Happy Mother's Day!

I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. 
They have clung to me all my life.          ~Abraham Lincoln

How do I measure my success as a mother?  By the accomplishments of my children?  By their happiness in this world? 

May I be that mother that my mom was to me.  She prayed for me when I was lost. And I want to do the same for my children, until my last living day.  I will have no greater joy (or success, my words) than to hear that my children walk in truth (3 John 1:4).  


Happy All Hallows' Eve

How are you spending the All Hallows' Eve tonight?   I hope it will be filled with children, friends, and candy.  Here are some quick spooky treats you can take to your party.
Be safe and have fun!

Photos features on Savannah Morning News.  

Pretzel Bones

Recipe by Miss Sophie

 1 bag (7 ounce) of white meltable candy wafers
 36 thin pretzel sticks of various lengths
 72 mini marshmallows (about 1 cup)

 1. Follow the instructions on the candy wafers package to melt ½ of the bag in a wide bowl.
 2. For each bone, press marshmallows onto both ends of a pretzel stick or rod, with the marshmallows’ flat sides parallel to the pretzel.
 3. Dip each pretzel into the melted candy to coat it. Lift it out with a fork, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Place the bone onto a sheet of waxed paper to set at room temperature.

Strawberry Ghosts 

Recipe by Miss Sophie

15 fresh strawberries
8 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon shortening
1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

 1. Wash strawberries and gently pat with paper towels until completely dry.
 2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt white chocolate and shortening at 50% power; stir until smooth.
 3. Dip strawberries in chocolate mixture; place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet.
 4. Immediately press chocolate chips into coating for eyes. Freeze 5 minutes.
 5. In microwave, melt remaining chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Transfer melted chocolate to a small sealable freezer bag. Cut a small portion of one of the tips off and use chocolate to draw mouth.
 6. Keep refrigerated until time to serve.


Figs in Summer

In these dog days of summer in Savannah, one fruit that seems happy and thriving in the sweltering heat are figs.  I can't say that about myself; I'm happy to jump from air-conditioned car to air-conditioned buildings to avoid the humidity and blaring heat.  But I love picking those dark, ripe figs early and eating them straight from the tree before the birds have a chance to peck at them.  

You'll love this Spicy Fig Jam.  Crystalized ginger adds to the intense ginger flavor, and a bit of surprising spiciness to the jam.  My family and I love smearing this on pieces of baguette and pairing it with a creamy wedge of brie cheese.  Oh yum.  

These photos and other fig recipes can be found on Miss Sophie's weekly food column in the  Savannah Morning News

Spicy Fig and Ginger Jam 

This is a fig jam with a bit of spiciness that comes from the ginger. It goes well with a soft cheese like brie.

 4 cups coarsely chopped fresh figs
 2 1/4 cups sugar
 1/3 cup water
 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
 4 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Cool. Pour into airtight containers. Note: Refrigerate Fig and Ginger Jam in airtight containers up to six weeks.

Strawberry-Fig Preserves

Try some on a hot buttered biscuit for a real treat.

 7 cups of figs coarsely chopped in the food processor
 7 cups of sugar
 3 (3 oz) boxes of strawberry gelatin
 1 box of Sure-Jell

In a large, heavy pot, combine the figs and sugar. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in strawberry gelatin and Sure-Jell. Boil for another 5 minutes, stirring often. Transfer the mixture to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Process jars for 10 minutes in a water bath.


Cherry Hand Pies

Some things are definitely worth re-posting.  When my friend Miss Sophie wanted to write about cherries in her weekly food column in the Savannah Morning News, sweet and juicy memories of this hand pie flooded my mind.  And I couldn't resist sharing the recipe with Miss Sophie and her readers.

Frozen cherries are used, but why not make your own favorite version of fruit hand pies?  
Apples or peaches would be great here. 
And seriously, if you don't have time to make a homemade crust, get already made ones!  Make life easier on yourself.  

These photos and other great cherry recipes are published in the

Cherry Hand Pies

Makes about 8 hand pies

Adapted from Bon Appetite

12 ounces frozen pitted cherries, slightly thawed, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons tapioca

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar, and extra for sprinkling

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon table salt

1-double pie crust of your choice, rolled out and chilled well (click here for pie crust recipe)

1 large egg white

1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Toss together in a bowl the first 8 ingredients.  Refrigerate while preparing dough.

Whisk egg white and 1 tablespoon water in another small bowl for egg wash, set aside.

Take the chilled crust, roll out to a large rectangular shape about 18" x 16".  Using a pie crust cutter and a clean ruler, cut the crust into smaller rectangles, about 4x5, or so.  Chill the pastry and work with one rectangle at a time. 

Using your finger or a pastry brush, apply the egg white mixture on the edges of the small rectangles.  Scoop a heaping tablespoon of filling mixture, and fold over the dough, forming a packet.  Seal the edges well by using a fork to crimp.  Cut two or three slits on top with a paring knife.  Repeat the process with remaining pastry and filling.  Makes about 8 packets.  At this point, the packets can be frozen for later use.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit about 4 pies on each pan.  Brush tops with egg white mixture, then sprinkle with granulated or raw sugar.  Bake until tops are golden brown and filling oozes out, about 30 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack and cool before serving. 


Grilled Corn and Peach Salsa

How do you describe summer in two words?  Corn and peaches.  
The marriage of grilled corn and perfectly ripe peaches yields an amazing combination of flavors.  I'm often in awe of the incredible gifts that God has given us in foods: colors, textures, flavors.....all so beautiful and good.  This summer salsa is fantastic with grilled flank steak or chicken. 

These photos and other great summer salsa recipes can be found in Miss Sophie's column this week.  

Grilled Corn and Peach Salsa

Recipe by Miss Sophie with modifications

 4 ears grilled corn cut off the cob
 2 ripe, Georgia peaches, peeled and diced
 2 large tomatoes, chopped
 1/2 small red onion finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Italian parsley leaves chopped
1 Tablespoon cilantro leaves chopped
 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
 ¼ teaspoon pepper
 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

 In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Let stand 30 minutes to 2 hours to let the flavors blend.  Season more with salt if needed.  


Berries Prompt Trip Down Memory Lane

How has your summer been?  It's been quite crazy for me lately.  Take a deep breath and feast on these beautiful berry photos and recipes.  The words and recipes are by my friend Teri Bell, aka Miss Sophie, who writes weekly food column on Savannah Morning News and photos by yours truly.  

Words and Recipes By Miss Sophie

Last week I noticed something red on the berm behind our house. Much to my delight, it was a thorny bush with soon to be blackberries growing wild. There were already two or three tiny ripe ones, which I quickly washed off and shared with Steve.

Eating that blackberry took me back to summer afternoons when my best friend, Robert, and I would venture into the field behind his house navigating our way through the brush and thorny bushes in pursuit of big wild blackberries. We didn’t worry about washing them, we picked and consumed all at the same time until we couldn’t find any more or we had our fill.

Mama said that when she was a little girl, she and Aunt Jenny would walk along the side of the road picking blackberries until they got enough for grandma to make them a blackberry pie. I guess Robert and I missed out not sharing our blackberries with grandma — we might have gotten a pie, too!
I don’t know if it is because I don’t walk down the side of the road or if it is just because I now live in the “big city,” but I don’t see wild blackberries much anymore. The ones behind my house were the first in a long time and these were tiny. I remember the blackberries in the field being big, fat and delicious! Today when I see the sticker price of blackberries, I can’t help but think of all those I consumed for free! If only I had known what a goldmine there was in that field.

Pricey or not, we should all invest in some berries on a regular basis. Turns out they are not only good — they are good for you! Berries are very high in antioxidants. For those of you, like me, who have always secretly wondered exactly what “high in antioxidants” means, I looked it up. The short version: Our atmosphere is full of “free radicals.” When these radicals come together they produce a reaction. Some reactions are good, but some can cause cell damage that can result in cancer and other diseases. Oxidation produces free radicals. Antioxidants inhibit oxidation. Foods are measured for their antioxidant level by their “oxygen radical absorbance capacity” or ORAC. The higher the ORAC, the better the food is for you. These foods absorb radicals therefore eliminating the possibility of a reaction. Now that’s all clear — right?

One way to fight the high price of berries and boost your ability to fight off free radicals is to purchase them when in season, as they are now, and freeze them for use later in the year. It is so simple to do! Wash and drain the berries. Spread berries out on a sheet pan and allow to air dry for 15 or 20 minutes. Place the pan in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer berries to a freezer bag. Write the name and the date on the freezer bag and toss into the freezer. Frozen berries are great to use in smoothies and require no thawing.

Berries don’t have to be laden in sugar to be enjoyed and are great in a salad, like a Raspberry Avocado Salad, but berries do make some of the best desserts! I wonder if I bury the berries in sugar and dough, if they lose their oxygen radical absorbance capacity? I’ve always heard that in some cases “ignorance is bliss.” I’ve decided this is one of those times.

Teri Bell is co-owner of Miss Sophie’s Marketplace at the Mighty Eighth in Pooler. Go to sophiesmarketplace.com.


Adapted from Driscoll’s Berry Recipes
1 package (6 ounces or 1 1/3 cup) Driscoll’s Raspberries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cups olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pounds cooked whole shrimp or grilled chicken strips
1/4 cups diced mango
1 tablespoon thinly sliced red onion
4 cups baby spinach leaves or spring mix
2 avocados, halved, pitted and sliced
Blend 1/3 cup raspberries, vinegar, honey and Dijon mustard in a blender or food processor until smooth. Drizzle in the oil while blending. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons water to thin slightly, if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Combine shrimp or chicken, mango, and onion in a medium bowl. Gently stir in remaining raspberries. Divide lettuce onto four plates and arrange avocado slices on top of lettuce. Top with raspberry mixture and drizzle the dressing on top. Serve with any remaining dressing on the side.


2 cups self-rising white cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
Preheat oven to 450 F. Stir together cornmeal and sugar in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together eggs, sour cream, and butter; add to cornmeal, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in blackberries. Spoon batter into two lightly greased 12-cup muffin pans, filling three-fourths full. Allow to sit 3 or 4 minutes. Bake at 450 F for 15 to 17 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes.


I can’t talk about berries without sharing this simple recipe again!
1 can crushed pineapple, 20 ounces, do not drain
3 cups blueberries or blackberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 package yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Put pineapple and berries in buttered pan; sprinkle with 3/4 cup sugar. Pour dry cake mix over berry mixture then drizzle melted butter over the dry mix. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar. Do not stir. Bake about 45 minutes.


Happy May!

May indeed brings welcoming sights for me in Savannah. Finally, my lawn is lush green after enduring months of brown centipede grass. And being surrounded by pale new growth on plants makes me do a jig, just because.  The weather is perfect right now, and there are so many great gatherings happening, like outdoor picnics, and this fun Jack and Jill party hosted by Miss Sophie's place.  
I love how she used these simple but fun props to make the occasion special.  The power of Pinterest!  
And here are some great recipes to get you jump-started to host your next gathering! 

All recipes by Miss Sophie
Used with permission

Sour Cream Pound Cake
1 ½  cups cake flour
1 ½  cups white sugar
½     cup butter
1      teaspoon vanilla extract
½     teaspoon lemon extract
½     cup sour cream
3      eggs
1/8   teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8x4 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in vanilla extract, lemon extract and baking soda. Add sour cream and flour and mix well. Pour into an 8x4 inch loaf panBake 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out cleanLet cake cool on a cooling rack before slicing. Serve with sliced strawberries, blueberries or raspberries and whipped cream

Vinegar Cole Slaw
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon celery seed
1 medium head of cabbage, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped

Combine cabbage, onion and bell pepper in a medium size bowl. In a saucepan, mix oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, mustard, and celery seed and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour hot mixture over cabbage mixture and toss. Cover bowl and refrigerate a minimum of 24 hours and up to 6 days.

Peach Sangria
Break all the rules and serve this sangria in a Mason jar.  Better double it though, your guests will be asking for more!

1 Bottle of Pinot Grigio or your favorite white wine
½ cup Peach Schnapps
½  cup sugar
½ cup water
1 cup of basil leaves
3 sliced peaches
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 orange, sliced                                                                        
1/2 liter of ginger ale

Combine sugar, water and basil in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat just until sugar is melted, crushing basil with the back of the spoon against the side of the pot. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Pour wine and Schnapps in a pitcher, add sliced peaches, orange and strawberries. Stir in sugar water and basil. Chill mixture for at least one hour. Add ginger ale just before serving.


A Prom and Pineapple Dream Whip Recipe

 Spring is finally here in Savannah!  The azaleas have burst into full bloom, and the city roads are lined with their magnificent colors of pink, tangerine, and salmon, occasionally spotted by the bright whites of Chinese Fringe and Dogwood blossoms.  Beautiful spring time in Savannah also means high school junior and senior proms.  

And it was so fun to see my girl attend a senior prom.  
As I was taking these photos, my heart stirred with mixed emotions seeing my once little baby girl all grown up so beautiful and pinning a boutonniere on her prom date.  17 years have flown by and here she is.... 
Ok, let me stop right there.

There is something wonderful and hopeful about watching a group of beautiful young people filled with excitement and happiness. Though they may bear the burdens of the world later, for right now, it's good to see their lives protected by their loving families and surrounded by good friends.  Yes, this is good indeed.  

Here is a simple and refreshing dessert just perfect to round off your next elegant spring meal.  
You can also find this and other great recipes in Miss Sophie's weekly food column in the Savannah Morning News.  

Pineapple Dream Whip 

Recipe by Miss Sophie
Used with permission

16 ounces of cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons pineapple juice
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to soft peak
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
4-6 slices of cored pineapple, fresh preferred (canned ones can be substituted)

Place pineapple slices in a medium bowl. Pour enough rum into bowl to cover the pineapple. Set aside and soak for 2-3 hours.

In a medium bowl beat cream cheese, sugar and pineapple juice until smooth and fluffy. Fold in whipped cream and vanilla extract.  Stir in coconut. Refrigerate for 1 hour until firm.

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain pineapple slices and place on a baking sheet. Bake pineapple for 12 minutes or until edges of pineapple begin to brown slightly. Remove and allow to cool completely. To assemble: Place a piece of baked pineapple on a plate or in a bowl. Top with a generous scoop of cream cheese mixture. Garnish with toasted coconut and pineapple tidbits.


Sweet Letha and Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe

The strawberry season is quite a bit longer this year than usual here in Savannah.  Due to warm weather, we have been getting sweet, ripe strawberries since early February.  And living only a half mile away from my neighbor's berry farm, it's great to be able to dash over to pick fresh berries whenever I need some.  

On this cool mid-morning,  I shouldered my camera and drove to the farm.   I was happy to see my poco Letha, and her mother uncovering the white floating row covers.  Letha is a daughter of migrant workers at the farm.   Her big dancing brown eyes greeted me, along with her cheerful "Hola, Miss Kay!"   When she saw me taking photos of the berries, curiosity got the best of her, and instead of helping her mama, she tagged along with me.  
I handed her a few pint-size baskets and asked if she could help me pick some not-so-big, red, shiny, pretty, stemmed berries.  Despite my numerous adjectives, she flashed me a smile and hopped over the beds like a graceful fawn and went to work.  

In no time, she had the baskets filled.  Her nimble, expert fingers did exactly what I asked for. She was tickled to be my helper/light bouncer/hand model and I was so happy to have her with me.  Her cheerfulness and sweet countenance made my day even brighter.  Gracias, Letha!  

These photos will be featured this coming Wednesday in Miss Sophie's column.  

Freezer Strawberry Jam

4 cups crushed fresh strawberries
3 cups sugar
1 (1.75 oz) pkg low sugar sure gel
3/4 c water

Rinse clean plastic containers and lids with boiling water. Dry thoroughly.

Crush strawberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 4 cups crushed strawberries into a large bowl.

Mix sugar and pectin in large saucepan. Stir in water. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add strawberries; stir 1 minute or until well blended. FILL all containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or freeze extra containers up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator before using.


Avocado Love

Last summer, my husband turned his routine annual medical trip to New York into a fun mini-vacation with our teen daughter. And ever since their trip,  this New York City-loving duo have been harping about the fresh guacamole they had at a Mexican restaurant.  

My engineer husband, who has been married to this ex-caterer/church cook for two decades, rarely talks about food.  Oh, he loves to eat good food, but he rarely has a full conversation about it.
So when he mentioned several times that he wanted to make guacamole like they did in that New York restaurant, (translation = Kay, please make it the way they did in that New York restaurant,) I listened.  

And to my delight, I spotted this handsome stone mortar and pestle at my favorite local Korean food store.  It was so heavy that the lady had to triple bag it. Now it's the most used piece of equipment on my kitchen counter.  

 And our avocado repertoire has expanded from simple guac to Edamame-Guacamole and Avocado fries.  Pretty fun and fancy, right? 

I know, it seems wrong to FRY a perfectly good avocado, but it really works, and they are just delicious: crunchy Panko exterior with the goodness of a soft, nutty inside texture.   
My kids begged for more.  

These avocado photos were also featured in
 Miss Sophie's column on Savannah Morning News today.

Panko Avocado Fries with Hoisin Dipping Sauce

2 firm but ripe avocados
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup+ panko bread crumbs
3/4 teaspoon sea salt divided (in flour, egg wash, panko bread crumbs)

4 cup of canola or vegetable oil for frying 

In a small deep fryer or in a cast-iron pan, heat oil to 350 degrees F. 

In three separate shallow bowls or pans, put flour, beaten eggs, and panko bread crumbs in that order.  Add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt in each.  

Halve the avocado, peel, and slice avocado into 10-12 wedges total per each avocado.   

Dredge wedges in flour, egg wash, and then finally gently roll them in panko.  

Deep fry in batches until golden brown.  Drain on a wire rack or on paper towels.  Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.  

Hoisin Dipping Sauce 

1/4 cup soy sauce 
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1 teaspoon green onions, chopped 
1 tablespoon water 
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce 
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger 
1/2 teaspoon white sugar 

Combine all the ingredients and whisk until well blended.  Add more hoisin sauce if you want to thicken the sauce. Cover and refrigerate until needed.  

Gently warm in a sauce pan before serving. 


Makes about a cup

1  avocado firm, but ripe, peeled, seeded and diced in chunks
1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 small clove garlic, finely grated
2 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon jalapeño, chopped
2 tablespoons grated onion
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 lime, juiced

If you own a stone mortar and pestle, this is a great recipe to put it to use.  If not, use a food processor with a blade attachment.  First put into processor (or mortar) edamame, garlic, salt, cilantro, jalapeño, and pepper, and process until finely chopped.  Add lime juice and whirl a few more times to incorporate.  Add diced avocado and pulse 4-5 times until well blended.  

Serve this healthy guacamole in a pretty bowl with warmed tortilla chips.  You will need to double the recipe. It's never enough.  


Airsoft War and Simple Bar Cookie Recipe

"I looked toward Birnam, and anon methought
The wood began to move."
Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5

My little homestead is located in the midst of tall Georgia pines, a perfect rustic place for a large group of boys to gather and have an airsoft war.  

The weather couldn't have been better last Saturday: cool mid-60's with zero humidity.  It was exactly right for these southern boys in their full camo gear.   The whole day was spent running through the woods in teams or shooting at targets of chip bags, drink cups, and empty pizza boxes during their breaks.  

A few hours after their pizza lunch was devoured, I made these simple bar cookies.  Once the word circulated that the cookies were out of the oven, the forest began to move, and camouflaged soldiers abandoned their posts and forts for these warm chocolatey cookie bars.  

I couldn't be happier seeing my son and his friends romp in the woods, drinking in the fresh air.  Sure beats playing video games indoors, right?  And hearing them saying thank you's in between bites of these cookies really warmed my heart.  It was a great day.  

This recipe times two fed 20 hungry boys.  

Simple Bar Cookies

Makes one jelly-roll pan 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" x 1"
or Half Sheet Pan

1 C (8 oz) Unsalted Butter, softened
1 C (7 oz) Granulated Sugar
1 C (7oz) Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla

2 C (7.5 oz) Oatmeal, ground in food processor
1 ¾ C (8.5 oz) Flour, all-purpose, unbleached
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt

2 C total of your favorite baking chips (I used white chocolate, peanut butter chips, milk chocolate, and Heath bar chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Combine together in a small bowl the ground oatmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together with a hand mixer the softened butter and both granulated and brown sugars until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla until well blended.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients until just combined.  It's ok if small patches of flour remain.  Do not overbeat.

Spray or grease the jelly roll pan with vegetable oil.  Spread evenly the cookie dough.  You can use a sheet of plastic food wrap over the dough to spread the dough.  Peel off the plastic wrap.  Sprinkle generously with baking chips of your choice.  Press down.

Bake until golden brown, about 22-24 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes and cut to desired size.