Sunday, February 21, 2016

Equen Plantation's Strawberry Birthday Cake

Dyer Stephens Playford is TWO!
Amazing how big my little girl is getting. Rich and I have said that she is extremely mature as she has been terrible for quite some time.
We kept it simple this year...just the four of us, but I did splurge and made the cake myself. Traditions mean something to me and this one I thought would be a good one to keep up. A special cake for a very special girl.

I've been devouring Mamie's version of this cake for as long as I can remember. All birthdays at Equen Plantation started with this cake. I'm so glad I finally got the nerve up to bake it myself. Brought back a lot of memories. I hope my family will enjoy and look forward to the next event that merits this dessert.

Feliz Compleaños mi preciosa Dyer!
Equen Plantation Birthday Cake

Cake: Mix all ingredients. Add eggs one at a time.
1 box Duncan Hines Strawberry Cake Mix
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1 package strawberry Jello
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup oil
4 eggs, room temperature

Icing: mix and cover cake, garnish with strawberries
1 Stick Butter
1/2 cup strawberries
1 package powdered sugar (maybe less, check for consistency

I never got the instructions on baking, so I started with what the cake box said then added a few minutes because it wasn't quite done.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Tarragon Chicken Trieste

Another generation...
My niece (Rich's sister's daughter), Holly Marie Woodburn, soon to be Bair, is getting married. I have been invited to a shower where I was picked to bring a gift for the kitchen. I couldn't think of anything more appropriate than a recipe from her roots. This chicken dish is Holly's mother's favorite home-cooked meal. Passed from Holly's great-grandmother to grandmother over 40 years ago. I had the pleasure of watching and learning how to prepare this dish while with the whole family last year. Too good not to share and it's all about family with me. -2013

Update 2016: This should have been posted quite a while ago. Holly is now married and has a beautiful boy Noah Michael Bair that I get to meet in July. That makes 5 generations to enjoy this chicken favorite. Amazing.

Tarragon Chicken Trieste
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup butter
6 large chicken breasts
2 teaspoons Beau Monde Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
1 cup dry white dinner wine
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped green onions

Slice mushrooms; saute in 2T butter until golden. Remove mushrooms and reserve. Add remaining butter to pan; brown chicken well. Sprinkle with Beau Monde during browning. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with tarragon and pour wine over chicken. Cover and simmer 45 minutes until tender. Spoon sour cream into pan juices. Sprinkle with green onions just before serving. August 1971 - Mother

Monday, January 4, 2016

Greens for the New Year

Photo by taste tester–Celene
A lesson for my children...Pay attention to your parents–especially your mother!

I watched my mother in the kitchen for years and never learned how to cook greens. How is this possible? I remember as a child being "grossed out" that the kitchen smelled rotten. I never touched a green until I was much older. Oh how I wish I had listened to my mother. Greens and Pot Liquor were on her top ten list of favorite things to eat. I hate I didn't share this goodness with Mama, but I'm sure she was okay with me not loving it because it only meant more for her. If my children turn their noses up I think I'll be fine with it for the same reason.

After a phone call with Daddy and instructions on what to do...I am starting the year off right. Back to the blog and some good ole Southern goodness to ring in 2016.

It's best if you grow your own of course. Daddy always starts his after the tomatoes are done. Apparently greens, mustards and turnips put something good in the soil for the next year's crop. I had to get mine from the store...not as good, but it'll do.

1 bunch mustard greensa
1 bunch turnip greens
2 bunches collard greens
2 ribs off a rack of baby backs (because it's what we're having for dinner. Otherwise salt meat, ham bone or bacon grease, some sort of fat flavoring)
3 slices of bacon, cubed (for the fat flavoring)
3 chicken boullion cubes
teaspoon of sugar
salt, measurement depends on fat flavoring, if you have salt meat, you won't need this)

Wash and Tear the Greens: Fill the sink with water and wash the greens thoroughly, especially if you pick these from your own garden. Pick all the leafy greens off the hard stem and tear into pieces. Save the stems/stalks.

Keep the Flavor: In a big pot add meat/bacon/salt pork, chicken boullion, salt, sugar and green stems and cover with water. Boil for about 20-30 minutes. This takes all that good flavor out of the stems.

Cook: Remove all the stems. Now you have the start of an amazing pot liquor. Pile all the torn greens in the pot, cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.

The smell in the kitchen has a different feeling than it did when I was younger. It's no longer rotten, but I know why I went there as a child. It is a familiar and comforting aroma that reminds me of my mother being happy in the kitchen anticipating a well deserved comfort food for herself.

I wish I had paid attention all those years ago...asked more questions about what it was about greens that made her love them so. But I am thinking of Mama now as I slurp pot liquor from my bowl. Ah, it is calming and very comforting to know that I am enjoying something that my Mama did for many years.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Baked Potato Meal

The baked potato morphed from a side item to the main meal after my brother left for college...and I think it's because my mother didn't really have to cook a full meal when Webster wasn't around (you know the son is always the favorite). mother would set up a station on the counter (okay it was really the washer and dryer that we used as a counter) with the usual suspects: butter, sour cream, cheese, green onions and bacon. That's all you really need, but there were always other options...anything from the icebox and spice cabinet were fair game...olives, chili, hot sauce or A1...a favorite of mine!

With the counter full of fixin's my mother would announce it was time to dress our potatoes with caution in her voice meaning...You better hurry before your father gets his plate, you know it will take him an hour to fix his. I didn't listen to Mama, I got behind daddy and he made me watch as he explained every step in detail. People think we're just put the stuff on the potato...what's the big deal? Well it is a big have to make sure that every single bite is delicious and has something good on it! Dressing a potato like this will change the way you eat a baked potatoes from here on out. I promise.

Daddy's Fully Loaded Baked Potato
  1. Clean potato and rub with vegetable oil and salt (Kosher). 
  2. Bake at 350ºF for at least an hour.
  3. Cut your potato in half and let the steam rise. 
  4. Take a knife and score the potato on the diagonal then cross it the other way. This is an important step...doing this will ensure that each bite has something good on it! Season with salt and pepper. 
  5. Add a few pats of butter and keep cutting the potato with knife until melted. you actually don't need much...I should skip this step...but I don't!  
  6. 2 or 3 dollops of sour cream to make it creamy. 
  7. Shredded cheddar cheese is next, Daddy says, you put the cheese on top of the sour cream so that the cheese doesn't stick to the potato. 
  8. Crumble bacon
  9. Sprinkle green onions on top. 
And that is the way to make your side potato the full meal deal. If you can get to step can create your own masterpiece from's all about the layering.

Thanks Pop, still enjoying it like this...25+ years later!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chicken Thighs

Photo from @Witty in the City Blog
These chicken thighs that I completely robbed from Witty in the City on Pinterest really are ALL THAT. This will be in heavy rotation at the Playford home from here on out. I'm looking to cut cost any way I can and one is grocery shopping...chicken thighs are WAY cheaper than the breast...and honestly taste better. So I bought the thighs then searched for a dish. The same recipe kept popping up and the reviews were pretty convincing so I thought I would give it a shot....winner, winner, chicken 35 minutes!

Dijon/Maple Chicken Thighs
1 pkg boneless chicken thighs (1-1/2 - 2 lbs)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Put chicken in foil lined baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Mix syrup, mustard and vinegar in a bowl and pour over chicken coating generously. Bake for 30 minutes and baste 1/2 way through cooking. Turn on the broiler for 3-5 minutes to get the tops of the chicken brown. Serve with chopped rosemary and devour.

Thank you new best friend.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The New Year was a Ball

Kandi Playford Sausage and Sauerkraut Stuffed Balls
Rich and I rang in the New Year with "The Kandi Playfords". Kandi and I...sister-in-laws through marriage...have married these Playford men and are now part of a big family that has so many different traditions. The Playfords are military, Air Force to be exact, so home is literally where the heart is.

The heart was in Memphis for the beginning of 2013 when Kandi and I were trying to come up with a menu that suited all traditions. I wanted black eyed peas, Kandi wanted pork and kraut. You know, I thought everyone ate black eyed peas on new years...shows you how clueless...and Southern I am.

I made Penny's Chicken Chili (substituted black eyed peas for a can of beans) and Kandi created something that was so delicious...Sausage and Sauerkraut Stuffed Balls/Rolls...out of this world. They are so good, that I can't wait to eat them every New Years and many more times in between.

Kandi's New Years Balls
1 lb ground sausage
1 lb ground hamburger
1-1/2 packages of Lipton Onion Mushroom Soup Mix
8-12 oz sauerkraut, drained
1 package frozen yeast rolls, unrisen
Red pepper flakes to taste

Get the yeast rolls out of the freezer and let them sit out to thaw and to rise (use directions on package).

Crumble sausage and hamburger meat in skillet and cook on medium-high until no longer pink, breaking up any large pieces of meat with a wooden spoon. Drain fat then stir in the spices (soup mix). Add sauerkraut and cook until soft.

After the dough has risen, take a ball of dough and pat it out into a flat circle. Add a generous tablespoon of filling to the middle of the dough and gather the edges up around the filling, pinching to seal and fully enclose the dough. Turn the stuffed ball of dough over and gently roll it under your palm to smooth it out. Transfer the stuffed dough to an oiled baking sheet (or pan lined with oiled parchment paper). Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Cover the tray with a towel and leave the stuffed dough to rest for another 15 to 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Bake rolls for about 20 minutes, or until medium golden brown. Remove from the oven, brush the tops of the rolls with butter and transfer to a rack. Cover loosely with a towel and allow to cool 5 minutes...if you can wait that long.

I want to try this with everything. Ham and Cheese. Cheeseburger rolls. Olive and cheese. The possibilities are endless. And there's nothing better than a yeast roll to hold all this goodness. Thank you Kandi for introducing me to another...more interesting...Playford tradition. Cheers to 2013!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Brother's Fire & Ice Pickles

Brother's Fire & Ice Pickles
Webster Made 100 Jars of Fire & Ice Pickles for My Wedding...if I didn't tell you then, I'm telling you now... THANK YOU BROTHER! Lots of work for your little sis. All out of town guests were able to have a little taste of the Delta with some homemade goodies. These were a favorite by many and the D'Agostino's still ask for them.
I've decided to make the pickles for the holidays...just like my brother.
...Here's the recipe Katie... 

Brother's Fire & Ice Pickles 
(Recipe for 1 Gallon Jar)

1 gallon kosher whole dill pickles
4 cups sugar
4 tablespoons hot sauce (Louisianne)
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon red cayenne pepper

Take all pickles out of the jar. Add sugar and spice to the juice left in the jar, put the top on and shake, shake, shake until sugar dissolves. Remove the butts of the pickles and discard then cut pickles into chunks. (I cut horizontally twice to get 4 spears, then chunk.) Cram pickles back in fire and ice juice. There will be at least one whole pickle that won't fit in the jar, so go ahead and eat that one. Tighten the lid, turn it upside down and leave out on the counter for a day then put in the icebox and let sit for 7 days. After a week have a taste...add more hot sauce if needed. Transfer pickles to smaller sized jars and fill with juice. Create a gift card and give them as gifts. Your friends will wonder when the next time you'll make them.

NOTE: I couldn't find the 1 gallon jars of pickles so I got (4) 2.5 quart jars...still big...I just adjusted the sugar and spice amounts. This made (5) 32oz (1 quart) jars and (12) 8oz jars. Not bad for a first run.
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