Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Downhome with Collard Greens

Mindy here, and I can honestly say that I never had collard greens while growing up in Michigan. Matter of fact, the only thing we referred to as "greens" was salad. Then I moved to Texas.
Greens are a staple here and my husband loves them. And, believe it or not, I've grown to like them, too.

You can buy them in a bunch, but the bagged variety is much easier. BTW, just the fact that you can find these prewashed and precut in a bag says a lot about their popularity.

Okay, so let's get started by rendering the fat from a couple of cut-up bacon slices.
You know, just using the words "rendering the fat" tells you this recipe is downhome.
Cook the bacon until crisp, but not burned and remove from pan to drain on paper towels.

To the remaining fat (2-3 tablespoons),
add your greens, (since I was only making enough for two, I added about half a bag), some chopped onion and the bacon.
 Now add 1 to 1 1/2 cups water, stir everything together and bring to a boil.
 Cover and reduce heat to low.

Cook 30-45 minutes or until greens are tender.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.
 Hubby likes to sprinkle his with hot-pepper vinegar, but I prefer mine as is.
Between the bacon and the onion...delicious.

Last week was a rather slow one here at the ranch. Not much going on with the renovation since our contractor had to finish up a job elsewhere.
Instead, we were on tropical storm watch as Cindy approached the Texas coast. Fortunately, all we saw were some really cool-looking clouds.
 And I had to share this pic just because.
Near as we could tell, Dixie was staring up at a squirrel. But she laid there like this for the longest time.

Now it's your turn.
Have you ever had greens? If so, are you a fan? If not, would you consider trying them? Or do you cringe at the thought of cooking with bacon grease? 

Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband and the last of her five children. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Oatmeal for Summer Mornings

Last week, I shared one of my favorite breakfasts full of healthy fats. (If you missed that post, you can find it here.)

But a writer does not live on healthy fats, alone! There is a place for healthy carbs in our diets, too, and that's where this recipe comes in.

This one is also from the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook (and adjusted for my own preferences and pantry.)

It's called skillet granola in the THM book, but I call it oatmeal for summer mornings. It's a bit lighter and crunchier than traditional oatmeal, and a perfect way to start your morning or to have for a yummy snack.

Start with the same ingredients you love to have for your traditional breakfast oatmeal.

I used:

1/2 cup regular rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons stevia/erythritol blend (aka - 2 packets of Truvia)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons dried fruit - I use a berries and raisin blend
1 teaspoon oil (I used coconut oil)

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, mix the other ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.

Pour the cereal mixture in the pan and let it cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Don't you love the way the early morning sunshine
comes through my kitchen window?

What happens during this process is that the oats roast gently, combining the sweet flavors.

I usually eat mine with some yogurt for a quick, healthy breakfast or mid-afternoon snack. Delicious and crunchy!

In other news, over the weekend my husband and I went hunting for the elusive "Poets Table," a legendary spot in the middle of the Black Hills.

We heard about this spot from locals and on the internet, and we were determined to find it.

Also, it just so happened that our youngest son had been there on Friday - guided by a friend - and he offered to show us the way.

The directions run along the lines of "take the Little Devils Tower trail until you cross the stream twice, then turn left when you see the leaning aspen tree."

That's why it's smart to take a guide!

The trail was better traveled than I was expecting. In fact, we met several other parties heading for the same destination.

Instagram has made the Poet's Table public knowledge!

The trail got a bit steep in places. I put black arrows on the picture to point out the way...

But the views we encountered were worth the climb. :)

And suddenly - there it was!

It was fun to hunt down the legendary spot, and now we can say we've been there.

And the views were just as good on the way back down.

If you're wondering about the perspective, those green bushes at
the base of that rock wall are 50' Ponderosa Pines

So you can say that I'm enjoying summer in the Black Hills!

Have you ever gone searching for a legendary "secret" spot?

Saturday, June 24, 2017


Hello, everybody!! Mary Jane here. We've recovered somewhat from our bout with the stomach flu. Glad that's over! I hope I haven't spoken too soon because I'm pretty sure we got it twice in a row.
Anyway, it's that time of year again....
 No, not quite yet.
 Still nope.
Still months away...
YES. But that's not where I was headed. 
(We definitely have cherries here.  These bowls are from our trees, and it was only a tiny percentage of what was ready to pick. This is why our neighbors love us- we share!) 
 (I just have to gaze at that picture again. What a great memory! We were picnicking on the coast and we brought over blueberries, and my mother brought loganberries, boysenberries, and pink raspberries, and we made a delicious buckle in a cast iron pot over the fire.)
DEFINITELY NOT. But it sure looks good...
Ohhhh, yes!!

So, in honor of blueberry season, I'm posting a few of my favorite blueberry recipes!
            LEMON BLUEBERRY MUFFINS          
 Preheat oven to 425F
 4 TBS unsalted butter
2 cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
 grated lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
 2.5 cups blueberries
 Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, stir all sugar but 2 tbs into mix and make a well in the center. Then beat the egg, add the melted butter, lemon zest, vanilla and milk. Beat again until foamy. Pour into the well you just made in the dry mix.
 Stir the mix until smooth, then gently fold in all the blueberries.
 Pour into muffin papers until about 3/4 full, bake 12-15 minutes. Take the lemon juice and sugar and mix together, an then brush the tops of the muffins.

 I like my muffins with a little bit of cold butter, so it melts as they come right out of the oven.

I love this picture! They're all so little!! I can't believe that kiddo there in the blue shorts is 3 inches taller than I am now and wears a sz 13 shoe. Gracious!

  Usually I try to avoid the whole sugar/fruit/lard crust concotion because it's like cocaine. At least to me.  
How can we have our pie and not eat TOO MUCH OF IT, too??
That is the question.
And here is the answer. Ramekins.
In case any of you are applauding my cleverness, just remember that some people in my family won't eat their pie. That means I get leftovers.
Blueberries. Washed. Picked over. Lady bugs released outside.
Uh, oh. I spy a stem. This isn't the end of the world, but I try to get them out. If not, more fiber, right?
For 8 cups of berries, I used 1/4 cup of lime juice. I like lime better than lemon. And add the sugar. I will not say how much I put in. :) Maybe a cup. Or two.
Some people like blueberry-peach, blueberry-apricot, blueberry-raspberry. I like cinnamon in mine. I think it really brings out a deep flavor in the berries. So, for a 4 cup pie, I'd put in 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. For this batch of 8 cups I put in 1/2 tsp. Mmmmm....  Smelling delicious already.
Adding the thickener is up to you, since it will be confined to a ramekin. I added corn starch because I actually like the flavor.
Pie crust. From a box, or from the freezer section. Or using CRISCO SHORTENING in the old style recipe!! (I'm scared just reading that, but it will be worth it.) Cut into half inch strips.
Or an old-fashioned version if you don't have the time or coordination to make tiny lattice work pies the size of your palm.
Waitaminute. Don't I have six million kids (like Mary Curry so aptly put it)? Ah. Here's one of theirs.
I wasn't very sure how much time these would take so I set it for 15 minutes and checked them every so often. Oh, and put them on a cookie sheet. Your oven will thank you. 
You will regret it and your tastebuds will never forgive you. 
Oh, MERCY. Is it cool yet?????
This is my big hot mess of pie, with a few spoonfuls of homemade apricot ice cream on top.
 Yes, it was good.
No, there was none left.
Haha, this is a picture of a  'I got a really sour berry' moment.
The great thing about pie is that you can make it as fancy as you want, or as simple as you want. 

This dessert is about as simple as it gets!
The best blueberries for this are the sweet Toros. They don't freeze well. You pick them to enjoy, within hours.
Mix 1/4 cup honey into 1 pint of plain Greek yogurt. Some say it's fine without the honey, but as much as I love Greek yogurt, without a sweetener it tastes like sour cream to me. 
Place about 6 tbs in the bottom of the glass. Add blueberries, then raspberries, then the graham cracker crumbles. Repeat until filled. Add some mint if you like!

Home made blueberry syrup is sweet, potent, addicting.
Three cups of blueberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup water. 
Heat to a boil, stirring constantly. 
Add 1 tsp lemon juice and a pinch of salt. 
Let boil (stirring constantly, you do NOT want to burn a pan of blueberries) for ten minutes. 
Dissolve 2 TBS corn starch in 1 TBS hot water. Add to the blueberry mixture and boil for three minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool. 


I have to admit, I'd drink this all day instead of water if I didn't have to act like an adult and be sensible! 
Two cups blueberries
3/4 cup lemon juice
half gallon of water
1 cup sugar, or to taste. (Of course, it's always best to heat the sugar and some water on the stove to make a syrup, and then add it. Otherwise all the sugar is at the bottom...)

Mix up the lemonade. Shred three mint leaves and add to the lemonade. Crush the blueberries and add to the mix. Chill overnight or as long as you can wait. ENJOY!!

 Well, I'd better stop here, but can you tell I'm excited for blueberry season? I hope you get to try a few of these recipes. Let me know what you think!

Be sure to stop by my author page at Mary Jane Hathaway or Virginia Carmichael. And be sure to check out my next release "Autumn's Majesty" right here.