Family, friends and good food are the foundations of our lives. We celebrate with them, mourn with them and nothing can bring us comfort more than a steaming bowl of soup or a slice of chocolate cake except for the love of our family and friends...

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Many years ago on one of our trips home to Alabama, my dad's cousin Tootsie made us a meal of Porcupine Balls. My younger brother and I were in awe and fell in love with this simple meal.  Decades later we always remembered that special trip, Aunt Tootsie house and her Porcupine Balls.

I attempted to make them a couple of times for my family but was never satisfied, but decided recently to give them a go again and was transported back to my childhood... and Althea loved them.

A few of the simple ingredients that go into Porcupine Balls.

The finished product.

1 pound ground chuck or round
1 cup of converted rice
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 tablespoon diced onion
1 can beef broth
3 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

Mix ground meat, rice, salt and pepper, onion, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 3 tablespoons soup and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of beef broth together and form meatballs. Add a small amount of broth at a time so meatballs will not become too soupy.

Brown meatballs in oil and drain. Place remainder of soup, broth and Worcestershire sauce back in pan and add meatballs. Add a small amount of water if needed and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes until meatballs and rice are cooked through, adding small amounts of water if needed.

Serve over cooked rice or mashed potatoes or by themselves. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Heirloom Tomatoes

Having read about Heirloom seeds for several years, my husband and I decided to try our hand with growing heirloom tomatoes in our garden this year. We bought several different varieties of plants, planted them in our small garden spot and watched them take off…

We were impressed with the amount of fruit we collected off the Yellow Submarine and finally had to start giving them away to family and friends as they are a little small for processing but have a wonderful flavor. They are great in a tomato salad.

My favorite was the Big Rainbow as they are not only a wonderful color but they made a great Tomato Jam. This tomato has a lot of meat and so I had some nice fruit in the jam. I finally picked and froze enough of them that my next batch of jam should be a nice amber color and will certainly share the photos on here when I get it done.

I recommend to all home gardeners to try out a few of these “new” old plants in your garden, not only for something different but for the flavor that so many of the newer varieties just don’t have.

Monday, August 2, 2010


This is a wonderful recipe. My son and I together prepared this dish for a family wedding and we quadrupled the recipe. There were very few leftovers, but what we did have left made the best roast beef sandwiches I have ever eaten. I only marinated this for 24 hours, but from what I am told you can do this for up to 3 days for a stronger flavor.

6 lbs sirloin tip roast or beef eye round
3 bay leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground mace
6 ground cloves
1 clove garlic, crushed and made into a paste with salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
2 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 cup salt
1 bottle Guinness stout

Mix all the flavorings and spices together. Rub in the mixture once or twice a day for up to two days.
Place the beef in a large bowl and rub all over with the spice and flavoring mixture.
Cover and refrigerate.
The spices and flavorings will now be mixed with the juices drawn from the beef.

Tie up the meat firmly if needed and place in a roaster.
Rub in a last teaspoon of ground cloves.

Mix 1 1/2 cups cold water and a bottle of Guinness, pour into bottom of roaster.
Place rack in roaster and roast on rack.

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees and cook for about 3 to 4 hours until well done.
Allow to cool.
When cool, remove from the cooking liquid, place on a serving dish and cover with a weighted plate.
Refrigerate until serving time.
Serve cold, thinly sliced.


A warm bowl of Irish Stew

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion chopped
3 pounds boneless lamb stew meat
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 3/4 teaspoon dried
Salt and pepper to taste

2 medium white potatoes peeled and sliced
3 cups chicken stock
4 medium potatoes halved
8 carrots peeled and halved

Cook onions and lamb in butter until onions are translucent.
Add the thyme, salt and pepper, slice potatoes and stock and cook for 2 hours or until meat is almost fork tender.
Add the potatoes and carrots and cook until the vegetables are tender.

For a traditional Irish stew do not thicken; for those of you who like a thicker stew then you may make a roux to add to the stew.

2 tablespoons lamb drippings
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
Salt and pepper
2 cups cooking liquid

Mix 2 tablespoons of lamb drippings and 2 tablespoons of flour over medium high heat to form a paste, stir in the 2 cups of cooking liquid to form gravy.

Add the gravy to the pot to thicken the stew.


Leftover Limerick Ham on Sour Dough Bread.

A traditional dish in Ireland, it is usually made with a whole ham but our family uses just the butt portion unless we use a whole semi-boneless ham. This recipe has been handed down in our family for more than 30 years.The orange juice was my addition and I doubt you’d find it used in Ireland but it is a nice twist to the recipe which can be left out if you desire.
Warning this ham is addictive and once you’ve eaten one prepared this way an ordinary baked ham just won’t do. You may substitute 1 tablespoon of pickling spices for the bay and cloves; whether you tie them up or just toss them in is left up to you as a person choice.

6 pound cured ham
1/2 cup cider vinegar
Equal parts of apple cider and water to cover ham
1 small onion peeled
2 bay leaves
6 cloves
8 tbsp brown mustard
8 tbsp brown sugar
Whole cloves
6 ounces frozen orange juice thawed (optional)

Put ham in large stock pot and cover with water/cider mixture, add vinegar, 6 cloves, bay leaves and onion. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes per pound until meat begins to pull away from center bone. Remove from heat and leave soaking in pot for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350. Remove ham from pot and take off heavy skin, put ham in roaster, cut crisscrosses in fat. Reserve stock if using orange juice. Mix mustard and sugar into paste. Rub or pat over ham, stick cloves in ham. Mix orange juice and 1/2 to 1 cup of stock together and pour around ham in dish. Bake 30 minutes or until ham begins to brown.

My Dad's Limerick Ham on Foodista