Mountainside Ministry Training Center

The Mountainside Ministry Training Center, operated by International Messengers, is located in Libby, Montana and trains international workers who have hearts for the lost in other nations.  “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

2022-01-19 Mountainside Ministry Training Center - Photo by Ben FancycameraPhoto by Ben “Fancycamera” 😉

Christmas Treat – Pumpkin Buttermilk Cake

I stole a recipe from Gail’s Kitchen (snapshotsincursive) and changed it up a bit to make a single cake instead of her mini-bundt cakes that you can find at her site.  This works both with a tube pan or as a full size bundt cake (that I did not photograph as it was my first outing with a bundt pan).  It worked great with amounts of ‘stuff’ close to her original recipe, but now I want to try to make a larger one in my tube pan.  This will take some playing with the temperature or time.

The nice thing about this cake is its simplicity as there is no rush between steps and it still comes out great!  On my first trial bundt, I melted the butter and wound up having to refrigerate it for several minutes to get the cream consistency of its mixture and got everything else ready.   It is really hard to goof this one up!  Believe me, I tried!! 😄 Even the measurements can be varied according to taste; more or less buttermilk, sugar, honey, or spice.  And on my first trial, it only took about an hour from start to finish.  I always assemble everything I expect to use before starting.


1-1/2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
1/4 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened (room temperature)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk*  (substitutions below)

powdered sugar for dusting

IMG_4141Preheat the oven to 350⁰F.  Spray the inside of the pan with PAM or grease with butter.
In the first bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, pumpkin spice and cinnamon and set aside.

In the second bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and honey.  Beat with a hand mixer on high for two minutes.  Add the eggs and beat on high two more minutes, scraping down the sides as needed and set aside.

In the third bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and buttermilk.*  Mix well.

Add one-half the the butter mixture and one-half the flour mixture to the puree mixture, gently stirring until combined.  Do not use a mixer, and do not even over-stir; just stir enough to blend.  Add the remaining mixtures and again, do not over-stir.

Fill the bundt pan or tube pan no more than 3/4 full.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, and test with a toothpick until it comes out clean.  A stainless steel cake tester comes out clean too easily, while a toothpick’s texture will give a more accurate picture of the internal doneness of the cake.

Cool for five minutes before placing on a wire rack.  With a tube pan, I had to ‘slice’ the bottom and center of the cake away from the pan, even though it had been greased, but then it came out beautifully.  My tube pan comes apart, so this would have created a problem if I had used a one-piece tube pan.  (My bundt cake pan is silicone, so it is flexible.)

After cooling, dust with as much confectioner’s sugar as you like, or serve with Cool-Whip or ice cream.


*Buttermilk Substitutions
Few of us home-bakers use enough buttermilk to keep it on hand, so I went to my old chemistry texts looking for substitutes.  Though buttermilk and sour milk ARE different, they can be used interchangeably in most cooking applications.  These are the three easiest I found:
When you look at the composition of buttermilk, really it’s just acidic (or sour) milk.  You can easily recreate this using some common ingredients you likely already have in the kitchen.

  1. Lemon Juice
    To make one cup of homemade “buttermilk,” just add a tablespoon of lemon juice to whole milk.  Use freshly squeezed if you can, but bottled works fine.  Lemon juice is acidic enough to turn your milk sour, i.e., into buttermilk.  Mix the two together and use once your whole milk begins to curdle.  If you use low-fat or 2% milk, just give it a two or three minutes to do the magic and taste to make sure it is sour.  (NOTE: Spoiled milk is NOT the same as sour milk!)
  2. Cream of Tartar
    If you do occasional baking, then you’re might have cream of tartar somewhere in the drawers.  Cream of tartar is a strong acid.  If you add it to egg whites when making meringue, it helps it hold its structure.  For every cup of buttermilk you want, mix in about one and a half teaspoons of cream of tartar. Wait for a couple of minutes or until your milk thickens.
  3. Vinegar
    If you don’t have either of these, you’ll probably at least have vinegar available.  Just add a tablespoon of vinegar per cup of milk and let it sit for about five minutes, or until your milk starts to curdle and split.  Distilled white vinegar is best because it won’t alter the color of your milk, but when you’re baking with pumpkin and spices you can use apple cider vinegar and the result will be just fine.

“I was in awe.” – Intermezzo Guest Blog

Parents overcome fears to welcome baby Henry, born without arms.
by Nancy Flanders, July 17, 2021 , 03:55pm

After learning that their preborn son would be born without arms, Jessika Turner and her husband doubted their abilities to parent a child with additional needs. But when baby Henry was born, life changed for the better.

2021-08-02 I Was In Awe

“We called our close family members and explained what little we knew at the time,” Turner told Love What Matters. “They had so many questions, and I was fresh out of answers. The one question I kept asking myself was ‘How in the world are we supposed to raise a child with no arms?’ At first, when I looked back on those few days after we received his diagnosis, I felt so guilty for feeling like I did. I repeated over and over, ‘How am I going to be a mom to a little boy who needs more than I can give him?’ Now, I realize I wasn’t worried about his arms, or lack thereof, at all. I was worried about our ability to care for this amazing child because I felt inadequate.”

Turner is not alone in her fears. For every child who receives a diagnosis, there are parents who wonder if they will be able to provide their child with everything he needs. When the child is still in the womb at the time of the diagnosis, doctors often suggest abortion instead of discussing how to actually help the child or the parents.

Henry’s doctors believed he had a rare genetic disorder called Thrombocytopenia Absent Radius Syndrome (TAR). According to Turner, TAR causes low blood platelets, missing arm bones, and other limb deformities. It also causes a lowered immune system and a milk protein allergy. There are two types of TAR: long arm and short arm. Those with long arm are missing the radial bone in the arm while those with short arm are missing all three arm bones. Henry has short arm TAR.

READ: ‘He’s absolutely perfect’: Mom of baby with missing limbs said choosing life was the ‘best’ decision

“Our next step was learning to adapt,” said Turner. “One of my biggest things, when we found out about Henry’s arms, was his clothes. Why does EVERYTHING have sleeves? All of the sleeveless items were summer clothes, and Henry was due in December. The feeling of being inadequate hit me like a freight train. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat. I screamed and cried and acted like a crazy person. I felt my soul break in half. My fellow special needs parents will know what it feels like. It’s gut-wrenching. I then realized I couldn’t stay in that dark place. I had to fight. I had to figure out how to do the best for this boy with lucky fins.”

2021-08-02 House Closing

Thankfully, Turner was able to find a support system with other families of children with TAR on Facebook. They gave Turner and her husband hope — “a life raft to hold onto.”

When Henry was born, Turner felt prepared and excited but also nervous and scared. He had a low platelet count of just 13,000 compared to the typical 150,000 to 450,000 and spent the first month after birth in the neonatal intensive care unit. He overcame a high white blood cell count, transfusions, IVS, x-rays, and five surgeries.

“The first time I got to see him with my very own eyes, I was in awe,” said Turner. “We created that! He was ours forever.”

Today, Henry is like any other toddler who loves to play with his trucks and uses a sippy cup. His parents have a mantra of, “No arms? No problem!” and his mother said she “cannot wait to see the person he grows into.”

Every child deserves to be loved the way Henry is loved, regardless of abilities or differences. No child should be discriminated against in the womb, but instead, all children should be welcomed at birth with love.

“Like” Live Action News on Facebook for more pro-life news and commentary!

Connect with Live Action here: Live Action News

My notes:
Every baby IS loved and would be welcomed into the world if we could just connect those who think abortion is the only route out of a difficult situation to those who want a baby.  There are so many childless couples who wait for years to provide loving homes that no baby needs to enter the world unwanted.
For a humorous spin on this, check out the Babylon Bee’s May 21, 2021 satire piece (remembering this is a joke website!):

Intermezzo Pics: Snow, Another Night of Miracles

2021-01-28 Snow in Fayette
Another day and night of miracles.  It began snowing late in the afternoon of January 27, and came down in big flakes that made the neighborhood seem almost foggy with the diamond dust.  We went to bed with a lovely light coating on the ground and bushes of about one to two inches, but more came so we woke up to about four inches overall.  The above is from a newspaper report of downtown Lexington in the afternoon.

Below are shots from my back window, with one reflecting our Christmas tree lights that are up until February 1. 😉

As night fell, the snowfall gave a nice one to two inch cover of the ground.  No idea where a neighbor was off too at 8:00pm, but he is experienced driving in snow and ice.  Love what the snow did to his headlamps as they shone on the light white jacket on the road.

While I was asleep we received between another inch to two inches, so in the morning, the miraculous mural of immaculate milk covering the meadows around us was spectacular in the early sunshine.  The view from our bedroom window showed the sun just rising.

On the back porch after breakfast, the sun was already starting to evaporate the snow, but slowly as the temperature was 22⁰F (-6⁰C)!

Out the front of our home, the scene was much the same: alluring alabaster ice everywhere.  The falcon seemed unfazed.

IMG_1981 IMG_1988 IMG_1986 IMG_1990

Out back, the sun was still coming over the horizon, as Anita and I prepared for our morning walk of about 1-1/2 miles (2.4km).

One of our neighbors, like us, still has some Christmas decorations up, which is perfect in this weather!  The walk was cold, but without wind, we actually got warm in our down coats, gloves and hats!

Walking along the blocks around our house, snow sometimes seemed to falling again from the blue sky, but it was just flakes falling from the forest’s fins. 😉  My bride is sooo patient with me when we are walking.

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Almost back home again, another neighbor has an interesting “visitor” that looks better in the snow.  Usually Sasquatch is a rusty brown, to blend in with the trees. 🙂  In the meantime, about the time we arrived back home, wonderful gray clouds began to hide the direct sun.  Yeah, I know the blue is gorgeously grand, but no direct sun is good sun.  Sometime I will blog on my reasons for thinking this.  So after lunch, I think we will head out for another walk, about 2-1/2 miles (4 km) this time.

Today we will stay below freezing, but tomorrow warms up to 35⁰F (1.5⁰C) so all my wonderful snow will soon be gone. 😦  Maybe Heaven has a special place for those of us who love snow . . . Saturn’s ice rings? 😉

January 2 – An Upside Down Cake for An Upside Down World

IMG_1722January 2 finds us anticipating virus vaccines across the US and a finalization to our November 3rd presidential and vice-presidential elections in just four days.  What ever happens, we hope it is finally over!  However, based on the last four years, it is unlikely politics will slip away into the background for a couple years the way it used to after elections.  Mid-term balloting is “only” two years away when Americans will go back to the polls to choose lawmakers for whichever Senators are coming to the end of their six-year terms, and all the Representatives, who serve two-year terms.

And no one expects a reprieve from presidential hopefuls.  Vote for ME in 2024!  I’ll give you bigger stimulus checks than the other guy and unite the country around my partisan positions on abortion, immigrant rights, LGBTQ, the environment, what to call people who gender identify, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Israel and Social Security.  Okay, on Social Security almost everyone actually agrees.  But otherwise the parties and the national factions are poles apart, whatever the polls say.

So I decided to make an upside down cake to celebrate our upside down world.  Variation on a theme, I made a Pineapple Almond Upside Down Cake that actually came out pretty easy to do.  Hey, if I can do it, YOU can! 🙂

It is always safest with any recipe to assemble all your ingredients before beginning.  It would be a shame to make the caramel for the bottom/top and then find out you did not have cornstarch . . . course, at that point you could always claim you wanted to make caramel!  Actually, guess no downside there! 😉

So get together the following for your Ingredients:
Topping (which will go in the bottom of the cake pan):
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (salted/unsalted does not matter)
Pineapple slices, one 20oz can or enough fresh to cover the bottom of your cake pan
Cake Mix:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup ground almonds
(I like leaving some small chunks for crunch: I just don’t grind too finely.)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (soften to room temperature)
1 teaspoon almond extract (If you are afraid of too much almond, you can substitute vanilla extract here.)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
Pan – 8″ x 11.5″ x 2″

Generously grease the pan with butter.  You can use the stick you have for the topping, but make sure you reeeeally cover the corners and the sides up to the rim!  This butter greasing will make your cake smoothly come out of the pan when you flip it at the end.
Melt the butter at medium heat in a small saucepan and add the brown sugar, stirring until it dissolves. But after the sugar melts, STOP stirring, and let it simmer until the mixture just begins to bubble.
Pour the mixture into the pan and level it out. 
Next add the pineapple slices, arranged in a single layer to cover as much as you can of the caramel mixture.  As you can see my slices were not very pretty like the canned ones, but I was using a fresh pineapple and had not planned on the cake when I cut it up.

While making the cake mix, preheat your oven to 325⁰F.

To make the cake batter, whisk all the dry ingredients except the sugar in a large mixing bowl: flour, corn starch, almonds, baking powder and salt. 
In another mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter and flavoring (almond or vanilla).  Use the larger bowl for this, not like I did with a small mixing bowl.  Add one egg at a time and beat each one before adding the next.
Add about half the dry mixture and mix into the butter mix, followed by half the sour cream.  Repeat this step with the remainder of the dry mixture and sour cream.  This process it to ensure smooth blending of the batter without overbeating the eggs. 
Once you have a consistent texture throughout the batter, pour it over the pineapple and caramel; smooth it out so that it is fairly uniform on top.

Bake at 325⁰F for about one hour until a tester (e.g. butter knife) comes out clean.  If you have a baking thermometer the center of the cake should reach 205⁰F.  If you stop before the tester comes out clean the center of your cake will be mushy; tastes good, but not great presentation.
Allow the cake to cool in its pan for five minutes, off any source of heat; i.e. out of the oven and not on a hot rack.
Carefully flip the cake smoothly onto a platter.  If some of the topping that was on the bottom of the pan sticks to it, start over and butter the pan more generously! 🙂  Not really.  Just scoop it out and patch it onto the top of the now Upside Down Cake.

If you use canned pineapple or cut your fresh stuff into pretty rings, you can dress it up with cherries in the center of the rings for decoration.  The cake can be served still warm from the oven or cooled.
With the fruit on top, I recommend refrigeration after cooling to room temperature unless you are eating it all within 24 hours.
Next time I am going to try overbeating the eggs.  It is delicious as it is, with the texture of a pound cake, but I think overbeating the eggs before adding the dry mixture will make it lighter.

Bon appétit or maybe Nanea i kāu pāʻina!
And to end the year, one of the most spectacular Christmas musical renditions I have ever heard; the caption says it all: It Will Give You Chills!


Intermezzo: Coming New Year’s Day

2020-12-29 New Years Day Coming SoonWell, it’s almost that day of the year when we turn over a new leaf (or snowflake if you’re lucky enough to live far enough north to enjoy the miraculous white powder).

In any case, lots of leaves have been turned over this year that many of us did not expect!  Job losses, especially in the service and food sectors, mandates from new czars formerly known as governors, isolation from nursing homes and hospital patients, mistreatment or murder of citizens based on the color of their skin, Marxist style riots dubiously based on claims of racial profiling, conflicts of electoral processes with questions of electoral integrity, a Supreme Court confirmation liberals detested, deaths of dear friends or relatives with the Wuhan Virus (I am NOT racist against Chinese – I MARRIED one! Wuhan was simply where the virus started.)  Yes, lots of changes none of us could have predicted.

So now there is another “leaf” to turn over.  We pray that things will begin to return to “normal” with the virus vaccine roll-outs from Pfizer and Moderna promising that we may see a flattening of the pandemic curve after a year of spikes and information overload that reported too quickly on social media what would best be left for biologists to work out over a couple years. 

The election should be finalized January 6th with Congress certifying the results of the electoral college, and we may have a politician for president who used to be a good compromiser with opponents in the Senate.  We’ll see if he is as good at getting compromises from extremists in his own party or in getting concessions from conservatives who think the election was stolen.

Conspiracy theories filled the “fake news” on both sides of the liberal/conservative divide.  They rivaled Hilary Clinton’s “vast right wing conspiracy,” but put the blame on her camp this time round with the Democracy-Alliance attempting to overthrow the next mid-term elections.  “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” = “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” 

2020-12-29Anita and I walked around our neighborhood and enjoyed the Christmas decorations, especially those that acknowledge Jesus’ real purpose in coming to earth.  He was uniquely born to die, not as an accident of activity or disease.  His express reason for creating a body inside Mary, using her DNA, was so that He could go to the cross and pay a penalty for our sin and selfishness, giving of Himself freely to redeem us into eternal life.  So now, though the outward man perishes the inner man can be renewed day by day until we pass from this vaporous short-term existence into the Real Life that Jesus initiated for us by rising from the dead.

2020-12-29 LuminariaOur subdivision, Copperfield, put out Luminaria by providing everyone in our 433 houses with paper bags, sand and tea lights.  Though slightly sparse (only five per house), it gave a sense of community to our neighborhood that has been missed this year with no Clubhouse activities and restricted pool use.  The display turned out very effectively to show we are all responsible for the light we shine.

2020-12-29 Christmas TreeOur Christmas tree has so many ornaments collected on our travels that we only use a few of the usual generic bulbs.  The tree that went up just before Thanxgiving Day will probably stay up through January.  Christmas is not even celebrated in some places until January 7, and Candlemas, the celebration of the traditional view of Jesus’ presentation at the Temple is not until February 1.  Besides, the lighted tree with all its memorial embellishments makes the dark wintry nights feel just a little brighter as the days begin to slowly lengthen since the winter solstice is past.  A friend in Johnston, Rhode Island used to leave their Christmas tree up all year long, just covering it with a sheet to keep dust off . . . unless someone came to visit; then they would reveal the tree in all its glory whether the month was May or July!  Here are a few of our “annual” ornaments.

So now another year ends and another begins, as we count the years.  (We have not always counted this way, and even now, other cultures . . . count differently.)  Several people have asked me what I do in my days now that I have officially retired.  These days, memberships, subscriptions, and a dizzying array of content to watch and listen to abound.  In fact, I still have not begun to clean my basement (now my excuse is that it is too cold 🙂 ).  Enjoy your time with your family.  Stay safe and healthy into the New Year, and we will see what Father has planned for us in 2021.

Christmas Eve, Snicker Doodles, Church Services and a Movie!

IMG_1532Christmas Eve day and we are sitting at our computers sending out delinquent e-cards to friends all over the world, as snow covers the roofs of houses around us.  Well, it’s covering ours as well, but we are inside with no plans to go out into the 26F weather (-3C).  We were out this morning in a the balmy 34F (1.5C) which was as warm as it is going to get today, to deliver some cookies to one of our dearest friends here in Lex and a student we are thinking about adopting (just kidding, Neng!!)

IMG_1588A couple of days ago, we had sunny and cold weather and stopped to take a selfie by a creche some neighbors put up every year.  There is a reason it is called “Christ”mas, you know! 😉

Yesterday I baked a bunch of cookies, not really Christmasy, but I have been bitten by the “baking bug” since several blogs I follow are foodie journals with recipes that make my mouth water as I read them.  One of them from beautybeyondbones convinced me I could smell the Kari-Kari!

So for my second food blog (my first was about pumpkin pie!), this is my report on making butterscotch snicker-doodles.  Easy as pie . . . well, actually a LOT easier than pie! 🙂

2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
dash of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Start by assembling all the ingredients because it won’t take long to prepare.
Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
Bring the butter to room temperature or soften in the oven or microwave. (Do NOT melt it!)
“Cream” the eggs and vanilla, adding the butter and sugar until it is fully dissolved.  I used my mother’s old Sunbeam mixer that she gave us when she was still on earth.  It is an antique but still works like a charm!  Use a low setting on your mixer so you do not whip the eggs.  It should be a smooth cream, thus the term for the instruction.  Afterward, add the butterscotch chips and continue blending into the cream.
Add the flour, salt and baking soda and blend at a little faster speed until it forms a sticky dough.
As each ingredient is added, spatula the sides to make sure you get all the goodness! 😉
Dust a baking sheet with flour (and some for your fingers!) and form the dough into 1-2″ balls (3-5cm).
Place about 2″ (4-5cm) apart on the baking sheet, and bake for about 8-10 minutes until set, but not too hard.
They should be pretty soft to the touch when browned but will set up as they cool.
Put on a cooling rack or silicone sheet to cool.
Didn’t I tell you this was easy!?

We will “attend” a Christmas Eve meeting at First Alliance Church here in Lexington, KY, at 3:30 EST and visit another in Colorado at 5:30 MST.  Join us online if you want to see some cool candlelight services with those brave enough to attend in-person.  Then, tonight we’ll watch Jim Carrey’s version of Dicken’s Christmas Carol and “settle down for a long winter’s nap.”

So with a couple of pumpkin pies, pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins, pecan pies and now shortbread and butterscotch snicker-doodles under my belt (figuratively and LITERALLY!), I’m going to wish all y’all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and only blog once more until 2021 . . . oh, that’s just week away!

(Just so ya know, “y’all” is singular in Kentucky; “all y’all” is the plural! 🙂 D))))

Merry Christmas to all y’all and to all y’all a good night!