Category Archives: Around home

Potato Peel Pie You Can Actually Serve for Company Dinner or Breakfast!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has been so popular that people have been trying to figure out how to make potato peel pies. In reality, of course, they were fit only for the palates of those who were on the edge of starvation, but it did pique my interest. What were they made from, and could I make a version that would actually taste good? I looked online and learned that they were made from potatoes, a bit of beet, and a bit of milk, but the only actual recipe I could find called for frozen, shredded potatoes and no potato peels. That didn’t satisfy. sponsors recipes for sweet potato pies, but not potato peel pies. Therefore, I took up the challenge, and as it passed muster for my personal Bake Off judges (my husband and son), I’ll pass it along to you:

Perfectly Delicious Potato Peel Pie
(the way they might have made it if they’d had the ingredients)
(Serves 6)

3 large potatoes
3 beets: tops chopped and boiled for 2 minutes in lightly salted water
1/2 pound bacon fried with one chopped onion
4 eggs whisked with:
2 teaspoons fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk

How to make:
#1.Preheat oven to 350°F.
#2. Peel potatoes and place peelings in an 9″ pie plate. Arrange.
#3. Slice potatoes into thin chunks and boil in salted water for 1/2 hour (until fork-tender).
#4. Boil the beets (washed but unpeeled) in slightly salted water for 45 minutes.
#5. Fry 1/2 pound of bacon with one medium chopped onion. Don’t drain off fat.
#6. Cook chopped beet greens for just 2 minutes in boiling water. #7.  Drain and rinse in a collander to remove juice and stop cooking process.
#8. Whisk together:
4 eggs
2 teaspoons fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
#9. Add cooked greens to egg mixture.
#10. Pour egg mixture and greens into pie pan.
#11. Spoon fried bacon and onions over top, complete with drippings.
#12. Bake uncovered in an oven at 350°F. for 1/2 hour. Remove from oven. If there’s any extra fat or juice, pour it into a small container to save for the beets.
#13. While the pie is baking, and after the potatoes are cooked, mash the potatoes with:
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
Whip in a mixing bowl until really fluffy (can add a little more milk if needed)
#14. After the pie has baked for 1/2 hour, remove and cover with mashed potatoes. Return to oven, kick up the heat to “broil” at 450° and bake until the top starts to brown, around 10-15 minutes, but lower your rack so it’s not the closest to the broiler, to keep it from burning (one slot down works best). Keep an eye on your pie, because it will go from not looking brown at all to being very brown in a matter of a few minutes.
#15. If you don’t like beets, then you’re done with your pie, but you need the greens and stems, so you may as well serve the beets while you’re at it! (Low high, high nutritive value!) To finish off the beets, pour out the hot water and rinse them in cold water for about 3-5 minutes until they’re cool enough to handle. By gently rubbing the skins, they will slide right off.
#15. Cut off the ends or any dark patches, and return them to the pan (to keep warm).
#16. Pour the leftover juice from the pie onto the beets to season them. If there wasn’t any grease bubbling around the edges, then you can also just add butter and salt to taste. (Some people like onion and garlic powder and pepper too.)
#17. Serve it up good and hot for dinner!  It’s almost a dinner in one, because it has your protein, veggies, and starch, but a few sides make it all the better!      Last night I served the pie and beets with a fresh fruit salad and mulled cider. The three of us ate half of it for dinner . . . and the other half this morning for breakfast with hot chocolate, English muffins, and the rest of the fruit salad.  Of course, during World War 2, I don’t suppose people had bacon, and the pie could be made without (or with a cup of cubed chicken, ham, pork sausage, or whatever you have on hand and like), but meat definitely adds to the flavor! If you try it, let me know if you like it, will you?

They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house;
and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures
” (Psalm 36:8).

Ham and Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes: To Peel, or Not To Peel

I grew up peeling potatoes for mashed or scalloped potatoes, but when I asked my  mother why, she said it was simply considered “fashionable.” Poor people didn’t peel potatoes, because they needed the nourishment, but richer people didn’t have to use the potato skins. During World War 2, many people were starving and felt lucky even having potato peels to eat. As an adult, I’ve since learned that potato peels have no fat, cholesterol or sodium and are high in fiber, potassium, calcium, vitamins C and B, and are also rich in photonutrients (which may fight cancer and heart disease). In short, I started to peel the potatoes for this blog since “that’s the way you’re supposed to do it,” but then it occurred to me that I was being fraudulent, because I don’t peel my potatoes for the health benefits (as well as wanting to be a wise steward of my money). So, in the first photo, the potatoes are peeled, but in the next photo, the potatoes are not peeled . . . for the sake of health and thrift! So, take your pick, but never peel your potatoes unless you really, really want to!

If you (like me) tend to serve ham at some time during the holidays, you may end up with quite a bit of leftover ham. Our family’s favorite way to use the leftovers is to make a ham and cheese casserole. It’s easy, and only gets better the next day! The only trick is that it takes about an hour and a half to bake, so you have to prepare it by mid-afternoon if you want to serve it for dinner.

Ham and Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
(Serves 4+ [up to 6, depending on appetites])

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Layer in a 8X12″ casserole dish:
2 medium potatoes peeled (or not). Layer them in the bottom.Add 1 small (to medium) onion, also chopped into small chunks, and 16 oz. (2 cups) sliced, cooked ham, chopped into bite-sized pieces. Add 2 more medium potatoes sliced or diced and
1 cup gelatin from ham (optional, but it does add moisture, protein, and flavor).

Blend together:
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (Lawry’s or your favorite)
2 teaspoons crushed garlic (fresh or dried)
1/2 cup grated cheese
(your favorite; I used an Italian 6-cheese blend, but mozzarella is always popular, or some type of cheddar).
Pour mixture over ham and potatoes.
Cover with 6 oz. (1.5 cups) grated cheese (the rest of a 2-cup package).Bake it uncovered for an hour and a half in a hot oven at 350°F. I usually cover it with aluminum foil and then turn the oven down to 200°F. and let it continue baking until it’s time to put it on the table (but for no more than another half an hour). Serve it up with a few side dishes (I used leftover corn, homemade cranberry sauce, and a spinach salad with pecans . . . all super simple) and enjoy!  🙂

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5). I suspect there may be health benefits in abstaining from certain types of meat—or all meats for that matter—but if you eat ham, I think you’ll enjoy this dish!



Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

Happy New Year! I hope this is a year of many wonderful new beginnings for each of us. Have you made a few thoughtful goals or resolutions? I have, and I sincerely hope to be able to accomplish them. One easy one to share (but hard to do) is my goal of finishing the new addition to our home, then furnishing and decorating it . . .  and then getting rid of all the unnecessary leftover junk that’s been cluttering our basement since the kids grew up!

In that vein, I was sorting through some boxes of my father’s writings and notes.  I always thought he was a pretty staunch atheist until he was 86, when he had a change of heart and mind and entrusted his life to Christ as his Savior. Part of the constellation of beliefs he espoused up until about the year 2,000 A.D. was faith in evolution and the Big Bang Theory, so I was amazed to find this card in his file box:

I’m not exactly sure when he wrote that that note, but it was close to this one:I had heard the story that my father was a believer as a child but lost his faith in college . . . back in the 1930’s. For nearly seventy years, there was precious little evidence of faith in my father that any of us observed. And yet, tucked away in his file box of writing ideas were these little sparkles of faith! First, an acknowledgement that he wasn’t present at the beginning of time and space. “In the beginning”  . . . he wasn’t, but the Bible says that God was. To me, this is a humble recognition that it would be foolish for him to try to deny God’s existence. Second, a prayer asking God to help him accomplish His will, dated January 2, 1974. It has a stain from tape, and so I think it must have been a New Year’s resolution of sorts, placed??? somewhere in or on his office desk??? . . . written almost 30 years before he embraced the Gospel publicly.

This may not seem thrilling to you, but it is to me, because it tells me that the seeds of faith, planted in my father’s heart during early childhood, had lain dormant for many years but had never completely died. Have you been praying for a loved one for years and years without seeing visible fruit from those prayers? Please don’t stop!! I prayed every day for my dad for almost 40 years before he told me one day that he wanted Jesus too.

Or, perhaps somewhere in your own distant past, you believed in Jesus as your Lord and Savior but have since drifted away, thinking the world is such a mess that there must not be a God . . . or feeling that you, yourself, are so hopelessly messed up that if there is a God, He doesn’t care about you. Please turn back to God and ask Him to heal you. God does exist; He is not dead; He does care about you! However, it is possible that “your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). If so, I beg you to give up wanting your own way more than you want God. Repent of your sins, and believe in Jesus! He can—and will—save you! “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, ESV).

Will you join me in starting this New Year with renewed faith and hope? Let’s start at the very beginning by embracing the love and mercy of God. Will you pray with me?

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matthew 6:9-13).

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).

Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Merry Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas to all my dear friends!  This has been a year of joy for me, not because everything has always been easy—or even because everything went the way I’d hoped—but because I knew God was in it, and God is good. He loves us, and everything He gives us, He gives us for our good, and so that we will bring glory to Him! Bearing this in mind, I’m going to share the happy highlights and leave the lowlights right where they belong— in my prayer closet!  First, Alan and I have had a truly wonderful year in most ways. Alan still hasn’t retired, although he’s thinking he might in a couple of years.  Meanwhile, he’s working like a trooper, which gives me ample time to enjoy  family and friends as well as pursuing writing and photography.         We took a few big trips together: A full transit of the Panama Canal last winter, & a relaxing, fascinating trip to Iceland, Norway, and the North Sea last summer.   We also spent a week in Southern California with our oldest son and his family.                   Aaron and Carleen have four sons, who are really growing!                                         Aaron still works at LinkedIn,  and Carlie is busy helping with Classical Conversations, which is the homeschooling support system they use in conjunction with teaching their kids.     Gerlinde is also involved with home schooling and Classical Conversations. She and Jon (our son) moved to Chicago this year, where Jon continues teaching for Moody but is also busy developing and directing an innovative virtual reality system for higher Christian education called the Center for Global Theological Education.  Jon flies all over the country (and world) helping provide training for people in leadership positions within the Church global, but now that they live closer, we have the happy privilege of spending more time with Gerlinde and the girls while he’s away—something we couldn’t do when they lived on the West Coast! In July, I had the great joy of traveling to Italy to help out when Michael and Grace had their fifth child:                                                  A precious baby boy! Since then, they’ve moved to Belgium, where Michael serves as a major in the army and is the Dental Clinic Commander at his base. They home schooled until this fall, but now their two oldest have enrolled in public school and are busily trying to learn French so they can understand their lessons!  We have one daughter, whose husband directs the videography department of a mega church in the Detroit area. They have three children and are doing great, although she prefers privacy in public spaces, so I don’t share much about her (although I’d love to!). We are blessed with one married son who lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and two little ones.         Jon and Gerlinde bring their kids to visit often, which we love,  but it’s really a unique privilege to have one family living close enough to interact on a more constant and casual basis. Dan directs the dental clinic at Exalta Health, an outreach to the uninsured and underserved population,                        and Brianna is very busy with Sammy and Ellie,                                        who keep us totally charmed.                I’m just wondering what they’ll be like when they grow up!  Stephen is continuing work on his PhD in musicology from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He is in a whirl of teaching and presenting at conferences, and I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like, but I’m thankful he’s healthy and productive.      Joel is working as an editor at Kregel Publications here in Grand Rapids.Alan and I feel extremely blessed that he has rejoined the “home team” during this season of his life (although we are praying for a wonderful wife for him). 🙂             Meanwhile, we’ve even enjoyed some travel adventures together! We now have 12 children (including in-law kids) and 17 grandchildren, and we  love each one of them with all our hearts!                           We’ve been privileged to keep up with our sibs,               enjoy close fellowship with our church and extended families,                      and have an amazing circle of friends in Grand Rapids,  which is the only community I’ve ever lived in where there are so many kindred spirits I can’t keep up with all of them!  Best of all, we have a God who is our Father, a Savior who is His Son, Jesus, and a Comforter and Guide, who is the blessed Holy Spirit.  Through faith in Christ, we have inherited eternal life, enjoy the fruits of His Spirit,and have become joint heirs with Jesus. Who could wish for more??  My prayer is that you are enjoying the blessings of being God’s child too.                 There is nothing in heaven or on earth any better than that!  “[Jesus] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:9-13).

Don’t Discount Discount

For the past twenty-five years, we’ve always used Discount Tire to keep our cars rolling smoothly. If Discount sells you tires, they take care of your tires, repair your tires, air your tires, balance and rotate your tires, and let you know when you need new tires. We’ve always been very satisfied with their service and appreciate their help.  Also, it’s traditionally not been hard to get service there, so I was caught totally off guard (or should I say off balance?) when they failed to let me know my new tires had arrived. The tires were supposed to come within a week, so after about 10 days, I started calling  . . . and calling . . . and calling!  No answer. After a week of no answer, I decided to pay them a visit. There was a long line, but I waited patiently for my turn. “Yes, the tires are here, but we just haven’t had any time to call, and now appointments are running more than a month out. However, if you’ll come in at 8:00 am tomorrow (or maybe even a few minutes before), we’ll try to get your tires on while you wait…shouldn’t take more than a half an hour.”  That sounded good, so I arrived at 7:50 am, thinking I’d be first in line. In fact, I was already fifth in line, and by 8:00 am, there were nine plus more people getting into line behind me, some reluctantly emerging from their warm cars. The line zigzagged back and forth through the little waiting area, as it was below freezing outside.  They had my car done in not much more than an hour . . . just long enough for me to have a new appreciation for what a good tire company does for its customers, and the importance of having good tread on our tires so we don’t slide off the road in icy weather.  The wait also got me to thinking about how often I take my church for granted, expecting it to “be there” for me. It’s usually easy to access, and a good church (which mine is)—like a good tire company—helps keep me in tune so I don’t crash when the rubber meets the road of difficulties in my life. If you don’t have a church family, please, please, please seek one out . . . a place where the teaching is true to the Bible and the people are sincerely seeking to follow Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.  And, for those of us who are already part of a good fellowship, let’s not discount “Discount!” Let’s appreciate what a fantastic “deal” it is to have a church home who takes good care of us . . . and when the church is struggling under an overwhelming burden (like Discount Tire Company is in this icy weather), let’s bend over backwards to be patient, help out, and appreciate all the hard work and good service that’s happening every day!

So the churches were strengthened in the faith,
and they increased in numbers daily
” (Acts 16:5).

Old-Fashioned, Home-Town Date Bars

Larry and my husband were close friends from such early days that Alan can’t ever remember not being friends. They lived across the street from each other, rode the school bus together, and roomed together during part of college. Larry and his wife, Kari, even ended up at the same university where Alan and I were in grad school one year, and Kari and I used to swim together and dream about what our babies would be like, since we were both pregnant with our firstborn (sons) at the same time! Now, years later, we’re living in the same community again—also with my closest friend from school days, Brenda (and her husband Tom), which is super fun!

Often when we get together, Kari brings some delectable dessert, but a few weeks ago Kari was at a medical meeting and couldn’t make it to our dinner party, so Larry brought a dessert that had been a favorite when he was growing up. The recipe is so old he hasn’t a clue where it came from, but Alan also remembered loving date bars when he was little (growing up in the same rural community), and Tom (Brenda’s husband, also a farm boy growing up) remembered them from his childhood as well. I loved the salty, sweet, buttery flavor, so I thought you might too! Thank you for sharing, Larry!!

Old-Fashioned Date Bars

For the date filling:

  1. In a medium sized sauce pan, mix 3 cups of cut up dates, ½ cup of sugar, and 1 ½ cups of water.
  2. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened.
  3. Set aside to cool.

For the crust/crumble:

  1. In a bowl, mix together thoroughly ¾ cup butter (softened) and 1 cup of brown sugar.
  2. Sift and stir in 1 ¾ cups flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of salt
  3. Stir in 1 ½ cups of rolled oats.

Place half the mixture on the bottom of the baking pan and pat the mixture down (9” x 13” pan if you want thin date bars or 8” x 8” or so if you want thick date bars.  I think I used a 6 ½ “ x 9” pan and it seemed a bit too thick to me).

Spoon the cooled date mixture onto the crust/crumble in the pan and spread evenly.  Then spread the remainder of the crust/crumble mixture evenly onto the date filling.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Psalm 100

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” Happy Thanksgiving!!

Marilyn’s Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Marilyn has been a dear friend since junior high school days, which is about 56 years! (This photo was taken at our 50th high school class reunion last summer.)After college she married Lorin, and they’ve been living in Texas ever since, so she’s become a fan and able cook of Mexican food. While they were visiting a few weeks ago, I discovered that Marilyn has developed a recipe for chicken enchiladas that’s been written up in their church cookbook and is a perennial, always-eaten favorite when she brings it to potlucks. I asked if she’d be willing to share it with us, and she is! Thank you, Marilyn!

Marilyn’s Chicken Enchiladas

Two 10 oz cans chicken breasts in water, drained – I like Sweet Sue Chicken brand white breast meat
2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
Two 10 oz cans mild green chili enchilada sauce
One 4 oz can chopped green chilies
½ c mayonnaise
½ c sour cream
1-2 c shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
12 flour tortillas
Tortilla warmer
Parchment paper
       Break drained chicken into smaller pieces. Add one can of soup, green chilies, mayonnaise, and sour cream. Blend well. In a separate bowl, blend one can of soup and the two cans of green enchilada sauce for the topping. Line tortilla warmer with parchment paper, place a few of the tortillas in warmer, and heat for 30-40 seconds in microwave. Continue heating until all twelve are heated. Pour about 1/3 of topping into a 9 x 12 inch pan and spread evenly. Fill each tortilla with about 1/3 cup of mixture, roll, and put into pan. When all 12 are filled*, pour remaining topping over enchiladas making sure to completely cover them. Bake uncovered in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Turn off oven, top enchiladas with cheese and return to oven for about 5 minutes to allow cheese to melt.
*You will have some filling left.
       I have found it better to not heat all of the tortillas at once, so I divide them up and heat in microwave 30-40 seconds. They will be hot! Also, when I place them in the pan, I make sure that some of the sauce is between them. Otherwise they will tend to stick together. If rolled fairly tightly, all 12 should fit in a 9 x 12, but if there is more filling and they are not tightly rolled, you may have to put the rest in an 8 x 8 pan. The last time I made them I used up all the filling, but in the past I have had some left over. And I make it easy by using the canned chicken breast, but you could use a rotisserie chicken if you prefer.        Marilyn says she’s never taken a photo of it, so I ordered chicken tortillas last week at our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Burrito. They serve them with refried beans and a salad crowned with sour cream and guacamole. Hope you enjoy them, however you serve them. I’m planning to try them next time my son-in-law (who has some Mexican heritage) comes to visit, and I’m betting he loves them!  🙂
(If you want a recipe for fresh guacamole, I wrote about it here:

 For through him [Jesus] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Ephesians 2:18-20. Isn’t it wonderful that through Jesus we have equal access to God the Father and can all become part of God’s family regardless of our ethnicity? May we celebrate our unity and learn to love others the way God loves us!)