Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pink? Or Blue?

Which will we need?

Lord willing, announcement will be made in January 2016.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Homemade Campfire Starters

Are you camping this holiday weekend?

We never go camping without a supply of homemade fire starters. Especially if we don't have good kindling or the wood is not dry, a fire starter can help get that campfire ambiance far more quickly.

And with no need to haul along a stinky can of lighter fluid.

All it takes is some common trash items.

You will need:

A cardboard egg carton (not Styrofoam)

Several hand-fulls of dryer lint

Old candle stubs (or a block of paraffin)

A large tin can (a coffee can or juice can works perfect)

Newspaper or cardboard

1. Fill the egg carton cells with dryer lint. No need to pack it full. Place egg cartons on newspaper or cardboard.

2. Bend a pouring spout into your can.

3. Fill the can with wax - either old candles or paraffin.

4. Set the can in a pan of water on the stove.

5. Melt wax with medium heat.

6. Pour wax into egg cartons. I didn't wait until all the wax was melted. As soon as the bottom was melted I poured it out and kept adding more wax in the top.

7. Allow wax to cool and harden.

8. Cut egg cells apart. I let my husband use his power saw. This batch of fire starters should last us several years.

9. Add your new fire starters to your camping gear. The next time you are starting a fire, place a fire starter under your kindling and light a match. The wax and dryer lint will quickly help start a hot fire.

Caution: I don't know if these can be used in an indoor fireplace or wood stove. I have only used them in outdoor campfires.

Do you have any creative uses for trash?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dutch Oven Gathering 2015

The eight annual dutch oven gathering had fewer participates than other years but was still labeled a success.

As always there was creativity and lots of good eating in those cast iron pots.

All ages can participate -as either cooks or tasters!

The men do the cooking (and we wives don't admit how much prep work we assisted with at home) but often the wives are called for their opinion on whether a dish is finished or needs some more time on the coals.

This year Bryce won the prize for the taster's favorite with his Hawaiian Sausage Stir-fry. 

It was as good as it looks.

Other choices included marshmallow chocolate brownies.

Sticky Buns

 S'mores Dip

 Venison Stew

Nachos (I went back for seconds, and maybe thirds.)

 Macaroni and Cheese

 Upside-down Salsa Cornbread (another one that was as good as it looks.)

Plus lasagna, oatmeal cookies, angel biscuits, and more.

Thanks to the cooks who made this a fun evening.

To see past Dutch Oven Gatherings, check out these links.
2014,  20132012201120102009

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Q&A - Can I Visit a Mennonite Church?

One of the most frequent emails I receive are about visiting a Mennonite church. Maybe there are a few more of you who have wondered but didn't have the courage to ask.

Can I visit a Mennonite church?

Yes. All Mennonite churches, as far as I know, welcome visitors. When Ed and I have been traveling, we have visited several new-to-us Mennonite churches and have always been warmly welcomed.

What should I wear when I visit a Mennonite church?

Mennonites churches are meant to be places to worship God and it is expected for the audience to be dressed respectfully. But it is not expected that a visitor wear a head covering or any other special kind of clothing.

Where is the closest Mennonite church to me?

This is one of the most common questions I am asked. And in the past I have struggled to find a church in a particular region. But recently I found a handy church finder. This map shows conservative Mennonite churches around the world. You can zoom up the map to look at a particular area and click on a church button to find more information about that church. I'm so glad I found this convenient resource for the next time we are traveling and maybe this church finder can be a blessing to you.

What can I expect when I visit a Mennonite church?

Mennonite churches vary in their routines and traditions. Many of the more conservative Mennonite churches practice separate seating for the men and women - the men sitting on one side of the church and the women on the other. The music is usually acapella congregational singing, with no instrumental accompaniment and no choir or worship team. Prayer is often done while kneeling.

Typically after the service, the congregation lingers for a time of talking and fellowship. Please feel free to converse and ask questions. You may find that we are as curious about you as you are of us. We would love to hear about your spiritual journey.

You will soon find that we are not perfect. We attempt to follow the Lord in literal obedience to His Word, but at times we fail. Maybe we can together encourage each other in our walk with God.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mini Fruit Pizzas


This is another dessert my daughter made this week. (Love that she is doing more baking this summer. Her siblings are loving it too. No more excuses that Mom didn't have time to make dessert.)

The crisp sugar cookie with layer of cream cheese and fruit is a refreshing summer treat. If you don't want to make a "mini" pizza spread the cookie dough onto a pizza pan and bake. This amount of dough will make two small sized pizzas.

We only used fresh strawberries since that is what we have right now but there are many other great fruit options. Prepare several kinds of fresh fruit and allow your children to decorate their own cookie.

Mini Fruit Pizzas

Sugar Cookie Crust

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk

Cream butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill dough for about an hour for ease in rolling.

Roll out dough on a floured counter until 1/4 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut round cookies and place on a baking sheet (or transfer a big round of dough to a pizza pan. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Cool.

Cream Cheese Layer

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz whipped topping (or 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream whipped and sweetened)

Beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Fold in whipped topping. Spread on cooled sugar cookies.

Layer on fruit.

Fruit Options

Mandarin oranges
And more

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Strawberries-and-Cream Cake

My daughter stirred up this cake last week and this recipe was added to our list of June favorites. The cake is such a lovely pink color and the cream cheese frosting is the perfect combination.

If I was serving this for guests I would have removed the cake from the pan, flipped it out onto a tray, and spread the frosting over the whole cake. It would be a lovely addition to a June ladies' luncheon.

But I was serving this just for our family and knew it would take several days to finish. I didn't want it to get soggy so I just cut individual pieces and served it with a dollop of the frosting on top. The taste is not affected either way.

Strawberries-and-Cream Cake
(Adapted from Southern Living)

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 T strawberry gelatin
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cups chopped fresh strawberries

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add lemon juice and vanilla.

Mix dry ingredients into butter mixture with the buttermilk, stirring just until blended.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Serve with strawberries-and-cream frosting.

Strawberries-and-Cream Frosting

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2/3 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
3 T lemon juice

Beat cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar until smooth. Stir in strawberries.

Beat cream and juice until foamy. Add 1/3 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold cream mixture into cream cheese mixture. Use immediately.

Note: I'm sure you could omit the homemade whipped cream and substitute whipped topping if you wanted a faster dessert.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Homemade Strawberry Sherbet

I love to make homemade strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries.

But I usually don't have cream on hand and often the season passes without ever enjoying fresh strawberry ic ecream.

I decided that sherbet might be the perfect solution. Sherbet is made with fresh fruit, sweetener, and an acid such as lemon juice. A little milk is added for some creaminess but sherbet is not as rich and creamy as ice cream. Though I typically prefer ice cream to sherbet (especially the artificial fruit flavor of many bought sherbets) homemade sherbet is the perfect way to showcase the flavor of fresh-picked fruit. I also think sherbets are more refreshing on a hot summer day than ice cream - though I don't normally turn down ice cream whatever the weather.

I can't wait to try this recipe with fresh peaches. Or raspberries.

Homemade Strawberry Sherbet
(adapted from Mother Earth News)

1 lb fresh strawberries, capped
1 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups milk
2/3 cups sugar OR 1/2 cup honey

Place strawberries, lemon juice, and salt in blender and blend until smooth. Warm 1 cup of milk on stove and stir in sugar until dissolved. If using honey you may omit this step and add to blender. Add milk and sugar/honey into blender with strawberries and remaining milk. You may need to blend in batches depending upon your blender size. Refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Whisk mixture again and freeze in ice cream machine. Serve at once or seal in container and store in freezer.

Makes 1 quart. For a larger ice cream machine you may double recipe.

Note: Strawberries may be replaced with equal amount of peaches or other fruit. For smoother sherbet you may strain blended fruit through a sieve.


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