noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

Day 24: Soup Season Country October 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauradegroot @ 1:04 am

I’m headed to the land where it gets cold.  I sweat picking out warm clothing to take there.  I had to pack socks, a jacket, long sleeves.  But it will all be worth it to see T1 and T2.  No doubt there will be fine celebrating – with food of course.

South Florida is growing on me.  However, I will admit to missing soup season.  There is a place in the country we are going that serves Rueben Soup.  I’ve never had it anywhere else in the world and this is the perfect season for it.

Ta Ta for now.



Day 23: Learning to Speak Food October 24, 2013

Final Button 3

Speaking the language of food now comes naturally.  Speaking that language had humble beginnings.  I will prove that with the first recipe card I received.  It’s for Peanut Butter Toast.

Ingredients:  Bread; Jiff Creamy Style Peanut Butter.

Directions:   Toast 2 or more slices of bread – light brown – spread with p. butter.  Cut into “fingers.” Eat & Enjoy!


For a wedding gift I received my first cookbook, Colorado Cache.  I thumbed through it and put it on a shelf;  Way To Many ingredients.  The directions looked far too serious.  When I did eventually venture into cooking with recipes,  I learned best – the hard way.  Early on, the hubbster mentioned his love for all things pasta, with lots of garlic.  I found a pasta recipe which called for two ‘cloves’ of garlic.  I thought clove was a spice my mom put in apple cider.  Garlic cloves went on my grocery list and when I found this cellophane wrapped box with 2 garlic ‘cloves’ in it, I felt pretty good about myself.  A plastic garlic press wedding gift went into action on those 2 ‘cloves.’  Good thing JR was a fan of garlic.  After sharing my recipe sort-of-success with someone I learned about garlic bulbs.

When you get past basic food language grammar, you enter the world of meal complexity.  Try to make 2 things and get them on the table in the same dinner hour.   I will not share the number of times I spent in the kitchen finishing cooking, baking, or simmering the meal that I had planned for the guests who were eating the finished part of it without me.  Timing and Multiple Menus are Food 301 classes.

How ironic that the first “booklet” I would put together would be a cookbook to encourage and help a friend who was going back to work full-time, didn’t love cooking, yet wanted to be able to  do made-in-the-home-dinner for her family.  It was called:  Making It Simple, Making It Plain, Making It Happen!  The thought really counted in this gift.   Today, I forget where I am and who is around me when I get a new cookbook for my birthday or christmas.  I read them cover to cover thinking about who I would make what for and eager to try new ingredients and combinations.  I really have come a long way.

Tonight I want to share two recipes that are complimentary; are quick to make and bake together so they both end up on the table in the same dinner hour.  They are T1, T2 and Hubby approved.

From Colorado Cache (we eventually became good friends…)

page 270 if you have the book.

Sopa Seca (Mexican Rice)

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large tomato (or one can of diced tomatoes)
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 small green bell pepper – diced (or red)
  • dash of crushed red pepper  (or 1 tsp if you like it hot)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:  Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add garlic, onion tomato.  Cover and cook 3 minutes.  Add rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring until rice is shiny and hot.  Stir in the remainder of ingredients.  Bring to a boil – then cover and put in the oven for 25 min at 350 degrees.   (NOTE:  the Cache recipe says bake 20 min at 400 degrees, but I have changed it to match the enchiladas and it comes out great! )

Chicken Enchiladas  

From Country Woman magazine May/June 1999


  • 4 cups shredded or cubed cooked chicken
  • 8 oz (2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

The Sauce Country Woman Uses:

  • 3 cans (8 oz each) tomato sauce
  • 1 Tlb chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin (or 1 tsp if you like a little spice)
  • 1 can ripe olives

The Sauce I Use:  505 Green Chili (get at the grocery, or Costco sells the big jar)

10 flour tortillas

1/2 cup jack cheese

Directions:  Combine filling ingredients.  If making the red sauce – combine all sauce ingredients in a pot and simmer for 5-10 min uncovered.  Spoon 1/3-1/2 cup of filling down the center of each tortilla.  Roll up; place seam side down in a greased 9 X 13 pan.  Top with Green Chili or Red Sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheddar and jack cheese.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.


Day 22: Comfort Food October 23, 2013

Final Button 3“You must go to bed and rest” said the doctor, many many years ago.

How many days in my life have I longed for someone to tell me I had to go to bed and rest, just for a day or two. This edict long ago, was the requirement for the rest of my pregnancy.  I was only 20 weeks along.  I was headed to bed for a LONG winters nap.  A friend from church called  to see if she could set up a schedule of people to come and help out.  My response:  “O thanks so much but we are going to be just fine, really.”

This was the reality of my bed time – less like rest, more like jail.  I was allowed to get up to go to the bathroom which was steps from my bed.  I was allowed a shower or two – quick ones – each week.  That was it.  There would be no walking up and down the stairs.  Walking the dog, emptying the dishwasher, even standing to pour a glass of waters was out of the question.  There would be NO COOKING.  Sure, “we” were going to be just fine.  HA!  I was young, inexperienced, a little stupid, certainly unrealistic and fiercely independent.  Until…Mother Mary said these life changing words:   “Laura, think about what you would do if you’re friend was sent to bed for a long time.  You would want to help.  When you say no, you take away the opportunity for people to be a blessing.”  Who want’s to take something away from someone?  I called her back with a different heart and answer.

My jailbed became a sweet spot for friend time, visits from the scheduled people, small group gatherings,  and the christmas tree.  I met another lover of old musicals and we watched them while eating pb&j.   One lady would bring her handsewing, being productive while she visited.  The dog got let out, the dishes put away, the fridge filled up, and JR could still work at his job!  We would not have been just fine without people blessing.

When I hear of someone laid up, down and out, having a baby or a rough season of life I always think food is something I can do.  I can’t fix broken bones or broken hearts, and I know how impossible it is for new parents to do much beyond take care of a tiny human who needs everything all the time from them.  What I can do is find out what they like and don’t like, will and won’t eat and what’s the best time for drop off.  Then I go to the recipe books and look for my best Comfort Food.

Comfort Food recipes are often the very ones someone brought me once upon a time.  When you come home from the hospital and there is a beef brisket, a bowl of coleslaw, and a pan of brownies on your porch waiting for you, they are the very best brownies you’ve ever had, 5 star coleslaw, and brisket that ought to be served in heaven.  Comfort Food has superpowered deliciousness.  That is why you ask for the recipe.  If recovering from a surgically fixed something you may make that recipe in the near future.  If you come home with two tiny humans, the reproducing of delicious food will happen some day not soon.

Brother Jim is also bilingual:  english and food.  He has a killer special recipe burger named after him, the Jimburger.   It’s worth every single calorie of your day.  I’ve never left his home hungry as his wife can cook like The Pioneer Woman.  We are so loved when we are with them!  Yet, when I, his sister, returned home from surgery hungry for only one thing, he was able to put aside his mad grill skills and show up on the doorstep with a large, Strawberry hand scooped real ice cream shake, topped with whipped cream and cherry.  Comfort food specific…thanks Brother Jim.  (I never told you this Brother, but that act of kindness erased your debt for the not kind gift of black roses on my 40th birthday!  You were finally forgiven…Just keepin it real man.)

Even if your love language isn’t food, it still is a simple, practical, doable way to do something when you hear of a need.  Cheese and crackers, a platter of fresh fruit,  take and bake pizza, Thai take out, or Costco roasted chicken all work real well.    That little kindness in your world goes for miles in the world of someone in need of comfort food.

I’ll share the number one recipe of my Comfort Food list and take this moment to say thank you from the bottom of my toes to the tip of my noggin to anyone who ever brought our family food.  You are a blessing.  Glad I said yes.

Chicken Pot Pie (a la Pat J)

  • 2 cans cream of potato soup
  • 1 16 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 cups cooked diced chicken (or turkey)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 – 9 inch pie crusts 
  • S & P


Combine first 6  ingredients.  Place one crust in pie pan.  Spoon filling into prepared pie crust.  Cover with top crust and seal top and bottom crusts together.  Slit top crust.  Bake at 375 degrees about 60 minutes.

Now, go and be a blessing!


Day 21: Sal, The Boys, And A Rainy Day October 22, 2013

Final Button 3Grocery Shopping is my staple happy space.  It was distressing when I didn’t find happy in the space people do grocery shopping nearby.  It’s not possible to pinpoint all the reasons why, but the grocery stores here are different enough in price, people, & etiquette that I would describe my early shopping as uncomfortable and unpleasant.

That is until I stepped inside The Boys.

Boys-Farmers-Market-Delray-Beach-FL-009If you notice the middle part of the sign – it says “Fresh Squeezed OJ Daily”.  One day I couldn’t resist driving by without getting some.  I pulled in the parking lot excited about Florida fresh squeezed citrus.  They have OJ a plenty and better yet – grapefruit!  But the juice was only the beginning of fresh squeezed happiness I found there.

Every visitor we’ve had gets to go on a field trip to The Boys.  Not everyone appreciates it like I do but I guarantee a unique experience.  I’ll give you, my reader, a virtual field trip.

The Boys  is a permanent indoor farmers market that  opened in 1988 by a family from NYC.  The first part of the experience  is getting into the lot and finding a place to park, without starting a scuffle or getting hit by a car.  As you enter from the road, there is a curb on your right with signs every 5 feet stating “NO PARKING ANY TIME” .  The whole curb is lined with cars.  All the time.   When you turn left into the lot, you have to use mad driving skills.  This lot is filled with impatient people, shouldn’t-have-a-license drivers, and mini carts scattered haphazardly.  I’ve learned the wisdom of heading for the North lot where its safer.

When you get near the door there is a table of $1.00 bags of fruits/veggies.  What is available changes daily so I always make a quick stop.  I’m certain most people have heard of “shopping the perimeter” to make the healthiest choices as most boxed, bagged, canned, and processed foods occupy the isles.  The Boy’s is counter-cultural as the center of the store – every isle – is stacked with fresh fruits and vegetables.  Last week I believe there were twenty plus varieties of apples; there are six or seven types of eggplant; mounds of tomatoes of every size and shape; piles of melons and a lady who cuts fresh slices off one for you to try.  There is fruit that looks like sea urchins, vegetables that appear alien, all of it delights every fiber of my being.

When you enter the store and turn right you walk through the bakery.  The cheese lady stands above her case of  specialty cheese and will slice  you up a sample.  When you turn left there are mountains of berries and cut up fruit station.  Next comes the coffee bean bar with the NJ coffee lady who begins with her brusque “what can I get you” and ends up sharing personal stories with me along with her coffee recommendation.  The back wall of the store has the $4.99 wine section next to the fresh OJ and grapefruit case and the beautiful meat counter.  There are 2 long hot bars with “prepared food” which must be a NY thing.  I see people stock up on containers of all types of main dish goodies from there.  Turn the corner again and the wall of seafood goes 1/2 way to the front of the store.  The other 1/2 is everything green and leafy.  The last side of the store has side by side check out isles and behind those, against the wall, are shelves of seasonings, sauces,  & specialty soda.

We arrived in So. FL during the unofficial beginning of Season.  (Season is when the snowbirds from way up North come way down South).  When Season is in full swing (January through Easter), the population doubles.   By the time I hit The Boys for the first time, it was November and plenty busy.  Taking a cart, though they are very small, proved to be impossible.  Waiting for my turn to move down the aisle – ridiculous.  I learned to take one basket on my arm that I could lift over my head as I twisted through the pushy cart pushers.  I smile and enjoy choosing each item that goes into my basket.  I am polite, but there is no room for long conversation.   Shoppers at The Boys are not conversation kind of people.

Several months into my trips to The Boys I came on a rainy day.  There was space in the parking lot, space in the aisles.   I returned my basket and grabbed a cart.  I said hi to Sal, one of the friendly store managers.  We shared a laugh as I told him about watching the man who got caught stealing a cart of groceries, quite the caper.   Sal shared it’s not uncommon for people to come in with their own plastic bags, fill them up (with the basics like shrimp, smoked fish, expensive cheese), and head out the door as if they paid.  After being in South Florida for nearly a year, that type of event surprises but doesn’t shock me anymore.  I mentioned to him that I was able to use a cart, a rare treat between November and May.  Sal explained the mystery and let me in on a helpful secret:  “It’s a rainy day.  You will always be able to use a cart on a rainy day, and before 8:00 am or after 5 pm.”

Thanks Sal, I love your fresh squeezed OJ and grapefruit juice, your produce, fresh local extra-large eggs,  the cheese lady and .99 cent cavatapi.  I’ve found my happy space again, during busy season, during the summer and even on a rainy day.


Day 20: My One Pot Wonder October 21, 2013

Filed under: Cooking,Daughters,Uncategorized,Young Life Work Crew — lauradegroot @ 4:58 am

Missing Love Language Button

How does a one pot wonder choose recipes:   “Based on complexity, how many dishes it requires and how long it takes to prepare.”

Reason for cooking recipes that require only one pot:  “I hate doing dishes”

What is your pot limit?  “If a recipe requires 3 or more pots, I would only make it for someone special OR if someone else is doing the dishes.   On second thought, I would use more pots if I had a Hobart industrial dishwasher.”

She worked in PITS as part of Young Life Work Crew at Malibu.  The PITS crew did all the dishes for 3 weeks of.  She lived in rubber boots and gloves and took care of lots o pots.

I am a creative cook.  Translation:  I make a mess and don’t care a lick how many pots pans,  peelers, presses, paper towels, spoons, forks, knives, band aids, recipes or cutting boards it takes to make a meal.  This stresses some people out.  I tell them not to watch.   I do clean up my creativity tools.  I clearly did not pass this style of food speech to daughter T1.    Yet, she has her own creative style; does more with less; ventures outside the recipe; and is happy to do it herself.

Lyndsay..self described One Pot Wonder.  I love you and the way you make food.



Day 19: The Forgotten Lunch Bag October 19, 2013

Final Button 3Hot lunch.

What do those words bring up for you?

Pack a lunch.

How about those words – any thoughts?

27 years ago I packed my hubby’s lunch every night and wrote a note to tuck in the bag.  Yes I was smitten, and still am…but I don’t pack it every night anymore and I text sweet messages instead.  He does take a lunch from home nearly everyday. Lunch=leftovers…in a bag with handles that previously held leftovers from some restaurant.

For many years I packed lunch for Thing 1 and Thing 2 until they got old enough to take that on.  Though I still helped.  This college year they live off campus and are back to taking a packed lunch so we sent them new “lunch boxes” this year.

One of the Things was prone to forgetting her lunch bag at home.  I, who speak FOOD love language, couldn’t let that happen no matter how frustrated I was with the forgetting.    I am a forgetter, so really the frustration just triggers my own stuff!  A teacher or school staff member suggested not bringing it (rescuing) so she would learn to take ownership of remembering something she needed.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh…………the suffering of a parent all over a child missing her peanut butter sandwich and carrots with ranch dressing for dipping.

Yesterday I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Mother Mary about Food being a love language.   2 hours, amazing stories, and lots of laughs later I ended the call with my cup of love overflowing.  I have much to share but for today, just one story about the forgotten school lunch bag and brother John.

Mother Mary:

” John couldn’t remember his lunch.  He had so many other important things on his mind.  I always brought it to the school office for him.  Until the day a teacher said stop bringing it or he would never remember to bring it himself.   So I stopped.   John’s best buddy and next door neighbor John walked to school with (brother) John every day.   Soon after I stopped bringing the lunch to school, friend John would come running back to get the forgotten lunch bag.  Friend John told me:  “I have to get it, otherwise if he doesn’t have any lunch I have to share mine because I feel sorry for him.”  From that day on I  always made sure son John got his lunch or brought it to the school office if he forgot it. So much for the teacher on that one.”

He probably wasn’t the only one of us 5 kids to be a lunch bag forgetter,  apparently just the most consistent.

All that conversation prompted my memory of a lunch bag favorite:  2 slices of white bread with Cheeze Whiz and a slice of bologna, 2 crisp red delicious apples and a Tab.  Mmmmm, tasty white, orange, brown goodness!




Day 18: This…Is Love In My World

The weekend begins with a little of this…wine glass

While working with this…salsa ingredients

to make this…finished salsa

to enjoy with him…JR in South Dakota



wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

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noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

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