Thursday, December 31, 2009

Peas and Carrots

The fall peas were a bust. But the carrots! Wow. What a surprise. And they taste good too! A happy ending to this year of gardening. The variety I planted is Short 'N Sweet. They're short, roundish and, as advertised, very sweet. I just love it when success is so easy.
Our New Year tradition lives on with dinner and a movie with friends and family. North Carolina shrimp are on the menu. May your New Year be mostly laughter and smiles to carry you along the way. Night y'all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Southern Chocolate Layer Cake

Jonathan and I made this beautiful, delicious, Southern cake then invited friends over for dessert and a fire. I'd never made one as they can be bought made by women who want some extra cash at Christmas. I'm so glad we did it. Jane, a backdoor neighbor, told us that her grandmother made these cakes for her children as their birthday cake. It was before fancy store-bought birthday candles so she made a layer for every year. Perhaps that's the origin of these marvelous cakes. It's for sure they are special occassion cakes.
There are many recipes for this cake on the internet. Ours was possibly the richest version out there: cream, butter, dark chocolate. All are good. Try one and be sure to share.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Parsley,sage, rosemary and thyme

Parsley doesn't like the cold but it somehow survives it with a covering of pinestraw and mulch. It gets used all winter, like thyme, because it's there.

The very best use I've found for parsley is Lemon Parsley Viniagrette, a bright and tangy dressing.

Lemon Parsley Viniagrette

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1/2 cup parsley leaves
Whir it with an immersion blender.

Monday, December 7, 2009

World's Smallest Pecans

We are convinced that our neighborhood was once a pecan orchard. There are very large, old trees in almost every yard. I can see them out of every window in my house. Perhaps there was once a pecan tree give-away program. Most people are too busy to pick them up and leave them but just a few minutes on three separate occassions Scott and I picked up these tiny nuggets of Southern delight.
Pecans require cross pollination so there are different nuts in every orchard. They also bear strong bi-annually. Some years we sell, some years we save all we collect. We are keeping all we gather this year. No one wants these small nuts. They are hell to crack. It must be done by hand; no taking them off to Carolina Feed and Grain for the automatic cracker as they defie modern machinery slipping through and coming out the other side whole. It takes time and patience to tease them out. It's the patience part that gets me. I am highly sensitized to this chore. It was mine for many years using every primitive device invented. My personal favorite to hate was the cast iron figure of a squirrel. The nut was placed in his jaw and the tail was the lever used for cracking. I squashed more than I cracked. There is so much oil in pecans that they become mush if pressed too hard. Combined with the bitter pith they are oh so bad. But, if one can get past the obstacles of gathering, cracking, and picking out the nuts these tiny meats are the tastiest of them all.