Take a Trip Down County Road 98

Photos of War Eagle Mill from StateoftheOzarks.net

We went there several times to that old mill by the stream. It was on our way – in a round about way – to our grandparents house on the other side of Norfork Lake in Elizabeth, Arkansas.

I always dreaded that trip. It only took 7 hours, but they were the longest hours in my life. The first part of the drive wasn’t too bad, but not far into the Natural State…well, I’m convinced those road building Arkies wanted to make themselves a roller coaster. And they succeeded, as far as I’m concerned! I got motion sick more times than I care to remember.

I remember the War Eagle Mill being an oasis from an age long car ride. We’d get out and stretch our tired legs, look over into the river and then head into The Bean Palace for a hearty lunch.

I don’t recall that beans were a favorite meal of mine as a child, but The Bean Palace made the best bowl of beans I’ve ever had and I loved them. Served along side house coleslaw and a hefty slab of cornbread with butter and honey…what more could a kid want?

Well, maybe we were extraordinary kids…

The Mill has an interesting history that began four years before Arkansas became a state. Built by Sylvanus Blackburn in 1832, it was washed away by floods in 1848 and rebuilt only to find itself in the middle of the Civil War. Grist Mills were targeted during the war since they helped provide food for soldiers. Five of Blackburn’s 8 children joined the Confederacy and the family moved to find safety in Texas. Ironically,  the Confederacy burnt the mill to the ground in 1862. Rebuilt in 1873, it lasted 51 years before being burnt down again. Built again in 1973 it stands as the last remaining grist mill in Arkansas and the only working waterwheel in the nation.

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It must have been the pot of pinto beans I put on the stove to soak… Suddenly, I wanted a warm cup of Bean Palace legumes in hand to reminisce the years gone by. Cornbread with that, and a side of coleslaw. Maybe I have some southern blood in me after all.  Just maybe….

The beans simmered in the crock pot – on low – for a day and a half. Slow cooking at it’s best. The last four hours of cooking, I added smoked turkey bacon, salt, pepper, garlic powder and a few bay leaves.

Mmmm…the smell was amazing! I grabbed our wrinkled, falling-apart, War Eagle Mill Cookbook and found their coleslaw recipe on the back page…well, what is now the back page for our book.

It’s a simple recipe, much like the one we traditionally use. Shredded cabbage and carrots, vinegar, oil, organic cane sugar (Or honey…I like honey better.), salt, pepper, and celery seed. Tangy and sweet, just the way we like it.

I decided to do something different with the cornbread and spooned the batter in a buttered waffle maker. We usually make it in cast iron skillets, but there’s never enough of the crunchy edges to go around.

Smothered with organic butter and honey from local hives. Some dreams come true…

I love how food can take you for a trip down memory lane. One taste or smell can bring back little treasures that have been tucked away in the dusty attics of our brain. Brush off the cobwebs and smile.

What meal do you remember most from your childhood?

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Of Fresh Tomato Bisque and Braces

I never gave much thought to braces. I’ve never wanted them and, to be honest, I wondered why some people did. Their teeth looked fine to me… I guess deep down I thought braces were rather vain.

Everyone needs a fresh perspective at times and, apparently, now is one of those times for me. I got my spacers today and the form for my braces. As I sit here typing away I keep pressing my tongue up against my teeth in hopes of making that awful feeling go away. I tell myself it’s only going to get worse.

“Three days on pain meds” the dentist told me. And I wonder if there isn’t an easier way to do this. I could let this baby canine fall out on it’s own and go with a missing tooth for the rest of my life…but I’m too vain for that. So I go with the pricy, painful braces and the “chain” that will hopefully pull my adult tooth down into the place that it should have occupied 15 years ago.

“What were you thinking Adult Canine? That we wouldn’t notice you never showed up? That you could hide away forever and let life pass you by?”

It’s time to bite the bullet. I dread it. I thought I was fairly good at tolerating pain, but the thought of the impending affliction – along with my now aching teeth – is turning me wuss.

Despite the fact that my tooth hasn’t been extracted yet, that I don’t have the braces on yet and that the chain (I’m picturing a truck hauler chain here. You know, the ones you can only pick up one end at a time.) is not pulling my adult tooth down yet, I have a growing sympathy for anyone that has gone through orthodontic procedures.  Who would have thought that spacers would grow compassion? God uses the small and seemingly insignificant things.

I can do this. I’m preparing my mental attitude.

But more to the point of this blog, I’m planning defense tactics too. Ice Cream, miso soup, smoothies, Blackberry panna cotta and chilled tomato bisque.

I’ve mentioned this bisque before and linked the recipe, but it’s too good not to blog about. And if any of you blog readers are bracing for orthos, and looking for something smooth and cool to eat that isn’t all sweets, you’ll love me for it.

Fresh Tomato Bisque

3 c. tomatoes

1/4 c. raw cashews, soaked in water for 4-6 hours

1/2 c. water

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1 T. olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 T. lemon juice

1 t. honey

2 T. fresh basil

Simply put everything in the blender…

And blend until smooth.

Chill and enjoy at leisure.

Save a jar for tomorrow.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to eat some of Mom’s crusty sourdough bread with this tonight. Perhaps if I soak it in soup long enough…

Penarious Challenge – Dairy and Gluten Free Creamy Potato Soup


The other day we had some of the most delicious tomato soup ever. Sally over at The Spontaneous Hausfrau said I’d want a mason jar of this bisque standing in the fridge, but I didn’t believe her until I tried it. And now…guess what? I really wish I had a jar of Chilled Tomato Bisque in my frig ALL the time! It is so good!

My point in bringing this tomato soup up is not just to rave about how delectable it is, although I could do that for a page or two if you like… This is the recipe that introduced me to my new favorite ingredient – cashew cream.

It’s super easy to make and if you are dairy or gluten free you pretty much NEED the recipe. I’ve been imagining 1, 236 things to make with it throughout this week, so when a friend who is going dairy and gluten free mentioned missing potato soup I knew just what I wanted to try next.

I finally gathered all the ingredients and whipped this soup up in under two hours total – and that included taking pictures along the way!

I’d give this a 5 star rating for 5 reasons –

#1 Mom liked it.

#2 Dad like it.

#3 My sisters like it.

#4 My brothers liked it.

#5 If you can get my put-dairy-in-everything family to like it, it’s got to be good!

So, of course, to start off, you have to make the cashew cream (recipe is in the link above), or have some stashed away in your frig as I did. Yes, it takes some pre-planning, but it’s totally worth it and you can make a big batch to freeze for later.

Here are the basics – Cashew cream, chicken broth, potatoes, garlic, onion and…

Parsley! We have so much parsley in our garden it’s crazy! We now pick it for bouquets around the house. :D

Speaking of bouquets…

These Dahlias are from Mom’s garden, as are the Day Lilies…

I love fresh cut flowers!

Okay, sorry. No more detours, I promise.

Dairy Free Gluten Free Potato Soup

2 T. olive oil

1  onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4-5 c. cubed potatoes

4 c. chicken broth

1/8 c. chopped fresh parsley

1/8 t. garlic powder

3/4 c. cashew cream

salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in oil until golden.

Add potatoes and garlic and saute lightly. Pour in chicken broth and bring to boil.

Cover and cook 30 minutes on med-low, or until potatoes are soft. Add parsley…

…and garlic powder. Turn the heat down to low.

Mash with a potato masher, or if you don’t like chunky, go ahead and give it a whir in the blender. Stir in cashew cream and more broth if you like a thinner consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with smoked salmon and a sprig of dill.

When ever I’m in the process of making a recipe my mind is going 100 miles a minute thinking of all the variations that would go with whatever I’m doing. If you’re like that too (I hope I’m not the only one!) then you probably don’t need the following variations…

Try your favorite herbs in place of, or along with, the parsley – rosemary, thyme, dill…

Stir in some turkey bacon.

Jazz it up with pickled jalapenos.

Or add the traditional chopped celery and carrots when you’re sauteing the onions.

Whether you leave it as is, or give it your own unique twist, I hope you enjoy the flavor of this creamy potato soup. Your family will NEVER guess there are cashews in it. And if they do? Well then…I’m impressed! :D

I leave you now with my favorite dahlia and a printable version of this recipe…

Dairy Free Gluten Free Potato Soup

2 T. olive oil

1  onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4-5 c. cubed potatoes

4 c. chicken broth

1/8 c. chopped fresh parsley

1/8 t. garlic powder

3/4 c. cashew cream

salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in oil until golden. Add potatoes and garlic and saute lightly. Pour in chicken broth and bring to boil. Cover and cook 30 minutes on med-low, or until potatoes are soft. Add parsley and garlic powder. Turn the heat down to low.

Mash with a potato masher, or if you don’t like chunky, go ahead and give it a whir in the blender. Stir in cashew cream and more broth if you like a thinner consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with smoked salmon and a sprig of dill or crumbled turkey bacon and parsley. Enjoy!