Shiloh … Never Forget

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Sweetie and I have been on a Southern US Coast Tour this past month … there is so much water down this way!

I’ve also adopted the all inclusive noun-verb y’all into my western vernacular.

Yesterday we left Nashville heading to Memphis when we took a sharp left and visited the Shiloh Civil War Battlefield. Beautiful and Sacred.

My thoughts passed over the contention and anger permeating our hearts and country at this time in our history. Dissenting isn’t wrong, but civility should remain strong. Anger and hate lead to this:

I offered prays to the men known and unknown on both sides of the divide. And I pray for sweet unity and grace to fill our hearts today as we remember…and hopefully never forget.

18th Century Christmas Recipe Meets 21st Century Tech

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The Recipe!!

I have this recipe I collected from the mother of my mother-in-law twice-removed. When I was a very young mother, with very small children, my cooking repertoire was limited to easy, and then easier. This recipe kind of intimidated me.  It intimidated me  because it was a ‘steamed pudding’. Which is a yummy, slightly sticky cakey-like Christmas treat. I’ve only once eaten it at said mother-in-law, twice-removed, mother’s home … I loved it. Great-Grandma Mitchell served it warm, with a slightly caramelly sauce.  This card has been picked up time and again, carefully looked at every time I’ve opened my old recipe box for my raisin oatmeal cookie recipe, and then just as carefully placed back into the old recipe box.

Looking at the card you might think I made it all the time. It has turned brown with age, and has oily spots on it. The ingredients aren’t difficult to gather together; grated carrots, potato, and apples mixed with flour, sugar, nuts and spices. Very Christmasy. The hidden terror to my neophyte young mother’s brain was first it was cooked in a coffee can (which I never managed to save) and then the cooking method wasn’t baked, but steamed for two and one-half hours!

That cooking method and time required just totally overwhelmed me … so its yummy stickiness stayed just a memory and a maybe I’ll make that … some time, until this past week. I had the thought to make my favorite mother-in-law’s (twice-removed), Christmas memories for her Christmas gift.  The first memory was date-filled sugar cookies, and the second, of course, Grandma Mitchell’s Steamed Pudding & Dip (Sauce). The cookies took two tries to get them to look and taste as I remembered them. Then out came the daunting steamed pudding recipe. Since I still had no coffee tin (does coffee even come in a can), I opted for a large size vegetable tin (tomatoes or pumpkin pie filling sized). I mixed it up (fingers crossed since I had never seen it in its raw form) and then it was steam time.

My new best cooking friend! (Thanks Angie De)

Online I found many ways to steam foods, including puddings, but they all took the same time … lots of time. THEN I HAD THE ANSWER!! I’ll use my brand-new, only used once for ham & beans, Crockpot Pressure Cooker (which has a steam option!!). I had to read some other blogs and looked for cooking tips to figure how to adjust a 19th century recipe to a 21st century appliance.  After much sorting and hemming and hawing I decided 60% of the approximate 2 1/2 hours should do it.

I followed the steaming instructions from the how-to booklet, popped the can of pudding mix into the pot, twisted on the lid, pressed steam … set the time and pressed start. While it was doing its thing I cleaned up my kitchen … I am not a neat, nor terribly organized cook. I always have grand intentions to keep things tidy … then something happens and I’m  sweeping flour from the counter and floor. What is that sticky stuff?

The Results! Steamed Pudding via Crockpot Instant Cooker

Ding, time’s up. The cooker slowly cooled. Anticipation. When it was no longer steaming I timidly twisted the lid off and watched steamy water drops drip from the lid onto the pudding … not a good thing (hint to myself … put a foil cover on the can next time).  Using a hot pad I picked the can up, set it on a rack and let it cool a long time. It seemed like about 4 hours before it was cool enough to tip it from its tin.  Nothing happened. The pudding was stuck, even though the can was greased and floured. I tapped it, I shook it … nope. Stuck. Then I thought, it’s suction! I found a church key (can opener) and popped a tiny hole in the bottom. Voila! The pudding slid out and there it was standing on the cooling rack just like I imagined it might. I made an additional tiny pudding from the left-over mixture that wouldn’t fit in the cooking tin … it was as yummy as I remembered.

My first 19th century recipe, cooked, cooled, wrapped and dropped at FedEx for an overnight delivery. Hope she loves her box of memories.  Now that’s what I call a Christmas wrap!

Just so you know: (Great)- Grandma Mitchell passed at the age of 99 and some months (and that was like 20+ years ago) … the recipe was her mother’s if I remember the story right.

 

Gratitude: the Answer to Every Question

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Gratitude: Counting my Blessings

Today’s the day … the final gratitude challenge question day. However, this is not the answer to just one question … Gratitude is the answer to every question. In times of stress and darkness being grateful for the smallest things turns on the light. Focusing on the light rather than the darkness lifted my spirit and gave me hope.  In times of happiness and joy gratitude multiplied my joy with contentment and peace. In my times of uncertainty giving thanks for the solid things I do know increased my faith and patience.

Taking this 30 day gratitude challenge has again opened my mind and heart and soul to the abundance in and around me. The opportunity to ponder the huge things and the small gratitudes day by day has given me such a lightness of heart and I’ve been happier, even when the crazies happen. I fear less and hope more. My eyes looked up from the paths of my feet; looked up at the light, and left the darkness behind (even if just for a short time).

My thought for the day is this: I will wrap gratitude around every thought,  in every blessing and through every trial and every pain, and I will see the abundance of blessings overflow in my heart and in my life.   I found gratitude in all times & places.  I encourage you to seek out the gratitude in your life.  And like one of my favorite hymns “Count your many blessings name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done”.

Milk Snorts

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Sweetie, Peter, Tessa, Ali & Mala

We have a large family … spread over a couple of few states … we have friends and acquaintances around the world; could I pick one to say they are whom I am grateful for today? Nope. Can’t do it.  Can’t make me pick one. They all make our world spin perfectly on its axis, make everyday special to us just knowing they are happy and are strong of spirit and heart. When things start to spin out of control for one of them or us someone steps up and adds a steadying hand, a thoughtful prayer, a laugh in the darkness.  I have to say we do find the oddest things funny, and often at the most inappropriate times (guess that’s when they’re the funniest). We’ve had a lot of milk snorts around our tables.

Well, I said I couldn’t pick just one person for which I am grateful today … but I lied.  Today it’s Tessa’s birthday! So I can say that I am grateful for her today and grateful to have her in my life.  I love her smile. Love her sense of adventure. Love her sense of style.  Happy Birthday Tessa!  Love You 🙂

Small Things … Huge Impacts

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Middle Sister, Mom, Little Sister

For what small thing that happened today am I grateful? We often say it’s the little things that count. A kindness toward another you may think of as an insignificant action, but it may mean the world to someone else. Look people in the eye and say hello … it may be the first kind word they’ve heard today. Look people in the eye and say hello … it may be the first time they’ve been ‘seen’ today or for a long time. Send that email, or text. Make a call and let someone know they are important to you.

The small thing that happened to me today for which I am grateful was the conversation I had with my sisters. I may be the oldest, but I live a state away and they carry my part of being around for our mother. The conversation was short & small, but their loving care and example of selfless service is huge. They are the best sisters EVER!

Toothbrush … Better than a Chewing Stick?

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I don’t think I’m too weird, but the small thing that I use daily for which I am most grateful and which was the first thought that came to mind truly was My Toothbrush (in conjunction with toothpaste). I can’t quite wax poetic over dental hygiene … but, don’t you agree a fresh mouth in the morning, and a fresh mouth at night is pretty fantastic.  Such a great tool, don’t you think? Much more refreshing than say, chewing on a stick you’ve pulled off of a tree branch; although that does work in a pinch.  Can’t say much more than that … well, except I am grateful for toothbrushes.

Create, Explore, Bring New into the World

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For what form of expression am I most grateful? Well, the answer to that interesting question would be Words. The written word and worlds that they create are my favorite form of expression.  I love to write … especially if I can keep the fierce critic in my head quiet. It’s always lurking, always judging, always comparing ready to offer its negativity to encourage me to stop trying.    I’ve named it Shrew and often yell at it as did Smeagol to his Gollum looking into his mirrored reflection … “Leave and Never come back”!

It does come back, but now that I’ve named it, and imagined its form as small and weak and powerless though it keeps trying to live by sucking life off of me … sort of like Voldemort’s weak succubus fed off of poor professor Quirrell … it is easier to dismiss, and make it be quiet.

Like any negative thought once exposed to the light the darkness flees.  So whatever or whoever your inner critic is,  kick it out of it power place, and let yourself go free to express your art, music, dance, design, cook, garden, or like me, write … Just let go, create, and send it out to the universe.  You know we are meant to create, to explore and to bring new into the world.