Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Blogger: Paul Elliott, The Collard Patch, The Story of the Collard Greens Cookbook

If you think you don’t like collards, you haven’t tasted our collards.

The Collard Patchstory cookbook began life in Sister Ruth’s Laurel, Mississippi, collard patch. She invited us to pick a mess of collards, and did we pick a mess! We even made a mess. After the first big black plastic bag full, Mary said, “Paul, what are we going to do with all these collards?”

With a cavalier toss of his head, Paul said, “We’re going to fix them and eat 'em.” Of course, Paul wasn’t even sure he liked collards, didn’t know what they tasted like. Four big plastic bags of collards later, the cleaning and chopping process saw dawn’s early light. What a J-O-B!

Now reduced to many freezer bags of chopped collards and much needed sleep, the challenge of what to do with them remained. Fifteen thousand messes of collard greens with salt pork somehow overwhelmed our interest in healthy eating.

When an online search for a cookbook devoted to collard greens was fruitless, searches for individual recipes showed very little diversity or imagination. Mary went to work thinking of unusual ways to cook with collards. Paul signed up as a certified eater.

It was quickly obvious that the files were the beginning of a fine cookbook devoted solely to collard greens and cornbread. Research revealed the amazing nutritional value of collard greens – better than spinach, turnip greens, and mustard greens. (For more details look in The Collard Patch.)

Mary’s creativity soon yielded delicious recipes from appetizers to desserts. Yes, desserts! Collard greens make chocolate taste better. Did you ever realize you can eat your chocolate and get your greens? Other than eating Mary’s creations, Paul created stories of growing up in collard country – tales of his misspent youth.

It seems that a second edition may be on the horizon and we have some inventory to clear. Grab your copies for gifts at an unbelievably low price. Stock up for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, and wedding gifts.

At $23.97 it was a cookbook bestseller on Amazon.com. This offer we’re making now on Amazon is good only while the supplies last. Maybe the price is too low. Go here to learn more.

Guest Blogger: Paula Taylor. Family Gardening Legacy, Traveling Bulbs

Paula Taylor lives in Amarillo. She is in the process of writing her first novel, which reveals her sensitivity as she delves deeply into her characters' motivations. She has a unique talent for turning a phrase.

Because I enjoyed her comments about bulbs, I want to share this article with you. Thanks, Paula.

My dad's mother was an avid gardener. She could grow anything...my dad can too! Anyway, my grandmother followed the habits of most women from her era and moved plants and bulbs with her whenever she moved. I can only imagine the arguments that caused with their spouses!

She came from Iowa to Missouri. Then to Oklahoma, next Texas, back to Oklahoma, Arkansas, Oklahoma, then Arkansas again before finally staying In Oklahoma in her later years. She moved plants everywhere she went as the story goes.

I always loved helping her in her garden. One of my favorite plants was a pink lily she called a “Surprise Lily” or a “Naked Lady Lily”. It was unique because it sent up foliage in the spring, died back to nothing, and then in late summer sent up a single stalk where a cluster of gorgeous pink lilies bloomed.

My dad has many of Gram’s bulbs and has shared this particular one with me. Being the “Greedy Gus” that I am, I wanted more. I found that these bulbs are almost antique and very difficult to find. Ultimately I located a company called “OLD HOUSE GARDENS” which salvages old bulbs from places and then cultivates them for stock to sell.

If you like flowers, a copy of their catalogue is a must. The pictures and descriptions are fabulous. I now have more bulbs planted in my yard and am dreaming of ways to use more of these beautiful old plants in the future.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Christmas Special, Flavored with Love at a Ridiculously Low Price

Something nice for Christmas for Less than Five Dollars

Many readers and cooks have delighted in Flavored with Love, my story cookbook. My sister in Laurel, Mississippi, sold almost 2,000 of the first and second editions. When Paul Elliott and I wrote The Collard Patch, I revised Flavored with Love a third time. It has sold constantly on Amazon for $22.97. Not long ago I reduced the price of Flavored with Love to $15.00. Just in time for Christmas I have reduced it to $4.95, a price so low I'm losing money; but I want you to have this book to enjoy. It would make an excellent Christmas gift. Right now there are only three available on Amazon, but more will be on the way soon. When I wrote this, I used the pen name Jane Riley, my imaginary cousin. She tells about the cooks in my family -- the way they act, what they cook for holiday meals and for every day good eating.

You'll be surprised that it is a big cookbook in big print.

Product Description:
Flavored with Love, Mary Lou's Family and Friends Can Cook, Third Edition, is a wonderful story cookbook. Experience the recipes for some of the most delicious food you'll ever put in your mouth. Delight in the intimate glimpses into the lives of some precious, colorful people! Take a culinary trip through the South from Texas to the Carolinas, while you plan to spend most of your time in south Louisiana and Mississippi. Imagine the delightful aromas wafting through your house as you enjoy the heart warming stories. Flavored with Love introduces you to a beautiful blending of flavors in a cookbook packed with more than 300 favorite nostalgic recipes in big print. Enjoy the personalities related to the recipes. Learn secrets from the kitchens of some of Louisiana's favorite restaurants. Collect some hard to find south Louisiana recipes. Learn about the simple recipes that have won cooking contests. Have fun with food and cooking facts. You don't have to be a cook to enjoy Flavored with Love.

What Friends Say about Flavored with Love:
I have been browsing through Mary Cheatham's cookbook Flavored With Love for some time now, and have found it growing on me the more I dip into it. I started out skimming through it just reading the fascinating recipes. But after a while I noticed that the little stories around the recipes were not just filler, but fascinating in their own right. These stories are wonderful little snippets of Southern life starring Mary's family and friends from times gone by, evocations of an era when the pleasures of life were simpler and available to all, rich or poor. Buy it! Read it cover to cover. I particularly liked the story where little 4 year old Mary Lou caught the biggest Bream that had ever been caught and what happened to the Bream the next day. This story was, of course, followed by a recipe for Fried Bream. I live in Western Australia, on the opposite side of the world to Mary, and we don't get much in the way of Southern food out here (apart from Col. Sanders)... But Mary's recipes are so interesting, dripping as they do with the flavours of the South, and I certainly intend to introduce some of them to my family. I highly recommend Mary's cookbook, not just for her incredible recipes, but also for her personal introduction to her family and other interesting people via her warm and memorable stories. --Lex Edmonds, Perth, Western Australia

I own several cookbooks, and this is the only one I would suggest reading cover to cover. In real life I am an auto mechanic, and I have to use exact measures and specifications. I love to cook and not worry if everything is the same as last time. Mary's recipes can all be added to or changed just enough to make them your own, but her humorous way of preparing to cook a pan fish by first catching the fish, or the warning at the end of one recipe about beating your brains out with your tongue, these will only be found in a cookbook written by someone who cares about real people. Some of the best cooking I have done was at the expense of a healthy dish. I love cholesterol, fat, and salt. I am a Louisiana state certified food handler and probably the only mechanic to hold that license. The other day Mary came into my shop and told me that her radio, steering, and electric windows all quit working when she put her car in reverse. Most people would have doubted her, but knowing Mary, and some of the things she has done I started working on her car. I owe my job to a killer pecan pie, and hope to get a raise with this new book. May the Lord bless you and keep you, Mary. --Walker Gay, Choudrant, Louisiana

Mary Lou, thanks for a great cookbook. You share so many downhome real family recipes that it's often hard to decide what to fix next. The little stories you add all bring a smile to my face. You sure can cook. --Willie Crawford, Renowned Internet Marketer, Navarre, FL,

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cornbread Salad

We Southerners love our cornbread. For the Simsboro First Baptist Church Thanksgiving meal, I made Cornbread Salad, an unusual dish that has become popular on the salad bars of all-you-can-eat seafood and catfish restaurants. If you like the tastes of raw vegetables, bacon, mayonnaise, pickles and cornbread, you will be unable to stop with one bowl of this unique salad.

Cornbread salad is featured in Flavored with Love by Jane Riley (my penname). My sister Ruth Ishee contributed it to the cookbook. She said I should take a big bowl of cornbread salad to the party. She was right. Several people wanted the recipe.

She suggested I dress it up by adding something. I made four batches and added one pound of frozen whole kernel corn (uncooked). Instead of four green bell peppers, I used two green bell peppers and two orange bell peppers.

Cornbread Salad

1 box (8½ ounces) corn muffin mix
1 egg
⅓ cup milk
4 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 medium green bell pepper chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup sweet pickles, chopped
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup light mayonnaise
¼ cup sweet pickle juice

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a 6-cup muffin tin. Blend the first 3 ingredients. Let the batter rest 4 minutes. Pour the batter into the muffin cups and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow it to cool, and crumble it.

Combine tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, pickles, and bacon. Toss gently. Combine mayonnaise and pickle juice. Mix the mayonnaise mixture with the vegetables. Arrange the vegetable mixture and cornbread mixture in layers in a large glass bowl. Cover and chill 2 hours. Toss lightly before serving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mom’s Dressing, Our Family's Favorite Thanksgiving Recipe

Mom’s Dressing

My mother-in-law, Mary Cheatham, cooked this traditional family recipe. (Because her name was Mary and for a few more reasons, I have reverted to the name Mary Lou Cheatham to avoid confusion, although most of my friends except the ones in Taylorsville and on Facebook, call me Mary.)

Fanny, a precious friend in Peru, is a missionary and the wife of a missionary from Louisiana. She is planning to cook a USA Thanksgiving dinner and needs help. I am posting this recipe for her and for you if you’d like to try some of the best traditional cornbread dressing I’ve ever eaten.

2 batches cornbread prepared according to the instructions on the mix (Mom uses Martha White buttermilk mix; we use Jiffy®.)
½ - ⅔ large loaf white sandwich bread
6 large onions
1 bunch of celery less 2 stalks
½ bunch parsley
1½ teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon sage
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
Salt to taste
5 large eggs
Hot water or chicken broth (depending on the use of the dressing.)
Cooking oil

In a huge pan crumble the cornbread; tear the white bread into small pieces.

Sauté the celery and onions in oil but do not allow them to brown. Cut the long stems off the parsley and tear the parsley into small pieces. Stir the vegetables and the seasonings into the breadcrumbs. With vigorous stirring, add the eggs. Continuing to stir, add enough hot water to make a moist dressing. (Alternate directions: if the dressing is to be served as a side dish instead of stuffing, moisten it with chicken broth.)

Cook the dressing in a scant amount of oil in a large electric skillet until it is warm. Adjust the seasonings according to your mood.

Store the dressing in the refrigerator until it is time to stuff the turkey. (If the dressing is to be served as a side dish at a later time, bake it until it is light golden brown on top. Store it in the freezer.)
Having lived in Louisiana for more than half my life, I’ve become addicted to cayenne pepper. This dressing is better if you shake a little cayenne into it. Stir well so one of your guests won’t get a mouth full.
Just a reminder: Stuffing is cooked inside a bird, and dressing is cooked outside of it. My mother-in-law used this recipe to stuff a turkey, and she always had two cake pans of it left over no matter how big her bird was.
One more note: My daughter and I have stopped cooking the dressing in a small amount of oil. (See the last step of the recipe.) Mom did that to avoid food poisoning from stored raw eggs. Instead of frying it again, we mix it just before we bake it. Then there is no danger. I never stuff a bird. Instead I cook it in a separate pan. It’s lighter and lower in calories. Also there’s no danger this way. The problem of food poisoning arises when a bird is stuffed.

This recipe is featured in Flavored with Love, available on Amazon.com