Blackthumb

Such a beautiful weekend. We were outside as much as possible, just soaking in the fresh air. I did a very small bit of yardwork, but found my interest waning rather quickly. My yard isn’t very inspiring. We’d like to plant a garden this year. Something we can feast off of through the summer. Suggestions welcome. Just a note, though: I have blackthumb and plants tend to wither under my care. Even mint, which is supposed to just “overwhelm your yard/garden” has succumbed to the murderous touch of my hand. My pride and glory is chives. For some reason I didn’t kill my chives and they come back every year. I use them, too. They’re a yummy addition to an omelette. Mmm.

Frank planted some garlic last fall; hoping those sprout up. I’d like to grow some tomatoes, maybe some lettuce and peppers. Pumpkins would be cool. Maybe beans? I need a Gardening for Blackthumbs book. Sigh. I so very much love veggies and the idea of growing some delicious foods right in our backyard. Everything is getting so expensive; especially good fruits and vegetables.

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A recipe worth trying:

Ol’ Settler’s Beans
(from Large Family Logistics)

Brown together and drain the fat off:
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. chopped bacon
1 onion

Add:
1/2 c catsup
1/2 c honey
1/2 c BBQ sauce
3 t dry mustard
1/2 t chili powder
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
4 quarts of cooked beans (red, butter, navy, pinto, black, etc.)

Bake at 350 for 1 hour or in crockpot on low for 4 hours.

Looks simple and would be right up my families ally. Mmm.

Delicious Cornbread

I’ve been on a quest for some delicious cornbread for… well, years. Today’s dinner menu was chili and cornbread (home made). I bought some stone ground cornmeal for the cornbread (my husband said it was Hodgson’s, but I don’t see it on their site), and thought I’d try one of the recipes on the back. I found this one for Old Fashioned Cornbread, but got a bit scared since the recipe called only for the cornmeal and NO flour. I guess I wasn’t ready for old fashioned just yet. Instead I fell back on my ol’ reliable Aunt Jemima Cornbread recipe.

Golden Cornbread

    * 1 cup Quaker or Aunt Jemima Enriched Yellow Corn Meal
    * 1 cup all-purpose flour (I use whole wheat flour)
    * 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar
    * 4 teaspoons baking powder
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 1 cup milk
    * 1 egg
    * 1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. In large bowl, combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
3. Add milk, egg and oil. Beat until fairly smooth, about 1 minute.
4. Bake in greased or sprayed 8-inch square baking pan 20 to 23 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Yield: About 9 servings

I double this puppy and put it in a hot skillet (oven warmed with some shortening melted and smeared all over the inside). It’s good and the family likes it. But it is crumbly and chunks off when I butter it. Frank and I got to talking, as he thinks the cornbread is very delicious. He said my idea of cornbread is the cake-like corn cakes purchased from Whole Foods and certain restaurants in town. That those kinds of corn breads is not authentic cornbread. Which made sense to me and calmed my feelings of cornbread failure. I’m not sure if he is correct or not about “authentic” cornbread. And I still like the moist, sticky corn…cake, the way it breaks off in a dense chunk of sweet bread. I’ve yet to master that recipe, though.

Tater Tot Casserole

What do you do with a bag of ‘Tots? Why casserole, of coarse.

I had some ground beef, browned, bagged and frozen. Tater Tots. Hmm. My family loves casseroles. Here’s what I did (didn’t measure).

Sauteed about a cup of onion in some butter/olive oil, added about 1T. of chopped garlic to the mix. Sprinkled about 1/4 cup of flour on top, then added 5 cups of milk, slowly, while stirring the whole time. Heat and stir, added a few shakes of Tabasco, some salt and pepper. Heat until thick and bubbly, stir in about 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. Turn off heat and stir until melted. Mix in the ground beef.

In large baking dish empty 1 bag of frozen mixed veggies to cover bottom of dish. Oh, I sprayed the dish with some non-stick spray before I did this. I digress, back to the veggies, sprinkle some salt and pepper on them, and a handful of shredded cheddar cheese. Pour cheesy beefy mixture on top. Take your bag of frozen Tater Tots and spread them evenly over the top of the dish. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes, take it out and top with a cup of cheese (I sprinkled some garlic on top) then return to oven until tots are browned and it is bubbly. Serve with a simple salad. Yum.

Everyone loved it. You can add in some other veggies, too, if you have them. We ate it for a late lunch and then the kids heated more up for a snack later on. I had one kid who claimed he wouldn’t like it and ended up eating those words.