Even if You Don’t Like Egg Rolls, You’ll Like These

I don’t say this bragging; I say it because it’s true. And no, I’m not conceited but I’ve had more people than I care to count tell me, and my family, that they don’t normally like egg rolls but they like these. What’s so different or unique about these that nay-sayers try them and like them? I don’t have a clue but it’s remarkable. You’ll have to try them, regardless of whether you, or somebody else makes them using this recipe. You won’t regret it. And what have I told you before? Trust me.

There’s personal history to this recipe and it all started with a flat tire. Seriously. Warm up your coffee and I’ll tell you about it.  Several years ago, Randy, a member of the congregation (also a member of the Missions Ministry), was traveling on I55 when he stopped to help a guy with a flat tire.  Lazarus was from Myanmar and spoke very broken English. As the two guys worked to get the car drivable again, they began to get acquainted. Lazarus was here in the states with his family attending Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, IL, just a few miles from the church. As they talked, Randy told him that the church was looking for a missionary to sponsor,  and from there was formed a wonderful bond between Lazarus Fish and the Elkhart Christian Church family. No, the guys didn’t exchange recipes right there – hold on I’m almost finished. One Sunday the church had a potluck that Ocha, his wife, brought a cookie sheet stacked high with egg rolls. Before the meal was over, every last egg roll was gone. During the course of Lazarus’ training, he was required to attend a class for three months in Kentucky. It wasn’t feasible for the whole family to go so Ocha and the kids stayed in Lincoln. While he was gone, the ladies of the church tried to come up with some social activities for them to help time pass a little more quickly. Since Ocha spoke only a few words of English, our choices were really limited. We finally came up with the idea to ask her to teach us to make her egg rolls. To get the recipe, we watched and wrote feverishly, getting measurements and instructions as the process unfolded.  Even though Ocha didn’t speak but a few words of English, when it comes to cooking and sharing food, there are no communication barriers. It’s a special form of communication – one that requires no words, just the act of sharing.  A special bond was formed that night between Ocha and the ladies of Elkhart Christian Church, all because a guy’s tire went flat. The Lord works in mysterious ways!

I want to preface this recipe by saying the instructions look far more daunting than they actually are. Believe it or not, these instructions are shorter than War and Peace. Don’t feel overwhelmed or ill-equipped to do this. You can do it!! There are actually only 3 steps; making the filling, the rolling, the frying and eating. Well, okay, 4 steps. This is a great get-together recipe to make with friends.  Everybody can have a job – or not – and reap the benefits from the labor of several or a few. This recipe can make roughly 60 egg rolls; it depends on how fat or skinny you fill them. We make both fat ones (for the veteran egg roll lovers) and skinny ones (for the skeptics and newcomers of the egg roll world). Certainly you could cut the recipe in half with not much trouble, however, most packages of wrappers come in quantities of 20. We make these quite frequently to be honest. We’ve made them for our family Christmas Eve get-togethers for years, my hubby gets requests for them periodically from the guys at work and sometimes we make them for our family and give the rest away.  These can be the whole meal or you can serve them with an entree – we do both. I made just the filling by myself when I did the pictures for this posting. We like to make the filling the day before – if time allows – so the flavors have time to marry (and enjoy their honeymoon) before we roll and fry them. Don’t worry if you don’t have the time to do that – it’s not a big deal.

Here’s your ingredients:

  • 1 large head cabbage, shredded
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced (including green part)
  • 1 small to medium sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 full size carrots, shredded
  • 1 pound sausage (mild or hot), browned and drained
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, divided
  • 4-5 large garlic gloves
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, divided
  • 3 teaspoon ground ginger, divided
  • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2-3 budles of green bean threads (see picture)
  • 3 packages egg roll wrappers
  • 2 eggs whites
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • Oil for frying
  • Dipping sauce of your choice
Whether using the slicing blade on your food processor, a mandolin or slicing by hand, you want the cabbage to be sliced fairly thin – oh, and NOT chopped. Chopping the cabbage will give it a nasty consistency – don’t go there. Also, be sure to cut the center of the cabbage away. The center is too dense and takes too long to wilt in the short time the filling is in the skillet. Just wanted to give you an idea of how thinly the cabbage should be sliced.  After the head of cabbage is sliced, put it in a LARGE bowl.
You can, or not, peel the carrots before you shred them – it won’t change the taste of the filling. If you don’t peel them, be sure to give them a good rinse. Again, the carrots need to be shredded rather than chopped or sliced. I just had to show off my Christmas present from my hubby last year. I love, love, love this food processor! It’s a 14 cup capacity Cuisinart with the 3 bowl sizes. This is where I make the Tim the Toolman grunt noises.
Add the carrots to the cabbage and, using your best tools – your hands – thoroughly mix the cabbage and carrots. Also, be on the lookout for any rogue chunky pieces of cabbage and carrot. You want to make sure everything is as close to the same size so it will wilt evenly. Oh, and don’t get confused by the other bowl of cabbage sitting there. That’s for cole slaw later. It’s not even really there!
Cut the sweet onions (if you don’t have sweet onions on hand just use what you have – except purple) into a small dice. Nothing microscopic, just not too large. The green onions should be kinda thin. If by chance you forgot to pick up the green onions at the store – like I did when I made these – just use a little bit more of your regular onion. The green onion does, however, give the filling more color (and you eat with your eyes first). This is just an example of the size dice I’m referring to with the onion and garlic. You’ll see what might look like some long pieces of onion but actually, they’re “tall”. They’re just still layered together.
Add the onions and the garlic to the cabbage and carrots. It really is better to mix after each new addition for a couple of reasons. 1) The carrots are an aggravating bunch that like to stay in little globs and are hard to separate, and 2) The more you mix, the more you will find those thick cabbage pieces that need to be tossed out. I know, seems like there’s a lot to look out for!
Now it’s time for the green bean threads. These are, in their dehydrated state, very thin little noodles wound in a bundle. They’re becoming more and more widely available in major grocery stores like County Market, Meijer and Schnucks. They’re in the Asian food section and pretty inexpensive.  We buy them in bulk when we go to our local Asian food store. When you call your grocer and ask for green bean threads, you can let him know they’ll be in a bright pink mesh bag  in the Asian food section. This is the only brand we’ve ever seen in all 4 places.
Just in case you don’t have your computer glasses on I thought I’d give you a close up. Actually I wanted you to see the ingredients.
I think there are 8 bundles in a bag. I don’t know what’s up with the bright pink mesh bag, but like I said, it’s a great way to help someone find/identify them. Side Note: We don’t usually replace the pink mesh on our packages of the green bean threads once we’ve opened them. We’ve been fortunate I guess ’cause we’ve never had any escape. Just sayin. These need to be hydrated in very warm water. There are no measurements for the water, just enough to amply cover them.  You can use between 2 or 3 of these bundles. They’re basically a filler and take on the most prominent flavor. It’ll take about 10 minutes to hydrate.
While the green bean threads are in the spa, you’ll have time to prepare for wilting the veggies (we’ll come back to the green bean threads in a little bit). You’ll of course need a large nonstick skillet, a strainer set inside a mixing bowl to drain the filling, as well as the ingredients that we’ll add to each “batch” of the veggies. Here’s what the line-up looks like.
To the far left is the colander set in a bowl. After the veggies are wilted, they go into the colander to drain. We’re adding salt to the veggies so that will make them release some of their water. Liquid is NOT a friend to an egg roll wrapper. I’m left handed and this is my setup but it’s whatever works for you. Gee whiz I’m impressed with how organized I look here! Please, show this picture to your family and friends!
Here are the accoutrements for the veggies. In the back row on the plastic mat are (left to right): canola oil (veggie oil is fine too) and kosher salt in the ramekin. Kosher or table salt, either is fine – same measurement. In the front row (the black stuff) is oyster sauce. This too is something that’s easy to find in the larger grocery stores. It’s about $3.00 for a small bottle. You’ll need a total of 9 oz for this whole batch. In the second bowl is ground ginger. I just noticed that the red measuring spoon I have in front is the teaspoon rather than the tablespoon, which is what you’ll need. Follow the recipe rather than the picture. The veggies need to be done in 3 batches. If you try to do it in 1 or 2  batches (unless you have a ginormous skillet) it will take as long as 3 batches would and you’ll have a huge mess on your stove top. Been there/done that. It ain’t purdy.  You need the extra room for stirring; this needs to be mixed very, very well. Believe me, you don’t want a bite of a pocket of any of these things you’re adding!!
After adding the oil in the skillet, yes even if it’s nonstick, add a third of the veggies, then add the salt, oyster sauce and ginger. You don’t have to make a face in your veggies with the oyster sauce but I just think it’s a little entertaining. You’re cooking, you might as well have fun with it. Stir, stir and stir some more. The heat should be about medium high.
While you’re stirring, be on the lookout for these guys. These are the tougher pieces of cabbage I was telling you about earlier. They have a stronger taste but most importantly they won’t be wilted by the time the rest of the veggies are ready, which means, they’ll be tough when you bite into one in the egg roll. Another reason is that if it’s on the outside of the filling, it might tear the wrapper. Just get rid of them; have them for a snack while you’re stirring or give them to the dog. He’ll love you.
This is a comparison of the veggies that are “done” to what they look like raw.  These are now ready for the colander. Just dump them in and let them rest to release their extra liquids.
I said we’d come back to the green bean threads, well, here we are. Now they’re plump and limber. They do hold quite a bit of water and need to be drained. After they’ve been in the strainer for a few minutes, take them to the sink, cover them with your hand, and give the strainer and threads, together, a couple of quick shakes to get the excess water off.
With scissors, cut the threads into about 2″ long strands. You can either hold them up over the colander and trim them from the bottom up or do like I’ve done here and just go all ninja on them. Show no mercy. Just don’t end up with rice-size pieces. These too will need to be added to the colander after you cut them in the strainer.
Do not adjust your computer screen. This picture is messed up on just about every level but at least you get the idea. Ok, I admit it. I didn’t have a picture of frying the sausage but you’ll be ok on your own. Just make sure it’s browned completely. You can see what I browned that’s just under the green bean threads that are going on top. See how much filling there is?!
Ahhh, light! This is the filling after it’s been thoroughly mixed. Stirring every once in awhile is really good because it rotates the veggies and allows even more liquid to drain. Let these go until they’re completely cool IF you’re not going to roll and fry them right away. As I said earlier, they taste better the next day (like spaghetti) but it’s not always the plan to wait. If you’re going to roll and fry them the same day, allow them to continue to drain. It’s time to get your rolling and frying supplies ready.

 A platter or plate is needed to hold the wrapped egg rolls. It’s really important to keep the platter or plate completely dry. Remember I said, liquid is NO FRIEND to an egg roll wrapper. There are several wrappers on the market. There are some that are thin, almost like phyllo dough, and others, like these, that are more bready. We prefer these, which are like what you get in a restaurant.  The filling here is in a ziplock bag because I’d made it the day before. If you’re rolling and frying them the same day, keep the filling in the colander to allow it to drain while you use what’s on top.
When buying wrappers, BE SURE to check for freshness. Omitting this step could be an expensive mistake. The edges of the packages are clear so you can see the layers of wrappers. There is also extra space between the wrappers and the top and bottom of the package. You should be able to easily fan the wrappers. Granted these are being fanned outside the package but they should be able to separate that easily inside the package as well. If the edges are stuck together, either bring it to the attention of the produce person or set them aside but don’t buy them. If you do buy them, most likely they’ll tear trying to get them apart. As I said earlier, that’s an expensive mess. The white powder between the wrappers is cornstarch. There’s just a dusting in between the wrappers to prevent them from sticking; it won’t change the flavor.
Use just one wrapper at a time.  Since you’re just starting out, it’s probably best to leave the other wrappers in the package; they do dry out. Turn the wrapper so it’s a diamond shape. You’ll see that it’s not and exact square but that’s okay.
Put a spoonful of filling on the lower part of the wrapper. The spoon I’m talking about is a regular serving spoon. Don’t put the filling at the very bottom of the wrapper; we’ll need that area. When you’re starting out learning to wrap the egg rolls, don’t exceed the serving spoon size. The more filling you add the less wrapper you have. You can add more as you get better at folding.
Get ahold of the bottom point of the wrapper and bring it up and over the filling going past it just a little bit. Now press down, just slightly, and drag the flap back until you hit the filling. You want to apply just a little bit of pressure against the filling so it’s snug – not too tightly because you’ll tear the wrapper. Hold it in place.
Remember I’m left handed so this is just how I do it. With your right ring finger, or pinky, swoop up the right corner of the wrapper and bring it to the center, covering the flap you just brought up from the bottom. This is now your new center. Hold it in place.
Now switch sides! Use your left ring finger, or pinky, and swoop up the left side and bring it to the center, and hold it. This is now your new center.
This is how it should look after both sides are brought in. Keep it snug.  Look at those hands! Such a “ta-da” pose, don’t ya think. That’s glam baby!
Now roll it forward. Roll. And roll. Lookin great! Two more. One more. Bring it home!! Oh, sorry. I guess I’ve been watching my new exercise video too much.  Nicely done!! Wooo-hooo!!  You’ve now completed rolling your first egg roll!!!!!  And repeat . . . . . 59 more times!

After you finish rolling the egg roll, put it on the platter seam side down. It’s very important to make sure the platter is kept dry. Liquid and a wrapper are not friends!!! They’ll stick to the platter and tear when you try to get them to let go. Oh yeah, by the way, if the wrapper of an unfried egg roll tears, unroll it, take the filling out and start with a new wrapper. It may seem wasteful but, take it from me, it’s a grease trap and it’s gross. Not worth it. Toss the bugger. Also, do not brush the egg wash on the egg rolls until you’re by the skillet and ready to put them in the hot oil. If you wrap them and set them down on something other than the oil, you’re doomed!! They’ll stick and do what . . .? TEAR!!  There are times when an egg roll will stick in the skillet. If that happens, don’t pull on it with tongs or anything else; you’ll tear it. Use a spatula (pancake turner) to get underneath it and scoot it over.  Tom and I wait until we have a platter full before we start to fry. Then, while Tom’s frying, I have another platter I’m loading up for him.

The egg wash is 2 room temperature egg whites and 2 teaspoons of tepid water.  Room temperature eggs are pretty important because the whites will be looser and will mix faster and more easily with the water. Use a whisk to mix it very well. Side Note: If the egg whites and water aren’t mixed well, when you get mostly water on the egg rolls and put them into the hot oil, the oil will really spit and spatter which means you get burnt. To brush the egg wash onto the egg roll, hold the egg roll in your hand, flap side down, so the flap can unfold just a little bit onto your fingers. Brush the egg wash on the top part of the open flap, then using the brush from underneath the flap, bring the flap back up into place and continue brushing the rest of the egg roll. This will seal the flap and keep it from unrolling in the oil as it bubbles. Don’t be too stingy with the egg wash but don’t be too liberal either. You don’t want them soppy but they will be slick so be very careful when putting them down into the oil.

I know this isn’t the best picture in the world but you can see how glossy the egg wash is on the egg roll. Not too much, not too little. But again, be careful because they’re slippery lil rascals!

Just be careful not to “drop” ’em in so you don’t get splashed. Don’t brush more than you’re going to put in the skillet at one time. Depending on the size of your skillet, on average, Tom puts in 5 or 6 at one time in a 12″ skillet. You don’t want to crowd the pan and you need to keep an eye on the oil temp. It doesn’t take but just a few minutes before they start to get brown.

The egg rolls at the top of the picture are ready to turn while the ones closer to the bottom have about a minute more to go. Those are some happy egg rolls in that pool!!!

 
When they’re brown on the second side they’re ready to exit the pool. Drain them in a colander lined with paper towels for a few minutes. You wanna be sure to stand them on end. If there’s any oil/liquid to drain, it’ll come out the end rather than staying inside the egg roll – that would be a bad thing.

And there you have it!!!! Print yourself a Certificate of Achievement (with the fancy gold-foil border) for successfully making egg rolls!!! Congratulations – now go throw confetti all throughout the house!! Enjoy them – you’ve earned a huge celebration!!!

SIDE NOTE:  These can be frozen after they’re wrapped but BEFORE you put the egg wash on them. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and fill the pan. Be careful they don’t touch. Put them in the freezer for a couple of hours then in a ziplock bag. Later you can pull out however many you want to thaw, brush with egg wash and fry.  I personally have not done this but my friend Susan did and she said they did great.

Now you’ve made something you thought you’d never be able to do!! One more culinary accomplishment in your repertoire!  See, all you had to do was trust me!!

Thanks for spendin’ some time with me and congrats again!

Butter Pecan Ice Cream So Good You’ll Slap Your Momma

I’m not one that readily resorts to slapping anyone, my mom in particular, but it becomes an involuntary reflex after tasting this homemade ice cream for the first time!!! I’m merely making this public safety warning to maintain family relations! This is, BY FAR, THE BEST flavored homemade ice cream I have EVER tasted and I’ve tasted a LOT of homemade ice cream!!! This is so SIMPLE and so WONDERFUL you’ll have to share the recipe with your friends just to convince them it’s not from a carton!!!

Something you need to keep in mind before you start making this ice cream is to be sure the insert to your countertop ice cream maker has been in the freezer for the recommended time. I’m not, by nature, an organized person. It was always such a bummer to want to try a recipe, but wouldn’t because I’d have to wait several hours for the insert to be ready. I finally got smart and started storing it in the freezer. Now, regardless of when I get a wild hair to make a frozen treat, I’m ready to rock n’ roll! That makes me feel so organized!! But if you’re using the old-fashioned crank or electric, no worries.  So with no further ado, I give you the line-up of ingredients:

1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted

2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted

3/4 – 1 teaspoon maple flavoring

Unless the pecan halves you buy are already toasted (cheater), be sure to toast them. It’s really easy to do and dramatically changes the flavor of the nuts – it’s a step you don’t want to skip just because you’ve never done it before. You can actually do this one of two ways; either in the oven or on top of the stove. To roast them in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans out on a cookie sheet (make sure it’s a single layer) and pop them in for about 5 to 7 minutes. To tell when they’re “roasted”, when you take them out of the oven and stick your nose up close,  you’ll get an aroma of the pecans. NOTE: There is a distinct difference between “aroma” of roasted pecans and the “smell” of burnt pecans. It takes only a second to take the pecans from “aroma” to “smell” so be careful. It’s not something you want to stick in the oven and go touch base with everybody on Facebook. Stay in the kitchen, set the time for 5 minutes and check on them. If you don’t get the aroma at the end of 5 minutes, stick them back in and reset the timer at 1 minute intervals. Keep in mind that all ovens are different. Don’t panic if yours takes maybe closer to 10 minutes. For the stove top, put them in a skillet (single layer) over medium heat and just stir them frequently. Don’t get distracted by something else – stay very close and stir them often. Stick your head over the skillet and fan the air up toward your nose with your hand. When the aroma hits you, they’re done. Regardless of how you roast them, as soon as they’re done, take them out of the pan immediately and onto a plate or cutting board to cool.  See, it’s easy and you’ll sound like a pro when you explain this process to your friends!!  You can do this – trust me. Our son, Tate, roasted these!

This is my “Equipment Corner”. Our countertop ice cream mixer is a Hamilton Beach. It was on sale at the end of summer a few years ago, and, since I didn’t get a countertop ice cream mixer for Christmas the year before, I grabbed this one up fast. Is it the best out there, you ask. Nah, but it suits our needs until, hopefully, this Christmas. I’d love to have the Cuisinart – ahem, hint, hint to my hubby. This H.B. is a noisy bugger, the motor seems like it needs to be a little more substantial and the paddle is a little too flimsy for my liking. The motor makes the paddle spin in one direction for a little bit, then reverses. As the mixture gets thicker, the paddle reverses more frequently until, when its ready to give up it’s luscious load, it just goes back and forth and back and forth like it’s possessed. It comes apart easily enough for quick clean-up. There really aren’t any areas that are hard to reach to clean. We’ve made sherbet in it and it worked really well. I don’t really have anything to compare it to, other than the crank kind, but with the H.B., the center is left, well, juicy. I’m hoping that after reading reviews, the Cuisinart doesn’t do that. If anybody has any suggestions or experience with other brands I’d love to hear about them. I like to make informed decisions – I need every opportunity to feel organized.

Whip the heavy whipping cream using either a stand or hand mixer, with the whisk attachment, on the highest setting. NOTE: Make sure the heavy whipping cream is very cold. Anything less than very cold could get you homemade butter. In other words, don’t use it right when you get home from the grocery store (except if you live REALLY close to the store, which is a totally foreign concept for me).  I put our heavy whipping cream, half-and-half and buttermilk in the very back of the top shelf; that’s the coldest spot in our fridge. And since you need to take out a small loan just to buy all three at the same time, I want to keep them as cold and fresh as I possibly can for as long as I possibly can.

The goal in whipping the heavy cream is to have less than stiff peaks but more than soft peaks, which I guess would be “stoft” peaks. I bet this new term will be in Martha Stewart’s next book on cookery.

In a separate bowl, pour in the sweetened condensed milk.  I was gonna edit out all the other “distractions” on the kitchen table so you’d think I was organized but then you already know better. When I get a wild hair to make something, I can always push things aside enough for a bowl. I’m so ashamed Flylady.

Combine the cooled, perfectly roasted, pecans into the sweetened condensed milk.  And no, the remote plays no part in this recipe.

Add the melted butter and mix thoroughly.  That’s my hubby helping. We’re a family that likes to cook together (along with the rule that if you don’t help you get stuck with the dishes is quite the incentive!).

This recipe calls for maple flavoring. Now I have to admit I haven’t been a fan of maple flavoring since I can remember, but, I’ve decided to revisit this flavor and give it another chance. We use this brand which is easily found at Wallyworld. I think that if you add the full teaspoon the recipe originally called for, the ice cream tastes more like it has coffee in it. However, by adding only 3/4 of a teaspoon, it tastes more like butter pecan ice cream from the store. Just sayin. It’s something you’ll need to experiment with to suit your own taste.

It’s really dark stuff, huh. It gives the ice cream that nice rich color.

Dump in all of the “stoftly” whipped heavy cream.

Gently fold the whipped cream into the pecan mixture. Try not to deflate the cream as best you can.

Ahhhh, here we go! That’s just about combined completely. Now at this point, a bowl of this would be just fine with me. But, we’re making ice cream so off to the ice cream mixer we go.

It takes about 15 to 20 minutes until the mixer acts like it’s possessed, which tells you it’s mixed and frozen as far as it can take it. In our mixer anyway, the center won’t be set. Either remove the insert, cover with plastic wrap and foil and set it in the freezer for about 1 hour.  Or, you can transfer the ice cream from the insert, put it in a container, mix it thoroughly and freeze. NOTE: I don’t particularly care to freeze it in the insert. For one thing, since the insert is already very, very cold, the ice cream sticks around the edge which makes it so hard to get out when it’s frozen solid. Additionally, the insert is kinda narrow which doesn’t give you a lot of room to scoop it out. Also, if you take it out of the insert you can incorporate the not so frozen with the really frozen before you put it in the container. Then there’s a spoon and spatula to lick too!!

I have to apologize for this picture. I couldn’t wait for it to freeze completely, hence it looks rather melted on the surface but it is SUPERB!!! It’s SUPERB before it goes into the ice cream mixer or afterward, even if it’s not frozen all the way through (that’s my favorite). This will last in your freezer for about a day, if you have a padlock! Anyway you dish it up, it’s fantastic!!!  NOTE: Just keep your distance from those with whom you’re sharing this, especially if your momma’s anywhere close!

SERVING SUGGESTION: I would recommend that if it is frozen solid, set it out on the counter about 15 minutes before serving or, if the container is microwave safe, you can nuke the whole container for a about 20 seconds or so so it’s easier to spoon out.

Enjoy!

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted

2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted

3/4 – 1 teaspoon maple flavoring

1. Toast the pecans

2. In a large bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream until it reaches just a bit beyond soft peaks but before it reaches the stiff peak stage.

3. In a separate large bowl combine the sweetened condensed milk, cooled toasted pecans, melted butter and maple flavoring.

4. Fold the whipping cream into the pecan mixture.

5. Load mixture into ice cream mixer until machine quits.

6. If needed, freeze mixture until frozen completely, either in the insert or move to another container.

Just when Tom thought it was safe to be in public with me

This morning started out like every other Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning – a trip to town to the chiropractor. Afterward we’re footloose and fancy free to run errands, do a little shopping (or major shopping) or just head back to the ol’ homestead. Today, Tom wanted to go to a specialty store to look for boots. But, before we headed that far, I needed to make a pit stop. Off to McD’s we went. After the use of their facilities and on my way out to the truck, I saw a younger woman sitting by herself at a table that faced the outside door. As I walked somewhat toward her to go out the door, she was looking at me. As I then walked past her and through the door, I thought to myself, I wonder what she’s thinking. Hmm. Side note: I often wonder what people are thinking about, particularly when they’re eating alone. Are they perhaps thinking about  the reason why they’re there by themselves, mentally preparing for what’s ahead in their day, what pray tell?

Off in search for Tom’s boots. When we walked into the store we just moseyed through the front looking for his size and making sure we were in the right section. A darling, and friendly, sales girl approached us and offered her assistance. When Tom told her what he was looking for and his size, she said they were in the back of the store. Just like in school, we marched, in single file to the right, to the back of the store with Tom in the lead, me, then the sales girl. She got Tom all set up with a few different selections to try on while I was perusing up and down the other aisles. Then the sales girl did something kind of odd. She walked up to me, very closely, and said, “ma’am, you have toilet paper sticking out your pants.” It was one of those moments where you hear that eerie music from the shower scene in Psycho.  Weeeeee, weeeee, weeeee, weeeeeee!!!!  I turned to look in the mirror, (yeah, the boot place had a mirror to look at your feet but McD’s doesn’t have a full length mirror to look at, well, to protect against things like this!!!!!) to see the horror of a very LONG stream of toilet paper, back-of-my-knee length, hanging out from the bottom of my coat!!!!  Beam me up Scotty!!!! Stick-a-fork-in-me-I-am-done moment.  “What did you do??” you ask.   Side note: When I get embarrassed, or nervous, my first reaction is to laugh. You might think that’s a kind of a fun reaction to a situation but it can also happen in a most inappropriate situation (careful what you wish for).  But, laugh like an idiot I did.  I hugged her and said “Thank you for telling me and I’m so sorry because I know it took a lot of nerve to tell me. Thank you!” I couldn’t see her reaction and I don’t recall getting a reciprocating hug but I’m not so sure how I would have felt being hugged by some lady with a toilet paper tail!  Tom, in seeing me hug this young girl, was quite perplexed at the sight and asked what was going on.  I backed up and as nonchalantly as a dog chasing it’s tail, I was finally able to remove the tissue, which now looked like some remnant from a teepee party and held it up ever so slightly to show him.

When he saw the tissue, he instantly knew what had happened (I’m glad because I was laughing too hard to even talk). Then he started laughing. Now when Tom really gets into a “serious” laugh, it’s a high pitched kind of a hit-and-miss giggle, which is hilarious in and of itself. He just stood there, laughing that laugh and shaking his head. We both laughed uncontrollably. The sales girl, well, she just looked at us like we were nuts and we’ve seen that look before. Finally we regained our composure, and Tom continued his boot shopping. I occasionally took a trek down another aisle because I started thinking about it again and – well laughing again. Tom found some boots (I’m still convinced he bought some only because he felt sorry for the girl) and while at the register, between the 3 of us, nobody looked at each other. When we got to the truck Tom and I  burst out laughing again, like idiots, again. Then I remembered my thought as I was walking out of McD’s. I might have a pretty good idea of what the girl was thinking as I walked to the truck, with my white tissue tail flapping in the breeze. I just hope she didn’t spit her food all over the glass or have soda come out her nose when she saw it. Or maybe I will wish it on her if I see my picture on the internet.

About my family and me:

If we’re supposed to get to know each other, I guess I have some things to tell you about myself. I’m married to a wonderful guy named Tom. We’ll be married 30 years this September! Woo-hoo!!!! I recognize how blessed I am having him in my life. We’re each others’ best friend, we’re confidants, we’re sole mates. We both have a sense of humor and try not to take ourselves too seriously. The Lord is first and central in our lives which makes a HUGE difference. We pray together. We respect each other. We value each other’s opinion, even on those rare occasions when we don’t take it. We support each other. We know how to have an argument without having a fight; our words are chosen carefully! We know how to have fun and work together. I think we’re gonna keep each other. I’d show you a picture of us but he’s kinda shy so, maybe another time.

We have two sons. Our oldest is married and he and our daughter-in-law have given us 3 of the most wonderful and adorable grandsons in the world! I have to admit, they’re even cuter than our boys were at that age – and our boys were adorable too! You’ll have to use your imagination. More about them throughout the blog.

Our youngest son, Clayton (we call him Tate), is living with us, finishing college and working full time. He’s a busy guy. He’s our cowboy, except without the horse (other than his Mustang car – hey, a guy’s gotta start somewhere) or a ranch. He’s not without a spread however; it’s just usually “spread” all over the floor of his bedroom.

This was a celebratory picture. I took this shortly after he’d lost 60+ pounds. What’a hunk, huh?! Can a mom say that?

This is our dog, Chester. He really IS the greatest dog in the world!! He said it’s okay for me to post a picture of him; he’s a bit of a ham. I really dig his sexy black ‘stache and he’s every bit as soft as he looks. He’s 110 pounds but thinks he’s a lap dog. He’s a great chaser of cats and squirrels, until he hits the end of his leash. He leaves them with a powerful threat – something about next time. Usually he’s smiling; I must have caught him in a more serious mood.

To say I love to cook is an understatement. I LOVE to cook. I LOVE to browse, share and collect recipes! I wish I were a gourmet chef; I wish I were a plain o’ chef. I LOVE cookbooks, however, I have limited space for them. I promised myself that if I get a new book, I have to give one away. Not only does that prevent me from hoarding but it also makes me think carefully about buying just any ol’ cookbook. Having to choose which to give away is like choosing between my children!!! I’m thinking the TV could go.

My husband and sons all had a hand in making this cabinet for me! It’s beautiful and I love it!! I was looking up at this shelf one day and wondered what a stranger might be able to tell about me just by seeing the various cookbook titles. First, one would say, “she likes to eat.” That too is an understatement. But I’m thinking I may have a few more pastry/baking cookbooks than anything else (other than the totally underutilized Weight Watchers cookbooks). So one may accurately deduce I enjoy baking the best. Baking is more of the challenge I’m looking for; accurate measuring (not a problem), long hours of waiting to see if the product turns out like the picture (even that’s ok) but it’s mostly the artsy part of it that attracts me. It’s the over-the-top eye candy that makes me want to step up to the challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy cooking as well but pastry/baking is my first choice. I’ll be sharing recipes with step-by-step pictures. I hope you’ll try them and come back for more.

I really enjoy photography as well, even though I’m a novice. I like to try unusual settings, lighting and poses. I appreciate getting advice and tips from other websites that I can pass along. I’m a total fan of Ree Drummond from thepioneerwoman.com. She has page after page of photography tips and instruction.My plan is do all of my own photography for the recipes I share. We’ll see how it goes but you’ll have to tell me what you think.

Well for now, that’s about it. I hope you’ll come back frequently for recipes, quips and musings. Hopefully we’ll be able to spend more and more time together.

Thanks for stoppin by.

Come on in!

Hello. My name is Cathy Miller and I am, the Prairie Godmother. I hope you’ll come visit me from time to time as I talk about anything and everything that’s on my mind at that moment. This is my attempt to reach those with like interests, kindred spirits as it were, sharing with each other, honing old skills and learning new ones. So please, make yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee, pile the kids in front of the tv for a couple a’hours, get comfy and let’s get acquainted.

We live in a teeny tiny town called Fancy Prairie. Our town (actually, its an unincorporated village) is surrounded by prairie (well actually, the prairie has been turned into fields. However “Fancy Fields” wasn’t quite as picturesque of an image so the name never changed.) Just sayin. Come March, there will be 101 residents and there are 35 houses. Often times small towns this size have one dilapidated house after another along their main thoroughfare, toilets sitting in the front yard and couches on the porch. In Fancy Prairie we put things where they belong – inside the house. Folks take pride in their homes and yards. My husband and our sons grew up here. It’s small but mighty.

It’s mighty in the fact that we honor God and country. Flags are flown all summer and some, all year round. We’re a close-knit community where neighbors take care of each other in good times and in bad. When an unfamiliar car or people lurk around town, within 10 minutes the townspeople know about it. Landlines, cellphones and texting is abuzz when the vacuum cleaner sales guys are in town. It’s not that we don’t like “outsiders”, the majority of us have been “outsiders” at one point, its just that we don’t want a vacuum cleaner.