Not Just a Loaf of Banana Bread . . .

Banana Bread

. . . But a Memory, Too

All to often I find myself with over-ripe bananas (and since I like my bananas on the green side of ripe, it doesn’t take much for me to consider them overly ripe). Often, I end up throwing these bananas into the freezer to make banana bread with “later”  Sometimes later is a long time coming, and I have enough bananas to make enough banana bread for an army. (And that’s only exaggerating just a wee bit.)

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Hot Cocoa Bliss

Hot Cocoa Blog

Sipping hot coca and eating hot buttered toast is one of my guilty pleasures. I have shared some wonderful moments with my children, and now grandchildren, over a cup of cocoa and toast.  When I took my oldest grandson, Dillan, to the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah we saw Peter and the Star Catchers (it was fabulous) and for a souvenir we got mugs blazoned with the USF logo. What a wonderful memory to share, along with the cocoa we sip as he tells me about school, his friends, and his sports team.  Simple things can mean a lot.

This is my friend, Melissa’s recipe for hot cocoa mix.  I love, love, love hot cocoa, so this will be perfect to make it myself, and it will be a lot less expensive than buying the mix at the store.  A good thing, because I suspect that hot cocoa and toast will continue to be a comfort food for me.

Hot Cocoa Mix

(Recipe by Melissa Lawrence)

2.5 cups powdered milk
1.5 cups sugar (more or less to taste)
1 cup cocoa (I prefer dark Rodelle cocoa and add another 1/4 cup, my daughters like Hershey’s baking cocoa)
2 t cornstarch (helps with blending)
1 t salt

Blend in food processor if possible, or whisk well. Store in airtight container. Use 1/4 cup mix to 1 cup hot water, mix well.

Stir with a peppermint stick to add a festive touch.

Broccoli-Cheese Soup

Soup Blog
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It’s just a few days before Christmas, and this year, I am not at home.  I am lucky because I get to spend the holiday with my daughter and her family in Oklahoma (go Sooners!)  But, I do have to admit that it is a little strange not to be preparing for Christmas at my home. I didn’t even get out any of my Christmas decorations from the attic before I left. I did put up a “bookmas” tree, and some of my nutcrackers are displayed year round. Continue reading

Clam Chowder

For over two decades, I’ve made clam chowder for Christmas Eve.  This year, I am going to be with my daughter, Melanie , and her family in Oklahoma, for Christmas.  So before I leave, I am doing the clam chowder (and broccoli cheese too) tonight for my kids who live close by.

Today as I was preparing the vegetables, my mind drifted to memories of Kelly and I chopping the vegetables, working together to make the soup.  He was always so precise, cutting the potatoes into uniform small pieces.  And me, if I was the one cutting the potatoes, then ended up in haphazard chunks.  But they were still good to eat.  I make the chowder with butter and cream most years,  a rich wonderful blend.  In leaner years, I used butter and half-n-half or milk, along with the potatoes, celery, onions, and of course the clams, and it was still good. Some years I made cornbread to go with it and got the cute little oyster crackers,  other years it was saltines and toast,  or fancy crackers and dinner rolls.  And of course my Christmas dishes, which I earned through selling Tupperware.  Boy were they a fancy touch for our table. Add eggnog in fancy glasses, and it was Christmas.

But always the soup, clam chowder, the recipe and the tradition handed down from Kelly’s parents.  I remember many Christmas Eves spent at their home, Farrell and Nanette in the kitchen, chopping the vegetables and making the chowder for Christmas.  Farrell chopping precisely, and Nanette making sure everything else was ready.

In the years since Kelly died, making it year keeps me close to the promise of forever. Until then, I will continue to make it for my children and grandchildren, a legacy from their father’s family of warmth and laughter, and good food. Soup, a humble dish, fills hunger and sustains life — much like our Savior, who was born in humble circumstances, fills our lives and sustains us, if we will but let him in.

Christmas Clam Chowder

(My take on Nanette’s original recipe.)

6 – 8 potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 onion chopped

3 – 4 stalks (ribs) of celery diced

1 carrot peeled, grated

1 can  minced clams (or use fresh if you prefer & can get them)

1 can chopped clams

1 1/2 cube butter

1 quart half-n-half

salt and pepper


Melt 1/2 cube of butter in saute pan; Saute onions and celery in butter just until tender.  Set aside.  In large pot boil potatoes just until tender.  When potatoes are nearly done, start white soup base.  In heavy bottomed soup pot make a melt 1 cube of butter over medium heat until it is completely melted, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Add about 1/2 cup flour, whisking quickly to prevent lumps from forming.  As the flour/butter mixture thickens slowly add half-n-half starting with about 1/4 cup, whisking after each addition, letting the sauce thicken each time,  continue adding and stirring until sauce is thick and bubbly.  Reduce heat.  Add potatoes, onions, celery, and drained clams.  Stir in shredded carrots.  Add salt and pepper to taste.   If sauce is too thin,  mix a tablespoon of flour into a half a cup of milk, stir with a fork or small whisk and add to simmering soup to thicken.

Serve with crackers, cornbread, toast, or rolls.




Carrot Pudding at Grandma’s House

I decided I needed to give my grandmas equal time. So this post is about my Grandma Romrell.  Going to her house meant playing games,  doing crafts (always), and making treats.  Almost every time we went to Grandma’s house, our cousins would be there to play with too.

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With my brothers and my cousins.  My mom is wearing the scarf, and I’m sitting between Mom and her sister, Norma.(And in the background you see prints of Blue Boy and Pinkie; which is what I called them.)

This morning I was looking through my recipe box and I found the actual recipe Grandma Romrell used for making carrot pudding.  It was from her good friend, Grace Morgan. When I was about eight years old, I remember going to Grace’s house, with Grandma to cook. They would laugh and talk as they worked together in the kitchen. I was probably underfoot more than anything, but I thought I was helping.  And when my grandma made the pudding at her house, she filled tin 48 oz juice cans with the pudding and covered them with tin foil and put them in the boiling water to steam that way.

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Grandma Romrell with her grandchildren. I am the girl on the far right, next to my dad.

It rather tickled the editor in me that the original recipe I have calls for “graded” carrots and potatoes.  I give it an A- (for wrong word choice). I may have to try it, and do the steaming thing. I’ve included that recipe here, or you can use the the Crock Pot Carrot Pudding Recipe referred to in this blog post: Over the River and Through the Woods. 

Grace Morgan’s Carrot Pudding 

2 c. flour                         2 c. sugar

2 c grated carrots         2 c. grated potatoes

2 tsp. baking soda         1/4 tsp. cloves

2 tsp. cinnamon              1 tsp. salt

2 c. raisins                         1 c. chopped nuts

1/2 c. shortening               4 eggs

Mix and put in wide mouth quart jars. Boil in hot water and cook 2 1/2 hours. This makes about 2 1/2 quarts.

Toffee Sauce

2 c. brown sugar

1  c. half-n-half (or whipping cream)

1/2 c. butter

2 tsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

3 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 c. water

Whisk corn starch into 1/2 c. water; set aside. Over low heat melt butter, add half-n-half, brown sugar, and salt stirring constantly; slowly increase heat to medium. Bring to a boil; add cornstarch/water mixture return to boil, boil one minute.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.  Serve over pudding.

Over the River and Through the Woods to Eat Carrot Pudding . . .

Christmas at Grandmas

We really did go “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go” to get to my grandmother’s house,  and “the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow, ohhh”  fits nicely too because we did get to go on horse-drawn sleigh rides, complete with jingle bells—just like the children’s song recounts.

Over the River and Through the Woods

Christmastime meant gathering in the front room, Grandma Luthy would sit next to the tree and pass out the presents. There was a present from a cousin, and one from Grandma. Grandma almost always made us something for Christmas, sewed, crocheted, or hand crafted. One year she gave all of us journals, and I wrote in it faithfully nearly every day. She had one herself,  and one day I would love to read it through and learn more about her life.

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Neighbor Boys and Sugar Cookies

soft sugar cookies neighbors Christmas

One of our family traditions at Christmastime includes Christmas baking. Every year, the kids and Kelly would help me and we’d create plates of goodies for friends and neighbors. The plates included a variety of candy, breads, cookies including fudge, caramels, lemon poppyseed bread,  cranberry bread, or pumpkin bread; and cookies, oatmeal, chocolate chip, snicker doodle, and of course sugar cookies.The kids delighted in doing a knock and run method of delivering the goodies.

I remember one year I had spread the cookie making out over several days,  and we were getting ready to do the sugar cookies. A couple of the boys from next door were hanging out with my kids. I called my kids to come in to help, and during the course of a conversation I found out they had never made cookies with their mom, let alone decorated sugar cookies, ever.

So even though I knew, based on experience, that they were wild, obnoxious, and dishonest (one year they stole the Christmas lights right out of our yard) I invited them in to make sugar cookies with us.

My heart was warmed as I watched them first cut out snowmen, stars, and Santas, then after they had cooled, decorating their masterpieces with frosting and sprinkles.  And I was glad that they experienced the joy of making Christmas cookies; and that day, the only thing they took home was the cookies.

This is my sugar cookie recipe, that I’ve been using for over 20 years.  Another time-tested, kid approved recipe.

Soft Rolled Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 c sugar

1 cube butter

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp lemon extract

1 tsp soda

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 c sour whipping cream (sour cream)

4 c flour

Cream sugar and butter together, add eggs mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients in order.  Mix well, form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Divide dough into two or three balls.  Sprinkle counter with flour, roll out dough on top of flour.  Use cookie cutters to cut out into desired shapes. (If you do not have a cookie cutter, use a drinking glass, simply turn it upside down to cut dough into circles).

Prepare pan with parchment paper. Transfer cookies to cookie sheet. Bake for 7-10 min. at 350 degrees. Place on rack to cool.  Frost/Decorate after cookies have cooled.

If you simply want to add colored sugar to your cookies, make a “paint” of egg white and water (1 egg white and ¼ tsp water) and paint the UNBAKED cookies with this colorless paint. Then sprinkle the sugar right onto cookie. Then bake the cookies according to your recipe. 

Colored Sugar 

Place 1/4 – sugar in a sandwich sized zipper bag.  Add 1 – 2 drops of food coloring. Seal bag,  shake until sugar is desired color.  If color is not deep enough, add more food coloring.


1/4 c. milk

1/4 c. soft butter

pinch of salt

1 tsp. vanilla

powdered sugar (to make a spreadable frosting) about 2-3 cups.

Mix and then divide into small bowls.  Add food coloring to create desired  colors for decorating cookies.