Shirley McMurtrie

A Crack of Lightning

A few days ago I had just risen from my chair to go to the great room for a cup of coffee. I really stood up and took notice, stopping dead in my tracks. There came a sudden crack of lightning with a deafening roar of thunder. All at the same time. That was not only close, it had to be right on top of us. My immediate worry was if there was any damage.

Red Grape Pie

I have always liked red table grapes, but have previously looked in vain for a way to cook them. A few years ago our church group took a trip up to Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. While there, we had lunch at their tearoom. Grape Salad was on the menu. It was delicious and new to all of us. We asked for the recipe. The one they gave us didn't turn out at all like the tasty salad we had there. Don't you hate that? When someone gives you a recipe and its not quite like their dish.

Banana-Oatmeal Cookies

Hand drawen picture of bananas

I have been hungry for cookies lately. Today I broke down and made some. They were from an old cookbook I found somewhere or other. What a disappointment, I have many tried and true recipes that turn out just fine every time. Why, oh why, do I continue looking for new ones. Anne reminds me of that fact every time I have a cooking disaster.

The Tucker and the Edsel

Picture of an Edsel car.

I will give you a little history as to why I am so eager to try new things. It runs in the family. After the war in 1948, a new car was offered in America. It was the Tucker. Wow! That automobile had more bells and whistles than could be imagined. “The Tucker is the car of the future offered today,” they said. Dad wanted one. He could taste it, he wanted one so badly.

Let me tell you about the Tucker. The engine was a rear mounted H-6 (horizontaly opposed, ohv, 335 ci, 166 bhp and 372 lbs/ft torque), whatever that all means.

Shirley's Peanut Butter Fudge

Mother never made candy. During the Great Depression, we appreciated the occasional sugar or molasses cookies Mother did make. She always bought chocolate-covered fondant from Woolworth's Five and Dime, the only candy we had, except hard Christmas candy and one Hersey Bar. (That is another story.)

Mother worked in a candy factory as a teenager. She dipped chocolate-covered fondant drops. That remained mother's favorite candy throughout her life. I am not so prejudiced. I like lots of different candies. I think my favorite is Peanut Butter Fudge.

Old Timey Sayings

A couple of years ago, Bonnie Peters and I were talking about old timey sayings. Later, I sat down and compiled a bunch of them. Back in the day, before television and a movie costing an arm and a leg, we enjoyed sitting around seeing who could remember the most maxims. Most have a kernel of truth in them. See if you remember any of these:

Stuffed Celery

Now there is something you don't see on a salad bar anymore. I am talking about stuffed celery or celery roses. I remember when I first saw stuffed celery at a potluck. They certainly didn't look like much. But after trying one, I was hooked. I looked for them at every potluck after that. It took a while to learn how to make them. They seemed so simple. There must be a catch to making the filling. What a surprise. There wasn't. I soon learned to make several cheese fillings. See what you think of these. This is how I make stuffed celery.

Bean and Pasta Salad

There are a jillion bean and pasta salads out there. They are all a little different and good, too. This one is a bit different from the rest. The celery is partially cooked. The onion is marinated in white vinegar. All of that does make a difference. Try it and see what you think. You can use any combination of canned beans, even add green beans, if you like. Mix it up.

Pork and Rice Casserole

Years ago, we received a five-pound block of American cheese when we picked up what we called “welfare food.” It was so good. There is nothing to compare with it nowadays. I miss that cheese.

I have a recipe for those of you who receive food commodities. Sometimes you really have to reach to find a good tasting recipe for those items that you are not familiar with. We grow up eating certain dishes. Our mothers made them as did our grandmas. It can be hard to learn to like something new, but give it a try.

Lemon Meringue Dessert

Here is a variation on a lemon meringue pie I hope you will try. So, you have problems with pie crust? This crust can't go wrong. Just stir up the ingredients and press into the bottom of the pan. Cook the filling and top the crust with it. Spread with meringue and pop it in the oven. There you have it. A nice easy version of a lemon meringue pie. Also, you can get up to 15 servings out of the pan.


Golden Banana Cake

Do you like bananas? I do and so does my daughter Anne. Since she does our grocery shopping nowadays, she has a method of choosing which bananas to buy. We have a friend from the Philippines who taught us how to select the best banana. She looks for bananas with thick fat ends, not pointy ones. She is right. There is more banana hiding behind the peel. She says they have a better flavor, too.

Almost - Shoney Cabbage Soup

My mother could put together a soup even when there didn't seem to be enough food in the house to make a meal. I grew up on soup, especially in the winter time. With a little meat to season it and the vegetables we had on hand, she could make a hearty soup for not much money. Cornbread goes well with most soups and goes well with this one.

The Trip Back Home and Beyond

We spent the night at that hilltop motel on U. S. 44 near St. Louis, Missouri. The next day my car was delivered back to the motel. They said the carburetor was packed with fibers. They didn't know where they came from. Removed, the car was ready for the trip back home. Since the car was still under warranty, there was no charge.

Hot Fudge Sauce

When I was in charge of my household, when I could get around better, when I was still driving, I tried to keep a well stocked pantry. It was too well stocked according to my daughter, Anne. I didn't shop every week. Once a month was more like it, when I got my Social Security check at the first of the month. Oh, yes we would run out of bread and milk, but that was about it.

Trip to Missouri

The year was 1981. My nephew, Chris Bouldry, had been attending Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. He came home for the Christmas holidays and decided not to return to school. That left one problem. He needed to retrieve his possessions from his room there. The second problem was how to make the trip. He didn't have a car or any money.

Fettuccine Alfredo

The Olive Garden is our favorite restaurant. A few years ago we celebrated my eighty-ninth and half birthday in July. (When you approach ninety, every day is a luxury.) We had an Alfredo dish. My daughter Anne had chicken and I had shrimp. We decided we could make a recipe at home that tasted just as good.