Celebrating the life of Janice DeVries

For as far back as I can remember I have been Grandma’s girl.  I was often told how much I looked like my paternal grandmother, literally from head to toe (she even compared our feet one day).  My love for big earrings and red lipstick stem from her influence.  If I had to choose one word to describe her it would be gregarious.  She was the life of the party and never met a stranger in her life.
Sadly we lost my grandmother to a long battle with cancer last week.  She was a tough woman who inspired us all with her determination and spirit.  I want to take a moment to celebrate her life and the legacy she leaves behind.


Fun stories and interesting facts about Grandma DeVries:

She was the baby of 12 children!
Janice Huff was a very spirited young lady in the early 1940s.  Many funny stories of her hijinks with her cousin have been shared but I think my favorite was the time she had to spend a few hours in a cell at the local police station and her friends snuck her cigarettes through the windows.  Jail was not going to stop her fun. 
One night Janice went out and throughout the night the shoulder pad of her coat kept slipping down.  She had to keep shoving it up.  Over and over, all evening.  When she arrived home and took her coat off a scared and frazzled mouse crawled out of her sleeve.  All night he had been trying to escape. 
After a whirlwind courtship, Jack and Janice went across the state line to Arizona to get married.  Why?  Because at that time Arizona didn’t require a blood test before getting married and Janice was afraid of needles.
Five of her brothers fought in World War II and they all came home safe. 
My grandparent’s loved playing cards.  After a while they stopped sitting next to each other during games because some people couldn’t be trusted not to cheat.  Often heard at the end of a game was “God damn it!  I am never playing cards with you again”, followed the next night by “Lets play cards.”
Agreed to go onto Family Fued because my Dad wanted to play.  The host was very flirty with the beautiful Mrs. DeVries.
Grandma’s mashed potatoes are a family favorite, enjoyed only a few times a year due to the huge amounts of unhealthy ingredients.  We waited eagerly all year to have them.  I’ve included the recipe below.  

Janice Huff DeVries 

February 22, 1931-December 2, 2013

October 14, 1954–Ordinarily it might be fun to be on the society page, but not so much for Janice, who had ditched work to go to the races!

At Knott’s Berry Farm with my sister Karla and cousins Janna and Jack

Celebrating 60 years of marriage. True soul mates Jack and Janice.

Grandma’s Famous Mashed Potatoes


  • Dozen potatoes
  • One block of cream cheese (8oz), softened
  • One cup sour cream
  • One stick of butter (1/2 cup), softened
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the potatoes and chop into chunks.  Boil in a large pot until soft, about 30 minutes.  Drain potatoes and place into a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper to bowl.  Mix on medium until smooth.

Channeling My Inner Housewife

Apologizes for the absence lately.  It’s been a busy few months.  Changed jobs, moved houses, started a new nutrition plan.  My head is still spinning from all the changes.  Things seem to be settling down into a new routine now though, so I can get back to some of my hobbies.

When I first moved into the cute 1940s era house with my new roommate and discovered there was no microwave and no working dishwasher my millennial generation brain was like, “What?! How can I survive without a microwave and dishwasher?” After some thought though, I decided maybe I could turn this into a modern vintage challenge.  It has been educational and sometimes frustrating but I feel I probably am better off in the long run for it.

What have I learned?

Channeling my inner 40s housewife has led to some revelations for me.

  1. Food tastes better when using fresh ingredients and not reheating in the microwave.  Okay that may seem like a no-brainer to some of you but up until recently I didn’t know grass fed beef has more flavor than regular beef and that pizza reheated in the oven is far superior to the microwave.
  2. That the classic comfort foods many of us associate with vintage cooking can be made in healthier ways to fit our more modern understandings of nutrition.  Here are two of my favorite re-imagined classics.

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe from PrimalPal.net hits the spot when you need a warm and filling “comfort” meal.  The secret to the delicious beef is cinnamon and nutmeg.  It was a first for me to use those ingredients in beef but the results were amazing.  One note, I personally thought it came out a little salty so perhaps salt to taste.

Pumpkin Pie with a Coconut Crust

Now this recipe is dairy and gluten free which I know can sound scary but trust me you won’t even miss it.  The coconut is a great pairing with the pumpkin and it fills those fall season cravings without the guilt that so often comes with it.

    Countdown to Downton: The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook

    We here at Pink Champagne & Pearls are big fans of Downton Abbey and are eagerly anticipating season three.  In honor of that we will present our “Countdown to Downton” series in the weeks leading up to the January 6th premier. 


    38 days until the premier!

    Mrs. Patmore, in the kitchen, with the knife

    I’ve been pining away these past months, suffering from Downton Abbey withdrawals. Imagine my joy then to receive my Downton Abbey inspired cookbook and pretend I was living the life of a Crawley sister, complete with my own Carson and a full retinue of servants catering to all my needs.  Well, okay, the cookbook didn’t come with all that.  A girl can dream though.

    The book is cleverly divided into two sections, the first part being “Dining with the Crawleys” and the second being “Sustenance for the staff”.  For the wealthy class at this time meals were an important part of their society and daily rituals.  Meals were a work of art steeped in tradition.  As you would imagine the recipes featured in the upstairs portion are decadent and fancy, the type of meals you would expect to be served by liveried servants with white gloves.  The downstairs section by contrast is full of hearty and traditional English dishes.  Meals that would give you energy for a full day of honest work. 

    In either case the food is delicious and it’s entertaining to try out some new dishes, many of which are not the normal fare for the average American.  Below is a sample of the recipes you’ll find within this cookbook. 

    Upstairs Recipes:
    ~ Potatoes with Caviar and Creme Fraiche
    ~ Crab Canapes
    ~ Seafood Crepes
    ~ Leg of Lamb
    ~ Roast Duck with Blackberry Sauce
    Downstairs Recipes:
    ~ Guinness Corned Beef
    ~ Bangers and Mash
    ~ Mutton Stew
    ~ Treacle Tart
    My experiences with the recipes thus far has been very positive.  I made “Mr. Bate’s Chicken and Mushroom Pie” (a creamy gravy with chicken, mushrooms and peas under a flaky, buttery crust) and “Mixed Berry Scones” (super moist, fluffy scones bursting with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries).  I took the scones to work and they were a big hit with my coworkers.  Due to the moisture in the berries the scones come out with more of a muffin consistency than the common dense consistency of the scones most of us are used to. 
    My main complaint with this book though would be the absence of pictures.  It’s a small thing but I do so love to look at those perfectly styled treats found in most cookbooks.  All in all though I would definitely recommend to all fans of Downton Abbey whether they be pros or novices in the kitchen.