Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Random glimpses of life at our house the past weeks.

The best word I can use to describe the last two months is abundance. Over and over I have been filled to overflowing. Sometimes it was physical - such as this wagon overflowing with our onion harvest.

After allowing the onions to dry, I braided some, dehydrated others, and cut the tops off for storing.

For years I have had trouble keeping onions. The onions would look fine when I pulled them but the inner rings of the onion would start to rot and would go bad from the inside. I have asked many gardeners how to solve the problem and received many suggestions including spraying for blight and planting seeds instead of onion sets. The lady at the extension office thought that maybe the culprit was lack of consistent watering.

I still don't know what causes it but this year we had the nicest onions ever. The Stuttengarten onion sets (the variety we usually plant) have showed no signs of rotting - and typically by this time I have already lost more than half the crop. Could it be that the abundant rainfall we received this summer was what the onions needed? The red onions were not going to store as long so I tried Quinn's canned carmelized onions. It was a fun project - though made the house stick for two days!


We picked and ate zucchini until we could eat no more. We successfully made zucchini relish and pickles - then I turned the children's creativity loose. They carved a whole village of zuke people along with bowls and other artifacts!

The first half of August was rather quiet and relaxed. The cool weather slowed the garden and I wondered if I would ever have enough tomatoes to can as they slowly died of blight.

But the speed of life ratcheted up a few notches at the end of August. Then September hit with hot weather. Suddenly my canner was in full time use. In two weeks, the shelves filled with empty jars were transformed to bearers of jewel toned jars of tomatoes, pears, grapejuice, carrots, and more.

 My sister-in-law generously gave me several bushels of tomatoes so I could make dozens of jars of pizza sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce, and juice.On the week that I was most overwhelmed with canning two sisters (one a birth sister and another a sister from church) called and asked if they could come and help me for a day. What a huge blessing. Not only was it nice to have an extra set of hands - the conversation made the day fly.

 Several readers have stated that they would love to have a big kitchen where they could can - so I thought I'd show you my kitchen. I love my kitchen - but it isn't large. Maybe you can see from the photo that there is a tiny counter between the stove and sink (barely big enough for a dish drainer) and another small counter between the sink and fridge. I don't think I'd survive without the island to the left. This is where I line up my jars or roll out bread dough. To take this photo I was standing next to another small counter, large enough to hold my cook book and the blender. You really don't need a huge kitchen to preserve food.

But it sure helps to move some projects out to the picnic table - like straining tomato juice - a very splattery job.

 And here is the view at my feet on the kitchen floor. Pure sweetness. (And don't worry, when there are hot pots around, I move her to another room. At this point she isn't mobile and stays where she is put. It is a joy to have such a content baby; some of her siblings would have never been so content to sit and play with toys - or maybe it is because she has so many eager entertainers and doesn't need to go exploring.)

 We had a great carrot crop.

 Carrots are such fun to pull!

 I've never enjoyed coffee but this summer Ed found a way for me to join him with his morning indulgence. Cold-brewed coffee combined with milk and chocolate syrup has been a yummy start to many of our mornings. (If you ask I'll give more details!)

Yes, I'm spoiled. In lots of ways. Especially when I think of all the events that somehow we didn't take photos of the past weeks. We've enjoyed  bike rides with family and friends. I soaked in the teaching and fellowship at campmeeting and the Oasis Ladies Retreat (and loved seeing many of you!) There has been sacred moments at church, fun sing-alongs on the couch, and even hard times when God's grace was abundant for our need.


 And then there is the sweetest part of summer...watching dear babies turn into even dearer girlies.

In some ways I hate to see summer ending -the close to the long evenings and sun-filled days. We are back to school now and every afternoon finds us rushing outside to soak in the brilliant blue sky and sun's rays.

So if I have been absent recently, and you are still waiting for a reply to your email - now you know why.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Sour Cream Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Just yesterday I was making Flo's Lemon Raspberry Coffee Cake. This was the third time I made this recipe since I keep sharing it with others or taking it to a fellowship meal so there is barely any left for us! I was also cooking the first pumpkin of the season so had fall food on my mind. I started thinking about coffee cake infused with pumpkin and spice and wondering if Flo had a pumpkin coffee cake. 

Imagine my delight to check my email today and find this recipe from Flo. Mind reader! I can't wait to try it. I'm skipping out of my blogging vacation (I will be back to blogging! Promise. When I put away my pressure canner...)  so that you can try it too.

Thanks Flo, for delighting our taste buds again.

Sour Cream Pumpkin Coffee Cake

½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sour cream

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped nuts

1 ¾ cup pumpkin (solid pack)
1 slightly beaten egg
cup sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 325˚. Grease a 9x13 pan. Make streusel; set aside. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Add eggs. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream. In another bowl, combine pumpkin, egg, sugar and pie spice. Spoon half of batter into pan and spread to edges of pan. Sprinkle half of streusel over batter. Spread pumpkin mixture over streusel. Carefully spread remaining batter over pumpkin mixture and sprinkle remaining streusel over remaining batter over pumpkin mixture and sprinkle remaining streusel over top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

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 @emypeople.net.


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