If You Like Pecan Sandies…

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After yesterday’s cornbread “cake” I decided to give this Taste of the South cookbook one more try and I made some Pecan Sandie Praline Bars.  They looked tasty in the photo and I had all the ingredients so I thought they would make a good accompaniment to my potato soup. The soup was pretty basic using potatoes, onions, water, butter, and salt so I thought I would try some thing a little more involved for dessert.

In my younger years, pecan sandies were not a cookie of choice for me.  Who would want a crumbly, tan, cookie when you could have a frosted sugar cookie (my favorite) or a yummy sandwich cookie with a gooey filling?  But now, I’ve grown to appreciate the more subtle taste of a pecan sandie. Sugar cookies are still my favorite but I will save room for a pecan sandie if offered.

I looked up the origin of the name of Pecan Sandie but there was nothing definitive so I will have to entertain you with a story of my own.  When I mentioned earlier about eating potato soup, it brought to mind my great-grandmother.  I remember her as making a lot of potato soup.  That may or may not be true because I was young and you don’t always remember everything perfectly from the point of view of a child, but that is the food memory I have of her.  I talked about my other grandmother from Cleveland in another post and remembered her cabbage rolls from every visit to her.  My grandma Irene was a little more adventurous in the culinary department, but if I had to name one food I remembered her for, it would be her Sunday pot roast with potatoes and carrots.

I associate my mom with her Chicken Breast Supreme because she made it a lot for company.  I just asked my kids what they associate me with and Davis said my Crescent Chicken Balls and Olivia said Baked Ziti and Brownies.  Glad they didn’t say Cheetos and Poptarts (which may or may not be in my pantry right now!!!).

I love to revisit memories of family gatherings and the great food on the table.  It’s interesting that we can share our love for friends and family with the food choices we make.  I guess that’s one of the many things I like about cooking.

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Pecan Sandie Praline Bars

Cookie Layer:

1 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Praline Layer:

2/3 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1  12-ounce package semisweet or milk chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8X8-inch baking pan with shortening and then coat with flour.  In a medium bowl beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer until creamy.  Add egg, beating until combined.  Gradually add flour, pecans, salt, and vanilla, beating until combined.  Place mixture into bottom of prepared pan.  Bake until edges are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.  For the praline layer, in a medium bowl, beat corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla until combined. Fold in pecans.  Pour over slightly cooled chocolate layer.  Bake until set, about 35 minutes. Immediately sprinkle chocolate morsels over praline layer, and let melt.  Using an offset spatula, spread melted chocolate over praline layer.  Let cool to room temperature before cutting into squares.  Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

 

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Upside Down Cranberry Apple Johnnycake

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Unfortunately, I missed a Westside Women’s luncheon Saturday but I got two kids happily off to college and my school year is underway, too.  Things are settling in.  Hopefully you will find me back at my blog a little more regularly now that the Back-to-School rush is done.

I still had a few lingering tomatoes from my summer farm stand runs so I made my favorite Savory Tomato Tart.  This time it was more of a canyon than a tart.

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We like the crust around here as much as the insides so I made a double crust for a single filling. The sides were admittedly a bit steep but we enjoyed the bonus crust that the double recipe provided.  See what I mean?

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I used fresh basil from my Pink Flamingo Herb Garden and dried basil from my pantry. I won that beautiful pink flamingo at one of our family game nights.  He has been grazing in the herbs ever since.

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For dessert I thought I would try a new recipe from a Fall Baking magazine from Taste of the South Publishers.  It is called Upside Down Cranberry Apple Johnnycake.

By now the sun was setting and I was able to snap a photo in the last rays of the evening. Quite a dramatic presentation.

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Here is the recipe.  Commentary to follow.

 

Upside Down Cranberry Apple Johnnycake

 

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons apple cider, divided

1 1/2 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (if desired) (I don’t really care if my apples brown a bit)

1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries

2 large eggs

1/3 cup whole milk

2 (8.5 ounce) packages of corn muffin mix (I used Jiffy)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with shortening or butter.  In a small saucepan, bring brown sugar and butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring for about 3 minutes.  Add the 3 tablespoons apple juice and return to a boil cooking one minute more.  Pour into prepared pan and allow to cool.  In a small bowl, stir together the apples and lemon juice.  Arrange apple slices in a circle over cooled caramel in pan, overlapping slightly.  Top with cranberries.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and remaining 1/3 cup cider.  Add corn muffin mix, stirring until combined.  Pour batter over fruit, gently smoothing top with an offset spatula.  Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean,  30 – 35 minutes.  Let cool in pan for 30 minutes.  Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen, and invert onto a serving platter.

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And now for my opinion.  It was a very showy and beautiful dish but it was a conundrum. Was it a cake?  Was it cornbread?  What would you eat it with?  I don’t want sweet corn bread with black-eyed peas but I don’t want a hunk of cornbread for dessert either.  It tasted great but it was a confusing dish to me.  I think the next time I make it I will use only one box of cornbread and more apples and then I think it will just be a nice layer of crust on the bottom and everyone will inquire as to whatever did I put on the bottom and I will make them guess and then at the most suspenseful moment ever I will tell them that it is cornbread. Of course this is how it plays out in my head so I will have to keep you posted after the real next time I make it.

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Grand Opening!

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At 5:30 a.m. Davis and two of his friends jumped out of bed and drove to our local Chick-fil-A.  Tomorrow is the grand opening.   (For some reason even though I have resized these photos three times, they are coming out gigantic – at least in the preview.  Maybe they will settle down in the post.)

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At Chick-fil-A whenever there is a grand opening they celebrate for 24 hours ahead of the opening.  The first 100 people in line 24 hours before the 6 a.m. opening camp out all night and then receive a year’s worth of Chick-fil-A for their efforts.  That’s 52 free meal coupons. Davis and two of his friends decided that this was the event for them and he was number two in line this morning.

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They attended a grand opening at a new pizza place a year ago and won over 100 pizzas between them.  They are becoming professional food squatters.

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You will NOT be cutting in front of Davis’ friend Ryan!  He is fierce this morning!

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And Cole rounded out the trio. They are great friends.

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Chick-fil-A has been feeding and entertaining them all day in their tent city. You can bring tents and chairs for the 24 hour vigil.

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At the time of writing, Davis is a little more than half way there.  They are counting down the hours.  I took these pictures off of social media.  It has been a hot, rainy but festive event.  I know he will treasure these coupons and the memories he’s making camping out for his chicken. Thanks Chick-fil-A for your generous spirit of community service!

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Meanwhile, back at school today…..

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Look how well I hooked up my computer!!!!  Just kidding. There are even pieces of it broken off on the floor.  I’m ready to go back to low tech with purple ditto machines that make the paper smell real good.

And back to chalkboards with REAL chalk and dusty erasers.  Remember how you would beg to be the one chosen to go and beat the chalk dust out of the erasers?  Or if your school was highfalutin, there was a very loud vacuum cleaner down in the bowels of the basement custodian’s quarters made especially for erasers. It was creepy but exciting to get to take the erasers down there underneath the cafeteria steps at Conley Hills Elementary School in the 1970’s.

I do miss some of the old stuff of teaching but I have to admit I enjoy the positive changes technology has brought.  I guess I just need someone to come and figure out what the heck I did to my computer!

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Loch Ness Monster Sighting

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We’ve had alligator sightings in our fair city and now there is a Loch Ness Monster sighting tonight.  The alligator sighting took place last May.  A truck driver saw an alligator under a bridge and stopped to take a photo of it.  You have to realize we live in suburbia 30 congested minutes south of Atlanta so seeing this very large and ominous creature was HIGHLY unusual. The truck driver alerted the news and Flat Creek Floyd, as the alligator was soon named for the creek he was found in, became a celebrity.

Super stupid people then began traversing the creek to try to take selfies with the alligator.  The city hired a gator catcher but so far, no luck.  Then today, there was another sighting… or maybe it was just a log. No one was sure.  The news trucks came out again and this time found a young mom with her two kids to interview.  All three were playing near the edge of the water and saying how scary it was that there might be an alligator here.

Here’s my advice:  GO HOME LADY!!!  I beg of you to use some common sense and caution.  Get your children out of jaw’s reach of this alligator.  I realize it may be a log but who wants to be the one to figure it out?  I guess I like my hands and children too much to throw caution to the wind and frolic at the edge of the alleged alligator pond.

However, I will take my chances with my new Loch Ness Monster.  I bought myself a going back to school gift and it came yesterday.  I saw this online and had to have it.  It is a soup ladle of the Loch Ness Monster.  Toooo cute!

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Here he is gliding out of my broccoli soup tonight.

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No recipe for the soup because I dumped the ingredients together: broccoli, carrots, potatoes, onions, water, milk, salt, and pepper.  Blend half in a blender; add a little cornstarch and toss in a little cheese for garnish.   Serve with a monster.

 

 

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Lunches, Pirates, and Cowboys

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As I mentioned in my last post, this was my final week of summer vacation.  As teachers, we admittedly have a sweet deal in the summer with 8 weeks off (keep in mind we don’t have paid vacation, just weeks off so it probably isn’t all that “sweet” of a deal, however financial semantics aside, I do enjoy my time in the summer.)

My goal this summer was to post on the blog every day.  I did pretty well in June with 28 posts and not as well in July with 21 posts.  Now with school starting I know I won’t be able to post every day, but I will keep them coming as often as possible.  Blogging takes a lot of time but I do enjoy it.  Since Frankly Southern is a personal hobby blog and not a money-making blog, it sometimes doesn’t get the priority it could in my life.  So bottom line, I will continue writing but probably not as frequently as in the summer.

My last week before school flew by, as expected.  We went to our favorite restaurant in Atlanta for lunch, The Swan Coach House.

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I recently made some copycat recipes for The Swan Favorite entrée.  You can see them by clicking here.

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We ordered the French Silk Swan for dessert.  It has a meringue base topped with chocolate mousse and then smothered in whipped cream.  It is very sweet, mostly from the meringue. The dessert is supposed to be in the shape of a swan, although I have never seen swans swimming around with sliced almonds on them.  Maybe that represents pieces of bread people throw at ducks and swans when they go to the park and feed them.  We did our fair share of that when the kids were little.  Olivia in particular was fascinated with feeding the ducks at the local pond and would laugh hysterically (or possibly maniacally) when they would try to bite us.

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I sat between my two favorite ladies.

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Afterward we went to the gift shop whereupon I learned that Olivia may or may not have a twin brother pirate.

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We also ambled around Lenox Square Mall testing out makeup samples and buying a few pricey items.

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My choice of store to stop and shop was The Container Store!

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I am convinced that they can contain ANYTHING except my enthusiasm for their store (sorry, couldn’t resist the cheesy joke.)

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Also in this busy week, I saw poodles in the sky.  FiFi is looking to the left in case you don’t see what I see.

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And I helped prepare for Davis and Olivia’s Western Night. If the mustaches are on, you know the party is a good one.

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Then to finish the week with a flourish, I ate all the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms. #no_shame

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Think of me tomorrow as I head back to edyookashun wonderland.  I will then start my countdown to next summer. 190 work days to go!!!!

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One Day Tray

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My summer vacation is counting down and I am in full DIY mode getting everything done and crossed off my summer list.  We go back to school August 1st.  That’s next Monday.  I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.  Only SIX days left!!!!!!!

Today I made a wooden tray with my very own hands and with a teeny tiny bit of help from Olivia.  Here she is demonstrating her sawing with a mitre box technique.  Chupa is unimpressed with her skills.

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I think she is trying to audition for a Home Improvement Show.  “Ogee with Olivia” (That’s an S-shaped molding found on baseboards.  I just Googled it.)

So enough with the shenanigans.  I needed a tray to fit on top of a microwave that I have so I measured it and determined I needed a 12 X 18 inch tray.  I had wood and no extra money for a tray so I decided to make one.  It actually was pretty easy.  I had some beadboard and a piece of 1/2′ X 1 1/2′ X 8′ strip of wood.  Other items I used were wood screws, wood glue (optional) a handsaw, a screwdriver, a jigsaw, sandpaper, white paint, and two shiny silver handles.

The cuts I used were 12×18 on the beadboard with a jigsaw and two 18-inch cuts on the strip and two 10 3/4 cuts on the strip with a handsaw.

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I then drilled starter holes in the wood where my screws were going to assemble the lip of the tray.

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I put the four strips together with the two shorter strips placed inside the longer strips. I sanded any rough edges.

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Screw on the bottom. Cover the screws with a piece of felt or felt pad.

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Paint and enjoy!  I love my new tray. It’s going on my microwave at school and will hold my napkins and plastic utensils for lunch.  It was a fun and quick project.

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It’s crossed off the summer list and now I’m on to the next.

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Favorite Brownies and Kitchen Cleaning App

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If you didn’t read  the Ketchup and Mustard  post, you completely missed out on my aromatic mustard kitchen.  I mentioned that the fumes were quite intense.  I can see why mustard gas during WWI was effective.  Wow!  I also reported that we made late night brownies to replace the odor with something more pleasant.  It did the trick.  I thought I would share the recipe of our favorite brownies in case you need an emergency kitchen aroma makeover in a hurry.

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Polly’s Picnic Brownies

from The Cat Who…Cookbook by Julie Murphy and Sally Stempinski

4  1-ounce squares baking chocolate

3/4 cup butter

6 eggs, beaten

3 cups sugar

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped nuts

 

Frosting

1/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup cocoa

4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup  milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt chocolate with butter.  Cool slightly.  In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar together.  Combine ;flour and salt with egg mixture.  Stir chocolate mixture into flour and egg mixture.  Add vanilla extract and nuts.  Pour into greased and floured 11-inch  by 15 inch pan.  Bake 30-35 minutes.  Spread with frosting.   To make frosting  beat butter until fluffy.  add cocoa and beat until well-blended.  Add powdered sugar alternately with milk.  Beat until smooth.  Blend in vanilla extract.

 

And if you didn’t read the Talented blog before that, you missed out on the fact that I wanted to find an App that would clean my kitchen.  I do try to “clean as I go” but I’m not the best at it.  This time though I purposely left a lot of things out as I went because I wasn’t sure if I would have to make the recipes again.  In addition, all my canning supplies were out and I still hadn’t put away my dehydrator.  Whew! Lots of stuff when I finally was finished.  Here is why I so desperately wanted a cleaning App or even a cleaning elf.DSC_0785

No elves or fairies appeared so I was resolved to find a good  App that would magically clean my mess.  And do you know what?  I did find one!

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It is called “App”ly some effort to the task and clean up after yourself!!!  Works every time!

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Ketchup and Mustard and the Ellie Mae to Granny Clampett Transference

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I made pickles Friday and yesterday I made some other condiments – ketchup and mustard.  A few years ago I made some ketchup and it was legendary…at least to me.  I loved it much more than commercial ketchup.  The only negative that I noticed about making and preserving ketchup is that it turned off-color pretty quickly in the jars so this time I didn’t make as much of it and didn’t preserve it. I just put it in a jar in the refrigerator.   I found out that I can freeze it so I might try that instead of water-bath canning it.

Even though I didn’t make my usual amount, I do understand why people make big batches because both recipes are time consuming — I’m not going to lie.  However, I am always intrigued by recipes that are “institutionalized” and I like to know how to make them. So now I do.  And if we are ever under a Zombie attack and everyone is out of their favorite condiments, come to my house, we will have ketchup and mustard.  We may not have anything to put them on, but we will have the condiments.

Here is the recipe in case you have a whole day to spend making ketchup instead of running to the grocery store for a $1.99 bottle. Time is money, I know, but sometimes making something interesting and new justifies the time.  Ketchup is near and dear to my heart because one of my earliest food memories is of me sitting in the kitchen and dipping some chicken in ketchup.  I’ve been eating (and wearing) ketchup for a long time.

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Ketchup

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens You Can Can: A Guide to Canning Preserving and Pickling

8 pounds tomatoes (about 24)

1 medium onion (about 1/2 cup chopped)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 cup sugar (or less to preference)

3/4 cup white vinegar

1 1/2 inches stick cinnamon, broken

1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1 tablespoon salt

Core and quarter tomatoes; drain.  In a 10-quart pot combine tomatoes, onion, and cayenne pepper.  Heat to boiling.  Cook, covered for 15 minutes, stirring often.  Press tomato mixture through a food mill or sieve.  Discard seeds and skins.  Return tomato mixture to kettle; stir in sugar.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2 hours or more until reduced by half, stirring occasionally.  In a small saucepan combine vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, and celery seeds.  Heat to boiling.  Remove from heat.  Strain vinegar mixture into tomato mixture; discard spices.  Add salt.  Simmer uncovered about 30 minutes or to desired consistency; stirring often.  To can, ladle hot ketchup into hot, sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Wipe jar rims, adjust l ids.  Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.  Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.   Or freeze in half-pint freezer containers leaving 1/2 inch head space.

The spices smelled good simmering in spite of vinegar overtones. I guess some people like a vinegar smell but it’s not my favorite.

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And then you simmer and stir ad infinitum (look at me using my classical education) until you get the ketchup juuuuust right.

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Ketchup is done and now on to mustard.  I have many jars of mustard in my refrigerator already so I thought I would try a unique variety instead of plain old yellow mustard.

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Ginger-Garlic Mustard

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Kingry and Devine

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup coarsely grated peeled gingerroot (about 1 4-inch root)

2 tablespoons chopped garlic (about 4 cloves)

1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns

1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds

1/4 cup brown mustard seeds

1 cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/3 cup dry mustard

1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a medium saucepan combine water, gingerroot, garlic and peppercorns.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low and boil gently for 5 minutes.  Transfer mixture to a sieve placed over a bowl and press with the back of a spoon to extract the liquid.  Discard residue and return liquid to saucepan.  Add yellow and brown mustard seeds.  Cover and let stand at room temperature until seeds have absorbed most of the water, about 2 hours.  In a blender or food processor, combine marinated mustard seeds with dry mustard.  Process until coarsely chopped. (Mine never chopped and just whirled happily around the food processor as though the mustard seeds were enjoying the Tilt-a-Whirl at the county fair.  I finally used a mortar and pestle to grind up a few of the seeds and then just dumped the rest back in the pan.)  Return to a sauce pan and add vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly.  Reduce to low heat and boil gently, stirring frequently until volume is reduced by a third, about 15 minutes (mine took 25 vinegar and mustard fume choking minutes, whew!)  You can process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Leave 1/4 inch headspace.  I chose not to preserve this batch and just keep it in the refrigerator for consumption in the near future.

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Making mustard is quite the aromatic process.  Olivia called it pungent and Davis called it sickening. In fact, we had to make late night brownies just to replace the smell with something better. I can imagine what my mom endured as my grandma made a mustard plaster for her when she was sick.  Glad we had moved on to more modern medicine my youth of the 70’s.

Speaking of my youth…when did I make the transition from Ellie Mae to Granny? One minute I’m with my critters and have long flowy hair like Ellie Mae…

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and then, POOF!….The next minute I’ve become Granny Clampett with my hair pulled back making mustard poultices and canning in my big vat on the stove.

Someone please stop me before I start making lye soap out by the cement pond!

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Talented

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I went last night with my friend Terri to see a performance at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur.

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As enjoyable as it was to watch Terri and her Rockettes imitation at the Decatur gazebo, the real show was singer Hunter Callahan.

He actually went to Olivia’s high school but is now playing in venues in Atlanta and elsewhere.  We met his parents last night and they are delightful, too.

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Do not sign me up to be a rock star photographer.  I’m not the most aggressive when it comes to jumping in there to get the best lighting or poses.

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Hunter is EXTREMELY talented and he put on a wonderful concert.  Remember the name because you’ll be hearing it again.

Tonight we went to Mellow Mushroom for dinner.

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As it happened Mellow Mushroom was a Pokemon stop and we got to eat delicious pizza and grab a few Pokemon.  To answer your question, yes I am playing Pokemon GO.  It’s a fun App.  Has it taken over my life? No, but it is cute.

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Also tonight I finished up more of my canning and I will show you the results tomorrow. For now, I must clean the kitchen.  It’s a bit messy after my last few days of food preservation.  Wish there was an App for that!

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