It’s my favorite part of summer. Finally, we have enough fresh vegetables to live off of them for the foreseeable future. So, here is a family favorite that we’ve enjoyed for summers as long as I can remember.

I know, it’s not the prettiest; but wow is it good. We talked about it last night; maybe try it over egg noodles. That would be delish.

Eggplant Casserole

3 – 4 eggplants, peeled, cubed, and boiled

1 pound lean hamburger meat

1/2 onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 bell pepper, chopped and seeded

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 teaspoon Cavender’s Greek seasoning

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

After boiling the eggplant, drain them and make sure all the excess water is removed. Brown the hamburger meat with the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Mix with the eggplant, soup, and greek seasoning. Pour into greased casserole dish and top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.

Yes. You read that correctly. I’m going through a bit of a ghost phase right now. As you know, I’ve taken to the podcast world full steam ahead and have been looking for some type of paranormal (slash) creepy ghosts (slash) true haunting story. However, the only ones I was finding were kind of cheesy; and after a few minutes, I would find myself changing the “channel.”

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However, a few weeks ago, I found one that was pretty amazing. It’s called Family Ghosts, and it tells a different story each week about a story that haunts a particular family, including two stories that haunt the host. I was hooked and quickly devoured it. Thankfully, Season 2 will be out this fall.

While ghosts are in the title, it’s not really filled with ghost stories. It’s more of things that plague you or gnaw at you from your past. Give it a listen if you like deep dark secrets with a side of gossip.

Another key point in my ghost phase took place last weekend here in Natchez. With the help of the Mississippi Paranormal Society, we at the Natchez Garden Club were able to host a paranormal tour and ghost hunting evening at Magnolia Hall. If you are familiar with Magnolia Hall’s history, you know that the home’s builder, Thomas Henderson, died in his bedroom on the first floor and still haunts it today. What I didn’t know is that more than just Mr. Henderson haunt this mansion’s halls. We met several children figures Friday night who seems to be in rather playful moods. They were playing with the light devices we had in the rooms, coming through the speakers we were using, and telling us about themselves in little broken phrases and words. I will say that I was thoroughly creeped out in the beginning; and by the time I left, I was ready to plan my next ghost adventure.

 

If you missed out on our first hunting experience, we’ve got a plan to have the team down again in the next few months. So, follow Natchez Garden Club on Facebook to keep an eye out for that event.

Well, the parents went berry picking this week and came home with quite the bounty. Luckily, Mom is good at experimenting; so we enjoyed Blackberry Cobbler for supper.

Blackberry Cobbler

4 cups blackberries

1 2/3 cups sugar (divided)

Juice half lemon

2 cups Bisquick

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups milk

Cook down the blackberries in water with 1 cup of sugar and the lemon juice. Mix together the Bisquick, vanilla, sugar, and milk. Pour in the bottom of a greased baking dish, spoon in the blackberry mixture, and top with pads of butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly and the “crust” is golden brown. Serve warm with a heaping spoonful of vanilla ice cream.

Delta Brick

This past weekend, I was able to spend time with some of my favorite people from those college years. They are the people that met me as a shy freshman, molded me into what you see today, and keep me coming back to the now bustling Mississippi Delta over and over again.

Not only did I get to see some of the Tri Deltas that I spent many a day and night with drinking too much, staying up too late, and sometimes talking about absolutely nothing with, but I also spent some time Friday afternoon with my best friend’s two little girls.

When I was in graduate school, Addelyn was born and was the perfect little baby doll that we all got to play with, teach things, and learn things from. I taught her about The Family Stone while reading the classics to her, and she taught me that no matter how many times I crawl around on the floor for her, she’s not going to crawl herself until she’s ready. A few years later after I moved home, her little sister Avery came to play. This past October I got to spend a little time with this adorable blond haired, blue eyed girl. She’s sweet as pie and loves a good snuggle. Basically, I couldn’t drive fast enough Friday to get to Cleveland so I could see these two (and their mom and dad).

So what did we do on Friday? We baked a chocolate pie. Addelyn went to Kroger with us to pick up all the ingredients; we picked up Avery from daycare; and we headed home to get to work in the kitchen. They were eager to help; and somehow, I was patient enough to let them. Addelyn slowly stirred the chocolate and butter on the stove while Avery helped measure out the sugar and vanilla and even cracked an egg for me. They both helped me temper the eggs with the hot chocolate and pour the mixture into the crust. While they weren’t as patient for the baking to finish up, they did love the outcome that night after dinner.

To date, it’s one of the sweetest chocolate chess pies I’ve made; and I didn’t even have a bite.

A La Mode

I’m halfway to the Delta and can’t wait to see some flat land. I’m going to get to see some of my favorite people, have a fantastic day with my first borns (i.e. my best friend’s kids), and possibly find my way out to McCarty’s in the process.

However, let me share a little recipe with you for the weekend to give a try. We had some extra apples lying around (a.k.a. my Costco fetish paid off), so mom concocted this fabulous pie for us.

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Quick Apple Pie

10 – 12 small apples, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 stick butter

Pre-made pie crusts

Line a pie plate with a pie crust, add the apple pieces. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and top with pads of the butter. Top with another pie crust and cut vents in the top. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 350 degrees (or until the crust in golden brown). Serve warm with ice cream.

So I’m podcasting away on my weekly drives and have gone through MANY true crime series in the past few weeks. However, I’ve been on the lookout for some more conspiracy-theory based or paranormal based series that would not be too creepy to keep me up at night. Luckily, one of my lovely co workers shared a couple of options with me, one of which I started this morning.

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Limetown

This fiction-based podcast is one that seems to be taking a turn towards The Giver. I’m 3 episodes in and rather hooked. Give it a listen, I’m sure I will have follow ups as I get further in and make up my own mind if this actually is fiction or not. You just never these days what people in the backwoods of the south are up to.

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S Town

This one. I burned through it quickly. I’ve also done some research to see what these people from backwoods Alabama looked like. Wow. Not what I had in mind while listening. I don’t want to give anything away, but what you start listening to and hearing turns quickly and becomes much more intense. You really have to listen to this one. It’s perfect for the dark and twisty.

Y’all. My mom can make a birthday cake. While the actual cake may be a box version of whatever yellow cake she likes, that icing is what makes it sing. It’s creamy, sweet, and perfectly chocolate.

This week, we celebrated my sweet cousin Kari’s entrance into her thirties. But, with two days in Baton Rouge this week, baking wasn’t in the cards for me. Thankfully, Mom came to the rescue and whipped up her signature cake.

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Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

2/3 cup Crisco (butter or regular)

1-pound box powdered sugar

2 – 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 cup water (for mixing)

For a lighter chocolate, use 2 tablespoons of cocoa. For a darker chocolate, use 3 or 4. Beat all ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth.  More water can be added if needed.