Friday, August 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Krispie Candy

I was reminded today of another candy that I always make around the Holidays that also has Peanut Butter and Rice Krispies in it. I got this recipe from my daughter Elizabeth's mother-in-law Carol Massey. It is different and delicious.

Peanut Butter Krispie Candy

4 C. Rice Krispie Cereal
1 C. Crunchy Peanut Butter
1 C. Dry Roasted Salted Peanuts
1 C. Mini-Marshmallows (Packed)
9 Blocks of Almond Bark

Melt Almond Bark in Microwave for about 1 to 2 minutes or until melted. Stir. Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Mix in remaining ingredients and place by spoonfuls onto wax paper that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Let harden about 10 minutes.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Yesterday when I was thinking of my mom's chicken and dumpling recipe and musing on her lack of interest in cooking (that is so foreign to me, I LOVE to cook), I realized that one of the things I made earlier this week was also a recipe I got from her. I don't know where she got it, but it is a tasty variation of the old stand-by recipe for Rice Krispie Treats. I have updated it to be able to do it in the microwave.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

4 Tbs. Butter
60 Large Marshmallows (16 oz. Bag)
1/2 Cup Crunchy Peanut Butter
6-1/2 Cups Rice Krispie Cereal

Spray with non-stick spray, or coat with butter, a 9" by 13" baking dish. Place the 4 Tbs. butter in a very large microwave safe bowl and melt completely, about 1 minute. Swirl butter to coat all sides of the bowl. Place the marshmallows in the bowl with the butter and stir to coat all the marshmallows well with the melted butter. Return to microwave and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring down about every 30 seconds. When the marshmallows are creamy and melted down (but don't cook until they look like syrup, that is too long) stir in the peanut butter. Stir until peanut butter is completely mixed in. Pour in the rice krispies and stir until completely coated with the marshmallow mixture. Turn out into the buttered pan and press down to smooth out the top. (I butter my hands before doing this so the mixture doesn't stick to me.) Let cool then cut into squares. Yum!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mama's Chicken and Dumplings

As I have said in the past, my mother did not like to cook. For most of my growing up years, my grandmother lived with us and did the cooking. My mom was very 'right-brained' and did not like the mundane. If she cooked, it was going to be something special, not the day to day ordinary things (my daughter Sara is exactly like her.) Mama did have several dishes that were outstanding and this is one of them.

Mama's Chicken and Dumplings

1 Large Hen (at least 5 lbs.)
3 Ribs of Celery
3 Large Carrots
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tsp. Whole Black Peppercorns
1 Tbs. Salt
2 Bay Leaves
1 12 oz. Can Evaporated Milk
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour

Wash chicken well and remove the Parson's Nose (tail). Place in a large (at least 12 qt.) stockpot and sprinkle with the salt. Cut the celery and carrots into about 3 inch lengths and place in pot with chicken along with bay leaves. Peel and cut each clove of garlic in half and place in pot. Sprinkle in black peppercorns. Cover the chicken with cool water and place on heat. Simmer gently for several hours or until chicken is completely tender and falling from bone. Remove chicken carefully from stock and let cool. Strain stock, discarding vegetables, bay leaves and peppercorns. Chill stock thoroughly until fat has hardened at the top. Remove fat from stock (do not discard fat) and return stock to a low simmer on heat. If there is less than 3 quarts of stock left due to evaporation, add water to bring stock level up to about 3 quarts. If more than 3 quarts, boil quickly to reduce volume. Make dumplings.


1-1/2 C. All Purpose Flour (Do Not Use Self-Rising Flour)
1/3 C. Reserved Cold Chicken Fat (see note below)
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Cup Cold Milk
1 Egg, Thoroughly Beaten

Mix flour, fat and salt well. Add milk and egg. Mix well. Add additional flour if needed to keep dough from being too sticky. Roll on heavily floured cutting board. Cut into squares. Drop dumplings into reserved chicken broth which is simmering. Simmer about 15 minutes, stirring gently once or twice. Dumplings will rise to the top of the broth when done.

Meanwhile, remove chicken from bone and cut or tear into bite size pieces. After dumplings are done, stir in chicken meat. Whisk together the evaporated milk and the 1/2 cup flour until smooth. Pour into chicken and dumplings. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. If too thick, add additional milk. If too thin, stir in additional flour mixed with water or milk.

Note: If you don't want to go to the trouble of chilling and using the chicken fat, shortening may be substituted, but this will not be the 'real deal'. Shortening wasn't invented until about mid-century (give or take a decade) 1900's. Before that, it was chicken fat, lard or butter. So, use hydrogenated fat (shortening) if you must, but the taste won't be the same.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thoughts about Daddy

I have been thinking about my father all week. He would have turned eighty-seven this week had he still been living. A good friend lost her father this week and all those old feelings of loss resurfaced even though it has been sixteen years since I lost him. I loved my mother, but I never connected with her like I did my dad. He instilled in me from an early age a powerful sense of right and wrong. He taught me to believe in myself. He told me I could do anything I set my mind to do (and for a long time I really believed that.) I inherited his love of books and acquistion of knowledge, just for the sake of learning. He never sat down without picking up something to read. I was lucky to grow up in a house filled with good books and an example of someone who loved to read them. He was hard-headed (stubborn) and always right (unfortunately I acquired those traits also - just ask my family), but honest and trustworthy to a fault. I remember running into a fellow several years ago that had worked with Daddy and he told me that he was also in some sort of organization with him and every year Daddy was always elected treasurer, always. He said "Your dad had more integrity than any man I have ever met." Wow, will someone ever say anything like that about me? Probably not. I can still remember Daddy telling me: "Billie Jean, don't ever tell someone you will do something if you don't fully intend on doing it. Your word is the most important thing you have." He lived by those words. Happy Birthday Daddy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Homemade Ginger Ale

I really don't know why, at this time of the summer gardening season when everything has really started coming in, I decided to try to make homemade ginger ale. Maybe it is because I love ginger ale. Maybe it is because I like to try new things. Maybe I just like a challenge. I think it must be a combination of these three things. Anyway, I tried it and I like it. It is not nearly as easy as running down to Wal-mart and buying a 2 liter bottle, but it is a lot more fun.

Homemade Ginger Ale

1 Clean 2 Liter Soda Bottle
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Very Finely Grated, Peeled Ginger Root
Freshly Squeezed Juice of 1 Lemon
1/4 Teaspoon Baker's Yeast (Not Rapid-Rise)

Put sugar, ginger root and lemon juice in a small pitcher with a pouring spout. Add about 2 cups of warm (not hot) water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour into the 2 liter bottle. Without rinsing pitcher, put about 2 more cups of cool water into the pitcher and stir to make sure all sugar and ginger is loosened. Pour this cool water into the 2 liter bottle. Very carefully, add yeast to the 2 liter bottle. Cap and shake to disperse yeast. Remove cap and fill bottle to within 2 inches of top of bottle with cool water. Recap and set at room temperature (75 to 85 degrees) for 48 hours. The yeast will cause the drink to carbonate. The bottle will feel very hard to the touch. Do not let the bottle sit longer than 48 hours at room temperature or the yeast will start producing alcohol and the drink will become ginger beer. Refrigerate the ginger ale and let set for 24 hours in refrigerator before drinking. I strained mine before drinking, but this is optional. This is very refreshing and delicious, much better than what can be bought at the supermarket.