As much as I love muscadines, I’ve never been a fan of a muscadine hull pie. I must admit, I’ve only tried a couple of slices, which weren’t all that bad, just not all that good either. It’s the concept that didn’t really appeal to me: squeezing the pulp and seeds out to cook down the skins of the muscadines to make a pie out of them?
Of course, I believe the idea came from what Southern cooking is best known for: making something delicious out of what you have on hand! Many folks make jelly out of muscadines, using only the pulp, leaving the skins behind. I’m sure what happened was some smart Southern woman decided she had worked too hard separating the skins from the pulp to just throw those skins away, so she made a pie out of the muscadine hulls! The idea must have caught on, because there are multiple variations on the same basic recipe. Now, I’m all about creatively repurposing leftovers, but since I don’t have to separate the muscadines by hand to make jelly, I’m certainly not going to do it just to make a hull pie!
Recently, a magazine contacted my husband, Chris, and asked for a recipe using muscadines with apples for a special piece featuring apples in North Georgia. Of course, he turned to me and asked, “Any ideas?” Although this was during our harvest season and fresh muscadines were abundant, I thought how much easier it would be to use one of our products made from muscadines that are available year-round. My favorite muscadine product is Paulk's Pride Muscadine Sauce. Maybe I could even combine it with apples to make a modern version of a muscadine hull pie?
So, I did what any good Southerner would do - I invited my best friends over for dinner and got to work! Chris took care of grilling steaks and vegetables I marinated while I chopped apples and made homemade ice cream. At least we’d have something delicious if the pie was a flop! After dinner, I proudly uncovered my creation and began to slice and serve it to raving reviews. Roxie declared it the best pie she’d ever eaten! Good thing, too, because I had to email the recipe later that week!
Paulk’s Pride Muscadine Apple Pie recipe was printed in the Fall 2017 issue of Georgia Connector magazine and is also available at www.paulkspride.com.
We’ve also made it into one of our Southern Mercantile recipe cards if you’d like to print it!
I sure hope you enjoy Paulk's Pride Muscadine Apple Pie as much as we have - we even served it in our Cafe during "Muscadine Week" in September!
The older I get, the more I grow to love Fall! Cooler mornings, turning leaves, the scent of freshly-dug peanuts have all become a few of my favorite things. I love how going back to school puts our family back in a routine after the freedom of summer. I also love celebrating the season at family reunions, fall festivals, really any holiday gathering.
Our family truly enjoys participating in our church’s “Trick-Or-Trunk,” which is our Halloween/Fall Festival type celebration. Since our church is located way out in the country, most children in our church don't get to go trick-or-treating. (Side note: I went trick-or-treating one time when I was a kid. My mama had to call ahead to let folks know we were coming to their house so they would be prepared to pass out candy. I think we drove around for two hours, visited 4-5 houses, and received a handful of candy. I did have an awesome “Bride of Frankenstein” costume, thanks to my crafty mama!) Stories like mine are what inspired “Trick-or-Trunk.” Church members park their cars in a circle, with their trunks facing inside the circle. They open and decorate their trunks, then once it gets dark, pass out candy to the children as they walk around the circle in their cute costumes. For many of these kids, it’s the only chance they have to trick-or-treat. For many of the adults, it’s a fun time to get dressed up, escape reality, and just enjoy themselves for a little while!
Throughout the years, our family has dressed up in various themes, usually in homemade costumes. It’s become a sort of tradition to decide what we’re going to be, then figure out how to make the costumes. Many times we’ve been superheroes and villains, but also movie characters, and this year - a family of trophies! My boys were champion tennis and soccer player trophies, while my husband and I snuck in a bit of adult humor: his plaque read “I Tried (participation award),” and mine read “World’s Okayest Runner!” We just love to have fun together!
This fall, we’ve already had two family reunions, are helping host a church youth retreat, have attended two festivals with more on the calendar, in addition to regular family and church holiday celebrations coming up. Now, you know that here in the South, we enjoy our celebrations, and the fact that they always revolve around food! And, confession time: I, like so many others, love pumpkin-flavored anything - I get positively giddy at my first pumpkin-spiced latte of the season! Since we have so many gatherings, I have a few recipes that I keep in mind to bring to the table. Harvest Cobb Salad is a great one, with sliced apples and pears, toasted pecans, dried cranberries, boiled eggs, and poppy seed dressing. Of course, green bean or hash brown casseroles are traditional, and usually enjoyed by most folks. I always like to bring something a little different, though. This year, I took a bread pudding recipe I’ve made many times and swapped a out a few ingredients to make a yummy Pumpkin Raisin-Bread Pudding! Even my boys, who don’t care much for bread pudding, loved it! It always makes me happy to make something my boys really enjoy!
Be sure to join our Recipe Club to receive a free printable recipe card with my Pumpkin Raisin-Bread Pudding recipe on it. This is a great dish to serve as dessert, but it’s also delicious for brunch!
I found myself at this particular pear tree about this time, ten years ago.
Ten years ago, I was getting ready to go on a first date. It was a beautiful day and he was to pick me up around 11:00.
I climbed into his truck, not knowing what the day would hold. He asked if I liked to fish, and I smiled and said yes. He packed us a picnic lunch and gathered the fishing poles while I talked to his Mama on the porch.
He had a gentleness about him, and a sweet spirit too. He made me laugh and allowed me to simply be myself. After fishing a while, he took me over to the pear tree and told me to pick as many as I could hold. He took a few bites and told me to follow him. We walked down to the cow pasture and he threw one their way. Once they realized what was being offered, one by one they came. We fed the cows until our hands were empty, and then went back for more. We laughed and talked for hours, not wanting the day to end.
Here we are ten years later, still making those old familiar rounds. We wish for the days to still be long, no rushing or running to ruin our mood. The things we talk about now are different--the laughs are deep and true. We've now grown to know each other's heart as if it is our own.
Though this may seem like just an old pear tree, it is far more than that in my mind. It is the place where I came to know Phillip, and realized who he could be. My favorite days are spent with him, talking, laughing, and dreaming wild dreams. I am so thankful for this special place, but even more so for where we find ourselves today.
You should know by now that I can find any excuse to bake--especially if fresh fruit is involved! I am sharing the recipe for my Pecan and Pear Breakfast Cake through our Recipe Club! Be sure to have joined our email list (subscribe on our homepage) or have a login and password to access our Recipe Archive! This delicious cake is perfect served warm with coffee, but I personally enjoy it with a scoop of ice cream on top!
Tara, Jorjanne, and I got a chance to hang out with our friend Carey this week to get a lesson in boiling peanuts. We had a ball spending the morning with him on his back porch, learning how he has perfected his methods of this very old, southern tradition of boiling peanuts.
If you have never had boiled peanuts, then I would say you are missing a real treat! My dad, on the other hand, would tell you something entirely different! (But he is technically not a southerner, so we'll let that pass!) My husband, Matt, can eat his weight in them. It is a good thing Carey keeps a freezer full because Matt will tell you that boiled peanuts are best eaten on Carey's back porch.
Many folks where we live will gather up their boiling peanuts straight out of the field. While these are delicious, this method requires a little more work, like pulling the peanuts off of the vines and washing them really well! If you want to skip the hard steps, you can buy raw peanuts at the grocery store during peanut season. We got ours from our local Harvey's grocery store. They had already been washed but still required a little more rinsing to get most of the dirt off.
We picked out the bad nuts that were not worth boiling and any stems that were still in the bunch.
You will need a large stock pot, filled with enough water just to cover the peanuts.
We cooked ours outside, but you certainly don't have to. Put your pot on the stove, turn the flame up, and just wait for them to boil!
Carey's secret ingredient is ice cream salt. Just kidding! He used it because that is what he had, but you can also use regular salt. You will start with about two cups.
And so we wait....
Tell a few stories......
Tell a few more stories.....
When the peanuts came to a boil, we let them cook about 30 minutes. After thirty minutes we gave them a test. They weren't quite tender enough so we let them cook a little longer.
After what seemed like an eternity, the peanuts were finally ready! We all enjoyed eating the fruits of our labor! Most southerners would tell you that boiled peanuts are best served with an ice cold coca-cola!
Just in case you have not eaten them before, to eat a boiled peanut, you will bite or crack the shell open to to reveal your juicy warm peanuts! You will need an extra plate to collect your empty shells.
Carey likes to cook big batches so he has plenty to put in the freezer. After letting the peanuts cool in the pot for a little while, we dipped them into gallon bags and set them out to cool a little longer.
When you are ready to enjoy your peanuts from the freezer, pull them out and put them straight in a pot with some water. You don't need to let them defrost. Bring them to a boil and just let them cook for a couple of minutes, and they'll be ready to eat in no time!
While the end product is delicious, the best part of boiling peanuts is the company! The act of boiling peanuts is meant to be social. A time to visit with friends, relax and enjoy life!
It's still warm outside here in the South, but there is a change in the air and we know that fall is on its way! Time to spruce up those front doors and welcome in this pleasant time of the year. I thought it would be fun to help you make a beautiful fall wreath for your home. If you are feeling crafty, then grab your hot glue gun and let's get started!
Here's what you'll need to get started:
-hot glue gun
-fall floral picks
All of these supplies will be available at your local craft store. For this wreath, I used two colors of wool grass (two stems of each color), two picks with fall foliage, one pumpkin pick and one gourd pick. You are free to choose whatever fall stems that speak to you! The design concept will be the same, even if you choose something different than what I have used today.
First, you need to wrap your wire with floral tape. This will make your wire much easier to work with. Learning to wrap your wires with floral tape is life-changing, and you will never want to work with naked wire again! Start by wrapping the tape around the top of your wire and then pull the tape as you twist it down the wire.
The tape is stretchy and will stick better if you pull/stretch it as you wrap the wire. Cut your taped wire into two pieces, one to use for your hanger and one to use for your bow.
To make a hanger for the back of your wreath, lay the wire over two fingers, pull down, and twist, creating a loop at the top.
Wrap the straight end of your hanger around a chunk of the grapevine on the back of the wreath, pulling the straight end up, and wrapping it around itself. Make the hanger extra secure with a little dab of hot glue.
Next, you will need to break down your floral picks. By breaking down your picks and stems, and cutting them into smaller pieces, you will make what you have go a lot further. In the end, this will make your project less expensive to make.
I am starting with the long wild grass that was part of my wool grass stems. Start by gluing a piece of the grass down and work your way around the wreath, continuing to glue the sections of grass. *Helpful Hint: Put glue on the end of your stem and then shove it down into the wreath, rather than just gluing to the top. This will make your stems more secure and help hide your glue!
Next, add the wooly tops. Divide your wooly pieces in half, using half for the first layer and half for the second. Glue the wool grass to the top surface of the wreath, alternating colors as you work around it. The first layer will all be glued right along the top.
As you start the second layer of wool grass, start to fill in on the outside and the inside of the wreath base. This will help build out the shape of your wreath and make it look more full.
Now that all the wooly pieces are attached, go back and fill in with the extra foliage that you separated out when you took the stems apart.
You can see how the wreath is really starting to take shape and fill out. The trick to this type of wreath is to build it up, layer by layer. We've laid the foundation, now let's add the fun parts!
Next, add the bow. You will need about 2 1/2 yards of ribbon to make a simple bow like this. Start by leaving a tail. At the top of the tail, make a small loop that will be the center of your bow.
Pinch and twist the remaining ribbon before making your next loop, which will be a little bigger.
Continue making loops, making sure that you twist the ribbon between each loop. You should end up with five loops total, one small one for the center and four larger loops. Find the center of your bow, where it all started. You will have three loops on one side and two on the other. Lay the taped wire across the center of the bow. Tightly pull the wire to the bottom of the bow and twist it on itself.
After securing your bow with the wire, you can fluff up your loops.
Some folks would add the bow at the end, but I like to go ahead and attach it now, so that I can work around it as I fill in with the rest of my fall foliage. I decided to place my bow off center, which meant I needed to move one of the wool grass tops. This is no problem! If you decide you don't like where you've put something, just clip it out, move it, and re-glue it.
To attach the bow, wrap the wire around a chunk of the grapevine and twist it on itself until the bow feels secure.
Fluff your loops up and place your tails where you want them to hang so that you will know where to start placing your next layer.
Next, add the different elements of the deconstructed fall picks. First, I filled in the bare spots around my bow with the leafy greenery.
Next, decide where to place the pumpkin and gourd. I placed one on the top of the bow at the center and one on the bottom.
Fill in with some extra grass. Something like this will be available to you at your local craft store. This grass just helps to make the wreath look a little fuller, while also adding to the wispy-ness.
Now, start to build out the base of the wreath, out from each side of the bow. I added fall leaves to each side.
Next, add in some fall colored paper grass and berry pods, again building out on each side of the bow.
Fluff up your bow one last time and voila! You have a beautiful fall wreath for your door! You can see in this picture how I used all the extra pieces to build out the bottom of the wreath around the bow. The top of the wreath is just the base of wool grass that we started with.
If you are running a little short on time, or if your creative juices are just not flowing, you can buy one of these beautiful wreaths that I've already put together for you!
If you're feeling crafty and would like to take on this project, we have made the elements we've used available to you!
I am so excited to finally have a dining room table--just in time for the holidays! If you know me, you know that I love dishes, linens, and serving pieces, so you know I was just itching to set my new table for Thanksgiving! I pulled out my fancy things and went to work.
I shared a post earlier this year about using your special things to make an ordinary get-together a memorable event. Here's just one thought from that post:
“Take the time to pull out your fancy and special pieces to make your next occasion all the more exciting. A few extra minutes for clean up is well worth the result. Being expensive isn't what makes a piece special, it's all the memories shared over those pieces that will one day tell a story. I can't wait to add more memories to my things and have a home filled with all that love.”
I know that most people these days opt for the paper plates and disposable cups at Thanksgiving—but what if we really were intentional about our time spent with family and friends and created opportunities to love on, encourage and talk with one another? Yes, disposable items take the hassle out of clean up, but clean up can be fun! I can remember watching the women in my family all stay in the kitchen after a meal sharing in the clean up and talking all the while. What they talked about, I don't know—but I do know that they were together.
Using your special things doesn't just look pretty to your guests, but it makes them feel special! The place cards we created and used are another way to make your guests feel special.
“Because of this day--a day when a heart full of gratitude meets a home full of love, laughter and a lot of food--we want to share a sweet and simple printable for you and yours. This place card printable is a quick and easy way to begin your day being thankful for those that fill your home. Take a moment to reflect on each name as you write it in. Take this opportunity to thank The Lord for the place that each of these names hold in your life and heart.”
I am so thankful for Phillip and the family that came along with him. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people in my life and I hope that I can show them how much they are appreciated and loved this holiday season.
Now, have you been wondering what in the world is on my table? Well let me just tell you. I used my fine china, crystal glasses, vintage silver plate flatware and linen napkins--all of which were wedding gifts! I scattered votive holders around the center tray to add a little sass.
Inside the tray, I temporarily "arranged" some of my favorite plants. (I literally "borrowed" them from my yard!) I have fallen in love with ornamental cabbages this Fall and I can't get enough of them! They love sunlight, cool weather, well drained soil and a moderate amount of water. For these reasons, they must be planted outside and should not stay in my tray for long. I also added a few varieties from my succulent garden to break things up a bit. Who doesn't love succulents? Finally, I gathered a couple of colorful acorn squash to add a harvest touch to my centerpiece.
A few helpful hints:
The tray I chose to use was a wooden decorative one--so I was sure to line it with tin foil before I started. The plant-filled tray should not be used more than a day or two since it is only for decorative purposes. I made sure the soil was a bit damp before I started rather than feeling the need to water my arrangement once I was finished. (That could result in a mess!) Be sure to return your plants to their happy place once your special occasion is over to ensure that they remain healthy.
Thanksgiving is upon us. To me, this is a time when family and friends set the daily grind aside and come together for sweet (and much needed) communion. It is often this day, out of every year, that reminds us what we love most about each other. It is often this day that draws us to each other, sharing in the sorrows and joys of the months before and months to come. It is often this day that we reflect on our blessings and realize how thankful we are for those that sit at our table. Because of this day--a day when a heart full of gratitude meets a home full of love, laughter and a lot of food--we want to share a sweet and simple printable for you and yours. This place card printable is a quick and easy way to begin your day being thankful for those that fill your home. Take a moment to reflect on each name as you write it in. Take this opportunity to thank The Lord for the place that each of these names hold in your life and heart.
Click below to open the file and print your cards. Check back in later this week to see how I decided to set my Thanksgiving table, using these sweet place cards!
No drink screams Fall like hot apple cider. There’s just something about the scent of apples and cinnamon that makes me want to curl up with a blanket and a good book around a roaring fire. However, I live in the South, which means that sometimes in the Fall, it is just too hot to curl up under a blanket with a hot drink around a roaring fire. I feel like I’m melting just thinking about it!
Since it has been too hot for hot apple cider, I have discovered Apple Cider Punch! The original recipe can be found at http://www.bhg.com/recipe/drinks/apple-cider-punch/.
We served our version of this punch at our Shoppes’ Christmas Open House, along with a few other pretty delicious treats!
We combined the cider and juices a day ahead to make serving easier. Instead of using sparkling grape juice, which is super sweet and pretty expensive for the amount we were making, we used ginger ale. Add your own twist to the recipe and tell us about it!
Apple Cider Punch
6 cups apple cider
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 liter ginger ale
Combine apple cider, orange juice, and lemon juice up to a day ahead and store in the refrigerator. Add chilled ginger ale just before serving.
Although there are things I can appreciate in every season, Fall has certainly become my favorite. I love the colors of the changing leaves, the smell of peanuts being dug from the earth, the taste of anything pumpkin spice, and of course, the drop in temperatures after a sweltering summer.
Here in the South, Fall arrives later than in other regions. We do our back-to-school shopping with thermometers reaching triple digits, so we buy shorts instead of blue jeans. Boots, blue jeans, and jackets are articles of clothing my children receive for Christmas. We do not purchase stuffed-animal-like or furry Halloween costumes for our children because we’re afraid they may suffer heat stroke while trick-or-treating.
Usually, you can count on November to bring some Fall-ish weather, though it may not last. And, somehow, the heat and humidity that returns after such a cool spell feels even more oppressive than it did over the summer, even if the temperatures don’t rise nearly as high. Fall weather is tricky in the South, because you may dress for Fall in the morning, but by Summery mid-afternoon you feel as if you’re melting like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.
Enter my favorite article of my Fall wardrobe: the lightweight scarf! It’s the perfect accessory to keep you warm on those cool mornings, but it can easily be removed when the afternoon heat becomes too much to bear. I have quite a collection of lightweight scarves I wear throughout the fall and even into our mild winter. They add color, pattern, and texture to almost any outfit. Choose a bold pattern to make a plain-jane t-shirt come to life, or a solid color to accent a busy print. The easiest outfit is a solid color t-shirt or tank with skinny jeans and flats or booties. Add a printed scarf to match, a blazer or cardigan if you need it, and you look like fall even if the weather around you doesn’t feel like it!
Many people are intimidated by scarves because they don’t know how to tie them. There are many complicated ways to wear a scarf, but I usually stick to a couple of basic and easy-to-wear methods, depending on what type of scarf you are using.
Check out Pinterest for some of our favorite scarves and how to wear them!
Just in case you weren’t aware, every small, southern town has some sort of festival or celebration in which the community gathers together in honor of a (sometimes) quirky theme. The Fire Ant Festival, Pig Jig, Wild Chicken Festival, and Shrimp Festival, just to name a few. Here in Ocilla, we celebrate The Sweet Potato Festival.
Once a year our town is flooded with festival goers on the last Saturday of October. This special day is marked with several big events including The Tater Trot 5k Run, Sweet Potato Cooking Contest, Parade, Craft Show and yes, a "Miss Sweet Potato Pageant. "
In honor of this upcoming Ocilla tradition I am sharing one of my favorite sweet potato recipes. My mom, Brenda, makes the most delicious sweet potato soufflé every Thanksgiving. I am sure it is similar to other recipes you have tried but there is just something about my mom’s special touch that makes this mouth watering side dish just perfect! I hope you’ll try it out and let me know what you think! Happy Fall and Happy Sweet Potato Day!
Sweet Potato Soufflé
2 c. cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. melted butter
Add the sugar, melted butter and eggs to a bowl with the sweet potatoes. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth. Pour the mixture into a greased baking dish.
1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. flour
1 c. chopped pecans
1/4 cup melted butter
Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle evenly over soufflé' mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
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