Welcome! :-) Whatever brought you here today wasn't an accident, and I'm so glad you stopped by. I'm always glad to have folks drop in my kitchen for a visit and hope you'll feel right at home. We always have an ample supply of fresh lemonade, sweet tea, and a pot of coffee brewing along with a sideboard full of baked treats for you to enJOY while you're here. Relax and take your time as we visit and catch up on the latest news. Don't forget to email and let me know what's going on in your world, as well. And, come back soon!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nanna Week in the kitchen

With four grandchildren it's often difficult to find time to spend alone with each one, but this week, I've committed to do just that. Normally, I spend time with the youngest, Samuel, (15 months) every Wednesday, but spending time with the others usually means shared time between all four of them. Sometimes, they get a little envious of Samuel's Wednesdays and ask for their own special "Nanna Day," so they have been granted their wish this week. Emma spent the night Sunday night and all day yesterday. We spent time in Nanna's Spa doing nails and hair, then went shopping and came home and baked her favorite Molasses Cookies and Devil's Food Cupcakes. By the time we finished that, we were so tired, we both fell asleep in the recliner and slept for a whole hour before the door bell woke us when her mom came to get her and leave Jacob for his "Nanna Day."

Molasses cookies are probably my very first memory of cookies that my sister, Robbie, used to make when I was a little girl. Hers were the BEST ever, and no matter how many I've baked over the years, I've never quite achieved the flavor of hers. But, I'm still trying. I'll share the recipe I'm using now (the same one that is in the new cookbook, coming in September), and you can let me know what you think. These are soft and chewy in the center and crunchy on the outside. They "crinkle" and "crack" on top from the sugar coating that you give them before baking. With fall coming up, they are perfect to bake for a yummy fall treat--and they leave your house smelling so spicy and wonderful. Just makes you want to cuddle up with a good book and a warm blanket. Hope you enJOY them!



1/2 c. regular Crisco shortening

1/4 c. butter flavor Crisco shortening

1 c. white granulated sugar

1/4 c. dark molasses (I use “Grandma’s Unsulphered Molasses”)

1 egg

2 tsp. baking soda

2 c. sifted all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. cloves

1/8 tsp. ginger

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. real vanilla flavoring

For coating:

1 cup granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a small mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, sift together with a fork, and set aside. In a medium or large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine both solid shortenings. When combined, beat in the sugar. When fluffy, add egg and beat until well combined. Add vanilla, and molasses. Mix well. Use a spatula to stir in the dry ingredients until all are taken up. –DO NOT CHILL— BAKE IMMEDIATELY –

Use a cookie scoop to form doughballs to drop in a bowl containing 1 cup (or more) granulated sugar. Gently coat all sides and place balls on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for approximately 10 minutes (10 to 12 minutes baking allows the cookies to spread out and “crackle” on top). Remove and allow cookies to sit on the cookie sheet 1 minute, then remove to cool on waxed paper or foil. These freeze well and store well, so you can make them in advance for the Holidays, for mailing, or for gift giving.

YIELD: about 30 cookies

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Pinch of This ... A Smidgen of That: My Favorite Pie

A Pinch of This ... A Smidgen of That: My Favorite Pie

My Favorite Pie

No matter what time of year, no matter how hot or how cold, my favorite pie of all has to be Coconut Cream. My favorite place to eat the pie is at Charlotte's in Keo, AR, but since I can't always go to Keo for pie, I have to make my own. Here's the recipe I use for the Best Coconut Cream Pie in my cookbook:

Pat's Coconut Cream Pie


1 (9-inch) pie chell, baked

1 to 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (use more sugar for more filling, more volume)

2 Heaping T. cornstarch

2 Heaping T. flour

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups milk (2% or half & half... depends on how rich you want the pie)

2 to 3 T. butter (cold from the refrigerator)

5 eggs (use 4 if you're using less sugar), separated, at room temp. (Hint: separate when COLD, then allow to come to room temp before mixing them for meringue)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. coconut flavoring

2 MORE T. butter (cold)

1/2 C. moist flaked coconut (Baker's bagged coconut, packed gently), plus extra coconut for garnishing the top of the pie.


4 or 5 egg whites, at room temperature (be sure not to contaminate whites with the yolks of any oils from your fingers or utensils. Do not begin sooking pie filling until egg whites have come to room temperature, because you will be making the meringue and topping the filling while it is still HOT. If you fail to cover the pie with meringue while hot, and th epie gets cold, it will cause the meringue to "sweat" or get drippy and pull away from the sides. It needs to go on while the filling is HOT and bake while it is HOT to brown the top.)

Wisp of salt (scant 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.)

1/2 to 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 tsp. clear vanilla flavoring

1/2 tsp. coconut flavoring

10 T. granulated sugar.

Moist flaked coconut for topping meringue


1. In a heavy saucepan or double boiler, use a whisk to combine sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt. When dry ingredients are well combined, gradually add milk (or mixture of milk, as above). Once well mixed into the dry ingredients and all lumps disappear, add cold butter and bring mixture to a boil over medium to medium-high heat, stirring gently, but constantly to keep from sticking until thick and smooth. Once boiling and beginning to thisken, beat egg yolks well, stir in a little of the hot filling mixture and pour back into the sauce pan. Cook over medium heat (just bubbly) for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, so eggs have a chance to cook. Remove from heat, and stir in the additional 2 T of butter and the coconut and vanilla flavorings. Allow to sit while preparing meringue.

2. Add salt and cream of tartar to egg whites that are at room temperature.

3. Using highest speed of your hand mixer, beat egg whites until the mixture looks froathy or foamy. Immediately, add all 10 T. of sugar while you still have enough "liquid" (not all air and foam) to dissolve it. Return to highest (whipping) speed of your mixer and beat in as much air as possible to make meringue fluffy with soft peaks. When you lift the beaters from the beaten whites, the peaks will stand straight and then tip over. Add the flavorings and continue to beat until the meringue pulls into pointy peaks that stay that way. It's now ready to use.

4. Fold in 1/2 C moist shredded coconut into the filling (still in the saucepan) just before folding in 1/3 of the prepared meringue. Be sure to fold in all the way to the bottom and sides of the pan, so the meringue is evenly distributed, but do not beat--gently turn over the filling to fold in the meringue.

5. Have oven preheated to 350 F. Pour filling into cooled pie shell, and beginning at the edges spread remaining meringue around the rim of the pie, then fill the center and work your way out to the edges using a spoon to swirl waves or ripples into the meringue. You can use the back of a spoon to pull the meringue up into peaks all over the pie. Don't wait for the pie to cool! Do this while the filling is HOT. HINT: Make sure to seal the edges by spreading the meringue to the very edges of the pastry, so none of the inside filling shows. I use th etip of a table knife to do this--just to drag a thin layer over the edge of the fluted crust so it seals the pie while baking an ddoesn't pull away when it begins to cool.

6. If you desire, you can sprinkle moist flakes of coconut over the top, just before placing it in the oven to toast the top of the meringue. Bake the meringue low and slow at 325 to 340 F (you'll learn which does best for your oven and know which to use) for a bout 15 to 20 minutes. Start peeking through the "window" on your oven door (DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN) at about 15 minutes.

7. When done, remove to a cooling rack or countertop to allow the pie to cool completely--which will take several HOURS, so be patient and find something else to do so you won't be tempted to cut this yumnmy, great smelling pie! Keep it sitting in a place free from drafts (fans blowing, doors opening, an open window, kids galloping through the house, etc.) (grin)

8. When ready to cut, for a clean slice, us a hot, dampened serrated knife (pass one through a stream of your hottest tap water and blot dry before cutting. This also works well for cheesecakes.)

9. EnJOY every yummy bite!

10. Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to one week (it won't last that long, but you can try)!