Making plans…and soup!(recipe included)


                                                 Assateague Island Beach

                                                      November 2010

This is where I long to be!

And will be soon- Meredith is coming home in mid-December and we are headed down to Chincoteague.  Look at the waves!  I can hardly wait to stand on the beach and look at the beauty and majesty of the Atlantic!


And now on to the soup-

Curried Squash and sausage soup with spinach.

I made this just after Thanksgiving.  I wanted a totally different taste from the whole turkey and stuffing menu- and I had leftover squash, pumpkin and sausage from the pies and stuffing.

This was perfect for the cool temperatures and made a great black Friday lunch.

It was also great on Saturday when Jordan and I finished it off.


1 medium squash -baked and cleaned

1/2 lb bulk sausage- I used Italian, sautee and chop fine

1 small onion-diced

2 ribs celery-diced

1 TBS olive oil

2 TBS curry powder

4 cups chicken brothe

1/2 lb baby spinach

S+P to taste

I added the leftover pumpkin(canned, about 3/4 cup) to the squash and blended it with an immersion blender.


Sautee the onions and celery in the olive oil until tender,  add the cooked sausage, and the squash mix and stir in the curry powder.  Salt and pepper to taste, then add the chicken broth and heat.  Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, then add the spinach and stir until they wilt into the soup.  Taste – I added a little coconut milk ( or cream or half and half) at this point, because it was just a little harsh and I was looking for mellow.  I also added a little (1/2 tsp) of dried basil- it was that kind of day- adding until it tasted just right.

Thanksgiving- Psalm 100

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
   come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
   It is he who made us, and we are his
   we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; 
   his faithfulness continues through all generations

A psalm for giving grateful praise.

Quite different from the giving of ungrateful praise

~Worship the LORD with attitude~

~Come before him with sarcasm and cynical remarks~

~Wonder whether He is indeed, God~

~Think about how we came to be~ and to whom or what we owe our allegiance.~

~Enter His place with misgivings and whining~

~complain and doubt His existence-

~question His integrity and endurance- doubt the sincerity of His loving-kindness.

Sometimes I’m guilty of the second rendering of the psalm-

I waver and doubt- my circumstances color the strength of my faith.

It takes a simple childlike faith or a mature tested one to come up to the Gates and enter into the court with true thanksgiving and praise.

I’ve graduated from the first and am approaching the second- so I have to look carefully at what I have to offer.  I want my thanks and praise to be as pure and true as the LORD GOD I’m offering it to.   And that takes some work- some prayer- some repentance- a renewal of faith.

Growing up in the Lord and adding to my faith is not easy.  Sometimes the steps are excruciatingly painful- sometimes they are just frightening- becoming His child is only the first step.  Becoming His grown up daughter is hard work- and learning to thank Him along the way has to become a daily discipline.

~but that’s the way it is~ in all the Steps on the Journey.

Post Thanksgiving post…

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Here we are.

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Still happy and smiling.

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We’ve been holding babies-

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telling stories and sharing a feast-

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reading and watching football together-

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And, of course-

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I love holidays!



just added this last picture because I loved what Jordan did to decorate his cookie!  He made a St. Patrick cookie- and then- He ate it!

Cookie art is not the saving kind, but the savoring kind!

Finding St. Nicholas and a spice cookie recipe



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I was a little reluctant to start these cookies.  My expectations were too high.

I was hoping to make in gingerbread and icing that which I could hardly sketch with pencils.

But they turned out quite nice, in my opinion.


They started out rather amorphous shapes.

Then I outlined them with royal icing.

(basically egg whites, cream of tartar and 10x sugar)

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Then after painting them with a white glaze, I started defining the design.    Because I wanted them a deep red, the icing needed a lot of red food coloring, and even then it wasn’t dark or rich enough, so I added a sprinkling of red sanding sugar.  This added the depth of color and a wonderful texture.

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The smaller St. Nick had a small ball spatter that gave it a more rustic look.


I had a lot of red icing left- so I made some apples as well and added gourmet red sugar to the look-

DSC04810 it sure added to the sparkle!

Here’s the recipe for the cookies- I tried to convert it for you metric users.

(If I were you, I’d double check my measurements- I’m not a whiz at math!)

Spice Cookies


1 cup (227 grams) shortening

3/4 cup (652 grams) brown sugar

3/4 TBS cinnamon

3/4 tsp of ginger, cloves, nutmeg

2 large eggs

1 cup (342 grams) molasses

3/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

4 1/2 cup (482 grams) AP flour


Cream together shortening, sugar,spices- add eggs, beating in until smooth.  Add molasses, again beating until smooth.  Stir in dry ingredients, mix until you have a sticky mess!  Well, maybe not a mess, but the dough is quite sticky! 

You will be adding flour when you roll them out – but for right now stick into the refrigerator, and leave overnight.

Roll out and cut into shapes- or make into balls and roll in sugar and bake at 375 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 8-10 minutes


And decorate to your heart’s delight!

Now I’m off to make the stuffing!

Pumpkin Pie- American Style



Here’s my pie.

I put an acorn crust around the edge.


I painted the edge with egg white and cut the acorns out of pie dough with a tiny linzer cookie cutter.


Sorry- I’m not a good photographer.

But this pie is so good!



I started with a pumpkin and baked it.  Then I cleaned it out and pureed it.  Then I put it into a fine colander I lined with cheese cloth and let most of the liquid drain off.

I mixed it with 3/4 cup sugar, 2 heaping tsps. of cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp of ginger, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp cardamom ( Good idea, Brydie!)

Then I added two beaten eggs and 1 can of evaporated milk (NOT condensed. That would make it too sweet!)

I poured it into the crust, covered the edges with aluminum foil and baked it at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes – then turned the oven down to 350 F and baked for another 55 minutes, taking the foil off in the last ten minutes of baking.

Honestly- I don’t like most people’s pumpkin pies.  They are too sweet- or the spice is not right.  Sweet potato pies seem to have a lot more flavor and don’t need much sugar at all. 

But if I’m going to eat a pumpkin pie-

it’s going to be this one!



Baking bread- for stuffing-plus the recipe for bread stuffing.

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My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the stuffing.

I love making it, snacking on it, tasting it, breakfasting  on it on Thursday morning, and eating it with gravy poured over it for dinner.

I have made it for about 30 years- with help from first Robin and my mom and now Cynthia, and I won’t give up making  it until I absolutely have to.  This year, I’ve been making my own bread to go into our stuffing.  I’ve used whole wheat bread left over before- but never baked loaves specifically to use for the stuffing.

Until now.

Store bought bread is expensive – and it really isn’t that good.  I don’t like to eat it for sandwiches, so why should I put it into my favorite dish?

I’ve baked 5 loaves of bread- two a light  sourdough bread, one a rye, and the last two peasant bread.  I’ve sliced and cubed 3 loaves and toasted them in the oven-


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and I am so looking forward to putting them into the stuffing on Wednesday!


Here’s my stuffing recipe- although it is approximate because I change it according to what I have in stock.

1 lb butter,melted

3 cups chopped celery

3 cups chopped onion

2-3 cups chopped parsley

1 lb bulk sausage, mild

1 cup chopped walnuts

6 to 8 cups bread, cut into crouton sized squares

2 cups turkey or chicken broth

salt and pepper, to taste

poultry seasoning- about 1 tsp or to taste

Sautee the celery and onion in the butter until it is transparent and soft.  Add to big bowl full of cut up bread cubes.  Sautee the sausage and add to bowl along with the parsley and nuts.  Stir until well mixed and taste.  Add salt and pepper and poultry seasoning, pour 1 cup of broth on top and stir again until the bread is moist and everything is mixed up well.  Now taste again (this is the best part of this recipe!).

If it seems a little dry- add more broth, adjust your seasonings, and taste, yet again!

This makes a lot of dressing, but I make it the day before and let it sit in the fridge overnight so that all the flavors can marry, then I have a bowl for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning.  You can stuff it into the turkey or put it into a casserole or even in a slow cooker- but if you use the last two options, add another cup of broth so it doesn’t dry out.

Stuffing is the best part of Thanksgiving dinner!chef

It’s not just in the making- SHAPING counts when it comes to dinner rolls-recipe included


Several years ago I put up a tutorial on a previous blog on how to make dinner rolls shaped like turkeys.  Actually- to my eye they look more like mourning doves, but everyone who gets one is delighted- so I’m repeating the tutorial today.  I usually make 5 or 6 dozen of these for The Bake Shop just before our American Thanksgiving- so I’ll be making these this week. 

Turkey Dinner Rolls are easy to portion- easy to shape!
Turkey Dinner Rolls are easy to portion- easy to shape!
Roll out half of dough on pastry board into large circle. Cut circle in quarters, then cut each quarter into 5ths – so you have 20 long triangle pieces of dough.

And now you shape them!
And now you shape them!
If you just want a crescent roll, roll them up from the largest end and place them with the point on the bottom- raise and bake at 375 degrees F for about 12 to 15 min.

But if you are wanting to make rolls that look like turkeys-
But if you are wanting to make rolls that look like turkeys-
( they don’t taste like turkey!)

But they LOOK like turkeys-
But they LOOK like turkeys-
I put a dozen on a baking sheet. And they raise and get all bristly looking in the oven!

Then you need to shape them, using a bamboo shishkabob stick.
Then you need to shape them, using a bamboo shish kabob stick.
Starting at the small pointy end of the dough triangle you roll up the dough about half way up and form it into a ball.

Save back a small piece to make the turkeys head.
Save back a small piece to make the turkeys head.

After you roll it into a ball (only halfway)
After you roll it into a ball (only halfway)
Then pinch the back of the ball together and press the circumference of the ball into the flat part of the triangle that you have left.

So- at this point you have a small ball attached to a flat piece of dough
So- at this point you have a small ball attached to a flat piece of dough

Using your fingers press firmly on the edges of the ball.
Using your fingers press firmly on the edges of the ball.
It will start to look like a big belly of a turkey against the flat back tail piece.

Now - using your bamboo stick -
Now – using your bamboo stick –
catch a small portion of the belly piece and make tail feathers by pressing the stick into scored lines around the belly. Don’t press so hard that you cut all the way through the dough- but you want to leave deeply scored lines to delineate the tail feathers.

Now attach the reserved all of dough b poking all around it .
Now attach the reserved ball of dough poking all around it .
Place the small ball on the top of the belly and poke around the edges to attach.
Allow to raise about 15 minutes and then bake until golden brown!(375 degrees)

They come out all cute and puffy!
They come out all cute and puffy!

And there you have them-  turkey dinner rolls.
And there you have them- turkey dinner rolls.
For Thanksgiving!

Roll recipe- makes about 3 dozen rolls.
6 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk ,scalded in microwave (about  2 min on high)
1 stick butter or margarine
2 eggs
1/2  cup sugar
1 Tbs salt
2 Tbs yeast
1 cup warm water
scant tsp sugar
Put flour, sugar and salt into large bowl and whisk together- form well in center of flour.  Melt butter or margarine in the hot milk and set aside.  Proof yeast (mix  together yeast and sugar, stir in water and watch for growth reaction- it should start growing  almost immediately).  Beat eggs and pour into well, add milk mixture (butter should be completely melted) and stir until the flour and liquid are one mass.  Add proofed yeast-(  if the yeast didn’t raise ,proof another batch, either it is too old or your water was too hot) and mix the whole mess into a sticky dough!  Flour counter, dump dough onto flour , add some more on your hands and knead for at least 10 minutes.  This is a Big ball of dough so put your muscles into it.  Grease large bowl, form dough into a ball and allow to raise, covered, for at least an hour , until doubled in volume.  Cut ball in half and roll into large circle.  Form your rolls and enjoy! 
Don’t forget to be thankful – I usually pray while making these- it makes the whole experience Totally worthwhile!

Psalm 113 – thankfulness for children!

Psalm 113

1 Praise the LORD.

   Praise the LORD, you his servants;
   praise the name of the LORD.
2 Let the name of the LORD be praised,
   both now and forevermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
   the name of the LORD is to be praised.

4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations,
   his glory above the heavens.
5 Who is like the LORD our God,
   the One who sits enthroned on high,
6 who stoops down to look
   on the heavens and the earth?

7 He raises the poor from the dust
   and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
8 he seats them with princes,
   with the princes of his people.
9 He settles the childless woman in her home
   as a happy mother of children.

   Praise the LORD.

I love this psalm.  I’ve used it in devotions more times than I can recount.

It is a psalm of thanksgiving and praise.

It is a psalm of recognition of God’s involvement with His children. 

It is a psalm of hopes fulfilled.

And it has a happy ending!

(I LOVE happy endings!)

Last night I babysat for my niece and her husband.  They are foster parents and have two children in their care right now.  Two children- beautiful and loving- gifts from God.  One is nearly theirs- for good, by law- the other has not been placed- still in limbo -gifts from God.

Praying over and with these children awakened in me a desire to keep and protect BOTH of them.  I am amazed at the love poured upon these children by these parents.  The foster parents, also -gifts from God.

God is looking into the situation- stooping “down to look  on the heavens and the earth” – giving gifts in both directions- to the parents- to the children.

And to me. 

God is the Author of happy settled families.

Praise the LORD.

In the season of giving -gifts from God.

making lists- checking twice

I am checking my lists-

not to0 sure about progress, though!

I have somehow managed to sprain my right wrist.

It has been aching from arthritis- but this is more than that.

Washing dishes is hard.

Just using my right hand hurts tonight.

Typing is hard.

I’m going to bed- and rest my wrist.

Maybe it will be better tomorrow.

Making up Christmas potions

When I was a little girl, my mother bought Robin and I a perfume making factory for Christmas.  WE LOVED IT!!

Little eye droppers and funnels and tiny bottles with labels.

And essential oils and sweet almond oil to mix them in- it was seriously a little girl heaven. We mixed and smelled and spilled and splashed and used it up within a week. sigh. sob. groan.

Heaven over in less than a week.

And we had made such an unholy mess in that week that my mother vowed “Never again!!!”.

But we had had a taste of what it could be like- and so- we were ALWAYS finding ways to make potions.  We cut up flowers and pounded roots and mixed and shook and pulverized everything we could find that smelled good – and met with abysmal failure.  Most of our stuff was rank.  Some of it got moldy.  We quit.

Until we were adults and then we started up again, albeit slowly, very slowly.

I started making my own potpourri.  She experimented with spices.

And we started making up our potions again.

Only this time- SUCESSS!

Today, I made some potions .

I made  ginger and vanilla milk bath powders.

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I love this fragrant and milky bubble bath- I make it mostly for myself and give away enough so that I don’t feel too self indulgent.

And I made a chai tea mix-

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The nicest thing about making your own is that you control the flavors!

I mix darjeeling tea with lemon peel, cardamom, cinnamon and milk.

-Those are my favorite- no cloves- and it is delicious with a little honey added at the end for sweetening.

And finally- Mock Boursin Cheese mix-

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Again- my favorite herbs in a dry mix that you add by the teaspoon to 1/2 butter and 1/2 cream cheese to make a wonderful spread.

I want to make up some hot chocolate mixes and some nut mixes as well.

And I love making fruitcake- it seems more like a marvelous mix of magical fruit and nuts than a recipe.  The whole process is so fulfilling to my senses that it is also like a gift I make for myself and share with others as an afterthought.

And I think I’ll make some lip balm and rose and sea salt scrub with shea butter!

Let the magic begin!