About the blog

Welcome to my blog. This is a place where, as time allows, I will post comments, inspirational words, favorite things and short essays about daily life. I get to meet and interview interesting people through my job, so why not share some of it with all of you? If you like what you see, please forward a link to your friends and family.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Biscuits, sweet or not

Today I'm in recipe-testing mode. I'm about two-thirds done with my "Sunday Dinners" cookbook, but have only begun to test recipes. Today I tested two for baking powder biscuits. One is from Serita Jakes, the pastor and first lady of The Potter's House in Dallas; the other is from Pastor Suzette Caldwell of Windsor Village United Methodist Church, the largest UMC church in the country. Both of them are yummy. I'm giving you Suzette's recipe, with an option for turning the dough into into sweet cinnamon-raisin biscuits.

Baking Powder Biscuits

4 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 cups heavy cream

§         Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
§         Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Whisk together well.
§         Add butter, and using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
§         Add heavy cream, and stir just until dough comes together; mixture will be sticky.
§         Transfer to lightly floured work surface, and, with floured fingers, knead dough until it forms a ball. Sprinkle flour on work surface and lightly dust dough to keep from sticking. 
§         Using a rolling pin, roll out dough to a 1-inch thickness. Use coffee mug or cookie cutter to cut out biscuits. 
§         Arrange biscuits in a lightly-greased 13x9 pan. Bake 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Serve hot with maple or blueberry syrup or strawberry jam.

Tip: To turn these biscuits into sweet rolls for breakfast, add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the flour mixture. Then add 1 cup of raisins when heavy cream is added to the dough. Finish with a powdered sugar glaze.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Remembering William Burns

Sad news arrived on Sunday. William Burns, the father of my longtime friend DeAnne (Burns) Kinsey, passed away. He had been battling cancer for some time, and had a huge setback when he contracted a dangerous staph infection, MRSA.

I’ve known DeAnne since we were 4 years old and my mother was our Sunday School teacher at Christ United Methodist Church in our hometown of Lafayette, Ind. During junior high, her family moved to a subdivision across the street from the subdivision where I grew up. She and I became better friends in high school, once we were not only members of the same church and neighbors, but also finally attended the same school.

The Burns home became my second home during high school and college. I spent a lot of time there and have so many memories of DeAnne and I trying to get her dad to make popcorn for us or trying to trick her younger brother Jeff into getting refills for our glasses of Tab. We were two goofy girls making our way through our teen years one awkward moment at a time. As we did, both Bill and Mary Burns watched with knowing smiles, filled with both pride and joy.

Bill Burns was a sweetheart of a guy. He was a high school science teacher who could have been a stand-up comedian. I loved listening to his hilarious stories and jokes. I knew that every time I went to their home, I’d spend the whole afternoon or evening laughing and having fun. He had a way of telling a joke that not ony made you laugh, but also made you part of the joke. I’ll never forget the time when DeAnne and I were students at Purdue and we went to visit our friend Kelly at Indiana State. Bill thought that it would be safer for us to drive his Ford Pinto, so he, in turn, spent that weekend driving my VW Bug. You can imagine the jokes he had for us when we got back to town. He concocted an elaborate story in which he allegedly struck a poodle while driving my car, and the poodle got up after the incident and ran off. We were so gullible – and he was so convincing – that we actually thought some of the tale might actually be true.

In addition to the laughter, love filled the Burns household. DeAnne’s mom, Mary Burns, was – and still is – a stunningly beautiful and elegant woman who always made me feel not just welcome, but also wanted.

The Burns family’s Sunday Dinners were legendary – at least in my mind. Mary Burns was an amazing cook, and she’d prepare elaborate meals. Her dining room table was decked out with formal china and that meal was a big event followed by hours spent talking and laughing around the table. The time spent together was magical and during it all, Bill Burns held court. He’d beam with pride at the loved ones gathered around his table and when we were done eating, he’d encourage conversation that could go on for hours.

So today I say goodbye to Bill Burns, a man who had a bigger impact on my life than he probably ever knew. He showed me what a family really could be at a time when my own home life felt fragmented. Despite the tears I’ve shed thhis week I won’t remember him with sadness. I’ll remember him with laughter and love. I will miss him dearly.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Kirk Cameron wants every husband to be a heartthrob

At 41, Kirk Cameron is probably better known now for his Christian marriage ministry work than the seven years he spent as teen heartthrob Mike Seaver on the TV sitcom "Growing Pains." I suppose he gets tired of hearing about the fame he earned on that show, but it is what a certain generation remembers of him.

But I can't help connecting the dots between his role as a teenaged hottie to wanting to help couples add a little heat to their marriages. His movie "Fireproof" - the highest grossing independent film of 2008 - and related "Love Dare" book bring tools to couples to strengthen their marriages.

Kirk Cameron believes the Bible
provides great instruction for a
good life and great marriage.
Photo credit: Lynn Freeney

I interviewed Kirk on Thursday for a story that ran in the Houston Chronicle and he was sincere and down to earth. He explained his conversion from atheist to born-again Christian as happening through a couple of ways. One was that he was always curious and questionning, but simply didn't believe in God. A friend invited him to attend a church service and "found the message from the pastor (Chuck Swindoll) captivating to my intellect and my sense of morality. It caused me to ask more questions and seek more answers," he said.

He explained that neither his parents nor his siblings attended church nor believed in God. His parents had periods of difficulty that even included separation. Eventually they all became Christians and he said their deep faith has brought them peace and happiness.

The two things he said can help any marriage are finding joy and practicing forgiveness. I'd say those are two things that can make your whole life better.