Cappy's Magic Cookie Bars

For those of you who follow our Blog, you may have noticed that I said, "Peggy had the pleasure of having her very first Smore" on our road trip this Fall.

My marshmallow eating, chocolate loving sweetie pie was only allowed this treat 'cause we discovered these amazing gluten-free graham crackers.
These aptly named crackers are very good, and it didn't take me long to realize this opens the door to several of my favorite treats.  It took us awhile to find these graham crackers when we got home.  For some reason true gluten free products are not as common in the deep South.  Peggy finally found them at Whole foods right before Christmas, so I got her to buy a couple boxes, so I could make for her one of my Dad's favorite things to make during the holidays.  My Dad was a very good Cajun 'man cook', but baking wasn't his strong suit.  He was a wizard at the black iron, campfire, bbq outdoor cooking, but didn't bake much.  He had two or three simple things he liked to bake and one of his favorite things were Magic Cookie Bars.  What follows is the way he did it with a couple tricks of my own.  Just in time for Christmas, this treat is really worth trying.
Take a 9x13 inch baking pan and put a half a stick of butter in it.
My trick is to put the pan with the butter (unrapped of course) in the oven while ya preheat the oven to 350 F.  While the oven is heating and the butter is melting "smush up" 1 1/2 to 2 cups of graham crackers (we just used the whole box).  Once the butter is melted I lean the pan on all sides to coat the pan and sprinkle the cracker crumbs in and smooth them evenly around with a fork.
My dad usta just dump the next three ingredients in the pan and attempt to smooth them out with the fork but I find it much easier to dump them in a bowl stir them up and then apply them to the pan.
Daddy always said, "Ya add a heaping cupful" and like him, I sorta put the cup over the bowl and pour 'til the cup fills up and runs over, so if ya wanna call it a cup and a half go for it; it aint an exact science.

After adding the pecans, chocolate, and coconut to the bowl, I toss them together and sprinkle them into the dish on top of the graham cracker crumbs .

This is what it looks like all spread out.  Next comes the sweetened condensed milk.

Not only is it fun to make, it's fun to sample as you go.
Afer ya get the part that didn't wind up either on you, or in you into the oven, ya bake them for 25-30 minutes.
I took the pan out to cool and later when I went back to check on them one of the corners had disappeared.
Can't hardly blame my poor wife.  Can you imagine what it must be like to go 20 years with out graham crackers??  
Well, if you can, you really need to revisit our simple Christmas treat.  This is our Christmas gift to those of you who must live life gluten free.  Merry Christmas and may God Bless.


Christmas Card 2014

We admit this year's Christmas card is different. We've been told it's disappointing, odd, strange, and "the most unusual card I have ever received..."
Well, I did have some reservations about it this year.  I think what was lacking was sufficient explanation on our part. While a dear friend thought it was like a manger scene with our family gathered round, another good friend cried because they had lost so many family members this year, that they thought the people gathered round us on our card were our personal loved ones who had also passed on this year. (I should mention that we did lose Cappy's uncle LeRoy Robin in the Fall, his beloved "Uncle Bird", and my sister, Lori Ganoung, my "MORi",  just this month.) 
    Concerning the Christmas Card, though, I actually love all the input and different insights from those who have received it.
What the sketchy figures surrounding us represent, are those of characters we have been writing about this past year in a novel that we've been working on. These 'figments of our imagination' are looking over our shoulders, watching what we are writing about them, and perhaps the parts they play in our story. Our back page sought to explain the matter, but perhaps was too lengthy and/or too confusing an explanation.
The inside of our cards, (see below) is what actually motivates us to send  them each year; it is our Gift to our Lord. Our "Birthday Gift" to Him. He always gives me what to write. I just sit and listen, then no more than write what I "hear". One year it was simply the words to the song, "Mary, Did You Know". Another year, it was an original poem. I didn't realize it was a poem until I had finished writing, then re-read it in amazement. In an 'odd' way, it's also His gift to us, but isn't that what all the gift giving is supposed to be about during this HOLYday season? We give love,...hopefully it's always given in love, (by way of presents), and if we look at the heart of those who give back to us, we see the thought and love found there. (leastwise I think that's supposed to be the result) So, here's our Gift to Him this year, which He gave to us to share. (neat how that works out, isn't it?)
(P.S. Next year's card is already designed and we know you will LOVE it. God Bless you and have a very Merry Christmas and an even better New Year)


Just Another Outdoor December Sunday.

This morning was a wonderful morning; almost 60 degrees and sunny, so I fired up da pit and put a Boston Butt pork roast on the 'cool side' to smoke.
  With company coming in a couple days, it don't hurt to have some pulled pork around for snacking. 
I had to giggle to myself when I went into the shed and saw the four little black kittens snuggled together on top of their two heating pads for warmth and  the thought came to me how strange to have black cats and white dogs in the family. (The big old white 'cat war veteran', Sarge, who belongs to the neighborhood, makes infrequent visits of late.) 'Ebony and ivory' sets of pets.
Those of you who know me prolly figured out what I went to the shed for in the first place.  On a chilly morning I like to put a little extra kick in the coffee.
Peggy and Beaux (in his Saints shirt) sat on the porch swing enjoying the sunshine.
Beaux, fresh from a haircut seemed to enjoy the warmth of the shirt.  Since the roast would need to smoke awhile I threw some burgers, taters and a few cobs of our buddy, Sam's corn on the grill still in the shucks (oh, so good!) to keep the roast company.

The burgers consisted of 1 lb of beef, 1 lb of pork, 1 egg and one minced yellow onion.  Seasoned with Cajun seasoning, hot sauce and a lil extra Worcestershire sauce, they were really good.  
   I would show yall a picture of a finished plate but it wasn't that kind of day.  As we listened to the Saints get badly beaten by the miserable Carolina Panthers, we just snacked, and being in fear of missing something 'good' happening with our team on the radio, we didn't even bother to run inside and get plates, or silverware, so..."finger food"; thas what we are callin' it and we are stickin' with that story. Peggy had a nice fire going in the little firepit close to the house, so's as to not get too close to where the young kittens were frolicking. It made a nice backdrop for our 'meal'.

While the roast took it's time smoking, we picked 9 grocery bags of our citrus and distributed them out to neighbors, along with our Christmas card.  It has become our tradition to share  some of the bounty of our yard, and our cards, with our neighbors.

I really enjoy spreading a little Christmas cheer around the neighborhood and it was very well recieved by those who were home and a pleasent surprise, we hope, for those who weren't.

 When we got home we discovered that MarkyBear, (the brat) our chubby Bichon, who is so fat that he has a very hard time waddling around and has to back up and launch himself three or four times if he's going to be successful in even getting up onto the couch, (And most of the time he doesn't make it anymore)...well...in just the short time it took us to run up the street and hand out the oranges and envelopes, he had climbed up onto the wobbly glass patio table and finished off 3 of those big burger patties and 2 baked potatoes!  The only reason he didn't also devour the corn is 'cause it wasn't shucked. Peg and I had planned on having those for supper. To add insult to injury, I had to go 'rescue' the big lug off the table so he wouldn't hurt himself trying to get back down, all the while Peg is telling me, "Don't be mad at him, don't be mad at him!" Too late, but I guess it was my fault for forgetting that the 'little' guy had lost a few lbs. lately and now, with some effort, managed to be able to jump up into our patio table chairs, which I foolishly left parked by the table.  At any rate we all liked the burgers, those of us who actually got any of them.  Once the roast reached 175F we pulled it off the pit and there it will rest till the morning.
 That's when it'll get "pulled" and slathered in Peggy's sauce.  I can hardly wait. 
  Those were the highlights of the day. By the way, our team, the Saints, lost such an amazingly embarrassing game, that half of their fans were so disgusted that they left the stadium around half time. Peg said, "The Panthers put our team in a big paper sack, put it on our porch, set it on fire, and rang our bell."
  Just another unordinary December Sunday around here...but, look, did we mention we've got pulled pork sammiches to look forward to out of da deal?

The next day Peggy made her BBQ sauce and we pulled the pork and pored on the sauce and warmed it in the oven so the sauce would set.

This stuff was amazing and now we have some for when company comes it freezes great in qt bags and is a quick fix for the munchies. 


Whack 'em, Stack 'em, Burn 'em Up

  After having two nights where there were a few hours below freezing, I decided it was time to put our garden boxes to bed.  I'm kicking myself right now for not taking pictures as I uprooted our okra, shook the dirt off, and cut the 8-10 ft stalks into short pieces that fit in the bottom of my wheelbarrow.  Once I got them all pulled up, shook off and whacked up, I put the pieces in the compost heap, and hoed and raked the garden level, then removed the string that we use to divide the bed into a square foot grid.  Once the bed was all leveled off with fertilizer and compost worked in, me and my 'assistant yard helper', Beaux, loaded a bale of hay into the wheelbarrow to spread out on some of our box beds.  Peggy stepped out with the camera when she heard me laughing at my helper.

As soon as I loaded the hay, he naturally had to jump in and climb on top and assume command of his yard chariot.  "We" spread the hay over the new garden bed, our asparagus patch, and over the larger garden bed.

We left Peggy's herb garden and the strawberry patch uncovered since they both have green things growing in 'em.  On cold nights we can just cover them with towels or old sheets.  The strawberries won't get their straw for another month or two. 
Looking close at or garden bed, you can see some green onions growing through the hay.  They should be fine this winter, barring some errant deep freeze.
  The next morning I rode over to good friend Sam's and from there we went to see Sam's kin, Lance. Lance is also a member in our 'trading country boy network'.  The place Lance works was changing out their scaffolding boards, so rather than see them go to the dump, he loaded them in a trailer and brought them home.  Sam and I loaded up a truckload of these solid oak 6' long boards and dumped them in my yard.
The boards are heavy oak 2" by 12" inchs and on each end have an iron pin through them.
With that in mind, I got out our sawhorses and my skill saw and went to whacking each 6' board into 4-18" pieces.  These I stacked in two different places in the yard.  The end pieces got  put in a pile by the new big fire-pit I'd made, while the middle pieces with no pins in them got stacked on the back wood rack (by the doghouse, now 'cathouse').  Since the ones that don't have pins in them are very easy to split, we'll use them in our smaller fire pit.

So after whacking away at them, the pile got smaller, until after a couple water breaks and a couple hours went by, they were all whacked up.
After whacking and stacking and toting and sweating, there wasn't but one more thing to do.  Sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. (MarkyBear lurked under the chair waiting for an appearance of the new tiny yard kitties)

The pit worked wonderful and even passed a grilling test with flying colors. The corner drafted well and did a great job, giving a few pork chops a great smokey flavor.  Of course my sweet spicy rub didn't hurt anything.
Life in our backyard aint all 'work and no play', and after all that whacking and stacking was over it was time to sit back, relax and be thankful for my well-stocked fire pit and woodpile all from our country boy network. As I lifted my first beer in salute, I gave ol' Sam a call and hollered, "Hey, where yat? Why aint ya here?"  but he wasn't around to hear it. Well, I figure, after all that whacking and stacking and hauling and hoeing and raking that all cost me nothing, but gained me a lot; I sat back and enjoyed the satisfaction of a well-earned rest by a nice roaring fire; priceless.


Yard Cats

I got kinda bored sittin' around the house last Thursday, while Peg was busy, so I decided to go sit at the boat landing and 'drown a few worms'.  I got home around 4 o'clock, walked into the backyard and immediately drew a kitty crowd.
Mama yard cat came tumbling out with her 4 tiny kittens as soon as I started moving things around in the yard.
What a nice greeting; they all came wobbling out of their hidey places from around and under the house we had put for them, (installed with two heating pads and topped with a warm blanket because of the freezing temps we've had lately.) I soon came to realize it wasn't me they were coming out for.
Even the small, timid 4th kitten cautiously peeked out with his startlingly blue eyes.  What brought them out of hiding wasn't me but the other "Cat" I brought into the yard.

Catfish that is.  The quickest way to get kitties out of hiding is to plop fresh fish liver in their bowl.  As soon as I had
 "Mr. Whisker-fish" skinned, they all pounced on their bowl, 
            They seemed quite happy with this other cat in the yard.