Friday, August 31, 2018

Green Beans Southern Style (Then and Now)

Missy Tippens

I discovered an item at the grocery store last week that I'll be buying again often. Pre-cleaned and ready to eat fresh green beans. Easy-peasy!

Here's the empty bag (forgot to take photo and had to fish it out of the trash. You're welcome!) :)

These were ready to just dump in the pot, however if you like your beans cut, you could break them or cut them to the size you like. I do prefer cut green beans but was hungry and just dumped them in whole.


When I was growing up in Kentucky, we grew green beans in our garden. I hated picking, stringing and breaking those things!! But I sure did love eating them. Here's the way we would have made them when I was a kid...

Fry a couple of slices of bacon, leaving the grease and bacon in the pot. Or, sometimes, rather than frying fresh bacon, we would just put a tablespoon or so of bacon grease in the pot (we kept a coffee cup of the grease just for cooking!).

Add some salt. And my mom always added a bit (maybe a teaspoonful) of sugar to every vegetable we cooked.

Add fresh beans and some water, cover and cook until they're very soft. We'd sometimes simmer them for hours. Just be sure the water doesn't cook off! I once scorched them so badly I had to throw the pot out. Not good!


Once I was an adult, I switched over to canned green beans (which were quicker when I had young kids and needed to make dinner). Which also meant I didn't take the time to fry bacon. That meant draining the can, putting the beans in a pan and adding a little canola oil to help flavor them. However, on occasion, I would make fresh beans--like yesterday.

So I tossed those fresh beans in the pot, added some canola oil (about 1-2 TBS because it was a large bag), and then some seasoning salt. When I tasted them later, they needed a little more salt, so I added kosher salt flakes. (If you make canned beans, do NOT add salt.)

I let them cook for about an hour. They needed a little longer to be the southern beans I'm used to (no crunchy beans for us!), but it was past lunchtime already.

They turned out yummy! The Belle had a nice lunch remembering the days of growing up (minus the bacon grease). :)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

In New York City!

But before we came here to see our youngest son one last time ... in New York, that is!... before he moves to Dallas, I made a favorite of ours.



Reasonably healthy!


Asian Veggie mix ( I get the big frozen bags with two bags inside... but two of the small bags works, too) OR... Normandy/California mix works fine if Asian mix isn't available
2 cans sliced water chestnuts
Sesame Oil
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1/4 cup Oyster sauce (this is the secret ingredient!!!) 
1/4 cup Water
1 1/2 lb. or so cut up chicken, steak, pork or shrimp or go meatless KAV!!!!! :)

Heat up large frying pan, like really large.  Drizzle with olive oil.... add meat. Liberally sprinkle meat with granulated garlic.... and about half as much ginger.  Cook over quick, hot heat until done.

Add water chestnuts.  Drizzle with sesame oil and about 1/4 cup oyster sauce, 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1/4 cup water..... Heat quickly, then put veggies on top, stir, heat until veggies are cooked but not soggy...


6 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil
3 cups Basmati (or another good variety) rice  (If you use Uncle Ben's, I won't tell! But I love Basmati rice)

Bring water to a boil. Add salt, drizzle in some olive oil, add rice. Stir once. Let return to a boil, cover and simmer on L-O-W for about twenty minutes.... Like really low!

Perfect rice, every time! (almost)  ;)

Serve stir fry over rice and enjoy!

And this is what's happening on the farm this week:

Jon and The Mighty Finn cleaning donkey manure....

We're getting ready for the season!!!!!

And then there's this:

My third Guideposts mystery!!!!!! Love this so much, and it's releasing in September!

What a fun series this was to work on.... and I'll be writing the final book of the series in September....

And can't wait to see what Priscilla and the gang are up to!

So that's how it's going, crazy busy, a goodbye to New York, a great Yankees game with a walk-off homer to win the game Tuesday night...

And a busy time on the farm.

So is your summer winding down?

Or are you still "full steam ahead!"????

Multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne is living her dream of writing sweet books that make folks laugh... and cry... and then laugh again. She lives on a pumpkin farm in Western New York and she loves the colors of fall... because they brighten the duller days of winter that follow! Visit her website or friend her on facebook where she loves to talk with folks... or follow her on Twitter!


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Magic of Leftovers

Have you ever discovered that sometimes the best meals come by accident?

I had one such delicious meal last week.

It was hot. I didn't really feel like cooking - so I decided to combine some leftovers.

I'll grant you that when the leftovers you're starting with are shrimp scampi and honey mustard salmon, the chances of success are good. But I wasn't sure of some of the flavor combinations.

My daughter had been over earlier in the week and I'd made scampi. I had a bottle of white wine that really didn't taste very good, so I added that to the scampi and it was delicious. Now I wasn't so sure how the wine tang in the scampi would work with the honey mustard. But, since I still had more of the wine, I added it in to the leftover scampi and then stuck the frozen leftover salmon in.

I let it simmer for the few minutes it took to cook angel hair pasta.

Once the pasta was done, I scooped it into a bowl and poured the seafood mixture on top.

WOW! It was so good. I literally devoured it.

But now the sad news. Because I enjoyed it so much, I tried to replicate it a few days later - only this time I had no leftover shrimp so I had to cook more. Apparently part of what made it so tasty was the leftovers sitting and marinating in the sauce in the fridge for a few days. It was still good, but not the knock-your-socks-off good from the first time.

In case anyone is interested in trying to replicate -

For the scampi - I just melt butter in olive oil with lots of garlic, some parsley, and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Sometimes (this time) I also include oregano and basil to taste. I simmered the shrimp for a few minutes in the lemon butter before adding the wine. Simmered briefly a few more minutes and it was done.

The salmon is simple - I coat frozen salmon fillets liberally with honey mustard. I only ever use this honey mustard. It is the one I discovered 30 years ago and still the only one I like. It's thick and goopy - much more like a honey texture than mustard.

As you read this, I'll be in my classroom setting up for yet another year. It's always hard to go back after the freedom of summer, but within minutes of being there, I know I'm in my element and looking forward to the year beginning.
Unfortunately, we're in the middle of a sudden heat wave, so I'll be cleaning and setting up in mid 90s temps with no AC. Hopefully it cools off before the students arrive!

And since summer is waning, I thought I'd share some pictures of all the gorgeous flowers growing around my city. We have had so much rain this summer that everything is growing like crazy.

I'm also thrilled with the reader reactions to our collection. It's been gratifying to see this

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Remembering Hurriane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey. A name that has been uttered in every local newscast in southeast Texas for the past year. 

Hurricane Harvey impacted many people. And although our family emerged from Harvey’s wrath virtually unscathed, many in our small rural community are still suffering from the floods that showed no mercy. People are without homes or in the process of rebuilding.

Since Harvey has been in the forefront of many Texans' mind during this one-year anniversary, I thought I'd repost the images I shared with you all last year at this time. Images that will be forever seared into my memory. Because every time I cross the bridge into town, I can't help but think about those floodwaters.
At one point, our little town was cut off to the west, north and south, leaving only one way in and out.
Grocery stores and other businesses were forced to close because of the rapidly rising river and delivery trucks were unable to get in to restock the shelves. Mail delivery ceased for a few days because the post office was cut off by flood waters.
And, oh, how they rose, swallowing whatever lay in their path.
Wildlife found themselves trapped.
And people had to be rescued.
Quiet little hamlets that usually went unnoticed were completely under water.
Yet despite the devastation, it was Texas' shining hour. People came out in droves to help their neighbors. People with flat-bottom boats and airboats made their way to flooded areas to rescue those who were trapped. 

In the aftermath, residents donated food, water, clothing... And months later, prom dresses for those young girls whose families were still living through the nightmare created by Harvey.

People cared. They came together to help. No matter their race, religion or politics, we were united. And, Lord willing, it won't take another tragedy for that to happen again.

Three-time Carol Award finalist, Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children and two dogs. 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 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Avocado-Feta Salsa

by Jan Drexler

Yes, you read that right - Avocado and Feta together in a salsa.

It's fabulous!

I first shared this recipe five years ago, but was reminded of it last week when the ladies of our church had our quarterly fellowship meal. One of my friends - I never did find out who - made a salad with a black bean salsa, and it was delicious. That's when I thought I should find this recipe again....

Start here:

Avocado, tomato, red onion and cilantro. Chop it all up.

And then add a bit of this:

Throw in some garlic and a bit of oregano, and then mix it all together with a splash of olive oil and some apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar - whatever you have handy).

And here's the hard part.

Refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours.

*tap, tap, tap*

And then it's good to go! You can eat it with tortilla chips, pita chips, or.....

Twice-baked Zucchini Rounds! 

Take one of those big zucchinis - you know, the ones that were hiding in your garden until they're gargantuan size and you don't know what to do with them - and slice a few 1/4" thick rounds.

Cover both sides with olive oil, and bake on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes or so at 375°. Then take them out of the oven and top them with your favorite combo. I used the Avocado-Feta Salsa. Stick them back in the oven and broil them for a few minutes, or until the cheese starts melting.

(2018 update - You could do the same thing with eggplant rounds. Oh, my, I'm getting hungry!)


I had a few of these for lunch with my Salmon with Garlicky Spinach (recipe here). It was a low-carb extravaganza!

And last week I put the salsa on my hamburger - now that was delicious!

(2018 update - don't forget, you can also toss the salsa in with your favorite salad greens.)

Okay, I know I need to give you the official recipe:

Avocado-Feta Salsa
(originally from

1 plum tomato, chopped
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon vinegar (apple cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar)
2 Tablespoons crumble feta cheese

Mix together gently. Cover and chill for 2 to 6 hours.

Now, doesn't that sound easy? And so, so good. ;-)

What others ways can you think of to use this salsa - or any salsa?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan

Friday, August 24, 2018

Gargantuan Shrimp!

Missy Tippens

I was at Kroger the other day and saw these beautiful, huge shrimp. And they were on sale!

Look at these puppies (I can't remember the name of them, but they're wild caught)...

Almost as big as my hand! I wanted to make an amazing shrimp cocktail. But my daughter doesn't love that, and we forgot to buy cocktail sauce. So I decided to sauté them in some butter and maybe add some bread crumbs for a little texture.

Here they are all cleaned and ready to go...

In the meantime, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees to roast some vegetables. Asparagus, fingerling potatoes and portobello mushrooms.

This is such an easy side dish. Sprinkle with olive oil and seasoning salt. Roast (bake) at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. We do this all the time with many different vegetables (squash, carrots, cauliflower, etc.).

When they were almost done (and once hubby got home), I started the shrimp. I first sprinkled on a little seasoning salt and put them in a skillet with some olive oil and melted butter.

Side note: While getting the salt, I remembered mentioning Maldon sea salt in a blog post before (I sprinkled the flakes on the corn on the cobb). I thought I'd share the package this time in case I didn't before.

(I bought a dozen glass jars at Christmas time to give home-made seasoning salt to my kids. I used the additional jars for various salts. I love the Maldon flakes, as well as sea salt and kosher salt. I bought larger packages and store it in these cute jars.)

Now back to the shrimp!

Though massive, these only took a few minutes (maybe 2 minutes each side). Only cook them until they're opaque and pinkish.

I decided to put on a cover to help steam them.

Here they are all done! They were delicious.

Ta-da! A quick dinner.

Missy's most recent release:

Opposites attract in this novella-length inspirational romance (Christian romance) Book 1!

Willow Valentine is on a quest—granted, a crazy one. When her car breaks down in the middle of a 4th of July parade in the tiny town of Dahlia, Georgia, she can’t help but wonder if God was bringing her here all along. After the handsome Trent Meriwether comes to her aid, she’s tempted to believe God has. But she, like her dad, is the type to keep moving on. Can she truly avoid that Valentine itch and settle in this town, especially when she finds she’s quickly falling for Trent, a man with deep roots in Dahlia?

Trent has moved back to his hometown to make amends and support his family. Though his grandmother warns him the Valentines are drifters, he finds himself intrigued by Willow. She makes him laugh and feel hopeful for the first time in ages. But how can he look twice at someone so much younger, someone who could pick up and leave at any moment—even if she is like a ray of sunshine to his troubled soul?

Welcome to the small town of Dahlia, Georgia, where everyone feels at home!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Blackberry Crisp/Crumble

Well, my phone is not happy these days and my son borrowed my camera, so I'm not sure if you'll get pictures, but this was too marvelous not to share!

We have a wild blackberry patch on the rock pile.

The rock pile isn't a metaphor.

It is a rock pile.`

It seems that a gazillion and three years ago, the earth heaved up a glacier or two (Imagine that!! Melting glaciers!!!) and they kind of steamrolled their way across New York State leaving us amazingly delightful Finger Lakes and smaller lakes, and the detritus of their long journey in rocks... So while most of our farm is thick (like 10 to 12 inches of topsoil) sandy loam (and may have been the bed of Lake Ontario a long time ago but not quite as long as the dinosaurs and/or those glaciers) we have an upper patch that is rock-studded.... and the rocks find their way up to the surface and get put on the rock pile.

The good news is that the rock pile cannot be seen from space, so it's relatively small compared to Staten Island's garbage dump....

But it's rocky and it sits there, growing weeds... but now it's growing blackberries, so this year we've already canned five pints of Blackberry jam and made one amazingly delicious fruit crisp/crumble.

I picked the berries.


I took the truck out back, climbed out and waded into the brushes and briars and brambles and picked about six quarts of berries.

Okay, maybe five....

And by the time I picked through them (staining my hands purple!!!) three days later, it was more like four usable quarts, but then I took those delicious berries.... laid them out in a lightly greased 15" x 11" Pyrex pan....

Sprinkled them with sugar....

And then this topping based on my favorite apple crisp recipe from Betty Crocker.

2 cups oats (rolled or quick, either is fine)
2 cups flour
1 cup softened butter (2 sticks or 16 oz.)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in butter until mixture looks like meal... Spread crumbly mix over top of berries from side to side and sea to shining sea!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Berries should be bubbling, topping should be golden brown, light golden brown. Not dark golden brown.... Don't ruin this, darlings, check your oven...

Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream... or just eat it on its own, it's amazingly delicious!

And we celebrated Cousin Palooza not long ago.... A day to celebrate our grandchildren, (and a few others, too!) where we all gather, eat great food, let the kids play games, ride in Grandpa's truck and bounce in the bounce house we rent for the day... and we just have fun. But Grandpa decided that day would be a good day to take down three big branches from an old tree... Yes. On Cousinpalooza day. Do not ask. We have never been able to figure this out. It's not like the branches haven't been up there, needing trimming for A Very Long Time. You gals know what I mean! So this is Beth, clearing debris!

Fourteen grandkids... (we stole one and we are not ashamed to admit it!!!) and a passel full of parents and beloved people....

It all makes for a special, inexpensive, let's celebrate family kind of day!

And it helps to keep down the crazy throughout the school year, when fitting in individual parties for all the kids would be tough in already tight schedules... So we went with a Carnival theme this year and it was so much fun to have a whole day of kids!!!

We've found that changing schedules was clutch as our family grew. How did you have to readjust things as your family grew?

 Even the big kids took time to have some fun! Zach and Luke shootin' hoops.

 Anna filling in driveway holes with fresh stone... this was not exactly a planned activity!!! :) But she kept at it!

And Circus/Carnival themed cupcakes by Lacey! 

We're bringing pumpkins up so I'll post some of the pics next week... the hills are alive and so is the yard of Blodgett Family Farm!!!!

Until next week and more blackberries!!!!

Multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne loves baking, painting (not like art... like rooms... that kind of thing) and sharing sweet stories with all kinds of people. The author of nearly 50 novels and novellas, Ruthy lives a very busy rodent-filled life in the Eastern woodlands of Western New York ... Original rodent visitor a few weeks ago: Baby gray squirrel. In my cupboard. Must be put in a book, right?

Newest  rodent visitor:  Flying squirrel. Raise your hand if you didn't know that flying squirrels lived in Western New York!!!! Well, neither did Lacey and I until one scampered across the kitchen! OOPS! The video of us chasing along after this very active and agile rodent is hysterical and purely embarrassing!
Let's just say that we got him trapped with a bucket... and a couch cushion.


That's how we roll. :)

Do not ask how.

I'm not sure how he got in.

I do not even want to think that there's a hole that big.

So I'm opting that the cat brought him in.

We named him Harvey.

And we released him into the great unknown past the donkey shed.