Monday, December 31, 2012


Biscuits…to the British they are what we would call a cracker, or even a cookie. According to, biscuits are described thusly: a kind of bread in small, soft cakes, raised with baking powder or soda, or sometimes with yeast.

To me they are lovely little accompaniments to any soup or stew, or even just gravy. I’ve made many different kinds of biscuits in my lifetime of cooking thus far, but I have to say that sweet potato biscuits are at the tippity top of my favorites.

They are sweet, but whereas I much prefer other flavors over sweet, I’ve cut down the sugar in them to a more palatable amount, but still retaining that distinctive flavor.

While not so sweet as to be discordant with savory stews, these biscuits are sweet enough to stand alone as a snack with coffee or tea. They’re also a hit at potluck gatherings, and some in the family have been known to let out boisterous whoops of joy upon discovering them on the menu.

So! Let’s get to it!

The sweet potatoes can be cooked in the oven or the microwave, until soft.

Remove them from their “jackets” with a spoon.

No need to mash; they will get enough of that in the mixing.

Using a wire whisk, mix together the hot sweet potatoes, shortening, and sugar.

Add the buttermilk, then stir in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about an inch thick.

It’s actually easier to just pat it out with your hands, which is what I do.

Cut the biscuits out using a cup dipped in flour, or, as I did, simply use a butter knife to cut into squares.

Bake in a 350° oven for about 13 minutes.

And serve. Last night I made them to go along with a delightful beef stew. J

Sweet Potato Biscuits
2 c. cooked hot sweet potatoes           
½ c. shortening
¾ c. sugar                                            
¼ c. plus 2 Tbl. Buttermilk                 
3 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt


Saturday, December 22, 2012


Gingerbread cookies…who doesn’t like them? Or enjoy decorating them? Every year at Christmas I bake gingerbread cookies in all shapes and sizes for the kids to decorate. Which they do with gusto, using the colored icings I make and decorations I scout out at various stores.

Caitlin, Megan, and Phil.

Caitlin said she waits all year for this activity. I’m glad that through this favorite of family traditions, I’ve given my children memories they will always cherish, that they anticipate with such joy.

Ryan ans Megan decorating.

And this one is especially precious to my heart, because it all began when *I* was a child.

My mother would prepare the cookies, icings, and decorations, and my siblings and I would decorate them while listening to Christmas music.

One album we loved especially that was a staple on our phonograph was by the Do Re Mi Children’s Choir. When my girls were young I acquired this same “album” by this choir, only on cassette tape. And continued the tradition even more fully by playing it while my children decorated cookies.

The recipe I use is the same one my mother used, called Molasses Cookie Cutouts.

Molasses Cookie Cutouts
2 c. flour                       
½ tsp. salt                      
½ tsp. baking soda        
1 tsp. baking powder            
1 tsp. ground ginger           
1 tsp. ground cloves               
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ c. shortening
½ c. sugar
½ c. molasses
1 egg yolk

Cream shortening and sugar; beat in molasses and egg yolk. Sift dry ingredients together and add, stirring well with wooden spoon. Sprinkle flour lightly on the table and roll out about ¼ inch thick. Bake on un-greased cookie sheet about 8 minutes in 350° oven.

The icing is very simple. Take four cups confectioner’s sugar and mix in 2-3 Tbl. Water, first 1-2 Tbl., then by the teaspoonful. It needs to be thin enough to spread, but thick enough to stay on the cookies. Divide it into five bowls, and add two to three drops of food coloring to make red, green, blue, and yellow (the fifth bowl is for white).
Timotheus concentrating.
                                                                Besides the usual Christmas cookie decorations like colored sugars and multicolored jimmies, we have used tiny gummy bears, cinnamon hearts, mini M&Ms, mini chocolate chips, licorice whips, small spice drops, tiny marshmallows, and “silver” balls. The sky is the limit when it comes to your choice of decorations, and also to children’s creativity.
I am so glad my mother started this tradition with me and my siblings; it was so special I just had to share it with my own children. My own cherished memories were the catalyst for making precious memories for them, traditions becoming anchors in this sometimes confusing, chaotic world we live in. It’s just a special kind of magic we mothers have. Thank you, Momma.

The last of the cookie dough, also known as
the Monster Cookie. The leftover decorations
on someone's plate are dumped on top. ;)


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Did Someone Say Cake?

This is the cake I made for Megan's birthday using these recipes. :)

Well, today is my birthday. :-) I’m not wicked into sweets, but one thing I absolutely love is birthday cake. So I thought I’d share my favorite recipe for chocolate cake and vanilla frosting. This is the recipe that my Mom made frequently when I was growing up, and it is so good!

Velvet Midnight Cake

1 c. butter
2 ½ c. sugar
4 eggs
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. baking cocoa
2 c. hot water
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream together butter, sugar, and eggs. Stir hot water into baking cocoa, and add to creamed mixture alternately with dry ingredients. Add vanilla. Beat well. Pour into three 9” round cake pans or one 11X15” baking dish, or a whole lot of cupcake tins. Bake in a 350° oven for: approximately 25-30 minutes (cake pans); 35-40 minutes (11X15” baking dish); or 20-25 minutes (cupcakes), or until toothpick or knife inserted in center comes out clean. For round cake pans, cool for ten minutes and remove from pans to cooling racks. For all, cool completely and frost.

Basic Frosting

1 c. shortening
2 tsp. vanilla
4 c. confectioner’s sugar
2-3 Tbl. Milk

Cream together shortening and vanilla. Add confectioner’s sugar and the milk 1 Tbl. at a time until frosting is smooth enough to frost cake. I really, really like frosting, so I usually increase this recipe by 1 ½.

After the singing and candles, enjoy with a glass of cold milk!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

From Grumpy to Grateful

Today was one of those days when a lot of little teeny things happened that were either bad, or annoying, or both. Alone, and spread over a period of days, not even one of them would have put me in a bad mood. But taken all together, happening all in the same day, it seems to affect me as if something truly terrible had occurred.

First, I had woken very early, so I decided to read for a while, knowing I had a few hours until I needed to take some Christmas gifts to the post office. However, unbeknownst to me, Mr. Sandman decided to pay me an untimely visit.

I woke to discover I had a mere ninety minutes to get to the post office. And the gifts I had planned on sending were neither packed in the box I planned on using, nor even wrapped. Urg.

After frantically wrapping and labeling, Phil and I had to wiggle and waggle and finally finagle the assorted presents in the 24x18x18 packing box, sardine style. We raced to dress and drive off to mail them.

Then I made a phone call and was disconnected. A call back was not answered at all.

Next we went to Wal-Mart, where Phil and I split up so I could shop for his Christmas gifts without him seeing. It was crowded and I couldn’t find everything I needed, and oh good gravy marie, what even possessed me to go shopping on a Saturday during the Christmas season?

Phil and I were to meet in the front of the store in thirty minutes. At the appointed time, I couldn’t locate him, even though he was there.

So I checked out at the register alone. And entered the PIN for my debit card wrong. Twice. Okay, debit card now locked out; I’ll just use cash. I was $5.00 short. And still didn’t see Phil.

The clerk aborted the transaction and placed it at the Customer Service desk while I went to find Phil.

Once found, we waited in line AGAIN to have all our items rung up AGAIN, and he used his debit card. By now my left foot was ballooning out and it felt like my sneaker had a stranglehold on it. In all the hustle and bustle of trying to get out of the house quickly, I had neglected to put my compression stocking on.

As we drove home, I looked at the sales receipt and found that I had been charged full price for the 7 packages of buns and rolls that were on sale for thirty cents less.

At home, I stepped in water and got my socks wet, forgot my water cup twice when I was in one room and had to backtrack again, and stubbed my toe hard.

I almost threw away a container of Pringles, couldn’t find some of the groceries I had *just* bought, and tripped over some bunched up packing paper I hadn’t thrown away.

AAAUUGG! Okay, time to take a breath. And see the good that happened today.

The packages managed to fit in the box, it was under $14.00 to mail, and the post office actually closes thirty minutes later than I thought.

The person I had tried contacting called me back and I was able to give the information I needed to relay.

I got the important things I needed at the store, and I can get credited for the overcharges next time.

Phil put my compression stocking on, and the swelling is receding as I relax off my feet.

I am blessed with clothing and had clean socks to put on, I have running water in my home for my cup, I am relatively healthy, stubbed toe or not.

I saw the Pringles can before it was too late, I am blessed to have those rolls and buns to eat that are in the house somewhere, and if tripping over some packing paper is the worst I have to contend with, then maybe I need an attitude adjustment today.

I am truly blessed in so many ways. I think the rest of the day I’ll focus on those countless blessings. Peace be with you all.






Monday, December 10, 2012

Say Cheese!

Toasted cheese, grilled cheese, cheese toastie. Call it what you will, it’s still a cooked cheese sandwich.

According to Wikipedia, historians estimate that the grilled cheese sandwich originated in the 1920s. Woman’s Day magazine has dubbed April as Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month.

It is probably one of the most popular cooked sandwiches in our society. It certainly is here in our family.

There are as many combinations of additional ingredients to the grilled cheese sandwich as there are individual tastes. Our family has several that have made the top favorites list and make regular appearances on our plates.

Grilled cheese and:
      Vidalia onion with hot mustard

Sometimes we mix it up for even more yummy combinations: tomato with the tuna, bacon with the tomato, etc.

These are so easy for the tasty sandwich they make. Simply layer cheese, the additional ingredient, and more cheese.

Here we have tuna, crabmeat, tomato, and Vidalia onion with hot mustard.

For the grilling, you can spread the bread with butter or mayonnaise.
And when they are a toasty golden brown, serve them up for an easy, delicious meal!

Simply scrumptious!

Monday, December 3, 2012

New Beginnings

Megan, Caitlin, and me.

Well, it’s been a long time since I posted on the blog. Twelve months, actually. The past year has brought our family many changes, not the least of which was our move 700 miles away from the area where I’ve lived all my life.

Change is a good thing, when it is needed. But even when the change is a good thing, there can still be stresses from it, as we transition into a life different from what we’ve known for so long.

And thus, I hadn’t felt able to blog like I used to.

Timmy and Ryan being monkeys while Phil looks on.

I feel now is the time to get back to it. I feel ready to slip into writing again. I really missed it, actually, and the past few months I’ve had many ideas of what I’d like to write about.

But until I sat down to start, it seemed like such a big step, and the longer I put it off, the more overwhelming the idea of writing again seemed. At times I despaired of ever writing on my blog again.

But no more. My sabbatical is over, and I’m ready to get back into the swing of things.

Roasting marshmallows with Timmy, Angela, Ryan,
Caity, Megan, and Phil.

So, here I am. December, the month when we celebrate the holiday of love, God the Creator’s gift of love, His Son, for me, is a good time to start sharing here again.

I hope whatever love holiday you celebrate, this month will find you blessing and being blessed, by the family and friends in your life. I know I’m looking forward to it. Peace. J

Don't let Ryan's mugshot face fool you; he loved the bowling!