Meats · New Favorite

Balsamic Pork Tenderloin…Tender and Delicious!

Roast Pork was a staple in our Iowa farm home, tender, juicy and always accompanied by mashed potatoes and gravy.  Through the years, I’ve cooked pork roast many ways but this recipe, shared with me by buddy Jan, was different and equally tender and delicious.  A great crock pot recipe I’ll be making again and again.


Two-three pound boneless pork tenderloin
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • Place pork tenderloin into the insert of your slow cooker. In a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over pork and set the timer for your slow cooker. (4 hours on High or 6-8 hours on Low)
  • Once pork tenderloin has cooked, remove from slow cooker with tongs into a serving dish. Break apart lightly with two forks and then ladle about ¼ – ½ cup of gravy over pork tenderloin.
  • Store remaining gravy in an airtight container in the refrigerator for another use.

Recipe by Cooking | Add a Pinch at

Family · Holidays · Home · Humor

Aunts and Uncles…storytelling…treasures of the family

Aunts and Uncles are a bit like Grandparents.  They get to spoil the nieces and nephews, shower them with affection and love, and leave when they are amped up on sugar and fun.  It’s a good gig! I was an Aunt at age 7 and grew up with my niece and two nephews. It was wonderful having playmates and helping out my older sister and brother. A highlight of every year was when they came to stay with us and go to Bible School at the rural Carlton Brethren Church, a half mile from our house. There were sticker charts, ice cream, indoor picnics, dress-up (sorry Jeff and Duane), and so many stories!

Aunt Cathy and Sherri
Aunt Cathy and Sherri

sherri duane and jeff christmas about 1969

After college I moved out-of-state and was always sad not to be closer to my family but treasured each of the visits back to see everyone. I was very fortunate to have wonderful Aunts and Uncles as well.  Not all of them lived close but my siblings and I always knew we were loved with the hugs/kisses that went with their visits.

At this state of my life, I have 3 Aunts and 1 Uncle.  Uncle Jack will be 90 this month and planning a big celebration.  Aunt Joyce (Jack’s wife) turned 86 in February. Aunt Lora (also my Mother’s BFF in school) turned 94 this year. Aunt Wilma will turn 100 next June.  From these wonderful people I learned the importance of family/loyalty, laughter, music, traditional dishes prepared for holidays and family gatherings.

Several years ago, when camcorders were new to the market, we traveled to Iowa with our newborn daughter to celebrate Christmas.  Christmas Eve day several of my family members were visiting at my Mother’s House.

Cathy and Uncle Jack
Cathy and Uncle Jack

We turned on the camcorder asked our family members ‘what is your favorite Christmas memory?’  I tear up just thinking about it.  The heart-warming, loving, funny, and sarcastic stories were great at the time but are true treasures now.

Stories (Photo credit: Enokson)

This holiday season let’s spend our time BEING PRESENT and sharing stories for our children and grandchildren to treasure.   Break out the smart phone and make a video, perhaps the best PRESENT of the season!

What’s your story?


Six-Oh! Where did six decades go?

Sixty years ago yesterday, August 19, my Mother gave birth to me, the youngest of the family and definitely the OOPS!  My sister is 14 years older and my brother 9 years older.  I was the annoying little sister that was very observant of the fun things my older sister had or did and taking notes on all of the rules my then teenage brother was breaking. I was the pest!

My sister had to endure countless strangers asking here ‘Is that your baby?’ at 14 years of age.  Mortifying, I’m sure!  My brother was just annoyed.  It’s bad enough having two sisters but being squeezed in the middle of an observant older sister and a ‘tattle-tale’ little sister, couldn’t have been easy.

Betty and baby Cathy 1953
Betty and baby Cathy 1953

Little did I know then that my siblings, who really seemed like second parents, would grow up to be my closest friends and supporters.

Smaha Family Portrait around 1956 to 1957
The Smaha Family about 1958
Cathy, Bill and Carolyn 2011

Their children were like the younger siblings I didn’t have, since I was an Aunt at age 7.  My niece and nephews (they were my pests–see the culprits below) had children closer to my children’s ages also giving our children a special bond and relationship.

Christmas 1968 Duane Sherri Jeff

I lived in Colorado and my siblings lived in Iowa most of our adult lives, but we always made time to visit, keeping the family ties solid.  I’ve tried to teach my children that family is so critically important.  They are there for you…always.

I am blessed. Thanking God for 60 wonderful years of life and looking forward to the future, seeing my children and grandchildren continue to grow and develop into loving, happy adults!

Happy Six-Oh to me!

Family · Family Favorites · My Roots

Tenderloin Sandwiches…just the way Mom used to make

Saturday night dinner at the Smaha Farm often consisted of tenderloin sandwiches, still one of my all-time favorites.  My girls have joined the fan club.  Tenderloin sandwiches are easy to find in restaurants in Iowa but I haven’t seen one on the menu, yet, in Colorado.  In Iowa, the tenderloin is typically twice the size of the bun.  I prefer to keep mine bun size.

Mmmm….sweet Saturday night memories around the kitchen table.


Boneless pork chops, thin
Beaten Egg
Fine bread crumbs (or cracker crumbs)
Canola Oil
Salt & Pepper

  • Remove fat from pork chops.  Pound chops with meat tenderizer until thin (tenderloin).
  • Beat egg(s) and place in separate bowl.  Pour fine bread crumbs, salt and pepper into second bowl.
  • Heat oil in large skillet.
  • Dip each pork tenderloin in egg wash and then in bread crumbs.
  • Place tenderloin in hot oil and brown well on both sides.  When cooked through, remove to plate with paper towels until ready to serve.


Serve on bun with traditional mayonnaise, lettuce and dill pickle slices (or whatever suits your taste).



DIY · Garden · Home

Yellow Jackets…my BBQ Nemesis!

English: a yellow jacket wasp
English: a yellow jacket wasp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is nothing more annoying than pesky yellow jackets when you’re trying to eat outside in the summer.  In Colorado, we are fortunate to not have many bugs allowing us to leave our doors open without much concern of flying insects invading our homes. Growing up in Iowa, it was a race to get inside and shut the door before the flies, mosquitos, June bugs, moths, etc. dive bombed toward the door.

For each of the 24 years we’ve lived in our home, the yellow jackets smell food/BBQ when we’re on the patio and the panic is on.  The girls freeze, run and scream into the house, slamming the door.  What a waste of perfect Colorado summer outdoor dining.

Each year I purchase every type of yellow jacket trap and bait without catching a single yellow jacket. GRRRRR!

This year, I decided to try a DIY yellowjacket trap made from a 1 liter soda bottle. After 10 minutes of creating this gem of a trap, I started watching the clock to see if it worked.  I used bits of turkey to lure the protein-seeking pests into my lair.  Tick, Tock! Tick, Tock!  No luck.

A week later, 2 flies…that’s it.  Now I’ve added sugar water and we’ll see what happens Tick, Tock!

I have a hunch that the secret is in the bait.  If you have a special yellow jacket concoction that works for you, please share!  In the meantime, I’m proud of my homemade trap.


1 empty 1 liter soda bottle
Knife or scissors
Stapler and Staples
Paper Hole Punch
Hook, washer or anything that allows you to secure the twister wire to something you can use to hang the trap.  (I used an old picture hanger that had a hole in the middle.)
Bait (bits of meat, or sugar water)
Pam or cooking oil

  • Cut the top off of the soda bottle.  Put top of bottle, upside down into the bottom of the bottle, creating a funnel/entrance for the yellow jackets.
  • Staple the two pieces of bottle together.


  • Punch 3 holes equal distance apart in the top of the trap.
  • Cut 3 pieces of wire, about 10-12″ long.  Lace a piece of wire into each of the three holes and twists the end around the bottom of the wire to secure to the bottle.IMG_2437
  • Bring the three wires together at the top and twist all together.IMG_2439
  • Spray PAM in top of trap to create a slippery entrance to the trap.
  • Bait the trap with bits of meat or sugar water.
  • Hang in your yard (away from where children and pets may be)
  • Empty (or discard) when full.
  • Make a new trap!

Inspired by

Czech Heritage and Dishes · Family · Family Favorites · My Roots

Strawberry Shortcake…sweet summer delight!

Strawberry season is here.  Bring on the shortcake!  This recipe is from an old Czech cookbook that I’ve cherished for years.  The cake is yummy enough to eat by itself, but topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream is to die for.

My girls love the cake more than the strawberries…I’m partial to the entire package.  I have been know to drown the cake and berries in milk, something I picked up from some elderly Norwegian friends back in Iowa.

However you like it, try it.  It’s strawberry time!


2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together and bake in 9×9″ baking pan for 45 minutes or until baked through.
  • Cut into squares and top with fresh sliced strawberries and whipped cream.

Family Favorites · My Roots

Norwegian Christmas Bread (Julekake)

Norwegian Christmas Bread (Julekake) brings back fond memories of our elderly Iowa friends, the Butlers.  Growing up, Anna would bake Julekake, Kringla, and Lefse to share with friends.  She would brew a strong cup of coffee for adults and children to enjoy with the seasonal treats.  A cup of hot coffee with a toasted slice of Julekake and butter, at Anna’s oak table was the best.  Today, I sit at the same oak table in my dining area thinking of the wonderful stories and memories created in that small farm-house so many years ago.

Kringla is an annual tradition with Julekake only every few years.  Kneading bread dough is hard for me so I’ve included, along with the traditional recipe, my version for the bread machine.  This year I borrowed daughter Sarah’s Kitchen Aid mixer to make the traditional recipe, which I split into two parts to accommodate the smaller size of the mixer.


This is the original Christmas bread recipe from Norwegian family friend, Anna Butler

2 packages dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup chopped citron or candied pineapple
3 cups scalded milk
1/2 cup butter
2 cups raisins
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped candied cherries
2 beaten eggs
1/2 teaspoon crushed cardamom
10 to 11 cups flour

  • Dissolve yeast in warm water.
  • Scald milk and then add butter, salt and sugar. Cool to lukewarm. Add to yeast mixture and add 1/2 flour and eggs. Beat well.
  • Add fruit and cardamom and remaining flour to make light dough. Knead and place in a greased bowl. Let rise until light.
  • Knead and let it rise again.
  • Shape into 5 loaves and place in greased bread pans. Let rise 1 hour or until light. Brush tops with egg yolk mixture of beaten egg yolk and water.

  • Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. After removing from oven, brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar


This is a conversion of the original Christmas bread recipe from Anna Butler
1/6 cup lukewarm water
1 cup scalded milk (cooled to lukewarm)
1/3 stick melted margarine
1 small beaten egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/6 teaspoon cardamom
3 to 3.3 cups flour
1 package yeast
2/3 cup raisins
1/6 cup citron

  • Place ingredients in bread machine in the order given but put raisins and citron aside.
  • Start bread dough in knead mode and add raisins/citron when your bread machine prompts for add-ins.
Family Favorites · My Roots · Vegetarian

Cucumbers and Onions–Mom’s Style

My Mother was an avid gardener growing lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, squash, green beans, peas, sweet corn, peppers, raspberries, strawberries, etc.  The rich top soil of Iowa made for  a prolific harvest each year. She would can and freeze vegetables and fruit for the family to enjoy all winter. Our farmhouse basement ‘fruit room’ was a treasure trove of pickles, canned tomatoes, relish, vegetables, soups, etc.


One of my favorite summer side dishes was my Mother’s cucumbers and onions. The recipe is simple, not written down, but made from memories in that Iowa farm kitchen.


Peel and thinly slice cucumbers and sweet onion.  Soak in cold, salted water for 30-45 minutes.  Drain.  In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise, dash of milk, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over cucumbers and onions and serve immediately.

Family Favorites

It’s my Birthday…Popcorn Cake!

I’m from Iowa and I’m pretty sure popcorn is its own food group.  We grew popcorn on the farm from time to time and I remember stripping the tiny dry kernels from the cob.  My best popcorn memories are, of course, eating it! Popcorn for dinner, leftover popcorn for breakfast, kettle corn at the fairs, popcorn balls in the fall…why not a popcorn cake? My college buddy, Mary, celebrates her birthday in late July.  When we were in college and celebrating BIG for her birthday, I decided to make her a popcorn cake.  A month later, Mary made me a Snickers birthday cake (winding my favorite miniature circles of Snickers bars into a cake). Until this year, it was the only popcorn cake I’ve ever made but I decided to celebrate my birthday BIG this year by making myself one and sharing it on my blog. Happy Birthday to Me!  Now that I’ve told everyone about it, does that I mean I have to share?


2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
2 tablsepoons vinegar
2/3 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 teaspoon baking powder

  • Pop about 10-15 cups of popcorn (2 batches in the air popper).
  • Bring sugar, water, vinegar and syrup to a boil.  Add cream of tartar and boil to soft crack stage (260 degrees–use candy thermometer).
  • Add the melted butter, vanilla and baking soda. Stir well. Pour over popped corn and stir to mix well.
  • Pour popcorn mixture into a buttered angel food cake pan. Push the popcorn down with buttered hands to remove air pockets. Let cool.  (Note:  if you have any remaining popcorn mixture, use buttered hands to shape into popcorn balls about the size of a baseball.  Place on waxed paper to cool.)
  • Once cool, take a knife and go around the sides of the angel food cake pan to release the popcorn mixture from the pan. Push the cake out of the pan from the underside of the pan (removable bottom).
  • Decorate as you wish. I decorated the top with colored candies and candles and tied a purple ribbon around the middle. Add candy to the popcorn mixture or use icing to write on the top.


Family Favorites · My Roots · Vegan · Vegetarian

Springtime memories of Mom….gathering and cooking Morel Mushrooms

Mother's 1968 Morel Mushroom Bounty
Mother’s 1968 Morel Mushroom Bounty

Our Iowa farm was near a large wooded area known as Ferguson’s Timber. This timber was my Mother’s favorite place to hunt those fabulous, spring Morel Mushrooms. She would go to the timber every day she could to hunt and gather the mushrooms to cook, freeze and share with friends and family. My Mother had a keen eye for Morels and taught my sister, brother and I that Morels look like a sponge and are easy to distinguish from other mushrooms; however, she was quick to show us the poisonous ‘false morel’.

1968: I display 2 large morels (love the skinny body and clothes choice!)

Morels are found throughout the Midwest and in parts of eastern Europe. My ancestors, in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) would have gathered these mushrooms in the old country and were probably thrilled to learn that they also grew in their new home, Iowa.

There were two primary recipes my Mother served for these small gifts from heaven:

  • Fried Morels:   After washing and trimming the mushrooms, Mother would cut the mushrooms in half, dredge in flour and brown them in butter, adding salt and pepper.  The result was a wonderful browned, crispy, savory Morel.
  • Scrambled Eggs with Morels:  After washing and trimming the mushrooms, Mother would brown the chopped mushrooms in butter until soft then pour beaten eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper, over the mushrooms and cook until hard.   The mushrooms add an earthy, wonderful flavor to ordinary scrambled eggs.

Unfortunately, Colorado is not a natural source for Morels and I have been craving Morels since my Mother became ill in the mid-1990s.  She  would lovingly gather and freeze Morels to cook when I would come home to visit. I was delighted to find dried Morels in our local Savory Spice Shop,

Dried Morels from Savory Spice Shop

Close up of dried Morels

Reconstituting dried Morels

I have saved these earthy morsels for my spring craving.  Mother’s Day is approaching and it’s time to honor my Mother and this spring family ritual. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

The following recipe is adapted my Mother’s recipe using olive oil instead of butter and adding a pinch of Herbs de Provence.  More Morels, please!


Scrambled Eggs with Morels

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2-1 ounce dried Morels, reconstitute per directions (or 1-2 cups fresh Morels), chopped
4 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon water
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of Herbs de Provence

  • Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan.  Add chopped morels and brown for 5 minutes or until cooked through/soft.

Saute Morels

  • Whisk eggs with 1 teaspoon water.  Add salt, pepper and herbs.  Add eggs to mushrooms and cook until eggs are to your liking.