Tis the season. Yes, corn on the cob is a mandatory food for the upcoming holiday cookouts on Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and any summertime occasion. I will always remember a boyhood festivity in midsummer, the peak of sweet corn season, when the nearby cow pasture was cleared of debris, a concrete block fire pit was set up and on a Saturday afternoon carloads of neighbors, friends and family began arriving. They parked in the cow pasture and congregated in clusters chatting about crops, new babies, and miscellaneous gossip. Bushels of freshly picked corn, unshucked, were roasting under wet burlap bags on the blazing wood fire. I don’t remember what was being celebrated, but it was a glorious Saturday afternoon and evening. Many bushels of delicious corn were consumed. My aunt and I always had a competition going on. Her capacity was a dozen ears, mine was not quite as many.

Back in those days, one always needed to be on the lookout for that wiggly, slimy worm eating its way through your ear of corn. Today’s pesticides, which have virtually eradicated ear corn surprises, were not available.

My local grocery store has an impressive display of fresh corn in its produce department and on a table at the store entrance. I have learned to bring it home, leave it in its husk, wet it and microwave a few ears for ten minutes. It’s almost as good as that boyhood corn which I remember and savor.

The ear of corn is a product of evolution and of God’s genius in design. The husk is there for a reason. It keeps freshness in and prevents bugs from infesting. That natural packaging serves a purpose. Human fingers and germs are not purposed to touch those kernels until ready to process or eat.

So you can imagine my horror upon approaching a tidy display of freshness to see a sweet, little ole granny standing there pulling back the husks to inspect the merchandise. One by one she carefully strips the tip of its husk and silk, holds it up to her nose to smell and upon rejecting the product throws it back in the bin for the next customer. Especially in this era of virus and disease, that granny has just reduced my choices when it’s my turn to select. I will not pick an ear that has its protective husk compromised.

I observed this behavior several times and finally could no longer grin and bear it. In a moment of grocery store bravery, (she could have been packing more in her purse than keys and wallet) I softly and civilly educated her regarding ‘buying corn’ etiquette. I nicely explained to her that in today’s farming culture, worms and other pests are virtually eliminated. And to ensure that her selection is a delicious, mature ear of corn, she only needs to feel to the tip for fullness. Furthermore, I explained to her that when she stripped back its protective husk, she was ruining that ear for the next customer (who happened to be me). The store produce manager would need to dispose of it when it dried out thus increasing the operational costs of the store resulting in higher prices to all of us.

That sweet little granny looked me in the eye, told me to mind my own effing business and shove the corn she was holding up a place on my anatomy where ‘the sun don’t shine’.

Of course, being the gentleman that I am, I responded, “Yes, maam.” But truly, that is not a pretty picture.

Like I said before, “Tis the season.”

the challenge

Gabby tries so hard to stay open-minded about politics and social issues and religion. But there are times when Jesus himself says:

“Aw heck, Gabby, go ahead, take the plunge. Do it for me. Remember what I did for you way back when? I gave you a brain with which to think and a conscience with which to guide and then I died for you. Take up my cross, use my gifts and grace, take the chance that you might offend someone. They’ll get over it. But I will be mightily pleased.”


I love acronyms. BFF, LOL, are just a few of the many that have crossed my radar screen in recent years. But this one, WTSHTF, is a mind-number. “When The Shit Hits The Fan” speaks to those of us whom some might call pessimists or maybe alarmists. It refers to the time in the future when apocalypse, nuclear holocaust, or natural disaster will reduce life, as we know it, to a struggle for survival. Not a pleasant scenario to consider, but, when considering climate change, political unrest, and social upheaval, it is not a situation to take lightly or to totally and absolutely dismiss. I have become a much better Boy Scout today than when I was 13 and 14 years old.

Remember the scout motto; ‘Be Prepared’? In today’s world, it is no longer merely advice for youngsters plying their survival skills in a controlled outdoors environment, it is a blueprint for survival in a world beset by governments and boogeymen intent to overpower, control and relieve us of our liberties and freedoms. Please do not think it can’t happen in 2023 in the USA. Some of us believe it has started and is imminent.

My duty as a patriot, human and world citizen is to prepare as best as possible to carry on to the best of my ability those values and virtues that I and my forefathers have held near and dear. It is not a negotiable mindset. Compromise is unacceptable. But, to be in that position, we must stay alive in the face of extreme adversity. To this end, social opinions, religious and political beliefs long held to be truth sometimes must change. And so it is.

This way of preparing for future events is not alien to my upbringing. As a young boy, along with my Boy Scout experience, I was herded weekly to Sunday School and church. The stories from the Bible had a great influence on my developing manhood. The wisdom of Joseph saved Egypt from famine because he advised the Pharaoh to store enough food to survive for the seven year drought….a lesson practiced traditionally by my farming forefathers. My grandparents were never hungry during the lean times because Grandma stored up volumes of canned produce and meat in her cellar cabinets. Grandpa knew how to butcher the beef, pigs and chickens he raised. He created delicious sausages and hams which were then smoked in the 10’X10′ smokehouse. When smoked the proper amount of time, those delicacies were carried to the attic of our house for storage. Grandma’s schnitz (dried apples) and other dehydrated foods were also stored in the attic. Grandpa was a fixer and amateur carpenter. Grandma was a seamstress and quilter. Country folk know how to survive instinctually and by traditions handed down one generation to the next.

These skills were handed down one generation to another. Farmers were and still are the epitome of preppers. Prepping is in my genes. So, when I hear about WTSHTF, my mind immediately goes to the preparations I need to make. Whether stockpiling foods like beans, rice, pasta, canned vegetables or necessities like water, TP, soap, Bic lighters, batteries, or a good knife, I want to be a good Scout, have what I need or can barter thereby not being a burden to those around me and possibly saving the lives of me and loved ones.

This, naturally, includes the skills necessary to survive without running water, electricity, cell service, natural gas for cooking or a source of heat. The conveniences we have come to depend upon will probably be unaffordable or taken from us. Do I know enough to live under a tarp, catch fish, forage for food and hunt for protein? Can I light a fire, cook that fish, treat my water for pathogens, dispose of my waste? Do I remember from my teen years how to skin a squirrel? Or raise from seeds some green beans, squash and corn?

And, most troubling to me is security. Do I have the means to protect my stashes of food and necessities? How about protecting my loved ones? There will be, in a rogue environment, folks who would not think twice about ending our lives to steal what we have accumulated. Hungry bellies are not guided by conscience…..not a moral judgement; rather, a fact of life.

Also, very importantly, who are my community? Whom will I need to depend on when the chips are down? What are their survival skills? First aid, cooking, mechanical aptitude, the ability to fix and improvise the unfixable, bushcraft skills….what can my community bring to the table?

Lastly, am I overly concerned about what others think of my prepping? Am I rattled when those close to me voice opinions about my mental health? Fortunately, the days are long past when I valued the opinions of others over my own intuition and life’s experience.


Howdy folks, welcome to GABBY’S PLACE.  Hey, did you hear about the young man standing on the pier watching the dolphins frolic in the water with an older woman standing nearby sporting a gorgeous sun bonnet?  A sudden gust of wind whipped along the shoreline and lifted the woman’s dress above her waist.  Unfazed by her exposed underside, she held on adamantly to her sun bonnet.

“Ma’am, don’t you care that everyone can see everything?”

“Young man,” she snapped, “everything down there is 85 years old.  I bought this hat just yesterday.”

Oh no, I hear groans out there in the blogosphere.  Okay, here’s my BBQ recipe handed down for generations of Pennsylvania Dutch folks in my native community.  On Saturdays during the summertime, the premier social event was an estate sale.  Household belongings, farm equipment and sometimes real estate were sold to the highest bidder in a lively exchange of camaraderie.   Drama was added to this scenario when antique dealers from nearby cities competed for the coveted, centuries-old kitchen utensils and furniture.

Always a local church group, the Boy Scouts or the community Grange would offer a wide variety of food at a make-shift kitchen.  For many of us this was the main event.  Lemon sponge and shoo-fly pies, homemade bread, cakes, chicken and corn soup, hot dogs and BBQ sandwiches.  The menu was not complete without those BBQ sandwiches.

Now, when this Pennsylvania Dutch Yankee moved south and ordered a BBQ sandwich at a local eatery, he was severely disappointed.  What is this mass of shredded beef or pork soaked in a tomato sauce and dripping out the bun?  Too sweet, too runny, too spicy.  Not at all what a good, ole Yankee country boy remembers.  And to beat all, some folks actually topped it with cole slaw.

here are the ingredients


  1. 1 lb ground beef
  2. 1 tsp celery seed
  3. 2 tsp prepared mustard
  4. 3 tsp chili sauce
  5. 3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  6. 1/2 cup catsup
  7. 1 small onion peeled and chopped
  8. salt and pepper to taste
  9. 12 burger buns


  1. In a saucepan brown the ground beef and the onion
  2. add the remaining ingredients and mix well
  3. simmer about 15 minutes
  4. Serve up on plain or sesame buns

(Commercial chili sauce is not the same as Grandma’s home-made sauce, but it will work in this recipe.)


GABBY COOKS – white bean & kale soup

Kale is a member of the cabbage family Brassica oleracea.  Of all the super healthy greens, kale is acclaimed as king.  Some of the beneficial compounds in kale have powerful medicinal properties.

A single cup of raw kale ( 2.4 ounces) contains:

  • 206% of DV of vitamin A (daily required value)
  • 684% of DV of vitamin K
  • 134% of vitamin C
  • 9% of vitamin B-6
  • 26% of manganese
  • 9% of calcium
  • 10% of copper
  • 9% of potassium
  • 6% of magnesium

This 2.4 ounces also contains 3% or more of DV for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, and phosphorous.  This nutrient dense green contains very little fat, but that fat is mostly the healthy omega-3.  And it pumps another 3 grams of protein into your diet.

Red beans, also known as Mexican red beans,  are nutrition dynamos.  They are rich in antioxidants and packed with protein, folate, minerals, and fiber including resistant starch.  Resistant starch boosts the body’s ability to burn fat, aids the full feeling, and controls blood sugar.  A 1/2 cup serving will provide 90 calories and 7 grams of protein.

Great Northern beans per 1/2 cup serving contain 104 calories, and provide 6.2 grams or 25% of fiber DV plus a little over 7 grams of protein.  They are rich in vitamin B-6 and are dense in minerals and amino acids.

I love using dry beans in cooking.  They have a better flavor and are much less expensive.  The process of a soak is easily manageable when planned ahead of time.  My favorite soak method is to place the desired amount of beans in a heavy cookpot, cover with water, bring to a boil for three minutes, turn off the heat, cover with a lid and allow to sit for at least an hour.  When ready to cook, drain and rinse, and cover with plenty of water or broth (at least 2 inches over the beans).  Cook on slow simmer for an hour or until tender.  Then you are ready to add the other soup ingredients.

here are the ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 8 cups fresh kale center ribs removed
  • 2 cups fresh carrots sliced
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup dry great northern or red beans
  • 1 quart chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • parmesan cheese to top soup when serving
  • corn chips to accompany soup (optional)
  • additional hot water as needed to keep it soup
  1. in heavy Dutch oven or heavy cook pot heat the olive oil
  2. when hot add the garlic, onion, ginger, and saute about 3 minutes
  3. add the carrots and stir, saute another 3 minutes
  4. add the chopped fresh herbs and kale, cover and allow the kale to wilt about 5 minutes
  5. stir well to mix everything and remove from pot
  6. add the drained and rinsed dried beans which have soaked for at least an hour
  7. add the broth and bring to a boil
  8. gently simmer for an hour
  9. when nearly tender, add the reserved kale, etc.
  10. cook at least 1/2 hour until the beans and vegetables are tender
  11. salt and pepper to taste
  12. if you like a thicker soup use a potato masher to lightly smash some of the ingredients – don’t overdo it

Serve in bowls and top with shredded parmesan and corn chips on the side


GABBY COOKS – chicken & corn soup

I’m sure I could spend the rest of my life eating Grandma’s chicken and corn soup and be a completely satisfied man.  She always used dark meat chicken for more flavor, but it is equally delicious using chicken breast.  This main course soup is a budget stretcher which complements any shopping list.  Add some chopped escarole and you’ve created a health dynamo.  If escarole is not available at your grocery, curly endive, a cousin of escarole, will work just as well.

Escarole has no fat.  One and one-half cups of chopped escarole has only 15 calories, 1 gram of protein and 3 grams of carbohydrates.  It adds 5.2% to 8% of your recommended daily consumption of fiber which is a critical component of bowel health decreasing risk of constipation, diarrhea and diverticulitis.  We all know that adequate fiber will satisfy hunger with fewer calories, but to avoid bloating and gas work up slowly to an amount of 25 to 38 grams daily.

But wait, there’s more.  This one serving of 1 1/2 cups of escarole supplies 30% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 4% of your DRV of iron and calcium.  A shortage of iron may cause you to feel tired, dizzy and headachy.  We all know the importance of calcium, don’t we?  Yeah, strong teeth and bones.

here are the ingredients

  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 4 chicken legs and thighs or 2 breasts ( or a combination of dark and white meat, it’s up to you whether to use the skin in cooking, I believe it adds additional flavor, but also calories and fat)
  • about 4 cups chopped escarole (Grandma never used greens other than fresh parsley and it was just as delicious)
  • 3 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cob or 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 3 hard boiled eggs sliced
  • a sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 3 TBS chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. heat the olive oil in a stew pot or Dutch oven
  2. add the onions and garlic
  3. cook until translucent being careful not to scorch the garlic
  4. remove from the pot and reserve for later
  5. add the chicken legs, thighs, breast
  6. saute in the oil until lightly golden
  7. add enough broth to cover the chicken pieces and bring to boil
  8. immediately reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover the pot
  9. cook on low heat about 30-45 minutes adding more broth if needed
  10. remove chicken from pot, set in bowl to cool
  11. add the greens, herbs, corn, and rest of the broth
  12. bring to a boil
  13. reduce heat to simmer and cover the pot
  14. cook about 15 minutes
  15. while that is cooking, skin and debone the chicken pieces
  16. tear meat into bite-sized pieces
  17. add the chicken and reserved onions and garlic to the soup
  18. add more broth or hot water if necessary to keep it soup
  19. season with salt and pepper
  20. ladle into bowls and top with the sliced hard-boiled eggs

the magnificent kale


Kale is a member of the cabbage family Brassica oleracea.  Of all the super healthy greens, kale is acclaimed as king.  Some of the beneficial compounds in kale have powerful medicinal properties.

A single cup of raw kale ( 2.4 ounces) contains:

  • 206% of DV of vitamin A (daily required value)
  • 684% of DV of vitamin K
  • 134% of vitamin C
  • 9% of vitamin B-6
  • 26% of manganese
  • 9% of calcium
  • 10% of copper
  • 9% of potassium
  • 6% of magnesium

This 2.4 ounces also contains 3% or more of DV for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, and phosphorous.  This nutrient dense green contains very little fat, but that fat is mostly the healthy omega-3.  And it pumps another 3 grams of protein into your diet.

I love my kale cooked until tender in bacon grease and served over boiled potatoes.  However, as a salad vegetable, cut the leaves from the center rib, discard the rib which is very fibrous, chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces, rinse under cold water and sprinkle with a generous amount of salt massaging the salt into the kale.  It is tenderized and ready to use in your salad much like lettuce, spinach or curly endive.

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