Lane’s Top Pie Picks for Winter


Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean that it’s not pie season in my books.  I think pie should be served at least once a week during the winter months, just to keep our spirits up during the cold and dreary season.

That’s why I’ve put together my Top Pie Picks for Winter to help raise your family’s spirits.  All three are fairly simple to make and don’t call for any hard-to-find ingredients that will have you lost in the aisles.

Egg custard is my father’s favorite sweet treats. I remember as a kid having it served with dinner at least once a week.

This dessert is just sweet enough for a light dessert and perfect alongside just about any dish! The recipe comes from my Great Grandma Garrison who was from the small town of Ava, Mo., in Douglas County. There is nothing special to this recipe in the least, but I think that is what makes it so tasty.

My second pick is mom’s Lemon Meringue Pie.  Lemon will get your senses going right on through spring and summer.  And, my third pick- is my mother-in-law’s French Coconut Pie.  It’s OUT of this WORLD scrumptious.  Get your baking hats ready…GO!

Grannies Egg Custard
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup sugar (sprinkle very slowly)
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups milk
½ tsp. vanilla
Sprinkle nutmeg on top
1 homemade crust

Bake at 325 degrees in a glass dish (a 9×9 works well). Place glass baking dish in a pan of water (hot water bath) for 20 minutes.

Pie Crust
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups shortening (I use Crisco & vegetable shortening)
Blend with pastry cutter until well mixed.

In a cup beat 1 egg.
Add 2 tsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. vinegar.
Add enough water to make 1/2 cup.
Stir into dry mixture & knead until smooth. Roll thin & place in 9″ pie pans.

This recipe will make about 3 crusts.

Since you are making 3 crusts, I say you go all out and makes three delicious pies as well.  I mean, you wouldn’t want to waste a crust, would you?

Here are two of my other Top Pie Picks:

Lemon Meringue Pie
Jello Cook & Serve Lemon Pudding Mix
Heat 2 cups water in medium pan
In a bowl mix pudding mix, 1/2 cup sugar plus 2 Tbsp.
Add 1/4 cup water
Grate lemon rind from half of a lemon
Add 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice
Add 3 egg yolks, stir well & add to hot water. Cook until thick. Add 2 Tbsp. butter. Cool and put in a baked 9″ pie crust. Top with meringue.

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tarter
dash of salt
Beat until foamy.
Add 1/3 cup sugar, 2Tbsp. at a time, & continue beating until stiff peaks
form. Bake 10-15 min. or until lightly browned at 350 degrees.

French Coconut Pie
1 unbaked pie crust (use the pie crust that is features in the December 2005 archives)
3 eggs
1 1/2 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. melted butter
1 C. coconut

Brush a little egg wash on the unbaked pie crust (you will find the egg wash in the December 2005 archives also) bake at 400 degrees for 1 minute. This prevents a soggy crust.

Beat eggs slightly, add all other ingredients and mix. Pour mixture into pie shell.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, and finally at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Cora 7 Months…Creating My Lil Foodie

Cora 7 months


A typical day for baby Cora these days includes lots of chitter chatter, trying to climb and wiggle to get the toys that are just out of reach, eating three meals a day, plus lots of yummy snacks and giggling and reaching for mommy’s hair for a sweet little tug.  She’s 7 months now, which almost makes me want to cry, “my baby… growing up way too fast.”

Cora is a very social baby.  She enjoys going to work with me to the farmers market and meeting new faces and seeing our familiar farmer faces.  I don’t think there is a shy bone in her body.  She smiles and giggles constantly…and I’m not embellishing in the least. Teething, sick…she’s still smiling.  She’s a real inspiration to me.

At 4.5 months I started first started her on solids and she’s been going strong since.  I wanted to give the young momma’s out there a sample of a typical 7 month old schedule, as I’ve had a lot of folks ask me about schedules and baby food recipes.

NOTE: All babies develop at different times, therefore keep in mind that Cora has been eating solids for awhile now.  You would never start a baby out on foods like this, they need to slowly adapt.  For more ideas I HIGHLY suggest looking at the site- my fave!

Typical Schedule
8 am: Rise and Shine (8 oz bottle)
9:30 am: Breakfast (sample recipe below)
Naptime right after breakfast (a good 1 or 2 hours)
11:30 am: Wake-up call: 6 oz bottle)
Playtime: provide some finger foods for a snack
Noon: Lunch (sample recipe below)
Playtime and Reading
1:30 pm: 4 oz bottle and Naptime
3:45 pm: Wake-up call (6 oz bottle)
Playtime and Finger foods in high chair
5:00 pm: Dinner (sample recipe below)
Bath and Short Nap
7:00 pm: Reading and 6 oz bottle
8:00 pm: Bedtime

Oatmeal and Kale
1 cube of Kale puree
Baby Oatmeal
Dash of cinnamon

Mix well and serve at room temperature and slightly warmed.

Banana Pancakes 


1 or 2 ripe bananas (not overly ripe or mushy bananas)
Pancake Batter (try Hodgson Mills Buckwheat Pancake Mix)

Slice bananas into coins or diagonally. Coat with pancake batter. Lightly fry in pan until golden brown. Serve as Baby Finger Foods for snack or at breakfast time.

Dinner Meal:
Brown Rice Chicken & Peaches

1/2 cup cooked boneless chicken – chopped
1/4 cup cooked brown rice
1 ripe peach
1 tb juice (white grape or apple juice may be used or use water)
1 tb milk and 2 ts wheat germ

Mix all ingredients together, transfer to blender/food processor and puree or chop to make textured for older babies.

Making the Kitchen Fun for the Wee Ones

My parent’s farm is about 25 minutes from ANY town and there were not many children my age to play with in rural ole Drury.

Now, don’t get me wrong there was plenty to do when the weather was nice outside. I would ride horses, go swimming in the creek, ride the four wheeler all around the back roads and on the farm, catch bugs and crawdads, help my mother plant flowers or help dad in the garden or with the cows, take walks through the woods and I had my daily chores every morning and night as well. So, as you can see there was always plenty to do, but when the weather was rainy, cold, snowy….You options were limited.

It was days like these that my mother would pull me into the kitchen and the craft making would begin.

It’s funny how small memories like this have really stuck out in my mind. In fact, if I really think back this is how my mother really introduced to me the kitchen. She made the kitchen a place of fun for me at an early age. I truly believe this is one reason I enjoy being in the kitchen so much today as a young woman.

So, today I want to share nontraditional “cooking” recipes that can help you teach the joys of the kitchen with your children. I know you and your kids will have as much fun making these crafts as I did with my mother, plus you’re making memories and traditions together – and those will last a lifetime.

Here are some of my suggestions for making crafts in the kitchen with your kids a bit easier on you:

· Embrace the mess. Children are messy. Children in the kitchen are even messier. If it makes you feel better, cover the table or counter with newspaper or plastic bags. After that, let it go and enjoy the activity.

· Keep the projects appropriate for the child’s age and skill and the time you have.

· Make maracas: Fill clean screw-top plastic bottles with different quantities of dry foods (such as beans, rice or peanuts) to create a variety of maracas. Children also can decorate paper labels to tape around the outside of the bottles.

· Fashion jewelry out of pasta and cereal: String cereal O’s and different shapes of pasta tubes on yarn or kitchen twine to make necklaces and bracelets. Use markers to color the pasta. (This was one of my favorites!)

· Paint with pudding: Make several different batches of instant pudding, then let children paint on paper with it using large brushes or their fingers. And the best part: it’s ok if they lick their fingers.

· Plant a forest: Of sugar cone trees, that is. Hopkins says that overturned ice cream cones can be decorated like trees (or spaceships or towers or…) using candy sprinkles, peanut butter, prepared frosting, or anything else that sticks.

All the following recipes are from: — Exploratorium, www.exploratorium.eduPlay

(Start to finish: 10 minutes)

1/2 c. kosher salt
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. cream of tartar
1 T. vegetable oil
1 c. water
Liquid food coloring

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except the food coloring. Stir until well-mixed, then add food coloring a few drops at a time until desired color is reached. The mixture will start out soupy.

Set the saucepan over medium heat and stir until the mixture begins to clump, dry and gets difficult to move the spoon through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the dough to a dry work surface.

When the dough has cooled to the touch, knead until smooth and cool. To store, refrigerate the dough in plastic bags. Makes about 2 cups of dough.

Colored Salt
(Start to finish: 10 minutes)
Zip-close plastic bag
3 T. coarse salt (such as kosher)
Food coloring
White glue
Construction paper

In the plastic bag, combine the salt and 2 or more drops of food coloring. Seal the bag and shake until the salt is colored. Use the glue to create patterns or designs on the paper, then sprinkle the salt over it. Let the glue and salt set for a few minutes, then tip the paper to remove excess salt. Repeat the process with different colors.

2/3 c. Joy dish soap
1 gallon water
2 to 3 T. glycerin (available at pharmacies)

In a large bowl, gently stir together all ingredients. Let sit uncovered overnight. To blow bubbles, fashion hoops from pipe cleaners or tubes from toilet paper and paper towels.

Baldwin Spaghetti and Meatballs


My mother’s Spaghetti and Meatballs is a tasty plate of comfort food to my soul!  Simply, fresh ingredients make the dish a true winner in my books.

I make homemade bread crumbs and freeze them incorporating a variety of breads from my local farmers market.  Asiago cheese, sourdough, honey wheat and rosemary focaccia are a few that made up this last batch of breadcrumbs.   Crumbs are easy to make, tear the bread into pieces and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, then store in a freezer bag in your freezer.

As great-tasting this meal is though, it does have it’s downside- I brown the meatballs in bacon grease (which I always have on hand).  I’ve tried to make this without this step and browning the meatballs in olive oil, but the results were less than satisfying.  Just splurge and do it- your taste buds will thank you!

We also serve this with whole grain pasta and crusty French Bread.  Make it the day before and the taste is even better after the sauce has had time to intensify in flavor.

Baldwin Spaghetti and Meatballs

Combine ½ lb. ground beef
1 egg well beaten
½ small onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 T. fresh parsley
¼ C. homemade bread crumbs
¼ tsp. salt
pinch of pepper
1 tsp. basil
2 tbs. of water

Mix and form balls. Brown in bacon grease (This is the key to great tasting meatballs.)

2 tbs. olive oil
3 (6 oz.) tomato paste
4 ½ C. water
Pinch of baking soda
1 small onion (finely cut)
3 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. pepper
Fresh parsley for garnish
Heat oil, add onion and brown. Add paste, mixed with water, sugar and seasonings. When sauce comes to boil, add baking soda. Add browned meatballs and simmer slowly for at least 1 hour.  Serve with shredded Parmesan Cheese and parsley.

Quick Chicken & Gnocchi Soup



One of my family’s favorite soups is Chicken & Gnocchi and I’ve got a recipe that is not only easy to make, but tastes like heaven on a cold wintery day.  This is a rich soup that features chicken, potato gnocchi, fresh spinach, carrots, and celery.  I always use homemade stock for this recipe…makes a world of difference in the taste.

Gnocchi are soft Italian dumplings, traditionally potato, flour and egg or breadcrumbs.  Gnocchi aren’t hard to find, as they are normally located in the dry pasta area in your supermarket.
Chicken & Gnocchi Soup
adapted from Copy Kat
8 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 quart half and half
1 cup celery, finely diced
1 cup onion, finely diced
2 minced garlic cloves
4 cups of homemade chicken stock (use canned if you don’t have on hand)
1 cup carrots, finely shredded
2 cup chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 package gnocchi, cooked
2 cup of fresh spinach coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Shredded Parmesan Cheese

In a Dutch Oven, sauté the onion, celery, and garlic in the butter over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add the flour and make a roux. Let the butter and flour mixture cook for about a minute before adding 1 quart of half and half.

Meanwhile cook gnocchi according to package directions.

In the mixture, add in the carrots and chicken and chicken stock. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasoning; simmer until soup thickened (about 5 minutes). Finished with shredded parmesan cheese on top of the soup.

No-Fail Chicken & Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken & Dumplings are the truest of comfort foods!  Hearty and filling, this dish will warm you right up on a wintry day.

I can remember my Grandmother Hart making this dish at all the family functions and she was known for dropping a pot off when anyone was a little “under the weather.”  As a child I enjoyed watching her and helping in her farm kitchen in Ava, Mo., and now I have my own little ones watching me in my kitchen.

This dish has it’s own little process, which I’ve provided.  Remember: Dumplings are hard to master.  Too thick, too gummy, too something….so how does one master the art of dumpling making?

Trial and error, that’s how.  It’s taken me about 7 years of making this recipe to get it “just right.”  This is my Grandmother Hart’s recipe that I’ve adapted over the years and I call it “no-fail” because it truly is.  If you follow the directions, I have no doubt you will agree.

Tips to Know
Don’t overmix your dumplings- this causes the dumplings to become tough.
Use ONLY Cake Flour for the dumplings.  This is KEY!  Find cake flour where the normal All-Purpose Flour is located.
Roll or dust each dumplings in flour before placing it in the pot to cook.
Let the dumplings rest for at least 30 minutes and dry out a bit before cooking them.
Turmeric powder- Makes this stock a beautiful yellow and adds a great spice!
Don’t have a whole chicken?  No worries…just boil a couple chicken breasts and legs.

No-Fail Chicken & Dumplings
417 Localista, Adapted from my Grandmother Hart’s original recipe
1 large fryer chicken about 4.5 pounds
4 carrots, peeled and cut in half
1 large yellow onion, chopped rough
4 celery stocks, including leafy tops, cut in half
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric powder
1 tsp. ground thyme
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup milk
3 cups of Cake Flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
4 1/2 tsp shortening
1 cup of milk

Start your stock
In a large stock pot place your chicken, celery, carrots, onion, bouillon cubes, garlic, salt and pepper- cover with water.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour.

After the chicken has cooked for about 20 minutes, start on the dumplings.  Mix flour, baking soda, salt in a medium bowl.  Cut the shortening in the mixture with your fingers.  Add the milk and stir until the mix forms a ball.  Be sure and do not over mix!

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Use a pizza cutter and cut the dough into rectangles or squares.  Dust each dumpling with a little extra flour and then place on wax paper to harden up a bit before cooking, at least 30 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked, remove to a plate and let cool off.  Debone the chicken and shred into chucks, removing all bones and skin.  Pour the broth through a strainer and discard all vegetables.  Reserve 7 cups of broth and freeze the remained for another time.

In a large Dutch Oven (or stock pot) over medium heat, bring the broth to a simmer and drop in the dumplings and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat, add the shredded chicken, thyme, turmeric, 1 stick butter and milk and cook for 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cora 6 Months Old

Cora 6 Months Old

Hard to believe that Lil Miss is 6 months old already, wasn’t it just summer the other day?

Self feeding, eats lots of yummy homemade baby food, sitting up on her own, standing up and holding on to items, grabbing toys and playing, pulling up to a standing position, starting to feed from a sippy cup, smiles constantly, very content and loves new people, highly amused by Big Brother Caston, rolling over, starting to creep, enjoys colorful books and works to get toys that are out of her reach.

Can’t wait to see what the next 6 months bring our little family.

Shrimp & Grits…A Family Favorite

Shrimp & GritsLooking for a great way to warm your soul this winter?  I’ve got the perfect recipe- Shrimp & Grits!

This is my mother’s recipe and I don’t think you can improve it one bit.  If you are looking for good shrimp, I happen to know a vendor at Farmers Market of the Ozarks that has quite the hook-up.  Larry Burt, better known as Big Pop of Big Pop’s Louisiana Seafood is our resident seafood guy at market.  He travels down to LA weekly to pick-up fresh seafood, right off the boat.  He used to be a fisherman in LA himself, so he know’s exactly what to look for.

Enjoy this dish on a cold evening and warm up in a jiffy!

Mom’s Shrimp and Grits
1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups water 1 1/2 cups hot stock (shrimp, chicken, or vegetable)
1/4 cup butter
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup stone-ground grits**
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
6 bacon slices
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped green or red bell pepper or both

To add flavor, place the shells of the shrimp in a saucepan and cover with water. Simmer over low heat approximately 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain the broth, discarding shells. Add shrimp broth to hot stock, makes for an incredible stock.

** If using quick-cooking grits (not instant), reduce cream to 1/2 cup and reduce stock to 1 cup.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cream, water, and hot stock; bring to a gentle boil. Add butter, salt, and pepper. Slowly add grits, stirring constantly (so that the grits do not settle to the bottom and scorch), until all are added reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (be carefully not to scorch mixture), or until the grits are tender. Grits should have absorbed all of the liquid and become soft and should have the same consistency as oatmeal (moist, not dry). If the grits become too thick, add warm stock or water to thin. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle shrimp with lemon juice, salt, and pepper; set aside. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon until brown but not crisp. Remove from heat and pat dry with paper towels; set aside. Coarsely chop bacon when cool. Reserve 4 tablespoons bacon great in the frying pan. Add onion, garlic, and green or red bell pepper; sauté 10 minutes or until the onion is transparent. Add shrimp mixture and bacon; sauté 5 to 7 minutes or until shrimp are opaque in center (cut to test). Remove from heat. To serve, spoon hot grits onto individual serving plates and top with shrimp mixture, then sprinkle with green onion tops.

Innocent Beauty…Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012
My mother and daughter, Cora, on Christmas Day! I love the look in Cora’s eyes as she gazes at my beautiful mother. These two will be great friends…I just know it.
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