February 28, 2013


The weather this week has been beautiful! Somewhat on the cool side staying in the 50's during the day and high 30's at night. We saw pictures of Maine and the snow is still falling. Bitterly cold and gray as you would imagine it would be in New England during February. I think I am just too southern to live anywhere that stays that cold for that long! Here are a few Spring and Easter collectibles that you may enjoy seeing. The brownies have been a favorite of Darling's for just about forty years. It's one of those easy delicious recipes you go back to over and over again. Enjoy!!


1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 cup flour
1.2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Combine sugar and butter and beat well. Add eggs and beat again. Stir in chocolate, flour and salt. Mix until smooth. Add vanilla and walnuts. Pour into a greased 8" x 8" x 2" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes. Do not over bake, as you want them moist and chewy! 

February 27, 2013

Peaceful Beauty

"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.
Do not lost your inner peace for anything whatsoever,
even if your whole world seems upset."
~Francis de Sales



February 26, 2013


What are your favorite things about the South?
Friendly folks in abundance
Well-mannered children
Front porch visits
Covered dish lunches after church
Sweet tea
Local farmers markets
Saturdays in Autumn
Ole Miss football Saturdays
Moss draped Mississippi Oak trees
The Square in Oxford
Ole Miss Tailgating in the Grove
Low country boils at the beach
Pretty tablescapes with family treasures
Storytelling amongst family and friends
This Plantation Pie recipe has always been one of my most requested recipes. It is from long ago when we were attending Ole Miss. I cannot count the number of times we all met for lunch and a day of shopping on the square in Oxford and finished off a southern luncheon with this fabulous and yes, fattening pie! What can I say....we were younger and did not have to really count our calories since we walked all over campus! It's a southern delight for sure!

Pastry for single-crust pie
3 eggs
1 cup light-colored corn syrup
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup pecan pieces
Unroll prepared pastry into a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate without stretching. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under extra pastry. Crimp edge. Set aside.In a medium bowl, combine eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt.In pastry shell, layer semisweet chocolate pieces, coconut and pecan pieces. Pour egg mixture over all, spreading evenly. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pastry shell with foil.
 Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or till set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and store in refrigerator within 2 hours. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream, chocolate syrup and sprinkle with toasted coconut.


Well, my darlings, here is the current situation in our little
 New England village!
Just outside the village, is a beautiful sprawling dairy farm. There is a large pond toward the front of the farm that is home to many Canadian Geese and Mallard ducks. Obviously it is now frozen over and covered in about three feet of snow. The early morning snowplow seems to have misjudged the location of the pond! Thus providing a little excitement for the area...beautiful yes, but cold, cold, cold!!
Don't you just love coming home to the aroma of a big pot of spaghetti sauce simmering away on the stove? I love this recipe and the secret is that slow simmer, so that the flavors can become combined into that spicy Italian taste! Serve this with a crisp Italian salad and hot crust garlic bread! You will fall in love all over again!
1 jar classical spaghetti sauce
1 small can tomato paste plus 3 cans of water
1 large can tomato sauce
1 large can tomato puree
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. sweet basil
1/2 tsp.minced onion
1 bouillon cube chicken or beef
1/2 tsp. black pepper
crushed red pepper
2 t. sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. ground round beef
1 tube of hot pork sausage
1 carton of fresh mushrooms
In large pot put olive oil, onion, garlic, bay leaf and cook for one minute until you smell the wonderful aroma.While the oil is hot, add the tomato paste. Let the tomato paste fry in the oil with the other ingredients for 30 seconds and add the three cans of water, and remaining sauces and puree. Add the seasonings, sugar  and bring to a slow boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Brown the sausage and beef until browned completely and add to the sauce.  Add mushrooms. Cook your sauce for around 5 to 6 hours on a slow simmer!

February 25, 2013


She usually loved the sun to reign,
but today she enjoyed the surprise of rain

With a rainy cold day, what better thing to do with your time, than to bake a cake! This orange cake is "the bomb", I guess you could say. Another one of those delightful, easy to mix together recipes using a boxed cake mix! If you love the fresh taste of orange, then you will really enjoy this recipe!

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small box of orange jello
3/4 cup oil
4 eggs
1 cup orange juice
3 T. orange zest

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat for 3 minutes until well combined. Bake at 350 degrees F. in a sprayed bundt pan for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before inverting onto a cake stand.

1 cup powdered sugar
3 T. orange juice
1 T. orange zest

Sift the powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. Add the orange juice and the orange zest and mix well. Spoon over the cooled cake and you are ready to serve!

February 24, 2013


These were our back woodlands at The Maine House!

Remember when I told you about our deer that would visit the Maine House during winter months? Well, here are two of them in all of their beauty! Isn't this an amazing picture? We had bought a game camera and strapped it to one of the trees back in the woods. There was an area where we left apples and crushed acorns and cornmeal feed blocks for them, which is the area where they would come visit from time to time, so we often would check the camera for any pictures it had been able to capture without disturbing them. They would also frequent our birdfeeders. Those Maine winters can be so harsh and I worried greatly about how they were able to find food or keep warm. We have some amazing photos of them and also short videos which feature them walking around, nuzzling the snow, eating an apple or such. We were amazed when we were watching one of the videos and a huge raccoon came wandering out of the woods and charged at one of the deer! The deer charged back and chased the raccoon back into the woods. It sure was a delightful way to watch this beautiful wildlife!

It's probably safe to say that the air is still cold where you are! Our little village in Maine has had record snowfall that does not seem to know when to stop! During those cold, wintery days, my thoughts drift to one place...the kitchen! You always need a big pot of stew bubbling on the store to warm your loved ones! I promise y'all, this one is going to knock your socks off!


1 5-6 lb. chicken
2 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
2-3 teaspoons salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
1 bay leaf
4 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
5 medium red potatoes, sliced
1 15-oz. can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
4 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise and sliced
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, simmer chicken, water, chicken broth, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and bay leaf, covered, over medium-low heat for one hour.  Remove chicken and set aside to cool.  Pour broth through strainer and add broth back to Dutch oven.

Bring broth to a boil and add celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, beans, thyme, garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, tomatoes and remaining 1-2 teaspoons salt (this depends on how salty your prepared chicken broth is – salt to taste) and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered for 45 minutes (cooking this uncovered will help reduce it and enhance the flavor).

Meanwhile, remove skin and bones from chicken; shred or chop chicken, cover and set aside.  Once vegetables and broth have cooked for 45 minutes, add chicken and stir to combine.  Cover pot, remove from heat and let stew rest for 30 minutes.  Stir and serve with cornbread or crusty bread.


February 23, 2013

Oscar Night..Remembering Old Hollywood Glamour

A night at the Oscars! If only things were as they used to be!
Hollywood, old Hollywood, seemed to have such glamour, such intrigue and excitement. The women of Hollywood had enormous style. Perhaps as we age, we identify more with the people we grew up with and marveled at when we were children. I like it that way. I pay tribute to the women of Hollywood who seemed to be larger than life on that big screen....what memories they gave us!

Katherine Hepburn
Olivia de Haviland
Joan Crawford
Elsa Lanchester
Elizabeth Taylor
Tallulah Bankhead
Lana Turner
Vivien Leigh
Gina Rowlands
Rita Hayworth
Joan Crawford, yes, again....a favorite
Norma Shearer

Anne Bancroft

Barbara Stanwyck
 Rosemary Clooney

Judy Garland

February 22, 2013


Ready for the weekend? What big plans do you have? Darling and I are going to see Silver Linings Playbook, which we have tried to see for the past month. We wanted to cast our vote for Oscar night. The local garden centers are beginning to display all of the gorgeous spring flower and vegetable bulbs, which I find terribly hard to resist. I have already picked up some day lilies and some additional canna bulbs...who can be without a lovely grouping of cannas? Not I....Mother always had cannas in our yards, both in Vicksburg and in Jackson! I have planted them everywhere we have lived. Yes, this will all be us, in the garden with our sun hats on very soon!

"And so ye faithful, there is no shadow to see, an early Spring for you and me," said Punxsutawney know that ground hog that lives up in Gobblers Knob,  Pennsylvania. Seriously.....who talks like this?
2 cups biscuit/baking mix
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup white baking chips
1/2 cup strawberry preserves

1/3 cup biscuit/baking mix
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter
In a large bowl, combine the biscuit mix and sugar. Whisk the egg, milk and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in chips. Pour into a greased 9-in. round baking pan. Drop preserves by teaspoonfuls over batter. Cut through batter with a knife to swirl the preserves. For topping, combine biscuit mix and sugar in small bowl; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. 

You can change up the flavor of jam in this sweet little cake. I have used peach jam and eliminated the white chocolate chips. You could also add a few chopped pecans if you wish!


February 21, 2013


Have you thought about how you would like to welcome family and guests into your home when the spring season begins? It's so enjoyable to put your imagination to good use and see what arrangement you can come up with to spruce up your front door and entryway! I think we need a trip to the local hobby store, such as Michael's or Hobby Lobby!

Don't forget to always have fresh flowers in your kitchen! The aroma of roses, lilacs , lavender and lemons just make the heart of your home a lovely place to enjoy your morning coffee or afternoon cup of tea! Make your life beautiful.......

1 (16-oz.) package romaine lettuce, thoroughly washed
1 (6-oz.) block Swiss cheese, shaved
1 cup roasted, salted cashews
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 large gala apple, thinly sliced
1 large Bartlett pear, thinly sliced

Toss together first 6 ingredients in a large bowl;
serve with Lemon-Poppy Seed Dressing

Lemon-Poppy Seed Dressing
2/3 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt 
Process 2/3 cup light olive oil and remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 week; serve at room temperature.


February 20, 2013


"You seem to sigh a lot," I said. "Do you realize this? "I should have counted the number of times I heard you sigh during this conversation. Are you depressed?" She replied, with yet another deep sigh, "Yes, I suppose I am! I couldn't say what I am depressed about, but, (another sigh), it should be ok..."
Someone close to me once said, you have a choice. You can choose to be happy and grateful for everyday, or you can go through life with eyes wide shut and make your choice to focus on the things that aren't going right for you! I most always choose to be happy. There are two things that make me really, really happy....Kitties and beautiful gardens.....I think this is one place where they can choose to be happy....their place in the sun!

"The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses."
  ~Hanna Rion

"In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there. 
 To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe. 
 I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels." 

"I sit in my garden, gazing upon a beauty that cannot gaze upon itself. 
And I find sufficient purpose for my day."
~Robert Brault
"Coffee.  Garden.  Coffee.  Does a good morning need anything else?" 
~Betsy Cañas Garmon

"Fingers now scented with sage and rosemary,
 a kneeling gardener is lost in savory memories." 
 ~Dr. SunWolf

"Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and
she laughs with a harvest."
  ~Douglas William Jerrold,

"In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy." 
 ~Robert Brault

February 19, 2013


How could we do without those easy pasta dishes that are a go-to meal when it comes to weeknight dinners? This recipe starts with browned Italian turkey sausage and mixes it with tender broccoli florets and fusilli pasta. Then that’s all mixed with a simple creamy Parmesan sauce made by simmering cream with sautéed onions, grated Parmesan cheese, and a little bit of the pasta cooking water. Serve with a salad dressed with an easy Dijon vinaigrette and you’ve got a flavorful meal that doesn’t take much longer to make than heating up some store-bought sauce.

Creamy Pasta with Broccoli and
Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage
1 T. olive oil
1 lb.uncooked sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. broccoli, stemmed and cut into 1-inch florets
1 lb. fusilli pasta
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese, plus more for serving
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until it’s no longer pink and is starting to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl and set aside.Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and are just starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Turn off the heat.

When the water is boiling, add the broccoli and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to the bowl with the sausage.

Return the water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook according to the package directions or until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain, and return the pasta to the pot; set aside.

Return the pan of onions to medium heat, add the cream, and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sausage and broccoli and stir until combined.
Pour the broccoli-sausage mixture over the pasta, add the measured Parmesan and reserved pasta water, and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately, passing more Parmesan on the side.
3 T. finely chopped shallots
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. plus 2 t. Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk to combine. While whisking continuously, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until it’s fully incorporated. Refrigerate in a closed container with a tight fitting lid for up to 4 days.