exploring, preserving: past, present

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‘Twas the Night Before…

I’m almost done my first week of my 30 day blogging challenge. There will be a December giveaway – but that will only be revealed during my December posts. 🙂

Today I’m reminiscing about Christmas.

I grew up in a family that went to church. The church we went to made sure that every Christmas, there was a Program. This Program included singing from the choirs (children, youth, adult), a play of some sorts (usually the retelling of the story of the birth of Jesus), much carol singing with the congregation, and – at the very end – gifts for the children.

Nothing extravagant, mind you. But *free* nevertheless. As a little girl, I waited and waited for the moment the Program would end and children would be called up to the front of the church to receive a gift. Everyone got the same thing, but it still felt…special.

The gifts were all wrapped in brown lunch bags.

Inside the bags were an assortment of hard candies, chocolate, a small candy cane or two, a handful of peanuts in their shells, and what I was desperately waiting for – a Mandarin Orange.

Mandarin oranges were hard to come by when I was growing up. Now, as an adult, I’m noticing that mandarin oranges are available for a couple of months before Christmas as well as a month or so after Christmas. That wasn’t always the case. Mandarin oranges came “but once a year”, and they were expensive. At least, they were an expensive extra for our family. So to receive one large juicy orange for free? Wow, that was like Gold!

These days, a lot of people are caught up in big consumer frenzies like “Black Friday”. Buying more seems to be the norm. Buying thoughtfully, or not at all, seems difficult. All it takes for me to remember what it means to truly appreciate all that I have (and I know I am blessed with much), is the smell of citrus.

On this last day of November, the day before the Advent season begins, I am thankful for all that I have.


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Back to Basics – the Stir Fry

We grew up in a family that knew where every penny was going, and there wasn’t much wiggle room. When it came to meal planning, my parents knew how to stretch a meal and still make it filling and tasty. Both my parents cooked, but when it came to my dad’s turn to cook suppers he had a tried and true stand by – the stir fry. Take some protein, some veggies, some sauce, and some rice – simmer for a good half hour or so, and you have a meal.

Frozen peas and carrots were a go to for stir fries – cheap but good – as were mushrooms, providing some substance and flavour.

Want something sweet and sour? Add pineapple bits and some cooking vinegar. Want something spicy? Add some Tabasco sauce. Creamy? Add a can of cream of (something) soup.

This stir fry has peas, carrots, mushrooms, sausage, rice, and cream of mushroom soup. Back to basics – quick, simple, good.


One more variation I made tonight: ground turkey, chopped green onion, mushrooms, carrots, honey garlic sauce, and rice.


Do you have a favourite stir fry recipe? What’s your go to tried and true dinner recipe?

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Apple Pie

When things got busy, or when dad knew mom wanted a break, or sometimes – rarely – when we begged, we got to have apple pie for supper. As a meal. With a glass of milk. My dad would make a huge cookie sheet of “plauten pie” (German for sheet pie), and we’d sit down to eat a few squares of it for supper.

He’d peel a big bowl full of apples, then slice them very thinly.


Nine or ten thinly sliced apples would cover a baking sheet. But first he’d make a pie dough, roll it out very thin, and cover the sheet. Then the apple slices would be spread onto it. Sugar was sprinkled liberally, a bit of lemon juice, and a layer of cinnamon. Then a final thin layer of dough to seal the plauten pie.

Sometimes we got deep dish apple pie for supper, but my favourite was plauten pie.

Sometimes we got deep dish apple pie for supper, but my favourite was plauten pie.

The dough was simple: 1.5 cups flour, 1/2 cup shortening cut into the flour, a sprinkle of salt, and a bit of cold water for a soft dough. That made enough dough for one deep dish pie, or the bottom layer for the sheet pie.

Recipe, you say? Dad always eyeballed it, so you won’t see a well written recipe in this post.

I made deep dish apple pie tonight. Thirty minutes at 350degrees and it was done.


I love the smell of apples and cinnamon baking. It reminds me of the times I would sit at the kitchen table watching my dad bake. miss apple pie suppers with dad.