We woke up this morning
to a wonderland of shimmering ice.
The Heavens kissed the trees with glitter.

There are two ways to live your life.

One is as though nothing is a miracle.

The other is as though everything is a miracle.

~Albert Einstein

Come out of that crispy air,

stomp the ice off your feet

and come in to my warm country kitchen…

The weatherman urged people to stay in their homes, the roads were far too icy and dangerous to travel. Fortunately, we knew an ice-storm was on it’s way, so we stocked up the day before, just in case. So, while the wind whistled a frosty song, I simmered a batch of Chili with all the toppings and trimmings. Fritos Corn Chips, shredded cheddar cheese, French’s French Fried Onions, sour cream dollops, Jalapeno slices, sweet cornbread and butter. Hot Mulled Cider steamed in the crock-pot all day, with mugs standing by waiting to be filled. We sat by the fire and warmed our backs , while our simple meal warmed our tummys.

And for something sweet……..
Checker-board Cherry Pie was on the menu. (See recipe below)

Checkerboard Cherry Pie

1 double crust (recipe below)

4 tablespoons Minute Tapioca (one tablespoon to layer on bottom of crust)

3 bags (6 cups) frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch salt

1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract

  • Place dough in pie plate, crimp, sprinkle Minute Tapioca on bottom of crust
  • Mix cherries with sugar, cornstarch, 3 tbls. tapioca, cinnamon, salt, Almond Extract
  • Pour cherry mixture into crust
  • Roll out other half of dough, cut into squares.
  • Place on top of cherries in a checkerboard design
  • Brush with milk and sprinkle sugar.
  • Cover crust edge with foil to prevent it from burning.
  • Place foil lined cookie sheet on bottom rack to catch juices.
  • Bake at 375 for one hour or a little longer, until the juices are thick and clear.

Cherry pie is not my favorite, but this is a good pie if you like cherries. Next time I think I’ll make a Checkerboard Blackberry Pie. I love anything “checkerboard” so this is a fun and different design to do….easy too!

Happy Homemaking Tips!

Creating a happy baking atmosphere is important. It opens the door to a more joyful cooking experience. (Girls just wanna have fun, right?)

A happier woman makes a happier home. (Amen, sister.)

It’s always best when trying a new recipe to do it when you will have less distractions and interruptions (like when the kids are at school or taking a nap. Of course when the recipe is familiar, let the kids help, or at least let them enjoy the cozy feeling of mama cooking in the kitchen) then start with these ideas :

1. Put a cute apron on. (To get in that June Cleaver mood! Love her, wanna be her!)

2. Clean the kitchen (girl, scrub that sink till it squeaks! Don’t forget your hands too!)

3. Light a candle.

4. Put on some easy-listening music ( I prefer Classical , something that will allow you to concentrate)

5. Pour yourself some Sweet Tea or Ice Water with Lemon.

6. Set out everything you need, from ingredients to utensils. (I have started a recipe too many times only to find out I was out of something important…like the main ingredient. Oh, good gravy!)

7. Embrace the moment. Realize what you are doing is going to bless someone, even if that someone is you. Good for you!

8. Use enough sugar (don’t skimp) and real butter. Listen, if you are going through the trouble and expense of making a dessert, make it so it will taste like it was worth the effort. You don’t have to eat a lot of it, take a small portion and savor every bite slowly.

9. Put your big-girl pants on and bake that pie (or cake or…whatever). If I can do it so can you. Keep practicing. Don’t make me say it….oh, alright…practice makes perfect.

My little counter top Pie-Safe is one of my favorite vintage pieces. It was probably built by a farmer for his wife to store baked goods, like pies, cakes and biscuits. ( I wish I could go back in time and meet her and chat about her life and recipes!) It is screened in on three sides to keep the flies away (shoo-fly…don’t eat my pie!). I keep my coffee fixin’s inside. I love using old things in new ways!

Little lamps with amber shades really warm up the nooks and crannies. The right lighting makes all the difference. Lamplight is cozier than overhead lighting which can sometimes be glaring.

Mama Gingerbread and her two sugared girls!

Adding a bit of whimsy to your rooms

is a delight to the eyes and warms the heart.

It’s Pie Time!

Here is my favorite double pie crust recipe:

(Carolyn Weil’s Butter Pie Crust )

1 cup cold butter (2 sticks)

2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup cold water

Cut the cold butter up in small pieces.

Put in mixer (or you can use a pastry cutter,

it’s just easier in a stand-up mixer.)

Add the flour, sugar and salt.

Mix until it looks like corn meal with nuggets of butter. While mixing, drizzle the water in.

I put ice water in a measuring cup or bowl

and then dip in the 1/4 measuring cup into the water.

Mix on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl.

Form into a round disk and cut in half. If you are making a double crust fruit pie, make one side a little larger than the the other for the bottom half of the crust. Form both again into a disk shape. Wrap one in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until you need it.

Sprinkle the surface with flour and roll the dough, turning the disk a 1/4 turn gathering flour underneath to keep it from sticking. You can roll on top of parchment or wax paper if you want to. If it tears, no biggie, just patch it! Roll it on your rolling pin to transfer it in the pan. Be careful not to stretch the dough to make it fit, patch again if you need to. If you stretch it, it will shrink and become a very sad pie, trust me, I know!

I think the hardest part is rolling the dough and transferring it to the pie plate. I learned by studying an online video. Carolyn Weil at Fine Cooking is amazing at pie making. Google “Carolyn Weil video” to see it. (I tried to link it but it didn’t work)

For juicy pies I always sprinkle Minute Tapioca at the bottom of the crust to prevent it from getting soggy.
My Peach Pie Recipe: Fresh peaches are best, but you can use frozen.

1 double crust
3 tablespoons Minute Tapioca
10 fresh peaches (remove skin) or 2 bags frozen, thawed
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
dash of ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Place bottom crust into pan and flute.
  • Sprinkle Minute Tapioca on crust bottom.
  • In a bowl add peaches, sugar, flour, cornstarch, nutmeg,
  • Toss until mixed.
  • Pour into pie crust.
  • Dot with butter.
  • Roll out other half of dough and cut into long strips.
  • Lay them in a criss-cross fashion to form a lattice. (you don’t have to weave it)
  • Tear off ends and tuck inside next to crimped edge.
  • Brush with milk and sprinkle sugar

Bake on middle rack for 1 hour or more, until the juices are bubbling thick and clear. I always cover the edge of my crust. You can use foil or a pie shield. Place a foil lined cookie sheet on bottom rack to catch juices.

Well, thanks for stopping by for pie!

May God bless you this Christmas season!

And I’ve just got to tell you that Jesus is the only way to true joy and happiness, and He loves you to the moon and back…and then a zillion times that! He has wonderful things planned for you that you can’t even begin to imagine! You just need to let Him sit in the driver’s seat…and just wait for the ride of your life!

No eye has seen,

and no mind has imagined

what God has prepared

for those who love Him.

1 Corinthians 2:9

P.S. Thank you girls for all of your kind comments!! Love it, love it, love it! I really wish I could post more often, but the best I can do for now is about once a week. Maybe after Christmas I can get to it more often. I really, really enjoy sharing my thoughts with you all, and it’s even more fun to hear that you like it! Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

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