All posts by turg7269

About turg7269

I am a Minnesota woman who grew up on a farm in Swede Grove Township and spent much time in the Arizona Desert during the winters. For many years I was a professional communications writer. I had my own recipe column with a weekly publication and was the press secretary/assistant communication director for Minnesota's Secretary of State. I am a two time cancer survivor and am currently in remission from Multiple Myeloma a blood cancer.

What Is On My Mind Today? Demise of the Last Childhood Tooth Filling


dentist office

This household has started out the New Year with a bang!  My quarterly cancer tests showed a cancer marker had returned.  So, I will get re-tested in six weeks.  My husband was diagnosed with his first cataract.  And, the very next day while eating, of all things, meat loaf, I lost a tooth filling.

Now, for most people getting a filling replaced is not a big deal. But, for this gal, with all of the bone hardening drugs that I have to take for my cancer damaged bones, going to the dentist could end up with complications that could give the most stoic of souls nightmares.

After my tongue found and fell in love with the sharp hollow crater, I  immediately reported the loss to my dentist.  An appointment time was set for the next day.  It wasn’t too long before the dentist’s office called me back to ask if I could come in a half hour earlier.  No problem!

When I got to my dentist’s office there wasn’t even time to get my new insurance card back into my purse before I was called back.  My dentist of many years came in and informed me that the filling I had lost was a very old one. She acknowledged that it had done very good service, but it was now time for a crown.

It was show time.  Needles delivered pain, then numbness and sun glasses went on.  The high whine of the drill, the only sound more obnoxious than finger nails on a chalk board, resounded throughout the office and my brain.

As the drilling commenced in earnest, I tried to mentally focus on my favorite place, the Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National park.  I could see the the water falls cascading hundreds of feet straight down into the icy cold crystal clear glacier lake.  I could almost hear wind whistling through the craggy mountains peaks.  Almost, but not quite.

Dentist drills are hard to ignore.  I started thinking about that old tooth filling.  My last from childhood? Instantly, I slipped away from peaceful mountain meadows right into an over-sized antique dentist chair in Litchfield, Minnesota.


Dr. Farish was our family dentist.  He had curly grey hair, wore glasses and a white lab coat, and seemed to be always leaning over me with a drill bit the size of a car jack clutched in his fist of enormously fat fingers as he threatened, “If you don’t sit still, you will get Novocaine”.

dentist drill 2

Somehow trips to a medical doctor in those days always ended in shots….in your end.  A successful trip to the dentist was not the absence of cavities. It was avoiding a Novocaine shot to the head.

dentist drill

It was an experience sitting beneath the well-oiled cables and spinning pulleys that sprang into action when the drill began its work. The drill was so big and slow that your whole face shook as it came into contact with the offending cavity.  You knew the dentist was getting somewhere when you could smell the putrid smoke of your burning teeth.

There you sat with your tiny hands clutched to the arms of the dentist chair as if your life depended on it. Your focus centered on the prevention of wiggling, grimacing or groaning.  Wiggling, grimacing or groaning was to be avoided at all costs as it sent you straight to the head of the line for the dreaded Novocain shot.

Many a sin was repented in that chair.  Hoping a loving God would prevent your demise by drowning in your own spit or the perspiration dripping off of the dentist’s forehead.  As your mouth overflowed with juices, the good doctor shouted above the whine of the drill that if he stops for spitting, it is only going to take longer.

dentist sink

Prayers were said for courage so that you wouldn’t shame yourself by crying, as your siblings were usually watching in the doorway. Going to the dentist was an officially sanctioned farm family group activity and was considered a form of entertainment in the spectator sport category.

Visiting, a long lost communications art form where people politely talk to each other face to face, was widely practiced during my youth. Even, in a dentist chair.  With a mouth full of huge dentist fingers and equipment, a nod or well-timed grunt sufficed to keep the conversation going.

During each visit my dentist would retell the story of his heart attack while on the local golf course. More details were included with every appointment.

The basics of the story were that my dentist was golfing with his good friend who was a surgeon.  This surgeon not only practiced at our local clinic, but he had written a book about making a surgeon that had topped some list that impressed adults.  He was a local celebrity to be sure.

There my dentist was, golf club in hand when he was dropped right to the ground. Not by lightening, but by a heart attack. As he laid on the green drifting between life and death, his golfing buddy, the surgeon, began screaming, “Somebody get a doctor!”

Once the heart attack story was completed and after the last of the squeaky metal filling had be pushed into your tooth with the same tool grandma used to get walnuts out of their shells, the aqua blue paper drool bib held together with alligator clips was removed.

Your reward for “being a good little girl”  was picking a plastic gemstone ring out of the little square orange box, that would break before you got home. Or, a colored animal shaped pencil eraser that smeared more than it erased.

Off you’d go, happily skipping away with your hard earned prize and a new tooth brushing kit.

Of course you’d have to try out that tooth brushing kit as soon as you got home.  Into the bathroom you’d go excited to use the little kid’s sized tube of toothpaste on the new toothbrush.

Then, after you gave your pearly whites a rigorous going over.  After a quick inspection in the mirror of your glowing smile, it was time to put the pink pill that came with tooth brushing kit in your mouth and chew it.

dentist plaque-tablet-1

When you opened your mouth the red dye from the pill made it look like you’d bit your tongue off and were bleeding to death.  I am convinced that whoever invented that pink pill had no intention of ever having any child successfully pass the toothbrushing test.

The day’s adventures ended as an exhausted youngster said her bedtime prayers with pink teeth. Or in this case, with a new crown.





What Is On My Mind Today? Buying a Bomb at a Garage Sale

This story from Foxnews about a live World War II shell in an Oregon’s women’s shed  reminds me of when I bought the bomb at the garage sale.

Yup, I bought a 90 mm solid brass artillery shell at a garage sale in Shoreview for $3.25 to use as an umbrella holder in my entry way.

It looked like a huge solid brass 22 shell. The fellow had brought it home from WWII. The shell had been in his living room for over 60 years.

When I got it home, transported of course in my red Corolla with my daughter in the car, a neighbor boy looked in it and said, “Pat, there is shit in there!.”

So, we got a flash light and sure enough, the detonator was still in there and when I flipped it over the percussion cap was still intact on the bottom.

My neighbor, the one who has the brain tumor now who is a veteran, happened to be outside and hollered to keep that thing away from his house.

That was when I realized, I was $3.25 and a bang away from paradise.

I went indoors and called an army surplus store to see if it was dangerous. The nice fellow that answered the phone gently and calmly explained that explosives explode. Large explosives explode largely.

So I called the police, who called the bomb squad. It’s just how things go some days.

They told us it was safe as long as it was laying on its side. We all took a step back.

A discussion commenced. It was pointed out that I had no fear of the thing when I was driving all over with it in the trunk of my car.

Reality changes perspectives.

I tend not to lose arguments, if I decide to take one on. As former Secretary Mark Ritchie once complimented me after I learned that I was too short to be a Civil War soldier, without missing a beat and with a big smile on his face, he responded, “Oh, they’d take you, you’re a fighter.”

Recognizing when a cause is truly lost is a gift. The gifted officer, a true credit to his department, demonstrated an exemplary commitment to public service and bravely, and as soft as a feather, laid it on its side. He put it into the trunk of his car and hauled it away.

I arrived back in the house just in time to hear a television news station announce that a woman in Centerville had bought a bomb at a garage sale. My ever dignified and quiet husband said he was going to his room as the phone rang. It was his grandmother from Pine City who just said, “It was you, wasn’t it!”

The bomb squad had to blow it up and I never got back a single piece of brass. A shame! It was a nice piece of brass. It had 3-5 dynamite blasting caps worth of powder still in it.

After that I did see more bombs for sale at garage sales in Shoreview,. People had stolen them from the Arden Hills arsenal. I never purchased any more, not even the homemade dumb bells made with large live artillery shells, much like the one pictured below, duct taped to each end. A situation that clearly illustrated the difference between a dumb bell and a dumb ass.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but DAMN!



Grandma Pat Letter: Cat Warfare: Cats Predict Catastrophic Children’s Blizzard of January 12, 1888

Dear Kids:

I could not help but notice that at a school bus stop this morning there was a young person wearing shorts, with no jacket, hat or mittens.  It is a Minnesota January and it is cold!  Going outside in the winter not dressed for the weather demonstrates even less common sense than fashion sense.  Let me tell you, there can be very bad consequences for not dressing warm in the winter.

Did you hear on the news this morning about a meteorological phenomena called a “Bomb Cyclone.”   This type of weather event is not new, but it is still dangerous and deserving of respect.  Well over one hundred years ago there was another “Bomb Cyclone” a winter  blizzard or “White Hurricane” that hit Minnesota and its neighboring states on January 12, 1888.   It was named the “Children’s Blizzard.”

Scores Frozen 4

The day of the Children’s Blizzard began with an unusually beautiful coppery colored sky.  Folks who had been trapped for months by severe cold and snow inside of dark windowless sod houses or drafty wooden homes emerged into the bright daylight to be caressed by a soft warm “velvety” breeze from the south.  The morning only seemed to improve with each passing hour.  Soon, the temperature had risen above freezing and in some areas into the 40’s and 50’s.

“Carl Saltee, a 16-year-old Norwegian immigrant in Fortier, Minn., remembered that “on the 12th of January 1888 around noontime it was so warm it melted snow and ice from the window until after 1 p.m.”

This beautiful January morning energized everyone.  After being housebound for so long almost everyone found a reason to head outdoors.  Adults found work to do, and for the first time in weeks children went to school.

blizzard 4

Schools in those days were mostly one-room country schools.  I actually went to one of those when I was in first grade. It was a long walk across a field and neighbor’s cow pasture, filled with cows, to get there.  I remember being cold a lot.  My grandmother braided a rug for me to have under my desk to help keep my feet warm. Also, there were no indoor toilets we had to use outdoor outhouses which were back behind the school building.  Trudging through snow drifts with a full bladder and parking your little bare butt on a frosty cold splint-laden wooden toilet seat in sub-zero temperatures is an experience not soon  forgotten.

blizzard outhouse

The children in 1888 also had to walk to school.  Yes, they, too, used out houses to go poop at school and at home. No, there was not any toilet paper. Most of these people were so poor that they couldn’t afford paper for school lessons. They certainly would not throw the precious commodity down an outhouse hole.  Leaves, grass, hay or corn cobs roughly served the purpose.  Poison Ivy leaves were identified at a young age and were to be avoided at all costs.

Not knowing that a horrible storm was coming and with the weather so warm, many of the youngsters shed their heavy winter coats and boots to enjoy the freedom of traipsing across the prairies with no hats or mittens and sporting lighter attire and footwear.  Undeterred by the presence of a teacher and the prospect of actually learning something, the students arrived at school excited to see and play with their friends.  Soon they were all inside, at their desks and reciting lessons.

Today computers, radars and even satellites in outer space are used to help the National Weather Service predict weather. Weather forecasts, watches and warnings are communicated immediately to the public on cell phones, computers, television and radio. Even with all of the current state-of-the-art technology, weather reports are not always accurate, nor do people heed weather alerts.  But, imagine living in a time where the only mass communication was Morse Code, telegraphs and newspapers.

In 1870 the government assumed responsibility for weather data collection and forecasting.  That would be only five years after the Civil War ended and still six years before George Armstrong Custer was killed at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  Soldiers from the signal corps were in charge of weather predictions.

Weather data was collected by observers who measured air pressure, wind speed and temperatures several times a day, then telegraphed their data to district offices.  The district office would then decide whether or not to issue any weather warnings.  For some reason no Cold Front Warning was issued by a human for the Children’s blizzard.

Cats on the other hand did try to warn their humans about the impeding catastrophic change in the weather.  Cat owners reported that the morning of the storm their felines acted very strangely and began chasing their own tails or spinning.  Obviously mimicking the spin in the atmosphere.

What made this storm so dangerous?  The time of day it struck, its viciousness and the utter lack of a warning.  The blizzard raced across more than 780 miles in 17 hours as it slammed into Nebraska, the Dakotas, Kansas, Colorado, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Temperatures fell almost 100 degrees in 24 hours. The temperature dropped 18 degrees in just the first three minutes of the storm.  Snow drifts were quickly 20-25 feet deep.


One minute the sun was shining and then,

“About 3:30, we heard a hideous roar. … At first we thought that it was the Omaha train which had been blocked and was trying to open the track. My wife and I were near the barn when the storm came as if it had slid out of sack. A hurricane-like wind blew, so that the snow drifted high in the air, and it became terribly cold. Within a few minutes, it was as dark as a cellar, and one could not see one’s hand in front of one’s face.”

Wind speeds were measured at above sixty miles an hour in Minneapolis and gusted to over eighty miles an hour.  Roofs were blown off. Homes collapsed.  While there was still plenty of light fluffy snow left from an earlier storm to blow around,

“This was not a storm of drifting lace snowflakes, but of flash-frozen droplets firing sideways from the sky, an onslaught of speeding ice needles moving at more than 60 miles per hour. Even without the whiteout conditions — climate experts call this zero/zero visibility — many people couldn’t see because the microscopic bits of ice literally froze their eyes shut.”

To see, frozen eyelids had to be torn open or torn off.

There was no escaping the power of the storm,

As Newspaperman Charles Morse, founder of the Lake Benton News in Lake Benton, Minnesota reported,

“It was astonishing the manner in which this fine stuff would be driven through the smallest aperture. My sleeping quarters were on the second floor leading off a hallway at the head of the stairs. … On arriving home I found the wind had forced open the door and the stairway was packed with snow, and when I reached my room I found my bed covered with several inches of snow which had filtered over the threshold and through the keyhole.”

The great tragedy of the blizzard was that most of those who died were children who were caught in the storm walking home from school and farmers.   It is estimated that over 235 people died, 213 were children.  Seventy people lost their lives in Minnesota.

Many people, even those walking very short distances, became lost in the blinding snow and froze to death.  People were actually found frozen to death standing up.  The Minneapolis Tribune reported that recovered bodies were frozen so solid that they “give forth a metallic sound” when struck. Both humans and animals died from suffocation. There were so many fine ice crystals in the air that it was impossible to breathe.


Many of the dead were found right away. Some bodies were not discovered until spring when the snow melted.  Others were never found, because wolves ate them.

Teachers, parents and other brave souls did their best to save lives.

“By forming in parties of ten each, taking a long rope and marching across the prairie in line, the villagers today found all the lost school children except one”

“Schoolteacher Seymour Dopp in Pawnee City, Nebraska, kept his 17 students at school when the storm began at 2 p.m. They stayed overnight, burning stockpiled wood to keep warm. The next day, parents made their way over five-foot snow drifts to rescue their children.”

“In Great Plains, South Dakota, two men rescued the children in a schoolhouse by tying a rope from the school to the nearest shelter to lead them to safety.”

Minnie Freeman, heroine of the Blizzard of 1888, 12_BLIZZARD1888
Minnie Freeman

Minnie Freeman, a teacher in Nebraska, successfully led her students to shelter after the storm tore the roof off of her one-room sod schoolhouse.  Another teacher wanted the parents of her students to know that they were safe inside the school so she had the children continuously ring the school bell all through the night.

Others were not so lucky.

“Lois Royce found herself trapped with three of her students in her schoolhouse. By 3 p.m., they had run out of heating fuel. Her boarding house was only 82 yards away, so she attempted to lead the children there. However, visibility was so poor that they became lost and the children, two nine-year-old boys and a six-year-old girl, froze to death. The teacher survived, but her feet were frostbitten and had to be amputated.”

“Ten-year-old Johnny Walsh of Avoca, Minn., froze to death trying to find his house.”

“Six children of James Baker froze to death while trying to make it home from school near Chester township, Minnesota. They were found with their arms entwining each other in the snow.”

Many times the rescuers themselves perished in the blinding storm.

“Norwegian immigrant Seselia Knutson became frantic when her husband, Knut, was trapped out in the blizzard. She went out to look for him and became so confused she froze to death under a sled just 40 steps from her front door.”

There were animals that rescued people from the storm.

Bear Claws the Heroic Dog

“Omaha Indians Charley Stabler and Rough Clouds were hunting and trapping muskrat and beaver along Beaver Creek near Genoa, Neb., with Stabler’s dog, Bear Claws. The young men took shelter under a tree, and snow drifted over them.

Stabler awoke the next morning. Rough Clouds was dead. Bear Claws was missing. Stabler could not break out of the tomb of ice and snow.

About noon Jan. 15, Stabler heard his dog whining and digging over his head. They both dug frantically and broke through the crust of snow. Stabler, with the dog at his side, crawled toward a dim light in the distance and fell against a farmhouse door. The farm family took him in and cared for his frozen hands and feet.

Bear Claws went on to the Omaha camp where he whined and whimpered until some of the men followed him to the farmhouse. The dog later led the men to the place where Rough Cloud’s body lay. Tracks in the snow showed that the dog had made many trips back and forth, trying to bring help to his master and friend.”

Leader of the Herd.

“A girl named Mary was out with the family cows in an Antelope County, Neb., field of corn stubble.

One of the old cows led the herd, and when it was time to take the cattle in, Mary would hold the old cow’s tail to walk home and the others would follow. The old cow started for home when the blinding storm hit. Mary grabbed the tail and was safely guided home.”

Old Blind Horse

“Theodore Peterson of Oakland, Neb., had been to the mill at Lyons to grind wheat for flour when he was caught in the storm. He was driving a wagon hitched to an old blind mare and another horse. The blind horse had been over the road many times without seeing it, so Peterson loosened the reins and let her find the way home.”

The Children’s Blizzard left its mark on the hearts, minds and bodies of many of its victims.  Families forever mourned the loss of their loved ones.  Towns would toll their school and church bells each year on the anniversary of the storm. Many people bore physical scars from their tangle with the bomb cyclone of January 1888.  Wooden legs, finger-less hands and missing ears announced that they had won the war and survived the blizzard, but had lost the fight with frostbite.

It’s effects also were forever remembered by your great-great-grandparents who actually survived that storm.  As a child I remember being told about a blizzard so bad that people lost their way trying to get from their barn back to their house and died wandering around in their field.  That is why from then on whenever winter set in, a rope was strung between our farmhouse and barn.

So when your mom and dad ask you to wear a coat, and put a hat and mittens in your backpack do it.  It is always better to be prepared and safe than lost in a prairie and sorry.

Then, too, if I ever see you kids waiting for a school bus wearing shorts without even a coat on a Minnesota January morning, I will conclude you are issuing a dare to look ridiculous.  I will accept the challenge and carry it out during your very next school event.  It will involve Grandpa’s Elmer Fudd hat and his rubber boots…the ones with the buckles.


Stay warm and toasty,


Grandma Pat









Letters to My Grandson: Cat Warfare…A Very, Very Bad Cat!

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter


Dear Kids,

Hope you are having a great week. Christmas vacation is always a good time.  I really enjoyed our time together this week!

This week’s edition of “Cat Warfare” is the mustached “Herr Hitler Cat.”  Not only did this unfortunate cat look like Adolf Hitler, but he was a bad decision maker and actually hung out with guy.  Always, remember you can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you cannot pick your friend’s nose or your relatives. It is important to pick good friends, you don’t want any like this guy, because Adolf Hitler was a very, very bad cat!

Hitler started World War II in Europe.  Later the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, but that is another story. However, Hitler started the war in Europe in 1939 when he invaded the country of Poland.   He lied about Poland attacking Germany, then invaded…

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What Is On My Mind Today? International Bread Recipe War: Swede vs French

What is on my mind today?

The difference between being a Swede and French.

I have just spent the past 24 hours making Brioche bread. I wanted to see how different it was from a buttery rich Swedish Egg Bread.

This process was very reaffirming for me and I learned a very important lesson.

Apparently, I like people the same way I like a good bread recipe….the more pragmatic…the better.

Recipes: Ring in the New Year with Cheesecake: Cherry-Cheesecake Dessert, Cheesecake Factory Original, Oreo Cheesecake, and Pumpkin Cheesecake with Streusel Topping

What a beautiful day! Christmas may be over, but that beautiful afterglow of the holiday excitement and fun still fills my home. Inside the Christmas decorations provide so much color and my Christmas tree joyfully sparkles with colored lights, forty years of ornament collecting and lots, and lots of tinsel.

Outside, Minnesota does not disappoint either.  The diamond sprinkled virgin snow’s brightness blinds as the tree’s blue-violet shadows race east trying to outrun a darkness that creeps closer and closer as a weak distant sun, held hostage by small ice crystal rainbows, emits pastel light, but no warmth.

In quiet solitude and peace I reflect on the moment and take stock of my blessings.  Then, I noticed that my patio door is completely frozen shut in the sub-zero temperatures. I cannot budge it.  My husband will have to get it open when he gets home from work. Here’s to hoping my dog’s have big bladders!

Over the past several months I have made all of these cheesecakes as a part of my, “Dessert of the Week” campaign for my next-door neighbor of over 30 years, who is my age and fighting a cancerous brain tumor. He likes his sweets. Other neighbors have stepped up to take one for the team by also consuming these desserts and therefore helping to reduce weight gain risk for the cook.

My neighbor’s gave these desserts two thumbs up.

These cheesecakes would be great to serve anytime an occasion calls for a special dessert and especially at a New Year’s party.


cherry cheesecake 1

This recipe is a bit lighter that cheesecake, but just as tasty!

Cherry-Cheesecake Dessert

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


2 cups vanilla wafers, crushed
1/2 cup of butter, melted

1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of powdered sugar
16-ounces of Cool Whip, divided
2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
3 cups of milk

1 can of cherry pie filling
remaining Cool Whip

Make the crust in a medium-sized mixing bowl by combining the crushed vanilla wafers and melted butter.  Press into the bottom of a 9 X 13 inch cake pan and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine cream cheese and powdered sugar.  When completely combined, gently fold in about 1-1/2 cups of Cool Whip.   Spread over cooled crust.

In a large mixing bowl combine pudding mix and milk.  Let set. Stir in sour cream and lemon juice.  Fold in the remaining 1-1/2 cups of Cool Whip.  Spread over the cream cheese mixture.

Top with remaining  Cool Whip and cherries.  May garnish with chopped pecans.

Chill for several hours before serving.

Blogger’s note:  I am not a big fan of using Cool Whip, so I have substituted equal amounts of real sweetened whip cream in some recipes.



Original Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake from “My Recipes”

Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring from pan with parchment paper. Position oven rank in middle of the oven.  Put a large pan in the oven filled with 1/2 inch of water.  The pan has to be big enough to hold the 9-inch spring form pan. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup melted margarine

4 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 large eggs

1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons sugar

In a small mixing bowl mix together crust ingredients of graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon and 1/3 cup melted butter.  Press the crust firmly onto the bottom and about two-thirds of the way up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan.  Wrap a large piece of aluminum foil around the bottom of the pan and put into a freezer until filling is prepared.

In a small mixing bowl whisk the eggs together until frothy.

In a large mixing bowl use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla.  Scrape down the sides of mixing bowl.  Add eggs and mix until the eggs are just incorporated.

Remove crust from freezer and pour in filling.  Carefully place cheesecake into the pan with the water.  This is called a water bath. Bake for 12 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake until the cheesecake turns golden on top.  About 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove cake, place on wire rack and cool.

Make topping in a small bowl by mixing together the sour cream and sugar.  Spread evenly over the cake.

Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours.   Remove from pan and serve.



Oreo Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.


1-1/2 cups of Oreo cookies crumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted 

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese,
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
pinch of salt
15 Oreos cookies, crushed in to medium-sized pieces

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

In a small bowl mix together Oreo crumbs and melted butter. Press firmly onto the bottom and about two-thirds up the sides. Chill crust in freeze until filling is made.

In a large-sized mixing bowl with an electric mixture combine the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt and beat until combined.  Fold in crushed Oreos until the cookie chunks are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Pour cheesecake mixture over crust and bake until edges are set and center of cheesecake mixture is only slightly jiggly, 50 to 60 minutes.

Let cheesecake cool completely in pan.  Drizzle with the melted chocolate.

Cool for at least 3 hours, remove from pan and serve.


Pumpkin Cheesecake with Streusel Crumb Topping

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 8-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.

1-1/2 cups of crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup of butter, melted

2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1 can (15-ounce) pumpkin pie filling
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2  cup of chopped pecans (optional)

In a small mixing bowl combine butter and graham cracker crumbs.  When the crumbs are coated with the butter, press into the bottom and two-third’s up the side of prepared pan.  Put into the freezer to chill until filling is prepared.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer combine cream cheese, eggs, vanilla and sugar.   Beat until mixture is smooth.

Pour 1/2 of the filling into pan. Evenly spread. And freeze for an hour.

To the remaining 1/2 of the filling add the can of pumpkin pie filling, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  Stir until completely combined.  Evenly spread the pumpkin filling over the cooled filling that is already in the pan.

Put in oven and bake for 35 minutes.

While the cheesecake is baking in a small bowl make crumb topping by mixing butter, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon together until combined.  Top the cheesecake with crumb topping and return to the oven for another 25 minutes.

Remove cheesecake from oven while the top is still slightly jiggly.

Cool to room temperature.  Chill in refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.


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Kwanzaa and African Peanut Soup

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter


It is important in a diverse society to celebrate our differences and learn about our friends and neighbor’s traditions. The holiday season is a great time of year to expand our cultural horizons.  Learning about each other humanizes us and draws us together.  Humanity’s goal should be to see each other as individuals whose lives are precious and who were created and endowed with civil rights by a just and loving God.

Happy Kwanzza!


Kwanzaa is a celebration of culture, family and community that began over forty years ago. Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga to improve the lives of African Americans by reviving and instilling an appreciation for original African values.

This cultural tradition takes place over seven days, beginning on December 26 and ending on January 1. The seven symbols of the holiday are the mat (tradition), crops (harvest), candleholder (African ancestors), corn (children and the…

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