Saturday, December 24, 2016

Waiting for Santa

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Mrs. Freeman's Pumpkin Fruitcake

Mrs. Freeman was a sweet lady who lived just across the fence from us when I was a child. In her upper 80's, she knew the names of all her neighbors. I loved to visit her and we would have long conversations as she poured jams and jellies into baby food jars. These would be gifts for neighbors along with the most delicious pumpkin fruitcake you ever put in your mouth. Each baked in a tomato soup can and wrapped in foil, then Christmas paper and ribbon- they were special gifts. I wish I had her recipe, but I was only 8 and didn't know the importance of such things! This one's from Taste of Home and I've made it many times. It's moist and delicious, filled with pecans and dates, raisins and cherries and none of that yucky citron that makes people hate fruitcake to begin with.

Pumpkin Fruitcake 
3/4 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup raisins
10 red candied cherries, chopped
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs; mix well. Stir in pumpkin. Combine the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Fold in the pecans, dates, raisins and cherries.
Spoon into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Drizzle over cake. Yield: 12 servings.
If you'd like to try baking in the cans, just like Mrs. Freeman... here's another recipe that would be great for gift giving, complete with directions for baking times in soup cans!

Walnut-Date Bread 
3/4 cup walnuts,finely chopped
1 cup sliced dates
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup boiling water
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
Combine nuts, dates,soda and salt in mixing bowl. Add shortening and boiling water. Let stand 15 minutes, stir to blend.
Beat eggs slightly, add vanilla. Sift in sugar and flour and stir until dry ingredients are moistened. (This is a very stiff mixture.) Add to date mixture, mixing until well blended.
Grease 4 soup cans (10 1/2 or 11 oz. size). Pour batter into cans,filling two thirds full. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 350° for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes longer or until center test done. Cool 15 minutes and remove from cans. Cool completely.

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold,
everything is softer and more beautiful."
Norman Vincent Peale

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sunshine Road

There's an old saying, "If you've forgotten the language of gratitude, you'll never be on speaking terms with happiness." I think that the holidays opens our eyes every year to the many blessings in our lives. We have a roof over our heads, food in the pantry and good health. Those are the Big Ones... or are they? Could you be happy if you didn't have a home, or you had to worry about where you next meal was coming from? What if you faced serious health issues, could you find gratitude anywhere in that?

On my way to town, I pass by Sunshine Road. Sounds like the perfect "Christmas Card Address," the kind that invokes memories of cozy homes with smoke curling out of the chimneys. In reality, it's one of the poorest parts of Benton County with small, ramshackle trailers. Many are without heat and running water. How could that be? Well, it just is. One of the residents of Sunshine Road rides with me to and from town occasionally. She walks, in the rain, in the cold, in the heat of summer to work at Wendy's. I'd say Mary is my age, she has a grandson the same age as mine that lives with her. She's always cheerful, carrying her backpack and sometimes loaded down with sacks of groceries. A smile on her face, she told me once with pride that she owns her trailer.

It's in our hearts where gratitude lives and grows. We either feed it daily or we let it die a slow, horrible death. Look around you this holiday season and you will see many opportunities to feed the gratitude in your heart and in the heart of others. 

I'm counting my blessings this morning, I bet you are too! Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Back Roads

September is here and it's a great time to get out and enjoy the cooler weather, autumn color and the quirky places that are down country roads no matter where you live. "The Pig Trail'... that's what the locals call the road that many use to go to and from Razorback games, is a breathtaking drive. Curvy roads twist and turn, around every bend the historic road passes waterfalls, rock formations and scenic mountain views! The Oark General Store sets off highway 215 in Johnson County waiting for customers to take a step back in time. Listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, the oldest store in Arkansas has been there since 1890. It serves the community with everything they might need as well as being a great place to get a bite to eat.

Sometimes you just have to turn off the main road and see where life takes you. You might just be missing out on a great place to fish or maybe a farmer who sells fresh eggs or extra veges from his garden. In Arkansas they still do that, you'll see a handmade sign nailed to a fence out front!

Daddy, his brother Walton and cousins Luster and Herman
(deer hunting season, 1949)

I inherited the love of backroads from my Dad. He knew every dirt road in Boone County and people all along those roads that he hunted with. It's almost deer season in Arkansas and hunters are getting out in the woods, placing their deer stand and feeders in anticipation of November opening day. It was my Dad's favorite time of the year and he looked forward to being in the "deer woods." There's a sereneness to the woods, just the sound of your footsteps. You are alone with your thoughts, it's a time to reflect on what's really important in your life. 

I love to take short cuts, the backroads that cut off miles or time to my trips. No matter where we have lived, I have found an easier path to the places I go most often. My trip to town now is mostly country. It takes 5-10 minutes tops to get into Rogers and then maybe another 5 minutes to the grocery store. If I go 2nd Street to Walnut there are six stoplights. If I go the back way...there is only one. I save time and gas. I like that way best!

When we lived in Springdale, it was twice that many lights if I went the path that all the other "rabbits" followed. But I didn't go that way. If I went down Silent Grove Road, by the old pump station I got to see a pretty little creek and the trees hung over the road like a lane in Merry Old England. I've never been to England, but I have seen pictures and they look just like the back way!

It won't be long and the leaves will begin their big show. The Sumacs first, turning a brilliant red. The Dogwoods follow suit shortly after, they already are covered with the red berries that will provide food for the birds and deer this winter. It's been so hot and dry, we don't really know how much color we'll see out of the oaks, maples and poplars. Normally, you can look across our mountain and see all shades of red, gold and orange. I have my fingers crossed that the recent rains will make a difference!

 No matter where you live, get the map out and plan some little day trips to the pretty parts of your state. Go down some country roads that you haven't traveled. The things you see and the people you meet add that something special that makes life interesting!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Loved Life And All Challenges

About the time I think I've told you everything that's stored in my memory bank,

I realize there's more! A trip back "home" to Springfield, Missouri yesterday was like walking down memory lane. 

It was filled with family and food,

really good Mexican food!

We drove by a million place where we've had coffee,

or spent nickles when I was a kid.

Places where I was spelling bee champion,

and places that inspired me to dream about what my life could be.

I walked these halls as a freshman feeling very small and unprepared for what life held for me. Yesterday when I stood in front of Central, somehow I felt 14 again. It was 1966, I had yet to meet the love of life, ahead of me was motherhood and travel, elation and despair, growth and loss.

I miss my brother. I miss talking to him on the phone and email. We never had the chance to text each other, he would have taken to that like a duck to water...he was like that!

He was the kind of person who loved to learn new things. He loved cool cars, pressed jeans and once he ate 8 hot dogs, one after the other!

Marble pyramid made by Hobert Sheldon Risley February 1960, age 13.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Happy Birthday Stephanie!

Today is our daughter Stephanie's birthday and she may be feeling like, "How can I possibly be 45?" I can't help but give a little motherly advice, after all I can see the big picture now! Somewhere in my 40's was when the insecurities of my youth began to melt away. I wasn't a perfect size 10 but I realized that being a good person made me far more happy than how I looked in my jeans. I grew up.

I had a new found confidence from the things that I had learned, experience is a valuable thing in life. I could draw from a bank of wisdom to help me with the problems that came with  raising kids and facing the daily grind. My coping skills improved.

It's hard to imagine that there will ever be a day when you can do what you want to do, but with each decade there is more "me time." One day it will just happen and you can go for a pedicure... and not feel a bit guilty!

Your 40's are when you realize that there is going to be a time when it's just the two of you again. Not exactly like when you were in your 20's, but even better! Ahead of you are sunrises and sunsets, whole days with nothing to do but read or nap! Hang on, it's comin'....

Monday, July 4, 2016

Nutty Monkey Memories

Happy 4th.... hope you are celebrating the day with something that sparkles, whether it's the people in your life or some fireworks! I can't imagine any bans this year on the poppers with all the rain we've had across the U.S.

I don't remember ever not having fireworks on the 4th when I was growing up in Springfield. We'd hit the firework stands on the way to Grandma's, my brother choosing Black Cats and bottle rockets and me... sparklers, smoke bombs and the little chicken that layed the fire eggs! You know the one, it's on everyone's "must have list." Well, maybe it's not...

Our GRANDsons make their selection and there's not a single Hen Laying Eggs or Ground Bloom Flower or Nutty Monkey. No sparklers, no Cascading Fountain. Only firecrackers and bombs. Maybe one fountain, but it's called Death Bomb Fountain or something like that. We're invited over for fireworks so I'll be nice and try my best not to complain.... I don't think anyone could hear me anyway!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Grunt, Slump or Buckle?

Arkansas strawberries and rhubarb are showing up now in the local Farmer's Markets. May will bring on peaches followed by blueberries then raspberries. My heart is beating faster just writing this! If you love fresh fruit like I do, you can't wait to bake something yummy for dessert that requires a topping of ice cream! Ozark women have been making cobblers since pioneer days. All it takes is a little fruit... fresh, dried or canned and in two shakes of a lambs tail you have a hot bubbly, dessert on the table!

Simmer sweetened dumplings in with juicy berries and you've made a Grunt.

Blueberry Grunt
4 cups blueberries, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup light molasses
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup milk
About 1/2 cup whipping cream (optional)
1. In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat, frequently stir blueberries, 1/3 cup sugar, molasses, lemon peel, lemon juice, nutmeg, cloves, and 1/2 cup water until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until the berries have released their juices and the flavors are blended, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. With your fingers or a pastry blender, rub or cut the butter into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form. Add the milk and stir just until mixture forms a soft dough (do not overmix).
3. Drop 1/4-cup portions of the dough into the simmering fruit mixture. Cover the frying pan and simmer until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the dumplings comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Spoon the warm dumplings and fruit equally into four bowls and drizzle the portions with cream if desired.
Makes 4 servings

Make a cake with fruit mixed into the batter or spooned on top, finished with a crumble topping and you've made a Buckle!

Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) blueberries
Crumb Topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter or margarine -- softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 teaspoons hot water (1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons)
Heat oven to 375º. Grease square pan, 9×9×2 inches, or round pan, 9×1-1/2". Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, shortening, milk and egg; beat 30 seconds. Carefully stir in blueberries. Spread batter in pan; sprinkle with Crumb Topping.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Drizzle with Glaze. Serve warm.
Mix all ingredients until crumbly.
Mix all ingredients until of drizzling consistency.
Printable Recipe

A Crisp is a baked dessert, the fruit filling covered with a crunchy topping crumbled over the top.

Basic Fruit Crisp
6 cups fruit, peeled and sliced such as Peaches, Apples, Pears, Plumcots, Berries
1/4 cup Dried Cranberries
1/3 cup Sugar
1/2 tablespoon Meyer Lemons juice freshly squeezed
1/2 teaspoon Meyer Lemons zest
1 cup Quick Cooking Oats
1/3 cup Brown Sugar firmly packed
2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
4 tablespoons Butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 inch square or rectangular pan.
In a large bowl, toss fruit with sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest.
Lay fruit into pan and set aside.
Mix together oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles small peas.
Sprinkle over fruit mixture and bake approximately 30 minutes or until bubbly and crisp. Serves 6
Printable Recipe

To make a Slump, drop the dough over the fruit and cook on the stove top!

Stone Fruit Slump
4-1/2 pounds mixed plums, nectarines, or peaches, fresh or frozen, pitted
(8 to 9 cups or 3 pounds prepped), see cook's notes
3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsifted (2 1/2 ounces) cake flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup cold buttermilk
To peel peaches, drop in boiling water for 30 seconds, then pull off peel. They may need a little more time in the boiling water if they aren't good-and-ripe. Or instead of peeling peaches, try washing them well and then piercing them gently with a fork. Once they are slices and baked, the peel will fall apart into the fruit and add a rosy color to the dessert.
1. Prepare fruit filling: Slice fruit over bowl so you can collect all juices. Slice each fruit into 10 or 12 pieces, depending on size of the fruit and drop the slices into the bowl. Separately, rub sugar, cornstarch and salt together in small bowl, then add to the fruit and gently toss to coat. Gently stir in lemon juice, then scrape the fruit and juices into a 10- to 12-inch nonreactive, deep skillet or a wide 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven. Whatever pan you choose, it must have a tight-fitting lid. Let stand for 15 minutes. During this time, the fruit will release some of its juices and the sugar will begin to dissolve.
2. Bring fruit mixture to a low simmer over medium-low heat. You will need to stir occasionally to prevent the juice from sticking to the bottom of the pan, but do so gently to avoid breaking down the pieces of fruit. Simmer for about 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
3. Prepare dumplings: Whisk the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cardamom together in a bowl. Add butter and toss until evenly coated. Using your fingertips or pastry blender, cut in the butter (until butter is the size of peas). Add buttermilk and stir just until mixture comes together; it will be a slightly wet dough.
4. In eight portions, place dough atop fruit, distributing the dumplings evenly over the surface. Return to the stovetop and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and continue simmering for 18 to 22 minutes or until dumplings are puffy and cooked through to the center. Remove cover and let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Sadly, slumps do not keep well. Serve immediately.
Serves 8
Printable Recipe

These are from an old War Eagle Mill Cookbook...

Apricot Patty Cake Cobbler
3/4 to 1 1/4 cups packed powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. ground mace or nutmeg
3/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
6 cups apricot quarters (about 2 lb. whole fruit)
Patty cake crust (recipe follows)
In a large bowl, combine sugar, mace, almond extract and orange peel. Add apricots and mix. If the apricots are firm and underripe, they will require the maximum amount of sugar. If the apricots are ripe and sweet, start with 3/4 cup sugar. Scrape mixture into a buttered shallow 1 1/2 to 2 quart casserole and spread level.
With lightly floured hands, tear off lumps (3 to 4 T. size) of the patty cake crust and pat into cakes about 1/4 inch thick; lay them as shaped over the fruit, covering fairly evenly (a few gaps are fine). When all the dough is in place, press down lightly to join portions.
Bake cobbler in a 375 degree oven until fruit is bubbling and crust is well browned, 50 to 60 minutes. If using a 1 1/2 quart casserole, set on a large sheet of foil in case mixture boils over. Let stand at least 10 minutes or until cool. Scoop fruit and crust into bowls, adding more sugar to taste if needed.
Patty Cake Crust
In a food processor or bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 6 t. butter cut into thin slices, 1/4 cup cream cheese (2 oz.), cut into small pieces; 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel; and 1/4 tsp. ground mace. Whirl or rub with your fingers until mixture forms fine crumbs. Add 1 large egg yolk and whirl or stir until dough holds together. Press into a ball.
Printable Recipe

Creeping Apple Cobbler
5 lg. apples, peeled and cored
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teas. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled to room temp.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teas. baking powder
3/4 cup milk
Adjust oven rack to middle and preheat overn to 375º.
Fit processor with slicing disk. Cut apples in half; fit them in the feed tube and slice. Remove apples to a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon and toss until well blended.
With a pastry brush, coat the sides of 9 x 12 shallow baking dish with some of the melted butter. Pour the remaining butter into the dish and tilt it back and forth until its bottom is completely covered with the butter.
Sift together the flour, 1 cup sugar and baking powder into a medium. size bowl. With a wooden spoon beat in the milk until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the butter coated dish. Sprinkle the apples, as well as the juice that will have accumulated, evenly over the batter.
Bake the cobbler 35 to 45 minutes or until the top is deep golden brown.
Yield: serves 6-8
As the cobbler bakes, the batter rises and literally creeps up through the apple slices.
Printable Recipe

Peach Crumb Cobbler
5 cup sliced peaches
1/3 cup pack brown sugar
3 tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon, or to taste
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg, beaten.
Combine brown sugar flour & cinnamon.
Toss with peaches & arrange in 7x11 pan (9x9 works just fine too)
Take topping dry ingredients, sift... add egg & mix until crumbly.
Sprinkle over filling. Drizzle butter over top.
Bake at 375 for 55 minutes.
Serves 6 big servings
Printable Recipe

Have a good weekend and make some memories!

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Power of Pie

Mother's Day, what better reason than to celebrate with an extra special pie, made to measure for the person receiving it! Meant to say I Love You and you mean the world to me... and then it came to me, The Power of Pie. From the time we are little, at our Mother's knees, we can remember the occasion of pie coming out of the oven. Made just for us, with love, in all it's flaky goodness and chocolate creaminess with whipped cream clouds or jewel tones of cherry or berry... pie is good. In fact, pie is great. Make that special person in your life a pie, let it be warm when they walk in the door!

David Letterman's Mom's Strawberry Pie
1 9 inch pie shell -- baked
1/2 pt Strawberries, fresh -- Washed and hulled
1/2 c Granulated sugar
2 tb Cornstarch
3/4 c Orange juice
1/2 ts Red food coloring
Whipped cream
Mix sugar and cornstartch, then add orange juice and food coloring. Cook until clear. Add strawberries to glaze and pour mixture into pie shell. Serve with whipped cream.

Fall Apple Pie
Pie Crust:(Classic Crisco recipe)
This will make a double crust 9" pie
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup well chilled Crisco Butter Flavor Shortening
(I use the Crisco Sticks - and use 3/4 stick)
4-8 Tablespoons ice cold water
Blend flour and salt in mixing bowl. Cut chilled shortening into cubes into flour mixture using pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with pea sized pieces remaining.
Sprinkle 4 Tablespoons of water over mixture and stir with a fork. Add more water by the Tablespoon until dough holds together. It takes about 6-8 Tablespoons for me.
Divide dough in two with one ball slightly larger than the other. At this point, I place back in my mixing bowl (both balls of dough) covered with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Remove dough from refrigerator and place larger ball of dough onto floured surface. Using floured rolling pin roll dough into a circle until about 2" wider than the pie plate. Ease bottom crust into pie plate and trim evenly around plate. Fill with pie filling (recipe will follow). Roll top pie crust, lift onto filled pie. Trim dough with 3/4" overhand; fold top edge under bottom crust. Press edges together and flute. Cut slits in top crust.
Apple Pie Filling:
8 cups sliced apples (This was 6 large apples for me)
1 cup splenda or regular granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
Pre-heat oven to375 degrees. Place apples in large bowl. Stir sugar, spices, cornstarch, and lemon juice into apples. Pour apple filling into bottom pie crust. Dot with 1 tablespoon butter (break butter into small pieces all over top of pie filling) and cover with top pie crust. Crimp edges. I normally cover the crust with tinfoil the first 40 minutes of baking, remove foil and continue to bake for 20 minutes more.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Madison County, Arkansas

Friday we started off on a little jaunt over to Madison County. I had the bright idea that it would be fun to take my Mother and Father-in-law to a great little cafe at Hindsville called the Valley Inn. It's been there a long time, alongside old highway 412 about halfway between Fayetteville and Huntsville, Arkansas. I had taken my Mom there on several occasions, it's one of those places with local flavor... waitresses that knew the 75 residents of Hindsville by their first names. In fact, they probably knew what they were going to order before they even opened their mouths! Hindsville is an old town, built in the 1890's. Still standing are a row of stone buildings that house an Arvest Bank, an antique store and the Valley Inn. We told them we were going to a NEW place to eat, but not exactly where! I knew they would love the food, homemade plates of chicken and dressing, meatloaf or ham and sweet potatoes with sides of greens, fried okra or butter beans.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and it was fun as we drove along enjoying the rolling hills and pastures with happy cows up to their bellies in green grass. It's a good time to be a cow in Arkansas right now with all of the rain we've had this spring!

We know highway 45 like the back of our hand, but when we got to where it joined the new 412 we turned right. After just a few miles, we knew we had went the wrong way. Just a spot in the road, it would be easy to miss. We turned around and went back, then realized that the familiar road had been bypassed by progress. In 2007 Highway 412 took a more direct route and left the quaint town of Hindsville. In the window of the Valley Inn was a For Sale sign. Sad for us and especially for the residents of this small community. For years they served delicious plate lunches or hamburger baskets, homemade rolls and pies to the hard working farmers or the lucky tourists passing by.

On that  fateful day when Mom and I needed a cup of coffee, but stayed when we realized they had homemade pie...Coconut Cream, Butterscotch with meringue piled so high it was sinful and Peanut Butter Pie. Not my choice, but Mom's favorite. We shared a piece that first visit to the Valley Inn.

Peanut Butter Pie
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 12-ounce carton refrigerated whipped topping (Cool Whip)
2 graham cracker pie shells

Mix cream cheese, sugar, and peanut butter together. Fold in the Cool Whip, reserving enough to decorate the tops of two pies. Pour the mixture into the pie shells and chill several hours. Top each slice with a dab of Cool Whip.

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