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Category: Cooking (Page 1 of 27)

Poke Sallet

You’ve probably heard about pokeweed, poke salad, poke sallet. You may have eaten it. It has other names you might recognize: American nightshade, cancer root, inkberry, pigeon berry.

Now, this isn’t a complete treatise on Poke Weed, it’s just a few thoughts about the plant and how to prepare it to eat.

Poke is a native weed. Phytolacca americana can grow as tall as 10 feet. It’s berries have been used to make a red dye and it’s root is used in some cancer and HIV treatment research. There are tons of other health claims for poke weed but none are scientifically proven. Except two: poke contains large amounts of vitamins A and C and large amounts of the minerals iron and calcium and poke has a lymphatic cleansing property.

Because it contains these nutrients and cleanses the lymph system it has long been a spring time staple on the dinner table. Our foremothers knew that after a long winter eating dried foods and salted meats, this little weed was just the thing to refresh her family’s vitamin stores and give them a good start toward renewed health. A Spring Tonic, you might say.

You may have heard it called Poke Salad, but Poke Sallet is the correct name. A sallet is a kind of cooked salad according to Old English. We’ve just eaten poke for so long in this country, we modern folks now call it poke salad.

Poke is edible, and it tastes like a mild asparagus, but it has to be prepared correctly before you eat it. Poke contains the powerful irritant phytolaccine.  If poke isn’t prepared correctly it can cause stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting. Some people are sensitive to even touching the plant or berries. I’ve never had that problem, but I have heard of folks who have.

To prepare poke first start with tender shoots that have no purple color on them. I pick shoots for a few days sometimes to gather up enough for a meal or what Grandma called a “mess” of poke. That picture up there is my latest “mess” of poke.

After you’ve gathered up your shoots, wash them and remove all the debris and soil.

Bring a big pot of water to a rolling boil.

Chop up the shoots if desired, I seldom do but if they’re long you might want to chop them.

Place the shoots in the pot of boiling water.

Boil the shoots for 3 minutes. Drain the shoots and remove them to a plate while you boil another pot of water.

Place the shoots in the second pot of boiling water and boil for another 3 minutes.

Repeat the draining and boiling for a total of 3 boilings and drainings. If you’re sensitive to plant products and different foods, you might want to boil and drain the shoots up to 5 times. I just boil and drain three times.

To finish off the cooking after all the boiling and draining, cover the shoots with water, bring to a boil and add the seasonings of your choice. Salt and pepper are common as is a piece of smoked ham. Garlic and red pepper flakes are another tasty add-in. Let the shoots simmer with the seasonings until the meat is cooked and tender. If you don’t use meat just cook the shoots for as long as you would other cooked greens like turnips or mustard greens.

Don’t throw away that final cooking liquid. It’s called “Pot Likker” or “pot liquor”, and it is delicious with a piece of cornbread and the cooked poke. The pot likker is where many of those vitamins and minerals end up. When I was a child, Mother always gave me a little cup of the pot likker to drink.

Another way of cooking poke after the boiling treatment is to scramble an egg with the cooked shoots.

Do you cook and eat Poke Sallet?

Thanksgiving Prep – My Lists

Here are all my daily lists for preparing for Thanksgiving. I’ve gathered them together from all over this site so you can use them if you want to.  The lists start on Friday, November 19th and go through Thanksgiving Day, November 25th this year, 2021.

You can print this page out and use these lists, adding your own notes, to help you prepare.

Friday, November 19th
Finish making pie crusts for the freezer
Make cornbread and biscuits for dressing, crumble and freeze in plastic bags
Grocery shop for non-perishables
Clean bathroom and do general straightening in the house

Saturday, November 20th
Take turkeys out to defrost
Grocery shop for perishables
Cleaning and laundry

Monday, November 22nd
Check on turkeys as they defrost
Clean dining room, put out plates, utensils, etc.
Set out all casserole dishes, pots and pans, see if I have what I need to cook everything
Make Aunt Eura’s Yeast Rolls and put in freezer
Make Cranberry Relish, refrigerate

Tuesday, November 23rd

Brine the turkeys. I’ll use the Traditional Turkey recipe this year!
Assemble casseroles and refrigerate (sweet potato, green bean, any casserole that does not contain breads, baking soda or baking powder.)
Make a Breakfast Casserole for Thursday, freeze or refrigerate

Wednesday, November 24th
Take Breakfast casserole out of freezer
Bake pies
Make dressing and refrigerate
Make salads
Roast turkey, carve, refrigerate in chicken broth
Make centerpieces
Do last minute laundry

Thursday, November 25th – Thanksgiving Day
Put Breakfast casserole in to bake
Take pies and yeast rolls out of freezer early
Make stuffing
Make mashed potatoes
Reheat turkey
Bake casseroles
Bake yeast rolls
Make gravy

Dinner is ready!

Back to All My Turkey Helps

Raw Granola (Muesli) With Kefir

I’ve been making raw granola this week and wanted to share the procedure with you. In my effort to provide more and more raw and whole foods for my family, I hoped to replace their regular sugary cereals with a more nutritious combination of raw seeds, nuts, fruit and grains.

I started with 4 cups of organic, steel cut oats. I soaked the oats in 2 cups of kefir to break down the phytic acid and make the nutrients more available to our bodies.

I soaked the oats for 24 hours. You could use yogurt or even water and a little apple cider vinegar instead of kefir. I would probably use some kombucha too and I might do that next time.

After the oats are soaked I added all the other ingredients. I used raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, organic golden raisins, organic dried cherries sweetened with apple juice and organic dried cranberries sweetened with juice. It’s not too sweet so at this point, taste it, and add a little bit of honey to sweeten it as desired.

Once everything was mixed well, I placed big spoonfuls of it on parchment paper and dried it in my Excaliber dehydrator at a temperature of 108* til it was dry and crisp. I crumbled it up and stored it in jars.  I guess I should add that it is delicious!  The whole family enjoys it, even Mr Picky. Its good with milk as a cereal, as a topping for yogurt and ice cream and as a snack.

Sylvia’s Sweet Taters


I would never have believed that sweet potatoes and bananas go together. But they do. Try this delicious recipe on Thanksgiving. I think your family might like it.

  • 5 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 4 bananas, unpeeled
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork, put them in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes.

After 20 minutes, add the bananas to the pan. Continue roasting for 10 to 15 minutes until both the bananas and potatoes are very soft. Remove the pan from the oven but don’t turn the oven off.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Peel the bananas and add them to the sweet potatoes.

Add 1 stick butter.

Add honey.

Beat vigorously with a mixer or with a wooden spoon.

Season with salt to taste.

Spoon into a baking dish. Top with crumb topping if desired and bake til topping is golden brown.


  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers. Add pecans, then sprinkle over sweet potatoes.

If you taste this and think it needs to be sweeter for your family, just go ahead and add rapadura, brown sugar or maple syrup to taste!

I’m sharing this recipe in Wardee’s Gallery of Thanksgiving Sides at gnowfglins.com ~ visit the Gallery to see more real food Thanksgiving side dishes!

Canning Ground Meat

Canning Ground Meat
Canning ground meat can be done in several ways. The meat can be left in it’s loose state and precooked before packing into the jars or it can be made into patties first. These instructions use the patty method because I have had very good results with it. These instructions may be used for any ground meat.

1. Add 1 tsp. salt to each pound of ground meat. Mix well.

2. Form meat into fairly thin, small patties that can be packed into jars with out breaking.

3. Put meat patties into cooking pan and precook in a 350 degree F oven til medium done. The red color should almost be gone from the inside of the patties.

4. Pack hot patties into clean, hot jars. Leave 1″ head space.

5. Skim fat from drippings and do not use in canning.

6. Cover meat patties with juices and add hot water if needed. Leave about 1″ headspace.

7. Work out air bubbles with knife. If necessary add more hot water. Again leave 1″ head space in jars.

8. Adjust hot lids and rings on jars.

9. Process at once in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure (240 degrees).
According to The Call Canning Book:
Pint jars 75 minutes
Quart Jars 90 minutes

Homemade Hamburger Helper: Different Varieties and In Bulk

 Hamburger Helper is so stinkin’ convenient. If only it wasn’t so unhealthy. Its chock full of sugar, salt, preservatives and other junk but it sure tastes good and its filling. So I started making my own hamburger helper years ago. My children really like it.

hamburger helper 2






If you make Hamburger Helper you know that you use milk.  I use powdered milk because I can make up the seasoning mix and have it on hand and just have to add water.

Here are a few recipes for the Seasoning Packs you’ll need to make my homemade Hamburger Helper. Feel free to modify for your family.  The original Hamburger Helper has a lot of sugar in it. I prefer to have a more healthy dish so I have left out the sugar, you could add a bit of sugar in if your palate demands it.

Make up the Seasoning Mix and store it in a glass jar in a cool place. Be sure to label it and it wouldn’t hurt to keep the instructions for making the dish with the seasoning.

The first one is the classic Hamburger Cheesy Mac.

First make your Seasoning Mix.

This amount will make 4 different meals of Cheesy Mac.  For each recipe you’ll shake the jar well to combine and distribute the seasonings and use  one half cup of the mix for each recipe of Cheesy Mac.

1 – 1/4 cup instant powdered milk
5 Tablespoons cornstarch
3 Tablespoon plus 1 tsp. paprika
1 – 1/2  Tablespoon  onion powder
1 – 1/2  Tablespoons garlic powder
1 – 1/2  Tablespoons  salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

You will need for each recipe of this dish:
Remember that the seasoning mix makes 4 recipes of this dish

1 pound ground meat
3 1/3 cups hot water
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

To prepare:

Brown the ground meat in a large skillet or pot.  Add one half cup of seasoning mix.

Add the water and the uncooked macaroni.  Stir well and allow to simmer on low heat for  15-20 minutes.

Once the macaroni is tender and all the water is absorbed, add the shredded cheese, stir.

Taste for salt and pepper.


Next up is Beef Stroganoff.  If you can get sour cream powder, its good in this mix and you’d use 2 – 1/2 cups of it in the big batch of mix, but since most people can’t, I decided to build this recipe using fresh sour cream added at the last minute of cooking.

Seasoning Mix
Remember, this makes 4 different recipes of the Beef Stroganoff dish

1 – 1/4 cup instant powdered milk
5 TBS cornstarch
10 tsp. garlic powder
10 tsp. onion powder
10 tsp. parsley
10 tsp. salt
5 tsp. pepper

  You will also need:  
Remember that the seasoning mix makes 4 recipes of this dish

1 pound ground meat
2 cups hot water
1 1/2 cups small egg noodles
1 cup sour cream

To Prepare:

Brown the ground meat in a large skillet or pot. Add one half cup of seasoning mix.

Add the water and the uncooked noodles.  Stir well and allow to simmer on low for  15-20 minutes. Add hot water if needed throughout cooking.

Once the noodles are tender and all the water is absorbed, remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

Taste for salt and pepper.


The last one is for a Rice Hamburger Dish. Instead of pasta, it uses rice. I cook my rice before hand. In fact, I cook whatever rice I am going to use in my menus during the week and refrigerate it. But for this meal, you can just put the rice on to cook while you are cooking the hamburger and preparing the other ingredients.

I guess this is sort of a Jambalaya type dish. Its as spicy as you want it to be, just add more pepper or seasoning like Tony Chachere’s . This Seasoning Mix Recipe will make 4 different dishes of Rice Hamburger.

1 – 1/4 cup instant powdered milk
5 Tablespoons TBS cornstarch
1\4 cup diced, dried sweet bell peppers (optional)

Spices and Herbs:
1- 1\2 Tablespoons Paprika
1 Tablespoon Chili powder
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons thyme
5 teaspoons onion powder
5 teaspoons garlic powder
5 teaspoons salt

OR, instead of the spices and herbs above, you can use 1\2 cup of Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning, or Zatarain’s

You will also need:
1 pound ground meat
3 1\2 cups hot water
1 cup shredded cheese
1 small can of stewed tomatoes (about 8 ounces)

Put 1 cup rice and 2 cups water on to cook. While that is simmering, brown the ground beef in a large skillet or pot. When the beef is done, drain it and place it back over the heat.

Add 1\2 cup of the seasoning mix to the beef, add the hot water and tomatoes then stir. Lower heat to a simmer.
Stir in the cooked rice. Cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken.
When heated through and thick, add the shredded cheese. Cover and let sit again another 5 minutes. Serve.

Bread Making Tutorial


Anyone can make bread. After all, people have been making bread for thousands of years. You can make bread, too! This is a very simple recipe for making a white bread. It is an Amish recipe that can be used for loaf bread or rolls.

You can make bread by hand, without a bread maker or machine of any kind. That’s how people used to make it, and you can, too. It will take perseverance and lots of energy. You will need a heavy spoon for beating the ingredients until the dough gets too stiff to beat. Then you will turn it out onto the counter-top and knead the dough.
To knead, you will push your fists into the dough and push the dough forward. then you will grasp the dough that has been pushed forward and pull it down over the rest of the dough, pushing it into the rest of the dough. Do this over and over. Add flour if the dough is sticky, just a little at a time, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.  I will be using an electric kneader in these instructions, but they are perfectly suited for making bread by hand.





2 1/2 cups warm milk
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 heaping Tablespoon shortening
2 Tablespoons salt
6 -7 cups bread flour
1 Tablespoon lecithin powder optional, helps the bread stay fresh longer)

I have been having lots of trouble with bread not rising lately, and it has been due to the yeast. Sometimes bread will rise one time and then not again, this is usually due to weak, almost dead, yeast. So, I’ve gone back to proofing my yeast. Here is how to do that.

Put the amount of yeast you are using in a teacup. Add a pinch of sugar and about 1/2 cup warm milk. Let it sit until you can see the yeast start to foam and bubble. This will take from one or two to 10 minutes. If it doesn’t foam and bubble, you know that your yeast is not going to make your bread rise. Discard it and go buy some new yeast.






Preheat your oven to 500* F . When your dough is ready to rise, you will turn the oven off and place the dough in the oven with the door cracked open.

Proof your yeast as instructed above and let it sit in the cup until you have the other ingredients combined:

Combine the rest of the milk, sugar, lecithin if using, shortening and salt. Add the yeast/sugar mixture.

Add four cups of flour, one cup at a time, beating well. I use a dough hook from the very beginning, but you can start with a paddle and change to the hook if you like.


Now start adding the flour just 1/2 cup at a time. Depending on the weather, you may need from 6 to even 8 cups of flour for this recipe. Today I used just 5 1/2 cups. Knead the dough well between additions of flour.

As you add flour, look for the dough to stop being sticky, and watch for it to start pulling away from the sides of the pan. You may need to stop your machine and scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl a few times.

Now allow the dough to knead for 10 minutes. If you are kneading by hand, you will knead it for 15-20 minutes, and that will depend on how strong and good you are at kneading.  🙂

While it is kneading, you can grease a large pan for the dough to rise in.





After it has kneaded for 10 minutes, you can see how smooth the dough is and how it has cleaned off the sides of the pan.



Take the dough out of the mixing bowl and shape it into a mushroom by folding the edges under, under, under all the way around.







Now grab the dough firmly and place the dough in the greased pan, top side down. Rub the dough around in the grease, then turn it over so that both the top and bottom will be greased.


Turn off your oven.  Place a clean cloth over the dough in the pan and place the pan in the oven. Leave the door cracked and allow the dough to rise until it is doubled in size. this can take from 30 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on your oven and the weather.

OK, now your dough is risen!


Preheat the oven to 325*F.

Grease two loaf pans.  I prefer smaller pans because the bread rises higher in them and I get big slices for sandwiches. As you make more bread, you can decide what kind of pans you like.  If you don’t have loaf pans you can use casserole dishes or even place the dough on a cookie sheet for a round loaf with lots of crust.

Take out the dough and divide it into two equal portions. I just pinch the dough into two portions, but if you prefer, you can pay the dough on the counter and cut it into two portions.

Shape each portion into a mushroom and pinch together the dough on the bottom of the mushroom.  Place each portion of shaped dough into a greased loaf pan.

Pierce the tops of the dough with a fork a few times. This allows air to flow through the bread and gives the tops a nice look when the bread is done.

Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise until it is at least 1 inch above the pan.  If you are not using a pan, you should let the dough rise on a greased cookie sheet until it is doubled in size.  This rising is not done in the oven but on top of the oven, since it is nice and warm now.

Now place the risen pans of dough in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. When you take them out, leave the bread in the pans for 5 minutes.  While the bread is still in the pans, rub the tops and sides with butter, this makes the crust soft and delicious.

After 5 minutes, turn the bread out of the pans and allow to cool on a wire rack.  If you don’t have a wire rack, and you bake a lot, you really should get one. They are very helpful for cooking baked goods quickly and evenly.

Once the bread is cool enough to eat, you are going to have a hard time keeping people out of the kitchen, so go ahead and slice one loaf and serve it with butter and jam.

To store this bread, you must wait til it is cool, then wrap in paper or plastic. Without the lecithin it will last about 4-5 days on the shelf, but I don’t think your bread is going to be around that long.  🙂

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