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)

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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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Inspiring Cherry Sauce for Meats

Hello everyone!

Merry third day after Christmas! Ours was festive and full of the people I love. Everyone, big and small, pitched in to piece together a Winter Wonderland wooden puzzle and color in a Because of Bethlehem Christmas Coloring book. We finished coloring a beautiful Christmas wreath with the caption Love is born. Hope is here.

Yes!

 This week Dale has created a unique Cherry Sauce for us today that is versatile—for Holiday use or everyday, for turkey, pork or chicken.

 

Dale’s World:

Cherry Sauce

Tired of Cranberry Sauce? Try this sauce ladled over pork, turkey or chicken. It is even good over ice cream! It only takes a few minutes to do and you will have something that everyone else is not serving.

 

You will need:

 

1 16 oz. Bag of frozen Dark Sweet Cherries         1 cup of Water

1/3 cup of Sugar                                                      1 Tbs. Cornstarch

1 Tbs. of Amoretto

Cherry Sauce Ingredients

Cherry Sauce
Ingredients

Cook:

 

  1. Pour the frozen cherries into a medium sized, non-reactive, sauce pan.
  2. Add the sugar
  3. Mix the water and cornstarch, then pour it into the pan.
  4. Cook over a medium heat until the mixture boils, turns clear and thickens.
  5. Cook for one more minute.
  6. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the amoretto. You could also use kirsch, chambord, cognac, frambois or grand marnier. Each of them will add their own subtle flavor to the sauce.
  7. God rest ye merry.

Food for Thought:

Christmas. What does it mean? It means Christ is coming. To you and me. It means glory: the stars and angels sing. It shines in the darkest part of the night. It rings through the air like bells circling, and encircling, the world.

Christmas is tenderness, gentleness, the love of a mother rubbing noses with her new born child.

Christmas is awe, the reverence of a husband wondering at the miracle, the blessedness, the favor—Emmanuel!

Christmas is hope fulfilled, the birthday of a King like no other, a King that will make all things right in you and me.

Oh Father-God, open my eyes, that I may see all these wonders you have for me. Dear Jesus, open my heart like a flower, unfurling to Thee.

—RuthAnn Ridlley

Celebrating with Cherry Sauce

Celebrating with
Cherry Sauce

 

 

 

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Inspiring Austrian Chocolate Balls

Happy Thanksgiving Season! We had our Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday at my daughter’s home in Denver. Her husband was the chef, and guess what! The meal was all vegan. Who’d have guessed it? Gavin made a “from scratch” Vegan Chicken Pot Pie for all of us, and it was delicious.

As I walked in the Denver neighborhood the next day, I spotted a neighbor hanging Christmas icicle lights. “Christmas!” I said. And he answered, “It’s that time.”

Yes, and because it’s that time, I’m sending you a recipe for one of my favorite Christmas cookies. The making of it is as fun as the eating.

(Oh! and don’t forget to click on “Get the book” at the top of the blog to find ways to purchase our cookbook for a Christmas gift.)

 

RuthAnn’s World:

Austrian Chocolate Balls

You will need:

2 ounces (2 squares) unsweetened chocolate             1 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter                                                               1 egg plus 1 yoke

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract                       1 1/3 cup flour

Icing:

1 oz. unsweetened chocolate                                     1 cup powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon butter                                                   2-3 Tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

 

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

How our Grandson hung our old family ornaments

 

Cook:

  1. Melt together 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate and 1/3 cup butter over low heat. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir 1 cup sugar, 1 ½ tsp. vanilla or almond extract, 1 egg plus 1 yoke into the chocolate mixture. Blend well.
  3. Gradually stir in flour until well combined.
  4. Shape dough into ¾ inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes until firm to the touch. (Do not overbake.)
  6. Immediately remove from cookie sheets. Cool.
  7. For icing:
    1. Melt 1 oz. chocolate and 1 Tablespoon butter.
    2. Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients (under Icing above). Blend well.
    3. Dip tops of cookies into glaze to cover. Allow to dry completely before storing cookies. Put wax paper between layers.

 

Food for Thought:

Sometimes I reach for a recipe from my recipe box and encounter a dear friend or relative who is no longer in this world. I made an Ice Cream Dessert for my son last week. The recipe was given to me by a doctor’s wife who was one of the first friends I made after moving to Colorado Springs. She died twenty years ago. But this dessert is still my oldest son’s favorite dessert. This morning I grabbed a handful of recipes and saw that three of them were written by long-gone relatives and a friend who had moved to New York and died an untimely death.

It’s good to remember the way we used to be, the way we laughed and talked about art, enjoyed home-cooked meals together (My husband’s mom made a knock-out Hawaiian Pork) or did Bible Study together and discussed the conundrum of how you can be saved without works.

It is good to thank God for what was. But it is also good to thank God for each of those we love now while we still have them. Last week we received news that a dear friend of ours died in a fiery automobile accident. We had had lunch with Janice and her husband Josh this summer for the first time in years. It was a wonderful time of reconnecting, and rejoicing at what God was doing in their evangelical ministry. She was still sparkly and so alive, and fun! How could she be gone? How?

We never know when someone we love will die. Only God does, and the Word says, “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

He is the one in the end who plans and controls each day of our lives. Kristee, a missionary to South America tells of how unpredictable the rains are in the jungle. Their church meets under a tree, and one day her friend pointed out that in all the Sundays they had met for church under that tree, it had never rained. Amazing provision!

“In your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16b). God plans and controls our lives far more than we realize.

Let us thank Him this Thanksgiving season for the loved ones around us because we never know when their time will come. And let us thank Him for his eternal Presence with us, forever there to comfort and guide.

—RuthAnn Ridley

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An Inspiring Focus on Chicken with Plums

Autumn has had a heyday in our corner of the world this year. It goes on and on. Our black maple turned colors for the first time since we’ve lived here. The leaves are a variegated yellow and orange with tints of rust. I’m going to make an arrangement of them for a painting or for our dining room wall.

It’s the first of November, and I think I missed writing a September blog, much less October. Reason: I’ve been immersed in finishing a novel I’ve been working on for years. Title: Catching the Sunlight. Finally it’s done! Now it’s back to the real world.

Dale has a creative chicken entrée with an Oriental touch for us today. Have fun with it!

And remember our cookbook Inspiring Cuisine makes a Great Christmas Gift. Order from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com or check our Get the Book tab at the top of our home page for more options and info. The byline of the cookbook reads Dale McClure and RuthAnn Ridley.

Dale’s World:

Chicken with Plums

Plums are plentiful in late summer. But if you missed the plums, canned ones will work for this tangy Oriental dish.

You will need:

4 Chicken Breasts                        3 Tbs. Cornstarch

2 Tbs. Canola Oil                        ¾ cup of Water

4 large red plums                        2 tsp. Salt

1 cup of Plum Wine                        2 tsp. Garlic Powder

2 tsp. Black Pepper

2 tsp. Ground Ginger

Fresh Plums

Fresh Plums

 

Prepare:

  1. Wash the plums and cut them in half around the seed. Twist the two halves until they come apart. Pull the seed out and cut the plums into eight or so segments each. Don’t peel the plums. You need the skins for their sour flavor. The peel also provides the natural red color. If the plums are small get more than four. You can’t get too many.
  2. In a small bowl or ramekin, mix the salt, garlic powder, black pepper and ground ginger.
  3. In another small bowl mix the cornstarch and water.
  4. Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cook:

  1. Heat the canola oil in a skillet. Brown the presentation side of the chicken breasts. Only brown them for color; they will be fully cooked in the oven.
  2. Place the chicken in a baking dish and sprinkle the seasoning mix on both sides of the chicken. Bake the chicken until the breasts reach 165 degrees. That will take 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. In the skillet in which you browned the chicken, pour the cup of wine. If you cannot find plum wine, use any white wine or pink Zinfandel. Turn the heat all the way up and reduce the wine by one half.
  4. After the wine has been reduced add the plums and sugar to the skillet. Place a lid on the skillet; turn the heat down to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. After the sauce has simmered, add the cornstarch and water. Cook over a medium heat until the sauce is thickened and is clear once again.
  6. When the chicken is done. Pour the sauce over the chicken.
  7. You might want to serve this with rice and a small salad of oriental vegetables.

 

Tangy Oriental Chicken

Tangy Oriental Chicken

 

Food for Thought

 When we enter our kitchens with the desire to create a fine meal for family or guests, we need Focus. This is not easy for me. If someone talks to me while I’m cooking, I get addled and fuzzy-minded, a perfect set-up for forgetting to put the egg in the pudding or burning the bacon.

We need focus when we’re driving on the Interstate, when we’re grocery shopping and need to stay within the budget, when we’re preparing a speech, when we’re watching a toddler, when we’re taking care of a rose garden.

Suppose you are learning a piano piece you always wanted to be able to play, perhaps Malaguena. There is one line in the piece you never seem to get right. If you keep racing over that section in a stumbling manner and never stop to focus on it, to analyze the fingering, to perfect the rhythm, to practice making big leaps—it will always be a glitch in an otherwise beautifully performed piece. But if you focus for awhile on practicing just that one line or measure, you’ll eventually conquer it.

The need to focus is everywhere. I think of Sully, the pilot who landed his passenger plane on the Hudson River, and everyone survived. What if, in the few minutes he had after a flock of birds slammed into his plane, he hadn’t focused? What if he’d become paralyzed by fear and had done nothing but watch the plane go down? The Power of focus—for a pilot, a chef, a artist

Thesis: If we’re ever going to accomplish anything worthwhile, we will need to learn to focus, to concentrate, to center.

It isn’t easy to focus in our 21st century world.  Cell phones constantly interrupt us, solicitors bug us on our land phones, e-mails keep pouring in, news stations and newspapers bristle with one disturbing event after another. Adolescents struggle with the need o keep up their social media image and identity. The constant barrage gives them little time to focus and contributes to a prevailing depression. What will this mean for the leaders of our next generation?

To focus means to concentrate, to come together at the center, to intensify, to collect. Concentrate means to focus all one’s power or attention on.

If we want to be prepared for emergencies, for example, if the possibility of the grid going down makes us anxious, if we’re thinking what it would be like to have no electricity for an extended period of time—no refrigeration, no heat, no light, it’s time to focus. Perhaps we’ll decide to set aside an hour each day (or a whole morning once a week) to intensify our random thoughts about preparedness. Study about it, look at catalogs, talk to friends about it, budget for it and then begin to shop regularly for the items you need. Then you will begin to accomplish something worthwhile.

Three things that will help us to focus on something we long to do is to prioritize, write it down and put it on the calendar.
1. Spend some time making a list of priorities in a given week, month or year. Look at your list, move things around, then pick one thing you’d like to begin to work on now. When will you work on it? Set a time and stick to it. Perhaps you’re aging and you don’t have a hobby. Focusing on cultivating one could make a real difference in your life. 
2. Writing I have a popcorn mind, so a writing consultant told me once. I wasn’t sure I liked the analogy, but what he meant was that I had all kinds of ideas going in all kinds of directions at any time of the day.  One of the reasons I began to write was to attain more focus, tame those divergent ideas and learn to take one idea and posthole it (go deeper and deeper into that one idea.)
When things are at perfect pitch, the words I birth are clear as images in a crystal mirror, but every thing else floats along the periphery, barely seen, not for this time, not for now.
Focusing in a calming, productive and, almost sacred practice.
  1. And that leads us to focusing on God, the most important focus in the world.  The best thing is to seek God first thing in the morning, read the Word, then let our hearts grow still until we sense His presence and hear what’s the most important thing to focus on that day.

    Focusing brings peace and power into a person’s life. It is a priceless commodity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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