Friday, January 31, 2014

"So you think *you* can stack wood?"

Subject line of an email Mr. Big Food's Dad passed along.

Here's a sampling of the attached images. Hoping American Grouch will enjoy them.

Recipe: Chip 'n' Chicken Bake

Really good!

Serves 4 

Salt, pepper
1 frying chicken, cut up 
1 medium bag barbecued potato chips, smashed fine 

Salt and pepper chicken pieces and roll in potato chips. Place chicken pieces in a flat casserole or on a cookie sheet (lined with foil for easier clean-up, if desired), and let set for 3 to 4 hours to let the barbecue flavor go through chicken. (“Can be prepared the day before; refrigerate until ready to bake.”) Preheat oven to 350°. Bake chicken for 1 hour. 

“For extra flavor add a small amount of garlic salt.”

Recipe: Baked Beans I (Veganizable)

They beat me to it!

To veganize, omit bacon, use vegetarian baked beans.

“Very tasty and easy to prepare”—Winifred Green Cheney, The Southern Hospitality Cookbook (1976) 

Makes 12 servings 

24 oz can pork and beans 
¼ C (packed firm) light brown sugar 
1 C catsup or chili sauce (preferably homemade—see recipes in Basics section) 
1 very large onion, diced 
1 tsp prepared mustard (preferably homemade—see recipes in Basics section) 
2 to 3 slices bacon (optional) 

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine pork and beans, brown sugar, catsup or chili sauce, onion, and mustard, pour mixture into a greased flat 2 quart casserole, and cover with bacon slices (if using). Bake 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Recipe: Creative Cooking Mushroom Risotto (Veganizable)


“The copper frying pan is piled high with glistening Mushroom Risotto. Though the dish needs no additional beautifying, we crowned it with a “turned” sautéed mushroom [see instructions in Basics section] and bordered it with sliced green pepper.” 

“NOTE: Canned beef consommé or canned chicken broth may be substituted for the Basic Beef or Chicken Stock. However, this is only an emergency substitute—good, but never quite as good as that you make yourself.”—The Creative Cooking Course (1982) 


3 Tbsp butter (or vegan substitute)
1 small onion, sliced thin 
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced 
¾ C Sauterne (or other dry white wine) 
2 C yellow rice 
4 C chicken stock (preferably homemade—see recipes in Basics section) 
½ C grated Parmesan cheese, plus more if desired for serving Risotto (Omit for vegans)
1 large sautéed mushroom and green pepper strips (for garnish) 
Lemon juice (for serving Risotto, if desired) 

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over low heat, add onion, and cook, stirring constantly, until transparent but not brown. Add sliced mushrooms and stir until mixed. Add wine, stir well, and simmer until most of the wine is evaporated. Add rice and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Add 1 C stock, mix well, and cook until stock has been absorbed by rice, stirring frequently. Repeat with another 1 C stock. Add remaining stock, stir well, cover skillet, and simmer, stirring frequently, until all stock has been absorbed. “Cooking time is 25 minutes after first stock has been added.” Remove from heat, add ½ C cheese, and stir well. Cover and let stand 3 minutes. Garnish with a large sautéed mushroom and green pepper strips. Serve wit additional grated Parmesan cheese and lemon juice, if desired

Recipe: Shrimp South Lousiana

Gulf shrimp

Serves 6 

¼ C shortening, plus 1 Tbsp 
¼ C flour 
1 large white onion, chopped 
1 bunch green onions, white and pale green parts only, sliced 
¼ C green bell pepper, chopped 
½ C celery, chopped 
1 tsp garlic, minced 
1 can Ro*tel 
8 oz tomato sauce (preferably homemade—see recipes in Basics section) 
Salt, pepper OR Creole seasoning, to taste 
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined 
Hot cooked rice 

Have vegetables ready and melt shortening in large skillet or saucepan. Stir in flour to make a smooth roux and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until roux reaches desired darkness (I like mine dark brown). Stir in onions, green onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic, remove form flame, and keep stirring until vegetables stop sizzling. Add Ro*tel and tomato sauce, return to low flame, stir in seasonings to taste and Worcestershire sauce, and simmer 30 minutes. Add shrimp and cook 20 minutes longer. Serve over rice.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pecan Math

We had a very satisfying dinner cooked in a clay pot this evening.

Tender & moist

A whole clove of garlic roasts in the clay pot, then is combined with butter to top the veggies.

After dinner chit chat, Daughter C and I got down to shelling pecans.

We had been given, by Mr. Big Foods Mom, a 5# bag (that's 5 pounds) of Texas Pecans, cracked. Mr. Big Food's Mom paid $22.50 for this bag of cracked pecans.

We got about 2.5 pounds of pecan halves.
Here's where it gets interesting. 

A 4-6 ounce package of pecan halves at the Piglet goes for about $4.00. How many ounces are  in 2.5 pounds?

About $160 worth. 

"Wealth" is a concept that is underappreciated.

"Old Winters on the Farm"

I have jest about decided
     It 'id keep a town-boy hopping'
     Fer to work all winter, choppin'
Fer a' old fireplace, like I did!
Lawz! them old times wuz contrairy!--
     Blame' backbone o' winter, 'peared-like,
     Wouldn't break-- and I wuz skeerd-like,
Clean on into Feb'uary!
     Nothin' ever made me madder
Than fer Pap to stomp in, layin'
on a' extra forestick, sayin'
     "Groun'-hog's out and seed his shadder!"

From Riley Farm-Rhymes with Country Pictures, James Whitcomb Riley. The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis. 1901.

Awe, Man

The Budweiser Super Bowl Commercial. Now, excuse me, I need to find a tissue. :-)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Insert miscellaneous photo of Rocky, who guards the joint. Vicious Pit Bull. (For real. I love him. But I would not want to mess with him. He is a viscous Pit Bull.) 

That's correct! I'm going to see if any of my six year old heirloom tobacco seeds are still viable.
I remember choosing these varieties. They are all air cured-- no heat involved. 

Tobacco is a lovely plant. Stands about 3 feet tall. Attracts aphids like crazy and doesn't seem to mind. Beautiful flowers.

If you enjoy an evening cigarette, and if you think this country has gone to pot, you may want to purchase a pack of tobacco seeds from New Hope Seed Company.

"For no man is above the law."

I mentioned a few posts ago that I'd recalled a funny story about General and former President of the United States of America, Ulysses S. Grant. It's one of many plays in Citizenship Plays: A Dramatic Reader for Upper Grades (Eleanore Hubbard, 1929).

The scene is a fire in New York City. A crowd has gathered and police rope off the street for fear the building will collapse. Grant and a friend walk to the fire to watch "the firemen fight their enemy." Wall comes down. Grant slips under the rope for a better view. A policeman grabs him and pushes him back. 

An onlooker says, "That man must have thought he had a special privilege." To which Grant replies, "No, I had no business there."

As he and his friend walk away, the friend asks, "General why didn't you tell that policeman who you were? Think of him turning you back. A general famous all over the world, and an ex-President of the United States!"

Grant replies, "The policeman was perfectly right. I had no business under the rope. The rule that was made for others was made for me. President, general, or private citizen, I should obey it, for no man is above the law."


Happy Day!

Seeds from Botanical Interests!!!!!!!
Let's look a bit closer, shall we?

Lettuce & such, including a freebie
Alliums, herbs...
See the package of chives? I think this is what I used to call 'Society Garlic' or maybe 'Society Chives.' I hope so. Here it's called 'Chinese Garlic.' The description sounds a lot like what I'm hoping it is. If so, this is a beautiful plant. 

Here it is, about to bloom in the old garden at The Compound.
The leaves, buds and flowers are all edible. It has an especially delicate flavor-- a little more garlicy than oniony. Very subtle. 

It's a perennial-- once and done with planting. But beware! The clumps will grow and multiply nicely. But it also self-seeds so you'll be finding baby plants all around. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you have space to fill. Fortunately, it also grows well in pots. My recollection is that the leaves grow to about 2' but the flower stalks are 3' or more. Quite striking.

Hang in there!

"Early Springtime on the Farm" Grandma Moses (1945)
Just a little reminder, it's Almost Summer! Hang in there.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Way ahead of you, Ted.

From a recent Books Bygone essay:
The lesson of the Ideals section is this: “All through our history this right of self-government has been insisted upon. This is where our liberty lies: not in freedom from law, but in the freedom to make and therefore obey our own laws. That is the American ideal.”
[My emphases citing Citizenship Plays: A Dramatic Reader for Upper Grades. Eleanore Hubbard. Benj. H. Sanborn & Co., Chicago. 1929. Available free to read or download at and for purchase at online booksellers. First published in the Webster Progress Times January 16, 2014.]

What Ted said today in the Wall Street Journal:
Rule of law doesn't simply mean that society has laws; dictatorships are often characterized by an abundance of laws. Rather, rule of law means that we are a nation ruled by laws, not men. That no one—and especially not the president—is above the law. For that reason, the U.S. Constitution imposes on every president the express duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."
And no. I did not watch the SOTU address. Instead, I tidied up the kitchen. I set the dishwasher to come on +6hrs. (that would be about 3am, when it's forecast to be about 10 degrees F), did some hand dish-washing, put away the leftovers, let Rocky and Missy out being careful to not forget about short-haired Rocky out there in the cold, filled up the humidifiers,  set the faucets to "drip," turned the thermostats down to 60 degrees F, and retired to the den where Mr. Big Food and the dogs had fallen asleep. (Rocky is all snuggled up under the covers. Vicious Pit bull.)

And then I caught up on the SOTU by reading Vodka Pundit's live blog. (I do not want to hear any comments about the reliability of a guy who's famous for "drunk blogging." Seriously. It's the SOTU address to Congress. Cheers!)

And along the way happened upon Ted's comments. 

And now I'm thinking of U. Grant and a funny story about him, post-Presidency.

And good morning to you, too!

Which reminds me... . It was just a year ago the courthouse burned down.

Monday, January 27, 2014

How many times

are we going to have to go over this?
THE UPLOADER. One. 1. Singular

THEIR. More than one. >1. Plural.

It's called "agreement," people. 

Sheeze. Even Missy know this and she are a dog for crying out loud.

"What? Did I hear my name? Are you blogging about me again?"

"No. I only mentioned you in passing."


"Okay, Rock. I'll mention you, too."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"It does not seem human."

Once-- it is a thought which troubles us-- once it was a simple enough matter to be a human being, but now it is deeply difficult; because life was once simple, but it is now complex, confused, multifarious. 

Haste, anxiety, preoccupation, the need to specialize and make machines of ourselves, have transformed the once simple world, and we appraised that it will not be without effort that we shall keep the broad human traits which have so far made the earth habitable. 

We have seen our modern life accumulate, hot and restless, in great cities-- and we cannot say that the change is not natural: we see in it, on the contrary, the fulfillment of the inevitable law of change, which is no doubt a law of growth and not decay. 

And yet we look upon the portentous thing with a great distaste, and doubt with what altered passions we shall come out of it. 

The huge, rushing, aggregate life of a great city-- the crushing crowds in the streets, where friends seldom meet and where there are few greetings; the thunderous noise of trade and industry that speaks of nothing but gain and competition, and a consuming fear that checks the natural courses of kindly blood; no leisure anywhere, no quiet, no restful ease, no wise repose-- all this shocks us. 

It is inhumane. 

It does not seem human. 

How much more likely does it appear that we shall meet men sane and human about a countryside fire, upon the streets of quiet villages, where all are neighbors, where groups of friends gather easily, and a constant sympathy makes the very air seem native!

Why should not the city seem infinitely more human than the hamlet? 

Why should not human traits the more abound where human beings teem millions strong?
On Being Human. Woodrow Wilson. Harper & Brothers, New York. 1907.

[This was one paragraph. I split it up for ease of reading.]

Wilson-- who I am not a fan of, by the way-- gives an answer but it will have to wait. I need to go to town and see if Fred's has any warm mist humidifiers. It's shockingly dry here at the Farm.

Hey! Mr. Low Man! I'm talking to you.

Every time I post a post, I take care to change the font to 'Georgia'. I do not like the blogger default font. It is unappealing and I want the blog to be as appealing as I know how to make it so I take the time to do this.

This morning I was just diddling around and I noticed, at least on one of my browsers, that some words, lines, paragraphs, whole posts are in default font. So...

Dear Mr.-Low-Man-on-the-Totem-Pole-Who's-Tasked-with-Reading-My-Little-Blog,

Cut it out. This isn't funny. I can't for the life of me think why you would be making my blog unappealing except to discredit me-- to make it appear as if I don't care about the appearance of my blog, my 'product' so to speak. What's your point? 

Now. If it's not you who's doing this, please contact your contacts at Google and ask them to put all my stuff back into 'George'. 

Thank you! 

Have a great weekend,


P.S. Have you signed on to Rand Paul's class action lawsuit yet? You really should. I mean, if you are looking at my data, just imagine who's looking at your data!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Books Bygone: Washday

My most recent Books Bygone column, "Washday" came out in our little weekly newspaper yesterday. You can read it at the link or here where it's among all of the others.

If you read it at the newspaper, note that someone at the paper modified the title. I guess they needed to fill in some space. It's pretty funny what they came up with.

Feel free to pass along.

Let's talk about the weather!

It's chilly alright!
The detailed Farmers' Almanac forecast has it turning cold yesterday. Beginning the 28 expect a wintery mix in the Tennessee Valley and heavy rains south. 

February doesn't look very pleasant. Stay tuned.

Recipe: Herbed Chicken Bake


Serves 6 

6 oz package long grain and wild rice mix 
3 whole chicken breasts, boned and halved lengthwise (or 6 boned half breasts) 
Salt, pepper 
½ stick butter 
10 ½ oz can condensed cream of chicken soup 
¾ C dry white wine 
½ C sliced celery 
3 oz mushrooms (½ C), sliced (or a similar amount of any other vegetable) 
2 Tbsp canned pimento, drained and chopped 

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare rice mix according to package directions. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Melt butter in skillet and brown chicken slowly. Spoon cooked rice mixture into a 1 ½ quart casserole and top with chicken pieces, skin sides up. Add soup to skillet and slowly add wine, stirring until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, bring mixture to a boil, pour over chicken, cover casserole, and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 15-20 minutes longer, or until chicken is tender.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I am overwhelmed

and at my ripe old age, I have figured out how to not be overwhelmed. But I am today.

Things were going along just fine. I've inventoried and ordered seeds. I'm moving in the direction of planting seeds-- yes, yes, I should have had the tomatoes already planted but at least I'm moving in the right direction. I'm waylayed a bit by the fact that my normal seed starting place is being reconstructed. But I'm on it.

I have a couple of indoor winter projects I want to finish. I have Lowes Chirstmas Gift Certificates to finance them. And I know that I cannot go any further until I finish up a few bits of deep cleaning, ironing and such. Projects require clean spaces.

And then I get an email from Mr. Big Food. He needs help with one of his projects. Immediate help.

Call me crappy old fashioned but I liked the days where one could just list one's accomplishments as a simple list without having to make a map of it. 
To tell the truth, I think I'm going to suggest to Mr. Big Food that this is crap. If I make a nicely formatted list of  locations where he's been invited to speak, and you don't know where on the map Romania is, that's your problem.


What grade are you in that you can't gleen the relevant information from a 40 page CV? You need maps?

I spent a whole day pandering to this.

I'm not convinced Mr. Big Food is on a different page than I am.

For God Sake, he gave the Keynote Lecture at UMMC just the other day.

Remember? We stopped at WaffleHouse on our way to Jackson.

So I'm not convinced I have to tie my knickers in a knot to redo Mr Big Food's CV into a dramatic presentation.

I think his Life's Work speaks for itself.

And if you need maps to direct you to this conclusion... .

A Modern Classic

I have been posting this somewhere on the World Wide Web since March 7, 2008.
Pass it on.

Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Day. I worked on this for two weeks

and got no where close to an essay that was suitable for my series of essays in my little local newspaper.

I couldn't quite get it together. I couldn't end it. Maybe it should have had a different beginning.

Here's what I had that will never see the paper-ink published light of day.

Books Bygone: A Mere Man
Marica Bernstein

On January 15, 1929 Reverend Michael King and his wife, Alberta, welcomed a son into the world. They named him Michael, Jr. Five years later Reverend King traveled with ten other Baptist preachers to the Holy Land, and then to the Wittenberg region of Germany where in the early 1500s a priest and professor of theology had translated the Bible from Greek into vernacular German. This was a turning point in history: any German who could read was now able to read the Bible himself—he was no longer dependent on Catholic priests to dispense God’s Word. The priest and theologian was Martin Luther, and Reverend King was so moved by the story of Luther’s life that he changed both his own and his son’s name to Martin Luther King.

As we commemorate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., I thought it fitting to learn a little about the man who made such an impression on his father. And wouldn’t you know? I just happen to have a book that has a few of Martin Luther’s words. “Modern Eloquence: A Library of the World’s Best Spoken Thought” (Vol. X, European Edition, 1941) is a survey of oratory. It begins with Pericles’ “Funeral Oration,” an address memorializing the first Athenian soldiers to die in the Peloponnesian War which ended in 429 B.C. The editor comments, “As a memorial to fallen soldiers, it has perhaps never been surpassed except in the Gettysburg Address of Abraham Lincoln.” The survey ends with Winston Churchill’s “An Appeal to the Italian People,” in which, in 1940, Churchill speaks directly to Italians reminding them that “one man and one alone [Mussolini] has ranged the Italian people in deadly struggle against the British Empire… .” In between these pages are the words of, among others, Socrates, St. Paul, St. Francis, William Pitt, Robespierre, Napoleon, Prince Edward, and a man who describes himself as “wanting in manners that befit a court. … a mere man” defending himself “after the example of Jesus Christ.”

Though the list of Luther’s writings and orations against what he believed to be the Church’s false teaching that the only way to God is through the Church—meaning the Catholic Church and the Church-sponsored State—is extensive, it is his speech “Before the Diet of Worms” which is included in “Modern Eloquence.” The brief background provided before his speech assumes my knowledge of 16th century history is deeper than it is, but from what I gleen from several other books—including a handy World Book Encyclopedia—the central question of Luther’s life was “how does an individual find favor with God?” He was convinced that Scripture taught the answer was not by buying “indulgences” to fund construction of new churches and so on. In 1517 Luther posted his “Nintey-five theses to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenburg. The theses challenged, among other things, the Church’s practice of selling indulgences as a way to atone for sin. Later, he denied the “supremacy of the Pope” and by 1521 the Pope had had quite enough of Luther and excommunicated him. He was then commanded by the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire to appear before a “diet,” or meeting, of noble and clergymen in the city of Worms, Germany where he was asked to recant all that he had written and said.

Luther’s speech is a testament to our common interest in determining the course of our lives.

“Therefore, most supreme emperor, and you illustrious princes, and all whether high or low, who hear me, I implore you by the mercies of God to prove to me by the writings of the prophets and apostles that I am in error. As soon as I shall be convinced, I will instantly retract all my errors, and will myself be the first to seize my writings and commit them to the flames.”

“Modern Eloquence Volume X: Historical Masterpieces European.” Ashley H. Thordike, ed. P.F. Collier & Son, New York. 1941 (with previous copyright dates).

Available free to read or downoad at, and at online booksellers.

See what I mean? It's got some good stuff. You gotta love that "commit them to the flames," don't you? But I wasn't able to make it happen as an essay. Maybe I should just go back to being a vegetable farmer. 

Just kidding. 

But I am starting to plant. 

Earthrise: A Little Project From Back in the Day

Six minutes you need to listen to. See the Earth come up. Listen to them search for color film.

Tip of the Hat to Mr. Big Food's Dad.

A Little Project

That's correct. The Farm came with a pool-- a great big giant cesspool.
No surprise. We knew there had been termites.
Step 1
I am not sure what's next except that we will call it "Step 2." But I am sure we will get to the finished product eventually.

You can see it can't you?  A nice little two bedroom apartment and and greenhouse? You can see it, right?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Books Bygone: What does history mean to you?

My weekly column is up at our little weekly newspaper. Also conveniently available along with the others that have been published here.

This week's book is Citizenship Plays: A Dramatic Reader for Upper Grades, Eleanore Hubbard. Benj. H. Sanborn & Co., Chicago, New York, Boston, 1929.

All Gussied Up at the Waffle House

On our way to Jackson yesterday.
This photo is interesting to me for two reasons. First, we were the most dressed up folks at the Waffle House. Second, Mr. Big Food was the only one at the meeting in Jackson with camo sunglasses. Two worlds.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Red sky at night,
Sailors' delight
Red sky in the morning...

Sailors take warning!
According to Instant Weather Forecasting (Alan Watts, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, 1968) this sky is associated with "moderate deterioration." A warm front is approaching. It's all about the breaks in the clouds and the perpendicular wind directions. Rain and wind possibly on the way.


But let's see what the experts are forecasting.

It is an empirical question which is to say, "We shall see."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Not soup so not an contest entrant.
Santa Fe Beef Stew in the Slow Cooker.

Shhhh. I didn't let on to Mr Big Food but I messed up-- it's a complicated fancy slow cooker with a bunch of digital gadgets and lights and 0.7 timers and all. The cooker was prepared before he and Miss M ventured into the Real World today at about 7. All I had to do was to set the crockpot for 11 hours on low and turn the stupid thing on at 8.

It took me until 8:40 to figure out that I had been out smarted by a slow cooker.

At 8, I set it for 11 hours, but failed to turn the stupid thing on.

At the 11 hour mark-- that would be 7pm-- I was to increase the power level to "high" and insert some veggies.

I did some adjustments. I was 40 minutes late in turning the stupid thing on but the more I thought about it, the less important those 40 minutes were.

At 7:20 I powered it up to "high" and threw in the zucchini.

No one noticed. And that-- Hey Aggie!- is the joy of slow cooking.

Recipe: Homemade Chicken Soup

Topped with Fluffy Dumplings
Well, this is embarrassing. This soup was of course a contestant in our 2013/14 Fall and Winter Soup Contest. (More soup recipes at the link.) We enjoyed it back on December 30th. Mr. Big Food assures me we discussed its ranking at the time but I see no mention of it in my contest notes. I will have to poll the other judges.

For my money-- this is the clear winner so far. How can you possibly beat Homemade Chicken Soup with Fluffy Dumplings? (Dumplings substitute for noodles in this version.)

Serves 8 

5-6 lb stewing chicken, cut up 
6 C water 
1/3 C onion, chopped 
2 tsp salt 
¼ tsp pepper 
1 bay leaf 
6 medium ears corn, kernels cut from cobs, cobs scraped (about 2 C) OR 1 lb can cream-style corn 
1 ½ C uncooked Homemade Noodles (see recipes in Casseroles … and Tex-Czech sections) 
1 C celery, chopped 
2 Tbsp snipped parsley 

In a large kettle, combine chicken, water, onion, salt, pepper, and bay leaf, bring to boiling, and simmer covered for about 2 hours or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from broth and, when cool enough to handle, remove meat from skin and bones, cut meat into bite-sized pieces, and set aside. Skim excess fat from broth, discard bay leaf, and bring broth to boiling. Add corn kernels and scrapings or cream-style corn, Homemade Noodles, celery, and parsley, and simmer covered for about 8 minutes or until corn and noodles are barely done. Add chicken meat and heat through for about 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings if necessary.