One of the most frequent comments I hear about my column is, “I love the stories about your grandchildren!”  So for those readers who enjoy them, this one’s for you!

Elijah (2-1/2) is the source of the latest stories.  He seems to have taken his older sister Vivian’s spot as a main source of family humor.  Heather (his mother) called me one day and asked if I had time for an Elijah story.  Of course I did!  She had taken him to lunch that afternoon; while they were at the restaurant, a man with long, dark hair entered.  He was wearing a slouchy knit cap.  Elijah spotted him and declared, “Look Mommy!  It’s Joseph!”

Heather informed her son, “I’m sure he has a name, but it’s probably not Joseph.”  However, Elijah was sure that it was Joseph from the Nativity story.   The man was still there when they left.  Elijah waved at him, and he waved back.  Heather claimed she was pretty sure the man was unaware that Elijah thought he was Joseph.

Another morning, Heather was taking Elijah to daycare.  On the way, they were discussing his potty training.  Wanting to encourage him to use the toilet, Heather mentioned that she was in the mood to go shopping for some superhero underwear.  A puzzled “O-o-o-kay, Mommy,” came from the back seat.  “You do that.”  Elijah thought she was going to purchase them for herself.

My son Jonathan sent me a text recently with another Elijah tale.  “Help, Mommy!” he yelled.  “I’ve got a flat tire!”  It turned out that his foot wasn’t all the way in his pajamas.

An Elijah incident from a few weeks ago has been going through my head over and over.  Heather and Vivian were not home; there were only Elijah and his father.  Jonathan told him, “Elijah, come here please.”  The reply: “Okay, I’ll be there in a minute.  As soon as I get my angels out.”  Jonathan spied him lying spread-eagle on the floor like he would if he were outside making snow angels.

For some reason, my mind often takes a devotional twist; this story from Elijah has caused me to see a parallel with my own life.   When my Heavenly Father would draw me into His presence, I have too often been occupied with getting my “angels” out.

“Lord, I am busy studying the lesson I have to teach on Sunday.”  “I have to take my neighbor to the store.”  “There is food I need to prepare for a funeral dinner.”  “My prayer list is long, and it takes a while to get through it.”  On and on the list could go, but I think I have made myself clear.

The irony comes in knowing that when I stop my busyness and focus on the Lord alone (He should be the reason for my service anyway), all the things that I put in the way manage to get accomplished.  And with more strength and a better attitude, besides.  Thank you, Elijah, for inspiring your Grammie to obey her Heavenly Father when He calls her to come to Him!

The recipes this week all include spinach.  Some people love it and some hate it; for others, it depends on how it is prepared.  I chose a variety of dishes in order to please as many people as possible.  A category I omitted was dessert.  I did try making a spinach cake once; it wasn’t bad but not worth repeating.


Spinach Rice Frittata

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup (2-ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Cook onion in butter in large skillet until tender but not brown. Add spinach and garlic. Cover and cook 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove from heat; add rice and Parmesan cheese; mix well.

Combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper; stir into rice mixture.

Turn into greased shallow 2-quart baking dish; top with cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees 30 to 40 minutes, or until set.

Makes 6 servings.


Skillet Spinach

4 slices bacon

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach

2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Pinch of sugar (optional)

Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove bacon, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet.  Crumble bacon and set aside.

Add vinegar to bacon drippings in skillet, and bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to loosen bacon particles.

Add spinach to mixture in skillet, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until spinach is limp.  Stir in bacon, pecans, salt, pepper and sugar, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 generous servings.


Spinach Salad with Hot Citrus Dressing

 2 pounds fresh spinach (or 1 bag baby spinach leaves)

4 oranges, peeled and sectioned (may substitute 1 can mandarin oranges, drained)

1 large purple or Vidalia onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings

1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Hot Citrus Dressing (recipe below)

Remove stems from spinach; wash leaves thoroughly, and pat dry.

Arrange spinach and next 4 ingredients on 8 salad plates.  Drizzle with Hot Citrus Dressing.


Hot Citrus Dressing

 1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 small onion, diced

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon grated orange rind (optional)

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon hot sauce

2/3 cup canola oil

Process first 3 ingredients in a blender until smooth

Add brown sugar and next 4 ingredients; process until smooth.  Turn blender on high; add oil in a slow, steady stream.

Pour mixture into a medium-size, non-aluminum saucepan.  Bring to boil.

Cook over medium heat 10 minutes.

Serve warm.