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 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



  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.


  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.








Posted in Entreés, Presentation, Sauces, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Inspiring Rice Vinegar Salad Dressing

An Inspiring Rice Vinegar Salad Dressing


I’m looking at the purest red geraniums I’m ever seen, a gift from our kindred-spirit cousins. The flowers reign on my side deck and are cast against a backdrop of deep green lawn and trees. We are approaching the fall season. Less heat. More rain. We’ve even had new snow on Pikes Peak. Early for Colorado Springs.

But right now I’ve been trying to think of what recipe will bring you delight. I decided on my all-time favorite homemade salad dressing. When our three children were still at home, but old enough to take care of themselves, my husband and I stepped out every Friday evening for a date night. Often we headed for a nearby restaurant called Mayfield’s. They had gourmet homemade rolls and a stellar salad dressing. Before the restaurant closed, they gave me the recipe for both, and I make the salad dressing every time we have company and sometimes when we don’t. It’s mild with a slight tang and good!


RuthAnn’s World:


Mayfield’s Dressing

You will need:

½ cup rice vinegar

1/8 cup lemon juice

1 ½ Teaspoons mustard

pinch white pepper

pinch salt

1 cup oil

1/8 cup honey


Pour all ingredients into a mason jar or cruet. I have a tall Italian looking cruet which is fun. Shake vigorously. (Or you can pour the ingredients into a bowl and beat till blended.)

Food for Thought:


You’re making a salad. You throw different things in the bowl: lettuce, tomatoes, celery, slight onion rings and maybe some craisins. Then you toss it with a salad dressing you’ve made ahead. You’ve made the salad dressing first, one you know pleases, because somewhere deep inside you, you realize it is the salad dressing that makes the salad. It is priority.


I’ve found living life according to well-thought through priorities is a great load-lifter. None of us can do it all. Some seasons of life will dictate different priorities in your cooking and in your life. Soups are more a priority in the winter than in the summer. Pie more a priority during the holidays than other seasons.

As you move into an older season of your life, you may realize it’s time to cultivate new friendships and renew old ones. Or it may be time to tend to that root of bitterness which is starting to grow within you before it gets out of hand.

Then there’s the dailies. We wake up in the morning of what bodes to be a busy day. A thousand things are rolling around in our heads. But the top priority, the one that will make the day, is time with the Lord. Even if it’s only ten minutes, say, seven minutes reading the Word and three minutes praying, it will make a difference. I think it was Martin Luther who said that when he had a busy day, he spent twice as much time with the Lord. When we do this, Jesus gives the strength and insight we need for a truly successful day.

When our three children were little, I would ask the Lord each morning: what one thing do you want me to do today? What is your priority for me? At the end of the day, if all I got done was that one thing, I felt before the Lord, it had been, a successful day.

Another hint for ferreting out the priorities is to make a list of things you feel you need to do that day, then rearrange the list in the order of what is priority. Here’s an example from my life.

  1. Go to the grocery store.
  2. Give three hours to part-time job (for me, writing my novel and keeping up the blog)
  3. Pay bills
  4. Exercise
  5. Write my compassion child
  6. Make my husband’s favorite dessert
  7. Pick up makeup from my Mary Kay lady.
  8. Mail letter to Stephen.
  9. Order books.


When I rearranged it, according to priorities, this is the way it looked:

  1. Part-time job (Blog is overdue)
  2. Walk (I didn’t exercise yesterday.)
  3. Mail letter. (reimbursing my son for purchasing my new Magic mouse)
  4. Pick up Make-up. (I’m totally out, and tomorrow is Sunday and church.)
  5. Order books. (Need one for a gift and two for me, I’m out of books to read.)
  6. Write my compassion child. (It’s been too long.)


As far as making a trip to the grocery store, I realized there wasn’t anything I needed that day. The bills weren’t due for three weeks. I decided to wait until Labor Day to make my husband’s favorite dessert. Then it could do double duty. The whole process of prioritizing a list was enlightening. I felt a load lifted.

Matthew 6:31 and 33 give us overall guidelines for setting priorities as we seek to walk with Christ. “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or “What will we wear for clothing?’. . . But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (NASV).

Studying the Word

Studying the Word

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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


  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


  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



Posted in Desserts, Devotionals, First Steps in Gourmet Cooking, Inspiration, Presentation, Recipes, Soups | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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


Plum Sauce

Cooked Rice




  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.





  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).



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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


  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.


  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:


“He’s risen.


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.

Posted in Devotionals, Entreés, Holiday, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

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


  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.



  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.


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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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


  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.




  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!


  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





Posted in Desserts, Devotionals, Holiday, Inspiration, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment