I Got On the Pumpkin Bandwagon


I resisted as long as I could, but gave in this morning before leaving to go work on my farm house. What did I give in to? The pumpkin craze that happens this time of year caught up to me. There was that can of pumpkin in the pantry and pie isn’t what I felt like making- oh, by the way. Did you hear that your favorite canned pumpkin is really yellow squash? Yep. There was an article about it a couple of weeks ago. I wonder if I offer anyone a piece of squash pie this Thanksgiving if I’ll have any takers.

Instead of making pie this morning, I made pumpkin bread.  As always, this bread is not too sweet and great with a cup of coffee.

Here’s the recipe and what to do:

In the bowl of your mixer, combine one 15 ounce can of pumpkin (not pie filling), 2/3 cup white sugar, 3 eggs, 2/3 cup olive oil and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix till combined.

In another bowl, whisk together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Once completely combined, pour into the pumpkin mixture and slowly turn on your mixer. The batter will be very stiff. When mixed, divide dough equally into 2 bread pans, that have been sprayed with Pam.  Place in 350° oven and bake for about 80 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer stabbed in the middle. If it comes out clean, your bread is done. Cool before cutting.20161022_081637

Out at my farm house, the weather was perfect. Couldn’t ask for a prettier day than today. Cool temps, clear blue skies. No butterflies this morning, but the honey bees were busy in the pink sasanqua.

I worked today in what use to be the original kitchen. It has been gutted and will be my son’s bedroom and en suite. Its amazing what a couple if coats of primer will do to brighten a  dark fire place mantel. Again, slow progress is still progress.

My old barn is ancient, with quiet stalls lining both sides and a set of stairs to the second story. No floor on the third story, yet, but one day.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

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Jesus, I Love You

It was after our choir had done the musical Somebody’s Praying You Through that our music minister told me he had picked out a new song for me to learn. It was called Jesus, I Love You: written by Norman Hutchins and performed by the Brooklyn Tabernacle  Choir.

I learned the song, concentrating on the notes and I, of course, learned the lyrics. The first time I sang it during worship I had no problem with it. But in choir practice a few weeks later, as we went over the song again, the words really got to me. I couldn’t sing it for sobbing. And when we would present the song for worship, I couldn’t get through it. I would get to a  certain point and then couldn’t finish it.

Joy of my salvation

Peace in my storm

Loving arms protect me

Shelter from harm

My strong tower

My dearest and best friend

I had no problem with these descriptions of Jesus. My hang up was with the line that proclaimed Jesus as my everything. People would ask me, “Amanda, what is it about the song that makes you cry?” I would tell them, “If I were to sit down and write a love letter to Jesus, it’s exactly what I would say.” But now, just being as real and honest as I can be, I knew deep down that wasn’t the truth. And God knew it, too.

You see,  there were parts of my life that I welcomed Jesus in willingly, invitingly. But then there were other areas in my life that I would wave Jesus away and say, “That’s okay. I don’t want to bother You. I can handle it.”

Until September of 2013, then I realized that I didn’t have it by myself and that I did need Jesus present and powerful in every part of my life.  During these last three years, He has been

there when I was lonely,

there in all my pain,

guiding my footsteps,

shelter from the rain.

And it was Him, He has made my life complete. 

He is to me my everything and that is why I sing. 

During the vamp of the song, the lyrics talk about not being ashamed to tell the world. Now that sounds a lot like evangelism. Evangelism, I thought up until this past year, was for other people. Well, in 2016 I have gone on two mission trips: one to Nashville, TN and the other to New Milton, England.

Was way out of my comfort zone, let me tell you. Half way over the Atlantic, the pilot throttled back on the engines. I punched the GPS on in the back of the headrest of the seat in front of me to see how much longer we had to fly. Oh, gee, only about another four hours. Um, Mr. Pilot, are we gonna make it to England? Hhhmmm? Please. Closer to God up in a plane, I guess. Prayers were flying around up there, I can assure you.

On English ground, I met many lovely people, all with hearts focused on God. I found myself opening up and telling my story, from my beginning salvation to my present walk. They responded with warmth, thanked me for my testimony,  and wished me the best. I’ll  always treasure my visit there.

Another adlib in the song praises Jesus with

How You set me free!

Isn’t that the truth?! I am free! As much as I loved my earlier life, I would not want to go back there. The only one I need to please is Him. Which if each of us would make that our priority, this dark world would be a whole lot brighter. Will I cry the next time I sing it? Well, we’ll all find out together. So,

Jesus, I love You. I couldn’t imagine if you were not there.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.


Slow Progress

Surprises have popped up at my farm house. Choices and decisions, ideas and plans have to be changed. Yet, slow progress is still progress.

Some friends stopped by today. I gave them the tour, told them our plans. In the living room, my friend tried the keys of the old Werlein piano. Doesn’t sound that badly, considering it hasn’t been played or tuned in decades.

They had nothing negative to say, even though I sensed they were making a list of everything that still needs doing.

“I know there’s so much work to do,” I said.

“Yes, but it’s going to be great when it’s finished. You’re going to enjoy living out here.”

I appreciated their being positive. Some have not been.

“A big ol’ smile appears on my face when I turn off the highway and head down this road,” I explained. “The sky is bluer, the clouds whiter. Butterflies flutter ahead of my car, leading the way to the house.”

“You’ll enjoy that porch in summertime.  You can sit out there at night and listen to the whippoorwills and hoot owls.”

My friends left and I climbed back up the ladder. I ripped out old ceiling tiles today and at least a million staples. Decided where my antique pie safe will go and that the light fixture from the parlor will be spruced up and moved to illuminate future family dinners.

Dining room:  I tore out the ceiling and Mama swept up

Slow progress is still progress.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Wishing For Cooler Weather


August drags on. My next statement is a given: it’s hot! Where I am not wishing for winter weather, cooler temps would be nice.

Inside is where I’ll be found today. In the kitchen, baking an apple cake. Digging around in the gadget drawer for something else the other day, I found the apple corer my former mother-in-law gave me a few years back. Seeing the  Pampered Chef gadget made me want apple cake. So, I’m spending Sunday afternoon in the kitchen.

The apple corer is a handy little thing to have: makes preparing apples for recipes a whole lot easier.


Put the sharp tool on the blossom end of the apple and push straight down. A plunger inside the gadget makes dispensing the core easy. Simple, simple.

Cake’s in the oven and I think I better check it.  I wrote Miss Hudy’s Apple Cake last year. That’s the recipe I am using today. But I didn’t peel the apples like Mrs. Hudy says to do. No reason, really. I just didn’t feel like peeling apples today.


Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

My Grandmother’s Scarf



Last week it rained. The week before that it rained.  And the week before that. It’s soggy. None of my family in the Baton Rouge area were personally affected, but they are helping with the clean up and tearing out. Brings back childhood memories- sad, scary ones. This flooding in Louisiana is worse than what we experienced in 1983. My heart goes out to my native city. Our church collected needed items last Monday. I gave what I could.

My youngest went back to school Saturday afternoon. All day he kept asking if I was going to miss him.

“I already do and you’re not even gone yet,” was my answer.

He threw open his big arms and said like he did when he was little: “Hug?”

I hugged. He packed. Getting into his truck, he hesitated, jingled the keys.

“You know, if you need anything, just call me.”

“I know I can,” was my answer. “Now get on up to school. Be careful on Spring Ridge Rd. Wear your seatbelt. Message me when you get there, please.”

“Yes, ma’am. Love you.”

“Love you, too.” One last, “Be careful.”


I drove to my 1902 farm house.

Primer, paint rollers, brushes and a radio were unloaded from the trunk of the car.  A box fan was positioned to blow into the parlor, windows raised. Big windows, wavy glass symmetrically placed in ten foot high walls.

I listened to the news. They gave reports about the flooding in Louisiana. Interviews of Baton Rouge residents, their distress and plight clear in their tired voices, had me teary eyed. Bad memories.

I rolled primer over antique green paint. The walls are tall, but as the green disappeared a brightness rose. A message from George meep-meeped from my phone. He had arrived at school and was lugging his stuff up to his dorm. As I text him back, movement in the front yard caught my attention. A doe and her spotted fawn cautiously picked their way through the overgrown front yard. Beautiful.

I changed the radio station and found a rebroadcast of the Prairie Home Companion. I laughed and primed.  When there was no more primer in the two gallon bucket, I washed out my roller and brush. The new well has water that comes out cold and sweet.


Sunday morning: prayers for Georgie at 7 a.m. Dressed for church, I rummaged through a drawer for something to tie back my unruly head of hair. I found one of my grandmother’s scarves. The red was a little darker than the pants I wore (reds are hard to match perfectly), but wearing it today brought back good memories of Grandma. Strong lady. Maker of chicken pie. Eyes the color of dark blue marbles and a bright intelligent smile.


Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Orange Apple Muffins

Last night I had a play date with my grandson Brentlee. He’s nearly six months old and is thriving. Excuse a doting grandma, but he is beautiful.


I can’t wait till he is old enough to join me in the Exile’s Kitchen, so I can share some tasty good things with him. Speaking of which, here’s one: Orange Apple Muffins


1 1/2 cups reduced fat Bisquick

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Gala Apple and 1 Pink Lady Apple (washed and chopped)

1 cup orange juice

1 egg

1/4  cup corn oil


What to do:

Turn oven on to 375°. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with papers.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl and add in the chopped apples. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, egg and corn oil. Add wet ingredients to the first. Spoon evenly into the muffin cups. Bake till the tops of the muffins are nice and brown.

Note: the orange juice makes this recipe light and fluffy and adds a hint of citrus taste to the traditional apple muffin.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Try These Two Together

Try these two easy recipes together for a cool summer time treat: Peanut Butter Frig Fudge and No Churn Vanilla Ice Cream. Both recipes have just a few ingredients and take minutes to mix up. These sweet treats are great by themselves, but combining them creates a cool desert your special people will love.

First- Peanut Butter Frig Fudge

Mix together in a medium bowl 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup Smucker’s Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter, 1/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder, 1/4 cup honey and a splash of vanilla. Divide mixture into 24 mini muffin cups and chill in the frig till firm. Store in the frig till you are ready to eat or use in the next recipe. Each fudge round is 90 calories. Try them in the bottom of a cup of coffee. Yum!

Second- No Churn Vanilla Ice Cream

In a mixer pour in a 16 ounce carton of heavy whipping cream. While that’s spinning around, in another bowl combine 1 can of fat free sweetened condensed milk,  a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla. When the cream is whipped, fold one cup into the sweetened condensed milk mixture. Then add that back into the whipped cream, stirring lightly, till well combined. Pour into a bread pan and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer till firm. Serve over warm apple pie or a brownie or your choice, your choice.

Or wait 2 hours. The ice cream will be soft-served at this stage and the perfect time to add anything you’d like. Peaches, Oreos, oo! Cherry pie filling would be fantastic. But since I have given you the fudge recipe, let’s do that.

Microwave about 6 of the fudge cups in a little bowl, and break into pieces an additional 6 cups.  Sprinkle over the top of the semi-soft ice cream. Take a knife or spoon and swirl around and down through the vanilla ice cream cloud of easy goodness.! Cover again and return to the freezer till firm.


Enjoy. Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

I Didn’t Find A Poke’mon


Today I didn’t find a pocket monster, but I did find a pug- a really tiny one. Yesterday was a very long day. Up at 5 a.m. and at work by 6:15. Worked all day, went home to start preparing for my weekend plans, then made an unexpected trip to the ER with my youngest son. We got back home at 2:30 this morning. (Side bar: He will follow up with another doctor next week, but he is feeling a good bit better.)

Even though I was exhausted from our ER visit, my plans for today could not be changed. One hundred-fourteen year old farm houses do not demo themselves and a small army to do the work had already been assembled. So…

Let’s  just say that none of us needed an app on our phones to get any exercise today. I didn’t find any Pokémon characters, but I did find a coat of arms and an old family picture – not my family, of course, but someone’s.  More little toys were unearthed, including a no-eyed, yellow Care Bear and the tiny black and white pug dog. Close as I will ever get to finding a Jigglypuff or a Pikachu. Is that what they call them? 


It’s good to work hard. Know why? Hard work makes quittin’ time that much sweeter. I’m gonna sleep like a rock tonight.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

I Reminded Myself


Lying in bed this morning, the question nagged at me. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? The immediate answer was No. So, I got up and cooked breakfast for Mama and Georgie. Then I headed out to my project.

Just me and my broom and dust pan. Just me and my ladder. Pandora was programmed to my thumbprint settings. Creedence Clearwater Revival shared the sultry morning air with Phil Wickham, The Piano Guys and The Mavericks.

Never have been a fan of heights;  four feet off the floor and I get vertigo. But up the ladder I went.

As I jerked the curtains down, some fought me. They had been there for decades, after all. It was hot today, as July in Mississippi inevitably is. I was alone, with no help. Now, I’m not poor mouthing, just stating that I was working by myself. The early morning question spoke up again: have I bitten off more than I can chew? Can I do this?

My Daddy’s words came rushing in and with it a memory from my childhood. Math homework and Daddy was trying to get me to understand it.

“I’m just not good at math,” I had said, very frustrated.

Daddy wouldn’t have any of that defeatist attitude and he told me: “You are George Leo Ellison’s daughter. There is nothing you can’t do. You’ve just got to make up your mind to do it. Now, try again.”

So, I tried again and down came the curtains. Out went the wool area rugs. Hauling them outside, scripture came to mind. Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

I reminded myself, that yes, I am George Leo Ellison’s daughter, but I am also the daughter of the Most High God. Hoohah!

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.