Cotton Pickin’ Fair

A wonderful festival that happens twice a year near me is the Cotton Pickin’ Fair in Gay, GA.  We have attended this festival MANY times in the 24 years that I have lived in Peachtree City.  The first weekend in May and the first weekend in October is when this event takes place.  It is held on an old 1910 farmstead in Gay, GA.

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The crowds were sparse because the rain from the week graciously provided by Hurricane Joaquin, but that just meant short lines for the blooming onions. Score!

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The buildings from the farmstead house different vendors in addition to the traditional tents that vendors bring in. The photo below shows a real working blacksmith.  There are demonstrations throughout the day. Note the tree growing through the front porch.

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I like this festival because you can buy arts, crafts and antiques. The fair is juried so there aren’t a lot of repeats in what is being sold.


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I picked up a few Christmas presents — for myself.  Ha!  My first purchase was another vintage syrup dispenser.  I bought the green one closest to the camera. I now have six dispensers.  Do I need more?  Probably.


I also bought another vintage tin recipe card holder.  I thought I had one like it, but when I got home it didn’t exactly match any of the others so I was glad I didn’t duplicate. I’m going to keep this one as a way to keep up with my menus.  I never remember what I serve from one year to the next for Thanksgiving, or Mother’s Day, etc, or who attended and what dishes I used.  This way I will efficiently pull out my card and have it at my fingertips. My grandma used to keep up with her menus – somewhat haphazardly, but I run across a listing now and then from her old recipe box.  My mom started keeping up with hers when I mentioned a few years ago that I wanted to do it but then I never got around to it.  So NOW I’m officially in the game.  Maybe I was just waiting for the right box!



Tailgate in a Jewel Box

Wow, I didn’t mean to take two weeks off from blogging but I’m looking at the calendar and I can see now that I have been coming and going for two weeks without a check-in with everyone.  I have some pictures of my busy weeks so I’ll post a few to catch up.  I have today off for Columbus Day.  I don’t want to spend the whole day cooking and cleaning so I will take a break to spend some time here.

So, to catch up, last week after Bunco I spent the next few days getting ready for a tailgate at Berry College with Olivia (and Davis) and friends.  The food was great but the weather did not cooperate in the least.  It RAINED and RAINED.  Many of the Berry College festivities for the Mountain Day celebration were cancelled or delayed.


The campus carnival rides took place earlier in the day during a break in the rain. Normally they are from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. but today they took place before the 6 p.m. football game.


We took our tailgate inside.  The lobby of Olivia’s dorm is called the Jewel Box so we set up a table and enjoyed a lunch sitting on comfy couches rather than inside a wet tent.


The awkward prom-pose/tailgate-pose.


After eating we headed out to sit in the rain for an exciting win against Washington University.



Next up is the Cotton Pickin’ Festival in Gay, GA.


Bunco for Charity


I felt like such a society maven tonight as I attended my first charity Bunco Tournament.  It was with the school system and supported our after-school program.  I didn’t get to wear evening gowns and nibble on caviar and sip champagne, however I did get to eat chicken kebabs at a country club and shout “Snow Day.”

If you’ve never played Bunco, I will give you the 30-second rules.  You roll three dice looking for a specific number each round.  Each person keeps rolling until they no longer roll that number.  If you get three of a kind of the specific number, you yell “Bunco” and get a win for that round.  If you roll 3 of a kind of any number, you yell “Snow Day” and get 5 extra points.

Snow Day?  You say it’s not part of the Bunco rules? For teachers, we try to incorporate Snow Day juju into every event, conversation, or occasion.  Forget that it’s 80 degrees and rainy today, Snow Days are always a happy thought on the forefront.  And when I say forefront, I mean weather front.  See?  I can turn any conversation into a Snow Day wish list.

Alas, I did not win tonight.  I didn’t get any Buncos, and my wins after two rounds weren’t impressive.  Better luck next year!  But, the food was good and the conversation was even better so maybe I lucked out this year after all.

Orca Beans

DSCF4123I found these beans at Publix seemingly calling my name.  I love the coloration and the fact that I’d never seen this variety before.  I didn’t get a photo of the bag before cooking so you get to see an empty bag on my deck.  The brand is Bob’s Red Mill and I found them in the dried bean section.


Here is the finished product.  I created a chilled bean salad for my first recipe.  Later I think I would like to try them in a soup or chili.


Orca Bean Salad

4 cups cooked orca beans (cooked with onions and garlic)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup rice vinegar

juice of one fresh lime

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic minced

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 large tomato, chopped

salt and freshly ground cracked black pepper

Cook beans according to package directions.  (I used my pressure cooker and added a clove of garlic and 1/2 onion cut in large pieces along with the required water.  Do not add salt at this point if using a pressure cooker and dried beans.  See info below.)  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lime, onion, garlic, and parsley.  Fold in the tomatoes and beans.  Season with salt and pepper.  Chill several hours or overnight for best flavor.

I couldn’t believe how easy it was to use a pressure cooker to hydrate dried beans.  I am used to soaking and boiling and I still end up with bullet beans or overly cooked mush beans.  This time I had perfectly cooked beans in about 45 minutes.  Couldn’t have been easier.DSCF4118

I put one pound of beans in the pressure cooker with 8 cups of water, 4 teaspoons of oil, 1 sliced clove of garlic and 1/2 onion cut in large slices.  I left the onion and garlic in large slices because I wanted to retrieve them later. They impart flavor but go mushy and I didn’t want that texture in a cold salad.  If I had been making a bean soup I would have chopped them finer and left them in there. According to the manufacturer’s directions, you don’t add salt until after cooking because it will make the beans more tender if you don’t.

I now have an electric pressure cooker instead of the older traditional ones.  I have used both but do prefer the electric one.  Takes the stress and guesswork out of using it.  For this recipe the pressure cooker is set for 32 minutes however it did take about 15 minutes to come to pressure.  But I didn’t think 45 minutes from dried to delicious was an outrageous amount of time.

After cooking, I rinsed the beans and folded them into the salad.  I like the taste of the lime in this recipe.  It really brightens up the flavor.  The beans themselves have a dense creamy texture.  Very tasty in a salad and I’m sure would be good as a soup, too.

Off to my laundry mosh pit.  I dump my clean clothes on my spare bed and they await my folding, sorting, or ironing.  The pile gets high on occasion and sometimes I feel like jumping on it like a concert mosh pit.  Thankfully, I don’t and my dignity remains intact.

Butternut Squash Soup

I enjoy eating soup and I am also happy to have an excuse to get out these pumpkin soup bowls I purchased from Williams Sonoma a couple of years ago.  I love the time in September when fall starts to show up but we’re not quite ready for Halloween yet.  These bowls and tureen are perfect for that.


Tonight I made butternut squash soup with a potato leaf topping.  This soup is creamy and good and somewhat filling although I don’t really find many soups to be filling except for chili.  But chili is more of a stew so I guess I can say that I don’t find any soups to be filling.  I eat them and then an hour later I’m looking around for a cheeseburger.

I’m not the only one.


A quick internet search will show you that other people are happy to find a burger after the soup course.


Just kidding….sorta.

This soup is quite easy to make and a family favorite, in spite of my critical percipience. (Ha! Look that one up!   I just found it on the cheeseburger internet search.)  I’ve made this soup many times and like the garlic pasta from a couple of days ago, I typically dump ingredients rather than measure.  I’ll give you the original recipe and then you can dump from there.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash

1  14.5-ounce can chicken broth

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup half-and-half

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup salted cashews, finely chopped

Peel the butternut squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds.  Chop into two-inch pieces and boil or steam until tender ( I used my pressure cooker for 6 minutes in a cup of water – super quick and easy). (I’m determined that I will get you ALL hooked on pressure cookers.)  Puree the cooked squash with 3/4 cup chicken broth and set aside.  In a medium stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat and cook the garlic until soft.  Stir in the flour and ginger.  Slowly add the rest of the chicken broth and stir until smooth.  Add the pureed squash.  (I used an immersion blender to make sure it was completely smooth after adding.)  Add the half-and-half and reduce heat to simmer.  Salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving stir in the cashews.

Fall Leaves Potato Garnish

2 medium potatoes



salt and paprika

Peel and slice the potatoes and place in water.  Use a cookie cutter to cut leaf shapes from the slices of potatoes. Pat the leaves dry with a paper towel. Fry in about 1 inch of oil until crisp. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt and paprika.

Here are a few photos to help you on your way.  I cut the potatoes with a small metal cookie cutter. I have bunches and bunches of cookie cutters so finding a good one wasn’t hard.


I fried them in a small pan of oil.  I used a soybean and canola blend from Wesson. I have a little bonus slice in my pan at this point.


Then I sprinkled salt and paprika on top.


This potato idea came a Southern Living cookbook.  I think it has some great possibilities for other shapes and other occasions.


It’s raining outside right now so this was a perfect choice for cozy September supper.


Brake Pad

We went to an interesting restaurant today near the Atlanta airport called the Brake Pad. We first went on a 3.5 mile walk around my old neighborhood to burn off a few calories so we wouldn’t feel so guilty about our yummy dinner. The Brake Pad is considered American Pub Grub and it was a fun place to go for a great hamburger. It is housed in a very old gas service station in College Park, GA.  I got this photo off of the internet because mine was a little dark.  Turns out this one is a little dark, too.




Terri got a brisket taco and I ordered a bacon cheddar hamburger with fries. This however is a picture of a chicken and bean quesadilla.  Again, bad personal photos so I improvised from the internet from other people’s visits. Looks tasty.  Maybe I’ll try it next time. I’m pretty much a repeat orderer though.  If I find something I like, I order it every time I go somewhere so I will have a hard time breaking away from my original cheeseburger.

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I went walking with the three bird-kateers.  Here is a walking selfie from a few months ago during our first ever 5K. We had a great time then and we had a great time tonight. I’m looking forward to more Wednesday walk-and-dines.


Chocolate Fried Pies – Save Up Some Calories!

I have been gone for quite a few evenings lately and eating out, so I was excited tonight to have a chance to cook a full meal from scratch.  I decided to make our favorite pasta and then tried a new recipe for dessert.


First, we had a creamy garlic pasta sauce with broccoli and chicken.  I can give you an approximate recipe but it is very forgiving and you can dump away and it will still taste good.  I guarantee it.

Creamy Garlic Pasta 

8 ounces bow tie pasta, cooked

1 large chicken breast, cooked and diced

1 large clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 16-ounce can chicken broth

1  8-ounce package cream cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup milk or half-and-half

salt to taste

Boil pasta in salted water until tender.  Bake chicken at 350 degrees 45 minutes or until tender and juices run clear. Steam the broccoli and set aside.  In a skillet, soften the garlic in the butter.  Stir in the flour and cook until smooth.  Add the chicken broth and cook until incorporated. (At this point I used an immersion blender to make it smoother.) Stir in the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese.  Stir in the milk.  Add the chicken and broccoli.  Adjust taste with salt. You can add more milk if you like a thinner sauce or leave thick. Serves 4.

Now, for the good part.  The fried chocolate pies.  I have never attempted fried pies before so when I saw the recipe, I knew it was time to expand my repertoire. This recipe came from a Southern Living diner cookbook.  It is from a restaurant called Cabana in Tennessee.  I accomplished this recipe with only one slight burn on my arm from the hot oil.  Needless to say, be careful!



Chocolate Fried Pies from Cabana


1 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons shortening, chilled

6 to 7 tablespoons ice water

vegetable oil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

powdered sugar

Prepare the filling.  Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a 3-quart saucepan.  Gradually whisk in the milk.  Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat 9 minutes. or until very thick.  Reduce heat to low; stir in butter and vanilla.  Remove from heat, cover, and let cool to room temperature.

Prepare the Dough. Place first 2 ingredients in a food processor, and pulse 3 or 4 times or until combined.  Add shortening, and pulse 5 or 6 times or until crumbly.  Sprinkle ice water over flour mixture and pulse until flour mixture is moistened.  Transfer from processor bowl to a floured surface, shaping into 2 balls. (I chilled mine)

Pour oil to depth of 1 inch in a dutch oven; heat to 360 degrees.

Meanwhile roll out each ball of dough to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into 3  6-inch circles (I changed this and cut into 3 1/2 inch circles with a coffee mug as my cutter.)  Spoon one tablespoon of filling in the center of each 3 1/2-inch  circle. (Use 1/3 cup with a 6-inch circle.) Brush edges of circles with egg; fold  dough over filling, and crimp edges with a fork to seal.  Fry pies, 2 at a time, in hot oil 3 minutes or until golden.  Do not turn. Drain pies on a paper towel on a rack.  Let cool.  Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.  Makes 6 large pies or 12 small ones.

Here’s a quick view of the process.  You must try it!  So delicious!

Mix together the dry ingredients for the filling.  Next add the milk and cook for NINE MINUTES stirring continuously!  Nine minutes is a long time.  Some people can run almost two miles in 9 minutes.  Turn on some music, jog in place, but don’t go anywhere and don’t stop stirring.


You will end up with a yummy, thick, chocolatey filling.


Roll out the dough and cut into circles.  I used a mug rather than a cutter.


Dollop on the filling.  Sealing these pies before frying was probably the hardest part but I finally got the hang of it.


Fry at 360 degrees.  Watch the temperature carefully.


Take lots of pictures before you eat the samples.  There are no second chances.



Free Grass Nibbling

I  thought something was up when I saw this scene.looking

I joined the lineup to see a buck, doe, and fawn nibbling the lawn.




Actually, we have quite a few deer travelling through the yard on occasion.  They usually eat my plants but tonight they concentrated on the yard weeds.  Happy to have them passing by and snipping off a few tasty treats.


Keep it up!  Less grass to mow.


I can’t go to my high school homecoming anymore.  Headland High School was demolished.

This is a 1962 photo but the building looked the same when I got there 12 years later except for the clothes, and except we really didn’t walk around in two’s as just about everyone in this photo is doing, and we didn’t have a panhandler in the front begging for money, or two people on the left going to the bathroom on the trees.  Ha Ha!  That’s what they get for posing so awkwardly in my vintage photo from the internet!

I enjoyed my high school years.  I still have many terrific friends from Headland.  Davis is enjoying his high school experience, too. He had his homecoming this week and was voted on the court for the seniors.  He’s a popular fella!


I added this next photo so you can see his pretty blue eyes. He was talking in this photo or perhaps rolling those blue eyes at me but I had to include it regardless of the circumstances because I liked it so much.


The theme this year was Disney so the 4 halls of the school were decorated like different theme parks at Disney and depicted different rides.  The parade on Thursday also had a Disney theme.


We had a visit from Captain Jack Sparrow.


He was throwing his booty to the children of our fair city.



We saw cows…


…and more boats.


And then I see Davis arrive.  Notice I’ve taken many a photo at this point. Most of them are somewhat successful and in focus.





So I of course do what any good mom would do and run into the street and yell “Wait” and the mom driving the car recognizes a kindred spirit and does indeed wait.  So at this point the parade has stopped so I can get my picture. His friends are cracking up laughing and he is begging me to get out of the street and go back to my little blue fold-up chair.


They are still cracking up even as the parade passes by.  Look at the mom driving.  All is well, though, and I got my picture.


The next night was the Homecoming football game.. Here is Davis in his suit in front of the crowd.  It’s a big high school and a large crowd for the game.



My high school (and elementary school) friend Terri came to homecoming for Davis support and she sat with my mom as I was required to escort Davis on the field.  Thank you for coming Terri!!!! A little side trivia is that my mom taught Terri in fifth grade.



It was a fun night.  We went out to eat afterwards and then it was rise and shine the next morning to go on Davis’s official college visit to Berry.  We met Olivia and watched game three of the Berry Vikings. Great weekend.



Contest Update

The recipe contest I won from GEMA is underway.  Now my recipe is competing against six professional chefs and their recipes.  Yikes!!!  You can go and vote for me at the ReadyGA Facebook page. There are great prizes for voting such as ready kits and restaurant gift cards. However, in order to win the prizes, you have to be a Georgia resident.  But you can help me not be in last place if you’re on Facebook because I think you can throw me some votes even if you don’t live in Georgia.  You just won’t be eligible for the prizes.  Go to the link below.  You can vote every day to have a better chance at winning the gift cards.

Vote here:

You can also see a guest blog post I wrote for them here:

Other publicity from the Fayette Citizen is linked here:

and here:

It was also in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

It was also on my school website and local tv channel but both have been taken off for more recent events and accomplishments.  Fame is fleeting. :-)

I have had lots of fun with this contest and it has motivated me in 2 ways.  One is to create more recipes for alternative cooking.  I like the idea of having many more tasty meals ready to go in my pantry.  I think PB&J is good but a hot skillet meal would be even better during a power outage.  Most of our power outages occur in winter with the snow and ice.  A comfort meal would be most welcome at that time.

The second way this contest has motivated me is to enter more contests!  I’m going to start looking around for more opportunities that match my cooking style.   My friends will tell you that I am the preparedness girl and even helped them put together car emergency kits last February, so this GEMA contest was a good fit for me.  Now I need to find another opportunity that matches my interests.  Let’s see.  I like chocolate,  grits,  watermelon, and watching American Ninja Warrior on TV.  Hmmm….Ninja Grits?  I like it!


Here is a copy of the most recent Fayette Citizen article telling about the contest.

Georgians can now vote for Kedron teacher in recipe contest

Kedron Elementary School teacher Julie Murphy, winner of the amateur division in the No Power? No Problem! Recipe Contest, now squares off against six professional chefs for the overall title.

Murphy’s recipe for salmon pie is competing against other dishes such as truck stop noodles with braised beef jerky and cheesy chicken tacos.

If you have ever lost electricity due to a power outage, you understand how difficult it can be to prepare a good meal. Is it even possible to prepare a delicious meal using only non-perishable ingredients, manual cooking tools and alternative heating sources? That’s the challenge these seven chefs have accepted in the second annual No Power? No Problem! Recipe Contest. This is the first time that amateurs have competed in the event.

Georgia residents 18 and older can vote daily through Sept. 30 on the Ready Georgia Facebook page for their favorite of seven recipes submitted for the contest, which is designed to raise awareness about the importance of stocking at least a three-day supply of water and food.

Each person that votes will be entered into a random drawing to win one of three weekly prizes featuring a Ready kit full of emergency supplies and $50 in gift cards to participating chefs’ restaurants. The grand prize winner will take home a Ready kit and $100 in restaurant gift cards at the conclusion of the contest.

For more information about preparing for emergencies or to download a copy of the “no power” recipes, visit