Words in the window

IMG_20170518_065834453This is my view today as I chop veggies to go in the freezer. There’s a scent of gardenia wafting over the freshness of the zucchini, squash, and onions simmering on the stove and the house is quiet. I’m cleaning out the fridge and preparing for a delicious casserole one of these days when I’m pressed for time and still in need of sustenance.

My cat watches my every move from his pod on top of the washer in the laundry room. It’s peaceful here today.

I had to take my glasses off as I transferred the steaming concoction to a strainer, but it didn’t stop me from reading the words on the ornament left on the window sill since Christmas, “Be cheerful and pass it on!”

I’m as struck by these words as I was the first time I saw them. Such a simple message. I originally bought the ornament for someone who has trouble being cheerful. (Subtle as a hammer, I know. grin) When I got it home, however, I noticed the ornament had a crack running through it. That’s not exactly what you look for in a gift, is it? A broken reminder to do something that’s often difficult? It just didn’t seem like a good idea to pass it along…or to throw it away. The “obvious” alternative was to place it atop a small silver cup on the window sill as a reminder to myself.

I’m convinced that’s what God wanted all along. The makers of this ornament meant for it to be perfect and to hang on a tree for a few days or so once a year. In the midst of all the other decorations of the Christmas season, this message might have gone unnoticed. But placed as it is on my window sill? Each day I see these words reminding me to spread the cheer that comes as a result of His coming among us to bring us hope and salvation. Each day I am reminded that things don’t have to be perfect for me to be cheerful and that I can change the world in simple ways just by being willing to be used in whatever way and in whatever place He chooses to put me.

Sounds like the words in the window were meant for me…and maybe, you, too. What will you do today to be a person of influence right where you are?

BE CHEERFUL and pass it on.

Grace and Peace!




Stuff It!–Fresh Farmer’s Market Squash!

As some of you already know, we spend a good portion of our Saturday mornings (from April through October) at the local Farmer’s Market in town.  The season officially ends on the last Saturday of October, so we’ve got a bit more to go this year.  Our local market can be a pretty happening place most of the time, but the crowds and the vendors start steadily decreasing after school starts.  This is a serious mistake, as far as I’m concerned, because people are missing out on some of the last of the summer’s veggies fresh from the farms and gardens in our area.

The thinning crowds do leave time for additional conversations among some of the vendors, however, and sometimes you get to find out more than you’r originally planned!  Toward the end of last season, I got to have a really nice chat with Scott Enlow, owner of Black Creek Farm, our local source for organic produce, free-range eggs and all kinds of interesting tidbits about his exotic veggies.

I had loaded up on two different kinds of fresh kale, two small butternut squash and what Scott told me might be the very last of the summer zuchinni.  We talked about the options available to us and how Scott looks forward to harvesting the fall crops for his customers who ride right up to the garden area and tell him what to pick.  Then…we started talking food.  Now, there’s one thing you should know about people who grow their own produce…they generally like to eat it, too…and in the case of Scott and his wife, Lydia, they’re usually pretty inventive about how they serve their bounty.

Scott was particularly excited about the butternut squash and how well they keep through the winter.  I told him how excited I was to get the zuchinni he had available that day–especially since there were two pretty large ones that would be just perfect for stuffing.  Apparently, this was a new one for him and as I prepared the recipe the other day, I thought it might be something you’d enjoy, as well…because there is still time!  You can still find some great crooked neck squash or zuchinni available in your area.

I’ve had this recipe for so long now that I had trouble tracking it back, but the original recipe can be found at http://www.coconutandlime.com/2006/06/stuffed-pattypan-squash.html

Over the years, I’ve made my own adaptations–just like every cook I know–and here’s (generally) the way I do it.  By the way, if you’re one of those “it has to be the exact measurement” cooks, then this is NOT the recipe place for you.  In our family, we’re more a “throw it in and stir until it looks right” kind of people.  Either way, give it a shot!  It is DELICIOUS!!!

Stuffed Squash–any kind

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Choose how much you want to fix (then add an extra one or two for the stuffing part!) and put them in a pot of boiling water for about 8 minutes.  That’s just long enough for them to soften, but still be pretty firm so you can work with them easily.
  3. Once they’re finished boiling, plunge them in cold water to stop the cooking process and pick out the ones you want to stuff.
  4. Cut the ends off (if using yellow-crooked neck or zuchinni) or cut the top off (if using pattypans) and use a spoon to remove all of the seeds inside.  Discard the seeds.
  5. Place the seeded shells into a baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam.
  6. Repeat Step 3 with the remaining squash, then dice them and put them into a mixing bowl.
  7. Add a hand-full of grated cheese (I like to use extra-sharp cheddar or Parmesan depending on what taste I’m interested in that day), a sprinkle of fresh basil and rosemary or Italian seasoning–if you prefer, about a  1/4 cup of bacon bits, a little bit of diced onion and enough bread crumbs to make the mixture hold together well.
  8. Fill the shells with the squash/bread crumb/cheese/bacon mixture.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned.