Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake Fresh Corn Cakes Ray & Marlene’s Peanut Brittle Howdy, Howdy, Howdy! "Summertime, and the livin’s easy," or at least that’s how the old song goes. When you get right down to it, life is anything but a song. It’s pure, old hard work and usually on a daily basis! I’m reminded of that fact every time I try to do something around the place here. Lately I’ve been experiencing what I call "building dominoes." You remember as a kid how you would stand dominoes on end, in a row, and when you tipped the first one over, they all went. Well, I have an old chicken house/storage shed that I started to replace the roofing on a couple weeks ago, only to find the old boards on the roof were rotten and full of termites so off they came. Don’t you know that most of the rafters were in the same shape too so off they came. Also two walls were totally eaten up as well, so down they came too! When all was said and done, I was down to the foundation and when I pulled the last wall down it fell over too! Ah, the joys of owning a Calaveras County place that was built about 85 years ago! I’m here to tell you that the "Domino effect" is alive and well here on Bluegrass Acres! So, here’s another project that’s gonna take up a month or more of my summer that I wasn’t planning on! You know how to make God laugh? Just tell him your plans. There’s one positive thing to come out of all of this though. I’m going to have plenty of kindling wood to last me all winter! Along about December, when its cold as a wedge outside, and I’ve got a fire going in my ship stove and it’s 85º in there, then I’ll be thankful for a wood shed full of wood and kindling! Well folks, summer is here in full force and what better way to enjoy it than with some of our favorite summer recipes! This month’s column is going to feature recipes that have been featured before. Two by requests from long-time readers of the ol’ "Bluegrass Kitchen", and one as a tribute to my good friend, the late Ray Park. So come on over under the big Oak tree where I’ve got my summer kitchen set up and where it’s nice and shady and cool. Help yourself to a big tall glass of iced tea and we’ll palaver over the fixin’s of some summer vittles! The first recipes are two of the most popular ones that I’ve ever featured here. Seems like every two or three years, some of the folks will call or write, requesting me to run them again. I’ve had at least a half a dozen such requests for each one, so folks, I’m more than happy to oblige you. Let’s start off with one of my favorites of all time; Strawberry Shortcake! Every time I fix this, all I have to do is close my eyes with that first bite, and I’m a thirteen-year-old boy again with an appetite the size of Texas! I can see my mom cleaning the strawberries and whipping the cream, while the shortcake baked in the oven! Such wonderful memories. I hope you all have them too. Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake 4 eggs 1-cup sugar 3/4-cup flour 1/4 tsp. Salt 1-quart strawberries 1 pint whipping cream 1 tbsp pure vanilla 1-cup sugar Grated rind of one lemon Clean the berries and cut into halves or quarters. Mix a cup of sugar with them, cover and place in the refrigerator. Beat the eggs; add 1 cup sugar, mix well, add salt, four and grated lemon rind. Mix well. Pour into two cake pans that have been greased and floured. Bake 20 minutes at 350º (or until browned and done in the middle). Remove from oven and let cool for 20-30 minutes. Remove the cakes from pans. Whip the cream. When almost done, add vanilla and a tablespoon or two of sugar if you like the cream sweet. When ready to serve, top one cake with berries and cream. Add the next cake on top and cover with berries and cream also. A real old fashioned Southern treat! I first ran this recipe in my column back in October of 1991, and this is the third request for it since. I’m glad you folks enjoy it. The first time I ran this next recipe was in September of 1993 and this is the third request for it also. You’ll get rave reviews on this one when you fix it for family and friends. Just thinking of this dish almost gives me a terminal case of the slobbers! Fresh Corn Cakes 3 ears of corn (or one 10-oz package of frozen corn) 1 egg, beaten 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper 1/3-cup milk 1 1/2 tsp. Baking powder 1 1/2 tsp. Sugar 2 tbsp. Melted butter 3 tbsp. Corn meal 1/3-cup flour 1/2 tsp. Ground cinnamon Jalapeno jelly Cut the corn from the cob. Beat the egg; add milk and mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well in a large bowl. Cook on a medium-hot griddle. Spoon 4" cakes onto the griddle and shape with a large spoon. Brown nicely on both sides. Serve with butter and Jalapeno jelly. Wow! I’m gonna whip some of these up for supper tonight! They’re also great for breakfast along with some poached eggs and gravy! On February 24, 1996 my old buddy Ray Park gave me a call and during the course of our conversation he told me of his recipe for making Peanut Brittle candy. He asked if I would share it with you folks here in this column. So, I told him to send it to me, which he did. I finally got around to fixing a batch of it in December of 1999. Ray said this made the "best damn peanut brittle you’ll ever eat" and boy was he right! So, without further ado, I featured it here in January of 1999. Now most folks just knew Ray as a musician and singer. But seeing as how I first met Ray back around 1948 or so, I knew more about Ray than just his marvelous ability to play almost any musical instrument he wanted to and to sing a good country or Bluegrass song! Ray was also a pretty good cook and raised a garden and canned his own vegetables and tomatoes for many years. (As our mutual friend Vern Williams always said: "Ray cans a mean tomato!") It was my good fortune to be able to play music with Ray on many occasions as well. He was a dear friend and I will miss him for the remainder of my days here on earth. I know that I am a better man for knowing him and that the music he left us will make the world a better place to live in. Here’s Ray’s candy recipe to help make our lives a little sweeter too! Ray & Marlene’s Peanut Brittle 1 cup raw Peanuts, shelled 1 cup Sugar 1/4 tsp. Salt 1/2 cup White Karo syrup 1 tbsp. Butter 1 tsp. Vanilla 1 1/2 tsp. Baking soda In a three-quart casserole, combine sugar, Karo and salt. Stir in the nuts. Microwave on high for 9 minutes. Working fast (before it sets up), stir in butter, soda and vanilla. Mix well and turn out on a non-stick cookie sheet. Spread thin and let cool. Best damn Peanut Brittle you’ll ever have! Ray Park, February 24, 1996. Here’s to you old pard. I’ll see you at the big round up. Well folks, that’s it for this month’s edition of the Bluegrass Kitchen. Meet me here next month in my summer kitchen under the ol’ Oak tree and we’ll share some more vittle fixin’ stories. Remember to keep all of our service men and women in your prayers. May God Bless America and may He grant you all peace and health. Yer friend, J.D. Rhynes

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