Hey! Make it easy, follow us by email!

Monday, December 19, 2011

To All in Texas and Beyond, Merry Christmas, Ya'll!

Twas The Night Before Christmas (Texas Style)

'Twas the night before Christmas, in Texas, you know.
Way out on the prairie, without any snow.
Asleep in their cabin, were Buddy and Sue,
A dreamin' of Christmas , like me and you.

Not stockings, but boots, at the foot of their bed,
For this was Texas, what more need be said,
When all of a sudden, from out of the still night,
There came such a ruckus, it gave me a fright.

And I saw 'cross the prairie, like a shot from a gun,
A loaded up buckboard, come on at a run,
The driver was "Geein" and Hawin", with a will,
The horses (not reindeer) he drove with such skill.

"Come on there Buck, Poncho, & Prince, to the right,
There'll be plenty of travelin' for you all tonight."
The driver in Levi's and a shirt that was red,
Had a ten-gallon Stetson on top of his head.

As he stepped from the buckboard, he was really a sight,
With his beard and moustache, so curly and white.
As he burst in the cabin, the children awoke,
And were so astonished, that neither one spoke.

And he filled up their boots with such presents galore,
That neither could think of a single thing more.
When Buddy recovered the use of his jaw,
He asked in a whisper, "Are you really Santa Claus?"

"Am I the real Santa?  Well, what do you think?"
And he smiled as he gave a mysterious wink.
Then he leaped in his buckboard, and called back in his drawl,
"To all the children in Texas, Merry Christmas, You-all!"

Poem taken from All Saints Hospital staff Christmas cookbook circa 1960's, supposedly submitted by Edna Nowell, Sr. LVN.
I believe the All Saints Hospital is in Ft. Worth.
Photo by
Well, I know you are busy with all your last minute Christmas 

preparations, so I will mosey on out of here and have another 

cup of coffee! Go ahead, put another batch of cookies in 

the oven and have the Eggnog ready for Christmas Eve. I 

know Santa will be stopping Buck, Poncho and Prince at your 


Merrily, Susan, Chi and all the StarDragonflyHerbals gang!

I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try

to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of

the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little

at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into

the holidays, let them overtake me unexpectedly, waking up some

fine morning and suddenly saying to myself:

'Why this is Christmas Day!

Quote by Ray Stannard Baker

Red and Beauty playing in the snow!
This photo was taken
Dec. 19, 2010.
That was today, one year ago!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Saga of the New Pet With A Stinky Disposition!

Sourdough Miner
Photo by
The handsome fellow in the photo is fortunately not the new pet I am talking about.  But, I am sure this fellow would appreciate some of my new pet and he would most likely put it to good use!

Ahh, you are thinking....
"Susan has been hitting the spirit filled Holiday Eggnog again!  What on earth is she talking about this time?"

I am talking about our new Sourdough Starter!  We (Cousin Sandra, Neighbor Ann and I) got a wild hare the other day when we were talking about ways to become more self sufficient.  I think the question was "How can we make bread if we could no longer get yeast?"  Well, me and my big mouth piped up and said "There's always Sourdough starter!"

Sourdough Starter in Jar
What remains of my first
quite successful baking of
a Sourdough Boule
A view of what the new shelving
for spices and teas looks
like in my beautiful orange kitchen!

Okay, now, I did not know what I was getting into when I became the proud owner of a smidgen of Sourdough starter.  It's kinda like getting a FREE puppy or kitten.....uh, there really is no such thing.  Yes, the lovely little creature may not have a price tag when you are happily whisking her away to join your family....but, just wait til you make that stop at Walmart or Pet Smart and buy all the stuff that little critter will need just to start out. Then there are shots, flea drops, tick collars, more dog or kitty food, dogie Christmas presents, obedience school, advanced obedience school, get the picture.  Sounds like the voice of experience, dontcha think!

My favorite baking flour just happens to be King Arthur flour.  Why you may ask.  Well, I hate to admit it, but I just like the whole idea of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and the beautiful Guenevere, the wicked (misguided?) witches and beautiful black stallions decked out in glistening gold armor.  Oh, yes, flour, back to the flour....King Arthur flour is a quality flour and they have a great website....www.kingarthurflour.com.

photo by
Anyway, they just happen to have sourdough starter for sale and the stuff has a pedigree!  We will get into the pedigree business later.  And it was only $6.95 plus shipping (which cost as much as said starter).  You could buy a cute little King Arthur canister to house your starter for $26.95 plus shipping.  Uhh, not at this time Thank you.  My starter can live in a mason jar just like all the starters before it....well, actually, they probably lived in crockery pots but I don't have one of those, so a glass jar will have to do!

Now, I didn't warn you or maybe I did that this is a saga....a tale.....a story about my adventure with my new starter, the history of sourdough, and baking.

Oh, and we may have to interrupt this sour saga because next Saturday is Christmas!  So, I will post something seasonally appropriate.....whatever!

Not to give away too much of the story yet....but if you would like to have your very own Sourdough starter please let me know because this thing is already starting to multiply!  Just email me at:
stdragonfly@yahoo.com and NO!, I will not trade for a puppy, kitten or anything possessing 2,4 or no legs!

Well, I will leave you now with the knowledge that the sourdough is happily souring in its pretty jar in the frig.  This tale will continue in a couple weeks, so until then, enjoy the holiday season, stay warm and eat a holiday cookie for me and Chi!  Oh, I have tried to take photos of Chi with fake reindeer antlers.  It's not pretty.   I don't know, but some of the Christmas joy is lost when you get a photo of a SNARLING dog with fake reindeer antlers.  Happily yours, Susan

If you are a dog and your owner suggest that you wear a sweater, suggest that he wear a tail.
Fran Lebowitz

The Pug that ate Christmas!
Photo by

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Herbs, Spices and a Holiday Sweetie!

Christmas is coming, the Geese are getting fat!  Well, I am not so sure about the Geese...but I always like to be a little extra careful about my health and the health of those around me at this time of year!  And every year it just seems so much easier to put on fat than it did the year before!  And, even though I hate to admit it, I LOVE cookies!  And jeez, I am not so sure how Santa would react if I left him some fat free granola, apple slices and soy milk.  I am sure the Reindeer would get the granola and apples slices and I could just see Santa hunting around for a potted plant to water with Soy milk.  So, let's not tempt Fate and go ahead and leave the good stuff for Santa and the Reindeer!  Cousin Sandra just informed me that the GOOD STUFF is the fat free granola, apple slices and Soy Milk!  (Who does she think she is fooling?  We are related after all!)

Photo by
There are quite a few really wonderful cooking magazines on the news stands now.  And another thing that I absolutely love are cooking magazines.  Actually, the photography fascinates me.  Well, my favorite cooking magazine is the Food Network Magazine www.foodnetmag.com .  It is crammed full of wonderful recipes, tips and stories about the Chefs that appear on the Food Network.  The December 2011 issue has a section called Food News and lo and behold....there is a small article titled....
might be good for you.
Go ahead and indulge: 
These ingredients come with
health benefits!
Yeah, right!

(Okay, to those of you who subscribe to this Blog, there are 8 of you and you know who you are!  My apologizes on the Blog not being finished!  Please bare with me.....I am not sure what button I pushed or what magic incantation I may have whispered inadvertently but the StarDragonfly Herbals computer in its infinite wisdom, PUBLISHED my unfinished blog!  Check back, uhhhh, maybe tomorrow and I should be finished!  Puzzled, Susan)

The first ingredient listed is Ginger.  The article says "Have a little gingerbread after hitting gym:  (Who are they kidding?)   A University of Georgia study shows that about 1/2 teaspoon of ginger can relieve post-workout muscle pain."  According to my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook....a batch of Gingerbread which is baked in a 9 x 11/2 inch round pan, only has 3/4 tsp. ginger in the recipe.   Uhhh, how long did you work out at the gym so that you can eat almost that whole pan of Gingerbread?  Not long enough, honey!

Instead try this:   Ginger Root Tea
Peel a 2 inch piece of fresh ginger root (Brookshires actually has Ginger Root in the produce section) and slice into thin slices. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Once it is boiling, add the ginger. Cover it and reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain the tea. Add honey and lemon to taste.
Note: Keep in mind that if you are making ginger tea as a home remedy during cold and flu season, sweeteners are not recommended.

This tea is wonderful hot or iced.  It will be Spicy!  But, I love this tea with Honey.  I have even made this and put Green or Black Tea Bags in and let steep 3 minutes.  Four bags should do the trick.

Photo by
 Cinnamon....."New research shows that antioxidant rich spices like cinnamon can help keep your triglyceride levels low after eating high-fat foods." Food Network Magazine  Okay, I agree, but....you cannot  eat a big old buttery Cinnamon Roll and expect the cinnamon to work on your triglyceride levels. Taking as little as 1/2 tsp. a day of ground cinnamon has been shown to lower triglyceride levels. 

So, you need to be sprinkling Cinnamon on lots of things to get 1/2 tsp. daily!  Cinnamon is a pretty potent spice!  So, go ahead and sprinkle that Cinnamon on:  Your morning cereal, oatmeal, toast, yogurt or in your coffee.  Really, adding the Cinnamon to the grounds before brewing works best. Chai tea contains cinnamon and better yet, sprinkle some on sliced apples.  Okay, okay if you have to indulge in a cinnamon roll, go for it, or sprinkle some on your ice cream or in your eggnog.

Talk about Sweet!
Photo by
 Peppermint......."This herb has been a natural remedy for indigestion since the late 1600s and now we know why:  New research shows that peppermint activates an anti-pain reaction in the gut, soothing achy stomachs." Food Network Magazine  This is why the Restaurants keep a little bowl of those pretty mint candies by the door!

Using Peppermint is easy.....keep a pocketful of those little mint candies or drink a cup of mint tea.  Celestial Seasonings brand is always a good bet and easy to find.

Nutmeg..."Eating sweets doesn't have to lead to cavities:  Studies show that nutmeg can help prevent tooth decay, thanks to its antibacterial properties."  Food Network Magazine  Yes, nutmeg is a very interesting spice and I think I will give it a blog post of its own.  I am not so sure how much of the Food Network statement I believe.....put then again "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!"

Photo by
and last but not least......Cloves........"Of the 425 spices and herbs analyzed in a 2010 study, cloves had the highest concentration of antioxidants, which makes them the most effective at fending off cell-damaging free radicals."  Food Network Magazine

Ahhh, my work here is done.  Now you may go about your holiday baking knowing that you are adding anti-oxidants, cavity fighting qualities, and pain relieving properties to your kitchen creations. If you can figure out how to leave out all the sugar and fat.....well, let me know.  Because I don't think you can create a really yummy cookie without BUTTER and SUGAR!  Until we meet again in cyberspace....Spicely yours, Susan.

Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap!
Robert Fulghum in 1987 at Middlebury College

photo by

Monday, November 28, 2011

Beauty and a nice Scrub, too!

Lavender and Squash Blossoms
November 11, 2011
My Black Beauty surveying all the
delicious greenery!
 I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of good food and family!  Here at StarDragonfly Herbals, Cousin Sandra, L, and I had Chicken Tortilla Soup, and to add to the  soup, we had Cilantro and Jalapenos from this years garden.  In fact, we had Cilantro volunteer to sprout and now have a whole raised bed full of baby cilantro plants.  An Apple pie made with Tennessee Winesap apples was for dessert.  I know, I know, what happened to the Turkey and all the accompanying delicious sides and desserts?

Last week, I featured the Winnsboro Emporium and it's proprietor, Conrad, because he so graciously has let me set up a mini store to sell my herbal wares.  So now I would like to tell you about these herbal wares, talk about the herbs used in the products and how to use the products.

The first products we will be talking about will be:

Sister Susan's Natural Skin Care Products

I love to make these homemade beauty products!  I like to use fresh, natural or organic herbs and oils because they are gentle and healthy for the skin.  When learning to make these products, I was using my teacher, Rosemary's basic recipes.  She states when you are using these products that you should always be thinking the thought "I am beautiful" as you apply them!  Honestly, we don't tell ourselves enough how beautiful and special we are, we feel we must wait for someone else to say those words to us.  Well, believe me, folks, we are all in the same boat! So from us at StarDragonfly Herbals, let us assure you that you are beautiful!

These are the basic instructions for using the: a.  Cowgirl Face Wash & Scrub
                                                                    b. Chamomile Flower Astringent
                                                                    c.  Cowgirl Face Lotion

1. Make a paste in the palm of hand by adding a few drops water to 1-2 tsp Cowgirl Face Wash & Scrub.  Apply to face in gentle, circular motions. DO NOT GET IN OR NEAR YOUR EYES!  Leave on and relax in a bathtub full of bubbles or just rinse face off!
2.  Put Chamomile Flower Astringent on cotton ball and gentle clean face.  DO NOT GET IN OR NEAR YOUR EYES! 
3.  Apply Cowgirl Face Lotion.  Start with just a small amount on the tip of your finger.  Your skin will seem oily at first but will absorb the lotion.
4.Always think of yourself as beautiful and now have a wonderful day or a restful evening!

Sister Susan's
Cowgirl Face Wash & Scrub
Sister Susan's
Cowgirl Face Wash & Scrub

This is such a nice face scrub.  When I first discovered this scrub, I had been using an Apricot scrub that was very harsh.  You better be very careful using that scrub!  You definitely could scrub a couple layers of skin off in a hurry!  Use the Apricot scrub on your heels or a dirty cooking pot but use the Cowgirl Face Wash and Scrub on your lovely and tender face and hands!

The Cowgirl Face Wash and Scrub contains:

Powdered milk....think Cleopatra!  Really, powdered milk has the same benefits as good old camel milk!  "Over two thousand years ago, Cleopatra filled her elegant tub with camel milk to maintain her notoriously supple skin.

Milk naturally contains Vitamins A and D, which helps to make your skin soft, yet strong. Further, the lactic acid in milk has natural beta hydroxy acids which not only exfoliate your skin, but soothe it. The natural ingredients found in milk improve the appearance and condition of your skin. As milk eliminates dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, it adds essential moisture."  www.natural-skin-care-info.com/milk-bath.html

Ground oats... "Oats are  highly absorptive, hypoallergenic, and help to soften skin. They have the best amino acid balance of all the cereal grains (amino acids work as water-binding agents in skin care products). Oats have been clinically shown to help heal dry, itchy skin."  www.pioneerthinking.com/oatmealbeauty.html    Beauty (the horse) maintains that oats beautify her from the inside out! 

Ground almonds...Exfoliation Gone Nutty – Finely ground almonds can be used as a gentle and natural exfoliate, great for rubbing away dead skin cells and sprucing up the complexion. Almonds contain linoleic acid which is a fatty acid that helps soften and moisturize the skin.

Ground lavender...Lavender is really known for its calming aromatherapy effect but lavender contains powerful antioxidants that prevent and counteract the irritating effects of pollutants on the skin.

Blue Corn

Ground blue corn...Blue corn is one of the oldest varieties. The Pueblo tribe in the Southwestern United States was using blue corn at least as far back as 1540, when Spanish explorers discovered the region. Corn meal is a natural and gentle exfoliate.

Thelma's Rose
A beautiful cabbage type rose given to us
by our dear neighbor, Thelma

Ground rose petals..."The use of the rose is far and varied. It has a long history in its use in folk remedies, especially in the area of skincare. It is suitable for all skin types, but it is especially valuable for dry, sensitive or aging skins. It has a tonic and astringent effect on the capillaries just below the skin surface, which makes it useful in diminishing the redness caused by enlarged capillaries.

The rose also offers a soothing property to the nerves and emotional /psychological state of mind. It is regarded as a mild sedative and anti-depressant. It is increasingly used in treatments for conditions of stress: nervous tension, peptic ulcers, heart disease, among others." www.rosemagazine.com/pages/therapeutic.asp
Wow!   I am always amazed at the healing properties of the plants!  Not only are they beautiful but so generous.  They feed us and the animals, cloth us and give us medicine and beauty!  Sister Susan's Cowgirl Face Wash & Scrub is available at the Winnsboro Emporium, located on Main Street in  Winnsboro, Texas or contact StarDragonfly Herbals at 903-866-3606 or stdragonfly@yahoo.com.  Until next time, remember you are beautiful and so, think beautiful thoughts!  Herbally yours, Susan
Beauty is not in the face;               
beauty is a light in the heart.Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from StarDragonfly Herbals!

Need I say more?
 Good morning!  Wow, can you believe how the time has flown!  This is Thanksgiving Day week!  When I started the blog (August) the temperature was a daily 105!  But, let me tell you, I am thankful for this cool weather!  The garden has been thriving!  Believe it or not, I have Lavender blooming!

A great store
full of

Now that Farmer's Market is over for the year, I have been very excited to be able to put my herbal products in one of Winnsboro's finest little Main Street stores!  If you haven't visited the Winnsboro Emporium it is  located across the street form The First National Bank of Winnsboro. You haven't been to the Emporium?  Well then, it is high time you wondered on down Main Street and stopped in to visit Conrad.  The Winnsboro Emporium has quite a collection of first edition books, videos, art work, candles and candle holders, jewelry and  now StarDragonfly Herbal products.

The Winnsboro Emporium

I am very thankful to Conrad for letting me set up a little area in his store to display StarDragonfly Herbal products.  I realize there is not much inventory yet!  But, I make everything in small batches with herbs fresh from the garden.  Dried herbs come from our gardens or are responsible wild-crafted from the woods and plains of Northeast Texas or are ordered from companies that promote organic and fair-trade practices.

StarDragonfly Herbals
Mini Store
The Winnsboro Emporium
As of this week, these are the products available:

Sister Susan's ....
     Cowgirl Face Wash & Scrub
     Chamomile Flower Astringent
     Lavender Homemade Face Cream

StarDragonfly Herbals....
     All Purpose Herbal Salve
     Garden Calcium Herbal Tea
     Herbal Fairy Dust
     Packets of Dried Herbs

Between now and Christmas, I will be working on some herbal gift baskets and Eye Pillows!  These should make great Christmas presents!  Also, I would be happy to make custom gift baskets.  Are you looking for something different, unusual or homemade to give for Christmas this year?  Let me know by sending me an email:  stdragonfly@yahoo.com or calling me 903-866-3606.  Or if you are in the Winnsboro Emporium there is a notebook on my mini store table for customers to leave me notes and ask for products.

On Being Thankful!
I wanted to end the blog today with thoughts about being thankful!  I really have had a great year.  My job at Art & Espresso was fulfilling and creative until it ended in August, then I was so amazed and appreciative of all the support from customers and vendors at the Winnsboro Farmers Market. 
I am so thankful for my home!  Chi and I share a great place to live with Cousin Sandra and all the other critters that are loved and cared for at StarDragonfly Herbals.  I am thankful for the herb and vegetable gardens that struggled to survive through the drought and are still producing. 
I am blessed and thankful to have so many friends and family that are not only loving but supportive. 
I am thankful to have Cousin Sandra.  I cannot say enough about her....but she is not only family but my best friend.  That is a rare quality these days.  
I am thankful to have a kind and gentle man like L in my life.  Not to mention, HANDSOME!   
I am so blessed to have my dog, Chi.  She is always available when I holler, "I need my Herb Dog!" as I head out to the garden!  And bless her great big doggie heart for putting up with me dressing her up for Blog Photo sessions. 
There are so many things I am blessed and thankful for in my life.  And I want to extend a heart felt THANK YOU, YA'LL to my faithful readers!  Your support and following have just been amazing!

I will close this week with the feeling of being totally appreciative for my life.  My sincere desire for you and all who stop by for a visit here at the StarDragonfly Herbals blog spot is that you have more things than you can list to feel blessed about, not only this week but all your days!

For Thanksgiving (and those days after!) eat lots of turkey or tofurkey and have a piece of pumpkin or pecan pie for me! 
Thankfully, Susan


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Messes, a Recipe and Computer in Trauma!

Sandra, I cannot even begin to work in this kitchen!
So, Susan, just what do you think
I am doing up here! 
Oops, my apologizes
to Cousin Sandra, the Queen of Paint!
Good afternoon!  I know I am a day late on the Blog.  My apologizes to all my faithful readers who begin looking for the blog on Monday morning.

Well, let me tell you what's been happening.  I have started a new house/petsitting job in Winnsboro.  It really is fun to be in the middle of Winnsboro so close to the holidays...there will be Thanksgiving celebrations and Christmas programs galore.  And I will be pretty much in walking distance to everything.  I will be enjoying city life for a couple weeks while down on the farm, Cousin Sandra has been painting the kitchen and will be putting up new shelving to display my vast collection of spices and teas.

So, the blog is short and sweet today.  Because most of the rooms in the house are filled to the brim with stuff from the kitchen.  Which means there is really no place to cook or create anything herbal.

Wednesday, Nov. 16 is Homemade Bread Baking Day

I received this recipe in an e-newsletter I get from the author of the China Bayles mystery series.  Her name is Susan Wittig Albert and her website is Abouthyme.com.  I won't be able to try this bread for a couple days, or at least til I can locate the crock pot in the StarDragonfly Herbals kitchen.  I have an idea.....why don't you try this bread and let me know how it comes out!

Susan's Easy Slow-Cooker Herb Bread
Baked in your slow-cooker, this crisp-crust oat-and-wheat herb bread is moist and good-tasting. Great for summertime cooking or anytime you don't want to heat the oven. This recipe makes one small loaf.
  • 1 tblsp yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • ½ cup warm milk
  • 1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1½ tblsp olive oil
  • 1½ tblsp honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup wheat germ
  • 2 tsp fresh or dried minced rosemary
  • 2 tsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)
  • 2 cups wheat flour, plus up to additional 1/3 cup
Turn on the slow cooker to high. Place a trivet (try a couple of fruit-jar rings or crumpled aluminum foil) in the bottom. Add 1 cup water.
Grease a deep bowl or other container that will fit your cooker. I use one of those 9"x5" disposable aluminum foil bread pans.
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Combine with warm milk, oats, oil, honey, egg, wheat germ, herbs, and salt (if desired). Stir in 2 cups flour, a cup at a time. Turn the soft dough out onto a floured board and knead, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is soft and elastic. Shape to fit your cooking container.
The herbs are a suggestion; use your own favorite savory combinations.
Place dough in the cooking container and arrange on the trivet. Make a tent of aluminum foil and place loosely over the dough (this keeps moisture from dripping off the lid and into the dough). Bake on high for 3½ hours (no peeking until the end!), or until a toothpick tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Native Plant Society of Texas Winnsboro Chapter meeting Thursday, November 17 at (new time!) 6:00 pm!  At Art & Espresso on Market St. in Winnsboro.  I will give a short talk on plants used for dyeing fibers.

Well, I shall let you get on about your day....I have been hearing thunder rumbling outside and that means at any given moment the computer can shut itself down and go into hiding.  Great, a computer with Thunderstorm anxiety!  Have a great week!  Messily yours, Susan

Maximilian's SunflowerHelianthus maximilianii


Monday, November 7, 2011

Howdy, Ya'll, Paula Deen and Hoecakes

Howdy, Ya'll!
Good morning, Ya'll!  Today we are going to explore a good old southern recipe.

The other day I was watching Paula Deen on the Food Network.  Well, I hate to admit it but I do love Paula and her penchant for BUTTER!  Ya'll, Sandra and I do try to eat healthy.  Soooo I hesitate to use Paula's recipes because of the high fat content, and I am not much on frying food.  Oh, yeah, Ya'll, cookies don't count because Ya'll just have to use BUTTER to make a good cookie.....and honestly, I have never found a healthy cookie that was worth eating because they usually don't contain BUTTER!

Paula was talking about Hoecakes.  They serve these delectable little cornmeal cakes at her Savannah, Georgia restaurant Lady and Sons.

Photo by 

Ya'll need to  surf on over to the Lady and Sons website and take a look at the menu.  Talk about good old down home cookin'!  Now I know Cousin Sandra and L would absolutely have a drool fest over the selection of fried foods.....I would order one of the signature salads and a plate of those fried Hoecakes, and yes, please pass the BUTTER, Ya'll!

Okay, let's step back into history and learn where and how the Hoecake originated.  Historically speaking, cotton was the main farm crop around 1745.  The hoes designed for cotton fields were large and flat with a hole for the long handle to slide through.  The farm hands at lunchtime would stop work and build a fire, then let the fire burn down to a bed of coals.  The blade of the hoe was washed in a creek and the handle was removed.  The workers would have brought a mixture of corn meal and salt in a mason jar with them to the field.  They would use fat back to oil the hoe blade then place the blade on the hot coals.  A little water was added to the jar until the texture was just right.  This  batter was then cooked on the hot hoe.  Hoecakes were created.

Hoecakes are also called Journey or Johnnycakes.  These were an early American staple food.  These cakes were baked on a wooden board or barrel stave at an angle in front of an open fire.
Traditional Hoecake Recipe

Photo by
Hoecakes, Ya'll!
2 cups corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water
oil for frying
Put the tea kettle on to boil. In a large bowl combine the corn meal and salt. When the water boils, measure it in a metal or tempered-glass measuring cup. Pour the boiling water over the cornmeal and stir it up. The cornmeal will swell up, absorbing the water, and making a very thick mash.
Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. You can use as little as two tablespoon of oil per panful, but it is a little easier to use 4 or 5 tablespoons of oil for each panful. Use your waistline and frying skill as the final judge. Now scoop up a little of the cornmeal mush (about 1/4-cup) and shape it into a patty. It will still be warm from the boiling water, so be careful not to burn yourself. You can let it cool down some more first if you like. Plop the patty into the hot fat, and get it to frying. Make some more, until you have a whole pan full. I usually cook about 4 or 5 at a time. When the underside is crispy brown, turn them and cook the other side. When both sides are crispy and brown, transfer them to a plate to keep warm, and start another batch. This recipe makes about 12 hoe cakes.
Paula Deen's Lady and Sons
Ya'll will need:
1 C. self-rising flour
1 C. self-rising cornmeal, or from a mix (recommended Aunt Jemima's
2 eggs
1 Tbls. sugar
3/4 C. buttermilk
1/3 C. plus 1Tbls. water
1/4 C. vegetable oil or bacon grease
Oil, butter or clarified margarine, for frying

Now, Ya'll these are the directions:

Mix well all ingredients, except for the frying oil.  Heat the frying oil or butter in a medium or large skillet over medium heat.  Drop the batter by the tablespoon into the hot skillet.  Use about 2 tablespoons of batter per hoecake.  Fry each hoecake until brown and crisp; turn each hoecake with a spatula and then brown the other side.  With a slotted spoon, remove each hoecake to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Leftover batter will keep in the frig for up to 2 days.

After much soul searching and waistline analyzing I think I will make the traditional hoecake recipe.  If Ya'll hadn't noticed the traditional recipe has no added fat, Paula's has 1/3 C. added fat, 2 eggs and buttermilk.  Need I say more.
Now Ya'll let's get busy cookin'.  Oh, by the way, I put a pot of beans on the stove this morning.  We will have brown beans, hoecakes and a green salad fresh from the garden with homemade Honey Mustard Dressing for lunch  Ya'll hungry yet?

Use a Tablespoon to drop mix
in very hot oil.  I found that
flattening the batter when
I dropped them in the oil made
a crispier hoecake.

Fry  in about 1/2 inch of very hot oil til
golden brown.

A lunch plate that would make
The Queen of Southern Cooking
We love you Paula Deen!
The Lady and Sons House Seasoning
I will share a discovery I made recently.  Well, actually, Paula was on the new show The Chew.  Cousin Sandra and I enjoy watching this show daily around noon.  Paula was giving the recipe for the Lady and Sons House Seasoning.  Well she slipped and gave away a secret ingredient because when I googled said seasoning recipe I found this:

1 C. salt
1/4 C. pepper
1/4 C. garlic powder
Ya'll, Paula gave onion powder as one of the ingredients! So, I add:
1/8 cup onion powder
Then because I cannot leave well enough alone, I add:
1/8 cup dried Thyme leaves, (I grind them in my spice/coffee grinder)

Mix all together and put on everything that isn't intended to be sweet.  We LOVE this seasoning!

The Chew comes on at 11:00 am on WFAA Channel 8 courtesy of our satelite provider

Another blog post has been completed.  Ya'll have a wonderful week!  Southernly yours, Susan
Unidentified workers in cotton field
Photo from:
"Texas leads the U.S. in cotton production and it is our leading cash crop, ranking only behind the beef and nursery industries in total cash receipts. Texas annually produces about 25% of the entire U.S. crop and plants over 6 million acres! That’s over 9,000 square miles of cotton fields."  This information is from the Texas A & M Cotton Program website.

Swing low, sweet chariot Coming for to carry me home Swing low, sweet chariot 
Coming for to carry me home If you get there before I do Coming for to carry me home Tell all my friends, I’m coming too Coming for to carry me home

In 1840, the hymn “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”  was penned by Wallace Willis, the black slave of a Choctaw Indian.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Witchy Brew and a Poem, Too!

Photo by
"Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble..."
William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I

Now doesn't that sound like a delicious brew for a chilly Halloween evening?   Let's see if we can recreate this brew! 

Photo from Wikipedia
"Fillet of Fenny Snake"
Arum palaestinum

I am going to let you in on a little secret  Fillet of Fenny Snake, Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog, etc. those are really folk names for herbs.  Let me see.....Fillet of Fenny Snake is well, that one is a little more on the mysterious side.  Fillet of a Fenny Snake is very debated as to meanings. It can actually mean "fenny snake" which is a snake from the fens of England, or some people debate that it isn't actually a snake, but is a type of fruit called Arum, and it is sometimes called "Snake's Meat".  An herb named Snake's Meat.  Oh, how lovely.  Oh, and by the way, this is a poisonous plant and not a Texas Native.

Now, let me look through my herbal apothecary for, ahhh, there it is "Eye of Newt". 

There is no way to be absolutely certain, but modern herbalists speculate that Eye of Newt referred to the seeds of the wild mustard plant, which could look like the small yellow eyes of the newt.  The photo of the Newt is by Byron Moore from Fotolia.com.  Wild mustard mixed with old wine has been used throughout its history to disguise unpleasant food tastes.  Hmm, makes you wonder if those witchy sisters were covering up the taste of "Fillet of Fenny Snake"?  Another source I came across said eye of newt could have been any of the daisy-type flowers such as English daisy (Bellis perenis).   I like the mustard seed version better, He, He, He.
Photo from
Toe of Frog
Bulbous Buttercup
Ranunculus Bulbosus

Toe of frog?  Let me reach way in the back of the cupboard.  Ahh, there I got it.  Toe of Frog or Bulbous Buttercup leaves. 
"The toxins of the buttercup cause contact dermatitis in humans. Beggars once used this property to create blisters to engender sympathy for alms; the name Blister plant reflects this practice.  When buttercups are eaten by grazing animals, the toxic oils cause oral irritation and blistering of the esophagus. In severe cases, gastrointestinal distress can lead to convulsions, paralysis and death."
This plant does grow in Texas and sounds like one that needs to be avoided!
Now we need to add a little Wool of Bat.  Wool of Bat is more commonly known as Holly Ilex aquifolium.  Okay, the Holly in our brew will be a Yaupon Holly Ilex vomitoria  because it is a Texas Native.

Native Americans used the leaves and stems to brew a tea, commonly thought to be called asi or black drink for male-only purification and unity rituals. The ceremony included vomiting, and Europeans incorrectly believed that it was Ilex vomitoria that caused it (hence the Latin name). The active ingredient is actually caffeine, and the vomiting was either learned or as a result of the great quantities in which they drank the beverage coupled with fasting.  Hudson, C. M. (1976). The Southeastern Indians. University of Tennessee Press ISBN 0-87049-248-9.

Tongue of Dog
Hound's Tongue
Cynoglossum officinale

Oh, dear, now where did I put that dried Tongue of Dog.  Noooo, I didn't, wouldn't, couldn't use are real dog's tongue.  Tongue of dog is Hound's Tongue Cynoglossum officinale.  This plant is also called Gypsy Flower or Rats and Mice due to its smell.  Tongue of Dog does not grow in Texas, is considered a noxious weed where it does grow and is a medicinal plant.

A serpent's tongue.
Isn't he cute!

Now a pinch of Adder's Fork or Serpent's Tongue Erythronium americanum.
Caution!   Adder's fork can be strongly emetic  in some people (which means it makes you throw up a lot).
Adder's Fork is native to Texas.

Now for  a good dose of Blind-worm's Sting and Owlet's Wing.  Ahhh, sorry, folks, these must be the secret ingredients because I cannot seem to find out any information on these herbs.

Could you please bring me that fresh Lizard's Leg?  Oh, look, there is some on that wall over there!  No, not that cute little Gecko!  That Ivy trailing along the wall!  Yes, that is the fresh Leg of Lizard that Mr. S's witches are using.

Okay, so now we have all the ingredients  to make some sort of mystical concoction.  We will put it on the fire to let the cauldron bubble.  Well, not actually the brew given above but how about a big pot of Veggie soup?

Anyway, have a Happy Halloween and remember Nov. 1st  is the Day of the Dead. 

Until next time,
Spookily yours, Susan 

The Witch's Garden

In the witch's garden,
The gate is open wide.

"Come inside," says the witch,
'Dears, come inside."

"No flowers in my garden,
Nothing minty, nothing chivey."

"Come inside, come inside,
See my lovely poison ivy."

By Lilian Moore (1909-2004)

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Sugar High and a Sweet Voice

Candy Corn
Granoturco di candy
How close is this Italian translation
to Latin?
Good afternoon, All!  I am a little late getting around to blogging on this foggy Monday, because I am pet sitting with a lovely elderly lady dog named Elsie and her cockatiel friend, Bird.  So just a quick blog then I am off to stay with my new furry and feathered pals for a few days.

October 30 is National Candy Corn Day! 

I hate to admit it but I love this stuff.  To me and my system it causes a pure sugar rush and has me pinging off the walls, so it is a one time a year indulgence.  When I was a kid, I thought Candy Corn must be food of  the Gods, after all we only had this colorful sweet at Halloween!

"Candy corn history dates back to the 1880s when the Philadelphia-based Wunderlee Candy Company's George Renninger invented this popular candy. Wunderlee Candy Company was the first company to manufacture the candy. In 1900, the Goelitz Candy Company, which later became the Jelly Belly Candy Company, started making these candies and continues to make candy corn today.

Originally the candy was made by hand.[3] Manufacturers first combined sugar, corn syrup, wax, and water and cooked them to form a slurry. Fondant was added for texture and marshmallows were added to provide a soft bite.[3] The final mixture was then heated and poured into shaped molds. Three passes, one for each colored section, were required during the pouring process.
The recipe remains basically the same today."  This information is from Wikipedia.com

Heather McCready

Photos courtesy of
A couple weeks ago, Cousin Sandra, Ann, L and I went to see the Heather McCready Ensemble in concert at Crossroads Music Company and Listening Room in Winnsboro.  We have seen Heather and her guys perform several times and love them every time we see them.  If you have never had the pleasure of seeing Heather or listening to one of her CD's Sandra has found a link to view several of her videos.

Show Schedule:

The opening act for Heather was an up and coming local singer named Lindsey Gail.   You can learn about Lindsey at her website:  http://www.lindseygail.com/

Title card from 1966 TV special

And the Great Pumpkin will rise up out of his pumpkin patch
with his bag of toys for all the good children.
—Charles Schultz, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Well, hate to rush off.....but I should go check on Elsie.  So until next Monday, be good and leave a few of those sweet treats for the Trick or Treaters.  Or maybe just stuff your favorites or the Candy Corn to the back of the cupboard, I won't tell!  Susan

I'm outta here!