We “Greens” like our fried mush! This is a favorite of Dad’s and when any of us girls are home, we try to make up a batch. The upscale name for mush is “polenta” but for country people we have always known this delightful side dish as “mus.h” I shouldn’t really call mush a side dish because it overshadows almost anything that is served with it. I also want to give highest mention to my sister Donna who, for years, has been the “queen of mush making” in the Green family. I am a late comer and am perfecting the recipe and the cooking of the delicacy.
This recipe naturally calls for cornmeal and you can certainly use a good store-bought product. We have a grain grinder and for the batch that is featured in this article, Dad ground whole corn into meal – using the flour setting on our grain grinder. The outcome was great – the meal thickened nicely and had a wonderful fresh corn flavor. Also I want to mention that this recipe is not my original – it was taken from an old cookbook years ago so I cannot give proper credit for the origin. It is the recipe that my mom used and later each of us girls.
Corn Meal Mush
2 2/3 cups water
1 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup cold water
Bring the 2 2/3 cups water to boil in a saucepan. (I use a heavy enameled covered iron soup pot. I like the way these pots radiate heat evenly.)
Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Gradually add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water, stirring constantly. (This is a must! If you do not stir constantly the mixture can lump up and it is not a pretty sight!) Cook on high heat until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently. When the mixture is thick, turn down the heat to medium, cover and cook 20 to 25 minutes. (I set the timer for 10 minutes, uncover, stir and then cover and set the timer for another 10 minutes.)
While the mixture is cooking, butter a bread loaf pan. When the mixture has finished cooking, pour into the buttered loaf pan and allow it to cool for 25 minutes, then refrigerate overnight.
To unfold the cornmeal mush, loosen the edges with a spatula. Move it to a cutting board. Cut into 1/2-inch slices and dip in cornmeal so that the surface is dry. This is just a light coating and will help the mush brown nicely. To fry the mush, I use a little butter – 1 teaspoon or so mixed with 3 to 4 teaspoons of coconut butter – the coconut butter does not burn at a higher temperature and did you know the properties in coconut butter feed your brain! Yes, coconut butter, in small amounts, is good for your thinker! (I am not a scientist or a doctor – so do your own homework.) I would also note that we prefer the slices fairly thin, which results in a crisp finished product.
Serve with butter and hot syrup, in addition to eggs, bacon or actually all by itself if you like!
You should wrap the unused portion in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for later use. That is VERY FUNNY! I make a double batch and there is never any left!
Enjoy and thanks for shooting the breeze!
Odetta was my husband’s grandmother. She and her husband, Jess, were “salt of the earth” influences for my husband and his three sisters as well as Helen, their mom. Odetta knew how to cook for people, and it was one of the things that she enjoyed. Many were the times that you would sit down to a glorious feast of “down home” cooking and she would say …”Such as it is....” No one else that I have ever known could make such marvelous food and insist that it was just what one did. At one time, Odetta cooked for a group of ranch hands on a ranch where her husband worked. She made two meals each day for a dozen or so people on a little wood stove that she called the monkey stove.
I looked up monkey stove on ask.com and came up with this definition. “A monkey stove is a small wood-burning stove with two burners. It can also be described as a small iron wood burning stove with two eyes at the top. Monkey stoves were used by the pioneers who always carried one in their wagon.” I do remember Odetta having a stove like this at the farm though I don’t think it was what she used at the ranch.
From the time that I was introduced to Odetta and Jess, I can remember her cinnamon rolls. She would make them for Pat and the family. In 1974 when Pat and I drove across country from California to Kansas – returning to Kansas to farm with Granddad Jess – those cinnamon rolls were waiting on our arrival as part of a breakfast fit for a king. Only once, can I remember irritating my granny-in-law and that was when Pat and I had turned vegetarians and told her that we no longer want to eat the cinnamon rolls. What a mistake! Both the vegetarianism and turning down the cinnamon rolls! It took begging, graveling, and much penance to convince her that we had gained new wisdom and had ended our stint as vegetarians and would really enjoy some of those rolls. As I recall it was a couple of years before she blessed us again.
Later, when I had babies, she made cinnamon rolls with the girls. Auntie Pam found these pictures of my youngest daughter, Ashley, making rolls with Odetta. She made quite an impression on Ashley, especially, and to this day we make cinnamon rolls together. This year I was not with Ashley at Christmas, and she introduced the recipe to her husband’s family in California. These rolls are always a hit so I hope that you will enjoy them with your family.
I proof yeast in a small amount of warm water with a teaspoon sugar. Not all people or all recipes proof yeast in that manner. For what it is worth – I do.
Cinnamon Rolls – Odetta Powers
Proof Yeast – Combine 1 package of dry yeast, 1/4 cup water and scant teaspoon of sugar in a small dish and let stand while you are mixing up the following.
Heat: 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until it melts. Cool to room temperature.
Measure 2 cups flour into a large bowl and add the cooled milk mixture to the flour. Then add the yeast mixture. Add 2 eggs and beat by hand or with an electric mixer on low for 3 minutes. Using a spoon stir in as much of 2 to 2 1/2 cups flour as you can.
Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead enough of the remaining flour to make moderately soft dough until it is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Place the ball of dough in a lightly greased bowl in a warm place. Cover and let rise until double (about 1 hour).
When the dough has doubled in size, punch down and divide in half, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. After dough has rested, roll half into 12x8 rectangle. Brush with 3 tablespoons melted butter. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon and sprinkle on the buttered dough. Roll up and cut into rolls. Repeat with the other half of the dough. The rolls will fit in a 9x12 baking dish.
Note about cutting the rolls: Odetta taught me to cut the rolls with kitchen string or dental floss. A knife will flatten out the rolls. So … slip the string under the rolled up dough, loop over on top and pull… perfect and no flat cinnamon roll.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before frosting.
Frosting for Cinnamon Rolls:
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Makes about ½ cup of frosting. May be thickened with more confectioner's sugar or thinned with milk or cream. If you want a more substantial frosting you may add 1/4 cup soft butter. Combine and spread on cinnamon rolls.
Enjoy and thanks for shooting the breeze!
Christmas time was one of Mom’s favorite times of year and the smell of these cookies baking often filled the house – ginger, molasses, raisins and walnuts – spicy and good.
I can remember helping Mom make these cookies when I was about 12 years old. One reason I liked these cookies is that we got to put our hands in the dough! The cookies are big – about 3 1/2 inches across. With a house full of kids a big cookie is a good thing.
Mom tore this recipe out of a magazine just like I still do today. The picture of that torn out page is etched in my memory; it was stained with cookie dough and oil from the many batches that we had made. I wish that I knew the magazine so I could give them credit for the recipe.
Mom used a drinking glass to cut out the cookies. I use a mason jar and the recipe makes about 6 dozen cookies.
Oatmeal Molasses Cookies Corrine Green
8 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons baking soda
8 cups quick-cooked rolled oats
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 cups melted vegetable shortening (I use butter, it is natural)
2 cups molasses – l prefer dark
4 eggs beaten
1/4 cup hot water
3 cups seedless raisins
2 cups walnuts
Reserve 1/2 cup of the flour. Sift together flour, salt and soda and set aside.
In a very large bowl mix the oatmeal, sugar and ginger. Stir in the melted butter, molasses, beaten eggs, hot water, and sifted dry ingredients, raisins and nuts. Work the dough with your hands until it is well mixed. Add the remaining ½ cup flour, if needed, to make the dough workable.
Roll portions of dough to 1/4-inch thickness and cut with a 3 1/2-inch cutter. Place cookies on lightly greased baking sheets. Brush with water and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees) for 8 to 10 minutes.
Let cool completely before stacking or storing.
My sister and I were talking about these cookies recently so I am making a batch today for my ead. He always says the more things in a cookie the better – oats, nuts, raisins. These cookies are great with hot cocoa or a great cup of coffee. Actually they are pretty dawg gone good warm from the oven. I do believe I will have one now!
Thanks for shooting the breeze!
My family has a few traditions – I say that tongue in cheek! We have a ton of
Thanksgiving traditions. It is the one holiday that we all do our best to gather
at the family farm. There are seven of us siblings and now our children and
We have a number of great cooks in the family and over the years everyone has
owned a "special" dish that we wouldn't want to do without.
Beth makes a broccoli/rice casserole and she makes amazing blackberry pies;
Donna, another sister-in-law, prepares the green bean casserole and great
pumpkin pie. The third sister-in-law, Char, has a delicious creamed corn and
makes a fabulous holiday fudge. Some have been known to hide it to make sure they
get their share! Another sister-in-law, Renetta, makes the ham, and she does the
It is nice to have a choice of meats and the ham is alway welcome. My
sister, Donna, has a unique way of roasting the turkeys – three to be exact.
She also does the stuffing, gravy, and signature cranberry sauce. Andrea, my
youngest sister, is very creative and brings a gourmet flare to the meal. Her
roasted brussel sprouts, cheeses, and exotic olives are always a treat. I do the
potatoes and pecan pie. Most years there are potatoes from Dad's garden and we
cook about a five-gallon bucket full. We have an industrial size masher and use
lots of cream and butter. No scrimping on the calories for these potatoes.
Some of the grandchildren are adults and they are introducing their own
specialties – cheesecake, cupcakes, etc. There are times when a sibling will not
be able to attend, and the second generation jumps right in and brings a
We do keep adding great grandbabies and friends. Dad always says, “The more the
merrier.” One of the most important things to him is to see the house full of
family. It brings him such happiness. Mom passed about three years ago, but she
is here in spirit – and in many of the recipes.
My sister Donna and I arrive some days early to help with the cleaning and begin
the cooking. One day before Thanksgiving we begin the cooking. Donna starts with
roasting garlic – lots of garlic. That smell lets you know that some serious
cooking is about to take place. The turkey is rubbed with roasted garlic and oil
and sits on a bed of whole carrots and celery. It is cooked at a high
temperature and is turned from breast down to breast up part way through the
roasting process. It is a sight to behold!!!
We trade off time at the counter, stove and sink – prepping, cooking, and
washing dishes (no dish washer here)! We, just like Mom, enjoy cooking, talking
and fixing the “big meal” for the family. I see Mom in each of us girls. She was
so creative and one of the ways she shared that creativeness was cooking for her
This year I tried roasting a pumpkin to make pies. Dad had a huge pumpkin that
he had cured and was going to save for seed. This was not your typical “pie”
pumpkin, and I was amazed at the quality of the pies.
I want to reference an article that I found at Capper’s Farmer by Carol Deppe, December 2012. I would recommend this article and the pie recipe. I agreed with
Carol’s thoughts on pie, and this year's pie was delicious. She believes that
the pie is more about the fresh pumpkin and eggs and less about bland canned
pumpkin and evaporated milk. I agree whole heartedly!
I cut the pumpkin in cubes and roasted (baked) it at 350 degrees for about 45
minutes. I added a pan of water at the side to help add steam to the roasting.
Just stick a fork in the pumpkin to test if it is done. After it cooled, I put
the extra cubed pumpkin in the freezer. The cubes can be unthawed as needed for
I used a blender to puree the pumpkin and used Carol’s recipe from the article I
The Perfect Pumpkin Pie Recipe
6 cups baked mashed ‘Sweet Meat’ or other prime squash or pumpkin
2 to 2¼ cups eggs (my note: about 14 eggs)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 to 3 cups brown sugar, packed down, depending upon the sweetness of the
2 tablespoons Carol’s Perfect Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix (16:4:4:1 cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg,
1 teaspoon real vanilla powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Mix together and pour into a prepared one-crust pie shell. Bake at 350 for
approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Whip up some “real” heavy whipping cream. You went
through the work of “real pie” so don’t put fake whipping cream on it!
This year the second turkey came out of the oven around midnight. Donna and I
were waiting up for more family to arrive, watching the pumpkin pie bake, and
mixing up the pecan pie. She was taking the turkey off the bone while we chatted
and I ate crisp turkey wings.
When we all get together there are generally other projects that are on the
docket. It could be trimming goats' feet, bottling honey, or any of the other
things that come up.
On Thanksgiving morning you will usually find the guys out cutting wood for
Dad’s winter wood supply and working up a genuine appetite.
After the meal, events range from target practice, walks, naps, horseback riding
and there have been a few touch football games in the front yard.
Perhaps our best tradition is to value family. Continuing to gather and
investing time in these relationships is honoring what Dad and Mom began more than 60
Thanks for shooting the breeze!
P.S. A special thanks to my niece Kim for most of the photos used in this article.
She is an amazing photographer. If you are in the Columbia, Mo., area check out her
Facebook page - Kimberly Gayle Photography.
One of the views out the kitchen window at the farm is an assortment of birdfeeders. In the summer we look for the Grasshopper sparrow, Oriole, Bobolink, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Robin, Meadowlarks, Warblers, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Wrens, Goldfinch, and Hummingbirds. In the winter we look for Northern Cardinals, Snow birds, Horned Lark, Red Headed woodpecker, Blue Jays, Chickadees and others. Dad knows the song and chatter of many of these birds. We sit at the bar and have coffee the first thing of a morning and looking out at the birds and identifying them adds to the morning conversation.
It is snowing here today and a perfect time to share this suet recipe. I have used it for several years and the birds at my feeders eat it like it’s going out of style! I keep a supply of these cakes in the freezer in the winter time. They also make a perfect gift for your birding friends. This is truly a “bird” tested treat.
I have a habit of tearing pages out of magazines, and this was in the Birds & Blooms magazine in October/November 2008. It was sent in by a reader – Joseph Pavelchak from New Jersey.
Joseph said, “This suet recipe attracts a variety of birds including Sparrows, Juncos, Blue Jays, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, and more. It is a lot more successful than those suet blocks we purchase at the store. The birds are always fighting over it."
Ingredients: 1 cup lard, 1 cup crunchy peanut butter, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 cups quick cooking oats, 2 cups cornmeal, 1 cup flour, 1 cup birdseed
Directions: Melt lard and peanut butter. Add sugar to the melted mix. Combine the remaining ingredients. Form blocks and freeze. I use recycled aluminum foil to freeze the mixture. The suet does not stick to the tin foil and you can use it over and over.
I like to double the recipe so that I have plenty on hand to feed and/or give to friends.
Thanks for shooting the breeze.
The fall honey harvest is the culmination of extreme effort for the bees that we are privileged to have on our farm. A single hive of bees can produce about 100 pounds of honey depending on conditions in any given year. The hive is made up of several types of bees. The following description is an over simplification of life in the hive.
The Queen lives deep in the hive and has two jobs. She is responsible for laying eggs and she produces secretions that control the social order of the beehive. The drone bee is male and its chief job is to mate with a young queen. The worker bees are all female. They are nurse maid to the “baby bees” and then move on to the job of foraging. These female worker bees live approximately six to eight weeks. The average bee will make one to two teaspoons of honey in their life. Honey is an amazing and precious gift.
Through the late spring and summer months, the bees forage for both nectar and pollen that they will process into honey. The amount of honey that can be produced will vary greatly by the available flowering crops as well as the moisture and the temperature. The bees fill up the frames that we have provided. Nine to ten frames fill a box or super, and these supers can be varied in depth. We will add supers to the hives as the bees fill the frames and cap off the honey. It is from these extra stores of honey that we “harvest” the liquid gold.
Harvesting the honey should take place on a warm day and for us is generally in August or September. We begin by gathering our supplies and suiting up. Generally you will need the following equipment:
Smoker, fuel for the smoker, lighter or matches, hive tool, bee hat and veil.
As you work with each hive you will need a place to put the supers. This will vary based on the number of hives that you manage and/or the number of honey yards. We move our supers directly from the hive to the Honey House.
Dad began bee keeping about 45 years ago when a relative passed and left two hives of bees in his yard. This relative’s wife called Dad and asked if he could remove the hives. Dad read a little and moved the bees from that yard to our farm. He got stung several times and ended up in the emergency room at the local hospital. Dad was allergic to those stings.
The bees intrigued Dad, he studied everything he could find on bees, and he also gradually got stung “on purpose” to build up a resistance to the bee sting. From that small beginning Dad built up to over 200 hives with the largest harvest being 6000 pounds of honey in a single season. Dad and Mom and my youngest sister did a stint in the Fiji Islands with the Peace Corps when he was in his 50’s. He managed the only “profit making” bee venture of that time for the Peace Corps. (More stories on that at a later date.) While they were in the Fiji Islands, my husband and I managed the bees here at the farm, and we both have been mentored by Dad.
Dad doesn’t always suit up. I like to wear a white long sleeve shirt and I do wear my bee hat with veil. I have naturally curly hair and if a bee gets caught in my hair, I can end up with a sting just because the bee can’t find a way out of the tangle. I do also like to put a strap or twine around my pant legs. There is nothing more exciting that having a bee up your pants. That almost always ends with a sting.Dad is a calm individual and the bees respond well to his temperament. We generally apply a little smoke at the front entrance of the hive, then pop the top and here we go!
Once we have the top off the hive we apply a little smoke to the top and take off the inner cover to check out the hive. We are harvesting honey but also and most importantly, we are assessing the health of the hive. We will only take “excess” honey stores. We use the hive tool to un-glue the edges of the super and pull it off to look at the super below.
As I mentioned before, we take the supers directly to the Honey House for processing after all the honey is harvested. One reason is that neighboring bees can smell the honey and start “robbing” from the super that we have just lifted off the hive. The neighboring bees can become quite frenzied. We move methodically through the hive pulling off supers and continuing to look at the health of the hive. We will locate the Queen, look at the number of brood cells, and check how much honey is in the bottom two boxes.
These bottom two supers are the main body of the hive and where most of the life activities happen. We also want to make sure that the bees have ample stores of honey to make it through the winter. Once we have checked out the hive and replaced the inner cover and cover back on the box, we will make note of any concerns and move on to the next hive.
Once all the supers (boxes of filled and capped frames) are in the Honey House, we will begin the process of extracting the honey. I do enjoy the work outside, the hum of the bees and adventure of finding the Queen, but I really love the Honey House. The building will be buzzing with the extra bees that have tagged along; the aroma of the honey is sweet and strong. We make an escape route for the bees in the Honey House so that they can make it back to their respective hives if possible. There are windows on both the South and North, and we have a fan that gives a bit of breeze in the heat of the summer afternoon. It is time to roll up one’s sleeves and the extracting begins.
We use a hot knife to cut the caps off the frames of honey and the sweet, sticky honey begins to flow. Our stainless steel extractor holds 32 frames of honey. When it is full it spins the frames, and the honey is flung out and runs down the sides of the extractor into another stainless steel trough. From there the honey is heated a bit and is fed up into the clarifier. In the clarifier the honey is strained and then is pumped into the bottling unit. The cappings are melted and the wax is used to make the base foundation for the frames. Other products such as candles can be made or the wax can be sold.
The wet empty frames that the honey is extracted from are placed outside for the bees to clean. Bees come from all over the bee yard to lick up every drop of the delicious honey and take it back to their hive. Once these frames are cleaned, they are stored for the winter and can be used again the following year.
Bees fly 50,000 miles to make a pound of honey so in that 100 pounds per hive is 5,000,000 miles of buzzing, foraging and gathering. It sounds like we should start a frequent flyer program for our bees. I wonder if Kansas bees would use their miles for a winter trip to Hawaii. Thanks for shooting the breeze. D
Post Script: If you are looking for local honey in SE Kansas, we do sell honey at the farm. You can check out our FB page Green’s Organic Farm and Apiary.
Chickens come in all colors, shapes and sizes. One of my favorite chicken breeds is the Mille Fleur. This is a Bantam breed with feathers that go all the way down their legs. Mille Fleur is translated Thousand Flowers. They are a colorful bird. We have a number of these little chickens on the farm. Dad calls them the perfect garden chicken because you can turn them out and they do little to no damage in the garden.
There is a rooster that has shown amazing dedication to his little hen. They are older and she is blind. In the morning he will make noises and lead her out into the yard. All of our chickens are free range – they freely roam about the five plus acres of yard, garden, and small lots. They could go out into the pastures but don’t generally roam too far from the hen house. Dad pointed out a specific pair on one of my visits. The rooster stays right with his hen. His communication method is to cluck around and she will follow him. When he finds a bug or piece of grain he will lead her to it and he makes sure that she eats. He also takes her to the water and at night he does not go in the hen house until he is sure that she is in front of him. I am amazed at such behavior in the chicken kingdom! The rooster has not added to his harem or taken interest in other groups. Dad has taken to hand feeding the little hen. The rooster appears to know Dad and will allow him to approach the hen and feed her a bit of “canned dog food” or some other small morsel. The rooster stands guard and makes sure that she eats. Here is Dad feeding the little hen with the rooster standing guard.
Post Script: Have witnessed similar animal behavior? If so, I would love to hear the story.