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Monday, April 6, 2015

Conference Crepes!

I make crepes three times a year: Christmas morning (continuing my dad's family tradition: he used to make them for our family of eight kids growing up--he was in the kitchen all Christmas morning), and during the April and October General Conference sessions.  I have been making these crepes long enough that it is time for me to retire the old recipe card.

Old recipe card / scroll down for new one
This is a pretty rich crepe batter. As far as my kids are concerned, crepes is the most special food I can possibly make, which is why I save them for special occasions.  They look forward to any time they get to indulge in this delicious French pastry.

My kids, April 2015 on Easter morning.  Mollie set up all her
Littlest Pet Shops, Calvin played with cars and trucks, and
Truman and Brigham organized Brigham's Harry Potter cards
while we listened to and watched the amazing conference addresses.
My favorite crepes from the April 2015 General Conference.
It was hard to choose favorites talks from this conference, but I
really loved "We'll Ascend Together" by Linda K. Burton, and
"Therefore They Hushed Their Fears," by Elder David A. Bednar
My nephew, Jamen, and son Truman on Sunday morning of
the October 2014 General Conference.  There were so many
amazing talks!  My favorite was definitely Elder Tad R. Callister's
"Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children."
6.5-year-old Mollie helping make crepes for the April 2014
session of General Conference.
Favorites from April 2014: If you prefer to partake of these messages a la carte, may I suggest "Grateful in Any Circumstances," which is all about how gratitude can help us get through our most difficult times.  "Protection From Pornography--A Christ-Centered Home" is a much-needed message about how to keep our children and homes safe from this devastating plague--Linda Reeves does a masterful job of helping mothers and fathers to know what is most important, and encourages them to let unimportant things go.  And "Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease" is one of many addresses from conference which directs men and women toward understanding how they can better become a disciple of our Savior, Jesus Christ--through relying on both the strengthening and enabling power of His Atonement.

My baby boy, Calvin, at 19 months, enjoying some
Nutella sans crepes during the April 2013 
ConferenceMy favorite talks were Craig A
"The Savior Wants to Forgive," Rosemary
"The Words We Speak," and L. Whitney
"Marriage: Watch & Learn"
My son Truman helping with crepes in October 2012
Crepes from the October 2012 session.  My favorite talks were
President Uchtdorf's about having no regrets, and
President Eyring's about removing "pavilions" that can keep
us hidden from Heaven's blessings.

Twice each year, on the first Saturday and Sunday of April, and the first Saturday and Sunday of October, members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) do not have their regular 3-hour Sunday meetings.  Instead, we watch 4-5 different 2-hour sessions of General Conference, which is when the General Authorities of the church {including the prophet, his two counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles} give prepared messages to the entire worldwide membership of the church.  These messages are broadcast throughout the world in many different languages via radio, satellite, and Internet.  The messages are always intended to uplift, inspire, encourage, and strengthen.  If you want to know what Mormons believe, there's really not a better way to find out than to hear what the leaders of the church are telling its members.  You can read past and present conference talks on the official church website here.

If YOU have favorite talks (past and present) from the General Conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, please share them in the comments box below!  This post is going to get longer and longer, because I plan on adding my favorite talk or two each time I make "Conference Crepes."

These are the crepes I made for April 2012 General Conference
"And A Little Child Shall Lead Them" by President Boyd K. Packer
was my favorite talk.
During the October 2011 General Conference, my favorite talks
was Elder Scott's "The Power of Scripture"
Brigham in April 2011 (he's a strictly Nutella man)
My favorite talks were
Elder Scott's "The Eternal Blessings of  Marriage"
and Elder Bednar's "The Spirit of Revelation."
Conference Crepes October 2010, my favorite talk was
"Courageous Parenting", by Larry R. Lawrence
April 2010, and the talk that meant the most to me was entitled
"You Are My Hands" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

October 2009, with my sweet 2-year-old Mollie
Elder Bednar's  "More Diligent and Concerned at Home" and
Elder Christofferson's "Moral Discipline" were my favorite talks.

You MUST chill the batter, or they won't crisp like they should.  I usually mix mine up the night before and put it in the fridge or out in the garage on top of my deep-freeze.

I didn't grow up with Nutella spread, but since my husband
introduced it to me, it's pretty much all I have on my crepes.
Get two (or even three) non-stick pans going and it
will take much less time to make a huge stack.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies

Last year, Allen's parents stayed with us for Christmas, and his mom asked me before they arrived if I had molasses and ground ginger on hand.  I did.  But I never guessed that these two pungent ingredients could combine to make the most heavenly Christmas confection known to man.

They are beautiful and crackly and festive.  They are soft and rich.  They are so fragrant and chewy and sweet, with the perfect hint of spice.  They may have actually TIED WITH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (gasp!) as my favorite cookies of all time.  In fact, these ginger molasses cookies differ specifically from CCCs in that, once I have eaten one, all I can think about is having another.  I can limit other kinds of cookies to one or two, but I feel like I never want to stop eating these.

This particular holiday treat comes with a pretty sweet story, too.  My mother-in-law clipped this recipe from her local paper years ago and everyone raved about the cookies . . . but then she somehow lost the clipping. Years later (tortured years of pining for the most-perfect-holiday-cookie-ever, no doubt) she went to the library and used the microfilm machine to look through years' worth of the Northwest Arkansas Times until she found it again.  The librarian copied it for her, and the rest is Renfroe family holiday history!
I love how Mom wrote out the triple-batch
amount to the side, which is what I put on the
recipe card below.  Go big or go home, people.

Mollie and I had so much fun making the cookies with Mom last year, made more fun by the adorable, matching, chicken-print aprons she sewed for each of us as an early Christmas present.

She gave me the recipe while she stayed with us, but then history repeated itself and I misplaced it.  Fortunately, I didn't have to use a microfilm machine--Mom just used her telephonics machine (read: iPhone 6) to snap a picture of her well-used recipe and send it to me via electronic mail . . . all taking about three seconds and zero research trips to the library.

I have made this tripled-recipe twice this December and am going for a third time tomorrow.  If you're going to make 24 dozen of any cookie during Christmas, this is the one . . .

My cookie helpers!
Brer Rabbit never tasted so good . . .
I hope we'll have some left for Santa--he might have to settle
for Oreos if we scarf through all seven dozen in the next four days.
I wish I was kidding . . .

Thursday, September 25, 2014

One Bowl Apple Cake

This recipe is from one of my all-time favorite women, Kathy H. (via my sister, Bonnie, who raved about this apple cake and then hounded Kath for the recipe).  She was the young women president at some point when I was a teenage girl (the Young Women organization is an awesome auxiliary for girls age 12-18 in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and has always been a friend to me.  We have stayed in touch over the years, and I love to drop in on her when I am visiting family in my home town.  She can make me laugh like no other!  

As of this blog post, she happens to be serving a mission in South Africa with her husband, where she is no doubt spreading her signature brand of humor . . . and we can still keep in touch over the splendors of the world wide web!

A mother of six who lives on a hobby farm? A lover of young adult fiction who loves to bake delicious things?  We are kindred spirits!  You'll be wishing you knew Kathy when you take a bite of this sweet, moist, delectable (and easy) cake!

My wonderful neighbor, Gloria, called me up
yesterday and asked if we would like all of
her apples.  YES, WE WOULD!  When the kids
got home from school, we pulled the wagon to
her house and picked every last one!
Brig was more excited about using the stepladder than picking
Gloria said that she's never seen this tree bear more than six apples,
and they never turned red before!  I think it's because this is the longest
we've gone between frost dates since I've lived here.  We picked up
all the windfalls for our chickens and rabbits, and then plucked all
the tree apples for apple cake and to press into APPLE CIDER!
I love harvest time!  Apples really are the food of the gods.
So yummy and moist--the top and bottom get slightly crusty
and taste kind of like a Nilla Wafer cookie.  Ummmmm . . .
I think I'll go make another one right now . . .

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mini Thumbprint Jam Scones

I fell in love with this recipe when I read about the baker Alice Currah in a beautiful magazine called Where Women Cook (which was a delightful birthday gift from my BFF, Cori, whose own scrumptious recipes are sprinkled throughout this blog).

Okay, true confession . . . maybe I liked the article about Alice, but drooled like a French Mastiff when I saw the delectable photos of the scones in said magazine.  See for yourself:

I knew these would be the perfect dessert to add to my "summer harvest" spread when I hosted book club at the beginning of August.
Summer harvest book club fare . . .
I love cooking for the ladies I love!
And guess what?  Everyone liked them more than rhubarb-raspberry pie made with rhubarb and raspberries I harvested that day, more than huckleberry buckle made with HOURS OF MY LIFE that I spent picking tiny-but-precious huckleberries, and even more than the apple pie made with three types of heirloom early-ripening apples (Red Astraiken, Carroll, and Goodland) that I picked from my dad's orchard just three days before book club and peeled and cut by hand because each apple is too uniquely shaped and sized for the peeler-corer-slicer.

That's how good these scones are.

I used my mom's Nanking Cherry jam/syrup (I make jam, but add a little extra water so it's more like a really thick syrup) as the jam in these scones, and that combination of cherries and almond glaze is so heavenly (this from someone who does not like cherry ANYTHING).  But I think it would also be perfectly delectable with raspberry or strawberry jam.

The recipe said to cut the disks into fourths, but I
cut them into sixths and I think they were perfect
It stopped raining just for book club!
The scones were the first dessert to disappear.
{PS- I like how you can see Brenda working
on the book club binder in the background}
I thought a cute retro fox was the perfect clipart to compliment this quintessential British confection . . .

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings

Comfort food does not get any more comforting than this.

I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, so you know it's good.  It was both my first time making chicken and dumplings AND (gasp!) my first time eating chicken and dumplings!  How is it possible to reach the age of 34 without partaking of the most delicious and satisfying dish in America?  I even lived in the South for 8 years . . . shame on me.  My husband (a true Southerner, who grew up in beautiful Fayetteville, Arkansas) was more excited about me making chicken and dumplings for dinner than any previous dinner-time excitement to date.

The reason I decided to tackle this dish is that he and I put up 34 quarts of canned chicken a week ago, after the Fall butchering of our laying hens.  I had more old hens than I care to admit, because I can't resist letting my hens hatch a clutch of chicks every time one of them goes broody (broody is when a hen stops laying, and only wants to sit on eggs all day, taking little or no food or water for about three weeks.  Certain breeds, like buff orpingtons, are more prone to broodiness than others--some hens will never go broody in their lifetime).
We did a bone-in method.  I added a teaspoon of chicken stock
and a pinch of fresh windowsill herbs: rosemary, sage, and thyme.
I wish all my jars had been wide-mouthed, but it was nice to not
have to buy any new jars.  Each jar had to pressure cook at 10
pounds of pressure for an hour and fifteen minutes (for our elevation)
We  have always butchered cockerels (a rooster that is less than a year old) right when they reach five months of age, but I've kept all the pullets (hens less than a year) for several years to add to my laying stock, and this Fall I realized we had too many chickens.  Knowing that the meat of these hens would be a little more tough than that of a young rooster, I researched canning chicken for weeks leading up to harvest day.  I knew from articles I had previously read that canning the meat would render it much more tender and flavorful than any other method of long-term storage, and that's what I wanted.
My favorite hen, Scarlett Johansson, with her seven "chicks" in
May 2012.  It seems like there are two cockerels for every pullet
in each clutch of chicks . . . but that means more healthy,
home-grown, hormone- free chicken in our freezer or pantry . . .
Hens free-ranging in part of my backyard.  This was in
August of 2010, before I built a fence around my garden.
Mistress Flora scratching around in the garden (July 2012)
I love my hens and always name them--they really receive the best
possible love and care during their lives.  But I am also a meat-eater,
and there's not better way to ensure the quality of your meat than
to raise your own.  I know it may seem corny to many people, but
my husband always thanks the chickens for their lives before he
butchers them.  We give them a good life, and they do the same for us.
This photo is from this past Spring (May 2013) when my Nanking
cherry trees were in bloom.  This isn't even close to all the chickens
we had--it was definitely time to butcher.  To quote Barbara
Kingsolver: "Having no self-sustaining bloodlines to back up the
industry is like having no gold standard to underpin paper currency.
 Maintaining a natural breeding poultry flock is a rebellion, at the
 most basic level, against the wholly artificial nature of how
foods are produced. ” (From: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle)
It was a long, looooooooooong day.  And of course, November Idaho weather is nothing but unpredictable.  Allen butchered, skinned, and cleaned 23 chickens in a good ol' early Winter blizzard (I kept a flock of ten buff orpingtons for eggs and meat next year, plus one cuckoo maran and her four 2-month-old chicks).  I was toasty and warm inside, but worked hard manning (er . . . womanning?) the pressure canner all day.  When ten PM hit, I still had two batches to go, which I saved for the next day.  I don't think "canned chicken" is an aroma that's gonna sell well in the scented candle world . . .

But it was worth it.  The chicken turned out superbly, and is fully cooked and ready to go, any time I need to add tender chicken to a dish.

And what better dish could they be used for than chicken and dumplings?  None, I tell you!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin Waffles

Finally, I get to add a recipe from one of my favorite people, Renee H!  She and I worked together in a church calling for several years, and she's just about one of the sweetest women I know.  And a fabulous cook, to boot!  When she told me about these pumpkin waffles, I knew I wouldn't rest until I tried them myself.

Divine.  What better hot breakfast can you have on a cold October morning than one that makes your whole house smell like a bakery?  My kids loved 'em, too, and they've been permanently added to our Saturday morning breakfast choices.  Enjoy!

If only you could smell this picture: it's what heaven smells like . . .

I can't even stand the clipart I found to make this recipe card.  Isn't she the cutest little waffle you've ever seen?