Friday, December 24, 2010

The Secret is Out

In celebration of Christmas, my gift is the devotional below and the recipe that comes with it.  A few years ago, I wrote this for an Advent devotional book for the church I was serving.  Each writer was invited to submit a recipe along with their devotional material.  This one means a lot to me.  I hope you enjoy it.

I wish you a bountiful feast this Christmas and always!

Years before I was born, my grandmother clipped the recipe for Kris Kringles from a newspaper.  I have never known life without them. 

It is hard to explain Kris Kringles without using the overblown language of TV commercials, but they really are indescribably delicious.  Our family made them every Christmas season and they never lasted long.  They were that good.  I especially loved taking them to parties, because no one else would ever have anything nearly as wonderful.  I loved having the best and it seemed that mine was the only family who knew how to make this amazing dessert.  It is no small thing for me to offer it to the world on this page.

Not long ago, however, I looked on the back of a cereal box and was horrified to see our recipe!  It was under a different title but almost exactly the same as the recipe my grandmother clipped years ago.  Our secret was out.  The recipe that seemed to be ours alone for so long was now widely available to anyone who cared to look!

How tempting it is for us to hoard what is good.  We humans have such difficulty with the idea of sharing, you would think that there was a shortage of good things in the world!  We seem to live with a firm belief in scarcity and a gnawing mistrust of God’s abundance.  Anything good we have must be carefully guarded lest someone else have it too.

What a strange way to behave in the season when we celebrate a baby born with nothing.

During the holidays, we throw lavish parties to honor a child who began earthly life in soil and straw.  We spend what we have (or more) buying gifts to commemorate the gift which cannot be purchased at any price.  How we struggle in all times to trust in God’s abundance, to risk having less so that we may have more.  This Christmas, let’s try again to believe the words of that baby grown up who said “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

I hope you enjoy the recipe.  It has created many happy memories for me and my family.  In sharing it, I hope that it may produce many more.  That’s how things seem to work in the strange arithmetic of God.  Giving away equals multiplication.  Loss equals gain.

May you be blessed by love and Kris Kringles this holiday season.

Kris Kringles Candy
1 cup sugar                         6 cups rice cereal
1 cup light corn syrup     1 6 oz. pkg. chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter        1 6 oz pkg. butterscotch chips

In large dutch oven or boiler, cook sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat till boiling.  Remove from heat; stir in peanut butter, mix in cereal.  Press lightly into buttered 13” x 9” pan.  Let harden.  Melt (over hot water or in microwave) chocolate and butterscotch chips, stir to blend.  Spread over cereal mixture.  Chill about 5 minutes until top is firm.  Cut into bars.  Yields approximately 4 dozen.

Note:  I like mint chocolate chips when I can find ‘em. – Marilyn Johnson

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I knew this video would go hugely viral when my father-in-law first e-mailed it to us.  I even saw that the morning news beat me to the punch, sharing it today.  (I knew I should have posted yesterday!) This Youtube video has become extremely popular to watch and to share because it expresses a beautiful moment of transcendence; the kind that we all want, especially during our harried holiday season.  Shopping malls and food courts embody the urgency we are all feeling in a time that we wish would inspire awe and stillness.  The song expressed the way that God breaks through all of that and enters our lives in unexpected ways.  It gave me chills.

We all crave such experiences.  More than just stress relievers, we long for the holy to break into our lives, to remind us that we are a part of something much greater than ourselves.  In such encounters, we are called away from our day-to-day concerns and the things that divide us, and we are drawn together into one body.  We are reminded that we are part of each other.  Whether we realize it or not, we all hunger for the transcendent.

These opportunities abound if we have eyes to see them.  This is what we do when we gather in church for worship, around a piano in song, or around a table for meals.  Interestingly, transcendence often requires that we be together to experience it.  Such events must be enjoyed with others.  Because I am a mother of autistic children, I am aware that one of the earliest interactions a child may have is to look into the eyes of a parent in order to share an experience.   It is an early developmental version of “Do You See What I See?” that sadly many autistic children lack.  This simply means that we work harder at that connection and are often made stronger by the effort.  We don’t do it alone.  After all, angels were dispatched to invite Jesus’ guest list of shepherds and magi.  I believe they will take the trouble for us as well.

We have now finished our Advent dinners that I have been planning for so long.  Obviously, we still eat.  And my recipe project is ongoing.  But this one small experiment is at an end. I am deeply grateful for our family’s time together each Sunday night.  Anyone watching would find them rather mundane; not particularly exultant, with no visible angels or singing.  They would likely not make a viral video.  Nevertheless, they were holy moments, embodying the promise of God’s presence in the breaking of bread.

Each moment we spend together has the right ingredients for holiness.  Our family is made up of four people, each with our own cares, concerns and distractions, drawn together for nourishment and celebration.  Whether or not we take time to notice, our shared meals and time together make us a part of the very thing we celebrate:  the presence of the divine here on earth.  Jesus’ humble birth teaches us that the sacred can visit in both jubilant and quiet moments.  With or without the chorus, the Messiah has indeed come in our hearts.  Hallelujah! 

Chicken and Rice (or Pork Chops and Rice)
Melt one stick of butter in a 9x12 baking dish.  Mix 1 c. uncooked rice, 1 c. water and 1 can cream of celery soup.  Put in baking dish.  Prepare meat by seasoning and place on top of rice.  Cook covered for one hour at 350o.  – Jane Henderson

Fruit Salad
Apples, peeled and chopped                      oranges, peeled, cut in chunks
Bananas, sliced                                                 coconut, shredded
Grapes, cut in half                                           whatever other fruit you have
Sprinkle instant vanilla pudding mix on top of the fruit.  Pour a very little orange juice over the mixture or squeeze some of the oranges over it.  Stir.  Chill for several hours or overnight.  Eat.  Delicious. – Wavie Lee Mims and Eunice Henderson

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Longest Night

A tradition has been emerging in many churches. The Longest Night Service is a worship service held on or around December 21 – the longest night of the year – to mark the grieving that might be happening during the holiday season.  When all is meant to be merry and bright, it is important to remember that for many there is sadness in this season.  People who are grieving for any reason will often find their sorrow exacerbated by the loud jolliness around them.  The point of The Longest Night Service is to gather for worship in acknowledgment of this reality, and to bring our suffering into God’s presence.  The service sometimes goes by other names.  Other churches may call it “Blue Christmas” or the simple and inclusive “Memorial Service.”  But I have always liked the idea of the Longest Night Service.  It speaks to the season, and a darkness that will not – despite all indications – go on forever.

I am thinking about this today, because yesterday I attended the funeral of a dear friend.  Eddie Taylor wasn’t actually a close friend.  We were in some of the same organizations and worked together on committees.  But I call him “dear” because he was a dear man.  The numbers in attendance at his service, and those who spoke attested to his kindness, his exuberant personality and his deep concern for the good of the community and the people in his life.  The sadness we felt at his passing was heightened by the knowledge that Eddie, suffering from deep depression, took his own life.  I can only imagine the pain his family is feeling, and my heart and prayers go out to them.

Depression and other mental disorders are the most sinister of enemies.  Unlike any other wound, they are invisible – sometimes even to the sufferer.  Most of us can see and identify physical problems.  If stomach or shoulder were to hurt, we would understand the trouble and take action to fix it.  How much more difficult is it when the problem that needs fixing effects the very part of us that perceives the world?  When the diseased part is the one that that helps us to understand ourselves and guides us in the way we think and act?  How do we cope when such maladies happen in the mind of a loved one, or a dear friend?

As the procession drove to the church, we passed through parking lot of the Board of Education Building. Eddie had served for several years on the Board of Education, and our brief detour was a way to remember and honor his service.  As we emerged from the parking lot, we passed a small Methodist church.  In the front of it was a modest nativity scene, two-dimensional and made of painted wood.  It felt as if we were given a tiny reminder of the hope that lies within this season; that our savior arrived in the middle of a long dark night, a turbulent time in history which was also filled with suffering and confusion.

This spark of hope returned again as my family prepared for our fourth and final Advent dinner.  I have been amazed at how quickly the time has gone, how our four dinners have flown past.  This last dinner went beautifully.  Our meal was Crock Pot Roast, Broccoli Cornbread and Reindeer Cookies.  The roast was as easy as you can probably imagine.  I put everything in the crock pot before church in the morning (plus the potatoes which were purchased, chopped and added between the day’s events).  By evening, it was done.  The broccoli cornbread was very easy to put together and cooked very quickly – valuable on an afternoon with only a short time to prepare the meal.

The Reindeer Cookies were the miracle.  In my ongoing efforts to engage my kids in cooking, I decided on this project thinking they might enjoy creating reindeer faces.  My earlier attempts at their involvement had not been very successful, so I was a bit nervous about this one.  I was afraid they would not understand, or they would be mad because they couldn’t just eat the M&Ms or they would hate the project entirely.  My fears were completely unfounded.  The kids totally got into it.  They understood that they were making reindeer, and enthusiastically put them together.  Unaided, Vivian added the pretzels that were antlers.  When asked if she wanted blue or green M&M’s for eyes (I had diligently separated them), she would name her color, alternating from one animal to the next.  When offered a red or brown M&M nose, she would proudly cry “Rudolph!” and take the red.  She got it!

Dinner was great too.  The kids read their parts of the Advent litany.  We lit four candles and anticipated lighting the white Christ candle on Christmas day when the whole family would be gathered at our house.  Everyone enjoyed the meal.  Vivian even ate the broccoli cornbread without coercion.  Watching green and healthy food go unforced into my kids made angels sing the Hallelujah chorus in my heart.

Jesus came as a tiny baby, almost invisible in the wide world with its hurts and woes.  Still, this one tiny flicker of hope came to mean a new light that was dawning even in that somber night.  In the darkening days of this season, the signs of life are all around us, promising that death is not the end, that the darkness doesn’t last forever. 

This is the heart of our Christmas celebration, the spark of light in the darkness.  We cling to our belief in those tiny sparks; the small victories, reindeer cookies, a helpless infant in a manger.  Within them is the hope that changes everything.

Crock Pot Roast
4 lb. pot roast                    large onion cut up
1 c. beef broth                  1 lb. carrots cut in 2 inch pieces
4-5 potatoes cut up         salt and pepper.
Brown pot roast in a pan on top of the stove.  Add vegetables to bottom of crock ppot.  Top with roast and pour beef broth over it.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for 8 hours on low in crock pot. – Lisa Wade

Broccoli Cornbread
4 eggs                                                ½ c. milk
1 stick melted butter                      2 c. grated cheese
1 box ch. Broccoli, cooked            1 small onion, ch.
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
Mix all ingredients.  Pour into a 9x13 in. greased pan.  Bake at 350o. – Wavie Lee Mims

Reindeer Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookie recipe                       small pretzel twists
M&M’s                                                               red gumdrops
Divide cookies out as directed but shape into a soft triangle shape.  Place pretzel twist at top on two corners for antlers.  Place a gumdrop on other corner for nose, and two M&M’s on cookie for eyes.  Bake as directed.  (You can also use red peanut M&M’s for the nose.) – Laura Taylor

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Meals and Music

We have made it through our third family Advent dinner.  I am both thrilled at our family’s tenacity and amazed at how quickly the time is passing.  We are moving quickly toward the fourth Sunday in Advent and then on to the big celebration itself.

Our 3rd Advent meal last Sunday went very smoothly.  We had a beef tenderloin dish from Cook’s Essentials – a little fancier than we usually go, but fun – and the Mandarin Orange Salad.  We were going to make Reindeer Cookies, but postponed them for lack of time.  We’ll make them soon and write about it, I promise.  In addition to our usual reading that we do with the lighting of the Advent candle, we added a couple of sentences for the kids to practice their burgeoning reading skills.  “Joy to the World” and “Jesus is born” (Advent perfectionists will say this is technically not yet true, but it worked for us).  It was great to have everybody involved.

We had our meal early on Sunday.  Given my commitment for this season, I have been forgoing optional Sunday evening events at church.  Instead, I have been dedicating the day to family and feasting.  But last Sunday was different.

We had a concert at our church.  The North Forsyth United Methodist Church is a new congregation in our area.  Less than a year old, it is difficult to call any of its events “annual,” but this concert is one that we hope will be.  Many thanks to music director, Kieth Ashley for organizing this beautiful and moving event.  In addition to Kieth’s music, the concert included violinist, Michael Giel, and vocalist, Stacy Davis.  We also heard guest singer, Angela Hopkins.  It was a blessing to experience so much talent in one evening.

Usually, I write about food - cooking and eating.  But what I like to think is even more accurate, I write about things that are more than they seem.  Food is a good example.  Eating can be just eating; the act of putting things into our mouths to keep our bodies going.  But eating is really much more than that.  It is an act of drawing the sustenance we receive only at the hand of the God who nourishes us.  It is the experience of the abundance and variety of the world around us.  It is an activity that draws us together with fellow humanity.  In fact, eating points out to us what it means to be human and reminds us that we have needs which we cannot meet alone.  Eating is so much more than eating.

I think the same is true of singing.  My background is in music, though nowadays I practice only as an ardent amateur.  I am very aware of the power that music has to transform us.  It is so much more than just something pretty to hear.  But I think that most of us imagine that transformational power to come only in hearing what we consider to be great and lovely.  While I don’t want to take away from the power of excellent performances, I believe music has the greatest power to affect us when we make it.

You might not think of yourself as “musical” or “talented” but every one of us can lift voices in songs of praise.  Chances are you do this every Sunday – more often than that, if you’re lucky.  Unlike eating, in which we are built and transformed by what goes in, through music we are shaped by what we produce.  What we create, creates us.  What we give to God is used by God in our own formation.  Our perceived ability has nothing to do with it.  All that is required of us is a willing heart and a readiness to offer praise.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, held a similar opinion.  Below are his words of advice to all of us regarding singing.

1. Learn these tunes [hymns] before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

2. Sing them exactly as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.

3. Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a single degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.

4. Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.

5. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

6. Sing in time. Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can; and take care not to sing to slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

7. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

May you make beautiful music this holiday season.  Blessed eating!

Mandarin Orange Salad
2 cans mandarin oranges     
1 med can crushed pineapple
1 small jar cherries              1 ½ c. mini-marshmallows
1 small can coconut             ¾ c. ch. Pecans
¾ c. sour cream
Drain juice from oranges, pineapple, and cherries.  Combine all above ingredients.  Serve chilled.  Enjoy. – Tammi Bass

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I have learned to be content with whatever I have.  I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.     Philippians 4:11-12

How did this happen? 

I was cooking dinner on Wednesday night.  The corn salad came together very easily – the only real work involved was chopping – and I was glad to offer the family something with a vegetable variety.  The tuna casserole was simple to put together, and despite the lack of specific baking instructions, turned out beautifully.  The date nut pumpkin loaf was delicious.  I even had time to make the cranberry relish I had been trying to get around to before the organically grown cranberries turned the corner.

I had planned to have dinner on the table at 6:00.  We sat down to eat at 6:10.  What’s more, the kids ate it – willingly!

Is this right?  Have I stepped into the wrong house?  Isn’t someone supposed to be crying?  Isn’t something supposed to burn?  It’s as if God is taunting me, saying “See, this really can happen, O ye of little faith.”

The evening meal went beautifully.  That being the case, I hardly know what to write about.  Like a starving person suddenly given a feast, I hardly know what to make of my good fortune.  Okay, I actually do know what to make of it.  I enjoyed it.  I relished the calm time with my family.  I was very grateful that my daughter tried each dish so readily.  After dinner, we turned off all the lights and played together in front of the lit up Christmas tree – the simple kind of time that you could miss if you blinked, but is worth more than gold.

I don’t expect every night to be like this one, as flawless and smooth.  But I hope I will remember the blessings that come from both the easy and the difficult.  The simple lesson I’ve learned is to never give up.  Our continuing efforts, our stubborn refusal to admit defeat, can make more of a difference than we are likely to be aware of. 

I am unapologetically giddy about Christmas.  As the weather turns cold, I happily dream about the tiny infant held in his mother’s arms, in a quiet stable on a star-filled night.  Shepherds are running to see the Good News for themselves, and wise men are travelling from the east.  But more than that, I believe the promise that was given on that night; the promise whose fulfilling would sometimes not be so pretty.  This promise was true even for Paul as he wrote the words above, far from the sweetness of that first Christmas night, in a prison cell where he suffered for the sake of the baby who was born in starry darkness.

The trail may be lovely or treacherous for us, or more likely plenty of both, but the promise of Christ is ours as well: no matter how difficult the journey, the last word is love.

May you be blessed this holy season.

Corn Salad
2 cans wh kernel corn                                    1 c. ch celery
1 bunch green onions, diced                       1 large bell pepper, chopped
2 T. salad dressing or mayo                          salt and pepper to taste
Mix. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavors blend – Jean Crenshaw

Note:  I added asparagus because we had it.  It worked.

Diane’s Tuna Casserole
3 c. cooked elbow macaroni                        16 oz. Dean’s onion dip*
1 can tuna, drained                                         1 envelope chicken Shake N’ Bake
Mix macaroni, tuna and dip in a 9x13 casserole dish.  Sprinkle top with Shake N’ Bake.  Bake until bubbly and hot through.  Serve warm.
*Do not use any other dip.  They aren’t the same. – Diane Taylor

Note: I did break the rules and use a different type of onion dip.  It was fine.  The Dean onion dip, therefore, must be stupendous.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Really!  Enough is enough! 

This is what I was thinking as I was chopping, mixing, sautéing and otherwise putting together our second Advent meal.  My last two meal-related posts have been of the “Dust yourself off” variety, describing what it feels like to overcome – or at least deal with – challenging circumstances (kitchen-related ones, that is).  But by Sunday night, I was ready for a break!

Come on!  How much is one person supposed to take?  I am trying to celebrate the birth of Christ, after all!    Can’t I have just one peaceful Advent evening like I’ve been envisioning?  The kind one might see on a Christmas card?  One that seems to embody the Peace for which we lit a candle?

I imagine you have guessed by now that I spent another rather frustrating Advent Sunday in the kitchen.  On top of a busy weekend, little rest and a throbbing headache, I began making Hamburger Pie, Vegetable Wraps and Butterfinger Fluff.  Vivian was upset, a theme I am having to repeat far too often.  We worry about her medicine.  Is she sick?  Tired from doing too much?  Bored from doing too little?  We don’t know, but are worried about this ongoing problem.  In the middle of this, Todd is telling me about additional costs for HDTV, and I am learning that carrots don’t need to be sautéed. 

I reached a point, however, when I had to ask myself why I am giving in to frustration so very quickly.  How terrible are things, really?  It took me finally sitting down to dinner and taking a deep breath to make me realize that things aren’t so bad after all.  The meal was on time.  With only minor hiccups, the food turned out as it was supposed to.  The kids even ate it – not a lot, but some (tip: having the yummy dessert sitting on the table with the rest of the meal is a helpful incentive for children to eat vegetables).  I was even surprised to notice that by the time the kids sat down at the table, they were calm and cooperative.

We do fall in love with our own visions of how things should go.  I hope I am not the only one who is prone to building a Norman Rockwell-style image of home and family, only to be let down by reality.  But when I think about it, disappointment is insane.  Reality is great for most of us.  In all probability, our disappointment is only the result of getting too much of what we want for too much of the time.  Our expectations can become pretty unrealistic and our hopes (and tempers) break too easily.  An overdose of good things can make us awfully thin skinned.  I found that it took an act of will to train my eyes off of the negative and onto what is good.  Simply remembering to do it was the only difficult thing.  When I decided to look for the best, there was plenty there to see.

The hamburger pie went without a hitch.  It is a great dish including both meat and vegetables.  Probably you could add more veggies if you wanted, or use fresh rather than canned.  I can’t quite call this an easy recipe as it again requires peeling, cooking and mashing potatoes, but it did provide me with a new opportunity.  To be honest, I had never mashed potatoes before in my life.  Now I have.  And so has Roland. 

Still trying to get the kids involved in cooking, I lured Roland to help me do the mashing.  We don’t actually own a potato masher (in fact, I get the giggles just thinking that there is such a utensil), so we used the flat side of a meat tenderizer.  I tried to get Roland interested in the work by emphasizing the violent aspect of it.  “Bang, bang, bang . . .” I said as I pummeled the potatoes.  Roland, who isn’t the violent type, took the utensil and solemnly repeated after me, “bang, bang, bang . . .”  He didn’t mash many.  One round and it was back to Frosty, the Snowman.  But he tried.  For a moment, he was involved.  It was a start.  Maybe it will grow from here.  As we go along, my expectations are gradually bending to reality and I am learning to appreciate even the small victories.

The Butterfinger Fluff was heavenly.   The wraps were yummy and a good source of many different kinds of vegetables.  Since the Christmas season has started, I have been including in each meal one recipe from a book called Cook’s Essentials Recipes Plus: Christmas.  A dear friend gave it to me last year and I have been eager to try it out.  Since I am uncertain about copyright laws, I won’t reprint the recipe for Grilled Vegetable Wraps.  But since I was unable to locate many of the ingredients, such as eggplant and leeks, I made a lot of substitutions and changes anyway.  Here is my recreated version.

Chop up your choice of vegetables.  Cook as you feel like.  Spread some hummus on a tortilla, top with the vegetables.  Roll up and slice.  Yum.

This Sunday, we lit a candle for peace.  Last Sunday, the candle and the message was hope.  Being a little behind as I sometimes am, I think I am just beginning to learn hope’s lesson; that hope is all one can do in the absence of certainty.  I can only hope that what I am trying to do will be enough to raise strong kids, build a sturdy family, construct an honorable life.  I hope that the seeds I am planting will grow.  I hope.

We can try our best, but we can’t control life’s outcome.  Like the sower of the parable, we have to cast our efforts and our desires into the wind, not knowing where they will end up or what they will become.  There is so much we would like to see happen, and so little we can control.  All we can do is pray and plant and hope.

Blessed eating.

Hamburger Pie
1 lb. ground beef                                             1 t. salt
½ onion, chopped                                            1 can cond. Tomato soup
½ c. water                                                         1 can wh. kernel corn
1 can English peas                                            6 potatoes, creamed*
Brown the ground beef.  Drain well.  Add onion, salt, and water.  Simmer about 20 minutes.  Cook the corn and peas separately.  Put the meat mixture in the bottom of the large baking dish.  Layer the soup, peas and corn.  The potatoes should be placed on top of all of this.  Bake at 350o until the potatoes are golden brown. – Learvene T. Bass

Butterfinger Fluff
Ingredients:  Packaged Brownie mix, packaged instant Chocolate pudding, 16oz. bowl of Cool Whip, two large Butterfinger candy bars

Bake packaged brownies by package recipe.   Crumble brownies in a pretty large fruit dish.  Make instant chocolate pudding by package directions.  Layer ½ of pudding on brownies.  Layer ½ of Cool Whip on pudding.  Layer other ½ of pudding on Cool Whip.  Layer other ½ of Cool Whip on pudding.  Top with crumbled and crushed Butterfinger.  Beautiful dish and delicious.  Jan Kinsaul

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Disaster in the Kitchen

The plan for Wednesday night was Cheesy Potato Soup, Broccoli Casserole and Georgia Cornbread Cake.  I thought I had enough time.  After all, I started at 3:30.  We did need an early dinner, though.  Todd had somewhere to be at 6:00, so I planned for dinner around 5:00.  Somehow, granola got added to the recipe list.  (The “somehow” was that I promised it on Monday when we were out of cereal, but I hadn’t gotten around to it.)

I was still cooking at 5:00.  At 5:30, too.  Todd and I finally sat down to a bowl of soup at 5:45 and he was only slightly late for his appointment.  (The casserole was in the oven.)  When I finally sat down with the kids – I was determined to have a sit down meal – no amount of cheese could coax the broccoli into them.  A few meltdowns and a heap of guilt later, I put them to bed filled with mac and cheese that had nothing green in it.

The Cheesy Potato Soup tasted good, though I can’t really say that it is quick or easy to make.  It starts with a bunch of potatoes that need to be peeled and chopped.   The Broccoli Casserole wasn’t a complete success either.  I tried to warm the Velveeta in the microwave.  Half melted, half cooked.  And it was not nearly enough to cover and melt into the broccoli.  I cut some more Velveeta (I had extra) into slices and put it directly on the broccoli, with the cracker mixture on top of it, hoping it would melt and run down through the broccoli while in the oven.  Not really.  I had two thirds broccoli casserole, one third broccoli.   

Todd did suggest later that if I put the casserole upside down in a bowl and pour the soup over it, I would have something like the casserole I was aiming for to begin with.  Thanks, hon.

The Georgia Cornbread Cake, at this writing, is still waiting to be assembled and cooked.  The granola did turn out pretty good.

What do I do at the end of a night like this?  When none of the goals are met?  When everything seems to be failure?  When I flop into a chair afterward mumbling words to myself that I can’t print in this or any public forum?

Being rather fluent in Disney movies, I find some good ideas there.  The motto of the movie Meet the Robinsons is “Keep Moving Forward.”  And what comes to mind in even more vividly is Dory’s refrain from Finding Nemo, “Just Keep Swimming.”

Just keep cooking.  Keep living.  Keep going no matter what.  Because what is the option?  Live in the disappointment of the past?  Nope.  Not for me, thanks.  Whether the vista ahead is promising or intimidating, it’s the only scenery there is.

So come this Sunday – rain or shine, tranquility or tantrum – I’ll be donning this same apron and pulling ingredients from the cupboard.  Feel free to say a prayer for me around 4:00, because I’ll be cooking.

Blessed eating!

Cindy’s Cheesy Potato Soup
8-10 potatoes                                             1-2 cans chicken broth
1 can evap. Milk                                         2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 16 oz. sour cream                                  1 stick of butter
3 c. grated cheese                                    green onion
Large round bread rolls (optional)
Cube potatoes.  Place in pot and pour chicken broth enough to cover potatoes.  Boil till potatoes are soft but not mushy.  Add evaporated milk, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper.  Allow all to get creamy.  Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes.  While soup is cooking, bake bacon and chop into small bits (I cut mine in the food chopper).  Cut green onions.  Top soup with bacon bits and green onions.
Optional – Take bread rolls and dig the middle of the roll out.  Form a bread bowl with the bread and pour soup in the bread bowl.  Top with bacon and green onion. – Cindy Bass Switzer

Note:  Todd cooked the bacon, I think on the Foreman Grill.  At about 5:40, I laughed at the thought of taking the green onions out of the refrigerator and chopping them up.

Broccoli Casserole
3 small boxes broccoli                                    ½ lb Velveeta
1 stick margarine                                              3 crushed Ritz crackers
Cook broccoli until tender.  Drain.  Place in baking dish.  Melt cheese and pour over broccoli.  Melt margarine and mix with Ritz crumbs.  Sprinkle over broccoli and cheese.  Bake until cheese bubble up in crackers or until brown. – Joyce Bass

Note:  I used butter and a different kind of cracker which worked just fine.

Georgia Cornbread Cake
1 c. sugar                                             1 c. oil
4 eggs                                                   2 c. pecans
1 t. vanilla                                            1 ½ c. sifted SR flour
1 c. packed brown sugar
Mix.  Pour into greased 12x9 pan.  Baked at 350 for 35-40 minutes. When cake is cooling it will fall.  Cut into squares.  – Tom Henderson

Note:  If you make this, let me know how it goes.