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,
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