The First Feast

Emma walked into the kitchen. Fresh and pure like the new life she built from the stones cast at her. The stones meant to harm, instead lessons learned to create her new home.

She opened the clean, organized and nearly empty fridge, and grabbed the package of bacon ends, bruised tomatoes, the head of lettuce and mayo jar. She knew what she wanted for her first meal in her little cottage when the produce manager at the McIntosh Grocery, where she worked, let her pick from the discarded fruits and vegetables.

Her only skillet was pulled from the oven, and a burner lit to heat the pan. She tore the bacon open and plopped a handful into the skillet. The hiss, harsh like opening bus doors, protested at the inclusion. Popping grease scattered it’s slick deposit onto the stove and the front of Emma’s shirt. The smoky salt cured smell rose and filled the kitchen with the comforting fragrance. She moved the bacon, crisp and hot, to the 10 cent plate she bought at Goodwill. The skillet was wiped and a slick of flavorful grease left behind, two slices of white bread were toasted in the skillet because she had no toaster.

The dollar store knife pulled from a drawer was used to slice the tomato and she managed to mangle three slices. Two leaves of lettuces torn from the head like pages ripped from a book. The lid spun off the mayo, knife dipped in, a glob drawn from the jar and generously spread over the toasted bread. Next she arranged the bacon on one toast slice to cover edge to edge, then she cloaked the bacon with a lettuce blanket. Finally the mangled tomato slices with their sweet yet savory tang were added and the creation crowned with the final slice of bacon toasted bread.

The bacon plate reused held Emma’s newly created, first meal in Garden Cottage. She moved the plate to the kitchen table and sat down. The cheap knife drawn across the sandwich created two delicious triangles. Lips pursed together and her tongue run across her bottom lip, she anticipated the crisp crunch of the toast as teeth bit into the BLT.

Eyes closed as she slowly chewed the bite. The first of many snacks and feasts brought bittersweet happiness to her. Emma felt the tightness in her limbs dissolve as the awareness of her freedom settled in and she chewed and smiled.

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If you like Emma’s story, you can find more of her story on the page “The Emma Files“. She is a continuing fiction character. Not sure where she is going. She just keeps going.

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Red Writing Hood at Write on edge gave us a great new prompt and it goes like this:

“Plump tomatoes, salty bacon, crisp lettuce, soft bread, this week we want you to be inspired by the BLT. Write a piece of either fiction or creative non-fiction based on this photo.

The word limit is 400.

Use your imagination and appetite and come link up here Friday!


I decided to add a new chapter in Emma’s life and what better way for a fresh start than with a first meal.

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Good(ie) Will to All!

It’s been years since I made Christmas goodies. Please read that again. It’s been years since I made Christmas goodies!

I began following RecipeGirl on Facebook and have enjoyed the wonderful recipes she posts. Then she started posting Christmas goodies recipes. Cookies, peanut brittle and FUDGE! She posted a recipe for Fantasy Fudge and she “commented Super simple fudge recipe- all done in the microwave!” Well, she had me at fudge and then she pushed me over the edge with microwave. THEN she had the nerve to post a recipe for CINNAMON FUDGE and that was all it took to send me into a cooking frenzy.

Thus began the Christmas goodie cook off and the sugar plums danced in my head as I decided I couldn’t stop at fudge I had to make the treats I had made every year for so many years. I quit the annual treat orgy due to expanding waistline , laziness a cease and desist in the family basket exchange. The list came out so I could procure the necessary ingredients for Fantasy Fudge, Cinnamon Fudge, Spritz Cookies, Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies, Chocolate Mint Ritz Cookies, Chocolate and Vanilla Dipped Pretzels.

Yep. All That.

The shopping netted a dining table full of ingredients and the cooking began with the Fantasy Fudge. Ten minutes later, the fudge was in the pan cooling. What? Ten minutes? Then a preparing of the ingredients for the Cinnamon Fudge which I decided to do in the microwave as well and guess what? TEN MINUTES LATER I had a pan of Cinnamon Fudge!

The Spritz cookies began with a good amount of bragging on Facebook at the awesomeness of the fact that I still had my Super Shooter circa 1990 and planned to use it to make my favorite Christmas cookie.

Almost awesome Super Shooter

We all know what happens to people who brag right? They fall and they fall hard. Don’t be harsh because I bragged. The fact is  my Super Shooter was a Zero Shooter. Dead On Assembly. A hurried trip to our local cooking store and I had a new electric cookie press and the cookies were done, divine and delicious (as always).

Done, Delicious and Divine! L to R Chocolate Fudge - Spritz Cookies - Cinnamon Fudge

After a days rest (all creators do this right?) Blossom and I kick phase two of Christmas Goodie into gear. She peanut butters two sleeves of Ritz crackers and I mint frost the other two sleeves. Chocolate melted in microwave, and “held” to the perfect temp with a heating pad underneath the bowl (thanks Alton Brown!), we dipped, dipped and dipped some more. I using the rest of the warm chocolate, I dipped pretzels.

All Dipped and ready to Dive In To!

Mint Slashes!

I was even clever enough to make a mark on the Mint Ritz so we would know which were Mint and which were Peanut Butter.

With an abundance of Christmas goodies and three of us to eat them, tins will be  assembled and treats will be shared. After all, giving is good for the soul and Christmas is the season of Good(ie) Will to All.

Merry Christmas!

Mom’s Chocolate Cake with Glossy Fudge Frosting

I promised Kit @ Blogging Dangerously a cake recipe. The easiest way to share a recipe is to blog about it right?

My mom makes the best Chocolate cake in the world and this is her recipe. The frosting is like chocolate ganache and renders this cake decadent and delicious. To make the frosting you need simple syrup. Fear not! The recipe for the syrup is included at the bottom. I keep a bottle of the stuff around at all times now. Perfect for sweetening iced tea and necessary for making Glossy Fudge Frosting.

MOM’S Chocolate Cake with Glossy Fudge Frosting

preheat oven to 365

  • 10 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon soda
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups flour
INSTRUCTIONS:
In a mixing bowl, combine ingredients in the order given. Mix well and bake in a 9 x 12 greased pan for 35 minutes. Adjust oven temperature next time you make this until it bakes perfectly in 35 minutes.
GLOSSY FUDGE FROSTING:
  • 1/3 cup simple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine (just enough of a baker to know you can sub vegetable or similar light flavored oil)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • OPTIONAL: a dollop of peanut butter or a dash of almond extract adds an extra layer of flavor if you wish

Bring the simple syrup and butter/oil to a boil. Add chocolate chips and stir until chips are melted, then frost your delicious, moist chocolate cake.

SIMPLE SYRUP:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
Combine in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes.  Pour into any jar or bottle of your choosing and lid up. Store in the refrigerator.

Mad Scientist: Sweet Dreams Sweet Potato Casserole

My unfocused, scatter blogging is taking another turn into the world of cooking.  A fellow blogger, A Bloggy Mom  asked followers and friends what they are doing for Thanksgiving and I responded,

“turkey purchased so dinner at my house. Wanna come? I make an awesome gravy and my sweet tater casserole is heaven!”

To which she responded,

“how do you make your sweet potato casserole?”

So, I promised to whip up a new blog post with the recipe included because I’m all about sharing. Especially delicious recipes because what’s the point in being selfish? I’m pretty sure the majority of the people who read my blog can’t come over for Thanksgiving dinner and how else would they get to experience the deliciousness of something I love?

This recipe has it’s roots in one that was gleaned from a newspaper by my Mom years ago. It fast became a family favorite and, thank goodness, because one Thanksgiving tradition I always took a pass on was sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows on top. Gaaag! Oh how I hate that dish. My family really didn’t have a choice since I’m the cook and they don’t get a vote. I made minor changes to make it work better for me and my need to make things my own.

OK time to shut up and put up…. the recipe.

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disclaimer: Not a photo of my cooking. Don’t judge. I only recently started blogging my recipes and don’t have an awesome photo of my delish casserole.


Sweet Dreams Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

  • 3 medium fresh yams or sweet potatoes cooked

(boil in 2 quarts water with half cup of brown sugar until fork tender & drain)
or 29 oz can of sweet potatoes drained

  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • ½ Stick butter or margarine cut into chunks (works best with cold butter)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup milk

Crumb topping:

  • ½ cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions:

Drain sweet potatoes and cut into *bite size pieces.  Put potatoes in bottom of greased casserole dish. (A square glass cake pan or a 2-1/2 qt. round French White Corning Ware casserole dish.)

2.5 qt Corning French White Casserole Dish

Mix all other ingredients and pour over sweet potatoes.

“Shred”  frozen margarine/butter into flour and sugar mixture. ( use large holes on cheese shredder-hat tip to Alton Brown of Good Eats for this tip) Mix with a fork until like coarse crumbs. Add nuts. Then top the casserole with the crumb topping mix. You can get fancy here and arrange some 1/2 pecans on the top to make it pretty. Or not. It still tastes the same.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 then lower temp to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30-40 minutes, then let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

* – Some sweet potato casserole recipes mash the potatoes. I loath mashed potatoes so this option of bite size pieces creates a palatable dish for me.  If you want one of  those recipes, forget about it! Try this one and you will be a convert.

Mad Scientist (Holy Grail Chili)

I’m stepping outside of my normal blog posts here to do something I do everyday. I do it well if I might brag on myself a bit. Something I didn’t include in the description about me is I’m a pretty darn good cook. I have a knack for re-creating recipes into something different and often better then becoming my own. I’m also good at opening the fridge, freezer and pantry and whipping up something new and delicious when I haven’t planned anything for dinner or just feel like something new or different. I’m a bit of a mad scientist when it comes to the kitchen. I’m not in the least bit afraid to put things together and I have a good sense of what will and won’t play nice together.

I’ve been on a quest for years to make the perfect red chili. Each time I’ve made it I’ve adjusted and changed an ingredient here and an ingredient there. Tonights batch is the culmination of my Arthurian Crusade for delicious red chili perfection and I believe I have found my version of the Holy Grail. Nice girl that I am I will share with you today and you may share it as well if you deem it worthy of the title “Holy Grail! Red Chili” .  FYI, I am not a foodie snob when it comes to ingredients. I used canned beans in this recipe which in my opinion stand up just fine in any recipe calling for beans. Besides, it cuts about eight hours off of the cooking time. If you are so inclined, go ahead and cook your own beans up. I won’t judge.

Without further ado, I give you my recipe.

Deb's Holy Grail! Red Chili

Deb’s Holy Grail! Red Chili

  • 1 pound ground beef (I used 80/20)
  • 1 Can Pinto Beans drained and rinsed
  • 1Can Navy (white) Beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Black Beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (8oz) Herdez brand Salsa Verde
  • 2 cans (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper seeded, de-ribbed and chopped
  • 1 small onion (yellow or white is fine) chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp Beef Base
  • 4 Tbsp California Chili Powder (this is the magic spice here – do not go for plain Jane get the California)
  • 2 Tbsp dried cilantro or 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until meat has a nice brown crust on one side ( like a good/flat top grilled fried hamburger)

While meat is cooking combine all remaining ingredients into a large crockpot/slow cooker and mix well. This will be a soupy type base so don’t be doubting my mad cooking skills. Trust me. As soon as meat is done cooking transfer everything in the skillet into the crockpot. Notice, I did NOT tell you to drain the meat. Hey, I didn’t say this was health food; I said it was good! Now stir it up, cover your pot and cook on low for at least 4 hours or on high for 2 hours. I think chili is much happier when it cooks and simmers longer.

When your delicious pot of chili is ready to be consumed, have some side ingredients ready for everyone to add at their will or leisure.

  • Diced Red Onion
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Fresh chopped Cilantro
  • Sliced (in the jar) jalapenos for the daring
Ladle up, trick it out and eat it up! Nom Nom Nom!
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Linking up with Kludgy Mom and her “I love fall food” linky party and give away! I’ve added this new favorite Fall recipes.