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Sweet Potato and Pear Soup

This past weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada. The weather where I live was sunny and warm, making a gorgeous backdrop to the golds, oranges and reds in the trees. Today is a little more typical for fall…overcast and windy.

Over the last several weeks, my husband and I have been working on new landscape in front of our home. It’s mostly done but we will add the finishing touches in the spring.

The two new additions we are most excited about are the new Pin Oak tree and the Burning Bushes. Buying them at this time of the year allowed us to see how pretty they will turn every autumn. Too bad I didn’t think of taking pictures when the sun was out this weekend when the red really popped…but this should give you an idea.


With this change of season, I thought I’d share one of my favourite fall soup recipes. I made this up one night with what I could find in the house and we enjoyed it. Hope you will, too.


Sweet Potato & Pear Soup

  • 1 leek chopped
  • 1 Tbsp of fresh ginger chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 Bosc pears, peeled and cubed
  • 3 ½ Cups vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon
  • ¼ Cup of cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté chopped leek and ginger in melted butter until soft. Add sweet potato and sauté for 3 minutes. Add vegetable stock. Bring to boil for 10 minutes. Add Pears. Continue to boil for 10 more minutes. Stir in cinnamon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and puree soup (either in blender or with wand). Add cream and serve!


Cherie Gagnon– Cherie

Sweet and Sour Green Beans

This is my sister-in-law Cindy’s recipe. It’s a Thanksgiving staple for my family. Familiar green beans get a fresh, tasty makeover that is perfect for a fall day.
beans 2

Sweet and Sour Green Beans and Carrots

Perfect for fall – apples, bacon and onion.

1 quart fresh or canned green beans
1 can sliced carrots (or fresh)
3 to 4 slices bacon
1/2 onion, sliced and diced
1 to 2 apples, cored and diced
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

If beans or carrots are fresh, cook until tender. Fry bacon, then cook onion in the bacon drippings. In stock pot, combine beans, carrots, crumbled baon and cooked onion. Add raw apple, salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar. Heat until the apples are tender and mixture is cooked through. May want to add more or less sugar and vingar depending on taste.

I  hope you enjoy Cindy’s recipe!

~ Susan

This cake is scrumptious and you’ll never believe the secret ingredient!

I’ll just tell you – it’s zucchini. Sorry about the headline, but it seems that’s the way to write headlines now, I see it on every video posted on Facebook.Zucchini cake

So here in late summer, I’m trying to power my way through the garden produce. I have reached my cantaloupe saturation point. I’ve quit picking cucumbers. The freezer is full to the brim of corn and tomatoes. And I’m thinking up reasons to make this cake. Lucky for me, Sunday was my friend Stefanie’s birthday.

And the reason that was lucky was not ONLY because it uses zucchini, but because it tastes absolutely delicious. I don’t know how a green vegetable can make a dessert so wonderful, but it does. This recipe is from the Nodaway County Historical Society’s “Taste of History” cookbook.

Zucchini Spice Cake

1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
3 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 heaping c. shredded zucchini
1 c. nuts (optional)

Mix oil and sugar. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and dry ingredients. Stir in zucchini and nuts. Pour into a 9 x 13 pan and bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes. When cool, frost with cream cheese frosting.

The original recipe was for a zucchini bread and it would work just as well if you baked it in a loaf pan. This is a great way to use up the larger squash. Leave the skin on when grating. And as the original recipe says, “Pack zucchini in measuring cup as this is what makes this a good, moist cake.” Serve with a side of cantaloupe.

Susie Pink
Thanks for reading today!

~ Susan


The power of a volunteer

Gardening is good for the soul. This year, it has been both challenging and rewarding – but isn’t it every year? We’ve had a lot of rain, producing abundant crops. And weeds.

From one little seed.

From one little seed.

The thing I have learned this year is what volunteer plants can do. While mowing early this summer, I found a little plant growing in the yard near the back step. Since it seemed like a scrappy little thing – and I figured it must be watermelon – I couldn’t bring myself to mow it off, so I cut all around it and let the little plant grow.

And grow it did!

It turned out to be a cantaloupe. This is a single plant that grew from one little seed that fell in the grass last fall. At last count, there were 10 cantaloupe growing on it. I’ve already harvested one and it was delicious.

Patty pan squach

White patty pan squash. They taste great grilled or fixed in the microwave with a little butter.

Something unusual also sprouted from the compost pile. It turned out to be patty pan squash. I got some from the University Extension garden last fall. It’s a yummy little squash that is also adorable.

Never again will I doubt the value of a volunteer!
Susie Pink

Have you ever had a “volunteer” turn into something good?

~ Susan

Saving June


Sweet peas and raspberry brambles growing together in my backyard.

The long, hazy days between summer solstice and the Fourth of July – aren’t they just the best.

The raspberry crop is exceptional this year, thanks to abundant rainfall. With an old ice cream bucket slipped over my elbow, I’ve been picking piles of them. The overflow has been packed in containers and preserved in the freezer.

Always, the date is carefully penned on the lid.

berry 2

Some day deep into winter, I’ll pull it out of the freezer and think about June 25. A day when I was preparing for the future.

I’ll remember a soft summer night when the fireflies twinkled and I walked barefoot through the grass to pick raspberries. And smile because of a small piece of June saved for January.



Watermelon Punch

watermelon punchI suppose this is more of a summer than spring recipe… but I just bought my first full-sized watermelon of the year this week. Obviously, they were imported to Canada and I’m grateful for the warmer locations for providing out-of-season produce!

You know when you buy a large watermelon and it just becomes too much to eat? Or, you think you bought a perfect watermelon, only to find it overripe and too mushy?

You don’t have to throw anything away! Scoop out that watermelon and puree it (either with a wand directly in a pitcher or in a blender). Mix in sparkling water, 7-Up or ginerale. About a 1:1 ratio. I also like to add the juice of one lemon or two limes.

If you want, decorate it with a sprig of mint or a slice of lemon.

Cherie GagnonCherie


Yesterday was the last day of school and it was time for me to give my first final test. What do you do in FACS class for a final? We did a very small version of the popular TV show, “CHOPPED”.

The girls paired up and then opened their brown paper bag with three items they had to use: 1 can crescent rolls, cream cheese, and spinach. In the pantry, I’d put cooked chicken, browned ground beef, strawberries, blueberries, pie filling, etc.

These girls amazed me one more time! They didn’t let the lack of a recipe stop them from creating.

The judges plate

The judges plate

The girls used the chicken, beef, strawberries, and blueberries. If the judges were a bit timid coming in, they left with smiles on their faces because they got to try some great food!

It was fun to see these girls and their confidence to create without a recipe. One of the girls commented, “When I move out on my own, I’ll always remember that if I have nothing else to fix for supper, you can do just about anything with crescent rolls!”

This was a great way to end our class. What a great group of young ladies I have been blessed to work with. Sixteen ladies who have touched my life. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for them!

Enjoy your weekend,

First Dip of the Summer


Summer is fast approaching, and it will soon be time to TAKE A DIP!!

I guarantee, if you take this one you will be invited back often!!


Jalapeno Popper Dip


Two (2) 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened.

One (1) Cup Mayo (the real stuff)

6-8 slices bacon, diced, fried crisp and drained

6-8 jalapenos, chopped (I used 1 4 oz can of diced jalapenos. Two would have given it more zip but there were small children at this gathering and didn’t want to burn their mouths).  However, if you use the real jalapenos, you can choose whether or not to keep the seeds….the seeds will make it VERY hot. The canned jalapenos have the seeds.

one-half (1/2) cup grated cheddar cheese   (I used sharp cheddar)

one-half (1/2) cup mozzarella cheese

Mix together well (helps if cream cheese is really soft)

Then TOP with:

One (1) cup crushed crackers (I used Ritz)

one-half (1/2) stick butter

one-half (1/2) grated parmesan cheese

Spread dip mixture into a pan of choice (I used a stoneware  pie plate but glass would do just fine.)

Add the topping, and make sure it goes clear to the edges.

Bake at 350 until bubbly.  Can be served hot….or cold.  We found that after it sits it seems to have a bit more zing!



Do You have a favorite dip. Share it, please.  And we’ll all take the first summer plunge!!




road 2 we like!

Grandma’s Lemon Cake

lemonadeYesterday, I wore a floral print top to church – in honor of my Grandma Violet’s birthday.

Grandma loved bright colors and floral prints. (I inherited her sense of style, just ask my sisters.) And she loved having us all over for her birthday, which often fell on Mother’s Day as it did this year, to enjoy her delicious cooking and sit on the patio and enjoy her flowers.

Chatting with my sister yesterday, she mentioned it was her turn to take treats to Sunday school, so she made Grandma’s lemon cake in honor of her birthday. Several people in the class said their grandma made that cake, too!

It’s a simple and delicious dessert that tastes just like a sunny spring day.

Grandma’s Lemon Cake

1 lemon cake mix
1/3 c. oil
3 eggs

1/3 c. frozen orange juice concentrate
1 c. powdered sugar

Bake cake according to directions. Mix orange juice and powdered sugar for glaze. While cake is still warm, poke lots and lots of holes in it with a fork. Pour the glaze over the top. It tastes best to prepare the night before and let it get really moist. I’ve also used pre-made orange juice and it works just as well.

Wearing my floral - Grandma style.

Wearing my floral – Grandma style.

Did your grandma make this cake?


~ Susan

Missouri rice is nice


Varieties of Missouri grown rice

This weekend, I was at the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture with the Agri-Business Expo Center. Our booth was next to the Missouri Rice Council. Perhaps you didn’t know that Missouri ranks as the fifth largest rice producing state. It is grown in the Bootheel, a long day’s drive from where I live.

At the “Taste of Missouri Agriculture” dinner we got to sample all kinds of Missouri grown foods, including Martin Rice Co. rice fixed in fancy ways. The Martin family operates a rice mill and at their booth, they gave away bags of Jasmine Aromatic rice. Because they didn’t want to haul it all the way back home, they plied us with several bags.


Hot rice and red salmon – two new dishes!

So guess what I fixed for Sunday dinner! Our theme this week is “Trying New Things” so I’m sharing the results. The rice smelled very good while it was cooking. Jasmine rice, I learned this weekend, tends to cook as individual grains, rather than clumping up like long grain rice.

You can tell in the picture how snowy white it is. The only seasoning I used was butter and it was yummy. My rice was a little sticky – I think that means I either used too much or too little water. The farmers gave us some web sites to find recipes, so I am going to look up the recipe for rice and peas they served at the dinner.

Since it was a day for new things – and I hadn’t been to the grocery store in ages – I also cooked some salmon a friend had given me. She has family in Alaska that ships red salmon. I baked this in the oven with a coating of mayo and seasonings. It was very flavorful and you can see the deep color.

I enjoyed trying this new foods and am looking forward to trying them again now that I know more.

ag expo booth

Working at our booth at the conference

And I think rice is nice!

~ Susan