Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Helpful kitchen mat

Sometimes I just miss out on new things (and this might not be new), but my daughter had this very cool dish drying mat when I visited her last weekend. She had been using dish towels for washing dishes and letting her clean dishes drain a bit before putting them up.

Now she has these pretty drying mats that look nice and neat and are much better than dish towels. She bought them at WalMart and when I complimented her mats, she bought one for me, too. I must admit that I love it. I just can't decide which side is better. I pictured the patterned side but the soft gray side is very nice and is probably the more absorbent side. Also, it looks good on my gray counter.

For all those who make these simple things that appear in stores and make my life a little more pleasant. Thanks so much! This is just $3.99 and is something I must have from now on since I do cook often and things like my Vitamix blender can't go in the dishwasher. Thanks to my daughter for the lovely little mat.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My new book

I will start by saying this is a great book! It was given to me by my Master Gardening Mentor and I am loving it. It tells you what to do, month-by-month for Georgia for all the different things that are growing in your yard, garden and more.

It traveled with me last weekend to my daughter's house and we really enjoyed looking through it to find out what we should be doing in January.

If you thought the answer to that might be sitting by the fire, the answer would be no. We learned we needed to fertilize, mulch and spray her fruit trees. This gave her so much peace of mind that she has decided to order one of these books for herself.

If you like having a "To-Do" gardening list you could also subscribe to Walter Reeves website because he sends out a month-by-month to-do list. I will say there is more information on each topic in addition to the list which makes the book even more valuable, but the list is great--and really great for new gardeners!

What a wonderful gift and I am looking forward to having a gardening mentor and keeping up with what I need to do month by month.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gluten-free fried chicken

I almost never fry chicken, but I am working on gluten-free recipes right now, and I was thinking that fried chicken might be something a person on a gluten-free diet might like. At least every now and then.

It was so simple to do. I just soaked the chicken in buttermilk, added salt and pepper and then dredge the chicken in a flour mixture of 1 cup potato starch and 1/4 cup sorghum flour. I just fried it like normal fried chicken and I will say it was the crispiest chicken I have ever made.

The great thing is that potato starch is not hard to find and sorghum is easier to find than it used to be. If you want to have a person who must not eat gluten over to dinner, try this main dish. It would probably work if you substituted almond milk for the buttermilk, too.

Fried chicken is not on my normal menu because I don't really think it is a healthy dish but this is really great and crispy and shocked my family because it was so good. It's also another way that a person allergic to wheat can have a great classic southern dish.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Love those seed catalogs

Favorite thing to do during cold weather--look at seed catalogs and dream of spring.

I received one every day for the last few single digit days.

I have found a number of places to look at these catalogs. First on my treadmill, trying to walk off some of the extra pounds I gained at Christmas.

Next is to avoid watching reruns on TV at night.

And there is waiting at the doctors office or at any other place if I take my bag of catalogs, I can pull them out and dream of warm sunny days in the garden.

It is very helpful for planning and also for passing the time while stuck inside during cool winter days. There is still time to call and order your favorite or sign up online.

Pruning for All Seasons

If you are like me, you can't get outside and work in the yard and the first chore at my house will definitely be pruning. I can't say that I love it but I can say that it helps keep my shrubs and bushes looking neat and tidy and doesn't let things get away from me.

On Tuesday evening, January 14 at 7:00 pm, the Coweta County Master Gardener Extension Volunteers (MGEVs) will be presenting “Pruning for All Seasons” at the Backyard Association (BYA) meeting at the Coweta County Extension Office.  

This meeting will provide an overview of pruning to include why you should or should not prune, when to prune specific plants and how to prune them.  

The Backyard Association is an educational program sponsored by the Coweta County Master Gardener Extension Volunteers (MGEVs). The presentations are free to the public and are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Coweta County Extension Office, 255 Pine Road, Newnan.  

Call the Extension Office at (770) 254-2620 for reservations and to register for door prizes--and they have some really great door prizes, too.

I plan to be there but I just can't decide to let them know I am a "crepe murderer." I probably will just remain silent and hope they don't drive by my house.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Leftovers from New Year's Day? Try this.

I usually have leftovers after New Year's Day and I throw them out a few days later. Every year I think I should do something with the leftovers so they don't go to waste. I really didn't make this a resolution, but I am taking action.

I decided I would come up with my version of New Year's Day Leftover Soup. I hated to use the word leftover in the title because I know that it would immediately turn some of you off, but really, don't you think leftovers deserve a special place in the history of cookery? Maybe even an honored place. There are so many recipes that start out with leftovers. Think croutons, bread pudding and vegetable soup. That is why I have decided to embrace the word and think of it as a good, or even great thing.

Here is my first recipe of the year, using leftovers and I dedicate this to all the cooks who used leftovers to make something new and tasty. My husband really liked it, too.

New Year's Day (Leftover) Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 2 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
5 cups water
1 tablespoon vegetarian better than bouillon (or 2 to 3 bouillon cubes)
5 cups leftover collards
4 cups leftover black-eyed peas
1 pound ham, cut into cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce (Like Texas Pete or Tabasco) to taste

In a large pot add 1 tablespoon and sauté the onion, garlic, celery and carrots until they are soft and the onions are clear. Add water and bouillon mix and stir. Heat through and add the collards, peas and ham. Salt and pepper and add hot sauce until it is perfect.

I actually didn't have to add any salt at all to mine since the leftovers were already salted.

Serve this with leftover cornbread and you will have a very nice and healthy soup for the new year. You can easily make this from scratch but it will take longer and fresh collards are an exceptional dish!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Catching up

I have been so busy lately with a number of projects that I haven't had time to update you on what is happening.

This year my daughter and I will be publishing a new gluten-free cookbook. We are so excited that it is almost completed--more than excited, really. It has been very work intensive and we have been cooking and testing for a number of months. Frankly, I am exhausted!

The holidays gave us some new opportunities to bake gluten-free goodies and above are the mostly gluten-free desserts we made for Thanksgiving and we made even more for Christmas and I have taken so many photos for the cookbook.

Above, the fruit and the pecan pies weren't gluten free but the rest--chocolate, pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot cakes were gluten-free. Best of all, no one complained and asked me why I would do such a thing. I had mostly good reviews, smiles and full tummies from my family and guests.

I did decide to decorate using green plants from my landscape. Above, a magnolia, pine, camellia and ivy centerpiece.

I even scavenged from family member's yards!

 I did love the Christmas centerpiece made from green plants. My new favorite plant to use in fresh arrangements: Variegated Japanese Acuba, Acuba japonica. I know I will be using more and more fresh green plants from my yard in other arrangements. It is great and SO cheap!

I trimmed my mother's plants and used it in everything. It was great because it stayed fresh a very long time and it is quite showy in arrangements.

I also tried to cook a crockpot gluten-free green bean casserole. I bought Progresso gluten-free soup and fried my own onion rings. It was SO terrible. I tried another recipe, making my own mushroom soup mix and it was better but I am still going to have to work on this recipe. It won't even be in the new cookbook. But, I will guarantee that I will eventually have a recipe that is good.

That's about all. I hope your holidays were wonderful and you have a very blessed New Year!!