Shelling Peas & Snapping Beans

peas pixabay

Perfect for a recipe of new peas and baby potatoes

Little things trigger your memories. Someone passed around a meme titled “Snapchat – the Old-Fashioned Way.” The meme’s picture showed a grandmother on a porch swing with a lap full of string beans. She was snapping the beans into the right size for cooking.

Next to her on the swing sat a grandchild who was also snapping beans. Several more children sat on the nearby steps as they listened to their grandmother tell a story. Their hands were busily snipping the ends off the beans and breaking the green beans into short pieces.

My aunt Cj Garriott commented, “Oh, this brings back great memories! Mother and I also hulled peas, sitting on the back steps. Occasionally, one or more would pop out on the sidewalk. Our dog Tippy would snap them up! Then one day mother caught him getting some off the vine. Daddy had to put a fence around the peas.”

string beans-pixabay

We didn’t need a knife if the bean were fresh and crisp. We also didn’t make the pieces this short.

Putting all hands to work was necessary if the family grew a large garden. Preparing enough beans for canning was quite a bit of hand labor. Over the winter months, we were glad to have Mason jars filled with vegetables for the eight hungry people around our big oak table.

O is for OKRA

Gail and Clyde Martin liked experimenting each year with a new plant in their garden. Okra was one they liked well enough to keep. The plants grew quite tall and sturdy, had lovely flowers similar to a Hibiscus or Rose of Sharon.

The edible part was a green pod, quite seedy and somewhat slimy inside. People use it in soups where that helps with the thickening. At first, Mom tried just cooking the sliced okra for a side vegetable but the texture put us off. Next, she tried it in a coating and fried in a skillet or deep-fried. It was a hit.

Today, I order it for a side vegetable in country-style restaurants where they fry it that way. Brings back memories of Mom’s home cooking. I don’t fry food at home, so we don’t have it there. My husband started making gumbo and using it for that spicy concoction. We buy the okra fresh at the farmers market or get the frozen gumbo-vegetable combination at the supermarket for convenience.

If left on the plant, the pods get quite large and eventually dry. You can save the seeds. Mom liked the seed pods to create striking accents in mixed bouquets of dried, autumn wild plants like the one below. The subtle browns, tans, and silver colors of the dried arrangement were quite pleasing.

Dried wild flower - photo by Virginia Allain

Dried wild flower – photo by Virginia Allain

Plants From Your Pantry

(post by Virginia Allain) Last year in the spring, I took cuttings from some sweet potatoes that sprouted in my pantry. Covering them with a little soil in my patio pots enabled them to start growing. Before long they sent out nice vines that trailed nicely down the sides of the pots.

Sweet potato vine on the patio

Sweet potato vine on the patio

Now and then, I trimmed them back so they wouldn’t get too jungle-like. It reminded me of childhood times when Mom showed us how a carrot top or sweet potato cutting would put out roots if you placed it in some water.

That fall, I turned up the soil in some of the planters to put in fresh plants. To my surprise, my trowel struck something large and solid. Digging around the object, I turned up a large sweet potato. I checked all the pots where I’d put the cuttings and ended up with about 5 meals worth of the tubers.

Cooking sweet potatoes

I boil the sweet potatoes, then remove the skin, and mash them. Then I add cinnamon, nutmeg, milk, and brown sugar before baking it in a casserole dish.

I don’t usually grow vegetables in my containers on the patio, but since it was so easy to raise some sweet potatoes, I planted more this year. My crop wasn’t quite as big, but it took only a minimal amount of effort and it was free.

Have you tried planting anything from your kitchen scraps?


Make Candied Nut Clusters

 Instructions for Gail & Clyde Martin’s Candied Nut Clusters

Things You’ll Need:

  • medium size cooking pan
  • chocolate or vanilla flavored almond bark
  • aluminum foil
  • small to medium sized nuts

Clean and sort the nuts. My husband used different strainers with different size grids, large and medium. The large grid let everything go through except for the largest pieces. Those worked great in the sugared nut recipe.

After that, he had lots of smaller sizes of nutmeats. Really just bits and pieces. So he shook them up in a strainer with a smaller size grid. The smaller grid lets the tiny pieces of shell and other debris fall through. Clyde dumps them into a white baking pan and searches for more shells that slipped through. Some tiny pieces of the shell stick to the nutmeat and can be removed with tweezers. Shaking in the strainers seem to bring out the oil in the nutmeats, making them shiny and tastier.

With the medium size nut meats, we make candied nut clusters. For this process, you need the following: medium size cooking pan, chocolate or vanilla flavored Almond Bark; aluminum foil, and lots of small to medium size nuts.

Break or cut the almond bark into chunks easier melting in the pan. Place it on a very low heat.

When melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the nutmeats. Keep stirring as you add them until all are coated.

Drop the mixture by teaspoon onto the foil. Let the clusters cool until the almond bark hardens.

Remembering Pies from the Good Old Days

My sister and I both commented when a friend posted a recipe for raisin pie. She called it a funeral pie.
Here’s what Karen had to say, “First, I’ve never heard the expression “funeral pie”! Raisin Pie was probably my least favorite as a kid, but it’s a favorite now (with vanilla ice cream). I like to try out old-fashioned pie recipes–so I’ve tried vinegar pie (my Dad supervised–said his Mom used to make it when he was a kid), chess pie, buttermilk pie, and something called Osgood pie, which is sort of a buttermilk pie with nuts and raisins. I think it’s a Texas recipe.”
More recently, Karen wrote about transparent pie on her Kentucky Day Trips blog. That’s an old-fashioned pie for sure and a good “make-do” kind of recipe.

blueberry pie

My comment was, “You never could tell how my mom’s baking would turn out. With six kids underfoot, she was a distracted cook. We ate the results, good or bad. My favorite part was the leftover pie crust. She would cut it into strips, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, bake them, and we got to eat those while the pie cooked.” We already shared here how to make cinnamon pie crust strips.

The pie above reminds me of Mom’s. She would flute the edges like that. The few times that I made my own pie crusts, I made my edges that way too. You just put 2 fingers on the edge to hold the crust in place. Then with your other hand, use 1 finger to indent the edge between the 2 fingers. Continue on around the whole pie.

Mom used Crisco to make her pie crusts. Further back, our grandmother’s used lard, I’m sure, to get the flaky crusts that tasted so good.

Do You Like Old-Fashioned Recipes?

Grandmother’s Legacy – A Collection of Butler County Recipes From the 1920’s and 30’s

If you like recipes from your grandmother’s day, then this is just the book for you. Many cooks throughout Butler County, Kansas, contributed their old family recipes for this compilation. It was published in 2001 but it’s hard to get your hands on a copy these days.

cookbooks grandmother's legacy

Cookbooks from Gail Lee Martin’s collection

It includes several of my own grandmothers’ recipes (Ruth McGhee and Cora Martin) and some of my mother’s (Gail Lee Martin).

Look for hearty fare like dumplings, old-time bread starter, and some recipes from the Great Depression era like mock chicken pie. There are sweets to try such as bread pudding with lemon sauce or make a vinegar pie. I’m certainly tempted to make the coconut orange delight cake sometime for a special occasion.

(review by Virginia Allain – originally posted on Amazon)

Cooking as a Stress Reliever

I remember my mom, Gail Lee Martin, reaching for the big stew pot when a heavy snowfall was predicted in Kansas. She didn’t have to worry about running out of food since our freezer was filled with a side of beef and our own chicken and rabbit meat. The cellar contained jar after jar of home canned vegetables like green beans, corn, and carrots.

Making a big pot of beef stew loaded with all kinds of vegetables was a practical response to adverse weather. I found myself doing the same when snow was predicted in Maryland where I lived for 15 years. Now, I’m retired and live in Central Florida so a big pot of beef stew doesn’t seem to be the appropriate response to a hurricane bearing down on your home.

Instead, I dredged out the family recipe for no bake cookies. Not having the right ingredients on hand, I improvised. The results were interesting and satisfied my need to reduce stress by keeping busy in the kitchen.

No Bake Cookies Discovering Mom

The resulting cookies were more blonde than the usual chocolate ones. I may not have cooked the sugar, milk, and butter the right amount of time, as they turned out a little sticky. Still, I’ve ended up with some snacks and for a short time distracted myself from Hurricane Irma.

You can see the usual no-bake cookie recipe in an earlier post.

Here’s how mine looked when they were done.


Cappuccino Date No Bake Cookies 


Heritage Recipe – Turnip Pie

I love to browse vintage newspapers and you never know what you’ll find. Here’s a heritage recipe found in the Perrysburg Journal, an Ohio newspaper.

April 15, 1915 Chronicles of America – Library of Congress collection

The Turnip Pie recipe has these instructions:

Put 2 cups of mashed cooked turnips into a basin, add 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 3 well-beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons of molasses, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon powdered ginger, 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon and 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt. Mix and bake in one crust like a pumpkin pie.

Now, who is brave enough to try this? Please, return and tell me if your family liked it. Maybe I’ll get up my nerve, though I’m not a very adventurous cook.

turnip pie pixabay

It sounds like something that Gail and Clyde Martin might try out. After all, they did make turnip slaw and turnip kraut to can. They liked to introduce new uses for vegetables to their customers at the weekly farmer’s market. They would even prepare samples for people to try.

They also liked to surprise people with foods. Gail made cucumber rings that fooled the taste buds and the eye into thinking they were cinnamon apple rings. Her sweet potato pie easily passed as a pumpkin pie. That makes me think that they might have found this recipe for turnip pie intriguing.

purple top turnips

Plenty of turnips for making turnip pie

Turnip photo by Virginia Allain

Make Corn Cob Jelly

This vintage recipe was passed down from my husband’s ancestor, Mary Black of Blackjack, Kansas. It’s amazing what you can turn into jelly. Here’s how to make corn cob jelly the old-fashioned way.

What You Need:

12 red, clean corn cobs                             3 pints of water

3 1/2 cups of sugar                                     Package of Sure-Jell

Wax to seal the top of the jar                  Jelly Jars


corn cob pixabay

Remove the corn from the cob. (photo courtesy of Pixabay)



To get corn cobs, you remove the dried corn from the cob. Boil the twelve red, clean corn cobs in three pints of water for half an hour. Mary Black would have boiled these on an old cast-iron stove, but you can use a regular stove.

Strain the juice (and throw away the corn cobs). It makes 3 1/2 cups of corn cob juice.

Use Domino or any sugar. Add the 3 1/2 cups of sugar to the juice made from the corn cobs.

Follow the directions on the Sure-Jell package. She would put wax on top to seal the jelly. If you’re going to use it fairly soon, you can keep it in your refrigerator.

This recipe is from Mary Black, (of Black Jack, Kansas) granddaughter of the earliest doctor there, Moses O’Neil. Dr. O’Neil’s wife, Eleanor (called Ellen) O’Neil was a sister to our great-grandmother, Elizabeth Jane (Rosebaugh) Kennedy. (wife of David Greacen Kennedy, my husband’s great grandfather).

oneil line mary black.png


Another Blogger in the Family

Gail’s granddaughter, Diana Hyle started a blog about cooking. It’s called Lick the Beater which immediately brought to mind my mother, Gail Lee Martin, making a cake with her Mixmaster. Of course, we all wanted to lick the beaters after she finished pouring the batter into the pans.

Here’s what one post looks like. Isn’t that tempting!

Lick the Beater diana's blog

Diana is a librarian, so baking is not her main job, just her passion. She brings to her blog lots of tempting photos to illustrate the steps in the recipe. Along with that, she infuses the blog with a breezy wit that reminds me of her mother and with down-home descriptions that remind me of her grandmother’s writing.

This is not just a recipe blog, it has lots of personality and storytelling to entertain the reader along with all the information you’ll need to create some of these challenging projects yourself.

Sample a few of the posts, and see for yourself what a fun blog, Lick the Beaters is. You’ll enjoy On Your Mark, Get Set, Bake or try the Cheery Cherry Cake.

Try not to salivate on your keyboard as you read her tempting descriptions and view photos of the luscious results of her baking.

Photo of mixer beaters and whipped cream courtesy of Pixabay

Lovers of good food will love the blog: