Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday greetings

Blooming camellias are a sure sign that winter has come to the south. They are a true gift of the Christmas season. They cannot be bought in a store and begin to bloom just in time for the holidays. These were collected from the neighborhood. It is a southern tradition to always have flowers blooming in the garden and camellia bushes make it possible. I took a walking tour of our neighborhood this morning and realized that nearly every yard has a least one camellia bush. Almost all are different yeilding a fantastic display of dozens of similarly dissimilar flowers.

It's hard to pick a favorite but this week the rose-like "Christmas" floating in the bowl are my favorite. The candy cane striped flowers of a neighbor's bush are a close second.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Eat your heart out!

Every weekend I make no-knead multigrain bread using the recipe offered by Mark Bitman of the NY Times. It's the process that yeilds the product. This lovely loaf has oatmeal, flaxseed and other heart healthy ingredients. The plate? Jugtown pottery from Seagrove Pottery in NC. Artisan bread eaten from an artisan's plate.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Time

Twice this week I've traveled the afore mentioned Chickenfoot Road. It's been a trip of woe for some of God's creatures. Prestage packing plant just outside of St Pauls has been the final destination of many turkey birds this week. Coming and going I've gotten behind the transport trucks. Feathers litter the roadside. I rolled down my window to listen for gobbling. None, friends. As late as today their heads were on the chopping block for American's Thanksgiving dinner. The things I have witnessed as a public school employee...the horror.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pecan Pie

The wind is blowing and the pecans are falling! We have an exchange system that's evolved over the years. Our neighbors have the trees and they do not pick up pecans. We, being humble(not proud) folk, pick them up, have them cracked at Carolina Feed and Grain, pick out the nuts and share. We get to keep most of the pecans and eat them all year. All year, for freeeeee!!! Free trade at it's best.

And now for my very good, very easy (drum roll, please)...

Pecan Pie Recipe:

2 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar (This is my favorite part. Who has Karo in their cupboard?)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons butter
a pinch of salt
1 cup pecans, chopped. (I like them chopped because the pie cuts better. It's your choice.)

Whisk eggs and brown sugar. No lumps. Add vanilla, salt and melted butter. Stir in pecans. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Do not use deep dish crust!

Enjoy with a cup of coffee for breakfast. That's high livin'.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Today's harvest of leaf lettuces will be tomorrow's lunch. The swiss chard will be included in stir fry for dinner. Both were grown from seed. We mulched today to keep winter weeds in check.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fall 2008

The last game of the football season in Brunswick County, NC yeilded a trophy for nephew Charlie. It was a sunny day at the coast, rainy and dreary an hour inland.
Southeastern NC is having a beautiful Fall. I travel Chickenfoot Road to work some days and it's been a pretty commute this week. No deer, though. Sometimes they appear and melt back into the forest as if by magic. Chickenfoot Road is a phenomenon. It spans Cumberland, Robeson and Bladen Counties. It begins off Highway 301 near Hope Mills ending at the Tar Heel Road with the Big Swamp presenting a terminating obstacle to travel. Once upon a time, Bladen and Robeson Counties were formed as travelers couldn't cross the swamp to get to the county seat, Lumberton, because their wagons would get bogged down. On fall mornings the mist from the swamp is an eerie, mystical sight. It doesn't take much imagination to understand why a farmer wouldn't want to get stuck with mule and wagon in Big Swamp.Here Be Monsters! in the form of alligators, bears, snakes and spirts of the moonshinin' sort.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pumpkin Soup

I made pumpkin soup from one of those pumpkins pictured. It made a very yummy lunch with a chicken salad sandwich and beer while sitting in the fall sun in my very own back yard. There are some things other people's money cannot buy and my backyard is one of them.I love sitting at my table, under my tree, in my backyard on a warm fall day.

To make your own pumpkin soup you will need one brutishly strong woman or a medium strong man to deal with the hard-as-a-rock pumpkin. I later considered that bashing it on the driveway would have worked.

Pumpkin Soup
One pumpkin, cubed and peeled
2 Tablespoons butter
Cook in a crock pot for 1 hour (on High)
One onion studded with 3-4 whole cloves
One can of chicken stock and enough water to cover the pumpkin
1 Tablespoon sugar
Cook until pumpkin is mush (about 4 hours on High)
Take the onion out and compost
Puree pumpkin mush and add milk to the consistency you like.

Indian Summer

James Whitcomb Riley. 1853–1916

10. "When the Frost is on the Punkin"

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best, 5
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here— 10
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock— 15
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill; 20
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps 25
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me— 30
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cape Fear

Growing happens in The South. Our garden growing season goes on and on. Here, in October, we're still eating okra, eggplant,swiss chard and peppers. Overlapping into the summer harvest we have broccoli and lettuce. We continue to eat vegetables from our kitchen garden every home cooked meal.

Dicie Ivey demonstrated how tobacco was put on "sticks" for curing at the Cape Fear Botanical garden "Old Timey Day". We're members and go about once every season. It's right off I-95 in Fayetteville, NC where I work. My thanks to Dicie for letting me "hand" one last time. My childhood was all about tobacco. Tobacco drove my parents off the farm, paid for me to go to college, and has crippled more than a few of the people I've known and loved. Witness: I am a reformed cigarette addict. I quit in my 20s after my husband begged me to please start back. I shoulda been hospitalized. I went crazy! I talked for three days straight and was as mean as a cottonmouth. Quiting can be done but it sure isn't fun. I wish there was some productive use for the stuff because the golden leaf really does smell good. Not burning,just a barn full of it.The hit of the day wasn't Dicie though, it was the bluesey bluegrass band, The Parsons of Gray's Creek, NC. Caroline Parsons has a voice words cannot describe and their CD didn't quite capture.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


We've had a sunny, warm weekend in the coastal plain of NC. Big, billowy cumulous clouds form and drift away and the cicada songs rise and fall in crescendo to their ancient mating call. Our garden is in transition. We're still eating eggplant and okra but we've planted cool weather plants: broccoli, rabini, lettuce and this year, parsnips. Soon we'll plant garlic and harvest sweet potatoes. The kittens are becoming independent of their mother now and come for pettings. Rosie, pictured here, is the most affectionate.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kitten update: They are happy, healthy bongies. From bottom left clockwise they are Rosie, Bella and Rambo. Life is bliss if you are a kitten at our house; no worries.
This granddaddy of a writing spider has held our gate hostage for more than two weeks. If we open the gate his contribution to the great works of American literature will be lost for all time. Old timers say if the spider writes your name, you're dead. It is a sure thing that writing spiders signal the coming of Fall.

Is there anything more Southern than okra? Sauteed with onions and sweet peppers with a dash of soy sauce there is no better summer supper. Absolutely divine! And I grew it myself! All it takes is water and heat, which we have had in abundance, to be an okra farmer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sleeping Beauties

Here they are sleeping. Cute, right?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Odds n Ends

This odd house has a partner in Atlanta. They are both made of concrete block. I love them! They are placed on small lots in a funky, transitional neighborhood. You don't have to go far in America to see something unusual. That's one of the wonderful, amazing things about livin' in the USA.

Just a few days later and the kittens are doing the walkabout. They don't go far but they are definitely ready to explore. Still they sleep and eat most of the time and cry for each other when separated. They have exaggerated whiskers that make them look adorable. I'm having fun with them.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Three little kittens under the rosemary bush under the kitchen window! Mama was inside chillin' in the air conditioning. I thought there were only two-wishful thinking I suppose. They are all black with white on their faces and they have blue eyes. Their eyes opened sometime between this morning and this afternoon. I gave them their first pet of a gentle rub on the head. Oh, and check it out, one of them hissed at me. Brave, huh? More later.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New York City!

There is nothing like a trip to Gotham to relieve small town boredom. It's sensory immersion therapy. Do not skip the subway for live entertainment and thrills. I love the subway. I also like riding in cabs watching the endless march of humanity and buildings. I just love it! I'm also ready to come home to green grass, birds chirping and friendly neighbors. Also, my little town does not smell like urine. New York City has toilet issues. Really, ya'll...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Harvest season

Ta da.The garlic harvest is in. 100% home-grown, organic garlic! Too easy. I recommend it for all those timid types afraid of failure. Garlic just does it's thing without being attended to. And then there's Swiss Chard. The other no brainer for novice gardeners. Spinach is not a summer veggie down under but Swiss Chard is a star. Sauteed with garlic or as a salad it is very nice.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Oxford College of Emory was an early May destination. It is an old, beautiful, Southern school in the small town of Oxford, GA which has merged with another charming town, Covington. Pictures really do the job best. The chapel is said to have been a Conferate Hospital for a time. The brick building (left) was built by a Brooklyn, NY businessman after hearing a sermon at Old Church, Oxford, GA during reconstruction. It is now used as the administration building and is central to Oxford's commons. Our next graduation will be an Emory University affair. So long Oxford, for now.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Atlanta's Gem

According to some who think Southern, Atlanta is mecca second only to The Beach. It doesn't matter which beach because down here every beach is The Beach. For example: "What are you doin' over Easter?" "We're goin' to The Beach." It's is a big deal down here, Easter at The Beach. It has to do with some fantasy that it's warm enough to go swimming and get a suntan. No matter that it is 50 degrees outside and you gotta be stoned out of your mind not to know it. By the way, Florida does not count except in presidential elections. That's my punny for the month: Florida can't count.

Back to Atlanta...

Some would liken Atlanta to the New York of The South. Not. There is only one New York just as there is only one Rome and there is only one Altanta though I must say I am not charmed. I'm trying, but traffic is hell down there every day. It is dysfunctional. How can you have rush hour traffic on Easter Sunday when the malls are closed and no one is going to work? Atlanta has the answer to that question.

Now that I've cut Atlanta to the quick I must say they have a real gem of a botanical garden. Getting there is a real nail-bitter as their mid-town traffic rivals mid-town Manhattan. The difference is in mid-town Manhattan you are riding in a cab with a professional driving. In Atlanta there are no professional bluffers who know when to back off, only terrorized passengers praying for their lives. Atlanta's pedestians seem totally oblivious to the fact that they are not in Rome (I am not talking about Rome, Ga.) and that Southerns do not know the rules about pedestrians having right of way. Ya'll. It is scary. Inside the garden all is grace and beauty, better than The Beach. It's all about orchids this week at Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Next week Spring will burst forth all over the South and no doubt Atlanta Botanical Gardens will be worth the trip for months to come.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

They're Back!

Cold mornings and shirt sleeve afternoons are the way of our early southern Spring. The past two Fall seasons I've planted daffodils that bloom just in time. Just in time to lift the spirits, delight the eye and bring relief from the brown that dominates winter. They are a mighty fine distraction and remind us that warmer days are coming.

Bulbs of the edible variety have come on strong this year due to timely rains. Felder Rushing, advises in "The North Carolina Fruit and Vegetable Book" that garlic needs an inch of rain per week. This year's crop is amazing compared to last year's harvest, assuming there are garlic bulbs growing beneath those greens. I planted them in September and October and am hoping for a harvest that will carry me forward into next winter.
Felder has his own website that is informative and fun. What I want to know is how a Mississipian came to co-author a book on North Carolina gardening?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Day

It's a peaceful, sunny day in the land-down-under USA. It's warm, there's a gentle breeze and the garden grows broccoli, herbs and lettuce. Garlic has sprouted and the turnips are weedy. We are harvesting and sharing broccoli with neighbors. Two nights ago we sat on a neighbors front porch while dining and enjoyed the gentle music of rain. Rain! It's back, we hope.

Our recent rains remind me of my trip to St. Johns with my sister Anne. Rain is the island's sole source of fresh water and is cause of celebration. The islanders have sayings,truisms, regarding rain:

Rain falls on every man's doorstep.
Into everyone's life rain must fall.
No rain, no rainbow.

Here's to a peaceful, New Year with rain of the tangible sort only. Salude.