The Genealogy of a Recipe


My family has a collection of recipes that come from various friends and family members. They are part of our celebrations and meals, parties and surprises. Some of them I can share (and I do, over at my cooking blog, Holy Spoons. That’s where you’ll find some of my grandmothers’ recipes.) But other recipes are truly family secrets and they aren’t mine to share.

That’s the case with these cookies, affectionately called “Mrs. Griffin’s Good Cookies.” I had to think a bit to remember who she was, who in the family knew her, and when I first tasted her cookies. (And, I might add, just about anything that came out of her oven could be classified as “good”!)

Tonight I baked these confections. As they cooled on the baking rack, we sampled them. (The broken ones, of course.) They were DELICIOUS!!

Mrs. Griffin’s Good Cookies


I had to consult with my sister and my mom to get some specific instructions, as the notes on my faded and stained recipe card didn’t have a few key instructions. But after texting back and forth a few times, there was clarity and success. Delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, amazing success!!

Tomorrow I will share these gems with church family and friends. They were well worth the work, and honor the memory of the generous baker who shared the recipe with our family in the first place.

I reflected on how much of what we know and do is handed down by word-of-mouth. Family traditions, holidays, celebrations all seem to come through the generations, each previous generation depending on the next to listen, take note, and (perhaps) improve on the work of the past. In the church it is no different, of course. Every time I read 2 Timothy, I reflect on how the faith of the grandmother and mother were accepted and lived out in the son/grandson.

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. (2 Timothy, NLT)

But the faith of Lois and Eunice would not have become Timothy’s had they not shared it! I suspect his first theological education began as he watched them care for others in their church, perhaps providing meals for a widow or for orphans. They patiently answered his questions and challenged him to make their faith his own. Paul reminded Timothy of this.

Cooking and baking is like that, too. You have to watch, try, and try again. You adapt what works in a modern kitchen. You get the benefit of years of baking and cooking. I’m reminded of my mom taking the recipe for corned beef (which called for a side of beef in a barrel!) and reducing the portions to make it with a 5 pound roast. I worked with the family’s treasured white bread recipe to make a tasty loaf in the bread machine.

Like many recipes, I’ve added notes in the margin now. What size pan I used, how long it took to bake, and any other reminders so that the next batch comes out of the oven with a little less guesswork. These “tried and true” recipes and tips are what bring the personal, special touch to our tables.

Not every recipe is a keeper! The “Grange” cookbook that was my grandmother’s was a hellish collection of jello salad molds, pickled beef tongue and spam recipes. I remember many of these dishes with a shudder…

So it is with the traditions and expectations of the Church of previous generations. We observe their “lessons for success” – and try to duplicate those practices which infuse life and love into our churches. Perhaps, just perhaps, we are discovering that there are customs that we can let go of… for another generation to grow their own expressions of love for Christ and reaching the world with God’s Love. We can keep the traditions that work… like Mrs. Griffin’s Good Cookies.

thoughtfully… and gratefully yours…


Friday Five: The Thanksgiving (food) edition

I’m hosting the RevGalBlogPals Friday Five this week!

Altar decorations at the Thanksgiving service last year.
Altar decorations at the Thanksgiving service last year.

This week’s Friday Five is because of my preparations for our Thanksgiving dinner celebration, which here in the US will be next Thursday, November 28th.

1. Turkey: love it? hate it? self-basted? fry it or roast it? Tofu-turkey?

I’ve only had one roasted turkey come out totally delish… I’ll be scouring my RevGals and Pals posts for their ideas.

2. Stuffing: bagged? homemade? sage? sausage? cornbread? oysters? nuts?

I usually go with a bagged stuffing, ready to add my own sauteed onions, garlic and celery. I don’t tend to get exotic on stuffing.

3. Cranberries: When we celebrated Thanksgiving in Europe one year, our French friends thought we were nuts to choose a very sour berry and then load it with sugar. (Let alone the stuff that comes out of a can in a blob of gelatinous ooze!) What do you do with cranberries?

I just “RTP” (read the package) and follow the directions.

4. Potatoes: (Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew…) What’s your pleasure?

I love plain baked sweet potatoes. Wash them, prick the skin with a fork and bake on a foil-covered cookie sheet. Serve hot with plenty of butter and maple sugar on the side. MMMMmmmm….

5. Pie: I’m married to the Pie Man. Anything but coconut pie floats his boat. What do you make? (or buy?) Pumpkin? Pecan? Apple?

I love a good HOMEMADE apple pie. I don’t like bakery pies very much as they tend to be too sweet and gooey. And I like a slice of sharp cheese on the side, a habit I picked up from my dad, who also rarely met a pie he didn’t like, like my beloved Pie Man.

BONUS: A recipe that you’ve tried out and will make it to your table this year.

I just tried a “Pumpkin Dump Cake” which is really more like a pumpkin custard pie with a cakey-crunchy topping. Or a cake-y pie. Whatever… The Pie Man has named it “Pumpkin Pike” and has approved it. :)


1 – 29 oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 – can of evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 cup sugar (some versions of this recipe use part brown sugar and part white sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
spices to taste – 2 teaspoons total of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger (you choose – I tend to leave out the ginger)
1 package yellow or spice cake mix (I made it with yellow cake mix)
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup melted butter

Mix the pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar and spices. Pour into greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over the top of the pumpkin mixture. Spread out chopped pecans on top of that. Drizzle melted butter over all.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes (so that the pumpkin “sets”). This is more like a pumpkin pie with a crunchy topping. (drool)

Summer Re-runs Friday Five

Songbird from RevGalBlogPals writes:

It’s that time of year when the only new things on television are music/dance competitions (the 21st century answer to variety shows?). Yes, it’s the season of reruns.

This week the clock turned back to last fall and the Glee kids went back to school and still got “slushied,” and Michael hired his nephew on The Office, which was not something even he would be likely to repeat.

In honor of this annual Time Warp, please share five things worth a repeat. These could be books, movies, CDs, recipes, vacations, or even TV shows.

1. TODAY’S WEATHER! Sunny, breezy, low humidity and blue skies. The high will be in the mid 70s. Oh YES. Please! (If you’ve never lived in the DC area, it’s really unheard of to have several pleasant days in a row during the summer…)

2. ANOTHER PIRATES MOVIE. We saw the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie last weekend. It was
delightful, funny, and had that magic combination of hero/evil enemy, love interest, desert isles and a good bit of swashbuckling. And Johnny Depp. Gotta love him.

3. ANOTHER HARRY POTTER MOVIE. We are waiting for the last installment coming this summer. We’ve all
read the books here (multiple times!) and while the departure from Rowling’s text is annoying, we can endure with a good bit of fantasy and wizard dueling. And don’t forget Quidditch!

4. NEW AND IMPROVED BANANA NUT BREAD. I have my grandmother’s banana bread recipe and it really is
hard to beat. Except that there are certain folks who don’t like the raisins and nuts which are folded in. I recently added a cup of chocolate chips to the batter. It was proclaimed outstanding. (And it makes the bread taste more like “Banana Split Bread” too. I am thinking about entering it in the county fair competition in August. It’s THAT good! (What? You want the recipe? It’s here!)

5. BABY BUNNEHS! Oh man. they are terminally cute. So tiny. Such big eyes. And of great interest to the humans and felines in the household. Believe it or not, they have not bothered my flowers. But they have scoured our lawn for dandelions and clover blossoms!

By popular request…

I mentioned on another blog that I baked bread and several people suggested (rather strongly, I might add) that I post some of my recipes. Well, I have a BUNCH of bread recipes. In the 100s. But this one is one that we love LOVE LoVEEE!!!


This was originally on a Gold Medal flour bag and used all white flour. It also didn’t use raisins. I’ve adapted it!

There’s two versions given here, one for the bread machine (bake it on a delayed bake timer, fresh for the breakfast and, hence, you get the name!) To my friends who are on the metric system, I don’t do math well so you will need to convert it yourselves… sorry…



  • 1 1/8 cups very warm water
  • 2 cups whole wheat plus 1 1/2 Tbsp wheat gluten powder (see notes)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chopped pecans and 1/4 cup golden raisins (see notes)
  • 2 Tbsp buttermilk powder
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (see notes)
  • 1 1/3 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp “fast rise” yeast or 2 tsp regular yeast


Directions (Bread Machine Version)

  1. Put ingredients in pan in order listed.
  2. Program your bread machine to finish about 20 minutes before you want to eat. This will allow the bread to cool slightly in the pan, but still be warm (and make you wake up drooling on your pillow… but I digress!)
  3. Yes. It is that easy!


Directions (Hand-made Version)

  1. Dissolve yeast in water in a large bowl; allow to “foam” slightly. Mix in buttermilk powder, sugar, spices and butter with a spoon (or mixer). If you are adding in raisins and/or pecans, stir them first into the flours, and then into the batter.
  2. Slowly add flours, alternating between whole wheat and bread flours. At some point you will have to stop using a spoon and/or mixer and use
  3. Grease your hands lightly and turn the dough out onto a floured board or countertop. Knead dough (pull towards you, fold over, push down, turn one-quarter turn and repeat). Add flour until dogh is no longer sticky. Dough should form a smooth, elastic ball when it is ready to “rest” and rise.
  4. Grease a large bowl, place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap or linen towel. When doubled in size, punch down, turn and re-cover.
  5. Allow to rise a second time, form into loaf, place in well-greased loaf pan and bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Depending on the size of your loaf pans, this may make two to three loaves.


Make the dough , allow to rise once. Roll out on floured board or countertop into a large rectangle. Spread softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar over the top of the butter. Roll up dough, jelly roll style. Cut cross-wise into pinwheels. Place in greased cake pans and allow to rise. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes (time depends on the thickness of the pinwheels.)


  • use good quality whole wheat flour! If you don’t grind your own, buy a brand that has the words “hard wheat” or “winter wheat” or “red winter wheat” in the description. King Arthur Flours in the U.S. is fresh and has hard wheat in it. Pillsbury and other mass marketed ones do not (and frequently they are stale and the bread will not taste that great.) If you don’t want to use the whole wheat flour, just use all bread flour and omit the wheat gluten.
  • wheat gluten helps a dough which uses whole wheat flour rise better and avoids “homemade bread hockey puck syndrome.”
  • golden raisins bake better; I don’t know why. If you like chewier raisins in your bread, soak the raisins in hot water until they plump up, drain well and add to dough.
  • cinnamon – use a good quality cinnamon – if you have a canister that has been in your cupboard for a while it will not be as pungent and tasty.
  • buttermilk powder is available in the baking aisle, but if you can not find it, you can use dry milk powder.
  • substitutions: to replace the powdered milk and water, scald 1 1/8 cups milk, let cool and use in its place.
  • I’m not giving you the calorie and fat information because it’s better you don’t know…

Enjoy, friends… and now, I really have to work on school stuff… sigh…


Figs and Cheese

My kids were NOT happy. Beloved Bearded Spouse and I absolutely loved them. And that is how it goes…

From the New York Times Dining and Wine section. (Though for our house tonight the title would more appropriately be “Dining with WHINES”!)

Published: September 12, 2007
Adapted from Gary Danko
10 minutes



  • 8 ripe figs
  • 1/4 cup fresh, soft goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon mixed minced fresh thyme and rosemary, or any combination of fresh herbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 fig or grape leaves, or 8 6-inch squares of aluminum foil
  • 8 rosemary-twig skewers or toothpicks
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Banyuls or balsamic vinegar.


1. Pinch figs apart slightly from their stem ends, forming four sides surrounding a central pocket. Into this pocket, spoon a small amount of goat cheese. Sprinkle each with a tiny bit of herb mix and a pinch of salt and pepper. From the bottom up, use a leaf or sheet of foil to form a cup around each fig; skewer leaf or foil through fig so that it holds securely.

2. Grill figs, open side up, just until they brown slightly and cheese softens. Remove, sprinkle with a few drops each of soy sauce and vinegar, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

YUM!!!!! and even worth hearing the complaints.

(and yes… we made them each try one!)