Archive for the ‘food’ Category

A Picture from Edna

This is one example of graffiti that occupying Union soldiers left upon the walls of Blenheim in Fairfax, Virginia during the War Between the States. This photograph is from the attic, however when wallpaper was recently removed from the main floors of the old Greek Revival farmhouse, graffiti was discovered everywhere. This “Soldier’s Lament” records:

4th Month

No money

No whiskey

No Friends

No Rations

No Peas

No Beans

No Pants

No Patriotism (underlined)

“Blenheim,” located at 3610 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax, Virginia, is a brick home built by REZEN WILLCOXON about 1858, to replace an earlier frame dwelling. This 12-acre former farm, includes a cemetery for several generations of the Willcoxon family who lived here. Blenheim is renown for its outstanding examples of Civil War soldier graffiti. It is currently being restored. The day we were there, a recent tropical storm had left many downed trees, but no damage to the structures.

The image, Soldier Graffiti, was originally uploaded by Edna Barney. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.


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Sunday Morning Waffles

I thought I was so clever when I purchased my Belgian waffle maker. (I wrote about it here with recipes.) Of course I had to have one because my neighbor Kathleen had one. As it turned out, it makes the most wonderful waffles known to anyone, including Belgians. So that is the problem.

Now that the novelty has worn off, and I finally stored the clunky appliance in the bottom of a cupboard, instead of on the counter-top, it seems like such a chore to make waffles anymore. That has resulted in Captain Cliff becoming a nagger of a husband, as in “why don’t you ever use that wonderful waffle-maker anymore? Why did you buy that waffle-maker if you never plan to use it? Doesn’t it seem like a shame that we have that great waffle-maker going to waste?

This Sunday morning it was “let’s go over to Silver Diner and have waffles for breakfast.” Well, why would I want to do that, when my waffles are much better than theirs? So … I had to make waffles.

Oh, they were so wonderful, even though I added an extra egg by mistake. I had to toss in some extra flour to make up for that. It was the first time I have ever tasted Double Devon Cream. I spread the Devon Cream on top of the waffle and then dabbed some blackberry jam that my friend Martha had given me for my birthday.  I’m not sure exactly what is so exciting about this Devon Cream thing, especially since the supermarket label covered all the ingredients and instructions for using it. Why do they do that? At least I’ve tried it. Of course, the Captain is a traditionalist, so only maple syrup will do – preferably the fake kind in a bottle shaped like an old lady. 

I baked a new low salt type bacon by Oscar Myer. It was about the best I’ve tasted since the last time I bought homemade bacon out of an ice cooler at the Berkeley Springs farmers market in West Virginia.  Sometimes we suburbanites just have to make do with our supermarket food, as we cannot always find time to drive out to the mountains to get real bacon. I should have taken photographs. Half the batter is in the fridge, so perhaps I will remember to do that in a few days.

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Happy Birthday Grandpa

Happy Birthday to Grandpa

Originally uploaded by barneykin

~*~ 8 August 2008 ~*~ He really is not as old as he looks, nor is he as old as the candles say. I couldn’t find our birthday candles, except for these.

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A Picture from Edna

The Baltimore Market of My Memories

This Mother’s Day weekend I visited Baltimore’s Lexington Market, in remembrance of the times I went there with my mother as a toddler. I remember that I always found it to be a most frightening place, as I only saw the legs and feet of other shoppers. I remember tightly grasping onto my mother’s skirt as my younger brother and I stayed with her as she shopped.

I don’t remember exactly what groceries she usually purchased, however seeing the market displays this weekend told me that I would have been even more frightened as a toddler if I could have seen above the legs and feet of the shoppers to the iced shelves of the fishmongers’ and butchers’ products. The food items displayed this weekend brought back long forgotten memories of the dishes my mother prepared – fried scrapple, oxtail soup, crab soup, crab cakes and shad roe. Lexington Market Displays (Slide Show)

I wonder how my mother managed to get all of her purchases back home, as she did not drive? Perhaps my father picked us all up after work. Or, perhaps she travelled by street car, which was a very usual way of getting about the city in those long ago days. Then I wondered how she would have managed the street car ride with two toddlers in tow and bags of groceries. As my memories of those days are almost vanished, I can only wonder at how she accomplished all of those things in those bygone days.

I found one provender who claimed to be an old-timer at the Lexington Market. He was the man at the Muskrat-Raccoon-Alligator counter in my pictures. He began describing the way it was in the 1970s when he first arrived on the scene. I told him that my remembrances were from much earlier – like just after World War II in the 1940s. His eyes glazed over as he told me that there was no one alive today at the market who could remember back that far. It was almost as though I was speaking of the eighteenth century days, like 1782, when the Lexington Market first opened. (The Slide Show)

The image, Lexington Market, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Memories for more of Edna’s writings.

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A Picture from Edna

I wanted to make Irish Soda Bread for Saint Patrick’s Day, but before I got it made, Easter had arrived. This bread actually tasted a lot better than it looks in the photograph, and it sliced beautifully. Oh, was it ever easy!

I cannot remember if I ever made this before, so I went to my favorite on-line Recipe Book – Elise’s and sure enough she had a nicely illustrated recipe. Then I got to wondering how authentic would it be to use a recipe from a Californian, so I went looking for something a bit more Irish.

The first I found claimed to be the “world authority” for “authentic” Irish Soda Bread. All I could find at that site, besides the pop up ads, were warnings of what ingredients NOT to use. No nuts! No raisins or even currants! No orange rind! No sugar, honey or treacle! What’s treacle? No eggs! No shortening! No whiskey! NO Whiskey?? And, … if you dare to use any of those forbidden ingredients  – you will be making CAKE  not bread!  So there! Since I never did find Any recipe at all, I got bored and a bit rankled. Let them eat soda bread!

I tried another Irish site, and it was the opposite — too many recipes using too many ingredients, most of which I did not have on hand, especially the hot peppers. And again it was so full of advertising that I felt myself in a maze.

So it was back to Ms. California Elise’s and I “kinda” followed her instructions and all went well. Of course, as always, I improvised. I halved her recipe and since I didn’t feel like hunting to see if I had any pastry flour, I just used what was in the flour bin. I used table cream with vinegar instead of sour milk. I used a whole egg, instead of a half, since I halved the recipe. Yes, I used the sugar, even though the Irish site said it was verboten. And just to be extremely devilish, I used grated orange rind. I think that made the bread extra tasty. HA! Next time I going to go for the whiskey. After-all, it is IRISH bread, isn’t it? Here’s Elise’s recipe: http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/004338irish_soda_bread.php

I cooked it in a Corning ware dish instead of cast iron and used a much lower temperature – 325 degrees, as I was in no hurry, and I didn’t want it to come out as brown as the one in Elise’s picture.

The image, Irish Soda Bread, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Palaver for more of Edna’s writings.

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This year while touring the Mount Vernon plantation during the holiday month of December, I spotted something I had never seen before. It was ceremoniously displayed upon the grand dining room table of the Washingtons. To me it looked like a porcupine all covered with snow. Although it was most certainly something edible, I had no idea what. It had a tiny rodent-like face, nose and ears, behind which were blazing white long and slender sticks of something inserted all around its oval body. Later I was told that those long sticks were slivers of almonds, however I have never seen any almonds that long.

When I asked the docent what was that creature, she responded “haven’t you ever seen a Hedgehog Cake?” No, I’ve never seen one nor ever even heard of one. I am very accustomed to seeing Martha Washington’s great cake on that table. That is her recipe that begins with “take 40 eggs … and 4 pounds of butter.”

As photography of the dining room was not permitted, I have only my “vanishing memories” to remind me of what I saw that day. Therefore, I tried to find a picture of Mrs. Washington’s Hedgehog Cake on the Internet. I could not find one recipe nor one picture of her most interesting cake. What I did discover though, is that I am the only person in the whole wide world who is not familiar with the supposedly wonderful concoction known as a Hedgehog Cake. At Flickr I found enough pictures to made a “Slide Show of Hedgehog Cakes.”

Knowing that the Mount Vernon staff is consciencious to being historically accurate, such as no Christmas trees in General Washington’s home at Christmas, I tried researching Hedgehog Cakes to discover why an 18th century Virginia family would have such a cake. We have never had such little creatures scurrying about our hedges and pathways; hedgehogs are unknown in all of the United States, as far as I know. 

I discovered that English cookbook authoress Hannah Glasse had a recipe for Hedgehog Cake by about 1747. It may have been an ancestor somehow to the late 18th century’s popular British dessert of Tipsy Cake, a sponge cake soaked with some sweet liquor and decorated with cream. Well, I remember from my Virginia cookbooks that there was something here named “Tipsy Squire,” that was like a British Trifle.

Then I discovered this bit of history, “That Charming Confusion: Trifle” written by Helen Stringer, which seems to explain it all:

The trifle continued to develop through the 18th century, and was soon joined with a selection of related dishes, Tipsy Cake and Tipsy Hedgehog among others. What these had in common with trifle was that they were all made with dried cake, rather than fresh (a detail too often forgotten these days). In the case of Tipsy Cake, a hollow was made in the center of the cake and filled with alcohol, which would soak into the cake. The cake was then surrounded with crème anglaise or syllabub and slivers of almonds were stuck all over it. Tipsy Hedgehog was a natural progression from this. The cake was roughly shaped to look hedgehog-like, and was soaked in sherry. The crème anglaise/syllabub surround was accented by a spot of jam (this is what the hedgehog is eating) and the cake itself festooned with almonds.

The Slide Show of my Mount Vernon Adventure

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What a transformed world we now inhabit. The Christmas baking days are upon us and there is no longer need for lugging out the old cookbooks and searching through them. Nor is it necessary to thumb through those dog-eared 3×5 cards nor snippets of paper. Good old Mrs. Claus has published all the cookie recipes known to the Christmas world and they are availble “free” with just a click or two.

 “All The Cookie Recipes in the Known World”

Of course, if there REALLY were a “Mrs. Claus”, she would send some of these already prepared cookies along with Mr. Claus when he makes his rounds on Christmas Eve. But she doesn’t. I suppose she saves them for her Santa to keep him in the shape that he’s in. Therefore, we must get baking. However, by using these Internet recipes, we will miss finding those special handwritten treasures all tucked away, such as I did this year: “Cousin Vi’s Fudge Recipe.”

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A Picture from Edna

Cousin Violet’s Fudge Recipe

Long ago, before collecting recipes from the Internet became de rigueur, we homemakers often traded handwritten recipes. My cousin made the most delicious fudge and I was intrigued and asked for the recipe. I had stopped making fudge because I could only manage success about once in five tries. My usual result was a soupy concoction that could only be eaten with a spoon. Cousin Vi’s recipe changed all of that. It is simple – no boiling, and I make it in the microwave oven, which we didn’t have in those long ago days of yore.

Cousin Vi is now 78 years old and her handwriting is still as beautiful. That is because she has the genes of an artist coursing through her veins, as her father was my Uncle Ben, of whom I have written much. I made the fudge seen above, molding it into large cookie cutters of Christmas shapes. I used Google’s free Picasa2 software to made the collage of photographs.

The Recipe As Written by Violet –


  • 18 ounces semisweet baking chocolate (such as 3 bags of chocolate chips)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (I toast them in the oven first.)

In a heavy saucepan over low heat melt the chips into the milk, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat. Add the vanilla, salt and nuts, and stir until smooth. Spread evenly into a waxed paper lined 8 or 9 inch pan. Chill for 2 hours, or until firm. Turn fudge onto a cutting surface, peel away the waxed paper and cut into even squares. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

*MICROWAVE METHOD: Heat chips and milk on high for 3 minutes, depending on the wattage of your oven. Stir until smooth, then follow the traditional recipe.

The image, My Christmas Fudge, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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A Picture from Edna

I purchased the basic gingerbread house as a kit at a local bakery recommended by my next door neighbor, Kathleen. The only thing – it didn’t come with a picture of the finished product. So I sent Grandpa back to the bakery with my camera in tow and he took three photographs of the display house. Wouldn’t you know, when I showed the photographs to my daughter-in-law she said, “oh we would rather use our own creativity.” And so they did. Everyone had a great time putting it together and when finished they all proclaimed it to be the best gingerbread house they had ever seen.

It was supposed to have two large candy canes decorating the front entrance, however, one got eaten by my grandson during the construction phase of the house. He declared that he prefered it as it is now, with the lone candy cane representing a flag pole.

Here is the procedure to create a gingerbread house from scratch, without a kit, for the adventureous: “How to Make a Gingerbread House.” If anyone would like to see pictures of more beautiful houses, or is seeking inspiration for creating one, here is a slide show from Flickr of more than 300 creations: Gingerbread Houses .

The image, The Gingerbread House, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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Turkey Pies

A Picture from Edna

This year I created a Turkey Pie recipe to serve during the Thanksgiving weekend. I based it upon the French-Canadian tourtière recipe that I sometimes made years ago, using ground turkey breast in place of most of the ground pork.

The Recipe

The image, Turkey Pie, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account. Visit Neddy’s Archives, for more of Edna’s writings.

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