Thursday, September 24, 2015


Thanks for the great response on my blog, Yea Law! Where's My Purse?  After reading it a few times, I realized I had failed to mention two items I loved to eat at Grandmama's house.  Her meatloaf and her Fresh Apple Cake.

Even though it is the second day of fall and 89 degrees with low humidity, I'm busy in my AC cooled home pretending the leaves are already turning and the nights chilly enough for sitting on the deck star-gazing, with a cup of honey tea.  In reality, the leaves may be turning due to a lack of rain but an enjoyable night on the deck is still questionable, especially with a hot beverage.  Somehow, just sitting on the deck drinking Coca Cola is not appealing, for now.  But of course, I do always love my Coke.

This blog is called Randomonium for a reason.  That is the way my mind works.  Mid-sentence, walking into one room distracted from a mission or maybe waking up in the middle of the night, wondering about my purse.  I don't want to be tied to a certain style blog, unless it is my idea.

So in honor of the second day of fall, my favorite season, I'm bringing another recipe to your attention.  I hope this cake will look better than my flop three weeks ago.

This is very easy to make, everything in one bowl.  It is a stiff mix and I have been known to use manual labor to get it all together at the closing.  Except for eating the cake, the best part is the two hour wait time for cooking.  I guess I will grab a book and stay closeby in case the oven breaks or the timer goes off!


Combine 3 cups flour / 2 cups sugar / 1 1/2 tsp soda / 1 tsp salt
Stir in  1 1/4 cup Wesson Oil / 1 tsp vanilla / 2 beaten eggs / 3 cups chopped apples /
            1 cup chopped pecans
Grease and flour tube pan.  Bake at 275 for 2 hours.

Well, this cake didn't win the pretty prize either.  And there is no icing to cover up these spots.  It is delicious but one more like this and I'm out of the cake business.  I did have some flowers handy.  I have placed flower tops in the ugly spots - viola- The Flower Topped Cake.

Tested and approved by BT

Thursday, September 17, 2015


At 3 a.m. in the morning, everyone was sleeping soundly.  My Grandmama and Pa were visiting, sleeping in the middle room of my parents' house, the guest room.  Obviously not everyone was sleeping soundly.  Without even a whisper but a blood curdling scream saved only for life-threatening moments, Grandmama sat up in bed in the pitch dark night, screaming, "GUNTER, WHERE'S MY PURSE???"  All the lights flew on, the commotion putting the rest of the house in "danger" mode, sending everyone else scurrying to a fallout shelter.  It is funny now but to live it was another matter.  Grandmama could be kind and gentle but she could also flip a switch that brought every other activity to a halt or sleeping neighborhoods to attention.  The purse was found.  She always had a thing about her beautiful bags.  Somehow, I may have inherited both of these qualities.

Sometimes I think my lot in life is unpacking boxes.  Boxes from remodeling or boxes moved to the garage for temporary safe keeping.  Ah, the garage.  The glorious repository of all things without quick solutions.  Easy out.  Just open the kitchen door and pitch.  Maybe a professional organizer is in my future.

But good things do come in forgotten boxes.  I recently found the box holding souvenirs I have collected from my grandmother's life.  This is not a huge collection because she was the sort of person who had just what she needed and little excess except for dinnerware and family correspondence.  The original place for everything.

NRE (1909-2003) started out with a holler, on a hot, summer day in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, after the doctor had asked her father whose life to save, the mother's or the baby's.  The delivery left small scars on her little head.  She was quickly wrapped and placed on a table, unattended, while the doctor and his helper labored to save her mother.  Cassie was spared but would never have any more babies.  At some point, as the story has been told for years, the neglected baby made herself known with a big cry.  And thus, she continued for her ninety-three years, feisty and much loved from day one.

We shared a close relationship and could talk about almost anything.   Others insisted I was her favorite but I had no control in being the first grandchild born and sharing her middle name.  When I was fifteen, she shocked me for the first time.  We were walking in a dwindling downtown area.  One store offered nothing but bare mannequins posed for the empty streets.  Grandmama whispered to me, "Somebody really told her where to stick it."  I never saw her in the same way again.

Before I left for college, I drove to visit my grandparents.  She loved to shop but always with a purpose in mind.  Always the best and always her brand.  Going out required her to go upstairs to put on her rings, grab her purse and get her credit card (which she paid in full each month).  We went to the local boutique where my mother had bought her wedding dress years earlier.  Grandmama said yes to three dresses for my college wardrobe.   Her generosity was famous.

She also shared a story about her first few days in college.  Her beauty was well-known and preceded her to school.  Upon her arrival, the captain of the football team made her acquaintance and offered her any and everything on campus, with one proposition.  Again, I was shocked.  But this was her warning to me about the dangers lurking in college.

Family genealogy was a natural talent.  Every introduction included "your people" and her ability to know the chain of relations of dozens of people and families.  She would have loved computers for genealogy.  Her family was precious to her and she always cherished the life she had had with her parents.   

To the penny and with a sharp pencil, she kept up with all of my grandparents' business, from running a hotel to tracking the stock market.  My grandparents' love story began in college.  Once they married, they were equals in life and work.  Her business acumen was well advanced for a woman of her time.  Almost every visit, a large ledger was offered to family members for viewing stock fluctuations, dividends and net worth.  In another era, she could have climbed the corporate ladder.

Division among the ranks as to her cooking.  I remember being a child and wondering if my Grandmama cooked.  Didn't they all?  When she was young, her mother cooked.  When newly married, the deli cooked.  Running hotels and raising small children, the kitchen cooked.  And my Pa cooked.  But she cooked potato salad.  Pot roast.  Meatloaf.  Vegetable soup.  Angelfood cake.  Applesauce salad.  Divinity and fruitcake cookies.  Squash casserole.  Turnips.  Mrs. Smith's Apple Pie.  Popcorn.  Fritos.  Dr. Pepper.  Nobody starved.
Every morning of her life, she ate a banana, half a grapefruit, a bowl of Grape Nuts, orange juice and coffee.  Must have been the right combination.  She saw her doctors when necessary or for check-ups.  The only time she was hospitalized was when her two children were born.  When she died, she had never had any surgery or broken bones and was taking one or two prescriptions.  

You can be feisty and independent all of your life.  The same will that got you off the table on day one can carry you almost to the end.   With good health, luck and care, you can grow old and wise.   But being feisty or stubborn will not prevent the spider webs of dementia from running through your mind.

Stubbornness will make you say you don’t need help.   You don’t care if you lay at the bottom of the stairs dead for days.   You don’t need any medicine at all.  You can’t turn the dining room into a downstairs bedroom.   You can lie in your gown tail in bed all week.  You will fight desperately, verbally, physically, and emotionally to not go to a nursing home.

Dementia makes you call the police if your caregiver aggravates you.  You throw books at people you care about.   You scream and cry to get attention.  You lose the battle and enter a nursing home.  You tell strangers you don’t have on underwear.   You call your daughter Mama.   You don’t remember being married.   You think your parents are still living.   You deny your ninety-three years.

The last years of a very old person’s life are often not the true picture of that person.  The wonderful people who took care of her didn't know who she really was.  They did not see the beautiful face that broke hearts, or the fun loving, young mother and wife.  They did not see the countless hours she spent serving at the Red Cross in WWII.  Or the years running a hotel or helping at church.  Her sturdy shoes and turtlenecks belied the once stunning figure, impeccably dressed.  They did not know she helped her father and mother-in-law when they were sick and dying.  Or that Grandmama was sitting next to her mother when she died suddenly, unexpectedly.

She was the oldest person I have ever known.  I always wanted to ask her what it was like to be so close to heaven.  Burt's grandfather had just died and I needed to pack.  But before leaving, I felt like making the trip to see Grandmama.  The difference in a week was dramatic.  She had never been this way before.  She was leaning over in her wheelchair.  It was hard for her to talk so I did all the talking.  We held hands the whole time.  She would squeeze my hands and look at me.  I know she knew me.  I poured my heart out to her about how much she was loved,  my admiration of her.  What a wonderful life she had lived.  I talked about all of her family waiting in heaven.  As much as I would miss her, I gave her permission to let go.  Four days later, I rushed from a funeral in another state to be by her side but she left before I could get there.  

When she was born, her father had smallpox and was quarantined in a shed.  He was allowed to come to the glass window and peer in at his new baby.   Love at first sight.  Grandmama always had a wealth of love and attention.   And she returned the same.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Tomato.  Bell pepper,  Vinegar.  Tea bag.  Ice.  Butter,  Sugar.  Flour.  Pumpkin.  Ginger.  Cream Cheese.  Boiled eggs.  Mayonnaise.  Ground Sirloin.  Cumin.  Tomato sauce.  Potatoes.  Cream.  Cheddar Cheese.  Olives.  Cayenne.  Old English Cheese.  Tea bag.  Clove.  Oranges.  Curry.  Green onions.  Chutney.  Cornbread.  Celery.

25 months.  Hard to believe this blog has been writing itself (ha) for two years and one month.  Amazing.  Really.

In honor of this two year occasion,  I'm looking back at the most viewed recipe posts.  This is partially out of nostalgia but also admitted vain glory, reintroducing the reader to my unsurpassed cooking prowess represented in this varied palate.

One might think a recipe is an easy out .  Inspiration or just because I was cooking that day, there is much debate about presentation, photography and active food prep.

I hope this will make you want to read a few.  Test a few.  I will lead the way through the "favorites" maze.

Bon Appetit!  Shown in order of popularity.


A distinct family favorite served over purple hull peas. Diced summer tomatoes, onions and green bell pepper make up this confetti for your palate.  Vinegar and sugar round out this party on a plate.  Hot sliced, buttered cornbread, purple hull peas and pea salad.  All that is southern.


An experienced cook unable to make perfect iced tea.  A sad spot in the road.  But practice makes perfect and this experiment always results in a consistently, refreshing beverage.  There is no sugar in this recipe but it is an easy addition.  If you drink iced tea in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning, you may have a southern gene.  Truthfully, the Mason Dixon line has little to do with this favorite of favorites that looks pretty in any setting and compliments any meal or midnight snack.


Nothing beats butter, sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla.  Imagine the delight of the first cook to figure out this combo!  Whipping cream is the surprise ingredient.  This cake is tasty any hour of the day.  Be warned.  The simplicity of this cake is a false front for its twisted ability to increase consumption and waistlines.  It should be a labor to lift a bite.

A tie for #4


A perfect Devilishly Good Curried Egg

Rigorous testing and measurement yield two deviled egg avenues.  The basic recipe and the devilishly good curried egg.  Simple is good but curried may be better.  Peeling the egg is always a dreaded proposition but a part of the deal.  Remember the old wives' tale.  You never have deviled egg leftovers after a shindig.

#  4  WOO PIG SOOIE PIES    OCTOBER 26, 2014

Nice juicy eyeball, squish!

Pumpkin.  Cream cheese.  Ginger.  Fall.  The only words necessary.  Martha Stewart recipe.  Despite the labor involved, this recipe is in my limited fall lineup.  Too good to pass by.  Infact, fall just doesn't seem right without these little piggies.  They easily freeze for use on another day.  If you take them to a party, leave a few at home.  Otherwise, you will not get a bite.  My pig collection is keeping guard.

#  5
CHILI BY DISTRACTION                                          FEBRUARY 2, 2015

An interesting way to picture my delicious chili by distraction.  Cooking distracted is not advisable.  Sometimes it just happens.  This is a recipe for disaster but saved at the last moment.  Enjoyment was doubled the next day watching our annual snowfall.

#  6
          OCTOBER 23, 2013

Potatoes,  Cheddar.  Sour cream.  Favorite, favorite soup.  Did I mention bacon?  Curative powers and rave reviews.  Named for my favorite place in the world!

#  7
olEYEve cheese BALLS for a YUMMY                        HALLOWEEN  APP
                       OCTOBER 29, 2013

Olive cheese balls.  My very first appetizer and also the first time I watched THE BIRDS.  Very sophisticated for a ten year old.  These scream party!!!

#  8
OF  FEBLUEARY                        FEBRUARY 4, 2014

To warm the cockles of your heart.  My mother's spiced tea recipe.  Simple is sweet and deceptive.

#  9
          WITHOUT IT
         OCTOBER 3, 2013

An admitted lover of curry.  This is a recipe anyone will love.  The chutney is the touch of piquant perfection.  Recipe from Liza Ashley, Arkansas Governor's Mansion.  Another party time highlight!


November  23, 2013

My very first flight into cooking.  This is one item of perfection I enjoy.  The sizzle must not fizzle.


Another tie.  Why not?  It's about cornbread.  The perfect backside from a pan of cornbread.  Necessary item for delicious cornbread dressing.  Cornbread dressing is southern in all caps.  No matter where you hang your heart.  This recipe is a traditional centerpiece for any special meal.

I apologize for the crazy happening of my blog.  A very hungry gremlin made the column feature take over and I haven't figured it out, yet.  Obviously,  ha, I have hit something somewhere.  I can cook but barely compute.

Monday, September 7, 2015


The party is almost over.  The coffee for cake didn't drip.  The cake didn't flip out.  The bundt was rusty.  And looks aren't everything.

Another Labor Day will end without much hoopla or a hamburger or a lake outing.  A family reunion occurred for the sixty-second year on usually the hottest day of the year, so it seems.  Two hours to the south.  All because one family hitched up their wagons and moved all of their possessions, one step at a time.  To fertile fields.  Grass is greener.  My great-great grandmother was born days later.  Georgia to Arkansas.

I set out to bake a cake for the occasion of the reunion lunch.  When you haven't cooked in awhile you can't cook anymore.  For a bit of time.  Mixing olive oil and butter and onions and mushrooms with chicken and wine is easily tweaked.  A little salt and pepper.  This cooking gets raves but doesn't exact a toil.

Baking is unforgiving no matter how long you've been turning out perfect cornbread or Deep South Crescent Rolls.  Baking soda is not baking powder.  Hot water will kill the yeast.  Baking is an exact science for reasons I don't have to know as I am not a food editor or a meal production director with NASA.

But I love the results of baking.  Yeast bread.  Cookies. Cornbread. Cakes. Biscotti.  Cheesecake. Flour, sugar, butter and yeast are the essence of a well-lived life.

Long story short.  When the recipe calls for six eggs, add all six eggs.  Same goes for two teaspoons of vanilla.  Otherwise. you will have to jerk the cake out of the oven and add the vanilla to the batter which just went into the bundt pan and just now into the oven.  Courting disaster.
Too ugly to party
Overall, this Whipping Cream Pound Cake is delicious.  But how it ended up that way is beyond me.  I used cooking spray and flour on the nonstick surface.  But the bundt wouldn't budge.  I put it into the fridge for awhile and it finally came out onto the platter.  But it wasn't pretty and it didn't all arrive at the same time.

I went dessert free to the reunion.  I shared the cake with dinner company the night before and sent a good portion to Burt's parents.  The rest of the cake has languished in my cake carrier waiting for stolen nibbles and outrageous sliced chunks.  Too ugly to party but good enough to enjoy.

The inside of the cake pan wasn't rusted.  When the cake finally let go of the pan, I sat the pan in the sink to soften the chunks still attached.  And then company came for dinner and I forgot.  The lesson from this story is check the addition of all ingredients.  And don't forget the soaking bundt pan resting in your brand new stainless steel sink.

WHIPPING CREAM POUND CAKE      (Southern Living Recipe)

 1 c. butter
3 c. sugar
6 eggs
3 c. flour
1 c. whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar for 5 minutes.  Add eggs and blend well.  Alternately blend in flour and whipping cream.  Add vanilla.  Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan.  Bake @ 325 for 75 minutes.