Inspiring Pork Tenderloin with Blackberries

 

The cycle of seasons is upon us again. In Colorado Springs we have brilliant colors in the mountains, and in town, a week of drizzle and rain and lower temperatures that require a wrap.

Last Wednesday when my husband and I were driving to our aerobics class, we saw a crowd of red and blue and green and yellow umbrellas crossing a downtown street (with people, of course). It seemed more like London than Colorado Springs. Rainy days here tend to be the exception.

Our son from California has been here this week, and he is enjoying the rain. I loved cooking for him, bringing out some of my special recipes, of which our recipe for this month is one. It’s a recipe my co-author Dale cooked for us early on.

There’s only three ingredients, and I think you’ll have fun with it!

Brilliant fall trees

 

Pork Medallions with Blackberry Sauce

 

Ingredients

 

2 Thin Logs of Pork Tenderloin

Thawed blackberries or raspberries

4 Tablespoons cognac or red wine

 

 

Preparation:

 

  1. Thaw berries in microwave.

 

  1. Set oven at 200 degrees.

 

  1. Slice pork tenderloins into 12 medallions.

 

 

Cook:

 

  1. Sauté pork medallions on both sides.
  2. Place in warm oven to finish cooking.
  3. Pour bag of thawed berries in skillet with grease.
  4. Simmer.
  5. Mash blackberries until mushy.
  6. Add cognac or red wine. May need to add water.

Serve:

 

  1. Place sauce on bottom of each plate. Then place pork medallions on top.

 

  1. Serve with steamed carrots (place on blackberry sauce) and tossed salad.

 

Serves 4 or 5 people.

 

 

Food for Thought

 

One item you often find in gourmet recipes is a sauce that adds flair. It’s a little something added that makes a giant difference. It’s more fun than plain, more interesting than bland.

“Sauce,” in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, is defined as “A thing which adds piquancy or excitement.” To sauce something is to provide “a pleasing accompaniment or make pleasant or agreeable.”

I’d rather have pork with a good sauce than pork plain, the same with hamburger meat. One recipe our family enjoys is hamburger stroganoff. To crumbled hamburger meat cooked with onions, you add mushroom soup and sour cream and heat till its creamy. Yum!

I believe if God were going to eat a chicken breast, he would make a spicy sauce for it. He’s the God of abundance, of creativity and surprise.

One of the first sauces we learn to create when we delve into cooking is the béchamel sauce. The ingredients are simple: milk, flour, butter. There are six basic ways to vary the béchamel—mornay sauce, veloute sauce, cream sauce, Nantua sauce, cheddar cheese sauce and mustard sauce. Then there are numerous ways you can vary each of these variations! Sauces add delightful variety to the same old, same old.

God is the God of creativity. His world is filled with infinite variety. He didn’t make only one kind of tree. He made thousands of kinds with varieties within varieties. Every sunrise is different, every cloud formation an original. Every human being is unique. It’s amazing!

Madeleine L’Engle in her book Wrinkle in Time depicted a world where, after school, all the children in the neighborhood bounced their balls at the very same time and in the same rhythm. Then all the mothers appeared on their porches and called their children in for dinner at exactly the same time. Sameness. Can you imagine how boring that would be?

God is a God of sudden surprises and joy. And when we live creatively we are manifesting the fact that we are made in the image of God.

So let’s join in on some of the fun by trying out this blackberry sauce for our tender pork. Our guests will love it, and I’m sure God will be delighted.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

—RuthAnn Ridley

What God can Do

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Inspiring Orange and Coconut Cookies

This summer has been one of far-flung traveling for many people we know. My hairdresser and her husband took a cruise on the Baltic Sea. They stepped into many Scandinavian countries and also spent interesting time in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Another couple traveled to Ireland and spent several days walking green trails. A dear friend and her husband embarked on a cruise down to the Panama Canal as a 25th anniversary celebration. And I just learned that our Aerobic Class Instructor will soon vacation in Germany.

Things have changed for my husband and me, and we can’t travel as much as we used to, but we try to be creative with our time and take mini-vacations. One of my creative pastimes, as you know, is cooking. And I’ll have to tell you, I’m excited about the creative possibilities of the recipe we have for you today. Dale has outdone himself.

 

Dale’s World:

Orange Coconut Cookies

 Cookies are right for many occasions. This is an elegant cookie for special times – perhaps with a new friend and your favorite coffee.

For the Cookie – You will need:

¾ cup of Butter                                    2 cups AP Flour

½ cup of granulated Sugar                  1 ½ teaspoons Baking Powder

1 Egg                                                        ½ teaspoon of Salt

1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract                    ¾ cup of flaked Coconut

Prepare:

  1. Position one rack to the center of the oven.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix:

1, Cream the sugar and butter until smooth..

2. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.

3. Add the other ingredients and beat until thoroughly combined.

4. Portion the dough onto ungreased cookie sheets in 2 or 3 teaspoon balls. A small scoop with a mechanical release works best.

5. Press the balls of dough down with a floured fork and press down a second time at a 45 degree angle – like you usually see peanut butter cookies,

6. Bake one sheet pan at a time, for about 10 minutes.

 

For the Filling – You will Need:

 

½ cup of butter                                    2 Tablespoons of Orange juice

3 cups of Confectioners’ Sugar             1 Tablespoon Orange Extract

 

Mix:

  1. Soften the butter.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together
  3. Add more orange juice or sugar to get a nice spreadable consistency.

 

Assemble:

 

  1. When cookies are cool, frost the bottoms of half of them.
  2. Press a frosted cookie and an unfrosted cookie together to make a sandwich.
  3. Don’t eat them all – share them with someone else.

 

Inspiring Cuisine Book Cover

Our cookbook!

Food for Thought:

 

Lately I’ve been thinking a great deal about change. In other Inspiring Cuisine blogs we’ve discussed the importance of newness and variety. You may never have tried a cookie quite like today’s offering. It has coconut, and it also has a filling: an orange one. This cookie is different, fun to work on it. The change is refreshing.

But as we grow older, other kinds of change catch us unaware, leaving us in a limbo we have to fight our way through. I have a dear friend who is moving into her second month of an empty nest. She’s lonely and depressed and asking herself, “Who am I now? What am I supposed to do?”

Years ago I used to frequent a gracious old hotel called the Writers Manor. It was situated on a corner of Colorado Blvd. in Denver, and was a perfect place for a writer to seclude herself and focus on her writing. One day, however, a sign went up announcing the hotel was closing. Before I knew what had happened, they’d filled up the hotel swimming pool with dirt and razed the buildings to the ground. In their place, some company built two restaurants and a Best Buy. Can you imagine?

The first time I saw the new buildings, I was stunned. It was as if my special place had never been there. Gone forever. I shook myself. Am I losing my mind? How could change come so quickly and completely? Vanished now, a part of the past. Alive only in memory. I had to find a new place to write.

As the years go by, change leaps into our lives faster and faster. We find ourselves constantly re-adjusting. We begin to understand the concept of Future Shock. Our only hope is to focus on our Jesus, our God, who is “the same yesterday, today and forever.”(Hebrews 13:8).

“Show me the way, Lord, guide me step by step. Turn this confusion into something good as you have promised to do in Romans 8:28. ‘And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called, according to his purpose.’”

When we receive a medical diagnosis that startles us, we can remember that His compassion fails not and “His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1)

When we have to make a difficult change to our diet or move from the house we’ve always called home or deal with the death of a close friend or relative, we can claim and hold on to God’s promise: “Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not to thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

More and more these days I find myself living by the verse, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Things aren’t as easy as they used to be. I need to walk into each day of activity—whether it’s grocery shopping, working in the church library, helping a disabled friend shop, or spending the day writing—praying this verse. I sense His presence with me.

What changes are you struggling with these days? Bring them all to God. He wants us, to call unto him expectantly and watch him answer us and show us great and mighty things we know not. (Jeremiah 33:3 paraphrase).

He is faithful.

—RuthAnn Ridley

Crimson Chyrsanthemums

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An Inspired Ice Cream Dessert

Sizzling days are here, and it’s time for ice cream!

Remember the summer days when we were growing up and our relatives all got together for a picnic, and someone made home made ice cream? Everybody took part in the cranking, and we kids thought the highlight of the day was the moment the ice cream was ready to eat.

I rarely make desserts these days, but we do keep a carton of vanilla or rocky road ice cream on hand.

Our recipe today is no bake and dresses ice cream to the hilt. It’s so good your family probably won’t be able to stop eating it.

 

 

Ice Cream Dessert

 

You will need:

 

18 saltine crackers

18 graham crackers (squares)

1 stick butter

1 quart butter pecan ice cream (softened)

2 3 oz. vanilla instant pudding

9 oz. cool whip

Crushed Heath bars

Pam

 

Preparation:

 1.Take cool whip and ice cream out of the refrigerator so they will soften.

2.Crush Heath bars. I place the unopened bars on a piece of wax paper and use a hammer to crush them.

Mix:

 1. Crush both kinds of crackers in blender.

2. Melt 1 stick butter.

3. Mix with crumbs.

4. Press into a 9×13 inch pan sprayed with Pam.

5. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes

6. While crust is freezing, beat ice cream, instant puddings and 1 cup milk until smooth.

7. Take out the crust and on top of it layer ice cream mix, then cool whip and then crushed heath bars.

8. Freeze for several hours or more.

 

Food for Thought:

This is my son David’s favorite dessert. And what a refreshment it is on a hot summer day!

I grew up in Texas and was accustomed to very hot, humid summers. One of my vivid childhood memories is hanging our freshly washed laundry on the clothesline on a hot summer day and taking frequent assessments of the clouds in the sky. I longed to go swimming that afternoon, if only it wouldn’t rain.

Jumping into the cool swimming pool after walking barefoot on sizzling concrete—what could be more refreshing? Well, there’s sipping lemonade in the cool, cool shade, sitting by a window and letting a soft evening breeze pour over you, eating an ice cream cone you just purchased at Baskin Robbins. Remember how your children used to don their bathing suits and run in the sprinkler when the sun was hot?

Refreshing is one of those wide, wonderful words that we love to see pop up in all areas of our lives. There’s a spiritual and emotional refreshing as well as physical. I think of the verse in Acts 3:9 “Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be washed away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (NASV).

Maybe we’re harboring some sin of attitude or word or action and it weighs on us. Then we remember God’s words: repent and return, confess your sins. Lord, I’ve sinned against you by——(Be specific)————————. Please forgive me and help me to do better.” The burden lifts, and we march into the day light and free.

Another wonderful word about refreshment is in Hosea 6:3. “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn, and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.”

I think of times when I’m worried about the outcome of a project or the outcome of something in one of my children’s lives. I come to the Word early in the morning and my eye falls on these words: “I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me.” I sense it deep within as a word from God.

It’s good to know today’s ice cream dessert will refresh our bodies on a hot summer day. But it’s even more wonderful to know that when we seek the Lord and listen for his voice, He will refresh our inner man.

—RuthAnn Ridley

Awe-inspiring

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An Inspired Shrimp and Mango Entree

Greetings everyone! Forgive us for being later posting than usual. Because of the wait, however, Dale has had time to create a new entree for us that is, well, I would call it fun. It’s an intriguing dish that is interesting to make and is as nutritious as it is delicious.

We are into May, warm weather, Yay! I’m wondering what your spring has been like. So many of you are from Texas, Florida, Idaho, Washington, Arizona, New Hampshire, California. Our springs here in Colorado are always tumultuous. A vivid example is the recent upset in what we thought was an early spring. Part of March and most of April were filled with warmth and flowers. Toward the end of April, to our dismay, it froze, deeply. Our lilacs were burned, and our trees boasted tons of dead leaves. Will they continue to live, I wondered? I prayed that God who is the author of life would save our trees.

Trees bear fruit. They give us a sense of expectancy, like the golden apple tree and the pink flowering plum trees and slow growing pear trees we have on our property.

Today we will be thinking about fruit, physical and spiritual.

Dale’s World:

Shrimp with Mangos

 

Mangos are one of my favorite fruits but they are problematic. It is difficult to find ripe mango in the grocery store and they are difficult to peel. So if you can’t find ripe mangos, try frozen ones. A 10 ounce bag would be sufficient but if the bag you find is larger – use all of them. I’m of the opinion that you can’t have too many mangos. Avoid the canned mangos; I tried them.

You will Need:

24 large shrimp                           1 cup orange juice

2 or 3 mangos                           1 Tbsp. Corn starch

1 red bell pepper                       1 Tbsp. Sugar

1green bell pepper                   ¼ tsp salt

½ yellow onion                         1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

2 Tbsp. Canola oil                  1 Tbs. Rum

4 Green Onions

 

Prepare:

 

  1. Defrost, peel, remove the tail, devein or do whatever you need to do in order to work with the shrimp. Shrimp is available in many forms: fresh, frozen, peeled, deveined or tail off or on. Use whatever form you prefer. The only caveat I would give is: avoid the cooked shrimp – it can sometimes be rather tasteless. If the shrimp are small, use more.
  2. Prepare the mangos: peel and cut them into bite sized pieces. Not too small. The frozen ones may require no preparation at all. Just let them defrost.
  3. Cut the tops and bottoms off of the bell peppers, and then cut them into strips ½ inch wide.
  4. Halve the onion – top to bottom. Cut off the root end and stem end then cut it in ¼ inch strips – top to bottom. Don’t chop it into small pieces.
  5. If you are using fresh orange juice (the best choice), squeeze the oranges.
  6. Stir the corn starch, sugar, Cayenne pepper and rum into the orange juice.
  7. Remove the roots and any wilted leaves from the green onions, and cut them into ½ inch sections. These are for your garnish.

 

Cook:

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on relatively high heat – ¾ power.
  2. Add the shrimp, bell peppers and yellow onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until the shrimp turn pink.
  3. Add the mangos and stir.
  4. Add the seasoned orange juice and stir until the sauce thickens.
  5. Plate up and scatter the onions over the top.

Rice, Chinese noodles or cous cous are good compliments.

Fun seafood dish with mangoes

Food for Thought

Bearing Fruit

Mangoes originated in India, where giving someone a basket of mangoes is considered an act of friendship. Dale introduced the fruit to my husband and me years ago in a delightful dish, and my husband has loved them ever since.

I love them too, but in the past have avoided fruit because of the extra calories. Now, however, the doctor has prescribed a diet that eliminates many stomach troubling vegetables. So I find myself eating more fruit. Research into their health benefits is amazing.

Take the mango. It contains over 20 different vitamins and minerals, helping to make it a superfood. The mango lowers blood sugar, boosts brain health and is possible protection from age-related macular degeneration and prostrate cancer. It lowers heart disease risk with its high amounts of pectin, low sodium levels, high potassium and high B vitamins and it contains a great deal of fiber. One cup of diced mangoes provides 100% of the daily requirement of Vitamin C. And there is much more. Wow!

I think I’ll buy a few mangoes every week.

Nutritious Shrimp and Mangoes

We always have strawberries and blueberries on hand, plus apples, but I am looking forward to summer and the many varieties of other fruits. Fruit is great with meat and fish, and bring out a big bowl, fill it with a variety of colorful fruits and you have a centerpiece everyone will enjoy.

When we think of what a boon God bestowed on the world the day He created fruits, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us that the Bible uses “fruit” as a spiritual metaphor. Sometimes God compares us to trees that bear fruit in their time. A verse I love these days is, “You will still bear fruit in old age.” I don’t want to spiritually barren as I age. I want to bear fruit for Christ till the end of my days: everything from the fruit of love to the fruit of bringing people to Christ. When I see fruit happening (often in a surprising way), I rejoice! And I praise God for His grace.

Galatians 5: 22-23 tells us “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (KJV)

Consider longsuffering, which can be translated “patience.” This week I’ve been disturbed by some workers we’ve had refinishing our deck. They had attitudes bordering on arrogance and were very pushy.

My husband Bob felt troubled too. But instead of growing increasingly resentful , he prayed about it and sensed God wanted him to be gentle with them, patient. He cooked pizza for them for lunch. They ate outside on our patio which they love, and Bob had a chance to witness to them.

He did what a true believer should have done—prayed about his attitude toward them, received a word from God, and by God’s power, exercised the fruit of the spirit: love, gentleness and patience.

I Thessalonians 5:14 says “Be patient with all men.” We can do it only by His strength.

When I pray for joy, which has trouble breaking through the barrier of my melancholic temperament, God is faithful to give it. Lately joy came with the sudden realization, that like King David, “the lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places.” How many are the blessings recently! Praise!

Our pastor has been preaching a Sunday series called “Embedded.” The main idea of this teaching is that committed believers in Christ are like nuggets, flakes,  of gold embedded in the culture, in the city, in the neighborhood, in the family. Our lives show forth Christ to everyone around them.

May we continue to seek to walk worthy of Christ, “bearing fruit in every good work” (Colossians 1:10b).

The Glory of Spring

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Inspired to Make A Spicy Sour Cream Pie

Inspired to Make A Spicy Sour Cream Pie

We have ten inches of snow here in Colorado Springs, and it’s April 4th. God says, “It’s a day to stay at home and rest.”

I’m alert to this, because I raced about too much in February and March and am now in the process of exploring and practicing different ways to rest.

One thing I do if I need to cook, is choose simple recipes made of ingredients I have on hand. This family recipe for sour cream pie is one of them, and it’s delicious.

 

Sour Cream Pie

Ingredients needed:

For the piecrust:

1 ½ cup flour

4 Tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons Shortening

3 or more tablespoons ice water

 

  1. Place all ingredients in the food processor and pulse a few times until the butter and flour are the size of fine gravel—not sand. Add 3 Tablespoons of ice water and pulse 2 or 3 times. Grab a handful of the mixture and squeeze. It if doesn’t hold together, add another Tablespoon of water and repeat the process. Pulse only a little.
  2. Roll out the dough and fit into pie plate. Pierce bottom with fork pricks.
  3. Bake in a 400 degree oven until edges are lightly browned

A Spicy Sour Cream Pie

For the filling and topping:

 

Ingredients needed:

 

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup thick sour cream

 

  1. Cook and stir in a heavy saucepan until thick.
  2. Cool these ingredients slightly. Pour them into the baked shell. Cover them with meringue made with 3 egg whites.
  3. Bake the pie in a slow oven (Around 300 degrees) for 15 to 20 minutes.

 

 

 

Food for Thought: Ways to Rest

Sometimes we realize we are exhausted and need to focus on rest, instead of work. Doctors prescribe rest, and the Word of God prescribes a rhythm of rest throughout our lives to remind us that it’s not all up to us.

Other recipes I use when I’m tired are lemon bread, ginger cookies and a tomato salad you can find in the Summer Dinner section of our Inspiring Cuisine cookbook. (Click on Get the Book at the top of our home page.)

Bob’s Aunt Lib used to say, “I don’t cook on Saturday night.” Instead Aunt Lib made Frito Chili Pies by filling individual sacks of Fritos with heated canned chili, diced onion and grated cheese. Voila! In minutes she’d thrown together a supper everyone loved.

One thing that is a must for me from time to time is to rest my mind. A way to do this is                   is to draw and jot important thoughts that come to mind in the white spaces of the page. It’s a different way of thinking.

I’m also discovering that the Adult coloring books you see everywhere these days really are good tools for calming the mind. My daughter gave me a coloring book journal for Christmas. It’s perfect: words and coloring juxta-positioned. We’ve even done some Mother/Daughter coloring in it together and felt the rest and peace grow and grow.

Of course, we also need rest for our bodies. One thing my husband and I are beginning to do, since we are now limited in how much we can travel, is plan “Stay-cations.” Sometimes we book a suite at the local Marriot Residence Inn on the other side of town and spend a long week-end reading, playing games, napping, going out to dinner. Other times we set aside a week at home for rest. We cancel all our appointments and fill the days with naps and leisure activities.

One exercise that helps rest my soul is making a list of things I’m thankful for. Another, at a different time, is to make a list of my worries. After I make the list of worries, I cast them on the shoulders of the Lord, as He has encouraged us to do. The last step of the exercise is to tear up the sheet of paper with the worries on it and throw it in the trash. Now it’s all in God’s hands.

God doesn’t want us to be racing around all the time. Can you imagine Jesus rushing? In weary, stale times, think of fun instead of duty. Try a picnic lunch of sandwiches and chips spread out on the living room floor with quilts and cushions. Top off your simple repast with a slice of spicy sour cream pie.

“Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and MY burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

May Jesus bless you with His rest today,

RuthAnn Ridley

Sleeping like a Baby

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Inspired Peach and Sausage Breakfast

What do you like for breakfast? My husband’s routine breakfast is a honey bun and coffee with cream and sugar. Mine is a fried egg with toast. My sister favors oatmeal, my daughter, toast slathered with peanut butter.

But every once in a while, all of us become bored with the same old, same old. When that time arrives, it’s fun to cook something creative, something that takes a little more time, something special for company or brunch.

Try this and enjoy the raves!

Peach and Sausage Breakfast:

2 cups pancake mix (I used a from-scratch recipe I love.)

1 16-ounce can canned peach slices

1 8-ounce package brown and serve sausage link (or little Smokies)

#

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

¾ cup maple-flavored syrup

1 tablespoon butter

 

Prepare pancake mix according to package directions except use 1 cup liquid in place of the amount called for on the package. Turn into greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish.

 

Drain peaches, reserving ½ cup syrup; set aside. Halve each sausage link crosswise. Arrange peaches and sausages atop batter. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or till wooden pick inserted just off-center comes out clean. Cut into squares.

 

Serve with Peach Syrup:

In saucepan combine sugar and cornstarch; stir in the reserved peach syrup. Cook and stir till mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in maple flavored syrup and butter till butter melts. Serve syrup warm over hot breakfast squares.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 

Fresh Peaches

Fresh Peaches

Food for Thought:

My family of origin is scattered all over the U.S. But lately they’ve all come visiting. We’ve been surrounded by family since November: two sons, a grandson, my daughter and her husband, my sister and her two boys, plus my youngest sister and part of her family for almost a week in February. I cooked to beat the band, wanting the meals to be special for these long awaited family times.

Food and fellowship so often go together. When my youngest sister was here, I whipped up an old favorite called Peach-Sausage Bake. (Yes, the very one we’re featuring.) I loved the raves and decided to adjust the recipe a bit and revive it as an important item in my breakfast repertoire. When we visited my sister in Longmont, CO., she plated up a beautiful chicken salad on greens for us, and then offered a plate of pink frosted ginger cookies, a favorite of our sister who lives in Texas. We savored the food while we chatted happily about the wonderful character of my sister’s new home and became acquainted with her sweet dog.

As the years pass, family times become increasingly meaningful. There are ups and downs, surprises and things we don’t understand. But we’ve shared so much down through the years, the bond remains. Even if it’s stretched thin, we’re still part of one another. We still need each other.

This February when my sister from Florida was here with us for several days, we worked puzzles, did creative writing exercises (She’s also a writer, and a good one too.), lunched at a French bistro (We were dressed in the French style— long earrings, scarves and black pants.) Then, since she is an avid bird watcher, we spent some time at Wild Birds Unlimited with its chimes and birdhouses and thriving aviary.

What a time we had! At one point my sister said, “I’ve felt so good this whole time. My stomach hasn’t hurt one bit.”

We both have stomach issues, but her comment made me realize mine hadn’t hurt either, and it had been three days. We decided it was because there was no stress when we were with each other. “How precious it is when brothers dwell together in harmony. It is like the precious oil upon the head” (Ref.).

Of course, it isn’t always that pleasant with everyone in the family. But when we were in Longmont, as I watched and listened to how my sisters give to each other: e-mailing, visiting, giving gifts, keeping each other in mind—I realized the secret is to keep giving to each other.

If thing aren’t going very well in our personal lives, it is easy to withdraw, to be insular, absorbed in self. But one of the blessings of the life in Jesus Christ is we are free to love, free to give, even it’s only a smile—to share, to think of the needs of others before ourselves. And we have the power in Him. “So let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9).

Next time your family comes to visit, how about preparing this unique Breakfast Treat for them. It’s a way of giving, and I bet they’ll be all smiles.

—RuthAnn Ridley

With Love

With Love

 

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Inspired Cinnamon Rolls

 

Last week Dale told me he’d had much success on his cooking day. He’d created three different recipes that turned out well. I decided that the one I’d like to use for our January blog was the one for Homemade Cinnamon Rolls. I’ve always had a soft spot for them, but hadn’t made them in a long time. Have fun!

Dale’s World:

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

When RuthAnn and I walked out of the grocery store we were pummeled by a blast of cold arctic air. We hurried to the car and uploaded the treasures we had bought into the trunk. When I got home, I immediately put the teakettle on and let it heat up while I unpacked the groceries. When the kettle whistled I mixed up a large mug of hot chocolate and grabbed a cinnamon roll that I had made earlier. Mmmmm. A cinnamon roll (I’m eating it right now) and hot chocolate is enough to make anyone thankful for winter.

This recipe is made especially moist and chewy by the inclusion of oatmeal. No one will ever guess it, unless you tell them. They will just shout, “You made these yourself? Wow!”

You will need:

For the dough:

1 cup of “old fashioned” rolled oats                  ¼ cup of brown sugar

½ cup of boiling water                                    1 pkg. (2 ¼ tsp.) dry yeast

1 ¼ cup of milk                                             1 tsp. salt

½ cup of vegetable shortening                  2 eggs

4 cups of all purpose flour

Cinnamon Roll Ingredients

Cinnamon Roll Ingredients

Prepare:

Grease a 13”x9” baking pan or –

  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment. I recommend using the sheet pan so that the rolls have room to rise and spread.

 

Mix:

 

  1. Put the oats in a large mixer bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Stir until the oats are moistened. When the mixture has cooled to warm (stick your finger in it) stir in the yeast
  2. In a small pan, mix the milk, shortening, brown sugar and salt. Heat the mixture on the range top until warm. Not hot but like you would heat a baby’s bottle. Add the milk mixture to the oat mixture.
  3. Add the two eggs.
  4. Mix until the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Add half of the flour (2 cups) and mix thoroughly.
  6. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and incorporate with a dough hook or by hand with a spoon.
  7. Knead the dough for about 7 minutes with the dough hook or by hand.
  8. Put the dough into a greased bowl and put a greased lid on top. Set the bowl in a warm place and let it rise until doubled in bulk.
  9. Meanwhile make the filling and frosting.

 

For the Filling, you will need:

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) of unsalted butter

½ cup of brown sugar

½ cup of white sugar

3 Tbsp. of ground cinnamon

 

Mix all the ingredients until smooth.

 

For the Frosting you will need:

 

4 Tbsp. of unsalted butter                  1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

2 cups of powdered sugar                   2 Tbsp. of Milk

2 Tbsp. of White Karo corn syrup

Mix:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together
  2. Add more milk or powdered sugar until you have a spreadable mixture.

 

Shape the Dough:

 

  1. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface.
  2. Cut the dough in half with a bench knife. Return half of the dough to the bowl.
  3. Flatten the dough and roll it out to a 10”x14” rectangle. The 14” edge should be horizontal.
  4. With a pastry brush (or your finger) moisten the top edge so that it will seal better when you roll it up.
  5. Spread half of the filling over the rectangle but not on the moistened edge.
  6. Roll up the pastry from the bottom to the top; like a log.
  7. Pinch the moistened edge to seal the roll.
  8. Cut the roll into six pieces and place them in two rows of three on/in your prepared pan. If the pieces are taller than they are wide. Flatten them a bit with your hand. If you want smaller rolls cut each log into eight pieces.
  9. Repeat the above procedure with the second piece of dough.
  10. Cover the rolls with a damp tea-towel and let them rise in a warm place until almost doubled.
  11. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  12. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a deep brown.
  13. When the rolls are cool enough to handle but still warm, lavishly slather the frosting on top.
  14. The rolls freeze and thaw very well so put some away to go with your hot chocolate on the next “snow day”.

 

Yummy Breakfast

Yummy Breakfast

 

Food for Thought:

There’s nothing better than a soft sweet roll. When I was in college, I loved frequenting a breakfast joint where they served an all-day cinammon roll called the Special. In the middle of the afternoon, a Special with a cup of coffee was a relaxing and delicious break from practicing the piano. (My college piano teacher expected me to practice 5 hours a day.)

The art of making sweet rolls is complex. The dough undergoes several transitions: the kneading, the rising, the shaping, the second rising, then the baking. Each transition moves something that was good into something that’s even better.

Life is filled with transitions. Americans are reeling these days because of our country’s transition from a Democratic President to an eccentric Republican President with his own ideas. What awaits our country as we move into the year? Will things be better or worse? Should we be fearful, hopeful? Emotions run high.

Emotions also run high during a person’s life transitions. They can make our inner man feel chaotic—anxiety, uncertainty, depression, speculating, postulating. The old you’re familiar with is becoming unavailable. And the new is crashing down on you with all its unknowns. Think about what it was like to move from Elementary School to Junior High or how you felt when you realized you only had a few months until retirement.

How do we weather life transitions (defined as change or moving from one condition to another) without falling apart? How do we gracefully say good-bye to the old and prepare expectantly for the new? One thing I’m learning is that it takes courage. Dale, the creator of our sweet roll recipe, and the co-author of our cookbook Inspiring Cuisine came to a point some years ago when he realized he was going to have to give up driving because of his failing eyesight. I asked him the other day what that transition was like.

He said, “At first I was relieved, because I knew it was unsafe for me to drive, but then I became frustrated because I couldn’t continue my life as before. The question always came up: ‘How can I get to where I want to go—the church service, the concert, my job across town?’

He didn’t want to become totally dependent on friends, so he began to study the bus routes, which turned out to be a gargantuan task. He said, “I learned that I would have to give up some of my expectations.” Gradually he worked out compromises like checking movies out at the library and giving up his church activities and concerts at night.

But he still lives a full life working at the church three days a week, working on his piano skills, his painting and cooking at home. He approached his situation in a creative way and so was able to move into a different, but fulfilling life. His courage is commendable.

The transition I’ve facing right now is moving from novel writing to—what? I’m not sure. As I wait on God about the next step in my life, I’m realizing I have to write. The question is, “What shall I write?” It has been two and a half months since I sent my new novel, Catching the Sunlight to an interested publisher, and still I haven’t heard from them. The first two weeks of January with all it’s grayness left me feeling useless and depressed.

Then our new pastor Tim McConnell preached a sermon on II Corinthians 1: 15-21. I’ve always had difficulty understanding the passage, but this time God opened my understanding. Verses 19-20 says, “The Son of God, Christ Jesus. . . was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him (Christ) they are yes.”

Applied to my predicament, the verses mean that a promise from God like—“I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). — is a solid rock that I could stand on in Christ. Therefore, as I seek God, I can be sure that whatever I write or accomplish this year will be “Yes,” in Christ. It will be something positive that will do others good, something God has his hand on as he watches over me with affirmation. Realizing this gives me courage.

As we make our way through the transitions of aging, we can also claim Isaiah 46:4: “Even to your old age I am He, I am He who will sustain you, I have made you; I will carry you, I will sustain you. I will rescue you.”

And I love this one. “The glory of young men is their strength; gray hair the splendor of the old.” Proverbs 20:29 NIV. So when your hair turns gray, remember it’s a splendor in the eyes of the King.

Whatever transitions we are facing, we can have an adventuring heart that moves through them with hope and peace. Why? Because Christ is there holding us up. Because He is forever faithful.

—RuthAnn Ridley

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