"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

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Isn't that the cutest kitchen towel? Here is a recipe for Hoppin' John that is a little different. If you remember, I had to fight the deer last summer for the few bags of blackeyed peas they left behind. I've saved them for just this moment. I did hear that you also had to have collard greens with them, so I had to run out and buy some. I'll just layer them in with the other ingredients. Type in Hoppin' John in upper left corner for the recipe. They are sure to bring good luck in the new year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I came home from a Christmas party the weekend before Christmas and found that Sister, the ornery half of Emmy and Sister, was paralyzed. I died. Freaked out of my head. I rushed her to an emergency animal hospital in Tulsa. Given meds for a ruptured disc and told surgery would probably be impending after the weekend, I took her home and watched for the signs of a worsening condition. The next afternoon, the signs were there and I took her back and was told to rush her to the Oklahoma Veterinary School for emergency surgery in Stillwater, OK. I have told you before I never cry, but I cried rivers over Sister. My dogs are like my kids; I feel the way about animals that normal people feel about other people. I don't know why. I'm just hardwired that way. When we arrived on a Saturday eve, they examined her, told us surgery had a 90% chance for recovery, and it would cost $3500. Can you imagine what other people do in that situation? Well, just go ahead and kill her then. Impossible. She was whisked into the CT scanner and surgery. After 5 days in ICU I got to take her home.
She is shuffling around now and I was told that for 3-4 weeks, I'd basically have to keep her on a leash (she's never had one on) even seated next to me on the couch, and/or crated. She also has never been crated and howls. No playing, running, jumping, etc. Nothing. I have to watch her every move. This has taken 10 years off my life, I'm sure of it.
Did I mention that I am babysitting my son's uber energetic Pokey, whom drives Sister nuts?
And, I'll never wish for a white Christmas again. Ever. We had a blizzard Christmas eve. I drove through it to Tulsa with a truckload of gifts, food, dogs and crates, {everything but the kitchen sink}. My little dogs wouldn't go out in the snow. It was nearly deeper than they were tall. Even after my husband shoveled a path, they held their duties, refusing to go.

Sister got her staples removed and has finally settled with the idea of being on a leash; isn't acting like a tiny bucking bronco and/or biting it. Mind you, all of this on top of putting on the annual Christmas show... I'll need at least a year to get over it all.
PS ~ The surgeon said Sister needs another surgery in the spring. An ablation of all the discs in her back with a laser to keep this from happening again. I'll do anything at this point to not go through the disc thing again. I love you Sister. And that is all from atop my soapbox at the piss and moan club.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Do confectionery decorations remind you of when you were young? They do me and though they are basically tasteless, it wouldn't be Christmas without them. I'll not bore you with the encyclopedic history of the dragee - just a few facts I gleaned. Though dragee is from the french, the Greek term is tragemata, meaning sweet treats and they date back centuries. Who knew? The classic form are Jordan almonds. Throwing out these sweet treats at special occasions and weddings meant to ensure happiness, good luck, prosperity and fertility. Multi-colored paper confetti is now usually the replacement.
Silver dragees have long been used for pastry decorations. Gold, copper, rainbow and pearlescent colors are now available. The USDA says the silver dragee is inedible. Early in the 20th century, they contained mercury though they don't now. They were even banned for sale for a time.
What to do with them? Well, decorate iced sugar cookies for the holidays. Type in sugar cookie in the upper left hand corner for my recipe. I used to sell these at a tea room and have had many compliments. They are really good and great for the holidays as you gather together or gift your friends. And, you can make and ice them ahead of time. They freeze wonderfully.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I've been away for the holidays though it seems not everyone has. I won't ever be able to read all the posts that you have written. Me, I got nada. I am still not over 3 days of cooking and cleaning while a two years old hangs on my legs with her arms up, "I hold you Nonna. Hold you."
And did I mention fighting the crowds after Thanksgiving on Fri. and Sat? Okay, I won't mention it. Okay. Here are two gourds I grew and inlaid turquoise into them. I have done many; some have been sold at various stores in Tulsa and at the Gilcrease Museum, also in Tulsa. Most of the turquoise inlay gourds have been western-themed. I also drew and burned birds and animals on them which sold well. Also oil painted a few. After I had done just about everything I could do to a gourd, I tired of making them. It really galled me to have to sell wholesale to the stores and retail outlets. Haven't tried ebay, etsy, etc. So this is what I post today. Nada lot, but something anyway.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Since Thanksgiving is nigh, I thought I would re-post this recipe for pecan pie. Simply type in pecan pie in the upper left corner and it should come up. If you remember, this recipe is not as sweet as most. It has a buttery, delectable filling that won't hurt your teeth. It's a keeper.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Japanese Maples

Just a pic to share the last Weeping Japanese Maple leaves of 2009. If you want the biggest bang for your buck where color is concerned, Japanese maples give all that and more. This tree is planted next to my goldfish pond and in fact hangs over it now. I think this is an acer palmatum but these maples come in many forms and sizes such as the weeping and upright and have quite different shaped leaves. The leaves changes many different colors from spring to fall.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Vintage textiles love me. They jump into my hands whenever they can. Old yoyo pillows, quilts, rugs, and fabrics are tucked away here and there. This piece said something to me; kids, toys, horses, chickens, a dog - gathered at a farm (Marburger Farm to be exact many years ago by my friend Maggie). I don't know if it was used as a rug or wall hanging in its day. Made of wool, it has become more fragile through the years so I decided to keep it off the floor. Approximately 5' x 3', I'm not sure where it would fit on the wall so on the dining room table as a runner it goes. I have another one somewhere with kittens and dogs on it. Guess I'll have to go look for it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Williams-Sonoma is one of my favorite stores. They have these turkey platters and some serving pieces along with table linens. Of course, turkeys being my favorite fowl, I had to have them. This platter weighs more than a turkey and they also have a round bowl platter to match. Yes, I got that one too; when will they ever have it again? It seems, I made my whole Christmas wish list from WS. Also, here is a product review. The concentrated Five Apple Cider mix is to die for. Crisp and not too sweet, it is the perfect cider. Of course, if you want, they have the mulling spices to go in it, but I think it would cover up the tart apple flavor too much, so I chose not to get it. This bottle mixes with up to one gallon of water, so the price ($20.50) isn't so bad if you price it per cup. It's only available during the holidays, so hurry down to pick up a bottle. I dropped the first bottle and broke it, so be careful with yours.

Monday, November 9, 2009


What do you get when life gives you lemon, lemons and more lemons? Curds, juice, limoncello, desserts...It is that time of year when my lemons are ripe and I couldn't be prouder if I'd made them myself. Meyer lemons are my favorite, hands down. A fellow named Meyer discovered them in China at the start of the 20th century and did whatever with them. A hybrid cross between a lemon and mandarin orange, they are perfect. Thin skinned and larger than supermarket lemons, they are fat and juicy. I've made limoncello for years, but as a light drinker, I have gallons of the stuff still in the freezer (type in limoncello for my recipe). Juice too. This time around, I am going to preserve them. These are used primarily in Moroccan food and though I don't think I've ever made any North African cuisine, I am willing to experiment. I recently saw a recipe for preserved lemon halves baked or broiled with a goat chevre filling and though I can't remember which magazine I saw it in, I'm going to try and wing it.

Here is one of my Ponderosa Lemons alongside a Meyer Lemon. They are softball sized and wait till you see one of my future Etrog Lemons. Supposedly football sized, my big girl Etrog tree is too young to marry her off to some bee. If you too would like to grow lemons, Logee's Tropical Plants in Connecticut has a catalog with wonderful fruiting plants. Even in Oklahoma, one can grow citrus.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Testing, testing...
Another post, another recipe. For the Thanksgiving holiday, I usually make yeast bread rolls called Angel Biscuits. This year I have been searching for another recipe that requires kneading. I have been wanting to try the following recipe and though utterly delectable, alas, it is not the 'kneaded one'. These Sour Cream Muffins literally melt in your mouth. Had I kneaded them, they would have required chewing. Since my son is named Parker, I think I will have to go with a Parker House Roll. Nevertheless, this recipe was so easy I couldn't believe it and only three ingredients! You won't need a mixer for this one, nor strong hands. A few stirs with a wooden spoon and they are ready to bake. I must admit, I dipped my fingers in water to smooth down the tops of them before baking as I thought I wouldn't like the tops not being uniform. However, next time, I think I would like the tops cobbled somewhat to add a little crunch to them. Whatever.
2 cups self-rising flour
2 sticks melted butter
1/2 pint sour cream
Stir ingredients to mix. Drop by spoonfuls into ungreased muffin tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm with wild plum jam (or whatever you wish) and butter.
These are very similar to southern biscuits and are really, really good, and did I say easy?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Lo and behold, it's that time of year again. Apple pickin' time is nigh. In all the grocery stores, apples of all kinds spill out of the produce bins into our baskets. This year, my twenty year old Golden Delicious apple tree is just about kaput. It has been blown over by strong storm winds then stood back up and braced. Two major ice storms have laid it down again and again only this year, half of it died. I didn't have the heart to cut it down, but I did plant three new apple trees this fall. Truth be known, I rarely ever got to eat the apples as the squirrels and deer usually got most of them. Nevertheless, this post is about apple pie - and you have to use Granny Smith apples for the best apple pie. I have tried many other kinds, including different varieties together, but always go back to Granny's. I have run this recipe previously, so type it in the upper left hand corner for the recipe. I'd also like to give a shout out to Stark Brother's Nursery. I have purchased fruit trees and berry plants from them and their quality of plants are very good.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Grandma Merriott's Chicken and Dumplings

Just in case some of you missed this previous post, I wanted to run it again. You roll out your own dumplings and this makes the best chicken and dumplings. Great comfort food for the coming cold season. Simply type in chicken and dumplings in the upper left hand corner to search for the recipe.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


For all you pumpkin eaters out there, I give you a recipe old Peter would enjoy. It is a pumpkin pie riff with a topping. Yes you could use your own pumpkin. It is easy. All you have to do is slice it up and put it face down on a cookie sheet and bake till tender. Mash it up and viola! I love the texture the fresh pumpkin gives a pie filling and the lighter color too. This recipe will work wonderfully too. And, make sure and smother it with real whipped cream, not the oily stuff.
Pumpkin Dessert
16 oz. can pumpkin, 1 tsp. ginger
13 oz. can evap. milk, 1 tsp. cinnamon
4 eggs, 1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. salt, 1/2 c. sugar
Mix and pour into large cake pan (8x13 or9x13). Picture 2.
2 1/2 c. flour, 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. sugar, 1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. shortening, 1 cup pecans or walnuts
Mix with pastry cutter and sprinkle evenly over pumpkin mixture. Picture 3.
1/2 c. melted butter, 1/2 c. milk.
Stir together and spoon evenly over top of flour/streusel mixture. Be sure to completely cover entire top with the mixture. Picture 4. Bake 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Butta anyone? I finally found my source for raw dairy products; a small organic farm a couple of hours away. I am thrilled to have found their products in Tulsa. And so the process began.

Notice that I churned the butter in a food processor?

The liquid is buttermilk, a by-product of the butter making process. Yes, I used the buttermilk too, in the yeast rolls. It turns white in the frig, but is not thickened like the kind bought at the store. I think they add glues and/or gums to it.

After squeezing all the buttermilk out, you rinse the butter in water until the water runs clear.

I wish I could say that only superwomen or men are able to make butter. This process was surprisingly easy. Yes, it is superior to store bought butter and I plan on using old molds to form the butter for the holidays. This recipe made the standard sweet cream butter with a little sea salt added. The fun starts when you begin to culture the butter. One way in which you can influence the flavor, or culture, is by letting the cream ripen or sit out for days or a week. The flavor intensifies and I guess you could make different butters infinitum. I can't wait to try different methods. One of the earliest recipes for a savory butter is from 1615 when rosemary was added to butter. Even the flavor of the grasses and the time of year the cream is produced, is a factor in flavor. I also found out more about goat cream. The molecules in goat milk are smaller and therefore, the cream does not rise to the top like cow's cream. A separator has to be used to get goat cream, which makes the best butter. I hope I can find some. Also, pasteurized cream can be used to make butter, but won't taste like butter from raw cream.
PS ~ I am so tickled when I get new followers. So, Lynn and Joycee, I'm proud to meet ya!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Went for a walk in the field today. The last few days have been perfect weather. The days are warm and the nights cool. Too soon there will be a freeze and these grasses will turn amber for the winter. The trees haven't begun to turn as yet; that is my favorite part of fall. The kids and grand kids will be down this weekend. Will wonders never cease?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Italian Fare

Though my photo didn't turn out so well, I wanted to share our dinner from last night. It was really good. I made a ragu with Italian sausage and mushrooms then piled it atop soft polenta. With a side salad that I topped with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette with lemon zest, I thought it was wonderful. My husband asked, "What's that." He doesn't like anything different or new; wondered why I didn't use pasta instead of the polenta. Anyway, I've decided to start making different variations of polenta more often.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


As you have seen before, my goldfish in the goldfish pond somehow know when I am around. Maybe ground vibrations from my footfall or perhaps they can see me, which brings me to the wild fish in our other ponds. They too know when I am coming. They meet me at the edge of the pond. Teeny one inch new hatchlings swarm around the edge closest while the larger ones stay in deeper water. All are waiting for their daily feeding of fish flakes, pellets and bread. They have excellent vision. They see me and move with my motions. When bread flies over them they race for it. There is a large crop of new babies this year. I really think they would be tamed if I would swim with them. The perch are the friendliest as are the catfish. The bass are the stealth fighters; they lay in wait and strike like a missile. I don't like them. Click on the pic to see them close up. I only let people fish these ponds if they catch and release, but rarely, if that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Well, I was feeling kind of smug this summer. I have numerous topiary birds around the farm, some potted and some in the ground. Turkeys, ducks, chickens and various exotic birds make me smile.
That is, until I saw THESE!

Oh no! Not fair! No plastic beaks and feet!

And water fountains? Ha!

Deserts and Bedouins?

Steam for the teacups?

Don't you just hate showoffs? By the way, the Montreal Gardens must have heard about me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Here Chick, Chick, Chicks

Look what I got today. It has been awhile. We raised chickens for many years; enjoyed them, their eggs and their antics. When my son went away to college, they sort of went away too. Coyotes, old age and other varmints finally killed off our flock. We never would eat them and even eating their eggs are hard when you know what's in them. Its been lonely on the farm without them. This isn't the time of year one usually starts their flock, but I couldn't wait till spring. So I got 10 pullets (girls) and will get guineas and turkeys in the spring. Turkeys are my favorites as they are so loving and have great personalities.

Taking a little nap - it is too cute!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Baking Bread

Each day, it becomes more and more evident that fall is already here. I should be making lists of things I need to do: clean out the garage, clean up the barn, throw old clothes etc. away. I could fill a binder with things I need to do but don't want to do. Instead, I think of things I'd like to do. Bake bread, make butter; real chores from days of yore. I want to try different kinds of flour - flour from kernels of red wheat, fresh if possible, and pearls of barley, oats and other grains. I've saved recipes for decades that I haven't yet tried. So, what am I waiting for? I've also been reading up on butter making. I need to find a source of raw cream where the cows are feeding on green grass or pastures. Seems this makes the most delectable butter. It is illegal to sell unpasteurized milk in the stores in our state, so I'll have to find a small dairy that still operates somewhere. Hopefully, with Jersey cows, as their milk and cream are superior in butter making. I would also love to use goat cream if I can find it. It makes the best butter ever. So, we'll see what the coming days and weeks bring. Possibly, a pilgrim Thanksgiving, only I'm not killing a turkey!