Don't be Afraid

2 Timothy 1:7   (KJV)
For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of sound mind

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

This scripture popped up in my daily Bible Study app.  It seems so appropriate for these COVID19 times, but it made me think much more deeply than that.  I have always had a ‘mouth’ on me.  Sometimes to my own demise, I have said things that I should not have said.  As this scripture says, God didn’t make me timid.  That kind of assertiveness doesn’t give us power, though.  That is, unless we learn how to say those things with love and unless we learn to discipline our outbursts.  I would like to think I have learned those things, but I honestly admit that times come when I spew things that don’t need to be said or certainly need to have been said in a more loving way.

Right now, for example, I want to scream at people that are not following the stay at home rules.  I want to scream at the members of the media who are not substantiating the news they are creating.  At the same time, I want to shout out praise to all the essential workers who continue to go to work, hoping they don’t infect their families when they return home.  I want to shout out praise to the political leaders who have done their best to get ahead of this virus, protecting the American people.

This scripture comes from the writings of Paul to his friend Timothy who is trying to lead a church in Ephesus.  He is telling Timothy, who history tells us was a little bit sickly and timid, to be strong and powerful but loving and kind.  He is encouraging him to use self-control in his actions. Paul says these things many times throughout his writings. Those instructions are intended for us.

My new retirement is settling well with me.  I am no longer in control of anything other than my household, which is made of of me and my dog!  I am, however, in charge of the way I behave, and the eyes of a 13-year-old granddaughter are always on me!  To that end, I will do my best to follow this scripture! 

These are times when words and deeds really do matter.  We need to express support and kindness in every way possible.  I'm enjoying reading posts about people in self-isolation who are still reaching out to neighbors by sitting on their porches and singing together.  My favorite story from yesterday had a picture of a man standing on one balcony, reaching up and feeding a dog who was standing on the balcony above him.  The dog's owner was in the hospital and the dog was alone.  The hearts movement has taken the world, as people are displaying handmade hearts in their windows for all their neighbors to see.    

God didn't make us to be afraid and we need to share that strength with others.

Celery Root is Delicious!

When I write about vintage vegetable recipes, they often come from childhood memories.  My mother, however, never cooked celeriac.  If Daddy had grown celery in the garden, or if my grandfather had grown it in his garden, Mama would have cooked it, but they didn’t care about celery!  Celery at our house was something used for seasoning.  It showed up on the table for holiday meals and was always stuffed with Kraft Pineapple Cheese from that cute little jar!

Actually, celery root comes from a little different variety of celery that might have been commonly grown in home gardens.  I had never cooked celery root until I was experimenting with a totally white soup recipe for a dinner party I was hosting.  I bought my first one then, but I search for them now.  I love celery stalks and I love celery root.

We know that celery is native to the Mediterranean region and to the Middle East.  It is one of the first vegetables to appear in recorded history.  Confucius wrote about it in China in 500 B.C.   Ancient Egyptians used the plant for its seeds, but they also ate the stalks and leaves.  Ancient Greeks used celery for medicine.  Celery is known as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and has antiviral components.  We should eat more celery, but it is not a popular vegetable.  I’ll write a column about celery stalks later.  Today, I’m focusing on the big ugly root!

The root is full of starch and can easily be substituted for potatoes in many recipes.  It adds a little different flavor to mashed potatoes, but the children will never notice!  It is fantastic in soups, added to slaw or added to green salad ingredients.  If somebody offered me a basketful of the ugly root bulbs, I’d gladly take them!  They store well in a cool dry place and can be kept through cool winter months.  Just look at them frequently and make sure the stems don’t start shooting from the tops because they will rot if they get wet and will cause the bulb to rot, too.

In most of my 1950s cookbooks, celeriac recipes are simple.  You peel it, cube it and simmer it in water until it is done.  It is served with salt, pepper and a little butter.  I love it that way, but there are other ways to use it and dress it up a little!  You can use celeriac the same ways you would use a potato.  Boil it with potatoes for mashed potatoes.  Cube it for soups.  Slice it and add to escalloped or au’gratin potatoes.  Use it like you would use cabbage.  Shredded or julienned celery root added to slaw is delicious.  Add it to braised cabbage or sweet and sour cabbage recipes.  It adds a slightly nutty flavor to what is already delicious. 

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes using celery root.  For this batch of au’gratin potatoes with celery root, I simmer the vegetables before I prepare the casserole.  

Slice 4 big potatoes and the celery root.  Simmer the celeriac about ten minutes, then add the potatoes for another ten minutes. Drain and place the vegetables in a casserole dish.  I like to add just a little salt, but I used pepper that has lemon and orange in it.  I like the citrus notes with celeriac.

I make a cheese sauce stovetop and add it to the casserole.   Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter with 1 Tablespoon of bacon grease.  Add 2 Tablespoons of flour and make a roux.  Add 2 cups of milk and let it heat gently until it begins to bubble.  Any kind of cheese works, but a combination of Swiss and Gruyere is fantastic.  Add 2 cups of shredded cheese.  Let everything melt and whisk it so it is smooth.  Pour the sauce over the casserole.  Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and browned on top. 

If you have too much sauce, refrigerate it and use it later.  It would be wonderful over scrambled eggs or an omelet. 

This column is part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetables project!  If you’d like to see similar posts, just click the menu tab.  I’ll be sharing this with a few blog parties, so make sure you check the listings on my sidebar and click through.

Stay in and stay safe.


During my childhood … my favorite vintage period of the 1950s and the 1960s … one of my favorite vegetables was cauliflower.  We didn’t have it a lot.  I always figured it was either expensive, hard to find, or both.  It was not a garden vegetable for us, so it came from the grocery store.

Mama cooked it whole.  She used a big pot that she used for lots of things.  She used that pot for so many years that at the end of her life, it didn’t even have a handle!  She still used it.  She cooked it slowly in water, but she also added milk to the water.  I was sitting at the kitchen table one time when I was about six years old.  I asked her why she added the milk, and she told me it helped keep the cauliflower white!   She would flip to see the bright lime green, purple and orange cauliflowers we get these days!  Mother also made the same cheese sauce every time!  Velveeta was the main ingredient!  I cook cauliflower the same way, and Velveeta is my processed cheese of choice, too!

Cauliflower is a word that is thought to have come from the Italian word “caolifliori”, which means cabbage flowers.  Europe enjoyed cauliflower during the Middle ages.  For some reason it disappeared but was reintroduced in the by Italians on the island of Cyprus.  It had been taken to Cyprus from Asia.  Those cauliflowers were different than the Middle Ages style.  They were named Cyprus Cabbage.

By 1600, the Germans had “blumenkohl”.  The English called it “cole”.  Italians loved their “cavolfiore”, and the Spanish cooked “cliforlor”!  There are mentions of the vegetable in various historic texts and we know that King Louis XIV liked his cooked in stock and seasoned with nutmeg and butter!

American cookbooks from the 1700s provide recipes for stewing, boiling and frying cauliflower. Pickling the vegetable was introduced and was served when other vegetables were not available.  In the 1800s, we started serving it with butter and white sauce.  Those recipes suggest boiling it in milk to “gentle its flavor”.  In the 1800s, we also started making creamy cauliflower soup!  And … you thought that was invented in the 1970s!

It isn’t often that I find something I have never seen or cooked!  That was true not long ago when I got this magnificent vegetable in my vegetable delivery box!  This Romanesco cauliflower was so much fun to prepare.  It was also delicious. 

This magnificent vegetable is Italian in origin and history tells us it was being grown in Rome during the 16th Century.  Its flavor is a little bit nuttier than the regular cauliflower, so I decided it didn’t need any kind of sauce, just a little butter.  I also thought it was a bit regal, so I served it with chicken breasts stuffed with feta cheese and wrapped in prosciutto.  The color of the Romanesco faded during cooking, but it was still a pretty site!

The recipe for cooking this big beauty is simple.  I used the IP and cooked it for 3 minutes … just 3 minutes.  By the time it built up pressure and released the pressure, it was perfect.  I served it with melted butter poured over it.  Browned butter would have been delicious, too.  I also spritzed a little lemon juice over it right before I served it.

The chicken recipe is also pretty simple!

Chicken Breasts with Lemon Feta

4 ounce package of lemon flavored goat cheese
4 thick chicken breasts
8 ounces of sliced prosciutto
Salt and pepper
Lemon slices for garnish

When I want to stuff a chicken breast with cheese, I never want it to melt out of the meat.  Instead of slicing the meat horizontally, I slice a big space from the top and tuck the cheese inside.  That way, it just melts into the little pocket I cut! 

Slice the pocket into each breast.  Slice the goat cheese log into 4 chunks and tuck a chunk into each breast.  Wrap each breast with the prosciutto.  If you cannot get or don’t want to afford prosciutto, deli ham will work just as well.  Place the breasts on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes.  Make sure the juices run clear from the chicken.  The amount of time depends upon the thickness of the meat.

I served this chicken and my beautiful Romanesco on a bed of white and wild rice.  I drizzled the melted butter all over the platter!  

What to do with leftover cauliflower?  You will often read about fritters in my blog posts.  As I’ve researched a variety of food topics over the years, I have often encountered the reasons why home cooks prepared fritters.  In the absence of meat during war times, minced meats or vegetables made into fritters took the place of that piece of meat.  In the absence of money, the same applied. Using leftovers or small portions of something and adding an egg and breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs … turned small portions into a meal for several.  The only thing similar to a fritter that my mother ever made was a salmon croquette.  My husband didn’t like salmon croquettes, because his mother made them with canned mackerel instead of salmon.  That was all about cost! 

Abraham Lincoln liked “Corn Oysters”, which were fritters made with fresh corn.  Martha Washington made apple fritters that had dark ale in them.  Menus from the banquet tables of Henry VIII include fritters!  I love fritters.

Cauliflower Fritters

2 cups of leftover cooked cauliflower
2 eggs
1/2 c cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup crushed crackers
1 teaspoon of lemon pepper
Sprinkle of salt
olive oil for frying

Mash the cooked cauliflower and press it in a sieve to push all the water out of it. If you freeze leftover cauliflower, it will have even more moisture in it, so push! Stir cheese, eggs, cracker crumbs and pepper together with the cauliflower.

Put a little olive oil in a skillet and set it to medium-high heat. Form the cauliflower mixture into patties about 3 inches across. Cook until golden brown & set, about 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle with a little salt.

These are fantastic served with a salad or a bowl of soup. They are a great side dish for most any meat. Enjoy!

I'll be sharing this column with a few blog parties, so look at the list on my sidebar and go visit. This post is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable project. If you'd like to see similar columns, just click my menu tab for the project.

Green Beans Again!

Green beans originated in Peru and spread to South and Central America as Indian tribes migrated.   Spanish explorers carried them back to Europe in the 16th century.  From there, they were transported all around the world.  Native Americans planted them along the rows of corn so the beans could weave their way up the corn stalks.

Green bean casserole was created in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly who worked for the Campbell Soup. Company.  According to Wikipedia, in 2018 twenty million households served the casserole at their Thanksgiving Dinner.  I’m afraid my household is not included in that count!  For years, I made it, but ten years ago we decided it was no longer a favorite!

It is interesting to know that Reilly was challenged to create a recipe that would use ingredients that most Americans always had in the cupboards:  Canned green beans and Cream of Mushroom Soup!  She certainly created a winner!

While our family of five children was still at home, my dad grew enough green beans each year to allow Mother to can at least 100 quarts.  That was no small task.  I remember lots of times that we all sat under the shade tree in the front yard and snapped green beans!  Thankfully, he grew the ‘string less’ kind and we didn’t have to mess with that part! 

My brothers enjoy telling anyone who will listen … that I am their baby sister … and when it was time to pick green beans in the garden, Mother would perch me on an inverted bucket to sit like a princess, while they worked!  I guess they are right, as I don’t have memories of picking the beans … just snapping them!

The favorite way of preparing green beans in Mother’s household … and certainly in mine … is to boil them with onions, potatoes and smoked meat.  A ham hock is the most likely addition!  I still love to do this when beans are in season and little new potatoes are still available.  I can make this a meal.  Just give me the saltshaker, more fresh onion and a nice piece of crusty bread!  I’m happy!  The bigger the batch the better!

However, cooking for one doesn’t require a giant batch, and I have discovered a different way to get the same wonderful flavors without having leftovers for a week.  I sheet pan roast my beans, potatoes and onions. 

My husband was a fan of cooking what he called ‘one-potters’!  His favorite was a Dutch oven filled with Polish sausage, green peppers, onions, potatoes and tomato sauce.  He also had a favorite pot, the Pyrex clear brown.  He said he enjoyed watching the food as it cooked!  You could see through the pot itself, not just the lid!

Sheet pan cooking is the modern version of one-potters!  It was made popular beginning in 2009 when a New York Times food writer shared a recipe for sheet pan shrimp.  By 2014, it was all the rage. For the same reasons we enjoyed cooking in one pot in the 1970s, today’s home cooks enjoy using one pan.  Less mess, less time in the kitchen and flavorful combinations have made it a popular method of getting supper on the table!

I’m a fan, but I think it is easy to end up with a big fail!   Everything can taste the same when you pile it on a sheet pan, spritz it with olive oil and leave it in the oven to blister.  We used to hear that same complaint about a crock pot meal, and I don’t disagree with that!  It is important to not overcook and to not smother your foods with too much oil and too much seasoning. Olive oil has a flavor all its own, so I frequently use canola oil instead.  It doesn’t have flavor!  I also make my own spice combinations so I can avoid salt.  That might be a future column! 

Pan Roasted Green Beans, Onions and Potatoes

Wash and clean all the vegetables.  Use small potatoes and onions and they will roast in the same amount of time as the green beans!

Toss the vegetables in a light spritz of canola oil (not olive oil).  Place a single layer on the sheet pan.  You can cut the potatoes and onions into portions, if you think they are too big.

I use two seasonings on my vegetables:  Pepper, and I like a lot of it.   Butter Garlic Rub, and there are dozens of brands to choose from.

The last secret I’ll share with you is that I prepared a big batch of these last summer.  I portioned them in single servings just for me and sealed them to freeze.  They can be heated in a microwave or in the oven.  I use my NuWave counter-top convection oven and in less than 5 minutes, they are ready to eat.

This column is part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable project.  If you’d like to see similar posts, just click the page tab in my menu.  I’ll also be sharing this with some blog parties, so make sure you click through the list on my sidebar to visit!

Daffodils and Day Dreams

I could tell you that I've had this dinnerware since I was a new bride, but that isn't true.  It is that old, but I bought it in a collective shop about ten years ago.  It is Mikasa Garden Club and what is neat about it is the fact that it  comes in a variety of floral patterns, all under the Garden Club umbrella!  My main set is blue "Day Dreams" and the daffodil soup bowls are "Early Spring".  I have a variety of things in the different patterns, but I mix them all with the Day Dreams set.

Daffodils have started springing through the ground in Southern Illinois, but I've used silk in my composed centerpiece.  The ones in my yard haven't shown their little heads, yet.  We'll just have to settle for silk!

I shopped the house for the elements of my composed centerpiece, which is actually sitting at the 4th place at a table for 3!  Silk flowers in a shabby watering can; the little blue bunny that I've had for years;  The bird cake filled with pastel colored eggs and the faux greenery orb.  I think we are all amazed what we can come up with sometimes! 

The dinnerware is Mikasa; the flatware is Sabatier; the stemmed glasses are Fostoria.  The butterfly napkin ring is one of my favorites from my collection!

I'll be sharing this tablescape with a couple blog parties, so make sure you click through the sites listed in my sidebar.  Enjoy!

Okra Makes Me Happy!

I remember distinctly the first time I tasted okra.  My mother made excellent vegetable soup, but on rare occasions she would fix a quick Saturday lunch of sandwiches and canned soup.  We were in the middle of a big bathroom remodel on this particular Saturday, and she and Daddy were busy doing that work.  Mother made a quick lunch, and because she had accidentally purchased two cans of Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo Soup (instead of vegetable soup), that is what we had.  She was a little bit alarmed because it had okra in it, and she was sure Daddy wouldn’t like it.  When I asked what that little slice of green seeded vegetable was, Daddy told me it was okra and that I should eat it because I would love it.  Oh my!  I did love it and so did he!  From then on, when Mother could find the soup on the shelf of our small-town corner grocery store, she bought it!

Okra is certainly vintage in my estimation!  That Campbell’s soup hit the market in the mid-1940s.  Okra was cultivated by Egyptians a few centuries earlier, in the 12th century B.C.!  We know that okra came to the Caribbean and to the United States in the 1700s, brought by slaves from Africa.  Those slaves have influenced American cooking in enormous ways, and they taught the Louisiana Creoles that they could thicken soups with okra because of the sticky, thick juice in the vegetable.

Okra is sometimes called gumbo, and most of us know that Gumbo is a great recipe made with okra.  In the Congo, the word for okra was quillobo and the Portuguese created a word quingombo.  According to an article in Wikipedia, that is how we came to the use of the word gumbo.

Whatever name we choose to give it, okra has become popular world-wide.  We used to expect it to be on menus only in the southern region of the United States, but now we find fried okra on restaurant menus in lots of regions.  That is delicious, but I really enjoy okra prepared in many other ways.

I learned a few tips about using okra many years ago.  Buy small to medium sized pods.  Okra is used for making rope in some countries and if you want to eat rope, but big sized pods.  You won’t be able to chew them because of the strong fiber in them.  It is like chewing on toothpicks!  I’ve learned that from experience!

If you freeze okra pods whole, and slice them later while they are still frozen, the sticky juice won’t be sticky!  They will still help thicken your pot of soup or Gumbo, but the bite of okra itself won’t be as sticky!

When the pods are very small, I don’t even take the stem off.  The stem is as tender as the pod.

I’m sharing two recipes today and both are comfort foods for me!  They are healthy eating!

Okra and greens can be made with your favorite greens.  If you aren’t crazy about greens, you can make it with fresh spinach or with finely chopped cabbage.  I love greens, so this recipe is made with collard greens.  If you think the only way to prepare greens is to cook them all day in a crock pot, you are missing something.  You are cooking delicious broth that way, but I think the greens lose their flavor and nutrients.  Try your greens my way!

Collard Greens and Okra

3 slices of bacon
6 cups of washed, stemmed and sliced greens.
½ a yellow onion, sliced
½ a green bell pepper, chopped
As much okra as you’d like!
Bacon grease, salt, pepper and greens seasoning

Greens are so popular these days, there are several prepackaged spice combinations for seasoning them.  If you cannot find that, create a mixture of garlic powder, mustard powder, paprika and red pepper. 

If bacon grease is not in your diet, I’m sorry!  You can use your favorite cooking oil instead, but you lose a little flavor.

Fry the bacon until it is crisp.  Remove the bacon and crumble it. Caramelize the onion and bell pepper in the bacon grease, add the okra (sliced or halved lengthwise) and continue to cook for a few minutes until the okra begins to soften.  Add the sliced greens and stir fry until the greens are limp.  I stop cooking at this point and add the crumbled bacon and the seasonings.  The onions and pepper add nice flavor; the okra is crisp tender; the greens are not mushy … they have a nice bite to them.

Shrimp and Okra Stew

3 cups of sliced okra
1 pound of peeled, de-veined shrimp
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
A handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
3 cups Vegetable or fish stock
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning blend
Several grinds of black pepper
Salt to taste

Sauté the onion, bell pepper, celery and okra until the vegetables re crisp tender.  Add all the other ingredients, except the shrimp.  Let the stew come to a gentle boil and drop in the shrimp.  When the shrimp turn pink, the stew is done.  Serve this with rice, pasta or your favorite grain.

This post is part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetables project.  If you'd like to see similar posts, just click the menu tab.  I'll be sharing this with a couple blog parties, so make sure you check out my list on my sidebar. Enjoy!

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