Friday, February 28, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake

One thing I love about coffee cakes is that they look special and fancy without the headache of frosting. I always struggle to make a frosted cake look nice so this is a huge advantage to me! This is a recipe from Flo that I've already made three times!

Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake
Shared by Florence Fox

 This recipe is one my mom often made, and now my children like this coffee cake, too.
1 ½ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
¼ cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups blueberries

¾ cup sugar
½ cup flour
¼ cup butter
½ cup sliced almonds

In a mixing bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Add milk, butter, egg, and vanilla, mixing until well blended. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with blueberries. Combine sugar, flour, and butter; sprinkle over blueberries. Top with sliced almonds. Bake at 350˚ for 40 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Florence lives in the northwoods of Michigan with her husband and three preschoolers. Her hobbies are writing and baking coffee cakes. A few  months ago she published a book titled My First Deer Hunt. This is a children’s story about the time her husband took their oldest son (then four-years-old) to the woods for his first hunting trip.  Email Flo at foxden

Thursday, February 27, 2014

White Chicken Chili

I may be wishing for spring. But that doesn't change the fact that the thermometer says it is Cold.

And cold means Soup at our house.

Nothing drives out the cold like a good pot of soup. White chicken chili has been on the menu several times recently.

White Chicken Chili

2 lb chicken breast
1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cans beans (navy, black, pinto, or your favorite)
4 cup chicken broth
4 oz can chilies (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
 1/2 cup milk
3 T flour
1 cup sour cream

Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes. Saute chicken, onion, and garlic in oil until meat is no longer pink. Add beans, broth, chilies, and seasonings. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir flour in milk. Add milk and sour cream to soup. Heat but do not boil. Serve.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Random look at life from our house.

February has been a month of snow, snow, and more snow. Not a great amount but enough here and there to give an almost constant ground cover - which is rare in our area.


An ice storm added beauty but cut our power for a couple hours. Since our marriage, I never remember losing our power, but this month we were out twice for a few hours each time. The children thought it was great fun and were disappointed when it came back on. They wanted to practice being pioneers and cook our food in the fireplace.

The children have loved this winter and the snow.

And (most of the time) I have enjoyed the excuse to just stay home with my children. Though I will admit that the last week has been rough. One of those times that I'd be glad to hand in my resignation, but I don't know anyone who wants my job. So I'm forced to stay. And wait for spring.

And there are lots of perks to this job.


Maybe I just need to take some time to count blessings.


Like this little one who continues to give us lots of enjoyment. 


Saturday mornings with snow falling, fire crackling, and Daddy and baby studying for a sermon.

Evenings spent creating masterpieces. Here we tried our hand at copying Van Gogh's sunflowers.

 Painting our own summer!


Our little girlie continues to sleep, eat, and grow. 

If any of you are looking for a great swaddle blanket - I'm loving this one called the Miracle Blanket. I saw a friend's last summer and loved it. It is rather high price for a piece of cloth but I found two for a great discount on ebay. And they have been so worth it! She has been sleeping so well.  To use, first you put the baby's feet in the pocket.

Then fold in the one wing to hold down their arm.

 Then fold in the second side.

 Fold in the outer wing.
And use the extra long wing to wrap twice around baby to hold it all together. Rarely does she get her arms wiggled out of this wrap. And there is no velcro to stick to laundry. Love my Miracle Blanket.

A few years behind...but I finally joined Pinterest with the goal of finding order in all my bookmarked sites. If you want to check out what I'm pinning, follow me here.

And speaking of blessings...we were able to visit with a missionary that works with a leprosy mission. How I take for granted health and home when so many people in the world have lost not only their health but also their families. The above video will show you some of the amazing people that are showing God's love to these forgotten people.

(If you are reading this by email or in a feed reader, you may need to click over to the blog to see the video.)

Yes, even in the midst of cabin fever and the February blues...I am blessed.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Finnish Coffee Cake

A hot drink and one of Flo's fresh-from-the-oven coffee cakes is perfect for these cold winter days. This one is simple but yummy!

Finnish Coffee Cake

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup oil or melted shortening
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture:
1 tsp cinnamon
4 TBSP sugar

Cream sugar, eggs, oil, and buttermilk. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour half of batter into greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle half of cinnamon and sugar mixture. Add remaining batter and sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake at 325˚ for 20-25 minutes. Mix glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and a little boiling water to make thin consistency. While cake is hot, poke holes with a fork and drizzle with glaze.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Unconventional Rescue - Adventures of a Housewife

  Hasn't every mom had one of those days? Flo shares the story of one of her memorable days.

Unconventional Rescue - Adventures of a Housewife

By Florence Fox

The sun beat down as I exited the air-conditioned store. I heaved the loaded shopping cart in the right direction and started across the parking lot. My fourteen-month-old son, Laramie, jabbered happily, enjoying his ride. I deposited the groceries in the trunk, and then lifted Laramie out of the cart and into his car seat.

It was hot in the car, and I was anxious to get in and start the air-conditioner. I’ll reach back and buckle the car seat, I decided. To keep Laramie occupied so he wouldn’t crawl out of his car seat, I handed him the car keys and slammed the door. Snatching my purse from the shopping cart, I shoved the cart into the nearby cart corral and reached for the driver’s door. At that instant there was a loud honk and the solemn clunk of doors locking.

The car was locked! My son was inside! I stood weak-kneed. What could I do? I didn’t have a spare key. What if my son suffocated in the heat? Or fell out of his car seat?

I remembered the purse on my arm, and pulled out my phone. My husband was immediately informed of the emergency. “How soon can you get here?” I asked. “It’s hot in the car and we have to unlock it right now.

“Don’t panic,” Marlin said. “I’ll come as soon as I can.”

“But what can I do now?” I demanded. “Laramie could fall out of his car seat, or start crying for me.” At that moment the trunk lid popped open. “Oh, now he pushed the trunk release button,” I said. “Will that help anything?”

“Great! Sure that will help,” Marlin said. “Climb in the trunk and release the latch to push the seat forward. Then you can crawl through and unlock the car.”

The idea was not a new one. Many times I’d seen Marlin lower the back seat to accommodate an item too large to fit in the trunk.

“But the trunk is full of groceries,” I protested. “How can I do that?”

“If you don’t want to, I can come do it,” Marlin said. “But I’d do exactly the same thing.”

I thought of the fifteen minute drive into town and the time away from work.

“No, don’t come the whole way down here if it’s something I can do,” I said. “I’ll try, and if I can’t get through the trunk, I’ll call you.”

“Okay. Let me know how you make out.”

I glanced around the parking lot. How many people could see? This was something I had never dreamed of doing; going through the trunk of the car to rescue my son. But I would do anything to keep him from harm, even if I looked foolish.

I pushed all the groceries to the side of the car trunk. Hefting myself up, I sat in the trunk and felt along the back of the seat. Ah! the latch. It was easily opened, and with a little effort part of the seat was pushed forward. The position was most awkward, but with some huffing and puffing I hauled myself through the opening and was soon sitting on the back seat beside Laramie. He didn’t appreciate all the effort I had exerted to liberate him, though he did seem surprised to see me enter the car in such a manner.

No doubt some curious spectator was highly entertained by the performance. I could imagine them thinking: You got to be kidding! Surely there is an easier way to get inside a car.

The keys were extracted from Laramie’s grasp, and keys in hand, I exited the back seat of the car with all the dignity I had left. Nonchalantly, I slammed the trunk of the car, and hopped in the driver’s seat.

The experience taught me to never hand keys to children for toys. But it was embarrassment that made me vow: It will be years before I shop there again.

Florence lives in the northwoods of Michigan with her husband and three preschoolers. Her hobbies are writing and baking coffee cakes. A few  months ago she published a book titled My First Deer Hunt. This is a children’s story about the time her husband took their oldest son (then four-years-old) to the woods for his first hunting trip. The story is illustrated with real photos, and professionally designed. Told from a child’s viewpoint, this account will entertain and educate young children who love wildlife. If you would like to order a copy, email Flo at The cost for one book is $8.99 plus $2 shipping and handling.
 These are the dear ladies in my writer's group when we were able to meet up last summer. From left to right are... me, Regina Rosenberry, Crystal Steinhower, Florence Fox, and Stephanie Leinbach.

Anyone want to 'fess up and share an embarrassing moment with us in the comments? 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sourdough Cheese Bubble Bread

After neglecting my sourdough starter for weeks over Christmas and the new baby, it is now back into production. Yumm.....Winter is a good time to try out some new recipes or bread variations.

Sourdough Surprises has inspired me to try new sourdough projects. This month their challenge was to make monkey bread, also known as pull-apart bread, bubble bread, or pluckets. I decided to try a cheese/herb variation.

It was not a disappointment. 

The result was a perfect combination of flavors. The sourdough flavor merged perfectly with the cheese and herbs.

I used my sourdough potato bread recipe. You can use your favorite bread dough. It doesn't even need to be sourdough. You can use frozen bread dough for an extra quick treat. You'll need dough for an equivalent of two loaves.

After you allow your bread dough to rise for the first time, divide into 32 pieces.

Shape dough into balls around a cube of cheese.

Dip dough into melted butter and herbs.

Place in a tubed cake pan.

Allow to rise until nearly doubled and bake.



Pull off pieces and enjoy! Perfect for a winter meal with a pot of soup.

Sourdough Cheese Bubble Bread

2 loaves worth of bread dough (I used sourdough potato bread.)

32 cubes of cheddar cheese (3/4 inch cubes)
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
Parmesan cheese

Divide each loaf into 16 pieces (32 total). Shape into balls around cheese cubes. Mix spices with melted butter. Dip bread balls into butter mixture. Place into well-greased tube cake pan. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Allow to rise until doubled. For my sourdough bread this was about three hours. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes. Remove from pan immediately.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Dream Family

I'm guilty of focusing on the things I don't have and not remembering all the blessings God has given. Regena shares a guest post as she remembers her blessings.

A Dream Family
By Regena Weaver

Recently our oldest daughter shared a dream with us. That in its self is not unusual. In the
past 8 years I have frequently given an open ear to what went on in her sub-conscious
brain. Often it was shared, between sobs, in the middle of the night, and was colored by
her current fears of wolves, cobras and such like. Those were nightmares.

This was markedly different. In her dream our family was gathered around in the family
room, engaged in quiet activities such as reading, embroidery, singing while rocking the
baby. A cozy domestic scene. “We should do that sometime,” she said wistfully.

Is it co-incidence that this came at the close of an especially busy summer time? Family
time revolved around garden activities, and outdoor games. During the long daylight hours,
leisure time catered to bike rides and hot-dog roasts, not embroidering beside the fireplace!

However now the garden has been put to bed for its winter hibernation. Darkness descends
hours before even a tired first grader's bedtime. Bike rides and baseball practice hold no
appeal in the sometimes sub-zero weather. Various times since that dream our family of
six has spent a leisurely evening in the family room, sometimes with a roaring fire in the
fireplace. “Yes,” our daughter agrees, “this is almost like my dream.” Teaching them the
basics of playing crokinole (Is this a calm thing when there are 2 and 4 year olds
helping?). Reading Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse aloud to the three older ones.
Perhaps we are a “dream family” . . .

Actually, we are! God has blessed me with a loving Christian husband, and four healthy
children. We have a warm house. Our freezers and basement shelves are full of last
summer's garden bounties. Our Christian friends would rally around us should we face
reverses in life. Even our closest neighbors, though most of them are decidedly not
Christians, are of that staunch neighborly “would-do-anything-to-help” sort that are read
about in books from half a century ago.

To many of my contemporaries around the world, and no doubt many I meet when I go to
the local grocery store, mine sounds like a dream existence. What does it matter that the
paint is chipping on our dining room walls? Why wonder how we'll cope with the
demands of our very welcome and anticipated 5th child into our already busy domestic
schedules? Why worry about the one broken pane of glass in the family room window,
when the plastic/storm window combination keeps the winter air out for now?

We are richly blessed. We have a dream family!

 Regena and her husband of nearly ten years call a 6 acre property in rural eastern Ontario their home. It's a perfect place to raise vegetables . . . and children. She has no claim to fame other than being a daughter of the heavenly King.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Menu Planning - Part Two

Last time, Sue shared with us the "why" of menu planning. Today she shares "how."

Seven Tips for Menu Planning
By Sue Hooley

The two types of menu planning are a weekly menu plan and a four-week menu plan. There is not one perfect way to plan a menu. My sister-in-law, Beverly generally plans a week of menus on Monday and she consults the sale flyers for current specials. She has easy access to several grocery stores and she usually makes a weekly shopping trip. In my area, local choices are limited, but we do have a large city close by. I typically plan menus four weeks at a time and buy in larger quantities. I generally plan only the main meal of the day, which in our home is the evening meal.

1. Choose a theme to help steer you to a particular section of a recipe book. Here is an example: Monday- casserole, Tuesday- meat and potatoes, Wednesday- soup, Thursday- casserole, Friday- Italian or Mexican, Saturday- grill or CORN (clean out refrigerator night). Remember these formats are not laws; they are plans that can be modified at any time. 
2. Check your calendar for upcoming events and note on your meal planner anything that will affect your blueprint – birthdays, parent/teacher meeting, church events, youth activities… Take thought as you choose recipes so that you are not planning a time consuming meal after a full day. As things come up throughout the week, menus can be altered. 
3. Start menu-planning by looking in your freezer, refrigerator, garden and pantry. This provides you with knowledge of items on hand and may be a springboard for menu ideas. 
4. Select your recipes to be used. To make the planning process easier, use a few cookbooks and/or your own personal recipe collection at one planning session. An abundance of cookbooks and food magazines may tend to bog us down with too many options. With the four-week method, it is easy to incorporate everyone’s favorite foods throughout that time frame or to try a new tantalizing recipe. 
5. Make a shopping list at the same time you plan menus. For Beverly, this is the list she uses immediately. As I lay out a month of menus, I have a list for each week. Sometimes, I purchase all of the non-perishables items in one shopping trip, and then pick up the perishables locally. Menu planning helps you to save time and money by reducing the number of trips to the store. If you know what is on the menu, you can easily take advantage of advertised sales and seasonal produce. 
6. Select a format for menu planning. Notebooks, blank month calendars and white boards are good options. Beverly uses a daily planner that has a space for menu planning. I use a four-week computer print-out; then transfer the basic information to my planner. Notations are made in the planner of any prep work that is needed like defrosting meat or getting food in the crockpot.

7. Take note of similar recipes that could be made at the same time. For example, Finnish Cake and Ice Cream Cake take many of the same ingredients, so why not make both while the fixings are out? It saves much time in clean-up and ready-made food in the freezer is like money in a savings account. 
It is helpful to plan at least one meal per week that is easy to assemble so when the unexpected occurs, you can move menus around to give you some space. Sometimes a bought pizza and ice cream sandwiches make the difference between calm and chaos. Occasionally I “plan” a store-bought meal just to get a break from cooking.

With the four-week method, you can easily double recipes one week and then, have a similar menu two weeks later. Occasionally that extra dish in the freezer becomes the perfect gift to help a friend through a crisis and it is a blessing to use our resources in this way. 
As mentioned before, there is not one perfect way to plan a menu. But with a little practice, you can change that “exasperating hour” to a “prepared hour.” Try it. 
…the kitchen might still be a mess…

…but the stress will be less, 
…you won’t need to guess,

what is for supper?

 Sue Hooley, wife of Dan and mom to six children ages 4-20 is a Mennonite homemaker in Washington state. After several years of motherhood and homemaking, she developed a Daily Planner that is perfect homemakers. 


 Sue has also compiled a devotional book for new mothers called The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. This book was a gift to me from my mom when our first child was born. After each of my children's birth since then I have pulled out this book. It is a perfect book to read while nursing to be encouraged by the words of Scripture and insights from many other mothers.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Menu Planning Part One

We all need to eat. And most of us women find ourselves responsible to fill the tummies of those around our table. Sue shares some insights on the topic of menu planning in this guest post.
The Benefits of Menu Planning
By Sue Hooley

5 p.m. 
Do you recognize that “exasperating hour” when the household starts to fray around the edges? Have you felt the lack of ideas while standing in front of the pantry or refrigerator door? Have you resorted to a frozen lump of ground beef in hopes of inspiration? 
My euphoria of “ground beef stimulus” is usually short-lived as I make choices and straightway eliminate them. “Sloppy Joes- no bread.” “Taco Salad- no chips.” “Chili Soup- no beans.” At the last minute, ingredients are thrown together that do not complement each other in taste or appearance, and… 
…the kitchen is a mess,

…I’m in a stress,

…the family tries to guess-

What is for supper?

I haven’t always been a menu planner. In fact, I was a bit dubious when I first heard the concept. Wouldn’t it take the fun out of preparing a home-cooked meal? What if I wanted to eat pizza on the day the menu said mashed potatoes?

After several months of menu planning, I discovered that there are many benefits. In place of spending much needed brain power on “what to make for supper,” my mind was clearer to focus on other things that required my attention. 

When the menu is only in my head, it is more difficult to delegate meal preparation tasks. As a result, I end up doing most of the work. Children are great helpers and most times there are little jobs that they can do. If the menu says: Pizza, veggies and dip, fruit and cookies, it is easier to assign small tasks. Someone can get a jar of fruit; another can prepare veggies and so forth. 
If you think about it, we are extremely repetitious in the kitchen. How many times do we grate cheese, chop onions and fry hamburger in one week? or two weeks? If menus are planned, we can look ahead to see if we will need to prepare those foods again. With little additional time and energy, we can easily double or triple those amounts and we have the convenience of ready-to-use ingredients. 
Like in other areas of homemaking, our persona, budget, seasonal food, work schedule and our husband’s preferences are a factor in menu planning. What flows well for one homemaker may be completely different from what is comfortable for another. You know your family and your schedule the best, so customize menu planning accordingly. 
Consider the following benefits of menu planning:
  • Grocery shopping is easier
  • Meals are more balanced and include more variety
  • Money is saved
  • Added flexibility
  • More likely to try new recipes
  • Sale items taken advantage of
  • More prepared for impromptu guests
Menu planning does require some forethought and effort, but it actually saves time in the long run. It is a work in progress that will take practice, but the more you do it, the easier it will become.

Sue will be back in the next post with some practical tips on menu planning.

 Sue Hooley, wife of Dan and mom to six children ages 4-20 is a Mennonite homemaker in Washington state. After several years of motherhood and homemaking, she developed a Daily Planner that is perfect homemakers.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Garden I Tend

 Here in Pennsylvania, we are having week after week of some of the coldest weather in my memory. Tonight more snow is expected. 

But on my counter is a seed catalog and I have confidence that spring will come again. Stephanie shares a guest post about her garden.

The Garden I Tend

I stroll down the rows
                and exalt
         in the burgeoning green.
The morning glows,
                 as if the air itself burns,
    and I yearn
                 to breathe the light
        like the cabbages and roses.
In the oak, a wren composes—
           a descant for the brook,
    singing low of sudden showers.
The garden waves its dew-clasped hands
               to the waltzing breeze,
         singing slow of unseen flowers.
In my garden,
    no weeds have dared
                to show their faces;
      the plants are jostling for their places,
                      food caught within the buds,
                 everyday miracles
       dangling from stems like participles.
The experiments prosper
          and establish kingdoms
                  at my feet.
The garden has never looked so fine,
         and I rejoice to call it
Oh, the unending joys,
                  of the garden I tend
        in the snows of February.
 Nearly nine years ago, Stephanie married the best man at her wedding, and since the two of them are opposites in almost every way possible, there hasn’t been a dull moment in over 3,127 days. They live on the side of Brush Mountain in central Pennsylvania. God has blessed them with three children to raise for Him and three children safely in heaven. Stephanie is the author of Light My Candle, Prayers in the Darkness of Miscarriage. You can contact her at lightmycandle @ Or check out her blog.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Are you tired of peanut butter/chocolate recipes yet?

I think it is safe to say that my family will never get tired of testing these recipes!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Biscotti

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
1 T baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
Beat peanut butter and sugars together. Beat in eggs. Add milk, vanilla, flours, and baking powder. Mix in chocolate chips and peanuts. 

Divide dough in half. On parchment paper-covered baking sheet, form dough into two long loaves about 1/2 inch thick. 

Bake at 350 degrees until slightly firm to touch about 25 minutes.


Cool on wire racks. Cut each loaf into 1/2 inch slices. Place slices on baking sheet with cut side up. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees. Bake until biscotti is dry, about ten minutes on each side.

If desired, melt chocolate chips and dip cooled biscotti in chocolate. Cool. Serve.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding


An easy dessert to please your chocolate/peanut butter lover. This is the kind of recipe that has my family smacking their lips.

All you do is make two batches of pudding, one peanut butter and one chocolate.

Layer the peanut butter pudding,


then add the chocolate pudding.


Top with some whipped cream and sprinkles.


You can layer the pudding in a pretty glass dish but individual servings are extra special and bring a sparkle to my children's eyes. (And maybe their dad too.)

You may use your favorite chocolate and peanut butter pudding recipe and layer them together. Or use the recipe I share here (which uses honey!) from the More-with-Less cookbook.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding

Peanut butter pudding:
1/3 cup honey (or sugar is you prefer)
2 T cornstarch
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter

Chocolate pudding:
1/3 cup honey (or sugar)
2 T cornstarch
3 T cocoa
2 cups milk
1 T butter

Whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 T powdered sugar

In pan, combine honey, cornstarch, and milk. Simmer on medium heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add vanilla and peanut butter. Divide into six or eight glasses (I used 1 cup jelly jars.) Refrigerate uncovered while you make chocolate pudding.

To make the chocolate pudding, repeat process. In pan, combine honey, cornstarch, cocoa, and milk. Simmer on medium heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add butter. Spoon pudding on top of peanut butter pudding. Cover each pudding cup with plastic wrap so that the plastic wrap touches the pudding. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Before serving, whip cream, sugar, and vanilla into soft peaks. Top each pudding with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. Serve.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

One of my fond childhood memories is making ice cream using snow for the crushed ice to pack the ice cream maker.

Maybe it is crazy to make ice cream in the middle of the winter, but I actually remember making ice cream more often in the winter than the summer. Whether it is because we had more leisure time in the winter, or because of the availability of snow, I don't know but regardless, I enjoy ice cream any time of the year.

Last week I realized that my children would not remember ever making ice cream with snow. And since we have been getting more snow than usual this year, why not take the opportunity to churn some ice cream? Plus it was an excuse to try out another chocolate peanut butter recipe in my files. In this recipe, a dark chocolate pudding is made, frozen in an ice cream churn, then a ribbon of peanut butter is stirred into the ice cream. Yum!

It was an interesting contrast. In one side of the room, children were reading by the light of the fire,


and on the other side of the room, a bucket of snow was freezing our ice cream.

It seemed to take a while for the ice cream to stiffen up. Maybe the snow wasn't doing a good job in freezing it. Or maybe the pudding just doesn't freeze hard in a churn.

We were tired of waiting for it and decided to eat the ice cream in a soft churn state. Delicious. The leftovers we placed in the freezer and the next day it was the perfect ice cream consistency. Probably next time we should churn and allow it to freeze solid in the freezer before eating. Though I doubt we will have enough self-control to wait that long.

This ice cream is very rich and our family of six made it last for three servings. You could halve the recipe, but while you are in the mess, why not make enough to enjoy for a while - or invite a friend to join you! Give me a shout when this ice cream is in your churn and I'll be over!

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
adapted from Joy the Baker

5 cups whole milk
1 3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 T cornstarch
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter

In sauce pan over medium heat, stir together 4 cups of milk, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Heat until milk starts to steam but not boil. In another bowl, stir 1 cup of milk and cornstarch until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to heated milk and bring to a low boil. Cook until thickened, stirring well. It will look like chocolate pudding. Place mixture in a bowl.
Heat cream in pan until hot. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Allow to melt then stir until smooth. Stir cream and chocolate mixture into cooling pudding. Cover and place in fridge until cool.
After cooling, place in ice cream maker and follow instructions to churn ice cream. Once it has chilled and thickened, remove ice cream from churn. Slightly heat peanut butter to more easily stir. Fold peanut butter into ice cream. Do not over mix so that there is ribbons of peanut butter through out the ice cream. Cover and freeze until solid.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Growing Old...At Thirty-five

Growing older - unavoidable.

Growing older graciously - that is the challenge that Jodi addresses in her guest post.

Growing Old . . . at Thirty-Five
 by Jodi Wise

Way back, about twenty years ago, I thought thirty-five was almost ancient. Definitely middle aged, maybe past. My parents were about thirty-five at the time, and my adolescent eyes did not view them as young. And sixty? That was very old, somewhere beyond ancient.  Why, nearly everyone I knew in the age range of sixty and beyond had gray hair. And everyone else knows that gray hair spells "O-L-D" in capital letters.

I was never sure why, but as I grew into adulthood, people often assumed me to be younger than I was. As a married woman and mother, it's a flattering experience to be asked if you're . . . nineteen? Or twenty? And it's even more of an experience to correct the inquirer with "No, I'm thirty . . . and married . . . with seven children" and watch her jaw drop to her knees. It happened more than once and I enjoyed it more than I should have. After all, I wasn't thirty-five yet, so I thought I had reason to look young.

But my young-looking days were numbered. Somewhere near my thirty-first year, I found an unexpected and unwelcome imposter. One of the hairs on my head had turn-coated. Without seeking my permission or approval, it became white. Totally silvery-white. I was aghast. I was now OLD and I wasn't even middle-aged yet!    

I yanked it out. I could not, would not be OLD at the tender age of thirty-one. "Don't you know," my husband asked teasingly when I confessed my ancientness to him, "that when you pull out one gray hair, two more will come to its funeral?" (Understand that I am married to an optimistic man. At least he expected me to grow more hair to replace the one I removed. I would not have received such consolation by looking at the hair left on his head.) No matter how many white hairs returned to mourn the death of the first one, I was prepared to deal with them all the same way - at least as long as I was physically able.

I'm sure you have guessed that I am now . . . thirty-five. That yanked-out hair grew back long ago and brought a few more of its kind with it. I was not cheered. They didn't multiply as fast as they could have, but still much more speedily than I preferred. As I had vowed, I greeted each one with a tug. Yet, just sometimes, I found myself almost wishing that I could view them with the same attitude as a woman I met a few years ago. When the subject of gray hair came up, she had told me with a grin, "I tell my husband 'Don't you dare touch them. I earned every one of those!'."

But to me, gray hair still spelled "OLD", and I wasn't anxious to become old. Both my husband and I had aging grandparents and I saw firsthand what "old" means. It means being short of breath and having Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and aching joints and things like that. No, becoming old did not appeal to me.

Oh, I knew the Bible says "The hoary head is a crown of glory"and I thought I believed it. Not until I found my own "hoary hair" did  I realize I never imagined myself with a hoary head, at least not in my thirties or forties. Hoary heads only happened to other people. People who were. . .well, old.   

Then something happened a few weeks ago that left me reconsidering my perception of my own gray hair.  Our 13-year-old son and I attended a local indoor auction. Seated to my left was a woman with dark brown hair. On her left sat an older man, heavy-set, wrinkled and definitely white-haired. In his seventies, perhaps. At first glance I didn't think much about it. Probably a father-daughter set. Nice of the daughter to take her father to an auction.

Before long, however, the woman turned to ask me a question and I got a better view of her face. Hmm. The wrinkles in that face belied her mop of dark hair. Could the couple possibly be husband and wife instead? When they got up to leave I became convinced. The woman heaved herself from her chair as if in pain and hobbled toward the door, stooped and shaky, followed by the man, shuffling along with his cane.

 Suddenly, I was struck with the absurdity of all her dark hair. Perhaps her dark hair was natural, but I seriously doubted it. How did dark brown hair help her anyway? Did it keep wrinkles from appearing on her face? Did it keep her legs from growing achy and feeble? Did it keep her body from becoming weakened and stooped? No. No. And no.

 I couldn't help but imagine what would happen if she'd suddenly stop dyeing her hair. Would her hair eventually become completely white? Would the people she knew still recognize her?  Is that why she didn't know when to just let her age show?

 Somewhere inside my head something was trying to tell me a few things, but I didn't pursue it. I only vowed that if I'm seventy and white-haired, I wouldn't be ridiculous enough to deny it.

It was a couple mornings later, while combing before church, that I found a few more of those infamous white hairs. They're never hard to find. White hairs have a mind of their own, almost as if they're determined to stand straight up and shout to the world, "Look at us! We are here!"

I yanked out the most visible hair first and reached for the next one. And then I stopped. The memory of that stooped and hobbling - but oh-so-dark-haired! -  woman came to mind. So, I asked myself, when do you plan to stop denying it?

I think I'll stop now. A recent comment from our son should help. (I'm still startled to find myself looking up into his almost 15-year-old face. And I'm still adjusting to the thrill - and pang - that passes through my heart at the astonishingly adult-sounding insights that sometimes come from his lips.)

Our older children had been discussing gray hair in general, their parents' in particular, with the most emphasis on their mother's since a lot of their father's hair has gone on strike. I was listening a bit ruefully and must have made a wry comment about gray hair that caused my son to want to console me. "Oh, but it makes you look respectable," he told me seriously.

Ah, yes, respectable. Who minds getting gray hair if it helps her look respectable? Too bad that woman at the auction didn't have sons to point out the same to her.

Unknowingly, our son has now given me a reason to begin seeing those gray hairs as badges instead. Badges that give mute testimony to the years I've lived, the children I've borne, the work I've done, the prayers I've prayed, the tears I've shed, the lessons I've learned. Badges that make me look . . . no, not old, but that other word. You know, re. . . respe. . . oh, yes, respectable.

I just hadn't planned on starting at (sigh) age thirty-five.

 I have been married to Nelson for 16 years, live with him on our 100-acre (+/-) dairy farm, and am mother to ten children -- five sons ages 15 (twins), 13, 12, and 16 months and five daughters ages 9, 8, 6, 5 and 3. I spend my days submerged in both laundry and dish soap suds, sibling rivalries and astounding amounts of food prep.  A peek inside our home will show you that deep-cleaning has not yet reached the red-alert level on my to-do -- or hobby -- list, though there's always a (faint) hope that it will happen tomorrow. . .  along with organization and weight loss. But above all, I struggle daily to "grow in grace" as my Lord would have me do. 

Note from Gina: When I met Jodi for the first time in person this past fall, I was surprised at how young she appeared. I wouldn't have guessed her as thirty-five and certainly not the mother of ten children. And she is not nearly as gray-haired as me!


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