Butternut Squash Soup

butternut squash soup

butternut squash soup

My creative sister concocted this heavenly soup and gave the recipe to me years ago.  It has frequently graced my table, where my guests experience God’s peace.

Someone once said that a meal at my home is like going to a spiritual spa.  With God’s help, I nourish both the body and soul elegantly!

My vision for this blog is to sustain people with wholesome food through the written word; thus, they will build strong bodies.

However, I am fully aware that a vibrant physique isn’t enough to insure complete health-that of body, mind, emotions, relationships, and finances.  How clear it is: we miss the totality of this by lack of knowledge!  My desire is that vital truth, which sets people free, will be revealed to all.

A specific prayer, which establishes this verity, has come to me in a Scripture.  I see a means for the Spirit of God to release this needed life, to everyone, in Isaiah 30:21, KJV: …yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: and thine ears shall hear the word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Indeed only God can liberate all.  We as individuals can directly reach but a few. However the Holy Spirit can move without restriction, when our faith releases him to do so. Our petitions can reach every last man on earth with the power of his word, when we ask believing.

My lavish meals feed many, both physically and spiritually; my blog contacts a good number more.  However, my prayers expand to Uganda, England, Germany, Peru, Kenya-to mention a few of the nations that constitute the cry of my heart. Our absolute faith in the word provides for the desperate in India, whom I have carefully covered for years.

Our Father redeems all that we ask for in complete trust.  This is his greatest pleasure and highest priority.  My steadfast petition is that my writings/recipes will eradicate our health deficiencies-first those in our bodies and then in every other area of our lives.  God bless our journey together in this!

My favorite way to entertain is by having only one or two guests: the conversation is most intimate then.  I always keep individual containers of soup, which hold 2-3 servings, in my freezer; thus, it is easy to serve at my small dinner parties.

I suggest you buy a five-pound squash and save one pound of it for next week’s recipe, sautéed squash with curried yogurt sauce.  If you have leftovers of the soup, freeze some for unexpected visitors.

pot of butternut squash soup

pot of butternut squash soup

Butternut Squash Soup  Yields: 8 servings.  Total preparation time: 1 ½ hr/ active prep time: 30 min/ cooking time: 1 hr.

4 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best.)

2 large onions, halved at root and sliced thinly

4 lb butternut squash, unpeeled and cut in chunks  (I prefer organic; you may buy an extra pound to cover next week’s recipe.)

2 quarts bone broth  (See recipe for this power food at Tortellini Soup, 2016/10/10, or substitute two 1-liter boxes of chicken broth.)

2 tbsp cinnamon

1 tbsp dried ginger

1 tsp nutmeg

½ tsp ground cloves

4 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine

4 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is best; available in the health section of your local supermarket.)

½ tsp white pepper, or to taste

  1. Heat oil in a stock pot over medium heat.  Add a small piece of onion; when it sizzles, add the rest of the onions and sweat (cook until translucent).
  2. Meanwhile clean squash with an inexpensive, effective vegetable spray (a mixture of 97% white distilled vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide); spray squash, let sit for 3 minutes, rinse extra well.
  3. Cut unpeeled squash in chunks.  Be sure to remove the seeds first.  Add to cooked onions.
  4. Pour broth in pot.  Add spices, fresh ginger, salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 40-50 minutes, or until squash is very soft. (See above photo.)  Remove from heat.
  6. Puree with an immersion blender.  (This is also known as a blender-on-a-stick; available at Bed, Bath and Beyond at a moderate price.)
  7. Adjust seasonings, serve hot, freeze any leftovers.

Sweet Potato Pie

sweet potato pie

sweet potato pie

“Ring those Christmas bells; light the Christmas tree”…This familiar carol burst forth vitally for me first in 1994; then, I had just invited Jesus into my heart. Incipient living joy impacted me with this song, in my initial Sunday service, during that holy month of December.

For decades the Salvation Army has rung those Christmas bells every holiday season; they have invited us always to reach out to the less fortunate.

Last year a dear bell-ringer came into my life; George lite up the Fred Meyer’s grocery store, where I took my daily coffee.  During the holidays, this man reminisced about his mother’s sweet potato pie.  As he formed his words, my heart contrived an extraordinary surprise.  Days later Christmas came alive for me much the same as in 1994: I delivered my newfound creation, this seasonal treat, to my cherished bell-ringer.

My heart leaped with joy, when George returned again this year.  A friend from my church asked, in passing, if I knew this bell-ringer at Fred Meyer’s.  She implored me to join in prayer for him, as she had learned of his heartbreaking concern for a family member.

I subsequently prayed in person with George.  Wisdom, which my pastor recently preached, surfaced.  We do not let the troubles of others encroach on our personal relationship with God.  “We are concerned, but not concerned.”  George and I already knew this truth, for we cast our cares, however deep, on our Father.  His Son already carried them for us; we were not made to carry these burdens!

Back in 1994, the freedom of this reality vibrated in me, when I asked the burden-bearer Jesus into my heart.  However, from time to time, the world’s cares have crept in and dimmed this earlier jubilant provision.

I cry out for George, me, and all of us: may we know how “to put the dollar in the Salvation Army bucket” in all of life’s circumstances; yet, not forfeit our good hearts at the same time.

Unspeakable bliss is mine again this year!  I get to give my sweet potato pie to George once more.  May you, too, shower your loved ones this Christmas with this blessed recipe!

  1. dscf0070Sweet Potato Pie  Yields 1-10 inch pie.  Total prep time: 3 hr/  active prep time: 3/4 hr/  baking time: day before-1+ hr; day of-1 hr.

2 cups baked, peeled sweet potatoes, packed down in cup  (You will need 1 1/2 lbs or 2 medium sweet potatoes-note that yams are a variety of sweet potatoes.)

3/4 cup whipping cream

3/4 cup milk  (You may substitute 1 1/2 cups half and half for both the whipping cream and milk.)

1 cup brown sugar  (Organic is best; available at Trader Joe’s; coconut sugar is also excellent.)

3/4 tsp salt  (Real Salt is important; available in the health section of local supermarket.)

4 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp vanilla

3 large eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash sweet potatoes, dry, and pierce with a fork.  Wrap potatoes in foil and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake in oven until soft, for about 1 hour, depending on size of potatoes, cool.  MAY BE DONE A DAY AHEAD.
  2. (Note: if you don’t have a food processor, go to step 5 for doing this by hand.)  If using a food processor, place sweet potatoes in the processor.  Blend well.
  3. Add cream, milk, sugar, salt, spices, and vanilla; blend; stop and scrape down sides; blend again.
  4. Add eggs.  Blend very lightly again, just until eggs are mixed in.  Do not over-blend, or pie will have a chiffon-like substance.  Set aside.  Proceed to pie crust.
  5. If doing this by hand, mash sweet potatoes well with a potato masher or large fork.  Follow steps 3 and 4, but blend with a hand mixer. Set aside when filling is complete.  Proceed to pie crust.

Pie Crust  Yields: 2 simple, foolproof pie crusts.  (Note: this recipe requires 3/5’s of this dough; the rest may be baked into cinnamon sugar strips.)

1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour  (Bob’s Red Mill organic is the best.)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour  (I grind 2/3 cup organic soft winter wheat berries, to make 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour.)

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup oil  (Grapeseed or canola oil is best.)

1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp, boiling water

Wax paper  (This makes for a mess-free rolling out of the pie crust.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With a fork, blend flours and salt together in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix in oil and boiling water until all flour is incorporated.
  4. Form into two balls and cover in plastic wrap.  (One ball should be 3/5’s of the dough; the other smaller ball can be made into cinnamon strips and baked along with the pie.)  Place balls on top of hot oven to keep warm.
  5. Using a rolling-pin, roll out larger ball between 2-18″ pieces of wax paper. Make a big, slightly oblong circle-12 1/2″ x 15″-with the dough (see above photo).  Peel off top piece of wax paper.  Turn upside down and gently place pie crust over a 10-inch pie plate; the wax paper side is up.  Very carefully peel the wax paper off.  With fingers, seal any cracks in crust and form a rim around the edge of plate with the dough; patch lean areas of the crust with excess from other areas.
  6. Pour the sweet potato puree in the pie crust.  Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife comes out clean, when inserted in center.
  7. This is good!

Curried Chicken/Cheese Ball

curry/chicken/cheese ball

curried chicken/cheese ball

My mother’s best friend, in our small Rocky Mountain village, became my treasured ally. She and her husband moved to East Glacier Park, when he retired as a screenplay writer.  Talbot Jennings was so famous that a prominent New York City television station featured his movies, such as The King and I, for a whole week, before he died.

This illustrious couple traveled the world during the production of these films; thus, Betsy schooled me in her prodigious cosmopolitan ways.  I thoroughly enjoyed sitting under her tutelage, as she prepared me for the lions at Trafalgar Square and exceeding more, prior to my moving to London.  I believe she was even more excited than I, about my valiant relocation to Tokyo half a decade later.

The voluminous New York Times brought the vast outside world to Betsy every weekend.  She was forever clipping articles to prepare me for my numerous sojourns.

With this same spirit, starting in 1982, she helped me to grow as a historical caterer.  My creative mentor was always sending me gifts, which she ordered from the New York Times.  Ingenious gadgets were among a wide array of superlative food items.  Many of these imaginative tools still grace my kitchen today.

While I was doing my early work in Billings, Montana, I journeyed to my hometown each year, where I catered multiple theme dinners per visit. The eight-hour drive across the wide expanse of the Big Sky Country thrilled my tender soul. How I delighted in approaching the backdrop of my beloved mountains, as I gazed across those colossal open prairies.

Once there, I spent many hours drinking in wisdom at Betsy’s feet.  During one of these relished trips, she offered this  delectable cheese ball to me.  I was enamored with it then and still am today.  Then it was a frequent hors d’oeuvre at my gala catered events;  today it is still my constant contribution to every holiday meal, at which I am a guest.

May you make this blessed appetizer a family tradition as well!

Curried Chicken/Cheese Ball  Yields: 2 ½ cups.  Total prep time: 1 hr/ active prep time: 30 minutes/ inactive prep time: 30 min.  Note: you may make this a day ahead.

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup raw whole almonds, chopped in a food processor  (May use slivered almonds and chop with a sharp knife.)

½ cup unsweetened coconut, finely grated  (Available in bulk, at Winco and other stores.)

2 tbsp mayonnaise  (Best Foods excels all other mayonnaise.)

2-3 tbsp Major Grey’s Mango Chutney  (Choose 3 tbsp if you want a full-bodied sweetness.)

1 tbsp curry powder, or to taste

½ tsp salt  (Real Salt is important; available in health section of local supermarket.)

1 chicken breast or 4 frozen tenderloins  (Natural chicken is best; Trader Joe’s works well for quality and cost.)

1-9 oz box Original Wheat Thins

  1. If you are using frozen tenderloins, thaw in cool water.  Cook chicken in salted boiling water. When center is just faintly pink, after inserting a knife, remove chicken from water and cool in refrigerator.
  2. Chop almonds in a food processor, by repeatedly pressing the pulse button. Pulse until nuts are in small chunks.  Some finely ground almond “dust” will be present; you will use this as well.  There will also be some big chunks; cut them, by hand, with a sharp knife.  Set aside.
  3. Mix all the above ingredients except the chicken.  Note: it works best to insert a regular teaspoon in the narrow jar of Major Grey’s Mango Chutney, when measuring it.  Be sure to use well-rounded teaspoons, as each approximates a tablespoon, for which the recipe calls.
  4. Leave this cream cheese mixture out at room temperature, while waiting for the chicken to cool.  When meat is cool, cut it into small pieces. Mix chicken into cream cheese gently, as not to shred it.
  5. Criss-cross two large pieces of plastic wrap.  Place chicken ball in the center of wrap.  Surround ball with this plastic covering.  Refrigerate on a small plate.
  6. Soften ball at room temperature for two hours before serving, to facilitate the spreading.
  7. Surround with crackers on a decorative serving plate.
  8. This is a winner!

Thai Coconut/Lime Flounder

Salad with leftover Thai flounder

salad with leftover chilled Thai flounder

A long-awaited-for marriage took place in my church in October.  A feast at my bountiful table was part of my wedding present to our venerated couple.

Our bride Dina was particularly interested in learning how to cook, with ease, for her new groom.  My bright idea was to begin my dinner gift in the kitchen with teaching her how to make the meal.  I prepared all the steps, just like you might see on a cooking show: the ingredients were set out in small individual dishes, along with the corresponding pans and utensils. All was in place for the lesson to flow naturally.

My priceless inheritance from my parents was a gene that “knows” food. Therefore I intuitively conceived this delicious dish, which was specifically geared for her husband’s dietary needs.  An exquisite, ultra simple recipe resulted.

Surprise and hesitancy occurred upon my friends’ arrival, as I informed Dina that she was going to make dinner, under my close direction.  She, being true to form, rolled up her sleeves with courage.  Her nervousness soon dissipated, for the facility of my simple instructions comforted her.  Joy unspeakable resulted: a chef was born!  I have observed, as an aside, that this woman approaches all of life’s challenges with this same spirit.

Are you timid about stepping into the unknown, either in or out of the kitchen? May you receive encouragement to advance in faith; start by trying my recipes. They look lengthy at times, but are effortless!  The cause for this seeming protractedness is my inclusion of practical details, which make food preparation easy and enjoyable.  You’ll sense that you are in  cooking school, when you use my receipts, as I teach at every point.  Rest assured-I will educate you for the joy of cooking.

My favorite way to serve my smooth flounder, with its slight bite, is over a good pasta.  (However I used rice for my newly weds.)  Either will bless the taste buds. Also, cold leftovers of this fish top off a salad superbly.

This feast pleased Dina, Dale, and me as well!

Thai coconut lime flounder dinner

Thai coconut lime flounder dinner

Thai Coconut/Lime Flounder  Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time: 40 minutes.

Note: flounders close relate to and resemble soles; thus, you may substitute any sole here (also see Parmesan Dover Sole, 2017/02/13).

1 ½ tbsp coconut oil  (Other oils will do, but coconut is best for flavor and quality here.)

1 medium/large yellow onion, halved at the core, and thinly sliced

1 lime, juiced

7 oz Extra Thick Coconut Cream, or half of a 14 oz can (This is available at Trader Joe’s.)

¾ tsp dried, crushed red pepper (Save spice jars and refill yearly with cheap, up-to-date “bulk’ spices.)

¼ tsp salt

4 fillets of flounder, approximately 1 lb  (Wild-caught is best; may substitute sole, which is a close relative to flounder.)

Boiled pasta or steamed rice

  1. Start cooking rice, according to directions on package.  If using pasta, begin boiling water in a big pot; to which you add 2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp of oil-any kind of oil will do.
  2. Place 4 individual dinner plates in oven; set the temperature on warm.
  3. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Place a small piece of onion in oil; it is ready when onion sizzles.  Add the onions and stir well; carmelize, cook until dark brown.  (See Tomato/Feta Chicken, 2016/07/25, and Cooking with Kale, 2016/09/07, for more about sautéing and the 19th century history of this technique.)
  4. Meanwhile roll lime on counter; press down hard with your hand, until the meat of the fruit is broken down and softened.  Juice lime.  Set aside.
  5. Place whole can of coconut oil in a small storage container.  Stir thoroughly until milk and cream are completely blended.
  6. Add half of the coconut cream (7 oz), lime, red pepper, and salt to carmelized onions.  Stir well and slowly bring to a soft boil over medium heat.  If preparing for guests, you may choose at this point, to set aside coconut mixture and heat it 15 minutes before serving.  If you are waiting, be sure to have the plates warm, rice cooked, or water boiling ahead of time.  (Note: you can freeze leftover coconut cream, or use within a week.)
  7. Start cooking pasta in boiling water about 12-15 minutes before dinner time.  Boil until it is al dente, about 10 minutes. Watch, as not to over cook. Drain and place on heated dinner plates when done.
  8. Meanwhile add two fillets of flounder (more if using sole) to hot coconut cream mixture, which has been heated over medium temperature.  Poach briefly on each side, only until color in center is opaque.  Do not overcook. Remove to heated dinner plates-on which you have placed pasta or rice. Repeat this step with the remaining fillets. Cover with sauce.
  9. Serve it forth!