Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sweet Potato Pudding and River Trip

We did our annual day after Thanksgiving Lumber River State Park trip. No Katie. No Hanna. No Jonathan. No Richard. No one from Richard's family. We missed them all. But. Will came with Ahsley and the originating parents of the day were there. Neil Lee, park superintendent,came by to check on our tradition. It was a beautiful fall day. We found Indian artifacts and talked with Neil about the ancient people who might have camped and hunted on the high bluff now called Princess Ann. We cooked over a fire and canoed on the river.

I'm sharing a sweet potato pudding recipe because it is the BEST.

Sweet Potato Pudding

2 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
2 cups sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract

Pour into a greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Greens and Ham

We've had mustard greens several times lately. Pork, greens and sweet potatoes go together like peas and carrots. Sweet potatoes are ubiquitous this time of year and I am a failed sweet tater farmer. So I buy them. It makes no sense to grow something badly when there are eaier things that do well. Mustard is a shade of green that is quite pretty in the garden.
Broccoli heads are slowly forming. Some of the collards are ready to eat except that the key weather element, frost, has not come our way yet. Southern lore has it that collards are extremely bitter before frost. I grew some broccoli rabe once that I forced myself to eat. Gack. It was one of those moments in personal history that shouldn't have happened. Scott put down his fork and watched in silence. I'm still recovering. No way I'm going to try unfrosted collards.
The lettuces are in different stages. It's fun to watch them change from tiny shoots to fully developed plants. Lettuce is the best bang for the buck in our fall garden. A $1.00 packet of seeds will surely grow $100.00 worth of lettuce. Ridiculously easy and fabulously tastey. When you grow your own lettuce, you can harvest the outside leaves as they mature and leave the plant to continue forming new leaves. Much better than just cutting off the whole head like farmers have to do. The salad bowl of America is not in California, it's in your own backyard y'all.

Parsley Lemon Vinagrette

1/4 to 1/2 cup parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teapsoon dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil

Whir it all together in a blender or with a magic kitchen wand. So good.

Note: The elaborate fencing/netting is to protect the lettuces from frost and cats. There is a huge plastic sheet, not seen, that can be pulled over the bed when the temperatures fall below 40 to protect the plants. The cats are brats. The other strategy to keep them out of the garden is wheat straw. As it degrades it becomes very slimey and they hate it. Me to. It is weird.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

It is a day Americans set aside for somber reflection.

My father was 22 years old when he joined the Army Air Force. His older brothers had already enlisted. By the end of World War II my grandmother had sent all four of her boys to fight. Two were airmen, the other two infantry. All were injured and they rarely spoke the war in mixed company. Once I mustered up the courage and asked my father about the long scar that ran the length of his right arm. He described his plane crash, the hours following and the good folks who took him in on the night of his crash. He didn't crash in battle, he crashed running night flight trials over the dark skies of Mississippi with no moon and no instrumentation to guide him. The people who saved his life were negro sharecroppers who lived in a shack. He spent six months in the hospital in Mississippi.

My father never stopped loving airports and planes. When we were very young he'd take us to the observation deck of the municipal airport in Charleston, SC and let us look at the planes through his big, heavy, Army issue binoculars.
The war memorial at Lumberton Municipal Airport requires one to park and go through the terminal to the landing strip side of the terminal. It has been at the airport for as far back as my memory goes. Tom and Charlie are among those listed on the memorial. Good men who served a good cause.

When my father died I found the newspaper announcement of his transfer to Greenville, Mississippi in his bedside Bible in the New Testament book of St. Matthew. His mother had saved it. It is now folded into my childhood Bible in the same spot. It is the story of the birth of Jesus. A deeply religious woman, Myrtle Rose knelt in prayer by her bed every night before bed. I have imagined her praying for her sons all away at war and wondered at their strength and courage. The scripture she chose to have read at her funeral was from Micah 6:8, "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"