Pumpkin Cookies

A great time to repost this recipe. Love me some pumpkins!

A Dollop and A Pinch

Fall means pumpkins!Whether you are carving them to illuminate or cooking with them, pumpkins are in season and signify autumn. A fierce competition is on for the world’s largest pumpkin and at the time of this writing farmer Ron Wallace holds the title with his 2,009 pound prize.

This gourd-like squash has also been featured in numerous fictional works. How many can you name?

To prime your brain pump I’ll give you an easy one: in Cinderella a pumpkin is used to create her carriage.

Ok, here’s a hard one: In a short fiction by Nathaniel HawthorneFeathertop from 1852, a witch turns a scarecrow with a “pumpkinhead” into a man.

Leave your comments below if you know other instances. (I know of at least 7 more.)

Now on to the more delicious topic: Pumpkin Cookies

Preheat oven to 350.

Sift together: 2 cups flour,1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown…

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A Response Letter to the World

veggiecloseupDear World,

I got your letter.  

Thanks for the encouraging words.  Funny you should write because I have been trying to prepare my message for you just in case you asked.  I’ve been pondering, “What would I say if I were given the lectern to address you, World?”


How can I decide what my message should be?

Some people have said “look for your passion” and you will find YOUR story or message to the world. The question is almost like saying to a cook, “What is your specialty dish that you bring to a cover dish dinner?” Or, “What do you prepare for every special occasion?”

This thinking should focus me but it only fogs my mind. What is my passion, my specialty dish? What makes my heart race and blood rise?

Answering those questions isn’t simple. As I’ve reviewed my life and interests, I have found that I am passionate about a variety of things, whatever I am doing at the time! I cooked something different for every occasion!

  • For three decades I had buns-in-the-oven (aka being pregnant), birthing, and rearing a total of eight children.
  • I have been passionate about cooking up dramatic presentations in a way that makes the written word come alive to an audience and cast members realize their potential and see the blessings of such a ministry.
  • I served up literal dishes when I owned a tea room business, creating an atmosphere for escape and refreshment, encouraging customers that life is worth living and they are special. I passionately share my favorite recipes and stories from this experience in a published cookbook.
  •  My mind stirs and simmers resulting in writing, blogging, and bringing the world into people’s homes allowing them to experience travel without leaving home.
  • I have dished out encouragement through speaking and writing, sharing how God has been alive and active in my life and how He desires to be active in their lives.
  • I boil with desire for people to be real, especially women who hide behind masks that suffocate them, living in fear that they may be exposed.
  • I am passionate about family, immediate and extended, and desire for them all to reach their highest potential by using their God-given gifts. I celebrate with them on their victories and grieve with them in their defeat.
  • I am currently discovering the recipe for a Real Estate career excited that the main ingredient is serving my clients.

The common thread of my passion, Dear World, is Truth and a desire for others to know a genuine, personal relationship with the living God. That is my motivator – the reason I live and breathe.


So, what dish do I offer to YOU, World?

Truth lived passionately.

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The Skinny Sunday Stroll

This gallery contains 18 photos.

Skinny stroll? Because it was so exerting that you lost weight? Only if you did it many times over many days would it be a weight plan. The “skinny” refers to the thin pathway along the mountain up to visit … Continue reading

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Caroline’s First Shopping Trip

This gallery contains 25 photos.

Bethany was ready for another outing so we packed up the backpack and the baby-carrying front pack and headed down the trail to the bazaar. We visited many shops and finally stopped for a snack. Do you see the decorative … Continue reading

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Paris Comes to the Mountain

Eric GervaisOn our trek to the top Sunday, we met an opera singer from Paris, Eric Gervais. After a bit of “how-do-you-do” and “what-do-you-do” conversation, Abe, the choral teacher at Woodstock, invited Eric to come to his class Monday. Eric was “on holiday” for a few days in India, staying at a hotel about an hour’s walk away and was pleased to be asked and accepted the invitation.

Quad auditoriumThe class met in the Quad Auditorium, a perfect setting for a small recital (except for the noise in the hall from students going into the cafeteria!)

Eric sang three selections, answered questions about technique and his experiences and then critiqued the class on their choral singing. The most impressive demonstration he did was the difference in volume when you use your sinuses and open your mouth. He sang a note with a small mouth and then moved into a large LOUD voice that really carried. Impressive to me but more importantly, impressive to the students. He is a tenor and was able to get a high note that set the bar for the tenors in the class.

A few more pictures:

Eric Gerais DSCF6483 choral class Choral class bulletin board in the auditorium A view of the quad

The last photo was taken from the third floor of the music building where Abe’s office is. You can see the left end of the quad and across the way, the doors to the cafeteria.

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A Walk up the Mountain and Back

This gallery contains 34 photos.

On Caroline’s 11th DAY birthday, we took a stroll up the mountain using the eyebrow trail and on the way back the wider path. I followed Abe, who had Caroline in a front pack, and Bethany, who had a backpack. … Continue reading

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A Walk to the Bazaar

A clear, dry day during monsoon season invited me to “stroll” down a mile or so to the bazaar, a three-mile stretch of townroom (not townhouse) storefront shops, each sharing a wall with the neighbors. Some were smaller than a small bathroom or the size of a closet but each served its purpose. There were shoe makers, tailors, cookware vendors, electronics, material shops, mobile phone stores, cafes, grocery and produce booths and more. The clouds were somewhere else so the view to distant mountain tops was possible. Just outside our patio the path leads to the neighboring Redwood, school housing.

The Neighbors   Woodstock pool  Woodstock in the mountains  The Mountains

Walking along the road, the view is breathtaking…then again, walking along the road is breathtaking! Where’s the oxygen?

In the bend of the road, hanging precariously near the edge is a snack bar, Cozy Corner.

Cozy Corner Every time I have passed this “establishment’ there are customers enjoying freshly created chai or some homemade treat.

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Monsoon season has been rough this year with thousands losing their homes and lives. The waters wash down the mountains sometimes forcing the railings over. Not to mention the road is made narrow at the spill of dirt.

Trash Bin


These trash bins are found all over.  Don’t know why they don’t seem to be used. **(CORRECTION: The bins are used by people putting trash in but monkeys take it out! Thanks for the update, Bethany.) Beast of burden share the road. This one is taking a break while its owner visits comrades over chai.

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A view of the Landour Community Hospital which was established many years ago by the people who founded Woodstock. Another panoramic view with Woodstock in the distance. Although a picture is worth a thousand words, it still doesn’t capture the complete beauty and awe of this part of the world.

DSCF6375 DSCF6376 Cars and motorcycles also travel this road in both directions. It is a challenge sometimes for all travelers to maneuver the path. But they do on The Indian Road.DSCF6377 Fresh produce, yum.

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Bought some fresh ginger for making chai. fresh ginger  The shop also had a large variety of lentils!lentils and grain DSCF6385

More mountain views.DSCF6384 This is near the Hotel Camel View. There is a mountain that looks like a camel’s back and seems to be a tourist attraction. DSCF6383 DSCF6381

I decided to turn around here because I was about half tired. Only thing is, it was mostly uphill to go home! I got my exercise for the week, though. (legs were very sore the next day)


The monsoon season may bring dangerous water but it refreshes the scenery with bring green life. Moss grows on everything. I enjoyed admiring the beauty of my surroundings while I sat and rested on the final stretch up the mountain to home.

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High Altitude Cookies

toaster ovenWhile visiting my newborn granddaughter (and her parents, of course) in India, I attempted to make some chocolate chip cookies for the gazing guests coming to welcome the wee one. I was not prepared for the results of my favorite recipe when using a toaster oven at 7000 ft. altitude!


I even had my own sous-chef who chopped up the chocolate bar into pieces. The recipe
was a favorite using coconut oil for the shortening. I had made a batch right before I left home that disappeared. At least two things were not considered when I started my project.

The oven and the altitude!

temperature settingThe oven was just a toaster oven, not a full-sized oven as I was accustomed to using and the temperature was in Celsius. I didn’t know how to convert or what number to use for 350 degrees.

The altitude definitely effected the outcome! And, the ingredients were a bit different. The granulated sugar was finer, the brown sugar was darker and the coconut oil was richer. Why did I think they would come out the same???

cookie doughThe dough looked regular but the end results were not. cookiesEveryone said they tasted delicious but I didn’t like the presentation. Eating is all about presentation, right? You eat with your eyes first. The cookies seemed to boil when they were baking. They certainly didn’t stay in a nice cookie shape but “melted” all over. Some parts of the cookies got very thin and almost lacey. Hmmm, maybe a new kind of cookie? NO. They were ugly.

Send me high altitude/toaster oven cookie recipes, please.

I will be in India for about two more weeks and would like to leave some really good cookies in the freezer. If you know of a sure-fire, “make ya slap yo mama” recipe, I’d love to have it.

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The Indian Road

Traffic in Dehrudun (click to experience it)

was especially busy on Wednesday as the taxi began the trek up the mountain to Mussoorie. The next day, August 15, was India’s Independence Day and people were in pre-celebration mode, I suppose.

I had forgotten exactly how close cars are to one another, how people just walk through traffic and scooters wriggle through the tangle of autos and rickshaws. Vehicles and people were actually within an easy reach and almost beckoned a friendly touch from my taxi window. Horns honking created a symphony with an underlining bass of rumbling motors. The air was hot and muggy in the city but, just as the roads continued to narrow the higher we ascended, so did the air. A cool, moist breeze suddenly hit as we crossed an imaginary line. Perhaps a cloud had engulfed us. My chauffeur, a well mannered young man donning a starched button-down, carefully maneuvered the twisting mountain pathway preventing me from panic.

He routinely honked his horn before each blind curve to announce his coming. Honking in the states is like using all caps in emails, a statement of dominance or release of anger. But in India, honking is the language of the road for harmony.

Independence Day I arrived in time to attend Woodstock School’s Independence Day celebration. The quad and columns along the walkways were decorated with ribbons and ribbons of strung together greenery and orange flowers. The students and faculty wore traditional costumes from India (or Korea, if students were also celebrating their country’s independence) which splashed color and grandeur. An assembly in the gym provided an assortment of music and fanfare. The keynote speaker, Brian Dunn, the chaplain of the school expounded on what I had just experienced in my travel up the mountain.

“Life should be like the Indian Road”

His message: “Life should be like the Indian Road.” A curious statement but he convincingly argued his thesis. The roads in India are about relationships. People have to share the road and work together to safely get to their destinations. Road rage does not exist because there are no expectations of being able to singularly and effortlessly reach the desired destination, seeing others as obstacles. The slow, sugarcane-loaded truck is signaled by a gentle honk that the vehicle trailing wants to pass. Brian Dunn pointed out in India,

 “I honk, therefore I am.”

The driver extends an arm and gives the wave that the coast is clear around the bend or a “caution” gesture to wait for safety, perhaps a herd of goats are on the road or a cow is at a stand still across all lanes.


That is another subject. They appear to me to be just suggestions, especially if merging through an intersection. How many fender-benders and outbreaks of road rage would happen in any other country? But, in India, each person on the road, whether on foot or in vehicles, respects the existence of the others and more like a dance, as Dunn pointed out, they instantly choreograph a ballet, of sorts, accompanied by the brass section, to merge and be on their way. The lanes do not separate the bikers and walkers, groups of children or herds of cattle and goats. People are not confined to a limited space for their existence.

The roads are about relationships,

a working together for a common good.

Shouldn’t life be like the Indian roads? A beautiful picture has been painted about working together on the road of life….but ironically after the wonder speech, everyone dismissed to the courtyard of the school for lunch, a phenomenal array of India’s culinary specialties.


All one had to do was “get in line (lane).” An Indian woman and her children managed to merge in front of us, missing the twenty-minute wait that we had had. When the non-Indian staff members told her to go to the back of the line, she just turned to them and smiled. The Indian road?

When it comes to food and food lines,

maybe life should NOT be like Indian roads!

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Couscous Mediterranean Salad

Couscous: a coarsely ground pasta made from semolina, a type of wheat.

photo 3 (18) A simple, delicious and different dish that my daughter-in-love shared with me. They often eat this in Bosnia. Her family of five uses two cups of couscous so I bought five cups when we went to Earth Fare (my new favorite store). Our crowd was their family of five plus our three more and a few people in the apartment complex I wanted to feed: the diligent law student and his wife who barely have time to do anything other than study for the bar, the family of four moving into an apartment on the end of our building, random people we’ve met by the pool. Why not have a little extra to share? Five cups should do the trick.

Let me just tell you that FIVE CUPS of couscous EXPANDS into quite a bit. Good thing I have “The Bowl” (a very large stainless steel bowl that is used for crowd cooking).

The recipe: (a loose suggestion with a number of variations according to taste)

1. Place dry couscous in a bowl. For each cup of couscous, pour two cups of boiling water over the couscous. Cover with a towel and let the water be absorbed. (an hour or so)

2. Chill the hydrated couscous.

3. Add to the chilled couscous: (this is what I did, but you can use anything you want)

  • chopped fresh parsley (about half a bunch)photo 1 (21)
  • diced purple onion (1)
  • crumbled feta cheese (12 oz)
  • grated carrots (8 oz)
  • diced cucumber (1)
  • cubed avocado (2)
  • diced Roma tomatoes (6)
  • sliced black olives (1 small can)
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • minced garlic
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Mix thoroughly and let it marinate to blend flavors. Adjust seasoning.

This dish served almost 15 people! AND, there’s plenty left over for tomorrow. I served it with grilled Mediterranean Cheddar sandwiches and Greek egg salad. Yum.

What else do you think should be put in this dish? Or, maybe what would you leave out? If I had had some limes or lime juice, I would have used lime. Balsamic vinegar works well, too.

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