Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Visit from Peggy's Kitchen

Slept in this morning for which I blame the 0-dark-30 thunder showers. Thunder showers in February! Who says there aren't some benefits from climate change? Thank you, Lord!

As I write this it is the mid-morning of Fat Tuesday. According to American tradition Fat Tuesday will be followed by Wide-Load Wednesday, Thunder-Thighs Thursday and Flabulous Friday. So in honor of the day--and of having arrived late to work--I am featuring a repost from my good friend and fellow blogger Peggy Browning....

Fat Tuesday Chocolate Cream Pie…Life After 50

Fat Tuesday Chocolate Cream Pie
Fat Tuesday today…
Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent tomorrow…
These are two significant days on the Christian calendar to me. Today, being Fat Tuesday and all, is the perfect day to make a chocolate cream pie. It’s a great day to bake one and share it with someone you love.
I’m not a great cook although I have my moments. But my mother was a great cook and I, well…I’m her daughter…and I recognize good cooking when I taste it.
My mother, in addition to milking the cow and raising all our food and sewing our clothes, baked something sweet every day. Yes. You read that correctly. EVERY DAY. Unless there was something sweet left over from the previous day and there was enough of it for all of us. In that case she didn’t. But we usually ate it all, so she proceeded to bake. Every Day.
You see, my Daddy loved sweets, especially pies. And my Mama loved my Daddy. She expressed her love Every Day by baking him a pie.
Occasionally Mama made a cake, but that was rare. Most of the time she baked pies: cream pies, fruit pies, fried pies, cobblers. She made her own pie crusts too.
So, last week when I was craving something sweet, I looked in my cupboard to satisfy that craving. But my cupboard was bare…no store-bought cookies, no Little Debbie snack cakes, not even a cracker fortified with high fructose corn syrup.
But still…there had to be something there. I needed something, something sweet. And so, I reasoned, did my youngest grandchild.
I used my imagination, dug out the family cookbook that my sister compiled for us a few years ago, and decided to make a pie. Yum.
My mother’s recipe is for coconut cream pie, but basically any cream pie has the same foundation. As long as you get the cream part down, you can make any kind of pie you want: banana, pineapple (use only canned pineapple), chocolate. I had nothing but the basic ingredients and some cocoa. Therefore…chocolate cream pie it would be!
Although I didn’t have the instructions for how much cocoa to use, I improvised and just added cocoa until I thought it looked right. Life is just one big experiment, after all. Right?

Chocolate Cream Pie

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
3 egg yolks
2 cups milk (I used 1 ½ cups of 2 % milk and added a ½ cup of cream)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup cocoa


3 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Baked Pie Crust ( I did use a store bought crust because I had it in the refrigerator already). I suggest Pillsbury…
 For the pie filling:
  • Slowly heat 1 ½ cups of milk in a 1 ½ or 2 quart sauce pan. Do NOT let it boil.
  • Mix sugar, corn starch and cocoa  in a bowl. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks well then add ½ cup cold milk. Stir together.
  • Add dry ingredients to egg & milk. Mix well. (Should make a nice smooth concoction, like a smoothie)
  • Now add the mixture to the hot milk, stirring constantly until it is the consistency of pudding.
  • Pour into the baked pie crust.
  • For the meringue topping:

    • Add cream of tartar to egg whites. Beat egg whites until very stiff. Add sugar and vanilla, beat until sugar is dissolved.
    • (If you don’t have cream of tartar, that’s OK. My mother never used it and her meringue was excellent…In fact I prefer not to use cream of tartar because I like the meringue better without it.)
    • Spread egg whites on pie and brown in 350 degree oven…10 minutes maybe…possibly more…depends on how brown you like your meringue. It doesn’t take long, so don’t walk out of the kitchen and forget you’ve got something in the oven! (Don’t laugh. It happens.)
    I’ve made lots of cream pies in my lifetime, but none recently…like in the last 10 years or so. (I blame Weight Watchers for that.) And chocolate cream pie? Never. This was my first.
    I swear…this pie was so good it made me cry. And it made me miss my Mama. When I fed a few bites of chocolate cream pie to my granddaughter, I could feel my mother close by, smiling at us. I know my grand-baby felt the love there, just as I did.
    There’s no better way for a proper Southern woman to express her undying love for someone than to bake them a  pie. You need to bake one today…and maybe Every Day
    Enjoy Fat Tuesday and eat some chocolate cream pie!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Fun with Fiction in a Flash? Hurry!

Call me old. Call me slow. Just don't call me late for Happy Hour! This here post is about a growing niche in short-short story writing called flash fiction.

You might think of flash fiction as somewhat akin to Tweets on steroids in that the idea is to tell a coherent, engaging story within a limited word count. Exactly what that limit is depends on the guidelines of the various publishers. Typically it may range from 200 to 2,000 words, but the trend currently seems to be for stories with word counts well south of 1,000.

No, I have not tried my tired hand at it yet, but I'm fixin' to as we say here on the knife edge of West Texas. In fact, I need to get to it rather quickly as the deadline for entry in the latest contest to thread my email closes at one minute to midnight tonight.

If any of my writerly friends out there wish to while away a snowed-in Saturday (on the East Coast, at least) whittling out a yarn in 250 words or less under some rather tricky keyword requirements, you can get the particulars on this contest from my friends at Flash Fiction Chronicles.

Got you curious about these short shorts? You can learn more and sample some outstanding flash fiction at Flash Fiction Online.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

And Ode For Valentines

If You’d Be Mine

I’d dang near wrestle a porcupine
If you’d be my Valentine;
Barrel down the Brazos to the old Gulf brine
If you’d be my Valentine.

I’d gladly let the Dow decline
So long as you’re my Valentine;
Stand naked in Times Square singing “Clementine”
So long as you’re my Valentine.

I’d crawl on my knees to Caroline
To seal the deal and make you mine;
I’d cut and paste ‘til the sun don’t shine
To seal the deal and make you mine.

To the craters of the moon I’d walk the line
If you’d be my Valentine;
That is to say, away I’d pine
Unless you be my Valentine.

© Jim Miller 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Here We Go Again!


Yes, we're back, launching yet another edition of...what? Pure cussedness? Naw, that doesn't sound quite right, although the occasional rant well may be in order. Old farts do like to vent!
Unfortunately, young whippersnappers aren't all that big on listening when we do.

Picking up where we left off from Rolling Plains Journal? Something like that, I suppose. Only this time we are not pinning ourselves to a specific geographic region. I guess you could say, then, we are going GLOBAL!

By the way, for those of you--all ONE of you--who read our closing RPJ post, we remain for the moment on Texas' Rolling Plains. Relocation still awaits closing some family property here. Once that is settled, we will be off to the Pacific Northwest! Now THAT's going to be something to write about!!

As you may have suspected by now, we don't have a mission statement exactly yet for this new venture. So for now we're just going to call it a continuing education lab on writing online content for fun and profit.

To that end we chose to launch with Blogger in order to monetize this venture through Google AdSense.  WordPress does not allow that. But we still love WordPress as a blogging platform. If you have not done so already, please drop by The Happy Homesteader, our home on the WordPress range.

We may as well mention here, too, that we have staked out a claim at HubPages.com
We wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone who may be looking to join a progressive community of online writers to help polish their craft and pick up some coffee money.

That's it for now. We're going to go eat some fish--tilapia--and think on a proper mission statement. Meanwhile, don't be a stranger, and if you read something here that moves you, we'd be obliged if you would let us know. Our comments door is always open!

Y'all come back now, hear!