Monday, April 27, 2020

Cooking from "Scratch"

Cooking from scratch is sometimes simple, sometimes complicated or requires a mixture of experience and knowing what flavors work best with the dish. The southern, 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 offer you recipes that I prepare often or recipes that are family traditions. I 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.

Note to new cooks: from scratch means you start with basic ingredients where nothing is pre-mixed and you have to measure the quantities.

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, November 28, 2014

Pheasant- the most delicious recipe

Pheasant- the most delicious recipe

This is the most delicious recipe for pheasant. And to add to that, look at all that bacon. This Thanksgiving proved that anything covered with bacon will turn out to be amazing!

I'd never had nor cooked pheasant before but for some reason decided that it would be the main protein for the holiday. First of all, they are expensive. A four pound bird costs as much as a free range turkey. Second, to get a good price they came 9 per box so I asked several co-workers if they would consider going in with me. It worked out perfectly.

I can't wait to return to work to find discuss their recipes and how they served theirs. As for me, I used a recipe I found at but modified it slightly to cut down on the sodium and sugar. Not much of a salt fan, not only for health reasons but I really prefer to actually taste the flavors of the food I am serving.

I got them from Big Rick at If you are local, drop by on Saturdays when he has the grill set up and is passing out samples. Rick has everything you may need for any type of cookout, dinner or event. He also has gator, sausages of all types (wild and domestic meats), seasonings, gumbo fixings and, of course, your high quality pork, grassfed beef, poultry and seafood.

Thanksgiving side dishes were plain kale steamed in chicken broth, poached pears with parsnips, cornbread dressing, old fashioned (civil war era) jelly cake and gravy.

NOTES: for some reason several sites listed pheasants as mostly dark meat. My bird had the same amount of white breast meat as a regular turkey or chicken. The same with the dark portions.

Our bird was raised on a vegetarian/non-hormone diet therefore it was not wild. It was tastier than a regular chicken and what some term as "an improvement on turkey".

If you are counting calories to the point where you have to be mindful even of holiday meals then this is not a good recipe for that. And even though there is no salt added for roasting, the brine has 1/4 cup of salt. Please be aware if sodium intake is a concern.

Recipe for Pheasant- the most delicious recipe

8 cups water

1/4 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed 
1 pinch ground cloves
1/2 lemon, juice of 
1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)
1 (4 lb) whole pheasants
2 tablespoons butter
6 slices of natural processed bacon (optional) 

Heat together the water and salt until salt is dissolved, then allow to cool to room temperature for about a half hour.

Add the sugar, syrup, onions, garlic, cloves, and lemon and cayenne pepper (if using).
Add pheasant, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the brine until the sediment can be spooned off top. Boil more to make sure it contains not uncooked sediments. Use this for basting.

Place brined pheasant in a roasting pan breast up and insert a tablespoon of the butter under the breast skin.

Rub the rest of the butter all over the pheasant, then roast uncovered for about 1-1/2 hours; check after an hour, though. Since my bird was larger than the original recipe it took around two hours to cook fully.

Baste frequently!

And if you like, to keep the breast meat moist, you can cover it with bacon strips as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Non-Dairy Protein Drink for After Weight Training

quiinoa milk
Suzie's Quinoa Milk

In a way, I guess I am a pain addict because hurting after a workout never deters me from exercising the next day. But since I am intermittently on my own without a trainer I do a lot of research to make sure I am doing things right. I found out there are things you can do to cut down on the soreness that make your muscles heal faster.

It is strongly recommended to have protein at least an hour before and within 30 minutes after training.  Getting your protein solely from shakes does not complete daily requirements but it does get you to optimum, especially if your diet is right.

Some answers:

What happens if I don't get all the protein I need? Will my muscles shrink?

Absolutely not. If you're eating an appropriate amount of protein in general, an occasional low-protein day will not affect muscle growth. The only reasons muscles would get smaller are from lack of use, injury, or severe calorie restriction. - See more at:

Is there any benefit to getting protein from bars or shakes instead of whole foods?

No. Shakes and protein bars might make it easier to meet your daily protein requirements, but in the end, high-protein foods like meat, eggs, peanut butter, and nuts may actually be more satisfying because they have higher fat content and take longer to digest than shakes or bars. - See more at:

For women:
So, how much protein do you need? The suggested number differs depending on the source. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the standard food guide recommendation for the average individual is set around 46 grams per day for women and 65 grams per day for men.4
Keep in mind, however, that this is the recommendation for the average, semi-sedentary individual. If you're constantly exercising and breaking down lean muscle tissue, your required protein intake needs to increase. Likewise, if you diet and consume fewer calories from carbs and fats, the macros you consume from protein will need to increase.
The essential form of protein in shakes is whey. Whey is a dairy product and that is bad for those who lactose intolerant. There is no way to make it work for us.

About a year ago I discovered non-dairy milks... almond, oatmeal, hemp, sunflower seed. Last week I found some quinoa milk and that was the essential component for me. Quinoa is the king/queen of protein. 

When buying milk alternatives the best ones contain no carrageenan, no GMO products, is unsweetened, unflavored and has little processing. Of course, you can always make your own but that is another post. Above is one brand that is ideal but there are many others.


  • 1 cup Quinoa Milk (46 calories/2 g protein)
  • 1 large egg (70 calories/12 g protein)
  • 1 large banana (105 calories/1.3 protein)


  • Keep fully ripened bananas handy in the freezer. They add sweetness and will chill your shake.
  • Add any fruit or vegetable you think will work for you.
  • Add fresh turmeric. It has benefits for the heart, digestion and is high in antioxidants. In order for it to work properly always add some black pepper to whatever dish where it is used. Even your shake.
  • Try different milks but be mindful that some are higher in carbs than others.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sweet Red Bell Pepper Jelly (Not spicy)

Red Pepper Jelly c/a common street peddler 2014

Canning and jelly making used to be a very big event at my house. My mom would search farmers' markets, travel miles out to their farms and/or place orders at local markets for fruits and vegetables. The largest project was putting up the okra, onions, bell peppers and tomatoes as the base for her famous gumbo. 

Since the last jar of it was eaten a few years back I began to make it fresh and only when I needed it. But it wasn't the same for some reason. So, this year I put in the extra effort and made about 15 quarts. But that is a recipe for another posting.

Since then, I've canned a few jellies, fruits and pickles. And, just no ordinary recipes would do since it is easy to purchase those organic products locally. I looked for things that were, at least to me, different in combining tastes, textures and aesthetics.

Today, I am posting a recipe for Red Bell Pepper Jelly. It contains no pectin but is made with Agar Agar instead. From now on, all my jellies and recipes which call for pectin will be made with the seaweed product. Don't worry it's tasteless and very simple to use. 

The brand that is recommended is Eden Sea Vegetable Flakes that is sold at Vitacost (incliuded in the link). Here is why Eden is recommended... Briefly, it is non-GMO/GEO.

Sweet Red Pepper Jelly (Non spicy)

  • 4 large red bell peppers (Organic)
  • 2/3 cup Bragg's cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon clarified butter (organic)
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt (salt with iodine is not recommended)
  • 3 1/3 cups pure cane sugar
  • water to bring mixture to 4 cups after cooking
  • 4 tablespoons Eden Agar Agar Sea Vegetable Flakes
  • 4 half pint jelly jars (8 oz size)
  • 4 rings
  • 4 lids
  • Canner for water bath

Heat some water in canner and leave it on the lowest heat level.

Wash jars and lids/rings either by hand or in dishwasher. Remove jars from drain or dishwasher. Set them in canner by putting enough water in each to make them stand upright. Turn heat off under post with water. Take some of the hot water and put into a smaller pot. Add rings and lids to smaller pot and set aside. Do not boil.

Wash, core, seed  and remove veins from bell peppers. Cut into 2 inch chunks and pulse in food processor until chopped finely.

Put peppers in a large pot with remaining ingredients. (NOTE: if you will be cooking using a candy thermometer make sure the pot is not really deep. The heat will be too intense to hold your hand over it long enough to check the temperature).

Add the rest of the ingredients except for the water and agar agar.

Bring mixture to a boil and continue cooking for 20 minutes. Remove the mixture from heat and measure in a heat proof measuring cup. Add enough water to bring it to 4 cups. Return jelly/water mixture to the pot. 

Add the 4 tablespoons of Agar Agar and bring mixture to  a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring, until Agar Agar is dissolved. Turn off heat.

Remove jars from water. Drain and dry them. Fill with the hot jelly mixture and leave 1/4 inch of head space. 

Remove lids and rings from pot and dry with paper towel. Place lids on jars and then screw on rings.

Secure each and set jars of jelly into larger pot with the hot water. jars should be covered by at least an inch of water. Bring water to a boil and do a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes turn heat off, remove jars and set on clean dish towel. Let them cool. You will hear the lids "ping" as they seal themselves. Safely sealed jars have lids that do not pop back up when the center is pressed.

If you want your bits of pepper in the jelly to remain evenly distributed, turn the jars upside after about an hour. Leave them that way until they are near room temperature. If the jelly does not return to the bottom of the jar after they are returned to the upright position, don't worry. It will when you open the jar to use it. But if, for aesthetics, you want to avoid that just make sure you return them to standing right side up before the jelly sets.

Agar Agar has fantastic gel properties. Once you try it you will probably like it a lot.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Banana Almond Protein Smoothie for Muscle Support

banana almond smoothie from
Banana Almond Smoothie
This is so yummy I can't believe I am supposed to drink it!

Further research shows consuming protein supports muscle development and recovery time from workouts (  drink shake just after an exercise. This will help to provide your body with the protein that it needs to build and strengthen muscles. This extra protein will also help to repair any of the microscopic tears inside muscles. By helping to repair the muscles much quicker than normally, you will be able to reduce the recovery time and build muscles much faster. 
  • For optimal results consume 10-20 grams of protein after workouts
  • Do not use almond milk that contains carrageenan 
  • Use unsweetened almond milk
  • Use all organic ingredients
Although the site is promoting a brand of protein supplement you can make your own. Especially if you are lactose intolerant. Whey, the main ingredient in most commercial protein supplements, is derived from dairy.

I choose almond milk because it is the highest in protein. You can use whatever milk alternative suits you but I suggest staying away from soy. There are unbelievable problems consuming soy let alone 93% of it is genetically engineered to contain it's own pesticide. There is no need to use it.

And be aware that it is not be used as a meal replacement. On a 2000 calorie daily meal plan, there is still room for nearly 1600 calories which can easily include a snack or two... I am on a 1700 daily total and struggle to find enough food to meet that so I've started eating larger breakfasts.

Organic Protein Smoothie (447 Calories)
  • 1/2 C Zico Coconut water (0 protein)
  • 1 C Fresh and Easy Almond Milk (1g protein)
  • 2 Bananas (2.6 g protein)
  • 1 large Egg (6 g protein)
  • 1/4 C Organic Oats (7 g protein)
For added interest you can add ground flax seed, dried and unsweetened coconut or other fruits. Just be aware that the calorie count goes up so at least choose something that adds more protein.

Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A New Outlook On Nutrition and My Inspirations For It

Mrs. Ernestine Shepard- World's Oldest Body Builder at 77.
My life took on a new direction in 2012. While staying with friends, two of us decided to go for a walk. Going downhill was no problem but half way on the return, my legs would not move. I wasn't out of breath either. I actually could not get my legs to go forward.

It was something I had to think about once I was back home. If I walked as much as I could and did the Leslie Sansone Walk At Home workouts, why did that happen to me? Not only that, I found I could no longer squat, get into the child's pose and had absolutely no hops!

One day I poking through some sweatshirts at Costco and I saw my favorite trainer so I asked him. It was simple, I had lost muscle tone in my legs. So, without hesitation I signed up for a three month stint at his gym and that is where the miracles began.

Briefly, I started weight training and at the end of each session we had to run around the block three times before we could leave. In the beginning, I could not take 10 steps without breathing heavily. I set goals for myself by choosing markers that got farther and farther away until I was able to go completely around without stopping.

By the end of the three months, I was able to run a mile without stopping. That is when I fell in love with jogging. But to be honest, I fell in love with working out period. It was now clear to me what my friends were gaining by including gym sessions and running in their daily lives. It is at this point I will say thank you to:

  • Ernestine Pratt (One of my fab besties who works out at a gym regularly)
  • Evelyn Vandiegriff (Ev does boot camp, rowing, vibration, treadmill. Between her and Estina, the value of their activities help me tremendously)
  • Verniel Monk (I saw Vee run one day and 10-year-olds couldn't catch her!)
  • Jacqui Venters (Mind, body and spirit are in fabulous condition)
  • Bernice Strickland (Walking at the beach in the early mornings and then going back to her house to raid her fridge jump started my walking career)
  • Johnnie Strickland (Bernice and I hated on Johnnie a lot during our walks because Johnnie weighed about two pounds total)
  • Chuckie Miller (My fave trainer who probably regrets taking down the "No Whining" sign at the gym, lol.)
  • David Byrd (My cousin who never quit doing his morning track and stair runs)
  • Netra Michelle Brown (Has always has been a dynamo of energy)
  • Ernestine Shepard, the grand diva of workouts pictured in the photo above. Mrs. Shepard didn't start working out until she was 56. This is how much I love her way of life... James Brown and Miles Davis are absolutely my two favorite performers. You can play Prisoner of Love and So What all day every day and I will want to hear them again at night. That is how much I admire Mrs. Shepard.

My body does not look like hers but my spirit is telling me to go for it. I am now up to 4 miles and last night I did the run in 53 minutes. Push-ups are no longer scary and neither are planks. Weight loss is 35 pounds. I had to buy new dumbbells because I can lift heavier now.

All of the above was the introduction to the changes to this blog, We, meaning me, no longer promote/use/eat anything made with certain ingredients. We still love down home cooking but it is healthier than ever. We also eat organic the majority of the time but if that option is not available we choose traditionally grown and make sure we wash it thoroughly before consuming. We do not do Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

So from now on, assume that recipes listed here are promoting organic foods. If it contains carrageenan, canola oil, vegetable oil, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and are full of chemicals none of the recipes here use them. We will say exactly which ingredient to use.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Delicious No-Fat Chicken

I love this chicken because it requires very little to make and it is diet friendly without having to think about it. Loads of flavor, no fat, little effort.


  • Any amount of chicken (except breasts)
  • 1/2 onion, washed and sliced
  • 1/2 bell pepper (red or green but the red is prettier), washed and sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, washed and smashed
  • Lawry's Seasoning Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Pan coating
  • Boiling water
  • Oven to stovetop safe pan or skillet

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Put water in tea kettle or pot and let it come to a boil. When it does, turn the fire down so that it simmers while you are preparing the chicken.
  • Wash chicken and pat dry. In a bowl, sprinkle with the seasoning salt and pepper.
  • Coat your pan with non stick. I make my own but Pam is fine.
  • Arrange chicken so that there is only one layer in the pan. Set pan in oven and let chicken brown.
  • When it is browned, set pan on top of stove. Put the vegetables on top and add enough boiling water to cover the chicken. Let it cook until less than 1/4 inch of liquid is left in the pan. You do not have to cover but can if you want.
  • The trick to this dish is the amount of liquid left in the pan. First, don't over salt your chicken. The lower the liquid gets, the more intense the flavor and too much salt will ruin it. Second, don't try to make this a gravy. It is supposed to be like a reduced sauce, kind of thick. And... it looks great on the plate, especially served with rice or mashed potatoes. I use Fresh and Easy Instant Brown Rice which isn't so instant, it just cooks faster.
  • When serving, just spoon a little of the sauce onto the chicken, rice or potatoes.