Archive | September 2012

Jambalaya


I am half way through my stay in Tennessee now and thought I’d try another southern recipe.  This one comes from Louisiana and it’s called Jambalaya. It’s the first time I’ve made Jambalaya so it was a real experiment as far as I’m concerned, but it turned out really nice. Next time I will do it a little differently, but that’s what cooking is all about isn’t it.

It was the very first time I’ve cooked with garlic or cayenne pepper so that was a step into the dark. I don’t like garlic at all myself, but since it would not be in any way authentic without it, I bravely put the garlic clove into the chopper and chopped away.  I had to hold my nose while it cooked but it didn’t seem to affect the taste at all.

Here are the ingredients:

2 pounds of chicken parts (I left the chicken out this time, using just shrimp because there were only two of us. Next time I will use chicken as well but not as much as this.)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (don’t be tempted to use more than this.  Believe me, you won’t need it!)

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (this surprised me. I would have thought olive oil would be more appropriate, but no! vegetable it is. I used Canola)

8 ounces andouille or other spicy smoked sausage such as kielbasa, cut into 1/4 inch slices. (I left this out, again because there are only two of us. When I get back to England I will do it again and use Chorizo, which is a Spanish sausage. I don’t know what andouille sausage is, but I guess it’s a bit like Chorizo.)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped.

1 stalk celery (I left this out because I didn’t want the mix to be too watery.)

2 cloves garlic, minced. (I used one)

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

1 cup of long-grain rice. (I cheated and bought a packed of Jambalaya rice. I thought if I messed up on the main part, at least we’d have rice to eat.)

1 16 ounce can of whole tomatoes in juice. (Again I left this out because I would have had a mountain of food otherwise).

1 cup of fish stock.

1/2 cup water.

1 bay leaf

1/2 pound shrimp

4 green onions. In England we call these Spring onions. See picture.

1/2 teaspoon of hot-pepper sauce or to taste.

‘This dish had humble beginnings as a poor man’s catchall for leftover meats, fish and sausages and plenty of rice.  Today it is one of the most revered dishes in Louisiana, and both Creole and Cajun cuisines proudly claim it as their own.’ From the cookbook ‘The Best of New Orleans’ which Larry bought for me when he went there recently.

I put peas into the recipe because I like green vegetables.

Here are the shrimp. I used frozen shrimp because that’s easier but you are supposed to use the whole shrimp, complete with tails.

This dish reminds me very much of the Spanish dish Paella, which has similar ingredients.

Here it is cooking:

Method:

Basically you throw it all in the pan and cook it till it’s done. Always best to start with the part that needs the most cooking. In this recipe that would be the chicken, but since I didn’t use it this time, I started with the vegetables, adding the shrimp afterwards.  It’s a mistake to overcook the shrimp because they go tough.

Here is the rice cooking: Easy – just follow the instructions on the packet, which are basically adding the rice to water, bringing to boil and simmering till all the water is absorbed and the rice is al dente.

…and on the plate: looks good doesn’t it and plenty for two people.  This was my portion.  It went down a treat.

Ramsey Plantation House


Constructed about 1797 for Francis A. Ramsey, the late-Georgian house has a central passage plan on both floors.  Ramsey’s eldest son, William B.A. Ramsey, inherited the house in 1820 on his father’s death.  In 1840, he sold it to his brother James G.A. Ramsey, who in turn gave it to his son Francis A. Ramsey as a wedding present in 1857.  In 1952 Knoxville Chapter of the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities purchased the house from a subsequent owner and began to restore it.  The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.

Last Saturday there was an open day and we went along to look at it. There was a Craft Fare in the grounds and the weather was lovely so we had a great time looking round the house and visiting all the stalls. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos inside the house so there are none of those to look at, but if you ever get the chance do visit it yourself.  It’s well worth the trip.

So here I am outside the house. There is a central door with a path leading up to it, but we were told that the original residents didn’t use the path much, preferring to go round the back because the area at the front of the house  is swampy. Opposite the house on the other side of the road was a large, swampy pond. At least one of the original owner’s children died from Malaria which was caused by a mosquito bite. Mosquitos breed in watery places. After the death of his dear child, the owner had the pond drained.  How sad to lose a little girl like that.

The house has a central door on the first floor, right above the main front door. This was used when furniture needed upstairs. The furniture would be hoisted up and through that door. To the right of the main house is a log cabin. You can see it in the picture. At first I thought this was going to be the kitchen, but later found out that it was the original house where the owner and his family lived whilst the main house was being built.  To build and own a house as large as this one made the owner a rich man because most people would have lived in a log cabin in those days.

The next picture shows the kitchen which was added on to the main house. Usually the kitchen was in a separate building owing to the risk of fire. If the kitchen caught fire, then it probably would not spread to the main house. That was their way of thinking back then.

This is a wooden house quilt on the wall. Isn’t it pretty?

One of the first stalls we came across was a friendly couple who were making and selling popcorn.

…and soon after a stall selling home-made ice cream. We had to try it!

Then I found this lovely old veteran from the Civil War and asked if I could have my picture taken with him. He obliged and this is the result.

Next picture shows the back of the home-made ice cream stall with all the paraphernalia needed to make the delicious ice cream.

The people at the next stall were cooking something delicious in a Dutch oven. From Wikipedia = Dutch oven is a thick-walled (usually cast ironcooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. Dutch ovens have been used as cooking vessels for hundreds of years. They are called casserole dishes in English speaking countries other than the USA (“casserole” means “pot” in French), and cocottes in French,

The Wenlock Jug


‘The Wenlock Jug

The Wenlock Jug.

This bronze jug was almost sold to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for £750,000[4] but was export-stopped in October 2005 by culture minister, David Lammy, based on a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, run by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

Decorated with coats of arms, including the royal arms used between 1340 and 1405, the jug bears the inscription My Lord Wenlock. It is thought the jug was made for either William Wenlock, who died in 1391 and was canon of St Paul’s CathedralArchdeacon of Rochester and a canon of King’s Chapel, Westminster, or his great-nephew John, the first Lord Wenlock, who was a major figure in the fifteenth century serving every king from Henry V to Edward IV. Both had strong connections with Luton.

“The two Wenlocks associated with the jug, William and his nephew John, both lived in Luton and the family name figures in the medieval guild register in our collection” Maggie Appleton, Luton museum.

It was bought by Luton Museums Service for 300 times its normal annual acquisitions budget to equal the offer of the Metropolitan,[5] thanks to the overwhelming generosity of several key organisations and donations from many individuals. It is a rare example of a jug cast by the English bronze founder and bearing his mark. Virtually unknown until its recent sale, the jug gives scholars the important opportunity to research into Medieval metalworking skills and expertise.

On Monday 14 May 2012 it was reported [1] that the jug had been stolen following a break in at the Stockwood Discovery Centre in Luton. It’s current location is unknown.’

+++ Ah ha! but the story doesn’t end there…

The above information is from Wikipedia.org.uk. It tells about the greatest treasure in my home town, The Wenlock Jug, stolen in May this year! Today I heard that it has been recovered and I am so thrilled about that. Here is the link. Be happy with me!

Oma

Harvesting Herbs – Angelica


Herbs can transform ordinary foods and always enhance the flavour of your favourite dishes.  The amount used in cooking depends on individual taste and on the type of herb.  Strongly flavoured herbs such as bay, sage, thyme, oregano and rosemary should be used sparingly.  Herbs have also been used for centuries to promote good health but always consult a doctor first if you have a condition, which needs attention.

Chop your gathered herbs at the last minute so that the full flavour of the aromatic oils is captured in the dish.  Fresh herbs go well with vegetables and can often be used as a seasoning instead of salt.  Basil and savory are valuable to people on low-salt diets.  Many fresh herbs such as caraway, chervil, lemon balm, salad burnet, savory and sorrel are not readily available from the local fruit and vegetable market but can all be grown easily and quickly in your garden or on the kitchen window sill.  Remember that the flavour of dried herbs is more concentrated so you should use them in smaller quantities.

Today I’m starting on an alphabet of herbs to take us into winter.  The first one is going to be ANGELICA. See picture above from Wikipedia above.

ANGELICA

(Angelica archangelica)

This is a biennial or perennial herb, which grows to 20 cms or more.  Leaves are feather-like and soft green, stems are round, ribbed and hollow.  Flowers are yellow-green in umbels, i.e. a clustr of flowers with stalks of nearly equal length, which spring from about the same point.  Best suited to cool climate areas where it can be planted in sun or semi-shade.  Shelter from strong wind is desirable because the stems are brittle.

HISTORY

It is said that Angelica was first used medicinally after an angel revealed its powers to cure the plague.  Carthusian monks first used the seeds in the making of Chartreuse and it is also used in Vermouth.

FOLK LORE

At one time houses were scented by the burning roots and seeds in order to purify the interior.

CULINARY USES

Angelica stems can be candied  In its candied form the stalks become bright green and look most attractive when decorating cakes. They can also be used instead of sugar when stewing sour fruits like rhubarb.  It is a useful plant because you can use the leaves, stems, roots and seeds.  Good value for effort in growing!

The edible roots  and can be served as a vegetable.

Include chopped leaves in salads. If you dry the leaves first, they can be used for pot pourri and herb pillows.

The tips can be cooled in jams and marmalade.

The seeds are used in flavouring gin and some liqueurs.  The roots can be dried then ground or powdered to use as a fixative in pot pourri.

MEDICINAL USES OF ANGELICA

Angelica is both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. The plant acts as an expectorant and can be used to relieve the symptoms of a cold or to soothe a cough.

Angelica stimulates the circulation is also used by medical herbalists in cases of nervous asthma, urinary infection and painful periods.

Angelica can help you to avoid flatulence and ease digestion. It stimulates and warms the digestive system.

MORE ABOUT HERBS

  • Fresh herbs can be dried or frozen for winter use.
  • Basil, thyme, marjoram and nasturtium can be used as a pepper substitute.
  • Herbs can be used to replace salt intake: try lovage, thyme and marjoram.
  • Scatter edible flowers over salads: marigolds, nasturtium and the blue flowers of borage all look fantastic used this way.
  • Comfrey makes an excellent liquid fertiliser with a high potash content.  Steep leaves in hot water for 24 hours.  Bottle in an airtight container and dilute in the ratio of 1:10 leaves to water.

Source of the above: Environment Friendly Home Hints by Family Circle and

Traditional Herbal Remedies by Jenny Plucknett

Warning: Do not take Angelica if you suffer from diabetes.

It’s the first day of Autumn.


‘Autumn prepares us for the change from warm to cold as we head towards winter.  The days are shorter and colder, the colours of the leaves alter and fruits are ripening, but we feel invigorated.

For many, Autumn is the most vivid and wonderful of the seasons, bearing comparison to a growing personal maturity and a delight in the ripeness of life.  Now is the time for completing outdoor tasks and drawing inspiration from nature’s myriad activities.

We too can plant seeds that will dwell on through the colder months and germinate as projects the following Spring.  Let’s make an effort to acknowledge the harvest this year – either at Hallowe’en or Thanksgiving.  Let’s note the changes, celebrate them and respond to them.  Our senses and energy are heightened by the blend of sunshine and crisp, cool weather. Enjoy it!

Herbal Therapy

Try never to miss the magic of a moment.  At this time of the year, as the sap of trees and flowers returns to their root systems, we too are preparing to turn inward.  Use these last magnificent days to prolong the joy of the harvest.  Gather in your late summer herbs and make herb pillows and amulets from the bounty of garden and hedges.  Amulets are small pouches stuffed with different herbs chosen for love or success, into which some of your own magic words have been spoken.  Cut lavender and rose for love pillows, mint to rid yourself of negativity, majoram and rosemary for protection, lemon balm and basil for success in business.  Make simple pillows or bags and give some as gifts.  If you haven’t enough of your own grown herbs, buy one or two pots and harvest from them.’

from Titania’s Book of Hours

Autumn
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John Clare (1821)
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The summer-flower has run to seed,
And yellow is the woodland bough;
And every leaf of bush and weed
Is tipt with autumn’s pencil now.

And I do love the varied hue,
And I do love the browning plain;
And I do love each scene to view,
That’s mark’d with beauties of her reign.

The woodbine-trees red berries bear,
That clustering hang upon the bower;
While, fondly lingering here and there,
Peeps out a dwindling sickly flower.

The trees’ gay leaves are turned brown,
By every little wind undress’d;
And as they flap and whistle down,
We see the birds’ deserted nest.

No thrush or blackbird meets the eye,
Or fills the ear with summer’s strain;
They but dart out for worm and fly,
Then silent seek their rest again.

Beside the brook, in misty blue,
Bilberries glow on tendrils weak,
Where many a bare-foot splashes through,
The pulpy, juicy prize to seek:

For ’tis the rustic boy’s delight,
Now autumn’s sun so warmly gleams,
And these ripe berries tempt his sight,
To dabble in the shallow streams.

And oft his rambles we may trace,
Delv’d in the mud his printing feet,
And oft we meet a chubby face
All stained with the berries sweet.

The cowboy oft slives down the brook,
And tracks for hours each winding round,
While pinders, that such chances look,
Drive his rambling cows to pound.

The woodland bowers, that us’d to be
Lost in their silence and their shade,
Are now a scene of rural glee,
With many a nutting swain and maid.

The scrambling shepherd with his hook,
’Mong hazel boughs of rusty brown
That overhang some gulphing brook,
Drags the ripen’d clusters down.

While, on a bank of faded grass,
Some artless maid the prize receives;
And kisses to the sun-tann’d lass,
As well as nuts, the shepherd gives.

I love the year’s decline, and love
Through rustling yellow shades to range,
O’er stubble land, ’neath willow grove,
To pause upon each varied change:

And oft have thought ’twas sweet, to list
The stubbles crackling with the heat,
Just as the sun broke through the mist
And warm’d the herdsman’s rushy seat;

And grunting noise of rambling hogs,
Where pattering acorns oddly drop;
And noisy bark of shepherds’ dogs,
The restless routs of sheep to stop;

While distant thresher’s swingle drops
With sharp and hollow-twanking raps;
And, nigh at hand, the echoing chops
Of hardy hedger stopping gaps;

And sportsmen’s trembling whistle-calls
That stay the swift retreating pack;
And cowboy’s whoops, and squawking brawls,
To urge the straggling heifer back.

Autumn-time, thy scenes and shades
Are pleasing to the tasteful eye;
Though winter, when the thought pervades,
Creates an ague-shivering sigh.

Grey-bearded rime hangs on the morn,
And what’s to come too true declares;
The ice-drop hardens on the thorn,
And winter’s starving bed prepares.

No music’s heard the fields among;
Save where the hedge-chats chittering play,
And ploughman drawls his lonely song,
As cutting short the dreary day.

Now shatter’d shades let me attend,
Reflecting look on their decline,
Where pattering leaves confess their end,
In sighing flutterings hinting mine.

For every leaf, that twirls the breeze,
May useful hints and lessons give;
The falling leaves and fading trees
Will teach and caution us to live.

“Wandering clown,” they seem to say,
“In us your coming end review:
Like you we lived, but now decay;
The same sad fate approaches you.”

Beneath a yellow fading tree,
As red suns light thee, Autumn-morn,
In wildest rapture let me see
The sweets that most thy charms adorn.

O while my eye the landscape views,
What countless beauties are display’d;
What varied tints of nameless hues, —
Shades endless melting into shade.

A russet red the hazels gain,
As suited to their drear decline;
While maples brightest dress retain,
And in the gayest yellows shine.

The poplar tree hath lost its pride;
Its leaves in wan consumption pine;
They hoary turn on either side,
And life to every gale resign.

The stubborn oak, with haughty pride
Still in its lingering green, we view;
But vain the strength he shows is tried,
He tinges slow with sickly hue.

The proudest triumph art conceives,
Or beauties nature’s power can crown,
Grey-bearded time in shatters leaves;
Destruction’s trample treads them down.

Tis lovely now to turn one’s eye,
The changing face of heaven to mind;
How thin-spun clouds glide swiftly by,
While lurking storms slow move behind.

Now suns are clear, now clouds pervade,
Each moment chang’d, and chang’d again;
And first a light, and then a shade,
Swift glooms and brightens o’er the plain.

Poor pussy through the stubble flies,
In vain, o’erpowering foes to shun;
The lurking spaniel points the prize,
And pussy’s harmless race is run.

The crowing pheasant, in the brakes,
Betrays his lair with awkward squalls;
A certain aim the gunner takes,
He clumsy fluskers up, and falls.

But hide thee, muse, the woods among,
Nor stain thy artless, rural rhymes;
Go leave the murderer’s wiles unsung,
Nor mark the harden’d gunner’s crimes.

The fields all clear’d, the labouring mice
To sheltering hedge and wood patrole,
Where hips and haws for food suffice,
That chumbled lie about their hole.

The squirrel, bobbing from the eye,
Is busy now about his hoard,
And in old nest of crow or pye
His winter-store is oft explor’d.

The leaves forsake the willow grey,
And down the brook they whirl and wind;
So hopes and pleasures whirl away,
And leave old age and pain behind.

The thorns and briars, vermilion-hue,
Now full of hips and haws are seen;
If village-prophecies be true,
They prove that winter will be keen.

Hark! started are some lonely strains:
The robin-bird is urg’d to sing;
Of chilly evening he complains,
And dithering droops his ruffled wing.

Slow o’er the wood the puddock sails;
And mournful, as the storms arise,
His feeble note of sorrow wails
To the unpitying frowning skies.

More coldly blows the autumn-breeze;
Old winter grins a blast between;
The north-winds rise and strip the trees,
And desolation shuts the scene.

Time for one last picnic.


Box Hill Picnic Excursion

Two or three more of the chosen only were to be admitted to join them, and it was to be done in a quiet, unpretending, elegant way, infinitely superior to the bustle and preparation, the regular eating and drinking and picnic parade of the Eltons and the Sucklings.

It was now the middle of June and the weather fine; and Mrs. Elton was growing impatient to name the day and settle with Mr. Weston as to pigeon-pies and cold lamb, when a carriage-horse threw everything into sad uncertainty.  It might be weeks, it might be only a few days before the horse were unseeable, but no preparations could be ventured on and it was melancholy stagnation.  Mrs. Elton’s resources were inadequate to such an attack.

from Emma by Jane Austen 1816

+++

Saturday is the first day of Autumn and Autumn is my favourite time of the year but today I am thinking about picnics. A late summer picnic can be fraught with wasps, which torment us and cause us to almost lose heart, yet still we yearn to eat outside. Basking in the late summer sun so mellow and warm is the perfect way to look back at the summer and remember all the good days we’ve had. It’s a time to think about the new friends we have made and the new places we have visited. It’s a time to enjoy for one last time the cucumber sandwiches and Victoria sponge cakes which taste so nice with a hot cup of tea.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my friends, new and old, who follow my Blog. I appreciate your visits and your comments and look forward to celebrating the new season with you.

So as the summer ends and we start to hear the wind picking up and warning us of the changes to come, I’ll leave you with this lovely picture to remind us to be thankful for the people and things we have in our lives today.

photo: anon

God Bless xxx Oma

Pecan Pie – a recipe from Oma’s kitchen.


While I am in America I intend to try out a few Southern recipes. This week it’s going to be Pecan Pie, which is a favourite around here in Tennessee.  A couple of the ingredients are unfamiliar to me, namely Pecan nuts and Corn Syrup.  Here are the ingredients:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pastry case apx. 9 inch.
  • 1 tablespoon of butter or soft margarine for my English friends.
  • 1 cup of dark brown sugar, 4 ozs for my English friends.
  • 1 cup of Corn Syrup, 4 ozs for my English friends.
  • 3 medium sized eggs, beaten. Interesting Fact: In America white eggs are deemed to be superior whereas in England it’s the brown ones. I’ve tasted both and I can’t tell the difference. However, I prefer the look of the brown ones.  How about you?
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla essence. Use the real stuff not the flavouring.
  • 1 cup of Pecan nuts, 4 ozs for my English friends. Crush some of the nuts, leaving a few for decoration on the top of the pie.

METHOD

Precook the pastry shell for 5 minutes at 425 degs electric or Gas 7. Then turn down the oven to 350 degs (Gas 5).

Cream the butter and sugar, add the Corn Syrup, eggs and vanilla.  Mix well, then add the pecans.

Pour into the prepared crust and bake in the centre of the oven until the filling is firm, which in the oven over here took 45 minutes.

Cool before cutting.

I prefer to eat the pie warm, but I’m told it is equally delicious.

My husband Larry, who is an expert at eating pies, said it turned out just right!

I encourage you to have a go because it really isn’t difficult and it’s something a little bit different.

This is a recipe from Oma’s kitchen. The original comes from Diana Rattray.