Friday, December 16, 2022

A Pretty Failure


Isn't this Cranberry-Orange Christmas Bread pretty?


I baked it, same as I did three Decembers ago.

I got out pretty plates and old silver and my favorite vintage Christmas tea towel. Lit a candle, borrowed a few old Christmas trees from my Christmas forest.

Set it all up for pictures with a sinking feeling in my heart because last time I made it the batter rose and rose. 

This one didn't. Still, I covered it with the glaze and thought,

     It'll probably taste good anyway.

I took my pictures. We sat down to eat the cake that fell but was going to taste yummy anyway.

Only it didn't.

The resident skunks and possums got the soggy mess and I got the dirty dishes from making it. 

But it was pretty, wasn't it? And I am going to make it again!

It's from Romantic Homes magazine, December 2015. I couldn't find a link to the recipe or any other recipes that came close to the ingredients but if it turns out well the next time I make it I'll post the recipe here.

Whatever happened to Romantic Homes magazine anyway?

Have you ever had a pretty failure?



Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Man and The Turkey


The man above is my father, the picture probably taken either by my mother or one of my sisters who sent it to me.

I believe he loved Thanksgiving Day better than any other holiday, except maybe Easter. 

Of course it was my mother who planned and prepared the food and the table for all holidays. Wish I had a Thanksgiving Day picture of her for here. 

They were a great cooking team, especially when he was cooking outside. He was a superb outdoor cook, both on his grill or his smoker.  

I actually don't remember Daddy washing dishes as they accumulated on Thanksgiving Day in the kitchen. It was a different time then; sorry RH, you missed out on that.

But he was always in the kitchen helping Mama that day, after he'd come home from cooking at the Men's Breakfast at church where he'd fried the stacks of country ham slices for the crowd. 

One of my treasured memories is being outside with clippers on a cold dark day, gathering snippets of shrubbery for the table centerpiece, and looking up to the kitchen window and seeing Daddy and Mama working together in the kitchen, and my younger sisters through the glass door to the den, maybe watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on television. 

It was one of those rare moments as a teenager when my thoughts turned from my own important personal world to seeing my family as I would a Rembrandt painting--a lump in my throat, struck by the beauty of them all. 

The picture of Daddy above, with Mama's traditional Thanksgiving dishes set around the turkey he was about to carve, strikes me the same way right now and makes me miss this man so very much. It was a Thanksgiving when they lived a great distance away from RH and me and our family so I was not there. 

I'm thankful this day before Thanksgiving Day for the years I was there with my mother and father and three younger sisters.


Monday, November 21, 2022

Cranberry Sauce and Thanksgiving Day Cards


I love getting cards in the mail. Do you?

And they're rarer than hen's teeth in 2022. I used to be a prolific card-sender and always sent Thanksgiving Day cards to our adult children and my parents. I think I got that gene from my mother who was a card-sender extraordinaire.

And I always addressed all my Christmas cards on Thanksgiving Day night after the cleanup was finished, personal messages to be added in the following weeks. Just me and a good Christmas movie and several boxes of cards, my address book, and always the current USPS Christmas stamps. 

But now? It's been two years since I've sent Christmas cards and I don't know how many since Thanksgiving cards. And I'm ashamed of that. Maybe if I get out all my leftover Christmas cards from over the years and send them no one will remember they got the same one many years ago.

But I do have a stack of Thanksgiving cards set around the house. All sent us by our one and only daughter, another prolific card-sender, even as busy a career woman as she is.  She sent us the card in the first picture last year. I love a pop-up card as much as a three year old! This year the card is sitting in the living room instead of on my kitchen shelves but I need to dust that table before taking a picture of it. 

I've exhausted that subject (and my readers) so I'll make short shrift of the subject of Cranberry Sauce.

Simply put, making the first Cranberry Sauce of November makes me happier than makes good sense. 

From the time I wash them and put those ruby red jewels in the pan...

 And watch them gel, smelling spices from the cave of Ali Baba...

 To Open Sesame! they go into the fridge to be used on omelets and entrees long before Thanksgiving Day that requires a fresh batch.

No can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for me although one of my most pinned pictures on Pinterest is this ad in my Ads That Sold board by the iconic company showing Mother serving Grandmother slices of cranberry sauce on a silver salver while Father carves the turkey for four generations gathered at the dining table.

 There, I've paid homage to the second in my trinity of Thanksgiving favorites, Cornbread Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, and Pies (Chess and Pecan being my favorite although I make some darn delicious Pumpkin Pies too).

My recipe for the Cranberry Sauce included here at a post at Dewena's Window back in the day, when I also showed a new haircut.

That's all for today. Please don't underestimate the joy that a card in the mailbox brings your senior citizens, and please forgive said senior citizen when she has a mental block about sending out cards herself. Just remember that she did it for many a decade. Thank you. I love you! 

[Day after Thanksgiving 2022: including a picture of this year's Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce that was so much prettier than the one above--I cooked it at a lower temperature because I wanted it more saucy and less gelled. So good!]



Thursday, November 17, 2022

My Cornbread Dressing and Two Grand-Doggies


I probably should have cropped RH's leg out of this picture but who's going to notice it anyway with our two beautiful granddaughters in it?

This picture is from last year's Thanksgiving Day that was held at Zack and Court's house (our old Valley View). That's their handsome Forest posing with the girls. 

I had to post this picture first because I couldn't lead off a post with a package of meat, could I?


This is a post of one of three dishes I took last year to Thanksgiving at Zack and Court's house because the younger set is now doing the cooking. There are three things I still make or it just wouldn't seem like Thanksgiving to me or RH.

The Cornbread Dressing, the Cranberry Sauce, and a couple of pies--Chess and Pecan. Here they are, for myself and RH and perhaps for Mimi's Family Cookbook someday for grands and great-grands.

For wonderfully rich turkey stock, rub the turkey parts of your choice with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast till golden. These could have stayed in the oven a little longer.

Put them in a stock pot with carrots, celery, onions, and garlic.

 Add water (distilled water makes the clearest stock), fresh herbs you still have growing outside, salt, whole black pepper pods, bay leaves, any dried herbs you want to include. Cook all day long.

And you have beautiful stock at the end of the day! Strain and store in fridge for up to five days or freeze for longer.

 Make two pans of buttermilk cornbread the day before Thanksgiving and sit unwrapped till next day. Hopefully you have made buttermilk biscuits a few weeks earlier and frozen 6-8 of them, set out to thaw, unwrap to dry. Add 4 slices good white bread. Let all the bread dry on Thanksgiving Day morning by crumbling on clean tea towels for several hours.

Melt two sticks butter in saute pan, add 3 cups chopped onion, 1 1/2 cups chopped celery and sauté, stirring until soft, not brown.

[I wash celery when I bring it home from grocery, dry well and chill so it's ready to use.]

[Also good to wash a bunch of parsley and dry well early before chopping. Dressing is one time I use curly parsley instead of Italian.]

 Add 3 tablespoons dried sage or more to crumbled breads in a very large bowl, 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning, 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, a dash of mace, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Also add some chopped fresh sage if you have it. 

Stir in the sautéed vegetables and 1 cup minced fresh parsley. 


Stir in 2 cups of the rich broth (warmed up), and stir in 2 beaten eggs. 

Add more stock if needed to be of pancake batter consistency. You don't want it to be soupy but not dry either. 

Bake at 375 degrees F. for about 40 minutes, maybe a little longer if it looks like it needs it. Don't dry it out.


Sprinkle with chopped fresh Italian parsley when serving.

Excellent hot with a dab of cranberry sauce. I don't even need turkey if I have these two things.

This was my mother's dressing, with a few changes I've made over the years. I would eat hers in a heartbeat if she were still here to cook it. 

To end with another picture from last Thanksgiving Day other than food, here is another of Zack and Court's fur babies, Peanut Buttah, a rescue from a hurricane in Puerto Rico a few years ago. She's had several eye surgeries and still doesn't see much but she doesn't need to as Zack sees for her.


Happy Thanksgiving Day prep to my U.S. friends and family!


[Dressing from Thanksgiving Day 2022--It's so much prettier in a glass baking dish!]




Friday, November 4, 2022

10 Years of Blogging for Ballast

 On November 1, 2012 I began blogging here on Across the Way.

It's brought me so much joy, the joy of creating and the joy of friendships and the joy of glimpses into other women's lives. 

It's helped me to recognize myself when at times I believed no one else did. And now, at an age when so many seniors feel invisible, that can be even more true.

And so I hope to continue blogging as long as I can. This is not another post under my Blogging label used 13 times that is to announce some foolish change. I'm not announcing a blogging break or that I'm blogging but turning off comments like I've done ad nauseam here and at Dewena's Window over the years.

As I read back through my previous posts under the Blogging label, I was so embarrassed. What nonsense! There was only one post under the Blogging label that still rings true, March 1, 2013's Blogging for Ballast. [Here.] The three reasons for blogging I gave there are still true for me.

So many who left comments agreed with me and had their own experience to share. Last night I took the time to go to the blog of each one if they had a blog and found that of the 26 people, only 9 seemed still to be currently blogging. So it seems likely that each one assessed their own relationship with blogging and moved on to accommodate their own needs. Probably many are now on Instagram. 

I'm on Instagram but I only follow others. I love watching some of the reels that are of movie production quality but have you seen the hundreds of thumbs down that even the best get? What is wrong with people? I just can't quite get up my nerve to begin posting, or the know how to do it.

I didn't lead an exciting life to blog about when I began blogging 10 years ago. And I lead an even less exciting life now, thank God. 

When I post pictures on my blogs now you may spot a cobweb or a dusty lamp. I don't vacuum anymore, RH does every couple of weeks and he spends hours doing it thoroughly. I rotate through the house, polishing at least one piece of furniture a day because I love polished furniture, I ordered wonderful long handled tools by Oxo that help seniors clean that I love to use, I love to putter around the house and try to follow the Mount Vernon method of cleaning so that eventually everything gets done (RH doing the lower regions). 

I cook a whole lot! I like to cook and I like to eat and I like to eat at a pretty table. And I've learned to make it easy on myself by washing up as I go, and I start the dishwasher every night even if it's half empty. 

I don't attempt to do seasonal decorating in whatever new style is being done online. If anything, it has now become Granny Style, and not even Granny Chic.

 A bagful of fake fall leaves garland, etc. that I was given go out on the front porch with our collection of primitive crocks and chairs. And they didn't even get dusted this fall.

I'm not going to embarrass myself or you and go on in this slant because that would be further ad nauseam. The truth is, I love my life! I love my life at this stage, even with revolving trips to a physical therapist needed. 

I am so thankful to be alive! I'm so thankful for my husband and family and this home we've been at six years. I love the garden RH has made here and the fall colors in it now.

We both get so much enjoyment from all our wildlife, the birds we feed, the possums, skunks, groundhogs, rabbits, a fox or two, geese who come to the pond and our yard from January to July and the deer who visit for the apples RH cuts up for them.

Yesterday there were our regular mamas with their young but the shyer bucks came too and RH managed to get pictures of this handsome guy.


 And of course, our lives are wrapped around two very special people who live with us, James Mason...

And BreeBree...

They're at the groomers this morning while I'm writing this. They have a standing three months appointment now because it's so much easier than us trying to shampoo them. The house is so quiet today while they're gone!

All their nests are out in the sun and their blankets are in the wash. They'll want a couple of green beans for treats when they come home and then a good nap, snuggling together as always, never a cross word between them. 

And if we all go to bed tonight knowing our eight children, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren are safe, it will be a triumph of a day.

I hope yours is too.



Wednesday, September 14, 2022

A Movie and a Supper. What Happened to Conversation?


What? Doesn't everyone put a picture of a movie playing in the background on their blog posts? Sorry, but Sergeant York is one of RH's all time favorite movies and he was about to have a hissy fit when I had supper ready and suggested turning off the television to take pictures.

But there's a story behind those two green pitchers I used as vases so I'm going to tell it. It looks like a flower design on them, doesn't it? No, they're cabbages.

I first saw them in a British magazine, my favorite Period Living, in October 2018. 


See? It says Ceramic Cabbage jug, by Paperchase, only 12 pounds--what is that in dollars? Anyway, that's my kind of green and I remembered them.

Two years later a large and a small jug sat on my kitchen shelves, for only $15. 

I found them, unbelievably, in our local antique mall for $30 but everything in the shop was 50% off. They were mine!

The jugs make perfect pitchers for sunflowers because sunflowers just turn the water nasty looking in a glass vase.

Thanks to Lorrie and Gretchen's advice I finally cut some of our zinnias to go with the grocery store sunflowers. They were past their peak but pretty in candlelight.

And I brought the pretty little cabbage tureen from the kitchen to the table too. I don't use it for food as it says Holland Mold and I'm afraid it might not be food safe.

Did you notice the pretty farm tablecloth with the sunflowers? It's my favorite tablecloth for August and early September. 

That's chicken salad in a croissant sitting on the pretty French faience luncheon plates I found at the Goodwill years ago, a dozen taped together for a dollar each, if I remember right, which I may not. The chicken salad is a mix between Ina Garten's and the chicken salad we had in Blowing Rock, North Carolina at the Storie Street Grill but no recipe here because everyone has their own favorite version.

And the Cauliflower Soup is Lulu Powers, link here.
I think next time I'll add a little dry mustard to perk it up a little and maybe add a couple of potatoes for more body.

And I'll break my pretzel rod garnish into much smaller pieces but  the simple recipe for them was really good. 

 They're Seasoned Pretzels from Half Baked Harvest's Super Simple that goes with her Broccoli Cheddar Soup. 

My daughter-in-law Court gave the cookbook to me for my birthday and some of my new favorite recipes are from it. 

Her Strawberry Pretzel Tart, that I made back in May, is in this cookbook, much prettier than mine, but so delicious with its Whipped Mascarpone filling. 

I tried to find a link to the recipe online but couldn't find it. So many of Ms. Gerard's other pretzel-strawberry desserts are online so maybe this 1922 cookbook hasn't yet been linked to recipes online? I haven't tried a single recipe from the book yet that we didn't like.

 Time to say goodnight. Fair warning, I wouldn't be surprised if most of any future supper table pics here include the television in the background. We're both tired by evening, too tired to talk much, and feel that we deserve a good movie. And then it is football season and I wouldn't dare try to turn a game off. 

Conversation at the supper table? It used to be so important that I even have a label for it. Not so much anymore but don't judge, please, at least not until you reach our age.


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

September Morning


Our garden is a fine place to be on a cool sunny September morning with a "scarf of blue mist around her shoulders."

I try to snap a clear picture of BreeBree and James Mason as they chase madly around trying to pick up the scent of Chester, resident chipmunk.

Hummingbirds zoom in and out to the tiny red flowers of an unknown plant. On one day the flowers dwindle down to a few and I wonder if they should be cut back to encourage more blooms but then the very next morning it is loaded with red blooms, and hummingbirds. Over and over.

The hydrangeas are past their peak. This year I'm not cutting bunches for drying. 

We haven't taken down the Fourth of July bunting yet. Hopefully it will come down before the Christmas wreath goes up.

 I'm letting go of summer a little bit at a time this year but a September garden with BreeBree and James Mason is a fine place to be.

September comes to us as a woman blessed with a great inheritance, whose lines have fallen in fair places. She has the flash and frame of leaves that begin to turn, she is colorful with blossoms, and she wears a scarf of blue mist around her shoulders. But to think of all the glories that have been handed down to her from August.

Richardson Wright, Truly Rural

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Nectarines or Peaches?


I'm an unabashed lover of nectarines. Whenever our local markets have organic nectarines, we buy a small sackful. 

Here's an easy and delicious nectarine dessert that was in the September 2020 issue of the UK Country Living. Sorry, but I couldn't find an online link to the recipe.

 Baked Nutmeg and Rosemary Nectarines

Oven 400 F (200 C) -- I guessed at the conversion.

1. Lay sprigs of fresh rosemary on baking dish and top with 4 nectarines halved and pitted, cut side up.

2. Grate 1/4 of whole nutmeg over the fruit and sprinkle on 2 tablespoons brown sugar on top and a pinch of sea salt. (I also sprinkled on a little of the Lemon Juice powder that I got from Baker's Catalogue.)

3. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over (I used the Greek olive oil my daughter brought me that I use sparingly in special recipes.)

4. Bake 25-30 minutes at 400 F.

5. Serve with Greek yogurt, porridge or rice pudding. 

I used my favorite mascarpone with a little honey stirred in on top and the flavor was intensely delicious. We didn't eat the rosemary with the fruit but it did add an amazing scent.


Here's another wonderful nectarine dessert I make, with pictures from two years ago. I never included it in a blog because my crust looked pitiful. Here is a link to the Garden & Gun recipe for Nectarine and Berry Cobbler.

Their picture:

My picture:

 See what I mean? But it is a yummy recipe.

 I wrote down the following quotation about nectarines some time ago but failed to note the author. I suspect it was either from one of my Richardson Wright books or James Beard's.

Edward A. Bunyard [1878-1939], an English gourmet of the highest flight and one of the most brilliant essayist on fruit (did you read his "The Anatomy of Dessert"?) confessed that blindfolded he couldn't tell them apart [peaches and nectarines] if peeled. He finally agreed that the peach had it all over the nectarine for the texture of the flesh--a smooth, butter-like flesh--and the nectarine had it all over the peach for flavor.

RH prefers peaches. I prefer nectarines.

What about you?