Friday, January 2, 2015

Please Update Your Booksmarks

Big Food, Big Garden, Big Life has moved to 

a WordPress blog hosted by Blue Host. is still the same Big Food, Big Garden, Big Life-- just bigger & better!

There are some new features such as a Crappy Old Book of the Month series. Recipe organization and search is much improved. Rocky & Missy have their own category heading! And according to Miss M, Kat & Daughter C, the site is a lot prettier. Come on over and let me know what you think. As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

Before I leave here, I'd like to say "Thank you" for sticking with me & this site through the Lost Summer of '14. Many of you know why posting was non-existent for days and weeks on end. I greatly appreciate you're continuing to check back in. 

Here's to a wonderful New Year for all of us!

See you over at !

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Out with the Old

Check it out! Big Food Etc. grows up with a dot com of its own.

The new site is still not ready for prime time viewing-- there's only so much html I can ask of Kat in a single day-- so I'll still be posting here. But check the new site frequently throughout the day and you may catch a "test post" in which I spit out a cuss word or two. (Quoting poetry is hard.)

Happy New Year!

Up the Hill, Down the Hill

Old One, lie down,
Your journey is done,
Little New Year
Will rise with the sun.
Now you have come to
The foot of the hill,
Lay down your bones,
Old Year and lie still.

Young one, step out,
Your journey’s begun,
Weary Old Year
Makes way for his Son.
Now you have started
To climb up the hill,
Put best foot forward,
New Year with a will.

Up the hill, down the hill,
Which is the best?
Up-hill is labour,
And down-hill is rest.

The New Book of Days, Eleanor Farjeon (Henry Z. Walck, Incorporated, New York, 1941)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"A Woman's Job"

How to Be Your Own Decorator, Helen Koues, Good Housekeeping, New York, 1928.
We are fast approaching the time when homemakers turn their attentions to storage, organization and redecorating. (If you don't believe me, take a gander at all of the plastic storage tubs filling the aisles of your local 5-and-Dime store.) To that end, I thought I would share some ideas.

Store your records, television and radio in this home-built unit of fir.

Hang your pans above the range for modern kitchen storage
Don't forget lighting in the Master Bedroom
Photographs from Ladies' Home Journal Book of Interior Decoration, Elizabeth T. Halsey, The Curtis Publishing Company, Philadelphia. 1954.

Monday, December 29, 2014

"The decline of Christmas"

Instapundit links to this article by Joel Kotkin at New Geography. Kotkin begins:

In the past, this season was marked by a greater interest in divinity, the family hearth and the joy of children. Increasingly our society has been turning away from such simple human pleasures, replacing them with those of technology. 
Despite the annual holiday pageantry, in the West religion is on the decline, along with our society’s emphasis on human relationships.

I only skimmed the article-- busy taking the dogs on walks and all-- but I'd say it's worth your while to do likewise if you've a few minutes. After surveying the tech-induced decline and fall of Western Civilization, Kotkin concludes:
Whatever the advantages that we can derive from technology, this vision of the future ["transhuman," bio-machines] violates the basic moral principles of both civil society and religious faith. Before we plug ourselves in for eternity, we might consider, this holiday season, to take a non-digital path to reviving our souls, whether by reading your bible, enjoying Shakespeare, tossing a football with your kids, or simply taking a walk in the woods. Technology might help shape what humanity can do, but it cannot make us any more human. That’s up to us.
Up to us, huh? Well. Let's see how we did here on the farm, shall we? 

Our "holiday pageantry" featured

beautiful Works of Art,
folksy Works of Art,


Miracle on 34th St.,
three showings (including the cartoon) of A Christmas Carol,

a LiGhTS and DisPLaY CONTeST!!

God bless us, everyone. 

Goose Gumbo

The richest gumbo ever in the history of mankind
If you think you've seen this gumbo before, you are right & wrong. RIGHT: Mr. Big Food has made Turkey/Duck Gumbo El Dorado many times. But it's not every day he roasts a Christmas Goose so that we have leftover goose for goose gumbo. WRONG: You've not seen the goose version until today. Trust me. It was worth waiting for!

Recipe here

Saturday, December 27, 2014

"Nature Noble"

Recollect that the Almighty, who gave the dog to be companion of our pleasures and our toils, hath invested him with a nature noble and incapable of deceit.
--Sir Walter Scott, The Talisman (1825)

from The Quotable Dog Lover (Patricia M. Sherwood, ed., The Lyons Press, New York, 2000)

Friday, December 26, 2014


I have a number of books tagged "Christmas" in my library of crappy old books.

Some are stacked up on the coffee table.

Others are scattered about the joint. (That Grandma Moses book on the floor by Snoopy's Lights & Display Contest is open to "Waiting for Christmas.")
One unassuming little volume, Great Sermons on the Birth of Christ by Celebrated Preachers (Wilbur M. Smith, ed. W. A. Wilde Co., Natik, Massachusetts. 1963)

was laying on the hearth under the Universe of Magnetic Pepper Lights
That's where I found it on the afternoon of Christmas Day and began to read... .

If the sun, moon, and stars save, I can call them saviors. If St. Bartholomew or St. Anthony or a pilgrimage to St. James or good works save, then they surely are my savior. If St. Francis, then he is my savior. But then what is left of the honor of the child who was born this day, whom the angel calls Lord and Savior, and who wants to keep his name, which is Savior and Christ the Lord. If I set up any savior except this child, no matter who or what it is or is called, then he is not the Savior. But the text says that he is the Savior. And if this is true — and it is the truth — then let everything else go. 
   One who hears the message of the angel and believes it will be filled with fear, like the shepherds. True, it is too high for me to believe that I should come into this treasure without any merit on my part. And yet, so it must be. In the papacy this message was not preached in the pulpit, and I am afraid that it will disappear again. It was the other message that the devil initiated and has allowed to remain in the papacy. All their hymns are to this effect. Among the Turks the devil has completely wiped it out. Therefore, remember it, sing it, and learn it, while there is still time! I fear that time will come when we shall not be allowed to hear, believe, and sing this message in public, and the time has already come when it is no longer understood; though Satan does allow it to be spoken with the mouth, as the papists do. But when it comes to declaring that he is born for you, and to singing:
In dulci jubilo  
Now sing with hearts aglow!    
Our delight and pleasure 
Lies in praesepio,    
Like sunshine is our treasure 
Matris in gremio 
Alpha est et O! 
— this he is unwilling to allow. 
   What we have said, then, has been about that second faith, which is not only to believe in Mary's Son, but rather that he who lies in the virgin's lap is our Savior, that you accept this and give thanks to God, who so loved you that he gave you a Savior who is yours. And for a sign he sent the angel from heaven to proclaim him, in order that nothing else should be preached except that this child is the Savior and far better than heaven and earth. Him, therefore, we should acknowledge and accept confess him as our Savior in every need, call upon him, and never doubt that he will save us from all misfortune. Amen.
Martin Luther
"Sermon on the Afternoon of Christmas Day"
Luke 2:1-14         
December 25, 1530

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Evening

"No body likes tangerines," said The Doctor
Hope your day was Merry & Bright. 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas
from all of us at Farther Along Farm.

"Guy Food" Christmas Eve

Mr. Big Food's Southern antipasto: It's Southern because it has pickled okra and chow-chow
Wednesday is "guy food" night. (Meatless Monday, Fancy Tuesday, etc. We are fans of order-- of a certain sort-- here at the Farm.) Southern antipasto was followed by fried barbecue-seasoned oysters and boiled shrimp.

What. A. Feast. 

Thursday is Heritage night. Tomorrow is Thursday and it is Christmas. Accordingly, we are having stuffed goose.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Here We Come a Carolling da da dadada la

Truth be told, there was no singing involved.
We went calling on our neighbors this Christmas Eve. We brought along fruitcake!

I'll have better photos of the cake in candy shells soon. 
What a nice way to spend a few minutes with neighbors. The first invited us to Saturday lunch with his hunting club buddies over at his shop. The next introduced us to her daughter and a friend-- turns out we have mutual acquaintances. DeWayne wasn't home. Bo wasn't home either but the kids were. Little Caroline gave both Mr. Big Food and I a hug and her big brother Waker-- of how many ways can a 15 year old boy mess up fame (remember how angry I was with him when he put out that deer corn feeder  on the property without permission)-- was so overcome with emotion at having received a few slices of fruitcake that he gave me a hug! 

Fruitcake. Who knew it had so much power?

I hear tell

I can make those candle stubs redder.
But I cannot for the life of me figure it out.

It was all I could manage to do to take the picture in NO LIGHT and do a little post tweeking. 

But I cannot for the life of me figure out how to make the candle stubs a bit redder.

Kat? Kat? KAT? K.A.T.??

"What's all the commotion? Is that charming young Katherine here abouts??"

"ruff? RUFF!!"

"Oh, no. Nothing is happening, Missy. Happy Festivas!"

"Festiwhatisvas? I thought it was Christmastime."

"Oh, Missy. You Poor Dear. "

"With all due respect, Marica,  I could be saying the same to you,  You do know 'Festivas' isn't a bone-fide holiday, don't you?"

"Missy. Take a good look around. Festivas is fun but Christmas is real and... . It's Christmastime at the farm."

Please stop eating the decorations. 

While we are on the subject of bourbon... .

What? You thought we were still talking about fruitcake?

"Please, sir, this Christmas, a scarf for my littlest bother? My battery operated lantern generates precious little heat and he's ever so cold when there's no flame upon the hearth. "

Each year I receive a gift from Makers Mark (which, by the way, is not a small family run business). The gifts used to be promotional goods-- wrapping paper, ribbon and so forth. Lately, though, they've been items of clothing for our ancient concrete friends.

"Thank you, kind sirs at Makers Mark. God bless us everyone!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Recipe: Sue's Ma's Fruitcake

Faithful commenter 'suek' has shared her mom's fruitcake recipe.  

From the comment thread, we also learn that Sue's Ma always said, " 'No pineapple!' ... because the pineapple (and the immediate surrounding cake) would mold, even if faithfully "watered" with Bourbon. " But JudyDee's is fine!

Sue's Ma's Fruitcake

1# butter
1# sugar
1 dozen eggs
4 oz liquor

1# flour (3 1/5 cups)
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon

2# raisins
1# currants
1# dates 
1# figs 
1# pitted dates
¼ # English walnuts
¼ # Black walnuts
¼ # each: citron, candied orange peel, candied lemon peel, candied maraschino cherries

(Total of 6 ½ lbs of dried fruit and nuts – even if you change the various fruits.)

Mix dry ingredients, and add fruit and nuts. Turn the fruit into the dry ingredients until they're well coated with the flour mix.

In a separate bowl, cream butter with sugar and add eggs, one at a time . (My Mom's recipe called for each egg to be broken into a separate cup and then added to the creamed mix. I decided that this was probably a hangover from the days of home supplied eggs, with the subsequent risk that one of the eggs might be rotten – ruining all of the mix. It's probably not necessary today). Add the liquor last.

Fold the floured fruit into the creamed butter mix – or add the creamed mix into the floured fruit...depending on the size of your bowls. 

Loaf pans should be 3” x 5”, and lined with oiled/buttered brown paper. Fill the pans about 2/3 full, and bake at least 1 hour at 275* degrees.

Are We Still Talking About Fruitcake?!?

Another in what is becoming a long line of fruitcake posts... .

Candied grapefruit rinds ready to be filled with fruitcake batter and baked

My fruitcake turned out to be one of those "Wow! This is delicious but I'm never doing that again" productions. 

Gumbo pot filled with fruit and flour and spices
Kitchen table with two cookbooks, parchment paper, twine and canner
The canner took the place of a roaster. As we remembered well into production, we don't have a rack that fits inside the turkey roaster so the filled grape fruit had to be steamed in the canner.

Kitchen table with two cookbooks,strips of parchment, twine, cake batter and canner
A strip of parchment is wrapped around the edge of each grapefruit shell and tied with twine, then the shells are filled. Or fill 'em, wrap 'em and then tie 'em. Really doesn't make any difference! 

Never again. 

More on the fruitcake tomorrow. There's only so much fruitcake production recollection one can do ant any single sitting.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Oh Christmas Tree

This time of year, there's a particular time of day when the sun shines straight through the front door. It's pretty, don't you think?
This is one of five trees we have in the house. Of course, only two are "official" Christmas trees with lights and all-- the others, like this one, are just decoration. It doesn't quite come through in the picture but the gold ribbons really sparkle in the sunshine. 

It's easy to have decoration trees when you have a dog that likes to help chop down small scraggly trees. And speaking of Missy... . She sustained an injury this afternoon. Nothing too traumatic, just one big scrape that took out all of the fur across her nose. There's no tellin' what happened. Mr. Big Food reports that she did give a yelp at some point on their afternoon constitutional. Hope a 500 pound bear didn't get after her.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What's for Breakfast?

Homemade English muffins (veganized), fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and coffee.

Lights & DIsplay Contest!

You really do have to give us credit, don't you? Who else in the neighborhood has a for real Lights & Display Contest display?

About Those 12 Cups of Sugar...

The rinds of eight grapefruit halves
All I want for Christmas is another kitchen* and another gumbo pot. (JK) It's gotten to the point where each of us has to schedule time in the kitchen for our various cooking & baking projects. I had to transfer my eight grapefruit halves' rinds from the gumbo pot (where they had soaked for 24 hours in salt water) to the roaster because Mr. Big Food needed the gumbo pot to mix the ingredients for his fruitcake which he was scheduled to make this morning.

I wonder if he chose this particular fruitcake recipe because it specifically says to mix the ingredients by hand? Humm... I wonder... .

I'll post photographs of Mr. Big Food's fruitcake soon. It hasn't been "watered" but I hear tell the virgin version is pretty darned good.

My fruitcake preparations are progressing nicely, I think. 

I tried to cram them all onto one platter and tore one. What was I thinking? 

After the grapefruit rinds soak for 24 hours in salt water, they are rinsed, put in a pot, covered with cold water, brought to a boil then drained. Six times. Pot, rinds, water, boil. Repeat. They then simmer for an hour after which time they are somewhat fragile (see photo caption) and are ready for the next stage.

The gumbo pot with six cups of water + 12 cups of sugar
Candied grapefruit rinds... 
or should I say, "fruitcake vesicles?"

That's right. My Christmas Fruitcake is going to be steamed, then baked, in candied grapefruit rinds. That's right. Just as soon as I can schedule kitchen time. 

(Though to be honest, I'm not sure they turned out as they should have. Wait and see. They cool for 12 hours in the syrup which took forever to get to the soft ball stage.)


Friday, December 19, 2014

I Hope You Like Fruitcake

Because that's like 370 pounds of raisin there-- not to mention the currants and candied this & that and local pecans. 

I hope you like fruitcake.

This is funny. 

Independently, both Mr. Big Food and I thought that we would make a fruit cake. (Great minds & all.) And then we realized we both had the same thought and so immediately someone screamed "FRUITCAKE CONTEST" and we went running for our recipes.

And then cooler headers prevailed. Why couldn't we both just make fruitcakes and enjoy the fruitcakes?

Ahhhh. Fruitcake.

But of course you need stuff for fruitcake. So you go on a wild Christmas goose chase searching for the stuff you need. 

[insert experience at the Oxford, Mississippi Kroger]

And then you are home. And you lay out all of the stuff you need for fruitcake on the table.


I began work on my fruitcake today.  It takes 12 pounds of sugar. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Goose Hunting

For reasons we can discuss some other day, we are not making our usual trek to My Mother's House for Christmas. We are having Christmas here on The Farm. Mr. Big Food decided he'll cook a Christmas goose. Therefore, we need a goose. And what better place to go hunting for a Christmas Goose than Oxford, Mississippi?

I won't keep you in suspenders. We did not find a goose-- Christmas or otherwise-- in Oxford. But on the way to Oxford, we did find Water Valley, a previously "derelict Mississippi town." 

This is from the famous B.T.C. (Be The Change) Grocery*
It ain't a K-Roger,

but the trees were reasonably priced, given the market. 
I have other photos of Water Valley's shops and galleries, but as Miss M and Daughter C did not go goose hunting with us, I will not post them at this time. No one likes a spoiler. 

This I will share. The fallen soldiers of Water Valley.

*Please note that this is NOT an authentic Mississippi sign.  It was not written by a redneckbackwoodsignerntboniefied Mississippian. There are no apostrophes, no quotes, and too few capital letters. Should be:

... Farmers... ice cream maker's...Bread Bakers...grit grinds'... ... bee's keepers'... and "Christsmas' Tree Planters'".

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Who needs lights & displays?

Photographs courtesy of Daughter C*
We went to Woodland the other evening. You may-- if you're still following along-- recall Woodland from Christmases past. 

No photographs were modified
To say that this year's Woodland Christmas display was disappointing is probably unfair to the display, such as it was. We discussed this on the way back to the Farm.

The complainers among us The observant among us-- which would be all of us-- noted that neither the colorful Noah's Arc, nor the enormous sparkling American flag, were anywhere to be seen. (Those were two of my favorites. I missed them.) And what about Lady Liberty? Where was that display??

On the other hand, 

A forest of trees
If you'd never see Noah's Arc or the American flag or The Little Lady with the Light , how could you miss them?


The best part of the worst Woodland Light & Display display we've ever seen was the hot cocoa Daughter C made with real milk and real cocoa, and put in a real Thermos™. Mr. Big Food poured a styrofoam cup of it for me as we were getting ready to enjoy the lights and displays. It burnt my lip when I took a sip. The cocoa was very chocolatey.

The second best part was the spritz cookies, though I understand that others think the popcorn (Daughter C's specialty, made in a crappy old popcorn maker) was just as good. 

Who needs lights and displays when you have cocoa and cookies and popcorn? 


*From where did the blue in the photo come?