Tag Archive | Great Influence

Tastes Like More

Cinnamon and Sugar.


Vanilla Ice Cream.

Oh, what to make of this.

Apple Crisp.

All it takes are some apples, cored and sliced. A pinch of salt, some flour, sugar and some butter. And, time to bake. Simple.

One of the first desserts I made when I was a kid. One my Mom encouraged me to try making.

Now, it is one of my husband, Jeff’s favorite – especially if there is vanilla ice cream in the freezer or he can make a quick trip to the grocery store to get some.

Me… I like the simplicity. The smell of cinnamon as it bakes. The steam coming up from a serving spooned into a bowl and the melting of that delicious vanilla ice cream as it hugs the apples while it melts.

And, Oh, the taste…. as my Mom would say, “Tastes like more.” Jeff agrees.

Apple Crisp, fresh out of the oven.

Apple Crisp, fresh out of the oven.

Warm Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

Warm Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream


Soup’s On

A cloudy, pre-Fall Saturday.

First soup of the season…..

Made with acorn squash (baked and pureed), chopped sweet onions, chopped celery.
Some heat (red chili flakes, a few dashes of ancho chili and some cayenne).
Herbs (basil and sage)
Sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice)

All in an orange juice base with a bit of black pepper, some brown sugar, some butter to smooth is out and milk to thin it a bit near the end of cooking. YES… I forgot to add any granulated garlic and ginger… but it tastes great without it. YUM..

Won’t do any good to ask for a recipe… I just started cooking and tossed in things I thought would make it taste good.

I learned this cooking method from Mom. It worked well for her and usually does for me.

Replacing chicken stock with orange juice made for an interesting flavor, not to mention far less sodium. I just added ingredients, stirred and let the scent of the mixture guide the next step. Of course, I taste tested along the way.

Yes… another made up recipe.

I was taught to cook this way by the BEST…  My Mom.

I can hear her saying, “Soup’s On.”

Feedlot Breakfast

Thanks to Mom, I don’t have to eat in a feedlot atmosphere.

Yesterday, while on a day trip running errands in a metro area 60 miles way, we went out for brunch using a gift card Jeff’s Mom sent us for Christmas. Against my usual choice of avoidance, we used the IHOP gift card.

It was a busy Saturday morning and the place was packed. The place reminded me of a beehive – lots of buzzing and lots of movement in not much space. Customers talking as they ate the IHOP fare. Kids squirming and voicing their impatience at other tables as they waited for the food their mother’s ordered. Waitstaff moving in and out of the crowded tables balancing large, full plates. Other staff bussing tables so more customers could belly up at the feedlot.

We had been been led to a room with lots of windows… a homey little fish bowl. We were seated at a small table for two butted up against another small table for two… right next to larger tables with more people. We were so close we could have even saved the use of our gift card by eating off their plates… all the while dodging forks. Yet, we had left our chainmaille gloves at home so we ordered our own food. We made what we had hoped were the best choices for us and planned to use up the gift card on the bill and the tip.

The noise and buzzing of voices and bodies did not leave us with a relaxed feeling. Such a crowded and stressful atmosphere.

Being health conscious we’ve made it a habit to not eat at chain restaurants, yet Jeff wanted to use the gift card, so we made an exception. Based on this breakfast experiment, we’ll know better next time.

Thankfully, I had a Mom who was a great cook, loved to experiment with different things and had no trouble making delicious, healthy food for her family. Because I had a great mentor, we had a good healthy breakfast this morning.

No more feedlots.

remembering January


Birth month of my Mom, my brother and my niece.

Birth month of several friends and coworkers.

First month of the new year, a time for renewal.

Also a time to look back, to ten years ago. To the most painful January of my life.

Other Januarys I don’t remember so vividly. I remember January 2003 as the last twenty days of Mom’s time on earth. Of her last trip to the doctor, when he admitted her to the hospital for observation. During the exam, that morning in early January, he saw something he did not like. Definite progression of the leukemia.

I remember  time spent in the local hospital…. hours upon hours that changed our family. I remember Dad being in the next room, recovering from prostate surgery. The hospital staff setting things up so that Mom and Dad could have rooms next to each other. As soon as Dad could manage, he could go visit Mom. I remember Mom’s birthday, January 12th, spent in the hospital. The nurses put together a special treat for Mom in celebration. We all appreciated this lovely gesture.

I remember how tired she was, yet how very hard she fought the leukemia. I remember her willingness to take medicine that would target its efforts on the cancer cells and I remember the effects of that medicine. It ravaged Mom’s body and last amount of health. I remember her last bone marrow biopsy. She was a courageous, strong woman… she took no general anesthetic, only a local shot. Each biopsy was that way. I was with her that last time and held her hand as the DR drilled into her hip bone to extract the sample of ravaged bone marrow. I remember talks with the oncologist, a family meeting to discuss medication to ease Mom’s discomfort. I remember the morning we had to have the DR start the morphine for Mom, knowing that it would greatly shorten her life. Yet, we had to allow her to be comfortable. I remember snow gently falling that morning… she would have loved to witness the peacefulness of that day. I remember when she lost the ability to communicate, when the port that allowed medicine and blood products to be administered flipped and was no longer viable…. she then had to have IVs. I remember her last visitors, many supporters of her struggle and of her family.

I remember her last moments…. it was a beautiful, peaceful and yet profoundly sad time.

It has been ten years and how it feels to me now, it may as well have been ten minutes ago.

Fruitcake, how could I forget?

Yes, how could I forget fruitcake? Believe me, I’ve tried!!!!

I don’t like fruitcake. Yet, I’ve made it once. Only once. That was only because Mom was battling leukemia and could not make it herself. She had made it for years, her mom’s recipe. Mom made fruitcake for Dad and my brothers, then later, my young niece. How this beautiful little tomboy could like fruitcake, I will never know. Maybe it was time spent with her “Grammy” to make the fruitcake.

Amazingly, all these family members actually LIKE fruitcake! Amazing. How could they?

Yes, even though I don’t like fruitcake, at all, I made it. Just that one time!

I made the fruitcake that year with my young niece…. out of love. Love for my Mom. Love for my niece. Love for my Dad and brothers. But, I mostly made it for Mom…. she would have made it herself if she were able. She was simply too weak at the time and, with her illness, should not be working in the kitchen regardless.

Mom’s fruitcake, using Grandma Booth’s recipe, uses a LOT of ingredients. And, it takes a LOT of time. Well, a LOT of time for a first-time fruitcake maker and her young seasoned apprentice. Even though Mom was sitting at the dining room table watching the ordeal and giving us instructions and encouragement, Natalie and I struggled to make the fruitcake (a double batch, all at once). It seemed like it took us forever.

After quite a time of adding ingredients and stirring, again and again, I exclaimed, “Making fruitcake takes a long time. This is EXCRUCIATING!”

Mom quietly said, “Think how it looks from my viewpoint.”
“I could have done this in far less than half the time.”

Thankfully, Mom was a patient teacher and we all laughed.

I will never forget that time making Mom’s fruitcake with my niece for our family. And, while I still don’t like fruitcake, at all, I LOVE that fruitcake-making memory.

Apple Tart

Much like her mom, Mom could watch someone create an epicurean delight and then recreate it …. nearly the same, if not better. I know, I watched her do it many times.

A few weeks ago, I once again followed in Mom’s footsteps. I had seen an apple tart being created on the Food Network. How easy the presenter made  it look. I knew I could make it, so I quickly wrote down the ingredients and made a note of the baking temperature and time.

Apple Tart

preheat oven to 400 degrees
one pre-made puff pasty — thawed and placed on a parchment covered baking sheet
cinnamon, lightly sprinkled over puff pastry
two or three tart apples of your choice, depending on the size, peeled and thinly sliced, placed on the tart
a couple tablespoons of sugar sprinkled over the apples — adjust to your taste
another light sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired
two tablespoons butter cut into small cubes and dotted over the apples

bake in your preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes…. until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown

near the end of the baking time, spoon some apricot preserves into a sauce pan (about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup), add a bit of water to thin, cook over a medium-low heat until bubbly

at the end of the cooking time, remove the tart from the oven and brush on the heated apricot preserves

cool a bit – slice – serve – enjoy

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