“Perennials” Anybody?


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Echinacea purpurea ‘Julia’

This time of year echinaceas are on my mind.  They’re not only a great perennial (my current favorite is ‘Julia’) but they’re part of our keep-sickness-at-bay routine.  Andy and I should own stock in Quick Defense after trying to get through this year’s flu season unscathed.  A main ingredient in Quick Defense is echinacea purpurea.  And – as a silly aside – I have to share this tweet I just saw:

“When I told my parents over the phone that my husband has the flu, my dad said “Have you tried euthanasia?” and in the background my mom yelled “For the last time, it’s echinacea!”  OMG. 🙂

Though I have little interest in planting annuals and lots of interest in perennials, I bristled when someone suggested recently that older people should be thought of as, yes, “perennials.”

Laura Carstensen, the head of the Stanford Center on Longevity recently wrote in The Washington Post:  “Language matters: We need a term that aging people can embrace.”  In the same article, Carstensen suggests the term “perennials” may be just right.  She continues:  

Upon first hearing this term, I was startled. The symbolism it connotes is perfect. For one, “perennials” makes clear that we’re still here, blossoming again and again. It also suggests a new model of life in which people engage and take breaks, making new starts repeatedly. Perennials aren’t guaranteed to blossom year after year, but given proper conditions, good soil and nutrients, they can go on for decades. It’s aspirational.

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Maybe I have a perennial problem, as in “they’re perennially late” or “the politicians’ perennial whining” or – especially this time of year – “his perennial allergies.”   Even negative connotations aside, I don’t particularly aspire to a Blossom-DieBack-Blossom-DieBack kind of life experience.  Andy used to be in limbo about this issue but has found a solution.

If not “perennial” or – god forbid – “elderly,” that brings up the question as to what a better choice of words might be when referring to someone……well, my age.  My suggestion? “Go-To.”  The “Go-To Generation.”  Or just think of yourself – when you achieve that certain age – as  “Grandpa Go-To” or “Auntie Go-To”  or “Nana Go-To.”  Don’t you think it has a nice ring? And an even nicer meaning?  Go to them for wisdom.  Go to them for advice.  Or encouragement.  Or tons of love.  They’ve been there, done that.

I have a bunch of old cookbooks that are my Go-To’s in the world of cooking.  Dog-earred, ripped, stained, faded – but still prominent on my bookshelf, consulted often, and loved.

I’m sharing special recipes – all apple-oriented since an apple a day keeps the doctor away – from three of them:  the Moosewood Cookbook from 1992,  Bayou Cook Book from 1974, and the Congressional Club Cook Book from 1955.  The list of contributors to the Congressional Club Cook Book reads like a “Who’s Who” from the world of politics past:  Mrs. Albert Gore, Mrs. Barry Goldwater, Mrs. Everett Dirksen, Mrs. Hale Boggs, Mrs. Prescott Bush, Mrs. Margaret Chase Smith, Mrs. Strom Thurmond, Mrs. Richard Nixon, Mrs. Mike Mansfield, Mrs. Gerald Ford, Mrs. Sam Irvin, to name a few.  And do note: I don’t find one male contributor.  Time changes all things….and sometimes for the better.

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A few of my Go-To cookbooks


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The original recipes – which I’ve tweeked

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Carrot Apple Yogurt Salad

Carrot Apple Yogurt Salad

This is not the most beautiful salad in the world, but it’s oh so good – and nutritious.  After a day sitting in the yogurt dressing, the salad was even better – but even less pretty.  Sometimes beauty isn’t everything! Recipe loosely adapted from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

  • 7 medium carrots (please do not buy those little peeled carrots; get ones with the tops still on so you can judge freshness), peeled, coarsely grated or julienned with a mandoline or a food processor)
  • 2 large apples, peeled and grated or julienned
  • 3/4 c yogurt (not low fat and not sweetened)
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T agave or honey
    1 T seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed
  • 1/3 c sliced almonds, toasted (optional)

Combine all the ingredients and mix well.  Chill.  When ready to serve, sprinkle on some toasted, sliced almonds.

Recipe brought to you by Andy and Ann and BigLittleMeals.com

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Mom Hill’s Applesauce Nut Bread

Mom Hill's Applesauce Nut Bread

  • Servings: 18 slices?
  • Print
Mom Hill, my grandmother, went from being a Kansas farm girl to living in Washington, DC, and becoming friends with Mamie Eisenhower.  And all the while, she was an excellent – and determined – cook.  This recipe of hers is from The Congressional Cookbook published in 1955.

Preheat oven to 350 degree.  Butter a 9″x5″ loaf pan.

  • 2 c flour
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 11/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 c applesauce (I used unsweetened and the bread was delicious – in our minds.  If you like a bread to be quite sweet, use sweetened applesauce or add another 1/4 c sugar)
  • 2 T butter, melted and slightly cooled

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon to a medium bowl and whisk it gently until it is very well-blended.  Add the nuts and stir.  In a small bowl, combine the egg, applesauce, and butter.  Stir that into the dry mixture until all is combined – but do not overmix.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack and then remove from the pan.  Enjoy now – or for the next few days, covered and left at room temperature – or freeze and enjoy it later.

Recipe brought to you by Ann and Andy and BigLittleMeals.com

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Huguenot Torte

Huguenot Torte

Ozark Pudding is, apparently, one and the same as this torte.  Ladies in Charleston, SC, renamed it Huguenot. My Louisiana Bayou Cook Book must have imported it from there.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 c peeled and diced – about 1″) apples (I used three Honeycrisp)
  • 1 c chopped nuts – pecans or walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • heavy cream, whipped, to top it

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Generously butter a 9″ springform pan; non-stick would be good.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until frothy and lemon-colored.  Add the sugar and beat again until smooth and well-blended.  Fold in the apples, nuts and vanilla.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then add that mixture to the egg batter.  Fold it in well.

Scrape the mixture into the buttered pan; place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until crusty and brown.  The top will separate into a gooey part and a crusty/meringue-y part.  And it will be very hard to cut – unless it’s still warm.  And it may not fit your definition of “pretty.”  But served a little warm with a big dollop of only lightly-sweetened whipping cream, it will be to die for.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.



  1. David Ewing says:

    Go-To generation, eh? That could explain why Frankie is continually telling me, “Go to.” But that’s her deal, not mine. I’ll have to leave interpretation in her culpable hands. I’m a Boomer of ’46, the Boomer vanguard. It’s challenging being married to a woman of an older…ah…vintage. Just when I worry she’s gone to vinegar I discover another layer of delicious complexity. Then I take a deep, appreciative sniff and she’s back with, “Go to…”


    • theRaggedys says:

      Andy here: I think you are onto something regarding an alternative interpretation of the “go-to” in the Go-To Generation. It makes a lot of sense now that I think about it.


  2. Primordial would work, although there’s that unfortunate “primordial ooze” connotation. Superannuated is good, except it sounds like a back problem. I like antediluvian, but uncles might feel left out. Monty Python used senile delinquents. Hoary is a good one, but it should probably be reserved for retired porn stars. It’s a delicate subject. Maybe living fossils?


    • theRaggedys says:

      Andy here. Wow! Those are some great labeling suggestions – which surprises me since I know you’re a member of the “loser” baby boomer generation. I have to admit that your comments made Ann and me laugh – a lot.


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