Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Red and green peppers help decorate potato casserole for Christmas-morning brunch

December days marched on, and a bad old freeze was preparing to zap the last of anything still in bloom in any garden. As I looked from my patio into our almost-bare vegetable plot, I spotted them—like green and red ornaments on a Christmas tree--the last bell peppers clinging to the about-to-be-ruined plants that had birthed them and given them sustenance. I couldn't believe that this late into the winter, a few pepper plants STILL were sallying forth out in the garden.

But not for long. Just before dark fell that night and temps were about to plummet into the danger zone, I ran out and brought these last vestiges in. These survivors deserved some special recipe to commemorate them. Christmas morning! What would be more appropriate than to use them in my Christmas-morning brunch? Like red and green confetti they could dot the cheesy top of the casserole with the hash-brown potato base. I set them aside in the refrigerator and saved them for my food preparation which would take place in a few days.

This past Saturday morning they—and Crispy Potato Breakfast Casserole—along with the Chocolate Oatmeal Apple Muffins from a previous blog—made their debut. How glad I was that the pepper plants had held forth until only a few days ago so these fresh, chopped-up peppers could help us wish our guests (the aforementioned adult kid and her spouse and baby, who spent the night with us so Santa could visit ALL of them, not just the baby) a Merry Christmas!

The casserole was beautiful; since it made an ample amount in a 9-by-13-inch dish, it continues to be lunch and dinner while we chill a little from the frenzy of holiday food preparation and are happy to feast on leftovers. Soon the new year turns over; I can gaze out at my totally bare garden plot now and envision the scene a few months hence when it all springs back to life. Until then, I'm glad I have my supply of red and green peppers frozen in the deepfreeze.

Crispy Potato Breakfast Casserole

1 (30-ounce) package frozen shredded hash-browns, thawed
2/3 cup melted butter
2 cups shredded hot pepper cheese
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups diced cooked ham
1 cup skim milk
1 cup egg substitute
1/2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash)
1/2 cup diced sweet red pepper
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

Press thawed hash browns between paper towels to remove moisture. Grease 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole; fit hash browns into it. Form a crust over bottom and up sides of dish. Brush crust with melted butter. Be sure to brush top edges. Bake 425 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle cheese and ham evenly over bottom of crust. Beat skim milk with egg substitute and salt. Stir in diced peppers. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center emerges clean (or the night before serving, bake the crust only. To crisp again place in oven 10 minutes before you add filling and let the crust crisp up while the oven preheats. Add filling and bake.)

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