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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!).