Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Delta Memories.........

Our trip to Greenville this weekend brought back memories from my "growing up years" .....farmers, on tractors with discs trailing behind them, were stirring up the dust, as they readied their fields for another season. In some places, early planted corn had already begun to break through the dirt. The rows of freshly turned black soil stretched, it seemed, to eternity. The black dirt, termed "gumbo" because it sticks to your shoes when wet, has a smell like no other when it's freshly plowed. Even dirt can smell fresh and clean when it's newly dug, in the Spring.

In the fall, I love the rows and rows of white cotton - ready for the pickers. In years gone by, those pickers were human with cotton sacks dragging behind them .....and their hands were often scratched and bloody from the pricks of the cotton bolls.

As they bent low, over the stalks of cotton, they had their own rhythm about them as they grabbed each fluffy white ball and thrust it into their sack. If one stood quietly, you could hear them singing or chanting as they pulled the cotton from the stalk. They often sang their own music, but how wonderful to hear the strains of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" as they worked the rows. Their singing seemed to help keep them at a steady pace even as they worked in the sweltering heat of the Delta summer sun.

Once full, the sacks were weighed, the poundage recorded, and the cotton dumped into a trailer sitting at the end of the long rows. The pickers were paid, by the pound, at the end of each week. Today, people wouldn't work for the pittance they made. In today's world, they've been replaced by automation, and the rows and rows of worker shanties, at the end of the plantation rows, have been replaced by memories.....

Memories from the pages in the "Memory Book in my Mind".......

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dumplings ....the easy way!!

3 or 4 chicken breast
4 cans of refrigerator biscuits
2 cans Swanson Chicken Broth
Flour
Salt and Pepper

(1) Fill dutch oven 1/2 full of water, add chicken, salt, and pepper
(2) Boil chicken until done
(3) Remove chicken from the pot, reserving the chicken stock (broth created from boiling the chicken)
(4) Debone chicken and cut into bite size pieces
(5) Add one can of Swanson Chicken broth to the chicken stock
(6) Bring to a boil
(7) Sprinkle flour onto a cutting board
(8) Open can of biscuits, dust each biscuit with flour and roll thin with a rolling pin.
(9) Cut biscuits into strips and then into small bite sized pieces (each biscuit should make about 12 - 15 pieces)
(10) Drop pieces of biscuits into boiling chicken broth.
(11) Continually stir gently to prevent sticking and reduce heat to medium.
(12) Salt and pepper to taste
(13) When all the biscuits have been added to the broth, add chicken
(14) Turn heat to low and cook for 10 - 15 minutes longer
(15) "Taste test" for doneness - don't overcook or dumplings will become tough.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Grandpa and Granny Walker (C. L. and Annie Catherine Gibson Walker)
and four of the eight children:

L to R: Horace Lamar, (my dad), Hilma Jane, Howard I., and Thomas Ray

This picture might have been taken in 1918
or 1919. My dad appears to be about 9 or 10,
and he was born in 1909.

Smelly Feet

If you're plagued with "smelly feet" you can do one of the following:

(1) Soak your feet in Vodka (seriously)
(2) Soak your feet in Apple Cider Vinegar
(3) Brew some strong tea and soak

      Family members gathered on the steps of Granny's old house on Fellowship Road - April, 2003.
      Front Row L to R: Sydney Gary, Emma Nicholson, Jordan Gary
      Second Row L to R: Jimmy Nicholson, Pat Nicholson, Robbie Gorrell Gary, Tianni
      Nicholson Rowley holding 4 month old  Matthew, Aunt Mary Walker, Sue Hodge (sitting on
      porch)
      Third Row L to R: Patricia Walker Ashley, Sarah Walker Gorrell, Morgan Nicholson
      Fourth Row L to R: Aunt Lovell Boyd Walker, Aunt Virginia Walker Kelly, Peggy Hodge Owens
      Back Row L to R: Chris Gary, Bob Gorrell, Johnny Walker, Howard Nicholson (d),
      Adam Nicholson (hidden), James Walker Hodge, Amanda Boykin, Wanda Owens
      Boykin, Keith Walker                                                       
     
   

Jimmy, before the Guest House .....March 15, 2010

This morning, memories of Jimmy in his "better days" flood my mind. Those were days when he wasn't fighting cancer, when he could carry on an intelligent conversation, when he talked of golf or "grocery shopping".

These days, his family grapples with the fact that he will soon have to be in a facility where his care can be managed 24/7. This decision, although necessary, hasn't been an easy one for Pat and Tianni.

These are the days when he shouldn't be left alone and when hospice nurses have become a part of the weekly routine. Days when we're glad that we have memories stored, in the pages, in the 'Memory Book of our Minds'.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

In happier times, the cousins and few remaining aunts gathered on the front porch steps of Granny's old house for a photo.

Howard and his family had stopped by, on their way back home to Iowa, from a Spring Break trip to Florida. Just months earlier, he had been diagnosed with Colon Cancer with a grim prognosis.

So many memories of this house, and the people who lived and visited there, are stored in the minds of the people gathered on these steps.



Front Row L to R: Aunt Ginny, Aunt Lovell, Aunt Mary
Middle Row L to R: Howard (d), Patricia, Sarah and Jimmy
Back Row L to R: Johnny, Peggy, Keith and James Walker

Rum Balls

1 1/4 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp Cocoa powder
2 Tbsp Light Corn Syrup (Karo)
1/4 cup rum or bourbon

(1) Mix vanilla wafers, pecans, powdered sugar and cocoa powder
(2) Add Karo syrup and rum and mix well
(3) Chill in refrigerator
(4) Shape into 1 inch balls
(5) Roll in powdered sugar

No baking required.
Store in airtight container and enjoy!

John's Crock Pot Pork Chops and Potato Casserole

4 boneless pork chops
4 medium size potatoes
1 can Cream of Potato Soup
1 soup can of milk
1 soup can of water
Small onion, chopped
2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
Salt and Pepper
Flour
Cooking Oil (I use Olive Oil)

Cover bottom of skillet with cooking oil and heat.

(1) Season chops with salt and pepper
(2) Cut pork chops into bite sized pieces
(3) Dredge cut chops in flour
(4) Saute chopped onion in heated oil and brown chops, lightly
(5) Drain browned chops and onions
(6) Peel and cut potatoes into bite sized pieces
(7) Put chops and potatoes into crock pot
(8) Mix potato soup with milk and water
(9) Pour soup mix over chops and potatoes
(10) Cook on low for 8 hours

Just prior to serving, remove crock pot lid and sprinkle cheddar cheese over top. As soon as the cheese melts, you're ready to eat.

Variation:
Add one can of drained whole kernel corn to the casserole.

Pineapple and Lime Jello Salad

1 small box Jello (I use Sugar Free)
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 - 8 oz pkg cream cheese - softened
2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
1 cup Cool Whip
1 small can crushed pineapple - drained
1/4 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries

(1) Pour boiling water over jello and stir until dissolved
(2) Put into refrigerator and chill until it begins to set up. (This can also be put into freezer so that it can begin to chill quickly, then moved to fridge until it sets.)
(3) Mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise and Cool Whip
(4) After jello begins to set, add pineapple, nuts and cherries
(5) Fold cream cheese mixture into jello.

Pour into pretty bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Pineapple Lime Jello Salad

1 large can crushed pineapple - undrained (no sugar added)
2 Tbsp sugar (I use Splenda)
1/8 tsp. salt
1 - 3 oz. pkg Lime Jello (I use Sugar Free)
1 - 8 oz. pkg Cream Cheese

(1) Mix pineapple, sugar and salt in saucepan
(2) Heat to boiling
(3) Stir in jello and mix well
(4) Add cream cheese and stir until dissolved

Pour into dish and refrigerate until set.

Variations:

Add 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese after mixture begins to set.
Add some chopped maraschino cherries for color.

Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter - softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 bananas - mashed
2 eggs - beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (I use self-rising)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup chopped nuts - optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 9" x 5" loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray

(1) Cream butter and sugar
(2) Add beaten eggs, vanilla and buttermilk
(3) Add flour to mixture
(4) Stir in mashed bananas
(5) Add nuts if desired

Pour into pan and bake for 1 1/4 hours (glass loaf baking dish only requires 1 hour). Test with toothpick to determine if done.

Cool on wire baking rack.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake is very moist. The secret is to move it directly to the freezer, for 45 minutes, from the oven. If using a glass baking dish, I advise putting the dish on a cookie sheet to avoid breakage.

1 1/2 cups of ripe bananas - mashed
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 cups flour (I use self-rising)
3/4 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar (I use Splenda)
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk


Frosting:
1/2 cup butter - softened
1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese - softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 275 degrees (temperature is low - but it works well!)
Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan or dish with non-stick spray.

(1) Mash bananas and mix with lemon juice.
(2) Cream butter and sugar.
(3) Beat eggs with whisk, and add vanilla
(4) Add eggs and vanilla to butter and sugar mixture.
(5) Add buttermilk
(6) Slowly, add flour to above mixture, and mix well.
(7) Add mashed bananas.

Pour cake into pan and bake at 275 for 1 hour. Test with toothpick to determine if the cake is done. Remove from oven and immediately put into freezer for 45 minutes. If baking in a glass baking dish, put the hot dish on a cookie sheet before putting into the freezer.

Frosting:  Cream softened butter and softened cream cheese, add vanilla. Slowly add powdered sugar to the butter and cream cheese mixture. Continue beating with mixer.

When the cake has cooled, frost with the cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle chopped pecans or walnuts over the cake, if desired.