For the Love of Cooking

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved food!  I got my first cookbook in the first grade and remember rushing home after school.  I went through all the recipes and picked the one that we had all the ingredients for, Quick Sugar Cake!  I mixed all the ingredients by myself, put it in the oven, and sat in front of the oven for 20 minutes while it baked.  When my cake was finally done, I took it out and waited 5 minutes for it to cool.  It was so hot I could hardly taste it.  Once my taste buds recovered, WOW, it was delicious!  I was shocked I had made it all by myself!  I was hooked and ate the whole thing!

I’ve come a long way since then.  I love to read about food and cooking, and I love to eat (don’t judge)!  One of my favorite things to do is have people over and serve them a meal.  Several years ago, a dear friend told me that I had the gift of hospitality.  I had never heard of this before!  Since then, God has showed me that I can use my love of cooking for His purposes.  This gave me a new way of looking at how I can reach out to other people; it is a way to get to know new friends.  Through this whole process I’ve learned a few important lessons:

  1. Everyone enjoys being invited and included! I love to see the looks on people’s faces when they are invited over.
  2. You do not have to be a chef to entertain in your home. People just enjoy the fact that someone cares enough to invite them over!  You can even invite people over and just order pizza! It’s about the fellowship, not the food!
  3. Your house does not have to be perfect.It does not have to be clean enough to eat off the floor.  It does not have to be a mansion!  There aren’t many mansions in Plainview anyway!  Be happy with what God has blessed you with!

Hospitality is defined as:  The quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.  In the New Testament, the Greek word “hospitality” literally means “love of strangers”.

With summer approaching, venture out, invite people over!  Remember, it isn’t about the food, it’s about the fellowship!  One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
I’m sharing two recipes with you.  The first is a recipe that my sister-in-law gave me.  I love it because it feeds a lot of people, and it taught me how to bake a brisket!  The 2nd recipe is my beloved Quick Sugar Cake!

3 DAY BRISKET
2 tbsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion salt
1 tsp. garlic saltSAUCE:3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 c. ketchup
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 tsp. ground mustard
4 tbsp. Worcestershire
1/2 c. water
2 tsp. celery seed
6 tbsp. butterDay 1: Baste the uncooked brisket well with 2 tbsp. liquid smoke and 1 teaspoon salt. Wrap in heavy foil and refrigerate overnight. Day 2: Cover with teaspoon onion salt and garlic salt. Wrap and bake at 300 degrees for 5 hours. Refrigerate overnight.Day 3: Slice thin, cover with sauce. Wrap and bake at 325 degrees for about an hour. Sauce: cook all ingredients until well blended.

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We would like to thank Trina Lewis for writing this post!

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Becca Wilhite)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Christmastime is full of surprises.  Usually they’re in the form of excited children opening long-awaited gifts, or a visit from a far-away loved one. Almost exactly 10 years ago, my husband James and I got a not-so-great surprise, but it led to one of the most memorable Christmases we’ve had together as a couple.

To make a very long story short, a trip to the local doctor led to a transfer to the Lubbock emergency room.  Things quickly became more serious and resulted in emergency open-heart surgery for my then-28-year-old husband.  All went well with the surgery.  I can remember going to Wal-Mart for some necessity and wanting to tell everyone I saw how good God was, and that my husband was going to be ok! But a hiccup with our insurance company left us stuck in the hospital.  For Christmas.

So what do you do?  We had no choice but to make the most of it!  I had my guitar, and James was really feeling pretty good, considering all he had just been through.  We went to visit an older gentleman on a different floor whom we had befriended.  He was stuck for Christmas as well, so we thought maybe he could use some company.  We ended up spending the evening singing Christmas carols and worship songs that we knew—and surprisingly to us, he knew all the same songs we did!  It was simple.  There were no gifts exchanged.  And yet somehow, the true spirit of Christmas was very much alive and well in that hospital room.

My prayer for all of us is that the peace and love of Emmanuel—God with us—would be evident in our hearts this Christmas, no matter where we spend it.  Merry Christmas!

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Easy Pecan Pie (and yummy!)

1 Pillsbury roll-out crust
1 cup pecans
1 cup light Karo syrup
½ cup sugar
½ stick butter
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together, pour into crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.

For a perfect crust, cover the edges with foil until the last 10 minutes.

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Becca Wilhite is a worship leader at the HCF Plainview campus, and coordinates many of the Guest Experience teams at Harvest. She is the wife of James and mom to Chord, Paisley, and Sam.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Amber Curry)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

November and December are my favorite months of the year. They bring so many things our way…the end of our harvest season and with that, gratefulness for God’s provision. Cooler weather and hot chai tea from the Broadway Brew. Pulling out the Christmas decorations and sitting by a crackling fire. Celebrating the birth of our Savior.

One other thing I LOVE about this season is getting to spend lots of time in my kitchen. My happy place. It brings me so much joy to cook for my precious family. I come from and now belong to a family full of incredible cooks. When I think back on my holiday memories, these women come to mind. And in those memories are the dishes they are known for. Granny Smith’s AMAZING buttermilk chess pie. Grandmommy’s famous chicken goulash and dressing. (Don’t let “goulash” keep you away, that dish is heaven!) California Grammy’s rich and creamy chocolate delight. Granny Curry’s buttery pound cake. My mom’s stacked beef enchiladas with a fried egg on top. My mother-in-law’s “to die for” scalloped potatoes. Oh my, this is making me hungry!

These women and these dishes are part of my most cherished holiday memories, and since I’ve been married, I’ve been searching for the recipe that one day I might be known for. The recipe everyone secretly hopes I bring to all the family gatherings. The recipe that my grandchildren will one day pass down to their children and be a part of Curry holidays long after I’m gone.

And y’all, six years of searching and I’m pretty sure I’ve found it! The BEST homemade rolls you’ll ever eat and they are surprisingly easy to make. They are heavenly and Melt. In. Your. Mouth. I’ve made them for three holiday events now and everyone loves them. My nephew Brett eats at least 10, no joke.

Do your taste buds a favor and make these rolls! Your family will thank you, I promise. Blessings from my table to yours, and I hope that you create many fun and lasting memories this holiday season.

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The BEST Potato Rolls

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Sticks (3/4 Cup) Land O’Lakes Unsalted Butter
3 Cups Scalded Milk* instructions below
1 Cup Potato Flakes
1 Tablespoon Salt
4 Eggs
1 Tablespoon Instant Yeast or 2 Tablespoons Regular Yeast (I use instant)
6 1/2 Cups Flour
*1/3 cup additional butter, softened

DIRECTIONS:
Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat and add the milk. Cook until the edges begin to foam and froth, but do not allow it to boil. There will be a little layer of the milk “skin” on top. Remove from heat and add the sugar, butter, potato flakes and salt. Stir thoroughly and allow to cool to lukewarm.

Add the yeast, stir and then add the eggs, stirring until they are mixed in.
Place the flour in a large bowl. Pour the milk mixture in and stir until the dough has come together, but is still soft. This is not like a bread dough. It is a slightly sticky dough.

Cover the bowl with a towel or saran wrap. Let dough rise for one hour. Push down and divide dough into 2 parts.

Roll out one portion at a time to 1/2″ thick and butter 1/2 of dough with a few pats of butter. Fold the unbuttered dough over the buttered dough and press to seal. Cut into 1″ wide strips. Pick up one strip at a time and tie into knots. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise for 1-2 hours more or until doubled in size.

Bake at 350 until golden brown (14-20 min)

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Amber Curry is the Administrative Assistant to the Executive Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship. She’s married to her favorite farmer, Bryan, and they have adorable twin boys, Elliott and Samuel.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Jill Brown)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Deep, dark, frozen Alaskan winters huddled around the kitchen table. Only the light of Advent candles flickering while we sang Christmas carols before bed. Knowing every verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by heart by the time I was nine or ten. These images flood my mind when I think of holiday memories that are special to me. Though all of my family members were just baby Christians at that time, I know now my mom was doing her best to help us prepare our hearts for the truest meaning of Christmas.

Fast-forward 20 years or so to cozy nights in Plainview as a young mother myself. Two precious, expectant little boy-faces bathed in candlelight, mostly excited to practice lighting the matches by themselves, of course! Also bathed in candlelight: one older, wiser, more hairy face which was probably just a little less expectant to go along with all my annual attempts to create these beautiful nightly Christmas rituals!! I have to laugh at myself because I was a classic at dreaming up all kinds of great family-enrichment activities and then pressuring Greg to lead them all!

I’m pretty sure our whole family’s very favorite years were the ones when we read a nightly Christmas family devotion called Jotham’s Journey. A young Jewish boy at the time Jesus was born gets caught up in suspenseful and meaningful encounters near Bethlehem. Each day’s story incorporates a Scripture and a spiritual truth to discuss. Plus, if I remember right, the author, Arnold Ytreeide, does a great job of leaving you on a cliff-hanger from day to day so your kids (and may I add, your husband) begs for the next night. That did not happen with all of my motherly schemes, trust me. But that one worked out pretty well (and subsequent books were later added to the series!). You could still bring up Jotham to this day with my grown sons Levi and Luke, and they will know exactly what you’re talking about.

One way or another—over years of burning candles and Advent prayers and mugs of hot cocoa with extra marshmallows and twinkly lights and Christmas carols and late bedtimes and reading stories and footie pajamas—we carved the holy meaning of Jesus’ birth and God’s heart for redeeming the world into the hearts and minds of another generation of merrymakers. I’m forever grateful.

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Cranberry Nut Bread
Out of Alaska’s Kitchens, 1961

2 cups wild Alaskan cranberries, picked in empty coffee cans with your family while one of you watches frantically for bears
OR, alternately, Walmart cranberries, cut in half

1 egg, unbeaten
⅓ cup orange juice
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2 cups flour
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
1 ¾ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. grated orange rind
¾ cups nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine egg, orange juice, and water. Stir in melted butter. Sift together all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda). Make a well in center and add liquid mixture all at once. Stir only enough to moisten all. Add cranberries, orange rind, and nuts. Pour into large greased bread pan and bake for 70 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

My mom likes to use 3 smaller loaf pans or a 13×9 baking dish, which turns out more like a coffee cake. Adjust baking time shorter.

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Jill Brown has a high value for imparting the values of the Kingdom to the next generation. She is mom to Levi and Luke, and the wife of Greg, one of the elders of Harvest Christian Fellowship. 

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Erin Smart)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Growing up, I promised myself that I would always be excited about Christmas and never be grumpy about it, like some adults I knew (Inner vows never work out!). Now, I find myself being Scrooge-ish, wishing Christmas only came every other year so I’d have time to miss it. While I’ll probably never miss the gift and budget dilemmas, I do treasure the little things we do as a family to make the season meaningful—our family traditions.

Christmas traditions are the stuff of which life-long memories are made. And they are what help center me on what matters most during the hub-bub: Jesus and my family.

Every year, I surprise the kids with a new ornament just for them on the day we decorate the tree together. If possible, I try to coordinate the ornament with something that was going on in their lives that year, such as Garrett shooting his first deer, or the girls starting ballet. Sometimes it can feel like a chore to figure out what the right ornament should be, but it makes the kids feel special and they still get excited each year. Heaven only knows what will happen to these ornaments. One year I told the kids they could have their ornaments when they were adults, and Sonny said, “No way. We’re keeping them” (He’s the sentimental one, if you can’t tell).

Another yearly tradition is to take one night to drive around and look at lights and, of course, to drink hot chocolate.

But my favorite, most meaningful tradition starts about two weeks before Christmas. (We have to start this early because so many things can interrupt the evenings). Every year I pick out a new book or movie to add to our collection of Christmas stories. And every possible night we set aside time to read or watch one or two of them with cookies and milk or hot chocolate. In my perfect world, the cookies would all be homemade, but that’s just not realistic these days. The kids are happy with store-bought, as long as they each get to help make our annual batch of sugar cookies. I wouldn’t trade anything for these times together.

My oldest is 12 and growing out of the precious picture books we’ve treasured over the years. It happened so fast! This year we will probably do less of them and read Man of the Family by Ralph Moody, just to enjoy story time together.

I have included pictures of some of our favorite stories for the younger years, in case you’d like to add one to your traditions, as well as our sugar cookie recipe.

Wishing you a joyful and meaningful Christmas,

Erin Smart

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Erin Smart is wife to Sonny, the campus pastor for HCF Lubbock. Erin has a heart for each person in our church to know they are noticed and valued, and for them to be equipped to live a victorious life in Christ.

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Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Allison House)

The other morning, I was driving through one of the neighborhoods in Canyon. It was a perfect fall morning. The colors on the trees just about took my breath away. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen colors like that before. Has anyone else noticed how rich the colors are on the leaves this year?

It made me think about my childhood and my family’s Thanksgiving meal. The formal dining room table would be decorated, the fine china, crystal, and silver would be perfectly placed, and the smells of the best food I’ve ever had would fill my grandparent’s house. My mom’s mother, “Mama,” would be wearing her apron, her pearls, red lipstick, and heels. This was her day. She was the best cook. Her rolls were famous at every family meal. They were the most perfect things I’ve ever put in my mouth. We all hoped there would be some left over so that we could eat them for breakfast the next morning.

As I thought about how gorgeous the leaves on the trees were, it occurred to me that they are most beautiful when (in actuality) they are dying. However they MUST go through this dying process so that there will be new life in the spring. I thought about the Apostle Paul saying, “To live is Christ, but to die is gain.” I thought about Jesus explaining to His disciples that if we do not die to ourselves (our sinful nature), then we will not experience the abundant and glorious new life that He intends for each of us. I thought about the beauty of the Cross, and what it represents: freedom, forgiveness, righteousness, grace, mercy, eternal life.

Death is not something we would normally define as “beautiful.” Our community has experienced four untimely deaths in the past four months. From my human heart’s perspective, there is nothing beautiful about that. However, I have watched as the Body of Christ has come together, prayed for, taken care of, and carried these families who are hurting. God has revealed His goodness in various ways, and that is beautiful.

All of us struggle with dying to our own sinful nature on a daily basis. But when we do, God is faithful to reproduce a harvest of good fruit so that His kingdom will be glorified. Sometimes the only way we can see the beauty in death is to see it from a Kingdom perspective.

I was by Mama’s side when she breathed her last breath here on earth. It might be one of the most spiritual moments I’ve ever experienced. It was the first time I witnessed someone go from glory to glory, from this earthly life to eternal life. She has a new body and is with her Father. That is beautiful.

This holiday season, I would encourage you to live fully in this amazing time we have here on earth. Love your family, thank God for all He has done, and die to the things that quench the Spirit in your life. Look ahead to the abundant life that is awaiting you!

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Mama’s Rolls

Ingredients:

1 ½ sticks of butter, plus another stick to brush over rolls
¾ c. sugar
2 dry yeast packets (Fleischmann’s), dissolved in 1 C. lukewarm water
3 eggs-beaten
1 c. boiling water
1 tsp. salt
5 c. flour

Dissolve yeast and set aside. Beat eggs and set aside.

Using a large glass mixing bowl, almost melt butter in the microwave, then add sugar and mix. Pour 1 c. of boiling water over butter and sugar. Set this aside until cooled, then add eggs, yeast mixture, and salt. Add flour last, 1 c. at a time. Cover with wax paper that has Crisco on it, and seal around the edges of the bowl. Refrigerate for 24 hours so it can rise.

When ready to roll out, take part of the dough, roll out on a floured surface and use a round biscuit cutter to cut into circles. Fold over each roll and put in a glass pyrex sprayed with cooking spray. (They should all be touching.) Brush all with melted butter. Let them rise in a warm place for 2-3 hours. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

This makes enough for up to three 9X13 pyrex dishes, depending on the size you cut them. You can use only part of the dough and keep the rest refrigerated for up to a week before using the rest. Enjoy!

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Allison House is a passionate worship leader at the HCF Amarillo campus, wife to Curtis, and mom to four precious (and growing) kiddos.

Holiday Memories + A Recipe (Kendra Huckabee)

During this season, we are featuring holiday memories from some of our staff women and pastor’s wives, along with their favorite recipes. Enjoy!

I love the holiday season! When September rolls around I am filled with great anticipation for fall weather, college football, and lots of food and family time. My family has never necessarily been traditional; I don’t think we’ve ever celebrated a holiday the same way twice, for that matter.

But I believe my love for this time of year stems from the heart of gratitude instilled in me by my parents from a young age. My parents always looked for ways to teach us the heart behind being thankful at Thanksgiving and remembering Jesus at Christmas time. So much so that we never believed in Santa!

That being said, one of my favorite holiday memories involved the entire family foregoing Christmas presents and simply writing each family member a letter. It gave us all a chance to express our love and gratitude for each person in such a special way. We were able to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open to giving and receiving love in a way material possessions can’t convey. Even as a teenager, I knew that while presents were great, taking the time to value my parents and brothers through my thoughts and words was important.

To this day, I still have those letters and treasure being able to look back on those words of love and encouragement. I pray that now, as a parent myself, I can teach my own children the value of gratitude, and provide opportunities during these holiday seasons for them to learn to express that thankfulness to those around them.

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Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings

So easy and so delicious! A family favorite that even my two littles will eat!!

Ingredients:
1lb boneless/skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cans (10.5 oz) cream of chicken soup
1-2 cans chicken broth (depending on the consistency you like)
1 medium diced onion
1 large sliced carrot
3/4 bag frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 can large flaky biscuits (or more if you prefer!)

Directions:
Place thawed chicken in crockpot and top with butter, cream of chicken soup, broth, onion, carrot and salt/pepper.
Cook on high for 4hrs or low for 6-8.
Remove chicken, shred and return to crockpot.
Cut each biscuit into 9 small pieces, place in crockpot along with frozen peas.
Stir and cook on high for about 30 more minutes.
Enjoy!!

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Kendra Huckabee attends the Lubbock campus and serves in the college and youth ministry.