Category Archives: Recipes

Recipes: Yo, Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum for a Yummy Rummy Cake

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As I have mentioned before, I am not a drinker of alcohol. I have never been a drinker of alcohol, because when I was a teenager my grandmother asked me to promise her that I would never smoke, drink alcohol, or take illegal drugs.

In those days, if you gave someone your word, you kept that promise, unless prevented by an act of God.  According to my grandmother, other than communion, there is no act of God that requires alcohol consumption.

I have always kept my clean and sober promise to my Grandmother Esther.  Contrary to what many people would think, going through life completely sober has its advantages. The only problem I have ever encountered has been the challenge of purchasing alcohol as a gift or for cooking.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and I needed an alcohol purchasing system.  Being Swedish and knowing that genius has been defined as simplifying the complex, I kept it simple.  My alcohol purchasing system is based on two fundamental principles. Pretty is as pretty does and it is best to go with what you know. Therefore my purchases are based on bright shiny labels or on something I’ve tried. The only wine in this home is Mogen-David.  It is what is used at my church for communion.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I wanted to make a rum cake for my brain tumor fighting neighbor.  Therefore, I needed to purchase a bottle of rum.  So, off to the liquor store I went.

Since I have always been easily distracted by pretty colors, it took me a while to find the rum area, after wandering into the wine aisles.  Such creativity in labeling. Kudos!

Finally, I found what I was looking for….rum. When making an alcohol purchase, it has been my experience that price is not much of a deterrent if the picture on the label reels me in.  I immediately knew just which one I wanted. There was a pirate on the label! How can you go wrong picking a pirate? I was sold.

I took my purchase up to the counter and the fellow working at the store, narrowed his eyes to assess my purchase and immediately concluded that a rum rookie had entered his establishment.  He asked me, “Just what do….you….plan to do with that rum?”   I told him about the rum cake.

With several other people standing in line behind me, he laughed and said the pirate rum would not work for cake.  He found me a nice golden rum for the cake and a bottle of Mogan-David wine as it is the end of September and opening day of beef stew season begins with the first frost.

The golden rum worked great for the cake. The cake was outstanding!  However, I would like to suggest to the folks that bottle that stuff that they should seriously consider finding their own pirate for the label.   After all it’s..Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum!

Yummy Rummy Cake
This recipe is from, “Once Upon a Chef”.

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.

Grease the inside of a 12-cup Bundt pan with butter, then coat the pan lightly with flour. Tap pan and tip out any excess flour.

Cake:
4 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup golden rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/2 cups cake flour (must use cake flour)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

In a medium-sized mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, rum, and vanilla and almond extracts.  Set aside.

Into a large mixing bowl add cake flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix dry ingredients together.  With an electric mixer on low speed beat in the butter until well combined.  Next add in the liquid ingredients a third at a time, just until combined.  Be sure to wipe down the edges of the bowl after each addition.  Once all of the liquid has been added, increase mixer speed to medium and beat for an additional two minutes.

Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool the cake on a rack for ten minutes.

While the cake cools make the glaze.

Glaze:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus two Tablespoons of rum

In a small sauce pan melt butter.  Add the water and sugar and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for five minutes stirring constantly.  The glaze should thicken slightly.  Remove from heat and stir in rum.

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While the cake is still in the pan use a toothpick to poke holes all over the bottom.  There should be lots and lots of holes.  Slowly, brush or spoon half of the glaze over the holes in the bottom of the cake and let it soak in.   Remove cake and place on a plate. Poke holes in the top of the cake.  Slowly brush remaining glaze on top and sides of the cake. Let glaze soak in so that it does not run off, but is absorbed into the cake.

Let the cake sit for about a hour, then serve with ice cream or whipped topping.

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Recipes: First Day of School, Rotten Apples, Cabbage Rolls and Refrigerator Pickles

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The first day of school is always exciting, even if the only thing you are looking forward to is getting back with your friends and recess. Yesterday was the first day of the new school year for many of Minnesota’s youngsters.  I really enjoyed checking out all of the Facebook posts of happy, and some not so happy faces, setting off to tackle another year of education dressed in new duds, and toting backpacks that in some cases looked almost as big as the child.

I will never forget one of my preschool students, a very petite three-year-old girl who marched into each class session with a look of determination and a backpack that absolutely dwarfed her. I never knew what she kept in that backpack, but she always had room left inside to cram her papers in to bring home.  Honestly, when that child unzipped that enormous backpack and begin pushing her crunched up papers in, over half of little girl disappeared.  I felt obliged to stand ready to fish her out of that thing, should it gobble her up completely.

As far as I am concerned when school begins, summer ends.  Yes, autumn is here!  It is now time to clean out the house and garden, and begin cooking and baking at will. For the most part, the hot humid days of summer are over. Windows can again be flung wide open, unless you are allergic to rag weed then you have to wait until after the first frost for any window flinging. And, turning the oven on to bake is no longer torture. It takes the chill off of your home and produces wonderful aromas that dance throughout the house.

I was going to try a recipe for rum cake today, but as a teenager I promised my grandmother that I would not be a drinker of alcohol and a promise made, is a promise kept.  Therefore, the only distilled or fermented beverages in my home are used for cooking, and as luck would have it, I am out of rum.  I do have rum extract, but making a rum cake using that stuff, would be an insult to cakes everywhere.  Due to a lack of planning on my part, and my refusal to buy alcohol on a Sunday, there will have to be a rain check on the rum cake.  Disappointing I know, but we must soldier on all the same.

I do have two new recipes that will help use up some of those end of the growing season vegetables.

The first recipe is delicious and a boon for time management…Crockpot Cabbage Rolls. These cabbage rolls are prepared with a sweet and spicy tomato sauce.

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Crockpot Cabbage Rolls

12 leaves of cabbage
1 cup of cooked brown rice
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup minced onion
1 pound of extra lean ground beef
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Put the cabbage leaves into the boiling water for about two minutes. Drain.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, egg, milk, onion, ground beef, salt and pepper. Place about 1/4 of a cup of the meat mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf. Tuck ends of leaf in and roll up, just like a burrito or egg roll.  Place rolls in the crockpot.

In a small bowl, mix together tomato sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over cabbage rolls.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

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apple rotten

This second recipe is a bit of pure tasty nostalgia.

Fall on the farm meant cricket serenades, swimming in huge piles of harvested corn and beans, apple wars with siblings, cousins and neighbor kids and pickles.

Apple fights were as much of fall tradition as a good snowball fight is in the winter. Throwing rotten and/or wormy apples at a worthy or whiny opponent was not done out of spite or to advance yuckiness.  It was not to create additional suffering for your target or laundry for your mother.  Nor was it to increase your thrill or justify the level punishment that would be meted out should you be caught. It was not to enjoy the sound of a good splat.  Not at all.  Rotten apple throwing was a matter of religious observance.

We were all Lutherans and wasting food in any form was highly frowned upon by those in authority and who were observant. Therefore, good tree apples had been long ago banned for use as weapons or ammunition in broad daylight. While good apples delivered a much smarter sting, sadly, we had to be content to use their softer rotten treemates to teach the unsuspecting how to, “take it like a man.”

With all of the flinging, fight, fun and frolic of fall, it is important to remember that it is also the time of year for pickles. I have always loved eating pickles.  My Great Uncle Ed would often hand me a very tart dill pickle and dare me to try it while loudly declaring, “That will grow hair on your chest!”  Eventually, it became clear to me that I needed to cut back on of my dill pickle consumption and focus on sweet pickles, as I began to have nightmares about displaying a hairy bosom in a prom dress.

This recipe for sweet pickles tastes just like the bread and butter pickles canned and shared at every family get-together by my grandmother and great aunts.  However, these are much easier to make and keep well for about two months in the refrigerator.  I hope you make and enjoy…..Sweet Spicy Refrigerator Pickles.

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Sweet Spicy Refrigerator Pickles

6 cups cucumbers, thinly sliced
2 cups onions, thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups of sugar
1-1/2 cups of cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, scant

Place sliced cucumbers and onions in a large bowl and set aside.

In a medium-sized sauce pan combine and whisk together:  sugar, vinegar, salt, mustard seed, celery seed, turmeric, and cloves. Bring to a boil.  Cook and stir until sugar has dissolved.

Pour boiling vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and onions.  As the mixture cools, press cucumbers under the vinegar mixture.  Cool.

Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before you serve.

Another pickle recipe on this blog:  Watermelon Pickles the Happy Pickle

 

 

 

Recipes: Lawns, Laughter, Cancer and Carrot Cake.

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My husband and I have lived in the same house for over thirty years and have had the same neighbors, to the south of us, for that entire time.

Throughout the many years that we have lived on this earth side by side, our neighborhood has celebrated, cared and cried for each other.  We have watched our children grow; play; squabble; graduate elementary school, middle school, high school and college.  Then, move away and begin families of their own making us proud grandparents. In many ways, I am closer to my neighbors than I am my own siblings.   No one on this earth could have asked for better neighbors.

My neighbor’s wife has always been our neighborhood adult.  A finer person, I have yet to meet.  My neighbor, on the other hand, is a combination of wise sage, smart-ass, and political guru.  When that man was young, I swear, he could mow the lawn with a beer in each hand and still have the straightest lawnmower lines on the block. Outstanding talent!

There are two things that I can count on from my neighbor.  He always tells it like it is and he makes me laugh.  During my thirty-year career in politics, my neighbor would share his political opinions, whether I liked them or not. Then, he would tell me who was going to win the election and he was always right. He has an uncanny ability to read the electorate and pick the winners.

Then, too, no matter how bad things get, he makes me laugh.  During my cancer battle, when I was crippled up in pain with multiple spinal fractures, I was stuck in a gosh awful body cast for over eighteen months.  Now for those of you who have never seen this contraption of uncomfortableness and torture, I will describe it. It is a hard piece of plastic from chin to hip with the chest cut out so that you can breathe….a little. I could not be out of bed without the body cast on.

One day, when I had no make-up on, hair uncombed, and was wearing that cast while hunched over my walker making a herculean effort to push it a few feet further down our street than I had before, my neighbor comes by to say hello.  He takes one look and me, points at the cast and exclaims with a broad smile, “That thing is kinda sexy.”   Laughter hurt, but it was a good hurt.

My neighbor has also bailed me out of several near disasters. Like when he patiently sat by his backyard fire and scraped all of the melted Tupperware, which looked like melted marshmallow, off of all of my oven racks.  I look inside my oven now, before I turn it on…most of the time.

Then, there was the time he got a fine for helping me burn my trees that had been knocked down by a tornado.  When he saw the police office on a mission marching across his backyard towards us, he whispered, “Patricia, have you ever been arrested?” I sadly shook my head no and quickly informed him that I had never even had a parking ticket, but did once have a late library book. He grinned at me, said that is what he thought, and went over to greet the cop.  It was only this past spring, many years later, that he told me he got actually got fined.

My neighbor has always been very complimentary of my baking, which is high praise as he is a very accomplished cook.  Last winter, he actually helped me and another neighbor learn to make our own cheese.  After successfully completing the project, looking at all of the dirty dishes and messy kitchen, us two women decided that while the fresh cheese tasted outstanding we’d stick to purchasing our cheese.

No matter how awful, bald or sick I looked, during my cancer battle my neighbor would tell me I was looking good, cheer me on and would often shout, “Hurry up and get well so you can get back in the kitchen!”

I have returned to my kitchen and can again bake most of my favorite recipes.  In June, just about two weeks before I was to leave on my long planned cancer victory trip to Montana to hike in the mountains, I noticed that both my husband and my neighbor were up early mowing lawn.  I had some blueberries and decided to make the boys some blueberry coffee cake.

When I walked a piece of warm cake over to my neighbor, he was all smiles.  He said he just had poured himself a cup of coffee and the cake would be perfect.  I responded, “See you’d have missed me if I had croaked!”  He responded that yes he would have missed me and my baking a lot.  We both laughed and agreed that it was so very nice that our neighborhood was somewhat back to normal.

The very next week, my dear neighbor developed stroke like symptoms.  He was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  The worst kind. A very aggressive Glioblastoma. His prognosis is challenging.

It isn’t supposed to be this way, he is exactly my age.  Oh, I always figured that my neighbor would die young.  That I accepted long ago, but I always figured he’d go out in a blaze of glory by getting struck by lightening on the golf course, or by electrocuting himself by severing another power line with his digging spade, or falling off yet another ladder, or going bird shooting with Dick Cheney.  Not like this, never like this! Not, MY neighbor!

When my neighbor’s wife told me the news, I immediately offered to cancel my trip to the mountains, but neither of them would hear of it.  I was told to go, enjoy myself and not to give them a thought.  Well, I went, I enjoyed myself, but I certainly prayed and thought about both of them and their only child often.

True to form, my neighbor took on his cancer battle with a stellar positive attitude.  He would do no less. However, despite the amazing care provided by his wife, that poor man has had nothing, but one horrible side effect after another during his cancer treatment.  While I cannot do much about any of his other side effects, there is one side effect that I can do something about…he has developed an insatiable sweet tooth.

So, while I have been neglecting my blog this summer, I have been in my kitchen baking for my neighbor, his wife, son and his sweet tooth.  My friend’s favorites…pie, cheesecake, chocolate-zucchini cake, orange chiffon cake, caramel and sweet rolls, lemon zucchini bread and a variety of cookies are frequently delivered to his home.

This week I had planned to make his favorite cake, carrot cake, as a special treat to celebrate his last week of radiation.  However, yesterday, my buddy, took a terrible turn for the worse and is back in the hospital.  Regardless, I have have decided that I am going to go ahead and bake his cake.  That way, it will be here when he comes home.  However, if you could, would you all pray for my dear neighbor who right now is so very sick, anxious and pain ridden, and for his dear wife and son.

Thank you and God Bless!

The World’s Best Carrot Cake  from the kitchen of Kathy Warrick

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a small mixing bowl stir together:
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl combine:
1 cup of oil
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 whole eggs

Add flour mixture to the egg mixture and combine completely.

Stir in:
1 cup crushed pineapple, well drained
2 cups carrots, finely grated
1 cup coconut, shredded
1 cup of raisins

Optional:  1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

When batter is completely mixed, pour into greased 9 X 13 pan or into two greased and floured eight-inch layer cake pans.   Bake the 9 X 13 cake for about 45 minutes and the layer cakes for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven and cool completely.  If you are making a layer cake, let the cake cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely. When cooled, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

In a small mixing bowl whip together with an electric mixer:
1-8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
3 cups of powdered sugar

Add and mix until completely combined:
2 teaspoons of vanilla.

Garnish cake with 1 cup of shredded coconut.

Blogger Update:  I just learned that he has had a better day today.

 

 

Recipes: Bitter Fruit and Lemon Zucchini Bread

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How many of us learned about the tartness of  lemons as small children when we happily accepted a slice from someone we trusted only to bite into the thing and have one eye slam shut in an uncontrollable muscle spasm as juices of potent sourness surrounded a shocked and outraged tongue that no matter how tightly it curled up just could not convince a traumatized throat to swallow until after all of your facial features skewed into a grimace that silently screamed, “Nasty Bad!!!”

Yes, lemons are the hypocrites of the fruit family.  Oh, they look all cheerful and bright and smell so very citrus and sweet.  However, inside, this sunny yellow fruit lurks uncompromising bitterness.  Lemons, unlike humans, do not get to choose whether to be bitter or not. Nature just thrust bitterness upon them. And, its bitterness makes the lemon unpalatable…until…sweetness is added.   Sweetness soothes a lemon’s bitterness until only fresh, tangy, delightful citrus flavor remains.

There is a saying that when life gives you lemons….make lemonade.  The thing is, you cannot make lemonade out of lemons alone.  To make lemonade, sweetener must be added. In the case of humans dealing with life’s lemons, sweetening up a bad situation requires human sugar….love, compassion, empathy and kindness.

A great way to show a friend, neighbor or family member you care is by bringing them a home-baked treat or by taking some excess garden zucchini off of their hands.  Lemon-Zucchini Bread will bring success to both of those endeavors.

Lemon-Zucchini Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a loaf pan.

In a small bowl combine:

1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium-sized mixing bowl beat together:

1/4 cup cooking oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg

Add:

2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup (packed)  finely shredded zucchini

Stir until completely combined.

Slowly stir dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Put bread batter into the greased and floured loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Remove bread from oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  Remove loaf from pan by running a knife around the edge of the pan then inverting. Cool completely on a wire rack.

When cool, frost top of the loaf with lemon glaze.

Lemon Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoon lemon zest

Other Zucchini Recipes on this blog:

Chocolate Spice Zucchini Cake
Zucchini Bread
Blueberry Zucchini Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting
Zucchini Boat Races 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RECIPES: An Angel of a Gluten-Free Strawberry Cream Pie!

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Fresh Minnesota strawberries have always been a favorite of mine.  As a child on the farm, I spent many hours, nose down, elbows up, with pink stained berry juiced lips, fingertips, and knees in our berry patch helping to fill bowls and my belly with fresh strawberries.

In addition to the threat of ravishment by predators such as hungry children, our berry patch was constantly under surveillance and in immediate peril from the farm’s chickens. I have often wondered why no one ever put a chicken wire fence around the berry patch to keep the chickens out, and have concluded that it was either because of the patch’s large size, it seemed like a lot of work to haul the small roll of chicken wire from the shed all the way across the lawn and find enough sticks to hold it up, it would be an eye sore, or that we all believed that grandma enjoyed chasing chickens with her broom and it was a good source of exercise for her.

Grandma’s broom protected, from friend and fowl alike, a berry patch that produced oodles of strawberries.  Many large mixing bowls and gallon ice cream buckets were filled everyday during the height of the season.  Berries that were not consumed fresh or used in a dessert became jam or were preserved by canning or freezing.

In addition to our farm producing lots of berries, we also seemed to have a never ending supply of heavy cream and eggs.  This recipe for Strawberry Angel Cream Pie calls for only five ingredients, eggs, sugar, cream of tartar, cream and strawberries….which makes it gluten-free.

Strawberry Angel Cream Pie

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Crust: 
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup of sugar

In a large stainless steel or glass mixing bowl, beat four egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy.  Gradually beat in, a little at a time, one cup of sugar.  Continue to beat until very stiff peaks form and meringue is glossy looking.   Spread meringue into the bottom and sides of a nine-inch pie pan.

Bake for 60 minutes.  Do not remove from oven.  Turn the oven off and leave the pie crust in the oven until completely cooled.

Filling: 

2 cups of heavy cream
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup of mashed fresh strawberries, sweetened to taste

In a medium-sized mixing bowl add two cups whipping cream.  With an electric mixer, beat until stiff. Add powdered sugar and mix to combine. Fold mashed fresh strawberries into the whipped cream.  Fold gently until the berries and cream are combined.  Pour into meringue pie shell and cool in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Garnish:

Fresh strawberries and/ or an additional cup of sweetened whipped cream.

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Additional strawberry recipes on this blog:

Praise the Lord, Leukemia and Pass the Strawberries

Honey, I Miss You and Jamming with the Queen Bee

Father’s Day Breakfast “WOW!”: Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast

Impressive Father’s Day Dessert: Chocolate Strawberry Cream Puffs

Sweet Heat: Strawberry Jalapeno Jam

Something Old, Something New: Microwave and Crockpot Strawberry Jam Recipes

Taming the Wild Strawberry: Mary Lincoln’s Strawberry Jam Recipe

Picking Berries and Fresh Strawberry Dessert

Great Aunt Ida’s Fresh Strawberry Pie

 

The memory of picking ripe strawberries and eating them as God intended, right out of the patch and warmed by the sun, was such a pleasant one that I wanted to pass it on to my children.  So, every June, when the berries became ripe, we made our annual pilgrimage to one of our local growers to pick fresh strawberries.

Good memories and traditions rarely happen by accident.  Someone, at sometime, made a conscious decision to make an effort.  Always choose to make that effort for the children in your life.  Sharing your time with children is the most important thing that you can give them, in addition to your love.  

And, don’t forget to support our local growers! 

 

 

Recipe: Stuck in the Mud Fudge Bars

My Uncle Myrwin passed away this past December and is greatly missed.

This post reminded me of spring in the fields, standing behind my Uncle Myrwin, holding on for dear life to the drivers seat of a tractor, hearing him holler with gusto over the loud tractor engine noise to,”Hang on tight, I think we can make er.” Then, sneaking a peek around him to see us heading right into some type of body of water.

Yes, on a day like today he’d have been out in the field working hard to get those seeds in the ground to help feed the world, and he’d have been very appreciative of having these fudge bars with a cup of hot coffee for his mid-morning coffee break.

God bless all of our nation’s farmers! Your hard work is greatly appreciated.

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

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My dad and my Uncle Myrwin farmed together for most of their lives.  The brothers and their families were all very close.  In fact, when I was a child  the phone would ring bright and early every morning and it would be my uncle calling to talk to dad about the day’s farm business and work. I cannot remember a day while growing up when I did not talk too or see my Uncle Myrwin.

About five years ago my Uncle Myrwin had to move from the farm into a nursing home, because he had developed memory issues.  He has been there ever since and over the years his cognitive abilities have declined.

From the first week he entered that home, I decided that he was not going to ever be forgotten by his niece and so I began to write him a letter every week.  I have continued this…

View original post 919 more words

RECIPES: Church Ladies Critique and Chewy Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Yesterday my parents came down for a visit and I made them lunch.  The menu included sauced pulled beef, Aunt Ida’s Two-Hour Buns, potato salad and cherry pie topped with vanilla ice cream.

There is just no way to serve pie and ice cream without remembering the many ice cream pie socials I attended in my youth.  I have baked a lot of pies.  The pies shared at a community events were always special.

Baked goods delivered to our church pie socials were as expertly critiqued as any work of art ever entered into a juried art show.  I have many fond memories of watching the faces of the grandmothers, mothers, aunts and neighbors as they assessed each newly delivered donated baked item.   So many of these dear ladies are now gone and live with the Lord.

These gals could convey a complete critique of  your pie baking performance with a single look or a gesture.  The silent language used by church ladies for bake good assessment had been passed down from generation to generation and mastered by each. So it paid to pay attention and learn to read faces.

However, unless you wanted to live in a state of perpetual self-disappointment, it was best, at a very young age,  to acquire the skill of recognizing people who never have anything good to say about anything or anyone.  I have always felt sorry for folks like that. It must be awful to always live in darkness and never see sunshine.

Once you have learned to “dust off your feet and move on” to people who actually have good intentions in mind, being judged by others, while not always fun, is a great opportunity for self-reflection, personal and professional growth.

Our church ladies could judge the quality of your pie and render a verdict without uttering so much as a word. I can still picture the sad shake of bent curly heads sporting raised eyebrows with a lone dimple appearing in a cheek above tightly compress lips when improvement was required.  And, remember the proud sense of mature accomplishment when you finally received the coveted in unison nod, slight grin and and saw that quick wink from behind bespectacled eyes.

As a Lutheran Swedish farmer’s child growing up in rural Minnesota, understanding nonverbal communications was a necessary skill.  To actually confront or praise someone in person was just not done. Outrageousness such as that would have been terrifying for entire congregation, sent some poor old soul into instant menopause, and probably would have lead to the cancellation of any future church activities that included the word social.

Church ladies taught life lessons. Such as, there is always room for improvement, and to get used to being judged, because its going to happen. They taught me that people are a lot like pie pastry production.  Oh, sure there are times when I want to just flatten an ornery one with my rolling pin. However, I know that only leads to a tougher crust.  So, when you are the object of judgement, fair or unfair, its best to think of the butter in pie crust. The total excellence and success of the pastry depends on the butter’s temperature which, like a person’s temperament, needs to remain a cool as possible.

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Chewy, Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies have become my husband’s new favorite.  The trick to getting them chewy is the baking time.  Since you cannot see if a chocolate cookie is browning, you cannot see when they are getting done.  You must rely on baking time.  These cookies do not look done when you remove them from the oven and are quite soft.  They need to remain on the hot cookie sheet for about a minute before you remove them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two cookie sheets.

1 cup butter, softened
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of flour
3 cups of chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer cream together butter, oil and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Blend in cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add flour and mix until completely combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop heaping teaspoon-sized pieces of dough onto a cookie sheet.  Bake for 11 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand on cookie sheet for one minute.  Remove from cookie sheet.  Cookies will flatten and firm up as they cool.

These cookies are great alone, but with a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two cookies, they become a fantastic quick ice cream sandwich dessert.

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Matthew 7: 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? …