Category Archives: Around home

Rhubarb and Black Cherry Crumble

One of the things Alan and I especially appreciate about traveling is the opportunity to experience new dishes and flavor combinations.  On our recent cruise through the Panama Canal, we tried all kinds of good desserts, but our hands-down favorite was a rhubarb crumble that had huge black cherries in it.  I’ve long loved rhubarb-strawberry pie, but this was even more scrumptious, and with a little practice, I think I’ve re-created a worthy facsimile thereof !

Rhubarb and Black Cherry Crumble
(serves 8-12, depending on how much ice cream you add!)

Start with 5  stalks of fresh, bright red rhubarb. Wash them, and cut off the ends. Chop the rhubarb into small pieces and spread them into the bottom of an 9X12″ baking dish.Add 1  15-16-ounce can black cherries with the juice.In a separate dish, thoroughly cream together:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter (or margarine).
Next, mix in by hand:
1.33 cups flourSpread this mixture evenly over the fruit. It will be a little lumpy, but that’s okay!Bake in the oven at 350°F. for 45 minutes or until bubbly and turning slightly golden brown on top. (Don’t over bake it!)Serve it hot (or at least warm) with a big scoop of ice cream. Even my grand children loved this one, so you know it’s sweet and gooey! 🙂

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endures for ever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34.



Herb Gardens and Succulent Cornish Hens with Rice

Sometimes when March hits, the weather seems like a fickle teenager…not sure whether to grow up and become Summer, or head back to the childhood of Winter. This dinner perfectly reflects that mood: Cornish hens, rice, and blueberry bran muffins hot from the oven, steamed broccolli in the middle, and a fresh veggie salad with strawberries and blueberries edged by honey dew melon. Winter to spring to summer, all on one plate. Are you in?One of the things I’ve done to keep up my spirits in the winter is tend a little herb garden on our (only) sunny window ledge. We have rosemary in an old tea pot (a great way to re-purpose a pot after the lid’s been broken too many times to mend any more), basil, parsley, rosemary, and sometimes chives or other herbs (depending on what I can find at the market), interspersed with various flowers and other greenery. This little kitchen garden also comes in handy when I’m cooking!

Succulent Cornish Hens with Jasmine Rice
(Feeds 4±)

Defrost 2 Cornish hens overnight or in the refrigerator until completely thawed. Pour 1.5  cups of water into the bottom of a roasting pan, and add:
1.25 cups of jasmine rice, making sure the rice is completely wet
Sprinkle over the hens and rice:
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
2 springs rosemary, somewhat chopped
1 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoning salt (or your favorite brand)
1 teaspoon chives
If you have it, cut up several sprigs of fresh thyme and add them on top   Bake covered for 1.75 hours in an oven preheated to 350°F. Check to see if the chicken is completely cooked through. If it’s done but not golden, take off the lid and let it bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown on top.   Meanwhile, prepare whatever sides you want, and then serve it all up. This rice is softer than it would be if it were made in a cooker, but it absorbs all the juice from the hens, and I think the savory flavor makes up for the less than perfect consistency. You could also try adding the rice halfway through the roasting if you want it firmer (although I usually pop the whole thing in the oven on occasions when I’m going to be gone for several hours and can’t tend it too closely). Another variation is to add just one cup of water and a can of chunked pineapple with its juice…and/or hot peppers or one cup of salsa. There are lots of variations on this “Sunday dinner” roast, so experiment!

Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof.” (Psalm 65:10)

Late Bloomers

Do you ever find it hard to throw out a perfectly good plant that has finished blooming but still looks hardy? I  have this “thing” about letting anything die, and it sears my soul to throw out even diseased plants that I can’t seem to rehabilitate, although I eventually do get rid of them lest they infect the rest of the plants in our little garden room.  What I’ve noticed is that, unless they are annuals, most flowering plants will bloom again the following year if I wait patiently enough. In particular, we have three Christmas cacti and two poinsettias, all of which were in full bloom during December when we first got them (more than a year ago), but all of which bloom more in January and February now that they are not being “forced.” I don’t know when they would bloom in their native soil, but I’ve grown to appreciate that our garden room is dotted with bright flashes of reds and pinks during the otherwise dreary, dark days of winter in January, February, and early March!

Do you ever think of yourself as a late bloomer? Or, maybe you think you’ll never bloom again. If you’ve got the Holy Spirit inside, then you’re a perennial, not an annual! Even if you look back and lament that you’ve lost the beauty and bloom of young faith, take heart. Be patient. If you want to, you can bloom again, and when you do, you’ll find unexpected joy that blesses not only you but everyone around you!You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again” (Psalm 71:20).

(Photo with verse compliments of Robert Hardee. Thank you, Bob!)


Abiding in the Vine Isn’t Always Easy

We have a lovely fireplace entwined by philodendron vines in the corner of our bedroom. This is both a luxury and a safety measure, since our propane heater has an electric starter, so whenever we lose our electricity, we also lose our heat (which happens occasionally during blizzards, ice storms, and electrical storms). Philodendrons are among the world’s most hardy plants, and so I was saddened to see that one of the vines was beginning to wilt badly. I realized (too late) that, although the vines had survived our blazing fireplace, one of the vines couldn’t take the heat emanating from our water baseboard heater. Too much direct heat from a secondary source was killing it.

I identify with that hardy but fragile vine! God calls us to abide in Him, but sometimes it’s almost impossible to abide the heat from a secondary source. I also hope my life isn’t blasting heat in a way that damages other tender vines!

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned…If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:4-6,10).

Prime Rib

Ever since our honeymoon, where I had my first taste of prime rib,
it’s had a special place in my culinary heart.  Prime Rib one of those rare treats reserved for the very best of occasions
and the very finest restaurants.   (How’s this for “fancy” prime rib…at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.)   Every cruise we’ve ever been on serves prime rib at least once, and last week, while celebrating our 45th anniversary, we were back at our all-time favorite  honeymoon spot…eating prime rib again!

It wasn’t until about a year ago it occurred to me that I might be able to afford serving it for something most unusual, like New Year’s Eve, but it turned out so yummy that I think I’ve inadvertently started a new tradition! Although many places advertise “slow roasted,” after experimenting, I think flash roasting first in a super hot oven, then letting it slow roast, and finishing it on the grill works the best!

Truly Prime Rib
(serves 6-8)

Preheat oven to 500°F. while rubbing a
3 pound prime rib with
3 tablespoons Italian dressing
3 tablespoons fresh, crushed garlic
1 teaspoon course-ground pepper
1 teaspoon course-ground salt
1 teaspoon Montreal Steak Seasoning (or your favorite)

Place in a covered roasting pan fat side up and roast in the oven at 500°F. for 20 minutes.
Turn the heat down to 325° and roast another half an hour.
Turn off the oven but let it continue roasting in the oven until you’re ready to serve it. It needs to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing to retain the juices. If you serve it immediately, it should be pink inside. If you want it rare, only roast it for 10 minutes at 500°F. and turn the oven off, letting it continue to roast for up to an hour. Kick up the heat again briefly to 325°F. just before it’s time to serve to make sure it’s hot, then let it rest for 10 minutes with the oven off before slicing.                              This is rare, but for my taste, it’s too rare!  This is our idea of “perfection,” although several of our in-law kids prefer it more done. To make it medium or well…just keep cooking it longer at 325°F. If you’re in a hurry to finish and need several levels of done-ness, you can also finish off a few slices in a frying pan. The more you cook it, however, the tougher it becomes. (Just sayin’) 🙂 If the weather isn’t too miserable, you can also finish off the prime rib on the grill. Super heat it in the oven at 500.°F for 10 minutes. Let it rest in the oven for up to an hour with the heat entirely off. Fire up the grill and give it another 10-15 minutes (depending on how cold it is out; rotate it several times so it doesn’t burn)  just before you’re ready to serve it. However, you still need to let it rest at least 5 minutes for juice retention. This has become our all-time favorite method. Hot. Juicy. Bursting with flavor!

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?” (Matthew 24:45).

Chilly Chili Crab Cakes with Horseradish Sauce

Having a high tea to break up the winter blahs has been a long-standing tradition for our birthday club, so we’re always looking for new recipes to share.On our last cruise, my favorite appetizer was their Salmon Tartare, but when I discovered that “tartare” refers to raw meat, I decided to use cooked crab meat instead and make up my own recipe, inspired by the ingredients from the menu. Some years we go in for lots of complicated dishes, but Cindi and Rex had just returned (at midnight) the night before from a mission trip, where Rex was doing anesthesiology at a hospital in Honduras and Cindi was helping at the school, so we tried to make things super simple this time.The party still managed to be a great hit (as always), and my new crab creation turned out to have excellent flavor (even if the dull green color disappointed me). (…On the bright side, it might be fun for St. Patrick’s Day!)  🙂   Also, you could fry the cakes in butter for a more traditional crab-cake, golden-brown look,  but if you’d like a chilled dish for a summery occasion, try this:

Chilly Chili Crab Cakes
(makes 12 servings)

Mash one avocado in a bowl. Add:
The juice from one fresh-squeezed lemon (helps preserve the color of the avocado as well as making everything taste better)
1 small can (4 oz) of mild green chiles 1 pound crab meat
2 tablespoons capers (could be left out if you don’t like capers)2 tablespoons pesto (could be replaced with sour cream, but I love pesto, and I was trying to make it dairy free)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Lawry seasoning salt (or  your favorite)
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix everything thoroughly. You could serve the salad on lettuce leaves (like the turkey wraps above), although this particular time I served them on little beds of shredded red cabbage. Scoop the crab mixture into balls with an ice cream scope, and top them with a tablespoon (each) of horseradish sauce made from equal parts of horse radish and mayonnaiseWe had such a wonderful evening, but I think even if we’d just gotten together with bread and tea, it wouldn’t have made much difference! “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).(Rex is sharing highlights of their trip with Alan and Steve. Working in a remote hospital overseas, as you can imagine, had a lot of frustrating challenges and tense moments, but they also saved some lives!)

London Broil: Fit for a Feast

On our honeymoon, I tasted “London Broil” for the first time, and it’s been a favorite ever since! Although it sounds British, it’s really a North American dish made from marinaded flank steak that’s been broiled (or grilled) and cut across the grain into thin strips. If you like beef, you’ll probably love London Broil!

I think it makes a great holiday feast,
and here’s my personal favorite way of preparing it:Succulent London Broil
(serves 6-9)

1 thick flank steak (2-3 pounds).  You can ask the butcher for a “London Broil” cut, or sometimes they’re sold by that name at supermarkets; Meijer here in GR sells them so named. One pound serves about 3 people.

Sprinkle one side of the flank steak with a heavy coating of meat tenderizer and then use a meat tenderizer to puncture many holes into the steak. Rub in 1 tablespoon of Italian dressing. Turn the steak over and repeat the process on the back side of the steak.

Next, rub onto each side of the steak:
1 tablespoon of fresh-squeezed garlic
2/3 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Place the steak in a covered dish on the counter for an hour or in the refrigerator for several hours. (This part can even be done the night before.)

Grill (or broil) on high heat, searing the meat on each side for about two minutes. Then, reduce the heat and continue to grill the meat for 2-3 minutes per side. Don’t overcook it, or it will be tough! For medium rare (considered the best flavor), you probably won’t want to grill it more than about 8-10 minutes total, but you can test it and see if it’s done enough for you.

Once it’s done, set the meat on the cutting board, and let it “rest” for five minutes, then slice it with an electric (or other very sharp) knife into thin slices. If you can’t serve it immediately, put it in a covered dish in the oven to keep warm (about 200°F.), but do serve it as promptly as possible after it’s cut.

We served it over Christmas with baked potatoes, but it goes very well with rice too. Other sides might be vegetable salad, fresh bread, fruit salad, and Brussel’s sprouts or some other hot vegetable. As we had 24 members of our family for the holidays, and a big group that night, I got so busy serving that I forgot to take photos of the completed meal, but it’s one of those memorable dinners that everybody loves!

Happy New Year to you!!

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
(1 Corinthians 5:8)