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My Cabin

I have this “cabin.” It’s a shed. A nice shed made up to be a cozy spot.

I originally got this cabin for my dad. He wanted to move back to Ohio. I thought it would be nice to spend time with him after mom passed. I wanted that. Many people want to have relationships with their parents, even in trauma-induced situations. That was my dad, even if he wasn’t my blood. He wasn’t perfect, but he was mine. He’s the man my mother married, and she loved him very much. He was part of my life. I wanted that relationship to be the best it could be.

John was a stubborn person. He wouldn’t even look at the cabin. Although it was for the best in the long run, I wanted that to happen. It was a terrible idea. I was just mad that we went through all that preparing, that he agreed to do it, and then he wouldn’t even look at it.

I let that cabin sit. I was frustrated with it. Mad. So mad. He took my mother from me. That’s how I felt. He was a difficult person, and his decisions made my life a living hell at times.

That is what trauma does. It makes you feel one way while wanting another thing. It’s an overwhelming amount of emotions. Many people just shut down completely. They don’t grow up with Clair Huxtable as their mother. Clair was famous for sitting with her family and counseling them, so we all wanted Clair to be our mother. That is why the show was so memorable. That is also why the world was so shocked by the behavior of Bill Cosby. What a disappointment to anyone who grew up watching that show. The truth is the world is full of “Bill Cosbys.” I think that is why our society is obsessed with binge-watching TV. It is a release from the real world. A place where we can hide for a few hours.

That sounds so familiar to addiction. We all seek relief in some form or another.

That is why I can relate to homeless people so well. I know that feeling of wanting something better but not being able to make that better thing happen. Yes, I have a wonderful marriage. A nice home. Beautiful children. But those are not the sign of success, in my opinion. I think it is more successful in finding peace amongst a world of discontentment.

So I was outraged and did nothing with that cabin. Then I read about Airbnb. I started thinking about my cabin and cooking for others that stay there. I could have my own bed and breakfast. Those are my reality-escaping dreams. I want to buy a huge plot of land, with a lake. There is a house close to me that has all of those things. It’s empty, so it’s easy to really dream about those places. What if I could just win that lottery? My husband and I like to trespass on the property and sit by the lake. It is the middle of nowhere.

So how cool is it that I now have my own bed and breakfast. I may not have 1.5 million to buy that farm, but I can use what I have, where I am. The cabin is now a hot spot on Airbnb. And guess what every review says? Breakfast! Oh my, does that make me happy. I thought I was going just to make a couple hundred dollars. I wanted to put a beach at the pond.

God never ceases to amaze me. He is using that cabin for so much more.

One of my favorite things about food is how it evens the communication field. People that you don’t know, you can talk to them with ease over a plate of delicious food. You can sit across them and find out a lot about them. Sometimes we are so busy racing around we don’t take time to sit with others. Food forces that awkward connection with others.

Today one of my guests left crying over his overwhelming feelings. He shared his story with me. His story is very similar to mine. He and his wife were so open about the homeless. They also minister to and help with the homeless. They are not the only amazing guests. I have had so many. Almost every guest sits with me in the mornings, over coffee, and farm-fresh breakfast. We talk about everything. They are mostly looking for a respite. Here? They find peace and solitude in my back yard. I look at my backyard and see toys, a broken fence, tree stumps, and many other imperfections.

Why do we do that to ourselves, anyway? Why do we always feel like we are not enough or do not have enough? Then someone comes into your life and reminds you that what you have is so much more than what we realize. That is what I am learning from this experience, feeding others. To appreciate my life. How does that even happen? Feeding people teaches me to appreciate my life? I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I see a larger purpose in it. It’s hard not to.

God. He always brings people into my life like this. He uses food to do it too. I am obsessed with food. This is why. That is a success in my eyes. Not because I am a successful chef, or bed and breakfast owner, or that I can provide a roof over my head. It’s that I found peace in every aspect of my life.

It’s not like it’s all gone. I still struggle with anxiety and depression. Those are always going to be part of my brain’s make-up. But what God is doing with it-that is where success is measured.

If you’re holding back for any reason, especially because you’re angry, don’t. You never know what God is going to do with your life. You don’t have to be a “bible-thumping Jesus freak” to be used by God. He knows our stubbornness and will and loves us anyway. It’s his will that we undervalue in our lives. Finding peace is not easy. I cried today; actually, I cried yesterday too. It is hard to let God use us because it puts us in a vulnerable position. I hate vulnerability the most. Guess what? He uses that too.


Inexpensive Pumpkin cake For 100 people

Today I made a cake for 100 people. The whole cake costs $15. That is not true. It cost me about $5 to make it because I get free eggs, thanks to my chickens, and free pumpkin thanks to donations from our supporters. This cake is something I often make and with many variations. I guess you would call it my go-to cake.

I bought this creamer, so I thought. Sometimes I’m in such a hurry I miss the fine print.

I was walking around with coffee, working, and yelling at Aldi for their horrible creamer. I was upset that it was so bland, had no cream, and not what I like in a well-flavored creamer.

Then I read the bottle only after it sat in the fridge for a long time.

I was cleaning out my fridge to cook things up that I don’t want to get spoiled. Then I looked at that creamer and read the front.

Yep. It’s all Aldi’s fault.

I am losing my mind a little. Maybe. Because this is a pumpkin spice latte, not a pumpkin-spice-latte flavored creamer — much different taste.

In my kitchen, we don’t throw things away. So the Pumpkin Spice latte glaze was born.

Pumpkin is free to me regardless. I prefer to grow butternut squash in place of pumpkin. It tastes just like pumpkin but has no liquid in it. In fact, many times, canned pumpkin is made out of butternut squash. Manufacturers are much like me, and they do not like waste. They are always concerned with the bottom dollar. Butternut squash goes a lot further than pumpkin- earning its place as my favorite.

To make the cake:

You make this basic cake with three boxes of white or yellow cake mix. You follow the instructions on the box and omit half the water by replacing it with three cans of pumpkin. You also need to add about 1/8 of a cup of pumpkin spice seasoning. It’s a lot because the cake is large.

I buy these full-size steam table pans from Sam’s Club. If you shop online, you can get 18 pans for only $10. These are great pans because they are sturdy and don’t buckle easily under the weight. I know that its a luxury to buy throw away pans but I feed 100 people every week. Sometimes it’s okay to have some help. Just make sure you do it so it’s inexpensive and good quality. Inexpensive doesn’t mean it should not work. Then the savings is not worth it.

To make the glaze:

You make the glaze with a pound of powdered sugar and a cup of the latte. If you don’t have the latte, you can use coffee that is very diluted with milk and pumpkin spice seasoning. You mix it up cold and add it to the cake when it first comes out of the oven. Super simple. You want to make sure you put the glaze on a little at a time. It took me about five dumps for it to do its job. You want it to soak into the middle of the cake as well as the side. So you add it directly to the center of the cake, let it sit for about 3-5 mins, then add a little more. It oozes down the sides of the cake more than the center. That is why you need to make sure you hit the middle first and let it soak in during the intervals. Otherwise, the glaze will only be on the sides of the cake.

When the cake cools, it will have a beautiful glaze. You can sprinkle the top with more of the pumpkin spice.

The real beauty of this cake is that it tastes better the next day after it has been refrigerated. The taste is good the same day, but it’s even better the next. It makes a great addition to a breakfast buffet. You can use it in a lot of ways.

Other variations I’ve used to the pumpkin cake is to melt cream cheese and drizzle it over the cake batter before baking it. You swirl it around, so it looks marbled. That is an excellent rendition of the pumpkin cake.

I’ve also made it with a crumb topping. You can add white chocolate chips to the top while it’s still hot, and they make a chocolate glaze.

I’ve made it with a pecan crumb topping.

I’ve used melted butter with cinnamon and sugar as a glaze.

The old-fashioned cream cheese frosting is a good one. The kind you put in pumpkin rolls. It is a little more expensive, but not that much.

Official instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350

Mix the all the ingredients except the powdered sugar and latte with a whisk. Pour the batter into a large aluminum pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake uncovered about 60 minutes in a 350-degree oven until the middle springs bake when you press on it.

Mix the powdered sugar and latte with a whisk and dump onto the hot cake in 5-minute intervals.

Let cool and serve.


Why I feed the Homeless

I started this blog 2 years ago. I really wanted to write and share my cooking abilities.

God had plans for me.

God was really laying on my heart to help the homeless. I started cooking for them and have made roughly 9,000 meals in the past 2 years. In the midst of this work, something happened that I was not prepared for.

I lost my friend to addiction.

She died too soon. We were friends for 27 years. I decided not to let her die without it meaning something. So I started to dig deeper into helping others. It has been quite the journey.

You can read her story and what this fantastic foundation does here,

Naturally, I want to share my experiences with the world. I want others to recognize what this means to our world. We have people starving in our towns and cities. Last winter, in Akron, 4 people froze to death, local rivers are contaminated with diseases, and there are thousands of vacant homes. Ohio is experiencing a catastrophic economic crisis. This is the result of over 600 homeless people.

Akron, Ohio. The closest big city to where I grew up and where my mother worked for 20 something years. Akron, Ohio. Not a third world country. Not New York City. But little ole Akron, Ohio.

I always felt like I wanted to help others. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family. I lived in multiple group homes and foster care for a few years. That is where God started using me. That was 30 years ago. Until recently, I didn’t understand why God would allow my life to be the way it was. Now it all makes sense to me.

I made my first meal, roast beef, and mashed potatoes for my 7 foster siblings. They loved it! My foster mother, who was a lovely person, was not much of a cook. She bought mostly frozen dinners. I grew up eating what was grown in our garden. Going from garden-fresh to frozen processed was not an easy adjustment.

My stepfather, like so many men in the 70’s, was a Vietnam Veteran. He was a heavy drinker. He had PTSD. It was not a healthy combination. He couldn’t keep a good job. He didn’t get along with others. He wasn’t a hard worker. My mother did all of that. But he wasn’t a horrible person. He had severe problems and handled it poorly. One thing he was good at was cooking. I was raised in a home that always had good food.

What God has done with my life has really helped me understand my father more. I don’t feel anger for him anymore. It is true. Helping others helps the giver just as much as it helps the receiver. I hope to prove it to the world too.

I don’t mean that I am a saint now. Although a lot of people call me a missionary, a minister, and other things, I don’t feel I am. It’s hard to take praise for doing something we all should be doing. We aren’t in this world to help ourselves, although hurt people think that way. I believe that is because they build walls to avoid emotions. I know I have done my share of wall building and not caring. It never ends well. That is what I know about that.

The truth is, we are all healing from something. Pain is part of life. Some of us are fortunate to have others to love us when we experience life’s abuse. That is the difference. We all fall; we don’t all rise. The people we have fighting in our corner makes a big difference.

Please don’t take this as it’s the parent’s fault. Addiction is something different. You can’t help someone who steals from you. I mean, you can. You can feed them. You can give them clothes. You can tell them you love them. You can help them with rehab. You can listen to them. You can forgive them. You can try everything. Living with you or your grandma, No! You can’t expose your children to their lifestyle. And most importantly, you can’t stop them from using.

They become homeless.

I couldn’t sit across the room from my father, and I sit with addicts and alcoholics all the time. That smell of alcohol and cigarettes is actually a trigger for my own PTSD. I use to cry for “no reason” when I was around those that drink too much. Especially when you add in my personal alcohol abuse. That smell makes my heart beat really fast. Indeed it makes me lose my mind. I have gotten into fights with spouses, boyfriends, other bar members, and friends over this. Not just little scraps either. Horrible battles that ended marriages, relationships, left me with black eyes and created words that no one meant to say. Every heartbreak left me with thicker walls.

Now my life is very different. My husband loves me, unconditionally. Everyone in my life knows why things are the way they are. When I was young, I didn’t understand or do the right thing. So I rebelled against the world. I am still a rebel, but I rebel against the bad now. I use my anger for good.

God got ahold of my heart, finally. He waited so long for this season of my life.

I remember going to a group home in the middle of the night. I cried all night long. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if people would like me. When you’re a kid, those things really matter. I hated God for all the pain. I thought God was punishing me. Now I know God hated that pain too. He was lying in that bed, crying alongside me. There were times I wished I were dead. God never let that happen. He knew what was coming. God knew I needed to heal so I could help others to also heal. He knew that I was punishing myself, and he needed me to stop.

I am grateful I see His love now. I am even more thankful that he can use my light to light the world.

I am going to attempt to share the ups and downs, along with recipes for the 100 weekly meals. I use all my frugal ways to do it. God still does not allow me to forget them. I will never stop finding ways to save. The more we save our money, the more we can give. That is my new addiction.

I hope you will all join my journey, and most importantly, it inspires you to do more.


End of Week Pasta Salad

Alright, by now we all know that I love to save money. I don’t like to waste, and I attempt to be healthy by not eating too much processed foods, or eat out where they have control over my food.

This pasta salad is one of those meals that I whip up, very often, in order to use up produce and cheese, that have been in my refrigerator for the week.

I am on a stupid diet right now so I am using ingredients that are heart healthy, like whole grains and olive oil. You can use anything you want in your pasta salad. That is the beauty of this pasta salad. I have literally made it without any vegetables, without any cheese, or without any extras like olives and such.

The point is to use what you have and make a delicious dressing to go on it. That’s the secret to a good pasta salad, every time. Not the ingredients, although certain ingredients are perfect in pasta salad, but the overall taste of the salad, aka… the dressing.

Here are some pictures of the ingredients I used.


As you can see I cooked a 1/2 pound of whole grain pasta, just a little because I can only have a couple cups a day, and whatever vegetables were left from the week. Use more noodles if that’s what you have most of. This pasta salad gets eaten very quickly so this a great way to use up those peppers that are starting to show signs of over-ripening. Also, those tomatoes, I didn’t have many. I cut them in half.  The rest of my ingredients came from a can, olives and pickled garlic. I had small blocks of cheese, several kinds, so I cut them small to incorporate all through my salad.

So, for that dressing I bragged about.

You will need:

1 cup of olive oil (I used extra virgin for the health properties)

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of oregano and 1 tablespoon of tyhme

I would normally use some garlic salt as well but I put pickled garlic in my salad and omitted it this time.

Salt and pepper to taste

You want a lot of dressing. You want the dressing to sit at the bottom of the bowl when it first goes in. So, if you are making a bigger salad than me, be sure to really make lots of dressing. The noodles soak it up as it sits in the fridge.

Whisk together all the ingredients.  Dump them on your pasta salad and mix well.

Let your salad sit in the fridge for an hour, covered, then take it out to taste it. I really encourage this part. The salad tastes so different after it sets.  The herbs and spices have more time to soften and marinate together. Also, after it sits, the noodles soak up that dressing and you want to make sure you don’t need to add more. If you let it sit too long without enough dressing, the flavors do not get into the noodles properly.

Great little snack. Healthy and delicious.

Whatever doesn’t get eaten on the weekend, gets used for lunches on Mondays. I like to save sour cream containers for the kids, school lunches. I save them, then pack up this salad in their throw away containers, and put them in the fridge. They can grab them and go on Monday mornings.



Alice’s Homemade Noodles

My Grandma Alice. Boy do I miss her.  She’s a legend in our family.  She was so sweet unless you made her mad, then look out. My generation grew up loving her profoundly and fearing her immensely.scans 072

Grandma Alice raised 6 children. Her husband, my grandfather, died at a young age from cancer.  Alice became a single mother. As you can imagine, she didn’t put up with a lot of crap.

A group of us, my cousins and myself, can remember a time when we disobeyed Alice. Alice lived in front of railroad tracks, and for perfectly good reasons, we were not allowed on them. Don’t ask me whose big idea it was to go play on those tracks. I quit trying to figure out who is the bad influence, amongst my generation, a long time ago. Of course, we thought we were so smart and would not get caught. Ha.

All any of us remember is seeing Alice stomp down those tracks with a fly swatter in her hand. We should have run. We should have begged for forgiveness. But instead we froze. She swatted us all. I don’t remember if it really hurt us. What I do remember is how bad I felt that Alice was so mad at me.

Alice’s house always smelled like coffee, that she made in a percolator, and fresh baked bread. She always made Parkerhouse rolls, applesauce and coleslaw, at every Sunday meal.

Alice made a lot of depression era meals. I wish she was still alive so I could talk to her about those days. I love to talk to my 82 year old mother-in- law about the depression. She has so many amazing recipes that I’m excited to share with you, when I get the chance.

Today, I’m making a recipe that Alice made at many Sunday dinners, Homemade Beef Tips and Noodles. Alice made her beef in a pressure cooker. I’m using my Dutch oven. If you don’t have either of these, no big deal. Any pan with a lid, combined with a high heat in your oven, will give the same results.

Alice would be proud of that plate.



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My mom would also make this recipe. It’s a treasured recipe in my family. My mom and I are the only ones that continued the tradition.  However, everyone loves the meal. As a kid, I loved helping my mom make homemade noodles. My mom would make the noodles early and let them sit on the counter to dry. I use to eat them raw when my mom wasn’t looking, so I thought.


The noodles are crazy inexpensive. There are a couple different ways I make them. I use them with Beef Ragu and Alice’s traditional, gravy-style beef. I also use chicken and turkey, with the noodles, instead of beef. Those are both really tasty too. It’s also a really great way to use up leftover meats.

For the noodles you will need to whisk together 3 eggs with salt and pepper.

I love my giant fork.


Then, you need to add in 3 cups of all purpose flour, about a cup at a time, until a dough is formed. Knead the dough until all the flour is mixed in.



Dump the dough onto a well floured surface area. Cover and let rest ten minutes to soften the glutens. You will have a very hard time rolling these out if you don’t let them rest.

First attempt, about half way there.


I rolled but it was still hard to roll as thin as it needs to be. The noodles will swell when they cook, just like prepackaged noodles. So, thin is where you want to be.

Roll, flip, rest, repeat





Now that your dough has been rolled thin, you want to roll it up into a jelly roll.



Then, with a serrated knife, cut the roll in slices. I like big thick slices but cut them however you like them.



After they are cut, you unroll the slices to make your noodles. You can cut them in desired lengths. Or you can do what I do. I rip them in smaller pieces as I unroll them.



Let the noodles sit on the counter all day, if you can, to let them harden up a little. This just ensures they cook without turning to mush and sticking together. I am sure I have had times that I didn’t have them sit long. Sometimes time is not on our side. On a meal like this, you want it to be a day you’re hanging out at home.

And kids love to help make these noodles. It is so much fun and think of the wonderful memories.

Now the beef. There are many ways to make a beef roast but I like to make anything in my dutch oven. It’s fast and makes any meat fall apart.

You’ll need about 2 pounds of beef. I like them very beefy. You could use one pound if you are on a budget. You could easily use less meat and double the noodles, if you are trying to save even more money.

Today I didn’t have much as far as vegetables and stock goes. I only had celery and carrots. So, I used a packet of onion soup to help with the flavoring.

Here is my typical recipe:
2 pounds beef chuck, round or sirloin roast

1 each of diced onion, carrot, celery, garlic clove

4 cups beef broth

1 tablespoon parsley

1/4 olive or vegetable oil

1/4 cup of flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat the roast in flour, on both sides, and salt and pepper to taste. Then sear the meat in a hot oven safe pan. Searing is critical for a very tender roast.



Remove the meat from the pan. Cook the vegetables, until golden brown, in the same pan and oils.

Once veggies are browned, add 4 cups of broth and stir and scrap the bottom to incorporate all ingredients well.

Add the meat back to the pan.

I burnt my veggies a little but it still tasted amazing. I tasted the burnt tidbits to ensure they weren’t going to ruin my meal.


Cover the pan and cook the meat until falling apart and easily shredded. This took me about 2 hours. The time will vary depending on your pan. My iron, dutch oven cooks very quickly because of the high temperatures that get trapped in a dutch oven.



When it’s done, you want to pull it from the pan and shred it with two forks. I keep mine in very big and chunky shreds.

Then, bring the juices to a boil, either on top the stove or in the oven. Once the juice is boiling, add the noodles.

In the hot pot they go.


Let the noodles cook for about 1/2 an hour.

Swollen noodles.


Once the noodles are cooked, add the meat back to the pan, along with about 1/4 cup of milk or cream. The milk is optional but I really like the creaminess it gives. Cook everything for about 15 more minutes. Watch the pan closely because it will easily stick to the bottom and burn at this point.

All done.


Oh that smell. That smell takes me back to my childhood. If I could get one wish granted, I would wish to drink percolated coffee with Alice and my mom. But they are both gone. I’m so grateful for the things I learned from them both. Today, I felt a little nostalgia and a little sadness for my losses. However, it was a great reminder that it’s traditions like this, that keep our loved ones with us for many generations.

Parkerhouse rolls and peas to complete the meal.