Rabbitpatch Apple Dumpling Recipe


I am not sure whether it was “Beginners’ Luck” or what . . . but I made apple dumplings that are good enough to brag about.  I had never even eaten apple dumplings, let alone made them, but I am not a bit sorry, that I tried.  I can hardly wait for my son Brant to visit, for I know this dish will give him  one more reason to come home when he can.  Brant loves apples.

Now the good folks in Pennsylvania, may not consider this dish, true apple dumplings, and it seems they are the experts, but this recipe was everything I hoped it would be.  This is as good of a reason as I know of to cook apples.



1 and 1/2 cups of water                                                                                                                      

1 cup packed brown sugar

4 tbl spoons of butter

a dash of salt

Mix all ingredients and slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  As you do so, for you do not want to leave the stove-  (Butter and sugar will burn if neglected.) -mix the following:

2 cups of self rising flour

1/4 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of milk

2 tbl spoons of melted butter

1 tsp  vanilla extract   ( I tend to “spill”  more, anytime, a recipe calls for vanilla.)

1 cup diced apples

Combine ingredients, saving the apples for last.  Now, drop by spoonfuls in to the sauce.  I turned the heat down a bit, so the boil was slow.  Cover the pot and turn the dumplings after about five minutes.  Cook about five more minutes and remove from heat.  When they are cool enough to eat, do so -and be extra patient so you won’t burn your tongue.  


I used a large skillet, to get the dumplings to cook evenly.  All is not lost, if the dumplings, break as you turn them.  Nobody will care, once they have tasted them.

I took some to Mama and Daddy, while my sweet cousin Sheila was there and a dear friend, Miss Edie.  Nobody complained about anything after we ate  . . .and besides, all dishes are really better, when shared with others.


Scottish Shortbread Cookies-a Recipe


My loyal readers of the “rabbit patch diary”  know full well my plight with baking cookies.  I have had all sorts of disasters.  They have turned out as hard as rocks, or just burnt enough to taste bad.  Other times, they spread into mush.  They have crumbled, cracked and shattered at the first bite.  Often, these catastrophes happened when all you had to do was slice the dough from a refrigerator roll of a pre -made concoction.  I just stopped the nonsense and bought cookies.  Then I became a grandmother- called “Honeybee”,  and that changed everything.  I set out on a mission to bake cookies that would melt in your mouth . . the kind everyone else made. 

Currently, I can make two varieties. One is the “Scottish Short Bread”.   Jenny, has a neighbor from Scotland, that in her words “lives  the way the crow flies”  from Jennys’ house.  She gifted Jenny with  a batch of her short breads, last Christmas and Jenny talked about them all year.  When I met the friendly Scottish lady, I asked her about the recipe.  The next day, she sent a batch and I too thought, they were the best short bread I had ever eaten.  

There are but three ingredients in these delicacies. This in itself is a wonder, if you consider the ingredients in the store bought varieties.  I can give testimony, that the cookies keep well, for at least several days.  I have a vintage ceramic cookie box, not air tight, and I ate the last one this morning for breakfast.

The Recipe

*Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 cup butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together,then add flour. The dough may be a bit sticky, so I floured a surface to roll them on. I made mine every bit of a 1/4 inch thick and used a cookie cutter.  I suspect you could simply cut them in squares, as well.  I cooked mine on a lightly floured stone, but I am a novice and need all the help I can get.  The recipe says to bake for 14-16 minutes.  I took mine out a few minutes early, before they were a “golden brown”, for I was terrified I would burn them.  At the first bit of golden I saw, I snatched them out-and they were fine.

I made heart shaped cookies, that were a good size and  the recipe yielded about twenty cookies.  It was hard to tell, as we sampled as each batch came out of the oven.

Cookies,like everything else, are better when shared, so take some to your neighbors,  who live “In the way the crow flies”.

Best wishes from the rabbit patch,

love, Michele

Tea Cakes-the recipe


Some of my favorite hours have always been in the kitchen.  As a small child, I spent a good deal of my childhood in fields and woods.  If I wasn’t there, I was probably playing in a barn . . .If I was in the house, I was most likely in the kitchen.  

The women in my family cooked.  In those days, processed food was in its’ early stages.  I never saw things like “instant potatoes”, cake mixes and “Hamburger Helper”.  Of course, this meant someone was usually in the kitchen . . . peeling potatoes, often.

The  yellow and chrome kitchen table, in my grandmamas’ house,  was the best place I knew of to tell secrets or  to solve a mystery. I also could count on someone being in the kitchen, in the circumstances of bee stings and skinned knees-or when I couldn’t button a dolls’ dress. “The heart of the home”-was always in the kitchen. Maybe my love affair with kitchens spawned from those days. . . when Mama, Grandmama, and Aunt Josie were making things like banana pudding or rolling out dough for chicken and pastry.

Why cookies, of all things, have remained such a plight for me, is beyond me, but for the love of a grandchild,  I will not give up.   I can at least say now, I can bake “tea cakes” .  . .and Lyla loves them. 

“Tea cakes”  are a shortbread type of cookie, but more “cake like” in texture. They are often paired with iced tea, in the south, but they go very well with coffee, too.  They are a simple concoction of a very few ingredients, unlike “store bought” cookies, that lists dozens of artificial substances, and do not lend the heavenly aroma to the kitchen, as the tea cakes do.

1 cup soft butter

1 1/2 cup of sugar ( I tend to spill just a little sugar more, in the bowl)

1 tsp vanilla  ( I spill vanilla too)

2 eggs

1/4 cup of milk

3 cups self-rising flour

Cream butter,  sugar, eggs and vanilla together.  Add flour and milk, slowly.  Form dough into 2 loaves, and chill in freezer for about 20 minutes.  By hand, form the chilled dough into small balls.  Bake at 375 degrees, on a lightly floured cookie sheet-(I use a pizza stone), for ten minutes.  Do not brown the cookies.  This will make about forty cookies.  I have halved the recipe, successfully.  The cookies keep well for several days.

You will not need to ring a dinner bell, when tea cakes are cooking.  


Cheese Biscuits from the Rabbit Patch Kitchen-a Recipe


Some people call them cheese “straws”, sometimes they are called cheese “biscuits”  If you pipe them, they are straws, if you make them into little cookies, then they are biscuits.  Whatever you call them, they are are a simple concoction and taste delightful.

Years ago, these biscuits were served at every bridal and baby shower, including my own.  What sweet memories I have of small gatherings in church fellowship halls or in the dining rooms of neighbors, celebrating a new baby or the union of young fresh faced couples.  

Neighborhood ladies made bowls of chicken salad and pimento cheese, to be served in little sandwiches.  Someone made tiny cake squares.  There were always nuts-usually peanuts or pecans, homemade mints, that were so creamy, in pastel colors and a bowl of punch.  Often the same lady came to be known for a certain dish and provided that-but the legend in the Old Ford community, that I grew up in was Shirley Cherry.  Miss Shirley could do it all and eventually catered the affairs altogether.    She also branched out into weddings.

Keep in mind, that these occasions were a far cry more simple, than the current trends, when I was young.  They were very personal gatherings with little variation from one another.  Somehow, as grand as these events have become, I think something beautiful has been lost.

Pleas note, that this recipe for cheese biscuits should not be confused with the large fluffy biscuits, southeners are apt to eat for breakfast or with fried chicken for supper.  This recipe yields small “cookie like” wafers.


1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup rice krispies cereal (any rice cereal can be used)

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

a dash or so of crushed red pepper

Combine all ingredients, by hand and form into balls, to be flattened, with a moist fork.  Bake at 325 degrees for 12-14 minutes.


Now, Miss Shirley did not put the rice cereal in hers, and they were good anyway. . .also they are always better when shared with a loved one . . .or when it snows.


Snow Cream and Cookies


This is no ordinary day at the rabbit patch, for snow blankets the territory.  School was dismissed early, yesterday-and so all afternoon, I waited for snow.  It has been more than five years, since I have seen more than a scant dusting.  By around four o’clock, it was sleeting and I feared we would have to settle for an icy rain.  Around nine, it started snowing at last.  I was sorry not to be able to watch it fall as that is such a lovely sight, and so very rare in these parts, but I consoled myself  that “Joy would come in the morning”.  I was up by four am .

Snow was everywhere.  There was wind and it caused the snow to swirl wildly.  Such conditions are unheard of here . . and so I woke Christian.  I could not stand thinking he would miss this event.  Christian  has stopped me from kneading bread to see the moon rise and so it did not seem the least bit odd, to wake him under the circumstances.  We stayed up a while, and then went back to sleep until morning light.

Temperatures are supposed to remain just below freezing  until Monday, so I am prepared to  stay on the rabbit patch for a while.  Of course, snow does not come without a cost, it seems.  I will need to replace a pipe in the laundry room, as a chunk the size of a large egg, broke off, due to ice.  Today, the hot water is frozen up and the washing machine works when it cares to. 

Christopher Robin, does not share the enthusiasm for “the winter wonderland” that we do.  His curiosity is satisfied by peering out the windows.  Cash, on the other hand, dashed madly about and even rode a snow board!  (left over from ski trips).  Boxers are known as “eternal puppies” and Cash was living proof of that today.

It is my great pleasure to announce, that I made cookies this morning-soft cookies, that tasted  good enough to warrant second servings.  I made “tea cakes” , an old southern variety.  They are like a shortbread cookie and for a while, the kitchen smelled, like quite a baker, lived here.  I so hope, it was not “beginners’ luck”.  It just seems shameful that a “Honeybee”,  (or a grandmother) wouldn’t be a good cookie baker.

It was still snowing in Elizabeth City, when  I talked to Jenny, in the late morning.  They are likely to get some snow every winter, but not by the foot,  as they had so far. Lyla was determined to build a snowman and so Will helped her out. I am trying to muster the courage to make snow lanterns, but the wind is something fierce and very uninviting. 

I did collect snow for snow cream.  It snowed very few years in my childhood, but when it did, we made snow cream.  Snow cream is a simple concoction of snow, vanilla, cream   and sugar.   It is made according to ones’ taste and can be made by the bowl or in a batch. Powdery snow is the best kind and we were not short on supply of that, today.  I suppose all sorts of variations would work .  Honey could replace sugar-so could maple syrup and I am sure you could really add whatever your heart desired . . . but I made mine just like the kind I grew up with, today.

I always think of Frosts’ Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, when t does snow, and I did so today.   I understand  “stopping to watch woods, fill up with snow”.  It is as good a reason to stop, as I know of.  

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Rabbit Patch Cornbread, Since You Asked


Fried cornbread is a staple in the south.  It may be elsewhere too -and masquerading  by some other name, for all I know.  If you serve barbecue, you have to fry cornbread, too.  It also pairs well with cabbage and collards.   . .and ham.  Many readers asked what fried cornbread was.  The rabbit patch does it this way.

The recipe is quite simple, but cooking cornbread is not for the “faint of heart”.  Do not even think about leaving the stove once you start-and you can not make this ahead of time, either.  Cornbread does not keep.  I I have yet to find any use for left over fried cornbread.  Do not think this particular cornbread is ideal for stiffing a turkey. . . it is not.  It does not crumble and is likely to toughen.

I do not know that cornbread is healthy, but I do know it has never killed anybody.  It is a comfort food and sometimes that is the biggest benefit of a meal.

I will go ahead and state, I rarely measure anything-unless I am baking bread. . .so good luck.   In  a skillet pour vegetable oil so that it covers the bottom graciously.  There should be enough oil so that some of it will rise above the batter.  While the oil is heating, mix  about a cup of  corn meal-I like stone ground, but have even used self rising.  Thin cornbread is very desirable and most likely to occur using stone ground.  Some of you will be in a bind right now, as I hear this product is not found every where.  I add a good bit of salt, as cornmeal is bland, and a generous amount of black pepper.  You should be able to see the pepper when you have mixed these dry ingredients.  Now you add hot water and stir as you do so.  The consistensy should be more loose than cake batter and fluid enough to easily pour.  Do not concern yourself with doubt about this-Whatever the appearance, the batter will fry.   I usually add an egg now, so the concoction binds and does not shatter into pieces when cooked.   The oil should be hot, to the point it about worries you, when you pour  the batter.  I make mine like the size of small pancakes.  I look for bubbles to form,  to know when to turn it, just as if it really were pancakes.  This should be a quick process -and do not answer the phone, while you are cooking.  Drain on paper towels and call everybody to the table.

My mama can bake cornbread that turns out about as crispy as the fried.  I can not, though I aim to learn.  Mamas’ turns out thin and full of flavor and gosh it is probably easier on the nerves.  When I do I will let you know . . .you  just have to find cornmeal.  In October, when it is dark by supper, and the air is chilled . . corn bread is especially good.



Jo Dee’s “Indoor-Outdoor Chicken


Jo Dee is one of my dearest friends.  She is dependable, trust-worthy and does not mind my flaws-She is also a good cook.  Ever since, I bragged on her barbecue chicken, folks have asked for the recipe.  I believe when you find something good, you ought to share it-and in that case, this chicken recipe should be shared.  Everyone who has tried it, agrees that this is the best barbecue  chicken, they know of.  Thank goodness Jo Dee wrote her recipe down for a friend that we both love- so I can give the proper details on  the preparation.  Jo Dee used leg quarters.

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Salt chicken on both sides and place in a casserole dish.  With great generosity, sprinkle lemon pepper and crushed red pepper over the chicken.  Jo Dee drizzles worcestershire sauce over each piece, next.  Use about a 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vinegar and pour over the chicken.  Bake an hour, then turn chicken over and bake another hour.


The sauce will cook into the chicken and not “sit on it” as most sauces do.  This chicken reminds me of the barbecue chicken  from my childhood, when sauce did not come in a bottle.  I remember eating my grandmothers’ barbecue chicken at a yellow chrome kitchen table in a small farmhouse .  This recipe brings back those fond memories, in the sixties, when all I had to do was come when they called me, to eat a good meal.  Jo Dee did not cover her chicken, so neither did I.  It turned out moist and is fit for Sunday Dinner or anytime you are having company.  Remember, that any dish, when shared with loved ones, is always better .

Apple Salad-according to Aunt Agnes

My  great Aunt Agnes could play the piano like she was born to do so.  It seemed as natural to her as breathing.   Her daughter,  Faith can too. Aunt Agnes loved flowers and  she was as pretty as any  flower she grew.  Her trademark smile and dangling earrings charmed everybody.  My mom inherited Aunt Agnes’ good looks.

Aunt Agnes was quite a cook, too.  Her recipes are about sacred in the family.  I ate many good meals in her big kitchen.  She fed her five children and the farmhands every day at noon.  Do not think for  minute, we ate sandwiches.  She filled the huge table and the top of the “deep freeze” with all sorts of southern delicacies -all made from scratch. . .  At Christmas  she made an apple salad.

My mom had a notion for it this year at Christmas-so I attempted to concoct one like the one Aunt Agnes made.  I will tell you the ingredients sounded like a terrible combination and I just knew it would spoil my own reputation as a decent cook.  Still, mama wanted it-and it was Christmas, after all- so I  gathered the ingredients and hoped for the best . . and let me tell you it worked.  

Of course, I had to taste as I went along with it.  What a pleasant surprise I had, when it was better than “fit to eat”.  It was good.  It was so good, that I have made  it since and plan to again tonight.  Of course, as always, I do not measure ingredients (unless it is a new bread).  The good news is that it turns out anyway.  The quantity is easily adaptable.  I sent Miss Claudia a single serving and have not heard a complaint, so I suppose , measuring is not of necessity. 

  • 4 or 5 large red skinned apples                                                                                          one stalk of celery, diced very fine                                                                                        large handful of raisins-depends on your taste                                                              large handful of  roasted pecans ( you could use walnuts-maybe almonds)       a good dash of brown sugar     

Cut unpeeled apple into bite size pieces.  Mix ingredients and  brace yourself.  Use a heaping tablespoon or more of mayonnaise combined with about a cup of whipped cream to coat the mixture.  It sounds awful,  but do it anyway -you won’t be sorry.  I do not make this too much ahead of time, because of the apples turning brown, and me being out of lemon juice.  

I would think a number of variations could work with this salad-maybe cinnamon or maple would be a nice flavor addition-and some may try yogurt instead of mayonnaise. I think this would be a good side served with pork, especially.  I also think it could be considered a light dessert.

I will tell you from experience, that dishes in general, taste better in the company of loved ones.


Pimento Cheese at the Rabbit Patch

Pimento cheese is well known in the south, though it’s origin is in New York.  It seems that Georgia started a large canning facility for the sweet red pimentos in the 1920’s and the south took full advantage of that.  All I really know for sure is that the rabbit patch loves it-and pimento cheese is as easy to make as it is to eat.  There are many variations-and you can add what you see fit.  Bacon bits and pickles are commonly used add ins, but we like the basic recipe below-

16 oz. of sharp shredded cheese

8 oz. diced pimentos ( you can lessen or add more as you prefer)

mayonnaise, salt, pepper, garlic-all your preference on quantity

a dash of mustard

This spread is great on crackers for a snack or in a sandwich, it makes a meal.  If there’s a chill in the air , serve it like a grilled cheese-you won’t be sorry.  At one time, before occasions got so fancy, little pimento cheese sandwiches were served at every bridal or baby shower I ever went to-including my own. And beware-store bought is not the same thing.


The rabbit patch serves this when good friends come by-and it’s always better that way.. . of course, it is great for a picnic too.


* From “The Color of Summer”


Cucumber Salad


Cucumbers aren’t just for pickling or to be tossed in a salad in an unimportant fashion. The lowly cucumber has a salad all its’ own and worth bragging about.  I do not remember a summer that this wasn’t on the table.  Grandmama had a yellow kitchen table-one of those chrome ones that are considered fancy now .  The cucumber salad had every bit the importance of the salt and pepper on that table-it does go with everything. Here is the very simple recipe-


Wash and remove most of the skin from the cucumbers, then slice them as thin as you can.  Chop a tomato in small pieces and add to the cucumbers. Stir in mayonnaise as you desire, but it ought to almost coat the mixture.  Season with garlic, salt and pepper.

Sometimes, radishes were added, thinly sliced.  I really like this combination.  You can also add onion-I like that too.  I have used dill.  My friend, Jo Dee says her mom added celery seed.  The lowly cucumber makes the salad, whatever you decide.  Remember that it will be better if you share it !


*from “The green Grass Grows”

Upside-down Apple Cake-Best served at Sunday Dinner


We grow apples on the rabbit patch. I have needed to get pretty creative, when it’s time to pick. You don’t have to have fresh apples for this easy recipe-canned apples work fine, and you can eliminate a bit of work by using them.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

If you are using fresh fruit, you start here- peel about 5 apples, depending on the size.  You choose the variety.  Cut apples into bite-sized pieces. I use a cast iron skillet, but use what you have.  Cover apples with water, not any more and simmer.  You are about on your own here-but I use about 1/2 stick of butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and cinnamon to taste.  I also like to toss butterscotch  morsels in, if I have them-not the whole bag, but a handful.  When the kitchen is filled with the smell of it, and the apples are soft-they are ready. Pour  apples into a greased 11×13 pan, making sure to spread it evenly.* If you are using canned apples, then this is your first step.

For the cake, you can use a boxed mix- I have used yellow, spice and caramel with success. Just mix the cake up as directed on the box. * I use milk instead of water, but you do as you please.  Pour the batter right on top of the apples-try to cover the apples as best you can-but don’t worry , it’s going to bake like it ought to even if you have some bare apples.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Bake at 350 as the box says, for about 30 minutes. Let it cool a bit-though you are not going to want to wait.  When you serve it, turn the pieces over, so the apples will be on top.

If you have vanilla ice-cream, this is a good time to use it- and remember, this cake is always better if you share it.


*From “On Any Given Sunday”-May 2016


Peach Cobbler


It’s hard to beat a peach cobbler.  This is a simple recipe and suitable for a variety of fruits. I have made it with apples and blueberries.  If I don’t grow them, then I buy at the farmer’s market or a roadside stand.  This is an easy dessert to fix, but fitting for a Sunday dinner.


 Preheat oven to 425 degrees.    Wash and prepare fruit.  Peel if needed, and cut up large fruits.  Put in a bowl with just enough water to cover well and use sugar to sweeten as needed.  I usually use about half of a cup, but this step depends on the sweetness of the particular fruit. *If you are using canned fruit, then do not add sugar.

Let this sit at room temperature, while you mix the following:       4ad1f4e8ab3d17165a80de6a5bd10977

   1 cup sugar                                                                                                                                                       1 cup milk  ( I use whole or almond)                                                                                                      1 cup bread flour or all purpose-you can use self-rising, just increase the water in the                                                                    fruit mixture.                                                                                 

Mix well with a fork and pour into a greased baking dish.  Pour fruit mixture on top of the batter-no need to mix.  It will bake as it ought to-Bake at 425 degrees til the top  begins to brown-usually about 30 minutes.

I like to put a little butter on top after removing from the oven.

It’s better when you share it with others.  *Please note that the size of the pan you use, may alter the cooking time.  I use an 11 x 13.




  • From-“Somewhere North of the Moon”-June 2016