Thursday, May 18

Sweet Smoky Barbecue Sauce

Summer is just around the corner and we love to barbecue!  My husband even bought a smoker 2 summers ago and we love that too!
Years ago my sister Debra and her husband Phil came over on a lazy summer Saturday to show us how to make our own homemade barbecue sauce.  
They brought all the ingredients with them and we spent the day mixing, stirring, simmering and tossing back a few cold adult beverages.  
Once the barbecue sauce was thick enough, we generously brushed it on ribs and had a wonderful backyard barbecue.
I didn’t write down each ingredient as my sister added it to the sauce, nor could I have, without just guessing at the correct measurements.  My sister had a way of cooking without a recipe and everything every time turned out delicious. Let me tell you, I am not that person.  
I lost my sister a few years back but am still trying to recreate some of her recipes.  One of our favorites I was able to somewhat copy is Debra’s Stuffed Hot Peppers.
My sister Debra and her son Adam
BBQ Sauce History:
Sauces used while smoking and marinating meat have been around for centuries.  Most sauces had a base of butter or vinegar with an added tomato sauce or tomato paste base coming much later.
The oldest commercially made barbecue sauce still made began in 1917 when Adam Scott opened a barbecue restaurant in Goldsboro, NC. It was served in his restaurant until his son, A. Martel Scott, Sr., spiced up the mixture a bit in 1946. Scott's Family Barbecue Sauce is still available today and is an East Carolina classic.

Louis Maull of St. Louis was the first to bottle barbecue sauce, beating Heinz to the punch by 22 years. Heinz may have been the first in broad national distribution, but not the first in a bottle.

In 1897 Maull began selling groceries from a horse-drawn wagon. He incorporated in 1905 and began manufacturing a line of condiments by 1920.  Maull introduced his barbecue sauce in 1926. It became so popular that it’s about all they make nowadays.

Dry Rub:
One day, while searching through recipes on the Internet for dry rub mixes I found one that sounded really good on The Yummy Life Blog.  Her recipe brought up lots of old memories of my sister and her BBQ sauce and is what gave me the idea to attempt my own sauce.  
It’s been 4 or 5 years now of mixing, adding and testing and my sauce just keeps improving, enough so that I think it’s ready to share. 
There are tons of barbecue sauces out there with everyone making it a little different.  This recipe can be made sweet, tangy, spicy or whatever combination you like best.  We like them all: tangy, sweet and a little smoky, but make the sauce how you like it. 

One year I even entered my barbecue sauce in the Ohio State Fair and won a blue ribbon!
This sauce was a blue ribbon winner!

Variations and Tips:
  • Use only real ketchup for the best results.  Read the labels, most ketchup is now high fructose corn syrup, not real ketchup. 
  • The same is true for maple syrup.  Use the real stuff, not fake for best results.
  • Use real raw honey for the best results (yikes, broken record).
  • The directions for mixing together the spices is here:  Dry Rub Mix
  • If you want more heat, add more cayenne pepper.
  • If you want it less sweet, decrease the honey and maple syrup.
  • Don’t like the smoky flavor, leave it out.

Cooking the sauce in a crockpot is easy and time-saving

The great thing about barbecue sauce is you can play around with it to get the desired flavor you want.  What is it you buy most at the grocery store?  Sweet? Spicy?  Then stick with what you love.
Because of the added vinegar, this barbecue sauce can be water bathed. (See Ball Blue Book, page 54 in the older book and page 89 in the newer one). 

This recipe makes approximately 7 pints, so enough to fill a canner. 

Messy work filling the jars

Homemade Barbecue Sauce


1- 64-ounce bottle and 1- 28 oz bottle of real Ketchup (or amounts close to that)
2 ¾ cups cider vinegar
4 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 cup raw honey
1 cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon maple flavoring (optional)
3 - 4 tablespoons hickory liquid smoke (optional)
2 tablespoons molasses
½ cup dry rub mix (all the spices)

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan or Crockpot. I always cook and simmer mine in a large Crockpot.  It’s so easy and I don’t worry about scorching or burning.  And I can let it simmer while I go do something else!
Stir well to mix all the spices then bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 to 4 hours or to desired thickness. Stir occasionally as it cooks.  You can put the lid ajar to allow the steam to escape if need be to help with cooking down and thickening a little more. 

If canning, make sure to wipe the jar rim


Because of the added vinegar, this barbecue sauce can be water bathed. (See Ball Blue Book, page 54 in the older book and page 89 in the newer book).
Prepare water bath canner.
Wash and sterilize mason jars and keep hot.
Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving a ½ inch head space.  Wipe jar rims.
Apply the two piece lid, tightening to finger tip tight.
Place jars in canner and make sure water covers the jars by 1 inch.  

Because of the vinegar, the sauce is safe to water bath can
Process covered, over medium-high heat, bringing water to a rolling boil.  Timing begins when water begins to boil.  Process half pints and pints for 20 minutes in boiling water canner.
Remove from canner and allow to cool for 24 hours without disturbing. DO NOT tighten bands. 

Check that all lids are sealed by pressing the center of the lid to make sure it is concave. Wipe off jars and then store in a cool dark pantry.

Small Batch Barbecue Sauce
You can use this recipe to do a little experimenting on your own to come up with just the right flavor for you, before making a large batch. These measurements are a guideline.  Add or remove spices, etc to your taste. 


2 cups ketchup
½ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
2 tablespoons raw honey
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
½ teaspoon maple flavoring
1 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
½ to 1 teaspoon molasses
2 tablespoons dry rub mix

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan or Crockpot. Stir well. Over medium heat, bring to boil; reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 2 to 4 hours. Stir occasionally as it cooks.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Will store for several weeks.

We use this barbecue sauce on meats but the kids like to mix it up to make a copycat Raising Cane's sauce. 


Hurrah, Barbecue season is here!


Thursday, May 4

The U.P. Pasty

The hubby and I love to travel and although we take an occasional week long trips, my favorite trips are just 3-day weekend adventures. Living in Ohio we are centrally located near numerous beautiful states with lots to see and explore.

One of our favorite states to spend a weekend in is Michigan. There are tons of lighthouses, wineries, bodies of water and beaches, ATV and snowmobile trails, historic sites, beautiful scenery, and tree lined winding roads.

A couple other trips we have taken to Michigan are Holland, Michigan's Tulip Festival, and a Lake Superior Circle Tour Camping Trip.

On one summer weekend trip, while touring wineries,  we stopped at a little roadside vegetable stand and diner. We noticed many signs advertising “pasties” (pronounced pass-tee) as we came into town, but were just not sure what they were.
We ordered one at this little roadside diner and I fell in love!
Of course, I had to immediately talk to the cook and get the entire 411 on Pasties!

Monday, March 13

Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage

A traditional St. Patrick's Day dish I make every year. 
But first, what is Corned Beef?
Corned beef is made from a beef brisket that is cured or pickled in Brine. Brine is salt water.

In North America, corned beef dishes are associated with traditional Irish cuisine. However, there is considerable debate about the association of the corned beef and cabbage dish with Ireland.

In the 1800's, corned beef was used as a substitute for bacon by Irish-American immigrants because it was cheap and considered a luxury in Ireland. Corned beef and cabbage is really the Irish-American version of the Irish dish of bacon and cabbage.

Wait, bacon and cabbage?!?!  Well, now that's on my list to make!

Thursday, February 23

The Longest Yard Sale in the World

The 127 Yard Sale
The weather has been in the 60's here in Ohio and spring is in the air so yep, I'm daydreaming about gardening and yard sales!!

The World's Longest Yard Sale is also known as The 127 Yard Sale or The 127 Corridor Sale and is a 4-day event every year. The dates are always the first Thursday of the month of August, from Thursday to Sunday.  And that's 4 whole days of yard sale heaven!
If you are a yardsaler, antiquer, flea-marketer, thrift store shopper or anything in-between, you will love this!
The 127 Yard Sale covers 690 miles of sales, through six states, from Addison, Michigan to Gadsden, Alabama and boasts thousands of vendors every year.
And it's even been featured on HGTV!

Friday, February 17

Texas State Flag Quilt

Click the photo to view larger.  
My daughter Jami and her husband Donnie and the kids moved to Texas for a job in 2009. I hate that they're so far away (I'm in Ohio) and that I don't get to see them much. But we have taken numerous trips to Texas and we think it's a nice state to visit. We've even been to the Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll in Dallas.

I have been making quilts for family members for the last year so decided to make Jami and Donnie one for Christmas gift.

I searched Pinterest for ideas and knew as soon as I saw it that the Texas State Flag would be the perfect quilt for them. And besides, patchwork is my favorite quilt pattern.  I always seem to be drawn to it the most, even before making quilts myself. Of all the quilts I've purchased over the years, I have the most of the Patchwork pattern. It just feels very homey to me and very “usable.”

Monday, February 13

Best Ever Monster Cookies

I make these cookies for different holidays, so this week, they're for Valentines Day!

Monster Cookies are not new and the recipes for making them are endless. Probably 95% of my cookies are homemade, but sometimes you just need a quick and easy recipe. 
I decided to come up with my own version of Monster Cookies which are easy and great to throw together when we have unexpected visitors or to serve at club meetings or any other last minute function I need to take something to.
For me, there will always be room in my recipe collection for a few super easy and fast recipes for busy days.

They're called Monster Cookies, I believe, because it's easier than saying “peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal M & M super yummy cookies!”

Besides easy, did I mention they're a wonderful tasting soft chewy moist delicious cookie?

Monday, January 9

The Mercantile

A few years back I received The Pioneer Woman's first cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, as a gift for Christmas. 
I love it and have since bought for myself or received as gifts all her other cookbooks!
The Pioneer Woman or Ree Drummond also has her own blog and recently opened a shop called The Mercantile in her hometown of Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Ree and her husband Ladd purchased an old red brick building in downtown Pawhuska and she had it completely remodeled.  And the results are stunning. I just love old red brick buildings and am always so happy to see them rescued from demolition.

According to The Pioneer Woman's website, the building was originally a mercantile beginning in 1910 and was known as the Osage Mercantile.
It was a place for trading goods and browsing. Ree and her family wanted to honor that legacy by recreating that shopping experience with hints to an earlier time in small town America.

Monday, December 19

Fran's Holiday Cheese Ball Recipe

Cranberry coated Cheese Ball
We've purchased or made from scratch and tried many different types of cheese balls.  A cheese ball is nothing more than a mixture of cheeses, maybe chopped veggies and a few spices rolled into a ball and served as a dip with crackers.

It's an appetizer that has been in and out of popularity many times but still seems to hang in there.  Even though a cheese ball may be considered sort of retro by some, it's one appetizer you can be sure of.  And there's an entire book devoted to it.  The book, Great Balls of Cheese by Michelle Buffardi has more than 50 savory and sweet cheese ball recipes!

This cheese ball recipe is our favorite and was created by my sister Frances. It has great flavor and can be easily changed to make many different cheese balls.

My sister Fran is a wonderful cook and I have been lucky enough to acquire a few of her recipes. She even wins numerous first place awards and ribbons (plus second and thirds) every year for her desserts at the Ohio State Fair!
Here are a few ways we have slightly altered this recipe in the past.

Monday, December 12

Cookie Cutter Christmas Ornaments

I make Christmas ornaments every year for my kids and now my grandkids and to give as gifts. It started out as making ornaments only for my kids, but then I started making two or three extra to give as gifts, and that has now grown into a yearly Christmas Ornament Exchange!

For me, it takes lots of planning and looking to find just the right ornament I want to make.
A few I've made in the past are Vintage Paper Ornaments, Vacation or Beach Ornaments with sand and shells from St. Augustine, Florida, a Flag of Ohio ornament and Felt Snowman ornaments.

And last year I created ornaments using vintage cookie cutters.
I was in a beautiful little antique store and gift shop in Grove City, Ohio and found a basket full of cookie cutters for $1.00 each.
I decided to use them to make little vintage – Victorian looking ornaments.
I of course, kept the old cookie cutters I didn't already have and added them to my collection.

Thursday, December 8

Elizabeth's Breakfast Casserole

I created this Breakfast Casserole by changing a recipe I found in an old Betty Crocker's Bisquick Cookbook years and years ago.  The original recipe was for an Impossible Taco Pie or Impossible Seafood Pie, something like that.
And we seem to go back and forth on the name, either calling it a Breakfast Casserole or a Breakfast Quiche.

I usually make this recipe around the Holidays, for Thanksgiving morning and Christmas and New Year's Day. It's easy to make, a breeze to serve and clean up and it can be made for a few guests or a house full.