Tag Archives: Cooking

Brunswick Stew

26 Feb

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis


Brunswick stew. Those two words transport me back to childhood. Conrad had longish grey hair and his wife Lucille was on the thin side with brown hair. I think of Conrad dressed in white, and for some reason, I believe his trade was a painter. They were friends of my parents from when we lived in North Carolina. I don’t remember how they happened to be in Florida. For some reason, I think they moved about.

What I remember vividly is that when Conrad was in town, we would be having some Brunswick stew. I know there was a bit of prep work involved. I think Conrad would cook a hen and take the meat off the bone. There was pork also, but I am not sure if it was barbecued , smokes or simply boiled. Then there were the vegetables, corn freshly scraped from the cob along with butter beans, onion and potatoes.

Conrad brought a huge pot to cook it in. For some reason, I think it was cooked outside, possibly on our Coleman camp stove. It cooked for a long time, so heating up the kitchen could have been a factor. The aroma was divine and mom’s buttermilk biscuits, sweet tea and/or cornbread were the perfect accompaniment.

Conrad’s making Brunswick stew was music to my tummy.  I’m not sure why my mother didn’t make it, she was a great cook.

I have often wanted to make it but felt the task too daunting. There are so many recipes , I felt overwhelmed. Until yesterday. I had been mentally pulling together meal meats this past week with the idea “stewing” (had to use the pun) of attempting Brunswick stew. My Keto cookbook had a recipe that looked doable. It wouldn’t have the same vegetables as they are too carby, but the meats and seasonings felt familiar.

The stew was delicious and my husband had seconds. I made low carb cornbread to go with it and crumbled some in my bowl. Better than the flavor though, are the memories stirred up as I cooked. Simpler times. Family and friends time. Love.


Here is the video I watched before making Brunswick stew.


Grandmother’s Soup

22 Aug

My Take

DiVoran Lites


Grandmother and Granddad

I had a higgledy-piggledy education in cooking. Mother taught me, Grandmother taught me, and Dad had strict ideas about what should be done with meat and with beans. I also read books and taught myself. Even now, though, I cannot use a recipe exactly as it is written. I’ve tried. I’m sure some things would turn out better if I could follow, but I have a hard time with rules in any disciple. What I can do is experiment and when I do, I’m able to at least write down what I threw into the mix. I’ve been told I may be what they call a taster. All I know is I’m persnicity. Sometimes that gives me an edge on pleasing other people, but there are people who don’t like anything I cook, so then I get to eat out. I do enjoy being with people and I like a good pizza now and again. That’s something I’ve never mastered at home.

Today I was thinking about soup. Because too much fiber doesn’t set well with me, I had to give up having a big salad for lunch. As a side thought, Bill and I were each making our own salad and the only ingredient they had in common was lettuce and we each liked a different kind of lettuce. I do enjoy soup for lunch and I used to like the canned alphabet soup I fed the kids. I loved Grandmother’s potato soup and the vegetable soup our Mrs. McGregor made in the restaurant my parents owned, so I decided to make my own soups for lunch. I’ve been practicing and although they are not my Grandmother’s or Mrs. McGregor’s soups, I like them very much because they contain only things I like.



Grandmother taught me to make her potato soup. Peel potatoes, cut them up, boil them in water, while boiling, fry half a pound of bacon, make it crisp, then break it up into bacon bits, and add the potatoes in their water. Fry onions in the bacon grease and dump it all into the soup add milk. It was super-delicious. You can guess why I don’t make it that way anymore.


Nowadays I put in canned celery soup, leeks, carrots, cream, and a few other things. It makes me happy and Bill likes it too.

I also make a vegetable soup with Ramen chicken noodle soup as a base. I add frozen peas, grated carrots, a handful of cut-up spinach, chicken broth and home-grown rosemary, oregano, and thyme. I throw in a can of chicken for protein.

There’s one other kind of soup I like and I would love to figure out how to make it someday, but deep in my heart I don’t think I will. For one thing, it would be nigh onto impossible to get the crabs they use in Port Townsend in Puget Sound and I don’t think any other crabs would make the most delicious Crab Bisque I’ve ever eaten. Even the name sounds exotic.

Puget Sound Speed Crabbing



Five Reasons Not to Fear a Power Pressure Cooker

28 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

Five Reasons Not to Fear a Power Pressure Cooker

Did you know there is an overwhelming about of articles and blog post on how to generate more traffic, thus more readers to a blog? Many have the same advice- give readers a reason to read your blog. They suggest a blog post have titles like 5 Easy Ways too…… or 3 Simple Hacks….

I suppose it is good advice since, I tend to be tempted into reading how to posts. I decided to attempt to follow this model, but for the life of me, I couldn’t think of anyway to turn my rambling words into bullet points. I cast my eyes over the house, surely there is something here I can write a few bullet points about. Inspiration escaped me until I saw my favorite Christmas gift, a Power Pressure Cooker XL. I love this pot!

I grew up using a pressure cooker and I am completely comfortable with them but most of my friends think they are scary. I currently own three pressure cookers, a large one and a standard sized one at our home in North Carolina  and a standard one we have at our daughter’s house in Florida. ( I cook her meals during the winter to earn my keep.)

So why would I need another pressure cooker? Because this one is cool! No really, it is cool. The steam remains in the cooker. In Florida, keeping the house cool with minimal A/C use is important to one in my “time of life. Meals that usually require using the oven, I can pop into the Power Pressure Cooker, no heat and cooks fast too.

See, it doesn’t look scary at all!

So here we go, my five reasons to not fear a power pressure cooker!

  • No more scary sounds- Have you been traumatized by the hiss and jiggle of traditional pressure cookers? Fear no more. The new electric power pressure cooker is pleasantly silent except for  an occasional bump as the pot builds  pressure.
  • It’s a rice cooker– Yes, it cooks rice.  It has a rice setting with 3 sub settings for White Rice, Brown Rice, and Wild Rice. These individual sub settings are program specify for each rice with time and pressure.
  • It’s a slow cooker– Have you ever wished your slow cooker had a delayed timer? Well this one does! Of course it turns off automatically once the cooking time has ended, then it goes into stay warm mode.
  • Set it and forget it-If you have used a pressure cooker in the past, you know that you have to keep an eye on the cooker until it begins to jiggle, then adjust the heat to make sure it jiggles at the correct frequency. ( Ok, explaining jiggle frequency is just too weird.)
  • Great meals- A power pressure cooker is 70% faster than oven or stove top methods. The literature claims more nutrients are retained in the food, due to the shorter cooking time. I don’t measure nutrition so I can’t back this claim up but I can tell you, everything I have cooked in mine tastes great!

Our daughter Rebekah, loves Italy and after reading  Under The Tuscan Sun-At Home in Italy she bought The Tuscan Sun Cookbook-Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen by Edward and Frances Mayes. Last night I made a recipe from the book and adapted it for the Power Cooker. On a funny note,when I went online in hopes of locating the recipe so I could copy/paste, I found it on the AARP website! I am sharing it and making notes on how I modified the recipe.

Chicken With Artichokes, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Chickpeas


  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 chicken breasts, halved, skin on ( I used 4 chicken thighs, skin on. I think chicken breasts are very unforgiving.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas ( I used one can of chickpeas, drained)
  • 2 14-ounce cans water-packed artichoke hearts, drained ( I used quartered ones, canned of course)
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, slivered, or 1 cup sliced oven-roasted tomatoes (I soaked these in the ½ cup of wine for 30 minutes)
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme or fresh marjoram leaves or 2 tablespoons dried
  • ½ cup black or green olives, pitted


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Nope, no heating the oven for me!

Over medium-low heat, in a large, enameled ovenproof pot with a lid, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sauté the onion, and after about 3 minutes, remove it to a medium bowl.

I  pressed the chicken meat button, added 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sautéd the onions for two minutes.

Season the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil to the pot, raise the heat to medium-high, and brown the chicken for 3 minutes per side. Add the wine, bring it quickly to a boil and then turn the heat off immediately.

I didn’t change the settings, just put the meat in and browned it for about 4 minutes. Since I had soaked the tomatoes in the wine, I strained the tomatoes and put the wine in the pot to bring to a boil. Once it boiled, I lifted the inner pot out of the cooker and set it aside.

Combine the onion with the parsley, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme and olives. Spread the combined vegetables over the chicken, and bake, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces, turning the chicken once. Serve right from the pot or transfer to a platter.

No baking for me! Once all the ingredients were together, I put the inner pot back in the cooker, changed the setting to soup/stew and left it alone.(I chose that setting since the meal seemed liked a stew. Once it pressurized, the cooking time was 6 minutes.

Another nice thing about this pot is that once cooking  completed, it remained in the warm cycle while I put the finishing touches to the rest of the meal

And it was wonderful!! This is the photo as shown in the book.


Thank You AARP for posting recipes from the cookbook. Click this  link to view this recipe as well as as others.

My daughter found a great deal on my Power Pressure Cooker XL at Kohl’s. It was on sale plus 30% off and she used Kohl’s Cash. It is also on Amazon and comes in 6, 8 and 10 quart size. Mine is a 6 quart and a good size for a small family.

Now that I have followed blogging advice, I simply need to sit back and watch our reader numbers soar…..right?

I would like to hear your pressure cooker stories. What is your favorite food to cook in one? Or share your fears and scary stories.




Voracious, and Novel Cure

16 Nov


My Take

DiVoran Lites

Author, Poet and ArtistYesterday, I went to the SPCA to cancel a pickup appointment I had made for a desk. I’d realized how fond I was of that desk and that I wanted to keep it, so no pickup.

While I was in the thrift store I bought a hard-cover book for a dollar. It’s a romantic suspense novel by Elizabeth Lowell called, Amber Beach. I then went to the library and searched the donation shelves as usual, but this time I found nothing to buy.

In the new books section however, Voracious: A hungry reader cooks her way through great books, by Cara Nicoletti waited. Who wouldn’t want to read about books and food in the same tome? Cara Nicoletti grew up spending time in her grandfather’s butcher shop and eventually became a butcher, baker, (but not candlestick maker) herself. She always loved books and many of the days in the shop were spent sitting behind the cash-register reading. In Voracious she writes about the books she has read and offers her own recipes for many of the dishes she found described there. The first is, “Little House in the Big Woods Breakfast Sausage.” Cara also teaches sausage making classes. I probably will just read the recipes and maybe they’ll change my cooking for the better by osmosis. I do love this type of memoir and this one has everything you could ask for. I took it to the desk and checked it out. It’s good and I recommend it.

When I got home, Novel Cure filled my mail box in a brown wrapper from an Amazon source. I was pretty excited about getting that one. It will last a good long time. It’s so jam-packed with witty writings about novels that I can’t spare the time to count them all. Novel Cure is a bibliotherapy book meant to help people select novels that show characters as either good or bad role models and can help with all kinds of mental and emotional hurricanes. I wasn’t as interested in using it for my personal aberrations as for the enjoyment of reading about books in a book written by witty and educated writers like Ella Berthound and Susan Elderkin. Someday I may run into one of them in a discard situation.

When I pulled the Novel Cure from its envelope I had a decision to make. Which one should I open first? It was like trying to decide whether to have a chocolate sundae with nuts or just a little dish of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Since the Novel Cure is a dense, thick book and I can keep it as long as I want, I decided to go for the library book first. I could read, Elizabeth Lowell’s Amber Beach any time and then if I liked it share it with my neighbor.

I realize that one of my favorite subjects for book is books. I have a yellowed copy of Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Marley, copyright 1917. Of course mine is a later edition. I’ve read it twice and plan to read it again soon. So far it’s my favorite except for one I had by an author I can’t remember (nor can I recall the title) but I can probably find it again someday if I try. Of course none of them is only about books. They’re about characters and what they do and what happens to them. That’s what I like. If they’re well done they’re the memoirs, too, of the people who compiled them.

Another book I’m thrilled with right now is The Singer Trilogy, by Calvin Miller: the mythic retelling of the story of the New Testament. I guess that makes it about a book, doesn’t it? It consists of Singer, The Song, and The Finale. I loved it so much that I have purchased it on Audible so I can listen to it on my phone. I haven’t read anything that so jolted my soul and spirit or that gave me so much hope and encouragement since I started reading the Bible over 60 years ago. I got, The Singer from the church library discard shelf. I couldn’t believe it had been left there. Was it just for me?

At Calvary sung by Linda Randall

Voracious: yummybooks.com (blogs)

Caution to vegetarians, Ms Nicoletti is a butcher and some pictures on the website would be for other butchers to admire. But those of us whose parent was a butcher can probably either enjoy or overlook them.


28 Jun

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis


In mid May we planted our second garden here is the hills. Last year we grew tomatoes, green peppers, cucumber and herbs. We missed out on most of the harvest due to an unexpected extended vacation. This year we ventured out to add string beans, garlic, squash, red and yellow peppers and added more herbs.

They are all looking great. The string beans are loaded with blooms and have tiny beans. The cucumbers and squash are loaded with bright yellow flowers and the herbs scent the garden. I picked my first tomato this week. It is named Early Girl and she lived up to her name. To me there is nothing any tastier than a fresh sliced tomato, mayo and a dash of salt all on  freshly toasted bread.

Today, as I wielded my hoe, pulling dirt to the green beans, a pleasant hum ran through my heart. I come from farmer stock and it was almost like I could see my ancestors smiles, heads nodding in approval. Do gardeners still pull dirt to the roots of their plants these days? I have no idea but that is what my parents and now that I am gardening, I’m doing it too. 

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