Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Family Farm















 "Corn Harvest" by Leslie Randall was reproduced full page in the September 1944 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. 

I love this painting so much that I was tempted to cut it out of the magazine and frame it except that I am wholeheartedly opposed to harvesting pages from the really old magazines in my collection.  When I see pages for sale on eBay from them I want to steal the seller's scissors and remind them that once these old magazines are gone they're gone forever.

This painting was on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1942. It speaks to my heart, probably because my father was raised in a farming family and my sisters and I were raised hearing the stories of farming.

To me, there is something almost sacred about a family farm and it hurts to see so many disappearing in our country. I guess it's why I follow so many of the homesteading bloggers and hope that one good thing to come out of this pandemic time is that more people are turning to growing their own food.

I remember one hot summer afternoon twenty years ago when my father and I sat on the front porch and talked about the book I was writing about two families of farmers. I took page after page of notes as he reminisced, giving me authentic details I had questions about. 

Then we started talking about so many farms being foreclosed on that year.  Daddy got almost emotional, telling me that it could only hurt our country when small farmers were losing their farms to the big industrial conglomerates. It really bothered him. And our conversation stuck with me.

I know he would be proud of the young adults today who are trying to raise as much of the food for their family as they can. His father would be, too. 


The hay appeareth, and the tender grass showeth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. [Proverbs 27:25] The Book was made for those who live on the land.

David Grayson in The Countryman's Year, 1936


[I don't know why there's such a gap between the picture and the following paragraphs. It's not that way on my draft.] 

Friday, September 25, 2020

All Dressed Up


                                            [ad from Harper's Bazaar September 1942]


I'm all dressed up with no place to go.

      Even put on my favorite chapeau.

No church, no theater,

     No Frist Art Museum.

Can't visit Mamam and Papa,

     Not in this world, dear me.

So I'll fly away to Paris

     And join Armand and Reine-Marie.

I'm told they're wise as ever

     Via mon cher Louise.

Home sweet home is nice for PJs and jeans,

     But for really dressing up there's always Paree.


Wishing you all a good book and time to read it.




Thursday, September 17, 2020

Nathalie Dupree's Mint Julep Meatloaf

 There aren't many cookbooks in my cookbook library that make me cry.


But I cry every time I read Nathalie Dupree's recipe for Mint Julep Meatloaf from her Matters of Taste cookbook, a cookbook of personal stories based on the 27 menus included in her early PBS show of the same name.


Nathalie Dupree, recently called by Garden & Gun magazine the Doyenne of Southern Cooking, started Rich's Cooking School in the large Atlanta department store in 1975 and her fifteenth cookbook was recently published. I have seven of her cookbooks that I use all the time. 


Hers and Lee Bailey's would be the last cookbooks to go if ever forced to winnow down my collection to two authors. (That's my maternal grandfather in a snapshot by Lee's stack of cookbooks. He--my grandfather, not Lee--owned a butcher shop in the small town where my mother grew up.)


Matters of Taste is a book of personal stories along with recipes, some sad stories, some funny, and one for Cold Curried Tomato Soup that is the sexiest love story I've ever read in a cookbook. But her Mint Julep Meatloaf story makes my heart ache for every child who ever heard angry arguments between their parents, including my own children.



Her parents quarreled all the time when they were together. She thought her father was leaving them all soon. He always said he was going to...The little girl felt it was her fault that her parents constantly argued. If she left home her father might not leave...Her parents were still shouting when she left the house, and no one asked her where she was going...After a day of trying to find a house that looked like a new little girl might be wanted, she returned home...It was late when she walked in, and the heat of the day was gone. No one said hello. No one had missed her...Her dad left soon after and never came home again.


 The little girl grew up and all her life believed that good food is a way to nourish people.

When she moved to another country, she served American meatloaf, macaroni, and greens to her exiled friends. When she was left alone, she cooked onions to comfort her in her loneliness. And always, she kept gingersnaps on hand and a jar of peanut butter. All of them, when she need them, soothed and comforted her.

 To all the children who probably aren't getting off a school bus this fall of pandemic, may the cookie jar be full and their homes filled with love and laughter. To all their parents, here is the Doyenne of Southern Cooking's recipe for Mint Julep Meatloaf that she attributed to Charles Carden Snow. The recipe says to make two loaves; I've done that but this time just made one large one. 

4 pounds lean ground meat [she uses 1/2 beef and 1/2 lamb but I use sirloin or very lean ground beef]

2 eggs, beaten slightly

1/8 teaspoon curry powder

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 onion, chopped

1 beef bouillon cube, crushed

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 large handful fresh mint leaves, dried and crushed [I use fresh mint, slivered, not dried except in winter]

1 cup chili sauce [divided into 1/4 cups]

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup bourbon

Garnish: fresh mint leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, F. Combine meat, eggs, curry, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, onion, bouillon, garlic, mint, and 1/4 cup of the chili sauce. Form the meat mixture into two thick, oval-shaped loaves. Pour the water into a greased baking dish that has a cover. Gently place the loaf into the dish. With a tablespoon, make a deep indentation down the center of each of the loaves. Combine the bourbon and 1/4 cup of the chili sauce and fill the indentations, pouring any remaining mixture over the loaves. Cover and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Uncover, spread each loaf with 1/4 cup of the remaining chili sauce, and bake uncovered until brown. Remove from pan. Garnish with mint leaves. Freeze one loaf and serve the other.


This meatloaf is a far cry from the dry onion soup mix meatloaf I grew up on. Mama's was good, almost any homemade meatloaf is, but I went on to two better recipes and now this one that we think tops them all. No need to get the ketchup bottle out for eating this meatloaf. The sauce is sensational! 



Thank you so much to so many who emailed me that they understood my reasons for turning off comments here at this stage of my life.  

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Concerning Blogging, and Quatre Epices

 Lately the world has been too much with me and in a desperate desire to find tranquility of mind and spirit, I'm pulling back my involvement in social media to a comfortable level. As a small part of this I'm suspending comments at both my blogs and, for an as yet undetermined time, will be posting only as a personal journal of my thoughts and interests.

[Tuppy thinks to herself] Seventy-seven. What had happened to the years? Old age seemed to have taken her unaware and totally unprepared. Tuppy Armstrong was not old. Other people were old, like one's own grandmother, or characters in books. She thought of Lucilla Eliot, in The Herb of Grace. The epitome, one would have thought, of a perfect matriarch.

                            from Under Gemini by Rosamunde Pilcher

I am now the same age as Tuppy and am examining how I want to spend the energy and hours I may have left. We live in unsettled times, to put it mildly, and owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to weigh how we want to spend precious time that will not always be there. 

One thing I don't want to spend my hours on anymore is elevated stress following the political story of the day on Facebook, or, God forbid, ever again participating in what Mrs. Minerva called, "tedious and unprofitable discussion...clear from the outset that neither side was going to budge an inch." 

Good grief, how such discussions drain one! 

Tuppy refers to Lucilla Eliot as truly old and maybe I am too because I agree with Lucilla in one of my favorite books, The Herb of Grace (American title: Pilgrim's Inn):

Lucilla knew always...that it was homemaking that mattered. Every home was a brick in the great wall of decent living that men erected over and over again as a bulwark against the perpetual flooding in of evil. But women made the bricks, and the durableness of each civilization depended upon their quality, and it was no good weakening oneself for the brick-making by thinking too much about the flood.

                      Elizabeth Goudge's The Herb of Grace/Pilgrim's Inn

I've come to realize that in this stage of my life I need to be careful to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16). I will still try to see what's happening in my dear blog friends' lives during R & R time, how could I not? But I thought it only fair to warn you that I'm closing comments at both blogs in case you don't want to bother reading.

In order to have a few pictures here I'm including a recipe for one of my favorite seasonings, Quatre Ă©pices from James Beard's Love and Kisses and a Halo of Truffles. Note my own new truffle pig in the pictures!


Mix together 1 1/8 cups ground white pepper, 3 1/2 tablespoons ground nutmeg, 3 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger, and 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cloves. 

 Keep tightly sealed.

 Use with roasted and braised meats, stews, soups, sweet potatoes, gingersnaps or whatever your heart desires, because James would.



Sending love and kisses to you! God bless and keep you!


Do not be afraid, stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today...The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

                       Exodus 14:13-14