Heart of the Home


Content Tools

A letter from Kate

Dear Readers,

Summer is my least favorite season of the year. I truly enjoy all the flowers and plants in bloom and fresh fruits and vegetables at their peak, but I don't enjoy being hot and miserable.

When I was a child, I loved summer. It meant that we were out of school, and we had nothing to do but go to the swimming pool and play with our dolls. My sister and I loved going to the pool, and we spent almost every summer afternoon there, swimming and inventing games to play. Our friends were usually there, too, and we had great fun playing with them.

Our city pool had two diving boards, but I don't remember ever being brave enough to jump off them. We usually had enough fun diving for pennies and having tea parties underwater. These days, I think it would be great to be able to spend every afternoon at the pool. Maybe if I was able to spend every day at the pool, I'd like summer more now.

Here in Kansas, this summer had an unusually hot and humid start. With temperatures in the 90s and high humidity during the first week of June, I especially missed the cooler temperatures of spring.

There are a few good things about summer now - going to garage sales and picnics, or having a fresh tomato from the garden - but I still say I'd rather have a cool, crisp autumn day or a delicate winter snowfall  anytime.

Kate Marchbanks

Together with God

Isn't it great to get good news? A baby in the family, a wedding, a graduation or a promotion at work are just a few announcements that come to mind. The best thing about receiving good news is being able to share it with your friends.

The best news I received was my son coming home from school with a star for the day. He had been having trouble with staying in his seat and paying attention. After long talks with him, and talks with his teacher, we were pleasantly surprised the day he came home with his first star at achieving his goal. We hung it on the refrigerator, and as the days passed, we added several more.

Father, thank You for giving us the ability to share our successes with others and revel in theirs. May we share many days of good news in the growth of our friendships and dreams of our loved ones. Help us achieve our goals so that we may have many stars on our refrigerator doors. Amen.

- D. Susan Rutz

Mother had a scare while at the rodeo

When my son, Alex, was 7 or 8 years old, we attended all the local rodeos. He participated in the mutton-busting competitions that took place before the rodeos. He enjoyed riding the sheep.

One day, he came out of the chute, riding a big ram that soon threw him off. As Alex lay on the ground so still and quiet, my heart stood still as I watched from up in the grandstand.

He was carried out to safety, and he was beginning to rouse as I arrived by his side. Soon, he was sitting up and talking. When it turned out he had just had the wind knocked out of him, you can imagine what good news that was for our family.


Streetcar passengers celebrated end of war

I was on a streetcar, going home from my job at one of the defense plants in the area. The car was filled with other people, tired and hot because the car was not air-conditioned. We came to a bus stop, and a man stepped over to the car as if he planned to board.

Instead, he said to the operator, 'I just heard that the Japanese have surrendered. The war is over.'

The operator asked him to repeat what he said. He did, and the operator closed the door. He started ringing the bell and didn't stop for anyone to get on or off until we reached the end of the line.

My husband and three brothers were all in the service in different areas of the conflict. All had been gone far too long, to say nothing of the friends and neighbors who would be coming home. It was the best news I have ever received.


Announcement came in Christmas card

The best news my husband and I ever received came in the form of a handwritten message on a Christmas card.

Our daughter, Linda, and her husband had been eager to have children, but early in their marriage they were forced to set aside their plans. Following a brief illness, Linda had been diagnosed with a serious kidney disease. Her doctor told her it would endanger her health if she were to become pregnant.

After the disappointing warning, the young couple considered adoption, expecting they could be bringing home a baby within a few months, but they learned that it required years of waiting to get to the top of lists.

We put on hold our own hopes of having a grandchild. Then, a card under the Christmas tree, addressed to us, was signed, 'From your new grandchild, expected to arrive sometime in August.'

Linda and her husband explained that researchers had found a new way of evaluating kidney tests like hers. Her slides were re-evaluated, and the new analysis showed that our daughter's illness was not the serious form of the disease they had originally believed.

The news had a double meaning for us. Not only was our daughter in good health, but we could look forward to being grandparents.


Good news is found everywhere

Good news comes in many forms. One might win a prize, there might be a new baby in the family, the job one has been wanting might finally come through, or the rains could fall at the right time. Yes, good news arrives in many different fashions.

As a child, good news was when I was allowed to spend the night at a friend's house, or when my mother allowed me to stay up after my 9 p.m. bedtime, or when I knew that a special aunt who always gave me a quarter was coming to visit.

Good news was when my dream of getting married in a long, white dress and living in a real house came true. My parents ran a café, and in the 1930s, it wasn't unusual for families to live in the back of a business they owned. While money was scarce, my parents allowed me to spend $17 on a long, white dress. The good news was doubled when my granddaughter wore the same dress in her wedding 59 years later.

Good news was when my first grandchild arrived. That little boy is now the father of four of his own. Other grandchildren arrived, a total of 17. I am now the great-grandmother of 27.

Good news is when I go to church and the pews are filled, and it isn't even Easter or Christmas. More good news is when the rains come at the right time to get the flowers and gardens started, and the corn in the field can be rowed. One can find good news in just about everything. It's being able to eat whatever you want and drive your own car.

Good news is taking the time before I go to bed at night to know that there is a loving God watching over me, listening to my prayers and carrying me when the going gets rough. 


Sweet cherries add color to irresistible summer desserts

When a classic pantry ingredient meets a favorite summertime treat, you've got a recipe for warm-weather desserts everyone will love. Sweetened condensed milk provides the pale, cool creaminess that is perfect for frozen cream pies, ice cream, dessert pizza fillings and magic cookie bars. Sweet, red cherries, available frozen or as bottled maraschinos, add vibrant, fresh-picked flavor and vivid color.

With ingredients you already have on hand, these sweet treats will be ready for nibbling at a cookout, at the table with family and friends, or in the shade of your own back yard. Now that's summer!

This delicious pie can be prepared the night before a special meal.

Frozen Cherry Cream Pie

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 package (12 oz.) frozen sweet cherries, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 container (8 oz.) frozen nondairy whipped topping, thawed
2 (8-inch) prepared graham cracker OR chocolate pie crusts

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth.

Mix in cherries, lemon juice and almond extract. Fold in whipped topping.

Pour mixture into crusts and freeze overnight. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers, covered, in freezer. Yields two 8-inch pies.

A combination of chocolate, cherries and coconut makes these bars irresistible.

Cherry Magic Cookie Bars

- Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk and National Sweet Cherry Foundation
SUNDAE BAR: Cherry Magic Cookie Bars feature favorite sundae toppings.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter OR margarine,
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 jar (10 oz.) maraschino cherries
   (without stems), drained, patted dry
   and chopped (about 1 cup)
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for a glass baking pan).

In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; mix well. Press crumb mixture firmly on the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with remaining ingredients; press down firmly with a fork.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool. Chill if desired. Cut into bars or diamonds. Store, covered, at room temperature. Yields 2 to 3 dozen bars.

Bananas and creamy filling on a cookie crust is a delicious treat.

Banana Split Dessert Pizza

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sour cream
6 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter OR margarine, softened, divided
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup chopped nuts
3 medium bananas, sliced, divided
1 can (8 oz.) sliced pineapple, drained and cut in half
10 to 12 maraschino cherries, drained and patted dry
Additional chopped nuts for garnish
1 square (1 oz.) semisweet chocolate

Heat oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, 4 tablespoons lemon juice and vanilla; mix well. Chill.

In a large bowl, beat 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add flour and nuts; mix well.

On a lightly greased pizza pan or baking sheet, press dough into a 12-inch circle, forming rim around edge. Prick with a fork. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool.

Arrange 2 sliced bananas on cooled crust. Spoon filling evenly over bananas. Dip remaining banana slices in remaining lemon juice; arrange on top along with pineapple, cherries and additional nuts.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt chocolate with remaining butter; drizzle over pie. Chill thoroughly. Store leftovers, covered, in refrigerator. Yields one 12-inch pizza.

Editor's note: Crust and filling can be made in advance and held until ready to assemble. Cover crust and store at room temperature; store filling in refrigerator. Dessert is best if eaten same day as assembled.

This luscious dessert will hit the spot on a hot summer day.

Cherry Cordial Ice Cream

- Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk and National Sweet Cherry Foundation
COOL TREAT: Cherry Cordial Ice Cream will hit the spot on a hot summer day.

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed
2 cups (1 pint) half-and-half
2 cups (1 pint) whipping cream,
1 jar (10 oz.) maraschino cherries
   (without stems), well-drained and
   chopped (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

In an ice-cream freezer container, combine all ingredients; mix well. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Freeze leftovers.

Refrigerator-Freezer Method: Omit half-and-half. Whip whipping cream.

In a large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract; mix well. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan or other 2-quart container. Cover. Freeze for 6 hours, or until firm. Freeze leftovers. Yields about 1 1/2 quarts.