New Year’s tradition came about.

Black Eyed Peas

one package of frozen black eyed peas This will serve about four people.

1/2 teaspoon of bacon grease

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cook peas according to package directions.  Usually you cover the peas with water, heat to boiling and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and add bacon grease.  Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.  Drain most of the liquid and season with salt and pepper.

Collards

one package of frozen collards – this will also serve about four people

1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Splash of olive oil.

Cook collards according to package directions which are the same as above.  Cover with water – heat to boiling.  Boil for 3 minutes. Reduce to simmer for about 25 minutes.  Drain most of the liquid and add the crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.  After blending add a splash of olive oil.

At one time, I would buy the dry beans, soak them and prepare them.  I would also buy the fresh collards and chop them up and cook them.  As I have worked to adjust the frozen package recipe to our taste, I must say that I am just as pleased with my New Year’s Meal prepared with the frozen vegetables.

Our family visited over the Christmas holidays and I was preparing green beans.  My granddaughter asked what we were having and I told her.  She asked me if I was making the beans with bacon.  I had to think for a minute as I was preparing them with 1/2 teaspoon of bacon grease.  I responded by saying, No bacon but I am using bacon juice.  She was fine with that.  I use the canned blue lake green beans and prepare the large can of beans with a minimal amount of bacon grease.  It really does make them tasty.

I hope I have inspired you to make a tasty New Year’s meal very simply and thanks for stopping by.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

Merry Christmas to Y’all

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From my house to yours, I wish for you a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.  Let there be peace on earth during this most special time of the year.  God Bless You and thank you for visiting my blog!

Chocolate Pound Cake and Carrot Cake

My grandmother and my mother were bakers.  They enjoyed baking cakes for Christmas.  I know it was their way of showing their love for their family.  I have continued that tradition in our family and I have to say my daughters favorite is this chocolate pound cake I am sharing with you today.  It is always something she looks forward to when she visits for Christmas. And yes I made one this year and it is sitting in my kitchen now waiting for me to apply the frosting.

If you are a beginner cook, you may think this is complicated but the good part is you don’t have to worry about stacking layers. The recipe makes a generous amount of frosting.  The frosting is easy to make and you can even out any imperfections of the cake with the frosting.

Chocolate Pound Cake

1/2 pound butter

1 stick margarine

2 and 3/4 cups sugar

5 eggs

3 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

5 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter, margarine and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time and beat well.

Sift remaining dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt) three times.

Add vanilla to the milk.

Add sifted dry ingredients and milk to creamed batter, alternating drya nd liquid ingredients.  Begin and end with dry ingredients.

Pour  mixture into a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan and bake in a 325 degree oven for one and one half hours or until the cake is done.  ( Do Not Overbake)

Cool and Frost.

Icing

6 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 box or one pound of confectioners sugar

5 tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoons vanilla

6 tablespoons milk

Cream butter and salt.  Add confectioners’ sugar and cocoa.  Add vanilla and enough milk (gradually add the milk until it is the right consistency) After completely blended and smooth, frost cooled cake.

I usually make two cakes for Christmas and this year I started thinking about carrot cake.  It is one of my favorites and of course Ina Garten is one of my favorites too.  I was browsing through her cookbook, Foolproof,  and found her recipe for carrot cake.  I have never been disappointed with any of her recipes and so I thought this one was a great choice.

Ina’s Carrot Cake

Ingredients
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound carrots, grated (see Cook’s Note)
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
Ginger Mascarpone Frosting, recipe follows
Crystallized ginger (not in syrup), chopped, for garnish
Ginger Mascarpone Frosting:
12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger (not in syrup)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-by-2-inch) round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and grease and flour the pans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, oil, and eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, until light yellow and thickened. Stir in the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together the 2 cups of flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ones.
In a medium bowl, toss the carrots, raisins, walnuts, and the 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir into the batter with a rubber spatula. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 10 minutes, lower the heat to 350 degrees F, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes, turn out onto a baking rack, and cool completely.
Place one cake on a flat serving plate, rounded-side down. Spread half the frosting on the top (not the sides). Place the second cake on top of the first cake, rounded-side up. Frost just the top of the second cake. Sprinkle with the ginger and serve at room temperature.

Ginger Mascarpone Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone, cream cheese, confectioners sugar, cream, and vanilla together for about 1 minute, until light and fluffy. Add the crystallized ginger and salt and beat for 30 seconds more. Yield: frosts one 9-inch cake
Grate the carrots by hand on a box grater; if you grate them in a food processor, the carrots will be too wet and the cake might fall.

I made the cake this morning and it was an easy recipe to follow.  I did not like chopping and peeling the carrots but that is just part of the process.  I will frost the cake this afternoon and my house smells wonderful from the aroma of the cake. I am really looking forward to using the mascarpone and crystallized ginger in the frosting.  I think that will make this cake extra special.

Well, I think it is time to end this post and let the frosting begin.  I hope these cakes will inspire you to start a family tradition of baking in your home too.

Merry Christmas to you and I hope it is a very special day for you and your loved ones.

 

 

Sauerkraut Salad or Vermicelli Salad

The first time I heard of sauerkraut salad, I thought it was a crazy idea.  I have eaten it and it is very tasty.  Of course, if you look at the ingredients you will see it includes lots of sugar.  This would certainly be a conversation piece at a Christmas gathering. I don’t think I have ever eaten vermicelli salad but it sounds interesting.  It has lots of vegetables but it also includes lots of salad dressing.

sauerkraut-salad

In the South on special occasions we usually have potato salad or macaroni salad.  I think either one of the above recipes would be good alternatives.  But if you have a family member that would absolutely DIE if you did not make potato salad, you might need to make potato salad AGAIN!

These recipes are from my “Our Best Oakdale Club, Statesville, NC.  Thanks for stopping by.

Broccoli Casseroles

I know the trend now is fresh vegetables and farm to table menus, however, I love to browse through my old cookbooks and I will find recipes that I really enjoyed.  I was browsing through the St. Stephens Lutheran Church (Hickory NC) cookbook published in 1984.  I purchased the cookbook for 10 cents at a yard sale.  It is very special to me as it belonged to a fellow church member that has passed away.

I remember this type of casserole from that time period and I might even make one of them for our Christmas meal.  They are simple to make but all the flavors blending together make them very tasty.

broccoli-casserole

Probably in 1984 there wasn’t much concern for preservatives or using cream of mushroom soup.  I think women in 1984 wanted to prepare tasty meals for their families and did not feel guilty about taking shortcuts.

Thanks for stopping by.

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