A Summer Soup to Inspire

The end of July is upon us! Roses are fading, but birds are still flying through our copse of Chinese elms—chirping, squawking and  and feasting on fresh thistle and suet.

It has been a relatively quiet summer for us, but a very productive one. My husband Bob and I took a three-week stay-at home vacation which was amazingly helpful. During those three weeks we made no appointments, but wrote, studied and did projects we only wanted to. As a result both of us are feeling much healthier.

Our experience makes me think of the words written by one of my favorite contemplatives. “The speed of the modern world does violence to our souls.” Rest is good for the body and  for the soul. 

Those three weeks helped us to bring some order out of the chaos of our lives. I have some more thoughts on order and chaos. But first you’ll want to peruse Dale’s wonderful cream of asparagus soup with his unique musings. He’s even included his recipe for a strawberry summer dessert.

 

Dale’s World:

Robert (RuthAnn’s husband) came over for lunch last week. It had been a while since we had made time to talk over the problems of the world and other “man things”. We had cream of asparagus soup, ham and cheese quiche and a strawberry sundae for dessert. The sundae was a simple summer day dessert. I’ll tell you about that after the soup recipe.

I’ve always thought of asparagus as a rather exotic vegetable – probably because we never had it when I was a child. As an adult, my first exposure was to the canned variety. I liked the flavor, but the texture was not to my liking. Too mushy! On the plate, the little stalks just laid there as if they were tired. Sometime later I was feeling adventurous again, so I bought a bunch of fresh asparagus. I had no idea of what to do with it.

I got my cookbooks out to see what other people did with it. I liked Julia Child’s recipe best. It was the simplest. She had a special pan for asparagus, sort of like a coffee pot so they could cook standing up. I didn’t have one of those nor the string to tie them in a bundle, so I improvised and got great results. I loved them. Years later I found that steaming them in the microwave is easier still, and the cooking is much more even.

Another thing that I learned from Ms. Child was to peel the stalks. Breaking the ends off wastes some of the best part. Yes, cut off the dry fibrous end with a knife. Then with an ordinary vegetable peeler, remove the last one to two inches of the tough green layer. This exposes the sweet white core which is the best part.

We are not cooking the stalks whole in this recipe. We are going to make soup, an elegant soup.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

 You will need:

1 bunch of asparagus               4 Tbs. of flour

1 rib of celery                            1 cup of milk

½ of a yellow onion                 ¼ tsp. of white pepper

Water                                          Salt

4 Tbs. of butter                         ¼ to ½ cup of heavy cream

2 tsp. chicken base or bouillon granules or 2 bouillon cubes

Prepare:

  1. Trim and peel the asparagus, then roughly chop them and put them in a soup pot.
  2. Roughly chop the celery and onion. Add them to the pot
  3. Cover the vegetables with water.
The healthy asparagus

The Healthy Asparagus

Cook:

  1. Put a lid on the soup pot, and cook the vegetables until they are soft, about 45 minutes.
  2. In a smaller pan, make a roux. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the pan. Add 4 tablespoons of flour and cook over a medium heat for two minutes, stirring constantly. Do not brown the roux. When the roux is done, set it aside.
  3. When the vegetables are done, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and put them into a food processor or blender. Do not pour the cooking liquid into the food processor or blender, but save the liquid.
  4. Puree the vegetables. (You can also use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables in the soup pot with the cooking liquid.)
  5. Return the pureed vegetables to the soup pot and stir them into the cooking liquid.
  6. Add the cup of milk.
  7. Bring the soup to a simmer, and stir in the roux with a whisk until the soup is thickened. It will most likely be too thick at this point. That is how it should be.
  8. Stir in the chicken base and the white pepper.
  9. Stir in ¼ cup of cream and taste.
  10. Add however much salt is needed.
  11. The soup is most likely still too thick. So add water or milk or more cream until the soup is the consistency that you want.
  12. Strain the soup to remove any of the tough peel that remains.
  13. Serve with three drops of cream on the surface of the soup.

Strawberry Sundae

  1. Use a half-cup of strawberries for each serving. Remove their green hats and halve the berries – top to bottom.
  2. Place the strawberries in a bowl, sprinkle a little sugar on them, and hold them in the refrigerator for an hour or more.
  3. When time to serve, fill clear goblets (water goblets, wine goblets etc.) half way with the strawberries.
  4. Mound vanilla (or whatever flavor you wish) ice cream on top of the berries
  5. Drizzle chocolate syrup on top and enjoy your sundaes as you solve all of the problems of the world that Robert and I couldn’t undo.

Food for Thought:

Bringing order out of chaos is one of my favorite subjects. This is what good artists do. This is what God planned for all mankind to do because human beings are made in His image. Even when the chaos in our nation and world reigns, creating corners of order in our personal lives can soothe our souls.

Take my situation. Most days I spend the morning writing. Now, when we are talking about the process of writing a book, we are talking about research as well as writing several drafts of each chapter. Therefore, our dining table will usually be covered with books and papers tossed about randomly. Not only will there be research books, but also journals, Bibles, sketch books and a library book or two. Then there is my necessary lap top computer placed on the New American Standard exhaustive concordance with a separate ergonomic keyboard and mouse.

Then dinnertime arrives. I push the papers aside and stack the books in one place. Then I arrange the dining chairs and place two pretty plates on matching placemats. Arranged on each plate is a bowl of steaming soup, buttered slices of hot French bread and an array of relishes: baby carrots, dill pickle spears and olives. I place a folded napkin beside each plate and then a silver soup spoon, and if we have it, set a pink rose from our rose bush as a centerpiece. Order out of chaos. For the moment. But it counts. It brings a sense of well-being.

When Bob and Dale met for lunch a couple of weeks ago, they discussed uncertainties in their own lives, and I’m going to guess they also spoke their horror over the latest shooting in Dallas. They may have discussed the new ISIS dictum that faithful Muslims must kill anyone that doesn’t belong to their religion. I’m thinking they probably made a few comments about the chaos surrounding our search for a new American President we can trust. But in the midst of all these difficult topics, they were enjoying order and civility because Dale had prepared an elegant lunch for his friend. It was a victory over barbarism.

My husband Bob loves to repair things. Almost everyday lately, he’s been out in the garage, making a new step for a rotted one on our outside stair case and sanding and painting a second banister for our inside stair case to make it safer as we age. Or he may be inside on the computer looking up quality appliances for a good price. Both our dishwasher and gas grill need to be replaced. Our house could disintegrate without constant care. But my husband is keeping the chaos under control in this area of our personal lives.

Renewed Step

Renewed Step

When big things go wrong, little things can help us continue on.

The most important and effective way of bringing order out of chaos is to meet Jesus first thing in the morning and listen to His voice. If you listen long enough, he will bring order out of the scramble of your mind, speaking, deep in the center of your being, the word you need. It might be a word of approval. “You did a good job at the library yesterday.”

Or He might say, “Don’t fret about how her words wounded you. I love you with a love that never fails, and that is all that matters.”

Or He may give you a word of guidance, highlighting the task he most wants you to accomplish that day.

One of God’s job descriptions is the continuing task of bringing order out of chaos. May we continue to work at this with Him, fighting back the darkness.

“Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (I John 5:5).

—RuthAnn Ridley

 

 

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Inspiring Stir Fry with Plum Sauce

An Inspiring Stir Fry with Plum Sauce

 

Hello, everyone! We’re back after months of our Inspiring Cuisine course to teach, a slew of choir concerts to play for, and a speaking engagement for Christian Woman’s Club. Topic: the cookbook and how it all came about. God is moving.

Summer is upon us, but we’re still cooking. RuthAnn prepared Chicken Enchiladas and Calabacitas (p 92-93 in our Inspiring Cuisine cookbook) for visiting cousins and Frozen Lemon Cream Cheese Pie for a group of praying friends (found on p. 93-94   of our Inspiring Cuisine cookbook.)

And today we’re offering a stir-fry with plum sauce. It’s simple to fix and doesn’t require much time over a hot stove. Plus you can probably use some of your left-overs.

whole foods 052

 

Pork Stir Fry with Plum Sauce

You will need:

One half Pork tenderloin, sliced (this can be left over or fresh.)

Two tablespoons Oil

1 cup coarsely chopped Summer Squash

1 cup chopped Green Beans (fresh)

½ cup coarsely chopped Carrots

1 Small Onion, diced

Sweet Teriyaki Marinade (bottled or homemade)

Fresh Ginger

Craisins

Plum Sauce

Cooked Rice

 

Preparation:

 

  1. Slice pork tenderloin.
  2. Pour cooking oil into skillet.
  3. Place sliced pork tenderloin in skillet and cover with 1/3 to ½ cup marinade. Set aside.
  4. Coarsely chop vegetables, including ¼ cup fresh ginger.

 

 

Cook:

 

  1. Cook pork until lightly browned on both sides.
  2. Add vegetables and fresh ginger.
  3. Cook until vegetables are crisp-tender.
  4. Add craisins to taste.
  5. Stir in ¼ cup or more of bottled Plum Sauce.
  6. Serve over cooked rice.

 

Food for Thought:

 Sometimes when I concoct a stir fry, I throw whatever left-overs I have in without much thought. But if there are too many ingredients, if, in fact, there’s a multitude of ingredients, the stir fry is spoiled. There’s no dominant flavor, and you feel like you are eating glorified hash.

Thinking about too great a multitude of ingredients in a dish makes me remember what I’ve been studying about lately—the folly of a multitude of words.            Have you ever taken a trip with an untested friend only to discover the friend talks non-stop? How wearying that trip turns out to be! The Bible says it this way, “In the multitude of words, there lacketh not sin, but he that refraineth his lips is wise”(Proverbs 10:19KJV)

As one Celtic writer said, “Silence is luminous.”

I’ve been studying some passages that relate to Christ’s transfiguration. The context in Mark 8 speaks a great deal of Peter. The order goes like this: Peter makes his astounding declaration that Jesus in the Christ. He receives many kudos. But he lets it go to his head, and before long he’s rebuking Jesus for saying He’s going to die soon. This time, it’s not kudos he receives but strong rebuke: “Get the behind me, Satan.” Ouch! It would been better if Peter had held his tongue.

But Peter does not learn his lesson. As he witnesses the glorious transfiguration of Christ, he blurts out the first thing that comes to his mind, and this time God rebukes him. He overshadows him in a cloud and speaks, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.”

James writes that “the tongue is a fire, a world of inquity”(James 3:6a).

As it is best to think ahead, ponder about what we will put in our stir fries, so it’s best to hold our tongue and ponder well before we speak.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Awe-inspiring

Awe-inspiring

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Inspiring Chicken Pot Pie for the Easter Season

What a wondrous sight is the light and green of spring! It gives us hope and a desire to try new things. My husband and I had a Stay-Cation recently, a long weekend in a Marriot Residence Inn way south of our home in Colorado Springs. We rested there for three days, reading, sleeping and eating, and felt as though we might as well be in California, except for the fact that it snowed. We hunkered down for that snowy night and listened to Bill Pierce’s “Night Sounds,” on the Internet.

It was a good time for my husband and me to get away for some rest and refreshment. Bob had been especially busy with leading two Bible Studies and encouraging a Navigator family whose husband and father had just died. His doctor expertise is always appreciated.

It was a good time for me  to get away for rest, also. My co-author Dale and I had just finished teaching a nine-week course at First Presbyterian Church, based on our cookbook Inspiring Cuisine. Dale demonstrated preparing some dishes from our cookbook. People partook of the finished product with glee, and I presented short Bible studies on topics such as the “The Gift of Food” and “Hospitality.”

Now we turn our faces to the future: onward, forward and upward—back to regular blogging, creating new recipes, writing a novel and painting pictures and yes, decluttering in some semblance of spring cleaning.

During our Inspiring Cuisine course, Dale told us about his newest creation, “Chicken Pot Pie for Everyone.” That’s the spring recipe we have for you today.

 Dale’s World:

Chicken Pot Pie for Everyone

With this recipe you can make a pie for any sized family. A 9X9 pan will serve six people. An 8X8 pan will serve four. If you are a family of one or two you can make individual pies and freeze the ones that you are not going to eat immediately. You can also control the size of the pie by the thickness of the layers of vegetables that you lay down. Make the layers as thick or as thin as you like. The use of artichokes and goat cheese gives this pie a slightly French twist. If you can’t find goat cheese you can use feta or ricotta. They are all part of Mediterranean cuisine.

You will need to make a chicken volute for the sauce/gravy. For a 9X9 pie make three cups and for an 8X8 pie make two cups.

You will need:

For the pie crust:

1 ¼ cups of Flour                        2 Tbs. cold Shortening

6 Tbs. of cold Butter                    ½ tsp. of Salt

4 to 6 Tbs. of cold Water

For the egg wash: 1 egg & 2 Tablespoons of milk.

The beauty of God's Creatures

The beauty of God’s Creatures

For the filling:

2 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts             Frozen Pearl Onions

Frozen Green Peas                                            Frozen Artichoke Hearts

Carrots                                                             ¼ cup of grated Goat Cheese

Red Potatoes

For every cup of chicken volute you will need:

 1 ½ Tbs. Butter            ¼ tsp. of Salt

1 ½ Tbs. Flour                        ¼ tsp. of White Pepper

1 cup of Milk                        ¼ tsp. of Nutmeg

½ tsp. of Chicken Base or Bouillon Granules

Prepare:

  1. Make the pie crust: Combine the salt and flour. Cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture. Add enough water to make the mixture hold together. Knead until it forms a ball. This can be done by hand or in the food processor. Chill for at least ½ hour.
  2. Peel and dice the potatoes. If you use the already trimmed little carrots there is nothing to do. Otherwise, peel and dice the carrots. Choose 5 or 6 of the artichokes from the package. They are most likely quartered. If that is so cut each quarter in half.
  3. Carrots for "More"

    Carrots for “More”

  4. Grate the cheese or pull it apart with little pinches.
  5. Cook the chicken in the microwave for four minutes. It will not be completely done but will finish cooking in the oven. When the chicken has cooled enough to handle, cut it into bite sized pieces.
  6. Decide how much of the chicken volute you will need – two or three cups: Melt the butter in a sauce pan, add the flour and cook and stir for one minute. If you need more butter add it until all of the flour is moistened by butter. Add the milk all at once and stir. Continue stirring and cook the mixture until it thickens. This will be a thin/medium sauce. Season the sauce.
  7. Make the egg wash: beat the egg slightly, with a dinner fork, in a small bowl or cup. Add 2 tablespoons of milk. Mix the two together with the fork.
  8. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Assemble:

  1. Lay down a layer of peas in your baking dish or dishes that is only one pea deep.
  2. Add a layer of carrots; as little or as much as you like.
  3. A layer of potatoes. Most people like potatoes. If you like them, you may want a thick layer of potatoes.
  4. Since you probably won’t want a lot of onions, just dot the surface of the potatoes with the onions.
  5. Scatter the surface with the artichoke pieces.
  6. Add the diced chicken.
  7. Is that going to be enough for your family? If not, add a few more vegetables. Is it too much or is the pan overflowing? Then take some out.
  8. Pour the volute over the layered ingredients.
  9. Sprinkle about ¼ cup of grated goat cheese over the surface.
  10. Roll out the pie crust to fit the shape of your dish. Make it slightly smaller than your dish so that the crust sets down into the dish. The edges should be rustic and uneven.
  11. Brush the crust with the egg wash.
  12. Make some steam vents in the center with a knife.
  13. Bake until the crust is golden brown.
  14. Provide something to drink and your dinner is complete.

Food for Thought:

The Joy He Brings

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

Christ is risen from the dead!

Easter Sunday is past, but the time will never be passed for rejoicing in the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. God’s Word teaches that we have many reason for rejoicing, but the resurrection of Christ has to be the most joyous reason of all.

The Psalmist writes of “rejoicing in God’s salvation, of rejoicing in the Lord, of rejoicing with gladness” that the Lord is a father of the fatherless and a home for the lonely.

The New Testament speaks of “rejoicing in hope of the glory of God” and of “being exceedingly joyful in all tribulation.”

But when Peter wrote of the resurrection in I Peter 1:1-8, he used three superlative phrases, one after another: ‘greatly rejoicing, joy inexpressible and full of glory.’

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ at the beginning of the first century was testified to by more than 500 witnesses. It brought the kind of joy that requires a multitude of bells—a carillon ringing through the countryside, heralding hope. It was a hope so real that most of Jesus’ apostles sacrificed their lives for it.

As Robert H. Mounce says, “Because He lives, we too shall live. Apart from the actual bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we would have no valid reason for believing. Because Jesus has returned from the other side of the grave we have a living hope. “Where, oh death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting” (I Corinthians 15:55).”

A favorite Easter song bids us to:

“Hear the bells ringing, the children are singing,

“Christ is risen from the dead.

“The angel up on the tombstone said, ‘Christ has risen just as He said.

“’Quick! Go tell the disciples that Jesus Christ is no longer dead.’

“Joy to the World! He is risen:

“Hallelujah!”

“He’s risen.

“Hallelujah!!!”

Our Resurrected King

Our Resurrected King

—Musings from RuthAnn Ridley

 

Scripture References: Psalms 13:5, Psalm 35:9, Psalm 63:11,  Romans 5:2b-3a, II Corinthians 7:4.

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Inspiring Vegetables for Frigid Days

Last November Dale and RuthAnn were asked to teach a ten-week course on cooking at First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs. Now fourteen of us are gathering every Wednesday night in the Staff Kitchen.

   We have finished four weeks of the course and feel God is on the move. In our hour and a half sessions we are using chapters of our cookbook to demonstrate how to prepare certain dishes. Then our students enjoy samples and meditate on topics like Hospitality and the Colors of God. We’re finding it is great fun for all. It is something tasteful, something beautiful, something creative. We need evenings like this in these desperate times.

 

Dale’s World:

 Autumn Medley  

This colorful mixture of cold weather vegetables will brighten any dinner plate, and the flavor harmonization may be something new for you!

 

You will need:

2 medium Rutabagas                                    ¼ cup of Water

2 medium Sweet Potatoes                        3 Tbs. Butter

16 Brussels Sprouts                                    3 Tbs. Honey

2 Tbs. chopped Chives                        ½ tsp. Salt

Winter Vegetables

Winter Vegetables

Prepare:

  1. Peel and julienne the rutabagas.
  2. Peel and julienne the sweet potatoes.
  3. With a paring knife trim the dried stem end from the Brussels sprouts and remove any discolored leaves.
  4. Chop the chives into ½ inch sections.
  5. Wash the vegetables.

DSCN0995

Cook:

  1. Place all the vegetables into a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Add ¼ cup of water.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and punch 3 or 4 small holes in the plastic wrap to permit excess steam to escape.
  4. Use the full power of your microwave and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. When the vegetables are fork-tender drain with a colander.
  6. Place the vegetables back into the cooking dish.
  7. Stir in the butter, honey and salt.
  8. Toss with the chives and serve.

DSCN0998

Food for Thought:

A Season for Everything

For the best taste, the gourmet chef makes it a rule to use vegetables and fruits when they are in season. A tomato, for example is tasteless in the winter months, and so it is with strawberries. The flavor of the rutabaga and sweet potato, on the other hand, are at their best in the cold months, and they contain vitamins and minerals that help us manage freezing weather.

The Word says, “There is a time (or a season) for everything” Ecclesiastes 3:1. Nature’s seasons lend rhythm to our lives: There’s spring, then summer, then autumn, then winter. This is true not only of Nature but also of the span of a person’s life. Childhood is our spring; young adulthood our summer; the middle age years, our autumn, and the elder years our winter. It is in these elder years that we scramble to accomplish the things we’ve left undone, and begin preparing for death.

It’s important we not ignore the seasons of our lives, but learn from each one so we can grow in wisdom and come into maturity in Christ.

In Psalm 90:12, Moses models a prayer for us I’ve often used as my own. “Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”

Teach me, Lord, to number my days that I may apply my heart to wisdom.

Consider the different kinds of times or seasons Solomon writes about In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

“There’s: A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot.

A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build.

A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them; a time to embrace and a time to refrain.

A time to search and a time to give up; a time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend; a time to be silent and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”

As we discussed these seasons in our Inspiring Cuisine class,we thought of how sometimes a plant that grows tall and beautiful in our garden may turn out to be a noxious weed. We need to have the wisdom to uproot it. We discussed the idea of urban renewal where dilapidated buildings are demolished to make room for something that will better meet the needs of the community. We thought about how important it was to learn discretion, to know when to speak and when to be silent; we discussed the season of suffering. There’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”(Ecclesiastes 3:4).

C.S. Lewis said, “We can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities,” when things are going well, “but pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but SHOUTS in our pains: it is his megaphone to arouse a deaf world.”

One winter I had a season of such severe depression that I had to be hospitalized for two long weeks, and when I returned home, I was still delusional, and I couldn’t eat. My husband rose to the occasion and watched over me, helped with my meds, cooked for me (which was a miracle since my husband hates cooking) and coaxed me into eating.

Soon I began seeing a counselor. The medicines, the counselor and my husband’s loving care carried me to a fresh place in my spirit and desires. God was making me a new creature, taking away my tendency to isolate myself, giving me a desire for more social interaction, a new heart for serving, and unexpected chances to do the creative work I so enjoy.

God is a God of second chances. How grateful I am!

Our father God is a God of seasons. He is also the God of Hope.

May God make you wise to number your days, evaluate the happenings and lessons in each season, and find joy in his goodness.

I pray this for each of you:

“May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope” (Romans 15:13, The Message).

—RuthAnn Ridley

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An Inspired Christmas Fruitcake, you have to Try it to believe it!

Christmas Cake

Fruitcakes have been the object of much defamation and in some cases, deservedly so. I have tried to eat some cakes that have been purchased from a mail order house and did not get past the first bite. The little town of Manitou, just up the hill from us, has a fruit cake toss every year with the misbegotten cakes. They use catapults to hurl them as far as possible! I think that after the toss, those cakes that survive intact could be used to plug potholes in the street. To be fair, I must admit that I have eaten some factory made fruitcakes that were very tasty but I prefer the ones that are home made.

A Holiday Treat

A Holiday Treat

Those cakes that are genuinely bad are so because they are hard, dry and bitter. The bitter taste comes from the candied citrus peel. The peel is naturally bitter plus all the chemicals that are used to process it makes it worse. The peel has snuck into our recipes as a substitute for fruit, but in our 21st century grocery stores we have fruit in the winter time!

The mail order cakes are dry because they must be dry in order to have a profitable shelf life. And because they are dry, they are hard.

This recipe has no citrus peel and has plenty of moisture. The moisture comes from the fresh pears as well as from the syrup that is brushed on the cake. If you do not like my particular combination of fruit – substitute any dried fruit that you like.

This recipe will fill two loaf pans or one tube (angel food) pan or you could fill any number of ramekins or small baking pans. The small ones make nice gifts.

You will need:

3 1/3 cups of AP Flour                           1 cup Orange Juice

1 c. of White Granulated Sugar         1 cup Canola Oil

1 cup of Brown Sugar                           4 Eggs

1 tsp. Salt                                             ½ cup of Molasses

1 ½ tsp. of Baking Powder                  1 cup Candied Red Cherries

3 tsp. Ground Cinnamon                  1 cup Candied Green Cherries

2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg                           1 cup Candied or Dried Pineapple

1 tsp. Ground Cloves                           1 cup Chopped Dates

2 Fresh Pears                                    1 cup Chopped Walnuts

1 cup Chopped Pecans                  1 cup Dried Sweetened Cranberries

Prepare:

  1. Line the bottom of your pans. To do so, cut parchment paper or waxed paper or brown paper to fit the bottom of your pans.
  2. Grease the bottom and sides of your pans with shortening, and then lay the paper cut outs in the bottom of your pans. Grease the paper with shortening.
  3. Dust sides and bottoms of your pans with flour.
  4. Peel and core the two pears, then chop them into small pieces.
  5. Place a shallow pan (cake pans work well) of water on the top shelf of your oven. This makes a moist environment for the cake so that it does not lose too much moisture while baking. It also helps the cakes have a shiny top.
  6. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

 

Mix:

 

  1. Pour the dry ingredients (the first 8) into a large mixing bowl and stir together. An electric mixer is not necessary or desirable with this recipe.
  2. Add the wet (orange juice, oil, eggs and molasses) ingredients to the bowl and mix.
  3. Add all the fruits and nuts to the bowl and stir well. This will be work, so you might warm up by doing a few pushups before you start mixing!

Bake:

  1. Bake the loaf pans about 2 hours then check for doneness with a tooth pick or thin knife or skewer. Insert your test instrument into the center of the cake. If only crumbs adhere to your knife, the cake is done. If wet cake batter is on your tool, continue to cook. Check for doneness every 15 minutes and clean your checking tool after each use.
  2. Tube pans will require more time and small pans will require less.
  3. Cool the cake or cakes on wire racks.

For the Syrup:

Perfect ingredients

Perfect ingredients

  1. While the cakes are cooling, mix the syrup for brushing on the cake.
  2. Mix together 1/3 cup of orange juice, 1/3 cup of Cognac or Grand Marnier and 1/3 cup of white corn syrup.
  3. When the cakes are cool enough to handle, run a thin knife around the sides of the pans and invert them.
  4. Remove the paper bottoms.
  5. With a pastry brush, brush all sides, tops and bottoms until all of the syrup is absorbed.
  6. Let the cakes rest for 24 hours in some kind of covered container. Covered cake plates work well. After 24 hours of rest they are ready to be eaten.
  7. If they are not to be eaten after the 24 hour rest, wrap the cakes with plastic and store them in your refrigerator for up to a week.
  8. On the day when they are to be eaten, take the cakes out of the refrigerator and serve them when they have warmed to room temperature.
  9. I pray that your Christmas celebrations will be filled with gratitude for Christ’s first coming and hope for his second coming. Merry Christmas—Dale McClure
Enjoy and share with friends

Enjoy and share with friends

Food for Thought

Christmas Blessings to You!

By that I mean,

May the full weight of God’s sweeping love,

—A love strong enough that it compelled Him to throw off His glory

And don a human body with miseries like yours and mine,

So He could die to release us from the burden of our sins—every pettiness, every unfaithfulness, every lie, every murderous thought, every hateful deed—

And transport us to Heaven to live, cleansed and holy, forever with Him,

Come upon you.

May it dawn upon you like a sky of fireworks!

Hallelujah! Amen!

—RuthAnn  Ridley

How our 3-year-old Grandson hung our old family ornaments

 

 

 

          

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Thanksgiving Makes You Happy

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Girl

Thanksgiving Girl

Since most of us spend a great deal of time focusing on food on Thanksgiving Day, I thought I’d skip presenting a recipe in this 2015 blog and concentrate on the reason for the season.

Everyone I ran into last Monday said “Happy Thanksgiving,” at some point in our encounter: my friend at the library, two Wendy’s employees where I picked up my usual—a junior cheeseburger with bacon—and several people at Penrose hospital where I was waiting for a chest x-ray.

After I arrived home, I began to think, “You know, you can turn that greeting around to speak a timeless truth. Thanksgiving makes us happy. I’m not talking about the holiday but the daily giving of thanks for God’s hidden blessings.

I’m not nearly as good at this daily thanksgiving as I aspire to be. But when I’m attentive to look for reasons to give thanks during an everyday day, little stabs of joy always appear upon the scene. Some examples are things like realizing that the prolific morning glories growing on my side deck near where I write are God’s special gift to me. He knows how much I love the color of blue. Other examples might be walking out of the church lobby into the fresh air of an unexpected Indian Summer Day, being blessed by the kindness in the eyes of a medical technician, having a good book to read that I can hardly put down.

In that book that is hard to put down (A Long Time Gone), the main character realizes toward the end of the story that “Like my mother before me, it had taken me a long time to realize it was time to grow up. To stop looking toward the vanishing point where horizon met sky, and instead look around where I stood, and finally see all that I’d been given” (Karen White, A Long Time Gone).

The trick is to develop eyes that can see.

Sarah Young in her devotional Jesus Calling says, “The earth still declares My Glory to those who have eyes that see and ears that hear.”

Today my husband Bob and I went to a gourmet restaurant for Thanksgiving Dinner (Our little family from Denver is coming tomorrow and I’ll stir up some lavender cookies). We decided that today we would make our time out one of continual thanksgiving. On the way home, we happened upon several potholes on different streets. Instead of complaining, I said “I’m thankful for the potholes.”

Then I laughed and admitted, “No, I’m not thankful for the potholes, but I’m thankful for all the streets that the city has repaved this year so there aren’t any potholes!!”

It was Bob’s turn to laugh. “Yes!” Even the sometime struggle to be thankful can bring gladness.

Earlier this morning Bob had read me his summary of the abundant things God had brought into our lives during the last couple of years. We were both amazed at the packed-in blessings: our first cruise, our 50th wedding anniversary, some miraculous healings, the publishing at last of our Inspiring Cuisine cookbook and extended time with our youngest son. I didn’t realize how much God had blessed us during those years.

I hope sharing these specific things from our lives will spark some memory of blessings in your life that you hadn’t thought of lately. For God is good to his own. For those who believe in Christ, He’s always sprinkling little treasures all along the way

“A life of praise and thanksgiving becomes a life filled with miracles” (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling).

—RuthAnn Ridley

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Inspiring Ginger Cookies and Some Thoughts on Rest

Colorado Springs had its first freeze night before last—29 degrees. Winter is almost here. And the holidays will be soon upon us.

If you are having trouble deciding what to give someone on your Christmas list, we have the perfect suggestion—a copy of our new cookbook Inspiring Cuisine, First Steps in Gourmet Cooking. It contains eye-catching pictures of colorful meals, a friendly conversation with personal stories and essays about cooking and how it can draw us closer to God, and recipes for sixteen meals with titles like “A Taste of Italy, An Easter Dinner and Hospitality.” Simply click on our Get the Book link above.

Meanwhile, here is one of Dale’s original recipes that I predict will bring much holiday joy.

 

Gingerbread cookies, soft and chewy

Gingerbread cookies, soft and chewy

Dale’s World:

Gingerbread Cookies

It’s a pleasant little walk from my house. I amble up Carefree Circle, turn right at the church (sometimes the carillon is playing hymns), then left at Parade Court. I make my own parade by kicking the golden leaves that fall in behind me on the sidewalk. I stop when I hear the little fountain trickling among the rocks. It’s the house where the lady lives, the one who does my alterations. I had come to pick up the pants she had hemmed for me. The store had hemmed them too long but she had them exactly right now.

As I was leaving, she asked, “Would you like a cookie?”

I thought, “Do I look like the kind of person who would turn down a cookie?” “Sure”, I said, then bit into the one she handed me.

The first thing I noticed was it was soft and chewy. Then I tasted cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. It was a gingerbread cookie! No, not a ginger snap, but a cake-like chewable. I asked for the recipe, which she gladly gave me.

As usual, I did experiments with it until I had the recipe exactly as I wanted it. There is nothing tricky about it, just don’t roll the dough out too thin. I make mine  a little under 3 eighths of an inch. They will rise a little.

Cut them in any shape you like and decorate at will. Plain is good, as well as dusted with confectioners’ sugar. They are appropriate at any time of the year, but they remind me of autumn with brown, yellow and orange leaves on the sidewalk.

You will need:

 

2 cups of Sugar                                    1 cup of Molasses

1 cup of Butter                                    1 cup of Buttermilk

½ t. Salt                                              1 egg

3 t. Baking Soda                                    1 T. Vinegar

2 t. Ground Cinnamon                           6 cups of A. P. Flour

2 t. Ground Ginger

1 t. Ground Cloves

1 t. Ground Nutmeg

Mix:

Cream the Butter and Sugar. (Beat it until it is light and smooth.)

  1. Add all the dry ingredients except the flour.
  2. Add all of the wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Gradually add the flour while mixing. Gradually adding the flour has no effect on the cookies, but it does prevent the flour from getting all over your kitchen!
  4. Mix thoroughly on a low speed.

Chill:

Cover the bowl or wrap the dough in plastic and chill for one hour.

Heat: Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Roll:

  1. Scatter your work surface liberally with flour.
  2. Divide the dough into fourths.
  3. Work with one fourth at a time and let the other portions remain in the refrigerator. It is a very soft dough.
  4. Scatter some flour on top of the dough, to prevent it from sticking to your rolling pin and roll the dough to a little more than ¼ inch thickness.
  5. Cut the dough into any shapes that appeal to you. Leaves? Gingerbread men would be outstanding! But you can’t go wrong with circles.
  6. Place the cookies on ungreased sheet pans. Parchment paper on the sheet pans makes clean up easier, but it isn’t necessary.

Bake: Bake one tray at a time for 10 minutes. Cool on racks.

Eat: Eat several before the rest of the family gets them. You might want to hide some in the freezer too!

—Dale

Iced gingerbread cookies, a holiday treat for everyone

Iced gingerbread cookies, a holiday treat for everyone

Food for Thought

Perhaps it’s time, as we approach the busy holidays, to think once more about Sabbath rest—the important spiritual principle God has given us that we often forget.

Long ago I learned a verse in the Psalms that continues to speak to me. “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows. For so he giveth his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2 KJV).

The Message translation is helpful. “It’s useless to rise early, and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?”

God created us to live in cycles of work and rest. It’s good for our bodies and good for our souls. It gives us a chance to re-evaluate and get back in touch with God.

In our cookbook Inspiring Cuisine we include a chapter called “The Great Southwest,” with a menu of steak with compound butter, homemade refried beans, calabacitas and frozen lemon cheese pie. In the “Food for Thought” section we mention that many people in the Great Southwest “still take siestas in the heat of the day. But naps are suspect in performance-oriented America.”

I love naps and always have. Perhaps that is because I’ve always been so performance oriented. To realize a nap is okay in God’s sight is so freeing, an hour’s release from my mind’s drivenness. Even though I’ve slowed down quite a bit, I still have the tendency to live a driven life: to prove I’m worthy, to please people, to finish what I start, to please God.

The need to market our cookbook with craft fairs, teas, and social media is always hovering, as is the need to work on the novel Catching the Sunlight God has called me to finish soon. There is also the need to get proper exercise and fix healthy meals and attend Bible Study and be a resource to my family. But without the proper rest, all of these “important” things will suffer.

Upon studying a prophecy about Christ’s coming the other day, I found that God said, Christ’s coming would not only bring light and joy but also freedom from hard labor. (Isaiah 9: 2, 5). Christ came to give us rest, rest from outer oppression, rest from our worry about sin, rest from working for our salvation, rest for our bodies and souls.

IN her book Sabbath Keeping, Lynn Baab quotes C.S Lewis, “Humans are both infinitely necessary and infinitely superfluous in God’s eyes.” Lynn goes on to say that six days of the week God asks us to fulfill his calling with hard work and perseverance, but on the seventh we are to rest. God is perfectly able to carry on His work without us. We can rest in that reality as we stop and rest.

The verse I’m meditating on this week, word by word, is Matthew 11:28-30. “Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from 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.”

If you’re feeling weary and burdened, maybe you need to take a day off, or even a week, to do the things you love and seek the counsel of your loving Father.

Perhaps our luscious ginger cookies will give you a chance to play and forget your worries about what to fix for the holidays. And don’t forget, our cookbook Inspiring Cuisine could make someone on your Christmas list very happy. Simply click on the “Get the Book” link at the top of our post.

—RuthAnn Ridley

Inspiring Cuisine Book Cover

Our cookbook!

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