Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook "Rescuer"

I call myself the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook "Rescuer". Almost all of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbooks you see on my hutch belonged to either Mother "B", Dorothy, my mother-in-law, Rosemary, my mother... or me! They are basically "retired" books. I love to read through them though and see how much the eating habits of Americans have changed. Wow! There is a huge, huge difference in the way we eat.. thank goodness. Gone are the rich sauces and much of the frying that used to go on in our kitchens.
I rarely can resist a Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook  in an antique store. I have to go through one page by page and if the former owner of the book has written any notes and drawn a star by a recipe, I have to have it! I invision a Betty Crocker-type woman in her Better Homes and Gardens kitchen preparing the recipe for a perfect family, waiting not so patiently. Oh well... it's only a vision and I do realize that the woman was probably a lot like me, desperate for something new, a little different and not terribly complicated... and something I already have all the ingredients for in my kitchen. The books usually cost only about $12, so it is not a major expense. I just feel that this faithful cookbook needs a good place to retire. Don't we ALL!

My cookbooks

I have this thing about cookbooks. If it's all neat and pretty... couldn't be all that good! Know what I mean? It needs to be stained with tomato, oil, chili powder, vanilla... the common ingredients for mixing up some favorite and tasty delight. I like to make notes on some of my recipes... when I prepared the dish and for whom.. and if it was someone's favorite. This particular picture shows a page from Cooking from the Heart and it is a recipe that belonged to my paternal grandmother, Mother "B".... who when I was a very little girl, would call "Bum Bean". She was a great cook! And in future postings I will feature a cookbook that my mother made just with Mother B's recipes. It's a lovely cookbook, full of great Texas recipes and old pictures. So be sure to check in periodically since I'm not sure when I will highlight this wonderful cookbook.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Cooking from the Heart" by NJ and Karen

A little change of pace... Here is my all-time favorite cookbook! Cooking from the Heart. It's mine. My dear cousin, Norma Jean, and I compiled our favorite family recipes in 1988. "NJ" as she is known by, embroidered first name initials on each book. Amazing woman! I did the typing, using a new computer... my first one. My cookbook is falling apart as you can see, but although it's beauty has nearly disappeared there is so much on the inside. NJ's mother, my Godmother, and my own mother, illustrated the cookbook and contributed many wonderful recipes. NJ and I dedicated the cookbook to our mothers... the best cooks we've ever known!

The new look in the family room

This is how things looked early this morning... complete with the magazine rack out of place and my husband's breakfast plate still on the lamp table. Oh well.. that's life, right? Notice my new wood floors and my new rug? We still have to finish the flooring around the fireplace. I would like to say it will be marble, but we have yet to get the estimate. Will work on that today. I would never have put that white chair in this room but when the flooring men put things back, this chair somehow ended up there... and ya know... I sorta like it. It's very old and would need to be recovered, but I am considering it. It came from my grandmother's (remember reading about Jean?) home in Dickinson, Texas. She was so determined that I would inherit this chair that she wrote my name on the back in Magic Marker. Oh well....

My "autographed" chair!
Not sure I want to cover this up...

Friday, September 25, 2009

China cabinet - help needed!

This is what the inside of one side of my china cabinet looks like. I think it looks boring. How do you have yours set up? I wish some of you in "blogger land" would post pictures of your china cabinet so I can get some ideas. Thanks!

Good News!

We are so blessed. Our daughter-in-law, Marcela, does not have cancer.
Thank you, God. And we thank everyone for your prayers. God is good!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prayer request for our daughter-in-law

Would you please say a prayer for our daughter-in-law, Marcela, tomorrow? At 4 P.M. she will have surgery to determine if the tumors that have been found in both breasts are maligant. Needless to say, she and our son are very nervous... and we are too. Thank you.

My "new" room...

Recognize the room? Possibly not. We have a long, long way to go, but it's a start.

We have walked all over McAllen, Texas today looking for Persian-style rugs. I have inherited a beautiful one, but the look-alikes, next to it... well, just do not "cut the rug"... (bad, bad... I know). I just feel the need to get some rugs on the new wood floors... just do not want to have to break the bank to do it. Any suggestions??

This is short tonight. Exhausted!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 2

Tell me this is all going to be okay....

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Mess Begins

Today the work began. The carpets have been ripped up, tile chipped away and the old linoleum is history. It's been 25 years of wishing for wood floors and now it is happening. The men struggled with the tile. They ended up having to buy a $200 machine to help them get the tile chiseled out. It had been laid to stay. I loved that Italian tile but I succumbed to my youngest son's pleas to remove it as it was "outdated". Story of my life lately. Maybe that means that I am "outdated" too. Probably so. Oh well....

    I am sipping on ice tea right now trying to swallow the dust that is swirling through my home. My husband has a deer head mounted on our family room (I remind him frequently how fortunate he is to be married to a woman who would tolerate that) and the workmen have wrapped it totally in plastic. I must remember to get a picture. I have a feeling ye ol' deer is insulted.
    The living room, entry way, family room, breakfast nook and kitchen will all have wood floors by tomorrow afternoon. Amazing.
     As I type I hear the linoleum that I have walked on for 25 years being ripped up. "Good-bye, faithful flooring. My sons have all grown up walking barefooted on you. They've worn their basketball shoes, golf shoes (hence a few small holes), dress shoes for proms and regular dirty school shoes across you. People I have loved and lost such as parents tread on you and dearly loved family and friends as well. Thank you for holding up as best you could and going beyond your duty."
(I think I hear Taps in the distance... )

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Waffle-style Grilled Cheese Sandwich

So you probably think my sons bought this waffle iron about 20 years ago so I could make waffles for them. No...

The boys wanted waffle-style grilled cheese sandwiches. I'm not real sure how this came about in the beginning, but my mother would make them for me when I was a child. They are absolutely wonderful. Smear a little butter on the outside of your sandwich (top and bottom) that is filled with either Velveeta or American cheese... or cheddar if you like. Close the lid and let the sandwich cook until it is toasty and the cheese is melted. I now use whole wheat bread, but a long time ago we used white bread... which actually makes a lighter, more delicate grilled cheese sandwich. So yummy. Serve this with tomato soup and you have a delicious and quick meal..especially good for Sunday night... like tonight. Come on over. The iron is hot.


This is one reason why it's so much fun connecting with other people who enjoy collecting. I came upon a new blog (new to me!) named "That Old House". In one of the many beautiful pictures on this blog was a wine decanter and it was very similar to mine that was handed down from my grandmother, mother and then me. This woman's history regarding the decanter may help me find out who gave the decanter to my grandmother... and it could be older than I thought it was.

Here is what "Cass" wrote to me, "It's called a "weinheber" and it's a decanter and dispenser -- the crystal decanter is held in the wrought iron holder. There is an insert to hold ice for chilling white wines, and a lid for the decanter, but I am missing both of those --lost the lid, cracked the ice holder! You fill the decanter with wine, and then put your wine glass up under the narrow end of the bottle, push upward, and the wine is released into the glass."

I had figured out that the glass tube in the center of the decanter was for cracked ice, but I never thought about it having a lid. The fact that "Cass's" came from Germany helps me to pinpoint who might have given the "weinbeber" to my grandmother as she had in her possession other items that were brought to her from Germany by her brother-in-law in the early 1940's.

Thank you, "Cass", for giving me some very helpful hints and interesting information.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bruculinu, America

    This is truly an amazing book. Bruculinu, America, written by the late Vincent Schiavelli,* has many recipes and traditions from when he grew up in Brooklyn. The book really "clicked" with me because I recognize many of the recipes and some of the traditions. The book can be purchased on Amazon.com. The original price was $24, however, I had to pay close to $40. When my book came in the mail, I was totally thrilled. Although it was a used copy it was in excellent condition and autographed. My middle son is really getting into Italian/Sicilian cooking and researching his Italian roots. (I can see a big smile on my late mother's face. Priceless... as they say.) I decided to treat him to an autographed copy of this book. Mind you it has jumped in price again... big time. But he's worth it.

    One of the recipes that I never got around to getting from my mother was Green Bean and Potato Salad. My husband thought I was going to do cartwheels when I found the recipe in this book. I may get myself into a bit of trouble, but I will share the recipe with you.
    Schiavelli writes that this salad is usually served warm but it can be served chilled as well. My mother would agree as we might eat it warm and the leftover served chilled. Either way it is wonderful.

Nsalata 'i Fasoleddi Virdi e Patati

For 6 servings

3 lbs. small red new potatoes, about the size of small limes
Sea salt
2 lbs. flat Italian or round Blue Lake green beans (which is what we used)
1 large red onion
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper

    Scrub the potatoes and put them in a pot with lightly salted cold water to cover over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and cook until the potatoes offer little resistance when pierced with a fork, 20-30 minutes.
    Meanwhile, clean and snap off the ends of the green beans. Place a steamer over the stove. When the water comes to a boil, put the beans in the steamer basket. Steam the beans until tender, 8 to 10 minutes, depending on their thickness.
    Halve the onion, thinly slice it, separate the pieces and put them in a large serving bowl. Mix in the vinegar. When the green beans are cooked, drain and put them in the bowl. Season with salt and toss.
    When the potatoes are cooked, run cold water into the pot to stop the cooking process and drain them thoroughly. When cool enough to handle, slip them out of their jackets.
    Put the potatoes in the serving bowl, season with salt and toss. Add the olive oil and toss again. Finish with a few grindings of black pepper. Serve warm.

*Yes, you might recognize him from the movie Ghost... so therefore, Patrick Swayze had an old friend waiting for him in heaven.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jo Anne

Not everyone is fortunate to have an aunt who never ages. She really doesn't. This picture of Jo Anne was probably taken in about 1957 at our home in College Station, Texas. This is the age my aunt will always be... at least to me. My younger sister is on the left in the picture and I am on the right. (You will always know it's a picture of me because of the squint. I think everyone used to think that you were supposed to look into the sun for a picture.)

Jo Anne is a travel agent and has been for over fifty years. She has been just about everywhere. I asked her once when she treated me to a trip to London, "How many times have you been to London?" Replied that she really did not know.. many times.

Jo Anne is my late father's little sister. He even helped to name her. There was about nine years difference between my father and Jo Anne. He watched over her and lived up to the image everyone has of an older brother. I know. Jo Anne saved almost all of her letters throughout the years and I have just about typed them all to put in a journal for her. My father wrote letters of encouragement as my aunt progressed through her college years. Then there was the man who hired Jo Anne to work in his travel agency. Jo Anne needed a pep talk from time to time just to deal with a very demanding boss who secretly had a lot of confidence in Jo Anne.

Jo Anne has never married. Not that she didn't have the chance. She's been courted often and proposed to several times. The timing was just never right.

My aunt is always up for a trip around the world or an excursion to a museum or art gallery. (She loves Monet.) She enjoys people and her social life is very full. Recently she traveled to Maine with a friend and upon her arrival home left for Houston with another friend.

Her best friend these days is her cat, a Turkish Van named BuddyBoy. We haven't clued Jo Anne in yet that he rules her life but we suspect she may already know that.

Jo Anne makes me laugh. Her down to earth view on life is sobering, yet her light-heartedness teaches us to take advantage of the fun things in life. She is absolutely one of the very best people in my life. Consider me very fortunate.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My First Cookbook

This is absolutely one of my all-time favorite pure American easy, but good cookbook... and it was my first. It is all tattered and falling apart... and if I could find another one like it I would buy it. There are several recipes in there I still use.
The gingerbread recipe is so very good.
When my mother was close to having my youngest brother in 1962 I was almost 15 years old. My mother being the organizer she was had a "meeting" with my younger sister and me and explained how she would rely on us to prepare the meals and keep the house going while she was in the hospital. We had another brother who was already 7 years old. My father would be busy working and making trips to the hospital.. as I had it figured out.
My mother wrote our schedule in the back of the cookbook.
My assignment was to make Saucy Hamburger Crumble, mashed potatoes, cabbage and raisin salad and peas. I was to peel the potatoes to boil at 11:00 A.M. Fix the meat at 11:30 A.M. Fix the salad at 11:45 A.M. Then I was to cook the peas at 11:45 A.M. Lunch was to be served at 12:15 P.M. It all went according to my mother's schedule... and it was a no-fail situation.
Melt in frying pan     1 tablespoon fat
Add and brown lightly     1 small onion, chopped
Then add and brown     1 pound ground beef
   1 teaspoon of salt
Break the meat into small pieces.
Stir in     1/4 cup Gold Medal Flour
Then stir in     2 cups water or milk (I always use milk)
Heat until gravy bubbles.
Serve over mashed potatoes
4 servings
My little note in my own handwriting, "Everyone liked this alot."
Now if you choose to make this and your man has done military time, he may snicker and state under his breath that there is another name for this dish.
I always wondered why my dad would always smile in a funny way when we announced we were having Saucy Hamburger Crumble for dinner.
Can you guess what this was called??


The mess....


The mess begins....

The tile people should be here any minute. We are replacing this old (25 years to be exact) linoleum with this tile... In the picture it is the largest tile. So, the mess begins. The linoleum will be ripped out and donated to Smithsonian... kidding of course... and then the tile will be laid in the utility room, small hallway and powder room. Tomorrow the men will return to put the grout in. Excited but I am a nervous wreck. Wish us luck.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Barbecued Shrimp

Barbecued Shrimp

Serves 4

6 lbs. shrimp, heads on (Do not peel!)
2 sticks butter
¾ c. olive oil
¼ c. Worcestershire sauce
Juice of three lemons (we use limes)
1 tsp. garlic powder (I use fresh, minced garlic)
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 ½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
½ tsp.Tabasco (or more according to taste)
1 Tbsp. rosemary leaves
1 tsp. oregano leaves

Rinse shrimp in cool water and drain. Spread the shrimp on a large shallow baking pan. In a saucepan, melt butter, then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Pour sauce over shrimp and marinate for 1 hour.

Bake at 325 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes. Stir a couple of times with a spatula. Do not overcook. Serve in a soup bowl with lots of hot French bread to sop up the sauce.

Be forewarned – this can only be eaten with your fingers and plastic bibs are recommended!

Also… cold, cold beer is a must or a tall glass of ice tea makes this an awesome treat!!

This recipe is by Marcelle Bienvenu from her book Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make a Roux? It’s one of my all-time favorite cookbooks to just read… and the recipes are excellent!! Bought the book in New Orleans. If I ever get around to writing my own cookbook I will fashion it after this one.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Remembering this day - September 11, 2001

I would be remiss if I didn't acknowlege what this day means to me. I heard someone on a news show today say that people are forgetting where they were when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers. Not possible unless they were in a coma. The day had started off like any other school. Rush, rush to get our youngest son fed and out the door for his short walk to the high school. I had Fox News on, but was too busy to catch the news flash. The phone rang and my dear friend, Mary Kay, asked me if I had seen what had happened. "Get to the TV", she instructed me. As I rushed to see what was happening I saw the second plane hit the tower. I absolutely could not believe what I was seeing. When we experience an historic event, we remember who we were with, what we were doing and where we were. This surpassed President Kennedy's assassination, nightmares that the Viet Cong were at my bedroom window and even remembering back on loved ones who had gone on to their reward. I thought, War of the Worlds! That's it. This was a play on the radio event that scared everyone within range of the radio towers. But it was not. My friend and I connected in horror, shock, grief and even fear. Where were these terrorists planning to attack next? Americans just don't prepare for events such as this. This changed our lives. The innocence was over. A new America was emerging. We are a little wiser, a lot less trusting, a bit sadder. But we've trudged along and demanded to the powers that be, that this shall never happen again.
I am sad to think of the people who lost their lives. Among them was certainly someone who had the answer as to how to solve world hunger. Someone else knew how to stop child abuse. Another person knew how to prevent and cure cancer. We lost the very people who could have made life better for the whole world. I am sad for their families and their friends. Their hearts will never stop aching.
We will keep going. We have learned to stand tall, pay closer attention to the world issues and governments and prayed like never before for peace.
God Bless America.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Domenic Victor DePasquale was my grandfather. He was born in 1901 not long after the Galveston Hurricane in 1900. The story is... his parents had moved from Brazos County, Texas to Dickinson, Texas and opened a business. When the Galveston Hurricane hit, my great-grandmother, who was very pregnant with my grandfather, was trying to walk through the storm from their business to their home. She was carrying an oil lamp with her. The wind and rain were so powerful that debris was blowing and even hit her in the face, the force knocking her to the ground. The lamp posted here on this blog is the lamp she carried, the dent from her fall. Needless to say she was battered and bruised and fortunate that her pregnancy was still in tact. There could have been a change in history.
D.V. DePasquale graduated from Texas A&M College and then went to Cornell University where he earned his Master's Degree. He returned to Texas, married (you may have read about "Jean" earlier) and eventually became the County Engineer for Galveston County, Texas. He was determined to extend the Sea Wall in Galveston as it had successfully protected the area from other storms. D.V. was a key force in accomplishing this deed and his name is displayed on seven plaques near the Galveston beach. His memories of stories told of the Great Storm of 1900 in which 6,000 people lost their lives, must have had an impact on him. He lived to see his dream realized and today if
you walk on the beach of Galveston and see a plaque like the one below, you will see my grandfather's name.
Today is the anniversary of Hurricane Ike. When this hurricane hit I recall hearing reference to the Galveston Sea Wall and how it had held and although there was damage, there would have been more if not for the sea wall. 

D.V. DePasquale also served on the school board in Dickinson, Texas. He proposed to build a school for the African-American children and pushed to get it done. My mother recalled what a frightening time that was as the Klu-Klux Klan burned a cross on their front lawn. The school was built though.

After all this I have to share with you that we had a funny name for my grandfather. It was Gumpy. I know. It
has a disrespectful ring to it. But Gumpy said he didn't mind as long as we didn't call him "Grumpy". I have wonderful memories of this man and so proud that he made such a difference in many lives... and helped to shape mine.

Eula Lee White

Since this is White Wednesday, I figured that I would feature my great-grandmother, Eula Lee White. She is the reason why my middle name is "Lee". I never met her, but my father loved her dearly. When she gave birth to my grandmother she was very premature so Dr. Matlock just wrapped her up, put her in a little box and kept her next the oven. My grandmother grew into a beautiful woman. A few years after my great-grandfather passed away, Eula Lee married Dr. Matlock, who was a widower. My grandmother was always full of medical advice and I think it was due to Dr. Matlock. Eula Lee was quite the "beauty and health" consultant, advising to scrub callouses with corn meal, never pluck your eye brows too thin because someday they will not grow back, and a cup of warm water in the morning is good for the digestive system. Wish I had known her.

Milk glass for bananas

This is one of my favorite milk glass pieces. It is for bananas, I think. At least when I have bananas this is where I put them, just as my mother did some thirty years ago.

My White Milk Glass Collection

Here is part of my milk glass collection. A friend has posted some of her beautiful pieces and I find that she loves it as much as I do. So was this so collectable in our mothers' day as McKenzie-Childs is now? I do believe Avon got into the act and frankly I now realize I need to do a little research about these beautiful dishes, containers, platters and such.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fishing with my father

My Godchild wrote on her blog today about her husband taking their little girl fishing with a "real" fishing pole. It reminded me of my father taking my sister and me fishing with him. There were no cute fishing poles for children in those days so my father would cut a stalk of cane, add a long piece of kite string to it, tie a huge safety pin to it and ... now if you have a delicate system you might not want to read this part... hook a horned toad to it. (Actually we called them "horny toads".) My father had figured out that if he kept us busy then he could fish in peace... for awhile. We never caught anything but we were amazed at how quickly the horned toad went to horned toad heaven. I was probably five and my sister was four. Glad our two brother came along later so my father had some fishing buddies.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My mother, Rosemary

Rosemary DePasquale Boykin had a father who insisted that it was important to "leave your mark". I think my mother was determined to do this and worked at it until the day she left this world, June 15, 2008. Graduating from high school at the age of 16 and starting college at SMU in Dallas at that same age was a major accomplishment. My mother majored in biology and art and minored in German. Her desire was to translate German scientific reports and possibly be a medical artist. What she ended up doing after graduation and marriage was washing test tubes for 60 cents an hour in a lab on the Texas A&M Campus. Later though she was hired to work in the Oceanography and Meterology Department at A&M and worked with oceanographers who had been deeper in the ocean than any man. She actually wrote her first book while working there and was studying the currents in the Gulf of Mexico. It was all a far cry from being a wife and a mother of four children... which she also was. She definitely left her mark... and that was only the beginning for her.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hobo Party

Theme parties were fun back in the fifties. My girl friends and I (that's me with the "beard" and hat on the back row) all dressed up like we were a hobo. Of all things. But had a great time. It was another one of my birthday parties. My mother served beanie "weanie" stew and we ate out of coffee cans.
Two years ago was our high school class of '66 reunion and I rekindled some of these friendships. So much fun. Most of these young girls are grandmothers now. The little boy in the picture is my brother who is seven years younger. Couldn't leave him out. lol

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Birthday party

I enjoyed this birthday at my grandmother, Jean's, home. This was in the yard of the large white house shown earlier on this blog. This party was so much fun because I actually had a couple of distant cousins who attended. That was rare for us as we never were close to many relatives, unfortunately.
By the way, we actually called this grandmother "Jean" since she felt that she was too young to be a grandmother in the first place... all of 45 years old. We may have called our maternal grandmother by her first name but we never thought of it as her first name. It was just always fun to see our friends reactions to this.