Sunday, January 17, 2010


Supper is over and Judy is watching the Golden Globes, so I decided I'd rather be posting something on Mushy's Cookings for you to enjoy!

We've been trying to hold down the calories, like everyone else this time of year, but it has to have great taste or I won't like it.

Tonight I chopped up a red and yellow bell pepper, a large onion, and put them aside.

In a large skillet I sprinkled some olive oil and turned the heat on medium. I then placed 6 or 7 frozen chicken tenderloins. As the oil heated it began to thaw, so I flipped them over and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I then turned them again and seasoned the other thawed side.

I continued to flip the pieces to ensure they were not burning, and when the meat was about half cooked I sprinkled on some fajita seasoning, and added some minced garlic. I then flipped the pieces again and seasoned the opposite side.

When the meat was cooked to a nice brown color, I removed them and allowed them to drain on a paper towel.
I then dumped the peppers and onions into the same skillet, sprinkled just a little more olive oil and added the remained of my fajita seasoning packet. I continued to stir the vegetables until they became limp and added back in the meat and cut off the heat.

I placed a whole-wheat fajita wrap on to two plates, squirted a few lines of sour cream, and grated on a little cheese. I then placed one chicken tenderloin on top of the sour cream and then spread a generous portion of the vegetables on top.

The mixture was easy enclosed in the wrap and made a wonder hardy and nutritious meal. There was plenty left for lunch tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Got my second allergy shot of the week today and did a little stop and go photography on the way back home.

If you're local, you will be familiar with the Little Emery boat ramp. Well, I took a few shots out across the ice on the bay there and had flash backs of when I too threw rocks out onto ice and marveled at them sitting there on top. I wondered if anyone would be around when they finally sank beneath the surface.
As I stood there, I was also reminded of how ice will sing to you. Yes, if you've never heard it, it's a weird, almost wire in the wind, kind of sound. Eerily, the sound begins way down up stream, and you can hear it coming down the valley and then stops loudly right in front of you! It's the neatest, spookiest, thing to stand there and listen to it coming toward you. should get out more, especially on 20 degree days with a bright blue sky above.

Anyway, by the time I got home I was ready to cook something good for supper...something substantial and hot!

You're supposed to chop up carrots, onions, and garlic, but I am lazy, so I bought a bag of tiny carrots the other day to use. With them in a large skillet, I dumped in a carton of fresh mushrooms (any kind you like), diced onion, and about 2 cups of red wine. Whatever you have on hand, but the better it is the better your dish will be.

I cooked the carrots and onions until the wine had cooked away and then poured the mixture into the bottom of the crock-pot.

Back in the same skillet, I dumped two packages of extra lean stew meat that had been tenderized. I salted and peppered the meat while it cooked on one side, and then sprinkled crushed red peppers over the top. I lightly browned the meat on both sides...I probably should have browned it more, but it came out just fine. Note: If you don't brown the meat, at least add in soy sauce the get the same flavor.

I put the browned meat into the crock-pot, poured in a full box of chicken stock (yes, chicken), sprinkled a line or two of olive oil over the top, and then drizzled some Worcestershire sauce. I again added salt.

I then dumped in a small sack of red-skinned potatoes and half a large sweet onion cut into large pieces.

I cooked the meal for about 5 or 6 hours on high, then turned it to low for almost another hour.

It was absolutely delicious and very warming on a freezing day in Tennessee.

There is a distinctive hint of the wine in the taste, so if you don't like that particular taste, just use lots of soy and Worcestershire with beef stock.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Turkey Kielbasa On A Cold Winter's Evening

Judy and I were out and about most of the day, she had a dental appointment and I was staying with my mom whose heat had conked out! After mom was settled, Judy and I headed for the grocery. We were tired and cold by the time we made it back, so food, and something good was foremost on our minds.We had a double package of turkey kielbasa in the refrigerator that needed to be eaten or frozen, so that was chosen as the meat for our meal. I also noticed a green, yellow, and red bell pepper that would be too old in a few more days. The meal was complete!

I chopped up the bell peppers, into half circles, and a whole sweet onion, and set them aside. I then cut the kielbasa off in think rings.

In a large skillet, I sprinkled a few lines of olive oil and dumped in the meat on medium heat. I took out the scraps and some old fruit salad, left over from Christmas, while the skillet came up to heat. It was all sizzling nicely when I returned. I added about a table spoon full of minced garlic, and lightly sprinkled in some cayenne pepper. I began stirring the meat, not letting it stick, until each piece began showing a nice brown color around the edges.

At that point, I dumped in the vegetables and again drizzled a few lines of olive oil over the entire mixture, sprinkled on some salt and pepper, and a good amount of crushed red pepper. In the end, I almost got things a touch too hot, but the spices made everything taste wonderful. I may be cutting back in portions, but I don't like to cut back on taste or heat!

We each got a small portion, about saucer size, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves with only water. There was plenty left over for tomorrow!

The warmth came back to our bones and we were once again very happy to be home.

Friday, January 01, 2010


For as long as I remember, my family has eaten black-eyed peas, hog jowl, and either cabbage or plain ol' spinach on New Year's Day. The question always asked when meeting a family member or friend was, "Did you have some black-eyed peas today?"
One difference in us and the tradition, was that the peas symbolized money to us instead of the greens, but we had both anyway.

Why do we eat these things? Simply put, eating beans and greens, typically a poor man's food, on New Year's Day means you'll eat rich the rest of the new year!

Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day was always thought to bring prosperity to our Southern home. The peas are typically cooked with a pork product for flavoring (such as bacon, ham bones, fatback, or hog jowl), diced onion, and served with hot sauce.

Judy soaked hers over night in clear water, then picked out the pea hulls, added some pork pieces from the hog-jowl, and cooked them for about 1 hour. They cook much faster than pintos. She added salt to taste, and that's it!

The traditional meal also features cooked cabbage, collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. Some say the peas are coins and the greens dollars, and some even add sweet potatoes to represent gold! Cornbread always accompanies this meal.
I cut up the cabbage and onions and then sliced the hog-jowl. I slice across the thick skin in the opposite direct of my horizontal slices so that the pieces don't curl up while cooking. The real trick is to start them in a cold skillet, but the second and third additions to the hot grease will curl some, but not nearly as much as uncut slices! Click the meat shots to enlarge them enough to see the cross cuts.
Judy puts the cabbage in a little of the pork grease, adds about 2 cups of water, and then adds the cabbage. She salts and sprinkles on Ms. Dash's Hot and Spicy seasoning. When the cabbage cooks down some, she adds in a measure of this to taste.

After my cutting and garbage duties were completed, I was back in front of the Capitol One and Rose Bowls!

These "good luck" traditions* supposedly date back to the American Civil War. Union troops, especially in areas targeted by General William Tecumseh Sherman, typically stripped the countryside of all stored food, crops, and livestock, and destroyed whatever they couldn't carry away. At that time, Northerners considered "field peas" or "cow peas" and field corn suitable only for animal fodder, and didn't steal or destroy these humble foods.

The origin of the New Year's meal is not really known, but of course I like this one best, being a Southern man. The truth is, there is a large contingent of Scottish folks living in the south (a third of my genes as well), and their influence brought us things like our "good luck" meal, the "St. Andrew's Cross" in the Confederate Battle Flag (which is square and not the true Confederacy Flag - Stars and Bars), and even "Auld Lang Syne"!
"Auld Lang Syne" is an old Scottish song that was first published by the poet Robert Burns in the 1796 edition of the book, Scots Musical Museum. Burns transcribed it (and made some refinements to the lyrics) after he heard it sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns' homeland. 
It is often remarked that "Auld Lang Syne" is one of the most popular songs that nobody knows the lyrics to. "Auld Lang Syne" literally translates as "old long since" and means "times gone by."
I suppose you can say the South never forgets - its family traditions and heritage anyway! A true educated Southerner knows the war was not about slavery, but about "States Rights", heavy, unfair taxation, and the right to secede. Slavery wasn't an issue in 1861, where 95% of the south was too poor to own anybody! That came along after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
Anyway, Happy New Year everybody...ain't it grand that we have all that bad history behind us!
Last but least, I wanted to mention the cherry liqueur I attempted for the Holidays. I bought fresh cherries, removed the seeds, and put them in a quart fruit jar (Mason Jar). I then added one cup of sugar and poured in a full fifth of 90 proof vodka! I shook the mixture for a couple of days until all the sugar disappeared. On retrospect, I should have made that one and half cups to 2 whole cups. It wasn't sweet enough for Judy's taste. 
Anyway, I put the liquid away in a dark conor place for about 5 weeks. The cherries slowly sank to the bottom of the jar, and I shook the jar about 3 times during that time...mostly to get more cherries to sink.
So, I bought a cheap decanter and added the liquid first, and the spooned in the cherries. It was quite tasty to me, but the cherries weren't very sweet to the taste. More sugar may have done the trick. However, I do love to sip it slowly while's very soothing to the throat, and could be mistaken for cough syrup! 
*Other legends hold that the "good luck" meal has its roots in Hebrew traditions. Instructions found in Babylonian, compiled around the year 500, tells Hebrews to include gourds, black-eyed peas, leeks, dates, and either beets or spinach in their new year meals for good luck. 'Course these Hebrews weren't eating any pork and that's just a shame!
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