Friday, September 25, 2020

Rooftop Birthday Dinner

 Missy Tippens

We recently had a family birthday dinner for my daughter. I can't believe my youngest has turned  24! How does time pass so quickly?

We met at her new apartment (which happens to be in the same complex my son lives in--which is nice to know big brother can keep an eye on her). :)

We wore masks while we were briefly inside, but had the dinner outside at a great rooftop gathering area, one of the perks at their apartment building.

Here are some great views of the Atlanta skyline from the roof!





And here we are eating...

We had amazing food from Holy Taco! I hate to admit the birthday girl took this photo, so I don't have any good photos of her! (I know. Awful mom.) But here is one my husband took that shows her handing out the food (back right).


We had a great evening, perfect weather, and a really nice time together outside. As we were leaving, I took these great shots of the city.



I look forward to the day we can go out to restaurants again safely for our big birthday dinners. Until then, we can enjoy some wonderful times with outside get-togethers.

How have your celebrations changed in the last few months?


www.missytippens.com


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Kitchen Fails Turned Into Hits in the Pumpkin Patch!

 



One of our pumpkin displays inspired by the cover of Harris Seeds catalogue!
Cute model not for sale! 


Daughter Beth takes her inspiration from all kinds of things, and cool garage sale finds! Now back to our regularly scheduled story!

I cannot be interrupted while baking for the pumpkin patch, it seems.

I've messed up a couple of standard recipes when folks interrupt me, then I come back wondering did I put all six cups of flour into the cookies or only three?

That leads to chaos... and some goofy cookies! 

But sometimes it creates opportunities!

The latest mess up was a combination of errors where it started with no mistake...

But I thought I made a mistake! So that was enough for me to then outsmart myself, make the first half of the recipe in Mixer #2, and then blend it with recipe in Mixer #1 and then.... 

Baked the first trays.... 

Only to realize I'd messed up.

Christina repurposing a former chicken coop that's now a firewood crib for customers!

So I adjusted and did sample trays, but by the time I got the ratio back to where it needed to be, I had six trays of these thin, crispy chocolate chip cookies that TASTED GREAT!!!!! But they weren't our norm, so I couldn't just sell them as our norm.... so I cut them into pieces and fed the masses and they loved 'em! So that was a good outcome, right???

Then my new baking partner Jon (let me say in Jon's defense, this kitchen is crazy on fall weekends, because there's always food being made for workers and baking and approximately 7 children under age 11 running here and there).... messed up a peanut butter cookie recipe that is now going into the file as a total and saleable success.

He halved the butter by thinking it said two sticks, not two cups.

Oops! 

Unloading pumpkins from the trusty pickup truck with workers of all ages!

But they were so good that I melted chocolate frosting, dipped the cookie tops twice, cooled them and sold them and people loved them! 

And I probably don't have pics because it's so busy then that I'm never thinking of pictures. Silly me!!!

I'm actually making those cookies again today to prepare for our upcoming busy, busy, busy weekend.

At least we think it will be busy. Beautiful weather and pumpkins and cookies are an amazing thing!

A fun weekend afternoon! 

My fifth graders that visit me 3 days/week... We've got this! 

I am not above tackling folks for photos because this mom had THE LOOK! Great pants, the saddle bag purse, the hat, and the wrap-around sweater. :) And yes, she knows I'm posting it! 

My 5th graders and donkeys!!! 

We're gearing up for another busy weekend this week... gorgeous weather predicted and we've got pumpkins and squash to sell... and other fun things, too! We are so blessed with the joy this venture brings to people. The chance to be outside, in a big, open environment, masks or no masks (their choice) and good friends gathering to make all of this happen.

Our volunteer crew on the weekend is amazing and we couldn't make this happen without them. They are the backbone of this business... well, them and Farmer Dave! 

And right now, in the thick of this, we see these blessings and the joy this brings to so many, and we are already talking about how we can expand for next year. But first... we're going to enjoy the work of so many hands this year!


Every fall, multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne dons her farm and baking hat and works on her Western New York pumpkin farm doing jams and cookies and schmoozing customers because she loves schmoozing people while writing books in the middle of the night... She'd love to hear from you! Email Ruthy at loganherne@gmail.com, visit her website ruthloganherne.com and friend Ruthy on Facebook! 


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Making My Way Through the Pandemic, One Coffeecake at a Time

 We all have our guilty pleasures. 


Right?


Mindy shared her "No Guilt Cheesecake Mousse" 3:00 snacks yesterday.


My guilty pleasure is coffee cake.


But since I was housebound for 6 months, and had no working stove, I learned to love mail order.


My Grandma's of New England Coffee Cake, to be specific. Perfect for the Yanks in Yankee Belle. (Or anyone for that matter.)

Over the last 6 months, I have tried many of their flavors, but I have 2 definite favorites.

Walnut Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake tastes fabulous for breakfast with coffee, or now, as a late afternoon snack after a long day of school.




The Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chocolate Chip tastes like a decadent brownie when it is warmed.




This beauty is the original Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake.


I don't have a photo of the Banana Walnut that I tried back in May. That was my consolation while everyone was pandemic baking Banana Bread.


I had the Red White and Blue Patriot Cake in July. It's more of a pound cake taste filled with cranberries and blueberries.



I have a Lemon Poppy waiting for me in the freezer. Doesn't it sound perfect for a late afternoon tea?


Okay, we've fessed up. What are some of your guilty eating/snacking pleasures?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

No-Guilt Cheesecake Mousse

Life's little interruptions. They're inevitable, you know. And occur frequently when facing any sort of deadline. So it's always best to get the upper hand whenever possible. Write those extra words. Put dinner in the CrockPot early in the day so you won't be scrambling at suppertime. And make up a batch of your favorite grab-and-go sweet treats so you aren't left wishing you had one when you want something sweet yet have no time to make anything. This is particularly true if you're trying to stay within a specific eating lifestyle. Which, for me, is low-carb. But when the cravings come calling around 3 PM, making smart choices can be difficult.

With only four ingredients, this No-Guilt Cheesecake Mousse is easy to make AND can be made with real sugar or sugar substitutes. 

You'll need:
  • 8 oz brick cream cheese
  • 8 oz heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered Erythritol (you can use powdered sugar, if you prefer) OR 1/4 cup plus one tablespoon Truvia or other stevia blend
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
Whip the cream to stiff peaks and set aside. In another bowl, blend the cream cheese, sweetener and vanilla until fluffy. Add whipped cream and mix on low to combine. Pipe or spoon into individual serving dishes, cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until you're ready to grab one. For grab-and-go portions, the small 4 oz mason jars are perfect.
I love this because it's tasty, low carb, filling, and doesn't spike my blood sugar. And that keeps me going instead of tanking my energy. Oh, and it makes a great dessert, too.

What are some of your favorite grab-and-go snacks?

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, one sassy pup, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at mindyobenhaus.com

 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Amish Sugar Cookies revisited

Jan here, strolling down memory lane. Come on along!

Years ago, probably about five million, I was a little girl. 

That's me, in the red sweatshirt. My brother
and I were having a yard sale.
Treasures abound!

I was blessed to have two grandmothers, and I loved them both.

But you know that while grandmothers have lots of things in common, each grandma is special in her own way. Do I hear an "amen?"

My dad's mother (a widow at an early age) lived an hour away in the same town in Indiana where I later (much later) lived with my own family. She's the one who taught me to quilt and sew, and even though she had sixteen grandchildren, she always found a way to show me how special I was to her.

My dad's parents soon after they
married in 1928

My mom's mother and father lived two hours away, and spent their winters in Florida. So we didn't get to see them as often. But this grandma had her own way to tell us how much she loved us.

My mom's parents
around 1962

Every time we went to visit, we could always count on there being a tin of special cookies on top of the refrigerator - Grandma's Sugar Cookies. 




Here's the recipe:


Ingredients:


2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

5 rounded teaspoons baking powder

7-8 cups flour to make a stiff batter

1 1/2 cups milk


note: notice there is no salt in this recipe - that isn't a typo. There is no salt.


Cream together the butter and sugar, and then add the vanilla and the eggs. Stir together the baking powder and FIVE cups of the flour (the rest is to add later, if needed). Add in the flour mixture and the milk, alternately - this part is important - beating after each addition.


While you're mixing in the flour and milk, keep telling yourself you're making cake, not cookies. With cookies you're trying to make a dough - with cake you're making a delicate batter.


Believe me, you want a batter for these cookies. Grandma told me "the softer the batter, the better." But at the same time, it needs to be a bit thicker than a regular cake batter. You can add more flour than the original five cups if you need to - the amount of flour depends on your air temperature, humidity, altitude, etc. When we lived in the humid lowlands, I used more flour than I do now in the semi-arid highlands.


Refrigerate the batter for a couple hours.



While we're waiting for the batter to chill, let's take a rabbit trail to a different memory  - 


I included these cookies and the memories of my grandmother in my debut novel, "The Prodigal Son Returns," published by Love Inspired Historical more than seven years ago.


You can order
this book here

In the story, Ellie Miller is a widow with three children, and among the people in her life are her husband's elderly aunt and uncle, Miriam and Hezekiah Miller. They had provided a home for Ellie's husband from the time he was sixteen until he married, and they were the closest thing he had to parents after being orphaned as a young boy.


Every time Ellie takes her children to visit Grossmutti and Grossdawdi (Grandma and Grandpa), Grossmutti Miriam always has a container of these soft sugar cookies waiting for them. Sometimes four-year-old Susan is afraid Grossmutti will forget to make the cookies, but seven-year-old Johnny knows better. After all, what would Grossdawdi Hezekiah eat if there weren't any cookies?


But of course Miriam, just like my own Grandma, never forgot to have a fresh batch of these delicious cookies waiting whenever her grandchildren came to visit.


My Grandma always kept the cookies in a big round tin on top of her refrigerator, waiting for us. She never forgot to make them. When I was little, I was convinced she always had those cookies there for her and Grandpa to eat every day. But as I grew older I learned the truth - she made them just for us.


I worked for years to be able to make these cookies the right way. I knew I had done it when I took a batch to my brother one time. He took one bite and said "Now these are Grandma's cookies!"



Oh, and speaking of cookies!!! Has the dough been in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours? Then it's time to get that oven going!


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.


Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 3/8" thick...or between 1/4" and 1/2" if you like to guesstimate :)


And be generous with the flour - remember that you made a cake batter, not a cookie dough. Treat the soft batter gently, and use plenty of flour while you're rolling.


Cut out round cookies, or whatever shape you like. I use my great-grandmother's biscuit cutter because...well...it just seems right to do it that way.


Around Valentine's Day, I color the dough pink dough and cut out some heart shapes!


Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until they're done. You can tell they're done by lightly touching the top of one of them with your finger. If the depression stays, the cookie needs another minute of baking. But if it springs back, it's done. And don't let the edges get brown - that means they're too well done.


If you find your cookies are browning before the spring test says they're done, lower the heat on your oven a bit.



What memories do you have of your grandmothers? Or maybe you have a special "adopted" grandmother? Tell us about those special women in your life!





Jan Drexler has always been a "book girl" who still loves to spend time within the pages of her favorite books. She lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her dear husband of many years and their active, crazy dogs, Jack and Sam. You can learn more about Jan and her books on her website, www.JanDrexler.com.



Friday, September 18, 2020

Easy Shrimp and Corn Chowder

 Missy Tippens

Hey, everyone! I know it's still hot in a lot of places like here in Georgia. However, last week, the humidity and temp were lower, and I felt as if I'd gotten an ever so slight hint of fall.

I also made chowder! 

Ingredients:

about 4 red/new potatoes, cubed (skins on)

1 pound of shrimp (peeled and deveined)

3 TBS flour

3 TBS butter

Seafood broth or Veggie broth (about 5 cups)

1 bag frozen corn (10-12 ounces) or fresh corn (cut off the cob)

2 cloves of fresh, chopped garlic (or used the jarred garlic like I usually do!)

Optional: chopped green onions (white part and a little of the green part)

Plain cream cheese (about 3 TBS)



Cook the garlic and green onions in the butter until softened. Add the flour to make a roux. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cook a couple of minutes, stirring it (to cook out the raw flour taste). Then whisk in the broth. Once the flour is mixed in, add in the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. (This was something new to me, and it made it really good!)

Now add the potatoes. Cover to bring back to a boil. Then remove cover and reduce heat. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Then at the end, add the shrimp and corn and simmer until shrimp are pink and opaque.

This turned out really good! My husband liked it better when we had it leftover with sliced links of smoked turkey sausage added. It made it a little heartier. However, I liked the lightness of it, even though it's creamy.

Now, the best part is to show off our new baby! My son and daughter-in-law got a puppy! I'm in love already.



In her toy basket. :)

Welcome to our world, Whitney! 💕


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Giving Back is Always Good!

This post isn't about us. 

It's about them. Honor Flight and Golisano Children's Hospital for Children, the two charities that perform a wonderful service to so many.


Each year on the farm we sponsor two non-profits for notice. We try to draw people's attention to them, to give them a shout out during our busy weekends and for that short season, shine the spotlight on them. This year we're doing Golisano Children's Hospital in Rochester and Honor Flight.

Having a Children's Hospital close by is huge for the City of Rochester and Monroe County, but even more, this hospital is a beacon of hope for a huge rural area that spans from the Pennsylvania border (the Southern Tier of Northern Appalachia, where I've set many novels) to Lake Ontario and from Buffalo to Syracuse. That's a huge area... and because it services such a large area, we have two Ronald McDonald houses for families. One is off-site, a few blocks from the hospital and one is in-hospital, where parents can stay while their little ones are undergoing treatment. God bless Tom Golisano for putting his fortunes to good use for the community at large. He's done wonderful things for New York and Florida, for kids, schools, hospitals and so much more. 

On a personal level we are doing this in memory of two babies gone home to heaven too soon. Our little nephew, Alan at six months of age and our newborn cousin Lacey. Despite best efforts, these little souls shine down on us from heaven because sometimes the disease defies the science. 

But it's also in honor of our beautiful MacKenzie who was stricken with Kawasaki Disease several years ago and was successfully treated at Golisano after confusing her doctors for several days and worrying an entire family.... As you can see, IVs and Holt monitors don't deter Grandpas from grandkid snuggles! 

This is Kenzie last year.... with little sister Morgan. Hale, hearty and healthy! 

And for the successful treatment of little Roman, a tiny cousin who was diagnosed with an aggressive leukemia at age two. Roman is now a busy young fellow, going to school and living life, a wonderful outcome!

Sometimes science prevails!

And Honor Flight is a wonderful program that offers veterans a chance to visit the nation's capitol. It is an all expenses paid opportunity and the program is designed to make sure that our aged vets, the men and women who served our country, have the chance to see the memorials in Washington D.C. Each veteran travels with a "guide", a person who accompanies them on the trip to ensure their comfort. Wheelchairs are available for each veteran so that they're not over-taxed by the long walks from place to place. It's an amazing opportunity and shows our veterans the love and respect they so richly deserve. These pics are from the Monroe County Airport when Paul Sr.'s group was deplaning a few years ago...

Waiting to greet the veterans!

Bring on the RED, WHITE and BLUE!

Folks gathering along the path the veterans will walk. 

Paul Sr. and Mandy (his guide) arriving in the parade of veterans!

On weekends our Honor Flight table is set up and our friend Paul Tramonto Sr. is often there, a veteran of the Korean War, talking with people...

And by the donkey pen we have two FANCY coffee cans that explain what the "Donkey Area Fundraiser" is all about. In the past we've done hurricane relief and Haiti relief and the farm matches all money raised at the donkey area. 

The joy of this is that we raise awareness and visibility and we help others while people have fun! 

Jerry Lewis used to do a telethon for muscular dystrophy and he used to say that giving to help others is a selfish thing because it makes the giver feel so good! :) He was right.

The more we do for others, the more we set the example for being the eyes and hands of Christ right here on earth. Shining a light on these two organizations is just one way of putting a hand out in peace and justice and joy. There are no color or creed lines in honor and medicine... there's just love.



Multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne has published over 60 novels and novellas, she loves life, God, her family, her country and she's not afraid to bleed red, white and blue and to stand for life. She is blessed to own a pumpkin farm that welcomes folks in every fall and for eight weeks she laughs, bakes, serves, sells, sorts, displays and does all things pumpkin... before quiet reigns once more. Email Ruthy at loganherne@gmail.com, visit her website ruthloganherne.com or friend Ruthy on Facebook!