Fall is Here by Pepper Phillips

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Want to do something smaller and cheaper than a pumpkin? Try a Satsuma. These beauties came from our own trees.

I love the fall. I miss the different colored leaves however. I remember growing up in Maryland, and the gorgeous fall display of fallen leaves. I think that Maple trees had the best ones. They would range from yellow, to orange to red, all from the same tree.

There are certain days when the weather is dry and the leaves are super crunchy when you walk through them.

Here in the deep South, you might get one day when you have those dry leaves. Soon, the pecans will start to fall from the trees. You will be sitting outside and hear a nut drop to the ground. I finally figured the easiest way to harvest pecans is to rake under the tree, then sit down on a boat cushion and move the leaves to get to the nuts hiding underneath. The standing and bending over to pick up each one doesn’t work for me anymore!

The summer garden is gone. We don’t have a winter garden, due to the fact that hunting season starts next month.

The alligator season is already finished, as the hubby filled out his five tags. (You have to have a special tag to kill an alligator.) This year I accused him of feeding the gators as they managed to steal the bait several times before they were ‘hooked’. And no. The hubby does not wrestle alligators. Only nutcases would do that, and with a small gator at that. What do we do with the alligators? There is a woman who buys them for the skin and meat. You are paid by the foot. The bigger the gator, the more you get.

All the church and school fairs have begun or will be held next month. These are big fund raisers and I’ll deal with one next month. It’s amazing what a concentrated effort on the part of volunteers can accomplish when they choose to work together for a common purpose.

Until next time, enjoy the life in your ‘small town’ whether it is a neighborhood or a real town.

Pepper Phillips

Cajun Men Cook by Pepper Phillips

In Lousiana, the men like to cook. They enjoy it. They call their male friends and they get together for a ‘supper’.  Wives and girlfriends are not invited.

I for one, enjoy it. Because I can eat a breakfast for dinner, or whatever else I want. Normally, the husband doesn’t consider breakfast a proper dinner menu so I never fix it. I tried it when we were first married, but not when he let me know that it wasn’t ‘proper’ in his mind. It’s a small thing and not worth arguing about.

So, he’s invited to a ‘supper’ several times a month with different friends of his. It’s their chance to socialize, drink beer and generally harass each other.

What do they eat? Usually it’s game of some sort. A duck gumbo, an eutouffe, fried frog legs, well, most anything fried could be on the menu.  My hubby likes to fix Pork and Turnip Stew. I personally don’t like it, so if he fixes it somewhere else, it’s fine with me!  LOL

Every man who cooks knows how to make a roux and they do it in a cast iron skillet. From scratch. They do have an easy way to make a roux, and some men will use that method. Here’s the directions/recipe for roux.

Dutch Oven

A lot of men collect cast iron cookware, from skillets to huge Dutch ovens. They like to keep the pans ‘seasoned’ and are very careful with cleaning them. You don’t want rust to form on your cast iron cookware. We have several, including a griddle and a cornbread one that looks like ears of corn. A lot of people will use a plain skillet to cook their cornbread. One good thing about using cast iron, is that it will add iron to your system which you need. Plus, with the proper care they will last you a lifetime.

cornbread pan

There is a cookbook called, “Cajun Men Cook” which I’m giving all my grandsons this year. Very tradition Louisiana recipes are included, in fact, I own a copy as the recipes are delicious.  (There are some really inexpensive copies on Amazon. For some reason you can’t see a Sample, but it’s an excellent cookbook, however there are no pictures. I have several hundred cookbooks in my collection and will use this one. This is by the Beaver Club of Lafayette.)

Cajun Men Cook

Where do they cook these ‘suppers’?

A lot of men have outdoor kitchens in their back yards. A separate building with stove, refrigerator, table, chairs, loungers, a large TV. Their own ‘man cave’ though they don’t call them that.  Some have camps in the woods that host the events. Wherever it is held, it’s good food, good friends and good conversation.

“Laissez les bons temps rouler!” is a Cajun expression meaning “Let the good times roll!”

Pepper Phillips Boggy Bayou Series is set in Louisiana.

“Pepper Phillips clearly understands the customs, cuisine and conversation of the Deep South, with the first novella in her Boggy Bayou series. Naomi’s Heart portrays the developing romance of an older couple, who prove that age has nothing to do with love. Ms. Phillips’ obvious knowledge of Southern culture is highly entertaining and informative, and along with her endearing and well-developed characters, leave the reader reluctant to leave the world she’s created.”

Sunday Dinner Tickets in Small Towns by Pepper Phillips

When you live in a small town in Louisiana, you will be approached to buy a Sunday dinner ticket.

It’s usually Civic Organizations, Churches, Special Interest Groups and the meals are generally the same.

BBQ Chicken, and/or Pork. dirty rice, baked beans and coleslaw. A slice of white bread or maybe a roll and that’s dinner.

Every now and then there are fried catfish dinners. You might get French fries with that or maybe not.

The dinner comes in a white plastic plate with a folded cover, which they ask local businesses to donate. They also ask for donations of all the ingredients.

Cost?  The price has gone up through the years and is generally $7 or $8 dollars apiece.

Every now and then you get really lucky and can get a piece of cake to go with it.

There are a few food establishments where you can purchase a Sunday Dinner in the same method.

Generally the food is delicious, and sometimes it’s not.

If you own a business, the ticket sellers will hit you up first.  We have Sunday Dinners for ten for one day in August.

The dinners are generally generous, so I will strip the plates, keep what we like and toss anything or add ingredients to make it what we like.

There’s nothing better than dirty rice with added eggplant, which I have frozen in the freezer.

Dirty rice…it’s a staple in Louisiana.

dirty riceHere’s a good recipe from Paula Deen.

In my books, I try to give the flavor of Louisiana and what we really eat. I hate it when I go somewhere and see a dish marked “Cajun” only to realize it’s something I’ve never heard of or seen. It’s false advertising and I generally tell the restaurant that they got it all wrong.  Sure we like our food with a touch of kick, but throwing hot sauce on everything isn’t it.  It’s the flavor that counts.

For my book Naomi’s Heart, I took several recipes for White Chocolate Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce and came up with my own.  Men Love It!!!  I love it.  And it’s easy to make.  If you want to try some delicious goodness, check it out:  White Chocolate Bread Pudding

Naomi’s Heart is a romance for the mature woman…something truly different that is set in Boggy Bayou. It’s available at Amazon, Nook, iBooks and Kobo.

“Pepper Phillips clearly understands the customs, cuisine and conversation of the Deep South, with the first novella in her Boggy Bayou Series. Naomi’s Heart portrays the developing romance of an older couple, who prove that age has nothing to do with love.  Ms. Phillips’ obvious knowledge of Southern culture is highly entertaining and informative, and along with her endearing and well-developed characters, leave the reader reluctant to leave the world she’s created.”

 

Rain, Rain, Go Away by Pepper Phillips

2015-04-16 04.01.12This is my back yard.

We’ve had so much rain last month and this month, with a week of rain ahead of us.  If you look at the photo, beyond the big tree in the center is a road that runs along the side of our property.  Needless to say, it’s flooded.

We have another road in the front of the house that is much higher and thankfully, doesn’t flood.  If it ever does, I’ll have several feet of water in my house.

We’re close to the Red River which hasn’t finished reaching it’s ‘high’ level…yet.

My daughter and her hubby have a hunting camp on a lake, the threat of water is very real right now.

I’ve seen the pictures of homes and cars floating by and know that some people have lost everything.  Worse still is the lives lost.

A daughter calls her father, begging for help…and it’s the last he’s heard from her.

So I say a prayer that everyone be safe…

Have a family emergency plan.  Google the internet and see what different people are doing.  Make copies of important papers and store them in a cloud or email them to yourself where you can retrieve them if necessary.  There are a lot of things you can do before tragedy strikes.  Hopefully, you’ll never need to use your emergency plan, but if something happens, you’ll be so glad that you’ve prepared for the worse.

In our area there is flooding, hurricanes, and tornadoes, just to mention a few.  Then there are house fires, burgularies, and other mayhem that can interfer with your daily life.

As I tell my husband whenever he leaves the house, “Be safe.”

 

 

Love Is Magic by Pepper Phillips

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Remember when you first fell in love?

I do. It was at a USO show at Camp Pendleton in California. My first appearance as a dancer, wearing black fishnet stockings and a white sweater, I danced before the Marines. While there was talking during the other acts, when I came on there was complete silence in the audience.

Finishing my act, I took a bow and the room exploded in applause. Afterwards, there was a dance with the entertainers and Marines.

I’d never felt so popular. I was tall, not quite six feet and hadn’t had my first date yet at seventeen. Yes, I was definitely a late bloomer. I was twirled around, had a fellow or two dance way too close for comfort, had my toes stepped on, etc., until finally there was a slow dance and one Marine stood out when he asked me to dance.

There are some memories that stay in your mind forever, and this is one of them. He smelled clean…wore a white dress shirt with a gray sweater. He wasn’t a good dancer, but for some reason it didn’t matter.

That was the beginning. Decades later, we’re still married and I can remember that night. It was magic.

Falling in love is magic when you think about it. Two people who manage to find each other among all the people in the world…

In Love Blooms on Main Street, my story isn’t about a young couple but an older couple who weren’t expecting to fall in love at their age.

This is your chance to buy ten stories for less than a dollar.

Take a chance on love at your favorite edistributor.

Amazon     Nook     iBooks/iTunes     Kobo

Join the newsletter mailing list to get the latest news from the Authors of Main Street.

And I hope you enjoy my story…

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When Is Love Not Enough? by Pepper Phillips

Isn’t love grand?  That kiss that makes you forget where you are. The longing to see the person again. Thinking, thinking, thinking of them every second of the day. Wondering if they love you back? The excitement when they touch you.

Then you marry.

Some people continue that love, though it might change over the years.

Others give up. Changing partners like discarded tissues. Leaving a love because they didn’t measure up to the requirements of daily commitment. Couples who didn’t or couldn’t work things out.

In my book, ‘Unconditionally’ Caroline is faced with making a choice when she discovers her husband cheating once again.

Unconditionally 300dpi

Shouldn’t love be unconditional? Your parents, your spouse, your children, your closest friends? Can we count on them loving us as we love them? Sometimes not and what happens when you discover unconditional love for the first time?

A drama following one woman’s journey to discover if she can accept being loved, with and without conditions.

—–
“What a wonderful read. I didn’t want it to end.” Liz Lipperman
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“I throughly enjoyed it!! I couldn’t put it down! I found myself to be deeply engrossed in the story. Such tenderness between friends touched my heart. In some areas, I could totally relate to Caroline. I recommend this to anyone!” Zannemarie

On sale now for 99 cents.

Amazon   Apple iBookStore   Nook   Kobo

 

 

Small Towns and Their Food by Pepper Phillips

One thing I’ve learned about small towns is that each one has their own history. My own little town is called ‘Boggy Bayou’ in my series. It was easier for me to use some place that I was familiar with. Settled in 1760, it’s an old town.

I didn’t realize until I did my hubby’s family tree that he was related to the first settlers of Louisiana. They migrated from the New Orleans area, northward until they finally settled in a very rich fertile farmland. Most anything will grow here. We’re still picking oranges off of our trees.

But each small town also has its food preferences. Living in Louisiana means eating well. Recipes are shared between families, in community cookbooks, at church functions, and social functions. There are still some items that I refuse to eat, such as blood sausage. Yuck. But the hubby loves it. I have assisted in helping make it, and I guess that’s one reason I won’t eat it. I have tried to make a modified hog’s head cheese, which is the tidbits of meat from the skull of the hog. I cheated and used pork meat not from the head. If you want to try it, here is a good recipe.

Then there are cracklings…oh, they are good. Part pork skin with fat and meat, it’s deep fried until it turns a dark brown and the fat is cooked out. Crunchy and delicious.

So, when I write my books set in Boggy Bayou, I try to include the food that we do eat on a regular basis. To me there is nothing worse than going to another town in the U.S. and have ‘Cajun Breakfast’ on the menu and there are hash browns offered. Hello…it better be grits if it’s Cajun. Hash browns are served in restaurant chains such as International House of Pancakes or Waffle House, but the local diners have grits.

When I went up to Washington State many years ago for my Granny’s funeral, my aunt took me to a ‘Sausage Feed’ the next day. I’d never heard of that, so was very interested. As a kid when I lived with my Granny, I remember the Flapjack Breakfast from a real chuck wagon on the Main Street, but never a sausage feed. What it was, was a sit-down dinner with browned sausage links, boiled potatoes, lots of different vegetable dishes served family style. As it was set in a high school, everyone sat with their group and strangers. It was quite interesting. But I wouldn’t use it in Boggy Bayou. It wouldn’t ring true.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my take on small towns and the food that they serve. I’m sure your small town has its favorite recipes as well, something I most likely have never tasted. Tell us about it.

I did create a wonderful recipe for White Chocolate Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce that is to die for…men love it!  Even the grandson asked for the recipe. You can get it here: 

That recipe is featured in Naomi’s Heart…

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You Can Go Home Again by Pepper Phillips

P1000289This fall I went home again. Back to Lewiston, Idaho where I was born and Clarkston, Washington, where my Granny lived. The Snake River separates the two cities.

I lived with my Granny during the 2nd and 3rd grade.  It was a great time to live in a small town.  Kids had free range.  All the neighbors knew each other, and if you misbehaved, they didn’t mind calling Granny and telling her.  Like the time I discovered how delicious fresh peas were right from the pod in the neighbor’s yard.  I should have thought to pick up the pods.  They were evidence.  The neighbor got me back, though.

She locked herself out of her house, and I was pushed through a small bathroom window, which was scary as it was high.  I was promised an all-day sucker, but that never happened. Adults shouldn’t break promises to kids.

But the hills above are my touchstone.  Their strength, their bigness, dominates the landscape.  Just looking at them makes me homesick.  They have a new highway that goes up them, but back in the day, it was a narrow road, with a lot of switchbacks.  Halfway up was a short cross that was stuck in the ground, with tattered fabric fluttering in the wind.  The song, “Old Rugged Cross” always came to mind and reminds me of home.

P1000288I don’t know who owns this house, but it is picture worthy.  I especially like the whimsical cow in the front yard.  How many people have that?  It makes the owner happy and that’s all that counts.  I might need to use it in a book sometime.

Then there is this lovely old lady.  Her bones are there, even if they are leaning to the side.

P1000280I drove down to Long Creek, Oregon with my aunt and sister.  My aunt is seven years older than I am, and one summer we spent a week or two there.  I always wanted to go back.  A small town with only a few hundred souls…I am related to some of them.  Now I don’t know if this is the same house, but I remembered the side of the street (mind you I was seven) and that there were two stories, as we slept upstairs and the front porch had a railing, which I fell off onto some rose bushes.  Yes, they had thorns and I was warned to be careful. This house might be hers…I would have to do some serious research.  But it must have been beautiful in it’s day.

Back in the day, we went to the General Store and the storekeeper asked me who I belonged to.  That question stumped me.  Then I blurted out, I’m with my granny visiting with Aunt Dot and pointed in the direction of the house.  He asked my granny’s name, and once I told him, he nodded.

Aunt Dot had a brother named Walter.  Now that was a character.  He lived in a small house, but he had a burro or donkey which he used to go into the hills.  He had a ‘hidden’ gold mine and when he would run low on funds, he’d take his sack of dirt from the mine and throw a couple of handfuls into his gold pan until he found what he needed.  From what I remember, he’d strike out alone with said burro and wouldn’t tell anyone where his mine was.  There were carrots in his garden as a treat for the burro and as a kid you can imagine my delight in pulling a few, washing them off and feeding the burro.  He showed me how to pan and picked a nugget out and gave it to me.  I wish I still had it.

My ancestors were among the first settlers of the Oregon territory, getting there by wagon train.  I admire their spirit and dedication to conquer new lands.  Visiting where they lived and raised family makes me appreciate all the people who came before me…I only hope that the generations that follow me get the same feeling.

You can go home again.  It’s not the same, but it touches emotions that are part of your being.

If you are living far from your hometown, what is it you miss the most?

Organizing for Next Christmas by Pepper Phillips

2014-12-28 17.39.56It’s that time of year when the Christmas Decorations need to be taken down and put away for next year. But not yet, for me. I love the look of Christmas in my living room and will keep it up until January 6th.  That date is known as the feast of the Epiphany or Twelfth Night. So, Christmas isn’t over for me until then.

The scene above looks tranquil and calming, but on Christmas Eve, the night we open gifts to each other, it’s jammed with close to thirty people. In order to fit everyone in, all the furniture is moved back, the coffee table is removed to the hallway, the beaded pillows that decorate some of the chairs are put away and as you can see are still not on the chairs. Room must be made for kids with size 13 and 14 shoes, as there are some big galoots in the family.

But everything is moved back into place on Christmas Day, the day the children visit their spouses’ families, the day we spend in relative quiet, the day we fix Christmas dinner, the day we relax and enjoy the spirit of Christmas.

But this year when I begin to put away the Christmas Decorations I’m doing it different. I generally unplug the three trees and hoist them into rolling garbage bins, lights and all. This year I’m taking all the lights off, untangling them and putting them in those plastic bags I get for groceries. It took me hours to undo the mess from last year and I don’t want to go through that again.  The big tree this year didn’t get ‘arranged’ to my liking, so it looks lopsided, but that will change.

I don’t know exactly how many garbage bins I use, but I’m going to finally organize them this year. I have decorations that I didn’t even use, so I have no idea what I really have, so it’s time to get organized . A spreadsheet is in order.

We have a huge hook that we use to hang the wreath over the fireplace. At the top, the bricks of the fireplace have some drainage holes in them, and you have to insert the hook in one of those holes so it doesn’t fall. This year, they couldn’t find the hook. So the hubby made a new one. Then they found the old one caught up in a fireplace screen that you can’t see in the picture. So now there are two. But where are they? The spreadsheet will tell me which bin they are in.

When I take down the Christmas stuff, the Mardi Gras decorations go up. But I don’t know what garbage bin those are in…so it’s time to get super organized.

My weapon of choice is Duct Tape. I’m going to run a band of color across the top of the lid of each garbage bin to let me know what’s inside at a glance.

Red and Green = Christmas – I’m going to mark on the tape what number that particular bin is. Such as #1…of course #1-#3 have Christmas trees sticking out of them, so no lids for those, but the rest will let me know what room that particular stuff goes in or what’s stored in that bin.

Yellow and Purple = Mardi Gras – Those are two of the colors associated with the season, green is the other color, but since I have green on the Christmas stuff, I’ll leave it off. There are over six weeks from Epiphany until Mardi Gras, February 17th, so it’s a nice time to decorate as it’s pretty gray and gloomy most of the time.

Pink and Light Green = Easter – Yes, I decorate for Easter as well. Right after Mardi Gras until Easter.  So that’s mid-February until April 5th.

Orange = Halloween and that’s about it.  Though I do have some Thanksgiving stuff, I’ll have to think on what corresponds with that holiday.

I have some decorations that need fixing, replacing (usually lights – and if I were really smart I’d buy them now while they are on sale) or over the hill items that need to be tossed.

The thing is “Do It Right The First Time and You Won’t Have To Do It Again”…I usually just want to get it over with.

But it’s time to get organized.

What are your organizational tips to prepare for next Christmas?

Getting Organized for Thanksgiving by Pepper Phillips

food thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving for several reasons.

The food. Family. It marks the beginning of the holiday season for me.

Several years ago, I finally got smart about planning Thanksgiving Dinner.

I adore spreadsheets and use them for about every area of my life.

So, I designed a Thanksgiving Dinner spreadsheet to assist with the menu, the shopping list and a time schedule for getting the meal on the table at a certain time.

Since we like certain things to be served at our Thanksgiving Dinner, it isn’t changed. So I can use this menu every year.

First, decide what you are planning to serve and make of list of the dishes.

We have turkey, cornbread dressing, giblet gravy, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato souffle, cranberry cloud, green jello salad and jellied cranberry. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream is for dessert.

So…in the first column of my spreadsheet I have the dish listed. Let’s do one that’s been in my family for decades.

Green Jello Salad.  With a cut and paste it looks like this below. The numbers in the second column represent where in the store that item is stocked. Handy when making the shopping list.

The third column is the ingredient.  Fourth column is the order in which it is made. Fifth column is what I am supposed to do.

Green Jello Salad 2.46 Jello – Green – Double box or 2 reg. 1 Dissolve in two cups boiling water
Green Jello Salad 2.56 Crushed Pineapple – Can  20 oz. 2 Drain
Green Jello Salad 2.21 Cottage Cheese – Small curd – one medium carton 3 Mix with jello and pineapple – refrigerate – add topping when firm.
Green Jello Salad 2.66 Mayonnaise – 1/2 cup 4 Mix with cream cheese until smooth
Green Jello Salad 2.21 Cream Cheese – 8 oz. 5 Spread over jello.

And I do that for every dish.

For my shopping list, I sort the list by Column 2.

When it’s time to cook or assemble the dish, I go by Column 4.

This is an easy dish and can be made on Wednesday.

Try it and see if you like my method.

 

 

malsveta / 123RF Stock Photo