Time-Out for Tenderness

 Photo by Robert Eklund on Unsplash

Children and their pets create bonds, strong and true.

Wherever a pet can be added to the family, daily affection and relationships enjoyed by all can be worth the effort required.


Top 10 Reasons


Warmer weather and sunshine now appear more often,

as springtime completely floods the countryside.

What does this mean for our neighborhoods and communities? Why, it’s time to organize a pet show, of course!

A short 1930s film of California kids shows us how it’s done:







Hello, Operator?

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

 100 Years of “Ma Bell”


Do you ever miss the feeling of cradling a Western Electric Bell telephone in your hand, holding the handset up to your ear, listening to the voice of your loved one on the other end?


And, how about the tingling ring that danced down the hallway when someone called your house?


Take a step back with me now as we revisit the early days of “modern” phone technology.







Summertime Strawberry Splendor

“Strawberries” by ewan traveler is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Realistic aromas can waft from vivid strawberry photographs. Peer for mere seconds before your mouth waters and senses rise with a pleasing dopamine rush!


An absolute favorite memory of my youngest years is the fresh strawberry season when both sets of my farming grandparents (living only about 2 miles apart) would grow their own bounty.


The first was a respectably-sized patch, laid out in a sloping plot, atop a steep hill. The second was a sprawling, large, flat patch, set in a sandy plot that felt as hot as the blazing desert.


The thrill of waking each summertime morning to the fragrance of these juicy jewels was beyond words alone.



Curiosity ~ Arnold Edinborough by Irina Gheorghita is licensed under CC BY 2.0


I’d roll out of bed and go straight to the kitchen, where there would be talk of what time the first pints of the day would be picked from the large patch.


Some had to be captured before the midday sun rose high above the beds and scorched them. Others would need hours of rays before their full color appeared. Then there were always a few of the most delicious ones, harvested just before dusk and nightfall, if someone had energy to go out one last time.


As talk and coffee flowed, breakfast sausage or bacon flash-fried in the skillet. Soon, cracked eggs were dropped into the hot drippings, and lacy edges would form around the rims.

A glistening bowl of tender, ruby-red berries made the table’s centerpiece; enough for all to generously garnish their plates.


Piecrusts or lightly sweetened shortbread biscuits would be baked later, for desserts to serve after the supper meal.

Finally, freezer jam was made from the last of the crop.


Strawberry Jam for Beginners


I realize the seasonal harvests of each region, such as gooseberries and morels, plums and pears, peaches and pecans, watermelons and corn on the cob, persimmons and potatoes, and numerous others – all provide their own heavenly experiences. Without a doubt, I richly enjoyed many.


Every able child deserves the chance to regularly work into a full sweat and get their hands in the dirt during planting or harvesting. As a result, the flavor of their efforts will come through on a plate of fresh goodness, at the table of kindred spirits where loving hands are joined together in gratitude.



“Strawberry plants” by Anz-i is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0




No More Singing the Blues

“blueberries” by Greg_e is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Porch Swing Chats

You can find newsletter archives featured here through April 30.


No More Singing the Blues:

A Basket of Blueberries Saves the Day


One good turn deserves another!

That’s why we’re back in the kitchen for a second day in a row. Whipping up a little something universally loved… coffeecake.

You can use either the scratch recipe link or a super-easy mix.

And remember to invite someone over to share its deliciousness. 

Then you’ll both be no more singing the blues!

Blueberry Buckle Coffeecake


Quick tips when shopping for the super-easy mix version:

Pick up a Krusteaz Cinnamon Swirl Cake Mix in the baking aisle. Swing by the fruit section for a pint of blueberries. Add eggs, butter, and salad oil to the cart and you’re ready for fast checkout.

Back at home, use box directions AND gently fold rinsed berries into batter, reserving ALL cinnamon streusel for topping. Bake in a buttered square pan (8×8 or 9×9), adding 5-8 min. to baking time.





Post #100: Let the Good Times Roll

Vintage Rock (Sugar) Maple Solid One-Piece Rolling Pin by GranniesKitchen; lic under CC BY 2.0


Porch Swing Chats

You can find newsletter archives featured here through April 30.


Post #100: Let the Good Times Roll!

The Great American Baking Tool


For this 100th blogpost feature, I’ve chosen something near and dear to me. A kitchen tool both simple and serene: the rolling pin.


There are sounds in life requiring no explanation; ones we recognize without even seeing them in motion.

Like a balloon when it pops, a rotary telephone ringing, the neighborhood kid dribbling a basketball down the driveway,

or the squeaky screen door of a rustic mountain cabin.


With all the years of time I’ve spent in kitchens here-and-there, one sound I still find soothing is that of a rolling pin in motion as it smooths out a lump of pie pastry. Each rolling pin has its own unique pitch and sound; the result of its mechanism in the handles, combined with the force or gentleness of contact with the dough.


Going back in my memory, I could’ve been blindfolded and still have known which of our family’s bakers was working their rolling pin magic in the kitchen. How? Just as the gait of each person is unique to their build and stature, everyone uses a rolling pin somewhat differently. And the best part is this: whoever operates one of these kitchen tools is in pursuit of creating a culinary treat!


Click here to learn more: 


Making a Pastry Shell



Diner Classics: Tuna Noodle Casserole

Photo by Peter Bond on Unsplash


The first known recipe was published by Sunset magazine in 1930. Campbell Soups came along a couple years later, sealing the deal.

Folks have either a love or hate relationship with this staple dish!


Recipe Selection:


Tuna Noodle Casserole for the Instant Pot


Traditional Tuna Noodle Casserole



Diner Classics: Spanish Rice

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash


Van Camp’s once produced Spanish Rice in cans.

Rice-a-Roni even developed its own version.

Neither could rival the scratch-made skillet dinner

served at diner and dinner tables everywhere!


Recipe Selection:


Spanish Rice for the Instant Pot


 Traditional Spanish Rice 




Diner Classics: Smothered Pork Chops

Photo by Colin Avery on Unsplash


Tender meat, seasoned to perfection, covered in a rich gravy.

Nothing else sticks to the ribs and satisfies hunger quite like it!


Recipe Selection:


Smothered Pork Chops for the Instant Pot


Traditional Smothered Pork Chops




Diner Classics: Chicken Pot Pie

Photo by Shawn Ang on Unsplash


The Romans weren’t the first to enjoy these culinary delicacies.

Historians say savory meat pies were popular way back in 9500 B.C.

Whether you buy one in the frozen foods section of your supermarket or make it yourself, the meal-in-a-pastry is unparalleled comfort!


Recipe Selection


Chicken Pot Pie for the Instant Pot


 Traditional Chicken Pot Pie



Diner Classics: Salisbury Steak

Photo by Ricky Singh on Unsplash


An original recipe by the famous American, James Salisbury, listed primary ingredients of salt, pepper, butter and Worcestershire.

The standard still holds today – and will never go out of style!


Recipe Selection:


Salisbury Steak for the Instant Pot


Traditional Salisbury Steak