Lunch at Quilly’s

Reinventing the Sandwich!

I had a luncheon the other day and it was a total blast! Houseparty.com invited me to participate in the Kraft Foods Ultimate Sandwich Makeover House Party™.  They sent me yummy Sandwich Shop Mayo, Oscar Mayer Carving Board Meats, and Kraft Big Slice Cheeses. I supplied a table load of salad, fruit, chips and sandwich making goodies.  Nine of my girlfriends showed up for the feast.

This is what it looked like:

Check out the Oscar Mayer Carving Board Meats — thick, juicy slices just like you’d serve from home roasted meat. On this platter there is ham, turkey and chicken. Yum!

And here we have the cheese. This platter has a mixture of Cheddar, Swiss, and Pepper Jack.  These are big slices of all natural cheese, just like you’d get from the deli!

Becce made the first sandwich. She named it Large. The ironic thing is it is one of the smallest and most traditional sandwiches re-invented!  There’s turkey, Swiss cheese, peperoncini,tomato, lettuce and dill pickle.  Becce used the Herb and Garlic Sandwich Shop Mayo.  She said it wasn’t the size of her sandwich that was large — it was the flavor!

Because I had the party during Lent and served ham, Rosalie named her sandwich the “Goyim Special”.  She built it with ham, Swiss Cheese, lettuce, onion, dill pickle, tomato, and the luscious Horseradish Dijon Mustard Sandwich Shop Mayo.   Wouldn’t you just love a bite?


Mona is a vegetarian.  Here is her Cheese Sandwich Deluxe.  She built it with Swiss, Cheddar, Pepper Jack and Bleu cheeses, French Fried Onion Rings, lettuce, red pepper, and the Herb and Garlic Mayo.  She said it was the best cheese sandwich she’d ever had.

I didn’t get everyone else’s sandwiches photographed before they were gone!  I purchased several kinds of bread and Irene chose Sourdough for her chicken, tomato & pepper jack sandwich.  She also used the Garlic and Herb Sandwich Shop Mayo.  I wish I had a photo of April’s “Noah” the sandwich she made from “two of everything!”  Ardi’s Ham & Turkey Bleu Duo looked so yummy I copied it, although I crossed it with Mona’s cheese sandwich by adding Swiss and Pepper Jack cheeses as well.  Torrey made a Turkey Swiss Garden Sandwich — it looked kind of like a salad between two slices of bread.   Ruth Ann used the tiny slices of cocktail rye bread and made herself three different sandwiches, one from each meat.  She called them the “Baby Ruth’s”. (There was no chocolate and no peanuts in any of them. )

Houseparty.com provided me with wonderful reusable, insulated lunch sacks, a sandwich makeover recipe booklet, AND wonderful coupons to give to my guests as party favors.  Plus, I purchased 3 bottles of Sandwich Shop Mayo and gave them as door prizes.  My guests are still raving about my wonderful party.

Giveaway!

If you’re feeling left out, you can enter to win your own insulated lunch sack, a recipe book, and coupons.  All you have to do is tell me how you’d reinvent your favorite sandwich using Sandwich Shop Mayo, Oscar Mayer Carving Board Meats, and Kraft Big Slice Cheeses.  Don’t forget to give your sandwich a name!  (Coupons valid only in the USA, FPOs & APOs.) Contest closes Saturday, April 30th, at noon PDST. The winner will be chosen by random number generator and announced here on the blog shortly thereafter. Happy Drooling!

Valentine’s Day With Amoeba & Quilly

This morning I went to work with Amoeba. I helped a bit in the lab by doing the non-science housekeeping stuff so he could do science. I washed beakers and did some general clean up. I also watched him work for a bit and put wax seals on petri dishes for him.

At lunch time Amoeba took me to The Hungry Clam. We wanted to eat at Mi Casita, but their winter hours don’t include lunch on week days. When Amoeba suggested The Hungry Clam instead, I couldn’t think of any reason to tell him no, but I thought he was about me make me change my Valentine’s Day dinner plans. He always orders a scallop basket when we eat there — unless we go for breakfast then we both get Eggs Benedict.

Much to my joy and surprise, Amoeba ordered a fish sandwich. I wasn’t going to have to spend the afternoon researching new recipes! After lunch I happily took him back to his Fernald Hall lab, and I skipped off to the grocery store where I bought the ingredients for my love’s dinner surprise.

Speaking of surprises, Amoeba didn’t want me to pick him up from work despite the occasional rain squall and bellowing, nasty, ice-cold wind. On top of that, he surprised me by coming home an hour early. I had been futzing around and hadn’t finished tidying the house. Still, I was tickled to see him early, even more so when I realized he brought me a puppy!

For the last couple of weeks I have been telling him I wanted a dog — already house broken and well-behaved, but still a puppy. He kept telling me, “Good luck with that.” He also kept telling me “no” because the lease forbids it. Then he brought me:

stuffed dog

Love Puppy

He’s perfect. He’s well trained, but still a puppy and cute as a button! I have named him Love Puppy.

And then I cooked the special meal I have been planning all week.  I set the table with matching place mats and napkins, my favorite wine glasses and a bouquet of tulips.   We had Maryland Crab Cakes as our starter.  I’d like to tell you I made them, but the truth is, I bought them frozen from Schwans.  I served them piping hot on a ring of cocktail sauce.  No photos, I forgot.  Sorry.

Our second course was a lovely fresh baby spring mix salad with mushrooms, green onion and shredded baby carrot.  We drizzled a Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing over it.

For our main course we had pasta in Asiago Cream sauce (just make your favorite white sauce and stir in shredded Asiago Cheese to taste.  Asiago is quite dry, so make your sauce a tad on the thin side), accompanied by butter sauteed scallops & mushrooms.

The meal was a huge success with both of us.  It was mouthwateringly delicious.  And you’ll be happy to know I remembered to take a picture!

rotini pasta in cream sauce topped by scallops, scallions, garlic & roasted red pepper

Yum!

Check out the little wooden block above Amoeba’s plate. That was my gift to him. It isn’t as cute as Love Puppy, but I bet it is better behaved!

The scallion recipe follows, but I have to warn you, I read recipes as suggestions, so I am going to tell you how I made this, but I rarely measure anything.  If you’re a measuring cook, this recipe will likely frustrate you!

Sauteed Scallops with Scallions, Mushrooms, Garlic & Roasted Red Pepper.

Sauteed Scallops
with Scallions, Mushrooms, Garlic & Roasted Red Pepper

24 oz. Scallops (two 12 oz packages)
1/4 cup (half a cube or so) butter
1 clove garlic, diced
1/3 cup (or so) sliced small crimini mushrooms
1/3 cup (or so) of roasted red peppers (store bought in a jar)
1/3 cup (or so) diced scallion greens
salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in sauce pan, add garlic, scallions, red pepper & mushrooms, sauté for 3-4 minutes, juice should form from veggies & butter.  Move veggies to outer edge of pan and place semi–frozen scallops in the middle.  Turn the heat to low and put a lid on the pan.  Allow scallops to simmer 7-8 minutes.  Turn over, simmer 3-5 more minutes, serve over pasta with cream sauce*.

~*~

*I made my cream sauce with about a table spoon of butter and a cup and a half of real cream, I brought them to a slow boil and stirred in a bit of flour mixed in water to thicken it, then I removed it from the heat and immediately stirred in 1/4 cup (or so) of Asiago Cheese.

The recipe I adapted this one from called for dill, which Amoeba doesn’t like so I omitted it.  It also called for vermouth, which I didn’t have and didn’t try to substitute anything for.

Lemon was also called for — I was supposed to stir in a tablespoon of lemon juice before adding the scallops to the veggie and butter sauce in the sauté. I had planned to do that but forgot. That is probably just as well since I used cheese instead of dill.

A Delicious Fast

Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?  If it is a fast, how can it possibly be delicious?  Well, this fast isn’t about going hungry.  It’s about eating the way Daniel ate in the Bible.

Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash (p.43)

I took the photo above at my own dining room table. This is what Amoeba and I ate for dinner tonight. While we did not proclaim it delicious, and in fact found it a bit bland, we didn’t have to force ourselves to eat it. I think a couple of spices would liven it right up — cumin for instance, which was available to Daniel during Biblical times.

However, I question Daniel’s access to some of these vegetables anyway. My other half — the botanist — pointed out that squash (acorn, zucchini and yellow) are all North American vegetables. Also, pepper wouldn’t have been available to Daniel. And we’re really questioning his ability to get tofu, too.

Nevertheless, these are healthy and nutritious recipes. The one I picked to cook for this post may not have been as delicious as I had hoped, but my tastes may not be yours, and there are well over 100 recipes to choose from in this beautiful, glossy-paged paperback cookbook . If you have been looking for a healthier food lifestyle, you’ll want to check out, The Daniel Fast Made Delicious.

~*~

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

The Daniel Fast Made Delicious: The simple fruit and vegetable fast that will nourish you

Siloam (January 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

John and Ann Marie Cavazos created these recipes while serving on the staff of their Central Florida church when they realized that people were simply starving on carrot sticks every time the church held a Daniel Fast, instead of enjoying the variety of delicious, healthy foods that were originally intended to be part of this ancient eating plan.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A cookbook on the topic of fasting may sound like an oxymoron, but this eating plan modeled in the biblical account of the life of Daniel, often called a Daniel Fast, is actually loaded with fresh, delicious, health-promoting foods. The Daniel Fast Made Delicious includes more than 175 recipes, many of which are 100 percent gluten free and dairy free. Filled with easy instructions, simple steps, spiritual inspirations, and interesting food facts and figures, these Daniel Fast recipes are as nourishing to the soul as they are to the body.

Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Siloam (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381809
ISBN-13: 978-1616381806

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Introduction

Dear fellow Daniel Fasters:

This recipe book is not like anything else you’ve seen before. A recipe book for a fast—seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I mean, isn’t the point of a fast not to eat? Well, in this case the Daniel fast is about what you can eat. The Daniel fast is a unique fast—taken from the biblical account in Daniel 1:8–21 where Daniel and his three Hebrew friends ate only vegetables and drank water for ten days. Our favorite part is verse 8, which reads, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies…” This is indicative of the kind of man Daniel was—a man of purpose!

Our goal here is not to talk about fasting, per se, or give you tons of supporting scriptures. If you have prepared and purposed to fast, then you probably already know these things or have read about them in books far more poignant than ours. Rather, this book seeks to give you options, and more of them, as you embark on this unique fast known as the Daniel fast.

The incarnation of this recipe book began in response to our congregation complaining that they didn’t know what else to eat besides lettuce and carrots when embarking on a Daniel fast. This told us that, number one, people didn’t know much about vegetables, and number two, they probably didn’t eat many vegetables! In addition, we found them spending more time bored with the lack of variety of food and less time focusing on why they were fasting. We decided to present recipes that would help them spend less time concerning themselves with what they shouldn’t eat and more time deciding what they could prepare for their families. Thus, The Daniel Fast Made Delicious was birthed!

Back in 2004, during one of our Daniel fasts, we felt frustrated because we really wanted to see people enjoy the fast and benefit from eating fruits and vegetables. We were walking around a lake near our home when the Lord popped an idea into Ann Marie’s spirit. She heard the word “Pumpkin Lasagna.” She had no idea what that was, but the Lord told her He would show her how to prepare that and other healthy dishes using only vegetables and fruits.

A journey of learning began where we educated ourselves about vegetables— we shopped and prepared and ate things we never dreamed we would eat. We did a lot of experimenting—sometimes hit, sometimes miss—and we loved it, our kids loved it, and what’s more, our family and friends loved it! We began preparing healthy dishes made only with vegetables and inviting our family and friends over to share in the fun. It quickly became apparent our signature dish would be Annie’s Pumpkin Lasagna (chapter 2), since everyone loved it. The rest is history!

Now, the idea is not for you to eat more—you’re on a fast, so you’re supposed to eat less. Use these recipes to make the most of the food you are eating during your fast, but turn your plate down for one or two meals as you feel God leads—

and only if your health permits. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

The idea behind this recipe book is simply to educate you and to give you more healthy choices for you and your family as you embark on the Daniel fast. Those of you with spouses or family members who are not joining you on the fast will find this book invaluable. For those of you with children who are not fasting or who are picky eaters, there are some wonderful recipes in this book that will allow you to keep to the fast and also feed your family and not skip a beat when it comes to flavor! All of the Daniel fast recipes in Section 1 are wheat, gluten, and dairy free as well as vegan! In addition, the ingredients used in all of these recipes are organic—we encourage you to use organic whenever possible. If this is not possible, we encourage you to use a fruit and vegetable

wash on all nonporous fruits and vegetables. Additionally, with all of these recipes we use cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil because studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while raising HDL (good) levels. For further information, see www .healingdaily.com/detoxification-diet/olive-oil.htm. Why cold pressed? Cold-pressed oil is produced with the use of a low heat technique, which keeps the flavor, nutritional value, and color of the oil. Although it is more expensive it is also of higher quality. For further information, see www.wisegeek.com/what-is -cold-pressed-oil.htm. One last comment: we like a lot of garlic and cilantro in our food, and our recipes reflect this. Feel free to adjust the amount of garlic or cilantro in any of the recipes in this book to suit your family’s tastes.

People tend to think that to eat healthy means to eat yucky—not so. The secret is in how you season and prepare your food. These healthy recipes will not only show you different kinds of foods you might not have thought about before, but they also give you some great ideas on how to season and prepare your meals. It’s all about choices, and the more informed you are, the more choices you’ll have. After the fast is over, don’t run out and get fast food! In Section 2 we have included dozens of healthy recipes so you can transition from the Daniel fast to making healthy eating a lifestyle! In addition, the pasta dishes are wheat and gluten free.

Medical studies now confirm that a large percentage of the health problems in America are digestive related. According to the website Digestive System Disorders, digestive issues for the most part cause a number of diseases, such as colon, rectal, and stomach cancer; diarrhea; diverticular disease; digestive tract gas; heartburn; hepatitis; inflammatory bowel disease; irritable bowel syndrome; lactose intolerance; and stomach and duodenal ulcers. According to a recent article written on digestive disorders:

The function of the digestive system is to take the food and liquids that we put into our mouths and then either turn these foods and liquids into nutrients or energy needed by the cells of our body, or alternatively turn them into waste products that are then expelled

by our body as bowel movements. When something goes wrong with this everyday process and some part of the process doesn’t work properly, the end result is one kind or another of a digestive system disorder. There are many common digestive system disorders.

In fact, almost any natural health practitioner will tell you that food, good or bad, plays a definitive part in your health. The Daniel fast is a wonderful way to begin a life of good eating and good health. When we started doing the Daniel fast many years ago in our church, we started at the beginning of the year, around January 7, and for the next twenty-one days we consumed vegetables, fruit, and water—only! We did the fast for a number of reasons. First of all, turning your plate down and using that time to spend with the Lord is always a good thing. Second, after the holidays, most of us had abused food so much with all the celebrating we had done that we actually looked forward to the fast. Third, after a few years, a number of our members began to experience the benefit of the fast, because not only did we lose weight but also we felt better. Symptoms our bodies had manifested—such as heartburn, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome—began to disappear. (NOTE: These recipes should never be used in place of physician-prescribed medications or medical procedures prescribed by your doctor for any and all medical conditions.)

Back in 1999, after we had moved from New York to Florida, our girls, who were six and eight at the time, seemed to always be getting colds, runny noses, ear infections—something anyone with children knows something about. I grew tired of taking them to the doctor every so often just to have the doctor give them another antibiotic. I was sharing my frustrations about this with our dear friend Ruth Chironna. She asked me if I gave our girls cow’s milk. “Of course,” I replied. “What else is there to give them?” She told me to get them off of it and introduce them to rice milk. I immediately began introducing a little bit of rice milk mixed in with cow’s milk until I had weaned them off of dairy altogether. That was over a decade ago, and I can count on one hand the number of times in the last decade when they’ve been really sick or had really bad colds—and they never had another ear infection. They are now eighteen and twenty and are for the most part extremely healthy! This extended into our food, and before we knew it, we were eating better and going to the doctor a lot less. Do we ever cheat and have that slice of pizza or a burger? Sure! But everything in moderation! Changing our diet to include more vegetables, fruit, no sodas, and more water has significantly altered our lives. We trust that as you employ these changes, starting with the Daniel fast recipes, you will experience the kind of health that God intended for us to enjoy!

Whether you begin the Daniel fast at the beginning of the New Year or want to start it right now, we believe that The Daniel Fast Made Delicious is going to change the way you look at food, the way you prepare food, and the way you feel about food. Get started today! You’re going to love these recipes!

What more can we say but…

Bon appétit!

Buen provecho!

Guten appetit!

Mission Menu Challenge

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Mission Foods. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’ve been eating Mission Foods since I was old enough to start reading box labels, so of course when I started to cook I reached for the products I knew and loved. Then I decided to branch out. I got a bit more adventurous with my cooking and I started sampling other brands. I always came back to Mission. Now I use Mission Foods products not because they’re what I am familiar with, but because they provide the best quality and value for my money.

I cook one of Amoeba’s favorite breakfasts with Mission Flour Tortillas. I dice a bit of green onion, mushroom, bell pepper, and bacon, then sauté them all together.  As soon as the bacon cooks I stir in three beaten eggs and a dash of milk.  When the eggs are scrambled, I sprinkle them with cheese and wrap them in warm flour tortillas from Mission.  At the table we top them with pico de gallo and sour cream.  This recipe is inexpensive, quick, easy to make, and absolutely delicious.

If you have a Mission Tortilla recipe that will feed a family of 5 for just pennies, it just may win you a $10,000 dream kitchen makeover or an assortment of other incredible prizes. The Mission Menus Challenge begins on June 28, 2010. The grand prize winner will win round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations for him-/her-self and a guest to the Mission Menus Challenge Cook-off on September 10, 2010 at the Hard Rock Café in Los Angeles. To enter, submit your budget friendly recipe to Chef Sara Moulton at at www.MissionMenusChallenge.com. See the Mission Menu website for detailed rules and an official entry form.

Visit my sponsor: Mission Menus Challenge

Way Back in the Country Garden by Kay Moore

My Thoughts:
If you enjoy going through people’s photo albums and looking through old country cookbooks, you will love, Way Back in the Country Garden, by Kay Wheeler Moore. The stories were funny, sweet, charming and/or heart twisting. Each of them highlighted some aspect of country life and the self-sufficiency of family.

All of the recipes call for fresh ingredients, most of which can be found in your own orchard or garden — or your local farmer’s market. I have a couple of these recipes earmarked for when my garden is ready to harvest, but Amoeba and I already had the Stuffed Green Peppers (p. 190) for dinner the other night. They were a big hit.

~*~

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Way Back in the Country Garden

Hannibal Books (May 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Nelson, PR Specialist, Hannibal Books for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Author Kay Wheeler Moore has written and spoken widely on the subject of relationships and family life. She is the author of Way Back in the Country; When the Heart Soars Free, a book of Christian fiction; and Gathering the Missing Pieces in an Adopted Life, based on her Houston Chronicle newspaper series that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She has also been a newspaper city editor and a reporter for United Press International.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Hannibal Books (May 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934749710
ISBN-13: 978-1934749715

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter 1: “We Were Rich”

The screen door to the farmhouse creaked open and then quickly slapped shut.

Without glancing up from her ironing board Grandma Harris knew the next sound would be that of feet pit-patting from the front porch into the living room and halting abruptly at her dining table.

Those feet, Grandma knew, could belong to any of several of her grandchildren, whose stopovers at her house were part of their regular home-from-school itinerary.

“Oh, yum, she’s got a fresh bowl full,” Grandma heard a high-pitched squeak emerge. That would be Mable, the youngest of Grandma’s daughter, Mattie, who lived across the pasture with her family.

“I was here first, Mable,” a slightly older voice cajoled. Frances, Grandma’s namesake, got irritated easily with her smaller sibling. “Don’t hog the crackers so I can have the first dip.”

“We’ve all gotta be quick before the others get here,” the oldest one, Bonnie, warned her younger two sisters. They glanced over their shoulders to see whether any of their cousins were hungrily making their way onto Grandma’s porch.

“Girls, I got plenty of tomato preserves fer ever’one—for you and yer cousins,” Grandma gently chided. She stepped from the kitchen to hug her granddaughters, who competed for the first taste of the thick, sweet treat that awaited them as an afternoon snack. “Take turns, now, so I won’t have t’ tell yer mama ya didn’t share politely.”

Grandma Harris had put out the new batch of tomato preserves earlier that day after Grandpa fetched several jars from the storm cellar which had housed them since the summer’s canning. Grandma’s long, hot days of putting up delightful red tomatoes from their garden had yielded a treasure trove of preserves Grandma could share throughout the fall and winter.

In mid-afternoon Grandma had opened the first jar and ladled its contents into a wide-rimmed, cutglass compote that stood on a gleaming, glass-stemmed pedestal in the center of her dining table. The cutglass glistened like diamonds as it reflected the sun’s light filtering through the room. Into a separate dish Grandma had set out some saltine crackers. On this particular afternoon her red-haired granddaughters—Bonnie, Frances, and Mable Miller—were the first snack-seekers.

No doubt they’d soon be followed by some of the youngsters of her other sons and daughters whose homes were also nearby.

Ultimately Grandma Harris would go on to begat 52 grandchildren in all, but she never ran out of treats for them or resourceful ways to prepare the many vegetables that she and Grandpa Harris grew in their everlastingly prolific garden. Every Sunday Grandma prepared an enormous, after-church dinner for all of her 11 children and their families who could attend.

Because their farmhouse was closest to Grandma’s, the “Three Red-Haired Miller Girls”, as many in their community of Brushy Mound knew them, hardly ever missed a Sunday—or an after-school afternoon—at Grandma’s house, where her good cooking always abounded.

* * * * * * * * * *

A century later the Harris farmhouse built on the rich, black soil of Delta County, TX, has long ago crumbled down. Grandma’s abundant garden has been plowed under with only a few derelict weeds to mark the spot where those sweet-ascandy tomatoes grew so bountifully. For more than 65 years grass has grown unbidden around the tombstone marked “Frances E. Harris”—the Miller girls’ beloved “Grandma”.

But down all the decades, the memory of Grandma’s delectable tomato preserves served in the sparkling, pedestaled compote would remain fresh in the mind of her namesake—little Frances, who was still recounting the tomato preserves story well into her 103rd year on this earth.

“We were rich,” Frances recalled to us nieces and nephews, who discreetly pumped her for just one more of her “olden-days” country tales before night would fall on her memory forever. This font of family lore was the last surviving member of that generation of our kin. At 102 years and 1 month of age Frances could still describe picking melons the size of basketballs, okra rows that were city blocks-long, and cornstalks that seemed to stand tall as skyscrapers.

Although farm families such as hers usually lacked financial means, the garden insured that no one would go hungry. Just before supper each night Mama faithfully sent Frances and her sisters out to see what was ready to be plucked from the vine and cooked up for that night’s meal.

“We had no idea we were poor,” Frances mused from her wheelchair, “because we always had food from the garden.”

* * * * * * * *

At the time Frances related her last tomato preserves story before her passing in May 2009, people everywhere were turning to backyard patches of earth again for the same reason the Miller girls and their mama and grandma did in the early part of the last century.

Economic woes in the United States and around the world have caused family incomes to plummet. Home-gardening has become a passionate new interest for people who have never planted a seed or worked a hoe. Even the wife of the U.S. President at the time, as an example for others, grew vegetables in her own White House garden. Heads of households can gaze on small stretches of garden dirt and comfort themselves in the same way Frances’ family did. After all, the Great Depression, which clouded the Miller Girls’ youth in rural northeast Texas, did not sting as much to those who could till the soil and cultivate its yield. With food from the garden, they could always feed their families and feel “rich”, no matter how lean the times or how thin the pocketbook.

My earlier cookbook, Way Back in the Country, emphasized that food, the recipes for how to prepare it, and the stories of people who cooked them are all interwoven into the fabric of family life. Way Back in the Country encouraged families to preserve not just their legendary recipes but the lore of the loved ones—such as the indomitable Grandma Harris—who made them popular. Through tales of the Red-Haired Miller Girls—my mother, Mable, and her two sisters, Frances and Bonnie—and six generations of their farm kin and the recipes that have been regulars at family gatherings for decades, Way Back in the Country inspired others to get their tape-recorders out and investigate why “Great-Aunt Gertie” always brought lemon pound cake whenever their extended families dined.

With gardening surging in popularity once more, the time seems right to revisit the Miller-Harris legends and recipe chests—this time to celebrate the role that food from one’s own soil has always played in American homes and how, in the Tight Times of this Great Recession, it makes us feel “rich” with hope and comfort afresh. Way Back in the Country Garden again will intertwine six generations of my family’s anecdotes with cooking instructions that will probably remind you of some of your own family favorites.

So prepare to laugh, cry, and traipse down memory lane once again with the Red-Haired Miller Girls and their progeny—through yarns my family told—yarns that I didn’t always witness firsthand but can try to recreate as I can envision them happening in my mind’s eye. May you soon be preserving some country gardening tales of your own and savoring the memories and tastes of yesterday.

Copyright © 2010

All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without the express written consent of the publisher.