Last week my mother-in-law left her earthly life and entered into glory. The last couple of years were particularly hard ones for her physically. She had many challenges in this life which caused her great sorrow and sadness but a few years ago she opened up her heart to the promises of Jesus and willingly humbled herself and accepted Him as her Savior. Her physical life did not get any easier but she now had the peace that her sins were forgiven and that she would spend eternity with Him in heaven.
We are greatly comforted with this knowledge and thankful that we will see her again when we leave this Earth. We are also thankful for those who have prayed for us, those who attended the funeral, and those who have expressed their condolences to us. We have been comforted and blessed by many.
Shortly after we returned home from the funeral in Ohio our daughter Megan learned that a close friend of hers passed away rather unexpectedly last week. Sara was a young woman in her mid-thirties. A couple of days after that a man from our church who is about our age also passed away after a long battle with cancer. All of these recent deaths are a reminder that our times are in God's hands and that our life here on earth is short but eternity with Christ will be never-ending.
Rob was able to give the message at his mother's funeral and he ended the message by singing the following song:
It Is Not Death to Die
It is not death to die,
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God.
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears
O Jesus, conquering the grave,
Your precious blood has power to save.
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die.
It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just.
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore.
Originally in French by Henri Malan
Translated by George W. Bethune,1847
No. 828 in C.H. Spurgeon's "Our Own Hymnbook"
Chorus and Alternate Words by Bob Kauflin
This is a blessed thought as we consider our lives here on earth and our future beyond the grave.
Many years ago when our children were all still living here at home we decided to eat supper at a local Mexican Restaurant one evening. It happened to be St. Patrick's Day and it so happened that it was also the evening the restaurant had booked a Mariachi band. One of the ladies who worked at the restaurant in those days loved to decorate for every holiday so the restaurant was decked out with all kinds of green and white streamers and shamrocks.
As luck would have it the Mariachi band cancelled and there was a replacement band performing in their place. It was quite a memorable evening for us; we sat there eating Mexican food, surrounded by Irish decor, being serenaded by a German Oompah band, complete with Dirndls and Lederhosen. We have had many good laughs as we recall that meal.
This year we celebrated St. Patrick's Day here at home with Reuben sandwiches. I got the idea from Megan who made them for her family last year. I made a loaf of rye bread using a recipe from The Iowa Housewife site.
To add another dimension to the meal I served it with German Potato Salad using a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens which we have enjoyed for many years:
German Potato Salad
4-5 slices of bacon
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used red this time)
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. celery seed
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
6 cups sliced, cooked potatoes (can boil and slice ahead)
fresh parsley for garnish
Cook bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble. Reserve about 2 Tbsps. of bacon fat in the skillet. Cook onion in the bacon fat until tender. Blend in flour, sugar, salt, celery seed, and pepper. Add vinegar and water. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add potatoes and heat thoroughly. Garnish with crumbled bacon and parsley.
Last summer while shopping at a thrift store I found a rather recent copy of Southern Living magazine which featured many apple recipes. After perusing the magazine I wanted to try making the recipe for Apple Peel Jelly so I could then make the recipe for Carmel Apple Cheesecake. 🙂
I had heard of making jelly from leftover apple peels and cores from our neighbor, Dorothy. She lived right next door when we were first married. She loved to garden, can, and cook, so we were kindred spirits in many ways.
I made the apple jelly using the magazine recipe last fall. It turned a beautiful pink color and had a nice, sweet apple taste but it did not set up properly. Fortunately I found some instructions for what to do if your jelly is too thin on the Pick Your Own website. I followed those instructions and this time the jelly set properly. I had not planned to actually can this recipe since I was just making a very small amount and would keep it in the refrigerator. In the past I have had blackberry jam which was too thin which I used for blackberry syrup or ice cream topping.
Well, since I had the apple jelly on hand I could now move on to the Carmel Apple Cheesecake. It did not disappoint! It turned out to be quite delicious and helped to use up some of the last of our fall apples when I made it a few weeks ago. I used some leftover (store bought) ginger snaps to make the crust instead of the graham crackers called for in the recipe. The pecans in the crust were quite nice. In retrospect I don't think you would actually need apple jelly since it uses such a small amount as a glaze on top of the apples. You could probably use thinned and strained apricot or peach jam if that is something you are more likely to keep on hand.
While I'm not sure I will be making the apple peel jelly often it was fun to find out that it is possible and I did learn how to salvage jams and jellies that are too thin. I do plan to add the cheesecake recipe to my file as it was very tasty and attractive. It would make a nice Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert.
Besides the changes to the crust that are mentioned above I also baked the cheesecake in a water bath. I wrapped the pan in two layers of heavy duty foil. I got this new cheesecake pan last year and really like it.
The one I had before was cheap and flimsy and the latch on the outside was difficult to use. Some time ago I read a tip about using a hair dryer to heat the outside of the cheesecake pan to facilitate removing the cheesecake. This large spatula also helps to remove the bottom metal plate from the cheesecake if you want to put it on a serving plate.
If you are looking for a delicious apple dessert add this one to your file.
For some time now I have hesitated to use my rotary cutter for various projects because the blades seemed to dull so quickly and I didn't want to have to buy new ones. After doing a little research I decided to invest in a True Sharp rotary blade sharpener. I sharpened several old blades that I had kept and have found them to be like new.
The sharpener is an investment (nearly $40) but I think it will quickly pay for itself since I won't have to purchase new blades very often. It is very noisy to operate and next time I use it I plan to wear ear plugs. I ordered mine from Connecting Threads when they were having a sale on cutting tools. I am not being compensated for this post but just wanted to share something that I have found to be helpful.
Now, if I could only find a way to prolong the life of those marking pens that wash out with water....
On a totally unrelated note, here is a redneck cat condo I made for Buddy and Qwill out of a small box and an old tee shirt. It was well received by both of them.
I somehow ended up with an abundance of tortilla shells recently and remembered a recipe that is sort of like a Mexican Lasagna that would help use up some of them. I used to make this quite often when all the chiildren were at home. It had been a while since I had made it for just the two of us. We really enjoyed it and decided it needs to be included in the meal rotation again. The recipe came from Betty Crocker many years ago.
1/2-1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
4-6 tortillas cut or torn into about 1" pieces
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Cook and stir the ground beef and onion until the beef is brown and onion is tender. Drain thoroughly. Spread half the salsa in the bottom of a 8" x 8" square casserole dish. Mix the remaining salsa, yogurt (or sour cream), beef mixture and chicken soup. Layer half the torn tortillas, half the soup mixture,and half the cheese on top of the salsa. Repeat the layers. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and then let the casserole stand for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and black olives, if desired. Serves 4-6.