Friday, October 31, 2008

JoAnn's Birthday Brunch

We had a fun birthday brunch for JoAnn yesterday,featuring another one of her favorites, sausage souffle. We served it up with homemade applesauce and a pot of tea. Pumpkin bars were the finishing touch for this pumpkin-loving daughter.

I love this casserole, and it has been a family favorite for many years. We generally serve it on all holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas mornings. I like it because I can make it up the night before, then pop it into the oven early in the morning. It puffs up so pretty in the oven and tastes so good. I treasure my recipe card too, because my Mom gave me the recipe and the card is filled out with her handwriting. Mom is gone now and I like these little reminders of her and her days in the kitchen. The recipe follows below...

This is 27 years ago, when JoAnn turned two and had her first pumpkin dessert. I made this pumpkin cake for her birthday and Halloween many times.

Here she is today, still enjoying those tasty treats and gifts on her birthday.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Birthday JoAnn!!

A very happy 29th birthday to my dear sister, Joann! I hope your day was special, I was thinking of you all throughout it.
Love Julie

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tarte Tatin

I tried this recipe because it looked fun and different. First, the apple quarters are carmelized in a skillet in melted butter and sugar. I thought they were so pretty all lined up in there.

I turned the apples once to cook the other side...

I took out my rolled out dough that was waiting in the fridge and placed it on top, tucking in the edges.

The second cooking step is 25 minutes of baking in the oven.

After 20 minutes of cooling, I inverted the whole thing onto a plate and my family was dazzled by the beautiful dessert we enjoyed last night. I love it when food is tasty AND pretty!

End of the day lighting

Autumn has so many pleasures.

Handmade things for my new daughter

I 'm posting about my new daughter because, well, she takes all my time. :-) Yesterday I got her ready to go to the store and pulled out a homemade sweater and matching hat to keep her warm for the trip. I really felt grateful for the many beautiful homemade, lovely things I have to put on her and the way they make a baby seem loved even a little more.

Fall Apples in Abundance

We had the opportunity to u-pick fresh apples right off the tree while visiting with Julie and Peter. Of course we all got to eat a fresh apple as well...yum. I love this photo of my insurance man enjoying himself hugely with the abundance of beautiful apples. Since we live in a high desert area this was a rare treat for us. We took home big bags of fresh apples as well as a carefully chosen pumpkin for each child.

Family Traditions

It's crazy day, and we just finished up the dinner aka breakfast dishes. The boys are so exited, racing around and down the stairs in their PJ's. Millie and the baby are napping, and it's time for our infamous "wrestle with Papa" time. I have looked forward to this since our last visit, and it's always a highlight for both the boys and John. I join the group downstairs just as John drags out the spare mattress from the utility room. With 4 boys to wrestle with now, he is grateful for the extra padding it provides! Someone jumps in first to start the ball rolling, and there is an immediate pile-up of squirming fuzzy bodies on top of Papa. Delighted screams pierce our ears and it's 'all's fair' in the battle to conquer Papa. First one little body rolls out of the pile, then another, just to jump on top all over again. Three year old Calvin is right in among the others as I watch him in his turquoise striped jammies jumping and playing. Ben is five now and he's wearing the blue fuzzy red trimmed footed pajama. He has the spirit of a football tackle as he pounces and loves the chance to bounce all over the place. Soon faces are red and sweaty, and inevitably William gets hurt and comes over to the side for a Grammy hug and a little consolation. He is wearing a white t-shirt over blue plaid pajama pants, a little older look as he is 7 now. His tears stop slowly once he sees the fun he's missing. I sip my coffee, enjoying the melee, and watch 9-year old Samuel run to get a sofa pillow. He begins to batter anyone within arms reach as well as Papa's back whenever it's exposed. Now it's an all-out pillow fight, with a few more pile-up's for good measure. Usually I can only see an ear or a wrist at the bottom of the heap, and that disappears quickly. There's something so male about this ritual of pounding, screaming, jumping and tickling. It makes me glad that I am the Grammy, and have the privilege of just watching.
I love this connection though, both between John and his grandsons, as well as connecting our visits with an anticipated tradition.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Love to Bake...especially seasonal creations...

Our ages make eating choices more limited these days, and I don't often have the excuse to indulge my love of baking. I made these Pumpkin Bars today for our Bible Study tonight...and will let others enjoy the fruits of my labors. Our daughter JoAnn has a birthday coming on Thursday, the day before Halloween, and she has always loved anything pumpkin. When she was little I always made a pumpkin shaped cake with orange frosting, but as she grew up she preferred these bars, and always asks for them. She and I are going to bake another pan of them on her birthday, to take with us to visit her eldest sister Joy in Washington this week-end. JoAnn and Joy rarely get the opportunity to share their birthdays together (Oct. 30 and Nov. 4) but this year we will spend the week-end celebrating. These are a tried and true recipe I will share the recipe here for any who would like to try it.
Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs
2 C. natural cane sugar
2 C. pureed pumpkin
2 C. flour (I use 1 C. whole wheat pastry flour and 1 C. white flour)
1/2 C. Oil
1/2 C. Applesauce (homemade is best : )
1 t. vanilla
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt

Mix all these ingredients together and spread out in a big baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. When cool, spread with the following frosting..

3 oz. cream cheese softened
1 stick of butter (1/2 C.) softened
1 t. vanilla
1 box powdered sugar
Mix together to spreading consistency and frost.

This recipe makes a lot of bars, so it's great for a family or for autumn entertaining. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This Thanksgiving cactus has a place of honor in my home right now. It decided it just couldn't wait until Thanksgiving to burst out in bloom...and we are thrilled and getting so much enjoyment out of it's beauty!

Beauty is a piece of antique, handpainted chinaAs I got this bowl out of my cupboard to serve with last night, I was reminded of my husband's grandmother, Louise Williams Brown. She had many pretty dishes and bowls, several of which I was fortunate enough to inherit.

Here she is as a young newlywed in this photo about 1915. She was a farm wife, and most of her things were practical and useful, but she had touches of beauty in her kitchen and in her life.
This remarkable woman lived to be 107 years of age, and using some of the things she has passed down brings back lovely memories.

Our Saturday project was to locate, purchase and bring home a good used refrigerator for an extra in our garage. Right before our trip to W.V. I found the frig in our garage running with no refrigeration. We lost a few items, but didn't have much stored there at the time. We found a new one on Craig's List, made the deal, and brought it home. Like most used refrigerators, the family did not think it important to clean the old one after getting a nice new one. And like most, I do not relish the task of cleaning out a frig. My darling husband spent the afternoon with me, and we both cleaned it and he did a little repair work on the seal. Here it is, all clean and sparkling, in place, and ready for food. Our old frig finally 'gave up the ghost'. It has been with us through thick and thin for over 30 years, doing a never-failing job. They just don't make 'em like that anymore! After growing a little too small, it retired to the garage to hold our overflow, and has carried on there for many good years. I am a little sorry to see it it will be hauled away to our dump this week. It still looks so good...but farewell to a hard-working and faithful appliance.
Beauty is a well-made and functional appliance!

Friday, October 24, 2008


We went traveling to West Virginia this October, and were blessed to experience fall on the East Coast. We not only celebrated with Julie and her family, we saw some of the sights as well. We visited Cooper's Rock State Park, saw some magnificent scenery and gorgeous fall color like the trees below...