Notes from Jan

Recipes and Relationships

May 7, 2016

May’s a month of graduations, weddings and Mother’s Day. Sent a Mother’s Day card to my Aunt Joyce, Mama’s next to youngest sister.   Her Norwegian name’s Solveig.  Uncle Howie sometimes called her, “Joy bells.”  To me she was Auntie Joyce, super cook, best baker, quickest to come when needed, patient teacher of new games, queen of fun and sweet singer.

May’s also the month of Judy Gaede’s birthday,  Knowing she loves Mexican food, Lisa, Gaynelle and I planned a birthday lunch around that theme.  Good time for my aunt’s recipe for taco salad.  She first made it for our family in the early 70s when we were vacationing at Burt Lake in Michigan. It’s still one of Chad’s favorite meals, especially for his birthday.

Auntie Joyce no longer cooks or bakes but she still sings in her room(mostly Gaither songs) at the nursing home where she lives in Arkansas. For many years, at every family gathering, we’d ask her to sing, We Have This Moment, by Bill and Gloria Gaither.  It’s what the older generation  modeled for the next generation. Moments matter.

In my memory I  hear her singing softly:

“We have this moment to hold in our hands

and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand

yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come

but we have this moment, today.”

Her recipes take up a good portion of my recipe box…a treasure chest of recipes and relationships.

She was the first to introduce me to what we call Christmas Tea.

Her recipe came as “Spiced Tea” in the 60s…made with instant Tang, instant lemon tea, sugar, ground cloves and cinnamon.  You gave it as a gift in a jar, along with instructions on how many teaspoons to stir into a cup of hot water.

The recipe I used for Basil’s birthday breakfast last week journeyed from Bev Pitkin to Judy Gaede to me as Russian Tea.  Judy keeps a pot brewing in winter and believes it makes colds and flu think twice before entering any tea sippers.   Everybody needs a really positive friend.

I’ve tweaked a few ingredients and we call it Christmas Tea. 

12 cups of water

8 tea bags ( I use 10 decaf so the Grands can drink it.)

1 Tablespoon of whole cloves

1 cinnamon sticks( I use 2)

2 cups  of sugar (I use 1 cup. Add to your taste)

2 cups of orange juice

2 cups of pineapple juice

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions: in large pot heat water with cloves and cinnamon to boiling. Turn heat off and add tea bags.  Steep three minutes (don’t over steep or it gets bitter).

Remove tea bags and add remaining ingredients.

When a little cool, remove cloves and cinnamon sticks.

Makes 1 gallon.

Store in refrigerator or simmer and serve.

It fills the house with the scent of Christmas.

Once you inhale or sip a cup, you’ll  know why Basil wanted Christmas Tea for his birthday breakfast.  It’s about memories and relationships. Reminders on this day in May of a grandson and a sweet singing Auntie Joyce, both part of a recipe for making the most of our one small dash.

Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come but we have this moment, today.”








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  • Reply Faith Wright May 7, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Love having this recipe, dear Jan, to think of you and your sweet Basil as
    my house fills with the aroma of Christmas tea.
    What I’d really been hoping for, besides, was the recipe for taco salad — !
    With a big hug,

  • Reply Shirley Dubeau May 7, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    I, too, have Bev Pitkin’s Russian Tea Recipe and it’s been a staple in my “wife of the Pastor” gift arsenal around Christmas for years.
    In our church Elders and Deacons and others have been the beneficiaries of jars and then following the consumption comes the inevitable request … for the recipe.
    It’s always fun to share the recipe and the story of from whence it came …One of many recipes and remembrances from my time working in the Registrar’s Office at Gordon with the able AND EXTREMELY FUN Judy Gaede, Registrar Extraordinaire!

  • Reply Wendy Lane May 7, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Oh how my mouth waters thinking of the wonderful things I’ve eaten that were made by your sweet hand Jan! Thanks for the recipe – it’s copied an in my on-line recipe box!! I don’t think I’ll wait until Christmas to make it either. 🙂 Will you also share the Taco Salad recipe?! Mexican (especially with lots of avocado!) is about my favorite thing in the world. (My FAV is 2 homemade chocolate chip cookies warm out of the oven with icecream in between them!!)

    Loved your memories of your Auntie Joyce! Wonderful song!

    Happy Birthday to Judy please – Steve and I love her and Stan so much!

    And Happy Mother’s day to you dear Jan!! Love you!

  • Reply Susan Curry May 7, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    Ahhh…..Tang!!! I wonder if Tang ran away with Tab? The best relationships happen with tea….we should know! Glad we never tried blue tinting…although I am pretty sure I keep Loreal in business these days.
    Happy Mother’s Day Mama Jan. I love you and cherish you! Thank you for pouring into us as God pours into you!! ❤️❤️❤️

  • Reply Dale Lefever May 7, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    We are in Portland and had some “moments” at the local Farmer’s Market: more tattoos and more holes in bodies than clothing – easy to be critical. Once the Spirit reminded me that these were the folks for whom Christ died, it changed the moment. I am a slow learner, but your insights are preparing me for eternity.

    Blessings, Dale

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