Monday, April 27, 2020

Cooking from "Scratch"

Cooking from scratch is sometimes simple, sometimes complicated. It requires a mixture of experience and knowing what flavors work best with each dish. The down-home recipes on this blog are designed for the new cook as well as the very experienced. All it takes is a little time in understanding the ingredients and steps. I prepare these often.

The NOTE section of recipe will tell you in advance if it is one that requires a bit of thought as I sometimes do not measure exact ingredients. These you can experiment with easily and none of them are complicated. That's the best part of scratch cooking, you can claim the dish as your own.

To new cooks: from scratch means you start with basic ingredients where nothing is pre-mixed and you have to measure the quantities. It also means there are very frew processed foods used.

Of course, there are recipes from others that have proven just too good to not share. Like the Best Breadmachine White Bread. It would be wrong to keep that to myself. Then there are those that are simply links to articles I've written elsewhere but they take you directly to the recipe.

We discuss using fresh vegetables, making your own seasonings, growing your own herbs and how to use them. I hope you stay for a while and enjoy using the recipes and suggestions. Leave a comment or share something. I will post the recipe with full credit to you if you do.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Best Gluten-free Southern Cornbread

Organic gluten-free Southern Cornbread

This recipe was adapted from Since we very rarely eat gluten and always try to do organic it was changed to suit nutritional needs.

There is no sugar in this recipe. Sugar is a fairly recent addition to Southern Cornbread.

Instead of the usual equal amounts of cornmeal and flour notice that this recipe is mostly cornmeal.
Neither coconut oil or clarified butter will scorch.


  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or clarified butter (ghee)
  • 1 1/2 cups organic yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons of Bob's Red Mill 1 for 1 Non-gluten Baking Mix*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk, kefir or whey (organic)
  • 1 large brown egg (free range, organic)

Heat oven to 450 degrees and add empty skillet.

In a medium bowl, add dry ingredients in the order given. With a whisk stir to mix well.

In a smaller container add milk, kefir or whey along with egg. Beat lightly to mix.

Add liquid to dry mixture and mix really well.

Remove skillet from oven and add fat to hot skillet. 

Then add the rest of the ingredients to the hot skillet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes but make sure it is firm in the middle and brown.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Crispy Oven Baked Wingettes

Crispy oven baked wingettes
There are 294 calories in 3 baked chicken wings ( 9 pieces of wingettes). You might want to know this to determine how many you want to eat. They are delicious.

For those you are unfamiliar with Knott's Berry Farm, it is an amusement park in Southern California that started out as a little farm stand where Mrs. Knotts sold berries, then pies and it grew from there. Today it is competitive with the major amusement parks and houses the Supreme Scream, the world's tallest descending thrill ride.

I mention this because the winged recipe is similar to the taste and crispness of the Farm's chicken. The secret is baking powder. No flour, just seasoning and baking powder.


-I don't measure my seasonings so there are no quantities listed.

-Regardless of what you see on cooking shows or videos, always wash your chicken. It may be extreme to some but, in all honesty, I wash all meats before cooking include ground meats.


  • Lawry's Seasoning Salt
  • Thyme
  • Ground garlic powder
  • Baking powder (I use Rumsford) (don't use a lot but enough to very lightly coat each wingette) (if you want a comparable measurement use about two teaspoons but no more than that)
  • Freshly ground black pepper but you can use already ground if that is what you have
  • Wingettes, washed and drained (leave them a little damp)

Turn the oven on and heat to 425 degrees.

Use cast iron skillet or shallow container that is oven proof. Put skillet or dish in oven to heat.

Put wingettes in a container that will hold them in one layer. You can leave them in the sink if you are comfortable with that.

Sprinkle only one side of the wingettes with all the seasonings including the baking powder. Using your hand mix the chicken pieces around so that all sides are coated.

Remove skillet or dish from oven and add the wingettes in one layer. Return to oven and bake until wingettes are browned. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and cook until done. 

You will love the flavor and texture of these.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Tasty Sweet Watermelon With Chili

Sweet, juicy and cold watermelon is enhanced with chili

Fresh watermelon is one of the best treats of summer. I don't buy it in the off-season. That is why I like to get my own, if I can, from Louisiana, Fresno, Bakersfield and other local farms. But no matter where it comes from if it is a GMO product I won't eat it. And, I'd rather it have seeds.

And here is what I've found to be the most reliable way to tell ripeness. You know that yellow spot on the bottom? The darker it is and the more beat up it looks tells you if it is ripe and sweet. Sometimes, however, that may also mean it is overripe. But I've had some really tasty ones this summer using that method.

But the reason for this post is to introduce you to three taste enhancers for sweet and juicy slices of watermelon.

  • On a trip to New Orleans ten years ago I bought a product called Slap Ya Mama. In the Black community something is over the top delicious if it makes you want to slap your momma. It's a mixture of chili, red pepper and other seasonings. Totally delicious on vegetables but way tasty on fruits. Especially sweet, juicy and cold watermelon.

  • Lucas is something the kids call candy but it is a mixture of chili powder, red pepper, sugar and lime or lemon. They sprinkle on everything especially street corn. So good on mangoes but, again, you won't regret sprinkling it on watermelon.

  • Tajin is new and while it may be good and popular it is still the new kid on the block. Apparently it goes well with Tejate too.

  • Last, with all except Lucas, a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime sets it off. But be careful and start slowly. Too much and it can all become overpowering. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bacon-wrapped Wild Trout

Organic and wild... bacon wrapped wild-caught trout inspired

One the best things about a trip to Louisiana is a trip to West Wego in New Orleans to get fresh fish and shrimp. All wild-caught. Of course, another fresh fish outlet is in Simmsport, Louisiana at Coco's ( But this trout was purchased whole, fresh and very clean in W. Wego. I did have to scale it...

This recipe was inspired by author John Hemingway and was found at this page: I didn't change much except to add a sprinkle of garlic powder. Everything on the plate is either wild or organic. The only oil came from the bacon.


  • 1 whole trout, wild-caught
  • 2 slices organic bacon
  • 1/4 cup organic cornmeal, yellow
  • salt (I use pink)
  • pepper
  • a sprinkle of garlic powder
  • 1/2 fresh lemon cut in quarters

Wash trout and remove scales. If the pan you will use is too small, remove the head from the fish and maybe the tail. Leave the rest whole. Dry but leave just a little moist.

Mix the cornmeal and seasonings in a bag and mix well. Add the trout, twist the tops of the bag closed and shake so that the fish ends up covered completely.

Wrap the bacon around the fish and make sure it is touching on all sides of the fish. Two slices should cover the entire surface.

Heat your skillet until it is very hot then add the fish. Secure the bacon so that the fish stays wrapped.

Fry on one side for five minutes and then add the lemon juice of one quarter.

Turn fish to other side and repeat.

If your bacon did not brown on fish in places just take some tongs and hold it down for a minute or less.

I served this dish with red potatoes: cut in half, rubbed with olive oil, sprinkled with pink salt and fresh ground pepper then steamed. And a fresh salad with organic tomatoes and half an avocado. No salad dressing, just a little lemon.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Gator Sausage Gumbo with Royal Brand Super Long Grain Rice

Gumbo with Bernard's alligator sausage, langoustine and Royal super long grain rice

Visiting my hometown, Alexandria, is usually a priceless shopping and dining experience. Two or three years ago my cousin and his wife introduced us to Bernard's where you can purchase super quality foods like alligator sausage or filets, live crawfish or dine at his restaurant. The Po'Boys are the best I've ever had. I think they make their own seasoning blend. They do not have a website but the products are all over Louisiana. The main restaurant is in Cottonport and if you are nearby you will not regret stopping in for a meal.

Locally, I get some of these items from Big Rick at City Foods Wholesale What a gem when you can't make the 2000-mile trip to the land of all good food... City Foods has other exotics like alligator filets and elk sausage so click on the link to get the .pdf price list. He also has Mary's organic chickens along with whole pigs and regular meats, spices and condiments. On Saturdays you can get samples because that's when he grills.

This is my quick version of Louisiana gumbo. You can sub any sausage except Italian which has the wrong seasoning for southern style. The langoustine (baby lobster) was purchased at Costco where you get a fairly large bag for a reasonable price. I get the whole thing but vacuum seal portions.

Honestly, if you are watching your cholesterol this gumbo is not for you. It is a nightmare actually, lol, with the processed meats and shellfish. But it is healthy in that these ingredients are real foods and are fresh and freshly made. Enjoy.

Make roux according to link and set aside.
Put equal amounts of water and chicken broth in suitable sized pot. 
Add the okra mixture and bring everything to a boil.
Add roux.
Add the tomatoes and sausage. Bring to a boil and cook until sausage is nearly done.
Add langoustine.
Add cayenne pepper and file to taste
Cook until thickened

Cooking rice

One of my favorite instructors was Maple Woo who taught our Chinese cooking class at the local college. She taught techniques that I still use thirty years later. For instance, how to de-fat a duck for roasting by hanging it suspended so the fat will drip out. But the most useful thing was how to cook perfect rice. I have the recipe on another page but will list the instructions here just for convenience.

  • Any amount of any type of rice (I use a jasmine, Royal super long grain mostly. It is an Indian brand)
  • Water to cover for washing
  • 1/2 inch water for cooking

Place rice in a bowl and cover with water. Scoop rice into to hands, rub together and let fall back into the water. Drain water and repeat until water is clear.

Leave rice in bowl and put in enough water to cover. Let soak for 1 hour.

Using a pot that will hold all the contents and cook without boiling over, place rice in. Add 1/2 inch of water (1/2 inch is half of a finger joint).

Bring to a boil and cook until only large bubbles are forming. Turn fire to lowest setting, cover and then steam rice until done. Please do not stir. It is not necessary to stir rice.

A Quicker Method:

Wash rice well. Place in proper sized pot and cover with one inch of water. Bring to a boil and cook until only large bubbles are forming. Cover, turn heat to lowest setting and cook until done. This procedure eliminates the soaking which is why you need more water.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How To Make Perfect Rice

A bowl of perfectly cooked rice

How to Make Perfect Rice
By Ethel James Powers

Rice should never be boiled in more water than it can absorb. Here is a simple method to make perfect rice every time no matter which grain size/shape you use.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

things you'll need:
  • 1 cup long grain white rice*
  • 1 quart pot with lid
  • Salt (optional)
  • Strainer
  • Cold water
*1 Actually, you do not have to have exactly 1 cup of rice, you can just pour any amount into an appropriate sized pot.

But, to make things simple, measure one cup of rice into a bowl. Wash Rice by rubbing between palms and letting rice fall back into the water. Drain the water, add more and repeat until water is almost clear. If you are in a hurry, just do it once.

2 Drain rice by letting it fall into a strainer. If you do not have one, just carefully drain off water with your hand as a guard to keep rice from falling out of bowl.

3 Return rice to bowl and cover with 1/2 inch of water. You can easily measure by inserting your index finger into bowl until the tip of it touches the top of the rice. 1/2 of the first joint in your index finger is 1/2 inch. Let the rice sit in the
clean water for one hour.

4 After an hour, drain the water from the rice. Put rice in the quart pot and add 1/2 inch of clean water. You can add a pinch of salt, if you prefer. Put the pot on the stove over medium heat (flames should not be beyond the bottom of the
pot). Let the rice cook until only large bubbles show. Immediately, put lid on pot and turn flame to the lowest point. Let rice cook until it is done.

5 You can tell rice is done when all water is absorbed and it looks fluffy. If it is soggy, there was too much water added. At this point, just put it in the microwave on a plate to get rid of the excess. It will be sticky but not mushy.

6 Rice soup: With leftover rice and rice that is stuck to the pot, add 1 bouillon cube, 1 green onion stalk and enough water to fill pot almost 3/4 full. Bring to a boil. Beat 1 egg and drizzle it into the boiling stock. The egg will separate into
small ribbons. Add shrimp for an extra treat. This soup is similar to Chinese Egg Drop Soup. Soup is done when rice is no longer stuck to the pot.

NOTE: if you are using the no-soak method (using 1 inch of water), simply put the rice in appropriate sized pot, cook until only large bubbles are left, then cover and cook on lowest setting unti rice is done.

Tips & Warnings...

This is an excellent rice to make stir fried.

If you do not have time to wait the hour for the rice to soak, add 1 inch of water to the rice instead of the 1/2 inch. Cook in the same way as above.

To clean the pot after removing rice, make Chines Egg Drop Sour or simply soak the pot in cold water. The rice will expand and loosen. Do this after cooking any grains like oatmeal and other cereals and grains.

Keep an eye on the rice when it is first put on to cook. You don't want all of the water to cook out before you put on the lid.