Cast-Iron Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Cast-Iron Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

I have made this delicious Cast-Iron Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie three times the past month or so for my family. I made one this afternoon. I discovered it was a favorite dessert of my daughter-in-law, Carrie. I will get the opportunity to send some home to her by my son, who just happens to be preaching at a men’s conference close by tonight. God is good! I love every opportunity to see my out-of-town family and to cook for them.

Here’s my recipe below – tweaked and tested!

  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (I used salted butter)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 2 teaspoons of hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of semisweet or milk chocolate chips

I began by setting my oven to 375 degrees. Then I went ahead and slid my skillet into the oven to warm while I made the cookie. I used a 12 1/2″ well-seasoned, beautiful, wonderful, old skillet I’ve had for many years that was gifted to me over 35 years ago and there’s no telling how old it was then! A treasure to me for sure.

I used my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and beat both sugars and the butter until nice and smooth. Then I added the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Next I poured in the vanilla and gave it a quick mix. Then I added the baking soda dissolved in hot water, then the salt, and the flour. (I added the flour in 3 “additions,” not all at once.) I mixed just until the batter was smooth – not too long! Be aware that this cookie dough is stiff. Lastly, I stirred in the 2 cups of chocolate chips by hand.

I set the bowl of cookie dough to the side and carefully removed my hot skillet out of the oven. I used a couple of paper towels to very carefully and lightly grease the hot skillet with some butter-flavored Crisco. Then I spooned the cookie dough evenly into the skillet and smoothed it out with a spatula. It responded to the hot skillet by getting softer, and that helped!

I baked the cookie until the edges were lightly browned, exactly 28 minutes.

I removed the skillet from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes. I then cut it into 8 pie-shaped wedges and then sliced those in half for a total of 16 wedges. I used my long offset spatula (that I use when icing cakes) to lift the wedges out of the skillet. It worked great to get under the long skinny wedges. This skillet cookie would be great with vanilla ice cream on top – in fact, I believe that is Carrie’s favorite way to enjoy this dessert.

I just told my husband Gary I may order some small 6 1/2″ cast-iron skillets to make “personal skillet cookies.” He proceeded to ask me how we were going to remodel the kitchen with more cabinets because…well, he knows how much I love all things kitchen, and cast-iron.

I must share this…the secret ingredient! This ingredient is very, very special and no one can replicate this ingredient. My precious little sous chef, 7 year old granddaughter, Emery. (We made a skillet cookie a couple of weeks ago.) She is a wonderful helper in the kitchen, in the garden, in the sewing room, and well, anywhere! Gran Jan’s JOY for sure.

Best Secret Ingredient Ever!

God bless you all, Gran Jan

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Sixty-two Trips Around the Sun!

Today is my 62nd birthday and I am so grateful for this beautiful life God has given me. Lots of folks don’t make it to this sweet age. My husband Gary conducted a funeral this week of a woman only 46 years old. My own sister Jean died at age 25. Gary and I support St. Jude’s Hospital for Children and the pictures and cards of the sick children there make us weep. Life is a precious gift from Almighty God.

The book of James in the New Testament says in verse 14 of chapter 4, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” Some translations use the word for vapor as morning fog, mist, or puff of smoke. The word references the vapor your breath makes on a cold morning. It’s not visible very long. Life really is a vapor. I can’t believe I’m already 62! One of my favorite verses in the book of Psalms is in chapter 139, verse 16: “And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” God knew all the days of my life before there was even a me! That makes me feel so very loved and so very special.

One of the things I want to do this next year is be more active here on my blog. Slow down a little bit and write more here. Us retired folks are busy…who knew? Gran Jan’s JOYS remain rooted deeply in faith and family. I love the Lord more today than I did yesterday. My grandchildren are growing up way too fast for my heart. They are now 11, 9, 9, 7 and 6 years old. Let me tell you they are fun and keep my heart young. My sons and daughters-in-love bring me peace of heart as I see them parenting intentionally and loving each other well. My husband of 42 years is still the great joy of my heart. He is way too good to me. He is the epitome of a “long walk of obedience in the same direction.” Truly. My parents are 81 and 85 and live next door to me. I cherish that. My two sisters are my best friends and we communicate daily – I treasure them.

So as I’ve pondered my 62nd trip around the sun on this birthday…this I know, this I confirm. God is faithful and my life is evidence of His love, mercy, and amazing grace. Truthfully, it’s all grace. Grace upon grace upon grace.

I am one blessed woman…and I’m so grateful for this life.

Jan

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Retirement Year 1 – Done!

June 1, 2019 – I am most grateful to say that today marks one full year of retirement for me. I honestly had no idea what retirement would “be” for me. I totally expected to walk out of my office last year on May 31, 2018, skip to my car, and never look back. Well…

Houston County Board of Education. I love this old building and spent 20 years working here!

That didn’t happen. I reflected often those first few months and discovered quickly that the “work me” had way more of a hold on me than even I realized! I loved my job responsibilities, and I cared about the people I worked with for so many years. It took me a few months to unwind, sort out my new season, and to finally give myself some grace. I took on too much in the early months because I mistakenly believed retired people had time to do everything! They don’t. They do have more time than working folks for sure…but they have the blessing of choosing the things that will occupy their time. I had to learn that and it just takes time to sort out!

So here I am today, reflecting on my first year of retirement. I’ve always been a “dates person.” Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s not! In this instance, it has been very good for my soul to look back and see all the ways God has blessed me this first year of retirement! He is so faithful.

The pictures below are highlights from each month, June 2018-May 2019. (I decided not to add all the pictures of my garden, the books I read, and the quilts I made…although those are a “few of my favorite things.“) These last few months I have looked at retirement through a different filter. After time in prayer, and conversations with my husband and friends, I have been reminded again of the reasons I retired in the first place (besides just being old enough), and that is for time with my family and time for me. And it’s okay to slow down. I’m learning that every day that passes.

My friend of 30 years, Lanie Nash and I went to Hamilton, MO the first week I was retired, June 2018. We attended the “Missouri Star Quilt Company Academy.” It was a wonderful trip in every way.
My sisters and I took our mother on a weekend cruise to celebrate her 80th birthday! It was so much fun. This was June 22-25, 2018, so I enjoyed two trips in June!
Gran Jan Camp! July 1-3, 2018 with Zeke, Madie and Jackson. Our theme was “following God’s path for our lives.” I cherish spending time with my grandchildren like this, pouring into their lives and being intentional about family legacy.
The Mortons, July 2018, Cape San Blas, Family Vacation
I spoke at “Go Georgia,” a training event sponsored by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. I shared about Tasting Grace, the mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry I love so much! This was August 17, 2018 at Mable White Church in Macon, GA. It was so much fun! My dear friend Joan Falldine accompanied me and helped me so much!
Our youngest grandson, Abe came to stay in early August 2018 for almost 2 weeks, because he didn’t have to start school until after Labor Day!
We LOVED having him with us!
My friend Patsy Randall and I went to Huntsville, Alabama, September 14-15, 2018, for the Beth Moore Simulcast.
It was a great trip with lots of good conversation.
This stop for “all things cast iron” was so much fun for me!
September 16, 2018, was a very big day in the life and ministry of our son Jeremy and his wife Carrie. Jeremy preached at First Baptist Woodstock. This picture was made after church with Dr. Johnny Hunt and his dear wife, Janet. Jeremy is now Co-Pastoring there with Dr. Hunt as Pastor Johnny transitions to the North American Mission Board full time in January 2020. He is a wonderful man and has been a great mentor to our son.
This picture was made from one of my favorite places – on the big back porch at the wonderful Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.
We took a group of Senior Adults there in September 2018.
September was a BUSY month for this retiree and I loved every single event!
Second Baptist Women’s Ministry hosted a Liz Curtis Higgs event on October 25, 2018. This was my last official event as Women’s Ministry Director. I served at Second Baptist for over 20 years. A new team has formed and they are fabulous!
I am now helping my husband in our church’s senior adult ministry.
We are loving this new season in our ministry!
October 29, 2018 we added a new family member. This was taken right after we got home with her. “Her” is Queen Esther Rose, “Rosie.”
We love this sweet German Shepherd puppy.
Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018.
My parents celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary on November 23.
I am so thankful for them and so blessed to be retired
and enjoy having them in my life!
Christmas 2018! Being retired brought more joy to Christmas for me.
I didn’t feel rushed and had time to enjoy all the music, lights,
and celebrations in a deeper way. I love my family!
I welcomed January 2019 by keeping these 3 grandchildren while my son Jeremy and his wife began their move from Cartersville to Cherokee County! It rained non-stop and one day after a spell
of cabin fever, we got outside and enjoyed the puddles!
We celebrated my husband’s birthday in beautiful North Georgia
in February 2019 at Big Bear Lodge! FAMILY TIME IS THE BEST!
It was a joy and privilege for me to be part of the Selah Retreat in Clayton, GA for women’s ministry leaders across the state of Georgia. I enjoyed teaching several sessions and spending time with these amazing women’s ministry leaders.
This was the first weekend of March 2019!
My sisters and mom and I got together in March 2019 for shopping and lunch to celebrate our mother’s 81st birthday. We laugh with and at each other – always!
The last week of March, 2019 included a trip with my friend Lanie to Washington DC for a 4 day visit with our dear friend, Mrs. Mary Perdue. This was my first trip to DC and it was wonderful!
It was hard to just choose one picture, but I loved these cherry blossoms blooming. My favorite thing was the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Arlington National Cemetery.
Second Family Senior Adults went to Kentucky in April 2019 to visit the Ark replica (and also the Creation Museum). We had a wonderful trip.
These folks are amazing and it is a joy to serve the Lord with them!
We celebrated my Dad’s 85th birthday on April 29 in Macon with a meal of his choosing at Texas Roadhouse. Retirement has brought more time with my parents.
At my age, I don’t take that for granted and thank the Lord for His grace.
Front porch coffee time with Zeke & Madie (May 2019).
Abe and his siblings came for 10 days (May 2019) while their parents were in Israel. He is sitting on a rock that my 85 year old dad
sat on when he was also 5 years old.
We brought that rock from Henry County
here to the Morton Farm 12 years ago.
May 2019 – these two sleepy-eyed grandchildren came to the Morton Farm to stay with Pop & Gran Jan while their mom finished up her post-planning day at work.
They are full of energy and fun! I love them so much!

What a great first year for me! As I reflected back over all my pictures (both the ones here and the ones on my iPhone), I see the joys of family, faith, and fun in every picture. Thank you Lord for giving me this year. May my life continue to be a blessing to others in all I do. I am so grateful.

Gran Jan

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Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bread

Tomorrow is September 1st and as my friend Kim Safina in California says, we begin the wonderful, amazing “ber” months: SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, and DecemBER! They include wonderful fall (my favorite season), my sweet granddaughter Emery’s birthday, my youngest son Jonathan’s birthday, my birthday, and the beautiful Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, also my favorites. 

I made cream cheese pumpkin bread today (my pictures below) and wanted to share this delicious recipe. I have tried many recipes for pumpkin bread, but my search is now over! This one is a keeper. It had me at CREAM CHEESE! It makes 2 loaves. My husband and I had a piece with coffee this morning. I took 2 pieces next door to my parents and I took the second loaf to my friend Lanie this afternoon. 

I found this recipe while looking at one of my favorite Instagram accounts “Eunamae’s,” named after the grandmother of the IG account owner. Her name is really Amy Hannon, she is a pastor’s wife from Arkansas and the founder of Love, Welcome, Serve. She has a fabulous cookbook by the same name. I love her heart for faith-filled hospitality. It reminds me of the heart of my church’s Tasting Grace Mentoring-in-the-Kitchen ministry! Go follow her on Instagram. I really believe she and I would be fast friends. 

CREAM CHEESE PUMPKIN BREAD

For the pumpkin bread:
3 cups all purpose flour

1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup oil
1 15oz can cooked pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 cup water

For the cream cheese swirl
8 oz cream cheese, softened well at room temperature

¼ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk

  1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients together, breaking up any clumps of brown sugar. Stir it all together well. 
  2. Add the wet ingredients and mix well.
  3. Divide into two prepared loaf pans.
    (Amy suggests using a glass loaf pan, so I did and loved the results.)
  4. Mix together the cream cheese swirl ingredients until smooth.
  5. Equally spoon dollops of cream cheese mixture over the pumpkin batter. Then use a long toothpick or skewer to drag and swirl the cream cheese around the top of the batter. Just swirl it around, do not stir it into the batter.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool 10 minutes in the pans then invert and cool completely.  Here is my “cream cheese swirling” picture prior to baking.

Fall – I can’t wait for you to get here in 3 weeks but until then, I will be making this wonderful bread to share and serve!

Happy Almost Fall Y’all!

Gran Jan

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TEN YEAR BLOGIVERSARY GIVEAWAY!

Happy Ten-Year Blogging Anniversary to me! TEN YEARS! A decade of blogging! I’ve never kept up with stats for my blog, and I don’t even know how many people actually read these posts. But this I do know…it has been my great joy to share my JOY here the last 10 years. Ten years ago when I began this blog, my purpose was to journal my journey in becoming a grandmother. I absolutely love going back and reading and counting God’s blessings to our family.

My first post was July 24, 2008 entitled The Waiting Room and can be found below. I was waiting for my first grandchild to be born. He is now waiting on his 10th birthday next month. Gran Jan’s JOY for sure! I am now Gran Jan to FIVE amazing grandchildren!

Waiting Room

I am going to give away a $25.00 gift card to celebrate! Please leave a comment by Wednesday August 1st telling me something amazing that has happened in your own life the last 10 years. I will randomly draw a winner and we will both celebrate!

Happy 10 Year Blogiversary to me!

Gran Jan

Update – Cheryl won the blogiversary giveaway! Thank you all for your support and kindness! 

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Retirement is Here!

I had no idea 30 years ago when I started working for our local school system that I’d stay for a whole “career.” I just wanted to have the same schedule as my boys and one year led to another and now…today…I retired. I am overwhelmed with all the kindness, gifts, flowers, love, hugs, and just sweet attention I’ve received the last month. My heart is full and overflowing. I love this quote – obedience is a long walk in the same direction. Thirty years is a long walk! God’s new mercies every morning and His sweet grace to just keep getting up every morning to go to work made it possible. And now, today, the last day of work came.

Psalm 37:23 A person’s steps are made secure by the Lord when they delight in his way.

Jesus surely did make my steps secure and I have thanked Him over and over! My first celebration was a surprise breakfast given by our Board Members on May 1st. They really surprised me. I had no idea. I walked in thinking it was for my boss, Superintendent Dr. Mark Scott, and it was for me. I was tickled to pieces and loved being surprised. Next was our amazing “System Celebration,” on May 8th where over 100 retirees from our school system were honored with a dinner and the company of their families, guests, and co-workers. My husband, parents, and sister Jo came. My sister retired last year. She was an elementary school principal.

My favorite celebration of all was on May 17th. I was able to see so many former coworkers and bosses. Some of my favorite people in the world spoke and there was much laughter at my expense. Mr. Anthony Lunceford was the emcee. He made it extra special. It was all well done and delighted me to no end!I was given a quilt made with tee-shirts from all 38 of the schools in our system. I love it so much, and thank my sweet former boss, Cindy Flesher, Deputy Superintendent, for making it happen. I love that all my family was there. My husband, our sons and daughters-in-love, and five precious grandchildren. My heart was full and overflowing for sure.

I had the joy of working for Mr. James Kinchen for 20 of my 30 years with our school system. I was able to help him open two brand new schools – Houston County High in 1991, and Bonaire Middle in 1996. Then he and I moved to our district office in 1999 and that is where I finished my career. He is on the right below. He is a fine man of integrity, a former high school math teacher. He is family to our family, and we love him. Mr. Dyson, a former high school principal and district employee was also a great co-worker.

These two ladies were very special bosses of mine. Linda Horne on the left and CIndy Flesher on the right. I learned so much from them and loved working for and with them!

Finally, this picture is of four of the School Superintendents I’ve worked for who served our top-notch school system! Left to right, Dr. Robin Hines; Mr. Danny Carpenter, Dr. Mark Scott (current Superintendent); and Mr. David Carpenter.It’s been a great 30 years and a great 31 days of May with fun celebrations and walks down Memory Lane. I’m worn out, emotional, but with a deep sense of peace that I was able to finish and finish well. All glory to God!

And now…I hope to take a stroll among the daylilies in my garden first thing in the morning with a good cup of coffee. It will be the beginning of what I pray to be another long walk in the same direction. More family time, ministry opportunities, and time to just be.

It’s All Grace,
Gran Jan

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October 2017 – iPhone Pix

A scroll through my iPhone pictures makes me so happy! I easily get lost in the memories they evoke. I replay conversations and the sweetness of events. I did that this weekend and saved several pictures to share here for the grandkids’ enjoyment too. I do wonder about this iPhone generation of kids. I know my daughters-in-law each make memory books on-line through various resources, and I’m thankful they do.  But I rarely print a picture anymore. Not like I did when my boys were little. We were forever printing “rolls of film.” Even typing that seems strange.

Whenever all FIVE of my grandkids are together there is lots of NOISE and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They are all healthy, wonderful, and so very smart. They decided to put on a “program” for us down by the pond. It was such a great show. The only props were sunglasses and a little orange flag that stood in for the Grand Old Flag we love. Grandson Jackson was the Producer-Director. We were all requested to stand and recite the Pledge to the Flag, followed by singing the National Anthem. Then each of the actors introduced themselves, giving their age, school name, and something interesting about them. Little Abe told us he was “upset with tractors,” and the others quickly corrected his line and he repeated that he was “obsessed” with tractors. It was quite a show. Best I’ve seen in a long time. A bag of popcorn would have added to Gran Jan’s JOY.Fall gardening is my favorite for two reasons:  no humidity and I love greens!  This was my first year to plant kale and it has gone crazy in the garden. I couldn’t share a post without some garden JOY! I cooked that basket of collard greens and they were ALL eaten because Jonathan took the leftovers home.

Sweet Madie Ruth helped me roll out the dough for yeast rolls. I love time in the kitchen with the grandkids and it is becoming even better as they get older.This is one picture from a bunch I am saving for a future post! My husband and I are making a farm table for our home. We’ve been working on it for a couple of months and it is almost ready. We have taken two adult Wood-working classes and I have learned so much. Gary has really done most of the work, and we will be so proud to get the table home soon – before Thanksgiving!My sisters and I got together and made cookies together. Our mother stopped by and we had lunch together. It was one of the most delightful days I’ve had in a long time. We laughed so much I know it was pure therapy for body and soul.Our youngest grandson Abe was so proud of his John Deere Trio. He wanted me to take a picture and even got our dog Copper to pose for the picture. Abe is obsessed with tractors. 🙂   Abe’s siblings Zeke and Madie joined in the John-Deere-Trio picture to round out the fun.  I love these kids so much sometimes I think my heart will just burst. My son Jonathan will often bring Jackson & Emery down to the Farm on the weekends to play. Emery especially loves the donkeys and cows. I have a swing under a huge oak tree that Gary gave me for my birthday a couple of years ago.  I love it so much and love it even more when the grandkids swing together.Life is good in the country.


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