Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Smoked Whole Chicken


So this is something that I have wanted to try for a long time! I love smoked meat of all kinds and for the past few years I have wanted a smoker. Well, this summer I joined one of those Facebook online garage sale feeds to get rid of a few things from my past life- an huge area rug I have no use for, some golf clubs that never inspired me to actually play and a few pieces of clothing that were brand new and too big (Yes!!!)  I needed to purge and as most of you know when that feeling hits, you gotta do it! So I had a pretty successful run of getting rid of my crap and making a little extra money. The thing is when you join these sites, you also get front row seating and first dibs on other people's no-longer prized possessions. (I think you are beginning to see how this ends.)  As most of you know, these garage sale sites get quite a bit of attention and if you do not have a knee jerk reaction to an item you lose! So this smoker popped up and I quickly typed, "I want it."  I then pressed send and held my breath!  I was first in queue!! Whoohooo! After much negotiation of where to meet, when to meet and which gas station had an outdoor electrical outlet so I could see it work, I was the proud parent of a new electric smoker. And the best part is, I paid seventy-five percent off the retail price. Cha-ching!!

So now my adventures in smoking have begun. Yes, I know BBQ and smoking purists, I did say it is electric! And you can argue that this is not the "pure" smoker's technique, but this first timer is having a ball learning the basics. Perhaps next year, I will be cruising Facebook garage sale ads and find one of those huge pull behind, (a dually truck, of course) full pig smokers!!! Then you better watch out!! I might take this blog on the road!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pickled Okra

So, my garden is prolific this year and I am picking okra by the bagful. Fifteen years ago, when I moved to South Carolina from Pennsylvania, these furry little pods were foreign to me. I had never seen them let alone cooked one. Around this time, my southern Mema gave me a big bag of these and instructed me to fry 'em up for my dinner. I politely accepted her generosity and then meekly told her I had no idea what she meant. She looked at me and said, "Why of course you don't. Get in this kitchen and I will show you." In true Mema form, there was no official recipe. Over the years, in all the recipes she taught me (and there are many,) her only measurement reference was "ya just add ya a lil' bit" of said ingredient. It was not so much about the measurement, but more about the experience and the feel. That day, we ended up eating fried okra on her porch and watching the world go by. I miss her and everything she taught me about southern cooking and my local area.  She never judged me, or made fun of my lack of southern heritage. She took me under her wing, taught me what she knew and provided a lot of good laughs in the process. She was happy to have me as her granddaughter; regardless of where I came from.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blackberry Pie

In the past few years, I have been through a lot and quite honestly, have lost a lot. Some things I willingly gave up and others were taken from me. No matter how it happened, it was painful and hard to overcome.  I know I have lost a lot but I have gained even more.  I understand more of what I want and what I need and am happy to see myself as a more diverse individual. I have rediscovered interests and developed new passions.  
In saying that, it does not mean that, at times, I won't mess up in some way.  I make mistakes. I don't trust well. I am self-conscious. I don't always communicate effectively. I can be impatient. And, I just generally have my moments!! Recently, I almost lost someone who is very important to me for all of these reasons. Of course, no relationship is perfect and each person brings their own problems or issues to the party, but now I see some of mine more clearly. I have a tendency to over-analyze and recently, I was just too inside my own head.  This prevented me from seeing the greatness that was right in front of me. Do you ever do that? Well I did!  It is like that old saying, "you can't see the forest for the trees!" I was not seeing the whole picture and I was panicking when little things went wrong. I was asking for one thing and then holding my hands over my eyes when it was happening. I was not allowing people to love me in THEIR WAY! I know a lot of this comes from fear. In the past, when I thought I had my whole life figured out, the bottom fell out and I realized just how hard I can fall. And honestly, I am scared of that again. What I realize now, is that recently, I was falling again. I was falling into bad habits and allowing fear to make my decisions instead of letting things take a more natural course. By following this path, I was allowing things that are very important to me slip away.
I know, that deep down, these are all things we know about ourselves but sometimes it takes a great event to really bring it to the forefront. I know now that have some more work to do!  There is another circle of healing that I need to conquer. And I will! I know that I will never be perfect but ever-growing might be a good compromise!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rebecca's Ratatouille


As most of you know, this is one of my favorite times of the year- mid July is when my garden is prolific. That means good food right outside my back door. This year my garden is like a jungle. We have been blessed with rain and sun in just the right quantities to grow tomato plants almost as tall as my 5 ft 6 inch self. I am harvesting tons of vegetables every day and really I have eaten little more than veggies for most of my meals. I have been sharing with friends and neighbors and am really proud of my little plot of earth and what it has given me.

I am happy to say that I have helped these plants grow with no artificial means or chemicals. They are as organic as they come. I only use fish emulsion and compost for fertilizer and a little insecticidal soap and natural bacteria for pest control. It is possible! It is easy!! It is something that I am proud of!! These plants are made to grow and produce. Artificial chemicals are not necessary to MAKE this natural process occur. I know certain chemical companies are really promoting a lot of blogs right now that will use their product to grow their food and therefore poison their recipes, but I can't join that bandwagon. I am proud to know that I am putting healthy fresh fruits, herbs and veggies into my body. I am also relieved to know that when I leave the garden smelling like I just walked through a patch of tomatoes, that is the only thing on my skin. No decontamination shower is needed after picking in my little urban farm. If you are in my area, bring a basket. I will let you forage and then we can sit on the porch steps and eat a warm, sun ripened tomato. Nothing better!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014


At times throughout my life, bad things happen- stress, illness, sadness, etc. When it does, I, like a lot of women I know, begin having digestive problems. As though all the crap (no pun intended) that life hands us is not enough to deal with, now I need to feel like I have food poisoning or some horrible flu! Well, this week I do! Stress and sadness have reappeared in my life in a BIG way and they have their hands tightly around my digestive system (and my heart) and they are not letting up!

For most of you that know me, you know that aside from the occasional adult beverage, I do not like to put chemicals or foreign things (medication) into my body.  I am a strong advocate for health through whole foods, nutrition and supplements.  I am also a firm believer in listening to your body and using the symptoms it gives you to make a change. There is more and more proof that stress brings down immunity. In these hard times, it is best to listen to what your body is telling you and give it what it needs to reestablish health. That is what I am trying to do now. Does it make the stress go away? Or change a sad situation? No! Sometimes only time will do that, but I have learned first hand over the past few years that without your health you have nothing.  At times you have to step back, rest and nurture YOU! No one else will do it for you! The hard times will come and go and then come again, but as I have proved to myself before, I will still be standing when they do!

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