National Buttermilk Biscuit Day!

Today is National Buttermilk Biscuit Day! All that know me well, know I love to make and teach others how to make biscuits. I help with a mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry at my church called “Tasting Grace.” Our purpose is to teach the joy of biblical hospitality, serving others in the love of Christ.

So today I am going to share my tried and true recipe here, with pictures. It’s an easy recipe with only three simple ingredients. The more you make them, your confidence will grow. That’s what my Granny always told me, and she taught me how many years ago.

Three Simple Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of White Lily self-rising flour

1 cup of Whole Buttermilk

1 stick of Frozen Butter

Makes between 8-12 biscuits depending on the size of your biscuit cutter!

NOTE: You will need a little extra flour to keep your hands “dusted” during the folding process; and some extra butter to melt for the finished biscuits. About a half-stick will do!

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and lightly grease (I use Crisco) a cast iron skillet. I love the Lodge 10.5″ griddle pictured here. I’ve seen them at Walmart and hardware stores too.

Measure the self-rising flour into a large bowl. I love to use clear glass bowls for all my baking prep.

Using the larger holes of a box grater, grate the stick of frozen butter and then pour into the bowl of flour. Work quickly now to mix the flour and butter together. I call it “pinching in” the butter for even distribution. You don’t want to handle it too much or cause the butter to melt.

Pour in the 1 cup of buttermilk and mix well. I use my hand, but you may use a spatula if you prefer.

Mix just until everything starts to “come together.” DO NOT OVERWORK THIS BEAUTIFUL DOUGH!

Now dust your hands with some of the extra flour and turn the sticky dough out onto a piece of parchment paper (or your counter if you don’t mind the mess)!

Pat the dough into a nice rectangle about the size of a piece of notebook paper, about 1/2″ thick. (Not shown in picture.)

Pay close attention to the next two steps – this is the FOLDING technique and creates the wonderful layers in your biscuits. First, fold the dough in thirds. See the picture? Fold the right side in and then the left. (Not shown in the picture – just fold the left side in! You’ve got this!)

Now take your folded dough rectangle and fold it again, this time in half!

After you’ve folded into thirds and then halves, smooth your dough into a beautiful nice rectangle about 1″ thick and the size of a piece of notebook paper.

But once again, don’t “handle” the dough too much!

Now take your biscuit cutter or a smooth glass, and dip it in some extra flour. Go STRAIGHT DOWN and UP. No twisting or turning. Just up and out.

Place the biscuits close together on your greased skillet.

Take your extra dough and shape it back into a rectangle again so you can cut out the rest of the biscuits.

Remember, don’t work the dough too much. You may have to just roll the last one out with your hands!

Put your skillet into the pre-heated hot oven and bake the biscuits 15-18 minutes, until lightly browned. Mine are perfect at about 17 minutes in my oven.

Remove the skillet from the oven and brush the tops with melted butter.

This recipe doubles easily, but I don’t do that unless I’m feeding a crowd! I hope you enjoy trying my recipe and will let me know if you make them.

Blessings on your beautiful buttermilk biscuit making.

Gran Jan

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Pecan Pie & Homemade Crust

Gran Jan’s Pecan Pie & Homemade All-Butter Crust!

I was sharing this recipe today with my sister Joan, and decided to add it here so you can share the Pecan Pie joy with us. I have tweaked and searched and made pie crusts and pecan pies for a long time. I’m done and these two recipes together are the happy result. First, the all-butter crust!

All Butter Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons of whipping cream

1. Add the flour and salt to a bowl.
2. Cube the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Using your hands, combine the flour and butter quickly. You don’t want the butter to melt!
3. Add the heavy cream to the flour/butter mixture and combine well. The dough will start to hold together – but do not overwork it!
4. Transfer the dough to your pie plate and use your fingers to push the dough into the dish – spreading from the center outward. Be sure the dough is at an even thickness throughout.
5. Crimp the edges by making a scalloped edge. See my pie above! Use your index finger to squeeze the dough around and then press with your thumb and index finger of your other hand.
Note: I actually like to pre-bake my pie crust for about 5-7 minutes to allow it to set up a bit. Or you can chill it prior to filling. Just a personal preference.

GRAN JAN’S PECAN PIE RECIPE
1 cup of white sugar
3 tablespoons of light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of light corn syrup
1/3 cup of melted butter (I use salted)
3 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix white sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla in a bowl.
3. Last, stir in chopped pecans and blend well.
4. Bake the pie for 60 minutes – until it is no longer “jiggly” in the middle. You know your oven. It will continue to cook for a while once it is removed, so don’t overcook it. A “wee jiggle” is okay.
5. Allow to cool for several hours before serving so it can set.

I hope you will try these recipes together!
~GranJan

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Covid-19 Quarantine Memories

I wore a mask to go to the grocery store…it was a strange time for sure!

Yesterday, May 1, 2020, was the first day in almost a month that our State of Georgia wasn’t under a “shelter-in-place” order due to the Covid-19 Corona virus. I wanted to document this very unusual season in the life of our home, family, state, nation, and…world. A global pandemic.

I’m 62 years old and recently shared with my grandchildren I had never experienced anything like this in my lifetime. They have told me they will talk about this quarantine when they are my age. They are now ages six to eleven.

The closest thing that comes to my mind is standing in a long line as a 6-year-old (with lots of other children), to have sugar cubes placed on our tongues by nurses wearing white starched hats and uniforms, white hosiery, and white shoes. It was 1963 and I was in first grade. We were receiving treatment for polio. It was a Department of Defense School at the Marine Base in Cherry Point, North Carolina.

These are the things I want to remember…and I pray I do remember them. I know we are apt to easily forget and quickly go back to our former selves and routines when normalcy returns. But I seriously hope the good things that came out of this season will remain in my heart and mind.

  • I’m a happy homebody, but I really missed seeing my family. It made me think of growing up as a military child and being separated from my dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was too long.
  • Face Time was a great gift during this season of quarantine. Not the same as a visit, but I am so thankful for the family face times and technology in general.
  • I missed my church, and my church people. We call them our second family at Second Baptist. Not being able to physically attend church made me long to be there. I hope on those occasions when I think I’d like to stay home, I will remember missing church. Yes, we “had church” on-line, and it was great, but not the same. I’m grateful for how pastors and worship leaders just stepped up and did the best they could in such unprecedented times.
  • I loved more time to actually focus on my outside spaces. My garden especially, but also the jasmine arbor and the swings I love that are there. So grateful that this quarantine occurred during Springtime and not Winter. Being outside was a place to go and the weather has been so beautiful. Thank you God!
  • My mother and I made masks for my sister Joan’s employees at Jackson Heating & Cooling. I made one for my husband and myself to wear to the grocery store. It was the only place I went! I didn’t like wearing the mask and seeing everyone masked. It just felt so weird to me. But don’t we “wear masks” every day anyway? Lord help me to unmask and be genuine and Christlike to others all the time.
  • I am thankful for all the medical professionals everywhere – doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, assistants, and anyone who worked on the front line. Heroes! Also our first responders, and all the ways they served and risked their own safety for anyone in need. So many good stories of kindness and hope were to be found. May we remember.
  • More time with my husband Gary. We really enjoyed being together and of course, I cooked and he loves when I cook for him! I really did enjoy lots of time in the kitchen and I found some new recipes that will remain in our “rotation.” A new way to make biscuits…after 43 years! I plan on a whole post for that soon.
Church from home…at the kitchen table. That is our Pastor, Jim Perdue!
Family Face Time, a special gift!

All in all I remember how people everywhere responded (for the most part) with diligence and attitudes to get through this. A similar theme was “we are in this together.” Yes we were, but truthfully, we are always in “this” life together! Please may we remember. Help ME remember. And not forget.

I didn’t like wearing a mask, but I loved my time in the sewing room…always!

The Lord is our Rock, in Him we hide, a shelter in the time of storm.

GranJan

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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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Hello Jackson!

You know it’s been way too long when your almost 9-year-old grandson asks you when you’re going to update your blog! Thank you Jackson. I had no idea you were reading my blog. That makes Gran Jan so happy! By the way, I have loved watching you play baseball this year. You are a really great shortstop and hit the ball really well too. Gran Jan thinks you are a great athlete, but more than that, you are kind and polite, and a great team player.

Some fun family news is our new puppy, a German Shepherd we call Rosie. Her full name is “Queen Esther Rose.” We got her back in late Fall, she is now almost 8 months old.

Thank you Jackson for encouraging me to write again. This blog is called “Gran Jan’s JOY,” because that’s what you 5 grandchildren are to me, my joy. I look forward to some family time this summer at Gran Jan Camp and at the beach. I sure love you…what do you want for your birthday? See you soon!

Gran Jan

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