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.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies—a winner during this holiday “span”

Pumpkin here, pumpkin there. Pumpkins get tossed into the mix everywhere during this holiday span of time.

But into chocolate chip cookies? I had never heard that one before (although I loved my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins on Thanksgiving morning.) I was very glad this recipe turned up when I did an Internet search to see what pumpkin goodies were “trending” this season.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies were so delightfully moist, soft, and chewy. Hubby thought they were unique and a great idea. Since they contained a healthy element of fiber (the recipe also called for 1 cup oats), did that give him a good excuse to sample a few extras from the cookie plate?

He thought so.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin)
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In a bowl cream butter and sugars until they are light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture alternately with pumpkin. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 13 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Makes 4 dozen. (Source: www.tasteofhome.com)

Monday, November 26, 2012

The green and the crunch of this broccoli recipe just made the lunch

This was my best-est Thanksgiving holiday find—Broccoli with Garlic Butter and Cashews. It was an easy side for the TG buffet and helped fill that necessary broccoli quota, where we probably all lag behind.

The crunch of the cashews and the tangy sauce made this memorable—a great go-together with turkey and dressing, or with anything.

I prepared it with fresh broccoli, but the recipe provider says frozen could probably be used in a pinch.

Broccoli with Garlic Butter and Cashews

1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or brown-sugar substitute)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped salted cashews (I used unsalted)

Place the broccoli into a large pot with about 1 inch of water in the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil; cook for 7 minutes or until broccoli is tender but still crisp. Drain and arrange broccoli on a serving platter. While the broccoli cooks, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, and garlic. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Mix in the cashews; pour sauce over the broccoli. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings. (Source: allrecipes.com)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sweet news for grits-lovers: Sweet Potato Grits

A good serving of grits warms the hearts of many of our family members. My delight was boundless when I discovered a new recipe for Sweet Potato Grits. I couldn’t imagine any improvement on the old standby cheese grits recipe I had treasured all these years. But the addition of sweet potato got my attention.

This recipe called for shredded smoked Gouda cheese instead of the usual cheddar. No baking of a casserole was required. The mashed sweet potato was stirred into hot cooked grits at the end of the cooking cycle.

The information accompanying the recipe touted the sweet potato as an official super food: One medium-sized sweet potato has 438 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin A, 37 percent of vitamin C, and only 105 calories. Sweet news, for sure.

Sweet Potato Grits

2 cups milk
1 cup uncooked regular grits
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded smoked Gouda cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs

In a large saucepan over medium-hgh heat bring milk and 1/2 cups water to a boil; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Stir potatoes and next 4 ingredients into grits. Makes 6 servings. (Source: Southern Living October 2012)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lucky the person served Good Luck Greens and Peas with Ham

“Good Luck” is in the name of this recipe; whoever gets a taste of this dish is lucky indeed. Collard greens and black-eyed peas, along with a slice of ham, simmer in a slow cooker for 6 hours. The aromas that emerge from that slow cooker are unbelievable.

At the end of the cooking time, the meal that is produced would be terrific for Thanksgiving week, as a Thanksgiving side, or to freeze a batch for those crazy-busy days that are about to descend on us.

The recipe suggests serving the ham alongside the greens, but I diced it up and stirred it back into the greens and black-eyed peas. Delicious!

Good Luck Greens and Peas with Ham

1 (32-ounce) container vegetable broth
1 (16-ounce) package frozen black-eyed peas, thawed
1 sweet onion, cut into eighths
1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons country-style Dijon mustard
1 (5- to 6-pound) smoked, fully cooked semi-boneless ham (I used a ham steak)
1 (1-pound) package shredded fresh collard greens

Place first 5 ingredients in a 6-quart slow cooker. Stir together brown sugar and mustard; rub mixture over ham. Place ham in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 6 to 7 hours or until ham is tender. Uncover and add collard greens. Cover and cook on high 1 additional hour or until tender. Slice ham and serve with greens mixture. Makes 8 servings. (Source: Southern Living November 2012)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Veggie Chili: Who can pass up this healthy fall meal?

It’s quick. It’s healthy. It’s colorful. It’s fall-i-fied. What more could anyone want in a meal suggestion?

This Veggie Chili called for fresh zucchini and yellow squash. Add diced tomatoes and kidney beans and a few other stir-ins and you have yourself a hearty meal that you’ll be heartbroken to see disappear!

A slice of cornbread is a great addition alongside a bowl of this edible treasure.

Veggie Chili

2 large zucchini, chopped
1 large yellow squash, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1 pound ground turkey, browned and drained
1 (1.25-ounce) package chili seasoning mix (I used Kroger Original Chili Seasoning Mix, lower-sodium variety)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained (I used the no-salt-added variety)
1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans, undrained

Sauté zucchini, squash, and onion in hot oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Add salt and browned and drained ground turkey; cook 1 minute. Stir in chili seasoning mix, tomatoes, and beans; bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Makes 6 cups. (Source: My adaptation of a Veggie Chili recipe in Southern Living October 2012)

Monday, November 12, 2012

A little light feast in this green-bean dish

I certainly know one recipe that, Lord willing, will be on my Thanksgiving table.

We test-drove Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic last night for dinner. The recipe showed up in my most recent Sam’s Club flyer. The feature was called “The Light Feast” and recommended ways to eat healthy over the holidays without giving up great taste.

Fresh green beans are stir-fried until tender/crisp and then tossed with lemon juice, salt, pepper, maple syrup, and garlic. The toasted nut and lemon-zest topping go on at the end.

Hubby and I agreed: what a great new way to prepare green beans! The toasted nuts give it a Thanksgiving-y twist; the lemon makes it light, and the maple syrup stirred in just does what maple syrup is supposed to do. This recipe’s a keeper!

Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon sea salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup (I used sugar-free syrup)
4 cloves garlic, minced
zest of two lemons
1/3 cup pecans, chopped and toasted

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add green beans and cook until beans are still crisp, about 10 minutes. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and maple syrup. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with lemon zest and toasted pecans. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings. (Source: SamsClub.com/healthy living)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Homemade Blackberry Syrup a superb extra touch

Just a little extra touch, this Blackberry Syrup, that made our pancakes extra super. Yes, best prepared with fresh blackberries, which the produce aisle of the grocery store certainly can provide. But this time of the year, we’ll simply wait on fresh berries until our blackberry vines have their winter’s nap and ideally bear abundant fruit as they did at the start of this summer. For now, frozen blackberries, thawed, make a good substitute.

Truthfully, I never imagined myself being able to stir up my own homemade Blackberry Syrup, but Southern Living helped me out with a terrific recipe in its “Food Gift of the Month” feature. It recommended bottling this up in a glass swing-top bottle as a hostess gift or party favor.

The blender-processed blackberry puree is run through a wire-mesh strainer so that the pulp and seeds are removed. (A few stray seeds actually escaped and made their way into mine, but the syrup didn’t suffer any for it—made it like a version of warmed blackberry preserves.) A delight on pancakes or waffles, although the magazine also says to serve it on biscuits, fruit salad, or cobbler.

Blackberry Syrup

3 cups fresh blackberries (can sub 1 16-ounce package frozen blackberries, thawed)
1 1/4 cups sugar (or sugar substitute)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Process blackberries in a blender until smooth. Stop to scrape down sides as needed. Press blackberry puree through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a medium sauce pan. Use back of a spoon to squeeze out juice (about 1 1/2 cups). Discard pulp and seeds. Add sugar and remaining ingredients to blackberry juice in pan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally. Boil, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly (about 30 minutes). Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 2 cups. (Source: Southern Living, July 2012)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Can't get enough of this Caramel Apple Coffee Cake

Yes, it was involved—uber involved, you might say. Lotsa steps to this coffee-cake wonder. But you want a breakfast dish that says fall with a big flourish—you got one right here!

Glorious fall apples, fresh from our farm-stand visit, formed a layer atop the coffee-cake batter. Easy streusel topping and caramel sauce layered onto that. The sumptuous streusel topping contained the first pecans from our prized paper-shell pecan tree, which was anything but productive last season. We’re thrilled to greet this year’s pecan harvest, even if it’s not huge. Nothing like fresh, chopped pecans on a from-scratch coffee cake.

Caramel Apple Coffee Cake

2 tablespoons butter
3 cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples (about 3 large)
streusel topping
caramel sauce
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
2 large eggs (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
2/3 cup milk (I used skim)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add apples. Sauté 5 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat; cool completely (about 30 minutes). Meanwhile prepare streusel topping and caramel sauce (recipes below). Reserve 1/2 cup caramel sauce for later use. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar. Beat well. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat until blended after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into a greased and floured shiny 9-inch springform pan; top with apples (I used a regular 9-inch cake pan and used a spatula to remove the layer from the pan after the cake baked.) Drizzle with 1/2 cup caramel sauce; sprinkle with streusel topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake 25 to 30 minutes more or until center is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes; remove sides of pan. Cool completely on wire rack (about  1 1/2 hours). Drizzle with remaining caramel sauce.

Streusel Topping

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)

Stir together all ingredients until blended. Let stand 30 minutes or until firm enough to crumble into small pieces.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup honey

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat bring ingredients to a boil. Stir constantly; boil, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes before you serve. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 1 week. To reheat microwave at high 10 to 15 seconds or just until warm; stir until smooth. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. (Source: Southern Living, September 2012)

Friday, November 2, 2012

A reset on Sweet Potato Fries—with a great outcome!

Thousands of ideas abound on the best recipe for Sweet Potato Fries. In this blog I’ve already tried out one of them. But the quest continued. From our most recent farm-stand visit I had brought home some absolutely lovely, enormous sweet potatoes. Although I they could have ended up in a huge variety of dishes, giving Sweet Potato Fries another stab kept calling to me.

What did the cooking queen, Paula Deen, have to say about the matter? I had never looked up her Baked Sweet Potato Fries recipe before, but you can bet she had some good advice. The photo at left was the result. Two secrets: her House Seasoning mixture, which can be used on many food items, and baking the fries on a parchment-lined cookie sheet to prevent burning. I also experimented with my crinkle-cutter to give a uniform look.

The cut strips of sweet potato are tossed in olive oil; then a tablespoon of the House Seasoning recipe, along with 1/2 teaspoon paprika, is sprinkled over them for tossing again. Into the oven they go for 20 minutes, to be turned after the first 10 minutes. The result was a set of perfectly browned and delightfully seasoned Sweet Potato Fries. I think they were my best yet. I tried a little bit later and left off the parchment paper on the cookie sheet. Bad idea—too-brown and occasionally burnt potatoes resulted. Don’t skip the parchment!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

olive oil, for tossing
5 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-long slices, then 1/4-inch-wide strips, 
using a crinkle-cutter
1 tablespoon House Seasoning (recipe follows)
1/2 teaspoon paprika

House seasoning:
1 cup salt (or salt substitute)
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a sheet tray with parchment. In a large bowl toss sweet potatoes with just enough oil to coat. Mix House Seasoning ingredients and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Take 1 tablespoon of the House Seasoning and use it to sprinkle onto the potatoes. Add paprika. Toss. Spread sweet potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Be sure not to overcrowd potatoes. Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes (I turned after 10 minutes). Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before you serve. Makes 3 to 5 servings of potatoes. (Source: www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/baked-sweet-potato-fries-recipe)