Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake

 Just in time for spring - a new coffee cake from Flo! Our strawberry plants are just beginning to bloom and the rhubarb is sending out fresh green growth. Soon we can enjoy the first spring fruits!

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
½ cup water
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 lb. fresh strawberries, sliced
2 TBSP lemon juice


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup cold butter
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla


¾ cup sugar
½ cup flour
¼ cup cold butter
¾ cup chopped pecans

In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; stir in water, rhubarb, and strawberries. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in lemon juice. Cool.

For cake, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla; stir into crumb mixture just until moistened. Spoon two-thirds of the batter into a greased 9x13 baking pan. Spoon cooled filling over batter. Top with remaining batter.

For topping, combine sugar and flour. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; add pecans. Sprinkle topping over batter. Bake at 350˚ for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. 

Florence lives in the northwoods of Michigan with her husband and three preschoolers. Her hobbies are writing and baking coffee cakes. A few  months ago she published a book titled My First Deer Hunt. This is a children’s story about the time her husband took their oldest son (then four-years-old) to the woods for his first hunting trip.  Email Flo at foxden

Monday, April 28, 2014


A hodge-podge from our lives the last weeks...

 Today I found the first tiny pea sprouts. It is wonderful to feel warm sunshine after a long cold winter.

Spring growth is also found indoors.

But we haven't been just sitting around watching seeds sprout.

On Easter weekend, we visited Ed's sister Jean.  It has been almost three years since Jason's death. I appreciate the many who continue to ask about their family.


We spent a day in Richmond, VA visiting Civil War sites...

searching for geocaches (our latest hobby)...

and enjoying the scenic beauty of an island on the James River. The children loved spending time with their cousins.

This past weekend we were on the road again, this time to Ohio.

A few months ago my brother Todd joined the staff at Ohio Wilderness Boy's Camp. As a counselor, Todd lives in a rustic mountain setting with ten boys. There they build and maintain their own shelters and learn to handle their problems in a positive way. We were familiar with the therapeutic wilderness camp concept since Ed is on the board of the Alleghany Boy's Camp but this was the first time we visited the Ohio camp.

The camp held a Trail Run on Saturday and all of my siblings except two plus our spouses and children came out to show our support for Todd. It was too bad my parents couldn't come but someone had to stay home and milk the cows.

This photo shows Todd and his family and friends that completed the run. This was no simple trail. There was very little level ground as the trail zig-zagged up and down steep mountain trails. Add some rain and mud to the mix and it was a real challenge - at least for some of us who don't climb mountains every day!

Most of the men did the 10K while the ladies ran/walked the 5K. My brother Brad did the 5K with two of his sons.

Not knowing if we had lost our sanity, Ed and I attempted the 5K with our children. A four-year-old nephew joined us. We all made it over the finish line. Ed gets double credit for carrying the baby the whole way! This was definitely an accomplishment our children will long remember!

That evening we enjoyed making pizza in a wood-fired pizza oven with some of the camp staff. Good food and fellowship!

But for the boys, the best was yet to come. Since his team of boys were at home this weekend, Todd allowed the men and his five oldest nephews to spend the night back at the campsite. They were able to get a real feel of Todd's life in the woods.

Both my boys said their favorite part of the weekend was cutting firewood for breakfast. By hand. No power tools are used at camp.


We ladies with the younger children and babies hiked into the campsite in the morning to join the campfire breakfast.


My family always enjoys good food - as any of you who read here often already know from our butcher days, doughnut making, dutch oven cook-offs, or apple cider pressing!

Then we took the 15 minute hike through the woods to the outdoor chapel for the Sunday service. It was a perfect spring day to enjoy the outdoors. But by this time my muscles were beginning to complain about the abuse!


It was a privilege to see where Todd is serving and meet many of his fellow staff members. If you want to know more about the camp or know of troubled boys who could be helped by camp, visit the websites for Ohio Wilderness Boys Camp or Alleghany Boy's Camp.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fur Balls

 Some sweet new friends.


This month, last year's kitten  became a mother.

My children have waited long for this day. We have had a problem getting a cat to live long enough to produce off-spring. The day they discovered kittens was a red-letter day.

These four kitten are being well-loved.

Any of you locals want a sweet little kitten? It will be a few weeks before they are ready to leave their mother but if they take after their mother, they will make a great family pet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Bagels

One of the questions I've been asked is how to make Cinnamon Raisin Bread.

You can use any favorite bread dough to make Cinnamon Raisin Bread. Some good recipes on Home Joys are Country White Bread or Whole Wheat Bread. In the photos on this post I was using the Sourdough Potato Bread.

I like to hydrate the raisins before adding them to the bread. Adding dried fruit to bread dough can make the dough more dry as the raisins suck the moisture out of the dough while it rises.

And none of us want dry bread. Right?

But neither do you want the raisins so soft that they disintegrate, especially if you add them to the dough while kneading. I usually add the raisins when forming the loaves to avoid problem. Or add them to the very end of the kneading process.

To hydrate the raisins I pour a half cup of hot water over 1 cups of raisins and allow to rest for about 15 minutes. You may also heat the raisins and water in the microwave. One cup of raisins will be a nice amount for two loaves of bread. Drain off all the excess water before adding the raisins to the dough.

For this bread, I rolled my dough thinly, spread on the raisins and generously sprinkled cinnamon and nutmeg. I also added some brown sugar. You can use honey if you desire. I then rolled the dough tightly and place in loaf pans. Bake as usual.

If you are accustomed to making cinnamon rolls, you probably also butter the dough. I do not use butter when making cinnamon bread. Butter will cause the dough layers to separate causing a great hole in the center of the loaf.

Want to make Cinnamon Raisin Bagels?

I again soak the raisins, this time two cups of raisins with one cup water for a batch of Sourdough Bagels or Whole Wheat Bagels. Halfway through kneading I add the raisins with 1 tsp of cinnamon. Precede with the remainder of the kneading and other directions.

If your family is like mine, the aroma of cinnamon and raisins will send them to the kitchen where they will beg for a taste.

You may not have any left for breakfast.

Friday, April 11, 2014

CD Giveaway - Mansion Over the Hilltop

I always enjoy seeing families who sing together. There is something special about a family joining their voices in harmony.

David and Laretta Meadath and their seven children have recently made a recording of their music. They combine vocals with instruments such as banjo and guitar.

(If you like to hear connections, Laretta is a sister to Regina Rosenberry who has guest posted here at Home Joys. And Laretta and Regina are my second cousins!)

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The past couple weeks, my children have about worn out this cd. My four-year-old loved to hear their four-year-old twins sing "The Worm Song." I've found my daughter singing "Daddy's Girl" to her baby sister. My boys like "Grandpa - Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days." This recording contains old fashioned songs like "The Little White Church" and "On the Wings of a Dove." My favorite is "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" sung to the tune of "The Rose." Lovely.

The Meadaths gave a cd for me to share with one of you. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment with your email address.

If you would like to purchase your own, email the Meadaths at dmeadath@ Cost is $13.00 with $2.00 shipping. There is discounts for quantities.

Giveaway will be open for one week. Winner will be chosen by

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Peach Coffee Cake

Peach Coffee Cake

1 cup butter, softened
1 ¾ cup sugar
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 can (21 oz) peach pie filling

1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
½ tsp almond extract
3-4 TBSP milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder; add to creamed mixture and beat just until combined.

Spread 3 ¾ cups batter into a greased 15x10x1 baking pan. Carefully spoon pie filling to within 1 in. of edges. Spoon remaining batter over filling. Bake at 350˚ for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

In a small bowl, combine the icing ingredients. Drizzle over coffee cake. 

 Florence lives in the northwoods of Michigan with her husband and three preschoolers. Her hobbies are writing and baking coffee cakes. A few  months ago she published a book titled My First Deer Hunt. This is a children’s story about the time her husband took their oldest son (then four-years-old) to the woods for his first hunting trip.  Email Flo at foxden

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Kitchen Bloopers - or Creativity

A few weeks ago I tried making pita pockets. Sourdough pita pockets. I didn't have very high hopes so was astounded when they turned out far better than I imagined.

 The pita pockets actually puffed!

My family enjoyed stuffing the pockets so much that I made them again a week later.

Apparently I had beginner's luck because this time NONE of the pitas puffed. I now had a batch of flatbread.

Scrambling for some ideas to feed my hungry crowd I turned them into personal sized pizzas. I raided the fridge for leftover chicken, brocolli, cheese, alfredo sauce, and BBQ sauce.

The children loved making their own pizzas. In fact it was such a hit that I've made the recipe since then just so we could make pizzas again.

And never again have they puffed like a real pita should. I don't know what I did wrong, but anyway, we found a new favorite.

What creative ways have you found to utilize a cooking flop?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Books on Bats

Our family has been reading about bats recently and enjoying the many fascinating facets of this creature.

What to learn about bats too? Here is a list of the picture books we enjoyed from our library. Some of these repeated information, but each one was helpful.

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Shadows of the Night, The Hidden World of the Little Brown Bat - Barbara Bush
One of my favorites, this book describes details of the brown bat, one of the most common bats in North America. Well illustrated.

Bat Loves the Night - Nicola Davies
A simple story of the pipistrelle bat, one of the most common bats in the world. Superb illustrations combine perfectly with the poetic prose.

Bats: Biggest! Littlest!  - Sandra Markle
Journey around the world to visit various types of bats. The photography makes this book a winner. A map at the back of the book shows where various bats were photographed.

Zipping, Zapping, Zooming Bats - Ann Earle
A readable informative book on the wonders of bats.

Bat in the Dining Room - Crescent Dragonwagon
(Whew, how would you like that name?) A just for fun book about the chaos when a bat appears in the restaurant. 

Amazing Bats - Seymour Simon
Bats - Elizabeth Carney
Two more bat books containing great photos.

Since we've learned how helpful bats are, we'd like to attract some more to our home. Have any of you built a bat house? Do you have information or a links to directions?

This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Apple Fritters on Doughnut Day

Last week was my family's yearly doughnut making day.


Good times and good food!

I've already shared my mom's potato doughnut recipe. None of us would think of messing with that great tradition.


But this year we also tried something new - apple fritters. The dough was similiar to the rich doughnut dough - with the addition of cinnamon and grated apples.

And the results were yummy! I think we have a new tradition.

We also used a new glaze recipe this year which we liked even better than are normal recipe. We used the glaze for both doughnuts and the apple fritters.

Want to try it? Grab your largest bowl and maybe a friend or two and have fun!

Apple Fritters

2 1/2 cup mashed potatoes
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 cups warm water
1 1/4 cup butter
3 T yeast
2 1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
4 cups grated apples
6 eggs
approximately 5 lb flour

Mix all ingredients together except flour. You will want a large bowl to handle this big batch! Add flour a few cups at a time until it makes a soft dough. It should be slightly sticky, but not too sticky to handle. Cover dough and allow to rise until double, about 1 hour. On a floured counter, roll out dough and cut. Traditionally apple fritters are cut into squares. But since we had the doughnut cutter out, we cut them into circles. Place on floured baking sheet and allow to rise about 30 minutes. Fry apple fritters in hot oil on both sides and drain. Glaze while still warm. Cool.

2 lb powdered sugar
1 stick butter, very soft
3 tsp vanilla
1 cup hot water

Stir all ingredients together until well blended. Do not heat. Dip warm doughnuts or apple fritters into glaze. Allow to drip on a cooling rack.


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