"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

Hello Friends!

Friends, Romans, countrymen...y'all. Foodies, gardeners, artists and collectors - let's gather together to share and possibly learn a thing or two in the mix.

Donna Baker

Friday, November 28, 2008

Almond Toffee Grahams

Almond Toffee Grahams

This recipe is really better than toffee. I don't think you'll find an easier recipe. It is rich and buttery and if you like it even more decadent than it already is, you can sprinkle some milk chocolate chips atop the hot finished squares and swirl the melted morsels with a knife; gilding the lily is good right?

1 package graham crackers
1 package slivered almonds
2 sticks butter
1/2 c. sugar

Break graham crackers up into fourths. I saw mine with a serrated knife for perfect edges. Lay onto a cookie sheet with sides. In a saucepan, bring the sugar and butter to a boil over medium heat. Boil 3 minutes, stirring until thickened. Pour over graham crackers and sprinkle with almonds. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Let cool and break cookies apart.

This recipe is also known as poor man's toffee and I guarantee, rich or poor, you, your friends and family are gonna love these.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Peanut Butter Truffles

I thought I would do some recipes for the holidays. If you like peanut butter cups, this recipe is for you. These are probably my most oft requested candy for Christmas.

Peanut Butter Truffles

1 box confectioners sugar

1 12oz. jar creamy peanut butter

2 sticks butter

1 pkg. milk chocolate chips

Combine sugar, butter and peanut butter with a mixer. Roll mixture into bite sized balls and place onto waxed paper. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler. Dip balls into chocolate and lift out with a fork or slotted spoon and let cool on waxed paper.

Now how easy is that?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blackberry Sauce in Framboise

In this part of the country, wild blackberries grow in abundance. The only drawback are billions of 1/4" thorns curved backward in an arc. Because of these killer arcing thorns, one can go in for the biggest and plumpest berries then not be able to pull your arm back out. It has happened to me too many times to count. When we first moved to the farm, I'd go berry picking in the summertime in my white cotton dresses that billowed out in the wind and immediately become impaled. I never learned - just kept sticking my arm in with my summer dresses plastered to the bushes wondering how long it would take for someone to find me.
A few years ago, we fenced in an acre or two and planted thornless blackberries and grapes. Why hadn't we done this long ago? I wouldn't have permanently embedded thorns and scars aplenty. Nevertheless, we now get gallons of big, juicy berries. What to do with so many said berries? We eat lots of them fresh. The rest we freeze for cobblers. We also eat them in a bowl with sugar and cream; when you pour the cream on the frozen berries they look like little snowballs. I also juice them and store the nectar in the freezer and sometimes make jam though we don't often eat toast etc. I also make a blackberry liqueur which is very good and potent. This year I tried something new. I canned a blackberry sauce(syrup really) with Framboise in it. The sauce is a sweet/tart topping for ice cream and is very good. It is a delicious way to remember the abundance of summer on those long winter nights.

Blackberry Sauce in Framboise

4 c. blackberries
1/2 c. Framboise
3/4 c. sugar
1 TBS. very fine lemon zest
1 TBS. lemon juice
1 pouch liquid pectin

Wash blackberries; drain. Combine berries, Framboise and sugar in a saucepan; let stand 2 hours; stirring occasionally. Add zest and juice and bring to a boil. Stir in liquid pectin then return mixture to a rolling boil (this is a boil that cannot be stirred down). Boil hard one minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Remove from heat. Ladle hot sauce into jars leaving 1/4" headspace. Adjust 2 piece caps. Process ten minutes in a boiling water bath.

This recipe is easy to make and even better to eat. If you want to skip the canning, just invite friends over and there won't be any left. Or, hide it in the frig and have it all to yourself. Serve it puddled under a scoop of vanilla ice cream or drizzled atop puddings, pies, cheesecakes...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

chicken and dumplings

Grandma Merriott's Chicken and Dumplings

Grandma Merriott lived a long life. She reared four kids by herself. They were very poor. At one time, they lived in a chicken house (those of us who have raised chickens can only shudder). Some summers she had to go west to California and pick produce as a migrant worker. Supposedly the soil in Arkansas where she lived was so poor and full of rocks, it was a miracle she could even feed her family. When her garden had produced enough, she would take her baskets full of produce and along with her children , walk miles to a cannery where her vegetables would be canned for her. Her family would wait outside in the hot summer heat all day under a shade tree then carry their jars back home. I once asked her why she didn't just can her own produce and she said she couldn't afford the jars.

Because of her lean times, she became very thrifty. She saved tin foil, pieces of thread, bread bags, made rubber band balls, etc. She drank powdered milk and had a cup of hot water in the morning instead of coffee. Up until the age of 89, she still tended a huge garden until she was finally too bent to stand. Did I tell you Grandma Merriott was a good cook? She cooked most of her life on a wood cookstove. I've heard she could make sausage that didn't have a scrap of meat in it and yet it tasted like the real thing. I'm putting Grandma Merriott's recipe for chicken and dumplings out there - I've never had any better. Of course our eyes would pop when we saw the backs and necks floating in it, but her broth was rich and sumptuous. Add the stewed chicken and dumplings, and it is to die for.

She's gone now but her recipes live on. Bless Grandma Merriott wherever she is.

Chicken and Dumplings

Cook chicken pieces in 2 quarts water. Add 1/2 stick (she called it a knob) of butter and 1 small can evaporated milk. Salt and pepper to taste. (I also add 1-2 tbs. of chicken bouillion, but be careful adding any more salt).


1/4 c. vegetable oil

1 slightly beaten egg

3/4 c. water

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

Add enough flour to make a stiff dough (start with 2 cups, then another...). Roll out dough on heavily floured board to about 1/16th in. thick (they need to be thin). Slice into strips about 1" x 3" and add to boiling mixture. The flour from the dumplings will thicken the broth but if you want it thicker add a tbs. or so of cornstarch to 1/4c. water to make a slurry and add to broth. It will only take a minute to thicken.

To get my kids to eat some vegetables, I always added carrot pennies, corn and peas, but Grandma Merriott's dumplings never had anything in it but chicken and dumplings. Also, you can use deboned chicken pieces, but the bones add flavor so cut your own up then pull it from the bones. Also, make sure and use evaporated milk instead of regular milk because it makes the broth so much richer.