No-Bake Energy Bites

Well, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon.


In truth I find myself in the busiest stage of life I’ve ever experienced, a relentless and impossible month. So here’s a recipe for such a time as this—No-Bake Energy Bites, our favorite cookie at the moment.


I found this recipe online (there are versions galore), and tweaked and tweaked it until it’s just right for my family. We like a mix of quick oats and rolled. We like milk chocolate chips. We found the vanilla distracted us from the creamier flavors, and began omitting it. Even my kids who don’t like coconut love these little guys.

No-Bake Energy Bites

1 ¼ cup quick oats

1 ¼ cup rolled oats

1 cup coconut

1 cup wheat germ

¾ cup chocolate chips

2 Tbsp. flax seeds

1 cup peanut butter

¾ cup honey

Stir dry ingredients together, then add peanut butter and honey. Stir well. Chill half an hour, then shape into balls. Refrigerate to store. Yield: 40-50 1” balls—enough to last two days at my house if I’m lucky.


Of course you could add whatever you’d like to this recipe: dried fruit, more seeds, M&Ms. What would you throw in?

Happy eating! May your energy rise to meet the road. Or something like that.

Whole Wheat Honey Bread

Hi there, dears! I hope your holidays were as delightful as mine!


Confession: I thought I’d never try a how-to video again, but I did.

My sis-in-law was asking for a tutorial post on bread-making and I said—“Oh my. You just have to be there.” So I created a movie for her, in lieu of countless pictures and thousands of words.

This 12-minute video will teach you to make Whole Wheat Honey Bread {printable recipe here} from start to finish, alongside a few general tips for working with yeast. I’m not a professional, and probably mistaken in a few minor points, but I refuse to be held responsible for accidents. Yours or mine.

My husband and I filmed this a year and a half ago, when I had braces, smaller glasses over which I barely peered, and stage fright, as evidenced in my sober opening and rapid flow of words. But various technical difficulties and staff shortages pushed off our production date, and here we are.

(Not that I don’t have stage fright still.)

So. If you’re interested in bread baking, enjoy! There’s comic relief along the way in the form of children and animals, and a formidable string of bloopers clipped onto the end. This is real life in my kitchen. Stay tuned.

Any questions or corrections, please share them below.

Just for Kim Zook, a most loved sis-in-law.


I have my fingers in many pies at the moment, and so my blogging is going to turn a temporary corner. For the next four to six weeks I plan to post more simply… a picture, a thought, a quote, or a question for discussion. You are free to liven things up as much as you wish; I’m still here and still listening. Just very busy wearing other hats.

Ginger cookies filled with buttercream

She made them better than anyone else could: small and perfect rounds, soft and sugared. And then she’d make them in miniature, the size of an American quarter, just for the little people.

We called her Tiny Grandma, and her hallmark cookies? Ginger.

ginger cookies 1

I have her recipe, and when I bake her cookies I remember a lady I loved, though I can’t match her product. She was a careful baker—Cool the melted butter to room temperature; use your fingertip to scoop the last egg white out of the broken shell. Her work never varied, unless of course she forgot something. She did make pumpkin pies once without the pumpkin…

Grandma’s Ginger Cookies

¾ cup margarine
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
½ cup molasses
4 ½ cups flour
4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. salt

Melt and cool margarine. Add sugar, eggs and molasses and beat well. Add dry ingredients. Chill dough, then form into 1” balls. Roll in white sugar and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 7-8 minutes. Do not overbake; when they crack, take them out, and let them finish baking on the cookie sheet.

Sometimes I make ginger cookies when I miss her. And this season, I copied my aunt and tried something new: filling them with lemon buttercream and sticking them together as sandwich cookies. Or with coconut cream filling. You won’t believe it—heaven!

ginger cookies 3

Buttercream Filling

10 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 ½ cups powdered sugar
Dash of salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat ingredients well—frosting will still be crumby until liquid is added. Divide in half. To one half, add

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

and beat till fluffy. To the other, add

2-4 Tbsp. whipping cream
½ cup coconut

and beat.

ginger cookies 4

Frost the underside of one cookie and stick it to another—making some sandwiches with coconut buttercream and some with lemon. Place cookies in an airtight container and leave alone for a day to soften, so the filling does not squeeze out when you eat them… if you can wait that long [wink].

ginger cookies 2

Then… enjoy.

And that’s all the news from the Zooks for the year!

Merry Christmas, folks. See you in January!

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Giveaway: Simple Servings cookbook!

UPDATE: As of December 6, 2014, this giveaway is closed.


Dear people,

I’m happy to announce there’s a new cookbook on the market around here! – Simple Servings: recipes celebrating the place of food, faith & laughter at Faith Builders.


Beatrice King has gathered an incredible collection of great eats. She’s been head cook at FBEP for ten years, and got so many requests for her recipes she decided to do it right and pack those babies into a spiral binding.


It’s got a gorgeous design and user-friendly layout, as well as full-color-photograph divider pages—and five hundred plus recipes, all tried and tested.


It’s not a comprehensive cookbook made to cover all aspects of cooking—rather, it ensures every recipe is a winner, and goes big with certain sections. I got my fingers in it by copy-editing, and as I edited – well, I admit it. I got crumbs and smears on the proof pages because I couldn’t stop trying out the recipes pre-publication. Awesome!


From Mocha Smoothies to Italian Cheese Bread, from Mexican Tortilla Stacks to Dulce de Leche Cake, you’ll be wiping drool. Promise. And that’s not even touching the delightful salad section… Or the special “Large Quantities” sector for cooking with crowds.

We’ve slipped a little history of Faith Builders in the front and a couple of good essays in the back.


And here’s my own little slice–a recipe I’ll share with you, but only in print!


Christian Learning Resource is offering a copy of Simple Servings for free to one of you readers! We’re going to make it an unusually short giveaway, closing Saturday December 6 at midnight, so that those who don’t win have time to take advantage of a second offer: free shipping on all orders placed before December 10! These copies will arrive by Christmas, Lord willing—just in time for you to try out some new holiday recipes, or wrap the book in pretty paper for the chef in your life.


We want the word spread on this cookbook! To enter to win, you must share the giveaway news with someone. You may share it on a public network, or simply copy and paste this link {} into a private email to a friend. Leave a comment and tell me who you shared it with {“BFF” works for me…} and also, just for fun, what favorite food makes your mouth water.

Example: I’m sharing this giveaway with YOU and I would give a lot for a Lindor truffle right now…

Share the joy. And the Chocolate Brownie Trifle. (That’s right. Found on page 388.)


UPDATE: As of December 6, 2014, this giveaway is closed.

Open to US residents only–or those with US mailing addresses. Giveaway closes at midnight on Saturday, December 6, 2014. Winner will be chosen by