Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Remembered

My oldest daughter called me to ask for my sweet potato casserole recipe. She will be attending a friends family for Thanksgiving. She is quite homesick and wanted to make a dish that reminded her of home.  Golly I miss her very so much. I am so glad that she will not be spending Thanksgiving alone.
Thanksgiving was traditionally spent in the foot hills of the Appalachian Mountains at my husbands family farm. I can see in my minds eye the drive on the winding road through the historical town, Lewisburg, West Virginia then 20 minutes later arriving in the sweet little town of Union. Wyndridge Farm is located 5 minutes out side of town.  Fall is absolutely breath taking, Once you leave the main road, it is a few minutes up the dirt drive way, through the cows if were are lucky, and then suddenly you breach the top of the hill to a stunning view. The drive way is a circular one that gives you the opportunity to take in the quiet beauty of the family home and then back to the view.

No matter what time we would arrive, Jeff's parents would quietly welcome us into their home. Being an ever growing family we would break the stillness with lots of love, hugs and chatter! My heart is full of happiness and love thinking about these special memories. A few tears too!

Jeff's Mom is a wonderful cook. She would always have something delish waiting to fill bellies after the long drive to get there. It was only 3 hours but the last 30 minutes makes it seem like hours more due to the anticipation. Her cooking is always with beauty to the eyes as well to the belly. She never makes crazy over the top meals or dishes. Instead they are simple and yummy: Baked apples, pasta salad, fruit salad made with real whipping creme, bread pudding, beef stew and list goes on. I loved being a fly on the wall while she cooked.

Her Thanksgiving dinners were always beautiful. She would awake at dawn at start the turkey baking next the potatoes peeled resting in water, and cranberries simmering on the stove, all before anyone was awake. My Mother in law would spoil us by purchasing baked goods from ladies of the library bake sale the previous week, There would be pumpkin, cranberry, blueberry breads and muffins to name a few. If the weather was remotely warm, the children would be out the door exploring the farm for the next few hours. We never needed to worry about them but we always made sure they wore something bright just in case because it was hunting season in West Virginia.

Meanwhile, the table was set and the remainder of dishes prepared. We always ate early about 3pm. That way we could enjoy the meal, sleep of the carbs in a heavenly nap only to eat again about 7pm. Following dinner we would drive into Lewisburg watch the latest family movie and call it a night.

I love my sister in law Sherry. Her Thanksgiving day after breakfast is two slivers of pie, pumpkin and peacan respectfully, and a diet coke! To this day I can see her having a love fest! After breakfast we would pile in our cars and head to the Mennonite Bakery and the Cheese and More Store. We would select goodies to be given as gifts and for ourselves. Oh my golly I can taste the Farmer Cheese: milky, light and full of goodness!

Next it would be off to shop at the stores of Lewisburg. The town would be completely decked out to the nine with Christmas decorations. Certainly put you in the spirit if it was lacking! We would finally head back to the farm starving and cold. We were never disappointed with the amount of warmth, love, and food as we arrived back. On Sunday afternoon we would begrudgingly pack our cars and head back to reality. Our spirits renewed, our bellies on over load, and memories to last more than a life time.

I am wishing for you this holiday season the spirit of the holidays to bring you joy, the gathering of friends to bring you happiness and the love of God to surround you bringing you peace,


4 C sweet potatoes, cubed
1/2 C white sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 C milk, I use almond milk
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 C brown Sugar
1/3 C brown rice flour
3 Tbsp Earth Balance. softened
1 C chopped pecans


Preheat your oven to 325 degree F (165 degrees C). Place sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan with water to cover. Cook over medium high heat until tender (about 20 min); drain and mash. 

In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, white sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and extract. Mix until creamy.transfer to a 9X13 inch baking dish that has been greased with earth balance.

In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour. Cut in Earth Balance until it becomes course. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the topping is light brown. 

NOTE: You may add marshmallows to the top and place under the broiler for a few minutes!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Potluck dinners

I do again!
Although it was snowing, the view was still stunning!
The Sunday before Thanksgiving my husband Jeff and I renewed our wedding vows in honor of our 25th wedding anniversary! It was a very small simple ceremony at Kerry Park (my favorite place in the world) overlooking Seattle, the Puget Sound, the Olympic Mtns and on clear sunny days a splendid view of Mt. Rainer.
25 years 

On our special day snowflakes danced in the air. We were surrounded by our children and Seattle family and friends. This was all arranged by my husband on his own as a surprise. WOW O WOW! Following the ceremony we had a small party pot luck dinner at our house. The wonderful snow continued and we had a wonderful time.
Our beautiful family
Blair, Emily, Jeff, Sarah Elizabeth, Heather and Joseph
I was so touched by how thoughtful everyone was of the kids foods issues. There was only 2 items the kids could not eat. I was so amazed. I made ahead of time dinner for the kids so that they would not feel left out. I did not want them being hungry and eating illegal food. Our oldest daughter baked us a lovely 3 tier cake and then made GFCF brownies for the kids. It was so funny~ the brownies were gone before the cake and no one knew it was GFCF till the youngest daughter mentioned it to one of her friends. :0)
Our oldest daughter baked a 3 layer GF Cake

Inside of cake

Voom to now almost a year later to the day....
I am so excited! I am a geek and I admit it. As a last minute oversight, we are throwing together a potluck Twilight Party. Everybody is bring food to share so we can eat dinner and drool in our food! LOL I am serving salsa with corn chips and my meatballs.

I am curious what others take to potlucks, care to share? Tis the season to Potluck!

1 lb of ground turkey
1 cup of GFCF bread crumbs
2 eggs beaten
1/4 c shredded carrots
1/2 tbsp Sea Salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp parsley
4 tbsp olive oil

Add everything together. Tip: place ingredients in a ziploc bag and squeeze it all together. Then dump in to a mixing bowl. Meatballs should be the size of thumbnail. Add olive oil to oil used to sauté veggies. Cook meatballs until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel. 

I served my meatballs in this BBQ sauce
May your tables be bountiful~ blair

Crock pot Applesauce

Our new house has nice back size back yard and is surrounded by ...surprise, evergreen trees! Our neighbors on the other hand have been blessed with red and transparent apple Trees. My neighbor across the street, Pat, shared some of her transparent apples. Oh my golly, they made amazing applesauce! I had never made applesauce before, holly cow was it easy and yummy.

I took half of the batch camping with us over labor day with our friends the Smyer Family. Rebekah served a massive amount of eggs and bacon to feed the masses. (Between her family and our there were 12 in all.) I served my apples as a side dish. Everyone thought it was apple pie filling! The large mason jar was empty before the bacon was all gone! :0)

Our next door neighbor, Heather, has 2 types of apples, red and transparent. After I asked about her if I could have some of her apples, She thanked me for reminding her she needed to make applesauce and preceded to pick them all. :0(

A week later because of family issues she moved. Heather told me to help myself to her apples and I have! She thought the red ones were crab apples because they were so small but they are not. The red apples did not make very good applesauce I am sad to stay. I did skillet fry some this morning and they were OK. I was not satisfied with them so I used the apples to make a Brown Betty. This was better but I do not think I would use them again. The next step I think will be the dehydrator I got off Freecycle and have yet to use. Sounds like an excuse to try it out.  The apples are super hard so apple rings strung in the basement is out.

I know I am rambling and whining about these apples! I am very happy we have been blessed with apples. The children are thankful because I am cooking again. :0) Not so much though with all the chopping.

May your table always be bountiful.


12-14 apples of your choice
1 C apple juice
1/2 salt
sugar in the raw or brown sugar

The apple measurement is NOT approximate. I filled my crock pot to the top. It might take more or less for yours.

I am feeling a little squash

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE fall! I love everything about it. The brisk mornings, warm afternoons and and chilly nights. The beautiful fall colors are so beautiful. Most of all I love fall food! Pumpkins, apples, red grapes ans SQUASH! Not just one kind but all kinds. I love how there are so many varieties, color and weird shapes. If it were not for my darling vegetarian daughters, I would not have a clue what I was missing.

Remember, my Mom only made certain dishes. She never deviated from them. Fried chicken, cube steak, milk gravy, corn, mashed potatoes, applesauce and cresant rolls to name a few yummies. That is how Momma pronounced them! Pork chops, applesauce, canned party peas, macaroni and cheese.  Do not get me wrong, Mom could cook a mean dinner. She was known for her parties and the food served. I will never forget when my dear friend Cameron Bell came over to hang out. Dinner time rolled around and of course he was invited to stay. I have never seen someone enjoy their food as Cameron did that night. He was sadly disappointed to learn that I could not cook like my Mom! I make a mean skillet of fried chicken but nothing I mean NOTHING could beat hers.

My Grandmother once gave me the ultimate compliment. She told me that my fried chicken was just as good as Mom's if not better! Oh my golly I thought I was going to faint! Of course that was our little secret. :0)

OK, back to squash. Squash is so easy to prepare. Each variety has its own  taste. The squash in West Virginia has a sweeter taste. In Seattle the squash has a more earthy taste. Good in its own way.
Did you know that you can prepare squash in the microwave? I have yet to try to cook it this way. If you have never tried squash is yummy and so easy to make.
                                Sarah Elizabeth hiking with friends from Edmond Heights K12
Hiking in the Cascade Mountains

Check out these monster size leaves. Heather's hand pales in size.

Get out of the house and enjoy the bounty of fall colors. Pack a picnic and take someone near and dear to your heart. Collect leaves and press them in your books. One day you will find them and remember that lovely time you shared. :0)

May your table always be bountiful~blair

ACORN SQUASH                                                             

1 acorn squash
2 apples, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


To easily peel the acorn squash without losing a lot of vegetable, gently drop the squash in a large pot of boiling water, and boil for 15 minutes. Pour off the boiling water and fill with cold water and let sit 5 minutes to cool. When cool enough to handle, use a knife to slice off the peel on the ridges and use a teaspoon to dig out the peel in the valleys. Slice the squash in half and remove the seeds and stem. Then slice the halves into sections and finally cut into 1 inch chunks.

Place the squash chunks into a large microwave-safe bowl along with the apples. Dot with pieces of butter. Sprinkle the brown sugar, walnuts, salt and cinnamon over the top. Cover with plastic wrap, and poke a few holes in it for ventilation.

Cook in the microwave for 7 1/2 minutes on full power. Remove, uncover, and stir. Return to the microwave, and cook for another 7 1/2 minutes on full power, until tender. Serve hot.


You could use butternut squash for variety.
Pecans work well in this recipe instead of walnuts.
Honey or maple syrup can used with or instead of the brown sugar.
Adding cranberries and raisins gives this dish an amazing bump up!
If you prefer roasted squash, you can place this (uncovered) in the oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for just under an hour. Be sure to add 1/4 cup of water to the recipe before baking UPSIDE DOWN!

Sloppy Joe's

Every other Saturday night at our house is burger night. Not just hamburgers, but black bean burgers, salmon burgers, ground turkey and ground chicken burgers..the list goes on.

While grocery shopping the other day, Emily mentioned that she missed eating Manwich and asked to have it placed on the menu. (Just in case you did not know it, Manwich is gluten free.) I have stopped serving manwich because of the large amount of modified cornstarch as well as high fructose corn syrup. Sarah Elizabeth is on a school trip for the week-end sailing on the Zodiac Schooner. We all know she is a vegetarian so I thought Saturday night would be a good time to make a mock manwich.    
How is this for a school trip?!

Can't you just taste that sweet tomato sauce on a glorious white bun? Oh I can! But this is reality and we no longer consume white bread (sniff, sniff) Udi does make a nice a hamburger bun. They are so big that we cut them in half and can make two buns. Udi buns are not in my budget for this month so tonight we ate naked sloppy Joe's. No one seemed to mind. I served sweet potato fries, frozen corn. Emily made Betty Crocker GF chocolate chips. If I do say so myself it was good dinner.

I hope this dish makes your menu rotation.
May your table always be bountiful~ blair

GF Sloppy Joe's

2 medium onions, diced
2 tbsp minced, garlic
1 green pepper, diced
2 tbsp oil, oil or canola
2 lbs of ground beef
3/4 C ketchup
4 tbsp GF BBQ sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp chili powder
1/8 tsp ground mustard
2 C water, separated

Place onion, garlic, green pepper in a cold skillet with oil. Simmer until the veggies are tender. Add ground beef and all spices, cooking until brown. As the meat cooks, break up into smaller pieces. Once meet is browned place into a strainer to remove as must grease as possible.
While meat is draining, add one cup of water to skillet allowing any brown bits to loosen from the skillet. After about 2 minutes add ketchup, BBQ sauce, and brown sugar. Simmer until brown sugar is dissolved. Add meat back to skillet coating with sauce. Once meat is completely coated add remaining cup of water. Simmer for 30-45 mins till liquid has become a nice thick sauce.

Joe's can be served on Udi buns or sandwich slices, corn chips topped with daiya cheese, or naked on the plate! Sweet potatoes or steak fries make a wonderful side. I had intended to serve a spinach and strawberry salad but the berries did not look to hot.

Note: 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes will add an extra depth if you like it spicy.