How to Make Nana’s Sweet Pickles

cukes-lime

Soaking in Lime

Chopping cucumbers to make sweet pickles, I realized “when I am gone no one in the family will continue this tradition.” My husband’s mom canned her nine day sweet pickles and my husband and our sons could finish off a pint at a meal.

A lady in my husband’s first church made the best sweet pickles and gave me her recipe. When my mother-in-law came to visit I was anxious for her to try my pickles. She bite into a pickle and shrieked while squinting, “Whooooo, they are good.” Maybe a little too much spices or vinegar???

Over the years I fine-tuned the recipe and now each summer I make Mrs. Wages Lime Pickles to the delight of husband, sons and now grandson.

The next Sunday at lunch with my son and his family, I related my sentimental feeling about no one carrying on the tradition of making pickles.

My grandson  Cameron replied with no thought to missing me, “Nana, that is no problem. We can just look up the recipe on the internet!”

So, this prompted me to help my grandson find my recipes “on the internet.”

Mrs. Wages Lime Pickles

  • 7 lbs medium-size pickling cucumbers
  • 1 cup Mrs. Wages® Pickling Lime
  • 2 gal water
  • 2 qt Mrs. Wages® Pickling & Canning Vinegar or other commercial white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 8 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs. Wages® Pickling & Canning Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs. Wages® Mixed Pickling Spice

Wash cucumbers. Remove 1/16 -inch from blossom end and slice crosswise. Mix pickling lime in water. Aluminum containers should not be used for the lime solution. Soak cucumbers for 12 hours or overnight in the lime water, stirring occasionally. Rinse 3 times in cool water and soak 3 more hours in ice water.

In a bowl, mix together vinegar, sugar, and salt until dissolved. Remove cucumbers from final ice water soak. Drain slices. Pour syrup over top. Let stand for 5 to 6 hours or overnight. Add pickling spice to taste.

Drain syrup off cucumber slices into a saucepan. Simmer for 35 minutes. Pack cucumber slices into hot quart jars. Pour boiling syrup over slices to cover and leaving 1/2 -inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust lids and process pints for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes, using boiling water bath method. (I don’t process my jars – they seal fine if packed in hot sterilized jars and last for years.)

Finished product

Finished product

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So here you go Cameron, it’s on the internet.  I hope you find a wife one day who will make you some of Nana’s sweet pickles. It is truly a labor of love!

Why did I agree to make a dessert?

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Culinary masterpieces flashed on the TV screen in the foyer of the church of cakes from last year’s dessert auction to benefit our church camp for children, Canal Lake Bible Camp.  Just before Sunday School, our resident baker, Rodney, showed me a picture on his phone of his wife’s lemon cake made for the auction for this year.  It was drop dead gorgeous. 20160214_170545

 

He described the icing and the filling between each layer.

He also proclaimed there was already a bid of $250 for Glenda’s cake.

Rodney also shared a picture of his cake made for the event which was equally stunning.

Rodney's cake

Rodney’s cake

Why did I agree to make a dessert?  I don’t bake beautiful cakes.  Sure they taste good and my family thinks I make the best carrot cake ever but they did not need another carrot cake for the auction so I agreed to make a cheese cake.

Returning home after church, I opened the frig to check on my blueberry topping for the cheesecake I prepared for the auction.  Cooked the night before, it was not very firm but tasted so good and would surely get thicker when cooled and would hopefully make my cheesecake at least look edible.

The blueberry topping had not thickened.

After lunch, my husband noticed that I seemed a little down.  I told him, “I just don’t feel good enough. I missed a few words in choir today, I’m overweight and what did they talk about in Sunday School but fasting!”

He just sat there and did not say a word.

“Well, tell me what to do.  Why do I feel so insecure and inadequate?  And, oh yeah my blueberry topping is not thick.  What will I do?  There is only a little time before the auction tonight.  Oh, well my lasagna will be good for the potluck.”

You know the feeling or the disease we women have– the compare and compete syndrome.  We just don’t every seem to measure up to her or in this matter him………………..whatever!

Thankfully there were more blueberries in the freezer to repair my syrup.  Nicely thickened the blueberry topping was placed on my cheesecake and we headed out for the potluck dinner at church with dessert auction to follow.

Our learner’s permit grandson, Cameron, drove to church with his Papaw John sitting beside him.  I sat in the back holding my dessert hoping it would make the trip.  Cameron’s friend Bryan helped me when we went around some curves and I had to balance the plate.

When we arrived John and Cameron took the lasagna dish to the pot luck table.  Bryan went with me to the church kitchen to help me remove the spring form ring from the pan.

The glass serving dish was prepared with white valentine shaped hearts and I proceeded to transfer the cheese cake.

“Oh, no, how do I remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake?” I asked as Bryan looked puzzled.

It had to be done, I lifted the cheesecake and Bryan pulled the parchment paper out and just as the transfer was almost complete the cake split in half in my hands.  I pushed it onto the plate and pressed it together.  “Oh well, it will taste good even if it doesn’t look that great.”

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The split blueberry cheesecake

Walking into the gathering with the good side of the cheesecake showing, I placed it on the nearest table among the works of art wishing no one would know it was mine.  Then don’t you know someone placed a little card on it with my name!

The pot luck was delicious as usual.  Pastor Jeff and his wife Sarah shared some highlights of camp last year and how many children were impacted with the Gospel.

Our congregation enjoys participating in the auction.  Several people pool their funds and bid on their favorite dessert.  The first few bids were for “pick your own cake.”  The bids soared to $850.

Our table chose the next “pick your own cake” and won the bid.  We selected the delectable lemon cake made by Rodney’s wife.  It tasted as good as it looked.

 

Glenda's Cake

Glenda’s Cake

Then the moment of truth – as I sliced the lemon cake our table purchased for $500 –  I heard, “This classic cheesecake made by Pat Strickland – who will give $50?”

My husband looked at me and saw my desperation, “please bid on my cheesecake.”

He bid $50 and amazingly the bids proceeded and it was sold for $250.  Yes, I was not a complete failure.

And don’t you know my thought was, “Someone heard me complaining that my cheesecake split in half when I placed it on the serving plate.  They felt sorry for me and purchased it.”

We just can’t quit can we!  Praise the Lord my feeble efforts to prepare a dessert presentable enough to earn money for the camp succeeded in raising a good donation.

The total raised that night was over $12,000.  Thanks to the generosity of our congregation and the fundraising of youth our church camp is offered to children free of charge.

Lord, please help me to be thankful for the success of the event and not compare my efforts to that of others.

 

2 Corinthians 8:12New International Version (NIV)

12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

 2 Corinthians 10:12New International Version (NIV)

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Teen Ranch Pizza

Thirteen hungry boys (if you count my husband as a boy) sat around the dark eight foot table in anticipation of dinner.

1974.teen ranch

Our first ranch family – minus one boy.

My husband and I were serving as house parents at Teen Ranch in Marlette, Michigan.

Ten ranch boys, our two sons and my husband John savored the aroma of fresh crust, oregano, tomato sauce, garlic, ground beef and pepperoni as they ate their salads.

It was my first attempt at making homemade pizza.  Sure I had used packaged mixes to make crust.  But this was really from scratch – yeast and all.  The dough rose and even smelled good at that stage.  Preparing enough pizzas for fourteen people was a challenge.  I doubled the recipe to make enough pizzas.

The recipe was obtained from a seasoned ranch cook.  Cindy Smith was so good to share her pizza recipe with me.  I scribbled the recipe down on a piece of paper and placed in my purse.  A few weeks later I tried to decipher the recipe that was crumpled up but survived that much time.   By the appearance and smell of the dough baking, it must be a success.

Two large pizzas were placed on the four foot lazy susan of the eight foot dark table and the guys began to move the turn table slowly (this was the rule) so that each boy would have his turn in sliding a piece of the delectable pie on his plate.

Jim was the first to dig in.  He took a large bite and said, “Yuk!”

I was shocked and said, “What’s wrong?”

He said, “It is sweet!”

Several more boys agreed with Jim’s verdict.  But they were so hungry, they ate their fill.

Sure enough the dough was sweet.  I checked my recipe again and found that I had used two tablespoons of sugar instead of two teaspoons of sugar.  Never made that mistake again.

Over the years, whole wheat flour was added to my pizza recipe to give it a different texture and also to be a little healthier.  Wish I had known that at the ranch – you just can’t eat as much of the whole wheat pizza – it is more filling.

While I learned to make pizza, bread and pies large enough for fourteen, the ranch boys learned to drink sweet tea, and eat southern – like pinto beans and cornbread.

This is one of the many memories that will be shared in our book Shekinah Lane to be published next year.  Our ten years at Teen Ranch were some of the most memorable and rewarding times of our lives.

Here’s the recipe for six pizzas (I doubled for the ranch, now half for us):

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Dissolve: 4 pkg. yeast in 1 c. warm water and 1 tsp. sugar

Mix together – 8 c. flour (I use plain flour and about 2-3 c. whole wheat flour), 2 c. water, 1 c. oil, and 2 tsp. salt

Add yeast mixture, knead (I knead in my Kitchen Aid Mixer), shape on pans or let rise:

The dough will be soft.  It is best to grease your hands with shortening and spread out to thickness you desire on cookie sheets, or pizza pans.  I also use Pampered Chef stones which makes a crisp crust.

You can use marinara sauce – I make my own with tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and other Italian spices.  Place sauce on pies, then mozzarella cheese, your choice of toppings and bake in very hot oven 450 – 500.

Enjoy!

Who will Purchase My Tupperware?

My treasure’s worth was soon to be discovered.  Browsing in a thrift store I spotted a large Tupperware cake carrier.  It was a deep yellow color from age.  Only $1 made it mine.

I wondered how many cakes were prepared and stored in this relic.  How many church dinners or family reunions were topped off with a crunchy crusted pound cake, carrot cake or maybe (heaven forbid) a devil’s food chocolate cake.

Was the previous owner a good cook?  Did her family gather with delight to see another confection revealed from the cake carrier?

Did the store realize the value of this container?  It looked like an extra tall cake carrier.  Back in the day it would have cost much more.
I brought it home and filled the laundry room sink with bleach and hot water and soaked the cake carrier all day.  I learned that at my first Tupperware party many moons ago.

It did not look as tall after removing the yellow stain.  Comparing my prize with my cake carrier in the pantry was a disappointment.  Not an extra tall cake carrier as I had assumed and needed (on occasion) but exactly the same size as mine.

Now what do I do with it?  The plan has been to DE clutter our house and eliminate things we don’t use and here I have another container that I don’t need.  Making a cake for a funeral or for a new neighbor and telling them to keep the container is a possibility.  But most people purchase a cake from the local grocery store and use the plastic container and then throw it away.  They may not realize the prize they have in this refurbished cake carrier.

Can’t help but wonder who will purchase my Tupperware cake carrier.  When I am gontuppewaree and my family cleans out the kitchen will they sell my large Tupperware cake carrier that stored many a carrot cake?

It may end up in a garage sale or donated to the local thrift store.  Hopefully someone will realize the value of the container and maybe bleach it and make a cake or at least place a bought cake inside and keep fresh a few days longer.

More important –

  • Will they remember how valuable they were to me?
  • Will they remember how much I prayed for them to be filled with the love of Jesus?
  • Will they be willing to share that love with others?
  • Will my culinary skills be my legacy
    or my love for God
  • and desire to be filled with His Spirit?

What will your legacy be?  Will your family know how valuable they were to you?

Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

We Will Remember Song Lyrics | Tommy Walker Lyrics | Christian Music Song Lyrics, Christian Music | NewReleaseTuesday.com

 

 

Memories

“No dessert until you play ping pong.”  That was my instructions to folks as they arrived for our Memorial Day Cookout.  I’d worked all day cleaning house and even the garage, putting out chairs for some to sit and watch the ping pong tournament.  However, no one took me up on the challenge.  Some of the men joined my husband at the grill and ladies joined me in the kitchen setting up the dishes they brought.
It was then I remembered, we are seniors.  You wouldn’t know by the food – I expected fruit instead of delicious desserts.  Many among us had serious illnesses or surgeries in the last few years.  Some had braved knee surgery, back surgery, throat cancer, pancreatitis and Parkinson’s disease.  Spouses were stretched to care for their loved one.  Our prayer lists followed each ones journey back to health.  Survivors you might say don’t need to play ping pong to enjoy one another.
After dinner, reminiscing about funny military moments for those who served in the armed forces (Army, Navy and Marines) caused all to chuckle.  The alligator story from a former Navy man amused us.  My husband digressed from the military to tell a story from his policeman days about how quick draw McGraw shot his reflection in my new mirror.
Sharing our stories, while not burning as many calories as ping pong, caused laughter to help digest our food and joy remembering the blessings of God on our lives these many years.  Then the chorus of “We Will Remember” came to mind.  Chorus and link to this song is below.
Proverbs 17:22
merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

 

We will remember we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give You praise
For great is Thy faithfulness

We Will Remember Song Lyrics | Tommy Walker Lyrics | Christian Music Song Lyrics, Christian Music | NewReleaseTuesday.com

Much More Apples

It is apple season in our part of the country.  Many people flock to the mountains to purchase their favorite variety of apple.  Our favorite is pink lady.  They are a late crop and well worth waiting for.  The rosy pink color on the perfectly smooth surface covers a crisp, tart yet sweet delight.  It is truly the apple of our eye!

This year a friend shared the harvest from his orchard with us.  He has been busy remodeling his house and did not have time to prune and fertilize his trees.  But with our wet summer and sunny days his neglected orchard produced a bountiful crop of Granny Smith and Arkansas Black apples.  His apples were not without flaws and took more time to peel and prepare for cooking, but the taste was wonderful.

My house was filled with the delectable smell of applesauce and apple butter.
 
Cinnamony apple crisp also added to the aromas coming from my kitchen.
Although my friend’s apples were not as pleasing to the eye as those found in the commercial apple orchards, and the skin was sometimes tough and took more work to discover the “good stuff” inside, the result was the same. Wonderful applesauce, applebutter and apple crisp.
In my reading in Proverbs 7 today – Nov. 7 – (I read the Proverb that corresponds to the day of the month) Solomon encourages his son to “Guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.”
How do we guard God’s word as the apple of our eye?  Sometimes his word is beautiful and soothing to our soul and easy to understand.  Other times we have to dig to find the “good stuff.”
Lord help me to cherish your word and guard your teachings with delight just as I have enjoyed the products of the abundant apple harvest.  Help me be willing to dig and find the “good stuff.”
My son, keep my words
    and store up my commands within you.
Keep my commands and you will live;
    guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
    write them on the tablet of your heart