Thought and Quotes: A best friend is like a four-leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have.
Sadly, this week I discovered that my best friend Carol, a former Cooking Club Member and a Chosen Sister for holidays, has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. My other best friends in our Cooking Club and I are devastated at the thought of not being able to see her, email her, or phone her whenever we choose.
My advice to you and to myself is this - cherish your friends and let them know you care. It's so easy to go along, day to day, thinking everything will stay the same. It doesn't. Take the time to make that call, send that card, issue an invitation for lunch or tea, pick up inexpensive gifts for them. When your budget permits, send or bring them flowers. You know the cliche - flowers are for the living.
Theme Dining: As promised, here are the sweets for the Beachcomber Brunch from last week - Apple Bread, Lemon Bread, Sour Cream Coffeecake. The Apple Bread recipe is under the drop-down header and called "Other Mom's Apple Bread". I called my friend's mother My Other Mom, and she created this recipe.
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs lemon extract (that’s right – Tbs)
1-1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup sugar
Heat oven to 350°.
Mix melted butter, sugar and lemon extract.
Beat in eggs.
Sift dry ingredients together; add alternately in thirds with milk.
Beat just enough to blend. Fold in nuts.
Pour into buttered and floured loaf pan and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool in pan 5 minutes and turn out onto rack placed over a sheet of waxed paper.
Mix glaze ingredients and spoon over loaf while still warm, using the glaze that drips also.
DO NOT CUT FOR 24 HOURS
Note: Once you taste this bread, you'll find it difficult to wait 24 hours the next time you make it. It's that good.
SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE
This recipe came from a Houston Junior League Cookbook and was called Brown Sugar Coffee Cake. I don’t know why I changed the name. One of those mysteries of life.
2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Heat oven to 350°.
Thoroughly mix together the brown sugar, flour, and butter. I use a hand mixer.
Spread half this mixture into a 9” square baking pan.
To the other half, add the egg and nutmeg.
Mix the baking soda into the sour cream and add, stirring well.
Spread this batter over the mixture in the pan.
Sprinkle cinnamon and nuts over the batter.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Tasting: While we're on the subject of food, let me tell you about my wonderful July 4th holiday. There are three places where I'm invited for home-cooked meals. Four times a year I get to go to Mim's and four times a year I get to go to Bev's. They're my Cooking Club sisters. On the 4th of July, Brother Jim makes barbecued ribs, and Sister-in-Law Becky makes everything in the world to go with them. (I'm invited other times, but it's over an hour each way, so I don't always go).
Every time I have one of these home-cooked meals, I'm treated like royalty, so naturally they're the highlights of my year.
Rain was falling when I arrived on the 4th, so Becky met me with a big umbrella to usher me into the house. The table was set beautifully, as always.
Flowers from her yard, of course, and little framed photos of her dad and her grandfather in their uniforms were part of the tablescape.
Ribs, of course
Green Beans (from her garden)
Calico Beans (she said I could share the recipe)
CALICO BEAN CASSEROLE
1 lb. hamburger, browned
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into 1” pieces
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup catsup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs dry mustard
2 Tbs vinegar
1 15 oz can pork and beans – not drained
1 15 oz can red beans, drained
1 15 oz can butter beans, drained
1 15 oz can lima beans, drained
Heat oven to 350°.
Cook bacon in skillet and add onion. Cook until done and drain.
Add catsup, brown sugar, mustard, and vinegar. Cook until well blended.
Add beans and pour into casserole. Bake 40 minutes.
Note: Can freeze before baking or cook in Crockpot.
Pickled Beets (yes, she raised them and yes, she pickled them)
Deviled Eggs (my brother might have made these; he's adept at egg deviling)
Hot Rolls (of course, from scratch)
The grand finale was home-churned vanilla ice cream and the rest of the carrot cake saved from Sonny's birthday lunch (Thank you, Nono). See Week 77.
Yes, I know how to chow down
I know you're wondering why so much food for three people, but that's because they always take food to a couple of their single friends.
My only contribution was the slaw, which I was allowed to bring because I wanted to try a new recipe. And I didn't wash one dish, or anything else. Truly, I felt like Queen for a Day.
The last time I hosted the Cooking Club, we were discussing books, and I mentioned that the library book sale was going on in Ozark. They said, "Let's go!". So we did, and I saw a stack of these little cookbooks from "way back when" and picked up three of them, one for each of us. They all looked alike, so I thought they were all the same. Not so. One said, Seventh Movement, one said Eighth Movement, and mine says Ninth Movement. We have to make one recipe from the book when we host the monthly lunch. The slaw was a winner, and I'll serve it when I have the lunch this month.
Things that Grow: Becky always has a beautiful garden, and I always want to see it.
She raises onions, peppers, and lots of tomatoes to make salsa.
And take a look at the bell pepper near the ground - it's huge.
She has blackberries for making jelly (also strawberries, apples, and cherries).
She has zucchini and green beans (she canned 7 quarts this week), the lettuce and radishes are already past their season, but there will no doubt be another crop before winter. The deer ate the beet tops, so only enough matured to pickle for our July 4th dinner.
Wouldn't you love to read a book on this bench?
This is her flower "bed".
There are flower beds all over the yard, and each is immaculate.
The first thing I do when I visit is check the refrigerator door. There's always a meal plan for the week posted - they eat out only occasionally - and this fascinates me. I don't even know what I'm having for dinner today. And dinner every night is with cloth napkins and candlelight. If you described the Perfect Homemaker, that would be Becky. Of course, Jim gets some credit, too. He built the raised gardens, gets the soil ready in the spring, made the flower "bed", takes care of the many trees, and mows the huge yard. He's pretty handy in the kitchen as well. I love them - they're my Lil' Bro' and Lil' Sis'.
Thank Yous: For my great leftovers and 4th of July gifts (you never see Becky and leave empty-handed) -
And once again, to Nono for the scrumptious carrot cake.
And I'm such a slug, thank you cards aren't going out until Monday. I knew which card we'd be making in class, and I particularly wanted that one for Becky. Here it is - she'll see it here before she sees it in her mailbox because I missed the postman on Saturday.
Our teacher, Katie, has a huge area on her lower level where she crafts. Here are just a few of her many cards. She won't answer her phone so I can ask permission to show them, so here goes, and I might have to ask for forgiveness instead.
And you'll recognize my craft room from my tablescape photos. Yes, it's my dining room table under that mess.
I've been trying some Pocket Cards. They're meant to be Pocket Letters for pen pals who craft, but I thought, "Why not use them for cards?". They're made from pocket sheets for three-ring binders to use for collecting baseball trading cards.
A birthday card for my brother who loves to fish, plays guitar, and writes country music.
Created as a Get Well card for Carol, who is a Master Gardener, but became a Thinking of You card instead.
I'm a novice at this. If you want to see some exciting creations, click HERE. They fold up nicely to fit in a regular #10 envelope - you know, the kind we used for business letters before fax and email.
Thrifting: I haven't had much time to look for bargains lately, but found these in one of my favorite shops. The vase was 25 cents and you'll be seeing it soon. The salt and pepper shakers were also 25 cents. The basket was 50 cents. I think it's one of those you buy, paint, and pay to have it fired. There's nothing on the bottom. The handmade items are my favorites. I love when it says the name and date or sometimes a message that says To: and the recipient.
The Pepper and Pals Report: I told you I didn't want another cat and now I have an army of them. Stormy thinks this is her toy. Soon it will be only stems.
She and Pepper continue to be friends if separated by a wall or screen.
And remember the babies from my neighbor's backyard?
I saw a couple of them scampering across my patio last night. I found them tucked up under the boxwood hedge.
When the mother realized I'd discovered their hiding place, she moved them during the night.
Tales: I finished this book, and especially flower-lovers will like reading it. It's written in the Maeve Binchy style which is sort of like collecting little crocheted motifs (one for each character), and then they're all joined together by the end to form a nice soft comforting afghan.
Nothing accomplished on the books, but I'm still on schedule. The only thing
left for July is the tea.
SHOW YOUR FRIENDS YOU LOVE THEM
A TRIP TO THE BEACH IS IN ORDER
EAT LOTS OF GREENS
AND DRINK LOTS OF WATER
DON'T FORGET YOUR SUNSCREEN
CALL YOUR MOM
THANK YOU FOR SHARING MY LIFE