Hey Foodie, Say “Cheese”

I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like.

It could be that someday a new taste will not set well with me in that dairy category, but so far, cheese has always made me smile. Like Little Miss Muffet, I even like my curds and whey.**

Here in my area of the planet, it’s autumn and getting chillier outside every day. We naturally begin to add comfort foods to the menu which we might not have eaten during the hot summer days.

Like soup. Chicken soup, chili, bean soup, pea soup. Nothing like a steaming bowl of homemade soup or stew.

I’ll keep my pie hole closed for most of this post and give you a couple recipes using cheese. These come right out of my recipe box (stained 3×5 cards and all). First, the soup, featuring two favorite foods.about-cheese

Cheddar and Bacon Soup

  • 6 slices bacon cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2/3 c. chopped onion
  • 2 T. flour
  • 3 c. shredded cheese (I use cheddar)
  • 1 quart milk
  • ¼ t. pepper

In a medium saucepan, fry the bacon over medium heat until browned and crisp. Reduce heat to low. Add onions and sauté about 5 minutes or until onions are tender.

Stir in flour; cook one minute. Stir in milk. Raise heat to medium-high. Add cheese and cook, stirring frequently with a wire whisk until cheese is melted and soup is heated through (about 10 minutes). Do Not Boil! Add the pepper; stir until mixed. Yields about 6 1-cup servings

Now for a quick appetizer for snacking on crackers while you cuddle up in your recliner to watch a good movie. Or “Walking Dead,” if that’s your thing. This spread also tastes good on a sandwich with tomato. Use whole grain bread, an English muffin, croissant, bagel thins or whatever you like. You know me, I throw it together and see what comes out.

Pimiento Cheese Spread

  • 2 7-oz. jars sliced pimientos, drained
  • 3 8 oz. bricks sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • 1 c. mayonnaise

Place the drained pimientos in a blender or food processor and puree them until almost smooth. In a very large bowl, using an electric mixer, combine the cheese and pimiento, beating until partially blended. Beat in the mayonnaise.

The spread can be stored, covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. Allow the spread to reach room temperature before serving. Yields about 32 servings, 2 T. each.

Don’t forget the family favorite: grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. Or homemade macaroni and cheese. Loaded baked potatoes. Big old cheeseburgers, and, well you get the idea. In my world, any time is a great time for a dish made with cheese.

Eat hardy!

*Cottage Cheese

Who’s Hungry?

“I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” Job 23:12

“He humbled you, causing you to hunger…to teach you that man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:3

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.” John 4:13,14

“I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16man-reading-bible

“For they drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:4

“The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” Psalm 19:9,10

“I am the bread of life.” John 6:48

“The words of God which you receive by your ear, hold fast in you heart; for the Word of God is the food of the soul.” ~ Pope Gregory I

Now, are you hungry yet?

Chocolate Addict Foodie

Yeah, I’m addicted to chocolate. But you won’t hear me saying I want to recover from the addiction. Any excuse to eat it is a good one. Several years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to eat chocolate at least once a week. I figured it was a resolution I could keep.

Today is National Dessert Day so Foodie Friday will feature a couple (or more) chocolate desserts. But first, let’s talk about baking with chocolate.

Helpful Hints

For converting chocolate, these tips should help.

1 oz. (1 square) unsweetened baking chocolate = 3 oz. (1/2 cup) semi-sweet chocolate morsels. If, in a recipe calling for unsweetened baking chocolate, you use semi-sweet morsels instead, decrease butter, margarine or shortening by 1 T. and sugar by ¼ cup.

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder = 3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels. When substituting, again, butter (or whatever you use) and sugar should be decreased by the same amounts.

Chocolate may develop a grey film on its surface called a “bloom.” Chocolate bloom is caused by cocoa butter within the chocolate rising to the surface. It’s no big deal; it doesn’t change the taste, even though it dulls the color. Go ahead and use it for melting or baking. The attractive color will reappear.

Keep chocolate in a cool, dry place. It can be refrigerated, but if you choose to do so, wrap it tightly so it doesn’t absorb odors from other foods. Airtight wrapping also prevents the chocolate from acquiring moisture which can condense on it. This is a problem discussed below. Also, chocolate becomes hard and brittle when chilled, so allow it to come to room temperature before using.

About Melting Chocolateheart-dripping-chocolate

Important Warning: The smallest drop of moisture (even a wet spoon or steam from a double boiler) can cause melted chocolate to become lumpy. If this occurs, stir in 1 T. vegetable oil or shortening for every 3 oz. chocolate. Don’t use butter since it contains water.

Yield: One 12-ounce package (2 cups) of semi-sweet morsels equals 1 cup melted chocolate.

Top-of-stove method: Place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Place over hot, not boiling water. Stir occasionally until smooth.

Microwave method: To melt chocolate, place morsels or chunks of baking chocolate in a dry 4 cup microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. Microwave on high for 2 minutes; stir. Nuke it again on high 1 more minute and stir until it’s smooth.

These methods also, obviously, work for other morsels such as butterscotch, white chocolate, etc.

I’m doing the happy homemaker thing today. I’ve baked the squash and toasted the seeds from it. Next will come the mending, ironing, and laundry. But I just might get around to making something chocolatey for National Dessert Day. Brownies? Sounds good.

I promised some recipes and here are some I found. My favorite dessert, besides pie, is cheesecake and a well-done cheesecake is worth the effort. Urban Bakes offers her Hazelnut Chocolate Cheesecake. Looks dreamy.

Suburban Soapbox has a recipe for a No Bake Chocolate Mousse Pie. It’s easier to prepare than a cheesecake, but you have to save a bunch of your daily calories for it. It’s reeealy rich.

And these aren’t exactly a dessert––more of treat or snack––but here you’ll find a recipe for my ‘famous’ Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.

keep calm eat dk chocWe who are addicted to chocolate could have told researchers a long time ago that chocolate is good for you. We didn’t know anything scientific; we just knew we felt better when we ate it. Right? Well, here’s a story by Medical News Today with a list of facts about chocolate and some reasons backed up by research (finally!) for why we should be eating this sweet–or semi-sweet–substance.

Enjoy your chocolate desserts today!

24/7 Thanksgiving

The Secrets in the Box

Scraps of paper with scribbling on them populated a lidded box which was a gift from a friend. Periodically, I would add another scrap of paper to the collection. Occasionally, I took the scraps out to read them. I should have been scribbling more often and reading even more often.

My scribblings were praises to God for answering prayer, for meeting a need just in time when I hadn’t even prayed for it, and for giving me the strength to get through a difficult time. I called it my God Box.

Last week, after submitting another scrap to the box, I realized it should be full and even overflowing. I was paying attention to God’s faithfulness, but not recording it as a visual reminder. That may not matter to some people, but since I’m someone who journals and likes a written record of what matters to me, it mattered to me.

A Solution in a Jar

I begin most days–or end the evening–by creating a list of things to do. Years ago I began the practice of writing in colored marker at the top of the list “Be Grateful.” The practice of constant praise also matters to me, but I’m weak and often selfish so I need a reminder.flower-wreath-thanks

Another way of reminder, which is solving the problem of too few scraps of paper, was to place the scribblings in a place where I was more apt to notice them. Now, on the windowsill near my desk sits a canning jar full of papers folded up with my scribblings on them. I can’t help but see that container. The open blinds let the sun in and the sun shines through the glass. I see the folded slips of colored paper and, voila, my gratitude and God’s faithfulness are in clear view.

Since placing the jar in the window, gratitude doesn’t seem to be so secret. For sure, no one else needs to know, but like I said, I’m weak. I need all the help I can get.

From the Little to the Large

Gratitude for what God gives and what he does in my life has slowly become a way of life. As I drive around town, I often say, “Thank you, Lord,” just for the joy of seeing wild turkeys or a deer standing in a patch of grass. Little things can make me smile and I thank God for the pleasure of seeing critters in the city. (You should have heard my squeal of delight the day I left church and saw a red-tailed hawk swoop over the parking lot grasping prey in its talons.)

I’m also convinced he’s at work behind the scene and aware of my needs. How else to explain the woman at the thrift store drop-off station asking me if I need a twin mattress? I’m not sure what the look on my face said when she asked me. I was simply watching her wrestle it to the door. But, yeah, I was long overdue for a new mattress. I answered in the affirmative and she and her son loaded a name brand mattress––one-year-old and in pristine condition––into the back of my van. Then a couple guys from my church wrangled it into my apartment and took the old one to the dumpster. I would never have been able to afford that mattress, nor do the lifting myself.

That was a big thing. I know I shouldn’t be amazed at this. But I suppose keeping a sense of wonder at God’s works reminds me that, yes, I’m weak. I can’t do it all myself and he’s taking care of me.

Any Time is a Good Time

The jar sits on the windowsill for me to see every day. God’s goodness and blessings stand for me to see daily as well. I just need to keep my eyes open. When I can’t see something tangible, all I need to do is remember his mercy, new every morning. I pray to not take for granted that every good and perfect gift comes from him. Not only the things I can touch and see but the abundant life that faith allows me to know exists even when I may not “feel” like I have it.

I strive for a practice of constant praise. To “Be Grateful” 24/7, and not just because it’s on my To Do List. After all, Thanksgiving time is coming here.


Comfort Foodie

An Education

No one educated me as I was growing up about the proper terms used for the various gatherings which occur when someone dies. The only word I was familiar with was “funeral.”

Later, I learned there was also quite often a “visitation.” People went to the facility that was handling the funeral and viewed the body. They spoke in low tones and offered condolences to the bereaved family members. I didn’t know for a long time that this is also called a “wake.”

I became confused the first time I arrived at a funeral and the man at the entrance asked if I was going to the cemetery for graveside services. But I was still learning.

Finally, with graveside services over, we’d gather for the “funeral dinner.”

A Bit of Reality

A little over a month ago, someone who was special to me passed away. And though I’ve been to many funerals during my life, I’m still learning. This wonderful man’s life celebration gave me pause as I sat and watched the people around me.

In the chapel of my church, a buffet luncheon and tables were set up. We filled our plates and sat with friends to share memories or to just have normal conversations. I realized that having a funeral dinner gives a different meaning to “comfort food.” When we lose someone we love, we need to feel, even if for a short time, something resembling normal. We meet over a meal and we’re somehow comforted.

If a funeral dinner happens at a church, the food was most likely prepared by church members in their homes. The food is often simple. Friends and family members help by offering a kind of stability in shaky circumstances. The simpler we keep things, the better. Even silences can be healing.

Last week a long-time friend notified me her husband had died. I didn’t look forward to attending another funeral. But I surely was ready to be there to comfort her. That meant being there in any way she needed.

It turned out that I sat with her and her children, whom I’d watch grow up, at the funeral dinner. We ate some “comfort food” and talked about normal stuff. If I was the betting type, I’d bet that it won’t be long before she and I are sharing more memories over a meal and talking about what’s making life normal again now that she’s grieving.

A Recipe For Caring

We don’t like to admit it, but we know that food seems to make things better.

We get up in the morning and our bodies are ready for sustenance. Food makes that bodily craving go away. “Ah, that’s better.”

Someone’s having a baby and we throw a shower. Food–especially chocolate–makes the occasion better. Weddings include a feast following the ceremony. Because food makes it even better. The Saturday football game at our alma mater begs a tailgater. Except for our team winning, what could possibly make it better?

We celebrate the milestones in life with food, join in conversations at the dinner table with our family, grab some of that famous Mackinac Island fudge while we’re on vacation, and roast marshmallows over a campfire. Because food makes getting together so much better.

An Example to Follow

Scour the Bible and you find many instances in which Jesus was eating with people. Indeed, a couple of his most famous miracles included feeding thousands of people. What we in the Church call communion is based on the Lord’s command during his last meal with the disciples to “remember him.”

I doubt very much they realized the bread and wine were “comfort food.”

But I’m still learning and I know. It’s why we say we celebrate communion. In community we celebrate, we remember, and we look to the future.

Loving Father, I pray we always know the way to celebrate life, even when we face life without someone we love. Help us to make each moment precious and to create communion–community–whenever we meet with people. Thank you for the gift of food and the many ways it sustains us. Thank you for the simplicity it can offer in a grave situation. Help us to find our ultimate joy and purpose in you and to realize Christ is the bread of life. Thank you, Jesus, for being the comfort food that will never leave us hungry.

Back Up? Look Up!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2

October has arrived and people are planning fall events, one of which is called a Corn Maze. They’re meant to provide family fun and sometimes a little bit of Halloween mischief.

A corn maze is like any other maze built of shrubs. The difference between a corn maze and a maze of shrubs from those puzzles in the magazines is they’re 3D. The idea with any maze puzzle is to find your way from the opening of the maze and, without hitting any barriers, make it to the other side, where you can exit.

The puzzles are designed to have natural stops and starts built into them.fall-corn-maze-2-kids

I’ve done these puzzles numerous times. For the puzzle to be challenging going over the barriers doesn’t make sense. Besides, that’s cheating.

I could draw a line through one, but what’s the point? It’s more fun and satisfying to solve the puzzle and getting through by following the natural openings offered at each turn.

Furthermore, once I’m in, I can’t go around the maze. That means I’ll need to back up sometimes and start over.

So really, the only way out is through.

Life is like that. The way through isn’t straight. There are always many possible directions that look like the way to go, but we meet barriers at every turn. Natural stops and starts. We have to look for the openings that lead to other openings.

In a historical novel I read a few years back, two children asked the heroine to run through a maze. The first time she tried, she got lost, not to mention frustrated, as they ran ahead of her. The children, however, encouraged her to try a second time.

“Look up, instead of down,” they told her. “It might be easier.”

The advice didn’t make sense to her, but partway in, she looked up. There, in the upstairs window stood her Beloved, looking down at her in the maze. From his vantage point, he could see every turn that would take her to the other side of the puzzle.

Because she trusted him, she kept looking up and he guided her all the way out.

Naturally, the only way out was through.

Where Are YOU From?

Several years ago, I took on a writing challenge to create a poem from a template with the resulting work informing readers about myself and my family history. This is the result, a poem I had the privilege of reading at my father’s funeral. I regret he never had the opportunity to read it before he passed away. But then, Dad also knew where he was from.

Where are you from?



I am from buttered bread

sometimes with Welch’s jam.

I am from the hand pump on the back porch

that spewed out ice-cold water

and you weren’t really thirsty

but you had to take

your Saturday night bath.

I am from the lily of the valley

growing under the lilac bushes,

the scent sucked in just before

you gave them to Mama

who loved them more than you.

I am from Sunday morning nip and tuck.

Dawdling ‘round from Uncle Bud,

cousin Toad and his counterpart, the Frog.

I am from the way we tease and laugh out loud.

From “Stop that squirming”

and “Bow your head.”

I am from a Bible Mama plum wore out.

From Daddy’s faithful Christmas and Easter Sabbaths.

I’m from the middle of a little bitty place

and a rich Christian heritage

across the Rhine River in Germany.

From fried chicken. And apple pie

in a bowl with milk poured on.

From the toddler who drank fuel oil

putting scare into us all;

a vision of stomach pumps not quite real.

From the backyard wedding of my sister

and a reception in the woods where we

ate picnic style licking barbecue from our fingers.

I am from the tattered black pages of an album

Dad pulls out on his little whims.

Repeating names I’ve heard a thousand times

but won’t remember, he tells me I am from

these folks of buttered bread, hand pumps,

laugh out loud, and worn out Bibles.


copyright by Paula Geister 2005

Midwestern Autumn-Lovin’ Foodie

I live in one of the Midwestern states so I get to experience four distinct seasons. Autumn is my favorite.

The weather in autumn agrees with my body. Autumn also stirs my soul. I have fond memories of school starting, playing in fallen leaves in the front yard of my childhood home, and cookouts over backyard fires. (Say, “marshmallows,” “hot dogs,” “S’mores.”)

Autumn brings a harvest of some delightful produce as well, and pumpkins are ready about now. Or getting there. Those delightful places where they sell apples, cider, donuts, and pumpkins  open up during September in my home state. People flock there.

Hewlett-PackardPumpkins will grace porches soon–just as they’re picked or carved with a face. They provide a pantry item when we pack them up for the freezer. And in my opinion, eating pumpkin pies just makes more sense during autumn.

This is one of my favorite recipes using pumpkin. The cream cheese frosting makes it really special, but even without it, the bars are exceptionally moist. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs
¾ c. oil
1 ½ c. sugar
1 16 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together eggs, oil, sugar, and pumpkin. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and blend.
Spread mixture into a 13” x 9” pan and bake for 25 minutes.
While pumpkin bars are baking, make the frosting.

1 3 oz. pkg. cream cheese (room temperature)
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ c. butter or margarine, softened
2 c. confectioner’s sugar

Cream together the cheese and butter. Mix in the vanilla. Add the confectioner’s sugar and blend well. When bars are cooled, spread frosting on top.

If you want to use your own fresh or frozen pumpkin from your pantry, you probably can. I suggest using a food processor or blender to “whip” it into shape. Be sure all the stringy fibers are removed for the best texture.

15 A.W. Tozer Quotes

A.W. (Aiden Wilson) Tozer began his lifelong pursuit of God after hearing a street preacher in Akron, Ohio, at the age of seventeen. He lived from 1897 to 1963. The self-taught theologian committed his life to the ministry of God’s Word as a pastor, teacher, and writer. Some of his books include Knowledge of the Holy, The Pursuit of God, God’s Pursuit of Man, Fiery Faith, and Whatever Happened to Worship?

Tozer imageFor your meditations today, here are fifteen quotes from A.W. Tozer.

“Outside of the will of God, there is nothing I want. And in the will of God, there is nothing I fear.”

“I am thankful that justice is in the hands of God.”

“God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which he must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.”

“I want the presence of God Himself, or I don’t want anything at all to do with religion. I want all that God has or I don’t want any.”

“If your Christianity depends on a pastor’s preaching, then you’re a long way from where you should be.”

“Faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart.”

“Rules for Self-Discovery:
What we want most;
What we think about most;
How we use our money;
What we do with our leisure time;
The company we enjoy;
Who and what we admire;
What we laugh at.”

“To be right with God has often meant to be in trouble with men.”

“When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.”

“How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none.”

“We must not select a few passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”

“Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God.”

“We can be in our day what the heroes of faith were in their day – but remember at the time they didn’t know they were heroes.”

“God created the world out of nothing, can he not do anything in and through us?”

“We can afford to follow Him to failure. Faith dares to fail. The resurrection and the judgment will demonstrate before all worlds who won and who lost. We can wait.”

Photos In “Frames”

Tyler is a photographer whose blog I follow. His shots almost always feature trees or at least some aspect of nature. Lots of leaves, stones, logs, and lichen. You should go there and take a look at The Ancient Eavesdropper.

His most recent photo challenge was to frame our shots in an interesting way. I’m by no means as good as Tyler, but I like to fool around with the Fuji and see what I can come up with. I’ve been meaning to take some pictures by the Kalamazoo River near downtown in my fair city. The river’s usually pretty quiet there, but the critters can be lively. Last night I stopped on my way home as the sun was setting. These are what I captured.

Canada geese flock all over here. Some even stay in winter if they can find food.

ducks framed 2

Looking northwest to the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center, I took this long gander at a lone park bench (pun intended).

Fed Center framed

A lamp post ‘tunnel’ and a pattern in the railings frequently seen in Cereal City.

lampost tunnel

The path goes both ways and I thought of Robert Frost and that road less traveled.

lampost center framed

Next time I take the camera down to the river, I believe I’ll try early morning when the sun is on the other side of these same scenes. Perhaps I’ll even wait for December and venture out in the snow.

Be a blessing to somone today.