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Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Cookin'

I usually end up making some cream pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so here's my stuff all ready to go. It's really easy.

In the oven you go!
About 30 minutes later out you come.

I learned the cream pie technique from Eurena Koonce, my little neighbor across the street in Jayton, Texas. She cooked for cowboys, probably on some of the big ranches in Kent and maybe Garza County, where her husband worked during her early marriage, and at the same time she took care of babies, washed diapers, and hung the laundry on the line to dry, and maintained the home. She was a wonderful, Christian lady, and one of the best cooks I have ever known. She taught me things that Texas Tech didn’t. One summer I made pies for the Jayton Cafe, and used her recipes for the coconut and chocolate versions--they were a big hit. Men love the coconut pie for some reason, and the ladies went for the chocolate.
Coconut Pie
3 T flour
1/2 C (rounded) sugar
1 C milk
1 C evaporated milk
3 egg yolks (I use jumbos)
1/4 C butter
1 tsp. vanilla (I'm using Mexican vanilla)
3/4 C coconut

Method of Preparation
1. Mix the flour and sugar in a heavy sauce pan. The heavier the better.
2. Separate the eggs, being very careful not to break a yolk in the white.
3. Whisk the egg yolks with the milk, and add to the flour and sugar.
4. Cook over medium heat until the mixture gets hot, and reduce the heat to avoid scorching. After this mixture gets hot, whisk constantly and don't ever let it boil.
5. Cook until thickened, but not too thick (nothing worse than a stiff filling--my opinion only).
6. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla and the butter.
7. Stir until the butter is melted; stir in the coconut, and quickly pour into a baked 9" crust.
8. Put the already prepared meringue on as quickly as possible. Sprinkle with coconut.
9. Bake in a 300 to 325 degree oven for about 25 or 30 minutes.

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 C coconut for the top
Method of Preparation
1. Make the meringue while the filling is heating up. This is easy if you have a Kitchen Aide mixer. If you have a hand held mixer, which I did when I cooked for the cafe, start the filling at a lower temperature so you have time to get the meringue done first.
2. Beat the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar until stiff.
3. Gradually add the sugar 1 T at a time and beat the devil out of the meringue.
Mrs. Koonce said it is important to get that meringue on while the filling is hot so it will start cooking from the underside. That is why I make the meringue first, and then bake the meringue in a slow oven so it will heat through and through and get cooked. This keeps the meringue from weeping or shrinking after it cools. Just forget the 400 degree oven advice! I make over 300 pies for the cafe and people that summer, and this worked for me every time. I have mixed feeling about Mexican vanilla--love the flavor, but am a little scared of it. Someone said they heard the scientist guy on Good Eats say that some of these vanillas are made from tonka beans, which are a carcinogen. I guess after I use this quart I'll figure out how to make my own--darn, I sure do like the taste of Mexican vanilla. Well, the pie turned out good; I am still miserable from dinner, and I can hear the din of the Aggie/UT game, so I guess I will waddle into the living room and see how they are doing. Hope you had a great Turkey Day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Christmas Shopping

Guess what? I went shopping down town Rankin, a small West Texas town in Upton County, and found these darling Frankoma boot bookends. Are they so cute, or what? I know you have seen this pottery back in the day. It was usually green, and had this frosty look. You may have had a baking dish or a flower vase shaped like wagon wheels. The business was founded in 1933 (at the beginning of the depression) near Norman, Oklahoma by a man named John Frank. He designed functional pieces of Western art from the red clay found in Oklahoma. The business is still alive, and is one of the oldest U.S. potteries in operation today. I hope the new owner can make Frankoma thrive. After all, the U.S. needs to produce something, and this is really old West Americana, a real treasure . Back to businesses--I hope that cute little shop, called Teddy J's Emporium, in down town Rankin will get a website, and open her doors to the world, because it is a shopping oasis in the desert with antiques, and unusual finds!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November 17, 2009...

will always be a special day for us--our first grandbaby arrived that morning in Odessa. He is just amazing, and even though he was big (8' 2"), he is so small! We finally had to tear ourselves away and go eat. China-Mex is good! Odessa has some really good places to eat, and if you are hungry for Mexican food, go to Odessa. It was a beautiful fall day. I took this from the 7th floor of the hospital as we were leaving.
Here I am with the baby when he got to his home. Isn't he little?
This is me and our Baby Robert when he was about two weeks old. Mom took this picture the first part of July in 1980 in Jayton when she and my dad were down to see their new grandson. We have come a full circle--our son is now a dad!
Friends will have to go to my Face Book page to see the rest of the pictures. We are very blessed to have a healthy grandchild with healthy, loving parents, and that is what I am most thankful for this year (along with about a million other things). I am off the entire week, and loving every second of it. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Summer is Over...

but wasn't it good while it lasted? Today, I pulled up all the grass burrs I could find, mowed the last of the green grass, and ran the weed eater. It's time to put away the garden tools for this year, and make plans for another spring. I painted these handles this summer, just for fun, and to keep them from weathering. My two favorites aren't shown--Roundup and two-four-d! What would we do without them--organic is not all it's cracked up to be. I am just about done with a book called The Help, and it is so funny. I hope you can read it. Gotta get back to the game.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pink Giraffe, Purple Leopard, and Zebra Stripes.....

Here is the quilt that Cowboy's Sweetheart gave me several years ago, perfectly stitched, corners that match, and beautiful colors of violet, red-violets, greens, blue-greens, and different whites. I will treasure it always, and it's on the bed winter and summer. I don't have any other color in the room, other than brown, so I decided to add some color, and here it is all complete--inside and out.

There are a few other colors besides what is in the quilt, but I think the violets, pinks and greens stand out, so it should fit right in with the quilt. I put the final coat of clear acrylic on it this morning, and was nearly late to Sunday School because of putting the old, original 1950s hardware on the drawers. I can't believe I am really finished with it--not that I have been toiling over it every day (there were many days I was uninspired, and didn't dare work on it). Then, when I decided to finish it there was always something else that needed to be added, fixed, or done to it, and it seemed that I would never get done. I got pretty detailed in places, which takes a lot more time, but details are fun, and I am happy with the way it turned out. I wanted you to see it before I move it to the bedroom where I will fill each drawer with "stuff." Sewing is the next thing on my list, and it needs to be--the machine has a stack sitting there waiting for me. When I was in the extension service, one of the agents told me that a person can sew for themselves if they average 15 minutes a day. Sounds easy doesn't it? That's what I thought, and vowed, that come rain or shine, I would do just that. So far this fall, I haven't averaged 15 minutes a week. My excuse? I didn't want to start anything until the dresser was done. No more excuses. Maybe I can show you some sewing in the next blog. Thanks for the inspiration Sweetheart!
P.S. I kind of regret not tying in some blue-green, but I am already thinking about the pine bench in the bedroom that my friend Jackie rescued from the Big Lake Elementary. Maybe it ought to be blue-green! I have to think about it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

This and That....

I just love fall! The cotton is ready and the gins are running. Most of the cotton I see is loaded from top to bottom. It takes a long time to get a killing frost around here, so just about everyone defoliates to kill the leaves, then they can strip, and get it to the gin as early as possible. This is just one of the pretty fields south of Midland.
Last night was the last football game for us. We played our rival, Garden City (Glasscock County), and they beat us pretty badly. I left at the half because I couldn't stand it any more.

I had some tomatillas in the refrigerator, and a couple of long chilis that needed to be used, so I decided to make some "experimental" hotsauce. I cut the tomatillas in half, placed cut side down on a broiler pan, and roasted them. You can see they squished when I started to peel them, but I think it was necessary to take that peeling off. Their little peelings are tougher than tomato peelings.
I learned from the carne guisada experiment that chilis need to be peeled, because their skin is tough. This is a roasted and a peeled chili. Peel from the bottom up--it's a lot easier. I blended the chilis, tomatillos, about 5 cloves of garlic, onion, 3 jalapenos, and tomatoes, a tsp. of salt and cooked it just a little. Nice, but not hot enough for that kid of mine. If you want it hotter, add more jalapenos (or habaneros).