Pickled Okra or Okra Pickles!

When you are blessed with friends who have both gardens and sharing hearts, this time of year you get okra, lots of okra. (Or as my Granny said, o-kree.) My friend Rhoda and I attend the same church, her family has been there way longer than we have and we’ve been at Second Baptist going on 29 years. She called me last week and said “you want some okra? I will bring it to you!” Now you know that’s a friend indeed! Because if you’ve never cut okra from a garden…well, it will make your hands and arms so itchy. But you forget all that when you are blessed to eat okra any way you can prepare it – fried, boiled, sautéed, or pickled! I’m sharing from my kitchen again with this post on how to make pickled okra.

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Gran Jan’s Pickled Okra
(double or triple as needed, this recipe makes 4 pint jars)
1 ½ pounds fresh small tender okra pods
2 teaspoons dried dill
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 teaspoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (or to taste, or may omit)
(or use fresh cayenne or jalapeño peppers – 1 per jar)
3 tablespoons canning/pickling salt
2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
4 one-pint canning jars and lids, sterilized

1. Prepare jars by washing, sterilizing and simmering bands/lids/jars.
2. Prepare okra by rinsing well under cold running water. Trim just stem ends of okra, leaving the cap intact. Soak okra in cool water for about an hour then drain and pat dry.

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3. Place the spices (dill, celery seed, garlic, sugar, pepper flakes) in a bowl and mix well. Divide evenly among the jars.3
3. Put okra in the sterilized canning jars, placing some of the pods up and some down, packing tightly.4
4. Bring water, vinegar, and salt to a good rolling boil.
5. Ladle the hot vinegar into the jars of okra and spices, filling to within ¼” of the top.
6. Make sure there are no air bubbles in jars, wipe rims clean, and cover jars with lids and screw bands firmly in place. Turn jar gently back and forth in your hand a time or two to mix the spices.
7. Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water and cool on a dish towel on your kitchen counter. Jars should seal as they cool. I love to hear the pops!

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Allow pickles to mature at least 2 weeks before consuming, if you can’t wait…go ahead and eat some!

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Gran Jan’s Tomato Pie

Yes, TOMATO PIE! This savory pie recipe is one my husband requests often. He loves it! In fact I made two just yesterday afternoon. With all the wonderful fresh tomatoes available this time of year, it is a summer staple for us. Add a nice green salad, or even a vegetable side and you have a great meal. Tom Pie

INGREDIENTS
1 9” pie shell, I buy the Pillsbury ones that come 2 to a package in the refrigerated section of the grocery store , and I use my own pie plates.
• 1 sweet onion (Vidalia if available), chopped & cooked in microwave for 2-3 minutes with a splash of olive or canola oil
• 3-4 medium size ripe tomatoes, diced and drained to remove juice (I let them sit in a colander for a few minutes)
• 2 cups grated cheese (sharp cheddar & mozzarella mix, could use pepper jack)
• 2 strips of bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled
• ¾ cup mayonnaise
• 3 to 4 dashes hot sauce (optional, but actually I use about 7 good dashes)
• salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place room temperature pie shell in pie plate, and then place in oven to allow to lightly brown for 7-10 minutes.

2. Remove pie shell from oven and set aside. 
3. Place the microwaved chopped onions first in the bottom of pie shell.
4. Next spread tomatoes over the onions, salt/pepper to taste, then top the tomato layer with crumbled bacon
5. Mix cheese, mayo, & hot sauce together
6. Spread cheese/mayo mixture over tomatoes and bacon
7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until browned, and be sure to let pie cool for 10-15 minutes before serving/slicing

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Gran Jan Camp – 2016

The inaugural Gran Jan Camp was a long-awaited event for me. Before I was even a grandmother I heard Mrs. Esther Burroughs speak at a women’s retreat. She is a great mentor to many women.  She shared about her “Nana Camp,” and I decided right then I would do that one day. Well that day came last month, the week of June 20-24, 2016. I talked with a couple of other grandmas and decided the requirements for Gran Jan Camp would be completion of first grade. So this Inaugural Gran Jan Camp 2016 was one-on-one with my oldest grandson Zeke, who just finished first grade.  (The 2017 Camp will include Madie and Jackson as they are both about to enter first grade, then it will be a couple of years before Emery and Abe will join their camper cousins.)

Having this uninterrupted time with Zeke for a solid week was very special to me and to my husband Gary (Pop).  We are thankful for his parents who shared him with us for a week and for the opportunity to invest in his life without the distractions of a quick visit or a hurried schedule.  I’m going to share some pictures from our time together.

We met my son Jeremy and his family after church on Sunday afternoon June 19 (Father’s Day) in Atlanta at a family favorite restaurant, THE VARSITY, to get Zeke and bring him home with us for Camp. When I sat down next to Zeke at the table, he said, “FINALLY!” Almost as if he knew how long I had been anticipating this event myself…even before I was a grandma. We stopped for delicious peach ice cream at Lane Southern Orchards on the way home from Atlanta. We were off to a sweet and delicious beginning!Lane

CampGranJan

We enjoyed early morning coffee on the porch, a tradition Zeke and I began when he was a toddler (his coffee was mostly milk with a splash of coffee…still is).  We would have our journal and prayer time after breakfast, and then we just played and enjoyed the day.  My friend Mary Perdue told me to keep in mind that time together was the priority, not the theme or the plans.  She was exactly right.  Zeke told me right away he didn’t want it to be like school, he just wanted us to play and have fun!  So that’s what we did, and I have no regrets.

This is Zeke sitting in my chair in my quiet time place. The first day of camp was actually the Summer Solstice that included a full moon, an event that won’t be repeated in my lifetime. The longest day of the year, how much better could it get? The day with the most daylight and I got to share it with Zeke! We read from Genesis every morning about God’s creation and of course on Day 1, God said “let there be light.” The significance of all of that was not lost on me or Zeke. So we talked about His Light and the longest day of daylight. I will be honest – this was Gran Jan’s favorite time because we prayed and shared together and I was able to speak into his heart and life. We memorized Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever.”  I kept his journal and next year he will add to it. I will give the grandkids their journals when they graduate from Gran Jan Camp, which I hope is when they are about 30… 🙂GJCampOne afternoon we drove to an animal farm out in the country and bought a new miniature donkey for the Morton Farm, actually to keep our little girl donkey, Maybelle company.  Zeke named him Moses Morton and they took to each other so quickly. Moses seemed to recognize that Zeke was a little person too. Moses

We  enjoyed our time at this farm out in Eastman, Georgia. The farmer had every type of bird, duck, goose, chicken…and even peacocks! Have you ever heard a peacock? They are extremely LOUD and beautiful!Camp2

On Wednesday afternoon Zeke and Pop and I went to see the movie “Finding Dory.”  It was a great way to escape the heat and enjoy an outing.Camp1

After the movie we went shopping and Zeke told me he wanted some new pajamas with sharks on them. I was so hoping we could find some because we had also had some learning time at Camp about sharks, orcas, whales and big sea creatures…at the request of Zeke. I will admit I actually learned way more than he did because he already knew everything we studied. He is one smart boy! Guess what? Kohl’s had 2 sets of pajamas in Zeke’s size and they BOTH had sharks on them.  God is in the details, oh yes He is! CAMPfun

After shopping for pjs, we went to church and Zeke went to choir rehearsal with me. I enjoyed that so much. Then of course he wanted to play around in the inside playroom – it was way too hot to be outside and he was way too big since our last visit there, as shown in the above picture…he is growing up so fast.

Every evening we enjoyed rides around the farm in our trusty golf cart. I let Zeke drive and he did an excellent job. This was taken at dusk when we were way way out in the big 25-acre hayfield. I pray these memories will hold in both mine and Zeke’s heart. It was really a special week.Farm

We also enjoyed some time by the pond in the early evenings. Zeke and Pop did some fishing and we made s’mores by the firepit too. No big agendas, just quality uninterrupted time…two-way conversations with lots of listening on both sides, truly priceless. Time to actually hear the things on this little fella’s heart. He is mighty special!Camp22

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On our last day of Gran Jan Camp, Zeke wrote a letter to his “18-year-old-self” and we buried a time capsule. Pop picked out a great spot with room for the next 4 time capsules and a place we could find and remember. 🙂 Zeke put some items in the capsule and we decided we would dig it back up when he turned 18.  I read the letter Zeke wrote and one of the things he included was memorizing Isaiah 40:8.  He wrote, “I hope you still remember this…” I do too little buddy, I do too!Camp3

Pop-GJ-Z

We had a wonderful week and I’m already looking forward to the next year, and the next and the next…Lord willing as my Granny Maloy always said about anything she was planning for the future.

If you’re a grandmother, I hope you’ll consider doing something similar with your grandchildren. Make it your own, do whatever works for your family. But just do it! You will not regret the investment of time. And when it’s over you can take 2 Advil and enjoy a long nap…

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My Story, My Song – 31 Today!

31  birthday cake

Today is the 31st time I am celebrating July 7th, as I have every year since 1985! It’s my re-birthday! The day I was born again, redeemed by Jesus Christ. The day HE called my name!

So very thankful that I have the blessed assurance that it is well with my soul. 

Here is last year’s post with the song that blesses me EVERY SINGLE TIME I hear it – Chris Tomlin’s “Jesus Loves Me.”

He Called My Name 30 Years Ago Today!

My heart was a stone when He came for me…

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence…

Couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms – JESUS, He Loves Me!

Never gotten over that day, never been the same!

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TASTING GRACE PRE-ORDER!

Today is a BIG day – a very BIG day – for several reasons! First, it is the inaugural day of GRAN JAN CAMP! That will be a post for later when my heart has calmed enough that I can even write. “Grandmother Camp” is something I learned about from Esther Burroughs years ago before I even became a grandmother. (She calls hers Nana Camp.)  Zeke is my only camper this year. The prerequisite to camp is finishing first grade. He just did! Next year I will have 3 campers – Zeke, Madie, and Jackson! And so it goes…until Emery & Abe are added. Gran Jan’s JOY runs deep. I can’t wait to post…Tasting-Grace-Pre-buy-800x671

Next, today is the day (Summer Solstice) that pre-sale begins for the book of which I am co-author with Leah Adams. TASTING GRACE is a woman’s mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry. It first began in the hearts of Jan Hamil and I. It has absolutely brought us so much JOY – the simplicity of Tasting Grace is so refreshing. Sharing the Word of God, teaching a cooking skill, sharing a recipe, and sweet fellowship together. Mentoring that is practical and precious in a day of drive-through, hurry up, social media hype!

And have I shared with you that BETH MOORE wrote the foreword for the book? What grace for Leah and me to have that blessing! Only God!

Tasting Grace is a book that offers women  a complete how-to guide to hosting their own event. The book includes four weeks of Bible study with a focus on biblical mentoring. There are five days of Bible study in each week of the study that will take about 10-15 minutes each day to complete. Also in the book are recipes, devotionals, and tips from Leah and me on how to host a Tasting Grace kitchen event in the reader’s home or church.

Tasting Grace will not be in bookstores until August 1st, but our wonderful publisher, Warner Press, is opening up for pre-launch orders. Beginning TODAY, and running through July 18th, you can pre-buy Tasting Grace.

If you pre-order the book, you will get some extras: a digital version of the book in addition to your print copy. TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!!!  You will also get access to a private Facebook page for the book. Also, in addition to the wonderful recipes contained in the book, pre-buy friends will receive a few extra special recipes that are mine and Leah’s favorites!

Please consider pre-ordering a book today! 🙂

Love & prayers and much thanks,

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What Is Truth?

Whatsover

The woman featured in this short clip below is very special to me. Her name is Beverly Skinner. [She leads in women’s ministry at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.] God used Beverly in my life at a conference I attended last year for women’s ministry leaders called Selah: A Retreat for Women who Lead Women.  I purposefully went alone to the conference. I really wanted (needed) to have time to think and just be. The drive to north Georgia was great, providing lots of “windshield time,” lots of time to be alone, to sing, to pray, and to ponder. I haven’t ever met a stranger and was blessed to make many connections among the women’s ministry leaders who also attended. A very precious, special group for sure. The most important connection for me was with the Holy Spirit. He assured me and confirmed in my heart that I was to continue leading in women’s ministries at my home church.  I went to the retreat with eyes and heart wide open, seeking a word from The Word.

I ran across this clip on Facebook this week where Beverly was teaching at a women’s event in south Georgia. The event, Flourish, is the women’s ministry from CrossPointe Church in Valdosta where Lanelle Rogers is the Director. She also attended the SELAH retreat! It really resonated with me, and I hope it will with you too.

Truth Has a NAME! It is Jesus! The One and Only.

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Appearance on Life Today with Beth Moore

LifeTodayBethI’ve had some wonderful opportunities in my lifetime – blessings straight from the Hand of God. This privilege I am sharing today actually happened back in October 2015. I was a guest on the Life Today show with my amazing friend Beth Moore. We taped on October 9 & 10, 2016 and then the episode aired December 21, 2015 and has also repeated a couple of times since then. I wanted to share this blessed opportunity on my blog to preserve the memory for my grandchildren. I know my grandmothers’ stories of faith and I want my grandchildren to know mine!

It came back to my heart again recently through a connection via “the Internets.” 🙂 A friend at church, Debbie Shepherd – told me she had seen a post on Instagram where a woman was talking about “seeing this lady on TV talking about having an Audience of One.” Debbie knew about the Life Today program and she shared the Instagram post with me. I checked it out and lo and behold it really was from the Life Today ministry program where I had shared my story. So the sweet connection in cyber space with Becky Strahle was another blessing and an answer to my prayers that the Lord would use this amazing opportunity He had given to me.  Becky makes these awesome cuff bracelets and graciously sent this one to me. You can find her at Farm Girl Paints

Audience of One

It all began when I received an email from Beth Moore’s assistant, Mrs. Kimberly McMahon. She said that the Life Today show on which Beth Moore regularly appeared as a guest was looking for someone to come on the show alongside Beth to help introduce a revised study entitled Fully Alive. She knew I could suggest some women that had been touched, blessed and encouraged by the Bible study ministry from Beth and Living Proof Ministries. As I pondered for a while some ladies came to my heart, so I asked for their permission to submit their names and contact information to the folks at Life Today.

Fast forward a couple of days, and I myself received a phone call from a producer at Life Today, Mr. Steve Baldwin. He interviewed me and several other women and then later that day called and actually offered ME the opportunity to fly to Dallas to appear on the program with Beth! I was a bit shocked and also very excited, all at the same time. Arrangements were made quickly and before I knew it, I was headed to the Atlanta Airport for a whirlwind trip. I pulled out of my driveway on Friday morning October 9th in the wee hours of dawn and returned home the next evening on Saturday about 9:30 PM, about 38 hours of fast-paced delight! Every detail came together with no effort. I was even off work on that Friday so there was nothing but open doors for the wonderful privilege to share my story with Beth on Life Today – of how I discovered the JOY of Living Free. Freedom through salvation in Jesus Christ!

I’ve shared my testimony of coming to know Christ here on my blog before.  Last summer, July 7, 2015 actually marked the 30th anniversary of the day He Called My Name.  So as Beth so clearly stated in our time on the Life Today program, my story wasn’t as messy as hers, but we both desperately needed His Saving Grace.  The link below, “More Than a Good Girl,” is the entire program from that wonderful day:

MORE THAN A GOOD GIRL

Here is also a promotional video that capsules the program:

I am so thankful thankful thankful for God opening these doors and I pray that He will continue to use our stories of salvation in Christ, our testimonies of saving grace – to point people to Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, the Life! Know your story, be willing to share and as the Word of God says in I Peter 3:15 says – be ready.

1 Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts,
and always be ready to give a defense
to everyone who asks you
a reason for the hope that is in you,
with meekness and fear;

John 14:6
Jesus told him,
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one can come to the Father
except through me.

Jan-Beth

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