Simple but Inspired Brussel Sprouts

 Well, we’re almost three weeks into 2018. I never thought to see the year 2018. It used to sound so futuristic. But here we are wondering what the year will be like—planning, thinking ahead, but knowing that “the best plans of mice and men oft go astray.”

Then there’s the Biblical proverb: “The mind of a (woman) plans (her) way, but the Lord directs (her) steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Show us your way, Lord, this year.

One thing I know I’ll be doing is cooking, unless I leave this world, of course. I’ll probably be looking for new vegetable recipes and occasionally a dessert my husband and I can enjoy.

Speaking of vegetables, I have an interesting recipe for you today—found on the back of a carton of Brussel sprouts. You never know where a good recipe might manifest itself. So stay on the alert!

The recipe is super simple, but amazingly delicious. I predict you’ll like it even if you don’t like vegetables.

Bon Appetit!

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts with Broth

 Ingredients:

 12 medium sized Brussel sprouts

Salt and Pepper

Butter

Beef Broth

 Directions:

  1. For four people cut 12 medium sized Brussel sprouts in half.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a skillet saute sprouts for a minute in butter.
  4. Then add 1½ to 2 cups of beef broth. (I used 2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 cups hot water.)
  5. Simmer until sprouts are tender.

What I love about this recipe is that it takes all the bitterness out of the Brussel sprouts. It’s a good accompaniment for salmon.

Food for Thought:

Simplicity

Today’s recipe is simple, but it has a twist that makes it unusually tasty. A dish or meal doesn’t have to be complex to be good. Consider the traditional Christmas Dinner. We may stack our plates high with turkey and dressing, ham, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, our aunt’s favorite frozen fruit salad, two kinds of rolls, green bean casserole, carrot casserole, pecan pie and pumpkin pie.

Or if you don’t have company, you and your spouse might have ham, mashed potatoes, green beans almond and yeast rolls. The first meal is so complex you barely taste anything. But because the second is simple, the flavors are easier to savor.

I have a friend whose byword is simplicity. About a year and a half ago, her doctor put her on a strict “fodmap” diet. Since then she’s learned to concentrate on preparing the foods that are good for her with simple seasonings she purchases from spice stores. Now she’s applying the rule of simplicity to more and more of what has been a complicated life. And she’s reveling in the freedom of the change.

There are many definitions for the word “simple.” It can mean unpretentious, not complicated, humble, single-minded, with nothing added, pure or composed of a single substance, ingredient or element. Often it’s the unpretentious, the humble, the pure, the simple that are the best things in life.

You look out your window and spy a stellar jay seeking purchase on your bird feeder. The bird is striking with its bright blue feathers and totem-like black crest. You haven’t seen one since you were in the mountains on vacation. You feel a stab of joy. You sit at the table eating cookies with your eight-year-old grandson and the laughing bursts out a mile a minute. You return from a sizzling summer walk and someone offers you an ice-cold glass of water. You and your husband hold hands while you watch a Loretta Young movie.

Jesus used simple aspects of nature to teach spiritual truths. The wildflowers teach us about God’s care and provision. The fact that the tiny mustard seed grows into a large tree illustrates how the kingdom of God grows. Interesting to ponder.

Spring Flowers fit for a wedding

As I think about simplicity, one of my favorite scripture verses comes to mind. “But I am afraid . . . your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (II Corinthians 11:3 NASV). In this Corinthian letter Paul is warning one of his churches not to follow strange teachings or men who are seeking glory only for themselves.

In John 12:1-8 the Apostle John writes of how Mary of Bethany modeled the simplicity of devotion to Christ. Just before Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, He stopped for respite at the house of His friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. As He reclined at their table with His disciples, Mary left her serving to tend to her Master’s road-weary feet. But instead of using a basin of water and a towel as was the custom, she poured out her most precious possession, an alabaster bottle of pure nard she’d been saving for her own burial. She anointed and rubbed his feet with the perfume and dried them with her hair.

Mary was one of Jesus’ disciples, and she understood that soon her blessed Savior would die. She did what she could for him, not caring what people thought, but pouring out her love and grief in such a way that the fragrance of her devotion filled every room in the house. Jesus promised her that wherever the gospel spread, her story would be included.

Mary of Bethany inspires us and prods us to a magnificent single-mindedness, to a simple life of living for Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

She inspires me to think of ways I can practice this single-mindedness today: starting each day with the Word and prayer, practicing God’s presence throughout the day, praying without ceasing, praising Him for everything. Saying out loud, “I trust you Jesus,” every time you feel anxious.

To live a life that focuses on simple things—like nature, simple but savory meals and single-mindedly living for Jesus—is to live abundantly. It is to choose the best.

—RuthAnn Ridley

 

 

 

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An Inspiring Soup for Thanksgiving

Yesterday it dawned on me that Thanksgiving is next week. We hadn’t decided what we were going to do. Yikes! So we began working on it and included my co-author Dale in our plans.

Dale once taught a class on “Soup and Something,” and one of the soups was a celery bisque. It’s light, nutritious and could just be the ticket for the first course of your Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving Girl

Dale’s World:

 Celery Bisque

 Chop and Saute:

2 carrots

Several celery sticks

Several celery leaves

Small celery root, diced

2 leeks

 

Add:

Chicken stock

Peeled diced potatoes

 

Cook: 

Simmer until vegetables are soft.

Puree in blender or food processor.

Season with:

Chopped parsley

Dill

Tarragon

Black pepper

Nutmeg

 

Finish Preparing:

  1. Thin with cream
  2. Garnish with whole peeled shrimp.

 

Doesn’t that sound elegant?

 

Food for Thought:

 The warmth of soup! I’ve been yearning for soup ever since the weather turned wintry. Therefore, my menus for this week include homemade chili, Celery Bisque and Tom Kha, an interesting coconut milk and chicken soup with lemon and Thai basil.

Normally I stick with my three standard soups, but the handwriting is on the wall. It’s time to branch out. Day before yesterday, I was flipping through a notebook that has been my repository for interesting recipes over the years. At the back of the notebook there were four pages of totally forgotten soup recipes. Eureka!! I’d discovered gold.

Soup goes down smooth. It warms you up. It’s like sitting by a cheery fire when it’s snowing outside. It’s a comfort, even a joy, filling your house with tantalizing aromas, making you expectant.

It makes me think of how Jesus’ love warms our hearts, how God comforts us in troubles, and how we can live in certain expectation of Heaven because Christ paid for our sins on the cross.

Yesterday was my birthday. I was 75. Yikes! I looked up a devotional for birthdays and was comforted by the reminder that God is speaking to me personally when He says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. I am the Lord your God.” Me, lord, you call me by my name. You are my own, my God!!

It’s so good to be reminded as I struggle with aging and change that God knows me personally and that he knows the details of my troubles and is always there to comfort me. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in an affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (II Corinthians 1:3-4).

And then there’s the wonderful sense of expectation we can have in Christ because of his promise of everlasting life. I love the word expectant: “Looking forward with hope of a benefit, forseeing the prospect of succeeding to an inheritance.”

Those of us who believe in Christ can live with certain expectation, that there will come a day when God will make everything right. We can revel in a Heaven where God will wipe away all tears, where there will be eternal praise and joy. (If you haven’t read Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven, by all means do. It will increase your expectancy and your joy.)

The warmth and fragrance of a good soup is an appetizer of Heaven. Let us give thanks to him this Thanksgiving Season for all his benefits, including homemade soup.                                                                          —RuthAnn Ridley

Our Resurrected King

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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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