Curry, Salmon, and Cous-Cous

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A couple months ago, my mom and I found a bunch of canned salmon for really cheap at a local discount grocery store. I’ve been wanting to try it out to see how I liked it, but hadn’t gotten around to using any until today. This recipe takes maybe 20 min to prepare and is absolutely wonderful! I already love salmon and easy recipes like this, make it a quick and delicious source of good food:)

I found a recipe from a salmon distributor and made some modifications to it, to get this yummy dish!

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Curried Salmon and Couscous
 
From the Kitchen of Kelsey Leinbach
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can evaporated milk
1 can salmon
2 TB brown sugar
2 TB curry paste
1 c frozen green beans
1 1/2 c Couscous
2 c water
In a sauce pan (or an handy-dandy digital pressure cooker set to simmer), combine milk, tomatoes, brown sugar, and curry paste. Stir until it comes to a slight bubble. Then add the green beans. Once the beans are thawed, add the salmon and break it up into bight size pieces.
In a separate sauce pan, cook the couscous.
Serve hot with the curried salmon over the couscous or mixed together.
total prep time: 20 min
serves: 4
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 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.”
John 6:11-13
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A Beautiful Day

I have recently had a crash course in what it means to have a beautiful day. I have always had a deep understanding of the truth that things don’t always go according to plan. However, it’s is what you make of those situations that God looks at. He doesn’t determine our hearts by the trials before us, but by the way we handle such trials. Look at Job. He had his entire life blessed with worldly greatness, but in the blink of an eye, everything was taken in a brutal fashion. His mortal world came crashing down, and yet glory was given to God. Through the desolation he felt on this earth, Job still praised the Lord for His goodness, His majesty, and His ultimate knowledge of what we need on this earth to become more like our Father in Heaven. I have realized that no matter what struggle, or non-struggle, is before you, throwing yourself into the arms of the Lord is the only way to feel the Spirit of God and to have true, lasting Joy.

My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly. 
The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breathe of the Almighty hath given me life. 
If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up. 
Behold I am according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am formed out of the clay.”
~Job 33: 3-6 KJV

Chocolate Cupcake Gems

So on this blog, I try to share recipes made from scratch or close to scratch. However, box mix cakes are super easy and quick to use or doctor. With a little creativity, you can make a fabulous treat that doesn’t taste like something out of a box.

One such recipe has quickly become a favorite.

Chocolate Cupcake Gems

From the Kitchen of Keira Leinbach

1 box Devil’s Food Cake mix
1 box Yellow Butter Cake mix

Preheat oven to 350

Pour half of the contents of each cake mix into a large mixing bowl.
Follow the instructions on the back of the Butter cake mix  box (egg amount, butter instead of oil, etc.). Thoroughly mix the batter. Using a mini greased muffin tin, spoon a little bit of batter (size of a quarter) then place a Hershey Kiss in each cup. Fill the cup to desired height (generally 2/3 full, we like our cupcakes a little bigger).

Bake for about 10 min and check to see is fully cooked by using a toothpick. remember that there is chocolate in the middle so only check the top part or side of one cupcake.

Once they are fully baked, let them cool and frost them.

We used the prepackaged chocolate fudge frosting, but there are so many yummy and simple frostings out there to make, experimenting could be fun.

I hope you enjoy this quick and easy cupcake recipe!!!

God Bless!

The (once) Lost Art of Food Preservation

Ah Fall.
Some of the traditions that are popular this time of year include trips to family farms, pumpkin carving, leaf pile jumping, book reading, cooking, football watching, friendship building, the list goes on. However, for me, one of the most iconic pictures of late summer and fall is the expansive amount of food preservation- canning, dehydrating, freezing, etc. I love the smell of cooked jam or smoked fish wafting through the house and through the windows. Especially in this season when the air is brisk, the trees are losing their golden leaves, the constant sound of rain, and comfort is found in the soft light and the warm smell of hot food in the ever busy kitchen.

The wonderful thing about home preserved food is that if it is done correctly, there is no flavor to match it. Nothing beats the taste of home canned peaches, tomatoes, and green beans- home dried mushrooms, peppers, and sweet potato fries- or home smoked pork, salmon, and brisket.

There was once a time in this country when people were encouraged to grow and store their own foods. They were encouraged to learn how to cook and preserve produce and how to be prosperous by their own means. And before the times of the mid 1900s, most people lived off of food that they procured themselves. It has only been in the last century that people have lost almost complete contact with their food sources.

But that hasn’t changed the way a child feels when they open up a jar of mom’s or grandma’s strawberry jam and put it on a nice warm piece of toast. The jam makes the toast automatically better, yes. But it’s knowing that the jam was made for them, by someone they love, that it is all the more sweeter.

Food preservation isn’t just about saving food- it’s about saving the heart of what makes people feel good. You can’t explain to someone the sound of opening a jar of homemade pickles. The lid on that jar has such a different one than the lid from the one you buy at the store. And if you get the right recipe, there is nothing that tastes better.

The best resource for beginning to advanced canning recipes is the Ball website: freshpreserving.com

If you go to the website and are completely overwhelmed by all the high tech canning supplies, take a deep breath. It’s not as scary as it looks, and you don’t need all the gadgetry to be effective in your purpose. Quality is important. But it also doesn’t need to be shiny and digital to serve its function.

For those of you who are starting out, start with easy recipes such as peaches, salsa, pears, cooked jams, etc. Then progress to the more advanced levels such as pressure canning or fermented pickles or non-pectin jellies.

For those of you who are getting into pressure canning, remember to breathe. It is extremely important that your equipment is in working order, and that you have the ability to meticulously monitor the pressure. If the pressure is too low, your food isn’t safe, if it is too high, everything in moderate proximity isn’t safe.
Make sure that your gauges are checked by those who know what they are doing- a great resource is your county Extension office. Search: “your county here 4H” online, call their office, and ask if they will check the gauge on your pressure-canner. Many Extension offices will do this for free and they will be more than willing to answer any questions you may have.

It is more important that you ask a question if you have ANY doubt, than it is to assume you have the answer. Remember that when you are preserving food, yes it is fun, but it is also something than can have adverse effects if done incorrectly or unsafely.

Note: There are many options when canning. But it is very important that unless you are beyond expert level in this delicate art, that you stick to the tried and true Ball Blue Book recipes and do not alter them. When you do not take every precaution, altering recipes alters pH levels and can lead to spoilage, botulism, and other issues creating food that is EXTREMELY unsafe to consume.

HOWEVER. Do not let these concerns stop you from learning this valuable skill. Canning is incredibly fun and something that the entire family gets to enjoy! So long as you follow the rules and play it safe, then the benefit from this activity is superb. Once you get the hang of it, preserving food becomes a fun tradition that kids never forget!
And who doesn’t like the taste of their favorite home canned fruit?

As always, comment below if you have any questions or would like more information on this topic.

When Queens Ride By

When Queens Ride By
Agnes Slight Turnbull

Jennie Musgrave woke at the shrill rasp of the alarm clock as she always woke—with the shuddering start and a heavy realization that the brief respite of the night’s oblivion was over. She had only time to glance through the dull light at the cluttered, dusty room, before John’s voice was saying sleepily as he said every morning, “All right, let’s go. It doesn’t seem as if we’d been in bed at all!”
Jennie dressed quickly in the clothes, none too clean, that, exhausted, she had flung from her the night before. She hurried down the back stairs, her coarse shoes clattering thickly upon the bare boards. She kindled the fire in the range and then made a hasty pretense at washing in the basin in the sink.

John strode through the kitchen and on out to the barn. There were six cows to be milked and the great cans of milk to be taken to the station for the morning train.
Jennie put coffee and bacon on the stove, and then, catching up a pail from the porch, went after John. A golden red disk broke the misty blue of the morning above the cow pasture. A sweet, fragrant breath blew from the orchard. But Jennie neither saw nor felt the beauty about her.
She glanced at the sun and thought, It’s going to be a hot day. She glanced at the orchard, and her brows knit. There it hung. All that fruit. Bushels of it going to waste. Maybe she could get time that day to make some more apple butter. But the tomatoes wouldn’t wait. She must pick them and get them to town today, or that would be a dead loss. After all her work, well, it would only be in a piece with everything else if it did happen so. She and John had bad luck, and they might as well make up their minds to it.

She finished her part of the milking and hurried back again to the overcooked bacon and strong coffee. The children were down, clamorous, dirty, always underfoot. Jim, the eldest, was in his first term of school. She glanced at his spotted waist. He should have a clean one. But she couldn’t help it. She couldn’t get the washing done last week, and when she was to get a day for it this week she didn’t know, with all the picking and the trips to town to make!
Breakfast was hurried and unpalatable, a sort of grudging concession to the demands of the body. Then John left in the milk wagon for the station, and Jennie packed little Jim’s lunch basket with bread and apple butter and pie, left the two little children to their own devices in the backyard, and started toward the barn. There was no time to do anything in the house. The chickens and turkeys had to be attended to, and then she must get to the tomato patch before the sun got too hot. Behind her was the orchard with its rows and rows of laden apple trees. Maybe this afternoon—maybe tomorrow morning. There were the potatoes, too, to be lifted. Too hard work for a woman. But what were you going to do? Starve? John worked till dark in the fields.

She pushed her hair back with a quick, boyish sweep of her arm and went on scattering the grain to the fowls. She remembered their eager plans when they were married, when they took over the old farm—laden with its heavy mortgage—that had been John’s father’s. John had been so straight of back then and so jolly. Only seven years, yet now he was stooped a little, and his brows were always drawn, as though to hide a look of ashamed failure. They had planned to have a model farm someday: blooded stock, a tractor, a new barn. And then such a home they were to make of the old stone house! Jennie’s hopes had flared higher even than John’s. A rug for the parlor, an overstuffed set like the one in the mail-order catalogue, linoleum for the kitchen, electric lights! They were young and, oh, so strong! There was nothing they could not do if they only worked hard enough.

But that great faith had dwindled as the first year passed. John worked later and later in the evenings. Jennie took more and more of the heavy tasks upon her own shoulders. She often thought with some pride that no woman in the countryside ever helped her husband as she did. Even with the haying and riding the reaper. Hard, coarsening work, but she was glad to do it for John’s sake.
The sad riddle of it all was that at the end of each year they were no further on. The only difference from the year before was another window shutter hanging from one hinge and another crippled wagon in the barnyard which John never had time to mend. They puzzled over it in a vague distress.
And meanwhile life degenerated into a straining, hopeless struggle. Sometimes lately John had seemed a little listless, as though nothing mattered. A little bitter when he spoke of Henry Davis.
Henry held the mortgage and had expected a payment on the principle this year. He had come once and looked about with something very like a sneer on his face. If he should decide someday to foreclose—that would be the final blow. They never would get up after that. If John couldn’t hold the old farm, he could never try to buy a new one. It would mean being renters all their lives. Poor renters at that!

She went to the tomato field. It had been her own idea to do some tracking along with the regular farm crops. But, like everything else, it had failed of her expectations. As she put the scarlet tomatoes, just a little overripe, into the basket, she glanced with a hard tightening of her lips toward a break in the trees a half mile away where a dark, listening bit of road caught the sun. Across its polished surface twinkled an endless procession of shining, swift-moving objects: The State Highway.

Jennie hated it. In the first place, it was so tauntingly near and yet so hopelessly far from them. If it only ran by their door, as it did past Henry Davis’s for instance, it would solve the whole problem of marketing the fruits and vegetables. Then they could set the baskets on the lawn, and people could stop for them. But as it was, nobody all summer long had paid the least attention to the sign John had put up at the end of the lane. And no wonder. Why should travelers drive their cars over the stony country byway, when a little farther along they would find the same fruit spread temptingly for them at the very roadside?

But there was another reason she hated that bit of sleek road showing between the trees. She hated it because it hurt her with its suggestions of all that passed her by in that endless procession twinkling in the sunshine. There they kept going, day after day, those happy, carefree women, riding in handsome limousines or in gay little roadsters. Some in plainer cars, too, but even those were, like the others, women who could have rest, pleasure, comfort for the asking. They were whirled along hour by hour to new pleasures, while she was weighted to the drudgery of the farm like one of the great rocks in the pasture field.

And—most bitter thought of all—they had pretty homes to go back to when the happy journey was over. That seemed to be the strange and cruel law about homes. The finer they were, the easier it was to leave them. Now with her—if she had the rug for the parlor and the stuffed furniture and linoleum for the kitchen, she shouldn’t mind anything so much then; she had nothing, nothing but hard slaving and bad luck. And the highway taunted her with it. Flung its impossible pleasures mockingly in her face as she bent over the vines or dragged the heavy baskets along the rows.

The sun grew hotter. Jennie put more strength into her task. She knew, at last, by the scorching heat overhead that is was nearing noon. She must have a bit of lunch ready for John when he came in. There wasn’t time to prepare much. Just reheat the coffee and set down some bread and pie.
She started towards the house, giving a long yodeling call for the children as she went. They appeared from the orchard, tumbled and torn from experiments with the wire fence. Her heart smothered her at the sight of them. Among the other dreams that the years had crushed out were those of little rosy boys and girls in clean suits and fresh ruffled dresses. As it was, the children had just grown like farm weeds.

This was the part of all the drudgery that hurt most. That she had not time to care for her children, sew for them, teach them things that other children knew. Sometimes it seemed as if she had no real love for them at all. She was too terribly tired as a rule to have any feeling. The only times she used energy to talk to them was when she had to reprove them for some dangerous misdeed. That was all wrong. It seemed wicked; but how could she help it? With the work draining the very life out of her, strong as she was.

John came in heavily, and they ate in silence except for the children’s chatter. John hardly looked up from his plate. He gulped down great drafts of the warmed-over coffee and then pushed his chair back hurriedly.

“I’m goin’ to try to finish the harrowin’ in the south field,” he said.
“I’m at the tomatoes,” Jennie answered. “I’ve got them’ most all picked and ready for takin’.”
That was all. Work was again upon them.
It was two o’clock by the sun, and Jennie had loaded the last heavy basket of tomatoes on the milk wagon in which she must drive to town, when she heard shrill voices sounding along the path. The children were flying in excitement toward her.
“Mum! Mum! Mum!” they called as they came panting up to her with big, surprised eyes.
“Mum, there’s a lady up there. At the kitchen door. All dressed up. A pretty lady. She wants to see you.”

Jennie gazed down at them disbelievingly. A lady, a pretty lady at her kitchen door? All dressed up! What that could mean! Was it possible someone had at last braved the stony lane to buy fruit? Maybe bushels of it!

“Did she come in a car?” Jennie asked quickly.
“No, she just walked in. She’s awful pretty. She smiled at us.”

Jennie’s hopes dropped. Of course. She might have known. Some agent likely, selling books. She followed the children wearily back along the path and in at the rear door of the kitchen. Across from it another door opened into the side yard. Here stood the stranger.
The two women looked at each other across the kitchen, across the table with the remains of two meals upon it, the strewn chairs, the littered stove—across the whole scene of unlovely disorder. They looked at each other in startled surprise, as inhabitants of Earth and Mars might look if they were suddenly brought face-to-face.

Jennie saw a woman in a gray tweed coat that seemed to be part of her straight, slim body. A small gray hat with a rose quill was drawn low over the brownish hair. Her blue eyes were clear and smiling. She was beautiful! And yet she was not young. She was in her forties, surely. But an aura of eager youth clung to her, a clean and exquisite freshness.

The stranger in her turn looked across at a young woman, haggard and weary. Her yellowish hair hung in straggling wisps. Her eyes looked hard and hunted. Her cheeks were thin and sallow. Her calico dress was shapeless and begrimed from her work.

So they looked at each other for one long, appraising second. Then the woman in gray smiled.
“How do you do? ” she began. “We ran our car into the shade of your lane to have our lunch and rest for a while. And I walked on up to buy a few apples, if you have them.”

Jennie stood staring at the stranger. There was an unconscious hostility in her eyes. This was one of the women from the highway. One of those envied ones who passed twinkling through the summer sunshine from pleasure to pleasure while Jennie slaved on.

But the pretty lady’s smile was disarming. Jennie started toward a chair and pulled off the old coat and apron that lay on it.

“Won’t you sit down?” she said politely. “I’ll go and get the apples. I’ll have to pick them off the tree. Would you prefer Rambos?”
“I don’t know what they are, but they sound delicious. You must choose them for me. But mayn’t I come with you? I should love to help pick them.”
Jennie considered. She felt baffled by the friendliness of the other woman’s face and utterly unable to meet it. But she did not know how to refuse.
“Why I s’pose so. If you can get through the dirt.”

She led the way over the back porch with its crowded baskets and pails and coal buckets, along the unkept path toward the orchard. She had never been so acutely conscious of the disorder about her. Now a hot shame brought a lump to her throat. In her preoccupied haste before, she had actually not noticed that tub of overturned milk cans and rubbish heap! She saw it all now swiftly through the other woman’s eyes. And then that new perspective was checked by a bitter defiance. Why should she care how things looked to this woman? She would be gone, speeding down the highway in a few minutes as though she had never been there.
She reached the orchard and began to drag a long ladder from the fence to the Rambo tree.
The other woman cried out in distress. “Oh, but you can’t do that! You mustn’t. It’s too heavy for you, or even for both of us. Please just let me pick a few from the ground.”
Jennie looked in amazement at the stranger’s concern. It was so long since she had seen anything like it.

“Heavy?” she repeated. “This ladder? I wish I didn’t ever lift anything heavier than this. After hoistin’ bushel baskets of tomatoes onto a wagon, this feels light to me.”
The stranger caught her arm. “But—but do you think it’s right? Why, that’s a man’s work.”
Jennie’s eyes blazed. Something furious and long-pent broke out from within her. “Right! Who are you to be askin’ me whether I’m right or not? What would have become of us if I didn’t do a man’s work? It takes us both, slaving away, an’ then we get nowhere. A person like you don’t know what work is! You don’t know—”

Jennie’s voice was the high shrill of hysteria; but the stranger’s low tones somehow broke through.

“Listen,” she said soothingly. “Please listen to me. I’m sorry I annoyed you by saying that, but now, since we are talking, why can’t we sit down here and rest a minute? It’s so cool and lovely here under the trees, and if you were to tell me all about it—because I’m only a stranger—perhaps it would help. It does sometimes, you know. A little rest would—”
“Rest! Me sit down to rest, an’ the wagon loaded to go to town? It’ll hurry me now to get back before dark.”

And then something strange happened. The other women put her cool, soft hand on Jennie’s grimy arm. There was a compelling tenderness in her eyes. “Just take the time you would have spent picking apples. I would so much rather. And perhaps somehow I could help you. I wish I could. Won’t you tell me why you have to work so hard?”
Jennie sank down on the smooth green grass. Her hunted, unwilling eyes had yielded to some power in the clear, serene eyes of the stranger. A sort of exhaustion came over her. A trembling reaction from the straining effort of weeks.

“There ain’t much to tell,” she said half sullenly, “only that we ain’t gettin’ ahead. We’re clean discouraged, both off us. Henry Davis is talking about foreclosin’ on us if we don’t pay some principle. The time of the mortgage is out this year, an’ mebbe he won’t renew it. He’s got plenty himself, but them’s the hardest kind.” She paused; then her eyes flared. “An’ it ain’t that I haven’t done my part. Look at me. I’m barely thirty, an’ I might be fifty. I’m so weather-beaten. That’s the way I’ve worked!”
“And you think that has helped your husband?”
“Helped him?” Jennie’s voice was sharp. “Why shouldn’t it help him?”

The stranger was looking away through the green stretches of orchard. She laced her slim hands together about her knees. She spoke slowly. “Men are such queer things, husbands especially. Sometimes we blunder when we are trying hardest to serve them. For instance, they want us to be economical, and yet they want us in pretty clothes. They need our work, and yet they want us to keep our youth and our beauty. And sometimes they don’t know themselves which they really want most. So we have to choose. That’s what makes it so hard.”

She paused. Jennie was watching her with dull curiosity as though she were speaking a foreign tongue. Then the stranger went on:

“I had to choose once, long ago; just after we were married, my husband decided to have his own business, so he started a very tiny one. He couldn’t afford a helper, and he wanted me to stay in the office while he did the outside selling. And I refused, even though it hurt him. Oh, it was hard! But I knew how it would be if I did as he wished. We would both have come back each night. Tired out, to a dark, cheerless house and a picked-up dinner. And a year if that might have taken something away from us—something precious. I couldn’t risk it, so I refused and stuck to it.”
 “And then how I worked in my house—a flat it was then. I had so little outside of our wedding gifts; but at least I could make it a clean, shining, happy place. I tried to give our little dinners the grace of a feast. And as the months went on, I knew I had done right. My husband would come home dead-tired and discouraged, ready to give up the whole thing. But after he had eaten and sat down in our bright little living room, and I had read to him or told him all the funny things I could invent about my day, I could see him change. By bedtime he had his courage back, and by morning he was at last ready to go out and fight again. And at last he won, and he won his success alone, as a man loves to do.”

Still Jennie did not speak. She only regarded her guest with a half-resentful understanding.
The woman in gray looked off again between the trees. Her voice was very sweet. A humorous little smile played about her lips.

“There was a queen once,” she went on, “who reigned in troublous days. And every time the country was on the brink of war and the people ready to fly into a panic, she would put on her showiest dress and take her court with her and go hunting. And when the people would see her riding by, apparently so gay and happy, they were sure all was well with the Government. So she tided over many a danger. And I’ve tried to be like her.

“Whenever a big crisis comes in my husband’s business—and we’ve had several—or when he’s discouraged, I put on my prettiest dress and get the best dinner I know how or give a party! And somehow it seems to work. That’s the woman’s part, you know. To play the queen—”
A faint honk-honk came from the lane. The stranger started to her feet. “That’s my husband. I must go. Please don’t bother about the apples. I’ll just take these from under the tree. We only wanted two or three, really. And give these to the children.” She slipped two coins into Jennie’s hand.
Jennie had risen, too, and was trying from a confusion of startled thoughts to select one for speech. Instead she only answered the other woman’s bright good-bye with a stammering repetition and a broken apology about the apples.

She watched the stranger’s erect, lithe figure hurrying away across the path that led directly to the lane. Then she turned her back to the house, wondering dazedly if she had only dreamed that the other woman had been there. But no, there were emotions rising hotly within her that were new. They had had no place an hour before. They had risen at the words of the stranger and at the sight of her smooth, soft hair, the fresh color in her cheeks, the happy shine of her eyes.

A great wave of longing swept over Jennie, a desire that was lost in choking despair. It was as thought she had heard a strain of music for which she had waited all her life and then felt it swept away into silence before she had grasped its beauty. For a few brief minutes she, Jennie Musgrave, had sat beside one of the women of the highway and caught a breath of her life—that life which forever twinkled in the past in bright procession, like the happenings of a fairy tale. Then she was gone, and Jennie was left as she had been, bound to the soil like one of the rocks of the field.
The bitterness that stormed her heart now was different from the old dull disheartenment. For it was coupled with new knowledge. The words of the stranger seemed more vivid to her than when she had sat listening in the orchard. But they came back to her with the pain of agony.

“All very well for her to talk so smooth to me about man’s work and woman’s work! An’ what she did for her husband’s big success. Easy enough for her to sit talking about queens! What would she do if she was here on this farm like me? What would a woman like her do?”

Jennie had reached the kitchen door and stood there looking at the hopeless melee about her. Her words sounded strange and hollow in the silence of the house. “Easy for her!” she burst out. She never had the work pilin’ up over her like I have. She never felt it at her throat like a wolf, the same as John an’ me does. Talk about choosin’! I haven’t got no choice. I just got to keep goin’—just keep goin’, like I always have—”

She stopped suddenly. There in the middle of the kitchen floor, where the other woman had passed over, lay a tiny square of white. Jennie crossed to it quickly and picked it up. A faint delicious fragrance like the dream of a flower came from it. Jennie inhaled it eagerly. It was not like any odor she had ever known. It made her think of sweet, strange things. Things she had never thought about before. Of gardens in the early summer dusk, of wide fair rooms with the moonlight shining in them. It made her somehow think with vague wistfulness of all that.

She looked carefully at the tiny square. The handkerchief was of fine, fairylike smoothness. In the corner a dainty blue butterfly spread his wings. Jennie drew in another long breath. The fragrance filled her senses again. Her first greedy draft had not exhausted it. It would stay for a while, at least.
She laid the bit of white down cautiously on the edge of the table and went to the sink, where she washed her hands carefully. The she returned and picked up the handkerchief again with something like reverence. She sat down, still holding it, staring at it. This bit of linen was to her an articulated voice. She understood its language. It spoke to her of white, freshly washed clothes blowing in the sunshine, of an iron moving smoothly, leisurely, to the accompaniment of a song over snowy folds; it spoke to her of quiet, orderly rooms and ticking clocks and a mending basket under the evening lamp; it spoke to her of all the peaceful routine of a well managed household, the kind she had once dreamed of having.

But more than this, the exquisite daintiness of it, the sweet, alluring perfume spoke to her of something else which her heart understood, even though her speech could have found no words for it. She could feel gropingly the delicacy, the grace, the beauty that made up the other woman’s life in all its relations.

She, Jennie, had none of that. Everything about their lives, hers and John’s, was coarsened, soiled somehow by the dragging, endless labor or the days.
Jennie leaned forward, her arms stretched tautly before her upon her knees, her hands clasped tightly over the fragrant bit of white. Suppose she were to try doing as the stranger had said. Suppose that she spent her time on the house and let the outside work go. What then? What would John say? Would they be much farther behind than they were now? Could they be? And suppose, by some strange chance, the other woman had been right! That a man could be helped more by doing of these other things she had neglected?

She sat very still, distressed, uncertain. Out in the barnyard waited the wagon of tomatoes, overripe now for market. No, she could do nothing today, at least, but go on as usual.
Then her hands opened a little; the perfume within them came up to her, bringing again that thrill of sweet, indescribable things.

She started up, half-terrified at her own resolve. “I’m goin’ to try it now. Mebbe I’m crazy, but I’m goin’ to do it anyhow!”

It was a long time since Jennie had performed such a meticulous toilet. It was years since she had brushed her hair. A hasty combing had been its best treatment. She put on her one clean dress, the dark voile reserved for trips to town. She even changed from her shapeless, heavy shoes to her best ones. Then, as she looked at herself in the dusty mirror, she saw that she was changed. Something, at least, of the hard haggardness was gone from her face, and her hair framed it with smooth softness. Tomorrow she would wash it. It used to be almost yellow.

She went to the kitchen. With something of the burning zeal of a fanatic, she attacked the confusion before her. By half past four the room was clean: the floor swept, the stove shining, dishes and pans washed and put in their places. From the tumbled depths of a drawer Jennie had extracted a white tablecloth that had been bought in the early days, for company only. With a spirit of daring recklessness she spread it on the table. She polished the chimney of the big oil lamp and then set the fixture, clean and shining, in the center of the white cloth.

Now the supper! And she must hurry. She planned to have it at six o’ clock and ring the big bell for John fifteen minutes before, as she used to just after they were married.

She decided upon fried ham and browned potatoes and applesauce with hot biscuits. She hadn’t made them for so long, but her fingers fell into their old deftness. Why, cooking was just play if you had time to do it right! Then she thought of the tomatoes and gave a little shudder. She thought of the long hours of backbreaking work she had put into them and called herself a little fool to have been swayed by the words of a stranger and the scent of a handkerchief, to neglect her rightful work and bring more loss upon John and herself. But she went on, making the biscuits, turning the ham, setting the table.

It was half past five; the first pan of flaky brown mounds had been withdrawn from the oven, the children’s faces and hands had been washed and their excited questions satisfied, when the sound of a car came from the bend. Jennie knew that car. It belonged to Henry Davis. He could be coming for only one thing.

The blow they had dreaded, fending off by blind disbelief in the ultimate disaster, was about to fall. Henry was coming to tell them he was going to foreclose. It would almost kill John. This was his father’s old farm. John had taken it over, mortgage and all, so hopefully, so sure he could succeed where his father had failed. If he had to leave now there would be a double disgrace to bear. And where could they go? Farms weren’t so plentiful.

Henry had driven up to the side gate. He fumbled with some papers in his inner pocket as he started up the walk. A wild terror filled Jennie’s heart. She wanted desperately to avoid meeting Henry Davis’ keen, hard face, to flee somewhere, anywhere before she heard the words that doomed them.
Then as she stood shaken, wondering how she could live through what the next hours would bring, she saw in a flash the beautiful stranger as she had sat in the orchard, looking off between the trees and smiling to herself. “There was once a queen.”

Jennie heard the words again distinctly just as Henry Davis’ steps sounded sharply nearer on the walk outside. There was only a confused picture of a queen wearing the stranger’s lovely, highbred face, riding gaily to the hunt through forests and towns while her kingdom was tottering. Riding gallantly on, in spite of her fears.

Jennie’s heart was pounding and her hands were suddenly cold. But something unreal and yet irresistible was sweeping her with it. “There was once a queen.”

She opened the screen door before Henry Davis had time to knock. She extended her hand cordially. She was smiling. “Well, how d’ you do, Mr. Davis. Come right in. I’m real glad to see you. Been quite a while since you was over.”

Henry looked surprised and very much embarrassed. “Why, no, now, I won’t go in. I just stopped to see John on a little matter of business. I’ll just—”

“You’ll just come right in. John will be in from milkin’ in a few minutes an’ you can talk while you eat, both of you. I’ve supper just ready. Now step right in, Mr. Davis!”

As Jennie moved aside, a warm, fragrant breath of fried ham and biscuits seemed to waft itself to Henry Davis’ nostrils. There was a visible softening of his features. “Why, no, I didn’t reckon on anything like this. I ‘lowed I’d just speak to John and then be gettin’ on.”

“They’ll see you at home when you get there,” Jennie put in quickly. “You never tasted my hot biscuits with butter an’ quince honey, or you wouldn’t take so much coachin’!”

Henry Davis came in and sat in the big, clean, warm kitchen. His eyes took in every detail of the orderly room: the clean cloth, the shining lamp, the neat sink, the glowing stove. Jennie saw him relax comfortably in his chair. Then above the aromas of the food about her, she detected the strange sweetness of the bit of white linen she had tucked away in the bosom of her dress. It rose to her as a haunting sense of her power as a woman.

She smiled at Henry Davis. Smiled as she would never have thought of doing a day ago. Then she would have spoken to him with a drawn face full of subservient fear. Now, though the fear clutched her heart, her lips smiled sweetly, moved by that unreality that seemed to possess her. “There was once a queen.”

“An’ how are things goin’ with you, Mr. Davis?” she asked with a blithe upward reflection.
Henry Davis was very human. He had never noticed before that Jennie’s hair was so thick and pretty and that she had such pleasant ways. Neither had he dreamed that she was such a good cook as the sight and smell of the supper things would indicate. He was very comfortable there in the big sweet-smelling kitchen.

He smiled back. It was an interesting experiment on Henry’s part, for his smiles were rare. “Oh, so-so. How are they with you?”

Jennie had been taught to speak the truth; but at this moment there dawned in her mind a vague understanding that the high loyalties of life are, after all, relative and not absolute.
She smiled again as she skillfully flipped a great slice of golden brown ham over in the frying pan.

“Why, just fine, Mr. Davis. We’re gettin’ on just fine, John an’ me. It’s been hard sleddin’ but I sort of think the worst is over. I think we’re goin’ to come out way ahead now. We’ll just be proud to pay off that mortgage so fast, come another year, that you’ll be surprised!”
It was said. Jennie marveled that the words had not choked her, had not somehow smitten her dead as she spoke them. But their effect on Henry Davis was amazingly good.

“That so?” he asked in surprise. “Well now, that’s fine. I always wanted to see John make a success of the old place, but somehow—well, you know it didn’t look as if—that is, there’s been some talk around that maybe John wasn’t just gettin’ along any too—you know. A man has to sort of watch his investments. Well, now, I’m glad things are pickin’ up a little.”

Jennie felt as though a tight hand at her throat had relaxed. She spoke brightly of the fall weather and the crops as she finished setting the dishes on the table and rang the big bell for John. There was delicate work yet to be done when he came in.

Little Jim had to be sent to hasten him before he finally appeared. He was a big man, John Musgrave, big and slow moving and serious. He had known nothing all his life but hard physical toil. Heaviness had pitted his great body against all the adverse forces of nature. There was a time when he had felt that strength such as his was all any man needed to bring him fortune. Now he was not so sure. The brightness of that faith was dimmed by experience.

John came to the kitchen door with his eyebrows drawn. Little Jim had told Jim that Henry Davis was there. He came into the room as an accused man faces the jury of his peers, faces the men who, though the same flesh and blood as he, are yet somehow curiously in a position to save or to destroy him.

John came in, and then he stopped, staring blankly at the scene before him. At Jennie moving about the bright table, chatting happily with Henry Davis! At Henry himself, his sharp features softened by an air of great satisfaction. At the sixth plate on the white cloth. Henry staying for supper!
But the silent deeps of John’s nature served him well. He made no comment. Merely shook hands
with Henry Davis and then washed his face at the sink.

Jennie arranged the savory dishes, and they sat down to supper. It was an entirely new experience to John to sit at the head of his own table and serve a generously heaped plate to Henry Davis. It sent through him a sharp thrill of sufficiency, of equality. He realized that before he had been cringing in his soul at the very sight of this man.

Henry consumed eight biscuits richly covered with quince honey, along with the heavier part of his dinner. Jennie counted them. She recalled hearing that the Davises did not set a very bountiful table; it was common talk that Mrs. Davis was even more “miserly” than her husband. But, however that was, Henry now seemed to grow more and more genial and expansive as he ate. So did John. By the time the pie was set before them, they were laughing over a joke Henry had heard at Grange meeting.
Jennie was bright, watchful, careful. If the talk lagged, she made a quick remark. She moved softly between table and stove, refilling the dishes. She saw to it that a hot biscuit was at Henry Davis’ elbow just when he was ready for it. All the while there was rising within her a strong zest for life that she would have deemed impossible only that morning. This meal, at least, was a perfect success, and achievements of any sort whatever had been few.

Henry Davis left soon after supper. He brought the conversation around awkwardly to his errand as they rose from the table. Jennie was ready.

“I told him, John, that the worst was over now, an’ we’re getting’ on fine!” She laughed. “I told him we’d be swampin’ him pretty soon with our payments. Ain’t that right John?”
John’s mind was not analytical. At that moment he was comfortable. He has been host at a delicious supper with his ancient adversary, whose sharp face marvelously softened. Jennie’s eyes were shining with a new and amazing confidence. It was a natural moment for unreasoning optimism.
“Why that’s right, Mr. Davis. I believe we can start clearin’ this off now pretty soon. If you could just see your way clear to renew the note mebbe. . . .”
 It was done. The papers were back in Davis’ pocket. They had bid him a cordial good-bye from the door.

“Next time you come, I will have biscuits for you, Mr. Davis,” Jennie had called daringly after him.

“Now you don’t forget that Mrs. Musgrave! They certainly ain’t hard to eat.”

He was gone. Jennie cleared the table and set the shining lamp in the center of the oilcloth covering. She began to wash the dishes. John was fumbling through the papers on a hanging shelf. He finally sat down with an old tablet and pencil. He spoke meditatively. “I believe I’ll do a little figurin’ since I’ve got time tonight. It just struck me that mebbe if I used my head a little more I’d get on faster.”
“Well now, you might,” said Jennie. It would not be John’s way to comment just yet on their sudden deliverance. She polished two big Rambo apples and placed them on a saucer beside him.
He looked pleased. “Now that’s what I like.” He grinned. Then making a clumsy clutch at her arm, he added, “Say, you look sort of pretty tonight.”

Jennie made a brisk coquettish business of freeing herself. “Go along with you!” she returned, smiling and started in again upon the dishes. But a hot wave of color had swept up in her shallow cheeks.

John had looked more grateful over her setting those two apples beside him now, than he had the day last fall when she lifted all the potatoes herself! Men were strange, as the woman in gray had said. Maybe even John had been needing something else more than he needed the hard, backbreaking work she had been doing.

She tidied up the kitchen and put the children to bed. It seemed strange to be through now, ready to sit down. All summer they had worked outdoors till bedtime. Last night she had been slaving over apple butter until she stopped, exhausted, and John had been working in the barn with the lantern. Tonight seemed so peaceful, so quiet. John still sat at the table, figuring while he munched his apples. His brows were not drawn now. There was a new, purposeful light upon his face.

Jennie walked to the doorway and stood looking off through the darkness and through the break in the trees at the end of the lane. Bright and golden lights kept glittering across it, breaking dimly through the woods, flashing out strongly for a moment, then disappearing behind the hill. Those were the lights of the happy cars that never stopped in their swift search for far and magic places. Those were the lights of the highway which she had hated. But she did not hate it now. For today it had come to her at last and left with her some of its mysterious pleasure.

Jennie wished, as she stood there, that she could somehow tell the beautiful stranger in the gray coat that her words had been true, that she, Jennie, insofar as she was able, was to be like her and fulfill her woman’s part.

For while she was not figuring as John was doing, yet her mind had been planning, sketching in details, strengthening itself against the chains of old habits, resolving on new ones; seeing with sudden clearness where they had been blundered, where they had made mistakes that farsighted, orderly management could have avoided. But how could John have sat down to figure in comfort before, in the kind of kitchen she had been keeping?

Jennie bit her lip. Even if some of the tomatoes spoiled, if all of them spoiled, there would be a snowy washing on her line tomorrow; there would be ironing the next day in her clean kitchen. She could sing as she worked. She used to when she was a girl. Even if the apples rotted on the trees, there were certain things she knew now that she must do, regardless of what John might say. It would pay better in the end, for she had read the real needs of his soul from his eyes that evening. Yes, wives had to choose for their husbands sometimes.

A thin haunting breath of sweetness rose from the bosom of her dress where the scrap of white linen lay. Jennie smiled into the dark. And tomorrow she would take time to wash her hair. It used to be yellow—and she wished she could see the stranger once more, just long enough to tell her she understood.

As a matter of fact, at that very moment, many miles along the sleek highway, a woman in a gray coat, with a soft gray hat and a rose quill, leaned suddenly close to her husband as he shot the high-powered car through the night. Suddenly he glanced down at her and slackened the speed.

“Tired?” he asked. “You haven’t spoken for miles. Shall we stop at this next town?”
The woman shook her head. “I’m all right, and I love to drive at night. It’s only—you know—that poor woman at the farm. I can’t get over her wretched face and house and everything. It—it was hopeless!”

The man smiled down at her tenderly. “Well, I’m sorry, too, if it was all as bad as your description; but you mustn’t worry. Good gracious, darling, you’re not weeping over it, I hope!”

“No, truly, just a few little tears. I know it’s silly, but I did so want to help her, and I know now that what I said must have sounded perfectly insane. She wouldn’t know what I was talking about. She just looked up with that blank, tired face. And it all seemed so impossible. No, I’m not going to cry. Of course I’m not—but—lend me your handkerchief, will you dear? I’ve lost mine somehow!”

"Every Heart Beats True ‘Neath the Red, White, and Blue" -berry Cobbler that is…

What says “Americana-Summer” more than a blueberry cobbler? It is yummy fresh out of the oven, or room temperature the day after. A cobbler consists of a thick crust and fruit filling. This specific recipe does not use the traditional biscuit-like crust. It does however, layer the fruit between a flour based, butter crust which still allows it to be considered a cobbler.  During the time of its invention, the Pilgrims that came to America would  alter the traditional family recipes to fit their new environment. If ingredients in the recipes weren’t available, they would improvise. This led to the diversity of the many different recipes.  Similarly, the lack of consistent ingredient availability made way for other delicious culinary creations. A single recipe could have been used for cobblers, crumbles, pan-dowdies, crisps, Betties, buckles, crumbles, grunts, slumps, sonkers, and many other cobbler-like dishes.
I hope that you enjoy this recipe!
Blueberry Cobbler- Leinbach Family Recipe

Crust:                                                 Filling:
1 c. Hazelnuts                                     ½ c. granulated sugar
2 c. All- purpose flour                         1 ½ TB cornstarch

½ c. granulated sugar                          1quart of canned Blueberries
¾ c. chilled butter cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 450F. In a food processor, process nuts until finely ground. In a large bowl, mix nuts, flour, sugar, and cut in butter until the mixture crumbles. In a separate bowl, mix the berries, sugar and cornstarch until the berries are evenly coated. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Evenly spread the filling over the crust and sprinkle the second layer of crust over the top. Bake until the top is golden (Approx 30min).

Let cool and serve warm.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This yummy traditional favorite is easy to make and even easier to eat!

Ingredients:

1/2c butter
1 1/3c packed brown sugar
32oz sliced (or chunked pineapple)-drained
1c Maraschino Cherries- drained

1French Vanilla box mix

Preheat oven to 350F

Melt butter in a 9×13 pan in the oven. After it is melted, sprinkle all of the brown sugar over the bottom of the pan. Arrange pineapple slices flat on the bottom and put one cherry in the center of each slice. Make the cake batter according to the packaged instructions and pour over pineapples.

Bake for 35 min or until the cake is fully cooked and golden brown.

Serve warm.

(If you prepare it the day before you serve it, cover the pan and put it in the fridge. It will have a richer flavor when reheated the next day.)

From the Kitchen of Linda Inman

The Lost Art of Baking Bread

Who doesn’t love the smell of baking bread? It’s warm and makes you just feel good.
When freshly baked bread comes out of the oven and is set to cool on the counter of a nicely clean kitchen, everything seems right with the world. Nothing really matters except waiting for it to cool so it can be eaten with butter. All politics, drama, worry, disappears when a hot loaf of bread is sitting right in front of you. Doesn’t it?

Many people are afraid of baking bread. Yeasty breads take a lot of attention; they have to be proofed, mixed just right, kneaded to perfection, and formed. This might seem like a daunting task, but if you start off slow, it can be really easy, and even really fun!

Now, when I just said it would be easy and fun, a thousand images of ruined attempts and baking bread probably just flashed through your mind. Attempts where the bread machine broke, the loaf comes out disformed, the yeast didn’t proof, the dough turned to paste, flour is everywhere, your counter is covered in who knows what, flat unrisen dough is all over your clothes, gooey bread that didn’t cook all the way through is stuck to the pan; and the worst memory yet, after all of your diligent preperation, after hours of waiting for the first rise, punching it down and letting it rise again overnight, getting your hopes up that you have finally made the perfect loaf of bread, are decimated when you get called away from the oven, the dough is cooked a little too long, you are left with rocks.

SO.

Here is what you need to do. STOP! Stop worrying. Stop fretting. Stop being afraid. Just Breathe. 

Making bread from scratch is not really as difficult as it sounds. Even with yeast bread, the only thing that is truly difficult is not getting stressed if something doesn’t go picture perfect. That just means you might need to get creative.

Without further ado, let’s learn how to make a basic bread dough.  

Well you can’t exactly just start baking unless you have a recipe…This is one of our favorites. It makes fabulous dough in about 20min and rolls in about 30 min

note: If you decide to use the dough for loaves, for pizza or what have you, the cooking time will change.

30min Rolls:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Bake for 10-12min

1 1/4c Warm Water(make sure it is warm not hot or boiling)

1/3 c Oil (most oils work well for this dough. although, I wouldn’t recomend any that are solid at room temperature…such as coconut oil…I generally use generic olive or canola oils the difference in taste between them is minor)
2TB instant yeast (we could proof the regular yeast, but that can get messy and sometimes makes the bread making process stressful if one is unsure of what they are doing.It is also roughly the same cost as regular yeast and doesn’t require the 15 min proofing time.)

1/4 c Honey or Sugar (honey stickier, but I prefer to use it to sugar. Sugar is quicker, but honey has more nutritive values, and I think it tastes better…)

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

3 1/2- 4 c Flour (I generally use All-Purpose white flour, but when we truly make bread entirely from scratch, we grind about a 50/50 blend of hard-red and soft-white wheat.)

Now. You have the recipe, so tie your apron strings and let’s start with the basics.

When baking most anything (especially yeast breads), you want to remember to mix you dry ingredients seperately from you wet ingredients, then combine them wet to dry (unless instructed differently by the recipe). This ensures that the yeast will activate before it is combined with the flour.

An easy way to remember how to start this recipe is by remembering “First Four First”.

In a medium bowl, combine the first for ingredients (water, oil, yeast, and sugar/ honey).
Mix it all thoroughly.

Then add the egg and salt. Break the egg and again mix it thoroughly.

In a larger bowl (preferably a large metal one), put the flour. Make an indentation in the middle of  the flour mound.
Slowly pour the now wet ingredients in the center of flour. It will look slightly like a large flour volcanoe is spewing frothy egg.

With a spatula or spoon, mix the ingredients until a dough forms. You may need to add flour or water until the dough is a good consitancy. It needs to be wet enough to be able to form it, but dry enough to work with it and not stick to your hands/ spoon.

Now you have a beautiful dough. The next step is to knead it.

Remember that if you don’t knead it enough, it will not have the right consistancy, but if you over knead it, the dough will become really tough. Don’t fear!

Keep the dough in the metal bowl and start to knead the dough with the spoon/spatula.

If it starts to get difficult with the spoon, start using a pastry scraper or your hand. remember to keep your hand relatively flat when working with the dough.
If you plunge your fingers into it, you will make a mess, and your hand could get stuck.

While you are working with the dough in the bowl, you may still need to add some water or flour (depending on your particular dough).

Now for the fun part!

Sprinkle flour on a flat surface (a counter, bread board, pan, wax paper, etc). Slide the dough out of the bowl and onto your floured surface (the flour helps it not to stick to the counter). Knead the bread with your palms away from you. Pick up the dough from underneath to move it. Use your hands like paddles when rearanging your dough. Knead it until you see it “tear” slightly when you push it away from you.

When you feel that it is ready, you can decide to make it into rolls or use it for other purposes.

For Rolls:

On your floured surface, form the dough into a loaf shape. Round the top so that it is smooth. Using your pastry scraper, or a sharp knife, cut the dough into even sizes. For 1 dozen rolls, it gets cut in half, reformed into two loaves. Those loaves are cut into thirds, reformed and each third is cut in half.

Form the smaller pieces of dough into a roll shape. Make sure that each roll is smooth on the top. The bottom does not need to be as smooth, but each roll needs to look uniform from the top.  Place formed rolls on a greased cookie sheet.

 
Bake for 10 -12 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown.
Be careful because they might be moist on the inside and golden on the outside.
A good way to check is to pull the rolls slightly out of the oven and gently nudge one. If it is slightly firm to the touch, it is done. If it still feels doughy, keep it cooking a little longer.
Let it cool. Doesnt’ that smell wonderful?

See? Bread isn’t that hard! It just takes practice. The more you practice, the easier it gets. Don’t be afraid, just try it!

If you have questions, need advice, have any tips/ recipes, or just want to chat, feel free to email or leave a comment!

Lemon-Berry Cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes:

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325° degrees.
2. Line cupcake pan with baking cups

3. In a large bowl cream 
butter and sugar, with an electric mixer, until pale and fluffy-about 4-5 minutes.

4. Add eggs, one at a time until mixture becomes creamy,
5. In a separate bowl whisk to combine flour, baking soda and salt.
6. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk to butter mixture, in 3-4 batches. Mix each addition just until ingredients incorporate—do not over mix.
7. Add lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix batter for an additional minute. Batter should be light and fluffy.

8. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cake tester/toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Place pan on wire rack and cool completely before removing from pan.
Once cooled, frost cupcakes.
Buttercream Frosting:

1/2 cup shortening

1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened


     

 1.Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla.

 2. Gradually add sugar,
1 cup at a time. Blend well.

Blackberry Buttercream Frosting:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup blackberry puree (or as much as needed to add minimal flavor)

1. Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla.
2. Gradually add sugar, 1 cup at a time. Blend well.
3. Add Blackberry puree and beat until light and fluffy.
 (if frosting is dry, add 1 TB milk)

These cupcakes were served as dessert at a Church function. We brought about three dozen, and within the about 45min, there were six left.

Have a blessed day!

Cottage Pie? Don’t you mean Shepherds’ Pie?

A Brief History
So before we get into the food tutorial, let’s have a history lesson.
What Americans refer today as “Shepherds’ Pie” is actually called “Cottage Pie”.  
Both dishes have meat, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. So what’s the big deal?
Cottage Pie originated in Britain/ Ireland around 1791.  During this time, the people were experiencing financial hardships.  Then came the discovery of the tuber. Yes, they realized the many different uses of the potato.  A poor family could eat potatoes mashed, boiled, scalloped, baked, etc. As an added bonus, they were relatively inexpensive to grow or buy at the market.  Potatoes changed the diet of every low income family during this time.  So mothers and wives started to get creative, and they invented this wonderful thing called Cottage Pie.  They could take the meat and other vegetables they prepared during the week and have a new meal with what was leftover.
So why isn’t it just called Shepherds’ Pie?
Shepherds’ Pie was not actually created until 1877.  Shepherds pie has mutton or lamb not beef.
Put simply:
Cottage Pie = Poor Man’s Pie (poor people lived in cottages)= beef
Shepherds’ Pie= Sheep Pie (shepherds herd sheep)= lamb or mutton
That’s about the only difference…
Okay. So we are done with the history lesson. Let’s get Cookin’!
Ingredients for Cottage Pie: 
  1. 2 pints(1 quart or 32oz) of ground beef browned with onion
  2. 1 quart (32oz) of cooked/ skinned tomatoes
  3. 3c. instant potato pearls + enough Hot water to reconstitute potatoes
  4. 4c. mix of corn and halved green beans
  5. about 1/2 c. dried Carrots
  6. about 1/2 c. dried Celery
  7. 1/2c. dried onion
  8. salt and pepper for preferred flavor
  9. parsley
  10. brown rice flour 

Oh…and if you are curious, yes this is all food storage…

(shhh it’s a secret)
Okay so now what?
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 192 degrees Celsius.
In a skillet, add tomatoes and cut to bite-sized pieces.
Add celery, carrots, parsley, salt and pepper to smell.
 
Let tomatoes cook down slightly then add meat and onion to taste.
Let cook down further. Salt and pepper to taste

If the meat and tomatoes are too runny for your taste, put about a half cup of fluid in a bowl and thicken slightly with flour. Add the impromptu gravy back into the skillet and mix with the rest of the dish. We used about two table spoons of brown rice flour to keep the recipe gluten free. Because wheat flour has gluten and brown rice flour doesn’t, you will use less wheat flour than rice flour when thickening your meal.
Next, grease a casserole dish and add the meat and tomatoes from the skillet to the pan.  There should be plenty to get a good layer on the bottom.  On top of the meat, layer the corn and beans. 

Cover the entire dish with the mashed potatoes.  Spread it out evenly across the top (it’s similar to frosting a cake).

Bake at 350 F for 30min. or until the crust barely browned.
If you want fluffy potatoes, guard the top with tin foil…either entirely covered, or as you would with a traditional pie.

If you notice the upper right hand corner or the picture, the juice from the meat and tomatoes boiled a slightly to the top. When the potatoes are barely golden and it is boiling, that means it’s done.
It’s easy, it’s cheap, and it tastes good.
We hope that you enjoy your Cottage Pie!