Friday, October 4, 2019

Ma Sue's Famous, Old-Fashioned Fudge Icing (it's the real thing!)

This very old recipe for fudge icing will raise your favorite brownies, sheet or bundt cake to the next level.
It's a bit tricky at first and takes some practice, but please give this recipe a try if you are a chocolate lover.  Pay attention to the timing during boiling and beating and the weather conditions (it will take longer to set up in hot,humid weather).  Also, don't get discouraged if your first attempts don't turn out perfectly.  Making candy (and this is a candy,basically) takes some practice.

Let's give this a try!

First, gather all of the ingredients:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1/2 cup butter (stick)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Then, carefully follow the instructions:

In a medium, heavy pot mix the sugar, cocoa, and salt with a wooden spoon or wire whisk.

Gradually stir in milk.

When the mixture begins to boil, add the butter.

Bring to a full, rapid boil that can't be stirred down.

Boil exactly 3 minutes, 45 seconds, stirring constantly.
Finally, add the vanilla extract (add last because the flavor of vanilla is diminished the longer it cooks). 

Then cool no more than 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and either with a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the fudge. 
Beat (start on low then move to high) exactly 5-10 minutes minutes till creamy.  

As you beat, the icing will gradually lose some of its shininess and thicken on the beaters and the spatula.  

How do you know when it's ready? Watch the way  the icing behaves along the edge of the bowl.  When it starts to stiffen along the edges, and the texture of the icing is  creamy and dull rather than shiny, it's done.
    Pour and spread the icing immediately on your cake or brownies.

    Top with nuts, if desired, immediately.

    Consider this recipe to be marriage insurance.

    Ma Sue's Famous, Old-Fashioned Fudge Icing

    First, gather all of the ingredients:
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1/2 cup milk 
    • 1/2 cup butter (stick)
    • 1/2 cup cocoa
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    Then, carefully follow the instructions:

    Cooking the fudge:
    • In a medium, heavy pot mix the sugar, cocoa, and salt with a wooden spoon.
    • Gradually stir in milk.
    • Add the butter.
    • Bring to a full rapid boil that can't be stirred down.
    • Boil exactly 3 minutes, 45 seconds, stirring constantly. 
    • Add the vanilla extract (add last because the flavor of vanilla is diminished the longer it cooks). 
    • Then cool no more than 5 minutes.
    Beating the fudge:
    • Remove the pan from the heat and either with a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the fudge. 
    • Beat (start on low then move to high) exactly 5-10 minutes minutes till creamy.  
    • As you beat, the icing will gradually lose some of its shininess and thicken on the beaters and the spatula.  
    • How do you know when it's ready? Watch the way  the icing behaves along the edge of the bowl.  When it starts to stiffen along the edges, and the texture of the icing is  creamy and dull rather than shiny, it's done.

    Pour and spread the icing immediately on your cake or brownies.

    Top with nuts, if desired, immediately.

    Thanks for stopping by, y'all!

    ~Amy Laurie


    Friday, September 6, 2019

    Southern Pan-fried Okra!

    This time of year I'm always gathering a  mess of okra from my little kitchen garden and this is one of my favorite ways to cook it. I hope you will give it a try as a special treat for your family.  It's okay if you don't have enough okra to fill a black cast iron skillet;  substitute some cubed squash, zucchini or green tomatoes. Yum! And don't forget to place the fried okra on a paper towel on a plate to blot any extra oil and then salt and pepper generously.

    You will want to eat this like popcorn but I beg you to use some moderation. packs 121 calories for a 1/2 cup serving and also counts as a serving of carbohydrates.

    I serve this Southern classic with home-grown tomatoes, corn, biscuits,and country ham.

    • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds okra, caps cut off and sliced
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 1/2 cup plain cornmeal (may sub. self-rising)
    • 3/4 tsp. seasoning salt (may sub. salt and pepper)
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup milk (or buttermilk)
    • Vegetable oil (may sub. half olive oil)


    • In a pie plate or paper lunch bag, mix together flour, cornmeal , salt and pepper.
    • In a medium bowl, whisk together egg and milk.
    • Place okra in egg mixture and coat well.
    • Transfer to pie plate or paper bag and coat with flour.
    • Pour about 1/4 inch vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Heat oil until about 375 degrees.
    • Place a single layer of okra in the oil. Cook until golden brown on bottom and use a spoon to flip over. Try to flip over a few at a time or it will take a long time to work your way through all of them and a few pieces may burn by the time you get to them.
    • Once golden brown on both sides, use a slotted spoon to remove okra to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle okra with some salt as soon as you remove it from the oil.
    • Add more oil to the pan and fry remaining okra. Serve warm.


      And thanks for stopping by!

      ~Amy Laurie 

    Saturday, August 10, 2019

    Marriage, A Foretaste of Heaven

    The love of a husband and a wife is the force that holds society together. ~ St. John Chrysostom 

    Can you define marriage?

    It's a task that in the secular, modern West is becoming ever trickier.  For years, everyone agreed that marriage was the union of a man and a woman for life. Enter no-fault divorce laws, and marriage became a union between two people as long as that union suited the couple (and many began writing their own vows) and lasting as long as convenienced them.    In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in every U.S. state.  In 2023, we are beginning to see some recognition for polyamorous relationships (polyamory is the practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships, with the consent of all the people involved) and such arrangements as "living apart together", spouses living in separate households. 

    So clearly, we are not all on the same page when it comes to what marriage is.

    Fortunately for Christians,  the Bible has plenty to say about marriage and how marriages ought to be structured and work.

    According to the word of God, marriage is the union between a man and a woman and it turns out that it was God's idea from the very beginning   But to understand the purpose and definition of this unique relationship, we have to take a look at the purpose and definition of man and woman, getting to the very heart of philosophy .  What are we here for and what are we supposed to be doing?  The book of Genesis in the Bible answers these questions.

    Man, in the Beginning
    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
    The Creation of Adam, Michaelangelo Buanorroti

    It turns out that marriage was God's idea.  Moses, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gives an account in the book of Genesis right at the beginning of the Torah.  Here he tells how the Lord God made the universe, the earth and everything in it, including man, in six days, called it all very good, and then rested on the seventh day.  

    Adam, the first man, was literally "formed" from the dust of the earth on the sixth day, the same day as all the land-creeping mammals.  However, Adam was given his own identity and authority separate from the beasts and vegetation.  Unlike the animals, Adam was made after the image and likeness of God:
    Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."  And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.... And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.  Genesis 1:26-28     
    In a real sense, Adam was given his own realm and a mandate to replenish it, order it, and take dominion over it.

    In another passage, God literally gives man his own garden, to work and to keep.
    The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Gen. 2:15
     So again we see the idea of taking possession of, authority over, ordering, governing, and making productive the earth. 

    God also gives Adam a command:  he must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  In this we see that Adam has authority, but he is also subject to God;  he is sovereign but not a tyrant. He must reign under the reign of God:
    And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Gen.2:15-17  
    The extent of Adam's rule depended on his obedience to the Lord God.  He is not to rule for his own selfish desires but to glorify God and fulfill His purposes in Creation.  But it turns out that Adam did eventually disobey God's clear instructions by eating from the forbidden tree and in so doing brought on himself a great obstacle to dominion: rebellion, sin and, ultimately, death.

    Man defined:  He is made in the image of God, God-like, but made from the earth and so animal-like, too.

    Man's purpose: Man is given sovereignty over the earth, subject to the Creator God.  He is given a mandate from God to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth, to bring it to order, to govern it, as well as to work the garden and keep it (Genesis 1:26-28, 2: 15-17).

    Woman, in the Beginning

    "Adam and Eve", Gustav Klimpt

    After creating the world and everything in it in six days, and saying that it is all very good, the Lord God turned to the man and saw that something was not good. Man was alone.
     Adam had named and classified all of the animals and was surrounded by the animals, yet none of them were "fit" or suitable to be the kind of helper he needed to fulfill his mandate from God. 

    But the Lord God had a solution and He set about building a woman:  

    Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. Gen. 2:18-20 

     Instead of forming the woman out of the dust of the earth, as were the animals and Adam, too, God built her from a part of Adam's side: 

    So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;  she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."Gen. 2:21-23

     When Adam was presented with his new companion he identified their relationship:  she was taken out of his own body, and so he willingly accepted her as part of himself: This is something taken out of me!  He recognized their oneness.  This giving of himself, literally, to create a bride is a foreshadowing of the future Messiah giving of himself to bring about the Church, His bride.  John Calvin explains the parallels:
    He [Adam] lost, therefore, one of his ribs; but, instead of it, a far richer reward was granted him, since he obtained a faithful associate of life; for he now saw himself, who had before been imperfect, rendered complete in his wife.  And in this we see a true resemblance of our union with the Son of God; for he became weak that he might have members of his body endued with strength. Source
    Adam recognized that this new creation, the woman, was like him, but different.  And as if to memorialize the origin of this amazing creature, Adam, gave his wife his own name:  "Ishah", or woman, wife, female, is a feminine variation of "Ish", or man.  She belongs to him in the most intimate way, and because of this, he also belongs to her.  Like Adam, who exists to glorify God, Eve exists to help her husband in his task and in so doing gives herself to him and to God. Together they glorify God in their self-giving. 

    Woman defined:  She is taken from the man, made after the image of God, but different from man.

    Eve's purpose:  She is made to  be Adam's "help meet" and companion. (Genesis 2: 18-20)

    Marriage, in the Beginning:  one man, one woman, one flesh, one mission
    Former GI Ernest Kreiling and his bride overlooking valley where he fought during WWII. April 1947 (Tony Linck)

    Adam has his companion and is given instructions on this new and unique relationship with his bride:
    Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Gen. 2:15
    The Holy Spirit describes here the bond between a man and his wife as the strongest on earth, stronger even than the natural bond between parent and child. The command to "leave" father and mother and "hold fast" and becoming "one flesh" also illustrates that the man and his wife are to form a new social unit, their own household,  separate from their parents' households.  Their oneness will be extended as they fill the house with children, each child representing his parents' union, one person literally created from two.

    Christ referred back to this passage in Genesis when the Jews asked Him about divorce, "Is it permissible to divorce a wife for any cause?"  Jesus answered by going back to the beginning and used the original marriage as his template:

    "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?  So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." Matt. 19:4-6 *
    Christ went on to say that divorce had been permitted by Moses because of the "hardness" of their hearts.  But in the beginning, divorce was not part of the plan: 
    Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.  And I say to you:  whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.   Matt. 19:3-9
    Definition of marriage:
    Marriage is a permanent bond between one man and one woman that enables them to fulfill man's creation mandate and glorify God.  

    Purpose of marriage:
    Man and woman are joined together in order provide one another companionship, to bring forth children, establish households, govern and steward the earth.  

    And since God authored marriage, it makes sense that we are to look to him for the principles of marriage, which we will be discussing in future posts.

    "The Kiss", Gustav Klimpt
    Marriage in its original design is a blessing to both men and women. If we study the order given by our Creator and Christ and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, walk in love with one another, we will enjoy sweet harmony and friendship in our marriages.  The husband looks up to his Maker in reverence and the woman is a faithful and suitable helper to him.  Together they build peaceful and productive families, homes, churches and communities that bring flourishing to the earth and glorify God. 

    As love grows in you, beauty grows, too. For love is the beauty of the soul.” 
    ~St. Augustine of Hippo

    These last few verses illustrate the destructive effects of divorce, as well as polygamy. Both are corruptions of the original design of marriage. The two shall become one and form an unbreakable bond... not the three, four, five or six shall become one.  Polygamy, like divorce, was not the original design.

    Thank you for stopping by!  

    May the Lord bless you and make you to be a blessing.


    Amy Laurie

    Tuesday, July 30, 2019

    Marriage Before the Romance Novel

    Jan Steen, "The Merry Family"

    The romantic comedy or "chick flick" is a wildly popular genre of film. Women love the conflict and tension leading up to the happy ending of wedding bells.  But the romantic, emotional exuberance of the modern ideal belies much of the history of traditional marriage. Indeed, the two conceptions of marriage are so different as to make you stop and think about whether they are the same institution at all.

    In modern societies the purpose of marriage is romantic love, intimacy, and individual fulfillment. In fact, 70 percent of divorcing couples in this study give lack of commitment (mostly due to an absence of romantic love or a feeling of having drifted away emotionally) as the reason for their divorce.  

    But the purpose of marriage in ancient societies was radically different.  Up until the last hundred years or so, people married for these reasons:
    • to provide legitimate children to perpetuate family property. 
    • to maintain influence in the community.
    • to create alliances.
    • to consolidate property .
    • to care for aging relatives.  
    Marriage in pre-modern times was about surviving and thriving in a hostile world of scarcity.
    Husbands and wives for much of history have had low expectations for emotional fulfillment in marriage.  The idea was that mutual respect and affection were achieved as each spouse fulfilled his or her part of the union and built a family together. Individuals in traditional societies believed that a happy marriage could be learned after securing the foundation and means of family life:  property, family connections, religion, children.

    Before modern, big government and bureaucracies, families and households were a form of subsistence. There could be no survival or even existence without the family and the extended clan of relatives. And everyone had a contribution to make according to their sex.  The husband and/or his family provided a house, property, and name, and the wife and her family would bring the dowry, provide children and housekeeping.

    Frederick George Cotman,"One of the Family"

    Finally, and not least importantly, families before modernity were a form of immortality as descendants were expected to bear children to carry on the family line.  Then those children were obligated to bury, remember and honor their parents and ancestors, perpetuate their memories and care for their burial sites.  The family was identity and so these memorials were significant to an individual’s purpose and meaning.  Without knowing who and where they came from, the traditional folk hadn't a clue what life was about.
    Family burial plots in an Austrian church yard
    A body is first buried in a temporary family grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary. 

    Thanks for stopping by.  Next time we'll look at the biblical roots of marriage.

    Be blessed and be a blessing!

    ~Amy Laurie

    Friday, July 19, 2019

    Three Things to Look for in a Potential Husband, Part 1

    A few weeks ago, June 30, 2019, my husband and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. If you ask my husband how we have managed to stay married that long, he will give me all the credit...he's that kind of man.  But I think he's wrong.  I think he has been the kind of husband that has made it easy for me to be a good wife.  I want to share with you three things about my husband that have made our marriage a success.

    Now my list could have been much longer.  But I'm narrowing it down to three things.  Why not list all of his good qualities, you may be thinking?

    I have seen and heard of women (and men) who create lists of things they must have in a spouse. But I'm not sure a list of more than two or three things at the most is really helpful in the long term.  It isn't easy to find someone who satisfies all your needs and also it begins the habit of thinking that your husband should do that...that he should completely make you happy according to all your expectations.

    Realistically, marriage doesn't work that way.  It's best to keep things simple.

    And without further ado, here are the top three things I love about my husband:

    1- My husband is a true Christian.

    Having common goals and values, and a common vision have held us together through the thick and the thin, the better and the worse.  I know that I can trust my husband because he is committed to Christ and must answer to Christ.  No, he isn't perfect, but I know that he at least works toward being a better person every day and living out the moral and ethical teachings of Christ.  This is hugely comforting.  We also believe that marriage is a lifetime commitment and have vowed to stay together "till death do us part.".  This is a foundation of marriage that has taken us through difficult times when one or the other of us may not have really wanted to stay together.

    2- My husband keeps himself physically fit and attractive.

    A big part of marriage is keeping each other happy in the bedroom and for me, at least, physical attractiveness makes that a lot easier.  Now I am not suggesting that a man has to have movie star looks and a body-builder physique to be physically attractive to a woman.  Simply taking care of his body, eating reasonably and staying away from drugs and too much booze, exercising regularly is going to be good enough, so don't be perfectionistic about this.  Being attractive is something that is accessible to every man and woman with a little work.  I'm so glad my husband has made good health a priority since a regular and active sexual life with each other is enhanced by being in good shape. If you are married and this isn't a priority for you, I ask you to just try working out and eating a little better and see if it doesn't make you friskier. :-)

    3- My husband is a good provider and protector.

    He takes responsibility for our marriage and our home.  He is a hard worker and has consistently provided for us financially and made it possible for me to focus on children and homemaking.  There have been times in my life when I have worked, but for the most part, it has been a huge relief not to have the pressure of working an outside job as well as running my home and raising my children.  My husband  is also a good planner who thinks about all the things that could go wrong and tries to avoid them.  He doesn't spend frivolously and keeps a careful account of income and expenses. On the other hand, he doesn't micromanage my finances.  He has saved consistently, so that we don't have to worry about financial problems and we have peace of mind.


    Now there are many other things I could have listed, but I don't think that you should have too many "must haves" because you are bound to be disappointed.  Besides, it is entirely possible to change and adapt to a man in almost every aspect of a marriage.  For example, for many women, it's important for a man to be warm, fuzzy and affectionate.  I will say that earlier in my marriage that was important to me and I used to complain about it a lot (gentle smiles).  But I have learned to be thankful for my husband's many good qualities and to adapt to his way of doing things.  I actually think it has been good for me to find other ways to fill some of my needs.  For example, it's good to have girlfriends and female family members who can provide companionship and a dimension of my life that I think my husband isn't satisfying.   I can see now that this is in some respects healthier, since if, God forbid, I am left alone, and my husband has been my whole world, I am going to have a very hard time.  Over time, I've learned to develop my friendships and my own interests. There are plenty of ways to serve in my community and church and help others and I simply don't have time to  constantly worry about whether my husband is fulfilling all of my wants and needs.

    And so we find happiness.

    Thanks for stopping by...BE BLESSED!

    Amy Laurie, the Mountain Housewife

    Loving your husband: Fulfill his sexual desires.

    That they may teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. - Titus 2: 4 (KJV) The closer a woman ge...

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