Prayer and Pumpkin Bread


Hi all– Our four oldest grand-daughters spent a few days last summer for Grammy Camp.  Before dinner I leaned over to our five year old grand-girl and said, “Let’s hold hands so we can pray.”
She asked, “What’s pray??”
“Well,” I answered, “It’s when we talk to God.”
She turned to me surprised, “You can talk to God??!!”
“Sure, I talk to him in the mornings and pray for you, that you grow well and stay strong and smart…”   The other grand-girls chimed in, “Do you pray for us too?!”
It was a sweet moment– the chance to share that part of my faith with that little one I love so much.  I hope it stays with her.

Here’s the girls at Grammy Camp –taking off on an evening flashlight hike!

 

I truly want to be a fervent pray-er.  Coming to God with an open heart every day.  I’m not always as prayerful as I wish I were.  It’s been on my mind.

Martin Luther wrote, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”

And a pastor, talking about prayer, compared it to his daily walks & talks with his wife.  Sometimes she is fascinating.  At times their walks are boring and she can even be annoying!  (I’m sure that goes both ways!)  But the cumulative affect of walking and talking day after day strengthens their bond, makes them closer.

And in the same way, prayer can be a struggle at times.  Some days I just say, “It’s me again praying, God, for the people on my heart and mind.”  But some days there is a worship and sweet communion with him that lifts my soul.  The bottom line is to keep showing up.  Drawing hope and strength from those times.

Just read Prayer, Our Deepest Longing by Ronald Rolheiser, a Catholic priest.  Great worthwhile book.
He writes:
“If we pray faithfully every day, year in and year out, we can expect a little excitement, lots of boredom, and regular temptations to look at the clock.  But the bond and an intimacy will be going under the surface: a deep growing bond with our God.”

 

So I wanted to pass on a couple things that have helped me.

I hesitate to write about my little notebook.  I’m not the best model of faithful prayer.  But it’s helped me– and might encourage you in your prayers…

In the morning I sit down with my Bible and my little pink notebook and a mug of tea.  And then I:
#1. Write the date
#2. Read a bit of the Bible and write what it makes me think (the Psalms are a good place to start)
#3. List 3 or 4 things I am thankful for right now
#4. Write down all the friends & family I want to pray for
#5. List the things I want to get done in the day ahead

Then I sit and pray over all of what I’ve written in the book, praising God and asking for help.  Then I start my day.

The other help to me in prayer is praying with other people.  Jackie and Debbie come one morning a week to sit and talk and pray together.  And when my Monday night friends come in each week, we share things we are praying for and talk to God together.  They keep me praying…

That’s it.  Hopeful you find great comfort and strength and joy in prayer too.

 

One more thing!!  –Made this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread for my Monday night ladies this week.  Some people kick off fall with a Pumpkin Spice Latte, but for me it’s this pumpkin bread–spicy and sweet and delicious warm from the oven.

CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN BREAD
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1  1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin, sugar, oil and eggs.  Then mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  Finally stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Spoon the batter into a standard loaf pan that has been sprayer with cooking spray.  Bake it up at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.  So good!

 

And here’s a few other favorite quick bread recipes:


Peach Pecan Bread


Orange Strawberry Bread


Cherry Chocolate Banana Bread

 

And one more thought:
Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.”  — George Herbert

So thankful we can talk to God, day and night.

Summer’s End and Peach Tarts

By all these lovely tokens September days are here, With summer’s best of weather And autumn’s best of cheer.   –Helen Hunt Jackson

There is a time in the last few days of summer when the ripeness of autumn fills the air.   –Rudolfo Anaya

 

Hey there– I’m wondering if autumn is rolling in where you are.  It’s just starting to come for us and I’m savoring the September warm (but not too hot!) days and summer fruit still in piles at the market.  This week I picked up a few peaches for tarts.

You can get these pretty tarts in the oven in about 10 minutes–so easy. They’re the perfect light ending that last summer meal.

PEACH TARTS ON PUFF PASTRY
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed*
2 large ripe peaches
4 oz. cream cheese
a few shakes of cinnamon
2- 4  tab. honey
serve with:  ice cream

Cut the puff pastry into 6 squares with a pizza cutter (or a sharp knife).  Lay the squares of pastry onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.

Divide the cream cheese into 6 parts and spread it over the pastry, leaving a 1/2 inch margin around the edges.

Slice the peaches thinly (leave on the skin) and layer them over the cream cheese. Dust the peaches lightly with cinnamon.

Pop them into a 425 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry is puffed around the edges and the peaches are tender.

Drizzle honey over the peach tarts and serve them warm with ice cream or whipped cream.  Enjoy!

 

And just want to say Good Bye Summer by collecting these memories all in one spot.  I’ll miss the golden days and good times with family & friends in these long and lzy summer days…

Kicked off summer with Grammy Camp— love reading and creating and laughing with those girls.

     

 

We began the 4th of July with a breakfast & beach walk along with dear friends.
     

 

Family came in fo the weekend to celebrate Nick & Alyssa’s beautiful wedding.


John & Laurel took us in for a great week in
Wisconsin— lots of boating, evening walks, good meals and time to talk…

     

 

The Monday night friends rounded up a few times for lunch over our summer break.  Love those beautiful faces.

 

A bunch of family met up rustic little cabins for 5 days of hiking, s’mores and campground meals at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  Loved having the grand-girls at arm’s length and waking under those glorious trees!

     

 

And finally there were a couple trips up to San Francisco to dote on grand-kids and to welcome new grand-guy, Oscar into the world.

   

Ah Summer, going to miss those long bright days, times with out & about with people we love.  But the joys of Autumn are around the corner.

 “The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.”

―E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

 

And P.S.  — here’s a few more favorite peach recipes:
Avocado Chicken with
Chipotle Peach Salsa

 

Fresh Peach Cobbler

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Peach Crostata

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Peaches & Cream Tart

 

 

 

 

  

 

Baked Pumpkin French Toast


Hello there– I have to tell you that this is one of those dishes that tastes way better than it looks!!  It’s sort of a homely little mess sitting on the plate. Looking at the photos, I thought I should just scrap this post, but then it was so yummy, I just wanted to give you to be able to give it a try!!  Please trust me on this one.

The toasty bread coated with custardy pumpkin is pretty delicious, especially hot from the oven.  With maple syrup, perfect!

BAKED PUMPKIN FRENCH TOAST
1 pound loaf French bread
6 eggs
1  1/2 cups cream or half & half
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cu brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup pecans (or more if you love pecans as much as I do!)

Garnish:  lots of maple syrup!

Cut the loaf of bread into bit sized chunks.  Put it into a 9″x13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until they are blended.  Then stir in the cream, sugar, pumpkin, salt, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.  Pour the mixture over the bread.

Cover the whole thing with foil and set it into the fridge overnight.  The next morning, take it out of the fridge an hour before you want to put it into the oven, to warm a bit.

While that is sitting, make the Crumb topping by mixing together the brown sugar, flour, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Then cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until the mixture is crumbly.  Stir in the pecans and sprinkle it over the pumpkin French toast just before you pop it into the oven.

Bake the French toast for the first 30 minutes still covered with the foil at 350 degrees.  Then remove the foil and bake for 20 or 30 minutes more until the top is golden and the pumpkin filling is all set.

Serve it up hot from the oven with along with a jug of maple syrup!  I think you’ll love it!

Morning Prayer


Good Sunday morning to you– A dear friend shared this with us.  His grandfather had said this prayer every morning as he rose.  I find it so beautiful and meaningful.  Wanted to share it with you…

Morning prayer

O God, Lord of all power and might, preserver of all thy creatures:
Keep us this day in health of body and soundness of mind,
in purity of heart and cheerfulness of spirit,
in contentment with our lot and charity with our neighbor
In our labor strengthen us;
in our perils defend us;
in our troubles comfort us;
and supply all our needs,
according to the riches of thy grace in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen

P.S. photo from our kid’s home in Ojai on Mothers Day.

Two Wonderful Cookbooks

Hi Cooking Friends– I’m guessing that’s most of you.  For my birthday this week two friends gave me cookbooks– and they are the best!  I’ve already made the Moroccan Chicken from one of them and it was so good!  Thought you’d like to see them.

Checked this book out from the New Book shelf at the library.  I started to dog-ear pages (I know– in a library book??!!) of recipes I wanted to try and it was half the book!  So when Jenon dropped it off as a gift I was jumping up and down! Everything is so so beautiful and just unique enough.  Amazing photography and little garnishing touches.

 

And this book I browsed through at a store on vacation– but being the cheapskate (frugal??) person that I am, couldn’t bare to buy it on first acquaintance.  But after I described it to my friend Joy, she scooped it up for me!  Everything in the book is a big board or platter full of ingredients– S’mores Platter, Beach Board, Mediterranean Board…   And I have the Big Board from breakfast a few weeks back to fill up with all these yummy recipes!  Such fun ideas more than recipes!  I think you’d love it!

Books & Breakfast –Morning with Friends

Hi all– This isn’t really a recipe, but an idea that was so much fun, I thought you’d like to know about it.  Saturday morning a tableful of friends came in the door for breakfast and a favorite books “show and tell.”

We started off with a breakfast board down the middle of the table– sort of a help yourself to whatever looks good kind of meal.  Drank mugs of tea and laughed and talked over the week…

Then we all pulled out a short stack of what we’ve been reading lately to recommend to each other.  I typed up the list of books with small descriptions and emailed off the recommendations for everyone to use for future book possibilities.  So fun!  (we all had things to say about each other’s books–adding on movie and podcast ideas).

So here’s the Breakfast Board list –just in case you want to throw one together–
(sort of like a cheese board, but with breakfasty things thrown in!)
Brie
Smoked Gouda
Sliced ham
Rye bread
Baguette
Cranberry walnut bread
Mini blueberry muffins
Hard boiled eggs (salt & pepper)
Pears, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe
Berry jam & orange marmalade, honey
Yogurt
Granola
Almonds
Seedy mustard
(throw on a few flowers for the pretty part)

I got the long board (4′ by 12″) at Home Depot for $8.  Larry sanded and oiled it to make a breakfast worthy serving board.

       
And here’s a handful of the books we talked about:
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl
Hearing God by Dallas Willard
Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah
A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

Here’s to friends who read and love noisy talks over breakfast!!  Can’t wait to do it again!

Sailing to Santa Barbara


Hi everyone– Have you been to Santa Barbara??– one of the prettiest towns in California.  It was a port on our recent cruise with our travel buddies, Paul & Sue.  Here were our favorite parts of our day there.

The Santa Barbara Historical Museum is a wonderful small museum– with art, artifacts and historical figures.  Fun to wander and read your way through…

     

The city center is full of historic beautiful remnants of Santa Barbara’s past.

    

We came upon the Regan Ranch Center, a sort of mini- Presidential Library, based on Regan’s nearby life at his ranch.

     

And we ended our day at the historic Santa Barbara Courthouse, climbing up the tower for city views and wandering through the gorgeous interior.

     

     

One last Santa Barbara Institution– McConnell’s Ice Cream!!  Thanks Paul & Sue for the best day out and about.