Sweet ‘n’ Salty Pecan Pie

Pecan pie is one of those desserts that’s the perfect cross between candy and nuts . . .the perfect blend of sweet and salty. It’s sure to please, but don’t serve too much, because it’s so rich a little slice goes a long way! It needs to be eaten with care, savoring each bite slowly. I usually think of pecan pie as a Southern favorite any time of the year, or as a Northern pie to be made in winter, when the body needs more fuel to keep burning warmly, or during the holidays! My son has a friend who grew up in the South, and her grandma had a deal with her grandchildren: She’d bake all the pecans pie they wanted, as long as they picked and shelled the nuts for her from her pecan tree! Wow! I would have loved that deal as a kid, wouldn’t you?!

However, despite how fabulous pecan pies taste, this past winter I failed to make even one, so Alan requested pecan pie for Father’s Day. In case you’ve not fallen in love with this perennial Southern favorite yet, here’s my recipe to get you started!

Sweet and Salty Pecan Pie
(Serves about 10)
Fluted 11″ pie crust

Make 1 crust for an 11″ pie (but don’t bake it yet):

In a mixing bowl, combine:
1.75 cups flour
2/3 cup Crisco (or other vegetable shortening)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold water.
3. Mix in your blender just until a ball form. Roll out after sprinkling a little flour on top so it won’t stick to the rolling pin. I always roll the crust out on top of some saran wrap so I can get it off the counter and into the pie plate in one piece, but you have to flip the crust over so the saran ends up on top and can be pulled off. Also, if the saran slides around, put a few drops of water on the counter underneath the wrap to make it stay in place.
4. Arrange the crust in the pan, flute the edges, and prick some holes in the bottom with a fork
Spread 1/2 cups of salted, crushed pecans on top of the crust at the bottom of the pie plate
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Filling

In a large mixing bowl, add:
3 eggs, and beat them slightly
3/4 cup light corn syrup (I know corn syrup is out of vogue right now, and you can replace it with 3/4 cup brown sugar plus 2 tablespoons water, but it doesn’t turn out with quite the perfectly chewy smooth texture)
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Blend together, then add and gently stir together:
2 cups chopped, salted pecans


Place the filling into the unbaked pie shell, then top with:
1.5 cups halved (or could be chopped, but halved are pretty), salted pecans

Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is firm.

Let it cool for an hour before serving, preferably topped with a little whipping cream or a scoop of ice cream, although it’s mighty good plain too!


Take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds” (Genesis 43:11; I know our husbands aren’t exactly kings, but they are the kings of our home castles, and worthy of some special gifts from time to time too! 🙂 ).

Fresh Strawberry Pie for Brianna and Alan’s 369th Birthday!

Every family has a few unique “fun facts,” and one of my favorites in our family is that our oldest son was born on my birthday and our youngest daughter-in-law was born on my husband’s birthday! So, we’re often privileged to share a birthday party. This year was Brianna’s 36th and Alan’s 69th, so together they’ve lived 105 years . . . but it was also fun to arrange the candles so that it looked like even longer! 🙂 Fresh strawberry pie has been one of Alan’s favorite birthday desserts since early in our marriage, so I thought you might enjoy making it too.

Fresh Strawberry Pie
(Feeds 1, or possibly 8-9 🙂 )

I forgot to photo making the pie shell, I think because I’ve written it up before, but in case you don’t have a favorite recipe yet, here’s mine:

One 10-inch Baked Pie Shell

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine:
1.5 cups flour
2/3 cup Crisco (or other vegetable shortening)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold water.
3. Mix until a ball forms. Roll out (I always roll it out on top of some saran wrap so I can get it off the counter and into the pie plate in one piece, but you have to flip the crust over so the saran ends up on top and can be pulled off. Also, if the saran slides around, put a few drops of water on the counter underneath the wrap to make it stay in place.)
4. Arrange the crust in the pan, flute the edges, prick some holes in the bottom with a fork, and bake in a hot oven for 12 minutes or until it’s starting to turn a golden brown on the edges. Let it cool on the counter while you make the filling.

Strawberry Glaze

1. In a saucepan, stir together until completely blended:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup corn starch
2. Next, add:
2 cups water
1 three-oz. package of strawberry jello powder
3. Heat, stirring almost constantly, until it bubbles, thickens, and clarifies

Let it cool to room temperature, and then add:
1 cup fresh strawberry jam or fresh freezer jam
2 pounds or 2 quarts hulled but whole strawberries (about 5-6 cups)

Coat the berries completely, then gently fill the pie shell. The berries can be heaped quite high, depending on how many strawberries you’ve got and how big your pie shell is. (I’ve made it without the jam, but it really does add to the overall flavor if you have some available. Just follow the directions on the package, but you may want to have made the jam beforehand. I tend to buy the berries when they go on sale about once a year for $0.99 a quart and make my year’s supply in May.)

Chill thoroughly in refrigerator, and then, just before you serve it top with:

 1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar, whipped together until medium peaks form

If you serve it right away and the peaks aren’t too stiff, it may turn out like this, but nobody seemed to fuss!

May you live long and celebrate many, many, many happy birthdays!

When they are old, they will still produce fruit; they will be healthy and ·fresh [green; verdant]” (Psalm 92:14, EXB “Expanded Bible”).

Orange-glazed, Chocolate Chip Scones

Here is a drool-worthy recipe that Joel makes, inspired by the 1997 edition of The Joy of Cooking with just a very few personal touches (to up the flavors). It’s perfect for tea time, breakfast, or . . .really anytime you want a scrumptious dessert!

Orange-glazed, Chocolate Chip Scones

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Stir together thoroughly (by hand) in a mixing bowl:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar (or just 1/3 cup if you plan to eat it with jam or don’t want it very sweet)

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

Next, add:

6 tablespoons of cold butter, cut into chunks

Blend with a pastry blender (or a big fork) until the chunks are no more than pea-sized, but take care not to let the butter melt. It needs to be a little chunky still.

Finally, add 1 cup chocolate chips and stir until evenly mixed throughout

In a separate bowl, stir together:

1 large egg

½ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon grated zest from an orange

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and stir just enough to moisten.

Gather into a bowl and knead gently against the sides of the bowl until most all of the flour has been incorporated into the ball and the bowl is fairly clean. (This shouldn’t take more than 5-6 times; don’t overwork!) Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat into an 8” round (which should be about ¾ inches thick).

Cut into 8 wedges (or up to 12 small ones, depending on how many people you want to serve). Bigger ones are moister, and they’re so good even children can usually happily eat a large one. Place at least a half an inch apart on a cookie sheet.

Brush the tops with cream (or milk).

Bake in the preheated over for 12-15 minutes, until starting to turn a golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool down to warm.

While still warm, frost with a glaze made from:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon softened butter

2 tablespoons orange zest plus enough juice to make a thick frosting. (If you make it too thin, it will all drip off. The cooler the scones, the thinner you can make the frosting.)

Serve warm. They really don’t need butter, clotted cream (whipped cream), or jam, but suit yourself!

Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart:
so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel” (Proverbs 27:9).

Shepherd’s Pie for Spring

I know a lot of Christians serve ham for Easter to celebrate being no longer under the constraints of the Jewish dietary laws, and I know lamb is very expensive in America, but if there’s one time of year when I like to splurge, it’s at Passover, which is just before Easter, and is known as “Good Friday” to most of us. Jesus was the Lamb of God, sacrificed on Passover as a “once for all” sacrifice for sins, and I want to celebrate by roasting lamb for my very favorite celebration of the year!

Happily, there is usually some lamb left over, and my favorite way to use up the extra lamb is by making a Shepherd’s Pie. Here’s how:

Savory Shepherd’s Pie
(Makes 8 hearty slices)

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F.


Next, peel and slice four large potatoes and boil them for about 20 minutes in salted water that covers them completely while you’re accomplishing the tasks below. (I’ve drained these potatoes, which are finished cooking and are ready to be mashed.)

In a frying pan, add the following ingredients and saute/simmer until tender:

The leftover drippings and broth from your lamb roast
1 medium, chopped onion
4 large, chopped carrots (there are fewer here because I also used leftover roasted carrots, which I hadn’t added yet)
1 cup chopped celery and celery leaves (I like the heart of the stalks for this)

Next, add all the lamb (at least 1-2 cups) chopped into bite-sized pieces (or shredded).

When everything is cooked until tender and heated through, add:
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon crushed garlic (fresh or dried)
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon thyme

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of flour over the top and stir into the mixture.

At this point, I added some leftover roasted potatoes chopped into bite-sized pieces, but this is optional (although I think it tastes good). For sure you need to add: 2-3 cups of water drained from the boiled potatoes (enough to make a thick gravy). Turn off the heat and keep covered until you’re ready to finish the pie.

After the potatoes are cooked, tender, and drained, most of the liquid, but perhaps not all, will go into the gravy mixture. Then, pour off any remaining fluid, leaving about 1/4 cup potato water in the bottom of the pan with the potatoes. Then add:
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt and whip in a blender until really fluffy and light.

Empty all the meat and veggie mixture into your biggest pie plate (mine is an 11″).

Arrange the mashed potatoes like whipping cream with high peaks on top.

Dot the top of the pie with about 2 more tablespoons of butter cut into chunks and then sprinkle liberally with coarse (or regular) salt.

Bake in the oven at 350°F. for 30-45 minutes, until the tips are turning a golden brown. (The higher up in the oven, the faster it will brown on top.)

Really, shepherd’s pie is a meal in itself, although I served it with warm garlic bread, grilled egg plant, french-style beans and steamed asparagus. You can serve it with anything or nothing, but I hope however you eat it, you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29, ESV).

(Speaking of Jesus:) “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).

Melted Dreams

Sometimes all our dreams,
Like hollow chocolate, melt
And disappoint us!

It was the perfect day for an Easter egg hunt outside, and in less than 15 minutes Alan and I had distributed all the Easter eggs, candy, and chocolate rabbits—especially the chocolate rabbits (everybody’s favorite gift)—around our field.

Quick as a flash, our grandchildren flew around the field, gathering up all the surprises and treats.

However, to the children’s horror, two of the bunnies (which had been hiding in the sunshine) must have experienced green-house effect heat and melted down into little masses of mess! 😦

Isn’t this a picture of so many of our fondest dreams in life? We have such high hopes and work so hard preparing for the future.

We are eager and “do everything right” as best we know how, but suddenly something unexpected dashes our hopes for “the perfect” ending and turns our “high point” into a low point.

At times like this, I am reminded that every dream and ambition apart from seeking God is like a hollow Easter bunny that will not withstand the heat of life. Better to keep my eyes on the Lord and find my joy in Him! “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146:5). “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Psalm 73:25).

Celebrating the Resurrection at Northridge

Celebrate Easter!
Did you go to church? If not,
Why not listen now?

Did Easter slip by you this year? Many people work in industries where there is no option to stop and rest on Sundays, and for others, attending church wasn’t a priority. Maybe you’re among those who were super busy preparing a feast for family and friends, hiding Easter eggs, and enjoying the cultural aspects of the holiday. If you weren’t able to attend a service anywhere and feel a tug in your heart that you may have missed out, then it’s not too late!

Hundreds of churches around the world now have their services on line! Why not take a break and take in what’s been going on at Northridge Church near Detroit, Michigan? This church is so full of love and energy to reach out to others that on February 17, 2019, they received the “Liberator of the Year” Award for Michigan and Ohio for their involvement in helping with the human trafficking problem. (They are the first and only church to ever be given that honor!) Northridge has also been so excited about Easter that they held 18 services where over 21,000 joined in worshiping and praising God together. You might be happily surprised by what you see, hear, and learn! And, if you live in the area, this coming Sunday (April 28, 2019), Dr. Hugh Ross will be discussing the interconnection between faith and science.

http://northridgechurch.com/experience/talks/the-moment/310/

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

Life Without Easter?

For Good Friday, I’d like to share a meditation by my friend, Cynthia Wedge:

Have you ever thought about what life might be like without Easter? I was thinking about that the other day as Easter is drawing close. Below are my reflections.

There would be no purpose to life. The thing, actually person, who gives me purpose and meaning to life is Christ. My purpose is to bring honor and glory to Him in all that I do and say. Even though I don’t do that perfectly nor all the time, that is what I desire to do and what makes my daily life meaningful. Along with that is sharing Him with others as I have opportunity, helping them to obtain meaning to their life.

There would be no hope for the future, life after death. Because of Easter, Christ’s death AND resurrection, and putting my faith in His work, I know when I die I will immediately be in the presence of my Savior. This assured hope helps me persevere through the difficult circumstances of life.

There would no forgiveness. Without God’s forgiveness of our sins, how can we forgive people the wrongs they have done to us? It is God’s example of forgiveness and only because of His enabling, that we are able to “forgive our neighbor”. Without forgiveness, anger and bitterness would run rampant in the world. Forgiveness melts our anger and dissolves our bitterness toward those who have wronged us. None of us would have even an ounce of forgiveness within us apart from Christ’s sacrificial death and forgiveness of our failures and sin.

There would be no love. It is because God loved us that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to come to earth and take on our sin. God is the source of love, for He is Love. Without His love in us, we would not love our fellow man, our spouse, our children, etc. A world without love? I don’t even want to think what a world without love would be like. When I see the hate and anger being expressed in our society today, it is just the tip of the iceberg of what people would do to each other without love.

I could probably go on and name more things, but these are enough for me to be thankful for Easter. Thankful that God loved the whole world enough to make it possible to have our sins forgiven and to have a personal relationship with Him. To know God loves me, even when I fail Him so miserably, He continues to love me infinitely. This is beyond my comprehension, but I am oh, so grateful.

Grateful that Christ, God’s Son, was obedient to His Father, even though He prayed “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but Yours be done.” He knew how much He would have to suffer as a man, the pain of the thorns, the whipping, the nails, the sword. Just as any of us would shrink from such pain, so did Christ, yet because of His love for mankind and His obedience to His Father, He submitted Himself to die a cruel death on a cross. While on the cross, He took the sin of the whole world upon Himself, for you and for me. Because God is holy, He had to turn His back on His Son, causing Christ to cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Never before, in all of eternity past had they been separated!

I could probably go on and name more things, but these are enough for me to be thankful for Easter. Thankful that God loved the whole world enough to make it possible to have our sins forgiven and to have a personal relationship with Him. To know God loves me, even when I fail Him so miserably, He continues to love me infinitely. This is beyond my comprehension, but I am oh, so grateful. Grateful that Christ, God’s Son, was obedient to His Father, even though He prayed “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but Yours be done.” He knew how much He would have to suffer as a man, the pain of the thorns, the whipping, the nails, the sword. Just as any of us would shrink from such pain, so did Christ, yet because of His love for mankind and His obedience to His Father, He submitted Himself to die a cruel death on a cross. While on the cross, He took the sin of the whole world upon Himself, for you and for me. Because God is holy, He had to turn His back on His Son, causing Christ to cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Never before, in all of eternity past had they been separated!

My prayer is that you experience and know the love of God and the forgiveness of your sin, because of Easter!

© Cynthia Wedge April, 2019