Buttermilk Biscuits

 

These are great hot out of the oven but also later in the garden with a fresh green onion. My all time favorite is homemade apricot preserves~to go with a fresh hot biscuit

Biscuits are easy to make, my grandmother Montgomery made them every single morning for breakfast for her family. One of the sweetest things I remember about my childhood is waking up at her house with the smell her biscuits baking. She always had homemade fruit preserves,  back then everyone made their own preserves and jellies. I got to have a little coffee with cream and sugar too. (I poured it my saucer just like Granddad and let it cool and drank it from there). I liked being at their house, it just wrapped itself around you with good smells, soft cuddly beds, the sound of the train whistle, and all of that sweet love from Grandmother and Granddad. 

Buttermilk Biscuits  (preheat oven to 375 degrees)
2 c flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. soda
2 tsp. baking powder
4 T. Crisco
3/4 c. buttermilk

mix dry ingredients well, then using a pastry blender
or two knives, cut in the shortening until it resembles                                                coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir only until mixed.

Form dough into a ball, roll out on a floured board 1/2″
thick and cut with biscuit cutter.  (I sprinkle a few drops
of water on counter, place a piece of wax paper down,
flour it and roll my dough out on that. It is easy to clean up.
Place biscuits on pan that has been lightly greased with
Canola oil. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.

Row Boat

 

Row Boat

this miniature boat is 10″ long and was a ready to build kit. The many pieces were cut to perfect size so it was a pleasure putting it together.

When I was a child, the two things I wanted most were a play house and a real boat, (followed closely by a cave and a tree house). I had ridden in a rented boat at the park in Christoval, and could just imagine my family having one of our own. Since that time I have owned four boats, We bought an old green aluminum Lone Star boat from Mrs. Furrey in Christoval for $5. It was a good boat that was easy to row and not bad about tipping over. (except that one time). After many years it ‘disappeared’. Then I bought an aluminum boat near San Angelo for $75, and it had a trolling motor. (we were moving up in the boat world) This one was named the Dinktums. Later came the River Mouse, the abandoned one we found at the barn and I restored. This picture today is a little boat kit Dan and Debbie gave me to put together. It had no telling how many pieces but they were all cut exactly right so fit together nicely. It was like a salesman sample copied from real plans for an actual row boat. I stained it and finished it (like decoupage) with several coats of polyurethane varnish. It is named ‘Schatzie’ after their dog. I added the dock, posts, fish net, and the rod and reel. It is an interesting piece, I have it on a lamp table by my chair and never get tired of looking at it.  Some minatures are hard to dust, this is one of them.

Breakfast Tacos

fry a few extra tortillas to finish up on, you’re going to love this! Break off chunks and eat with your fingers, that’s how it is done ~

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~

Breakfast Taco
Hard fry corn tortillas, (two per serving) 
1 c cooked pinto beans, mashed and seasoned with garlic powder & salt
2 scrambled eggs (add slice of American Cheese while cooking)
1 large avocado mashed and seasoned with garlic powder & salt
shredded cheddar cheese
1 c  shredded lettuce
1 chopped tomato
sour cream dressing
Fry the tortillas in half an inch of oil until crisp (not browned), drain well
Spread the mashed beans on tortilla, lay another tortilla on top
put 2 T scrambled eggs on next, sprinkle on some shredded cheese , then
lettuce and tomatoes,scoop some avocado on and then top it all off with a spoon
of sour cream dressing.  A sprig of cilantro for a grand finish~

Miniature Carved Chair

 

When she started on a project, she didn’t want to stop, she never got tired, sometimes I needed a nap~

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. 

twine is great for chair bottoms on the miniatures, it is the fun part~

 

Art Lessons

working on his project

this was a mama painting for sure, to keep for myself

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’.

Cow Skull

 

Old cow skull

a cow skull makes a nice piece of art for the wall

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. 

Billy Goat Skull

This is the skull from a billy goat, his horns are 2′ across

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~

Old Cowboy

 

The Cowboy Hat

you can make anyone what ever you like just by changing their hat

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.)

 

Peanut Brittle Candy

Peanut Brittle

this is an all time favorite candy, easy to make but you have to watch it closely toward the end. I usually take mine off the burner just one mark under 300 degrees .

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~

Peanut Brittle
(first thing, butter a cookie sheet~)
2 c. sugar
3 or 4 c. raw peanuts
3/4 c. Karo Light corn syrup
1/4 c. water
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp soda (don’t add this yet)
In heavy sauce pan, mix sugar, peanuts, syrup, water and salt
cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly to hard crack stage
(one mark under 300 degrees on candy thermometer. Get it off the burner right now!
Add soda and stir a few seconds, it will foam up, that is good.
Pour onto buttered cookie sheet and don’t try to smooth it or disturb it. 
When completely cool, bend cookie sheet slightly and the candy
will come loose, break into big generous pieces.
(the secret to making candy is to use a very heavy sauce pan,
I use my Presto cooker without the lid) Remember, only make one recipe
at a time, if you want more, wash pan and start another batch
If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can pick one up
at Wal Mart, they aren’t expensive and you will use it often.

Texas Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets in the Hill Country

as they say spring time is ‘when Texas has it’s Sunday britches on’

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.

Model T Ford

Uncle Bob and Dan

Dan was 4 years old and ready to go again.

Uncle Bob, Dan and Little Joe

this car got lots of use, everyone loved to hear it coming, it meant a ride. Looks like Little Joe got to go too

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~

Devils Food Cake

this cake is moist and slightly chewy, the icing is smooth and creamy

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 eggs
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
blended.
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.

Pet Java Monkey

Junior was part of our family for several years. It was an experience to say the least~

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~