March 14, 2013

March Daybook: Savannah Edition

For Today ( make sure you join the fun! Participate over at The Simple Woman's Daybook Blog!)

March 14, 2013
Outside my window... a beautiful, even though it's a little chilly, Savannah morning! I am thinking...about what project I need to begin. I feel a painting coming on, but I'm not sure where to start.
I am thankful...for friends. It's so true that friends are the family you choose. I am so blessed to have a friend who was willing to pick me up, then drive me to South Carolina when I didn't have another way to make it to see my grandmother on her 86th birthday. Thank you, Deanna!
In the kitchen...I made grits this morning! It's the first time Mary and Deanna have had what I call REAL Southern grits. They enjoyed them, so breakfast was a success!
I am wearing...jammies! Lay-around-and-be-lazy days are awesome.
I am creating...well, just writing right now. My brain is stewing something up, though.
I am going...nowhere unless I feel like it!
I am wondering... Oh, I am always wondering - well, worrying - about what's happening next. I try and try to live in the moment, but my pre-planning gene is too active sometimes!
I am reading... Spirited: Unlock Your Psychic Self and Change Your Life by Rebecca Rosen, Samantha Rose
I am hoping... to keep up with my "training". I found three or four FIRM workouts that I love, so I hope I can keep gaining strength (and eventually see pounds come off. They weren't kidding; after 30 it's so much harder!)
I am looking forward to... seeing what else we get into while I'm here in Savannah!
I am learning... to take every single thing moment by moment. Still. You'd think that lesson was easier to grasp.
Around the house...sleeping puppies. It's so cute when they dream and snore!
I am pondering...nothing deep. Just thinking about another cup of coffee.
A favorite quote for today... "Isn't it funny how, day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different." ~C.S. Lewis
One of my favorite things...spending time with friends!
A few plans for the rest of the week: The plan this week is to make no plans! It's a do-whatever kind of thing!
A peek into my day...well, this was from yesterday, but it still made my day. My best friends Deanna and Mary took me up to Aiken, SC for the day so I wouldn't miss visiting my grandmother for her 86th birthday! Not only did it make my day, but it was the best present they could have given her (her words!). I love this shot of her blowing out her candles. Nothing better than a day full of family and friends!
I will always cherish this shot! She was so happy when I made it to visit for her birthday, and then we were surprised again with a big family crowd for her birthday lunch! She said "I've had a wonderful day ever since my feet it the floor!"

January 2, 2013

Welcoming the New Year!

Welcome, 2013!

The New Year is always a crazy time of change for me for some reason. Some of it might be the sudden halt we skid to after the build up of the holidays ever since October. I suspect the rest of it is the huge anticipation of the year to come, not to mention looking back on what I may not have accomplished.

We always put so much pressure on ourselves to stick to resolutions! I haven't officially made any, but you know I have things in mind I want to change, make better, learn...insert any word you want there, really. SO, instead of stressing (like I am usually prone to do) I decided to start my blogging year off with The Simple Woman's Daybook; it always makes me slow down and appreciate the little things. (If you want to participate, make sure you click the link!)

FOR TODAY - January 2, 2012

Outside my window... it's already getting dark! I can't believe how late it feels, but I'm glad it isn't cold. I am so thankful I moved to Florida!

I am thinking... I am really hard on myself, even though I am better than I used to be. Why is it so hard to be nice to yourself?

I am thankful...for my loving husband, Rob. It doesn't matter what is going on in my day, he always knows just what to do to make me feel better. That means the world to me.

In the kitchen...thawing out some chicken for dinner. I don't know how I'm going to top Rob's BBQ grilled pork chops from yesterday though!

I am jammies, still. Ah, the luxuries of being a house wife, huh? Yeah, I don't do it every day, so don't judge!

I am creating... undue anxiety for myself. I always feel pushed to get paintings started so they will be closer to a finish point. I always rush myself to learn new things faster than humanly possible. This year, I will really work on allowing myself to be human.

I am going... to keep on trying, even if I don't get it right the first time. Or the fifth. Everyone was a beginner at some point.

I am wondering... which project to start first!

I am reading... Discover Your Psychic Type by Sherrie Dillard and Spirited by Rebecca Rosen

I am hoping... to find being more assertive easier than I anticipate.

I am looking forward to... learning more about my new camera. I've only had it since Christmas, so I'm being too hard on myself about not knowing everything I think I should.

I am learning... to give myself time and space. I'm also learning to slow down and teach myself that I don't have to finish a project in one day, or do something "right the first time." It's hard to remember that life is about learning, so mistakes happen.

Around the house...ugh. I have post holiday clean up waiting on me. Why does laundry multiply exponentially during the holidays?

I am pondering...which photography course to take first. I'm pretty excited about starting this new journey! If you have a suggestion, please share!

A favorite quote for today... Those who wish to sing always find a song. ~Swedish Proverb

One of my favorite things... a warm cup of French Vanilla coffee on the couch with my cats snuggled around me. Nothing much better than that!

A few plans for the rest of the week: in an effort to live in the moment, I'm not going to make any hard plans!

A peek into my day...  I'm learning how to do some interesting things with my new camera. I love the Bokeh effect, so I tried and tried, and I think I finally got the basics down! Now if I could just get my beach pictures in focus...

November 21, 2012

What the Heck is a Hoecake, Anyway?

Ah, the humble, oh-so-yummy hoecake. It's just a part of my Southern heritage, so the word rolls off my tongue easily, but it's drawn some pretty funny looks quite a few times for me as well. So, since it is Thanksgiving Eve, I thought there was no better time to explain one of my favorite holiday traditions.

A Little Hoecake History...

It's isn't so much of a cake as a bread really. This most humble of breads goes by many names: Johnny cake, Shawnee cake, ash cakes and even corn pone...but it will forever be a hoecake to me. Hoecakes have a long heritage in the South. According to one source, they were called johnny cakes in South Carolina as early as 1739, but the word hoecake first showed up around 1745.  I've read loads of different stories and tales about the origins of the hoecake, but nothing seems to pin down exactly where they came from. Suffice it to say, Native Americans had a long tradition of using corn and slaves carried on that tradition and are usually credited with making these Southern treasures.

So, what the heck is a hoecake, anyway?

It's different the world over now, but the traditional Southern hoecake is basically a cornbread pancake. These yummy little boogers get their name from the method used to cook them. Shovels and other farming tools were regularly used for cooking throughout the South in the 1700's, and one such utensil was the garden hoe. The large, flat spade on the hoe made it perfect for using as a griddle. Now that's ingenuity, people!  Don't tell me necessity isn't the mother of invention! Slaves would make a batch of corn mash (at it's simplest, ground corn meal mixed with hot water or milk, then fried in some sort of fat. I mean, it is a Southern thing, remember?) and then cook them on the blade of a hoe over an open fire. If you were super lucky, they might have even been served with a side of honey or maple syrup. Yum!

Nowadays, the recipe is a tad more involved (and the cooking surface is much improved) but the tradition is still one of my favorites. My sister loves herself a hoecake, and whoever makes the dressing always has to save one for her...if she isn't on hand to snatch one, that is! I remember listening to my grandmother talking about her recipe while I helped with preparations. We never had an educational discussion about why they were hoecakes. They were simply hoecakes and part of our Thanksgiving dressing recipe.

I think I was in 2nd grade before I learned why they had such a name. Mrs. Risher was awesome, and I spent a lot of time just talking to her at recess...yeah, I was that kid. It was Mrs. Risher that ended up explaining what a hoecake was during a class discussion/coloring worksheet session about blessings we were thankful for at Thanksgiving. (That was back around 1988. You know, when you could still talk about being thankful for blessings in school.) She had asked the class to raise our hands if we wanted to share a family tradition and I volunteered hoecake dressing. Yep, I was that kid too...always thankful for food.

Anyway, ever since then I was in love with anything about the past, so I cherished the fact my grandmother's recipe was centuries old...kind of. Who knew a little thing like a hoecake could hold so much history! So, now you know what a hoecake is and how it came to be. I guess you want the recipe to try your own, right? OK!

The Recipe

Now, I have to warn you of something: this recipe is like a lot of my grandmother's recipes. She doesn't measure. Ever. I don't think I've ever seen a measuring cup in her kitchen. She is an on-the-fly, just-gonna-eye-it kind of gal so I'm sorry in advance for the vague directions. This is as close as I could get after making it right along with her and writing things down every 5 to 10 seconds.

You're welcome.

1 cup self-rising corn meal  (*corn meal + a sprinkle of baking powder)
1 1/4 cup self rising flour   (*I used the same amount of Pamela's GF Baking and Pancake Mix)
1 egg
8 TBsp butter, melted (1 stick)
about 3 cups chicken broth (you may or may not use it all)

*Special note! Follow the starred suggestions for gluten free hoecakes, like me!

-Get yourself a skillet or griddle and heat it to medium or medium high.
-I spray my pan with cooking spray, but you can go all Southern Traditional and use butter.
-Whisk your corn meal and flour together, then add your egg and butter and mix until combined.
- Begin to add your chicken broth, stirring until combined. Add as much as you need to make a batter the consistency of thick pancake batter. It shouldn't be too runny.
-Use a medium spoon (I use a 1/4 measuring cup for larger ones, a tablespoon for smaller ones) and drop small to medium puddles of batter into your hot pan. Brown, then flip when you start to see bubbles. This is basically when you cook them just like regular pancakes.
-ENJOY! These are great with just a pat of butter, or you could go old school and eat them drizzled with honey or maple syrup.

Our Thanksgiving from 2010! These pictures were better than 2011, haha!
Thanks for listening to my ramblings, y'all. All this aside, make sure to take time tomorrow between the gravy and the cranberry sauce to be thankful for the fact you have both those things and more. I am so very thankful to be blessed with family and friends I adore, a roof over my head, a caring husband with a wonderful career, and food on our table...and much much more. I'm thankful you decided to share a moment here with me and I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you! God Bless!