Saturday morning was cold.  I mean really cold.  30 degrees cold.  Michael and I had spent a lot of time – and consultations with our runner friends – ensuring that Elizabeth would be warm while running her 5K – insulated running tights, long-sleeved compression shirt, t-shirt, jacket, gloves, hat, pink tutu…

Okay, the tutu wasn’t part of the plan, but her running team is called the Cherokee Pink Running Indians and the girls were supposed to be decked out in pink, so I made the tutu Friday evening.

The night before the race, Elizabeth was a bundle of nerves.  She couldn’t sleep.  She was queasy.  She was scared.  We tried to remind her that she had already completed a “practice” 5K, but she was overcome with the anticipation of the race.

On the morning of the race, I was helping Elizabeth put her gloves on when I saw she had written something on her hand.  I looked closer and this is what I saw:

10003571_10154886990645002_7609664216547338310_o I teared up a little.  When Elizabeth was in the second grade, she asked Jesus into her heart.  When it came time for her to be baptized, she was terrified.  We go to a large church and the thought of standing in front of all of those people – and t.v. cameras – was scary.  When I was helping her change into her baptism robe, I saw that she had written “Don’t be afraid” on her hand.  She said it was a reminder that she shouldn’t be scared because God was with her.

To see that she had written it on her hand again was a beautiful reminder of what we find so many times in the Bible.  Instead of letting our fears and insecurities hold us back, we should rely on God’s strength to help us push forward and soar.

Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my righteous right hand.  ~ Isaiah 41:10

We headed to the race and she said she was ready.

Christopher had a speech tournament later in the morning, so he and Michael came in a separate vehicle a little later.  It was a little funny to see Christopher walking around the race site wearing dress pants, a dress shirt, and a bow tie, but I was happy that he wanted to come and support his little sister.  I wanted to take a picture of him, but he was in a Mama, please.  It’s just a bow tie.  Go away. kind of mood.

She was so excited once we got there.

DSC_1595 There was a DJ there from a local radio station who got the girls pumped up and ready to race by playing fun dance music.  The girls lined up to dance and then suddenly, the DJ pulled Elizabeth up to the front to lead the group in dancing.

DSC_1628 She’s so shy.  Not.

One of Elizabeth’s coaches had asked her best friend to be Elizabeth’s running buddy.  We were so grateful to be paired with Kendalyn.  Such a sweet spirit!

DSC_1646 Before we knew it, they were off!  I watched as each girl crossed the finish line to cheers and cowbells.  And then I saw her coming!  Kendalyn was carrying her pink tutu – which I found out later became a bother halfway into the race. And then she finished!

DSC_1710 I snapped her picture, she took one look at me, and she burst into tears.  So did I.  It was a very emotional moment.  She has worked so hard to train for this and crossing that finish line was an incredible moment.  I’m so proud of her for not giving into her fears.  It was a really big thing to commit to something she had never done.

You know I’m going to relate this to cooking somehow, don’t you?

You’re right.

So many people are afraid to get in the kitchen and try something new.  So they stay stuck in their rut of cooking the same things – or cooking nothing. With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I would share one of the most loved – and feared – Southern desserts. Pecan pie. Pecan pie is so yummy and decadent.  But some people are a little afraid of making it.  I can remember hearing my mama say that she couldn’t make pecan pie because the filling was always so runny, you’d have to eat it with a spoon.  When I was older, I tried making it and developed a recipe that worked!

Pecan Pie

  • 1 cup Karo Dark Corn Syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon caramel extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
  • 1 frozen pie crust (NOT deep dish)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and extracts using a whisk. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crusts. Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes. Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.

Well Duh #1:  If you can’t find caramel extract, you can leave it out.  But if you can, use it!  It adds a warm depth of flavor that really makes this pie special.

Well Duh #2:  This is going to sound crazy, but I think the weather can affect how this pie turns out.  When I’ve made it on rainy days, the filling doesn’t set as well.  To combat this, add 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to the egg mixture before baking.

Well Duh #3:  In the picture, I used pecan halves, but I usually use chopped pecans.  They are usually a little cheaper and they make cutting the pie easier.

Well Duh #4:  I usually put both pie pans on a big cookie sheet to bake them.  That way, if either pie bubbles over, the filling won’t go in the bottom of my oven.

Well Duh #5:  I’ve had people ask if you pour the filling into the pie crust and then pour the pecans on top.  No.  Mix it all together and pour it in.  The pecans will rise to the top – like magic!

Well Duh #6:  If, for some reason, your filling doesn’t firm up, I have a wonderful suggestion:  it is AWESOME over vanilla ice cream.  For real!

When we were driving home on Saturday, Elizabeth took off her hat and peeled off her gloves.  “Mama, look,” she said.  “The words are gone.”

Sure enough, while she ran, the words had rubbed off her hand inside the glove.

And then she said something that made me tear up again. “The words are gone.  Just like my fears.”

God is so good.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. ~ Psalm 56:3


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