Sharing Blackbean Soup and Meatball Stew Again!!

  Here is Heather Atkinson with her Ella, 11 and Callie, 9 making the meatball stew from the blog dated January 22, 2015.

I’m so excited to see young mothers teaching their children to cook and especially excited to see they are using this blog as a cookbook!! Thank you so much!!  Linda McKinney Blake and her three little ones, Annalee, 6, Aidan 4 and Lillian 2, all helped to make the Blackbean soup from the blog dated October 25, 2014. And incidentally Annalee made this for her school and won $100 to use in her school library!! Congratulations Annalee!!


 After I had lost my job and had moved to a big house on the ridge, I needed more to do. My son was in high school and my daughter in nursing school and as I looked around at all the extra room we had, I thought why not share it! I had met a woman who was a foster parent and she gave me a phone number. One call lead to another and another and soon it got out in the fostering community that I was interested in being a foster parent and the phone calls started coming in to me. I had no idea there were so many agencies and even more sadly so many children needing a home.

This was nothing for me to just say “yes” and move anyone in. My upbringing was so different from my husbands. I knew never to go to the kitchen in the mornings without my bathrobe. You never knew who might have come for a visit in the night for a day or two or even a month! Both my parents were from different states and had gone to college in even other states and they kept up with all their families and friends so everyone knew they had an open invitation to visit any time. And people did. It was fun for me and my three other siblings. We got to know our aunts and uncles and cousins better that way and would not have otherwise since they all lived in other places. My husband on the other hand grew up in a loving home with just one brother and his parents. Their lives were more organized and quiet. Nothing is wrong with either upbringing. But for my husband to move in strangers was a much harder decision.

The day finally arrived and the knock came to our door. We thought a young girl would be nice since our children were older. Someone young enough we could all spoil and who would think we were so special to have taken them in. When we opened the door there stood a boy, not a girl and a teenager not the young child we were expecting! The agency man explained that they were in desperate need of a home right now for this child because his earlier foster home had been disrupted. There he stood looking at us with as much disbelief as we were at him. He was made to look even shorter than he was by standing next to the tall social worker. He had chains hanging from his sagging worn out jeans and he walked like they were going to fall down at any minute. There in his hand he held a big black garbage bag holding the only possessions he owned. He wasn’t expected but how could we say no.

His name is Anthony. He came from an abruised home and now had to live with strangers. As the days turned into weeks and then months, he taught us as much as we taught  him. He was kind and missed his siblings, a brother and younger twin sisters. I learned quickly that I needed to pick my battles as we’re taught in the foster care  classes. Keeping your bed made and room picked up meant nothing to a child that had lost everything they knew and the people who should have loved and cared for him didn’t do their job and now he had to live this way.  So we talked a lot and compromised on many things. When your bed is made the whole room looks better I’d tell him as my mother had told me, so we just settled for that. And even though I preferred him wearing his pants up around his waist, I bought him new jeans and a belt and let him keep the chains and sagging style. At least the belt would help his pants stay up and if wearing them this way made him feel he had some control of his life, it was something I could live with.

The foster parents he had lived with before coming to us were vegetarians. We were not. He was able to get us recipes to try. So this is where these burger recipes came from. Eventually we enjoyed them too and with time  he started enjoying our beef burgers as well.

There was a single man who lived in a tiny house next door to us. He was very particular about his big yard, but with a house that small  I can see why he stayed outside so much. One day he got on to me because the wind had blown some branches and leaves from our tree into his yard and he was very unhappy about that. He wanted me to cut it down. Well, he was very rude and made me cry. As I sat on the side porch I heard a loud knocking on his front door. I looked over and there stood Anthony. When the man opened his door I heard Anthony say to him “Don’t you ever make my mom cry again!  She is the nicest person I know and does so much for others and doesn’t deserve to be talked to that way. ” Well, I must admit that at this time I was glad he was wearing those chains and looked like a thug! He really wasn’t that way on the inside. And I knew I had made some difference in his life and now I knew he also had made a difference in mine.

Anthony is grown now and he is not passing on bad parenting. He and his wife are lovingly raising their little son with all the joys parents should feel.

A New Life Begins/Grilled New York Steaks with coffee rub

  After twenty years of managing properties and traveling to other states to train other managers, a  new company bought the property I managed and I was asked to leave. Well, it was unexpected because I had gone through many other changes like this during my twenty years and was always able to keep my position. This meant we had to move!  It was time to buy a house. We had never done this before because we had to live on the property I mangaged. This was exciting and scary all at the same time. We looked around and finally settled on a two story, three if you count the finished basement with its own entryway, white brick house on historical Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga, Tennessee. My Dad noticed right off the bat that the address 1732 South Clayton totaled our family’s lucky number “13”. So it had to be the right move for us. So we moved in on a weekend with all tha family and friends we could mustard up. When Monday came and I didn’t have a job to go to I thought I’d watch morning TV. My coworker called since she didn’t have a job either and came right over. We fixed a big breakfast with no interrupting phone calls! We watched all the morning shows we thought we had missed through the years and just kept looking at each other. When we checked the time, it was still morning!! We weren’t hungry!! Now what?? We knew we would come up with something. And we did. Bea Chadburn is the one in an earlier blog that went with me on many of my craft fairs.

One of the funny things I remember about our house was that the stairs leading up to the bedrooms were built like the ones mentioned in the book MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL. One of the steps was built a different height from the others and a person that didn’t know that would surly fall. This was a poorman’s security alarm and was made that way on purpose. Even though the distance from our old place and the new one wasn’t that far, it seemed like we had moved to a different state. I started going to another post office and bought my groceries at a different food market. We were closer to downtown than the mall so my shopping experiences changed. It was a delightful change and one we needed more than we knew.  God has His plans for us and even when we can’t see how.

The Lord watches over all who love him. Psalm 145:20    

There were other things about this house we throughly enjoyed too. The fireplace was a real wood burning one and we would gather the branches of the small cherry and apple trees from way at the back of our property to burn and the smell that filled our house was so much better than any candle or potpourri you could find anywhere. Just sitting by this fire in the mornings drinking our coffee was a perfect way to ensure a good day. There was a small covered side porch with a fan and a big porch off the back of the large family room where we did a lot of grilling. We purchased a hot tub and placed it below on another porch you could get to from the basement level that had other rooms and a full bath and small kitchen. This made for a nice apartment for Heather, our daughter, since she had just finished college and was now going to nursing school. All this made us feel like we had moved to one of those large cabins in the Smoky Mountains, only when the weekend was over we didn’t have to pack up and go home. We were home!

  Here’s “THE CALIFORNIA CHEFS” with another good idea. This time a great topping for steak.