Zora’s love

January 20, 2011

I was checking the events calendar at Washington College yesterday and saw this book title and author:  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.  Both were unfamiliar to me….so I checked out a copy at the library and spent 4 hours last night reading it from start to finish. 

Hurston, a black woman writer, wrote in the 30’s and 40’s, but was not favorably received by black, male authors.  One commentator said that the men didn’t think she was angry enough, so they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, listen to her. They compared her works to a “minstrel show, created just to make white men laugh.”  Consequently, this book was out of print for 30 years, only being rediscovered in the 70’s, when an about face occurred; it was then highly acclaimed.

It was a good story and I found treasures:  things that I just wanted to write down somewhere, simply to remember because they were good.  Below are a few of the gems that I found.

Janie, one of the main characters, said:  “Love is lak de sea.  It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore. 

 ‘Lawd!’ Pheoby breathed out heavily, ‘Ah done growed ten feet higher from jus’ listenin’ tuh you, Janie…’

‘Now, Pheoby, don’t feel too mean wid de rest of ’em ’cause dey’s parched up from not knowin’ things.  Dem meatskins is got tuh rattle tuh make out they’s alive.  Let ’em consolate theyselves wid talk.  ‘Course, talkin’ don’t amount tuh uh hill uh beans when yuh can’t do nothin’ else.  And listenin’ tuh dat kind uh talk is jus’ lak openin’ you’ mouth and lettin’ de moon shine down yo’ throat.  It’s uh known fact, Pheoby, you got tuh go there tuh know there.  Yo’ papa and yo’ mama and nobody else can’t tell yuh and show yuh…

…It was all according to the way you see things.  Some people could look at a mud-puddle and see an ocean with ships.  But Nanny belonged to that other kind that loved to deal in scraps.  Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon–for no matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you–and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her….[Janie] had found a jewel down inside herself and she had wanted to walk where people could see her and gleam it around….When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over.  Then after that some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed.  So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song.  So they covered each one over with mud.  And the lonesomeness in the sparks make them hunt for one another, but the mud is deaf and dumb.  Like all the other tumbling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her shine.”


January 17, 2011


One of 89-year-old Rachel's wedding presents that she was going to give to the church for a yard sale

I learned to make “cocoa” when I was just a little girl.  I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen for real recipes, but I guess my mother figured I could handle cocoa–simply a homemade cup of hot chocolate, if the label “cocoa” is unfamiliar to you.  Well, that was in the days of when I was back on the farm (and glorious, innocent, uncomplicated days those were, I might add), and there is a part of me that will always be hooked to that time in my life.   Cocoa meant warmth and home and delight:  grace in a cup, I’m pretty sure you could say.

A cup of cocoa wasn’t counted as a “dessert,” so there weren’t the same restrictions attached to it that the more traditional banana cream pie or marble cake carried with them.  Translation:  we had cocoa more often than or a piece of pie or a slice of cake….but more familiar and frequent do  not necessarily equal bad or  banal.  It was still a sweet treat…..which is why I bid on the set of 6 demitasse cups on ebay. 

The other reason for my ebay search for demitasse cups was that Rachel’s nearly-100-year-old set of 4 cups and pot began to crumble; one day, when washing one of the cups in the sink, the handle just, …well,…came off in my hand.  Go figure.  But needless to say, I didn’t want to then serve a guest something steamy that could potentially be scalding.  Hence, my hunt.  The ones I found will be arriving any day…..just in time for our weekend guests to enjoy a demitasse portion of some good, old-fashioned tiny cups of chocolate cocoa.  Some things are just too good to stay back on the farm.

Shifting Gears….Gluten Free….

January 14, 2011


Empty gluten-free pie shell, waiting to be filled

I had made a gluten-free pie crust about a month ago and had put it in the freezer when it wasn’t needed after all, so I took it out this morning….to make a goat cheese / spinach / onion / mushroom quiche.  Because our scheduled guest is also lactose intolerant, I’ll make it with soy milk.  So…I can hardly wait to see how it will turn out!  Pic, feedback  and more recipes coming…..

…chicken / shrimp / veggie stir fry with rice noodles, maybe….haven’t quite decided….

…I have a cornbread mix and also a chocolate cake mix, both of which are gluten-free, and I have discovered before that I have excellent results with these packaged mixes.  But I also have some almond meal that I’m eager to try…..

….As I said, more coming….

White Christmas Pie Recipe Plus

January 13, 2011


Ready to serve!

I had never heard of anyone else making this pie, but when I looked online to see if I could find it, there were lots of sites with the recipe.  And they were identical to the one I had.  I believe one was a Betty Crocker reference, so that may have been where my mother got it.  She almost always saved (and then tried) the recipes that came in the 5 pound bags of Gold Medal flour–(remember those?)

I read on one online site that it is an Amish tradition to serve this pie on Thanksgiving Day, in hopes that it would “bring” them a white Christmas.  Not so sure about that.  But one thing is certain.  If you have this pie, you won’t care if you have a white Christmas or not.

The recipe:  White Christmas Pie

            Note:  You’ll need one baked pie crust for this recipe.

Step 1:  Mix in saucepan 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1 envelope unflavored gelatin and 1/2 tsp salt.  Gradually stir in 1 3/4 milk.  Cook over medium heat till boiling.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Remove from stove and let cool.   Add 1 tsp pure vanilla and 3/4 tsp almond extracts and 1 cup coconut when cool.

Step 2:  While the above mixture is cooling, beat 3 egg whites, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and 1/2 cup sugar till stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

Step 3:  Also during the cooling period, beat 1/2 cup whipping cream till it is stiff.   Set aside.

Step 4:  Transfer the cooled mixture into a very large bowl.  (Yes, you now have bowls all over the place.  Sorry.)  Carefully add the beaten egg whites and the whipped cream.  Fold together. 

Step 5:  Spoon the folded, fluffy pudding base-egg white-whipped cream mixture into a baked pie crust.  Sprinkle with coconut and chill for several hours. 

Step 6:  Serve!

White Christmas Pie Memories

January 12, 2011

I think I have the family history correct:  it was my mother who found the White Christmas Pie recipe, and my Aunt Sara who made it for extra special events after my mother died.  I can’t remember when my mother made it–I just remember the light-as-a-feather, heavenly pie being in the kitchen I grew up in–but I can recall seeing 2 of the pies sitting on Aunt Sara’s counter in her home at Kinnaird Point, ready to be served to ladies at a Bible study luncheon.  My mind might be fuzzy about the exact time frame in which the Pie entered our family, but I have never forgotten this Pie. 

It’s amazing that my mother ever made the pie because my Aunt Bernice, her sister, wouldn’t touch coconut with a ten foot pole, and she usually reserved the extra special creations for when she visited.  My mother always baked on weekends when Aunt Bernice didn’t come (she came every other), but the really great things usually were made on her weekends.

It’a a bit of a fussy pie to make–not difficult at all, just fussy–and Aunt Sara wasn’t the fussy type, but when she was in the same life stage as I am in now, she also had a period when fussy was quite all right, depending on the circumstances.  And besides, all of us have always loved sweets, and this one is absolutely unforgettable, with the sweet quotient being the very best kind of all–winsome and subtle in the most inviting way.

It’s been probably 15 or 20 years since I made the pie myself, but today seemed the perfect day for it.  I don’t know if it was the bright white snow on the ground outside or the fact that we’re having neighbors over who will really, really love it, but today was the day.  I doubled the recipe–why not when it has several steps in it so you might as do twice as much without doing twice the work–so I have 2 pies in the fridge. 

I’ll edit this tomorrow, recording the tasters’ comments, the picture of the pie, as well as the recipe.  Good things are worth waiting for; after all, it’s been maybe 20 years here….

Snowmen and flying geese…

January 11, 2011

Snowman mugs

"Flying Geese" traditional quilt pattern

 If it snows enough, more snowmen will likely be found right down the street, and a walk to the foot of High Street is the place to see real geese.  But if it’s just too cold to venture out, one could simply look out the window next to the “flying geese” wall hanging while holding a steaming snowman mug in his / her hand.  Whichever.

Silver and white….

January 11, 2011

Silver and white on the dining room table

Silver and white in the dining room hutch

The little-kid-teacher part of me is often ready to bust out, so the pull of the new-bulletin-board gets me every time.  It’s January, so the time for the theme colors of white and silver is here.  In the early childhood classroom, it hits the bulletin boards.  At Simply Bed & Bread, the theme is found in the small decor touches.  And why?  Because it’s just plain fun!

Clean and bright….

January 11, 2011

No, not edelweiss, but clean and bright

….and ready for new snow guests!

The sheets needed to be washed after our weekend guests had left, but it was overcast yesterday morning.  I sighed, thinking that one of our hidden amenities–the clean, crispness of sheets-hung-outside would have to be scrapped….But then the sun came out!  So we’re all set and ready!  And more snow is promised this afternoon!  Again, it’s not supposed to be much, but just a little is very nice.  A perfect time to come to cozy up with a dear one or with a book; there’s room in the inn!

New Year: New Wreath

January 5, 2011

Winter white

…now hanging on our front door for a wintry welcome!

New Year: New Food

January 5, 2011

The nut-crumb mixture in the skillet

The nut-crusted chicken still in the pan in the oven

As promised….the nut-crusted chicken!  I didn’t have cashews after all, so I used pecans, and it worked!  We both loved it!

 The crust was crisp and the chicken moist–perhaps because of the preparation of the chicken:  each piece was poked with a fork several times, then rubbed with some coarse pretzel salt.  I then put it in the fridge while I fixed the crust mix.

As I crumbled some left-over, homemade bread, a part of me thought, “How can this not be good?” since the next step was to brown butter and onion in the skillet.  People stepping into our house always ask, “What are you cooking?  whenever I do that, and it’s only a little butter and some onions thrown together!  Plain and simple, the combination just works. This recipe called for lemon zest, juice, cayenne and dill to be added to that.  Afterwards, I dipped each piece of chicken into flour, then an egg / Dijon mixture, ending with the crumb-nut crust mix.  It baked for about an hour–longer than the recipe had indicated, but  we just waited.  🙂  YUM.

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Location, Location, Location.

You might notice the WAC Administration Building cupola out of the corner of your eye as you walk onto Simply Bed & Bread's brick path, since our house is just a stone's throw away from the college. Or it might be the ...
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