Excellent Blog
2007 Inspiring Blog
Rockin' Girl Blogger

Chicken and Dumplings, a la Granny, and… her cookbook is for sale!

August 2nd, 2013

Cookbook is ready!!! You’ll find it on CreateSpace, on Amazon, and on Kindle… soon.

From my Dear Late Granny’s upcoming COOKBOOK! which, yes, is FINALLY DONE after just eight years or something. will be available thru Amazon and Kindle in the next couple of weeks, so watch for it… I’ll post a link when it’s ready for purchase. In the meantime, here’s a recipe.



Chicken & Dumplings (from Margie & Nancy)

This is a variation on my Grandma’s Chicken & Dumplings recipe. She would not use shortening; she would use lard or bacon grease. She also would not add lemon, thyme or a bay leaf; she would add lots of black pepper and call it a day. If the Pioneer Woman (Bree) was making this, she would say forget the lemons and add a little apple cider. She would also suggest adding cornmeal to the flour mixture. Keep experimenting until you get it exactly how you like it at your house.

1 (3-pound) whole chicken
1 onion, quartered
2 slices lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

In a heavy pot with a lid, place the chicken, onion, lemon, salt, pepper, water, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat until tender, about 1 hour.

Let chicken cool slightly, then take out of pot and remove meat from bones. Discard bones and skin and skim excess fat off the broth. Discard onion, lemon and bay leaf. Return chicken pieces to the pot. Simmer over low heat while making the dumplings.

To make dumplings: In a medium mixing bowl, cut shortening into the flour and salt. Stir in 1/4 cup water (more if needed) to form a soft dough. Roll out dough on a floured surface until very thin. Cut into 1-inch strips. Tear off 1-inch pieces from these strips and drop into simmering broth and chicken meat. Simmer for 10 minutes with the lid off, then 10 minutes more with the lid on. Serve immediately.

donuts in heaven

April 14th, 2013

My son, talking about his late, great-granny’s funeral: “It was the best ever.”

Why’s that?

“We had donuts!”

Steve: “And up in heaven, Margie is smiling.”

We like sweets.

Easterish b-day

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Tuesday Recipe Club: Broiled Fruit Shakes, Lottie’s Peanut Butter Pie… and more on Granny’s Cookbook

August 14th, 2012

Broiled Fruit Shakes

Stay with me here. I know it sounds weird, but this is a chilled drink I tried a couple of weeks ago at that crazy New Seasons Market, and it is quite good. It tastes like a Fruit Crisp milkshake.

3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 cups coarse-chopped fruit (nectarines, plums, apples or whatever you would like)
2 cups ice cream or frozen yogurt (your choice of flavor)

Preheat broiler to high. Combine first five ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Add fruit; toss to coat. Spread the fruit in a single layer on a jelly roll pan lined with foil. Broil 5 minutes or until bubbly. Allow fruit mixture to cool. In a blender, mix 2 cups of ice cream or yogurt with a few scoops of the fruit mixture. Blend until smooth and enjoy.

Lottie’s Peanut Butter Pie
(This one is in Grandma’s handwriting, on a “Here’s What’s Cookin’” card that’s decorated with pictures of lemons. I’m writing it exactly as I found it. Lottie and her husband Darrell were dear friends to my grandparents for years – they met when they were young married couples, before their children were born.)

1 – 8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup crunchy p. butter
½ cup sugar
1 – 12 oz. Cool Whip

Blend in blender.

Pour into crust.

Choc. cookie crust,
Plain crust,
Graham cracker crust

Bon appetit, babies!

OK, back to writing now. Did I already mention that I was done with my Late, Dear Granny’s cookbook and memoir, and then I came across three more of her cookbooks?

Yes, I did.

Found the cookbooks, that is. As for already telling you this, who can remember?

My point is: They all had her handwritten recipes inside, and well. What is a girl to do? Of course I have to type them all up. Those of you who knew my Granny (i’m looking at you, Cuz 7), know that it was just her style, wasn’t it? To say, Wait, wait, looky here. No, looky. This is what you need/should do/want to take home with you. Do it!

That Nike motto, Just do it!? I think she invented that for them.

At first, I was a little stressed out. Because no offense but I am ready to be shut of this project. I have turned into my Granny’s Girl Friday. I can’t even find my desk anymore it’s so covered with scraps of paper, books and photos. But then I realized… it’s my Grandma.

OK. Back to work, and I’ll let you know when it’s done so you can buy a copy. (PS, I think I’m going to call it, “How Are You, Sugar?” You like that?) (PSS, If you still haven’t purchased a copy of my novel, well, what’s stopping you? lol.) I’m hoping today and tomorrow will be it for typing/writing. My mom is allegedly going over the photos and figuring out captions. Then Steve will do lay-out for it and we’ll be ready to roll it out.

I’ve loved working on this project, but I don’t want it to be the only project I do for the rest of my life, y’know? Besides, as my wise daughter put it: “Think how good it will feel to say, ‘Ah, my book is done!'” Only in this case, it will be “Ah, her book is done!”



“pre-” (“there is no such thing as pre-!!!”) diabetes and me and Paula Deen

January 23rd, 2012

Oh, Paula Deen, Paula Deen. Jamie and Bobbie… You get over here, too, please, so we can have a little chat.

The Op-Ed pieces are arriving, so here’s mine along with the rest of the flood. She has known for three years she has Type 2 diabetes, and the woman who shares her life, “Y’all, I have to tell ya…” didn’t tell us.

Then she makes a deal with a pharmaceutical company to rep for them, and her son gets his “low-cal” cooking show going and… there ya have it, y’all. Step right up and have a fried treat. Only in moderation. (cough, choke.) Here, try this:

Compose yourself
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Fried Twinkies are just never a good idea. Not even on a dare. “Once you’ve had one, you’ll never go back.” For that matter, donuts instead of buns on a cheeseburger? Equally lousy idea. Cheeseburgers, just your standard cheeseburgers, are a lousy idea all by their lone. Having one once in awhile is OK. If by “once in awhile” you mean “maybe twice a year.” I still prefer mine the way I did when I was a kid — no cheese, no bacon, light on the condiments and lots of pickles, lettuce and tomatoes. Then I would eat about half the burger (one patty, not two or three or four) and feed the rest to the dog.

After we lost Good Dog Gus, the first time we went out for a burger I started to set mine aside for him like always. Steve asked, Who u gonna feed your burger to now? (He eats veggie burgers, as do the kids.) (OK, make that veggie nuggets for them, or just french fries and ketchup.)

I like her shows and her family’s cookbooks, but damn. I like them in a i am hypnotized by you gah, gah, gah way.

* It is possible to make greens without ham and bacon grease.
* Just eat a damn Twinkie if you want one — don’t fry it up.
* Ribs? Once a year, if that, gaaahhhhhh…

Anthony Bourdain called her “the worst, most dangerous person” in America. Yeah, obesity and diabetes and just generally livin’ large and congratulating ourselves for it truly are the worst problems in America, in my opinion. That kind of thinking leads you to health problems, a huge deficit and war. Deen retaliates by saying, “…not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills.”

You’re worried about the grocery bill? Stop eating meat and substitute beans and rice. Anytime I buy meat, fish or chicken at the store, I go into sticker shock and swear I’m never buying it again. Yesterday, for instance, I was craving salmon cakes. Ten dollars for two of them. And salmon grows here. It isn’t like I’m having it shipped in from Europe.

Why not have some beets, instead? They’re cheaper… and really pretty.

Beets me!
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Costs? Budget? Don’t forget to budget in the health costs of cigarettes, sodapop, junk food and Pixie Sticks. Who can afford $500 a month for diabetes medicine? Get some exercise, eat right and try to rein that diabetes in if you can. It’s treatable, so much of the time. (No, I am not a medical professional, that’s my disclaimer, what do I know? But that’s what I’ve heard. The docs say that losing even 5 percent of your body weight can get your blood sugars under control. Also, people who are cutting back on or cutting out meat/dairy/eggs seem to be having luck combating diabetes.)

For those of you concerned about my innocent, growing children, “You must feed them meat!” Yeah… that. I would, you know. If they’d eat it. If they weren’t vegetarians. We do multi-vits and cook using cast-iron. Their calcium, protein, B12 and iron levels are just fine. We try to eat right and mostly do OK with it. We could do better.

I do feel a little defensive sometimes, when I hear the voices of critics, or my Dear Late Granny in my head. (I finally finished the recipes and story for her cookbook/memoir, by the way. Go me. It only took me… uh… six years? Lots of bacon, fear not. Feel free to omit it. Also lots of veggie recipes from Steve, me and our family and friends. And 100 dessert recipes. Gawd. I’ll post the link when we’re done editing and get it bound — probably a month or two down the road? #famouslastwords…)

Back to Bourdain… he seems to prefer street food in Vietnam to $650 bottles of wine. When he’s asked, Aren’t you worried about getting sick? He says, You’re more likely to get food poisoning from a buffet in America. True that.

You know what makes you sick? Eating a whole ton of greasy, fried everything. It makes your tummy sick, your skin sick, and it can make you bloated, fat and miserable. I can speak freely now cuz God love her, she’s gone, but I used to be one unhappy chick after I ate a big Sunday meal at Granny’s. Someone would scoop out three-fourths of the bacon grease from a pot of beans, and she would add in another two cups the next time she walked by.

My mom and dad cooked everything simply, without a lot of salt and hardly any grease. We joke that we’d have two or three baked pork chops on a plate, pass them around and around, and there would still be two left over. We didn’t have a lot of money and ate out only occasionally. My friends were all fast food and candy junkies. Doritos, frozen pizza, sodapop and deep-fried burritos left me grimacing. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, though, and liked to bake.

This, by the way, is not moderation:
cake pops
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

I have had a thyroid condition since I was 12 or 13. It alternates between hypo- and hyper- (cold/hot, down/up, sluggish/restless) so I never had to worry about my weight much until I hit my thirties. Even though I only gained 25 pounds with my first kid, I lost 50 after. Doesn’t that sound great? Nope. God, I was sick. The doctor had my thyroid dose racheted way too high, and between that and nursing my baby, I was dropping a pound a day. I used to joke, Want to lose a pound a day? Ask me how.

I almost bled to death and was exhausted. With our second baby, I gained 33 pounds, and took better care of myself, after. (Both kids were 10-pounders, but I didn’t get gestational diabetes. We grow ’em big in our families.)

The sugar blues hit during the first pregnancy, once the morning sickness lifted (I was actually sick for most of both pregnancies, except for the first and ninth months). Mad, mad cravings like I’ve never had before. Pepsi, Orange Crush, ice cream, cookies, cake. Dreaming about sugar, baking more than I’ve ever baked in my life. Then we shifted into “kid diet”: mac and cheese, goldfish crackers, apple and grape juice, birthday cakes, Easter candy, Halloween candy… Next thing you know, I’m swooping down into sugar crashes, not eating enough vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, and I’m comforting myself with white wine or vodka. (We bloggers have not done anyone any favors with our “Mama deserves a drinkie” mentality. We’re the new version of the drunk ’50s housewife, partying with her friends and waiting for the men to come home.)

I’ve put on too many pounds.

So I quit drinking last April — it was becoming a crutch, I was worried about diabetes, I didn’t want to set a bad example for my kids. Thyroid/diabetes issues seem to go hand-in-hand, all that hormonal/endocrine stuff ties together. I finally had the surgery I’d been putting off. Two years later, I work out almost every day (half hour yoga, plus an hour on the treadmill, water aerobics — when I make it there– and walks around our hilly neighborhood). I have loads of energy and don’t end up in the ER anymore for health complications (knock wood twice, good Lord).

Every time I have had my blood sugar levels measured, even when I’m feeling my crummiest, “oh you’re fine! and besides, there is no thing as being pre-diabetic… you’re either diabetic or not! and you’re not!” Afterwards, I used to celebrate by stopping by *$$$ for a 500-calorie fancy drink and a 500-calorie slice of poundcake (or gingerbread, scone or cooky). Then one day I read the calorie card they keep behind the counter and now I only go there once in awhile instead of constantly.

Smoking? I quit 26 years ago this coming June. I had smoked for 10 years. I’ll be 50 in two years. You do all that math.

We eat better now, we don’t eat out that often, and I’m trying (trying) to reach for a piece of fruit instead of a cooky.

Finally ripening
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Oh yeah, and I’m hooked on those “House Hunters” shows now more than the food shows.

I’ve lost almost 20 pounds, and would be happy to ditch 5, 10, or 15 more. Grateful that it’s not a bigger number than that, but if it was? I’d deal with it. Look, I’m not telling you all this personal information to be all nyah-nyah — I’ve worked hard, and I’ve faced some pretty tough challenges with all of this health crap. You know when I reach for more snacks? At night, when I’m watching TV and mmmmm big steak mmmmmmm onion rings mmmmmmm ice cream sundaes.

As a society, we’re bombarded with this. I want to feel good, not crummy. That’s what motivates me. I want the same for Steve and the kids.

So Deens… I don’t think you’ve ever set a good example, foodwise, and I don’t think you’re helping much, now. Give some credit to those of us who are trying. C’mon… step right up.


August 2nd, 2011

Yesterday my son and I were driving home down busy Allen Boulevard in busy, busy Beaverton. I heard a loud crack a second after I saw a blur whoosh from the corner of my eye. It was a senior citizen, down on the sidewalk. As I’m thinking, stroke? heart attack? a bad spot in the concrete that made her trip? i hope she’s okay I hope she’s okay… we pulled the car around and drove back. Of course I was thinking about my grandma, who fell at the store and broke her hip. And decided, while in rehab, that that was it for her. Even though the hip was healing, even though her heart condition was under control, even though her diabetes responded so well to diet. No, no, no, she said. That was it, she was done.

So she stopped eating and we lost her.

Sometimes life is sweet and sometimes life is bitter and sometimes life is just scary.

My son was worried. I told him other people had probably stopped, too, but we had to make sure she didn’t need us to wait with her. That all we could do was call 911, if needed, and wait with her. Was thinking of Miss Zoot and what a sweetie she is.

A lot can go through your head in the one minute it takes you to turn the car around.

By the time we got to her, five other people had stopped.


Shoot. And they say people don’t give a shit, nowadays.

As we drove off, I saw the truck from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue speeding down the street. I’m sure the EMTs are good looking and hunky wherever you live, too, but TVF&R? The girls and guys are exceptionally telegenic.

I don’t know how this story ends, but I hope the lady is okay. I hope that she has hope. And I hope she didn’t go into extra-shock, knowing that so many people cared enough to stop.

mmmmmmmm Thursday Recipe Club mmmmmmm: Balsamic Reduction, Chana Sag (Garbanzo & Spinach), Brown Rice, Homemade Honey Wholewheat Bread and Cherry Pie

July 21st, 2011

Now that the cookbook is fully underway (and halfway written, thank you very much), I will be running some recipes by you, alright? Alright!

You can test them if they sound good. and please, if anything doesn’t work for you (or is just so delicious you have to shout about it) e-mail me or leave notes in comments. Oh, yes. I did delete a bunch of my notes today, by accident. That wasn’t so good. I am genius at outsmarting myself when I have more than three files up at the same time. Ouchie. But my ma can bail me out, I think. (It was photo captions. Shoot.)

* This is my sister’s recipe. I ran it a long time ago, but I did a little switch-up on it. It is quite good her way, or mine:

Curried Chickpeas and Kale

2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3 cups chopped kale or 1 package frozen chopped spinach
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

Combine all ingredients in your crockpot and let it cook on low 7 to 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.

I had to fix it in a soup pot, because I have no idea where the crockpot is. I made up my own curry mix with the mortar and pestle: garam masala, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, ginger, sugar, coriander and… I think that’s it. Oh yeah. I actually found curry powder in the cupboard and threw that in, too. I thought I used twice as much in the spice mix as I should have, but it turned out to be fairly mild and the perfect amount. Curry is good that way. (Per Nan’s instructions: Mix spices into a paste with a little water; sprinkle over onions while they saute and stir like mad so they don’t burn. Mmm…)

We served it over brown rice, and I added fresh mozzarella to mine, which almost (almost) tasted like paneer. Mmmmmmmm… paneer… My sister knows how to make it from scratch — I’ll have to get her over her to show me how.

What else? I used a package of frozen spinach since we didn’t have kale. And since Steve for no good reason (or bad reason) doesn’t like kale. This saddens me, because I love kale and could eat it every day. Especially Kale Chips, oh yum.

* Next? I realized that my poor, deprived Wacky Girl has been without homemade bread for days now. So I made the one from the breadmaker recipe book and it will be ready at approximately 10 o’clock tonight. My girl likes homemade bread.

That makes me happy. (PS there is a good bread recipe on that link, if you are interested.)

If you are in need of more breadmaker recipes, there are about 8,000 online, fyi. (Here is the homemade pizza dough recipe my extended family is nuts about. Excellent good.)

* I still have not mastered my Dear Late Granny’s Pie Crust recipe, so I used this one, instead:


3 cups flour
1 cup veggie oil
1/2 cup orange juice

Stir together with fork.
Separate into two equally sized balls of dough.
Roll each ball of dough out between two pieces of wax paper.

The woman who shared it with me wrote “Easy, easy, yummy, yummy” at the end of the recipe, and she was right! I didn’t have any orange juice, so I used water. (You wouldn’t want the citrus if you were using this crust for a savory pie, either.)

I stirred together a can of cherries with some sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and cornstarch. It wasn’t enough filling, but I’ll double it next time. Also, I prefer metal cake/pie pans to glass, why didn’t I use one?

Trick from Granny: Sprinkle sugar on the top crust and it will make it crunchy-brown-sugary on top.

* I wanted to do a Caprese Salad (fresh Roma tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves), a la the Pioneer Woman, so I thought I’d try my hand at doing a Balsamic Reduction. Well, it started to boil too much, and then when I turned it down it wasn’t boiling enough, so… it didn’t reduce as much as I would have liked. But still, it reduced by about 2/3 so good enough. Also, I realized that Caprese Salad in no way complemented Chana Sag, brown rice or the macaroni and cheese out of a box that the kids were eating.

I just wanted a Caprese Salad.

So I’ll have one tomorrow night — since the reduction is in a jar in the fridge and ready to go.

Bon appetit!