Farmers Market Time, Baby!!!

 

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One of the greatest joys in the universe is going out early in the morning and picking fresh vegetables out of the garden. There is just such a sense of pride that goes along with growing your own food. Country people have been doing this since, well, the beginning of time. Heck, if Eve would have behaved herself, we all could be enjoying garden living. But alas, she didn’t.   Nowadays people go to local farmers markets and even their local supermarkets to purchase their vegetables. During the summer months these places explode with visitors and customers who are in search of that perfect vegetable. So, what’s available this time of year around the South?

 

  • Sweet Corn– Local farmers in my small town have a yearly wager on who can produce the sweetest corn. People actually discuss it at the corner gas station and post office. Honestly, I think that sweet corn is why butter and salt were invented.

maize cob on old wooden background

  • Tomatoes–   My grandmother used to eat tomatoes with all her summer meals. She would put them with grits in the morning, bacon and lettuce at noon, and with rice, butter beans, squash, and whatever else was on the menu for supper.

 Tomato plant

  • Squash-  I love yellow squash. As a kid, I would only eat them fried. (which I must admit is still my favorite) However, as I grew older, so did my taste buds. Squash is great in a stir-fry with Vidalia onions and bacon.

Yellow Courgette Plant

  • Cucumbers- Cucumbers are great by themselves, or they can be eaten in a little cucumber, tomato, and onion salad. People around my house love them with just salt and pepper or vinaigrette.

Tasty green cucumbers on sackcloth background

  • String beans- I swear that string beans make me smile, fresh ones that is. My grandma taught me to take the string out with a peeler. It makes a difference, I am not joking. If you want floss, get a piece of floss out of the bathroom. It is not supposed to come with beans on your plate.

 the fresh green beans in bowl

  • Green PEANUTS- yeah, I know I am pecan girl, but I can ‘t help it. I love boiled peanuts. In fact, they are my supper at least one of two nights a week during their season. My kids think I am nuts! Unfortunately, I am a salt freak, and I am sure that has something to do with it. Anyway, eat up on the red skins now because larger white skins will be here very soon.
South Carolina Peanuts

South Carolina Peanuts

 

Okay, don’t waste a minute of your summer. It is not only the most laid back time of the year, it is also the best time to eat fresh vegetables. Get thou to the Farmers Market!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pecans + You = Healthy Eating

Let’s face it.  People once thought that pecans and healthy eating had about as much in common as Queen Elizabeth of England and Honey Boo Boo.  However, that is a huge misconception.  Pecans are not only delicious, but they are also good for you.  If you want to look at all the “science stuff” that breaks it down for you, go to http://www.goldenkernel.com or http://www.ilovepecans.com You will find all the facts you need to persuade you that pecans are actually a great part of any diet.

So, you want a recipe?  Of course, you do.  After you try it, let me know what you think.

Spinach, Strawberry, and Pecan Salad

1 lb of fresh washed and dried spinach
1 pint of washed and halved strawberries
1/2 cup of hot toasted pecan halves ( Lightly toast on greased baking pan in 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes.)

Dressing:
1/3 cup raspberry vinegar
1 teaspoon of dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons of poppy seeds

Combine the dressing ingredients Except the poppy seeds in a blender.
Add the poppy seeds by hand. Toss dressing with spinach, strawberries, and hot
toasted pecans. The hot nuts will slightly wilt the greens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Places Every Southern Girl Should Travel -at Least Once

      There is nothing quite like home sweet home.  While Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz clicked her ruby slippers to make her way back to Kansas, this Southern girl clicks her wide variety of flats, boots, or sandals (depending on the season)  to find my way back home.  My home is my refuge, and it is one of my favorite places to be. However, I believe that every Southern girl should travel to these five beautiful and different destinations at least once in their lifetime. 

     When I was about twelve, my parents loaded up our RV with my two sisters and me, and we took off to tame the wild, wild West.  We took in a lot of our beautiful country that summer; but one place we visited, the Grand Canyon, left an impression on this country girl that I will remember forever.  I was young, but when I saw that beautiful canyon carved out by the Colorado River, I believe I had some sort of a religious experience.  I have travelled back to this National Park two more times since, and I still have that feeling wash over me.  The only thing better than the first two times I went was my third trip I got to watch my own kid’s expressions as they viewed this marvel. This place should be on your DON’T miss list.

     Our next mandatory place of travel is New York City.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  I know that one may feel like a fish out of water, but this big city is something else.  When you are there visiting, please don’t pass up the opportunity to go to The Empire State Building. I felt like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle.  Also, it is imperative that you take the boat over to the Statue of Liberty.  I realize that she was a gift from France and that may offend some, but I have always believed this Lady Liberty to be somewhat of a Southern girl.  She stands tall, represents freedom and truth, and makes people feel welcome when they arrive.  Doesn’t that sound an awful lot like your Southern grandmothers? 

     I may get laughed at for my next pick, but I think it is a wonderful, confusing adventure everyone should take, Paris, France.  It was great in Paris, as long as I didn’t have to open my mouth to speak.  I am an educated country girl, but as soon as I would say, “je ne parle pas francais,” grand laughter would erupt.  Let’s face it, you can take the country girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country accent out of the girl. I would have it no other way, but it was a challenge.  Thankfully now, you can just goggle voice search, and it will show someone what question you may need answered.  I just think that being able to eyeball the Eiffel Tower, walk down the streets lite in pink, and take a boat ride on the River Seine are just awesome experiences.

     Next, I am going to travel closer to my South Carolina home.  The South is packed with beautiful, interesting cities that people should explore.  One such city is Memphis, Tennessee.  Please, splurge a little, and stay at The Peabody. As my grandmother would say, “If you do something, do it right.”  It is beautiful and friendly.  I think that their iconic “duck parade” is a site, and I was fascinated at the people who would come to watch them.  If you are anywhere in the neighborhood, you need to go to Graceland while there whether you are an Elvis fan or not.  Fascinating, truly, fascinating.  I loved the fact that from the parlor of the home to the cars and Lisa Marie airplane, there are no fat pictures of Elvis.  I thought that was quite a trick, and I am saying this with envy in my heart.

         Lastly, I am going to end with one of America’s treasures, Old Faithful, in Yellowstone National Park in Teton County, Wyoming.  Yellowstone National Park is a beauty in her own right.  However, Old Faithful is like a fireworks show on the Fourth of July.  It just seals the moment.  Now, you will have to exercise patience.  This natural wonder only likes to show herself every forty- five minutes or so, but she is as predictable as watermelon and boiled peanuts in summertime.  And, like those afore mentioned summertime staples, she never disappoints. 

     So, pack your bags with only what you need (yeah, right), and visit one of these magnificent places.  Please, soak all of it in while you are there enjoying every moment, but remember, home is only a click or two away.  And, this country girl must always return to her little slice of heaven- HOME.

Hello, Dolly

 

  Stand back ladies and gentlemen and spread out the purple carpet, the Queen of Country Music, Dolly Parton, has made her way to the Today Show.  It was epic.  With a smile as big as her………. hairdo (I bet you thought I was going to say something else.) Dolly strut her stuff live at Rockefeller Center.  The Tennessee native performed some of her old favorites and introduced a new single,” Blue Smoke.”  Of course this song told the tale of love gone wrong. This is Dolly’s latest album which happens to be her forty-seventh.

     This lady has done it all and been very successful doing it.  She is an actress, author, owns an amusement park, has a rockin’ place down in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and oh yeah, she sings.  And boy, does she sing.  To borrow a phrase from another country legend, Barbara Mandrell, Dolly “was country, when country wasn’t cool.”  Can you even allow your imagination to go there? No, don’t even try to wrap your head around it.  It’s tragic, and a very dark period in our country and music.  Let’s move on.

     I have been a big fan of Dolly’s for a long time.  She is just a great gal, and I am proud that she is a Southern, country girl from the farmlands of Tennessee.  Her daddy was a tobacco farmer, and there were twelve children in her family. And, we thought the Duggars with their 19 Kids and Counting were the only ones who pushed that envelope. Dolly married in 1966, and she and her husband are still together. How awesome is that! She told Savannah Guthrie that the secret to their successful marriage was that “she was gone a lot.”  There is nothing better than a girl who shots straight.

     So, I hope you did what you had to do- Told your boss that you were more than likely going to be sick the morning of May 13th or channeled your best Forrest Gump and climbed those Smokey Mountains, swam the Atlantic Ocean, or hiked from California to New York.  If those options didn’t work, you could have been like me and set your DVR for the Today Show. That lady was certainly worth the wait.

Hurry up and wait!

Well, the pecan season has come and gone, and it is only February.  That means until November 01,2014, I have to sit at my desk and wait for the new pecan crop to drop.  It can certainly make for some boring “it is just 9:30AM” days around Golden Kernel Pecan Company.

For me, it now gives me time to focus on a class I am taking.  The South Carolina State Department of Education offers through The College of Charleston’s graduate school classes for those of us with SC teaching certifications an opportunity to take classes toward an online certification.  This is a grand opportunity for me.  I have been out of the classroom for nearly ten years, and I have to admit that I miss it more than I ever thought possible.  Granted, I do not miss the bureaucracy of it all, but I do miss my kids and my teaching friends.

A teaching career did not pick me like it does so many in the profession.  I did not dream of growing up and becoming a teacher.  It was something that I decided to do for a little while, and I had very rewarding experiences for the most part.  I mean, let’s get real.  There are some kids out there who are just plain mean and try to bully not only other kids, but adults, as well.  However, you get that in all professions.  The stories I could tell about being responsible for customer service here at Golden Kernel. What I miss the most about teaching is the dialogue with students and being able to share ideas that they nor I may never have thought about before now.  The little nuggets of gold I would receive while grading papers written by my students is what I am lacking in my professional life.

So, with the pecan season over, I will use this time to learn all I can about “blended” education.  Oh, the possibilities of it all are endless.

Just like in the movies, the classics are always best……

We all have heard the expression, “American as apple pie.”  Well, where I come from you are as American as a pecan pie on Thanksgiving day.  Yes, you heard me, pecan pie.  Pecans might very well have been present at the very first Thanksgiving feast.  After all, the word pecan is a Native American word meaning, “a nut needing a stone to crack.”  Well, let’s get to cracking some nuts, so we can make us an American classic,  a pecan pie.

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The Recipe

  •  1 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups pecans- halves or chopped ( we use large pieces in our pies)
  • 2 – 9″ deep dish pie shells

The Directions

Boil for 3 minutes the sugar, syrup, butter, and salt.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla to sugar mixture.  Mix well.  Put the pecans in the pie shells.  Distribute evenly. Make sure you have no gaps, if you do, put pecans in them.  Pour mixture into two 9″ deep dish pie shells on top of pecans.  Pecans will float to the top.  (This method helps in two ways.  The first is it makes your pies not as messy.  The second is that it helps cut down on the pecans burning on top.)

The Baking

Bake these pies in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to one hour depending on oven.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

The Results

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              Pecan pies fresh out of the oven.