These crisp breakfast tacos are a real treat. I always keep small packages of pinto beans cooked and in the freezer. I also freeze packages of corn tortillas and when I need them, I can just slip a knife between them and pop out however many I want. This is a good supper time meal too. Forget the fork, break them apart and eat them with your fingers, a little messy but just don’t look~
This miniature chair and table was a project my little granddaughter Elizabeth made a few years ago. She had watched me carve and was sure she could make a chair. When it was starting to look good, she was hooked. She kept going and made the table and all the accessories. She decided she would make this for my friend Pat, because ‘Pat didn’t have a little chair’. The gift box is filled with pictures she scanned and reduced down to a tiny size, they were mostly of her and her good friend Natalie, Pat’s granddaughter. There is a Hershey bar, a phone, a note pad, reading glasses, and a coffee mug. She was able to do the whole job with little help. Pat was thrilled with her special gift. Later when Elizabeth went back home to Albuquerque she made bunk beds, tables, and all kinds of miniatures.
In 1963, we had a seven year old in school and a two year old baby at home. I was painting every day, it helped keep me from being lonesome. (work and projects always make me happy). PJ wanted to do whatever I was doing, so I let him paint with me. I could give him a brush and a canvas and he liked it. One day I saw a perfect picture of him working in his pajamas and I painted this ‘mama picture’, something to keep for myself. Both our boys have been the subject in many paintings. They were always available and willing. Being mama is the best of all blessings, and now I am mama to my little ‘ four legged babies’.
This is an old steer skull I found in the pasture. First the buzzards, then the bugs, finally staying out in the weather for a couple of years, and it was nice enough to work on. Fine horns, nice bone structure, it was like it had been hand carved. I can just imagine what a beautiful creature he once was. I sanded it down until it was smooth, stained it, then put on several coats of polyurethane varnish , sanding it between each coat. I painted a cattle drive scene on the forehead, then added leather strings and turkey feathers.
A friend who knew I liked to work on the skulls left a goat head on my front porch one morning, It was way way too fresh! I held my breath while I carried it out behind the rock fence and left it for a year. Then I found it there one day and made a wall hanging from it. It is a beautiful skull, I liked working with it. I hope this one lived a very long time and died of old age. I like goats~
This old cowboy wasn’t really a cowboy at all, he just put on the hat for me that day. He usually wore a hard hat, he worked in the oil fields in West Texas on drilling rigs. He was my daddy, Jack Elder, and was the subject in several paintings. When someone has a wrinkled and weathered face, those are the best to paint. He could be a farmer, roughneck, sea captain, or cowboy, rough and rugged. I could just put him on a different hat and in a different setting and make him whatever I wanted. My favorite painting was always the one I was doing right at the moment. I have always been a landscape artist, all the other things were just for fun. If you can wake up every morning with a project, you will be excited all your life. (This morning it is to make some peanut patties.)
In 2007, a friend got sick and a fund raiser was held to help with his medical expenses. There was a delicious bar-b-que dinner and an auction. I made 10 recipes of Peanut Brittle, put it in baskets with pretty fabric liners, and they auctioned this candy off for over $500 . Big surprise! People like peanut brittle, they like homemade candy and they like to help their friends. You might want to try this for your next fund raiser, it only took me two afternoons to make all this candy~
When I think of the excitement of July 4th fireworks, bombs bursting in air, the crowd holding it’s breath for the next shower and explosion of colors, it is one of the things we all love. Or the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, where the beautiful balloons drift into the air to fill the sky with colorful, billowing shapes, puffing as they rise into the heavens. Everywhere you look, the sky is filled with wonderment. We all cheer and are thrilled by this experience. Drive through the Texas Hill Country in the spring and see the bluebonnets and wildflowers. This is the best of all. Around every curve, a new scene of beauty. It takes your breath away. This is a drive you need to share with others.There are massive live oak trees, mesquites just starting to put out their bright green lacy leaves, the red sandy roads with puddles of water from a recent shower, it paints a splendid picture. There are miles and miles to see all over Central Texas, the best being from Mason to Stonewall. This is the Texas Hill Country. This is the Lord’s Work.
In the early 50′s, Bob McWhorter bought two old Model T Fords. One was a 1923 coupe and the other a 1926 touring car. They were in good shape, Mr. Hoover, the druggist here was the original owner of one and still had the bill of sale. Bob completely restored them, even taking the wheels apart and (with a lot of help), sanding the wooden spokes and refinishing them like new. Then he had a shop in San Angelo make new tops and reupholster the seats. He would take them out for a spin, give kids a ride or drive them in a parade. Have you ever heard one~ ‘waa waa waa waaaaaa, chu-Chug, chu-Chug, beep beep~beep beep, a nice soft pleasant sound. Bob enjoyed his cars for years. One day he called my two boys over to his house, one was 17 and and the other was 13.) Aunt Lucille had two envelopes and let them each choose one. Inside were the titles to the cars. Those kids came home yelling and screaming! Uncle Bob had given them the cars.They couldn’t believe it. Bob also gave them the barn he had built over at the farm to store them in. They took good care of their cars, anyone who rode in them got the ‘List of Rules’, don’t slam the door, and no rough stuff. One Sunday PJ wanted me to ride to church with him and I wasn’t wanting to at all~ no windows and ‘what about my hair’. He talked me into it and when we got to the the stop sign in the middle of town, the car died, It wouldn’t start. We could either get out and push it or he could walk the two miles back home to get my car. I got out and we pushed~after a short distance, it fired up and we made it to church. Thank goodness the street was empty that morning. It has been about 37 years and these cars are now now stored in his barn at Christoval. More on this subject later~
This is my one and only chocolate cake recipe. I never needed another one. It is easy to make, it is moist and slightly chewy, the icing is smooth and not grainy, and the toasted pecan on top is the prize. I always took this to the nursing home birthday parties, for those who couldn’t eat nuts, all they had to do was offer their pecan to someone else.
Devil’s Food Cake
2 c. sugar
½ c. shortening
½ c. cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. boiling coffee
½ c. buttermilk
2 c. flour
¼ tsp. Salt
1 ½ tsp soda
Cream sugar, shortening, cocoa well, then add the vanilla.
Add the hot coffee and then the buttermilk. Let cool slightly, then add the eggs and beat until mixed.
Mix dry ingredients and sift half into the
wet mixture, beat a few seconds, then add
remaining flour mixture. Mix until all is well
Use either sheet cake pan or two 8’ or 9’ round, cut wax paper to fit bottom of pan.(You can use two cupcake pans to make 24 cupcakes)
Grease pan lightly, then line bottom of pan with the wax paper and grease that. (don’t flour pans)
Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, test with toothpick, when it comes out clean, cake is done. (cup cakes take less time)
Turn out on towel to cool.Remember to remove the wax paper~ Frost when completely cool.
Fudge Mocha Icing
1 box powdered sugar or 3 1/2 cups
½ cup cocoa
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
6 T boiling coffee
6 T soft butter
Pecans~(microwave pecans on a paper plate for 1 minute, stir well and cook 1 more minute)
Mix sugar, cocoa and salt. Add vanilla
and hot coffee, stir until smooth. Add soft (not melted)
butter and beat until smooth and stiff enough to spread.
If too thick, add a few more drops of coffee. Remember,
It is better to have it too thick to start with than too
thin. Place one pecan half on top of each piece.
I told you about Junior Monkey in an earlier blog, he was more than a one trick pony. It was something new every day. He was a Java monkey and had a long straight tail and his hands had prehensile thumbs, just like a human hand. (some monkeys just have five fingers and no thmb) He used his tail for balance only. He was able to do everything with his hands and do it well. When he had grapes, he would carefully peel each one, remove the seeds and fill his jaws up, then take them out and eat them. He liked grasshoppers and crickets. Whatever he ate, he worked on it quite a bit, he enjoyed playing with his food. It was easy to read his moods. If he was happy, his hair went flat on the top of his head, he tilted his head back, half closed his eyes and made a sweet chattering sound with his teeth. Sometimes he got mad, when he had your car keys or sun glasses, and knew he was in trouble, that hair on his head went straight up, eyes wide open, pupils tiny as pinholes, screeching and showing his teeth. Pretty scary, you didn’t make eye contact, just looked away and started ’talking to someone’ who wasn’t there. Once I brought him to Austin to be in the water carnival at UT and afterward took him to a vet clinic to spend the night. The next morning when I went to pick him up, that guy was SO mad! Junior had opened the latch on his cage, then opened doors on several other cages. The room was destroyed. (I wasn’t the one responsible for locking him up) Once he ruined Mother’s kitchen with a sack of flour. The room was white and he was white. Junior liked his clothes and sat still while I painted his nails. He was interested in those nails, he would work all day on a hangnail. Monkeys like to groom each other (or anyone who is holding them). They are not looking for fleas, they don’t have those, but are picking tiny flecks of salt. This was always a loving time. When Junior went with Daddy to deliver fuel to the oil rigs, he wore green Phillip 66 overalls, and sat in the truck while Daddy was busy. He rolled the windows up and down, locked the doors, pushed all the buttons, (pulled the buttons off the radio) and sat on the steering wheel to watch and wait. He tore the rubber blades off the windshield wipers more than once. He was sweet and fun and we loved him, but as I said before, don’t ever consider getting a monkey. A puppy is a better choice~
Hemphill Wells in San Angelo invited me to have an art show and demonstration at their store in 1973, (the same time the San Angelo Roping Fiesta was being held at the fair grounds, the men roped, the wives shopped). I painted for a week and enjoyed every minute. People came to look and other artists came watch me paint the bluebonnets, landscapes and water scenes. By the third day, they were bringing their folding chairs and staying all day. (Mr. Russell wasn’t too happy, he had planed for it to be a time they would be shopping for pretty things on the fourth floor). This is one of the paintings, it is 24″ X 36″. Since I was painting under florescent lights, the colors seemed pale, I had to work to make them brilliant. Later when I came home I found all the pictures were extra bright and a little different from the norm. I was happy with the end results. I was invited back several times for demonstrations, something I looked forward to. I never taught art lessons but gave demonstrations along with the art shows. When people watch, they are inspired and they learn a lot of the tricks and techniques. I learned from an early age by watching my mother Elizabeth Elder. She was wonderful painter. If you pick up a brush and squeeze paint out on a pallet, I will be cheering you on!
These two oak trees are between Brushy Top and Eldorado Texas. This area is not quite in the Hill Country but it is where Texas starts looking good. It is more rugged than lush, good sheep and goat country, big ranches with many sections of land, oil and gas, fine people. We are 90 miles from the Mexican Border town of Del Rio. There are lots of scenes to paint, you just have to look for them. If you drive west you can end up in El Paso, 382 miles down the road with only a couple of towns in between. Some people move to Texas after driving down that highway, it is vast and remote, the clouds are spectacular and you feel a sense of peace. It is a world in itself. Get your camera and come to Texas~