Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another Food Holiday

It’s not just candy.  Halloween is all about food.  It began with the ancient practice of Samhain.  Held among the Celts of northern Europe and Britain, Samhain is a celebration held when the harvest was brought in.  It included feasts and bonfires offered as both thanksgiving and prayer for enough to sustain them through another year.

But the celebration was more than that.  It was believed that on this night the veil between our world and that of the spirits grew thin.  Ancestors long past would return to call on the living.  Favorite foods and wine would be left out in welcome to these unusual guests. 

As the Christians sought to convert the Celts they instituted the celebration of All Saints Day, intended to replace the remembrances of Samhain.  The pagan traditions died hard, however.  Centuries into the common era, Christian families would set the table with a feast for the departed before leaving to attend the All Saints Mass.  It would be a disappointment indeed if the food were still left on the table when they returned.

All Saints was also celebrated with the offering of Soul Cakes, given in exchange for prayers for the dead.  Soul Cakes were small round pastries filled with raisins, currants and sweet spices.  Each cake would represent a soul being freed from Purgatory.  Soul Cakes were given to those who would go “souling” from door to door, usually children and the poor.  It was a way of maintaining traditions similar to the pagan ones, and offering charity at the same time.  Our modern day trick-or-treaters are their spooky descendants.

Halloween, All Saints, Samhain – they all mark transition.  Weather becomes cooler. Leaves turn gorgeous colors, then fall before the advance of winter.  We begin thinking indoor thoughts of cozy chairs and welcoming fireplaces as we mark the passage of time.  The end of another year drifts into sight. 

There is something special about this cluster of holidays.  Whether the evening is an encounter with the eerie presence of fairies and spirits or just a reminder of the ceaseless flow of time, it is a night that makes us stop for a moment.  We think about the seasons ahead and behind, and we are grateful for enough to sustain us through another year.

Spooky eating!

Soul Cakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground fresh if possible
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground fresh if possible
1/2 teaspoon salt
Generous pinch of saffron
1/2 cup milk
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup currants

For the Glaze:
1 egg yolk, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the flour, the nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Mix well with a fork.
Crumble the saffron threads into a small saucepan and heat over low heat just until they become aromatic, taking care not to burn them. Add the milk and heat just until hot to the touch. The milk will have turned a bright yellow. Remove from heat.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon (or use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment). Add the egg yolks and blend in thoroughly with the back of the spoon. Add the spiced flour and combine as thoroughly as possible; the mixture will be dry and crumbly.
One tablespoon at a time, begin adding in the warm saffron milk, blending vigorously with the spoon. When you have a soft dough, stop adding milk; you probably won't need the entire half-cup.
Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead gently, with floured hands, until the dough is uniform. Roll out gently to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Using a floured 2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can and set on an ungreased baking sheet. You can gather and re-roll the scraps, gently.

Decorate the soul cakes with currants and then brush liberally with the beaten egg yolk. Bake for 15 minutes, until just golden and shiny. Serve warm, with cold pumpkin juice.  Makes 12 to 15 2-inch soul cakes.

Source:  NPR.org

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cleaning Out


This week’s recipe is Quick Chicken a la King.  The quick was an important part of its choice since this week has been a busy one what with Halloween to prepare for and all.  But I made it and we ate it and it was very good.

You’ll notice below, that I’ve made a lot of substitutions.  This wasn’t for the sake of taste or creativity.  I didn’t look at this recipe and think about what alterations might make for better taste or texture, greater ease of preparation.  I cleaned out my refrigerator.  No celery?  No matter.  I have plenty of carrots.  And I happen to have this half of a tomato that we didn’t finish the night before, that’ll look a lot like pimento, if the taste isn’t exactly the same.  There’s a lot to be said for soups, stews and meals that can become our place to toss everything.

There is also a lot to be said for cleaning out.  Our family’s refrigerator – probably like most Americans’ – gets overfull, crowded, messy.  We empty it way too seldom.  Sometimes things will get pushed to the back and take up residence for way too long.  But this seems to be the trend in our society, not just in our fridge, but in our life.  We seem to be all too good at accumulating, poor at using well.  We manage to pile up both the stuff and the debt that comes from buying it, and neither thing does us much good.

Still, we have such a hard time letting go of our things – either the things themselves, or at least the notion of having them.  We suffer from the mirror image problems of wanting too much and not wanting to let go.  If we are great at acquiring, we are poor at divesting.  Have you noticed that one of the top features when buying or selling a house is now storage space?  When Todd and I were first married, we lived in the housed inherited from his grandmother.  It was built in 1930.  It had maybe ten square feet of closet space.  Today we have a full basement of things we have good room or good use for.   It seems only in recent decades that we have taken our collecting to whole new levels.

But space is highly sought after and prized, and organization is now an industry all for the things that we own but do not use.  Do we ever ask ourselves why we own things we do not use?  

The amount of stuff in our homes is amazing, and yet this issue raises even larger questions.  Whenever I throw away a biology experiment from the fridge or nearly fall over while navigating through my piles of accumulated things, I am reminded of how much I have.  In fact, it comes to mind how outrageously much more I have than the majority of people around the world.  My husband and I are hardly the people described when politicians refer to “the wealthiest Americans.”  We’re not even the richest on our block.  But when I make coffee in the morning, and realize I haven’t poured enough water in the carafe so I add some, and then there’s a little too much so I pour some out – I remember the many, many individuals around the world for whom clean water is more precious than diamonds, and harder to come by.  While bemoaning a food spill on the new(ish) carpet or a pencil mark on the paint, my mind turns to the people who consider themselves to be blessed by the heavens above for having a roof of any kind over their heads, let alone walls or floor.

When I think of our need to accumulate and consume, I wonder what kind of weird mania convinces us that we need SOOO outrageously much more than we actually do.  And how do we fail to see it as outrageous?  How did we create this self-generating and constantly increasing need for more and more and more?  And how, at the same time, can we be so blind to it?  At this point, the better question may be how do we break this addiction?  How do we get off this train that is almost certainly headed toward a Hollywood-style broken bridge?

I would like to suggest church, though that is often the place where we show off our newest stuff.  But wouldn’t it be marvelous if a church could actually be a hub where people meet who are truly bent on living differently?  Imagine a community in which we can truly be the people we are called to be?  What a vision of church!

So here is the question: Since I have emptied my overfull fridge, now what?  Will I just fill it up again with more edibles than I need?  Will I continue to think myself poor while living in a house of more than plenty?  Or will I decide to follow my calling?  Will I decide to live differently; at the very least, a little less acquisitively?  And what will I contribute to help even things out a little in our world, so that at least one less family may go hungry while I throw away uneaten vegetables?  What will I do now?  What will you do?

Blessed eating!

Quick Chicken A La King

2 T. margarine                                  1 Can cr. Chicken soup
½ c. thin sliced celery                      1 T. flour
¼ c. sliced bell pepper                     salt & pepper to taste
2 c. chopped chicken cooked       2/3c. skim milk
2 T. chopped pimiento                   1/3 c. chopped onion

Melt margarine in heavy 10” skillet.  Add veggies.  Cook until tender.  Add soup, flour, salt and pepper.  Stir.  Add chicken, milk and pimiento.  Cook and stir on low until steaming.  Serve over toast or biscuits.  Serves 4.

Note:  I substituted carrots for the celery, tomato for the pimento, and additional onion for the bell pepper.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pancakes and Pastoral Care

I have a deep respect for any understanding of spiritual care that translates into pancakes.  This week is Spiritual Care Week at Northside Hospital Forsyth.  My friend, chaplain Bryan Lake decided that this meant caring for the hospital staff with breakfast.  So we volunteer chaplains set our alarm clocks for “dark” and arrived early at the hospital armed with griddles and aprons.
In spite of our half-open eyelids, we made some pretty good flapjacks if I do say so myself.  The staff loved it.  They sat together at long tables, munching on chocolate chip pancakes and catching up.  I couldn’t help but wonder how often they got to do this in the course of their work.  I especially hoped that they were aware of our presence for them when and if they needed us.
I’m not sure there really is such a divide between spiritual food and “real” food.  Any offering we can make to another – love in any form – has the capacity to carry with it the grace poured out by a loving God.  This is what we Christians are all about as we extend hospitality to our world.  We are called to offer the mystery of grace to others so that they may experience it in new and deeper ways.  If pancakes can make that happen, I’m all for it. 
Blessed eating!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Food, Food and More Food


I’ve never eaten so much in my life!  Or had a better time.  Yes, I have just a few more Disney related reflections before I’m back to my own kitchen.

While we were at Disney World, the Food and Wine Festival was happening.  What a blast!  All around the Epcot World Showcase, nearly 30 booths were set up to serve samples of appetizers and entrées, stews, sliders and skewers, desserts and of course wines from all different nations.  One could wander through the park, munching on delectables provided every 30 feet or so.  What could be better?

It was a marvelous experience savoring the tastes from around the world.  We did our best to try them all.  I never got around to the Golabki (pork stuffed cabbage – pronounced go-womp-kee) from Poland, but we managed to take in most of it.  My favorite was from the Ireland booth, the Warm Chocolate Lava Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Ganache.  Just writing the name makes me light-headed. I tried the Lamb Slider with Tomato Chutney from New Zealand.  The chutney was great but I was reminded that I’m not so fond of lamb.  The Hatsumago Sake from Japan was an interesting and welcome find.


There were some things that I tried that were valuable for the trying.  Now that I have checked them off my list, however, I might not try them again for some time.  These include the escargot I sampled at Les Chefs de France, and the mead (honey wine) I tried at the Ireland booth.  Both terrific experiments and great things to have on the “Done that and glad I did” list.  But while they were well worth the taste, they may not be a lasting favorite.

I also did something that I hadn’t planned to do since starting this blog.  I bought a cookbook!  Yes, I have one more collection of recipes to put on the crowded shelf!  I really didn’t plan to, but how could I not?  Now I can make Warm Chocolate Lava Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Ganache!  In fact, I can make Moroccan Walnut and Honey Baklava!  I can make Shrimp Stew with Coconut Milk from Brazil!  I can even make Golabki.

I can’t write about the Food and Wine Festival without mentioning “3D.”  Disney’s Dessert Discovery.  How can I begin to describe this event?  Imagine a ballroom completely filled with desserts of every kind.  Mousses, cheesecakes, puddings, pastries, cobblers, tortes, chocolates, plus fruits, cheeses, cognacs and cordials.  Now imagine that you can have all that you want.  Throw in some fancy decorations and live jazz and what else do you need?  It was overwhelmingly fantastic!  Overpoweringly superb!  I don’t have enough goofy word combinations for it.  It was like a happy Alice in Wonderland with no Jabberwocky, only flambéed doughnuts floating in ice cream.  After stuffing ourselves impossibly full, we had VIP seating for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, the fireworks show over the lake.  (BTW, at the beginning of the event, we were given 3-D glasses that made Mickeys appear everywhere, even around the moon.  How do they DO that?)

Another great event we attended during our week at The World was Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  This was a special event in the Magic Kingdom.  We all wore costumes (the opportunities for grown ups to masquerade are far too few, in my opinion).  Vivian was Snow White.  The rest of us, rather tall dwarfs.  The Boo To You! parade was probably the best one anywhere in the park.  Ditto the fireworks, Happy HalloWishes.  The trick-or-treating was tops!  Stations were set up all over the park and they didn’t scrimp on the candy.  Not only did they have good stuff, but they dropped it into our bags by the fistful (theirs, not ours).  I can’t remember being so full for an entire week.  Our trip truly provided us with an abundance of edibles and enchantment and we enjoyed every morsel of it. 
  
From Left: Doc (Sally), Prince Charming (?), Snow White
(Vivian), the other Snow White, Bashful (me),
Adorable (okay, we made that one up; it's Roland),
Tiny (that one too; Todd), Grumpy (my mother taking
her role very seriously)

Abundance is a funny thing.  I began to think about this while we were at WDW.  With so many possibilities before us, it almost felt as if we were obligated to try them all.  (Okay, this time it was a conscious decision.  But still . . .)  The temptation was to wolf down an item as quickly as possible to get to the next, then the next, then the next.  Eventually, we can find ourselves so determined to use every option, fit in every opportunity, that we barely know what we are taking in.

We do this with more than just our food.  I have seen vacationers with schedules so packed that they rush through historic sites, cameras clicking insanely, trying to consume it like a fast food burger before dashing on to the next attraction.  Imagine how much nicer it would be to breathe in a place, reflect on its significance, live in its time for a while.  At home, we schedule our kids and ourselves for every activity and sport until they and we have little time to think about or take pleasure in what we are actually doing.  Our lives become fanatically rushed and we experience less joy rather than more.  How much nicer would it be just to have a quiet afternoon every now and then?

Wouldn’t it be better to take in a little less, and learn to savor each thing?  A technique of doing this is actually advised for people who are trying to lose weight.  The idea is that we can gain more satisfaction from relishing what we have rather than stuffing ourselves with everything that might be possible.  I think this principle can apply equally to both food and life.

At the 3D event, I caught myself for the first time consciously tasting something; actually giving some new thing a moment of examination, thought and enjoyment before swallowing and moving on to the next.  It is an interesting habit that seems to have started right along with this blog.  Maybe I’m becoming a foodie after all. 

May you truly enjoy abundance this season!

Blessed eating!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Mickey Mouse and Julia Child Have in Common

It’s been a while since I updated this blog. I would have posted sooner, but I didn’t have much access to the internet in the last week.  The connection jack in my room at the resort was broken.  I have to admit, this is one of the very few negatives in my family’s vacation at Disney World.

Our week at “The World” was fabulous.  We stayed at the Coronado Springs resort, visited all the parks, and we reflected on Disney’s commitment to creating the best possible experience for their guests. 

I really can’t say enough about the service and friendliness at Walt Disney World.  The staff at every restaurant would bend over backward to make sure we received everything that our dining plan entitled us to – that is if we should foolishly think of skipping out without dessert.  On one occasion, as I waited at a counter for the server to retrieve part of my meal, a man bussing tables spotted me standing all alone.  He stopped his cart and asked aghast, “Is nobody helping you?!”  I assured him I had been helped and my dinner was on the way.  The entire staff – sorry, cast – were not only friendly and helpful, but gracious in assisting us as we navigated the parks.

This grace rubs off on the guests.  I was astounded to watch the interaction between other Disney vacationers each night as we rode packed buses from park back to resort.  We tired, sweaty, smelly guests who had every reason to be irritable at this time of the exhausting day were instead happy and friendly, offering each other our seats and making pleasant conversation.  All family, if only for a few moments.

Now you might be thinking cynically that Disney is also a company that has perfected the fine art of bringing in big dollars.  You would be right.  Without question, they know well how to turn a profit.  But they also know how to earn it and are willing to do so in a manner unheard of in today’s business climate where the golden rule is to give as little as possible while charging all you can.  Disney makes a priority of going above and beyond expectations to give their guests, including us, a brilliant experience.  Sorry if I’m sounding like an advertisement, but I really can’t remember when I’ve been more impressed.

So what does any of this have to do with Julia Child?  Recently I was reading Child’s autobiography, My Life in France.  As she and her partners were working on Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child herself was concerned about the viability of such a meticulous work when “American supermarkets were . . . full of products labeled “gourmet” that were not; instant cake mixes, TV dinners, frozen vegetables, canned mushrooms.”  In her homeland, more and more foods and mixes and equipment were being packaged to make food preparation easier, though not necessarily better.  Convenience was becoming the slogan for American housewives and cooks. 

Child’s recipes, however, were complex and detailed – intended for those who were willing to pour their energies into something wonderful.  Though she acknowledged that her “recipes did not appeal to the TV-dinner-and-cake-mix set,” Child’s work was about giving the necessary effort to make something spectacular.  Her book is an implicit argument for putting the extra time and application into creating the finest.

Many of the recipes I have made and will make for this blog have speed and easiness at their heart.  That isn’t a bad thing.  But some things are just worth the extra effort.  In fact, many things in our lives are worth the time and trouble to do well, rather than just adequately.  I hope we will recognize and embrace this fact, and choose those things to which we will give our best.

Something else that Julia Child and Walt Disney had in common was that they seemed to know and value living well.  They were dreamers who embraced the variety and wonder of their entire world.  Between them, they created exceptional food and enchanting experiences that they share with the rest of us even today.  If I take away no other lesson, I hope to learn this.

Truth be told, I didn’t ignore the blog last week solely because I lacked internet access.  In typical Disney fashion, the jack was fixed within a few hours of my reporting it.  I just didn’t use it.  I guess I could have posted.  But I decided it would be far more productive to go and have a bunch of great experiences than to sit in the room trying to write about them.  I decided that living would be something I choose to do well.  I hope you will too.

Since I don’t have a recipe for this entry, I thought you might enjoy the following video.  It came from Spaceship Earth in Epcot.  The video is generated by answers to questions given on a touch screen.  Most of our answers were selected by my son.  He can’t read yet, but I think he did pretty well.

video

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Family and the Farm

Last weekend, Todd, the kids and I visited Kinsey Family Farm.  We were looking for one of those nice, fall family activities.  This was new to us, so we decided to try it.  The day was gorgeous beyond all reason, and we had an amazing time. 

Just north of Cumming, Kinsey Family Farm is not a long drive for us.  Once a Christmas tree farm, they have added attractions and activities and it is now a great family day out.  To get there, you go north on Hwy 400 and turn off just as you get a spectacular view of the mountains (onto Jot-Em Down Road).  You can learn more at www.kinseyfamilyfarm.com. 

Our kids had a great time.  Vivian really took to feeding the goats.  Roland braved it with his daddy’s help.  Because my kids have special needs, anything they enjoy or do with independence is a great thing.  They loved the hay ride, fish feeding and the fresh apples with caramel (with which they fed themselves, not the fish).  Most of all, I think they loved running in the grass and being outdoors with just a little less asphalt around. 

Because I am interested in food, I am interested in farms.  In fact, they are growing in popularity nowadays and not just because of the changing seasons.  There seems to be a growing general awareness of the food they produce.  The locavore and slow food movements are taking off.  Organics are becoming much more popular.  It seems to be a trend that we are following and, for once, a healthy one.

Personally, I would love to be a locavore.  A locavore is someone who eats only what is grown and produced locally, or within a certain radius.  (The presence of the term in Dictionary.com affirms its place in our culture.)  I love the notion of living by such an ideal.  Frankly, though, I don’t see how I possibly can.  I wouldn’t begin to have the time to do the research involved.  My shaded yard provides neither acreage nor sunlight enough to grow a great deal of food.  If someone were to hand me a “how-to” manual for Cumming, Georgia, I swear I would try it.  But for now, much as I would love to, I don’t see the reality in making such a total shift. 

Instead of lugging around several pounds of guilt about this, however, I do what I can.  Each summer now, I plant tomatoes, herbs and various other experiments (on my deck where the sun is).  Every year, I try to add something new – sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  What I grow won’t feed an army, but will give my family a few healthy meals.  I have increased my shopping at farmers markets, and I try to support our local growers.  Gradually, I am learning the changes to make and how to slowly move that boulder of lifestyle.  And I share these ideas with other folks whenever I can.
               
I think, and hope, this move toward more natural, local, fresh, healthy food isn’t just a popular – and therefore, fleeting – trend.  Certainly, it could be.  With so many choices and no lack for resources, we have every opportunity to be followers of fashion.  But I would love to think, instead, that we have looked carefully at our options and made a decision for something better.  When much of our food is processed and its ingredients mysterious, there is an indisputable appeal in the simple, straightforward and nourishing.

I think most of us are drawn to farms and the fresh food they provide because we long to touch on something that is real.  Much as we love our modern conveniences, we also look back to a time when living was less virtual, less technological.  So we jump at the chance to encounter creation as it is made directly by the Creator.  I don’t know that God has a preference for rural over urban, but I do know that my encounters with the divine happen most often when I am surrounded by the miracles of seed and soil becoming plant and shade and sustenance.  When I visit a farm or any place where things grow, it has a sense of coming home.  In fact, it is.

While I don’t have a good story to go with it, here is the recipe for this post.  It’s a good one.  I put it together quickly in order to squeeze in 30 minutes of pre-bedtime play with the kids.  It worked.

Blessed eating!

Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies
2 c. sugar                                             1 stick margarine
4 T. cocoa                                            3 c. old fashioned oats
½ c. peanut butter                           1 T. vanilla
½ c. milk
Combine sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter.  Put over high heat and let come to a boil, stirring constantly.l  Boil 1-2 minutes; remove from heat and add oatmeal, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Mix and drop on waxed paper. Allow to cool.  Makes 24 large cookies.  -  Laura Taylor

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hot Dog Bun Pie

I would never have joked about Hot Dog Bun Pie if I had known how heavenly it is!  And when I say heavenly, imagine my eyes rolling skyward.  It is an incredibly yummy and crazy easy dessert. 

After joking about its unusual name (in fact, its unusual being) in my last post, I decided to make it for a gathering of friends last Friday night.  That afternoon, I gathered all the ingredients and was set to assemble and bake it about 45 minutes before I needed to leave.  Having done all that and with plenty of time on my hands, I sat down to play with my son.

You know how sometimes you can tell when your children need your attention?  Not in an emergency kind of way, but they just need you to interact with them and share in what they are doing.  This was Roland on Friday.  He came to the living room where I was sitting and brought a book that folds out to make a train.  Roland loves trains.  “Train?” he said.  Roland has autism, so he doesn’t always say much or understand what I tell him.  But when I managed to correctly read the signs and say, “Roland, why don’t you bring your train over here and we’ll play,” he got it quick.  So we played with the train.  Then we played with toy cars.  Roland also loves cars.  We drove them up and down pretend mountains, through tunnels, over hills and many other prepositions and places.

How I long to always be this kind of mom.  The kind who says, “Come here. Let’s play!”  Far too often the words that my children hear are “I’m sorry, Mommy has to work.”  “Mommy’s busy.”  “Mommy’s tired.”  No parents ever want to be defined by these words.  None of us, whether parents or not, mean to put off the people and things that are most important.  So why do we?  (I don’t think I have to ask if.)  Given our human tendency to postpone the things that matter, I probably don’t have to explain how I cherished my time with Roland and his toy cars.  Right up until I heard Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News and realized that it was an hour past the time I thought it was.

I was late.  Very.  Fortunately Hot Dog Bun Pie is quick to make.  It requires hot dog buns, open and face down in a dish.  Pour over it melted butter and a mixture of milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla, then bake for 20 minutes.  If I had chosen a different recipe, I probably would have been stopping for pound cake on the way to the gathering.  My host was extremely gracious at my overdue arrival.  The other guests were brave enough to try the pie and they loved it. 

On Saturday morning, I made the Southwestern Chicken.  This delicious recipe is also very simple.  It requires little more than opening a few cans and putting things in the crock pot to cook for several hours.  After setting it up, I went with my family on an outing which I will blog about later.  Maybe I’m not such a bad mom after all.

Both recipes are quick and easy; two very popular things in our world today.  Time – not in general but what we have of it – is a fleeting thing.  Though limited, it is not scarce.  It is simply like the finest of sand running through our fingers.  We can grasp as tightly as we want to, but it will escape us eventually.  It will keep moving on whether we like it or not.  We can only hope to be mindful as it runs its course through our lives, and not brush off or casually toss away our time and its possibilities.

On Friday night, when I told friends that I was late because I was playing with my son, they all agreed that it was a very good cause.  They were both kind and right to say so.  But I have to ask myself, if I had had my head screwed on right and had known what time it really was, would I have done the same thing?  Would I have used my time the same way?  I sigh as I think probably not.  But in hindsight, I can easily recognize the gift in the error.  The miracle of time spent wisely and well.  May we all be guilty of such mistakes.

Blessed eating!


Hot Dog Bun Pie
(“If you like egg custard, you will like this!”)
4 hot dog buns                                  2 c. milk
½ c. butter                                          4 eggs
1 c. sugar                                             1 t. vanilla
Open buns and lay face down in a baking dish.  Melt butter and pour slowly over the buns.  Combine sugar, milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Pour over the buns.  Bake at 350o  for 20 minutes or until done.  Serve warm or cold.  -  Learvene T. Bass

Note from Nancy:  I tossed some raspberries on top for added color and flavor. 

Southwestern Chicken
2   15¼-oz cans corn, drained
15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
16-oz jar chunky salsa, divided
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 c low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
Combine corn, black beans and ½ cup salsa in slow cooker.  Top with chicken (I brown mine first). Pour remaining salsa over chicken.  Cover.   Cook on high 3-4 hours or low 7-8 hours. Sprinkle with cheese.  Cover 5 minutes for cheese to melt.  My kind of recipe – only 5 ingredients & very little prep.  -  Marilyn Johnson