Italian Ham, Potato, and Spinach Soup

I enjoyed a delightful lunch with two friends the other day in one of their homes. It was a crisp fall day, and the host decided soup was in order. She was right.

I’d been mulling what to fix for supper, and had come up with an idea using items I already had in my freezer, refrigerator, and kitchen. Mostly I was thinking of a ham potato soup. I loved the seasonings in the soup my hostess served, so I came home and concocted my own recipe using some of the same seasonings but different ingredients.

Start by sauteeing your onion and garlic in a little bit of chicken stock or some butter, then add the rest of the stock and the potatoes. Season with sea salt and pepper, and cook until the potatoes are tender.

I highly recommend making your own stock. Cook up a chicken, debone it, and save the broth for later. For this recipe, I had several containers of broth/stock in my freezer because I had purchased chicken on sale. I cooked up a huge pot of chicken pieces, deboned and put the meat and the brother in the freezer in separate containers. This beats any broth, chicken stock, or chicken bouillion you buy in the store. No preservatives and no sodium.  It’s a win-win!

Add spinach (frozen or fresh) OR Kale, chopped, cooked (real) ham, and then add cream and more seasoning as desired.

Simmer until the vegetables are completely heated through, add some parmesan cheese on top (optional)  and serve.

There’s something about the aroma of onion and garlic mingled with chicken and ham that speaks of comfort and home. I’ve never been a fan of spinach or kale, but this soup welcomes you to the table with a delightful flair, and you won’t even know the spinach is there! Mostly it will seem like a ham potato soup.

I served it up to my man for supper. After we came home from church that evening he finished it up (an entire quart full). This one was a hit and I will be making it again.

Italian Ham, Potato, and Spinach Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 quart
Using ingredients you have in your kitchen, this soup comes together easily and quickly. It's a great way to use leftover ham after the holidays, and delightful because it will warm your bones on cold winter days.
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups diced potatoes
  • ¾ tsp. Sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ - 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1-2 cups spinach or kale (more as desired)
  • 2 cups chopped ham
  • 1-2 cups heavy cream
  • Parmasean cheese (optional)
  1. Melt butter and saute onion and garlic
  2. Add chicken stock and potatoes, and cook until the potatoes are tender
  3. Add ham and seasonings
  4. Add spinach (or kale)
  5. Add heavy cream and heat until warm
  6. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top

Ham potato soup


A Man’s Best Friend


Timber watching his master.

This dog! His name is Timber, and he belongs to our son Tim.

“I’ve never seen a dog that listens so well,” my friend said to me. We were sitting at the picnic table and Timber waited patiently at the end of the table, the plate of shrimp tails and shells at his feet, untouched.

Timber cocked his head, waiting. Yet he never moved his position or his poise. He just stood, waiting.

On the words, “Okay!” from his master, he scarfed up the food on the plate.

I’ve accused my son of being mean to make his dog wait so long to eat. He challenges me that it does not hurt his dog to know that he has to listen – and waiting a few minutes will not hurt him at all.

He’s right, you know. Timber is the best-behaved dog I have ever known, thanks to his Master.

Tim has taught his dog well. From the time Timber was brought to his new home as a 6-week old puppy, the two have been inseparable. Timber’s mother is a pure-bred German Shepherd. His father – a lab – came from who-knows-where.  Over Thanksgiving in 2010, we went to get two puppies for our place when Tim decided to ride along. We came back with three puppies – two for us and one for him.


Timber and his sister siblings when they were puppies.

Whenever Tim has to be gone for several days and we “dog-sit”, Timber is not happy. He knows we love him and he knows there will be plenty of dog food and table scraps (his favorite), but he misses his Master. Sometimes he won’t eat until Tim gets back. Other days he eats only table scraps and no dog food. I suppose it’s his way of coping with his unhappiness.

Dave has little tolerance for animals in the house. Yet somehow when Timber arrives, the dog manages to be allowed to sit on the rug just inside the kitchen door. If I’m not around, he also manages to come further into the house. I like Timber, but I do not like dog hair on carpet or on sofas.



The mascot of the boat. Timber always rides along.

Whether Tim is on his boat on Mayo Lake or driving one of his trucks, Timber is with him.


Sometimes Tim’s business puts him on the road with a truck and trailer – and Timber is as much a part of the business as anyone else. Everywhere they go, Timber rides on the back of the trailer, moving from side to side to bark at other vehicles and their passengers. Sometimes, if it’s really cold or raining hard, he rides in the cab – but he is always wherever Tim goes.


Timber even comes to church, but he stays outside. He stays either in the vehicle or under the vehicle – wherever Tim puts him and tells him to “Stay!”. On our annual Heroes of Faith night, he participated in the skit Tim performed for his character. Tim was Lazarus with sores on his legs, and Timber came bounding in to lick the “wounds” on Tim’s legs. You would have thought they had rehearsed the skit because it went so well.

Timber functions as a guard dog when his master ventures into precarious situations because of his business. He functions as a playmate for the many children who come in and out of our home. He serves as a watchdog wherever he goes. At the warehouse that houses Tim’s business, he is the mascot.

Most importantly, he serves as his master’s loyal and best friend.


The Two Things That Define Character


Character Defined

In the end, I discovered that my father was right when it came to things of character. My mother was the one who passed it on to us. I can’t tell you how many times I heard her say this:

There are two things that tell the character of a person: 

           settling an estate or building a line fence.

My father had no doubt seen his share of squabbling over line fences, for he was a surveyor and was sometimes called upon to settle disputes. In addition, as a man who served as an executor of many estates, I suppose he had seen and heard it all.

Perhaps that is why he felt so strongly that a person’s true character is shown when it comes to working out differences in our property, our possessions, and our money.


Character in Action

When a fence is put between two properties, there’s always a concern for the right-of-way and who gets which corner so that all is fair. Each party looks out for his interests more than the interests of the other side. That’s our human (sinful) nature.

When it’s time to settle an estate, it matters not so much how things are written in the will to be divided out. What is more important is how we respond when we think things aren’t quite fair. Unfortunately, most times we’re  just selfish enough to keep harboring what we should maybe let go. Sometimes we’re just selfish enough that we don’t consider the other side of the estate.

When it’s time to build a line fence, it matters more that those on the other side of the fence don’t have to fight to get a right-of-way. It matters more how the folks on the other side of the fence might be feeling.


Our Role Model

For the Christian, there are some things to consider because our role model is not our friend or an attorney. Our role model is not our neighbor or our legal counsel.

Our role model is Jesus. The same person Who talked about daily cross-taking to follow Him. The same God Who said we should, as much as possible, be at peace with each other. The same Savior Who gave up His rights so that we can have eternal life. The same person Who said that first,  we are to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Much as we’d like to pass it on to our kids, much as we’d like to keep it in the family when all is said and done, there will be no titles or heirloom pieces in Heaven. We won’t be able to take it with us, so let’s make certain the way we’ve obtained it – whether it’s our inheritance or our line fence –  is good, honest, fair, and true.


The Importance of Character

Today, there are families the world over who have developed a rift over the settling of an estate. They miss out on sharing holidays and family reunions. They miss out on seeing grandchildren or nieces and nephews grow up. They miss out on comradery, all because of the response of one side (or both sides) to the Will or the settling of an estate. Sometimes the rift that occurred in the first generation is carried on to the next, and the grudge is maintained. The chasm is wider and the next generation doesn’t even know what the rift was about, yet in loyalty, they carry on the rift.

There are neighbors who aren’t speaking to each other because of a line fence. Walls are built, stones are thrown, and the cold and silence become deeper and stronger. Hatred spews out, and sometimes there is violence. Is it really worth that pain to be so right?!

When we settle an estate or build a line fence, what really shows is not so much the possessions we inherit or the line on the farm. What shows is the character of those who settled the estate and of those who have built that fence.

What does your line fence say to others about your character?

What does the way you’ve settled an estate tell your family about your love for Jesus?




Pumpkin Torte



It’s that time of year: pumpkins and mums, apples and spices. Time for pumpkin desserts! Dave and I were served this delightful pumpkin dessert when we visited folks in Eureka, Nevada. Marian brought it to her sister’s house for lunch, and I had to have the recipe.

It came from her family cookbook, so I don’t know who really gets the credit. She graciously gave me the recipe.

Then, of course, I had to make it.  I started by just doing the first two layers, and then put it in the refrigerator.  I was going to be out of town, so I needed to have less to do when I got back. A few days later, I did the additional top layers. It worked well for me and for my schedule.

. Both old and young alike enjoyed the dessert. I’m sure you will, too!


I forgot to take a picture before half of it was eaten!


Pumpkin Torte
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-16
A pumpkin torte made in four layers - well worth the time and effort. You can make the first two layers one day and finish the rest when you're ready to serve.
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 (3.4 oz.) boxes instant vanilla pudding
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 cups pumpkin
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup cool whip
  • 2 cups cool whip
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp. nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp. cloves
  1. Mix Layer ONE and put into a 9 x 13-inch pan
  2. Mix Layer TWO and pour over the crust.
  3. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Cool
  4. Mix together Layer THREE and chill for a few minutes
  5. Then put layer three on top of baked layer
  6. Mix Layer FOUR together and spread over the top.
  7. Chill until ready to serve.

pumpkin torte