As of this week, it is official – I have lived in Indiana twice as long as I lived in Tennessee, the state in which I was born and raised.  Maybe I should consider myself an adopted Hoosier; however, I know I will always be a Volunteer in my heart.

Although Indiana and Tennessee are part of the same country, there were things I had to learn once I married a Hoosier native and was stuck here.  People are a lot more reserved than they are in the area where I grew up.  It was quite an adjustment for me, as was a lot of what Bob (my late husband) referred to as “Hoosier sarcasm.”  During those first years of my Indiana residency, I cried a lot.  I begged Bob to find a job in Tennessee so I could go back home.  I missed my family and friends and the Smoky Mountain foothills.

There were a lot of things for me to learn (or unlearn).  The words “boil” and “oil” are one syllable in East Tennessee.  Here, they have two, and  I made myself learn to pronounce them that way so people would understand what I was saying.  Those things on top of the stove, the hot spots for cooking pots, are called “burners.”  I had always called them “eyes.”  I won’t forget the confusion when I told someone to set a pan “on the back eye.”  What a lot of people referred to as “mangoes” were what I knew to be “green peppers.”  To me, mangoes were a tropical fruit.  I could make this list quite lengthy, but these examples are some of the earliest adjustments that I recall making.

Years passed by and I lost both my parents and other favorite relatives.  I formed friendships here and the overwhelming desire to move back to Tennessee gradually faded.  Bob and I discussed retiring there, but that notion died with him.

Some of my relatives have stated that I should move back “home” now that I am alone. While Tennessee is my home at heart, I am not “at home” there after so many years away.  There are seven main reasons I would rather stay in Indiana; their names are Maggie, Vivian, Lincoln, Liam, Melody, Elijah, and Colton.  Of course, their parents are included, too!  They may not all live in Indiana, but it is much closer to Illinois than is Tennessee.  I have a wonderful church family and place to serve the Lord, good neighbors, and (don’t laugh) straight roads that are numbered such that make it much easier to figure out where I am going.  Unless the Lord has other ideas, I guess Indiana is stuck with me!

Memorial Day has passed, the school year is over, and above-average temperatures cause us to realize that summer is here, officially or not.  Here’s hoping yours turns out to be “berry” good!  By the way, four of my Hoosier grandchildren loved the Blueberry-Pecan Shortbread Squares.


Berry Delicious Lemonade

1 to 1-1/2 cups strawberries, sliced

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 5 or 6 lemons)

1 to 1-1/4 cups sugar

4 cups cold water

Ice cubes

1 lemon, sliced (optional)

Combine first 3 ingredients in container of an electric blender; process until smooth.  Pour strawberry mixture into large pitcher; stir in cold water, ice, and lemon slices, if desired.

Yield:  7 cups.


Sparkling Raspberry Punch

 1 (10-ounce) package frozen red raspberries, thawed

1 (12-ounce) can frozen cranberry juice drink concentrate, thawed

1 (12-ounce) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed

2 (2-liter) bottles ginger ale, chilled

Process raspberries in a blender until smooth.  Strain raspberries, discard seeds.

Combine raspberry puree and concentrates in a punch bowl.  Stir in ginger ale just before serving.  Use a decorative ice ring to keep punch chilled.


Blueberry-Pecan Shortbread Squares

3/4 cup chopped pecans

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pint fresh blueberries (about 2-1/2 cups)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

Place pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 4 minutes or until toasted.

Stir together pecans, flour, and salt in a bowl.

Beat butter and powdered sugar at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer 2 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed 30 seconds after each addition until a dough forms and comes together to hold a shape.

Press 2 cups of dough in a thick layer onto bottom of a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch pan. Top evenly with fresh blueberries. Combine granulated sugar and lime rind, and sprinkle evenly over berries. Crumble remaining dough evenly over berries.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden. Cool shortbread in pan on a wire rack 2 hours. Cut into squares before serving.  Makes 2 dozen.


Strawberry Nachos

 3 cups sliced strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons amaretto-flavored syrup

2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 (7-inch) flour tortillas, cut into 8 wedges
Butter-flavored cooking oil spray
2 teaspoons cinnamon-sugar
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
2 teaspoons shaved semi-sweet chocolate (optional)

Combine strawberries, 1/3-cup sugar, amaretto syrup, and water in a bowl; stir well. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Drain, reserving juice for another use. Combine sour cream, whipped topping, 2 tablespoons sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl; stir well. Cover and chill.
Arrange tortilla wedges on 2 baking sheets; lightly coat with cooking spray. Turn wedges over and lightly coat other sides with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon-sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes or until crisp. Cool on wire rack. To serve, arrange 8 tortilla wedges on a serving plate; top with about 1/3 cup strawberry mixture and 2-1/2 tablespoons sour cream mixture. Sprinkle with almonds and chocolate. Yield: 6 servings.