Secret Ingredient is Love, Bread Recipes

Do you enjoy cooking and baking?  I certainly do.  There is something about taking a number of different ingredients, mixing them together, and creating something yummy.  A creation that makes the house smell warm and inviting.  Homey.  Love wafts out of the pan.  It is so calming.

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For me baking is a way to destress and also to show my family and friends that I love them. I love it when my parents stop by and I have made a big kettle of soup to share.  It warms my heart when family pops by and I just happen to have made their favorite pie.  Sometimes it lightens their load and gives them a smile if only for a short time.
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Does it work like that for you, too?  Do you enjoy cooking?  Do you have happy memories from Times in your kitchen?   Most people that love to cook and bake have precious, “sweet” memories of time spent in the kitchen.  The women in my family taught me to cook.  I loved being with them and they were always in the kitchen.  It seemed natural that the kitchen was a place I would love.  My mother and hers were the two women who taught me the most about cooking.
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Everyone has something special they make or a special added ingredient that like to toss into their dishes.  If I’m cooking a savory dish, garlic is my secret ingredient.  Even if it’s a smidge, I love garlic.  Now baking, that’s a toss up.   Depending on the dessert I will reach for vanilla or cinnamon.  Mmmmmmmm.  They both smell heavenly.  However, the most powerful secret ingredient is love.  People can tell if you made something lovingly.  My Grandmother always told me “if you cook with love, you will always love to cook.”
God makes sure we have all of the things we need for our daily bread.  He sees that we have money to buy ingredients.  There are cookbooks and family members to guide us.    We have been given the ability to put the ingredients together to make all different kinds of wonderful dishes.  All we need to do is have faith it will turn out and add our secret ingredient of love.
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He has given us every thing we need for faith, too.  We have all of the things we need.  The Bible is our instructional book.  Church is our classroom, and other Christians are there to help.  God has the ultimate secret ingredient . . . Jesus.  There is no greater love.

Best Banana Bread Ever

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1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. oil
3 bananas, mashed
2 c. flour
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 T. milk
1 c. chopped nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350º. Beat sugar, eggs, oil, and bananas. Stir in dry ingredients, nuts, vanilla and milk. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Happy Birthday America! Patriotic Desserts for All!

Happy 4th of July to you and Happy Birthday to America!   This is the 243rd birthday for this country of ours.  The United States of America is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.  Each year on this day we celebrate by throwing a big birthday party!

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What are you giving America this year?  Peace, harmony, and respect might be on her list.  She deserves all three and much more.

Usually the party ends up being a picnic or pool party.  Family and friends gather from near and sometimes far to celebrate living in the extraordinary country.  We celebrate freedom, our freedom.  Summer is in full swing.  The weather is hot with the nights warm.  Fireworks light up the skies to celebrate.

When my family gathers to celebrate we usually have a pitch-in.  Does yours?  We have some favorite dishes and try to make at least one patriotic dessert.  What are some that you make?  Here are a few from our recipe box:

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Recipe for above:

Take any flavor of cookie dough and spread in the Pampered Chef round white stone. Bake according to directions for a big cookie. Let cool. Frost with white icing and decorate with red, white, and blue M&M’s.

Below:

The following is a luscious, light dessert that pleases everyone.  It looks gorgeous, too.

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Flag Red Velvet Cakes:

These Red Velvet Flag cakes are really a hit at the party.  They are easy to make and eat!  Kids and adults love them.  They work for more than Flag Day.

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Today is about much more than red, white and blue desserts, fireworks, and picnics.  Far more.  It is about freedom, liberty, and justice.  Blood was shed so that we might live free.  Never take that for granted.  Our forefathers planned and organized to make certain this would be the best land for them and their descendants.  Their blood was given for it.

While you are celebrating the birthday of this land that I love today, please lift this country, her leaders, and her protectors up in prayer.  They need our prayers daily now just like our founding fathers prayed for them.  Our country and each one of us needs God.  Let’s start with prayer.  That would be a precious birthday gift for America.

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Gardening, Harvesting, and a Recipe

Summer is here.  It is a beautiful season!  Already it’s hot in Southern Indiana.  Are you ready to begin planting flowers or have you done that?  Do you like to garden, too?

Gardening is something that soothes me. Nurturing seeds and seedlings into plants is relaxing and produces resulting that can be seen.  The plants yield vegetables, fragrant herbs, or beautiful flowers.  I love it all.  Do you?  My grandparents on both sides gardened and it is in my blood.

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Of course, it takes care to get the desired results.  I can’t just scatter the seeds and hope everything works.  Seeds must be carefully planted and watered.  Fertilizing or feeding  helps give the plants nourishment to grow strong.  I will want to protect them from things seeking to destroy them by eating them.  Here we not only have bugs but critters like bunnies, groundhogs, and even deer that like to munch on tender young plants.  Most importantly, they will also need sun.  That will be beyond my control.  When the little seeds have everything they need, voila, we are rewarded with plants.

A couple of years ago I purchased yellow squash seeds.  I love yellow squash and have many recipes.  The seeds went in the ground and I made certain they had everything they needed to thrive.  I watered, fertilized, watched, and waited.  The seeds sprouted into three tiny plants.  Wow, I was happy.  They continued to grow and finally the yellow blossoms appeared.

Yellow squash dishes ran through my head for what would be first.  Would I have enough to share with others?  Yes, more blossoms formed.  I was excited.  Finally the flower turned into a vegetable.  Oh, no.  A green zucchini!  The seeds had been mispackaged.  We like zucchini, but not three more plants worth when one had been planted.

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My lesson was you reap what you sow.  I thought I was planting yellow squash but really all along had zucchini seeds.  I had a harvest of something I hadn’t anticipated.  Even though I thought I was doing everything right, one thing at the beginning spoiled everything.

How true is this in areas of our life?  We think we are doing something and put forth all of our energy to it.  When it is finished we find we were off track and are reaping something we had not expected?  It can be accidental like the seeds.  Someone else tripped me on that one.  Perhaps it is known but at the time it doesn’t seem like a big deal.  Ignoring someone in a store or not inviting someone to your party might seem innocent, but what happens later?

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Maybe we think our children aren’t watching how we treat some people, and grow up to mistreat them because we did.   Our work habits are excessive to provide for our family and now our family has no time for us.  Watch carefully what you sow so you don’t reap something unexpected.

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Mammaw’s Forgotten Easter Cookies

Easter is rapidly approaching. We are at the ending stages of Lent.  It is the time to turn our hearts and minds to Jesus and His journey to the Cross. Being raised in a Christian family Easter was much more than egg hunts and baskets for me. It was Resurrection Sunday.

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I remember my maternal grandmother teaching me the Easter story over a cookie recipe one year. The cookies are good, but the story has stuck with me for decades.  Memories made in the kitchen are priceless and stay with people.

You might want to do an activity like this for yourself, children, grandchildren, or kids’ group. The message might just plant a seed that will grow into a bountiful harvest. Sometimes a visual makes the Easter story a little more memorable, too. Years down the road they might be recalling time spent with you and lessons from your kitchen.

Mammaw’s Forgotten Easter Cookies

2 egg whites

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

2/3 c. sugar

1 c. nuts

pinch of salt

1 tsp. white vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pecans in resealable plastic baggie. Crush pecans into small pieces with a rolling pin. Read John 19:1-3

“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe, And said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and they smote Him with their hands.”

Sprinkle salt into egg whites. Read Luke 23:27, 33

“And there followed Him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented Him.”

“When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals—one on His right, the other on His left.”

Put vanilla into a bowl. Read John 19:28-30. “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, ‘I thirst.’ Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished’ and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.”

Right now this mixture doesn’t look yummy. Add sugar slowly. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.  “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.”  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Beat with mixer until frothy and add cream of tartar. Then beat on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Add in vanilla close to the end. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with Him.’ Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto parchment paper lined baking sheet. Read Matthew 27:57-60.

“When the night was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and departed.”

Place cookies in the oven, close the door and turn the oven off. Read Matthew 27:65-66.

“Pilate said unto them, ‘Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.’ So they went, and made the tomb sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”

Go to bed. Read John 16:20 and 22.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.”

“And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”

In the morning open the oven and take out the cookies. 

Read Matthew 28:1-9.

“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the tomb. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, ‘Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you.’ And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy; and did run to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him.”

When you bite into the cookies notice they are hollow inside, empty, just like Jesus’ tomb.

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