Bread Pudding

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When the wind is blowing hard from the north and you want to warm up your kitchen it is definitely time to bake!  I decided to make a pan of bread pudding as I had bread in the freezer that was getting on the dry side.

When my boys were in school they used to get off the bus and head straight for the fridge. After a long bus ride they were ready for food!  Every so often, on a cold snowy day my husband used to have a pan of warm bread pudding waiting for them when they came through the door. Yep you read that right….my husband made the bread pudding.  In fact, he made great bread pudding and he also made really great French toast. The French Toast is another whole story.

The past couple years I have taken over making the bread pudding.  On a farm sale my husband purchased a box of books and inside was the 1975 recipe book you see in the photo.  I found a bread pudding recipe and “tweaked” it for our taste.  I am happy to share it with you.

 

BREAD PUDDING
Fill a 9×9 pan with torn bread pieces (my pan is quite deep)
3 cups milk
As many raisins as you like
5 eggs
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoon butter


STREUSEL TOPPING
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Put torn bread pieces into a 9 x 9 pan.  As I said mine is an old pan and quite deep.
Mingle raisins with bread in pan.  Use as many or as few as you like.
Mix milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and pour over bread and raisins.
Dot the butter on top of this.
Mix streusel topping and sprinkle over bread mixture.
Bake at 325 for 1 hour.
It is done when you “jiggle” the pan and the center is firm and doesn’t wiggle.
Note: it works best to use white bread or whole grain white bread. 

As you can tell, for me, baking is not an exact science.  I tend to be the type who uses a “dash” or a “shake” or a “handful” when measuring my ingredients.  This time I tried to measure a little more specifically so you would have something to go by.  Feel free to tweak it for your personal taste.  That is what makes baking fun.

I now have a pinterest button at the bottom of each post.  This should make it easier to pin to your boards if this recipe is something you might like to try.  Now I just have to figure out how to put those recipes in a printable format…….

HAPPY BAKING!!

The Waiting Season

It was an absolutely beautiful day out today.  Way to nice to stay inside and do the work that should have been done.  I grabbed the camera and decided to take a little walk down to the river.

The sun was shining….finally!  After days of gray skies and damp cool winds it was a welcome change.  The only birds I heard were a pair of crows chasing and tormenting a hawk and a large flock of snow geese heading north on their annual migration.  It was a day for the senses…..the sight of the ice breaking on the river, the sound of running water, cawing crows and honking geese, the clean smell of the almost spring breeze, and the cool air of winter trying to hang on and chilling my fingers as I switched lenses on the camera.

It is a time of waiting and anticipating.  I find myself waiting for the rest of the snow to melt off my garden, waiting for the mud to dry so I don’t slide around as I do my chicken chores, waiting for the summer birds to arrive so the gully becomes a noisy chorus of song birds.  I am in anticipation of warm black dirt to put my seeds and transplants in.  I struggle to wait for the gravel roads to dry so I can take a walk. I am really ready to sit on my deck in the morning with my cup of tea and soak in the sound of the birds in the morning and hear the leaves rustle in the breeze. At this point we are in that awkward time between cold stormy, blustery winter and warm, soft spring rain.  That hush before the spring busyness that is planting season on the farm.  There is no hurrying this in-between time along…..and so we wait.

It is probably a good lesson for life and living.  Many times we find ourselves in line at the grocery store and waiting, at a stop light and waiting, sitting in a hospital room and waiting,  ___________ and waiting. You fill in the blank; the waiting season is different for everyone.  Perhaps we are being gently taught in this in-between season to be patient, to appreciate the calm before the busyness and to just take the time to breathe in and out. To value the time we have with those we love and to enjoy each moment as it comes and let the future work itself out.

I am fortunate that I have an awesome place to do my waiting.  In the past years I have found that siting on the bank of the river is a great place to stop and breathe.  I hope you are equally blessed with a place to do your waiting.

Please feel free to share and comment.  I would love to hear from you!

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I am not saying this
because I am in any need,
for I have learned to be content
in whatever situation I am in.

Philipians 4:11

Love, Commitment and Legacy

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I wasn’t so sure about this post or even what to call it.  But after journeying over to other blogs this one just kind of came together.  I am privileged to be part of a family that really enjoys being together and I think it stems back to past generations and their commitment to each other. It is really a heritage that can be overwhelming, fun, humbling all at the same time.  It also carries a responsibility to carry that on for future generations.  I am not sure if that bit of rambling makes sense but for some reason I am finding it hard to get my thoughts on this one organized.

On February 8, I posted a blog on Legacy.  Since that time I have read blog posts by other authors that speak to marriage, family and waiting for those things.  There was a very common thread running through them all – love, commitment, and legacy.

One of the posts that I read was titled “A Letter to My Future Husband”.  I found an author, on this blog, that is praying for a person she does not yet know; but that God is preparing for her to spend her life with. It was worded so beautifully and I was incredibly blessed by it.  As a mom of three sons I have prayed for the women that the Lord was preparing my sons to meet and to marry and I continue to do so.  It was awesome to see the other side of that prayer – a young woman praying for the man God was preparing for her.  So far, my prayers have been answered abundantly, I have two amazing women I am proud to call my daughters-in-law.

The next post I read was “12 Things I Wish that I Knew About Marriage Before I Got Married”.  Several good points were made by this author.  I especially loved the one where she calls marriage a “long term investment” rather that hard work.  What a great perspective on marriage!  Don’t we all take great care to protect our investments? And isn’t that a great way to view our marriages?  You could read the love this author had for her husband and the  commitment she was making to her “long term investment”. Once again I was blessed and it has made me look at my marriage of 35 years in a different light.  No more hard work here!!! I will be investing in my marriage.

I then ventured over to Rachel’s  blog. The February 1 post was titled, “What I Learned in January and A Happy Birthday to Mom!”  The author had a photo of her daughter in the wedding dress of the author’s mom.  She was wishing her mom were still alive to share in their lives and for her to ask advice and just talk things over.  It opened my eyes to the fact that many times I take my mom and my mom-in-law for granted.  These two women have paved the way for me with their love and faith.  They have spent countless hours feeding the family, raising children, loving husbands and praying for them.  I am grateful for having my eyes re-opened to this truth.

All these posts reinforced that feeling of legacy for me….past, present and future. The legacy of grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren……..  generations extending both ways.  I have posted the links to those blogs and I would encourage you to read them….they are an excellent read and I hope you will be as blessed by them as I was.  All you need to do, to visit them; is  click on the links at the end of this post.

Seeing the photo of the gal in her grandmother’s wedding dress made me remember that I have my grandma Scholten’s wedding dress.  I went to a shelf in my closet and hauled out the box that held that dress.  She was married in the 1920’s and my aunt had kept her dress, in a shoebox, when she passed away between my freshman and sophomore year of high school. Looking at that dress I was grateful she had been my grandma and yet I had regrets. I wished I had taken the time to sit down with her and ask her questions.  As a teenager, I thought she was old, and never took the time to find out who she was as a person and get to really know her.

If I could go back; I would do things differently.  I would love to ask her how she really felt when she left the Netherlands at the age of 19, boarded a ship, and sailed to America to join her brother in Chicago.  How was the journey? How did she manage all that way by herself? How had she found the courage, as a “city girl”  to raise 5 children as a young widow alone on a farm in Iowa? What did she think of my grandpa the first time she met him and how did she actually meet him? What was her favorite game as a young girl?  So many things I will never know.  I do know she missed her family back in the Netherlands as she spoke of them often and letters went back and forth. I know she had great respect for the royal family of the Netherlands and sent them cards of congratulations for weddings and births,  I know she only drank her coffee or tea out of a porcelain cup.  I know she knitted amazing wool mittens for all of us grandkids. Some of those things may not seem very important but to me they spoke of love, loyalty and faithfulness.  I know she loved us even though she never said it with words. Her actions spoke her love for her.

At the end of the day it is important to know that we are loved, to know that faith will help us persevere through anything, and to know that faithfulness and commitment  are a legacy to be shared, lived  and passed on to those who come after.

 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope
without wavering,
for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23

 

 

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Seed Catalogs and Dreams

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My head knows that this warm weather is not really Spring and it will probably snow again this season,  but my heart still wants to believe it is here or at least really close. We have had a few really nice warm days, snow is melting rapidly in 50+ degree weather, a few flocks of geese have passed overhead, a few brave (or slightly crazy) robins have come back,  the sun in shining and the river ice is slowly breaking up.  This does give us a lot of mud……. gooey, slimy, slip and fall in it kind of mud. I speak from past experience on that one!  If you are careful navigating across the yard it is not so bad and if you look up at the beautiful blue sky instead of down at the mud, it is not bad at all!  Probably something I should remember when it comes to more than mud.

We have entered that time of year where the promise of spring, dreams of gardening, and the arrival of seed catalogs all collide to make the perfect storm. I have to say that some part of that storm might be my own fault…okay, it is my own fault.   About a month or so ago seed catalog advertisements started showing up in my email and on my Facebook page.  Most of them told me all I had to do was go to their websites and fill out my information and they would send me a FREE catalog. This was for an actual paper, hold it in your hands kind of seed catalog.  One that you can look at over and over till the pages get to looking well worn and you can tell which pages you looked at a lot.  I don’t know about you, but I find it really difficult to pass up a free item.  And the fact that they were seed catalogs was even better!

The catalogs soon began to arrive in our mailbox.  Gurneys (complete with great coupons on the front), Jung, Burpees, Musser Forest (not sure why I sent for that one; maybe it was that word free….) and Baker Heirloom Seeds, to name a few.  Have you seen the pictures in those catalogs?  They are amazing!  Bright red, beautiful tomatoes, perfect green beans, lettuce varieties I have never heard of, sugar snap peas and the list goes on. Every plant they show is in perfect condition and not a blemish on the produce.  There is not a weed in sight or a squash bug or those irritating voles that eat your potatoes.  In fact, they have an entire section dedicated to the coolest tools to help make your gardening a breeze and to help start all those plants from seed.  It is a great boost to the dreams of gardening and visions of gardening perfection.

Then I venture into the fruit section and start dreaming where can I put a strawberry bed?  And just look at those apple trees and cherry trees…..we should get some of those too.  And hey!  what about blueberries….they would be great in pancakes.  I can see them all preserved, and sitting on my shelves in shiny glass mason jars or put up into nice Ziploc freezer bags in my freezer.  Nowhere does it mention or even hint at the man hours needed to get those fruits and veggies to that wonderful edible state.  It does not mention the backaches, the bug bites, the sweating, the hoeing and finally the time spent picking, and picking and picking some more green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes……….  I am actually grateful those catalogs do not mention the downside.  I kind of like to be in that perfect garden bubble and would like to maintain that slightly euphoric state for as long as I can!  There is a lot to be said for being an optimist.

I set out to make my list of what I want to put in my garden this year.  You have to have the basics – beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cabbage and melons.  It is also fun to add in some summer squash, eggplant, hot peppers, and whatever.  And hmmmm, I wonder what I could grow that the chickens would like?  At some point, reality sets in and I remember we are empty nesters and I also remember that we do have weeds, squash bugs, potato beetles, and those irritating voles that eat your potatoes.  I also remember, some of those days are going to be hot and sticky humid Iowa days.  So I hold myself back, sort of, when picking out my seeds.

I haven’t yet purchased my seeds but this is going to be the week.  I am making my list of seeds I want to try, how many bags of seed starting soil I will need, and checking to make sure I have enough starter pots.    My dad always had a saying that he would use when my he and mom took us out for a buffet meal.  He would always tell us “Make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach.”  In other words don’t put more on your plate that you can eat.  It is really hard to remember that bit of wisdom when I am purchasing my garden supplies. I already know that I will plant more than I can use, but there are always people willing to take the extras.  I know I will can more jars of salsa, beans, tomato soup, pizza sauce and so on than I need, but my kids have shelves that I can fill and they don’t seem to mind a bit. For me that is half the fun of gardening – sharing the produce and making summer last through the winter.  If I can figure it out right; that produce will last until the next garden begins to produce and I can start to refill all the jars we emptied this past year.

What are some of your favorite things to start from seed for your gardens?  Do you struggle with pests like I do and how do you handle that?  Please feel free to let me know! I would love to know what works for you.

   

A Time for Everything

 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Yes….You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks…sortof

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A few days ago my husband and I ventured into a new area of the electronic age.  We learned how to access our medical records online.  To some of you this might not seem like such an amazing feat.  However, you need to realize that when we were in high school all the phones were attached to the wall, you dialed up on a rotary phone (for those of you who don’t know what that is you may want to google it), and the receiver was attached to the phone.  If you were fortunate your folks had purchased an extra long cord so you could walk around while you talked with your friends.  Yep, talked……there was no texting, snap chat, choice of ring tones, voice mail, or GIFs. We also did not have computers and in typing class were happy when it was our turn to use the electric typewriters instead of the manual ones.It was not the age of the dinosaurs, but I am sure my kids think it was mighty close.

Fortunately, we are still capable of learning some new things.  Before my last son left for college he taught us to run the DVD player.  His famous last words on that topic were, “You have to learn this dad…….I am not going to live with you forever!”

Anyway, back to the medical records.  Once we accessed them it was kind of interesting to check out the labs……all those numbers!  We read the doctors notes. Learned what was wrong and what was okay with us.  We read things we did not understand.  Then we got to some other items.  We discovered our BMI (Body Mass Index) numbers.  That was interesting. Here is a rundown of that conversation:

Me: Hey! here is our BMI numbers.
Lar: What’s that?
Me: Body Mass Index…..I think.
Lar:  What’s my number?
Me: Told him his number.
Lar: What’s it supposed to be?
Me:  Lower
Lar: What’s your number?
Me:  Why?
Lar: Just wondering (big grin)
Me: Higher than yours
Lar: Well how much?
Me: Told him the number.
Lar:  Huh (another grin)
Lar:  What does that really mean?
Me:  Well, let me put it this way…..my number says I am obese and yours says you are “just” fat
Moment of silence
Both of us: Bwhaahaaahaaaa
Lar: Hmmm and we are going to a family thing for Pizza Ranch Buffet..????

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NOOOOOO……I knew those BMI numbers were too high!

 

If nothing else, learning all the new stuff and reading our charts may provide some entertainment on a snowy day.

And what have you been learning that you never thought you would have to know? Go ahead, click on comment and share…..this could be fun!

 

 

Lessons From a Chicken Coop

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Redemption is a word that comes to mind when I think of my chicken coop. It is a word I would use for something or someone that has been so broken and spent that it seems that it could not be fixed. This totally describes what my chicken coop used to be.

Back in 2000 there was an acreage that was going to be razed and turned back into cropland.  My husband and I saw that there was a sad looking little chicken coop sinking into the dirt next to a tree. We thought it looked like it had “potential” and looked like something that would have been on the show “Little House on the Prairie”  We asked the owners if we could have it and were given permission.  We borrowed a neighbors’ trailer and braced up the little building (and I use that term loosely after seeing the pictures once again) and somehow managed to get it on the trailer.  We proudly took our “prize” home. Our sons took one look at it and thought we should put a match to it and have a bonfire complete with hot dogs and s’more fixings.

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It sat in the back yard of an acreage we hoped to move to, for at least 6 years before we decided we should maybe do something with it. Unfortunately, like many things in life, it had not improved during this time or fixed itself.  Our first step was to pour a pad of cement that it could be moved on to.  My husband, the original do-it-yourselfer, hauled buckets and buckets of sand from down by the river to prepare a good surface for the cement.

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The pad and the building sat next to each other for a couple more years.  Never once did that building make even the tiniest move toward getting itself onto that cement…..big sigh.  During this time we moved to this acreage.  The day finally came that we decided to merge the two.  It took a little ingenuity but we got the building moved and situated on the pad.  The entire front kind of fell apart and so we began fixing.  The bottom sills were totally rotted and gone and we had to reconstruct the entire bottom portion.  By the time we got that done and the front constructed; winter had come again.

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That next spring saw us take a road trip to Worthington, MN.  At the farm store there they had chicks!  By the time we left the store I had ordered 25 chicks that were to arrive at the end of April.  That deadline kicked us into high gear on the fixing, painting, and outfitting the coop.

 

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At one time my husband thought we should calculate the cost of restoration and see how many eggs those chickens would have to produce to make it pay.  I really discouraged that idea!

My coop is a daily reminder to me that pretty much anything or anyone, no matter how broken, no matter how useless it looks, no matter how bad it looks can be fixed, restored, redeemed and made whole again. My little coop is not perfect but it definitely has character.  It is a solid reminder to me every day of what it takes to fix that which is broken.  For me it is a lesson on redemption and grace and the price of both.

 

For you have been bought with a price
1 Corinthians 6:20a

Favorite Recipes

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Ask any of my family and they will tell you I love to cook and I love to bake……which could be the reason that weight loss is a struggle!  I have a box full of recipes clipped from magazines and newspapers, and recipes written on scraps of papers. I love cookbooks and after discovering Pinterest the world of recipes is wide open.  My husband keeps telling me I really do not need another cookbook and he is right.  I don’t need anymore but I sure like to have more.  That needing versus wanting can be  problem.  I have begun to sort through that box and am slowly, very slowly, making headway.

Anyway, today I thought I would post a couple of my family favorites.  It seems like I should do this in an orderly fashion, but yeah….I rarely follow recipes exactly either.

We love soup and one of our favorites on a cold winter day is Potato Soup.  Below is that recipe.  I should probably have had pictures of this but we ate it!

POTATO SOUP
4 cups boiling water
2 cups diced carrots
8 cups diced potatoes
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 can cream of celery soup
3 cups diced ham
3 tablespoons bacon bits
1 1/2 sticks butter
3/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups Velveeta cheese

Bring water to a boil; add carrots, potatoes, onions, salt and pepper.
Cook till tender; do not drain.
Add celery soup, ham, bacon bits and cheese.
In another saucepan, melt butter, add flour in small amounts, stirring briskly.
Add the milk and stir till thick.
Add this mixture to the soup pot and heat through.
Do not let this boil or the milk will curdle.
Let simmer and enjoy!

Another favorite that whips up quickly is a recipe I got from my friend, Karen, in Platte. I love this recipe as I only make one pan dirty.  You can just keep on adding your ingredients to the same pan as you go.

COUNTRY STYLE EGGS
6 slices bacon
3 cups raw potatoes
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp. black pepper
6 eggs, well beaten

Cook bacon in a heavy skillet. (I love my cast iron for this)
Combine potatoes, onion, and pepper and spread over bacon.
Cover tightly and cook over low heat, about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Beat eggs and milk and pour over potatoes.
Lift mixture gently with spatula as it cooks on the bottom, tipping skillet so uncooked eggs run underneath.
When nearly done, cut in 4ths and flip to brown each wedge.

I hope you enjoy making these as much as I do. Hopefully, next week I will bring you a couple more family favorites.  I am thinking desserts sound good for that time!

“Taste and see
that the
Lord is good”
Psalm 34:8