The family that peels potatoes together …

December 30, 2010

… a few hours later eats together!

Lulu and I peeled potatoes together.  We had fun while we were doing it — a nice memory to share.

When we were at DD’s the day after Christmas, we made a meal that is a long-time family favorite, roast beef with vegetables.  I have never tasted a potato, carrot or onion in my life that tasted better than the ones that are cooked with a pot roast!

Mama’s Pot Roast

(amounts of all of these ingredients are subject to personal preference)

* 3 to 4 lbs. of boneless chuck roast  (I don’t think I’ve ever made less than 3 lbs. but I have put in so much roast that the whole bottom of the roaster was covered.)

* Worcestershire sauce

* garlic salt

* white potatoes, peeled, rinsed and then either halved or quartered, depending on size of potatoes

* bagged baby carrots that are already peeled

* large white onion or two, peeled and quartered


Put 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.

Wash the roast, dredge it in flour and then brown on both sides in the skillet.

Put the browned roast in a large granite roaster.  Fill the roaster with water just short of level with the top of the roast.  Sprinkle the top of the roast generously with Worcestershire sauce and then garlic salt.   (You want the W. sauce and garlic salt to stick to the top of the meat, so the water level can’t be high enough to wash it off.  Also, g. salt is after W. sauce because in the other order, the W. sauce would wash the g. salt off the roast).

Put the lid on the roaster and put in a pre-heated 375 degree oven.

Prepare the vegetables and add to the roaster (the more of them you can get in the water around the edges, the better) about a half hour later.  Generously salt and pepper the vegetables after they’re in the roaster.  Replace the lid and return to the oven.

Cook for approximately another 2 1/2 hours. (This varies depending on the amounts of all the ingredients.)

When you start salivating because of the wonderful smell filling your kitchen, and when you stick a meat fork into the roast and the veggies and they are all fall-apart done, it’s ready!  The pan juices make wonderful gravy, or you can just strain them and use them as-is as gravy.

Our traditional side dish for this is green beans.

Essen Gutt! (Good Eating!)

The art of a heart-felt thanks

December 29, 2010

On Christmas Eve day, Hubby and I went to the mall (yes, us and thousands of other crazy people). At lunchtime we went to one of the restaurants to eat before going home. Just after we sat down, one of our nephews walked in with his four small children. They stopped at our table for a minute to say hello, and then were seated on the far side of the restaurant.

When we were ready to leave, Hubby in the spirit of the season, told our waitress that he would like to pay our nephew’s bill too. She arranged that and he told her to just have their waitress say Merry Christmas from his aunt and uncle when it came time for our nephew to pay.

It felt good to get to buy lunch for our nephew and his children.  Just last summer, after much prayerful consideration, he gave up his job in banking and he and his family moved back to the area so that he could attend the seminary and become a pastor. We believe he will make a wonderful pastor and we’re proud of him and his wife both for being willing to make the sacrifices it requires for him to go back to school, even for such a worthwhile reason.  Fortunately, his wife is an IT person who can work from anywhere in the world, so she was able to keep her job even with the move.

Anyway, we figured the next time we saw them he would mention that he appreciated lunch. But we got so much more in the mail:

Does it get any better than that? It touched our hearts that he had involved his children in making a thank you note for us.  It’s a little hard to read in this photo, but way up in the left hand corner it says “Dear Uncle Jim and Aunt Sandy”.  And in the middle it says, “Thank you for lunch.  It was very good.”  And at the bottom they’ve all signed it.

I think those must be pictures of some of the foods they ate. Obviously a toasted cheese sandwich and a hamburger, and I bet the yellow are french fries. I’ve had to think about the rosy red spots.  I doubt that they had strawberries, so I’m guessing those may represent glasses of some red drink.  I can’t even come up with a guess about what the brown stuff is, but whatever it is, I think it looks overcooked, don’t you?

What a fun, unexpected surprise for us in a time when thank you notes are few and far between, especially hand-made ones.

Thank you, Aaron, for helping your children make us such a special thank you note.

“Dispatch, the perp’s a short guy with a red wagon.”

December 26, 2010

It was the day after Christmas, and the pastor glanced out the window at the crèche in front of the church and noticed that the baby Jesus was missing from among the figures. When he went outside to investigate he saw a little boy pulling a red wagon up the street, and in the wagon was the missing baby Jesus.

So the pastor hurried to catch up and said, “Well where did you get your passenger, little guy?”

The little boy replied, “I got Him back there at the church. I was going to put him back.”

“But why did you take Him?”

Then the little boy explained, “I had to. I really wanted a red wagon for Christmas, so I prayed to the little Lord Jesus and asked Him to help me get one. And I promised Him that if I got one I would give Him a ride around the block in it.”


A Day Like No Other Day

December 25, 2010

On no other day in the history of the world, have we been given a gift like this. Today we celebrate the day that Christ came into the world to save us from our sins.

Thank you, Jesus. And, Happy Birthday!

Straight No Chaser may make you giggly, but not drunk!

December 23, 2010

I had heard about this group because they started singing together when they were all students at Indiana University.  But, wow are they good … and I’m not just saying that because they’re from Indiana.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

A traditional Christmas treat — really good sugar cookies

December 21, 2010

I haven’t made sugar cookies in a while, but a new recipe in the paper made me hungry for them.  Now, that is not to say that I MADE the recipe from the newspaper, it just inspired me to make a great recipe I already had.  But I do think I improved on the old recipe, by using a thin frosting that was in the newspaper article, rather than the thick buttery frosting I used to use.

I have painted these cookies before and that was fun and gave a different look, but those just can’t match the great taste of a frosted sugar cookie to me.

Painted Powdered Sugar Cookies


1 1/2 C. sifted powdered sugar

1 C. butter (2 sticks), softened

1 egg

1 t. vanilla extract

1/2 t. almond extract

2 1/2 C. flour

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cream of tartar

Cream sugar and butter.  Add egg and flavors.  Blend dry ingredients and add.  Refrigerate dough in a slightly flattened ball either in a large baggie or wrapped in plastic wrap.

Roll out a quarter of the dough at a time to keep from making it “tough” because of too much re-rolling.  If you plan to paint the cookies, do so and lightly sugar before baking.

Egg Yolk Paint:  Blend 1 egg yolk and 1/4 t. water.  Divide among cups and add food coloring.

Or leave them plain to bake, and then frost when cool, which is what I did this time.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 9 minutes.

When the cookies were cool, I frosted them with the following frosting, which I added just a little more milk to to make it fairly thin.

White Almond Frosting

Mix 1 cup of powdered sugar, 4 t. of  milk and 1/4 t. almond extract until smooth.

One idea I had that worked pretty well:  Since the only Christmas cookie cutter I could find was the holly leaf (I cut the others with a drinking glass), I used a butter knife to spread the icing on the holly leaves.  It made it easier to get the frosting out on the points of the leaf.

After I frosted each cookie, I immediately sprinkled it with colored sugar, and I added some “holly and berries” sprinkles to the leaves.  Note: This amount of frosting didn’t quite ice the whole batch of cookies, I had to make just a little bit more.

Hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed these with a glass of  milk, bringing back great memories from long ago Christmases.


December 19, 2010

At this time of year everywhere I look I see a star.









All reminders of the star in the sky on the night of Christ’s birth.

May we truly be reminded of Christ’s birth, and its importance to each of us, when we see Christmas stars.