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Filed under: prairie musings, recipes, Mackenzie, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 9:24 pm

Everyone is gearing up for Christmas.  My fellow inmates who can get out and about to shop are coming back to the Palace laden with sacks full of gifts and Christmas goodies.  Most of us just rely on Christmas envelopes to brighten the holidays for our children, grandchildren, and other loved ones.  Everyone understands.

Last night I had the most wonderful dinner at my friend Lynn’s house.  Included with the group were her mother and her mother’s Friday night dinner club.  They have included me on several occasions and I’ve enjoyed being with them.  It just happens that three of the ladies grew up in Ellsworth but have long lived in Salina so there is never a shortage of conversation about the town that holds many memories for each of us.

Lynn had her table set with lovely china and crystal with a couple of bottles of decanted wine standing close by.  Everything she served was delicious…pork loin slathered with a thick paste made of peppers and other seasonings and roasted to perfection.  She also made a very yummy butternut squash casserole and a delicious combination of two kinds of kale steamed with herbs.  For dessert, there were individual ramekins filled with warm apple cranberry dessert.

I had one of the aides from Health Care drive me to Lynn’s to avoid any possible mishaps.  Lynn brought me home as her house is only a short distance from the Palace.  It was only about 10 pm but not a creature was stirring.  For a place that is huge and has lots of residents, it’s very quiet, which I appreciate.

Today, for the first time since my arrival, the vinegar cruets on the dining tables contained apple cider vinegar rather than tasteless white distilled vinegar.  That was a pleasant surprise particularly since we had Brussels sprouts as an option for lunch.  I like my sprouts swimming in good vinegar so now I don’t have to take my own small bottle to meals which everyone thinks is a shot from the last plane trip I took.  We also had teriyaki chicken which was good, a tasty potato casserole and pumpkin pie topped with ice cream.

Today I sat with Doris, Hazel and Joy.  We always have fun together with lots of laughs.  There were lots of people missing from lunch, or so it appeared.  I guess some were just late arriving.

My granddaughter’s boyfriend’s birthday was today so she baked him what he requested…a “moist” chocolate cake. Here’s the handsome guy with a piece of his birthday cake.  Happy Birthday, Ty Walk.


Mackenzie got the recipe from master baker Greg Connally who got it from Mildred Grubb.  It is scrumptiously delicious.  Here’s the recipe, if you’d like a good, easy and very dependable chocolate sheet cake, or layer cake:

Mildred Grubb’s Good and Moist Chocolate Cake.  2 c. all purpose flour, 2 c. granulated sugar, 2/3 cup cocoa powder (I use a little more to make it extra chocolate-y), 1 t. baking powder, 1 t. baking soda, 1 t. salt .**Whisk dry ingredients together in mixing bowl until well blended and blend 1 c. vegetable oil, 1 c. buttermilk,  2 large eggs **Add above wet ingredients til well incorporated. Once incorporated, add 1 c. boiling water ** add boiling water slowly, scraping the bottom of the mixing bowl to incorporate. **grease and dust pans with cocoa powder. I use a 9X13, or use 2-8″ cake pans. Bake at 350 until tooth pick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. 45 minutes.

When you get the cake out of the oven, it will be domed…I usually lay a paper towel over the cake and gently push the air out of it until the top is all level…it makes it more moist, and it looks better. If doing a 9X13…I use the following “glaze”. If doing a layer cake, I use chocolate butter cream. Glaze: (in a small sauce pan) 1 stick butter (melt) 1 c. granulated sugar 1/2 c. cocoa powder pinch of salt 1 c. milk 1 t. vanilla bring to a slow rolling boil for three minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Whisk to incorporated. Pour over warm cake…glaze will soak in to cake. If you want the icing a little thicker, add powdered sugar until desired thickness is achieved.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings, recipes, Heritage turkeys/chickens, Ryon Carey — Peg Britton @ 1:36 pm

I posted this Nov. 17,  2010 and it’s worth repeating.

Ryon Carey got this recipe from his friend Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse.   Chez Panisse is a Berkeley, California restaurant known as the birthplace of California cuisine, a style credited to its co-founder, Alice Waters.

The restaurant is located in the north Berkeley neighborhood known locally as the “Gourmet ghetto”. Chez Panisse has been listed by Restaurant magazine from 2006 to 2008 as one of the top fifty restaurants in the world.  In 2006 and 2007, Michelin awarded the restaurant a one-star rating in its guide to San Francisco Bay Area dining.

The best turkeys I’ve ever eaten were ones that I’ve soaked in brine as they are exceptionally moist and juicy.  My recipe is much simpler than this and even though it produces a similar product, it lacks the full flavor of this recipe.  If you’ve never brined a turkey before baking it, you might want to give it a try.  You need to keep it cold while it is in the brine.

For brining, start with a fresh turkey or a completely thawed turkey that is not basted or self-basted. If you can find a homegrown, free-range, fresh heritage turkey, so much the better.

Turkey Brine from Chez Panisse

2 1/2 gal. water
2 cups Kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 bay leaves, torn
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 whole head of garlic, separated and peeled
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 juniper berries, smashed
1 bunch fresh sage
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 bunch parsley
10 peppercorns
8 shallots, peeled

Place water in non-reactive container, add all ingredients and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved.  Put turkey in brine for 24 hours, completely submerged.  Remove bird, rinse well and drain.  Pat dry.  Roast bird for 20 minutes per lb. or until juices run clear and turkey is tender.

You can place a frozen turkey in the cold brine and let it thaw.  Don’t brine the giblets.  A fresh turkey will keep for 28 days in a refrigerator at 40 degrees or lower (which is much colder than most household refrigerators).  The trick is to find out how many days it was refrigerated before you bought it. Remove the packaging from a fresh turkey,  remove giblets, then re-wrap and freeze the turkey. Place turkey in brine to thaw  for 24 hours before the big day.

You’ll experience the best turkey you ever had.



Filed under: prairie musings, friends, recipes, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 9:52 am

Ally and some of our Colorado girls friends called me the other night and asked that I explain what “spatchcock” meant, without looking it up.  I was clueless and had to look it up.  It’s a cooking term for preparing chicken.  I’ve done it dozens of times but didn’t realize it had a name.

You remove the backbone from the chicken  and pound on the breast which breaks the breast bone resulting in a very manageable chicken that can be beautifully grilled.  And there you have it, in case you were wondering.  A chicken that has been spatchcocked!


Here’s how:  You cut out the back bone, then turn on its back and push down hard on the breast until you hear the breast bone crack. The chicken should lay perfectly flat. 2 hours before you put the bird on the grill prep the bird and get a bottle of Italian salad dressing add 1/2 tsp. of cumin and garlic powder or garlic on the skin to taste and juice of 1 lemon. Put the marinade on the bird underneath the skin and on top of the skin. Your fingers work just fine to loosen the skin from the meat leaving the edges attached, makes kind of a pocket. Leave it in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Get the BBQ coals going and make enough coals so you can split in half and have a pile of coals on each side leaving the center open. The purpose is to keep the bird from being over coals so you cook indirect. Keep temperature around 350 degrees. Place the breast side down for 25 minutes then flip the bird and do the other side for 25 minutes. The bird is done when the internal meat temperature is 165 degrees, so about an hour on the grill with the lid closed.

The oil in the salad dressing makes the skin crisp and the bird very juicy, the best. This is pretty easy to do and it is excellent chicken.

Thanks for tuning in….



Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 8:35 pm

I posted this recipe in January 2010 and readers have sought out the recipe ever since.  I thought I’d post it again as it is very good chili…and I haven’t posted a recipe lately.

My good friend, Jesse Manning, appeared recently for a visit and brought me some of his famous chili.  He made it in preparation for a party yesterday for his father and other relatives.  He sent me the recipe so that I could share it with readers.  Jesse is a good cook and admits this isn’t an original recipe, but one he really favors.  If you like hellfire chili, you’ll love this. Jesse said this is very hot as you eat it, but the minute you finish the “hotness” stops and you don’t have that left-over burning sensation as you do with some hot dishes.


Serves: 8

1 pound of ground beef
1 pound of ground pork or sausage
Either 1/2 or 3/4 pound of bacon
6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
6 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped
8 Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 ounce Thai garlic chile paste (found in the Asian section of most larger grocery stores)
1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 and 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 14.5 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained
3 oz tomato paste
2 16 oz cans chili beans, drained
1 12 oz can of beer (Bud Light or equivalent … nothing too fruity or too dark!)
2 cups water

1. It’ll pay off to prep a lot of the ingredients ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to get the peppers chopped up while the meat is cooking. Split all of the peppers and take out the seeds. (You can leave the seeds in one or two peppers, but the more you leave in, the more unbearably hot it will be … it’s warm enough without the seeds!) Finely chop all the peppers, including the bell, and do the same for the onion and the garlic. Mix all the chopped ingredients into a bowl and add the red pepper flakes, chili powder, Thai garlic chile paste, cumin, bouillon granules, crushed tomatoes, whole tomatoes and the tomato paste. Mix all the ingredients together well and set the bowl aside — you’ll need it later!

2. Cooking everything in a large stock pot works best. Cook the bacon at a medium-high heat in the pot until it’s evenly brown; remove the bacon from the pot, let it drain on paper towels and set it aside for later, as well. Drain MOST of the bacon grease from the pot, but be sure to leave some at the bottom of the pot for flavor.

3. Brown the beef and pork in the pot over a medium-high heat.

4. Return to your large bowl of ingredients and put in the beer and the water. Mix well and then stir everything from the bowl into the meat in the pot. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for an hour, stirring every 10 or 15 minutes.

5. After an hour, add the drained chili beans to the pot and chop or crush the bacon and add it to the pot, too. Stir the contents of the pot together well and continue simmering for another 30 minutes.

As is, this recipe is very spicy. You can adjust the heat of the recipe by either removing peppers (particularly the habaneros) or leaving in more seeds. When refrigerated, the bacon grease left in the chili will turn orange and rise to the top of the chili; don’t remove it! Stir it in when reheating, as it adds a lot of flavor to the recipe.


Oh … and wear gloves when handling the peppers. Trust me, rubbing your eyes or visiting the bathroom after handling habaneros without gloves is not recommended!



Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 2:28 pm

I hit on a recipe last night that I really like. The basis for it came out of Kansas Country Living magazine, but, of course, I had to improvise.

Tuscan Glazed Chicken Breasts:

I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and put them on a jellyroll pan (lined with aluminum foil for easy clean up)  then sprinkled them sparingly with Tony’s Chachere’s seasoning and fresh ground pepper.

I can’t tell you the exact amount of the following, and it doesn’t really matter.  I had three breasts to cover so I just guessed from that.

To a big dollop of Hellman’s mayonnaise (maybe 2/3 cup), I added a couple teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, about one tablespoon Italian seasoning, several cloves of fresh garlic, chopped, and maybe 1/4 cup of chopped roasted red peppers (out of a jar).  Mix that and spread evenly on the chicken breasts.  Mine were well covered with the thick sauce.  Over that, I sprinkled fine Italian bread crumbs.

I pre-heated the oven to 425 degrees and cooked the breasts for half hour or so.  After they were nice and brown, I reduced the heat to 350 and continued baking until they were done.  It made for a wonderful dinner along with a baked sweet potato and green peas.  (I had my romaine/veggie salad for lunch.)

The neat thing is, the sliced cold breast and that lovely sauce on a slice of whole wheat bread makes a fantastic, flavor-filled sandwich.  I prefer it cold, but I suppose you could heat it if you liked.  It’s very easy to prepare and a keeper recipe.


3, 2, 1 CAKE … EASY AS 1, 2, 3

Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 8:46 pm

A friend sent me this recipe today…I guess it has been around the block, but I haven’t seen it before.  I think I’ll give it a try some evening and make a cup of cake.   This is perfect for those of us with just one or two in the house. I won’t make a full size cake because it just goes to waste.  This way I can satisfy an itch with little or no effort.

3, 2, 1 CAKE

These individual little cakes are amazing and ready to eat in one minute! They are perfect for whenever you  feel like a small treat.


1 box Angel Food Cake Mix

1 box Cake Mix - Any Flavor

2 Tbsp Water

Makes 1 serving.


In a ziploc bag, combine the two cake mixes together and mix well. For each individual cake serving, take out 3 Tablespoons of the cake mix combination and mix it with 2 Tablespoons of water in a small microwave-safe container. Microwave on high for 1 minute, and you have your own instant individual little cake.

KEEP remaining cake mixture stored in the ziploc bag and use whenever you feel like a treat! You can top each cake with a dollop of fat free whipped topping and/or some fresh fruit.  Or not.  I prefer my cake icing free.

Helpful Tips:

This recipe is called 3, 2, 1 Cake because all you need to remember is:

3 tablespoons mix

2 tablespoons water

1 minute in the microwave.

Try various flavors of cake mix like carrot, red velvet, pineapple, lemon, orange, etc. Just remember that one of the mixes has to be the angel food, the other is your choice.  The flavor possibilities are endless.


The best thing is, you open both cake mixes into a gallon storage bag, one that ‘zip locks’ or ’self-seals’, or a  container that seals tightly, shake the two cake mixes to blend and then make the recipe. Storage of mix is simple…put it on a shelf. No need to refrigerate, since the mix is dry.

Always remember, that one of the cake mixes MUST be  Angel Food. The other can be any flavor.

The Angel Food is the cake mix that has the eggs whites in it. So, if, anyone is allergic to egg whites, you CAN NOT serve this recipe.  For diabetics, use the sugar free cake mixes.



Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 11:56 am

This is one of my favorite recipes for a special occasion.  It’s not all that difficult and the results are well worth the time it takes to put together.  I like to serve it with a  bowl of French baby greens topped with with a drizzling of oil and vinegar dressing.


Food blogger Jenna Weber channels Julia Child with her take on beef bourguignon. Jenna shares her inspiration for the dish in a full post on the Fresh Tastes blog.


2 lbs beef stew meat, chopped into bite sized chunks
¼ cup flour
2 tsp salt, divided
¼ tsp pepper
3 tbsp canola oil, divided
1 tbsp butter
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp fresh minced thyme
3 cups dry red wine
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 lb small yellow potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt + pepper


Combine the flour, 1 tsp salt and pepper in a large Ziploc bag and then add the beef and shake well so all the beef has been covered by the flour.

Heat 1 tbsp oil and butter in a large cast iron (or heavy bottomed) pan over medium high heat. Once the butter has melted and is sizzling, add the beef and cook for about 4 minutes per side, until just browned. Remove beef and place on a plate.

In a large pot, heat the other tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions, carrots and celery. Sprinkle vegetables with a pinch of salt and sauté for ten minutes (adding the minced garlic after five minutes) until onion is translucent and carrots have started to become tender. Add the minced thyme and stir to combine.

Then, add the beef to the vegetables along with the wine and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer (put heat setting on low) and partially cover pot, leaving about a half inch open.

Slowly simmer beef for three hours. After three hours, the wine should have reduced to a thick, velvety sauce and the beef should be very, very tender. Season with the additional teaspoon of salt and a pinch of black pepper.

Near the end of the simmering process, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt, and sauté for ten minutes until tender. Stir cooked mushrooms into beef at the very end.

To make the roasted potatoes, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash potatoes and chop into fourths. Lay potatoes on a foil lined sheet tray and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes, tossing occasionally, until crisp and golden.

To serve, remove bay leaf from beef and serve beef alongside roasted potatoes with an additional sprig of thyme and a hefty glass of red wine.

Yield: 6 servings



Filed under: prairie musings, recipes, Jeffee Palmer — Peg Britton @ 8:27 am

New post on Now and Thenadays

Jeffee Palmer
Lawyer, historian, writer, mother, grandmother, native Texan, UT grad, and proud Austinite!

Observer of life who writes about language, literature, history, and politics. I have worked in state government for over 35 years, nine years in the Legislature, nine years in the Comptroller’s office, and 20 years practicing law at the Attorney General’s office.


The Proof is in the Pudding
by nowandthenadays

Food goes hand in hand, or hand to mouth, with the holidays.  In our family, we generally choose the traditional holiday fare, coming together for Thanksgiving at my Uncle Bob and Aunt Jerilyn’s house to eat turkey, her inimitable cornbread dressing, and real giblet gravy.  The rest of us bring all the other traditional meal components – a baked ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, broccoli/rice casserole, fruit salad, green salad, etc.

For Christmas, we’ve occasionally gone “alternative,” but invariably, we return to the traditional fare for the next Christmas.  The turkey/dressing and all the rest is our comfort food, partly, I believe, because Christmas can get so complicated, it’s a relief not to have to think much about at least one element of the holiday.

Also, it’s comforting how the traditional fare, with its tastes and smells of holidays past, summon the memory and spirit of the women cooks in our clan, long deceased, who used to cook these same dishes.  My grandmother, Madeline, in particular, is the one who taught my aunt to cook, and they both taught me (with minimal input from my mother who hated to cook).  My aunt has been my main resource for the last 20 years or so on culinary issues, as she owns a prodigious number of cook books and seems to have a personal relationship with Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray.

And now she is passing her expertise on to an even younger generation.  This Christmas was significant because my nieces took over preparation of the turkey and dressing with my aunt’s supervision.  In years to come, whenever they prepare these for us and/or their own families, they will no doubt think solely of her, having never met Grandmother, of course.

But they need to thank my grandmother (their great-grandmother) for my own year-end, year-out contribution to the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners:  one of her desserts, which she called “Angel Delight.”  She didn’t start making it until after she relocated to Round Rock from Dallas after retirement.  When I asked her for the recipe, she wrote it out on a piece of paper, leading me to believe that she might have invented it.  After she died, I found it on page 185 of the 1978 edition of The Round Rock Official Good Eat’n and General Gourmet Cookbook, which was among her books.  Called “Four Layer Delight” in that book, the recipe calls for ½ cup more of flour than Grandmother called for in hers.  I assume she thought it was better with less.  She also tweaked the pudding layer.  Instead of 1 large package of chocolate pudding mix, she called for two small packages, one chocolate and the other vanilla, mixed together.

In the many years since her death, I took over the production of what many in the older generation informally call “Grandmother’s pudding dessert,” partly because it was so popular and partly to keep Grandmother with us during the festivities.  It’s popularity has only grown among family newcomers and the kids that have grown up and passed on the pudding dessert craving in their DNA.   As the years go by, there’s little doubt that the dessert will be linked to me and referred to as (cousin, aunt) “Jeffee’s pudding dessert.”

Strangely enough, a few years ago, a colleague at the Attorney General’s office was raving about a dessert that was made for office parties by one of his division’s secretaries.  His description sounded eerily familiar, so I asked if he would ask her for the recipe.  He did and, sure enough, it was the Angel Delight, although she calls it “Chocolate Supreme Dessert.”  She makes it with the same amount of flour as my grandmother, but has innovated a bit by mixing some of the pudding from the pudding layer with the cool whip used for the top layer.

While Grandmother’s top layer was always white (hence, the angel name), her top is a muddy chocolate color.
So, after such ado about this pudding dessert, you will be glad to read that I’m providing it here for you, dear readers and family members.  I am calling it “Madeline’s Angel Delight,” but if you dare to make it and serve it at your own gathering, you are obviously free to call it by any of its other names or make up your own.  I say “dare” because you may be unwittingly starting a tradition and making the dessert for the rest of your cooking life.  You think I exaggerate, but I’ve often thought of the disappointed faces (or lynch mob) I’d face if I dared to make something different.  On the other hand, it’s nice to be appreciated.   So, without further ado:

Madeline’s Angel Delight

1 cup flour
1 stick margarine, softened
1 cup chopped pecans
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8 oz carton cool whip
2 small pkgs of instant pudding (1 chocolate, 1 vanilla)
3 cups milk

Mix together first 3 ingredients and press into bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes til lightly brown around edges. Cool before spreading next layer.

Mix cream cheese and sugar; fold in 1 cup of the cool whip. Spread carefully over crust (which will pull up if you over-manipulate it as you spread).

Mix the vanilla and chocolate pudding mixes with 3 cups milk (instead of the 4 cups on box instructions).  Spread pudding over cream cheese layer.

Spread remaining cool whip over pudding layer.  Refrigerate well.

I will note for those of you who are not wed to a family chocolate tradition, that butterscotch, lemon, or vanilla pudding can be substituted for the chocolate, according to the office secretary.  She has also been known to sprinkle the top layer with chopped pecans or crushed peppermint, and recommends freezing the dessert overnight and removing it to the refrigerator several hours before serving.

Just remember, you have been forewarned.  Here’s wishing you a bon appetit and a happy and healthy 2012!



Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 7:50 am

This is my latest favorite recipe.  I followed this recipe for the most part, except I adjusted it for the amount I wanted to make.  I didn’t need to measure anything.  I made the sauce (I used Splenda brown sugar), added dried cranberries and cooked it to reduce some of the liquid.  Then I mixed the cooked Brussels sprouts with the sauce, added the crisp bacon and served it.  It was so good, I think we could have made a meal of it.  It’s also quick and easy.


•    10 cups water
•    Salt
•    4 pounds Brussels sprouts
•    5 or 6 pieces bacon, minced
•    1 red onion, medium dice
•    4 tablespoons butter, divided
•    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
•    2 tablespoons brown sugar
•    1 cup fresh or dried cranberries
•    Freshly ground black pepper


In a large pot, over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Generously salt the water and add the Brussels sprouts. Cook the sprouts until medium tenderness has been reached, about 8 to 10 minutes.In the meantime, in a large saucepan over medium heat fry the bacon until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from the pan to a plate lined with a paper towel. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Leave the bacon fat in the pan and add the red onions and 3 tablespoons of the butter. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the red wine vinegar and brown sugar and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

Drain the Brussels sprouts from water and add to pan with the onions. Stir to coat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Stir in the reserved bacon and cranberries. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste, and transfer to a serving bowl to serve.



Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 10:04 am

Eons ago, Brit and I spent a few days in Jamaica.  I can’t even remember very much about it now, except that we had a great time and particularly enjoyed their famous Jerk Chicken.   I bought some jerk spice that seemed to be available everywhere so I could prepare the dish once we returned home.  Then, I must have forgotten about it.

Fast forward 35 years.  Grandson Drew just spent some time in Jamaica attending the wedding of friends and he too discovered Jerk Chicken.  He came home with a bagful of spices for it and treated us to dinner last night.  It really is a terrific dish and we are hooked on it.  We all like “hot and spicy” food.
You can probably find the dry mix at Trader Joe’s or some such place, but if not, this is what you do. It’s really rather easy to put together and it’s well worth the effort. Then you find Todd or Drew to cook it over charcoal and you have a dish fit for kings.

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into chunks…or filets.
4 limes, juiced
1 cup water
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped green onions
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 habanero peppers, chopped


Place chicken in a medium bowl. Cover with lime juice and water. Set aside.
In a blender or food processor, place allspice, nutmeg, salt, brown sugar, thyme, ginger, black pepper and vegetable oil. Blend well, then mix in onions, green onions, garlic and habanero peppers until almost smooth.
Pour most of the blended marinade mixture into bowl with chicken, reserving a small amount to use as a basting sauce while cooking. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat.
Brush grill grate with oil. Cook chicken slowly on the preheated grill. Turn frequently, basting often with remaining marinade mixture. Cook to desired doneness



Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 8:53 am

My friend, Janis Gore of Gone South, posts some very good recipes on her blog from time to time.   Since garlic chicken stir fry loaded with pea pods is one of my favorites, I thought I’d repost it.  She said she got it off All Recipes then she and her husband tweaked it to their tastes.  I’m sure it’s a keeper.



2 tablespoons peanut oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsps minced fresh ginger
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced cabbage
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Scant tsp white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 minced dried Thai chilies
1 carrot thinly sliced
mushrooms to taste
can of bamboo shoots, drained
can of bean sprouts, drained


Heat peanut oil in a wok or large skillet. When oil begins to smoke, quickly stir in 2 cloves minced garlic, ginger root, green onions and salt. Stir fry until onion becomes translucent, about 2 minutes. Add chicken and stir until opaque, about 3 minutes. Add remaining 4 cloves minced garlic and stir. Add sweet onions, cabbage, bell pepper, peas and 1/2 cup of the broth/water and cover.

In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1/2 cup broth/water, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch. Add sauce mixture to wok/skillet and stir until chicken and vegetables are coated with the thickened sauce. Serve immediately, over hot rice if desired.



Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 12:23 pm

John, my second cousin once removed,  is a nurse in community relations at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. He is also a volunteer with Audio-Reader (readers for the blind) in Lawrence.  He’s a busy guy but finds time for cooking, canning and preserving various fresh products.

Recently, he was asked to being his “fabulous chili”  to an Audio-Reader occasion.  It has been the topic of conversation ever since, according to his sister who sent me John’s recipes.  Everyone wanted the recipe.  “Which one”, he asked.  It seems there are two.  This is the easy one.

This is his take on how to make chili, which is non-traditional, but his co-workers say it is delicious. I don’t know why it wouldn’t be.  It definitely is a “busy-bachelor-kind-of-guy recipe.”   One of those three ingredient recipes.

…if guys want to do something fool proof without help from the distaff side, this might be just the right accompaniment for “he-man chile, beer and stud poker night”.

John’s EZ Chile
Juan Grande
Put some dry pinto beans in the bottom of a crock pot, cover with water.
Put a beef roast (arm, chuck, whatever’s on sale) on top.
Cover with your favorite hot sauce.  (Pace Picante works well)  Use lots, it may take 2 quarts depending on the size of your crock pot and the volume of the meat and beans.
Get it all hot, then set the crockpot on low and walk away for about 12 hours.
When it’s done, just stir the meat and the beans together and you’re ready to enjoy.  The funny part is, if you serve this, people will ask you for the recipe.



Filed under: prairie musings, family, recipes, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 9:21 am

Now here’s something for breakfast you can’t find just anywhere:  Eggs Benedict Oscar.

For our brunch, Chef Ally is preparing Wolferman’s English muffins, topped with crisp bacon, sliced ripe tomatoes, asparagus spears,  soft poached egg, all slathered with homemade hollandaise sauce and topped with fresh steamed crab meat.   It’s very, very special…something we haven’t had in a long time.  The grandkids will be envious as they love it.

It makes my head swim just thinking about putting this all together, particularly the hollandaise sauce.  It has to be just right, and hers always is.  Mine is not all that predictable.


When the grand kids were young, grade school/junior high age, Ally and I took them tent camping in New Mexico on a patch of land she owned that was atop a mesa and 30 miles from the next human being as the crow flies.  It was a gorgeous, isolated piece of this planet that we loved.   Ally did all the cooking and nothing seemed out of her realm of possibility.  One morning as she was firing up the campfire, she asked Tyler, Drew and Mackenzie what they wanted for breakfast.  I supposed we were about out of food at this point and was surprised they were given a “choice”.  We’d already had all kinds of wonderful fruit topped pancakes, personalized omelets , scrambled eggs with dill pickles (a family favorite), etc.  “EGGS BENEDICT!”, they yelled.  Impossible, I thought.  Absolutely impossible.  Sure enough, it wasn’t long before we heard her say, “Voila!  Eggs Benedict.”  What a wonderful camping experience that was for all of us. It’s something you don’t easily forget.

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Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 5:06 pm


I had about 10# of bones and divided them between two aluminum pans for ease in handling.  It wasn’t my intention to use disposable pans, but as it turned out, it was a very good idea. One pan would have been two heavy for me to handle.  I added carrots, celery, onions and basted it all with tomato paste.

I baked it longer than the recipe called for as I wanted it well-roasted to bring out the best flavor.   I started it at 450 degrees for 40 minutes, then turned it down to 350 and continued until it was brown.  Then I turned the meat over and did it again.  It was perfect.  You just need to keep an eye on it.


Then I put the whole lot of it in my largest soup kettle filled with boiling water, pepper corns, and garlic.  It has been simmering, covered, all afternoon.  When I think it’s the right consistency, I’ll save the carrots for Ringo, separate the meat from the bones, toss out the worn out onions and celery then strain the broth.  All the goodness of the ingredients will be in the broth and ready for several batches of somethingorother.  Probably I’ll pop it in the freezer as we’re still working on the split pea soup.

The recipe for this meaty beef stock is right here.



Filed under: prairie musings, family, recipes, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 6:44 pm

It was time today to pack in some groceries for the bad weather that is predicted to come during the next few days.  There are perishables that one needs for cooking:  milk, eggs, bread, butter (don’t eat margarine!), fresh veggies and fruit. After that, it’s the pantry staples of beans, rice, canned goods that one relies on.  One is fortunate to have reserves.

The packing plant had good bones for my beef stock and smoked ham shanks for pea soup that I’ll make tomorrow.  I’ve cooked the hocks and have the meat standing by while the broth chills to be skimmed of any traces of fat.  The rest will keep me busy tomorrow.

I love my invention of  split pea soup perfected after years of adding this and that.  It’s a family favorite. I lack a medium size kohlrabi for it, but that’s not something one finds around here. Soup like that needs lots of ingredients, including some English whole peas, the last of my private stash. When the temps fall, my kitchen will be warm and cozy and full of comforting odors….as long as Western Electric is on top of things.  I can cook in my fireplace, but it’s not as easy as it once was for me.

The temperatures during the coming days are plummeting until Tuesday when the high will be 11 with a nighttime temperature dropping to minus 4.   That’s cold.  If Ally will pick up my mail when she’s about town, there won’t be much reason for me to leave the house.  Ringo and I can stay warm.

Don’t you think this would solve many of our problems?   “Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States”.

After watching a family member go through hell to try to get medical insurance, I’d like to see all public officials who have this benefit in their package to give it up and find and pay for their own health insurance.  That includes all public officials at the local level to members of Congress. Enough is enough.

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Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 9:26 am

Tomorrow I’m going to make some meaty beef stock if the packing plant has some good bones to share.  If not tomorrow, as soon as they do.

Here’s how to make it.  It simple enough but takes time.  You can’t go wrong with this recipe and it’s well worth the effort.  It requires oven-roasted beef bones and veggies to bring out the flavor.  It’s a perfect base for veggie soup, onion soup, beef stew, gravy or the sick patient.

6-7 pounds beef bones
2 large onions, unpeeled and quartered
6 carrots, brushed and quartered
4 ribs celery, quartered
1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste
A handful of fresh garlic, unpeeled
A couple of hot peppers, optional
1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
4 beef bouillon cubes
half a bunch of fresh parsley
Kosher salt to taste
16 quarts of water

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a roasting pan, place the bones, onions, carrots and celery. Brush the tomato paste over all the meat and veggies. Bake 40 minutes or until the bones and veggies turn brown and are slightly caramelized.

Put the contents in a stock pot, making sure to get all the good stuff out of the roasting pan. Add other ingredients to the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 4 hours and continue to add water if it reduces too much. Strain through a colander and dispose of the solids.

Let cool and refrigerate up to three days before using. When broth is chilled, skim off the fat on top before using. You can freeze or can the broth. It’s great to have on hand for various dishes. Buying canned broth is much simpler, but it doesn’t begin to have the flavor of this beef stock.



Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 8:25 am

Ryon Carey got this recipe from his friend Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse.   Chez Panisse is a Berkeley, California restaurant known as the birthplace of California cuisine, a style credited to its co-founder, Alice Waters.

The restaurant is located in the north Berkeley neighborhood known locally as the “Gourmet ghetto”. Chez Panisse has been listed by Restaurant magazine from 2006 to 2008 as one of the top fifty restaurants in the world.  In 2006 and 2007, Michelin awarded the restaurant a one-star rating in its guide to San Francisco Bay Area dining.

The best turkeys I’ve ever eaten were ones that I’ve soaked in brine as they are exceptionally moist and juicy.  My recipe is much simpler than this and even though it produces a similar product, it lacks the full flavor of this recipe.  If you’ve never brined a turkey before baking it, you might want to give it a try.  You need to keep it cold while it is in the brine.

For brining, start with a fresh turkey or a completely thawed turkey that is not basted or self-basted.

Turkey Brine from Chez Panisse

2 1/2 gal. water
2 cups Kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 bay leaves, torn
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 whole head of garlic, separated and peeled
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 juniper berries, smashed
1 bunch fresh sage
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 bunch parsley
10 peppercorns
8 shallots, peeled

Place water in non-reactive container, add all ingredients and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved.  Put turkey in brine for 24 hours, completely submerged.  Remove bird, rinse well and drain.  Pat dry.  Roast bird for 20 minutes per lb. or until juices run clear and turkey is tender.

You can place a frozen turkey in the cold brine and let it thaw.  Don’t brine the giblets.  A fresh turkey will keep for 28 days in a refrigerator at 40 degrees or lower (which is much colder than most household refrigerators).  The trick is to find out how many days it was refrigerated before you bought it. Remove the packaging from a fresh turkey,  remove giblets, then rewrap and freeze the turkey. Place turkey in brine to thaw  for 24 hours before the big day.



Filed under: prairie musings, recipes, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 4:19 pm


I stopped by the grade school to look at Meredith’s display case about tree houses, one of the more fanciful things to conjure in my mind.  She said it was one of her more popular displays.  The photos came from a calendar that a friend gave me.  I’d like to have the tree house pictured to the above right in a cottonwood tree in my back yard.   I mean…who wouldn’t like that?


I remember years ago, there was mention made of the possibility of some of the marble slabs coming loose from the facade of the court house and bonking someone who might be passing below.  It seems to be a concern again…or maybe they are just getting around to fixing the problem. They do look as though they are only glued in place.  Anyway, there is a lot of equipment in front of the Ellsworth County Court House surrounding our Civil War soldier with people busy at work repairing the problem.


Here’s the secret to living to be 82:  cook a mess of pinto beans with onions, garlic and seasonings;  fry up a batch of lean ground beef, seasoned with more garlic, onions, tomatoes, taco spice and tons of hot peppers.  Take a flour tortilla, spread it with beans and meat, sprinkle with cheese and roll it up.  Pop it in the microwave to get it all hot and bubbly then top with lots of shredded romaine lettuce, green onions and tomatoes right off the vine that you beg off a tomato-growing friend. Top with homemade hot salsa.   It’s a good, nutritious meal ….very yummy.

Bullying and gay bashing has become rampant in our society.  Bullies used to appear on the playground at school and harass students on the way home from school. It rarely extended beyond that.  As a grade school student,  I was always bullied and tormented by my piano teacher’s high school age son as I tried to navigate the one block from our house to her house for lessons.  He never touched me, but he threatened me and scared me to death.  I doubt I had a promising career in piano, but I loved it and quit because of him.

In addition to the gay bashing and  bullying methods mentioned in the post below,the internet has brought on an equally serious problem and it continues to grow.  Stop and think about Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers freshman, and all the promising, young children who have committed suicide because of bus, playground, classroom and cyber bullying.

Where are the decent young students whose parents have taught them to protect those less fortunate or different from themselves?  Why aren’t they standing up to the bullies and gay bashers?  Bullies crave the approval of their peers.

Online disapproval directed at cyber-bullies by more responsible and mature students would deprive them of the peer approval they crave. Instead of remaining silent and letting derogatory comments stand, it will be a good day when students get together and face up to the bullies.

Web pages like Facebook need to add a “shame on you” button next to the “like” one.  Bullies need to be exposed and silenced.  To stop the bullying, we need stronger harassment laws, tougher enforcement, education and more parental supervision.  And it all needs to start with politicians who foster the bullying because they have failed to legislate equal rights to all of our citizens.

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Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 9:49 am

It’s going to be back in the mid-90s today, which wouldn’t deter finishing the stain job on my house, but the high wind advisory will.  The tops of the trees are flapping back and forth.  Wind like that sends the finishing product across country.

It has been very quiet around here this weekend, which is all right.  I love the peace and quiet of my home and if it weren’t for Ringo barking his head off alerting me to an arriving guest or passing critter, stillness would prevail.

I ran across “24″ on my Netflix instant browse list and thought I’d give it a try.  Well, the hooks got in me fast.  It’s difficult to turn it off before watching the next episode, and the next, and the next.  It tends to wear you out.  But, I prefer that it to the constant yelling and haggling on TV and it’s a nice break from reading and doing chores.

I did make a salad that Claudia said her family enjoys.  Chop cucs, onions, red and green peppers, cover with cider vinegar and place in the refrig overnight.  Next day, cook medium size shell pasta, rinse and drain well, drain the vinegar off the veggies and mix together with Original Ranch Dressing.  I added fresh ground pepper. That’s what’s for lunch.
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Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 12:40 pm

I may have overdone it.  We’ll see.

Caleb had some gorgeous hot peppers at the market last Saturday…large habaneros and jalapenos. I’ve never seen such large habaneros.  There is nothing prettier than a basketful of beautiful hot peppers.  So I bought some and today decided to make hot salsa.

I chopped those peppers (four of each) with seeds and some milder California peppers.  To that I added two onions chopped, a large can of diced tomatoes and a medium can of tomato sauce, salt, pepper, cumin, cilantro, parsley and a teaspoon of sugar to bring out the flavor.  Also, I added four huge heaping tablespoons of minced garlic, the juice of a large lime, some chopped fresh tomatoes and a little water to get it started cooking.  Amounts don’t really matter.

Once it’s done, I’ll blend it with a bladed thingy  I have that chops it finer.  It will still be slightly chunky but blending sort of thickens it a bit and makes it less runny for dipping.  It always turns out fine, in my opinion, as it’s very flavorful.  I think it’s going to be perfect once it cooks down a bit.

I’ll take some to Todd as he likes “hot”.  So does Drew, but he’s not here.  Tyler and the rest of the family prefer less hot salsa.  And, now that I’ve tasted it with a chip, it’s very good.

Tomorrow morning is the last day of the season for the farmers’ market in Ellsworth.  I wish the season for fresh fruits and veggies were longer for us.

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