Poached Eggs Recipe

I have been on a low-carb diet for a few weeks. Since eggs are on the diet, I’ve been looking for new ways to fix them.

When I was a child, my grandmother had an egg poacher pan. It was a single-serving pan about the size of a man’s doubled fist. She used it to make a poached egg for my grandfather on rare occasions. Sadly, that pan is long gone and I’ve never seen another like it. Yet it stirred an interest in poached eggs so I thought I’d share this simple recipe with you.

I made a single serving with one egg.

When poaching 3 – 4 eggs, choose a nonstick 10 – 12-inch skillet. Since I made 1 egg, I chose a smaller nonstick skillet. Nonstick is important because you don’t want the eggs to stick to the pan.

Fill the skillet with water until 2/3 full. Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar, which helps keep the egg together while it cooks.

Add ½ teaspoon of salt or salt to taste. Heat the water to simmering.

Crack an egg and place it on a plate. When the water starts to simmer, slide the egg gently off the plate into the water. (If cooking 3 or 4 eggs, use separate plates so you can arrange them around the pan in a 3:00, 6:00, 9:00, 12:00 pattern.)

Turn off the heat. Cover the skillet and allow the egg to stand for 5 – 6 minutes. The whites are opaque when done.

Remove from the water with a slotted spoon. These eggs are delicious on toast, hash, or on an English muffin.

I served mine on lettuce and ate it as a wrap. Delicious! I prefer my egg yolks slightly runny so I cooked it 5 minutes.


-Sandra Merville Hart


Revised by Cunningham, Marion and Laber, Jeri. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1983.



Lincoln Memorial

On a recent trip to Washington, DC, I visited the National Mall late on a rainy evening. The view of the Lincoln Memorial at night is spectacular.

Talk of building a memorial to President Abraham Lincoln began soon after his death. In 1867, a proposal for a commission to plan the monument didn’t get very far. The country, recovering from war, didn’t have the money to build it. The early design was for 31 pedestrian and 6 equestrian statues with a statue of Lincoln in the center.

Construction on the memorial began years later in 1914, and took about 4 years to build. Styled after a Greek Temple, the memorial was designed by Henry Bacon. It has 36 fluted Doric columns to represent the states in the Union during the Civil War.

The memorial is 188 feet long and nearly 80 feet tall. There are 58 steps on the memorial. There are 87 steps from the reflecting pool to the memorial.

Lincoln’s second inaugural speech is on the North Wall. His famous Gettysburg Address is etched on the South Wall.

Construction was finally completed in 1922. On May 30, 1922, Civil War veterans were among the 50,000 people attending the dedication service.

Robert Todd Lincoln, our 16th president’s only surviving son, attended the dedication. He was 78.

Forty-one years later, a March on Washington, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., ended at the Lincoln Memorial. On August 28, 1963, he spoke to a large crowd from the steps of the memorial. His “I have a Dream” speech spoke of his dreams for America, resonating with his listeners and the nation.

Trolley Tours and Big Bus Tours are an easy way to visit the monument. We took the Metro and walked the National Mall. Whatever way you decide to tour the monument, it is well worth the effort.

-Sandra Merville Hart


“Lincoln Memorial,” Lincoln Memorial, 2020/01/02 http://lincoln-memorial.org/.

“Lincoln Memorial,” National Park Service, 2020/01/02 https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/dc71.htm.

“Lincoln Memorial,” Wikipedia, 2020/01/01 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Memorial.

“The Abraham Lincoln Memorial,” American History For Kids, 2020/01/02 https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/abraham-lincoln-memorial/.

A Family-Style Christmas by Carolyne Aarsen

Caitlin Severn had just ended a three-year relationship when she met Simon Steele immediately after his motorcycle accident. Not only did she witness the car striking the motorcycle, she was the first on the scene. As a nurse, she cared for him and then went to the hospital with him. That time created a bond between them.

Though Simon has no visitors, Caitlin knows all the warnings against a nurse becoming involved with her patient. Also, she’s a Christian and he isn’t. Yet she’s still drawn to him.

Simon longs for a family and his brother that he hasn’t seen in years. Caitlin has a loving family. What can they have in common?

Likeable characters drew me into their heartache and struggles. This story may resonate with those growing up in foster care.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Beyond the Cherokee Trail by Lisa Carter

Linden Birchfield stays at her grandmother’s home in Snowbird while organizing the Trail of Tears 180th commemoration. Not everyone in the community supports the celebration, including Walker Crowe, a descendent of the North Carolina Cherokee who hid out in the mountains to avoid deportation.

Linden is drawn to Walker despite the former army sniper’s prickly personality. Yet she has a good reason to avoid marriage so she shields her heart from loving him.

Then she finds a diary in her grandmother’s attic and begins reading about the horror of the tragic Trail of Tears.

This novel slips between the historic and contemporary stories of two women and the men they loved, escalating the tension as they intertwine with the telling.

Realistic characters. Courageous heroes to fall in love with. Heroines who experience tragedy. Add a gripping story and you have a page-turning novel, masterfully written.


-Sandra Merville Hart

Christianbook. com

Shirred Eggs Recipe

I have been on a low-carb diet for a few weeks. Since eggs are on the diet, I’ve been looking for new ways to fix them. Shirred eggs are baked so this is a variation from the scrambled eggs and omelets that I’ve been eating.

Shirred eggs are baked in a shallow dish (I used ramekins) until just set. The yolks should be runny. Place the ramekin on a baking sheet to make it easier to remove from the oven.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put 1½ teaspoons butter in the ramekin and place it in the oven to melt the butter. When melted, remove from oven and swirl the butter to coat the dish.

Crack 2 eggs and place them in separate bowls. Then carefully slide the eggs, one at a time, into the buttered ramekin. Cover tightly with foil.

The recipe says to bake for 7 minutes. Mine took almost twice that to bake. Though the eggs should be barely set and the yolks runny, they were still raw at 7 minutes. Try baking 12 – 14 minutes and see what your preferences are.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Delicious! It tasted similar to a soft-boiled egg. Here are a couple of variations to try that are still low-carb:

  • Sprinkle with cheese (cheddar, swiss, etc.) after baking and while still hot.
  • Cook 4 small sausages until done for every 2-egg serving. Drain. Arrange sausages around the egg in the baking dish and bake the eggs.
  • Place 2-3 tablespoons of cooked ham, diced, into the baking dish, cover with 2 eggs, and bake. (Other meats like corned beef and chipped beef can be substituted for the ham.)
  • Shirred Eggs Florentine – Spread 2 tablespoons of chopped, cooked spinach per 2-egg serving on the bottom of the ramekin, cover with the eggs. Then sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Revised by Cunningham, Marion and Laber, Jeri. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1983.




First Union Soldiers in Washington Welcomed at the White House

Union troops poured into Washington near the end of April, 1861. Before long, twenty thousand men added to the city’s prewar population of sixty thousand. The city had 33 militia units with armories where they drilled—not nearly enough to accommodate so many additional soldiers. And where were they to sleep?

President Abraham Lincoln welcomed the first troops as honored guests. On April 18th, Major Hunter took Jim Lane’s Kansas Warriors into the East Room of the White House and allowed them to stay there.

Soon troops were camped on the White House lawn, at the Capitol, and the Washington Arsenal. Area churches as well as schools like Georgetown College and Columbian College.

The government rented other buildings for the soldiers.

Seven thousand troops were in the Capitol, occupying Senate and House chambers, committee rooms, galleries, and halls. This brought its own problems of cleanliness. Congress was set to convene on July 4th —before this meeting, grease, tobacco, and other filth had to be scrubbed from the areas.

Soldiers’ tents surrounded the Capitol for a radius of three miles. Troops bivouacked and drilled in the inaugural ballroom, which was a temporary building near City Hall.

Many of these troops received training in the city and soon marched off to war. Others remained to defend the nation’s capital. Sixty-eight forts had been built around Washington by 1865, and these housed Union troops. The city was protected by these forts that had a combined ninety-three batteries, seven blockhouses, and twenty miles of rifle pits. There were thirty miles of military roads.

The forts were built to last for the war’s duration and many of them are gone now. Traces remain of a few of them, including Fort Chaplin, Fort Davis, Fort DeRussy, Fort Foote, and Fort Stevens.

– Sandra Merville Hart


“Civil War Defenses of Washington,” Wikipedia, 2019/12/26 ttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_War_Defenses_of_Washington.

Selected by Dennett, Tyler. Lincoln and the Civil War In the Diaries and Letters of John Hay, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1939.

“The capital can’t be taken!” Civil War Defenses of Washington, National Park Service, 2019/12/26 ttps://www.nps.gov/cwdw/index.htm.

Winkle, Kenneth J. Lincoln’s Citadel: The Civil War in Washington, DC, W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.


Blur by Steven James

Book 1 of the Blur Trilogy

 Beldon, Wisconsin, is a quiet town … until Emily Jackson drowns in Lake Algonquin. The high school freshman had been a new girl at school. Few of the students knew her, including sixteen-year-old Daniel Byers.

As the school’s quarterback, Daniel is one of the popular guys. Yet a vision of Emily speaking to him at the funeral starts to convince him that her death was no accident.

Was Emily murdered? Who did it? Searching for the truth blurs the lines between reality and madness.

Gripping. Suspenseful. I could not put the book down. It’s one of those books that will make you think.

The author is a masterful storyteller. Recommend!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Creme Patissiere Recipe

I’ve been watching a lot of cooking shows recently that have inspired me to try new things. The recipe for crème patissiere is called basic cream filling in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Though it’s most commonly used in pies, pastries, and cream puffs, I wanted to use this custard as a layer in a chocolate cake.

Mix together ½ cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Set aside.

Heat 1 cup of milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until it’s almost ready to boil. Remove from heat.

Stir the milk into the dry ingredients until well-blended.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Using low heat, whisk constantly for 4 – 5 minutes when the custard turns smooth and thick.

Stir in 2 slightly beaten egg yolks and cook a couple more minutes.

Remove from heat. Let it cool, stirring occasionally, and then stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla.

Delicious! Smooth and creamy and thick. As I said, I used it as filling for a chocolate cake. It’s a good flavor but a thicker consistency than a layer of mousse. My husband loved it!

I will definitely make this again—the next time in as a layer in a pie.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Revised by Cunningham, Marion and Laber, Jeri. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1983.

Christmas During World War II

The United States was in a war-time economy during World War II. With many of our men serving our country in Europe and the South Pacific, our women went to work.

There were many items families did without in a wartime economy. Buying the special gift at Christmas was especially difficult.

Rubber was in demand so tires for cars were scarce. Common gifts for children like basketballs, volleyballs, and tennis shoes were unlikely to be under the tree.

Most Americans were limited to four gallons of gas a week, so they didn’t make unnecessary trips. If grandparents and other relatives did not live nearby, you might not see them often.

The local ration board had to issue a written certificate to buy a bicycle.

Metal was needed for tanks, airplanes, and battleships. Citizens couldn’t buy cars, pots and pans, strollers, toy trains, and alarm clocks.

Long distance phone calls were another limitation for Americans, who were encouraged to keep the phone lines open for the soldiers.

A common practice before the war was to purchase goods on account—charging them. During the war, bills were required to be paid within two months. If the bill wasn’t paid on time, the account was frozen.

Popular gifts during the war were ration stamps, which enabled folks to buy particular items. Hats, socks, mittens, and household goods were much-appreciated gifts. Book sales soared. Board games, perfume, and radios were other common presents at Christmas.

Of course, families missed their husbands, fathers, brothers, and uncles serving across the sea. All other hardships dimmed in comparison.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Waggoner, Susan. It’s A Wonderful Christmas, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2004.


The Story Behind “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

On July 9, 1861, the screams of his wife, Fanny, wakened Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from a nap to the horror of finding her dress ablaze. Instantly awake, he tried to smother the flames with a rug. When that didn’t work, he used his body. By the time the fire was out, Fanny’s burns were too severe to survive. She died the next day. Longfellow’s face was burned so badly that he was unable to attend the funeral with his five children.

That wasn’t Henry’s only turmoil as Civil War ravaged the country. In March of 1863, Henry’s oldest son, Charles (Charley) Appleton Longfellow, left his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, bound for the Union army in Washington, DC. The eighteen-year-old didn’t ask his father’s permission to join.

Charley quickly earned the commission of 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry.

Henry was dining at home when a telegram arrived on December 1, 1863. Charley had been shot in the shoulder in a skirmish in the Mine Run Campaign (Virginia) on November 27th.

Henry and his younger son, Ernest, left immediately for Washington, DC. On December 5th, Charley arrived there by train. The first surgeon alarmed Henry with news that the serious wound might bring paralysis. Later that evening, three other surgeons gave him better news—Charley’s recovery might take 6 months.

Grieving for his wife and worried for his son, Henry heard Christmas bells ringing on December 25, 1863. He picked up his pen  and wrote “Christmas Bells.”

Two stanzas from this poem written while our country was at war are rarely heard. These speak of the suffering in a nation divided:

        Then from each black, accursed mouth

       The cannon thundered in the South,

       And with the sound

      The carols drowned

      Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

      It was as if an earthquake rent

      The hearth-stones of a continent,

     And made forlorn

     The households born

     Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Families had been separated by war—some forever. Anguish overcomes Henry:

      And in despair I bowed my head;

     “There is no peace on earth,” I said;

     “For hate is strong,

    And mocks the song

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Faith and hope reach through the anguish in his soul as he hears a deeper message in the Christmas bells:

     Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;

     “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

     The Wrong shall fail,

    The Right prevail,

    With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Charley survived yet his wound ended the war for him.

In February of 1865, Our Young Folks published Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Christmas Bells.” John Baptiste Calkin set the poem to music in 1872, and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” became a beloved Christmas carol.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Ullman, Jr., Douglas. “A Christmas Carol’s Civil War Origin,” American Battlefield Trust, 2018/11/02 https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/christmas-bells.

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” Wikipedia, 2018/11/02, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Heard_the_Bells_on_Christmas_Day.

“The True Story of Pain and Hope Behind ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,’” The Gospel Coalition, 2018/11/02 https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/the-story-of-pain-and-hope-behind-i-heard-the-bells-on-christmas-day/.