Today is Sunday. Thursday is Thanksgiving. Yep, we’re on a marathon dash toward the great family feast. The matriarch of the family always hosts this grand dinner where I come from. When I was a child, we ate at two groaning tables, since both Mom and Dad had parents living in town. Later on, The dinner duties passed to our home as the older generation went to their eternal home.

I can remember Mother often underestimated the size of the turkey, or she was chasing us kids around in a vain attempt to organize our school, sport, hobby, and social lives. It never happened, since we all had too many activities and interests for all our ducks to ever get in a row. Adding a turkey to the row was most likely a lost cause. Most Wednesday mornings would find her flooding the still crystallized turkey with cold water in a freshly cleaned sink.

This water bath would go on until we went to school. I never knew what she did with it while I was away from home. I guess that belongs to the secret wisdom now lost to the Mysteries of the Past. I do know when I was a young wife, I used to call her every November to ask, “How do you cook the turkey in the paper sack again?”

Every year she would reply, “You ninny, I never cook the turkey in a paper bag! That’s toxic!” I’m certain I have the memory of her rubbing the bird down with oil, wrestling it into a giant grocery sack, and tying the opening with string. “You don’t? Well, how do I cook it again?” Yes, I did own a cookbook, but I’d rather talk to my Mother. Having the turkey cooked the traditional way, as my family always has cooked it, was important, especially if we weren’t together.

Today, as our generations are more separated, as takeout and convenience foods become more common, and as industrial and processed foods are more predominant in family food plans, many people may choose to eat out for Thanksgiving. For those who don’t have an older or more experienced cook in the family to call for help, be glad for those of us who have a calling to pass on this “secret, gnostic knowledge, known only to a few.”

If your frozen turkey is the average 15 pound bird, it should go into the refrigerator today. I used an online calculator to determine how long to defrost safely in the ice box. It takes 3 days and 18 hours.

Don’t defrost on the kitchen counter due to salmonella poisoning danger, since the outside will be warmer than the frozen interior. Likewise, trying to rush it under water won’t work, since the inside won’t get completely defrosted. Then it won’t fully cook, or the outer bird will get over cooked and dry.

The cross stitch above is perfect for Thanksgiving week. If you go to Facebook and look for my Cornie’s Kitchen Page, I have a Post for a list of things to do for Thanksgiving. After the rush is over, you can have your nervous breakdown, if you think you still deserve it. Or you might be so organized, you sail through it. My advice is to do half of what you think is important. Most people think the people and the togetherness make the best memories, not the baking, the cleaning, the polishing, or the froo-frooing. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and save room for pie!

Love, Cornie

Posted in Comfort food, deserts, family, Food, Generations, Holidays, menu, processed foods, Relationships, sharing, Southern Culture, thanksgiving, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Working Like Ben-Hur

Good Monday Morning! Time for another cup of coffee—let’s take on this week like Ben-Hur overcame all all odds! We can do this!

I’m to be in many places this week so I’ve only got two days to do my “real callings” or what the employed world calls “work.”

We can work, but not get remuneration. This is the case for many homemakers. People who lose their spouses suddenly discover how expensive it is to hire someone to provide those domestic duties. I sold a pile of life insurance on non working spouses just by giving the facts.

Those who fix up the homes in which they live, or do their own yard work, also aren’t paid, but they aren’t spending money to hire others either. I’ve always hired the yard work, and done my housework, since I figure I can do one or the other, but not both. I’d rather not sweat, and I’m willing to pay someone to do that for me!

I’ve always considered my creative endeavors my real work, and whatever I did to put food on my table and a roof over my head was just a means to an end. Likewise in my ministry days, my real work was to preach, teach, love, and touch the Body of Christ wherever I found it. The other tasks of the elder appointed to the charge or church were secondary. I often had to set priorities to do the work of Christ first and the work of the church second.

On a Monday morning, think about Ben-Hur: how did he survive his captivity? It was longer than a Monday for sure. He trusted God. We can do this too. Get your priorities straight.

Prayer for Lifelong Protection and Help

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;

let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;

incline your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock of refuge,

a strong fortress, to save me,

for you are my rock and my fortress.

~~Psalms 71:1-3

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Today the early morning light came flooding into my condo, spotlighting my homage to National Oatmeal Day. I made old fashioned oatmeal on the stove, with cocoa, protein powder, instant milk, sliced almonds, and blueberries. I rarely eat this comfort food anymore due to the high carbohydrate content and the shock to my pancreas. I have insulin resistance, so 78 grams of carbs in one meal is a splurge.

Recommended carbohydrate allowances for a meal are usually 30 grams at a sitting for most people, but others may have more stringent requirements.

Why do we not want to eat our daily carb allotment all in one sitting? Ask yourself, would you want to do 12 hours of work in 3 hours, or would you like to have it come to you more slowly and on an even pace?

If your pancreas could speak, it would scream, “Don’t Be Stuffing an entire day’s worth of food down your gullet and expect me to handle it well! Something’s gonna give!”

A wise person plans their food for the day: breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a morning and evening snack. If we had 30 grams of carbs at each meal and 15 carbs at each of the two snacks, we’d have a total day of 120 carbohydrate grams. We still have 30 grams to play with during the day or forget them.

Learn to read the nutrition information on the foods you buy. You can google these for fruits and veggies. Once you get practiced in this task, it’ll be second nature. Don’t worry if you don’t hit the number you aim for each day. The point is to be mindful about our eating and to make better choices.

This also prepares us for the stresses of holiday eating. If we acquire new, mindful habits now, we’ll not feel so sick and overwhelmed come a month from now when the rest of America enters the overstuffed holiday eating contest.

Posted in Comfort food, emotional eating, Food, Holidays, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, Nutrition guide, Prediabetes, thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

National Pumpkin Pie Day Extravaganza!

Today I’m eating homemade pumpkin pie, made completely from scratch. I’m also recuperating from a heart catheterization, which I had at some zero dark thirty hour yesterday. Since I was instructed to “take it easy,” I thought a little pie extravaganza was in order. If I can’t go Wild in real life, at least I can have some Fun in the kitchen.

First I made the pie crust with whole wheat flour and real butter. This was the first recipe to call for ice water to bind up the dough. I put the rolled out crust in the refrigerator while I made the filling also. Keeping it cool made a difference. It was quite flaky, and not a bit soggy.

I took a cheesecake recipe and melded it with a pumpkin pie recipe because I had extra ricotta I needed to use up before it went bad. Although the container said it was good until January 13, 2018, I didn’t trust this, since it’d been open in my refrigerator for two weeks already. For the pie, I used 4 servings of pumpkin (85 grams each), 4 servings of ricotta (62 grams each), 2 large eggs, 1 1/2 Tbs vanilla, 1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice, 3 Tbs Splenda, and whatever spices were on the leftover pumpkin.

As I was making the filling, I preheated the oven to 425 F.

I used the skin and all, making sure to chop the whole fine, mixing the ricotta well, and then beating the eggs into the whole. Then I added the spice and Splenda and mixed again, before pouring into the chilled pie shell. Once I smoothed over the filling, I weighed out 8 servings of Nestle’s chocolate morsels (112 grams) to spread over the top of the pie.

Then I placed the pie into the 425 F oven, and turned it down to 350 F. It cooked for 40 minutes, at which time a toothpick inserted into the Middle came out clean. I set it on a cooling rack for about ten minutes to setup and finish cooking as it cooled.Then I cut it into 8 equal pieces.

You could also make this with baked sweet potatoes, acorn squash, or canned pumpkin. If you didn’t have mild tasting ricotta cheese, you could use cottage cheese and adjust your spices. You could also blend the ingredients a tad more to get the texture smoother too.

Some of you might rather melt your chocolate topping and drizzle it in a design, but I like biting into the chunks of chocolate myself. To each his own. It’s your kitchen. You go for it! I like the contrasts of tastes. For instance, the pastry uses coarse sea salt, so every once in a while, a salty surprise explodes in your mouth unexpectedly. It’s like finding the baby Jesus in a Mardi Gras King Cake.

This is the joy of home cooking, and our loss when we depend on industrialized and mass processed foods. Even if we can’t cook from scratch daily, this is a skill we should acquire so we can appreciate the craft of those who cook for us and produce our food.

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Go Big or Go Home


I meet the best people. 

I always meet the most interesting people in my local Kroger, especially on senior discount day. My younger friends say, “Never go on senior day–there’s too many old people! You’ll never get out of there and they drive down the center of the aisles.”

I just laugh. I live in a tourist and retirement community, so I’m used to folks with strange driving habits. No one here knows where they’re going, or they might be under the influence, since they’re away to play. Driving defensively is always a good choice in our neck of the woods. Besides, some of these older people are lonely, have difficulty making decisions, or just need human interaction. I consider my grocery day an opportunity to raise the general good mood of my community. After all, we have enough people across the globe who rattle sabers and stir up the dystopian pots boiling on the back of our communal cook stoves to make us want to shoo those cooks out of our collective kitchens as soon as possible, but I digress.

I was out getting some new grub, since I’d been laid up with bronchitis. I was feeling better due to antibiotics and rest. I kept bumping to this wonderfully dressed older gentleman as we passed each other up and down the canned food, coffee, and snack aisles. Finally I had to get his photo and find out more about him. Of course, in the great southern tit for tat, I shared my story too. He’s a grandfather from New York down to visit the children and grands. I like his style, for sure, and he’s used to posing for artists in his colorful fashion. I noticed him right away, since he didn’t dress like anyone from around here.

When we try to eat better as a way to improve our health, to lose weight, to lower our blood sugar or blood pressure, or just to put some discipline into our otherwise chaotic lives, we have to ask, “What does eating better look like?” We know it doesn’t like what has been “usual and customary for our neighborhood,” so we have to look for something “out of the ordinary.”

Food companies make health claims all day long some of which sound good, but are just blather. A bread marked 100% WHEAT isn’t the same as 100% WHOLE WHEAT. Also a 100% GRAIN BREAD may not have many WHOLE GRAINS in it! It just has many different ground up or milled grains in the recipe. To be a whole grain, the entire kernel has to be included. For instance, white rice is what results when the brown outer covering of the grain gets removed. This is why brown rice has more fiber and fills you up longer. You also get a larger portion size to eat. I personally go for larger portion sizes! Always go big or go home! It’s a RULE!

Another health claim is fiber. Yes we all want more fiber, because regular people are happy people. This is why I can shop on senior day and laugh. One way to get your fiber is with whole grains. The other way is with cellulose or sawdust. Yes, the FDA does let a certain amount of finely pulverized and sterilized sawdust into certain foods to keep them from caking and clumping (Parmesan cheese) and to add fiber. If you shop on a slow poke day, you have time to go with the flow and you can read the ingredients. If you’re in a hurry, use the “square inches of coverage” test: fewer words means fewer ingredients and less processing usually. Many words covering a vast space means you should leave this item on the shelf. If you can’t read the print within a magnifying glass, step away from the box! Run!

I found two 100% whole wheat tortilla brands, but one had cellulose in it. The one I took home was Mission 100% Whole Wheat Tortillas because I always ate that brand when I lived in Texas. It began in Mexico and has been around since 1949. It’s authentic. We don’t mess with a good thing in Texas, and we like our Pace piquante sauce too, because it’s still Texas made, according to a 1947 recipe.

Of course, at Cornie’s Kitchen, I go for the HOT sauce. If you’re going to have a taco or a tortilla, you should always “GO BIG OR GO HOME!” Plus, a little goes a long way and really clears out your sinuses. This is also a really good wake up greeting on scrambled eggs in the morning or on chicken/beef tacos at night

Even this heritage brand had “cellulose gum” in it, since it prevents caking and clumping, binds water, improves texture, thickens, emulsifies, and is used as a filler. Grated cheese, breads, diet foods, frozen dinners, sauces, salad dressings often include cellulose.

Cellulose is a safe and inexpensive carbohydrate that comprises the woody parts and cell walls of plants. It is a type of dietary fiber found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and cereals. The cellulose added to processed foods usu­ally comes from wood pulp (saw dust) or cotton lint. It’s also a cheap way to boost the fiber content on food labels, but it isn’t as healthful as fiber that comes from natural foods, such as chicory.

Whole Wheat Tortilla Recipe:

This is delicious, healthy and an easy alternative to store bought tortillas. While they keep well in a zipper bag, in the refrigerator, making them in small batches fresh for a quick breakfast or lunch wrap is very easy.

Number of Servings: 6 large or 12 small


1.5 Cups whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp. shortening

1/2 Cup warm water

1/4 Tsp. salt

1 Tsp. Baking powder


Combine dry ingredients. Cut in shortening either with a pastry blender, a fork, or knife, or crumble by hand. Add water slowly, to form a non-sticky dough. Amount of water needed may vary due to humidity, etc so start slowly. Dough should be able to be handled without sticking to the hands. Knead just enough to combine and form a smooth dough. Break off 12 equal size portions and roll into balls. Cover and let rest at least 10 minutes.

After dough has rested, roll out into circles, approximately 8 inches. Dough should be fairly thin. You can make less tortillas and make them larger if you like. Heat griddle or cast iron pan to medium high heat. Put tortilla into pan and allow to cook until light brown specks appear. Flip tortilla and cook the other side the same way. It’s ok if bubbles appear, as these will go down when the tortilla cools. Repeat with remaining tortillas.


Chicken Mushroom Tortillas

Carbohydrates             Protein                    Fat

Mission tortillas 2–         28 g                           6 g                  4 g

Chicken–4 oz                                                  26 g                 3 g

Mushrooms–1 cup            3 g                         2 g

Spinach 1 1/2 oz–              1.5g                        1 g

Cheddar cheese 1 oz–                                      7 g                 9.4 g

Sour cream 1 Tbs–                                         .5 g                  2.5 g

This was a very satisfying lunch because of the whole grains, protein, fiber, and the addition of some fat. I try to keep my carbohydrates at around 30 to 40 grams per meal. I just feel better, even if I don’t lose much weight quickly. I eat the whole food, not the low fat versions, since these usually are more salty and over processed than the originals. I figure it’s better to have less of something great, than more of something terrible (this opposite is the corollary of go big or go home!).

Next time you go shopping for the family groceries, check out the interesting characters in your local store. They might be the stocker, the greeter, or someone just visiting in town. You never know what bridge you might build, or whose day you might make.

For a discussion on the difference between whole wheat and whole grain, this is a good link:


The Chemical dictionary: cellulose


Posted in coffee, family, Food, Generations, high blood pressure, Hot Springs, Arkansas, Nutrition guide, Relationships, retirement, sharing, Southern Culture, Travel, vacation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gourmet Trail Mix

Happy first day of Fall! I’m spending my day doing light duty around the condo, which means I’m not out enjoying the tempering breezes and the first colors changing in our surrounding forests here in the Lower Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Some say the early colors are the result of heat stress or wet summers. The lack of sunlight is the reason for leaves not making the chlorophyll or green color, so the other colors in the leaves begin to show through. Actually, any stress will make the trees change early! Stress certainly makes me change, but not usually for the best. Color seems to be running about a week early across the country in most places I checked.

I found a handy interactive USA map for 2017 Leaf Color. You can move the date line and watch the colors change across the country. Very fancy these internet gurus!


While you entertain your family and plan your road trip, you might want to whip up a gourmet mix of pistachios, macadamia nuts, and deluxe unsalted mixed nuts for a healthy snack. This takes at most 5 minutes to prepare and a couple more minutes to store in airtight canisters or mason jars.


1 cup Wonderful pistachios (preshelled)

4 oz Planters Unsalted Premium Blend

160 grams Raisins

1 cup sahale tangerine macadamia nuts

4 tbsp Chocolate, Nestle Real Semi-Sweet chocolate chips

Mix by hand in oversized bowl. Put into large mouthed mason glass canning jars or air tight BPA free storage containers for your cabinets. Store away from heat, moisture, and sunlight.

Tips: You can vary the mix by adding different dried fruits to this trail mix.

Directions: Merely measure on a scale, mix in a bowl, and store in an airtight jar. Enjoy.

Serving Size: Makes 20 one ounce or 1/4 cup servings

Nutritional Info per serving:

• Calories: 133.9

• Total Fat: 8.4 g

• Cholesterol: 0.0 mg

• Sodium: 52.9 mg

• Total Carbs: 14.1 g

• Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g

• Protein: 2.8 g


• Vitamin A 0.4 %

• Vitamin B-12 0.0 %

• Vitamin B-6 5.0 %

• Vitamin C 0.4 %

• Vitamin D 0.0 %

• Vitamin E 2.3 %

• Calcium 2.0 %

• Copper 10.3 %

• Folate 0.1 %

• Iron 3.7 %

• Magnesium 6.7 %

• Manganese 11.3 %

• Niacin 0.3 %

• Pantothenic Acid 0.0 %

• Phosphorus 5.8 %

• Riboflavin 0.4 %

• Selenium 0.1 %

• Thiamin 3.8 %

• Zinc 0.1 %

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Buy what’s ripe for the best value

“This is why tomatoes don’t taste all that great in January.”

AND they cost a small fortune! Have you ever noticed this?

Seasonal crops will taste better when they come from nearby and they’ll usually cost less due to lower transportation costs.

Right now, corn is still in season and very good. So are our local Arkansas tomatoes. I imagine many of my Kitchen peeps from other southern areas still have local produce in their farmers markets and grocery stores. Further north, September will mark the end of local produce, most likely, except for winter veggies.

Brussels sprouts are an autumn vegetable. While we can get them year round in our big box stores, they are best in season. They always show up around Thanksgiving in the upscale neighborhood grocery store in my town in their native form: on the stalk! Just like a tree! Exactly! I’d never in my whole life seen anything like it. Perhaps I was deprived as a child, an adult, and now into my deep geezerness, I’ve finally arrived.

This sprout tree makes a beautiful presentation for a family dinner, either for Thanksgiving or any other special occasion. You roast it in the oven, having brushed it with a bit of olive oil and dusted it with appropriate spices. Any internet recipe would give you an idea, but I like rosemary garlic spice mix.

To cook ordinary Brussels sprouts, most people make the mistake of boiling them, but boiling in water raises their temperature too high and tosses off the obnoxious odors. Ugh! Can’t have that!

I have always microwaved the Brussels sprouts so they would be sweet. This solves the overcooking problem. Then I was cooking a single slice of bacon in a heavy skillet as I finished off the baked chicken in the oven. I put thin sliced summer squash with parsley, rosemary and garlic into that pan to heat and tenderize al dente. When the sprouts were done, I tossed them in just to get the spices on them too.

The corn gets butter, salt and pepper. Fresh corn doesn’t need anything else. It too doesn’t need to be boiled to death. Microwave it inside its own husk. This is “steaming” and doesn’t heat up your house or use up costly energy.

I’m looking forward to acorn squash and pumpkin soup. New recipes when the weather cools off!

Posted in christmas, family, Food, garden, Holidays, Hot Springs, Arkansas, menu, Recipe, Southern Culture, thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment