Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Heard It Through the Grapevine, Ratherish

Days back and a blog ago, I mentioned that supper found my dear friend Josiette, who, much to my delight, is presently my house guest, and I savoring large slices of her grandmama’s

Butter Cluck Pie. As freehearted as she is kind, Josiette offered the receipt to me, that you might receive it, just as soon as I could post it. So, without further bustle, merrily do I share:

"Do You Like Butter?" by Charles Burton Barber (1845-1894)

Geemaw Sudie’s
Dishpan Butter Cluck Pie

Mixing Pieces:

1 xiii~week~old chicken (2 1/2 to 3 pounds broiler-fryer chicken)


5 cups self~rising flour

1 cup shortening (Yes, that is correct: ONE CUP of shortening. No doubt, eaters of Geemaw Sudie’s Dishpan Butter Cluck Pie wouldn’t want to make this receipt a weekly habit.)

2 cups yellowmilk (Yes, that is correct: TWO CUPS of buttermilk. No doubt, eaters of Geemaw Sudie’s Dishpan Butter Cluck Pie wouldn’t want to make this receipt a weekly habit.)

8 ounces butter (Yes, that is correct: ONE CUP of butter. No doubt, eaters of Geemaw Sudie’s Dishpan Butter Cluck Pie wouldn’t want to make this receipt a weekly habit. Hmm. Is there an echo in here???)


pretty near 2 quarts hot water


Salt-sprinkle chicken that’s already been cut into serving-size pieces; set to the side. After large-bowling the flour, cut in the shortening and add enough yellowmilk to make a dough. Knead for several overs and again on a floured board. Divide the dough. After rolling one part of it very thin, cut it into regular-width ribbons. Line the bottom and sides of a buttered "‘namel that‘s been soap cleaned and staretilized. I won’t be having no ‘Sam and Ellie’ in my chicken," says Geemaw Sudie. (NOTE: If you don’t have an enamel dishpan, you can make nicely do with a 6-quart roasting pan or a large casserole.) Place about half of the uncooked chicken detail over the dough strips in the pan; add lumps of butter between the bird parts and sprinkle with pepper to suit your tongue buds. Place the thick threads of dough on the chicken until you can’t see it anymore, then place what’s left of the poultry chunks on the biscuit dough you just laid down. Repeat with the pepper and butter. Be sure to save back enough butter to laquer two crusts. (Heaven forbid you run out of butter! lol!)

Fetch the set aside dough and roll half of the remaining bulge into "large enough" to make a blanket to cover the pan. Seal it to the side crusts by putting your fingertips to good use. Dampen the pie’s dough mantle plenty well with water, then make a small hole in its middle and pour in enough boiling water to barely float the crust. Cook in a 450* hot oven for nearly a half hour. That’d be just until the crust is browned. Remove from the oven and butter~brush the crust all generouslike. Roll out another top crust to


the other cooked crust with. Back in the oven the pie goes ten minutes more, then brush with butter yet again.

Slow the oven down to a heat that’s lowly, and continue cooking until the chicken is fork~tender. Add more water if the concoction gets too dry. Cook time for dishpan pie is about 1 hour and 45 minutes, and she serves six. Unless Cousin Ludie Earl comes to town.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Room with a View, Please

Who is to say that ruts do not befall grapevines? Mayhaps a weariness blamed on the inclemency of their regular climb, catches them up, leaving them to long for a sweet, new direction? Or, merely in need of a switch of scenery?

How very curious! Although time spent in Gemmama’s backgarden is always a gift, I sensed something about it was oddly amiss this year. A secret-so-far change had taken place, not quite catawampus, yet this maybe-happenstance left me with the same feeling that a certain off-centeredness would leave anyone with... Perhaps and peculiarly, then, a mirror-difference? It mattered little that my How-Does-Her-Garden- Grow gazing (ongoing ever since coming to take care of my grandmother’s house, while she is away visiting a friend Across the Pond) soon gave way to strict study, and daily. I couldn’t for the breath of me put finger on what had gone twisted ~~UNTIL YESTERDAY.

My Dear Josiette has come to visit! (She hasn’t said for how long, but her suitcases are hardly on the lighter side of heavy. lol!) She is the Outside Mouse and I am the Inside Mouse. My country friend joke-pokingly calls me "Sitty Slicker," because, unlike her, I am "inclined to recline." Yet, oh, how we mesh!

Last night, as we supped on the porch facing the garden (Did you see the moon? It’s nearly full!), Josiette and I took turns between bites to ponder over its mysterious metamorphosis
if indeed one had actually occurred! We would still be slow to figure out what had changed, if just then, Josiette hadn’t suddenly stubbed her toe!

Toe-stubbing has always been the phenomenal prelude to Josiette magically coming up with the right answer, no matter who’s question is being asked! After blowing gentle comfort kisses to her tell-all toe, we followed Josiette’s suggestion and located Gemmama’s house journal. As garnish to some of my grandmother’s decades of weekly entries, snapshots had been generously Scotched along side of them, depicting the featured written highlights. (Gemmama fancies cellophane tape. It’s always a Santa Claus stocking stuffer for her, come Christmas. Actually, anytime!) We ran out the back door with our "answer."

Using a collection of photographs taken of Gemmama’s lush garden growings from years past, we compared. Someone or something had convinced --or yetbetters: had given "permission"-- to the fence grapevine, which has forever followed a "left" path, to travel "right"!

The next time the phone jingles and it’s Gemmama, I will have to ask her if she had words with the tangle in the backyard, before heading off in a different direction herself! It’s likely safe to say, Spell-magick is truly in the backyard air!

Purple: a most perfect onomatopoeia!

Postscript: Yesterday’s supper found Josiette and I savoring large slices of her grandmama’s Dishpan Butter Cluck Pie. Sweetest heart that she is, Josiette has kindly offert the receipt to me, that I might share it with you! Soon, you will be nibbling the same delicious, BIG nibbles that made our beneath-the-moon meal so delicious, as I plan on posting the ingredients and baking whattodos within the next couple of days!

Post Postscript: Thank You, Miss Josiette and Miss Josiette’s grandmother!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

“Food” for Thought

No, this isn't an upside-down rainbow. Two years back, a local (San Francisco) shutterbug snapped this unusual phenomenon caused by sunlight shining through a thin, invisible veil of tiny ice crystals high in the sky and had nothing at all to do with the rain. Instead, the "halo" he saw was what scientists call a circumzenithal arc ~~which I rather think is an overly-enthusiastic scientific name for Cheshire Cat Grin! (Worthy of the name not only because the arc resembles a Wonderland feline’s smiley face, but it vanishes just the same way!)

Early in the day, yesterday, walled up in Gemmama’s library and then sunk deeply, I came across an old paper scrap pressed into an even older book. On it and in a most beautiful hand was written “ Sunshine... Sometimes it comes from the sky, sometimes you have to generate it yourself. ~~P.K.”

It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that I allowed myself to finally un-immerse ~~but only long enough to concoct a steamy, warm cup of "brew." (Regrettably, not an absorbing receipt, this measure. There isn’t an enchanting secret formula for instant decaf! lol) Out the kitchen window, I discovered it was a beautiful day during which a slight, sudden rain had just fallen and LO AND BEHOLD! My eyes were clutching at what had to have been, once and mere moments ago, a most wonderous rainbow! It was like

so many butterflies
with a dash of light
-headed happy!

Truly, this be one of those instances when the sky was doing the generating! Thank you, raindrops!

Coincidently (or no?), the aforementioned found-bookmarker was holding a place where a lovely image of a rainbow was displayed with this passage on its page as well:
“Imagine for a moment that you could taste a slice of a rainbow or even hold it in your hands. Doesn’t that make you feel a lot better? It looks as if

it tastes like sherbet.
Does it?”

Most likely!

And might I be so bold as to offer
a personal estimation of mine?
Everything tastes better
when eaten from a sherbet glass.

Especially if it the dish be

coned and footed.

And most decidedly, if it’s


Thank yous to photographer Andrew G. Saffas, and David Perlman The San Francisco Chronicle (article), Rainbow sherbet/, and Pie/Cakespy

Monday, August 9, 2010

It’s the Greatest Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

I am a mere forkful away from my morning being not unlike what Baby Bear’s bowl of porridge was to Goldilocks:


And yours can be, too,
because by the time this entry closes

the pumpkin pie
I baked for breakfast

will be cooled and slice-able. Inhale deeply, my friend. Do you smell its nice and creamy, spicy aroma? I trust I can make a plate full and pass-able to you? Grand and splendid! I knew you’d see it my way! (REMINDER of the UTMOST IMPORTANCE: Don’t forget to eat the pie point first, making a wish when you do.)

After your last bite, and if indeed you grow your own pumpkins, there’s a hardy chance your day might get even better ~~Can you imagine?! When your thoughts return to your first meal of the day being your favorite orange pie, nothing could possibly beat that, could it?! Read on!

Step lively, my little crickets! Take yourself down the garden path to the pumpkin patch (I’m watchdogging Gemmama’s while she is away.) and see how big "everyone’s" gotten. If the pumpkins are

fairly partially grown,

you will blissfully call today Samhaim Signature Day! While it was only just last week on my end that it was way soon to let creative juices flow, we'll hope for the best, today. (My excitement for this yearly-dearly always seems to build much too early!) Still, if the pumpkins aren't yet ready, at least the seed will be planted, telling "calligraphers" what to do when they are. And if that is the sobeit, from here on out, a well kept vigil on the situation must be imposed, so chances aren’t missed.)

If your orange moon garden is presently all about fractionally-grown orbs, HUZZAH! You’re right on time to personalize them! Using a white-handled ice pick or other sharp instrument, scratch your name and the names of family members and friends on pumpkins. (Be certain the hand-end of yourpenningutensil is like snow. If pumpkin-writing is achieved by the use of a tool whose grasp is any thing less than Casper color, bad luck will befall the writer AND the person whose name highlights the pumpkin. Mind you, this business is of a serious nature.)

By Halloween harvest, the scratch on each pumpkin will have healed over, becoming slightly raised. The result is a very attractivesignature,” if you will, especially if you’ve chosen to inscribe using a Halloween-decorative script. And the Ooings and Aahings of the personalized-pumpkin recipients will be heardround the world, I promise you!

Now how about some pie before the magickal calligraphy begins? Come on! Who is it that can say no to sustenance ala wish?!

pumpkin pie/, Hillary Barker/vine pumpkin illustrator

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Antirrhinum Majus Magick!

I merely went out for postage stamps, yet I remain stampless. But oh, no, No, NO~~I didn’t return empty-handed. Not in the least. Instead, after a "mysterious force" prevented me from getting close enough to the Post Office doors to enter them, I ended up pedaling home faster than

you-know-who with Toto in her basket,
having stuffed my front and two side-saddle bicycle baskets with all the

they could hold!

I bought nearly the entire first-plantings’ harvest of these bunny-rabbit flowers from a young man who was selling them in big bouquets in front of the postal building (where his better-than-selling-lemonade stand stood). I laugh now, because I must have looked like

a speeding-bullet float
in a posied Pasadena parade

as I hurried back to Gemmama’s! Then, I scrambled to find every single vase, plus any receptacle I could count on to serve as one, to put to good use before the "wilts" set in. Honestly, I couldn’t save myself~~I LOVE SNAPDRAGONS! And, today, they are my favorite flower!

Along with hollyhocks (whose ambrosial possibilities are endless: ballroom dancer dolls, fairy goblets, and my favorite, firefly lanterns~~And are you aware? A certain $pell can change hollyhock pod$ into money as well. CALL ME: 555-1031 lol! And did you further know, early mornings when the air is still cold, you might find a hollyhock with a sleepy, big, fat, black and yellow bumble bee in it that you can pet?!), pansies ("I’m thinking of you," is what they say when you the blossoms send. And wouldn’t you agree, these velvet blooms also bear a striking resemblance to Persian kitten faces?), and sunflowers (Such a whimsical presence, within or without the garden. Yes, pure magic!), the snapdragon is known as one of the "personality" flowers. They are perfect for hiding secrets messages, making clip-on earrings, having "dragon" battles, using as paper clips, and not to forget, they are

(This quirky, yet endearing blossom opens its "mouth" to speak when you pinch its sides,)
great conversationalists!

Scattering the snapdragons throughout Gemmama’s house was like putting delightful Victorian ruffles on each of its rooms ~~and I danced as I did so!

I bring more glad tidings: Spot, is finally home! ("Dancing" must have made up a great share of his away-antics, too, as he apparently "tangoed" with many a cocklebur during his secret adventure. While welcome back hugging, I even considered renaming him Braille. lol! But it took only one "bird in the paw is worth two in the bush" meow from Spot to nix the idea. The occasions are many that I can’t quite wrap myself around the his peculiar, dampifying idiom choices. But instead of struggling with the whys and wherefores, I find nodding in agreement nicely lends itself.

Snoozing off whatever "it" was that he’s been up to the last several days and nights, the little scamp has himself piled round and cozy in a little sleep-heap in the balloon-back. (SHHH! Not a word to Gemmama! I don’t suppose Spot should be making himself comfortable there, since he likes to fun it up with upholstery now and again.) Sweet dreams for now, Spot, but expect a comb-out ala interrogation when you rise and shine.

But the blame is plenty mine, I’m afraid. Late Sunday night, I absentmindedly left the jib door-window open, which gives onto the back porch. That’s when an otherwise early-to-bedder Spot made his move. Having remained relatively calm after two days passed with out so much as a glimmer of my grandmother’s cat on the horizon, I suddenly was an anxious pigeon! I found Spot’s Cat’s Protection Amulet mixed up with the potted plant nearby his exit hatch!! It must have gotten snagged, breaking it free from his collar "ere he drove out of sight" (My apologies. For moment, I was channeling Clement Moore.)

Full knowing a case of Magnitude Frets would render me useless to help the situation, and against my better judgement (I would have to deal with the consequences of using the big "M" for personal gain.), I decided the time had come to invoke Magick. As I was about to make an incantation begin to be, who do I spy at last promenading through the garden gate?! I sigh yet another deep sigh of relief as I lay a snapdragon near Spot's noggin to sweeten his kitty slumber. Sleep tight, my little Prince Charmeowing! But not to forget, when you awaken from your honeyed slumber, I WANT SOME ANSWERS, MISTER.

Cat Protection Amulet

Cats’ notorious curiosity often gets them into trouble. Attach this magick amulet to your kittybink’s collar to keep him of her out of harm’s way.

Necessary Ingredients:
A silver locket
a small piece of bark from a pussy willow
a small jade bead
Amber essential oil
a small square of white paper
a pen with black ink

~Using your most perfect script, write your cat’s name on the piece of paper, then sketch a star over the name and draw a perfect circle around it.
~Let fall a drop of amber esssential oil onto the paper.
~Place the pussy willow bark and jade bead on the paper and fold everything into a tiny packet, small enough to tuck inside the charm.
~Envision your feline friend completely enclosed by a ball of white light. Fasten the locket securely to your cat’s collar while you repeat this affirmation three times:

"This magick amulet keeps [cat’s name ] unharmed and whole at all times and in all stations, perpetually and without cessations."

NOTE: While you’re at it, get your cat a tag with your name and phone number on it and affix it to his/her collar, too.)

Almira Gulch, Victorian snapdragons, Tournament of Roses Parade