Pumpkin Bran Muffins

Hello all–   I promise– this is the last pumpkin recipe until next fall!  But I was thinking maybe you have a half a can of pumpkin lurking in your fridge still!  Use it here.

These were breakfast one morning last week when the kids were here for a few days of Thanksgiving.  Hearty and warm– perfect with a slash of butter and a little marmalade.  Breakfast!

1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 cup wheat bran
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup walnuts (or pecans), chopped

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin, oil, brown sugar and egg.  Then mix in the flour, bran, baking powder, salt and nuts.

Spoon the batter into a muffin pans lined with muffin papers (makes 10).  Bake them in a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  They’re done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Happy eating!

November Thanksgiving

Hi friends– I love this month, when many people turn their hearts to thanksgiving.  Not just the turkey and pie Thanksgiving, but the opening of hearts to number all the reasons we have to give thanks.

To help, I’ve made a list to get me started, one reason to be thankful for each day of November.  I thought maybe you’d like to give  thanks each day as well…

#1.  Which friend are you most thankful for? Why?
#2.  What makes you thankful about the place you live?
#3.  What made you smile today?
#4.  What have you learned from a hard experience?
#5.  What about your parents makes you thankful?
#6.  What did you see today that is beautiful?
#7.  What is different than a year ago that makes you thankful?
#8.  What accomplishment makes you thankful?
#9.  What was your favorite outing in the last year?
#10. What beauty in nature makes you give thanks?
#11. What is a childhood memory that makes you thankful?
#12. What do you love about the current season of your life?
#13. Which family member are you most thankful for?  Why?
#14. What kindness have you received to make you thankful?
#15. What is something about your job that makes you thankful?
#16. Which comforts in your life make you thankful?
#17. What gift you received made you thankful?
#18. Which day with friends has filled you with thanks?
#19. What is something you’ve read this year that has provoked thanks?
#20. What about God in your life makes you thankful?
#21. How are you thankful for something you are looking forward to?
#22. What spot in your home makes you most thankful?
#23. What do you see in nature that inspires thankfulness?
#24. Which music are you thankful for?
#25. What talents are you grateful to have?
#26. What memory are you thankful for?
#27. What struggle can you be grateful for?
#27. Which family tradition are you most thankful for?
#28. Where do you thankfully find peace and rest?
#29. What has given you most joy in the past year?
#30. How can you continue to be thankful though the year ahead?

And here’s the grand-girls with their own form of thankfulness last Thanksgiving.  Those girls are one of the things I’m very most thankful for…

P.S. Thanks to greatarrow.com for the Thanksgiving graphic.

Worth Reading…


Hi Reading Friends– here’s a couple engaging books that I found worth reading.  Both historical fiction from the last century, based on actual people– a look at some fascinating lives.


Set in WWII, We Were The Lucky Ones, spills out the stories of the the Kurcs, a prosperous Jewish family from the Polish town of Radom.  In the course of the war they are scattered– to a Siberian work camp, the beaches of North Africa, a ghetto in Warsaw, the Italian front, taking refuge in Rio de Janeiro, and hidden away on a farm in the countryside  The author, Georgia Hunter, is the grand daughter of Addy Kurc, escaped Europe on one of the last ships to carry immigrant during the war.  She brought to life the resourceful, determined Kurcs, telling their stories with her well researched details and a great heart for the the people of her family– harrowing escapes, loyal love, imprisonment, torture, amazing bravery and the beloved traditions of a family tied together even as they were torn apart.

Anne Morrow was a college girl, daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, when she met Charles Lindbergh, now a celebrity since his 1927 flight in the Spirit of Saint Louis across the Atlantic.  They wed and Anne becomes famous as the Aviator’s wife, living in the shadow of her famous husband.  She weathers the kidnapping of her 18 month old son, raises a house full of children and eventually comes into her own, as an aviator and author.  Melanie Benjamin gives us a picture of a troubled marriage, reflecting the times and the price of fame– a fascinating look at a complicated woman and her bigger than life husband.


P.S. Painting at the top by Carl Vilhelm Holsoe (Danish).

Thankfulness & Gratitude


“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude.  Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.  Thankfulness may consist of merely words.  Gratitude is shown in acts.”
Henri Frederic Amiel –(1821-1861) Swiss philosopher & poet

Hoping and praying I can translate my thankfulness to gratitude– moving on from just feeling thankful, to caring well for people around me to show real overflowing gratitude.

“‘So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to lives your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  –Colossians 2:6-7


P.S. The Matilija Poppy at the top was blooming everywhere in Ojai on a recent trip there– so striking, large as my hand!

Stacked Green Chili Enchiladas

Hola!  Here’s dinner with a crowd of friends who came in last week.  Happily, it was pretty easy to make two big pan-fulls–using pre-roasted chicken from the market.  Instead of rolling all those enchiladas, you just stack the ingredients in a baking dish and pop it into the oven.

And I think they all loved it because there was only 1 serving leftover to take a picture to show you!

1 grocery store roast chicken,
deboned & cut to bits
1/4 cup butter
2 tab. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup flour
14 oz. can chicken broth
1 cup milk
4 oz. can diced green chilis
1/2 cup salsa verde
2 cups grated cheddar jack cheese
12 to 14 corn tortillas
garnish: avocado and a little more sour cream

Remove the skin, debone and cut the chicken to small chunks.  Cut the tortillas into 6 triangles each.

Melt the butter in a large skillet of pot.  Add the olive oil and garlic.  Bring it to a simmer and stir in the flour until it’s a thick paste.  Keep simmering and stir in the chicken broth a bit at a time.  Then add the milk the same way.  Continue to stir until it thickens.

Mix in the green chilis and salsa verde. Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream.

In a 9″x13″ baking dish, pour 1/4 cup of the sauce to coat the bottom of the dish.  Layer 1/3 of the tortilla triangles to cover the bottom the baking dish.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the chopped chicken over the tortillas.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese on top.  Then drizzle 1/3 of the sauce over the cheese.

Repeat the same layer process two more times, topping with a full cup of cheese.

Tent foil over the baking dish, so that it doesn’t touch the cheese on top.  Bake it all up at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Take off the foil and cook 10 minutes more to melt the cheese completely.

Cut into squares and serve with a dollop of sour cream and a little avocado.

Open Heart, Open Home

Table ready for friends to sit and eat and talk 

Hi friends– The year we lived in Costa Rica, we attended a small church in a village, a bus ride and then a kilometer walk from our home.  We loved those people, who opened their church doors and their arms to us.

One Sunday Eunice asked us to her house for tea after the church service.  She stopped by a little roadside market for a couple tea bags and a small packet of soda crackers.  We sat in her small home cobbled together from scraps of boards and a tin roof,  talked over the tea from chipped cups– and never felt more cared for, more welcome.

I learned a lot about hospitality from dear Eunice.  And learned how to meet friends at the door with welcoming hugs from our buddy Jenni.  And from Tim and Jill, how to make conversation around the table sparkle. I’ve learned impromptu meals can be the best from Carmen–as we carried the table and chairs up stairs onto the roof on a sweltering summer night in southern Spain, to sit and talk and sing over plates of simple tapas.

I’ve learned from Jen Hatmaker, who wrote in her book, For the Love–

“A shared table is the supreme expression of hospitality every culture on earth.  When your worn-out kitchen table hosts good people and good conversation, when it provides a safe place to break bread and share wine, your house becomes a sanctuary, holy as a cathedral.”   (page 116)

There’s a joy to setting plates around a table, anticipating friends in the door, praying for them and the time you will spend together.  And also there’s chocolate cake–that’s always good too.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.   Romans 12: 12-13

Farro Enchilada Bowl


Hello Blog Friends– We could eat Mexican-ish food 7 days a week around here.  On one of those questionnaires you see that ask, “What 5 things do you always have in your fridge?”, tortillas would be at the top of the list.  Last night it was left over try-tip in a quesadilla with avocado and chicken fajitas is a staple on our table.

But here’s a tortillas-less bowl of Mexican flavors, topped with sour cream and guacamole. It was just right for a warm early summer supper with a cold glass of “tinto de verano” (Fresca, red wine & lemon).

2 cups farro
1/2 tsp. salt
2 chicken breasts, but to smallish bits
2 tab. olive oil
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 large avocado
1 cup cherry tomatoes
a couple shakes of garlic salt
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine
1 can chili beans, rinsed
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen, microwave 2-3 minutes until tender.
garnish: sour cream, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), cilantro

Cook the faro according to the directions on the package.  (Mine cooked with 5 cups water, 1/2 tsp. salt for 10 minutes) Drain extra water, if there’s some in the pot.

While that’s cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add in the chicken chunks, cooking until they are well browned and cooked through.  Stir in the cumin, chili powder and 1/2 tsp. garlic salt along with a couple tablespoons of water.

To make the simplest guacamole, smash the avocados along with a couple tablespoons of tomato cut to tiny pieces and a couple shakes of garlic salt.

Then layer it all up in a bowl– the farro, chili beans, corn, chicken, sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes & pepitas– and tuck in!