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).



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Inspiring Chicken Pot Pie for the Easter Season

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

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

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

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

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

 Dale’s World:

Chicken Pot Pie for Everyone

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

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

You will need:

For the pie crust:

1 ¼ cups of Flour                        2 Tbs. cold Shortening

6 Tbs. of cold Butter                    ½ tsp. of Salt

4 to 6 Tbs. of cold Water

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

The beauty of God's Creatures

The beauty of God’s Creatures

For the filling:

2 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts             Frozen Pearl Onions

Frozen Green Peas                                            Frozen Artichoke Hearts

Carrots                                                             ¼ cup of grated Goat Cheese

Red Potatoes

For every cup of chicken volute you will need:

 1 ½ Tbs. Butter            ¼ tsp. of Salt

1 ½ Tbs. Flour                        ¼ tsp. of White Pepper

1 cup of Milk                        ¼ tsp. of Nutmeg

½ tsp. of Chicken Base or Bouillon Granules


  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.

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Inspiring Vegetables for Frigid Days

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

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


Dale’s World:

 Autumn Medley  

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


You will need:

2 medium Rutabagas                                    ¼ cup of Water

2 medium Sweet Potatoes                        3 Tbs. Butter

16 Brussels Sprouts                                    3 Tbs. Honey

2 Tbs. chopped Chives                        ½ tsp. Salt

Winter Vegetables

Winter Vegetables


  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

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

Christmas Cake

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

A Holiday Treat

A Holiday Treat

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

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

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

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

You will need:

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

1 c. of White Granulated Sugar         1 cup Canola Oil

1 cup of Brown Sugar                           4 Eggs

1 tsp. Salt                                             ½ cup of Molasses

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

3 tsp. Ground Cinnamon                  1 cup Candied Green Cherries

2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg                           1 cup Candied or Dried Pineapple

1 tsp. Ground Cloves                           1 cup Chopped Dates

2 Fresh Pears                                    1 cup Chopped Walnuts

1 cup Chopped Pecans                  1 cup Dried Sweetened Cranberries


  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





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Thanksgiving Makes You Happy





Thanksgiving Girl

Thanksgiving Girl

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

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

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

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

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

The trick is to develop eyes that can see.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—RuthAnn Ridley

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Inspiring Ginger Cookies and Some Thoughts on Rest

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

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

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


Gingerbread cookies, soft and chewy

Gingerbread cookies, soft and chewy

Dale’s World:

Gingerbread Cookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

You will need:


2 cups of Sugar                                    1 cup of Molasses

1 cup of Butter                                    1 cup of Buttermilk

½ t. Salt                                              1 egg

3 t. Baking Soda                                    1 T. Vinegar

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

2 t. Ground Ginger

1 t. Ground Cloves

1 t. Ground Nutmeg


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

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


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

Heat: Heat your oven to 350 degrees.


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

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

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


Iced gingerbread cookies, a holiday treat for everyone

Iced gingerbread cookies, a holiday treat for everyone

Food for Thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The verse I’m meditating on this week, word by word, is Matthew 11:28-30. “Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

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

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

—RuthAnn Ridley

Inspiring Cuisine Book Cover

Our cookbook!

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An Inspired Super Food Side

This morning my writer’s critique group met for breakfast at our usual Wednesday place, The Egg and I. The first thing the waitress mentioned to us was their new offering, a Kale Cooler with Cucumber. Kale is popular these days because it contains very high levels of vitamin C, vitamin K and beta carotene.

We don’t have a kale recipe for you, but we are featuring Swiss chard which is also a super food, high in Vitamin C (good for your immune system), vitamin K (good for your heart and cardiovascular system) and carotenoids (good for anyone with a family

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

of certain eye diseases, such as macular degeneration).

We are cooking our Swiss chard with portobello mushrooms and pine nuts. The result is a delicious, nutritious side dish for any broiled meat.

—RuthAnn Ridley

Dale’s World: 

Swiss Chard with Baby Portobello Mushrooms and Pine Nuts

This is a dish of Italian flavors. If you like Italian food, you will love it. But it is definitely Italian, not Swiss. No one seems to know where it picked up the “Swiss” part in its name.

Swiss chard is a leafy green quite similar to spinach but possibly sweeter. It is not bitter like kale and its cousins. You may see more than one variety of Swiss chard in the grocery store. All of them have dark green leaves, but the stems and veins are of different colors. Some are red, some are white and some are yellow. The red stems remind me of rhubarb, in appearance only. It does not taste anything like rhubarb. I have only eaten the red and white stems, but both tasted the same. The chard with yellow stems, I have not seen but have only read about it in reference books.

You Will Need:

2 bunches of Swiss Chard                           1 teaspoon. Red Pepper Flakes

4 or 5 cloves of Garlic                                 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

8 or 10 Baby Portobello Mushrooms      Salt

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil                        2 Tablespoons. of Pine Nuts



  1. Slice the mushrooms. You can use most any kind of mushrooms in this recipe. I chose the little brown portobellos (sometimes labeled as”cremini”) because they are Italian. If you can’t find the small ones use one or more of the large ones and dice them.
  2. Squeeze the lemon juice.
  3. Strip the leaves of the chard from the stems. Save both separately.
  4. Tear or chop the leaves into smaller pieces.
  5. Chop the stems into small squares the size of the stem’s width. Keep the stems and leaves separate from each other. The stems, being tougher than the leaves, will have to be cooked longer than the leaves.
  6. Wash the stems and leaves separately and drain.


  1. Roast the pine nuts on a shallow pan in a 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Choose the largest skillet or sauté pan that you have. The greens will fill the pan but will condense when heated.
  3. Heat the olive oil in the skillet on medium heat until fragrant.
  4. Add the stem pieces (no leaves), and sauté for one minute stirring once or twice.
  5. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute for another minute.
  6. Add the mushrooms to the mix. Saute for another minute. If all of the olive oil is absorbed by the mushrooms, add a little more. It’s good for you.
  7. Add the leaves. If they are more than the pan will hold, fill the pan and set the excess aside. With a spatula press the leaved down until they begin to wilt. Stir them a bit to get the top layer to the bottom until they have all wilted. Now add all of the leaves that would not fit into the pan earlier.
  8. Once all the leaves are wilted, add the lemon juice and salt.
  9. Sauté everything together for another minute, and then they are done. There should be some liquid in the pan. If it has all evaporated, stir in a couple of tablespoons of water.
  10. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Does it need more salt? Red pepper flakes? Lemon Juice? If it needs more garlic, it is not possible to add more fresh garlic at this point, but you can add garlic powder.
  11. When you plate up, sprinkle the pine nuts on top. There is an alternate garnish. Don’t sauté a handful of the red stem pieces. Instead, blanch and shock them. This will make them slightly brighter and you can use them for the garnish.
  12. Since this side dish is a complex blend of flavors, I would pair it with a simple meat. Something broiled or pan broiled and seasoned simply.



Food for Thought:

 What happens when you add something?

 If you want your family to eat Swiss chard for its health benefits, it’s a good idea to add something to make eating it (and preparingit) a joy instead of a chore.

Dale thought of adding mushrooms, pine nuts and garlic to Swiss chard, but what else might we add, say to the process of preparing the food? What about a garlic crusher? My husband went to Trader Joe’s the other day and bought me this small tool that makes preparing garlic, yes, a joy, not a chore.

If you’re not familiar with a garlic crusher, the one I have is called a rocker. It looks like a miniature stainless steel boat with many tiny holes in the middle. You simply place it on top of your peeled garlic clove and rock it back and forth. The garlic’s juice begins to ooze out and up, and, “Voila!” you have more flavor from every clove.

I believe in simplicity. But sometimes adding something to your simple fare or usual routine is fun. It could very well brighten your day.

Years ago, I attended an outstanding seminar on Creative Hospitality.

AT one point, our leader Renee Rohrer talked about not being afraid to spend a little money to add a kitchen implement that would make things easier. “Go ahead and buy that pizza cutter. It will be well worth the cost.”

Now I think I would add to the pizza cutter, a good zester, a pretty bowl for salads and a couple of easy care tablecloths in your favorite colors.

Another area in which adding a little something can make a big difference is the conundrum of wardrobe. I’ve found that adding one accessory to an outfit can transform it. For example, I have a pink sweater set, but until recently had no pink earrings to go with it. One day I decided to check out the costume earrings where I was shopping. Can you believe there was only one set of pink earrings in the store’s wide collection? I counted them a gift from God and wore them for three straight days. Adding a small something to my wardrobe pricked a delight in me. And God loves to delight.

How about adding a date night once a month to enhance your relationship with your spouse? Or picking up the phone to call a struggling relative instead of sending an e-mail? Or writing a thank you note to your pastor or bible study teacher? How often we are helped by someone’s lecture, book, or comment, and fail to let them know!

If we want to refresh our times with God, we might add a new translation of the Bible. A friend of mine once said that every time she began using a different translation for her quiet times, she experienced spiritual renewal.

On the topic of spiritual growth, II Peter1:5-7 we find these words: “. . . make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” Peter goes on to say that if we are increasing in these qualities, we will be effective for Christ.

Which of these characteristics would you like to begin adding to your faith? Perseverance in self-control stands out to me. But I know I will need God’s help.

What happens when we add something? We might end up with a delicious vegetable dish instead of a boring one. Or we might move closer to God and experience great Joy.

Studying the Word

Studying the Word

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