Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Food for the Soul....Budget Style!

Chicken Stew with Lima Beans
My husband likes to bargain shop.  He often buys large quantities of a grocery item because "it was on sale!"  He can't resist the opportunity to save a few pennies.  Often we tire of the bargains before we use them up!  I have a pantry full of foods that looked good at the time, but of which we quickly tired of eating.  I am sure that some of my readers can relate.  I digress....Yesterday he brought home fifteen pounds of chicken thighs!  There were a real deal at sixty nine cents a pound.

Luckily, across town on the same day, a friend posted a picture of a dish  using chicken on her Facebook page.  My husband saw the post, admired it and then couldn't find it again.  He asked for the posting person to share the recipe.  In the meantime, several offered up their own versions and found some recipes for us on the Internet.  It was a conversation piece.  Perhaps we need to get real lives as the hunt for the recipe entertained us for hours

At the crack of dawn this morning I began cooking Chicken Stew with Lima Beans.  I consulted my friends' recipes and finally devised my own version determined by the ingredients I had in my pantry.  That's the best kind of budget cooking....using what you have!!  I decided to serve the concoction over fried grit cakes.  I had some in my freezer and frying them up seemed a good alternative to rice.

This dish is Southern, soulful and very budget friendly!  The lima beans and the grit cakes are the crowning touches.  Thanks to Julie Cherry for the inspiration.  Thanks to Phyllis Mixon for searching the Internet for a comparable recipe.  Here's my version.  I didn't make a roux, but the pan drippings contained flour and thickened the liquid to a smooth and thick consistency.   I cooked eight chicken thighs, so I only have about one hundred left in the freezer!  I am hoping to find more unique ways to cook those thighs before we tire of them.

Chicken Stew with Lima Beans over Grit Cakes


8 chicken thighs, bone in or boneless
1 cup flour (seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 cup each chopped:  onion, bell pepper and celery
1 T. minced garlic
about 1/2 cup white wine
3 reduced sodium chicken bullion cubes
2 cups boiling water
1 (24 oz) package of frozen baby lima beans
dash of Kitchen Bouquet seasoning to taste
garnish: parsley and paprika

1. Coat the chicken pieces with flour and brown in the vegetable oil.  Don't crowd the pan.  I did four at a time.
2. Remove chicken and place pieces in a 4 quart slow cooker.
3. Saute' the vegetables and garlic in the drippings.  Transfer them to the slow cooker on top of the chicken.
4. In the same pan, add the bullion cubes to the water.  When cubes are dissolved, pour the liquid over the chicken and vegetables.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine and pour that over the chicken as well.  Add Kitchen Bouquet to achieve a dark color.
5.  Cover the slow cooker and cook on High for about 2 hours.  Reduce heat to Low and cook about 2 more hours until chicken is tender.  Stir in Lima Beans.  Continue to cook until beans are soft, about 1 more hour.
6.  Serve over hot Grit Cakes or rice. Garnish with parsley and paprika.

Grit cakes while cooking
Grit Cakes (my version, based on eating them in a restaurant)

Prepare grits to serve 6 according to package directions. Add about 1 T. minced garlic to the water in the recipe. (I used Quaker 3-Minute Grits)

When grits are cooked, stir in about 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese.  Line a 9"X 13" pan with waxed paper and pour in the grits.  Spread the mixture into the pan so that it is even throughout.  Refrigerate.  When the grits are cold, they will hold the shape of the pan.  Cut them into rectangles and "flash freeze" on a cookie sheet.  When frozen, place grit cakes in a plastic bag in the freezer to store until ready to cook.

To prepare for serving:  coat each cake with an egg wash, coat with bread crumbs and season the tops as desired.  My favorite is Trader Joe's 21-Seasoning Salute.  Heat about 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet.  When oil is hot, add the grit cakes and cook about 5 minutes on each side until brown and crispy.  Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel until ready to serve.

Serves 6 to 8 and costs less than $10 for the entire dish!!  The taste and the price is good for the soul.  I wonder what will be "on sale" at the grocery store next week??






Monday, August 15, 2016

An Almost Unbearable Situation....my thoughts

You cannot imagine the devastation of the flooding in south Louisiana. We and our daughter's family were spared, but we have many friends and family whose homes are flooded. Tales of several feet of water in their homes are not uncommon. The real work will begin as the water recedes this week, hopefully. 
We endured several days of rain and now the rivers are rising. The major culprits are the Amite, Comite and Tickfaw rivers. The Mississippi is retained by levees and managed by spillways. 
We also have "backwater" flooding which is flooding by water that cannot drain normally because of flooding of the natural drainage. 
The outpouring of donations has been phenomenal. Insurance and FEMA claims will begin this week. Churches and schools have opened shelters for displaced families and the Red Cross is assisting in every way possible. Many shelters had to be abandoned as they took on flood waters. One shelter had 200 people who had to be evacuated by boats. Thank goodness for the volunteers who brought their boats to the scene. 
Please pray for our community.
Furthermore: 
A few weeks ago many in our city were scourging the police and first responders because of an unfortunate incident in our community. Some were throwing bricks at police, spitting in their faces and cursing them loudly. Many were resisting directions given to them. Some were arrested for disturbing the peace. 
Today many of those same people are counting on the police and first responders to rescue them from flooded homes and unsafe conditions on our roads and highways. I hope they will be more gracious this time. 
Our public servants are working nonstop to serve the entire community. Many have worked double and triple shifts because of manpower shortages caused by people not being able to get to work. 
Please pray for our police, EMS and Firefighters. They are our support system.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Grandfather's Love

This is a very personal post as I wanted to share something that my husband, John, constructed for his first granddaughter, Olive.  It's really a pictorial essay.  The pictures speak loudly of his creativity, dedication and skill that went into building a doll house on wheels.  It is fitting that these pictures be published near Father's Day.  The doll house is an expression of love and is now shared with another granddaughter, Pearl.

The doll house project took several weeks of continuous measuring, hammering, painting and decorating.  The pictures captured each step of the way.  Enjoy viewing them and remember that many things are possible with a grandfather's love.  Hopefully the girls will treasure this delight!  










And here was the reward for the effort!   Two smiling faces and lots of memories to be made.  

Happy Father's Day, John Dickinson  (aka as Paw Paw John Allie by Olive and Pearl)



Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Reflections on Daylight Savings Time Change


My One Clock
Daylight Savings Time change in the spring always reminds me of my mother, Elise. She was told by someone... and so it must be true... that batteries for each clock should be changed on the day of the time change. Probably a good idea to change batteries now and then, but she took it to the extreme. My brother was always the one who had the chore after my dad died. She could never accomplish this task on her own. 
My Momma had many clocks and watches. Her clock collection grew when she and my dad traveled for his work.  They would follow flea markets and auctions in many of the areas in which they lived for months at a time. They bid on and purchased hundreds of old clocks.  Some were operated with a key and some were modern enough to require batteries.  I believe the ultimate plan was to resell them and pocket the profits, but that never happened. 
It is interesting to me that some people feel that others value their collections and interests as much as they do.  I remember the Christmas where I cried because instead of receiving a much needed and requested gift, I was "allowed" to choose a clock from their assortment of time pieces and wall adornments.  The clock I chose never kept accurate time...another disappointment.  
Momma was obsessed with time keeping. When she died, we removed no less than twelve clocks from her one bedroom apartment. There were clocks everywhere. I could never understand it. She had so little to do that I always thought she should just cherish each moment and enjoy herself instead of being a clock watcher. She used to set an alarm clock for 4:30 am so she could get her newspaper out of the hall of her apartment complex before someone stole it or, heaven forbid, tripped on it. 
She "timed" every aspect of her day. Some examples: a friend would call and talk for "exactly 43 minutes." or..."You were 7 minutes late in picking me up for my doctor appointment."  She would also set a time for her gatherings and would bad mouth anyone who showed up after the appointed time as though tardiness was a terrible character flaw.   There were no exceptions in her opinion of habitually late people.  They were just made of lesser stuff than she.  Even on her deathbed she requested her watch.  
A chore accomplished early morning
She lived 88 years.  Before she succumbed to poor health, I would telephone her regularly and ask how she had spent her day.  She would reply with a litany of tasks she had accomplished in the allotted time she had that day.  Sometimes when I get a lot of errands and tasks accomplished, I say that I have had an "Elise Day."  She admired people who were busy and successful. 
She was a creature of habit and took very good care of herself.  The good habits she developed were probably a result of doing things the same way and at the same time on most days.  She was a southern lady who awoke early, worked hard, but found time for a daily nap.  I can still see her resting on her bed with a damp washcloth on her eyes as she took her beauty nap.  Before that rest she always set a clock to awaken her so she could enjoy her afternoon coffee before it was time to begin preparing supper. One could set a clock by her habits.  There is irony somewhere in that comparison.  
My mother had many fine qualities, and I suppose I can even admire her dedication to her collections and to spending time wisely. However, watching her rigorous self-imposed schedule has caused me to evaluate how I spend my days.  In retirement I have divested myself of all except one clock and I haven't worn a watch since 2005.  Only time will tell who had the correct approach.  
So, on Sunday: "Here's to you, Elise!" I will change the battery of my one clock in your honor.
My Momma & Me at an event..I am sure we were on time!