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Amy’s New Kitchen

So I’ve been missing for a while……….couldn’t be helped………..I’ve been getting a new kitchen.  Well, it’s the old kitchen, but it got a MAJOR facelift!  Heck, I think it might’ve even got it’s boobs lifted and it’s tummy tucked and it’s fanny lipo’d too! 

We started this project 2 days after Christmas by turning my stairwell to the basement into a laundry room/pantry.  Then we started on the kitchen.  And it’s been a LONGGGGGGGGGGGGG, drawn out process.  And honestly, we’re STILL not finished.  The new tile flooring for the kitchen and dining room is not yet installed and the hardwood flooring in the living room and down the hall is not yet installed either.  But I thought since I’m functional again, y’all might like to see why there have been no new recipes around here in such a long time.

Here are some photos of the old kitchen.

kitchenbefore1

Think 1979 in all it’s glory!  That was my kitchen before!  No built-in dishwasher!  And harvest gold EVERYWHERE!  BLECH!

kitchenbefore2

This was the bar before. 

kitchenbefore3

This was the sink side of the kitchen before.  Notice the roll-away portable dishwasher.  That’s the best I had…….and it was pretty pitiful!  In this picture, it’s where my refrigerator used to be.  It’s now in the new laundry room/pantry. 

kitchenbefore4

This is the stove side of the kitchen.  My stove and oven are fairly new, having been added since we moved in here 9 years ago.  So neither of them was replaced.  The vent-hood above the stove was though.

And here’s how it all looks now…………

kitchenafter8

This is actually not the kitchene at all……….it’s my new laundry room/pantry just off the kitchen.  The fridge lives there now.  It’s hard to imagine that this used to house the stairs to my basement!  Currently, there are no stairs to the basement.  That’s another project for another day……….We’ll eventually put new stairs elsewhere in the house, but for right now, we have to go outside to get to the basement……but we’ll live!

kitchenafter4

This is my new bar.  We extended it out several inches so we could put bar stools up there.  Before, it wasn’t deep enough to use stools.

kitchenafter1

This was taken standing in my dining room angled toward the sink side. 

kitchenafter2

This is standing at the end of the bar looking toward the stove and oven side of the kitchen.  Notice the new pulls on the cabinets.  They’re a brushed bronze to match the new faucet on the sink.

kitchenafter3

The stove with the new marble tile backsplash and new vent-hood.

kitchenafter5

My new sink and faucet.  The sink is a composite that isn’t supposed to scratch, dent, chip or ding!  It’s called “granite” so it looks like a granite sink, but it’s whatever this composite stuff is!  LOVE IT!  9’5″ deep!  FABULOUS for washing my deepest pots!  I had trouble doing that in my little tiny sink!

kitchenafter7

Now ignore the fact that the floor still looks cruddy!  It will soon have Sicilian-Stone tile!  This entire area was empty before the remodel.  My brother built the new cabinet at the end and we added a built-in dishwasher!  Praise the Lord and pass the turnips!!!!  Finest thing I’ve ever owned!  He also built the little cabinet above the counter for the microwave so it wouldn’t take up valuable countertop space. 

ktichenafter6

And here’s a view of the whole thing!  I’m just thrilled beyond belief with it! 

So now that I have a brand spankin’ new kitchen, y’all can expect some brand spankin’ new recipes coming soon!!!!  I can’t wait to share new goodies with you!  Stay tuned!

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Lasagna

And none of that sissy Lasagna either!  You know the kind…….a little old pound of ground beef mixed with a jar of spaghetti sauce.  Um, no.  JUST SAY NO, friends!  You can make your own!  Just as easy!  But WAY better!

I love lasagna.  I love ALL Italian food.  But I am a fiend for some Lasagna.  But MY Lasagna.  I have tried eating “brought on” Lasagna, but I just can’t stomach it.  I started making Lasagna early in my married life.  I didn’t grow up eating Lasagna.  I think I was probably pretty close to being an adult before I ever tried it.  And I’m fairly sure it my cousin Kim who brought one to some shindig we had at my Granny’s.  And I fell in love! 

So I searched cookbook after cookbook looking for just the right recipe.  And you know what?  Most of them used too much “brought on” stuff.  So I just created my own.  And I’ve tweaked it over time to make into what it is today.

The first thing is making the sauce.  I like MEATY sauce!  Again, none of the sissy stuff!  Don’t wave some ground beef past the pan and act like you’ve got a meaty sauce!  Let’s make some, how ’bout?

Meat Sauce for Lasagna:

* 1 1/2 pounds ground round

*  1 pkg. sweet Italian sausage

*  1 large onion, diced

*  1 large bell pepper, diced

*  1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

*  1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes

*  1-15 oz. can tomato paste

*  1 Tbsp. minced garlic

*  1 tsp. fennel seed

*  3 Tbsp. Spicy Spaghetti Seasoning (from the spice aisle at Sam’s)

Cook ground round and Italian sausage with peppers and onions.  Drain well and rinse with hot water.  Return to pot and add remaining ingredients.  Simmer 30 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering and starving you to death, make your cottage cheese mixture.

Cottage Cheese Mixture

*  1 large tub cottage cheese

*  1 small tub ricotta cheese

*  2 eggs, well beaten

*  generous amount of freshly ground pepper

*  1 Tbsp. minced garlic

*  2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

*  1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

This is what you’ll have:

Now mix all this well and set it aside for a few minutes.

You’ll also need:

*  Fresh mozzarella cheese

*  1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese

*  1 bag shredded pizza cheese (a mixture of mozzarella, romano, asiago, parmesan and provolone cheeses)

*  1 pkg. of sliced pepperoni

*  lasagna noodles

Now, I’m about to liberate you.  Guess what?  You do NOT have to boil the noodles first.  YOU DO NOT!  I know someone way back in history told you that you had to.  But you don’t.  And you don’t have to buy the over-priced “special no-boil” noodles either!  Plain old regular lasagna noodles work fine and don’t have to be pre-boiled, which extended lasagna making by several days before I was liberated and knew better!  So I’m setting you FREE!  Go forth and make lasagna now!!!!!!  Boil free! 

OK, are you ready to build?  Let’s!  I built this in an aluminum pan because honestly, I just don’t have a real pan deep enough to make lasagna like I REALLY like to make it.  And if I’m going to be perfectly honest here, I wish I had something even DEEPER to build it in.  But I don’t, so aluminum works and then you have nothing to wash when it’s over!  You can’t beat that!

So let’s build!  It’s important to generously spray your pay with non-stick cooking spray before building or when it comes time to wash dishes, you WILL cry…….or you’ll pull a Lisa on Green Acres and throw the dish out the window.  Cuz with all that cheese it is STICKY!

Line the pan with lasagna noodles.

Now add some of that delectable sauce on top of the noodles.  And don’t skimp.  There’s nothing worse than a wimpy little lasagna with wimpy little bits of sauce here and there!  Be generous!

Now drop large spoonfuls of the cottage cheese mixture on top of the meat.  Then spread it out so it evenly covers the meat sauce. 

Like this…………..

Now add slices of pepperoni on top of the cottage cheese mixture.  I LOVE pepperoni!  I could eat a whole package all by myself!  YUM!!!!

Now add slices of fresh mozzarella cheese.  PLEASE, for the love of God and all that is Holy and good, PLEASE use real mozzarella cheese here!  I can’t even tell you just how amazing this stuff is until you try it for yourself!  So PLEASE, try it for yourself!  You will never be sorry!

Then repeat until you get to the top.  Finish it off by adding the shredded cheeses on the top and give it a sprinkle of parsley to make it purty! 

I like to bake it covered for the majority of the baking time so steam will be created and cook the noodles………see?  So you don’t have to pre-boil them!  But make sure you thoroughly spray a piece of foil with non-stick cooking spray or there will be a major meltdown when you try to take the foil off.  At least, I would have a major meltdown if that happened to me! 

And when all is said and done, you’ll have this:

OH MY GRAVY!  That’s something to behold right there!  Absolutely unbelievable! 

Someday, I’ll share my Chicken Cheese Lasagna with you all!  But it’s a major special one.  I have one friend that caught her honey with it!  In the meantime, give this one a whirl!  Your family will bow down and kiss your feet!  I know this to be the truth because Tall Skinny Man did it the minute he got up from the table after eating this lasagna!

Enjoy!

Wanna Party?

We did at my house this week!  I had a Premier jewelry show here last Monday.  Unfortunately, since then, I’ve been busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.  So no time to post pictures until now.

We had a great little party!  Some friends and family came to see some gorgeous jewelry and eat some tasty morsels.  I venture to say a good time was had by all!

If you don’t know Premier jewelry, I encourage you to find someone who sells it!  I LURVE me some jewelry!  And I just happen to have my very own jewelry lady, who also just happens to be my “Phat Babysitter” from years gone by.  So if you’re local, I can hook you up with THE best jewelry gal EVER should you want to find out how to earn FREE jewelry!  Cuz I’m getting somewhere in the neighborhood of about $650 worth of jewelry FREE!  And if there’s anything I love even remotely as much as food, it’s jewelry.  And FREE jewelry comes even closer! 

But I do still love food MORE!  LOL  So let’s talk about food, shall we?  I love party food.  How about you?  There’s just something about it that just makes you want to eat and eat and eat!  Or it does me anyway!

Since cooler weather hit us last week, I thought a “fally” table would be nice to display the food.  So that’s what we went with!

Here’s the whole spread!  Nice and “fally,” no?  Yeah, whatever Amy, let’s talk about the FOOD!  Who gives a rip about the “fally” crap!?  Let’s eat!

YUMMMMM!  Here’s the center of the table.  The top tier is just decoration because Tall Skinny Man told me I had way-the-bull too much food already and I didn’t need to make anything to put in that top tier.  So there ya go.  It’s all fru-fru-y, but no food!  The second tier has Petit Fours.  My jewelry lady, AKA “Phat Babysitter,” adores Petit Fours.  One might even say she lives for them, dreams of them, covets them, wants to marry them and have their babies or something like that.  But I digress.  The bottom tiers have all the dippers.  Scoops, blue corn chips, chunks of French bread and these groovy little Parmesan sticks made by Pepperidge Farms.  I had never bought any of them before, but they were a HUGE hit!

Hoo boy!  HOT HOT HOT, I tell you!  Lord, have mercy on my wicked soul.  AMEN!  The left is Buffalo Chicken Dip.  The right is Bacon Carbonara Crusts.  And the top is Sin Dip.  Previously known as Mississippi Sin dip, but I significantly changed it from the original recipe.  So I’m claiming it’s just Sin…….whether you eat it in MS or TN or NYC or Portugal!  You’re GOING to sin!  Trust me!  Gluttony IS a sin!  So you’re absolutely going to sin eating it.  No need to assign a state to it……other than it’s own sinfulness!  LOL  Oh, and did I mention it was sinful?

Here we have little Lemon Basil Chicken Salad sandwiches on Hawaiian bread in the top tier.  The chicken salad was originally a Paula Deen recipe.  But I’ve tweaked it and made it my own too.  Paula didn’t add any lemon zest to hers.  I do to mine and it perks up the flavor tremendously!  And I cut out the sour cream and use non-fat plan yogurt to kill a bazillion calories from it!  Works like a charm, too!  The second tier is my somewhat famous Cucumber Dill Dip.  That’s Ankle Biter #2’s favorite food in the world probably.  He begs for it!  And the bottom tier holds 2 different kind of wraps:  A whole wheat wrap spread with a cream cheese/pineapple/bell pepper/onion/cheddar cheese mixture and then honey-baked ham slices and the other is an Italian wrap spread with cream cheese/fresh basil/mozzarella cheese/garlic/sun-dried tomato/bacon mixture and then smoked turkey slices.  Um yeah, DELISH! 

And there ya go!  Many yummies!  We ate and played with jewelry and ate and played with jewelry and ate some more and played with some more jewelry.  We had a great time!  A HUGE HUGE HUGE thanks to Stef, my fabulous Jewelry lady and former “Phat Babysitter!”  She’s THE very best jewelry gal and babysitter anybody could ever have!  I LOVE HER!  Thanks for hooking me up with all those jewels!  I’m gonna be dripping in them!  And a huge thanks for all the family and friends who popped in to visit and eat and jewel with us!  I had a great time with you all! 

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

A Little Help From The Store…..

If y’all know anything about me, it’s that I love to cook and like to make it all myself as a general rule.  Well, you know what?  Life gets in the way sometimes!  And when it does, it’s awfully nice to have something in the freezer that will let you slap dinner on the table in a matter of minutes.

A month or so ago, I was traveling.  Imagine that!  When I travel for work and have any downtime, I explore grocery stores.  It’s a sickness really.  But I usually find some nifty treasure I’ve never found before in my local Podunk grocery stores.  So about a month ago, I wandered into a Publix and sauntered around for a bit.  I can’t even begin to tell you all the wonderful treasures I packed my cooler with!  I ALWAYS carry a cooler with me because you never know when you might find a tasty morsel that MUST go home with you.  It begs really! 

I found THIS in the freezer section:

And it begged to come home with me.  It knew it would have a much better life in MY freezer than that wicked cold, unloving home it had in the freezer section of Publix.  So brought it home, I did!  And it thanked me profusely!

I’ve spent the last couple of days driving back and forth to Paris, TN.  That’s no short haul, let me tell you.  I made it home Monday night about 7:45.  My sweet SIL had dinner ready when I rolled in.  But yesterday, I managed to make it to my house by “quitting time” around 4:30.  I had a Tequila Lime Turkey Tenderloin that I slapped on the grill.  I threw together some Cilantro Lime Rice, although last night, it was actually more like, um, Lime Rice because I had no fresh cilantro.  But I digress.

Then I remembered my haul from Publix in the freezer.  And I yanked it out and nuked it.  It smelled insanely delish!  Now, could I have MADE the Corn and Black Beans instead of opening a bag?  Sure I could’ve.  I had corn in the cabinet.  I had black beans in the cabinet.  I had onions and I had tomatoes.  I *could* have made it myself.  But I had one ankle-biter going to church for an event and one ankle-biter who had a ballgame to play in.  We were about to have to split in a zillion different directions to make the rest of the evening happen.  I didn’t have time to open cans, peel and chop onions, peel, seed and chop tomatoes, dig spices out of the cabinet, etc.  I needed quick and I needed easy!  So the Corn and Black Beans jumped straight out of the freezer and straight into a microwave dish. 

AB1 made it to church on time for his event.  AB2 made it to the ballfield for batting practice before the game.  And all was well with the world!  AB2 WON, by the way!  GO RONNIE SMITH CHEVROLET!!!!  Not that that has a THING to do with this post.

Here’s what this post is about…….sometimes help from the store is a good thing!  And that little bag of mixed corn and black beans was WONDERFUL!  I actually opened 2 bags.  There was probably only 2 little spoonfuls left in the dish.  That’s it!  And only 5 of us ate.  AB1 ate pizza at church.  So if he’d been here, we would’ve knocked out 2 whole bags of that stuff in one meal!  It was amazing!  Go buy some NOW!  :o)

Alright, that’s my tip for the day!  Sometimes we need a little help from the freezer section.  And this was great help to have!  Have a great day!

CHOO CHOO! I’m in Chattanooga!

So I’m in Chattanooga.  The job I do for the state entails me traveling fairly frequently.  The reason I have to travel is to review cases outside my own region in order be an unbiased judge of how well the department is serving children and families.  Anyhoo, this week, it just happens to be Chattanooga.  And I LOVE Chattanooga!  It’s one of my favorite places!  EVER!

Why is Chattanooga such a favorite place?  Well, my Aunt Jane lived here when I was growing up.  Moma had two younger sisters.  Aunt Jane was the oldest of those younger sisters.  She was no doubt, the funniest person I ever knew!  She cracked funnies 24/7!  Very irreverent and sometimes downright bawdy!  I loved her.  The evil thing we call cancer took her from us way too soon.  She’s been gone now nearly 17 years.  I still miss her so much.

So she gave me Chattanooga as a child.  When I was young, Chattanooga was HUGE!  It was such a massive place.  They had such cool things there!  Like MALLS!  This little gal from Podunk had no malls.  Heck, I didn’t even have one, much less PLURAL…..MALLS!  The nearest mall was, and still is, an hour away at best!  I thought Chattanooga was heaven on earth because there was so much to do there.  I spent many a week during summers with Aunt Jane.

Aunt Jane had two daughters, my cousins, Kimberly and Tonya.  They were just slightly older than me and OH MY GOSH!  I abso-freakin’-lutely worshipped them when I was a kid!  They were so cool!  They were from “the big city!”  And when I came to visit they treated me just like a little sister instead of making me feel like the poor, pitiful little “country cousin” I was.  They took me shopping.  They took me out to eat.  They took me to Lake Winnepausaka, which is a little amusement park and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Well, except the time we went and my brother ate 15 BBQ sandwiches in one sitting and then we all got on the Tilt-A-Whirl.  I don’t think I really have to tell you how THAT came out.  ***snort***  Came out……get it.  OK, moving on!  This is a family-friendly food blog here.  No need to get graphic.  Anyway, Kimberly and Tonya were like my favorite people on EARTH because they were so beautiful and smart and fun and cool and knew such amazing things and imparted all that to me!  LOL  Did I mention I worshipped them? 

Anyway, so back to my Aunt Jane.  She was just one of those many people who gave me my love for cooking.  She is the one who made amazing cake!  I can very much remember after she passed away, my Moma had a few pieces of one of Aunt Jane’s pound cakes in her freezer.  She ate those pieces of cake by tiny nibbles to make them last as long as possible.  POUND CAKE, people!  I’m not talking about fancy and fru-fru!  Pound Cake with no frosting, no icing, no glaze, no NOTHING!  That’s how good her cake was!  Plain cake!  And it was to die for!

She also made other amazing things.  I have never had a roast as good as hers since she passed away.  When I would go visit her, she would always make roast because she knew I loved it.  We always had the same thing on the table:  Roast with carrots, pinto beans, corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese and pea salad.  She always set the bottle of worcestershire sauce out on the table to add a little to the roast on your plate.  Oh man, my mouth is watering just THINKING about it!!!!

If there was anything my Aunt Jane made that I loved even better than her roast, it was that Pea Salad.  Because I’m in Chattanooga this week and that makes me think of my Aunt Jane and thinking of my Aunt Jane makes me think of Pea Salad, I’m going to share the recipe in honor of her today. 

Aunt Jane’s Pea Salad

*  1 pkg. frozen English peas

*  1/2 head of lettuce, chopped small

*  1  8 oz. pkg. cheddar cheese

*  8 slices of bacon, fried and crumbled

*  2 Tbsp. sugar

*  1 small red onion, diced small

*  3 Tbsp. Miracle Whip

Mix all ingredients together and chill.  Serve cold.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had any in a long time.  I can no longer eat lettuce and without the lettuce, it’s just not the same.  But I have literally eaten gallons and gallons of this salad. 

I have a few tips about making this salad.  First of all, DO NOT use canned peas.  It’s worthless with canned peas.  The joy of this salad is all the crunch in it…..the frozen peas, the crispy bacon, the firm onions.  If you use canned peas, it will have a mushy consistency and that’s just gross!  Trust me on this!  Second, please please please, in the name of everything that is holy and good, DO NOT use foul, putrid MAYONNAISE in this dish!  PLEASE!  I implore you!  It MUST be made with Miracle Whip.  And not some knock-off salad dressing either!  Miracle Whip and Miracle Whip ONLY!  EVER!

And that’s my Aunt Jane’s fabulous Pea Salad!  Enjoy it while I trot around her old stomping grounds this week! 

Last night, I had the immense pleasure of having dinner with Kimberly and her husband, Melvin.  It’s so rare we get to see one another.  We talked and talked and talked.  Then we talked some more.  The only thing that could’ve made it any better is if Tonya and her family and my Uncle Bob could’ve joined us.  But we had an amazing time!

OK, off to work now!  Enjoy my Aunt Jane’s Pea Salad!  She was a phenomenal lady!  I loved her with everything in me!  I still miss her so much and SOOOOOOOOOOOO wish I could share MY cakes with her, the greatest cake-baker ever! 

See y’all soon!

HALLELUJAH! He Is RISEN!

Happy Easter to you all!  This week, I’ve shared some of my favorite side dish recipes that my family enjoys having with our Easter meal.  But today, I want to share something with you that means more to me than food.  WHAT?  There’s something that means more to her than FOOD?!  What is WRONG with her this morning!??!

Yes, there is absolutely something that means more to me than food.  Y’all know I’m not usually very serious around here.  I try to keep it light-hearted.  But this is something that means more to me than anything else.  It’s a living Savior.  If you don’t know Him, I’d love for you to. 

About 2000 years ago, there lived a man who loved you and me so much He was willing to endure not just death, but pure torture before death in order to give us eternal life.  This is a man who lived an entirely sinless life.  Not once in his entire life did he ever lie or cheat or steal or anything else that is sinful.  That’s something I can hardly imagine!

This man carried a wooden cross on his own back.  He wore a crown of thorns on his head.  He had his hands and feet nailed to the cross He had been forced to carry Himself.  He was hung on that cross in between two common thieves to endure a death that you and I can’t even imagine.  All to cover the sins of others, not His own because He had never sinned!

After he finally and mercifully succumbed to death, He was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb.  He remained there three days……until a Sunday morning that you and I call Easter.  On that third day, Jesus conquered death and the grave and walked out alive!  He is risen, indeed! 

God chose to send His only Son to die a horrible, excruciating death so that I could have life for all eternity!  I have two sons and I can’t imagine giving either of them up for someone else.  The very thought absolutely baffles and confounds me.  Because I simply can’t wrap my head around it.  I can’t imagine the kind of love it takes to give up your child for anyone!  But that’s the kind of love Almighty God has.  He was willing to sacrifice His one and only Son for you and for me.

You can call me foolish for my belief.  Call me hokey and stupid if you must.  I call me redeemed!  And very grateful for such a sacrifice.  That’s what Easter means to me.  A very Happy Easter to all of you!   

Happy Birthday, Moma!

Well, it’s March 13 again.  Today would’ve been my Moma’s 73rd birthday.  Wasn’t she beautiful?

Moma & Me

Today was also supposed to be the birthday of BOTH my Ankle Biters.  Both of them were due on their Mamaw Cat’s birthday.  But they were also both very impatient and couldn’t wait that long to arrive.  And unfortunately, she didn’t live long enough to get to meet either of them. 

In honor of Moma’s birthday today, I’d like to share with you some of my most favorite foods she made.  And there were MANY!  OH SO MANY!  But we just have 24 hours worth of her birthday after all!  So we can’t make them all!

I loved her wild breakfast sandwiches.  She’d put together some of the most unbelievable combinations on sandwiches for breakfast.  She used to bring them to me at work on my breaks.  One of my favorites was a fried potato/Miracle Whip/bell pepper/VERY VERY thinly sliced tomato sandwich.  Oh my heavens!  And she made BLT’s, but she added her home-canned sweet pickles to them.  To this day, I can’t make a BLT without adding sweet pickles!

If I close my eyes, I can stand in her kitchen smell all the amazing things she grew in her garden cooking on the stove!  Fresh-from-the-garden white sweet corn, cut off the cob and “fried” in a cast iron skillet.  Fresh green beans we sat outside and broke simmering on the stove with onions, bacon grease and baby red potatoes she just dug from the garden.  Then she would take those wonderful potatoes and mash them up on the plate with a little salt, pepper and Miracle Whip.  Fresh-from-the-garden okra or squash dredged in a little meal and flour frying in another cast iron skillet.  And of course, cornbread in yet another cast iron skillet in the oven. 

And the relishes and pickles and homemade salsa and Ro-Tel she canned!  Unbelievable!  I loved all the magic that came from her huge garden! 

She made this melt-in-your-mouth roast with gravy that had little teeny bits of onion and chives in it!  And Red Velvet Cake smothered in Cream Cheese Icing that would make you cry, it was so good!  And Pecan Pie and Apple Pie and Lemon Meringue Pie!  Then there were her huge vats of soup!  Well, I could honestly go on and on.  But again, we just have 24 hours for her birthday. 

So my absolute most favorite thing Moma ever cooked was her Swiss Steak.  There’s some irony to that.  I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes as a general rule.  I just don’t love them like everybody else in my family.  Tomatoes were Moma’s most favorite food in the whole world.  She grew them in her garden every summer and then canned about 92 gazillion jars of them to last through the winter.  I can remember having to stand in the kitchen peeling tomatoes to put in the jars.  Oh, how I hated that.  The smell of them gagged me.  But Moma LOVED tomatoes…..fresh, canned, however she could get them.  She always wore a shirt to the garden with a breast pocket so she could carry her teeny salt shaker with her.  I’ve watched her pick a tomato, shine it on her shirt tail, give it a healthy dose of salt and eat it standing right there in the middle of the garden!  Now here’s where the irony really comes in.  My brother loves tomatoes too.  But of all the dishes Moma made, he just hates this one!  So it’s rather odd that I’m a “mater hater” for the most part, but this is my favorite dish and he adores tomatoes, but hates this dish.  So how’s that for craziness?

Moma always said she learned about Swiss Steak from her Aunt Kitty.  Aunt Kitty was my Moma’s daddy’s only sister.  Pa Jack had about 9 or 10 brothers and then finally the baby of the family was a girl.  Kitty was a fabulous cook!  She made my wedding cake when the Tall Skinny Man and I got married.  She taught my Moma about Swiss Steak. 

Moma grew up eating good old “country food.”  Beans and taters and cornbread.  She told me she thought Swiss Steak was so exotic when she first tried it.  And I imagine it probably was to her way back then! 

The thing is, it’s not exotic at all!  It’s so simple by today’s standards.  But 60 years ago or so, Moma thought this was “cutting edge” food!  LOL

So let’s make it, shall we? 

Cat’s Swiss Steak

*  4-6 cube steaks

*  2 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes, undrained

*  2 large onions, cut into slivers

*  6-9 ribs celery, with leafy tops

*  garlic, salt and pepper to taste

Batter and fry cube steaks like country-fried steak.  Drain on paper towels.  Mix all other ingredients in a large Dutch oven.  Add steaks to tomatoes.  Simmer 2-3 hours on medium low heat.  Serve over hot cooked rice.

And that’s it!  So, so simple!  But SO, SO delicious!  I make it myself.  But somehow, it’s just not the same when the tomatoes come from a metal can I bought at Kroger.  As much love as I put into it, it doesn’t have those fresh tomatoes from the garden that Moma grew with love. 

I can never make Swiss Steak or eat it without thinking about Moma.  Well, I think about her a lot when I’m cooking because she loved to make good food and share it.  She’s one of the people I got my love for cooking and sharing good food from. 

Happy Birthday, Moma!  I love you and miss you every single day.  I hope all of Heaven is enjoying your magnificent meals!  Make ’em some Swiss Steak!  Then they’ll KNOW they’re in Heaven!