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New Year’s Recipe: Black-Eyed Peas

December 27, 2017

I grew up in Southern Missouri, not quite in the South, but definitely more South than North and maybe even than Midwest. Kind of the meeting spot of all of that.

One area where we were definitely more South than anything else was food. I’m pretty sure by the age of five I was 50% bacon fat.

We also followed some Southern food traditions. One of those was black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Let me be clear. I despised black-eyed peas. The tradition for me became dreading and complaining every New Year’s day about the required consumption to ensure my “good luck”for the coming year. Maybe if I’d chowed down, I’d be J.K. Rowling rich today… 🙂

The following recipe is not my mother’s but it is from my home region and my guess is the peppers makes it a bit tastier.



Black-Eyed Peas

  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sweet red & green peppers, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 4 cups black-eyed peas
  • 2 hot red peppers
  • chunk of fat pork (can save fat from some other pork cut, ask your butcher for it, or substitute bacon)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine the black-eyed peas, water and fat pork in a stockpot.


I have a red Le Creuset  stockpot that I love, but this blue one is extra pretty. (From Amazon)

Let this soak for an hour
or more. Add the hot peppers then cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the beans are tender. (plan on 45 minutes minimum) Check during cooking and add more water if needed. Once tender, stir in the minced sweet peppers and cook another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. Definitely let me know if it brings you a year of good luck!


Horse Cookies of the “stud muffin” type…

December 10, 2017

Our Appaloosa loves these expensive German stud muffin cookies. A few places sell them, but they are kind of pricey, especially if you have to order them online and pay for shipping.Homemade Horse

So I’ve been making my own. To be honest, I don’t normally follow a recipe, but a friend asked me to write one down because her horse loves them too. So… here is my latest “version.”

  • 2 cups HOT water
  • 2 cups barn oats (as in the kind you feed horses)
  • 2 cups rolled oats (extra points for using steel cut)
  • 1 cup flax meal or ground flax seed
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce (or pureed fruit, last batch I took some pears from our yard that I’d frozen and pureed them with a bit of water)
  • 1/2 whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup molasses (this is the magic)
  • Other things you might want to add, like peppermints in the middle of pumpkin seeds, etc.

An important part to this recipe is the hot water. I heat mine in the microwave and then add the oats (both kinds) to it. Then I let it sit a bit to soften and get a bit sticky.

Once that has sat five minutes or so, stir everything else in. The consistency should be that you can drop it from a tablespoon onto a cookie sheet and it will hold its form pretty well.IMG_20171209_182107389

Now either do the above for smaller treats or spray muffin tins with some Pam type cooking spray and pack the dough in to make actual muffins.

Bake at 350 degrees (325 if you have a convection oven) for 14 minutes or so for the drops and 17 for smaller muffins. (not minis, but not full sized normal either… adjust baking time dependent on the size of your muffins tins.) The tops should still be soft when you take them out. They will firm up more as they cool and they will burn easily because of the molasses.

Cool and store in the fridge or freezer depending on how quickly you are going to use them.

Or… buy them premade!

Recipe: Baked Beans

August 6, 2017

August is my birthday month, but I’ve posted so many cake recipes… so I decided to go with how we frequently celebrated my birthday, a barbecue. I love a good barbecue. My husband does the whole smoked meat thing now. Back in the day it was just a grill and some burgers. Maybe if we were really lucky, pork steaks. I adore pork steaks.

In case you aren’t from Missouri or a surrounding area, pork steaks are steaks cut from a pork shoulder/butt. Thin, but not stupid thin. In Wisconsin, I’ve only found one butcher who had clue one what I was talking about when I asked for pork steaks, so I mainly buy the butt/shoulder and cut them myself. Bone in or boneless, both are delicious.

Okay, so pork steaks…if you’ve never had them, you HAVE to try them,  but this post was supposed to be about my favorite barbecue side: baked beans.


This recipe, by the way, is a true testament to how Southern Missourians can take a fairly healthy dish (beans) and completely destroy any health benefits it might have had, but in a very tasty manner.

Baked Beans

  • 6 – 10 slices of bacon
  • 1 diced onion (or less to fit your preference)
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons mustard (plain old yellow is fine)
  • 3 cans pork and beans

Fry off your bacon, let cool and drain on some paper towels, then crumble it up. Reserve the bacon grease.

Combine bacon, onion, ketchup, molasses, mustard and pork and beans in a casserole dish. Mix it up and depending on how decadent you want to go and your taste, add some of the bacon grease. Mix again.

What all the baked beans I ate as a child were baked in! (from Amazon)

Use a spoon to taste some of the juice. Here’s where you can add more mustard if it’s too sweet or more ketchup/molasses if it’s not sweet enough. More bacon grease if you like too.


(You can also leave the bacon only half cooked and add it that way. Then it will produce its own fat.)

Bake uncovered at 325 for around two hours.You want them to thicken. Also, note they will bubble and if you have them in too small of a casserole dish, they will bubble over. I recommend oversizing the dish some and placing a pan on the rack beneath them just in case.

Also… I play with this a lot. I like the molasses, but you could substitute some of it with brown sugar. I don’t know why you would… but you could. 😉

Recipe: Lime Pickles for the 4th of July

June 25, 2017

Summer is here and cucumbers abound… hopefully. AND 4th of July barbecues are coming. Looking for something new and unique to bring? How about homemade lime pickles? Not a whole lot more all American than that.

My grandmother made a LOT of pickles. A lot. Honestly, as a kid I preferred the store-bought dills to the homemade, but I LOVED her sweet pickles, especially the lime pickles.

If you’ve never had lime pickles they are sweet and extra crunchy. Just great.lime-pickles

Lime Pickles

  • 7 LB sliced or speared cucumbers
  • 2 gallons water
  • ice water for second soak
  • 1 1/2 cups lime
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 quarts vinegar
  • 4 LB sugar
  • pickling spice

    Nothing beats an old-fashioned Ball canning jar… wide-mouthed, of course. (from Amazon)

Soak cucumbers for 24 hours in water and lime. After 24 hours, rinse well and soak another 3 hours in ice water.

Drain and transfer to a stockpot. Add salt, vinegar and sugar.  Let stand overnight.

Next day,  bring to a boil. Pour into canning jars with a pinch of pickling spice in each.

Recipe: Lady Baltimore Cake

June 4, 2017

This is what we call a fancy cake. A few more steps than a lot of the cakes most people I know make… of course, most people I know use a box mix. Personally, I don’t find most box mixes worth eating. If you haven’t had a real homemade cake in while, try one. You will definitely taste the difference.

I’m posting this recipe in June because it’s been used as a wedding cake a lot. It’s a great cake for any “want to impress” occasion though.

I love the history of this cake. Owen Wister, author of The Virginian, chose Charleston, South Carolina as the setting for a romance novel (titled Lady Baltimore) and modeled his main female character after a local belle. The book is actually titled after a cake the belle bakes and sells!

“I should like a slice, if you please, of Lady Baltimore,” I said with extreme formality.

I thought she was going to burst; but after an interesting second she replied, “Certainly,” in her regular Exchange tone; only, I thought it trembled a little.

I returned to the table and she brought me the cake, and I had my first felicitous meeting with Lady Baltimore.  Oh, my goodness! Did you ever taste it?  It’s all soft, and it’s in layers, and it has nuts – but I can’t write any more about it; my mouth waters too much.  Delighted surprise caused me once more to speak aloud, and with my mouth full, “But, dear me, this is delicious!”

An industrious Charleston tea room owner created a cake to match the book and shipped a Lady Baltimore to Owen Wister every year.

Now for the recipe…

ladybaltimorecakeLady Baltimore Cake

  • 3 1/2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup sweet milk (aka whole milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 egg whites, beaten until stiff

Cream sugar and butter together. Set aside.

Combine sifted flour and baking powder.

Add vanilla to milk.

You will have three bowls/cups.

Alternate adding flour mixture and milk mixture to creamed butter/sugar, stirring in between until all added and mixed well. Mix some more. Make sure very well mixed/beaten.

Fold in beaten, stiff egg whites.

These are my latest favorite round cake  pan. My sister came up for a visit and was all kinds of envious. Really heavy duty. (from Amazon)

Bake in three round layer pans at 350 degrees.


  • 1/2 LB figs
  • 1/2 LB pecans
  • 1/4 LB raisins
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Grind figs, pecans and raisins together in a food processor. Set aside.

Boil sugar and water in a saucepan until sugar threads when you lift it with a spoon. Turn sugar mixture carefully into the stiffly beaten egg whites, beating while adding.

Remove 1/3 of this and set aside. Stir ground fig, pecans and raisins into the original 2/3. Spread this between the layers and onto the top layer. Over this spread the plain white icing. (the 1/3 you had set aside)


Recipe: Mother’s Day Brunch Coffee Cake (Merk’s)

May 7, 2017

I love brunch. We didn’t do brunch growing up, but once I moved to St. Louis, I discovered it was a “thing,” especially for Mother’s Day and I realized what a hole there had been in my life!

That said, we did do coffee cake, and Merk’s with cinnamon and nuts and brown sugar… OMG good and perfect for any brunch, especially a Mother’s Day brunch.

I wish I knew more about the history of this recipe. All I could find was a mention of it being credited to a woman named Milli Merk and being popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s. If you know more, share!


Note: the above is a generic coffee cake image. Baked in the tube pan it should be higher and my Merk’s Coffee Cake doesn’t have a sugar glaze… although you could certainly go for broke in the calorie department and add one. 🙂

Merk’s Coffee Cake



  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 pint sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Cream shortening, sugar and vanilla well. Add eggs one at a time and beating in between.

Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda together. Alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream to creamed sugar mixture, mixing after each until all combined and mixed well.

Grease a  10 inch tube pan and line the bottom with waxed paper.  Spread half of the batter into the pan.

Cream butter, brown sugar and cinnamon together. Add nuts and mix well. Drop 1/2 of this in dots onto batter in tube pan. Pour remaining cake batter on top of dots. Dot remaining brown sugar mixture on top.

Bake at 350 degrees about 50minutes. Cool cake for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Recipe: Easter Bunny Cake

April 8, 2017

We LOVED this bunny cake when I was young. I remember when my sister and I first discovered it. We thought we were SO cutting edge and talented. LOL. Now though it has become the THING to make when we get together over Spring Break/Easter.

The actual Bunny Cake isn’t so much a recipe as instructions. You can use a box mix, your favorite white or yellow cake recipe or… carrot. 🙂

You bake your cake in two round pans. When done, let cool and then turn out onto racks. When completely cool, place one whole cake onto a flat moveable surface like a baking sheet, board, etc. Position in middle of sheet, leaving room for ears above and bow tie below.


Cut the second round cake so you have two bunny ears and a bowtie. Roughly like the pattern below.


Place ears above already placed round cake and bowtie below.

Frost the whole thing with white or colored frosting. Add coconut to make him “furry.” And add green-tinted coconut around him for grass. Decorate with gumdropsps, jelly beans and licorice to make his face, add polka dots to his tie, whatever! Have fun with it and make sure you let the kids join in.

 Or cheat and buy this pan… buy WHY would you want to do that?

Egg-free Peanut Butter Dog Cookies

April 1, 2017

Husky relaxing

Delicate flower, stressed out after a day terrorizing chipmunks.

Our husky is allergic to eggs. You really don’t realize how many dog treats and dog food products have eggs in them until you have to worry about your dog turning yellow from eating them. (The yellow comes from the horrible skin infection… it isn’t pretty.)

To the left is a picture of him in his natural non-yellow state.

When we had the original Kiska, I baked dog cookies all the time. Rolled them out, cut them in cute dog bone shapes. I even made them for other people as gifts. Did I mention this was before I had human children?

Now my time is more limited and the whole egg-free thing eliminated my favorite dog cookie recipe as a choice. I have though found a few alternatives and some ways to make them quickly even if the final product isn’t as cute… my dogs don’t seem to care. 🙂



2 cups flour (whole wheat preferably)

Egg-free peanut butter dog cookies baking

The EASY version baking.

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup peanut butter (smooth if you are going for cute)

1/2 cup hot water

1/2 cup hot broth (I used bone broth, but you want to watch the sodium so look for low salt)

2 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)

2 tablespoons molasses (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix everything together in one big bowl…. remember the liquid (water/broth) is supposed to be hot, but not so hot you burn yourself if you mix this with your hands, which I do.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

dog cookie cutters

I like these cookie cutters because there is a big size for that big dog! (from Amazon)

Now, for EASY, press the dough flat on the cookie sheet. Go for 1/4 thick. Once it is flat, cut it into squares and separate them out as much as you can.

For CUTE, roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut them into cute dog bone cookies or hydrants or whatever dog appropriate shape you like.

Bake for 20 minutes (or longer depending on your oven), let cool, and WOW your pets… okay maybe not wow, but mine seem to like them. 🙂


Skookum Dolls

March 25, 2017
Skookum and other Native American Dolls

A collection of Native American dolls and items. Not all of the dolls pictured are Skookum dolls.

Skookum Dolls, like many collectible Native American themed items, were originally sold as souvenirs. The first patent for a Skookum was filed by Mary McAboy of Missoula, Montana in 1914. Mrs. McAboy was originally from Maine and I can’t find any information on whether she had any Native American heritage of her own, but based on my limited research, I’m sadly guessing not. Her early dolls had straw or grass bodies and dried apple heads. For more on her and her connection to Butte, Montana, check out

Skookum Doll looking left

This is an example of a Skookum doll that is looking to the left instead of the more common right.

Sadly, I don’t have any Skookums of my own, but I know Lucy would love to keep a selection in Dusty Deals. The local history is just too perfect for her to resist and the dolls are charming. The ones I’m picturing here belong to my mother and I was with her when she purchased a number of them.

One major characteristic of Skookum dolls is that they don’t have arms. Instead they are wrapped in Indian blankets. This gives the appearance of arms, hidden by the cloth. Many

Skookum Doll to be mailed as postcard

This Skookum doll was sent through the mail just like this.

have “Skookum” stamped on the bottom of their foot or a tag with the word “Skookum” printed on it and all look either right or left. Most look to the right. Find one that looks to the left and it will be worth more.

Personally, I like this Skookum that was mailed as a postcard. I love the teepee, doll and the personal history attached with the addressed card. “Bessie Reedsch, 6420 Tipton Way, Los Hngles Calif.” The “Hngles” is what is printed on the card. Who thinks it’s an old typo of “Angeles?” If so, the person guilty of the typo mailed the card from Wyoming. I also love the fact that there was a time something like this was actually mailed through the post without being put in a box AND it survived AND is still looking good.Skookum Teepee card

So far as the Skookum name, according to wikipedia, it’s Chinook Jargon, a trading language used by tribes of the Pacific Northwest. The meaning most associated with the dolls is “Bully Good.” It also is thought to mean brave, tough and impressive.

Whatever the original meaning, Skookum dolls have certainly found their way into the hearts of many a collector. Do you have any of your own? Or wish you did? Let me know in the comments what you think of Skookum dolls and their history.

To learn more about Skookum dolls, check out this book from Amazon.

Sapphire Mining? Yep, in Montana.

March 15, 2017

I’m working on Dusty Deals #6 right now (currently untitled). And I’ve decided to take another bit from my past for it: sapphire mining.

When we lived in Helena, MT, our family visited us a number of times, but one of my all time favorite and amusing visits is when my mom, sister and her two daughters drove cross country (from Southern Missouri). They stopped at Bear Country and the Crazy Horse Memorial and every other tourist spot that they could on the way. It was quite the cross-country adventure that I wish I’d been a part of… kind of. Part of me is also glad I wasn’t. 🙂

When they arrived, we did all the Helena area things, including sapphire mining.

I grew up in the Missouri Ozarks and there people go to Arkansas for diamond hunting, but I’d never been myself (to either) and really had no expectations for our upcoming sapphire mining experience.

When we got there here’s what we found…

Sapphire mining in Helena, MontanaBathtubs.

Old footed bathtubs, sitting outside waiting for your sluicing enjoyment.

You got your bucket of dirt (and hopefully a few sapphires), a couple of gold panning pans and were pointed toward a bathtub. There you sluiced and sluiced until you found your gems.

Honestly, I don’t remember if we found ANY sapphires. I’m guessing the girls got whatever we did find, it certainly wasn’t anything that was paying for their future college careers.

sapphire mining bathtub

I did have a little fun with the experience, putting together a flip book with speech bubbles.

What I do remember though is my mother and sister standing next to those tubs and the look on my mother’s face when we handed her that bucket of earth and told her cleaning the gravel in that tub is what she had driven 1,600 miles to do. Also have to admit, the images reflected our hillbilly ancestry a tad too well. Let’s just say, we looked like we were born for the job. 😉

Example of some of the jewelry you can buy made with Montana sapphires. (from Amazon)

So… look forward to a little sapphire mining in Lucy and her mother’s future. 🙂

Interested in finding your own sapphires? Here are a few places to check out: Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine or Spokane Bar Sapphire Mine (where we went!).