Bert & Ben’s Sweet & Sour Green Beans

By far, one of the best, and most favorite, gifts I have ever received is my Aunt Bee’s Mayberry Cookbook.  I’ve found some really delicious recipes here and the book is loaded with pictures and funny stories/scenes from my all-time favorite show.


We are gearing up for softball season now, so that means we will have quite a few nights where I need to find a quick and easy solution for supper.  Menu planning at my house is at least an hour and a half job.  I love to cook and I don’t like eating the same things every week, so I put a lot of thought into each meal and try to keep a lot of variety. I try to keep us in 80/20 range on the healthy vs. not so healthy meal range.  You know, 80% clean meals, to keep us all healthy and 20% good ol’ stuff we love to keep us content.  Southern Fried Fitness is a great blog that posts recipes for each of those categories.

Making an appearance on the menu this week will be BLT’s with my favorite Mac & Cheese recipe from another beloved book, Autumn From The Heart Of The Home by Susan Branch.  And from the Mayberry Cookbook, I’ll be trying out Bert & Ben’s Sweet & Sour Green Beans.  Sounds yummy, hope it turns out that way.  I usually just make P-Dub’s green beans because they are so delicious and a huge hit around here, but I also want to try new stuff as much as possible.

So, this is what Bert & Ben’s Sweet and Sour Green Beans looks like:

2 cans green beans (I’ll be using fresh)
4 strips bacon (we like Simple Truth brand)
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt (I’ll be using kosher)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 T. sugar (will probably use Stevia even though this is technically a “20% meal”)
1/2 C. cider Vinegar
2 T. flour (all I have is whole wheat)*Original recipe calls for the liquid from one can of green beans, I will just use chicken broth in place of that.

Fry bacon til crisp, reserve drippings.  Crumble bacon.
Saute onion in bacon drippings. Grease.  It’s bacon grease.  Calling it drippings doesn’t change what it is!  But that’s what the recipe says, so that’s what I’m calling it too. :)Stir in liquid, flour, salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar.  Bring to boil.
Add green beans and bacon.
Heat until warmed through.  (I will cover the skillet and let them cook a while since I’m using fresh instead of canned.)

And here’s the yummy Mac & cheese recipe from Susan Branch’s Autumn book.

Product Details

10 oz. elbow macaroni (I’m using whole grain rotini because that’s what I have in my pantry)
2 eggs
1 T. dry mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 C. half & half
1 lb. sharp cheddar, grated

Preheat oven to 375.  Cook and drain macaroni.
In large bowl, lightly beat eggs, salt, pepper and mustard.
Stir in half & half, then cheese, then macaroni.
Pour into buttered 2 qt. casserole. Bake 25 min.
Put under broiler 1 min to brown and crisp the top.

Windy….what a difference between yesterday and today.  We had sunshine & close to 70 degrees yesterday.  Today is rainy, dark, cold and the wind is wild!  A couple of months ago we had this crazy winter storm with super high winds.  One of the girls had forgotten to close the screen door all the way and in the middle of the night we heard this huge BANG!  It was the screen door hitting the house.  Now that door is all jacked up so that when the wind starts blowing hard, it gets in between the door and the frame and makes a perfectly creepy sound, which I am loving today.

They say winter isn’t over yet and I know this is true, but these 50 and 60-degree days that are sneaking in here and there mean that Spring isn’t too far away. Yes!

So, I’m thinking that today is a perfect kind of day for some Creamy Chicken Soup for supper tonight.

I’ll get that started here in a bit, get my weights in for the day, then tackle the mountain of laundry and maybe even read a few chapters in my current book over a cup of coffee with the wind howling in the background.  Sounds like a great day to me!

Okay….so as I was typing this the rain has turned to huge snowflakes….madness, I tell you!

Homemade Produce Wash

Chinese scientists report that eating apples extended the lifespan of ...


I ran out of my fruit & veggie wash today and was surprised to find that I hadn’t posted it here….what a slacker, I am.

I decided a while back that we were going to go organic completely whenever possible.  Yes, it is more expensive but the bottom line for me is this:  If I’m going to splurge on something, shouldn’t this be the area?  I mean, it’s the food we are eating every day.  Anyway, I shop at Kroger and they have a nice selection of organics, probably the best among the local grocery stores.  I can’t get everything, but I can get pretty darn close.  When I can’t get organics, I especially want to get all that crud off of my fruits and veggies, so I give them a good dousing with my spray, swish ‘em around, and even scrub them when possible.

I bought grapes the other day.  (Not organic because Kroger didn’t have them.)  I rinsed them with water, which basically does nothing.  Have you ever really looked at a grape?  They’re covered with a white powdery film.   I took one and just wiped it real good with a towel and you should have seen how shiny it was after I did that!

I think this wash does a pretty good job and definitely better than  just rinsing with water.  And way cheaper than the kind you can buy.  I’m sorry, I can’t remember where I got this recipe….I’ve been making it for years and I’ve been away from the blogging world for a while, but if I can come up with it, I’ll be sure to post a link.

Here’s the recipe:

Produce Wash

1 C. water
1 C. white vinegar
1 T. baking soda
1/2 lemon, juiced

Pour all into a large bowl or container (to allow for the chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda).  Pour into a spray bottle, using a funnel.  Spray fruit and rinse well.  Use a scrub brush for firmer produce.

Cardio/Abs in about 40 minutes – yes, let’s kill 2 birds with one stone!

This evening I will be taking my daughters and one of their friends out to run sprints, then back home for an ab workout.  A strong core is the foundation for the rest of the body and it’s really important to establish a solid foundation.  Everything stems from the core, though I’d say it’s an area that a lot of people overlook.  Trying to strengthen other areas of the body without having a strong core often leads to injuries.

So, I will set an interval time for 5 minutes warmup (brisk walking), followed by 8 rounds of 20 seconds work (sprinting as hard as we can) with 10 seconds rest (walking) and then ending with a 5 minute cool down walk.

After that, we’ll come home and do the following ab circuit 3 times:

1 minute crunches
1 minute reverse crunches
30 seconds plank
30 seconds high plank bringing knee up to elbow and alternating left and right

After that we will die on the floor for about 5 minutes then stretch stretch stretch – feels good for those sore muscles!! :)

There I will have my cardio for the week done along with strength training for my abs.  All in under an hour, which rocks because working longer than an hour causes cortisol levels in the body to rise, which can burn your muscle tissue for energy….which totally sucks, we don’t want to undo what we are trying to do!!  So always work hard and push yourself, but keep those workouts to an hour or less.

Homemade Caesar Dressing + One More

This post is for a couple of my FB buddies who were asking about those homemade dressings.  Without a doubt, every single time I’ve gone to the trouble to make homemade salad dressing, it has been received to rave reviews.  Yes, it does take a little bit of time.  And no, it won’t stay good in your fridge for months on end like the store bought kind does.  But if you think about it, why would we want to consume something that has such a long shelf life?

There have been times when I’ve taken this to the extreme, making everything myself from bread, buns, tortillas, pitas, sauces, ketchup, jellies & jams, etc.  When my girls were little I had a lot more time for this.  However, we don’t eat even remotely close now to how we did back then.  The bulk of our diet now is made up of lean meats, loads of fruits and veggies and brown rice….and bread occasionally makes an appearance at our dinner table, but not often anymore.

Now that I’m done with school and I’ve got a very small (by design) training business going, we’ve settled into a bit of a more normal schedule and I’m finding more time to get back to doing these things.  Yesterday, I made a delicious salad for supper and we enjoyed it with this homemade Caesar dressing that I found over at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.  I love her site.  I use it often for recipes and have never been disappointed.  She makes a lot of things herself vs. buying them at the store and I really like that.

You can pretty much find a homemade recipe for any dressing or sauce out there.  You can find my favorite BBQ sauce recipe here.

Today I will be making up a homemade batch of mayo to be used later in the week for potato salad.  So, I’m going to share that recipe today.  Homemade mayo is the bomb and nothing at all like what you get in the store.  I think once you try it, you’ll be hooked.  We don’t use it a lot, so I don’t mind making up a batch now and then.

Okay, so first the Caesar Dressing.  This stuff is so good.  My picky little Nanner Head will even eat it, which is really saying something.  I made up enough for us to all have some with our salad last night, Brian has some to take to work for his lunch and I have enough for my lunch today too, that will finish it off.  It literally takes 10 minutes to make.  I use my immersion blender and just mix it all up right in my handy dandy Ball plastic jars so I can put it right in the fridge.

Homemade Caesar Dressing (from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

1/4 C. mayo (I use homemade)
1/4 freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 T. fresh lemon juice (one large lemon, juiced)
1 T. Worcestershire Sauce
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic
1/4 C. olive oil

Just put all into a mixer or you can put in a jar like I do and mix with an immersion blender.  Super easy!

And now for the mayo recipe.  My Mamaw makes the BEST potato salad and I have mastered that recipe.  The girls and Brian actually squeal with joy when I make her potato salad, and especially when I use the homemade mayo.  It’s so creamy and flavorful…and I say that even though I’m not a huge mayo fan.  But this stuff is GOOD.  It takes a bit more time than the Caesar, but if like me, you don’t use it often, it’s definitely worth the effort.

Homemade Mayo (from What’s Cooking America)

2 egg yolks, room temperature*
1 whole egg, room temperature*
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice, plus more if needed**
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
Big pinch freshly-ground white pepper
Up to 2 cups olive oil

*** For best results, the fresher the egg the better since you are using raw eggs in this recipe.  If you plan to refrigerate your mayonnaise, then choose a refined oil such as pure olive oil or sunflower oil. An unrefined oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, will solidify when chilled and cause separation later as it returns to room temperature.


Put the egg yolks, egg white, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and white pepper in the work bowl of the food processor or blender; process for 10 seconds or more, until creamy.

With the food processor or blender running continuously, pour in the oil very slowly in driblets at first, to start the emulsion process. Add 10 to 15% of the oil at this time. The first addition should be small and gradual. Wait about 30 second between additions.

When the sauce has definitely thickened, you may add the oil in a thin stream. Do not stop the machine at this point, but cease pouring every few seconds to be sure the oil is being absorbed. Add about 50% of the oil at this time.

Then continue until the remaining 1 1/2 cups of oil are incorporated. You may not need to use all the remaining oil at this time.

Stop the machine and check the mayonnaise for taste and consistency. Adjust the seasonings and, if the mayonnaise is very thick, process in additional drops of lemon juice or warm water to thin. The mayonnaise may be used at this point, or you can process in some of the remaining oil for a thicker sauce.

Transfer the finished mayonnaise to a bowl or jar and store in the refrigerator. If not using right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The sauce will keep for a good week. The fresher the eggs used, the longer the mayonnaise will keep.

Makes approximately 2 to 2 1/4 cups.

Precautions for Preparing Mayonnaise:

IMPORTANT: All the ingredients must be at room temperature. If necessary, eggs may be immersed in warm water for 10 minutes to bring them up to temperature before breaking them into the blender jar.

Since raw eggs are being use, only use the freshest eggs you can buy (the fresher, the better). As an egg ages, lecithin, a protein that acts as the central emulsifying agent, breaks down and the power of the egg yolk to stabilize the mayonnaise weakens. You may also use pasteurized eggs.

Eggs keep the fat (oil) and the liquid (vinegar or lemon juice) of the mayonnaise evenly blended together. If egg yolks weren’t used to emulsify the mayonnaise, the heavier liquid would sink and the lighter fat would float just as they do in vinegar and oil dressing.

Never use aluminum bowls or saucepans to prepare mayonnaise, as they will turn the mayonnaise gray. Stainless steel, enameled, plastic (food processor) or glass may be used.

Add the oil very slowly, especially at the beginning.

Since homemade mayonnaise has fresh eggs in it, the mayonnaise should not be left at room temperature for more than a couple hours, as food poisoning is always a concern.

Repairing “Turned” or “Broken” Mayonnaise:

Mayonnaise frequently breaks when stored overnight in the refrigerator and should be reconstituted before being used. If mayonnaise breaks at any point, it can be brought back together by beating the broken mixture bit by bit into a fresh egg yolk. As soon as this new mixture begins to thicken, the broken mayonnaise can be added more quickly.


When we moved into this old house 7 year ago (7 years ago!!!), it was with the intention of living here a few years while the girls were little and wouldn’t mind sharing a room and fixing it up a little, possibly make a little money off of it and then buy something newer, bigger, better.  So, fast forward a few years and Brian gets laid off from his job and our world gets turned upside down for a period of time.  Then enter travel softball, which now consumes a huge portion of our lives and here we are.  7 years later.  There have a been improvements to the house here and there along the way, though it’s FAR from where I’d like it to be.  And those girls who were 5 and 2 when we moved in?  Well they are now 12 and 9.   That sharing a bedroom business is about to push this woman over the edge.

Over the years, we have gone back and forth a thousand times on whether to stay or go.  And just recently we had said, Okay!  We are going!


One day, Katie and I took a walk.  We were talking about all the things we still needed to do before we could sell the house.  And how in the world we were going to make that happen with softball season approaching.  And then out of the blue, my daughter, the one who has said since she was 7 years old that she just couldn’t wait to get out of this old house and have her own room, stopped me in my tracks with this:

I don’t think we should go.




She proceeded to tell me that she would be so sad if we left.  That she has so many good memories here.  Not to mention a neighbor boy who, though they fight most of the time, has become like a brother to her.  And our awesome sledding hill?  How could she survive a winter without that?  And walking to the library and park and cafe on the corner?  How could we possibly go away from that?

So, I did the best I could to not just bawl and hug her to death because honestly, as mad as I get at this old house and all of it’s inconveniences, she is right.  Those things are so wonderful.  They really are.

And here’s the next crazy thing, when I told Brian about it, even HE said he would like to stay.  And he has been the BIGGEST hater of this house from the day I decided we should buy it.

Now Hannah?  That girl lives in the moment.  She wouldn’t care if we lived in a barn.  She goes with the flow and she’s got way more important things to do than sit around caring about where we live.

Of course, that doesn’t help the bedroom situation at all.  And that’s going to be a big, costly project that I have no idea how we will pay for, but we’ll work it out.

In the meantime, I am breathing easier knowing that at least we have finally made a decision.  And honestly, I’ll be 39 in a few months.  My drive and energy for doing things like buying and selling houses….well that train done left the station.  I’m ready to be settled in and enjoy my old age. :)



I Got’s The Old School Blues

It’s hard being a pen & paper kinda girl in this day and age.  Especially when things really ARE easier with electronics and all.

And eBooks.  Sorry.  Can’t do it.  I tried to get on board with that.  I really did.  But me loves me books.

Yesterday we went to the library to do research for Hannah’s president report.  Yeah, I said it.  The library.  And we actually used books instead of the internet.  Freaky!

I find myself making out lists the old fashioned way and I’ll stop and be like, okay…I have a list app on my phone.  Why am I doing this?  And honestly, the app is better because I’ll just lose the paper list.  Or end up getting mad because it’s causing clutter somewhere.

These are the crazy things that rattle around in my brain.  And then I go and make a blog post about it, because really, this is earth-shattering information I’m sharing here, people.

Klutzy Mama

One hard workin' dad, an accident-prone mama, and two crazy kids!

Twisted Fencepost

Life on the outskirts of town.


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