"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

Monday, October 28, 2013

Best of the Best

As Curator of Books for the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Barbara Haber developed one of the country's most important collections of cookbooks and books on food history - over 16,000 volumes - to accompany the papers of such food luminaries as M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child and Elizabeth David.  When the Boston Globe asked her favorite book in the collection, she named Cleora's Kitchens.

Cleora's Kitchens is a rare treat.  Not just recipes, but a history, told by Cleora, of her life growing up and learning to cook.  

Born in 1901, Cleora, an ancestor of slaves, traveled by wagon train with her family, from Texas to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) for a promise of free land.  Cleora learned to cook on a wood stove at the age of ten and ended up being somewhat of a celebrity cook herself.  She worked in Tulsa for oil barons and wealthy businessmen; she catered and cooked sometimes for 300 people and served them on a sixty foot table.  

She had a joyful life and spirit, and on the last day of her life, she flew to Dallas with her publisher, to an affair at Neiman Marcus.  They were going to do a fete to launch Cleora's book.  That night, Cleora died, the same day her first book came from the printer.

The recipes are all so original.  Besides Burnt Sugar Ice Cream (Cleora's favorite), the following recipe was one of her most requested and loved.


4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup broken pecans
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa
4 rounded tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat eggs well; add sugar and butter and beat well again. Sift cocoa and flour together. Add broken pecans. Fold into sugar mixture.  Add vanilla.  Pour into 9x12 by 3inch pan. Set pan in a pan of hot water.  Bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Fudge will have the consistency of firm custard and will be crusty on top. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

The following recipe is for an appetizer.


Wrap giant stuffed olives with strips of bacon.  Secure with a toothpick and fry in fat.  Powder (while still hot) with pulverized roasted peanuts.

Whether making home brew or Possum Grape Wine (Possum grapes are a type of wild grape), or baking Popovers or Orange Biscuits, Cleora's recipes sound divine.  I could go on and on, but then you'd get tired of reading this post. You'll just have to get a copy of this wonderful cookbook.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Winter Weather Folklore

Back in the days before weather forecasters tried to predict what the weather was going to do, farmers used lore that was passed down from generation to generation.  I don't know if all the predictions are factual or not.  Has that groundhog ever been right?  One prediction, that birds roosting together on telephone lines predict rain, is indeed true.  I see it time and again.  Another truism is that the moon will have a ring around it when rain is eminent.  
The persimmon seed is said to predict winter weather.  Wild persimmons grow in abundance around here; the deer love them.  Late in fall, the fruit ripens and the seeds are easy to extrude.  What does the persimmon seed say about this winter?

For a spoon, there will be lots of heavy, wet snow.
If the seed has a fork, the winter will be mild with light-powdery snow.
If you see a knife, there will be icy, cutting winds.
Looks like a spoon to me.

Here are a few other folklore forecasts:

When leaves fall early,  autumn and winter will be mild; when leaves fall late, winter will be severe.

A warm November is the sign of a bad winter.

If September is hot (and it was here), look for a mild winter at first, but a very cold end to winter.

Warm falls are followed by cold winters.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Paradise

Sumptuous interiors lit by gas lamps and candlelight, exquisite clothing and wonderful acting...  what more could you want.  I've been waiting for Emile Zola's The Paradise to arrive stateside and the first installment did not fail in meeting my expectations.  British period pieces and foreign films with subtitles, PBS, well I am one happy camper. This will hold me over until Downton Abbey returns next year.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Finally Fall

Just had a rain and first cold front come through and look what popped up.  Maybe now, I too, can get in the fall spirit.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pride & Prejudice - Thug Notes

Oh, the places you'll go on YouTube.  Thug Notes is kind of like Cliff Notes, but more Crip Notes.  Some salty language here, but it's bleeped.
 Uh, on second thought, after watching the Catcher In The Rye review and Hamlet, not all the off color language is bleeped, in fact, I believe the only word they bleep is the f word, goshdarnit.
Um, after another long pause to reflect, don't watch this if you are easily offended. It is a tad raunchy. Okay, maybe even R rated (or as my son just told me, NSFW).  It's funny (to me), which isn't saying much. What's humorous to me is a little skewed, but when he calls Hamlet a player, a sensitive bitch and cra cra, it made me laugh.

FYI - Spam

For those of you whom still have the number/letters verification, I too was getting a lot of comments from spammers.  I just changed my timetable of how far back they could comment, and I haven't had a spam since February.  And, you don't have to do all that rigamarole just to leave me a sweet message. Just sayin'.