Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

It is Christmas Eve and I have been thinking about Mary and Joseph. What it took for them to walk in faith in spite of the world’s viewpoint. They each had to make a choice and then walk it out daily. Just as I do. The assignment they were given was humanly impossible, yet they chose to accept it in spite of the fact they could not explain it.

Drawn into the story of Jesus. I think about my own faith walk. It is a tough thing for me to wrap my mind around the birth and life of Jesus. My human mind dissects things from an earthly perspective.

And then it hit me. It is a natural tendency for us humans to try to figure things out. To break them down to see how they work. I want an explanation that I can see, touch, hear.

But God is too big for me to analyze like that. I simply cannot do it!

When I study the story of Jesus and God’s plan for the redemption of man, from a human perspective it is preposterous. It just couldn’t happen on a human level.


That is exactly why it had to be so impossible and unlikely from a human standpoint.

I realize it has to be from God. Only He could orchestrate and fulfill a story so great – the fulfillment of His promise to send a Savior – in such a way that it would touch a humble heart. A way that would require me to set aside my natural inclination to want concrete proof and to simply believe. Allowing my heart to become humble as a little child in order to accept His gift.

And so on this day before Christmas, as I prepare to once again celebrate the birth of Jesus, I say to you

            “Joy to the world,

                        The Lord has come

                                    Let earth receive its King

            Let every heart

                        Prepare Him room”

May we all make room in our hearts for Him.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Squash Casserole

 Thanksgiving is almost here and I’ll bet a lot of you are already planning your menu like I am. We are the hub of all things family when Thanksgiving rolls around and I absolutely LOVE it! Deep fried is the only way to go with turkey for us and to be sure we have plenty of leftovers this year we’ll be cooking an extra turkey breast (or small turkey). After all, isn’t the best part of Thanksgiving having turkey sandwiches with a steaming bowl of turkey vegetable soup the day after?!

One of the dishes I’m gonna add this year is squash casserole. It is one of those foods I love but my hubby detests so I only attempt to put it on the table when I know I have other veggie loving folks around to help me eat it.

Squash Casserole


2 lb. yellow or zucchini squash            ½ cup onion, chopped
½ tsp salt                                           ½ cup water
1 cup sour cream                                1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup shredded carrots                       8 oz pkg herb stuffing mix
½ cup butter, melted

Slice squash into ¼ - ½ inch rounds. Bring water and salt to a boil, then add squash and onion. Cook over medium high until squash is just tender, approximately 10 minutes. Drain well. In a medium bowl combine soup, sour cream, and carrots. Fold in drained squash and onion. In a separate bowl combine the stuffing mix and melted butter. Spread half of the stuffing mixture in the bottom of a 7 x 12 x 2 baking dish. Spoon vegetable mixture on top of stuffing, then spread remaining half of the stuffing mix on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the casserole is heated through.

This recipe came from my aunt June Evans and is in a 1979 cookbook from the East Kermit Freewill Baptist Ladies Auxiliary. This is the church I remember attending as a child with my Mother when we visited my Grandparents and other extended family. My brother got married there and later was their Pastor for a few years. When I look through this cookbook I am reminded of the family history that is woven through the people represented in its pages and the legacy handed down by the women who shared their recipes. All a part of the fabric of my life.

Happy Cooking,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Aiden's Banana Bread

I never have to worry about throwing out bananas now as this has become Aiden’s second favorite recipe! (Fave is chocolate dipped rice crispy treats.)
I substituted butterscotch chips once when we had it partially mixed up before we discovered we did not have the chocolate and it was quite tasty. Gonna try peanut butter chips as soon as I can find some…)

Aiden’s Banana Bread


4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups self rising flour (or use all purpose flour, adding 1 tsp baking soda & ¼ tsp salt)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 4 x 8 inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray. Peal and slice bananas into chunks, then mash. (The mashing part is Aiden’s job!) Stir in melted butter. In a small bowl, beat the egg until well mixed. Add the egg, sugar, and vanilla and stir until blended. Add flour and mix well. Add ½ cup chocolate chips and ½ cup chopped nuts.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.

This is a great recipe for cooking with your kids (or grandkids!) I chop the bananas and melt the butter…Aiden does the rest, including helping to measure the ingredients. He doesn't realize he is learning math skills while he's cooking with Mama!

What do you cook with your kids? Share your treats by posting a comment and let’s continue making lasting family memories!

Happy Cooking,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Uncle Ted's Apple Butter

When Larry & I go on vacation one of our favorite things to do is find ‘mom & pop’ restaurants where we can experience the local fare. Last week in Michigan we hit a winner three times! We were in search of apples and found the best of both worlds when we stopped at Crane’s Pie Pantry & Restaurant AND Crane’s U-Pick Orchard. Lunch was homemade vegetable beef soup with a slice of fresh from the oven, made from scratch, bread! Served alongside that warm and yummy bread was the most delectable apple butter I think I have ever, ever tasted. (Made from scratch right there in their kitchen, of course!!) I’ve been thinking about that apple butter ever since. (BIG smile).

So I’m thinking that the next best thing would be to cook up a small batch of my Uncle Ted’s Apple Butter. I haven’t made it in years but with the weather turning cooler and the memory of Crane’s still making my mouth water, I plan to cook up a batch this weekend. (By the way, this would be a great recipe to get your kids to help with!)

Uncle Ted’s Apple Butter


2 cups unsweetened applesauce         
¼ - ½ cup sugar (depends on your taste for sweet!)
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. all spice
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. ginger

Put applesauce in a medium saucepan. Add spices and stir well to make sure they are blended. Bring to boil over medium high, reduce to medium. Allow to cook for 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.

Makes approximately 1 ½ cups apple butter.

Uncle Ted was my Dad’s younger brother. He lived on the New Jersey shore, yet he still managed to come back home to W. Va. for regular visits. Although I call this his apple butter, the original recipe actually came from his mother-in-law. Just goes to show you that cooking gets passed down through the generations no matter who the original ‘cooker’ was!

Happy Cooking,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Tasty Tuesday "Extra" - Taco/Fajita Seasoning

As I mentioned in last week’s Tasty Tuesday, here is the recipe for homemade seasoning. (Figured I'd better get it out to ya while it was still on my mind! Funny, but things just don't stick there like they used to.) This mix is tasty plus has much less sodium than the packaged kind.

Taco/Fajita Seasoning


¼ cup chili powder                             2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. red (cayenne) pepper                 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano                            1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp. sea salt
1 ½ tsp. garlic powder                        1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. black pepper
1 ½ tsp. onion powder                        1 1/3 Tbsp. cornstarch

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a whisk to ensure spices blend well. Store in an air tight container.

Use 1 Tablespoon season mix and ½ cup water per 1 lb. meat.

I could not track down the source of this recipe but will be sure to give credit where credit is due as soon as I can.  

Happy Cooking,

Tasty Tuesday - Sticky Buns

This recipe came to me from a dear friend I met in church a few years ago. She fixed this at a brunch I attended and I thought she had spent HOURS making it. When she shared how easy it was to put together I was shocked. A favorite of both family and friends, it frequently shows up on my table and at potluck brunches.


1/2 cup chopped pecans

24 frozen yeast rolls (I buy Rhodes and they only come in packages of 36. I use 24 for this and save the rest for dinner.)

1 small pkg ‘cook & serve’ butterscotch pudding

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 stick REAL butter (Hey, I never said this was diet friendly! BIG smile)


Spray a bundt (or tube) pan with cooking spray. Place chopped pecans in the bottom of the pan. Add frozen roll dough. Sprinkle pudding mix evenly over rolls, then the brown sugar. Top with chunks of chopped butter.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap which has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray and place in COLD oven overnight. The next morning, REMOVE from cold over and then preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Return rolls to oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes. ENJOY!!

See, I told you it was easy. But the taste?  OMGosh, my mouth waters just thinking about them. If you like ooey gooey, sticky caramel rolls then you will think you have landed in the middle of breakfast heaven when you sink your teeth into this. The only negative I’ve found is that I just can’t seem to stop eating them.

Happy Cooking,

Saturday, October 1, 2011

One Call Away - a review

Answering Life’s Challenges with Unshakable Faith
Brenda Warner with Jennifer Schuchmann

Like many of us I find it easy to look at people in high profile positions and think they have it made. Whether it is a politician, musician, actor, or professional athlete, I am prone to believe they don’t know what life is like for the rest of us. I confess that when it comes to highly paid athletes my bias is too often vocalized without thought to what their life is really like.

Then Brenda Warner walked into my life through the pages of her memoir, One Call Away. She tells her story with open honesty, revealing the good and the bad. Instead of hiding or glossing over her past, she instead reveals each struggle, each challenge, each pitfall with candor. Far from being simply a tell all book about her life, One Call Away is a story of faith grown through the trials and tragedies of life. It is a reminder for each of us that while we are living in the moment we will all, at one time or another, find ourselves one call away from a life changing situation. 

The question is what will we do when we come to that crossroad where life and faith intersect. Each time Brenda has chosen to keep going, to ‘press forward and survive’. In doing just that, she reveals a richness of life that goes far beyond any monetary gain. A richness forged through the valleys of adversity and the mountain of Grace.

I am thankful that Brenda had the courage to share her life story for it has given me a new perspective of the lives of the perceived rich and famous. By getting to know the real Brenda, I find that we do indeed share a lot in common as fellow travelers along the journey of life. She inspires me to share my story as well with those who I encounter. For it is in the sharing that we give encouragement and hope to others.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)


I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://booksneeze®.com/> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Taco Soup

At the request of some of my Facebook friends, today’s recipe is Taco Soup. There are several versions of this out there so you may already have something similar in your recipe box. I can’t exactly claim this one to be from my family archives but I can say that it is a current family favorite. Easy to put together and a fast fix after work. Of course crackers are always good with soup but we like to switch things up a bit and substitute tortilla chips or corn chips. Some of the more adventurous even add grated cheese and sour cream. Whatever floats your boat….or fills up your soup bowl!

Taco Soup


2 lb. ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning * 
1 ½ cups water (I add a bit more ‘cause I like lots of broth!)
1 15 oz can mild chili beans
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can pinto beans
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can Rotel (I use the mild, but use original if you like your stuff spicier)
1 envelope Ranch salad dressing

Brown ground beef and drain off excess grease. Put beef and remaining ingredients in a large dutch oven, stir to mix well and bring to boil at medium high. Reduce heat to simmer and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes.

*I recently found a recipe for homemade seasoning. I'll post it in a day or so once I track down the source so I can give proper credit!

Hmmm….no blast from the past memories with this one. (Guess we are making tomorrow’s memories.) Who knows, perhaps one of my grandchildren will one day share their memories about our family times triggered by a steaming bowl of Taco Soup!

Hugs and Happy cooking,

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Disappointed With God

The words pierced my heart. I had been diligently working through the Jonah study by Priscilla Shirer. I was learning. I was absorbing the teaching. All good stuff but up nothing life stopping.

Until that day.

“Have you ever been disappointed with God about an outcome He has allowed?”

Oh my, yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Like a flash flood that sends roaring waters downstream, all of the emotions from the past several months came crashing over me. I felt like I was drowning yet again.

It had been hard - no, actually impossible - to understand why He allowed another marriage to fall apart leaving precious children in the fallout. Yet, even as I wrote those words in my journal that day I was reminded that there are thousands upon thousands of broken relationships with even more children suffering in the aftermath. How else could I truly understand the pain and consequences unless I experience that pain as well?

There were logical reasons why I was disappointed with God. A betrayal brought pain to those I love the most. Children are now forced to live the broken lifestyle of sharing time with parents and bouncing from one home to another. Their stability was shattered due to the actions of others.

But my human logic does not equal God’s ways.

I must remember God still gives us the free will to do what we want, even when it grieves His heart and causes pain for us and others. Yet He is gracious, kind and compassionate, abundant in steadfast love. He is willing and waiting to bring about His good in spite of our poor choices.

With desire for comfort, for things to go smoothly, for good health and harmonious relationships deeply imbedded in our human psyche and living in a society where entitlement is preached until we are brainwashed, it is difficult to come to terms with our trials and heartaches. God’s ways are so far above ours that most of the time it is impossible for us to understand.

However, when we trust Him and lean into Him for our strength during the difficult times, not only does He help us walk through it, He uses the trial and our faith walk to reach and encourage others.

That day became a turning point in my journey through and out of this particular disappointment with God. I knew I had a choice to make. Was I going to continue to moan and whine, consumed by the loss of the dream? Or was I going to choose to look for how God will use these events to mold each of us into the person He desires us to be?

I made the choice to accept His truth that I must let go of the why. After all, I know that I will never be satisfied with His answer to that one because I want comfort, happiness and the happy ever after fairy tale. I must let go of the what might have been thoughts, the dream of a solid marriage and secure family unit and trust Him to redeem what was lost. Trust Him to bring beauty from the ashes.

Not simply to trust Him but to actively look for His love at work. After all, He is the Redeemer!

...But He said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That’s why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10 (NIV)

Hugs from a wounded but victorious sojourner,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Chewy Peanut Butter Bars

My family and friends will tell you that I am crazy about anything and everything peanut butter. I mean, does it get any better?! I found this recipe in a magazine over thirty years ago and it quickly became a favorite treat. Somehow over the years as my collection of recipes has grown, this one seems to have fallen to the back of the box. I’m glad I rediscovered it and can’t wait to bake a pan of these yummy and moist treats.

Chewy Peanut Butter Bars


1/3 cup butter, softened (yep, I use the REAL thing! Everything’s better with butter.)
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
½ cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

Cream butter, sugar, and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, beating well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into sugar mixture until just blended. Stir in the coconut. Spread dough evenly in a greased 13 x 9 baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

You know I am all about the memories that are made when I cook. So I can’t leave a recipe post without sharing a bit. I found this recipe during the first months after we moved away from all of our family for my husband to start a new job. I had never lived more than an hour away from my parents and was truly a ‘mountain girl’! Needless to say I had more than one bout of being homesick that first winter.

However, I have many more memories of happy times exploring our new community, making new friends, and taking care of my family. When I think about baking Chewy Peanut Butter Bars, I think about two little boys with big smiles and crumbs on their faces. About my husband’s hugs and quiet thank you after a long day at work. About the many ways God’s faithfulness was revealed to us during a time of little money and lots of bills.

A long time ago, yet it seems like just yesterday. All because of a recipe.

Hugs and Happy cooking,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Mexican Cornbread

Fall is in the air and I am ready to get back in the kitchen! For me, a big pot of chili is the official kickoff to the season. Many times we simply eat crackers, corn chips or tortilla chips with our chili. However, when I have more time in the kitchen this cornbread with a Mexican twist is our must have side dish. It is more like a spoon bread than regular cornbread but I guarantee you won’t mind not being able to hold it in your hand! As we Viars like to say, “It is SOME kind of good!”

Mexican Corn Bread


1 cup yellow corn meal                         1 small can green chilies, chopped and drained
2 eggs                                                  1 can cream style corn
1 tsp baking soda                                 ½ tsp salt
4 oz grated cheese                                ½ cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil

In a medium bowl stir together corn meal, baking soda & salt. (You could also use a corn meal mix that already has those ingredients. I done both with good results.) In a separate bowl beat eggs, then add corn, buttermilk, oil, and chilies. Mix well, then stir in grated cheese. Pour into a well greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

*I inherited this recipe from my husband’s Aunt Helena. We had dropped by for a visit when she shared some with us and, like many good cooks, she was happy to pass along the recipe. I still have the original small slip of paper I scribbled it on and think of her every time I pull it out of my recipe box. It’s like I can go back to her kitchen and feel the love. That piece of paper somehow connects me to her and that precious memory which probably explains why I have never written it down anyplace else.

For me, that’s what cooking is all about….making memories and sharing life and love.

Happy cooking,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Reflection of 9/11 (one of thousands)

Everywhere I turn this week I am bombarded with reminders of 9/11/2001. Television, radio, internet, newspapers….it seems to be the only topic covered in the news. I admit I have mixed feelings about the media blitz of that catastrophic event. While I agree that it is important to remember those lost in the tragedy and the thousands of people impacted by the event and the aftermath, I wonder if it is fulfilling the intended purpose. (Do I really know the intended purpose or is it another of my false perceptions?) We should pause to reflect on sacrifices made and the price paid for our freedom, whether it is on September 11 or December 7, Veterans Day or Memorial Day. I believe it helps us keep things in a proper perspective, remembering what the most important part of life is truly. However, I also realize that too much reflection on a past tragedy can have the opposite effect. Instead of allowing it to pull me back to center I can let it lead me to negative emotions as I relive the event over and over again through the images I see and words I hear. This week I have seen both reactions in myself and others. So what do we do with these conflicting emotions and thoughts? What do we do as Christians? What do we do as Americans? One thing is certain. We will face trying times in the future. There is no get out of jail free card in life. And even though we Americans seem to live our lives with the ill conceived idea that we are somehow more special and should never have to face bad times or attacks on our country and our way of life, we are no more immune from tragedy than are the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, or the Sudan. I was struck by this quote by Daniel Darling in his article “Leadership Lesson from 9/11” posted yesterday morning on And so as we think back on 9/11 and move forward, we should be wise to vote for leaders who we’d want leading us in a time of trouble and we’d be wise to allow Christ to develop in us the character necessary to lead well where we are called. I believe at least one of the answers to the question of what to do is wrapped up well here. When the next time of extreme trouble hits America, we need leaders who can guide us in and through it. We need to look for those traits when choosing who to vote for. On the other hand, we can’t depend on one or more leaders to get us through. He or she cannot possibly be everywhere. God may place one of us in a position of leadership, whether it is in our community, our church, or maybe simply in our family. The time of preparation is before trouble hits. May we be learning our lessons well and developing the character needed to lead when called. Hugs, Molly

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Where I'm From

I am from an Appalachian mountain hollow, from Duz detergent with free glasses, and from dirt roads.

I am from a 1900 clapboard farmhouse, a Warm Morning stove for winter heat and open windows in the summer where I fell asleep listening to the sound of whippoorwills and an occasional barking dog.

I am from day lilies (we called them flags), rose of sharon, butterfly bushes and mountain laurel.

I am from a Viars breakfast, from a place where it was unheard of not to have potatoes at nearly every meal.

I am from the Viars and the Evans – frugal and hardworking folks, where love was found both in hugs and their provision.

I am from sitting up late listening to the grownups talk about their childhood days, where I learned more about my heritage from those conversations than I would have from a thousand questions I may have asked.

I am from ‘salt will dry your blood’ and ‘if you look at that centipede all your teeth will fall out’. From ‘come on over and sit a spell’. From a neighbor who would chop down a hundred year old tree with nothing but an ax because he thought it was preventing your mobile home from getting to your land.

I am from a country church where the Holy Ghost was as welcome as the preacher, from the community/family cemetery where Decoration Day was the annual family reunion.

From a one room school, a hand pump where we drew our drinking water, from making cups from a sheet of notebook paper.

I am from born at home in a three room house, catching crawdads in the creek, and fishing with a stick pole, string and a bent safety pin.

From a place where mountain people stuck together just because that’s the way we were. Where ‘outsiders’ were not easily accepted but had to earn our trust, just because that’s the way we were.

Where I’m from is a place where I will probably never go back to live but will live forever in my heart. For it is the place that helped to form me into the person I am today.

Where are you from?


Friday, July 22, 2011

Share or Hoard?

O.K., so it has been a long time since my last post. Over two months! Did I simply vanish like Howard Hughes? Or find myself stranded in a remote location without access to computers and internet?

No glamorous or mysterious circumstances pulled me away. No excuse other than I simply found other things to occupy my time.

Granted, some of those things were happy occasions, celebrating achievement and milestones with my family. Others were simply thieves of time.

I’ve had plenty of nudges during my time away from the blogging world. Things I felt that needed to be shared, that I wanted to share. But I did not respond to those nudges. Instead, as time went on I found it easier to ignore them.


Today, I am choosing to return to my world of blogging, trusting God to help me be faithful in sharing what He is doing in my life. For life is meant to be shared, not hoarded.

Uncommon – Webster’s Dictionary defines it as ‘Not common; unusual. Far beyond the usual, normal, or customary. Remarkable.’

If I want to write about my unCommon life, I must first live it. An unCommon life is not one of ease, nor is it a bed of roses. Trials and thorns, delays and disease, sacrifice and servant hood are all required, all part of this world.

You may be thinking, ‘so, what’s so uncommon about that? Everyone faces those issues!’

This is true. But when I respond to the hard, the ugly, and the painful circumstances by leaning into God - trusting Him, obeying Him, and seeking Him - I find answers.

Sharing my journey can be another way of becoming unCommon. Perhaps sharing my faith walk will encourage another woman to persevere in hers as well.

And so, dear friends (I do consider each one of you reading this as a dear friend, though we may never meet face to face), I am back. I commit to sharing with you through this medium until God chooses to direct me elsewhere. I will be working on several posts over the next few weeks describing a recent valley of life, prayerfully considering how to share a message of hope while protecting those who have been traveling through the valley with me. Please pray with me that He will use my life to bring hope and encouragement to others.

Love and Hugs,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Hamburger Baked Beans

My activity level has cranked into high gear which explains my absence here at my bloggy home. I’ve made a trip to Indy to visit my grandsons (and their Mom & Dad of course!), attended a preschool musical and graduation for grandson here, hosted the photo shoot for my granddaughter’s senior prom….and that is just the beginning! Graduation is coming up Friday with a big joint cookout on Saturday to celebrate with Marilyn and her boyfriend. Burgers, dogs, brats and all the usual side dishes will be on the table.

One of my contributions will be baked beans. Since my family prefers a bit of meat in their beans, this is the recipe I will be using. Guess I’d better make a double batch!

Hamburger Baked Beans


4 slices bacon 1 cup ketchup
1 lb. lean ground beef ½ cup molasses
1 med. Onion, chopped 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ tsp. salt ½ tsp dry mustard
1 (16 oz) cans pork and beans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium skillet, cook bacon until crisp; set aside. Add onion and ground beef to bacon drippings and sauté until beef is brown. With slotted spoon, remove ground beef and onion and place in bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish which has been sprayed with Pam cooking spray.

In same skillet add remaining ingredients and heat until hot, stirring occasionally. Add to meat & onion mixture, stir well. Bake, uncovered, for 60 minutes.

Bet you’ll be either hosting or attending a cookout or two yourself during the coming weeks. Hope you’ll be inspired to try this version of a classic side dish.

Happy cooking,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Tropical Pork Chops

I am sitting here in my home office with the windows open and ceiling fan at full speed. I must tell you I LOVE summer! I realize I have a few more weeks before summer officially arrives, but this brief time of 90 degree weather warms me down to my toes! I feel the urge to put away those stick to your ribs kind of meals that require using my oven to prepare. I am ready for our grill to be in nearly full time use and my mouth is already watering just thinking about fresh sweet corn and home grown tomatoes. (Hey a gal can dream can’t she?!)

In honor of this hint of summer, this week’s recipe is a quick and tasty way to spice up pork chops. Served with a simple tossed salad on the side, you’ll have supper on the table in less than 30 minutes. Now doesn’t that put a smile on your face?!

Tropical Pork Chops


6 pork chops
1 cup orange juice
1 ¼ cups Minute© rice
1 can condensed chicken & rice soup

In a large skillet, brown chops in a small amount of cooking oil. Remove chops and sprinkle rice in the same pan. Pour orange juice over the rice, then place chops on top. Pour soup over chops and rice, being sure you cover all the surface. Cover and simmer until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and the chops are tender.

Happy cooking,

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Letting Go of Guilt

I sat on the side of the bed with my mother as she folded the last things to put into her suitcase. She could barely hold back the tears. I knew she didn’t want to leave, but what choice did I have? A job change was making it necessary for my husband and me to move to a new town. We had already purchased a new home there and our current house was for sale. It was becoming increasingly difficult for Mom to be alone with strangers coming in and out at odd times. My emotions were a tangled mess. Hurting to see her pain yet excited about ‘getting my life back’.

Mom had spent the previous eight months with us while my brother recovered from a serious construction accident. Although she had her own apartment and had been living independently, she was not able to drive herself to the doctor, grocery, etc. During her time with us, there had been signs of increasing forgetfulness and confusion. Signs I chose to ignore for fear it would mean she would have to stay with me.

I dearly loved my mother. It’s just that I didn’t like living with her. In fact, during those eight months there were times I thought I would lose my mind.

So now, here we were. As she recalled all the things she would miss about being with us, I simply sat there saying, “I know. I know. But we have to get the house sold and get this move behind us.”

I could have stopped her pain with a few words…all I had to do was to tell her she could stay. I didn’t and the guilt began.

Shortly after she returned to her apartment in W. Va. It was evident she could not live alone. My brother found an excellent caretaker with whom she could live. I let him take care of all the arrangements, guilt continuing to gnaw at me. When I visited, there were times when she seemed happy, others she spent accusing her caretaker of being mean. I always came away feeling even guiltier. Even though we had been given the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, that only explained her behavior. It did nothing to alleviate my thoughts of how I had abandoned her.

My mother passed away in September 1999. After the funeral my brother and I picked up the few possessions she had remaining at her caretaker’s home. On top of the box was a painting my husband had given her during the time she stayed with us. Beverly, her caretaker, told us there were times she would find Mom sitting on her bed with the painting in her lap, gazing at it and talking to herself. My heart broke again.

During those last years of Mom’s illness, I told myself over and over that I should be a better daughter. I should quit my job and bring her to live with me. Deep down I knew I couldn’t handle it but that didn’t stop the guilt. After she was gone, my guilt was as painful as the loss. I wondered if she knew how much I really loved her. Did she forgive me for making her leave my home? Would God forgive me for being so selfish to the one person in this world who loved me unconditionally?

I wish I could say that I found forgiveness and peace right away, but that would be a lie. I know that God has forgiven me for things I’ve done wrong and for things left undone that I should have done. What has taken much longer is finding a way to forgive myself. Only because of His unconditional love, His mercy and grace am I able to do that.

It still hurts to think about it. I still cry when I think about her last night in my home. But I know from my own heart as a mother that if she was able to speak to me right now from her home in heaven, she would say, “I love you. I forgive you. I’ll see you when you come home.” That is exactly what my Heavenly Father says.

One glorious day that will become a reality when I step into Heaven. Until then, I focus on the good memories of my mother and our life together.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - West Virginia Fresh Strawberry Cake

A friend who lives in a warmer climate posted on Facebook this week about getting fresh strawberries from a local farm and it made my mouth water. We are still about 3 weeks away from the beginning of the strawberry harvest here in western Kentucky so I will have to wait a bit before satisfying my taste buds. This week’s recipe is an original from my grandmother (using shortening might have tipped you off that it is an older recipe!).

West Virginia Fresh Strawberry Cake

Cake Ingredients:

½ cup shortening
½ cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 quart fresh strawberries
1 tsp strawberry extract

Icing Ingredients:

1 box confectioner’s sugar
½ stick butter
Evaporated milk (canned cream)

Cake: Combine dry ingredients. Add shortening, eggs and ¼ cup strawberries and mix on low speed until blended. Add milk, slowly increasing speed to high. Beat 3 minutes. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Tap sides of pan lightly to insure batter is evenly distributed. Bake in a 350 degree oven 35-45 minutes. Do not disturb the caked for the first 20 minutes as any disturbance will cause the cake to fall.

Icing: Clean remainder of strawberries, leave small ones whole and slice the larger ones. Put aside in a colander to drain thoroughly. Melt butter over low heat; add confectioner’s sugar and stir. Add milk sparingly, mixing thoroughly after each addition, until icing is creamy. (A maximum of 2 teaspoons should be enough.) Work lumps out of icing by beating vigorously.

When cake is done, allow to cool for 20 minutes. Frost with icing and then top with fresh strawberries.

This cake takes a bit of time to prepare but is definitely worth it. Like so many things in today’s world, cooking has evolved into what can be fixed fast. If you want to bring a bit of the past into your kitchen and on your family’s table, I think this would be a great way to start.

Happy cooking,

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Good Friday Reflection

Good Friday…

I have a difficult time accepting the word good as a description of what happened on that pivotal day in human history. Yes, it is good that God’s plan of redemption was fulfilled. But the magnitude of sacrifice that Jesus willingly made is almost too much for my heart to bear.

The hatred…the ridicule…the 'to the brink of death' scourging.

The incomprehensible pain and suffering of death by crucifixion.

Even more horrific, the time when God the Father turned away from the Son because He bore the sin of mankind.

All punishment that I should bear.

Because I, not Jesus, am the sinner.

I am the one who deserves separation from God.

Yet His love for me, for all of us, was and is so great that He could not, and would not, let us continue to be estranged from Him.

Honestly, I try not to dwell on what happened on the Friday before the Resurrection. Because the weight of it smothers me. The darkness consumes me.

I look forward to Sunday when I celebrate with all the saints the wonder of His resurrection. The moment when death was conquered and mankind was redeemed.

And I am again reminded of the supreme sacrifice He made for me.

May I never take it for granted.

I realize that there may be readers of this blog who may be still questioning the authenticity of the claims of Jesus. I invite you to read "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. His one question when he began his journey in writing this book was ‘Is there credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God?” What will your answer be?


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Crockpot Pork Roast & Gravy

Yeah, I know. The weather is warming up and soon we’ll be putting away the ‘stick to your ribs’ kind of recipes that we typically serve during the winter months, opting instead for those quick & easy meals that don’t require heating up the kitchen! Before you skip off into the land of summer cookery, give this one a try. If you have kids or grandkids getting ready for a busy ball season, you’ll love coming home from the game to this enticing aroma.

Crockpot Pork Roast & Gravy


Pork Roast (3 ½-4 ½ lb.)
1 can Cream of Celery soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 pkg. dried onion soup mix
¼ cup water

In a medium bowl, mix all three soups together until well blended. Pour water in bottom of your crockpot. Place roast in pot, and then pour blended soups over. Cook on low 8 hours. The combination of soup and juices from the meat result in a gravy that is simply delicious!

I usually serve mashed potatoes and a green veggie on the side with either rolls or thick slices of French bread. I use the same mix of soups for beef roast and have even poured it over pork chops before baking. (With the chops, I mix a cup of water with the soup, cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 300 degrees for about an hour.)

Happy cooking,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Mom's Apple Crumble

Since I’ve been thinking about my Mom a lot this week, I thought it fitting to include one of her standard recipes. We always had apples around, either picked from the trees on our property or purchased from Kennedy’s Orchard on Bradshaw Mountain. I think Mom probably used whatever was on hand, not being particularly dependent on any one variety. I normally use Granny Smith if I’m craving that tart flavor. For those who prefer sweeter apples, Gala works well.

Mom’s Apple Crumble


8-10 apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 egg
½ stick butter (can use margarine if you prefer…I just LOVE the taste of butter!)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Peel and slice apples and place in dish. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour and sugar, then add egg and mix with a fork until it is a crumbly texture. Pour over apples. Cut butter into small chunks and sprinkle over the top. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon. Bake for 45 minutes.

This is delicious served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. However, I find it just as tasty the next day and have been known to eat it for breakfast!

Happy cooking,

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Cycle of Life

Here in western Kentucky spring has exploded in a riot of color. Creamy white and blushing pink dogwoods along with bright purple redbud trees grab center stage while brilliant multi-colored tulips, irises, and azaleas happily fill in below. Carpets of lavender creeping phlox complete the picture, another masterpiece created by the Master Artist. Even after living fifty eight years, I continue to be amazed at the beauty that comes from deep within the ground after the dormancy of winter as the cycle of life continues.

Today my husband and I joined the throng of people at local garden centers looking for seeds and plants. We were mostly browsing, checking out what is on the shelves to see if any new and unusual plants have made it to our neck of the woods. Our main purpose today was to purchase a new tree. After two years of hoping our mimosa tree would recover from a late spring freeze, we finally accepted the reality the damage was done and the tree was dying. Last fall we cut it down and had the stump and roots ground up, making way for a new tree to be planted. After months of discussion we agreed to replace it with an Eastern Redbud. Not only do we enjoy the spring color but the size of the tree, even full grown, will nicely fit into the space without encroaching on our neighbor’s driveway. Another cycle of life – a tree dies and is replaced by a new one.

Reflecting on this on the drive home today, I was also reminded of our human cycle of life. You see, spring was my Mom’s favorite time to visit us here in Kentucky. For several years she and Dad would make the trip from West Virginia during spring break to spend the week with us. Numerous times they both commented of how they enjoyed seeing the redbuds and dogwoods blooming in the rolling hills of western Kentucky. Spring usually arrives here three to four weeks ahead of my childhood home.

It seems like only a couple of years since they were able to make that spring time trip. However, it has been well over twenty. Dad died nineteen years ago; Mom eleven. And although it appears as though the passing of time has been swift but unchanging, truth is I am many years older myself. Sure, my mind tells me I am still a thirty something mom, but then minds have a way of playing tricks on us! I am in the season of life my mother was those many years ago when she and Dad made their annual spring visit. A wife, mother, and grandmother. Loving life while bemoaning the swift trajectory toward the end of it. Yet, I am simply part of the cycle of life.

So what am I to do with this reflection? Become depressed with thoughts of dying and what my remaining years will be? The answer was in my mind before the question had time to form. Of course not!

Do I accept the cycle of life?
Yes I do.

Am I sad that I seem to have catapulted through so many years?
A bit.

However, with few regrets from the past I look forward to the rest of my life with anticipation. I am determined to wring every minute portion of living from it, to enjoy each day as the precious gift it is. To focus on leaving a legacy worthy of my time spent taking up space on this planet.

…and the life cycle will continue through my grandchildren…and their children…and their children…

Until one day we will all live for eternity. As the old hymn says, “When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be!” May the life I live be one that will draw them to the Master Artist and His Son who died that we might live.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Elizabeth's Rice Pilaf

Elizabeth's Rice Pilaf


1 lb. pork sausage
1 large onion
½ bunch celery
1 medium green bell pepper
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup uncooked rice (not instant)
4 ½ cups boiling water
2 pkg. Lipton chicken noodle soup
1 6 oz. pkg. slivered almonds

Cut vegetables and fry with sausage until tender and brown. Set aside.

While vegetables and sausage are cooking, pour rice and soup mix into boiling water. Stir until soup mix is dissolved, cover and cook over medium low until rice is tender and all liquid has been absorbed.

Add vegetable/sausage mixture to rice and stir to combine. Add almonds. Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, where neighbors weren’t next door but ‘down the creek’. Yet we formed our own kind of neighborhood. One where folks looked out for one another. Each family had challenges that come with living in a rural mountainous area where the major employment came in coal mining or on the railroad. Some people managed to rise to what the rest of the country would describe as middle class. Most barely scraped by. Yet we didn’t think we were poor. Life was just the way it was and to most of us (children) we were living just as comfortably as the next family.

In our neighborhood (or as we affectionately know it as ‘on our creek’) lived the Adair’s. A family of school teachers, they lived in a large and rambling two story house that had, at one time, been a boarding house. Sometime during my late teens and early adult years, both brothers died, leaving the younger one’s widow alone. I always called her Ms. Adair but to my parents she was simply Elizabeth.

In addition to their family home, the Adair’s owned a small cabin on a private lake a couple of hours drive away. Dad & Mom visited with her there from time to time and it was there that I first tasted this delicious dish. Actually, I think it is probably the first time I ate a savory rice dish. It was love at first taste! I remember thinking that I would love to have seconds or third helpings, but good manners kept me from asking. My mother did ask for the recipe making it possible for us to enjoy it again and again.

As I have been going through my recipes to share on Tasty Tuesday, I have found much more than lists of ingredients and how to put them together. I have been rewarded with memories of days gone by, memories of family and friends and happy times shared.

Sharing food is a big part of community. But if all we share is the experience of sitting down before a plate of food and eating it we have missed the best part of community. You see it is not simply sharing of food that creates and extends our legacy; it is the telling of our stories.

So I hope you’ll come along with me as I tell you some of my story, the parts that I am remembering and savoring once again as I look through my recipe file. For it is in the telling of my story that you will get to know me better.

I look forward to hearing your stories too and encourage you to tell them to your spouse, to your children, to your friends. They are beautiful threads in the tapestry of your life.

Happy cooking and story telling,

Thursday, March 31, 2011


It has been one of those weeks. What started out as one of those days morphed into four days of... What? I really can't point my finger at any one thing, circumstance or person. All I can tell you is I feel like I got sucked into a blender Monday morning and haven't been able to get out since. Blend awhile, add ingredients and blend some more.

After four days I feel quite beat up. There have been moments when I wanted to scream, "STOP!" At others, I've had an overwhelming desire to run away. As in walk out the door, get into my car, and drive into the sunset. Don't pass go, don't stop to collect my $200, just drive directly out of town.

But I kept plugging away. Grasping each brief interlude of calm like a man who falls overboard grasps a life preserver. And then it was back into the blender.

Funny how we tend to think we are the only one going through a frustrating time. Then we start to talk about our day and soon we find another person in the blender with us. Or two or three.

Truth is we all get tossed into the blender at times.

It is not a nice place to be. It leaves us weary and bruised. Bone tired. Frazzled.

Now that I have closed out my work week and stand at the beginning of a four day weekend with family, I've had some time to reflect on this experience. All week I've been saying I feel like I've been tossed into a blender. Each time the pressure increased, I visualized food pieces being added to a blender. I was focused on the 'chunks of food' battering me, mentally shouting 'Ouch'.

And then I was able to REALLY be quiet for more than a few minutes. Time to ask God for His perspective and to listen for His answer.

What is the result when I toss varying pieces of food and liquids into a blender and turn it on? At first everything bumps into each other. As the food gets chopped into smaller and smaller pieces it begins to blend together with the liquid. When finished, I have a smooth and creamy sauce or smoothie.

That's what God desires for me. When tossed into the blender of life, He wants me to allow Him to chop up the hard pieces of me and blend them with His Living Water. The result? I walk through these times with His strength and His grace. I don't allow the frustration to cause me to boil over, spewing angry words or displaying a cranky attitude. He takes my churning emotions and creates a smooth display of His power to overcome the world.

I don't know that all of my reactions to the happenings of the week have been a display of Him. Most likely, they haven't. But I do know that He has been the creaminess this wound up tight spinning gal has needed to keep me sane.

Hummm...maybe blended isn't so bad after all!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Heavenly Rice

Heavenly Rice


3 to 3 ½ cups cooked rice
1 cup sugar
1 medium size can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 medium bottle maraschino cherries, drained and cut in half
1 cup Cool Whip
1 ½ cups miniature marshmallows

Mix sugar with rice, gently stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool completely. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Place in covered container in refrigerator until well chilled.

My Dad’s older sister ran a boarding house in a Athens, West Virginia and this was one of her go-to recipes for a quick and economical dessert for hungry college girls. (No guys allowed in her house!) Each time I take a bite of Aunt Sarah’s ‘heavenly rice’ I am transported back in time to her kitchen table, watching her dishing up her home cooked treats to serve family style to her ‘girls’.

The only way I ate rice as a child was sweetened and most of the time it was for breakfast. I was grown before I realized you could eat it any other way! Now it is a staple of our diet as well, but most often we season it with savory spices to serve with meat and veggies.

Happy cooking,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Pimento Cheese Spread

Pimento Cheese Spread
(found in the Heloise column in the newspaper 30+ years ago)


1 lb. Velveeta cheese (I use the 2%)
1 cup Miracle Whip (or mayo if you prefer)
½ cup very finely chopped sweet pickles
4 oz. jar pimentos

Grate the cheese over a large mixing bowl, using the large openings of the grater. Add half of the Miracle Whip, pickles, and pimentos. Fold to combine. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

The original recipe stated, “Once you make this I guarantee you will never buy store bought again…this is much better and will really save you money.” Many times I have tried recipes because they were ‘guaranteed’ to taste great only to be disappointed. Not so with this pimento cheese spread. I’ve never turned back to store bought!

*To further reduce cost, you can use the store brand cheese. I’ve used both and can’t tell the difference once mixed. Also, if you like your spread a bit drier, drain the pimentos before adding them.

Happy cooking,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Waiting Rooms

What is it about a waiting room that brings out the impatience in us? Or am I alone in my propensity to become irritated at the thought of having to wait? When I walk into a doctor’s office at my appointment time, is it unrealistic to expect to see her promptly? What about the checkout lines at the grocery store? I seem to pick the shortest, only to find it has the slowest clerk or the person with multiple orders or who wants to chat it up with the clerk. You’ve probably figured it out…I simply do no like to wait. Anywhere. Any time. But the reality is as soon as I leave the doctor’s office, if I stop at the bank or grocery I am, more than likely, going to have to wait again. There’s just no getting around most of the waiting rooms of our lives.

That same impatience with waiting carries over into the rest of my life. When I think about it, I realize a lot of my life has been spent in longing for something else, creating the illusion that I am ‘waiting’. A better house, a better job, a new car…with each change a temporary sense of satisfaction quickly replaced by a new longing. A new waiting room.

As my faith has grown, I have found those longings have diminished but the waiting rooms have not gone away. They simply revolve around other issues.

In her book Walking by Faith-Lessons Learned in the Dark, Jennifer Rothschild stated, “If we focus on the prize alone we’ll see the waiting as a trial, missing the joy of the journey and overlooking the treasures along the way.”

I fear I have overlooked far too many treasures. Looking back I can see some of them. However, I know I didn’t fully enjoy them at the time. How many more did I miss altogether?

It would be easy to look back with regret and focus on past failures. God reminds me in the words of Paul that I must ‘forget what is behind and strain forward to what is ahead. I must press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 3:14

In my waiting rooms today and tomorrow, instead of simply praying for a quick way out I will seek to be still and get connected to God. Then, in anticipation, look for treasures along the way.

Like Paul,
My desire is God’s desire.
My prize is Christ’s will for me.
My hope is in God alone.

May you also find joy in the journey!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - For Peanut Butter Lovers

I know, I's not Tuesday. I had this week's recipe saved in a file, everything ready to copy and paste, add a few comments and send it out to the bloggy world before leaving for work yesterday.

And was one of those days. First, I discovered there was no hot water. Big bummer! After finding it was not as simple as throwing a breaker or hitting a reset button, I survived a lukewarm shower and got ready for work. Having very few minutes left to get to work on time, I scurried into my home office to do the whole copy, paste, send thing...

No electricity to any outlet in the room. That 'big bummer' comment? Let's just say it was being said boldly and in all caps at that moment.

I won't bore you with details but bottom line it is now Wednesday night and there is still no hot water. Outlet problem was temporarily resolved this evening but the computer has been VERY cranky. As in this is the second time I've tried to compose this post. The first one disappeared into cyber space.

There is my novel length explanation for the posting delay. (I had a teacher once that said my reports were always more like a granny dress than a mini skirt. Only those of you who were in high school when both styles were popular at the same time will understand his drift!)

In spite of the difficulties I've experienced the past few days, I am excited to share this absolutely delicious recipe. If you like quick and easy dessert recipes, this fits the bill. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Pie
(from my best friend Kae’s recipe file)


8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons milk
6 oz. Cool Whip
1 graham cracker pie crust

Place cream cheese and sugar in bowl. Beat at low speed until just blended and then at medium speed until fluffy. Add peanut butter, continue mixing until well blended. Then add milk and Cool Whip. Mix at low speed until well blended. Pour into pie shell. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to allow peanut butter mixture to set up.

*I sometimes substitute a chocolate cookie crust and then garnish with shaved chocolate.

I love this recipe for two reasons – it is super easy and quick plus it is a peanut butter lover’s dream pie. Why not whip one up for a mid-week treat?

Happy cooking!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Life Changed

I intended to write an article today outlining my reasons for wanting to attend the She Speaks Conference for writers & speakers. There was this contest, you see, with two fully paid scholarships at stake. My thoughts have been tumbling around all week in preparation for today.

And then...

life changed. For thousands of people. In minutes a devastating earthquake crumbled buildings and the resulting tsunami swept away buildings, cars and people. The death toll keeps climbing.

It is almost too much to bear. Yet I go back to the news reports to see and hear the latest updates.

And I pray.

...For those who are still alive but waiting for rescue. Dear God, please lead the emergency personnel to them. ...For those who have loved ones who are missing. Lord, calm them and fill them with Your peace. ...For those whose family member will not be coming home. In the midst of their grief, make Your presence known.

Yesterday the people of Japan lived out their normal routine. Dads & Moms went to work, kids went to school. They shopped for food. They cooked meals and ate together. They slept in their homes. Just a regular day.

We all do, you know.

Live each day as though tomorrow will be a repeat of today. Assuming we will get up and eat breakfast with our family, go to work and then return home. Taking for granted those precious moments. The people.

It could happen to any of us, this life changing moment in time.

It doesn't have to be an earthquake or tsunami. It could be an automobile accident, massive heart attack or possibly a violent crime.

In a second, life as we know it can be unalterably changed forever.

Today, my thoughts and prayers are with our global neighbors in Japan. They are also here with you and me. While we pray for those directly impacted by this tragedy, let us also pray that God will forgive us for taking His gift of life for granted. Let us pray that He will grant us mercy and allow us another day to tell our families how much we love them. To be a better neighbor. To be all that He desires us to be.

Most of all, to live fully engaged in His kingdom's work.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Kicking Canned Salmon Up a Notch

Here's the recipe I promised last week. My mouth is watering already just thinking about how yummy these are.

Chesapeake Spiced Salmon Cakes
Courtesy of Whole Foods

1 can wild caught pink salmon, drained
1 2/3 cups panko breadcrumbs, divided
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoons canola oil

In a large bowl, break up salmon into small pieces, discarding any pieces of bone or skin. Gently fold in 2/3 cup breadcrumbs, seasoning, bell pepper, onions, parsley, salt & pepper, mayonnaise and egg until combined. Shape into 12 small patties.

Transfer remaining 1 cup breadcrumbs to a wide, shallow dish. Gently coat each patty in breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess, and transfer to a large plate. Heat 2 Tablespoons canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Arrange 6 patties in the skillet in a single layer and cook, gently flipping once, until deep golden brown all over (2-3 minutes per side). Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate when done. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and heat. Repeat process with the remaining 6 patties. Serve hot.

Note: I absolutely LOVE crab cakes but will not pay the price for crab and refuse to use imitation crab. When I first tried this recipe I was hooked. It makes ordinary canned salmon taste just like the real deal, plus it is healthy! The only thing I change from this original recipe from Whole Foods© is I use Miracle Whip instead of mayo. That is simply because my husband and I prefer MW so I do not keep mayo in my pantry.

Hope y’all enjoy this as much as we have. Would love to hear your comments!

Happy Cooking,

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Forty Year Old Prom Dress

The earth is coming alive again. Like fireflies on a dark summer night, spots of color grab my attention. Bright yellow daffodils and soft purple crocuses provide a welcome respite from the drabness of winter.

It is spring, when a young woman’s thoughts turn to…..prom, of course! Although her Senior Prom is still a couple of months away, this weekend my oldest granddaughter begins her search for that perfect dress. After all, she explained, the dress color must be chosen in time for her boyfriend to place his tux rental order. Talking about her shopping plans and the price of prom dresses these days took me back to my own Senior Prom.

…to the dress.

If you are female, you know what I am talking about. That one dress you see that just begs you to buy it. The one you dream about wearing.

My dress was peach, my second favorite color at the time. As much as I longed for it, I don’t remember any details about the dress other than the color. And the sense of loss and sadness knowing that I would never have it. Quite simply, it was not in our budget. There was no way possible my parents could afford to buy the dress so it stayed on the mannequin in the window. Faced with little to no money for a prom dress, I decided to do what any seventeen year old female would do. (Well…think I’m stretching things a bit there!) I would make my own dress. After all, I was taking Home Economics and we were learning how to sew. Key word? Learning!

My Mom and I went shopping for the pattern and material. Since I was only learning how to sew, I chose a simple a-line dress. I found a soft white voile material with small red pin dots and white silk for lining. A red velvet ribbon at the empire waist would be the crowning touch. With visions of walking into the dance in my own ‘designer’ dress, I promptly carried all my treasures to Home Ec. The first step was to lay out the pattern, cut out the correct pieces for the dress I wanted to make, and then pin them to the material. No problem. The second step was to duplicate those steps with the lining material. BIG problem! It was very slippery making it a challenge to correctly attach the pattern pieces. Then came sewing the pieces together….

I was in way over my head. My frustration grew with each passing minute and along with it, my sadness. However, all was not lost. My Home Ec. Teacher, Mrs. Stafford, came to my rescue. She helped me pin and cut and sew, piece by piece. She walked me through putting the zipper in properly. She even coached me through slip stitching the red velvet ribbon trim. Actually, the dress was more her handiwork than mine. It turned out exactly as I pictured it in my mind and even though I did not get to wear the peach fantasy, I still felt like Cinderella dressed up for the ball on prom night.

I don’t know why my conversation with my granddaughter triggered this memory. I haven’t thought about either dress in years. But within this recollection, I uncovered a priceless treasure that had nothing to do with what I wore to Senior Prom. It was the love of Mrs. Stafford who saw a young girl with dreams of being beautiful on prom night. Who, she knew, could not afford the dress of her dreams and did not have the sewing skills to change pattern pieces and material into a simple but charming dress. She just quietly stepped in and helped me in such a way that, at the time, I didn’t realize just how much she was doing.

Mrs. Stafford died not too many years after I graduated. I never got to tell her how much her unselfish gift of her time and talent meant to me. I wonder how many other selfless acts went unnoticed. Did she realize the difference she was making in our lives? Did anyone stop to tell her thank you? I certainly hope so.

While I am saddened to think that, perhaps, she didn’t see the results of her love and attention to all the girls she taught, I am also encouraged. Encouraged to know that even though I may not receive a visible marker that I have made a difference in another’s life, it doesn’t mean I haven’t. Many times that seed has to grow for forty years before a chance conversation will trigger the memory, revealing the treasure.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people… Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)

Google Analytics Alternative