David, Ryan, potentially Lauren and I were going to have New Year’s Eve Dinner on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, I needed a few extra ingredients from the grocery store before I could make it; and it rained a COLD, DRENCHING rain that alternated between steady streams and torrential downpours. All. Day. Long. Who wants to go out in that?
Also, daughter Lauren said when I invited her for dinner, “Uhm, thanks, but I think I’m going to stay home and ring in New Years with Millie (her cat) and Iggy (her dog.) It’s raining and I don’t want to get out if I don’t have to.” Smart woman, my daughter! Usually. Oh, wait. Y’all don’t know. Back in August when I kind of gave up on blogging for a few months, Lauren and my grandfurbabies were still living with us. Much has changed since then. Lauren, Iggy and Millie moved last September into a very cute apartment. She’s not too far from us, but far enough that driving in a stinkin’ rain is treacherous.
Also, yeah, that’s why we didn’t go to the grocery store. IT WAS TREACHEROUS OUT THERE IN THE STINKIN’ RAIN! And yet, that didn’t stop David from getting us take-out for dinner. I’m sure there’s logic in here, somewhere (or maybe not), but David didn’t want to go to the grocery store because of the rain; and yet, he was okay with driving to two different restaurants to get the three of us dinner. I didn’t argue. The man offered to get dinner, which meant I didn’t have to cook. So David and I split a Plain Jane (loaded baked potato) and Reuben sandwich from Jason’s Deli. Ryan got a pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut. Also, don’t ask me why David won’t use Door Dash, Grub Hub, Uber Eats or just the plain ol’ restaurants’ delivery drivers to bring us take-out. He prefers to pick-up. Who says preferences have to make any sense?
GOOD LUCK SOUP
On Friday, New Year’s Day, I made spicy black-eyed pea soup and cornbread. In years past, we’d go to The Black-eyed Pea Restaurant on the first to get our fill of good luck peas. After the restaurant shut down, I started missing their spicy black-eyed pea soup they’d serve on Thursdays only, I believe, and so I learned to make my own. I make a pot of soup every New Year’s Day, except last year when I didn’t because I was so sick. No wonder 2020 was such a bad year. None of us had our black-eyed peas! Let that be a lesson to all. Everyone needs to eat their black-eyed peas on New Year’s or else bad things happen. Like pandemics. And economic hardship.
Not this year, though. David, Ry and I had Good Luck Soup both Friday and Saturday (hey, I just came up with that name and that’s what I’m going to call it from now on) — so we should be in the clear with lots of good luck this year! (Okay, I didn’t intend to, but I will rhyme if I must. Consider this is a must.) Note to self: rename spicy black eyed pea soup to Good Luck Soup in recipe file. Maybe. Okay, I’ll just do an aka and leave it at that!
A LITTLE FAMILY HISTORY
Mom would have been 75 on Saturday. Happy Birthday in Heaven, Mom!
Fast forward to Sunday, January 3, which would have been Mom and Dad’s 57th anniversary. Suffice it to say that the day after Mom turned eighteen (1/2/64), she and Dad went down to the courthouse and got married because she was an adult, by God, and she could do whatever the hell she wanted. At eighteen, she didn’t need her parents’ blessing anymore, the racist bastards! (Love you, anyway, Grandma and Grandpa! Please don’t send me angry whispers in the wee hours of my dreams tonight, ‘k? It was your doing, by the way — acting like racist bastards. What were you thinking? Also, I wasn’t even a twinkle in my Daddy’s eye at the time, so don’t blame me. If you don’t like the truth, take it up with Mom in Heaven. Besides, hopefully, after being in Heaven all of these years, you’ve gotten over your racist tendencies, right?!)
For about twenty years, give or take, David would give Mom a five-pound box of expensive Priester’s pecans sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. He used to send them to clients as well when clients were still allowed to accept gifts of appreciation. That’s another story, though. As a thank you (because what else was she going to do with five pounds of pecans), Mom used to make David banana nut bread every Christmas. It was always so, so wonderfully good. There’s something so warming and inviting about a slice of toasted banana nut bread with a nice smear of butter on a cold winter’s day! Yum!
So the last few years, I’ve missed our annual banana nut loaf, again, because Grandma used to make it and then she passed in 2004; then Mom took over making banana nut bread and she’s been gone since 2016; so I guess, tag, I’m the next one in line. For making banana nut bread. Let’s be clear about that. The bottom line is, if I want “David” to have banana nut bread, I now have to make it.
In 2019 I found Mom’s recipe, so I made David banana nut bread (and when I say “made David,” the idea was and still is that he’d share.) That explains why I used walnuts instead of pecans because, apparently, our daughter has an aversion to pecans. Also, David’s not about to gift me with expensive Priester’s pecans. Anyway, how the hell can Lauren be my daughter and not like pecans? I suppose, that, too, is a preference thing. *shaking my head* I hope this is just a phase she grows out of like when she decided she didn’t like Tex-Mex and had all of our ancestors angrily rolling around and complaining in their graves.
VOICES FROM THE PAST
If the dead could speak — well, I’m pretty sure that for several years, my ancestors whispered in my dreams about how I should be ashamed of myself for not raising Lauren up to appreciate good Tex Mex — as if that were my fault! Trust me, it wasn’t! But whatchagonnado — family and their cockamamy ideas! Now Lauren loves Tex-Mex, the truly something good that came courtesy of her ex-boyfriend who, apparently, also loves good Tex Mex (thank you, Jesus.) No, her ex-boyfriend was not Jesus — or named Jesus. That would be too weird! Her ex’s name was…well, never mind…that’s not important. What is important is that Lauren loves Tex Mex now, and the angry whispers in my dreams have stopped both in English and Spanish. Thank you, Jesus!
TIMES FOUR, Y’ALL!
On Sunday, I finally found time to tackle banana nut bread times four. I had a dozen bananas that had finally ripened to the point where it was use them or lose them. Mom always said you want to use bananas when they’re almost too ripe, right before they go bad. Well, these had a lot of brown spots on their peels and they were nice and soft inside, so they were at their prime, presumably, for making bread. Also, I wasn’t interested in trashing a dozen bananas just because I was overwhelmed at the thought of making four loaves of bread in one afternoon. My ADHD mind becomes very anxious when I start focusing on things like that and it resists very, very hard. Score — Determination: 1 and ADHD: 0.
I made a loaf for Lauren, one for us and two to give out as gifts. The gift loaves (the prettier two) are still sitting on the counter from yesterday. I’m rethinking giving them as gifts. Maybe I’ll try again next year, when, hopefully, I’ll be better prepared and use one of the many delivery services to get them to their destinations promptly. Or I could just threaten to use a delivery service, and then David will insist on delivering them. Ha! Anyway, Lauren took her loaf home last night. I’m pretty sure you can freeze these, so hopefully, they won’t go to waste.
I also made Aunt Frankie’s Cherry Pie on Sunday. I was supposed to make that at Christmas, just like the banana nut loaves. Oh well, better late than never.
Lastly, I made New Year’s Eve dinner for Sunday Supper — a stuffed pork tenderloin, something I’d never attempted before. One of my goals this year is to make new-to-me recipes. If you have any suggestions or favorite recipes you think I should try, please share! Unless it has lima beans or butter beans in it. I’m allergic. Probably. Or it’s a preference thing that I don’t have for lima or butter beans. Beets either. Though if you do really love these — really? Do people actually love these foods? If you do, please explain without using the word “preference” in your description. I’m intrigued. I did a lot of cooking last year, mostly with good results, so fingers crossed for this year! Of course I stayed away from food I think of as yucky. So there’s that. My goal is to try out one new recipe a week.
One of my major issues I need to work on this year is to stop getting too excited and overdo — like making too much banana nut bread or too much soup. Note to self: halve the soup recipe next year.
In that same vein, when I decided on stuffed pork tenderloin, I turned to Google. There were two different recipes for the stuffing mixture that caught my eye. They both looked delicious! What did I do? I combined both stuffing recipes into one, of course. The ingredients seemed compatible, so I figured what the hey! Do you know what happens when one uses two recipes for stuffing in one pork tenderloin? Yep, I made way too much and now I have leftover stuffing.
With the pork tenderloin, we had mashed potatoes, oven-roasted Brussel sprouts with onions, garlic, tomatoes and balsamic glaze drizzled on top. Also, I heated up a can of Grand’s biscuits. I’ll venture into homemade biscuit-making not this week. What I’m trying to say is — I was in the kitchen on Sunday ALL. DAY. LONG. The end result was a delicious dinner and pie and banana nut loaves! Even so, by the time it was all done, I, too, was done, so I don’t have any pictures of the dinner. I’m so glad I tried a new recipe, though, and now my family wants stuffed pork tenderloin again.
RECIPE LONG FORGOTTEN, RE-EMERGES
This past fall, Lauren came across Aunt Frankie’s cherry pie recipe in my files and thought we should make it for Thanksgiving. I suggested Christmas instead since I’d already promised Ryan homemade apple pie. So what if it turned out that we had cherry pie on the first Sunday of the New Year instead? Anyway, this time I didn’t confuse the types of canned milk I was supposed to use, and we had a beautiful cherry pie to enjoy for dessert (read full story below.) I know Aunt Frankie didn’t come up with this recipe on her own, but in my mind it will always be hers. Also, because I wasn’t interested in making homemade pie crust (I make a damned good one borrowed from an internet recipe, as it turns out), I bought a ready-made graham cracker crust, because life is too short not to use shortcuts when it makes sense.
THE STORY BEHIND AUNT FRANKIE’S CHERRY PIE
The story about how I came by this recipe is — the first time I left my ex-husband, I stayed with Mom’s sister, my Aunt Frankie, in East Texas. She made pie for me and gave me the recipe. This made my visit worth every minute I was there. She also taught me how to cut up and fry chicken. Bonus! Aunt Frankie is truly one of those great cooks who I’ll always aspire to be but will always fall just short. She’s talented without trying. I struggle with just about every dish I make! *sigh*
Later, (we’re still in 1985, y’all) after I returned home to my then husband after extended negotiations and promises made that things would be different, I tried my hand at cherry pie. Who knows why I confused Eagle Brand condensed milk with Carnation evaporated milk. You know what? That mix-up was a critical error, and the cherry pie failed miserably (much like my first marriage), and I never tried to make it again. Well, not until yesterday, when it turned out really good.
The fried chicken, however, was something I made pretty regularly while I was married to the ex, which is why I probably never made it after we divorced until last spring, when Lauren decided that I should put up or shut up about what good fried chicken I make that she’d always heard about but never actually tasted. Now that I’ve proven myself to her, David and Ry, I never have to make fried chicken again. I mean it really is good, but why create the mess when we have both Popeye’s Fried Chicken and KFC less than five minutes away? BTW, years after the divorce, the ex’s number three wife confided that he misses my fried chicken. Isn’t that sweet? No. Seriously, too effing bad. Is it wrong of me to feel good that he never gets to eat my fried chicken again?
I made a bet with myself that the cherry pie I made yesterday wouldn’t last through the night. We all had a slice after dinner. I wrapped the remaining half in plastic and put it in the fridge. But I was right. Ryan said he couldn’t find anything else to eat during the wee hours. Oh really. We have a refrigerator full of food and that’s the only thing he could find to eat? How about that. Both he and David want me to make it again. I told him I’d plan on making two pies for Valentine’s Day. One for Ry and the other for David and me…and I suppose we could share with Lauren if she’s around. Lauren, my daughter, find yourself a hot date for Valentine’s. ‘K?
THE MANMADE CONSTRUCT/CONSTRICTION OF TIME
I hope everyone is doing well this first Monday of January 2021. This post was supposed to go out early this morning, but after cooking and cleaning all day long and into Sunday evening, I figured I’d get up early today and get this post out. Then I woke up late. Still, it’s Monday, late Monday, but it still counts if I get this out today. You see how time works in my head, right?
After writing this, I’m making dinner (it’s already 8:20 PM!) Then I’m going to explore the new Discovery Plus channel that we signed up for, which premiered today. I’m terribly excited! If I get really ambitious, I’ll box up all the Christmas decorations that are in a pile in the front room just waiting for me. Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Maybe tomorrow.
FINALLY, THE RECIPE — TWEAKED
So here’s Aunt Frankie’s Cherry Pie recipe (with my notes) if you’re interested. Again, she probably didn’t create it and it’s fairly basic for a no bake/refrigerator cherry pie. My guess is that the crust recipe came from the internet or some other source, especially since Aunt Frankie never used a food processor that I’m aware of. Nor do I, even though that would have been nice to get for Christmas. Apparently, I was on the naughty list again with no chance of getting off it this year either.
You know what? Instead of using the pie crust recipe below, which I’m sure is just fine, Google “No Fail, Sour Cream Pie Crust” or just click on it and it will take you right to the site. You know it’s delicious pie crust when the dough tastes yummy even before you bake it, and that crust is amazing! I’d probably use that if I were inclined to make my own pie dough for cherry pie. It’s what I used for the apple pie last Thanksgiving. That didn’t make it through the night either. Just saying.
AUNT FRANKIE’S CHERRY PIE
Pie Crust: flute edges
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1 Tbsp. sugar (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 Tbsp. butter, well chilled and cut into small pieces
- 4 Tbsp. Crisco, well chilled and in pieces
- 3 Tbsp. ice-cold water or vodka*
- In a food processor or medium bowl combine the flour, sugar (if using), and salt.
- Add the butter and the shortening or lard. If using a food processor, add only half of the butter and pulse to combine until the mixture looks like corn meal. Add the remaining butter and pulse a few times for some pea-size chunks. If making by hand, use a fork, two knives, or your fingers to work the fats into the flour mixture until it looks like corn meal with a few pea-size chunks in it and some chunks of dough starting to hold together.
- Quickly stir in the water or vodka* until a dough forms (you may need to add another tablespoon of ice-cold water if the air is very dry). Keep stirring the mixture until a ball of dough forms. Once there is a ball of dough with some bits of cornmeal-looking bits on the bottom, knead the dough lightly in the bowl to bring it together.
- Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and pat it into a disc about 6 inches across. Wrap it in the plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
- Put the dough disc on a well floured surface (this dough is extra tender at this point and will require a fair amount of flour to roll out – that’s okay, it’s designed to pick up more flour as it is rolled out) and roll it to desired thickness, being careful to turn the dough 90 degrees after each roll to make sure it isn’t sticking. If it does start to stick, lift up dough and throw a bit of flour underneath.
Makes enough Perfectly Flaky Pie Dough for 1 single-crust pie or tart.
*Using vodka in place of water adds extra tenderness (and flakiness) since alcohol-heavy vodka contains less water by volume than does water, so there is less water to develop the gluten – and toughness – in the flour.
Roll out ½ of the dough and put into the bottom of a 9” pan. Flute around the top with a fork and make holes in bottom of crust with fork. Cover with a double layer of aluminum foil and add dried beans to use as a weight. Bake at 400 degrees until browned (15 minutes.) Discard beans and foil. Cool completely before adding filling.
- ½ pint heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond flavoring or 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 14 oz. can Eagle Brand Milk (cold)
- 1/3 C. Lemon Juice (cold)
- 1 8 oz. package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
- 1 can of Comstock cherry pie filling (chilled)
Whip heavy cream, sugar and almond flavoring and cream cheese. Fold into milk and lemon juice mixture. Pour into cooled pie shell. Refrigerate until mixture is firm (about 4 hours.) Add can of cherries on top. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
When I visited Aunt Frankie in East Texas in 1985, she made this pie! Amazing!
Also when I made it, I tweaked a couple of things which I think enhanced and simplified this recipe. First of all, Lauren and I couldn’t find Comstock cherry pie filling, so we used Lucky Leaf brand instead. I added about a quarter cup of granulated sugar and a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon to the canned cherries because they were pretty tart. That seemed to tame the tartness. I suggest you taste whatever pie filling you choose ahead of time and adjust the sugar content according to your taste.
Also, instead of making pie dough, I used a ready-made graham cracker crust. I bet a chocolate cookie crust would be delicious, too, not that I’ve tried that. Lastly, do you know what ½ a pint is? One cup. So I have no idea why Aunt Frankie didn’t just tell me to use one cup of heavy whipping cream. It’s those kinds of things that create chaos in my head. Just saying. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
Also music. I don’t think Warrant’s talking about Aunt Frankie’s cherry pie. I could be wrong. Aunt Frankie was pretty hot back in the day! Also, I think this is an 80’s song, maybe early 90’s, so…let’s do this!